Odisha gears up to promote eco-tourism in state - The Daily Guardian
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Odisha gears up to promote eco-tourism in state

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Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], February 13 (ANI): The Odisha government has asked the departments of tourism, forest and environment and water resources to identify more locations of eco-retreat interventions for enhancing nature tourism activities in the state.
Reviewing the present state and future prospects of nature tourism in the State at a high-level meeting on Thursday, Chief Secretary Suresh Mahapatra directed the collectors to identify locations for setting up year-round eco-retreat sites, nature camps, day destinations, river cruise, boating, jungle safari, wildlife sighting towers in their districts.
Mohapatra said “Nature tourism is no more international tourist activity. Now more domestic tourists are visiting the nature camps in Odisha. Eco-locations, nature sites and nature camps will generate more employment opportunities for the local populace and will help to enhance their income”.
The proposals regarding scaling up eco-tourism activities at Talasari, Konark, Satpada, Chandipur, Debrigarh, Bhitarkanita, Similipal, Daringibadi, Astarang, Satkosia gorge, Tikarpada, Hirakud, Chilika and Nalabana in Odisha were discussed in the meeting.
Chief Secretary also directed to demarcate tourism zones in forest areas, list out the dams, river stretches and water bodies having good potential for boating, water boats, cruises and placement of houseboats.
It was decided that the diesel motorboats engaged in tourist sites would be converted to CNG mode.
Additional Chief Secretary Forest and Environment Dr Mona Sharma, present in the meeting were advised to start nature camps in thirty to forty new locations during the year. It was also decided to invite more private sector investment for making nature tourism activity more competitive and employment generating. (ANI)

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India reports 17,407 fresh COVID-19 infections, 89 deaths in last 24 hours

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New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): India witnessed a spike of 17,407 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.
14,031 discharges and 89 deaths were recorded during this period.
The country’s coronavirus tally has reached 1,11,39,516 including 1,08,26,075 recoveries and 1,57,435 deaths.
At present, there are 1,73,413 active coronavirus cases.
With 83,556 active coronavirus infections, Maharashtra has the highest number of cases in the country. Kerala follows with 46,288 active cases.
According to the ministry’s data till March 4, a total of 1,66,16,048 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far.
A total of 21,91,78,908 samples were tested for COVID-19 up to March 3, of these, 7,75,631 samples were tested yesterday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) informed. (ANI)

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Violence erupts after singer praised JJP MLA during event in Haryana’s Jind, 7 hospitalised

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Jind (Haryana) [India], March 4 (ANI): A violence erupted between two groups here in Siwaha village on Wednesday over a folk singer allegedly “praising” Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) MLA Amarjeet Dhanda during an event, Haryana police said.
As many as seven people have been injured in the violence and receiving treatment in a civil hospital at Jind.
“This is a case of rivalry between the two groups in the village. Four people from one group and three from the other are injured. They are receiving treatment here at a civil hospital. A panchayat was held earlier in the matter. There are allegations (over firing),” DSP Pushpa Khatri, Jind, Haryana told ANI.
She further added that a case has been registered and further investigation is underway.
Village Sarpanch Ved Pal said that the violence erupted during a function held in the village on February 27 where Dhanda had been invited to the village to join a religious ‘bhandara’.
“My family was attacked. On February 27, JJP MLA Amarjeet Dhanda was invited to a ‘bhandara’ where a singer praised him, but they (miscreants) did not like it and created a scene. My brother was also injured and he is admitted here,” he said.
Sarpanch alleged that Sunil, Devi Lal, Dharambir, Sachin and Anoop alias Kala protested during the event when the singer praised the JJP MLA on February 27. However, the matter was resolved soon on that day.
“On Wednesday, my brother Ashok along with two others were coming towards their village from neighbouring Pillu Kheda Mandi. But Sunil, Devi Lal, Dharambir, Sachin and Anoop were waiting for my brother and others on their way and later attacked them over the issue of singer praising the MLA,” he said. (ANI)

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J-K LG Manoj Sinha gets first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

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Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], March 4 (ANI): Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday administered the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Jammu.

Sinha received his first shot as the country’s vaccination campaign has been widened to include people above 60, and those who are 45 or more and suffering from certain medical conditions.
L-G urged all the eligible people to come forward and get the vaccine dose.
“I have taken the vaccine today. It was a smooth process. I urge all the eligible people to come forward and get the vaccine dose. The vaccines are safe and I congratulate all the scientists for producing the vaccine,” Sinha told ANI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on March 1 kicked off the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country by getting the vaccine shot.
India on March 1 commenced its second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities against the coronavirus.
Several prominent political leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, have already taken the vaccines.
As per the Health Ministry, a total of 1,66,16,048 vaccine doses have been given to the beneficiaries in the country against COVID-19 till today.
Meanwhile, as many as 17,407 new COVID-19 cases and 89 deaths were reported from India in the last 24 hours, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed on Thursday. (ANI)

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#SelfiewithSeatBelt campaign promotes responsible driving, importance of seatbelts

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Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], March 4 (ANI): Social media provides a platform not just for entertainment but also for raising awareness, and the Indian Federation of App-Based Transport (IFAT) has got the attention of many netizens with their #SelfiewithSeatBelt challenge.
It aims to create awareness among the people about why not only drivers but also other passengers in the vehicle should use seatbelts.
“The #SelfiewithSeatBelt challenge is to create awareness among the public to put on seat belts while on a journey. This challenge is being accepted by many people across India. It is fun, at the same time creates awareness among the public in a much quicker way,” Shaik Salauddin, National General Secretary of IFAT told ANI.
He further said that people lose their lives in most accidents, just because they do not wear their seat belts.
“In many accidents, people lose their life, not because of the impact of the accident itself but because they don’t put on the seat belts. By just putting on the seat belt, one can save their own life,” he said.
Salauddin also said that the challenge, when it was initially launched in 2016, was only limited to drivers of vehicles.
“This social media challenge was initially launched in 2016 and continued to the following years. This challenge was first only limited to drivers, but now we have also included the passengers in the vehicles,” he said.
He further informed that since the inception of the challenge, they have been able to create awareness among a large number of people.
“According to a survey by the National Safety Council, nearly 75 per cent of people in 2016 alone, killed on roads due to accidents were not wearing seat belts. People must understand that wearing a seat belt reduces the chance of major injury or death by 60%, Salauddin said.
“After this social media campaign, we were able to create awareness as the number of people wearing seat belts has increased to 89% by 2019. This is all-time highest,” he added.
He further appealed to people to follow safety measures and always drive with caution. “I appeal to the people to always put on the seatbelts during a journey and always drive with caution,” he added (ANI)

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Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy confident of YSRCP sweep in Andhra civic polls

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Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India[, March 4 (ANI): YSRCP general secretary Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy on Wednesday expressed confidence that the party will sweep the municipal elections as indicated by the wave of unanimous elections by YSRCP candidates in many municipalities.
Addressing the media here, he said, “YSRCP can win in municipal elections also in a smooth way, we are seeing unanimous victories in many of the municipalities. It is natural for YSRCP to win in any of these elections, as people are satisfied with the services of YS Jagan government.”
He further said that even after two years of rule, people are supporting our party. That itself proves the confidence of people in the Jagan government.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu had been resorting to false campaign fearing defeat in the elections, he said alleging that TDP had colluded with State Election Commissioner who cancelled the elections earlier.
“State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar was in support of TDP and had adjourned the elections at first. Now he is conducting the elections after almost one year,” he alleged.
Reddy said that despite all conspiracies of the opposition party with the support of SEC, YSRCP backed candidates have won more than 80 per cent in gram panchayat elections.
“Opposition parties had made allegations that ruling party candidates did not allow their candidates to file nominations. The SEC gave chance for such candidates to file nominations again. The High Court has quashed the SEC’s decision to allow for re-nominations. On the other hand, nobody came forward to file nominations. It is not due to fear of the ruling party. Realty is that the opposition has no candidates at all to contest in the elections,” he said.
He further alleged that TDP has not fulfilled even a single promise made in its manifesto of almost 650 promises for the 2014 general elections. Interestingly, it has made promises for municipal elections which are not in their hands even if they win.
“The TDP manifesto says it will quash the property tax in the municipalities and municipal corporations. In fact, they won’t have authority over that tax even if they win municipalities and corporations. Remaining promises are also like that one only,” Reddy added.
In these 20 months, people’s living standards have improved with the welfare schemes of the government. So they are satisfied with the YSRCP rule. That will be reflected in the elections of municipalities and corporations, he added. (ANI)

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J-K among top 5 states/UTs in forest cover increase: Manoj Sinha

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Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], March 4 (ANI): With an increase of 348 square kilometres of forest cover, Jammu and Kashmir ranks among the country’s top five states and union territories in terms of increase in forest cover, informed Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Passing out Ceremony of the Forest Guards of 32nd, 56th, and 66th Course at the Convention Centre in Jammu, the Lt Governor congratulated the forest department and said that the forests have enabled the union territory to receive a higher proportion of funds, around Rs 1,700 crores annually under the 15th Finance Commission.
“The monetary value of benefits like timber, firewood, fodder, and non-timber forest products as assessed by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics are worth around Rs 3,000 crores, more than 2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of J-K. Focus on new avenues like Ecotourism and promotion of Wood-Based Industries can substantially increase the contribution to the GDP,” he added.
“With more than half of the union territory under forest cover, the lives of people are closely linked to the forests who expect timely delivery of services such as firewood, fodder and timber. Forest Guards should prioritize the maintenance of efficiency and transparency, besides taking care of Wood-Based Industries which provides employment to the people here,” he said.
Sinha also paid homage to martyrs of the Forest Department who lost their lives in the line of duty and congratulated the 98 pass-outs, encouraged them to discharge the responsibility of conserving natural resources and biodiversity with utmost dedication.
Emphasizing on extending the union territory’s green cover, Sinha called for the development of Eco Parks and the establishment of more Bal Vans, green areas and a comprehensive plan for the conservation of ecology in and around Mansar-Surinsar.
“Forest Guards are no less than soldiers of our Defence and Police forces. The department should organize programs on September 11 – Forest Martyr’s Day, every year to mark the efforts of frontline staff and pay tribute to their valour and sacrifices,” he added.
Speaking to ANI, Sarita Chauhan, Commissioner Secretary Forest, Environment and Ecology Department said that the graduating forest guards should be given the utmost respect for their work in protecting the ecology.
“Forest guards are given very rigorous forest training. It is a highly scientific program and they play important roles as frontline protectors of forests and first responders. We want them to get the utmost respect for the climate of their role in the protection of the climate and ecology. We hope that more and more people come forward for these roles,” Chauhan said. (ANI)

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