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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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BJP retains all four Himachal LS seats

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The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday retained all the four Lok Sabha seats in the state as its candidates won by record margins, election officials said.
 
Hamirpur sitting MP Anurag Thakur, Kangra candidate Kishan Kapoor, Shimla candidate Suresh Kashyap and Mandi sitting MP Ram Swaroop Sharma won their seats by defeating their nearest Congress rivals.
 
The main contest was between the Congress and the BJP.
 
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur thanked all the voters for the landslide victory of the party.
 
He told reporters here that the victory confirms that people have expressed faith and confidence in the programmes and policies of his government.
 
For former BCCI chief Anurag Thakur, this was the fourth consecutive victory. He won by over 3.81 lakh votes against Congress legislator Ram Lal Thakur.
 
From Kangra, the largest Lok Sabha constituency in the state in terms of voters, the BJP had fielded Cabinet Minister Kishan Kapoor, 68, after dropping veteran leader Shanta Kumar, against two-time Congress legislator Pawan Kajal, 44.
 
Kapoor defeated Kajal by a margin of more than 4.47 lakh votes.
 
In the Shimla (reserved) seat, it was an ex-serviceman versus an ex-serviceman.
 
Colonel Dhani Ram Shandil (retired), 78, who was the Congress candidate, lost by over 3.23 lakh votes to BJP nominee and former Indian Air Force (IAF) officer Suresh Kashyap, 48.
 
Sitting BJP MP and the Chief Minister's confidant Ram Swaroop Sharma won the seat for a second term from Mandi. He was contesting against Congress greenhorn Ashray Sharma, who is the grandson of former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram.
 
Ram Swaroop Sharma retained the seat by a margin of more than 3.63 lakh votes.
 
Sukh Ram, a Congress veteran, had joined the BJP just before the Assembly elections, but defected back after his grandson was denied a ticket.
 
Counting of 38 lakh votes for the Shimla, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra parliamentary seats began at 8 a.m. amid tight security.
 
A total of 38,01,793 voters -- 72.25 per cent of 52,62,126 eligible ones -- exercised their franchise on May 19 in a single phase to select their representatives to the 17th Lok Sabha.
 
Forty-five candidates, including a lone woman, were in the fray from the four seats.
 
With the electorate in the Lok Sabha polls traditionally favouring the party at the helm in the state, these elections were being seen as a referendum on the state's 17-month-old Jai Ram Thakur government.
 
The BJP wrested the state from the Congress in December 2017, winning 44 seats in the 68-member Assembly. The Congress won 21 seats, Independents two and the Communist Party of India-Marxist won one.
 
IANS
 

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Sedition law will be made more stringent: Rajnath

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Slamming the Congress over its poll promise of repealing the sedition law if voted to power, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that the BJP government would make the law even more stringent.
 
Speaking at a gathering here, Singh said the sedition law would be strengthened so that even the soul of the anti-nationals would shiver.
 
"The Congress is saying that it will repeal the sedition law. We are going to make it more stringent so that no one dares to act against it," Singh said in his 30-minute address.
 
Speaking on economy, Singh said that inflation had been the main poll issue during elections but not in 2004 and 2019, as the management of the two BJP Prime Ministers (Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi) did not allow prices to go out of hands.
 
Singh was here to seek votes for sitting BJP MP Ram Swaroop Sharma, who is seeking re-election from Mandi. He said that Sharma, who has regularly attended sessions in the Lok Sabha, is an honest politician.
 
The four Lok Sabha constituencies in Himachal Pradesh will go to the polls in the seventh and final phase of polling on May 19.
 
IANS
 

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Fire breaks out in Shimla's British-era Grand Hotel

A view of the British-era Grand Hotel, where a fire broke out on Monday, reducing a portion to ashes, in Shimla, on May 13, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A view of the British-era Grand Hotel, where a fire broke out on Monday, reducing a portion to ashes, in Shimla, on May 13, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A massive fire broke out on Monday at the British-era Grand Hotel here, reducing a portion to ashes. However, no casualties were reported, police said.
 
The hotel's newly-renovated Mayo Block was completely destroyed in the fire. Since the building was under renovation, there was no guest at the time of the incident.
 
Shimla Deputy Commissioner Rajeshwar Goel told IANS that nearby buildings were safe and the fire was brought under control.
 
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.
 
The building, located in the vicinity of famous Kali Bari temple, close to Scandal Point, was constructed in British times.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Rahul posts photo of himself 'fixing' chopper

A picture posted by Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Instagram, showing him helping to fix a problem with his helicopter, while campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, at Una in Himachal Pradesh, on May 11, 2019.
A picture posted by Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Instagram, showing him helping to fix a problem with his helicopter, while campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, at Una in Himachal Pradesh, on May 11, 2019.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has posted a picture of himself on Instagram which shows him trying to fix a helicopter.
 
According to reports, Rahul was campaigning in Himachal Pradesh on Friday when his helicopter developed a snag.
 
However, instead of waiting for others to fix his chopper, Gandhi decided to lend a helping hand and can be seen in the picture working with others to set the chopper right.
 
He posted the picture with the caption: "Good team work means all hands to the deck! We had a problem with our helicopter in Una, HP today, that working together we quickly fixed. Nothing serious thankfully."
 
He also mentioned that the chopper broke down because of some technical glitches; nevertheless, ‘team work' helped solve the problem quickly. 
 
IANS

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Five killed in road accident in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh

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Five people were killed on Sunday when a car in which they were travelling skidded off the road and plunged into a 300-metre-deep gorge in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district, police said.
 
The accident occurred near Janjehli while the victims were en route to attend Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur's election meeting in his home constituency of Seraj.
 
Witnesses told the police that the driver, who was injured, probably lost control over the vehicle. 
 
It took hours for rescuers to climb down the mountain and bring up the bodies.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Young woman tourist from Himchal found murdered in Goa hotel room

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A 25-year-old woman tourist from Himachal Pradesh was found murdered in a room at a hotel in North Goa on Saturday, police sources said.
 
The victim was identified as Alka Saini, from Himachal Pradesh who had checked into the hotel in the beach village of Arpora on April 20, along with her boyfriend, who could not be traced now, a police source said.
 
"Her body was found by the hotel's maintenance staff after they entered the room for cleaning on Saturday. We have found stab marks on her neck," the source said, adding that the body has been sent to the Goa Medical College near Panaji for post-mortem examination.
 
While top police officials are tight-lipped and refused to comment, police sources also said that the hotel's CCTV camera showed two persons exiting the room some time before the body was discovered by the hotel staff.
 
"Police parties have been dispatched to look for the duo. We have also alerted police personnel posted at bus stations, railway stations, the Dabolim International Airport and border check points," the source said.
 
A case of murder has been registered at the Anjuna police station.
 
IANS
 

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10 killed in Himachal Pradesh as falls into gorge

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At least 10 passengers were killed and several injured when a private bus skidded off the road and fell into a gorge in Himachal Pradesh's Chamba district on Saturday evening, police said.
 
The bus was on its way from Pathankot in Punjab to Dalhousie in the hill state.
 
The accident occurred in the Nainikhad area near Banikhet in Dalhousie subdivision, Chamba Superintendent of Police Monica Bhutunguru told reporters in Chamba city, some 350 km from the state headquarters.
 
Most of the injured were admitted to Chamba's Regional Hospital.
 
The driver probably lost control over the vehicle at a hairpin bend and fell into the gorge, an eyewitness told the police.
 
The administration had a tough time in extracting the victims from the bus, though villagers had started the rescue operation before the authorities reached the spot.
 
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has expressed grief over the accident.
 
IANS
 

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Widespread rainfall likely over J&K, Himachal, Uttarakhand from April 22: IMD

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Scattered to fairly widespread rains or thundershowers, with isolated thunderstorms and gusty winds, are very likely to occur over Jammu and Kashmir, and isolated to scattered over Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, from April 22 onwards under the influence of a fresh western disturbance (WD), the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said.
 
A bulletin from IMD said on Thursday that, due to trough and wind discontinuity over south peninsular India, isolated to scattered rainfall with isolated thunderstorms and gusty winds very likely to occur over coastal Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rayalaseema, Tamilnadu, south interior Karnataka and Kerala during many days of the week.
 
Isolated to scattered rainfall with isolated thunderstorms and gusty winds were also very likely to occur over West Bengal, Sikkim, Jharkhand and Odisha during most days of the week. Thundersquall (wind speed reaching 50-60 kmph) accompanied by lightning at isolated places was very likely to occur over Odisha and over Gangetic West Bengal today.
 
Scattered to fairly widespread rain/thundershower along with gusty wind were very likely to occur over northeastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura) on most of the days during the week, it said.
 
Thundersquall (wind speed reaching 50-60 kmph) accompanied with lightning at isolated places were very likely to occur over Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura on April 20-21, the bulletin said.
 
Cumulatively, above normal rainfall was likely over Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and south interior Karnataka. It will be near normal elsewhere except northeastern states, where it is likely to be below normal during the week up to April 24.
 
Rainfall activity was likely to decrease drastically over south Peninsular India during the following week, and hence below normal rainfall activity was likely to occur over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and south interior Karnataka. The rainfall activity was likely to increase over Sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura; and be near normal over the rest of the country during the week from April 25-May 1, the bulletin said.
 
Day maximum temperatures are very likely to rise by 4-6°C over most parts of Northwest and central India and by 2-4°C over Gujarat and interior Maharashtra during the first half of the week ending April 24.
 
Overall, in the week as a whole, day maximum temperatures are likely to be below normal to normal over most parts of the country outside Jammu & Kashmir, east coast and some parts of west coast of India, where these are likely to be above normal during  the week. However, heat wave conditions may prevail over isolated pockets of Rajasthan and Gujarat state towards the second half of the week.
 
During the week from April 25-May 1, day maximum temperatures are likely to be near normal or below normal over most parts of the country except Odisha, Chhattisgarh, north Andhra Pradesh, west coast and Tamil Nadu, where these are likely to be above normal.
 
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Himachal BJP chief booked over 'slur' against Rahul

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A criminal case was registered on Tuesday against Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti for using a slur against Congress President Rahul Gandhi while campaigning, police said.
 
Also, Chief Electoral Officer Devesh Kumar issued a notice to him seeking his reply within 24 hours.
 
The development comes after the opposition Congress approached the Election Commission with a complaint.
 
Satti targeted Gandhi and his family at a public meeting in Nalagrah's Ramashehar town in Solan district on April 13.
 
His remarks came while replying to Gandhi's "chowkidar chor hai" taunt apparently aimed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying Rahul and the entire Gandhi family are "thieves".
 
He added that Gandhi family members like Sonia Gandhi and Robert Vadra are out on bail, and so Rahul "is not in a position to comment."
 
State Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri told IANS that the party was demanding a ban on Satti's campaigning during the entire elections.
 
Satti has been booked under Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code. The case pertains to obscene acts and songs.
 
The Congress on Tuesday held statewide protests over the "obscene slur".
 
Defending him, state BJP General Secretary Randhir Sharma said: "Satti's video, which was in circulation in the social media, was a doctored one and the Congress was trying to take electoral mileage out of it.
 
Himachal Pradesh will go to the polls on May 19.
 
IANS
 

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Former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram rejoins Congress

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Former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram and his grandson Ashray Sharma on Monday rejoined the Congress, after parting ways with the BJP.
 
The latter may be the Congress candidate against the BJP's Ram Swaroop Sharma from Himachal Pradesh's Mandi, the family turf. 
 
Sukh Ram's son Anil Sharma, an MLA from the Mandi Sadar Assembly seat, is a Cabinet minister in the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government in Himachal Pradesh and is expected to quit his ministerial berth.
 
The family joined the BJP just before the 2017 assembly polls.
 
Sukh Ram and Ashray met Congress President Rahul Gandhi along with the party's in-charge of Himachal Pradesh Rajni Patil and state unit chief Kuldeep Rathore before their induction.
 
Anil Sharma was inducted into the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress Cabinet in 2013 and allocated the portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Animal Husbandry. He was also a Minister of State from 1993-97.
 
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan's foster sister Arpita is married to Anil Sharma's son Aayush.
 
Elections to the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh will be held on May 19.
 
IANS
 

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Manali, Dalhousie wrapped in white blanket

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A western disturbance over Himachal Pradesh brought more snowfall to popular destinations Manali and Dalhousie on Tuesday, and lashed the state capital with rain.
 
The minimum temperature here was 3.3 degrees Celsius, while it was minus 3.8 degrees in Manali and 2.1 degrees in Dalhousie in Chamba district.
 
Manali and Dalhousie saw 9 cm and 2 cm snowfall, respectively.
 
"Higher reaches of Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Kullu, Shimla, Sirmaur and Chamba districts have been experiencing moderate snowfall since Monday, while mid and lower hills are experiencing rain," said a Met official here.
 
Kalpa, some 250 km from here, and Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti have also experienced snowfall. Keylong was the coldest place in the state with a low of minus eight degrees, while it was minus 3.6 degrees in Kalpa.
 
The Met said the western disturbance -- storm system originating from the Mediterranean-Caspian Sea region and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region -- would start withdrawing by Wednesday.
 
IANS

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Minor earthquake recorded in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 31.8°N and longitude 78.2°E, occurred at 0717 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurates Cremica Food Park in Himachal Pradesh

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Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Sunday inaugurated the Cremica Mega Food Park Pvt Ltd in Himachal Pradesh via video conference. 
 
The park at Singha village in Una district is the first Mega Food Park operationalized in Himachal Pradesh. 
 
It is expected to give an impetus to the growth of the food processing sector in Himachal Pradesh and benefit the people of Una district and the people of nearby districts of Kangra, Hamirpur and Bilaspur, an official press release said.
 
The food park has been set up on 52.40 acres of land at a cost of Rs 107.34 crore. The facilities being created by the developer at its Central Processing Centre (CPC) include multi-crop pulping line with bulk aseptic packaging (24 MT/ hour), frozen storage (1000 MT), deep freeze, dry warehouse, quality control laboratory and so on.
 
The park also has a common administrative building for office and other uses by the entrepreneurs and three Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) at Solan, Mandi, and Kangra having facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Badal said the park would leverage an additional investment of about Rs 250 crore in 25-30 food processing units and generate a turnover of about Rs 450-500 crore annually. It will  also provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas.
 
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Minor earthquakes shake J&K-Pakistan border region, Himachal Pradesh

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Two earthquakes of slight intensity shook the border region between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan and the Mandi region of Himachal Pradesh late this evening, the  India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The first quake, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, occurred in the border region between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan at 1908 hours, with its epicentre at latitude 35.1°N and longitude 74.2°E and a focal depth of 35 km.
 
The second tremor, measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale, occurred at 1933 hours, with its epicentre at latitude 31.7°N and longitude 76.8°E and a focal depth of 15 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Himachal girls football teams concede record 90 goals in four matches

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Himachal Pradesh girl teams (U-21 and U-17)  conceded a whopping 49  goals without scoring any in the Khelo India Youth Games here on Saturday.
 
In their openers on Wednesday, they had conceded 41 goals  Thus, in four matches (two each in U-21 and U-17), they provided their rivals a target to practise and have let go a record 90 goals so far.
 
This morning in U-17 section, Odisha pumped in 36 goals while in U-21, Tamil Nadu routed them 13-0.
 
In the openers, Mizoram had beaten their U-21 team 13-0 while Kerala had handed a 28- goal punishment to their U-17 side.
 
In another Girls (U-17) match, Maharashtra held Kerala to a 2-2 draw to share points.  Kshitija and Kirti (one each) scored for the hosts, while Meghna scored a brace for Kerala.
 
In Boys U-17, Karnataka lost to Punjab 1-2 courtesy an own goal by Michael P. Touthang. This happened in the 11th minute. An hour and nine minutes later, S. Lotjem made it 2-0 but a minute later Uzen Chhojzanj reduced the margin for Karnataka. This was Punjab’s second successive win.
 
In Boys U-21 category, Kerala and Maharashtra were involved in a 1-1 draw. Vinayak Shibbu gave Kerala the lead in the 38th minute while Prabuddha equalized in the 64th minute.
 
In the same section, Mizoram recorded their second win beating Chandigarh 4-1. Captain Lalnunzama (2), Vanlalnghenga and D. Laltlansanga (one each) scored for the  winners. Dhruv Sharma reduced the margin for the losers.
 
Results:
 
Boys  
 
(U-21)
Mizoram bt Chandigarh 4-1
Maharashtra drew with Kerala 1-1
 
(U-17)
Mizoram bt Uttarakhand 4-1
Punjab bt Karnataka 2-1
 
Girls 
 
(U-21)
Odisha drew with Mizoram 1-1
Tamil Nadu bt Himachal 13-0
(U-17)
Odisha bt Himachal Pradesh 36-0
Maharashtra drew with Kerala 2-2
 
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Six killed in Himachal road accident

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Six persons, including five students, were killed on Saturday when a school bus skidded off the road and rolled into a gorge in Himachal Pradesh's Sirmaur district, an official said.
 
The victims were going to DAV Public School when the accident occurred near Renukaji, a famous Hindu shrine about 40 km from district headquarter Nahan and 150 km from the state capital.
 
The bus driver was also killed while about eight students were injured and are hospitalised, Deputy Commissioner Lalit Jain told IANS over phone.
 
Eyewitnesses said the administration had a tough time extricating the victims from the badly-mangled bus.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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HP, Kerala, Chandigarh are top performers in SDG India Index

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Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Chandigarh are the top performers in the implementation  of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), according to the SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018 released by the NITI Aayog here on Friday.
 
A single measurable Index to map progress of States & UTs towards 2030 SDGs, the list details the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets.
 
The SDG India Index, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and the United Nations in India, was launched by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar.
 
NITI Aayog Members Ramesh Chand, V K Paul and VK Saraswat, its CEO Amitabh Kant, UN Resident Coordinator Yuri Afanasiev and Pravin Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry  of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Himachal Pradesh ranks high on providing clean water & sanitation, in reducing inequalities and preserving the mountain ecosystem.
 
Kerala’s top rank is attributed to its superior performance in providing good health, reducing hunger, achieving gender equality & providing quality education. The score range for States is 42-69.
 
Chandigarh leads among the Union Territories because of its exemplary performance in providing clean water & sanitation, affordable & clean energy, generating decent work & economic growth, & providing quality education. The score range for UTs is 57-68.
 
The SDG India Index tracks progress of all States and UTs on 62 Priority Indicators selected by NITI Aayog, which in turn is guided by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI)’s National Indicator Framework comprising 306 indicators and based on multiple-round consultations with Union Ministries/Departments and States/UTs.
 
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The Index spans 13 out of 17 SDGs. Progress on SDGs 12, 13 & 14 could not be measured as relevant State/UT level data were not available and SDG 17 was left out as it focuses on international partnerships.
 
The aspirants are Uttar Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, while the overall front runners are Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh and Puducherry. 
 
The performers were Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. 
 
The Union Territories were Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Delhi and Lakshadweep.
 
"NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country and also promote Competitive and Cooperative Federalism among States and UTs. The SDG India Index acts as a bridge between these mandates, aligning the SDGs with the Prime Minister’s clarion call of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, which embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement – people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace. 
 
"The world is now into the third year of the SDG era. The SDGs are ambitious global development goals that address key aspects of universal wellbeing across different socio-economic, cultural, geographical divisions and integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development," a press release from NITI Aayog said.
 
"India’s National Development Agenda is mirrored in the SDGs. India’s progress in SDGs is crucial for the world as the country is home to about 17% of the world population," it said.
 
According to the release, a composite score was computed between the range of 0-100 for each State and UT based on their aggregate performance across 13 SDGs, which indicates average performance of State/UT towards achieving 13 SDGs & their respective targets.
 
If a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies that it has achieved the 2030 national targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.
 
The SDG India Index is available via an interactive dashboard which has cross-sectoral relevance across policy, civil society, business and academia. The Index is designed to function as a tool for focussed policy dialogue, formulation and implementation, moving towards development action pegged to globally recognisable metrics of SDG framework.  
 
"The Index also supplements NITI Aayog’s continuous efforts towards encouraging evidence-based policy making by supporting States/UTs to benchmark their progress, identifying priority areas and share best practices.
 
"The SDG India Index will also help highlight crucial gaps related to tracking SDGs and the need for India to develop its statistical systems at National & State/UT levels. This will lead to the index evolving and becoming more comprehensive over the coming years. 
 
"The indicators will be further refined and additional indicators will be added with improvement in data collection, reporting processes & methodology. NITI Aayog is also exploring the potential for disaggregating data and developing capacity for real time monitoring and measuring incremental progress," the release added.
 
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Rajnath launches Emergency Response Support System for Himachal Pradesh

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched an Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) for Himachal Pradesh at Mandi on Wednesday. 
 
Himachal Pradesh is the first state to launch pan-India single emergency number ‘112’ under ERSS.
 
Addressing the gathering, Mr Rajnath Singh appealed to the people of the State to download ‘112 India’ mobile app available in the App store of Google and Apple. Citing the success of Himachal Pradesh in rolling out the ERSS project, he requested other States and Union Territories to make all-out efforts to commence rollout of their ERSS projects.
 
Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed his gratitude to the Union Home Minister for inaugurating the 112-single emergency number, 112 India mobile app and ERSS website and for providing financial assistance of Rs 4.71 crore for the project. 
 
He also thanked the Union Home Minister for approving a dedicated NDRF Battalion for the State of Himachal Pradesh, Rs 4.2 crore for modernization of State Police force under MPF scheme and for approving enhancement of monthly salary of SPOs in the district of Chamba and Lahaul Spiti from Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000.
 
The event marks the commencement of a single number-based 112 emergency services which will connect to Police, Fire, Health and other helplines through an Emergency Response Centre in the State. This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers.
 
Under this project, one Emergency Response Centre (ERC) has been established in Shimla along with 12 District Command Centres (DCCs) covering the entire State. 
 
The ERC has been integrated with Police (100), Fire (101), Health (108) and Women helpline (1090) Services to provide emergency services via single emergency number - 112. The service also includes a ‘112 India’ mobile app integrated with Panic Button of smartphones and ERSS State website for ease of people in availing immediate assistance. 
 
To increase the effectiveness of Emergency Response, the ERC has also been integrated with Location Based Services provided by Telecom Service Providers.
 
To ensure the safety of women, a SHOUT feature has been introduced in ‘112 India’ mobile app to seek immediate assistance from registered volunteers in the vicinity apart from the immediate assistance from Emergency Response Centre. The SHOUT feature is exclusively available to women.
 
The ‘112 India’ mobile app will be subsequently rolled out in all States and Union Territories to help people across the country access the unified emergency services. The Central Government has allocated Rs 321.69 crore under Nirbhaya Fund for implementation of ERSS project across the country.
 
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ADB to provide $ 105 million to support hydropower transmission in Himachal Pradesh

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Friday signed a $105 million loan to continue financing the transmission system upgrades in Himachal Pradesh for increased supply of hydropower to the state and the national grid.
 
The tranche 3 loan is part of the $350 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for Himachal Pradesh Clean Energy Transmission Investment Program approved by the ADB Board in September 2011, an official press release said.
 
The program is aimed at developing and expanding the transmission network to evacuate clean and renewable power generated from the State’s hydropower sources to load centers within and outside the State. 
 
It also supports the institutional capacity development of the state transmission utility, Himachal Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Limited (HPPTCL), as the executing agency for this project, the release said.
 
The signatories to the loan agreement were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed on behalf of the Government of India; and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed for ADB.
 
“This particular loan will help Government of Himachal Pradesh to benefit electricity consumers in the state and throughout northern India, by increasing the transmission system capacity for inflow of the hydropower generated in the state into India’s national grid,”said Mr. Khare after signing the loan agreement.
 
“This last tranche under the MFF will help sustain confidence among existing and potential hydropower developers about the availability of sufficient transmission capacity for evacuation of power from hydropower generation sources in Himachal Pradesh,” said Mr. Yokoyama.
 
The loan will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s lending facility based on the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), and a commitment charge of 0.15% per year, the release added.
 
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Himachal bans school vehicles older than 15 years

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Himachal Pradesh has banned plying of school buses older than 15 years and fixed the maximum age of drivers to 60 to ensure the safety of students, an official said here on Sunday.
 
"The government has decided to cap the life of all school vehicles, including buses and cabs, to 15 years," the government spokesperson told IANS.
 
The stringent rules come in the wake of a school bus accident in Nurpur town in Kangra district on April 9 that claimed 28 lives, including 24 students in the age group of nine to 12 years.
 
A notification in this regard was issued by Principal Secretary (Transport) Jagdish Sharma last week.
 
The new rules included that the drivers above 60 years of age will be debarred from driving and a driver must have at least five years of experience of driving heavy vehicles. The driver will also have to undergo eye check-up every year.
 
The new guidelines will be applicable to all modes of transport, including buses and small vehicles like cabs and vans.
 
As per the notification, each school transportation vehicle must have vehicle tracking system, CCTV cameras and a speed limit of 40 km per hour, besides provision of grills on the bus windows.
 
The carrying capacity of each school vehicle be limited to one and a half times the seating capacity declared in the registration certificate.
 
The driver and the conductor should be neatly dressed and wear name tags.
 
IANS
 

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Snow, rains bring down mercury in Himachal

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Snow and widespread rains on Saturday brought down temperatures across Himachal Pradesh, a Met official said.
 
While the tourist resorts of Shimla and Manali witnessed rains, other hill stations like Kalpa and Chitkul in Kinnaur district and Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti received the season's heaviest snow, the official said.
 
Manali town, which saw a low of 2.2 degrees Celsius, experienced 40 mm of rain, the highest in the state. 
 
The state capital saw mild rains and recorded the minimum temperature at 7.3 degrees.
 
Keylong, which saw a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius, recorded 32 cm of snow, the state's highest. Kalpa, some 250 km from here, saw 4.2 cm of snow.
 
The majestic Rohtang Pass (13,050 feet), located 52 km from Manali, also received snow, according to reports.
 
Dharamsala town saw five mm of rain and recorded the minimum temperature at 11.8 degrees Celsius, while Dalhousie had 10 mm of rain with a low of 5.3 degrees.
 
IANS
 

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Snow on Himachal Pradesh hills

 
HP’s Keylong receives fresh snowfall
Temperatures across Himachal Pradesh on Friday dipped as high altitudes received mild spells of snow while others experienced rains.
 
The Met Office has forecast snow and rain across the state due to active western disturbance till Sunday.
 
The high hills in Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti districts have been experiencing light snowfall since early Friday, a Met official told IANS.
 
The skies over Shimla and nearby Kufri were overcast. There was possibility of rains later in the day. 
 
The picturesque tourist resort of Manali was at 5.8 degrees Celsius after mild rain. The Rohtang Pass, just 52 km from Manali, received snowfall.
 
The minimum temperature here was 10.5 degrees. Kalpa, 250 km from Shimla, and Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti district recorded the night temperature at three degrees and minus 1.1 degrees Celsius, respectively.
 
Lower hills of Dharamsala, Kangra, Palampur and Hamirpur saw rains.
 
IANS
 

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5-day-long IAF rescue operation ends, 252 airlifted from Himachal

 
Himachal Pradesh rescue ops enter day 5
 
 
The five-day long air rescue operation in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul Valley came to an end on Saturday with 252 people, mainly tourists, being evacuated safely from the snow-marooned region. Another 4,770 were rescued by road.
 
The rescued include foreigners from Germany, Norway, Denmark and Nepal, and a large number of Indian children and women.
 
"The air rescue operations have been called off as per the direction of the government of India in the wake of fresh assessment of the situation," an official statement said.
 
State Tribal Development Minister Ram Lal Markanda told reporters that 80 per cent of the apple crop and 90 per cent electricity supply have been damaged with the recent snow, the heaviest since 1955 in the region. The electricity supply in the entire Lahaul-Spiti district is likely to be normalized in 10 days.
 
Airlifting of tourists by the Indian Air Force (IAF) was hampered on Friday afternoon owing to the onset of snowfall in the high hills, including Keylong, 122 km north of Manali.
 
Harjit Singh, a tourist from Chandigarh who was stranded with this family, told IANS: "We were stranded near Baralacha Pass for three days without food and water. Finally, a team of rescuers came to help us and others. They took us to a nearby army base camp from where the IAF airlifted us and gave us a new life." 
 
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Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS that if there is need, rescue operation would be carried out in the next few days. 
 
As per the assessment, all people have been either evacuated or moved to safer places. Some of the stranded people didn't prefer to leave the place without their vehicles so they have stayed back until the roads are motorable again, he said.
 
Khan said the rescue operation has been carried out in three formats.
 
First, the IAF was airlifting the tourists from vulnerable spots. Second, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) was rescuing the people by road. And third, the local administration was providing logistic support to both the IAF and the BRO in rescuing people.
 
Work to clear snow from the Rohtang Pass and Baralacha Pass is in the final stage, Khan added.
 
Two light utility helicopters were additionally deployed along with three IAF choppers, including MI-17, to speed-up the rescue process in Lahaul.
 
Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst, and heavy rain devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24.
 
It has been one of the longest and largest rescue operations of its kind, an official said on the fifth day of the rescue.
 
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass, the Kunzum Pass, and the Baralacha Pass had cut-off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys, affecting a large number of tourists and hampering water and electricity supply.
 
IANS
 

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Himachal rescue operation enters final stage

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The rescue operation in Himachal's Lahaul Valley entered its final stages on Saturday as a large number of stranded people, mainly tourists, were evacuated safely from the snow-marooned region.
 
The last batch of tourists stuck at various locations in the valley for over a week were brought to Keylong, district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, and at Sarchu from where they were rescued by road on Saturday as the weather cleared, a government official told IANS over phone from Kullu town.
 
Airlifting of tourists by the Indian Air Force (IAF) could not start on Saturday. It has been hampered since Friday afternoon owing to the onset of snowfall in the high hills, including Keylong, 122 km north of the picturesque Manali tourist resort.
 
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS nearly 500 people would be transported by road on Saturday from Keylong to Manali via the Rohtang tunnel.
 
Likewise, from Sarchu, some 222 km from Manali, the stranded people would be taken towards Leh in Jammu and Kashmir by road as the weather permits.
 
It has been one of the longest and largest rescue operations of its kind, the official said on the fifth day of rescue.
 
Over 2,000 persons, including 30 foreigners, have been rescued since September 24. Out of these, 211 were airlifted and the remaining evacuated by road via under-construction Rohtang tunnel, officials said.
 
Khan said the rescue operation has been carried out in three formats.
 
First, the IAF is airlifting the tourists from vulnerable spots. Second, the BRO is rescuing the people by road. And third, the local administration is providing logistic support to both the IAF and the BRO in rescuing people.
 
Work to clear snow from the Rohtang Pass and Baralacha Pass is in final stage, he said.
 
Two light utility helicopters were additionally deployed along with three IAF choppers, including MI-17, to speed-up the rescue in Lahaul.
 
Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst and heavy rain devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24.
 
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass, the Kunzum Pass and the Baralacha Pass had cut-off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys, affecting a large number of tourists and hampering water and electricity supply.
 
IANS
 

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