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Punjab, Haryana lead in uranium contamination of drinking water

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Going by the latest report of Uranium occurrence in Drinking water, one may get goosebumps and may also get an answer to why their kin suffered nephritis when he/she is a teetotaller. As per World Health Organisation, Uranium concentration should be lesser than 30 ppb (parts per billion). This is surprisingly exceeding in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh along with many other states across the country. As per the report “Uranium Occurrence in Shallow aquifer in INDIA” released by the Department of Water resources, river development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, Central Ground Water Board (CGWB)of Ministry of Jal Shakti, it is shocking for the ministry and suitable measures are invited to sort this issue to the priority.

What does Uranium do to the human body?

As per Dr Raja Rameshchandran, Nephrologist of PGIMER, Chandigarh, Uranium in drinking water causes Nephritis (kidney damage). The patient became dependent on regular dialysis to lead a normal life.

As per the report, Uranium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal that occurs in low concentrations in nature. It is present in certain types of soils and rocks, especially granites. This is caused by the chemical effect of uranium, rather than a radiological, even though uranium is radioactive. CGWB has taken proactive steps for monitoring uranium contamination in shallow groundwater located all across the country during 2019-20-21. A total of 14377 groundwater samples were collected from shallow wells water sources across the country which are being monitored by CGWB.

The most affected states in terms of percentage of wells found to have uranium concentration more than 30 µg/L (ppb) prescribed by WHO, are Punjab (where 24.2% of wells have been observed to have Uranium concentration more than the limit of 30 ppb prescribed by WHO), Haryana (19.6 % wells are > 30 ppb), Telangana (10.1 % wells are > 30 ppb), Delhi (11.7% wells are > 30 ppb), Rajasthan (7.2 % wells are > 30 ppb), Andhra Pradesh (4.9 % wells are > 30 ppb) and Uttar Pradesh (4.4% wells are > 30 ppb).

Apart from the above states, other states also have been found to have Uranium concentration above the threshold level of 30 µg/L in some localised pockets, such as Karnataka(1.9%), Madhya Pradesh (1.3%), Tamilnadu (1.6%), Jharkhand( 1.5 %), Chhattisgarh (1.3%), Gujrat (0.9%), Himachal Pradesh (0.8%), Maharashtra (0.3%), Odisha (0.4%), West Bengal (0.1%), and Bihar( 1.7%).

As per the officials, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has set a radiologically based limit for uranium as 60 µg/L (ppb) of water (radiological) in drinking water. Based on that the most affected states are Punjab (where 6.0% wells > 60 ppb), Haryana (4.4 % ), Telangana (2.6 % ), Delhi (5.0 % ), Rajasthan (1.2 %), Andhra Pradesh (2.0 %), Chhattisgarh (1.1%), Tamilnadu (0.9%), Karnataka(0.7%), Madhya Pradesh (0.6%), and Uttar Pradesh (0.4%) and Jharkhand(0.25%). 6. It has been found that 151 districts in 18 States are partly affected by high (>30ppb) concentrations of Uranium in groundwater.

Officials of AERB further explained that for water contaminated by uranium, coagulation, precipitation, evaporation, extraction, and membrane separation or Reverse osmosis technologies are used to eliminate most Uranium from the water. Water containing low amounts of uranium is usually safe to drink.

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Amazon Smbhav announces launch of smart conferences

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The third edition of Amazon Smbhav, Amazon India, with the theme ‘Pragati’ discusses innovation and growth along with exploring ideas to drive India’s success towards development in terms of business. The summit has also announced the launch of Smart conferences, an initiative to transform local stores into Digital Dukaans. The initiative aims to digitalise 1 crore small businesses by 2025.

Announcing its launch, Amit Agarwal, SVP, India and Emerging Markets, Amazon said, “We are humbled by how neighbourhood stores from across India are taking advantage of our Local Shops on Amazon program to go online and grow their business, with over 1.5 lakh stores already selling on Amazon.in within two years of launch. Today, we are excited to launch Smart Commerce that will enable any store to truly become a digital dukaan, and serve customers with the best of Amazon no matter where they are in their physical store, directly through their own online storefront, or on Amazon.in. We are just getting started and remain committed to our pledge to digitize one crore small businesses by 2025.”

In the opening session, Manish Tiwary, Country Manager, India Consumer Business, said, “Over the last two years, we have invested significantly towards the pledges we announced at the inaugural Smbhav Summit in 2020. We are humbled to share that we have already digitized over 4 million small businesses and local stores, are on track to enable $5 billion in cumulative exports and have created over 1.16 million direct and indirect jobs in India including 135K new jobs added in the last year.” Many India-First innovations such as Seller Flex and Easy Ship have been implemented in global markets as well. Moreover, technology has been used to bring small businesses online. Moreover, most of the customer orders on Amazon are from tier 2 cities. Around 8 million local stores and businesses are using Amazon Pay, with 75% of the customers (tier 2 and tier 3 cities) using Amazon Pay UPI.

Similarly, Dave Clark also emphasised that Amazon has invested more than $18 billion in its selling partners’ success since 2020. Amazon has also digitized more than 4 million small businesses and enabled exports worth nearly $5 billion. To support the idea of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the minister of state in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, also focused on using technology to create opportunities for youth. As post-COVID reshaped the value chain of products and services, the growth of small businesses and villages would make India Atmanirbhar.

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POLICE BUST INTER STATE DRUG CARTEL IN DELHI, HEROIN WORTH RS 20 CR RECOVERED

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A team of Special Cell/Northern Range, on Wednesday, successfully busted an interstate drug cartel after arresting one of its key members from Delhi. The team, led by Inspr. Vivekanand Pathak and Inspr. Kuldeep Singh was under the supervision of Shri Ved Parkash, ACP, and overall guidance of DCP/Spl Cell/NR & STF, Sh. Rajiv Ranjan Singh. The arrested member has been identified as Rajesh Gupta of Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar.

Five kilograms of high-grade heroin worth more than Rs. 20 crores in the international market have been recovered from the possession of arrested 47-year-old Gupta. One mobile handset and two SIM cards used in the drug trafficking activities have also been recovered from the detainee.

Rajesh Gupta has served 12 years in the Indian army, and was court-martialed and dismissed in 2006, after being found involved in a financial scam. Later, Gupta was put in civil jail in Kohima, where he came in contact with a person namely Sushil who lured him to work with him in drug trafficking. Thereafter, Gupta started supplying heroin after procuring it from drug suppliers of Manipur.

Special Cell in its continuous crusade against drug suppliers had busted many narcotic drug cartels in the past by arresting several drug suppliers and by recovering huge consignments of high-grade heroin. Sleuths of Special Cell of Northern Range were working on information that an Interstate narcotic drug cartel is active in the states of Manipur, UP, Delhi etc.

In a statement, police said: “Members of this cartel are involved in the supply of high-grade heroin in Delhi, NCR, UP, after procuring the same from suppliers from bordering areas. This information was further developed through technical as well as human surveillance.”

It took about 3 to 4 months of painstaking efforts to successfully investigate the case. During this process, members of this cartel were identified and their activities were kept under discreet surveillance, police statement added.

Arrested Rajesh Gupta was thoroughly interrogated, and after that, the accused person disclosed that he was part of an interstate narcotics syndicate.

The police statement said: “Rajesh Gupta disclosed that he is indulged in drug trafficking activities for the last five-six years. He used to transport heroin after taking delivery from one Limanthang resident of Manipur. Further investigation is in progress.”

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JAL JEEVAN MISSION: 21 VILLAGES IN LADAKH NOW 100% TAP CONNECTED

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Since Independence, nearly 21 villages are for the first time now fully tapped water connected. Work of Jal Jeevan Mission is in full swing in Ladakh in all villages and 21 villages so far have achieved ‘Har Ghar Jal’ status by providing 100% tap connections to all the households. Four blocks namely Thiksey (82%), Saspol (77%), Thaisuru (54.5%) and Drass (56%) are the leading blocks in providing tap connections and they are expected to achieve 100% target soon. The first 20 villages and 2 blocks would be provided reward funds of Rs 5 lakh and 25 lakh respectively on achieving 100% saturation. For that, the villages need to declare themselves 100% connected in a gram sabha meeting which is pending from many villages despite 100% coverage.

Ajeet Kumar Sahu, Chairman of the Executive Committee under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).

This was briefed in a meeting held by Ajeet Kumar Sahu, Commissioner/Secretary, PHE/I&FC, who is also the Chairman of the Executive Committee under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). He was reviewing the implementation of the JJM programme in the Union Territory of Ladakh. The vision of the JJM programme is for every rural household to have a drinking water supply in an adequate quantity of prescribed quality on a regular and long-term basis leading to improvement in living standards or rural communities. So far 34.61% households of Ladakh are provided tap water connection. Besides, all the schools and Anganwadi centres of Leh have also been provided with tap water connections. Work of providing tap water connections to schools/AWCs of Kargil is also at an advanced stage and expected to achieve 100% saturation soon.

The Commissioner/Secretary issued directions to both the DCs and the PHE officers to ensure providing 100% tap connections even to all the community halls, Gram Panchayat Buildings, and health institutions. Besides, a handwashing facility and tap connection to toilets in all schools are also required to be provided. Sahu also directed the concerned officials to expedite the installation of solar water heaters in all Schools so that a warm water supply is available for handwashing. He also asked the Technical Education, and Skill Development Department to conduct National Skill Development Council approved training programme for the PHE/I&FC Department’s daily wage workers in plumbing, electrician and pump operator skills.

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POOJA SINGHAL CASE: ‘MONEY LAUNDERING DONE THROUGH VARIOUS SHELL COMPANIES’

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Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday informed the Jharkhand High Court that the investigation by the agency against suspended Jharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal and others suggests that money laundering has been done through various shell companies.

The ED said that the MGNREGA scam in Khunti district and other related corruption cases may be referred to the CBI as there is sufficient evidence. ED also informed the court that the statement of Ravi Kejriwal indicates that many shell companies were used to launder the money and the involvement of one of the respondent is suspected.

Notably, Ravi Kejriwal was once very close to Chief Minister Hemant Soren and was serving as the treasurer of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) before being expelled from the party for alleged anti-party activities.

He was grilled by ED for hours on May 15 in connection with arrested mining secretary Pooja Singhal and shell companies.

As per highly placed sources in the agency, Ravi Kejriwal disclosed the links between Hemant Soren and shell companies during the interrogation.

The Jharkhand High Court on Tuesday heard petitions against Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s mining lease, alleged shell companies of Soren and others. The court was also hearing on ED’s investigation and raids in the MGNREGA scam by Mining Secretary Pooja Singhal. Now all these matters will be heard on May 19.

A special PMLA court in Ranchi on Monday sent Singhal and her Chartered Accountant Suman Kumar to another four-day remand of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to the alleged embezzlement of MGNREGA funds and other charges.

According to ED lawyer BMP Singh, the four-day remand began on Tuesday.

“Data has been collected from digital devices and they will be confronted with it. So, they have been taken under ED remand,” Singh told reporters here.

Singhal and her CA, Kumar, were produced before Count on Monday after their previous ED remand concluded.

Singhal was the secretary of the Department of Mines and Geology and the Managing Director of Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation Limited (JSMDC), who had served as the deputy commissioner of the state’s Khunti district between 2009 and 2010.

She was arrested by the ED on May 11 and got suspended by the Jharkhand government on May 12. After her arrest, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Ranchi sent Singhal to a five-day remand of the ED.

Earlier this month, ED had conducted raids at Ranchi’s Pulse Hospital, owned by her husband Abhishek Jha.

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At least 12 dead in Gujarat’s Morbi factory accident

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In an unfortunate incident, at least 12 labourers died after a wall of a salt factory collapsed in Gujarat’s Morbi area on Wednesday. On receiving information about the wall collapse incident, the administration dispatched fire brigade vehicles, ambulances for rescue operations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed condolences over wall collapse incident.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday expressed his condolences over loss of lives, and spoke with state Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the persons who died in the tragedy.

The PMO also announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 each to those injured. “Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the tragedy in Morbi. The injured would be given Rs 50,000,” the PMOIndia tweeted.

In a tweet, the minister said that death of 12 people in a tragedy in Morbi “is very sad”. “I have spoken to the Chief Minister Bhupendra Patelji. The administration working with speed to provide relief. The injured have been rushed to the hospital and are being treated. I express my condolences to the bereaved families,” Shah said.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Wednesday, also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakhs to the kin of the 12 people who died in the mishap.

Expressing heartfelt condolences to the workers killed in the wall collapse at GIDC at Halvad in Morbi district, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel has announced Rs 4 lakh assistance from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to the heirs of each worker who lost his life in this tragedy,” tweeted the Chief Minister’s Office, translated from Gujarati. Soon after the incident came to the fore, Patel gave instructions to the Morbi District Collector and the system operators for immediate rescue and relief operations.

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CBI ARRESTS CLOSE ASSOCIATE OF CHIDAMBARAM SON IN VISA SCAM

Searches were conducted at around 10 places including Chennai, Mumbai, Koppal (Karnataka), Jharsuguda (Odisha), Mansa (Punjab), Delhi and others.

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The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested a close associate of Congress MP Karti P Chidambaram in a visa scam case.

A senior CBI official said that after detailed questioning, they have formally arrested S Bhaskar Raman. On Tuesday, the CBI has registered a case against five accused identified as Karti P Chidambaram, S Bhaskararaman, a close associate, Vikas Makharia, representing Mansa (Punjab) based private company, M/s Talwandi Sabo Power Limited, Mansa (Punjab), M/s Bell Tools Limited, Mumbai (Maharashtra) and unknown public servants and private persons.

It has been alleged that the private company based at Mansa was in the process of establishing a 1980 MW thermal power plant at Mansa (Punjab) and establishing of the plant was outsourced to a Chinese Company.

“It has been further alleged that the project was running behind its schedule. In order to avoid penal actions for the delay, the said private company of Mansa was trying to bring more and more Chinese persons/professionals for their site at District Mansa (Punjab) and needed Project VISAs over and above the ceiling imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the investigation agency said in an official release.

It has also been alleged that for the said purpose, the Representative of the said private company approached a person based in Chennai through his close associate/frontman and thereafter they devised a back-door way to defeat the purpose of the ceiling (maximum of Project VISAs permissible to the company’s plant) by granting permission to re-use 263 Project VISAs allotted to the said Chinese company’s officials.

According to the release, it has also been alleged that in pursuance of the same, the said representative of a Mansa-based private company submitted a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking approval to re-use the Project VISAs allotted to this company, which was approved within a month and permission was issued to the company.

The CBI said that a bribe of Rs 50 Lakh was allegedly demanded by a said private person based in Chennai through his close associate/frontman which was paid by the said Mansa-based private company.

“It has been further alleged that the payment of said bribe was routed from Mansa based private company to said private person of Chennai and his close associate/frontman through a Mumbai based company as payment of false invoice raised for Consultancy and out of pocket expenses for Chinese VISAs related works whereas the private company based at Mumbai was never in any kind of work relating to VISAs rather it was in an entirely different business of industrial knives,” it added,

Searches were conducted at around 10 places including Chennai, Mumbai, Koppal (Karnataka), Jharsuguda (Orissa), Mansa (Punjab), Delhi and others.

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