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Surat

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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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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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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Modi to visit two States, two UTs over the next two days

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit two States  -- Gujarat and Tamil Nadu -- and two Union Territories -- Daman & Diu and Puducherry -- in the next two days.
 
An official press release said Mr. Modi would reach Daman tomorrow and launch various development projects, and hand over certificates to beneficiaries of various official schemes. He will address a public meeting.
 
The Prime Minister will then travel to Tamil Nadu. In Chennai, he will attend an event to mark the inauguration of the Amma Two Wheeler Scheme – a welfare scheme of the State Government.
 
On Sunday, the Prime Minister will visit Puducherry. At Aurobindo Ashram, he will offer floral tributes to Shri Aurobindo, and interact with students of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. 
 
Mr. Modi will also visit Auroville. He will release a commemorative postage stamp on the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Auroville. He will deliver an address on the occasion. He will also address a public meeting in Puducherry.
 
On Sunday evening, Mr. Modi will be in Surat in South Gujarat, to flag off the “Run for New India Marathon".
 
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Secular foundations of country must be strengthened further: Naidu

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Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today said the secular foundations of the country must be strengthened further and any attempt to create differences in the name of religion by vested interests and religious extremists must be nipped in the bud.
 
Mr. Naidu was addressing the members of Parsi community on the occasion of Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2017, in this village where the Atash Bahram, one of the eight fire temples of the Zoroastrian religion is located.  
 
“Unless there is social cohesion, communal harmony and religious tolerance, the progress and development of the country will suffer. With robust macroeconomic fundamentals in place, India is projected to be the third largest economy in the world by 2028.
 
“However, to achieve rapid economic growth and the New India of prosperity and peace, every Indian should work shoulder-to-shoulder in eradicating the evils like corruption, black money, castism and criminalization of politics as also in eliminating impediments such as illiteracy, gender discrimination and atrocities on weaker sections,” he added.
 
The Parsi community has made an invaluable contribution to the country’s growth and progress in diverse fields from atomic energy to pharmaceuticals, he said.
 
India’s syncretic culture and ethos form the basis of the country’s secularism. Secularism was in the DNA of every Indian much before it was enshrined in the Constitution. ‘Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava’ epitomizes India’s secular ethos. India is a land of diverse cultures and religions, he added.
 
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The association of the holy fire with this historic town dates back to 1742 when the then ruler Damaji Gaikwad permitted the Sanjana Priests to settle in Udvada along with their revered fire, the Iranshah.
 
“The town with its focus on Iranshah is distinctly planned and comprises a large number of houses dating back to 250 years, reflecting the unique heritage and cultural characteristics. I am told that the Iranshah is maintained by nine priestly families who settled in the town,” he said.
 
“As part of promoting pilgrimage throughout the year to this place, the Gujarat Government has appropriately named it as Pavitra Yatradham,” he added.
 
The Vice-President said the values of tolerance and respect for all religions have been part of Indian ethos from times immemorial. 
 
Keeping the tourist potential of the town in mind, the Gujarat Government has initiated Destination Development Project and put in place some basic infrastructure in and around Iranshah Fire Temple.
 
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Ockhi weakens, could cross south Gujarat, north Maharashtra coasts tonight: IMD

Cyclone Ockhi weakened into a deep depresssion over eastcentral Arabian Sea today and is expected to weaken further and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a depression later tonight.

 
Cyclone Ockhi to hit south Gujarat today: IMD
Cyclone Ockhi weakened into a deep depresssion over eastcentral Arabian Sea today and is expected to weaken further and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a depression later tonight.
 
However, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) also held out the possibility that the sytem could dissipate over the sea before the landfall due to unfavourable environmental conditions.
 
In a bulletin issued at 2000 hours today, the IMD said the deep depression had moved further north-northeastwards with a speed of 18 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1730 hours near latitude 19.4º N and longitude 71.5º E, about 240 km south-southwest of Surat and 150 km west-northwest of Mumbai. 
 
"It is very likely to continue to move northnortheastwards, weaken further and cross south Gujarat & adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near urat as a depression by tonight, the 5th December 2017. However, there is also a probability of dissipation of the system over the sea before the landfall due to unfavourable environmental conditions, like high wind shear and colder sea surface temperatures near the coast," it said.
 
The bulletin said that, under the influence of the system, light to moderate rainfall was very likely at most places over south Gujarat region (Valsad, Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, Dang, Tapi, Amreli, Diu, Daman, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli districts) till tomorrow morning, with heavy isolated rainfall.
 
Light to moderate rainfall was also likely at a few places over Saurashtra till tomorrow morning and over north Gujarat and west Madhya Pradesh till tomorrow noon.
 
In Maharashtra, light to moderate rainfall was likely over north Konkan (Palghar, Thane, Raigarh, Greater Mumbai, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Pune districts)till tomorrow morning, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
The bulletin said squally winds, with speed reaching 50-60 kmph, gusting to 70 kmph, were very likely along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts during the next six hours before becoming 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, during the subsequent six hours.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat during  the next 18 hours, it said.
 
Fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off south Gujarat and north Maharashtra coasts during the next 18 hours.
 
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Meanwhile, a well-marked low pressure area over southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood persisted and was very likely to become a depression over the same area during the next 12 hours and further intensify into a deep depression during the subsequent 48 hours, the bulletin said.
 
"It is very likely to move towards north Tamil Nadu-south Andhra Pradesh coasts during the next 48 hours and subsequently to north Andhra Pradesh coast," it said.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely at most places over Nicobar Islands during the next three days, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Rainfall was also very likely at many places over north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha on December 7 and 8, with heavy falls at isolated places.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, were very likely over and aroun Nicobar Islands today and tomorrow before decreasing thereafter.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough today and tomorrow around Nicobar Islands, it said.
 
Fishermen along and off Nicobar Islands were advised not to venture into sea till tomorrow. Similarly, fishermen along and off Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coasts were advised not to venture into sea between December 6 and 8.
 
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Cyclone Ockhi to weaken, cross south Gujarat, north Maharashtra coasts Tuesday night

Photo:IMD
Photo:IMD
The severe cyclonic storm Ockhi over eastcentral Arabian Sea is very likely to weaken gradually and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
A bulletin issued by the IMD at 0830 hours today said the cyclone had moved further northnortheastwards with a speed of 21 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 0530 hours IST today near latitude 17.5º N and longitude 70.4º E, about 480 km southwest of Surat and 300 km west-southwest of Mumbai. 
 
"It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards, weaken gradually and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by the night of 5th December 2017," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, light to moderate rainfall is very likely at most places over Saurashtra and south Gujarat region (Valsad, Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, Dang, Tapi, Amreli, Gir- Somnath, Bhavnagar, Diu, Daman, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli districts) during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places. It said light to moderate rainfall would occur over Gujarat region at many places during the subsequent 12 hours.
 
The bulletin said light to moderate rainfall was also likely at most places over north Konkan hours (Palghar, Thane, Raigarh, Greater Mumbai, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Pune districts) during the next 24 hours with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 50-60 kmph, gusting to 70 kmph, were very likely along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts during the next 36 hours, it said.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts during the next 36 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said minor damage to looose andunsecured structures, banana trees, agriculture near coast due to salt spray, ripe paddy crops and kutcha embankments was likely in coastal areas of Saurashtra, south Gujarat and north Maharashtra.
 
Fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Gujarat and north Maharashtra coasts during the next 36 hours.
 
Meanwhile, a well-marked low pressure area over southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining south Andaman Sea persisted this morning. It is  very likely to become a depression over southeast Bay of Bengal during the next 24 hours and further intensify into a deep depression during the subsequent 48 hours. It is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts during the next three days, the bulletin said.
 
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Under its influence, rainfall was very likely over Nicobar Islands and at many places over Andaman Islands during the next three days, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Rainfall was also very likely over north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha on December 7 and 8, with heavy falls at isolated places.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, were very likely over and around Nicobar Islands today and tomorrow and would decrease thereafter, it said.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough today and tomorrow around Nicobar Islands.
 
Fishermen along and off Nicobar Islands are advised not to venture into sea till tomorrow. Similarly, fishermen along and off Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coasts are advised not to venture in the sea from December 6 to 8, the bulletin added.
 
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Cyclone Ockhi weakens, heads towards south Gujarat, north Maharashtra

Photo:IMD
Photo:IMD
Even as cyclone Ockhi over eastcentral Arabian Sea is gradually weakening and moving towards South Gujarat and north Maharashtra,  a well-marked low pressure area has developed over southeast Bay of Bengal, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said today.
 
A bulletin issued by IMD at 1620 hours today said Ockhi had moved further north-northeastwards with with a speed of 13 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1430 hours IST near latitude 15.2º N and longitude 69.0º E, about 590 km southwest of Mumbai and 770 km south-southwest of Surat. 
 
"It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards, weaken gradually and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by the night of tomorrow, the 5th December 2017," it said.
 
The bulletin said heavy rainfall was light to moderate rainfall was very likely at a few places over Saurashtra and south Gujarat region today. Light to moderate rainfall was very likely at most places over Saurashtra and south Gujarat (Valsad, Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, Dang, Tapi, Amreli, Gir- Somnath, Bhavnagar, Diu, Daman, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli districts) tomorrow with heavy rainfall at isolated places, and light to moderate rainfall at many places in the two regions on December 6.
 
According to it, light to moderate rainfall was very likely over north Konkan, including Mumbai, in Maharashtra today. Light to moderate rainfall was also likely at most places over north Konkan (Palghar, Thane, Raigarh, Greater Mumbai, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Pune districts) tomorrow, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 50-60 kmph, gusting to 70 kmph, were very likely along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts from today from tonight to December 6 morning.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts from tonight till December 6 morning, the bulletin said.
 
The IMD advised fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off south Gujarat and north Maharashtra coasts from today till December 6 morning.
 
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The bulletin said the low pressure area over southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining south Andaman Sea was very likely to become a depression during the next 24 hours and further intensify into a deep depression during the subsequent 48 hours. It is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts during the next three days, it said.
 
According to it, rainfall was very likely at most places over Andaman Islands over Andaman Islands during the next three days, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Rainfall was also very likely at many places over north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha on December 7 and 8, it said.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 30-40 kmph, gusting to 50 kmph, were likely around Nicobar Islands today and 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, on December 5 and 6 and would decrease thereafter.
 
Sea condition would be rough to very rough around Nicobar Islands during December 4 to 6.
 
Fishermen along and off Nicobar Islands are advised not to venture into sea during this period. Similarly, fishermen along and off the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coasts were advised not to venture into the sea from December 6 to 8.
 
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Manmohan hits out at Modi, says winds of change are blowing in Gujarat

Former Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing businessmen and professionals in Surat, in poll-bound Gujarat, on December 2, 2017.
Former Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing businessmen and professionals in Surat, in poll-bound Gujarat, on December 2, 2017.
In a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government at the Centre and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in poll-bound Gujarat, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today  said the recent agitations of the youth cutting across different sections of society were an indication  of the deep dissatisfaction among them with the performance of successive BJP governments in the state.
 
"The winds of change are blowing in Gujarat," he said at an interaction with businessmen and professionals in Surat in the poll-bound state, which will hold elections on December 9 and 14 to elect a new 182-member legislative assembly.
 
"The Congress party will ensure that the voice of every Gujarati regardless of caste, creed, gender or class will be heard. Our Congress government will govern with both head and heart, with Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi as our inspirations," he said.
 
"After decades, the time has come for the intelligent and enterprising people of Gujarat to once again repose their faith in the Congress party, which will work together with 6.5 crore Gujaratis, to take the state to new heights and the future it deserves," he said.
 
Dr. Singh began by saying that he understood that the people of the state had gone through some very tough times over the last year. 
 
"Problems that were no creation of yours, and yet you suffered. I come here to tell you that the Congress party stands with you during this difficult period brought about by the government’s double blow of demonetisation and poor implementation of GST," he said.
 
"Most of you trusted the Prime Minister and believed in the policy of demonetisation, in the hope that your suffering would actually benefit India. I salute your commitment to the cause of rooting out black money. But soon it emerged that corruption remained unabated, those who had black money were able to convert it into white.
 
"Just as you were recovering from one blow, then came GST. Nobody consulted you or tried to understand how your dhandha works. The Prime Minister is from Gujarat. He claims to understand Gujarat and the poor more than anybody else. How is it that he never understood the pain his decisions will unleash on you? This is an uniformed, half-baked crusade on black money where he painted everyone to be a thief, while the real culprits have gotten away," he said.
 
Dr. Singh said the Goods and Service Tax (GST) was a good idea which the Congress initiated, but the BJP government's version was "poorly designed, badly implemented and brought about in such a tearing hurry."
 
"It is no wonder that Surat voiced the biggest protests in India against this injustice by the NDA government. You after all come from the land of two great souls, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. When the Mahatma decided to protest against the unjust British tax on salt, he did it from your backyard in Dandi. Standing up for injustice is in your blood and you raised your voice against the shoddy implementation of GST.
 
"The Congress amplified your voice, and was able to apply pressure on the government to listen to your point of view. I am aware that many of the problems still remain, and we are committed to resolving them as much as we can as a responsible Opposition," he said.
 
Dr. Singh went on to speak about the hardships caused to businessmen, traders and workers in industrial clusters and markets across the country. He also invoked the memory of more than a hundred people who had lost their lives last year due to demonetisation.
 
He said November 8, 2016, when Mr. Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 bank notes, was a Black Day for the country's economy and democracy.
 
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"Black money and tax evasion are a menace that the country needs to tackle, but demonetisation was clearly not the solution. It has been suggested many times in the past as one of the methods to eradicate black money. But as a responsible government, we never took such a drastic measure because in our reasoned analysis, the costs of demonetisation always exceeded the benefits substantially," he said.
 
"We know by now that none of the stated objectives of eliminating black money, terror financing and counterfeit currency have been met. To promote a less-cash economy, coercive steps like demonetisation are ineffective. The cash in circulation after one year is close to 90% of previous levels. The fact that more than 99% of the demonetised currency came back into the banking system, has punctured the government’s claims. There are also widespread reports of the rich converting their black money into white while the poor suffered," he said.
 
Dr. Singh said demonetisation had proved to be "mere bluster" to reap political dividends while the real offenders had escaped.
 
"We saw the impact of demonetisation on the economy when the GDP growth rate dropped to 5.7% in the first quarter of 2017-18 under the new calculations. Even this is bound to be a gross underestimate as the pain of the informal sector is not adequately captured in the GDP calculation. Every one percent loss of GDP annually costs our nation 1.5 lakh crore rupees. Think of the human impact from this lost growth -- the lost jobs, the youth whose opportunities have vanished, the businesses who had to shut down and the entrepreneurs whose drive to succeed has turned into discouraged disappointment.
 
"GDP growth in the first quarter of 2017-18 fall to 5.7 per cent. July-September quarter has registered a growth rate of 6.3 per cent. This is to be welcomed. But is too early to conclude that this represents a reversal of the declining trend observed in the previous five quarters. Some economists believe that the CSO which released the figures, has not adequately captured the impact of demonetisation and GST on the informal sector that accounts for about 30 per cent of the economy," he said.
 
He said though there was strong growth in manufacturing in the second quarter, this had been calculated based on corporate results and did not take into account the small and medium sector which suffered the most after demonetisation and the launch of GST. He said there were also worries about the farm sector growth which fell to 1.7% from 2.3% in the previous quarter and 4.1% in the same quarter last year.
 
"We have to remember that this is despite the fact that the Government has front loaded its spending on projects, forcing up our fiscal deficit to a high of 96.1 per cent of the Rs. 546532 crore target set for the full year," he said.
 
He also noted that private spending on construction had been very dismal, where there were huge job losses.
 
"Thus there is still considerable uncertainty about the growth of GDP. The RBI forecasts that growth in 2017-19 will pick up to 6.7 per cent. However, even if growth reaches 6.7 per cent in 2017-18, Modiji’s four year average growth rate will be only 7.1 per cent. To equal the UPA’s ten year average, the economy will have to grow at 10.6 percent in the fifth year. I would be happy if this were to happen, but frankly I do not think it will," he said.
 
"What is even more tragic is none of the lessons from this monumental blunder have been learnt by the government. Instead of providing relief, as I had requested in Parliament, to the poor and marginalised, farmers, traders, and the small and medium businesses, who suffered the brunt of demonetisation, the government chose to inflict on them a badly designed and hastily implemented GST.
 
"This twin blow is a complete disaster for our economy. It has broken the back of small and medium businesses in India. The impact in the rest of the country is equally bad if not worse. The supply chains and credit lines of our MSME sector and industrial clusters have been greatly affected, hampering production. You are aware of the damage done to the ceramics sector in Morbi and the industries in Vapi and Rajkot. Overall, as our domestic sector is not able to cope with demand, China is benefiting from this situation," he said.
 
"In the first half of FY 2016-17, India’s imports from China stood at Rs. 1.96 lakh crore. During the same period in FY 2017-18, the imports from China increased to Rs. 2.41 lakh crore. This unprecedented increase of imports by more than Rs. 45,000 crore, which is a 23% increase in a year, can be attributed largely to demonetisation and GST. These twin blows damaged India’s MSME sector and our businesses had to turn to Chinese imports at the cost of Indian jobs," he said.
 
Dr. Singh said GST had been envisioned by the UPA as a single tax, capped at 18%, but the current GST was a "great departure from that vision".
 
"It has transformed into a complicated mess, with multiple slabs, and rates as high as 28%, along with additional cesses. This was done by the government without paying any heed to our advice, both in Parliament and in private consultations. Compliance requirements have become a nightmare for small businesses. The unending notifications and changes, a repeat of the chaos of demonetisation, have caused needless confusion," he said.
 
"Along with demonetisation, GST has sown a deep-rooted fear of tax terrorism among the business community. At a time when the economy has slowed down considerably, despite favourable global macroeconomic conditions, the fear of tax terrorism has eroded the confidence of businesses to invest. As you know, the growth in private investment is at a 25-year low. This is terrible for India’s economy.
 
"Good governance involves both the head and the heart. It pains me to say that the Union government has completely failed to do its duty on both fronts," he said.
 
"Today, one year after demonetisation, large sections of the country feel they have been taken for a ride by their government. That their trust was betrayed," he said.
 
Stating that questions must be asked again and again on the soundness of policy and the lack of transparency in the government, he said it saddened him to see that every important issue that affected the lives of crores of citizens is being turned into binaries of black and white. 
 
"The Congress party has built India into a global economic powerhouse over the past 70 years. We want to ensure that the national interest is upheld and that the weaker sections of the society are protected," he said.
 
Dr. Singh went on to speak about farmers and the agrarian distress, and the problems of Adivasis.
 
"On every social indicator, from Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Rate, to female literacy, Gujarat has fallen behind the best performing states in the country, including Himachal, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
 
"The abdication of the Gujarat state of public education has led to rampant privatisation and decreasing quality of education. This in turn is affecting the competitiveness of otherwise sharp Gujarati youth in the job market," he added.
 
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Fight in Gujarat is between truth and lies: Rahul Gandhi

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Continuing his attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today said next month's Assembly elections in the state were basically a fight between truth and lies and claimed that truth was on his side.
 
Addressing a rally of Adivasis at Nana Pondha in the tribals-dominated Valsad district of the state, he drew an analogy with the battle between Pandavas and Kauravas in the epic Mahabharata.
 
"Like the Kauravas, Mr. Modi and the BJP have governments at the Centre, in Gujarat, in many other states, they have the police, the army, the administration on their side, but we, like the Pandavas, we have only the truth on our side. We don't need anything else," he said.
 
"The truth is with the Adivasis, the the farmers, the Dalits, the OBCs, the Patidars, the poor, in every Gujarati's heart.
 
"For 22 years, the BJP took from you ... your land, your water, power, and now when you want jobs for the youth, education for a children, healthcare for your parents, they give you nothing," he said, alleging that the BJP government at the State and the Centre worked only in the interest of a handful of powerful industrialists. "This is the truth and reality of Gujarat today," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said the Gujarat government under Mr. Modi, when he was Chief Minister of the state, had given loans worth Rs. 33,000 crore to the Tata group for its Nano car project set up near Ahmedabad, apart from land, water, power and other facilities. He said that was roughly the amount the Congress-led UPA government had allocated for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), under which crores of people in rural areas were assured a livelihood.
 
He said the Nano project, on the other hand, hardly provided any jobs to people in the state. "And I have travelled, in the past few weeks, hundreds of kilometres in Gujarat but have yet to see a Nano car on the roads. Have you seen one?" he asked.
 
Mr. Gandhi said the BJP had before each election in Gujarat promised crores of rupees for the development of the tribals, education, housing, healthcare, jobs and so on, but had failed to deliver on all fronts. He said education and healthcare had been privatised to a large extent in the state, putting them out of the reach of the common man. Unemployment levels in the country were at a seven-year high today, he said.
 
He also said that the state government had acquired 6.5 lakh acres of land from farmers but on 60 percent of the land no factories or projects had come up and the land had not been returned to the original owners.
 
He said Mr. Modi made long speeches but had not uttered a word on the misery caused to the people by demonetisation and the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) or the allegations against BJP president Amit Shah's son, Jay Shah.
 
"The Congress is the only party which can provide jobs, education, healthcare and such facilities. We know how to do it. We will never make hollow promises like depositing Rs. 15 lakh in each person's bank account. We will not tell you lies," he said.
 
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Mr. Gandhi said two leaders from Gujarat -- Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel -- drove the British rulers from India 70 years ago. "The truth defeated the British, the superpower of those years, in India. If two Gujaratis could do it then, you can do it to the BJP also," he added.
 
The Congress leader also interacted with small scale industrialists, entrepreneurs, businessmen, teachers and intellectuals at a meeting in the industrial township of Vapi where he said that if his party is voted to power in 2019 at the Centre it would reform the GST because it simply could not be implemented in its present form as enacted by the Modi government.
 
He said the Government had refused to listen to the well-meaning advice given by Congress leaders on the GST and hastily implemented the new regime without adequate preparation, leading to widespread difficulties, especially for small traders and the MSME sector.
 
On privatisation of education in Gujarat, Mr. Gandhi said quality education cannot be delivered by institutions which had only profit as their motive. This was also true of the healthcare system in the state, he said.
 
"We believe must spend on education and healthcare, because it is an investment in the country's future," he said.
 
On jobs, Mr. Gandhi said the MSME sector, which provided the bulk of employment in the country, must get greater access to the financial system and provided a more enabling environment for them to flourish and grow.
 
He said the creation of jobs for India's teeming millions must become a National Mission. "It is a national threat, a serious problem, and has to be addressed by all political parties. There has to be a single-minded focus on the issue," he said.
 
To a question about the feasibility and viability of the bullet train on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai proposed by the Modi government, Mr. Gandhi said it was all a question of priorities. 
 
"It is a Rs 100,000 crore project. That is roughly the annual budget of the Indian Railways. If I have a choice, I would use that kind of money to modernise the entire Indian Railways. The prospective travallers of the bullet train already have other alternatives like flights," he said.
 
He said that, when faced with a similar choice during the UPA's tenure in government, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had opted to use Japanese aid for building freight corridors in the country -- dedicated railway lines for movement of freight -- which would benefit industries and businesses as well as people all over the country and create thousands of jobs.
 
"You can make one train run at 400 kmph, or you can with the same amount of money increase the speed of all trains in the country by, say, 30 kmph by improving maintenance and introducing safety features. It is ultimately a question of priorities," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi went on to say that Mr. Modi himself had said once that the bullet train may not get many passengers but such a project could become a symbol of the nation's strength. "What strength are you going to display by running a Japanese train with Japanese technology in India?" he asked.
 
"There are great strengths in the Indian Railways. It is one of the largest railway systems in the world, and moves millions of passengers at very low cost. We need to strengthen them further," he added.
 
Mr. Gandhi, who began a three-day tour of Gujarat yesterday -- his third visit to the poll-bound state in recent weeks -- resumed campaigning for the elections this afternoon after flying to Uttar Pradesh early this morning to visit the victims of the blast at the NTPC power station at Unchahar in Rae Bareli district, in which at least 29 workers lost their lives and more than 100 others suffered injuries.
 
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Essar Bulk Terminal signs agreement with GMB for 1,100-metre jetty expansion at Hazira

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Essar Bulk Terminal Ltd (EBTL), the operator of the Hazira port terminal facility, has signed an agreement with Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) for expanding its captive jetty by 1100 metres. 
 
The expanded berthing facility is expected to be ready by end-FY18, and will enhance the current capacity by 20 MTPA, a press release from the company, a part of the Essar Group, said.
 
This will not only help cater to the enhanced cargo requirements of Essar Steel, its anchor customer, but also give a boost to the company’s third-party cargo business, it said.
 
According to the release, EPL has world-class port terminal facilities that have all registered a significant jump in cargo handling in the last three months on the back of improved performance of their anchor customers. EBTL alone has registered a 26% Q-o-Q growth in cargo in Q1 of FY17-18 by handling about 5.5 million tonnes of cargo in the quarter. In June 2017, the terminal handled a cargo of 1.86 million tonne, which is a monthly record.
 
Mr Rajiv Agarwal, Managing Director, Essar Ports, said: “Our Hazira Port Terminal has delivered record output on account of highly efficient operations. The expansion of the jetty by 1,100 metres will further boost the cargo handling capability of the facility.”
 
Capt. Subhas Das, CEO, Essar Bulk Terminal, said: “The Hazira Port terminal is a world-class facility; the expansion will help us cater to the cargo requirements generated by the enhanced capacity utilisation of our anchor customer, Essar Steel.”
 
Since Essar Steel production is expected to increase further during FY18, the total cargo handling at the Hazira port terminal is likely to cross 25 million tonnes in the fiscal, the release said.
 
The Hazira Port Terminal is an all-weather, deep-water terminal located in the Gulf of Khambatt, Gujarat. The terminal has depths of 14 metres below chart datum (CD) and is capable of accommodating capesize vessels. The Port terminal is integrated with Essar’s Hazira Complex which consists of a 10 million tonnes steel plant, power plants and other manufacturing facilities.
 
Essar Ports has handled a record 19.62 million tonnes of cargo in the quarter ending 30 June 2017. This is a growth of 12% when compared to the cargo handling in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.  While dry bulk & unit cargo has increased by 32%, third-party cargo has grown by 60%, the release added.
 
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SpiceJet launches direct flight between Kolkata and Surat

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today announced the launch of a daily direct flight between Kolkata in West Bengal and Surat in Gujarat from July 1.
 
SpiceJet is the first airline to offer direct flights on the route, a press release from the airline said.
 
SpiceJet’s Boeing 737 aircraft - SG 876, operating on the Patna – Kolkata – Surat route, will depart from Kolkata for Surat at 10.50 AM. The schedule will be operational for the period 1st July 2017 to 31st August 2017. Starting 1st September 2017, the same aircraft will start from Kolkata at 10.20 AM. The flight from Surat - SG 877, will take off from the city at 2.15 PM.
 
Surat is one of India's key textile hubs and a major centre for the diamond industry in the country.
 
SpiceJet already operates multiple non-stop flights from Surat to key metro and non-metro cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad and Jaipur. The city is also connected to a host of other Indian cities through SpiceJet’s pan India onward connections, the release said.
 
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Modi inaugurates various projects in South Gujarat, Dadra & Nagar Haveli

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated several projects in South Gujarat and the Union Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli, incuding a multi-specialty hospital and a diamond manufacturing unit in Surat.

 
Govt. committed to providing healthcare at cheaper rates: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated several projects in South Gujarat and the Union Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli, incuding a multi-specialty hospital and a diamond manufacturing unit in Surat.
 
Speaking after inaugurating the Kiran Multi-Speciality Hospital, Mr. Modi described the project was "commendable" and said the state-of-the-art facility would benefit citizens. He emphasized that the poor must have access to quality and affordable healthcare.
 
In this context he talked about the Union Government’s initiatives to bring down the prices of medicines, stents, and so on. He said he is committed to providing affordable healthcare for the poor and the middle class. 
 
Calling for focus on preventive healthcare, the Prime Minister said that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is linked to efforts towards a healthier India. 
 
The Prime Minister said Surat has made a mark in the diamond industry but there is now need to look at the entire gems and jewellery sector. He said that as far as the gems and jewellery sector is concerned, the aim should not only be ‘Make in India’ but also 'Design in India'. 
 
Later, Mr. Modi inaugurated the SUMUL cattle feed plant at Bajipura and laid the foundation stone for three lift irrigation schemes. He also inaugurated a drinking water supply scheme for Vyara town and Jesinhpur-Dolvan groups of Tapi district. 
 
Addressing a large gathering, Mr. Modi recalled having worked in this area for a long time. He said SUMUL -- the Surat District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited -- has empowered several people in the nearby areas. He said the stretch from Umbergaon to Ambaji has been transformed and this has benefited the tribal communities of Gujarat. 
 
"Here, in SUMUL we see the positive results that can be achieved when Sahkar (Cooperatives) and Sarkar (Government) work together," he said. According to him, SUMUL also illustrates the good that happens when farmers and dairies work closely. 
 
The Prime Minister said that Tapi district is one of the newer districts of Gujarat, and he is happy to see it achieve remarkable progress. 
 
The Prime Minister called for value addition in the agriculture sector, and focus on increasing per capita milk production. 
 
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In Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Mr. Modi inaugurated various Government projects at Silvassa, including government buildings, solar PV systems, Jan Aushadhi Kendras and a Passport Seva Kendra.
 
He also distributed aids and assistive devices to persons with disabilities, and other benefits under existing Government schemes.
 
Speaking on the occasion, he said that, though it was his first visit to Dadra and Nagar Haveli as Prime Minister, he had been to the Union Territory many times in the past.
 
He said that after assuming office, he sought details on impact of development schemes in Dadra and Nagar Haveli; and since then the Union Government has worked on areas needing attention.
 
Speaking on development themes, he said that every Indian must have access to housing facilities. He said that in less than a year, the number of beneficiaries under the Ujjwala scheme for LPG has crossed 2 crore.
 
The Prime Minister emphasized that the Union Government will never allow the poor and the middle class to be looted. He urged the assembled people to download the BHIM App for cashless transactions.
 
Later, Mr. Modi dedicated to the nation the Phase-1 (Link 2) of the SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) Yojana, at Botad. He also laid the foundation stone of Phase 2 (Link 2) of the project.
 
Earlier, he welcomed Narmada water into the Krishna Sagar Lake by pressing a button and offering flower petals. 
 
Addressing a public meeting, he described water as a holy offering from nature. He said water is reaching Saurashtra with the blessings of the River Narmada. He said this is the result of a lot of effort, and would benefit the farmers. 
 
He called for the extensive use of drip irrigation, and said the Union Government is working on ways to help double incomes in the agriculture sector. 
 
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Seven dead, four injured as jeep overturns in Gujarat's Valsad district

 
7 dead, 4 injured after jeep overturns in Valsad district of Gujarat
As many as seven persons died and four others suffered injuries when the jeep they were travelling in overturned in the ghats region of Dharampur in Valsad district of Gujarat last night.
 
Police sources said the mishap occurred around 9.30 pm yesterday when the men were returning to their village of Motikarol after delivering vegetables and other supplies for a marriage in another village, Dhamasdi.
 
The jeep veered off the road, resulting in the deaths of seven men on the spot, the sources said. 
 
People from nearby areas alerted the police and helped extricate the victims from the vehicle, they said.
 
The injured were admitted for treatment to a nearby hospital, where their condition was stated to be stable, the sources added.
 
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BHEL bags 3.6 MW rooftop solar PV systems order from Surat civic body

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has secured an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) order for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop systems totalling 3.6 MW capacity from the Surat Municipal Corporation in Gujarat.
 
While all the 10 identified areas of installation would be within the municipal limits of Surat; 1 MW of energy will be required for Surat Smart City. 
 
"This is the single largest order for a rooftop PV system won by BHEL and will be an important step in establishing BHEL as one of the leaders in the Rooftop PV system segment also," a press release from the company said.
 
BHEL manufactures solar cells and modules at its Electronics Division in Bengaluru, while space-grade solar panels using high efficiency cells and space-grade battery panels are manufactured at its Electronic Systems Division, also in Bengaluru.
 
The company has enhanced its annual manufacturing capacity of solar cells to 105 MW and solar modules to 226 MW. Its new state-of-the-art 200 MW Solar PV Module Manufacturing Line and upgraded 105 MW Solar PV Cell Manufacturing Line were recently inaugurated by Union Minister for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises Anant Geete, at the company’s manufacturing plants in Bengaluru.
 
BHEL is one of the few companies in India whose solar business is backed by a dedicated R&D team at the company’s Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell Plant (ASSCP) in Gurgaon near here, the release said.
 
BHEL offers EPC solutions for both off-grid and grid interactive Solar PV power Plants in Utilty Scale and Rooftop applications and has set up solar plants in various locations in India including Lakshadweep Islands for island electrification, it added.
 
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SpiceJet re-introduces services on Surat – Delhi route

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today announced the relaunch of twin daily direct flights on the Delhi – Surat – Delhi route effective from March 26.
 
The new flight is a part of SpiceJet’s enhanced summer schedule and will further augment its connectivity in the domestic sector, a press release from the airline said.
 
“While the year 2016 has witnessed a sharp growth in air passenger traffic, a large count today still remains untapped who travel from Tier 2 cities. Surat, being an important economic hub of Gujarat, has always been a critical market for us, especially from the point of view of serving our business travellers. The twin daily flight service will offer immense flexibility to the corporate travellers on the SpiceJet network," Ms. Shilpa Bhatia, Sr VP, Commercial, SpiceJet, said.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Punjab-Pakistan border region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale, shook the border region between the Indian state of Punjab and Pakistan this evening.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 31.1 N and longitude 74.3 E, occurred at 1724 hours IST at a focal depth of 15 km.
 
The tremors were felt in places such as Amritsar in India and Lahore in Pakistan, reports reaching here said.
 
The quake came just hours after an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale jolted South Gujarat this morning.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 21.7 N and longitude 72.5 E near Surat in South Gujarat, occurred at 0925 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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Earthquake measuring 4.5 jolts South Gujarat

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An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale jolted South Gujarat this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 21.7 N and longitude 72.5 E near Surat in South Gujarat, occurred at 0925 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
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37 dead, 24 injured as bus falls into river in Navsari district of Gujarat

 
36 die after bus plunges into river in Gujarat
 
At least 37 people died and 24 others suffered injuries when a bus carrying them crashed off a bridge and plunged into the Purna river this evening near Navsari, about 40 km south of here, police said.
 
The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) bus was on its way from Navsari to Ukai, near Surat, when the mishap occurred near Supa village, between Navsari and Bardoli, at about 5.15 pm, they said.
 
According to various accounts, the driver of the bus appeared to have lost control of the vehicle while it was crossing the bridge on the Purna river.
 
Navsari district superintendent of police M. S. Barada told NetIndian that the injured were rushed to hospitals in Navsari, where they were undergoing treatment.
 
Senior district and police officials, as well as rescue and relief teams, rushed to the spot and helped to extricate the victims from the wreckage of the bus.
 
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L&T builds India's first 700 MWe PHWR nuclear steam generator

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its heavy engineering arm had successfully flagged off India’s first nuclear 700 MWe steam generator for Kakrapar nuclear power plant in Gujarat. 
 
The indigenously-designed Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) is for Unit 3 Kakrapar power station of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a press release from the company said.
 
The first steam generator reached Kakrapar nuclear power plant on June 16 and the second is scheduled to be dispatched on July 4, 2015. 
 
A nuclear steam generator is one of the most critical safety Class 1 equipment in a nuclear island. It enables heat transfer from primary side heavy water to generate steam, which drives turbines to generate electricity. Each steam generator weighs about 215 MT and is made of special low alloy quenched and tempered steel with nickel-iron-chromium alloy tubes and stainless steel internals.
 
“The completion of first 700 MWe PHWR Steam Generator is a major milestone towards ‘Make in India’ vision,” said Mr. M.V. Kotwal, President (Heavy Engineering) & Member of the Board, Larsen & Toubro. “Success was achieved through relentless dedicated joint efforts by L&T & NPCIL engineers.”
 
The 3D multi-phase thermal hydraulic analysis and safety analysis including accidental conditions were designed in-house by L&T. The nickel-iron-chromium alloy U-Tubes were manufactured as a joint effort with Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), Hyderabad. 
 
The scope of work included indigenous development of critical internals including stainless steel grid support flats, mist extractors and special adhesives & fasteners. 
 
L&T Special Steel and Heavy Forgings (LTSSHF), a 65000 sq. meter integrated facility at Hazira, meets the heavy forging requirements of critical sectors. It will supply forgings for future nuclear power plant projects. LTSSHF is a joint venture between L&T and NPCIL.
 
"The successful completion of the steam generator is a testimony to L&T‘s proven capabilities in hi-tech manufacturing for nuclear sector," the release added.
 
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38 dead as heavy rains lash Saurashtra, South Gujarat

A view from an IAF helicopter of the floods in Gujurat after heavy rains on June 24, 2015.
A view from an IAF helicopter of the floods in Gujurat after heavy rains on June 24, 2015.
At least 38 people have died in incidents related to the heavy rains that lashed Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions yesterday, official sources said.
 
Amreli district in Saurashtra bore the brunt, with most of the deaths reported from there, including 13 people who died when two hosues collapsed near Bagasara town.
 
Deaths were also reported from Bhavnagar district, Gondal in Rajkot district as well as from Surat district in South Gujarat.
 
The heavy downpour was caused by a depression over the Arabian Sea.
 
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) have been deployed for rescue and relief efforts in the affected areas, along with companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRP).
 
The rains caused large-scale submergence of low-lying parts in many areas of the state, with Gavdka and Khari villages of Amreli district being the worst affected, where IAF helicopters rescued 87 people with the help of two Mi-17V5 helicopters yesterday and air-dropped 120 kgs of food packets.
 
 
Heavy rains flood several areas in Gujarat
Today, the Air Force has put four Mi-17 V5 helicopters into service for rescue and relief operations in Amreli. Two additional helicopters are on standby at Jamnagar in case there is a need to step up operations. 
 
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel held a meeting with top state government, IAF and India Meteorological Department (IMD) officials in Gandhinagar yesterday and said the situation must be constantly monitored in the affected villages. Utmost priority should be given to rescue stranded people, she said.
 
She also reviewed the availability of rescue equipment, food stocks and medical supplies.
 
"I appeal people not to panic & co-operate with the administration in its rescue and relief efforts," she said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
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ONGC's oil well catches fire near Ankleshwar in Gujarat

 
12 injured in ONGC oil well fire near Ankleshwar
Twelve persons suffered injuries after a fire broke out this afternoon in an onshore oil well of the public sector Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in Olpad area, about 80 km from Ankleshwar in South Gujarat, during a repair and maintenance operation.
 
A statement from ONGC said it had mobilised its Crisis Management Team (CMT) and all resources at its command to control the fire, which broke out today around 12.30 pm.
 
Seven of the persons who suffered burn injuries are from the CMT, it said. All 12 injured persons were shifted to a hospital in Surat, where threewere discharged after first aid. "All necessary medical treatment is being given to others," the statement said.
 
All non-essential persons have been evacuated from the accident area. Since there is no habitation within two km radius of the well, there is no danger to the life and property in the surrounding areas, the statement said.
 
Apart from the specialized engineers of CMT from various regions, other senior officials of the Ankleshwar Asset as well as from corporate office are present to supervise the fire fighting activities.
 
The district authorities are providing full support to control the fire and minimize the damage, it added.
 
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Reliance commissions 1150 KTA PTA plant at Dahej in Gujarat

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said it had successfully commissioned its new Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA) plant at Dahej, Gujarat.
 
The plant with a capacity of 1150 KTA is built with Invista technology, a press release from the company said.
 
With the commissioning of the plant, Reliance’s total PTA capacity will increase to 3.2 MMTPA and global capacity share to 4%, it said.
 
Paraxylene, the key feedstock for the PTA plant is sourced from Reliance’s Jamnagar refinery. The PTA plant is also forward integrated with a 650 KTA PET plant in the same complex. 
 
"The integrated operation will help in lower operating cost and capture full chain margins. Another PTA plant of similar capacity is under construction at the same location," the release said.
 
With these capacities, Reliance will be placed among the top five PTA manufacturers globally. India is the second largest producer of polyester with estimated production of 5.4 MMTPA. The Indian polyester market is growing at 8-10% annually. Indian market is currently deficit in PTA by over 1.5 MMTPA. 
 
The start-up of the new PTA plant at Dahej will take India closer to self-sufficiency in PTA, the release added.
 
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