Modi performs ‘Swachhta Shramdaan’ in Varanasi, visits ‘Pashudhan Arogya Mela’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday performed ‘shramdaan’ for the construction of a twin pit toilet at Shahanshahpur village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the national cleanliness campaign.

Governance is not about vote banks: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today performed ‘shramdaan’ for the construction of a twin pit toilet at Shahanshahpur village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the national cleanliness campaign.
Mr. Modi, who was on a two-day visit to his Lok Sabha constituency, interacted with the people, who have resolved to make the village open-defecation-free (ODF). He appreciated their initiative of naming the toilet "Izzat Ghar."
Mr Modi also visited a ‘Pashudhan Arogya Mela’ organised at the village. He was briefed on various health and medical activities being performed at the premises. These included surgeries on cattle, ultrasonography, and so on.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion, the Prime Minister congratulated Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the State Government for the successful setting up of the Pashudhan Arogya Mela. This is a new effort which would benefit the animal husbandry sector in the State, he said.
The increase in milk productivity will lead to economic benefit for the people. Cooperatives can help consolidate the gains in the dairy sector, as has been the case in other parts of the country.
Describing the well-being of people as the priority for governance, the Prime Minister reiterated the pledge to double farm incomes by 2022. He noted that soil health cards are benefiting farmers significantly. “Each one of us should resolve to make a positive contribution by 2022, to achieve the India that our freedom fighters dreamt of,” he added.
Mr. Modi said the feeling of "cleanliness being our responsibility" needs to be inculcated among all. He said this would go a long way towards ensuring wellness, and protecting the health of the poor. He said Swachhta is like a prayer for him and cleanliness a way to serve the poor.
On the first day of his Varanasi visit yesterday, Mr Modi visited the historic Tulsi Manas temple in the evening. He released a postal stamp on “Ramayana,” on this occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said stamps have a special place in society. “They are a wonderful way to preserve our history,” he added. The Prime Minister also spoke of how the life and ideals of Lord Rama continue to inspire everyone. He later visited the Durga Mata Temple and Durga Kund.

Modi files papers from Varanasi; vows to clean up Ganga, serve weavers

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday filed his nomination papers for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and vowed to turn it into the spiritual capital of the world, clean up the mighty Ganga river and put its famed weavers back on the road to prosperity.

Modi files his nomination papers from Varanasi
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi today filed his nomination papers for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections from  Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and vowed to turn it into the spiritual capital of the world, clean up the mighty Ganga river and put its famed weavers back on the road to prosperity.
"Mother Ganga has called me to Varanasi. I don't think anyone has sent me here nor have I come here. Like a child returning to his mother's arms, I have come here to Ganga," he told mediapersons outside the district collectorate before filing his papers.
Mr Modi's main rivals in Varanasi are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and local Congress leader Ajay Rai.
Well-known classical vocalist Channulal Mishra, retired Allahabad High Court judge Giridhar Malaviya, a boatman Virbhadra Nishad and Ashok, a weaver, were among those who signed Mr Modi's nomination papers as proposers.
Senior BJP leaders Amit Shah, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were amongst those present on the occasion.
Mr Modi is also contesting for a seat in the Lok Sabha from Vadodara in Gujarat, where his main rival is senior Congress leader Madhusudhan Mistry. 
Vadodara will go to the polls on April 30, while Varanasi will vote on May 12 in the final round of the nine-phase elections.
“The Modi wave in the country has turned into a tsunami after Mr Modi filed  his papers from here today and it will wipe out all other parties such as the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress in Uttar Pradesh,” Mr Shah, one of Mr Modi’s closest confidants, told reporters later.
Earlier, Mr Modi, 63, arrived in Varanasi this morning to a resounding welcome by thousands of his party's supporters who lined up both sides of the streets on his route to the collectorate. On the way, he paid tributes at the statues of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the renowned educationist, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister. Incidentally, Mr Giridhar Malaviya is a grandson of Madan Mohan Malaviya.
Mr Modi, who has been the Chief Minister of Gujarat since late 2001, told reporters that he had been able to change the fortunes of kite makers, who are mainly Muslims, in his state by modernising the industry and introducing new technology and marketing tools and was confident he would be able to achieve similar changes for the weaver community of Varanasi, again made up largely of Muslims.
He also spoke about his success in cleaning up the Sabarmati river that flows through Ahmedabad, the main city of Gujarat, and building a modern waterfront there, and hoped to develop the Ganga in Varanasi in similar fashion.
"Varanasi is the cradle of India’s glorious culture, a confluence of tradition, history, culture and harmony. This is the blessed land of the Sankat Mochan temple. The spiritual power of this land is exceptional. It drew people from all over the world, who came to this land in search of peace and Moksha. It was in Sarnath, that Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining Enlightenment. Varanasi is the birthplace of the venerable Sant Ravidas. It was in Benaras that Mahatma Kabir was born, lived and shared his wisdom. Mirza Ghalib described Benaras as ‘Kaba-E-Hindustan’ and ‘Chirag-E-Dair’ or the light of the world.  When Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya had to select a place to set up a centre of learning, it was not a surprise that he chose Benaras. No mention of Varanasi is complete without remembering (shehnai player) Ustad Bismillah Khan, arguably the greatest symbol of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. Ustad Bismillah Khan Sahab’s love for Varanasi is legendary," Mr Modi said in his blog today before he reached Varanasi.
"We envision Varanasi as a World Heritage Site that is able to draw both devotees and those who wish to understand and absorb India’s culture. This means creating state-of-the-art tourist and infrastructure facilities for Varanasi. And it is my firm belief that once we are able to give the required impetus to tourism, it will not only bring more tourists but also enhance the livelihood of the poorest of the poor. More tourists means more income for those associated with temples, those who are living on the Ghats, those who ride the ferries on the Ganga…the entire town and surrounding areas will receive a much needed facelift," he said.
"Ganga is the lifeline of Varanasi and is at the core of our identity- She is our Mother. Unfortunately, governments have not been able to devote the attention that should have been given to Ganga. The condition of the Ganga in several parts of UP is pitiable. We can’t let this go on anymore! Need of the hour is to work towards cleaning the Ganga and restoring it to its previous glory. In 1986 the Government of the day brought the Ganga Action Plan but it merely remained a plan, the action was missing. Budgets were allocated but the money was never used for the intended purpose. The condition of the Varuna too is similar. Now is the time for urgent action to solve this anomaly!
"And when I talk about my commitment to clean the Ganga, it is not a mere promise. When I took over as CM in 2001 the condition of Sabarmati was similar. It was better known for hosting circuses and children playing cricket. Switch to 2014 and things are very different! We have brought water from the Narmada and now water flows through the Sabarmati. A world class Sabarmati River Front was created, which has emerged as a popular recreation and cultural spot in Ahmedabad. With the blessings of Baba Bholenath, this is what we intend to replicate in Varanasi.
"It is not only the Ganga that has become the victim of sheer negligence. We are firm in our commitment to address the issues of cleanliness in Varanasi so that we can give the citizens of Varanasi a clean and green city. We will focus on solid waste management right from collecting the waste to treating it. Similarly, the poor waste disposal practices over the years have not served the people of Varanasi well. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that such occurrences are history within a very short period of time. Within a fixed timeframe, the problems of solid waste management, sewer and chemical waste will be successfully mitigated," he said.
Mr Modi said the weavers of Varanasi had suffered due to apathy of the governments in Delhi and Lucknow.
"It is my firm resolve to infuse this sector with latest technology and qualitative value addition so that the weavers of Varanasi become our pride at the world level. From ensuring that they get quality raw material to better marketing of their products, it is my resolve to ensure that they stand on their own feet with pride and their future generations have a bright future," he added.

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SpiceJet puts Jaisalmer on country’s aviation map, to introduce more flights to Rajasthan

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today said it would it would introduce a flight between Jaipur and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan as part of its plans to launch a slew of flights to connect key tourist and business destinations in the state from October 29.
The Jaipur-Jaisalmer service would be SpiceJet's fourth daily flight under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik), a regional connectivity scheme, a press release from the airline said.
"SpiceJet will be the only airline to offer daily direct flight connectivity on this route which has a heavy demand from both business and leisure travellers," it said.
On the same day, SpiceJet will also launch a new direct flight between Jaisalmer and Delhi, making it the first and only airline in the country to provide direct air connectivity between the two cities.
The day will also mark the launch of SpiceJet’s new Jaipur-Varanasi flight – a sector that no other airline in the country operates.
SpiceJet will also recommence operations on the Delhi – Jodhpur and Mumbai – Udaipur sectors the same day. With the addition of Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, SpiceJet will be operating to 45 domestic destinations, the release said.
SpiceJet already connects Jaipur with Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jammu and Surat with direct flights and connects Goa and Mumbai via Ahmedabad and Surat respectively and a host of other Indian cities on the domestic network. Internationally, SpiceJet connects Jaipur with a daily flight to Dubai and convenient via connections to Muscat, Colombo and Bangkok.
SpiceJet’s Bombardier Q400 aircraft - SG 2981 will ceremoniously be flagged off on October 29 from Jaipur at 11:00 am for its first flight to Jaisalmer. On its return journey the flight SG 2982 will depart at 4:55 p.m. and reach Jaipur by 6:15 p.m.
The announcement about the flights was made in the presence of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said, "SpiceJet is proud to connect Rajasthan like never before. Today is a very special day for us as we announce the launch of multiple new flights to Rajasthan, India’s most vibrant and colourful state, which will greatly aid both leisure and business travellers. We are proud of the fact that SpiceJet will be the first and only airline to offer direct air connectivity between Jaipur-Jaisalmer; Jaisalmer-Delhi and Jaipur-Varanasi and we hope to continue to serve the people of Rajasthan with the same vigour in future.”
SpiceJet is India’s largest regional player operating a fleet of 20 Bombardier Q400s in addition to 35 Boeing 737s. SpiceJet is already operating on three UDAN sectors which include Mumbai-Porbandar-Mumbai, Mumbai-Kandla-Mumbai and Hyderabad-Puducherry-Hyderabad.

Modi launches handicrafts trade facilitation centre in Varanasi, flags off train to Vadodara

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday dedicated to the nation the Deendayal Hastkala Sankul – a trade facilitation centre for handicrafts – at Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the Deendayal Hastkala Sankul, a trade facilitation centre for handicrafts, in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on September 22, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the Deendayal Hastkala Sankul, a trade facilitation centre for handicrafts, in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on September 22, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated to the nation the Deendayal Hastkala Sankul – a trade facilitation centre for handicrafts – at Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
On the first day of a two-day visit to this city, he also flagged off the Mahamana Express, which will connect Varanasi with Surat and Vadodara in Gujarat, his home state, through a video link.
Mr. Modi had laid the foundation stone of the handicrafts centre in November 2014. Today, when he visited the centre, he was given an overview of the facilities developed there.
He also unveiled plaques to mark the laying of the foundation stone and dedication of various development works in the city. He inaugurated banking services of Utkarsh Bank, and unveiled a plaque to mark the laying of foundation stone of its headquarters building.
The Prime Minister dedicated a Jal Ambulance service, and a Jal Shav Vahan service to the people of Varanasi, through a video link. He distributed tool-kits and solar lamps to weavers and their children.
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that in one programme from one dais, projects worth over Rs. 1000 crore had been either dedicated, or their foundation stone laid.
He described the Trade Facilitation Centre as one of the biggest projects for Varanasi for a long time. He said the centre would help artisans and weavers showcase their skills to the world, and facilitate a brighter future for them. He asked the people to encourage all tourists to visit this centre. He said this would result in increased demand of handicrafts, and also boost the tourism potential of Varanasi, and indeed the economy of the city.
Mr. Modi said the solution to all problems lay through development. He said the Government is focused on bringing about positive change in the lives of the poor and of succeeding generations. In this context, he praised the efforts of Utkarsh Bank.
Referring to the Jal Ambulance and Jal Shav Vahini launched today, the Prime Minister said that these represent the drive for development even through water-ways.
In the context of the Mahamana Express, the Prime Minister observed that Vadodara and Varanasi, which happen to be the two constituencies from which he contested the 2014 Parliamentary elections, are now connected via railway. (Mr. Modi had won from both, but retained the Varanasi seat and resigned from the Vadodara constituency.)
He  said the country is progressing rapidly today, and firm decisions are being taken in the interest of the nation. He said eastern India must match the progress of the western part of the country, and the projects being launched today would go a long way in achieving this objective.

Modi to pay two-day visit to Varanasi, launch several development projects

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a two-day visit to Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, on September 22-23, during which he will launch several development projects.
An official press release said Mr. Modi would dedicate to the nation the Deendayal Hastkala Sankul – a trade facilitation centre for handicrafts – at Bada Lalpur. He will briefly visit the facilities at the centre.
He will later flag off the Mahamana Express through a video link. This train will connect Varanasi with Surat and Vadodara in Gujarat. 
At the same venue, the Prime Minister will also unveil plaques to mark the laying of foundation stone or dedication of various development works in the city. He will inaugurate banking services of the Utkarsh Bank, and will also unveil a plaque to mark the laying of foundation stone of the headquarters building of the bank. The Utkarsh Bank specializes in micro-finance. 
Mr. Modi will also dedicate a Jal Ambulance service, and a Jal Shav Vahan service for the people of Varanasi, through a video link. 
In the evening tomorrow, the Prime Minister will visit the historic Tulsi Manas Temple in Varanasi. He will release a postage stamp on “Ramayana.” He will later visit the Durga Mata Temple in the city. 
On Saturday, the Prime Minister will briefly participate in a sanitation related activity in the village of Shahanshahpur. He will then visit a Pashudhan Arogya Mela. He will distribute certificates to beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Rural & Urban), and will address the gathering. 
The release said Mr. Modi would lay the foundation stone of a 50 MLD Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) based on Hybrid Annuity-PPP model in Ramana in Varanasi tomorrow.
This is the first time ever that Hybrid Annuity-PPP model is adopted in sewage sector. It is a major step forward in realising the dream of Nirmal Ganga under Namami Gange programme, the release said.
The work to construct, operate and maintain the 50 MLD STP has been awarded to a consortium led by Essel Infra Projects Limited at an estimated cost of Rs 153.16 crore.
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to implement the Hybrid Annuity based PPP model with 100% central sector funding. Under this model, the development, operation and maintenance of the STP will be undertaken by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) at the local level.
While 40% of the capital cost would be paid during construction, the remaining 60% of the cost will be paid over the life of the project as annuities along with operation and maintenance cost (O&M) expenses for the next 15 years.
One of the most important features of this model is that both the annuity and O&M payments are linked to the performance of the STP. This will ensure continued performance of the assets created due to better accountability, ownership and optimal performance, the release added.

CCEA approves doubling of Barabanki-Akbarpur railway line

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved a project for doubling the 161 km long Barabanki-Akbarpur railway line in Uttar Pradesh at a completion cost of Rs. 1,310.23 crore.
The project, which is likely to be completed by 2021-22, will cover the districts of Barabanki and Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and will benefit the entire route from Lucknow to Varanasi via Faizabad, an official press release said.
At present, there is a lot of delay in the running of trains on the route and express trains take up to 7 to 15 hours to cover the 323 km from Barabanki to Varanasi.
"Present capacity utilization from Barabanki to Faizabad is 146.5% and from Faizabad to Akbarpur it is 152.6%. The doubling project will ensure higher speeds, reduce train delays, enhance safety by allowing more time for block maintenance and provide additional capacity for future increase in traffic," the release said.

Clean Ganga contracts for three STPs on Hybrid Annuity Mode

In a big push to the Namami Gange programme, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has awarded first-time contracts for three sewage treatment plants (STPs) under hybrid annuity model.
An official press release said here yesterday that two STPs of 68 MLD and 14 MLD would be set up at Haridwar and one STP of 15 MLD at Varanasi.
This hybrid annuity model is the first of its kind in the country’s waste water management sector, it said.
The Central Government will completely fund the construction of the STPs,  ensuring that there is no shortage of resources for the project. The financial model will ensure the transparency and accountability of the running of sewage treatment infrastructure.
The contractors will not only establish the sewage treatment plant but will also operate and maintain it for a period of 15 years.
Thereafter it will be handed over to the local bodies. This will ensure that no waste water is dumped in the holy river. The payment of the operations and management of the projects and the worth of the cost will be provided to the agency over a period of 15 years ensuring that the project runs smoothly, the release added.

Cabinet approves establishment of IRRI South Asia Regional Centre at Varanasi

The Union Cabinet today approved the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) at the campus of National Seed Research and Training Centre (NSRTC) at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
Under the proposal, a Centre of Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA) will be set up in Varanasi, an official press release said.
This will include a modern and sophisticated laboratory with capacity to determine quality and status of heavy metals in grain and straw. The centre will also undertake capacity building exercises for stakeholders across the rice value chain. 
The release said the centre would be the first such international facility in eastern India and play a major role in harnessing and sustaining rice production in the region. It is expected to be a boon for food production and skill development in eastern India and similar ecologies in other South Asian and African countries. 
According to it, the centre will help in utilizing the rich biodiversity of India to develop special rice varieties. This will help India to achieve higher per hectare yields and improved nutritional contents. India's food and nutritional security issues will also be addressed. The centre will support in adopting value chain based production system in the country. This will reduce wastage, add value and generate higher income for the farmers. The farmers in Eastern India will benefit in particular, besides those in South Asian and African countries. 
ISARC will operate under the governance of the IRRI Board of Trustees who will appoint an appropriate IRRI staff member as Director. A Coordination Committee will be headed by Director General, IRRI as Chair and Secretary, Government of India, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DACFW) as Co-Chair. The other members of Coordination Committee are Deputy Director General (Crop Sciences), ICAR; Director, NSRTC; IRRI representative in India, representative of Government of UP and representatives of Governments of Nepal and Bangladesh and the private sector. 
For setting up of the centre, A Memorandum of Agreement, will be signed between DAC&FW and IRRI, Philippines. DAC&FW will provide physical space for laboratories, offices, training classes, and so on with associated infrastructure and land at NSRTC, Varanasi. The Centre will be commissioned within six months, the release added.

Prabhu flags off weekly train to Varanasi, daily service to Mysuru from Hubbali

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu flagged off two trains -- 17323/17324 Hubballi - Varanasi - Hubballi Express (Weekly) and 17325/17326 Hubballi - Mysuru - Hubballi Express (Daily) -- through video conferencing from here today.
Railway Board Chairman A. K. Mital, Member Traffic Mohammad Jamshed and other senior officials were present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Prabhu said Hubbali in Karnataka was coming up as an important training centre. He said the train to Mysuru, also in Karnataka, would be named as Vishwa Manav Express.
The Hubballi - Varanasi Express will serve pilgrims going to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
The Hubbali-Varanasi Express will have commercial stoppages at Gadag, Badami, Bagalkot, Almatti, Bijapur, Solapur Jn, Daund Jn, Ahmadnagar, Kopargaon, Manmad, Bhusaval, Khandwa, Itarsi, Pipariya, Narsinghpur, Jabalpur, Katni, Maihar, Satna, Manikpur Jn, Chheoki and Mirzapur.
The Hubbali-Mysuru Express will have commercial stoppages at Yalvigi, Haveri, Byadgi, Ranibennur, Harihar, Davangere, Chikjajur, Ajjampur, Birur Jn, Kadur Jn, Arsikere, Tiptur, Tumakuru, Yesvantpur, KSR Bengaluru City, Kengeri, Bidadi, Ramanagaram, Channapatna, Maddur, Mandya, Pandavapura and Shrirangapattana.

Third meeting of G-20 framework working group at Varanasi on March 28-29

The 3rd G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) Meeting under the G-20 German Presidency is being co-hosted by Department of Economic Affairs and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Varanasi on March 28 and 29, an official release said today.
The first two G 20 FWG meetings under the G-20 German Presidency have already been held at Berlin in December last year and at Riyadh in February this year.
Since the inception of the FWG in 2009, this is the fourth occasion that India is hosting this meeting. Previously, India had hosted the G-20 FWG Meetings in Neemrana, Rajasthan (2012 under Mexican Presidency), in Goa (in 2014 under G-20 Australian Presidency) and in Kerala (2015 under G-20 Turkish Presidency).
In the meeting in Varanasi, the G-20 FWG will discuss the current global economic situation as well as deliberate on the policy options that countries can pursue to counter the important development challenges. One important focus of this meeting will be to deliberate on the inclusive growth agenda of G-20 and to formulate a framework that will enable countries to help frame country specific inclusive growth policies.
The G-20 is the group of 19 countries and European Union (EU) deliberating on global economic issues and other important development challenges. G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) is one of the core working groups of G-20.
The mandate of FWG is to deliberate on the challenges facing the global economy and the policy options that countries can use to address these challenges. India along with Canada has been co-chairing this group.

24 dead, 25 injured in stampede on bridge over Ganga in Varanasi

24 dead, 25 injured in Varanasi stampede
At least 24 people died and 25 others suffered injuries in a stampede that occurred this afternoon on the Rajghat bridge between Varanasi and Chandauli, where thousands of people were heading in a procession for a religious event.
Official sources said the tragedy occurred at around 1.30 pm when thousands of followers of religious leader Jai Gurudev were walkingin a long procession towards Domri village on the banks of the Ganga river to participate in a two-day camp there.
The sources said those killed in the incident included 14 The injured were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Chandauli District Magistrate Kumar Prashant told NetIndian that five of the injured were in a serious condition. He indicated that the death toll could increase.
According to officials, the number of people who turned up for the event was much higher than the 3,000 for which the authorities had given permission and the unmanageable crowds led to huge traffic jamps at various points.
Senior officials of the district administration, the police and other emergency personnel rushed to the scene to oversee the rescue and relief efforts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, expressed grief over the loss of lives in the stampede and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2 lakh for the next-of-kin of those who died in the incident. He also sanctioned Rs. 50,000 each to those who suffered serious injuries from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the stampede in Varanasi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with those injured," Mr. Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
"I have spoken to officials and asked them to ensure all possible help to those affected due to the stampede in Varanasi," he added.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2 lakh to the next-of-kin of those who died and Rs. 50,000 each for those critically injured. He also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

NHAI awards contract for four-laning of Lucknow-Sultanpur section of NH-56 in UP

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued a Letter of Award (LOA) for four-laning of the 127 km Lucknow-Sultanpur section of National Highway (NH)-56 in Uttar Pradesh under the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) Phase IV.
The Rs. 2,845 crore contract has been awarded to Dilip Buildcon Ltd, an official press release said.
The project shall be executed on Hybrid Annuity mode and completed in 30 months from the date of commencement, it said.
The development of this section would reduce the travel time from Lucknow to Varanasi and promote tourism in the region.
The stretch transverses through the districts of Lucknow, Barabanki, Raebareli and Sultanpur. 
The project will include construction of one major bridge, 13 minor bridges, one railway overbridge, 259 culverts, 4 vehicular underpasses, six cattle/pedestrian underpasses, 43 bus bays, two truck lay byes and 32 km long bypasses at Jagdishpur, Mushafirkhana, Aliganj and Shabaganj/Badaunkalan, the release added.

Modi interacts with village pradhans from his Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged village pradhans (heads)to generate greater awareness among the people in their villages about Central Government schemes such as soil health cards, crop insurance and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
He was interacting with a group of village pradhans from his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh here.
This was the third such group he was meeting from Varanasi in as many days.
Yesterday, he urged the village pradhans who met him to undertake specific development initiatives during his or her tenure, which would result in a lasting legacy.
He told them to work towards educating every girl child, and promoting cleanliness in their respective villages.
He emphasized that there should be no discrimination between boys and girls. Swachhta, or cleanliness, is the key to prosperity, he added.

Sonia Gandhi holds road show in Varanasi, but cuts it short for health reasons

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday launched her party's campaign for next year's crucial elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly with a huge roadshow in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but cut it short for health reasons.

Sonia Gandhi holds road show in Varanasi
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today launched her party's campaign for next year's crucial elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly with a huge roadshow in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but cut it short for health reasons.
Sources in the Congress said Ms. Gandhi had felt a "little tired" and decided to return to Delhi on the advice of her doctors. Some media reports indicated that Ms. Gandhi had been suffering from fever but had not wanted to cancel the road show at the last minute.
Ms. Gandhi was treated at the Varanasi airport by doctors before she took the flight to Delhi. A doctor accompanied her on the flight. Her son and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Vadra receive her at Delhi airport, sources said.
"She will be completely fine and will see the Modi government's eradication to its end,” Congress leader Pramod Tiwari, MP and head of its coordination committee in UP, said.
Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad said Ms. Gandhi had suffered from dehydration, because of the heat, and also had some fever. "She is now stable," he told reporters outside Delhi Airport, where Ms. Gandhi was due to land late tonight.
Ms. Gandhi began the road show by garlanding the statue of B R Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, at the Circuit House and then set out on the planned eight kilometre journey to Englishiya Line.
Thousands of workers and supporters of the party lined the route of the road show in a massive show of strength as the party makes a determined bid for power in the state after being in the wilderness for 27 long years.
Ms. Gandhi travelled for much of the distance in a vehicle with an open sunroof and waved to the crowds as they cheered her along and raised slogans against the Modi government at the Centre. On a few occasions, she stepped out of the car briefly to acknowledge the greetings of groups of people, including women.
In some places, flowers were showered on Ms. Gandhi and her cavalcade from the buildings on either side of her route.
Senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, the party's chief ministerial candidate for the UP elections, Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, UP Congress chief Raj Babbar and other party leaders such as Sanjay Singh also participated in the road show.
The Congress has launched a campaign, "Dard-e-Banaras" to highlight lack of development in Varanasi, which Mr. Modi had won in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Later, Ms. Gandhi issued a message in which she regretted she had to cut short her visit to Varanasi due to her ill-health. She also regretted that she could not offer prayers, as planned, at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in the city.
She, however, promised the people of the city that she would return very soon to be among them and to visit the temple.
Ms. Gandhi said she was very happy to have visited the city today, something she had wished for a long time. 
She took a dig at people and parties which were campaigning for a "Congress-free India" and said they did not have any idea about the strength of the party.
"The Congress is not just a party or a group of individuals, it is an idea that runs deep among the people of the country. It is present in every state, every district, every city, every village, every house, it cannot ever be eliminated," she said.
Ms. Gandhi said the Congress could hold the country together and modern India could simply not be imagined without it.
She said the BJP Government at the Centre had failed to keep the many promises it had made to the people ahead of the 2014 elections. At the same time, she said the poor and vulnerable sections were being subjected to harassment and atrocities in many places. She said people had to also contend with rising prices, farmers were facing all kinds of probems and unemployment was on the rise.
Ms. Gandhi said the BJP Government was serving the interests of only a chosen few, especially industrialists. The poor, the backward classes and women had no voice.
"A large section of the country told feels helpless and alienated and is worried about their future," she said.
She said the people of Uttar Pradesh had also, during the past 27 years, seen state governments headed by various parties which only indulged in politics in the name of caste or religion. She said Uttar Pradesh had got left behind in the march towards development.
"What Uttar Pradesh needs today is a government tht will work for development, for the poor and the backward sections, for women and youth, and only the Congress can provide such a government," she said.
She said she was confident that the Congress could provide a government in Uttar Pradesh that would restore law and order in the state, put it back on the track of development and help meet the aspirations of its people.
In those elections, the Congress could win only two Lok Sabha seats from UP -- Rae Bareli, represented by Ms. Gandhi, and Amethi, held by Congress Vice-President and her son Rahul Gandhi, while Mr. Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Apna Dal bagged as many as 73 of the 80 seats from the state.

Seven schoolchildren dead as train hits van at Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh

8 children killed after train rams school van at unmanned crossing
Seven schoolchildren died when the van in which they were travelling to school dashed into the engine of the 55125 Manduadih-Allahabad City Passenger train at an unmanned level crossing at Bhadhohi in Sant Ravidas Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh this morning.
The mishap occurred at 7.35 am between Katka and Madhosingh stations in the Varanasi Division of North-Eastern Railway.
At least seven others suffered injuries in the incident and have been admitted to nearby hospitals for treatment, sources said.
The van belonged to the Tender Hearts English School and most of the children in it were below the age of 10, they said.
The Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Varanasi Division along with his branch officers and medical team rushed to the accident site, railway officials said.
The local ambulance was immediately informed and accident relief medical train was also immediately ordered. The railway doctors are assisting the local doctors in the treatment of the injured persons. The DRM also visited the hospitals to meet the injured persons. 
The officials said normal train traffic was restored on the section by 8.15 am.
According to the railway officials, preliminary reports suggested that the accident occurred because of the "carelessness" on the part of the van driver.
They said the gateman at the unmanned level crossing tried hard to stop the van from the crossing the tracks because the train was approaching.
"The van driver however ignored the caution and carelessly drove the vehicle through the level crossing resulting in this tragic incident," a press release from the Ministry of Railways in Delhi said.
The release said that, under the existing Motor Vehicles Act (Section131), the road user is supposed to take appropriate precautions while passing through an unmanned level crossing.  Clause 131 prescribes certain duties for a driver approaching an unmanned level crossing to ensure safe crossing of the vehicle in the interest of public safety. These include stopping the vehicle and physically verifying that no train or trolley is approaching from either side, it said.
Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu expressed profound grief over the loss of innocent lives in the incident.
On humanitarian grounds, as a special gesture, Mr. Prabhu has announced ex-gratia payments of Rs 2 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed, Rs 1 lakh for those with grievous injuries and Rs. 20,000 for those with simple injuries.
A Committee of Railway Officer of Varanasi Division has been constituted to enquire into the incident.
The Railways have drawn up plans to eliminate all the remaining broad gauge unmanned level crossings, numbering 6352, in the next three to four years. The Railways have also decided that all new lines will be constructed in such a way that they will not have unmanned level crossings, the release added.

Mukherjee underlines need to provide quality education, skills training to India's youth

Cautioning that India's so-called demographic dividend is a double-edged sword, President Pranab Mukherjee has said the country's huge workforce would be an asset only if it could provide them quality education and skills training.
"If we can enhance the employability of our youth, we can become suppliers of workforce to the world," he said in his Centennial Address to mark the centenary year celebrations of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) here yesterday.
Mr. Mukherjee pointed out that by 2030 more than half of India's population would be in the working age bracket.
He said research and innovation needed to be made a national priority. "It is critical that we make substantive investments in research and development as well as in our institutions of higher learning. Only with such investments can India join the ranks of leading countries of the world," he said.
The President paid homage to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya on the occasion, describing him as one of the tallest leaders of India’s freedom struggle. He said the Mahamana decided wisely to establish the University in Kashi because the city was not merely a geographical expression but a name which ignites minds as a place which has nurtured the growth of civilization. 
The President said Mr. Malaviya could foresee the need for a university to produce a pool of professionally trained scientists, engineers, social workers, political thinkers, philosophers and academicians who would contribute to nation-building. He wanted students to develop a scientific outlook, and at the same time, retain the deep connect with our rich indigenous culture and knowledge. 
Mr. Mukherjee praised BHU for turning itself into a great centre of learning with around 32,000 students, half of them living on campus making it the largest residential university in Asia. He praised the architectural beauty of its buildings, the greenery of the campus and the fact that it provided education for both worldly progress and inner growth. 

Sanitation, water supply, other projects in Varanasi to be speeded up

Execution of various projects to ensure sanitation and water supply in Varanasi -- the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- will be speeded up with all the stakeholder agencies taking necessary action in a time-bound manner.
This was agreed upon at a two-hour-long review meeting taken by Mr Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (Urban Development), here today, an official press release said.
Construction of household, community and public toilets, solid waste management, operationalisation of a waste processing plant at Karsada, management of waste dump at Ramna, cleaning of ghats, installation of LED lights, land acquisition for a water treatment plant, execution of HRIDAY works, implementation under Kyoto-Varanasi Collaboration Agreement and JICA-assisted works were discussed and reviewed in detail. 
Regarding construction of toilets, Municipal Commissioner of Varanasi informed the meeting that as against the need for construction of 3,500 household toilets in the city, work has just begun on 779 toilets with the State Government agreeing to its share of assistance to the beneficiaries. So far, 46 community and public toilet seats have been constructed as against the need for 205. The officials assured that construction on remaining toilets will begin soon.
Mr S.P.Singh, Principal Secretary (Urban Development) of Uttar Pradesh said that the Varanasi Municipal Commissioner would  intensify efforts to mobilize funds under corporate social responsibility (CSR) for construction of public toilets in the city.
Mr Gauba urged State Government officials to undertake speedy and concerted efforts to make Varanasi ‘open defecation free’ at the earliest.
Regarding solid waste management, the state government officials said IL&FS, which has been entrusted with door-to-door collection and transportation of municipal solid waste in 14 core areas would be asked to consider doing the same for the remaining 74 wards in the city. Financing of solid waste collection and transportation in these 74 wards will be considered under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).
It was also decided that IL&FS would be asked to examine issues relating to the management of huge waste dump at Ramna including the presence of combustible waste before capping of this dump is considered to avoid possible fires. It was felt necessary to ensure presence of only inert material in the dump. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has agreed to operationalise waste processing plant at Karsada in a month’s time.
Regarding setting up of a water treatment plant at Baraipur for bringing more Ganga water to the city and a pending court case, it was stated that the court has been informed that land proposed to be acquired was not patta land and necessary action in this regard would be taken. 
Varanasi Municipal Corporation will come out with an action plan for ensuring 24 X 7 cleaning of ghats in ten days time.
Mr Gauba suggested that a revenue sharing model be evolved by the company EESL to meet the infrastructure cost of Rs. 38 crore for installing LED lights along all streets and ghats in Varanasi. 
A committee will be set up under Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi to enable speedy execution of 24 road projects under Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) to be implemented by the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC). 
Regarding operationalisation of Kyoto-Varanasi Collaboration Agreement, it was agreed that JICA will soon complete survey works for Rs. 760 crore sewerage network projects in Cis-Varuna areas of the city and Rs. 100 crore sewerage and STP project in Ramnagar so that they could be launched before India-Japan Cooperation Review due next year.
JICA also agreed to quickly take a final view on financing the proposed Rs.74 crore Convention Centre project.
State Government officials have further informed that necessary approval has been accorded for JICA’s technical cooperation in the areas of solid waste management, sewerage and liquid waste management and water supply (Non-revenue water) projects in Varanasi.
Mr Gauba also reviewed progress in respect of Kanpur Metro Project. The State Government was asked to quickly respond to the issues raised by the Ministry of Urban Development regarding a Comprehensive Mobility Plan for the city and some complaints received regarding the alignment of the project.
Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohiley, Mr Pravin Prakash and Mr B. Anand, Joint Secretaries in the Ministry of Urban Development, Mr S.P.Singh, Principal Secretary (Urban Development, Government  of UP), Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi, Vice-Chairman of Varanasi Development Authority, Municipal Commissioner of Varanasi and other concerned senior officials of UP Government besides members of the Steering Committee on Kyoto-Varanasi Collaboration Agreement, representatives of JICA and Banaras Hindu University attended the meeting.

More than 1 crore LED bulbs distributed in UP under UJALA programme

As many as one crore inefficient bulbs have been replaced with energy efficent LED bulbs distributed under the Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) programme. 
The one crore milestone was reached when Union Minister for Power Piyush Goyal distributed a bulb to Mr. A. K. Singh, Managing Director of Purvanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Ltd. (PUVVNL) here late yesterday evening.
Given a total target consumer base of approximately 45 lakh, Uttar Prades has been the fastest state in the country to achieve this landmark.
Mr. Goyal also announced that the price of an LED bulb in Uttar Pradesh would now be only Rs. 80. He said the prices had come down because of the transparent procuremet by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and the removal of VAT on them in the state. UP was the first state in the country to do away with VAT on LED bulbs.
The Minister also launched the National Energy Efficient Fan Programme (NEEFP) in the state. Under the scheme, BEE 5 star rated ceiling fans of 50 watts will be distributed to the consumers at an attractive EMI model. The Minister distributed energy efficient fans to 15 consumers at an event held in the city. The energy efficient ceiling fans will be distributed by EESL in collaboration with PUVVNL in the city.
UP will also be the second state in the country to adopt the energy efficient fan programme. With the usage of 50 watt BEE 5 Star rated ceiling fans, it is estimated that consumers' electricity bills will reduce by about Rs. 700-730 per year. Therefore, the cost recovery of purchasing these fans is less than two years. These fans are 30% more energy efficient as compared to conventional fans, which range from 75-80 watts. At present, two energy efficient fans will be provided to each consumer at Rs 60 a month per fan on EMI basis. This scheme will be available to the consumer on providing a copy of latest electricity bill at the designated distribution centre. The consumer can also purchase the fan by paying Rs. 1300 upfront. A consumer can replace technically faulty fan upto a period of 2 years. EESL aims to distribute 1 lakh energy efficient fans over the next few months in Uttar Pradesh.

Modi flags off Varanasi-New Delhi Mahamana Express with model rake

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the 02417 Varanasi-New Delhi Superfast Mahamana Express with a model rake through remote control at a ceremony held at Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi yesterday.
The new model rake used for the train is a refurbished and re-adapted version of seven types of coaches which have been plying for the past decade on the Indian Railways.
This was part of the Railways' efforts to ensure enhanced comfort in classes of coaches, both air-conditioned as well as non-air-conditioned ones.
Some of the special features of the model rake include:
·         Modular panels without visible screws and minimum maintenance hatches inside passenger area for better safety and aesthetics
·         Use of superior material for panels in terms of toxicity index and fire retardation.
·         Ergonomically designed ladders for climbing up to upper berths provided in all sleeper coaches.
·         Aesthetically appealing toilet modules provided with enhanced passenger amenities - big mirror, platform washbasin, controlled discharged water tap, odour control system, exhaust fan, LED lights, dustbin inside the toilet to name a few.
·         Shifting of electrical junction points from passenger area to non-passenger area in a centralised distribution board for enhanced safety.
·         Use of e-beam cables and polyamide conduits for enhanced electrical and fire safety.
·         Use of LED lighting to enhance illumination and service durability while minimizing power consumption.
·         Enhanced scale of light fittings including berth reading lights in GSCN (Sleeper) coaches and embarking light in all classes of coaches.
·         The number of mobile/ laptop charging points has been increased in all classes of coaches.
·         LED based berth indicators-cum-night light for reserved coaches provided to assist passengers boarding train in night.
·         Provision of fire extinguisher in all coaches.
·         Provision of electrically operated chimney in Pantry Car.
·         Stainless steel panelling in Luggage Compartment.
Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said that this was also the first train to have a seamless run on electric traction from Varanasi to New Delhi. Indian Railway had recently commissioned the electrification of 140 km Ghaziabad-Moradabad residual stretch on the Varanasi-Delhi route.
Regular operations of the 22418/22417 New Delhi-Varanasi-New Delhi Tri-Weekly Superfast Mahamana Express Train will commence from January 25.

SpiceJet introduces direct flights from Varanasi to Mumbai, Hyderabad

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today anounced new flights in its schedule from October 15, including services on the Varanasi-Mumbai and Varanasi-Hyderabad-Bengaluru routes.
A press release from the airline said it had also introduced daily flights between Agartala and Chennai via Kolkata.
It has also increased frequencies on its daily flights between Hyderabad and Bengaluru, Delhi and Agartala (second flight added), Delhi and Kolkata (third flight added), Agartala and Kolkata (second flight added), Kolkata and Chennai (second flight added), Hyderabad and Mumbai (third flight added), and Hyderabad and Bengaluru (third flight added).  
SpiceJet will deploy two new aircraft to operate the new flights, the release said.
Shilpa Bhatia, Sr. VP and Head of Sales and Distribution, SpiceJet, said, “These new flights and frequencies signal the continuing rebound of SpiceJet. We offer the lowest fares and fly the fullest aircraft in India, connecting more cities and bringing air travel to more Indians than ever before.”

Uma Bharti inspects progress of Clean Ganga Mission at Varanasi

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti has said that sewage treatment capacity of Varanasi will be enhanced from the present 101.8 MLD to 411.8 MLD. 
This will be sufficient to cater to the population the city up to the year 2035, she said after inspecting the progress of the Clean Ganga Mission from Assi Ghat to Dashashwamedha Ghat in Varanasi yesterday.
Ms Bharti said three new sewage treatment plants (STPs) would be constructed at Dinapur, Goithaha and Ramana at a cost of Rs. 457 crore. The Dinapur STP will prevent the drains falling into river Ganga near Rajghat. Goithaha STP will prevent nine drains falling into river Varuna. Ramana STP will stop the flow of sewage into Ganga through Assi river. 
Ms Bharti said her Ministry would bear the entire cost of construction of these STPs. She said the news STPs would have the provision for reuse of treated water for agricultural purpose. 
The Minister said her Ministry had taken up restoration and beautification of the ghats along the Ganga at Varanasi on priority basis. Under this programme, 24-hour cleaning of the ghats, construction of bio-toilets, proper illumination of ghats, plantation of flowers and collection of waste flowers and other pooja material from the river will be taken up. The beautification programme is likely to start from October this year and the entire cost will be borne by the Central Government. 
The Minister was accompanied by senior officials of her Ministry, National Mission on Clean Ganga and UP Jal Nigam. 

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Modi's visit to Varanasi cancelled due to heavy rains

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi was cancelled today due to heavy rains in the city this morning.
Mr Modi was inaugurate the Trauma Centre in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and launch the prestigious ‘Integrated Power Development Scheme’ (IPDS) of the Ministry of Power in the city today.
Announcing the cancellation of the visit, Power Minister Piyush Goyal told journalists in Varanasi that a new date for the launch of IPDS would be set shortly.

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Modi to launch Integrated Power Development Scheme at Varanasi on Sunday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), a flagship programme of the Ministry of Power aimed at providing 24x7 power for all, at Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, tomorrow.
An official press release said that the scheme, announced in the Union Budget 2014-15, aims at strengthening of sub-transmission network, metering, IT application, customer care services, provisioning of solar panels and the completion of the ongoing works of Restructured Accelerated Power Development and completion of the Reforms Programme (RAPDRP). 
It said the Government of India will provide budgetary support of Rs. 45,800 crore over the entire implementation period of IPDS. 
Out of the total amount, Rs 1,067 crore has been sanctioned for Uttar Pradesh including Rs 572 crore for Varanasi.
The project envisages converting area overhead lines into underground cabling in the areas around the temples and ghats in the Varanasi city. 
The scheme includes upgradation of the electrical assets at sub-centres, lines and distribution transformers, capacity enhancement and renewal of the old sub-stations and installation of roof-top solar panel in government buildings.
"IPDS will help in reduction in AT&C losses; establishment of IT enabled energy accounting/auditing system, improvement in billed energy based on metered consumption and improvement in collection efficiency," the release added.

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Air India reduces fare on Kathmandu sector, to operate additional flights

National carrier Air India today said it would operate four additional flights, apart from its normal services, to Kathmandu today for the benefit of passengers stranded after the magnitude 7.9 earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday.
A press release from the airline said it would operate AI1247 departure from Kolkata 1100, arrival Kathmandu 1245hrs local time. 
The return flight AI1248 will leave Kathmandu at 1345 and reach Kolkata at 1455 hrs. The flight will be operated with an Airbus A319 aircraft with a capacity of 122 passengers.
Between Delhi and Kathmandu there will be two additional flights. AI1213, departure Delhi 0630 and arrival Kathmandu 0820 hrs. The return flight AI1214 will leave Kathmandu at 0915 and reach 
Kolkata at 1040 hrs. The second additional flight from Delhi, AI1215 will leave Delhi at 1200 hrs and reach Kathmandu at 1345 hrs. The return flight  AI1216 will leave Kathmandu at 1445 and arrive 
back in Delhi at 1615 hrs. 
Both flights from Delhi will be operated with a 182-seater Airbus A321 aircraft, the release said.
The flight from Varanasi AI1251 will depart at 1215 hrs and land at Kathmandu at 1325 hrs. The return flight AI 1252 will leave Kathmandu at 1425 and reach Varanasi at 1505 hrs. 
Air India has also reduced the one way fare between Delhi / Kolkata / Varanasi and Kathmandu from Rs 14000 to Rs 4700 inclusive of all taxes, the release added.
Air India will also carry relief material free of charge on priority basis, on its flights to Kathmandu, both from Delhi and Kolkata.

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Inland Waterways Authority, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation sign MoU for logistic hubs

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) signed a memorandum of understanding here today for creation of logistic hubs with rail connectivity at Varanasi and other places on National Waterways. 
The MoU was signed in the presence of Minister of Shipping and Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari and Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu. 
An official press release said the joint development of state-of-the-art logistics hubs at Varanasi and other places would lead to convergence of inland waterways with rail and road connectivity. This would provide a seamless, efficient and cost effective cargo transportation solution, it said.
As per the MoU, IWAI and DFCCIL will collaborate for the project and also facilitate business development in the hinterland and its feeder routes. 
To begin with, IWAI and DFCCIL will work jointly to provide rail connectivity to the proposed inland waterway terminal at Varanasi to make it a logistics hub, with the vision of developing similar facilities at other strategic locations on the other National Waterways and dedicated Freight Corridors.
Mr Gadkari said that the MoU was yet another step towards turning the ‘Make-in-India’ vision into a reality. As the Dedicated Freight Corridor is a game changer, the synergy between the Ministries of Railways and Shipping would provide a boost to the development of multi-modal logistics terminals along National Waterways, he added. 
The Minister also underlined his Ministry’s initiative to convert 101 rivers into inland waterways. 
Describing the signing of MoU as a ‘landmark event’, Mr Prabhu said this initiative would connect each part of the country as one country. It is the result of realising the huge potential for water connectivity in the country, he added. He further said that this environment friendly and cost effective measure would be a boon for landlocked states. 
DFCCIL and IWAI will set up a Coordination Group (COG), with two members from each organisation, for effective implementation of the MoU, the release said.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project has been undertaken by the Government for development of high speed dedicated freight lines to facilitate rail transportation of goods. In Phase-I, DFCCIL will construct two corridors, the Eastern DFC traversing from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni in West Bengal and Western DFC extending from Dadri in the National Capital Region to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (Mumbai) in Maharashtra. 
The National Waterway -1 runs parallel to the Allahabad and Varanasi stretch of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) of DFCCIL. 

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