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The urgency to manage margins: A developmental perspective for Gurez

Last time, I shared the story of neglect but also of creative aspirations of children and women of Gurez valley in Jammu and Kashmir. During the 40th Shodhyatra, we also came across many more possibilities.It seems the government has belatedly realised a fraud that had been going on in the education sector. A lot of school teachers were initially posted in Gurez but using their political clout got transferred to better endowed regions.Similarly, during recruitment drive for various services including paramilitary, youth from this region could not get the attention they deserved. The medical facilities are also not up to the mark. Even the Army medical facility, which helped civilians without any hesitation or reservation does not have a pathological facility. The lab-in-a-suitcase, which Army Medical wing has acquired from BIRAC supported biotech start-up like Accuster, has not reached here.It can perform 36 tests in one hour in less than Rs 250. Such facilities must be provided in all border and other less developed regions urgently. Local youth can be trained to perform these tests.Majority of schools do not have a computer or science lab. Such labs are needed in these regions even more. The Midday Meal programme in nine schools in the region was allocated one fourth of the ration needed for 220 days. The HRD ministry must look into such anomalies urgently.On one hand, there was a general notion that Kashmir was given a lot of resources and subsidies, the reality seemed contrary, unless the resources meant for this region were pilfered or pre-empted on the way. Earlier, we had noticed similar neglect in skill development programme.Class six student Khursheed Ahmedabd Meer from Niru village said, “Do you know when an electronic gadget goes out of order, not all components of it are wrong?” I feigned ignorance. I asked, “So, what should one do if such is the case.” He said, “We should have one room in every village where such things should be deposited. Children can take out the functional components and make new things by using them.” I probed, “Have you made any such thing?” Of course, he replied and ran to his home to bring a fan that he had made by salvaging a motor from a broken gadget.I hope colleagues in the Atal Innovation Mission and Niti Aayog are listening and will sanction a tinkering lab in this village. The Honey Bee Network through Prof Bhat of Kashmir University, Electronics department, has initiated steps to start a small community innovation lab.The question now is how can we rethink developmental opportunities in the region. Firstly, every developmental policy should be implemented in marginal areas and after saturating the needs here, less privileged regions should be covered. A change in fundamental priorities of developmental planning and implementation is required. Secondly, the huge drudgery that women go through must make them the top priority for LPG gas provision. Thirdly, recruiting teachers for the block and district only can address the chronic problem of transfers from Gurez. Also, MDM and other such programmes need to be strengthened. Besides, modernisation of post-harvest processes, access to improved varieties, urgent investment in hydro-power generation and lift irrigation are the need of the hour. It is to be noted that NIF is encouraging grassroot innovators to set up such devices.A team of Honey Bee Network has already left for Gurez to share spinning wheel, winnower among other things that could be met through local innovations and resources supported by SRISTI and NIF besides volunteers. Hope policy planners will start rethinking developmental design in such regions, critical for national integrity and well-being.

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PM Modi inaugurates hydropower project in Mizoram, says northeast development is a top govt agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mizoram on Saturday, the first time since assuming power as prime minister in 2014. The purpose of the visit was to complete the 60 Mega-Watt Tuirial Hydropower Project.”It is the first large hydropower project in Mizoram. It will boost the socio-economic development of the State,” the PM said at a gathering.Hailing the first NDA government for its work in the northeast, PM Modi added, “During the tenure of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee significant work was done for the development of the Northeast. We have taken forward this vision and are devoting resources for the progress of the Northeast. There have been over 150 Ministerial visits. Our initiative – the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) at your doorstep has added impetus to the development of the Northeast. It has enabled us to understand the aspirations of the Northeast even better,” the PM added.Adding that the project would provide eco-tourism and proper drinking water to the people of the state, PM Modi added that the vision of New India can be realized only if fruits of development reach all. Government plans to focus on around 115 districts which are relatively backward when evaluated on various indicators. This will benefit backward districts of North Eastern States including Mizoram. “Besides electricity the reservoir water will also open new avenues for navigation. This will provide connectivity to remote villages. The huge reservoir, spread over an area of 45 square kilometres can also be used for development of fisheries,” he said.”It is said that the lack of connectivity is one of the biggest hurdles in the path of development of the North Eastern Region. My Government wants to do ‘Transformation by Transportation’ through investment in infrastructure to change the face of the North Eastern Region,” he added.Also readCentre considering over 60 proposals for Northeast-based start-upsThe prime minister also spoke on his other plans to develop the northeast region. “We are committed to bring all the State Capitals of North East Region on the Rail map. The Government of India is executing 15 New Rail Line projects of 1385 kilometers length, at a cost of over Rs.47,000 crore,” PM Modi said, adding the Union Government has been proactively following the ‘Act East Policy’. “As a gate-way to South East Asia, Mizoram stands to gain immensely from this. It can emerge as a key transit point for trade with Myanmar and Bangladesh,” he said.PM Modi also spoke of the bamboo trade that have plagued some farmers. The Bamboo which is the livelihood for lakhs of people of North East, has been under a very restrictive regulatory regime. Because of this, you cannot transport or sell the Bamboo produced in your own field without the permit. Our Government with an aim to reduce this pain, has changed the regulatory regime and now there will be no requirement of any permit or permission for producing, transporting and selling Bamboo and its products produced by farmers in their own fields,” the PM said.

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New Year revelry without fireworks in Delhi NCR as SC refuses to lift ban

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to lift the ban on bursting of firecrackers in Punjab, Haryana & Chandigarh.The apex court added that itwould hear the case against the ban on January 5.Earlier, the court had banned the bursting of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) during Diwali.The court gave the verdict on a plea seeking restoration of the apex court’s last year order.The top court, through its November 11 order last year, had suspended all licences which ‘permit a sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR’.The apex court had last month temporarily lifted its earlier order suspending licences for sale of firecrackers, saying a complete ban would be an ‘extreme step’ and a graded approach was needed to curb pollution caused by them.The court, however, had said its order lifting the ban on sale of firecrackers might require a ‘review’ after Diwali depending on the ambient air quality after the festival.

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Mumbaikars prefer 2 BHK houses over 1 BHK, says report

A report by international real estate consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) shows that as per data from MahaRERA, in Mumbai more 2BHKs were sold than 1 BHK and also the supply of flats is almost double than the demand.In the report, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is divided into three areas- Mumbai City, its suburbs, and Thane. An analysis of the residential market reflects that of the 3,465 residential projects registered under RERA, maximum sales were recorded in Mumbai City (24,681 apartments sold out of the 50,329 units available), followed by Thane (86,479 apartments sold out of 1,80,071 units available) and Mumbai Suburbs (87,126 apartments sold out of 1,81,155 available). A distinct observation is that supply is double and clearly outstripping demand.The report further states that, Mumbai prefers living small, as the numbers reflect 2 BHKs to be the configuration of choice. Thane sold the maximum 2 BHKs (61,145 units) as compared to Mumbai Suburbs which sold marginally lower (60,728 units) with Mumbai city selling the least (11,142 units).According to the report, 1 BHKs were the second preference amongst Mumbaikars, with Thane selling most 1BHKs at a count of 29,551 units, while Mumbai City sold 5,295 units and Suburbs sold 19,803 units. However, supply far exceeded demand in Thane with 62,000 1 BHK units available for sale and only 47 per cent recording sales.The report states that, the luxury housing market performed better in Mumbai’s suburbs as compared to the city.While almost 49 per cent of the supply of 4 BHKs and 4 BHK+ sold in the suburbs, the city saw sales at 42 per cent of the total supply in this category for the region.”Post RERA, apartment details are provided only on the basis of carpet area, making it easier to compare one against the other. This ensures that home buyers don’t get tangled up in the confusing and misleading jargon of ‘built-up ‘ and ‘super built-up’ area and have a standard area comparison.REGISTER TO SELLThe confusion of selecting an appropriate real estate agent has also been resolved to a certain extent. Only agents who are registered on the MahaRERA site against a specific project are allowed to sell units of the respective projects.

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DNA EXCLUSIVE: Flooding may affect underground Metro

After claiming that underground Metro corridors are more prone to terrorist attacks, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has now claimed that the underground Metro is more likely to get affected during heavy flooding in the city, as compared to the elevated Metro corridors.The MMRDA made this claim while justifying its decision to build the DN Nagar-Mandale Metro-2B as an elevated corridor instead of an underground one. However, this has given rise to another debate as the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) executing the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro-3 underground Metro has claimed Metro-3 to be a water-tight project, where seepage or clogging of water is impossible.In a letter written to the Guzdar Scheme Residents’ Trust in Khar, who have objected Metro-2B being constructed as an elevated corridor, MMRDA, said, “It should be noted that in the case of heavy rains when the city’s roads get flooded, all at grade systems and underground systems get severely affected. During the heavy flooding in Mumbai a few days back, it was only the elevated metro and monorail which continued functioning without any interruption. Underground metro, in such heavy floods, would be likely to get affected despite all necessary precautions.”However, the MMRC has earlier claimed that the Metro-3 corridor runs at least 25 meters below the surface and is a water-tight project where seepage or clogging of water is impossible.”The underground Metro-3 system is embedded in the ground at a substantial depth. To protect against flooding, the level of all station entrances or shafts will remain sufficiently above the recorded high flood levels of respective areas along with good margins. Our tunnels are also water-tight,” MMRC had said earlier.

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BKC locals vie for cycle stand at Bandra station

A group of diamond traders from Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) have demanded that space be allotted for a cycle stand outside Bandra station (E) and inside BKC so that office goers are motivated to use cycles for commute.The group has also written to several authorities including the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), traffic police department and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) asking that space be allotted to park their cycles. They claim that using cycles is not only environment-friendly but will also help avoid traffic snarls during peak hours in BKC.The MMRDA had also requested offices in BKC to stagger office timings so that traffic can be managed efficiently during the ongoing construction work of DN Nagar Mandale Metro-2BBhavesh Shah, a diamond trader from BKC, said, “We have written several times to the authority to have cycle stands and parking. Earlier, in BKC, we had cycle tracks and cycle stands but that was shut down.”Shah added, “There are lakhs of office goers who will happily use cycles between Bandra station and BKC but without cycle stands, what is the point of cycle tracks? For now, we want cycle stands, cycle tracks can follow later.”Meanwhile, a senior MMRDA official, said, “Our cycle track project failed. However, if we want cycle stands, it will require coordination from several agencies. The proposal if found feasible will be implemented.”Off trackThe MMRDA had built a 10-km cycle track in BKC in 2011. However, the track was removed, and it was replaced with bus lanes. But those too were removed after motorists complained of traffic snarls.

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Mumbai Metro routes going through airports will not allow heavy luggage

There are three Mumbai Metro corridors – either planned or under construction in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region – that connect the domestic and international airports in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. However, none of these routes will allow flyers to carry heavy luggage in trains – a move that may prompt flyers to rely on other modes of transport.Currently, three Metro corridors are planned in MMR to connect both the domestic and international airport in Mumbai and the proposed international airport in Navi Mumbai.The three Metro corridors include Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro-3 underground corridor, Dahisar East- Andheri East Metro-7 corridor extension up to airport and the Mumbai airport to Navi Mumbai airport of which work on Metro-3 and Metro-7 is ongoing and for airport Metro report is prepared.A official from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), assisting the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), in executing Metro-7 and Mumbai airport to Navi Mumbai airport Metro, said, “The Metro-7 and Mumbai- Navi Mumbai airport are being constructed keeping in mind the connectivity for city commuters as their ridership is far more than that of commuters going to airport. Both these corridors are not dedicated airport Metro corridors.”The DMRC official, added, “Particularly in case of Mumbai-Navi Mumbai airport, the Metro goes via areas like Mankhurd, Chembur, Vashi and the number of commuters using Metro without wanting to connect the airport are more than those looking to go from one airport to another. There are fewer commuters wanting to go from one airport to another airport. Furthermore, airlines have their connecting flights, accordingly.”In case of Metro-7, it passes via the core residential area of western suburbs and it is mainly being extended up to airport for connecting with Metro-3 from where commuters can go up to Colaba and further towards south Mumbai, said DMRC officials.MMRC, executing the Metro-3 in the past has said it won’t allow heavy luggage as the route is not a dedicated airport Metro route unlike New Delhi’s Airport Express.
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Security agencies entered ‘Tora Bora’ of Kashmir to kill JeM militants

A recent encounter in which four Jaish-e-Mohammed militants were killed in Budgam’s Pakharpora area is being seen as the security forces’ maiden entry into an area popularly known as ‘Tora Bora’ because of the heavy presence of foreign militants there, officials here said.The militants are often in hiding in the area’s deep forests, a maze not very different from the labyrinth of caves of Taliban-controlled Tora Bora in northern Afghanistan, they said.The Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir police and Army carried out its first operation in this region on Thursday, killing the four terrorists.Also readIslamic State claims it captured Osama bin Laden’s Afghan hideout of Tora BoraIn April this year, two militants were killed at Hyat Pura, 8km from Pakharpora, but that officials said was a chance encounter as the incident followed a routine check.Militants have been particularly active over the last year in Pakharpora, located strategically in the district of Budgam, for it leads into South Kashmir as well as Srinagar city.Also read5 militants killed in two separate encounters in KashmirHeightened militancy this year has been receiving ground support, with local people strongly resisting the forces, especially during counter-insurgency operations.The Valley’s ‘Tora Bora’ had figured prominently in many meetings of security agencies after the area, 45km from here, became the infiltration route for militants entering South Kashmir, the epicentre of unrest following the killing of Burhan Wani, the poster boy of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, on July 8 last year.An official said the region has become the “reception area” for foreign militants who sneak into South Kashmir via Pakharpora. The dense forests and deep gorges in the region provide a natural cover to the militants.There is also a constant stream of people visiting Pakharpora because of a shrine there which has become popular in the last couple of years. This makes it difficult for security forces to swiftly identify the militants, the official said.After it came to light that terrorists were using public roads instead of the usual mountainous path while moving towards the south, security agencies had suggested barricading the roads and increasing patrolling in the area — a move turned down by the state government.Not much has been done to plug this route despite repeated warnings by the central intelligence agencies, official sources said.However, the Army recently moved in a battalion comprising 1000 men around the area and also established a camp near Pakharpora, which is a part of the Beerwah Assembly constituency represented by former chief minister Omar Abdullah, to give a semblance of security to the region.According to intelligence reports, accessed by PTI, there are various villages around Pakharpora which witness militant movements and have a network of militants.These villages include Kuzwera, Magray Pora, Behrampora, Kaisemullah, Gowharpora, Qazipora, Wanbugh, Hayat Pora, Malpora, Tujan and Dalwan, the reports said.The reports highlighted that these areas are among the most dangerous in the twin districts of pulwama and Budgam.
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Mumbai: Real Estate sales increase by 19% during the second quarter

Mumbai Metropolitan Region emerged as the leader with 19% increase in sales during the quarter, showed data from Liases Foras Real Estate Rating & Research.Total sales in key markets including Mumbai, National Capital Region (NCR), Bangalore, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad was 64,781 units during the quarter of July to September, marginally down from 64,881 in the previous quarter.On a QoQ basis, maximum sales growth of 11% took place in the affordable housing segment (properties priced below Rs 25 Lakh). MMR contributed highest sales 28%, in the affordable housing segment with 3,388 units, followed by Ahmedabad at 24% with 2,903 units. Affordable segment contributed to 19 per cent of the overall sales as compared to 17 per cent in the previous quarter.Sales in the cost bracket of 1 crore- 2 crore and Rs. 25 – 50 Lacs decreased by (-8 %) and (-5 %) respectively. The cost bracket of Rs. 25 – 50 Lacs contributed to 36% of total sales.Unsold stock in Tier I cities marginally declined by (-1 %) QoQ. Hyderabad and NCR witnessed a (-5 %) decline followed by Ahmedabad & Bangalore at (-3 per cent). Kolkata and Chennai recorded an increase in unsold stock by 7% and 6% respectively.During the quarter, the weighted average price level in these 8 markets increased 2% from a year ago. Prices in Ahmedabad and Bangalore rose the highest by 2%, while Kolkata and Pune witnessed a decline in price by 2%. Prices in Mumbai and Chennai remained stagnant.
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Sikkim: Sino-Indian border trade clocks turnover of Rs 3.54 crore

The annual border trade through Nathu La, the frontier post at Sino-Indian border in Sikkim, ended on Friday with traders of both sides clocking a turnover of Rs 3.54 crore.The Indian traders exported oil, ghee, blankets, copper items, rice, textile and processed goods among other items to their counterparts in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) worth Rs 2,83,91,230 while the import comprising mostly quilt/blankets and jackets stood at Rs 70,96,750, The bilateral trade at Nathu La was suspended temporarily in July after a prolonged standoff between the two neighbours over Doklam issue, but business had resumed quietly two weeks ago.Anil Kumar Gupta, a businessman from Sikkim who had been exporting goods through the silk route since 2006, said the resumption of trade after the border standoff came as a relief to the fraternity.”We have cleared all our stocks and settled payments with the traders of the opposite side after business resumed for two weeks at the fag end of the trade window between May and November,” he told PTI.A function was held at Nathu La last evening to mark the closure of trading season this year. The programme was attended by officials from Commerce and Industries Department, Customs, and ITBP.The Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Industries Department, Tsewang Doma Bhutia, declared the trade ‘closed’ for this year.The trade will resume in May next year.
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Sterling Biotech case: ED raids 7 locations

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday carried out raids in the National Capital Region in connection with a Rs 5,383-crore money laundering case against the directors and the associates of Gujarat-based pharma firm Sterling Biotech. The agency carried out raids at seven locations and seized documents and computer hardware from the associates.Names of top IPS and IRS officers and people close to a Congress leader have cropped up in relation to the scam.Sources said the agency carried out searches at the residences and the offices of Sanjeev Mahajan, Ghanshyam Pandya, and Lakshmi Chand Sharma. All three are allegedly close to a Congress leader and were allegedly involved in money laundering, the source said. The ED alleged that Sterling Biotech group used 300 benami to divert funds. CBI director Alok Kumar Verma has said that Rakesh Asthana’s name has also cropped up in connection with the case.BIG FISHNames of top IPS and IRS officers and people close to a Congress leader have cropped up in relation to the scam.
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Open jail inmates can now video call their families

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first, state prison inmates can now keep in touch with their families, thanks to the efforts of the state prison department. Inmates can make video calls to their families. There are plans to cover other such correctional establishments in subsequent phases.”We have issued orders that it should start for open jails and women prisons… we will expand it to other facilities later,” said Bhushankumar Upadhyaya, additional director general of police (prisons).”At present, the facility has been made available in the open jails at Amravati and Nagpur where prisoners can make video calls using apps like WhatsApp to their relatives from handsets given to officials … it will also cover prisoners in women jails,” said Yogesh Desai, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Eastern Region, Nagpur.He added that the phone numbers of relatives on which these inmates would call were verified by the local police. “They will be able to make phone calls once in 15 days. Earlier, they were allowed to make voice calls, and the facility has been enhanced to video calling,” said Desai.”The prisoners who are lodged in the open jails in Vidarbha are selected from correctional facilities across the state… this video calling facility will reduce the expenses of their relatives who have to travel to these prisons for long distances and give them the satisfaction of meeting their family members,” he explained.While convicts are allowed two visits from their relatives, they can make phone calls to their families once every fortnight. Undertrials can meet their relatives once a week.”We are also allowing undertrials to make these video calls at an experimental level. However, convicts are given preference,” said Desai.

Woman commits suicide by jumping in front of Delhi Metro train at Kashmere Gate, services stopped

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A woman allegedly committed suicide by jumping in front of the Delhi Metro train at the Kashmere Gate station on Wednesday.The 23-year-old victim had come with a friend to board the train. Instead, she jumped in front of the train, which was going towards Dilshad Garden.The services on the Red Line have been stopped for now leaving several passengers stranded.Many took to Twitter to talk about the delay. The incident that took place around 7:30 pm affected the evening peak hour rush.The Delhi Metro, which is a lifeline for the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), is used by around 28 lakh passengers every day.

Delhi smog: Diesel and coal particles more toxic than dust, claim reports

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dust may be the most visible marker of Delhi’s air pollution, but its sheer abundance may actually be masking the bigger killers — emissions from vehicles, thermal power plants and industries.Studies and research reports have underlined that its the chemical composition of ultrafine particulates PM2.5 or PM10, and not their volume, which is more crucial in determining the toxicity of air.The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), a Supreme Court-appointed pollution watchdog, made a similar point in a report the apex court, that particles from coal and diesel are more harmful than wind-blown dust, as they can lead to an increase in heart disease-related deaths.”Similarly, particles from diesel combustion are very toxic and have been classified by the World Health Organisation as a class I carcinogen for strong links with lung cancer, putting them in the same bracket as tobacco smoking and asbestos.”This suggests that we must prioritise the more harmful particulates for action. Combustion sources — vehicles, power plants and industry — need more stringent and priority action,” the report says.The EPCA mentioned it separately under a section — addressing quantum vs toxicity.An Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur report, which assessed the chemical composition of pollution from various sources in the city, also concluded that combustion — vehicular and industrial alike — was responsible for the formation of PM2.5 in greater quantity.Among PM2.5 and PM10, the most dominant pollutants in Delhi’s air, PM2.5 is deadlier owing to its tinier size — up to 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair — aiding it in lodging deep in the lungs and subsequently entering the bloodstream.The IIT report found that PM2.5 Nitrate particles formed from nitrogen oxides and sulphate particles formed from sulphur dioxides can be 25 per cent of the total PM2.5 load in the city.Both nitrates and sulphates are classified as ‘secondary particles’, which are formed due to the reaction of gases such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emitted from vehicles, thermal power plants and industries.”In a broad sense, fractions of secondary particles of both PM 10 and PM2.5 in two seasons were consistent and need to be controlled for better air quality in Delhi and the National Capital Region,” the report pointed out.It estimates that of around 312 tons of NOx produced per day in the city, nearly 52 per cent come from industrial point sources such as power plants and 36 per cent from vehicular emissions, “probably making it the most important emission”.

Far-flung, neglected for decades, Gurez Valley longs for attention

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Should we suffer because we are peaceful, love the country and wish to contribute more for its development?”Asked an elderly villager while discussing Gurez Valley’s slow pace of development during the 40th Shodhyatra last month.Walking down from Chakwali, the last village of our country on the northern tip in this region in Jammu and Kashmir, a common sight was women bringing 50-60 kg of wood on their back in baskets. The protrusions on the baskets hurt their backs. They needed new designs. If we cannot remove their burden, can we at least make it bearable? A room requires wood for warming when the night temperatures drop to minus 6-7 degree. After a week or two, the area will witness 20-30 feet snowfall and be cut off with defense transport being an exception. Thankfully, Tawsif, a local innovator from another region of Kashmir has developed an energy efficient Bukhari or heater. It will not only help keep room warm and require only 3-4 kg wood for a night but also be a revolutionary step in energy saving besides providing some relief to the women.Some Shodhyatris offered to pay for such Bukharis costing Rs7,500 to be urgently deployed and tested in the region. Follow up has begun through Honey Bee Network and NIF cell at Kashmir University, Srinagar, under the voluntary leadership of prof GM Bhat. SRISTI team worked for over a month in advance preparing for the Shodhyatra in collaboration with volunteers of the Network including Nadeem and Sabjar.A region without internet, mobile connections and practically neglected by markets and the state was endowed with abundant human ingenuity and creative spirit.There is a tremendous scope for adding value to their ideas and local herbal knowledge and bring local products into market. Honey Bee Network through SRISTI and NIF proposes to stay engaged with local communities in this region. The area does not have a single hydro-turbine and even uses solar energy sparingly for light. Many such batteries have already gone out of order. Some children wondered whether solar energy can be used for keeping Kangri or Bukhari warm? How sunlight can be taken inside their houses. Though they got power only for 4-6 hours daily on an average, the energy potential of a river flowing alongside remains to be tapped.Some innovations that caught our eyes were tablets made by school students Khalid Hussain and Mir Zamman using local herbs for stomach ache, a device for better grip of shoes in snow by Arshad Ahmad Lone and extra wheel for baskets for carrying weight by Arshid Khan. The design of snow shoe was not very popular in the region.Shodhyatris also set up a library in Govt Higher Secondary School, Budgam by giving 1,000 books. Thanks to the contribution by Shail Desai, a Honey Bee Network volunteer of Mumbai. Many Shodhyatris resolved to pool books for other schools.One of the most redeeming facts was almost total absence of malnutrition among children. Mothers breastfeed their kids for two to three years. They grew vegetables in small gardens. The communities have high respect for elders. The extraordinary hospitality for guests and visitors was very inspiring. The Yatris, who received affectionate response in each village, enjoyed the local cuisine. This was the first time in the last three decades that Shodhyatris came across a published history of a village. Pride of people in local culture, history and natural resources can be harnessed for prompting responsible tourism. So far, outsiders have not come this far. The stay homes are being developed. We stayed in schools where teachers were very warm and helpful.More lessons and challenges will be shared next week. If you wish to join hands for the sustainable development of the region, write back to [email protected]

6.9-magnitude quake strikes Tibet near Arunachal Pradesh border

Updated: Nov 18, 2017, 07:58 AM IST, PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A strong intensity earthquake measuring 6.9 on Richter Scale hit Tibet’s Nyingchi prefecture, located close to Arunachal Pradesh border, in the early hours on Saturday.The quake struck at 6:34 a.m (Beijing Time), according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).The quake struck at a depth of about 10 km, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.It was followed by 5-magnitude earthquake at 8:31 a.m (Beijing time) around the same place in the Tibet Autonomous Region.The second quake struck at a depth of about 6 km.Reports of any casualties and damage are awaited.

Civic offices, educational institutes to be included in plastic ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state government’s ban on plastic bottles from beginning early 2018 will cover government offices, educational institutions and functions organised by it before it is extended to private offices. Apart from plastic bags, the ban from Gudhi Padwa (Maharashtrian New Year) will cover plastic and thermocol plates and bowls, spoons, and sachets and wrappers used to package pulses and eatables like chips and biscuits.Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam met officials from municipal bodies and district collectorates in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) on Thursday and announced a ban on plastic bags from March 2018 considering its environmental impact.”Plastic bottles will be banned in all starred residential hotels, government and local self-government body offices and schools and colleges. Restaurants (eating houses) will be covered later. No plastic bottles will be served at government functions,” said Kadam. He added that private offices and mass functions will be included in the ambit subsequently.An environment department official said that before the ban, they planned to proscribe plastic bottles in the state government headquarters of the Mantralaya.”Mineral water producers can shift to glass bottles or these bulk consumers can establish reverse osmosis (RO) units to purify water and serve it in glass bottles or dispensers,” he added.It will reduce the use of plastic bottles, which are discarded, unlike glass bottles which can be recycled. However, customers will be able to purchase water packaged in plastic bottles from stores. The ban may be implemented in phases after modalities and alternatives are discussed with stakeholders.An official admitted that the PET bottles ban in private establishments and mass functions would largely depend on “self-regulation” though the authorities can invoke the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Village and ward-level committees will be formed to help in the implementation.About the banKadam said officials would visit states like Kerala and Himachal Pradesh where plastic had been banned before tabling a proposal before the Maharashtra cabinet. He added that violators who continued using plastic bags would attract a fine up to Rs 25,000 with subsequent violations leading to the suspension of licence.

After India-US-Japan-Australia quad, France to deepen ties with India in Indian Ocean Region

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>France aims to enhance cooperation with India in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the issue will figure prominently in the upcoming high-level talks between the two sides, the French envoy here said today.Alexandre Ziegler’s comment comes against the backdrop of a quadrilateral meeting of officials from India, the US, Japan and Australia on the sidelines of the India-ASEAN Summit in Manila.The meeting assumes significance as it is seen as an attempt to counter China’s growing dominance in the region.The issue will also figure during French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian’s engagements during his upcoming visit to India from Friday and President Emmanuel Macron’s trip in early 2018, the envoy said.Zieglar said issues that form the major framework of the strategic partnership between the two countries, including “growing cooperation” in the IOR, defence and space will be addressed during the talks.Briefing reporters on the French foreign minister’s visit, the ambassador said he will also travel to Jaipur on Saturday where he will inaugurate a four-month-long mega ‘Bonjour India’ festival which will have performances, debates, seminars and exhibitions.Separately queried about the recently-held quadrilateral meeting, French diplomatic sources said while France was not averse to joining the multilateral fora, it wants to ramp up bilateral cooperation in this sphere.”We have specific interests in the region and naval bases in one of the islands. So there is scope for greater cooperation in the region. But we are also open to multilateral cooperation,” a source said.France has around 10 islands in the region with Reunion being the biggest one with a population of over one million.It has military bases in Reunion as well as Djibouti, which borders the Indian Ocean.The move to set up the quadrilateral comes in the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.The use of the term “Indo-Pacific” by US President Donald Trump has led to speculation that Washington may be preparing the ground for a revival of the quadrilateral alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India to counter China’s rise.

When you see condom ad while sitting with your family: Twitter reacts to ‘awkward’ Kejriwal-Khattar picture

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Wednesday, after what felt like ages of endless tweeting, Arvind Kejriwal finally met his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar, while Punjab CM Captain Amarinder stayed away.Even though Kejriwal is a man who like Khattar also hails from Haryana, the two were amazingly awkward during their meeting. A photo of Khattar holding an AC remote while Kejriwal sat on the far end of the sofa went viral on social media.After a long football-match length session, a joint statement was issued where the two promised to put in sustained efforts to check pollution and ensure that 2018 wouldn’t see a repeat of the hell-hole that Delhi-NCR became in 2017.Here’s how Twitter reacted to the awkward meeting, which some described as a PTA meet, while another said felt like an adult scene coming on the TV while one is watching a film with family. A joint statement was issued after the meeting, in which their environment ministers and other top officials also participated.”We the chief ministers of Delhi and Haryana are happy to have had a very fruitful meeting at Chandigarh today. We recognised our deep and shared concern over the recent episode of heavy smog in our National Capital Region. We agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at preventing its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018,” according to the statement.It said that during the discussions, the two sides agreed that “serious health risks to which such episodes of smog expose one and all require concrete and quick action on a number of fronts.””In today’s meeting we covered crop residue burning and vehicular pollution issues. We resolve to put in sustained efforts in pursuance of the jointly identified action points in the coming days, weeks and months.”We look forward to covering other sources of air and water pollution in our future discussions.” The two chief ministers also briefly met the media later after their meeting.Kejriwal said that states may be separated by territorial boundaries, but nobody has control over air and joint efforts need to be put in by all stakeholders to check pollution.”Therefore, it is very important that the country’s top political executive, both of states and the Centre, everyone will have to collectively find a solution to this problem,” he said.”I believe today’s meeting is just a beginning. It is an indication that to deal with this problem, we are ready to take whatever steps are required to be taken. We had a discussion on crop burning, on vehicular pollution, as also on bypasses which are being built, we had a discussion on how we can introduce CNG vehicles.”They gave us suggestions that there are some stretches, like for example Delhi-Gurgaon has only one road stretch and if the Dwarka bypass can be expedited, likewise Badarpur- Ashram stretch…,” Kejriwal said touching upon steps that can be taken to decongest traffic and bring down pollution levels caused by vehicles.He also said “I believe that message should go out that at the top level whatever steps are needed to be taken we are ready to take those steps. This is an indication to governments of both the states that strict steps should be taken to curb pollution.”Khattar said there is really genuine concern about smog, which has engulfed northern states, especially in NCR.”It has been happening for the last two years. This problem is not related to only one state but it is a common concern. We are taking steps in our respective states whether it is stubble burning or vehicular pollution,” he said.He said his government has decided to give subsidy to farmers and government procurement agencies on the purchase of 8-9 implements in order to tackle stubble burning problem.”This year, the number of incidents of stubble burning has dropped in Haryana. Satellite pictures show that we have controlled it to a large extent in Haryana,” he said.He said Delhi is the capital of India and “we will collectively try to ensure smog does not envelop Delhi”.Kejriwal had earlier said that Khattar had invited him to Chandigarh today for the meeting as he could not meet him in Delhi because he was very busy.The Delhi chief minister had sought a meeting with his counterparts from Haryana and Punjab to find a solution to stubble burning in neighbouring states, a major source of high pollution levels in Delhi.The practice of burning of crop residue by farmers of Punjab and Haryana has been blamed for the toxic smog enveloping the region every winter.Kejriwal recently said the Centre, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi governments should keep political differences aside and come together to find a permanent solution to stubble burning.Yesterday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh again ruled out a meeting with Kejriwal, asking him not to “politicise” the serious matter. With inputs from PTI

Delhi-NCR smog: Kejriwal and Khattar finally meet, resolve to put in ‘sustained efforts’ to check pollution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar today resolved to put in “sustained efforts” to check pollution and discussed measures to ensure smog does not envelop the national capital in the winter of 2018.Kejriwal held a nearly 90-minute meeting at Khattar’s residence here and it primarily centred around air pollution and stubble burning that is a major contributory factor to smog, which has engulfed the national capital and parts of Haryana and Punjab over the past nearly two weeks.A joint statement was issued after the meeting, in which their environment ministers and other top officials also participated.”We the chief ministers of Delhi and Haryana are happy to have had a very fruitful meeting at Chandigarh today. We recognised our deep and shared concern over the recent episode of heavy smog in our National Capital Region. We agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at preventing its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018,” according to the statement.It said that during the discussions, the two sides agreed that “serious health risks to which such episodes of smog expose one and all require concrete and quick action on a number of fronts.””In today’s meeting we covered crop residue burning and vehicular pollution issues. We resolve to put in sustained efforts in pursuance of the jointly identified action points in the coming days, weeks and months.”We look forward to covering other sources of air and water pollution in our future discussions.” The two chief ministers also briefly met the media later after their meeting.Kejriwal said that states may be separated by territorial boundaries, but nobody has control over air and joint efforts need to be put in by all stakeholders to check pollution.”Therefore, it is very important that the country’s top political executive, both of states and the Centre, everyone will have to collectively find a solution to this problem,” he said.”I believe today’s meeting is just a beginning. It is an indication that to deal with this problem, we are ready to take whatever steps are required to be taken. We had a discussion on crop burning, on vehicular pollution, as also on bypasses which are being built, we had a discussion on how we can introduce CNG vehicles.”They gave us suggestions that there are some stretches, like for example Delhi-Gurgaon has only one road stretch and if the Dwarka bypass can be expedited, likewise Badarpur- Ashram stretch…,” Kejriwal said touching upon steps that can be taken to decongest traffic and bring down pollution levels caused by vehicles.He also said “I believe that message should go out that at the top level whatever steps are needed to be taken we are ready to take those steps. This is an indication to governments of both the states that strict steps should be taken to curb pollution.”Khattar said there is really genuine concern about smog, which has engulfed northern states, especially in NCR.”It has been happening for the last two years. This problem is not related to only one state but it is a common concern. We are taking steps in our respective states whether it is stubble burning or vehicular pollution,” he said.He said his government has decided to give subsidy to farmers and government procurement agencies on the purchase of 8-9 implements in order to tackle stubble burning problem.”This year, the number of incidents of stubble burning has dropped in Haryana. Satellite pictures show that we have controlled it to a large extent in Haryana,” he said.He said Delhi is the capital of India and “we will collectively try to ensure smog does not envelop Delhi”.Kejriwal had earlier said that Khattar had invited him to Chandigarh today for the meeting as he could not meet him in Delhi because he was very busy.The Delhi chief minister had sought a meeting with his counterparts from Haryana and Punjab to find a solution to stubble burning in neighbouring states, a major source of high pollution levels in Delhi.The practice of burning of crop residue by farmers of Punjab and Haryana has been blamed for the toxic smog enveloping the region every winter.Kejriwal recently said the Centre, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi governments should keep political differences aside and come together to find a permanent solution to stubble burning.Yesterday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh again ruled out a meeting with Kejriwal, asking him not to “politicise” the serious matter.

ASEAN: PM Modi takes veiled jibe at China, says India supports rules-based security architecture

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi today strongly pitched for putting in place a rules-based regional security architecture, reflecting growing convergence among major players like India, the US and Japan to have a coherent approach to deal with China’s aggressive posturing in the Indo-Pacific region.In an address at the ASEAN-India summit, Modi identified terrorism and extremism as the major challenge facing the region and said time has come for the countries of the region to join hands to collectively deal with it. Seen as a reference to China’s military maneuvering at the South China Sea (SCS) which has cast a shadow over the ASEAN summit, Modi said India will continue its support to the ASEAN for achieving a rules-based security architecture in the region.”India assures the ASEAN of its steady support towards achieving a rules-based regional security architecture that best attests to the region’s interests and its peaceful development,” he said. Modi’s comments came a day after he and US President Donald Trump discussed shared commitment of the two countries for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The issue is understood to have figured in Modi’s talks with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull.
ALSO READ PM Modi showcases reforms, seeks global investment at ASEAN Business and Investment Summit On Sunday, India, Australia, Japan and the US held their first meeting to give shape to the much talked about quadrilateral alliance to keep the Indo-Pacific region “free and open”. Prime Minister Modi also called for concerted efforts by countries of region to deal with terrorism and extremism. “We have individually strived very hard to fight terrorism and violent extremism. It is time that we jointly address this challenge by intensifying cooperation in this crucial area,” he said.Favoring deepening of trade ties, Modi said, “Maritime links established thousands of years ago between India and ASEAN countries have enabled our trade relations in the past and we have to work closely to further strengthen them.” The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.The issue of China’s aggressive posturing figured prominently during the ASEAN summit also. China claims sovereignty over all of SCS, a huge source of hydrocarbons. However, several ASEAN member countries including Vietnam, Philippines and Brunei have counter claims. India has been supporting freedom of navigation and access to resources in the SCS in accordance with principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.The ASEAN has been pushing for a legally binding code of conduct for all stakeholders in the SCS but Beijing has been opposing such a framework asserting that it will resolve the dispute with respective countries under bilateral mechanism. Prime Minister Modi also talked about shared values and common destiny between India and ASEAN.”The befitting theme of ‘Shared Values, Common Destiny’ for our 25th anniversary celebrations has been jointly celebrated with a number of commemorative activities. I look forward to a befitting culmination of the commemorative year and receiving you at the India-ASEAN Special Commemorative Summit on 25 January 2018 in New Delhi,” he said. Modi said 1.25 billion people of India are keen to welcome the ASEAN leaders as the Chief Guests at India’s 69th Republic Day Celebrations.Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei are the members of the ASEAN. The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing. The ASEAN region along with India together comprises combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is one fourth of the global population and their combined GDP has been estimated at over USD 3.8 trillion.Investment from ASEAN to India has been over USD 70 billion in the last 17 years accounting for more than 17 per cent of India s total FDI. Prime Minister Modi also participated at a meeting of leaders of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP, comprising 10-member ASEAN bloc and six other countries — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, is engaged in negotiations for a free trade pact.

Monorail halted for 10 days after fire

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the state Urban Development department ordering an inquiry on Friday into the incident of the Wadala-Chembur Monorail coaches catching fire, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) announced that Monorail services will be shut for another 10 days.It said that line will be operational only after the independent committee submits its report and safety of the monorail train is established.”We are not going to make the Monorail operational till we get the report on the health of all the trains,” an MMRDA official said. “This may take another eight to 10 days. We also have to submit a report to the state urban development department in the next week or so, explaining the reason behind the fire and details of all 10 Monorail trains.”The shutting of commercial services of the Monorail will monetary losses to the MMRDA. Around 15,000 commuters use the first phase of the Monorail between Wadala and Chembur, every day. The ridership is expected to increase once the second phase, between Wadala and Jacob Circle, becomes operational.Meanwhile, the train that caught fire is still stuck at Mysore Colony Monorail station. Out of its total four coaches, two were affected by the fire and they will be taken back to the depot by Sunday evening; the remaining coaches will be pushed with the help of another Monorail.On Thursday morning, an empty Monorail on its way from Wadala Depot to Chembur, caught fire at Mysore Colony Monorail station. While the reason of fire is not known yet, the fire brigade is expected to prepare a report on the incident within a week. MMRDA’s independent committee will also conduct a probe.Ever since the first phase of the Monorail was made operational in 2014, it has been in the news for constant breakdowns in the rakes.

Alleged arms smuggler held in Ghaziabad, 21 pistols seized

Updated: Nov 11, 2017, 08:47 AM IST, PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The police on Saturday arrested a person and seized 21 country-made pistols from him, an official said.He was arrested by a police team from the Tigri roundabout where a search operation was launched on the basis of a tip-off, SP Akash Tomar said.The officer said that 21 country-made pistols of different bores were seized. He has been identified as Kausar, a native of Shamli district, he said.He has confessed that he used to smuggle firearms to criminal groups in Noida, Vijay Nagar and other districts of the National Capital Region, the SP claimed.

Act immediately to fight ’emergency situation’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Deeming the current weather condition in the Capital an “emergency situation”, the Delhi High court has directed the Centre to hold meetings with relevant authorities in Delhi and adjoining states of the National Capital Region (NCR) to introduce short-term measures to control pollution immediately.A bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva also issued a slew of measures including water sprinkling, cloud seeding, and an immediate ban on constructions to battle the “pea soup fog”, which it said had engulfed the city of London in 1952.”What we are facing today has already been faced by London. They call it a pea soup fog. It is a killer. Stubble burning is the visible villain in it, but there are other elephants in the room, too,” the bench said.”Stubble smog is the cataliser but construction dust on road, vehicular emissions and industrial pollution is a deadly mix. We have to deal with it one by one. But, what can be done immediately?” the court asked.During the course of the hearing, the court-appointed amicus-curiae, senior counsel Kailash Vasdev, informed the court that several measures like a total ban on the felling of trees, sprinkling water on the streets and ensuring sufficient supply of oxygen should immediately be taken to bring the situation under control.He also sought that Delhi and all the neighbouring states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan should file a status report on stubble burning.

Uber says ‘no surge pricing’ as Delhi braces for Odd-Even from Monday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supporting the Delhi government’s decision to bring back the odd-even scheme, Uber on Thursday said there would be no surge pricing and special fares will be available for pool rides.”[email protected]_India fully committed to supporting #OddEven. No surge pricing, Spl fares on Pool/Moto, Discounted rides to metro stations,” Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Uber India’s Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs said on Twitter.The national capital has lately been all over the news as the region continues to breathe toxic haze and the air quality has crossed ‘danger’ level.After receiving much flak from the opposition and the Delhi High court for not taking enough measures to control the air pollution and provide clean environment, the Arvind Kejriwal government on Thursday decided to bring back the odd-even scheme from November 13 to November 17.The National Capital Region, on Wednesday woke up to a haze that crossed the World Health Organization’s acceptable level of air quality by over 30 times. The Delhi government has declared that schools will remain closed till Sunday and the closure might be extended if the situation continues to be worse.The Indian Medical Association (IMA) had already declared it a ‘public health emergency’ and have urged the government to ban any outdoor activities.

Govt mulls copter service from IGIA to NCR

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It takes almost the same time to fly to Delhi from other metro cities and to travel on road from one spot to the other within the National Capital Region (NCR). Considering the size of the region as well as its traffic problems, the Centre is now exploring the possibility for air travellers to avail helicopter services from the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) to satellite cities such as Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, and Ghaziabad.Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey has asked the airport operator, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), to explore the possibility of providing space for helicopters within the Delhi airports, so that direct connectivity can be provided to air travellers. The move will help commuters bypass the cumbersome traffic congestion and reach their respective destinations within a much shorter time.If successful, the plan will be replicated in three other metropolitan cities — Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata.”This will be a big relief for frequent flyers as many of them complain about missing their flights due to traffic chaos,” a source in the Ministry of Civil Aviation said. These choppers could also be used as air ambulances, and hospitals and patients could avail the facility on a regular basis. The service will particularly facilitate swifter organ transfer, as compared to green corridor. “A Detailed Project Report is being prepared and accordingly, changes will be made in building bylaws, wherein rooftop helipads might also be included,” the source added.Initially, however, the Centre will use unattended helipads in these satellite cities.In July this year, a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had revealed that there were no “non-peak hours” in Delhi anymore as there was almost no difference in the time taken to travel during peak and non-peak hours. The CSE had carried out the study on 13 arterial roads for 12 hours daily. It stated that on an average, the morning and evening peak traffic speeds were 28 kmph and 25 kmph, and the off-peak speed was 27 kmph.Expansion planPossibility to avail services from IGIA to satellite cities like Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad If successful, the plan will be replicated in three other cities — Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata

State minister has a change of mind, says will contest polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jayanti Kavadiya, the minister of state for rural development and panchayat in Gujarat government, has changed his mind. Days after he informed the Bharatiya Janata Party that he did not wish to contest the polls, Kavadiya said he is now ready for the fray, but from a different constituency, according to sources.Kavadiya is an MLA from Dhrangadhra-Halwad constituency, the region where the Patel agitation has had a great impact. The Patel community had also held protests against Kavadiya, indicating that he was up against a rising force.In July, a clash between the nomadic Bharvad and Rajput communities vitiated the atmosphere in the region. With too many challenges, sources said, it would be tough for the BJP candidate to win and Kavadiya reportedly had informed the party that he did not wish to contest the polls. The 52-year-old politician had said that he should make way for a young face, they said.Party sources said that Kavadiya has now wished to contest the polls from different seat and not from Dhrangadhra.”Kavadiya has now expressed his wish to contest polls before a very senior leader of party a few days back. He wishes to contest polls from another seat. He may be eyeing at Wadhwan seat that is safer because of urban population and lesser dominance of Patel community. Wadhwan is also a BJP fort so Kavadiya may win here,” said a source.Kavadiya, however, said tha he was firm on his stand and is not keen to contest the election. “I strongly believe that new faces should be inducted by party and they should be given chance to contest polls. I have not showed my desire to contest polls before anyone.”

Moderate earthquake shakes Kashmir Valley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A moderate intensity earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale shook the Kashmir valley on Saturday night. No loss of life or property was reported anywhere in the valley.A spokesman of the Meteorological Department Kashmir said that the tremor hit the valley at 11.15 pm on Saturday and lasted only a few seconds. “The epicenter of the earthquake was in the Hindukush Region in Afghanistan,” he said.The coordinates of the earthquake was latitude 36.2 degrees north and longitude 70.5 degrees east. Jammu and Kashmir is prone to earthquakes as it falls in a vulnerable seismic zone of the country. In October 2005, more than 1,300 people died and tens of thousands of houses and other structures were damaged when a massive earthquake struck the border areas of Uri and Tangdhar sectors of north Kashmir.On October 27, 2015 a powerful earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale wreaked havoc leaving two elderly women dead. Two Army men suffered serious injuries when their bunker wall collapsed in the quake.PREVIOUS QUAKEOn October 27, 2015 a powerful earthquake in J&K measuring 7.5 left two elderly women dead, and two Army men serious injured when their bunker wall collapsed

Time for Pak to make a choice: Afghan President Ghani slams Islamabad for supporting terror

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Lambasting Pakistan for its support to terrorism, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani today said time has come for Islamabad to make a clear choice, suggesting the country may have to pay a price under the US’s new South Asia policy if it does not stop backing the terror groups.On the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he mentioned about the sovereignty issue raised by India and said if Afghanistan was not given transit access to Wagah and Attari for trade with India via Pakistan, then Kabul will also restrict Islamabad’s access to central Asia.Hailing India’s role in Afghanistan, he said the new US policy was an important tribute to the importance of New Delhi in bringing peace and stability to the region, hit by the spectre of terror.Ghani was delivering an address at Vivekananda International Foundation, attended by a select gathering of a number of foreign envoys, former diplomats and strategic affairs experts.Identifying terrorism as a major challenge facing the region, Ghani, in a clear reference to Pakistan, said unfettered support is being provided to the terror groups which are destabilising the entire region.”Sanctuaries are provided, logistics are provided, training is provided, ideological base is provided… Pakistan has come to a juncture and it needs to make a choice,” he said, asserting, “Our reaction will be determined by its choices.”Talking about the peace process, Ghani suggested that he does not ignore India’s role in bringing peace and stability to the war-ravaged country. He said the next round of Kabul process will be held in January next year.He said the South Asia strategy announced by the Trump administration was a “game changer” as it recommends multi- dimensional condition-based approach for the region.”It (the strategy) singled out India for engagement in this approach,” he said.Asked about defence cooperation with India, he referred to supply of four attack helicopters to Afghan Air Force by India.”Our collaboration with India is very open. We are delighted with the four helicopters. More Mi 35 helicopters are welcome,” he said refusing to elaborate further.The Afghan president also rejected suspicion in Islamabad that India and Afghanistan have joined hands against Pakistan.”There is no secret agreement between Afghanistan and India. There are no secret Indian facilities. There is no destabilisation of any neighbours from Afghanistan taking place through implicit or explicit collusion. Let’s get out of the world of fiction,” he said.Ghani also talked about announcement of USD 1 billion package to Afghanistan last year by India, saying it was like contribution of USD one dollar by every Indian to his country.Talking about the fragile peace process in Afghanistan, he said efforts will be to win the war morally.”We would like to see a push back from Pakistan vis-a-vis Taliban and not a Pakistan-managed peace process with the Taliban. We want peace with Pakistan and that is a fundamental issue for our stability,” said the Afghan president.Seen as a message to Pakistan, he said if the “hand of peace” is rejected, then he was “ready to serve with honour as the commander in chief to the last breath into the last drop of blood”.Indicating hostilities against Afghanistan by Pakistan, Ghani, in a lighter vein, said Afghanistan cannot exit its neighbourhood as its like a Catholic marriage.He said lack of a regional consensus has eluded peace and stability in Afghanistan and rued about “fragmented response” to terrorism.”Our objective is to pursue the goal of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan within the context of a stable and peaceful region,” he said.Ghani said connectivity was key for integration of the Asian economy and all stakeholders must work unitedly to realise the true potential of trade and commerce of the region.”We are clear, we want to be what we call an Asian roundabout. This is important for integration of the Asian economy,” he said.Ghani also quoted poet Iqbal and said Afghanistan is at the heart of the region and peace in the country will translate into peace in the entire region.

Delhi ‘severe’ air quality situation to improve today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Delhi’s air quality was pushed into the ‘severe’ zone due to fireworks on the day of Diwali, the volume of pollutants considerably slipped on Saturday due to a strong wind movement throughout the day. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the situation will improve further by Sunday, if favourable conditions prevail. “The wind speed is expected to pick up and reach up to 9 km/hour, which is adequate enough for the dispersion of suspended particulates. Yesterday and the day before, the wind speed and mixing height were extremely low, which led to the rapid build-up of pollutants near the surface,” CPCB officials said.The improvement was captured by the pollution monitoring stations. Six of the eight stations maintained by SAFAR (System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research), an agency under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, had air quality index (AQI) in the ‘very poor’ category, a shade better than “severe”. Among the stations maintained by the CPCB, nine of the 17 were in the “very poor” category, while the rest recorded “severe” air quality.At 12 pm, the 24-hour rolling average of PM2.5 and PM10, ultra-fine particulates, which are up to 30 times tinier than the width of a human hair, were 206 and 357 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/m3) respectively, as against yesterday’s 407 and 595.The Supreme Court’s ban on the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) to lessen the health risks this year had some impact as Delhi had its cleanest Diwali in three years, but pollution levels still peaked to dangerous levels on Thursday night and Friday morning.ON RECORDThe CPCB had on Friday recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 403 in Delhi, 402 in Noida and 412 in Ghaziabad, all in the severe zone, or the most polluted category, on October 20. The sulphur dioxide levels that otherwise remain very low in the region, had increased by more than three times in several locations

Speak up Delhi: Not all on same page over Supreme Court ban on firecrackers in NCR

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court ban on sale of firecrackers last week has invited mixed reactions from different sections of the society. With the top court of the country firm on its decision not to lift the ban under any circumstances, it’s not just the traders who are ruing loss of business, but a section of the youth is also complaining about dampened festive spirits.Taking cue from deteriorating air quality over the past few years, that hits its peak during Diwali, the Supreme Court (SC) on October 9, suspended sale of firecrackers in the capital till the end of October. Putting health of citizens at the centrestage of the order, the court said it wanted to test whether a festival without the fireworks will have a “positive effect” on public health and rapidly rising pollution levels.In its 20-page judgment, the SC noted that the general consensus was that it is not essential to burst crackers to celebrate Diwali, which could be celebrated with equal fervour with other means as well. The court also took note of reports that indicated of alarming pollution levels and smog like condition post-Diwali. The SC also cleared that it has only stopped the sale of crackers, not imposed a ban on bursting them, hence, in no way it has spoilt the festive fervour.Last year, the capital and its National Capital Region was in one its worst polluted times, was covered in a thick blanket of smog for around 10 days, raising major health concerns.While the ban has been welcomed by health experts and many in the public, the efficacy of its implementation is being questioned by a lot of people. Crackers are still being sold in parts of the city, and according to businessmen, a large part of their stock has already been bought. Police raids notwithstanding, street vendors in lanes of Old Delhi are openly peddling crackers. Unmindful of the health hazards that bursting of cracker cause, they argue that it is their means of livelihood , and health and environment can wait.In other parts of the capital, traders are ruing loss of business, accusing the SC of using an iron hand to handle pollution and in the process, taking away their livelihood.DNA spoke to people from different parts of the city to find out their opinion on the ban.CLEAR VERDICTThe SC, last Friday, refused to modify its order banning firecracker sales in Delhi-NCR, saying it was anguished at people giving the ruling a communal angle. On Monday, the Court reinstated its ban on the sale of firecrackers in and around New Delhi ahead of Diwali, a preemptive step aimed at preventing a toxic haze from engulfing the region like last year. Diwali is incomplete without crackers. We have a long tradition of firing crackers on Diwali. This is how poor people express the joy within themselves. Why is the argument of banning crackers is being raised to impact a particular community.—Dipanshu Mallick, businessman living in NCRDelhi being the capital of India should be exemplary to the rest of the country. The ban would definitely compel other states to act against hazardous air pollution. All you need on Diwali is diyas and sweets and that is the ideal way to celebrate this occasion.—Dikshant Saxena, teacher in GurgaonVehicles ply all around the year and cause air pollution. How come Supreme Court tend to ignore the pollution emitted from vehicles, why are the vehicles still running on roads? —Abhishek Verma, working in a software companyThough a bit late this decision should be welcomed by all as bursting crackers is not something which orginates from Indian culture. It was the chinese who invented crackers and have a tradition of bursting them during festivals. All you need for a festival is love and sweets.—Aditya Chawdhary, college studentI welcome the ban. It is a good decision by the honourable Supreme Court in order to curb air pollution in National Capital Region. Last year, the air quality was so unbearable that we had to shift to another city for a month. If we wish to survive and live in a healthy way then we have to get away with the crackers.”—Vipul Rohilla, owns a pathology labWhy only Delhi? This should be implemented all across India. Not only Delhi, but Kanpur and Ludhiana have the most toxic air in atmosphere. If not for others let us celebrate this verdict for our own sake and make this diwali eco-friendly.—Saksham Rai, student in ASMSEXPERT SPEAKPeople in Delhi and its National Capital Region have sizeable amount of disposable income, which automatically translates into concentrated and conspicuous cracker purchasing and burning. About time that we thought of celebrating Diwali without making it a festival that leads to health hazards.—Chetan Agarwal, environment activist.

MMRDA may bring in integrated smart card for toll, rlys, buses

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Motorists in the city may soon be able to pay toll with a smart card that can also be used to purchase tickets for suburban trains, buses, Metro and Monorail.After a recent visit to London to study their integrated ticketing system, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials are now contemplating introducing a common smart card.Sanjay Khandare, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, said, “During our visit to London, we were shown two options – one where toll payment would be included in the system and one without the option of being able to pay toll.”He added, “The toll option would be limited within the city initially and may be extended later. For now, we are studying different models, considering the complexity of Mumbai where there are different agencies handling different modes of transport.”Officials from Railways, MMRDA and the BEST had visited London last month to study the ‘Oyster Card’ system, a form of electronic ticketing system used for travelling in the London Tube, railway, trams, boats along with the UK’s national rail services.At a review meeting last week, CM Devendra Fadnavis had asked MMRDA to introduce a single ticketing system by end of the year.

Why only Hindu festivals, ban goat sacrifice also: Chetan Bhagat after SC ban on sale of firecrackers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today said its order of last November banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) will continue till October 31. A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said the apex court’s September 12 order temporarily lifting the stay and permitting sale of firecrackers would be effective from November 1. Diwali is on October 19 and the order effectively means that no firecrackers will be available for purchase before the festival. The top court said it has not changed the September 12 order but its November 11, 2016 order banning the sale of firecrackers “should be given a chance”.The top court, through the 2016 order, had suspended all licences which “permit sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR”. On September 12 this year, the apex court had temporarily lifted its earlier order and permitted sale of firecrackers. The apex court’s order came on a plea seeking restoration of the November 2016 order.While a lot of Twitterati vented on Twitter, popular author Chetan Bhagat slammed the SC wondering what was ‘Diwali without crackers’. He went on to rant: “Can I just ask on cracker ban. Why only guts to do this for Hindu festivals? Banning goat sacrifice and Muharram bloodshed soon too?” He further wrote: “It is one day of the year. Our biggest festival. Uber has saved pollution more than any ban would. Come up with innovations. Not bans. Diwali one day a year is causing disorders? Or unchecked polluters who pollute everyday? If you care turn off electricity in your house for a week and don’t use cars. On what basis are you imposing a ban on someone’s traditions?”Check out his tweets below: With inputs from PTI

Pakistan PM accuses India of unleashing propaganda against CPEC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said India is unleashing baseless propaganda against the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).”India wanted to divert attention over its (alleged) atrocities in occupied Kashmir through false allegations about Pakistan’s support to indigenous Kashmiri struggle for freedom,” Radio Pakistan quoted Abbasi, as saying. He asserted that prime ministerial-level talks can only be held after India ends alleged rights violations in Kashmir, implement UN resolutions, end Line of Control (LoC) violations and budge from its Cold War doctrine.Abbasi dismissed U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis’ statement over CPEC, saying the United Nations should ensure implementation of Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. Pakistan’s Foreign Office has already dismissed Washington’s concerns over CPEC, saying the project is for the betterment of the region and beyond.The Foreign Office was responding to Mattis telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that the One Belt, One Road goes through disputed territory and that it itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate. On October 7, China cautioned the Trump administration about CPEC, citing that its OBOR initiative was not directed against third parties.”We have repeatedly said that the CPEC is an economic cooperation initiative that is not directed against third parties and has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes and does not affect China’s principled stance on the Kashmir issue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, in a statement. Mattis also said that in a globalised world, there are many belts and many roads and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating the ‘One Belt, One Road’.China came up with its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in 2013. The CPEC project comprises a network of railways, roads and pipelines that would connect Pakistan’s port city of Gwadar in the province of Balochistan, with the Chinese city of Kashgar in landlocked Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).Human rights activists have time and again spoken about and highlighted growing atrocities in Pakistan and particularly on the indigenous people of Balochistan as a result of the CPEC.

Supreme Court restores ban on sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of the festive season of Diwali, the Supreme Court on Monday restored a ban till November 1 on the sale of crackers in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR).The court gave the verdict on a plea seeking restoration of the apex court’s last year order.The top court, through its November 11 order last year, had suspended all licences which ‘permit a sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR’.The apex court had last month temporarily lifted its earlier order suspending licences for sale of firecrackers, saying a complete ban would be an ‘extreme step’ and a graded approach was needed to curb pollution caused by them.The court, however, had said its order lifting the ban on sale of firecrackers might require a ‘review’ after Diwali depending on the ambient air quality after the festival.

SC to hear plea tomorrow for restoring ban on firecrackers in NCR

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Diwali on the anvil, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it would hear a plea seeking restoration of its last year’s order banning firecrackers in the Delhi-National Capital Region on Friday.The plea has also sought recall of last month’s apex court verdict which had temporarily lifted the order of November 11, 2016, suspending permanent licences for sale of firecrackers in the Delhi-NCR.The matter came up for hearing before a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan and lawyer Gopal Shankarnarayanan, appearing for the petitioner, said last year’s order should continue.The apex court had then suspended all licences which “permit sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR”.During the brief hearing, Shankarnarayanan told the bench that the top court had on September 12 this year temporarily lifted its earlier order on the applications filed by some firecracker manufacturers.He said when the court had passed the order last year, it had already considered the submissions of the firecracker manufacturers and it was admitted that firecrackers was one of the reasons for rise of pollution in Delhi-NCR.”What modification you are seeking,” the bench asked.”We are seeking recall of this (September 12) order and restoration of the earlier order of November 2016,” the lawyer said, adding “the ban order of 2016 should continue”.However, the bench observed the matter had “progressed from time to time” after the order was passed in November last year.”We will hear it tomorrow,” the bench said.The Delhi government said that as directed by the court on September 12, they have came out with a plan of action to sensitise and educate school children about the health hazards and ill-effects of breathing polluted air, including the pollution caused by the fireworks.The counsel representing the Delhi government said they would file an affidavit in this regard later today.The apex court had last month temporarily lifted its earlier order suspending licences for sale of fire crackers in the NCR, saying a complete ban would be an “extreme step” and a graded approach was needed to curb pollution caused by them.The court, however, had said its order lifting the ban on sale of fire crackers might require a “review” after Diwali depending on the ambient air quality after the festival.Besides passing several directions, it had also set up a committee to study the impact of the firecrackers on health of Delhi’ites during the upcoming festivals and directed the police to slash by half the number of temporary licences this year compared to last year and cap it at 500.​

Delhi High Court tells police: Ensure provisions of Explosives Act are followed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi police to ensure that various provisions of the Explosives Act, 1884 and the Explosive Rules, 2008 are strictly adhered to after a plea was filed alleging that the city police is not complying with the requirements that the sheds for possession and sale of fireworks shall be at a distance of at least three metres from each other and 50 meters from any protected area.A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Harishankar dsiposed off the petition while directing the the Delhi police to ensure that the provisions of the Acts are adhered.The directions from the court came after a plea was filed by Jai Hind Sewa Kendra, an NGO which alleged that while inviting applications for issuance of licenses for sale of fire crackers, the Delhi police is not complying with the requirement of Rule 84 of the Explosives Rules, 2008 and more particularly the mandate of sub-rule of Rule 84 of the Explosives Rules, 2008.Rule 84 (2) of the Explosives Rules 2008 empowers the District Magistrate to issue temporary licenses for possession and sale of fireworks in a temporary shop provide that, “The sheds for possession and sale of fireworks shall be at a distance of at least three meters from each other and 50 meters from any protected area.”It cannot be denied that the statutory mandate as well as the stipulations of the Rules framed thereunder have to be strictly adhered to and complied with,” the court said in its order.Earlier this month, the Supreme Court lifted its order of suspending the permanent licences for sale and retail of firecrackers within the National Capital Region (NCR) “for the time being” .

Metro sees a 3-time decrease in littering since 2014

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi residents have become more sensitised towards keeping the Metro clean over the years, according to data. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has registered a three-time decrease in the number of offenders for littering the train and Metro stations since 2014.According to the data available with the DMRC, it has fined nearly 980 people for spitting and dirtying the surroundings till now this year. The figure was around 2,700 in 2014, which came down to 1,935 in 2015. The offenders decreased further in 2016, with the DMRC issuing 1,885 challans.The reduction in such fines is a pat on the back of residents, considering the huge rush of commuters on the Metro daily. The train that connects the length and breadth of the National Capital Region, including border areas of the Capital, receives a footfall of 27 lakh passengers every year, and an annual number that touches around 100 crore.Anyone found spitting in the train or otherwise dirtying the stations, is fined Rs 200 by the DMRC. Apart from posters and graffiti on stations and stickers inside the train, as well as tickers warning passengers from dirtying the train, the DMRC also uses public announcement system to create awareness regarding cleanliness among passengers. The train and stations are also monitored by CCTVs, contributing to the DMRC’s efforts to keep the surroundings clean.Expressing happiness at the falling number of offenders for littering, a DMRC official said people were becoming increasingly aware of the significance of cleanliness. “We give the entire credit to commuters for helping us in our constant endeavour to provide world class facilities to them when they travel in the Metro. The reduced figures are heartening considering lakhs of passengers that use the Delhi Metro daily,” the official said.Recently, the DMRC had observed the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by planting 600 trees in Delhi on Sunday. It also brought in a self-help group, comprising several cleanliness volunteers and NGOs, who enthusiastically dedicated themselves to ‘shramdaan’ (effort donation) towards cleanliness initiatives.

Come to Amethi post October 5; can’t give security until Muharram, Durga Puja ends: Amethi officials tell Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Amethi District Magistrate on Sunday requested the Congress district president of the area to reschedule the visit of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was scheduled to visit the region between October 4 and October 6.Citing Muharram and Durga idol immersion, Yogesh Kumar, the district magistrate of Amethi, wrote to the district president, saying that due to the festivals, there will be police bandobast to ensure law and order in the region. Rahul Gandhi’s visit, he said, would mean less security forces ensuring that the festivals go on peacefully. He further requested the Congress vice president to reschedule his visit for after October 5.The Congress is yet to respond to the request

Cost of running Monorail 3 times of revenue it earned in two years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a reply to a Right To Information (RTI) query, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has revealed that Monorail services are being operated at huge losses.In the last two years the income from Monorail-I between Chembur and Wadala stood at around Rs 10 crore. This amount is not even half of the cost required to operate it. The total operational cost to run the Monoraill services in the past two years stood at around Rs 31 crore.The Monorail services are currently operational between Chembur and Wadala and ever since their inception in 2014, the average per day ridership has remained not more than 13,000-15,000 commuters.In an RTI reply to activist Prithviraj Maske, MMRDA has informed that total revenue generated from Monorail between April 2015 and March 2016 was Rs 4.36 crore and the expenses incurred to run Monorail in the same period stood at Rs 13.96 crore.Between April 2016 and March 2017 total revenue generated from Monorail was Rs 4.12 crore, and expenses incurred to run Monorail in that period was Rs 13.78 crore.Between April 2017 and August 2017, total revenue generated from Monorail was Rs 1.61 crore. While the expenditure for running Monorail between April 2017 and June 2017 stood at Rs 3.49 crore.The MMRDA has maintained that once the second phase between Wadala and Jacob Circle in Mahalaxmi is made operational the losses would be recovered.“We expect a ridership of 1 lakh commuters per day considering the second phase is going through densely populated areas,” said an MMRDA official.

MMRDA mulls metro link to Virar, Vasai

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Anticipating urban sprawl in satellite cities nearing Mumbai, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is now planning to have a Metro corridor connecting Vasai and Virar to Mumbai. With this corridor, commuters would be able to seamlessly travel between Virar and Churchgate.Commuters would be benefitted with direct connectivity between Virar and Churchgate by taking interchanging Metro at Dahisar and Airport. At Dahisar, commuters can take the Dahisar east- Andheri east Metro-7 corridor and travel up to Airport and from there, commuters can take the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro-3 underground corridor.UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, told DNA, “We will have to ultimately connect Vasai and Virar with Metro connectivity and not have Metro only up to Bhayander. We would be preparing the detailed project report (DPR) for connecting Vasai and Virar with Metro.”“The Metro corridor connecting Vasai and Virar would not be taken up for execution immediately but would be taken up gradually. This because the priority of MMRDA is to complete the Metro works for which the work has already started or is at bidding stage,” said a MMRDA official.

MMRDA floats bids for new monorail operator

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After facing several problems in running monorail services for three years, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is now looking for a new operator. The authority on Thursday floated bids for the second time to find a new operator, who would operate and maintain the monorail for the next 10 years between Chembur and Jacob Circle.The MMRDA had floated bids in January this year but scrapped the same citing that the prospective bidders had few concerns with the tender process. “The contractors had requested us to decrease the amount of deposit that is the earnest money deposit. So in this case, we had to float new bids,” Sanjay Khandare, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA.According to MMRDA officials, the contract with Malaysian firm, Scomi Engineering was for three years, and now it was up to MMRDA to either stay with the same contractor or appoint a new one.The bid floated by MMRDA on Thursday, reads, “MMRDA invites bids for operation and maintenance for elevated Monorail for 10 years.”

India, Japan to step up naval co-op amid China’s rising presence in Indian Ocean

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Japan have decided to enhance their naval cooperation that will include training for anti-submarine warfare amid the increased control of China in the Indian Ocean Region.Frequent forays by Chinese vessels have been a matter of great concern for India as the Chinese Navy controls ports in Djibouti, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and now Myanmar.The increased frequency of Chinese vessels docked in Karachi and “unusual” activities of their naval units in the Indian Ocean has raised an alarm, sources said.The enhanced naval cooperation was decided on Tuesday during Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to Japan.”The Ministers expressed satisfaction at the success of Japan-India-US Trilateral Maritime Exercise Malabar 2017 in July this year and confirmed their intention to deepen and advance the objectives of this exercise. Japan’s Minister of Defense, Itsunori Onodera expressed his intention to have state-of-the-art Japanese assets to participate in the Malabar 2018,” the India-Japan joint statement said.Bilateral training and regular interactions between Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) have also been decided. Japan has decided to invite Indian Navy personnel to mine countermeasures training held by JMSDF.Navy intelligence reports indicate that on the pretext of anti-piracy operations, the Chinese Navy has enhanced its power in the Indian Ocean Region.The decision to step up military ties is also significant as it comes in wake of China’s increasing efforts to dominate the South China Sea.”The ministers exchanged views and ideas with the aim to further strengthen defence and security cooperation under the framework of the Japan-lndia Special Strategic and Global Partnership,” the joint statement added.

NCR to get common Air Quality Index by October

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Considered to be one of the world’s most polluted regions in the world, the National Capital Region will shortly have a common Air Quality Index (AQI) based on data from around 50 monitoring stations in the north of India namely, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.Currently the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) put out separate AQI lists for the cities of the region while the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) shares real-time data.A common AQI, which is an advisory for people of the air quality will be great benefit. Experts said that in the past, data of air quality status had not matched between the various agencies and in a recent meeting, the Environment Pollution and Control Authority (EPCA) had directed the CPCB to expedite the data integration process.”This (a common AQI) will help cut through the confusion and an accurate picture of the air quality status will emerge. Currently, there are days when the AQI of CPCB does not match with that of the SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research), which comes under the MoES,” a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) said.EPCA member Sunita Narain, who is also the chief of the Centre for Science and Environment said that with the expanded pollution monitoring network, authorities will be able to assess air quality at the local level, whereas currently one gets only a macro level picture.The air quality index or AQI is basically a figure and a series of colour codings shared by agencies on the level of pollution. For example, the one CPCB shares ranges between 0 and 500. An AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘Good’, 51-100 ‘Satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘Moderate’, 201-300 ‘Poor’, 301-400 ‘Very Poor’, and 401-500 ‘Severe’.The CPCB has also formed around 40 teams for round-the- clock inspections at the ground level to check violations such as burning of waste in the open, dust from construction projects and visibly polluting vehicles on roads through the winter months when pollution levels in Delhi rise.THE BENEFITSThis will help cut through the confusion and an accurate picture of the air quality status will emerge.
Authorities will be able to assess air quality at the local level whereas currently one gets only a macro level picture.

Centre considering over 60 proposals for Northeast-based start-ups

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre is considering over 60 proposals for start-ups in the Northeast, and will provide initial funds for such initiatives under a new scheme.Minister for Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh said the Northeast Venture Fund was the first dedicated venture capital fund for the region and that his ministry would offer an additional benefit of providing the initial funds to any youngster planning to set up an enterprise.He said hundreds of queries were pouring in each day with the DoNER Ministry and over 60 proposals were already in the pipeline for consideration, an official statement said.Singh said the initiative to set up the fund began in April this year after the prime minister announced the “Start-up India, Stand-up India” programme, which includes incentives like tax holiday in the early phase and an exit period of three months.The minister said the Northeast Venture Fund is attracting young start-ups in more and more numbers and has generated huge enthusiasm among entrepreneurs looking for an opportunity in the Northeast.He said the North-East Venture Fund has been set up by the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi), which already has the mandate to encourage entrepreneurship in the region primarily by offering support to the first- generation entrepreneurs.In addition, Singh said, the NEDFi also performs the role of hand-holding and capacity building.The minister said the region had huge potential for young start-ups unlike many other parts of the country and hoped that the unique idea of setting up a dedicated venture fund would make up for the constraints faced by a youngster when he set out to be on his own.

Dengue on a rise, 110 cases reported in a week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The municipal corporations of Delhi reported at least 110 fresh cases of dengue in the last week, till August 26, taking the total count of affected people in the National Capital Region (NCR) to 945 — 435 in Delhi and 510 in the neighbouring states.The total number of cases of malaria and chikungunya, reported till August 26, were 61 and 28 respectively, higher than last week.Doctors and authorities have expressed concern that the number of cases will rise in the months of September and October. In Delhi, the maximum number of dengue cases were reported from south Delhi — 31 cases in the last one week and 95 in the entire year. The north and east Delhi civic bodies reported 14 and 6 cases in the last week, respectively.”Dengue is on a rise. We are getting cases on a regular basis. We have been receiving an equal number of swine flu cases as well,” Dr S P Byotra, Head of Medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said.”September and October are the dreaded months, but even in August, we received 3-4 cases a day, making it at least 25 cases a week,” he added.

PLA conducts military drills amid Doklam tensions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command has conducted military exercises involving armoured forces and aviation units amid the military standoff with Indian troops at Doklam, near the Sikkim-Tibet-Bhutan trijunction. The Western Theatre Command covers Tibet, Xinjiang, Ningxia, Qinghai, Sichuan and Chongqing. ?A five-minute-long video was played on Chinese China Central Television of PLA troops conducting drills showed tanks firing at targets on hills, followed by helicopters firing missiles at ground targets. More than 10 PLA units, including aviation units and armoured forces, participated in the drills,? the Global Times reported. While the location of the military drills was not revealed, it was mentioned that the drills “lay the ground for plateau warfare.” ?Such Chinese PLA military exercises are meant to strike awe in India as the two sides have been engaged in a standoff in Doklam for more than two months, and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which is closest to India, is where the Western Theater Command is most prominent,? the Chinese state media reported. Earlier in July, PLA conducted live-fire exercises in Tibet Autonomous Region, near Yarlung Zangbo River located in the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River. The brigade has long been stationed around the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River and is responsible for frontline combat missions. PLA?s Tibet Military Command conducted the 11-hour long live-fire exercises at an altitude of 5,000 meters on the plateau in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, aimed at improving the combat capability on such locations, the military. The drills included the quick arrival of troops and different military units working together on joint attacks. As a side note, the stand-off began when China started constructing a road in the area. India objected to the road construction after the Chinese troops ignored Bhutanese protests, triggering the face-off from June 16. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has reiterated that India’s road map is peace and talks are going on to resolve the issue diplomatically. India has made its stance clear that that it stands for peace the border question can be solved diplomatically, not by war.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Coast Guard reviews operational preparedness of eastern region

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coast Guard Commander, Eastern Region, Rajan Bargotra today reviewed the operational preparedness of the the region at the District and Station Commanders Works conference here today. Bargotra reviewed the operational preparedness with emphasis on coastal security, pollution response and infrastructure development, an official release said. He sensitised the District Commanders on the present security scenario in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and stressed the importance of working in tandom with all the stake holders. The role of fishermen fraternity towards coastal security was also highlighted on the occasion. Coast Guard District and Station Commanders from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and senior officers from various Coast Guard units participated, it said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Rains return to Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rains made a comeback in Delhi today, ending a nearly week-long dry spell and bringing the temperature down to a comfortable 26 degrees Celsius. The weather office has forecast thunderstorm with showers later in the day. The maximum temperature is likely to be around 34 degrees Celsius. The city received 23.4 mm rainfall over the last 24 hours, an official of the Safdarjung weather observatory said. According to private weather agency Skymet, light intensity rains will continue at a few places over Delhi and the National Capital Region for the next 24 to 48 hours. Humidity level, which was 100 per cent at 8.30 am today, will also remain on the higher side, it said. Yesterday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 37.8 degrees Celsius while the minimum was 29 degrees Celsius.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

MMRDA, jail officials face off over installation of cutters

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) readies itself to make the second phase of the monorail between Wadala and Jacob Circle operational by this year end, the long stand-off between jail authorities at Arthur Road jail and MMRDA does not seem to end.The jail authorities have said that the MMRDA has not installed steel ‘view cutters’ to block the view of the jail premises on the monorail route. Senior MMRDA officials, however, maintain that they had written to jail authorities and the home department expressing the inability to install the view cutters.The MMRDA has been contending that monorail takes only 15 seconds to pass through the prison premises and the idea of installing steel view cutters is not feasible technically and financially.”There has been no reply and hence it is anticipated that installation of steel view cutters is an issue,” a senior MMRDA official said.However, when contacted, Arthur Road jail superintendent, Harshad Ahirrao, told DNA, “Authorities want the cutters to be installed and the MMRDA had given us in writing that they are bound to install these cutters.”The idea behind the cutters is to block the view of the jail premises so that anti-social elements do not plan any kind of attack on the monorail.Jail authorities insist that the MMRDA has to install steel view cutters, as that is the base on which the Maharashtra home department had, in 2010, granted permission for construction along the Sane Guruji Marg near Arthur Road jail.

Vehicles’ insurance can’t be renewed without PUC certificate:

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Concerned over rising vehicular pollution, the Supreme Court today issued a slew of directions that included non-renewal of insurance policy of vehicles unless the owner provides pollution under control (PUC) certificate to the insurance firms. A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta took note of the fact that some fuel refilling outlets in the National Capital Region (NCR) did not have the PUC centres. It asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, to ensure within four weeks that all fuel refilling centres in NCR have a functional PUC centre. The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has suggested strengthening inspection of PUC centres for quality control and introduce well-equipped mobile test centres and a programme to check visibly polluting vehicles. Taking note of the suggestions, mooted by EPCA through amicus curiae Aprajita Singh, the bench asked the Centre to implement most of these as these would help in curbing pollution. Singh alleged that almost 96 per cent vehicles clear pollution tests at PUC centres and either the machines required re-calibration or there was something wrong with the way such centres are functioning. EPCA has sought to enforce penalty for PUC centres for non-compliance and malpractices. The court also asked the Centre to consider creating a national database of vehicles to monitor as to whether they are complaint to emission norms. The apex court had earlier granted three months time to the Centre to come out with standards for emissions by industries in the National Capital Region (NCR) to bring down the level of air pollutants. The apex court had in May directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prepare standards for emissions by industries in the NCR to curb level of air pollutants. It had asked CPCB to prepare the standards for emissions by June 30, which should be followed by industries by December end. The bench was hearing a PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta way back in 1985 dealing with various aspects of pollution.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

B R Shetty group to set up quantum and analytics healthcare

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Abu Dhabi-based B R Shetty group will set up a quantum and analytics healthcare centre as a part of the proposed integrated BRS Medicity in Andhra Pradesh’s capital city Amaravati. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu today laid the foundation stone for the BRS Medicity, a 1.8 billion USD project, in the capital region. The quantum and analytics healthcare centre is being set up with an investment of Rs 330 crore. It will consist of a research centre, quantum computing secure hardware zone and data centre, according to a release issued by the AP Capital Region Development Authority. The quantum computing centre will employ 300 people, it said. The Medicity will have a Rs 1,150 crore medical university for 800 students, Rs 1,500 crore super-speciality hospital with 1,500 beds, Rs 500 crore medical devices manufacturing facility, knowledge process outsourcing centre that will employ 4,000 people, stem cell research centre, naturopathy and a yoga centre, the release said. The BR Shetty group will also set up an International Baccalaureate School that could have could have an intake of 2,890 students and provide 500 jobs, it added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

BMC to finally begin work on one-stop info website of city’s trees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as BMC is set to begin work on setting up a dedicated website, which will be the one-stop information portal for all details pertaining to trees in its jurisdiction, environmentalists have criticised the BMC for the delay, stating that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced this in March this year.Claiming this was a massive exercise and likely to take time, a senior BMC official said they plan to begin work soon. “This website will have information including number of trees in the city, along with details of permissions given to particular agencies or developers to cut or transplant trees. Apart from that there will also be updates on the health of trees transplanted and the success ratio,” said the official.He added that once ready, this website will bring major transparency as those seeking permission for tree-cutting or transplanting will know that now the information is openly available for people. This will make them more vigilant in taking care of trees.”We will write to all the authorities carrying out various infrastructure projects in the city requesting details of the trees they have transplanted as well as compensatory plantations. All permissions by Tree Authority will be scrutinised and uploaded onto the website. It will require a lot of time and initially we aim at putting up details of the past three years to begin with,” said another BMC official, adding that in case any agency fails to provide information on trees, they will be denied permissions in the future.In fact, recently, information procured under Right To Information (RTI) revealed that between the years 2014 to 2016 a total of 7,842 trees were axed by private individuals, BMC and other government bodies while a total of 13,070 were transplanted. Meanwhile, 49,060 saplings were planted in the last three years by BMC.It is not just BMC that will be required to set up this website, but all Municipal Corporations in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) including Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) and others will have to follow suit.

Won’t take coercive action against Ola, Uber: Govt to HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The State government on Thursday informed the Bombay High Court that it would not take any coercive action against cab aggregator companies Ola and Uber until September 18. The assurance was given as by then it expects a decision by the fare fixation committee.A division bench of Justice R M Sawant and Justice Sadhana Jadhav while allowing the matter to be adjourned observed that the policy should be rational and not discriminate between the varied players.The bench was hearing petitions filed by Uber India Ltd, Ola Ltd and six drivers plying cabs with these two companies challenging the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules implemented by the state government this year.Advocate G W Mattos sought time to file affidavit in the matter and said the committee set up by the government to look into the aspect of fare structure fixation has still not submitted its report. “Till we file the affidavit the government will not take any coercive steps in furtherance of the Rules,” he added.Petitions were filed against the new government rules by Ola and Uber drivers stating that according to the Rules, app-based taxis will not be allowed to ply within Mumbai Metropolitan Region on a national tourist permit. The drivers will have to obtain local permits and will not be allowed to ply on their national tourist permits.”We are encouraged by the Honourable Bombay High Court’s observations on certain provisions of Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2017 that can potentially have an adverse impact on drivers, riders and the entire ridesharing industry. Last month we had filed our petition highlighting the concerns raised by drivers, and we are committed to continue engaging with the government on the matter and find solutions that can help keep drivers, riders and the city moving,” said an Uber spokesperson.Ola on the other hand refused to comment on the issue.

Metro-2B corridor work hits a roadblock

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seven months after floating bids for construction of DN Nagar-Mandale Metro-2B corridor, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has hit a roadblock with the corridor still lacking a crucial nod from the Airport Authority of India (AAI).The elevated Metro corridor will run parallel to funnel zone of the Juhu aerodrome. Due to this, the height of the elevated Metro-2B will have to alter as the Juhu aerodrome consists of an emergency runway. It is also one of the busiest heliports in the country.According to MMRDA officials, it is the AAI nod that will be crucial for commencing civil construction work on Metro-2B corridor. Funnel zone is an area where there are height restrictions and where construction of more than four storeys is not permitted. The restrictions are imposed due to two reasons. First, the area is in the funnel of the runway and periphery of the airport for takeoff and landing of aircraft. Second, to ensure that radar signals are not distributed.”We are following up with the AAI and we expect to get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from them soon. The height of the elevated Metro will be less as compared to the height of Metro beams on the rest of the alignment,” UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA told DNA.Apart from the AAI nod, the construction of the Metro-2B will also have a couple of railway passes and the same will be done by constructing a rail overbridge (ROB). MMRDA has also approached the Railway for getting several clearances in the same regards.The MMRDA anticipates to begin work on both these corridors by year end and commission both by 2021…& ANALYSISThe NOC from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) is crucial for commencement of civil construction of the Metro corridor. Delay in getting approval could also further delay the construction, and in turn, increase the project cost that is around Rs 11,000 crore.

TN notifies 23,000 hectare of land for petrochemical project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tamil Nadu government has notified about 23,000 hectares of land spread across 45 villages in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts as Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR). The decision adds fuel to the ongoing protest against the hydrocarbon project in the Cauvery delta districts.The timing of the announcement for the delineation of the land for the PCPIR project in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts surprised the activists and political parties. With the successive crop failure, the farmers facing severe economic crisis are opposed to the setting up of hydrocarbon or oil exploration projects in the fertile Cauvery basin. They fear the projects would contaminate groundwater and affect their livelihood.According to the notification issued by the State Housing and Urban Development Ministry, 25 villages in Cuddalore district and 20 villages in Nagapattinam district were being notified as PCPIR. Most of the villages are located near the Kollidam river along the Bay of Bengal coast. The Centre had proposed to set up PCPIR in four states — Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.Pattali Makkal Katchi founder Dr S Ramadoss said, “Though the government had clarified that no oil or gas exploration will take place in the project area, the oil refinery will cause environmental damages to the ecologically sensitive area.The project will take away a large extent of the agricultural land and will render lakhs of farmers jobless,”Pointing out that West Bengal and Kerala governments had withdrawn from the PCPIR projects, he demanded the state government cancel the notification immediately. “If not, we will launch a series of protest in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts,” he said.PCPIR is a specifically delineated investment region for the establishment of manufacturing facilities for producing petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals along with associated services and infrastructure meant for domestic consumption and export. PCPIR would have a refinery or a petrochemical feedstock company as an anchor tenant. The Centre would allocate Rs 1,146 crores for improving infrastructure such as road and rail connectivity in the region.The PCPIR in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam district was proposed way back in 2012 when DMK’s MK Alagiri was union minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers in the UPA government. The project was expected to attract a total investment of Rs 92,160 crore and provide job opportunities to 7.5 lakh people. However, the project was put on the backburner as the AIADMK government did not show any interest considering the large extent of land required for the project.Cuddalore based activist M. Nizamudeen said that the two district are already battling a high level of pollution caused by the chemical industries in Cuddalore and coal based thermal power plants in Nagapattinam. “The government is keen to set up highly polluting industries in the fertile agricultural dependent districts. This will in long term affect the paddy cultivation and food security in the very future. The government should stop setting up polluting industries,” he demanded.ProtestsTamil Nadu has been seeing protests against hydrocarbon and oil exploration projects in the state.Recently, West Bengal and Kerala government withdrew similar project proposals after facing severe mass protest.

Five more die in Assam floods, monsoon advances to Punjab

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was another day of monsoon misery in the Northeast with five more people losing their lives in the deluge in Assam, while several places in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, including state capital Itanagar, were cut off by floods and landslides. With all the districts of Manipur too reeling under rains and floods, the Centre today dispatched a team led by Union minister Kiren Rijiju to oversee rescue and relief operations in affected areas in the entire region. The south-west monsoon, meanwhile, continued its advance, as it entered Punjab and parts of Haryana — a week later than its expected arrival — bringing moderate to heavy rains in the region. The maximum temperature dropped sharply after showers lashed the region. In Punjab, Amritsar recorded a high of 30.5 degrees Celsius, five notches below normal, after receiving a heavy downpour (153 mm). Ludhiana, too, was lashed by heavy showers (48 mm) and the maximum temperature in the industrial town settled at 30.3 degrees Celsius, four notches below normal. In Haryana, Karnal recorded a maximum of 28.2 deg C, down five notches, after being lashed by showers. Ambala, which received heavy rain, recorded a high of 27.6 deg C, down seven notches. Yamunanagar, Panipat, Jhajjar, Faridabad, Rewari, Rohtak, Panchkula, Bhiwani, Gurugram and Kurukshetra were among the other areas in Haryana that saw rains. Back in Assam, the mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries submerged 2,500 villages, destroyed 1.06 lakh hectares of cropland, damaged infrastructure by breaching embankments and overrunning roads and bridges — disrupting surface communication, an Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) official said. With the fresh deaths, the toll in the state caused by the floods — a yearly recurrence — has gone up to 44. Nearly one lakh people have been forced to take shelter in 231 relief camps. Nearly 75 per cent of World Heritage site Kaziranga National Park has been inundated leading to the drowning of two female hog deer and one male swamp deer in its Northern Range. Manipur, meanwhile, has suffered a loss of around Rs 131 crore in the floods since cyclone Mora hit the state in late May, leading to floods and related incidents like landslides. More than 20 per cent of its total paddy fields in five districts of the Imphal valley have been hit by the deluge. In Arunachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Pema Khandu has directed the administration to issue orders for evacuation of people living in vulnerable areas of Itanagar to safer areas and appealed to people in such places to shift to relief camps. The state capital was virtually cut off with its lifeline NH 415 getting totally eroded at the entry point, while the alternate road via Jullang remained blocked, leaving only one road — through Hollongi enroute Lakhimpur district in Assam. Yesterday, five persons had been killed and nine went missing as a massive landslide triggered by incessant rains hit eight dwellings in Papum Pare district. Across Bihar, temperatures rose marginally as rains receded today but major towns of the state continued to face waterlogging due to previous downpours. Though the rains subsided in Uttar Pradesh, several areas in Allahabad were flooded after showers today. Heavy to very heavy rains continued to lash several parts of Himachal Pradesh as the monsoon remained active in the region. Water entered some low-lying residential areas in Una which received more than 140 mm of rains in past two days. The local Met office has predicted a wet spell in the region till July 17. It was a typically humid day in the national capital as the maximum and minimum temperatures settled at 33.2 degrees Celsius 26 degrees Celsius — both below the normal levels. While 24.7 mm rainfall was recorded till 8.30 AM, no rain was received in the city during the day. The local Met office has forecast overcast skies along with the possibility of light and moderate rains and thundershowers tomorrow. In Rajasthan, light to moderate rainfall occurred at a few isolated places in Udaipur, Jaipur, Bharatpur, Jodhpur and Bikaner divisions in last 24 hours.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

If referendum could be held in Italy and Britain, then why not in Kashmir: Sartaj Aziz

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan wants to hold dialogue with India to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, so that peace can be restored in the region, Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on foreign affairs, has said.Aziz’s remarks came amid escalating tension between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC). He also accused India of increasing the tension on the LoC to divert attention from the human rights violations in Kashmir, The News International newspaper reported. He claimed that in the last one year, India had committed 450 LoC violations, killing many innocent people.Aziz said that Pakistan wanted to hold dialogue with India to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir so that the peace could be restored in the region. At the same time, Aziz said Pakistan would continue political, moral and diplomatic support of Kashmiris until and unless Kashmiris achieve freedom from India. He said India could not suppress the vigour of Kashmiris for freedom. India being a democratic country should give chance to the people of Kashmir to decide their future course, he said.If referendum could be held in Italy and Britain, then why not in Kashmir?, he asked. Aziz claimed that if plebiscite was held in Kashmir no Muslim would decide to live with India.

"Housing – New Vision" Summit hosted by CREDAI – MCHI & ZEE24Taas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai University’s Convocation Hall, on Wednesday (July 5),witnessed a first of its kind program, on affordable housing. The event organised by CREDAI-MCHI and powered by Zee 24 tass and DNA, had every name under one roof who matter in real estate. Chief Guest Hon’ble Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis, and his team of officers from housing department, Urban Development, Land records, and Municipal Commissioners were present for the Summit. The day long even had more than half a dozen panel discussions and equal number of presentations by banks, consultants and allied industries on how to make houses affordable. Dharmesh Jain, President of CREDAI-MCHI applauding the work done by Chief Minister Fadnaivs in the real estate sector said, “The last one year in real estate has been the biggest change year. It is refreshing to see somebody (Devendra Fadanvis) wanting to implement change on the ground. Normally a politician would want files to come to him, but he’s one person who delegates and instead his attention is on policy level.”Jain even suggested that MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region) be called MER (Mumbai Economic Region) because highest investment on infrastructure is taking place in MMR region and requested the CM, that a special policy be made for MMR, “a 90-day policy.” Praising the Mumbai Municipal corporation’s ‘Ease of doing business’Jain claimed that the real estate sector in Mumbai has benefited so much that the same be implemented across all corporations in MMR. He also said that chapters of CREDAI from different cities in the country keep asking him to send them Mumbai model, so that same can be implemented there.He further requested the government that all taxes and premium need to be all inclusive at 25 per cent. “In last two years we have seen an increase in taxes, which has led to drop in stamp duty and MCGM collection. The government should help them and real estate will work shoulder to shoulder with the government,”said Jain. The Chief Minister took all his points into consideration and he claimed that in last 2.5 years the government’s focus has been on Ease of Doing Business, and to get rid of corruption he has started getting rid of tables needed for passing files. “We are focusing on digitization and decentralisation. There hasn’t been any other government in this state that has been adopting policies and even modifying them.Ease of Doing Business in other Municipal Corporation has also started and our aim is to take it even to councils,”said Fadnavis.CM also clarified that his government is taking proactive steps on orders from the courts that are not in favour of real estate industry. “On stay orders in Mumbai for carrying construction, we have filed an affidavit in the court and we are trying to get these stays lifted. But also we are looking for solid waste management issues, for a long term solution.” The CM even went a step ahead, on helping the real estate industry, he said, “When real estate will accelerate, employment will be generated, and hence I am formulating an empowered committed, including BMC Chief, Secretary UḌD I, II , Revenue & housing secretary. This should benefit the government and during the discussions of this committee affordable housing should be discussed.” Developers even asked the CM on the new law Real Estate Regulatory Act, to which CM reacted that, RERA is headed by someone who knows that regulator is not to stop but to facilitate. We have this habit of fearing anything new, but then we adapt and move ahead. RERA is better than demonetisation to handle, it didn’t come all of a sudden, instead we all knew that it was coming. This is an opportunity to do clean business. The culture is changing, because of digitisation, and there’s a competition between who will have a good work culture, the government or developers and we will beat you in this. Remove all your fears about RERA.” Mayur Shah, President Elect, CREDAI-MCHI, satisfied with the day long summit claimed that achieving affordable housing in MMR is the main objective behind the summit, issues that were discussed were land, funding of the project, scheme available on affordable housing, all of it was discussed and how to bring affordability in MMR, and via the panel discussions, challenges were brought to the fore of the Chief Minister, Secretaries, and all hurdles were discussed. He further said, “A flat has 30 to 35 per cent of taxes, we told the government not to burden the real estate sector and CM has assured the same by formulating the committee.”Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta got a standing ovation from the devloper fraternity for implementing Ease of Doing Business. Over this warm welcome Mehta said, “When we started computerisation wasn’t on our mind it was re-engineering the system. We changed the mindset and I keep telling other Municipal Commissioners this, that we need to look at the one coming for permission as client not as someone whom we want to regulate. Now is the time to deregulate and demolish regulations which have become redundant.”The highlight was the last session with the exuberant presence of Gautam Chatterjee, Chairman, RERA who urged developers to register on MahaRera website at the earliest and not to fear RERA. For any doubts, developers can directly approach Rera authorities as they are here to act as a facilitator for the Real-Estate industry. He also informed that FAQs on MahaRera website provide answers to most of the questions, just refer them.

MMRDA won’t get govt guarantee for loans taken to construct Metro

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state government will not act as a guarantor for the loans taken by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for Metro corridors that are still in the planning stage. Due to this, MMMRDA has decided that from now on, it would raise money directly from domestic banking and financing institutions rather than international banks that demand state and central governments to be a guarantor for the loan.Recently, the state government announced loan waiver for farm loan debts running into thousands of crore of rupees. “With it acting as guarantor for loans could add more liability in the books of the state,” said an MMRDA official.Pravin Darade, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, said, “We have now decided that for the remaining Metro corridors where work is in planning stages, we will take loan from domestic banking and financing institutions. We are already in talks with Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for raising money for the remaining Metro corridors via its bonds. Also, in case of domestic institutions, we can directly take loan and will not need any guarantor.”Darade added, “Most of the Metro corridors already have loans from international financial institutes or banks. There is also a limit for the same as Centre has given every state a limit for it.”A total of nine Metro projects are in the pipeline in the city, of which eight are being executed by MMRDA and one by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) executing the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro-3 underground corridor. The total expenditure for these Metro projects is Rs 82,172 crore.Till now, the MMRDA has taken loan from institutions like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Bank (AIIB). In case of Metro-3 the Japanese International Corporation of India (JICA) is funding the Metro project.

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