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Kerala cancels deep-sea fishing agreement between KSINC, EMCC International

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Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], February 22 (ANI): The Kerala government on Monday cancelled a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the state-owned Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) with the US-based EMCC International for deep-sea fishing.
The contract was cancelled after it turned into a big controversy in the state when the leader of the opposition raised the issue in a press conference.
The action was taken as per the direction of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and a probe has been ordered on it, which will be carried out by Home Secretary.
After the issue turned into a controversy, both Kerala Chief Minister and Fisheries Minister had said that no move will be taken by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in violation of the Fisheries policy.
The Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty had passed the blame on KSINC officials who according to her kept the government in the dark.
Meanwhile, the opposition alleged that Chief minister Vijayan and Mercykutty had known about the contract and had also engaged in discussion with the officials of the US firm, which was denied by the government. (ANI)

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Kerala polls: LDF releases its election campaign slogan

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Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], February 28 (ANI): The Left Democratic Front (LDF) officially released the assembly election campaign slogan “Yes for sure it’s LDF” at a function at AKG Centre in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
CPI (M) Kerala State secretary A Vijayaraghan handed over the tagline for the campaign to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a function at the party headquarters.
Vijayaraghavan said the slogan “Yes for sure it’s LDF” conveys an assurance that the LDF would come back to power.
Prior to its official release, hoardings with the tagline were put up across the State in the last 12 hours.
The posters that were released at the function have pictures of development activities and welfare schemes implemented by the Kerala government.
CPI (M) leaders including Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, KN Balagopal also attended the function.
The election for 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6. The counting of votes will be held on May 2. (ANI)

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Rahul Gandhi was on vacation when fisheries ministry was formed by NDA: Amit Shah

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Puducherry [India], February 28 (ANI): After repeated gaffe by Rahul Gandhi on no dedicated ministry to deal with the issues of fishermen, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Congress leader was on vacation when the NDA formed the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying in 2019.

“Some days ago, Rahul Gandhi had asked why there is no fisheries department. I want to know from people whether they want a leader who doesn’t know that Department of Fisheries has been in existence for 2 years (since 2019),” Shah said at a public rally ahead of assembly elections in the Union Territory Puducherry’s Karaikal district.

Questioning the capability of the Congress party to govern the Puducherry, he said, “Can the Congress party do the welfare of Puducherry?

Earlier, Rahul Gandhi had demanded the setting up of a separate ministry for fisheries at a meeting in Puducherry. The Wayanad MP’s comments came at an interaction with the fishing community in Kollam’s Thangassery on February 24.

“Just like our farmers farm the land, you farm the sea. Farmers have a Ministry in Delhi, you don’t. No one speaks for you in Delhi. The first thing I would do is to have a ministry dedicated to the fishermen of India so that your issues can be defended and protected,” said the Congress leader.
He made a similar gaffe in Puducherry earlier this month. In Puducherry, Gandhi had demanded the setting up of a separate ministry for fisheries.

However, the Congress leader’s comments came in for immediate rebuttal by Union Minister Giriraj Singh, who had also taken a swipe at Gandhi’s ignorance and attempt to “spread misinformation”.

Singh had said, “Rahul Gandhi is unaware that a separate ministry for fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying was formed by the Prime Minister in 2019, adding that Gandhi can’t come out of Italy.”(ANI)

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Kerala NCP to finalise candidates after seat sharing with LDF: Saseendran

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Kochi (Kerala) [India], February 28 (ANI): Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will initiate the candidate selection for Kerala polls after seat-sharing with Left Democratic Front (LDF) is finalised, said State Transport Minister and NCP leader AK Saseendran on Sunday.
Speaking to the media in Kochi during NCP’s state executive meeting, Saseendran said the key factor while choosing the candidate will be their chances of victory in the upcoming polls.
“The seats which the NCP is contesting will be decided after discussion in the LDF. After that, we will meet and decide on the candidates. It needs the approval of the central leadership. The key factor of a candidate is the chances of victory. Giving seats to newcomers will also be discussed,’ he said.
When asked if he will be contesting in the upcoming, the NCP leader said, “It is up to the party to decide whether I will contest or not. Whatever the party decides, I will be happy.”
The election for 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6.
The tenure of the 14th Kerala legislative assembly will come to an end on June 1, 2021. A total of 2,67,88,268 electors will elect the candidates in Kerala for the 15th legislative assembly.
For Assembly poll 2021, the number of polling booths in Kerala has been extended from 21,498 to 40,771. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.
According to the commission, of the 140 Assembly seats, 14 seats are reserved for SC category and two are reserved for ST category candidates. (ANI)

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3 killed after car falls into ditch in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu

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Kullu (Himachal Pradesh) [India], February 28 (ANI): Three people were killed after their car fell into a ditch near Marogi in Kullu district on Sunday morning.
The bodies were taken out by the police officials and sent for post-mortem in a hospital in Mandi.
The accident occurred around 6 am today when the three persons were moving towards Kullu from IIT Kamand. They were riding a Tata Tiago vehicle, which fell 800 meters in the ditch.
The deceased were identified as Delhi residents – Harveen Sandu, 34 years, Ramesh Chander, 49 years and Yogesh.
“After receiving information, a police team also reached the spot, informed their relatives and have registered a case,” informed Lokander Negi, DSP, Mandi.
Further investigation is underway. (ANI)

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Contempt plea moved in Delhi HC against IHBAS for not filling pending vacancies

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By Sushil Batra
New Delhi [India], February 28 (ANI): A contempt petition has been moved in Delhi High Court for initiating the contempt of proceedings against the Officers of Central/Delhi Government and Director of Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) for allegedly not willfully complying the court’s directions to tackle the shortage of doctors at IHBAS.
The plea has been filed by lawyer and social activist Amit Sahni alleging that the order passed by Delhi High Court on September 2, 2020 asking to fill pending vacancies at IHBAS, is not being adhered by the concerned authorities. The contempt petition will be heard by Justice Najmi Waziri on Monday.
Plea states, IHBAS, the premier mental health and neurosciences institute of the country has been suffering from an acute shortage of doctors as it is functioning with 24 doctors against the sanctioned strength of 103.
It also states that the petitioner had made a representation in August last year for filling the pending vacancies of faculty and other medical staff at IHBAS, but no action was taken.
It added that the petitioner had earlier too approached the court and division bench of Delhi High Court.
“The division bench had on September 2, 2020, directed the concerned respondent authorities to treat this writ petition as a representation and to look into the grievances ventilated by the petitioner in this petition in accordance with law, rules regulations and government policies applicable to the facts of the case. Court had also said that, we expect that the concerned respondent authorities shall fill up the vacancies as early as possible and practicable,” the plea said.
The petition states that even the Faculty Association of IHBAS (FAI) also took note of the situation on January 29, 2021, in its minutes of the meeting. They brought the grievance regarding the shortage of doctors at 23 per cent which is leading to over-burdening the existing faculty members.
FAI also noted that even pursuant to the directions of Delhi High Court to fill vacancies as early as possible, nothing has happened till date, the plea said.
It added that the shortage of faculty and staff is a matter of serious concern and despite the directions of this Court, the grievance raised by the petitioner has not been addressed even after five months.
The National Medical Commission considering the assessment report dated August 31, 2020 declined to recommend the recognition of the DM (Neurology) Course of the Institute due to deficiencies of Professor, Associate Professor and Assistant Professor, plea said. (ANI)

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6 states continue to report surge in fresh COVID-19 cases

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New Delhi [India], February 28 (ANI): As many as six states including Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat – have shown a surge in new cases in the last 24 hours, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Sunday.
According to the Ministry, 86.37 per cent of the new cases are from these six states. As many as 16,752 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours.
Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 8,623. It is followed by Kerala with 3,792 while Punjab reported 593 new cases.
Tamil Nadu continues to report 486 cases, Karnataka reported 523, while Gujarat reported 451 new cases.
The Centre has been engaging with the states and UTs exhibiting a higher caseload of active cases and those reporting a spike in the daily new COVID-19 cases.
The Cabinet Secretary reiterated that states need to maintain a continued rigorous vigil in terms of containing the spread and not squander away the gains of the collective hard work of the last year.
“They were advised not to lower their guard, enforce COVID appropriate behaviour and deal firmly with violations. It was strongly underlined that they need to follow effective surveillance strategies in respect of potential super spreading events,” the Ministry said.
The Centre has also deputed high-level multi-disciplinary teams to Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir to ascertain reasons for the surge and coordinate with the State Health Departments in COVID-19 control and containment measures.
84.96 per cent of the new deaths in the six states- Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. India reported 113 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Moreover, a total of 1.07 cr people has recovered so far. 11,718 patients have recovered and got discharged in the last 24 hours, while 84.19 per cent of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in six states.
According to the Health Ministry, India is all set to start the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination on March 1, 2021, for those who are over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
To ramp up the COVID-19 vaccination capacity, around 10,000 private hospitals under Ayushman Bharat PMJAY and more than 600 private hospitals under the Central Government Health Scheme will be utilised.
Other private hospitals empanelled under State Govts Health Insurance Scheme can also participate as COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs). (ANI)

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