Today Picture

U’khand flood: Artificial lake receding fast in Chamoli

SDRF’s Deputy Inspector General Ridhim Aggarwal says, “The SDRF mountaineering team has opened the outlet of the lake from the earlier 20 feet to the existing 50 feet with the help of the villagers in 3 days. With this the water level in the lake has receded by one feet.”

Indo-Tibetan Border Police, SDRF and members of other sister organisations are conducting a special operation at the artificial lake, which was formed after a landslide blocked the flow of Rishiganga river in the recent flash flood in Chamoli district.

In a move to increase the flow of water from the artificial lake to Rishiganga river, near Muranda, the team are removing obstructions like tree trunks, stones and debris to improve the discharge.

SDRF’s Deputy Inspector General Ridhim Aggarwal says, “The SDRF mountaineering team has opened the outlet of the lake from the earlier 20 feet to the existing 50 feet with the help of the villagers in 3 days. With this the water level in the lake has receded by one feet.”

A team of ITBP, SDRF and other agencies are presently camping at the lake site. The administration is alert with the Indian Meteorological Department forecast for light rainfall on 25 and 26 February and moderate rainfall in the Tapovan area on 27 February.

For monitoring the water level of the lake and flow of Rishiganga the agencies have installed a water level sensor and alarm system at Reini village.

Search and rescue operations continued at the disaster affected area on Wednesday. Agencies are working overtime to restore connectivity. Many pedestrian and motorable bridges connecting over a dozen remote villages were swept away by the 7 February flash flood. BRO is constructing a motorable bailey bridge to connect the Niti valley near Reini village. Affected villagers are presently commuting through the foot over bridge and trolleys. Process is presently going on to launch a motorable trolley at Juaagwaad.

Matter of pride that Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium has become world’s largest cricket stadium: President Kovind

He noted that the stadium was not only the largest in the world but also provides world-class facilities for various sporting activities.

It is a matter of pride for us that the Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium has become the world’s largest cricket stadium with a capacity of 1.32 lakh spectators, said President Ram Nath Kovind at the inauguration of the Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium and laid the foundation stone of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

He noted that the stadium was not only the largest in the world but also provides world-class facilities for various sporting activities. He congratulated all officials, agencies and partners of the Gujarat Cricket Association, who were instrumental in giving the present shape to Narendra Modi Stadium.

Appreciating the attributes of this Stadium, the President opined that with a gold rating of green-building certification, it is also a good example of eco-friendly development. The stadium showcases the aspirations and capabilities of New India that has made a strong mark on the world stage.

The President said that the dominance that India has achieved in cricket reinforces the belief that not only in other sports but also in the areas of development, our country has the potential to achieve a higher position in the world.

The President said that India is called ‘Power House of Cricket’ or ‘Hub of Cricket’. Therefore, it is quite appropriate that the world’s largest cricket stadium is also now in our country. He appreciated the efforts put in building this stadium which was started under the guidance of the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi and then efficiently followed up by Amit Shah as Chairman of Gujarat Cricket Association.

Mamata Banerjee at Abhishek Banerjee’s residence before CBI’s questioning of Rujira

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday visited the residence of nephew and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee ahead of the CBI questioning of his wife in the coal-smuggling scam.

The TMC supremo was at Abhishek’s house for around ten minutes. The CBI team arrived there within minutes of Mamata’s departure.

served a notice to be a witness in the ongoing coal pilferage case probe, ABP Ananda reported. On the other hand, a section of Bengali media has reported that CBI sought to question Rujira after discovering links of monetary transaction between her and the main accused of the coal case.

Rujira on Monday responded to the CBI’s notice in the alleged multi-crore coal pilferage scam and asked the central agency to send its team to her residence for examination between 11 am and 3 pm on Tuesday.

The CBI had on Sunday asked her to join the probe.

The CBI notice to Abhishek’s wife came days after he had lodged a defamation case against Amit Shah. The Calcutta High Court has summoned the Union Home Minister to appear before itself physically or through a lawyer on Monday.

Meanwhile, earlier this week on Friday, CBI had raided 13 locations across four districts of West Bengal in connection with the multi-crore coal scam, in which a businessman called Anup Majhi alias Lala stands as one of the main accused.

The raids were carried out at the premises of Amiya Steel Pvt Ltd in Kolkata and Bankura and that of Joydeb Mandal, the alleged deputy of the suspected kingpin of the racket Manjhi, news agency PTI reported. The investigating agency had conducted raids in Paschim Bardhaman and Purulia as well.

It is alleged that Manjhi is involved in illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora areas, the CBI said.

The CBI acted on information from “reliable sources” that indicated illegal excavation and theft of coal in the leasehold area of ECL in “connivance” with officials of ECL, CISF and Railways.

With PTI inputs

Fuels prices surge after2-day pause. Check latest rates here

SNS Web | New Delh

After a pause for two consecutive days, oil marketing companies again raised the retail price of automobile fuel prices on Tuesday.

In the national capital, the rates were of petrol and diesel were hiked by 35 paisa per litre each. As a result, petrol is now priced at Rs 90.93 a litre and diesel Rs 81.32 a litre in Delhi.

Across the country as well the petrol and diesel price increased between 32-40 paisa per litre depending on the level of local duty at the state level.

Since February 9, the price has gone up by Rs 3.63 per litre for petrol while diesel rate has risen by Rs 3.84 a litre in Delhi.

The increase in the previous weeks has taken petrol price across historic high levels of Rs 100 a litre in several cities across the country.

In Mumbai, petrol prices are just Rs 3 per litre short (Rs 97.34 a litre) of touching the three digit mark for the very first time ever. Diesel prices in the city are closing in on Rs 90 a litre (Rs 88.44/ litre).

Meanwhile, petrol price in Chennai is at Rs 92.90 per litre and diesel at Rs 86.31 a litre.

The poll-bound West Bengal reduced the state VAT by Rs 1 on February 20. As a result, petrol and diesel price in the region dropped to Rs 91.12 a litre and Rs 84.20 a litre respectively.

In all other metros, petrol is over Rs 90 a litre while diesel is well over Rs 80 a litre. Premium petrol crossed Rs 100 per litre mark in several cities of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra a few days back.

The latest hike in fuel prices is caused by the movement in product price in global markets. The crude oil is also on fire with benchmark Brent crude gaining over 2 per cent on Tuesday to reach closer to $67 a barrel now. It was less than $60 a barrel just a few days back.

Since fuel prices are benchmarked to a 15-day rolling average of global refined products’ prices and dollar exchange rate, pump prices can be expected to remain northbound over the next few days even if crude price stabilises.

The petrol and diesel prices have increased 25 times in 2021 with the two auto fuels increasing by Rs 7.22 and Rs 7.45 per litre, respectively so far this year.

Oil companies executives said that petrol and diesel prices may increase further in coming days as retail prices may have to be balanced in line with global developments to prevent OMCs from making loss on sale of auto fuels.

Karnataka mine blast: Several feared dead

At least four persons are reported to have died when gelatin sticks exploded early Tuesday in a village bordering Chikkaballapur and Bengaluru.

The blast occurred in a stone quarry unit situated in Hirenagavalli village. One person has reportedly sustained injuries.

Hirenagavalli is a small hamlet in Chikballapur taluk in Chikballapur district. It is located 86 km from tech hub Bengaluru.

According to the initial inputs, the explosion happened when they were trying to dispose off the gelatin sticks used for quarrying.

“This incident took place when mine owners were trying to dispose off gelatin sticks when they got a whiff that their mine might be raided once again to check whether they have stored any explosives illegally,” an investigation officer told IANS.

The officer added that all those involved in this incident were non-experts in handling explosives, therefore the accident.

Karnataka Health Minister, who is also district incharge minister, K. Sudhakar visited the spot and told reporters that the state government would not succumb to any pressure and act sternly against all those responsible for this incident.

Reacting sharply, Karnataka Mines and Geology Minister, Murugesh R. Nirani said that the state government will conduct thorough inqury into the incident.

This is the second such incident in Karnataka after the one that had occurred in Shivamogga district on January 21.


India, China begin military talks to de-escalate tension at Hot Springs, Gogra, Depsang

The representatives during the current round of “corps commander level” meet will also check the status of disengagement at northern and southern banks of the Pangong Lake.

Indian and Chinese military dialogue to de-escalate tension at the Line of Actual Control started on Saturday morning. The 10th round of Corps Commander meeting started at 10 a.m. at Moldo on Chinese side.

Indian military delegation is led by Lieutenant General P.G.K. Menon, Commander of 14 Corps based in Leh. The Corps Commander will discuss disengagement at friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang plains.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalations here took place in 2013.

However, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across Line of Actual Control.

“The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer,” said an official.

The representatives during the current round of “corps commander level” meet will also check the status of disengagement at northern and southern banks of the Pangong Lake.

However, just a day ahead of the meeting, China began a “psywar”, where it released a video of Galwan Valley clashes on social media accusing Indian Army of being aggressive and leading to the clash.

Indian Army didn’t react to the video of the clash released by China and maintained silence over the issue.

The video was released on a private news channel in China and thereafter it went viral.

It is after eight months that China has released a video of the clash which took place on June 15 last year. India had lost 20 soldiers and China only this week claimed clearly its four casualties, earler it had been evasive.

China, for the first time, has released the names of their soldiers killed in the clashes on Friday.

So far disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake has taken place.

It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing has agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.

Indian Army team along with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) team are physically verifying and re-verifying disengagement at Pangong Lake.

The agreement states that Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake. Further, there would be temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.

The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance. The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers. Indian has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China dispute it claims till Finger 4.

India and China are engaged in a ten-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lake, both in the waters and the bank as Chinese incursions increased in early May last year.

R-Day violence not due to intel failure, says Delhi Police chief

Technology has been used extensively to investigate Northeast Delhi riots cases, asserts Shrivastava.

Delhi Police commissioner S N Shrivastava today said the violence that broke out in the national capital on Republic Day was not due to intelligence failure.

He charged that the farmers protesting against the Centre’s controversial agriculture laws had betrayed the trust of the city police by not following pre-decided routes during the tractor parade in Delhi on 26 January.

Addressing the annual press conference at Delhi Police headquarters, Shrivastava said there were apprehensions, which was why barricades were placed and the farmers were stopped on that day. He said 152 people have been arrested so far in connection with the Republic Day violence.

Thousands of farmers protesting the Centre’s three new farm laws had clashed with the police during their tractor parade. Many of the protesters, driving tractors, reached the Red Fort and entered the monument.

Some protesters even hoisted religious flags on its domes and a flagstaff at the ramparts, where the national flag is unfurled on Independence Day

Over 500 police personnel were injured and one protester died on that day. Replying to a question about the possibility of an intelligence failure on 26 January, Shrivastava claimed that “there was no intelligence failure”.

“We had been holding talks with them (farmers). We had permitted them to take out the tractor rally. As per the agreement, certain terms and conditions were laid down and they were given designated routes to take out their tractor parade.

“But they betrayed the trust of Delhi Police and resorted to violence. The police discharged its duties very well,” he claimed. He added that the farmer leaders have also responded to the notices served on them by the city police. Referring to the devastating February 2020 communal riots in Northeast Delhi — the national capital’s worst violence since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots — the Delhi Police chief said technology was used extensively to investigate over 750 cases related to it that led to the arrest of over 200 people.

Shrivastava said 755 FIRs were registered in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots, claiming that his force ensured a “free and fair” investigation. It is another matter that a number of city police personnel were alleged to have been hand in glove with the rioters in several cases of violence. Communal violence had broken out in Northeast Delhi on 24 February last year after clashes between citizenship law supporters and its protesters spiralled, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

“You are aware of the riots which led to 53 deaths and 581 injuries. Riots reached its peak on February 24 and 25 last year. A total of 755 FIRs were registered and we made it a point that no one had a grievance that their complaint was not acknowledged,” Shrivastava said.

He said three SITs were formed to investigate the cases. All the important cases (around 60) were transferred to the three SITs under the crime branch. One of the case was registered to unearth the conspiracy behind the riots, which was investigated by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police while the remaining cases were investigated by northeast district police, he said.

According to the police, overall 1,818 people have been arrested so far in 400 cases in connection with Northeast Delhi riots. “For ensuring that the investigation is free and fair, use of technology was made and the evidences which are based on science and technology cannot be refuted,” he said.

Elaborating on the use of technology, the Delhi Police chief said 231 accused were arrested on the basis of CCTV footage. “Of them, 137 were identified through FRS (Facial Recognition System) when matched with criminal records and remaining 94 were through driving license photographs,” Shrivastava said.

He said the investigation teams used video analytics and FRS to analyse CCTV footage to identify the accused, retrieved deleted data from electronic devices, used geo-location to ascertain the presence of the accused and drone mapping for crime scene reconstruction. The use of DNA finger printing, e-Vahan database, facial recognition, fund flow analysis and forensic teams comprising physical, chemical, biological and ballistic analysis of videos and photographs through open sources were also used to investigate the cases, he added.

NASA rover sends 1st colour images of Mars, a selfie too

In the following weeks, Perseverance will test its robotic arm and take its first, short drive.

NASAs Perseverance rover has sent some stunning photos of the Red Planet, including a high-resolution colour selfie taken during its landing.

The selfie is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on February 18.

“While NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover sent back a stop-motion movie of its descent, Perseverance’s cameras are intended to capture video of its touchdown and this new still image was taken from that footage, which is still being relayed to Earth and processed,” the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.

A camera aboard the descent stage captured the shot.

Unlike with past rovers, the majority of Perseverance’s cameras capture images in colour.

After landing, two of the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) captured views from the front and rear of the rover, showing one of its wheels in the Martian dirt.

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.

The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (the European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

In the days to come, engineers will pore over the rover’s system data, updating its software and beginning to test its various instruments.

In the following weeks, Perseverance will test its robotic arm and take its first, short drive.

It will be at least one or two months until Perseverance will find a flat location to drop off Ingenuity, the mini-helicopter attached to the rover’s belly, and even longer before it finally hits the road, beginning its science mission and searching for its first sample of Martian rock and sediment.

PM Modi asks VBU to help farmers, artisans access global market

Modi said some highly educated and skilled people were spreading terror and violence in the world, while others were toiling day and night to free people from a global epidemic like Covid-19.

Addressing the annual convocation of Visva-Bharati University through video conferencing today, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is the Chancellor of this Central University, said that the new ‘National Education Policy’ is a significant step towards a selfreliant India.

In order to find solutions to the ongoing problems, Modi appealed to the students’ community to adopt a “nation first” approach instead of being a part of the crisis

Praising the world view of poet-philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, Modi asked VisvaBharati students to help farmers and artisans of nearby villages find global markets. He said Guru Rabindranath Tagore had not envisioned the university as a typical educational institution but one that will help Indian culture realise its full potential globally.

He asked the institution’s students to prepare a 25-point vision document for the next 25 years that will lead all education establishments in the country to emulate it and enhance India’s image globally.

“A starting point could be that the students under mentorship of teachers of this inspirational institution begin helping farmers, artisans living in villages nearby to find global markets for their products. That will be a step towards building an ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) Bharat,” he said.

He said Bengal can become an example of how unity can boost national growth and progress. “Bengal is an inspiration for Ek Bharat-Shreshth Bharat campaign. Visva Bharati will play a big role in the 21st-century knowledge economy, taking Indian knowledge and identity to every corner of the world. Students should prepare a vision document for the next 25 years about the 25 biggest goals of Visva Bharati in 2047,” he said.

He told the gathering that with knowledge comes responsibility and the knowledge attained by the students was not theirs alone but a legacy for future generations. “Your knowledge is not only yours but society’s… it is the heritage of the country. Your knowledge and skill can make a nation proud or push society into the darkness of slander and ruin,” he said.

Modi said some highly educated and skilled people were spreading terror and violence in the world, while others were toiling day and night to free people from a global epidemic like Covid-19. “It is not about ideology but the mindset, whether it is positive or negative,” he said.

Visva-Bharati University, situated at Birbhum’s Santiniketan was founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1921. It is one of the oldest Central Universities in the country. In May 1951, Visva-Bharati University was declared to be a Central University and ‘an Institution of National Importance’ by an Act of Parliament. The PM is the Chancellor of this university.

More than 2,500 students received their degrees in the convocation. Bengal Governor and Rector of Visva-Bharati, Jagdeep Dhankhar, Union Education Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and VBU vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty were present on this occasion.

(With input from PTI)

Amit Shah summoned by court in defamation case filed by TMC MP

Reacting on the development, Bengal BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharjee said that the matter would be looked into by the lawyer of Amit Shah.

A court in West Bengal on Friday issued summons to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to appear either personally or through a lawyer before it on February 22 in connection with a defamation case lodged against him by Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee.

The designated MP/MLA court at Bidhannagar asked Shah to appear in person or through a lawyer at 10 a.m. next Monday.

The judge ordered that Shah’s presence either personally or through a lawyer is required to respond to a charge of defamation under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (Punishment for defamation).

In a release, Sanjay Basu, lawyer of Banerjee, nephew of Chief Minister and ruling Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, claimed that Shah had passed certain defamatory comments against the Lok Sabha member at a BJP rally in Kolkata on August 11, 2018.

Reacting on the development, Bengal BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharjee said that the matter would be looked into by the lawyer of Amit Shah.

“However, we are both in the ground and in the court. Legal action would be deal with legally. As the TMC leaders are unable to deal the issues raised by the BJP, they are trying to take shelter of the court.”