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India starts dispatching Covid-19 shots to neighbouring countries


An AN-32 aircraft carrying Indian shots arrived in Thimphu in the afternoon to deliver 150,000 doses of Covishield vaccine.

India today set in motion the process of delivering Coronavirus shots to neighbouring countries and key partners with shipments of the vaccine reaching the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives.

An AN-32 aircraft carrying Indian shots arrived in Thimphu in the afternoon to deliver 150,000 doses of Covishield vaccine. Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering and Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj were present at the ceremony at which the consignment was handed over to Bhutanese officials. Another consignment arrived at Male where it was received by Maldivian officials and Indian High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir.

The MEA said “supplies under grant assistance” would be shipped to Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles while Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius await regulatory clearances to receive the vaccines.

Bangladesh said it expected to receive a gift of two million doses of Covishield tomorrow. Dhaka is yet to start its vaccination programme and has ordered a further 30 million doses of the shot.

“The Pharmacy of the World will deliver to overcome the Covid challenge,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Twitter.

Prior to the delivery of vaccines to other countries, India also conducted a training programme, covering administrative and operational aspects, for immunization managers, cold chain officers, communication officers and data managers of the recipient nations, both at national and provincial levels.




Bomb disposal squad, SOG declared classified category of J&K Police


Meanwhile, DGP Dilbag Singh has welcomed the decision regarding SOG and BDS that will provide promotional avenues to officers and jawans.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has declared the Special Operation Group (SOG) and Bomb Disposal Squads (BDS) as a classified category of the J&K Police.

The decision will benefit 2288 officers and Jawans working on the anti-terror front and 179 Bomb Disposal Squad personnel of the Police.

Meanwhile, the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) which met under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary J&K BVR Subrahmanyam, Advisor to Lt Governor Ladakh Umang Narula, Home secretary J&K Shaleen Kabra and DGP J&K Dilbag Singh has cleared promotion of 1996 batch IPS officers to the rank of ADGP which includes IGP Jammu Zone Mukesh Singh, IGP Crime MK Sinha, and IGP Armed Police, Jammu Zone Danesh Rana.

The DPC also cleared three DIGs of 2007 IPS batch, Sujit Kumar, Vivek Gupta and M Suleman Choudhary for confirmation as DIG and DIG Doda-Kishtwar- Ramban Range Abdul Jabbar for selection grade level 13 (IPS, 2008 Batch).
2017 IPS batch officers Nikhil Borkar, Ms. Mohita Sharma, Ms. Tanushree and Anayat Choudhary have been cleared for promotion as SP.

Meanwhile, DGP Dilbag Singh has welcomed the decision regarding SOG and BDS that will provide promotional avenues to officers and jawans.




PM Modi, CM Banerjee condole loss of lives due to road accident in Jalpaiguri, announce compensation


The Prime Minister announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives and Rs 50,000 each to those injured from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have expressed their condolences over the loss of lives and announced ex gratia due to a road accident in Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal.

The Prime Minister announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives and Rs 50,000 each to those injured from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister said, “The road accident in Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri (West Bengal) is extremely anguishing. In this time of sadness, prayers with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon.

From the PMNRF, Ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each would be given to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the accident in West Bengal. Rs. 50,000 each would be given to those injured.”

The road accident in Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri (West Bengal) is extremely anguishing. In this time of sadness, prayers with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon: PM @narendramodi

— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 20, 2021

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh each to the next of kin of those who were killed in the accident and Rs 50,000 each to those who were seriously injured.

The CM also said Rs 25,000 would be given to those whose injuries are not serious.

“The loss cannot be compensated. But we would like to tell the families that the government is with them. We are providing compensation to the next of kin of the deceased and the injured persons. Our local MLA Sourav Chakraborty is already there and state minister Aroop Biswas is rushing to the spot,” said Mamata Banerjee.

Fourteen members, including four children, of a marriage party were killed and 10 others injured due to a collision between a stone-laden truck and their three vehicles in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri on Tuesday, officials said.

The cars of the marriage party were going towards Dhupguri on the wrong side of the road and the collision took place due to dense fog, a senior police officer said.

All the injured are being treated at a hospital.

Police said that a vehicle collided head-on with a boulder-loaded truck whose driver lost control of the vehicle, hit the divider, and slipped towards its right side. Two other vehicles coming from the wrong side collided with the truck due to which boulders loaded in the vehicle fell on the vehicles. In all, four vehicles were damaged.

Police said that the accident happened due to low visibility and that the driver of the truck has survived and has been taken into custody for negligent driving.

(With agency inputs)




Donald Trump leaves White House for last time, might float own political party


According to the reports pouring in from the USA, he is “very seriously” contemplating over the idea of floating Patriot Party, his own political outfit.

US President Donald Trump left the White House for the last time early on Wednesday morning.

Donald Trump is skipping the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden, thus breaking a century-old tradition.

His term ends at 12 noon (US time).

Accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Donald Trump flew from the White House lawn on Marine One, a presidential chopper, to the Joint Base Andrews where a small farewell ceremony has been planned before he uses the presidential jet for one final time – to fly home to Florida’s Palm Beach.

He paused to speak to a small group of reporters before boarding the chopper.

Invitations have been sent to several Trump aides, present and former, to attend the farewell ceremony, with each guest allowed to bring five guests in a bid to gather a sizeable crowd. However, with the list comprising many with whom the parting had been acrimonious, it seemed not much attention had been given to vetting it.

Several people, said to be invited, had expressed their reluctance to attend the event.

Top leaders, including Vice President Mike Pence, and leaders of the Republican Party in the Congress, were also slated to give the event a miss. They are supposed to join Biden at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle for morning mass.

Donald Trump had, on January 8, announced that he will not attend his successor Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony. The announcement was widely expected.

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump had tweeted.

Twitter and Facebook had suspended Donald Trump over posts accused of inflaming violence in the US Capitol.

The unprecedented sanctions came after the president took to social media to repeat his numerous false claims about fraud and other impropriety in the election he lost to Joe Biden.

According to the reports pouring in from the USA, he is “very seriously” contemplating over the idea of floating Patriot Party, his own political outfit.

(With IANS inputs)




‘Farm law panel has no power, no question of bias’: Supreme Court


Chief Justice SA Bobde said, “We gave power to hear everyone and submit report to us. Where is the question of bias? No need to brand people and malign them, and on top of it cast aspersion on court.”

The Supreme Court on Wednesday took ‘serious objections’ to criticism by farmers for the committee that the court formed to resolve the impasse over the farm laws, for which thousands of farmers are protesting at Delhi borders.

Chief Justice SA Bobde said, “We gave power to hear everyone and submit report to us. Where is the question of bias? No need to brand people and malign them, and on top of it cast aspersion on court.”

The apex court has asked the government to respond to the petitions seeking reconstitution of the committee formed. The top court observed that a person will not be disqualified from the committee only because the member had an opinion on the subject.

The protesting farmers and several opposition parties have raised objections over the four-member panel formed by the court as members had expressed views in the favour of the farm laws. A member of the panel, Bhupinder Singh Mann, president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) had recused himself from the committee.

Chief Justice SA Bobde while stressing that the experts ‘are brilliant minds in the agricultural field’ said, “You unthinkingly cast aspersions. Someone expressed opinion… he becomes disqualified? Mann had asked for modification of laws you are saying he is for laws.”

He further added, “You cannot brand people like this. People should have opinion. Even the best judges have certain opinion even they delivered judgments on the other side.”

The top court in the hearing noted, “We entertained the issue in the interest of public and farmers. If you do not want to appear don’t appear. Do not brand people. We are finding solution to this problem. Public opinion is important and it will not determine the outcome.”

The committee constitutes of Pramod Kumar Joshi, an agricultural economist, Anil Ghanwat, the chief of Shetkari Sanghatana, Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices apart from BKU president Bhupinder Singh Mann.

Thousands of farmers are protesting at Delhi borders as they want the government to repeal the three farm laws. The protesting farmers fear that the farm laws leave them vulnerable in the hands of big corporate houses.

The Supreme Court on January 12 had stayed the implementation of the three farm laws. So far, the government has held nine rounds of talks with 40 farmer unions have but have failed to end the deadlock.

The tenth round of discussion is taking place today.




Centre, farmers to hold 10th round of talks even as protests enter 56th day


Apart from revoking the farm laws, the farmers are demanding a legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at Minimum Support Price (MSP) but the government says it is ready to bring about amendments in these laws.

The tenth round of talks between protesting farmers and the Centre would be held today even as the protests on the Delhi borders continued for the 56th day on Wednesday.

The ninth round of talks between farmers demanding revocation of the three farm laws and the centre held on January 15 had ended with no progress towards ending the stalemate.

Apart from revoking the farm laws, the farmers are demanding a legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at Minimum Support Price (MSP) but the government says it is ready to bring about amendments in these laws.

Over 40 representatives of farmer organisations present in the previous rounds of talks would meet with three Union Ministers at 2 pm at the Vigyan Bhavan. The meeting was earlier scheduled to be held on January 19 but was postponed by a day.

Kirpa Singh, a farmer leader from Punjab said that farmer leaders would first like to deliberate on their core demand for the repeal of the three laws during the latest talks.

Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Punjab-based farmer leader and Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) General Secretary said, “In the previous talks, we urged the Union government to discuss the MSP issue. We will again discuss it in this meeting as well.”

He also said that the issue of “harassment” of those supporting the farmers’ agitation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) would again be brought up in Wednesday’s meeting.

He also asserted that all farmer unions and others spearheading the farmers’ movement were united and would continue the agitation till their demands were not accepted.

As for Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s remark that the farmer unions should discuss the new farm laws clause-wise, farmer leaders said that much discussion has been done on this issue for many days and they would rather like to discuss their core demand on the repeal of the laws.

The farmers are demanding the repeal of The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020, and law on procurement of crops at MSP.

The farmers have been sitting on Delhi’s borders since November 26, 2020.

(With IANS inputs)




Centre convenes all-party meet on Jan 30 ahead of Budget session


Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on Tuesday that corona tests for members attending the Parliament session will be mandatory.

The Modi government has called an all-party meeting on January 30 to hold discussions ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget in Parliament on February 1.

The Centre has invited leaders of all political parties in both the Houses to the proposed meeting slated to begin at 11.30 am through videoconference. Sources said the National Democratic Alliance parties too will meet on the same day.

Parliament’s Budget session will be held in two phseses amid all precautions against coronavirus — from January 29 to February 15, and from March 8 to April 8.

The all-party meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP’s Rajya Sabha leader Thawarchand Gehlot, Deputy Leader Piyush Goyal, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi, Arjun Ram Meghwal and V Muralitharan.

The one-hour Question Hour has been restored in the Budget session, which was suspended during the Monsoon session in September 2020 during corona pandemic.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on Tuesday that corona tests for members attending the Parliament session will be mandatory.




Ladakh to be made renewable energy hub of country


The Minister exhorted the executing agencies participating in the meeting to submit a comprehensive project report with required data, conduct surveys, study feasibility, financial requirements, set time frames and give a go-ahead to start implementing the projects on the ground at the earliest.

The government has decided to build the union territory (UT) of Ladakh the renewable energy hub of the country and also take steps to make the cold desert region carbon neutral by tapping geothermal, wind, solar and hydro energy.

These decisions were taken on Tuesday in a meeting that was presided by RK Singh, union minister of power. Ladakh’s Lt. Governor RK Mathur was also present through video conferencing in the meeting to discuss the renewable energy potentials and roadmap for carbon-neutral Ladakh.

During the meeting, a detailed discussion was made on the objectives, plan of action, bottlenecks and solutions to make Ladakh the renewable energy hub of India. Issues concerning Ladakh power scenario, energy demand and possibilities of replacing diesel with green hydrogen energy for electricity, heating and transportation purposes were deliberated at length.

MNRE, SECI, ONGC, NTPC and PGCIL officials apprised the Minister of the proposed pilot projects, other projects in pipelines, the present status of progress and current renewable energy initiatives to make Ladakh carbon neutral. The projects included harnessing the maximum potential of solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy combination to provide 24×7 electricity supply with increased storage facility.

Mathur stressed that green hydrogen would be the best alternative to make Ladakh carbon-neutral considering its production feasibility, climatic, geographic and road conditions of the region. He said that the success of 200 KW Green Hydrogen CHP pilot project at the SNM Hospital, Leh, would be a big achievement meeting the need of electricity, heating and oxygen and the model can be scaled up for the use of army and tourists.

The Lt. Governor informed the Minister that a committee will soon be constituted to find out a long term solution for land issues for all RE projects. He also requested to consider the possibility of heavy vehicles and load carriers in Ladakh to run on hydrogen fuel and electric buses for public transport.

The Minister exhorted the executing agencies participating in the meeting to submit a comprehensive project report with required data, conduct surveys, study feasibility, financial requirements, set time frames and give a go-ahead to start implementing the projects on the ground at the earliest.

He said that these projects will not only take Ladakh towards carbon neutrality but would also provide a sustainable source of income and employment generation.




Vice Prez extends greetings on Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti


The Guru’s teachings are eternally relevant and will continue to inspire generations to come, the Vice President Secretariat tweeted quoting Naidu.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday extended greetings on the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, saying his name epitomises courage and compassion.

The Guru’s teachings are eternally relevant and will continue to inspire generations to come, the Vice President Secretariat tweeted quoting Naidu.

“My heartiest greetings on the occasion of Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti today. Guru Ji’s name epitomises courage, compassion and service of society,” Naidu said.




Despite Covid, India serious about infra development: PM Modi


Modi also pointed out that many of us seen the time when the water was supplied in the villages through tankers and trains.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday performed the Bhoomi Poojan of Ahmedabad Metro Project Phase 2 and Surat Metro project.

He said that the Ahmedabad project worth Rs 17,000 crore is taking shape which shows that even during the Covid pandemic the country is working hard to give pace to the infrastructure development.

After the Bhoomi Pujan, Modi said, “Today, infrastructure projects worth Rs 17,000 crore is going to start, which shows that the country is serious on taking the infrastructure development project even during the Covid pandemic.”He said that before 2014, 225 km of metro lines became functional in 10 to 12 years while in last six years more than 450 km of metro lines are operational.

He further said that after Ahmedabad, Surat is one of the biggest city in Gujarat which will be connected with modern transport facility.

“In Surat, the metro project will connect the important business centres with each other,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister said that today we are developing integrated system of transportation in cities.

Which means bus, metro, train will no longer run according to it but as a collective management to complement each other, he said.

He said that on the basis of population, Surat is the eighth most populated city out of 10 in the country and fourth developed city in the world.

He said, out of every 10 diamonds in the country, nine are carved and finished in Surat.

The Prime Minister highlighted that besides cities, villages in Gujarat have also witnessed unprecedented development. “Specially the roads, electricity and the supply of the water have improved in last two decades. These are very important chapter in the history of Gujarat,” he said.

Modi also pointed out that many of us seen the time when the water was supplied in the villages through tankers and trains.

“Now 80 per cent of the population in the state is getting water supply from pipeline,” he said.

Modi said that under the Jal Jeevan Mission, 10 lakh new water connections have been distributed. “And very soon, every household in Gujarat will be getting water supply through pipeline,” he said.





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