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Govt’s revenue to increase due to demonetization: Nitin Gadkari

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday demonetization will help the government in increasing revenue and enable it to pump in more money in welfare schemes for the people.”Government’s revenue will increase. With the increase in revenue there would be more programmes for the welfare of the people,” Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari told reporters here.Underlining that like many other countries of the world, India is also moving towards a cash-less economy, the minister said “one has to face some difficulties in the beginning if something big has to be achieved. All turnover will be on record”.Asserting that the country was moving on the path of development, Gadkari said that honesty and transparency is the need of the hour and in the coming days the little difficulties being faced by the people would be reduced.”The Prime Minister asked for 50 days. I can see the queues getting shorter and in days to come there will be relief,” the minister said. On Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s accusation that BJP is “victimising” AAP’s Goa chief ministerial candidate Elvis Gomes, Gadkari said, “We have not done so. I am BJP’s in-charge of Goa assembly election… There is no question of doing so.”

Demonetisation: BJP distributes ladoos to people standing in queues, Twitterati reacts

On Tuesday, Delhi BJP unit came up with an unique way of appreciating Indians who have patiently stood in lines outside ATMs, ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation drive on 8 November. The newly appointed Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari instructed cadres to give a laddoo to every household in Delhi for their ‘patience’, reported The Indian Express.

“Modi has launched this revolutionary step to tackle black money. Despite facing some inconvenience, people supported the move. Now, it is our turn to thank them and show our appreciation and respect for their patience,” the daily reported the actor-turned-politician as saying.

However, this new move by the BJP ensured Twitterati had a field day.

Singer-music director Vishal Dadlani was at his sarcastic best!

Then there was a change in narrative too.

Sarcasm anyone?

Laddoos in the age of Digital India

Some food for thought!

Fake Rahul Gandhi trolling Union Minister Nitin Gadkari!

This would be heart-breaking!

A path breaking idea!

Pun intended!

So was it a hoax?

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 18:28 IST

Demonetisation effect: Ex-bureaucrat EAS Sarma questions lavish political weddings

New Delhi: With demonetisation affecting weddings at large across the country with a Rs 2,50,000 cap on withdrawal for weddings, a former bureaucrat has questioned VVIP wedding extravaganzas.

EAS Sarma, a bureaucrat who retired as a secretary to Government of India, shot letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and also the Enforcement Directorate .

He pointed out the lavish spending at several weddings, including those of daughters of Union Ministers Mahesh Sharma, Nitin Gadkari, and Karnataka politician G Janardhana Reddy.

“I have written three letters to the Prime Minister, one to Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) and to Rahul Gandhi. I have not got any reply yet,” Sarma told IANS.

He said he had sought a probe into the source of money for Reddy’s daughter’s wedding before it took place but it was not carried out.

“There was no investigation, and after the marriage was over, a junior team went but it gave a clean chit to Reddy,” Sarma said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

A twist in the tale came when a 30-year-old driver of a Special Land Acquisition Officer (SLAO) of Bengaluru committed suicide accusing in his suicide note that the officer had helped Reddy convert old notes into new currency ahead of his daughter’s wedding.

According to Sarma, around Rs 100 crore was converted.

“They have arrested the officer who colluded with Reddy, but they should have probed it before the wedding took place,” he said.

Sarma, a 1965 batch IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, who got 26 transfers in his 35-year tenure, in his different letters pointed out at the lavish weddings, comparing them with those of common citizen.

Hundreds of commoners were compelled to cancel weddings following the note ban due to cash shortage.

“Apparently, there is one set of rules and standards for NDA ministers and another set for the common man on the street,” Sarma said in one of his letter to the Prime Minister.

“As a result of the prevailing cash crisis, many families have put off their scheduled weddings. Many other weddings have broken down. But, Gali Janardhana Reddy, Mahesh Sharma and Gadkari feel no crisis whatsoever, as they seem to have the blessings of bigwigs from both BJP and the NDA,” the letter said.

“While your ministers are indulging in such unhealthy extravagance, is it not ironic that you yourself should exhort the common man to stand in queues to uphold your grandiose mission to fight against black money?” the letter said.

In another letter to the Prime Minister, Sarma mentioned the suicide by the driver and said: ” What distresses me is that, despite my cautionary letters addressed to you, the Finance Minister, the Union Revenue Secretary, the Enforcement Director and CBI Director, all the central agencies seem to have deferred raids on Reddy’s premises till he had successfully laundered the black cash holdings and allowed the local officers to give him a “clean” chit.”

“Modiji, while the demonetisation mission launched by you is a commendable step forward, if it is established that your government is complicit in letting the money launderers off the hook, the credibility of what you have done in the name of demonetisation will certainly come under public scrutiny,” Sarma said.

Seeking a full fledged investigation, the former bureaucrat also said that if the government does not act, he will seek “judicial intervention”.

“If you do not act quickly and firmly on these letters of mine, I will be constrained to seek judicial intervention, as every citizen in this country has the right to question the basics of governance,” he said.

In his letter to Rahul Gandhi, the former bureaucrat pointed out at the presence of Congress leaders at the wedding.

Known as an honest and upright bureaucrat, Sarma, while serving in Andhra Pradesh in 1994-95, had opposed Telugu Desam Party government’s plan to set up power plants without any competitive bidding.

When he could not overrule the government, he went on leave and later applied for a central posting.

A post-graduate in nuclear physics from the Andhra University and in public administration from the Harvard University, Sarma, in 2000, quit the finance ministry over differences in the public policy issues with the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led NDA government.

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes announced by the Prime Minister on November 8, limits were imposed on cash withdrawals from ATMs and banks.

At present there is a limit of Rs 2,500 for ATM withdrawals per day and Rs 24,000 for bank withdrawals per week.

For families with weddings, the withdrawal limit is Rs 2,50,000.

However, there were reports of weddings being cancelled across the country due to the cash crunch.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 11:34 IST

Congress demands details of Gadkari’s daughter’s wedding costs to be made public

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Monday alleged crores were spent on the wedding of Union minister Nitin Gadkari’s daughter and demanded BJP should make public details of expenses made.Terming the wedding as extravagant, Congress spokesperson Gaurav Gogoi wondered whether such kind of ostentation fits into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s precedent of transparency by revealing bank details of its members and MLAs post demonetization. “The Congress party demands for the sake of transparency that BJP leaders explain where this money spent in weddings had come from and how this money has been spent, how much in cash and how much in cheques. We are demanding because the Prime Minister in his recent political meeting took a precedent of showing transparency by revealing the details of its members and MLAs as well,” he said. “Why don’t you reveal details of expenses at these weddings as well. Since it is the government which has set the rules of Rs 2.5 lakh for weddings, why doesn’t the government tell its ministers and MPs that this is the time not for extravaganza and ostentatious display of wealth,” he asked.Gogoi also alleged that it shows the “wide disconnect” between the BJP and the people of the country. “It also shows there is one law for the rest of the country and the prime minister has set aside a different law for BJP leaders,” he said. “The people of India are hurt by the insensitive and ostentatious display of wealth and they will reply in due course of time,” he said.The MP from Assam said the onus is on the government to show sensitivity towards the poor, who are struggling with Rs 2.5 lakh to carry out the weddings in their families. He said the Prime Minister had given the message that meetings should not be held at hotels, yet such 5-star venues and hotels have been booked by BJP leaders at a time when people are struggling to pay vendors. “I think it is extremely ostentatious, extravagant, insensitive and is a mockery of the struggle that the poor is going through,” he said. After these remarks, Gogoi faced some ticklish questions on the lavish wedding of a senior party leader from Kerala. When asked if his party would also ask the leader to make the expenses public, he suggested that the BJP should first walk the talk. Gogoi said this is the season of weddings when there is joy and happiness among people, but their dreams have been dashed by Prime Minister’s demonetization announcement.

Uddhav Thackeray meets RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur

Sun, 4 Dec 2016-05:04pm , Nagpur , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur.Thackeray, who arrived in Nagpur this morning, drove to the RSS headquarters where he met Bhagwat. Their meeting lasted for about an hour. What transpired between the two leaders is not known, but Sangh sources claimed it was a courtesy call by Thackeray, whose party is an ally in the BJP-ruled coalition at the Centre and Maharashtra.Later, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also met Bhagwat. Singh and Thackeray among other politicians were here to attend the wedding of Union minister Nitin Gadkari’s daughter.The Winter session of Maharashtra Legislature is beginning in Nagpur from Monday, which is likely to be a stormy one with the Opposition expected to raise the issue of demonetization and its impact on common man. The Sena has been critical of the implementation of the Centre’s demonetization drive.

Gadkari’s office rubbishes reports of 50 chartered flights to ferry VIPs for daughter’s wedding

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The office of Union Road, Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday dubbed reports stating that 50 chartered flights will ferry VIPs for his daughter’s wedding as ‘mischievous and incorrect’.Gadkari’s office stated that only ten non-scheduled flights have landed at Nagpur Airport in the last 24 hours, according to the Air Traffic Control (ATC).It said that ten non-scheduled flights included at least three government flights of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan.Other non-schedules flights included those of yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Shiv Sena chief Udhhav Thackeray, media baron and veteran filmmaker Ramoji Rao and Rajya Sabha member and former non-executive chairman of ZEE TV Subhash Chandra.Earlier reports suggested that over 10,000 guests, most of them VVIPs, will be flown to the city in 50 charter flights on Sunday evening.Ketki, the youngest of Gadkari’s three children, is getting married to Aditya Kaskhedikar, a professional with Facebook in San Francisco.

Political bigwigs to attend marriage of Nitin Gadkari’s daughter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The who’s who of politics, including BJP chief Amit Shah, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Prakash Javadekar and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray are expected to attend the marriage ceremony of Nitin Gadkari’s daughter in Nagpur on Sunday.Gadkari’s daughter Ketki, youngest of his three children, will tie the knot with Aditya Kaskhedikar, who works with Facebook in the US. According to sources, BJP president Amit Shah will come to Nagpur tonight from Delhi and return after the wedding. Apart from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of State for Power, Coal Piyush Goyal and some other BJP national leaders are also likely to be present on the occasion.Maharastra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, his counterparts from neighbouring states- Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray are also expected to be in attendance. As the Winter session of Maharashtra Legislature is beginning from December 5, a number of ministers from the state have planned to attend the ceremony.Sources said Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao and Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit have expressed their inability to be present at the event, but said they would attend the reception to be held on December 8 in New Delhi. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, who belongs to Nagpur, has two sons- Nikhil and Sarang.

Demonetisation: Govt extends toll exemption on NHs till Nov 24 mid-night

New Delhi: The government today extended the date for toll fee exemption on National Highways till the mid-night of November 24 to ensure smooth flow of traffic. It has earlier announced to keep the toll collection in abeyance till November 11 mid-night which was later extended to November 14 and then November 18.

Representational image. Overdrive.inRepresentational image.

Representational image.

“For smooth traffic movement across all National Highways, toll collection has now been suspended till mid-night of November 24,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI.

The decision has been taken to ensure smooth traffic flow across all National Highways and provide relief to the cash-starved people lining up outside banks and ATMs after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were demonetised.

Instructions have been issued to all concessionaires, including BOT (build-operate-transfer), OMT (operate-maintain-transfer) operators and other fee collection
agencies about the extension of the toll suspension date.

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to tackle corruption and black money, the government had on November 9 said no toll fee would be collected on National Highways till November 11 mid-night.

The government’s earlier decision to accept the withdrawn notes at toll plazas till November 11 mid-night led to chaos in the absence of adequate change, causing massive traffic snarls.

“We reviewed the situation and decided to suspend the collection of fees,” Gadkari had said.

Asked about the loss due to non-collection of toll fee, Gadkari was categorical that the government will bear it.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 18:51 IST

Maharashtra: Sea plane service soon from Nagpur to Shirdi, says Gadkari

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday said a sea place service will be soon launched from Ambajhari lake here to Shirdi via Anand Sagar Lake in Shegaon.The sea plane will fly in the morning and return the same day. The sea plane has been launched to benefit the people in and around Nagpur who visit these two pilgrim sites, Gadkari said at a function here.There is a shrine of Sai Baba in Shirdi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra while in Shegaon there is ‘Gajanan Maharaj Samadhi Mandir’.Gadkari along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis performed ‘bhoomipoojan’ of network of cement concrete roads here.The two BJP leaders vowed to make Maharashtra’s second capital a top city in the country with number of development works.Fadnavis said these cement concrete roads will last for at least 50 years.The cement roads worth Rs 1,000 crores are being constructed in the city, including Rs 300 crore cement roads in South-West Assembly constituency which is represented by Fadnavis himself.The Metro Rail work is also in full swing and by 2019, Nagpur will be a developed in to a global city, said the Chief Minister.Gadkari also said tar roads are not suitable for Nagpur and don’t last long hence cement roads are being constructed by the Nagpur Improvement Trust and the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC).The soil will be tested before taking up cement roads, he added.Road works to the tune of Rs 28 crores was already undertaken during the last two-and-half-year regime of BJP-SS, he said.

PM Modi’s constituency Varanasi can only meet its toilet target by 2048: Analysis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega Swachchagraha campaign, that aims at building a toilet for every home till by 2019, lagging far behind its target? A survey carried out by Down to Earth Hindi magazine claims even Modi’s own Varanasi constituency will not be able to achieve the target till 2048 if the work on the scheme continues in the current speed.The analysis report of the last two years over building toilets in India –which also leads in open defection states that in 2015-16, only 7,327 toilets were built in Varanasi against a target of 2,34,489 (till October 2019).The analysis has also taken case studies of constituencies of other top political leaders and other opposition leaders.For instance, in case of home minister Rajnath Singh constituency Lucknow, only 5,332 toilets have been built against a target of 1,86,177. The report stated that the target in Lucknow can be achieved by 2051.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple has a target of 5,47,739 toilets to be built by October 2019 in her Lok Sabha constituency Kannauj but managed only 8,309 and at this rate, she will take 66 years to reach his target by 2082.Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s constituency, Rae Bareli, has a target of 2,87,703, and the achieved number has been 6,581; the expected year of completion is 2060, the analysis said.The analysis has also studied the progress in constituencies of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj; defence minister Manohar Parikkar; water resources minister Uma Bharti; surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari; Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi; Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar; Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar; Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan; Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, among others.The magazine has stated the country needs to build 2.3 million (23 lakh) toilets every month – or a formidable 56 toilets every minute – to meet the government’s target.56 toilets a minute will help meet deadline: Study The analysis has also studied the progress in constituencies of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj; defence minister Manohar Parikkar; water resources minister Uma Bharti; surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari; Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi; Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar; Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar; Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan; Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, among others.The magazine has stated the country needs to build 2.3 million (23 lakh) toilets every month – or a formidable 56 toilets every minute – to meet the government’s target.

AAP will help make Goa ‘Congress-mukt’ and ensure BJP’s win: Nitin Gadkari

Panaji: Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari on Friday wished the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) well for the upcoming state assembly elections in Goa, claiming that AAP would ensure a “Congress-mukt” Goa, if it campaigns aggressively enough and ensures the BJP’s victory.

File photo of Nitin Gadkari. AFPFile photo of Nitin Gadkari. AFP

File photo of Nitin Gadkari. AFP

Gadkari, addressing a press conference in Panaji after meeting BJP ministers, MLAs, office-bearers and party workers over the last two days, also sounded confident of resolving the differences in the Goa Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ranks, claiming the division would not impact BJP votes.

“I had decided to conduct a detailed survey when I was appointed as the in-charge of the Goa polls. I have got the preliminary report. AAP’s entry is good and useful for us. Out of 10 votes, if they eat away two of our votes, they will claim 10 Congress votes. I wish them well, because they will help us win…it will help us indirectly,” Gadkari said making a tongue-in-cheek remark.

Asked whether the Goa polls would further the BJP’s dream of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, Gadkari sarcastically said that ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ was a dream of Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress party was working overtime to fulfill it.

“It is moving in that direction. AAP will bring Congress down. It was Mahatma Gandhi’s dream that Congress should leave politics and India should be Congress-mukt. The Congress appears to be saying, ‘Bapu, we will fulfill your dream and we will start this dream from Goa’… Congress is working towards Bapu’s dream and AAP also appears to be pushing them in that direction with all its vigour,” Gadkari said sarcastically.

Asked if the split in the RSS camp, led by rebel Sangh leader Subhash Velingkar, and the latter’s plan to float a political party with a specific motive to defeat the BJP, worried him, Gadkari said, “Sometimes some Sangh members have taken up such roles in the past, but history says that they eventually stick to the Sangh… I am confident that we will find a solution and that it will not affect the poll prospects.”

Gadkari also expressed confidence of continuing with the current alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), adding that the BJP would on its own win 25 out of the 40 seats in the polls, which are likely to be held in early 2017.

By 2018, it will take only 6 hours to travel from Mumbai to Goa: Nitin Gadkari

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the construction of 4-lane Mumbai-Goa highway, to be completed by 2018, travel time will reduce to six hours, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said in Panaji on Thursday. “We have already started the work on Mumbai-Goa four-lane cement concrete road. Our target is to complete Mumbai-Goa highway by 2018. Once it is completed, it will take only six hours from Goa to Mumbai,” Gadkari told a gathering in presence of Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.The road will help to boost tourism of the coastal state, he said, adding that he has agreed to link the Mumbai-Goa highway to Pollem in South Goa against the earlier plan to connect it up to Patradevi on Goa’s border touching Maharashtra. The minister was addressing a gathering after chairing an event to sign an agreement between Mormugao Port Trust and Vedanta’s Goa Sea Port Private Limited for the re-development of cargo berth number 8 and 9 besides barge berths and inauguration of roof top 200 KV capacity solar power generation plant at MPT.”When I had taken charge, the road construction was 2 km per day, then it was 22 km per day, and now we are targeting at 42 km per day by next March. The life of the road will be at least 50 years,” Gadkari said.Stating that 5 lakh accidents occur every year in the country, Gadkari asserted that special attention would be given to reduce road mishaps. “By making four lane concrete road we will save the life of the people on Goa-Mumbai highway. At the same time we are identifying the accidental ‘black spots’ across the country.We have already invested money for improvement of 786 black spots,” he said. “We have made it a point that 10% of the fund would be reserved to improve the black spots on highways, state roads and municipal roads. States should identity the black spots. We will definitely give money to improve them. It will also save lives,” the minister added.

Two birds, one stone: Gadkari’s masterplan to save the environment and generate employment

Plantation drive on 1 lakh km of highways under the National Green Highways Mission will create jobs for 10 lakh youth and prove to be a game-changer for the rural economy, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Friday.Kick-starting the initial plantation drive on 1,500 km of National Highways at a cost of about Rs 300 crore, the Road Transport and Highways Minister said it is a unique venture and the government welcomed “start-ups” to join it unlike other programmes where prior experience is a must.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under the mission, the government plans to provide ‘green canopy’ on NHs at an estimated cost of Rs 5,000 crore, which is 1% of the road construction cost of Rs 5 lakh crore till 2019, and may link it with NREGA to boost the rural economy. “We will soon take up the length of National Highways to 2 lakh km from about 1 lakh km and plantation along these is our responsibility. Converting one km of highway into green provides employment to 10 people and today, we launched scheme for 1,500 km which will employ 15,000 people,” the minister said at an event here to mark the launch of the plantation drive.Ten states are already on board with the Centre in the initial phase, besides NGOs and other bodies, including four start-ups which will be given the job of greening highways of 10 km each initially. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has adopted NH 31 for plantation and maintenance of trees. Besides, Coal India and other such bodies have shown willingness. Gadkari said plantation will be accomplished on 3,000 km of national highways by the end of July.”Highways aside from environmental and aesthetic aspects have a huge potential to generate jobs and can prove to be a game-changer for agriculture and rural economy. It may even be linked with the NREGA scheme,” the highways minister said.Under the framework, the government has made it mandatory to set aside 1% of the total project cost of any NH contract to a Green Fund corpus for plantation. Calling upon government and private agencies to join hands under the initiative, Gadkari also said only serious players need to come forward as the projects will be monitored through satellite technology with payments to be made only after successful implementation.A combined effortAn app to monitor real-time progress of the plantation drive and plants was also launched on the occasion. Yes Bank was the knowledge partner for the project. Of the 10 states that joined hands for plantation, Haryana signed agreement for 415 km, Jammu & Kashmir for 100 km, Telangana for 150 km, Andhra Pradesh for 360 km, Madhya Pradesh for 150 km, and Assam for 50 km.So far, the government has roped in 22 agencies and will scale up the drive soon. Talking about environmental benefits that will flow from greening of highways, the minister said, “The afforestation will help in sequestering approximately 12 lakh mt carbon annually.”Gadkari said, “We are confident that the green highways project will go a long way in reinforcing India’s commitment made in CoP 21 summit for reducing carbon emissions up to 35% by 2030 from 2005 levels and develop additional carbon sink of 2.5 billion tonnes through green cover outside forests.”He said that unfortunately, not much emphasis was given on the greening of highways earlier. “Farmers can join hands with the government under this initiative and open their nursery. Wasteland will be converted into green forest,” the minister said.He said a pilot project to provide a canopy of bamboo on “one-km highway stretch” in Nagpur is also being planned. He also said the government plans to set up 1,300 roadside amenities which will house restaurants, washrooms and helipads and have local cuisine and cultural parks to showcase local produce.NHAI Chairman Raghav Chandra said: “We have set aside 1% of our project cost for transplantation, plantation, beautification and maintenance.” He added that 10 start-ups have initially shown interest. The programme will be replicated on non-NHAI roads as well, according to Highways Secretary Sanjay Mitra.The Green Highways Mission Director AK Bhattacharyya said initially PwC, IOC and Coal India have shown interest to adopt some highways.

Praful Patel to PM Modi: Cleanse BJP first instead of ‘Swachh Bharat’

In a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the cleanliness drive, senior NCP leader Praful Patel on Tuesday said he should first set the BJP’s house in order.”It would be appropriate on the part of Prime Minister to cleanse the BJP first instead of making a propaganda about ‘Swachh Bharat’,” the former Union minister told reporters.His comments came in an apparent reference to allegations of corruption against senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse who resigned recently as Revenue Minister. Patel claimed that no section of society is satisfied with the performance of the state and Central governments.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is unfortunate that BJP leaders like chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari have not brought any development to Vidarbha,” Patel said.He said the NCP would contest the forthcoming elections to the local bodies and municipal councils in the state on its own strength.
ALSO READ Wilful defaulters, I will show you what law can do, says PM ModiPatel alleged that no development in real terms came to Vidarbha despite the CM signing MoUs worth thousands of crores at various forums.”Gadkari has performed ‘bhoomipujan’ (groundbreaking ceremony) for road development projects but not a single tender has been passed so far,” the former Civil Aviation Minister said.He replied in negative when asked if NCP would extend its support to BJP in case Shiv Sena walks out of the coalition government.When asked whether NCP is avoiding playing an aggressive opposition out of fear of action against its leaders facing the graft charge, Patel said, “Who has stopped government from launching probe or taking legal action against us. They are free to do so. We are ready to face any eventuality”. He said NCP would go with people’s choice on granting statehood to Vidarbha.

Nitin Gadkari asks BJP workers to avoid ‘over-eating’

Asking his party workers and leaders to control the bad habit of over-eating if they have it, union minister Nitin Gadkari advised them to consult an appropriate doctor in this regard.It was Gadkari at his very best when he told party workers that in BJP, the party does not work as per any single person’s wish — be it Vajpayee, Advani, Modi or Amit Shah — since BJP has altogether different character which the party workers need to understand.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the concluding session of the two-day state level executive meeting of the BJP state unit in Pune, Gadkari asked the party workers to work towards winning local body elections which was the target for the coming days.”One has to learn to leave bad habits”, he began and cited his own example. “Everyone knows I had a habit of over-eating and I had to undergo a surgery for the same. Now, doctors have ensured I cannot consume more than one samosa. So, I overcome this bad habit of over-eating with the help of proper doctors. You also take help from doctors of your choice,” he said.Stating that post of a minister or being an MP or MLA was temporary but being a party worker was a permanent thing in life, Gadkari said: “I don’t use government vehicle since I met with an accident in a government car and that is the reason now I opt for my own car with adequate security measures. This government car or post are not permanent.”Adding that neither the personal assistants (PAs) are permanent, Gadkari said: “These PAs are like Chahapksha Kitli Garam, (Kettle hotter than tea).”Since the recent allegation against Eknah Khadse were in the mind of party workers about one of the PAs being involved in alleged bribe case, generated huge applause from the audience.BJP state unit president Raosaheb Danve said that party workers don’t read even party magazines but give priority to Saamna and other papers who criticize the party every day. “During the two-day executive meeting many books on similar topics were released by him and the chief minister but the party worker who is instrumental in bringing about the book generally does not have any idea of what are the contents of the book,” said Danve.Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis suggested that the district unit presidents should not be found in Mumbai for five days in a week but they should work more in their own district. He expressed the need to strengthen the booth-level structure in view of the ensuing local body elections.

Work for organisation, don’t crave for ministerial positions, Nitin Gadkari tells party workers

Pune: With former Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse and BJP state chief Raosaheb Danve in attendance, Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday asked party workers not to hanker after ministerial positions and said senior functionary should demonstrate ethical conduct.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. PTIUnion Minister Nitin Gadkari. PTI

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. PTI

Addressing the concluding session of the two-day meeting of BJP’s Maharashtra state executive here, Gadkari appealed to the party workers to devote themselves to organisational work and the national cause.

“Those who crave for position of power are driven by insatiable ambition and they remain unhappy. Ministership and the pomp and power that come with it do not last long. Senior party functionaries should demonstrate ethical behaviour to set an example for new workers,” he said.

Those seated on the dais as Gadkari spoke included former state Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, who recently resigned in the wake of allegations of wrongdoings, and state BJP president Raosaheb Danve.

“We all have weaknesses. I’d weakness for food. Doctors performed the bariatric surgery (aimed at weight loss to curb obesity) on me and structurally limited my food intake which is good for health.”

“Everybody should choose his own doctor to ensure good health by curbing the cravings,” he added.

Noting that the BJP is a grassroots worker-based party and not a “dynastic” entity, Gadkari said none of the leaders has been able to dictate terms while running it.

Gadkari said his view was backed by his own experience as the party chief.

“I was the president and I know this. This party is no  run by the dictates of any one individual – be it Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, myself, Amit Shah, or Narendra Modi. It has a different character and the party belongs to its workers who are the real source of its strength,” he said.

Without taking name of any party, he said the BJP is not a “dynastic” party where the power is in the hands of family members.

“This party does not belong to any individual and has a collective goal that each ordinary party worker tries to achieve as a mission,” he said.

Gadkari urges people to obey traffic rules in light of increasing road accidents

New Delhi: Road Transport, Highway and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday urged the people to obey traffic rules and help reduce road accidents.

“Obey traffic rules and exercise utmost care and caution on the roads. People should not drink and drive, and not violate traffic rules,” said Gadkari at an event here.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. PTIUnion Minister Nitin Gadkari. PTI

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. PTI

The appeal came in connection with the growing number of road accidents and related fatalities in the country.

Gadkari said that the growing number of road accidents in the country is a matter of grave concern, and it is extremely sad that so many innocent lives are lost everyday due to these accidents.

“My ministry is working in earnest towards reduction of road accidents, 726 black spots have been identified and work is on to rectify these. Rs 11,000 crore will be spent for this work. Crash barriers are going to be installed in hilly terrains like Himachal Pradesh,” said Gadkari.

“A Group of Ministers is working on recommendations to make Indian roads safer. This will pave the way for introducing a new Motor Vehicles Act in the Parliament soon,” added Gadkari.

The minister also informed that 10 per cent of the CRF funds given to each state is to be used for identifying black spots on state and other highways.

He called upon state governments to send proposals for the same. He also said that NGOs have also been roped in to create awareness on the subject.

“Government alone cannot ensure safety on roads, and people should do their bit by obeying traffic rules and helping create awareness about the subject,” said Gadkari.

Road accidents: Why govt data on deaths is questionable

New Delhi: On an average, 17 Indians died every hour in road accidents last year. Unsurprisingly, India tops road accident deaths, with roughly 1.5 lakh Indians dying on the roads in 2015 when total number of accidents crossed the five lakh mark. That is 400 people dying on our roads each day. Delhi, which has more vehicles than Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata put together, reported the highest number of deaths at 1622 due to road accidents among India’s top cities during 2015,. In other words, close to five Delhiites died on the roads daily. Tamil Nadu topped the list of all states with most number of accidents at 69,059 or close to 190 accidents a day. 15642 people lost their lives in this one state alone last year or at the rate of almost 43 people every day. As vehicle population multiplies, what are we doing to bring down deaths due to road accidents?

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Stricter and better implementation of traffic rules is a no-brainer. Of course we need much better implementation of traffic rules, better road design and a vastly improved road usage skills to improve accident rates on our roads. But this is not nearly enough. Though the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has proposed a slew of measures and earmarked a significant budget for reducing road fatalities, what someone needs to tell the government is that it must begin with the basics.

Look at Auckland in New Zealand, which has a population of just about a million people but has at least 40 officers specifically tasked with thinking up ways to enhance road safety. In the United States, this number is close to 500. In India, it is zero. We have no nodal body which looks after road safety, which has officers trained specifically to study the safety aspect and suggest ways to enhance safety on India’s roads. Instead of making fancy pronouncements on improving road design and asking vehicle makers to install safety equipment (which is a good move), the government needs to first listen to experts and create a mindset about safety. How about having programmes on safety in our universities, courses which enable youngsters to specialize in this aspect of traffic management and then go on to make careers out of this?

Dinesh Mohan, former professor of IIT Delhi and a transport expert points out that governments world over have established research centres for traffic management and road safety with highly trained people studying these aspects but no such thought has been put into enhancing road safety in India. “Anyway, the statistics government puts out are also not believable. According to our own study, pedestrians account for 35-40% of road deaths and another 30% come from two wheelers, with cyclists accounting for 10-15% of deaths. Government data does not corroborate that.”

According to “Road Accidents in India 2015” report released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways last week, roughly every third road user killed in road accidents was on a two wheeler, pedestrians accounted for less than 10% of deaths and cars, taxi, vans and other LVCs together accounted for 17.2% of deaths in 2015. The report acknowledges that information contained in it has been collected from police headquarters of states and union territories through specifically designated nodal officers.

The MoRTH has earmarked Rs 600 crore for this fiscal to correct road engineering defects. It has identified 700 black spots – those places where five or more deaths occurred during the previous year – and promises to put in place an “institutional structure” during the year to tackle the road death menace. The report on accidents in 2015 also mentions that road safety curricula are being incorporate in school syllabii. But till a dedicated body tasked with studying road safety and implementing safety parameters is formed, these efforts may at best skirt the issue at hand.

Remember, Road Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari has already set himself a goal of reducing road fatalities by 50% by 2020. That is just four years away. Some efforts are being made to emphasise on road safety but have not been successful so far.

A Bill to create the National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board (NRSTMB) was introduced in Lok Sabha in 2010 but lapsed subsequently. Now the Ministry has drafted a new Road Transport & Safety Bill. National Road Safety & Traffic Management Authority (NRSTMA) has been made part of this Bill. The Ministry proposes for creation of NRSTMA through an executive order, pending
the enactment of Road Transport and Safety Bill.

Some medium term measures have also been announced by Gadkari’s ministry. All two wheelers manufactured on and after the 1st April, 2019 will be mandatorily fitted with anti-lock braking system (which prevents vehicle skidding). Mandatory crash test for vehicles with regard to Head on Collision, Offset Frontal Collision has also been announced with specific timelines. According to this report in the Times of India,

Gadkari said it was a “matter of pain“ for him to share the rising graph of road deaths even as the sector itself scripted several success stories over the past two years. The minister added that his ministry will take two immediate steps to check fatalities on narrow highways in hill states and high-speed corridors that witness more fatal crashes: install crash barriers all along hill roads to reduce chances of vehicles falling off the road and deploy advanced ambulances with vehicle-cutting equipment on stretches such as the Mumbai-Pune expressway.

The report on accidents in 2015 showed that almost three in four accidents on India’s roads happen due to driver’s fault. Gadkari has been speaking against the ease with which a driving licence is available in India and of measures to streamline this entire process. But what steps have been taken to ensure stricter checks on drving licenses remains unclear.

Some other proposals of the Road Safety and Transport Bill mentioned earlier include a provision of cashless treatment for all road accident victims during ‘Golden Hour’: Coupled with another provision, which seeks to provide mandatory insurance to all road users through a dedicated accident fund, this is a welcome provision. The draft bill proposes setting up a Motor Accident Fund for this purpose.

Delhi: Two killed as car rams into pedestrians in Janak Puri

At least two people were killed while another sustained injuries after a speeding car hit pedestrians at Delhi’s Janak Puri area on Monday morning.”The incident took place at around 6 to 6:30 when my uncle was coming from his morning walk. The car hit him from back. There were three to four boys in the car. Out of which only one got arrested. They were so drunk that they were asking for cigarettes from the cops during questioning,” Arjun, one of the relatives of the victim, told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The police brought the accused at around 7 am The police took the boys for a medical check-up on our request. They were drunk,” added another relative of the victim.In April this year, one person was killed and three others were injured as a speeding BMW car hit them in Noida’s Sector 22.In another incident, a 32-year-old man was killed when a juvenile ran over him in Delhi’s posh civil lines area on April 4. The court has now ordered that the juvenile be tried as an adult in the case.While Mumbai saw the highest number of accidents of all cities in the country, Delhi topped the list of fatalities with 1622 deaths last year.These were some of the statistics Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari released for the year 2015.”It doesn’t make me happy to release this data but I want it to get the attention it deserves,” he said.

Eknath Khadse quits, exposes BJP’s fault lines

In a loss of face to the BJP-led regimes in the state and the Centre, Eknath Khadse finally put in his papers from the Maharashtra cabinet, days after coming under a cloud over alleged irregularities, ranging from purchase of MIDC land to his ‘aide’ being arrested for seeking a bribe.Sources said that though Khadse, who was seen as the veritable number two in the state cabinet and had never concealed his chief ministerial ambitions, had resisted calls for his resignation, his hand was forced after a nudge from the party high command. On Saturday morning, the six-term MLA from Muktainagar in Jalgaon submitted his resignation to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who later announced a probe by a retired judge into the allegations against Khadse.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ministers admitted that the controversy was a setback to the anti-corruption plank of the BJP.After Khadse found himself in controversies over allegations like receiving calls from Pakistan-based fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, son-in-law Dr Pranjal Khewalkar’s limousine and purchase of MIDC land by his wife and son-in-law, there were reports that his wings would be clipped in the impending cabinet reshuffle. Khadse handled multiple portfolios including revenue, agriculture and excise.On Thursday, Fadnavis submitted a report on Khadse to BJP chief Amit Shah and said the party would take a decision. However, BJP insiders admit the resignation has exposed the party’s fault lines.His supporters claim that the muck-racking against their leader was an “inside job”, and that the BJP had acted harshly against the OBC leader Leva Patil from Jalgaon, while sparing other ministers facing similar charges.The BJP is also said to be working on a compromise which may include a role at the Centre or his elder daughter Sharada Choudhari being made an MLC and inducted into the cabinet.Sources said that after a night full of developments, Khadse, who was in Mumbai since Friday, received calls from senior party leaders including Nitin Gadkari, after which he met Fadnavis. Later, flanked by senior ministers and BJP state unit chief Raosaheb Danve-Patil, he announced his resignation plans while referring to the BJP’s “moral values”.Khadse, who had skipped this week’s cabinet meeting and left for Jalgaon, slammed the “media trial”, and claimed that accusations were being made for “cheap popularity” sans evidence.”The BJP upholds moral values,” said Khadse, pointing out that senior leaders like LK Advani and Nitin Gadkari too had quit when allegations were raised against them.”Though these allegations are false and indiscriminate, I have told the chief minister that I want to resign… I will not stay on my position till the truth is revealed,” said Khadse, adding that the party too was being defamed unnecessarily.Khadse claimed that the Bhosari land deal was legal and the revenue department had ruled out any wrongdoing. Khadse said he had asked the Pune police to file a case against Hemant Gawande, who had made allegations regarding this land, for trying to grab Rs 400 crore government agriculture college land with false documents.In a veiled reference that lobbies hurt by his decisions may have been behind these controversies, Khadse said he had taken around 119 decisions with a bearing on public interest which had “affected the selfish interests of some,” like seizure of wakf land which had been taken over by some people.”What is a hacker? He is a thief… It is not a crime to hack a Pakistani site? It is a case of treason,” said Khadse, while speaking on “ethical hacker” Manish Bhangale, who claims to have sourced call details of Dawood’s Karachi landline.Khadse’s resignation was forwarded by Fadnavis to the Governor, who accepted it. Fadnavis tweeted that a retired high court judge would probe allegations against Khadse.BJP leaders said matters escalated after the allegations were picked up by the national media and Khadse’s defiance. Moreover, allegations by his supporters that Khadse was being discriminated against as he was a ‘Bahujan’ (non-Brahmin), could also spoil the pitch for the BJP as Fadnavis is a Brahmin. The Shiv Sena, whose antipathy towards Khadse is known, too had called for his ouster.

Work on development of two inland waterways in Goa to begin from October: Nitin Gadkari

The work on development of two inland waterways in Goa will begin from October this year, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday.”The Union Government will start work on two waterways Mandovi and Zuari rivers – after the monsoons. The work will start from October,” Gadkari said.The Union minister for shipping said dredging work for the waterways has already been undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 115 crore.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ministry has also drawn up a detailed project report for terminals along the inland waterways at various points including Betim, Brittona, Aldona, Corjuvem, Pomburpa, Durbhat, Old Goa, Panaji, Chorao and Ribander, he said.”The approximate cost of construction of jetties and passenger terminals is Rs 100 crore,” Gadkari said, adding ferry services would be introduced between Aldona to Panaji, Cortalim to Durbhat and Panaji to Vasco.”By October we will start the work and it will take six to eight months to complete,” he said.Earlier in the day, he chaired a meeting of the Shipping Ministry officials on “targets for financial year 2016-17 and the next five years” here.The Union Ministry is also conducting feasibility study on waterways through Chapora, Cumbharjua, Mapusa and Sal rivers in the coastal state, Gadkari said.

Over 5 crore driving licences bogus; offenders face one-year jail

Almost every third driving licence in India could be ‘bogus’ with a staggering number of over five crore people driving on roads with fake documents, according to official data.However, those found to be driving with fake licences may soon be jailed for up to a year in addition to a hefty penalty of Rs 10,000 — up from the current penalty provision of Rs 500 and a maximum jail term of three months.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In case of juvenile drivers, the owner of the vehicle or the driver’s guardian will face stricter penalties of up to three years in jail and fine of up to Rs 20,000, while their vehicle registration certificate may also be cancelled.”In India, 30% of the licences are bogus. We need to check it. We are going to start an online system where computerised tests will be conducted to obtain driving licences. Every one — whether a politician, an official or a celebrity — will have to take the test to get the licence.There will be complete transparency,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI.An official said the Ministry has collated data of about 18 crore licences and an estimated 5.4 crore of them fall under the “bogus” category, which need to be checked.An earlier government survey of about six crore driving licences had found nearly 74 lakh fake ones.Terming the Road Transport and Safety Bill as key to make Indian roads safer, Gadkari said an estimated 1.5 lakh people die every year in the country in road accidents and the proposed law will overhaul the entire system including about issuance of driving licences.”We are hopeful that the Bill would get passed in the next session of Parliament with states on board now on this matter as the subject falls in the concurrent list,” he said.Gadkari said the Bill has been facing delays due to opposition from “vested interests” in Regional Transport Offices who are opposed to “transparency and computerisation”.Besides computerisation, the government also plans to set up 5,000 new driving centres, he added.A Group of Ministers, headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yunoos Khan, has submitted its preliminary report that proposes hefty penalty for traffic violations.The final report is expected by the next month, after which the Bill should be passed in Parliament, the Minister said.Sources said the preliminary report has suggested that if a person is found “driving after disqualification under the Act or applying or obtaining license without disclosing the fact”, he or she will face imprisonment up to one year and a fine of up to Rs 10,000.The GoM has also recommended that the guardian of a juvenile caught driving may face imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to Rs 20,000, besides cancellation of the vehicle registration.Guardian or owner of the vehicle would be liable for offence committed by the juvenile and would face punishment for abetment to the offence. It would be presumed that such use of vehicle was with the consent of the owner or the guardian, as per the GoM recommendations.In case of grievous hurt or death caused by the juvenile’s act of driving, the driver would be sentenced to Children’s Home and there will be “no provision of bail” if the driver has been previously challanned for any offence under the Motor Vehicles Act.The GoM, tasked to frame the Bill to make significant modifications to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has come out with several other suggestions for stricter punishment for the rule breakers.The GoM includes seven Transport Ministers from various states, including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Goa and Haryana.

India eyes Iran’s energy resources, commits over Rs 1 lakh crore investment in Chabahar

Tehran: India will invest billions of dollars in setting up industries — ranging from aluminum smelter to urea plants — in Iran’s Chabahar free trade zone after it signed a pact to operate a strategic port on the Persian Gulf nation’s southern coast.

The inking of commercial contract to build and run the strategic port of Chabahar will help India gain a foothold in Iran and win access to Afghanistan, Russia and Europe, thus circumventing Pakistan, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI.

Nitin Gadkari. PTINitin Gadkari. PTI

Nitin Gadkari. PTI

“The distance between Kandla and the Chabahar port is less than the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai, and so what this agreement does is to enable us quick movement of goods first to Iran and then onwards to Afghanistan and Russia through a new rail and road link,” he explained.

“Over Rs 1 lakh crore investment can happen in Chabahar free trade zone,” Gadkari said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here on Sunday on a two-day visit seeking to further cement Indo-Iranian ties and explore avenues to bolster trade in a big way in the wake of lifting of sanctions against Iran.

Iran, Gadkari said, has cheap natural gas and power that Indian firms are keen to tap to build a 0.5-million tonne aluminium smelter plant as well as urea manufacturing units.

“We spend Rs 45,000 crore annually on urea subsidy, and if we can manufacture it in the Chabahar free trade zone and move it through the port to Kandla and onward to hinterland, we can save that amount,” he said.

Gadkari said Nalco will set up the aluminium smelter while private and co-operative fertiliser firms are keen to build urea plants provided they get gas at less than USD 2 per mmBtu.

Railway PSU IRCON will build a rail line at Chabahar to move goods right up to Afghanistan, he said.

Gadkari said India Ports Global Pvt, a joint venture of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and the Kandla Port Trust, will invest USD 85 million in developing two container berths with a length of 640 metres and three multi cargo berths.

The Indian consortium has signed the port pact with Aria Banader Iranian.

“The contract is for 10 years and can be extended. We will take 18 months to complete phase one of the construction,” he said, adding that first two years of the contract are grace period where India doesn’t have to guarantee any cargo.

From the third year, India will guarantee 30,000 TEUs of cargo at the Chabahar port which will go up to 2,50,000 TEUs by the 10th year.

An initial pact to build the Chabahar port was first inked during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in 2003, but the deal slipped through during subsequent years. It has been aggressively pushed in the past one year, leading to signing of the agreement for phase-1 today, Gadkari said.

“This is a historic event which will herald in a new era of development. We can now go to Afghanistan and further to Russia and Europe without going through Pakistan,” he said.

The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan — Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

India is also reported to finance another road network inside Afghanistan to enable Iran to access as far as Tajikistan through a shorter route.

The Indian joint venture company will invest more than USD 85.2 million in development of the port. India’s Exim Bank will provide a credit line of another USD 150 million.

India will install equipment and operate two berths in the first phase of the Chabahar port with an investment of USD 85.2 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.9 million on a 10-year lease, Gadkari said.

Gadkari also said India will build a 500-km railway between Chabahar and Zahedan which will connect Chabahar to Central Asia.

Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Iran’s southern coast, is of great strategic utility for India. It lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast.

The port project will be the first overseas venture for an Indian state-owned port.

CPM-BJP feud in Kerala echoes in Delhi, Gadkari-led delegation knocks at President’s door

In the aftermath of the Kerala election results, the hostilities between the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are taking a fiercer turn.The BJP has brought the feud between the Marxists and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) in the state to the capital, with Union minister Nitin Gadkari leading a party delegation to seek President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention in restraining violence and his party cadre protesting at the CPI-M headquarters. Both sides accused each other of initiating violence in the state and gave detailed accounts of attacks on its leaders.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gadkari, who led a delegation of Union ministers and state leaders, told reporters that they had conveyed to the President the details of attacks on RSS and BJP workers.Photograph by: Manit Balmiki”We have given the President details of these cases, including photographs. Our worker Pramod was killed. Houses of more than 100 workers have been vandalised. The situation is not good. He has assured us that he will take appropriate action. Unfortunately, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Congress are keeping quiet. This is not good for democracy,” he said.According to BJP sources, the party’s strategy was aimed at “exposing” the CPM as an “anti-democratic” party at the national level.In the memorandum to the President, the BJP said that with the “Left Front assuming power, there are visible signs of large-scale violence being escalated against BJP workers.” It also alleged that several cases against the gruesome violence across the state, particularly in Kannur, Kasargod, Kottayam and Chalakudy, had to be investigated.While the delegation claimed that there was a general apprehension that the state may witness large-scale organised “crusade” by the LDF government to decimate the growing strength of BJP through violent means, the CPI-M said that the saffron party was not ready to accept the verdict, which had given a clear majority to the Left.”It’s the BJP and the RSS which have initiated violence after the results in the state,” CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.PTIIn a statement on Sunday, the CPI-M said that the BJP was levelling false allegations about violence and that its party workers have held a demonstration at the CPI-M office and indulged in vandalism.”The BJP leadership is adopting a hypocritical and dishonest position about what has actually happened in Kerala. On May 19, when the results were declared, CPI-M workers took out a victory procession in Pinarayi, the constituency of chief minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan. This procession was attacked by the BJP-RSS workers, resulting in the death of CV Raveendran, a 53-year-old member of the CPI-M. His son Jishen and four others were injured,” the statement said, giving an account of attacks on CPI-M workers.The CPI-M also took exception to Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s remarks on Saturday saying “instead of issuing threats, the CPI-M should ensure that the party units in Kerala stop such violent attacks.” Prasad had said that violence on RSS and BJP workers will not be tolerated.The CPI-M said that the attacks by the BJP will not be tolerated by the people. Its statement said that, in Kasargode district’s Kanhangad constituency, the victory procession of the LDF candidate and sitting CPI MLA E Chandrashekaran was attacked by BJP workers, and, the same day, a bomb was hurled at a CPI-M rally in Mattanoor, Kannur, where four people were injured.

Kerala violence: 150 BJP workers detained in Delhi for protesting party worker’s murder

Scores of BJP workers on Sunday staged a demonstration outside the CPI(M) office in New Delhi, protesting against the murder of a 38-year-old party worker allegedly by supporters of the Left party during a poll victory rally in Kerala.Around 150 protestors have been detained, police said. Several police teams were rushed to the spot in New Delhi area and the entire area was barricaded.CPI(M) workers had also come out of the building to confront the protesters, a senior police official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP worker Pramod (38) had sustained head injuries after he was allegedly hit by a brick following a clash during a victory rally by CPI(M) workers at Idavilangu in Kerala on Thursday. He died the next day. BJP has been targeting the Left over the alleged attacks on its workers in Kerala in the run up to the polls.
ALSO READ Kerala Elections 2016: LDF back in power, UDF decimated; BJP makes historic debutBJP chief Amit Shah had on Saturday accused the Left Front of “violating” the people’s mandate. BJP had said it will not sit quiet if the “cycle of violence” continues in the state as it claimed that it has emerged as a powerful alternative voice to the two main fronts led by CPI(M) and Congress. Earlier in the day, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation led by Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari met President Pranab Mukherjee to lodge a formal protest with regard to the violence.

PM Narendra Modi’s Iran visit aims to firm up political, commercial ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading to Iran on Sunday on a two-day visit, a country many believe he should have travelled to earlier. “He left it too late. But better late than never,” said KC Singh, a former Indian ambassador to Iran. Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Tehran earlier in January, one of the first major world leaders to visit Iran after the crippling sanctions were lifted.

Many Iranians tend to agree with Ambassador Singh. Though they are not referring to the Prime Minister’s visit. They say that unlike businessmen and corporates from Europe, who have rushed to Tehran following the lifting of sanctions, Indians have been slack. Yet it is also true that the formalities of lifting financial sanctions take time and even now many European banks are hesitant to get into gear. Recently US secretary of state John Kerry had to remind these banks that Iran is no longer under sanctions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Getty ImagesPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Getty Images

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Getty Images

India and Iran had in the past decade signed several MOU’s but because of the sanctions regime, there has been no progress. Despite Iran and India constantly emphasising civilisational links and traditional links, nothing much has moved on the ground. India’s Shia Muslim community, spread mainly across UP’s awadh area, has always had close links with Iran and people continue to visit the holy shrines there.

India’s political relations with Iran has also had its share of problems. Tehran will not forget that “old friend” India voted not once but twice against Iran at the IAEA when it was in the negotiating the civil nuclear deal with the US. Iran has moved on but not forgotten and remains wary of New Delhi, especially as India appears to be moving closer to the US.

But India is hoping that Narendra Modi’s visit will give a push to several long pending projects and give a push to accelerate both political and commercial ties. According to Gopal Bagley, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan in the MEA, the Prime Minister will give a “timely impetus” to the both the energy and connectivity projects.

The Prime Minister will be meeting with Iran’s Grand Ayotollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the most powerful man in the country on Monday.

Modi will also hold bilateral talks with moderate pro-reformist President Hassan Rouhani. The talks will cover bilateral relations and the situation in the region as well as global issues. Afghanistan, and the growing clout of the Taliban in that country is becoming a major worry for both India and Iran. At the time when Taliban was in power in Kabul, India, Iran and Russia together backed the Northern Alliance. Stability in Afghanistan is a major concern for both countries.

The Shia-Sunni conflict in West Asia is changing the entire dynamics of the region. This has resulted both in the Syria quagmire as well as the current war in Yemen. Shia Iran is pitted against Sunni Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and UAE. The Sunni powers had tried their best to scuttle the nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions. But for energy hungry India and China, the thrust has been on balancing relations with both countries. When Chinese President visited Iran, he also visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already visited UAE and Saudi Arabia. On his way to Washington next month, Modi will also make an official trip to Qatar. India has always managed to do the tight rope walk and will ensure that its relations with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf Co-operation Countries (GCC) will be excellent, while it will also take advantage of the opening-up of Iran.

The focus of Prime Minister’s visit will be connectivity, infrastructure and boosting bilateral trade, and giving the India-Iran relations a solid commercial edge. The development of the Chabahar port, which has been on the anvil since 2003, will finally see some forward movement. Chabahar, located at the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf way, is to be developed as a regional hub. But because of the sanctions against Iran, getting the project going was tough. During Modi’s visit, the commercial contract between Indian Ports Global privat Ltd and Arya Banader of Iran, for investments in the Chabahar Port Phase 1 will be signed.

Last year in May, minister for Shipping and Road Transport, Nitin Gadkari signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran for building two terminals and five berths in the Chabahar port. India’s investment in the first phase would be around two million dollars. During his visit to Iran Gadkari had made it clear that India was keen to invest in the Chabahar Free Trade Zone.

A trilateral agreement using Chabahar-Zahedan-Zaraj will be signed between Iran, India and Afghanistan. India’s interest in Chabahar port was because of Pakistan’s refusal to allow Indian goods transit through its territory to Afghanistan. Delhi believed that sending good by ship to the Chahabar and sending it across by rail and road from there to Afghanistan would be a way to get out of the problem. India has already spent about USD 100 million to construct a 218 km long (140-mile) road from Delaram in western Afghanistan to Zaranj in the Iran-Afghan border to link up with Chabahar port.

India is hoping to reach its goods not just to Afghanistan but to Central Asia as well through this route. This is the reason that Delhi had always been keen on investing in Chabahar. The first MOU on Chabahar was signed when the NDA government was in power. Iran is hoping that with another BJP government in Delhi, the projects would now take off. The Modi government is also showing much more initiative.

India laid the groundwork for the Modi’s visit, with an earlier trip by Gadkari, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. The Prime Minsiter will push for Indian business in the FTZ and railway projects in Iran. The initial agreement for exploration and development of Farzad B gas field was signed with a consortium of three Indian state companies as early as 2000 but is only now in the process of getting activated. During Pradhan’s trip to Iran, he offered to invest up to $20 billion in oil, petrochemicals and fertiliser projects in joint ventures with Iran if Tehran provides land and gas at concessional rates. There is likely to be a push in this direction.

SC to pronounce verdict on pleas challenging criminal defamation today

The Supreme Court will on Friday pronounce its verdict on a batch of petitions including by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy challenging the constitutional validity of Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) providing for criminal defamation.The petitioners had argued that the criminal defamation under these sections of the IPC travelled beyond constitution’s article 19(2) that imposes reasonable restriction on the freedom of speech and expression.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The verdict was reserved on August 13 last year after bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant heard the matter spread over a month.Swamy and Gandhi have been charged with criminal defamation under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC for their political speeches made in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra respectively, while Kejriwal is facing cases under the same provisions lodged by BJP’s Nitin Gadkari and others.

RSS is against westernization, not modernization, says Nitin Gadkari

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said the RSS is not against modernization, but against westernization.”There is difference between modernization and westernization. The RSS is not against modernization. It’s against westernization. Second is innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and research comes under head Knowledge. Our vision is conversion of knowledge into wealth,” he told ETV News Network head Jagdeesh Chandra in a recent interview when asked about his relation with the RSS.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are also making Car Scrapping policy. We are working on conversion of waste into wealth. Garbage can be a creation of five lakh crore economy. The waste water of Jaipur can be recycled and used to water the garden. We are working on 15 projects with Uma Bharti on Ganga River. We are working on to recycle the waste water of industries and reuse that,” he added.

Ban on diesel taxis in Delhi: Govt to approach SC after cab drivers protest

New Delhi: As protesting taxi drivers created a traffic chaos here on Monday, the government said it will request the Supreme Court to reconsider the ban on plying of diesel taxis in the national capital.

“The government has decided to request the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on ban. The ban has created an unprecedented situation of thousands of taxis getting off road and people facing severe hardships,” Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. AP

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. AP

The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting, attended by Gadkari, Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete and Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Hundreds of taxi drivers today blocked National Highway 8 and the Ring Road here to protest against the action by enforcement agencies following the court order.

The Supreme Court on Saturday refused to extend the 30 April deadline fixed for conversion of diesel cabs into less-polluting CNG mode for plying on city roads, sending off-road thousands of diesel taxis, including those run by aggregators like OLA and UBER.

According to Delhi transport department, about 60,000 taxis are registered in the national capital of which 27,000 run on diesel.

Gadkari said the government “respects” Supreme Court and is committed to the issue of environment and has already taken a slew of steps to curb pollution.

“We respect Supreme Court…We have to be sensitive towards pollution. We have been inundated with updates on people facing hardships. That is why we have decided to update the Court on all the measures we had taken in the last two years to curb the pollution,” the minister said.

Gadkari said there are reports that the ban has resulted in immediate loss of jobs to thousands of people and also serious commuting problems to working men, women and youth in the National Capital Region.

He said the government is aware that many establishments in Delhi-NCR, particularly in IT and BPO sectors have late working hours and non-availability of safe transport facilities would pose a security threat to those.

After the ban, major companies in Delhi-NCR have decided not to provide any transport facility to their employees.

It was observed in the meeting that initiatives taken by the government during the last two years to check pollution, which include decision to implement BS VI norms from 1 April, 2020 for which oil companies shall be investing over Rs 60,000 crore, need to be properly presented before the apex court.

Speaking about steps taken by the government to check pollution, Gadkari said standards for bio fuel such as ethanol, bio diesel, electric hybrid have already been notified and projects have been taken for introducing up to 20 per cent ethanol blending in petrol.

“Retro fitments of existing polluting vehicle into electric hybrid and electric vehicle have already been permitted and pilot project has successfully completed,” he said.

Gadkari said work is in full swing on eastern and western peripheral expressway (WPE) projects to decongest Delhi and 53 km of WPE between Manesar to Palwal has been opened to commuters.

“We have also finalised Delhi decongestion plan with eight arterial roads and concept note for voluntary vehicle scrapping policy is ready. E-tolling has been started on national highways and E-rickshaw policy has also helped in pollution reduction to a great extent,” he said.

On Environment Ministry front, five ministerial level meetings have already been held with NCR states and Punjab and short-term and long-term action plans for control of air pollution have been formulated.

“Stubble burning has been banned in all NCR States as well as Punjab and has reduced by 40 per cent in Punjab and 17 per cent in Haryana as compared to last year,” he said adding action has been initiated against non-compliant industries.

“Satellite monitoring of stubble burning is being carried out and online transmission of data from 772 PUC Centres in Delhi is being done for better monitoring of check on vehicular pollution in Delhi,” he said.

The minister said three non-complying units of NTPC have already been closed and a comprehensive order covering all major sources of pollution has been issued by CPCB in consultation with Ministry of E&F under Air Act.

Geete said to promote cleaner vehicles, incentives are being given to buyers of hybrid and electric vehicles.

“Measures have been initiated to introduce hybrid and electric vehicles for public transportation (buses and taxis),” he said and added the government has introduced an ambitious plans to infuse 7 million hybrid and electric vehicles on road by 2020 under National Mission on Electric Mobility.

The other measures include introducing up to 20 per cent ethanol blending in petrol.

Stressing that vehicles are not the only cause of pollution, Gadkari said, “IIT Kanpur study has also suggested that vehicular pollution is not the only cause of pollution in Delhi. In fact, study shows that vehicular pollution is contributing 9 per cent in summer and 19 per cent in winter.”

Gadkari said government will take all necessary steps to reduce the pollution in Delhi.

“We have decided to again put forward all these points to Supreme Court and request them to reconsider their decision in the background of initiatives taken by Government of India,” the Minister said.

Nitish Gadkari targets Gandhis, says ‘democratic’ BJP not property of any particular family

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the BJP is a public and democratic party, adding it is not the property of any particular family members.”All do good work. When I was the party president, I had made one thing that if anyone has to discuss anything then, he or she can put it forth at party forum. Party issue should not be talked outside. And our party is not the property of any particular family members. It’s a public and democratic party. It’s workers’ party,” he said when asked about how he saw Amit Shah as the BJP president.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The former BJP president also expressed confidence of his party’s splendid performance in the recent state assembly polls. “I have toured these states. I feel we can form government under leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal. In Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal, we were almost non-existent. But, now we will emerge as a strength in these states,” he told ETV News Network head Jagdeesh Chandra in a recent interview.”Our percentage will increase. In assembly we will get a chance to come up as an important responsible party,” he added when asked whether the BJP will be able to form the government in the five states going to polls.Responding to a poser whether he would stand by his assurance to build infrastructure, roads in Assam, whether the BJP comes to power or not in the state, Gadkari said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav had also asked the same for their state.”They asked since your government couldn’t come to power in state, will you still go by the projects worth 75 thousand crores that you had announced. Then I said them that you keep it in writing. I will fulfill whatever I had said. We believe in ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. We work irrespective of the party in power,” he added.

Take decisions as delays in road projects are not permissible: Gadkari to officials

New Delhi: In a stern warning to officials that government is in no mood to tolerate delays in highway projects, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday, asked them to shun “negative approach” and take prompt decision to avoid cost over-runs and achieve targets within set deadlines.

The statement comes barely days after the Road Transport and Highways Ministry fixing an ambitious target of laying more than 40 km of roads per day in the current fiscal, more than double the current pace.

In a clearcut message at a meeting of regional officials of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said “take decisions as delays are not permissible”, an official said.

Inaugurating a conference of regional officers of NHAI, Gadkari said there is “an utmost need for performance audit at various levels to check delays,” a statement from Highways Ministry also said.

He emphasised that a positive attitude, transparent working system and prompt decision making are essential for the Ministry to realise its objective of facilitating safe and seamless travel across the country.

“Officials should try to solve problems in a proactive and positive manner within the ambit of applicable rules and regulations, and avoid unnecessary delays,” he said.

A file photo of Nitin Gadkari. AFPA file photo of Nitin Gadkari. AFP

A file photo of Nitin Gadkari. AFP

“Negative approach only leads to delay in completion of project, and delays cause avoidable cost overruns and harassment to stakeholders,” the Minister said terming cooperation, coordination and communication as key to find solutions.

He stressed that there should be proper delegation of work in conformity with management’s best practises and effort should be on proper utilisation of resources so that both time and cost of road construction can be brought down.

On land acquisition, he said that following the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, though the cost of land had gone up it had made the process of acquiring land smoother due to adequate compensation. He also urged states to streamline the process of giving compensation.

The Minister also stressed the need to work on reducing accidents and road fatalities. The rectification work at identified black spots for accidents need to be done urgently, he said adding that he would also like to speed up the work on road side amenities on waste lands.

Minister of State for Transport Pon Radhakrishnan, who was also present in the meeting, said roads are the second biggest infrastructure after power and that the hybrid annuity model could take development further.

He also said that non-disbursement of funds and lack of updation of revenue records leads to land acquisition delays.

Secretary Highways Sanjay Mitra said his ministry would work hard to achieve the steep targets set for 2016-17.

Efforts would be made to delegate powers so that projects could be speeded up, he said and added that attention would be paid to streamlining processes.

NHAI Chairman Raghav Chandra said during 2015-16, 9,285 hectares of land had been acquired. He also proposed to provide incentives to Competent Authority for Land Acquisition (CALA) and District authorities to incentivise them to speed up the process of land acquisition.

On the occasion the Minister also released an online project monitoring system.

Assam polls: Corruption and Congress synonymous, says Nitin Gadkari

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday accused the Congress of indulging in large-scale corruption in Assam with the CAG pointing out irregularities to the tune of Rs 1,80,000 crore. “Corruption and Congress are synonymous. The CAG has pointed out irregularities to the tune of Rs 1,80,000 crore and it also asked for utilisation certificates but the state government has failed to give these over the years,” Gadkari told an election rally in Lower Assam’s Borkhetry Assembly constituency.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Centre has initiated steps for development and construction of National Highways but the state government was demanding that these be handed over to them and when I asked BJP chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal the reason, he told me that this was the source for indulging in corrupt practices for the Congress government,” he said.The UPA government at the Centre, too, had to go because of scams to the tune of thousands of crores like the 2G and coal scams, the Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping said. BJP will not “allow this at any cost. We are committed to provide a corruption-free government. We called for contracts for construction via e-tendering and no contractor had the guts to enter my office,” he said. Gadkari said Congress was not interested in improving the condition of people and ensuring development but was only interested in promoting its family members.He thanked the people of Assam for coming out to vote in such large numbers and said, “This high percentage makes it crystal clear that the BJP is forming the next government in Assam and a good, honest man Sarbananda Sonowal will become the Chief Minister to take the state on the path of development.”

Sky No Limit: Nagpur on its way to become a ‘satellite’ city

Nagpur is well on its way to become a satellite- manufacturing city. The Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport Nagpur (Mihan) on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Caneus International, a non-profit organisation, to this effect.Milind Pimprikar, chairman of Caneus, said that the company would manufacture smaller satellites with a payload of up to 50 kg, catering mainly to the export market.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Caneus is engaged in the development of micro and nano technologies for aerospace and defence applications.The MoU envisages an investment of Rs 150 crore for the satellite plant, Union minister for road transport, shipping and ports Nitin Gadkari said.Pimprikar, while speaking to dna, said that the government has given 50 acres of land and Caneus would export 80% of the manufacturing capacity from the Mihan plant. The plant cost would be $20 million, minus the land price, he said.Gadkari said that Pimprikar was planning to set up the plant in Bengaluru. Pimprikar, who was a guest speaker at the Indian Science Congress held in Mumbai University campus last year, had expressed the wish to invest in India.He said that Caneus satellites could be utilised in the fields of maritime, shipping and transport. Union ministries can also utilise them, he suggested.Pimprikar now plans to sign an agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for transfer of technology, so that the plant would be comparable to the best in the world.The MoU was signed in the presence of Nagpur guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule and Gadkari by Pimprikar and Mihan managing director Vishwas Patil.

Tolerance is in the blood of Hindus, says Nitin Gadkari

Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday claimed that tolerance is in the blood of Hindus, who “have never tried to crush other religions”.”Some people are trying to create misunderstanding about Hindu religion…Tolerance and cooperation with different sections of the society is in our blood…We have never tried to crush other religions,” Gadkari said at a religious function at Vatsalya Gram Center in Vridavan.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Fundamentalists and terrorists are trying to eliminate our basic culture…which says live and let others live,” the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways said.

Future of BJP in Uttar Pradesh very good, says Nitin Gadkari

The future of BJP in Uttar Pradesh is very good, Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said asking people not to worry about it.”You don’t worry. Our future is very good,” he said responding to a question about the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. Gadkari, a former president of BJP, was on a two-day visit here during which he met party workers and took stock of the political situation in the state ahead of the polls. BJP had bagged 73 of 80 Lok Sabha seats along with its ally Apna Dal in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, after that it put up dismal shows in panchayat elections and some civic body polls. Gadkari also elicited views of senior party leaders on the issue of next UP BJP chief and whether to project someone as the party’s chief ministerial candidate.

Bihar govt concentrating on development agenda: Dy CM Tejaswi Yadav

Bihar government has been concentrating on the development agenda, despite the negative campaign launched by the BJP, said Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Prasad Yadav on Wednesday.Yadav, who was in the steel city, said the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance government in Bihar was marching on the path of development under “Bihar Vikas Mission to ensure all round development in the next five years.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We will involve professionals, experts, retired IAS and IPS officers and others to achieve the target,” he said.Refuting allegations of ‘Jungle Raj’ prevailing in Bihar, Yadav, said they were “baseless and are negative campaign by the BJP and its allies.””There were some incidents in the state due to personal or family reasons, but we have arrested the accused,” he said.”But, what is happening in Jharkhand? A rape victim is being raped in the hospital in Jamshedpur and murders are taking place in front of police stations in the state capital,” he alleged.”The Jharkhand government has failed to carry out infrastructure development, which had plenty of opportunities for growth. Road connectivity also needs to be developed,” Yadav, who reached here from Ranchi, said.Referring to the package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run up for the state Assembly elections, he said it was mere repackaging.”I had recently met Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and appealed him to implement the promises Modiji had made during his campaign,” the RJD leader said.Attacking the Jharkhand government for failing to deliver, Yadav said the people of Jharkhand have responded to the state government in the Lohardaga by-elections and the opposition parties would put up a united face like Bihar in Godda, where by-election was to due in the next few months.”We have lost the last Assembly elections in Jharkhand because we were not united,” he admitted.”If a grand alliance can be experimented successfully in Bihar, than why not in Jharkhand?” Yadav said claiming Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad were making efforts to bring all secular forces under one roof and oust the BJP.

Jaitley, Gadkari meeting bankers Thursday to sort out stalled highway projects

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Road Minister Nitin Gadkari will meet tomorrow road developers bankers to sort out key issues to put back on track 20 stalled highway projects of worth Rs 20,000 crore.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. ReutersFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

The meeting assumes significance as the government after a series of meetings with bankers and developers had resolved issues pertaining to 58 projects but 20 projects worth over Rs 20,000 crore are still stuck.

Running out of patience for stalemate over these 20 projects, the government has warned non-serious developers and bankers of terminating these contracts.

According to the sources, there are 19 projects with a total cost of Rs 16,100 crore that have been stalled for various reasons. With the projects missing deadlines, cost has escalated to about Rs 21,000 crore.

The stuck projects belong to players like Larsen & Toubro, HCC, Gammon, Madhucon, Soma and Essel Ifra, among others, while the list of lenders includes top names like State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Bank of India.

A top official last month had said that the government was “reaching a stage of impatience” over the stalled projects.

“The concessionaires and bankers are not realising that we are reaching a stage of impatience, and people who are users of these roads are not going to be waiting any more,” the then Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber had said.

“If developers and bankers fail to mend their ways and initiate correctives to roll out projects by January-end, the government will start terminating contracts in PPP mode and repackage them,” he had said before his retirement.

The government recently “offered a full package”, which among other steps extends the concession period of projects where delays are not attributable to developers.


Malda violence: Gadkari attacks Mamata govt, accuses TMC of ‘sheltering criminals’

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday lashed out at the Mamata Banerjee government over the Malda attack, accusing it of not taking action against the perpetrators and “sheltering criminals”.He also called for ousting the TMC dispensation in the coming assembly polls and replacing it with a BJP government for all-round development of the state. “We want answers from you Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. When you had taken the oath as the Chief Minister, you had sworn to protect the poor civilians. But you are not protecting the poor civilians. You are protecting the criminals, who are looting and burning police stations, creating violence,” Gadkari said addressing a rally in Buniadpur in South Dinajpur district.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Why no action has being taken against those who had burnt a police station? Who are criminals? who are infiltrators?” he demanded and accused the state’s TMC government of engaging in “vote bank politics”. “The government is pursuing appeasement politics with an eye on assembly polls,” Gadkari alleged. The Union Minister also said if BJP is voted to power in the state, the party’s government would take strong action against the “culprits and infiltrators”.”Don’t worry, the Narendra Modi government is with you. And we are not a government which will bow before the criminals. We are a party which will take strong action against criminals,” he said. BJP national general secretary in-charge of West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya urged the Centre to take action against the culprits involved in the January 3 Malda violence.Protesting against alleged statements of a Hindutva activist, angry crowds had burnt Kaliachak police station in Malda district and set several vehicles on fire. A team of BJP MPs was last week denied permission to visit violence-hit Kaliachak, drawing a sharp attack from the party. A BJP delegation had also met President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue.

After Malda denial, will hold Nitin Gadkari’s rally in Dinajpur: BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday said that Union Minister Nitin Gadkari would be holding a rally in Dinajpur District after permission for holding a rally in violence-hit Malda was denied by the local administration.”We have decided that we would organise a rally in Dinajpur, seventy kilometers away from Malda, we have got permission for that rally. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari would be addressing that rally,” BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told reporters here. “BJP president Amit Shah will address a rally in Howrah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh would be addressing a rally in Barasaat and Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani would be addressing a rally in Asansol,” he added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP had earlier attacked the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) for not giving permission to a rally of Union Minister Gadkari in violence-hit Malda. The police, however, said that they have not denied permission for holding the rally, rather they had asked for a land use certificate for holding the rally. Violence broke out in Kaliachak area of Malda on December 3 last year over an alleged remark of a right wing leader.Several vehicles were torched and public properties were destroyed.A three-member BJP delegation had met Home Minister Singh and sought a high-level probe into violence in West Bengal’s Malda. Their meeting with Singh came a day after a ‘fact-finding’ team of the party was not allowed by the state administration to visit violence-hit Kaliachak town, which falls in Malda district.A team of BJP lawmakers on Monday was denied permission to visit violence-hit Kaliachak in Malda district, drawing a sharp attack from the party which accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of playing “vote bank” politics and said it will take the matter to the President. Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, accused the BJP of trying to communalise the issue ahead of the ensuing assembly poll in the state.

Nitin Gadkari says no to casinos; wants Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravishankar to enter tourism

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday cleared that casinos are not welcome in the country while he pitched that organisations doing “good work” like Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali group and Sri Sri Ravishankar’s ‘Art ofLiving’ should create facilities at the over 1,300 islands, which are to be opened up for tourism across the country.”We oppose things like casinos, and I will not give permissions for that. People will also not tolerate such things,” Gadkari said at an industry event here.Stating that “Art of Living (of Sri Sri Ravishankar) and Ramdev Baba (of Patanjali group) are doing good work,” Gadkari asked them to start ayurvedic spas to give massages and ayurvedic treatment at these islands being opened up.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union shipping minister said apart from ayurveda and traditional wellness activities, “entertainment facilities are also welcome on the islands but definitely not casinos”.The functioning of the casinos has been a contentious issue in the country and only the BJP-ruled Goa, the UT of Daman and Sikkim have functional places of gambling.As per the Constitution, gambling and allowing casinos are a state subject.Referring to a conference held earlier to leverage on the tourism potential offered by the islands and lighthouses, Gadkari said the government has decided to open up 1,300 islands and 280 lighthouses.He said there is a good demand for activities like yoga and traditional Indian wellness programmes from foreigners and apart from the foreign exchange (forex) it will also help in generating employment.

Congress demands Nitin Gadkari’s immediate sacking after allegations of corruption

Congress on Monday demanded the immediate sacking of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari alleging that the awarding of the Rs 10,050 crore Zozila pass tunnel contract to IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd was a “clear case of corruption at the highest level”.Party General Secretary Digvijay Singh told reporters at party headquarters that Gadkari, heading the Road Transport and Highways Ministry, has allegedly violated the CVC guidelines while awarding the contract.However, Gadkari rubbished the charges of corruption and said Singh’s allegations were “completely false” as the Ministry followed a transparent e-tender system. He also denied that his son was a director in IRB Infrastructure Developers.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh claimed that what was strange and unheard of is that the IRB was the sole bidder for the massive project in Jammu and Kashmir. He said government should have gone in for the Swiss challenge method.Swiss challenge is a form of public procurement which requires a public authority which has received an unsolicited bid for a public project (such as a port, road or railway) or services to be provided to government, to publish the bid and invite third parties to match or exceed it.Singh alleged that Gadkari had business dealings with Dattatreya Mhaiskar, head of IRB, which had shares in the controversial Purti group floated by the Minister. He claimed Gadkari’s son Nikhil was director for some years in a subsidiary of IRB.

A life is lost in every four minutes in road accidents:Rajnath Singh

A life is lost in every four minutes in road accidents in the country, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said as he favoured setting up of a national road safety authority.Participating in the ‘Road Safety Week’, organised by Ministry of Road Transport here, the Home Minister asked all stakeholders to play effective role in ensuring safety on roads as one life is lost every four minutes in road accidents. “It is shocking that five lakh road accidents occur every year in India and nearly 1.4 lakh people lose their lives in these accidents. It is our goal to reduce the number of accidents in India,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said India is among those countries that suffer a very high number of road accidents every year and even wars do not witness such a high number of casualties the nation is suffering due to this menace.”In a year, 5 lakh accidents take place in the country, of which 1.5 lakh people die and another 3 lakh are crippled for life. So many people do not even die in wars. This is a serious concern,” he said. Gadkari said that India can learn in this regard from Sweden that witnessed just one accident last year.

Pathankot terror attack: One of the 2 holed up terrorists killed, Lt Col among seven martyred

Former Western Air Command Chief Air Marshal P S Ahulwalia said casualties could have been kept at minimum through “effective coordination” adding the time taken to neutralise the attackers is way “too long”. PTI AB SAP


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PM Modi chairs high-level meeting on Pathankot terror attack

The security forces have already killed four terrorists and two more are believed to be still holed-up inside the base, and an operation is underway to flush them out. Fresh exchange of fire was reported at the attack site between the security forces and terrorists holed-up inside the air force base. A joint combing operation by the armed forces, police and security personnel was still underway and the NIA has taken over the probe into the terror attack.


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Didn’t bother about vote bank for odd-even scheme: Arvind Kejriwal

The Chief Minister said, “The plan’s success has strengthened our confidence that if public is taken along even difficult tasks can be handled and public support is bigger than even the Lieutenant Governor and the Centre.” Kejriwal said that his government’s plan was to ensure that the odd-even scheme does not get reduced to a mere slogan.

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All religions teach us truth and non-violence: Mohan Bhagwat

“To become fearless one does not only need physical strength, but the strength of humility. The real strength of India is its culture. All religions in our country teach us to adopt truth and non-violence,” he said. The RSS chief said that to make the nation “truly great”, the youth of India should be developed accordingly. “India can show the way forward to the world. We have to develop the youth of the nation to make India truly great. Youth need to be taught lessons in ethics. For this, the teachings of our great saints should first be inculcated in one’s own life, then in one’s homes before being spread outside,” Bhagwat said.

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Jaish-e-Mohammed militants suspected to be planning attacks in Delhi: police

Delhi Police received specific intelligence input about the presence of militants. Police Commissioner BS Bassi today held a meeting with its top brass and the department sought help of central paramilitary forces in providing security, especially around vital installations in the city, said a senior police official. “We have inputs regarding two Jaish-e-Mohammed key members who have sneaked into Delhi and are suspected to be planning high profile attacks or hostage crisis. “We have also got a few additional companies of paramilitary forces to increase security following the alert,” said the official. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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BJP will contest Uttar Pradesh polls alone, says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

The BJP could only win four of the 28 seats in Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s Lucknow constituency, while it lost 49 out of the 56 seats in Union Minister Kalraj Mishra’s Deora constituency.

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Ola Cabs sacks driver who raped woman passenger in Bhopal, issues statement

An Ola cab driver allegedly raped a 28-year-old woman passenger in Bhopal when she took the taxi service to return home after work on December 29.The cabbie reportedly took the woman to a deserted location between Bairagarh and Gandhi Nagar and raped her. He also threatened to kill her if she told anyone about it. The accused, who was working with Ola for past few months, has been arrested. It is being said that he was known to the victim.

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