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Jung not over? LG Anil Baijal non-commital on fixing relationship with Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former bureaucrat Anil Baijal took over as 20th Lt Governor of Delhi and struck a cautious note on where the LG’s office will stand in repairing the fractured relationship between the Centre and AAP government which had hit rock bottom under his predecessor. 70-year-old Baijal, who had served in a number of key positions at the Centre including as Union Home Secretary, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini, 10 days after Najeeb Jung’s abrupt resignation as the LG.Baijal said addressing key challenges like women’s safety, pollution, traffic congestion and strengthening infrastructure will be his priority areas.The oath ceremony was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Delhi Chief Secretary MM Kutty, leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta among others.On being asked about tussle between previous LG Jung and the city government on a range of issues including administrative control over the bureaucracy, Baijal said, “This is speculative. I don’t know why and how the relationship will improve. We will sit and talk and then you will get to know.”Welcoming Baijal’s appointment, Kejriwal said he was hopeful that under the new LG, governance in the national capital will see new momentum overcoming the past hurdles.”I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for overall development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to a standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said at an event at Delhi Assembly complex.Baijal said he will put his best efforts in improving law-and-order situation, women’s safety, traffic congestion besides strengthening infrastructure and civic amenities in the city.”Delhi is a megapolis which has several problems like women safety, law and order, huge population, infrastructure, civic agencies and congestion. We all know about these problems. We will work with elected government to solve them,” he told reporters. Baijal also thanked President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving him the responsibility. A 1969-batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries.He was actively associated with the designing and countrywide roll-out of Rs 60,000-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Urban Development Secretary. He had served as vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority and is known to be well versed with the city administration.The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including NSA Doval.Baijal, known to follow the rule book, will have to take a series of important decisions including on the report of Shunglu committee, set up by Jung to examine over 400 files pertaining to decisions taken by the AAP government in the last two years.The Shunglu committee has reportedly pointed out “irregularities” in some of the Kejriwal government’s decisions.His immediate task will also include appointing a new chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) which has been headless since November after the appointment of incumbent Krishna Saini was turned down by Jung.Jung and the AAP dispensation had clashed over a range of issues including transfer and posting of bureaucrats, setting up of enquiry commissions and among others.There was a running battle between L-G office and Kejriwal government with the latter constantly challenging the former’s supremacy in the city administration.Jung had won the court battle as the Delhi High Court had stamped the primacy of Lt Governor in the affairs of Government of NCT.However, AAP government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court verdict and during a recent hearing in the case, the apex court had said the elected government should have some powers.

Hope stalled work expedited under new LG: Arvind Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said he is hopeful the works that have come to a standstill in the national capital will be expedited under new Lt Governor Anil Baijal.Baijal (70), a former Union Home Secretary, took over as the Lt Governor of Delhi today. “I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said.Baijal’s predecessor Najeeb Jung and the Delhi government have been at loggerheads on a range of issues including transfer and posting of officers since AAP came to power. On being asked about his relationship with the AAP government after taking oath, Baijal said, “This is a speculative thing and I don’t know how the relationship will improve. We will sit together and talk.” Baijal was administered the oath of office and secrecy of Lt Governor by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini.Apart from the Chief Minister, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, judges, Delhi Chief Secretary M M Kutty, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Water Minister Kapil Mishra, New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, Opposition leader Vijender Gupta and other two BJP MLAs O P Sharma and Jadgish Pradhan, senior bureaucrats attended the oath-taking ceremony. Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, besides holding key positions in other ministries.He had retired in 2006 as secretary of the Urban Development Ministry. He was also the vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority. Baijal was actively associated with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

NGO aims to create Zero Waste Zones in Capital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Planting and sustaining 100 million trees by 2040 and managing as much as 50 per cent of the city’s waste by 2025 — These are some of the ambitious aims of the non-profit organisation Hara Jeevan. The group has a plan to make various places in the Capital ‘Zero Waste Zones’.Among other goals, the group also wants to spread awareness among youth and involve them in causes to save the environment. At present, their short-term goal is to manage as much as 5,000 metric tonnes of waste in Delhi by 2020.Members of the two-year-old organisation have been talking to RWAs, housing societies, and companies for the Zero Waste project. “The household waste management roadmap includes two steps — segregation of waste, and involvement of locals, including women and children, to spread awareness in the locality,” said Mohit Saini, a member of the NGO.The campaigners plan to set up a system of different bins in office premises. The waste collectors at homes will request people to give them segregated waste, following which manual segregation will also be done by the collectors. “The collected waste will then be processed. Biodegradable waste will be converted into manure, non-biodegradable waste such as paper, card board, plastic, and metal can be sold. The third category of waste includes thermocol, tetra packs, plastic wrappers, diapers, and medical waste, which cannot be sold,” Saini told DNA.The NGO is also in talks with the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for processing of agri-waste, such as leaves, branches, and twigs, which will be converted into manure through mesh composting, which is a major requirement for the ‘Zero Waste Zones’.“We have already started the processing of waste from temples through mesh composting,” Saini said, adding, that the processing of waste from weddings and parties will be started gradually.“A team from Hara Jeevan will train the collectors on segregation of waste, composting, harvesting, and so on. We will also send train members in shredding, mixing in pits, sieving of compost generated etc,” he added.As part of the campaign, during the initial sessions, residents and employees in a particular place will be sensitised regarding segregation, waste management, its need and benefits. This would then be followed by the collection of waste by people hired through the RWAs. These collectors already collect waste from various localities, charging Rs 100 per house. The campaigners plan to give more money to collectors for waste segregation. “We are starting from SDA C-4 block, but intend to take the campaign further to Vasant Kunj, Vasant Vihar, and different societies of Rohini Sector 13. Following this, we plan to implement the plan throughout the National Capital Region (NCR),” Saini said.All they projects have primarily been funded by the NGO, but it intends to involve corporate houses as well as see the manure to generate revenue.

‘How can you just forget her,’ ask parents of December 16 Delhi gangrape victim

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The parents of the December 16 gangrape victim on Thursday voiced their displeasure in no uncertain terms with the government naming the “one-stop” crisis centres for women ‘Sakhi’ instead of Nirbhaya, alleging it was a bid to erase the memory of their daughter from public discourse.”Initially, the Women and Child Development Ministry had announced setting up one-stop crisis centres across the country and name them ‘Nirbhaya centres’. But as the project rolled out, they named them ‘Sakhi’. It’s not done!” said Asha Devi, mother of the victim.”What happened with my daughter had sent a message to the society and government that crimes against women has crossed all boundaries and that we need to wake up and act. How can you just forget her,” she asked the government.Nirbhaya centres, or Sakhi centres, are a one-stop crisis centre for women in distress and are funded by Union government. They are to be set up in all 640 districts and 20 additional locations across the country.The programme to launch such centres was conceived as a tribute to the victim of the December 16, 2012 gang-rape case.But Asha Devi alleged the government was trying to wipe off the account of their daughter’s sufferings. “Government and society can forget her, but how can I? Her face flashes before my eyes the moment I close them, and then I look deeper in her eyes and I could feel the pain she endured on that fateful night and I wake up with a soul-shattering chill.” The victim’s father, Badri Singh Pandey, rued that the Nirbhaya Fund, a corpus announced by Union government in 2013 budget, was not being “properly utilised” and that there still were several dark spots in the city, which needed to be lit.”A substantial amount of Rs 500 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund is being used on installing CCTV cameras at railway stations, but that should have been done by the Railways. Tell me, how many victims of rape have been benefited by the fund,” he said.The parents visited ‘Gandhi Samadhi’ on Thursday to remember their 23-year-old daughter, who died on December 29, 2012, at a hospital in Singapore where she was airlifted from Delhi.Four of her six rapists have been lodged in jail as they have appealed against their death penalty. One committed suicide and another, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was released after spending three years at a correctional home.According to Delhi Police statistics, 2,199 rape cases were registered in the capital in 2015 and till November 30 this year, 1,981 cases of rape have been reported.As per National Crime Records Bureau, Delhi has highest rate of crimes against women among all cities in India. Last year, the total number of cases of crime against women in Delhi was 17,104.

No more ‘Jung’ as Anil Baijal becomes Delhi’s L-G

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former IAS official, Anil Baijal on Wednesday replaced Najeeb Jung as Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor. Jung resigned from the post last week.Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the decision was taken by President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday after he accepted Jung’s resignation.External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to congratulate Baijal. “I welcome Shri #AnilBaijal as the Lt.Governor of Delhi, (SIC)” Swaraj tweeted.Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had previously served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and has held the several key positions in other ministries.Officials said that while Baijal’s name was recommended by the MHA, the papers reached the President’s office on Tuesday evening.Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Secretary, Urban Development Ministry and has served as the former Vice-Chairman of Delhi Development Authority.He is also credited with the designing and roll-out of the Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) which was launched by the UPA government.Jung’s sudden resignation had come as a surprise to many including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “I spoke to Najeeb Jung over the phone and he said that he has resigned for personal reasons. We wish him all the best for future and look forward to working with the new L-G,” media reports quoted Kejriwal as saying.Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain, who was at loggerheads with Jung over a host of issues — including the foreign visits by AAP ministers, also met the outgoing LG on Wednesday.Jung became Delhi LG in July 2013, replacing Tajender Khanna, another IAS officer. A former IAS official of 1973 batch, he was initially posted in Madhya Pradesh and was last associated with Jamia Millia Islamia, where he was the vice-chancellor from 2009-2013.The former L-G had constantly been in the news for the past two years for his confrontation with the AAP’s Delhi Government and Chief Minister Kejriwal. He had also formed the committee chaired by VK Shunglu on August 30, to examine 400 files on decisions taken by the Kejriwal regime.

Govt approves Rs 11,000 crore road projects for areas hit by worst Left-wing extremism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has approved an over Rs 11,000-crore project to construct all-weather roads and improve connectivity for security reasons in nearly 40 districts worst hit by the Left-wing extremism and violence.Approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), the ‘Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas’ will provide connectivity in 35 worst affected LWE districts – which account for 90% of total LWE violence in the country – and 9 adjoining districts, critical from security angle.To be implemented as a vertical under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, more than 5,400 kilometres of road would be constructed/upgraded and 126 bridges/cross drainage works would be taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 11,724.53 crore. The roads will be operable through the year, irrespective of weather conditions.The fund sharing for the LWE road project will be same as the PMGSY – in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and states for all states except for North Eastern and three Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) for which it is 90:10.Finance Ministry will allocate Rs 7,034.72 crore to the Ministry of Rural Development for the project during the implementation period 2016-17 to 2019-20. Ministry of Rural Development will be the responsible for sponsoring and implementing the project.The roads taken up under the scheme would include Other District Roads (ODRs), Village Roads (VRs) and upgrading of the existing Major District Roads (MDRs), that are critical from the security point of view.Bridges up to a span of 100 metres, critical from security angle, would also be funded on these roads. National and state highways have been excluded from the project.The roads to be constructed under the scheme have been identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the state governments and security agencies.PMGSY was launched in 2000 as a centrally-sponsored scheme with the objective to provide all-weather road connectivity to all eligible unconnected habitations in the rural areas.

Tanker overturns on Mumbai-Goa highway, blocks traffic

Wed, 28 Dec 2016-09:35pm , Mumbai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A tanker carrying acetic acid overturned on the Mumbai-Goa national highway on Wednesday morning.Three bystanders were injured as they were hit by stones which flew off as the tanker turned turtle on the roadside at around 9:45 am at Dasgaon village near Mahad in Raigad district, highway police said.The tanker was heading for a textile company in Mahad from Chembur in Mumbai, police added.The accident caused a traffic jam on the busy road. Police also stopped the traffic for half an hour for cleaning up the chemical which leaked from the tanker.Apart from highway police and fire brigade personnels, experts from MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) also visited the spot to check the severity of the chemical. Traffic smoothened after noon.Injured persons were admitted to a hospital in Mahad.

Uttarakhand: PM Modi lays foundation stone of Chardham project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday laid the foundation stone of an ambitious project for all-weather roads to ‘Chardham’ saying he wanted to drive Uttarakhand to new peaks of development so that lack of job opportunities does not force its youths to leave the state.”There is an old saying in the hills of Uttrarakhand which means the waterbodies and youths of the mountains are not able to serve the land where they originate. “I have decided to prove this wrong. “I want to take Uttarakhand to new peaks of development where people are not forced by circumstances to leave their homes in the Himalayas and spend their lives in the dirty streets of cities in search of work,” Modi told a ‘Parivartan Maharally’ at the Parade Ground here after the foundation laying ceremony.The 900-km Chardham Highway Development programme will entail an investment of Rs 12,000 crore. The project will ensure uninterrupted all-weather safe journey for pilgrims to the four Himalayan shrines- Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and Kedarnath, which bore the brunt of the 2013 natural calamity. Promising people that he was going to drag Uttarakhand out of the “bottomless pit of corruption in which it was languishing under the present regime”, the PM said the state needs a double-engine, one at the Centre and the other in the state capital to pull it out of its woes.Making a reference to the alleged scam in relief funds in Uttarakhand, he said even a scooter with a capacity of five liters of oil could drink 35 liters of it. “Five or 50 people cannot drag Uttarakhand out of the bottomless pit of corruption it is in. “It needs a double engine of the BJP for the huge effort, one in Delhi and the other in Dehradun,” he said, asking them to install a BJP government in the state after 2017 elections and give the party an opportunity to build an Uttarakhand envisioned by Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had created it.Terming the project as a tribute to the thousands of devotees from all over India, who perished in the 2013 natural disaster in Uttarakhand, Modi said the all-weather roads will not only generate new employment opportunities for the youths in the hills but also enhance the sense of security of people coming to visit the chardham. Modi said it will give a boost to tourism by removing all fear from the minds of visitors bound for the Himalayan shrines about their safety along the disaster prone route in all sorts of weather.He said the project has been conceived with the help of international consultants so that there is no disruption along the route in any season.Explaining the delay in launching the project, Modi said he wanted to do something real for the development of the state and was not interested in doing politics or putting up a false show in the name of inaugurating development projects as was being done by some political parties.He said a lot of preparation and study in consultation with international experts has gone into working out the blueprint of the all-weather road project to the four famous Himalayan shrines located in the state. The Prime Minister highlighted the steps taken by his government to provide free LPG connections to poor BPL households and helping women lead a healthy smoke-free life in the remote hill areas of the state. He also spoke of what he had done for the implementation of OROP and his campaign against corruption and black money and sought the blessings of the people of the state in his fight against graft.

When PDP came to power last year, development process had to be started afresh: Mehbooba Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti said on Tuesday the political process and governance in the state have to be carried out simultaneously and asked her party workers to play their role in creating a congenial atmosphere for that. “It has been the biggest success of our party to convince the stakeholders that the political process and governance in Jammu and Kashmir have to be carried out together.”When the party was voted to power in 2002, it not only carried forward its development agenda, but the political process in the state took off, resulting in initiation of dialogue and many major state-specific confidence building measures,” she told a gathering of PDP workers in Srinagar. The chief minister expressed regret that the state had to undergo a “political drought” after the PDP demitted office in 2005 and the whole process had to be “restarted from zero” in 2015 when her father and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took over the reins again.”This was the biggest reason for the party to form the government in the state (with the BJP) so as to get the people out of the uncertainty which loomed large over them due to the political drought. “In fact, much of the reason for the recent turmoil in the Valley lies in the fact that political engagement was discontinued after 2005 and no more state-specific confidence building measures took place afterwards,” said Mehbooba.The PDP president said when the party took over last year, “everything had to be started afresh”. “Development and dialogue were made prominent components of the Agenda of Alliance (PDP’s common minimum programme with the BJP) and the government had just started to roll out its agenda.”However, certain elements inimical to peace and development in the state worked to derail the process. The whole process got stuck due to the turmoil of the last five months during which not only the government, but every section of the society in Kashmir got affected and bruised,” she said.Mehbooba said though the delay in carrying forward the development process would be compensated, the lives lost and the setback the state’s political process received were “irreparable”. She asked the party workers to make people aware of the “nefarious designs” of these “vested elements” who were only interested in “death and destruction in the state”.The chief minister asked the people to help her maintain peace in the state so that besides development, dialogue with all the stakeholders, opening of routes, more relief to the people and other state-specific measures could be undertaken.

Ground reality of delivering social justice in India dismal: Vice President Hamid Ansari

Bengaluru: Vice President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said the ground reality of delivering social justice in India is dismal even after 70 years of legislating welfare laws and adjudicating measures.

“Where do we stand on the ladder of equity? This is a question that citizens of the republic can ask the state after 70 years of legislating welfare laws and adjudicating measures to deliver social justice.”

“The ground reality is dismal,” he said during the inaugural address at the 9th National Conference of the Indian Association of Lawyers here.

Quoting from a report by wealth research firm New World Wealth, the vice president said India is the 12th most inequitable economy in the world, with 45 percent of wealth controlled by millionaires.

File photo of Vice President Hamid Ansari. PTI

File photo of Vice President Hamid Ansari. PTI

Citing another report, published by financial agency Credit Suisse, he said almost half of India’s total wealth was in the hands of the richest one percent, while the top 10 percent controlled about 74 percent of it.

“The poorest 30 percent, meanwhile, had just 1.4 percent of the total wealth,” he added.

Ansari said despite significant social and economic transformation, caste hierarchies continue to remain deeply entrenched and caste relations often result in violent outcomes.

He also said that according to a 2010 report by the National Human Rights Commission on the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes.

“Data culled from National Human Rights Commission indicates that, in 2012, 37 percent Dalits lived below the poverty line, 54 percent were undernourished, 83 per 1,000 children born in a Dalit household died before their first birthday and 45 percent remained illiterate,” he said.

The data also shows that Dalits are prevented from entering the police station in 28 percent of Indian villages, their children have been made to sit separately while eating in 39 percent government schools, and Dalits do not get mail delivered to their homes in 24 percent of villages.

India is placed 130th in the Human Development Index among 188 countries, Ansari said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:18 IST

Railways asks West Bengal govt to take charge of all ongoing & new projects

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railways has sent a letter to the West Bengal government stating that from now on the state has to take responsibilities of all ongoing and upcoming projects of the suburban system as well as Metro Railway.According to a highly-placed source at the state secretariat Nabanna, the letter addressed to the Chief Secretary, the Transport Secretary and the Urban Development Secretary, was sent last week from the Railways Works Planning Directorate.It stated that the Railways, in the last few years had incurred losses of around to Rs 15,000 crore due to delay in projects including Metro Rail projects, which were either delayed or stalled because of various hindrances.In the letter, the Railways has asked the state government to take responsibilities about removal and rehabilitation of encroaches on its land, feasibility study of any proposed project and so on, the officer said.It has also proposed the state can utilise funds meant for urban transport projects or can levy different forms of taxes and development fees to releasing project costs, he said.Incidentally, a couple of months back the Centre had verbally given similar proposals to the state government, which the latter had dismissed, the officer added.

West Delhi school kids move NGT for more green cover

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aggrieved by the poor air quality due to industries and lack of green cover that is affecting their health, six teenagers from Mundka-Kirari suburbs in West Delhi have moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to seek an increase in green cover and to oppose proposed expansion of industrial activity. The six teenagers — aged between 12 and 16 years — attend schools in the Mundka-Kirari industrial belt and their petition was admitted by the Tribunal last week.The industrial belt in question is spread across eleven municipal wards of Mundka, Nangloi Jat West, Nilothi, Pratap Vihar, Nithari, Kirari Suleman Nagar, Prem Nagar, Sultanpur Majra, Sultanpuri South, Pooth Kalan and Nangloi East. The petition claimed that pollution emitted from industries in this belt is severely affecting the health of “more than 1 lakh children studying in these schools,” and that several students are suffering from breathing problems, especially during winters.Quoting results from the Centre for Science and Environment pollution test of the area, the petition said that PM 2.5 level for 24 hour average was found to be 556 µg/m3, which was 3.8 times higher than rest of Delhi. The petitioners point out that even as the area is already facing poor air quality, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation has proposed to use 147 acres of vacant land for more industrial activity.“Of the 4,626 acres of land in 11 municipal wards, a mere 1 per cent is green whereas 1,400 acres or more than 30 per cent is an industrial area, 62 per cent is a residential area and rest is commercial area. As the area is already highly polluted… it is submitted that no further development of industries should be permitted in the area until existing pollution levels are brought down to permissible levels,” the petitioners prayed.Local residents also approached the Delhi Chief Minister’s office and the Delhi Development Authority with 5,000 signatures to convert the 147 acres into a biodiversity park, the petition claimed. Dewan Singh, a member of the Mundka Kirari Harit Abhiyan, Spoke to DNA said, “There are more than 50 schools in this area and whenever children go out for recreation, they are affected by the industrial pollution.”

President Mukherjee, PM Modi congratulate DRDO scientists on Agni-V test

India successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable, inter-continental ballistic missile Agni 5, that has a range of over 5,000 km. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi today congratulated the DRDO scientists on the successful test-firing of nuclear-capable intercontinental missile Agni-V, saying it will add tremendous strength to the country’s strategic defence.”Congratulations DRDO for successfully test firing Agni V. It will enhance our strategic and deterrence capabilities,” Mukherjee tweeted after the test-firing of India’s most lethal missile from Abdul Kalam island off Odisha coast.The Prime Minister credited it to the hardwork of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and its scientists.”Successful test firing of Agni V makes every Indian very proud. It will add tremendous strength to our strategic defence,” he said.It is the fourth developmental and second canisterised trial of the missile, which has a range of over 5,000 km.

Launch of Agni-5 a great technological, military achievement: DRDO

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO) on Monday said the launch of intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-5 is a major achievement for India both in terms of technology and military might.Former DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said that with this missile capabilities, current advisories will not dare to attack India with any nuclear weapon. “It is a bold statement of India strength for peace. We are a peaceful country and we want to work for establishing peace in the region. I believe peace is possible when you are strong. So, this a major quantum jam in the deterrent capability of India and with this missile capabilities I am sure that the current advisories will not dare to attack India with any nuclear weapon,” he said.He said missile that has been launched till now was to test India’s testing capabilities but the real equipped with nuclear will be launched if India is under attack. “India has a declared policy of no frosty use and I hope that we never have to use it. That is only possible if we have this kind of capabilities”. the accuracy of the missile is very high when we launched this for the first time on April 19, 2012 it was a dawn of a new era of technology,” he added.Unlike other missiles of Agni series, ‘Agni-5’ is the most advanced having some new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.The indigenously-developed surface-to-surface missile, Agni-5, is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 km. It is about 17-metre long, two-metre wide and has launch weight of around 50 tonnes.The missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne. It is the fourth developmental and second canisterised trial of the long range missile.While the first test was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second test was carried out on September 15, 2013, and the third on January 31, 2015 from the same base.

Agni-V: India conducts successful missile test, President Pranab Mukherjee congratulates

Bhubaneswar: India on Monday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-V from the Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast in Balasore district.

This is the fourth and final test of the missile.

It was launched around 11.05 a.m. from a mobile launcher complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR), defence sources said.

“We are analysing the test launch after collecting information from radars. The report suggests it is a successful launch,” said an official source.

Representational image. Image courtesy News18

Representational image. Image courtesy News18

President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the successful launch.

“Congratulations DRDO for successfully test firing Agni-V. It will enhance our strategic and deterrence capabilities,” Mukherjee said in a tweet.

The missile is developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.

The Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V has the capability to strike targets anywhere in all of Asia and parts of Africa and Europe.

Agni-V is one of the most advanced missiles, which is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 km. It is about 17 metres long, 2-metre wide and has launch weight of around 50 tonnes.

The missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.

Once the Agni-V is inducted in the Indian military, India will join the super exclusive club of countries with ICBMs alongside the US, Russia, China, France and Britain.

The first test of Agni-V was conducted on 19 April 2012, while the second test was launched on September 15, 2013 and the third was on 31 January 2015.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 13:28 IST

Delhi: Kathputli Colony residents fear relocation will kill their art

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Artistes have to shift to one-room tenements, which they say are too small to store their artworks; they are also concerned that new neighbours may object to their late-evening rehearsals.”We clearly told them to go back. We are not going to let them encroach upon our land,” says Rashmi Singh, 25, a resident of India’s largest artistes’ ghetto — Kathputli Colony, literally meaning the Puppet Colony.The 3,000-odd families in the locality have been living in constant fear of losing their homes to Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) bulldozers since last week, when DDA officials, accompanied by policemen, asked them to vacate the area and shift to a transit camp at Anand Parbat, till the colony is redeveloped.The residents of the colony include puppeteers, magicians, acrobats, storytellers, folk singers, dancers and painters, among others. Almost all the families, originally from different parts of the country, settled here nearly 45 years ago.”My grandparents, who were puppeteers, moved here from the Alwar district of Rajasthan. Since then, we have been living here. How can the DDA ask us to leave our homeland?” Rashmi asks.On Friday, Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain extended his support to Kathputli Colony residents, and wrote a letter to Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, stating that residents were being “forced” to leave the area.The colony was the first slum taken up for in-situ redevelopment by the DDA in 2009, in collaboration with private firm Raheja Developers. As per the plan, families will have to move to single-room temporary houses in a resettlement area in Anand Parbat, till the construction of their permanent houses in the Kathputli Colony is completed.Nearly 500 families had moved to make-shift homes in 2013, while rest of them refused to do so, saying the DDA should give them written assurance that every family would get a house, and also sought to know the time it would take to build their permanent houses. Prabhat Singh, 52, says demolition of Kathputli Colony will also demolish their art. “Can you imagine fitting in artworks of half-a-century in a single-room flat?”he asks.He adds: “The resettlement will affect our freewheeling lifestyle. Once the artistes start living in expensive flats, their lifestyle will change and egos will inflate. We live like gypsies. Our day starts in the evening, when we start practicing, and it goes on till late in the night. Will the new neighbours allow us to organise our rehearsals?” Puran Bhatt, a resident who had been spearheading protests against the DDA, says: “The residents of Kathputli Colony have represented the country throughout the world. Even the government calls us to perform when a foreign delegation visits. But when it comes to our rights, it turns mute.”

NDMC schools’ records to be digitised soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Soon, records of all schools registered under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will be available online.The Council is all set to launch the School Automation Software, digitalising records for admission, classrooms, timetable, and attendance of both teachers and students. “The project is in the final stage. The groundwork has been done and now the vendor has to be selected. The plan will come in to effect from the next session,” a senior NDMC official said. He further said it was becoming difficult to review schools’ performance due to shortage of manpower. “Records are maintained manually and registers are used to mark attendance, exam schedule, and so on for students. So, we came up with this idea as a part of Smart Classes,” he added. NDMC has set up 444 Smart Classes in its 30 schools, with e-learning facilities in Class VI-XII, to raise the standard of education.Computers, short throw projectors, white boards and CCTV cameras have been installed in several schools. Soon, students would also be given laptops to reduce the weight of school bags. The NDMC has roped in digital learning solutions provider Extra Marks Education for the initiative.Meanwhile, the Council is working to rope in retired education officers, who can adopt a school and mentor it in order to improve the quality of education. The Council had also organised a three-day School Science Fair with an aim to inculcate scientific temperament among schoolchildren.Over 500 students from 52 NDMC schools participated in the exhibition, where more than 155 models from four streams — science, work experience, mathematics and nursery exhibition — were displayed. Models were displayed on the theme of Food Security and Production, Disease Prevention and Cure, Research and Development in Industry, Sustainable Practices in Industry, Transportation and Communication, and Sustainable Environment and Green Energy.

Successive BSP, SP governments have ousted development, good governance from UP: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Development and good governance have been ousted from Uttar Pradesh by the successive governments of BSP and SP and these will be brought back if BJP is voted to power, senior party leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lucknow on Saturday. Singh, while participating in the last of the party’s four ‘Parivartan Yatras’ which had started on November 5, said there were clear indications that people of the state want a change.The state is currently ruled by Samajwadi Party and the next Assembly elections are due in few months. “Development and good governance which were exiled by the SP and BSP will be brought back through the BJP government after the coming Assembly polls in the state,” said the Lok Sabha member from Lucknow. “Parivartan yatras are ending in Lucknow..I too have got a chance to take part in public meetings during the yatras..on the basis of the information I have got from different sources, I can say that the amount of love people of UP have given to these yatras had never come BJP’s way in any of the yatras in the past,” he said.He added, “The surging crowds in these yatras have clealy indicated that people of the state want a change.” Justifying demonetization, Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi took this decision in national interest and increased its respect at the global level. Accompanied by drum beaters and slogan shouting supporters, the yatra took form of a road show in the state capital on Saturday with partymen setting up raised platforms and dais all along the route.Besides Singh, other senior leaders including Kalraj Misra, Uma Bharti and Keshav Prasad Maurya also took part in the roadshow. They also garlanded the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar and other leaders as a mark of respect and took a resolve to uproot SP government and instal BJP government in the coming elections. Four ‘Parivaran Yatras’ were flagged off from four corners of UP — Saharanpur, Jhansi, Sonebhadra and Ballia — in which senior leaders and union ministers took part at different places and held public meetings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed six public meetings during this programme.The yatra which touched all the 403 assembly segments of the state covered a distance of more than 17,162 kms. BSP president Mayawati and Congress termed BJP yatras as ‘divert attention yatras’ from the “unfulfilled promises” of the BJP. “These yatras were organised in order to divert people’s attention from the promises made by the BJP and which have still remained unfulfilled,” Mayawati said in a statement. “Although BJP used all resources at its disposal and its top leaders including the PM Modi also participated in these yatras, there was no enthusiasm among the people,” Mayawati said.The “ill-planned” note ban is yet another decision of the Modi government to divert attention from the failure. “The note ban decision has however become a thorn in the flesh of the BJP and people are now afraid as to what all is in store for them and this is a very unfortunate situation,” she said. Congress spokesman Ashok Kumar said there was no impact of the yatra in Lucknow on Saturday and note ban has become a big problem for the common people who have come to know the reality of the BJP.

Cashless economy is ‘bigger dream’ than achche din: Akhilesh Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at Narendra Modi’s demonetization move, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav termed cashless economy as a “bigger dream” than ‘achche din’ and said the note ban will be an issue in the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.”The dream of cashless economy is a bigger one than achche din… it is however for the government to see how it will be realised,” he said at a function to distribute cheques to the families of martyrs and 14 persons who allegedly lost their lives while standing in queues outside ATMs/banks after demonetization. Attacking the BJP government on note ban, Yadav, without taking names, alleged that people have been betrayed and economy harmed.”Earlier (when the note ban was announced) people had faith, or rather confusion, that a big change will be brought… but soon after the very same people started saying that there could not have been a bigger loss to the economy… national and international economists are also writing about it. “It is for the government to see how it will work out the losses to the GDP but it is a fact the people had to face hardships and I have said earlier too that the government which pose problems are voted out by people,” he said, adding that in the coming elections those who had faced problems will stand against them.Uttar Pradesh is the first state in the country to announce compensation for the families of those who allegedly died while queuing up outside banks and ATMs for long post demonetization.Chief Minister had earlier this month announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the families of ‘demonetization victims’. Giving examples of major risk in online transactions, Yadav said one of the accused arrested for fraudulently withdrawing money from someone’s account said that he was caught because he was a “novice”.”Anyone who becomes an expert in cyber crime will never be arrested,” the Chief Minister said after presenting cheques of Rs two lakh each to the families of 14 people who allegedly died while standing in bank queues.To a question on what will be the election issue, Yadav said “Development, road, water all will be elections issues… why would note ban not be an election issue”.Taking a dig at the BJP, Yadav said he has come to know that the ‘parivartan rath yatra’ was attacked by those standing in bank queue in Deoria recently… They need to remain alert while taking out the rath yatra and avoid banks on the route.” When asked about alliance, Yadav said party president Mulayam Singh Yadav will decide on alliance. “I have already said that SP is going to form a government and if we go into the polls in an alliance we will win more than 300 seats,” he said.Claiming that the next SP government will take forward the works undertaken by the present regime, Yadav said the state needs to be taken on a new direction towards development and prosperity. Over Centre’s schemes, Yadav said UP government was extending full support to central schemes saying that AIIMS was coming up in Rae Bareli and Gorakhpur only because the state provided land for it.”But if there is any scheme which farmers do not like or feel that they will not benefit from it what can UP government do.. it is for them to explain the benefits of their scheme to farmers and take their schemes to poor… take Jan Dhan Yojna, first it was stated that it is for the poor and when money was deposited it was termed as black money,” he said. Yadav reiterated that UP has had to suffer loss worth Rs 9,000 crore after Niti Ayog came into being.

PM Modi to launch Chardham Highway Development programme in Dehradun

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch a 900-km Chardham Highway Development programme in Dehradun on Tuesday, with an investment of Rs 12,000 crore.Modi will also lay the foundation of those road projects under the programme that have already been sanctioned, a road ministry official said. “The Prime Minister will launch the Chardham Highway Development programme (Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna) on December 27, at 12:30 pm in Dehradun,” the official said.”Out of the Rs 12,000 crore, around Rs 3,000 crore projects have already been sanctioned and tendered. The connectivity to Chardham has been disrupted, especially after the devastating floods in Uttarakhand, hence the programme,” he said. “So, there are various problems identified. A team of experts was appointed, including consultants from IIT and other various places, to identify these bottlenecks. They have identified various zones,” he said.There are a few zones that are landslide prone, which come across as a major bottleneck for connectivity in Uttarakhand, he added. “So, the programme envisages building of tunnels, viaducts, bridges, and bypasses,” he explained.Throughout the entire state, way-side amenities will be developed, including helipad for emergency evacuation, proper parking facilities and the like, he added.Earlier in the year, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari had announced that the Centre will build a 900-km road linking the four Himalayan shrines of Uttarakhand also known as chardham.

Agra-Lucknow Expressway to open for commuters today: Akhilesh Yadav’s development spree continues

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav‘s ambitious new Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which was inaugurated in November, will open for commuters on Friday. Akhilesh, who plans to contest the upcoming Assembly elections in the state on the plank of development, on Thursday also laid the foundation of Purvanchal Expressway project which will connect Lucknow to Ghazipur. With Assembly polls likely to be announced any time now, Akhilesh has been on a ribbon cutting spree since the start of the week and set a record of sorts.

The 302-kilometre-long six-lane expressway, which is India’s longest, is expected to considerably reduce the travel time between Lucknow and Delhi which usually takes 12 to 14 hours. The dream project of Akhilesh was inaugurated in Bangarmau by his father and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on the eve of latter’s birthday at least a month ago.In a first for any road launch, six fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday made a touchdown barely skimming the road before taking off to mark the opening of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway which can be also used for war-like emergency situations.

The Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which was built in a record time of 23 months, is expected to reduce the road travel time between Delhi and Lucknow by five to six hours. According to The Financial Express, the Agra-Lucknow Expressway has a design speed of up to 120 kms per hour and will have automatic traffic management systems aimed at reducing road accidents and helping even at the time of fog. The report added that the six-lane expressway is expandable to eight lanes.

At a prepatory meeting, states chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar met with UP Expressways Industrial Development (UPEIDA) and police officials earlier this week to ensure that the necessary traffic management system, road safety and emergency services are in place. Quoting Bhatnagar, Hindustan Times reported, “Police officers have been told to provide one police van (Dial 100) and one ambulance (108 service) on every 30 kilometre stretch of the expressway and also set up requisite check posts.”

File photo of UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

File photo of UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

At the time of inauguration, three Mirage 2000 and three Sukhoi-30 jets of the IAF carried out the ‘touch and go’ on a portion of the newly constructed Expressway which has an RCC construction and reinforced and appropriately marked to facilitate aircraft landings. The portion used for the operations is located at Ganj Moradabad in Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh. The expressway has an 8-lane bridge across the river Ganga. This will connect Kanpur and Unnao.

The aim of the exercise is to check feasibility of Expressways being used as alternate airstrips in case of dire emergencies or non-availability of runways for any reason, a defence official said.

Reports said that the Expressway includes 4 rail over bridges, 13 major bridges, 57 minor bridges, 74 vehicular underpasses, 148 pedestrian underpasses and 9 flyovers. It also stretches across 10 districts, 236 villages and 3,500 hectares of land.

The Agra-Lucknow Expressway is considered to be a Greenfield project as there were no work constraints of existing buildings or infrastructure. Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) purchased almost 3,127 hectares of land without a murmur of dissent and decided to pay four times the circle rates (CR) to the land owners in rural areas and twice the CR in urban parts, as purchase cost. The rest of land was acquired through land acquisition method.

Mulayam, at the time of inauguration, congratulated officials for completing the Expressway in a record two years time along with the chief minister who took personal interest in it.

“At the time of laying of foundation stone of the Expressway, I had asked as to when it will be completed and when four years were asked for its completion I had refused to lay the foundation stone. Later, however, it was done giving 22 months for completing it. The result is before everyone to see that today the road is ready in two years. Earlier, it used to take 12 to 14 hours to reach Delhi and now the distance will be covered in far less time. It will be very beneficial for the people,” he said. Akhilesh said the project would prove to be an example before the country as no other state had such a vast expressway. “Samajwadis will go to the polls on the back of such great work,” the SP chief said.

“When roads are laid they lead to development, this road will connect capitals like New Delhi and Lucknow, it will have industries, petrol pumps and mandis along the route and on returning to power in Uttar Pradesh, the SP government will take this expressway further till Ghazipur and Ballia in record time, it will connect one end of the state to the other,” he said.

A high-level meeting held in November, which was presided over by the chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar, it was decided that every 30 km, on both sides of the 302-km long Expressway, a Dial-100 police vehicle and 108 Ambulance would be stationed for any emergencies. It was also instructed that signages and milestones be put up before the route is thrown open for public use. The chief secretary also ordered breath analysers and speed radars to check traffic violators on the Expressway.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 13:00 IST

Hundreds resist eviction from Delhi slum as new housing falls short | Reuters

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Hundreds of residents in a New Delhi slum are resisting eviction by city officials and police in the third such protest this month in India’s capital city, as anger mounts over a shortfall in housing for the urban poor, campaigners said.Evictions began this week in Kathputli Colony, home to 3,500 families of street performers and puppeteers, after authorities marked it for development as part of a plan to upgrade the city.City officials say residents were notified of the plan which involves moving them to a temporary location while a private builder constructs modest high-rise homes for a nominal sum.They say more than 500 families have already moved to temporary accommodation.”Residents were given sufficient notice. The police are on hand to maintain law and order,” said J.P. Agrawal, a principal commissioner with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).But some residents said they were not given the option of relocation, and that they received no notice of the eviction.

“No one told us it would be this week. Suddenly one morning we woke up and found hundreds of policemen in the colony,” said Dilip Bhatt, head of an artistes’ cooperative in the settlement.”We are surrounded by the police like we are criminals, and they have cut off water and power,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Television images showed police in riot gear, holding assault rifles and shields as residents gathered around them.

About a third of India’s 1.25 billion population lives in cities, with numbers rising every year as tens of thousands of people leave villages to seek better prospects. Many end up in overcrowded urban slums.A government plan to provide housing for all by 2022 is meant to create 20 million new urban housing units and 30 million rural homes.But the slow pace of implementation is leaving thousands homeless, according to advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN).

More than 33,000 families living in urban areas across India were forcefully evicted since January 2015 to make way for redevelopment projects, HLRN said on Thursday. In rural areas, more than 75,000 people were displaced.Only 2,776 houses were built in urban areas under the housing plan from June 2015 to August 2016, HLRN said.In several evictions, violence and arbitrary detentions have been reported, and there has been little or no consultation, advance notice, consent or compensation, HLRN said.”It is a sad irony that despite claims of providing ‘housing for all’, the government has destroyed many more homes than it has built over the last two years,” said Shivani Chaudhry, executive director of HLRN. (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

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

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 18:50 IST

Ahead of UP polls, PM Modi to visit Varanasi on Thursday; interact with booth-level workers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the crucial assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh just around the corner, the BJP’s grassroot level cadre in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency in Varanasi shall be looking forward to receiving from him the mantra for electoral success during his tour of the ancient temple town on Thursday.Interaction with nearly 20,000 booth-level party workers at the Diesel Locmotive Works (DLW) premises forms a major part of the Prime Minister’s itinerary in Varanasi​.Modi’s visit, which could be the last to his parliamentary constituency before the poll schedule is announced and the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, also includes flagging off of quite a few projects.These include laying of foundation stones for a cancer centre and a super-speciality hospital at the Benares Hindu University where Modi will also spend some time at the “Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav” (national cultural festival), a week-long event organised by the Union Ministry for Culture where artistes from across the country, some of them of international repute, have been performing.From BHU premises, Modi will leave for a brief tour of Kabir Nagar locality, named after the 17th century mystic and poet, and inspect underground cabling and heritage lighting work, which is being carried out as part of theIPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme) and HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) schemes.Thereafter the Prime Minister will reach DLW, where his political engagements will be preceded by laying of foundation stone for a 150-bed ESIC (Employee’s State Insurance Corporation) super speciality hospital and inauguration of a trade facilitation centre and a crafts museum besides launching of a number of schemes and projects under the Textiles Ministry.This would be Modi’s first tour of his parliamentary constituency since demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, that has drawn much flak from the opposition as the shortage of currency caused inconvenience to traders, salaried groups, artisans and unskilled daily wage earners alike. The PM’s message to the booth-level workers of the BJP, drawn from all five assembly segments falling under the Lok Sabha constituency, will set the tone for the party foot soldiers faced with a daunting task of holding their own in a state where politics has been dominated by two rival regional players – the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.From being a force to reckon with in the state in the 1990s, thanks to the momentum generated by the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation, the BJP underwent a steep decline in the first decade of the century. However, expectations have been high since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when the party stunned all by putting up its best-ever performance, winning 71 out of the 78 seats it had contested in the state.The spectacular comeback owed much to Modi’s decision to step out of Gujarat and contest from this eastern UP seat.The party’s performance in the assembly polls in the state — which is the most populous and hence sends maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha — will have a bearing on its future prospects on the national level.This will be Modi’s ninth tour of Varanasi since he became the Prime Minister in May, 2014. Significantly, Thursday’s visit will also be his fifth since January this year.The increased frequency of his trips here is seen as one of the many efforts being made by the BJP to improve its tally in the 403-strong UP assembly where it has less than 50 MLAs.

Odd-even cannot be implemented in one day, will happen after adequate preparations: Delhi govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government made it clear on Tuesday that the third phase of odd-even scheme will only happen in the city with prior adequate preparations and awareness to the people as Transport Minister Satyendar Jain conveyed it in the NCR Planning Board meeting chaired by Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu.Jain has asked the Centre to give the city administration sufficient time before asking it to implement the next round of car-rationing scheme as part of anti-pollution emergency measures. The main focus of the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) meeting was on the rising pollution level in the city.Earlier this month, the Centre had submitted in the Supreme Court its action plan to tackle the menace of air pollution and recommended slew of measures including ban on construction activities and implementation of odd-even scheme in the national capital. “In the NCR Planning Board meeting, I have requested the Centre to give us sufficient time before implementing the odd-even scheme so that we can sensitise people and generate awareness among the masses about it.”I have no objection on the next round of odd-even scheme. If Centre today says that odd-even will be implemented tomorrow, it cannot happen in one day. We need sufficient time before implementing the scheme,” Jain told reporters here.The minister also urged the central government to think about the livelihood of lakhs of labourers before banning construction activities as it has come to the notice that due to this move, labourers go to their native villages. “When the construction activities were recently banned in Delhi, most of labourers had gone to their villages. In view of this, I have requested the Union Minister to consider about their livelihood before taking any such decision,” he added.Jain said that during the meeting the report of IIT Kanpur on the city’s air pollution was also discussed, according to which there should be ban on power plants within radius of 300 km of Delhi. Apart from this, the report has also recommended controlling dust pollution through vacuum cleaning. “I raised both the issues in meeting and the Union Minister assured us to look into into,” Jain said, adding he also highlighted the delay in completion of three Urban Extension Roads being constructed by Delhi Development Authority (DDA).”There has already been a delay in completing these roads built in Outer Delhi. DDA has been constructing them for 15 years, but it is yet to complete them. “I have requested the Union Urban Development Minister to direct the agency to construct it as soon as possible so that there is no traffic congestion in Delhi,” he said.The Delhi government has also requested the Centre to construct Eastern and Western peripheral expressways at the earliest so that non-destined vehicles do not enter the city.

Rohith Vemula aftermath: 12 recommendations from HRD ministry and Podile stays on as V-C

A year ago, on 18 December 2015, Rohith Vemula — Dalit PhD scholar from the University of Hyderabad — wrote a letter dripping with sarcasm to the vice-chancellor of the university, V Appa Rao Podile, about the discrimination being meted out to Dalit students.

He wrote, offering a ‘solution for the Dalit problem’:

1. Please serve 10mg Sodium Azide to all the Dalit students at the time of admission. With direction to use when they feel like reading Ambedkar.
2. Supply a nice rope to the rooms of all Dalit students from your companion, the great Chief Warden.

As we, the scholars, PhD students have already passed that stage and already members of Dalit Self-Respect movement unfortunately, we here are left with no easy exit, it seems. Hence, I request your highness to make preparations for the facility “EUTHANASIA” for students like me. And I wish you and the campus rest in peace forever.”

A month later, on 17 January, 2016, Rohith Vemula committed suicide. The suicide rose to national importance as it shed light on a deeply disturbing, yet ignored facet of Indian universities: Caste discrimination. The February 2016 protests in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sparked important and much needed debates on freedom of speech and the right to dissent. The two incidents awoke a new political consciousness among students — spreading across various universities and campuses, students took to the streets in the national capital demanding justice for the Dalit scholar and an adequate response to the JNU crisis.

A file photo of Rohith VemulaA file photo of Rohith Vemula

A file photo of Rohith Vemula

While the goal should have been to introspect, what was achieved was nothing material — it was probed whether Rohith Vemula was in fact a Dalit, his mother was questioned.

He was a Dalit.

Then, he was not.

Then again, he was — mere distractions from addressing the elephant in the room. Political mileage was gained, Vemula’s name was on the Opposition’s lips hoping to score brownie points and Vemula’s name probably occupied a larger corner in the minds of those running the government.

Why are we going over these tiresome details of case forgotten? Didn’t we move on to other news? The National Anthem directive, perhaps? (no, we seem to be over that one too). These tiresome boring details must be revisited to address the people who haven’t forgotten, those who feel wronged by a system that perhaps isn’t there to support them in the first place.

What has come out of the Vemula suicide and the subsequent political storm?

One, a 12-point recommendation from the Ministry of Human Resources and Development on how to prevent campus suicides. The HRD ministry added six points to Roopanwal Commission’s six recommendations to curb campus suicides. The measures suggested by the ministry include a “strong induction programme  for better acclimatisation and establishing a local guardian system for outstation students,” “grievances of students should be discussed and dispensed with on weekly basis and vice-chancellors should hold monthly meetings.”

Two, Appa Rao Podile’s continued tenure as the the vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad. On Sunday, Dontha Prashanth, Seshaiah Chemudagunta and Vijay Kumar (Pedapudi), Vemula’s friends, fellow Dalits and PhD students who were also suspended along with Vemula from the University of Hyderabad wrote a letter to the President of India, urging him to remove Podile as the vice-chancellor of the university. He was reinstated even while protests were in full-swing, just a few months after the suicide. If the idea was to allay the burgeoning anger amid students, why wasn’t a man with sub-par academic qualifications, especially one with a history of unethical academic practices such as plagiarism allowed to continue as the university’s vice-chancellor?

Students asking for Podile’s removal is not new, such demands have been made earlier by the student body of the University of Hyderabad. Prashanth, Chemudagunta, Pedapudi had earlier written an open letter to the Prime Minister of India in August this year:

What action was taken after a committee appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development brought out the institutional lapses that led to Rohith’s suicide? Why did you not speak, Mr Prime Minister, when Smriti Irani spoke utter lies in Parliament? What happened to the Judicial Commission appointed by HRD Ministry which was supposed to submit its report by 1 August, 2016?

The anger in the University of Hyderabad has been simmering for a long time. 189 academics had written a letter to the President of India, seeking his intervention in the Rohith Vemula, asking for the dismissal of the vice-chancellor. JNU’s Kanhaiya Kumar and the face of the Indian student politics for well over a year wrote a dramatic letter to Smriti Irani about Vemula (and the state of Dalits in the country).

The three other students will perhaps continue writing letters because everything else has been done, yielding little to nothing. Simmering anger, growing resentment and disappointment make for powerful ink, but what if the system ends up being illiterate?

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 10:20 IST

‘Uberisation’ of India’s domestic work market has benefits and risks | Reuters

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A booming digital market matching Indian domestic workers with employers may offer benefits for some housemaids but won’t end low wages and discrimination and may exclude the poorest women who don’t have smartphones, according to new research.Domestic help in India is relatively cheap, and demand for cooks, cleaners and babysitters is growing as incomes rise and more women work full-time.Domestic workers, who are generally women, typically have little or no education, and the market is almost entirely unregulated, with no fixed wages or benefits for workers.On the back of the popularity of taxi-hailing mobile apps such as Uber and home-grown Ola, a handful of companies have launched apps that offer domestic workers on demand.”This ‘Uberisation of domestic work’ can offer some benefits, (but) it also risks further entrenching a culture of low incomes, insecurity and discrimination,” according to a study by the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI).A typical middle-class Indian home may have a part-time cook and a part-time cleaner. Some households have a full-time worker, while wealthier households may have a live-in helper.Workers are typically hired by word of mouth. Most do not receive health insurance or retirement benefits.While on-demand technology can increase workers’ access to opportunities, it is “not automatically empowering, and there is a great risk that marginalised groups will remain excluded,” ODI said in the report released last week.DECENT WORK
Women make up about 80 percent of an estimated 67 million domestic workers globally, according to ODI.

In India, many domestic workers, most of them women, are forced to work up to 18 hours a day and face dire living conditions, abuse and violence.A draft domestic workers’ bill in 2015 had proposed a minimum salary of 9,000 rupees ($133) per month for skilled, full-time household help, along with benefits such as social security cover and mandatory time off. That bill was not passed.On-demand domestic work companies including MyDidi (sister), BookMyBai (maid) and TaskBob say they are helping meet demand for reliable help, while also enabling workers to secure better wages and conditions.”The workers are trained, they know what they are getting paid, they get regular hours and greater flexibility,” said Anupam Sinhal, co-founder of BookMyBai and NanoJobs.But campaigners say there is no oversight of agencies working to match domestic workers with employers and complaints of exploitation, trafficking and enslavement abound.

“There is no regulation or monitoring of agencies or these new companies that provide on-demand services,” said Shalini Sinha at WIEGO, a lobby group for informal women workers.”Do they really ensure fair conditions for the workers? Do the workers get paid on time? What we need is a law to protect these women, and regulation and monitoring of these agencies.”FIXED SALARY
ODI’s study of the on-demand model in South Africa showed that it disproportionately benefits employers. For the workers, it meant low wages and discrimination, it said.India’s on-demand domestic work companies are expanding by up to 60 percent month-on-month, according to ODI.

The model is different from Uber’s: BookMyBai gives workers on its payroll a fixed salary of 16,000 rupees ($235) a month, as well as health insurance and some benefits, regardless of how many hours they work, said Anupam Sinhal.Also, it is the company that designates a maid to a household, as many workers don’t have smartphones, he said.More than half of India’s domestic workers are illiterate, and few own smartphones or have bank accounts, making it harder for the women to navigate the platform themselves.MyDidi opens a bank account for each worker, while another company sends a text message to the husband of the worker every time she is assigned a job, so he knows her whereabouts. “The demand-supply gap is so huge, that we need these services to help address it,” Sinhal said.”The system gives the worker the benefits of a more formal economy, despite the challenges now.”($1 = 67.7347 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

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

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 19:24 IST

PM Modi to launch ‘Kaushal Kendras’ tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a clutch of skill development initiatives on Monday aimed at skilling unemployed youth and also lay the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Skills in Kanpur. “Apart from launching 31 Kaushal Kendras which will serve as skilling centres and target mainly unemployed youth for training purposes, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate an exhibition named Kaushal Mahotsav,” a senior official in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship said.”The PM will also lay the foundation stone for the Indian Institute of Skills in Kanpur which will focus on providing industrial training,” the official added.The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is also set to enter into a strategic partnership with the leather and textiles industry in Kanpur to place one lakh youth under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Moreover, the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme will also be launched formally, the official said.The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras are state-of-the-art Model Training Centres (MTCs) which the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship intends to establish in every district of the country. The model training centres envisage to create benchmark institutions that demonstrate aspirational value for competency based skill development training.They would focus on elements of quality, sustainability and connect with stakeholders in skills delivery process. The centres will transform from a mandate driven footloose model to a sustainable institutional model.

Maharashtra: Polling on for third phase of local body elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Polling is being held for the third phase of elections in 20 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts.The voting is on in Aurangabad and Nanded, which fall under Marathwada region, and Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts of Vidharbha region.There are 1,623 candidates in fray, including 119 for the posts of president of municipal councils.As per a report of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), there are 90 crorepati candidates in the third phase.The election to the Desaiganj municipal council in Gadchiroli has already attracted a lot of attention.The Maharashtra Election Commission has countermanded the election to one ward of the municipal council after Rashtriya Samaj Paksha president and state Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar allegedlytried to pressurise a poll official and influencing the election process.However, Jankar has denied the allegation.

Nepal, India agree to complete work on Integrated Check Post in Birgunj by March

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nepal and India agreed on Friday to complete outstanding works on the Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Birgunj within three months and bring it into operation quickly. “Both sides reviewed the current status of the ICPs and decided to complete the remaining work at Brigunj by March 2017,” the Foreign ministry s Joint-secretary and Chief of South Asia Division, Bhrigu Dhungana, said.According to Dhungana, 80% work has already been completed in Birjung and the required land area has been handed over to the concerned contractor for ICP construction in Biratnagar. The construction in Biratnagar ICP is expected to be completed by December 2018.Urban Development Secretary Dipendra Nath Sharma had led the Nepali delegation while the Indian side was led by Sanjeevanee Kutty, secretary of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs. In 2005, Nepal and India signed an accord to build a string of checkposts near the border at Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairawa and Nepalgunj. In the first phase, ICPs were to be built in Birgunj of Nepal and Raxaul of India, and Biratnagar of Nepal and Jogbani of India. The Indian side has already completed the ICPs in Raxual and Jogbani and the ICP of Raxual was already come into operation, while will be operational at Jogbani soon. Meanwhile, the Nepali side has urged the Indian side to operationalize ICPs at both sides of border Raxual and Birgunj simultaneously.The Indian side has reportedly said that they have so far operationalised the ICP for only importing and exporting perishable goods such as vegetables and were of the view that this operation has only put pressure on the Nepali side to complete the remaining work at the ICP in Birgunj soon. In the second phase, ICPs will be constructed in Bhairahawa of Nepal and Nautanwa of India; and Nepalgunj of Nepal and Rupadiya of India.

Provide jobs to youth to prevent unrest and disturbances: President

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday that government and industry should work together to provide jobs to youth to avoid unrest and disturbances.”India’s population is 130 crore. Half of this population is below 25 years of age, and in working age group of 15-59 years, this population is 62 per cent. If you keep these numbers in mind and think for a while what would happen if such magnitude of people do not have their vocation and opportunity of maintaining their livelihood in a decent way,” Mukherjee said. The President was speaking at annual day celebration of CII’s skill training centre here.He said that the agriculture sector is over saturated now and it can support very low number of people. “These workforce is going to be an asset to us … but if we cannot provide job to them what will happen. There will be unrest, there will be frustration. There will be difficulties, disturbances,” Mukherjee said. He said that there are 36,000 colleges producing graduates but a large number of passouts are unemployable. It is estimated by the World Economic Forum that two-thirds of children who now enter a school will work in jobs that cannot be imagined right now.Mukherjee said India will have the scope for employment generation but lacks skilled workforce. The President said that a Skills Development Council was created in 2010 and target was fixed by 2020 to create large number of skilled workforce. “Unfortunately not much progress was made in that direction. As a result in 2014 with change of government, when new Prime Minister came he established to focus on this issue with Department of Skill Development. “A minister was entrusted with the job to focus and a programme was created over a larger period of time that by 2030 at least 500 million people are provided appropriate skill so that they get job anywhere in the world,” he said.The President said more than 60 lakh people are working in West Asia and Gulf countries alone which are sending large number of remittances back home which is helping India build foreign exchange reserves.He said that the average age in Europe and North America is increasing and India has the opportunity with its young population. “That (skill development) is the reason I have come to Chhindwara for fifth time and why I am participating in the programme of CII to celebrate their annual day of skill development. This is the programme that country needs the most,” Mukherjee said.He lauded efforts of local MP Kamalnath for setting up skill development centres in his constituency. CII President Naushad Forbes said that the industry body has not been able to set up skill development centres in any part of the country like the ones set up here. He said that CII in coming days will make effort to set up such centres in all districts of the country.

Demonetization: TMC MLAs protest outside RBI office

Wed, 14 Dec 2016-05:00pm , Kolkata , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Trinamool Congress legislators and senior ministers on Wednesday staged a rally in the city, which ended outside the RBI office, against the Centre’s demonetization move.RBI Governor Urjit Patel is scheduled to arrive here today for the apex bank’s central board meeting tomorrow. He is also scheduled to meet bankers and industrialists during his stay. The rally started from the West Bengal Assembly and was attended by state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee, Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, TMC MP Subrata Bakshi and Power Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay.”We will continue our protest until the draconian decision of demonetization is withdrawn.Tomorrow also we will organise a similar protest-rally. India is a democracy and Modi can’t bulldoze his anti-people decision on the entire country,” Chatterjee told the rally.

‘Self reliance’ must for ensuring ‘foolproof’ internal security of country: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday pitched for providing incentives in defence manufacturing saying foreign companies are not only interested in investing in India but also ready to transfer technologies.Singh said ‘self reliance’ was a must towards ensuring ‘foolproof’ internal security of a country while underlining the need to reduce dependency on other countries, especially in the defence sector. “Israeli and Chinese companies seek to come to India and make investment for the purpose of defence production. They are not only ready to make investment and production, but also ready to even transfer technology to India if needed. We should consider giving more incentives in manufacturing in defence sector,” Singh said during a conference on ‘Defence Production’ organised by trade body ASSOCHAM.Singh said defence production has not been encouraged in the past, “although previous governments may have tried. This triggered corruption instead of increasing competitiveness in defence orders,” he said. “As far as the question of purchasing defence equipment is concerned, I can say that decisions to purchase defence equipment are now being taken fast as compared to past and their implementation is also ensured. If we can make ‘Mangalyaan’ in a fraction of cost, then why should we depend on import on other nations,” Singh said.He said that India was emerging as a global hub in Research and Development as well, especially in manufacturing and engineering R&D through ‘Make in India’ initiative. “Even in defence sector, indigenous defence production has been encouraged through ‘Make in India’ and the government wants to take it forward,” Singh said.”Securing internal and external security of a country cannot be imagined unless it becomes self-reliant. Even if a country is not fully self-reliant, it will have to make sure that its dependence on other nations should be less,” the minister said.

CBSE Class 10 exams will be mandatory from 2017-18: Prakash Javadekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The CBSE Board would meet at the end of this month and a resolution is set to be passed to make class X board exams compulsory for all its students from next academic session, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has said.The minister also said the Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD) is working on an amendment to the Right to Education Act (RTE), and a proposal has been approved by the Law Ministry that would come to the Cabinet in a week or two. “This month there will be a CBSE Board meeting, in which there will be a resolution (for compulsory class X board exams). “So, I am very sure, from academic session 2017-18, Board examination will be mandatory for all students,” Javadekar told PTI.The minister also asserted that it was “unfair” that 23 million students in the country were taking various examinations -state boards and CBSE- and yet two million were not. Under the present norms, CBSE students can choose between the Board exam or a school based examination. On RTE amendment, he said once it is approved by the Cabinet, it will go to Parliament. “Even if it is referred to a Standing Committee, I hope by April, we will have an amendment which will allow states to take a call on whether to have detention or no detention,” Javadekar said.Presently, the ‘No Detention’ provision under the RTE Act does not allow students to be failed or detained till class VIII. The states will be given freedom to choose between having examination for classes V and VIII, Javadekar said. “But we are also simultaneously saying that if you take it and somebody’s detained, he should not lose one year. There should be a supplementary exam two months after and then he again joins the next batch. So that he does not lose a year but there is accountability for the student also,” the HRD minister said. “We don’t want to create exam oriented pressure on students but there has to be a challenge mode,” he said.

Varanasi, Allahabad did not have single good-air day in ’15: study

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Delhi has been in the spotlight as the world’s most polluted city, Varanasi and Allahabad did not record a single good air-quality day in 2015, a new study revealed on Monday. It also found a total absence of any action plan to tackle pollution and that there was only one air-quality monitoring station in Varanasi. The study, based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, showed that the holy city and Allahabad had zero good-air days, out of the monitored 227 and 236 days, respectively. A good-air day is one when the air-quality index is below 50. The report, prepared by the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), IndiaSpend and Care4Air, brought out the severity of air pollution in the Indo-Gangetic plains, home to 11 coal-fired power plants. “The key industrial hotspots of Uttar Pradesh, starting with Ghaziabad, bordering Delhi, to the district of Sonbhadra, bordering Madhya Pradesh, which produces close to 10 per cent of India’s coal-fired electricity, are all located on the Key Ganges river basin,” the report pointed out. The Purvanchal region of UP has close to 11 coal-fired thermal plants that produce nearly 12,000 MW of energy. Aishwarya Madineni, the lead author of ‘Varanasi Chokes’, released on Monday, said that compared to Delhi, the absence of air-quality data and functioning monitoring stations was glaring. “CPCB monitors the PM 2.5 quality while UP Pollution Control Board manually monitors PM 10 levels. There were huge gaps as data was missing for several days,” Madineni told DNA. PM2.5 and PM10 levels are fine, but lethal pollutants directly enter the human bloodstream and cause upper respiratory diseases.

PORN-hibition in the times of free WiFi: Bihar govt to ban ‘undesirable sites’ in colleges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Bihar government will block pornography and other “undesirable sites” while providing free WiFi in colleges and universities to ensure that the facility is used purely for educational purposes. Restrictions would be put on data usage on the premises of educational institutions. Providing free WiFi in colleges and universities forms part of the ‘Seven Resolves’ which the Nitish Kumar government has adopted as a policy of good governance.Chief Minister Kumar, while addressing a meeting in Purnea on Friday last during his ‘Nischay Yatra’, said free WiFi facility in all colleges and universities would be in place by February next.”We have decided to block all pornography and other undesirable sites to enable the service for educational purpose only on the campuses of educational institutions,” Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (Beltron), Patna Managing Director Rahul Singh told PTI today.Beltron, which is an executive wing of the state IT department, has been entrusted with the job of providing WiFi system in the educational institutions.Beltron officials said free WiFi service would be provided in over 300 colleges and nine universities of Bihar. Besides, the Information Technology department has decided to put restrictions on data usage in all institutions which would be provided free WiFi service. “We will put a data-limit for usage, which will depend on usage. The quantum of data-limit is being worked out,” Singh said. While colleges would be provided with Internet speed of 10 MBPS, universities and other bigger institutions like IIT would be provided with the speed of 20 MBPS, Singh said. In a ‘Chetna Sabha’ at Purnea on Friday last, the CM had asked youths to use the facility for downloading books and knowledge materials and not for watching films. Citing a case of of how free WiFi was being misused, he had said, “It came to our knowledge that one gentleman has downloaded 300 movies on the 22 km area of main city street where the facility is available.” “Downloading one-two movies is OK, but the free WiFi facility in colleges and universities is conceived to help students download books and knowledge material,” Kumar had said.

Make in Odisha: Before declaring the conclave a success, CM Patnaik must iron out investors’ issues

The hype and hoopla over the ‘Make in Odisha’ conclave, the grand investors’ meet of the Odisha government that concluded in the state capital of Bhubaneswar last week, has certainly helped project a positive image of the state – with promises of new industries, jobs and faster economic growth.

But the dreams will only come true only if the whopping Rs 2.03 lakh crore investment assurances garnered at the conclave can fructify. Development of state projects have been perpetually bogged down by land disputes, raw material linkages and green clearances.

In that regard, it is too early to predict what the upshot of the venture will be, given the fact that the state has lacked inertia in most of the past projects, as they have mostly remained non-starters.

The Bhubaneswar conclave of Make in Odisha garnered Rs 2.03 lakh crore in investment proposals spread across 10 sectors. Firstpost/Kasturi Ray

The Bhubaneswar conclave garnered Rs 2.03 lakh crore in investment proposals spread across 10 sectors. Firstpost/Kasturi Ray

The state government has been on an investment inviting spree since the beginning of this year. It garnered proposals worth Rs 70,000 crore at the Mumbai conclave and Rs 90,000 crore in Bangalore.  The Bhubaneswar conclave, however, topped the lot with Rs 2.03 lakh crore investment proposals in 10 sectors. On face value, it is a big achievement, but distinct cracks and deep crevices of the past are ineluctable.

The state has been witness to Korean giants like Posco, Essar, Sterlite and Arcellor failing to make headway, even after 10 years of promises and struggles. Ease of doing business, particularly when it comes to paper work, as the government forgets, is not the only issue investors deal with when they plan to start their ventures.

It is important that the government should emphasise on easing raw material linkage, land availability and environmental clearances; all of which led to only 20 of the 250 projects promised becoming successful in starting production in the state between 2004 and 2015.

According to the World Bank report (2008), the state had achieved an 8.5 percent annual growth rate during the Tenth Five-Year Plan, 2002-07, in comparison to 7.8 percent for India as a whole.

It is during this period that industrial growth was exponential in Odisha – at 15 percent, much higher than the 9 percent growth rate for India. Naturally, investments also increased, but the momentum took a downward turn 2008 onwards. Till 2008, memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed dime a dozen, attracting investments worth Rs 5.69 lakh crores. But in reality, only Rs 2.45 lakh crore investments took off, while many backed off owing to land acquisition problems and raw material issues.

An Assocham report states Odisha as the third most preferred investment destination in the country. Naturally, as the state had adopted a friendly Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) in 2015, aiming to ease business procedures.

But there is still a myriad of issues that needs to be focused on before inviting more investments and expecting them to bear fruit. The state government has identified 1,00,000 acres of land all over the state to create a land bank for facilitating the setting up of industries, with the Industrial Development Corporation Odisha in charge.

But how many acres are in possession of the government to immediately sanction to the investors? Timely allotment of land would help investors to expedite their project and also allow them enough time to look into environment clearances. A state abound with natural resources must also facilitate linkage of resources to the prospective investors. Moreover, economic prosperity and development of the state should not remain confined to the ruling party. The Opposition political parties too need to play a healthy role in a positive and proactive way like in other states.

At this juncture, with such high figure investments coming in, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, apart from sporting that winsome smile and declaring Make in Odisha successful, must ensure that his government does the needful to retain the interest of investors in the state.

He must negotiate for double the assured 1.4 lakh jobs and give the interested parties a conducive atmosphere by ironing out the wizened issues. Lest, the investments will only be considered a hogwash for the 15-year-old government that has been frantically trying to achieve a ‘developed’ tag status for the state.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 15:24 IST

Human Rights Day: Petition seeking support to ban FGM launched

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A group of women belonging to the Dawoodi Bohra community, who underwent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), have launched a petition seeking people’s support to abolish the practice.The online petition, aimed at rooting out this ancient practice was launched by an advocacy group known as ‘Speak Out on FGM’ on on Thursday ahead of the International Human Rights Day, being observed on December 10.It will be submitted to the wing of United Nations (UN) that deals with the welfare of women and child, said a senior associate with the group. This group had earlier launched a similar petition in December 2015 which has received over 80,000 responses so far and was submitted to Union Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi.”Our main objective to make at least everyone aware about this age-old practice being observed in our country since last 1400 years which in not only shameful but is unconstitutional and utterly violates human rights,” said Masooma Ranalvi, a 50-year-old working woman from Delhi. “I have no hesitation in admitting that I was subjected to FGM at a very young age, but I have ensured that my daughter, who is now 22, does not undergo this brutality,” said Ranalvi, adding even today over 80 per cent of the Bohra girls are subjected to this “hurtful” tradition.A senior associate of the group from Pune Shabnam Poonawala said, “Though this is practiced in US and Canada too, but their respective governments have brought laws to curb this evil. But unfortunately, no one speaks about this here, forget bringing a law for it.””We want the government to acknowledge it and stand behind us. Promulgate a law to flush out this regressive ritual from the society,” said Poonawala, also president of the University Women’s Association (UWA), a non-profit organisation (NGO) working towards empowering women.In December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution on banning FGM. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies FGM as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Punjab election: Akali Dal’s poll plank embarrasses ally BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Moga, Punjab: Battling anti-incumbency, the ruling Shiromoni Akali Dal (SAD) government led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal showcased its power, by kick-starting election campaign from Killi Chillan village in Moga district on Thursday. With hundreds of saffron flags fluttering with slogans like ‘Pani Bachao, Punjab Bachao’ , it became clear that the SAD will seek votes on the emotive issue of water sharing, much to the embarrassment of the ally the BJP, which is ruling the neighbouring state of Haryana.“Punjab di khushali paani te nirphar ae (Development of the state is dependent on water). We will not let river water of Punjab to be used by any other state,” said Badal, emphasising that by giving the ownership rights of the land acquired for the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal to its original owners after its de-notification, the government has put the contentious issue to rest. Badal who also celebrated his 90th birthday on Thursday, said the large gathering at the rally symbolised the significance of the issue for people of the state. “Punjab has no spare water to share with anyone,” he asserted from the stage, flanked by his party MLAs and MPs. Terming Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as anti-poor, the CM said that he was cautioning people that if voted to power both these parties would discontinue the several pro-people schemes and subsidies being currently given to people. “I request you to save Punjab,” he said.Hundreds of school buses had ferried villagers from far-flung districts to attend the rally. “Our Sarpanch brought us to the rally,” said one of the residents of Ludhiana, who had come to attend the rally. When asked what the rally was about, he said, “It was about saving Punjab waters.” Addressing the rally, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal lambasted the AAP, referring to them as ‘topiwallahs’ and Congress for allegedly defaming Punjab youth as drug addicts. “Our youth do not get jobs when they go to different states, because Gandhi family had run a propaganda stating 70 per cent youth are drug addicts,” he said, raising the slogan, ‘Congress tey Topiwale bhajao, Punjab bachao’.He challenged Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to showcase his accomplishments in Delhi before eyeing Punjab. “We will build 5 lakh houses for poor and 1,000 colleges in the state. Also, 1.50 lakh more jobs would be created more than 12,000 villages of the state would get solar lights, sewerage and clean water supply facilities at a cost of more than Rs30,000 crore,” he said.

Discount shower on digital highway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In all the liquidity crunch unleashed by demonetization, if you are feeling a bit technologically challenged, the government has now given you reasons to make that crucial switch in payment mode. After sucking out over 85 per cent of cash by making old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes illegal tenders since November 8, the government on Thursday announced a slew of incentives to boost the use of digital or electronic mode of payments. These sops are mostly in the form of discounts. For example, digital payment for petrol and diesel at government-owned gas stations can get you a 75 basis points (bps) off on the retail price.So, at the current price of Rs 66.10 per litre in Delhi, you can save around 50 paise per litre. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has worked out the math well. According to him, the percentage of digital transactions at state-owned petrol pumps has doubled from 20 per cent to 40 per cent in a month. He said around 4.5 crore customers bought fuel worth Rs 1,800 crore at these pumps every day in the last month. This means transaction worth Rs 360 crore has moved from cash to digital.Jaitley expects his discount offer to drive at least 30 per cent more customers to digital modes of payment, which will further slash cash usage at petrol pumps by Rs 2 lakh crore annually. The government has offered other concessions like a 50 bps off on monthly or seasonal tickets on suburban railway network beginning January 1 next year, and a 5 per cent discount on catering, accommodation, retiring rooms and other paid services of railways. In another major move, it has waived off service tax on the use of credit card, debit card, charge card or any other payment card for paying Rs 2,000 in a single transaction.Online train ticket booking will fetch a passenger free accidental insurance cover of up to Rs 10 lakh and use of RFID or fast-tags will lower toll fee paid at toll plazas on the National Highway by 10 per cent.Other measures include offering free point of sale (PoS) machines to 1 lakh villages with a population of up to 10,000, abolishing Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) on digital transactions for central government and PSU services, rental cap of Rs 100 for PoS terminals, micro ATMs and Mobil PoS, Rupay Kisan cards for Kisan cardholders and discount and credit by PSU insurance companies of up to 10 per cent of the premium for general insurance policies and 8 per cent for new life cover from Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).Meanwhile, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) declared that it will extend support to banks for deployment of two PoS devices per village in 1 lakh villages. The estimated cost of support will be around Rs 120 crore.For those farmers who are already on RuPay Kisan Credit Card (KCC) platform, NABARD will now support procurement of Europay, Mastercard and Visa chips and PIN-based RuPay Kisan cards by regional rural and rural cooperative banks. NABARD will spend approximately Rs 108 crore to cover around 4.32 crore KCC holders.“We believe that these two initiatives will have a positive impact in easing the transition to digital transactions,” said NABARD chairman Harsh Kumar Bhanwala.Naveen Surya, chairman, Payment Council of India, said the cost reduction that would accrue from the shift to digital modes of payment should be passed on to the end-consumers. “Benefits passed on to consumers will give a booster growth to digital payment companies,” he said.He called for more such incentives for other services like electricity or mobile bills, long-distance railway tickets and others. Jaitley said that the government was eventually aiming at making political donations payments also digital, like in many developed countries.“This (incentives and demonetization) will certainly move India to less cash economy,” he said.

Madhya Pradesh Assembly: Congress MPs allege BJP govt of corruption in Kumbh mela

Bhopal: Congress MLAs created ruckus in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly today demanding discussion on their adjournment notice on the alleged corruption in the month-long Simhastha-Kumbh mela held in Ujjain this year following which the House was adjourned till 3 PM.

The Congress members including, acting Leader of Opposition Bala Bachchan and others, had given a notice for discussion on the alleged Simhastha scam and demanded constitution of a joint committee of MLAs to probe it.

Congress MLA Jitu Patwari raised the issue during the Question Hour and continued with their protest in Zero Hour also. The party legislators rushed to the well of the House and raised slogans against the government and Speaker Sitasaran Sharma on the issue.

They alleged that the government has provided different figures related to budgetary allocation and expenditure on Simhastha and it smacks of corruption.

Patwari said the previous session of the Assembly was told on July 19 this year, that the total budgetary allocation for Simhastha was Rs 2,771.65 crore whereas the total amount spent was Rs 2,000.93 crore.

Representational image, Kumbh Mela. PTI

Representational image, Kumbh Mela. PTI

“However, in reply to my today’s question on the same issue, the House was told that the budgetary allocation for Simhastha was Rs 2,344.28 crore, while the expendture was Rs 2,150.63 crore,” he said.

“This means there is a difference of Rs 427.37 crore in the budgetary allocation and Rs 149.7 crore in expenditure,” Patwari said and demanded a discussion on the issue.

To this, the state Home Minister and the in-charge minister for Simhasta, Bhupendra Singh said if the Opposition has any evidence regarding corruption in Simhastha, it should table it in the House, instead of creating ruckus.

The Urban Administration and Development Minister Maya Singh said all information related to Simhastha was already given to members.

“It (Simhastha) had been organised in such a good manner that it was lauded by the people at national and international level,” she said.

However, Patwari alleged that even the government has given different figures in Parliament on the issue and insisted that a discussion should take place on the matter.

When the Speaker did not budge and asked them to come to his chamber to discuss the matter, Congress members rushed to the well of the House raising slogans against the government and the chair.

Amid uproar, the Speaker first adjourned the House for 10 minutes and later when the same situation prevailed during the Zero Hour, the chair adjourned it till 3 PM.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 17:10 IST

Demonetization: Man dies of heart attack while standing in Rajasthan bank queue

Wed, 7 Dec 2016-07:03pm , Jaipur , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 46-year-old man on Wednesday allegedly died after he suffered a cardiac arrest while standing in a bank queue to withdraw money.Modu Singh Gurjar, an employee of Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) was at a bank in Chandwaji town. At around 2:30 pm, he complained of severe chest pain and fell unconscious.Gurjar was soon rushed to the nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival. “Gurjar was standing in a queue and waiting for his turn to withdraw the money. He fell down on floor all of a sudden. Though people waiting for their turn rushed for help, he succumbed owing to severity of the attack,” Rajveer Singh Champawat, SHO, Chandwaji said.

Tejas not suitable for Navy: Sunil Lanba

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas are not suited for the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Friday. This has prompted the Navy to identify an alternative aircraft, he said.”We have the MiG 29K, which operates from INS Vikramaditya, and will also operate from the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant. We were also hoping to operate Tejas from these two aircraft carriers, but unfortunately, the LCA is not able to meet their requirement,” he said.On November 8, the Ministry of Defence had given clearance to both the naval and air force version of the Tejas – the smallest and lightest multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft of its class. It is designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), respectively, for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.Though the Tejas has been inducted into the Air Force, officials say its full induction is likely to get delayed. “If you look around the world, there are not too many options and we need the carrier-capable version of this aircraft sooner than later. So, I am looking at the next 5-6 years,” he said.Lanba said the Navy is still encouraging the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop the naval LCA.

India to raise awareness on adoption after ‘heinous’ baby smuggling racket uncovered | Reuters

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – India plans to launch a public awareness drive on adoption procedures to curb the buying and selling of children after the police found stolen babies and infant skeletons during raids on charities, clinics and homes for the mentally ill and elderly.Thirteen babies have been rescued, and the remains of two other infants uncovered, in a series of raids in West Bengal over the last 10 days, as police investigate a suspected international human trafficking racket.Eighteen people, including doctors, midwives, owners of charities and clinics in North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts have been arrested, suspected of stealing babies from women who delivered at clinics, but told they were stillborn. The babies were then smuggled by road in cardboard biscuit boxes and kept in homes for the elderly and disabled until they sold for adoption within India and overseas, say police.

Ministry of Women and Child Development said on Wednesday the discovery had prompted Maneka Gandhi to take action to stem the crime of baby smuggling.”We are convening meetings to sensitise (the) public about adoption procedure as laid down by law to avoid such heinous incidents,” said the statement posted on the ministry’s Facebook page and on its Twitter account. The social media post also included photographs of the some of rescued babies, all under 10 months old, lying in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, where they are being treated for malnutrition, skin and respiratory infections.

Reports of human trafficking in India increased by 25 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, with more than 40 percent of cases involving children being bought, sold and exploited as modern day slaves, government crime data showed.There were 6,877 cases related to human trafficking last year against 5,466 in 2014, with the highest number of cases reported in the northeast state of Assam, followed by West Bengal, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

Thousands of children are lured to big cities each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into domestic or sex work or to industries such as textile workshops.Often they are unpaid or held in debt bondage in sectors such as construction and agriculture. Children are also abducted for slavery or for sale for adoption using fake documentation. (Reporting by Nita Bhalla. Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 23:09 IST

‘Intolerant’ Congress indulging in contempt of democracy: Govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Extremely upset over the Congress staging a walkout from the Lok Sabha despite the government agreeing to discuss all issues, Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said that the grand old party was now indulging in contempt of democracy as they have become intolerant over the growing popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”The way the Congress has behaved in the House, they have insulted the whole country. It is contempt of democracy. They are trying to insult the mandate of the people because they have become intolerant over the growing popularity of the Prime Minister,” he added.Naidu said it is extremely unfortunate that the grand old party is doing politics over yesterday’s Nagrota terror attack.”The Congress and its allies wanted the Prime Minister’s presence in the House. He came in the House and no one knows why they left. We don’t know whether even they know the reason. During the Question Hour, the Congress raised the issue of Nagrota attack. The Speaker said that combing operation is currently going on. She said after getting all the necessary information, obituary will be paid to the slain soldiers,” Naidu said.Naidu said it has become the job of the grand old party to somehow disrupt the proceedings of the House.”We said we don’t have any objection but there must be tradition and discipline in the House. It is very much unfortunate that the Congress Party is doing politics over this. The people of the country hate such politics. It has become their job to somehow disrupt the proceedings of the House,” said Naidu.”Even the Prime Minister is in the House still I don’t know why they are not allowing the proceedings of the House. The nation wants discussion on many problems, but the Congress doesn’t want that. Does the Congress fear of getting exposed,” he added.Stating that the Congress neither wants a debate nor wants the House to function, Naidu further said this is not expected from a matured party, which has ruled the country for these many number of years.”Now things are out that the Congress do not want a debate, they don’t want the House to function, they don’t want the House to discuss issues. The Prime Minister was very much present in the House. They have been demanding the presence of the Prime Minister. He was there today in the House also. They have raised an issue. But the Congress Party wanted some excuse or other to disturb the House or create a scene in the House. They have done the same today,” said Naidu.

Indian women less likely to get medical attention, even in last moments of life

By Devanik Saha

More Indian men are likely to be admitted to hospital during the last moments of life than women–62.5 percent to 37.5 percent–a statistic revealed in new government data on deaths certified by a medical professional.

Of 1.06 million certified deaths in 2014, 667,000 were male; 400,000 were female, according to Medical Certification of Cause of Death: 2014, a census department report, about 11 percentage points more than the male proportion (51.5 percent) of India’s population.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

For every 1,000 men whose death is certified by medical professionals, the corresponding figure for women is 600.

Four in five deaths in India were not certified by medical professionals in 2013, India Spend reported in February 2016.

In Jharkhand, 1 in 128 deaths certified, lowest rate in India

One in every 128 deaths in Jharkhand is certified by a medical professional–the worst record of any Indian state and an indication of the absence of healthcare in India’s second-poorest state by per capita income.

Of 132,099 registered deaths in Jharkhand–carved out of Bihar in the year 2000 and currently ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party–1,028 were medically certified (0.8 percent), 19.7 percent lower than the average for India, where 20.5 percent of death are certified. As many as 5.21 million deaths were registered in India in 2014, of which 1.06 million were medically certified.

Though certified deaths doubled in Jharkhand from 458 in 2013 to 1,028 in 2014, the improvement did not move the state of 33 million from the bottom rung. Up to 37 percent of Jharkhand’s population lives below the poverty line, according to this June 2014 report of the erstwhile Planning Commission; 50 percent of Jharkhand’s districts have poverty levels above 40 percent.

No new hospital was opened since the creation of Jharkhand 16 years ago. The state’s population surged by more than five million between 2001 and 2011, India Live Today reported in September 2016. No new college opened either over the last 15 years, and existing colleges were not expanded.

10 states/UTs report decline in medically certified deaths

Ten states/union territories reported declines in absolute number of medically certified deaths in 2014 over the previous year: Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Punjab and West Bengal.

Source: Medical Certification of Cause of Death Report 2014.

As many as 99.5 percent deaths in Goa were certified–the highest among all states/UTs–followed by Lakshadweep (98.3 percent) and Puducherry (77.6 percent).

From 0.9 percent in 2013 to 21.9 percent in 2014, Assam registered the largest maximum percentage increase in certified deaths.

Circulatory system disease deaths top killer, cancer deaths rising

Diseases of the circulatory system–or heart-related diseases–accounted for more deaths than any other, claiming in equal proportion the lives of men (31 percent) and women (32 percent).

Source: Medical Certification of Cause of Death Report 2014.

Death from circulatory system diseases rose from 24 percent of deaths in 1999 to 32 percent in 2014, an increase of eight percentage points.

After heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the second-most common affliction, IndiaSpend reported in October 2016.

As many as 23 percent deaths in India between 2010 and 2013 were due to heart-related diseases, according to 2013 census data; 21 percent in rural and 29 percent in urban areas.

Deaths due to neoplasm (cancer) increased from 3.6 percent to 5.4 percent and deaths due to infectious and parasitic diseases declined from 14.7 percent to 12 percent.

The prevalence of breast cancer increased by 166 percent between 1990 and 2013, prostate cancer cases rose 220 percent, deaths due to ovarian cancer 123 percent, and deaths due to mouth cancer among men 134 percent, IndiaSpend reported in June 2015.

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is estimated to have the largest number of cancer cases in 2014. Maharashtra ranks second, followed by Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, IndiaSpend reported in June 2015.

Saha is an MA Gender and Development student at Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 10:40 IST

Demonetisation decision could worsen the country’s public health crisis

By Devanik Saha and Swagata Yadavar

A spate of deaths due to hospitals refusing to accept invalid currency notes has come to attention after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement invalidating 86% of India’s currency on November 8, 2016.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Unlike government-run hospitals, private hospitals have not been allowed to use defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, potentially affecting 58% of Indians in rural areas who opt for private healthcare (68% in urban areas), according to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data.

In Noida, an infant died after Union Minister Mahesh Sharma’s Kailash Hospital reportedly asked for an advance of Rs 10,000 and then refused to take old currency notes.

An 18-month old baby died in Visakhapatnam as the parents didn’t have money to buy medicines, and a year-old infant in Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh, died after reportedly being denied treatment by a local private doctor as his parents didn’t have money to pay for his treatment.

Despite multiple requests, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on November 17, 2016, that private hospitals would not accept old notes because that would encourage misuse of old currency.

Patients who had travelled away from their home states were particularly caught unaware by the move and faced a serious shortage of cash.

On a Mumbai footpath, a cancer patient and husband from Jharkhand struggle

IndiaSpend met 52-year-old Mahavir Malhar and his wife from Jharia, Jharkhand, staying on the footpath outside Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, a leading referral hospital for cancer patients nationwide. A labourer who earned Rs 200 every day before coming to Mumbai to address his wife’s ear cancer, Malhar had no usable cash.

“We do not have cash to buy meals or even tea,” said Malhar. Although treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital is free, and the hospital accepts old notes, staying in Mumbai is expensive for the couple. Since the note ban, their sons, also labourers, have not been able to send them money because of long lines at local banks.

“They are also daily wage earners and standing in a line for the whole day means loss of income,” said Malhar. The couple now depend on the free meals provided by the hospital and charitable trusts.

Indians spend eight times more in a private hospital than in a government institution

As we said, more than half of India’s population depends on private healthcare, despite the fact that private healthcare cost the poorest 20% of Indians more than 15 times their average monthly expenditure, according to this 2014 NSSO survey.

Other markers of India’s dependence on private healthcare:

• Up to 86% of the rural population (717 million people) and 82% of the urban population (309 million people) are without health expenditure support, IndiaSpend reported in July 2015.

• Indians spend eight times more in a private hospital than a government hospital, according to an analysis of National Health Accounts (NHA) 2013-14 data by The Hindu. The report estimated that households spent Rs 8,193 crore in government hospitals, an eighth of the Rs 62,628 crore spent in private hospitals.

• As much as 69% of health expenditure in India is private (out-of-pocket)–the highest proportion in the world–according to NHA data. Out-of-pocket expenditure is the share of expenses that patients pay to the healthcare provider without third-party insurance or government-subsidised treatment.


• Of 930,000 doctors in the country, only 106,000 work for the government. This means there is one government doctor for every 11,528 people, according to the National Health Profile 2015 report, IndiaSpend reported in November 2016.

• About 81% sanctioned posts of specialist medical professionals in community health centres were lying vacant, according to this 2015 rural health statistics report.

Therefore, the government’s decision to not allow private hospitals to accept old notes will restrict access to healthcare for a significant section of Indians, Scroll reported on November 21, 2016.

Post demonetisation, the Maharashtra government’s toll-free 108 helpline–the 24×7 emergency ambulance services number–is also reporting complaints against private hospitals refusing to accept cheques. The Scroll report talked about angry callers unable to buy medicines or seek treatment due to private hospitals not accepting Rs 500/1,000 notes.

Private hospitals report a fall in patients

Lack of cash is making patients prioritise their cash needs, and health issues tend to be pushed back on family priority lists, reported private practitioners from urban centres.

“There has a been a drop of 25%-30% in patients coming to our private out-patient (OPD) department,” said Manish Motwani, bariatric surgeon at Aastha Healthcare, Mumbai. He attributed the drop to a fall in non-emergency cases.

“There was a 40% drop in my patients in the OPD the next day of demonetisation; now the drop is of 10%-15%, but some of my other colleagues are seeing a drop of 50% in the number of hospitalisations,” said Pradeep Gadge, a Mumbai diabetologist. Many doctors said they were allowing patients known to them to pay later.

There has also been an increase in the number of patients in government hospitals, where treatment is largely free or at nominal charges. “We have seen an increase in the number of patients in our primary healthcare centre since the currency ban,” said Amol Bhusare, medical officer at Pallam, a small town in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region, east of Mumbai. Bhusare said two of his patients who had gone to a private diagnostic centre for a CT Scan at nearby Nanded city were turned back for bringing old notes.

Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley on November 17, 2016, to allow Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at private hospitals and medicine shops till November 30, 2016.

“As Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were banned in haste, those undergoing treatment at hospitals and nursing homes are facing a lot of problems,” said Yadav. “I, therefore, request you to intervene and allow private hospitals, nursing homes and medicine shops to accept these notes till at least November 30.”

A few hospitals have pleaded that they be allowed to accept older currency. Mumbai’s Bhatia Hospital wrote to the Prime Minister the day after his initial note-ban announcement. “We are one of the oldest charitable hospitals in Mumbai and requested (that) at least charitable hospitals be allowed to accept older notes,” said Rajeev Boudhankar, CEO of Bhatia Hospital. He said no patient has been turned away. They are accepting payments through other means, including cheques, although three cheques have bounced.

(Saha is an MA Gender and Development student at Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. Yadavar is principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)

( is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit.)

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 14:42 IST

From surgical strike to demonetization, country happy but Rahul crying: Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP president Amit Shah lashed out at the opposition on Saturday, saying it was seeking to oppose everything that the Narendra Modi government did only because it did not have any issues to raise. “The opposition has no issues, so it is opposing everything Narendra bhai is doing. If Modi says today is Monday, they will say no no it’s Tuesday,” Shah mocked while addressing a mammoth Kisan Rally organised by the Andhra Pradesh BJP in Tadepalligudem this evening.”The world praised the surgical strikes the Narendra Modi government conducted on Pakistan but Congress only criticised it. The country is happy, the jawans are happy and even kids are happy but Rahul (Gandhi) cried ‘khoon ki dalali’,” he said.”It’s not Sonia-Manmohan government (at the helm) now that remains indecisive. It’s the Modi government that daringly conducted surgical strikes and inflicted a heavy blow to the enemy and the terror camps on its territory,” the BJP chief said, recalling the aftermath of the Uri attack.
ALSO READ Demonetization: Six held for duping businessman of Rs 36 lakh in Gujarat Shah was also critical of the “false propaganda” allegedly being carried out by the opposition over the demonetization issue. “They are spreading rumours that demonetization will hurt the farmers. But let me assure you, it will only benefit the farmers by all means,” he claimed.Asserting that the welfare of farmers and development of the agriculture sector were the top priorities of the Modi government, Shah said every step was being taken to ensure the same. Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh, state president K Hari Babu, state minister’s Kamineni Srinivas, P Manikyala Rao and other leaders also attended the rally.

Ladakh’s innovator Sonam Wangchuk toils for a visionary project to reverse climate change

This is a story of dedication and resilience to bounce back after nasty knocks: Sonam Wangchuk, the Ladakh-based innovator and educationist, has initiated plans for a huge, work-oriented, job-generating and work-sustained new university.

It would have been an ambitious vision even for the one born with a silver spoon. But for the one whose life has been a roller-coaster ride, this step is amazing.

Sonam Wangchuk. Facebook.

Sonam Wangchuk. Facebook.

Wangchuk’s vision is as global as it is local: the place will regenerate glaciers in its vicinity — which is sometimes called ‘the third pole’ — in order to reverse climate change.

It will aim for ‘zero waste’, not just for sustainability but to ‘inculcate a culture of zero waste’ among its students. ‘Please live simply in the cities so that we can simply live’ in the mountains, he urged his audience while launching a fund-raising drive in New Delhi on Friday.

The motive to build the university is to initiate an environment-recovery-cum-democracy-inculcating-cum-employment-generating-cum-town-sustaining movement. Wangchuk hopes a town similar to Leh will grow in the area around the university, where his innovative ice stupas will turn from desert to greenery.

Ten days after he won a global prize for innovation, for an ice stupa prototype, he used a public lecture on Friday to launch a fund-raising effort to seed the proposed university and its environs. Having invested his $ 150,000 prize money, which amounts to about a crore of rupees, into the fund, he hopes to raise Rs 50 crore from the public at large.

The Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) has already allocated 200 acres land for the university, a project of the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement Of Ladakh (SECMOL) which Wangchuk had launched in 1994. He has, in turn, offered the LAHDC a 33 percent stake in the project.

He proposes to install a series of ice stupas above the premises, to provide water during the lean season. He hopes that water would sustain greenery around the university and sustain a bustling university town which has a rugged desert landscape today.

The prototype of an Ice stupa constructed in Ladakh. Facebook.

An Ice stupa constructed in Ladakh. Facebook.

Wangchuk’s roller-coaster life

Wangchuk had revolutionised education in Leh district beginning two decades ago. That was a huge task since India’s second largest district sprawls across some of the highest inhabited mountains in the world; many hamlets are isolated in the world’s most challenging terrain. The district schools often had a failure rate of 85 to 90 percent. Seeing this, Wangchuk had given up his engineering studies and turned to grassroots initiatives to improve schooling. He set up a wonderful little school full of busting energy just above the Indus a little upriver from Leh. Wangchuk’s team used mud and other local building materials; innovative design brought warmth during winters and cool during summers without any power-consuming heating. Rather, the south-facing building used solar energy and simple convection. Solar energy even kept the cowshed warm.

Wangchuk quipped at the launch programme that the cows, sheltered in warm cowsheds, gave three times more milk than most cows in Ladakh.

The first qualification to be admitted to the school was unique: the student must have failed certain subjects. Yet, the school turned out some of Ladakh’s best achievers – and promoted gender equality and rights.

He emphasised that the school is run by students where they have their own little parliament. The students then elect a leader who allocated responsibilities to other students. The posts of the students are changed every two months. Thus, the school is a little country within a country, he joked.

SECMOL has also tried to empower village communities across the district to take control of their government-run village schools through Village Education Committees (VEC). Gradually, the pass-rate of Ladakh’s students saw an upward trend which has now reached 75 percent. However, as it had approached 50 percent, a series of vested interests began to see Wangchuk as a political threat. His visionary VEC scheme was in keeping with the essential concepts of the Panchayati Raj acts which the country had recently adopted. But the venal, self-serving, unwilling-to-be-accountable education system, teachers’ associations, and the political-bureaucratic Leviathan hit back around a decade ago.

For a while, Wangchuk had to flee the state in fear for his life and liberty. Now that his grit and never-say-die spirit has brought him into the global limelight, Wangchuk doesn’t seem to harbour any resentment. Perhaps the greatest education his movement can give is the art of forgiveness, of positivity and resilience. Of course, global inclusiveness would be a close second.

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 20:10 IST

Niti Aayog committee to oversee transition to cashless economy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Looking at transitioning India to a cashless economy in the wake of its demonetization move, the Central Government has set up a high-level committee to identify possible modes of digital payment across different sectors. The committee headed by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant will look at measures to make online transactions between government and citizens cheaper than cash transactions. It will also assess costs involved in various digital payments options.“The committee will identify and operationalise in the earliest possible time-frame user-friendly digital payment options in all sectors of the economy. This is an integral part of the government’s strategy to transform India into a cashless economy,” a statement from NITI Aayog stated. The statement added that the committee will also identify and access infrastructures and utility of digital payment options. The committee will regularly interact with other ministries, regulators, state governments, district administration, local bodies, trade, and industry associations to promote a faster transition to digital payment systems. It will organise training and capacity building of various states and union territories (UTs), ministries/departments of the government, representatives of states/UTs, trade and industry bodies as well as other stakeholders and implement an action plan on advocacy, awareness and handholding efforts among public, micro enterprises and other stakeholders.The committee includes secretary, department of financial services, secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology; DIPP secretary, DIPAM; MD & CEO of the National Payments Corporation of India, secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, and the chairman of National Highways Authority of India.

What has Naveen Patnaik done in last 17 years: Amit Shah attacks Odisha govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Holding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for the “backwardness” of Odisha, BJP chief Amit Shah on Friday called upon the party cadre to ensure the “end” of the BJD government in the state which had “failed to meet the basic needs of the people”.”While many states have developed in a few years, Naveen Babu’s government has failed to provide drinking water, electricity, health and education to the people. Odisha remains the same as it was a few years back. What has Naveen Babu done in the last 17 years for the development of Odisha,” he told the gathering at the BJP’s ‘Jana Jagaran Maha Samabesh’ here. Dubbing the plight of Dana Majhi, who carried his wife’s body on his shoulders for 10 kms from the hospital after being denied a hearse, as a “shame”, Shah said the youth from Odisha migrated to other big cities in search of work as the government had failed to give them employment. Rejecting the BJD’s allegation of Centre’s negligence towards the state, the BJP chief claimed that the Centre had given Rs 1.3 lakh crore to Odisha in the last two-and-a-half years.While the previous UPA government had given Rs 23,000 crore to Odisha in 2013, the NDA government has sanctioned Rs 63,000 crore in 2016. From Rs 764 crore in the 2013 rail budget, the amount has reached Rs 4,682 crore in 2016, he claimed. The Centre, Shah said, has announced to spend Rs 20,000 crore for the development of the national highways in Odisha of which, Rs 4,500 crore was meant for the coastal roads. A huge amount was given to the state for the development of rural roads, waterways, electrification, health, education and other sectors. The Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has planned investments of Rs 33,000 crore in Odisha, while Nalco was engaged in developing the peripheral areas of Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri, he said.”The BJD government is not letting the benefits of the Central schemes reach the common man,” Shah said and urged the people to “uproot” the state government in the next election. He also urged the people of Odisha to change the BJD government as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “for the development” of the eastern state. Development is certain wherever the BJP is in power, Shah said and cited the instances of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana. Union ministers Jual Oram, Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha BJP chief Basanta Panda and BJPLP leader KV Singhdeo were among those who attended the programme.

Singur case: SC calls Mamata govt’s appeals against Calcutta HC order ‘infructuous’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday termed as “infructuous” the appeals of the Bengal government against the Calcutta High Court order, which had in June 2012 struck down the Singur Land Act that had allowed the state government to reclaim 400 acres of land given to Tata Motors.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The petition has become infructuous for the time being in wake of earlier judgement of the court. Liberty granted to petitioners to file interim application, if the need arises,” a bench of Justices JS Khehar and Arun Mishra said.

On 31 August, the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal had scored a major victory with Supreme Court terming as “illegal and void” the acquisition of 1053 acres land by the erstwhile Left Front government for Tata Motors’ Nano project at Singur, by ordering restoration of land to farmers who will retain the compensation received.

It had directed the state’s Survey Settlement Department to conduct a survey and identify mouzas of lands acquired with reference to layout plans, other connected records, village maps and survey settlement records of the lands in question, in order to identify the respective portions which needed to be returned to the respective owners or cultivators.

The court had said that the possession of the lands be restored to landowners/cultivators within 12 weeks from the date of the verdict.

The verdict had come on petitions filed by some farmers and NGOs alleging that the acquisition of land was against the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and other rules.

The petitioners had charged the earlier Left government with acquiring most fertile and valuable land for Tata Motors.

The present appeal in the apex court was filed by the Bengal government after the High Court had in 2012 ruled that the legislation enacted by Mamata Banerjee government to recover the land leased to Tata Motors in Singur for its small car project was constitutionally invalid.

The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 sought to empower the state government to take back 400 acres of land, given to Tata Motors for its project.

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 18:43 IST

Mumbai: 10-month-old beaten up in creche; caretaker, owner arrested

Mumbai: In a shocking incident, a 10-month-old girl was allegedly beaten up and kicked at a creche in Navi Mumbai by a caretaker, who along with the day care centre owner has been arrested, police said on Friday.

Taking cognisance of the matter after a video of the incident went viral, Maharashtra’s Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde said they have decided on compulsory installation of CCTVs at such centres.

The incident came to light when the CCTV footage of Purva Play School and Creche, a day care centre for children at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, was analysed by the police and the infant’s parents.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Subsequently, Kharghar Police on Thursday arrested Afsana Sheikh and the day care centre’s owner Priyanka Nikam (34). However, Nikam was later released on surety bail while Sheikh has been remanded in police custody.

The 10-month-old girl’s parents Ruchita and Rajat Sinha, who are complainants in the case, used to leave their child at the day care centre as they both are working.

On Tuesday, when they went to take her, they found a wound on their daughter’s forehead.

Ruchita asked creche owner Nikam about it, but she did not get a proper response from the day care centre.

When the baby’s parents approached a doctor, he suspected it to be a case of child abuse.

Subsequently, the child’s parents went to Kharghar Police Station and lodged a complaint.

The police and the child’s parents were shocked when they later saw the CCTV footage of creche which showed Sheikh beating and slapping children who were left by their parents at the day care centre.

The CCTV footage also showed Sheikh beating Ruchita’s daughter while some other infants were sleeping, police said.

In the video, Sheikh is seen hitting, throwing and kicking the child.

Police registered an offence against Sheikh and Nikam under section 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) of IPC and section 23 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act-2000, police official said.

The child is being treated at a private hospital for the injuries inflicted on her.

The video of the alleged incident has gone viral on social media, prompting the authorities to announce installation of CCTVs at such centres.

Minister Pankaja Munde termed the incident as shocking.

“We have decided to make it compulsory to install CCTVs at play schools, to avoid recurrence of such incidents,” she said.

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 13:58 IST

Maha govt takes back land on which WTC stands in Mumbai

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra government today took back the land on which the World Trade Centre in plush South Mumbai area stands, after it found “grave violations” of the terms set by it while allotting the prime area in 1970. Mumbai District Collector Ashwini Joshi said that the land was originally allotted to M Visvesvaraya Industrial Research and Development Centre (MVIRDC), which then affiliated itself (sub-leased it) to WTC- New York.”The land on which the WTC building stands, has been taken back. The land was originally given to MVIRDC, which later affiliated itself to WTC- New York. People running the WTC indulged in several violations of the conditions set by the government,” Joshi said. “The grave violations included disposing of the premises without the sanction of the government, keeping premises under-utilised, not paying dues and opening of subsidiaries without permission to dispose of capital investment received by them,” she said.When the government realised the scope of violations six months back, it asked her to hear out “MVIRDC managing committee and MVIRDC lessees association (that had complained to the government)” and the report was sent to the government in September. “The violations were of serious nature and against the terms set by government in its GR, under which the land was allotted to them. Thus, after giving several notices to them and resultant unsatisfactory explanations, we passed this order,” she said. Joshi further said that part of the land was already taken back by the government in 1976 and it still had 46,000 sq mt land left with it.

Demonetisation: Small businesses struggle due to cash crunch; digitisation can’t happen overnight

Demonetisation is aimed at cleaning up huge amount of wealth stored in cash. This move is very well thought of as unlike 1978 where there was no rationing on exchanging notes, this time around it’s much more detailed and complicated.

While the economy goes through this transition, it is the small business that get impacted the most. Shortage of cash has shrunk the economy and will also result in momentary slowdown in GDP growth. The small business rely heavily on cash not by choice but by compulsion.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

In the last 70 years, post-independence, nobody paid attention on financial inclusion and bringing the masses into formal banking system. This has resulted in massive reliance on cash by entire value-chain from producers, business and consumer. In fact, even certain government taxes are paid in cash. There are business which employ daily waged labour which is the backbone of rural and urban economy where majority of payment are done in cash. Lack of cash in new currency has brought many activities like loading, unloading, manufacturing in small units etc., to a standstill.

The biggest season for agriculture has started, i.e. the rabi crop season and lakh of famers are in a quandary even though the government has allowed farmers to use old currency for purchase of seeds, fertilizers etc. However, the pinch of this would be felt by lakhs of daily wage labourers who would either refuse to work or are forced to accept old currency which makes them vulnerable or worse off if they work on credit. These massive cash-based small businesses are struggling to deal with the aftermath of demonetisation.

Just like in 1930, the Great Depression brought back the barter system, similarly many small business have also found an innovative way of transacting through barter system. This massive cash-based economy is currently under a cardiac arrest and if the credit unfreeze doesn’t happen as desired, we may even head for recession.

The small businesses are in a frenzy as the vendors aren’t accepting old currency and new currency is scarce as it is rationed. On the consumer front, those who have cash are not spending as either it is in old denominations and as they are worried that they run out of new currency are loathe to spend. They are forced to postpone their purchase. The result of all this is small businesses are facing a cash crisis.

Many experts wonder why traditional businesses and small business in India are shying away from adopting digital money. But in a country of a billion plus people with multiple languages coupled with no proof of identity, in many cases it difficult to see such transition happen overnight. Even a developed economy like South Korea had to incentivise people to change their behaviour and make them use digital payment by introducing Preferential VAT and disincentives for cash transaction.

Demonetisation is indeed a bold decision by the governmentm but that’s what Modinomics is all about!

As Dr Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research says, “demonetisation move seems to be very puritanical in spirit with its surgical focus on black money and corruption. So, there should be absolutely no second thoughts about whether it should have been there.

“The middle class has been usually paying most of its payments with plastic money. Except for the daily transactions that include the grocery bill and wages of the domestic helps and the likes. But the move has created lot of inconvenience. And the worst affected is the small business. Possibly the execution of the decision would have called for a more detailed approach, with special attention to the ones at the bottom of the pyramid.

“And the panacea lies in making the banking and financial apparatus as expansive and inclusive as possible. It will be prudential to plug into technology on a much bigger scale. Efforts are already afoot on this turf. As we see your neighbourhood grocer and the street vendor with the swipe machines. Though the cost of the same pinches, but it’s better than no business at all. E wallets have been very precious in the wake of demonetisation.

“And another thing that needs to be done swiftly is the calibration of the ATMs. And it seems that people at large support the government. The long queues are expressions of public patience because the move they believe is bold brilliant and transformative,” says Salunkhe.

If one were to study carefully Modinomics, one will understand  that demonetisation was not a sudden move. Firstly, the Modi Government pushed digitization, where the big spending was done to create back-end capabilities for the plastic economy.

Secondly, the Government emphasized on Jan Dhan Yojana, where millions of bank accounts were opened by Banks, especially PSU’s. The government was criticized for the same. Finally, the masterstroke came in the form of demonetisation. Coincidently, when in 1978 demonetisation was done the governor was IG Patel and the now in 2016 it is another namesake —  Urjit Patel. Finally, it the true spirit of Indian entrepreneurial spirit which will find new ways of dealing with this demonetisation.

(The writer is Faculty – Finance, Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research.)

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 11:14 IST

Residents strive to save iconic Mehrauli park

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the government agencies sleep over the issue, residents of the beautiful Mehrauli area on the outskirts of the capital city are no strangers to the locality’s natural riches and cultural heritage. A group of residents has now decided to take the matter to their own hands and save the historical Mehrauli Archaeological Park from rampant encroachment. Local Resident Welfare Association (RWA) group Mehrauli Meri Shaan has collaborated with an organisation dealing with environmental development and architecture to reclaim the lost heritage under a project titled ‘Learning History—Mehrauli Studio’.“As part of the project, we are holding discussions with the government departments concerned, and encouraging dialogue about preserving the heritage,” said RWA President Sandeep Bali. The RWA members have also roped in Greha, a not-for-profit society, to save the park. The members have held a series of meetings with representatives of various government and civic bodies, including the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), Public Works Department (PWD), South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-Delhi, among others, to discuss the project. The park houses over 100 monuments and ruins, and a thick green cover. The monuments include iconic structures such as Jamali Kamali Mosque, Quli Khan’s tomb, Balban’s Tomb and Rajon ki Baoli, along with several important ruins.The lack of a demarcated boundary allows encroachment in the area, which depletes its rich green cover and provides a safe haven to anti-social elements. The park is under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and has a large number of ASI-protected monuments. Last year, the RWA had filed a plea in the High Court regarding encroachment in some of the centuries-old monuments and entry of vehicles inside the park, facilitated by broken boundary walls. “Despite the court order to clear the encroachments, the DDA failed to act. We hope to evoke some action on part of the government through this project, as we are tired of filing PILs and writing letters to the authorities,” Bali said. Meanwhile on Monday, the Delhi High Court directed the DDA and other agencies concerned to complete the demarcation work.

RBI asks banks to ensure cash supply to rural cooperative banks for ongoing Rabi crop season

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank on Tuesday asked banks to ensure adequate cash supply to cooperative banks and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) so that farmers can have enough valid notes needed for purchase of seeds, fertiliser and other inputs during the ongoing rabi season.

The decision comes a day after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had a meeting with RBI, Nabard and all bankers and impressed upon them to make available funds to the cooperative sector as it is an important financing mechanism for rural India.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

According to RBI, it is imperative that farmers are adequately supported financially to ensure unhindered farming operations.

“It is estimated that about Rs 35,000 crore would be required by DCCBs (District Co-operative Banks) for sanction and disbursement of crop loans to farmers at the rate of Rs 10,000 crore per week,” an RBI notification said.

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) will be utilising its own cash credit limits up to about Rs 23,000 crore to enable the DCCBs to disburse the required crop loans to Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS) and farmers, it said.

“As many of these loans will be disbursed in cash to facilitate farming related expenses, we advise in this regard that banks with currency chests should ensure adequate cash supply to the DCCBs and RRBs,” it said.

Adequate cash supply should also be ensured for rural branches of all commercial banks, including RRBs, it said.

Further, it said, bank branches located in Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) may also be given adequate cash to facilitate smooth procurement.

Jaitley on Tuesday said its focus will now be on rural areas and more measures will be announced for farmers.

The minister said the credit flow from banks will also go up for various activities, including agriculture as huge amount of cash due to demonetisation was deposited in the banking system.

It is expected that the government may announce some more measures to ease pressure on the farm sector.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 20:59 IST

Nepal to annul MoU with Indian consortium building Kathmandu-Nijgadh expressway

Kathmandu: Nepal has decided to terminate all memoranda of understanding (MoU) and decisions reached with an Indian consortium that was preparing to build the Kathmandu-Nijgadh expressway.

The Himalayan state was now preparing to build the project on its own as reported by the Kathmandu Post.

The 76 km long proposed highway had remained on the government’s drawing board since 1991.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Attempts to award the project to the Indian consortium of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Transportation Networks, IL&FS Engineering and Construction, and Suryavir Infrastructure Construction, had drawn flak earlier, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak told the parliamentary Finance and Development committees on Sunday.

“Without terminating the agreements and decisions reached in the past, it was impossible to move ahead, or build the project on our own,” he said.

Lekhak’s ministry is now planning to table a proposal to scrap all the agreements and understandings with the Indian developer at the Cabinet.

The Kathmandu-Nijgadh expressway which would cut travel time to an hour from the existing eight to 10 hours would be a public expressway where no toll would be levied, Lekhak told on Sunday.

The ministry was directed to settle issues related to the detailed project report (DPR) submitted by the consortium.

The developer had claimed that it had invested Rs 500-600 million for preparing the DPR.

Dhan Bahadur Tamang, secretary at the ministry, said a high-level committee was formed to sort the issue.

In 2014, the former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala-led government had made efforts to award the 100 billion-rupee-project to the consortium.

However, questions were raised over the Koirala government’s intention to offer minimum revenue guarantee up to Rs 15 billion a year to the developer if traffic remained inadequate to generate profits.

Even the Supreme Court, on 8 October, 2015, had issued an interim order shelfing the project.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 11:30 IST

PM’s flagship faltering due to MP’s non-cooperation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) a rural development programme, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2014, with much fanfare is fast losing its sheen. The SAGY was actually an improvement on the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), where MPs were supposed to identify and adopt a particular village each to focus on its social and cultural development, and motivate other villages as well. Out of 796 MPs from both Houses, 704 had adopted villages in phase I, but in phase II, just 164 law makers have so far come forward to identify villages. In the poll bound Uttar Pradesh (UP) out of 111 MPs (both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) just 38 have adopted villages. In Maharashtra just 17 MPs have so far identified villages for adoption, out of 67 MPs. Cutting across party lines, the law makers DNA spoke to argued that the scheme was hitting them politically. “When we adopt a particular village, the nearby hamlets get annoyed, hitting our electoral fortunes,” said an MP from the ruling party BJP, on the condition of anonymity. But he said the issue has been flagged with the Rural Development Minister Birender Singh to take up with the PM.Sources in the Rural Development Ministry said that after receiving host of complaints from the MPs, the minister has sent a letter to the PM. A common complaint is that since their are no dedicated funds for this scheme, it only entails to divert funds from elsewhere to the particular village, causing heartburn in other villages. Among the options being discussed in his ministry, Singh said he had suggested to either increase the MPLADS fund or to provide Rs 50 lakh per Adarsh Gram. The MPs were supposed to identify villages by January 31. But a handful of the MPs, that include the PM who has adopted Nagepur in Arajiline block in his Varanasi constituency and Feroze Varun Gandhi who has taken up Malhipu village in Sultanpur, have adopted villages. Neither Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi or the union minister Maneka Gandhi have adopted any village in phase II. In 2014, they had adopted villages in their constituencies under the scheme.The ministry is now looking forward to approach industries to tie up with the MPs to use CSR funding for these projects. According to sources, SAGY already has a CSR funding component, but other than Maharashtra, reliance on corporate funding has not yielded much. The SAGY had not been given any budgetary allocation. The MPs were expected to funnel money to adopted villages through the convergence of 21 ongoing schemes such as Indira Awaas Yojana for rural housing, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, and Beti Bachao Beti Padao.But there have been success stories as well. Data available with the ministry suggests that some 283 villages had achieved 100% children immunization, 252 100% institutional delivery and 378 had achieved 100% mid day meal coverage.

Uttar Pradesh: Senior IAS officer Navneet Sahgal injured in car crash on Agra-Lucknow Expressway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior IAS officer and Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary (Information) Navneet Sahgal, and four others, were on Friday injured in a car accident at Unnao on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, days ahead of its inauguration.Police said Sahgal’s official car collided with a private car between Atiya and Inayatpur villages, under Auras police station area.The officer has suffered head injuries and has been rushed to the Trauma Centre at KGMU here, along with his driver, gunner, and two others who were in the private car, they said.A 1988-batch IAS officer, Sahgal is also Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA).Hours before the accident, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had warned against driving at high speed on the state-of-the-art road. “I request you to drive on the expressway with caution and not exceed a speed limit of 100 kmph,” he had said after a Cabinet meeting earlier in the day.Akhilesh is scheduled to inaugurate the 302-km six-lane expressway – his dream project and the longest expressway in the country- on November 21.It has been constructed by the UPEIDA to reduce traffic on congested roads and bring down pollution and carbon footprint.It has been completed in a record 22 months.A three-km long stretch on the expressway can double as runway and be used by jets for landing and take-off.Unlike other expressway inaugurations, as many as 11 IAF jets are likely to land and take off from the expressway during the inaugural show.The exercise is aimed at testing the quality of build of the expressway and would also go a long way in aiding Defence Ministry’s plan to use highways and expressways as possible landing and take-off strips during any emergency.The Chief Minister had recently taken a ride with his family members after the expressway was opened for him for his journey to his native village Saifai in Etawah.

Demonetization: PM Modi meets senior ministers in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers of his government is underway at the former’s chamber in Parliament.As per reports, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu, and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Anant Kumar are participating in the meeting. On day 2 of the winter session, both Houses were adjourned yesterday as a united opposition demanded a debate on demonetization, including voting, which was rejected by the government.Opposition parties attacked the Centre saying the demonetization move has hit the poor and the marginalised.The main opposition Congress Party on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made demonetization announcement on November 8, and thus, until the former comes to the Rajya Sabha, there will be no discussion on the issue. “We raised this issue in the Rajya Sabha yesterday that the demonetization announcement was made by the Prime Minister, therefore, he should have been present in the House, and should have listened to the opposition, and answered too. We wanted his presence in the House yesterday, but he did not turn up. We have been demanding since morning, and had also made it clear to the leader of the House yesterday, that until the Prime Minister comes to the Upper House, there will be no discussion on the issue,” the leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati also sought a reply from the Prime Minister on the ongoing discussion on demonetization in the Rajya Sabha. Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Mayawati said the issue is sensitive and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) should be set up to probe the alleged leakage of the decision on demonetization.