Today Picture



Massive fire breaks out at ONGC plant in Gujarat, no casualty reported; PM Modi monitoring rescue ops


As per the reports, the fire was reportedly caused by a rupture in the 36-inch Uran-Mumbai gas pipeline.

In the wee hours of Thursday, a massive fire broke out at an Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) gas processing plant in Gujarat and has been brought under control, the company said.

“There is no casualty or injury to any person,” ONGC said in a tweet.


As per the reports, the fire was reportedly caused by a rupture in the 36-inch Uran-Mumbai gas pipeline.

All terminals have been closed down as a precautionary measure.

“Around 3:05 am last night, three consecutive blasts took place at the ONGC Hazira plant which led to the fire. Seven fire tenders and several firefighters immediately reached the spot to provide relief. No casualties have been reported so far,” Surat Collector Dhaval Patel was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

“We are relieved that the fire was contained inside the premises of the plant and did not escalate to an off-site emergency,” he added.

CR Patil, the BJP state President of Gujarat in a tweet said, “A blast occurred in Hazira plant of ONGC in Gujarat this morning. Due to the blast, people are in fear.”

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in continuous touch through telephone to take update regarding the matter and also directed quick action in the incident,” he said.


“The fire is under control and the rescue work  in under way at the spot,” he said.

“Fire at Hazira Plant has been completely extinguished. Efforts are being made to resume normal operations at the earliest: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) Three consecutive blasts took place at around 3 am today, at ONGC Hazira Plant which had led to the fire,” ONGC said later.




Rajya Sabha passes FCRA Bill amid opposition boycott


Earlier, it was restricted to Legislators, election candidates, journalists, print and broadcast media, judges, government servants or employees of any corporation or any other body controlled or owned by the government.

The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed a Bill sans opposition making Aadhaar mandatory for registration of organisations receiving foreign funds, and also to give the government powers to stop utilisation of foreign funds by an organisation through a “summary enquiry”.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, which seeks an amendment to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, proposes to include “public servants” in the prohibited category and decrease administrative expenses through foreign funds by an organisation to 20 per cent from 50 per cent earlier.

“The Bill ensures that the NGO has to open mandatory an account in the SBI FCRA branch to receive funds and then one more account to another bank of choice, for this they don’t have to travel to Delhi but the nearest SBI account will facilitate the opening of account in New Delhi,” said Minister of State of Home Nityanand Rai.

It has also sought to prohibit any transfer of foreign contribution to any other association or person. Amendment of section 17 of the Act has sought to provide that every person who has been granted a certificate or prior permission under section 12 shall receive foreign contribution only in an account designated as ‘FCRA Account’.

There was a need to streamline the provisions of the earlier Act by strengthening the compliance mechanism, enhancing transparency and accountability in the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution worth thousands of crores of rupees every year and facilitating genuine non-governmental organisations or associations who are working for the welfare of the society.

He gave an example of the amendment made in 2010 when administrative expenses were reduced to 50 per cent, then also a demand was made to reduce it up to 10 per cent. He said P. Chidambaram had then mentioned that 10,000 crore of the foreign contribution is not even audited.

The Minister said the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 was enacted to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest.

Criminal investigations also had to be initiated against dozens of such non-governmental organisations which indulged in outright misappropriation or mis-utilisation of foreign contribution, he said. Seeking to amend clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Act, the government has proposed to include “public servants” within its ambit, to provide that no foreign contribution shall be accepted by them.

Earlier, it was restricted to Legislators, election candidates, journalists, print and broadcast media, judges, government servants or employees of any corporation or any other body controlled or owned by the government.




‘Over 1.26 cr AB-PMJAY beneficiaries got free treatment in 2 yrs’


Kamal Narayan, CEO of IHW Council, also said that the scheme lifted crores of people out of poverty caused by the burden of medical expenses, brought them under the safety net of health insurance and freed them from the crowded public hospitals.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday chaired ‘Aarogya Manthan’ 2.0 to celebrate the second anniversary of Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), which he called a “historic step”.

Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) is a Central government scheme to provide free access to healthcare for all people in the country. People using the programme access their own primary care services from a family doctor. When anyone needs additional care, then the scheme provides free secondary health care for those needing specialist treatment and tertiary health care for those requiring hospitalisation.

Part of the National Health Policy, the programme was launched on September 23, 2018 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the National Health Authority was subsequently set up to administer it.

Lauding AB-PMJAY, Harsh Vardhan said: “As the world’s largest public-supported health assurance scheme, it provides financial risk protection to over 53 crore Indians from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds by assuring them with a health cover of Rs 5 lakh per eligible family per year to avail cashless inpatient secondary and tertiary healthcare.”

It has provided treatments worth more than Rs 15,500 crore, he said, adding crores of lives have been saved and households helped from getting wiped out due to catastrophic expenditure on health that pushed an estimated six crore families below the poverty line each year.

He also added that in these two years, the scheme has provided free treatment to more than 1.26 crore beneficiaries. Over 23,000 hospitals have been empanelled so far and more than 12.5 crore e-cards have been issued. 57 per cent of the total amount utilised has been for tertiary procedures related to treatment of major illnesses like cancer, cardiac ailments, orthopaedic problems, and neo-natal issues.

Harsh Vardhan said that 45 per cent of the empanelled hospitals are private facilities providing 52 per cent of the overall treatments and raising 61 per cent of the hospital admissions claims amount.

He also outlined the scheme’s portability as one of its outstanding feature. “An eligible patient from any state implementing PMJAY can avail of cashless treatment anywhere in India, in any empanelled hospital. Portability has been built into the design of the scheme and enabled 1.3 lakh citizens of the migrant population to avail of care at the nearest hospital.”

The Health Minister added that PMJAY’s capability building approach would go a long way in making Prime Minister’s dream of Aatmanirbhar Bharat a reality.

On the way ahead, he said: “The focus this year will be on expanding the reach of the PMJAY network and services to other left-out population groups such as manual scavengers, road traffic victims, truck drivers, among others through convergence with other Central health schemes.”

“Along with the recently launched National Digital Health Mission, which will build the necessary digital health ecosystem to enable enhanced access to safe, timely, quality and affordable healthcare for 1.3 billion Indians, Ayushman Bharat will become a pillar of the country’s healthcare system.”

Delhi-based public experts also welcomed the achievements. Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder-Director of Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, said: “Ayushman Bharat is truly a game-changer in the way it has brought about access to healthcare to the most deprived communities.”

“Unfortunately, 6 million people in India are still below the poverty line every year just because of the healthcare costs. For such people, Ayushman Bharat has played a great role in ensuring that this kind of abject poverty doesn’t occur in communities.”

Kamal Narayan, CEO of IHW Council, also said that the scheme lifted crores of people out of poverty caused by the burden of medical expenses, brought them under the safety net of health insurance and freed them from the crowded public hospitals.

“In this time of Covid, more beneficiaries chose private hospitals over government ones during lockdown is a testimony to the fact that people were looking for measures that ensure quality treatment at affordable price in private hospitals. Ayushman Bharat has saved lakhs of lives from people belonging to the weaker section of the society not only by providing free treatment, but also through attending to their queries, addressing a long-standing gap,” he said.




Pakistan again violates LoC ceasefire at Poonch


In over 3,186 ceasefire violations on the LoC by Pakistan since the beginning of this year, 24 civilians have been killed and over 100 injured.

Pakistan on Wednesday continued with its unprovoked firing and shelling at Indian positions on the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K’s Poonch district for the 5th consecutive day.

“Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation around 9 a.m. today along the LoC in Shahpur, Kirni and Qasba sectors of Poonch district by firing with small arms and shelling with mortars. Indian army retaliates befittingly,” Colonel Devender Anand, defence ministry spokesman said.

In over 3,186 ceasefire violations on the LoC by Pakistan since the beginning of this year, 24 civilians have been killed and over 100 injured.




Atal tunnel to transform economy of Lahaul-Spiti: Dattatraya


The difficulties increased exponentially due to heavy flow of slurry from crown area to tunnel face leading to frequent disruption of execution of works.

Himachal Pradesh Governor Bandaru Dattatraya on Tuesday said Atal tunnel at Rohtang Pass will have an immense impact on strengthening the development activities in the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti district, especially on the tourism front.

The Governor was interacting with senior officers of the Strabag-Afcons joint venture company, which was hired by the Border Road Organisation for executing the work of this strategic tunnel of national importance, at Raj Bhavan in Shimla.

Atal tunnel is nearing completion and is likely to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi early next month.

Dattatreya said the tunnel was bound to transform the economy of the landlocked Lahaul Spiti district by providing all weather connectivity to the beautiful valley that remain closed for over 6 months owing to heavy snow on Rohtang Pass from November to April.

Expressing satisfaction over the completion of the tunnel, he said that the world’s longest road tunnel at an altitude above 3,000 metres is also significant from the military logistics point of view.

“The Atal Tunnel will provide better connectivity to the armed forces in reaching Ladakh and will reduce the road length of the Manali-Rohtang Pass road by 46 km,” he added.

The officers of the executing agency briefed the Governor on how this piece of engineering marvel came into existence and said that the biggest hindrance in construction of this tunnel was Seri Nallah, which was maneuvered with the hard work of engineers.

The difficulties increased exponentially due to heavy flow of slurry from crown area to tunnel face leading to frequent disruption of execution of works.

They told how Sub-Zero temperatures had adverse effects on characteristics and performance of various materials and equipment and difficulty in placing concrete in sub-zero temperatures.




PM Modi to review status and preparedness of COVID response and management in 7 high focus States/UTs tomorrow


PM Modi to review status and preparedness of COVID response and management in 7 high focus States/UTs tomorrow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a high-level virtual meeting with the Chief Ministers and Health Ministers of seven COVID high burden States/UT to review the status and preparedness of COVID response and management, tomorrow, 23 September 2020.

These States/UT are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Punjab.

More than 63% of the Active Cases of the country are concentrated in these seven States/ UT. They also account for 65.5% of the total confirmed cases and 77% of the total deaths. Along with the other five states, Punjab and Delhi have reported an increase in the number of cases being reported recently. Maharashtra, Punjab and Delhi are reporting high mortality with more than 2.0% Case Fatality Rate (CFR). Other than Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, their positivity rate is observed to be above the national average of 8.52%.

The Centre has been leading the fight against COVID in the country in effective collaboration and close coordination with the State/UT governments. The Union Government is supporting them to ramp up the healthcare and medical infrastructure.

The clinical management capacities of the doctors manning the ICUs have been substantially upgraded through the e-ICU teleconsultation exercise undertaken by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in collaboration with AIIMS, New Delhi. High-level review with the States/UTs has ensured adequate availability of medical oxygen in the hospitals and COVID healthcare facilities.

The Centre is also regularly deputing multi-disciplinary teams to States/UTs to support and handhold them in matters of containment, surveillance, testing and efficient clinical management of the positive cases. The Central teams also guide the local authorities in effectively managing the challenges related to timely diagnosis and needed to follow up.




Venkaiah Naidu suspends 8 opposition MPs, including Derek O Brien, Sanjay Singh, over ‘unruly behaviour’


He said he was ‘deeply pained’ on the ruckus and passed a motion of suspension against eight opposition MPs over their ‘unruly behaviour.  

The Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Monday expressed grief over the incident that unfolded in the House yesterday. He said he was ‘deeply pained’ on the ruckus and passed a motion of suspension against eight opposition MPs over their “unruly behaviour”.

“I was deeply pained yesterday. All social distancing and Covid protocols were violated yesterday. Whatever happened, defied logic. It was a bad day for the Rajya Sabha. The Deputy chairman was physically threatened. I was worried about his physical being,” Naidu said.

Chairman today announced the suspension of eight opposition MPs for a week namely Derek O Brien, Sanjay Singh, Raju Satav, KK Ragesh, Ripun Bora, Dola Sen, Syed Nazir Hussain and Elamaran Karim.

“The notice period of 14 days is required. I rule that the motion by LoP and other members is not admissible,” Naidu said.

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister of State V. Muraleedharan had moved the motion for suspension of these leaders in the House.

Yesterday, amid the course of the passage of farm bills in the Rajya Sabha, the Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien attempted to tear the rule book and snatch off Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan’s microphone.

He rushed to the well of the House amid the proceedings to register his protest against the bill.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has also rejected a no-confidence motion against Deputy Chairman on grounds that it was not in a proper format.

Yesterday, after unprecedented uproar and ruckus, the contentious farm bills have been deemed passed in the Rajya Sabha by voice vote.

The Upper House has passed two of the three farm bills of the government.

The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 were passed by the house.




10 killed, dozens feared trapped as three-storeyed building collapses near Mumbai; PM prays for quick recovery


The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has rescued 11 people from the site of the accident including one child.

In an untoward incident on Monday morning, ten people were killed and around 25 were feared trapped after a three-storeyed building collapsed in Bhiwandi near Mumbai.

Initial reports suggest that 31 people have been rescued from the rubble of the building in Patel Compound area. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has rescued 11 people from the site of the accident including one child.

Over 40 emergency workers, including a team of 30 rescuers from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), are at the accident site.

Reacting on the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Saddened by the building collapse in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for a quick recovery of those injured. Rescue operations are underway and all possible assistance is being provided to the affected.”


The Directorate General of NDRF shared the updates on Twitter:

 




LAC crisis: Corps Commander-level meeting to be held on Chinese side today


As per the reports, the Corps Commander-level meeting will be held at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC near eastern Ladakh.

In order to dilute the ongoing tensions at the LAC, the military commanders of India and China will meet this morning on the Chinese side.

As per the reports, the Corps Commander-level meeting will be held at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC near eastern Ladakh.

Today’s meeting is the sixth round of Corps Commander-level talks that focuses on implementing agreements reached between the two countries on disengagement and de-escalation in eastern Ladakh, news agency PTI reported quoting unnamed government sources.

It further added that for the first time, a joint secretary-level officer from the Foreign Ministry is expected to be part of the Indian delegation. India is looking for some concrete outcome from the dialogue.

Reports suggest that the Indian delegation at the talks is set to be led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps.

The Chinese side is likely to be headed by Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region.

In Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addressing on the China border crisis said no power on earth can stop the Indian Army from patrolling.

On a question by the opposition that the Chinese are not allowing Indian soldiers to patrol traditional posts, he said, “That is the reason for our fight with China.”

He assured the opposition members that there would be no change in patrolling patterns in eastern Ladakh, the site of the dispute.

There have been multiple attempts by the Chinese forces to drive the Indian troops out of the key heights at the mountainous Ladakh region in last few days.

Both sides blamed each other of firing in the air as shots were fired for the first time in 45 years.

A recent talk between the Defence Ministers at both the sides in Moscow on the sidelines of the SCO summit has brought again the series of accusation and blame game between the two Asian giants.




‘I am also a farmer’: Rajnath Singh on farm bills ruckus; says opposition trying to ‘confuse’ them


Union Minister Rajnath Singh said that the Opposition In Rajya Sabha was trying to “confuse farmers”. He said, “ I’m also farmer, never believe the government will hurt farmers.”

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, along with his cabinet colleagues Prakash Jawdekar, Prahlad Joshi, Piyush Goyal, Thawar Chand Gehlot, and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi held a press conference on Sunday to address the farm Bills and the ruckus in the Rajya Sabha.

Union Minister Rajnath Singh said that the Opposition In Rajya Sabha was trying to “confuse farmers”. He said, “ I’m also farmer, never believe the government will hurt farmers.”

Two farm Bills were passed in the Upper House, in an unprecedented manner in which Opposition parties MPs alleged that deputy chairperson Harivansh Singh did not allow several opposition members to speak or consider extending the session.

The Opposition parties MPs who rushed into the Well of the House tried to tear up the rule book and pull away the microphone.

Union Minister Rajnath Singh questioned the Opposition party’s MPs behaviour and said,” “Let’s assume what they are saying is correct, that they weren’t heard, but even then is it okay to behave in a violent manner or to climb the chair or break the mic?

Hr further added, “Their behaviour has hurt the dignity of the Parliament and is a reflection on themselves,”

The minister assured the farmers that minimum support price (MSP) and APMC will continue. He said, “I want to assure farmers that minimum support price and APMC will continue. These will never be removed at any cost,”

The Defence Minister addressed the issue of Cabinet minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resignation over the Bills and said that are trying to make everyone understand. He said, “Each person makes decisions based on political reasons.”

The Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Monday expressed grief over the incident that unfolded in the House yesterday. He said he was ‘deeply pained’ on the ruckus and passed a motion of suspension against eight opposition MPs over their “unruly behaviour”.

Chairman today announced the suspension of eight opposition MPs for a week namely Derek O Brien, Sanjay Singh, Raju Satav, KK Ragesh, Ripun Bora, Dola Sen, Syed Nazir Hussain and Elamaran Karim.





Top