Yuva Sai Sagar

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Month: March 2016

VIDEO: World On The Move: The Dancer

Dancer Richard Peacock explains why he is leaving the US to train with an Indian dance company in Mumbai.

Dalrymple’s world in black and white

Author and historian William Dalrymple on how he rediscovered his passion for photography.

VIDEO: India’s love of Twenty20 cricket

Why is Twenty20 cricket particularly popular in India?

India captain Dhoni not ready to retire

MS Dhoni says he has no intention of retiring after India’s World T20 semi-final exit to the West Indies.

Oil posts best quarter since mid-2015 but glut still worries | Reuters

NEW YORK Oil prices jumped more than 10 percent in March in the best quarter since mid-2015 although some analysts said the rally could fade soon as an output freeze plan by major crude exporters fails to alleviate worries of a glut.

A weak dollar and data showing a drawdown in crude stocks at the U.S. futures delivery hub helped oil settle steady to firmer in Thursday’s session.

But traders remained worried that a tentative agreement among the world’s largest producers to keep oil output at January’s levels will barely make a dent on global supplies.

Analysts said crude futures also appear to have overextended gains with a 50 percent rally since the deal was proposed mid-February, amid little improvement in fundamentals.

“Oversupply still persists due to resilient U.S. production, even if declining moderately; high OPEC output, led by Saudi Arabia and Iraq; and the gradual return of Iran starting Q1 2016,” said Mike Wittner, global head of oil research at Societe Generale.

Brent crude for May delivery LCOK6, which expired as the front-month contract, settled up 34 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $39.60 a barrel. June Brent LCOM6 closed 0.7 percent higher at $39.75.

The benchmark’s front-month soared 10 percent higher in March – its best month since April 2015 – and jumped 6 percent in the first quarter – its best quarter since the second quarter in 2015. U.S. crude futures CLc1 settled at $38.34, up 2 cents on the day, rising 14 percent in March and 4 percent in the quarter – also its biggest quarterly gain since June 2015.

In a Reuters poll, oil analysts raised their average price forecasts for 2016 for the first time in 10 months – Brent averaging $40.90 and U.S. crude $39.70 in 2016 – but cautioned the rally could fade near term.

On Thursday, the dollar .DXY hit a mid-October low, making greenback-denominated oil more attractive to holders of the euro EUR= and other currencies.

Data from market intelligence firm Genscape showed a 807,496-barrel drawdown in stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for U.S. crude futures in the week to March 29, traders said.

Inventories at Cushing have receded from record highs for two consecutive weeks, with U.S. government data on Wednesday showing a 272,000-barrel drawdown in the week ending March 25.

Total U.S. crude stocks, however, rose 2.3 million barrels last week to 534.8 million barrels, a record high for a seventh straight week.

OPEC crude output rose in March to 32.47 million barrels per day from 32.37 million bpd in February, a Reuters survey said.

Analysts also expect an April 17 meeting of major oil producers in Doha to discuss the output freeze to fall short of expectations.

“There is a clear risk of disappointment and for a temporary setback in prices ahead or immediately after the Doha meeting,” Carsten Fritsch, commodities analyst at Commerzbank, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.

(Additional reporting by Libby George in LONDON; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Amit Jethwa murder case: Gujarat HC issues notice to CBI on former BJP MP Dinu Solanki’s discharge plea

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued a notice to CBI in response to a discharge plea moved by former BJP MP Dinu Solanki in connection with the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa in 2010. Justice P P Bhatt issued notice to CBI asking it to respond by April 21.The petition was moved by former BJP MP from Junagadh, Solanki, seeking discharge in the murder case.Solanki, currently out on bail, had challenged the order of the special CBI court which had rejected his discharge plea saying that evidence against him was sufficient for trial. Solanki, who is facing trial for murder and criminal conspiracy, had claimed that the case against him was politically motivated.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jethwa had brought to light the then MP’s allegedly illegal mining activities and moved the high court against the politician and his son on June 28, 2010. However, the next day, he was murdered.

Congress backs those who trying to destroy country: Smriti Irani

Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday mounted a scathing attack on Congress, alleging its leaders extended support to those who wanted to destroy the nation ignoring the sacrifices made by the security forces.”Congress did not think twice before standing by those who shouted slogans for destroying the nation ignoring the sacrifices made by our security forces in protecting the nation,” Irani told an election meeting in Karbi Anglong.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security forces work hard and make immense sacrifices all over the country to protect the nation, she said, adding BJP would not allow a few to destroy the nation’s unity. Irani appealed to voters to bring BJP to power in Assam to ensure that “the country remains secure and united”.Women’s status in the North East is high but it was during Congress rule that a girl was dragged on the streets of Guwahati. She was referring to an incident in July 2012 when a teenaged girl was molested in full public view by a mob.”Assam is famed all over the world for Ma Kamakhya but it is indeed shameful that women no longer feel secure to step out in the streets and crime against them are increasing the state,” she said.If voted to power, BJP will set up women police stations in each district, she said, adding presently there is only one women police station in the state at Panbazaar in Guwahati.”When Goddess Laxmi comes, she does not hold somebody’s hand but comes in a lotus. So I appeal to you to press the lotus button (BJP’s poll symbol) and bring Laxmi to your state in the form of development,” the Union Minister added.

Uttarakhand crisis: Congress-BJP face challenge of keeping their flock together

Amid continuing political uncertainty in Uttarakhand, the High Court’s stay on a floor test in the state Assembly till April 7 has only added to the worries of both Congress and BJP which face the challenge of keeping their flock together for yet another week.With the Centre’s petition seeking review of the High Court’s interim order for a floor test in the state assembly posted for resumed hearing on April 6, central leaders of both parties are grappling with the task of keeping their numbers intact.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP’s Shyam Jaju and Kailash Vijayvargiya and Congress Ambika Soni and Sanjay Kapoor who arrived on Wednesday, a day ahead of the crucial floor test originally slated for today, have held closed door confabulations with party functionaries to keep their ranks together and maintain cohesion among their MLAs to meet any challenge which may lie ahead.While Soni and Kapoor left on Thursday after holding detailed meetings with party MLAs and leaders, including deposed CM Harish Rawat and Pradesh party president Kishore Upadhyay at undisclosed venues to discuss ways to keep their house in order, Jaju and Vijayvargiya kept themselves closeted with their MLAs in a hotel somewhere on the outskirts of the city to ward off the possibility of poaching.”Ambika ji and Sanjay Kapoor left today after meeting party leaders and MLAs but they will come back again to oversee things as the date of next hearing by the High Court approaches,” chief spokesman of Pradesh Congress, Mathuradutt Joshi told PTI.In the changed political scenario in the state, each and every member is important in the Assembly with an effective strength of 70. Both Congress and BJP are burning midnight oil to prevent the possibility of a dent in their fortresses.With the nine rebel MLAs breaking away, Congress is left with 27 of its own and is supported by the six-member Progressive Democratic Front, taking its number to 33 in the state assembly. The BJP on the other hand has 27 MLAs of its own and nine rebel legislators of Congress who have been disqualified by the Speaker. The rebels had gone to the court challenging the validity of the Speaker’s action on the ground that it came after imposition of President’s rule which puts the Assembly under suspended animation.If Uttarakhand High Court, which is slated to hear the petition challenging their disqualification tomorrow, revokes their suspension, BJP will have a definite edge over Congress in event of a floor test as its number will rise to 36, the majority mark in a House of 70 .The BJP also hopes that nearly half a dozen more Congress MLAs loyal to former party veteran Satpal Maharaj, who is now with BJP, may cross over to its side to further bolster its chances in case of a floor test.

Chandigarh airport to be renamed after Shaheed Bhagat Singh

The Haryana Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution to name Chandigarh airport after freedom struggle icon Shaheed Bhagat Singh. As soon as the Question Hour ended, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma moved the resolution in this regard.Later, it was unanimously passed with ruling BJP and main opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLAs supporting it.Opposition Congress MLAs were not present as they have not been attending the assembly session to protest the six-month suspension of their three MLAs for tearing copies of the Governor’s address.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the resolution passed on Thursday, Sharma told the House that the state government would soon write to the Union Civil Aviation ministry in this regard. Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had recently said that his government had no objection to the airport being named after Bhagat Singh.With the airport’s terminal building falling in Punjab’s Mohali town, Punjab government has put up signages of ‘Mohali airport’, upsetting Haryana government. The Rs 485-crore airport project is a joint venture of Airports Authority of India (AAI), governments of Punjab and Haryana.

Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who claimed leadership of Dawoodi Bohra community, passes away at 75

The claimant to the title of 53rd Dai al-Mutlaq of Dawoodi Bohra community, Khuzaima Qutbuddin, passed away in the US on thursday, according to reports. Qutbuddin, 75, had not been keeping well for sometime and was reportedly in California where he died. In a statement released by Dawat-e-Hadiyah Trust after Qutbuddin’s demise, his son Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA has been named his successor.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Qutbuddin was embroiled in a bitter legal battle of succession after his half-brother late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin passed away in January 2014. Burhanuddin’s son, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin claimed that his father had anointed him as his successor. The matter was scheduled to come up before Bombay High Court before Aprim 22 and May 2.
ALSO READ Late 52nd dai had admonished his sons for not showing respect to me: Khuzaima QutbuddinQutbuddin operated from Yeoor Hills in Thane.

VIDEO: Army leads India flyover rescue effort

Rescuers are continuing to search for survivors after a flyover which was being constructed, collapsed in Kolkata.

RAW ‘spy’ arrested: India’s request for consular access under consideration, says Pakistan

Pakistan on Thursday said it was considering India’s request for consular access to an alleged Indian spy detained in the country.”A request by India for consular access (to Kulbhushan Yadav) is under consideration,” Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in response to a question.Kulbhushan Yadhav, who was reportedly arrested in Balochistan after he entered from Iran, has been accused by Pakistan of planning “subversive activities” in the country.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Army had also released a “confessional video” of Yadav, who said he was the serving Indian Navy officer.In the video, Yadav said that he arrived in Iran in 2003 and started a small business in Chahbahar. India has acknowledged Yadav as a retired Indian Navy officer, but denied the allegation that he was in any way connected to the government.

Circular on school bags applies to all schools: Maharashtra govt tells Bombay HC

Maharashtra government on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that its circular, prescribing limits for weight of school bags carried by students, applied to all schools in the state.The schools included those affiliated to ICSE, CBSE, HSC and SSC boards, government pleader told a bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Prakash Naik. The court was hearing a PIL filed by social activist Swati Patil on the “rising” weight of school bags and its “adverse impact” on the health of children.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench asked the government to inform on the next occasion what mechanism it has put in place to ensure that the circular on weight of school bags is implemented by the school managements. The hearing on the PIL was deferred to April 28.As per the directives of the HC, the state has already issued a circular to the schools on the recommendations of a committee on the reduction of weight of the school bags to be carried by students to the schools.The state had informed the HC earlier that it had also fixed the responsibility on principals and school managements to follow this and would take action against those not obeying this rule.The government urged for disposal of the petition early this year but the HC said it would prefer to keep the matter pending as it would like to see how the policy on reduction of weight of bags was being implemented in the schools and whether action was being taken against those not following this rule.On the last occasion, government pleader Anjali Helekar had said there are 1.06 lakh schools in the state and hence it would take some time to inform them about the circular. The HC had then suggested that the state inform them through e-mail. Soon after the petition was filed, government had appointed a committee which submitted several recommendations.As per the panel’s report, students are lugging school bags 20-30 per cent heavier than what children of their age should carry. “Because of this, around 60 per cent students below the age of 10 suffer from orthopaedic as well as stress- induced ailments,” it said.The committee recommended that one book should be used for three months for each subject and the textbook weight can be reduced by using less weight paper and no hardcover. Further, it suggested use of e-classroom, audio-visual technology and other modern means for teaching.

Hosting probe team amounts to ‘clean chit’ to Pakistan: Congress

Hitting out at the Centre over the visit by a Pakistani team to probe the Pathankot attack, Congress on Thursday alleged that by hosting it the government has given a “clean chit” to the Pakistani establishment over its “involvement” in acts of terror in India.”India should have sent its probe team to Pakistan as the roots of terror are there and the conspiracy behind the attack on the strategic Pathankot air base was also planned there. In such a situation, why was the Pakistani Joint Investigation Team allowed here? Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Chief Amit Shah should answer,” party leader Kapil Sibal told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By allowing the visit of the Pakistani JIT, the government has given a “clean chit” to the Pakistani establishment on the issue of terror in India, he said.Sibal said the Prime Minister should have told Pakistan that no such team would be allowed into India until Indian investigators are permitted to interrogate terror masterminds like Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim.The Congress leader expressed shock over Pakistani spy agency ISI interrogating Indian officials and faulted the Modi dispensation for allowing such an “unprecedented thing”.The visiting Pakistani Joint Investigation Team also has an ISI official.Targeting the Prime Minister, Sibal said those who used to allege that the Congress-led UPA was offering “biryani” to terrorists, are now throwing banquets (for Pakistani JIT).”They are going to Pakistan to participate in birthday parties,” he said in an apparent dig at Modi’s surprise stopover in Lahore in December last year coinciding with the birthday of his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.”The Prime Minister and the BJP chief are embracing the terrorists and declaring our own people as terrorists. They have embraced ISI, but are dubbing (JNUSU president) Kanhaiya Kumar as a terrorist,” Sibal said as he referred to the representative of the Pakistani ISI, Lt Col Tanveer Ahmed, in the JIT.The Congress leader said whenever governments led by BJP have attempted to normalise ties with Pakistan, the neighbouring country has betrayed the trust.”When Vajpayee went to Lahore, the Kargil intrusion took place,” he said.

Flyover collapse in Kolkata kills 14; scores feared trapped | Reuters

KOLKATA, India A flyover under construction in the bustling city of Kolkata collapsed on Thursday on to vehicles and street vendors below, killing at least 14 people with more than 100 people feared trapped.

(See pictures here | See location of the flyover here)

Residents used their bare hands to try to rescue people pinned under a 100-metre (110-yard) length of metal and cement that snapped off at one end and came crashing down in a teeming commercial district near Girish Park.

“The concrete had been laid last night at this part of the bridge,” resident Ramesh Kejriwal told Reuters.

“I am lucky as I was planning to go downstairs to have juice. When I was thinking about it, I saw that the bridge had collapsed.”

Video footage aired on TV channels showed a street scene with two auto rickshaws and a crowd of people suddenly obliterated by a mass of falling concrete that narrowly missed cars crawling in a traffic jam.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose centre-left party is seeking re-election in the state of West Bengal next month, rushed to the scene.

“We will take every action to save lives of those trapped beneath the collapsed flyover. Rescue is our top priority,” she said.

Banerjee, 61, said those responsible for the disaster would not be spared. Yet she herself faces questions about a construction project that has been plagued by delays and safety fears.

A newspaper reported last November that Banerjee wanted the flyover – already five years overdue – to be completed by February. Project engineers expressed concerns over whether this would be possible, The Telegraph said at the time.

The disaster could play a role in the West Bengal election, one of five being held next month that will give an interim verdict on Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s nearly two years in power.

Indian company IVRCL was building the 2-km (1.2-mile) Vivekananda Road flyover, according to its web site. Its shares closed down 5 percent after falling by up to 11.8 percent on news of the disaster.

IVRCL’s director of operations, A.G.K. Murthy, said the company was not sure of the cause of the disaster.

“We did not use any inferior quality material and we will cooperate with the investigators,” Murthy told reporters in Hyderabad where the firm is based. “We are in a state of shock.”

NO ACCESS

A coordinated rescue operation was slow to get under way, with access for heavy lifting gear and ambulances restricted by the buildings on either side of the flyover and heavy traffic.

Police said that 78 injured had been taken to Kolkata’s Medical College Hospital after the disaster struck at around noon.

“Most were bleeding profusely. The problem is that nobody is able to drive an ambulance to the spot,” said Akhilesh Chaturvedi, a senior police officer.

Eyewitness Ravindra Kumar Gupta, a grocer, said two buses carrying more than 100 passengers were trapped. Eight taxis and six auto rickshaws were partly visible in the wreckage.

“Every night, hundreds of labourers would build the flyover and they would cook and sleep near the site by day,” said Gupta, who together with friends pulled out six bodies.

“The government wanted to complete the flyover before the elections and the labourers were working on a tight deadline … Maybe the hasty construction led to the collapse.”

(Additional reporting by Rupam Jain, Tommy Wilkes, Neha Dasgupta and Aditya Kalra and Reuters TV in New Delhi; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Nick Macfie)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Tamil Nadu polls: AIADMK mocks DMDK’s ‘Cabinet’ announcement

AIADMK on Thursday mocked Vijayakant-led DMDK for announcing ‘portfolios’ of its electoral partners if it won the May 16 assembly elections, saying such a situation would not arise.In a brief sarcastic write-up with a caricature, AIADMK mouthpiece Dr Namadhu MGR sought to compare the DMDK-PWF alliance and the DMDK leader L K Sudheesh’s announcement to a popular comedy in a Tamil movie “Oorai Therinchukitten,” that would end up in disappointment to an auctioneer.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On March 29, Sudheesh had said in Kovilpatti that the leaders of People’s Welfare Front (PWF) including MDMK chief Vaiko, state Secretaries of CPI(M) and CPI G Ramakrishnan, and R Mutharasan respectively and VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan, would be part of “Vijayakant’s Cabinet”. He also mentioned the portfolios that would be allocated to them if their Front won.”In 2014, Sudheesh claimed to become a Union Minister while fighting polls in Salem,” the AIADMK daily claimed, adding he did not win the election.”Now, you see, he has announced the Cabinet (composition) itself in a public meeting, tell us now, does not the memes and trolls by social media users against them (DMDK and its allies) have meaning,” the write-up said.By using a phrase that denoted disappointment from the comedy scene, the paper said the DMDK-PWF alliance too would face such a situation. While MDMK chief Vaiko declined the offer, the CPI(M) said such things could be discussed only after winning the polls.

CRPF jawans killed: CM Raman Singh, officials pay last respect to slain CRPF men

Senior officials and dignitaries, including Chief Minister Raman Singh and state home and police functionaries, on Thursday paid their last respects to the seven CRPF jawans who were killed in a deadly landmine blast in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.Singh and acting state Home Minister Ajay Chandrakar led their Cabinet colleagues and senior officials of the Home and police departments in wreath-laying ceremony at the ‘Mana’ police battalion camp in the state capital. The bodies of the slain personnel were brought here early today from Dantewada by choppers.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Director General K Durga Prasad, Senior Advisor in the Union Home Ministry (Left Wing Extremism) K Vijay Kumar and other paramilitary officers posted in the state also paid their last respects to their fallen colleagues.The ceremonial troupe of the paramilitary, too, took part in the ceremony and reversed their arms and sounded the bugle in respect of the martyrs. The bodies were later sent to their hometowns. Singh said he salutes the martyrs and security personnel who have taken on the duty of protecting the state and its people.”We are not going to be cowed down by this incident. In fact, we are more determined to work strongly in the Naxal- violence affected areas of the state to ensure development,” he said.The chief minister asserted that Maoists are on the back foot after successful operations against them in the state led by CRPF, BSF, ITBP and state police personnel.As many as 70 roads are being constructed in the Left Wing Extremism-hit areas of the state while a number of schools and hospitals, too, are coming up in these areas assisted by the security forces, he said.The slain personnel are Assistant Sub-Inspector D Vijay Raj, head constable Pradeep Tirkey and constables Roop Narayan Das, Devendra Chourasia, Ranjan Das, Nana Uday Singh (driver) and Mritunjay Mukherjee. They belonged to CRPF’s 230 battalion deployed in the south Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.

Once again, China blocks India’s bid at UN to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar

New Delhi: In a dramatic move, China has once again blocked India’s bid at the UN to ban JeM Chief Masood Azhar, the mastermind of the Pathankot terror attack.

According to highly placed sources in New Delhi, just hours before the deadline on Thursday, China requested the UN Committee, which is considering a ban on the chief of the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), to keep on hold the designation.

After the attack on the IAF base at Pathankot on 2 January, India in February wrote to the UN calling for immediate action to list Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

Masood Azhar in a file photo. ReutersMasood Azhar in a file photo. Reuters

Masood Azhar in a file photo. Reuters

The submission was armed with strong evidence of the outfit’s terror activities and its role in the Pathankot attack that killed seven Indian military personnel.

India also told the UN Sanctions Committee that not listing Azhar would expose it and other countries in South Asia to threats from the terror group and its leader.

The India submission was considered by the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) for technical aspects of the evidence provided. The technical team then with the support of the US, UK and France had sent it to all the members, sources said.

All were told that if there are no objections the designation will be announced after the expiry of the deadline, the sources said.

“However, hours before the deadline, China requested the Committee to hold up the banning of the JeM chief,” the sources said.

According to other government sources, the Chinese action was in “consultation” with Pakistan, which is not on the UN Committee.

The UN had banned JeM in 2001 but India’s efforts to ban Azhar after the Mumbai terror attack also did not fructify as China, one of the five permanent members of the UN group with veto powers, didn’t allow the ban apparently at the behest of Pakistan again.

Kolkata flyover tragedy: WB Governor seeks report from state govt

West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi has expressed condolence to the kin of those killed in the flyover collapse in Kolkata and sought a report from the state government over the incident.The Governor, who visited the collapse site, advised the state government that proper supervision of all under-construction flyovers and bridges across the state be done at the earliest. He interacted with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and senior officials of the state government, police and army engaged in the rescue and relief work there.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tripathi prayed for quick recovery of the wounded and expressed satisfaction over the manner in which the state agencies undertook rescue and relief works. He also urged people to come forward to help the government agencies engaged in rescue operations.

BJP not to seek or extend support to AIUDF, Congress in Assam: Amit Shah

BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday said his party would neither seek nor extend support to either AIUDF or Congress for government formation in Assam.”We are prepared to sit in opposition for even 50 years than seek support from the two parties who have betrayed the people of Assam by not solving the problem of infiltration from Bangladesh and indulging in rampant corruption,” Shah said at an election rally in Assam’s Barak Valley.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Assam cannot progress unless infiltration stops and “both Congress and AIUDF are not interested in solving this problem as they indulge in vote-bank politics.””This policy of vote-bank politics has endangered Assam’s security and deprived employment opportunities to youths of Assam,” he said.The BJP president also accused Congress and AIUDF of speaking against each other “during the day and making secret deals at night”.”Both Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and AIUDF Chief Badruddin Ajmal are the same and we are against both the parties who have done nothing for the development of Assam but have neglected the poor of the state,” he said.

PM Modi meets New Zealand counterpart John Key in US

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met his New Zealand counterpart John Key on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit here to discuss issues of mutual and international interests.”Discussing stronger India-New Zealand ties with @johnkeypm,” tweeted the Prime Minister’s Office.Modi, who arrived in Washington in the wee hours on Thursday to attend the two-day Nuclear Security Summit which is being hosted by US President Barack Obama, started his diplomatic engagement with the meeting with Prime Minister Key.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Not just cricket on the agenda, as PM @narendramodi meets New Zealand PM @johnkeypm for 1st meeting in Washington,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Hawaii to become sister state of Goa: CM Laxmikant Parsekar

The island state of Hawaii in US will become the “sister state” of Goa soon for attracting tourists and foreign investments in the coastal state. Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said an MoU would be signed between Hawaii and Goa to formalise the across-the-border partnership.”The MOU is already vetted by Ministry of External Affairs,” he said.Parsekar said, “the sister-state programme” will promote tourism and also increase the prospective opportunity for economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental exchange. He said the collaboration will also help to minimise the barriers in attracting foreign investment in tourism and the film production sector.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CM said US Congress member Tulsi Gabbard had expressed her view on strengthening the relations between two states during her visit to Goa in December 2014.The policy-makers from both the regions are interested in joining hands on various fronts like promotion of trade, tourism, sports, technology, pharmaceuticals, yoga, Ayurvedic, pilgrimage, Hawaiian products and world peace, he added.

Kolkata flyover tragedy turns into political slugfest as opposition mounts attack on Mamata

Kolkata: The collapse of a flyover that killed at least 18 people turned into a massive political slugfest in poll-bund West Bengal as the opposition mounted a united attack on the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government.

A large chunk of the under-construction Vivekananda flyover collapsed in the crowded Posta area crushing people and vehicles. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said 18 people were dead and at least 78 were injured.

An aerial view of the site where an under-construction flyover collapsed on Vivekananda Road in Kolkata on Thursday. PTI

An aerial view of the site where an under-construction flyover collapsed on Vivekananda Road in Kolkata on Thursday. PTI

The toll was likely to rise with many people feared trapped beneath the massive rubble.

Even as she said the “time was not for indulging in politics but to save lives”, the Trinamool supremo did try to shift the onus of the tragedy on the Left Front, pointing to the fact that the foundation for the flyover was laid in 2008 and work began in February 2009 when the Leftist coalition was in power in the state.

“The construction began during CPM time and not during our time. It’s not the time for politics, our focus is to save the people,” said Banerjee, who rushed to spot cancelling her scheduled poll rallies in West Midnapore district.

She also promised “stringent action” against those “guilty for the very, very unfortunate tragedy”.

The opposition, however, was not impressed and squarely blamed “corruption within the Trinamool” which incidentally has been under severe pressure over a sting operation allegedly showing several of its leaders accepting bribes.

“The CM by blaming others can’t pass the buck and misguide the people. We demand immediate arrest of the state urban development minister (Firhad Hakim) and the city mayor (Sovon Chatterjee). I will also file a public interest litigation seeking a probe in the matter,” said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress.

The Congress MP, who visited the site, also claimed police came “late to the spot” and lambasted the administration for not seeking timely help of the army.

Holding the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) responsible for the tragedy, Left Front chairman Biman Bose strongly condemned Banerjee’s “attempt to evade responsibility”.

“We have heard that the chief minister, astonishingly, has held responsible the Left Front as the construction of the flyover began during our time.

“But the question that arises is, which portion of the flyover collapsed — one which was constructed under the Left regime or that which came up under the Trinamool,” said Bose.

“We strongly condemn the chief minister’s attempt to evade responsibility by showing such excuses,” he added.

CPM leader and former urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya put the blame on Hakim.

“The present urban development minister has to shoulder responsibility. There should be a high-level inquiry,” said Bhattacharya.

Describing the incident as an example of the “corrupt ways of the Trinamool”, the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded a probe, preferably by the CBI.

“It’s an example and proof of the corruption by the Mamata government. People of the state will not forgive her. There should be an immediate probe into it,” said BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayavargiya.

BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha after visiting the side demanded a CBI probe.

Meanwhile, Governor KN Tripathi sought a report from the Banerjee government on the incident and suggested carrying out proper supervision of all under-construction flyovers and bridges across the state at the earliest.

Gujarat govt diluted UPA Land Act for sake of industrialists: Congress

Opposition Congress slammed the BJP-led Gujarat government for watering down the Land Acquisition Act passed by UPA in 2013 and burnt copies of the amended Bill which was passed in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.The opposition party said it will oppose sending of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Gujarat Amendment) Bill 2016 to President and will challenge it before High Court even if President gives his assent.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bill was passed in the House on last day of Budget session in the absence of Congress MLAs, who were suspended yesterday by the Speaker for two days. It has raised the hackles of Congress as the Bill has done away with the crucial Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for projects related to defence and social sectors. The Congress MLAs gathered near Mahatma Gandhi statue outside the Assembly today and set ablaze the copies of the Bill, terming it as “anti-people”.Before the protest, senior Congress MLA Shaktisinh Gohil announced in a press conference that his party will approach High Court if President approves it. Gohil reasoned that the bill will be eventually sent to President for his assent, as it touches a Central Act. He alleged Speaker Ganpat Vasava purposefully suspended Congress MLAs for two days to pave way for the BJP government to pass the Bill without any opposition.”When Congress was in power, we used to make sure that opposition MLAs (BJP) do not get suspension for more than one day. But, this government has set aside all such traditions. We were purposefully suspended for two days yesterday, so that the controversial land bill gets cleared today without any trouble,” he said.The Congress leader alleged the government wanted to “snatch” the rights of land-owners, which were taken into account while UPA government brought the Act in 2013.”Though government claims that the Act can be modified as it is in the concurrent list, no amendment can be made which violates the principal Act. This Bill grossly violated many such provisions. We will approach the Governor for not sending the Bill to President for his assent. We will then meet the President and request him not to sign it. Even if it gets the assent, we will knock the doors of High Court to stop the Bill from becoming a law,” said Gohil.He said the government brought this Bill only to benefit industrialists.”The Bill itself stated that 80 per cent consent of landlords will not be necessary for land acquisition for industrial corridor. This means that land will be snatched from poor farmers and given to industrialists. This is totally against the spirit of the original Act,” Gohil added.

Delayed for 7 years, the Vivekanand flyover project was the toughest bridge project IVRCL ever took on

A flyover under construction in Kolkata collapsed on Thursday, crushing 22 people and injuring 78. Several people continue to be trapped under debris.

The bridge collapsed at around 12.45 pm, on the congested road intersection in Burrabazar, in the city’s northern section.

Hyderabad based company IVRCL was tasked with constructing the 2-kmVivekananda Road flyover, a project that has been marred by delays. A representative of the construction firm, Panduranga Rao, described the accident as an ‘Act of God’. IVRCL was appointed by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) to build the flyover. The firm was unable to ascertain the immediate cause of the collapse, but it said this bridge was the “toughest project of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM) project under the KMDA”.

The company had made it clear on various occasions that the project was a very difficult undertaking due to the congested area of the intersection, which hampered the movement of the heavy equipment used for construction, according to its website.

 The Telegraph reported that IVRCL was awarded the contract on 24 February 2009 with a budget of Rs 164 crore and a deadline of 18-months. After seven years of work, the construction was reported to be in its final phases. The company had revised its deadline several times. The flyover proved to be a hindrance for traffic on the intersection. Many residents in the area complained about the delay in the project.

When reporters asked company officials about the delay in the project and the cause for collapse, Rao said, “The bridge collapse was an act of God. Out of the 70 spans, 69 spans were completed without a problem. There was a strict process of checking from consultants and clients. We are shocked to know how the instance occurred.”

West Bengal Cheif Minister Mamata Banerjee chose to blame the previous government for the collapse. “The construction of the bridge started in the year 2008, during the time of CPM,” she said. “But now the crisis has happened, so we will face the problem.”

A file photo of the Vivekanand bridge collapse. PTIA file photo of the Vivekanand bridge collapse. PTI

A file photo of the Vivekanand bridge collapse. PTI

Dip in stock prices

According to an article by Business Standard, in the past few years, IVRCL has faced a liquidity problem due to increasing debt and depleting profits. It had accumulated a debt of Rs 10,000 crore on top of net loss of close to Rs 2,000 crore by the end of second quarter of 2016. The article quoted senior management officials saying they require revenue inflows between Rs 5,000 and Rs 6,000 crore to cast off their immediate troubles.

In March 2016, the company underwent a debt restructuring process. Banks who were part of this process were allotted 18,19,60,413 equity shares of Rs 2 each, at a price of Rs 8.76 per share. The allocation was made under the guidelines of the RBI Circular on Strategic Debt Restructure, according to a report by The Hindu Business Line.

According to a report by Moneycontrol, the company saw a dip in its shares by 11 per cent on Thursday. Its stock has fallen steadily over the past year.

Other Bridge constructions

Founded over 25 years ago, the company has been involved in various projects related to water and environment, transportation, buildings and industrial structures, power transmission projects and mining. It is listed on the BSE and NSE and employs more than 3,000 engineers, managers and professional technocrats.

The company is known, among other things, for construction of the first desalination plant at Minjur (near Chennai) with a capacity of 100 million litres per day (MLD).

IVRCL has undertaken construction of several flyovers and bridges in cities like Chennai, Kondalampatti, Amritsar, Chengapalli, Bagalkote and Palasa.

Some of these include:

  • Rail over bridge at Perambur in Chennai. Their client for this project is the Corporation of Chennai, Bridges department.
  • Design, construction, development, finance, operation and maintenance of major interchange at Kondalampatti on NH-47 as part of four-laning of Salem to Kumarapalayam Section in Tamil Nadu. Their client for this project is National Highways Authority of India.
  • The construction of a major bridge across the river Baes on NH-1 as part of the laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar section. The client for the project is the National Highways Authority of India.
  • Major bridge across the river Cauvery on NH-47 as part of laning of Kumarapalayam to Chengapalli section in Tamil Nadu, for which the client is National Highways Authority of India.
  • Construction of a road over bridge at Palasa in lieu of existing Visakhapatnam-Bhuveaneshwar road in Srikulam District, the client for which is the Superintending Engineer (R&B) Circle, Srikakulam.-
  • Construction of a bridge across the river Krishna of Jamkhandi Savalgi road near Jambagi village in Jamkhandi Taluk, Bagalkote District, client for which is the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited.

India meets LIGO scientists in the US, signs MoU for setting up observatory in the country

Washington: India and the US on Thursday signed an MoU for establishing Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in India that will play significant role in carrying forward frontline research on various aspects of gravitational wave astronomy.

The MoU comes about a month after the Union Cabinet approved the construction of the long-awaited third LIGO interferometer.

Department of Atomic Energy Secretary Sekhar Basu and the US’ National Science Foundation (NSF) France Cordova signed the MoU in this regard in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and LIGO scientists at Washington.

The construction of the long-awaited third LIGO interferometer, expected to be functional by 2023, will significantly improve the ability of scientists to pinpoint the sources of gravitational waves and analyse the signals.

Modi, who is currently in the US to attend the two-day Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) met scientists of LIGO who recently proved gravitational waves theory. He also interacted with the Indian student scientists part of the LIGO project.

Gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space and time produced by dramatic events in the universe, such as merging black holes, and predicted as a consequence of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity — carry information about their origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets scientists from LIGO. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndiaPrime Minister Narendra Modi greets scientists from LIGO. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets scientists from LIGO. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

With their first direct detection, announced on 11 February, scientists opened a new window onto the cosmos.

The twin LIGO Observatories at Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, are funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), and were conceived, built, and are operated by Caltech and MIT.

Advanced LIGO — a major upgrade to the sensitivity of the instruments compared to the first generation LIGO detectors — began scientific operations in September 2015.

LIGO will provide Indian researchers with the components and training to build and run the new Advanced LIGO detector, which will then be operated by the Indian team, the press statement said.

In a statement, the Union cabinet had said “LIGO-India will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting edge technology for the Indian industry” which will be responsible for the construction of the new observatory’s four-kilometer-long beam tubes.

In addition, the Cabinet statement said “The project will motivate Indian students and young scientists to explore newer frontiers of knowledge, and will add further impetus to scientific research in the country.”

Indian scientists at Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT) Indore have designed a special testing/prototype facility for receiving Advanced LIGO parts; have been training the teams that will install and commission the detector; and are currently cross-checking the IPR vacuum-system drawings against the Advanced LIGO detector drawings, to ensure a good fit and rapid installation for the third Advanced LIGO detector.

In addition to leading the site-selection process, the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) scientists have been setting up a computing center for current and future data. This preparation should make it possible for India to carry the project forward rapidly, it noted. “We have built an exact copy of that instrument that can be used in the LIGO-India Observatory,” said David Shoemaker,
leader of the Advanced LIGO Project and director of the MIT LIGO Lab.

Funded in large part by the NSF, Advanced LIGO enabled a large increase in the volume of the universe probed, leading to the discovery of gravitational waves during its first observation run.

At each observatory, the four-km-long L-shaped interferometer uses laser light split into two beams that travel back and forth down the arms (four-foot diameter tubes kept under a near-perfect vacuum).

The beams are used to monitor the distance between mirrors precisely positioned at the ends of the arms.

According to Einstein’s theory, the distance between the mirrors will change by an infinitesimal amount when a gravitational wave passes by the detector.

A change in the lengths of the arms smaller than one-ten-thousandth the diameter of a proton (10-19 meter) can be detected.

According to David Reitze, executive director of LIGO and a Caltech research professor, the degree of precision achieved by Advanced LIGO is analogous to being able to measure the distance between our solar system and the sun’s nearest neighbour Alpha Centauri—about 4.4 light-years away—accurately to within a few microns, a tiny fraction of the diameter of a human hair.

Bharat Mata slogan row: Man who filed PIL against Owaisi gets threat letter

Pune-based activist Hemant Patil has received a threat letter asking him to withdraw his PIL in Bombay High Court against AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi and party MLA in Maharashtra Waris Pathan for refusing to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.”I have filed a complaint at Vishrantwadi police station in Pune under section 507 IPC (criminal intimidation) against an unknown person and will take up the matter with the High Court when the public interest litigation comes up for hearing,” Patil told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Police Inspector P N Supekar confirmed that a non-cognisable complaint has been filed and investigations are underway.The letter, written in Marathi language on a postcard by an unidentified person, asked Patil to take back the petition he had filed in high court against Owaisi. It also says that Owaisi is “like God to Muslims and anything against him would not be tolerated”.The letter further said, “Hemant Patil, we will kill you, if you pursue the matter in the high court.” The PIL had urged the court to order an inquiry into speeches made by Owaisi and Pathan recently in which they had allegedly dishonoured the country by making some remarks.The petition had contended that the speeches made by them amounted to spreading communal disharmony and hurting national integrity and unity of the country. Such remarks are anti-national and have the tendency to break the social fabric of the society and divide the people on the basis of religion and parochial issues, said Patil, who heads the NGO Bharat against Corruption.The petition, which is slated to come up for hearing in due course, also demanded a ban on All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), saying that remarks made by the duo amounted to violation of Representation of the People’s Act and were against the basic principles of Constitution.The PIL further sought a direction to the Maharashtra government, Director General of Police and Secretary of Home department to call for the records in respect of speeches delivered by Owaisi at a public rally in Latur and Pathan’s utterances in the state Legislative Assembly that they would not say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.The petition had alleged that Owaisi and his partymen were continuously engaged in delivering speeches which spread communalism and endanger national integration.

Maharashtra: MLA who slapped bureaucrat gets bail

A local court on Thursday granted bail to Maharashtra independent MLA, Bachchu Kadu, who was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly assaulting a government officer at the state secretariat in Mumbai.”Esplanade Court today granted bail to Kadu on the bond of Rs 25,000 and the court has also directed him to deposit his passport,” Kadu’s lawyer Hassan Pasha Patel told PTI.The legislator, who represents Achalpur Assembly constituency in Amaravati district of Maharashtra, was arrested yesterday by the Marine Drive Police in Mumbai as soon as he came out of the ongoing state Assembly session here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kadu and his clerk Ashok Jadhav had gone to meet B R Gavit, Deputy Secretary, General Administration Department, on Tuesday. He was insisting that Jadhav be allowed to continue to stay in the government quarters and be allotted additional accommodation, in violation of norms.The officer apparently refused to entertain his demand. An infuriated Kadu allegedly abused and hit him hard on the head. Police said a case under IPC sections 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 34 (common intention), has been registered against the MLA.

West Indies stun India to reach final

West Indies will meet England in the final of the World Twenty20 after stunning hosts India with a seven-wicket win in Mumbai.

Oil heads for big March gains; dollar, Cushing draw supports | Reuters

NEW YORK Oil prices were steady to firmer on Thursday, on track to their largest monthly gain in almost a year and also a quarterly rise, helped by a weak dollar and data showing a drawdown in crude stocks at the U.S. futures delivery hub.

But concerns that a proposed production freeze will barely make a difference to the global oil glut kept a lid on the market’s upside, some traders and analysts said.

Crude futures also appeared to have overextended gains with a 50 percent rally since mid-February on the prospect of an agreement among the world’s largest producers to keep oil output at January’s levels, despite little improvement in fundamentals.

“Oversupply still persists due to resilient U.S. production, even if declining moderately; high OPEC output, led by Saudi Arabia and Iraq; and the gradual return of Iran starting Q1 2016,” said Mike Wittner, global head of oil research at Societe Generale.

Brent crude for May delivery was up 34 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $39.60 a barrel by 12:37 p.m. EDT (1637 GMT), ahead of its expiry as the front-month contract. June Brent, which will be front-month from Friday, was up 0.3 percent.

On a monthly basis, Brent’s front-month was on track to a 10 percent gain for March – its best since April 2015 – and a 6 percent rise in the first quarter.

U.S. crude’s front-month was down 3 cents at $38.29. It was slated to gain 13 percent in March and 3 percent for the quarter.

The dollar hit a mid-October low, making greenback-denominated oil more attractive to holders of the euro and other currencies. [FRX/]

Data from market intelligence firm Genscape showed a 807,496-barrel drawdown in stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for U.S. crude futures in the week to March 29, traders said.

Inventories at Cushing have receded from record highs for two consecutive weeks, with U.S. government data on Wednesday showing a 272,000-barrel drawdown in the week ending March 25.

Total U.S. crude stocks, however, rose 2.3 million barrels last week to 534.8 million barrels, a record high for a seventh straight week.[EIA/S]

OPEC crude output rose in March to 32.47 million barrels per day from 32.37 million bpd in February, a Reuters survey said.

In a separate Reuters poll, oil analysts raised their average price forecasts for 2016 for the first time in 10 months but cautioned the rally could fade near term.

Analysts also expect an April 17 meeting of major oil producers in Doha to discuss the output freeze to fall short of expectations.

“There is a clear risk of disappointment and for a temporary setback in prices ahead or immediately after the Doha meeting,” Carsten Fritsch, commodities analyst at Commerzbank, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.

(Additional reporting by Libby George in LONDON; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Kolkata flyover collapse: Was construction of bridge halted and restarted with an eye on Bengal polls?

The Vivekananda Road Flyover collapsed at 12.25 pm on Thursday killing at least 18 and injuring 78 in north Kolkata’s Girish Park area. Several people, who are still trapped under the debris, are awaiting to be rescued. Eye-witnesses fear at least hundreds are still trapped. The flyover is located in a densely populated wholesale market, Barrabazaar, with a busy traffic and vehicles of goods passing all day under it.

The flyover has been under construction since 2009 and has missed 9 deadlines till now. The first deadline was due in August 2010. After 65 months of the first deadline, only 65% of the of the 2.2 km long flyover finished. The repair works has been delayed since 2009 but keeping the West Bengal Assembly Election in mind, the Trinamool Congress government had told the builders to finish the construction work soon.

In November 2015, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had assured completion of the flyover by February 2016. In March 2016, Chief Minister postponed the deadline till August 2016.

There are several reasons behind the delay. The major challenge was the road between Posta Crossing and Howrah Bridge where the traffic is heavy and blocking the road for the completion of the work would complicate travel for passengers. To add to this, Kolkata Port Trust delayed providing permission to Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA)  for the construction work in the area. KMDA specified that in order to finish the construction work within August the work needed to continue for at least 10 hours a day differing from the earlier plan of 6 hours a day. For that, the traffic from Posta Junction to Howrah Bridge needs to be bifurcated which again adds to the complication.

At least 18 people lost their lives in Thursday's collapse. PTIAt least 18 people lost their lives in Thursday's collapse. PTI

At least 18 people lost their lives in Thursday’s collapse. PTI

According to sources at KMDA, after Mamata‘s assurance that the project will be completed by August the construction work had resumed with much gusto. It is possible that this sudden rise of activity on an otherwise delayed project might have impacted the situation and caused Thursday’s crash. Experts say that the ‘dead-load’ of the flyover was disrupted because of the sudden revival of the construction work. The pressure of the ‘dead-load’ is supposed to be divided equally throughout the entire stretch of the flyover. Any imbalance gives more room for accidents.

On Wednesday, the repairing work of the construction began and it continued through a heavy-traffic day till Thursday afternoon. While the repair work was on, authorities did not make any efforts to stop the heavy inflow of traffic. An eye-witness said, “The work is on since morning. And the vehicles have been moving. The roads were not blocked. We could see that an accident was waiting to happen.”

Mamata assured that her government will take serious action and shifted the blame to the previous CPM government. She said, “The flyover was tendered in 2008 during CPM rule.” She also added that she had asked for the blue-print of the bridge construction plan from the IVRCL authority over and over, which got the tender of the flyover, but they failed to provide her with that. The important question here is: Why didn’t the CM then stop the construction work?

Mamata’s current statement echoes a previous one by the Trinamool Congress after the collapse of the Ultadanga flyover which happened early in the morning on 3 March 2013. The 2013 flyover collapse was not fatal but clearly Mamata’s government did not take any lessons from the accident.

The Chief Minister had said that 30 years of CPM rule had been the reason for the Vivekananda Road flyover collapse. It’s election again and a massacre like this is horrible to digest.

It is also disconcerning that the two parties and their blame-game is the only answer to the families who lost their loved ones in the fatal collapse of Thursday.

West Indies beat India to set up final v England | Reuters

MUMBAI Lendl Simmons hit an unbeaten 83 to guide West Indies to a seven-wicket victory against hosts India in the second semi-final of the World Twenty20 at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

West Indies chased down India’s score of 192-2 with two balls to spare to set up a final with England at Eden Gardens on Sunday.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Simmons rides luck to carry West Indies into final | Reuters

MUMBAI Late replacement Lendl Simmons led a charmed life to blast 82 not out and carry West Indies to a nail-biting seven-wicket win in the last over against India in the second semi-final of the World Twenty20 on Thursday.

Simmons was caught twice at the Wankhede Stadium, on 18 and 50, but both times the bowlers had overstepped for no-balls and he made the hosts pay dearly for their mistakes as West Indies set up a final against England on Sunday.

Earlier, Virat Kohli continued his rich vein of form by smashing an undefeated 89 to guide India to 192 for two after they were put in to bat.

West Indies lost the dangerous Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels early in their reply but opener Johnson Charles kept them in the hunt with a 36-ball 52 and a third-wicket stand of 97 with Simmons.

The right-handed Simmons plays for Mumbai in the Indian Premier League and was only called into the squad two days ago as a replacement for the injured Andre Fletcher.

He cracked seven fours and five sixes in 51 balls and added an unbeaten 80 with Andre Russell for the fourth wicket to take West Indies home with two balls to spare.

Russell, known for his powerful hitting, contributed 43 off 20 deliveries.

“We knew it was a 200 wicket and halfway in the dressing room I kept telling the boys that India are 10 runs short,” said West Indies skipper Darren Sammy, delighted after his team proved they can win without Gayle firing on all cylinders.

“We said this before the tournament that Chris is under pressure, he is our best Twenty20 player but we have 15 match-winners in this side.”

DHAWAN DROPPED

Earlier, the West Indian bowlers began strongly, allowing the home team just six runs in the first couple of overs but India then took control in front of a stadium filled to the brim with fans wearing the team’s blue jersey.

India, the inaugural champions in 2007, dropped under-performing opener Shikhar Dhawan and the move paid off as Rohit Sharma (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (40) put on 62 for the first wicket.

That laid the perfect foundation for Kohli, who led his side into the last four with 82 not out against Australia in the previous match, as he compiled a third unbeaten half-century in the tournament.

Kohli began nervously, twice going close to being run out, but made the opposition pay for failing to take their chances.

He struck 11 fours and a six in his 47-ball knock, putting on 66 for the second wicket with Rahane and an unbroken 64 for the third with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (15 not out).

Dhoni said the toss was crucial and the evening dew made it tough for his spinners to grip the ball.

“It was a bad toss to lose,” he added. “That (dew) makes it very difficult for us.

“We also have a history of not doing very well when it comes to the spinners bowling with a wet ball.”

West Indies’ women also reached the final as captain Stafanie Taylor scored 25 and took three wickets to help defeat New Zealand by six runs and set up a final against champions Australia on Sunday.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Kerala MPs and activist Teesta Setalvad denied entry at HCU

Three Kerala MPs and social activist Teesta Setalvad were denied entry into Hyderabad Central University on Thursday where they were set to address a meeting.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20Security personnel of the varsity did not allow A Sampath, M B Rajesh and P K Biju and Setalvad to enter the campus, which has witnessed strong protests and violence after Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile resumed duty in the aftermath of Rohith Vemula suicide.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”University authorities have directed not to allow the outsiders, so they were stopped at the main entrance gate,” HCU’s chief security officer T V Rao told PTI.The gate was locked from 3 pm till 5.30 pm. The two MPs from Kerala and Setalvad addressed the students outside the gate, Rao said.”Students attended the public meeting on both sides of the main gate,” a member of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice of HCU said.On March 23, the varsity authorities decided not to allow any outsider, including mediapersons and politicians, on the campus.Reacting to the reports that HCU authorities had decided (at a meeting of deans) to remove “unauthorised things” at the shopping complex inside the campus, the varsity registrar M Sudhakar told PTI that the deans committee was a recommending authority, and final decision would be taken by the VC.Reports said that at the deans’ meeting, it was decided that the varsity should issue a circular that nobody should use the campus for installing statues, busts and other unauthorised structures.`Rohit Smaraka Stupa, a memorial for the Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula whose suicide landed the university in the ongoing controversy, currently stands on the campus. JAC members said they would oppose any move to demolish it or other structures (like tents) set up to hold protest.

Kolkata flyover tragedy: Death toll rises to 21, around 150 people still trapped under debris

A portion of a Vivekananda flyover near Ganesh Talkies in Girish Park collapsed on Thursday afternoon leaving as many as 21 dead and over 80 people injured. Several others, including a mini-bus carrying passengers, and cars are still trapped under the mounds of rubble. Eye-witnesses say that there could be around 150 people under the debris. LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20Rescue operations are underway, with the light falling only making it more difficult for the army and the NDRF to carry on the rescue operations.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While it was rumoured that the Army had entered into a tiff with the Kolkata Police officials resulting in the withdrawal of the troops, it issued a statement later in the evening that the allegations are baseless and that they are still at the spot carrying out the rescue operations.The flyover was the object of some controversy, with lots of residents complaining about it, particularly due to the congestion it caused.Locals complained that the Fire and Emergency Services and Disaster Management Group officials reached the spot very late. They also alleged that the army and NDRF were deployed two hours after the incident took place.While help arrived late, locals played a key role in the rescue operation with most them helping the police trace bodies below the debris and providing constant drinking water to the officials engaged in the rescue operation.Around 9 pm, outgoing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reached the Medical College and Hospital to take stock of the situation at the hospital, where the rescued were undergoing treatment. “As many as 12 dead bodies have been handed over to their families and three are awaiting final documentation. 6 bodies are still unidentified, but we are trying to find their families,” she said.A control room, with the helpline number 1070, has been set up to monitor the rescue operations round the clock. “We need to first focus on rescue operation, will see about future course of action later. This is a very serious incident, law will take its course. Opinions of engineering experts will be taken in the matter. We will take care of all the expenses of all the injured, we hope for their speedy recovery,” said Mamata Banerjee. The CM remained at the spot along with other senior ministers and police officers to monitor the rescue operations closely.Meanwhile, as many as three FIRs were registered against the IVRCL infrastructure company by Kolkata Police. The police officials even raided three offices of IVRCL, but no one could be found at the office, say sources. While blaming the construction company IVRCL for the tragedy, Banerjee also blamed the CPI(M) government which had signed the contract with the company while they were power in 2009.The state government announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the dead, Rs 2 lakh for the seriously injured and Rs 1 lakh for the injured.

Violence during Jat stir to be thoroughly probed: Manohar Lal Khattar

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday said the incidents of violence and arson that had occurred during the Jat reservation agitation in the state would be thoroughly investigated and those found guilty would not be spared.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20Khattar assured that the state government would not act with the feeling of revenge while probing the incidents, an official release said. The Chief Minister said that he felt the days from February 18 to 22 were not a part of reservation agitation.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”All the incidents of violence would be inquired into and stern action would be taken against those found involved in such activities,” he said.Such people might be from any caste or community, the Chief Minister said, adding that letting them off would further “embolden their spirit” to commit such acts. He said those who indulged in such activities by mistake might be spared but those who planned and deliberately resorted to such acts would not be spared.Khattar was addressing the Khap leaders and representatives of various communities who called on him to thank him after The Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Assembly unanimously two days back.Khattar said that Congress had given reservation to Jats in its last year of second term “whereas we have got The Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Bill, 2016 passed just after completion of our first year”.”The work done by Congress in its last year were either politically motivated or had vested interest,” he claimed. He said that the state government has not only maintained the reservation provisions of BC-A and B categories, but has also extended some more benefits to them through this Bill.Those castes which are not included in this Bill could avail the benefit of reservation under Economically Backward Classes, he added. The Chief Minister said BJP is the party of all sections of the society.”It was ensured while extending benefit to one community that no injustice was done to other sections of the society,” he said. He described Khaps or caste councils as ‘Sarva Jatiya Khap’ and urged them to work towards maintaining brotherhood in the society.On the occasion, Khattar said a blueprint has been prepared for providing maximum employment to the youth of the state. He said that besides government jobs, special emphasis is being laid on generating self-employment opportunities. Apart from this, efforts were being made to boost industrialisation in the state.Speaking on the occasion, Finance Minister Abhimanyu asked the Khap leaders to form committees and visit the houses of those families who had lost lives or property in this agitation.Thirty people lost their lives in violence during the agitation last month while there was massive damage to property at some places including worst-hit districts of Rohtak and Jhajjar.

Ink thrown at former Maharashtra AG Shrihari Aney

Maharashtra’s former Advocate General Shrihari Aney on Thursday came under an ink attack during a protest here for a separate state of Vidarbha, with the organisers claiming that an outfit championing united Maharashtra was behind it.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20It was not immediately clear as to who the attacker was but Vidarbha Rajya Andolan Samiti (VRAS) leaders suspect the hand of Swabhimani Sanghtana, an organisation headed by son of Congress leader Narayan Rane, which is strongly opposed to division of Maharashtra, in the incident.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, no police complaint was filed and organisers dubbed it as a “minor” incident.Aney was forced to quit his post this month after his remarks favouring a separate Marathwada state created a furore in Maharashtra legislature. Earlier he had favoured a separate Vidarbha state.The protest convened by VRAS also saw participation of BJP’s Nana Patole, NCP’s Anil Deshmukh among other leaders. Former legislator and VRAS committee member Wamanrao Chatap expressed his resolve to keep fighting for the “rights of people of Vidarbha”.The former AG also met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to garner his support for the cause so that the issue could be raised in Parliament.

Assembly Elections 2016: Election Commission bans exit polls

The Election Commission on Thursday banned exit polls between April 4 and May 16 when Assembly elections are held in five states.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20Citing provisions of electoral laws, EC said, “Exit polls cannot be conducted and publicised by means of print and electronic media or dissemination in any other manner starting from April 4 at 7 AM to May 16 at 6.30 PM.”The election timings for Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry are between 7 AM and 6 PM. The timings for West Bengal and Assam would be a little different depending on the topography of the constituency and the security situation.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Commission also said that display of “any election matter” including results of any opinion poll or any other poll survey in “any electronic media” is “prohibited during the period 48 hours, including the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in each of the phases in connection with the elections.”Using powers under the Representation of People Act, 1951, EC bans exit polls from the time the poll begins till half-an-hour after the polling ends.The poll panel had proposed that there should be a prohibition on publication and broadcast of the results of opinion polls starting from the date of notification of elections till the completion of the last phase of polls to Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.The proposal is pending with the government. Existing law allows EC to ban opinion polls 48 hours prior to voting.

Full rail fare for children between 5-12 years; rates effective from April 21

The Railways has decided to charge full fare for children (5-12 years) for seats in reserved class, with the revised child fare to be effective from April 21.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20Under the revised provision, full adult fare will be charged for children of age 5 years and under 12 years of age if for whom full separate berth/seat (in reserved class) is sought at the time of reservation, an official statement said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, in case full separate berth/seat is not sought, half of the adult fare shall continue to be charged subject to minimum distance for charging. The revised child fare rule has been made applicable for travel from April 21, 2016 onwards, it said.While filling up reservation form, the passenger can indicate their option for requirement of full berth/seat for children or not. There is no change in the rule for child fare of unreserved tickets – fare for children of 5-12 years for such tickets shall continue to be half of the adult fare subject to the minimum distance for charging.Children under five years of age will continue to be carried free (without berth) in case of both reserved and unreserved classes, the statement added.

Facebook activates safety check after Kolkata flyover collapse

In view of the tragic flyover collapse in Kolkata, Facebook has activated its safety check feature for people in Kolkata which will allow its users to mark themselves ‘safe’.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20″Safety check a simple way to say you’re safe and check on others — was activated for people in Kolkata due to the collapse of a flyover,” a Facebook spokesperson told PTI.This feature allows anyone in Kolkata to mark himself or herself ‘safe’ to let their Facebook friends know that the person is fine. It also allows people to check on other friends in the affected area.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The feature has been used all over the world by Facebook in times of natural or man-made disasters.

Now, a European woman accuses RK Pachauri of harassment

In more embarrassment for former TERI boss R K Pachauri, a European woman who claimed to be his former secretary, has now accused him of sexual harassment, after two women who worked at the environment think tank levelled similar charges against him.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20In a letter to well known advocate Vrinda Grover, who is representing the complainant in the sexual harassment case against the eminent environmentalist, the woman said she had worked at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) as Pachauri’s secretary in 2008. She had contacted Grover in February 2015 after she came to know of an FIR against Pachauri in a sexual harassment case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When contacted, Pachauri refused to comment but his lawyer Ashish Dixit termed it as a “conspiracy” to defame his client and questioned why every time such a case came up it was Grover who gave statements and there were no police complaints.
ALSO READ RK Pachauri denies sexual harassment charges; says his emails were hackedGrover sent to media houses the statment of the woman who said, “I remember that in the third week of February 2015, I had read some news reports which said that an employee of TERI had filed a criminal complaint against R K Pachauri for sexually harassing her. On reading these news reports, I was 0 percent surprised. I can very much relate to what the other women wrote in her statement.”The woman, who claimed she was 19 when Pachauri harassed her, will be represented by Grover and another lawyer Ratna Appnender. Appnender said that although the police was informed about the statement and told that the woman was ready to present herself before them, they did not make any effort to contact her.The woman, whose exact nationality was not revealed, said she noticed a “big difference” in the way Pachauri behaved with her and Indian men with whom he maintained a “polite distance”.When contacted, Pachauri said, “Please talk to my lawyer Ashish Dikshit. My lawyer will speak on the subject.” Dixit said, “It is a conspiracy by Vrinda Grover to defame Pachauri. Everytime a woman is said to make allegations, it is only to press, not to police or court.”Why is that every woman comes and reports to Vrinda Grover. There is some conspiracy. It only happens when there is some court hearing. There is a matter coming up. To prejudice the judges these types of reports are aired,” he said.”The serious question is why every girl who has no identity approaches Grover and she is the one who gives statement to media. Is there no police or no court,” he said.The woman alleged that the “tipping point” came when Pachauri asked her to join him at his summer residence outside Delhi which is when she spoke out and asked him to be more professional towards him after which she was transferred to another department of TERI.”I left New Delhi a few weeks after that. During these weeks I spoke quite openly about my experience and I found out from many sources that this was nothing new and that Pachauri has been involved in many similar situations,” she said.She said that her contract, which was for a period of one year, was abruptly terminated after a period of just 4 months and, after the termination, she did not think there was any point in contesting it. “I also felt very relieved that I would not have to face Pachauri’s sexual harassment any longer. I left New Delhi a few weeks after this and returned to Europe,” she said.Amid mounting outrage over Pachauri’s conduct following allegations of sexual harassment by a TERI woman employee, in connection with which he is facing a court case, another former employee of the think tank had in February made similar accusations against him.Pachauri quit as chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change after the case was registered against him. There is “sufficient evidence” against Pachauri that he sexually harassed, stalked and threatened his former woman colleague, the Delhi Police had said in its charge sheet filed before a court early this month.

CAG raps Ahmedabad metro for ‘wasteful spending’

The government-owned Metro Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA), which is implementing the metro project, wasted crores of rupees due to mismanagement, said a report tabled by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in the Gujarat Assembly on Thursday.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20As per the CAG’s audit report on state public sector undertakings, MEGA spent Rs 373.62 crore on development of three sites — Indroda and Chiloda in Gandhinagar and Motera in Ahmedabad — which were later abandoned because the route was changed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Work orders related to planning, designing and material procurement were given before the Draft Project Report (DPR) got approval in December 2012. The routes suggested in this DPR were later changed and work for earlier phase-1 of the project was stopped in 2013.”The company incurred expenditure of Rs 445.86 crore towards various works for the old phase-1, which was scrapped. Out of the above expenditure, Rs 373.62 crore was incurred towards three sites, which were to be used as depot, casting yard and test rack sites,” the CAG report said.”In the new phase-1 route, these three deports do not figure…it resulted in infructuous expenditure of Rs 372.62 crore,” it said.The Metro work started when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.The report also said that limited number of local suppliers were called in for award of earth-filling contracts. Rates of these contracts were in some cases 370 per cent higher than prevalent schedule of rates (SOR) of the Road and Building Department, it said.Purchase orders of Rs 24.89 crore were given to six parties whose Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) had been cancelled by the state Commercial Tax Department, CAG noted.The report also pointed out laxity in maintenance of records. No stock register about sand, earth-filling, rubble, boulder, grit kapchi and metal was maintained from June 2012 to January 2013, when orders worth Rs 78.70 crore were placed. CAG report also frowned upon 258 labour contracts worth Rs 20.34 crore awarded by the company between 2012 and 2013.”The orders did not mention where the work had to be done, the nature of work, or how the labour rate was worked out. It was also not clear how the labour contractors were selected,” it said.Financial mismanagement led to “avoidable” loss of about Rs 13 crore, it said, as the loans received from banks were deposited in fixed deposits with the same banks at an interest rate lower than the interest paid for the loan.

Kolkata flyover tragedy: Manohar Parrikar asks armed forces to assist in rescue work

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday directed the armed forces to provide all assistance in relief and rescue operations in the flyover collapse in Kolkata.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20″Defence Minister expresses his shock at Kolkata flyover collapse and grief on loss of lives. Directs armed forces to provide all needed assistance,” a Defence spokesperson said.General Officer Commanding-In-Chief (GOC-in-C) of Eastern Command Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi said, “The Army expresses its condolences to the bereaved families on this tragedy. Army is fully committed in providing all possible resources and assistance till the rescue operations are completed.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence officials said the state government had sought the help of Army in the relief and rescue operations after which five columns of rescue personnel were deployed.Each column roughly consists of 60 men including three medical teams, surgeons along with nursing assistants. The Army has sent 10 ambulances along with its complement of medics to the spot.A team of engineers from the Army has also reached the spot with cranes, water bowsers, gas cutters and specialist equipment to help the civic authorities dismantle the debris, officials said.General Officer in Command of Army’s Bengal area Lt Gen Rajeev Tewary went to the spot of accident to monitor rescue operations as many people were trapped under the concrete debris of the flyover.

PM Modi to attend fourth Nuclear Security Summit today

After concluding his first official visit to Belgium, Prime Minister Narendra Modi departed for Washington DC late on Wednesday evening to attend the fourth Nuclear Security Summit from March 31st to April 1.Briefing the media, along with Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup in New Delhi on Tuesday, over the Prime Minister’s US visit, Joint Secretary (Disarmament & International Security Affairs) Amandeep Singh Gill said the summit would begin with the leaders-only dinner at the White House on March 31, where leaders of 53 countries and four international organisations that participate at the summit would gather at this working dinner to share their assessments of the threat of nuclear terrorism.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Modi will share India’s assessment of the threat. On April 1, there would be three plenary sessions; at the first plenary session, there would be a focus on national actions to enhance nuclear security, said Gill.This first plenary would be followed by a working lunch, where the focus of discussions would be on international institutional actions to strengthen nuclear security. ‘The focus would be on international follow-up through institutions such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations, the Interpol, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the G8 Global Partnership,” he added.The third and final plenary discussion at the summit would be a policy discussion on nuclear terrorism based on a hypothetical scenario.”This scenario would allow the leaders to have a realistic and a thoughtful conversation on and around the challenges posed by international terrorism in particular the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism,” he said, adding that the summit would then conclude with the adoption of a brief communique and the five action plans.Underlining India’s main expectations from the summit, Gill said, “India expects that the summit would contribute further to raising high-level awareness of the threat of nuclear terrorism and the need to strengthen international cooperation against terrorists and nuclear traffickers.””We also expect that the summit would help bolster legal, institutional and enforcement measures to strengthen the security of nuclear material, radioactive sources, associated facilities and technologies,” he added.

Congress govt at Centre was being run from Italy: Amit Shah

Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi for his remarks that if BJP wins in Assam, the state government will be run by RSS from Nagpur, party chief Amit Shah on Thursday said the previous UPA government at the Centre was being run from Italy.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20″Gandhi says if BJP forms government in Assam, it will be run by RSS from Nagpur…What about 10 years of the UPA government which was being run from Italy,” Shah said during his two election rallies in the Barak Valley.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Shah said her speech while canvassing for the Assam assembnly polls that her party would ensure the state’s development amused him.”What were they (Congress) doing for the last 15 years when her party was in power in the state and at the Centre for 10 years,” he asked. He accused Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of failing to stop infiltration from Bangladesh and Assam from “emerging as the number one state in corruption.Tea, oil and mineral-rich Assam saw no development as Gogoi “keep the doors of the border open for infiltrators”, he said.BJP, Shah said, is committed to resolve the problem of infiltration and will also give protection to refugees who have left their homes in Bangladesh following religious persecution.”The BJP government (at the Centre) has already passed an ordinance in this regard but I want to make it clear that it will not be Assam’s responsibility alone to take in the refugees. The entire country will share the burden.” Criticising the Chief Minister, he said, “Has Gogoi babu ensured development of roads, education, health, women’s security? He did nothing for the last 15 years but only indulged in corruption.””Where has the large amount of fund sent by the Centre to the state gone? Gogoi babu is the kingpin of corruption.” Shah assured concrete steps will be taken to resolve problems of tea garden labourers in the Barak Valley, to revive and modernise Cachar Paper Mills at Panchgramset and a cultural centre in Swami Vivekananda’s name in the Valley.He appealed to voters to vote for BJP on April 4 and take the pledge of “Pehle matdan, phir jalpan” (first vote and then have food).

Kolkata flyover collapse: Helpline opened for Bangladesh citizens

Bangladesh Deputy High Commission has opened a 24-hour control room in here for Bangladeshi nationals seeking information regarding the flyover collapse.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20″To get any information about Vivekananda flyover accident at Posta, Kolkata, a control room (24 hours) has been opened for the citizens of Bangladesh at Bangladesh Deputy High Commission, Kolkata,” a statement said. The helpline number is 033-40127500.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Deputy High Commission officials said so far they have not received any inputs on whether a Bangladeshi national has been injured or lost life in the tragic mishap.

Haryana Assembly passes resolution to bring Bill to hike salary of MLAS

Haryana legislators on Thursday demanded hike in their salary and allowances after which the Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to bring a Bill to hike the salary and allowances of the MLAs.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20Barring Congress, whose members did not attend the session on Thursday, the ruling BJP, main opposition INLD, BSP and Independents all strongly backed the demand for hike in pay and allowances, prompting Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to say, “Today, everyone is beaming with joy, there is clapping and unprecedented unity is seen (on the issue)”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three days back, a House Committee had been formed which dwelled into the issue seeking information from neighbouring states on pay and allowances of the legislators. The Committee wasted no time and quickly prepared the report favouring the hike.On the last day of the budget session of the Haryana Assembly on Thursday, lone BSP member Tek Chand Sharma moved a resolution, saying salary and allowances of the MLAs should be increased.”In Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Telangana, Delhi and in Jharkhand, there have been examples of hike in pay and allowances, recently. A committee which had been formed three days back has submitted its report,” the BSP member said.He told the House that while Congress may have stayed away from attending the proceedings to protest its three MLAs suspension for tearing copies of the Governor’s Address, the party legislator Lalit Nagar “had quickly given his view on the salary hike and signed the report”.”This (resolution) should be passed today,” the BSP MLA said, even as there was loud thumping of the benches, both from BJP and main opposition INLD benches.”We promise you (pointing towards Speaker) that no where will you find any MLA involved in any corrupt practice,” Tek Chand said, without elaborating.INLD’s Zakir Hussain seconded the proposal, saying it was need of the present times to increase the salary and allowances of MLAs.”The committee has given its report. Chief Minister has accepted in-principle the resolution put up here today,” Haryana Parliamentary Affairs minister Ram Bilas Sharma said.Gian Chand Gupta, Dr Banwari Lal (of BJP), Zakir Husain (INLD), Tek Chand (BSP), Lalit Nagar (Cong) and Jai Prakash (Independent) were the members of the committee.

Modi in Brussels: PM takes a veiled dig at Pakistan

In a veiled dig at Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said “some neighbours” don’t understand that issues can be resolved peacefully by talks as he cited the example of Bangladesh with which decades-old disputes, including boundary question, were solved.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20While talking about how disputes with Bangladesh were solved, he said, “We presented an example before the world that by talking, issues can be resolved with neighbouring countries. (But) some neighbours do not understand this. Now, how can we change our neighbours? They will also understand, some day they will also understand.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He did not name Pakistan but was apparently referring to this country with which there are several disputes and India wants these to be resolved through talks.”Sometimes we wonder whether there can be solutions to problems with neighbours….There was a land dispute with Bangladesh since that country was born in 1971. Since then, the question was pending. One issue was about water sharing, another about demarcation of boundary in the sea and third about land boundary,” Modi said addressing a gathering of Indian diaspora in Brussels.”You would be happy to know that after our government came, without firing any bullet, without any fight, by just sitting with Bangladesh, the border dispute was ended. Whoever had to come to India, they came, whoever had to go to Bangladesh they went, the border was dermarcated and now fencing work is going on there. The disease of infiltration will also end and both the countries will live peacefully and happily. Water dispute has also been resolved,” Modi said.He was enlisting various steps taken by his 22-month-old government to take the country forward.The Prime Minister said while the world was going through an economic crisis, global analysts and rating agencies like IMF see India as a “land of hope”. India is currently one of the fastest growing economies, “not because of ‘naseeb’ (luck), nor because of Modi but the reason for this is the efforts by 125 crore people of the country,” he said.”If the direction is right, policy is clear and above all, intention is clear, then nobody can stop India. India can progress,” he said.Modi, who enlisted before NRIs the various initiatives of the government during the one-hour speech, said he was giving account of his work as he considers himself ‘pradhan sevak’ (prime servant) and not Prime Minister.”In a democracy, it is obligatory to give account of your work to the people,” he said.Talking about corruption, he said he was confident that the menace can end with little changes. The Prime Minister said his government’s initiatives have helped curb theft and pilferage to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees.”When Modi does this, will he not be troubled? Will not there be some people who would have suffered losses? Having usurped so much, their shouting capacity too will be big. That is why they say all around that ‘Modi is useless’, ‘he does nothing’. You will get to hear that ‘Modi does nothing’. It is normal since their condition has become bad after grabing the cream for so many years,” he said, taking a dig at critics.While talking about efforts to stop pilferages, he referred to urea and said the government had decided to neem coat the product, which ensures that it can be of no use except as a fertilizer.”And the result was that diversion of urea to chemical factories ended. The assessment is being made. It will end theft of thousands of crores of rupees. And if you hear voices against Modi, then you should conclude that Modi has tightened the screws somewhere. The more stronger the voices against me, you should understand that there is something wrong… Sometimes ‘poori daal hi kaali nazar aati hai’. What I want to say is that things can be changed and results can also be got.”About his government’s initiatives, Modi said the year 2015 saw the highest production of power, urea, ethanol, coal and milk. He said 90 lakh people had given up LPG subsidy following his call and this was being diverted to poor people who still cook using firewood. The government will bear the cost of first LPG cylinder of 5 crore poor people.The railways saw maximum expansion and construction of highways saw a jump from 2 kms per day during previous government to 20-22 kms per day, Modi said.On the ‘ease of doing business’, India rose in the rank by 12 points and the maximum amount of foreign exchange was received, the Prime Minister told the Indian diaspora. He said while banks were nationalised by Indira Gandhi in 1969, 40 per cent of people remained out of the banking system.Under the NDA government’s Jandhan scheme, 21 crore new accounts were opened and “Today, almost all the citizens have Aaadhar-linked bank accounts”, Modi said. Rs 34,000 crore have been deposited in these accounts.JAM (Jandhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) scheme of providing subsidy to the intended poor people ensured that theft of about 14,000-15,000 crore was stopped every year, he said.”When our government came to power, 18,000 villages did not have electricity even after nearly 70 years after Independence…I said on Independence Day last year that these villages will be electrified in 1000 days. Seven months have passed since then, and in more than 7000 villages, poles, cables etc have reached,” Modi said.He said people can keep track of the progress by using a GARV App.About the intention to achieve 175 Gigawatt of renewable power generation, Modi said he was confident of achieving it. With regard to toilets in schools, he said the target was to build 4.25 lakh toilets and “today no school is left without a toilet”. He also talked about ‘One-Rank, One-Pension’ scheme, saying the demand had been pending for over 40 years and his government had fulfilled it within no time.”The earlier governments used to keep Rs 200 crore for it…it costs Rs 10,000 crore every year. Earlier, only promises were made to the soldiers who die for the country but we fulfilled the promise,” Modi said.

Anna Hazare hospitalised after he complained of fatigue

Social activist Anna Hazare was hospitalised on Thursday in Ahmednagar district after he complained of fatigue, sources close to him said.”Anna had some trouble this morning when he went to the bathroom at his Ralegan Siddhi village due to dehydration and increasing temperature,” they said.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20The 78-year-old anti-graft crusader was later admitted to a private hospital in Ahmednagar.”Anna has said that he is ‘a bit tired’ and nothing else is wrong with him,” the sources said.

Can’t bring undertrials to Delhi due to Jat stir: Haryana cops

Haryana police has informed a Delhi court that undertrials from the state would not be produced there till the Jat agitation ends, as the cops were busy maintaining law and order.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20A circular issued by the office of District and Sessions Judge (headquarters) informed the concerned judges of the Tis Hazari Courts in New Delhi about the letter received from Haryana Police.”A copy of fax letter has been received from the Superintendent of Police, District Jhajjar, Haryana state with the intimation that due to Jat reservation agitation in Haryana, large number of police force has been deployed on various places to maintain law and order duties during the agitation. Therefore, it would be difficult for the police force to produce the undertrials in the court of law at Delhi from March 17 till the Jat reservation agitation ends,” a circular by Additional District and Sessions Judge Shail Jain said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Bill to provide reservation to Jats and five other communities in government jobs and educational institutions was unanimously passed on March 29 by the Haryana Assembly, ahead of the April 3 deadline set by the community which launched a violent quota agitation last month.At least 30 people lost their lives and more than 320 were injured in the worst ever Jat agitation witnessed in Haryana.Besides, financial loss to the tune of hundreds of crores was incurred by people whose homes and business establishments were damaged in the arson that followed the agitation leaving the state paralysed for nearly two weeks.

Karnataka: Class 12 Chemistry paper leaked for 2nd time in 10 days; re-examination on April 12

In a second shock for students in 10 days, the Chemistry paper of Class XII leaked in Karnataka again on Thursday, prompting authorities to cancel the exam and suspend 40 officials. Hours before the rescheduled Chemistry exams was to begin, Department of Pre-University Education (DPUE) was alerted about the leak in two locations in the state, a development that affected over 1.74 lakh students.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20In a surcharged atmosphere, agitated parents and students gathered in front of the Department of Pre-University Education (DPUE) building as a section of protesters pelted stones, damaging glass windows, police said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the issue rocked the Assembly with the Opposition BJP members gunning for his resignation, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmanne Rathnakar announced suspension of 40 officers and other staff in the Pre-University Department.Earlier, the March 21 Chemistry exam was cancelled and rescheduled for March 31 after a II PU science student blew the lid off the paper leak, with government handing over the investigation to CID.A tense situation prevailed in front of the DPUE building, as a parent went upto the terrace and threatened to jump, saying there are no officials present to listen to their plight but he was persuaded against doing so and brought down. Another student fainted during the protest and was shifted to hospital, police said.”The CID is investigating the matter and the government is very serious about it. They are finding out who the culprits are – whether they are insiders or outsiders,” Home Minister G Parameshawara told reporters.Crestfallen students raised their voice in protest against the re-examination for the second time. “Why should we take another examination and that too for the second time in 10 days? Why cannot the government take security measures to prevent such incidents from taking place?” some students at the protest site asked. Another student said they are facing the added tension of appearing for the coming competitive examinations.The re-examination will now be held on April 12, Ratnakar said in the Assembly, where BJP members trooped into the well shouting slogans, calling for his resignation. Ratnakar said the DGP CID has been requested to conduct speedy probe into the leak of both March 21 exam and today’s re-examination question paper and find out the source behind it and punish those responsible.Hitting out, Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar said, “Is this government alive or dead?” and accused it of being “irresponsible” and playing with the lives of young students. “Are you aware of the pain and worry students and their parents are undergoing?” he said, adding “there is no other go; Kimmane Ratnakar has to take responsibility and resign.” Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa also expressed displeasure about the paper leak. In his reply, Ratnakar said about 1,75,000 students appeared for the Chemistry paper and “as we got to know about the question paper leak, we decided to cancel the exam this morning.” He said the CID has been asked to probe the matter and the Principal Secretary of the Education Department told to take action against those officials responsible.Not happy with the Minister’s reply, BJP MLA’s trooped into the Well of the House and demanded Ratnakar’s resignation, following which the Speaker adjourned the House and called for a meeting of floor leaders. As the House resumed, BJP members demanded that the Chief Minister give a statement and Ratnakar resign.Amidst sloganeering, the Speaker directed the Minister to make his statement. After Ratnakar’s statement, the Speaker asked the Ministers and Heads of Committees to lay the papers and reports mentioned against their name. Even as BJP members continued with their demand that the minister’s resignation has to be announced, the Speaker adjourned the House sine die.

Reports about presence of PLA troops in PoK groundless: China

China’s military on Thursday dismissed as “groundless” the reports of presence of its troops at a forward post in PoK as India and China prepared for Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s first visit to Beijing to enhance defence ties.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20″Chinese position on Kashmir is consistent and (the) reports you mentioned are groundless,” Chinese Defence spokesman Col. Yang Yujun told a media briefing here in a brief reply to a question on reports of presence of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops at a forward post opposite Nowgam sector in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He did not react to a question whether any of its personnel were present in connection with the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connecting Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port which is being laid through the PoK. This is the first time China’s military reacted to the reports of presence of its troops in PoK.Earlier, the Chinese Foreign Ministry parried questions on the reports, saying that Kashmir is an issue between India and Pakistan left over from history and should be properly handled by the two sides through dialogue and consultation.India had earlier protested to China over the CPEC. About reports of Parrikar’s visit, Yang said the two countries are coordinating but declined to give the dates. Officials on both sides were tight-lipped about the visit which was expected to take place in the third week of April.During the visit, both sides will exchange ideas including bilateral military cooperation, Yang said. Parrikar’s visit will be the first after his predecessor A K Antony travelled here in 2013 which led to improvement of relations between the two militaries. The exchanges, which were earlier confined to the two armies, were extended to navy and airforces.After that, several high-level military officials have exchanged visits in a calibrated move to improve relations between the two major militaries. Both the sides have established Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to discuss the issue of incursions and aggressive border patrols by PLA troops along the 3,488-km long disputed border.

Some neighbours don’t realise that issues can be resolved peacefully: In Brussels, PM Modi’s veiled dig at Pakistan

Brussels: In a veiled dig at Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said “some neighbours” don’t understand that issues can be resolved peacefully by talks as he cited the example of Bangladesh with which decades-old disputes, including boundary question, were solved.

While talking about how disputes with Bangladesh were solved, he said, “We presented an example before the world that by talking, issues can be resolved with neighbouring countries. (But) some neighbours do not understand this. Now, how can we change our neighbours? They will also understand, some day they will also understand.”

He did not name Pakistan but was apparently referring to this country with which there are several disputes and India wants these to be resolved through talks.

“Sometimes we wonder whether there can be solutions to problems with neighbours….There was a land dispute with Bangladesh since that country was born in 1971. Since then, the question was pending. One issue was about water sharing, another about demarcation of boundary in the sea and third about land boundary,” Modi said addressing a gathering of Indian diaspora here.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force base in Washington on Thursday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force base in Washington on Thursday. PTI

“You would be happy to know that after our government came, without firing any bullet, without any fight, by just sitting with Bangladesh, the border dispute was ended.

“Whoever had to come to India, they came, whoever had to go to Bangladesh they went, the border was dermarcated and now fencing work is going on there. The disease of infiltration will also end and both the countries will live peacefully and happily. Water dispute has also been resolved,” Modi said.

He was enlisting various steps taken by his 22-month-old government to take the country forward.

The Prime Minister said while the world was going through an economic crisis, global analysts and rating agencies like IMF see India as a “land of hope”.

India is currently one of the fastest growing economies, “not because of ‘naseeb’ (luck), nor because of Modi but the reason for this is the efforts by 125 crore people of the country,” he said.

“If the direction is right, policy is clear and above all, intention is clear, then nobody can stop India. India can progress,” he said.

Modi, who enlisted before NRIs the various initiatives of the government during the one-hour speech, said he was giving account of his work as he considers himself ‘pradhan sevak’ (prime servant) and not Prime Minister.

“In a democracy, it is obligatory to give account of your work to the people,” he said.

Talking about corruption, he said he was confident that the menace can end with little changes.

The Prime Minister said his government’s initiatives have helped curb theft and pilferage to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees.

“When Modi does this, will he not be troubled? Will not there be some people who would have suffered losses? Having usurped so much, their shouting capacity too will be big. That is why they say all around that ‘Modi is useless’, ‘he does nothing’. You will get to hear that ‘Modi does nothing’. It is normal since their condition has become bad after grabing the cream for so many years,” he said, taking a dig at critics.

While talking about efforts to stop pilferages, he referred to urea and said the government had decided to neem coat the product, which ensures that it can be of no use except as a fertilizer.

“And the result was that diversion of urea to chemical factories ended. The assessment is being made. It will end theft of thousands of crores of rupees. And if you hear voices against Modi, then you should conclude that Modi has tightened the screws somewhere.

“The more stronger the voices against me, you should understand that there is something wrong… Sometimes ‘poori daal hi kaali nazar aati hai’. What I want to say is that things can be changed and results can also be got.”

About his government’s initiatives, Modi said the year 2015 saw the highest production of power, urea, ethanol, coal and milk.

He said 90 lakh people had given up LPG subsidy following his call and this was being diverted to poor people who still cook using firewood. The government will bear the cost of first LPG cylinder of 5 crore poor people.

The railways saw maximum expansion and construction of highways saw a jump from 2 kms per day during previous government to 20-22 kms per day, Modi said.

On the ‘ease of doing business’, India rose in the rank by 12 points and the maximum amount of foreign exchange was received, the Prime Minister told the Indian diaspora.

He said while banks were nationalised by Indira Gandhi in 1969, 40 per cent of people remained out of the banking system.

Under the NDA government’s Jandhan scheme, 21 crore new accounts were opened and “Today, almost all the citizens have Aaadhar-linked bank accounts”, Modi said. Rs 34,000 crore have been deposited in these accounts.

JAM (Jandhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) scheme of providing subsidy to the intended poor people ensured that theft of about 14,000-15,000 crore was stopped every year, he said.

“When our government came to power, 18,000 villages did not have electricity even after nearly 70 years after Independence…I said on Independence Day last year that these villages will be electrified in 1000 days. Seven months have passed since then, and in more than 7000 villages, poles, cables etc have reached,” Modi said.

He said people can keep track of the progress by using a GARV App.

About the intention to achieve 175 Gigawatt of renewable power generation, Modi said he was confident of achieving it.

With regard to toilets in schools, he said the target was to build 4.25 lakh toilets and “today no school is left without a toilet”. He also talked about ‘One-Rank, One-Pension’ scheme, saying the demand had been pending for over 40 years and his government had fulfilled it within no time.

“The earlier governments used to keep Rs 200 crore for it…it costs Rs 10,000 crore every year. Earlier, only promises were made to the soldiers who die for the country but we fulfilled the promise,” Modi said.

Chandigarh airport to be named after Bhagat Singh; Haryana Assembly gives green signal

Chandigarh: The Haryana Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution to name Chandigarh airport after freedom struggle icon Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

As soon as the Question Hour ended, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma moved the resolution in this regard.

Bhagat Singh. IBNliveBhagat Singh. IBNlive

Bhagat Singh. IBNlive

Later, it was unanimously passed with ruling BJP and main opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLAs supporting it.

Opposition Congress MLAs were not present as they have not been attending the assembly session to protest the six-month suspension of their three MLAs for tearing copies of the Governor’s address.

On the resolution passed on Thursday, Sharma told the House that the state government would soon write to the Union Civil Aviation ministry in this regard.

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had recently said that his government had no objection to the airport being named after Bhagat Singh.

With the airport’s terminal building falling in Punjab’s Mohali town, Punjab government has put up signages of ‘Mohali airport’, upsetting Haryana government.

The Rs 485-crore airport project is a joint venture of Airports Authority of India (AAI), governments of Punjab and Haryana.

ED files first chargesheet in Saradha chit fund scam case, names TMC MP Srinjoy Bose, Sudipta Sen

Kolkata: Four days before West Bengal goes to Assembly polls, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed its first chargesheet in the multi-crore rupee Saradha chit fund scam case, naming ex-Trinamool Congress MP Srinjoy Bose and chairman of the now-defunct group Sudipta Sen among others.

File image. PTIFile image. PTI

File image. PTI

The chargesheet, running to over 10,000 pages, also called as the
prosecution complaint by ED, was filed before a special sessions court.

The agency has named 21 accused in the chargesheet, including 10 individuals and 11 companies it had investigated for over three years under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Apart from Bose, who quit both Trinamool Congress and his Rajya Sabha membership early this year, ED has named Sudipta Sen, his senior employee in the Saradha group Debjani Mukherjee, his wife Piyali Sen, son Shubhojit, businessmen Shantanu Ghosh and Ramesh Gandhi, Saradha agent Prashant Naskar, former Union Minister Matang Sinh, and his estranged wife Manoranja Singh.

The agency has issued four orders worth about Rs 600 crore for attaching properties in this case till now, which have been also furnished in the chargesheet. It also registered a case under PMLA in 2013 taking cognisance of police FIRs from West Bengal, Assam and Odisha.

The chargesheet, official sources said, has also put on record transactions made through 91 bank accounts, out of the total 338, that were used to indulge in the alleged chit fund scam on numerous gullible depositors in the three states.

ED has pegged the amount of the scam at Rs 2,500 crore and has conducted a detailed investigation involving lakhs of multi-layered transactions and found that “more than 90 per cent of such companies existed only on paper and only 17 companies out of the 224 companies actually had carried out some business”.

The chargesheet, sources said, only pertains to the spread of the scam in West Bengal, which goes to polls from 4 April, and not in Assam and Odisha.

The six-phase polls to the 294-seat Assembly will end on 5 May and counting of votes will take place on 19 May. Officials did not rule not filing more chargesheets in the case.

Saradha scam: ED files first charge sheet; names Srinjoy Bose, Sudipta Sen among others

Four days before West Bengal goes to Assembly polls, Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday filed its first charge sheet in the multi-crore rupee Saradha chit fund scam case naming ex-Trinamool Congress MP Srinjoy Bose and Chairman of the now-defunct group head Sudipta Sen among others. The over 10,000 pages charge sheet, also called as the prosecution complaint by ED, was filed before a special sessions court here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20The agency has named 21 accused in the charge sheet which includes 10 individuals and eleven companies which it had investigated for over three years under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).Apart from Bose, who quit both Trinamool Congress and his Rajya Sabha membership early this year, ED has named Sudipta Sen, his senior employee in the Saradha group Debjani Mukherjee, his wife Piyali Sen, son Shubhojit, businessman Shantanu Ghosh and Ramesh Gandhi, Saradha agent Prashant Naskar, former Union Minister Matang Sinh and his estranged wife Manoranja Singh.The agency has issued four orders for attaching properties worth about Rs 600 crore in this case till now, which have been also furnished in the charge sheet. It registered a case under PMLA in 2013 taking cognisance of police FIRs of West Bengal, Assam and Odisha.The charge sheet, official sources said, has also put on record the transactions made through 91 bank accounts, out of the total 338, that were used to indulge in the alleged chit fund scam on numerous gullible depositors in the three states.ED has pegged the amount of the scam at Rs 2,500 crore and has conducted a detailed investigation involving lakhs of multi-layered transactions and found that “more than 90 per cent of such companies existed only on paper and only 17 companies out of the 224 companies actually had carried out some business.”The charge sheet, sources said, only pertains to the spread of the scam in West Bengal, which goes to polls beginning April 4, and not in Assam and Odisha. The six-phase polls to the 294-seat Assembly will end on May 5 and counting of votes will take place on May 19 for West Bengal and the four other states. Officials did not rule not filing more charge sheets in the case.

Gujarat dilutes Land Act; discards ‘consent’ clause on acquisition

Diluting the stringent provisions of the Centre’s Land Acquisition Act 2013, the BJP government in Gujarat on Thursday secured the passage of a bill in the Assembly dowing away with social impact assessment and consent clauses for acquisition of land for public purposes and industrial corridor.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20’Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Gujarat Amendment) Bill 2016′ was passed in the Assembly in the absence of the opposition Congress MLAs, who were suspended for two days by the Speaker on Wednesday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the key provisions of the bill is doing away with Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for projects related to Defence and social sectors, such as building air base, defence manufacturing units, schools, roads, canals, affordable houses, etc. The other key change is that SIA will not be carried out for land acquisition for industrial corridor.Another key amendment is doing away with the provision of consent of affected parties. As per the original central Act, 80 per cent of land owners must give their nod for the acquisition of land. As per the new bill, these provisions will not be followed if the land is acquired for public purpose. However, it will remain in place for acquisition related to industrial development.Giving rationale behind bringing in such provisions, state Health Minister and in-charge of Revenue portfolio Nitin Patel, who was speaking on behalf of Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, said that it will take too much time for land acquisition if the current provision of Land Act is followed. After coming to power in 2014, the Narendra Modi government brought in amendments to Land Acquisition Act-2013. The NDA version, however, failed to pass the muster of Rajya Sabha as the BJP and allies lacked numbers in the Upper House. The Union government then dropped the idea of passage of the bill in Rajya Sabha and instead asked states to amend the law suiting them.While presenting the bill in the Assembly today, Patel informed the members that as the principal Land Act is in the ‘concurrent’ list, the state government can bring amendments in it through the bill.”Our aim is to expedite process of land acquisition for various social sector projects, such as building Narmada canals, affordable houses for the needy citizens, land for industrial corridor, bullet train project, rural infrastructure and many other pro-people projects,” he said.In the original Act, a head of the department is liable to face criminal proceedings and punished as per the law, if he is found guilty of any misdeeds related to land acquisition process. However, the government replaced the provision with a milder one.As per the bill, proceedings against head of the department will be subject to government’s consent, without which he could not be prosecuted directly by court.”Further, we also need to speed up the process to allot land to Army and Air Force for building their infrastructure, which is vital to national security. Further, Gujarat also needs to promote defence manufacturing sector by allowing units to be set up in the state,” Patel said.”Through this bill, we are doing away with Social Impact Assessment clause, as it consumes lot of time. Further, it will not be necessary for the government to acquire consent of 80 per cent affected parties if we are acquiring land for social and defence sector,” he said.The state government also inserted/ replaced some provisions through the bill. It introduced a new provision of land acquisition through direct consent of land owners.”In the original Act, there is no mention about procedure to be followed when the land owners want to give away their land voluntarily. Our bill inserted a provision of ‘consent award’ for such acquisition. We have been following this practice in Gujarat since long,” he said.The new bill replaced a key provision related to the punishment for departmental heads associated with land acquisition, who are found guilty of irregularities.Apart from the social and defence sector projects, the bill proposes to exempt from SIA industrial corridors set up by the state government and its undertakings, where it is required to acquire land up to 1 km on both sides of designated railway line or road.In addition, the infrastructure projects under PPP mode, where land continues to vest with the government, are also exempted from social impact assessment and consent clause.

Flyover collapses in Kolkata: Army, NDRF teams race against time to rescue people trapped under debris

Original post:  Flyover collapses in Kolkata: Army, NDRF teams race against time to rescue people trapped under debris

Congress hails Modi’s remarks on terrorism, says PM should expose Pakistan

The Congress on Thursday hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on terrorism and said that he should expose Pakistan every time he gets an opportunity, as the estranged neighbour has been a very old culprit as far as promoting terrorism is concerned.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit told ANI that India should bring in to light Pakistan’s malicious deeds every time possible, as now many other countries are getting affected.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I believe that Prime Minister should use every opportunity to expose what Pakistan is doing on India and now that many other countries are getting effected they must also realise that there are state actors across the world who are indulging in these kinds of activities and Pakistan has been a very old culprit as far as promoting terrorism is concerned,” he said.In the backdrop of terror attacks that claimed many lives in Brussels, Prime Minister Modi on Wednesday while addressing the Indian diaspora in Belgium, highlighted the dangers posed by terrorism to the world.Underlining that terrorism needs to be delinked from religion, Modi also said that the menace posed challenge to humanity and those believing in humanity should collectively fight it.

West Bengal polls: Seven candidates to contest with less than Rs 1,000 in pocket

Kolkata: At least seven candidates in the first phase of West Bengal Assembly polls own less than Rs 1,000, with one of them having zero net worth.

Pabitra Bauri, fighting from Para (SC) constituency in Purulia district on a ticket by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), has no money neither in cash nor in bank account, according to the affidavit he submitted before the Election Commission.

Election_India_reutersElection_India_reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The 32-year-old social worker owns no other assets too nor has any liabilities as mentioned in his self-sworn affidavit.

“I am unemployed and involved in social work. I don’t have any money,” Bauri told PTI admitting he was never active in politics till recently.

Four others from SUCI (C) and two from BSP have net worth less than a thousand rupees, according to their affidavits.

SUCI(C) candidate Tanushree Dalai who is fighting from West Midnapore’s Chandrakona (SC) constituency has shown cash in hand of Rs 500 only and claims to possess no other financial assets at all.

The 29-year-old who completed his MA in 2009 from Kharagpur College lives in Khudmarai village with her parents. A newcomer to politics, she has described her profession as social worker.

Lalmohan Malla, fighting on a BSP ticket from Bankura, has not declared any cash in hand and has a savings bank account with a meager balance of Rs 500.

He describes himself as a fishermen and has left the education column blank in his nomination papers.

Sadhan Chattaraj, a farmer from Onda seat, too has only 500 rupees in his pocket. He is fighting on a BSP ticket. None of them have PAN cards.

Similarly, Dipak Kumar and Suniti Mudi who are fighting on SUCI (C) tickets from Purulia district’s Manbazar and Balarampur seats have only Rs 500 with them.

Rajib Mudi fighting from West Midnapore’s Maoist-affected Binpur area is the richest amongst them having Rs 975 in his pocket.

Papers of all of these candidates have passed the scrutiny test of the Election Commission.

The first phase of the six-phase-long polling will be held in two parts – 4 and 11 April.

These “poor” candidates will be competing for votes against some “rich” candidates as the average assets of all candidates is Rs 48 lakh, according to analysis by West Bengal Election Watch.

Total 49 seats in West Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura and Burdwan districts are part of this phase where 296 candidates are trying their luck.

PTI

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