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Uttarakhand

Six coaches of Utkal Express derail near Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh

Six coaches of the 18477 Utkal Express, from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, derailed at Khatauli, about 25 km from Muzzafarnagar, in Uttar Pradesh, this evening.
 
The mishap occurred around 5.46 pm today, railway sources said, adding that details of casualties were not immediately available.
 
Television pictures from the scene showed that one of the coaches had climbed on to the top of another coach, and one of its ends had crashed into a building on the side of the track.
 
Gas cutters were being used to cut through the mangled steel to pull out those trapped inside the coaches. 
 
"Our focus right now is on rescue and relief operations. Officers and staff from the nearby railway stations have reached the spot," Ministry of Railways spokesman Anil Saxena told journalists in New Delhi.
 
Khatauli is located on the Meerut-Saharanpur section of the Delhi Division of Northern Railway.
 
"We have geared up our rescue and relief machinery. Senior officials of Delhi Division have rushed to the accident site. Staff and officers from the nearby stations have already reached there," Mr. Saxena said.
 
He said personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) would also reach the site soon.
 
The train had left Puri yesterday and was due to reach Haridwar at 9 pm today, they said.
 
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said on micro-blogging site Twitter that he was personally monitoring the situation and had instructed senior officers to reach the spot immediately and ensure speedy rescue and relief operations. He said medical vans had been rushed to the site of the accident.
 
"Have instructed Chairman Rly Board, Member Traffic to oversee rescue and relief operations. I am personally monitoring situation," he said. "Instructed General Manager, other senior officers to ensure all possible help to the people."
 
"In close touch with @CMOfficeUP , State Government officials, district administration to coordinate rescue and relief operations," he said.
 
Mr. Prabhu said he had instructed the Member, Engineering of the Railway Board, the Director General, Health and other senior officers to rush to the scene.
 
"Have ordered inquiry into the unfortunate accident to ascertain the cause. Strict action will be taken against any lapse," he added.
 
Mr. Prabhu said Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan were on their way to the scene of the accident.
 
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told journalists that two State Ministers -- Satish Mahana and Suresh Rana -- have also left for the spot.
 
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Assembly elections: Counting of votes to be taken up on Saturday

Counting of votes will begin on Saturday morning in the crucial elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of five States -- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa -- and most of the results are expected to be out within a few hours after that.

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Counting of votes will begin tomorrow morning in the crucial elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of five States -- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa -- and the keenly-awaited results are expected to have far-reaching implications for national politics.
 
The elections in five States have taken place mid-way through the five-year term of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and just weeks after the sudden decision of the government on November 8 to demonetise Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 banknotes.
 
Polling in Uttar Pradesh -- India's most populous state -- was held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, while Manipur had polling in two phases on March 4 and 8. Punjab and Goa had single-phase polling on February 4 and Uttarakhand had single-phase voting on February 15.
 
The terms of the Goa, Manipur and Punjab assemblies are due to normally expire on March 18, Uttarakhand on March 26 and Uttar Pradesh on May 27.
 
The Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly has 403 seats, including 84 reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and two for Scheduled Tribes. Punjab Assembly has 117 seats (34 SC), Goa 40 (1 SC), Uttarakhand 70 (13 SC, 2 ST) and Manipur 60 (1 SC, 19 ST).
 
The Election Commission will give out counting trends and results of the elections through its website from 8 am tomorrow.
 
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Among other things, the website will give details such as the number of votes secured by the candidates round-wise and constituency-wise and political party-wise and candidate-wise trends.
 
The website can also be accessed through the main website of the Election Commission of India.
 
For the first time, the Commission will also provide analytics through interactive dashboard in the form of clickable infographics. Users can download data, crosstab, PDF and images for analysing the elections further at their end. It will include comparative analytics between 2012 and 2017. 
 
An official press release said users will get constituency analysis with respect to participation of electors (constituencies with more female electors, constituencies by slabs of voter turnout, turnout by poll days) and candidates (gender wise participants, winners and major competitors). To assess performance of political parties, analysis on seats won by them, the percentage vote-share in the State and the profile (age and social category)of candidates fielded by them have been included. Candidates have been mapped to their constituencies and the votes polled in their favour, it said.
 
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Nine killed in fire on Mumbai-Dehradun Express near Dahanu in Maharashtra

Nine passengers including a woman, were killed when a fire broke out in the speeding 19019 Mumbai-Dehradun Express near Dahanu in Thane district of Maharashtra in the early hours of Wednesday.

Fire kills nine on Mumbai-Dehradun Express
Nine passengers including a woman, were killed when a fire broke out in the speeding 19019 Mumbai-Dehradun Express near Dahanu in Thane district of Maharashtra in the early hours of today.
 
Western Railway sources said the fire broke out in S3 coach of the train and then spread to the adjoining coaches S2 and S4, taking the passengers, most of whom were asleep, unawares.
 
The cause of the fire, which broke out at around 0235 hours today while the train was running between Dahanu Road and Gholwad stations , could not be ascertained immediately, the sources said.
 
According to them, the fire was noticed by a gateman at a level crossing, and he alerted the station master of Gholwad station, who quickly contacted the driver and asked him to stop the train.
 
Fire tenders and ambulances rushed to the spot and the blaze was brought under control soon. The affected coaches were detached and the rest of the train was later brought to Gholwad station, about 145 km north of Mumbai, on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border, around 0530 hours.
 
Accident and medical relief vans were rushed to the spot from Mumbai and Valsad in Gujarat to assist in the relief efforts.
 
Five persons who felt suffocated due to the smoke were given first aid in the acident relief vans and later discharged, te sources said.
 
The Divisional Railway Manager of Mumbai Central Division and other top railway officials rushed to the spot to supervise the relief operations.
 
Five of the deceased have been identified by the Railways as Ms Deepika Shah , 65, Mr Dev Shankar Upadhyay, 48, Mr Surendra Shah, 68, Mr Nasirkhan Ahmedkhan Pathan, 50, and Mr Feroz Khan, 38. 
 
The bodies of the victims were sent to Civil Hospital, Dahanu Road (Telephone No. 02528 222371) by the Government Railway Police.
 
The  Railways have offered free accommodation in the train to the relatives of the deceased up to Dahanu Road.
 
Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has expressed his grief at the loss of lives and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the fire.
 
He has also announced an inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Western Circle, into the incident.
 
Meanwhile, services on the up line resumed at 0640 hours, the sources added.
 
About 500 food packets along with tea and drinking water were arranged for the passengers of the train at Valsad where five more coaches were added to the train before dispatching it for its o­nward journey.
 
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The Railways have opened helplines to provide information to relatives of the passengers.
 
The numbers are:
 
Mumbai: 022 23011853 and 022 23007388
Valsaid: 241903- Valsad; 
Dahanu Road: 022 67649632
Bandra Terminus: 022 26435756
Surat: 0261 2423992
New Delhi: 011 23342954
Dehradun: 0135 2624002, 2624003
 
Just 11 days ago, on December 28, 2013, as many as 26 passengers were killed and eight others suffered injuries when a major fire broke out in an air-conditioned coach of the 16594 Bangalore-Nanded Express shortly after it left the Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam station in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.
 
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Two dead in Uttarakhand cloud burst

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Two persons died and three others were buried under rubble on a hillside after a cloud burst triggered heavy rains in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, an official said on Friday.
 
The downpour late on Thursday followed the cloud burst at Malari that caused a major chunk of a hill to collapse. Five labourers involved in some civil project, sleeping by the hillside, were trapped in it.
 
Two of the bodies have been extracted while search continues for three more. 
 
A team of experts belonging to the State Disaster Management Department has been rushed to the site. 
 
The heavy rains and inclement weather have also disrupted the Char Dham pilgrimage, the official told IANS. The Badrinath-Lambagad highway has been blocked, and also the Gangotri National Highway between Therang and Gangnani, near Nagdevta, due to debris coming down on the road. 
 
"Owing to some landslides and the subsequent debris falling on the highway, traffic has been halted at Gangotri, Gangnani, Bhatwadi and Uttarkashi," he added.
 
Personnel of the Border Road Organization (BRO) are working to clear the road as there is a long queue of vehicles that are part of the annual 'Char Dham' (Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath) pilgrimage. 
 
The Hemkund pilgrimage continues uninterrupted.
 
IANS
 
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14 dead as bus falls into gorge in Uttarakhand

 
14 dead after bus falls into gorge in Uttarakhand's Tehri district
 
 
Fourteen persons died and 17 others were injured when a state-run bus fell into a deep gorge in Tehri in Uttarakhand on Thursday, police said.
 
The disaster occurred on the Rishikesh-Gangotri highway when the driver of the bus belonging to Uttarakhand State Transport Corporation lost control over it near Sulyadhar.
 
The bus was headed for Haridwar from Bhatwari in Uttarkashi. There were 31 passengers in the 40-seater vehicle, an official told IANS. 
 
Six critically injured persons have been flown to Rishikesh in a chopper.
 
Locals and disaster management teams pulled out the dead and the injured from the gorge.
 
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the dependents of those killed and Rs 50,000 each to those injured.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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45 killed as bus falls into gorge in Uttarakhand

At least 45 people were killed after a bus fell into a 60-metre gorge in Uttarakhand on Sunday, police said.

 
45 dead after bus falls into gorge in Uttarakhand
 
 
At least 45 people were killed after a bus fell into a 60-metre gorge in Uttarakhand on Sunday, police said.
 
According to the police, the accident took place at about 9 a.m., near the Queen's Bridge on the Pipli-Bhaun road when the driver lost control of the 28-seater bus which was headed to Ramnagar from Bhaun
 
Eight injured people were rushed to nearby medical facilities out of which four were in "very critical" condition.
 
Inspector General of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) Sanjay Gunjial said that a chopper has been rushed to airlift the remaining injured people.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
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Seychelles President Danny Faure arrives in Ahmedabad at start of six-day visit to India

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Seychelles President Danny Faure arrived in Ahmedabad on Friday evening at the start of a six-day state visit to India.
 
He is accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising two Cabinet Ministers, four Secretaries of State and other senior officials of the Government of Seychelles. A business delegation will also be accompanying him on the visit. 
 
In Ahmedabad, Mr. Faure will visit the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram and the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University before meeting the Governor of the state today.
 
Later in the day, he will reach Goa, where he will have a meeting with the Governor tomorrow before emplaning for Delhi.
 
In Delhi, Mr. Faure will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday morning. This will be followed by a visit to Rajghat to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi. 
 
His official engagements include meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind, delegation level talks with the Prime Minister, calls by the Vice-President and the External Affairs Minister, and an address to the India-Seychelles Business Forum.  President Kovind will host a State Banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary. 
 
On Tuesday, Mr. Faure will travel to Dehradun, Uttarakhand, where he will meet the Governor on that day and visit the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy on the next day before returning to Delhi and  then flying back home.
 
"The State Visit of President Faure is part of regular high level exchanges between India and Seychelles, and will accord an opportunity to review our wide-ranging bilateral cooperation including in the fields of defence and security and development partnership," the release added.
 
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Yoga one of most powerful unifying forces: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that yoga has the power to unite individuals, society, country and the world at large, and has emerged as a major unifying force globally.

 
Yoga is developing life, says Modi
 
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that yoga has the power to unite individuals, society, country and the world at large, and has emerged as a major unifying force globally.
 
"Yoga has become one of the most powerful unifying forces in the world. It unites individuals, families, society, country and the world," Modi said while leading the fourth International Yoga Day celebrations here in Uttarakhand.
 
He said that the world has embraced yoga and glimpses of this can be seen in the manner in which the International Day of Yoga is marked every year.
 
"In fact, Yoga Day has become one of the biggest mass movements in the quest for good health and well-being," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that yoga is beautiful because it is "ancient yet modern".
 
"It is constant yet evolving. It has the best of our past and present and a ray of hope for our future. In yoga, we have the perfect solution to the problems we face, either as individuals or in our society," he said.
 
In today's fast changing times, yoga binds together a person's body, brain and soul, hence giving one the feeling of peace.
 
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"The way to lead a calm, creative and content life is yoga. It can show the way in defeating tensions and mindless anxiety. Instead of dividing, yoga unites. Instead of further animosity, yoga assimilates. Instead of increasing suffering, yoga heals," he said.
 
PM Modi said that yoga is one of the most precious gifts from the ancient Indian sages to mankind.
 
He noted the International Yoga Day is being celebrated across the world. "From Dehradun to Dublin, Jakarta to Johannesburg ... people are celebrating yoga day all across the world."
 
Thanking Prime Minister Modi for selecting Dehradun to host the main event, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said the move would also give a boost to tourism in the state.
 
The Prime Minister participated in the Yoga Day celebrations at Rajpath in New Delhi in 2015, the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh in 2016 and at the Ramabai Ambedkar Sabha Sthal in Lucknow in 2017.
 
In December 2014, based on a request from Modi, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.
 
IANS
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Uttarkashi region of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Uttarkashi region of Uttarakhand early this morning, the India Meteorological Department said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.8°N and longitude 78.2°E, occurred at 0612 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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India-Nepal joint battalion-level Exercise Surya Kiran-XIII commences

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The 13th bilateral annual military Exercise Surya Kiran between the Indian and Nepalese Army commenced on Thursday at Pithoragarh.
 
The aim of the exercise is joint training of troops in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in both jungle and mountainous terrain and disaster management, an official press release said.
 
As part of the exercise, lectures, demonstrations and drills related to counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism operations and disaster management will be conducted. Both the Armies will also share their experiences in countering such situations as also refine drills and procedures for joint operation wherever the need arises.
 
The culmination of the exercise will be a 72-hour joint exercise to show the joint skills of soldiers while conducting counter-terrorism operations, the release added.
 
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BJP retains Uttarakhand's Tharali seat

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Uttarakhand's ruling BJP on Thursday retained the Tharali Assembly seat in a bye-election.
 
Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Munni Devi Shah won the seat, defeating her nearest Congress rival Jeet Ram by over 1,900 votes.
 
Soon after announcement of the victory of Munni Devi, the widow of sitting legislator Magan Lal Shah, whose death had necessitated the bypoll, BJP supporters and workers celebrated on the streets.
 
The bypoll on Monday saw 53.43 per cent voting.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 
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3 die as vehicle falls into river in Uttarakhand

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Two persons hailing from New Delhi and one from Haryana's Faridabad were killed on Monday when their vehicle hit a small bridge and fell into a rain-fed river in Uttarakhand, police said.
 
The occupants were coming back from Kedarnath when the accident happened on the Badrinath highway at Jiyalgarh.
 
While the three were killed on the spot, two others were seriously injured and have been admitted to the Base hospital in Srinagar, an official told IANS. 
 
All the dead - Anurag, 27, from Faridabad, Narendra, 25, and Meenakshi, 24, both of Delhi - were sitting at the back while the driver and the woman sitting next to him were injured in the incident.
 
The injured - Amit Parcha, 36, a resident of Uttar Pradesh's Modinagar, works at the Electricity Board and Jyoti, 34, from Delhi works at a private insurance company.
 
IANS
 
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UP to construct 100-room tourist complex in Haridwar

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The Uttar Pradesh government will construct a 100-room tourist accommodation building in Uttarakhand's Haridwar district, officials said on Tuesday.
 
A proposal to this effect was approved by the state cabinet at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. 
 
The new tourist complex, to be built in an area of 2,964 square metres in the Alaknanda hotel complex, will cost the state government Rs 40 crore and will be completed in a time of two years. After the complex comes up, it would be handed over to the state government in the hill state.
 
The land for this complex is being given by the Irrigation Department and would be run and managed by the Uttar Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation, the officials told IANS.
 
IANS
 
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My stories belong as much to my readers as they belong to me: Ruskin Bond

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Up above the hills, where a forest of nodding flowers and an endless valley of Himalayan mountains paint the sky, lives one of India's most-loved writers -- Ruskin Bond.

He's lived in this humble Ivy Cottage since 1981 and has penned numerous tales to traverse a 68-year-long journey exclusively spent in writing. And even as he turns 84 on Saturday, he shows no signs of slowing down. "In fact, I think I am writing more now," he revealed in an exclusive interview to IANS at his residence.

Bond's vivid tales from the Ivy Cottage and his descriptions of the view from the window at the foot of his bed can often be deceiving for what one imagines to be some sort of a mansion of a celebrated writer is actually a humble first-floor flat of "an ordinary man".

"I've never cared for riches; what will I do with them?" he asks.

And yet, when Rusty, as his readers lovingly call him, looks back at his writer’s life, memories of several consecutive years when his love for writing plunged him into financial depths come flashing by. There were very few resources and opportunities for writers when he set out with his literary career. Multinational publishers were yet to find a footing in India and so, as his long-time friend and publisher David Davidar puts it, "Our would be man of letters set sail for England".

In England, he found a home for "The Room on the Roof," his very first novel that won him the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1957 at the mere age of 23. But contrary to the prevailing notion, Bond contended, that his time in England was not very fruitful.

" 'The Room on the Roof' was what I carried with myself from India. I wrote very less there; or even in Delhi, there was no writing at all," he said. And thus from the royalty advance that he was paid for his first novel, he sailed back to India. Stopping by in Karachi, he went looking for the names and contacts of editors whom he could "bombard" with his stories and articles. The then young man wanted to make a living by freelancing his writings.

The Illustrated Weekly of India and The Statesman were the main sources of income for Bond during the 1950s to the 1970s and even the 1980s, paying about Rs 35-Rs 50 per write-up. He constantly churned out stories and articles because they were his "bread and butter". And when things went really bad, he even did some odd jobs.

Things changed for the struggling writer when publishing houses began to find a footing in India.

Penguin India came in 1985 -- and the publishing space would change forever. It started publishing in 1987 with only six books. Five years later, in 1992, HarperCollins arrived and other major publishing houses followed. Even though Rupa was founded way back in 1936, its publishing gained a lot more momentum after their arrival. So did the rise of other home-grown publishers.

While the search for authentic stories from India was just beginning, here was Bond, with his tonnes and tonnes of stories and articles, ready to be compiled in anthologies and collections. The freelancer soon became an adored figure -- loved and revered by generations of readers.

"Of course, I want the royalty checks, but my desires are very simple. I did not have a very happy childhood so I want to ensure that my grandchildren have a secured life, so should Rakesh and Bina (his adopted family)," he noted.

For the last 37 years, he has lived on the top floor of "this windswept, somewhat shaky house on the edge of a spur" in Landour. His bedroom window opens "on to the sky, clouds, the Doon valley and the Suswa river -- silver in the setting sun -- and range upon range of mountains striding away into the distance".

But thousands of others living nearby too have a similar view, so what is it that strikes a chord with Bond and perhaps not so much with others?

A child at heart, Bond leads this visiting IANS correspondent to the legendary window and says that "nobody, nobody has this view". At night, "the sky is tremendous with stars", the sparrows come at noon "to squabble on the windowsill" and clouds are "passers-by" during the day. "Here I sit," he says, pointing to a small bed, tucked in the far end corner of the room, "and write".

There are occasional visitors, trekking all the way from Mussoorie to see his house. "Yesterday, someone was clicking pictures of my staircase and I thought this is the worst staircase in all of Mussoorie, why would someone want its pictures? Then he saw me looking out of the window and the camera immediately turned towards me, I quietly disappeared," he laughed.

The postman comes four to five times a week, bringing letters and gifts from readers. And in these calm and serene, undisturbed and solitary surroundings, Bond sets his pen to paper -- every day without fail.

A chronicler of his life, almost everything that Bond has written comes from his own experiences. He maintained that he is writing more than ever before because, apart from his memory growing stronger with age, he has a much broader and larger range of people and experiences to write about.

In his latest book "Stumbling Through Life" (Rupa), releasing on his birthday, he weaves together a selection of his essays and writings to bring to the reader the rich tapestry of his life, peppered as it is with delightful eccentricities and a geniality rarely found.

"If someday I am to be remembered at all, it should be for the stories and tales I have written. I am a very simple man, always believed in the beauty of small things, I am grateful to the readers for loving me so much. My stories belong to them as much as they belong to me," he says, his voice soft and emotional.

Happy birthday, Rusty!

IANS

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SC collegium defers decision on Justice Joseph

The Supreme Court collegium on Wednesday deferred its decision on Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph, whose name for elevation to the top court was returned by the government last week for reconsideration.

The Supreme Court collegium on Wednesday deferred its decision on Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph, whose name for elevation to the top court was returned by the government last week for reconsideration even as the Centre maintained that the rejection had nothing to do with his judgment in quashing President's Rule in Uttarakhand last year.
 
A decision to reconsider the recommendation was deferred after the collegium comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and four other senior most judges -- Justices Jasti Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph -- met for about 45 minutes.
 
The Central government on April 26 sent back Justice Joseph's recommendation for reconsideration.
 
"The proposal for reconsideration of the case of K.M. Joseph has the approval of President and Prime Minister," said the letter that was sent to the Chief Justice by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
 
Justice Chelameswar, who did not attend the court on Wednesday, however, came to attend the collegium meeting.
 
In a brief statement issued on Wednesday, the collegium, while recording that besides reconsidering the recommendation of Justice Joseph, it also met to also consider names of judges from other high courts for elevation to the Supreme Court.
 
The statement said that the decision was "deferred" and did not give the next date of the meeting of the collegium. 
 
"Recording the agenda of the meeting: To reconsider the case of Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court, pursuant to letters dated 26th and 30th April, 2018 received from Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India and also to consider the names of Judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan, and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, in view of the concept of fair representation", the statement said, ending with "Decision: Deferred".
 
After sitting over the collegium's recommendations for over three months, the Central government on April 26 cleared the name of senior lawyer Indu Malhotra (now judge) but returned the recommendation of Justice Joseph for reconsideration.
 
At a post-Cabinet briefing, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government decision to return the file of Justice Joseph had "nothing to do with his order quashing the President's Rule in Uttarakhand".
 
"I wish to deny with all authority at my command it has nothing to do with it (Justice Joseph's decision) at all for two obvious reasons. Firstly, a proper (BJP-led) government with nearly three-fourth majority has been elected in Uttarakhand. Secondly, that order was confirmed by Justice (J.S.) Khehar of the Supreme Court," the minister said in response to a media query.
 
The government decision to send back Justice Joseph's recommendation for reconsideration was met with sharp criticism by former Chief Justices of the top court and others. They unanimously said that returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph was an attack on the independence of the judiciary.
 
Indu Malhotra was sworn in as judge of the top court on April 27.
 
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The top court collegium recommending the elevation of Justice Joseph had said: "The collegium considers that at present Justice K.M. Joseph, who hails from Kerala High Court and is currently functioning as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court of India."
 
Justice Joseph's name for elevation to top court was recommended by the collegium at its January 10 meeting.
 
However, the Central government had said that he stood at number 42 in the seniority of High Court judges and there are 11 Chief Justices of different High Courts who are senior to him -- a clear suggestion that his elevation to the Supreme Court would be at their expense.
 
It had also raised the principle of proportionality contending that Kerala High Court was a "comparatively small High Court" with a sanctioned strength of 42 judges and was a parent High Court for the top court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, the Chief Justices of three High Courts -- Justice K.M. Joseph himself (Uttarakhand), Justice T.B. Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala).
 
Though it had cleared the recommendation of Malhotra for appointment as top court judge, the Central government flagged the absence of SC/ST judges in the top judiciary while returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph for reconsideration.
 
IANS
 
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Centre asks SC collegium to reconsider recommendation on Justice Joseph

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The Central government on Thursday asked the  Supreme Court collegium to reconsider its recommendation for the elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph as a judge of the apex court.
 
"The proposal for the reconsideration of the case of K.M. Joseph has the approval of President and Prime Minister," said the letter sent to Chief Justice Dipak Misra by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
 
The letter also communicated the President's nod for the appointment of senior lawyer Indu Malhotra as a judge of the top court.
 
Top sources in the Law Ministry privy to the communication said the government has invoked both the principle of seniority and the proportionality in returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph for reconsideration more than three months after the top court collegium (on January 10, 2018) unanimously recommended his name for elevation.
 
The sources also took pains to try to clear the "campaign" that the government was standing in the way of the elevation of Justice Joseph because of his judgment against imposition of President's rule in Uttarakhand.
 
Expressing "deep distress" over the "campaign", the source asserted the government's right to send back the collegium recommendation for reconsideration, contending that this right flowed from the 1993 and 1998 judgements by the benches of nine judges each.
 
While sending back the recommendation for reconsideration, the government has also flagged the non-representation of SC/STs in the top court judges.
 
The Law Minister's communication to the CJI, the sources said, also held that Justice Joseph stands at number 42 in the seniority of High Court judges and there are 11 Chief Justices of different High Courts who are senior to him -- a clear suggestion that his elevation to the Supreme Court would be at their expense.
 
Describing Kerala High Court as a "comparatively small High Court" with a sanctioned strength of 42 judges, the letter, the sources said, has pointed out that it - as a parent High Court - has, besides top court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, the Chief Justices of three High Courts -- Justice K.M. Joseph himself (Uttarakhand), Justice T.B. Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala).
 
Pointing to the disproportionate representation the Kerala High Court has, the top source said that elevation of Justice K.M. Joseph to the apex court would further compound it.
 
However, even if Justice K.M. Joseph is elevated to the Supreme Court - the number of judges in the higher judiciary hailing from Kerala High Court would remain the same and there is also the fact that Justice Kurian Joseph is retiring on November 29 this year.
 
The Law Ministry also sought to buttress its reliance on seniority criteria by relying on 1993 and 1998 apex court judgments, both which said, "...Inter se seniority amongst judges in their High Court and their combined seniority of All-India basis is of admitted significance in the matter of future prospects".
 
However, the top court collegium in its January 10 meeting said: "The Collegium considers that at present Justice K.M. Joseph, who hails from Kerala High Court and is currently functioning as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court of India."
 
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Defending the segregation of the collegium's recommendations by clearing the name of senior Indu lawyer Malhotra and withholding that of Justice Joseph, the source said: "The government's right to return recommendation for reconsideration can't be withheld and that does not mean that other names are put on hold".
 
Meanwhile, taking umbrage to the campaign unleashed by the Congress and a section of media, Minister Prasad, talking to the media in his office, on Thursday questioned the Congress' credential to speak about the independence of judiciary and the government attempt to influence it.
 
"The Congress Party's record of giving unfair treatments to judiciary is well-known. The whole record of the Congress is littered with repeated instances of superseding inconvenient judges and compromising the dignity of judiciary," he said, citing past instances of junior judges superseding the seniors, like Justice H.R. Khanna, in the appointment of Chief Justice of India.
 
Justice Khanna in ADM Jabalpur case had said that the fundamental rights could not be eclipsed even during an emergency.
 
IANS
 
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Madhya Pradesh wins Most Film Friendly State Award

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Madhya Pradesh has won the Most Film Friendly State Award and Uttarakhand got a Special Mention Certificate, Jury Chairperson Ramesh Sippy announced here yesterday.  
 
The jury also lauded the continuing efforts of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat towards creating a film-friendly eco system. 
 
The awards will be presented by President Ram Nath Kovind on May 3 during the presentation of the National Film Awards, an official press release said.
 
Madhya Pradesh was chosen for the award for its efforts towards easing filming in the State by creating a well-structured website, film-friendly infrastructure, offering incentives, maintaining databases, undertaking marketing and promotional initiatives.
 
The jury unanimously selected Madhya Pradesh from among the 16 participants. The State also received positive feedback from established filmmakers who have shot there.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sippy said, “The jury members laud the continuing efforts of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat towards creating a film-friendly ecosystem in their States and hope that they keep up the good work.
 
“This year Madhya Pradesh where a lot of filmmakers have shot over the years has won the award due to the ease of filming that the State offers along with excellent on-ground support and film infrastructure, an informative website and incentives for filmmaking. Their entry was also presented beautifully with all required documents given in a very comprehensive manner,” he said.
 
“In addition, the jury would like to acknowledge the sincere efforts made by Uttarakhand in this direction, despite it being a relatively new State with a difficult terrain and hence has been given the Special Mention,” he added.
 
Apart from Mr Sippy, the jury comprised renowned filmmakers Nagraj Manjule, Raja Krishna Menon, Vivek Agnihotri, and Uday Singh, MD, Motion Picture Distributors Association.
 
The States that participated in the competition were Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
 
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Uttarakhand’s second mega food park inaugurated at Udham Singh Nagar

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Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Sunday inaugurated the second mega food park in Uttarakhand at Mahuakhera Ganj village, Kashipur in Udham Singh Nagar district.
 
The Himalayan Mega Food Park Private Ltd has been set up at a cost of Rs 99.96 crore and will benefit around 25,000 farmers in Udham Singh Nagar as well as neighbouring districts, an official press release said.
 
The first Mega Food Park in the state at Haridwar has already become operational.
 
Giving details of the project, Ms Badal said the  park, set up in an area of 50.14 acres, would have a Central Processing centre as well as well as three Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) at Ram Nagar, Ramgarh and Kaladungi.
 
The park would also have facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms. It would not only benefit farmers of Udham Singh Nagar but also those of nearby districts of Nainital, Garhwal, Almora and Champawat, she added.
 
The facilities being created at Central Processing Centre (CPC) of this Mega Food Park include Multi-Purpose Cold Storage of 1,250 MT, Aseptic Brick Filling Line of 7,500 pack per hour, Dry Warehouse of 6,000 MT, Fruit & Vegetable Processing Line input capacity 7 MT/Hr for Tomato Paste, 8 MT/Hr for Apple, 10 MT/Hr. for Carrot, 5 MT/Hr. for fruit pulp, QC & Food Testing Lab and other related food processing facilities.
 
The Union Minister said the mega food park would leverage an additional investment of about Rs 250 crore in 25-30 food processing units in the park and would eventually lead to an annual turnover of about Rs 450-500 crore.
 
“The park will also provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas”, she added.
 
Ms Badal said the food processing industry ministry was creating Mega Food Parks with modern infrastructure facilities for food processing along the value chain from farm to market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster-based approach.
 
The sector would contribute towards doubling farmers’ income in the coming years by working to achieve this goal through implementation of projects under the flagship scheme of ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana’, she added.
 
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IAF chopper crash-lands in Kedarnath; passengers, crew safe

 
IAF helicopter crash-lands near Kedarnath Temple
 
 
An Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crash-landed in Kedarnath on Tuesday, police said.
 
The accident took place when the MI-17 chopper was trying to land far from the Kedarnath shrine.
 
There were eight people -- six passengers, pilot and co-pilot -- onboard but all are safe with minor injuries, an official told IANS. 
 
The hilly area is quite risky for helicopters. 
 
On June 10, 2017, a chopper belonging to a Mumbai-based private aviation company crashed in Badrinath while taking off, killing an engineer onboard.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Shaktisinh Gohil appointed as Congress in-charge of Bihar

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi has appointed senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil as the party's in-charge of Bihar in place of Dr. C. P. Joshi, a senior party leader from Rajasthan.
 
"The party appreciates the hard work and contribution of Dr. C. P. Joshi who is relieved from the charge of the General Secretary In-charge of Bihar," a press release issued by Mr. Ashok Gehlot, General Secretary, All India Congress Committee (AICC), said here today.
 
Mr. Gandhi has also appointed Mr. Anugrah Narayan Singh as the party's in-charge of Uttarakhand, Mr. Gehlot addded.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Pithoragarh region of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Pithoragarh region of Uttarakhand tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 29.7°N and longitude 80.1°E, occurred at 2041 hours at a focal depth of 17 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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31 Sewage Management Projects worth Rs 1024.5 crore under execution in Uttarakhand

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Haridwar and Rishikesh, among other cities, will soon have 100% sewage treatment facility as sewage management interventions in Uttarakhand near completion.
 
As many as 31 sewage management projects have been sanctioned for the state at an estimated cost of Rs 1024.5 crore, to create 155.45 MLD STP capacity and to lay/rehabilitate 151.02 km of sewer network, an official press release said.
 
Out of these, 13 projects have been completed, which has created 24 MLD STP capacity at a cost of Rs 139.5 crore.  Of the remaining 18 projects, 16 have already been awarded, while two are under tendering process. The projects which have been awarded are STP, Interception and Diversion (I&D), upgrading of STPs at Jagjeetpur and Sarai of Haridwar and upgrading of STP in Tapovan in Rishikesh.
 
It also includes pollution abatement works for river Alakananda in Kirtinagar, upgrading of existing STP in Srinagar, I&D and STP work in Srinagar, Joshimath, Rudraprayag and Karnprayag. Upgradation of STP in Gyansu,  Swargashram and Muni-Ki-Reti in Rishikesh are also part of the work.
 
The release said projects for construction of 22 ghats and 22 crematoria amounting to Rs 161.16 crore have also been sanctioned and are at different stages of progress. These include ghats and crematoria works at Phool Chatti, Ramkund, Bharat, Sangam, Kirtinagar-Old Ganga, Srinagar Nathani, Ufanda village, Srinagar ITI, Balawali, Shampur, Bhogpur, Chandi, Manokamna, Jad-Bharat, Kedar, Heena, Koteshwar, Nageshwar Dham, Dunda, Koteshwar Mahadev, Gholtir, Gaucher and Nandprayag ghats in Pauri Garhwal (Rishikesh to Dev Prayag stretch), Tehri Garhwal, Rudra Prayag (Dev Prayag to Rudraprayag stretch), Haridwar, Uttarkashi and Chamoli districts of Uttarakhand.
 
Haridwar and Rishikesh being two important cities in the state, the Government has taken many initiatives to upgrade their sewage treatment facilities and address other concerns relating to the cleaning of River Ganga, the release said.
 
Haridwar generates an estimated 114 MLD of sewage, but its existing three sewage treatment plants at Jagjeetpur and Sarai are able to treat only 63 MLD of sewage, while the remaining discharges directly into river Ganga.
 
To bridge this gap, another 64 MLD STP at Jagjeetpur (replacing 18 MLD existing plant) and 14 MLD STP at Sarai have been awarded under Hybrid Annuity based PPP model to exclusively address the sewage treatment requirements of the town, it said.
 
Concession agreements for these projects were signed and work has already commenced. The total sewage treatment capacity in the town will be 145 MLD, adequate to meet the sewage treatment demands of the town for coming years too. The total sanctioned cost of all the sewage management projects in Haridwar is Rs 413.87 crore.
 
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To address the concerns of floating waste on the river, a trash skimmer is operational in Haridwar since May 2017 under river surface cleaning component. Further, ghat and crematoria development work is in progress at Chandi Ghat in Haridwar. The total estimated cost of the project is Rs. 50.36 crore. Nearly 41% work has already been completed.
 
In Rishikesh town, an estimated 15 MLD of sewage is generated, which is likely to increase in the future. From the current capacity of three existing sewage treatment plants – Swargashram, Lakkarghat and IDPL, approximately 23 MLD of sewage treatment capacity is available. However, part of the sewage generated from Rishikesh does not reach the STPs and flows directly into the river.
 
A new sewage treatment plant of 26 MLD capacity at Lakkarghat has been sanctioned under Namami Gange program, for which tendering is in progress.
 
 This project will be completed by the year 2019. Another project is already in progress to upgrade the STP at Swargashram and this work will be completed by June 2018. Together, these STPs will create sewage treatment capacity of 29 MLD. Besides, work on a 12.5 MLD capacity STP project at Muni-ki-Reti in Rishikesh has already started at the cost of Rs. 67 crore.
 
To address the issue of sewer connectivity, the works on laying of 12 km sewer lines and rehabilitation of existing pumping stations are also part of the above project to improve the entire sewage management infrastructure in Rishikesh.
 
Importantly, one of the major problems in both these towns is the poor number of connections from household and commercial establishments to the sewerage system as a result of which sewage does not reach STP for treatment.
 
It is required that maximum households and commercial establishments connect to the sewerage system for the success of these projects. Therefore, equal importance is being given to laying of sewer lines under Namami Gange programme, the release added.
 
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Cabinet nod for Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel in Uttarakhand as part of ‘Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana’

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave its approval for the construction of a 4.531 km-long two-lane bi-directional Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel with escape passage including approaches on Dharasu -Yamunotri section between chainage 25.400 km. and 51.000 km in Uttarakhand.
 
The project will be falling along NH-134 (old NH-94) in the State. The project will be built under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode. It is funded under NH (O) Scheme of Ministry of Road Transport &  Highways (MoRT&H) and forms part of the ambitious Chardham Plan.
 
The construction period of the project is four years. The civil construction cost of the project is estimated at Rs 1119.69 crore, while the total project cost is Rs 1383.78 crore, which is inclusive of the cost towards land acquisition and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as maintenance and operation cost of the tunnel for four years.     
 
"The construction of this tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to Yamunotri, one of the dham on Chardham Yatra, encouraging regional socio-economic development, trade and tourism within the country," an official press release said.
 
It will reduce the travel distance from Dharasu to Yamunotri by about 20 km and travel time by about an hour. The proposed tunnel will save a number of trees that would have been required to be removed in the road improvement of 25.600 km, had the original alignment been followed.
 
The project will be implemented by the MoRT&H through National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL), a wholly state-owned company, formed in 2014 for development of highways in states on the international borders.
 
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IAF to activate civil airfield at Dehradun for two days from February 19

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As a routine exercise of activating civil airfield by the Indian Air Force (IAF), a detachment of two Su-30 MKI aircraft will operate from Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, an official press release said.
 
The detachment will operate from the airfield for two days from February 19 for area familiarisation before returning to their parent base, the release added.
 
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GAIL launches Utkarsh programme to train students for IIT, NIT entrance exams in Uttarakhand

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The Uttarakhand Government, public sector natural gas major GAIL (India) Limited and the Centre for Social Responsibility and Leadership (CSRL) have come together to train meritorious children from underprivileged families in the state who dream of studying in prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology and other top engineering colleges. 
 
Two centres will be set up Kumaon and Garhwal regions to benefit such students under the GAIL Utkarsh Super 100 programme, a press release from GAIL said.
 
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat launched the programme in the presence of Minister of State for Higher Education Dhan Singh Rawat and GAIL Chairman and Managing Director B C Tripathi.
 
GAIL is implementing a slew of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in Uttarakhand and Project Utkarsh is one of them, aimed at deserving students from marginalized communities.
 
Fifty students will be provided training in each of the two new centres, the release said.
 
CSRL had established its first center in 2007 in Kanpur in collaboration of GAIL. It provides all-expenses paid, specialized residential coaching and intensive mentoring so that they can compete for engineering entrance examinations such as Indian Institute of Technology – Joint Entrance Examination, Uttar Pradesh Technical University, and so on.
 
Since its inception in 2009-10, 690 students have been trained under GAIL’s patronage, of which 598 have been selected – 125 in IITs and 473 in NITs and other engineering colleges. Some students from the initial batches are now employed in top organisations such as Wipro, TCS, Larsen & Toubro, ISRO, Infosys and Coal India Limited.
 
Meanwhile, CSRL has scaled up from one centre to 15 centres across nine states.
 
RailTel, a Government of India PSU, and CSRL had collaborated to establish RailTel Akansha Super 30 in Dehradun in 2015 which has successfully guided students to get admission in IITs, NITs and various other prestigious institutions. With the addition of the GAIL centres, the number of CSRL centres in Uttarakhand will increase from one to three, the release added.
 
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