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Necessary decisions in past would have avoided discomfort: PM Modi on demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a veiled attack on Congress for opposing demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the “sins” of benami properties would not have happened and people would not be standing in queues now had necessary decisions been taken in the past.”In 1988, Parliament passed Benami Property Act but it never got notified and implemented. The papers had got lost somewhere in a stack of files. It was me who re-opened it. Sins of benami properties would not have happened had the law been implemented,” he said after the inauguration of Pune metro. “Should I let the situation be as it is or should I change it? Should the wrongdoings be undone or not? If decisions were taken years ago, I would not have had to make people stand in queues. I have taken this step because I made a promise to save the country,” the Prime Minister said.Modi warned those possessing black money to come clean now or they will stand no chance to save themselves. “Some people thought all governments are the same and this government of mine will be no different. They thought they can put their black money in banks and convert it into white. Money did not become white but their faces turned black,” he said. “There is still time where laws can help you. Come on the right path and sleep peacefully. If not, I will not sleep. I have started this war against corruption, black money, terrorism, naxalism with a lot of ‘jigar’ (heart),” he said.The Prime Minister said that due to the demonetization decision, income of urban bodies have increased by 200-300 per cent and people, who were used to breaking rules at one point of time are now made to stand in queues. Modi said that urbanisation is taking place at a fast pace today and stressed on generating employment and improving the quality of life in villages to stop migration to cities. “Only then will the run from villages to cities will slow down. If we think in pieces and for immediate political gains, we can never overcome problems,” he said.The PM said the Centre has started with a ‘Rurban’ mission which focuses on ensuring that that villages close to cities have the soul of a village and facilities of a city. “Our Digital India campaign is not just meant for cities but for rural areas as well. We have decided to launch metro projects in more than 50 cities. Had we done so in bits and pieces, projects would have become costlier, more problems would have arisen and the projects would have had lagged even after we putting in money,” he said.Modi said benchmarks of development need to become modernise and transform with changing times. “Infrastructure is not just roads, rail and air transport but also highways and I-ways (information ways), for which we need an optical fibre network. We need to work on water grid, digital network, gas grid and space technology,” he said.Modi said Pune Metro should have been visualised and implemented much earlier. “Previous governments have left a lot of work for me to do,” Modi said. The development of phase -I of Pune Metro Rail Project, which will cover a total length of 31.25 km, is expected to provide the much needed connectivity to the commuters in Pune as well as neighbouring industrial town of Pimpri Chinchwad. The project comprises two corridors — Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC)- Swargate covering length of 16.589 km and Vanaz to Ramwadi with a length of 14.665 km.The project is scheduled to be completed in five years from the date of start of work as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR). The Project will be implemented by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MAHA-METRO), which will be a 50:50 jointly owned company of Government of India and Maharashtra government. The existing Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (NMRCL), a joint Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Government of India and Maharashtra government, would be reconstituted into MAHA-METRO for implementation of all metro projects including Pune Metro Rail Project Phase-1 in the state of Maharashtra outside Mumbai Metropolitan Region.The approved alignments are expected to provide the much needed connectivity to the commuters and would pass through some of the dense and traffic congested routes in the Pune Metropolitan Area.

Group fights gender gap in water use in Rajasthan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The mores of a patriarchal society make themselves evident in a number of ways —from rules about the conduct of women to gender imbalance in boardrooms. Women in Rajasthan, however, are battling a very different set of problems, one that concerns the use of water.A precious commodity in the desert state, water is first given to the men in the family to use, followed by household chores, even though it’s mostly women who fetch it after walking for kilometres. So much so that some women have to go without a bath in the arid region for days on end.Centre for Social Research (CSR), a non-profit organisation from Delhi, has been attempting to change that dynamic through its Water Conservation and Climate Change Training Programme for rural Rajasthan. The programme is being conducted across different villages in Sanganer, Bhimwal, and Sirohi, among other areas.The programme targets all orders of the hierarchy — from housewives to women representatives, including panches and councillors — to spread awareness regarding the connection between water and gender equality. The idea was the brainchild of CSR head Ranjana Kumari and Hanns Seidel Foundation, which is funding the project.Launched in 2013, the project has young members, all in the age group of 22-30 years, who cover more than 300 houses and over 30 clusters.“We came across some shocking facts during our need assessment surveys involving tribal women. For instance, even though they were the ones fetching water for the entire family, men would be given preference, followed by household chores. Some even confessed to going without a bath for days,” said Project Coordinator Ritika Bhatia. This imbalance spilled over into their personal hygiene and health as well, she added.During the course of the programme, the team also found that the women were not too forthcoming about the hardships they suffered. “They were visibly embarrassed. But they said that walking endlessly to get some water was a natural part of their lives,” said Bhatia, who further said that discussing this disparity was the project’s first step.The women were made aware of their rights and how they were equal shareholders in water consumption, limited quantity notwithstanding. The approach, however, was kept subtle and friendly, involving elders and elected representatives of the community. The four-module programme then moved on to the necessity of water conservation and the issue of climate change, with videos on health and hygiene interspersed in between.The efforts are already showing results, breaking down not only gender but caste barriers as well, claimed another team member Pratishtha Arora. “They have become more assertive in their demands for water. I clearly remember how a tribal woman forced the Gram Sabha to bring a water supply near her house, something which is not usual in Rajasthan, given their sharp caste dynamics and repressive environment,” she said.Almost three years into the project, the group said they have become more aware of the sheltered and privileged life they themselves lead. “We take so much for granted till we come across those who have nothing. I have realised how blessed I am after meeting these women and hearing their stories,” Arora said.WATER FOR ALLThe programme is being conducted across different villages in Sanganer, Bhimwal, and Sirohi, among other areas.It targets housewives to women representatives, including panches and councillors. The project has young members all in the age group of 22-30 years

Versova beach cleanup man Afroz Shah wins UN award

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was just a month ago when the massive air pollution in the national capital Delhi had raised serious concerns globally, over our preparedness to keep the environment safe amidst development. On Saturday, Afroz Shah, a Mumbai-based young lawyer made the country proud by winning United Nations Environment Award which underlines that alert citizens can make a difference in protecting the environment. Shah is in Cancum, Mexico at present where he received the award during a global conference on biological diversity. Shah is among five people and one agency in the world bestowed with the ‘Champions of the Earth’ award this year. He won under the ‘Action and Inspiration’ category for kick-starting a volunteer campaign to pick up, by hand, the leftover plastics, bottles, shoes and other garbage that covered the entire 2.5 km stretch of the Versova Beach in Mumbai. United Nations Environment Project (UNEP) has lauded the Shah’s efforts to lead the largest beach cleanup drive in the world as an example of the key role of citizen action in protecting the environment. Shah and his neighbour Harbansh Mathur (84) had started manually cleaning Versova beach in October 2015. The cleanup work soon grew into a massive movement getting hundreds of volunteers joining hands together. They segregated over 4,000 tons of garbage in a year. Shah and Mathur, who has since passed away, inspired volunteers to join them – from slum-dwellers to Bollywood stars, from school children to politicians. “Shah’s efforts, and the hundreds of volunteers he’s inspired, is a wonderful example of citizen action and reminds the rest of the world that even the most ambitious, global agreements are only as good as the individual action and determination that brings them to life. His outstanding leadership is drawing global attention to the devastating impacts of marine litter,” said UNEP chief Erik Solheim, who had joined Shah in the clean-up for a day in October. Shah now wants to clean up the coastline’s rubbish-choked mangrove forests, which act as a natural defence against storm surges, and to inspire similar groups across India and beyond to launch their own clean-up movements.

Demonetization: Karnataka suspends two senior govt officials after over Rs 5 crore seizure

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two senior Karnataka government officials were suspended on Friday in connection with the searches conducted by the Income Tax Department on their premises as part of the country-wide operation that has resulted in the biggest-ever seizure of cash in new currency.Bowing to the Opposition demand in the Karnataka Legislative Council, now in session in Belagavi, Home Minister G Parameshwara announced the action against senior engineers T N Chikkarayappa and S C Jayachandra who had come on the radar of tax sleuths along with two contractors.Chikkarayappa is Managing Director of Cauvery Neeravari Nigama (irrigation corporation) and Jayachandra, Chief Project Officer of the State Highway Development Project. The government would decide on the next step after a probe and getting information from the IT Department, Parameshwara said, adding, none would be protected and the guilty would be punished according to law. He also said it was not proper to link one official as being close to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the other to Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa, pointing out that they had worked for previous governments also. Over 50 I-T sleuths and police personnel had conducted the operations and searched premises in Bengaluru, Chennai and Erode (Tamil Nadu) with the Department on Friday saying the seizure of cash in new currency was over Rs five crore.IT officials on Friday said the cash found, after searches were launched on Thursday on the premises of two engineers and two contractors, has risen to Rs 5.7 crore and these notes are in the denomination of the new currency of Rs 2,000. “Total admission of unaccounted income by the group stands at Rs 152 crore. Investigations are on,” they said in New Delhi.Parameshwara said it was puzzling as to “from where Rs 4.7 crore came (in cash in new currency). It must have come from the bank only. How did they get it … from which bank.” He said the IT department should now find out as to how “so much money reached them” and take action after completing the relevant process. As the Council met, Opposition BJP and JD(S) members rushed to the well of the House alleging that government was protecting corrupt officers by not suspending them forthwith.Opposition BJP leader K S Eshwarappa raised the issue and said the state government had not taken any action against the two officials though the matter had come to the fore and demanded their immediate suspension pending inquiry. JDS’ Basavaraj Horatti also insisted on their suspension. Parameshwar later told the House that he had discussed the matter with the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary and announced the suspension.

Restocking Sahyadri for the tigers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To enhance the prey base for carnivores in the Sahyadri tiger reserve, state forest department officials are planning to restock the habitat located in the Western Ghats with deer. Senior state forest department officials said that they commissioned a study that would examine the relocation of ungulates from sites like Sagareshwar wildlife sanctuary, Katraj zoo in Pune and Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai which have sufficient population. The project is aimed at eventually enhancing tiger numbers in the Sahyadri tiger project. The reserve currently has around five to seven tigers, with no resident big cats. These numbers are low as the big cats do not breed there due to poor prey base in the Koyna wildlife sanctuary. A forest official told DNA that the herbivore restocking would see animals like sambar and chital being released into the habitat. “The two-year study will keep a track of the ungulate population and the feasibility of the relocation. Their landscape too will be mapped into grids,” he added. The area will have one male and two or three females released into each grid. “We will create water holes to attract herbivores and also undertake other habitat development works. This may lead to them migrating to the core area. If this does not increase the numbers, we may have to translocate and re-stock them,” the official said. A few deer were introduced in the reserve in 2014 from Katraj Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and the Sagareshwar sanctuary to boost the prey base. The forest department is now planning to relocate tigers from the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Project, Vidarbha to repopulate the reserve in this first experiment in the wild in Maharashtra.

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

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

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

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

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenously designed guided missile destroyer ‘INS Chennai’ commissioned in Indian Navy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday commissioned ‘INS Chennai’, the third indigenously designed guided missile destroyer in the Kolkata class, in Mumbai.Built at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd in Mumbai, the ship’s construction also marks the end of the Project 15A to build Kolkata-class guided missile destroyers.Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, was also present on the occasion.With an overall length of 164 metres and displacement of over 7,500 tons, ‘INS Chennai’ is one of the largest destroyers in the Indian Navy’s fleet.The ship is armed with supersonic surface-to-surface BrahMos missiles and Barak-8 long range surface-to-air missiles.The ship is going to be assigned to the western fleet after completion of some additional trials of systems deployed on it. It is the final destroyer ship in this class.The first ship of the class, named ‘INS Kolkata’, was commissioned on August 16, 2014, followed by ‘INS Kochi’ which was commissioned on September 30, 2015.The third destroyer will be placed under the operational and administrative control of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command.

India’s carbon emissions increased by over 5 % in 2015: study

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels increased by 5.2% while China’s decreased by 0.7 % in 2015, according to new research which found that global CO2 emissions remained nearly flat for three years in a row.India contributed 6.3 % of all global CO2 emissions, with emissions increasing 5.2 %, in 2015 continuing a period of strong growth, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK and the Global Carbon Project.Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels did not grow in 2015 and are projected to rise only slightly in 2016, marking three years of almost no growth, they said.The projected rise of only 0.2 % for 2016 marks a clear break from the rapid emissions growth of 2.3 % per year in the decade to 2013, with just 0.7 % growth seen in 2014.The data shows emissions growth remained below one % despite GDP growth exceeding 3 %. Decreased use of coal in China is the main reason behind the 3-year slowdown.”This third year of almost no growth in emissions is unprecedented at a time of strong economic growth,” Professor Corinne Le Quere, Director of the Tyndall Centre at UEA who led the data analysis, said.”This is a great help for tackling climate change but it is not enough. Global emissions now need to decrease rapidly, not just stop growing,” Le Quere said.China – the biggest emitter of CO2 at 29 % – saw emissions decrease by 0.7 % in 2015, compared to growth of more than 5 % per year the previous decade.A further reduction of 0.5 % is projected for 2016, though with large uncertainties, researchers said.The US, the second biggest emitter of CO2 at 15 %, also reduced its coal use while increasing its oil and gas consumption and saw emissions decrease 2.6 % last year.US emissions are projected to decrease by 1.7 % in 2016.The EU’s 28 member states are the third largest emitter causing 10 % of emissions. The EU’s CO2 emissions went up 1.4 % in 2015, in contrast with longer term decreases.Although the break in emissions rise ties in with the pledges by countries to decrease emissions until 2030, it falls short of the reductions needed to limit climate change well below 2 degrees Celsius, researchers said.”If climate negotiators in Marrakesh can build momentum for further cuts in emissions, we could be making a serious start to addressing climate change,” said Le Quere.The Global Carbon Budget analysis also shows that, in spite of a lack of growth in emissions, the growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration was a record-high in 2015, and could be a record again in 2016 due to weak carbon sinks.”Part of the CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean and by trees. With temperatures soaring in 2015 and 2016, less CO2 was absorbed by trees because of the hot and dry conditions related to the El Nino event,” Le Quere said.The study was published in the journal Earth System Science Data.

Delhi Pollution: Air quality improves marginally as wind speed picks up

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi’s air quality improved marginally on Monday as wind speed picked up dispersing the pollutants and the thick cover of hazardous haze that shrouded the city for nearly a week.However, monitoring agency SAFAR had 24-hour-average (rolling) level of respirable pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the ‘severe’ category at 622 and 808 micrograms per cubic metre respectively at 5 PM. The alarming levels of pollution failed to dissuade Chhat revellers though from bursting firecrackers early in the morning. The 24-hour-average Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was 423 as against yesterday’s 497 which was the season’s worst.The visibility also improved as the city witnessed sunshine after several days. “The air quality has improved due to a little increase in wind speed, although the wind direction continues to be north-northwest. By Wednesday wind speed is likely to increase more and wind direction will also be easterly which is likely to further improve the air quality and turn it very poor from severe,” Project Director of SAFAR Gufran Beig told PTI.The wind direction is important from the point of view of stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana which falls in the northest region. Wind blowing from that direction brings pollutant-laden smoke to Delhi. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s (DPCC) real-time readings displayed a downward trend cutting across its monitoring stations. The city’s pollution hotspot Anand Vihar had a PM 10 reading of 1640 micrograms per cubic metre at 4 AM. It came down to 580 by 5 PM while PM 2.5 was at 145 micrograms per cubic metre.At Punjabi Bagh, PM 10 came down to 214 micrograms per cubic metre at 5 PM from a high of 1270 recorded at 10 AM. Other stations like Mandir Marg and RK Puram displayed similar trends. PM 2.5 and PM 10 are ultrafine particulates, the dominant pollutants in Delhi, which has recently been described as a “gas chamber” by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.The 24-hour prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 respectively and prolonged exposure to anything beyond that harms the respiratory system and may cause cardiac complications.

India to get six new mega ports under Ministry of Shipping’s Sagarmala project

At least six new mega ports have been cleared to be built under the ambitious Sagarmala Project, taken up by the Ministry of Shipping. The National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the much talked about project envisions these new infrastructural facilities as part of its multi-pronged strategy to enhance India’s cargo handling capacity.

The Ministry of Shipping’s project, that aims to modernise India’s ports, is estimated to save up to Rs 40,000 crore per year spent on logistics by key industries.

According to the NPP, the greenfield ports are likely to come up at Sagar in West Bengal, Paradip Outer Harbour in Odisha, Enayam in Tamil Nadu and Vadhavan in Maharashtra. As part of the Sagarmala Project, detailed masterplans are being developed for all the new major ports.

The new Vadhavan port, estimated to cost around Rs 10,000 crore, will help ease the congestion in the present shipping capacity. Vadhavan currently handles about 40 percent of the total container traffic in India. The new port will be able to handle 40 to 60 million tonne of cargo every year, as per sources in the Ministry. The present capacity of the port is 4.16 million tonne per year.

A worker walks past a container ship at Mundra Port in Gujarat. ReutersA worker walks past a container ship at Mundra Port in Gujarat. Reuters

A worker walks past a container ship at Mundra Port in Gujarat. Reuters

The proposed Paradip Outer Harbour project, estimated to cost around Rs 8,200 crore, will be developed to facilitate the coastal shipping of thermal coal for power plants in Southern and Western India. The new port will have a capacity of 175.5 million tonne per year.

Similarly, the Sagar port, proposed to handle the overflow of traffic from Kolkata and Haldia facility, has received an initial grant of Rs 515 crores as viability fund from the Centre.

A special purpose vehicle, named Bhor Sagar Port Limited, has also been floated under the partnership of the Kolkata Port Trust and the West Bengal Government. The project is expected to incur an expenditure of Rs 12,000 crore and IIT Madras has been entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a detailed project report.

A new port, either in Machilipatinam or Vodarevu, in Andhra Pradesh has also been proposed to handle the thermal coal, cement and container cargo in the region. A similar facility, either in Cuddalore or Shikazhi, in Tamil Nadu is also being contemplated to handle the movement of thermal coal.

Enayam in Tamil Nadu has been selected as India’s future mega transshipment destination, aimed to capture the international business opportunity presently enjoyed by Singapore and Sri Lanka.

The new ports are likely to enhance India’s cargo handling capacity by 466 million tonne per year. As part of the Sagarmala vision, India’s cargo traffic handling capacity will be enhanced from 1,550 million tonne per year to 3,000 million tonne per year by 2025.

The rest 980 million metric tonne capacity needed to meet the target will be fulfilled by enhancing the capacity of major and non-major ports. The new infrastructural facilities will also help enhance India’s earning from the transshipment business. Currently, India loses a lot of foreign currency to Sri Lanka and Singapore due to lack of transshipment facilities.

A whopping 25 percent of the Indian cargo is transshipped in Colombo and Singapore. One of the major reasons behind this is that India’s biggest container port has a draft of just 14 m, whereas a capsize vessel requires it to be above 16 m to load and unload goods.

India’s cargo volume is estimated to rise by up to 2,500 metric tonne per year from the current evaluation at 972 metric tonne per year. Infrastructural enhancements are likely to ease the pressure on the existing facilities.

The new ports will also boost up coastal shipping, thus decreasing the dependence on transportation through railways and roadways. This is likely to cut down the inland transportation costs by up to 80 percent. Presently the country has 12 major ports.

Maharashtra govt sets up panel on climate resilient farming

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra government has decided to set up a committee under the chairmanship of a top bureaucrat for the implementation of a Rs 4,000-crore project on climate resilient agriculture.The programme aims to reduce farmers’ dependence on unpredictable weather cycles and enhance resilience of agriculture to climate change and vulnerability through research and use of technology. The seven-member panel, headed by the Principal Secretary (Agriculture), has been set up with a target of selecting 4,000 drought-prone villages for the implementation of the project, according to a Government Resolution (GR) issued two days ago.The committee would select 3,000 villages from eight districts of Marathwada region, while the remaining 1,000 will be chosen from six districts of Vidarbha, it said. The panel has been asked to select indicators related to weather, agriculture and social status of the villages from Marathwada and Vidarbha based on which they would be ranked.”The Marathwada and Vidarbha regions have been at the receiving end of climatic variations. Erratic showers and heavy spells have damaged crops very often in the last few years,” a senior officer of Agriculture Department said. “A climate resilient cropping pattern could be useful to minimise loss of crops. Unless there is a scientific approach to climatic variations, farmers can not sustain themselves,” the officer said.The Vice-Chancellors of Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Agriculture College, Parbhani, and Akola-based Panjabrao Deshmukh Agriculture University, State Agriculture Commissioner and Director General of Groundwater Surveys will be the among members of the committee. Director of the Project on Climate Resilient Agriculture would be the Member-Secretary, while Randhir Savarkar, MLA from Akola (East) would be the only non- administration member of the panel, the GR added.

Bengaluru’s steel flyover: SC lawyer seeks probe against CM Siddaramaiah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the heat over the construction of a steel flyover intensifies, Senior Supreme Court lawyer KV Dhananjay has alleged that the project is marred with corruption and demanded that a probe be initiated against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the state’s Development Minister, KJ George.”This project is an insult to the people of Karnataka because anybody who has ever constructed a house knows what concrete will cost and what steel will cost. This is a corruption project, and therefore, the honourable chief minister and the Development Minister KJ George should be criminally investigated for floating this corruption project. This is an act of massive corruption. The government has kept the whole project in a very secretive manner, it’s almost as if they are building some nuclear arsenal,” Dhananjay told ANI.Meanwhile, former IAS Officer M N Vijay Kumar claimed that important documents pertaining to the cost of the project has been suppressed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).”I have put the information on the internet. My demand is don’t suppress, take action and, I am sending a copy of all the documents to the registrar general of the High Court of Karnataka,” Kumar told ANI.On Thursday, Bengalureans approached the National Green Tribunal over the construction of the steel flyover which requires the axing of almost 812 trees. The green board on Friday put the entire project on hold for four weeks. The tribunal sought a detailed report from the state government on the environmental impact assessment before going ahead with the work.Earlier, citizens had met Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala seeking cancellation of the tender to Larsen & Toubro, who have been given the contract to construct the flyover.Meanwhile, the ‘tree vigil’ will commence from November, where citizen volunteers will hold regular day and night vigil on the stretch from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal to save the trees which are to be axed for the project.

Bengaluru steel flyover: NGT grants stay on project work for four weeks

Chennai: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday restrained the Bengaluru
Development Authority (BDA) from proceeding with the steel flyover project for four weeks.

Granting an interim stay on the flyover proposal that kicked up controversies, the NGT directed the BDA not to carry on with the project work for four weeks and posted the matter to 25 November for further hearing.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The tribunal granted interim stay on petitions from Neelaiah, Citizen Action Forum and others. The petitions opposed the project on environmental grounds.

The Rs 1,761 crore project of the BDA is to construct a 6.72 km long, six-lane steel flyover between Basaveshwara Circle and Hebbal to decongest traffic. However, the project faced opposition as it allegedly involved felling of over 800 trees. Farmers too had opposed the project. Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium too had reportedly said that ramps may block the view of the sky.

As protests mounted against the project, Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George had last week dismissed it as a “political gimmick” and it had taken the decision after consultations with experts and “due diligence”.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had defended the proposed construction of steel flyover calling it “totally transparent” and claimed the project was proposed in 2010 and announced in 2014-15 budget.

Combating climate change: India Inc increases focus on reducing carbon emission

Mumbai: Corporates are increasing focus on setting emission reduction and renewable energy targets besides putting up an internal price on carbon as part of risk mitigation, says a report.

According to CDP’s latest climate change report, as many as 47 firms on the BSE 200 index have disclosed information related to climate change as against 34 companies in 2010.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The report assumes significance following India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ratifying the landmark Paris climate deal earlier this month, giving a significant push for the agreement to come into force.

CDP, through a study of these 47 companies, has found that there is an increasing focus on setting emission reduction and renewable energy targets with 38 companies reporting current targets for a cut in emission.

About 15 of the 38 companies have short term emission target (till year 2020).

“Our analysis indicates that there is clear evidence of increasing focus on voluntary emission reduction targets and growing interest for renewable energy sourcing demonstrating long-term vision amongst companies,” CDP said.

The report noted adding that two companies, Infosys and Tata Motors, have committed to a 100 percent renewable energy consumptions target by 2018 and 2030 respectively.

Besides, it was found that companies are setting an internal price on carbon.

“In India, 15 percent of the responding companies currently put a price on their carbon emissions and 43 percent are planning to set a price on carbon within next two years,” the report said.

Further, CDP said the majority of the companies have at least one emission reduction initiative at implementation stage with the highest number of such steps from energy, materials and information technology sector.

Interestingly, companies saw a 57 percent jump in estimated monetary savings year-on-year from emission reduction initiatives.

The Paris agreement was signed in New York in April by 175 countries at the largest, single-day signing ceremony in history.

US, China, European Union, Brazil are the other biggest carbon emitters in the world.

The CDP (formerly known as Carbon Disclosure Project) is an organisation which works with shareholders and corporations to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions of major corporations.

Full text of Cyrus Mistry’s letter to Tata Group: My sacking illegal, invalid, will hurt company image

Full text of Cyrus Mistry’s letter to Tata Group: My sacking illegal, invalid, will hurt company image


Sacked Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry has said in a letter to the company board that the inherited problems of the salt-to-software conglomerate had pushed him  “into the position of a ‘lame duck’ chairman” and that he cannot believe with the he was removed on grounds of non-performance.

Cyrus Mistry. ReutersCyrus Mistry. Reuters

Cyrus Mistry. Reuters

CNBC-TV18 has got the possession the five-page letter sent on Tuesday, a day after the sacking happened. However, the TV channel has said that it has not independently verified the authenticity of Mistry’s letter.

Mistry argued in the letter that under his term, Tata companies’ net worth rose to Rs 42,000 crore from Rs 26,000 crore earlier. The group’s operating cash flows grew at 31 percent compounded annual growth rate.

According to him, a realistic assessment of 5 Tata companies, namely Indian Hotels Company, Tata Motors PV, Tata Steel Europe, Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project and Tata TeleServices, can lead to nearly $18 billion write-down.

He has also reminded the board that lack of explanation has led to all kinds of speculation and harmed his own and the group’s reputation.

You can read the entire letter below:

Cyrus Mistry by Firstpost on Scribd

Getting behind the lens

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Bollywood may be a so-called “privileged” field for the aspiring few in it, this does not deter other youth from trying their hand at the profession. There many who are studying or are just out of college, who are fascinated with film-making. To support this art form along with the overwhelming amount of young talent, we have Film Festivals provide both a push and the platform to showcase their talent.Here’s a short list of a few students who fit this bill:TEAM NOSTALGIATY: MUMBAIFrom a team of seven enthusiastic students, of at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai is Raashi Mètkari who assumes the role of cinematograher, Avinash Nongrum who takes care of production, Nilesh Chawhan who acts, Rahul Agarwal who is the assistant director, Simran Cherayil, a Production Manager, Mignonne D’souza who is the content head and Vivashwan Chaudhary who edits, writes and directs. The group worked on a film called “Year 2027”, which focused on water problems which could arise in the near future. “We researched and gathered a few statistics about water problems and then went out to shoot,” says Vivashwan. Participating in the Anvaya Film Festival, the Film won the place for Best Film.It was purely their love for filmmaking and the appreciation recieved for their work which kept them going. According to Vivashwan, among the many difficulties faced by college students who have a passion for making films is that of college projects and exams. Still, they continue to make short films such as “The Postmaster – A tale of incomplete letters” which was aired on Saam television last week to their utter delight.TEAM: ATRANGI THEATRE COMPANY: MUMBAITeam Atrangi Theatre CompanyLike their name the Atrangi Group participated in the India Film Project and were mandated to do a “sarcastic drama”. A team of 4, headed by Abirudh Kamble, an MBA student, made a short film called “Loan”. The story is of a young man loses his job and seeks refuge in his friends. Soon he gets a call from a bank offering him a loan of a few lakhs. Taking the opportunity he takes the loan and sets off on a journey fullfilling his “wish-list”. Although the story ends in suicide the team chose to parody it, rather than treat it with a sense of depression.TEAM NERDBOY: DELHITeam NerdboyThe Nerdboyis a team consisting of three students from St. Stephens College in Delhi. Kevin Missal, Ayush Dogra,Sanjeev Sikri who are pusuing their Bachelors in Arts have produced a short film called “Cracked “. The love story personifies the feeling of “being on top of the world”. When they sent the film to the India Film Project, a 50hour film-making competition they didn’t win. “We did not lose hope, we liked the film so much that we were happy that we made it.” says Ayush Dogra . The group continues to make films out of passion, which is the primary driving force.TEAM: IGNITED MIND ARTWORKSTeam Ignited Mind ArtworksA 14person complexity, it’s headed by Sudhanshu Saxena the director, who started his journey in what he calls “the rat race which is the educational system”. While in college he worked in ADD films and other commercial videos to generate income to fund his films. “I never chose fim-making, it chose me. Engineering was never my thing” says Sudhamnshu. He has the backing of a whole team who supports him by taking care of make-up, hair and other aesthetics while they shoot. The team refused to choose any one particular film as their best, however if had to pick one which was their favoriate, it would be “Smile” which depicted the problems of the woman at home when her man goes to work.

Swachh Bharat Rural Sanitation Project adapted from Egypt: World Bank’s Jim Yong Kim

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US $1 billion ambitious Swachh Bharat Rural Sanitation Project in India is an adaptation of a similar successful programme of Egypt, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has said while citing this as an example of sharing of global best practices.”Knowledge is flowing across the organisation and to our client countries, driving creativity and innovation,” Kim said in his address to the plenary session of the World Bank Group in Washington.He stated that the World Bank has successfully transferred knowledge and experience across regions. “Through our new structure of Global Practices, knowledge sharing across countries has become easier and faster. For example, when the Government of India came to the Bank to prepare a major programme to expand sanitation services for the poor, we were able to transfer knowledge and experience from Egypt’s Rural Sanitation Project and apply it in India,” he said.Kim stated that this sharing of knowledge resulted in the US $1 billion Swachh Bharat Rural Sanitation Project in India, which applied knowledge of good service delivery — in the areas of local governance, transparency and accountability to citizens — that had already been taken to scale in Egypt.”Thanks to our Global Practices, we are now working to share knowledge from these two projects globally. The changes we put in place were done for a reason: to help us better deliver results for you on the ground,” he said.”It’s important to note that as we were implementing these reforms, you showed your support with a record $52 billion replenishment of International Development Association (IDA). And you encouraged us to boost International Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s lending power through our ‘Margins for Maneuver’ programme,” he said, adding that the IBRD’s loan revenues will exceed administrative expenses in the next fiscal year for the first time in a long while.Citing another Indian example, Kim said he is encouraged by the work that the World Bank is doing now to crowd in private sector investment. “India has one of the largest networks of roads in the world, but the roads are overwhelmed — just 2% of its national highways carry 40% of traffic, causing bottlenecks that can limit productivity and slow economic growth,” he said.”In India, as in every other developing country, infrastructure is key to integrating economies and delivering services. To help improve India’s roads, International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested $250 million in the Singapore-based firm Cube Highways. The firm is acquiring a portfolio of toll roads in India, injecting much- needed funds for road developers to complete their projects,” the World Bank President said.

China’s dam on Brahmaputra: Even as Tarun Gogoi expresses concern, experts say no need to panic

Even though Tarun Gogoi, former Assam chief minister, wrote a letter to the prime minister on 18 September expressing grave concern over China’s declaration to block a tributary of Brahmaputra, experts are now downplaying the fears over the move by stating that the proposed block in the water flow to the Indian territory may not have a serious impact on the river after all.

Soon after Chinese news agency Xinhua declared that Tibet is going to block a tributary of Yarlung Tsangpo, Gogoi wrote the letter to Modi urging him to take up the matter with China as he felt that construction of such a dam over the Brahmaputra would adversely impact the downstream flow, ultimately crippling the economy of the state.

The Congress leader also went on to say that a dam on the upper reaches of Brahmaputra will cause grave concern for Assam as well as other parts of the North East.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

But, in spite of Gogoi’s concerns over the dam, experts are now presenting a different take on the situation. Dr Bhagwat Pran Dowerah, a geologist who has conducted extensive research on hydro-water projects and dams and was appointed as a member of the expert committee to study the impact of the Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project by the government, says that this fear emerges from the notion that Yarlung Tsangpo itself is the Brahmaputra.

“Yarlung Tsangpo is only a tributary of the Brahmaputra. The river Brahmaputra gets its name only after the three major tributaries meet,” Dowerah said.

“China has said that it is going to block a tributary of Yarlung Tsangpo. The river Yarlung Tsangpo, that is known as Siang in Arunachal Pradesh in India, contributes only 30 percent of water the Brahmaputra drains. Even this amount of water is not entirely fed by glaciers in China,” Dowerah said.

He pointed out that the foothills of Himalayas in North East India get much more rainfall than its upper reaches based in China. A major portion of the water in the Siang comes from these rains.

“Though there is no proper scientific study to show exactly what amount of water is generated in China to feed the river and what amount in India, still I do not think that blocking a tributary will bring a substantial difference to the water flow of Brahmaputra. For Brahmaputra drains much more water than we use from it,” Dowerah added.

“The said dam to be built in Tibet is about 42 megawatts of power. The amount of water to be blocked is 295 million cubic metre. We in India are envisaging projects bigger than that on the tributaries of Brahmaputra. For example, the Subansiri Lower Project aims to store 4.5 times more water than the dam in Tibet,” Dowerah said.

He also said that the only matter of concern here is that all the tributaries of the Brahmaputra originate in China. India needs a transparent treaty with China to ensure that the water needed here is not blocked by the neighbouring country.

“China has the right to build dams on the rivers that flow through it. But we need to ensure that we continue to get our due share of water. Only a water treaty can make it possible,” he said.

Environmentalist Chandan Dowerah, who has written extensively on issues related to environmental impacts of dams, questions the validity of protests raised against China’s move to build the dam on the tributary of Brahmaputra.

“We ourselves have made dams on the tributaries of Brahmaputra. But have we raised similar questions about the riparian rights of Bangladesh or even that of Indian states in the downstream of the river?” he questions.

Delhi Metro’s ambitious target for expansion includes 102 new trains, increased frequency

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Metro has set an ambitious target under which the frequency between two trains will go up significantly, ensuring a waiting period of not more than three minutes for commuters in almost all its sections.Out of the 19 stretches, the number of stretches where trains are available at a frequency of every 3 minutes or less is only three now.Metro authorities recently submitted a proposal to the Delhi government for the procurement of 916 new coaches, that translate to 102 new trains. It also includes the conversion of the existing four and six coach trains to six and eight coach respectively.The proposal, which awaits the clearance of the Centre and the city government, is aimed at tackling “extreme overcrowding” in the rapidly expanding network, that has seen an annual increase of 17.5% in ridership in the last five years.According to the Detailed Project Report (DPR), trains will run every 1 min 54 sec in the Kashmere Gate – Green Park stretch of Yellow Line, where the frequency is projected to be the highest.Presently, the frequency on Line 2, one of metro’s busiest corridors that connect Samaypur Badli to Gurgaon’s Huda City Centre, stretch between 2 min 13 sec and 8 minutes.The same will be 2 min 50 sec and 1 min 54 sec if the new coaches are pressed into service. On line 3/4, that connects Dwarka to Noida City Centre, train frequency will range between 3 min 38 sec and 2 min 25 sec.The number of stretches where trains are available every 3 minutes or less are only three now. If the new coaches are deployed, as planned between April 2017 and March 2021, the same will go up to at least 14.”The overall capital cost for the procurement of additional 916 cars including infrastructure facilities at January 2016 price level works out to Rs 13,284 crore. There is a persistent demand from all quarters including the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India that DMRC shall endeavour to run the trains with best possible frequency to meet the needs of the public transport in the city of Delhi,” the report prepared by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said.The metro has 227 trains in its fleet currently. The average daily ridership is around 28 lakh which occasionally crosses the 30 lakh mark and will significantly increase once Phase III becomes operational next year, for which a separate order of 486 coaches has been placed.The report says Line 2 and Line 3/4 have provisions for 488 and 574 coaches while the requirements are 672 and 816.

Ken-Betwa link: First project in grand river interlinking scheme is lose-lose for people and wildlife

Panna’s fate is sealed. The Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife, chaired by Minister for Environment and Forests, Anil Madhav Dave, approved a project to link the Ken and Betwa rivers.

The 1,645-square kilometres Panna Tiger Reserve is home to 30 tigers, and the River Ken, running south to north across the reserve, is its lifeline. A 220-km long canal will siphon off about 660 million cubic metres of water from the River Ken to River Betwa. A 77-metre high dam across the Ken inside the tiger reserve will submerge more than 100 sq.km of Panna’s forests, destroying tiger habitat and nesting sites of vultures. About 10 percent of the core area, or the critical tiger habitat, will go underwater as will 10 villages. This engineering feat was said to cost Rs. 9,000 crores in 2008. The current estimate remains unknown.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, the dam will irrigate 6,000 square kilometres in both states, provide drinking water to 13 lakh people, and produce 78 MW of power. To compensate for this loss of land, approximately 80 sq.km of barren land will be reforested.

In previous meetings of the Standing Committee, environment and wildlife experts argued for lowering the height of the dam. This would reduce the extent of forest to be submerged. But the water resources experts were not for it.

At the committee’s meeting held on 23 August, VB Mathur, Director of the Wildlife Institute of India, agreed that a smaller dam wouldn’t do. It might reduce its capacity by 32 percent. He also says the forest would be submerged for three months only and would remain dry enough for animals’ use the rest of the year.

The National Water Development Agency (NDWA) thinks connecting the two rivers would provide water to thirsty Bundelkhand. It says Ken has more water than the Betwa. Connecting the two is a win-win situation. But NDWA’s portrayal of Ken as water-rich is wrong, said a report by Himanshu Thakkar and Bipin Chandra Chaturvedi in 2005.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

This is how the Feasibility Report’s arithmetic goes. The full hydrology figures are still not public. The Feasibility Report assumes that one hectare of irrigated land in the Ken basin needs 5,327 cubic metres of water. While the same area of land in the Betwa basin apparently requires 6,157 cubic metres. Why do Betwa farmers need 16 percent more water is a mystery. These numbers appear to be pulled out of thin air. In fact the rainfall regimes for both river basins are similar. When one floods or faces drought, so does the other.

The NDWA also assumes only 57 percent of Ken basin is arable while the figure for the Betwa basin is 68 percent. Using these assumptions – lower water needs and smaller irrigated area in the Ken basin – the agency makes the case for surplus water in the Ken and deficit water in the Betwa, allege Thakkar and Chaturvedi.

The NDWA also plans to export 3,854 million cubic metres of water from the so-called deficit Betwa basin. If the area has low water, why would the agency siphon off water? Thakkar and Chaturvedi say if this volume of water isn’t extracted, Betwa won’t be water deficit. This artificially created shortfall is in the upper reaches of the Betwa, outside the Bundelkhand. In essence, the NDWA’s maths is based on manipulations and unscientific assumptions.

Besides, MP and UP are at loggerheads over this project. UP feels the interlinking project wouldn’t protect its investments in other dams along the Ken. It would reduce the potential of these dams to generate power and irrigate fields. In August 2005, UP, MP, and the Union of India signed an agreement to prepare the Detailed Project Report of Ken-Betwa link. Eleven years after that first agreement, the parties haven’t agreed on the project’s implementation. How is it going to start without such an agreement?

The Betwa basin has better options of obtaining water, says the Thakkar-Chaturvedi report. These don’t need the destruction of Panna Tiger Reserve or Ken River.

Panna is just regaining its lost glory. Poachers wiped the park clean of tigers in 2008. The authorities repopulated it with tigers from other forests. These cats established themselves and raised offspring. Today, approximately 30 tigers, cubs and adults, call the forest home. Panna has dug itself out of a hole to become a key tiger forest once more, an effort costing nearly Rs. 5 crores over five years. This investment and nurturing will be for nothing if the forest itself goes under.

Vultures suffered a catastrophic decline across the subcontinent for three decades. But the scavengers staged a comeback in Panna, one of the few such places in the country. The Ken is one of the 3 or 4 rivers with gharial, the iconic fish-eating crocodilian that is critically endangered. Central India has a scattering of small reserves and each is an essential part of the whole. Tigers routinely walk from one park to another. Tampering with Panna would unravel the achievements of the past years.

Now that the project has wildlife clearance, it needs environmental and forest clearances. Just as the Feasibility Report, the EIA, based on which the environmental clearance is given, is also shoddy. The final document submitted in July last year is no different from the previous draft. The NDWA’s submissions to the Standing Committee and the EIA present different areas for submergence. At least one activist plans to challenge the clearance at the National Green Tribunal.

By submerging a part of Panna, the project is shooting itself in the foot. This is the catchment of the River Ken. Destroy the forest and the interlinking project itself is compromised, a fact not foreseen by its EIA.

For all these reasons, this first project in the grand river interlinking scheme is lose-lose for people and wildlife.

Sand scarcity hits Mumbai’s first artificial beach project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The plan for Mumbai’s first artificial beach off Marine Drive faces a challenge due to huge shortage of sand. This was supposed to be one of the first reclamations in the city that was being undertaken for creating open spaces rather than real-estate projects.The project to extend the Girgaon Chowpatty beach further south to the iconic Queen’s Necklace and nourish the existing beach will require 1.5-2 million cubic metres of sand. While supply is already limited due to high demand and restrictions on mining, this sand has to be of the same quality as that on the beach.The around Rs 200-crore project is part of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded Sustainable Coastal Protection and Management Investment Programme (SCPMIP) to be completed by December 2019.Executed by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), it will control coastal erosion at vulnerable beaches and seashore using soft, environment friendly solutions.The 12 sites selected by the MMB for feasibility studies include Marine Drive, Aksa and Juhu beaches and Mahim Bay in Mumbai. Under the project, Marine Drive is supposed to get a beach, which is around 1 km longer and 200 metres wide, with a sand retention structure and offshore reef. It will cover a third of Marine Drive.”Marine Drive is our first priority,” a source said, adding this will have the beach being extended till the Marine Drive flyover with ungainly tetrapods dotting the stretch being replaced. It will add value to the largely saturated Chowpatty.”However, we require around 2 million cubic metres of sand,” the official noted, adding they needed to ensure that the “sand quality was up to the mark.” The source admitted that availability of sand of this quantity and quality posed a challenge in the project.While sand from Satpati river was considered, it did not match with the coarser sand at Chowpatty.The MMB is considering sand from creeks in the Konkan or from dredging blocked channels and rivers and sand located at low depths near beaches and imported yet expensive sand. Sand from crushed rocks can be used to reduce the need for high-quality sand. Though sand can be extracted from deeper seas, there are strict regulations governing it.Work on the Marine Drive project is expected to start in around two years and will be completed in around two working seasons.The source said that they would undertake work till the flyover and then consider extending the beach till the southernmost tip of Marine Drive due to reasons like possibility of litigation and sand availability.”The extension depends on the response from local residents,” he added. Lack of sand may also put a question mark on the viability of the project at the severely eroded Mahim Bay and the beach.There nourishment is proposed for creating a 100-metre wide and 2-km long beach. The Mithi river will have to be channelised and the water treated to prevent turbid discharge from entering the bay.MMB CEO Atul Patne said that they were considering sites and options for extracting sand. “We will study which sand can be used,” he added.The reclamation at Marine Drive will be done via sea with barges ferrying sand to prevent any impact on road traffic.Originally made up of seven islands, Mumbai has seen waves of reclamations, both legal and illegal. Most of these projects, like the controversial post-Independence Backbay Reclamation scheme, were real-estate driven.Mumbai’s area has increased from 437.37 sq km in 1991 to 482 sq km now due to reclamations.Despite pretensions of being an emerging international city, India’s financial capital is woefully short of open spaces. Mumbai has 1,052 open spaces, of which 186 are under adoption. Over 700 have been developed and 160 are being taken up by the BMC’s garden department.According to the BMC, with 2,968 hectares of open spaces, Mumbai has a per capita open space of 2.48 sq metres – lower than global cities like New York. However, the figure dwindles to 0.88 sq metres in some areas, since most open spaces allow only restricted entry.

Protest in Dhaka against Indo-Bangla power plant project near Sundarbans

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A citizens group in Bangladesh on Saturday held a day-long protest here demanding that the government cancel the proposed 1320 megawatt Indo-Bangla joint venture power plant near the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports asked the Bangladesh government to not proceed with the Rampal Power Plant Project as it will cause severe harm to the Sundarbans.It announced to hold several rallies in Dhaka and divisional and district headquarters throughout September, October and November in support of their demand. The protesters plan to submit an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after holding a protest march in front of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, the Daily Star online reported.Its member Anu Muhammad announced to hold “Cholo, Cholo Dhaka Cholo” protest march soon, to press home their demand. It will hold a grand rally in Dhaka on November 26.Earlier in the day, the committee started the sit-in programme demanding cancellation of all projects – including the power plant – that will cause harm to the Sundarbans. Eminent personalities of the country attended the protest.”Among the 16 crore people in this country, not even 1600 people are in favour of the Rampal power plant. The government ought to cancel this project,” columnist Syed Abul Maksud told the gathering.

Add four sanctuaries and extra buffer area to Panna, green ministry panel on Ken-Betwa

Addition of four satellite core areas, 8000 hectares of extra buffer area adjacent to the Panna Tiger Reserve, a possible reduction in the height of the Daudhan dam and an environment management plan of Rs.5073 crore are the chief mitigation plans the union environment ministry has put forth in the case of Ken-Betwa river linking project. An expert panel of the union environment ministry on river valley and hydroelectric projects had taken up Ken-Betwa’s proposal for environment clearance earlier this month and deferred it as issues pertaining to hydrology and wildlife remain unresolved.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rs.10,000 crore project proposes to link Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh to provide water for irrigation in parched Bundelkhand. Environmentalists have opposed the project on the premise that it will hamper Panna’s tiger population, a tiger reserve where the big cat had vanished in the past decade.According to detailed minutes of the meeting, the committee discussed at length recommendations of an expert committee who had visited Panna Tiger Reserve to assess the river-linking’s potential impact on wildlife and forests.The committee, formed on the directions of National Board for Wildlife, was comprised of government officials and independent wildlife experts. The expert committee, while recommending mitigation measures has played down the project’s impact on wildlife.This committee has recommended that four satellite core areas should be developed consisting of two wildlife sanctuaries each from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh has agreed in principle for inclusion of above Ranipur and Mahavir Swami sanctuaries while Madhya Pradesh is considering inclusion of Nauradehi and Rani Durgawati sanctuaries.The expert committee has also said that the Panna Tiger Reserve is facing acute shortage of water and due to creation of reservoir, its water regime will improve to a great extent. The expert committee though has not made any observation and remarks regarding the submergence of tiger habitat or impact of dam construction on Panna’s forest. It also goes on to say that the “construction of (Daudhan) dam will help Ken Ghariyal sanctuary situated in the downstream because of more ecological flow of water round the year from this dam.”After deliberations on the expert committee’s recommendations, the ministry’s expert committee asked the Wildlife Institute of India to expedite preparation of a landscape management plan. The committee also suggested that National Water Development Agency should consider dropping hydro-power generation component from the project. The project comprises of two powerhouses of 3x30MW and 3x36MW.

Nitin Gadkari asks officials to fast-track Yamuna boat service project, wants commencement by October

Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday asked officials to fast-track the project on starting a boat transport service on a section of Yamuna and see if it could be commenced from October.The Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, PWD Minister Satyendar Jain and Water Minister Kapil Mishra discussed the issue during a meeting in New Delhi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gadkari asked officers of his ministry to fast-track the project that seeks to start the boat service from Wazirabad to Fatehpur Jat and check if it could be commenced from October. Transport Ministry officials also raised the issue of building terminals on the banks where boats could berth.Gadkari said starting the project on this small patch in Yamuna would serve as a “model for the entire country” and also prove to be a boost to the waterways transport. Kejriwal too emphasised that the project would send the “message aloud across the country”. Officials from the two sides are expected to visit the sites in a day or two.Delhi government asked the Centre if 54-km Najafgarh Drain could be marked as an inland waterway Both sides discussed several pending issues, including dredging of Yamuna river in order to take up the project. Apart from it, progress on the work of decongesting the national capital was also taken up during the meeting.

Jammu region feels neglected under Mehbooba Mufti’s government, says BJP

Jammu: BJP, the alliance partner in Jammu and Kashmir government with PDP, on Monday said people of Jammu region are being neglected and discriminated despite repeated assurances from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

“The state government should honour the commitment made by former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and then by his daughter and the incumbent Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the equitable development of all the three regions of the state”, state BJP leader Virender Gupta said.

He said Mehbooba had assured of development of all the regions and that the differences and the alienation existing between people of Jammu and those of Kashmir Valley would be eliminated.

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“However, the fact of the matter is that the people of Jammu region are still feeling neglected and discriminated in the present regime,” Gupta said. He said the renovation work of Mubarak Mandi complex as Dogra Heritage is going on at a very slow pace and the ropeway project linking Mubarak Mandi with Bahu Fort is still in limbo.

“In the tourism sector, Jammu got merely 20-25 percent funds allocation and out of 13 newly identified tourist spots for development, Jammu has only four whereas rest are in Kashmir province”, he added. Gupta said that Jammu district which has 11 assembly constituencies was allotted Rs 200 crore whereas some of the districts having only one or two assembly constituencies have been provided almost same amount for the development.

This act is highly unjustified with no reasonable explanation, he added. He said that the Tawi Lake Project in Jammu which was scheduled to be completed in March, has been extended for two years. Gupta claimed no serious efforts are being made about the diversion of four streams carrying the city garbage in the Tawi river.

“In the allotment of indoor stadiums, out of 12 indoor stadiums envisaged only three are allocated to Jammu region and nine to Kashmir province with two in Ladakh. The BJP leader said the discrimination is being faced by the people of the region in the matter of development of roads, infrastructure, irrigation, agriculture and horticulture sector.

Gupta cautioned the government of a great resentment brewing among the people of Jammu province and therefore immediate steps need to be taken for the redressal of grievance of the people.

Clash between BJP mayor and MLAs delays Varanasi development plan

One and a half years on, not a single project under the Urban Development ministry’s heritage cities scheme has seen the light of the day in the prime minister’s Lok Sabha constituency. Persistent clashes between the BJP mayor Ram Gopal Mohale and party MLAs Shyam Deo Rai Choudhary and Ravindra Jaiswal over awarding contracts have led to a delay in initiating projects in Varanasi under the scheme.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The UD ministry is now directly intervening in the Varanasi project. The Centre has roped in the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) a central agency to handle municipal level projects.Under the ministry’s Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), 12 cities which attract religious tourism are to be developed into heritage cities. The projects involve strengthening road infrastructure, creating tourist conveniences including water supply, sanitation, drainage, waste management, street lighting and other citizen services.A fund of Rs500 crore has been sanctioned for the projects. For Varanasi alone, a corpus of Rs80 crore has been put aside by the ministry. However a year after INTACH had conducted a study and prepared the city plan, the city administration is yet to approve any project.Four projects including strengthening of two roads, development of Dashashwamedh Cultural walk and town hall redevelopment plan have been approved in the first phase. But a clash between the MLA Ravindra Jaiswal and Mayor Mohale over the awarding of contracts has led to delays in the project.”Both Mohale and Jaiswal have been stalling each other’s recommendations. Choudhary too has been playing a spoiler. As a result of their constant clashes and complaints against each other, no contracts have been awarded,” said a senior officer of the UD Ministry.While both the MLAs remained unavailable for comment, Mohale said that all was well between the municipal body and the MLAs. He even tried to shift the blame on the state government for the delay. “We do not have any individual interests. All of us are dedicated soldiers of PM Modi. BJP is working as a team,” he said.UD ministry has however chalked out a middle path. It has now roped in NBCC to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the projects. The agency will now take up construction work for the approved projects.NBCC is a central agency and is engaged by the government for undertaking central government construction projects. For schemes like the smart cities, HRIDAY and AMRUT projects the states are asked to select their own agencies and make their own plans. But Varanasi is an exception. “Smart cities and AMRUT are centrally sponsored schemes and so the states have to choose their consultants, but HRIDAY is a central sector scheme. In sector schemes, the ministry can get involved,” explained the ministry officer.

‘Enough of this joke’: NGT pulls up Delhi Jal Board over pollution in Yamuna

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal, on Monday, came down heavily on Delhi Jal Board (DJB) over the construction of a waste water treatment plant at Delhi Gate drain and summoned its engineer to explain why untreated water was still going into the Yamuna.

A bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, also directed DJB to provide details of planned expenditure in the current fiscal with regard to the water and sewage sector.

“Why was the Delhi Gate drain not properly planned? You had assured us that not a single drop of untreated water will go into the Yamuna. Still 25 to 30 percent of waste water is going into the Yamuna. We will not allow you to waste public money like this. Enough of this joke,” the bench said, while monitoring the implementation of its ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project’.

File photo. AFP.File photo. AFP.

File photo. AFP.

In order to keep the Yamuna river clean, DJB had last year started trial run of its newly constructed 15 MGD waste water treatment plant at Delhi Gate Nalla.

According to DJB, the plant, which is odourless and functions on clean fuel, has been constructed at a cost of Rs 204 crore. The waste water treatment plant aims to tap highly polluted water from Old Delhi areas.

The tribunal had earlier taken DJB to task for spending money on Yamuna without its permission and directed it not to spend a “single penny” on the rejuvenation of the river without its approval.

It had also directed DJB not to surrender the amount allocated to it in the last fiscal for rejuvenation of Yamuna to the Delhi government and asked it to spend the funds for implementation of its ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project’.

We welcome Indo-Pak peace talks as we are the victims of hostilities between the countries: J&K govt

Jammu:  Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday welcomed the resumption of Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan saying the peace process is quite significant for the state.

The State cabinet met under the chairperson-ship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti here. “The State cabinet welcomes the resumption of foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan and the lead role played by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in carrying forward the peace process, which has significance for the whole region specifically for Jammu and Kashmir, which has been the main victim of hostilities”, Education Minister and state government spokesperson Naeem Akhtar told reporters here.

“We look forward to sustained effort to bring peace in the region and J&K in particular,” he said. Replying to a question whether Pakistan should investigate the Pathankot terror attack and cooperate with India, Akhtar said, “Who denies that?… we do not deny that.. Both countries have to do it.”

The Cabinet also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s efforts to revive the peace process in the region. “The Cabinet observed that while peace process between India and Pakistan is of great significance for the whole South Asian region, it has the greatest impact on Jammu and Kashmir which faces the maximum brunt because of Indo-Pak hostilities,” Akhtar said.

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

He said the Cabinet authorised the Department of Industries and Commerce to work out the modalities for establishing banking facilities for cross-LoC trade. “This follows the go-ahead from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to institutionalise the cross-LoC trade through a proper banking mechanism and doing away with the present barter system,” he said.

Akhtar, who is also the state government spokesman, said the Cabinet gave its nod to develop tourism infrastructure at selected border points in Jammu and Kashmir for promotion of border tourism.

“To begin with the government has decided to develop tourism infrastructure at Suchetgarh and Chamlyal in Jammu region,” he said. Akhtar said the Cabinet approved setting up of an Aadhaar-based mechanism for ascertaining the actual number of persons who have been temporarily engaged in various departments between 2009 and 2014 and their skill levels.

In another important decision, he said, the Cabinet also approved a road map for implementation of the interest subvention scheme for flood-hit traders under PM’s Special Package. The identified flood-affected traders would get five per cent interest subsidy on the loans availed from banks during the next four years with a slab of Rs 5 lakh loan amount.

The Minister said the cabinet also approved enhancement of the honorarium of village numberdars and chowkidars. Honorarium of numberdars has been enhanced to Rs 1,501 from Rs 751 and that of Chowkidar to Rs 1,500 from Rs 750.

The Cabinet, he said, also approved reorganisation of the state’s Planning and Development Department to properly channelise the development funds and ensure its gainful utilisation. He said the P&D Department will have five divisions ─ Development Strategy Division, Project Formulation Division, Area Planning Division, Project Monitoring and Evaluation Division and Coordination Division.

The minister said the Cabinet approved bringing KPS service under the ambit of the Cabinet Sub-Committee, formed for cadre review and other related issues of KAS. The Cabinet also approved induction of officers from various feeding services into KAS.

India willing to share tigers to help Cambodia, experts call for caution

At the conclusion of the third Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation India signalled that it is willing to share its Bengal tigers in countries such as Cambodia where the animal has no viable breeding population.Translocation and reintroduction of tigers has never happened between two countries. “We are willing to provide all co-operation in this regard and the idea will be taken ahead when all issues are looked at,” said Prakash Javadekar, union minister for environment, forest and climate change.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per World Wildlife Fund, tigers are “functionally extinct” in Cambodia as there is no breeding population left. India on the other hand has 2,226 Bengal tigers constituting 70 per cent of the global tiger population as per the 2014 population estimation exercise. Though the two countries engaged in conversation on this issue at the global conference, Cambodia is yet to officially move a proposal requesting India to consider sharing its tigers.”The Eastern highlands are conducive for tiger reintroduction in Cambodia. By way of this global conference, we have begun talks with India on this issue. But before submitting any proposals to India we will have to look at the feasibility of reintroduction,” Ty Sokhun, Secretary of State, Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries told dna.While India is home to the Bengal or royal Bengal tiger sub-species of tiger Cambodia had the Indochinese tigers, also found in neighbouring Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Tiger experts said that a plan to reintroduce tigers from India in another tiger range has to be thought out carefully since its success depends on numerous factors.”Elaborate planning and background study is required for such a proposal. First of all, the recipient country needs to have suitable habitat and prey base to sustain tigers from another sub-species. If that is not available then reintroduction will fail. The beginning of a conversation on this reintroduction is welcome but it should be done only when all the necessary checks are carried out,” said Rajesh Gopal, secretary general, Global Tiger Forum and former head of Project Tiger.Panna a successfulIn India, Panna Tiger Reserve has successfully managed a full-scale translocation and reintroduction programme after all but one tiger was left. The reserve got four females from other tiger reserves along with two males to mate. Today, Panna has more than 30 tigers.

Population rebound: India is now a proud host of nearly 2,500 tigers, says Prakash Javadekar

New Delhi: Efforts to save the tiger have pushed India’s population of the big cat to nearly 2,500, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday, hailing the strides the country has made in this regard.

Highlighting the need for protecting tiger corridors, he announced incentivising project proponents to give land for compensatory afforestation in Tiger corridors.

As per latest official count, India is home to 2,226 tigers, representing 70 per cent of the global population of the endangered big cat species.

“In the last two years, the number has risen and our rough estimate as of today is that India has nearly 2,500 tigers.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“That is a good news for India… (a result) of what we are doing for the last 12 years. We have zero tolerance towards poaching,” Javadekar said at the inauguration of the 3rd Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation.

He said that as per World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates, the tiger population the world over has grown from 3,200 to 3,890 in the last five years, a 22 per cent increase.

“That is a great good news today morning,” he said, adding that there are only 13 countries with tigers in the wild and six of them have seen an increase in their numbers.

“That shows that we are getting success. It was a proud moment for me when we had undertaken a tiger count in 2014… When I wrote 2,226 as India’s tiger count it was fantastic as it was 30 per cent more than the last count. This is 70 per cent of the world tiger population,” he said.

Stating that the tiger epitomises the health of the ecosystem, he stressed that success with tiger conservation means the whole ecosystem is improving.

“We are taking a historic decision to protect tiger corridors. By such measures over the years, we can free the tiger corridors and these will become forest land,” he said.

“We have started a unique experiment with new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for orphaned tiger cubs. This has started yielding results and four such orphaned tigers have been released back into the wild after proper care in ‘in situ’ enclosures,” he said.

Javadekar lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s commitment towards tiger conservation and said he had adopted the best conservation practices during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

“The growing number of lions in Gujarat is a testimony to his efforts,” the minister said.

He also referred to the increase in the budget for Project Tiger from Rs 185 crore to Rs 380 crore, adding that, with the 60:40 participation of states, this increase translates to Rs 500 crore in one year for tiger protection.

Chairman of the Global Tiger Forum and Minister of Agriculture & Forests, Bhutan, Yeshey Dorji, also addressed the

Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ashok Lavasa, delivered the vote of thanks.

Kolkata flyover tragedy: 10 IVRCL officers sent to police custody

A city court on Monday remanded to police custody till April 15 the ten arrested officials of Hyderabad-based IVRCL which was building the Vivekananda Road flyover that collapsed last month.The order was passed by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Bankshall Court Madhumita Basu.They have been charged under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The arrested are the construction company’s Director Operations Gopal Krishnamurthy, Deputy General Manager of Project Monitoring Cell (PMC) S K Ratnam, Assistant General Manager Mallikaarjun Rao, Assistant Manager Debjyoti Manjumdar and Structure Manager Pradip Kumar Saha.The others are Project Manager Tanmoy Sil and senior engineers Shyamal Manna and Bidyut Manna and Manager (Civil Execution) of IVRCL, Niloy Roy and Assistant Vice-President of Project Monitoring Cell (PMC) and administration of the Eastern Region Ranajit Bhattacharjee.Twenty-six people were killed and around 89 were injured as a portion of the Vivekananda Road flyover collapsed on March 31 in busy Burrabazar area.

Maharashtra: Shivaji Memorial to be completed in stipulated time, says CM Devendra Fadnavis

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday expressed hope that work on the memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji would be completed in stipulated time.”We got all the permissions which were pending since 15 years, in just 12 months and all the work will be completed in stipulated time,” he said while inaugurating the Project office and Emergency Management Plan Cell for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial in Arabian sea.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As announced we are committed to build this grand memorial in 40 months, the chief minister said, adding a project consultant is also being appointed.Prime Minister Narendra Modi would perform ‘Bhumipujan’ for this memorial soon, he said.

Latha Rajinikanth launches programme to help street children in Chennai

Every year hundreds of children go missing. In 2015, 656 street children reportedly went missing of which 305 were girls from Chennai.On Sunday, Latha Rajinikanth launched Project Abhayam in the city to find missing street children and protect them. At the event organised by Dayaa Foundation and Citizen Platform to launch the programme, actor Lawrence who is very active in social service, stated that he was working towards educating street kids. He said that in 2015 they had requested the SBOA school to give 200 seats to street children and they had. He hoped that they would offer the same number of seats this year too. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The event was launched on Sunday with the aim of finding two missing children, Rokesh (8 months old) and Charanya (9 months old). Rokesh’s mother spoke at the event stating that her eight-month old went missing when they were sleeping on the street and that the police is now looking for the child. The five winners of the World Street Child Games from Chennai were announced as the brand ambassadors of Project Abhayam. At the event Latha Rajinikanth said they were working on finding the missing children and that the winners of the World Street Child Games Usha, Ashok, Silambarasan, and Hepzibah were the ambassadors of the project. “We hope to protect the children and provide security to them,” she added.Usha who took part in the World Street Child Games recently stated that they were not treated with respect because they were from the street and they had gone through terrible situations.Yamini Kannappan, a psychiatrist at Cauvery Hospital, also added that children who go missing and are rescued go through trauma and need to be cared for once they return.

Maharashtra project to radio collar Vidarbha tigers

In a first of its kind study in central India, Maharashtra forest department has launched a project to radio collar tigers in Vidarbha, to monitor their movements and dispersal. According to officials, the study will help in the protection of the corridors used by these felines to move from one forest area to another.Senior forest department officials said that the state government had written to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) asking them to study the dispersal and movement of tigers using radio collaring. Recently, two male cubs of tiger T6 at the Umred-Karhandla tiger reserve were radio collared and WII experts are expected to radio collar 13 more big cats from other tiger reserves.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Forest officials affirm that this is the first time that such a project is being done at this magnitude as tigers from six reserves in Maharashtra, including Tadoba, Melghat, Pench, Nagzira, Sahyadri and Bor, could be collared for the study.A senior Forest official said the project could prove to be a shot in the arm for saving the tiger corridors, which are under severe threat, thanks to urbanisation, as well as mining and other projects. “Once the study is out we will know the important corridors used by tigers,” said an official adding that the corridors can then be given same status and protection by amending the current laws.”Adult tigers move from one area to another. The study will help understand their movement patterns,” said MS Reddy, chief conservator of forests and field director of the Pench Tiger Project. “The project will study the dispersal of tigers, their movement, identify the corridors etc. Identifying the corridor also help in reducing the man-animal conflict,” said Reddy.The Rs 1 crore project will be executed by WII experts Bilal Habib and Parag Nigam where the collared felines will be monitored for two years, depending on the battery life of the collars. Two tigers from the Tadoba Andhari tiger reserve (TATR) were also radio collared last year. Though this had the same purpose, it is not part of the new project.Fact CheckMaharashtra has 6 national parks, 47 wildlife sanctuaries, 4 conservation reservesEstimated tiger population: Around 190 (census report of 2014)India has 2,226 tigers (census report 2014), up from 1,706 in 2010Benefits & concernsA radio collar is a belt fitted with radio transmitter that emits signals that can be tracked and is put around the neck of a tiger. Over a period of time wildlife researchers believe that radio collaring is one of the best ways to study tiger behaviour and its movement. There were even claims that radio collars cause deaths and was a reason for them not breeding but these have been denied by experts.

MRVC, WR differ over PMO-monitored 6th track project deadline

MRVC, WR differ over PMO-monitored 6th track project deadlineAre the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) and Western Railway not on the same page when it comes to the Prime Minister’s Office-monitored work to construct a 6th line between Mumbai Central and Borivali? It seems so. While MRVC officials insist that the deadline for the entire project is March, 2019 — that is three years from now — WR officials who spoke to dna said only the part between Borivali to Bandra Terminus is to be completed by March 2019. WR’s contention is that the segment between Bandra to Mumbai Central is to be completed by March 2021. WR and MRVC are jointly working on the project as part of the phase 2 component of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The diversion of views between two city-based railway agencies on something as important as the construction deadline reflects badly on a project that is supposed to be on the list of Pragati projects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. dna in its January 14 edition had highlighted how the Rs918 crore project to have a 6th rail line between Mumbai Central and Borivali, had been included in the list of projects that will be directly monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office under the Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) scheme. The Pragati scheme was launched by PM Narendra Modi in March 2015 and comprises a three-tier monitoring mechanism — the PMO, the union secretaries and state chief secretaries — to fast-track important development projects.A senior MRVC official agreed that the March 2019 deadline was a stiff one but reiterated that it remained for the entire stretch and not for any segment as contended by WR. “WR has not intimated us about any change in deadlines or segment-specific deadlines,” the official said.In fact the project getting ‘Pragati’ status has brought about positive changes as reported by dna in its March 23 edition. One of the biggest parts of the project had already begun with preparatory work being done for the new Harbour rail flyover. The flyover, 886 metres long at a cost of Rs36 crores, will replace the current Harbour flyover between Bandra and Khar. The new flyover, because of its being longer, will allow leeway to WR to create space for a 5th and 6th line between Bandra and Khar. The current flyover and its pillars are too close for any space for the two new lines, said officials.The project is among the most important for WR as it will allow complete segregation of long-distance and suburban trains between Mumbai Central and Borivali. This will mean that WR will have four lines to run suburban trains and two lines — 5th and 6th — to run long-distance trains. Plus two lines as harbour lines on the flyover. Currently WR runs its long-distance trains on a line called the Suburban Train Avoidance (STA) track — also called the 5th line — a track on which trains can run in both directions. Since this 5th line is missing between Santa Cruz and Mahim, there is pressure on suburban lines and a resultant loss of punctuality on the part of local and long-distance trains.

Ladakh may get world’s largest telescope

The world’s largest telescope project may come up in Ladakh after facing hurdles in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, which was the first preferred choice.Hanle in Ladakh has reportedly been shortlisted for the $1.47-billion project by Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) International observatory, reported a leading daily.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”After the February meeting, the board has decided on two prospective sites – Hanle and another in Chile. Yes, it was an unexpected turn for the project which got delayed due to the decision of the Hawaiian supreme court,” TMT India programme director B Eswar Reddy told the daily.
ALSO READ China rushes to finish world’s largest telescopeThe Hawaii Supreme Court had in December 2015 cancelled the permit issued to TMT for constructing the observatory following claims that the plot in Mauna Kea was sacred, the report said.”Meanwhile, the project is also looking for prospective sites both in northern and southern hemispheres, including Hanle,” he added.India is reportedly expected to invest $212 million in the project. Meanwhile, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bengaluru and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, along with two government departments – the department of science and technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) – have been working on the project since 2013.

Here’s how Project Udaan is empowering women entrepreneurs in rural India

A Chinese proverb goes, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. It would be fair to associate this approach to Enactus, a not-for-profit student-run international organisation. The student groups from different countries of the world create business models to empower the less privileged sections of the society while solving social issues.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Enactus Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), University of Delhi, is working towards empowering women entrepreneurs in rural India while imparting digital education to the villagers through Project Udaan. As part of the project, which started in 2015, six women entrepreneurs in the villages of Mavikala, Suhana, Khurrum Pur in Uttar Pradesh and Mubarakpur, Jahangirpur, Gijarodh in Haryana will be trained to run a computer centre and also impart computer education. The project has the potential to impact more than 600 students.Enactus SSCBS is raising money on the crowdfunding site, Ketto to acquire the computers. “We procure second-hand computers from corporates and people. We refurbish them, make them workable and use them to set up the labs,” says Roli Tandon, one of the 60 members of Enactus SSCBS. Project Udaan successfully ran its pilot in the Kaloi village of Haryana. The revenue generated from running the cyber café will be earned by the women. “We do not believe in doing charity but making people stand on their own feet,” states, Roli. She adds that their model is such that they reach the remotest areas of India. “These villages that are so small that even the government doesn’t tap them.”To help similar causes, log on to Ketto – a platform to raise funds for social, personal and creative causes.

PM Narendra Modi praises Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday again praised Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu for carrying out reforms in the public transporter.”No one has given attention to the reforms being undertaken in railways till now. Those who talk of big reforms can see how much changes have come in the Railways,” Modi said at the launch of Setu Bharatam Project.Prabhu has unleashed a series of reform measures to make the Railways a financially viable organisation.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While steps have been taken to constitute a regulatory authority to decide on fares and also to give a level playing field to private investors in railways, a separate Railway Planning and Investment Organisation will be formed to work out various investment opportunities.Railways will also set up a holding company for all Railway PSUs for better coordination and consolidation in fiscal matter.Prabhu has announced launching of seven missions to take forward activities with time bound targets. Missions are for switching over to 25 tonne axle load, increasing speeds, accounting reforms, commissioning 100 sidings/private freight terminals in 2016-17, preparing a blueprint of utilizing the network once DFC is commissioned, zero accident for safety and for procurement and consumption efficiency.Modi had also praised Prabhu on Friday for accelerating the pace of development of railway infrastructure network while replying on President’s Address in Lok Sabha. PM had compared the money spent on rail projects, such as laying of new lines, doubling, gauge conversion and electrification and commissioning of new lines during UPA’s 10-year rule and NDA’s two-year period to counter opposition’s barb on his government’s performance in the House.”The average yearly spending for development of railways during 10 years of UPA was Rs 9,291 crore and it was Rs 32,597 crore in our two years,” PM had said adding “How much new rail lines were laid? During UPA-I, the average was 1477 km… It improved slightly during UPA-II to 1520 km and during NDA it is 2290 km.”Defending Prabhu’s decision not to announce new trains in the Railway budget, Modi said that earlier trains were announced in Parliament to get claps from a few MPs but now the focus in railways has changed to laying new lines, gauge conversion, electrification.

Environment clearance for Ken-Betwa project to get delayed

The Centre’s wait for Ken-Betwa river linking project’s environment clearance (EC) has got longer as the Union environment ministry’s expert committee has questioned the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to overrule its own senior wildlife officers who opposed state wildlife clearance for the project. While appraising the project for EC earlier this month, the expert committee on hydroelectric projects and river valley projects observed that director, Panna Tiger Reserve and even state chief wildlife warden were against giving a wildlife nod for the project. Soon after he opposed the project, R Sreenivas Murthy, the former director of Panna Tiger Reserve was transferred to Kuno wildlife sanctuary.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The committee noted, “Panna tiger reserve had not recommended the project, as per the agenda of the Board (State wildlife board) meeting and the board had over-ruled him and approved the project without recording detailed reasons for such rejection.”Further, HS Kingra, vice-chairman and member of the expert committee made observations regarding the project’s potential impact on the Panna Tiger Reserve and the breeding grounds of vulture. “It was seen that submergence of 4141 hectares of the PTR is a serious issue and need to be studied by some independent expert committee and the findings of such committee be placed before the MP State Wild Life Board (MPSWLB) and NBWL.”Questioning the Madhya Pradesh State Wildlife Board’s (MPSWLB) decision to overrule senior wildlife officers of the state, Kingra added, “How and what expertise the MPSWLB had over and above the technical advice rendered by Director Panna and state chief wildlife warden of MP is not clear from the minutes or agenda notes place before the MPSWLB. It is understood that as per convention and the extant Rules of Business of the State Government the SCWLW must be the chief technical adviser to the Government of MP on matters related to wildlife.”In the backdrop of opposition from senior wildlife officers to the project, Kingra suggested that an independent committee of three experts should be formed by the environment ministry to give specific recommendations regarding submergence of the tiger reserve and habitat loss of breeding vultures. The suggestion was accepted by the expert committee. The committee subsequently also decided to look at granting the project environment clearance only after the Centre has considered it for final wildlife clearance.The Ken-Betwa river linking project’s primary objective is to provide irrigation for 6.35 lakh hectares in Panna, Chhattarpur, Tikamgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba and Jhansi districts of Uttar Pradesh. It will submerge 9,000 hectares of which 5,258 hectares is forest land including 4,141 hectares of the Panna Tiger Reserve. A total of 10 villages consisting of 1,585 families are likely to be affected by this project and the total cost is about Rs 9393 crore.

West Bengal Elections: CM Mamata Banerjee showcases her government’s ‘achievements’

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said her government has created employment opportunities for 68 lakh youths besides creating 98 crore mandays in the state despite “financial hardships”.”We have created employment opportunities for 68 lakh youths despite financial hardships. We have created 98 crore mandays”, Banerjee said inaugurating a host of development projects here ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in the state. Urban development was getting a major boost with new projects, she said. The three projects under Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) included a treated water supply project in Uluberia, an electrical crematorium at Shatamukhi Ghat in Ulubaria and a bridge over Beleghata Canal at the junction of Harinath Dey Street and Canal West Road.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The chief minister also inaugurated Adivasi Bhavan and Lepcha Bhavan in New Town, to uphold the culture and tradition of these communities. A centre for supporting weavers of ‘muslin’, lightweight cotton cloth, has been set up in Krishnagar, Nadia district, as a part of Project Muslin. Among other projects inaugurated were State Institute of Hotel Management in Durgapur, the renovated Mahajati Sadan, the decorated gate of Nakhoda Mosque, one water supply projects at Dhapa and another at Garden Reach.The chief minister flagged off several bus routes covering the entire State and praised a new township project, being developed by a private party in Uttarpara at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore. “We have ushered in a revolution in the transport sector. 1500 buses and 15000 taxis have been introduced in the last 5 years,” she said adding “Today we have started 126 new bus routes for North and South Bengal.””When I was the Railway Minister, I sanctioned 10 railway factories in West Bengal, besides several Metro Rail projects. The Metro projects will be completed in three to four years and the traffic problem will be solved,” she said. “We have started the Lepcha Development Board, and boards for the Tamang, Bhutia and other communities. We will set up another one for the Adivasis of Terai,” she added. Stating that Budget for the Minority Development Department has been hiked four times, Banerjee said her government has also introduced reservations for OBCs and minorities.

West Bengal: Sonagachi sex workers getting ready for TV soaps, films

A section of sex workers in Sonagachi here, considered Asia’s largest red light area, is all set to begin a new phase in their lives armed with training in acting, dancing and singing for a career in films and television soaps.Several girls who were rescued by NGOs after being forced into flesh trade, sex workers who want to leave the profession and children of sex workers are now undergoing a workshop training programme where they are being trained by professionals in the ABC of acting. The project christened ‘Muktir Alo’ (Light of Freedom), a pet project of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is aimed at bringing back the sex workers and their children to the mainstream . “This is a second phase of the rehabilitation programme for the sex workers and their family members and those girls who have been rescued from the flesh trade. In this project we aim to train them in dancing/ acting and singing, so that they can get an opportunity in movies and serials,” state women development and social empowerment minister Sashi Panja said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier the government had brought in various rehabilitation schemes such as vocational training, workshops on sewing, weaving. But those projects couldn’t gain much popularity as they were not financially lucrative.Panja said that her department and coordinators of the project have already spoken to several film and serial producers and directors in order to provide the sex workers who are being trained in acting, to get their first break. Apart from acting lessons, the girls are also being given classes in spoken English.

Nestle India grants 6-month maternity leave to its women employees

With an eye on empowerment of its women employees, Nestle India today announced new initiatives, including extending maternity leave to six months, while re-looking at its entire recruitment process for better representation of women across levels.On the new steps, Nestle India Chairman and Managing Director Suresh Narayanan said: “The increasing ambition to seek diversity means that Nestle is constantly reviewing workplace facilities, enabling measures and pro-active sensitivities to the needs of our women colleagues as they traverse different stages of their lives.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Higher recruitment of women, nurturing talent and retention programmes as well as the revised maternity policy, all seek to provide “nuance, sensitivity and a favourable work environment to women colleagues who choose to be mothers some day”, he added.Under the new initiative, Nestle India has extended its maternity leave policy to six months effective February 1, 2016, from 18 weeks earlier, while granting adoption leave for six weeks with full pay and benefits for all permanent women employees.Besides, a paternity policy has been introduced with a leave of five working days with full pay and benefits for all permanent male employees, including blue collar, the company said in a statement. Nestle India said since 2014, it has ICC (Internal Complaints Committee) across its all 12 units with the presence of an external member for prevention of sexual harassment.”At Nestle, we have a very strong belief and commitment to increasing diversity in our business operations, factories, R&D centres and offices, which is articulated in ‘Project Harmony’. We seek to strengthen our company through whole-hearted commitment to, and practice of, managing diversity,” Narayanan said.Explaining the rationale, he said: “One of the key socio-economic opportunities of the 21st century is the increasing role, involvement and contribution of women to the fabric of economic progress that is transforming the world.”Indeed the recruitment, nurturing and successful utilisation of women in the workforce is the edifice on which economic success and sustainability of businesses is predicated.”On recruitment, the company said one of the key focus areas has been to increase representation of women in the field force. Nestle India said potential women workforce is given a chance to work with a nutrition/sales officer for a day to understand the challenges in the role, before joining the company. Flexibility has also been provided with regard to travel and stay for women in the field force.”Campus hires and mid-career hiring of women employees have also been an area of emphasis and resulted in significant achievements,” it added.Besides recruitment, nurturing key women talent and strengthening the diversity of talent pipeline through robust career and development plans supported by mentoring have been put in place, Nestle India added.

Tamil Nadu to set up 800MW ‘supercritical’ coal based power plant

Chennai: Tamil Nadu government has set the ball rolling for establishing the state’s first 800 mw supercritical coal-based power plant, with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa laying the foundation stone for the Rs 6,000 crore project.

Public sector unit BHEL has been awarded contract for the Rs 6,376 crore project which will come up at Athipattu in Tiruvallur district over 250 acres of land, the government said today. Jayalalithaa laid the foundation stone for the project on Friday.

“This is the first time in Tamil Nadu that a 800 mw unit is being established under the supercritical technology. The project will be completed in August 2019 and 19.2 million units of power a day will be generated,” an official release said. In the first phase, BHEL has been awarded a Rs 2,759 crore contract towards taking up works relating to Boiler, Turbine and Generator, besides engineering, procurement and construction, among others, it said.

Jayalalithaa gave away the work order to BHEL MD Atul Sobti. The release said the project was part of state government’s efforts to make Tamil Nadu ‘power-surplus,’ even as demand for electricity, which was key for agricultural and industrial growth, was also increasing.


Centre inks RS 1,000 crore loan agreement to clean Pune’s Mula, Mutha rivers

The Centre on Wednesday signed a loan agreement of Rs1,000 crore with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for cleaning Pune’s highly polluted Mula and Mutha rivers. The agreement will be monitored under the National River Conservation Plan.As part of the agreement, the JICA will fund a soft loan of Rs990 crore at an interest rate of 0.30% per annum and the project cost will be shared between Centre and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in the ratio of 85:15, respectively. The Centre has to repay the loan in a period of 40 years which includes a 10-year grace period. JICA is an autonomous body of the Japanese government and it aids developing countries with financial assistance.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It has already committed to fund the ambitious projects such as Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor, phase-III of the Mumbai Metro and the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link sea-bridge project. With the help of JICA’s funding PMC, the project’s implementing agency, will construct 11 new sewage treatment plants (STPs), lay 113.6kms of sewer lines and revamp four existing intermediate pumping stations. This will augment the STP capacity by 396 million litres/day (MLD) over the existing capacity of 477 MLD.According to ministry officials, the project completion target is 2022. Along with creation of STP’s, the project also involves construction of 24 community toilet blocks in slums and fringe areas and GIS mapping of sewerage facilities.The rivers both originate in the Western Ghats and join to form the Mula-Mutha river that eventually meets the east-flowing Bhima River. Both Mula and Mutha have been dammed and are sources of drinking water for Pune. The rivers are two of the 302 most polluted river stretches of the country identified by Central Pollution Control Board.Discharge of untreated domestic and industrial waste water, garbage dumping and open defecation on the banks have been the main causes of pollution in the rivers. In fact, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s latest water quality data shows that high concentration of fecal coliform bacteria in the both rivers.With the help of JICA’s funding, the union environment ministry aims to reduce this pollution load and improve water quality in both rivers.

Forest nod for Devsari dam in Uttarakhand shelved

An expert panel of the Union environment and forest ministry has deferred forest clearance for the 252MW run of the river Devsari hydro electric project (HEP) in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand as concerns over wildlife, religious importance of the project site and cutting down of a sizeable forest area remained unresolved. The Devsari HEP is located on Pindar River, the only northward bound Himalayan Rivers in India, and it is one of the main tributaries of Alaknanda River according to environment ministry data.Dewal, along Pindar is also a revered religious site as a part of the Panch Prayag or confluence of five rivers.The Devsari project is one of the 74 HEP’s proposed in the Alaknanda River basin, according to the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People. The bigger HEP’s in the Alaknanda River basin such as Devsari have faced a lot of local protests following the Uttarakhand disaster of 2013.While appraising the project, the expert panel on forests observed that the project, controlled by Sutluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited, requires felling of 7,434 trees spread across an area of 197 hectares of forest land.Though the project does not directly fall inside or in the 10-km radius of a wildlife protected area, the vulnerable Himalayan Black Bear and endangered Snow Leopard are found in the higher reaches of the forest to be cut down. Besides, the near threatened Himalayan Tahar species and musk deer too are found in this region.The forest panel noted that these animals would be affected by the project. The clearing of the forest area for the project would in fact acutely impact wildlife as it will the nearest protected area is at a considerable distance. The expert forest panel did not recommend clearance for the project as it felt that more studies were required for wildlife issues and along with it, it asked the project proponent to explore the possibility of shifting muck disposal site to non forest land.The project proponent was also asked to look for new sites to carry out compensatory afforestation and was also told to prepare a sound relief and rehabilitation plan.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Mumbai: Largest slum in Asia- Dharavi gets ready for a makeover

In the 18th century, Dharavi was an island with mangrove swamp. Daravi is the historical spelling of the area. A century later Koli fishermen started living here and then it was known as the village of Koliwadas. As urbanisation became a norm under the British Raj the city’s population then reached around a million. The urban area then covered mostly the southern extension of Mumbai peninsula. Most parts of Mumbai faced acute shortage of housing and serious problems with the provision of water, sanitation and drainage. Residential areas were segregated in Mumbai between European and ‘native’ residential quarters. Unsanitary conditions plagued Mumbai, particularly in the so-called Native Town. In 1869, as with 19th century epidemics in European slums, plague spread in Mumbai and then across most of India. The epidemic killed nearly 2,00,000 people in Mumbai and 8 million in India. In 1880s, concerned about epidemics, the British colonial government expelled polluting industries and many Indian residents of the Native Town, away from the peninsular part of the city, to a distant edge of the city in the north in the village of Koliwadas. Thus was born Dharavi.DHARAVI & MOVIES
Slumdog Millionaire, Kaminey, Businessman, Dharavi, Aamir, Traffic Signal, No Smoking, Bhoothnath Returns, Nayagan, Bombay, Footpath, Salaam Bombay, among others.DHARAVI & INDUSTIRES
Pottery, snacks, leather goods, rubber and plastic recycling units, scrap, electronic waste, handicraft, garments, embroidery, papads, foundries, restaurants, sweet-making, soap and detergent factories, bakeries, kite making, export oriented units, printing press, suitcase, umbrella manufacturing, etc.COMPLEX STRUCTURES
Each structure or shanty in Dharavi has more than one family residing. Ground floor is occupied by the legal owner, but the floors above have been rented out. These families staying above aren’t eligible under the project. Additionally, another complication is many ground floor structures have been divided into two (by putting partition) due to division in the family.STATISTICS
AREAS ELIGIBLE (RESIDENTIAL): 300sqft + 50sqft (From Fungible FSI)
TOTAL SECTORS: 5 (Sector 5 being developed by MHADA. One building ready)
ESTIMATED COST: Rs5,000-7,000 crore per sector by the developer
STRUCTURES: 59,165 (As per 2008 study); 1,20,000 (Estimated figure By Dharavi representatives)
AREA: 550 acres
POPULATION: 12,00,000 estimated
TEMPLES: 200-250
11,453: Sector-I
14,427: Sector-II
12,653: Sector-III
11,245: Sector-IV
09,387: Sector-V
45,859: Residential
330: Residential-Cum-Commercial
12,976: Commercial and Industrial
56,668.58: Primary School
56,668.58: Secondary School
39,200.00: Dispensary, Maternity Homes & Polyclinics
1,000.00: Welfare Centres, Gymnasium & Community Hall
1,000.00: Library
3,990.00: Fire Station
1,330.00: Post Office
3,990.00: Police Station
15,694.00: Retail Market
700.00: Police Chowky
0.06: BEST Bus Station
1.30: BEST Receiving Station
0.37: Pumping Station
0.30: NID & Industrial Training Institute
1.84: Parking Lot
6.32: Recreational Open Public Spaces
4.81: Recreation Ground
2.50: Play Ground
3.20: Mahim Rajiv Gandhi Nagar
0.22: Potters Institute
2004: Dharavi Redevelopment Project Announced
2007: Expression of Interest called and received response from 19 developers
2008: Survey of Dharavi completed
2009: Master plan of Dharavi Redevelopment Project completed
2010: Out of 19, only six developers continued to show interest in the project
2011: Bidding process terminated and master plan scrapped
2013: Draft of new master plan at par with Development Plan prepared
2014: The revised plan submitted to the state government
2014: Slum regularisation cut-off date extended to 01/01/2000
2016: In-principle approval received from state government to go ahead with developing 4 sectorsTIMELINE: INCREASE IN TENEMENT AREA
2004: 225 sqft
2012: 275 sqft
2014: 300sqft
2016: 350sqft

Ateeq Shaikh

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DDCA row: Delhi government probe panel unconstitutional and illegal, says Centre

Jaitley had on December 21 filed the criminal defamation case against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders for allegedly defaming him and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of up to two years in jail.

dna Web Team

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