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21 killed as heavy rains pound Maharashtra, more in store

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Pune, Sep 26 : At least 21 persons were killed and nine missing in various rain-related incidents in Maharashtra’s Pune, Jalgaon and Nashik since late Wednesday, officials said here on Thursday.

Of the total fatalities, 14 deaths took place in Pune district, six in Jalgaon and one in Nashik in the past 24 hours of rains, while the India Meteorological Department has forecast more heavy rains for Friday.

According to the state and district disaster management authorities, at least five persons were washed away in flood waters in the Khed-Shivapur area on Pune-Bengaluru Highway. Three bodies were recovered from a well in the downstream region early on Thursday and a hunt is on for the others.

A building compound wall crashed in Arnyshwar Complex, killing six more people, while some others were feared trapped under the debris. While two bodies have been recovered, search is on for the remaining persons.

Caught in a thunderstorm, six people were killed as they took refuge under a tree in Jalgaon, a Maharashtra Disaster Control Authority official told IANS.

Two persons were found dead in cars that were washed away in the flood waters in Kondwa and Saswad areas.

An auto-rickshaw driver was killed due to electrocution in a flooded area of a village on the outskirts of Nashik on Thursday, police said.

As flood waters rose, more than 15,000 people were evacuated from Baramati tehsil, and others from different areas like Sinhgad, Dhanakwadi, Balajinagar, Ambegaon, Sahakar Nagar, Parvati Nagar, Kolhewadi and Kirkatwadi. They have been housed in temporary camps set up in these areas.

In many areas, panicked residents took refuge on upper floors or terrace as flood waters gushed into ground floor residences.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams are deployed each in Baramati and Pune, while a fifth team was on its way to Baramati and that the flood situation is being closely monitored.

He also spoke with Baramati legislator and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and promised full help to the flood-affected.

State Congress President Balasaheb Thorat said a very grim situation has arisen due to Pune floods and resulted in loss of lives.

“I urge the state government to take immediate measures to bring relief to the people in this crisis,” Thorat told media persons.

Since last night, Pune city and district has been lashed by more than 16 cm of torrential downpour, with forecast of more rain in the next 24 hours.

Officials said this is a record rainfall hitting the district in the past 10 years, flooding many areas in a very short period.

Normal life has been crippled in the state’s cultural, academic and IT capital since Wednesday as most people preferred to remain indoors under heavily overcast skies and non-stop rain.

An estimated 200-plus big and small vehicles were washed away in the floods in the city and outskirts, besides tonnes of rubbish piling up in different areas.

Local officials said around 150 homes have been damaged, rendering hundreds of families homeless.

In view of rising water levels, flooding in many areas, Pune Collector Naval Kishore Ram has declared a holiday for all schools and colleges in Pune city and neighbouring areas of Purandar, Baramati, Bhor and Haveli.

Ram added that Pune has received 180 percent of its annual seasonal total rainfall, a record, and all the dams in the district are overflowing for the first time in 22 years.

Water discharge of at least 13,000 cusec is slated from the flooded Khadakwasla Dam near the city and the Pune Municipal Corporation has evacuated around 500 people. Similarly, the water discharge from Nazare Dam in Purandar was increased to 85,000 cusecs.

Traffic on the highways linking Pune with Mumbai, Nashik, Bengaluru was hit due to rain and at least two incidents of landslides on the Pune-Satara highway.

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JNU protest leads to massive traffic snarls in central Delhi

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JNU students protest outside campus

New Delhi, Nov 18 : Massive traffic snarls were reported in central Delhi on Monday as hundreds of protesting students of JNU were stopped from marching towards Parliament which also led to them scuffling with the police.

The authorities also shut the entry and exit gates at three Delhi Metro stations near Parliament to prevent the students from approaching parliament.

Earlier, the police put up barricades near Safdarjung Tomb to stop the students from marching towards Parliament, which began its winter session on Monday.

The students, protesting against the hostel fee hike, gathered near Safdarjung Tomb to continue their protest. They shouted slogans demanding a fee hike roll back.

The Delhi Metro said in a statement it would not have trains at Udyog Bhawan and Patel Chowk, while the Exit/Entry Gates for Udyog Bhawan, Patel Chowk and Central Secretariat have been closed temporarily.

Massive traffic jams were reported in the areas near Safdarjung Hospital, Arabindo Marg, AIIMS and Safdarjung Tomb.

Earlier, with posters in hand and chanting anti-fee hike slogans, hundreds of students marched on the streets of Delhi. The students defied the imposition of Section 144 that prevents gathering of more than four persons in one place, to continue with their protest march to parliament.

As police put up barricades, the JNU climbed over the barricades, leading to scuffles with the police.

“The students are struggling hard to clear the barricades installed by the Delhi police, but they admit that they might not reach parliament because of heavy police and CRPF deployment in the way,” a student said.

The protest march is against the hostel fee hike.

The protest was held even as the Education Secretary addressed their concern by a partial roll back and on Monday announced a new committee to open dialogue with the students.

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Mahagathbandhan will come to power in Jharkhand: Sanjay Paswan

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Congress

New Delhi, Nov 18 Jharkhand Congress Working President Sanjay Paswan has claimed that the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ consisting of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress, will come to power in the mineral-rich state as the people have witnessed that the BJP-ruled government has not been been able to deliver on any front in the last five years.

When asked why being a national party Congress was contesting on lesser seats than a regional party like the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Paswan told IANS: “Congress always believed on coalition dharma. Wherever we think we are strong, we are contesting. We (JMM, Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal) share a same ideology.

“If they think we are afraid of the BJP, it is their misunderstanding. People of Jharkhand have seen them in the past five years. Infact, the BJP is themselves afraid of losing as they are contesting the elections in five phases. Once they said they will remove ‘Naxalism’ from our state, when they chaim it has been removed then why are the elections going four five phases?”

“They (AJSU) are more or less the same. I feel after the results they will again switch hands with them (BJP). We have seen them for last 19 years, we don’t know about them.”

If it comes to power, the Mahagathbandhan’s roadmap would be about taking Jharkhand on the top of the country, Paswan said.

“Firstly, we will provide employment to the youth of Jharkhand so we don’t have to go away from our state. The present BJP-led government did nothing for the youths except looting them. They have given all the mineral-rich lands to the industrialists who are getting benefitted while our youths are struggling for jobs.

“We will change whatever has happened. Every single person of Jharkhand will be happy when we take charge,” he concluded.

Jharkhand will go to polls in five phases from November 30.

Fighting in alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress is contesting 31 of the state’s 81 seats, the JMM 43, and the RJD seven.

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UP power employees strike over PF scam

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Yogi Adityanath

Lucknow, Nov 18 Employees of the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL), on Monday, proceeded on a two-day work boycott to protest against the provident fund scam in which their money was invested in the tainted Dewan Housing and Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL).

However, the units generating power have been exempted from the protest to prevent grid failure.

The energy department has issued directives to the officers concerned to make adequate arrangements to keep electricity supply normal in in the state in view of the 48-hour work boycott.

The state home department has also asked all district magistrates and police chiefs to ensure proper security of all vital installations in their areas.

The employees are demanding that the state government give a guarantee for safe return of their provident fund money, invested in DHFL by the Uttar Pradesh Power Sector Employees’ Trust.

The Uttar Pradesh Vidyut Karmchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, a joint forum of power employees and engineers, has warned the management against taking any repressive measures against the agitating staff during the ‘work boycott’.

The employees will report to their offices but shun work in a ‘work boycott’ as opposed to a full-fledged strike in which they may not even show up at the place of work.

Uttar Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Ltd (UPPTCL) director (operation) R. K. Singh has asked the officials concerned to outsource staff to man the transmission substations and lines in view of the proposed 48-hour work boycott.

He said ex-army men should be deployed for the security of the substations and local police should be contacted for the security of the employees who want to work. Proper arrangements of food, stay and conveyance should be made for the staff that might have to work for longer hours due the work boycott.

Similar measures, according to sources, were being taken to man and manage distribution substations and lines as well.

The power employees, meanwhile, are continuing with statewide demonstrations and meetings, protesting against investment of their provident fund worth of above Rs 2,600 crore in an unsecured private housing company.

They demanded that the state government should not only give a guarantee for the safe return of the money, but also take action against the IAS officers responsible for the scam.

Samiti convener Shailendra Dubey said the employees were also agitated over the fact that the CBI probe into the PF scam had not begun yet. “There appears to be an attempt to save the bureaucrats who actually presided over the scam,” he alleged.

Dubey said all preparations had been made to make the 48-hour work boycott successful. “We would proceed on strike if any of our agitating employees was harassed during the work boycott,” he warned.

Shailendra Dubey further said that engineers will not fix any fault in power plan and even faults in transmission and distribution system will not be attended by the power employees during the 48-hour boycott.

The employees have been up in arms against the UPPCL management, demanding the arrest of former UPPCL chairman Alok Kumar, who was also the ex-officio chairman of the Uttar Pradesh State Power Sector Employees Trust which invested more than Rs 4,100 crore in DHFL since March 2017.

UPPCL sources said the corporation was preparing to file a review petition in the Mumbai high court, which has barred DHFL from releasing money to its creditors.

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