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Gujarat

Modi poised for huge win in Gujarat, Congress wrests Himachal from BJP

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appeared set for a third straight term in office as the Bharatiya Janata Party headed towards a huge win in the state but it lost Himachal Pradesh to the Congress as counting of votes progressed in the Assembly elections in both States today.

 
Counting begins in Gujarat, BJP secures early lead

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appeared set for a third straight term in office as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headed towards a huge win in the state but it lost Himachal Pradesh to the Congress as counting of votes progressed in the Assembly elections in both states today.

As results and counting trends became available for all the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly, the BJP had won 52 and was leading in 65 others, making for a total of 117 seats, the same number that it has in the outgoing house.
 
The Congress had won 27 seats and was leading in 32 others. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the Congress, had won two seats while the Janata Dal (United), an ally of the BJP, was leading in one constituency. Other parties were ahead in three seats.
 
Adding to the Congress' misery in Gujarat, its state unit chief Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil lost their seats.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, the ruling BJP conceded defeat as the Congress won 34 seats in the 68-member Assembly and was leading in two others. The BJP had won 23 and was ahead in another three, while others had won four and were leading in two more.
 
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal admitted his party had lost and congratulated the winners. He said the reasons for the BJP's defeat, despite his government's good record of governance, would be analysed at party fora in due course.
 
In Gujarat, Mr Modi retained his own seat, Maninagar, bagging 120440 votes against 34097 secured by his nearest rival, Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt.
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The controversial former Minister of State for Home, Mr Amit Shah of the BJP, won from Naranpura, garnering 103988 votes against the 40653 secured by his rival Jitubhai B Patel of the Congress.
 
In the Ellis Bridge constituency in Ahmedabad, Ms Jagruti Pandya, widow of assassinated former Minister of State for Home Haren Pandya, ended up in the third place. Ms Pandya, a candidate of the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) floated by former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, could muster only 9075 votes against Mr Raesh Shah of BJP, who got 106631 votes. Mr Kamleshkumar Shah of the Congress got 29959 votes.
 
Mr Modhwadia lost in Porbandar, getting only 60458 votes against the 77604 votes secured by Mr Babubhai Bokhiria of the BJP. Mr Gohil lost from Bhavnagar (Rural) to Mr Purshottam Solanki of the BJP. Mr Solanki got 83980 votes as against 65426 secured by Mr Gohil.
 
The BJP had won 117 seats in the Gujarat Assembly in the last elections in 2007, while the Congress had 59 seats.
 
Counting of votes began in both states at 0800 hours today and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
Elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly were held in two phases on December 13 and 17, when a record 71.3 per cent of the 38 million voters had exercised their franchise.
 
Polling for the 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh assembly was held in a single phase on November 4, and about 74.7 per cent of the 4.60 million voters had cast their votes.
 
The supporters of Mr Modi, who has been in office since 2001, are hoping that, with yet another big win, he would be propelled to the centrestage of national politics and become the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Exit polls had predicted a huge win for Mr Modi again this year, while they had given a slight edge in a close contest in Himachal Pradesh.
 
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Seychelles President Danny Faure arrives in Ahmedabad at start of six-day visit to India

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Seychelles President Danny Faure arrived in Ahmedabad on Friday evening at the start of a six-day state visit to India.
 
He is accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising two Cabinet Ministers, four Secretaries of State and other senior officials of the Government of Seychelles. A business delegation will also be accompanying him on the visit. 
 
In Ahmedabad, Mr. Faure will visit the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram and the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University before meeting the Governor of the state today.
 
Later in the day, he will reach Goa, where he will have a meeting with the Governor tomorrow before emplaning for Delhi.
 
In Delhi, Mr. Faure will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday morning. This will be followed by a visit to Rajghat to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi. 
 
His official engagements include meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind, delegation level talks with the Prime Minister, calls by the Vice-President and the External Affairs Minister, and an address to the India-Seychelles Business Forum.  President Kovind will host a State Banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary. 
 
On Tuesday, Mr. Faure will travel to Dehradun, Uttarakhand, where he will meet the Governor on that day and visit the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy on the next day before returning to Delhi and  then flying back home.
 
"The State Visit of President Faure is part of regular high level exchanges between India and Seychelles, and will accord an opportunity to review our wide-ranging bilateral cooperation including in the fields of defence and security and development partnership," the release added.
 
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Nothing unusal, says ADCB; 1.6 lakh deposited Rs 746-cr banned notes, says NABARD

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The National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) on Friday attributed the country's highest deposits of Rs 745.59 crore in banned currencies at the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank (ADCB) to the latter's massive size and performance.
 
After a political storm over the IANS report on RTI revelations about ADCB, in which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah is a director, the NABARD came out in strong defence of the Ahmedabad-based bank.
 
"NABARD conducted 100 per cent verification in ADCB which revealed that the bank had complied with all the KYC guidelines of the RBI while accepting the demonetised notes," it said in a statement here.
 
"During the period when the banks were permitted to accept deposits, 1.6 lakh customers of the bank deposited/exchanged the demonetised notes aggregating to Rs 746 crore, which was only about 15 percent of the total deposits of the bank," NABARD said.
 
Confirming the figure of deposits of the banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes worth Rs 745.59 crore, NABARD said the ADCB has 16 lakh accounts spread across 194 branches, making it Gujarat's biggest DCCB.
 
It said of the 16 lakhs accounts, barely 1.6 lakh customers or 9.37 percent exchanged or deposited the old notes.
 
Of these less than Rs 2.5 lakhs were deposited in 98.66 percent of the accounts in which deposits/ exchanges were made.
 
NABARD also said of the total number of accounts with ADCB, only 0.09 percent comprised accounts with deposits of more than Rs 2.5 lakh.
 
"The average deposit amount in ADCB was Rs 46,795, which was lower than average per depositor in 18 DCCBs of Gujarat," it added.
 
In contrast, the NABARD said that the DCCBs in Maharashtra and Kerala had deposits that were higher than the DCCBs in Gujarat.
 
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Our Gujarat Correspondent, Darshan Desai adds: ADC Bank chairman Ajay Patel says there was "nothing unusual" about the bank receiving as much as Rs 746 crore deposits in the first five days of demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 2016.
 
Asked how could the bank staff managed to handle so much money in just five days when making deposits after demonetisation required a detailed procedure, Patel told IANS, "We have 194 branches across Gujarat, not just one."
 
"So it is no big deal. And for any other clarification about the deposits in our bank, the NABARD has issued a detailed press release. You can refer that," he added, speaking in Gujarati.
 
The NABARD statatement lauded the ADCB, saying the bank had total business levels of over Rs 9,000-crore, is one of the top 10 DCCBs in the country, and was recently awarded for best performance by the Federatoin of Cooperative Banks, and its deposit base of Rs 5,330-crore is the highest among all the Gujarat banks.
 
Moreover, calling it a "farmer friendly bank", it said the bank has adopted technology to the core to enhance ease of doing banking to farmers, is among the first few DCCBs in India to offer modern mobile banking and limited Internet banking facilities to its customers.
 
IANS on Thursday highlighted how the ADCB became the most sought-after bank for deposits of the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currencies which were abruptly demonetised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016.
 
The issue created a controversy with several opposition parties, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi and the CPI-M targeting the BJP on the issue.
 
Mumbai Youth Congress President Ganesh Yadav has announced a protest on Saturday to demand a CBI probe against Shah on all the charges against him, suspension of the Rajkot DCCB Chairman Jayesh V. Radadiya who is a cabinet minister in Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's government, and stringent action against both the banks and its officials.
 
Earlier in the day, the AICC issued a hard hitting statement detailing the other DCCBs in Gujarat which are controlled by the ruling BJP.
 
IANS
 
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Indian scientists discover sub-Saturn-like planet around Sun-like star

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A team of scientists and engineers led by Prof. Abhijit Chakraborty of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, has discovered a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size planet (mass of about 27 Earth Mass and size of 6 Earth Radii) around a Sun-like star. 
 
The planet will be known as EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b, an official press release said here today.
 
The research work has appeared online in Astronomical Journal of the American Astronomical Society and published by IOP publishing (the DOI of the article is 10.3847/1538-3881 /aac436).
 
The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed “PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search” (PARAS) spectrograph integrated with 1.2m Telescope at PRL's Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, India. 
 
Only 23 such planetary systems (including this discovery) are known to this date with masses between 10 and 70 Earth mass and size of 4 to 8 Earth radii with such precise measurement of mass, the release said.
 
"This discovery is very important for understanding the formation mechanism of such super-Neptune or sub-Saturn kind of planets, that are too close to the host star and as well as planet formations around Sun-like stars," it said.
 
With this discovery, India has joined a handful of countries, which have discovered planets around stars beyond our solar system. Further, PARAS is the first of its kind spectrograph in Asia, which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star. Very few spectrographs exist around the world that can do such precise measurements, the release added.
 
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Bank with Amit Shah as director collected highest amount of banned notes among DCCBs: RTI reply

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A district cooperative bank, which has Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah as a director, netted the highest deposits among such banks of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were abruptly demonetised on November 8, 2016, according to RTI replies received by a Mumbai activist.
 
The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank (ADCB) secured deposits of Rs 745.59 crore of the spiked notes -- in just five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the demonetisation announcement. All the district cooperative banks were banned from accepting deposits of the banned currency notes from the public after November 14, 2016, -- five days after demonetisation -- on fears that black money would be laundered through this route.
 
According to the bank's website, Shah continues to be a director with the bank and has been in that position for several years. He was also the bank's chairman in 2000. ADCB's total deposits on March 31, 2017, were Rs 5,050 crore and its net profit for 2016-17 was Rs 14.31 crore.
 
Right behind ADCB, is the Rajkot District Cooperative Bank, whose chairman Jayeshbhai Vitthalbhai Radadiya is a cabinet minister in Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's government. It got deposits of old currencies worth Rs 693.19 crore.
 
Interestingly, Rajkot is the hub of Gujarat BJP politics -- Prime Minister Modi was first elected from there as a legislator in 2001.
 
Incidentally, the figures of Ahmedabad-Rajkot DCCBs are much higher than the apex Gujarat State Cooperative Bank Ltd, which got deposits of a mere Rs 1.11 crore.
 
"The amount of deposits made in the State Cooperative Banks (SCBs) and District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) -- revealed under RTI for first time since demonetisation -- are astounding," Manoranjan S. Roy, the RTI activist who made the effort to get the information, told IANS.
 
The RTI information was given by the Chief General Manager and Appellate Authority, S. Saravanavel, of the National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD).
 
It has also come to light, through the RTI queries, that only seven public sector banks (PSBs), 32 SCBs, 370 DCCBs, and a little over three-dozen post offices across India collected Rs 7.91 lakh crore -- more than half (52 per cent) of the total amount of old currencies of Rs 15.28 lakh crore deposited with the RBI.
 
The break-up of Rs 7.91 lakh crore mentioned in the RTI replies shows that the value of spiked notes deposited with the RBI by the seven PSBs was Rs 7.57 lakh crore, the 32 SCBs gave in Rs 6,407 crore and the 370 DCCBs brought in Rs 22,271 crore. Old notes deposited by 39 post offices were worth Rs 4,408 crore.
 
Information from all the SCBs and DCCBs across India were received through the replies. The seven PSBs account for around 29,000 branches -- out of the over 92,500 branches of the 21 PSBs in India -- according to data published by the RBI. The 14 other PSBs declined to gave information on one ground or the other. There are around 155,000 post offices in the country.
 
Fifteen months after demonetisation, the government had announced that Rs 15.28 lakh crore -- or 99 per cent of the cancelled notes worth Rs 15.44 lakh crore -- were returned to the RBI treasury.
 
Roy said it was a serious matter if only a few banks and their branches and a handful post offices, apart from SCBs and DCCBs, accounted for over half the old currency notes.
 
"At this rate, serious questions arise about the actual collection of spiked notes through the remaining 14 mega-PSBs, besides rural-urban banks, private banks (like ICICI, HDFC and others), local cooperatives, Jankalyan Banks and credit cooperatives and other entities with banking licenses, the figures of which are not made available under RTI," he said.
 
The SCBs were allowed to exchange or take deposits of banned notes till December 30, 2016 -- for a little over seven weeks, in contrast to district cooperative banks which were allowed only five days of transactions.
 
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The prime minister during his demonetisation speech had said that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes could be deposited in bank or post office accounts from November 10 till close of banking hours on December 30, 2016, without any limit. "Thus you will have 50 days to deposit your notes and there is no need for panic," he had said.
 
After an uproar, mostly from BJP allies, the government also opened a small window in mid-2017, during the presidential elections, allowing the 32 SCBs and 370 DCCBs -- largely owned, managed or controlled by politicians of various parties -- to deposit their stocks of the spiked notes with the RBI. The move was strongly criticised by the Congress and other major Opposition parties.
 
Among the SCBs, the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank topped the list of depositors with Rs 1,128 crore from 55 branches and the smallest share of Rs 5.94 crore came from just five branches of Jharkhand State Cooperative Bank, according to the replies.
 
Surprisingly, the Andaman & Nicobar State Cooperative Bank's share (from 29 branches) was Rs 85.76 crore.
 
While Maharashtra has a population of 12 crore, Jharkhand's population is 3.6 crore. Andaman & Nicobar Islands have less than four lakh residents.
 
The poorest of all the cooperative banks in the country is Banki Central Cooperative Bank Ltd in Odisha, which admitted to receiving zero deposits of the spiked currency.
 
Of the total 21 PSBs, State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank of India, Dena Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab & Sindh Bank, Vijaya Bank, Andhra Bank, Syndicate Bank, UCO Bank, United Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce, and IDBI Bank (14 banks) -- with over 63,500 branches amongst them -- did not give any information on deposits.
 
IANS
 
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Gujarat farmers protest land acquisition for bullet train

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Strong protests have started emerging in Gujarat against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream project of a bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, with farmers in Surat district taking to the streets opposing acquisition of land for the purpose.
 
More than 200 farmers from 15 villages drove down to the Surat District Collectorate in tractors and motorcycles against the notification to acquire their land for the project with as many as 14 objections. They submitted a detailed memorandum to the District Collector.
 
Farmer leader Jayesh Patel told reporters that around 140 hectares of land across 21 villages were being acquired for the project, which is being opposed by the farmers.
 
"The notification for land acquisition was issued without carrying out the mandatory environmental or social impact assessment," he said, pointing out that there had been no consultation with the local bodies before bringing out the notification.
 
He went on: "Legally, the District Collector needs to declare the market rate of the land for which the acquisition notification is issued." This had not been done so far.
 
The farmers, who gathered at the collectorate, said the government had already acquired enough land for the Delhi-Mumbai dedicated freight corridor. 
 
Patel said even Western Railways have sufficient land to take the project forward. "There is no reason why our land is being acquired now," he added.
 
Besides Surat, hundreds of farmers in another South Gujarat district of Valsad are also strongly opposing the land acquisition in their fertile mango and chikoo region. 
 
Similarly, the National High Speed Rail Corp Ltd (NHRCL), the nodal body to implement the Bullet Train Project, is also facing resistance in Palghar in Maharashtra.
 
"We are in touch with our counterparts in Palghar and like them we too don't want to part with our land," Patel added.
 
IANS
 
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Smart City Centres helping in improved and efficient delivery of public services: Puri

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Minister of State for Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep S Puri has stated that Smart City Centre project, a unique component of the Smart City Mission, was helping in improved and efficient delivery of public services.
 
He was speaking while chairing the Consultative Committee meeting attached to the Ministry here recently.  Parliament Members KRP Prabhakaran, Raghav Lakhanpal, Rattan Lal Kataria, Santokh Singh Chaudhary, Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary and senior officers of the Ministry attended the meeting.       
 
Presentations were made by the CEO/representatives of Smart Cities from Surat, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Pune, Visakhapatnam, NDMC and Bhubaneshwar. These showcased the progress made by projects in various sectors like Smart classrooms (Visakhapatnam& NDMC), Social Equity Centre (Bhubaneshwar), Mayor’s Express (Bhopal), Disaster resilience mechanism adopted in smart cities located in coastal areas, and so on.
 
The members of Consultative Committee were also shown some of the projects in Surat Smart City like Bamroli Tertiary Treatment Plan, Althan Water Treatment Plant, visible improvement of area-Smart Road, affordable housing projects, vertical garden, BRTS (Gujarat Gas Circle), Surat fort and SMAC Centre. 
 
At present, nine Integrated Control and Command Centre at Ahmedabad, Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Pune, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara and Bhopal have become operational. Mr Puri said it has been observed that the cities were becoming cleaner due to monitoring of cleaning work through CCTV cameras leading to a reduction in instances of garbage throwing, littering, urinating in public and nighttime burning of garbage. Increase in traffic challan issuing indicated an orientation for better traffic discipline.
 
The Intelligent Transit Management System has helped Ahmedabad to improve its operational efficiency by reducing its operational cost while improving the service levels. Smart City Centres were also providing technical support in ensuring better safety of women on the streets, environmental sensitivity of people, faster response and better preparedness for emergencies and disasters., he added
 
During the course of the meeting, the Minister said that around 1350 projects worth Rs 50,000 crore have been tendered in the Smart City Mission, of which work has begun or has been completed in 950 projects costing Rs 30,675 crore.
 
Another 400 projects costing about Rs. 20,000 crore are at tendering stage.  Other projects being implemented in the mission are Smart Roads which optimize the utilization of space and are adding universal accessibility in 31 cities.  
 
As many as 47 cities were implementing more than 120 MW of solar projects promoting cleaner energy. Development of public spaces like riverfront, waterfronts, rejuvenation of city lakes and ponds are a priority of the mission, he said.
 
“An innovative feature of the mission is that our municipal bodies need to leverage their financial resources by municipal bonds, value capture finance, PPP, multi-lateral loans etc. It is noteworthy that 98 projects costing Rs 6,000 crore are under implementation with Public Private Partnership (PPP). PPP projects are getting good responses not only in the big cities but even in the smaller towns,” he added.
 
He said making Urban Local Bodies financially self-sufficient was very important for sustainable development. The Ministry has also started a campaign to do the credit rating of cities, which has been completed in 412 cities. As many as 155 cities have become "investment grade". 
 
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BHEL wins orders of over Rs. 125 crore for setting up solar photovoltaic plants

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had won two orders, cumulatively valued at more than Rs. 125 crore, for setting up solar photovoltaic (SPV) power plants, on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis,  in Gujarat.
 
The first order for setting up a 20 MW SPV power plant has been placed on BHEL by Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited (GACL), while the other for setting up a 10 MW SPV power plant has been received from Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited (GSFC). 
 
Both the solar power plants will be set up at Gujarat Solar Park, Charanka, Gujarat, a press release from the company said.
 
With these orders, BHEL’s solar capacity under execution at Gujarat Solar Park has reached 120 MW while the company’s solar portfolio has risen to 580 MW, the release said.
 
The company is presently executing over 210 MW of ground-mounted and rooftop solar PV projects across the country, it said.
 
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IAF's second Jaguar crash in three days

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An Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot escaped narrowly on Friday after the Jaguar aircraft he was flying developed a snag and crashed near an air base in Gujarat.
 
The pilot, a Squadron Leader, was returning to the Jamnagar Air Force base after a routine training mission when he detected the snag while landing, an IAF spokesperson said.
 
He managed to eject safely but it wasn't known immediately if he sustained any grave injuries.
 
Informed sources said the plane rolled for about 500 feet before the rocket-assisted ejection seat threw the pilot out. The plane then rolled for another 100 feet and slipped into the rough alongside the tarmac.
 
A court of inquiry has been ordered, the spokesperson said. 
 
This is the second IAF Jaguar crash in the last three days.
 
Air Commodore Sanjai Chauhan was killed after his plane went down in the Kutch region in northwestern Gujarat on Tuesday. He had also taken off from the Jamnagar Air Force base for a routine training mission. The cause of the June 5 crash is still unknown.
 
The Jaguar aircraft, in service for four decades, were built under licensing from SEPECAT - an Anglo-French consortium.
 
The IAF has been upgrading them with modern avionics, radar systems and modern engines to prolong their service life.
 
IANS
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38 Indians rescued from cyclone-hit Yemen island reach Porbandar

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The 38 Indians rescued by an Indian Naval ship on June 3 from the Yemeni island of Socotra, which was hit by cyclone Mekenu last month, reached Porbandar in Gujarat safely on Thursday.
 
"Indian Naval Ship Sunayana entered Porbandar harbour at 0900 hrs today on 07 Jun 2018 after successfully evacuating 38 Indian Nationals at/ off Socotra Islands during a swift Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operation (HADR), code named Operation Nistar," a press release from the Ministry of Defence said here yesterday.
 
The Indian nationals were stranded for nearly ten days after the severe cyclonic storm devastated the area around Socotra island.
 
INS Sunayna was diverted from Gulf of Aden deployment to Socotra Island for search and rescue operations after the Indian Navy received a distress call from the Directorate General of Shipping and the Indian Sailing Vessels Association. 
 
The 38 Indian nationals were successfully rescued and evacuated in the early morning of June 3.
 
"All evacuees were safely embarked onboard the ship and were immediately provided with medical care, food, water and telephone facilities. Thereafter, the ship also undertook intensive surface search and aerial reconnaissance of the area to look for any more survivors," the release said.
 
Upon entering harbour, INS Sunayna was received by Rear Admiral Sanjay Roye, Flag Officer Commanding Gujarat, Daman & Diu Naval Area. After initial briefing about the scheduled disembarkation formalities, all 38 Indian nationals were put through mandatory customs clearance and immigration checks. They were served light refreshments. 
 
Post completion of all the administrative formalities, they were handed over to the civil police to facilitate their return to their native places, the release added.
 
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Deendayal Port in Kandla to have mechanized facility for handling fertilizer cargo

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The Standing Finance Committee of the Ministry of Shipping has cleared a project for setting up an exclusive, fully mechanized handling facility for fertilizer cargo at Deendayal Port in Kandla, Gujarat.
 
The facility will be developed at berth number 14 of the port, which is being constructed at an approximate cost of Rs 138 crore. 
 
The port will further invest approximately Rs 340 crore for the project from its internal resources. Initially, the proposed facility will handle 2.60 MMTPA and subsequently, this will be raised to 4.50 MMTPA, an official press release said.
 
In the proposed project, all activities, right from the unloading of bulk fertilizer cargo from the ships to loading of the bagged fertilizer onto the wagons will be fully mechanized. The fertilizer cargo will be unloaded using Mobile Harbour Cranes onto Mobile Hoppers.
 
The conveyor system, along with the tipper system, will transfer the cargo to the cargo storage shed of 38,500 m2.  The storage shed will be equipped with 40 sets of bagging and stitching units which will feed the bagged cargo directly into wagons to reduce labour, movement and will optimize time and as such the logistic cost will come down, the release said.
 
At present, the handling of fertilizer cargo at Deendayal Port involves multiple movements and agencies.  The mechanized facility will reduce the same and ensure faster delivery of the cargo to the end users. It will be beneficial to the farmers in terms of cost and faster delivery, the release said.
 
For the fertilizer importers, the benefits of the proposed facility will be efficient operation due to end to end mechanization; No contamination of fertilizer cargo due to dedicated mechanization and closed PEB Shed; No internal vehicular movement for transfer of cargo; Lesser number of labour required due to mechanization and no multiple handling; One time transfer through equipment and conveyor.
 
It will also have Mechanized Dust Suppression to avoid dust; Lower rake turn-around time; Lower vessel turn-around time and lower logistics cost.
 
 The tendering work for the project is in progress. The facility is expected to be commissioned by October 2020, the release added.
 
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IAF Jaguar crashes in Jamnagar, pilot dies

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An Indian Air Force (IAF) Jaguar crashed in Gujarat on Tuesday, killing its pilot, an official said.
 
An IAF spokesperson said the aircraft was on a routine training mission when it met with the accident at Jamnagar around 10.30 a.m. 
 
"The pilot, Air Commodore Sanjay Chauhan, sustained fatal injuries during the crash," the spokesperson said. 
 
A Court of Inquiry has been ordered.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
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First LNG cargo under long-term contract with Russia arrives at Dahej

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The first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) under GAIL (India) Limited's long-term contract with Russia arrived at the LNG Terminal of Petronet LNG Limited (PLL) in Dahej, Gujarat today.
 
The cargo is part of the contract signed by GAIL with Gazprom Marketing & Trading Singapore (GMTS) of Russia. The LNG vessel “LNG Kano” carried 3.4 TBTU of LNG, a press release from GAIL said.
 
The cargo was received by Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan in Dahej. Russian Trade Commissioner in New Delhi and senior officials of Gazprom were present on the  occasion.
 
Mr. Pradhan said that the starting of LNG imports from Russia has added a new dimension to the  bilateral relations between the two countries.
 
He pointed out that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin had placed special emphasis on energy cooperation between the two countries, which has taken shape of an "energy bridge" between the two countries. Today’s arrival of the first LNG cargo from Russia is an example of this growing strategic partnership, he sai.
 
Mr. Pradhan said Russia had emerged as a long-term source for India’s hydrocarbon imports. He said LNG imports from Russia will go a long way in mitigating the risks arising out of geo-political uncertainties. He said the government is committed towards transforming India into a gas-based economy. To realize this aspiration, investments are being made for augmenting natural gas infrastructure, including pipelines, LNG import terminals and City Gas Distribution networks.
 
GAIL became the first Indian public-sector company from India to source LNG from Russian side on a long term basis. It has contracted to import 2.5 MMTPA of LNG from Gazprom Marketing and Trading Singapore’s (GMTS) under this arrangement.
 
In the last few years, Indian companies have made investment of more than $ 10 billion in acquiring varying stakes in strategic Russian projects Sakhalin-1, Vankorneft and Taas-Yuryakh. On the other hand, a Russian company-led consortium has committed an investment of $ 13 billion in Essar Oil in 2016.
 
Russia is currently the world’s largest crude oil and second largest gas producer in the world. India is the world’s third largest energy consumer and fourth largest importer of LNG. Russia has potential to be a significant supplier for Indian hydrocarbon demand in the coming years, the release added.
 
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Governor an important link in the federal structure, says Kovind

 
Kovind, Naidu, Modi attend Governors' Conference
 
 
President Ram Nath Kovind today said as per the Constitution, the Governor occupies an exalted place in the scheme of governance as a mentor and guide to the state government and an important link in the federal structure.
 
Delivering the inaugural address at the two-day Conference of Governors and Lt. Governors at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mr Kovind said, “The people of the state view the office of the Governor and the Raj Bhavan as a fount of ideas and values.
 
He said in the previous conference, various issues related to infrastructure, public services, higher education in the States and skill development were discussed and extremely useful and valuable suggestions were received.
 
A Committee of Governors constituted at that meeting had submitted its report in January. The report envisages the role of Governors as “Change Agents” in society, he added.
 
Mr Kovind said that, while drafting the agenda for the Conference, the central focus has been to sensitise the participants to the programmes being implemented for the benefit of those citizens who have been left behind in the development journey.
 
“As many as 115 Aspirational Districts, across various states, have committed themselves to speedy development. There will be a presentation and discussion on the schemes being implemented in these districts. Understanding this background will help you guide a spectrum of stakeholders in their efforts to work for the welfare of the poor, women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, farmers and young people.
 
“There are approximately 100 million people in our country who belong to the Scheduled Tribes. A majority of this population lives in regions that are covered under the Fifth and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. As Governors, you can help in the shaping of a roadmap for the betterment of lives of our fellow citizens, who have not benefited as much as expected from our development journey,” Mr Kovind said.
 
Referring to the youth, he pointed out that 69% of all universities were under the purview of state governments. About 94% of students enrolled for higher education study in these universities. Governors are the Chancellors of most of these universities.
 
In their capacity as Chancellors of state universities, it is for them to provide the necessary impetus and inspiration to these institutions and to enhance the level of scholarship. With the instruments of their office and with their rich experience in public life, Governors are ideally equipped for this responsibility, he said.
 
The President said the Governors can help ensure that admissions of students and appointments of teachers in state universities are completed well in time and in a transparent manner. They can also help ensure that examinations, declaration of results and convocations take place as scheduled. It is for them to inspire state universities to maintain this discipline and integrity.
 
The Conference will discuss important thematic issues in various sessions which include briefings and presentations on flagship programmes of the Government and on internal security; higher education in state universities and skill development for employability; steps taken on the report of Committee of Governors, constituted during the 48th Conference of Governors; and commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
 
A special session on Union Territories will also be held on June 5 at which Lt. Governors/Administrators of Union Territories will discuss the status of implementation of various flagship programmes.
 
Apart from the Governors and Lt. Governors of all States and Union Territories, the Vice-President, Prime Minister, Union Ministers of Home Affairs, External Affairs, Human Resource Development, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Minister of State for Culture and the Vice-Chairman and CEO of NITI Aayog and other senior officials from various Ministries are participating in the Conference.
 
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ED attaches Sterling Biotech properties worth Rs 4,700 crore

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday said it has attached properties worth Rs 4,700 crore in a Rs 5,000-crore bank fraud case involving Gujarat-based pharmaceutical company Sterling Biotech.
 
The Directorate has attached properties of Sterling Biotech in Mumbai and Ahmedabad under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, an ED official told IANS.
 
The official said the attached assets include around 4,000 acres of immovable properties, plant machinery, around 200 bank accounts of various companies and accounts of promoters, shares worth Rs 6.67 crore and various high-end luxury cars.
 
The ED action comes after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lodged an FIR against Sterling Biotech, its directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, Chartered Accountant Hemant Hathi, Anup Prakash Garg and some unidentified persons in connection with the alleged bank fraud.
 
Sterling Biotech had taken loans of over Rs 5,000 crore from a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank which turned into non-performing assets. The total pending dues of the group companies stood at Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016, said the CBI FIR.
 
The Directorate said that during the probe, it found that "certain entries" in a diary seized by the Income Tax Department in 2011 showed cash payments amounting to Rs 1.52 crore made to one "Garg, Director, Andhra Bank" between 2008 and 2009 by the Sandesara brothers.
 
On January 13, the ED arrested Garg. The agency also arrested a Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan in connection with the case in November 2017.
 
According to the ED officials, the Sandesaras had set up more than 300 shell and benami companies in India and abroad, which were used to divert and misutilise loan funds. The modus operandi of money laundering involved formation of shell or benami companies, manipulating balance sheets, inflating turnovers, insider shares trading, etc. 
 
"These shell and benami companies were controlled by the Sandesaras through dummy directors, who were or are employees of the various companies of Sterling Group," the official said.
 
According to the agency officials, a major breakthrough in the case came when the agency was successful in recovering truckloads of material connected to the formation and management of the various shell and benami companies, such as original cheque books, rubber stamps, company seals, original property documents, original PAN cards, and more than 10 lakh pages of other incriminating documents.
 
"This material was recovered from a room in Jogeshwari (East), Mumbai, where it was shifted from various premises and was being concealed to evade seizure," the official said.
 
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To date, the ED has carried out more than 50 searches at various premises in multiple cities including Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Surat, in connection with the case.
 
The official said the siphoned off loan funds were used to buy properties in the names of various companies, to purchase shares of Sterling Biotech Ltd and Sterling International Enterprises Ltd to attract market fancy and project a healthy picture of the companies, and to purchase luxury cars including Porsche, Range Rover, Audi, Mercedes, BMW etc.
 
Besides, the loan money was transferred to other companies' accounts, from where an amount of about Rs 140 crore was withdrawn. Such shell or benami companies included Dipraj Trading Ltd., Embio Trading Ltd., Gatsby Trading Ltd., Newport Enterprise Ltd., Raj Bones Ltd., which were also used for various personal purposes such as purchase of jewellery.
 
Some of the diverted loan funds were also paid to public servants. 
 
The official said that the Sandesaras are into the oil business and own several rigs, barges and oilfields across Nigeria. Apart from this, they have several business concerns in Mauritius, the UAE, British Virgin Islands, Seychelles and the USA, among other countries. 
 
"More than 50 foreign bank accounts and several other assets and properties located abroad, related to the Sterling Group, are also under the ED scanner," the official added.
 
IANS
 
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Education should promote innovation, freedom in thinking: Kovind

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The objective of education should be to promote innovation and freedom in thinking, according to President Ram Nath Kovind.
 
Addressing the annual convocation of the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University here yesterday, Mr Kovind said besides building capacities for a professional career, education should also make students develop a respect for the sentiments of others as well as an inclination to work for the welfare of society.
 
He said the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University is named after renowned Gujarati literary figure Narmadashankar Dave or Veer Narmad, who was not only a poet and writer but also a social reformer. He was a nation builder who shaped Gujarati and Indian identity and worked for female empowerment, widow remarriage and similar causes.
 
The President said the region of south Gujarat is an economic engine for the state. And within this region, Surat makes a significant contribution. The textiles and diamond industries are special to Surat and attract workers from across the country. That is why the city is sometimes called “mini--India”.
 
As the leading educational institution here, the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University bears an important responsibility. The large tribal student population that the University serves also adds to its importance.
 
Earlier in the day, the President attended a function to felicitate family members of cadaver organ donors. The function was organised by the NGO Donate Life. Addressing the gathering, Mr Kovind called for motivating people for organ donation as a service to humanity.
 
Later, at another function, he presented the ‘Santokbaa Humanitarian Award’, instituted by the SRK Foundation, to former ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar and Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the President said he was happy to note that the business community in Surat, which was well known across the world, was supportive of philanthropic and social welfare efforts.
 
He appreciated the efforts of Govind Dholakia of SRK Exports for maintaining this tradition and instituting the awards.
 
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Kovind to visit Gujarat and Maharashtra on May 29-30

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President Ram Nath Kovind will pay a two-day visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra on May 29-30, an official press release said.
 
Tomorrow, Mr. Kovind will be the chief guest at a felicitation function of cadaver organ donor family members in Surat. On the same day, he will also grace the annual convocation of the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat, and present ‘Santokbaa Humanitarian Award’ to Mr. A. S. Kiran Kumar, former Chairman, ISRO and Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Laureate.
 
On May 30, the President will review the passing out parade of the 134th course of the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla near Pune in Maharashtra. 
 
He will also unveil a statue of Matoshree Ramabai Bhimrao Ambedkar at the Matoshree Ramabai Bhimrao Ambedkar Garden in Pune and inaugurate the Sadhu Vaswani International School, Pune, before returning to Delhi, the release added.
 
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18 dead as truck overturns near Ahmedabad in Gujarat

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At least 18 labourers died when a cement-laden truck in which they were travelling overturned at Bavalyali village, about 100 km from here, on the Bhavnagar-Ahmedabad highway in the early hours today.
 
Ahmedabad Rural Police officials told NetIndian over the telephone that the truck was on its way from Pipavav port to Ahmedabad when the mishap occurred around 2.30 am today.
 
About five or six others who suffered injuries were rushed to nearby hospitals, they said.
 
The 18 deceased had died on the spot and their bodies were being sent for post-mortem examination, they said.
 
Senior administration and police officials, along with other emergency personnel, have reached the scene to oversee the relief efforts, they added.
 
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Ahmed Patel meets Gujarat Governor over land acquisition for bullet train

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Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat Ahmed Patel on Wednesday led a delegation of state party leaders and farmers to Gujarat Governor O.P. Kohli to submit a memorandum on various issues related to acquisition of land for the Bullet Train project and those concerning farmers and Panchayati Raj institutions.
 
"We are not opposing development, the Congress has never opposed development. Our track record of the last 25-30 years shows that we ensured balanced development of both agriculture and industries. It has never been one at the cost of the other. But the NDA government is bent upon industries' development at the cost of farmers," Patel told the media.
 
He alleged that after failing to bring in an ordinance to amend the land acquisition laws and an all-round outcry against the move, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government stuck to the law brought by the UPA regime on land acquisition.
 
However, they they made amendments to the parts of law coming under the purview of states and did away with the clauses related to public hearing, social impact, and so on, he said.
 
"We oppose such amendments. Public hearings are announced hours before the hearing, making it impossible for the farmers to attend. We demand that for the Bullet Train project, either the land available with the railways should be used or the land meant for the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)."
 
Patel said that the Congress would also support the farmers' movement to be organised in Palghar, Maharashtra, on June 3 to protest against the acquisition of land for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project.
 
Political parties from Maharashtra have been opposing a recent land survey by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd, which has been entrusted the task to implement the Bullet Train project proposed between Ahmedabad and Mumbai with Japanese collaboration.
 
The Bullet train is envisaged to travel through Thane and Palghar districts of Maharashtra. This has been opposed by the All India Kisan Sabha, which has launched an agitation against the project.
 
In the memorandum to the Governor, the Congress also alleged that the ruling BJP government in the state was not adhering to court verdicts on maintaining autonomy of the Panchayati Raj institutions.
 
"People had no power in either Taluka (Block) panchayats or district panchayats, as those are being run through executive orders of Taluka Development Officers (TDO) and District Development Officers (DDO), who act in line with the wishes of their political bosses," the memorandum says.
 
The allegations come on a day when the Gujarat High Court ruled that the members of the panchayat would not be able to bring about a "no-confidence" motion against the Sarpanch in the first year and for six months against Taluka panchayat presidents, as it would be against the spirit of the Constitution.
 
IANS
 
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Fire breaks out at ISRO's R&D centre in Ahmedabad

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A major fire broke out in the simulator of the Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Thursday.
 
Around 25 fire tenders fought the blaze. The complex is a major research and development centre of the ISRO.
 
A security officer was rushed to a hospital for asphyxiation.
 
"The fire was reported around 1.30 p.m by a CISF officer," Ahmedabad District Collector Vikrant Pandey told IANS. "The exact cause of the fire is not yet known."
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Rajnath reiterates Centre’s resolve to promote cooperative federalism

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has reiterated the Centre’s resolve to promote cooperative federalism with the states.
 
Chairing the 23rd meeting of the Western Zonal Council here yesterday, the Minister stated that the Zonal Councils were established under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 with the objective to develop the habit of cooperative working among the States and between the Centre and the States. 
 
The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning.
 
During the last three years or so, two Council meetings and three Standing Committee meetings of the Western Zonal Council were held.  In these Council meetings, 41 items had been discussed and 31 resolved, he said.
 
During this period, including other Zones (Eastern, Central, Northern and Southern), 10 Council meetings and 15 Standing Committee meetings were held.  In these meetings including yesterday’s meeting about 653 items had been discussed and approximately 411 issues had been resolved.
 
The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Gujarat, Ministers of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Administrator of the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and senior officers from Central and State Governments.
 
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, in his welcome address, emphasised the need for coordination and cooperation of the Western Zonal States on the issue of marine security. 
 
He also referred to the introduction of the virtual teaching in about 8,000 classes, providing 5,000 policemen with smartphones having a record of criminals, the appointment of 33% women in police force and the establishment of a state-of-the-art Forensic University in the State.
 
The Council reviewed the progress of the implementation of the recommendations made at the last meeting relating to surplus lands of various organisations of Central Government to be made available for achieving objectives of “Housing for All: 2022” and issues relating to Aadhaar. 
 
Thereafter, it took up issues which relate to stamp duty on Imports, problems pertaining to parking in JN Port, non-signing of Power Purchase Agreements by Maharashtra with Renewable Energy Operators, implementation of the provisions of the PESA Act, capacity building for developing Trauma Care facilities, full immunization coverage, National Aids Control Programme, and issues relating to Input Tax Credit on Natural Gas, an official press release said.
 
Out of the 16 items (including sub-items) discussed, 14 were resolved in the meeting with mutual understanding and consensus, it said.
 
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ED attaches property worth Rs 1,122 cr of Vadodara's Diamond Power

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday attached property worth Rs 1,122 crore belonging to Vadodara-based DPIL firm in connection with a Rs 2,654.40 crore bank fraud case.
 
The ED has also attached some belongings of promoter-directors of the Diamond Power Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. -- Suresh Narain Bhatnagar, his two sons Amit Suresh Bhatnagar and Sumit Suresh Bhatnagar -- under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). 
 
DPIL, which deals in cables and other electrical equipment, is alleged to have availed credit facilities fraudulently since 2008, leaving behind a total outstanding debt of Rs 2,654.40 crore as of June 29, 2016 sanctioned by a consortium of banks.
 
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is also probing corruption charges in the case, had on April 18 arrested the three from Udaipur in Rajasthan nearly 23 days after it filed an FIR against them. 
 
The ED is probing financial irregularities under money laundering case it has filed based on the CBI FIR. 
 
On April 9, the ED had also conducted raids at the corporate office, factory premises and the residences of the directors of DPIL. 
 
The CBI had on March 26, filed a case against DPIL and its directors for defrauding the consortium of 11 banks. The loan availed by them was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2016-17. 
 
The company managed to get term loans and credit facilities though it figured in the Reserve Bank of India's list of defaulters and the caution list of Export Credit Guarantee Corp of India (ECGCI) at the time of initial sanction of credit limits by the consortium.
 
Bank of India, which tops the list with Rs 670.51 crore of loans, is followed by Bank of Baroda (Rs 348.99 crore), ICICI (Rs 279.46 crore), State Bank of India (Rs 266.37 crore), Axis Bank (Rs 255.32 crore), Allahabad Bank (Rs 227.96), Dena Bank (Rs 177.19 crore), Corporation Bank (109.12 crore), Exim Bank of India (Rs 81.92 crore), IOB (Rs 71.59 crore) and IFCI (58.53 crore). 
 
The CBI FIR said DPIL, through its founder and directors associated in the criminal conspiracy with unidentified bank officials of various banks, cheated those banks by way of misappropriating public funds through falsification of accounts, creation of false documents, forgery of records and knowingly used such records as genuine. 
 
IANS
 
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Gujarat Police arrests SP in extortion, loot case

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Amreli district Superintendent of Police (SP) Jagdish Patel has been arrested in a case of extortion and loot, following the questioning of an Inspector earlier arrested in the case, the Gujarat Police said on Monday.
 
"We picked up the Amreli SP after interrogating arrested Crime Branch Inspector Anant Patel," Director General of Police (CID-Crime) Ashish Bhatia told the media here.
 
Police sources said that SP Jagdish Patel had stayed away from office after the arrest of Inspector Patel. The CID-Crime summoned Jagdish Patel for questioning two days ago but picked him from his residence in Amreli late Sunday night after he did not respond.
 
Surat builder Sailesh Bhatt had alleged that he was abducted by the Amreli Local Crime Branch (LCB) Inspector Anant Patel, who forcibly made him transfer 200 Bitcoin currency of Rs 12 crore from his account and pay up Rs 32 crore in cash. 
 
Bhatt said there were other policemen from the Amreli LCB who helped Patel and kept him confined at a farmhouse near Gandhinagar. He was then forced to share his passwords and code for the transfer of Bitcoins.
 
Amreli LCB Constables Babu Der and Vijay and Surat-based advocate Ketan Patel were also arrested in the case earlier.
 
Anant Patel, on the run since a police complaint filed earlier this month, was arrested by the Crime branch last week. 
 
Anant Patel is said to have named the SP during his interrogation, and claimed that he acted on the Amreli SP's orders.
 
The CID-Crime has constituted an SIT to probe the case.
 
IANS
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Settle matters with The Wire outside court, SC again tells Jay Shah

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The Supreme Court on Monday again asked BJP President Amit Shah's son Jay Shah to settle his defamation suit with The Wire even as the news portal said a firm no to an apology but agreed to carry a clarification.
 
"This is a matter which can be solved" instead of coming to the court, said a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as the court took up for hearing the plea against a civil suit filed by Jay Shah against the news portal.
 
Making it clear that the court will not suffocate the freedom of press, Chief Justice Misra said: "I believe in freedom of press. I don't restrain the media. The court cannot be seen as gagging the press."
 
As senior counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for Jay Shah, complained about an alleged slant given by the news portal to a story regarding Jay Shah's company's revenue, Chief Justice Misra questioned him: "Are you responding to my learned brother's (Justice Chandrachud) statement on settling the matter?"
 
"You are in public life. There are pros and cons... they will put a little bit of slant and masala...," Justice Chandrachud said. 
 
Drawing court attention towards photographs and alleged innuendos that the "moment a particular person comes to power, becomes the Prime Minister, his fortunes soar", Kaul said that Amit Shah's son was not in public life. 
 
The news portal's counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan ruled out an apology but said the clarifications they want are already there. However, she left the courtroom for considering further clarifications.
 
At this, Justice Chandrachud observed: "They are willing to carry any clarification you want. That is as fair as it can be."
 
The Foundation for Independent Journalism, which owns the news portal, has moved the top court against Jay Shah who has filed a civil suit to seek damages of Rs 100 crore.
 
Earlier, the Gujarat High Court declined to quash the case.
 
On April 18, while hearing the news portal's plea against criminal defamation, the apex court had asked both parties to settle the matter amicably.
 
On Monday, the court said that both the cases involving criminal defamation and civil defamation would be taken up on July 9.
 
During a hearing on March 15, the top court put on hold the proceedings before a magisterial court. The stay was extended on April 12 with a further extension on April 18 till July 9.
 
The defamation case is rooted in an article by journalist Rohini Singh on Jay Shah's company, which claimed that the firm's turnover grew exponentially after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.
 
IANS
 
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Three held for Surat rape, murder

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Three persons, including the alleged main perpetrator, involved in the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in Surat have been arrested, the Gujarat government said on Friday.
 
Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja told the media here that Gujarat Police arrested the alleged key perpetrator from a village in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, who will be brought to Gujarat.
 
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that Surat Police had arrested three persons in the case. All accused are believed to be originally from Rajasthan. 
 
Police had found the body of the girl with over 86 injuries dumped in the bushes near Jeeav Road in Pandesara area of Surat on April 6. An autopsy revealed that she was brutally raped and tortured for days before her murder.
 
A case of rape was registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
 
The Minister said that over 400 personnel of Surat police and Ahmedabad Crime Branch worked on the case. 
 
Police analysed the mobile data and CCTV footage from a 3-km radius of the spot from where the body was found. The case was finally cracked after police zeroed in on CCTV footage of a black car moving suspiciously in the area. 
 
Earlier, police suspected that the girl hailed from either Odisha, West Bengal or Jharkhand. An Andhra Pradesh man had come forward to claim the girl was his daughter. Surat police even carried out a DNA test to verify his claim.
 
"On April 9, a woman's decomposed body was found lying a few km from the spot where the girl was found dead. We believe she is the girl's mother. We will carry out a DNA test," Jadeja said.
 
"We will appoint a special public prosecutor to pursue the case in a fast-track court," Jadeja said.
 
IANS
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