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Kerala: 15 dead, over 60 missing in Idukki landslide

The landslide occurred after heavy rains over the last few days in the area mostly inhabited by tea estate workers

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Kerala Landslide

Heavy rain followed by a landslide at Rajamalai in Idukki district on Thursday night has left at least 15 persons dead, including a child, and more than 60 others are reported missing, a police official said on Friday.

The latest reports indicate that there were nearly 100 people in the locality, most of whom had returned to the area following the Covid scare. The landslide occurred after heavy rains over the last few days in the area mostly inhabited by tea estate workers.

The place where the tragedy occurred is nearly 30 km from the popular tourist destination Munnar.

A police official taking part in the rescue operations said 15 bodies had been recovered and nearly 67 people were missing.

Incessant rains for the last four days have hampered rescue operations, added the police official.

Meanwhile, the state government has appointed IGP Gopesh Agarwal as special officer to coordinate the rescue and relief operations in the locality.

A 200-member team of Kerala police and other teams from the NDRF, fire brigade, local people and volunteers have reached the spot for rescue work. By the time of filing this report, 16 persons had been rescued.

Meanwhile, a larger tragedy was averted when a bridge connecting the accident site to the main road, which was partially damaged, was quickly made motorable enabling numerous ambulances to take the injured to the hospital.

The women of the locality work in tea estates of the area while most men work as jeep drivers. The authorities got to know of the tragedy after two residents reached a nearby forest station and informed officials late Thursday night.

Deepan, one of the four survivors admitted to a hospital in Munnar said he had no clue about his father and his wife who were with him in the house when the landslide occurred. His mother has, however, been moved to the Kottayam Medical College hospital in a serious condition.

“For the past 10 days, it has been pouring. The landslide occurred around 10.30 pm on Thursday. I do not know about my father, wife, and my brother’s family. There are three rows of houses in the cluster where nearly 80 people live. Do not know what has happened to them. Nearly 30 jeeps were buried in the landslide,” Deepan said.

The Kerala government’s efforts to get an air rescue team to the spot failed due to inclement weather. However, two teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were reportedly on the way to the disaster site.

All communication lines to the area have been snapped and roads to the hilly area are blocked due to uprooting of trees, officials said.

State Power minister MM Mani, who hails from the district, said the landslide had occurred at a place where tea estate workers were staying.

“I will not quote any figure as I do not have sufficient information. The place is at the top of a hill. We are awaiting a response, the local legislator is also going to the spot. All emergency services have been pressed into service,” Mani added.

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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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