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Passport services integrated with DigiLocker platform

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New Delhi [India], February 20 (ANI): Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Friday launched a new scheme by which an applicant can leverage the DigiLocker platform of the Government of India while applying for passport-related services from anywhere in India.
“With the launch of this new scheme, applicants applying for passport services can provide link to their specific documents uploaded in the DigiLocker. This would enable citizens to submit various documents required for Passport Services through DigiLocker in a paperless mode. They are not required to carry the original documents,” read a release by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
DigiLocker is a key initiative under Digital India, a flagship program aimed at transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. DigiLocker provides citizens a sharable private space on a public cloud enabling availability of all documents/certificates provided on this cloud.
“Targeted at paperless governance, DigiLocker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents/ certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents. Further, once passports are also uploaded in DigiLocker, details would be easily accessible to authorized users from any location, which would be useful especially in case of loss of passport,” read the release.
The MEA said there was much improvement in passport-related services in the last 6 years.
“The Ministry plans to roll out ePassport for citizens, which will increase security and improve facilitation of immigration processes at foreign airports. In the upcoming Passport Seva Programme V2.0, the use of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Chat-Bot, Analytics, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), etc. will help ease the citizen experience and expeditious service delivery,” the ministry said. (ANI)

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Death toll in Kolkata railway building fire rises to 9; Union Minister Piyush Goyal orders high level inquiry

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New Delhi [india], March 9 (ANI): The toll in the fire that broke out at the Eastern Railway office building in Kolkata’s Strand Road on Monday night mounted to nine with two more bodies recovered from the building. Those who were killed included firefighting personnel and one policeman.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal expressed his condolences at the tragedy and said a high-level inquiry team comprising of four Principal heads of Railway departments has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Taking to Twitter he said, “Sincere condolences to the families of the 9 brave deceased including the 4 firefighters, 2 Railways personnel and an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) who have been fighting the fire at the Eastern Railways Strand road office in Kolkata.”
He further added, “Railway officials including the General Manager are at the site and are working in coordination with the State government for rescue and relief efforts. We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all concerned,” Piyush Goyal added.
The Minister said that “all possible assistance has been provided by the Railways to the State government during this unfortunate fire accident. A high-level inquiry consisting of four Principal heads of Railway departments has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the site and announced Rs 10 lakh compensation for the next of kin of the deceased.
“It’s very sad. An ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each will be given to the kin of the deceased and a government job will be given to one family member,” Banerjee said.
West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Minister Sujit Bose had earlier said: “Among the seven who died in today’s fire are four firefighters, an assistant police sub-inspector, and two Railway Protection Force officials.”
The chief minister also alleged that no official from the Railways had been on the scene.
“The property belongs to the Railways but unfortunately I found no senior officer from the railway here, and we were not even provided a map of the old multi-storey office building.”
Banerjee also said: “I don’t want to do politics over the tragedy but no one from railways has come here.”
Manoj Joshi, General Manager, Eastern Railway said: “Officers of Railways were present there, efforts were being made for whatever was required. Maybe any map wasn’t made available immediately, staff members of railways were present to guide about the building.”
Joshi said that due to the fire, one important installation of the Passenger Reservation System has been affected and service was suspended.
“Efforts are being made through CRIS to recover it via disaster recovery system that has backup data. We’re hoping it’ll be done by morning,” the official said.
“We will cooperate with the State in any probe they will conduct,” Joshi added.
The fire broke out at the top floor of the 13-storied building here on Monday evening, according to a fire official.
Fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the blaze at the building. (ANI)

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Five arrested for attempted lynching in Odisha

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Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], March 9 (ANI): Five persons have been arrested in connection with a case of attempting lynching of two persons here on Monday, police said.
According to a statement, police arrested the accused after scanning CCTV footage of the incident. A case has been registered against them under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Five persons, including the prime accused Prashant Das, have been arrested on charges of vandalising a police van and thrashing two people accused in a murder case, Bhubaneswar DCP Umashankar Das said in a statement.
The incident took place on March 6 when the five arrested allegedly dragged out two persons, who were arrested for killing a person, from a police van and brutally thrashed the duo using plastic pipes at the CRP square in Bhubaneswar.
The Bhubaneswar DCP had earlier said that police would suo moto register an FIR and take stern action against those involved in brutally thrashing the two murder accused.
On March 6, the two persons who were thrashed had allegedly hacked a youth to death with sharp weapons at the busy CRP square. Twin City Police Commissioner Sudhansu Sarangi later clarified that the murder was an act of counter-attack for self-defence. (ANI)

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J-K Lt Governor launches super-75 scholarship scheme for meritorious girls

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Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], March 9 (ANI): On International Women’s Day, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha announced the launch of Super-75 scholarship scheme to support the education of meritorious girls from poor families, so that they can excel in streams like medicine, engineering, ITI (Industrial training institutes) and humanity and contribute to nation-building.
This is keeping in view of this year’s theme of International Women’s Day i.e “Choose to Challenge” and to celebrate Azaadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav- India@75.
Strengthening Women Entrepreneurs Ecosystem in J&K, the Lt Governor also announced a new scheme – Tejaswini under Mission Youth, to provide financial assistance of Rs 5 lakhs to the girls between the age group of 18 to 35 years to start their business.
Mission Youth will provide 10 per cent of the project cost and will also pay the interest every year, said the Lt Governor.
A new era of change and development is ushering in J&K, a change that will provide women with their rightful place, a voice, an identity, and individuality. We are making tireless efforts to ensure women’s safety, modern education, and economic independence, the Lt Governor maintained.
Acknowledging women’s role in the economic development of J&K, the Lt Governor stressed on the need to put more focus on some key areas like creating a positive environment; skill development of women entrepreneurs; facilitating financial assistance; providing a global market to women entrepreneurs and connecting them with innovative products. We have to work together to break the barriers for the economic development of women, he added.
The Lt Governor observed that J&K has a long history of women glory to bring social change and breaking new grounds as far as gender equality and professional development is concerned.
To lay a strong foundation for the girls, no fee will be charged up to 12th standard from 5,89,000 girl students who took admission in different government-run schools, said the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor observed that 88 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya and 88 Girls Hostels have been made functional in far-flung areas and this would help in filling the gender gap and controlling the girl child dropout rate. To assist the higher education of girls, the Government is also providing 13 different scholarship schemes, he added. (ANI)

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Karnataka announces 6-month child care leave for government women employees

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Bengaluru (Karnataka), [India], March 9 (ANI): On the occasion of international women’s day, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has announced a proposal to provide six-month child care leave to women employees of the government.
Presenting the 2021-22 budget in the Legislative Assembly, Yediyurappa, who also holds finance portfolio, announced construction of Yathri Nivasa in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh for devotees from Karnataka visiting the temple town, allocating Rs 10 crore for it in the Budget adding that Uttar Pradesh government will provide 5-acre land.
Karnataka government also allocated Rs 1,500 crore in its Budget for “upliftment of minorities.” (ANI)

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Amid speculations of change in leadership in Uttarakhand, CM Rawat meets JP Nadda

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Amid speculations about a leadership change in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat late on Monday met with Bharatiya Janata Party president JP Nadda at the latter’s residence here.
However, Uttarakhand BJP MLA Munna Singh Chauhan said that a wrong impression is being given about unhappiness over Rawat as Chief Minister.
“Trivendra Singh Rawat continues to be the Chief Minister as we speak,” Chauhan said adding that the Chief Minister will return to Dehradun on Tuesday.
He also refuted reports about a BJP legislature party meeting to be held on Tuesday at Chief Minister Residence in Dehradun. “No official meeting of legislature party meet has been called,” Chauhan said.
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda and BL Santhosh attended a meeting to discuss the current situation in the state in the Parliament building.
The BJP general secretary in-charge of Uttarakhand, Dushyant Kumar Gautam and Raman Singh sent to Dehradun on Saturday to access the situation in the state have submitted their report to the BJP’s high command on Monday, according to sources.
Last week, BJP Uttarakhand held an emergency core group meeting which was attended by observer Raman Singh, Dushyant Gautam, Trivendra Singh Rawat, Ajay Bhatt, Naresh Bansal, Mala Rajya Laxmi and others.
There are speculations about the leadership change in Uttarakhand as several ministers and around twenty MLAs have complained against the working style of Rawat.
According to sources, several MLAs and some ministers complained about the Chief Minister to the party leadership. Later, the BJP central high command sent Raman Singh as party observer for the emergency core group meeting, which was attended by Dushyant Gautam, general secretary in-charge of Uttarakhand BJP.
After the core group meeting party, Raman Singh and Dushyant Gautam submitted their report, the party high command summoned Trivendra Singh Rawat to Delhi. (ANI)

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Congress polarised Assam’s poll by aligning with AIUDF, says Himanta Biswa Sarma

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Guwahati (Assam) [India], March 9 (ANI): Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday alleged the Congress has communally polarised the atmosphere in the polls bound state by joining hands with Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
Speaking to media here, Sarma said, “By forging an alliance with communal party Congress has polarised the election. Had Congress contested separately, polls would have been fought on development issues. But by aligning with AIUDF, Congress has made this poll a conflict of civilizations.”
The convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), Sarma further said had Congress contested separately, the three-phase assembly polls would have been fought on the plank of development.
“But the opposition party has made this poll into a conflict of civilisation by aligning with the AIUDF,” said the BJP leader.
While reacting to question on the possible impact of the Congress-AIUDF alliance, Sarma said, “It will positively impact us and lead to complete polarisation because people of Assam will not vote for the AIUDF. So, by forming an alliance with a communal party, Congress has polarised the elections completely.”
The BJP’s campaign for the assembly polls in Assam will focus on ”surakshya” (security), ”sabhayata” (civilisation) and ”vikas” (development), he said adding “We talk about ‘surakshya’ all along because the composite Assamese culture is under threat.”
The state’s Finance, Health and Education Minister said, “We talk about civilisation because it is under threat. Then we have to talk about development. These will be the three pillars of our campaign.”
When asked if Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be an issue during the polls, Sarma said, “nobody is concerned about it “as it lost traction after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state and the world.
“Neither am I speaking for it nor against it. People have gone beyond that. Already Parliament has passed a law. It is a fait accompli. People have seen many things over the last one year. They are talking about something else now. The focus has shifted from CAA to Ajmal,” he said.
The term of the 14th legislative assembly of Assam ends on May 31 and polls for the 126-Assembly will be held in three phases starting from March 27.
The first phase of notification is March 2 and 47 seats in 12 districts will go to the polls.
The last date of nomination March 9 and the date of poll is March 27. In the second phase, 39 constituencies in 13 districts will go to the polls on April 1.
A total of 41 constituencies in 12 districts will go to the polls on April 6. (ANI)

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