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10 dead in Andhra Covid centre fire, govt sets up probe panel

Nine people were killed after a massive fire broke out at a Covid-19 facility in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada.

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Andhra Factory Fire

Vijayawada, Aug 9 : At least 10 patients were killed and several others injured in a fire at a hotel functioning as a Covid care facility early on Sunday, Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Alla Nani said.

The government has set up a committee to inquire into the incident, said the minister, who inspected the scene at the Swarna Palace hotel which had been converted into a paid Covid care centre by a private hospital here.

The inquiry committee has been tasked with submitting its findings to the government within 48 hours, he added.

Following a review meeting with local authorities and officials concerned, the minister said that the fire had broken out at 4.45 a.m., while the fire station received the first intimation at 5.09 a.m.

Panic-stricken inmates began screaming for help and a few staff members leapt off from the first floor, suffering injuries.

There were around 50 people in the building at the time of the mishap, of whom 31 were Covid-19 patients. The remaining inmates were medical staff and support personnel.

Ten Covid-19 patients, including two women at the centre, were killed in the blaze suspected to have been set off by a short circuit. The remaining Covid patients are reported to be safe and recovering.

Stating that initial investigations point to several violations, the minister said that a police case has been registered against the Ramesh Hospital’s management under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has expressed sorrow over the tragedy and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 50 lakh to families of each victims.

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Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey Steps Down from Service, Likely to Contest Upcoming Polls

Sanjiv Kumar Singhal, the Director General of Civil Defence and Fire Services, has been given the additional charge of DGP Bihar till further orders.

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Gupteshwar Pandey IPS

Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey on Tuesday stepped down from his post after taking voluntary retirement from the services. His request seeking VRS was approved by Governor Phagu Chauhan.

Pandey is likely to contest the upcoming state Assembly polls.

Sanjiv Kumar Singhal, the Director General of Civil Defence and Fire Services, has been given the additional charge of DGP Bihar till further orders.

Pandey, who was involved in the investigation of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, found himself mired in controversy after his sexist comment aimed at Rhea Chakraborty. Hours after the Supreme Court last month ordered a CBI probe into Rajput’s death, Pandey had said that Chakraborty did not have the “aukat” (stature) to comment about Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Pandey had later apologised for the remark.

Earlier this month, Pandey had hailed Chakraborty’s arrest by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) as a big win for Bihar.

Pandey has been an Indian Police Service officer since 1987. He was selected as Bihar DGP in February last year out of 12 IPS officers recommended by the state government to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

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Nitish gets livid over documentary showing pind-daan in Gaya

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Nitish Kumar

Patna, Sep 22 : Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday become angry with the water resources development ministry over a representative video documentary showing a pind-daan, a ritual conducted at the cremation of a person.

In the run-up to the Bihar assembly elections, Kumar has laid down the foundation stone of 77 projects worth Rs 2814.47 crore.

One of these projects relates to a rubber dam project on Falgu river in Gaya.

During its inauguration, the water resources development ministry played a video documentary in which a pind-daan ceremony on Falgu river in Gaya was shown.

As soon as it went on screen, CM Nitish Kumar got livid. He shouted in the middle of the documentary for wrong selection of visuals by the ministry concerned.

He said the Gaya district is renowned around the world for the Bodhi Temple where Lord Buddha gained wisdom. The pictures inside the temple are unique. “People go to Gaya to see this temple. It is an icon of Gaya and not the area where the pind-daan takes place on Falgu river,” Kumar said during the virtual inauguration.

“I have repeatedly told the ministry concerned to avoid representing Falgu river in Gaya, still they are making the same mistake again,” Kumar said.

The video documentary showcased the rubber dam and renovation on the either side of the river banks.

Since, elections are round corner in Bihar, there is an assumption that showing rituals related to death isn’t auspicious.

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Stubble Burning: 332 villages identified as red zones in Haryana

Additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture, Sanjeev Kaushal said the Haryana government has also decided to provide financial assistance to 11,311 individual farmers who have applied for agricultural implements under the crop residue management scheme.

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stubble burning

In anticipation of stubble burning incidents across the state, the Haryana agriculture department has identified red, yellow/orange and green zones in every district on the basis of incidences of crop residue burning last year. An official spokesperson said 332 villages fall under the red zone and 675 in yellow zone.

Additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture, Sanjeev Kaushal said the Haryana government has also decided to provide financial assistance to 11,311 individual farmers who have applied for agricultural implements under the crop residue management scheme ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop’, in the current growing season. The total assistance of about ₹155 crore at the rate of 50 % will be given.

The department will also provide 454 balers, 5,820 super seeders, 5,418 zero till seed drills, 2,918 choppers/mulchers, 260 happy seeders, 389 straw management systems, 64 rotary slashers/shrub masters, 454 reversible mould ploughs and 288 reapers to the beneficiaries.

Online applications for agricultural implements were invited from individual farmers and societies till August 21. As many as 11,311 farmers applied for 16,647 implements, against a target of 2,741, in the individual category, he said.

The state government has also decided to give preference to small and marginal farmers in hiring of machinery from Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs), and in providing equipment to individual beneficiaries under the scheme. A comprehensive plan has been approved for crop residue management to prevent stubble burning. It included fusion of in-situ and ex-situ crop residue management techniques, apart from monitoring activities through a dedicated control room, and registration of FIRs against violators.

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