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Domestic flight ticket prices to go up as govt raises cap by up to 30%

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To give more pricing flexibility to the airlines, the Centre has expanded the airfare cap, sources said on Thursday. Accordingly, the lower fare band has been increased by 10 per cent, while the upper cap has been raised by 30 per cent. This means that passengers will have to spend more money for air travel from now.

These new limits would remain “in force up to March 31, 2021, or until further orders”, the ministry said in its order on Thursday.

While announcing the resumption of scheduled domestic flights on May 21 last year, the ministry had placed limits on airfares through seven bands classified on the basis of flight duration.

The first such band consists of flights that are of less than 40 minutes duration. The lower limit for the first band was increased on Thursday from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,200. The upper limit in this band was set at Rs 7,800, which was Rs 6,000 earlier.

The subsequent bands are for flights with durations of 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes.

The fresh lower and upper limits set by the ministry for these bands on Thursday were: Rs 2,800 – Rs 9,800, Rs 3,300 – Rs 11,700, Rs 3,900 – Rs 13,000, Rs 5,000 – Rs 16,900, Rs 6,100 – Rs 20,400 and Rs 7,200 – Rs 24,200, respectively.

Interestingly, the move comes after consistent rise in domestic passenger numbers.

Recently, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in Parliament said the fixed minimum and maximum air fare structure for the domestic sector will be removed once passenger traffic reaches per-Covid levels.

Under the fare structure, air routes are divided into seven sections based on travel time. Each section has its minimum and maximum fares.

Accordingly, Delhi-Mumbai ticket price has been fixed at Rs 3,500-Rs 10,000. Currently, the airlines can operate up to 80 per cent of their pre-Covid capacity.

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Both Houses of Parliament adjourned after Opposition ruckus over fuel prices

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned till 12 noon following an uproar by the Opposition over the rising fuel prices in the country.
Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 12 noon as Opposition Members of Parliament raised slogans, demanding a discussion on fuel price rise.
Lok Sabha was also adjourned till 12 pm amid uproar in the House by Opposition over the same issue.
While commencing the Rajya Sabha session, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh said: “During the remaining part of the Budget session, members will be seated in Rajya Sabha chambers and its gallery only, with some physical distancing. 142 seats have been made available in Rajya Sabha chamber and remaining members to sit in the gallery.”
The decision to revise the timing of both Houses was announced on Monday. Both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were operating under curtailed hours of timing and social distancing norms amid COVID-19 induced norms.
Earlier, the Rajya Sabha was scheduled to function from 9 am to 2 pm while Lok Sabha was scheduled to function between 4 pm to 10 pm.
The second part of the Budget session of Parliament commenced from Monday with all COVID-19 precautionary measures in place. (ANI)

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Opposition parties give adjournment motion notices in Lok Sabha over fuel price rise

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Several MPs of the opposition parties, including the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Indian Union Muslim League (IUM), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Shiv Sena have given an adjournment motion notice in Lok Sabha over the continuous rise of fuel prices.
Congress MP Manish Tewari gave an adjournment of business motion in Lok Sabha to discuss rising prices of petrol, diesel, and LPG.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP Satish Chandra Mishra also gave a suspension of business notice in the Rajya Sabha over the fuel price hike. Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi did the same earlier in the day.
In the notice, the Chaturvedi requested to discuss the “issue of constantly skyrocketing fuel prices as the same are touching all-time high levels. One of the core reasons behind the current price rise is largely on account of the steep increase in the central taxes on petrol and diesel.”
As of Monday, the price of petrol in Delhi stands at Rs 91.17 per litre while that of diesel stands at Rs 81. 47, according to the Indian Oil Corporation.
Both Houses of the Parliament will commence their sitting from 11 am on Tuesday and will function as per usual timings existing before the COVID-19 situation. (ANI)

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Six held for thrashing man to death in Delhi’s Rajouri Garden

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Six people have been arrested in connection with the killing of a 32-year-old man which took place on Monday night in the Rajouri Garden area of the national capital, the police have informed.
According to the police, there was a quarrel between the deceased’s neighbours as they all were creating ruckus and nuisance by using unparliamentarily language and when the deceased and his mother objected to this, they started beating them.
“Rupesh, his brother Mukesh, his father Rajbahadur and uncle Rajbir came to pacify them but in meanwhile the accused namely Puneet, Deepa and Ravinder called their friends and all of them assaulted him (Rupesh) and his other family members with lathis with an intention to kill them,” the police said.
The police further said that the deceased was declared brought dead by the GGS hospital. The other family members also sustained injuries.
A case has been registered under Sections 302/307/341/323/147/149/34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the Rajouri Garden Police Station and an investigation is underway.
The six people who have been arrested are Ravinder, Tarun, Anita, Priyanka, Deepa and Gaurav.
“Efforts are being made to apprehend the remaining accused persons,” the police added. (ANI)

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Air India Employees Consortium disqualified from AI divestment process

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By Ashoke Raj
New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Air India Employees Consortium, which participated in the Air India divestment bid, was disqualified from the divestment process by the Transaction Advisor to the Government of India (Ernst & Young LLP) on Monday.
AI Employees Consortium submitted an ‘expression of interest’, last year, to participate in strategic divestment of the national carrier Air India. The Government of India has informed the AI Employees Consortium by an email on Monday that their submission for the Air India disinvestment acquisition process is not fulfilling the eligibility.
Transaction Advisor to the Government of India said that the three reasons for the disqualification of the ‘Expression of Interest’ of the employees are non-submission of required three years audited financial statements for foreign consortium member, non-submission of information or details by interested bidders for investments in offshore companies, which forms a substantial part of the net worth of the foreign consortium member and the foreign consortium member not being an appropriately regulated foreign investment fund as defined in the Preliminary Information Memorandum.
Meenakshi Malik Air India commercial Director informed AI employees in a letter, “As of late last night, I have seen an email from the Transaction Advisor to the Government of India (Ernst & Young LLP), informing the Employees of Air India that we have been unsuccessful in qualifying to the next phase of the ‘Disinvestment Acquisition process’. ”
Further, Meenakshi Malik stated in an emotional letter to AI employees, “Dear all, While I write to you with a heavy heart on the outcome of our bid to acquire Air India, I cannot help but be filled with a great sense of pride and admiration for the sincerest efforts we have made over the last few months, together.”
“As of late last night, I have seen an email from the Transaction Advisor to the Government of India (Ernst & Young LLP), informing the employees of Air India that we have been unsuccessful in qualifying to the next phase of the ‘Disinvestment Acquisition process’,” further read the letter.
Divestment of Air India still under process and the Aviation ministry informed the media recently that, “divestment process is going very smoothly”. (ANI)

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Tamil Nadu polls: Kamal Haasan’s MNM finalises seat-sharing deal, to contest 154 seats

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s party Makkal Needhi Maiam (MKM) has finalised the seat-sharing arrangement with its alliance partners for the upcoming Tamil Nadu polls and they will be contesting on 154 out of 234 assembly seats.
On the remaining 80 seats, its two alliance partners — All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi (AISMK) led by R. Sarathkumar and T.R. Paarivendhar’s Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi (IJK) — will contest on 40 seats each.
However, Hassan has not released the seat-sharing arrangement officially.
The MNM had secured around four per cent votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, with its share going as high as 10 per cent in the urban areas. Dr R Mahendran, MNM vice-president and its candidate from Coimbatore, had secured 1.45 lakh votes or 11.6 per cent of the total vote share the constituency.
The assembly elections in Tamil Nadu will be held in a single phase on April 6 and the counting of votes will be done on May 2.
Polls will be held for 234 seats in the state with the Congress-DMK and BJP-AIADMK alliance being the major groups contesting against each other. (ANI)

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Delhi Police successfully tackles challenges posed by COVID-19

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the Delhi Police successfully tackled several unprecedented issues, including the migrant labourers’ crisis, Independence Day celebrations and enforcing social distancing norms.
During the nation-wide lockdown announced in March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the mass movement of migrant labourers across the country, especially in the national capital, was a major challenge.
The Delhi Police tackled the shortage problem of food, water, shelter and clothes with tact and officers frequently visited shelters to distribute essential items. Police vehicles were given Public Announcement systems to spread awareness among the labourers about COVID-19.
Independence Day was also celebrated amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Security was provided by the Delhi Police while maintaining the balance between the sanctity and dignity of the national function. Detailed planning and meticulous implementation enabled the police force to execute arrangements without untoward incidents.
According to Satish Golchha, Special Commissioner of Police, South Zone, Delhi Police, a slew of additional measures were taken, including handy masks for distribution, display boards and hand sanitiser dispensers.
“For security checks, personnel did not frisk the guests but extended a handheld metal detector in order to avoid close contact. Adequate face masks were kept handy for distribution at various points of the venue and hand sanitisers were made available at pre-defined locations,” Golachha said.
Medical booths were also set up to cater to visitors who might have indicated COVID-19 symptoms and ambulance were stationed at four locations.
In order to ensure social distancing in public, the police force initiated several campaigns and shifted fruit and vegetable mandis to more manageable locations. Strict access control and staggering timings were ensured to effectively monitor movement.
Personnel of the Delhi Police themselves, too, were equipped with adequate safety gear, PPE kits, face shields, and masks. Eight-hour shifts were ensured, and pamphlets containing COVID-19 SOPs were distributed. (ANI)

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