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Budget 2018: Railways gets Rs 1.48 lakh crore

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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.

IANS

Cities

Maharashtra touches new high of 6,364 corona patients, 198 deaths

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home quarantine increased to 589,448, while those in institutional quarantine increased to 42,371.

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Mumbai, July 3 : Maharashtra’s Covid-19 cases continued to break records with a new high of 6,364 – up from Thursday’s 6,330, and notched 198 deaths for the second time in three days, health officials said here on Friday.

With the latest fatalities, the state death toll climbed up to 8,376 and total cases zoomed to 192,990 – both the highest in the country.

Friday”s figures work out to roughly one death recorded every 7 minutes and a staggering 265 new cases notched every hour.

The recovery rate in the state improved marginally from to 54.24 per cent while the mortality rate stood at 4.34 percent.

July has started with three-digit highs of deaths and over 5,000 cases daily, causing major concerns among health officials.

The Health Department said of the total number of cases declared till date, 79,911 are active case.

On the positive side, 3,515 fully cured patients returned home on Friday – taking the number of those discharged to 104,687.

Of Friday”s fatalities, Mumbai alone notched 73 deaths – pulling up the city death toll to 4,762, while the number of Covid-19 positive patients here shot up by 1,338 cases to 82,074.

There were also 50 deaths in Thane, 19 in Pune, 15 in Solapur, six each in Palghar, Aurangabad and Jalgaon, five in Jalna, four in Raigad, three in Akola, two each in Dhule and Amravati, and one each in Nashik, Ahmednagar, Nandurbar, Latur and Gondiya. Two deceased were from other states.

The MMR (Thane division) continues to see deaths and cases continue to pile up, with a total of 6,060 Covid-19 fatalities and a whopping 4,379 new patients pushing up the number of positive cases to 137,783.

Thane cases have shot upto 43,634 with 1,075 fatalities – to emerge as the second worst-hit district after Mumbai in the state.

Pune district comes third with 25,454 patients and 826 deaths till now. But Pune division ranks second (after MMR) with 29,371 patients and 1,157 fatalities.

Nashik division has 566 fatalities and 10,379 positive cases, followed by Aurangabad division with 306 deaths and 7,060 cases, and Akola division with 139 fatalities and 2,934 cases.

Kolhapur division has notched 55 deaths and 2,173 patients, Latur division 49 fatalities and 1,134 cases, and Nagpur division has recorded 19 deaths and 2,050 cases.

Among the eight divisions, only Kolhapur recorded zero fatalities on Friday, though there were new Covid-19 positive cases.

Nashik division, meanwhile, the third division to enter the 5-digit levels in the total cases.

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home quarantine increased to 589,448, while those in institutional quarantine increased to 42,371.

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Soft copies, 6 feet distance, sanitisers: New rules for Parl panel meets

On March 23, TMC MP Derek O Brien went into self quarantine and another member MP Dushyant Singh was seen with singer Kanika Kapoor who later tested positive.

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New Delhi: In a significant decision, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has said that Parliamentary panel meetings can start, but with members maintaining a distance of 6 feet from each other. This relaxation comes after Unlock 2.0 kicked in on July 2.

“Ministry/Departments appearing before the committee may be advised to restrict the number of officials to a maximum of five,” the notification reads.

Gone are the days of carrying papers and bulky files. The new notification also demands that circulation of documents, if and when should be in soft copy format. Which essentially means it will be e-mailed with an attachment to the Members of Parliament. Parliamentary panels call different officials before them for clarifications. Now they cannot carry bags or files along with them, either, according to the new notification.

Meanwhile, before entering all members will be given sanitisers to clean their hands of any germs.

Reconvening such panel meets has been a longstanding demand. Even requests for virtual meetings were turned down by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu.

But now, with demand for such meetings growing louder by the day, particularly by opposition leaders, this has been worked out. It will also work as a test case on the feasibility of convening a monsoon session with the physical presence of all members. Meanwhile, both Birla and Naidu have held a series of meetings exploring the possibility of holding a monsoon session of Parliament.

On March 23 this year, after TMC MP Derek O Brien went into self quarantine and another member MP Dushyant Singh was seen with singer Kanika Kapoor who later tested positive, a scare gripped the two houses. Following that, the Budget session was adjourned sine die prematurely. Ever since, the government announced a full lockdown except on essential services.

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With 2,520 new coronavirus cases, Delhi’s tally climbs to 94,695

On June 23, the capital had witnessed a peak of the highest single-day peak of 3,947 cases, but the number has come down steadily since then.

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New Delhi, July 3 : The national capital witnessed a spike of 2,520 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, pushing its total tally to 94,695 on Friday. It also reported 59 deaths in this period.

According to Delhi government data, as many as 2,617 patients recovered in the last 24 hours. Till now, 65,624 people have recovered, 26,148 are active cases and 2,923 patients have succumbed to the deadly disease.

Over 10,577 RT-PCR and 13,588 rapid antigen Covid-19 tests were conducted on Friday. In total, 5,96,695 tests have been conducted so far in the national capital. Delhi has a total of 445 containment zones.

Currently, 5,635 beds are occupied in the hospitals out of a total capacity of 15,243 beds, 1,948 in the dedicated Covid Care Centres and 167 in the dedicated Covid Health Centres. Over 15,878 people are under home isolation.

On June 23, the capital had witnessed a peak of the highest single-day peak of 3,947 cases, but the number has come down steadily since then.

The turnaround came after several meetings were held between Central and State government officials in mid-June after cases recorded a sharp and sustained spike.

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