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Rajasthan govt puts 14,000 shell cos under scanner

Struck off by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, thousands of shell companies registered in Rajasthan have now come under the state government scanner. The state industries department has on Thursday written to all district collectors and several departments to identify assets of these companies in the next 15 days.”More than 14,000 companies registered in Rajasthan are among the 2,24,734 listed as suspicious by the central ministry. The industry department is a nodal agency that has now initiated action against these at the state-level,” said Rajpal Singh Shekhawat, Rajasthan industries minister.To be struck off, these companies have been dormant for nearly two years or have registered suspicious transactions since demonetization.After the central ministry action, which had extended restrictions on their bank accounts, the responsibility to prevent sale of their immovable properties and other assets is to be ensured by respective state government.Industry department of the state, as nodal agency, has now written to departments of transport, revenue, tourism and other concerned departments to ensure that no vehicle, land or asset gets disposed.In addition to the companies registered at state, such companies based in other states could also have held assets in Rajasthan.”However, the state agencies have to remain aware of the dubious operations of many of these companies. Also the department is yet to decide on action against the operation of ‘suspicious board directors’ of these companies,” he said.The central ministry, while cancelling registration of these companies, also disqualified over three lakh board directors for irregularities in financial statements.On the radarTo be struck off, these companies have been dormant for nearly two years or have registered suspicious transactions since demonetisation

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24 hours power to all by March 2019: Power Minister R K Singh

By March 2019, all homes in the country will be provided uninterrupted 24-hour power supply throughout the year, Power Minister R K Singh said on Thursday.Singh said 1,694 villages, which are yet to be electrified, will have electricity connection by December 2018 and works in this regard has been going on.All homes will get 24-hour power by March 2019, he said during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.Singh also said a new law will be enacted to impose penalties on power discoms in case of failure to provide uninterrupted power after March 2019, except due to technical reasons.The minister said the government has set a target of reducing the transmission and distribution (T&D) losses of power from the current 21 per cent to 15 per cent by January 2019.He said Rs 1,75,000 crore is being spent to improve the power infrastructure across the country.”Some T&D losses are inherent in the system. These are termed technical losses. As per a study, the technical losses range approximately from 2.62 per cent to 7.71 per cent.”Additional losses are caused by theft. At the all-India level, energy loss in T&D for the year 2015-16 was 240864.31 million units (21.81 per cent). As per estimates, reduction of 1 per cent in T&D losses results in a saving of Rs 4,146.60 crore in terms of power purchase cost,” he said.

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Tourists add to moolah rouge

With New Year around the corner, hotels and sightseeing destinations are reporting a big boom in the Pink City. According to sources, tourist arrivals are so high that finding a room in a hotel in the city is difficult at present.Hotels are booked, discounts have vanished and crowd can be seen flocking at the historical monuments of the city. There is no stopping of rupees rolling into Amber fort which has already been visited by 1,91,205 visitors in December till now.All this is also resulting in heavy influx of vehicles on the city roads making the traffic move at snail’s speed. There is a big rush seen in the walled city and places like Amber fort, Hawa Mahal, Albert Hall, Jantar Mantar and all such places.The world famous Amber fort is getting its coffers filled since last few days in a big way with both foreigner and domestic tourists making a bee line to this fort which comes first on the itinerary of any tourist coming to Jaipur.Officials informed that on Wednesday, Amber received Rs 15,91,830 from 12,328 tourists. Of these 1,590 were foreign tourists.Similarly, on December 26, 1,761 foreign tourists, 11,732 domestic tourists visited this fort. This made the fort get revenue of Rs 17,85,400 in a single day.A day earlier, on Christmas day, Amber earned whopping revenue of Rs 19,16,030 with 15,720 tourists coming to the fort.Meanwhile, Hawa Mahal too is receiving a large share of tourists. These days on an average tourists between 3,000-4,000 are visiting Hawa Mahal every day. The number was more on Saturday, Sunday and on Christmas on Monday. Albert Hall, Jantar Mantar are also on the “to visit” list of the tourists.However, heavy inflow of tourists has turned the narrow roads of Walled City overcrowded. Additionally, the ongoing smart city work at Ajmeri gate is causing problems for the traffic and tourists. With renovation work going on at Ajmeri Gate, the traffic has been made to run one-way.Meanwhile, hotels are all booked till January 2-3. There are no discounts being given even at budget hotels.Traffic influxHotels are booked, discounts have vanished and crowd can be seen flocking at the historical monuments of the city. There is no stopping of rupees rolling into Amber fort which has already been visited by 1,91,205 visitors in December till now. All this is resulting in heavy influx of vehicles on city roads.

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Cyber attacks originate in Pak, China, says Alphons Kannanthanam

The government on Wednesday said there have been attempts from time to time to penetrate systems/devices of cyber networks operating in government and its personnel.”These attacks have been observed to be originating from the cyberspace of a number of countries including China and Pakistan,” Minister of State for Electronics and IT Alphons Kannanthanam said in a written reply to a Lok Sabha question.According to Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), 44,679, 49,455, 50,362, and 40,054 cyber security incidents were observed during 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (till November), respectively.The types of cyber security incidents include phishing, scanning/probing, website intrusions and defacements, virus/malicious code, ransomware, denial of service attack etc.CERT-In issues alerts and advisories regarding latest cyber threats/vulnerabilities and counter measures to protect computers on regular basis.The minister said five drills have so far been conducted by CERT-In to assess cyber security preparedness of organisations. About 148 organisations from different states and sectors such as finance, defence, power, telecom, energy, IT/ITeS, etc participated in these drills.

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Five fresh faces in new Vijay Rupani cabinet

In the 20-member cabinet of Vijay Rupani, there are five new faces. These faces includes a senior leader like RC Faldu and four-time MLA Raman Patkar.Ishwar Parmar, Kishor Kanani and Vibhavari Dave got their second term as MLA.Many senior leaders and ministers lost in the recent Assembly polls with the total tally of 99 members in the house. So, BJP was almost pushed to cherry-pick some fresh faces in the Cabinet. MLA from Jamnagar (South) seat and former Gujarat BJP president RC Faldu were lucky enough to secure the berth in the Cabinet this time. Faldu had lost the polls in 2012 elections but succeeded in winning this time when the Patel community was up in arms against the BJP, especially in the Saurashtra region. Faldu was elected as an MLA twice in the past polls held in 1998 and 2002.Raman Patkar, Scheduled Tribe leader and MLA from Umbergaon seat in Valsad district, is four-time MLA and has been elected again. He waited for a longer time than Ishwar Parmar, Vibhavari Dave and Kishor Kanani. All three have been inducted in Cabinet by Rupani in their second term. Of these three, Parmar was lucky enough to get a cabinet position as no any senior Scheduled Caste leader from BJP could win the polls.

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New faces in new Gujarat government

The Chief Minister-elect, Vijay Rupani, and his deputy, Nitin Patel, will get young members of their team to run the state government this time. BJP leaders are of the opinion that young members in the cabinet may leave a good impression on the common people. The government may have at least seven to eight young faces this time.The young faces that may find a place in the Rupani’s cabinet are BJP’s Gujarat president Jitu Vaghani, Vibhavari Dave, Shashikant Pandya, Hitu Kanodia, Manisha Vakil, Ishwar Parmar, and Dushyant Patel. These all leaders are of the age of 40 to 45 years. These elected candidates of BJP can hold different portfolios as minister of state (MoS). Whereas the former cabinet minister Jayesh Radadiya, 34, also is the young leader who is believed to be repeated as cabinet level minister in this government.A senior leader of BJP said, “The party believes that there should be a combination of experienced and young members in cabinet of Gujarat government. The young members may have fresh ideas and zeal to work with efficiency. Another reason to bring in more young faces is that many of our senior leaders have lost in the polls, who could have been made ministers otherwise.””We had selected around 8 to 10 members who may be in the cabinet and sent that list to the high command. The high command will take the final call on the selection, but it is the ideology of BJP to give more chance to young leaders who can influence the masses,” added the senior leader.Besides the young members, there are several senior MLAs who could have been included in the cabinet of the Gujarat government. Some such faces are Ganpat Vasava, Babu Bokhiria, RC Faldu, Saurabh Patel, Kaushik Patel, Pradipsinh Jadeja as cabinet-level ministers while Dr Nimaben Acharya, Vasan Ahir, Parbat Patel, Rajendrasinh Chavda, Karsan Solanki, Vallabh Kakadia, Pankaj Desai, CK Raulji, Jaydhrathsinh Parmar, Bachu Khabad, Kishor Kanani and Raman Patkar may get the place in cabinet as minister of state.Fresh facesThe new faces that may find a place in the Cabinet are Jitu Vaghani, Vibhavari Dave, Shashikant Pandya, Hitu Kanodia, Manisha Vakil, Ishwar Parmar, and Dushyant Patel.

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UP government releases 93 prisoners on Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 93rd birthday

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh today released 93 prisoners from various jails of the state on the 93rd birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”It was decided to set free 93 prisoners convicted in different cases on the 93rd birthday of the former prime minister. These prisoners have completed their tenure in jail but could not be released due to non-payment of fine imposed on them,” Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar told PTI.To ensure that they walk free, the prisons department was asked to see if the fines could be paid by NGOs, trusts and others, after verifying their credentials.The names of convicts to be set free was picked up in a random manner from a list of 135 such prisoners who are not named or were serving imprisonment in another case, the official said.Former prime minister Vajpayee had represented Lucknow in the Lok Sabha five times — 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004.The BJP stalwart was the first and till now the only non-Congress leader who completed a full term as prime minister.He was also the first External Affairs Minister to deliver a speech in Hindi in the UN General Assembly in New York.

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A dialogue with JC: Gujarat results change game plan of Congress & BJP

How Modi-Shah succeeded in Gujarat?The face of Modi and booth management of Amit Shah…were the biggest reasons for the success. Besides, two more factors contributed – division of Muslim votes and fielding non Patidars against Patidars…they weaved strategy in such a way that they could succeed in forming government for straight six times.How Modi-Shah turned the table in the last leg?They encashed two statements – one that of Kapil Sibal relating to Ram Mandir and the other statement of Manishankar Aiyar. They also encashed issue of Manmohan Singh meeting with Pakistani Ambassador. Public believed that meeting with Pakistani had happened. What transpired what not… it’s different issue. These issues set the gameplan for BJP in the last round.How Congress lost it at the last in Gujarat?We won’t say that Congress missed it but Congress miscalculated in Surat…Congress had great expectations from Surat…but BJP in a smart move sent its senior leaders to campaign in Surat who directly communicated with businessmen and traders and reached to a settlement saying that in future government may give major relaxations. As a result, out of 12 urban seats BJP clinched 11. Congress’ bigwigs lost elections from Surat…Shakti Singh was defeated…third factor was division of Muslim votes. These factors summed up the defeated of Congress.Had Mayawati and Sharad Pawar helped BJP win Gujarat?Definitely, fielding of candidates by Sharad Pawar and Mayawati helped BJP…and it is said that people of Mayawati and Sharad Pawar were given list of candidates o be fielded in Gujarat elections by the higher-ups in BJP. That could be the reason why Congress lost on at least 10 seats where they could have won.Why there were speculations of introducing new CM in place of Rupani?The other party says that those speculations were baseless…this was pre decided that if BJP wins the duo of Rupani-Patel will be at the helm… and that has happened…there is no chance of any change of guard.Why women get less tickets in Gujarat?This is quite saddening. Everyone talks about women empowerment…but Congress and BJP both gave only 10-12 tickets each. The percentage of women candidates was very low. Why Muslim candidates got less support from public in Gujarat?25-30 Muslim candidates contested the elections…but they got less vote percentage. Even in Muslim dominated areas, the percentage was less. This a an issue investigationAfter results, why Rahul Gandhi visited Somnath temple again?By visiting Somnath temple, Rahul Gandhi sent a message that even after losing elections, he will continue with the agenda of soft-Hindutva. He looks to be trying to snatch away Hindutva agenda from Modi.What are the economic and political lessons for Modi from Gujarat elections?The biggest lesson is political – You can’t take Gujarat for granted any more…second takeaway is that at any cost he will have to handle the resentment which has occurred among traders and businessmen due to demonetisation and GST. He has given several relaxations in GST in Guwahati and he will have to dole out more. Besides, Aadhar will not be linked to Real Estate…government is becoming flexible and in coming days we may see more relaxations in the policy of government and business class gets more relief.Will government administer amendments in the current economic policies?There will certainly be some amendments…Modi-Shah-Jaitley will sit together to discuss what reforms can be done in policies without compromising its anti corruption stand.Will Bhupendra Yadav get charge of Karnataka?I am completely convinced that Yadav is the discovery of Amit Shah. Yadav is from Ajmer and never went to any English School but speaks and writes English very well… makes great strategies…Amit Shah picked him …he was associated with Bihar elections, Maharashtra polls, made incharge of Gujarat where BJP won and now he will be sent to Karnataka. After that he will be sent to Rajasthan…certainly Yadav is discovery of Shah.What is the role of RSS in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh?RSS is the reality in the life of BJP…its estimation is correct…RSS had estimated about Gujarat that BJP may win only 64 seats…now it has warned BJP of 2019 elections that BJP may get 40-50 less seats in North India, so focus on East and South…RSS has a comprehensive role. Will Rahul-Hardik partnership remain intact till 2019?Grossly, it looks like that they will remain together till 2019…they may have difference on opinion on an issues in coming times…hardik patel can say that Congress should give post of leader of opposition to a Patidar…Hardik is a moody person but still they looks to remain together.Will Gujarat government send Hardik to jail on any of the issues?It can’t be called vindication but law will take its course…Vijay rupani had said that if BJP forms government, legal action will be taken against him.Why Om Mathur who knows the pulse of Gujarat was not seen active?There is a great contribution of Om Mathur in elections…he had been in the team of Modi-Shah… I think he has become little inactive and disheartened.. and it’s but natural. BJP is in power for 4 years but he could not get anything.What would be the political implications of the acquittal of 2G accused?Congress and DMK gained a lot in terms of public perception..Karunanidhi and his party are the biggest beneficiary…Congress has got an issue against BJP and it may make this an election issue in 2019.What would be the political impact of the conviction of Lalu?There would be little impact on the movement of Lalu…I think this could become a sympathy factor in 2019 elections…this decision has borne a negative impact on Lalu but there will be hardly any impact on the lifestyle of Lalu. He will issue statements from jail and lead agitation from there.Will Congress make election issue out of court decisions on 2G and fodder scams?Congress will definitely leverage on 2G issue…Congress will definitely fan this issue before 2019 elections. Eventually Congress has gained from this decision. What would be the impact of these results on the outcome of coming assembly elections?There is a feel good factor for Rahul Gandhi in states where assembly elections are due. Rahul Gandhi has started speaking well…it will boost morale of workers in the states…but it can’t be said that Congress will be able to form governments in these states.

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Gujarat elections 2017: BJP had more close victory calls in 2017 than in 2012

If BJP and Congress were to be involved in a very close fight, guess whom lady luck would favour? If past election result statistics of close calls are anything to go by Congress should ideally be the destiny’s child in such contests.But 2017 was different with BJP and Congress seeing close contests in almost equal number of seats.This election had close contests in atleast 32 of the 182 assembly seats, three down from what it was in 2012 elections. In that election 35 seats saw close contests.For the sake of analysis, we have considered a winning margin of less than 5,000 votes as a close contest.In the year 2017, of the 32 close contest seats, BJP won 15 while Congress won 16. One close contest in Morva Hadaf was won by an independent.It should be noted that Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also tweeted about the close contests in several of the seats in Gujarat. The tweet was to show that BJP’s claim of having the backing of Gujarat was not all that it was made out to be.What is interestingly about the close contests in 2017 is that the number of seats in which the BJP won with a whisker has actually gone up. The party won by a margin of less than 5000 votes in 13 seats in 2012 assembly elections. This went upto 15 seats in 2017. Of this 15 seats, in three seats the party won by a margin of less than 1000 votes. These seats were Botad, Dholka and Godhra. Of this, in Dholka and Godhra BJP won by 327 and 258 votes.For the Congress, the close contests seats actually came down from 21 in 2012 to 16 in 2017. Of the 16, Congress won with a margin of less than 1000 votes in four seats. These four seats were Mansa, Kaprada, Deodar and Dangs. Of this Kaprada was the only one seat it won with less than 500 margin. The seat saw Congress candidate beating their rivals with a margin of just 170 votes.

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Guj’s famed dislike for 3rd front may have hurt Shankersinh Vaghela, Kanubhai Kalsariya

A farmer leader and three time MLA leads an agitation against his own party to prevent a corporate from setting up a cement plant. He quits his party to help the people battle the corporate and win the agitation for them. He also runs a trust hospital in his constituency to help the poor access medical facilities at a nominal cost of Rs10. He also enjoys tremendous goodwill. In short, he seems like a perfect candidate.But since 2012, Kanubhai Kalsariya has lost every election he has fought. The recent one was the 2017 Assembly election where he contested as an independent but lost to the BJP with a slim margin of over 5,000 votes.In 2017, though with the AAP, he contested as an independent from the Sadhbhavna panel. This was done after ground reports suggested that people were more likely to vote for him if he stood as an independent than as an AAP candidate.This too perhaps was an indication that the Gujarat electorate is not very comfortable with the third front, who often are viewed as opportunist players.It should be noted that Kalsariya did not set up a third front but contested as an independent. After leaving the BJP, Kalsariya had first contested as an independent and then joined the Aam Aadmi Party from where he contested the LS elections in 2014.Kalsariya, however, does not believe that the dislike for the third front was at play in the recent defeat. “We lost by a small margin of 5,000 votes. And this difference was because the city voters did not vote for us the way we expected them to,” said Kalsariya.”An analysis of booth wise voting pattern showed that the villagers voted for me but people in the city did not in the way we expected. Moreover, the Congress cut into our votes, although they knew very well that their candidate was not going to win,” said Kalsariya.It should be noted that Kalsariya had urged the Congress not to field a candidate in Mahuva, which was not accepted by the party. “Had the Congress not fielded a candidate we would have won with a comfortable majority. But they wanted me to join the party which I was not willing to do,” said Kalsariya.He still believes that the voters will vote for a third front provided it is a viable option. He is not the only one, who has had to face the brunt of Gujarat voters dislike for the third front. Shankersinh Vaghela, tall leader of Gujarat politics, too learned it the hard way. Vaghela had good mass appeal and had parted ways with the Congress in this election after the party refused to name him as the CM candidate.All the 95 candidates fielded by the All India Hindustan Congress Party , which Vaghela formed after breaking away from the Congress, lost their deposit. How much they mattered to the voters can be known from the fact that the 95 candidates together polled just 83,000 votes and all of them losing their deposit. This means each of Vaghela’s candidates polled on an average just 873 votes. The party got just 0.3% of the total votes polled.In the 2012 elections, Keshubhai Patel formed the Gujarat Parivartan Party which performed miserably. Of the 167 candidates, 159 lost its deposit. Two candidates won and the party won 3.63% of the votes polled.It should be noted that Keshubhai was a former CM and a much loved leader but yet his candidates lost in Patel bastions too. He was expected to split the pro-BJP votes but the results proved that he had not succeeded.In fact, the dislike for a third front is also attributed as the reason for AAP not taking off in Gujarat the way it has happened in other states. However, Sukhdev Patel, former member of AAP does not agree.”AAP is now like the NCP in Gujarat. It may eventually win a seat or two but it will never be a third alternative and this is because the party squandered the initial fillip it received. Moreover, it lacked the national cadre support that a nascent party needs,” said Patel.He said while the AAP has individuals who are genuinely committed to the cause and concerns of the common man, its lack of a strong organisational structure will hurt it.As for the dislike for third front, Patel said it is because the third fronts that have emerged so far were splinter groups of the main parties. “These third fronts so formed never had the leaders who would put in the hard work required to build an organisation. This is because the leaders who formed the third fronts never had helped build the organisation of thier own parties from a scratch. So essentially all the third fronts were seen as opportunists and not a viable option,” said Patel.He said the third front will work if it is not a splinter group. “This was the case with the AAP. It was a genuine third option but the opportunity was squandered,” he said.IN NUTSHELL”The history of Gujarat politics is rife with examples of third front not making it. But when we talk of it, we need to analyse whether these fronts were genuine representation of people’s anger or just opportunistic. I believe that if you give the people a viable option, they will vote for a party/candidate other than the Congress and BJP,” said Kanubhai Kalsariya. In Kalsariya’s defeat lies a fact about Gujarat politics that is difficult to ignore. It is Gujarat voters never cozy up to anyone who promises a third front. In fact, not just Vaghela, Gujarat electorate have even rejected leaders whom it had elected to power when part of either Congress or BJP but who later tried to form a third alternative.

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Gujarat poll results a wake up call for BJP in Rajasthan

Gujarat results may be reckoned as the wake up alarm for the BJP government in Rajasthan. Internal party conflicts, caste conflicts, reservation issues, resentment of various government employees, angst of the youth and farmers, rise in women related crimes coupled with a work system of bureaucracy dominating legislative representatives have created a potent mix that could spell trouble for the governnment next year. These problems are not just for chief minister Vasundhara Raje but for BJP in totality. It cannot be refuted that for BJP, the 2019 route to Delhi passes through Rajasthan and it needs to clear hurdle 2018, the state elections.The state government is already skating on thin ice. The issues that prove to be contentious are plenty.The most crucial problem is the widespread resentment among the party cadre on various factors. Dominance of bureaucracy and neglect of legislators is a major factor, “We connect to the people and for that we need to have rights,” said an anguished MLA of BJP. Their inaccessibility to CM and party chief, coupled with total centralisation of decisions spells big trouble in the coming assembly polls. “I am the state head of a party cell and I do not have the liberty to decide my team,” said a party functionary on condition of anonymity.Government employees and doctors who are present in the remotest areas are an angry lot. Rajputs, Brahmins, Gurjars and Jats are at war with the government for various reasons including reservation. Farmers seek loan waivers, a burning political issue constantly being put on back burner.Incidents of communal violence and hate crimes are creating communal unrest. Add to it the slack handling of cases related to cow vigilantism. These are problems from its own fold, add to it the opposition that is baying for blood and all set to claim the state. Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who has had a dress rehearsal for poll campaign in Gujarat, BJP’s woes automatically multiply.It is an irrefutable fact that the war of 2019 to capture Delhi cannot be won if the battle of 2018 in Rajasthan is lost. The state having a history of never repeating a government. This creates a situation for the BJP, at all levels to use all resources at hand to win the state.

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Gujarat elections 2017: DEO Avantika Singh rubbishes EVM tampering claims

The DEO was talking to reporters about preparations for counting of votes when she made the comment in response to a question. "These are baseless allegations, and I don't think any clarification is needed. If a clarification has to be issued, it would be by Election Commission," she said. Singh said that preparations for counting of votes has been completed. "A three-tier security cordon will be in place for the counting of votes. The counting of votes in 21 counting halls in Ahmedabad will be webcast. A DCP-level officer has been deployed at each centre," she added.”

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JNU VC urges Centre to install Army tank on campus as ‘symbol of patriotism’
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Monday 18 December 2017 4:48 ISTMust readGujarat elections 2017: In electoral twist, Aladdin now battles corruption, GST10 free WiFi zones to come up in Ahmedabad<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>Ahmedabad District Election Officer (DEO) Avantika Singh rubbished allegations by Patidar reservation leader Hardik Patel about tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) describing them as ‘baseless’.The DEO was talking to reporters about preparations for counting of votes when she made the comment in response to a question. “These are baseless allegations, and I don’t think any clarification is needed. If a clarification has to be issued, it would be by Election Commission,” she said. Singh said that preparations for counting of votes has been completed. “A three-tier security cordon will be in place for the counting of votes. The counting of votes in 21 counting halls in Ahmedabad will be webcast. A DCP-level officer has been deployed at each centre,” she added.

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Govt to 3D map state’s forts for better restoration

To make the conservation and restoration of Maharashtra’s crumbling forts a more efficient process, the state government has decided to use 3D mapping to assess their condition after the satellite technology was successfully used for the Sinhagad Fort near Pune.The State Directorate of Archaeology and Museums now plans to cover 15 forts, including Rajgad, which was the first capital of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in this project which is slated to be launched in the next financial year with the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC). These are also part of the first phase of the state government’s fort conservation plan.”This satellite mapping will deploy geo-informatics technologies like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for a topographic survey, remote sensing, GIS and GPS. The terrestrial LIDAR technology will be used at important locations since it is expensive. It will help map the condition of these forts and enable their repairs and restoration,” a senior official from the directorate told DNA.”This is the first such experiment where remote sensing will be used for archaeology,” noted Vilas Wahane, Assistant Director, Directorate of Archaeology and Museums. “We have received data for Sinhagad from MRSAC which will be useful for creating master plans, removing encroachments, gardening and landscaping and creating drawings for conservation,” he added.An official said that while states like Rajasthan were using LIDAR for such assessments of forts, Maharashtra would be the first to deploy a combination of technologies.The official said the results of this exercise promise to fulfill a critical gap in conservation management — the lack of detailed mapping, surveys and condition assessments of the forts and heritage sites in Maharashtra.Maharashtra has 353 forts including 49 protected by the state government and 51 by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).NEW TECH’Condition mapping’ reveals which part of the fort or its fortifications are weak, enables their strengthening, helps in conservation planning, removing encroachments, promotes tourism and enables gaming and virtual walk throughs based on the collected data. The other forts covered by the project are: Shirgaon (Konkan division), Kharda, Galna (Nashik division), Torna, Bhudargad (Pune division), Antur, Paranda, Dahur (Aurangabad division), Ausa, Kandhar, Mahur (Nanded division) and Nagardhan, Manikgad and Ambagad (Nagpur division).

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Gujarat elections 2017: In electoral twist, Aladdin now battles corruption, GST

Remember the tale of Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie who battle an evil sorcerer? Call it the election effect, for these days Aladdin battles much more including GST and corruption.A play performed by class 4 and 5 students of Brams School in Isanpur have given a modern twist to a fairy tale. The students who performed at Tagore Hall as part of The Footlights Theatre group wove a story of corruption including the problems with GST and other modern day troubles into the fairy tale.The performance by 15 students had Afiya Ansari, a girl, playing Aladdin. “The children were trained at a workshop of the Footlights Theatre for free. These kids belong to low income families. They performed Aladdin but changed the story a bit to highlight the troubles of modern day including corruption and GST,” said Arpit Upadhyay who teaches at the school. Upadhyay, a Teach For India fellow has dedicated two years to teach/help kids in underprivileged English Medium schools.”This is not the conventional story of Aladdin. It also has a king and a corrupt minister and how Aladdin and their friends catch them,” said Upadhyay. He said the students practiced every weekend for a month to get the story and their lines right. “Theatre is one of the ways we use to let children express their creativity and build their confidence,” said Upadhyay.Gauri Bakshi, founder of the Foothlights Theatre, said the year-old initiative provides theatre workshops for school students. “Today we have performance by students trained in our workshop as well as performance by over 50 students from across the country including Rajasthan, Kerala and Maharashtra. These kids will be performing various art forms that they are involved with since their childhood,” said Bakshi.Bakshi said there were not many avenues for children’s theatre in the city and this was a way of providing some.FACTS & FICTIONThe play, performed by class 4 and 5 students of Brams School in Isanpur, has given a modern twist to a fairy tale. The participating students belonged to low-income families.

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CM Vasundhara Raje visit saves threatened Shekhawati havelis

Defending traditional facade of Shekhawati havelis will be a joint responsibility of the district administration, local bodies and police. The plight of these havelis being threatened by mischief of notorious elements and ignorance of civic authorities caught notice of chief minister Vasundhara Raje during her Jansamwad (public dialogue) at Fatehpur town of Sikar district on Saturday. The CM immediately issued orders to the Jaipur division commissioner and police range IG to ensure conservation of these traditional buildings that have gained global fame for their architecture.These buildings of Shekhawati stand evidence of the glorious history of the land, however, at Fatehpur town a few of these are in danger due to recent civic issue of water logging. Seepage has been damaging walls and weakening foundations of the havelis. The chief minister during the public dialogue ordered the district collector and local body officials to resolve the issue, while instructions were also made to principal secretary, local self-governance to develop a detailed project report for ensuring conservation of heritage appearance of these havelis.Chief minister Raje at the Jansamwad met representatives from various community members of the area. These public dialogues held in series in cities across the state have become feedback and grievance redressal platform enabling local community representatives to have their voice heard at the highest podium of governance in the state. At Fatehpur too, the CM Jansamwad had immediate resolution for several long pending issues. Social securityCM on her visit also flagged of Annapurna mobile kitchen vans to deliver quality food at affordable price. She here also assured members of villages on forest land to have the proposal of land diversion processed soon. The chief minister talking of improvement in education services told the gathering that the results of government schools have improved by two per cent in Sikar.

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Having A Ball

Even before they have taken to the field to ply their trade, the women athletes of para-volleyball have stamped their victory against the taboos they have been fighting since long. These fearless women have touched down in the city to play interstate sitting para-volleyball federation cup that will commence on December 16 at SMS Stadium. To everyone’s awe, these women have defeated physical challenges as well as social stigma to rise above self pity in an attempt to become the first to represent the nation at the International Paralympic games 2018. It is for the first time that a women’s team will be playing at the national level tournament. “Shy of exposing themselves and the challenges that came along kept many girls away from taking up para sports,” said H Chandrashekar, president Paralympic Volleyball Federation of India (PVFI). “It has been for a decade that we at the federation have been trying to build a national women’s team. This task will thankfully get accomplished this year,” he added. The federation has recently added a trained 8 women’s team across the country, six of these will play their first national level tournament in Jaipur over next couple of days. “We have held demo games in several states to set an example and motivate more girls to take up sports,” said a member of a women’s team. The teams from Telengana, Kerala, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan will participate in the tournament supported by BMVSS (Jaipur Foot) organisation. These girls are motivated to play at Paralympic 2018.Moreover, sitting volleyball is a regular paralympic event since 1980s. Played with a lower net and smaller court, this game requires players to be seated at a particular position. In India, the sport has been officially been recognised for over a decade. Its for the first time that such national level tournament of the game is being held in Jaipur.Dissolving disparityIn course of deciding the winners’ award, the organisers were faced with the gender disparity. An initial proposal regarding the award money had differences in awards for men and women achievers. This, however, came to notice of the tournament’s local partner BVMSS and it was resolved. “Sports dissolve differences and thus it is only right that we should not discriminate on the basis of gender while awarding the achievement,” said Deependra Mehta, secretary BMVSS. The federation admitted that it was due to fund concern that the difference was proposed, but was delighted that it got noticed on time.Raj’s tryst with the sportThe game has been catching up among able-bodied athletes of Rajasthan. The state has delivered couple of national and international level players, like Kaptan Singh and Papu Singh. The men’s team had emerged as a runner-up in the last National Para-Volleyball tournament and had qualified in the quarter-finals the previous year. The state got its first women’s team registered in beginning of this year.Jaipur Foot to the rescue of playersThe Paralympic tournament organisers have to face the challenge of attracting big and fancy sponsors and that is why it often lacks proper facilities. The Sitting Volleyball Cup in Jaipur though has found support from the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti (BMVSS). “Our aim is to help in rehabilitation of people challenged by physical disabilities,” said Dr DR Mehta, chairperson of BMVSS. Also, it was BMVSS that volunteered to be a sponsor. Introduced to the game by an para volleyball player from Rajasthan, the BMVSS chairman was impressed with the enthusiasm of the players. Moreover, 12 men and 6 women teams will take part in the event. This year the winners will also be given a cash award. Journey of Indian Sitting VolleyballIt was in 2006 that the PVFI came in formal existence and since has been able to develop associations in 15 states. The PVFI team have participated in Asia Cup held by Para Volleyball Asian Oceania. Participated in Para Volleyball World Cup at Cambodia 2008, 2009 & 2011 Took part in Para Volleyball World C’ship 2010-11 in USA Won silver medal in Beach Volleyball 2011 held at Germany.

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Bhendi Bazaar: A model makeover

Bohri Mohalla is a nugget of heritage and culture nestled in the crowded market area of Bhendi Bazaar. If you have ever visited this neighbourhood and not devoured the succulent kebabs and tikkas of Haji Tikka Corner, your trip to this part of the city would be considered incomplete. Established in 1989, it is currently owned by Abdul Samad Qureshi, who is suffering a customer loss of nearly 50 per cent, thanks to the redevelopment project. Bhendi Bazaar, spread over a 16.5-acre land comprising more than 250 buildings, is undergoing one of the biggest redevelopment projects in India. The project which is being carried out by Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) has divided Bhendi Bazaar in nine clusters.Located in the heart of south Mumbai, Bhendi Bazaar is a shopper’s paradise. From carpets to hardware and antique pieces, the place has something to offer everyone. For the less-initiated, the Bhendibazaar gharana is one of the vocal gharanas of Indian classical music, which originated in Bhendi Bazaar 1890. In more recent times, the neighbourhood has gained popularity for the delicious food served on the streets of Mohammed Ali Road during Ramzan, the active underworld activities of Dawood Ibrahim, for congestion, dilapidated buildings, building collapses and related deaths.However, the face of Bhendi Bazaar is changing, the attar-filled fragrant gullies, quaint shops selling kebabs of Bohri Mohalla are waning. They small shops are moving out. Abbas Master, CEO, SBUT said, “The entire area that comes under the purview of the project has been planned systematically to promote a sustainable way of living. Divided into nine sub-clusters, each sub-cluster will be self-sustained backed with modern technology and environment friendly practices. The idea is to give the future Bhendi Bazaar an environment that fosters holistic growth of the people and communities at large.”The redeveloplment plan will change the face of 4,765 residential and commercial units in Bhendi Bazaar. Of this, 3,379 are residential units, and 1,386 are commercial units. The redevelopment is being carried out under Development Control Rules 33 (9), cluster redevelopment, under which every tenant is entitled to get a minimum of 300 sq ft home.“My father started this business of selling tikkas on a roadside stall. The four shops behind the stall were bought by him from the money he earned on this stall. Today that stall is gone, we have another restaurant on the other side of the road, where we sell the famous Haji Tikkas. But many customers return when they see that the stall is gone and the shops behind it are not open. Some patrons don’t bother to check but many look for us. Our customer base has been reduced by 50 per cent.”Qureshi, however, admits that there are positive aspects to the redevelopment. “This redevelopment promises us better shops than what we had. We hear this is a world-class redevelopment and we are happy that our future generation will have a better life. ”The pros for Mohammed Mansoori, a tenant living in Bhendi Bazaar, are vastly different from Qureshi’s. His family and he will no longer have to stand in a queue to use the toilet. “I took rent from the trust and found my own alternate accommodation, both for my family and also for the shop I owned here. Once the building is developed, we won’t have to stand in the queue for using toilets. We are going to get a bigger apartment, with facilities like attached toilet bathroom and car park. These towers will be something that we had never imagined. This is the biggest gift for my kids.” For Mansoori who owns a store — A K Mansoori Antiques in this bustling neighbourhood and other shopkeeprs, parking is one of the major issues. He says that after the redevelopment the parking issue will be taken care of, which will indirectly help business flourish.Under the redevelopment plan, the trust has proposed and decided to offer certain benefits to the residents. These include solar panels in each building to provide lighting in the common areas in the entire building during daytime. Each tower will have its own set of solar panels.The 250-plus-building project, affecting nearly 20,000 people, will have about 10,000 toilets and a sewage treatment plant, and a special system for collection of garbage that will also be recycled.The project will have a central garbage disposal system, under a centralised system. A separate system shall be installed for treating either the centralised or the decentralised system under every sub-cluster, depending on its approvals. The trust also plans to set up a Pneumatic­-based centralised garbage collection system to collect garbage via a chute located on each floor. The garbage will be passed through pipelines under heavy air pressure and collected at a point and converted it into compost. While the dry waste will be recycled by authorised recyclers, the non-recycled waste will be sent to the dumping grounds. Each cluster will also have a sewage treatment plant, where the sewage will be recycled and reused within the premises for flushing, car washing, gardening etc. This will reduce the burden of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai’s (MCGM) water supply by around 35 per cent.During monsoon, rainwater from building terraces will be collected in tanks (built underground) and later supplied throughout the 16.5 acres of Bhendi Bazaar. This process is expected to reduce MCGM’s water supply by an additional five per cent.The project is expected to be complete in the next eight to ten years. Redevelopment in numbers16.5 acres total land area250 Total number of cessed and non-cessed properties in Bhendi Bazaar3,379 residential units1,386 non-residential tenements4,765 Total number of families affected by the redevelopment1.40 lakh sq m is the total area for rehabilitation of all tenements

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Housing board moots extra area at lower cost

Tenants of dilapidated cessed buildings situated in South Mumbai should be allowed to buy up to 200 square feet of extra space at ‘construction cost’ from the developer redeveloping their building. This is one of the suggestions of the state government constituted a committee on housing. Currently, a tenant is entitled to get 300 sq ft house following redevelopment. If accepted the new rule may reduce the differences between tenants and developers and will also allow tenants with bigger families to stay together. There are more than 14,000 such dilapidated cessed buildings located in South Mumbai. These buildings pay a cess to MHADA for their repair. Many projects in the area are stuck either because of the tenants’ refusal to vacate their houses or when the developer delays a certain project. While the suggestion sounds good, architects who plan the building say that the tenant should at the time of planning of the building inform the developer about the extra space. “While giving extra space at construction cost wouldn’t be feasible for a developer but it can bring in liquid at initial stage to the developer, which will be of help to him in carrying out construction,” said Arqam Shaikh, of Arc associates.

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JMC now deploys ‘Swachh Mitra’ to monitor cleanliness

To get good marks in the cleanliness survey (Swachh Survekshan-2018) the Jaipur Municipal Corporation(JMC) will now strictly adhere to the people in the city. It has been decided that now home guard personnel will be deployed across the city to prevent people from spreading dirt and stop them from defecating in open.There are thousands of employees and officers in addition to Vigilance Cell in Jaipur Municipal Corporation. There is a Sanitary Inspector in every ward of the municipal corporation. Besides, Chief Sanitary Inspector, Health Officer, Health Deputy Commissioner and other officers are also present.A private company has been contracted. This company will appoint Swachhta Mitra in all the 91 wards of the city. These Swachhta Mitra will provide information about cleanliness to the public and will aware the public to cleanliness.Apart from this, home guards will be deployed in the city. The Municipal Corporation has eight zone areas. 20 home guards will be deployed in every zone area. The home guard will be allotted area of various wards.These home guards will go round the allotted area and prevent people from spreading dirt and defecation in the open.Mayor Ashok Lahoti said that all the 91 wards of the city of Jaipur have become ODF. Even after this, some people open defecation.It has been decided to set up a Home Guard to prevent open defecation.EFFORTSA private company has been contracted. This company will appoint Swachhta Mitra in all the 91 wards of the city. These Swachhta Mitra will provide information about cleanliness to the public.

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Government issues guidelines for tariff-based wind power procurement

Ministry of Power today said it has issued guidelines to procure wind power through ‘transparent’ tariff based competitive bidding process.Government has issued guidelines providing a framework for procurement of wind power through a “transparent process” of bidding including standardisation of the process and defining of roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders.“These guidelines aim to enable the distribution licensees to procure wind power at competitive rates in a cost effective manner,” read the gazette published by Ministry of Power.The guidelines are applicable for procurement of wind power from grid-connected Wind Power Projects (WPP) having individual size of 5 Mega Watt (MW) and above at one site with minimum bid capacity of 25 MW for intra-state projects; and individual size of 50 MW and above at one site with minimum bid capacity of 50 MW for inter-state projects.“These guidelines will give boost to the wind power sector as it would facilitate the windy states to go for bidding process for procurement of wind power themselves. After transition of tariff regime from feed in tariffs to bidding route, it was mainly central government bids through SECI which were helping the sector. State bids from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat had objections from the wind sector in absence of guidelines,” the ministry’s announcement statement said.Commenting on the issuance of guidelines, ICRA Ratings observed, “The guidelines address some of the key concerns for the sector pertaining to off-taker’s credit profile, grid curtailment and termination payments. The guidelines require the procurers to direct sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) with wind power developers to provide a payment security through letter of credit equivalent to one month average billing and a payment security fund to support payment for at least three months of receivables for the projects tied up. “In addition, the procurer may also choose to provide state government guarantee in a legally enforceable form, both for payment of energy charges and termination compensation.” As per the latest set of rules, the developer will have to compensate the procurer in case of the generation falls below a prescribed Capacity Utilisation Factor (CUF) agreed at the time of signing of the PPA. The minimum declared CUF should be 22% as per new guidelines.The norms are important as the government had decided to put for bidding 10 GW wind capacities each in the fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20 to meet the target of 60 GW of power generation through clean energy by 2022. The present wind power installed capacity is 32 GW.In the two rounds this year, the government has 2 GW wind capacity. As part of the third round, government has floated tender for another 2 GW capacity.

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Poppy worth Rs 1.25 cr seized

The Barmer police conducted a major operation on Monday and confiscated nearly two and half thousand kilograms of poppy husk worth a whopping 1.25 crore rupees. The cops even arrested two men and recovered five cartridges and one pistol from the men. The police is now interrogating the men to learn about the source and delivery point for the husk.A team of Barmer police had traveled to Kalyanpur in search and arrest of wanted criminals. “During the search, the police team learned from sources that a truck full of poppy husk would travel from Jodhpur to Balotra. A special team was thus formed which initiated barricading on the highway. Meanwhile, the special team of Barmer police found the said truck near Dhawa area and the team started trailing the truck and alerted the cops at the barricading. The men were then stopped at the barricading,” said Gagandeep Singla, SP Barmer.When the cops questioned the men about the contents of their truck, the men informed they were carrying seeds,“ when checked, the bags appeared to be carrying cotton seeds. However, a few layers of these bags were removed which revealed that they were instead peddling poppy husk in the layers below. These were put in such a way that normal checking would not have revealed the poppy husk.The duo were arrested who revealed that they had got the husk from Neemuch in MP and Choti Sadri area. They were given this truck near a lake and were asked to take the same to Sindhari. 117 bags of poppy husk were recovered with 2,457-kilogram poppy husk. The accused have been identified as Omaram and Subha Vishnoi, both residents of Feench in Luni,” said the SP.POLICE OPERATIONA team of Barmer police had traveled to Kalyanpur in search and arrest of wanted criminals. During the search, the police team learned from sources that a truck full of poppy husk would travel from Jodhpur to Balotra. A special team was thus formed which initiated barricading on the highway. The special team of Barmer police found the truck near Dhawa area. The men were then stopped at the barricading

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From helpline to WhatsApp number: Steps taken to help women in distress in Jammu and Kashmir

Waking up to the rising incidence of violence against women, Jammu and Kashmir State Commission for Women (SCW) has started one-stop-crisis-centre to help the women in distress at their doorsteps.SCW has started a helpline where the women can lodge a complaint over the phone and without walking into the office of the SCW. SCW has opened an exclusive phone line where women in distress can call or text or even WhatsApp to lodge a complaint. Officials of the SCW can immediately reach out to the women and help her to redress their grievances.“Please circulate this number among all for lodging complaint regarding any issue or problem any woman is facing at home or office..J&K state commission for women has kept this number exclusively for women to text, WhatsApp, message or give miss call. The commission will contact you soon”, tweeted Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor, chairperson of SCW.Official figures reveal that the SCW has received 3000 complaints of domestic violence and harassment at the workplace in the last three to four years.Also readJammu and Kashmir women’s commission chief bats for introduction of Women’s Reservation Bill“People have no direct access. They have to come to our office and lodge complaint then we will see and call them. But the phone line gives them immediate and instant access to the commission. I am seeing since yesterday there are so many calls. I think people have problems particularly women. If this type of instant access is provided to them they will come and find a solution to their problems”, Mehjoor told DNA.The helpline will act as the one-stop crisis centre where SCW officials can seek help from police and other agencies to help the women in the distress. “We can help in many ways. If she needs the support of police we can call the concerned police station, If she needs health-related help we can call the health centre. If there is domestic violence, we can intervene and send our team. There are different channels working”, she said.Police figures reveal 2,920 cases of crime against women were reported in 2016. These include 805 cases of kidnapping, 275 cases of rape, 157 cases of eve-teasing and 1,233 cases of molestation in 2016.

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6 lakh cases pending for decade or more in high courts: Data

Nearly six lakh cases are pending for a decade or more in various high courts and the Bombay High Court leads the tally with over one lakh litigations, according to latest figures collected by a monitoring system which seeks to identify and reduce pendency.A total of 40.15 lakh cases were pending in the 24 high courts of the country at the end of 2016 and the cases which are 10 years old or more constitute 19.45 per cent of the total pendency.According to data available on the national judicial data grid, as on December 7, as many as 5,97,650 cases were pending disposal in 20 high courts for a decade or more.Also readIn 94.6% cases of rape, accused known to victim, says NCRBThough there are 24 high courts, data of some of the courts, including the Allahabad High Court, was not available.The Bombay High Court leads the list with 1,29,063 pending cases. These include 96,596 civil, 12846 criminal cases and 19,621 writs.A writ petition is a court petition for extraordinary review, asking a court to intervene in a lower court’s decision.Also readDelay no reason for relief in child sex abuse cases: CourtThe Punjab and Haryana High Court is second in the list of pending cases which are over 10 years old. A total of 99,625 cases, including 64,967 civil, 13,324 criminal and 21,334 writs are awaiting disposal there.The Calcutta High Court faces a pendency of 74,315 cases awaiting disposal for the past years or more.According to the data, these include 40,529 civil, 14,898 criminal cases and 1,888 writs.Pending cases in the high courts were pegged at 41.52 lakh at the end of 2014.In December, 2015, the pendency went down to 38.70 lakh.But at the end of 2016, the cases went up to 40.15 lakh, but were less than the pendency in 2014.Also readNCRB data reveals surge in human trafficking cases

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Delhi government cancels license of Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh for medical negligence

Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain on Friday said that they are cancelling the license of Max hospital located in Shalimar Bagh due to medical negligence. The decision was taken after the health minister received the final report of the probe launched into probing alleged medical negligence by the hospital. The case relates to the birth of twins (a boy and a girl) on November 30. The parents alleged the babies were declared dead by the Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh but they later discovered that the boy was alive.the parents said they were told by the hospital that both the babies were stillborn. The infants were handed over to them in a polythene bag, they said. The family discovered that the baby boy was breathing just before the last rites, the police said. The baby however died later. Earlier Jain had said that the preliminary report had found Max hospital guilty on several counts and promised strict action once the final report comes. It’s not the first time Max has had a run in with the authorities recently. On November 22, a notice was sent to Max Hospital for allegedly violating norms related to services to be given to EWS patients. “These two cases have been clubbed and we will take action accordingly,” Jain had promised. The family of the kid had alleged that Max hospital tried to bribe them to hush up the case. However the hospital has vehemently denied the allegation. With PTI inputs

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Industry dept close to meeting promised no. of jobs

The state government had set an ambitious target to generate 15 lakh new job opportunities in state when they were elected to power. Celebrating the fourth year of the Raje government, the industry department claims to be close on target with 11.82 lakh jobs created in private industries.Industries minster of Rajasthan addressing the media in advance of state government’s 4th anniversary claimed that in addition to investment made by industrial heavyweights, there are 2,23,431 medium, small and micro industries registered in the state. These with investment of 31,257 crore rupees have created over 11 lakh job opportunities.However, the industry department did not have any mechanism to recall the number of those industries to have closed during the period.“There is no model that takes in consideration number of the industries to have gone close,” Industries minister Rajpal Singh Shekhawat was unable to answer questions on the same.“However, we are aware that it happens to many of those unable to compete with market and technology changes and have various programs to assist the small industries that find changes more difficult to adapt,” he added on a positive note.The minister stood firm on the employment claims and said more will be added in coming year as the state is now the ‘top preferences of investors from nation and abroad’.He also mentioned the steps taken to assist the investors through ease of doing business and placing 69 services of 13 departments online. He happen to mention that 19,800 youth have also been granted loan of 795 crore through RFC for establishment of their own business.
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Yunus Khan, Sachin Pilot slug it out

It is battle royale the Bollywood style between a minister and a party chief. Very much like the famous dialogue by actor Rajkumar from the blockbuster Saudagar where he says, “Hum tumhe marenge, jaroor marenge, lekin wakt bhi hamara hoga, bandook bhi hamari hogi, aur goli bhi hamari hogi”, transport and PWD minister Yunus Khan has challenged PCC chief Sachin Pilot saying, “Mein jawab dunga, figures ke sath jawab dunga, jagah bhi tumhari hogi aur time bhi tumhra hoga” (I will answer every question of yours; with data and figures. The place for debate will be chosen by you and also the time.)The war of words started when Pilot rubbished the claims made by Khan about the achievements of his department.Pilot had issued a press release and questioned the claims made by Yunus Khan. He had accused Khan of making false claims and selling off land belonging to the transport department. Khan called an urgent press meet at his office in the Secretariat on Monday and thew an open challenge at the PCC chief. He said he was ready to debate with Pilot on the issue. “Even if the PCC calls me to Indira Gandhi Bhawan, the PCC headquarters, I will willingly go there too for the debate.”His tirade knew no end. “I will provide figures of achievements by the BJP governments from 2003 to 2008 and from 2013 to 2017. These figures also will also expose the reality of the 10-year period of Gehlot’s government,” said Khan.
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Inbreeding threatens tigers of Ranthambhore?

Tigers of Rajasthan are a unique lot. Due to their isolation from the remaining population in the country, the tigers in Ranthambhore and Sariska Tiger reserves have become genetically isolated. Through this, the threat of inbreeding and thereby extermination of these felines from the state becomes a real one. A study conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and other agencies throws light in this regard, however, there appears to be a slight aberration as well.Tigers in Rajasthan from the western most extant population of wild tigers. Historically, the range of these striped felines extended to northwest into Pakistan but was locally extinct, thus tigers in Ranthambhore and Sariska form the western most boundary.The study says, “Our analyses reveal that tigers from the North-West cluster (Ranthambore) are genetically isolated. Such genetic isolation is supported by the fact that they form a distinct cluster in structure analysis and have the highest pair-wise with other genetic clusters.”Furthermore, the study reveals that the tigers could be at high risk of extinction. “Data also suggest that genetic diversity in Ranthambore is much lower in comparison to all other genetic clusters, possibly due to small effective size and/or isolation. Low genetic variation contributes to higher extinction risk in wild populations. The results suggest that the Ranthambore population is isolated and that inbreeding depression is a realistic possibility in this population,” the study says about Ranthambhore tigers.Logic dictates that when the gene pool shrinks, extinction of a specie become imminent. However there is a surprise hidden in Ranthambhore tigers too. They seem to be unperturbed, even through they are genetically isolated.“They (tigers) separate from other individuals in the network analysis, even at low thresholds of genetic similarity,” the study reads. This means that even though Ranthambhore tigers are isolated, contrary to popular scientific belief, there is still a greater dissimilarity between tigers here.“Tigers in Rajasthan are unique and it is surprising that even after inbreeding no deficiency of any sort can be seen in these tigers. These tigers have adapted themselves to the arid zone and as the study reveals, are different from other tigers,” says Yadvendra Jhala of the WII.Jhala further adds, “With genetic pool limitations come the threat of extinction but these tigers are surprisingly healthy. There is no malformation in them.”
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Yogi Adityanath


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Maharashtra cops to be imparted forensic training

To minimise chances of criminal cases falling apart due to compromised or improperly collected forensic evidence, the Maharashtra Home department is training police personnel in the scientific protocols of collecting these samples.This, officials said, will help take cases like rape, murder and sexual assault to their logical end based on forensic testing. They pointed to how instances of improper collection of samples from the crime scene led to investigations and outcomes being affected.”We have trained three batches comprising of 25 cops each so far with the fourth expected to be completed in December. We have selected constables with masters or bachelors degrees in science with two to four people being selected from each district. These constables will be trained in conducting basic tests and collection of forensic samples,” said an official from the state Home department.SP Yadav, Director General of Police (Legal and Technical), said the constables would be posted on the 45 mobile forensic vans which have been deployed in all districts for testing and forensic evidence collection.”We are recruiting permanent staff for these posts after which these constables can be posted in police stations where these skills will be useful in criminal investigations,” explained an official from the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories (DFSL).The 20-day residential training for the police is being held at the state-level forensic science laboratory in Mumbai.”At times, blood-stained clothes are sent for DNA testing without drying them. This leads to fungal or bacterial growth on these wet clothes and affects the outcomes of the DNA analysis. We are instructing them to dry these clothes in the sun and fold them properly before sending them for testing,” he said.DFSL sources said they would also train more policemen and also medical and veterinary officers in these skills and techniques. “There are times when we have been sent viscera samples instead of blood samples in cases where deaths have occurred due to an overdose of anesthesia. This training will acquaint them with the samples to be sent for testing in different cases,” said an official.TIPS BEING IMPARTEDBlood-stained clothes should be dried before sending them for DNA analysis. Fungal growth on wet clothes may affect the testing results.Clothes with semen and blood in cases like rape or murder should be packed separately.The teeth and femur bone of unknown dead bodies must be preserved for DNA evidence.
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Biswa Bangla row: Mukul Roy summoned by court after Abhishek Banerjee files defamation case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee on Tuesday filed a criminal defamation case against former TMC Rajya Sabha MP, now BJP leader, Mukul Roy.The case was filed at Bankshall Court in Kolkata. On the basis of Abhishek’s complaint and the documents submitted, Bankshall Court has issued a summon to Roy on December 20. Post filing the case, Abhishek said that he had been hurt by the allegations levelled by Roy. He also gave a challenge to Roy saying, “If I say something, people might choose to believe me or not. Similarly with Roy. Now it is up to the court to decide and pass a verdict. Then everyone will believe what the truth is. He has alleged that I am the owner of business entities named Biswa Bangla and Jago Bangla. If he cannot prove it, he should leave his seat and Bengal. If he can prove it fair and square, I will leave politics.”Roy, however, interacting to mediapersons maintained that he had not said anything without documents. “These papers are that of the corporate affairs ministry. If it is tried in any court of the country, I will be able to prove that what I had said is true,” he said. Reacting to Abhishek’s comments he said, “These are attempts to divert people’s attention from the issue. He is a young man and is immature that is why he throws these challenges.”
ALSO READ Mukul Roy moves Delhi HC against West Bengal govt over alleged tapping of his phoneHe added that earlier Alipurduar District Court had passed an injunction prohibiting Roy from making public statements against Abhishek following a petition by him but Roy repeated it again at a press conference on November 25. “Now I have filed a criminal case against him. I have my full faith on the judiciary. People are watching. We have shown how to win convincingly through ballot. We will do the same in this legal battle as well,” he added.Along with Abhishek, also present at the court was party MLA Smita Bakshi’s son Soumya Bakshi. Abhishek’s lawyer said that the defamation case has been filed under section 202 of the Indian Penal Code.
ALSO READ Why Mukul Roy is getting ‘Y-plus’ security? Trinamool leader files plea in Calcutta High CourtInterestingly, Roy too, had filed a similar case against Abhishek last week at Patiala House Court in New Delhi saying that the legal notice which was sent to him was defamatory. It will be heard on December 1. State BJP leadership refused to comment on the issue. “It is Roy who has alleged and the case is against him. The party is with him but he himself will have to prove the credibility of his allegations,” said a senior state BJP leader.In another development, the Biswa Bangla Biswabidyalay Bill (Biswa Bangla University Bill) was tabled by state education minister Partha Chatterjee at the West Bengal state Assembly while Opposition members opposed the title of the bill. Left Front and Congress members suggested that the bill should referred to the select committee which was turned down by speaker Biman Banerjee. Chatterjee said that the name had nothing to do with the Biswa Bangla logo. The proposed university would be located at Bolpur in Shantiniketan. Opposition members said that they opposed the use ‘Biswa Bangla’, which was a tainted phrase, in the name of a university at Shantiniketan because it amounted to an insult to Rabindranath Tagore.

Why BJP is comfortable in Gujarat despite Congress onslaught: Inside party’s formidable messaging machinery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite all-out attack launched by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Gujarat BJP is not ruffled. The confidence stems from the vast machinery it has built in every nook and corner of Gujarat to connect with its primary members. BJP has married its content and messaging strategy aided by technological support.To start with, Surat itself has 3200 WhatsApp groups operated by BJP workers, which are directly linked with each and every office bearer of the party. These groups further diversify when the content reaches primary members for distribution. “In a minute’s time, we have the capacity to touch base with 6 lakh people,” said PVS Sharma, BJP’s in-charge of South Gujarat.BJP has also tweaked its social media strategy. It is heavily banking on WhatsApp and Twitter platforms than Facebook. The war room boys feel that Facebook content is not instantaneous. i.e it doesn’t directly reach all users in real-time. For this very reason, BJP has WhatsApp groups at assembly level, Shakti Kendra and booth levels.
ALSO READ Gujarat Elections | All the ‘kichad’ thrown at me will help lotus bloom: PM Modi BJP has tried to connect with the workers and primary members in a three-pronged manner.Every assembly segment in Gujarat has a dedicated call centre. The job of the call centre through the election is to reach out to all primary members. They are harnessing the data which BJP collected during its missed call campaign. For example, Surat BJP has created a database of 11 lakh individuals who are its primary members.
ALSO READ Gujarat elections: Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani to fight as independent candidate from Vadgam ConstituencyThe call centres check all the missed calls they received and verified the numbers and personal addresses before connecting with them. It helped them to identify primary members up to booth level.The job of the call centre is to establish a personal connect with the voters. “We make them feel part of BJP’s larger family. From this set, Panna Pramukhs too are identified who are given responsibility of 40 to 45 voters. Their job during elections is to ensure that out of the list, all BJP sympathisers come out to vote.
ALSO READ Paresh Rawal compares PM Modi to Gautam Buddha, urges Gujaratis not to vote along caste lines These call centres are coupled with one war room in each district to monitor political developments in the area. The second component of the electoral strategy is the Audio Bridge, a technology BJP is using to connect all its rural workers. There are 35 constituencies in Surat and BJP has been able to connect almost all rural workers through the Audio Bridge technology. The call is initiated from a BJP district office and workers connect to the number. The Con call has the capacity to handle 1400 people at time. Sources say that the HQ can even monitor the numbers of the calls dropped during con call and they are immediately requested to connect again. Sources say that Audio Bridge was deployed in rural areas specifically because of limited bandwidth capacity.The last leg of the triad is Video Conferencing. It connects Central Offices with field offices of the candidates. The Central Offices have ensured that cameras with 360 degree views are installed to get a ground feel of the camp offices of the candidates. It is this formidable machine which is keeping BJP confident. Insiders say that if they can mobIlise their own primary members, through their elaborate messaging machinery, they will comfortably win this election. Jury is still out on it.

Supreme Court bats for CCTV during proceedings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Observing that there was no need for privacy in courtrooms, the Supreme Court on Tuesday favoured installation of CCTVs in courts. Suggesting that there was nothing private about court proceedings, the apex court opined that installation of CCTVs would be beneficial in larger public interest. It would also bring about a certain sense of discipline and security. “What privacy? This is not a case of privacy. We don’t need privacy here. Judges don’t need privacy in court proceedings. Nothing private is happening here. We all are sitting in front of you,” the bench observed.In pursuance to an earlier order, a bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit directed the Centre to file a report on its progress. Representing the Centre, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand said the Ministry of Law and Justice needs to sanction the financials for the proposal, which may happen soon. Anand agreed with the court’s observation that the installation of CCTVs and video recording to court proceedings was important and beneficial for all. To this, the court responded: “Don’t delay it. This step is in larger public interest, discipline and security. You file the report by November 23.” At an earlier hearing, the top court had favoured installation of CCTVs with audio recording of all court proceedings. These CCTVs – which would help bring in more transparency to proceedings, would be installed within the apex court complex as well as those of all high courts and tribunals.

Drop in fire-related calls due to awareness

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the number of fire-related calls dropped significantly, the Mumbai Fire Brigade plans ramp up their campaign and introduce mobile vans for fire safety awareness.As per the data shared by the Chief Fire Officer at a resident welfare association meeting, in 2016-17, the fire department received 15,216 as compared to 17,159 calls in 2015-16, a little less than 2,000 fire-related calls. The fire department credits public awareness as one of the major reasons for the drop in the number of calls.”We plan to introduce three mobile vans in the city. These will go around in various organisations and institutes to create awareness about fire safety measures and its prevention. We will put up the plan in next year’s budget,” said PS Rahangdale, Chief Fire Officer, adding that, “We want to create awareness in the community. These three mobile vans will be making stops at various colleges, co-operative societies, schools, government organisations to educate the masses about fire safety.”According to the fire department, they have inspected over 4,000 buildings in past four years out of which 94 per cent of the buildings have been fire compliant. The remaining 6 per cent were issued notices and extra time was granted to comply with the safety norms.Speaking about the drop in calls, Rahangdale, said, “Till date over 6,000 citizens have volunteered to participate in the training programme to educate people about the fire safety measures and prevention.”ON A MISSIONThe Mumbai Fire Brigade currently has 34 fire stations in the city. It also plans to come up with 17 mini fire stations and three mobile vans that will spread awareness.

Encroachers take over heritage mosques, bar visitors

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Qasai Wala Gumbad, the only Tughlaq-era mosque with a hemispherical dome, on Muradabad Pahadi in south Delhi’s Vasant Vihar is a heavily encroached heritage structure. It is a unique construction mainly because two mosques – one a Tughlaq-era mosque and other a Lodi-era mosque – stand adjacent to each other .Deep inside a park, few meters away from the Vasant Vihar Club, exist the two mosques. A huge gate, guarded by young kids, and a long pavement takes one towards the two marvelous white structures. One of these mosques is now used as a madrasah, known as Abdul Mannan Academy, where over 100 kids stay and study.The two beautiful structures are encroached and nobody is allowed inside the main gate, except on Thursdays when people visit the Dargah, which is just next to the two mosques. Few people visit Dargah of Syed Murad Ali Baba Shah here on Thursdays for prayers. There is very limited access to the mosques as the structures are under the control of a religious organisation, that does not allow outsiders here, not even students’ parents.When DNA visited the heritage structures, several questions were asked at the gate and the reporter was strictly asked to not take any pictures and leave within five minutes.”We do not even let in parents of over 100 madrasah students. The Archaeological Department is eyeing our mosque and a case is going on. This is our land,”says Mohammad Feroze, caretaker of one of the structures.Because of the encroachment, many Delhiites, even the historians, and locals living in the area are unaware of one of the Capitals’s beautiful heritage.”I have always been fascinated with these two mosques and visited on a Thursday when many local women go to the dargah. But the caretakers inside recognised me as an outsider with my camera, and asked me to leave that very moment,”said Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, Heritage activist.”These structures have so much potential due to their dual history and location, the government should do something about opening them to the public,”he adds.Inside the premises exists Delhi’s largest Baoli, or step-well, which has been taken over by the mosque authorities. Visits to either the mosque or the step-well are prohibited. The step-well is crumbling, struggling to retain its identity due to the neglect.”Also, these structures are under the flight path i.e. close to a runway and planes pass over these mosques, an area like this should be accessible to security and police, if it is not to the public,” adds Rooprai.

Cause driven by emotions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>I am looking at a change.org plea asking me to oppose cutting of trees coming in the way of a national highway. As the plea is forwarded by a very erudite professor, I decided to study it, only to discover an interesting misconception that really needs our attention.This plea and many more similar ones have one central theme. They all presume a link between air quality index (AQI) and trees, so the uncouth me is forced to look at the science behind the hazardous AQI numbers that they are riding to support their cause.AQI is a composite index based on levels of five major air pollutants, i.e. ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. And the bitter truth (for saviours of trees and planet) is that these pollutants and trees have no positive correlation linking them.In most cases (other than dust storms, volcanic eruptions or forest fires), it is the normal human activities that produce these pollutants. So they are present across the globe wherever the population is dense. Their presence becomes more pronounced in winter as cold air stagnates close to ground. While I invite tree-lovers to explain their version of science of how any of the parameters considered for AQI will improve by having trees, I would like to bring to your attention a phenomenon that points exactly in opposite direction, especially in India.In the air quality index, the number that is really worrisome for us in Ahmedabad or Delhi is of particulate matter (PM), more specifically of PM 2.5 levels, i.e. of particles that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These extremely small particles are highly dangerous because they pass through all the natural defences of our respiratory system and cause long term damage to our lungs. The smog that has become symbol of pollution in India is caused by the high PM levels.World over, particulate matter is produced due to industrial activities, partial burning of fuel by vehicle engines and also because of burning of organic material. While we are guilty of having polluting industries and chaotic traffic, there is one uniquely local factor that could be a big source of particulate matter in our cities, and that is trees.As winter is a season of fall, leaf litter forms a large part of waste material in our cities. As it is simple to burn it, city administrations are unable to wean our sanitation workers off it even after working hard at training them. Citizens are also equally guilty of disposing organic waste by burning it. This problem is compounded in cold weather as those forced to live outdoors are tempting to burn litter and wood for warmth. All this burning produces a massive amount of particulate matter that hangs around in cold air and gives an alarming spike to AQI. So, while not contributing much in improving AQI, a city-dwelling tree is possibly guilty of abetting increase in PM2.5 levels.The real learning from the story of trees is that understanding is a greatest requirement for love to be meaningful. We need trees, but we also need to understand the comprehensive role they play, or it is entirely possible that having more trees can end up contributing to increasing pollution instead of reducing it. So, if you are a tree-lover and really want to improve air quality, invest your energy in preventing burning of leaf litter instead of wasting time in raising objections to building of a road that may be smoothening transportation and reducing pollution. Pollution is a massive crisis that is getting bigger because emotion-driven “lovers” of nature have hijacked our response to it. We need to break free from these obsessions and allow scientific reason to prevail, if we want real solutions.

Time to pave national highways with pragmatism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last week, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) – beaming with confidence of India moving up in the global index of doing business – flexed its muscles by making it clear that there shall be proper rating of highways, toll plazas, construction companies and consultants. Interestingly, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had recently debarred companies like Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) from bidding for new projects for a year due to their “lackadaisical attitude” in meeting deadlines. These developments in the infrastructure sector with the regulatory framework being tightened are a bit too much and a bit too fast. India with its continental size needs effective highways – broad, without potholes and cattle besides smooth flow of traffic without bottlenecks. It also needs driver-friendly, safe, secure, durable and easy to maintain roads. It is not always possible to connect cities, towns and villages by rail or air and road connectivity is the answer. Expressways are the conduit between two habitations, and with motorised vehicles providing speed, safety and comfort, it is natural that the demand for good roads will grow with prosperity, business and trade.Movement of goods and people require speedy transport and proper roads. The government has not done enough on this front. Lack of resources, both financial and technical, has been a major reason to bring in private participation in infrastructure development.Private companies like L&T, HCC and others have contributed immensely to the growth story. In the process, the companies have generally done well by rewarding shareholders in the long run. Knowing the entire landscape – political, bureaucratic, legal and social – of doing business like the back of their hand, these companies have often been running the show. It is an open secret that most of the premium construction business has been shared between a few top-notch companies.Other players have not been able to compete due to their inability to handle big-ticket projects as well as lack of understanding of finer aspects of handling political and legal issues. This often results in matters reaching courts as stakes are usually high and parties do not hesitate toplay the legal gamble – it doesn’t cost much to fight the legal battle but if one wins, it is like hitting the jackpot.Though the recent actions by the MoRTH and the NHAI are salutary and aim at cleansing the system, there are serious doubts about the ability and willingness of these organisations in putting their own houses in order.Unfortunately, recently there have been several media reports about issues of conflict of interest, favouritism, dummy players bidding for lucrative contracts with knowledge and sometimes collusion of insiders, tailoring specifications to suit certain bidders and biased decision-making. Such disclosures and discussions in public do not infuse confidence.With 24X7 media, and the people armed with the RTI Act, there is hardly anything which can be kept away from public knowledge. There is rightfully no need to keep anything under wraps, however, any government or any statutory authority is not supposed to transact all the business it does at the crossroads. Most of the negotiation exercises, before anything is put down in black and white, are not open to public scrutiny. Re-negotiation of awarded contracts is also a ticklish matter and most of the issues can be dealt with satisfactorily if both parties remain realistic.The current stand taken by the MoRTH and NHAI, prima facie, is too idealistic and text-book style. Earlier too, there have been serious issues with all major construction companies walking away when the bar was raised too much. There has to be a proper blend of realism to make things work. Only then, the people will be able to have a better experience at better highways.

Govt to examine if farmers eligible for flood relief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to probe if 35 tribal farmers, of Banaskantha District (BK), are entitled to get compensation for the flood which took place in July.Citizens Resource and Action Initiative CRANTI’s had moved a public interest litigation (PIL) on behalf of the tribal farmer families of Keralu and Sekra villages of the district.The petitioner’s advocates, Dimple Thaker and Dixa Pandya, told the court that standing crops of these farmers were damaged by the heavy floods this July.Though the people are entitled to the compensation, neither any survey, nor any payment was made.Even the representation made to the district collector and other authorities, no response was sent by the authorities. These farmers have suffered Rs 91 lakh damage and the state government should pay them compensation, according to the plea . The amount of the damage was assessed by the farmers and the government can have its own assessment. But, based on it the farmers should be fairly compensated, the plea added.Opposing the petition, government pleader Manisha Lavkumar, who submitted a revenue record, said apparently these farmers were doing agriculture activities on government land. The land is not in any of the farmers’ name, and that could be the reason why they were denied compensation. Some revenue cases are also pending in this regard before the district collector over the ownership issue. These land comes under the new tenure.The tribal farmers’ contention is that their forefathers were allotted this land by the government after independence. They were rehabilitated to these villages in 1948. Since then, these people have been cultivating here. In 1976, then district collector sought revenues for doing any agricultural activities.Later, the farmers’ names were removed from the land records and given to the government. However, since the farmers were the first inheritors of the land, they could not be denied compensation.After hearing both parties, the first-division bench directed the government to examine whether the farmers are entitled for the compensation. The matter would be heard after two weeks.

BEST’s gift to kids: Pay more for season passes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an ironic blow to students on Children’s Day, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) buses’ daily commute just got more expensive, as the undertaking approved a proposal on Tuesday to increase fares of daily and season passes of students. The hikes range between 16 to 66 percent. On Tuesday, the BEST Committee approved the proposal that hikes monthly bus passes for students up to Class 5 from Rs 150 to Rs 200, quarterly from Rs 450 to Rs 600 and six-monthly from Rs 750 to Rs 1000. These fares were earlier for students in Class 6 to 10, which too, has been increased to Rs 250, Rs 750 and Rs 1,250 respectively.Sources in the BEST said that as per their rough estimates, they give subsidies of Rs 41.7 crore to school and college students. This amount stood at Rs 20.13 crore in 2015-16, and over the last two years, the number of students using this provision has gone up. The BEST officials said that this is part of rationalising and cost cutting measures taken up by them to reduce losses. The BEST Undertaking’s 3,700 bus fleet is used to transport 30 lakh people daily. “These are cost reduction measures that are needed to bring down losses,” said Surendra Bagde, General Manager, BEST Undertaking.On Tuesday, the BEST Committee also passed a proposal for fare hike in long-distance fares and bus passes. It scrapped the proposal of getting buses on wet-lease basis, wherein the Undertaking would have reduced cost by Rs 260 crore annually. However, this would have meant that they would get 100 buses from private operators while the BEST would use their drivers and conductors. They would not be involved in maintenance of these buses, and hiring them would have cost Rs 37 per km. This is taking into account buses which ply for a maximum of 180 km a day.The BEST is also mulling rationalising their bus routes. It operates 504 bus routes daily, of which 150 routes fall under Grade C – they generate only 40 paise for every rupee spent per kilometre.Subsidies speakThey give subsidies of Rs 41.7 crore to school and college students. It also gives subsidies to freedom fighters, physically challenged, senior citizens, press to the tune of Rs 45.34 crore It also passed hike for long-distance fares and bus passes

Unlikely alliance turning J&K’S hopes into reality

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the coalition government in J&K in March, 2015, the then chief minister, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, summed up the coming together of the ideologically opposite parties as ‘North Pole meeting the South Pole’. The critics dismissed the alliance as opportunistic and fragile, and predicted its fall sooner than later.Two-and-a-half years on, however, the Green and the Saffron continue to tango in the restive state, without any major divisive issue .The AoA”Nobody thought we will survive for three years. It has happened. There has been no major issue between the PDP and the BJP. Action has started on most points mentioned in the Agenda of Alliance (AOA), ” says Dr Haseeb A Drabu, J&K Minister for Finance and the architect of AOA.Setting aside their political ideologies, the two divergent parties agreed on AOA, a governance mantra, to run the coalition for six years. The two parties not only managed the alliance very well, but have also been able to give a new direction to the development process.Dark clouds of uncertainty hovered over the alliance when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away in 2016. A political vacuum was created and the state was placed under the Governor’s rule. Then Mehbooba Mufti decided to take the plunge and become the first woman chief minister of the state.Mehbooba’s journey, however, was not smooth. A five-month separatist-sponsored agitation, following the killing of Hizbul Mujhadeen (HM) leader Burhan Wani on July 8, last year, sent the state into turmoil. Yet, she braved it all and silenced her critics by her perseverance and the governance mantra.Projects galoreNow, for the first time, the state has enough funds, and believe it or not, is facing the unique question of how to utilise this money. Unprecedented road network, bridges, hospitals, schools — the state is on a high of development agenda. The Rs 80,000 Prime Minister Developmental Package (PMDP) has made this difference.Under the PMDP, 63 projects have been taken up by 15 Union ministries through 39 executing agencies. Of these, nearly 80 per cent of the projects stand formally sanctioned. Of the total outlay, Rs 21,988 crore has been released under the package and five projects have already been completed. As many as seven projects are likely to be completed soon.Of the works in progress, 22 major road projects in the state include some big-ticket plans, such as semi-ring road projects for Srinagar and Jammu, Kargil-Zanaskar road, and the Udhampur-Ramban and Ramban-Banihal stretches of the National Highway, which are in various stages of completion.Impetus for higher educationThe IIM in Jammu has started functioning from its transit accommodation, with an off campus at Narkara in Budgam. Similarly, the Jammu IIT has also started functioning and the process of raising infrastructure for the two institutes has also been started. Besides, under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), the detailed project reports of 56 out of 59 projects have been approved, and 27 of them have been started.Under the Himayat programme, a target of training more than one lakh youths in the coming five years has been fixed. Similarly, indoor stadium are being constructed at 10 district headquarters.Connectivity goalsAmong the 11 projects to be taken up for execution include some ambitious ones, such as the Rs 5,100 crore Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch road project, the Rs 1,800 crore Srinagar-Shopian-Qazigund road project, Rs 2,700 crore, 105 km connectivity project for various tourist destinations, and the Zojila tunnel project.”Under the present dispensation, the state has received substantial funding from the Centre. With an expansion in the existing road network, the state is witnessing notable growth and development in different spheres,” said Sham Lal Choudhary, J&K Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control.Health is wealthAs per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the mother and child health indicators in the state have improved in 2016-17, and are relatively better than the national average. This has been possible due to effective monitoring and dedicated efforts by the staff at various levels. Besides, five new medical colleges with 90 per cent funding by the Central government are coming up in the state within the next two years. The move will not only improve the overall health scenario in the state, but will also add 500 more medical seats, thereby generating employment for hundreds of technocrats. These colleges will be established at Anantnag, Baramulla, Kathua, Rajouri, and Doda, at a cost of Rs 189 crore each.To strengthen the health services, the government of India has also sanctioned two AIIMS for Jammu and Kashmir, for which the process of acquisition of land and other necessary formalities have begun. The estimated cost of each institution has been worked out to be Rs 2,000 crore, with an intake capacity of 100 seats. These two prestigious institutions will not only cater to patients from J&K, but also from the neighbouring states, such as Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and other parts of the country.For the benefit of cancer patients, the government of India has sanctioned two state-level cancer institutes, to be constructed at a cost of Rs 120 crore each.Off the weathered roadJ&K has also emerged as one of the few states to have gone into an overdrive to create massive assets under the MNERGA scheme. Shunning the tradition of constructing lanes and drains, the Rural Development Department has effectively switched over to asset creation and numerous structures of public importance have been created.During the last fiscal, 875 foot bridges, 1,023 culverts, 20,699 link roads, 2,247 ponds, 1,362 check dams, 2,680 gabion structures, 1,201 water harvesting tanks, 10 fisheries ponds, and 26 Anganwadi centers were constructed, and 2,659 traditional water bodies were renovated.Moreover, 227 play fields were developed, 245 panchayat ghars and 7,074 IHHLs were constructed, 788 livelihood support works (goat shelter, cattle shelter, composite pits etc.), 7,585 micro irrigation works and 977 de-sliting works were completed under the MGNREGA during 2015-16.Similarly, during 2016-17, as many as 11.70 lakh job cards were issued, 312.68 lakh man-days were generated under MGNREGA, and 446 foot bridges, 381 culverts, 8,713 link roads, 29 check dams, 319 gabion structures, 3,140 water harvesting tanks, and 175 ponds were constructed, while 1,334 traditional water bodies were renovated.Besides, 96 play fields were developed, 4 fisheries ponds, 14 Aganwadi centers, 170 Panchayats ghars, and 1,552 IHHLs were constructed under MGNREGA, while 109 livelihood support works (goat shelter, cattle Shelter, composite pits etc.), 2,706 micro irrigation works, and 253 de-silting works were completed.”The social security and the basic facilities for the poor, besides good governance, are the priorities of the government, for which a vigorous campaign has been launched throughout the state,” said Ajay Nanda, J&K Minister of State for Finance and Planning.Cherry on the cakeIn the last two-and-a-half years, J&K has added many firsts to its credit. It has emerged as the first state in the country to change the budget classification, the first state to move to January budget to allow people to spend more, the first state to have announced abolition of treasuries, and the first state to move to the new system of pay-in accounts.But, the highlight of this coalition government has been the appointment of Special Representative, Dineshwar Sharma, by the Centre to initiate dialogue with all stake holders in J&K. The talks with all stakeholders was high on AoA and with the appointment of Sharma, the government says that this clause has been fulfilled.”The appointment of former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as the special representative reflected what the Prime Minister had said on Independence Day — “neither ‘goli’ (bullets) nor ‘gaali’ (abuses) can solve the Kashmir issue and it can only be addressed by embracing Kashmiris,” said Naeem Akhtar, J&K Minister for Public Works and official spokesperson of the state government.CHALLENGESBringing separatists to the table: The Joint Resistance Leadership, an amalgam of Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, has ruled out talks with the Centre’s interlocutor, Dineshwar Sharma, terming it an “exercise in futility”. The Mehbooba government has to work hard to convince the separatist leadership for talks, in order to bring lasting peace to the troubled state.
Bringing down violence level and curbing stone pelting: Nearly 172 militants have been killed in the renewed offensive against militants this year. But, it has come at a cost of 70 security men, who laid down their lives in the line of duty. Still, there are 225-230 militants operating in the Valley.
Restoring faith and instilling confidence among tourists: 2016 and 2017 have been the worst years, as far as tourist footfall is concerned. 2018 poses a challenge, as tourist operators are looking up to the government to help the sector.
Holding Panchayat and Parliamentary elections for the Anantnang seat: With militants and separatists calling for boycott, coupled with high level of violence, the elections are proving to be a headache for the Mehbooba government. Though there is no word from the Election Commission (EC) on the polls, which were postponed on May 2, J&K Governor NN Vohra has promulgated an ordinance, clearing the decks for holding the polls in the winter of 2017-18.
Preventing radicalisation of youth and channelling their energy towards constructive projects: Youth are especially vulnerable of being exploited by radical elements to become extremists. The Mehbooba government’s biggest challenge is to stave off the youth from falling into the trap of militants and extremists. ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE ALLIANCEThe Rs 80,000-crore Prime Minister Development Package: It was the biggest package ever given by the Centre to the state. From a cash-strapped state, J&K became cash-rich state and the developmental process received a much needed fillip after 27 years of militancy. Roads, bridges, schools, colleges, hospitals, and institutions of excellence came as a bonus.
Appointment of interlocutor: Talks were at the heart of the AOA between the PDP and the BJP. By appointing former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as an interlocutor, the government has silenced its critics. Sharma, whose order has been issued by the President, has already kicked off his Mission Kashmir and met several delegations in the state.
Smart Cities: With the persistent persuasion of the state government, the Centre has included both capitals, Srinagar and Jammu, in the list of Smart Cities. The state has already constituted two committees — the State Level Advisory Committee and Special Purposes Vehicles — for implementation of the Smart City Development Projects under the ‘Smart City Mission’.
Two AIIMS: To strengthen the health services, the Government of India has sanctioned two AIIMS for Jammu and Kashmir. The estimated cost of each institution has been worked out at Rs 2,000 crore, with an intake capacity of 100 seats. The prestigious institutions will not only cater to the needs of patients of the state, but also to those from the neighbouring states, such as Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and other parts of the country.
India’s longest road tunnel: Nashri tunnel is yet another feather in the cap of the J&K government. An engineering marvel, the 9-km tunnel located on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was dedicated to the nation by PM Narendra Modi on April 2. Built at a cost of Rs 3,720 crore, the Nashri road tunnel has cut down the distance between Jammu and Srinagar cities by nearly 30 km.
MGNREGA projects: In an unprecedented decision, the J&K government has effectively started creating assets instead of just constructing lanes and drains under MGNREGA. Numerous structures of public importance have been created under the scheme, along with jobs. During the last fiscal, 875 foot-bridges, 1,023 culverts, 20,699 link roads, 2,247 ponds, 1,362 check dams, 2,680 Gabion structures/allied works, 1,201 water harvesting tanks/structures, 10 fisheries ponds, and 26 Anganwadi centres were constructed.
Waiving 50% Kisan Credit Card Loans: The Kisan Credit Card (KCC) has emerged as an innovative credit delivery mechanism to meet the production credit requirements of farmers in a timely and hassle-free manner. The State Finance Department has released Rs 241.186 crore to the J&K Bank (SLBC Convener) for waiving 50 per cent of KCC loans, in favour of farmers, whose accounts were standard on August 31, 2014 and the outstanding was less than Rs 1 lakh on March 31, 2015.
Reviving the powers of J&K Legislature: For the first time, the Presidential order on GST was put before the Legislative Assembly for discussions. The Presidential order on the GST was discussed and later implemented, after getting the sense of the House.
Health sector: As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), mother and child health indicators in the state improved during the year 2016-17 and are relatively better than the national average. This has been possible due to effective monitoring and dedicated efforts by the staff at various levels.
Medical colleges: Five new medical colleges with 90 per cent funding by the Central government are coming up in the state. The timeline for completion of these projects has been fixed as two years. The move will improve the overall health scenario in the state and add 500 more medical seats, thereby generating employment for hundreds of technocrats. These colleges will be established at Anantnag, Baramulla, Kathua, Rajouri, and Doda at Rs 189 crore each.

NGT directs Delhi government and NDMC to ensure parking facilities

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi government and the municipal corporations to ensure availability of appropriate parking facilities for cars and discourage road-side parking.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar slammed authorities for not complying with its earlier orders to decongest traffic and asked them to take steps in a holistic manner.Why have you not created appropriate parking place for cars? You people are responsible for creating mess on roads by creating two-three lanes of parking. Why don t you cancel the agreement with contractors who abuse their terms. These parking people become officers and traffic police just watch them, the bench said.The green panel said that if new cars are being allowed to registered then they must be given proper parking spaces.For instance, the multiple parking at Sarojni Nagar remains empty which is undisputed fact and all the vehicles are permitted to be parked on roads where some contractors collect money and add to congestion of traffic.All the Government Authorities, Corporations and NDMC should take immediate and effective steps to rectify these discrepancies and ensure better co-ordination between the Corporations, Government, Police, Departments and contractors who are engaged for parking purposes, the bench added.It also directed the AAP government and the traffic police to challan and seize 10-year-old diesel vehicles and 15-year-old petrol vehicles to curb air pollution in the city.The counsel appearing for NCT Delhi has informed that the site has already been provided for keeping the vehicles which are impounded/seized by the Police being 10 years old vehicles in the case of diesel and 15 years old in the case of petrol.We direct the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to ensure that vehicles which are violating the above directions of the Tribunal should be seized and compliance report be submitted to the Tribunal on the next date of hearing, the bench said.

Odd-even 3.0: Delhi brings back car-rationing drive from Monday, here’s all you must know

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ‘pollution emergency’ in the Delhi-NCR forced the Arvind Kejriwal government to reintroduce the odd-even scheme from next week.With the toxic haze showing no sign of any reduction, the car-rationing is seen as part of graded action plan by the Kejriwal government to combat the situation.Here’s all you need to know about the odd-even scheme starting Monday:1: The third phase of the odd-even scheme will come into force from November 13. So far, the government has decided to roll it out for limited period and will end on November 172: All cars will be allowed on the roads based on whether their number plates are odd or even.3: The scheme will be implemented from 8 am to 8 pm. Those who will be exempted from the plan include the women drivers and all two-wheelers.4: Making the announcement, Delhi traffic minister Kailsha Gehlot said that all arrangements are in place and people must not panic.5: Before this, the odd-even scheme was implemented in Delhi twice in April and January last year for 15 days.6: The government-run DTC has been asked to hire 500 more buses for the period. Delhi Metro has also been directed to run 100 more trains.7: The CNG vehicles will be also exempted from the odd-even scheme but they will need to have stickers. These stickers will be available at the 22 IGL stations across Delhi from 2 pm tomorrow.8: In other measures, commercial trucks have been banned from the city unless they are carrying essential commodities, all construction has been stopped and car parking charges raised four times to force residents to use public transport. Schools have been shut for the week.9: The smog hung over the city for third consecutive day is causing lots of health issues for people. Most of the complaints include headaches, coughs and itchy eyes.10: The readings continue to show situation is severe. A US embassy measure of tiny particulate matter PM 2.5 showed a reading of 608 at 10 a.m. when the safe limit is 50.(With agencies input)

Escalate work on pending slum rehabilitation: Govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state, in a bid to give a much needed push for the completion of long pending 1,200 slum rehabilitation projects in Greater Mumbai, has proposed a slew of initiatives. Some of these projects will be tendered out by the state-run Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority (Mhada) and Shivshahi Punarvasan Prakalp Ltd (SPPL).In some cases where tenants are not eligible under the slum rehabilitation scheme, they will be covered under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana. Such tenants will be provided 300 sq ft of home at cost. The developer can to do it after loading free component. This apart, the government will put in place a strict eligibility and financial criteria for builders and developers to complete slum rehabilitation projects in a time bound manner and they do not languish for long.The government will also set quality norms that will have to be followed by builders for the dwellings to be offered free under slum rehabilitation scheme.Sanjay Kumar, additional chief secretary of state housing department told DNA, “These 1,200 slum rehabilitation projects are stuck up not just due to paucity of funds. In some cases builders have undertaken such projects without any wherewithal while few others are delayed due to lack of demand for tenements constructed under sale component due to slow down.”Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Projects Consultants said, ”Mumbai can easily replicate the success story of Singapore’s Housing and Development Board which remained laser-focused on eradicating slums. With effective PPP models, higher incentives to the stakeholders and good financial structuring, the slums in Mumbai can be eradicated faster than envisaged.”However, to accomplish this task, Puri said that the government must involve itself at every level of the redevelopment plan.

Railways on drive to remove anti-social elements

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railways are in the process of identifying stations where drug peddlars and addicts are often seen. On the Western Railway, they have received complaints from locals of these unwanted elements outside Grant Road station. Officials said that they are posting RPF staff to get rid of this menace. On the Central Railway, Masjid-CSMT is known for this menace.The WR officials said that during the multi disciplinary visits; the teams saw the presence of these anti- social elements who are threat to commuters. This is the reason the decision has been taken to evict these beggars, drug peddlers and other anti-social elements from Grant Road station premises. These people sit right outside platform 4 – where trains to Churchgate arrive – especially in the evenings.There is an old dilapidated railway yard right next to this platform, which officials state these people use to escape onto the road outside. “We have asked the RPF to monitor the stations where the elements are found and get rid of them,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway.There is, at Grant Road station, a spot that is supported by six pillars as an extension to the station premises, with a ticket booking office next to this concourse where commuters are seen. Sources said that there is a proposal to shift the stalls inside the station present on the platform onto this concourse so that it doesn’t get encroached upon by anti-social elements.The BMC has already removed the beggars and as per the plans, No Hawking Zone has been created there. Sources said that there is an abandoned structure near the FOB on the same platform that too needs to be removed. The RPF officers claim that they are posting their staff at stations where the issue of anto social elements and hawkers have arise.On the Central Railway there are anti social elements that are seen between CSMT and Masjid stations. Sources agree that this stretch is well-known for these anti-social elements who operate despite action is taken from time to time. There is a proposal to remove the hawkers from both Churchgate and CSMT stations which are like hub for these hawkers.These steps are being taken to create more space on railway premises and on the outside so that people can walk freely. Over the past few days there have been demolition drives across various stations and its periphery. These critical actions taken by the government authorities is the outcome of the stampede at Elphinstone Road where 23 people lost their lives on September 29.

Arvind Kejriwal asks for setting up of committees to help traders hit by demonetisation, GST

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the first anniversary of Centre’s demonetisation move, the Delhi government on Tuesday announced it would extend relief to traders whose businesses were affected by it. The government also announced they would constitute committees to help it in taking decisions related to the newly introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST).Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that demonetisation, followed by introduction of the new tax regime GST, had adversely affected the interests of traders. “More than 40-50 per cent of small ventures/small industries have been shutdown in industrial areas of Delhi, which has shaken the economy as thousands of youth working there have become jobless,” he said in a statement.He suggested that Delhi government fix GST at 12 per cent on all commodities, with 6 per cent of the tax resting with the central government and 6 per cent given to state governments to carry out developmental activities.Kejriwal also directed the Trade and Tax Department to set up GST market support committees to make suggestions to the government on the new tax regime. “These committees can make WhatsApp groups of their respective market associations and collect their suggestions, which can later be put to the forum of GST council for broader decision-making,” he said.Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also said that regular interaction with traders is a must for better understanding of their issues. “The traders are on ventilators due to the ill-effects of the levy of GST,” he said.

Demonetization, GST complete disaster for our economy: Manmohan Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has termed demonetisation, and goods and services tax (GST), a complete disaster for the Indian economy. These steps have broken the back of the small business in India, he alleged. Commenting on the bullet train, he called it an exercise in vanity. Manmohan Singh is visiting Ahmedabad on the eve of the first anniversary of demonetization to highlights the “ill-effects” of demonetization. He expressed his opinions while discussing the current economic situation with traders and businessmen in Ahmedabad. “November 8 was a black day for our economy and indeed our democracy”, said Singh. He called it a disastrous policy which was thrust on the people of the country. “Nowhere in the world has any nation taken such a drastic step that sweeped off 86% of the currency,” he said. He repeated his earlier allegations made in the parliament that demonetization was “organised loot and legalized plunder”. “The fear of tax terrorism has eroded the confidence of Indian business to invest” he claimed.(With ANI inputs)

Women’s panel summons north civic chief for not sealing GB Road units

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) On Monday summoned North Municipal Commissioner to appear on November 13, for not taking action against illegal Tehkhanas in GB Road brothels.The Commission confirmed that the civic body and the Delhi Police were informed about these hidden cells during mutual meetings and through letters. These hideouts are used to hide trafficked minor girls. The DCW had laid stress on demolishing or sealing these cells in December, 2016.”Teams visited these brothels several times and found small hidden cells there. These cells are used to hide minor girls during raids. The North civic body has been asked to demolish or seal these hidden cells multiple times already, and yet no action has been taken. So, now the civic body commissioner has been summoned by the DCW,” said panel chief Swati Maliwal. She also stated that the Commission will not tolerate any crime against minor girls.The summons also asked for reasons behind the non-demolition or non-sealing of these illegal structures till date. It stated that in case the civic body failed to comply with the order, the Commission will be constrained to carry forward the proceedings against the office under provisions laid down in the Civil Procedure Code.The Delhi Commission for Women Act, 1994, mandates the Commission to investigate and examine all matters related to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and give recommendations to the government on the issue of women safety. Section 10(iii)(d) of the said Act empowers the Commission to seek any information, requisition any public record or copy thereof from any office for the aforesaid purpose, and gives it powers of a Civil Court in this regard.WOMEN SAFETYThe Delhi Commission for Women Act, 1994, mandates the Commission to investigate and examine all matters related to the safeguards provided for women.

4 men held for assaulting woman, making video

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gautam Budh Nagar police arrested four men from the Dadri area on Sunday morning for allegedly assaulting a 22-year-old woman last month.According to the police, the accused have been identified as Shaki Jaan, 24, Anuj, 25, Rajindra, 22, and Kunal, 25. They allegedly assaulted a woman last month.”On Saturday evening, we came across a video in which a woman was being assaulted by the four accused. Following this, we registered a case under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” a senior officer said.Police verified the video and located the girl, who then told them that last month, she was heading back home when these men stopped her near a deserted road, tore her clothes, assaulted her, and tried to force themselves on her.”These men filmed the incident and then threatened her to not disclose the incident to anyone,” the officer added.The police then conducted raids at their homes on Sunday morning and arrested them. During interrogation, the four confessed to the crime and stated that they wanted the video to go viral in their village.

Army mulling imported rifles for troops in combat zones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Army is exploring the option of importing modern assault rifles for the infantry engaged in counter-terror operations and other combat positions as homegrown weapons lack the potency needed for such encounters.People with the knowledge of the matter have told DNA that the force feels that at least 2.5 lakh assault rifles out of the total requirement of 8 lakh should be procured from abroad. These can be used by the front-line troops who fight terrorists in Kashmir and insurgents in North-East.The need to equip the infantry with a modern assault rifle is a top priority, Army sources said.”Buying the entire 8 lakh rifles from a foreign firm will turn out to be very expensive. But we cannot compromise on the quality of the weapon being used by the infantry,” said an army source.Another option being explored is to get the initial procurement from abroad and subsequently set up a manufacturing line in India under the Strategic Partnership model.The Army had earlier expressed reservations on the assault rifle being developed by the state-run Ordnance Factory Board. This firearm was expected to meet infantry’s requirement and be an alternative for the INSAS (Indian Small Arms Systems) rifles inducted in 1988.Listing out the limitations in the 7.62 x 51 mm rifle after an internal evaluation, the army review had said in June that the weapon is a prototype with several faults that go beyond 20 times the maximum permissible limit.In September 2016, when the Ministry of Defence came out with a Request for Information to identify probable vendors, it was said that 65,000 out of the total requirement of 1.85 lakh rifles were needed urgently.Not just the Army, but other forces like the Central Reserve Police Force, which is a part of the counter-terror operations in Kashmir and fights Maoists, is also looking at global options. Soon after Home Minister Rajnath Singh urged for speeding up indigenous procurement for para military forces, the CRPF issued a global tender for 29,823 assault rifles.Sources said the need to arm the forces with a modern assault rifle is a must in view of the changing dynamics of counter-insurgency operations, especially in Kashmir.Joint operations by the Army, CRPF and Jammu & Kashmir police have been successful and resulted in killings of terrorists including several top commanders. Nearly terrorists have been gunned down this year in Kashmir going past last year’s tally of 150.MORE FIREPOWERThe Army sources said that at least 2.5 lakh expensive assault rifles out of the total requirement of 8 lakh should be procured from abroad.
These can be used by the front-line troops who fight terrorists in Kashmir and insurgents in North-East.

Himachal Assembly polls 2017: Cong lost trust of people, BJP govt will earn it back, says Prem Kumar Dhumal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What is the BJP’s biggest poll offering in the state?The benefits of “jaan, maan aur sammaan”. In the last five years, the Congress eroded people’s belief and lost its credibility owing to its misrule and rampant corruption. We promise to win that belief back. We will have something for everyone. We will ensure women are safe here, bring development back on track, create more jobs, build better health facilities, and restore pension for those above 70 years. In the tourism sector, the backbone of the state economy, we plan new destinations, better infrastructure, and the development of the “char dham” circuit, connecting all temples.
The Congress’ manifesto, released after the BJP’s, seems to have an edge… It is a fraud manifesto — full of false promises. In 2003, the Congress in its manifesto said that one member in every family will get a job. It later said that those without jobs will get social security cards. But unemployment is still a huge worry. In 2003, and again in 2012, they said that Class X students will get Rs 10,000, while those above Class XII will get Rs 15,000. I spoke to students in Rampur, none of whom received any stipend. The hydro-electric projects the Congress has been promising aren’t complete. These are false assurances. The state is reeling under a debt of Rs 28,000 crore. What are the BJP’s plans?We plan to generate an income of Rs 600 crore every year through hydel projects. We will create 70,000 jobs that will boost the economy to an extent. In a state like Himachal Pradesh, there is not much scope to send money back to the Centre, but we will do our best. In one of the rallies on Thursday, PM Modi said that he will ask cold drink companies to ensure that at least 5% of the compositions are made of fruit pulp or juice. This will be very beneficial for the state’s agrarian economy.There has been some unhappiness within the party over ticket distribution…In every Vidhan Sabha constituency, a party usually has 50-100 prominent workers. The party is bound by certain factors — especially winnability. There is bound to be discontentment among a section of the people, but the party is supreme.Talking of discontentment, the GST has been a major grouse among the voters…In Parliament, when the GST was eventually brought in, P Chidambaram reminded us all that it was the Congress in 2010 which took the initiative. The “one nation, one market, one tax” scheme will be a boon for small traders by lowering price rise. It will expand the GDP by 1.5-2 per cent. We introduced a system for traders to pay the tax quarterly and rest easy on other days. The GST council had given an option for the state government to increase the tax exemption limit to Rs 20 lakh per annum, but the Congress government here maintained it at Rs 10 lakh. If the BJP comes to power, we will hike it to Rs 20 lakh to offer relief to traders here.

Together, we are truly Extraordinary!

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Someone has beautifully said, “Extraordinary belongs to those who create it.” These words aptly summarise our belief in creating a world that is filled with extraordinary possibilities.Our new brand ideology, ‘Extraordinary Together,’ reflects our vision to provide unified brand experience and delight to consumers across the world by creating extraordinary entertainment and experiences that inspire to transcend the ordinary.It is not an evolution of our identity, but it’s a revolution. It is rooted in the philosophy and belief that from collaboration comes the strength to deliver the extraordinary. Being a global media and entertainment conglomerate, while our interests span across diverse verticals and businesses, we believe that our ability to win resides in us being able to effectively come together. The fresh look of ZEE represents our mission of unifying the world with entertainment. The circle symbolises continuity and inclusiveness, while the colour Amethyst represents creativity and transformation. This colourful explosion of creative energy signifies ZEE’s exuberance.It’s a huge leap forward for us, reflecting the true essence of ZEE as a media and entertainment powerhouse and the extraordinary steps taken by each of its internal and external stakeholders. It’s not just about the number of years we have completed, but about the number of hearts we have touched along the way, during this journey. It’s not just about the number of countries we have reached, but about the journey that we have undertaken to make this happen. It is just simply about being together, to achieve something extraordinary. With a team of over 3,400 brilliant people working for ZEE across the globe — who are truly committed to entertain the world — we have risen as a global content company. Our global presence and reach amongst viewers says a lot about our strength. We also acknowledge the presence and support of our peers in the industry, who share our dream of entertaining the world.While we have achieved immense success over the last 25 years, our efforts in creating world class content will continue forever, as we embrace this new ideology and philosophy in creating something truly ‘Extraordinary Together’.—The author is MD & CEO, ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd

City roads to get four electric buses soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BEST has inducted four electric buses in its fleet that would soon start plying on city roads. This has taken the total number of zero-emission eco-friendly buses to 29 which includes 25 hybrid buses that are meant for Bandra-Kurla Complex. However, the big challenge is in getting clearances from RTOs, which is delaying the process.The BEST has received the first batch of these buses that run on lithium-ion batteries at a cost of Rs 1.65 crore each. The total budget for these buses is Rs 10 crore.”We are trying to get these electric buses on road as soon as possible. These buses will now go to the RTOs for necessary inspections and clearances,” said Surendra Bagde, General Manager, BEST Undertaking.These buses are parked at the Backbay depot and will be soon taken to Tardeo RTO for testing.

50% BEST ticket vending machines are non-functional

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The electronic ticket issuing machines (ETIMs) of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) are in an abysmal condition. Almost 50 per cent of their 9,500 ETIMs is under repairs.The BEST was supposed to take full charge of its maintenance and operations from November 1 from Trimex IT Infrastructure. But with the state government planning a single card for all modes of transport, the BEST has failed to improve the existing lot of ETIMs, as they are waiting for the upgraded ones.”The condition is so bad that of the 27 depots, at least nine depots are facing problems with their ETIMs. Every morning conductors stand in long queues to get a working ETIM as almost 50 per cent of them are non-functioning,” said Suhas Samant, BEST Committee member.The faulty ETIMs at the Santacruz, Gorai, Oshiwara, Goregaon, Worli, Shivaji Nagar, Ghatkopar and Mulund depots are of no use as many of them are beyond their shelf life of five years.”The administration should have accepted the proposal of getting 3,000 new ETIMs rather than refusing only because they need an upgraded one,” said Anil Kokil, Chairman, BEST Committee. Currently, the per ticket cost issued through ETIM costs 11 paisa per ticket, while in the new system the same would be 16 paisa per ticket, excluding paper cost.A few months back, the BEST was supposed to get 3,000 new ETIMs — similar to the existing lot minus the upgrade of accepting the proposed single card or debit/credit card – but the BEST Undertaking refused toaccept it.Now the administration has called for open tenders for these upgraded version of ETIMs at a total cost of Rs 108 crore.The committee members claim that due to this the absentiseem among the conductors has increased thus affecting the turnout of buses. Surendra Bagde, General Manager, BEST said, “These existing ETIMs are unsuitable for the proposed single card and so we require new hardware and system”. The batteries of these ETIMs are also very poor and need frequent charging. Many ETIMs shut down in the middle of the journey which also troubles passengers.BUDGET APPROVALOn November 2, the BEST Committee approved the Rs 590 crore deficit budget of 2017-18. The BEST wants the BMC to convert the Rs 25 crore given as advance to the Undertaking’s employees for Diwali bonus into grant.

Parties’ clash puts Rlys in a spot over hawker ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ever since the hawkers’ issue took a political turn, the Railways are hesitant to stop vendors and traders carrying huge sacks and luggage during peak hours. These include flower and vegetable vendors who added to the crowd at the Elphinstone Road station stampede on September 29, which claimed the lives of 23 people.The multi-disciplinary audit teams on both Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR) had suggested disallowing these vendors from carrying their wares, gunny bags, and luggage into the rail premises especially during peak hours. However, the rail authorities have not been able to take a stand on the implementation of the ban.At stations like Elphinstone Road, Dadar, Byculla, and Andheri, vendors carry huge sacks while commuting, which causes a lot of inconvenience to the commuters on the foot-overbridges (FOBs).Sources in the Railways said that they cannot have a blanket ban on the vendors and that this would also mean preventing dabbawalas from travelling in trains during peak hours. The dabbawalas cater to lakhs of Mumbaikars daily, and they travel in the goods compartment but alighting from the FOBs is a tough task as thousands of commuters rush up and down the bridges.”We will need views from people, rail passengers and their associations on whether these vendors should be stopped from using the rail premises during peak hours,” said AK Gupta, General Manager, Western Railway.Hawkers are being driven away by political goons, and in retaliation, the political supporters are getting trashed by hawkers.In the past few days, the MNS party members have been driving away hawkers and destroying their businesses, while the Congress has come in support of the same hawkers and vendors.FUTURE PLANThe authorities have proposed to reduce the weight of luggage carried by commuters from 50kg to 15kg inside First Class compartment of suburban trains
They have also proposed to reduce the weight from 35kg to 10kg in second class compartment

Rahul Gandhi: Is this Gujarat model, Modiji?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ankleshwar in the south of Gujarat is not known as the Congress bastion. For almost 30 years, Congress has not ventured to hold a big rally here. But on Wednesday, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi not only addressed a decent rally here, but also launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s highly praised Gujarat Model.”What is Gujarat development model? For Tata’s Nano, Modiji took land from the farmers forcefully and handed it over to the Tatas to set up a car factory. Besides, he also offered loans of Rs 33000 crores. What happened? Neither do we see Nano cars on roads nor has this company given jobs to locals. Instead of giving Rs 33000 crore in loan to private companies, the BJP led government would have waived off farmers’ loan,” he said. He also pointed that even though the government acquired land from farmers, they were not given adequate nor were they given jobs.He then went after the much-touted Vibrant Gujarat summits held every year. “What is the end result of these summits? Are the people of Gujarat getting jobs? They only sign MoUs with companies, but hardly any companies set their shop here and provide employment,” Rahul said.”Modiji’s arbitrary policies have ruined our economy and brought down the GDP growth by 2 percent. Is this the Gujarat Model?” he asked. He also pointed out how Modi had promised two crore jobs every year and had managed only one lakh jobs so far. “As many as 30 lakh youths in Gujarat are jobless. Hundreds of thousands of youngsters are getting out of educational institutes every year and they want jobs but where are they? In Gujarat, both education and healthcare sectors are dominated by private players and one gets nothing if you don’t have money. This is Gujarata Model As many as 15000 public schools have closed down. Youths like Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakore are frustrated. So also farmers, farm labourers. They want change. They want their own government,” Rahul told the cheering crowd. Rahul then went on to compare Indian economy with China where 50000 jobs were being created every day against one lakh over three years in India.”Gujarat traders and small scale industries are the backbone of Gujarat and India’s economy but the Prime Minister one fine day announced demonetization and subsequently, the GST. These two steps damaged the economical backbone. Many people lost their jobs, small businesses suffered huge losses. Is this Gujarat model?” he asked. His question resonated with many in the Ankleshwar rally where several small firms had to shut shop following demonetization and GST.

MHADA gets nod to build two new projects in Dharavi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Dharavi’s sector V, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) recently got approvals from the Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) to construct two more buildings that can house 687 slum dwellers. The MHADA is currently constructing two buildings comprising 672 homes, which brings the figure to 1,359 total tenements that MHADA will be able to construct and rehabilitate in the coming year. The MHADA has already constructed around 358 homes in Dharavi’s sector V, of which 331 homes have been allotted. All these homes in this 22-storey building are 350 square foot in size. A week ago, MHADA got approvals from the DRP for constructing other buildings too. “These buildings will also be 22-storey high, and the FSI available is of four, but because of the area being in the funnel zone, we cannot go beyond a specific height and hence buildings are as high as 22-storey,” said S Kunnur, deputy executive engineer of MHADA’s Mumbai Board, which is developing sector V of Dharavi. Sector V has an area of around 153 acre and there are more than 9,700 shanties here. The MHADA is expecting that after the rehabilitation of all the slum dwellers, the housing body will be able to construct 8,000 homes that could be sold in open market. Dharavi is divided in five sectors, the remaining four sectors are further sub-divided in 12 sectors. The government has claimed that by next month they will be floating global tenders for the redevelopment of these sectors, as the previous tenders got no response. According to a senior MHADA official, “We have carried out a survey and found 9,700 slum dwellers eligible to be rehoused. There are some slum dwellers who aren’t eligible, these slum dwellers go in appeal and then the whole process gets stuck,” said the official.

Airlines welcome changes, want better airport facilities

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most airlines have responded positively to the recent non-privatisation model airport, in lieu of the changes made in the last six months to the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (SVPI). However, though they are happy with a single operator — Airports Authority of India — they want assurance of a futuristic at approach, considering the pace at which traffic is increasing. The partial privatisation made both passengers and airlines hopeful; but, the bidding has been delayed for more than a year now.To attract more prospective bidders, the national airports operator, AAI, also made some major changes to the terms and conditions for privatising and modernising SVPI. The AAI had invited a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the bidders for the operation and maintenance of select areas of the Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports, late last year. The select areas include passenger terminal building, passenger boarding bridges, and apron area among others, as per the bid document.The proposal mentions that the O&M will remain with private players and the infrastructure will be handled by the AAI. Speaking on it, Shalin Joshipura, Chairman, Airlines Operators Committee, Ahmedabad, said, “Ahmedabad has witnessed tremendous growth and to match that, operational area growth took place, but nothing happened on the terminal front. I am equally interested in seeing how we focus on terminal development. We are seeing positive changes at the terminal under the current leadership, but we need to be more futuristic. If we get an assurance of a futuristic approach and synchronisation of infrastructure with the pace at which traffic is growing, we wil be satisfied with the AAI.”While the bidding process is due to get over by October end, there has been no clarity on the extension. Sources say that AAI doesn’t intend to extend it further.Speaking about recent changes at the airport, Manoj Gangal, Airport Director, said, “We have undertaken a lot of changes that includes more entry points for the terminal, numbering airline counters, queue managers, self check-in counters, etc. The latest was the installation of a Flight Information Display System, which will be visible from far. We have installed two video walls, one in the arrival bay and one in the departure. These will give flight-related information in three languages. We are also rebuilding the washrooms. At the international terminal, two new aerobridges are being added.WHAT’S NEWTwo video walls, one in the arrival bay and one in the departure have been installed. These will give flight-related information in three languages. The washrooms are also being rebuilt.

Western Railway, traffic police to identify illegal entry, exit points at stns

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the next fifteen days, the Railways, traffic police and different civic bodies will identify entry/exit points at stations on the Western Railway (WR) that are not used frequently. These will also include the illegal entry/exit points that have been created by unscrupulous elements and slum dwellers staying along the tracks.According to Railway officials, at a meeting held on Tuesday between the various agencies, it was decided to identify various points used by commuters to illegally enter or exit the rail premises. These locations, also the reason behind trespassing on the tracks, have lead to fatal accidents. A total of 17.5 km of boundary wall too will be erected along the WR stretch at the cost of Rs 4.5 crore.“Our rail officers from Mumbai division along with other departments will survey these entry/exit points that are either used infrequently or have been illegally created,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, WR.The aim is to minimise its use by unscrupulous elements such as drug addicts and hawkers. Moreover, it will also mean proper vigilance at selective sections where people use the rail premises. Once these points are identified, then the local municipal corporations will plug them by fencing or erecting a wall for a controlled crowd management.Also, the work of demarcating station premises is almost complete. Here, the railways have either erected blue poles for signage that demarcate the boundary of railways. Sources said that these are steps carried out for transport and crowd management and will soon have barricades put up outside stations beyond which taxis and auto rickshaws won’t be allowed.Also, CCTVs will be installed at the FOB landings to keep a tab on the crowd.

Dept orders 659 co-operative societies in city to close down

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cooperative societies indulged in embezzlement, scams and corruption will be closed. Following complaints against them from CMO to PMO, the cooperative department has issued orders to close down 659co operative societies in Jaipur alone.Apart from complaints of irregularities, cooperative societies linked to housing, credit, ex-servicemen welfare, contract labour and housing industry have not conducted audit for years, raising suspicion of siphoning off people’s hard earned money.Following directions from the CMO, cooperative minister, Ajay Singh Kilak ordered officials to identify cooperative societies not adhering to rules and indulging in corrupt practice for further action.Now, within Jaipur, 13 housing cooperative societies, 38 credit cooperative societies, 23 milk producers’ cooperative societies, 57 ex-servicemen welfare societies and 348 other cooperative societies will be closed.The cooperative department has appointed liquidators and ordered to cancel their registration in two months. Police will also take action against those with improper accounts.Registrar of the cooperative department has clearly mentioned in his order that any person having transactions (credit or debit) with these societies must apply to the liquidator within two months. However, transaction with former office bearers of these societies would not be valid.All movable and immovable assets of these societies would be disposed off under supervision of the liquidator.Sources said that the societies will be closed by December but legal process regarding more than Rs 10,000 crore worth of business transaction by these societies would continue.The government may also take over public assets of these societies and constitute local committees to give them operation rights.

Defected Maharashtra Navnirman Sena rebels may make re-entry into party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after six of the seven Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporators in the BMC made a shock defection to the rival Shiv Sena, reports of four of these corporators launching negotiations for a re-entry into their parent political outfit shook up the city’s politics.While MNS leaders claimed talks with these party prodigals were underway, the Shiv Sena issued a press release signed by all six corporators claiming that their loyalties lay with the Sena.MNS leaders said the developments may have been prompted by their complaints to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) alleging that these defections were prompted by financial inducements. Sena sources claimed that the BJP, which is trying to wrest power from them in the BMC may be playing the role of the catalyst to reduce the Shiv Sena’s bench strength in the BMC.The defection of the six MNS corporators had increased the Shiv Sena’s strength to 94, thus solidifying its claim on power. Shiv Sena MLC Anil Parab claimed that the claims by the MNS were false. “We the six undersigned corporators are with the Shiv Sena and will stay so. No one should believe rumours. Someone is trying to defame us,” said a statement by former MNS group leader Dilip Lande and signed by corporators Ashwini Matekar, Parmeshwar Kadam, Datta Narwankar, Dr Archana Bhalerao and Harshala More. When contacted by DNA, some of these corporators denied being in touch with the MNS.“At around 2- 2:30 PM, MNS leaders Nitin Sardesai, Sandeep Deshpande and Sandeep Dalvi met Kadam, Narwankar, and Harshala More’s husband Ashish at a coffee shop on Cadell Road in Mahim. One of these three spoke to Raj saheb (MNS chief Raj Thackeray) on the phone. However, the Sena leadership got wind of these plans and launched damage control,” said an MNS leader.POWER EQUATIONThe six MNS corporators had crossed over to the Shiv Sena on October 13, a day after the Sena was defeated by the BJP in the by-polls to ward 116 at Bhandup increasing BJP’s strength to 82 versus Sena’s 85.

Western Railway audit: Reduce luggage weight of commuters, instal escalators

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The best way to prevent people from standing on stairways of foot over bridges (FOBs) is to replace them with escalators. Not just this, the Western Railway (WR) in its audit report has suggested reducing the weight of bags and luggage carried inside local trains. Both these factors were among the reasons behind the Elphinstone Road stampede, when the smooth movement of people on the staircase of a foot over bridge was hindered by luggage and sacks carried by commuters.The audit report of WR has suggested that the size and weight of bags carried by commuters in local trains should be reduced drastically. Sources said that at present a commuter travelling first-class can carry up to 50 kg and a second-class passenger can carry 35 kg. “We have proposed to bring it down to 15 kg for first-class and 10 kg for second-class,” said a WR official.Just before Diwali, the Central Railway gave a proposal to the Railway Board in Delhi seeking permission to construct 214 escalators in Mumbai. At present, there are 22 escalators on CR and 32 escalators on WR. This is apart from the ongoing work on 52 escalators on CR. “We are also working at erecting these 52 escalators by June 2018,” said SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.The recent audit of stations done by the different teams had also asked the CR authorities to build 67 new escalators. These too have been included in the 214 escalators that have been sent to Delhi. The cost of each escalator is Rs 60 lakh that has annual maintenance contract of 3 years.The WR on the other hand is constructing 18 escalators and has asked for 80 more escalators across all the stations. Apart from this the CR will also construct 12 new FOBs.NEW MEASURESCCTVs planned to cover escalators. 12 new FOBs are being built at a cost of Rs 180 crore.
Special CCTVs will be placed that will capture the crowded locations and send a beeper to the RPF control room

Generational change underway in Congress; would love to work for Madhya Pradesh: Jyotiraditya Scindia

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What lessons did the Congress learn from its 2014 debacle?I don’t want to look at the past but invest in the future. There are many lessons to be learnt but the party, people and country has moved on in the last three years. Congress has been raising issues of tolerance and secularism, we are concerned about the economy, foreign policy and these issues are finding resonance in the public domain. It is important for us to continue to raise these issues and become an alternative to the BJP. It’s hard work and we are ready for it.There are a number of debates which have dominated the political landscape. How has Congress responded to the Secularism vs Nationalism debate?There cannot be secularism vs nationalism. It is nationalism and secularism and Congress stands for both. We want a safe environment for people of all caste and creed. These are the two pillars which Congress has always stood for. The optics have been changed to this vs that scenario. It is the divisive agenda of BJP. Every class needs to progress across the spectrum. Composite dialogue is the key word and it empowered India across all faiths. The schemes once ridiculed by Mr Modi today are being touted as the biggest successes of India.Are you saying that the charge of equating secular with sectional politics is a false construct? A political charge?It is not a political attack on Congress. It is a political attack on the nation’s fabric. Have you ever heard of ghar wapsi, gau rakshak, love jihad or prosecuting people for what is not even beef? I have seen hundreds of cows at night being run over by trucks and no gau rakshak was to be seen.Many would argue that nationalism is being relocated from a constitutional axis to a civilizational axisWe breathe nationalism and we don’t need a gurukul to teach us nationalism. We don’t need to be taught nationalism. It has always been India first for us.Are you saying that nationalism has turned into a political tool?Absolutely. When have you such words. The members of the ruling dispensation today are eulogizing Nathuram Godse and calling him rashtra bhakta. This should be of tremendous concern to the youth.Where does the Congress stand today? Is it Left of Centre or Centre?Congress has been very clear as to where it stands. Congress stands for all round development. India has to be an ocean of prosperity rather than becoming pockets of prosperity. If you look at the 10-year track record of UPA, we gave welfare schemes like NREGA but also provided a great growth rate. This transformed India into a 2 trillion economy. We created macro growth and also lifted poor out of the vicious circle of poverty. That’s what Congress stands for.Does Congress stand for reforms?Absolutely. It is not one or the other, it is both. We are a reformist party. We have to focus on the downtrodden. There cannot be a ‘vs’ here. We directed economic growth to sectors like health, agriculture and infrastructure.Are you saying that subsidy architecture and growth can be complementary?You have to bring the downtrodden into the mainstream of Indian society. That is the only way India can progress. More and more people need to become part of the middle class.On one end Congress closely coordinates its work with the Left and even supports them, and on the other Rahul Gandhi is visiting temples which showcases his identity. How do you reconcile the two?Our country is built of people with diverse thoughts. Today a leader needs to listen to what everyone is saying. It exposes and brings to forth true leadership. You and he may agree to disagree but he will still listen to you. It is not my way or the highway which is currently the ideology of Narendra Modi.Why has it taken Congress so much time to affect a generational change?I think, in many ways generational change is in process. I came into politics when I was 31 years old. It is my fourth term. The party made me a minister when UPA was in power. Now I’m the Chief Whip. We should also give back to the party, it cannot be a one-way street. We need able leaders in the party.BJP changed its leadership in the first 2 years and Congress took more than 7 years?Senior leaders of BJP are in the margdarshak mandal and sidelined. I don’t agree with the construct of old and new. Old might have great ideas and young might be bereft of any. Age cannot be a factor in politics. Ability to change matters.Is Rahul Gandhi’s elevation imminent?Rahul Gandhi will be elevated in the next couple of days.What role will Sonia Gandhi play then?Sonia Gandhi will continue to be the head of UPA and our guiding light. We will look for her direction and guidance.What is one particular area you feel that the Modi government has failed?According to me, the Modi administration has failed across the board. Foreign policy has not worked, look at the ‘sari shawl diplomacy’. Look at the number of Army camps which have been attacked by the terrorists. The rhetoric needs to be changed. Cross border strikes took place even during UPA’s time. But see what Indira Gandhi achieved. We have dealt severe blows to Pakistan in the past.Then there is an atmosphere of intolerance in context of caste and religion. BJP has taken an anti-national stand on many issues. Unemployment is very high and jobs have not been created. Across all fundamental areas, there is a huge chasm between the talk and the walk. Madhya Pradesh has seen 124 suicides.Last time when Congress hit the campaign trail on the farmers issue in MP, Rahul went abroad and you fronted the campaign..He has been active all the way throughout. He is the one who raised the issue of farmers land and because of his intervention the land acquisition bill got stalled.Demonetization did not affect assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. Do you think issues related to GST will work against BJP in states like MP and Gujarat?It is not one issue. Pain has been afflicted across the board. All these issues are in play together. GST is our baby. The difference between success and failure lies in execution. Only one percent is ideation. That has caused the pain. That is why the revenue secretary said that GST system needs to be revamped. Both were held as virtues last year and now it is causing great pain. Sales are down across the sector.Are you open to the idea of leading the campaign in Madhya Pradesh? But you have a career here?I want to clarify that for the last 15 years I have been working in Madhya Pradesh. In any given month, I have spent 15 days in Madhya Pradesh. MP has gone through a backward movement. It pains me. I’m a loyal worker of the Congress. Whatever the party will decide, I will try do it to the best of my ability.Where does your heart lies? Given a chance would you like to go back?I would love to work for the people of Madhya Pradesh.Why has Congress failed so many times in MP?I don’t want to dwell in the past. There have been multiple reasons for it, but today Congress is in a strong position. We need to work together in Madhya Pradesh. We have great talent and leaders. We have strong elected grassroot workers. This team needs to come together. If we come together then I see no reason why we cannot win in MP.You said that you would love to go back and work in MP, but people say that leaders in MP don’t get together and that is probably the reason why Congress has been losing elections. Did you feel it in the last campaign?I think that in last 13 years, much more could have been done by me and others but now that scenario has changed. All of us have been working together and you will see the results.It is said that Jyotiraditya Scindia​ has the traction, Digvijaya Singh has the organisation and Kamal Nath has got the money muscle?I think that in life it is very important to draw on everyone’s strength. Kamal Nath ji has great experience. Digvijaya Singh has been two term CM. These are the strengths which we need work on.Do regional alliances work for the Congress?You cannot make a general broad statement. Indian politics has changed so much. It has changed in every aspect. It has to be seen on a state to state basis. In a majority of states we have a direct fight. Some states have triangular fights. But Congress in the state elections must get its act together and throw up new leadership.The social media landscape has changed. Do new trends show a renewed Congress?Only way you can gauge traction is the way you get a response from the political opponent. The government positioned all its spokespersons against Rahul Gandhi and it explains how well we are doing on social media and otherwise.The Bofors case has been reopened? Your comments?Let the BJP and government try whatever trick they have in their dirty tricks department. We are extremely clear that there was no wrongdoing and we stand by it. This is political vendetta.

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