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Jharkhand mine collapse: Death toll rises to 13 in Lalmatia coal mine mishap

Ranchi: The number of dead in Thursday’s Jharkhand coal mine cave-in has reached thirteen with the recovery of two more bodies on Saturday, police said.

People gather near the coal mine in Godda, Jharkhand, where several workers are trapped, after it collapsed on Thursday evening. PTI

“Two more bodies have been recovered on Saturday. The rescue operation is going on. There are chances of some more people still trapped in the debris,” said a police spokesperson to IANS. The tragedy occurred at the Rajmahal Opencast Project of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) around 7.30 p.m. on Thursday.

The relatives of those killed took the visiting ECL officials hostage on Saturday morning at the accident site. Police, however, managed to rescue them after three hours. Rescue operations were being carried out by the National Disaster Response Force with assistance from the ECL, Bharat Cooking Coal Limited (BCCL), the state government and experts.

In a statement, the Coal Ministry said that senior officials from the Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) were at the site and have started an enquiry into the incident. The Coal Ministry has termed the incident “unprecedented”.

An area of 300 metres length by 110 metres width solid floor of the overburden dump area slid down by about 35 metres involving around 9.5 million cubic metres of earth material.

“This could be due to failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip,” it said.

Besides the probe by the Director General of Mines Safety, a “high-level committee of experts” was constituted by Coal India Limited (CIL) to investigate the causes of the accident.

The Raghubar Das government has also announced a compensation of Rs two lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 25,000 for the injured.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 14:29 IST

11 miners dead in Lalmatia colliery mishap in Jharkhand, rescue operations to resume Sat morning

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ten miners were killed and an unspecified number feared trapped when a massive mound of earth came crashing down on them at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) Thursday night, the worst such disaster in over a decade.Heavy machinery was deployed as rescuers, including those from the NDRF, toiled through the day extricating bodies and looking for survivors. “Unfortunately the casualties have increased from seven in the morning to 10,” the coal ministry said in a statement.”Rescue teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL)/Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), state government and experts have been continuously carrying out rescue work at the accident site of ECL’s Rajmahal Open Cast Expansion Project in district Godda, Jharkhand,” the statement said.Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL, the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd., has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 meters, the statement said.R R Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary, said that the incident occurred at around 7:30 pm last night when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately.Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.All 10 excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and other leaders have expressed grief over the loss of lives.”Saddened by the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand. My prayers are with those trapped inside. Spoke to CM Raghubar Das on the situation,” Modi said on twitter.Das said an assistance of Rs two lakh will be given to the families of the miners who died in the accident, while ECL also announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs five lakh each to these families, in addition to the amount to be paid under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.14 miners were killed at Central Saunda coal mine in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand in August 2005. The country’s worst mining disaster had occurred at Chasnala in Dhanbad district in the then Bihar state in 1975 in which 375 lives were lost.

Jharkhand mine collapse: Seven workers dead, several feared trapped in Lalmatia colliery

Seven workers have died and several more are feared trapped in a coal mine that collapsed late evening on Thursday in the Lal Matia colliery of Godda district in Jharkhand, reports said.

While initial reports put the number of trapped at around 10, a CISF official told ANI that around 40-50 workers are suspected to be trapped inside the debris along with 40 vehicles of a private company operating at the site.

IANS said that a heap of mud caved-in at the entry point of the colliery. Rescue operation could not begin due to night fog, the police said.

The incident, a government of India release said, took place at 7.30 pm on Thursday and that a control room has been set up at project office of Rajmahal Open Cast Expansion Project.

However, the exact number of people and vehicle trapped inside is not known. “This could only become clear after the rescue operation starts,” said Harilal Chauhan, Godda Superintendent of Police, earlier.

The locals said that there was a crack in the heap of mud which collapsed and blocked the entry point of the mine.

Mining operations were taking place about 200 feet beneath the ground. Though the cause of the accident is not known, the Ministry of Coal said that “prima facie…it could have been caused by a failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip”.

Police said that rescue operation is underway and that an NDRF team from Patna is already on its way to the site of the accident. It is expected to reach by noon, IANS said.

Meanwhile, according to The Indian Express, Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das directed the DGP and chief secretary to initiate relief and rescue operations at the earliest. “As of now, there are different versions of how many machines, vehicles and people are trapped. Relief and rescue operations are being initiated,” a police official told the newspaper.

Prime Minister Naredra Modi reportedly spoke with Das who announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs to the dead and Rs 25,000 to those injured in the accident. Das also tweeted saying:

Meanwhile, Ministry of Coal said that an Inquiry has been ordered in the incident by the director general of mines safety and CIL has constituted a high-level committee of experts to investigate into the causes of the accident. THE ECL also announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakhs each to the family of the deceased.

Some of the injured are being treated in a nearby hospital, ANI tweeted.

Mine roof collapses in Dhanbad

In another incident, four workers suffered injuries, two of them seriously, when the roof of a mine partially collapsed at Putki Balihari area in Dhanbad district on Friday, PTI reported. The mine falls under Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited.

A senior district official said the four contractual workers were taking cable to a shaft of the hydro mines in lift when a part of the roof suddenly caved in trapping them.

The four were rescued and taken to a hospital where the condition of two of them was stated to be serious, the official said.

While the cause of the collapse in the Dhanbad mine is being looked into, more details are awaited of the mine collapse in Godda district.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 13:28 IST

Jharkhand mine collapse: Several workers feared trapped in Lal Matia colliery

Several workers are feared trapped in a coal mine that collapsed late evening on Thursday in the Lal Matia colliery of Godda district in Jharkhand, reports said.

While initial reports put the number of trapped to be around 10, a CISF official told ANI that around 40-50 workers are suspected to be trapped inside the debris along with some machinery of a private company operating in the coal mine.

The coal mine is owned by Eastern Coalfields, a subsidiary of the government-owned Coal India Limited.

ANI tweeted that rescue operation is underway and that an NDRF team from Patna is already on its way to the site of the accident.

According to The Indian Express, Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das directed the DGP and chief secretary to initiate relief and rescue operations at the earliest. “As of now, there are different versions of how many machines, vehicles and people are trapped. Relief and rescue operations are being initiated,” a police official told the newspaper.

Some of the injured are being treated in a nearby hospital, ANI said.

Mine roof collapses in Dhanbad

In another incident, four workers suffered injuries, two of them seriously, when the roof of a mine partially collapsed at Putki Balihari area in Dhanbad district on Friday, PTI reported. The mine falls under Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited.

A senior district official said the four contractual workers were taking cable to a shaft of the hydro mines in lift when a part of the roof suddenly caved in trapping them.

The four were rescued and taken to a hospital where the condition of two of them was stated to be serious, the official said.

While the cause of the collapse in the Dhanbad mine is being looked into, more details are awaited of the mine collapse in Godda district.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 08:53 IST

Red Corridor operations: CISF to get additional manpower for countering Maoist threat

April 2009: Eleven Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel were killed battling more than 200 armed Maoists while protecting Asia’s largest bauxite mine Nalco in Damanjodi, Odisha.

May 2012: Six CISF jawans were killed in a Maoist ambush, while on duty at the country’s largest NMDC iron ore mines at Kirandul in Bailadila, Chhattisgarh.

Between 2009 and 2012: Twenty CISF were personnel killed in 21 attacks in Naxal-infested zones in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

The figures reflect gravity of the threat that the CISF personnel face while guarding the government’s economic installations in the Red Corridor spread across Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the control of which is vital for the economy of the region.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

A recent order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that has increased the ceiling of CISF manpower to 1.8 lakh from the current 1.45 lakh is a shot in the arm for this industrial security force in their war against red terror. Besides, an increase in manpower, the two additional battalions — one of which is likely to be posted in the Maoist hotbed Bastar in Chhattisgarh, has been sanctioned.

Of the 49 CISF units across the country, 11 are in these hyper-sensitive Maoist zones, known as SRE (Security Related Expenditure) districts. While there are two units in Bastar, the CISF has an inspector-general (IG) rank official posted in Jharkhand, who oversees 19 units spread across Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha.

Following the Centre’s stand towards zero-tolerance against terrorism, the CISF has given a major thrust on countering Maoist attacks on economic activities. As a result, a chunk of the additional 35,000 CISF personnel will be deployed in Naxal areas.

The Naxal threat looming over the economic installations like mines, steel and power plants, gas pipelines, rail tracks, etc in the Red Corridor and on the CISF can be judged from the fact that the newly appointed director general, CISF, OP Singh immediately after assuming his office in September this year, made his first visit to Kirandul to take stock of the situation.

The Red Corridor is a region that experiences considerable Left Wing Extremists (LWE) or Maoist insurgency and is spread across 10 states. Over the years, the number of districts coming under the Red Corridor has increased.

Though securing airports and Metro rail stations are part of the CISF agenda, safeguarding the production units in Maoist-infested zones is of paramount importance for the force.

“This increase in manpower will help the CISF to strengthen its operations in Red Corridor, as we’re guarding the economic sector in this zone. Our men have risen to the occasion by not only providing security to installations against LWE but also in managing a big public domain — thousands of staff members working in the industrial sector, by proving safety and security to them,” Singh told Firstpost.

The CISF will strengthen its existing anti-terror operations, give specialised training to its jawans, track landmines and monitor mechanism. “Protecting all the industrial centres in the Red Corridor is one of the top priorities of the CISF. Chhattisgarh is one of the most important Naxal-infested states. It’s very difficult and challenging to monitor due to its large terrain and forest areas. Jharkhand is another state, where the CISF is protecting the uranium mines in Jadugoda and the coal mines of Central Coalfields Ltd,” he added.

Following frequent Maoist attacks on government and non-government establishments in the recent past, the importance of the CISF has become inevitable.

According to an MHA source, the central government has been monitoring the incidents of terror attacks and reviewing the threats to economic installations in the Red Corridor for over a long period. “Considering these factors, the Centre envisaged handing over the security arrangements of sensitive and major establishments to the CISF. Based on the request from the CISF, now the manpower ceiling has been increased and it’ll be a big boost to the force,” the source added.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 20:01 IST

Rajiv Jain to be new IB chief, Anil Dhasmana to head RAW

New Delhi: Jharkhand cadre IPS officer Rajiv Jain was on Saturday appointed as the new chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB) while Anil Dhasmana will head external intelligence agency RAW.

Both the officers will have a tenure of two years.

Intelligence Bureau logo. IBNLiveIntelligence Bureau logo. IBNLive

Intelligence Bureau logo. IBNLive

Jain, who is at present serving as the Special Director in the IB, will take over on 1 January after the incumbent Dineshwar Sharma completes his two-year tenure on 31 December.

A recipient of President’s Police Medal, the 1980-batch officer has served in various departments of the IB including the sensitive Kashmir desk.

He was advisor to the previous NDA government’s interlocutor on Kashmir KC Pant when talks were held with
separatist leaders like Shabbir Shah.

In another appointment, Anil Dhasmana will take over the reins of the Research and Analysis Wing, an organisation which looks after the external intelligence of the country.

He succeeds Rajinder Khanna who completes his tenure this year end.

Dhasmana, a 1981-batch officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, has been with RAW for the last 23 years during which he has served on important desks including Pakistan.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 22:35 IST

Army withdrawn from Bengal toll plazas as 72-hour exercise comes to end

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the 72-hour routine lead carrier information exercise of the army came to an end, it has withdrawn from the Palhit toll plaza and other areas.CPRO defence SS Birdi said, “As 72-hour exercise got over, we withdrew deployment from Palhit toll plaza and other areas yesterday night.”When the army deployed its team at two plazas in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the deployment was made without any prior information to state government. She also termed the day as ‘black day’, pointing out that such a deployment takes place only normally during disasters.The army, however, clarified on the issue by releasing a series of letter stating that it was very well in contact with the Kolkata Police and that it was nothing but a routine exercise which takes place every 3-4 years.”This is an exercise carried out for operational purposes, which will terminate to its logical and tonight. They are only collecting data of heavy vehicles, which is an annual exercise being carried out every year. Similar exercises are also being carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar from September 26 to October 1 this year,” said Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), (Headquarters), Bengal Area, Major General Sunil Yadav.Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress MLAs staged protest outside Raj Bhavan in Bengal, demanding withdrawal of the army deployed at toll plazas.BJP lashed out at Mamata Banerjee for dragging in the army into politics and sought an apology from her and her party. BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said, ?It?s very unfortunate, the kind of politics Mamata Banerjee has been doing after demonetization. BJP is of the opinion that the issue of army deployment in Bengal has been politicised.”

Make in Odisha receives Rs 2 lakh crore investment intent

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government today said it has received investment intent of Rs 2,03,270 crore in ten diversified sectors during ‘Make in Odisha Conclave’, which has the potential to generate more than 1.38 lakh additional jobs in the state.

File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTIFile photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI

File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI

“We are delighted with the response for this first ever conclave that we have organised. I hope to have continued support of industry for the overall socio-economic development of our citizens and position Odisha as the manufacturing hub of the East.

“The state government has decided to organise this conclave biannually as a stepping stone towards realising our Vision 2025 for the industrial development of the state,” Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.

The state has received investment intent worth Rs 2,03,270 crore in sectors including fertiliser, petro chemicals, food processing, health, infrastructure, IT and ESDM,, metal and minerals, manufacturing, textiles and tourism, during the event that concluded today.

The major investors in the state are NTPC, MCL, SAIL, Tata Steel, Adani, JSPL, PPL and IOCL.

“Odisha should look to becoming a manufacturing hub by producing value added products instead of supplying raw materials and it (will) generate employment,” Union Minister of state for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal said.

“When I took over as a minister, one of the first instructions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to look east. The focus of development has to be on eastern states
including Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, North East and Bihar.

“It is the considered view of the government that unless the eastern part of the country progress we cannot visualise a better India. It is very important that eastern states take rapid steps to make up for lost space in development,” Goyal added.

He further said that by 2018, every village in Odisha will have electricity.

“By May 2018, every village in Odisha will be connected with electricity. I am happy to say that things are in progress,” the minister said, adding that state will use coal cess to expand renewable energy.

“We will help Odisha to come in the map of major states to have renewable energy,” Goyal said.

Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said Eastern India, including Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal will be connected with natural gas pipeline.

The Centre is also planning an investment of Rs 13,000 crore in Odisha, he added.

Meanwhile, Odisha is expecting an overall investment of over Rs 30,000 crore in the urban development sector in next 5-7 years.

The state is planning to develop 86 projects, with a total investment of Rs 77,108 crore, over the next five years under the national smart city challenge for Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, G Mathi Vathanan, Commissioner-cum-Secretary said.

The Bhubaneswar Plan has 50 projects worth Rs 4,537 crore, of which Rs 2,725 crore are likely to be invested through PPP mode, while Rourkela Plan has 30 projects worth Rs 2,571 crore of which Rs 334 crore is expected to be invested through the PPP mode.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:24 IST

Ranchi: Elephant terror forces residents to flee homes, take shelter on trees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Afraid of an attack by a herd of elephants, residents of Loharatola village, nearly 40 km from Jharkhand capital Ranchi, have taken shelter in trees.A herd of wild elephants has spread panic among village residents, damaging their homes and food items and forcing them to flee.Natwar Lohar, a local villager, said they were forced to live on trees as the elephants had damaged their homes and food items.”We sleep on the tree to protect ourselves from the elephants. We take children also along with us and all the women sleep together at one place. It is very difficult to manage in the afternoon and night. We stand guard together in the night,” said Lohar.He added that there has been no help from the government or forest officials so far, and they had to fend for themselves.According to local media reports, the highway too remains almost deserted owing to the fear of wandering elephants.More than 1,000 people have been killed by elephants in Jharkhand since the state was carved out of Bihar in November 2000.

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

By Devanik Saha

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

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

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 states/UTs report decline in medically certified deaths

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

Source: Medical Certification of Cause of Death Report 2014.

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

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

Circulatory system disease deaths top killer, cancer deaths rising

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

Source: Medical Certification of Cause of Death Report 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jharkhand: CoBRA commandos kill 6 Naxals, recover 600 bullets, ammunition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six Naxals were killed on Wednesday and over 600 bullets and a dozen IEDs recovered after a gunbattle with CRPF commandos in the jungles of Jharkhand’s Maoist hotbed of Latehar district. Officials said the encounter began at about 7:00 amin the Karamdih-Chhipadohar jungles on the banks of north Koel river of the said district where a squad of CoBRA commandos of the CRPF was out for operations. “We have recovered six male bodies of Naxals in uniform, 600 bullets of various calibre, about 12 Improvised Explosive Devices, an INSAS rifle, an SLR, a carbine and three other firearms. Search operations are still on,” CRPF Inspector General (Operations) in Jharkhand Sanjay A Lathkar said.The IG added some more explosives and cordex wires, used to trigger IEDs, has also been recovered from the spot, over 130 km from here.Officials said the team of 209th battalion of the CoBRA along with other units was out for operation since last two days and the encounter started when the squad received fire from the Maoists side. The gunbattle continued for sometime after which the bodies of the Naxals, wearing black uniforms, were recovered, the IG said.The Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) is an elite jungle warfare unit of the Central Reserve Police Force deployed extensively for anti-Naxal operations in Jharkhand and other states.

Clean Ganga | How can you regulate tanneries, if you can’t enter there, says NGT

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> has questioned the Uttar Pradesh government and its pollution control board over regulation of tanneries on the banks of river Ganga in Kanpur, asking how could they regulate them if their officials “can’t even enter their premises”.The NGT said industrial effluents, which contain high chromium, emanating from tannery clusters were polluting Ganga and even UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) was not aware of the actual number of tanneries till now.”You (UP and pollution control board) say that operation of tanneries should be regulated. But tell us one thing, how can you regulate them if your men cannot even enter their premises,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.The observation came after UPPCB informed the bench that there were 400 tanneries in Kanpur which released effluents into the Jajmau drain and there was an urgent need to monitor their functioning to clean Ganga.The tribunal noted that all tanneries in Jajmau were not equipped with chromium recovery plants and immediate effort should be made to trap pollutants coming out of them.The tribunal had earlier asked the tanneries at Kanpur to clear their stand on shifting to some other place to stop uncontrolled discharge of effluents into the river. On November 15, the tribunal had stopped the government from spending “a single penny” for Ganga rejuvenation work between Haridwar and Unnao, saying a whopping Rs 20,000 crore was being spent on the entire national project by officials who did not even know about the river. The matter was listed for next hearing on November 21.The green panel has divided the work of cleaning the river in different segments — Gomukh to Haridwar (Phase-I), Haridwar to Unnao (termed as segment B of Phase-I), Unnao to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.

Babus to visit states to assess demonetization drive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior bureaucrats working in central departments have been asked to visit states for on-the-spot assessment of demonetization drive and to provide their feedback.A total of 32 teams of nearly 70 senior officers–of the level of Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary– and those working as Director or Deputy Secretary have been formed by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).”The officers have been deputed to undertake field visits in various states for making on-the-spot assessment of the situation and to provide feedback thereon,” an order said. The officers have been drawn from various central government departments.Teams of three officers each would visit Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, it said. Two-member teams would visit Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Goa and Assam. Whereas, teams of one official each would visit Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Sikkim. “Department of Economic Affairs will decide the dates/ duration of the field visits as well as the terms of the reference for the same,” the DoPT said.The Centre had on November 8 demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in order to check black money, corruption, money laundering, terror financing as well as counterfeiting of currency notes.Large number of people are queuing up at banks since then to exchange old notes and withdrawing money as ATMs are also being calibrated by the government to dispense newly-introduced Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denomination notes.

Conservationists cry foul over India’s landmark forest rights law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Almost four times as many individual as community claims have been lodged under a landmark Indian law to protect the rights of forest dwellers and tribal communities, sparking criticism it is being exploited for financial gain and leading to deforestation.The Forest Rights Act (FRA) gives indigenous people and forest dwellers rights to manage and govern their traditional forests and resources. The law recognises individual and community rights of those who have lived there since before 2005.More than four million individual claims and about 1.1 million community claims were filed as of August 31, according to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. About 1.7 million individual and 47,443 community claims have been distributed, it said. The high number of individual claims is cited by some conservationists as a reason to oppose the law, amid an ongoing clash between activists and environmentalists over its impact.They say states are under pressure to accept even bogus claims and that individual claims must not be allowed as many are motivated by financial gain. “People are predictably keen to claim individual rights as this enables them to encash real estate and other financial opportunities,” leading conservationist Bittu Sahgal wrote in a blog this week. “No rights can be championed, nor wildlife saved, if the forests at the centre of the tussle vanish,” he said, adding that deforestation and denting of wildlife numbers was evident in states including Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.SLOW IMPLEMENTATIONUnder the law, at least 150 million people could have their rights recognised to at least 40 million hectares (154,400 sq miles) of forest land, the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) has estimated. But few states have implemented the FRA fully and more than half of all claims for titles have been rejected, data shows. States have held back from implementing the law because they view it as an obstacle to development projects, with consensus required from village councils for any project that requires forest land to be cleared.Conservationists who are in favour of the law say it must be implemented in full, and that disregarding it or undermining it “will greatly damage environmental protection”. In a recent letter to the environment minister, more than 40 conservationists and environmentalists said the FRA empowers forest communities to be a part of the decision-making process, and “therefore encourages a bottom-up approach to natural resource governance”. But, they said, evictions and harassment of rights holders had led to a situation of “continuous conflict” in forest areas. They said settling individual rights was not leading to deforestation as these rights largely correspond to historically settled or cultivated land that does not contain forest cover.Last month, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs said it was concerned about the large number of claims that are rejected and asked all states to speed up the clearance of claims. “Communities are pivotal in the reversal of destruction and degradation of India’s forests,” Kundan Kumar, RRI’s Asia director said. “The government should pay heed to the combined wisdom of India’s conservationists,” he said.

Our Muslims must raise issues of violations on Hindus in Pakistan, Bangla: Ghulam Nabi Azad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Muslims in India should speak out against any act of violence on Hindus committed by members of the majority population in Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.He was a addressing a gathering here at a seminar on — Role of Muslim Youth in Strengthening Democracy — organised by National Tricolour Association of India, a non-profit organisation.”There have been cases of violence against Muslims, from (Mohammad) Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri to two boys in Jharkhand who were hung from a tree. And, there has never been a lack of expression of secularism from Hindus in our country. You see on television, how they (Hindus) strip RSS and BJP bare, whenever such incidents happen. But, why we (Muslims) don’t raise issues when there are violations against Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” he asked.In his address, Azad also hit out at the Centre saying, “democracy has ceased to exist” in the country ever since the NDA government came to power.He added that if the Muslims in India start speaking out against acts of such violence in the neighbouring countries then, “BJP’s anti-Muslim edge will be blunted.” Two other scholars, who also spoke at the seminar held at the India Islamic Centre, underlined the “silence” of the country’s Muslim community in hours of violence in “India’s neighbourhood”.We hear cases of violence meted out to our Hindu brothers in Bangladesh, or of Hindu temples being razed or desecrated.But, do we (Muslims) speak out on such brazen acts of violations. We must speak out against injustice, just as we expect our majority Hindu brothers to stand by us in India, they said.Azad also hit out at the government over the demonetization issue saying, “the move has driven Indians crazy in the name of black money”.He also took a dig at the media and Prime Minister Modi, saying, “now it’s all Modi in newspapers and on TV channels, the Opposition cannot be seen.””The time of free and impartial media is no more. Now, you open, newspapers, and you see 10-20 pictures of Modi,” he alleged.

Muslims in India must raise issues of violations on Hindus in Pakistan: Ghulam Nabi Azad

New Delhi: Muslims in India should speak out against any act of violence on Hindus committed by members of the majority population in Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Tuesday.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. AFP

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. AFP

He was a addressing a gathering in New Delhi at a seminar on — Role of Muslim Youth in Strengthening Democracy — organised by National Tricolour Association of India, a non-profit organisation.

“There have been cases of violence against Muslims, from (Mohammad) Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri to two boys in Jharkhand who were hung from a tree.”

“And, there has never been a lack of expression of secularism from Hindus in our country. You see on television, how they (Hindus) strip RSS and BJP bare, whenever such incidents happen. But, why we (Muslims) don’t raise issues when there are violations against Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” he asked.

In his address, Azad also hit out at the Centre saying, “democracy has ceased to exist” in the country ever since the NDA government came to power.

He added that if the Muslims in India start speaking out against acts of such violence in the neighbouring countries then, “BJP’s anti-Muslim edge will be blunted.”

Two other scholars, who also spoke at the seminar held at the India Islamic Centre, underlined the “silence” of the country’s Muslim community in hours of violence in “India’s neighbourhood”.

“We hear cases of violence meted out to our Hindu brothers in Bangladesh, or of Hindu temples being razed or desecrated. But, do we (Muslims) speak out on such brazen acts of violations? We must speak out against injustice, just as we expect our majority Hindu brothers to stand by us in India,” they said.

Azad also hit out at the government over the demonetisation issue saying, “the move has driven Indians crazy in the name of black money.”

He also took a dig at the media and Prime Minister Modi, saying, “now it’s all Modi in newspapers and on TV channels, the Opposition cannot be seen.”

“The time of free and impartial media is no more. Now, you open, newspapers, and you see 10-20 pictures of Modi,” he alleged.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 08:10 IST

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis attends Chhath puja at Mumbai’s Juhu beach

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The four-day Chhath festival concluded in the mega city today with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis attending the event at the famous Juhu beach here.Invited by Mumbai BJP unit general secretary Amarjeet Mishra and the organisers of social organisation Chhath Utsav Mahasangh, Fadnavis arrived at the beach at around 5.30 AM and spent around an hour with the devotees by taking part in Chhath puja. In his brief address to the devotees, the CM said, “Offering oblation to the rising sun has multiple spiritual and scientific advantages. The sun is the most precious gift given to the habitant of the earth, without whom we cannot imagine to live for a while.”A large number of devotees gathered at various beaches and other water bodies since the wee hours and offered prayers to the rising sun. The festival is mainly celebrated in Bihar, eastern UP and Jharkhand. The puja is performed in order to thank the sun god for sustaining life on earth. With an eye on north Indian votes in the megalopolis which can tilt scales in upcoming high-stakes Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, various political parties have been trying to leverage the Chhath festival. There are more than 22 lakh north Indians living in the megalopolis.However, denying any political angle to the festival, Mishra had earlier said the BJP has been organising the festivities for the last two decades as a “social cause” without any connection with elections. The Chhath puja was organised at various places in the city, including Borivali, Mulund, Chembur and Colaba, with the biggest programmes held at Dadar and Juhu chowpatty.

Cows were protected even in Mughal era but need to take states in confidence on cow slaughter: Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: There was a need to take states into confidence on banning cow slaughter, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday, maintaining that cow was protected even during Mughal rule. “Cow slaughter and beef was banned since the vedic times. Even during the Mughal rule, it was banned during the times of Bahadurshah Zafar, Akbar and Jehangir. It has even been written in the ‘Babarnama’ that one cannot rule over Hindustan unless you stop cow slaughter,” he said at a function here in memory of those killed during a demonstration on the issue here 50 years ago.

The Home Minister said there was a need to take the states into confidence on the matter, though many states have already banned cow slaughter after increased awareness over the issue.

“As far as cow is concerned, it is not just a cultural issue, it is an issue of faith. But besides being an issue of faith, it is also an issue which should be viewed from economic, historical and scientific perspective,” he said.

Singh said the NDA government was working towards enforcing complete ban on smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh and taken a number of steps in this regard, but achieved only “partial success” keeping in view the long borders.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“I want to tell you on behalf of our government that we want that cow shuld be protected. We have tried to stop the smuggling of cows to Bangladesh from across the borders. But the borders are very vast and we have achieved only partial success.

“We have taken a number of measures and will try to put a complete ban on smuggling of cows, but I feel this will take some time,” Singh said, adding Article 48 of the Constitution mentions that governments will work to stop cow slaughter.

“We should understand that India is a federal country and there is need to take the states into confidence. Many states have already banned cow slaughter and recently Jharkhand has done so,” he said.

Paying tributes to those who died on November 7, 1966 while raising the issue of cow slaughter in Delhi, the Home Minister said “I believe they gave their supreme sacrifice for a big goal. I pay my tributes to them. I also laud you for remembering them even after 50 years.”

His remarks come days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi dubbed some people protecting cows as “criminals” masquerading as cow vigilantes and sought action against them.

RSS general secretary Bhayyaji Joshi said cow protection movement has come a long way as “there is a government now in place whose Home Minister is sitting among cow protectors and paying homage” to those killed 50 years ago for seeking efforts in this direction.

Citing a US Department of Agriculture meet convened to define genetic sequence of cows where 300 scientists were invited from 25 countries, Singh said it had concluded that 80 per cent of the genes found in the cow and a human were the same.

In his speech, Joshi said 50 years ago, ‘gau rakshaks’ came to present their point of view before Parliament and the Home Minister of that time “meted out such treatment to them which was inhuman.”

“Today, we have a gathering of ‘gau rakshaks’ who have come together to pay homage to those killed 50 years ago and this government’s Home Minister is sitting with us on the stage in joining us pay homage. In that society, there was a conspiracy being hatched from behind and today our Home Minister is saying ‘gau mata ki jai’,” the RSS leader said.

A large number of religious leaders and VHP and RSS leaders were present during the meet where tributes were paid to those killed in the agitation.

BMC polls: Political leverage over Chhat festival to gather votes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With an eye on north Indian votes in the megalopolis which can tilt scales in upcoming high-stakes BMC polls, various political parties are trying to leverage the forthcoming Chhat festival, mainly celebrated by people from Bihar.While city unit of ruling BJP has organised Chhat puja at various places, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which thrives on the sons-of-soil agenda, feels the saffron party was trying to “woo” outsiders ahead of BMC polls through the festival.Country’s richest civic body the Brihanumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been ruled by Sena, with BJP as a junior partner. The 2017 BMC polls are crucial for Sena, which is facing aggressive BJP on its home turf.Mumbai BJP is actively involved in organising Chhat Puja at around a dozen locations including popular Juhu beach. “BJP is holding Chhat puja to attract ‘outsiders'”, an MNS leader said, in a veiled reference to north Indian voters in Mumbai.Chhat is performed in order to thank the Sun god for sustaining life on earth. The festival is mainly celebrated in Bihar, eastern UP and Jharkhand. City unit Congress president Sanjay Nirupam has said that “BJP only celebrates Chhat Puja when there is an election round the corner.”Nirupam, who originally hails from Bihar, today asked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to ensure that BJP does not politicise Chhat ahead of the BMC polls.”BJP is known to use religious rituals for political gains. I have been organising Chhath puja celebrations at Juhu beach for the last 18 years. As per the High Court guidelines, the celebrations should not take place under the banner of any political party and party flags should not be displayed at the venue,” Nirupam stated in a letter to Fadnavis on Friday.On Thursday, a delegation of some BJP leaders called on the CM and sought assistance of state government for celebrating Chhat puja at sea fronts in different parts of city on November 6. Shiv Sena, known for its aggressive ‘bhumiputra’ stance, said Chhat events are being organised with an eye on BMC polls and that they are a show of “political affection to people”.”Sena is not concerned about which party is doing what. Entire country knows Sena for its unwavering stand on Hindutva. It’s only Sena which never backtracked from its stand and even Biharis know that. All these events are being held in view of BMC polls, but it’s true love and affection that people require. People are fed up with political affection towards them,” said local Sena MP Arvind Sawant.

Bengal doesn’t allow politics of communalism and riots: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hoping that the people of West Bengal will show “religious tolerance” and maintain a peaceful environment during the upcoming Chhath Puja, Jagaddhatri Puja, Christmas and other festivals, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said her state never believed in discrimination.”West Bengal believes in the philosophies of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and rejects any sort of discrimination between people,” she said. Banerjee alleged that though “some people” were “spreading religious intolerance” in the state and there was an “atmosphere of religious and political intolerance” in the country, “complete communal harmony” prevailed in West Bengal. “Bengal does not allow politics of communalism and riots.It will not be tolerated,” she cautioned while addressing a rally after an administrative meeting here in West Midnapore district. She took pride in the fact that it was only Bengal which could celebrate both Durga Puja and Muharram “harmoniously”. The chief minister said Jhargram (now a sub-division under West Midnapore district) would soon be made a full-fledged district.”Jhargram will soon become a new district. We are waiting for judicial clearances. We are redefining tourism in Jhargram. Earlier, people were scared to come to these places,” she said. Simultaneously, Asansol and Kalimpong would also be carved out from Burdwan and Darjeeling districts respectively as full-fledged districts for better administration and implementation of various development programmes, she said.Stating that “a smiling Jangalmahal” was her biggest achievement, Banerjee said, “Five years ago, the people of Jangalmahal were living in terror. The tides have turned and this is my biggest achievement. I can give my life but will never forget Jangalmahal.” She said the Tribal Development Ministry would soon form a development board for the welfare of the people of Jangalmahal, adding that the government had initiated a major irrigation project for the districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore.Banerjee said she had instructed the Forest department to look into the problems of the locals posed by stray elephants from the Dalma range in Jharkhand. On the occasion, the chief minister distributed bicycles under the ‘Sabuj Sathi’ programme among students, inaugurated a few projects and laid the foundation stones for some others.

RSS condemns ‘continued attack’ on its cadres in Kerala allegedly by CPI(M) workers

Ranchi: The RSS on Thursday condemned the “continued attack” on its cadres in Kerala allegedly by the CPI(M) workers and claimed that as many as 250 swayamsevaks had been “eliminated” in the southern state since 1942.

Representational image of  RSS volunteers. PTI

Representational image of RSS volunteers. PTI

CPI(M) cadres in collusion with the party’s top leadership killed swayamsevaks and cut off limbs of several others as they found their roots being shaken by the people’s inclination towards Sangh works, RSS’s Jharkhand Sahakaryvah Rakesh Lal alleged.

Addressing a press conference in Ranchi, Lal said unofficially over 350 swayamsevaks were killed in the last seven decades in Kerala though officially it was 250.

Releasing a copy of the resolution of RSS’ Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal held in Telengana on Wednesday condemning the killings, he claimed the Marxists were even against their former cadres who chose to leave and the present government in Kerala was “responsible for the violence”.

The resolution said despite all these killings, the “morale of the swayamsevaks remained high and they were committed in taking forward the Sangh ideals”.

Turning to Jharkhand, he said that there has been an increase of 5000 swayamsevaks in the last one year and the Jharkhand unit has set a target to increase 200 sakhas in the next one year.

Lal said the RSS has been working in the remotest and difficult terrains in Jharkhand for the “welfare of the people in the field of education”.

The second resolution taken by the RSS’s Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (ABKM) was Integral Humanism: The Solution for Present Global Crisis.

The ABKM was of the opinion that the solution to the current challenges, emerging before the world lay in pursuing the philosophy of Integral Humanism based on the eternal Bharatiya vision as propounded by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay.

PM Modi to visit Varanasi, launch gaspipeline project ‘Urja Ganga’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit his Lok Sabha constituency on Monday where he is set to launch a number of ambitious projects including a 1500-km-long gas pipeline costing Rs 51,000 crore and doubling of railway tracks on a busy route. On his eighth visit here since becoming Prime Minister, Modi will launch “Urja Ganga”, the gas pipeline project which promises to provide piped cooking gas to residents of Varanasi within two years and, in another year thereafter, cater to millions of people in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. Modi is also scheduled to flag off projects like doubling of railway tracks on the busy Allahabad-Varanasi section and expansion of the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) here besides laying foundation stone for a fully air-conditioned perishable cargo centre. He will also release a stamp dedicated to the ancient temple town, which is believed to be among the oldest surviving ones in the world. Besides, he will lay the foundation stone for widening of a road passing through the city’s crowded Cantonment area.Tight security arrangements are in place across the city where the Special Protection Group (SPG) has been camping since Friday to oversee preparations for the Prime Minister s visit. The sprawling DLW premises, where the PM is likely to reach by a helicopter, has been declared a “no fly zone” until his departure tomorrow evening.The city has been abuzz with activity for the past few days during which a number of Union Ministers like Piyush Goyal (Power), Dharmendra Pradhan (Petroleum) and Manoj Sinha (Railways) have visited the venue of the function and supervised preparations for the Prime Minister’s tour of his parliamentary constituency, which comes close to six months after his previous trip on May 1 this year.Local unit of the BJP, on its part, has launched a cleanliness drive across the city besides putting up posters at various places highlighting the various welfare schemes launched since Modi assumed power. Recently, the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit had also issued a statement welcoming the Prime Minister on his “first visit to Varanasi after the surgical strikes”. Modi’s visit to the city comes at a time when assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are just a few months away and political temperatures are soaring. His arrival in Varanasi will immediately follow a rally, earlier in the day, at Mahoba district in the state’s impoverished Bundelkhand region.

Come out of the family shadow, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar tells UP CM Akhilesh Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday made an overture to his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Akhilesh Yadav, who is locked in a family feud, to enforce prohibition which he said will help him come out of the “family shadow” and win the state Assembly elections.”There is a saying in English–No risk, No gain… you are young… take a risk (of implementing prohibition) to come out of the family shadow and ensure victory in elections,” Kumar said delivering his maiden speech as JD(U) national president in Bihar’s Nalanda district.”You take the risk and I will strongly back you,” said Kumar, who has made eight trips to UP in recent months with the message of prohibition and wants to play a significant role in the crucial Assembly polls there early next year by bringing together a strong grouping of secular forces.Coming down heavily on Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kumar said, “We had offered him the post of president in the reunited Janata Parivar and also the head of the group in Parliament. But, he walked out and the role he played in Bihar elections, it seems brought him a curse, which has been manifested in the intense feud in his party.”Kumar was speaking at the plenary session of the two-day JD(U) national council meeting which ended today. His appointment as JD(U) president was ratified by the council in which over 170 delegates from 23 states participated. Kumar told party workers from across the country that the message of prohibition was a “positive agenda” to build a national alternative to the present dispensation at the Centre, which rode to power on the basis of “advertisement”.The JD(U) plenary session started with an obituary to the soldiers killed in Pathankot and Uri terror strikes.NITISH KUMAR CRITICISES BJP”While we stand solidly behind the PM and the Centre on guarding our country from terror attacks and also do not support seeking proof for the strikes, it is duty of the PM to stop any party or leader putting out hoardings to take credit for this in view of elections,” Kumar said criticising BJP leaders for putting out hoardings and praising the PM for the surgical strikes inside PoK with the UP elections in view.”Stop writing love letters to Pakistan and reply them strongly in the language they understand,” he said.”Yesterday at the BRICS summit, the PM described our neighbour (Pakistan) as birthplace of terrorism. I support him and JD(U) stands solidly with the Centre on issues concerning our security and external diplomacy,” Kumar said.NITISH’S TAKE ON TRIPLE TALAQOn the issue of triple Talaq, the JD(U) president said, “Our stand is clear. The issue should be settled by leaders and people of that community keeping in view the interest of Muslim women. There is no need for the government to interfere in the matter.””Since 1996 we have made our stand clear that we are not in favour of Common Civil Code, tampering with Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and that the Ayodhya issue should be settled either through a court order or after agreement between members of the two communities,” he said.Former JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and former Jharkhand CM and JVM chief Babulal Marandi were present at the session. Marandi, who was invited at the plenary session as a special guest, was feted by Kumar and other leaders.”The country needs a strong alternative and the responsibility is on you (Nitish) to explore the formation of this alternative,” Marandi said, giving wings to JD(U)’s desire that Nitish Kumar play an important role in the national politics by uniting the secular forces.”Nitish Kumar, who has done a wonderful job in Bihar, is now wanted by people outside the state…Nitish Kumar as a credible face is wanted in the country where people are looking for a leader who does not have any discrepancy in words and deeds,” he said.Praising Marandi for his work as the first CM of Jharkhand, Kumar said “Jharkhand will again prosper when Babulal Marandi as future CM will implement prohibition in that state like it has been done in Bihar.”

Six Naxals hailing from Bihar arrested in Noida

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested six people with suspected Naxal links from a residential area in Noida on Saturday. According to reports, the suspects are adept at making bombs and were planning to execute an untoward incident in the Delhi-NCR region. Arms and ammunitions have been recovered from their possession.The Police has said that they are linked to a Naxal unit from Latehar in Jharkhand.

Durga Puja in Bengal is a celebration as well as political event beyond religion

Will she, won’t she, will she…? Wednesday night passed very slowly for Manab Ranjan Datta, the prime mover of Purba Kalikata Sarbojanin Durgotsav, one of the 4000-odd Durga Pujas held in Kolkata. Never before had a full-fledged caste Hindu prayed so hard for the presence of a demonic Asura, not in this day and age at least.

But then, Datta was in a bind. The moving spirit of his club, the Narikeldanga Sanghati Chakra in north-east Kolkata, which organised the Purba Kalikata Sarbojanin Durgotsav, he had planned for this year’s Puja to be inaugurated by a descendant of Mahishasura himself, the buffalo-demon Durga is supposed to have slain to save the world. Or so her believers would have it.

The celebration of Durga Puja goes beyond religion in Bengal. Reuters

The celebration of Durga Puja goes beyond religion in Bengal. Reuters

Just as members of the Asura tribe, found mostly in Jharkhand but also in Bihar, Assam and parts of north Bengal, implicitly accept that it was their predecessor, a brave warrior, whom Durga had destroyed through deceit and treachery. So much so that the Pujas, the most joyous days in the Bengali calendar, are days of mourning and abstinence for them when they refuse to even see the face of a Durga idol.

So it was quite a coup when Datta was able to announce that a member of that tribe, Sushma Asura from Sukhuapani in the deep interiors of Jharkhand, would be unveiling his club’s goddess on Thursday evening, two days before the official start of the Pujas. The news caused quite a stir in the city.

Shades of the JNU controversy earlier this year do you think, when Smriti Irani let the world know about the Mahishasur Martyrdom Day celebrated by some students in JNU? “May my god forgive me for reading this,” began the then Union Human Resources Minister in Parliament and continued with a poster circulated by these students that read that the Durga Puja “is the most controversial racial festival, where a fair skinned beautiful goddess Durga is depicted brutally killing a dark-skinned native called Mahishasura. Mahishasura, a brave self-respecting leader, tricked into marriage by Aryans. They hired a sex worker called Durga, who enticed Mahishasura into marriage and killed him after nine nights of honeymooning, during sleep.”

“What is this depraved mentality?” she wondered. “I have no answers for it,” she said. And dared her Trinamool critics to discuss this “freedom of speech” in Kolkata.

Smriti Irani could consider a trip to Kolkata in the next few days and pick up some pointers herself. Not just on the endless variety that makes the Hindu religion as practised in India so fascinating but also on why it’ll be a long time before Bengal is ripe for the picking for the BJP.

For whatever else, the Pujas may be – and there are enough people to lecture one and all that they are a huge waste of money, large-scale squandering of resources in a state that has little enough to begin with, dissipation of energy and enthusiasm that could and should be put to better use, etc etc – they really have very little to do with religion per se.

Rather, it is one big party that is supposed to be for four days but thanks to the benevolence of Mamata Banerjee now goes on for anything from a week to ten days. Offices are closed, restaurants are open, people of all ages are out on the streets in their fineries, gamely limping along in their new, ill-fitting shoes, revelries go on through the night, but the act of worship barely gets a look-see in the whole exercise.

Yes, the goddess, her four children complete with their transport, are on display in full grandeur in lavishly decorated temporary structures called pandals (a word that does not seem to be in any English dictionary) that crop up on every other road but the ritual of worship is at most limited to an anjali or a mass offering of flowers to the accompaniment of the priest’s chanting one morning and watching spellbound the aarti in the evening which is anyway spectator sport at its best with its pyrotechnics and frenzied beating of drums and clouds of coloured smoke.

The Puja organisers see their role more as stage managers or maybe art directors than as holy men, arranging for attention-grabbing pandals and idols that will bring in the crowds, get them their 15 seconds of fame on television and maybe win them one of the innumerable awards that every company, small and big, dishes out these days for any and everything, from decor to cleanliness to eco-friendliness to sheer novelty value.

Themes are the name of the game, each Puja centred around a theme of its choice, ranging from tribal art to Rajasthani folk dance to south Indian temples, Odisha handicraft, wish fulfilment, auto ancillaries, you name it, you will see it in the pandals here.

So divorced from religion are the Pujas, so social the occasion that Mamata Banerjee can bend over backwards to “appease” the Muslims and yet be most sought after as an inaugurator, have theme songs written by her sung in pandals and accept with equanimity idols fashioned in her image. There are several Durgas this year who look like Mamata Banerjee, the real-life demon slayer.

So secular are the Pujas that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has at last woken up to their usefulness as a medium of mass contact.

An artisan paints an idol of mythological demon Mahisasura ahead of the Durga Puja festival. Reuters

An artisan paints an idol of mythological demon Mahisasura ahead of the Durga Puja festival. Reuters

“Durga Puja will no longer be off-limits, comrades can be part of Puja organising committees,” announced a state secretariat member at the end of the CPI(M)’s two-day plenum in Kolkata on 1 October. “Direct religious activities” such as aarti and anjali could still be no-nos but “relatively secular trysts such as overseeing the construction of pandals, getting official clearances and collection of subscriptions could be allowed”.

In its heyday, the CPI(M)’s only public brush with religion was restricted to setting up stalls outside the bigger Puja pandals to sell Left literature and Soviet publications – and they sold too.

Purba Kalikata Sarbojanin Durgotsav of the Narikeldanga Sanghati Chakra is not one of the major Pujas of the city. Situated in an area that is still lower to lower middle class Bengali, it is neither rich nor glamorous. It has no A-list patrons though second-ranking Trinamool leaders have been gracing it for the last few years.

Getting an Asura was one way of breaking the mould, of getting their place under the sun. Accordingly, the pandal has been decorated with rows of figurines of tribal men and women in traditional costume bearing traditional arms ranged along the walls behind flickering flames wrought with plastic and electric lights – not the most artistic representation of tribal life one has to say.

Still, everything was set to welcome Sushma Asura, one of the few tribals who could speak in Hindi, to their humble abode. She was supposed to board the train from Ranchi on Wednesday night to reach Kolkata on Thursday morning where she would be staying for four days.

But the last few days had been giving sleepless nights to Manab Datta. The news from Asura land was not good. An Asura coming to inaugurate their Puja had got the publicity they had wanted but it had also reached distant Jharkhand and Sushma was threatened with a social boycott by her fellow Asuras if she dared to celebrate an occasion that is one of the saddest in their lore.

Wednesday found Datta on tenterhooks. Would she get on to the train that night or wouldn’t she? Was she coming or wasn’t she? Calls to Sushma’s cell phone went unanswered all day. Her phone was either switched off or out of reach.

Thursday dawned hazy and muggy with no Sushma Asura in sight. Tribal custom had prevailed over the bright lights of the big city.

Manab Datta was disappointed but not shattered. Sushma Asura would have been the showpiece for sure but she was never the real chief guest. That was reserved for Trinamool leader and MP Mukul Roy who duly did the honours on Thursday evening with suitable pomp and ceremony.

Finally, party politics is what goes for religion in Bengal and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. Only the very foolish would try to replace it with a real religion.

Is Bihar’s Munger becoming a hub for illegal arms trafficking and international terrorism?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime chief of Bangladesh, Monirul Islam , reportedly said that modification of arms used to carry out the July Dhaka terror attack was done in Munger city in Indian state of Bihar. The statement has yet again put Munger on radar of Indian based security agencies and police forces who were, just days before the Dhaka terror attack, in talks to set up a joint task force to counter illegal arms traffickers who were using Munger as a base to modify weapons.A week before terrorists struck Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan Thana, National Investigation agency (NIA) had received inputs about illegal arms traffickers using Bihar’s Munger area as a base to modify and assemble weapons before shipping the same to Maoists operating in Jharkhand.dna on June 22 had reported that cadres of CPI (Maoist) operating in Jharkhand have been supplied with sophisticated M-16 rifles. The anti-terrorism squads (ATS) and special task forces (STF) from almost half-a-dozen states had been called for a meeting with NIA’s top brass regarding the same issue.The probe agency, in the last week of June, initiated talks with ATS and STF of Nagaland, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to chalk out a strategy from stopping the highly-sophisticated weaponry from reaching cadres of CPI (Maoist) operating in Jharkhand. On July 1, however, five terrorists suspected to have owed allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), carried out the attack in which 24 people were killed including two police officers. Authorities in Dhaka however believe that consignment of AK22 rifles and some small arms reached the militants in the Bangladesh capital a month before the terror attack.”A seal from a factory in Bihar was found on the three AK22 rifles recovered after the Gulshan terror attack,” Islam was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune. Of these arms, three AK22 rifles were used in the attack while another rifle was used for the security of Neo Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh chief Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, the paper said.With Jama’atul Mujahideen suspected to have connections in India as well, and in light of latest revelations about Munger agencies in India are likely to see illegal arms trafficking as part of a international terror network”We have come to know that the modification of these arms was done in Munger city in Bihar state of India and then they came to Chapainwabganj border,” Monirul Islam was quoted.Official sources in NIA had told dna that Munger in Bihar has been somewhat becoming an important transit point owing to its existing illegal arms markets. Munger is also home to several freelancers known for servicing and repair of sophisticated weapons such as M-16’s.According to officials, NIA sleuths probing arms smuggling in north-eastern states,have also managed to identified individuals allegedly involved in the smuggling of M-16’s. The individuals, are likely part of a single syndicate and belong to Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland. In June sources had further told dna that investigators had come across transactions of 30-40 lakh rupees made into accounts of certain individuals who were already in radar for their alleged illegal activities.

Jharkhand: Four villagers killed in police firing, more than 10 injured

Hazaribagh, Jharkhand: Four villagers were killed and more than ten people, including policemen, were injured when police fired at a mob in Darhi Kala village near Chirudih coal mining project of NTPC under Barkagaon Police station in Hazaribagh, on Saturday, police said.

Trouble began at Chirudih when the police team reached a dharna spot and faced stones and lathis by the protesting people, mainly raiyats, a senior police officer said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The agitators have been demanding suspension of mining operation by the NTPC at Chirudih, settlement of land acquisition and payment of compensation to the displaced raiyats as per the provision of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act and employment to each displaced person.

As the mob became unruly, to control the situation police used force including firing leading to the death of four and causing injury to more than 10, the officer said.

The injured were admitted to Hazaribagh Sadar hospital and some of them were airlifted to RIMS in Ranchi for better treatment, the officer added.

The injured included several officials from Police and the Block, some of whom were airlifted to (RIMS) Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi, by helicopter for better treatment, the police said.

The injured personnel included Kuldeep Kumar Additional SP (Operation), Circle Officer Shailesh Kumar Singh, ASI Amit Singh, police constables Mobil Ram, Krishna Sao, Anil Singh and Sunil Kumar.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das directed state Home Secretary NN Pandey, Cabinet Secretary SS Meena and ADG (CID) Ajay Kumar Singh to conduct a probe and give a report.

The Divisional Commissioner and Deputy Inspector General of Police would assist the probe team, an official release said.

Jharkhand: Three villagers killed, four injured in PLFI firing

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three villagers were killed and four others seriously injured when activists of ultra Left outfit People’s Liberation Front of India opened an indiscrimnate fire on a gram sabha meeting at Raitodand in naxal-hit Khunti district, police said on Tuesday.The villagers had assembled to discuss village-related issues on Sunday afternoon when about two dozen PLFI activists with firearms arrived on the spot and opened fire indiscriminately, DIG (Ranchi) R K Dhan, who along the Superintendent of Police Anish Gupta went to the spot on Monday night, said.The injured were rushed to Sadar Hospital, Khunti, from where doctors referred them to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi.The police suspect that the PLFI presumed the meeting was part of “peace meetings against ultra activities” being held across the district.The victims have been identified as Sukhram Munda (50), Rokan Purty (60) and Deet Munda (45). A villager, Ghansiram Purty, was reported missing following the incident, the SP said.Police personnel were rushed to the spot to track the culprits. Jharkhand DGP D K Pandey was likely visit the spot later on Tuesday.

Cauvery dispute: Incidents of violence in Karnataka, TN not a sign of healthy democracy, says Venkaiah Naidu

Hyderabad: The recent incidents of violence in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over Cauvery water dispute is not a sign of healthy democracy, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Monday.

“…because, 69 years after Independence if you start quarreling … set on fire this bus and that bus. What happened recently in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is not a good thing for democracy…It is not a good sign for a healthy democracy,” Venkaiah remarked after formally inaugurating the Telangana Postal Circle.

File image of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

File image of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

“We are all one people…we are one country…we may be different states for administrative convenience and for developmental purpose. But at the end of the day we all are Indians. This feeling has to be there among us. So, let us keep this spirit in mind and move forward and both states (Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) should work (together) and should develop,” the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister stressed.

Venkaiah further said every issue mentioned in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act will be taken to its logical conclusion. “No doubt about it and there is nothing to worry about it. Certain issues may take time…its not that simple that you divide the state and everything is done. Sometimes problems erupt during separation of families and it takes time to resolve the problems,” he said.

He reminded that it took a lot of time to resolve problems pertaining to (after creation of) Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh states. “The government is working speedily though there are certain issues…legal disputes, differences between both the states among others. We at the Centre and Prime Minister are working…efforts are on to solve the problems,” Venkaiah added.

On maternity leave getting increased to 26 weeks for women, Venkaiah suggested Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya to also think about paternity leave for men. “I am not saying jokingly…they (men) can reach home to serve the wife, who has been serving the family for years,” he said adding “though, if both go on leave for 26 weeks then there will be problem…the government will go on leave.”

#UriAttack: 18 martyred soldiers make final journey; last rites performed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sunday morning witnessed one of the worst attacks on the Indian army in recent times. Heavily-armed terrorists, believed to be from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed ​(JeM) entered the army base in Uri in Kashmir and killed 18 soldiers and injured 25 others. The injured were taken to the army base hospital in Srinagar, where J&K Chief Minister Mehmooba Mufti visited them on Monday. Prior to that, she lead senior Army and police officials in paying tributes at the wreath laying ceremony for the martyred soldiers.Two of the soldiers hailed from Jammu and Kashmir, rest of them belonged to Uttar Pradesh (four), Bihar (three), Maharashtra (three), West Bengal (two), Jharkhand (two) and Rajasthan (one).The bodies of the soldiers were taken to their hometowns on Tuesday for the last rites.

#UriAttack: Nation salutes sacrifice of the 18 martyred jawans

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In one of the deadliest attacks on the Army in recent times, heavily armed terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed ​(JeM) on Sunday stormed an army base in Uri in Kashmir, killing 18 jawans and injuring 25 others. The injured were taken to the army base hospital in Srinagar, where J&K Chief Minister Mehmooba Mufti too visited them on Monday. Prior to that, she lead senior Army and police officials in paying tributes at the wreath laying ceremony for the martyred soldiers.The ghastly incident has drawn strong reactions from everyone, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi promising a “befitting reply” to the culpritsHere is the list of jawans who died in the Uri terror attack.(1) Subedar Karnail Singh, r/o Vill Shibu Chak, Teh- Bishnah, Dist Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir.(2) Havildar Ravi Paul, r/o Samba, Dist Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir.(3) Sepoy Rakesh Singh, r/o Vill Baddja, Dist Kaimur, Bihar.(4) Sepoy Javra Munda, r/o Vill Meral, Dist Khuti, Jharkhand.(5) Sepoy Naiman Kujur, r/o Vill Gumla, Chainpur, Jharkhand.(6) Sepoy Uike Janrao, r/o Vill Nandgaon (Kh), Dist Amravati, Maharashtra.(7) Havildar NS Rawat, r/o Vill Rajawa, Dist Rajasmand, Rajasthan.(8) Sepoy Ganesh Shankar, r/o Vill Ghoorapalli, Dist Sant Kabir Nagar, Uttar Pradesh.(9) Naik SK Vidarthi, r/o Vill Boknari, Dist Gaya, Bihar.(10) Sepoy Biswajit Ghorai, r/o Vill Ganga Sagar, Dist South 24 Parganas, West Bengal.(11) Lance Naik G Shankar, r/o Vill Jashi, Dist Satara, Maharashtra.(12) Sep G Dalai, r/o Vill Jamuna Balia, Dist Howarah, West Bengal.(13) Lance Naik RK Yadav, r/o Vill Balia, Uttar Pradesh.(14) Sepoy Harinder Yadav, r/o Vill Ghazipur, Dist Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh.(15) Sepoy TS Somnath, r/o Vill Khadangali, Dist Nashik, Maharashtra.(16) Havildar Ashok Kumar Singh, r/o Vill Raktu Tola, Dist Bhojpur, Bihar.(17) Sepoy Rajesh kr Singh, r/o Vill Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh.(18) Sepoy K Vikas Janardhan, Below are the reactions of families of some of the martyred soldiers.

Jharkhand BJP chief Tala Marandi’s son marries 11-year old minor; another minor alleges sexual abuse

In a shocking incident, Jharkhand BJP chief Tala Marandi’s son Munna Marandi has allegedly married a minor girl. Earlier on Wednesday, another minor girl had also accused him of sexual abuse.According to reports, the marriage with the minor girl reportedly took place on June 27, in Godda region of Jharkhand and the reception was held on 29 June. According to a newsd report, a letter by SDN Academy says the girl was born on July 25, 2005, and is enrolled in the sixth standard. The report said that Marandi’s son was earlier set to marry the minor’s cousin, but the girl’s family backed out of the marriage.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Regarding the claims of sexual abuse, an Indian Express report said the minor girl had submitted an application before the State Commission for Women against Munna for sexually abusing her for two years with the promise of marriage. Meanwhile, District Child Protection officer Ritesh Kumar said that they received information about the alleged marriage and are investigating the matter. Speaking to Nai Duniya, he said, “We are investigating the issue. Marandi’s son got married to Mahagama’s resident Bhagan Baski’s fourth daughter.Opposition leader in Jharkhand assembly, Sibu Soren, said that the name mentioned on the wedding card and the girl who got married were different.District Congress president Deepika Pandey Singh has also filed a complaint with the Jharkhand women’s commission, and claimed that the police have not taken action against Munna or Tala Marandi. Singh also told NewsD that Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das was to attend Munna’s reception, which was held on June 29, but cancelled at the last minute.Congress is demanding the resignation of the BJP state President, while Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s Principal Secretary has demanded an SIT investigation.

Pilot launched for solar energy to power PHCs, for millions with no access to health centres with electricity

In a bid to strengthen the primary health infrastructure in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research has piloted a programme to power Primary Health Centres through solar energy. Partnering with the think tank Council for Energy, Environment and Water, the country’s apex medical research body has signed an MoU to study if solar can be an effective solution for almost 33 million Indians who have to make do with primary health infrastructure with no electricity at all.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The two research bodies have come together after the CEEW approached ICMR based on their own research, published in February this year as Solar for Powering Health and Education in India, that found 4.4 percent PHCs in the country have no electricity at all, which affects about 33 million rural Indians. This doesn’t even account for the centres that have power for only a handful of hours.For now, however, the programme will start small, with a few PHCs in three states. A technical committee formed by the ICMR is working with state nodal officers from across the country and, for now, Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and/or Maharashtra are being considered, as they have shown an early interest in the project, Dr Arunabha Sinha CEO, CEEW, told dna. Maharashtra is in the running as it has already worked on solar energy in the past, hence demonstrated an existing interest and awareness of the process.Sinha elaborated on the criteria for each PHC, saying that the ones selected should have less than 10 hours of electricity, but an existing infrastructure for new born care, 80-90 institutional deliveries per month, 24×7 functionality and, most importantly, proper maintenance of records.”It’s not just about provision of power,” said Sinha, “but we need to establish a baseline to then measure whether there is an increase in patients, a difference in services provided, what the situation of power supply is on the ground. For that, records need to be maintained.”After the project is deployed in August, once the states are finalised, CEEW’s role will come into play in designing the infrastructure on ground, overseeing implementation and a four month evaluation. Based on such results, sates will scale up solar energy for other PHCs. A project such as this could bring down the stress on district hospitals and tertiary care centres, which currently shoulder the burden of dysfunctional PHCs.”Though states such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha have more number of unelectrified PHCs, we need to start work with those that meet these criteria so that we can establish our baseline,” said Sinha. Jharkhand alone has 42.5 percent unelectrified PHCs.Though it will take 18-24 months before health metrics start changing, Sinha added, this could be a way to encourage states to take up renewable energy. It will show state governments that not only do community services increase and improve but the cost to run them through conventional power means comes down.

In June, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand and 4 other drought-hit states short of water

Of 11 states ravaged by drought in 2016, seven — Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh — had less than average water in their reservoirs in June 2016.

Levels in dam reservoirs were no more than 10% of capacity across the 11 states as June ended, according to the reservoir data with the Central Water Commission. This is despite the fact that eight of the 11 had normal rainfall in June; rains were 30% short of normal in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand.

Telangana reservoirs are at 2% of capacity, Maharashtra’s at 5.6%, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka at 9.5%, which means South Central India is particularly short on water. Maharashtra, with reservoirs at 5.6% of capacity and a 33% deficit in June rainfall, was the worst-hit state at the end of June.

The situation in 2016 is a reminder of the 2009 drought that wreaked havoc with India’s economy by pushing inflation to double digits. But much will depend, experts said, on how the monsoon progresses over the next three months.

Although reasonable rainfall was reported from Maharashtra’s central and southeastern Marathwada region, a traditionally drought-prone area, reservoir levels remain at 1% of capacity—as they have been since a month—an unprecedented situation.

Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were four of 11 drought-hit states that reported more-than-average water in their reservoirs.

india-spend-1

The southwest monsoon hit India eight days late, breaking over Kerala on June 8, 2016, instead of June 1. It reached Mumbai on June 20, 10 days later than normal.

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are the drought-hit states that received more than average June rainfall till June 23, according to India Meteorological Department data.

india-spend-3

Source: Hydromet, India Meteorological Department; unit – mm)

While monsoon rains are underway in southern and eastern India, and most of the central plains, Gujarat and Rajasthan have got little or no rain.

Despite higher-than-normal rainfall in June 2015, all states reported uniform shortfalls over the 2015 monsoon season, indicating that June rainfall is not a harbinger of what might happen.

If the two water indicators—reservoir levels and rainfall (in June)—are taken together, Maharashtra, as we said, is the worst-affected state in India. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, both equally affected by the drought and with water in their reservoirs at less than 10%, have benefitted from above-normal June rainfall. *Lowest water levels in Maharashtra reservoirs in eight years: Govt* While the CWC data covers only major reservoirs in Maharashtra, the state government water resources department puts water levels in Maharashtra dams at 9% of capacity, the lowest in eight years.

June rainfall in 2014 was a fourth of normal; in 2016, it was half of normal. The northern and eastern areas of the state, the Vidarbha region, were worst hit in 2009, sparking a wave of farmer suicides.

“If we consider the four-month rainfall—June, July, August and September—as important for agriculture, a delayed monsoon will undoubtedly reduce the June rainfall,” Ranjan Kelkar, former Director General of India Meteorological Department (IMD) told IndiaSpend. “That tells us nothing about rainfall in the remaining three months; it all depends on how strong the coming monsoon winds are.”

In April, the Met forecast above-normal monsoon rainfall for the June to September 2016 season, standing by its forecast in June. As Kelkar said, it all depends on the next three months.

Abhishek Waghmare is an analyst with IndiaSpend.

Maoist attack feared, security heightened for CRPF camp in Jharkhand

Jamshedpur: Security have been beefed up in a CRPF camp and some police stations of Maoist-hit Ghatsila sub-division in East Singhbhum district following information provided by a youth who managed to escape after being abducted by the rebels.

Maoist rebels undergoing training. AFPMaoist rebels undergoing training. AFP

Maoist rebels undergoing training. AFP

“We have made tight security arrangements around Musaboni CRPF camp and some police stations of the sub-division based on the inputs provided by the youth,” Superintendent of Police (Rural), Md Arshi, said.

The youth told his interrogators that at least 50 Naxals including women with sophisticated firearms assembled in the jungle to attack the CRPF camp and some police stations, he said.

Some of the Naxals seemed to have come from outside Jharkhand as they were speaking in Bengali and Odiya, the youth told police.

Arshi said, “We have been receiving such threats from the Maoists but it was authenticated following the disclosure by the youth.”

The 23-year-old youth, whose identity was withheld, was abducted by the Maoists from Musaboni Police Station area on Saturday but he managed to escape, he told a press conference.

Arshi said the youth, a resident of the copper township in Musaboni, was allegedly abducted by motorcycle-borne Naxals who had taken him to a jungle under Gorabandha Police Station area.

The rebels, suspected to be members of Maoists leader Kanu Munda’s squad, have tried to lure the youth, who was in search for a job, with money to join them, the SP said.

He managed to escape on the pretext of responding to the nature’s call, Arshi said, adding he somehow managed to reach Musaboni and sought help of a police patrolling van passing through the area.

The SP said a massive long-term anti-naxal operation would be launched in the sub-division from Sunday and assured that the youth would be given security and trained to get employment.

PTI

Attack on Union ministers’ convoy: Rajnath Singh calls up Odisha Guv

Concerned over the attack on the cavalcade of two Union ministers in Odisha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday called up Governor SC Jamir and CM Navin Patnaik and asked them to ensure safety and security of central leaders visiting the state.The cavalcade of Union Ministers Santosh Gangwar and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda was pelted with stones allegedly by a group of ruling BJD workers, led by one MLA, when they were on way to attend a meeting in Odisha’s Bargarh to mark two years of the NDA government.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his telephonic conversation, the Home Minister asked the Chief Minister to look into the incident and take appropriate action to prevent such untoward incidents in the future. Singh also told Patnaik to ensure safety and security of Union ministers visiting the state.In his phone call to the Governor, the Home Minister took stock of the incident and asked him to send a detailed report about the incident. Gangwar, who was also shown black flags allegedly by the BJD workers, said it was the responsibility of the state government to ensure safety of Union ministers. “If the state government can’t protect a Union minister, how can it protect the common man,” Gangwar said.

Maoists blow up building, torch vehicles in Jharkhand

Maoists blew up a guest house of the Jharkhand forest department and set afire eight vehicles of a construction company at Hurungda in Seraikela-Kharswan district on Friday.A group of Maoists came to the spot in the wee hours and blew up a forest department’s guest house lying abandoned for years till renovation began ten months ago, before setting ablaze eight vehicles of a construction company working in nearby area, Superintendent of Police Inderjeet Mahatha said. Some leaflets of the Maoists were found on the spot. The incident occurred when most of the security personnel, deployed in the area for the past several months, left for an anti-Maoist operation last night, Mahata said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The company has been engaged in construction of canals under Suru dam project. Mahatha said major portion of the canal was completed under tight security arrangements by the district administration. The construction work of the project remained stalled for decades, but the administration has decided to complete it by providing adequate security, he said.A hunt was launched in the nearby jungles to flush out the Maoists involved in the incident, he said.

President Mukherjee rejects mercy plea of two convicts of 2007 Jharkhand massacre

The mercy plea of two convicts, who killed eight members of a family including a physically disabled youth in Jharkhand nearly nine years ago, has been rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee. The President has rejected the plea of the convicts– Mofil Khan and Mobarak Khan, officials said on Thursday.The duo had in June 2007 killed Haneef Khan with sharp-edged weapons when he was offering prayers at a mosque in Makandu village under Lohardaga district in the state. After killing him, they murdered his wife and his six sons which included the disabled youth. A case was registered by the local police against Mofil and Mobarak and two other assailants.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following the probe, a local court there had given death sentence to all the accused. However, the Jharkhand High Court had upheld death penalty to Mofil and Mubarak and modified the sentence to life term for the two others. The Supreme Court in its final judgement in October 2014 also upheld the death penalty given to the convicts.A mercy petition was then filed before the President through the Home Ministry. The plea, which was received in December last year at the President’s secretariat, seeking mercy has been rejected by Mukherjee, they said.After taking over as the President in July 2012, Mukherjee has rejected 26 mercy pleas so far including those of 26/11 terror case convict Ajmal Kasab and 1993 blast case convict Yakub Memon. The death sentence in two cases has been commuted to life by the President.Two mercy petitions of Jeetendra Gehlaut alias Jeetu, convicted for killing five women and two children during a robbery in Maharashtra, and Shabnam, who was convicted for killing seven members of her family at Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, are pending with the President.

Lightning strikes kill over 100

Monsoon showers over the past two days brought great cheer and relief to people in many parts of north India. But the joy was overwhelmed by gloom as over a hundred people were killed by lightning, most of them in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.Unofficial figures put the toll at 112 while 79 deaths were officially confirmed. Officials admit the toll could be higher as many deaths were yet to be reported from remote areas.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “deeply anguished” by the loss of life.Lightning strikes killed 56 people including two children in various parts of Bihar on Tuesday evening. About 42 persons were reportedly killed by lightning in Uttar Pradesh, too.Lightning strikes are common in India during monsoons from June to September. However, the recent toll is unusually high. Lightning has killed at least 2,000 people in India every year since 2005, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.Bihar Principal Secretary of disaster management Vyas Ji told reporters that four people died and eight persons were injured in lightning strikes late on Tuesday evening in Patna. Deaths due to lightning were reported from Dumri, Bindol and Roniya villages in Patna.Saharsa, Purnia, and Katihar districts of the state reported 10 deaths due to lightning. While two children died in Samastipur, three persons were killed in Chhapra. The storm before rains ravaged several homes in Arrah killed two persons.Five persons including a girl student were killed and eight others were injured due to lightning strikes in Rohtas district of Bihar. Eight persons suffered severe injuries in Kaimoor district. While four persons died in Aurangabad, two persons each were reportedly killed in lightning in Nalanda and Buxar region.The met department has forecast incessant rains to continue in several parts of Bihar.Ten people were killed by lightning in neighbouring Jharkhand.In Uttar Pradesh, six people were killed and four injured after being hit by lightning in different parts of Ghazipur district on Tuesday.Three people were killed and at least 50 injured when lightning struck Assam’s Cachar district on Wednesday. Most of the victims are farm labourers who take shelter under isolated trees during a thunderstorm.

Lightning in Indian states ‘kills 79’

At least 79 people are killed by lightning strikes in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, officials say.

dna Evening Must Reads: From latest in VVIP chopper deal to US Senate voting on gun control

VVIP chopper deal: ED searches multiple cities; freezes over Rs 86 crore sharesInitiating fresh action in the VVIP choppers deal money laundering probe case, the ED on Monday conducted searches in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad on at least 10 premises of some involved firms and froze shares worth over Rs 86 crore kept by them in foreign shores. Read more<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar toppers scam: Accused Bachha Rai booked under Arms ActA day after arms and ammunition were seized from his office, Bachha Rai, principal of Bishun Rai Intermediate college in Vaishali district which is in the eye of a storm over the 10+2 toppers scam in Bihar was booked under Arms Act. Read moreUS Senate to vote on gun control measures in response to Orlando shootingThe US Senate will make its strongest push in years to tighten gun controls on Monday, voting on four proposals a week after the Orlando shooting massacre prompted new calls to keep firearms away from people on terrorism watch lists. Read moreNo public holiday tomorrow; yoga voluntary for government employeesThere will be no public holiday and yoga will be voluntary for central government employees on Tuesday, when the country observes second International Yoga Day. “There will be no holiday and all government offices will remain open tomorrow,” a senior official in Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said. He said the Centre has not made it mandatory for the employees to take part in yoga. Read moreYou will miss Dhoni a lot more in India when he retires: Dean JonesIndian limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni may be a shadow of his old self but former Australian batsman Dean Jones feels that the Jharkhand dasher will be “missed more in sub-continental conditions” once he calls time on his illustrious career. Read more

Liquor addicts cannot perform Yoga: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar

Ahead of the International Yoga Day on June 21, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday said the ancient discipline is “irrelevant without imposing ban” on sale of liquor across the country and appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to act in this regard.”Yoga is a natural treatment process but liquor addicts cannot perform it. Yoga would be irrelevant unless a ban is imposed on sale of liquor across the country,” he said at meeting in Palamau district in Jharkhand.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apparently hitting out at Modi, who had actively participated in the International Yoga Day event last year, Kumar said, “I have been doing Yoga since childhood but have never publicised it.” He also accused BJP of turning the International Yoga Day event a “party affair”.”Ban on sale of liquor in Gujarat prevailed since Independence and Modi had no role in it. Hence, he should not try to take credit for it,” Kumar said.”In a democratic system like ours, welfare of the society should be the priority over trade and business,” he said, adding his government has decided to forfeit Rs 5,000 crore revenue being generated by sale of liquor.”There are other avenues to generate revenue,” Kumar said, adding if conducive atmosphere prevails and law and order is maintained, adequate revenue can be generated by promoting trade, business and industry.”While I have decided to impose ban on sale of liquor in Bihar, Jharkhand government has increased liquor quota in the bordering areas to generate revenue in violation of the 1915 Excise Act, which prohibits sale of liquor within a limit of 3.6 km from the area under purview of the ban,” he alleged.”I had apprised Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das of my government’s decision to impose ban on sale of liquor from April 1, vide a letter dated January 18 and sought cooperation from him to make it a success, but his government did not cooperate,” he claimed.Referring to switching over of six JVM MLAs to BJP, Kumar, who was accompanied by JVM chief Babulal Marandi at the meeting, alleged, “BJP can stoop to any level to grab power”.Speaking on the occasion, Marandi said, “Opposing ban on liquor sale on the pretext of tribal culture is an insult to the community.”JMM supremo Sibu Soren had launched a movement against sale of liquor and money lending in 1970s and JVM, with the support of Kumar, would continue to pressurise Jharkhand government to ban sale of liquor in the state, he said.

BJP Parliamentar Board to decide whether to project someone as CM face in UP: Rajnath Singh

The BJP Parliamentary Board will take a final decision on whether to project someone as Chief Ministerial candidate for the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh scheduled to be held early next year, senior party leader and Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday.”As of now, there is no discussion at all in the Parliament Board (on the issue of Chief Ministerial candidate in UP). When the time will come, the Parliamentary Board will discuss and decide on it,” he told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh said the party will take a decision depending on the situation.When pointed out that BJP got power in Assam where it had declared a Chief Ministerial candidate and lost in Bihar polls where nobody was projected for the top job, Singh said despite not declaring a CM candidate, the party won Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand.There has been speculation that the party may project Singh, a former Chief Minister, as BJP’s face in assembly elections in UP.Singh himself, however, ruled out returning to the state politics saying there are many capable leaders who can be Chief Ministerial candidate.Asked about his personal opinion whether the BJP should project someone as CM candidate, Singh said he will place his view before the Parliamentary Board.

Monsoon likely to gain momentum, advance further into Marathwada: IMD

New Delhi: After a making a slow progress, the southwest monsoon is expected to gain momentum and advance further into several parts of drought-hit Maharashtra and central India.

“The southwest monsoon has further advanced into remaining parts of coastal Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gangetic West Bengal, more parts of north interior Karnataka, Vidarbha, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Jharkhand and Bihar,” the India Meteorological Department said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, M Rajeevan, said the last week of June is expected to witness some good rainfall.

IMD said the conditions are favourable for the monsoon to advance into entire Konkan and Goa, drought-hit central Maharashtra, Marathwada, remaining parts of north interior Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

The weatherman has forecast an “above normal” monsoon this year. However, its onset over Kerala, which marks the commencement of the rainy season in the country, was on 8 June, seven days later than predicted.

Also, it made a slow progress due to lack of a favourable system that could have given it a boost to move forward. The slow pace had increased the rain deficiency to 25 percent.

It is expected to make its way to Delhi in the first week of July. Normally, it reaches the national capital by 1 July.

Rain clouds are here..

The parched regions of Maharashtra have a reason to cheer. The monsoon’s surge is about to revive, ending the brief lull that had stalled its advance and got farmers worried. Weathermen from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that in the next two-three days, monsoon will advance over various parts of Maharashtra, starting with Konkan, Mumbai and then Marathwada and Vidarbha.”We have favourable weather systems developing over both Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. These conditions will make westerly winds stronger,” said KS Hosalikar, deputy director-general, IMD, western region.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Met department also said on Thursday that “conditions are once again becoming favourable for the advance of southwest monsoon over south Chhattisgarh and remaining parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Odisha, Gangetic West Bengal and Jharkhand.”Since its onset on June 8, the monsoon had made rapid progress in the next three days, advancing till Karwar on west coast and Ongole near coastal Andhra on the east coast. But, from June 12 onwards, weather conditions on the west coast weakened, worrying farmers and people of drought-hit regions of a further delay. “Things are improving now. A cyclonic circulation is set to form over west-central Bay of Bengal and it is likely to move towards the west, making conditions favourable for monsoon rainfall in Maharashtra,” said Sunitha Devi, director, weather section, IMD, Pune.Private weather forecaster Skymet, too, said that rains are set to pick up pace after next 24 hours. “The cyclonic circulation over Bay of Bengal will help in increasing the monsoon surge over the west coast and we expect that the intensity of rain will increase over Interior Maharashtra as well as the coastal areas of North Maharashtra including Mumbai by June 18,” said Skymet. They added, “Further, by June 20 and June 21, moderate to heavy rain and thundershowers are expected to lash Mumbai and nearby areas. This spell may mark the onset of much-awaited monsoon over Mumbai.”

Telangana Congress suffers setback as members crossover to TRS

Congress has taken yet another beating with its Telangana state Congress members leaving its fold to join the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on Monday.

Senior Congress leaders, Miryalguda MLA Bhaskar Rao, former MP G Vivekanand and former MLA G Vinod, Nalgonda MP G Sukhender Reddy and Congress leader Juvvada Narsing Rao, along with a CPI MLA, Ravindra Kumar Ramavath will be joining Telangana‘s ruling party on 15 June.

A file photo of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party President and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. AFPA file photo of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party President and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. AFP

A file photo of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party President and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. AFP

The leaders claim that they switched loyalties as they were impressed by the Chief Minister KCR’s initiatives and they wanted to support his efforts to build a ‘golden Telangana’. They praised his welfare schemes for the weaker sections of the society like the SCs and STs.

According to a report in The Times of India, three-time MP Reddy’s exit from the Congress will have huge repercussions for the party in the Lok Sabha, where it will be left with only 44 seats now.

Further Telangana Congress will now be left with only one MP in the Lok Sabha, as the party won just two seats in the 2014 elections, as a report mentions in The News Minute. In contrast, TRS will now have 13 seats, says an NDTV report.

Deccan Chronicle quotes Reddy, “I decided to join the TRS impressed by Mr Rao’s developmental works in the past two years and to be a part of it. I am also pained at the internal squabbles in the Congress which led to issuing of show-cause notices to some leaders.”

The recent crossover can help TRS easily win the three Rajya Sabha seats in July.

While leaving Congress, the members expressed their gratitude to party president Sonia Gandhi for Telangana’s formation. Sukhender Reddy went a step ahead and called her a “Devatha (God)”.

This form of crossover has been the trend for quite sometime now in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In April this year, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu managed to pull out a dozen MLAs from the YSR Congress, while in Telangana, 21 MLAs shifted from various parties to TRS, including five from the Congress.

Last week Congress saw a similar situation in Tripura when six Congress legislators crossed over to Trinamool Congress. All is not well for Congress in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh as well. In a major setback for the party in Maharashtra, veteran Congress leader and a Gandhi family loyalist, Gurudas Kamat resigned from the party. In Chhattisgarh, Ajit Jogi, the first chief minister of the state, quit Congress to form his own party.

Fodder scam: Lalu Yadav appears before special CBI court in Ranchi

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) patriarch and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav appeared before a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Ranchi Jharkhand in connection with the fodder scam case.Lalu’s counsel Prabhat Kumar told ANI, “The case is pertaining to RC38A/1996, in which there are a total of 48 accused and most of them were evading personal appearance. That is why all the accused had been ordered by the court to appear before it.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”So far 15-17 accused have marked their presence in the court, and more are expected to visit. The court will take legal action against those who failed to comply with its order,” Kumar added.The fodder scam relates to fraudulent withdrawal of around 1,000 crore rupees by the Animal Husbandry department from various districts when Lalu was the Bihar chief minister from 1990 to 1997.On October 3, 2013, Lalu was sentenced to five years imprisonment in another case of fodder scam by a special CBI court, which had disqualified him from membership of Parliament and also renderedhim ineligible for contesting elections for 11 years.Besides Lalu, six other politicians and four retired IAS officers were also sentenced to prison terms for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury (now in Jharkhand) when Lalu was heading the Janta Dal government in the early 1990s in erstwhile Bihar.Meanwhile, with important files related to the fodder scam reportedly missing from the animal and fisheries resources department office in Patna, Union Minister and BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy alleged that this was all being done to get a clean-chit for RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav by his partner in crime Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.Rudy said this is all being done by the incumbent grand alliance government in Bihar to facilitate Lalu’s acquittal.”The missing files signify there are people in the system trying to get a clean-chit for Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav. Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar are friends and they are partners in crime,” he told ANI.Rudy recalled that the RJD boss had to quit as the Bihar chief minister in 1997 because he was charged and sentenced in the fodder scam.”Thereafter, the CBI chargesheeted him. He was put behind the bars. He had to quit his position as the chief minister,” he said.”There are reports that the file pertaining to the Fodder scam has been stolen. And it clearly emphasises that there are people in the system who possibly would be working to give a clean-chit or to assist or facilitate the acquittal of Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav,” he added.Continuing his tirade against the Nitish-Lalu duo, Rudy said crime has increased in Bihar, adding the state government has begun to protect the criminals.”It seems it’s a part of that very same chain. We are all very concerned that the process of law and the process of justice will stand vitiated if such incidents happen where the files pertaining to fodder scam are stolen,” he added.Meanwhile, an FIR has been registered at the Old Secretariat police station in this regard.The fodder scam involved the embezzlement of about Rs. 9.4 billion from the government treasury of Bihar.

Thane: Why didn’t the confined victims of godman revolt? Cops baffled

The Samta Nagar police in Thane, which is probing a case wherein 28 people, including minors, were unlawfully confined in an ashram and made to perform religious rituals, is baffled about why the victims did not resist and kept facing harassment for over two months. The guru-disciple duo who ran the ashram had also confiscated the mobile phones of the victims so that they could not connect with the outer world, police sources said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Friday, the police had arrested self-proclaimed ‘god man’ Devendra Dubey and his disciple Bhagwandas Tiwari on charges of wrongfully confining 28 persons in their ashram in Thakur Complex, where they were allegedly trapped and were subjected to harsh treatment and intense torture under the pretext of pleasing the lord and attaining liberation. The police suspect that this is not the only incident wherein Dubey and Tiwari lured people from different states by offering them money and then making them work without wages.”If 28 people are subjected to such ill treatment then there are possibilities that the accused have set up their network across the state and opened several such institutions for making the people do odd jobs. We are baffled as to why 28 people followed the dictatorship of two men in the ashram and could not overpower them in order to set themselves free from their clutches,” said an officer of the Samta Nagar police station.The police suspect that there is something in the case that doesn’t meet the eye. “All the rescued people hail from north India and they are all well-versed in religious verses and are quite learned in the scriptures. Dubey and Tiwari, who hail from northern India, had set up their ashram in 2014. A few months ago, they started calling people from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to their Kandivli-based ashram to learn rituals and also promised to pay them Rs 600-1,200. Later, they were forcibly made to undergo severe fasts and were also made to do odd chores, in the false assurance that this work will lead them to heaven. The followers who had came there were not allowed to make any sort of communications with the outside world and even their cell phones were seized by the patrons. Under the pretext of religious achievements, the followers were physically tortured inside the ashram,” the officer said.”We are still investigating the case and all the doubts shall be answered after interrogating the accused, who are in remand at present. One of the accused had some contacts with people who would send victims to learn rituals in Mumbai. We are also trying to get leads from the accused to expose any similar ongoing acts and, after getting necessary information from them, we shall take relevant steps. We shall also ask the court to increase the tenure of their police custody so that we can get more details pertaining to the case. The rescued minors have been sent to a juvenile home in Dongri and the rest of the captives have been released. We have recorded the statements of almost all the victims,” said senior police inspector of Samta Nagar police station Dilip Yadav.

BJP narrows gap in Rajya Sabha, wins 12 seats against 6 of Congress

Modi government got a shot in the arm after the conclusion of Rajya Sabha polls for 27 seats, with gap between the Congress and BJP narrowing down to barely 3 seats. In polls held in seven states, BJP swept 12 of the 27 Rajya Sabha seats while Congress had to contend with only 6 seats.The biennial elections were held for 57 vacant seats of which 30 got elected unopposed, leaving polling for only 27 seats.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Riding on spectacular wins in Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, BJP will now have 54 members in the Upper House which is just three short of Congress’ 57. During the Budget session, the Congress had 64 members as against BJP’s 49.The new composition of 245-member strong Rajya Sabha puts BJP in a much better position to push some of its legislations that have been hanging fire largely on account of opposition from the Congress.All four candidates of BJP including union cabinet minister Venkaiah Naidu got elected from Rajasthan. Opposition-backed Kamal Morarka failed to win as he could not garner eight extra votes he needed and thus the BJP romped home in all four seats.The biggest upset wins for the BJP were that of party-backed media baron Dr Subhash Chandra in Haryana and industrialist Mahesh Poddar in Jharkhand.Election of Dr Chandra against senior advocate RK Anand came as a big surprise. Anand lost despite backing from both Indian National Lok Dal and Congress giving him a clear lead. The unexpected result comes amidst 14 votes being declared invalid on account of using the wrong ink.Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman was the lone BJP member elected from Karnataka where the rest of three seats – Jairam Ramesh, Oscar Fernandes and K C Ramamurthy – were bagged by the Congress.In Jharkhand, the BJP won both the seats, the first going to union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and the second to Mahesh Poddar, who defeated Basant Soren, younger son of JMM supremo Shibu Soren.In UP, the Samajwadi Party romped home winning all seven seats it contested. Mayawati’s BSP bagged two seats besides helping Congress Kapil Sibal with its spare votes. The last of the 11 seats went to the BJP.Dr Chandra winsFormer chairman of Diligent Media Corporation Limited (DMCL) and noted philanthropist Dr Subhash Chandra got elected to the Rajya Sabha from Haryana. In a closely contested election, Dr Subhash Chandra, an independent candidate supported by the BJP, secured 29 votes as against the 21 bagged by his opponent RK Anand, who was backed by both Congress and the INLD.Disclaimer: DMCL, that owns the dna newspaper, has conflict of interest in the story as Dr Subhash Chandra is former chairman of the Zee Group, of which DMCL is part of

One in every three child workers is illiterate in India, finds new study

New Delhi: One in every three child labourers in the age group of 7-14 is illiterate, said a study based on Census data.

“Close to 1.4 million child labourers in India in the age group of 7-14 years cannot write their names. This means one in three child labourers in the said age group is illiterate,” an analysis of Census data by CRY- Child Rights and You said in a statement.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

This is the grim reality of children who work for more than six months in a year. Even for children who support the family economy by working for less than six months in a year,
which is very common in India, the situation is equally, if not more, worse.

According to the statement, a shocking 2 million of these marginal workers have compromised their education as well. The situation is also reflected in the state figures.

While 45 percent of child labourers in Bihar are illiterate, in Rajasthan and Jharkhand the figure stands at 40 percent.

Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have about 38 per cent child labourers as illiterate. There is a high potential of early school drop-outs and those not learning at school to remain outside the world of employment, it said.

These children when grow remain at a risk of not having secured jobs and thus remain trapped in the intergenerational cycle of poverty and deprivation, it said.

The numbers stated earlier contradict this assumption and is an evidence enough that this needs to change, for main as well as marginal child labourers, the statement added.

In 1992, when India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a reservation was made in article 32, wherein the Government of India articulated that it would progressively ban all forms of child labour.

Now, after 30 years since the Child Labour Law came into force, India has the opportunity to amend the law in favour of these children. However, the proposed amendment in the Child Labour law leaves a glaring gap in the prohibition of labour for children under the age of 14, CRY said.

The new law also allows children in this age group to work in family occupations after school hours.

The Census 2011 data for children in labour states that 6.5 million children in India in the age group of 5 to 14 work in agriculture and household industries.

This makes a staggering 64.1 percent of child labourers in this age group.

CRY’s on ground experience reveals that a large number of children engaged in these occupations are working with their families, thus exempting them from the proposed ban.

Allowing children to work in family enterprises is likely to have far reaching implications affecting not only their education and learning outcomes but also their health and overall development, it added.

Mathura: Bleak future awaits children rescued from jawaharcamp

Even as the ongoing game of political upmanship over May 2 Mathura violence at the ‘Swadhin Bharat’cult’s illegal camp at Jawaharbagh continues, the fate of 300 odd children who lived there stare at uncertainty.167 men and 97 women have been so far put up at the Mathura district jail, filling it beyond its capacity. However, there is no official account of where the rest of the 3,000 odd occupants (including children) living on the 270 acre camp are, except 22 civilians who died during the stand off, along with two senior cops.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Officials would like one to believe that the rest have been sent in buses and trains to their native places in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.Nine children below the age of 10 were brought to the Rajkiya Bal Griha (Shishu) in Mathura, the district’s child protection home, on June 4, close to 48 hours after the violent clashes during the administration’s encroachment removal drive executing an Allahabad high court order. 20 others were put up in an another shelter home meant for those in 10-18 age groups. These are children and teenagers whose parents or guardians are either lodged in jail or not traceable.”I and my younger sister were first taken to the hospital, then to the jail where my parents are, then to a school where several people were lodged before finally being brought here,” a girl child (name withheld) told dna.She recalled how she came there a year ago along with parents from a village in Kanpur Dehat (Rural) district of Uttar Pradesh and the Jawaharbagh camp became their home since then. Another child, also a girl, said that her grandparents with whom she lived in the camp for two years were missing and she had no clue (not even a phone number) how to contact her parents in the Kanpur Dehat (rural) district of Uttar Pradesh.Sunita Sharma, chairman of the Child Welfare Committee at Mathura district told dna that she and her team were coordinating with the district administration officials to trace their parents and send them back home safely.Even if Sharma succeeds in doing that, what awaits these children back in village is a bleak future.”My father worked in a brick kiln as a laborer in village,”said a child who had not spoken to him for over a year.The children recounted a chilling account of the violent clashes that led to firing and cylinder explosions leading to a massive fire at the spot. “We woke up to the sound of the gunshots. When we ran out, we saw a JCB forklift razing the boundary wall behind our hut. Soon, there were explosions and fire all over,” said a child.

Congress may be down, but not yet out in Rajya Sabha

Biennial elections to 57 Rajya Sabha seats on June 11 are set to reduce numbers of the main Opposition Congress marginally, but will hardly affect the overall composition of the House, where ruling BJP will continue to be in a minority. One seat each from Rajasthan and Karnataka vacated by Anand Sharma (Congress) and Vijay Mallya (Independent) respectively will also go for polls.The Congress will continue to remain single-largest party in the 245-member House, but the BJP will narrow the gap. The Congress numbers will come down from 64 to 58 while the BJP’s strength will go up from 49 to 52.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP will also get the additional support of the seven new nominated members as well, taking its tally to 59. The Opposition has used its strength in Upper House to stall government’s economic reform agenda over past two years. The strength of the Janata Dal (United) is set to come down from five to two as it now has to share seats with Rashtriya Janata Dal.Out of the total 57 seats, a majority of 14 each belong to BJP and Congress. While six members belong to BSP, five are from JD(U), three each from SP, BJD and AIADMK. Two members each belong to DMK, NCP and TDP, while one member belongs to Shiv Sena. While a maximum of 11 members are retiring from Uttar Pradesh, six seats each will go for polls from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.From Bihar, five seats will go to polls, four each from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, three each from Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, two each are from Haryana, Jharkhand, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. One seat from Uttarakhand will also go for poll, the Election Commission said.Congress has fielded three senior advocates as its candidates –former home and finance minister P Chidambaram(70) from Maharashtra, former HRD minister Kapil Sibal(67) from Uttar Pradesh and former additional solicitor general Vivek Tankha(59) from Madhya Pradesh. It also decided to repeat general secretary Ambika Soni (73) from Punjab and former union ministers Oscar Fernandes (75) and Jairam Ramesh (62) from Karnataka.Two others nominated for the Rajya Sabha elections are former Lok Sabha MP Pradeep Tamta (57) from Uttarakhand and Chhaya Verma, a former Raipur district Panchayat chief who contested 2014 Lok Sabha elections unsuccessfully from Chhattisgarh.The Congress has got a bonus of one seat after the Supreme Court restored the Harish Rawat government in Uttarakhand, however, its ally the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) has announced its own candidate against Congress official nominee Pradeep Tamta. The six-member PDF went into a huddle at cabinet minister Harish Chandra Durgapal’s residence late Sunday night, and announced Dinesh Dhanaiand ‘s candidature.Prabhu to file his nomination from APRailway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who joined the BJP and the Modi government quitting Shiv Sena, has been moved from Haryana to Andhra Pradesh to enter the Rajya Sabha this time. Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was elected last time from Andhra Pradesh has been shifted to Karnataka. Since BJP doesn’t have strength in Andhra Pradesh, Prabhu will get support from Telgu Desam Party of Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.The party released a list of its six more Rajya Sabha candidates that also include its spokesman and journalist M J Akbar who will contest this time from Madhya Pradesh. He was elected to the Upper House from Jharkhand last time.Vinay Shashtrabuddhe is the third national vice-president to get the Rajya Sabha berth from Maharashtra, other two being Om Prakash Mathur from Rajasthan and Purushottam Rupala (sitting) from Gujarat. Dr Vikas Mahatme, a Padma Shri and noted eye surgeon of Nagpur, is the party’s other candidate from Maharashtra besides Power Minister Piyush Goyal. Other two names announced are: Shiv Pratap Shukla from Uttar Pradesh and Mahesh Poddar from Jharkhand.The party also nominated its three candidates for the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) besides Surjit Thakur announced in the first list. They are: Pravin Darekar, Sada Bhau Khot and Vinayak Mete.In the first list announced on Sunday, a surprise nomination from Bihar was Gopal Narayan Singh, a former state BJP president, instead of Sushil Modi, who was projected all this time as joining the union cabinet. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who was last time elected from Karnataka, has been shifted to Rajasthan. Another minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is seeking re-election from Jharkhand instead of Uttar Pradesh.

Clean Ganga mission: Behind schedule, Ganga ministry invites bids for surface cleaning

Even as it is fallen behind schedule to award contracts for setting up sewage treatment plants that will treat raw sewage flowing into river Ganga, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has invited bids from across the globe to award projects for cleaning up solid waste from the river’s surface. NMCG is the implementing agency of National Ganga River Basin Authority, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. NMCG has finally opened the bids for river surface cleaning works after long drawn consultations and industry conferences.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As part of this leg of Ganga cleaning, contractors will have to use machinery as well as manpower to collect floating solid waste such as flowers, coconuts, plastic bottles, food packets, dead bodies of humans and animals, wood, water hyacinth that dot the country’s national river. The river surface cleaning works will be divided across the five Ganga basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.In fact, last year, NMCG had run river surface cleaning pilots across Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna, Sahibganj, Mathura, Ganga Sagar and Haridwar, wherein trash skimmer boats were used.”We want to begin the river surface cleaning by June end and thus we are speeding up the tendering process to bring the project back on schedule. A lot of time was lost in the planning stages,” said RajatBhargava, mission director, National Mission for Clean Ganga. Bhargava added, “Although river surface cleaning is supplementary to the main work on treating polluted water we want trash skimmers to collect 6-10 tonnes of waste per day. Around 15 companies have show interest in the pre-bid meeting.”As per NMCG’s bid document, the project will be awarded for three years and the contractors will have to coordinate with local municipalities and even state governments to dispose off the solid waste collected from the river surface.Even though sewage is the biggest contributor to pollution in Ganga, it also receives a vast amount of solid waste. Cremation on the banks of the river is an age-old practice and under the river surface cleaning works, contractors will have to take care of human and animal dead bodies too. While cleaning, if human bodies are found, the contractor will have inform the local police and follow comply with procedures.

4000 households in Jharkhand to get electricity via solar energy: CM Raghubar Das

Four thousand households in Jharkhand will get electricity through solar energy this fiscal, Chief Minister Raghubar Das said on Thursday.To make the villages prosperous and self-sufficient, every household would be electrified by 2019, Das said while inaugurating 132/33 KV Grid Sub-station at Tamad, about 50 km from here.Stating that the electricity problem in Bhagawan Birsa Munda’s village will end now, the chief minister added that without power one could not expect development.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Referring to the enormous potential of coal-powered energy of Jharkhand, Das said the state has the capacity to provide electricity to the entire country.This grid would also end the problem of low voltage in Tamad and it would be connected to Chandil Grid, an official release said quoting Das.Stating that earlier the area used to get from Namkum Grid, about 70 km away, Das said uninterrupted electricity would help growth in factories as he appealed to the youth to take up Food Processing Plants through public-private partnership as the government had already adopted a policy in this sector.The closed down cold storages would also be re-opened, he said, adding that dropped out students would be imparted skill training to help them in self-employment.Stating that 26,000 women self-help groups were connected to JHARCRAFT (Jharkhand Silk Textile & Handicraft Development Corporation), Das said the government would purchase blankets, sheets, towels and school uniform from it, which would aid them in increasing their income.The chief minister said meetings of Gram Sabha once in a month was necessary for village development.Extending greetings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team on completing two years in office, Das said the prime minister has established new dimensions in development and enhanced the nation’s prestige abroad.

After severe heat wave, IMD predicts drop in mercury, thunderstorms in several parts in next 48 hours

After a long spell of “severe heat wave”, India Meteorological Department has predicted maximum temperatures are likely to fall by 2-3 degrees Celsius over northwest and central India in the next 48 hours while forecasting thunderstorms in several parts of the country.However, the “heatwave” warning still persists for west Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha for the next 48 hours.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Maximum temperatures are likely to fall by 2-3 degrees Celsius over northwest and adjoining central India during the next 48 hours.”Thunderstorm is also likely at isolated places over Delhi, Jammu division of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, West Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam and Meghalaya,” the IMD said in its forecast.However, in coming days, with the effect of cyclone Roanu receding, states like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha are likely to again come under the spell of heat wave.”The (heat) intensity is likely to reduce thereafter and gradually abate during May 27 to 31. The maximum day and minimum night temperatures are likely to remain markedly above normal over entire northwest, west and central India during May 17 to 27. They are likely to fall to their respective normal or below normal values between May 27 and June 1,” the IMD said.IMD has also predicted “heavy rainfall” in the Andaman and Nicobar which was hit by southwest Monsoon on May 18.

PM Modi may roll out long-term measures to solve drought issue

New Delhi: After having consulted the states affected by drought this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to shortly announce several long-term measures to tackle the problem, official sources said on Monday.

“Prime Minister has completed consultations with 11 Chief Ministers of drought-affected states. There is a general mood in the country for long-term measures to fight drought. He is likely to make some major announcements,” an official source told IANS.

“Some time-bound measures to deal with droughts are on the cards,” the source said.

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Getty Images

In the union cabinet meeting scheduled on Wednesday, Modi is likely to share with his ministerial colleagues what he discussed with the 11 Chief Ministers.

The performance of the ministries of agriculture and water resources vis-a-vis drought policies and water management may also figure in the cabinet discussion.

“In about 12 days, the prime minister met 11 chief ministers and heard them and their officials and experts on water scarcity and drought. Now suggestions are being examined and some policy level decisions may be taken,” the source said.

In his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio broadcast on Sunday, Modi said, “Many states have undertaken wonderful efforts to mitigate the drought.”

He also cited the use of technology by Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh in dealing with drought.

In their meetings with Modi, at least three chief ministers — N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Raghubar Das (Jharkhand) and Devendra Fadnavis (Maharashtra) — suggested that “instead of adhocism as was tried so far, there is need for some long-term measures.”

“The NDA government is committed to drought-free India and is working on a road-map to achieve that in smooth and active coordination with the states,” the source said.

The union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on 18 May urged the drought-affected states to periodically review water shortage and prepare action plans on a weekly basis.

The central government has suggested that state plans should specifically aim to address shortage or scarcity of drinking water and ensure construction of farm ponds, adoption of micro-irrigation projects and diversification to crops using less water.

On 12 May, the Supreme Court had asked the central government to revise the drought management manual prepared in 2010 to provide effective relief to calamity-hit farmers and prepare a national plan to tackle the crisis.

This year’s drought has affected over one lakh villages in 313 districts across 13 states, union Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh informed Lok Sabha on 10 May.

The drought in the year 2009 had affected 334 district across 14 states.

Mann Ki Baat: PM Modi calls for protection of environment

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for protection of the environment and said conservation of water and forests was people’s responsibility, on the radio broadcast of ‘Mann ki Baat’.

“Let us pledge to conserve every drop of water. Even if a single drop of water is wasted, it should hurt us,” Modi said in his 21st radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

Citing examples from states including Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the prime minister said, “So many states have undertaken wonderful efforts to mitigate the drought. This is cutting across party lines.”

He also laid emphasis on using the “drip irrigation” technique to tackle drought.

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTIA file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

“Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have used technology very well to mitigate the drought. Jan Bhagidari (people’s participation) is also vital,” he said.

Modi spoke about his meeting with the chief ministers of various drought-hit states.

“I decided to meet every chief minister individually as opposed to calling all of them together and having one meeting,” he said.

Modi said this year the UN decided the theme of the World Environment Day on 5 June will be the “Zero Tolerance for Illegal Wildlife Trade”.

He congratulated the students who scored well in the CBSE exams. He said, “Congratulations to all the candidates for their scores. Happy to see girl students shine.”

To the students who did not do so well, he said, “For those who did not clear and succeed,life does not stop here. There is a lot to do”

He announced that he will be visiting Chandigarh on International Yoga Day.

“Do not forget what I said about water, save it,” with that PM Modi concludes ‘Mann ki Baat’, appealing to save water amid water crisis and drought.

With inputs from IANS and ANI

Check jac.nic.in, jharresults.nic.in for JAC 10th Result 2016 to be declared in a while

Students who have appeared for the ​Jharkhand Matric examination in March/April 2016 just have to wait for a little while as they will finally be able to enjoy the fruits of their hardwork.The Jharkhand Academic Council would be announcing board result 2016 at 3 PM on Friday. Just follow the steps mentioned below to check Jharkhand 10th Result 2016Steps to check your JAC Matric Result 20161. Visit websites: jac.nic.in or jharresults.nic.in<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Click on ‘Result X Class 2016’3. Enter your name, roll number, date of birth and other credentials required4. Click ‘Submit’5. Your JAC 10th Result 2016 will be displayed on the screen.6. Now, download your scores and take a print out for future reference.About JAC BoardThe Jharkhand Academic Council was constituted by HRD Department Government of Jharkhand on June 7, 2007.The Jharkhand Academic Council was established for holding and conducting examinations at the end of Intermediate, Education, Secondary Education, Sanskrit Education and Madrasa Education and for prescribing courses of studies for such examinations and for recommending for recognition of Intermediate Educational Institutions, High Schools, Sanskrit Schools and Madrasas to the State Government and for carrying out such other or duties assigned to the council by the State Govt from time to time.

Check jac.nic.in, jharresults.nic.in for JAC 12th Result 2016 to be declared in a while

The wait for JAC Intermediate Result 2016 would soon come to an end for students who appeared for their examinations in February and March.The class 12 results for students from arts, science, commerce stream would be announced on Friday at 3 PM.Just follow the instructions mentioned below to find the fruits of your labour.Steps to check your JAC 12th Result 20161. Visit websites: jac.nic.in or jharresults.nic.in<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Click on ‘Result XII Class 2016’3. Enter your name, roll number, date of birth and other credentials required4. Click ‘Submit’5. Your Jharkhand 12th Class Result 2016 will be displayed on the screen.6. Now, download your scores and take a print out for future reference.About JAC BoardThe Jharkhand Academic Council was constituted by HRD Department Government of Jharkhand on June 7, 2007.The Jharkhand Academic Council was established for holding and conducting examinations at the end of Intermediate, Education, Secondary Education, Sanskrit Education and Madrasa Education and for prescribing courses of studies for such examinations and for recommending for recognition of Intermediate Educational Institutions, High Schools, Sanskrit Schools and Madrasas to the State Government and for carrying out such other or duties assigned to the council by the State Govt from time to time.

Check jac.nic.in, jharresults.nic.in for JAC 10th Result 2016 to be declared soon

Students who appeared for the Jharkhand 10th Result 2016 earlier this year will have to wait just a little longer. Jharkhand Academic Council Result 2016 will be announced at 3 pm today.JAC Matric Result 2016 are an important stepping stone for students of Jharkhand. The pressure to do well in JAC 10th Result 2016 is immense for both students and their parents.But we advise that everyone should consider all aspects and opportunities available for them before making a decision based on their score today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here’s how you can check your Jharkhand 10th Result 2016Steps to check your JAC Matric Result 20161. Visit websites: jac.nic.in or jharresults.nic.in2. Click on ‘Result X Class 2016’3. Enter your name, roll number, date of birth and other credentials required4. Click ‘Submit’5. Your JAC 10th Result 2016 will be displayed on the screen.6. Now, download your scores and take a print out for future reference.About JAC BoardThe Jharkhand Academic Council was constituted by HRD Department Government of Jharkhand on June 7, 2007.The Jharkhand Academic Council was established for holding and conducting examinations at the end of Intermediate, Education, Secondary Education, Sanskrit Education and Madrasa Education and for prescribing courses of studies for such examinations and for recommending for recognition of Intermediate Educational Institutions, High Schools, Sanskrit Schools and Madrasas to the State Government and for carrying out such other or duties assigned to the council by the State Govt from time to time.

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