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Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand HC quashes President's Rule, asks Rawat to take floor test by Apr 29

In a major setback to the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday quashed the imposition of President's Rule in the hill state on March 27 and restored status quo ante as on that date, thus reviving the government headed by Congress leader Harish Rawat.

File photo of Harish Rawat
File photo of Harish Rawat
In a major setback to the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the Uttarakhand High Court today quashed the imposition of President's Rule in the hill state on March 27 and restored status quo ante as on that date, thus reviving the government headed by Congress leader Harish Rawat.
 
A division bench headed by Chief Justice K. M. Joseph also asked Chief Minister Rawat to prove his majority in the state legislative assembly by taking a floor test on or before April 29.
 
The Centre prayed for the suspension of the judgement for a week, but the court did not accept it and said it could approach the Supreme Court if it wished.
 
A lawyer for the Centre told journalists that the government would examine the verdict and, in consultation with the Attorney General, decide on its future course of action in the matter.
 
In their judgement, the judges said the imposition of President's Rule in the state was contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
 
"In the present case which was set into motion with March 18 as day one and saw a proclamation being issued in less than ten days brings to the fore a situation where (Article) 356 has been used contrary to the law laid down by the apex court. 
 
"The material (considered for the proclamation) has been found wanting and justifies judicial review interfering with the proclamation," the court said. "However, we must not be understood to have said that a solitary instance would not contribute for imposing 356. The proclamation of March 27 stands quashed."
 
The court said there was little place for "unreviewable powers" under the Constitution.
 
"Article 356 has to be used only as a measure of last resort and only when the government (concerned) cannot be run in accordance with Constitution," it said.
 
"There must be material. Material must be verified. Any material will not suffice. It has to be relevant material. Satisfaction has to be subjective satisfaction of Cabinet and not the President.
 
"Material considered for imposing Article 356 cannot be irrelevant or extraneous. It cannot be malafide. Actions of public figure at any level must be bonafide. Therefore, action under 356 is liable to be visited with invalidation if done with malafide," it said.
 
Mr. Rawat told journalists later that his position had been vindicated and that the verdict was a victory for the people of the state.
 
He, however, felt the Centre and the state government must put the bitter chapter behind them and work for the development of the state.
 
A division bench of the High Court had, on March 30, kept in abeyance till April 7 an interim order of March 29 by a single-judge  bench allowing Mr. Rawat to seek a vote of confidence in the assembly on March 31.
 
The order by Mr. Justice U. C. Dhyani had come two days after the state was brought under President's Rule on March 27 and the assembly kept in suspended animation.
 
President's Rule was imposed in the state on Sunday, March 27, just a day ahead of a trust vote that Mr. Rawat was scheduled to seek in the assembly on Monday on the direction of Uttarakhand Governor K. K. Paul.
 
The Centre had justified the imposition of President's Rule in the state, saying the state government was functioning in violation of Constitutional principles.
 
The Rawat government was pushed into a crisis when nine legislators of the ruling Congress rebelled against his leadership in early March.
 
The Union Cabinet had discussed the situation in the hill state at a meeting here late on March 26 night and decided to recommend the imposition of Central rule in the state to President Pranab Mukherjee under Article 356 of the Constitution.
 
Briefing newspersons in New Delhi on March 27, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Cabinet had taken into account the developments in Uttarakhand during the past nine days and come to the conclusion that Constitutional principles were being violated by the state government and that the state government could not be run in accordance with the Constitution.
 
He said the Assembly had "passed" an Appropriation Bill through a voice vote on March 18, even though as many as 35 of the 67 members present (not counting the Speaker) had sought a division. They had written to the Speaker and the Governor ahead of the sitting of the Assembly on that day and had also informed them later that the Bill could not be considered to have been passed in the circumstances.
 
Mr. Jaitley said video recordings of the day's proceedings in the Assembly showed that the Appropriation Bill had actually "failed", which implied that the State Government was not authorised to incur any expenditure from April 1 onwards.
 
He said Mr. Rawat should have resigned on March 18 itself on the "failure" of the Bill and the continuance of his government after that date was "unconstitutional".
 
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Mr. Jaitley said the state Governor had, in his reports on the situation in the state, said there were serious doubts about the proceedings of the Assembly on March 18.
 
He also said the Governor had advised Mr. Rawat to seek a vote of confidence in the House without much delay, but the latter had decided to convene the Assembly only on March 28 for the purpose. He alleged that the time in between had been used for "allurement and horse-trading". He said the video of an alleged sting operation, released on March 26, had provided evidence of this.
 
After the rebellion by the nine Congress legislators, the party had written to the Speaker of the Assembly, seeking their disqualification, and the Speaker had sent the nine members notices in this regard on Saturday.
 
The nine legislators were later suspended, bringing the effective strength of the 70-member Assemby down to 61, giving an edge to the Harish Rawat group, which claimed the support of a majority in the House. It had the support of 27 Congress legislators and members of the Progressive Democratic Front, which would have taken it through the vote of confidence that the Governor had asked Mr. Rawat to seek on March 28.
 
The Centre's decision to impose President's Rule in Uttarakhand came weeks after Arunachal Pradesh, which was also ruled by the Congress, was brought under President's Rule on January 26 and the state legislative assembly kept in suspended animation.
 
In the 70-member assembly, the Congress has 36 legislators, including the nine rebels, against the BJP's 28. The Congress also had the support of the remaining six belonging to smaller parties.
 
Mr. Rawat had moved the High Court on March 28 seeking revocation of President's Rule in the state and restoration of his government. A single judge bench on March 29 allowed Mr. Rawat to take a floor test on March 31, but the Centre filed an appeal against the order. A two-judge division bench then stayed the floor test.
 
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Quality education needed for reaping demographic dividends: Mukherjee

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Terming universities as “the apex of the education system,” President Pranab Mukherjee has stated that it is therefore incumbent on higher institutions of learning to provide quality education.
 
Delivering the first convocation address at Swami Rama Himalayan University (SRHU) here yesterday, Mr Mukherjee pointed out that the demographic dividend would fructify if the growing number of the youth gets good education, knowledge and skills.
 
“Mere expansion of higher education by establishing more centres of higher learning is not enough. Unless we take care of quality, the objective of preparing young minds into capable, confident and committed individuals will not be met,” he said.
 
“An all-out effort to maintain good standards in our higher academic institutions is required, be it in developing the faculty, nurturing core competencies, establishing linkages with other institutions, networking with the industry, or focusing on research and innovation,” he added.
 
The research areas should be prioritized so as to solve specific socio-economic problems. It is the duty of the institutions to instil in their students core civilizational values - love for their motherland, a sense of responsibility towards their society, and a compassion for all. The higher education system should produce sound professionals with a strong social sensitivity, the President said.
 
Referring to Swami Rama as a multi-faceted personality with great love for his motherland and the place of his birth, he said the Swamy, though anointed as the Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham at a young age, had renounced the spiritual post in order to pursue his yogic-meditative lifestyle.
 
The Swamy established holistic health as a new discipline that had much to offer to allopathic medicine. At Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, he stressed upon the importance of amalgamating the wisdom of the East with the modern technologies of the West, Mr Mukherjee said.
 
“It was heartening to note that what started 25 years ago - with an OPD in a tin shed and a small house for rural development - has bloomed into a beautiful township and a university,” he added.
 
Today, SRHU provides quality higher education in medicine, para-medical sciences, nursing, engineering and management. It serves the rural masses comprising more than 1,200 villages of Uttarakhand. It provides tertiary care services through its 750-bedded multi-specialty hospital and state-of-the-art 250 bed cancer centre.
 
The President noted that SRHU was taking all steps necessary to align itself to international standards in the delivery of quality education. Its Department of Medical Education was designated in 2014 as a Regional Medical Education Training Centre by the Medical Council of India. This unit is involved in faculty development programmes and the development of innovative teaching and assessment tools, the release added.
 
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Mukherjee to attend first convocation of Swami Rama Himalayan University on Friday

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a day's visit to Uttarakhand tomorrow and attend the first convocation of Swami Rama Himalayan University in Dehradun. 
 
The Swami Rama Himalayan University has been promoted by Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust founded by spiritual guru Swami Rama. 
 
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President's Rule imposed in Uttarakhand, day ahead of trust vote

Uttarakhand was brought under President's Rule on Sunday, a day ahead of the trust vote that the Harish Rawat government was scheduled to seek in the state legislative assembly after it was pushed into a crisis when nine legislators of the ruling Congress rebelled against his leadership earlier this month.

File photo of Harish Rawat
File photo of Harish Rawat
Uttarakhand was today brought under President's Rule, a day ahead of the trust vote that the Harish Rawat government was scheduled to seek in the state legislative assembly after it was pushed into a crisis when nine legislators of the ruling Congress rebelled against his leadership earlier this month.
 
The Union Cabinet had discussed the situation in the hill state at a meeting here late last night and decided to recommend the imposition of Central rule in the state to President Pranab Mukherjee under Article 356 of the Constitution.
 
The President accepted the recommendation today, sources said, adding that the the state assembly had been put under suspended animation.
 
Briefing newspersons here this afternoon, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Cabinet had taken into account the developments in Uttarakhand during the past nine days and come to the conclusion that Constitutional principles were being violated by the state government and that the state government could not be run in accordance with the Constitution.
 
He said the Assembly had "passed" an Appropriation Bill through a voice vote on March 18, even though as many as 35 of the 67 members present (not counting the Speaker) had sought a division. They had written to the Speaker and the Governor ahead of the sitting of the Assembly on that day and had also informed them later that the Bill could not be considered to have been passed in the circumstances.
 
Mr. Jaitley said video recordings of the day's proceedings in the Assembly showed that the Appropriation Bill had actually "failed", which implied that the State Government was not authorised to incur any expenditure from April 1 onwards.
 
"This is the first and only example in independent India that a 'failed' Bill has been treated as passed," he said.
 
He said Mr. Rawat should have resigned on March 18 itself on the failure of the Bill and the continuance of his government after that date was "unconstitutional".
 
Mr. Jaitley said Uttarakhand Governor K K Paul had, in his reports on the situation in the state, said there were serious doubts about the proceedings of the Assembly on March 18.
 
He said the Centre would now have to make special provisions to ensure that the state government could continue to incur expenditure from April 1 onwards, otherwise the state administration would have come to a grinding halt.
 
He also said the Governor had advised Mr. Rawat to seek a vote of confidence in the House without much delay, but the latter had decided convene the Assembly only on March 28 for the purpose. He alleged that the time in between had been used for "allurement and horse-trading". He said the video of an alleged sting operation, released yesterday, had provided evidence of this.
 
He also alleged that the anti-defection laws were being applied selectively. A BJP member, who had defied the party's whip on March 18 by remaining absent, had been rewarded with the vice-chairmanship of a government organisation while steps were being taken to disqualify the nine Congress MLAs who had rebelled against his leadership.
 
Mr. Jaitley said that, in the circumstances, the Union Cabinet came to the conclusion that President's Rule be imposed in the state. "There cannot be a better example of the use of Article 356," he added.
 
The Harish Rawat government had plunged into a crisis earlier this month when nine legislators of the ruling Congress rebelled against his leadership. The party had written to the Speaker of the Assembly, seeking their disqualification, and the Speaker had sent the nine members notices in this regard yesterday.
 
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If the nine members had been disqualified, the effective strength of the 70-member Assemby would have come down to 61, giving an edge to the Harish Rawat group, which claimed the support of a majority in the House. It had the support of 27 Congress legislators and members of the Progressive Democratic Front, which would have taken it through the vote of confidence that the Governor had asked Mr. Rawat to seek on Monday.
 
Meanwhile, the rebel Congress MLAs released the video of an alleged sting operation against Mr. Rawat and alleged that he had indulged in horse-trading to ensure the survival of his government.
 
Reacting to the release of the video, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called for immediate imposition of President's rule in the state, saying that governance had broken down completely.
 
Today's decision came weeks after Arunachal Pradesh, which was also ruled by the Congress, was brought under President's Rule on January 26 and the state legislative assembly kept in suspended animation.
 
Mr. Rawat alleged that the BJP government at the Centre had crushed the aspirations of the people of Uttarakhand and murdered Parliamentary traditions and the Constitution.
 
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HCC awarded Rs. 635 crore contract from NTPC

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Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company Ltd (HCC) today said it had been awarded a Rs. 635 crore contract by the public sector NTPC to construct Head Race Tunnel (balance works) for Tapovan Vishnugad Hydro-electric Power Project on the river Dhauliganga in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
 
The project is to be completed in 34 months, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said the order was an item rate contract involving salvaging of Double Shield Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) stuck in the earlier operation by another contractor, refurbishing and putting it in operation to construct 2.84 km long Head Race Tunnel (HRT), with installation of segmental lining. The contract also involves construction of a 1.66 km long tunnel using drill and blast method and concrete lining.
 
Mr. Arun Karambelkar, President & CEO- E&C, HCC Ltd. said “We are pleased to secure this contract, which only manifests the expertise of HCC in managing complex work in difficult terrain. We are confident that our efficient and highly skilled team will not only salvage the stuck Tunnel Boring Machine but will complete the construction of Head Race Tunnel in the stipulated time frame”
 
With this, HCC’s order intake In FY 2015-16 has reached Rs. 5,155 crore. Besides, the company is lowest bidder in six projects worth Rs. 4,300 crore. The combined order backlog is likely to cross Rs. 21,000 crore in FY2015-16, the release added.
 
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IndiGo introduces flights to Dehradun with onward connections to Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo today announced Dehradun as its 40th destination with three daily non-stop fights from Delhi to the capital of Uttarakhand which will further connect Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad as a one-stop flight without any change of aircraft from tomorrow.
 
A press release from the airline said it would connect Chennai to Bangalore and Kolkata to Jaipur with its third flight, respectively, from tomorrow.
 
It will also commence commence additional daily non-stop flights between Kolkata and Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai, Delhi and Bangaore, Delhi and Chennai, Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram and Pune and Thiruvananthapuram. 
 
In addition, IndiGo will also connect Jaipur to Hyderabad with the launch of its second daily non-stop flight, with effect from March 15.
 
Mr. Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo, said, “The announcement of these new flights to and from Dehradun is a progressive step and a landmark occasion for us. We are positive that this new connection between Dehradun and Delhi will boost trade, business and tourism while benefiting thousands of customers.  Adding Dehradun in our network is a testimony of our commitment towards connectivity across the country’s corners bringing more and more people closer to their dreams and new opportunities."
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Uttarkashi area of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Uttarkashi area of Uttarakhand today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.9 N and longitude 78.3 E, occurred at 1320 hours today at a focal depth of 5 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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India-Nepal military training exercise Surya Kiran to be held from Feb 8-21

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The ninth India-Nepal combined battalion-level military training exercise, Surya Kiran, will be conducted at Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand from February 8-21 under the aegis of Panchshul Brigade of Central Command. 
 
During the exercise, an Infantry battalion each from the Indian Army and the Nepalese Army will train together and share their experiences of counter-terrorism operations and jungle warfare in mountainous terrain, an official press release said.
 
The Surya Kiran series of exercises is a bi-annual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India. The aim of this combined training exercise is to enhance interoperability between the Indian and the Nepalese Army units in jungle warfare and counter-terrorism operations in mountainous terrain. The training will also focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), including medical and aviation support.
 
Both the Armies will stand to benefit mutually from shared experiences, the release said. "The combined training, mutual interaction and sharing of experiences between both the countries shall further strengthen the historical military and strategic ties giving further fillip to the bilateral relations and existing strong bonding between both countries," it added.
 
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Punjab to invest Rs. 720 crore in basic urban infra in 16 cities; Uttarakhand Rs. 267 crore in six cities

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Punjab Government will invest Rs. 720 crore in improving basic urban infrastructure in 16 cities while Uttarakhand will spend Rs. 267 crore in six cities under action plans for Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for 2015-16. 
 
Punjab will get central assistance of Rs. 319 crore while Uttarakhand will get Rs. 134 crore under the State Annual Action Plans (SAAP) approved yesterday by an inter-ministerial Apex Committee chaired by Mr. Madhusudhan Prasad, Secretary (Urban Development).
 
As per Atal Mission Guidelines, universal coverage of urban households with water supply and sewerage connections and ensuring water availability at the rate of 135 litres per capita per day gets priority in the plans, followed by provision of storm water drains, urban transport and parks and green spaces, an official press release said.
 
Under the SAAP for 2015-16, Punjab Government will invest Rs. 365 crore in 46 water supply related projects, Rs. 288 crore in 37 sewerage and septage management projects, Rs. 56 crore for improving urban transport in Amritsar and Rs. 12 crore for providing open parks and green spaces in 16 mission cities.
 
In Punjab, coverage of households in 16 mission cities with water supply connections ranged from 28% in Khanna to 93% in Mohali. Water supply is in the range of 67 litres per capita per day in Khanna to 240 litres in Jalandhar as against the norm of 135 lpcd for urban areas.
 
Punjab has reported the best infrastructure in the country in respect of sewerage treatment with availability of 100% sewerage treatment capacity in 12 of the 16 mission cities. Only Amritsar, Barnala, Batala and Firozpur are lagging behind in this regard, for which projects have been proposed under SAAP for 2015-16.
 
Under SAAP for 2015-16, Punjab Government has proposed to invest Rs. 154 crore on various basic infrastructure projects in Amritsar, Rs. 96 crore in Ludhiana, Rs. 73 crore in Batala,  Rs. 73 crore in Khanna, Rs. 56 crore in SAS Nagar, Rs. 46 crore in Barnala, Rs. 44 crore in Jalandhar, Rs. 38 crore in Muktsar, Rs. 33 crore in Abohar, Rs. 33 crore in Pathankot, Rs. 20 crore in Patiala, Rs. 17 crore in Hoshiarput, Rs. 15 crore in Moga, Rs. 11 crore in Firozpur, Rs. 10 crore in Malerkotla and Rs. 2.0 crore in Bhatinda.
 
Uttarakhand Government has proposed to spend Rs. 133 crore in 20 water supply related projects in six mission cities, Rs. 110 crore in six sewerage and septage management projects, Rs. 18 crore in five storm water drainage projects and Rs. 6 crore on provision of open parks and green spaces.
 
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In six Atal Mission cities in Uttarakhand, coverage of households with water connections is 11% in Rudrapur, 15% in Kashipur, 49% in Rourkee, 78% in Dehradun, 80% in Haldwani and 90% in Haridwar.
 
Water supply is at the rate of 45 lpcd in Kashipur, 49 lpcd in Rudrapur, 109 lpcd in Rourkee, 133 lpcd in Haldwani, 135 lpcd in Dehradun  and 187 lpcd in Haridwar.
 
There are no sewerage networks in Rudrapur and Kashipur while the coverage is to the extent of 10% in Haldwani, 15% in Dehradun, 23% in Rourkee and 52% in Haridwar.
 
Under SAAP for 2015-16 under Atal Mission, Uttarakhand Government has proposed to invest Rs. 67 crore in Rudrapur, Rs. 59 crore in Dehradun, Rs. 50 crore in Kathgodam, Rs. 39 crore in Haridwar, Rs. 37 crore in Haldwani and Rs. 37 crore in Roorkee.
 
With the latest approvals, the Ministry of Urban Development has approved city level Service Level Improvement Plans (SLIPs) for 469 cities and towns in 20 States with a total project expenditure of Rs. 20,137 crore out of which central assistance will be about Rs. 10,000 crore, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Chamoli region of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale, shook the Chamoli region of Uttarakhand last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.2°N and longitude 79.3°E, occurred at 2120 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Chamoli region of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Chamoli region of Uttarakhand this morning.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.6°N and longitude 79.6°E, occurred at 0817 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts border region between Uttarakhand, Nepal

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, shook the border region between the Indian state of Uttarakhand and Nepal this afternoon.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 29.7°N and longitude  80.5°E, occurred at 1355 hours at a focal depth of 15 km.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale, was recorded in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 29.5 N and longitude 80.3 E, occurred at 0534 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale, shook the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand this afternoon, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 29.7°N and longitude 80.3°E, occurred at 1457 hours at a focal depth of 33 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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ADB to provide $ 123 m loan for tourism facilities in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh

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The Government of India signed a loan with Asian Development Bank (ADB) here today for $ 123.51 million for tranche 3 of the Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism to continue upgrading tourism infrastructure and services in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. 
 
An official press release said the loan would be used for development and conservation of places of tourist attractions. It will also be used to improve basic tourism facilities, and to build the capacity of sector agencies and local communities in the three states.
 
The third tranche loan is part of the $250 million multi-tranche financing facility that ADB approved in 2010. 
 
Ms M. Teresa Kho, Country Director for ADB in India, signed the loan agreement on behalf of ADB while Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance signed it on behalf of the Government of India. 
 
The project agreements were signed by Mr. V C Pharkha, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism, Government of Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Navjot Randhawa, Project Director IDIPT, Government of Punjab and Mr Asheesh Joshi, Additional Secretary, Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand for the State Governments of Himachal, Punjab and Uttarakhand, respectively. 
 
Ms. Kho said the loan would support conservation of important heritage structures, including some century-old structures, new facilities including centres for arts and crafts in the three states. Eco-parks and eco-tourism will also be developed to help the states attract more tourists. 
 
Mr. Raj Kumar said that upgraded tourism infrastructure like provisioning of drinking water, drainage, street lighting, solid waste management and improvements to approach roads at selected tourist destinations would enhance tourism environment in the three states. He said that the involvement of local communities in the management of natural and cultural heritage sites would create employment for poor and vulnerable households. 
 
To improve income opportunities for the local communities, more than 4,000 community members are set to be trained in tourism-related skills such as guides, crafts, and other recreational activities. At least 30 community-based societies will be made operational in the management of natural and cultural heritage sites, an official press release added.
 
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Modi to visit Chandigarh and Uttarakhand on Friday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Chandigarh tomorrow when he will inaugurate the new civil air terminal at the city's airport and attend the 34th convocation of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
 
An official press release said Mr. Modi would also inaugurate a new housing scheme and address a public meeting at Sector 25 in Chandigarh.
 
Later in the day, the Prime Minister will visit Swami Dayananda Saraswati Ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, the release added.
 
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Cabinet okays amendments in the Central List of OBCs in Gujarat, Uttarakhand

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for amendments in the Central List of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in respect of two States, Gujarat and Uttarakhand, for making suitable amendments in the Central List of OBCs, by way inclusion/correction of castes/communities as per the advice received from the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
 
An official press release said that the following castes/ communities -- Sipai and Patni Jamat or Turk Jamat (all Muslims) in Gujarat and Kahar and Tanwar Singhariya in Uttarakhand -- had been included in the Central List of OBCs in the two States.
 
The amendments will enable the persons belonging to these castes/communities to avail the benefits of reservation in Government services and posts as well as in Central Educational Institutions as per the existing policy. They will also become eligible for benefit under various welfare schemes, scholarships and so on being administered by the Central Government, which are at present available to persons belonging to the OBCs.
 
The NCBC has been tendering advice to the Central Government from time to time. A total of 35 notifications have been issued so far and till date, a total of 2404 "entries" (an "entry" means a caste, including its synonyms, sub-castes etc.) have been notified in the Central list of OBCs for 24 States and 6 Union Territories. 
 
The last such notification was issued on 14.7.2015. 
 
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Minor earthquake jolts Pithoragarh area of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.0°N and longitude  80.4°E, occurred at 2229 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Chamoli district of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook Chamoli district of Uttarakhand early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.1°N and longitude 78.8°E, occurred at 0518 hours at a focal depth of 26 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Tehri Garhwal area of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Tehri Garhwal area of Uttarakhand in the early hours of today.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.4°N and longitude 78.3°E, occurred at 0203 hours today at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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17 dead, 22 injured as bus falls into gorge in Almora district of Uttarakhand

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At least 17 people died and 22 others suffered injuries when the Delhi-bound bus they were travelling in veered off the road and fell into a gorge in Almora district of Uttarakhand today, official sources said.
 
The victims included the driver of the Uttarakhand State Roadways bus, while the conductor was among those injured, District Magistrate Vinod Kumar Suman told NetIndian over the telephone.
 
He said the mishap occurred at Thyadi, about 65 km from Almora, around noon when the bus was on its way from Pithoragarh to Delhi.
 
In all, the bus was carrying 39 people. Police, district administration and other emergency personnel rushed to the spot and helped remove the injured to a hosptial at Dhauladevi, he said.
 
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat expressed grief over the loss of lives and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed, Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured and Rs 20,000 for those who suffered minor injuries.
 
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One dead, three injured in mishap at AC workshop at ONGC institute in Dehradun

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A contractual worker died and three others suffered injuries in an explosion in an air-conditioner compressor unit while they were carrying out a routine maintenance job in an air-conditioning workshop at the Institute of Drilling Technology in Dehradun yesterday.
 
A press relase from the public sector Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) said the mishap occured around 11.30 am yesterday. The workers belonged to A2Z, a facility management company.
 
The four mechanics were rushed to the ONGC hospital there, where one of them, Mahipal Singh Khatri, 44, was declared dead on arrival.
 
Another mechanic, who sufferd about 30 percent burns, is still under observation in Max Hospital in Dehradun. "His condition is stated to be critical but stable," the release said. The remaining two mechanics were discharged after first aid, it said.
 
ONGC has constituted a three member committee under GGM-Head HSE (Health, Safety, Environment) to ascertain the cause of the accident and to suggest improvement and remedial measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future. 
 
ONGC has announced an ex gratia of Rs. 5 lakh to the bereaved family.
 
"ONGC deeply mourns the loss of precious life in this accident. The company also ensured all medical support to the injured," the release added.
 
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BHEL commissions 4th 82.5 MW at Uttarakhand hydel project

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the fourth unit of 82.5 MW unit at the 330 MW Shrinagar Hydro Electric Project (HEP) in Uttarakhand.
 
All the four units of the project were commissined in quick succession within a span of just 60 days, a press release from the company said.
 
The greenfield hydro electric project, consisting of four units of 82.5 MW each, has been set up by Alaknanda Hydro Power Corporation Limited (GVK Group). The project is located near Shrinagar town in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand on the Alakananda, a major tributary of the Ganga, a perennial river in Uttarakhand. 
 
The project is designed to utilise the waters of River Alaknanda by way of a diversion dam, it said.
 
Power generation from Shrinagar HEP will result in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and will help in achieving a low carbon development path for the state as well as the nation, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Chamoli area of Uttarakhand

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Chamoli area of Uttarakhand this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.4°N and longitude 79.2°E, occurred at 1723 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Mukherjee to address special session of Uttarakhand Assembly on May 18

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to Dehradun in Uttarakhand on May 18-19, an official press release said here today.
 
During the visit, he will address a special session of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly on May 18, the release added.
 
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