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Assam

Sushma Swaraj holds talks with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held bilateral talks with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan under the framework of the Joint Ministerial Committee here yesterday.
 
A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said the two sides discussed a wide range of bilateral issues of shared interests and mutual concerns.
 
In particular, they reviewed the upcoming high level exchanges, commemoration of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and 25 years of India-ASEAN dialogue partnership, cooperation in political, defence and security fields, trade and investment, cooperation in tourism and culture, connectivity, and other aspects of the partnership. 
 
They also exchanged views on issues of mutual interest at regional and multilateral levels, including cooperation at UN and International organisations. 
 
Ms Swaraj also hosted a lunch in honour of the visiting dignitary and his delegation. 
 
Dr. Balakrishnan, who arrived here yesterday, is due to visit Guwahati in Assam today. He will meet Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to launch a Skill Development Centre being set up with Singapore's assistance under the Prime Minister's Skill India Initiative.
 
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World Bank to provide $ 200 million loan for Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project

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The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a $200 million loan agreement for the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project. 
 
An official press release said the project would support the Government of Assam to facilitate agri-business investments, increase agriculture productivity and market access, and enable small farm holders produce crops that are resilient to recurrent floods or droughts in the state. 
 
The agreement for the project was signed by Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; Mr. Ravi Kota, Principal Secretary, Finance, Government of Assam, on behalf of the Government of Assam; and Mr. Hisham Abdo, Operations Manager, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank. 
 
Mr Khare said that Assam is simplifying several regulatory procedures related to doing business, agricultural marketing, and fisheries amongst others. He said that the project will help the state increase agricultural productivity by strengthening the farming systems, raise private sector investments to promote agri-enterprises which will create better job opportunities for the youth in the state. 
 
The project will be implemented in over 16 Districts of Assam. Over 500,000 farming households will directly benefit from the project. At least 30 percent women are expected to participate in project activities. Specific focus will be given to women-led enterprises and their participation in the decision-making process of farmer producer organizations. 
 
Mr. Abdo said the Government of Assam aims to double farm incomes in the State and transform the agricultural sector into a stable source of growth and economic development. He said that this project will serve as the nucleus to fulfill the State’s much larger vision of an agriculture-based rural transformation. 
 
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The focus on geographic clustering of the production base for certain commodities will help agri-enterprises take advantage of existing and future market opportunities that they may not necessarily achieve alone. The cluster approach will allow for combining efforts, making use of synergies, and pooling resources to increase the competitive advantage of these products, while at the same time share the risks involved in introducing improved products or entering previously untapped markets. Successful clusters will also continuously innovate and adapt ‘best practices’ across agricultural value chains. 
 
Mr. Manivannan Pathy, Senior Agricultural Specialist and World Bank’s Team Leader for the project said that the value addition and market led production systems supported through the project are expected to play a vital role in enhancing the competitiveness of the agriculture sector. He said that this will be done by facilitating policy reforms, fostering private-public dialogue and catalyzing a wider private sector development in the agribusiness ecosystem of Assam. 
 
Another key component of the project will be to promote market-led production that can deal with the vagaries of climate change. Assam’s agriculture sector is highly vulnerable to climate variability and the state experiences recurrent floods and droughts. Currently, more than 50 percent of the paddy growing areas are prone to flooding, submergence and drought. A market-led production system will take advantage of the rapidly changing market, introduce crops that are resilient to climate change, increase production and manage risks for farmers. 
 
The $200 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 7-year grace period, and a maturity of 16.5 years, the release added.
 
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Sitharaman reviews operational preparedness in the North-East

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reviewed the operational preparedness of the armed forces in the North-East yesterday.
 
This was Ms Sitharaman’s maiden visit to the Eastern Command as Defence Minister. She was accompanied by Vice-Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen Sarath Chand and GOC-in-C Eastern Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna.
 
She was received at Tezpur Airforce Station by GOC Gajraj Corps Lt Gen AS Bedi and other senior dignitaries of the Army and the Air Force.
 
The visit, which is part of her familiarisation with all the formations of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF), came close on the heels of a visit to Northern Command recently and to Sikkim on October 7.
 
At the outset, the Defence Minister extended her good wishes to the Air Warriors on the occasion of 85th Air Force Day anniversary as she interacted with them at the strategically important Eastern airbase of Tezpur.
 
She also reviewed the operational readiness of the airbase, seeing the Sukhoi fighter aircraft and other IAF assets at first-hand.
 
Thereafter, Ms Sitharaman visited the Gajraj Corps HQ where she was briefed by Lt Gen Bedi on the overall security situation in Assam and the Kameng Sector of Arunachal Pradesh besides the operational preparedness of the corps.
 
The Minister reiterated the Government’s resolve to give further impetus to development in the border areas.
 
She subsequently visited Solmara Military Station, Tezpur where she interacted with the officers and jawans over a cup of tea.
 
She appreciated the high standards of military discipline and preparedness of the army men and their excellent performance in the difficult terrain and challenging environment in which they are operating.
 
She also praised them for their steadfast commitment and their high morale in facing the diverse challenges thrown up by the dynamic security environment.
 
The Minister exhorted the troops to continue with the same zeal and sense of pride and honour showing due respect to human rights.
 
She expressed satisfaction at the level of preparedness of the forces and extended her greetings to the troops for a happy Diwali before her departure for Delhi.
 
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Banwarilal Purohit appointed Governor of Tamil Nadu, Jagdish Mukhi moves to Assam

Banwarilal Purohit
Banwarilal Purohit
The President today appointed Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit as the new Governor of Tamil Nadu.
 
Mr. Purohit will be suceeded as Governor of Assam by Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, who is the Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
 
Brig. (Dr.) B. D. Mishra (Retd.)  has been appointed as the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh while Mr. Satya Pal Malik will be the new Governor of Bihar and Mr. Ganga Prasad the Governor of Meghalaya.
 
The President has also appointed for Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral (Retd.) Devendra Kumar Joshi as the new Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in place of Prof. Mukhi.
 
The appointments will be with effect from the dates the incumbents assume charge of their respective offices, the communique said.
 
Maharashtra Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao has been discharging the functions of the Governor of Tamil Nadu, in addition to his own duties, since August 31, 2016 after Mr. K. Rosaiah completed his tenure on August 30.
 
Admiral Joshi, 63, had resigned as Chief of the Naval Staff on February 26, 2014, taking moral responsibility for a series of accidents and incidents which took place in the preceding few months and caused great embarassment for the Navy.
 
Mr. Purohit, 77, who was appointed Governor of Assam on August 17, 2016, is a former member of the Lok Sabha, having been elected from Nagpur first as a Congress candidate in 1984 and 1989 and later as a member of the BJP in 1996.
 
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Before that, he was elected as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1978 as served as a minister in the state government in 1982-83. 
 
Prof. Mukhi, 74, used to be a BJP leader in Delhi. He had served as Minister for Finance, Planning, Excise and Taxation and Higher Education in the Delhi government. He has also worked as a teacher at the Shahid Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi. He was elected from the Janakpuri constituency to the Delhi Assembly for seven consecutive terms since 1980 but lost in the 2014 elections.
 
Brig. (Retd.) Mishra, 78, served during the 1962 war with China, the 1971 war that saw the liberation of Bangladesh and in the operations in Sri Lanka in 1987-88. He has also served as a Commander of the National Security Guard (NSG) and was involved in the successful rescue operation during the Indian Airline plane hijacking at Amritsar in 1993.
 
Mr. Malik, 64, is a former member of the Lok Sabha from Aligarh constituency in Uttar Pradesh (1989-91), while Mr. Prasad has served as a Member of the Bihar Legislative Council.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Nagaon region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Nagaon region of Assam this evening.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.5°N and longitude 92.8°E, occurred at 1748 hours at a focal depth of 31 km.
 
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Combination therapy may improve treatment of blood cancer

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A group of Indian scientists has identified a new way to re-sensitise cells that become resistant to chemotherapy in some blood cancer patients.
 
Blood cancer or Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) occurs when a subset of blood cells start dividing in an unregulated manner ultimately resulting in bone marrow failure. A drug –Imatinib Mesylate (IM) - is used to treat this cancer. But, oncologists are seeing growing number of cases of resistance to this drug, resulting in recurrence of the cancer.
 
Typically, Imatinib disrupts the activity of BCR-ABL, an abnormal protein which is generated due to certain chromosome level changes. This protein promotes unregulated proliferation of blood cells. In many cases, however, cancer cells become unresponsive to the drug leading to treatment failure or recurrence. Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati have sought to address this problem. Results of their study have been published in journal Science Reports.
 
“Our investigation shows that some key factors are responsible for such resistance which is in fact mediated by neighbouring non-cancerous cells. By blocking these molecules, the resistant cancer cells can be killed,” explained Dr Bithiah Grace Jaganathan, senior researcher at IIT Guwahati.
 
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The research team has demonstrated in laboratory cell-based studies that by a combined approach - preventing adhesion of cancer cells with neighbouring healthy cells and inhibiting certain biological pathways - resistant cells can be re-sensitized to drugs. “Such an approach will help in treating patients who have become unresponsive to themainline cancer drug,” hopes Dr Jaganathan.
 
The researchers feel the study could help in effective treatment management as well. The prevention of adhesion between cancer cell and healthy cells during early phase of a patient’s treatment can eliminate development of drug resistance, while treatment with certain molecules to block cancer propagating biological pathways can sensitize the resistant cells thereby ensuring complete elimination of CML and prevention of recurrence. The study provides a promising lead for further evaluation.
 
Apart from Dr. Jaganathan, the research team included Atul Kumar and Jina Bhattacharyya from IIT, Guwahati and Guwahati Medial College. The work was funded by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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SpiceJet adds Dibrugarh as its 50th destination

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today said it would launch daily direct flights on the Silchar-Guwahati-Dibrugarh route from October 3.
 
SpiceJet is the first airline to offer to daily direct air connectivity between Guwahati and Dibrugarh, its 50th destination.
 
The announcement of the new flight was made by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function here today.
 
"With the launch of the new service, SpiceJet will put Dibrugarh on the pan India aviation map through seamless onward connections on its network. This is in perfect sync with the airline’s agenda to connect smaller cities and it further strengthens SpiceJet’s focus on North-East India. SpiceJet will be operating its Bombardier Q400 aircrafts on the said routes," a press release from the airline said.
 
Mr. Sonowal said,  "We thank SpiceJet and especially Mr Ajay Singh for accepting our request and providing air connectivity to the citizens of Assam and North East. I hope that this service continues unabated. I had personally requested Mr Singh to look into the gaps in air connectivity left by other operators and I am happy to share that the same was looked into with quite urgency."
 
Mr. Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet said, “SpiceJet remains committed to enhancing connectivity to the North East and we are extremely pleased to add Dibrugarh to our network."
 
"This flight has been especially started because of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam Shri Sarbananda Sonowal. We will continue to work with him and with all the governments in the North East to ensure prosperity for this incredibly important part of our country," he added.
 
With the new flights SpiceJet will now operate a total of 26 flights in and out of North East and a total of eight flights within the region.
 
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Implantable silk mat developed to speed up bone healing

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The natural process of healing bone joint injuries is slow. Now scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have developed an implantable mat that will help bone joint injuries to heal faster. The mat is made of a layer of silk fabricated onto bioglass and can be implanted at the site of injury.
 
A bone joint is an area where adjacent hard and rigid bones are joined to one another by cartilage tissue. Cartilage is flexible and consists of specialized cells called chondrocytes that produce a protein, collagen, which helps bone joint injuries to heal naturally.
 
“We isolated natural silk from silk worms and made nanofibrous mats that aid in treating bone joint defects owing to their special properties. They have a porous sponge like structure that helps chondrocyte cells to attach and grow. The cells produce more collagen at the site of bone joint injury, which helps to heal the injury faster,” explained Biman Mandal, professor at the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering of IIT Guwahati, who led the study. The research has appeared in journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
 
Doctors also use autologous chondrocyte implantation in which chondrocyte cells from injured person are extracted, cultured in lab, multiplied, and then transplanted back to the site of injury. This method has high success rate but is expensive. Knee replacement surgery is another option but not affordable by many.
 
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Researchers now plan animal trials in which silk mats will be implanted in goats and sheep to see if it helps to enhance the pace of healing injured joints and to evaluate safety. “If the results are promising, then we will go for human trials,” Mandal told India Science Wire.
 
Amit K Dinda, professor at the Department of Pathology of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, who is not connected to the study, commented that while the method appears to be low cost, there will be “greater clarity only after pre-clinical animal studies to test biocompatibility, toxicity, local tissue reaction at the site of implantation and process of sterilization.” All these steps are necessary to obtain regulatory approval for human use.
 
The study was done in collaboration with the University College London and was funded by the Department of Science and Technology-UK India Education and Research Initiative (DST-UKIERI) and Department of Biotechnology. The team included Joseph Christakiran, Philip JT Reardon, Rocktotpal Konwarh, Jonathan C Knowles, and Biman B Mandal.
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Sonitpur region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Sonitpur region of Assam late last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.6°N and longitude 92.7°E, occurred at 2327 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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IIM Ahmedabad showcases its FABM programme at roadshows in North-East

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The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) conducted  roadshows in two educational institutions of North-East India, showcasing its post-graduate program in food and agri-business management (PGP-FABM). 
 
The purpose of the roadshows was to educate students about the management programme, and answer any queries the students may have about it, a press release from IIMA said.
 
These roadshows were conducted at College of Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology (CAEPHT) in Gangtok, Sikkim and Assam Agricultural University (AAU) in Jorhat, Assam. 
 
Prof. Ranjan Ghosh, a faculty member at IIMA and officials who run the day-to- day administration of this key programme represented IIMA.
 
The roadshow at CAEPHT, on August 14, was special as IIMA was also represented by two of its alumni – Mr. Prem Das Rai (1978 batch), a member of Parliament from Sikkim, and Mr. Tenzing Lepcha (2009 batch), an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who is currently serving as the Superintendent of Police, East Sikkim. 
 
More than 200 hundred students attended the event and interacted with the faculty and staff. Both Mr. Rai and Mr. Lepcha shared their experiences with the students and answered all the questions.
 
Prof. Ghosh emphasized the huge role food and agri-business sector plays in nation building and economic development. He highlighted the high demand for skilled managers in this sector who can work across the agri-food value chain and ensure high profits as well as re-distribution among farmers. 
 
In Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat, on August 17, Prof. Ghosh emphasized that with a little bit of awareness and smart preparation the dream of making into IIM Ahmedabad was very much achievable for students of North East. 
 
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"I was not even aware that PGP-FABM of IIMA is a niche programme dedicated to management education in the agri-food sector and that with a background in agriculture and allied sector education, we stand a good chance to make it to the programme," said Jagan Jyoti Barua, the student General Secretary of the college and a 4th year undergraduate student with an interest in a management career in the tea industry. He echoed the sentiment of many others, of the over 100 students participating in the event at AAU, who were surprised to know about PGP-FABM ranked No.1 Masters in Management in the Food and Agribusiness sector in the world (by ranking agency Eduniversal, Paris). 
 
After the event, when asked by the Dean of the University D.K. Borah, many students said they will now seriously consider preparing for CAT and appear for the interviews for IIMA FABM programme
 
Describing the event as a "huge success", the Vice-Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Dr. K.M. Bujarbaruah, thanked Mr. Pravin Christian (Programmes Officer, PGP-FABM) for taking the initiative to organize the event and for a visit from far-off Ahmedabad.
 
"Through these roadshows, IIMA once again displayed its commitment to quality management programme that is relevant to all regions of India," the release added.
 
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Neolithic artefacts of Northeast are 2700 years old: Study

For the first time, the age of the artefacts of Neolithic era recovered from two important sites in northeast India has been unraveled. Indian scientists have found the age using the latest technique of optically stimulated luminescence dating.
 
‘It is now confirmed that the corded pottery and polished stone tools that were recovered during excavations in Daojali Hading in Dima Haso district of Assam in 1961 are 2, 700 years old and those recovered from Gawak Abri in Garo Hills of Meghalaya in 1999 are 2,300 years old," says Dr. Sukanya Sharma of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati. She and her colleague, Pankaj Singh had conducted the study.
 
The study was conducted on an experimental basis with the new technique of optically simulated luminescence dating. The age of the sites was found to be well matched with the radio-carbon dates from other Neolithic sites of the region.
 
The excavation site at Daojali Hading occupies an important place in the archaeological history of India as the first evidence of an Eastern Asiatic Neolithic complex of double-shouldered Celts and cord-marked pottery in India was reported from there. The discovery had put Northeast India on the Neolithic map of the world for the first time. Howeve,r the precise age of the artefacts was not known.
 
The antiquity of the state was hypothetically stated to be of the "late Neolithic phase". Now, with the dating of the artefacts, this hypothesis has been proved and its antiquity has been established.
 
The dating of the Gawak Abri site in Garo Hills is also significant as Garo Hills has the highest density of prehistoric sites in North East India.
 
With the new finding of the age of the two sites, it is confirmed that human beings, with the capacity to make pottery and polished stone tools were present in the north east India over two thousand years ago.
 
The researchers have published their study in the latest issue of science journal, Current Science.
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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PM speaks to Assam, Bihar CMs regarding flood situation in the two states

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke to Chief Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal of Assam and Nitish Kumar of Bihar regarding the flood situation in the two states and assured them of all possible assistance from the Centre to cope with the crisis.
 
Later, Mr. Modi said on Twitter that the Centre was closely and constantly monitoring the situation in Assam and that all possible support was being provided to the state  for overcoming the crisis.
 
“Ever since Assam has witnessed flooding, the Central Government has been closely and constantly monitoring the situation. All possible support is being provided to Assam for overcoming the flood situation prevailing in parts of the state," he said.
 
Similarly, he said the Centre had assured all support to the Bihar government to mitigate the flood situation and that the situation was being monitored closely.
 
“My thoughts are with all those affected by floods in parts of Bihar. The situation is being monitored closely. Centre assures all support to Bihar government to mitigate the flood situation. Teams of NDRF are in Bihar for rescue and relief work," he added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Kamrup region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Kamrup region of Assam today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.3 °N and longitude 91.7°E, occurred at 1655 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Darrang region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Darrang region of Assam this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.8 °N and longitude 92.2°E, occurred at 1754 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Nadda flags off relief supplies for flood-hit Assam, Manipur and Gujarat

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Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda, who is Chairman of the Indian Red Cross Society, today flagged off relief material worth around Rs 3.15 crore to the flood affected families in Assam, Manipur and Gujarat.
 
Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, was also present on the occasion.
 
Speaking after flagging off the fleet of trucks, Mr Nadda stated that the government was ensuring that there was no shortage of essential items to the flood victims. “We have released the first batch of relief material worth around Rs 3.15 crore containing medicines, mosquito nets, clothes, etc., and will soon send the second batch as well.
 
“We will make sure that there is an adequate supply of relief material,” he added. 
 
The Red Cross units of Assam, Manipur and Gujarat through their volunteers have also initiated an immediate response by providing relief supplies to the affected communities from their existing stocks.
 
The Indian Red Cross Society national headquarters has also released relief items from its prepositioned stocks for response operation. These include mosquito nets, kitchen sets, tarpaulin pieces, towels, dhotis for men and sarees for women, cotton blankets, bed sheets and buckets.
 
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Former Union Minister Santosh Mohan Dev passes away in Silchar

Santosh Mohan Dev
Santosh Mohan Dev
Former Union Minister and veteran Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev, who was a heavyweight in the party and the Government in the 1980s and 1990s, passed away at a hospital in Silchar, Assam this morning.
 
He was 83. He is survived by his wife and four daughters, including Ms. Sushmita Dev, a Congress member of the Lok Sabha from Silchar.
 
"Nothing could have prepared me for this moment. I lost him at 6.06 am today. Thank you everyone for your prayers, your love for him," Ms. Dev said on microblogging site Twitter.
 
Born on April 1, 1934, Mr. Dev had a degree in Commerce from the Gurucharan College, Silchar and an MBA from the Welsh College of Advanced Technology and Commerce, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
 
Starting out in public life as the Chairman of the Municipal Board in Silchar, Mr. Dev was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1980 and was re-elected six times in the years that followed. Of his seven terms in the Lok Sabha, he represented Silchar five times and was elected from Tripura twice.
 
He served as Union Minister of State for Tourism and Communications from October 1986 to February 1988, Minister of State for defence from February 1988 to June 1988 and Minister of State for Home Affairs from June 1988 to December 1989.
 
He was Union Minister of State for Steel with  independent charge from June 1991 to May 1996 in the P V Narasimha Rao Government.
 
In the first term of the Manmohan Singh government, he served as Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, with independent charge, from May 23, 2004 to November 17, 2005. He was elevated to Cabinet Rank and put in charge of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises from November 18, 2005.
 
He lost to Mr. Kabindra Purkayastha of the BJP in the 2009 elections for the 15th Lok Sabha.
 
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Among other things, Mr. Dev was associated with sports and was Vice-President of the Assam Olympic Association and President of the Delhi Soccer Association. He was part of the Organising Committee of the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi. He was a certified and professionally qualfied football referee.
 
Mr. Dev was a third generation Congressman. His father was one of the first legislators in independent India and his grandfather had played an active part in the freedom struggle was was a member of the first Silchar Municipal Council in 1913.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Mr. Dev's passing away. "Saddened by the passing away of Shri Santosh Mohan Dev. He was veteran political leader who worked extensively for welfare of people," he said on Twitter.
 
"My thoughts are with the family and supporters of Shri Santosh Mohan Dev in this hour of grief," he added.
 
Congress President Sonia also condoled Mr. Dev's death and expressed her deepest condolences to his family.
 
She noted that, in a political career spanning five decades, Mr. Dev held numerous crucial political assignments in the Congress party and in the Government including that of a Union Cabinet Minister.
 
"His immense contribution to build the party in the Northeast, right from the grassroots level would always be remembered, she said. His death is an irreparable loss to the nation," she said, expressing her solidarity with his family and supporters, particularly Congress MP Sushmita Dev.
 
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Modi reviews flood situation in NE, announces assistance of over Rs. 2,000 crore

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced a relief package of over Rs. 2,000 crore for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and flood mitigation measures in the flood-affected North-Eastern states. 
 
The announcement came at the end of a series of high-level meetings, where the Prime Minister reviewed the flood situation and relief measures in the affected States. 
 
Through the course of the day, Mr. Modi held separate, detailed review meetings on the situation in the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. The Chief Ministers of the respective States, and senior officials were present at the meetings.
 
A memorandum was received from the Chief Minister of Mizoram, who could not make it to the meeting in person. 
 
An official press release said that over Rs. 1,200 crore would be given by  the Union Government for the infrastructure sector alone. The funds will be utilized for repair, maintenance, and strengthening of roads, highways, bridges, and other damaged infrastructure. 
 
The release said Rs. 400 crore will be provided for improving the water holding capacity of the Brahmaputra River, which will assist in flood control. 
 
In the current financial year, the Union Government has approved Rs. 600 crore as central share of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF). Out of this, Rs. 345 crore has already been released, and the remaining will be released immediately, to assist the States in relief and rehabilitation work. 
 
The Union Government will also provide Rs. 100 crore for carrying out a study to synergize efforts towards finding time-bound long term solutions to recurrent floods in the region. 
 
The North-Eastern region, with eight percent of India's land area, contains one-third of the country's water resources. The Union Government will constitute a High Level Committee, with representation from Ministries of the Government of India and the States, for proper management of the region's vast water resources. 
 
An ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, and Rs. 50,000 to each of those seriously injured due to the floods, has been sanctioned under the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). 
 
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Modi to review flood situation in North-Eastern States tomorrow

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Guwahati tomorrow where he will chair a series of high-level meetings to review the flood situation and the relief operations in the North-Eastern States, particularly Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur.
 
Chief Ministers and senior officials from these States are expected to be present at the meetings, an official press release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Darrang region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Darrang region of Assam this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.9 °N and longitude 92.3°E, occurred at 0627 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Inter-Ministerial Central team calls on Assam CM after assessing flood situation

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A seven-member Inter-Ministerial team from theCentral Government is presently on a visit to Assam to assess the damage caused by recent floods in the state.
 
The team is led by the Joint Secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs V. Shashank Shekhar. The team is visiting Assam following directions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his meeting with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on July 18 in the national capital.
 
The Inter Ministerial team called on the Chief Minister here yesterday and apprised him about the findings of their visit to the flood-affected districts.
 
Mr Shekhar informed the Chief Minister that they personally saw the damages and the distress and migration of the flood-hit people. He mentioned that the teams were divided into two groups and visited the flood- hit Brahmaputra and Barak valley districts.
 
As part of their on-the-spot-assessment, the teams interacted with the affected people and respective district administrations to find out the intensity of damage caused by the flood, he informed.
 
Mr Sonowal said that most of the embankments which were constructed as a safeguard to rural economy and habitations had already outlived their life.
 
He said the team that a proposal had already been submitted to the Government of India to take up ‘Prime Minister’s Special Programme for Flood and Erosion Control’ for developing embankments of the state as road-cum-embankments stretching 5,000 km.
 
The Chief Minister said once the 5000 km stretch is converted into road-cum-embankments, this would help rural people in terms of connectivity and will benefit the rural economy as well as tourism. This initiative would also facilitate implementation of PMGSY to connect every village in the state. The Chief Minister also referred to the issue of resettlement of people who became homeless and landless due to flood.
 
Considering the gravity of the situation and the intensity of flood damage in Assam, Mr Shekhar informed the Chief Minister that the team would submit their report at the earliest to the Central Government so that fund for tackling the flood related issues could be released expeditiously.
 
The team visited Biswanath, Lakhimpur, Majuli, Barpeta, Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts of Assam for on-the-spot-assessment of flood damage.
 
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Rs 200 crore assistance to Assam for repair of rain-ravaged National Highways

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Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari today announced a financial assistance of Rs. 200 crore as the first instalment for the immediate repairs of the National Highways damaged due to the heavy rains in Assam.
 
The announcement was made after the Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called on Mr Gadkari for a review of the situation in Assam.
 
Meanwhile, an expert team of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been dispatched for an on-the- spot assessment of the damage. If needed, further financial assistance will be provided based on the NHAI team's report expected to be submitted within a week.
 
Another Rs 400 crore has been sanctioned for dredging work in the Brahmaputra. The work will start from September using six dredgers to increase the depth of the river and prevent it from flooding.
 
A total of seven bridges is to be built on the river during the next five years for better road connectivity with the NE region. Work on two bridges is underway. DPR for three more bridges is to be prepared by the state government.
 
Mr Gadkari has also asked the state government to submit the DPR for the proposed Brahmaputra National Highways to be built along the banks of the river at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore, an official release said.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Karbi Anglong region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, shook the Karbi Anglong region of Assam late last night.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorlogical Department (IMD) said the quake, which  had its epicentre at latitude 26.3 °N and longitude 93.1°E, occurred at 2358 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 28 km.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Myanmar-India border region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, shook the Myanmar-India border region this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 24.3°N and longitude 94.4°E, occurred at 1057 hours at a focal depth of 80 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
Earlier, another minor quake, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Kokrajhar region of Assam. It had its epicentre at latitude 26.5 N and longitude 90.0 E, and occurred at 1014 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
Also, a tremor of magnitude 4.9 occurred in Nepal this morning. It had its epicentre at latitude 27.4 N and longitude 86.5 E, and occurred at 0728 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, the bulletin added.
 
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World Bank to provide $ 35 million loan for Assam State Public Financial Institutional Reforms Project

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India today signed an agreement for IBRD credit of $ 35 million from World Bank for Assam State Public Financial Institutional Reforms Project here today.
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (MI), Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. John Blomquist, Acting Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank. 
 
The Implementing Entity Agreement was signed by Additional Chief Secretary (Finance), Department of Finance, on behalf of Government of Assam, and the Country Director (India) on behalf of the World Bank. 
 
An official press release said the programme size is $ 44 million, of which $ 35 million will be financed by the Bank, and the remaining amount will be funded out of the State Budget. The programme duration is five years.
 
The release said the objective of the project is to improve predictability and transparency in budget execution and efficiency in tax administration in Assam. The project will benefit the people of Assam through efficient processes, enhanced transparency and better service delivery (such as electronic payments and collections for services, better public procurement, and enhanced taxpayer services) provided by public institutions, it added.
 
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Prabhu inaugurates various railway related services in Odisha, Assam

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Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated various railway related services in Odisha and Assam through video conferencing from Rail Bhavan here yesterday.
 
Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and Member of Parliament Prasanna Kumar Patasani were present at the launch along with Railway Board Chairman A. K. Mittal, Member Traffic Mohammed Jamshed and others.
 
The projects launched were a railway line between Bolagarh Road and Nayagarh Town and work for the provision of a new line between Khurda Road and Bolangir for a total length of 289 km that was sanctioned in the year of 1994-95 at a total cost of Rs 801.78 crore.
 
The work for commissioning of new line between Bolagarh Road and Nayagarh town (12 km) has been completed. The total length of rail line is about 65 km, an official press release said. Train No. 58429/ 58430/ 58431/ 58432 (Khurda Road- Bolagarh) were being extended up to Nayagarh Town.
 
The release said the train would benefit a large number of pilgrims visiting Puri during the Rath Yatra festival. It will be a daily service with a composition of 12 coaches.
 
In other infrastructure, the Nayagarh Town Railway Station building was inaugurated. It is an ‘E’ category station on Khurda Road-Bolangir section, built at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore. Passenger amenities like booking windows, public address system, waiting hall, platform, toilets and drinking water have been provided at the station. To facilitate physically handicapped passengers, wheelchairs have been provided. Stretchers have also been provided for medical needs of the passengers.
 
The passenger halt at Bolagarh Town was sanctioned on October 13, 2016. Location of the halt is between Rajsunakhala and Bolagarh Road stations on Khurda Road-Bolangir new line in Khurda Division of East Coast Railway. It has been built at a cost of Rs. 98 lakh.
 
The amenities provided are high-level platform (360 metres), booking counter-cum-waiting room (25 sqm), approach road (900 sqm) and one hand operated tube well.
 
The Minister also inaugurated a passenger reservation system (PRS) counter at Kamakhya temple announced on May 7 this year. This is a non-rail head PRS with the assistance of Kamakhya Devottar Board and will cater to an approximately catchment area of 5000 passengers. This is a location of tourist importance, lakh of devotees visit the shrine, especially during Ambubushi Mela.
 
At present, on Northeast Frontier Railway, there are 249 locations where computerised reservation facility is available. After this, the figure will be 250 (including 115 locations in Assam), the release added.
 
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