Modi inaugurates LNG terminal, pipeline projects in Anjar, chocolate plant in Anand

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the Mundra LNG terminal, the Anjar-Mundra pipeline project and the Palanpur-Pali-Barmer pipeline project at Anjar. In a separate function in Anand, he inaugurated modern food processing facilities, including Amul’s ultra-modern chocolate plant.  
At the inauguration of the LNG terminal, the Prime Minister said Gujarat was emerging as an LNG hub of India. Asserting that a strong energy sector was needed for the growth of any country, he said, “We cannot alleviate poverty if we are energy poor.”
When the first LNG terminal came up in Gujarat, the people were surprised. Now, the State was poised to get a fourth LNG terminal, he added.
The Prime Minister said the aspirations of people were rising. They want i-ways, gas grids, water grids, and optical fibre networks in addition to conventional infrastructure.
“There are ample opportunities in the tourism sector and the world is keen to come to India. We have seen in Kutch too, how the White Rann has become the cynosure of all eyes from across the world," he said.
He also spoke of the steps taken by the Union Government to make flying more affordable and improve air connectivity.
Referring to the efforts made to ensure electrification of villages and the work being done towards electrifying every single household, he said, “We want to bring qualitative changes in the lives of the common citizen of India.”
At Anand, Mr Modi said the development projects inaugurated today augur well for the cooperative sector. “The Amul brand is known globally and has become an inspiration worldwide. Amul is not only about milk processing, but an excellent model of empowerment.”
The Prime Minister said that, through cooperatives, Sardar Patel showed a way where neither Government nor industrialists call the shots. It is a unique model, where the people matter. Endeavours in the cooperative sector in Gujarat have helped the people, especially the farmers. He also referred to Sardar Patel's emphasis on urban development.
Referring to India's 75th anniversary of independence in 2022, the Prime Minister said, “India is doing well in milk processing but can do even better. The time has come to give importance to innovation and value addition. In this context, he also spoke of the production of honey.”

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Gujarat: Fasting Patidar leader Hardik Patel discharged from hospital

Patidar leader Hardik Patel, whose indefinite fast continued on the 16th day on Sunday, was discharged from a private hospital and taken home from where he intends to continue with his indefinite hunger strike.
A key community organisation pledged support to the agitating leader while processions were taken out in north Gujarat to back him.
After the state government refused permission for any venue for his agitation, the 25-year-old Patidar leader on August 25 launched an indefinite fast from his home to press for his demands for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for his community, debt waiver for farmers and release of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Alpesh Kathiria, who has been jailed on sedition charge.
As his health deteriorated, Patel was first shifted to the Sola Civil Hospital on Friday and later moved to a private trust-run SGVP Holistic Hospital. He was discharged on Sunday but he continued his fast from the hospital bed.
Before his discharge, Patel told his supporters through a Facebook Live message that he would continue his hunger strike from his residence. 
He, meanwhile, also alleged in a tweet that a police officer had threatened to kill him when he was brought out of the hospital.
Leading Patidar organisation, Shri Umiya Mataji Sansthan, Unjha, on Sunday held a meeting and resolved to support Hardik Patel in his agitation till the state agreed to his demands. 
"We pledged support to Hardik on his demand for debt waiver and release of Alpesh Kathiria," Sansthan's Chairman Dilip Patel told reporters. 
As a mark of solidarity, a large number of people from the Patidar community took out a march from Patan to Unjha, a distance of 30 km, in the Patidar-dominated Mehsana district in north Gujarat in support of Hardik Patel.
Congress MLAs Lalit Vasoya and Asha Patel joined the "padyatra". People walked from Patan to offer prayers to their family deity, goddess Umiya, at the temple in Unjha.
A posse of police was deployed at the entrance to Greenwoods housing colony where Hardik Patel resides, and prevented mediapersons from following him. Some reporters were even pushed around and baton-charged by the police.
Ahmedabad Police Commissioner A. K. Singh later ordered an inquiry into police action against journalists after their protest while Joint Commissioner of Police J. K. Bhatt spoke to them to cool the tempers.
In his Twitter message, Hardik Patel condemned the "attack" on the media. He said the deployment of police reminded him of "angrez hukumat" (British rule).

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Former President Pranab Mukherjee to teach IIMA students

Former President Pranab Mukherjee will teach students of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) who will be attending a new course called "Public Policy for Inclusive Development of India".
The course will be taken by students across the PGPM (Post Graduate Programme in Management), FABM (Food and Agri-Business Management) and PGPX (Post Graduate Program in Management for Executives) programmes at the institute.
The new course is housed within the JSW School of Public Policy at IIMA and Mr. Mukherjee will be the faculty for at least 12 of 22 sessions, a press release from IIMA said.
Prof. Vijaya Sherry Chand, Chairperson of JSW School of Public Policy and Prof. Anil Gupta will handle other sessions of the course.
The course deals with a broad overview of the interplay between the desired end of inclusive development and the system of parliamentary democracy in India.
The pedagogy draws on the experiences of Mr. Mukherjee to reflect on the theory and practice of public policy for the inclusive development of India. 
During the last five decades, Mr. Mukherjee has not only had a ringside view of Indian politics and governance, but has shaped many public policies and triggered off institutional innovations to execute many of these. 
"The course provides a unique opportunity for students to learn from the deep insights that Mr. Mukherjee alone can share with complete authenticity and conviction.
Mr. Mukherjee will be delivering lectures on the following broad themes:
-- Constitutional Provisions for Socio-economic Inclusivity: Theory and Parliamentary Practice
-- Policy and Institutional Intervention for Financial Inclusion: A Legacy to be Built Upon
-- Articulating Policy and Institutional Agenda for Future Transformation of India
Out of these, certain sessions will also include presentations of selected student projects that address developmental and institutional challenges identified in the beginning of the course.
Prof. Chand said, “Listening to Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, our students should develop a better understanding of the politics of inclusive development. In a complex democratic society such as ours, technically ideal solutions to public problems have to be balanced by the management of conflicts that are inevitable when there are multiple and contradictory pulls. This should also help in understanding why the idea of inclusion goes beyond narrow economic perspectives on poverty and its alleviation.”
After leaving his office as President, Mr. APJ Abdul Kalam had also taken up teaching positions at three IIMs, including IIMA. At IIMA, Mr. Kalam taught a course titled “Globalising and Resurgent India through Innovative Transform”.

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Day 14 of fast: Hardik in hospital following breathing trouble

Patidar agitation spearhead Hardik Patel was on Friday rushed to a hospital on the 14th day of his indefinite fast as he complained of difficulty in breathing.
He was admitted to the Government Civil Hospital in Sola a day after he gave up even taking water in protest against the government ignoring his demands.
His associates in the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), who had given a 24-hour ultimatum till Thursday to the Bharatiya Janata Party government to hold negotiations with him and stated that Patel would give up water, rushed him to the hospital.
The 25-year-old leader has lost over 20 kg in the past two weeks. His kidney and liver had been affected by his continuous fast, PAAS leader Manoj Panara told reporters.

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Former Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt arrested in 1996 case

Sanjiv Bhatt
Sanjiv Bhatt
The CID Crime Branch of Gujarat Police on Wednesday arrested dismissed IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a 1996 case relating to falsely framing a lawyer in a narcotics peddling case.
The CID picked up Bhatt and seven others, including two former police officers, following directives from the Gujarat High Court. 
"Sanjiv Bhatt was initially detained for questioning and shortly after that he was arrested by CID while others are still under detention," Director General of Police (CID) Ashish Bhatia said.
Going by the details of the case, lawyer Sumersingh Rajpurhoit was arrested by Bhatt in 1996 with a kg of drugs and booked in a case under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. 
Bhatt was then serving as the District Superintendent of Police in Banaskantha district.
Police claimed that the drugs were found from the room of a hotel that was occupied by Rajpurohit. However, an investigation by Rajasthan Police later revealed that the lawyer was falsely implicated in the case. 
This, Rajasthan Police claimed, was done to compel the lawyer to let go a disputed property in Pali district in Rajasthan.
The Rajasthan Police also claimed that Rajpurohit was abducted by Banaskantha Police from his residence at Pali. 
Following this investigation, former Banaskantha Police Inspector I. B. Vyas moved the Gujarat High Court in 1999 demanding a detailed probe in to the incident. 
The court in June handed over the probe to the CID and asked it to complete the investigation within three months.
Bhatt, who has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media platforms, has had several spats with the ruling establishment in the state since the 2002 communal riots. 
In 2011, Bhatt even filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, accusing Modi of being complicit in the 2002 riots.
Bhatt was dismissed from the Indian Police Service in 2015 for "unauthorized absence" from service. Bhatt even met fasting Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel last week and extend his support for Hardik's cause.
"I have been fighting for justice for over two decades now and those responsible for my suffering have been arrested today," lawyer Rajpurohit told reporters.

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Former Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt detained

The Gujarat Police on Wednesday detained for questioning former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt here in a case relating to falsely framing a lawyer in a criminal case in 1998.
The Gujarat CID, which took Bhatt into custody following directives from the Gujarat High Court, also detained six other people, including two former police officers. 
Sources said they were all being questioned and might subsequently be arrested.
When Bhatt was serving as the Superintendent of Police in Banaskantha, in North Gujarat, he was accused of trying to frame a lawyer in a fake case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. 
Bhatt was dismissed from the Indian Police Services (IPS) in 2015 for taking on the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi's administration for the 2002 Gujarat riots. 
In 2011, Bhatt had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court accusing Modi of being complicit in the 2002 riots.

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Ahmedabad bank files defamation suits against Congress chief, Surjewala

The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank on Monday filed two criminal defamation complaints against Congress President Rahul Gandhi and party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala in a court here for their tweets regarding deposits made in the bank after demonetisation.
The complaints pertain to Surjewala's press statement about alleged conversion of over Rs 745 crore in old currency in five days following demonetisation on November 8, 2016. 
He had later backed it with Twitter messages on the same. Similarly, Gandhi had posted tweets on the matter. 
The court of Additional Metropolitan Magistrate ordered an inquiry under Section 22 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and posted the matter for September 17.
Pointing out that BJP President Amit Shah is a bank director, the Congress leaders had alleged that it was involved in a "national scam" after demonetisation.
Gandhi and Surjewala's tweets on June 22 had targeted both the BJP and Shah.
The cooprative bank and its Chairman Ajay Patel, through their counsel S.V. Raju, contested the allegations in the defamation suits and claimed that the allegations were false and defamatory.
IANS broke the story on June 22 about the bank netting the highest deposits among such cooperative banks of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were abruptly demonetised on November 8, 2016.
The information on the matter accessed under the Right to Information Act by a Mumbai-based RTI activist said that the ADCB had secured deposits of Rs 745.59 crore of the spiked notes in just five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the demonetisation announcement. 
On November 14, 2016, five days after demonetisation, all district cooperative banks were banned from accepting deposits of the banned currency from public amid fears that black money could be laundered through this route.

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Police pick up Hardik from home to foil his protest fast

The Gujarat Crime Branch on Sunday detained firebrand Patidar agitation spearhead Hardik Patel from his residence, hours before he could undertake a day's token fast atop vehicles in Nikol industrial suburb here.
He was to hold the day-long dharna in protest against the government not giving him permission for his indefinite fast demanding reservation for his community in government jobs and educational institutions under OBC quota and loan waiver to farmers. 
Patel had vowed to re-launch his agitation that had lost steam after the December Assembly elections on August 25, the same day in 2015 and at the same venue, GMDC Grounds in Ahmedabad, when he addressed a mammoth public rally. 
A posse of police force swooped down at Patel's Ahmedabad residence in the morning and after a scuffle whisked him and several of his supporters away to the Ahmedabad Crime Branch. 
Along with him, the police also detained his close associates Manoj Panara, Alpesh Kathiriya and Dharmesh Malviya. 
The police claimed that Hardik Patel was planning to hold the fast without any official permission. Patel had earlier announced he would sit atop parked vehicles in Nikol. The police have registered cases against him under IPC section 144 and 189.
The action sparked off a chain of statewide protests from the Patidar community who have threatened to disrupt the programmes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 23 if Patel was denied permission to begin his indefinite fast from August 25 at the GMDC Grounds in Ahmedabad. 
Angry Patidars staged roadblocks at various places across the state and police had to intervene to disperse them. 
Meanwhile, Gujarat Pradesh Congress President Amit Chavda and Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani condemned the police action against Hardik Patel. 

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Gujarat High Court stays Hardik Patel's jail term

The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday suspended the jail term awarded by a trial court to Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel in a 2015 rioting case. The stay order, passed by Justice S. H. Vora, would be valid till the next hearing.
"The High Court has given its order in a case filed by me. Now whatever process is required in the High Court, we will do that," Hardik Patel told reporters soon after the order. "I have been maintaining that we have not carried out any illegal activity that we should be punished."
A mob of up to 500 people had turned violent and vandalized the then BJP legislator Rushikesh Patel's office during a rally organised in 2015 to demand job and educational quota for the Patel community. 
Other than Hardik, two others who got jail term include Sardar Patel Group leader Laljibhai Patel and A. K. Patel. Fourteen others who were also booked for rioting, arson, damage to property and unlawful assembly, were, acquitted by the trial court.
"We have been working for truth and if I raise the issues of people and you want to dub Hardik as a rebel, then I am a rebel," Hardik said adding that he would undertake an indefinite fast on August 25, the third anniversary of the first mega rally of Patels in 2015.
"The government may have converted the venue of my fast into a parking lot but there are 11 other venues nearby. I would meet Police Commissioner and Collector on Friday and this would be the last warning for them to agree or disagree. We are seeking permission as per our democratic rights and hope that they would agree," Hardik said.

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A Japanese town in Gujarat soon

The Gujarat government has decided to develop a township for Japanese expats to further promote flow of investment from Japan that has filled the state's first country-specific industrial estate in less than two years.
"We have declared about 700 hectares (1,700 acre) as Japanese township in Khoraj village, five km from the existing Sanand Industrial Estate," said D. Thara, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC).
The 120-hectare Japanese Industrial Park in Mandal, 90 km from Ahmedabad, has got saturated with 13 companies either under construction or already operating. The state saw a need for a larger industrial area and a place for Japanese to call home.
"Now that we are having a traction from Japanese companies, the Japanese will need a place to stay, to establish their culture. They will need a comfort zone," Thara said and added the township will have all amenities like schools, hospitals and market.
The Japanese government is working with the Gujarat government to develop the Japanese Industrial Township, which will have residential, commercial and industrial areas. While the state is constructing major roads, Japan will design the township.
"Japan is planning to engage industrial park developers like Toyota Tsusho. We will give them land and they will develop and give it to Japanese companies. In a plug-and-play environment, the firms can start production and then purchase land," she said.
Eight Japanese companies have already expressed their interest in setting up their units at the township in Khoraj. Apart from the lure of homes and the homelike ambience, Khoraj is centrally located and just 25 km from Ahmedabad.
"A minimum of 15,000 to 20,000 direct jobs will be generated and you can expect five times of that in generation of indirect jobs in areas like services, transport, goods, banking and food. We are talking about one lakh jobs in this township," she said.
The flow of Japanese companies to Gujarat, alone or in a joint venture with Indian companies, has instilled a new work culture, discipline and efficient use of resources, particularly land, apart from the sharing of advanced technologies. 
"The number of residences will depend on the number of industries and the number of workers and officers who will come from Japan. There is no question of constraint of land as the residential area will only grow in height (vertically) after this," she said.
Thara will lead a delegation to Japan in October-end. The purpose of the visit will be to invite Japanese delegations for "Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit" to be held on January 18-20, 2019. Like earlier years, this time too Japan will be the country partner.
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Hardik Patel gets bail, says fight to continue

A local court in Visnagar town of North Gujarat sentenced firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel and two others to a two-year jail term and slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 in a 2015 rioting case. The court later granted bail to the three.
The case refers to mob violence that resulted in then BJP legislator Rushikesh Patel's office being vandalized during a rally in 2015, organised for reservation for the Patel (or Patidar) community in government jobs and educational institutions.
Hours after the sentence, Hardik Patel described the BJP rule in Gujarat as "Hitlershahi." "I am a sinner, if it is a sin to fight for social justice and rights. If those who fight for truth and their rights are rebels, then I am a rebel," he said in a statement on a social media platform on Wednesday.
"There was not a single witness who saw me where the incident took place. I respect the court's decision, but I will exercise my right to challenge it," he told reporters.
"What about action against policemen who unleashed terror on the agitating Patidars and their families after the August 2015 rally?" he asked. Patel was referring to the massive police crackdown after a rally on August 25, 2015, which led to the death of 14 Patel community members. 
"The BJP might think I would not be able to fight an election (in 2019) if I am in jail for two years, but let them take it that I am not here to fight elections," he said. "If I get an opportunity, I can contest an election," he added.
Patel said he would go ahead with his indefinite fast from August 25, the third anniversary of the Patels' rally, and re-launch his agitation. 
Besides Patel, the other two sentenced were Sardar Patel Group leader Laljibhai Patel and A K Patel. There were 14 others in the same case who were booked for rioting, arson, damage to property and unlawful assembly. However, they were let free.
The earlier ban on Hardik Patel from entering Mehsana district where Visnagar is located, however, remains in place.
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Hardik Patel gets 2 years in jail for rioting in 2015

A Gujarat court on Wednesday sentenced Patidar agitation spearhead Hardik Patel and two of his associates to two years in jail on charges of vandalising a BJP legislator's office in Mehsana district in 2015.
This was after a rally demanding reservations for Patidar youth in government jobs and educational institutions turned violent in Visnagar town. 
A mob of around 3,000 to 5,000 people vandalised BJP MLA Rushikesh Patel's office. 
In all, 17 people, including Hardik Patel, were charged with arson, rioting, and criminal conspiracy. 
Patel was arrested and released on bail, and subsequently barred by the court from entering Mehsana district. 
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Vaghela threatens to sever political ties with son who joins BJP

Hours after his son joined the BJP on Saturday, former Leader of Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela warned him that he should quit the saffron party within a week, else he would sever all political ties with him.
"I am not happy with the way Mahendrasinh joined the BJP. He should have consulted his supporters. I give him a deadline of one week to do that and quit the saffron party if the consensus is against his decision. Otherwise I will sever all my political ties with him," said the former Chief Minister.
Vaghela said he was aware about the move two-three days ago. "Mahendra had told me that BJP chief Amit Shah had been nudging him to join the BJP. I told him that he should first think of his supporters," said Shankersinh. He said he was surprised that Mahendrasinh switched over without informing anyone in the party.
Mahendrasinh, a former Congress legislator from Bayad in central Gujarat, had won the 2012 Assembly polls. But he quit the party before the Rajya Sabha elections in 2017 along with his father and 13 other legislators. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the party nominee for the seat, had barely scraped through due to cross-voting by the rebel MLAs.
Vaghela Jr. was expected to join the BJP before the 2017 Assembly elections, but he stayed away from contesting as his father led a little-known outfit, Jan Vikalp Morcha. Despite the Morcha contesting over 105 seats, none of its candidates made it to the 182-member Assembly. Most of them even lost their deposits. The Jan Vikalp Morcha is a non-entity now.
Talking about his next moves, Shankarsinh said he would call his party workers and decide. "I am in touch with non-BJP parties. Politically, I am active as general elections draw closer," he said. On whether he was approached by any party, he said: "I have not received any offers. But I don't take offers, I give offers."
Both BJP and Congress have been poaching on each other in the recent months. 
The announcement of Mahendrasinh joining saffron brigade was made by BJP state president Jitu Vaghani on Saturday morning, at the inauguration of a two-day Youth Parliament held at Karnavati University, situated on the outskirts of Gandhinagar. The youth Parliament was attended by BJP President Amit Shah, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, his deputy Nitin Patel and several other senior leaders.
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Gujarat BJP vice president quits after rape charge by Surat girl

Gujarat BJP vice-president and former legislator from Kutch Jayanti Bhanushali on Friday stepped down from his post after a 21-year-old girl from Surat filed a police complaint of rape and blackmail against him.
The complaint says that the girl came in contact with Bhanushali for her admission in a fashion designing college. She said Bhanushali had called her to Gandhinagar, where she alleged he raped her in a moving car, threatening her with a sharp weapon.
She claimed Bhanushali's men got a video made of her and later pressured her for sexual favours. According to the girl's complaint, Bhanushali's driver and others were also involved in the crime.
The same complainant had made similar allegations sometime back against the nephew of a former legislator, Sunil Bhanushali. However, Sunil Bhanushali alleged that the girl and her husband were demanding  a Rs 10-crore ransom.
The State BJP vice president has rubbished the allegations and claimed that this was a part of a conspiracy against him. In his resignation letter to state BJP president Jitu Vaghani, he said he would not resume his post until his innocence was proved in the case.
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Heavy rains claim 19 lives in one week in Gujarat

Heavy rains lead to flood-like situation in Gujarat's Valsad
As many as 19 people died in Gujarat following torrential rains during the past one week, even as the state government relocated more than 1,000 persons to safer places.
"Heavy rains have caused a total of 19 deaths in the state since last week. We also have reports of 84 cattle perishing in the rains. Around 978 persons from across the state, primarily South Gujarat, have been evacuated to safety," Manoj Kothari, Relief Commissioner, Gujarat, told reporters on Thursday.
"Many villages also do not have electricity but we are trying to restore power supply at the earliest," he said.
Navsari district in South Gujarat, which has been witnessing heavy rains this season, is the most affected in the state. The authorities have put around 10 villages in Navsari on alert, with a dozen others in danger of being marooned.
The state has deployed a total of fifteen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in the state, out of which four teams are in South Gujarat, four teams in Vadodara, three teams in Gandhinagar and one team each in Amreli, Jamnagar, Palanpur and Mahisagar districts.
During the past 24 hours, 118 of the total 251 talukas (tehsils/blocks) in the state have received heavy rainfall, with more than two inches of rains lashing over 30 talukas. Heavy rains continued in the South Gujarat region on the second consecutive day. Waghai in Dangs district received over 121 mm of rains, followed by Surat city with 107 mm and Bharuch and Dolvan in Tapi district with around 95 mm.
With heavy inflow of waters from the catchment area, Ambika river in Navsari district and Poorna river in Dangs district were in spate and 206 roads, including one national highway and four state highways were shut down for vehicular traffic.
A police station in the Sachin GIDC estate region of Surat had to be evacuated after it got flooded, forcing policemen to move out. The authorities asked the schools and other educational establishments to remain shut for the day.
The Saurashtra region of the state also had good downpour with Kodinar in Gir Somnath district receiving heavy rains of 115 mm and Talaja in Bhavnagar district about 100 mm of rain till 6 p.m. on Thursday, according to figures provided by state emergency operation centre.
The meteorological department issued warnings of heavy to very heavy rains in many parts of the state for next 48 hours. "South Gujarat, East-Central districts of the state and coastal Saurashtra districts would receive heavy to very heavy rains and at some isolated places even extreme heavy rains are expected in Surat, Navsari and Valsad."
"Heavy rains are also expected to lash some isolated regions of Panchmahals, Dahod, Mahisagar and Kheda districts. Other part of the state could witness moderate to heavy rains in coming four days," Jayanta Sarkar, Director, Met Department, said.
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Former Gujarat BJP MLA Kalsaria joins Congress

Former Gujarat BJP MLA Kanu Kalsaria, who had successfully spearheaded a huge public agitation against a Nirma cement plant in the state's Mahuva area, on Wednesday evening joined the Congress party after a meeting with party president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.
Kalsaria, who is a social activist and a surgeon, drifted away from the BJP while running the agitation against the cement factory because of the "pro-capitalist" regime of Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister and now as the Prime Minister.
"I have been fighting social causes but needed the right political strength to do it more effectively. I feel I can do it through the Congress party," he told mediapersons after meeting Gandhi.
Kalsaria, who had joined the Aam Aadmi Party in 2014 and became its chief in Gujarat, said: "Somehow, AAP could not emerge strongly in the State and I also tried as an independent candidate but could not make a dent."
"Farmers are unhappy, they want their rights. There is unemployment, health and education are serious issues in Gujarat. I decided I should join the Congress where I can work effectively," said the three-time BJP lawmaker (1997-2012).
State Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi told IANS: "Kanubhai is a sincere man with a clean image dedicated to public welfare for years. It is a good news for the Congress party that he has joined us and that too without any conditions whatsoever." 
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Three Gujarat BJP MLAs protest against government

Three senior ruling BJP legislators from Vadodara district came out in the open late on Wednesday evening expressing their resentment against the State government and claimed more than a dozen others were with them, hours after Chief Minister Vijay Rupani flew out the country on a six-day tour.
Three legislators, Madhu Srivastava from Waghodia constituency, Yogesh Patel from Manjalpur and Ketan Inamdar from Savli, asserted that several state ministers and the bureaucracy were not listening to them and showing a callous attitude to public representatives.
Incidentally, national BJP President Amit Shah was in his home state on Wednesday but the MLAs chose to vent their grievances before the media, also claiming that many more legislators were angry with the working of the government.
Madhu Srivastava, who is a legislator for six terms, asserted that several other frustrated MLAs were with them and they would also come out in future. "Today we are three but tomorrow there may be 13 or 23. Today we three, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, have got together. Now let anything happen," Srivastava said.
"Ever since the present government took charge six months ago, the bureaucrats in the state are working at their whims and fancies. And when we go to meet the ministers on the designated Tuesdays for us, we are unable to see them," Srivastava told reporters, as Patel and Inamdar nodded in agreement.
Concurring with Srivastava, Yogesh Patel said that their only demand was that when they seek resolution to the issues of their electorate, it must be sorted out but this was not happening.
Asked if they had made a representation to the Chief Minister about this, Srivastava said, "We are not going to stand in queue (to meet him) if the officials did not allow them."
Ketan Inamdar said their anger was not against the party or the government but with the attitude of officials. "The government which is trying to do best for the people, should sure have control over the bureaucracy but it appears the officials have got thick-skinned," he said.
The BJP swiftly swung in to action, asking senior Cabinet minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama to intervene. "Whatever be the issue, I, Nitin bhai (Deputy Chief Minister) and Jitubhai Vaghani (state BJP President) will speak to them in person and sort out their issues," Chudasama said.
BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said, "The three have been summoned by state party chief for a meeting in person. We have touched base with them and asked them to put forth their grievances on the right forum."
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Seychelles President Danny Faure arrives in Ahmedabad at start of six-day visit to India

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

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.
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.
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Indian scientists discover sub-Saturn-like planet around Sun-like star

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

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.
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.
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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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18 dead as truck overturns near Ahmedabad in Gujarat

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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Fire breaks out at ISRO's R&D centre in Ahmedabad

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."
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Settle matters with The Wire outside court, SC again tells Jay Shah

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.
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