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Himachal Pradesh

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

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

 
Counting begins in Gujarat, BJP secures early lead

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

As results and counting trends became available for all the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly, the BJP had won 52 and was leading in 65 others, making for a total of 117 seats, the same number that it has in the outgoing house.
 
The Congress had won 27 seats and was leading in 32 others. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the Congress, had won two seats while the Janata Dal (United), an ally of the BJP, was leading in one constituency. Other parties were ahead in three seats.
 
Adding to the Congress' misery in Gujarat, its state unit chief Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil lost their seats.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, the ruling BJP conceded defeat as the Congress won 34 seats in the 68-member Assembly and was leading in two others. The BJP had won 23 and was ahead in another three, while others had won four and were leading in two more.
 
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal admitted his party had lost and congratulated the winners. He said the reasons for the BJP's defeat, despite his government's good record of governance, would be analysed at party fora in due course.
 
In Gujarat, Mr Modi retained his own seat, Maninagar, bagging 120440 votes against 34097 secured by his nearest rival, Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt.
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The controversial former Minister of State for Home, Mr Amit Shah of the BJP, won from Naranpura, garnering 103988 votes against the 40653 secured by his rival Jitubhai B Patel of the Congress.
 
In the Ellis Bridge constituency in Ahmedabad, Ms Jagruti Pandya, widow of assassinated former Minister of State for Home Haren Pandya, ended up in the third place. Ms Pandya, a candidate of the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) floated by former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, could muster only 9075 votes against Mr Raesh Shah of BJP, who got 106631 votes. Mr Kamleshkumar Shah of the Congress got 29959 votes.
 
Mr Modhwadia lost in Porbandar, getting only 60458 votes against the 77604 votes secured by Mr Babubhai Bokhiria of the BJP. Mr Gohil lost from Bhavnagar (Rural) to Mr Purshottam Solanki of the BJP. Mr Solanki got 83980 votes as against 65426 secured by Mr Gohil.
 
The BJP had won 117 seats in the Gujarat Assembly in the last elections in 2007, while the Congress had 59 seats.
 
Counting of votes began in both states at 0800 hours today and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
Elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly were held in two phases on December 13 and 17, when a record 71.3 per cent of the 38 million voters had exercised their franchise.
 
Polling for the 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh assembly was held in a single phase on November 4, and about 74.7 per cent of the 4.60 million voters had cast their votes.
 
The supporters of Mr Modi, who has been in office since 2001, are hoping that, with yet another big win, he would be propelled to the centrestage of national politics and become the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Exit polls had predicted a huge win for Mr Modi again this year, while they had given a slight edge in a close contest in Himachal Pradesh.
 
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Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections to be held on November 9

Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti along with Election Commissioners O.P. Rawat and Sunil Arora addressing the press conference in New Delhi on October 12, 2017.
Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti along with Election Commissioners O.P. Rawat and Sunil Arora addressing the press conference in New Delhi on October 12, 2017.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) today said general elections would be held in a single phase on November 9 to elect a new Legislative Assembly in Himachal Pradesh.
 
The term of the current legislative assembly  in the state is normally due to expire on January 7, 2018 and the Commission is required to hold elections to constitute the new assembly before expiry of its present term.
 
The notification for the elections would be issued on October 16 and the last date for filing nominations is October 23. Nominations will be scrutinised on October 24 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is October 26.
 
Counting of votes will be taken up on December 18 and all the results are expected by that evening.
 
Elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly are also due, but the Commission has not announced dates for them, but Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti told newspersons today that they would be held before December 18.
 
"Polling in Gujarat will take place before December 18 so that in no way the results of Himachal can affect the voting in Gujarat. We will, in a few days, announce the dates for Gujarat elections, but I can say for sure that voting in Gujarat will happen before December 18," he said.
 
There are 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assemby, of which 17 are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and three for Scheduled Tribes (STs).
 
In the last elections, the Congress had won 36 seats and the BJP 27. While five-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, is expected to be the Chief Minsiterial candidate of the Congress, the BJP is making a strong bid to return to power in the state.
 
The release said the electoral rolls of all the existing Assembly Constituencies in Himachal Pradesh are being revised, with reference to 01.01.2017 as the qualifying date. 
 
The total number of electors in the state, as per the final roll on September 15, 2017, is 49,05,677 (49.05 lakh). Photo electoral rolls will be used during the elections. The Commission will set up 7479 polling stations for the elections.
 
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The Commission has directed that, to the extent possible, all-women managed polling stations shall be set up in two polling stations for each Assembly constituency where the entire polling staff, including the police and security personnel, shall be women. A total of 136 women-managed polling stations will be set up in the state for the first time.
 
The poll in the state will be conducted at all polling stations using electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units.
 
As in recent elections, there will be a button below the name of the last candidate on the balloting unit for NOTA (None of the above) option so that electors who do not want to vote for any of the candidates can exercise their option by pressing the button against NOTA. The Commission has provided a new symbol for the NOTA option, which was designed by National Institute of Design (NID). 
 
In  order  to help electors  in  identifying candidates,  the Commission has prescribed an additional measure by way of adding provision for printing the photograph of candidate also on the ballot to be displayed on the EVM (Ballot Unit) and on Postal Ballot Papers. This will also help avoid likely confusion when candidates with same or similar names contest from the same constituency. 
 
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Virbhadra Singh to be Congress's CM candidate in HP: Rahul Gandhi

 
Unemployment is biggest challenge facing nation: Rahul Gandhi
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today kicked off his party's campaign for the elections to the Himachal Pradesh Legislation Assembly, expected to be held later this year, and announced that Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh would again be its chief ministerial candidate.
 
Addressing a public meeting at Mandi, Mr. Gandhi lashed out at the Narendra Modi government at the centre and accused it of causing untold misery to farmers, labourers and the youth because of its economic policies, especially demonetisation and the "hasty" implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST).
 
Mr. Gandhi dwelt at length on the issue of unemployment and said that the Prime Minister had failed to deliver on his promise of creating 2 crore jobs every year. He said that, at a time when about 30,000 youth were entering the job market every day, the government was able to provide only 450 jobs.
 
He said that, at a time when jobs were the single biggest challenge facing the country, it was said that a Union Minister, Mr. Piyush Goyal, had said that job losses were a good sign because it indicated that more youth were turning entrepreneurs.
 
Mr. Gandhi said anger was building up amongst the youth and farmers across the country because they saw no future for themselves under the present dispensation.
 
He said wherever the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in power, farmer suicides were up as the government had failed to ensure a fair price for their produce.
 
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Mr. Gandhi said Mr. Modi talked about the "Gujarat model" of development and often claimed that his state was ahead of other states on various parameters. 
 
The Congress Vice-President went on to provide details of the Virbhadra Singh government's performance in Himachal Pradesh in the last five years and compared it with that of the BJP government in Gujarat. He said that on several parameters, such as creation of jobs, payment of unemployment allowance and opening of government schools, colleges and health centres, the performance of the Himachal Pradesh government was much better than that of the Gujarat government.
 
"Virbhadra Singhji, you spoke about how this was your sixth term as Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. You will be Chief Minister for the seven time. We will bring the Congress back to power in the state," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi urged the people to vote the Congress back to power in the state. 
 
He said a country like India could not be ruled by a person who did not listen to or take advice from anyone. He said India needed a leader who listened to the people's views and understood their aspirations.
 
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Modi lays foundation stones for AIIMS at Bilaspur, IIIT at Una in Himachal Pradesh

 
Modi lays foundation stones for AIIMS, IIIT in Himachal Pradesh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today laid the foundation stone for the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh.
 
The 750-bed hospital will be built at a cost of approximately Rs. 1350 crore, an official press release said.
 
In addition to healthcare, it will also provide medical education at the under-graduate and post-graduate level, besides nursing. The Prime Minister also unveiled a plaque to mark the launch of Digital Nerve Centres for primary healthcare. 
 
Mr. Modi also laid the foundation stone for the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), at Una. 
 
He also inaugurated a Steel Processing Unit of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), at Kandrori, Kangra. 
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, shook Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) steps.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 32.5°N and longitude 76.7°E, occurred at 1632 hours at a focal depth of 5 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, shook the Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 32.8°N and longitude 76.2°E, occurred at 1636 hours at a focal depth of 5 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Solar technology to heat up homes in Zanskar Valley

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Scientists have fabricated solar panels that can withstand the harsh environmental conditions that prevail in the upper reaches of Himalayas. These panels have been deployed in the Zanskar Valley area to meet energy needs of people living there.
 
The panels have been designed to provide either warm water or help heat up the people’s homes. They work on the simple principle of solar energy absorption by black coated galvanised iron sheet and aluminum alloy pipe coil through a normal window glass to heat the water or the air. Each panel can heat 100 to 120 litres of water per day. The space heating panels can heat up the air and blow it into living spaces at temperatures of up to 65-70 degrees Celsius.
 
A total of 158 panels have been transported from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh traversing eight mountain passes including Tanglangla - the second highest pass in the world at an altitude of 17, 582 feet.
 
The project has been implemented by the Shimla-based Himalayan Research Group of the Ministry of Science and Technology, and Highland Agricultural Research and Extension Station at Padum, under the Technology Intervention for Mountain Ecosystem: Livelihood Enhancement through Action Research and Networking (TEAM-LEARN) programme.
 
At present, residents of the area use the dung from their livestock as the source of heat. Women had to spend nearly three to four hours every day. With the induction of the solar technology, this drudgery would be saved. In addition, it would mitigate the pollution problems caused by burning of dung indoors and help improve the productivity of their farms as the dung would be available as manure.
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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Jaitley, Javadekar appointed as BJP's election in-charges for Gujarat, Karnataka assembly polls

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Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar have been appointed as the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) in-charges for the coming legislative assembly elections in Gujarat and Karnataka, respectively.
 
A press release from the BJP said party president Amit Shah had also appointed Union Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot as the in-charge for the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.
 
Mr. Jaitley will be assisted in Gujarat by Union Ministers Narendra Singh tomar, Nirmala Sitharaman, Jitendra Singh and P P Chaudhary as co-in-charges, the release said.
 
In Karnataka, the co-in-charge will be Union Minister Piyush Goyal, the release added.
 
While the crucial Assembly elections in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, are expected to be held later this year, they are likely to be held early next year in Karnataka. The elections in Himachal Pradesh are also due later this year.
 
All three states will witness a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress. While the BJP is in power in Gujarat, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh are ruled by the Congress.
 
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Two minor earthquakes shake Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh

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Two minor earthquakes shook the Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The first quake, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, had its epicentre at latitude 32.7°N and longitude 76.4 °E and occurred at 0853 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
The second tremor, measuring 4.1 on teh Richter scale, had its epicentre at latitude 32.7°N and longitude 76.3 °E and occurred at 0856 hours at a depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
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46 dead as Himachal landslide buries two buses, search efforts continue

At least 46 persons died when they were buried under tonnes of mud and rubble after a massive landslide swept away two buses, a motorcycle and other vehicles in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh late on Saturday night, official sources said.

 
46 dead as two buses hit by landslide in Himachal Pradesh
At least 46 persons died when they were buried under tonnes of mud and rubble after a massive landslide swept away two buses, a motorcycle and other vehicles in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh late on Saturday night, official sources said.
 
"We have recovered 46 bodies so far," Mandi Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam told NetIndian over the telephone this morning, adding that search and rescue operations were continuing to ensure that all the passengers of the buses were accounted for.
 
He said five persons had so far been rescued alive from the scene and taken to a nearby hospital, from where two had been referred to the Government hospital in state capital Shimla. One person was admitted to the Mandi government hospital while two were discharged after first aid.
 
Mr. Kadam said three bodies were recovered from one bus, which was on its way from Manali to Katra, while 42 bodies were found in the second bus, which was going from Chamba to Manali. One of those killed was a motorcyclist.
 
By late on Sunday night, 27 of the victims had been identified, official sources said.
 
Official sources said out of the eight persons in the first bus, three had died and five had suffered injuries. There was no clarity on the number of passengers in the Chamba-Manali bus, which was swept down some 800 metres into a deep gorge and was completely buried under tonnes of mud. Both buses belonged to the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation.
 
The tragedy struck a little past midnight on Saturday night near Joginder Nagar in the Kotrupi area of the district, about 35 km from the district headquarters, on national highway (NH)-21 between Pathankot and Mandi. 
 
District officials, police, fire brigade and other emergency services personnel, including teams from the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), were engaged in the search and rescue efforts.
 
Mr. Kadam said tonnes of mud came sliding down onto a 150-metre stretch of the highway, sweeping away everything in its path. Traffic on the highway has been stopped as the rescue operations were taken up on a war footing.
 
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He said that, while rains had hampered rescue efforts in the first few hours on Saturday night, the skies had cleared during the day on Sunday and helped the search and rescue teams to clear almost all of the debris. 
 
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the scene of the landslide during the day yesterday and directed the officials to intensify the search and rescue efforts. He said the operations would continue till all the passengers were accounted for.
 
The state government has announced financial assistance of Rs. 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the  incident, while the HRTC would give Rs. 1 lakh.
 
In Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the mishap. 
 
“Pained by the loss of lives due to landslide related accidents in HP’s Mandi district. My condolences with the families of the deceased," he said on Twitter.
 
"I pray for the quick recovery of those injured in Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh.
 
"Team of NDRF is going to Mandi to take part in the rescue and relief operations and provide all possible assistance required," he added.
 
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42 dead as landslide hits two buses in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh

At least 42 persons died when they were buried under tonnes of mud and debris after a massive landslide swept away two buses in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh late last night, official sources said.
 
"We have recovered 42 bodies so far," Mandi Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene of the tragedy late this evening.
 
He said five persons had so far been rescued alive from the scene and taken to a nearby hospital, from where two had been referred to the Government hospital in state capital Shimla. One person was admitted to the Mandi government hospital while two were discharged after first aid.
 
Mr. Kadam said three bodies were recovered from one bus, which was on its way from Manali to Katra, while the remaining bodies were found in the second bus, which was going from Chamba to Manali.
 
Official sources said out of the eight persons in the first bus, three had died and five had suffered injuries.
 
In the second bus, there was an estimated 44 people on board, and bodies of 39 of them have been recovered so far. Search and rescue teams were continuing their efforts to look for the remaining person, they said.
 
The tragedy struck a little past midnight last night near Joginder Nagar in the Kotrupi area of the district, about 35 km from the district headquarters, on national highway (NH)-21 between Pathankot and Mandi. The Chamba-Manali bus was swept away some 800 metres down into a gorge where it was completely buried under tonnes of mud. Both buses belonged to the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation.
 
District officials, police, fire brigade and other emergency services personnel, including teams from the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), were engaged in the search and rescue efforts.
 
Mr. Kadam said tonnes of mud came sliding down onto a 150-metre stretch of the highway, sweeping away everything in its path. Traffic on the highway has been stopped as the rescue operations were taken up on a war footing.
 
He said that, while rains had hampered rescue efforts in the first few hours last night, the skies had cleared during the day today and helped the search and rescue teams to clear a lot of the debris. 
 
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the scene of the landslide during the day today and directed the officials to intensify the search and rescue efforts. He said the operations would continue till all the passengers were accounted for.
 
The state government has announced financial assistance of Rs. 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the  incident, while the HRTC would give Rs. 1 lakh.
 
In Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the mishap. 
 
“Pained by the loss of lives due to landslide related accidents in HP’s Mandi district. My condolences with the families of the deceased," he said on Twitter.
 
"I pray for the quick recovery of those injured in Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh.
 
"Team of NDRF is going to Mandi to take part in the rescue and relief operations and provide all possible assistance required," he added.
 
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15 dead, several trapped as landslide hits two buses in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh

At least 15 persons died and several more people were feared trapped under tonnes of mud and debris after a massive landslide swept away two buses, a car and a motorcycle in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh late last night, official sources said.
 
"We have recovered 15 bodies so far. We are searching for the others," Mandi Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene of the tragedy.
 
Mr. Kadam said five persons had so far been rescued alive from the scene and taken to a nearby hospital, from where two had been referred to the Government hospital in state capital Shimla. One person was admitted to the Mandi government hospital while two were discharged after first aid.
 
He said there was no clarity yet on the number of people who were travelling in one of the two buses when the tragedy struck a little past midnight last night near Joginder Nagar in the Kotrupi area of the district. 
 
While three bodies were recovered from the first bus, which was carrying eight passengers, as many as twelve have been found far from the second bus which had fallen some 800 metres into a deep gorge and got completely buried under the debris.
 
 
15 dead in landslide in Mandi district
District officials, police, fire brigade and other emergency services personnel, including teams from the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), were engaged in the search and rescue efforts.
 
Mr. Kadam said tonnes of mud came sliding down onto a 150-metre stretch of National Highway (NH)-21 between Pathankot and Mandi, sweeping everything in its path. Traffic on the highway has been stopped as the rescue operations continued.
 
He said that, while rains had hampered rescue efforts in the first few hours last night, the skies had cleared during the day today and helped the search and rescue teams to clear a lot of the debris. However, the operations would have to be suspended at nightfull till daybreak tomorrow, he said.
 
One bus was on its way from Chamba to Manali, while the other was on its way from Manali to Katra when the mishap occurred. Both buses belonged to the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC).
 
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the scene of the landslide during the day today and directed the officials to intensify the search and rescue efforts. He said the operations would continue till all the passengers were accounted for.
 
The state government has announced financial assistance of Rs. 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the  incident, while the HRTC would give Rs. 1 lakh.
 
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Eight dead, several trapped as landslide hits two buses in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh

At least eight persons died and several more people were feared trapped under tonnes of mud and debris after a massive landslide swept away two buses, a car and a motorcycle in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh late last night, official sources said.
 
"We have recovered eight bodies so far. We are searching for the others," Mandi Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene.
 
Mr. Kadam said five persons had so far been rescued alive from the scene and taken to a nearby hospital, from where two had been referred to the Government hospital in state capital Shimla. One person was admitted to the Mandi government hospital while two were discharged after first aid.
 
He said there was no clarity yet on the number of people who were travelling in the two buses when the tragedy struck a little past midnight last night near Joginder Nagar in the Kotrupi area of the district. 
 
District officials, police, fire brigade and other emergency services personnel, including teams from the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), were engaged in the search and rescue efforts.
 
Mr. Kadam said tonnes of mud came sliding down onto a 150-metre stretch of National Highway (NH)-21 between Pathankot and Mandi, sweeping everything in its path. Traffic on the highway has been stopped as the rescue operations continued.
 
One bus was on its way from Chamba to Manali, while the other was on its way from Manali to Katra when the mishap occurred. Both buses belonged to the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation.
 
The deceased were identified as Suruchi Thakur, 22, Joginder Nagar; Neha, Khadun Sarkaghat; Vinod Kumar, Gumma, Padhar (who were travelling on the Manali-Katra bus); Suresh Kumar, Sadar; Babu Ram, Udhampur; Khub Ram, Kullu; Pawan Kumar, Manali; and Kartar Chand, Thara Baijnath (who were travelling on the Chamba-Manali bus).
 
The injured were identified as Manju, 20, Karsog; Beauty Sharma, 18, Shimla (both referred to Shimla); Shubham, 21, Shimla (admitted in Mandi); Suchitra, 19, Shimla; and Anita, 23, Joginder Nagar (both discharged).
 
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Six dead, several trapped as landslide hits two buses in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh

At least six persons have died and more people are feared trapped under debris after a massive landslide swept away two buses, a car and a motorcycle in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh late last night, official sources said.
 
"We have recovered six bodies so far -- three each from the two buses. We are searching for the others," Mandi Deputy Commissione Sandeep Kadam told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene.
 
Mr. Kadam said there were about eight people in one bus, while there was no clarity about the number of people in the second one. The mishap occurred around 1 am today near Joginder Nagar in the Kotrupi area of the district, he said.
 
District officials, police, fire brigade and other emergency services personnel, including teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), were engaged in the search and rescue efforts. The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals.
 
Mr. Kadam said tonnes of mud came sliding down onto a 150-metre stretch of the highway, sweeping everything in its path. One of the buses was swept away 800 metres down into a gorge.
 
Sources said one bus was on its way from Chamba to Manali and the other was on its way from Manali to Katra.
 
They said heavy rains in the area were hampering the search and rescue operations.
 
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28 dead as bus rolls down into gorge in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh

 
28 dead as bus falls into gorge in HP
At least 28 people died and eight others suffered injuries when a private bus carrying them veered off the road and rolled down into a deep gorge at Khaneri, near Rampur, in Shimla district this morning.
 
Official sources said the mishap occurred around 9 am when the bus, with 36 people on board, was on its way from Reckong Peo in Kinnaur district to Solan.
 
Shimla Deputy Commissioner Rohan Chand Thakur told NetIndian over the telephone that the deceased included 18 men, nine women and a child.
 
District administration officials, police and other emergency services personnel rushed to the spot, about 120 km from Shimla, and helped remove the victims from the wreckage of the bus. The injured were taken to a nearby hospital, the sources added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh this evening.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 33.1 °N and longitude 76.4 °E, occurred at 1918 hours at a focal depth of 5 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Sirmaur region of Himachal Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Sirmaur region of Himachal Pradesh this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
An IMD bulletin said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.6°N and longitude 77.7°E, occurred at 0755 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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Prabhu lays foundation stone for Final Location Survey of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh broad gauge line

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Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu today laid the foundation stone for the Final Location Survey of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh broad gauge line expected to provide all-weather rail connectivity to the remote regions of Himachal Pradesh and Leh-Ladakh.
 
The proposed line with a route length of 498 km will have the distinction being the highest railway track in the world, an official press release said.
 
Northern Railway General Manager R K Kulshrestha and other senior railway officials were also present at the event.
 
Leh is the most important town in Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir, having approximately 1.5 lakh population. It has a high footfall of Indian and foreign tourists each year. The district Leh is the second largest district in the country with elaborate Army establishments and is the headquarter of 14 corps.
 
The region being a cold desert, the temperature during the winter months (October-March) plummets to well below freezing point. The road connectivity to this area gets cut off from other parts of the country due to heavy snowfall, thus necessitating all-weather rail connectivity both for strategic as well as socio-economic needs, the release said.
 
The Final Location Survey is a precursor to actual construction from Bilaspur to Leh via Manali. The alignment will connect Mandi, Kullu, Manali, Keylong and other important towns of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
 
The line from Bilaspur will be further connected to Bhanupali between Anandpur Sahib and Nangal Dam.
 
The proposed alignment passes through the Shivalik, Great Himalayan and Zanskar Ranges, areas with wide variation in height (600 m to 5300 m above MSL) and Seismic zone IV and V [ IS:1893(Part-I)-2002], necessitating the building of a large number of tunnels, deep viaducts and bridges.
 
The work of Final Location Survey has been entrusted to RITES Ltd and is planned to be completed by March 2019 with an approximate cost of Rs. 157 crore, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, shook the Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh late last night.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 32.9 N and longitude 76.5 E, occurred at 2326 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 5 km.
 
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Rajya Sabha member and Congress leader P. Govardhan Reddy passes away

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Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member from Telangana Palvai Govardhan Reddy passed away at Kullu in Himachal Pradesh after suffering a cardiac arrest there this morning.
 
He was 80. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. 
 
Sources close to his family said his body would be brought to Delhi and then flown to Hyderabad, where it would be cremated tomorrow.
 
Mr. Reddy had left here this morning by air for Kullu to attend a meeting of a Parliamentary Standing Committee scheduled to be held there. He suffered a cardiac arrest soon after landing there and was rushed to the Government hospital in the town, where he breathed his last around 10.30 am.
 
Mr. Reddy served as a member of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly from 1967 to 1985 and then from 1999 to 2004. He served as Minister of State in the State Council of Ministers in the early 1980s. He was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council in 2007 and to the Rajya Sabha in 2012.
 
Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Hamid Ansari condoled the passing away of Mr. Reddy and described it as a personal loss.
 
"Shri Reddy was an active and respected member of Rajya Sabha since 2012, and his presence would be missed by all who worked with him. Shri Reddy will be remembered for his relentless efforts towards the welfare of farmers in Telangana," he said.
 
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao expressed shock and grief over the sudden demise of Mr. Reddy. He directed the Chief Secretary of the State Government and the State's Resident Commissioner in Delhi to make arrangements to bring the mortal remains of Mr. Reddy to Hyderabad.
 
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World Bank to provide $ 36 million loan for HP Public Financial Management Capacity Building Program

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An agreement for IBRD credit of $ 36 million from the World Bank for “Himachal Pradesh Public Financial Management Capacity Building Program” was signed here today.
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (MI), Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank. The Implementing Entity Agreement was signed by the Additional Director, Treasuries, Accounts and Lotteries, on behalf of Government of Himachal Pradesh (GoHP), and the Country Director (India) on behalf of the World Bank. 
 
An official press release said the objective of the project is to improve the efficiency of Public Expenditure Management and Tax Administration in Himachal Pradesh.
 
The program is expected to contribute to enhancing efficiency of key departments, improving budget credibility, strengthening systems and procedures to improve fiscal discipline, improving revenue administration to increase fiscal space, and targeted organizational reforms including human resource reforms. The program focuses on the priority areas identified by the Government of Himachal Pradesh, which were articulated in various stakeholder workshops during program preparation. 
 
The programme size is $ 45 million, of which $ 36 million will be financed by the Bank, and the remaining amount will be funded out of State Budget. The programme duration is 5 years, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquakes shake Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh

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Two minor earthquakes shook the Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh for the third day running today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
A bulletin from IMD said a quake, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale and with its epicentre at latitude 32.5°N and longitude 76.8°E, occurred at 0957 hours today at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
Earlier, a quake measuring 2.8 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre at latitude 32.5°N and longitude 76.0°E, occurred at 0611 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, the bulletin said.
 
The same area had recorded two minor earthquakes yesterday and two on Friday.
 
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Two minor earthquakes shake Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh

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Two minor earthquakes shook the Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The first quake, measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale and which had its epicentre at latitude 32.8 N and longitude 76.2 E, occurred at 0911 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
The second tremor, measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale, occurred in the same area at 1118 hours at a focal depth of 5 km, the bulletin added.
 
Two minor tremors, measuring 2.8 and 4.5 on the Richter scale, respectively, had been recorded in the same area in the early hours of yesterday, too.
 
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Two minor earthquakes shake Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh

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Two minor earthquakes shook the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The first quake, which measured 2.8 on the Richter scale and had its epicentre at latitude 32.8 N and longitude 76.2 E, occurred at 0323 hours at a focal depth of 5 km.
 
The second tremor, which was of magnitude 4.5 and had its epicentre at latitude 32.8 N and longitude 76.3 E, occurred at 0532 hours at a focal depth of 5 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Nadda launches Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine under Universal Immunization Programme

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Saying that no child should die in the country from vaccine preventable diseases, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister JP Nadda announced the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) here today.
 
“"No child should die in the country from Vaccine Preventable Diseases' is the goal and commitment of our government. We stand committed to reducing child deaths and providing a healthier future to our children,” Mr. Nadda said.
 
Terming it “a historic moment and an exemplary step in India’s immunization programme”, he said the Government was committed to reducing morbidity and mortality in children. “Strengthening routine immunization is an essential investment in India’s children and will ensure a healthy future of the country,” he noted.
 
PCV protects children against severe forms of pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia and meningitis. Currently, the vaccine is being rolled out to approximately 2.1 million children in Himachal Pradesh and parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the first phase.
 
This will be followed by its introduction in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan next year and eventually it will be expanded across the country in a phased manner. 
 
Mr Nadda said the Government has taken notable steps in the direction of total immunisation. Under Mission Indradhanush, so far, more than 26 million beneficiaries have been immunized.
 
From 1% annual increase in coverage of Full Immunization, Mission Indradhanush has resulted in a 6.7 % annual expansion in the immunization cover. “The immunization programme started with providing protection against 6 vaccine preventable diseases, it will now offer protection to our children from 12 diseases,” he added.
 
All these vaccines were available in the private sector for many years, not only in India but also across the world. “While these vaccines in the private sector were accessible to only those who could afford them, by making them available under the UIP, the government is ensuring equitable access to those who need them the most, the underprivileged and underserved,” he said.
 
“Pneumonia kills more children under five years of age in India than any other infectious disease. The pentavalent vaccine which was scaled up in all states under the UIP by 2015 protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) pneumonia.
 
"Now, the introduction of PCV in the UIP will reduce child deaths from pneumococcal pneumonia. It will also reduce the number of children being hospitalized for pneumonia, and therefore reduce the economic burden on the families and the health cost burden on the country,” he added.
 
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The ICT-based Patient Satisfaction System (PSS) “Mera Aspataal / My Hospital” for implementation in public and empanelled private hospitals, is envisaged to empower the patient by seeking his / her views on quality of experience in a public healthcare facility. He further said that the Free Drugs Services Initiative, universal screening for non-communicable diseases for all people above 19 years to be rolled out shortly in select 100 districts in the first phase, the Free Diagnostics Services Initiative, the District Hospital Strengthening support, roll out of comprehensive primary health care, and Quality Assurance Programme - all represent initiatives intended to reduce fragmentation of care, improve quality of care and reduce out of pocket expenses.
 
Pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in children under five years of age globally and in India. India accounts for nearly 20% of global pneumonia deaths in this age group. In 2010, pneumococcal pneumonia accounted for approximately 16% of all severe pneumonia cases and 30% of pneumonia related deaths in children under- five years of age in India. Introducing PCV, therefore, will substantially reduce disease burden in the country.
 
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