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Thane: Third body recovered from landslide site

Sat, 24 Dec 2016-06:16pm , Thane , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With recovery of a body of a 27-year-old youth on Saturday morning, the death toll in the landslide mishap at Ghodbunder area of the city has climbed to three, official from Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) said. Chief of the Regional Disaster Management Cell (RDMC) Santosh Kadam informed that the body of the victim Lokeshwar Vishwakarma (27) which was trapped under the debris was pulled out by the rescue team and sent for postmortem. The land caved in at the site burying the workers who were working at the spot on Friday afternoon.A total of seven persons were safely pulled out of the debris after the landslide at the construction site. In a related development Kasarwadavali police have booked the owner of Gayatri Constructions and others following the mishap in which three lives were lost.

RBI truck carrying new notes penalised by RTO for overloading

Mumbai: A container truck hired by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to carry demonetised currency notes from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh to Nagpur, was stopped at Deori border check-post in Gondia district and penalised for overloading, by the Regional Transport Office (RTO).

The action was taken on Tuesday night and Rs 30,000 fine was collected from the driver, an RTO official said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The container had the capacity to carry 16 tonnes of load, but we found that the it was carrying 21 tonnes. The vehicle was filled with scrapped notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination, which it was transporting to RBI’s currency chest in Nagpur,” Vijay Chavan, Deputy Regional Transport Officer of Gondia district told PTI on Friday.

The vehicle was stopped by local officials posted at Deori check-post.

“The vehicle papers and other necessary documents were verified. We received a communication from Transport Commissioner based in Nagpur that the vehicle can be released after the payment of fine,” Chavan said.

“As per the calculation, the driver was asked to pay a fine of Rs 30,000, as the container was carrying five tonnes above the permissible limit. The officials issued a receipt of the fine payment and the vehicle was let off,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:55 IST

Up to Pakistan whether it wants to allow SAARC Summit to happen: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a strong message to Pakistan on SAARC Charter Day, India on Thursday said it was up to that country whether it wants to stop cross-border terrorism and allow the SAARC Summit to take place.Today is 31st Anniversary of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and 32nd SAARC Charter Day. Asserting that the SAARC member countries, while pulling out of the Summit to be held in Pakistan in November, had maintained that the atmosphere was not conducive because one particular country in the region is promoting cross-border terrorism and interfering blatantly, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the conditions remain the same.”In this case the SAARC Summit cannot happen,” he said, adding “it is up to Pakistan to say that it decides not to hold SAARC Summit and is ready to give it up to any country that wants to host it. And the things can go forward.” Amid heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack in which 18 soldiers were killed, India had announced its decision of pulling out of the Summit in September, citing increased “cross-border” attacks.Apart from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet, resulting in its collapse.However, Swarup reiterated India’s firm commitment to the eight-member regional bloc. In his message, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, “While SAARC has, albeit survived, it has not triumphed as had been envisaged, falling behind on the commitments and the promises that we had set out to achieve: progress and prosperity for the common good of our people.”

Deep depression over southeast Bay of Bengal has intensified into Cyclone Nada: IMD

A deep depression over the southeast Bay of Bengal has intensified into Cyclone Nada, according to a circular issued by India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Cyclone. 380

Graphical representation of Cyclone NADA. India Meteorological Department

Light to moderate rainfall is expected at many places, and it is expected to begin in coastal Tamil Nadu from Wednesday evening. But heavy to very heavy rainfall is also expected in parts of coastal Tamil Nadu on 1 and 2 December. Light to moderate rainfall at many places with isolated heavy showers is very likely over Kerala over the weekend.

The depression over the Bay of Bengal has moved northwestwards over the past six hours with a speed of around 15 kilometres per hour. It has intensified into a deep depression, around 830 kilometre southeast of Chennai, 780 kilometre southeast of Puducherry and 490 kilometres southeast of Trincomalee (Sri Lanka), according to the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre for Tropical Cylones Over North Indian Ocean of the IMD.

Sea condition would be rough to very rough along & off Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts from 1 st December onward. Damage to thatched huts is expected. According to the circular issued by the IMD’s Earth System Science Organisation, the deep depression over southeast Bay of Bengal moved northwestwards during past six hours with a speed of around 25 kmph.

The system is very likely to move west-northwestward, intensify further and cross north Tamil Nadu coast between Vedaranniyam and Puducherry, close to Cuddalore by early hours of 2 December.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 14:55 IST

Enrol JEE aspirants for Aadhaar on priority basis: UIDAI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Unique ID Authority of India has directed all registrars and enrolment agencies associated with it to enrol applicants of CBSE’s Joint Entrance Examination on priority basis.”UIDAI has directed all its Registrars and enrolment agencies to enrol JEE applicants on priority basis,” UIDAI Chief Executive Officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey said in a statement. CBSE has made Aadhaar card mandatory for JEE applicants. In its order dated November 26, CBSE said: “All the Indian citizen candidates should possess Aadhaar card issued by UIDAI. At the time of filling application form of JEE (Main) 2017, the candidates will have to enter their Aadhaar number, name, date of birth & gender which will be validated with the UIDAI’s data.”UIDAI has already issued more than 108.27 crore Aadhaar numbers to the residents of India. In the age group of 5-18 years, 24.3 crore Aadhaars (69.5 per cent) have been generated as of November 15, 2016. “In order to facilitate Aadhaar enrolment on priority basis to the JEE applicants, UIDAI has asked all its Regional Offices to make necessary arrangement of Aadhaar enrolment facility at all its Aadhaar enrolment Centres and also at the facilitation centres in each city of examination being set up by the CBSE till the last date of application,” Pandey said.No payment should be charged by these centres from the applicants for Aadhaar enrolment, he added.

Moderate earthquake of magnitude 5.0 hits North Eastern states

Shillong: A moderate earthquake, measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale, rocked the North Eastern states on Tuesday, an official said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

There were no reports of any casualties or damage.

The tremor was felt at 7.40 am with an epicentre located in Assam’s Karimganj district bordering Bangladesh, an official of the Regional Seismological Centre in Shillong said.

The seven North Eastern states — Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur — are considered by seismologists as the sixth major earthquake-prone belt in the world.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 09:39 IST

National Herald relaunches with an internet edition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The fear of losing prime property in the commercial heart of the national capital forced the Congress to launch the Internet edition of its newspaper National Herald. The Associated Journals Limited (AJL) owners of the newspaper had earlier planned to revive print edition – which had died a slow death seven years ago, to mark the birth anniversary of its founder Jawaharlal Nehru on Monday. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday tweeted to greet the relaunch of the National Herald on the web. “A fitting tribute to Pt Nehru on his 127th birth anniv! Wishing team @NH_India the very best in this new innings,” he said.In a statement, the AJL said, “In keeping with the changing times, the newspaper group resumes phased publication as a multimedia outlet with a strong digital presence.” The statement stressed that the digital websites will follow the same editorial vision and principles as that of its founder Nehru who launched the daily in 1938 as the vanguard of the Indian freedom movement.The company, which is owned by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, treasurer Motilal Vora, and other Senior Congress leaders, said the newspaper will remain committed to furthering the values it has always cherished as the best values of the freedom movement – that of building a modern, democratic, just, equitable, liberal, and socially harmonious nation, free of sectarian strife.But insiders said at the centre of the party’s ‘media initiative’ was to save the prime Herald House at the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, often known as Delhi’s Fleet Street with the offices of major newspapers. The building had been leased out to AJL – of which the Gandhis are majority shareholders – for the newspaper business alone. With the papers going out of print in 2008, the urban development ministry had sought an explanation from the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son on why the lease should not be cancelled.Alarmed at the prospect, the Congress started drawing plans to revive the newspaper to mark the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru. Last year, during a routine inspection of buildings, the Land and Development Office of the urban development ministry found that there is no newspaper office on the premises. The ground and the first floors of the building house the Passport Seva Kendra of the Regional Passport Office of Ministry of External Affairs. The other two floors have been rented out to Tata Consultancy Services. The fourth floor also has an office of Young Indian, another entity of the Congress party. The owners are getting a rent of approximately Rs.1 crore a month.

Pollution levels back to Diwali days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It could have been mistaken as an aftermath of an intense dust storm or even a dystopian future. But, on Saturday, Delhi resembled both. The Capital woke up to a sun diminished behind a shroud of acrid air that refused to clear off through the day and evening. While some thought that the worst was behind them after Diwali, air quality was as bad, if not worse, on Saturday.Pollution of particulate matter smaller than 10 (PM10) and 2.5 (PM2.5) micrometers, respectively, soared as the day progressed and touched a peak of 17-18 times above the safe limit.The alarming levels of pollution prompted the Centre to convene another meeting with neighbouring states on Monday. The earlier meeting was on Friday. After the Union Environment Secretary met top officials from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, Environment Minister Anil Dave is now slated to meet Environment Ministers from these states.On Saturday, there was a slight drop in daytime temperatures and still wind exacerbated concentration of pollutants and led to a ‘smoke haze’ condition. According to the Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Met office and the Met department’s regional weather centre, visibility dropped to a low of 200m on Saturday morning, though it was not worse than 50m recorded earlier this week.When visibility is less than 1 km and relative humidity is less than 75%, it is reported as smoke haze or dust haze, depending on the type of pollutants. At Safdarjung, the maximum visibility during the day was 400 m and at Palam it was 700 m.Usually, it has been seen that PM2.5 and PM10 levels peak early morning and reduces gradually. But, on Saturday, particulate matter remained high early morning and soared mid-day, real-time pollution data showed. At Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, RK Puram and Anand Vihar, PM10 levels soared beyond 1000 micrograms/metre cube (ug/m3), reaching a peak of 1,700 ug/m3 at Mandir Marg and Anand Vihar between 2pm and 4pm. This was 17 times the same limit of PM10, 100ug/m3.Similarly, PM2.5 levels peaked mid-day and were 12 times above safe limit. At Mandir Marg, PM 2.5 levels touched 820 ug/m3, while at Punjabi Bagh and RK Puram, it was above 795 ug/m3 and 770 ug/m3, respectively.Many scientific studies have indicated that there is a close, quantitative relationship between exposure to high concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 and increased mortality and disease conditions. PM2.5 poses several health hazards upon inhaling as they are able to penetrate into lungs and enter the bloodstream.It can also cause short-term eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, running nose and shortness of breath. Doctors also claim that exposure to PM 2.5 is associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. Met officers, though, said that conditions may improve after Monday.”We expect improvement in air quality after Monday as a change in wind pattern will facilitate dispersion of aerosols,” said a Met officer from the Regional Weather Forecasting Centre, Delhi.(With inputs from Neetu Chandra Sharma)

Kerala media writes open letter to CJI to resolve standoff with lawyers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Regional Committee of the Indian Newspaper Society and the Kerala Television Federation have written an open letter to Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, appealing him to resolve the stand-off between mediapersons and lawyers in the state. The letter, carried on page one of all major dailies today, said, “A huge blot left by a section of the legal fraternity has blurred the transparency of the judicial process even as grand preparations for the diamond jubilee celebrations are on.”The CJI is on a visit to the state to attend the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Kerala High Court.Welcoming him on the occasion of the state’s 60th formation day today, the letter said the actions of a section of legal fraternity have seriously affected the excellent relations t​hat prevailed till recently between the judiciary and the media in the state.The letter recalled a series of incidents played out by a section of lawyers following the reportage of an incident involving government pleader Dhanesh Mathew Manjooran who had allegedly misbehaved with a woman in a crowded street here. Such incidents were a blot on the legacy of judiciary in the state which has benefited from the timely intervention of many illustrious judges whose vision and perspective had given Kerala a right roadmap to evolve as an enlightened society with good legal literacy, it said. Recalling a meeting the senior representatives of the Kerala media had with the CJI in New Delhi, the letter said, “We all were immensely hopeful of an early solution post this meeting. But unfortunately precious little has changed on the ground”. “This bleak scenario is continuing inspite of intervention of Governor Justice P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, various international press associations, senior leaders of all socio-political organisations and prominent citizens,” it said.The letter also cited an incident in which journalists were hounded out of the Chief Justice’s court in Kerala High Court the very next day after a third communique reassuring media of hassle-free entry and reporting, signed by the registrar general, was sent to the media houses in the state. “At the Vanchiyoor court in Thiruvananthapuram, sadly, again in the presence of the judge, journalists, including women, were booed and manhandled and elbowed out of the courtroom,” said the letter. PTI

No more water woes for Tamil Nadu? North east monsoon arrives

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The much awaited north-east monsoon, normally expected in October-November, has arrived in Tamil Nadu and is expected to bring good rains in various parts of the state in the coming days, Meteorological department said on Sunday. “Following the rainfall in Southern region during last 24 hours, north-east monsoon has arrived today”, Regional Meteorological Centre, Director, Balachandran told reporters in Chennai.In the last 24 hours beginning from 8.30 AM on Sunday, Thiruvaiyaru in Thanjavur district received heavy rainfall of seven cms, he said. Valangaiman, Perambalur and Thozhudur received rainfall of six cms respectively, during the last 24 hours, he said.On the forecast for next 24-48 hours, he said, light rainfall may occur across Tamil Nadu while in interior districts may receive heavy to very heavy rainfall”. For Chennai and neighbourhood, he said, there may be intermittent rainfall in some places.Last year, there was heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu in October and December causing heavy floods in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Cuddalore districts.

With 42% increase in trade, India-NZ agree to amend Double Taxation Agreement

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and New Zealand decided to amend the bilateral tax treaty and expressed commitment to work towards a comprehensive free trade agreement with a view to boost economic ties on Wednesday. The two sides also vowed to press for successful negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), said the joint statement issued after the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with New Zealand counterpart John Key. The two-way trade between the countries stood at US $1.8 billion, showing an increase of 42% in the past five years.”The Prime Ministers expressed their wish for greater bilateral trade and investment,” said the joint statement. The two countries also agreed to amend “the bilateral Double Taxation Agreement to bring its tax cooperation provisions into line with international best-practice”.India has been revising double taxation avoidance pacts with countries with a view to check tax evasion and bring them in line with OECD norms. As regards the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the statement said both sides committed to work towards a “high-quality, comprehensive and balanced bilateral FTA which would deliver meaningful commercial outcomes to both sides.They vowed to ensure that India and New Zealand contribute to a high-quality, comprehensive outcome to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, of which both countries are parties. The RCEP talks started in Phnom Penh in November 2012.The 16 countries account for over a quarter of the world’s economy, estimated to be more than US $75 trillion. The 16-member bloc RCEP comprises 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.At their meeting on Wednesday, the two countries also announced conclusion of a Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement to encourage greater coordination between New Zealand and Indian food safety authorities, and supporting more efficient trade in food products, the statement said.

Pakistan likely to attend Heart of Asia-Istanbul conference in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan is likely to attend a key regional conference on Afghanistan in India. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul ministerial meeting is scheduled to take place in the first week of December in the Indian city of Amritsar.Pakistan’s participation in the meeting was doubtful after New Delhi refused to participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which was to be held in Islamabad in November, in a bid to globally isolate Pakistan post a terrorist attack on an army base camp in Jammu and Kashmir, reports the Express Tribune.However, officials familiar with the development have said, “There is a growing sense among the stakeholders that Pakistan should attend the Heart of Asia-Istanbul conference,” as he pointed out that there was no point of boycotting the conference since it was about Afghanistan. “As we have stated repeatedly that Pakistan will support every endeavour that contributes towards peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he added.However, it is unclear as to who will attend the conference. The official said Pakistan’s participation in the meeting would convey a ‘loud and clear’ message to the world that it was in favour of reaching out to its neighbours for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.Foreign ministers from 14-member countries, including Russia, China and Turkey, are expected to attend the daylong conference meant to discuss the current Afghan situation and possible initiatives the immediate and extended neighbours of Afghanistan could undertake to restore long-term peace and stability in the war-torn country.Senior officials from 17 supporting countries, including the United States, will also participate in the meeting to be jointly presided over by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

UDAN explained: Will fare cap, subsidy woo ‘everyone in hawai chappal’ to fly?

New Delhi – Regional airlines, carriers which connect capital cities of states with smaller cities within a region, have never really flourished in India. The most recent example of how these airlines are floundering is Air Pegasus. India’s safety regulator DGCA has already de-registered all the aircraft of the airline after financial troubles forced it to suspend flights indefinitely.

Some other regional airlines also seem to be struggling to continue operations. In this backdrop, the launch of UDAN, a regional air connectivity scheme, is a significant milestone in India’s quest for bringing more aam aadmis on to the aviation map.



This ambitious scheme offers subsidy to airlines to mount flight to those of India’s airports where either no scheduled flight operates today or where the frequency of flights is very limited. It also mandates that any airline availing of the government’s subsidy should cap fares on identified routes to Rs 2,500 per hour of flying. For helicopters, this cap is Rs 5,000 for an hour of flying.

It is likely that air passengers departing from bigger metro airports are asked to fund this ambitious regional connectivity scheme through a small levy on tickets, which will be collected in a fund. States governments and airport operators are also required to chip in with incentives to make the scheme work.

An Air Pegasus, which under the current scheme of things, gets no subsidy to mount flights to less lucrative routes, may find it more viable to operate regional flights under UDAN.

As of today, there are 16 airports across India which are underserved – this means they service only up to seven flights a week. These airports may see much more activity after the launch of UDAN. So it is possible that flights may be mounted by airlines to Jorhat and Tezpur in Assam, Jamnagar in Gujarat, Agra and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, Gwalior in MP and Agatti in Lakshadweep.

Regional air connectivity is one of the promises the Modi government made in its election manifesto. From the UDAN scheme unveiled today, it is clear that a lot of work has been done on coming up with a scheme which encourages airlines to start flights to remote destinations, to airports which are right now lying unused and to those airports where there are some flights but not adequate in number.

In intent, the draft policy cannot be faulted. But how successful will it be in reality? Will airline operators who have till now found no viability in connecting Chandigarh to Bhatinda, Mumbai to Mehsana or Jamnagar, Delhi to Ambala, now find these quaint routes viable?

Remember, there are close to 400 ghost airports in India, airports which have not seen a single flight in the last two air schedules. There are another 16 airports which are termed “under-served” which means they do not have more than a flight a day. The government wants to kill two birds with one stone: make sure that these ghost and under-served airports become active while also ensuring that small cities and India’s hinterland gets on to the aviation map.

Civil Aviation Minister A Gajapathi Raju said today that UDAN is the result of the Prime MInister’s vision of getting every “hawai chappal wearing Indian to board a hawai jahaz (every hawai slipper wearing Indian to board an aeroplane)”.

The government expects the first flight under this scheme to take off in January next year and registrations under the scheme to begin from today.
A “first of its kind” in the world, UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) will be based on market mechanism as well as bidding for a minimum of 9 seats and a maximum of 40 seats in a fixed wing aircraft. For 50 percent of the seats of flights under UDAN, the fare cap will be Rs 2,500, and the rest will be market-based pricing.

“We are cautiously optimistic about it (UDAN),” Raju said.

But some stakeholders do not see much potential in the scheme.

1) The scheme will offer incentives for anywhere between nine to 40 seats on an aircraft flying on designated regional routes, connecting unserved or underserved airports. Since the number of RCS seats cannot be more than 50 percent of the aircraft’s capacity, this means such routes would require aircraft of about 80 seats at the most. Most airlines right now do not have these small aircraft – except Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. And those already having smaller aircraft seem reluctant to operate flights under the present subsidy offer, saying smaller aircraft are more expensive to operate and would need higher support from the Central as well as state governments.

2) Private airlines have said that despite the subsidy element being clearly defined in the scheme, the flights may still not be viable. They are unhappy with the quantum of subsidy being offered and by the process of bidding which will ultimately determine what the subsidy amount for a route will be.

3) Business aircraft owners are unhappy because the scheme is meant as of now for only scheduled operators, thus barring them from participation.

4) The environment for airlines to operate is already highly taxed (taxes on aviation turbine fuel among the highest in the world). So another levy to fund the regional connectivity scheme is obviously annoying airlines further.

5) A new category of airlines, Schedule Commuter Airlines, is to be created for new entrants to offer flights under UDAN. The non-scheduled operators feel the entry barriers for this category need to be lowered.

Here are some highlights of UDAN:

1) UDAN will be applicable on flights which cover between 200 km and 800 km with no lower limit set for hilly, remote, island and security sensitive regions. Under the scheme, such flights must connect at least one RCS airport (a list of underserved and unserved airports specifies which airports qualify under the scheme).

2) The RCS caps fares and also offers a ceiling for the VGF available for each route. This means airlines cannot charge beyond the caps specified from passengers and then will be allowed to do reverse bidding for availing the VGF. For the shortest route under the scheme, which is between 151-175 km, fare has been capped at Rs 1,420. For the longest route, which is over 800 km, the cap is Rs 3,500.

3) In addition to VGF, the Centre will also provide concessions such as 2 percent excise on Value Added Tax (VAT) and service tax at 1/10th the rate and liberal code sharing with domestic as well as international airlines for RCS airports.

4) State governments will have to provide free security and fire service, utilities at concessional rates and reduce VAT on ATF to 1 percent.

4) No landing charges, parking charges and Terminal Navigation Landing Charges will be imposed for RCS flights.

5) A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) will be created to fund the scheme via a levy on certain flights. States are expected to contribute 20 percent to the fund which will have a corpus of Rs 500 crore each year. For balanced regional growth, allocations will be spread equitably across 5 regions – North, West, South, East and North East with a cap of 25 percent.

6) A minimum of 3 and a maximum 7 regional connectivity scheme flights per week per route with minimum 9 and maximum 40 seats per flight will be allowed. This means if an operator of, say, an 80 seater aircraft is part of this scheme, it can avail VGF for only 50 percent of seats on any flight. Since the remaining 50 percent are not bound by RCS conditions, the operator is free to price tickets for these seats.

7) The regional connectivity scheme will be in operation for 10 years with individual route contracts to be for a 3-year span. Limited period exclusive route rights will be allotted to selected operators. There is a well defined exit clause too in the scheme in case operators want to exit within one year or after completion of an year. In the first case, the Rs 50 lakh bank guarantee will not be returned.

8) Market-based reverse bidding mechanism to determine least VGF to select the airline operator with the right to match to the initial proposer. The VGF component will be reduced if passenger load factor remains high and will be discontinued after 3 years when route becomes self sustainable.

Acid-laden truck topples in Thane, school in vicinity shut

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An acid-laden container truck overturned on the busy Ghodbunder road in Thane this morning and the leaking acid’s fumes spread in the area, prompting authorities to evacuate a school in the vicinity.The speeding truck carrying several drums of hydrochloric acid toppled near the Gaimukh octroi post at around 8 am, Thane Municipal Corporation’s Regional Disaster Management Cell chief Santosh Kadam said. As a result, the acid from the drums started leaking.Since the acid fumes engulfed the entire area, a school and octroi post close to the mishap spot were closed and children and staff sent home, he said.The truck driver sustained injuries in the mishap and was rushed to hospital.The firemen and disaster management cell personnel rushed to the site, Kadam said, adding work was on to remove the truck from the road.Meanwhile, another container truck also overturned in the same area. However, its driver and cleaner fled from the spot.

Govt will soon bring anti-trafficking legislation into Parliament, says Maneka Gandhi

Chandigarh: Union minister Maneka Gandhi on Monday said the government will soon bring an anti-trafficking legislation for the rescue and reintegration of trafficked persons, besides making distinction between trafficked and traffickers.

File image of Maneka Gandhi. AFP

File image of Maneka Gandhi. AFP

“The Government will soon bring an anti-trafficking legislation into the Parliament, the draft of which is ready,” Gandhi said while addressing the Regional Editors’ Conference organised by the Press Information Bureau on Monday. The minister said Centre will try to introduce the bill in the Winter Session of the Parliament.

“It will cover rescue, relief and reintegration of trafficked persons, and for the first time will make a distinction between those trafficked and the traffickers,” she said.

Highlighting the steps being taken by the Centre for the safety and protection of women and children, she said the Ministry of Women and Child has launched POCSO e-Box, a simple and easy facility to register complaints of child sexual abuse or harassment.

“81 complaints have already been received on this e-Box,” the Union minister of Women and Child Development said. In another important initiative to track missing children, the Minister said, the ‘Khoya Paya‘ portal has already reported nearly 6,000 cases of missing/sighted children since its launch last year.

Runaway/missing children are also being helped under Special Operating Procedures developed in association with Railways, she added. “13,000 children have already been helped under this initiative and posters are being pasted in all railway coaches to report children in distress,” Gandhi said.

Some of the other initiatives of the Modi government include decision to install panic buttons on all cell phones for women in distress from 1 January, 2017, setting up of nearly 170 ‘One Stop Centres’ by March 2017 for women affected by violence, ‘Beti bachao Beti Padhao‘ programme to reverse the declining child sex ratio, 33 percent reservation for women in police force, and setting up a large Home for 1000 widows in Vrindavan, said Gandhi.

The Minister said that guidelines for matrimonial websites are being implemented to prevent their misuse. An online portal ‘Mahil e-Haat‘ for women to sell their products has been set up on which business worth nearly Rs 6 lakh was transacted in the first six months itself.

“Women sarpanches are being trained to empower them to administer the villages professionally,” she said. The minister further said the government is now working to revamp the ‘Anganwadi’ system in which nutrition is being administered to children and pregnant women.

“To ensure healthy children, the Government is now working for six months’ mandatory maternity leave for working women for which the Ministry of Labour and Employment has moved to introduce amendments in the Act,” the Union minister said.

Pakistan isolated because of its own policies, says MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup

Benaulim: Pakistan has been isolated because of its own policies and India did not have to play any role in it, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Monday.

File image of Vikas Swarup. Twitter @MEAIndia

File image of Vikas Swarup. Twitter @MEAIndia

He said the Saarc countries acted on their own in deciding not to participate in the summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad this year, citing lack of requisite conditions for a constructive dialogue.

“We do not speak about such issues. If someone is isolated, it is because of the policies followed by that country. India did not have to do anything, because the countries in one voice said there cannot be constructive dialogue in the terror-tainted atmosphere in the context of Saarc,” Swarup said.

“… the first letter (on non-participation in Saarc summit) came from Afghanistan, followed by Nepal, then by India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Nepal also said it on its own. So when all Saarc countries express the same opinion in one voice – that the Saarc summit cannot happen in Islamabad in this atmosphere – you can draw your own conclusions,” the MEA spokesman said.

He was responding to a query if India had been successful in isolating Pakistan following the 18 September terror attack on Uri army camp in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November, was postponed after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka pulled out, citing terrorism concerns in the region.

India doubts Pakistan’s intention to fight terrorism, says Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing a ‘Regional Editors Conference’ Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that if Pakistan is serious about fighting terror, then India is ready to help them eradicate it, but added that he had doubts about Islamabad’s intention to fight terrorism mushrooming in its own backyard.”Pakistan has forgotten the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters. Terrorism in India is mostly sponsored from across the border…If Pakistan is serious about fighting terror then we are ready to help them eradicate terror, but their intention is not that,” Singh said, referring clearly to the September 18 Uri terror attack.”Cyber crime is also a major challenge and we are working towards tackling it, as the National Security Council has taken it up,” he addedTo safeguard against cross-border terror, Singh asserted that the international border with Pakistan will be sealed by December 2018.”We have also strengthened India’s coastal security post the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Our security agencies are better prepared today. We have (also) stepped up vigil in the North Eastern region alongside the international borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar,” he added.

22 highway stretches pan-India may double up as airstrips: Nitin Gadkari

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Road Transport and Highways Ministry is working on a proposal with Ministry of Defence to construct runways on highway stretches and 22 such spots have been identified across the country.”There are proposals to develop highway stretches in such a fashion that they may double up as airstrips. This will provide connectivity in difficult places,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI.Gadkari said his Ministry is shortly going to convene a meeting with the Defence Ministry to firm up the proposal.According to an official, a committee comprising officials of both ministries has been constituted to come out with specifications of such highway stretches which can double up as airstrips.The committee will look into details like feasibility of the stretches, their length and breadth apart from other issues.The official said that 22 identified stretches are located in various parts of the country.In August, Gadkari had mentioned about construction of such an airport in Rajasthan and said that similar projects were being planned in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and some other border districts.In Rajasthan, such an airport could serve as an airstrip for landing and take off when it is closed and traffic can restore later.The government is working on ways to boost regional air connectivity in the country. In new civil aviation policy, the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) has been mooted that provides for various concessions to airlines.Under the scheme, air ticket prices would be capped at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flights on unserved and under-served routes.There are 394 unserved and 16 under-served airports in the country.As part of the RCS, the government plans to provide a Viability Gap Funding, which would be financed through the Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF).

PM Modi, at summit, calls Pakistan mother-ship of terrorism | Reuters

By Douglas Busvine and Denis Pinchuk
| GOA, India

GOA, India Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi branded Pakistan a “mother-ship of terrorism” at a summit of the BRICS nations on Sunday, testing the cohesion of a group whose heavyweight member China is a close ally of India’s arch-rival.Modi’s remarks to a meeting of leaders from the BRICS — which include Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa — escalated his diplomatic drive to isolate Pakistan, which India accuses of sponsoring cross-border terrorism.Tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours have been running high since a Sept. 18 attack on an army base in Kashmir, near the disputed frontier with Pakistan, killed 19 Indian soldiers in the worst such assault in 14 years.India later said it had carried out retaliatory “surgical strikes” across the de facto border that inflicted significant casualties. Pakistan denied any role in the attack on the Uri army base, and said the Indian operation had not even happened, dismissing it as typical cross-border firing.”In our own region, terrorism poses a grave threat to peace, security and development,” Modi said in remarks to BRICS leaders who met at a resort hotel in the western state of Goa.”Tragically, the mother-ship of terrorism is a country in India’s neighbourhood,” the 66-year-old prime minister said, without directly naming Pakistan, in a series of tweets of his remarks issued by the foreign ministry.Modi’s hostile comments were not, however, reflected in a closing statement he read out to reporters.”We were unanimous in recognising the threat that terrorism, extremism and radicalisation presents, not just to the regional and global peace, stability and prosperity,” he said. “But, also to our society, our way of life and humanity as a whole.”

No immediate reaction was available from Pakistan’s foreign ministry.Modi’s posturing overshadowed the gathering of a group that was set up to boost economic cooperation, and made it possible for the nationalist leader to present himself at home as tough on national security.”Modi is aware that such language wouldn’t get the consensus necessary to make it into the final communique. Including it in his speech ensures it gets wide circulation anyway,” said South Asia expert Shashank Joshi.The summit achievements were incremental, and included establishing an agricultural research institute and speeding up work on creating a joint credit ratings agency.

Also on Sunday’s programme was an outreach session with leaders from a little-known group of countries from the Bay of Bengal region whose key attribute, from India’s point of view, is that Pakistan is not a member.LACK OF STRATEGIC RESTRAINT
Modi’s hard line on Pakistan marks a departure from India’s tradition of strategic restraint, and New Delhi has won expressions of support from both the West and Russia over the army base attack.

Yet China, a longstanding ally of Pakistan that plans to build a $46 billion export corridor to the Arabian Sea coast, has been cautious in its comments.Modi and President Xi Jinping held a bilateral meeting on Saturday evening and accounts of their conversation emerging from both sides pointed to clear differences of opinion.In one remark reported by the state Xinhua news agency, Xi said that China and India should “support each other in participating in regional affairs and enhance cooperation within multilateral frameworks”.The dispatch went on to refer to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). This grouping includes Pakistan, which was to have hosted a summit in November that collapsed after India and other members pulled out.The final summit declaration repeated earlier condemnations of “terrorism in all its forms” and devoted several paragraphs to joint effort to fight terrorism. It did not, however, level any blame over the tensions between India and Pakistan.”So far, we haven’t seen any indication at all that China is softening its public support for Pakistan. India did not expect differently,” said Joshi, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. (Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic in Islamabad; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Keith Weir)

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

State-wide hartal in Kerala against killing of BJP activist; buses, autos off the roads

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Buses and autorickshaws were off the roads as the 12-hour state-wide hartal called by the BJP in Kerala to protest against the brutal killing of a 25-year-old party activist in Pinarayi in Kannur began this morning.Early reports said no untoward incident was reported in any part of the state, including the politically sensitive northern district of Kannur, where there is heavy police patrolling.BJP activist Remith was hacked to death in the home town of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday within 48 hours of the murder of a CPI(M) activist and toddy shop worker Mohanan (40) by a six-member gang at Pathiriyad in Kannur district.Remith’s body will be brought from Kozhikode Medical College Hospital after postmortem to Kannur this morning and kept at Thalassery new bus stand for public to pay homage at around 10.30 AM before cremation.This is the second hartal in Kannur district within 3 days as the CPI(M) had observed a hartal in protest against the murder of their worker.IGP Northern Range, Dinendra Kashyap said over 2000 police personnel have been mobilised in Kannur. Those who have gone on leave have been asked to report for duty, he told PTI.There is simmering tension and more police personnel have been deployed at places where the body will be kept for public homage, he said.Meanwhile, police have registered cases against 10 CPI(M) workers in connection with the attack on Remith. A special squad under DYSP (Administration) T P Renjith has been formed to investigate the case.Police have made special arrangements to take patients, who had come by trains from various parts of the state for treatment at the Regional Cancer Centre Hospital in the state capital.BJP activists will be taking out a march to the Secretariat at 11 AM.Examinations which were to be conducted today by Kerala, Kannur, Calicut and Cochin Universities have been postponed due to the hartal.Reacting to the killing, BJP National President Amit Shah had tweeted “Attacks on BJP karyakartas in CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s home constituency is a matter of grave concern and smacks of political vendetta”.”Chavassery Uttaman, Remith’s father was similarly killed in 2002, his mother suffered serious injures when his house was attacked recently”, Shah tweeted.CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had said the violence in Kerala has been started by the RSS-BJP combine itself and blaming the state’s ruling party for the same is “total fabrication” of facts.Vijayan had yesterday hit out at the RSS for the growing violence in the state which he alleged was with the support of BJP government at the Centre.Vijayan, while speaking at a function in Alapuzha, attacked RSS and BJP over the attack on a Marxist worker in Kannur two days ago and accused RSS of spreading violence in the state.

Pakistan seeks bigger South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s influence in SAARC: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan is exploring the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to include China, Iran and neighbouring Central Asian republics as part of its bid counter India’s influence in SAARC, a media report said on Wednesday.Dawn News, citing diplomatic observers, said Pakistan is exploring the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s “controlling hold” on the eight member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).A parliamentary delegation from Pakistan, which is now in New York, pitched this idea during its five-day visit to Washington last week, the report said.”A greater South Asia is already emerging,” Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed was quoted as saying in one of his interactions with the media.”This greater South Asia includes China, Iran and the neighbouring Central Asian republics,” he said.He described the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as the key economic route linking South Asia with Central Asia.The Gwadar port, Syed said, would be the nearest warm water port, not only for China but also for the land-locked Central Asian states.”We want India to join this arrangement as well,” said Syed.Indians are “unlikely to accept” the offer as they are comfortable with the advantage that SAARC provides them, the report said.”India used its influence in SAARC to isolate Pakistan when it announced that it would not attend the regional group’s 19th summit, scheduled in Islamabad,” the report said.Citing continuous cross border terrorism by Pakistan, India had announced last month that “in the prevailing circumstances, the Indian government is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.”Besides India, four other SAARC members — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan — had also pulled out of the summit.”Among the eight SAARC nations, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are India’s strong allies while Bhutan, surrounded by India from all sides, is too small to resist any move from New Delhi. The Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka have good ties with Pakistan, but they are not large enough to take on India,” the report said.The report cited that a senior diplomat had confirmed reports that Pakistan is actively seeking a new regional arrangement.”Apparently, the showdown forced Pakistan to conclude that in its present shape, SAARC will always be dominated by India.That’s why they are now talking about a greater South Asia,” the diplomat was quoted as saying.”Pakistan hopes that this new arrangement will give it more room to manoeuvre when India tries to force a decision on it,” another diplomat said.

Defence Minister Parrikar urges ASEAN countries to ‘cooperate unreservedly’ to destroy terror networks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming terrorism as the foremost challenge in the region, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said it should be delegitimised as a State policy and urged ASEAN countries to “cooperate unreservedly” to locate and destroy terror networks.Security frameworks in ASEAN region still do not give enough attention to terrorism. This must change, he said at 20th ASEAN Regional Forum Heads of Defence Universities Meet in New Delhi.”Terrorism remains the foremost challenge to our region. We need to oppose terrorism resolutely everywhere, delegitimise it as an instrument of State policy and cooperate unreservedly to locate and destroy terrorist networks,” he said.The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam as members.Parrikar’s remarks came on a day when terrorists launched another attack on an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir. Three terrorists, believed to be Pakistan backed, were killed in the attack on the army camp north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.19 soldiers were killed in a militant attack on an army camp in Uri on September 18. The Army had launched surgical strikes targeting terror camps located across the LoC on September 28 night.

Sri Lanka raises concerns about Saarc’s future

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) could be one of casualties of the ongoing India-Pakistan tensions. This was indicated here by the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who said that all SAARC member countries were exploring options, in the wake of the regional grouping not showing any progress.Interacting with the media after talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Wickremesinghe said even if Saarc falls apart, cross-border terrorism will not end so India has to see how to move forward in dealing with it.”Cross-border terrorism is on the table. Saarc has to look at it and discuss what has happened (cancellation of SAARC summit). How we are going to handle it? Saarc has to decide on two issues — cross-border terrorism and areas in which we can work together. If we don’t do it, there is no future for Saarc,” the Sri Lankan PM said while noting that, in the last few years, nothing has moved in the grouping due to frictions between two members – India and Pakistan. He also said the war is not an option, but appreciated PM Modi for taking steps to defuse the tension.Emphasising that Sri Lanka has also been impacted by terrorism, Wickremesinghe said it takes a long time, and efforts should be made to ensure that cross-border terrorism is stopped. “Since we have looked at it in overall context, what I discussed with your government is how does Saarc move from here…And ensure that there was no cross-border terrorism in India or any other country,” he said. Noting that India is unique and can make SouthAsia a better place, he said it was up to the country whether it wants to do this or walk away.He also exhorted India and Pakistan to tackle the issue of cross-border terrorism or the future of the regional grouping. Wickremesinghe also sought to allay any fears regarding the country’s bilateral ties with China. “The relationship with China is economic, not a military one. Chinese were involved in infrastructure development projects in Sri Lanka,” said Wickremesinghe.

Bengaluru parents’ worst nightmares turn true as school drivers turn up drunk

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A dark cloud hangs over the children of Bengaluru as far as going to school is concerned. Callous school staff, seemingly uncaring of CCTV cameras or teachers, continue to rape children, some even as young as three. Angry parents have protested time and time again, but to no avail. Today, sending a child to school is a terror for families in the IT city.It’s not just worries of rape and molestation. Cases of errant school drivers — many of whom report drunk for duty — are leading parents to panic. Local police sources reveal that over 65 school bus drivers so far have been booked for drunk driving this year. And at least 10 cases of drunken driving by school bus drivers was reported in August and early September.Not surprisingly, such drivers have been involved in a series of accidents which have left students injured. This has ensured that a special drive has been put in place by cops, who are randomly checking drivers for alcohol.Why is this happening? Police sources explain that school drivers drink heavily at night and then head straight for duty in the morning — drunk. This menace is increasing month by month and worried cops say they are doing all they can to take action.”We have alerted the respective school managements and have also shot off a circular to schools, asking them to keep alcometers in place and check drivers during school hours.” Cops have also told school authorities to keep an eye on the number of vans, autos and other private vehicles that ferry the students.Schools though seemed to have adopted a wait and watch policy as far as the issue is concerned. When contacted, Karnataka Unaided Schools Management Association (KUSMA) — an institute which claims to represent over 3,500 schools, said that they had still had to take any decision. KUSMA’s general Secretary, A Marriyappa told dna that an executive body meeting was scheduled to be held on Thursday over the issue.When contacted, other schools were not willing to come on record on the matter. But what was worse was that they refused to acknowledge responsibility for checking drivers, some of whom were part of school staff.”We cannot be responsible for checking on every driver,” said one principal. Other principals went even further. “The onus is on the Regional Transport Authority to educate drivers and make them leave alcohol. That is not our job,” opined another.The lack of action by schools and other authorities have left parents angry, confused and worried. Shashank Gowda, an engineer, summed up the feelings of many parents, when he said, “We shell out thousands of rupees each month for transport facilities for our children. Why can’t the schools assure their safety? The state government too needs to step in and make the law more stringent so we can finally feel safe in sending our children to school.”Bengaluru’s School Kids: In Great DangerOctober 3: Bengaluru police booked 12 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol.September 25: Two school students and the driver injured in Chikkajala area of North Bengaluru after the school bus collided with the compound wall of Delhi Public School.September 2016: Police seized a private school van ferrying six students in the Nagarbhavi residential area of West Bengaluru. The driver was drunk.January 2015: A Class II girl student was allegedly molested by her school physical education teacher.October 2014: An eight-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by her 63- year-old teacher.July 2014: A nursery student of Vibgyor High School was raped by two staff members.

Entire SAARC diplomatic body united against Pakistan: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Sri Lanka pulled out of the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit, scheduled to take place in November, the Congress on Saturday asserted that the entire diplomatic body is united against Pakistan. Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi told ANI that there can be lot of disagreements on SAARC issue, but on terrorism they are united.”I think it’s good that these things are now sorted out. The message is unequivocal, unambiguous and clear namely that the entire SAARC is united. We can have lot of disagreements on SAARC issues, but on terrorism we are one. You will not be allowed to export terrorism and you cannot be a good neighbour in a SAARC context while still exporting terrorism,” he added.Sri Lanka is the fifth country after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan to pull out of the summit. In an official communication, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry told SAARC chair Nepal, “Sri Lanka regrets that the prevailing environment in the region is not conducive for holding the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad on 9th and 10th November 2016.”The statement said that Sri Lanka condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stresses in this regard, the need to deal with the issue of terrorism in the region in a decisive manner.The SAARC summit cannot take place even if one of the eight members withdraws.India on Tuesday announced that it would not attend the summit conveying the current SAARC Chair Nepal that in the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit.

Following India’s lead, Sri Lanka becomes 5th country to pull out of SAARC summit in Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that it condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, Sri Lanka on Friday pulled out of the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit, scheduled to take place in November. Sri Lanka is the fifth country after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan to pull out of the summit. In an official communication, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry told SAARC chair Nepal, ‘Sri Lanka regrets that the prevailing environment in the region is not conducive for holding the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad on 9th and 10th November 2016.’The statement added that the general provisions of the SAARC Charter require that decisions at all levels shall be taken on the basis of unanimity, and this applies to the convening of meetings of Heads of State or Government of SAARC Member States as well.Maintaining that peace and security are essential elements for the success of meaningful regional cooperation for the benefit of the people of South Asia, the statement said that ‘ As a founding member of SAARC, committed to regional cooperation, Sri Lanka hopes that the steps required to ensuring our region’s peace and security will be taken to create an environment that is conducive for the pursuit of regional cooperation.’The statement said that Sri Lanka condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stresses in this regard, the need to deal with the issue of terrorism in the region in a decisive manner.The SAARC summit cannot take place even if one of the eight members withdraws.India on Tuesday announced that it would not attend the summit conveying the current SAARC Chair Nepal that in the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit. ani

Pakistan Isolated: After India-led pull-out, Islamabad admits that SAARC will have to be postponed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan hinted that the next SAARC Summit in November could be postponed if India has refused to attend the regional gathering. “As per SAARC rules the Summit will not be held if any member-country refused to attend,” Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said.His statement came as it became evident that it was not possible to organise the summit after India and three other member-countries – Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh – informed the SAARC Chair, Nepal, their unwillingness to attend the summit that was scheduled for November 9-10. Aziz said it was not the first time that India was not attending the regional summit and that it had earlier also caused the summit to be postponed four times.Aziz said although it is possible to postpone the summit but the SAARC Secretariat has not officially informed the government so far. Earlier, Pakistani media reported that the government has decided to postpone the summit.Under the SAARC charter, the summit is automatically postponed or cancelled even if one member country skips the event. Tensions between India and Pakistan have increased after militants stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on September 18, killing 18 soldiers.Besides India, three other SAARC members – Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan – have pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet.The development a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided not to attend the SAARC Summit citing “the prevailing circumstances”.Founded in 1985, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) currently has Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as its members. India said the SAARC Summit in Islamabad has to be postponed as it and three other countries have pulled out of the meet.Earlier, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said a formal announcement to this effect will be made by Nepal, the current Chair of the SAARC.The current rule is that if any one head of State or Government decides not to participate in the SAARC Summit, it has to be postponed. All eight Heads of SAARC countries must be present for the Summit, Swarup said, adding if any one country decides not to participate, the Summit has to be postponed.”In the current case, not just India but Bangladesh Bhutan and Afghanistan have also written to current Chair of SAARC, Nepal that they are unable to participate in the SAARC Summit, which means there is no option but to postpone it,” the Spokesperson said.The countries have pulled out of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet.In the backdrop of the heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack in which 18 jawans were killed, India had announced late last night its decision to not participate in Summit, citing increased “cross-border”

SAARC 2016: Despite India-led pullout, red-faced Pakistan claims event still on

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Unfazed by India and three other SAARC nations deciding to pull out from the summit here, Pakistan today said it will still hold the meet in November as scheduled which flies in the face of the SAARC charter under which even if one head of government skips the event, it gets automatically postponed or cancelled. Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan will host the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in November, Radio Pakistan reported. Zakaria was quoted as saying that it was learnt from the Indian External Affairs Ministry’s tweet that India is not going to participate in the SAARC Summit, a decision he called “unfortunate”.”While we have not received any official communication in this regard, the Indian announcement is unfortunate,” he said. The spokesperson also said Pakistan is committed to regional peace and will continue working for the broader interest of the people of the region, according to the report. Separately, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said India is making propaganda to foil the conference that was scheduled to be held in November, according to Pakistan Today newspaper. Besides India, three other SAARC members – Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan – have pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for “creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding” of the meet. Under the SAARC charter, the summit is automatically postponed or cancelled even if one-member country skips the event.Tensions between India and Pakistan are growing after militants stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on September 18, killing 18 soldiers. SAARC likely to be postponed says Nepalese media The next SAARC Summit, which was scheduled to be hosted by Pakistan in November, has been postponed after India pulled out of the event “in the prevailing circumstances”, Nepalese media reported today. “The 19th SAARC Summit has been postponed after India yesterday announced its inability to take part in it “in the prevailing circumstances”,” the Kathmandu Post reported. Reports emanating from Nepalese media are significant as Nepal is the Chair of the eight-member grouping. India has already communicated its decision to Nepal. The summit is automatically postponed or cancelled even if one member country skips the event. Tensions between India and Pakistan are growing after militants stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on September 18, killing 18 soldiers.Besides India, three other SAARC members – Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan – have pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for “creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding” of the meet. Founded in 1985, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) currently has Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as its members.

Nawaz Sharif hopes all members will attend SAARC summit in Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said he hopes all SAARC members would attend the regional summit, amid reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not attend it after the terror attack in Uri which India says was carried out by Pakistani terrorists.Pakistan was making preparations for the SAARC summit, Sharif, who arrived here after attending the UN General Assembly in the US, said as he hoped that all member states would attend the meet, the News International reported. The 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit is scheduled to be held in Islamabad from November 9 to 10.Diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan have been rising since the September 18 attack on an army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers. Pakistan has rejected allegations of its involvement in the assault. Recent media reports said that India may boycott the SAARC summit after the Uri terror attack which led to tensions between the two neighbouring countries. There is, however, no official confirmation over India’s decision.

Centre wakes up to drug abuse after 15 years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fifteen years after the last drug abuse survey in 2001, the long-overdue process for a pan India report has finally begun with the central government giving its approval. To be steered by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, the survey will update addiction figures that strategists need to plan a course of action on how to combat drug abuse.Currently, neither the World Health Organisation nor the United Nation Office on Drug and Crime have any updated data on India. In the absence of any other figures, the two multilateral organisations have been quoting 2001 data, officials admitted.The survey, which will cover 600,000 people across 36 states and union territories, will be almost two years in the making with AIIMS scheduled to submit its report by 2018.It will be the largest drug abuse survey to be conducted in the Indian subcontinent, covering transgenders, transport workers and prison populations amongst others. Depending on the size and the population density of each state, the sample could vary between 4,000 to 16,000.”We are taking 16,000 as optimal sample size for any state of the country. However, it may vary from size of the states and the response that we get from them,” said Dr Atul Ambekar, of the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre at AIIMS who is steering the project for the ministry of social justice and empowerment.”To get our numbers right, we will be identifying the drug network and will follow the snowball or chain referral sampling method, where every drug dependent will help identify three more depends and the chain will follow,” Ambekar told dna. The effort will be to reach out to every district in India.AIIMS will collaborate with NGOs working in the sector along with prominent individuals and has also identified five regional medical centres for help. These are NIMHANS, Bengaluru, King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, King George Medical College, Lucknow, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, and the Regional Institute of Medical Science in Imphal. Five AIIMS researchers are in the process of fine tuning a working model.”We want to leave no stone unturned as we start doing the ground work. The team will hit the field by January next year. We will make out a submission for the ministry by the end of 2018,” said Ambekar.Alarm bellsThe much-delayed decision to conduct a study that would reflect the incidence of drug abuse in the country came after surveys in Punjab and Manipur showed that more than 28 per cent of the population, including women, in the two states were affected.”The proposal for an all-India survey was floated on several occasions but could not materialise. So we conducted a sample survey for two states which had been reporting a large number of drug abuse cases. The result of the two states helped in expediting the process of carrying out a countrywide survey,” said an official in the ministry.Asked for reasons for the 15-year delay, he blamed the political will of the previous UPA government which, he said, showed no interest in the matter. The ministry is still to finalise its drug abuse policy and is hoping to get a clear picture with the survey.According to the 2001 survey, also conducted at a time when the NDA was in power, the official pointed out, 10 million people in India are addicted to alcohol, 2.3 million to cannabis and 0.5 million to opiates. Rural population, unemployed youth and single individuals top the list.

Name of father not mandatory for issuing passport, Delhi HC tells authorities

New Delhi: Passport authorities cannot insist upon mentioning the name of an applicant’s father in the travel document, the Delhi High Court said on Monday.

Representational image of Delhi high court. AFP

Representational image of Delhi high court. AFP

“There is no legal requirement for insisting upon the father’s name in the passport,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said while referring to an earlier judgement passed by the high court in May this year.

“In view of the above, the respondents (Regional Passport Office and others) are directed to issue a passport to the petitioner without insisting upon the father’s name,” the court said.

The court said this while dealing with a petition filed by a youth whose request for renewal of passport was rejected by a Regional Passport Office for not mentioning the name of his biological father.

The authorities had also cancelled his earlier passport which was valid till June 2017. The youth had contended before the court that a passport was issued to him in June 2007 and he had applied for its renewal this year.

He said that his mother had divorced his father in 2003 on account of desertion and neglect. His counsel argued that his client is pursuing a course at Melbourne in Australia which would be over in June next year.

He said that since the passport was to expire before the conclusion of the course, his client had applied for issuance of a fresh passport which was rejected by the authorities as he had not mentioned his father’s name in the application. During the arguments, passport authority told the court that it was mandatory to give father’s name in the application since its software does not accept applications without the father’s name.

They said that deletion of father’s name on the ground of divorce was not permissible unless the parents have legally disowned the child. The court noted in its order that the youth’s father’s name was not mentioned even in the passport issued to him earlier.

Regarding the contention of the passport authority that the computer would not accept application form without the father’s name, the court said it may “modify” its software expeditiously.

The court directed the authorities to issue a passport to the youth within three working days, considering that he had applied for it under the Tatkal scheme.

India for regional security framework to resolve disputes: Parrikar

Singapore: On Saturday India called for a regional framework for security management to peacefully resolve disputes, threat and use of force in the Indo-Pacific region, amid China flexing its muscles in the area to advance its maritime claims against its Asian neighbours.

“Regional framework for security management must enshrine a commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, the threat or use of force,” said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in his address at the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

He also called for collective efforts to tackle terrorism which remains the foremost challenge to the region.

“The security framework in our region still do not give enough attention to terrorism. This must change,” Parrikar said.

“Collective action and cooperation is the way forward to deal with the maritime threat, like terrorism, piracy and natural disaster,” said the minister, adding that such cooperation will build trust and confidence.

“We need to oppose terrorism resolutely everywhere,” said Parrikar, calling for resolute efforts by all to destroy the terrorism.

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIA file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Terrorism remains the foremost challenge to the region. Networks of radicalism and terrorism as well as the whole structure in the region and beyond continue to pose a threat to all peace loving societies.

Noting sensitivities of disputes and concern about growing tension, Parrikar highlighted India’s blue economy initiative and prosperity of the region.

“We are also building economic cooperation with maritime neighbours to reap the benefit of blue economy,” he said.

Parrikar said there is no doubt that the Indo Pacific region, from East of Suez to Asia Pacific shores, will remain the driver of global prosperity for decades to come.

“India’s contribution as the fastest growing major economy in the world, will be a significant factor in ensuring this.

“I am equally confident that the countries of the region will rise to the challenge and tackle the security threat it faces,” said Parrikar.

He also touched on the South China Sea and stressed “While we do not take positions on territorial disputes which should be resolve peacefully without the threat or use of force, we firmly uphold freedom of navigation and over flights in accordance with international law in particular the UN convention on law of sea.”

Fire breaks out at Kalyan dumping yard in Maharashtra, none hurt

A major fire broke out at the Aadhar Wadi dumping yard in Kalyan this evening in the district following which at least 12 fire tenders were pressed into service, civic officials said. Anil Laad, Disaster Control officer of the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) said the blaze erupted at around 5.30 PM. The dumping yard is of KDMC. Officials said no one was injured in the blaze. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief of Regional Disaster Management Cell of Thane Region Santosh Kadam said at least 12 fire tenders, including some from neighbouring towns of Thane, Bhiwandi, Ambarnath and Ulhasnagar, were pressed into service and efforts were on to douse the fire, he said.

World No Tobacco Day: Assam govt urged to enforce pictorial warning on tobacco products

On the eve of the World No Tobacco Day, the Voluntary Health Association of Assam and State Tobacco Control Cell has urged the new Assam government to strictly enforce the new 85 per cent pictorial warning rules on tobacco products.The two organisations, actively supporting the implementation of the 85 per cent Pictorial Health Warning Rules by tobacco companies in the country, also wanted the government to prohibit sale of loose cigarettes and tobacco products.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing a joint press meet, National Tobacco Control Programme Assam Nodal Officer Dr Arundhati Deka said the Central government has come up with effective packaging norms for tobacco packets with effect from April one last.This new rule has minimised the use of colourful logos and branding on tobacco packaging which serves as a key strategy used by the tobacco industry to make their products more appealing to the current and potential customers, including youth, Deka said.The Assam Health department had issued an order on May 11 last year to the Drug Controller of Assam and designated Food Safety Officers of all districts to enforce the 85 per cent pictorial warning under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003, Dr Deka said.Simultaneously, many tobacco products have been sent to the Regional Tobacco Testing Laboratory attached to the Regional Drug Testing Laboratory here for testing and compliance of COTPA provisions, she added.The recent landmark move to implement 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on tobacco packets is a very strong and positive step taken by the Central Government and onus is now on the state government to strictly enforce it at the earliest, VHAA Executive Secretary Ruchira Neog said.This year WHO is calling on countries around the world to implement plain packaging of tobacco products without brand names to help end tobacco epidemic, she said, adding, plain packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco consumption and increases the ability to notice health warnings on tobacco packets.

Dombivili explosion: Devendra Fadnavis ‘saddened’ by incident

A major fire at a chemical factory in Dombivali area near Mumbai left three persons dead and over 20 others injured on Thursday.As many as, eight fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the flames, which erupted after a blast in a boiler of the factory. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis swiftly swung into action following the mishap and asked the authorities to speed up the relief operations.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Saddened to know about the unfortunate & tragic incident that took place at Dombivali,” Fadnavis tweeted. “Spoke to police officials & local authorities and asked them to speed up the relief operations,” he said. “We are constantly in touch with the local administration and we would leave no stone unturned in our efforts & relief operation,” he mentioned in another tweet. Pic Source: Zee 24 Taas Thane Guardian Minister Eknath Shinde said all efforts were being made to expedite the rescue operation and ensure proper medical care to the injured persons. He said the cause of the explosion would be probed.BJP MLA from Dombivili Ravindra Chavan expressed serious concern over the explosions in the MIDC and sought a permanent solution to it. Thane District Regional Disaster Management Cell in-charge Santosh Kadam said the rescue operations were affected because of the fire in the company premises. Hence, it was not immediately known how many persons were trapped inside, he said.At least 15 ambulances were rushed to the site, he added.

Chennai to get heavy downpour for next 24 hours, predicts Met

Chennai: As parts of Tamil Nadu continued to receive rains for the second day today, the MeT department said the low pressure area over Bay of Bengal has intensified into a depression and is likely to bring heavy rainfall in the next two days in coastal areas of the southern states.

On the forecast for Chennai and its neighbourhood, including Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts,he said there would be heavy to very heavy rainfall over the next 24 hours. Representational / Getty images

On the forecast for Chennai and its neighbourhood, including Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts,he said there would be heavy to very heavy rainfall over the next 24 hours. Representational / Getty images

“The low pressure over north Sri Lanka and adjoining areas of Gulf of Mannar and southwest Bay of Bengal has moved and intensified into depression and as of 8.30 hours today is located 240 kms South East of Chennai,” Regional Meteorological Centre Director S Balachandran told reporters here.

During the next 24-48 hours, the depression is expected to further intensify into into a deep depression, he said asking fishermen not to venture out to sea.

Under its influence, heavy rainfall is likely over coasts of North Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, South Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Lakshadweep. There would be heavy to very heavy rainfall over the next 24 hours in many parts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, he said.

On the forecast for Chennai and its neighbourhood, including Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts,he said there would be heavy to very heavy rainfall over the next 24 hours.

While several areas in the southern districts have been lashed by rains for the past two days, the city and suburbs were experiencing moderate rains since last night.

Nannilam in Tiruvarur district received maximum rainfall of 14 cms in the last 24 hours ended 8.30 AM on Tuesday, he said.

Canada wildfire explodes in size, fed by hot, dry weather | Reuters

LAC LA BICHE, Alberta A raging Canadian wildfire grew explosively on Saturday as hot, dry winds pushed the blaze across the energy heartland of Alberta and smoke forced the shut down of a major oil sands project.

The fire that has already prompted the evacuation of 88,000 people from the city of Fort McMurray was on its way to doubling in size on Saturday, the seventh day of what is expected to be the costliest natural disaster in Canada’s history.

Police escorted another convoy of evacuees out of the oil sands region north of Fort McMurray, taking them on a harrowing journey through burned out parts of the city and billowing smoke. Some 1,600 structures are believed to have been lost.

With temperatures on Saturday expected to rise as high as 28 Celsius (82 Fahrenheit), officials said the weather was hindering efforts to fight the wildfire.

“It is a dangerous, unpredictable fire, an absolutely vicious fire that is feeding off of an extremely dry boreal forest,” Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told a media briefing.

CBC News reported the fire had expanded southeast and grown to 156,000 hectares (385,000 acres). Officials had warned late on Friday that the fire, which they then said was 101,000 hectares, could double in size by the end of Saturday.

The Syncrude oil sands project said Saturday it will shut down its northern Alberta operation and remove all personnel from the site due to smoke. There was no imminent threat from the fire.

At least 10 oil sand operators have cut production due to evacuations and other emergency measures that complicated delivery of petroleum by rail, pipeline and highway. [CRU/CA]

About half of Canada’s oil sands production capacity has been taken offline by the conflagration, according to a Reuters estimate.


Earlier in the week most evacuees headed south by car on Alberta Highway 63, the only land route out of the area, in a slow-moving exodus that left many temporarily stranded on the roadside as they ran out of gasoline.

But other residents who initially sought shelter in oil camps and settlements north of the city found themselves cut off in overcrowded conditions. They were forced on Friday and Saturday to retrace their route back through Fort McMurray on Highway 63 as flames continued to spread.

Goodale said it was important to move those people south, given the risk that winds could shift and push the fire to the northwest of its current location.

The convoys on Friday moved about 2,500 vehicles of evacuees with 7,500 people south, according to a tweet from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt John Spaans told CBC authorities were not certain how many were still left to travel south.

The full extent of property losses in Fort McMurray has yet to be determined, but one analyst estimated insurance losses could exceed C$9 billion ($7 billion).

Entire neighborhoods were reduced to ruins, but most evacuees fled without knowing the fate of their own homes. The majority got away with few possessions, some forced to leave pets behind.

Stephane Dumais, thumbing through his insurance documents at an evacuation center at Lac La Biche, said he has thought about moving away. But the idea doesn’t sit well with the heavy equipment operator for a logging company.

“To me that’s like giving up on my city,” he said. “As long as it takes to rebuild it, let’s work together. It’s not going to be the same as it used to be.”

(Additional reporting by Ethan Lou in Toronto,; Writing by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Digby Lidstone and Mary Milliken)

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

Isro rocket carrying India’s final navigation satellite lifts off from Sriharikota

Sriharikota: An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket lifted off successfully on Thursday afternoon with the country’s seventh and final navigation satellite, IRNSS-1G, from the rocket port.

The PSLV-XL standing 44.4 metre tall and weighing 320 tonnes, tore into the afternoon skies at 12.50 pm breaking free of the earth’s gravitational pull.

Named the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), it consists of a constellation of seven satellites of which six – IRNSS-1A, IRNSS-1B, IRNSS-1C, IRNSS-1D, IRNSS-1E and IRNSS-1F- have already been put into orbit.

Representational image. Courtesy ISRO.Representational image. Courtesy ISRO.

Representational image. Courtesy ISRO.

The PSLV-C33, carrying IRNSS-1G, in its 35th flight, would be the XL variant that was used during launch of Mars Orbiter Mission, Chandrayaan-1, ASTROSAT besides the six IRNSS satellites.

The seventh satellite in the series – IRNSS-1G – weighing 1,425 kg is expected to soon join the other six.

With the operationalisation of six satellites, India has demonstrated the system’s targeted position accuracy which is much better than 20 metres over 24 hours of the day.

With the launch and operationalisation of IRNSS-1G, the seventh in the constellation, the completion of IRNSS constellation will be achieved, ISRO said.

Just over 20 minutes into the flight, the rocket would put IRNSS-1G into orbit at an altitude 497.8 km. The satellite’s life span is 12 years.

According to ISRO officials total cost of all the seven satellites was Rs 1,420 crore.

With inputs from agencies

Killer heat wave: Bengaluru breaks 85-year-old record for April with 39.2 degree Celsius temperature

Reeling under sizzling heat, Bengaluru has recorded the highest ever maximum temperature for April in 85 years at 39.2 degree Celsius and is hotter than Delhi in the last five days.”Today, we have recorded the highest-ever maximum temperature of 39.2 degree Celsius for the month of April. It has broken the previous all-time record of 38.3 degree, recorded on April 30, 1931,” Meteorological Regional Observatory Director-in-Charge Geeta Agnihotri told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This time Bengaluru is hotter than Delhi. Its temperature is in the range of 37 degree Celsius, and we (Bengaluru) have been recording 38 degrees for the last four to five days,” she said.”It (Bengaluru) has surpassed the highest-ever value of 38.9 degree Celsius that was recorded on May 22, 1931. This observatory has been recording temperature from 1867,” she said.For the last couple of days, she said, Bengaluru has been recording maximum temperature of 3-4 degrees above normal. Giving reasons for Karnataka experiencing sizzling heat, Agnihotri said it is due to very strong El Nino conditions recorded in 2015 in the subcontinent and absence of convective activity.”There is an increase in the temperature throughout the state due to very strong El Nino conditions, which were there in 2015, and this global phenomena is affecting the Indian subcontinent throughout,” she said.El Nino is warming of the Pacific Ocean as part of a complex cycle linking atmosphere and ocean. It sees a huge release of heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere, which can disrupt weather patterns around the world.”Even the Indian Meteorological Department had forecast higher than normal temperatures during summer seasons sometime on March 31,” she said.”There is a complete absence of convective activity in the atmosphere, which has led to rising temperatures, forcing the rains to play truant in this season”, she said.Giving reason for the absence of convective activity, Agnihotri said it is due to lack of moisture over land areas.”The absence of convective activity is because of lack of moisture over land areas. So, the two anti-cyclones in Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, positioned during this season is unable to pump in sufficient moisture over the land area. As a result, there is no rains and therefore, the temperature is continuously increasing,” she said.

6.9 earthquake rocks Bengal, Delhi and Bihar: Epicentre at Myanmar border

An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit Myanmar, tremors of which shook the northeast, several parts of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and even Delhi and NCR.

Jolts were also felt in Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, said J L Gautam, Operations Head at the National Centre for Seismology.

There was no immediate report of any casualty or major damage.

According to National Centre for Seismology, the earthquake occurred around 7:25 PM at a depth of 134 km. The US Geological Service said the epicenter of the earthquake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and was 74 km South East of Mawlaik in Myanmar.

According to National Centre of Seismology (NCS), the earthquake occurred at 7:25 PM at the depth of 134 km.

“The epicenter is in Myanmar, some 100 km off the India-Myanmar border. Since the quake occurred at a depth of 134 km, the impact could be felt at a large distance,” Gautam said.

This is the second quake in the day in the northeast as a medium intensity temblor measuring 4.6 hit areas around Manipur capital Imphal at 9:26 AM.

In West Bengal, the impact was more in the northern districts. Metro Railway service was stopped for five minutes immediately after the quake, Metro spokesperson Indrani Banerjee said.

Tremors were felt in Patna, Begusarai, Vaishali, Kishangaj and other districts of Bihar, Patna MET director A K Sen said.

In neighbouring Jharkhand, there were jolts in Ranchi, Dumka, Godda, Deoghar, Sahibganj and Jamshedpur, geologist Nitish Priyadarshi said.

Officials at the Regional Seismological Centre in Shillong said the quake was located at latitude 23 degree north and longitude 94.9 degree east.

In Guwahati, some people reported cracks in buildings while there was power outage for some time in Shillong.

Tremors were also felt in the northeastern states of Mizoram and Nagaland.

All the northeastern states are categorised under zone V in the country’s seismological map and are considered highly vulnerable.

Kolkata: Fire breaks out in Electronics Regional Test Laboratory in Salt Lake city

A massive fire broke out on Wednesday in a laboratory of the Electronics Regional Test Laboratory (East) office in Kolkata, police said.Ten fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames which broke out inside the laboratory on the second floor of the building in Sector V of Salt Lake city, they said.”The reason of the fire is yet to be ascertained. We have evacuated the building and are using special ladders to water the possible source of fire on the second floor of the building,” an officer of the fire department said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Water foam is also being used to bring the fire under control, he said.

Normalcy restored at NIT Srinagar, classes to resume on Monday

Classes at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar, which was shut down on Friday following clashes between two groups of students, will resume from Monday as normalcy has been restored on the campus.”The issue has been resolved and the earlier order to suspend work has been revoked,” an official of the NIT said. He said the class work will resume from Monday.The NIT authorities had ordered shutdown of the campus on Friday till further orders after clashes between local and non-local students over the defeat of Indian cricket team against the West Indies in Thursday’s semi final clash in the ongoing World T20 Cup. In Delhi, the HRD ministry said normalcy has been restored at the NIT Srinagar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A statement issued by the ministry said NIT Director Rajat Gupta had reassured the students, faculty and parents that the temporary situation arising out of tensions from disappointment at the outcome of the cricket match March 31 had been overcome. The situation on the campus and at the hostels was normal, and academic activities would continue on Monday, the statement said.”The group of students have been counselled in the presence of senior officials,” it added.The Director, NIT Srinagar, assured the parents, students and all concerned that there is no cause for apprehension and students are safe and secure, said the statement. The HRD Ministry said the district administration and local authorities had extended the fullest cooperation, enabling the situation to be contained.All scheduled programmes in the institution will take place, including the ‘National Research Scholar Conclave’ scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, it added. There was some altercation between local and non-local students which led to sloganeering yesterday. The NIT authorities had also asked all the students to vacate the hostels but were not evicted.The NIT, which was earlier known as Regional Engineering College, has nearly 2500 students and 400 academic staff members.

AYUSH ministry to ink agreement with WHO to promote Ayurveda

Union Minister Shripad Yesso Naik on Friday said the AYUSH Ministry will sign an agreement with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to popularise Ayurveda across the world.”Government is entering into an agreement with the WHO to popularise Ayurveda across the world. The goal of achieving healthy population is to be met through AYUSH health care system,” Naik said.The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare was speaking during the foundation stone laying ceremony for the hospital block of Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Metabolic Disorders (RARIMD) in Bengaluru. The foundation stone for the hospital was laid by Union Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu along with Naik.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naidu said research in Ayurveda has become important as it is currently being adopted into the mainstream health care systems of the country.”Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems of the world,” he said.RARIMD, a subsidiary of Central Council for Research in Ayurveda Sciences, aims at becoming pioneer in Ayurveda dietetic (concerned with diet and nutrition) research and evolving centre for excellence in Ayurvedic clinical research.”Government of India is extending all possible support for the progress of the institute,” Naidu said.

Co-accused in Chhota Rajan case get bail

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in 1998, three passport officials connived and fraudulently obtained passports under fictitious identities for Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje more popularly known as Chhota Rajan.In the charge sheet, the probe agency accused the three retired officials, Jayashree Rahate, Deepak Natvarlal Shah and Lalitha Laxamanan, of procuring an Indian passport in the fictitious name of Mohan Kumar s/o Damodar R/o H No 107/B, Old M C Road, Azad Nagar, Mandya Karnataka on the “basis of fake and fabricated documents so as to conceal the identity of the accused.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its charge sheet that was filed on February 2, CBI officials state that Laxmanan – the then Assistant Regional Passport Office (RPO), Bangalore accepted a passport renewal application for Mohan Kumar that had fake identity documents attached to it. Passport number F00455 was originally issued to Enyat Akmal Khan. This passport was cancelled and a new passport was issued against it when Khan applied for a renewal of his passport.Laxmanan, Rahate and Shah conspired together by using the canceled passport number F00455 to issue a renewed passport for Rajan under the fictitious identity of Mohan Kumar. The three officials abused their position as public officials ignored thwarted attempts at internal checks, did not send requests for police verification as required and ignored all discrepancies before issuing a fresh passport for Rajan under the name of Mohan Kumar with passport number A6705840. The three officials went a step further and destroyed all evidence of their crime.The issuance of the fake passport allowed Rajan — a wanted criminal and accused in several heinous crimes, to abscond from the country after a red corner Interpol notice that was issued against him in 1995.Pursuant to their investigation CBI officials have proved that Mohan Kumar, the address as printed on the passport and all identity papers associated with this individual do not exist.Underworld gangster Chhota Rajan was apprehended by the authorities in December 2015 for impersonating Mohan Kumar and traveling with a fake passport issued under this name.A special CBI court here on Monday granted bail to the three retired public servants all officials of the Regional Passport Office, Bengaluru, who were present today in court in pursuance to a summons issued to them. Accepting a bail bond of Rs. 50,000, the court has directed the accused not to leave the country without its prior permission.During the brief hearing, the CBI told the court that they would supply copies of the documents filed by it along with the charge sheet to the accused. Special Judge Vinod Kumar who presided over the proceedings has set the next hearing for March 30 for scrutiny of documents by the accused.Rajan is currently lodged in judicial custody in Tihar jail. The four accused have been charged under sections 120-B, 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 of the Indian Penal code and 13(2) read with 1(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and substantive offences thereof. The charges above deal with corruption, forgery and cheating.

Make in India fire: Here’s how much it cost BMC to clean up Girghaum Chowpatty

The fire which hit the Maharashtra Rajni show which was organised under the auspices of the ‘Make in India’ banner is proving quite expensive for the government. The BMC has had to bear a cost of Rs 8 lakh to clear and remove the debris from Girghaum Chowpatty, according to information provided to RTI activist Anil Galgali by the BMC.The demand for payment for the service was raised to Regional Director, Confederation of Indian Industries and the BMC has not received a response yet. Galgali had sought information from the BMC about the clearing of the site after the fire on February 14, 2016 at the Maharashtra Rajani show. The Assistant Engineer, Solid Waste Management of the D Ward informed Galgali that, after the fire incident the BMC had to clean almost 315 metric tonnes of debris and damaged materials for which it had to spend Rs 8,06,952.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The work was executed by D Ward staff using infrastructure and implements of the ward and other departments, vehicles, labour and labour from non-government agencies. Simultaneously, the cost incurred for the clean-up was intimated to the organisers of the show, the Regional Director of the Confederation of Indian Industries, who were told to pay up, but are yet to hear from the organisers, who have failed to respond to the demand.Galgali in a letter addressed to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has demanded the organisers pay up, failing which a police complaint should be filed as such behaviour wasn’t expected from them. The debris of the fire-gutted picture from Chowpathy was cleaned up the next morning with the help of of 10 JCBs, 39 dumpers (67 trips), 2 compactors, 198 labour staff and 80 supervisory staff in two shifts.

Missing Dutch woman traced in Rishikesh: Sushma Swaraj

A Dutch woman, who had gone missing in Rishikesh last week, has been found there and is being brought to Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.On Sunday, family of Sabine Harmes, 32, had requested Swaraj to help them locate her, four days after she went missing. “My officers have located the missing Dutch girl Sabine Harmes. She is presently in Swatantra Ashram, Rishikesh. Our Regional Passport Dahradun has met her. She appears to be mentally disturbed,” Swaraj tweeted.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The minister on Sunday had asked the Uttarakhand government to trace the woman. “She received treatment at the Nirmal and Jolly Grant hospitals for injuries on her legs. We are informing her family/Embassy about this,” said Swaraj.Sabine’s sister Suzanne Lugano, in a tweet to Swaraj, had sought her intervention in the case. Responding to a tweet by Sabine on Monday, the External Affairs Minister said Indian Embassy in Netherlands will contact her and give her a visa to visit India.Suzanne, who lives in Nijmegen in The Netherlands, said Sabrina had attended a gathering of a ‘guru’ named Mooji and, when she did not return to the hostel on Wednesday, her roommates contacted the police.

India third in world in issuing passports after China and US: MEA official

India now ranks third in the world after China and the US in issuing passports with the number having doubled since 2010, a senior official of the External Affairs Ministry said on Monday.The number of passports issued went up from around 60 lakh five years ago to 1.2 crore last year, Joint Secretary and Chief Passport Officer of Ministry Muktesh K Pardeshi said.”In 2010 we embarked on a journey for passport seva programme to set up new centres. Now there are 37 passport offices and 90 seva kendras. India has become a major passport issuing country in the world and is today ranked third in the world after China and USA in issuing passports,” Pradeshi said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No state or union territory was now without passport related facilities, he said after Chief Minister N Rangasamy inaugurated the passport seva kendra here, the 90th in the country.The chief minister thanked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for expediting its establishment and said the government felt the need for a centre locally to cater to needs of students, tourists and others from Puducherry and Karaikal regions.Passport applicants earlier had to go to the Regional Passport Office in Chennai, he said.Rangasamy said there had been a rise in enrolment of students in professional colleges and youth going abroad for jobs and for higher studies. Demand for passports had thus shot up, he said.

The irony of the Kanhaiya Kumar saga: JNU has no space for dissent and it was the Left that made it so

By Devesh Kumar

Towards the end of 2015, an invitation was extended to Baba Ramdev to deliver the keynote address at the 22nd International Congress of Vedanta, being organised by the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies. The Centre, in its wisdom, thought that the Yoga Guru had the right credentials to address the gathering. But a section of students thought otherwise. A campaign was launched to stall his appearance at the meet, on the ground that he represented “a regressive ideology,” and harboured “extreme hatred, bias and prejudice against various minorities – religious, gender, and also against girl-child.” They came up with an even more specious argument to thwart Baba Ramdev‘s arrival: that his views on Indian Indian science were “not academically driven.”

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The stop-Baba Ramdev campaign was spearheaded by none other than Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNUSU president who has today emerged as the symbol of freedom of speech and expression. The truth is that the ideology that Kumar represents doesn’t have room for contra-opinion and dissent, and JNU, unfortunately, has become a fertile breeding ground for such thinking. Since its inception in 1969, JNU had little space for free and frank speech. The Left-backed student organisations ensured that.

Former deputy prime minister LK Advani got a taste of the Left’s disdain and contempt for free speech way back in 1996, when he was invited to release a book published by Prof. Vasant Gadre of the Centre for Spanish Studies. As soon as the student leaders belonging to the Left and radical Left got wind of the programme, they raised a brouhaha, asserting that Advani could not be allowed to enter the campus as he represented a “communal organisation and fascist ideology.” Faced with sustained protests from these sections, the organisers had no option but to shift their function to a different venue outside the campus.

Over the years, “communal organisation and fascist ideology” has become the perfect ruse to throttle the growth of alternative viewpoints in the
university. Students gravitating towards a nationalist ideology have been kept under watch, and even intimidated. Several students were forced to
remain closet supporters of the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) for fear of inviting the wrath and fury of their
Left-inclined teachers. This was particularly true of centres such as the Centre for Historical Studies (CHS), Centre for Economic Studies and
Planning (CESP) and the Centre for Study of Regional Development (CSRD). Those who dared to come out in the open with their ‘inconvenient’
ideological predilections found their grades ruined and careers destroyed.

In the iconic 1992 blockbuster Scent of a Woman, Frank Slade, a retired US Army Colonel, laments the fall in the standards of a preparatory school in New England. “Well, when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. And it has fallen here,” he says. It had fallen several years back in JNU. The Leftists and their ideology facilitated the process. And if they are crying foul today, it is because an alternative ideology is threatening their free run and altering the course of the narrative.

Devesh Kumar is a former journalist and an alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru University

Tanzanian woman assaulted: Centre steps in to firefight diplomatic fallout; MEA team to visit Bengaluru today

Lest the Bangaluru incident casts its shadow on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious outreach to African continent, both home and external affairs ministries has come into action, seeking reports on the mob attack on a Tanzanian woman student, as well as mollifying African missions and assuring safety to the students from the continent.External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj chaired a high level meeting, including top officials of her ministry, following a strong reaction by the Tanzania’s ambassador to India John WH Kijazi, calling it a ‘racist’ attack.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tanzanian woman doing MBA, was allegedly beaten up and stripped by a mob in a case of ‘mistaken identity’ after a woman was mowed down by a car in Bengaluru. She was reportedly dragged out of the car in which she was seated along with her three friends when she reached the accident spot. Miscreants mistook them to have caused the fatal accident though a Sudanese was involved in it, the police report said.Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa has a substantial population of the Indian diaspora, about 60 to 70 thousand. Also, with trade around USD 4 billion, it is an important country, as the volume is at par or even greater than that of trade with Canada.The MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said a team including the Tanzanian High Commissioner, who is also the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, will be rushing to Bengaluru on Friday. The team also includes Joint Secretary (States), Director Eastern and Southern Africa in MEA and the Regional Director of ICCR, he said, adding the Central and state governments will extend full cooperation to investigation of this case. He said all steps will be taken to ensure the safety and security of African students in the country. He said there are around 5,000 African students studying in India. The team will assure them safety and address their complaints.While reacting to the incident, Tanzania’s ambassador dismissed Karnataka government’s statement that it was not a racist attack. “Everybody is entitled to their own assessment, but there is an element of mob justice and racism. That’s my assessment. She was attacked because she was black like the guy who caused the accident.” He said he had sent a complaint to the government and sought prompt action against those behind the “unfortunate” incident. The Union home ministry also asked the state government to give a detailed report about the circumstances leading to the assault. The central government is also peeved at the delay in lodging the complaint.As the incident is taking a serious diplomatic turn, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah told Sushma Swaraj that case has been registered, five of them (accused) have been arrested. He, however, refuted reports that the Tanzanian woman was paraded naked.Meanwhile the political parties slug fest on the issue, with the BJP accusing the Congress government in the Karnataka government of failing in law and order. The party also questioned Rahul Gandhi’s “silence” over the incident that happened right under the nose of his party-run government. The BJP spokesperson Srikant Sharma also questioned why such incidents in the non-BJP states doesn’t evoke similar outrage.

Centre distances itself from Maneka Gandhi’s comments on sex determination

A day after Union Minister Maneka Gandhi suggested that sex determination test should be made compulsory to track women pregnant with a girl child, Health Minister J P Nadda on Tuesday said that it is not a Cabinet’s decision.”This is her own view and not a Cabinet decision so I do not want to discuss anything about it here, Nadda said at the All India Regional Editors Conference.Gandhi had said on Monday women should be compulsorily told that whether they are expecting a boy or a girl and it should be registered to be able to check whether they have given the births or not.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am just putting out this idea. It is being discussed though there is no conclusion yet,” Gandhi said at the Conference.Nadda also held discussions with Rajasthan health minister Rajendra Rathore and senior health department officials on preparedness to tackle Swine flu in the state.”Discussed preparations to tackle H1N1 Influenza in Rajasthan with state Health Minister and senior state govt officials,” Nadda said in a series of tweets.According to reports, the disease has claimed the lives of five persons died while around 40 have been tested positive for the H1N1 virus since January 1. A rise in temperature in winters was cited as the reason behind the H1N1 virus spread in the state In another session, Union Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot said various policies and legislations have been reviewed and time-bound action plans drafted to fast track socio-economic development and empowerment of SCs, OBCs, Persons with Disabilities and other vulnerable sections of society.Gehlot said that welfare of SC students has been given high priority and scholarships for SC students at different levels have been enhanced. He also said that rehabilitation of manual scavengers is being monitored and speedy results ensured.

Health Ministry to issue guidelines regarding Zika virus today

As Zika Virus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Union Health Ministry will issue guidelines regarding the condition by Tuesday evening, said Union Health Minister JP Nadda at the Regional Editors Conference here. Zika is mosquito-borne virus, which is linked to birth defects in America. The UN health agency yesterday convened an emergency meeting of independent experts in Geneva to assess the outbreak of the virus. The meeting was convened after noting a suspicious link between Zika’s arrival in Brazil last year and a surge in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>WHO estimates there could be up to four million cases of Zika in the American continents in the next year, but no recommendations were made to restrict travel or trade. The last such public health emergency was declared for the devastating 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which killed more than 11,000 people. A similar declaration was made for polio the year before.Stating that the government will soon come up with a policy to check price of medicines with same salts, Nadda said under the Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) scheme cancer medicines are being made available at 80 percent less price and cardio vascular implants at 60 percent less price.Referring to medico legal cases, Nadda said a pilot project has been launched in PGI, Chandigarh, where doctors could give their witness online, and after receiving the success, the project would be implemented across country.

Plant more fruit trees in Himachal forests for monkeys: Maneka Gandhi

Union Minister Maneka Gandhi on Monday said that the Himachal Pradesh government should plant fruit trees in forests to prevent monkeys from straying into urban areas in search of food.Speaking at the All India Regional Editors Conference, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development said though the number of monkeys in Himachal Pradesh has come down but still there was a problem because the monkeys do not get food in forests due to lack of fruit trees and strays into human habitats.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Fruit trees were removed from forest areas in Himachal after an officer wrote to the Forest department. That time, it was not felt that the issue of monkeys would arise and now it is there. “Since there are no trees of fruit so monkeys stray into urban areas in search of food,” she said, while suggesting for a campaign to plant fruit trees in forests to address the problem.The Union Minister also criticised the Himachal Pradesh government for its monkey sterilisation programme saying it was not the solution. The state of Himachal Pradesh is facing the conflict between monkeys and human and damage to crops by monkeys.

Sidharth Malhotra tells you why New Zealand should be your next holiday destination

Nearly four months after he was appointed as the first Indian ambassador for Tourism New Zealand, ‘Student of the Year’ Sidharth Malhotra is all praise for the island nation.

Speaking to the media on his return to India, Malhotra said, “Becoming the Ambassador of Tourism New Zealand is one of the best things that happened to me in 2015 and I believe that the two countries would form greater bonds in 2016.”

Malhotra said that he ‘experienced adrenaline at every point’ of his journey. Among the experiences that came in for a special mention were diving into the sea, skydiving and visiting Tane Mahuta.

Sidharth MalhotraSidharth Malhotra

Sidharth Malhotra

In October, after taking the big plunge at Queenstown in New Zealand, a thrilled Sidharth Malhotra had said, “I think this is the best best best experience that New Zealand has to offer. The view is amazing.”

At a media conference in Mumbai, Malhotra and Steven Dixon, Regional Manager for South and South East Asia unveiled a video encapsulating the actor’s experiences Down Under.

The video also features his meeting with Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism Rt Hon John Key.

On his part Steven Dixon expressed delight about getting Sidharth Malhotra on board, saying, “We are extremely thrilled to have Sidharth on board as part of the Tourism New Zealand family…Our country experienced the impact of Bollywood when Sidharth was surrounded by fans everywhere he went.”

Ahead of Malhotra’s visit to New Zealand, Dixon had said, “Sidharth is young and dynamic, and extremely keen to experience New Zealand’s offerings. From adventure activities to food and wine experiences, local culture to luxury indulgence, New Zealand is gearing up to surprise Sidharth at every step of his journey.”

On his return to India, Sidharth said, “It’s my privilege to be the brand ambassador for Tourism New Zealand and I believe it will bind the two countries bond in 2016.”

With inputs from IANS

Kolkata: Look out notice against trio in Air Force officer’s death

Kolkata Police on Thursday issued a look out notice against Ambia Sohrab, Sambia Sohrab and their father former RJD MLA Mohammed Sohrab, who are absconding after a speeding car reportedly owned by them killed an Air Force officer during a Republic Day parade rehearsal here.The look out notice was issued after the trio were found “absconding” from their residence at Jorasanko area in the city, a senior police officer said. “Because they are absconding since yesterday’s mishap and we could not find them till today afternoon, this look out notice has been issued,” the officer said. Kolkata Police sleuths have meanwhile seized Ambia’s passport during a raid of one the Sohrab residence, the officer said.The police have so far have raided five houses belonging to the Sohrabs and one of their hotels on Kyd Street in search of the trio.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources in Kolkata Police told PTI that reports from the South Police Division as well as from the Traffic department on the incident were submitted to Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha during the day. “Yesterday the CP had asked for a detailed report. DC South and DC Traffic prepared report on the Red Road mishap and submitted it this afternoon,” the source said. A 22-member team was set up by the CP today to speed up investigation into the mishap in which 21-year-old corporal Abhimanyu Gaud was hit and killed by a brand new Audi yesterday after breaking three guard rails and barging into the parade rehearsal.The car dragged Gaud more than 20 metre after hitting him and he died due to blood loss.Meanwhile, the forensic report of the car suggested that it was travelling at a high speed of around 90 km -110 km per hour when it barged through the guard rails and hit the Air Force official. During investigation it was found that the Audi was yet to get the registration number and was delivered to the Sohrabs with a Trade Certificate (TC) number.”As per showroom records, the car has been registered against a company which belongs to Mohammed Sohrab. The records also show that the car purchased for Rs 90 lakh belonged to Sohrab’s son Ambia Sohrab,” a Kolkata police officer had said yesterday. The Regional Transport office sent a showcause notice to the dealer during the day asking why the vehicle was delivered to the customer with the TC number.”The TC number is strictly meant for use by motor dealers. The dealer can use it while transporting the vehicle from the manufacturing unit to the store or garage. But the dealer has delivered the vehicle with it to the customer which is illegal,” an officer at the regional transport office said. “We have send the dealer a showcause notice which they have to reply within seven days,” he added.Air Force officials have told police that only one person was in the speeding car which knocked down and killed the young officer. “Our eyewitnesses saw that there was only one person in the car. We have told this to the police and are sharing all clues we have with us to help them find the culprit quickly,” an Air Force official told PTI.Defence officials said they are also scanning cameras located on the gates of Fort William, headquarters of the Eastern Army Command, to find more clues. The Air Force is also conducting its own departmental inquiry into the incident.A team of Army and Air Force personnel conducted a solemn parade at the Command Hospital here in the early hours today to bid farewell to the officer. Wreaths were placed on the coffin by police, Army and Air Force officers before it was put on an Army vehicle and taken to the airport for the flight to Mumbai and further on by road to Surat from where Gaud hailed.Gaud’s elder brother, father, uncle and his teacher since childhood days came from Gujarat to take the body. The officer’s brother Bajrangi Gaud said his soul will find peace only if the culprit is punished.

Rahul Gandhi to interact with party workers and students during his visit to Mumbai

On arrival in Mumbai, Gandhi will address a meeting of party workers in Malad in North Mumbai and later inaugurate the Murli Deora Hall at the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee office in South Mumbai. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will address party workers and also interact with college students during his two-day visit to Mumbai beginning January 15.On arrival in Mumbai, Gandhi will address a meeting of party workers in Malad in North Mumbai and later inaugurate the Murli Deora Hall at the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee office in South Mumbai.On January 16, Gandhi will interact with management students of a college in suburban Vile Parle. He will then participate in Padyatra from Bandra Bandstand to Dharavi slum.The Congress high command has sought an explanation from Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam over the issue of articles in a party journal slamming Jawaharlal Nehru and terming Sonia Gandhi’s father a “fascist soldier”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Disciplinary Action Committee of AICC headed by senior leader AK Antony has issued a show-cause notice to Nirupam in the wake of the controversy.

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