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Forest fire: Mi-17 helicopters to put off blaze in Uttarakhand

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The Centre has deployed two Mi-17 helicopters to douse the forest blaze in Uttarakhand. More than 1,900 hectares of forest land have been affected by the fire in the Kumaoun and Garwal region.

“Two helicopters were sent by the Indian Air Force. One has been sent in Gorakhal Sainik School and another one in Pouri, Srinagar. The speciality of the helicopter is it can take 5,000 litre of water from any source of water, be it pond or river and can drop it anywhere,” Wing Commander VK Singh, operation in-charge, Airforce

With major fires blighting around 1,900 hectares of forests in Uttarakhand, the government deployed two Mi-17 helicopters  as NDRF, SDRF and Army personnel struggled to douse the flames which have claimed six lives till now.

A total of 1890.79 hectares of green cover in the Kumaoun and Garwal region have been destroyed this fire season which had an early start on 2 February due to a dry winter.

Chamoli, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Almora, Pithoragarh and Nainital are the worst-affected districts.

While three NDRF teams and one SDRF company are busy dousing the flames in different parts of the state, two IAF choppers have been sent to Nainital and Pauri districts, among the worst hit, to spray water over the burning jungles, Raj Bhawan officials in Dehradun said.

Enough funds have been made available to all affected districts besides required personnel and equipment to deal with any situation, they said.

“One MI-17 chopper has been stationed at Bhimtal near Nainital right which is being loaded with water collected from the waterbodies in the area and begin spraying water over affected areas from tomorrow,” Chief Secretary Shatrughna Singh said.

Former chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the governor to declare Uttarakhand as a fire disaster struck state and involve locals as much as possible in fire extinguishing efforts.

Pradesh Congress president Kishore Upadhyay also wrote to party workers asking them to work unitedly to pull the state out of the crisis.

Meanwhile, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is rushing Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) refullers to replenish IAF choppers deployed to douse the massive fire in Uttarakhand.

“Spoke to Governor Uttarakhand; IOC rushing ATF refuellers to reach Haldwani & Srinagar by morning for firefighting by airforce helicopters,” he tweeted.

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Jessica Lal murder case: Manu Sharma released from Tihar Jail

The Delhi Sentence Review Board (SRB) which comes under the Delhi government had recommended Sharma’s premature release last month

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Manu Sharma Jessica Lal

Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal has approved the premature release of Jessica Lal Murder case convict Manu Sharma, who is serving life sentence, according to an official order.

The Delhi Sentence Review Board (SRB) which comes under the Delhi government had recommended Sharma’s premature release last month. The sources said the recommendation was made at a meeting of the SRB chaired by Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain on May 11. Sharma, son of former Union minister Vinod Sharma, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court in December 2006 for killing Jessica Lal in 1999.

A trial court had acquitted him, but the high court reversed the order and the Supreme Court later upheld his life sentence in April 2010. Lal was shot dead by Sharma after she had refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in south Delhi’s Mehrauli area on the night of April 30, 1999.

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Congress alleges ”secret” trip by Kerala CS just before retiring

According to estimates, Chennithala said the quantity of this sand is in excess of one lakh tonnes.

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Ramesh Chennithala

Thiruvananthapuram, June 2 : Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday expressed serious doubts on a ”secret” helicopter trip taken by Tom Jose and State Police chief Loknath Behera, hours before the former retired.

Jose retired on last Saturday from the post of chief secretary and handed over the charge to Vishwas Mehta on Monday morning.

Chennithala told the media here that the trip was a secret one to have a look into the tonnes of sand lying on the banks of river Pamba at the foothills of the famed Sabarimala temple.

According to estimates, Chennithala said the quantity of this sand is in excess of one lakh tonnes.

“Soon after this flying visit, the Pathanamthitta district authorities came out with an order giving the rights of removing this precious sand to the Kannur based state owned Kerala Clays and Ceramics Products,” said Chennithala.

“What is intriguing is neither the forest nor revenue department is aware of what happened. This place is where the Forest Act is in vogue and the Revenue department is responsible for the sand. I read in the media that State Forest Minister K. Raju had no clue on this. This particular company has no expertise or has not done anything conclusive till now. This company is chaired by a top level CPI-M party official from Kannur,” said Chennithala.

Kannur is the home town of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and State Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, under whose department, this company is placed.

“We wish to know if a sand audit was conducted and also was the environmentalist consulted. My question is — what are they going to do with the sand and if there are other ”players” involved in it? Today everything is happening under the guise of Covid, without taking into account even the concerned departments. We are questioning why this is now being done as this sand was lying there for two years. We want to hear from the government and then I will reveal more,” added Chennithala.

–IANS

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Congress flays govt on MSP hike, demands further increase

Jakhar alleged that in many states, the crop procurement was not done as per the MSP and farmers were forced to sell their yield in the open market.

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Sunil Jakhar Punjab Congress

New Delhi, June 2 : A day after the central government announced increased MSP for Kharif crops, the opposition Congress on Tuesday flayed the move and claimed the farmers were being given too little and that input cost had not been taken into account for MSP calculation.

The Congress leader demanded further increase in MSP of different crops and an assurance from the government that the produce will be procured in time.

Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar, who raised the issue on behalf of his party, said: “Farmer is also a corona warrior but nobody cheered him for his contribution. Even the Prime Minister has left him at God”s mercy.”

The Congress said that due to reverse migration of farm labourers, the agricultural cost had increased in many states and government has neglected this factor while announcing the MSP.

The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) report is not in public domain and talk of agricultural reforms remains within the inter-ministerial group while the states — which are stakeholders — don”t even know about it, said Jakhar.

Jakhar alleged that in many states, the crop procurement was not done as per the MSP and farmers were forced to sell their yield in the open market.

“The government is not able to procure all farm produce, with a major chunk of its procurement comprising paddy and wheat,” the Congress leader said.

Earlier, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said: “If this is going to be the government”s attitude towards farmers, their promise to double the farmers” income by 2022 will end up becoming another ”jumla”.”

“Forget about profit, this so-called raise in Kharif crops MSP won”t even cover their losses and debts,” he added

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday approved an increase in the MSPs for all mandated Kharif crops for marketing season 2020-21.

The highest increase in MSPs is for niger seed (Rs 755 per quintal) followed by sesamum (Rs 370 per quintal), urad (Rs 300 per quintal) and cotton (long staple) (Rs 275 per quintal).

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