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Haryana

Rains lash Chandigarh; Haryana, Punjab on storm alert

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Early morning rains lashed Chandigarh and surrounding areas on Monday while authorities in Haryana and Punjab remained on high alert following a storm advisory issued by the Met Department.
 
Schools in Haryana were ordered to remain closed for two days (Monday and Tuesday) as a preventive measure in view of the weather warning.
 
A few private schools in Chandigarh also announced closure for two days.
 
The maximum temperatures at most places in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh remained between 31.5 to 38.5 degrees Celsius on Sunday with rainfall at some places and overcast sky at several in others.
 
The Met office has predicted thunderstorms, accompanied by strong winds and rain, in Haryana and Punjab and Punjab starting from Monday to Wednesday.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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Six dead as Dalit protests turn violent in different states

Six persons were killed and dozens injured as Dalit protests during a day-long nation-wide shutdown on Monday turned violent in India amid anger against a Supreme Court order that dilutes a law aimed at preventing atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

 
Bharat Bandh over "dilution" of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
Six persons were killed and dozens injured as Dalit protests during a day-long nation-wide shutdown on Monday turned violent in India amid anger against a Supreme Court order that dilutes a law aimed at preventing atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
 
The government, in a bid to pacify the agitated activists, said it had filed a petition in the apex court seeking a review of its March 20 order that bars automatic arrest and registration of cases for alleged harassment of Dalits and others. But the top court denied an urgent hearing of the matter.
 
Protesters clashed with police in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha -- states where normal life was paralysed in varying degrees amid incidences of violence and arson.
 
The central government rushed 800 anti-riot policemen to violence-hit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
 
A Home Ministry official in Delhi said two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were sent to Meerut and one company each to Agra and Hapur in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh where five persons were killed and dozens injured, forcing officials to impose curfew in Morena, Gwalior and Bhind districts. Protests were also held Bhopal as agitators blocked roads in the state capital.
 
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made a passionate appeal for peace.
 
Police said one person each was killed in Bhind and Morena while three died in Gwalior. The dead in Morena was identified as Rahul Pathak, a student leader. 
 
Gwalior District Magistrate Rahul Jain told IANS that at least 22 persons were injured, some critically, in clashes in his district, where prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were also imposed.
 
"Three people have been conformed dead in Gwalior." Jain said.
 
A man identified as Pawan Kumar was killed in Rajasthan's Alwar as violence was also reported from other parts of the state including Jaipur, Ajmer. Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur.
 
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Punjab and Haryana also saw widespread protests.
 
Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed and Class 10 and 12 examinations were deferred in Punjab, which has the highest concentration of Scheduled Castes, constituting nearly 32 per cent its 2.8 crore population.
 
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda too shut down.
 
Protests also took place in Rohtak and other towns of neighbouring Haryana.
 
In Bihar, activists disrupted rail and road traffic. Mobs shut down markets and shops as well as educational institutions, police said.
 
Supporters of the Bhim Army and other Dalit outfits halted over three dozen long-distance and local trains, stranding thousands of passengers.
 
Violence was reported from Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Nawada, Patna and Bhagalpur when protestors clashed with police.
 
Violence also erupted in parts of Uttar Pradesh as protesters attacked shops, looted some and pelted stones at police in Hapur, Agra, Meerut, Saharanpur and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi.
 
Many cars were targeted and their window panes smashed. At some places, government property was targeted. 
 
Some people reportedly fired at a police team in Meerut while a passenger bus was set on fire. 
 
Also in Meerut, over 500 Dalit youths targeted the media and broke their cameras as they were trying to photograph the protests. 
 
Gujarat's major towns and cities also saw protests by Dalits amid reports of vandalism from Ahmedabad and Jamnagar.
 
Amid widespread anger and violence, the Modi government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to seek recall of its judgment that ruled that there would be no automatic arrest of an accused following a complaint moved under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
 
The Supreme Court had held on March 20 that police will hold an inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the complaint filed under the act before acting on it. 
 
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government "with due respect, does not agree with the reasoning given by the apex court".
 
IANS
 
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Two killed as violence grips India amid Dalit protests

Two persons were killed and many injured as violence gripped parts of India on Monday as Dalit groups enforced a day-long country-wide shutdown against a Supreme Court order they say dilutes a law to prevent atrocities against the marginalized Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

 
Bharat Bandh over "dilution" of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
Two persons were killed and many injured as violence gripped parts of India on Monday as Dalit groups enforced a day-long country-wide shutdown against a Supreme Court order they say dilutes a law to prevent atrocities against the marginalized Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
 
The government, in a bid to pacify the agitated Dalit activists, said it had filed a petition in the apex court seeking a review of its March 20 order that bars automatic arrest and registration of cases for alleged harassment of Dalits and others.
 
Protesters clashed with police in Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Odisha -- states where normal life was paralyzed in varying degrees amid incidences of violence and arson.
 
Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh where two persons were killed and dozens injured, forcing authorities to impose curfew at many places. Police said one person was killed in Bhind and the other in Morena.
 
Gwalior District Magistrate Rahul Jain told IANS that at least 22 persons were injured, some critically, in clashes in his district, where prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were also imposed. 
 
Protesters blocked rail tracks and set fire to vehicles, with plumes of fire and smoke seen on near barren roads.
 
The Madhya Pradesh government called the Army to control the situation in Bhind, Morena and Gwalior.
 
Punjab and Haryana also saw widespread protests.
 
Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed and Class 10 and 12 examinations were deferred in Punjab, which has the highest concentration of Scheduled Castes, constituting nearly 32 per cent its 2.8 crore population.
 
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda to shut down.
 
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Protests also took place in Rohtak and other towns of neighbouring Haryana.
 
In Bihar, activists disrupted rail and road traffic. Mobs shut down markets and shops as well as educational institutions, police said.
 
Supporters of the Bhim Army and other Dalit outfits halted over three dozen long-distance and local trains, stranding thousands of passengers.
 
"Train services have been badly disrupted due to the protest," an East Central Railway official told IANS.
 
Violence was reported from Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Nawada, Patna and Bhagalpur when protestors clashed with police.
 
Violence also erupted in parts of Uttar Pradesh as protesters attacked shops, looted some and pelted stones at police in Hapur, Agra, Meerut and Saharanpur.
 
Many cars were targeted and their window panes smashed. At some places, government property was targeted. 
 
Some people reportedly fired at a police team in Meerut while a passenger bus was set on fire. Pro-reservation groups indulged in vandalism at the Muzaffarnagar railway station, stoning the Kocchi Express.
 
Also in Meerut, over 500 Dalit youths targeted the media and broke their cameras as they were trying to photograph the protests. 
 
Amid widespread anger and violence, the government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to seek recall of its judgment that ruled that there would be no automatic arrest of an accused following a complaint moved under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
 
The Supreme Court had held on March 20 that police will hold an inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the complaint filed under the act before acting on it. 
 
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government "with due respect, does not agree with the reasoning given by the apex court".
 
He said senior government lawyers "will argue this matter with all their legal preparations and authority that this judgment needs to be reconsidered". 
 
IANS
 
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Protests against dilution of SC/ST Act hit Punjab, Haryana

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Activists from various Scheduled Castes (SC) organisations held protests in Punjab and Haryana against the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act following a Supreme Court order.
 
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda to shut down.
 
According to reports, some protesters tried to stop a train in Amritsar district earlier on Monday morning but relented following talks with railway officials. 
 
Demonstrators also entered the Jalandhar Cantt railway station, shouting slogans and burnt effigies on the tracks. 
 
Some highways and roads were also blocked. Traffic in and around Chandigarh was severely affected.
 
Protests were also reported from Rohtak and other towns in neighbouring Haryana.
 
Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed in Punjab. The final practical examinations of Class 10 and 12 of Punjab School Education Board, which were scheduled to be held on Monday, will now be held on April 11.
 
Various SC organisations will submit memorandums to district officers against the dilution of the Act.
 
The Punjab government on Sunday ordered a security clampdown across the state as a precautionary measure in view of Monday's protest.
 
The state has the highest concentration of scheduled castes among states. They constitute nearly 32 per cent of the state's 2.8 crore population.
 
Mobile internet services have been suspended from 5 p.m. on Sunday till Monday evening.
 
Noting that the Central government had already announced its decision to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appealed to the SC/ST community to defer its protest till the final decision on the petition comes.
 
IANS
 
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NHAI awards contract for Gurgaon–Sohna road in Haryana

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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued letter of award (LOA) for development of NH-8 (Delhi–Jaipur Highway) in Haryana on Hybrid Annuity Mode.
 
Development of this section of Dwarka Expressway will ensure seamless and safe movement of traffic between Delhi-Gurgaon and help in decongestion of existing Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, an official press release said.
 
This involves six-laning and strengthening of two separate sections of about nine and 13 kilometres of NH-248A in Gurugram at a cost of Rs 1255.77 crore. The project comprises four minor bridges, a flyover and five foot overbridges (FOBs), it said.
 
This stretch of Gurgaon–Sohna road will provide alternative connectivity of NH-8 to KMP Expressway and also help in decongestion of Delhi-Mumbai Corridor and enhance the efficiency of this stretch, the release added.
 
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NHAI awards contract for Dwarka Expressway in Haryana

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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued Letter of Award (LoA) for Package-4 of Dwarka Expressway from Basai Road Overbridge (RoB) to NH-8–SPR intersection in Haryana under the Bharatmala programme.
 
Development of this section of Dwarka Expressway will ensure seamless and safe movement of traffic between Delhi and Gurgaon and help in decongestion of the existing Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, an official press release said.
 
The eight-lane expressway (NH-248 BB) will be constructed on EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) mode at a cost of Rs 1047.007 crore. The 8.76 km stretch of the road will be constructed by Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T), the release said.
 
The project comprises an 8-lane elevated structure for main carriageway of Dwarka Expressway, trumpet interchange for Manesar Road and cloverleaf interchange with NH-8-SPR intersection. 
 
The completion period of the project is two years with maintenance period of four years. Under the project, a minor bridge will be widened, additional ROBs, five vehicle underpasses (VUP), six bus bays with bus shelter will be erected and four junction improvements will be carried out, the release said.
 
Dwarka Expressway has to be implemented in five packages. The first package of 5.3 km is from Shiv Murti to RuB, the second of 4.2 km from RuB to Haryana border, package 3 from Haryana border to Basai RoB - 10.2 km, package 4 from Basai RoB to NH-8 – SPR intersection - 8.77 Km, and the fifth package - 5 km of Western Airport Connectivity from Dwarka Expressway through tunnel, it added.
 
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BHEL secures Rs. 736 crore order for nuclear steam generators

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had secured an order worth Rs. 736 crore for the supply of steam generators from Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limted (NPCIL). 
 
The order has been received against competitive bidding, a press release from the company said here.
 
The steam generators will be used for a 700 MWe Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) to be installed at Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojna (GHAVP) in Fatehabad district of Haryana. The steam generators will be manufactured at the Tiruchirappalli plant of BHEL, it said.
 
BHEL has been a pioneer in the design and development of Nuclear Steam Generators alongwith NPCIL and has so far supplied 38 Steam Generators for various Nuclear power installations in the country. Currently, BHEL manufactured Steam Turbine Generator sets contribute nearly half of the country’s total installed Nuclear power capacity.
 
BHEL is the only Indian company associated with all the three stages of the Indian Nuclear Power Programme - the first stage Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR), the second stage Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) and the third stage Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) and has been a partner for over four decades in the development of the indigenous Nuclear Power Programme since its inception, the release added.
 
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Golf: Top stars in form as players from 31 countries all set for Hero Indian Open 2018

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An international starcast from over 30 countries including six players from the World’s Top-100 are all set to battle it out at the $ 1.75 million dollars Hero Indian Open Golf  to be  played at the Gary Player layout at the DLF Golf and Country Club from March 8 to 11. 
 
The field includes stars from 31 countries from across the world and has among  them a plethora of Order of Merit winners, past champions, Ryder Cup captains and a Major champion.
 
As the flagship event of Indian golf, the Hero Indian Open - which is one of the oldest events in the continent - comes closer, many of the top players have shown excellent form in the run-up to the event. 
 
One of the biggest draws in the event, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina - a teammate of India’s own Anirban Lahiri at the 2017 President's Cup - is coming fresh off a Top-10 finish last week on the PGA Tour. Both Grillo, a past winner on the PGA Tour, and Lahiri are flying in straight from the PGA National in Florida where they played last week.
 
Grillo, who was in Top 20 of three of the four Majors in 2016, is looking very strong once again in 2018. In the current wrap-around season, he already has two Top 10s on the PGA Tour, besides another T-12 in Mexico.
 
India’s Lahiri is also coming off two Top 10s in CIMB Classic and CJ Bridges Cup besides T-14 at Mayakoba, Mexico.
 
Even as the international players hold the spotlight, there will be considerable interest in India’s latest star, Shubhankar Sharma, who also features in his maiden World Golf Championships in Mexico this week. Shubhankar won two titles in the first two months of 2018, at the Joburg Open and the Malaysian Championships.
 
The men in form on the European Tour, Joost Luiten, winner of the NBO Oman Open, as also Chris Wood, who was second at the Oman event and T-13 in Qatar Masters, alongside England’s ever-smiling and hugely popular, Andrew Johnston, T-12 in Oman, are all looking forward to the event. Luiten was also T-12 in Malaysia, where Shubhankar emerged champion.
 
The field also boasts of two Ryder Cup captains of Europe, Darren Clarke - the 2011 Open winner and winner of two other WGC events, and Thomas Bjorn - winner of 21 titles and a former Top-10 world ranked player.
 
Clarke led the European Ryder Cup team in 2016, while Bjorn will be at the helm for the 2018 Ryder Cup in France this year. Bjorn has finished runner-up at a Major as many as three times, including twice at the Open Championships.
 
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“I have heard so much about India and Indian golf that I can’t wait to get there,” said Andrew Johnston, one of most popular players on the European Tour with a massive following.
 
Johnston, who has also had a stint on the US PGA Tour, added, “I simply love Indian food and Shiv Kapur has promised to take me out for an Indian meal and I am looking forward to that. As for golf, Indians like SSP (Chawrasia) and Shubhankar (Sharma) are doing so well, so it will be great to play in India.”
 
Also looking forward to India is Chris Wood, whose six-foot-six inch height will make for a great contrast as he stands alongside the reigning two-time Hero Indian Open winner, the diminutive SSP Chawrasia. The two have played together often on European Tour and were also pitted against each other in the singles at the 2016 EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.
 
On the Indian side, the virtual who’s who of Indian golf will be present and that includes the two players who have accounted for the past three Hero Indian Open titles – Anirban Lahiri in 2015 and Chawrasia in 2016 and 2017. Also present is Siddikur Rahman - winner in 2013.
 
All the five Indian winners on 2017 Asian and European Tours - Shiv Kapur (3 titles), Chawrasia, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sandhu and Shubhankar - are present in the field.
 
The field also includes the past three winners of the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings – Gavin Green (2017), Scott Hend (2016) and Lahiri (2015).
 
Past champions of HIO:
 
SSP Chawrasia (2017, 2016), Anirban Lahiri (2015), SIddikur Rahman (2013), David Gleeson (2011), Liang Wen-chong (2008), Jyoti Randhawa (2007, 2006, 2000), Thongchai Jaidee (2001), Arjun Atwal (1999).
 
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Khelo India: Haryana beat Jharkhand to win girls hockey gold, Punjab third

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A dying moment goal by Anu helped Haryana pip Jharkhand 2-1 to win the Girls Hockey title and gold in the Khelo India School Games at Dhyan Chand National Stadium,New Delhi on Thursday.
 
Interestingly, both the teams were involved in the first and the last match of the competition. 
 
In the  opening league match, Haryana had beaten Jharkhand 4-2 and  though this morning the margin was cut down to exactly half, still Haryana had  the last laugh.      
 
Earlier,  Punjab  survived  some  anxious moments to put it across Chandigarh 5-4 to claim the bronze.  
 
The final turned out to be an engrossing affair with both the teams giving their best to earn the distinction of  winning the inaugural  competition.
 
However,  the victory margin  is not a true reflection of  domination Haryana girls enjoyed.
 
In the first half,  the winners muffed three good chances, two off penalty corners and one solo effort. Jharkhand, on the other hand, earned six penalty corners but failed to convert any of them. At  half time, Jharkhand led 1-0.
 
Haryana strikers Manju and Komal  spearheaded their team's charge but   could not breach the rival’s crowded defence. The winners were rudely rattled in the 32nd minute  when Jharkhand launched a tearing counter attack and in-form Subhani Bhengra made no mistake in sending the ball home  (1-0) after being set up by Beauty Dung Dung.
 
Eight minutes into the second half, Haryana drew parity with skipper Sharmila scoring off a penalty corner (1-1). Spurred by this equalizer, the winners went flat out on  the offensive, forcing their rivals to retreat.
 
Having taken control of the mid-field, Haryana forwards attacked from all sides but the goal eluded them.  Manju, Komal Jyoti made solo attempts only to be foiled by the rival defenders.
 
As time ticked away and the possibility of a penalty shootout loomed large, Haryana struck through Anu, who intercepted a rebound and slammed the ball home (2-1), giving no chance to Jharkhand to retaliate.
 
Haryana coach Nitin Sabharwal later said that his players played well. "We should have won with much higher margin," he said.
 
“We had beaten Jharkhand earlier, we were aware of their tactics and game plan and we planned our strategy accordingly which worked well," he said.
 
Jharkhand team manager Pradeep Mirdha opined, “My  girls played good but  could not convert the chances that came their way."
 
For the third place, three goals by Simranjeet Kaur enabled Punjab quell Chandigarh‘s second half upsurge.
 
For the winners who led 2-1 at half-time,other goal scorers were Baljeet Kaur and Mitali (one each). For the losers, Sonu (2), Barkha and Monu (one each ) scored.      
 
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Haryana’s Manu Bhaker strikes gold in 10m Air Pistol; Saurabh claims gold in the boy’s event

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Manu Bhaker (Universal Sr. Secondary School, Jhajjar, Haryana) came up with a stunning performance in the 10M Air Pistol event for girls, breaking two junior national records during the course of the day at the first Khelo India School Games here today.
 
That earned Manu a well-deserved gold at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Ranges.
 
Manu also led a clean sweep by Haryana girls who dominated the podium by claiming the top three positions. Haryana’s domination was emphasised by the presence of five shooters from the state in the eight finalists.
 
In the boys event, UP’s Saurabh Choudhary (UP Board, Allahabad) claimed gold in a nail biting finish that went down to the final shot after he had frittered away a good early lead.    
 
In the qualification round, Manu broke the three-year-old junior national record of 385 set by Malaika Goel in 2013. The Jhajjar-based shooter fired a score of 387 that included 13 shots with scores of 10 or above. 
 
In the finals, she maintained her fine form right from the start with the first set of five shots. In fact, she started the finals round with a near-perfect score of 10.8.  Over a span of 24 shots in the finals, Manu hit the centre of the target 12 times for scores of 10 or above. 
 
Behind Manu was her Haryana teammate Anjali Choudhary (Rising Sun Public School, Karnal) and she shot 234.7 to claim silver. Anjali qualified in fourth place with a score of 379. Tanu Rawal (Rising Sun Public School, Karnal) claimed bronze with a score of 214.8 after qualifying in eighth place with a score of 373. 
 
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The finals of the boys’ event turned out to be a gripping affair after Saurabh lost his healthy lead of 2.1 points. That allowed Vijayveer Sidhu (Government Senior Secondary School, Chandigarh) to tie the scores at 230.1 after 23 shots in the finals. While Saurabh struggled to find the bullseye, Vijayveer consistently scored 10 or above from the 15th shot onwards. 
 
With the fate of the gold medal hanging by a slender margin of one shot, Saurabh, who has qualified for the 2018 Youth Olympics and Junior World Cups, relied on his experience to calm his nerves to fire 10 with his 24th shot, while Vijayveer could only manage 9.7. That was enough to ensure gold for the UP shooter by a mere 0.3 points. 
 
Arjun Cheema, who matched Saurabh shot for shot in the initial phase of the finals, lost the momentum midway and had to settle for bronze.    
 
Results:
 
Girls: 10M Air Pistol
 
1.      Manu Bhaker  241.1 New National Record in junior girls finals  (387 New National Record in qualifying, 1st) Haryana  2. Anjali Choudhary 234.7 (380, 2nd), Haryana  3. Tanu Rawal 214.8 (373, 8th), Haryana
 
Boys: 10M Air Pistol
 
1.      Saurabh Choudhary 240.1 (585,1st) U.P. 2. Vijayveer Sidhu 239.8 (565, 8th) Chandigarh 3. Arjun Cheema 217.3 (574, 2nd)
 
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Khelo India: Haryana dominates final day’s wrestling with seven gold

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Haryana, acknowledged as one of the country’s biggest boxing bastions, also dominated the final day of wrestling competitions at the inaugural Khelo India School Games at the KD Jadhav Stadium here on Sunday, winning seven of the ten finals. 
 
Haryana made a clean sweep of all three Greco-Roman boys finals and the three finals in Girls freestyle on Sunday.
 
The stars of the final day of wrestling were World-level wrestlers Sonam and Anshu, who put up fantastic performances to outshine their competitors. 
 
With a ruthless performance, the 2017 World Cadet Wrestling 56kg class champion Sonam got the better of fellow Haryana wrestler Mansi in the 65kg category.  
 
Anshu, a 60kg gold medalist at the 2017 World Cadet Championships, outperformed Karnataka's Leena Antony in the same weight category here.
 
Another wrestler who caught the eye was Uttar Pradesh's Gaurav Balyan. He won the sole gold medal for his State on Sunday after an intense fight with Haryana's Rahul Solankar in the 69kg freestyle final. He helped apply a brake on Haryana's stream of medals. It was a close match despite Balyan holding on to a slender lead throughout the bout.
 
Towards the end of the match, however, it did seem that his partner Solankar would catch up, but a last-second brilliance from Balyan ensured that he held on to his lead and ended up with gold.
 
With the National Cadet Championships coming up later this month, this batch of wrestlers will be looking to perform well in an effort to head to the Youth Olympics later this year. Preparation seems to be on track as quite a few big names lived up to the level of performance that was expected of them.
 
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Results:
Boys 
Freestyle:
 
69kg class: Gaurav Balyan (Uttar Pradesh) beat Rahul Solankar (Haryana). Bronze medals: Sanjeev Kumar (Maharashtra) and Rahul (Haryana). 
76kg class: Ankit Vats (Delhi) beat Vetal Shelke (Maharashtra). Bronze medals: Sheeta Guliya (Delhi) and Ankit (Haryana).
85kg class: Joginder (Haryana) beat Kapil Phaeswal (Delhi). Bronze medals: Sunil Padatare (Karnataka) and Abhishek Kaushish (Punjab)
100kg class: Sahil (Punjab) beat Monu Dahiya (Delhi). Bronze medals: Ankit Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) and Prashant Suryavansi (Maharashtra).
 
Boys: Greco-Roman:
 
69kg class: Vikas (Haryana) beat Sachin (Haryana). Bronze medals: Shivanand S Bangi (Karnataka) and Lavnish (Uttar Pradesh).
85kg class: Ravi Malik (Haryana) beat Mehar Singh (Haryana). Bronze medals: Gautam (Punjab) and Rohit (Haryana).
100kg class: Nitiesh Kumar (Haryana) beat Nitiesh Kumar (Haryana). Bronze medals: Vicky (Haryana) and Sonu (Delhi).
 
Girls:
 
60kg class: Anshu (Haryana) beat Leena Antony (Karnataka). Bronze medals: Komal (Himachal Pradesh) and Srushti Bhosale (Maharashtra).
65kg class: Sonam (Haryana) beat Mansi (Haryana). Bronze medals: Vishranti Patil (Maharashtra) and Harshada Jadhav (Maharashtra).
70kg class: Ravita Kumari (Haryana) beat Pathan Sanofar (Gujarat). Bronze medals: Ashpreet Kaur (Punjab) and Varsha Chaudhry (Uttar Pradesh).
 
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Khelo India: Haryana, Punjab top their pools with all-win record in Girls Hockey

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Striker Sharmila scored five goals, including the first hat-trick in the Girls Hockey competition of Khelo India School Games to help Haryana trounce Chhattisgarh 8-1 while Punjab overwhelmed Delhi 6-1 as the two teams with all-win records topped their respective Pool A and B at Dhyan Chand Stadium here today.
 
Chhattisgarh, for the third time in the league, became the  target for shooting practice with the Haryana girls scoring three and five goals in each half. Besides Sharmila, the other scorers for the winners were Usha, Priya and Komal (one each). For the losers Nema Nirmalkar reduced the margin.
 
Chhattisgarh finished at the bottom of the pool, losing all their matches in which they conceded 27 goals while scoring one. For the losers the highlight was the first goal they scored in the competition through Nema.
 
 
In-form Simranjeet Kaur fired four goals to help Punjab  drub Delhi 6-1 in Pool B.  Neha chipped in with the other two. Delhi have lost all their three league matches, conceding 12 goals as against the three they  scored, one in each match. Anuradha was the goal scorer for them in this game.
 
In other matches of the day, Jharkhand outplayed Uttar Pradesh 4-1 in Pool A and Chandigarh pipped spirited Odisha 5-3.
 
Jharkhand proved to be too hot for Uttar Pradesh in all departments of the game. The winners led 1-0 at half time and pumped in three more in the second session to complete the tally. Rajni Kerketta (2), Beauty Dung Dung and Ropni Kumari (one each) scored for the winners. Amreen Hamid chipped in with a goal  for the losers.
 
Haryana lead Pool A followed, by Jharkhand, UttarPradesh and Chhattisgarh. In Pool B, Punjab is followed by Chandigarh, Odisha and Delhi.
 
In the knock-out  stage (quarter-finals),  Haryana will take on Delhi, Punjab will face Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand will clash with Odisha and  Chandigarh will play Uttar Pradesh  on Monday.
 
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Puri reviews urban development programmes in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh

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Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs (HoUA) Hardeep Singh Puri reviewed the progress of urban development missions of the Central Government in Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh here yesterday.
 
The progress of the flagship missions of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs shows that while the States have taken a number of steps to implement the various schemes for urban development, they all have a potential to do better, Mr. Puri said on the occasion.
 
He said successful implementation of the programmes would further add to the attraction of these states as a hub for agricultural business and would increase the employment opportunities for citizens.
 
Mr. Puri pointed out that in the management approach of the present central government, the principle of co-operative federalism has been enshrined. In all of its Missions MoHUA approves only the State Plans prepared by the States and releases Central Assistance. All decision-making including final project approvals is in the hands of the State Governments, thus providing greater flexibility to them.
 
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Kavita Jain, Local Bodies Ministers, Punjab and Haryana, respectively, Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA, Parimal Rai, Adviser to the Administrator, UT, Chandigarh and the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Haryana along with concerned senior officers of  both the States and Chandigarh attended the meeting.
 
 
Under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Punjab was focusing on universal coverage of water in the urban areas and proposes to provide 4.6 lakh new house connections. It has already provided 1.45 lakhs tap connections. About 36% of the approved Action Plan is directed towards water supply and 61% towards sewerage, an  official press release said.
 
Under the Mission, 10 contracts worth Rs 335 crore have been awarded and tenders for three projects worth Rs 160 crore have been invited. The State was urged to complete the preparation of DPRs worth Rs. 1708 crore.
 
Punjab aims to declare the State open defecation free (ODF) by October 2018. However, so far, only 61 urban local bodies (ULBs) out of 164 have been declared as ODF. The State has agreed to expedite the programme. The State has achieved 100% door-to-door collection in 2003 wards out of its 3043 wards. However, the State is processing only 15% of the waste generated. The State needs to take steps to process all the waste being produced, the release said.
 
Three Smart Cities have been selected in Punjab --  Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. In all the three cities, Smart Projects to be implemented have been selected. In all the three cities, detailed project reports (DPRs) are under preparation.
 
Thus, 11 projects worth Rs 3385 crore in Amritsar, 19 projects worth Rs 1899 crore in Jalandhar and 19 projects worth Rs 1898 crore in Ludhiana are at the DPR stage.  The projects include setting up of ‘Integrated Smart city Centre’, Smart roads, and so on, it said.
 
Phase I of integrated command and control centre has been completed in Ludhaina. When implemented, this will improve the traffic congestion, increase open spaces and improve the public amenities.   
 
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Projects for improvement of Rambagh Garden, improvement of Gol Bagh, up-gradation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama at Amritsar are underway under heritage city. So far, projects worth Rs 61 crore have been approved for Amritsar under this scheme and Rs 45 crore have already been released. Being a heritage city, it needs to improve solid waste processing, the release said.
 
A demand for about 3.5 lakh houses in the 163 towns in the State under PMAY has been indicated. Total investment envisaged is Rs. 1,182 crore with Central assistance amounting to Rs. 597 crore.
 
So far, Rs. 64 crore of Central assistance has been disbursed. As many as 329 projects have been sanctioned for construction of 42,497 houses. Only 11,105 houses (26%) of these have been grounded of which only 392 have been completed.
 
Under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme of PMAY (Urban), 838 beneficiaries have availed an interest subsidy of Rs. 16.81 crore. The State has submitted proposals to cover 12% of its demand so far. 
 
It is required to fast track proposals for about 1.25 to 1.5 lakh houses to saturate 50% of its demand by 2017-18. Further, only oneproposal for 1,025 houses has been received under In-situ Slum Rehabilitation (ISSR) component despite huge potential from 2.9 lakh slum households (Census 2011). The State has to expedite grounding of the sanctioned houses and fast track proposals for additional demands, the release said.
 
The State has achieved only 20% of the target for training of candidates in the current year. Only 6% of these trained persons could be suitably placed. The State may strive to impart training in consultation with business and industry to ensure full placement.
 
The State has also to complete survey of urban homeless and make provision of shelters for urban homeless expeditiously, it said.
 
Under AMRUT, Haryana has a target of providing 2.74 lakh new tap connections by the end of mission period, thereby providing water connections to the entire urban population of the state.
 
So far, 80,000 connections have been provided. While 23% of the approved Action Plan is directed towards water supply, 53% is towards sewerage. Under the Mission, contracts worth Rs 722 crore have been awarded and projects worth Rs 86 crore are at the tendering stage. The State was urged to complete the DPRs for projects worth Rs 1358 crore.
 
Haryana is a certified ODF State. The State has achieved 100% door-to-door collection in 966 wards out of its 1475 wards. However, the State is processing only 3% of the waste generated. The State needs to take steps to process all the waste being produced. Execution of the waste to energy and waste to compost plants under execution may be expedited, the release said.
 
Two Smart Cities have been selected in Haryana -- Karnal and Faridabad. In both the cities, Smart Projects to be implemented have been selected. As many as 60 projects worth Rs 2342 crore have been approved and are at the DPR/tendering stage. The projects include rejuvenation of Badhkal lake and Barahi Talab in Faridabad, These, when implemented, will improve the environment in these cities and also provide more leisure facilities.
 
A demand for about 3.5 lakh houses in the 80 statutory towns in the State under PMAY has been indicated. Total investment envisaged is Rs. 1,743 crore with Central assistance amounting to Rs. 375 crore. The release said 85 projects had been sanctioned for construction of 24,980 houses. However, only 720 houses (1%) of these have been grounded.
 
Under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme of PMAY (Urban), 1016 beneficiaries have availed an interest subsidy of Rs. 18.92 crore. The State has submitted proposals to cover 27% of its demand so far. 
 
It has been requested to fast track proposals for at least 60,000 houses to saturate 50% of its demand by 2017-18. Further, no proposals have been received under In-situ Slum Rehabilitation (ISSR) component despite huge potential from 3.3 lakh slum households (Census 2011). The State has to expedite grounding of the sanctioned houses and fast track proposals for additional demands, it said.
 
The State has achieved 64% of the target for training of candidates in the current year. Only 8% of these trained persons could be suitably placed. The State may strive to impart training in consultation with business and industry to ensure full placement, the release said.
 
Haryana has also to complete survey of urban homeless and make provision of shelters for urban homeless expeditiously.
 
In Chandigarh, under AMRUT, the focus is on universal coverage of water in the urban areas and there are proposals to provide 13,000 new house connections. While 35% of the approved Action Plan is directed towards water supply, 64% is towards sewerage.
 
Under the Mission, contracts worth Rs 33 crore have been awarded and DPRs have yet to be prepared for projects worth Rs 60 crore. The UT was urged to complete the preparation of DPRs worth Rs 60 crore. Chandigarh has replaced 39,000 of the targeted 46,000 conventional streetlights with LED lights.
 
Chandigarh is a certified ODF city and the city has also achieved 100% of the Mission target for Individual Household Latrines (IHHLs). The city has achieved 100% door-to-door collection in all its 26 wards, the release said.
 
The city has very impressive achievements in SBM; however, it is lagging in SWM with only 30% of the waste generated being processed. The UT  needs to take rapid steps to improve waste processing and ensure that 100% waste gets processed, it said.
 
As many as 70 projects worth Rs 6214 crore have been approved and Central Assistance amounting to Rs. 196 crore released for the city. In Chandigarh, six projects costing Rs. 56.7 crore have been completed and contracts for Rs. 185 crore are under implementation/tendering. In respect of the remaining projects costing Rs. 5919 crore, DPRs are being prepared.
 
It was urged that the impactful projects, which will improve the quality of life for the citizens, might be taken up expeditiously.         
 
The UT Administration has indicated a demand for about 12,900 houses under PMAY. Under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme of PMAY (Urban), 35 beneficiaries have availed an interest subsidy of Rs. 0.68 crore.
 
The UT Administration is yet to submit any proposal and is required to fast track proposals for about 12,887 houses to saturate its entire demand by 2017-18.
 
No proposal has received under In-situ Slum Rehabilitation (ISSR) component of PMAY (Urban), despite the potential for 0.22 lakh slum households (Census 2011). The UT has to expedite grounding of the sanctioned houses and fast track proposals for additional demands, the release said.
 
Further, it was also pointed out that 5,170 houses constructed in earlier schemes of JNNURM and RAY are still unoccupied and urgent steps may be taken to ensure their occupation, it said.
 
The State has achieved only 27% of the target for skill training of candidates in the current year. Only 16% of these trained persons could be suitably placed. The State may strive to impart training in consultation with business and industry to ensure full placement.
 
The State has also to complete survey of urban homeless and make provision of shelters for urban homeless expeditiously, the release added.
 
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Two dead, two injured in fire at IOC's Panipat Naphtha Cracker complex

 
Fire in IOC's Naptha craker complex in Panipat: two dead
Two persons died and two others suffered injuries in a fire that broke out inside the catalyst building (pumping area) of the Polyethylene Swing Unit of the Panipat Naphtha Cracker complex of the Indian Oil Corporation yesterday, IOC sources said.
 
An IOC press release said the fire, which broke out at about 1230 hours yesterday, was brought under control quickly by the fire and safety crew and personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and emergency services.
 
The release one of a contractor's workers, Mohan Lal, resident of Baljattan village, lost his life at the site of the accident. 
 
Three Indian Oil employees, who had suffered injuries were shifted to a hospital in Panipat and later to Apollo Hospital in Delhi, where one of them, Bhhanojee Seepana, succumbed to his injuries.
 
Meanwhile, a committee of senior officials is investigating the cause of the fire. As a precautionary measure, the swing unit is temporarily under shutdown. All other units are under normal operations at Panipat Naphtha Cracker and Panipat Refinery to ensure uninterrupted supply of petroleum and petrochemical products, the release added.
 
"IndianOil is committed to taking care of all its stakeholders and the present focus is on providing the best possible assistance to those affected and supporting their families. An ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh has been sanctioned to the bereaved family of Mohan Lal by IndianOil. Additionally, Rs. 5 lakh will be given to his family by the contractor, Prakash Construction. Compensation to the family of Bhhanojee Seepana is being extended under the extant rules of the Corporation," the release added.
 
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Cyberspace emerges as fourth dimension of threats to national security: Rajnath Singh

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that a fourth dimension has been added to national security threats in the form of attacks in the cyberspace.
 
Addressing the closing ceremony of the 8th All India Police Commando Competition at Manesar, Gurgoan, near here, yesterday, the Home Minister said the commandos should also train to stamp out threats from the cyberspace, apart from conventional threats emanating on the land, the seas and in the air. 
 
Hacking of websites and data leaks also indirectly imperil national security, he added.
 
Commending the smart turnout of the commandos, he said a commando, apart from physical agility and deftness in firing weapons, possessed a composed mindset to conduct a threat assessment and apply one’s resources to overcome the threat.
 
The commandos made the nation proud, having proved their mettle during the 2001 Parliament attack in 2001, Akshardham temple attack in 2002, Mumbai attack in 2008 and the recent Pathankot terrorist attack, he said. The Minister declared a contribution of Rs 5 crore towards the NSG Welfare Fund.
 
On the occasion, he released a compendium and a coffee table book. He took the salute of the march past and presented medals and trophies to the winners.
 
The week-long 8th All India Police Commando Competition was organised by the National Security Guard (NSG) in which 25 teams from different Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and State Police Forces participated.
 
The NSG team won the prestigious competition. The teams from the BSF and the Maharashtra Police secured second and third positions, respectively. 
 
A Sniper Shooting Competition was also introduced for the first time in the All India Police Commando Competition. An equipment display was organised on the sidelines of the competition where the latest weapons and equipment for the security forces were showcased. 
 
NSG Director General Sudhir Pratap Singh and Director, IB, Rajiv Jain were among those present.
 
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SC stays ban by three States on screening of film "Padmaavat"

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a stay of the operation of the notifications and orders issued by three States against the screening of the film "Padmaavat" and also restrained other States from issuing similar orders in any manner prohibiting the exhibition of the movie.

A poster of the film Padmaavat
A poster of the film Padmaavat
The Supreme Court today ordered a stay of the operation of the notifications and orders issued by four States against the screening of the film "Padmaavat" and also restrained other States from issuing similar orders in any manner prohibiting the exhibition of the movie.
 
"We are sure, the concerned State authorities shall keep paragraph 27 of the judgment in the case of Prakash Jha (supra) in mind which clearly lays down that it is the paramount obligation of the State to maintain law and order," a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and D. Y. Chandrachud said in an interim order on a petition filed by Viacom 18 Media Private Limited, the producers of the film, and others against the ban imposed by Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana.
 
"It should always be remembered that if intellectual prowess and natural or cultivated power of creation is interfered without the permissible facet of law, the concept of creativity paves the path of extinction; and when creativity dies, values of civilization corrode.
 
"Keeping in view the fact situation, we have no hesitation in stating by way of repetition and without any fear of contradiction that it is the duty of the State to sustain the law and order situation whenever the film is exhibited, which would also include providing police protection to the persons who are involved in the film / in the exhibition of the film and the audience watching the film, whenever sought for or necessary," the judges said, listing the matter for March 26 for final disposal.
 
Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgri, submitted that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had issued a certificate under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 after constituting an Expert Committee which had seen the movie, critically examined it and suggested few excisions which had been carried out. The CBFC also directed the producer to file two disclaimers, which he had filed.
 
The CBFC had certified that the film is fit for public exhibition with an  endorsement of caution that the question as to whether any child below the age of 12 years may be allowed to see the film should be considered by the parents or guardian of such child, and also subject to excision and modification sought.
 
Directed by Sanjay Leela Bansali, Padmaavat has actors Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in the lead roles. The film is due for worldwide release on January 25. Apart from Hindi, the film will also be released in Tamil and Telugu.
 
The court noted that the notification issued by the Gujarat Government had said the ban was necessary in the public interest and to maintain the law and order situation in the state. The Rajasthan Government's order also said similar things, while the Haryana Government was yet to issue formal orders in this regard.
 
The court noted that the disclaimers made by the producers said that the film was inspired from the epic poem Padmavat, written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, which is considered a work of fiction. They said the film does not infer or claim historical authenticity or accuracy in terms of the names of the places, characters, sequence of events, locations, spoken languages, dance forms, costumes and/or such other details. They also said they did not intend to disrespect, impair or disparage the beliefs, feelings, sentiments of any person(s), community(ies) and their culture(s), custom(s), practice(s) and tradition(s).
 
The second disclaimer said the film did not intend to encourage or support "sati" or such other practices.
 
Counsel for the petitioners argued that, once a certificate had been issued by the CBFC, the States could not issue notifications or orders prohibiting the exhibition of the film in theaters. Citing the judgement in the case of Prakash Jha Productions & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. (2011), they said it was obligatory on the part of the State to maintain the law and order situation effectively because it is the responsibility of the State to maintain law and order as was laid down in the case of  Union of India v. K.M. Shankarappa (2001).
 
Mr. Salve and Mr. Rohatgi contended that the Act is a parliamentary legislation and the CBFC has been constituted under the said Act and once the CBFC exercises the power and suggests certain excisions and the producers without appealing against the said directions, accept the same and certificate is issued, the States, taking recourse to law and order, cannot prohibit the film from being exhibited. It was also contended by them, the term "being publicly exhibited" as has been interpreted in the case of Prakash Jha (supra) has to be appositely understood by the authorities. They said that the freedom of speech and expression and the creative potentiality through any medium including the medium of celluloid cannot be curtailed in this manner.'
 
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Mr. Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor General, appearing for Gujarat and Rajasthan, submitted that  the grant of Certificate by the CBFC cannot denude the the State of the power to prohibit the exhibition of a film. He also argued that State Governments could suspend the public exhibition of a film if they are of the opinion that it was likely to cause breach of the peace. He also said the CBFC was not in a position to take all aspects into consideration as it does not have the inputs regarding the law and order situation in the concerned States.
 
Stating that they were, for the present, considering the prayer for grant of interim relief, the judges said creative content was an insegregable aspect of Article 19(1) of the Constitution. 
 
"Needless to emphasise, this right is not absolute. There can be regulatory measures. Regulatory measures are reflectible from the language employed under Section 5B of the Act and the guidelines issued by the Central Government. Once the parliamentary legislation confers the responsibility and the power on a statutory Board and the Board grants certification, non-exhibition of the film by the States would be contrary to the statutory provisions and infringe the fundamental right of the petitioners. That apart, as we understand at present from paragraph 27 of the judgment in the case of Prakash Jha (supra), it is the duty and obligation of the State to maintain law and order in the State. We may also note here with profit that the guidelines are to be kept in mind by CBFC. 
 
"For the sake of completeness, we reproduce the relevant part of the guidelines :
“2. In pursuance of the above objectives, the Board of Film Certification shall ensure that...
... ...
(vii) human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;
... ... ...
(ix) scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented;
... ... ...
(xii) visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented;
(xiii) visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitudes are not presented;
... ... ...
(xvii) public order is not endangered;'
 
"It has to be borne in mind, expression of an idea by any one through the medium of cinema which is a public medium has its own status under the Constitution and the Statute. There is a Censor Board under the Act which allows grant of certificate for screening of the movies. As we scan the language of the Act and the guidelines framed thereunder it prohibits use and presentation of visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups.
 
"Be that as it may. As advised at present once the Certificate has been issued, there is prima facie a presumption that the concerned authority has taken into account all the guidelines including public order," they said.
 
They disagreed with Mr. Mehta's contention that grant of an interim order would tantamount to final expression of an opinion on the merits of the case. 
 
"We do not think so. If a substantial ground is established in law by the States, there may be a different perception, for we are passing an interim order, considering the prima facie case and having due regard to the fundamental conception of right of freedom of speech and expression," they added.
 
Originally, the movie, then called Padmavati, was due for release on December 1 but the producers announced on November 20 that they had decided to defer the release in the face of continuing protests by Rajput and other groups against the period drama for allegedly distorting history.
 
The film has become the subject of a major controversy, with various groups accusing its makers of distorting Rajput history and the story of Rani Padmini. While some say that Padmini was only  a fictional character, there are others who insist she was a historical figure. In any case, she is widely revered in Rajasthan.
 
Fringe elements have issued death  and violence threats against Bhansali and actress Deepika Padukone, who plays the title role in the film. 
 
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NDMA conducts mock exercise in Haryana on earthquake

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A State-level mock exercise on earthquake was conducted by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in Haryana today for assessing the preparedness and response mechanism of the State Government in a disaster situation. 
 
The exercise was conducted in collaboration with the Haryana State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), an official press release said.
 
The exercise simulated an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale with its epicentre at West of Gurugram along the Jaipur Ridge and the Sohna Fault line, it said.
 
The simulation exercise was conducted simultaneously at 122 select locations, including hospitals, shopping malls, schools, high-rise residential buildings and major hazardous units, spread across all 22 districts to assess and improve the administration’s capacity in mobilising resources and reaching out to the affected communities swiftly.
 
The state-wide exercise started with a siren indicating the occurrence of tremors. Everybody ducked under the tables while covering their heads. Once the tremors stopped, evacuation drills were conducted. Soon afterwards, the State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) was activated.
 
Simultaneously, EOCs at the districts also got activated, assessed the damage, formed rescue teams under Incident Commanders and dispatched them to the respective locations. Rescue drills were conducted in coordination with various agencies, such as Traffic control, Fire Fighting department, Ambulances, Police and Civil Defence. People buried under the rubble were rescued and sent to hospitals after administering preliminary first aid.
 
After the drill, a post-exercise analysis was carried out by NDMA, in which all concerned officials took part. Independent observers from Army shared their feedback and suggested ways to further streamline response mechanisms.
 
Today’s exercise was preceded by an orientation conference on December 6, followed by a coordination conference on December 19, and a tabletop exercise conducted yesterday through videoconferencing with all districts from the State Capital. These preparatory meetings were conducted to ensure the smooth facilitation of the exercise.
 
"Haryana falls in the seismic zone IV, III, and II. Moreover, tremors have been felt in the State whenever there is an earthquake in the Himalayan foothills due to its proximity to the hill States. Moreover, the State has witnessed rapid industrial-residential urbanisation in the recent past. An earthquake can cause major damage in terms of lives and infrastructure. This mock drill will ensure better response in the event of a disaster to reduce loss of lives," the release added.
 
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Table Top Exercise held on the eve of Earthquake Mock Exercise in Haryana

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The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) conducted a table-top exercise at the State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) here today.
 
The exercise was held in the run-up to the State-level mock exercise on earthquake preparedness to be held in Haryana tomorrow.
 
All District Collectors and their teams participated in the exercise through video-conferencing. The Disaster Management Plans (DMPs) of the districts had been updated, Response Teams identified and other preparations for the exercise had been put in place. This was followed by presentations by various stakeholder departments.
 
The table-top exercise was conducted based on scenarios created in collaboration with State Departments as per seismic mapping and other related hazards.
 
Independent observers were briefed about their role and standard feedback forms were provided to them. Sites for the mock exercise and administrative arrangements were finalised.
 
The exercise was attended by senior-level officials of the State Government, representatives of stakeholder central agencies, all district collectors and their teams.
 
Earlier, a Coordination and an Orientation Conference were also held to ensure the smooth facilitation of the mock exercise, which is being conducted by NDMA in collaboration with the Haryana State Disaster Management Authority.
 
The National Disaster Guidelines emphasises on prevention, mitigation and preparedness for a disaster situation. In its efforts towards improving the management of a disaster situation, NDMA regularly conducts such mock exercises across the country.
 
So far, NDMA has conducted more than 600 mock exercises in different States and Union Territories, which is an ongoing process, an official release said.
 
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Unique science gallery to open in Bangalore next year

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Bangalore, often referred to as the science and technology hub of India, is all set to host a unique science gallery where science and the arts will interact.
 
Called Science Gallery Bengaluru (SGB), the unique venture is a partnership between the Dublin-based Global Science Gallery Network and the Karnataka government as well as leading scientific institutions.
 
The global network has Trinity College Dublin, King’s College London and University of Melbourne among its members. The gallery in Bangalore will be the first one in Asia. The Indian nstitute of Science, the National Centre for Biological Sciences, and Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology are partners for the Bangalore gallery.
 
The Science Gallery Bengaluru is not going to be another science museum as such as “we do not and will not have our own collections,” insists Jahnavi Phalkey, a historian of science and technology, who has been appointed Director of the gallery.
 
“You can think of it as a participatory laboratory where artists and experts from across disciplines engage with each other and with students to come up with interesting questions, and interesting solutions to them in the long run. This engagement will produce material that will become part of the exhibitions at SGB,” Phalkey told India Science Wire.
 
The gallery will promote cross-linking of disciplines and social issues in novel ways, and will try to engage young people in the age group of 15 to 25. “We will not only change how we view often-disparate areas but also see how we might work together. I am particularly keen on students learning alongside scholars through tinkering and experiments,” said Phalkey.
 
She said the galley activities will engage young people - higher secondary school onwards into the last university years. “The goal is one of engagement with science and not science communication alone.”
 
“Activities in our own building will start in 2021. In the meanwhile, we hope to use public and institutional spaces in the city to begin with our programming,” Phalkey said. “We will produce events and exhibitions to nurture a creative and critical appreciation of science – and its relationship to nature and culture – in Indian public life.”
 
The gallery will also serve as a year-round public engagement platform for research carried out in the three participating research institutions, around key research themes of local interest.
 
Science Gallery International (SGI), the charity established to develop the Global Science Gallery Network, hopes to establish eight university-linked galleries worldwide by 2020. 
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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NDMA to conduct mock exercise on earthquake in Haryana on December 21

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The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will conduct a State-level mock exercise on earthquake in Haryana on December 21.
 
The exercise is being held in collaboration with the Haryana State Disaster Management Authority (HSDMA). This is the first State-level mock exercise on earthquake covering all districts of the State. It will help improve the preparedness and response mechanism in the event of any major disaster, including an earthquake, an official press release said.
 
In the run-up to the exercise, an orientation conference was held on  Friday at the State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) in Chandigarh. Concerned officials, including the State's Additional Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, Revenue Secretary, Director General attended the conference.
 
Additional Director General of Police, Heads of line Directorates and representatives from Army's Western Command and South Western Command, Central Reserve Police Force and National Disaster Response Force also were at the meeting. Officials from other districts participated in the conference through video conferencing.
 
The mock exercise will comprise the following step-by-step activities: Coordination Conference on December 19; Table Top Exercise on December 20 and the Mock Exercise on December 21.
 
The mock exercise will be followed by a detailed debriefing session where gaps, if any, for improving preparedness will be discussed.
 
The exercise will be conducted on the principle of Incident Response System (IRS), which identifies stakeholders and clearly attributes roles and responsibilities to each one of them.
 
It will enhance preparedness and ensure a swift response by reducing ad hoc responses. Accordingly, NDMA is also conducting division-wise training for State officials on IRS from December 1-15.
 
The exercise will help in filling gaps, ensuring better communication and improving coordination among various stakeholders and agencies. It will also generate awareness among the local population about the Do's and Don'ts to be followed before, during and after an earthquake.
 
NDMA has so far conducted more than 600 mock exercises in different States and Union Territories for various disaster situations in its efforts to improve preparedness and response during for various disaster situations.
 
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Centre asks Haryana govt. to probe allegations of overcharging against Fortis

 
Fortis hospital in Gurgaon accused of overcharging, negligence
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has urged the Haryana Government to initiate an inquiry into media reports which alleged that Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI) at Gurgaon had overcharged the parents of a seven-year-old girl, Adya Singh, who died after being treated at the hospital for 15 days for dengue.
 
The reports also alleged that there was negligence in the medical treatment of the girl, who died on September 14. The hospital presented a bill of about Rs. 16 lakh to the parents of the girl.
 
"Such incidents have an extremely deleterious impact on the faith of the general public in the healthcare system in the country. It is our duty to ensure that quality care and treatment is provided to persons in need and that it is provided to persons in need and that it is provided at a fair and affordable price," Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said in a letter to Mr. Amit Jha, Principal Secretary (Health & Family Welfare), Government of Haryana.
 
"I request you to urgently initiate an enquiry into the whole incident. The details of treatment and the charges levied by the hospital need to be ascertained and expert opinion regarding the reasonability must be taken on the details provided by the hospital. In case any overcharging, negligence or malfeasance is made out on the part of the hospital, exemplary action needs to be taken immediately to reassure the general public and to lend credence to the healthcare system.
 
"Action taken on the above lines may kindly be intimated to me within two weeks," Ms. Sudan added.
 
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J. P. Nadda told journalists that he had seen the reports and had called for a detailed report.
 
Fortis denied the allegations and said that the hospital had kept the family informed of the critical condition of the child and the poor prognosis on the condition of the child.
 
"We empathise with Baby Adya's family in this difficult hour of sorrow and grief. Seven year old Baby Adya was brought in to Fortis Memorial Research Institute (Gurgaon), from another private hospital on the morning of 31st August, 2017. She was admitted with Severe Dengue which progressed to Dengue shock syndrome and was managed on IV fluids and supportive treatment as there was a progressive fall in platelet count and hemoconcentration," a statement from Fortis said.
 
"As her condition deteriorated, she had to be put on ventilatory support within 48 hours. The family was kept informed of the critical condition of the child and the poor prognosis in these situations. As a process, we counselled the family daily on the condition of the child. On 14th September, 2017, family decided to take her away from the hospital against medical advice (LAMA - Leave Against Medical Advice) and she succumbed the same day," it said.
 
"An itemized bill spread over 20 pages was explained and handed over to the family at the time of their departure from the hospital. Patient was treated in the Paediatric ICU for 15 days and was critical right from the time of admission, requiring intensive monitoring. Treatment during these 15 days included mechanical ventilation, high frequency ventilation, continuous renal replacement therapy, intravenous antibiotics, inotropes, sedation and analgesia. Care of ventilated patients in ICU requires a high number of consumables as per globally accepted infection control protocols. All consumables are transparently reflected in records and charged as per actuals," the statement added. 
 
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The episode came to light when a friend of the girl's parents mentioned it in a post on micro-blogging site Twitter. "One of my batchmate's 7 year old was in @fortis hospital for 15 days for dengue. Billed Rs 18 lakhs including for 2700 gloves. She passed away at the end of it. Corrupt a*******."
 
The message was retweeted about 9000 times in just four days and was also seen by Mr. Nadda, who said, "Please provide me details on hfwminister@gov.in. We will take all necessary action."
 
The girl's father Jayant Singh told journalists that he had cleared the bills fully but felt the hospital had overcharged them, on the one hand, and had not paid enough attention to his daughter, on the other. According to him, expensive medicines were administered when cheaper options were available. He also raised questions about the amounts charged for disposables such as gloves and syringes.
 
Mr Jayant Singh also said that, on September 14, they were informed that their daughter had suffered 70 to 8-% brain damage and would not be able to recover completely. He said they then tried to persuade the family to go for a plasma treatment that would have cost them about Rs. 15 lakh.
 
He said the family decided to take their daughter to another hospital but Fortis did not provide them with ambulance. When they finally reached another hospital, the girl was declared dead.
 
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CBI apprehends Class XI Ryan School student in Pradhuman murder case

In a major twist, the CBI said on Wednesday it had apprehended a Class XI student of Ryan International School in Gurgaon in connection with the murder of Pradhuman Thakur, a seven-year-old Class II student of the same school on September 8.

Ryan International School, Gurgaon
Ryan International School, Gurgaon
In a major twist, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had apprehended a Class XI student of Ryan International School in Gurgaon in connection with the murder of Pradhuman Thakur, a seven-year-old Class II student of the same school on September 8.
 
The apprehension of the student, said to be a juvenile, has come two months after the Gurgaon Police had, on the day of the murder, arrested a conductor of a school bus and claimed that he had confessed to the crime.
 
The minor, who cannot be named under the law, will be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board, official sources said.
 
"CBI has apprehended a child in conflict with law, a student of senior class at Ryan International School, Gurugram in an ongoing case relating to murder of a seven-year-old boy," CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told journalists.
 
He said this was done after "thorough investigation based on scientific evidences, including inspection of scene of crime, forensic analysis, and analysis of CCTV and call records."
 
Various sources said that the detained boy was one of three or four students spotted in CCTV video footage near the toilet where Pradhuman was found dead.
 
A week after Pradhuman was found dead with his throat slit inside the toilet of the school, the Haryana Government handed over the probe to the CBI amidst a public outcry over the issue of safety in schools.
 
A knife was found next to the student's body when a staff member of the school discovered him lying inside the toilet around 8 am, school officials had said on that day.
 
Late in the night of September 8, the Gurgaon Police had arrested the school bus conductor, Ashok Kumar, as the prime suspect in the case. His family claimed he was innocent and that he had been framed.
 
Police, on the other hand, had said at that time that Ashok Kumar, a resident of village Ghamdoj near Gurgaon, had confessed to having committed the crime. They also said the conductor had attempted to sexually assault the boy and, when he failed, killed him with a knife he was carrying.
 
The man reportedly said that he had committed the crime in a moment of madness. He claimed that he had taken the knife to the school toilet for cleaning it there. 
  
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Ms. Neerja Batra, the  then coordinator of the school, told reporters on September 8 that, because examinations were scheduled for classes III to XII, the regular school assembly was not held that day and, instead, prayers were said over the public address system while the students remained in their classrooms.
 
"After this, at around 8.03 or 8.04 am, when I came out of my room, I saw some teachers rushing towards this side with the child in their arms. He was in a pool of blood," she had said.
 
Ms. Batra said the student was sent to the Artemis Hospital in her car. "I could sense that he was in a serious condition," she said, adding that they also stopped at a small hospital on the way to give him oxygen.
 
The boy was declared "brought dead" on arrival at the Artemis Hospital, police sources said.
 
The discovery of the boy's body was made within about 15 minutes after he reached the school, located on Sohna Road in Gurgaon that morning.
 
Varun Thakur, the father of the boy told reporters that he had dropped his son at the school at around 7. 55 am and that he got a call from the school at about 8.15 am from the school saying that his son was bleeding and was being rushed to a hospital. He was also requested to reach the hospital. "We reached the hospital, and there we were told that our son is no more," he said. 
 
Police rushed to the school and questioned teachers and other staff members and also talked to some of the students. Forensic teams also examined the place where the body was found. Video footage of the CCTV cameras in the school were also examined.
 
The gruesome murder sparked outrage across the country and angry parents of students had demonstrated outside the school as well as other Ryan schools in different parts of the country.
 
Last year, the Vasant Kunj branch of the same school in New Delhi was accused of negligence after a six-year-old student of Class I was found dead in a water tank. That case is still under investigation.
  
Police has also registered a case against the school management for security lapses and arrested two of its officials.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Mahendragarh district of Haryana

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Mahendragarh region of Haryana last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 28.4 N and longitude 76.2 E, occurred at 2223 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 5 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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IGL hikes selling prices of CNG, PNG in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Rewari

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The public sector Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) today hiked the selling prices of compressed natural gas (CNG) and piped natural gas (PNG) in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad and Rewari from midnight tonight following the recent notification of the Government of India increasing the prices of domestically produced natural gas.
 
This revision in prices would result in an increase of 95 paise per kg in the consumer price of CNG in Delhi and Rs 1.26 per kg in the consumer price of CNG in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad, a press release from IGL said.
 
The new consumer price of Rs. 39.71 per kg in Delhi and Rs 49.20 per kg in Noida, Greater Noida & Ghaziabad would be effective from midnight tonight.  The price of CNG being supplied in Rewari as a part of trial run is being increased by Re 1 per kg from Rs 49.67 per kg to Rs 50.67 per kg, it said.
 
The release said IGL would continue to offer a discount of Rs 1.50 per kg in the selling prices of CNG for filling between 12.30 am and 5.30 am at select outlets. Thus, the consumer price of CNG would be Rs. 38.21 per kg in Delhi and Rs 47.70 per kg in Noida, Greater Noida & Ghaziabad during 12.30 am to 5.30 am at the select CNG stations across the region.
 
 IGL has also announced increase in its domestic PNG prices from tomorrow. The consumer price of PNG to the households in Delhi has been increased by 80 paise per scm from Rs 25.19 per scm to Rs. 25.99 per scm. Due to differential tax structure in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the applicable price of domestic PNG to households in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad would be Rs 27.64 per scm, which has been increased by 91 paise per scm from existing Rs 26.73 per scm.
 
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In Rewari, the applicable price of domestic PNG would be Rs 27.63 per scm. IGL is supplying PNG to nearly 5.5 lakh households in Delhi and nearly 2.5 lakh households in Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad and Rewari.
 
"The revision in retail prices of CNG and domestic PNG has been effected after taking into account the overall impact on the cost as a result of the increase in prices of domestically produced natural gas notified by the government.
 
"However, this increase would have a marginal impact on the per km running cost of vehicles. For autos, the increase would be 2 paise per km, for taxi it would be 5 paise per km and in case of buses, the increase would be 27 paise per km," the release said.
 
"With the revised price, CNG would still offer over 59% savings towards the running cost when compared to petrol driven vehicles at the current level of prices. When compared to diesel driven vehicles, the economics in favour of CNG at revised price would be over 32%," it said.
 
IGL is meeting fuel requirements of over 9.75 lakh vehicles running on CNG in NCR through a network of 425 CNG stations. 
 
IGL is a joint venture of GAIL (India) Ltd., BPCL and Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
 
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Jaitley says GST slabs can be reduced only when it becomes revenue neutral plus

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said that there was room for improvement in the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime but there would be scope to think in terms of fewer slabs only when it became revenue neutral plus.
 
"To ensure this, we have to certainly ensure larger presence," he said while delivering the valedictory address at the NACIN Founding Day and Passing-out Ceremony of the 67th Batch of IRS (C&CE) at NACIN in Faridabad near here.
 
Mr. Jaitley said there are no grey areas in implementation of tax laws. Taxes which are payable have to be paid and which are not payable do not have to be paid, he said. 
 
He urged the officers to choose the path of working with dignity, self-respect and honesty from the very beginning of their careers. The peer group is the best to judge the performance of an officer, he said.
 
National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics (NACIN) celebrated its founding day today for the first time. It started as a Training School on this day in 1955.
 
On the occasion, the passing-out ceremony of Indian Revenue Service (C&CE) probationers of the 2015 batch was also held. The Finance Minister also inspected the passing-out parade and took the salute. Ms. Vanaja N. Sarna, Chairperson, CBEC, welcomed Mr. Jaitley on behalf of NACIN. 
 
The 2015 batch consisted of 147 officer trainees, including 32 women officers. 
 
Mr. Jaitley awarded medals to the five officer trainees who have excelled in different areas of training for their exceptional achievement. Young officer Farah Zachariah was awarded with the Finance Minister’s gold medal for being the overall best officer trainee. 
 
He also unveiled the NACIN Coffee Table Book and Year Book on the occasion. The Coffee Table Book traces the history of the academy as well as of the IRS. 
 
During the ceremony, international capacity building partners of NACIN such as WCO, UNEP, UNODC, ADB and others were also felicitated by the Finance Minister. 
 
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