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Gadkari says 'not returning' to Maharashtra politics

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has ruled out any possibility of his returning to state politics and said the political impasse in Maharashtra would be soon resolved, here on Thursday.
File photo of Nitin Gadkari
File photo of Nitin Gadkari
Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has ruled out any possibility of his returning to state politics and said the political impasse in Maharashtra would be soon resolved, here on Thursday.
 
"I am in Delhi... There is no question of my returning to state politics. The political crisis in the state will be resolved soon," Gadkari said, ending all speculation of his being a contender for the post of a consensus Chief Minister to defuse the state political deadlock over government formation.
 
Endorsing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Gadkari said that all efforts are being made to ensure a government under his leadership in alliance with the Shiv Sena.
 
A day after stoking the political fires over his possible role in the state and a meeting with Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the Union Minister is currently in Nagpur to meet Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.
 
In Mumbai, state minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that Gadkari would not return to state politics and said the new government would be formed under Fadnavis' stewardship.
 
IANS
 

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16 dead, 14 injured in major fire at ammunition depot in Maharashtra

At least 22 defence personnel died and 14 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday and triggered huge explosions at one of India's biggest ammunition depots at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
 
16 dead, 14 injured in ammunition depot fire in Wardha
At least 16 people died and 14 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of today and triggered huge explosions at one of India's biggest ammunition depots at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
 
Wardha district officials said the injured had been admitted to hospitals in Wardha town, about 30 km from Pulgaon, for treatment, official sources said.
 
The massive fire and the explosions that followed lit up the night sky in the town, located about 100 km from Nagpur.
 
The fire broke out in the Central Ammunition Depot around 1.30 am today and was brought under control by around 6 am today, they said.
 
The cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained and would be established only after an inquiry, they said.
 
The sources said families living in accommodation near the depot were evacuated to safer places as a precautionary measure.
 
Fire brigade personnel worked throughout the night to bring the blaze under control.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the fire.
 
“Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter
 
"I pray that those who are injured recover quickly," he said, adding that he had asked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to rush to the spot and take stock of the situation. 
 
Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh is also rushing to Wardha for an assessment of the situation, the sources added.
 
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ICC World T20: New Zealand stun India by 47 runs

New Zealand pulled off a stunning 47-run win over hosts India in the first group stage match of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium at Nagpur on Tuesday night.
 
New Zealand stun India, win by 47 runs
 
New Zealand pulled off a stunning 47-run win over hosts India in the first group stage match of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here tonight.
 
The hosts appeared to have done well when they restricted New Zealand to 126 for seven in their 20 overs after the Kiwis' skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bat first.
 
But they then managed to bowl out the Indians for just 79 in 18.1 overs to maintain their all-win record against India in T20 internationals, winning all the five matches they have met in so far. The shabby batting performance by the Indians was clearly no match for the might of the New Zealand bowling today.
 
Chasing what appeared to be an easy target, both the Indian openers departed under 10 runs. Shikhar Dhawan (1) was the first to go, trapped leg before wicket by Nathan McCullum.
 
Rohit Sharma followed him in the third over after making just five runs. He tried to take on Mitchell Santer, only to be removed by a stumping by Luke Ronchi. Suresh Raina (1) followed him into the pavilion in the same over. The south paw tried to flick the ball past mid-wicket only to play it too high and was caught by a waiting Martin Guptill at short mid-wicket.
 
Circumstances turned worse when Yuvraj Singh (4) followed within the power play, giving a return catch to Mccullum. Kohli who tried to build the innings with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni departed at the start of the ninth over.
 
By this time India were 39/5 and had bleak hopes of regaining control of the match.
 
Soon the rest of the tail tumbled for a feeble 79/10 in 18.1 overs. Except Dhoni (30), Kohli (23) and Ravichandran Ashwin (10), none of the other batsmen could cross into double digits.
 
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The New Zealnd bowlers had a great day in the field with the ball. Slow-left-arm bowler Santer topped the bowling chart with figures of four for 11 with an economy of 2.75. This was backed up by Ish Sodhi who clamed three wickets for 18 in his four overs. Santer was chosen Player of the Match.
 
Earlier, things did not appear to be going to well for the Kiwis as they made first use of the pitch.
 
Opener Guptill smashed the first ball of the match from Ashwin for a straight six. But the off-spinner got even two balls later, trapping the batsman leg before wicket.
 
Colin Munro, who replaced him, departed after making just seven an over later, top-edging Ashish Nehra's ball to wide mid-on.
 
From then on, the Indian bowling attack struck home in terms of both picking up wickets at regular intervals and also restricting the Kiwis' run tally. 
 
Both Raina and Ravindra Jadeja completed their four overs with figures of one for 15 as the Indians came up with a good all-round perfomrnance in the field.
 
Dhoni took a catch off Jadeja and did a stumping as well and two brilliant runouts by Raina and Dhawan added to New Zealand's woes.
 
Corey Anderson stood out in the batting order, scoring 34 runs, and Luke Ronchi  scored 21 off 11 balls to take the side's total to 126 for seven at the end of 20 overs.
 
Scoreboard:
New Zealand innings (20 overs maximum)
MJ Guptill lbw b Ashwin 6
KS Williamson st Dhoni b Raina 8
C Munro c Pandya b Nehra 7
CJ Anderson b Bumrah 34
LRPL Taylor run out (Raina) 10
MJ Santner c †Dhoni b Jadeja 18
GD Elliott run out (Dhawan/Nehra) 9
L Ronchi not out 21
NL McCullum not out 0
Extras (b 4, lb 3, w 6) 13
Total (7 wickets; 20 overs) 126 (6.30 runs per over)
Did not bat: AF Milne, IS Sodhi
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Guptill, 0.2 ov), 2-13 (Munro, 1.3 ov), 3-35 (Williamson, 6.5 ov), 4-61 (Taylor, 11.3 ov), 5-89 (Anderson, 15.4 ov), 6-98 (Santner, 16.4 ov), 7-114 (Elliott, 19.3 ov)
Bowling
R Ashwin 4 0 32 1
A Nehra 3 1 20 1
JJ Bumrah 4 0 15 1
SK Raina 4 0 16 1
RA Jadeja 4 0 26 1
HH Pandya 1 0 10 0
 
India innings (target: 127 runs from 20 overs)
RG Sharma st Ronchi b Santner 5
S Dhawan lbw b McCullum 1
V Kohli c Ronchi b Sodhi 23
SK Raina c Guptill b Santner 1
Yuvraj Singh c & b McCullum 4
MS Dhoni c McCullum b Santner 30
HH Pandya lbw b Santner 1
RA Jadeja c & b Sodhi 0
R Ashwin st Ronchi b Sodhi 10
A Nehra b Milne 0
JJ Bumrah not out 0
Extras (w 3, nb 1) 4
Total (all out; 18.1 overs) 79 (4.34 runs per over)
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Dhawan, 0.5 ov), 2-10 (Sharma, 2.2 ov), 3-12 (Raina, 2.5 ov), 4-26 (Yuvraj Singh, 4.5 ov), 5-39 (Kohli, 8.1 ov), 6-42 (Pandya, 9.4 ov), 7-43 (Jadeja, 10.2 ov), 8-73 (Ashwin, 16.3 ov), 9-79 (Dhoni, 17.4 ov), 10-79 (Nehra, 18.1 ov)
Bowling
NL McCullum 3 0 15 2
CJ Anderson 3 0 18 0
MJ Santner 4 0 11 4
GD Elliott 2 0 9 0
AF Milne 2.1 0 8 1
IS Sodhi 4 0 18 3
 
Toss - New Zealand, who chose to bat
Points - New Zealand 2, India 0
Player of the match - MJ Santner (New Zealand)
 
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Sensational Chahar hands India series win over Bangladesh

India's Shreyas Iyer celebrates his half-century during the 3rd T20I match between India and Bangladesh at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur on November 10, 2019. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
India's Shreyas Iyer celebrates his half-century during the 3rd T20I match between India and Bangladesh at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur on November 10, 2019. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
A brilliant bowling performance by Deepak Chahar (6/7) helped India beat Bangladesh by 30 runs in the third T20I to win the three-match series 2-1 at the VCA Stadium here on Sunday.
 
The 27-year-old Rajasthan seamer bagged 6 wickets for just 7 runs, including a hat-trick, from 3.2 overs to return with the best ever figures in the history of T20 internationals, surpassing the previous record held by Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis who scalped 6/8 against Zimbabwe in 2012.
 
Chasing a target of 175, Bangladesh were dealt an early blow with Chahar dismissing opener Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar off consecutive deliveries in the third over.
 
However, a 98-run third-wicket stand between Mohammad Naim and Mohammad Mithun put Bangladesh in cruise mode. Twenty-year-old Naim, who made his international debut in the first match of the series, smashed 81 off 48 balls, his innings laced with 10 fours and two sixes.
 
It was Chahar who provided the much-needed breakthrough as Mithun (27) holed out to K. L. Rahul at long-off in the 13th over against the run of play.
 
Shivam Dube then dismissed Bangladesh stumper and hero of the first match, Mushfiqur Rahim, for a duck as the momentum veered back India's way.
 
Dube then got the big wicket of Naim with an inch-perfect yorker. Naim tried to play it to point but the ball tailed away late to take his off stump. Dube then dismissed Afif Hossain with a catch off his own bowling while Yuzvendra Chahal castled Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah to leave the visitors reeling at 130/7 in the 17th over.
 
It was all a Chahar show after that. He first got the wicket of Shafiul Islam off the last delivery of the 18th over and then returned to dismiss Mustafizur Rahman and Aminul Islam off the first two balls of the 20th over to complete his hat-trick, the first by a male Indian cricketer in T20 internationals.
 
Earlier, half-centuries by Shreyas Iyer (62) and Rahul (52) helped India post a challenging total of 174/5 in the allotted 20 overs.
 
Put in to bat first, India were dealt an early blow when captain Rohit Sharma fell to Shafiul Islam in the second over. Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul got India into the 30s in the next two overs before the former became Shafiul's second victim in the sixth over as he mishit a big shot and holed out to Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah at midwicket.
 
Rahul and Iyer then saw out the next two overs before starting to accelerate in the 10th over. The pair put up 59 runs for the third wicket with Rahul hitting a much-needed half-century. Al-Amin Hossain finally dismissed Rahul off the first ball of the 13th over.
 
Shreyas and Rishabh Pant saw out the next two overs with the former hitting a six off Soumya Sarkar in the 14th over. He then went on a rampage in the next over, smashing Afif Hossain for three consecutive sixes. He brought up his maiden T20I fifty in the same over.
 
Sarkar came back in the 17th over and took out both Shreyas and Pant as the momentum shifted back to the visitors. Manish Pandey then took India to 174/5 by hitting an unbeaten 22 off 13 balls.
 
Manish Pandey played his shots late in the innings to take India to 174/5.
 
Brief scores: India 174/5 in 20 overs (Shreyas Iyer 62, K.L. Rahul 52; Soumya Sarkar 2/29) beat Bangladesh 144 all out in 19.2 overs (Mohammad Naim 81, Mohammad Mithun 27; Deepak Chahar 6/7) by 30 runs.
 
IANS
 

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Shreyas, Rahul take India to 174/5 in 3rd T20I

India's Shreyas Iyer celebrates his half-century during the 3rd T20I match between India and Bangladesh at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur on November 10, 2019. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
India's Shreyas Iyer celebrates his half-century during the 3rd T20I match between India and Bangladesh at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur on November 10, 2019. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
Half-centuries by Shreyas Iyer (62) and K. L. Rahul (52) helped India score 174/5 in the third T20I against Bangladesh at the VCA Stadium here on Sunday.
 
The three-match series is tied at 1-1 with Bangladesh looking to secure their first-ever series victory against India in the shortest format.
 
Put in to bat first, India were dealt an early blow when captain Rohit Sharma fell to Shafiul Islam in the second over. Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul got India into the 30s in the next two overs before Dhawan became Shafiul's second victim in the sixth over as he mishit a big shot and holed out to Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah at mid-wicket.
 
Rahul and Iyer then saw out the next two overs before starting to accelerate in the 10th over. The pair put up 59 runs for the third wicket with Rahul hitting a much-needed half-century. Al-Amin Hossain finally dismissed Rahul off the first ball of the 13th over.
 
Shreyas and Rishabh Pant saw out the next two overs with the former hitting a six off Soumya Sarkar in the 14th over. He then went on a rampage in the next over, smashing Afif Hossain for three consecutive sixes. He brought up his maiden T20I fifty in the same over.
 
Sarkar came back in the 17th over and took out both Shreyas and Pant as the momentum shifted back to the visitors. Manish Pandey then took India to 174/5 by hitting an unbeaten 22 off 13 balls.
 
Brief scores: India: 174/5 in 20 overs (Shreyas Iyer 62, K.L. Rahul 52; Soumya Sarkar 2/29)
 
IANS
 

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Bangladesh opt to field first in 3rd T20I

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Bangladesh won the toss and opted to field first in the decisive third T20I against India at the VCA Stadium here on Sunday.
 
Both sides announced one change each to their respective squads.
 
While India have brought in Manish Pandey in place of Krunal Pandya, Bangladesh have fielded Mohammed Mithun in place of Mosaddek Hossain.
 
"The wicket looks good, but India is a good chasing side. Dew could come into play as well. We started well in Rajkot, but need to keep up the momentum in the middle overs," Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah said at the toss.
 
"We would've bowled first too. Teams batting first have posted targets and have managed to defend them, possibly because of the slowness of the pitch. We still have to be good on the day and post a good score."
 
Playing XI
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Khaleel Ahmed
 
Bangladesh: Liton Das, Mohammad Naim, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah(c), Afif Hossain, Mohammad Mithun, Aminul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain
 
IANS
 

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Gadkari likely to meet RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

File photo of Nitin Gadkari
File photo of Nitin Gadkari
As the Maharashtra government formation efforts reach a critical stage, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is likely to meet Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat at its headquarters here on Thursday, according to sources.
 
Gadkari and Bhagwat are expected to discuss the political scenario with both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena unwilling to let go off the Chief Minister's post as the prospects of President's Rule loom ahead by this weekend.
 
Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday again reiterated that the next government will be formed by his party with its own Chief Minister, but has not spelt out how it will be achieved.
 
Raut, who claims the support of 175 MLAs, repeated his challenge to the BJP to stake a claim to the government and produce 145 signatures of support -- the simple majority mark in the 288-member Assembly.
 
The BJP's incumbent Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is also adamant on the post compelling the party to consider options, with the mantle likely to fall on Gadkari.
 
A veteran politician, a former state Minister, former BJP President, who some refer to as a 'Crisis Pehalwan', Gadkari is currently a Union Minister and enjoys a good equation with the RSS and all other political parties.
 
In the current political imbroglio, many in the BJP and RSS -- besides the ally Shiv Sena -- are optimistic that Gadkari can cut the Gordian's Knot in 'two hours' and pave the way for a saffron combine government to take office.
 
Gadkari also enjoys a good rapport with Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and earlier his father, the party's founder, the late Bal Thackeray, and several Sena ministers, many of them were his cabinet colleagues in the erstwhile Sena-BJP government of 1995-1999.
 
Besides Gadkari's meeting with Bhagwat, a BJP delegation will call on Governor B. S. Koshyari and Thackeray will address a meeting of the Sena's newly-elected legislators later in the day.
 
IANS
 

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Modi flags off Nagpur Metro Rail, says govt. committed to ensuring Ease of Living

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the Nagpur Metro rail project through video conference from here on Thursday and said that his government was committed to ensuring Ease of Living for the people of the country.
 
The 13.5 km-long Khapri- Sitabuldi section of the Nagpur Metro was inaugurated through the digital unveiling of a plaque.
 
Addressing the gathering through video conference, Modi congratulated the people of Nagpur for the second metro service in Maharashtra. He said that is a special moment for him as he had laid the foundation stone for the Nagpur Metro in 2014. The Metro will provide a better, cost friendly and environment friendly means of transportation for the people in the city, he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that the Union Government and State Government are working continuously for the development of Nagpur, keeping its future requirements in mind. He added that Nagpur metro will create employment opportunities for the youth and will also help in the further growth of the city.
 
Highlighting the initiatives of the Union Government in building a modern transport system throughout the country, he said that 400 km of operational network of Metro had been built in the past four-and-a-half years. He added that work is progressing on 800 km of metro network throughout the country.
 
Modi spoke about the benefits of the recently launched common mobility card, the One Nation-One Card. He said that the indigenously developed card, merges debit card with mobility card and has removed India’s dependence on other countries for building such a card. Only very few countries in the world have such a common mobility card for transportation, he pointed out.
 
The Prime Minister said that the Union Government has an integrated approach towards finding solutions. 
 
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Work begins on permanent campus for IIM Nagpur

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Road Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the permanent campus of the Indian Institute of Management, Nagpur (IIMN) here on Wednesday.
 
Chandrashekhar Bawankule, guardian minister for Nagpur, was also present on the occasion.
 
The event, hosted by C P Gurnani, Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIMN, was also attended by Maharashtra Airports Development Company Ltd (MADC) Vice-Chairman and MD Suresh Kakani, Nagpur Mayor Nanda Jichkar and other dignitaries.
 
The "bhoomipoojan" was followed by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and the model for the proposed campus. A short film showcasing the infrastructure at the permanent campus was also screened.
 
The ceremony flagged off the first phase of the development of IIMN’s permanent campus at Dahegaon Mauza in MIHAN. Designed to cater to 600 students, the new 132-acre campus has been designed by the Delhi-based R K Associates Ltd. The project will be executed by Ahluwalia Contracts India Ltd., and managed by Engineers India Limited (EIL) as Project Management Consultants (PMC). 
 
A press release from IIMN said the campus had been designed to minimise the environmental footprint while facilitating learning both inside and outside the classroom. Phase 1 has a built-up area of approximately 60,000 sq. m., and includes the construction of a state-of-the-art academic complex, library, administrative block, student hostels, sports complex, and residential quarters.
 
The campus will also house a Management Development Centre for the institute’s Executive Education Programmes (EEP) and IIM Nagpur’s entrepreneurship incubation centre, InFED, in addition to allied infrastructure. The first phase is expected to be completed in 18 months.
 
Nitin Gadkari lauded the efforts of the Board of Governors, led by Gurnani in developing the institution, and acknowledged the support of the administration of VNIT, Nagpur, where the institute is currently operating from. He emphasized on the development of Nagpur as a logistics hub and the value that an institution such as IIMN can add to the growth of the region. 
 
He exhorted the gathering to ensure that all stakeholders, including people displaced as a result of the development, benefit from this growth.
 
Fadnavis thanked the Central Government for enabling the establishment of an IIM in Nagpur. His speech emphasized on the indispensability of quality human resources. Capital for industry cannot be deployed in the absence of human resources, he stated, thus underscoring the importance of premier institutions such as IIM in a city like Nagpur. He explained how the growth of Pune as an IT hub was founded on its development as an educational centre and consequently an industrial city.
 
Envisioning a similar model for Nagpur, he stated that the establishment of institutes of national importance such as IIM, AIIMS, NLU and IIIT in the city will enable the development of skilled human resources, thereby attracting the attention of the industry as well. He stressed that 80% of India’s GDP is concentrated within an hour’s flight from Nagpur, which, as the logistics hub of the nation, is therefore the ideal location for the first and only IIM in Maharashtra.
 
Institutes such as IIMN contribute to the educational ecosystem of the region, which in turn provides an impetus to overall development. He hailed the event as a milestone in the growth of the city, and shared his vision for elevating IIM Nagpur to the stature of prestigious IIMs like IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore. 
 
Kakani related how the company had ensured that Project-Affected Persons received adequate compensation and employment with the coming up of new institutions in SEZ – MIHAN. Training orders were given to local youth from displaced families who would work as paid trainees, and eventually be employed with MADC Ltd.
 
Gurnani spoke of the challenges in the development of the new campus and outlined the Board's ambitious vision for the institute and their enthusiasm to transform IIM Nagpur into an institution of international repute. 
 
Gurnani was positive that with Phase I proceeding as planned, the work for Phase II would be expedited as well.
 
IIM Nagpur is the first of the six new-generation IIMs to commence its flagship Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in Management in 2015. Mentored by IIM Ahmedabad, it has successfully placed its first two batches. The third batch of IIM Nagpur is set to graduate in 2019.
 
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Gadkari lays foundation stone for development and maintenance of Inter-Modal Station in Nagpur

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Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone for development and maintenance of Inter-Modal Station (IMS) at Ajni Railway Station near here today. 
 
IMS is a passenger terminal infrastructure which integrates various transportation modes like rail, road, mass rapid transit system (MRTS), bus rapid transit (BRT) and other para-modal transportation modes. 
 
Inter-modal stations allow passengers to change transportation modes during transit without leaving the station premises, an official press release said.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Gadkari stressed the need to adopt new ideas for improving transport facilities in towns and cities. He also called upon planners to aim for reducing city congestion by aggregation of transportation nodes in the city, by effective city evacuation, and by eliminating traffic due to transit passengers. 
 
The Minister emphasised on providing better passenger convenience for various transport modes and to bring synergies into the available infrastructure.
 
The IMS facility will include world-class amenities like integrated ticket counters, transit platforms, travelators, lifts, spacious waiting rooms, retail shops, food courts, and so on, leading to improved convenience and comfort for transit passengers. 
 
The station has been designed for horizon year 2050 with the capacity to handle 3.24 lakh passengers every day. The capital cost of this project is Rs. 1,588.81 crore out of which cost of development of IMS Nagpur including relocation of railway quarters, structures is Rs. 1.288.81 crore, while the cost of improvement of road connectivity to IMS Nagpur is Rs. 300 crore.
 
The project includes construction of an environment-friendly building – its roof will be designed so as to collect rain water for harvesting, and for installation of solar panels to reduce the overall energy consumption.
 
The complex will provide world-class amenities like integrated ticket counters, kiosks, transit platforms, travellators, escalators, lifts, spacious waiting rooms, retail shops and food courtsleading to improved convenience and comfort for transit passengers. It will have parking for 1000 cars, 148 bus bays and internal roads for circulation.
 
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Emergency-fame retired judge C. S. Dharmadhikari passes away

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Retired justice Chandrashekhar Shankar Dharmadhikari, who delivered a landmark verdict during the Emergency on human rights, died here on Thursday at a private hospital following a brief illness.
 
Justice Dharmadhikari, 91, was also an eminent Gandhian, freedom-fighter, legal luminary and social activist. He is survived by his medico daughter Aruna Patil and two sons -- Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari of Bombay High Court and lawyer Ashutosh -- family sources said.
 
Born in Raipur, Madhya Pradesh, his last rites shall be performed at the Ambazari Ghat crematorium later on Thursday.
 
A recipient of many awards, including Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, Justice Dharmadhikari was appointed a judge in Bombay High Court in July 1972. He served as Acting Chief Justice here, and retired in November 1989.
 
In his landmark ruling during the Emergency, Justice Dharmadhikari had held that apart from constitutional rights, the Right to Life is natural and a human right, and therefore, even during the Emergency, a citizen could approach the high court.
 
Accordingly, he entertained petitions and ordered the release of those against whom there was no material (evidence).
 
Post-retirement, he was the Chairman of Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (1991-1992) and later a committee headed by him in 2014 had recommended a complete ban on dance bars in hotels/restaurants and 'curbs on social media' since they had a 'corrupting influence', in order to reduce crimes against women.
 
Hailing from a family of staunch Gandhians who are largely into the legal profession, Justice Dharmadhikari also served as Chairman of Educational Regulatory Authority, on the Maharashtra State Women's Commission and National Commission for Women, besides penning books in Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati.
 
IANS
 

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Hindus should insist on law for Ram temple in Ayodhya: Bhagwat

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Hindus need not fight, but should insist that the government make a law to build a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)  chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Sunday.
 
"We do not need to fight but need to insist. We will have to create an atmosphere that the government should build the temple now. We have to demand of the government to make a law for it. We need to build pressure on the government," Bhagwat said at Vishva Hindu Parishad's "Dharm Sabha" here.
 
"If a government wants to build the temple and is not finding the ways, public pressure gives it strength. The entire country needs to stand for the temple."
 
He said that the construction of Ram temple is not related to politics.
 
"It has no relation with politics. We need a grand Ram temple. It should be made in the same format as we have imagined. It should be built by the hands of those who tried to build it in the 80s. We need to mobilise the entire society for this," he said.
 
He said that the society does not move according to the words written in law, but according to its 'mann' (mind).
 
"It is like this everywhere in the world. The law needs to understand it, while the society respects the law," he said.
 
The Supreme Court has said that the construction of Ram temple is not its priority. In 2010, the Court decided that lord Ram was born there. It is his place. A hope was instilled that now Ram temple will be constructed. But the matter went to a new bench which again dragged it. The court clearly indicated that it was not their priority, he said. 
 
He said the Ram temple issue was not meant to bring someone to power or to throw someone out of power. "If the issue is resolved before elections, the issue can be put to an end," he said.
 
Reminding the Centre, he said it had once promised that if it was proven that there was a Ram temple at the site, then the place can be given to the Hindus which could be utilised by them according to their wish. 
 
"It has been proven time and again that there was a temple. This is the place where lord Ram was born," he said.
 
Lord Ram, lord Krishna and lord Shiv unite us. They do not see caste and religion. They teach us dignity. If a grand temple for Ram is constructed, all clashes will end, he claimed. 
 
"That's why I am saying that the government should bring a legislation. Those who are responsible for it should think about how a legislation can be brought. A law should be passed at the earliest. And it will be appropriate. Because all kinds of evidence has affirmed that there was a temple at 'that place'," he said.
 
IANS
 

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Three killed in Maharashtra army depot blast

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At least three persons were killed and around 12 others injured in a blast at the Wardha ammunition depot of the army here in Maharashtra on Tuesday, officials said.
 
The explosion occurred at the Pulgaon Central Ammunition Depot around 7 a.m. when some discarded ammunition was being unloaded for destruction at the demolition ground here.
 
Top police, army and civil officials have rushed to the site to investigate the matter.
 
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Bring law to build Ram temple at Ayodhya: Bhagwat

Raking up the pet saffron agenda ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday pitched for a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya "at the earliest" through law and accused "fundamentalist forces" of obstructing the process.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during the annual Vijayadashami celebration of the RSS at its headquarters in Nagpur on October 18, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during the annual Vijayadashami celebration of the RSS at its headquarters in Nagpur on October 18, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Raking up the pet saffron agenda ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday pitched for a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya "at the earliest" through law and accused "fundamentalist forces" of obstructing the process.
 
Delivering his Vijayadashami speech on the 93rd foundation day of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, he also criticized the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala entry for women of all ages while touching upon internal and external security issues. 
 
"The Ram temple must be constructed at the earliest at Ramjanmbhoomi. It should not be delayed any more. The decision should be taken at the earliest. We say the government should bring legislation and construct Ram temple. Whatever steps would be taken by sants in this regard, we will stand by them," he said.
 
"Lord Ram does not belong to any community. He is not about Hindus and Muslims. He is an icon of India. His temple must be constructed, be it any way. The government should bring legislation." 
 
Bhagwat's remarks assume significance against the backdrop of the Supreme Court deciding to begin hearing the title suit of the Ayodhya dispute from October 29. The VHP has decided to launch a mass campaign in favour of building a temple. 
 
The RSS chief said a place was yet to be allotted for construction of the temple although all kinds of evidence have affirmed that there was a temple at "that place" -- where the 16th century Babri Masjid stood until it was razed on December 6, 1992. 
 
"The matter is in court. It is getting delayed and delayed. How long it will be delayed? The Hindu society is waiting since long for the construction of the temple. People know the facts about it. But some people do politics on it. They are trying to delay the process. Had politics not been there, the temple would have been constructed long ago. It could have been constructed with the cooperation and coordination of all," he said.
 
He said there was "an obvious game plan of a few elements" to stall a judicial ruling. Constructing the Ram temple "will also pave the way for an atmosphere of goodwill and oneness in the country. 
 
"This matter of national interest is being obstructed by some fundamentalist elements and forces that play communal politics. Despite such machination, the decision regarding the ownership of the land should be expedited and the government should clear the path for the construction of the grand Ram temple through appropriate and requisite law."
 
Speaking on national security, Bhagwat said India needs to become self-reliant in defence production and emphasised that it should get technology and enhance domestic capacity.
 
"Border security and internal security are issues of foremost consideration as they ensure space and opportunity to the nation for prosperity and development. 
 
"Fruitful efforts have been made to entwine the web of international relations by appraising the nations with our security concerns and getting their cooperation," he said.
 
While the government and the armed forces have displayed "clear intent to maintain peaceful and cordial relations with all countries, including neighbours", it was necessary to remain firm and make prudent use of Indian capabilities while taking bold actions wherever necessary, he said.
 
For this, Bhagwat said efforts were on to enhance the morale of the armed forces to make them well-equipped with the latest technologies, which is one reason India's prestige was rising in the world.
 
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Commenting on border skirmishes, the RSS chief said the newly-formed government in Pakistan had not led to any decline in its "overt and covert provocative activities" in states like Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab ... "which was neither expected nor happened".
 
"We have to save ourselves, we need to become so strong that those who plan an attack will not dare to do so."
 
He added that security without "total self-reliance" in defence production cannot be assured and the pace of national efforts in that direction must be accelerated while continuing with the international multilateral exchanges wherever required.
 
On the protests over the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, he said the Supreme Court verdict had not taken into consideration the nature and premise of the tradition that had been accepted by society. 
 
"The decisions taken without considering all aspects will neither be adopted in actual practice nor will they help in creating a new social order in tune with changing times and positions.
 
"The idea was to have gender equality, which is fine. However, there should have been talks (with the followers of the tradition). The faith of crores of devotees was not taken into account," he said.
 
In his 90-minute speech, Bhagwat cautioned against Urban Maoism and charged that it was propagating falsehood and spreading hatred in the society.
 
"The actual presence of Jihadi and terrorist elements in one way or other in such incidents is a common factor among all these. So the emerging conclusion is, this is a bigger canny conspiracy in collusion with forces from within and outside the country. 
 
"It no more remains just a power politics by the opposition, but in this process, politically ambitious individuals and groups and weaker sections crushed under deprivation and neglect get drawn as ammunition unknowingly or unwillingly," he said.
 
Child rights activist and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi was the chief guest at this year's programme.
 
IANS
 

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BrahMos scientist held on spying charge, 2 others raided in UP

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A young scientist working with the BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd (BAPL)'s missile research centre in Nagpur was arrested on Monday on alleged charges of spying for Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI and other countries, informed sources said.
 
Scientist Nishant Pradeep Agrawal has been working for the last four years in the BAPL, an Indo-Russian Joint Venture, and was nabbed in a joint operation of Uttar Pradesh Police and Maharashtra Police.
 
The UP-Anti Terrorist Squad (UP-ATS) has also raided two other unidentified persons in Agra and Kanpur in the north India state and seized their laptops, an official statement of the Uttar Pradesh Police said on Monday.
 
Following a tip-off, he was placed under surveillance for the past few days by the Military Intelligence as well as Uttar Pradesh Police and Maharashtra Police.
 
The BAPL officer has been booked under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), the sources said.
 
The UP Police statement said the UP-ATS had monitored fake Facebook accounts originating from Pakistan in the name of women to "honey-trap" key officials working in sensitive defence-related set-ups in India.
 
The information came to light after the Border Security Force (BSF) recently nabbed a person in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, and two fake Facebook IDs of women created in Pakistan were put under observation after they were found to be chatting with Agrawal.
 
Accordingly, the UP-ATS acquired a search warrant from a court and along with Maharashtra ATS, swooped on Agrawal's residence at Ujjwal Nagar in Nagpur.
 
"We have found certain secret and ultra-sensitive information on his personal computer. It should not been there on his personal laptop. It violates the provisions of the OSA, and hence he has been arrested," the statement added.
 
The joint ATS teams of the two states also searched his BMAL office and from another location recovered an old laptop which is being examined to see if it contains anything objectionable.
 
The UP-ATS has moved a local court in Nagpur seeking a transit remand to take Agrawal to Lucknow for further investigations.
 
They said that after the investigations, they would be able to know what kind of chats he was having with the fake women's accounts on Facebook.
 
Depending on the outcome, the accused may be slapped with additional charges, the UP-ATS said.
 
As per preliminary information, Agrawal was reportedly passing on certain highly classified information, including "technological and other details", to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan as well as the USA.
 
However, official circles are not aware of what kind of access to sensitive information or the security clearance levels Agrawal enjoyed in the company.
 
Hailing from Roorkee in Uttarakhand, Agarwal had been recently awarded the "Young Scientist Award" for the year 2017-18. 
 
He had got married earlier this year and had been living in a rented house in Nagpur's Ujjwala Nagar.
 
Among other things, the BrahMos centre is involved in manufacturing certain critical components for the BrahMos missile, considered the world's fastest cruise missile that can be launched from land, ships, aircraft or submarines.
 
The Indo-Russian joint venture's recent development of the latest version of the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile has elicited keen interest in global defence circles and several major political powers in the world.
 
The missile -- successfully test-fired on July 16 from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore in Odisha -- is an outcome of a joint venture of India's Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia Corp (NPOM), since 2011.
 
IANS

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Railways MoU with Maha Metro for MRTS in Nagpur

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Indian Railways and Maha Metro (Metro Railway Project Company of Maharashtra) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) here on Monday for linking the railway line to the Metro service on broad gauge network and creating a Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) in Nagpur city.
 
The MoU signing ceremony at Suresh Bhat Auditorium was witnessed by Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Water Resources Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.  
 
Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani and Secretary, Urban Development Durga Shanker Mishra were also present.
 
Mr Goyal said the Ministry was also trying to execute a plan for setting up a railway line across the national highways. One such proposal was to connect Nagpur-Mumbai Super Express Way (Samriddhi Mahamarg) to the Nagpur-Mumbai railway.
 
The construction of such a high-speed railway corridor will make it feasible to cover the distance between Nagpur and Mumbai in five hours, he said.
 
The Railways have also allocated a record sum of Rs 67,000 crore for the development of suburban railway network in Mumbai which is used by one-third of total railway passengers in India, he said.
 
The foundation stone laying ceremony of Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s ‘waste to energy project’ was also performed on this occasion. Another foundation stone laying ceremony that took place was of the project of Mahagenco to carry coal from a cluster of mines of Western Coalfield Limited through a pipe conveyor system.
 
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Mr Gadkari, speaking about rising pollution in metro cities, advocated running public transport on electricity. He urged the people to use public transport instead of private transport. The speed of air-conditioned metro coaches running on broad gauge line of Railway will be 100 kmph, which is much more than ordinary passenger trains. The MoU will pave the way for towns like Bhandara, Wardha, distant from Nagpur, to come closer and develop into satellite cities.
 
Mr Fadnavis said these three projects will be hailed as innovative steps and will be followed by the nation. He said water acquired from mines and power plants is being used to irrigate over 10,000 hectares of land in Maharashtra. A MoU between VIDC (Vidarbha Irrigation Industrial Corporation) and WCL has been signed for mine water distribution.
 
On the occasion,  a booklet titled "New Railways New Maharashtra" on Railway's development in Maharashtra was also unveiled in this function.
 
The programme was attended by local public representatives, officials of Maha Metro, NMC, Mahagenco, Indian Railways, officials of district administration and the general public in large numbers.
 
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Heavy rains inundate Nagpur, legislature in darkness

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Following a torrential downpour on Friday, the state's second capital was virtually inundated and the Maharashtra Legislature, which was in session, was plunged into darkness, forcing an adjournment till Monday.
 
Power supply was cut off to the legislature building as a precautionary measure after the transformer room was inundated in water, and most parts of the city also remained without electricity as around three feet water accumulated in many areas of the Orange City.
 
This is the first time in the state's legislative history that a power blackout was witnessed in an ongoing session, especially since the monsoon session was held in Nagpur for only the third time since 1961 and last in 1971 after the state's formation in 1960.
 
Traditionally, the monsoon session is held in Mumbai but his year the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party shifted it to Nagpur as the MLA Hostel in Nariman Point is going to be redeveloped.
 
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who hails from Nagpur, came under fire from both the opposition and ruling ally Shiv Sena for the developments which have necessitated a holiday in all educational institutions on Saturday.
 
"This is the first time in the state history that a legislative session is adjourned due to lack of electricity," said Leader of Opposition in the Council, Dhananjay Munde.
 
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader said this displayed the government's complete lack of planning and is the result of its "immature insistence" on having the session in Nagpur this time without making the basic arrangements and despite opposition from many quarters.
 
The proceedings had started as usual at 10 a.m. though in darkness, with some opposition legislators holding up mobile torches and a few even lighting candles in their offices with many legislators wading in ankle-deep water in the legislature building complex.
 
Shiv Sena attacked the BJP-ruled Nagpur Municipal Corporation with senior legislator Pratap Sarnaik saying that in Mumbai, the legislature session was never adjourned due to a blackout.
 
"Everybody targets the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (ruled by Shiv Sena) which is doing a good job. Now, who will the government criticize?" Sarnaik asked sarcastically.
 
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However, defending the move, Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule claimed that power supply to the legislature building was not hit, but the authorities had voluntarily switched off electricity as water gushed into the generator room.
 
Elsewhere, in many low-lying areas, people were seen struggling in three to four feet of water, while many vehicles were stranded on the roads even as incessant rains continued most of the day.
 
At the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Nagpur International Airport, there were at least 16 flight delays - nine departures and seven arrivals of various airlines this evening.
 
Leading consumer activist and National President of Grahak Sewa Bharti, Vandana Shrikant Tiwari demanded a CBI probe into the functioning of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. which has snapped off power supply to most parts of city due to waterlogging.
 
"Owing to the blatant corruption in the MSEDCL's work of laying underground cables without adhering to prescribed international norms, Nagpur is experiencing such a dire situation for the first time and millions of citizens are hit," Tiwari told IANS.
 
Besides Nagpur, heavy rains have been witnessed in the entire Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra since the past two days, severely dislocating normal life and transport.
 
IANS
 
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Livestock export from Nagpur airport to begin this month

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Livestock export from Nagpur airport will begin from June 30 when the first lot of sheep and goat will be sent to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and around 1 lakh livestock will be exported over a period of three months from the Nagpur airport.
 
An official press release said the project is taking off due to the joint efforts of Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN), Air India, Agriculture Ministry and Commerce Ministry. 
 
"The export of livestock will benefit farmers of the Vidarbha region which is witnessing farmer’s suicides and in order to explore new avenues to improve farmer’s income, this project has been undertaken," it said.
 
According to the release, shepherds and farmers of the region will greatly benefit from this trade. "It would lead to more of them taking up sheep and goat rearing as a side business. When there is drought or when the farmer is in need of money he will be able to sell the sheep and goat. Women too can take this up as a business and make it a source of earning," it said.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari and Union Minister of Industry & Commerce Suresh Prabhu will be present when the first batch of livestock is sent from Nagpur, the release added.
 
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Plain-speaking Pranab reminds RSS of India's 'soul of pluralism'

Speaking at its headquarters, former President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday did some plain-speaking on nationalism and patriotism to RSS cadre telling them that India's multiple faiths and cultures made it tolerant and that the soul of the nation resided in its pluralism and secularism.
 
Mukherjee speaks on nationalism, patriotism at RSS event
 
 
Speaking at its headquarters, former President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday did some plain-speaking on nationalism and patriotism to RSS cadre telling them that India's multiple faiths and cultures made it tolerant and that the soul of the nation resided in its pluralism and secularism.
 
Calling for a dialogue to balance competing interests and reconcile them, he made it clear that hatred dilutes nationalism and intolerance will dilute national identity. "Divergent stands in public discourse have to be recognised." 
 
Sharing "some truths that I have internalized during my 50-year-long public life" as a parliamentarian and administrator, he said the soul of India resided in "pluralism and tolerance".
 
"This plurality of our society has come through assimilation of ideas over centuries. Secularism and inclusion are a matter of faith for us. It is our composite culture which makes us into one nation," he said addressing the third-year annual training camp at the RSS headquarters here even as his acceptance of the invitation to the event came in for strong criticism from Congress leaders and Left parties.
 
Invoking the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, Mukherhjee said India's nationhood was not one language, one religion or one enemy.
 
"It's the perennial one universalism of 1.3 billion people who use more than 122 languages, 1,600 dialects in their every day lives, practice seven major religions, belong to three major ethnic groups... live under one system, one flag and one identity of being 'Bharatiya' and have no enemies. That is what makes India a diverse and united nation," he said, speaking in English and peppering his speech with some words and phrases from his mother tongue Bengali. 
 
He said intolerance diluted nationalism and hate was destroying people. "Only a non-violent society can ensure participation of all sections of people in the democratic process, especially marginalized and dispossesed. We must move from violence, anger and conflict to peace, harmony and happiness. Our motherland is asking for that. Our motherland deserves that," Mukherjee said in his 30-minute address.
 
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The former President surprised the political world when he accepted RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's invitation to attend the organisation's event at its headquarters. While the Congress officially maintained silence, its leaders including Anand Sharma, Ahmed Patel and his own daughter Sharmistha were critical of it. 
 
As television channels beamed images of Mukherjee watching a drill by RSS cadres in the company of Bhagwat, Sharma tweeted that the image of Mukherjee at the RSS headquarters has anguished millions of Congress workers in the country.
 
Earlier, Mukherjee, who had strongly denounced the saffron founthead during his entire political career, visited the memorial of RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar and wrote in the visitors' book: "Came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of India K.B. Hedgewarji."
 
On patriotism, the former Congress leader said: "From our Constitution flows our nationalism. The construct of Indian nationalism is Constitutional patriotism which consists of an appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity, readiness to enact one citizenship at different levels and an ability to self correct and learn from others."
 
At the outset, he said he wanted to share with RSS cadres his understanding of the concepts of nation, nationalism and patriotism in the context of India -- that is Bharat. "These three concepts are so closely intertwined that it's difficult to discuss any one of them in isolation."
 
IANS
 
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Pranab hails RSS founder Hedgewar as 'great son of India'

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Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday hailed Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), as "a great son of Mother India".
 
"Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India," Mukherjee wrote in the visitors' book as he visited Hedgewar's birthplace here.
 
Mukehrjee, a Congress party veteran, is in Nagpur to address the RSS cadre at the organisation's final leg of three-year training programme called the ‘Tritiya Varsh Varg'.
 
His visit has raised many an eyebrow, including in his own party. 
 
The RSS was banned on February 4, 1948 following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The ban was lifted on July 11, 1949 after then Sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar gave an undertaking that the organisation would abide by the Indian Constitution. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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In a first, Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway to be twinned with rail line

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Indian Railways have joined hands with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to twin a rail line along the proposed expressway between Mumbai and Nagpur -- a first such coordinated move to execute a transportation project.
 
Both arms of the government will work together to put the project on the fast track with the aim of drastically cutting travel time on the busy route.
 
"Spanish consultant Ineco has conducted a feasibility study on constructing a high-speed rail line along the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway and the reports are positive," a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS.
 
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, which is already acquiring land for the proposed expressway, will keep the rail project in mind, he added.
 
The elevated rail line could be built in the middle or along the proposed 800 km expressway depending on the ground situation, according to a feasibility report.
 
The official said that twin tunnels and bridges can also be constructed to cross rivers and negotiate hilly areas in a coordinated way for road and rail traffic.
 
While the feasibility report is being examined by the Railways officials concerned, the Spanish team is set to make a detailed presentation, including on the financial aspect, to the public transporter shortly to take the ambitious project further.
 
According to the study, travel time will be drastically reduced for both road and train travellers as the expressway will be fully access-controlled while the elevated rail track will ensure an uninterrupted high-speed train journey.
 
Land acquisition is a serious problem and many rail projects, including the ambitious Dedicated Freight Corridor, have been delayed due to land-related issues. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor is also facing the same problem.
 
Incidentally, the improved road network in the country has taken a toll on the Railways' business on shorter routes and the national transporter is making a concerted effort to wean away goods and passenger traffic from roads and increase its share.
 
"It's a new way of executing the project faster, as the combined efforts to acquire land will ease a major burden for both ministries and pave the way for speedy execution," the oficial said.
 
The Mumbai-Nagpur section is part of the proposed high speed rail corridor between Howrah and Mumbai, the diamond quadrilateral rail project.
 
(Arun Kumar Das is a senior Delhi-based freelance journalist.)
 
IANS
 

Maharashtra LS bypolls: BJP leads one, trails in another

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The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra was leading in Palghar but trailing in the Bhandara-Gondiya constituency as counting progressed in the May 28 Lok Sabha bye-elections on Thursday.
 
In the available vote-count figures at 1 p.m., BJP candidate in Palghar, Rajendra Gavit, notched up over 263,000 votes while his nearest Shiv Sena rival Shriniwas Vanga was trailing at around 237,000 votes.
 
They were followed by the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi's Baliram Jadhav at 208,000 votes and Congress's Damodar Shingada was at a distant fourth position with 47,000 votes.
 
In Bhandara-Gondiya constituency, BJP candidate Hemant Patle, who was leading in the earlier rounds of counting, suddenly fell behind at 94,000 votes while Nationalist Congress Party's Madhukar Kukde, remained ahead with a tally of over 103,000 votes.
 
Elections in both the constituencies were marred by large-scale incidents of malfunctioning EVM-VVPATs with all the Opposition parties and ruling ally Shiv Sena hurling allegations of foul play and tampering of the machines.
 
The high-stakes elections in both the seats, came in the wake of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' vow, to win the elections "come what may" -- and his subsequent controversial remarks of using "Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed" to bag the polls at all costs.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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Accident averted after wheel on Gorakhpur-Yashwantpur Express breaks

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In a freak incident, a wheel of the speeding Gorakhpur-Yashwantpur Express broke into two pieces near here on Tuesday morning but alert railway staff averted any tragedy, officials said.
 
The incident came to light after some unusual sounds emanated from the wheels and the driver stopped the train, but by then, it had already run a few kilometres before coming to a safe halt, said Central Railway spokesperson Sunil Udasi.
 
There are no casualties in the incident, he said, adding that the alert rail staff have been felicitated for their work.
 
"The affected coach was disconnected, the passengers deboarded and accommodated in an alternative coach before the train departed for its onward journey," 
 
Top officials described the incident as "unheard of" in Indian Railways.
 
"This is the rarest cases of wheel defect. It's a matter of detailed investigation and laboratory test of materials has been ordered," said Railway Board's Director, Media, Ved Prakash.
 
Experts will now probe whether the wheel broke due to excessive use or due to some defective materials used in its making.
 
Presently, the wheels used in the modern Linke Hofmann Busch coaches are imported from Europe and tested rigorously before used in passenger trains.
 
While ruling out the possibility of more such incidents, the railway officials said random samples could be picked up from anywhere for further scrutiny.
 
Wheels are checked on various railway tracks across India under varying conditions and the entire process can take three years.
 
After the testing period, the wheels are used on regular basis before they need to be replaced after 100,000 km running.
 
IANS
 
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RSS invite to Mukherjee for Nagpur event sparks controversy

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee.
File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee.
The RSS invite to former President Pranab Mukherjee for an event at its Nagpur headquarters sparked off a controversy, as the Congress and Left leaders expressed unhappiness over his acceptance while the BJP and RSS saw nothing wrong in it.
 
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said in a statement that Mukherjee's acceptance of the invite for the June 7 function was not "surprising".
 
Its leader Narender Kumar said that Mukherjee will be the chief guest at the concluding function of "Tritiya Varsh Varg" or third-year course and address the 'swayamsevaks'. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will be the main speaker. 
 
"Those who know the sangh and understand it, it is not surprising for them or nothing new. It is normal for them because the RSS has been inviting prominent persons and those engaged in social service. This time, the RSS invited Dr Pranab Mukherjee and it is his greatness to have accepted the invitation," an RSS statement said. 
 
The organisation said that the 25-day "Tritiya Varsh Varg" is held every year at Nagpur in which members from all over the country take part for training. 
 
The statement said that even Mahatma Gandhi visited the RSS camp at Wardha and later stated that he was impressed by the "strict discipline, simplicity and lack of discrimination" in the organisation.
 
Former President Zakir Husain, socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan and General (later Field Marshal) K. M. Carriappa were other personalities who attended RSS events.
 
Union Minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari said that there should be an exchange of views and political untouchability was outdated. 
 
"We should meet each other, talk to each other, respect views. The notion of political untouchability is outdated. Those who practise this say others are communal but they are themselves communal," Gadkari said. 
 
Congress Spokesperson Tom Vadakkan did not comment on Mukherjee's acceptance of the RSS invite. 
 
"At this point, I have no comments to offer. Let the event take place first, only after that it will be appropriate to give comments. If you know everything about the history and the specialisation of the RSS and BJP, then I would not like to comment any more on that," he said. 
 
But party leader and former MP Sandeep Dikshit asked if Mukherjee had changed his views on the RSS or the organisation had accepted the views of the former President. 
 
Dikshit said that Mukherjee, who had served the Congress for decades before being appointed President in 2012, had told them that "there is no organisation as cheap, dirty, crafty, untruthful and unpatriotic as the RSS".
 
He said Mukherjee had said that the RSS should not exist in the country even for a minute.
 
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"Such a person who considers the RSS poisonous, dirty, even worse than snake... such a person is being called by the RSS. On what issue are they calling? Has Pranab Mukherjee changed his views or there is no self-respect left in the RSS," Dikshit said. 
 
Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said that it was for Mukherjee to decide on the invite. 
 
"He is not a child. He is a former President. He was one of the top leaders of the Congress. He has been holding many important positions in the government. He is one of the elderly statesmen in the country today. Whether he has accepted, whether he will go I don't know. It is for him to decide."
 
"If you ask me, I will say I will not go. Why should I go? I know the RSS agenda. If I were in his place, I will not go," he said. 
 
Rakesh Sinha, who teaches at Delhi University and is Honorary Director of the India Policy Foundation, said Mukherjee's acceptance of the invitation was a message to the nation that on vital issues there should be dialogue and adversaries are not enemies.
 
"Moreover, the question raised on RSS Hindutva is philosophy of Hinduism by contemporary political forces is being answered by Mukherjee's acceptance of invitation," he said. 
 
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Jha said Mukherjee will tell the RSS to "have a delete button in their divisive politics".
 
"I am sure Pranab Mukherjee ji will tell them what liberal India is," he said. 
 
However, senior party leader Tejashwi Yadav said it was Mukherjee's decision and he would not like to comment. 
 
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said that the Congress leaders should follow in the footsteps of Mukherjee.
 
"I think more senior Congressmen should do this because we need a national outlook and that can be done only when outside the political spectrum... they should assemble and educate the people on the virtues of nationalism," he said. 
 
Samajwadi Party Spokesperson Ghanshayam Tewari said too much politics should not be read into the issue.
 
"It only goes on to prove that once you are President of India, any organisation could seek your guidance," he said. 
 
IANS
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IIM Nagpur ties up with NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore for ‘Women Start-up Programme’

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The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Nagpur has partnered with the N. S. Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) at IIM Bangalore for the "Women Start-up Programme" this year.
 
The programme, funded by Goldman Sachs and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, is targeted at aspiring women entrepreneurs, a press release from IIM Nagpur said. 
 
The programme aims to convert entrepreneurial business ideas by women into business ventures and will provide training in managerial and entrepreneurial skills for the participants. At the end of the training, the programme will provide mentoring and advice, and incubation with modest financial support for selected business plans. 
 
For the year 2018-19, the programme intends to incubate 100 women entrepreneurs across the breadth of the country, the release said.
 
The programme was conducted by IIM Bangalore in 2016-17 and 15 women entrepreneurs were incubated at the NSRCEL. Participation by IIM Nagpur and other partners is expected to spread the programme across the different cities in the country.
 
"There is a strong need for such a programme, given the entrepreneurial landscape in our country. As of 2013, India had the lowest share of entrepreneurs in working population among the emerging BRICS economies," the release said.
 
"This share among female population in India was alarmingly low and reduced from 9% in 2006 to 6% in 2013. According to a NASSCOM report in November 2017, women entrepreneurs contributed to only 11% of Indian start-ups, and SAHA fund’s statistics indicate that only 3% of women entrepreneurs have received VC funding . All these observations suggest that the right time to work towards creating and unleashing the potential of women entrepreneurship in India was ‘yesterday’. To unleash the potential of female entrepreneurship, the need for human capital has been widely recognized. 
 
"It is in this context that this programme aims to build on human capital required for female entrepreneurs. While Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai have remained the principal start-up hubs in India, 20% of the startups in India in the year 2017 emerged in tier II and III cities 3 . Nagpur is a critical investment hub in the country and has been identified as one of the high-potential cities in India beyond the metros," the release added.
 
The programme will help in creating unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of aspiring women entrepreneurs in Nagpur. Speaking at the launch of the ‘Women Startup Programme’, the Chairperson for this initiative at IIM Nagpur, Prof. Thiagu Ranganathan said, "We feel very fortunate and are thrilled to partner in this programme and hope to collaborate in making the programme reach out its full potential."
 
The registration for the programme is free. The registered participants will participate in a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) starting from 22 nd January which will be followed by two bootcamps and incubation for shortlisted participants.
 
More information about the programme, including registration details, can be seen here.
 
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