Rescue and relief work in the disaster-hit areas of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand gathered pace on Monday as a multi-agency operation continued with its effort to save people trapped inside a tunnel of the Tapovan-Vishnugad project which was blocked by the deluge resulting from a glacial burst on Sunday morning.
So far, bodies of 24 people have been recovered from different places following the avalanche, reported Uttarakhand Police. The ITBP, which is engaged in the rescue operations, also cited updated inputs received from the local administration and said that 202 people are still missing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday discussed the situation in Uttarakhand following the disaster with Members of Parliament from the state. According to sources, PM Modi told the Uttarakhand MPs that the government and all its institutions stand with the state in this period of calamity and asserted that all help will be extended to minimise the loss of life and aid in relief work.
Around 425 personnel of the ITBP, 70 personnel of the SDRF, 129 personnel of the NDRF and 124 from the Armed forces, aided by sniffer dogs, are carrying out what is being called the biggest rescue operation in the mountain state since the 2013 Kedarnath disaster. DGP Ashok Kumar said that the rescue workers were using bulldozers, JCB and other machines in their operation. “The Vishnugad tunnel is very difficult to enter as there is a curve inside. But we are confident that our brave forces will try their best to rescue the trapped people,” said Kumar.
However, confusion still persists on how many people have been rescued so far. A statement of the state disaster control centre claims that 27 people have been rescued so far. However, top police officials maintained that only 12 have been rescued. All the people who were rescued on Sunday evening were rushed to the ITBP hospital in Joshimath.
Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat has stated that nearly 176 people had been working in the two hydel projects when disaster struck.
In the meeting with PM Modi and the Uttarakhand MPs, relief efforts and the future course of action were discussed. The meeting was also attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda.
“Going forward, scientific studies will be conducted to understand the cycle of natural calamities in this natural disaster-prone state and best practices to be adopted to minimise loss of life and property due to these calamities,” PM Modi reportedly said in the meeting.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Union Power Minister R.K. Singh visited the site where NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad project is being built to take stock of the situation. He was accompanied by top state government officials including State Power Secretary Radhika Jha. “We will not scrap the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project,” Singh told reporters.
The disaster took place after a glacier broke in the Tapovan-Reni area in Chamoli on Sunday, causing the water level in the Dhauliganga river to surge and the Alaknanda river to flood. An avalanche near the Rishi Ganga power project also followed, causing the destruction of the Rishi Ganga hydro project and damage of several nearby houses.
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Punjab Cabinet approves several recommendations of the 6th Punjab Finance Commission
Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], March 4 (ANI): The Punjab Cabinet led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday approved several key recommendations of the sixth Punjab Finance Commission, including compensation against revenue losses on certain counts.
The Commission had submitted 7 recommendations for 2021-22 to Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore on January 29, 2021, read the press note by the state government.
While six have been approved by the Cabinet today, one relating to the continuation of devolution of 4 pc own share of state taxes to Local Bodies for the year 2021-22 will be examined by a Group of Ministers (GoM), an official spokesperson said after the Cabinet meeting. The GoM shall comprise the state’s Finance Minister, Local Government Minister, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister and Water Supply and Sanitation Minister.
Key recommendations accepted by the Cabinet include continuation of compensatory payments in case of loss of revenue from the abolition of octroi on power and liquor to local bodies for the year 2021-22; continuation of 16 per cent share of excise duty on IMFL and 10 per cent share on auction money from liquor vends to be devolved to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
The sixth State Finance Commission was constituted by Punjab Government under section 3(1) of the Punjab Finance Commission for Panchayats and Municipalities Act, 1994 vide notification on July 3, 2018, under the chairmanship of former Chief Secretary KR Lakhanpal.
It included VC Punjabi University Patiala Dr BS Ghuman as expert member besides financial commissioner rural development and panchayats and Principal Secretary Local Government as Ex-Officio Members. Former Principal Secretary Science Technology and Environment Dr Roshan Sunkaria was appointed Member Secretary. (ANI)
Ramesh Pokhriyal to inaugurate 29th edition of New Delhi World Book Fair on March 5
New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): The 29th edition of the annual New Delhi World Book Fair, organized by the National Book Trust (NBT), India will be held virtually from March 6 to 12.
The event will be inaugurated by Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, the Union Education Minister, at a virtual ceremony on March 5. in the presence of Professor Govind Prasad Sharma, NBT Chairman and Yuvraj Malik, NBT Director, according to an official statement.
The e-press conference for the book fair is scheduled to be held at the NBT Headquarters on March 4, 2021.
While addressing a conference, Professor Govind Prasad Sharma announced that it is the first virtual edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair which is being organised as such due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in the place but assured that will be a memorable experience for the visitors.
This year, the theme of the book fair is ‘National Education Policy (NEP) 2020’. The policy is a vision document that aims to universalise the Indian Education system from pre-primary levels to higher education. The policy endeavours to enhance the quality of education equally for all and move in the direction of strengthening India as a global superpower, read the statement.
During the fair, discussions on education and pedagogy, conversation with the authors,
scholars, book release functions, cultural programs, etc will be organised.
Over 15 plus countries including the UK, US, UAE, China, France, Iran, Nepal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Italy are participating in the Foreign Publishers Hall at the Fair.
The book fair will also provide a platform for B2B activities for publishers from India and abroad. A publisher’s forum organized by NBT and FICCI, CEOSpeak will focus on challenges and opportunities for publishers in the light of the NEP 2020.
Over 160 publishers and exhibitors from India and abroad will participate in the fair through e-stalls, acquainting the visitors with books in all major Indian and foreign languages. The visitors will be able to visit the websites of the exhibitor/publisher directly from the e-stalls to view more products. (ANI)
EC likely to appoint 500 observes for West Bengal assembly polls
By Joymala Bagchi
Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 4 (ANI): The Election Commission of India (ECI) is likely to appoint around 500 observers in West Bengal for strict monitoring of the forthcoming Assembly polls.
“Discussions are underway for the appointment of around 500 observers in poll-bound West Bengal, details are yet to come,” an ECI official told ANI.
According to ECI official, Ajay V Nayek, a 1984 batch retired IAS officer is appointed as the special general observer. Vivek Dubey, a 1981 batch officer from Andhra Pradesh cadre and Mrinal Kanti Das, a retired 1977 batch IPS officer of Manipur-Tripura cadre have been appointed as special police observers. B Murli Kumar, a 1983 batch retired IRS officer has been appointed as special expenditure observer.
These special observers will come to West Bengal on Friday to review and take stock of the situation. They will hold a series of meetings with police officers and expenditure observers deployed in the fields.
“The vehicles of all sector officers in West Bengal will be laced with GPS-based applications. These vehicles can be tracked by observers and the office of District Electoral Officer (DEO) and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) for immediate intervention in case any law and order problem arises,” an official from West Bengal CEO told ANI.
According to ECI, around 7,32,94,980 voters electors will cast their vote in 1,01,916 polling booths in West Bengal. In the 2016 Assembly polls, the booth numbers were 77,413.
West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.
Notably, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes into force immediately after the announcement of the election dates. The commission has made adequate arrangements to ensure effective implementation of MCC guideline. (ANI)
Land mafia including govt officers booked for illegally planting trees in Uttarakhand
Vikasnagar (Dehradun) [India], March 4 (ANI): A case was registered against secretaries of Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA), Doon Valley Special Area Development Authority (SADA), along with the district forest officer, horticulture officer and the land mafia in Vikasnagar police station for illegally cutting trees and converting the land into residential plots.
The case was registered under the Uttar Pradesh Tree Protection Act and several Sections of IPC, according to a press note.
It was alleged that several trees were cut by the land mafia on 400 bigha land without the authorisation of the government and plots of land were sold to various people.
According to the press note, no action was taken against the land mafia by the Secretary of the Doon Valley SADA, Divisional Forest Officer of the Forest Department, Kalsi and District Horticulture Officer of the Horticulture Department and the subordinate officer of the above department, nor did they perform their duties as public servants.
A PIL was filed by Anuj Kansal in Nainital High Court, after which the court issued an order to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the case. (ANI)
NHRC summons Delhi Urban Development Secretary over non-submission of reports in death case of safai karamchari in 2018
New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued summon against the Delhi Urban Development Secretary for non-submission of proof of payment and requisite reports over a death of a safai karamchari during sewer cleaning in 2018.
The NHRC, having not received requisite reports and the proof of payment of Rs. 10 Lakh in the case of death in sewer cleaning, has asked the Secretary of the Department of Urban Development under the Delhi government to appear before it on March 5 with the requisite reports.
According to a statement issued by NHRC, the Commission had registered a case on the basis of a complaint dated September 18, 2018, by Safai Karamchari Aandolan, an NGO for the incident that had happened in Vaishali Extension in the national capital on September 14, 2018.
“According to the complaint, the safai karamchari had died due to inhaling poisonous gas while cleaning a sewer and no appropriate action was taken by the police in the matter,” the statement read.
The Commission, issuing the conditional summons, has observed that there has already been an inordinate delay in the matter as no response has been received from the Delhi government on the pointers raised by it.
“Hence, it is constrained to invoke Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993,” the statement said.
It has further emphasized that non-submission of the report may attract an offence under sections 175/176 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and initiation of criminal proceedings under sections 175/ 176 IPC, as well as under Rule 10 & 12 of Order XVI of Civil Procedure Code for willful omission to produce documents and information.
In case, the report is received in the Commission a week prior to the scheduled date, the personal appearance of the officer shall stand dispensed with.
In response to the notice of the Commission, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Dwarka, vide report dated December 31, 2019, had informed that in the matter an FIR No. 500/18, dated September 15, 2018, under section 304/304A IPC, r/w 7/9 of Prohibition of Manual Scavengers and Rehabilitation Act, 2013, had been registered against the accused, who has hired the victim, for cleaning the sewer line outside his property.
It was also informed that the accused was arrested on October 1, 2018. The compensation of Rs.10 Lakh had been paid to the mother of the deceased by the SDM of Dwarka, as per Supreme Court guidelines.
However, the Commission observed that the report was silent on the proof of payment of compensation of Rs.10 Lakh to the mother of the deceased victim. A notice was issued to SDM, Dwarka, to submit the proof of payment.
The Commission had also directed the Delhi government to inform regarding the steps taken by the State Government to prevent such deaths, including the availability of safety gears before entering in sewer lines. However, no response was received.
Therefore, a final reminder was issued to the Principal Secretary of Department of Urban Development, through online mode on December 29 last year, to submit the requisite detailed reports, failing which the Commission shall be constrained to issue a coercive process under Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. (ANI)
424 MoUs signed during Maritime India Summit 2021, says Mansukh Mandaviya
By Amit Kumar
New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): A total of 424 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed during the second edition of the virtual Maritime India Summit-2021 that concluded on Thursday, said Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Mansukh Mandaviya.
The three-day maritime conference was inaugurated on March 2 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The summit received good support and a total of 424 MoUs were signed in three days. The investment of more than Rs 3 lakh crores has been committed by top maritime companies of the world and it is a matter of great pleasure for us,” Mandaviya told ANI.
The Minister said the “Maritime Vision 2030” and its “road map” have released, and added, “seeing this, the shipping line infrastructure development companies are going to investing in India in coming days.”
India also commemorated the ‘Chabahar Day’ today with ministerial presence from six nations at the Maritime India Summit organised by India’s shipping ministry.
Mandaviya said Chabahar Port has emerged as the “connecting point” between India and Eurasia to deliver humanitarian assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Chabahar Port project will be developed as a transit hub for cross connectivity between the two countries.
“Maritime India Summit-2021 will empower and strengthen Maritime India Vision-2030 which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the inauguration of the summit. Due to Maritime India Summit-2021, the expectations and the aspirations of the world towards India have increased. We have to keep marching towards achieving our goal,” the Union Minister added. (ANI)
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