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PM Modi to visit Bengal today to survey cyclone devastation

Tapas Sengupta and Sabyasachi Roy Chowdhury

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to West Bengal and Odisha on Friday to take stock of the situation in the wake of super cyclone Amphan and conduct aerial surveys. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday had urged the PM to visit the state. She said a Rs 1,000-crore fund has been created for restoration work in areas affected by Amphan, which has claimed 72 lives in the state.

Replying to Mamata Banerjee’s plea, PM Narendra Modi said that “no stone will be left unturned” to help those affected. “In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal. Praying for the well-being of the people of the state. Efforts are on to ensure normalcy,” the PM tweeted. The Prime Minister’s Office tweeted, “Tomorrow, PM Narendra Modi will travel to West Bengal and Odisha to take stock of the situation in the wake of Cyclone Amphan.

He will conduct aerial surveys and take part in review meetings, where aspects of relief and rehabilitation will be discussed.” With winds clocking 160 to 180 kmph speed, the cyclone caused great havoc, flooding many areas of Kolkata. The devastation is yet to be assessed but Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed the people died due to falling trees and lightning caused by Amphan. She said the situation is not good at all and she will conduct an aerial survey soon. A compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh to the families of the deceased has been announced. “I have never witnessed such a fierce cyclone and destruction in my life.

I have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the state and see for himself. People who are in relief camps should remain there. The super cyclone continued for 8 hours and now we are left without electricity, water and internet. Even the Secretariat was shaking with fear yesterday and the window panes were shattered in my office. I was unable to go inside my room and thought that the building would collapse,” the CM said.

She stated that today not only income is zero for the state but such severe challenges are also at hand. “Migrant workers have to be brought back and arrangements for quarantine are to be made. There is a lot at hand and even more to spend. Everything has been destroyed and today, north Bengal will be affected. Our current priority is to provide relief and shelter to the affected people,” said Banerjee.

“The situation has become very serious. I have told the Home Minister that I have never seen a similar disaster before and we require help. We have not received money for Covid either. People are already scared of the virus and now this. Several states have increased 5 or 10% on taxes but we have not. Income is zero and all investment is already done – Rs 200 crore fund has been deployed for disaster management and Rs 150 crore has been distributed to the public. There has been more investment in Covid but we have not received any money from the Centre,” she added.

According to her, 15 people have died in Kolkata, 7 in Howrah, 17 in North 24 Parganas, 6 in East Midnapore, 18 in South 24 Parganas, 6 in Nadia and 2 in Hooghly. She also claimed that damages in the state due to the cyclone could total Rs 1 lakh crore. “Sarbanash hoye galo (everything is destroyed)… Communications are disrupted,” she had said yesterday and remained in her office to monitor conditions. She added that even though 5 lakh people were evacuated, the authorities had not anticipated this level of catastrophe. The strongest storm on record in the Bay of Bengal since 1999-Amphan blew roofs, smacked power lines, uprooted trees, upturned cars and caused landfall on Wednesday.

The impact of the storm is visible at the Kolkata Airport which is filled with water. The strong winds and heavy rainfall damaged the runways and hangars. In one part of the airport, most of the infrastructure is submerged and greatly damaged. Power-cut, telephonic and internet connections are also an issue in the state. Amphan’s deadly trail can be seen in the districts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Midnapore and Kolkata. Sources said it was not even possible to stand upright in Digha when the storm hit. Relief operations are being carried out in the affected areas but it is becoming difficult to manage it, given the coronavirus outbreak.

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Bank licences to corporates a ‘bad idea’: Rajan

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New Delhi: Days after an Internal Working Group (IWG) of Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) recommended allowing large Indian corporates to enter the banking sector, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Deputy Governor Viral Acharya have hit back at the suggestion and questioned the timing for it. Terming the recommendation as a “bombshell”, in a blogpost, they said that although several recommendations of the report are worth adopting the one to allow corporate houses into banking should not be taken up. “To the contrary, it is even more important today to stick to the tried and tested limits on corporate involvement in banking,” said the article.

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Foreign Secretary to visit Nepal on 26 November

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Kathmandu: Resuming the high-level visit and exchanges with Nepal, India is sending its top diplomat to Kathmandu on 26 November. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will pay an official visit to the Himalayan country on November 26-27, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Monday. The announcement was made in New Delhi too. The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two neighbours and the priority India attaches to its relations with Nepal, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in its statement. Shringla’s visit comes after two back-to-back high-level visits from new Delhi by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane (November) and Research and Analysis Wing head Samant Goel (October).

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Market opens higher, Sensex hits fresh high

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Mumbai: The key Indian equity indices opened in the green on Monday with the BSE Sensex touching a new record high within just minutes into the trade. Healthy buying was witnessed in metal, energy and oil and gas stocks. Sensex touched an all-time high of 44,271.15 points. The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 12,930.85, higher by 71.80 points or 0.56 per cent from its previous close.

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Covid-19: Vibrant Gujarat summit may be postponed

Abhijit Bhatt

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The biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, organised by the Gujarat government to attract investors, is unlikely to be held this year, due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in Gujarat. The summit, considered the foremost among all industrial summits of Gujarat, may be postponed till January 2021.

A senior Gujarat government official told The Daily Guardian that Vibrant Gujarat would be held in the first or second week of January. However, given the pandemic situation at the moment, it is difficult to say whether the summit will take place in just a month and half’s time for sure. However, an official decision is yet to be taken. No announcements have been made about cancelling the January event.

Narendra Modi started the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in 2003 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat to attract foreign investors to the state.

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Military storage bunkers spotted in Chinese village near Doklam

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NEW DELHI: China’s new villages close to the Line of Actual Control, meant ostensibly for settling civilians from far-flung areas close to the border, are part of strategy to enhance its military infrastructure in the area, top sources said.

One such village has also come up near Doklam where military storage facilities have been observed, as per intelligence reports. Construction of the new hardened bunkers appears to be an effort at militarily reinforcing the larger Doklam region, the source said.

There are dozens of similar settlements along the LAC, most of them coming up in areas facing Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Part of their integrated model villages that the Chinese intend to put to dual use – for civil and military purposes, some villages however remain uninhabited and are only turning out to increase military infrastructure to cater to additional deployment of the People’s Liberation Army.

Shelters have also come up at Bumdro which is opposite Kameng. Six to seven concrete huts have been constructed at Bumdro near Domsongrong to accommodate PLA personnel during their patrolling activity in Mera La, Thag La and Yangtse Area.

China has also constructed a road from Tirkangto Shivung La. The work was being undertaken from uphill side of Tirkang village in the south west direction towards Shiyung La.

IANS

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Farmers’ union refuses to budge, Punjab CM expresses concern

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CM Captain Amarinder Singh.

Expressing serious concern over the decision of one farmers’ union not to allow passenger trains to ply till the Centre accedes to their demands on the issue of farm laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said this would put the people to major inconvenience and could have grave consequences for the state.

Reacting to the announcement of Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) that they would not budge on their rail blockade of passenger trains till the farm laws’ issue is resolved, the Chief Minister said that, by striking this discordant note, the union was acting against the interests of Punjab and its people.

When all the other 31 farmers’ organisations had decided unanimously to withdraw from the tracks to allow both goods and passenger trains to move in the state for the next 15 days, this one union’s decision was not understandable, said Captain Amarinder, adding that this would alienate Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) from the people.

He cautioned the Committee against taking such a harsh stand, which could lead to them losing the support of the masses, who had so far wholeheartedly backed the farmers’ agitation against the farm laws. “When the state government and every person in Punjab has been extending their full support to the farmers, why is this Union taking a stance against their own state?” he asked.

Given that both the Centre and the other farmers’ unions had taken conciliatory steps to resolve the crisis triggered by the agricultural laws, the Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) should not do anything to derail the process of negotiation and discussion, he added. It was in the interest of all, including the farmers themselves, to find a solution to the problems unleashed by the central laws, on which every section of Punjab’s populace, as well as his government, was standing shoulder to shoulder with the farming community, said the Chief Minister.

The message that was emanating from the stand of the Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) was that the union was not really interested in breaking the stalemate on the farm laws issue, Captain Amarinder said. In any case, said the Chief Minister, blocking a one-odd track would serve no purpose even for the Committee, which, incidentally, had chosen to stay away from the meeting convened by him on Saturday to urge the farm unions to lift their blockade.

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