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Budget 2018: Railways gets Rs 1.48 lakh crore




New Delhi, Feb 1: Stressing on boosting the safety aspect of Railways and its carrying capacity, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced the largest-ever allocation of Rs 1.48 lakh crore capital expenditure for the Indian Railways in 2018-19.

“Railways capex for 2018-19 has been pegged at Rs 1,48,528 crore,” Jaitley said in his Budget speech. The amount is Rs 17,000 crore higher than the previous year’s budget.

In 2017-18 Union Budget, the total capex of Railways was pegged at Rs 1,31,000 crore.

Jaitley said that modern-train sets with state-of-the-art amenities and features would be commissioned during 2018-19.

The 92-year-old practice of a separate Railway Budget was discontinued from last year and was merged with the Union Budget.

The Finance Minister said that enhancing the carrying capacity has been a major focus of the government. “A large part of the capex is devoted to railways capacity creation,” he said.

“Doubling of 18,000 km and work on 5,000 km of third and fourth lines to convert them into broad gauge will eliminate capacity constraint. It will also transform almost the entire network into broad gauge,” Jaitley said.

“There has also been significant improvement in the achievement of physical targets by railways. We are moving fast towards optimal electrification of railway network. About 4,000 km are targeted for commissioning during 2017-18,” he said.

The Finance Minister said that work on the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors was also in full swing.

He said that 12,000 wagons, 5,160 coaches and 700 locomotives are being procured in the year 2018-19.

He said that a major programme has been initiated to strengthen infrastructure at the goods sheds and fast track commissioning of private sidings.

“A ‘safety first’ policy, with allocation of adequate funds under Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh is the cornerstone of Railways’ focus on safety,” he said, adding, “Maintenance of track infrastructure is being given special attention.”

“Over 3,600 kms of track renewal is targeted during the current fiscal. Other major steps include increasing use of technology like Fog Safe and Train Protection and Warning System.”

He said that a decision has been taken to eliminate 4,267 unmanned level crossings in the broad gauge network in the next two years.

The Finance Minister said that redevelopment of 600 major railway stations is being taken up by Indian Railway Station Development Corporation Limited. “All stations with more than 25,000 footfalls will have escalators. All railway stations and trains will be progressively provided with wifi,” he said.

The government will also install CCTVs at all stations and on trains to enhance security of passengers.

“Modern train-sets with state-of-the-art amenities and features are being designed at Integrated Coach Factory, Perambur. And first such train-set will be commissioned during 2018-19,” Jaitley said.

Speaking about the 508 km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, Jaitley said, “Foundation for the bullet train project, country’s first high speed rail project, was laid on September 14, 2017.

“An Institute is coming up at Vadodara (Gujarat) to train manpower required for high speed rail projects,” the Finance Minister added.



Corona Caller Tune: Jasleen Bhalla replaces Amitabh Bachchan’s voice

The government has taken this decision to shift the focus of people on the Corona (COVID-19) vaccine and its advantages. In a changed caller tune from Friday, you’ll be able to hear corona vaccine messages.



Jasleen Bhalla

Before calling anyone these days one can listen to the voice of Amitabh Bachchan regarding corona prevention and caution. But now that is going to change as Jasleen Bhalla will replace Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan’s voice from today. January 15th.

The government has taken this decision to shift the focus of people on the Corona (COVID-19) vaccine and its advantages. In a changed caller tune from Friday, you’ll be able to hear corona vaccine messages.

People will be made aware of the vaccine, its benefits, and due process. This voice will be given by the famous voice-over artist Jasleen Bhalla.

Jasleen has given her voice for Delhi Metro, Docomo, Horlicks, and Slice Mango drinks advertisements. “Sometimes it’s a little strange to hear your own voice,” says Jasleen.

Jasleen will alert people and will advise them to ignore the rumors of vaccination in this message.

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch corona vaccination across the country from tomorrow Saturday, January 16.

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Cold wave conditions persist in north India

Meanwhile, the Met officials said that fog reduced visibility early in the morning at most places in the two states.



Cold Winter Weather

New Delhi, Jan 17 : Parts of north India remained under the grip of an intense cold wave on Sunday with night temperatures dropping below the 5 degrees Celsius-mark at some places and dense fog enveloping several areas.

The minimum temperature in Delhi dropped to 5.7 degrees Celsius but it is likely to rise over the next two days due to a change in the wind direction, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The national capital will see shallow fog on Monday morning and light rain is likely to occur, the IMD said. The city’s minimum and maximum temperatures are expected to settle around 8 and 17 degrees Celsius.

An IMD official said easterly winds are blowing in Delhi that are not as cold as northwesterly winds coming in from the snow-clad western Himalayas.

Hence, the minimum temperature is likely to rise by a few notches over the next two days.

Meanwhile, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) improved slightly to the ‘very poor’ category from ‘severe’ on Saturday as favourable wind speed helped in dispersion of pollutants.

The city’s AQI was 329 at 8.30 pm on Sunday. The 24-hour average AQI was 407 on Saturday, 460 on Friday, 429 on Thursday, and 354 on Wednesday.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.

Intense cold wave conditions persisted in Kashmir, even as the minimum temperatures increased marginally across the valley.

The meteorological department said a western disturbance is likely to affect Jammu and Kashmir for a few days starting January 22, bringing snowfall and rain to the union territory.

The night temperature in Kashmir improved slightly but remained several notches below the freezing point, a Met department official said.

Srinagar city — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir — recorded a low of minus 7.6 degrees Celsius, up from minus 8.2 degrees Celsius the previous night, he said.

Pahalgam, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath Yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 8.7 degrees Celsius, up from the previous night’s minus 9.4 degrees Celsius.

Qazigund was the coldest place in Jammu and Kashmir with a minimum temperature of minus 9 degrees Celsius, the official said.

The intense cold wave in Kashmir has resulted in the freezing of water supply lines in several areas. A thick layer of ice has covered several roads, making it difficult for motorists to drive.

Several water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake, have also frozen. The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and river police are conducting patrolling around the frozen water bodies to ensure the safety of people.

Parts of Uttar Pradesh witnessed dense fog and cold day to severe cold day conditions prevailed at isolated places.

Churk in Sonbhadra district was the coldest place in the state with a minimum temperature of 4.6 degrees Celsius, it said.

Agra recorded a low of 6.3 degrees Celsius, followed by 6.6 degrees Celsius in Kanpur and 8.7 degrees Celsius in Jhansi.

The weather department said dense to very dense fog is very likely to occur in the morning at a few places in the state on Monday and cold day conditions are also very likely to prevail at isolated places over the state, it said.

Weather is most likely to remain dry in the state. Shallow to moderate fog is very likely to occur at isolated places over the state on Tuesday and Wednesday, it added.

Cold weather conditions continued to persist at many places in Haryana and Punjab with temperatures hovering below the normal limits.

According to the Met department, Narnaul in Haryana reeled under intense cold, recording a low of 2.5 degrees Celsius, three notches below normal limits.

Hisar, too, experienced a cold night at 3.4 degrees Celsius, down four notches, while Sirsa, Bhiwani and Rohtak registered below normal minimums at 4 degrees Celsius, 4.7 degrees, and 5.6 degrees respectively.

In Punjab, Bathinda recorded below normal minimum at 3.4 degrees, while Faridkot and Gurdaspur, too, recorded below normal lows at 5.5 degrees and 7 degrees Celsius respectively.

Chandigarh, the common capital of the two states, recorded a low of 8.3 degrees Celsius.

During the past few days, maximum temperatures, too, have been hovering 6-10 notches below normal at most places in the two states and Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, the Met officials said that fog reduced visibility early in the morning at most places in the two states.

In Rajasthan, night temperatures dipped by a few degrees in parts and Pilani was the coldest place recording a temperature of .4 degrees Celsius followed by Churu which shivered at 1.9 degrees.

Dense fog also engulfed many parts of the state.

Ganganagar, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Alwar, Bundi and Dabok recorded 2.5, 6.1, 6.3, 7.4, 9.6 and 10 degrees respectively.

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Farmers will not be cowed down by NIA notices: Congress

“These puppet agencies — the NIA, the CBI, the ED, the Income Tax (department) — are frontal organisations of the BJP and not the statutory bodies that they are supposed to be,” alleged.




New Delhi, Jan 17 : The Congress alleged on Sunday that probe agencies such as the NIA have become puppets in the hands of the government and are now being used against farmers, who will not be cowed down by their notices.

Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned the government’s intention behind sending notices to farmers from agencies meant to probe terrorists, after it attempted to dub them as separatists, Naxals, terrorists and agents of China and Pakistan.

“Now the government sends notices to farmers of the country from such agencies probing terrorists. What is the intention of the (Narendra) Modi government, after it dubbed farmers as terrorists, Naxals and agents of China and Pakistan? What are you trying to probe Modiji?” he asked at a press conference.

“Regrettably, Prime Minister Modi and BJP leaders are out to prove that all farmers, the 62 crore farmers of this country are terrorists, militants, Naxalites, agents of China and Pakistan, but these fake notices of a puppet agency like the NIA to farmers will neither deter them nor cow them down.

“Modiji should understand that the farmers will not be scared by attempts at Income Tax raids on small shopkeepers in the grain markets or NIA or CBI notices to farmers and journalists. We will carry on until the three black laws are repealed,” the Congress leader said.

He said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and its successive chiefs have been “puppets in the hands of the government” and there is evidence to support such a view.

“These puppet agencies — the NIA, the CBI, the ED, the Income Tax (department) — are frontal organisations of the BJP and not the statutory bodies that they are supposed to be,” alleged.

Replying to a question on controversial WhatsApp chats involving national security coming out in the public, Surjewala said the conversations are damning and the Congress will come up with a comprehensive reaction to the issue within the next 48 hours.

“We are examining everything. Before giving you a detailed comment, I will like to defer the issue…. We will give you a complete summary on it and our view, including why it requires a thorough investigation, who should be investigated, who should be held accountable, who is responsible…,” he said.

Congress leader P Chidambaram also tweeted: “Did a journalist (and his friend) know about the retaliatory strike on Balakot camp three days before the actual strike?”

“If yes, what is the guarantee that their ‘source’ did not share the information with others as well, including spies or informers working for Pakistan? How did a ‘For Your Eyes Only’ decision find its way to the government-supporting journalist?” he asked.

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