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Supreme Court clears Chardham highway project

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Chardham Yatra Marg Project

New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court has allowed various works in progress under Centre’s Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna plan for connecting four holy places — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kdarnath and Badrinath — by an all-weather road.

An apex court bench comprising Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Surya Kant also ordered the Ministry of Environment and Forests to form a high-powered committee (HPC) by August 22.

The bench said the committee will consider cumulative as well as independent impact of the Chardham project on entire Himalayan valleys.

The committee will also give directions to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the court said and asked the committee to submit its recommendations within four months.

The bench said the committee will hold quarterly meetings to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measure after each review meeting.

The committee would consider if revision of the full Chardham project should at all take place in order to minimize the adverse impact on the environment and social life.

The court said the committee will also assess the environmental degradation, loss of forest lands, water resources and the impact on the wildlife. The committee will direct mitigation measures.

The court was hearing a plea by NGO Citizen for Green Doon against the National Green Tribunal’s September 26 2018 order giving its conditional approval to the connectivity project in view of larger public interest.

The NGT, while clearing the Chardham project, had said: “We are of the view that all environmental concerns can be addressed by having a responsible and independent oversight mechanism which may monitor the environmental safeguards during the execution of the project.”

The NGO said the NGT, instead of looking at the entire project as one whole, viewed it in over 50 segments, which made them appear small projects not necessitating environment clearance or public hearing.

The NGO said that the hills in the region are fragile and that if the project is allowed to continue, it would cause an irreversible damage to ecology that would be equal to the damage done together by 10 hydro power projects.

India

Weird statements of Nirmala, Piyush will not lead to betterment of economy: Yashwant Sinha

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Yashwant Sinha

Indore, Sep 15 : Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha termed the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s reasoning behind decline in the automobile sector as “weird” and asked whether she can explain how the sales of trucks declined.Further saying that farmers condition should be improve for the betterment of the Indian economy .

“We should have grown at a rate of at least eight percent. the GDP growth has come down to five percent The missing three percent growth meant loss of Rs. 6 lakh crore in just one quarter, he claimed.

Speaking to media persons in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, the former finance minister said, “People in the government are making weird statements. These statements will not lead to betterment of economy. But they will definitely affect the government’s image.”

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s stated that decline in the automobile sector is because of millennials using app-based cab services Ola and Uber instead of buying car.

To the reason given by the minister of Modi government for the decline in the sale of cars, Sinha questioned, “If companies like Ola and Uber caused a drop in passenger vehicle sales, then why there is a slowdown in sales of two-wheelers and trucks?”

Sinha even mocked the Piyush Goyal’s statement while defending the finance minister . “A Union minister (Piyush Goyal) is talking about Einstein’s law of gravity,” the former BJP leader said.

Piyush Goyal was defending the government against the allegations of the economic slowdown. He was trying to answer the question of how projected GDP growth rates don’t seem to align with the $5 trillion-dollar economy mission when he said something interesting — “Maths didn’t help Einstein discover gravity”.

“Bihar’s finance minister (Sushil Modi) said there is recession due to Sawan-Bhado (the rainy season).” the former BJP leader said.

Sinha also asked how can Sitharaman equate the economies of India and UAE and questioned the announcement to organize a mega-shopping festival in India on the lines of Dubai Shopping Festival to boost exports.

“The economies of UAE (United Arab Emirates) and India are different. India’s economy will progress only when farmers in areas like Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh progress,” he said.

Critical of the merger plan, he said”I am not opposed to merger. But it will not reduce their non-performing assets automatically, rather bank officials will get tied up in completing merger formalities instead of focusing on actual banking.”

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‘Deadly’ malaria cases detected in 11 Uttar Pradesh districts

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Lucknow, Sep 15 Eleven districts in Uttar Pradesh have reported cases of the ‘deadly’ plasmodium falciparum (PF) malaria this year.

According to data issued by the state’s health department, a total of 852 PF cases were detected from January to August this year and of these, the highest were reported from Bareilly (707).

The other 10 districts where PF was detected are Pilibhit, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, Bahraich, Kanpur Dehat, Kushinagar, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Lalitpur and Gautam Buddh Nagar.

Officials said that 39,135 cases of the plasmodium vivax (PV), the most widespread and common form of malaria, and 852 cases of PF were reported in Uttar Pradesh from January to August this year.

Out of total 852 persons tested positive with PF, 707 were in Bareilly, 106 in Budaun, 23 in Sonbhadra, five in Shahjahanpur, three each in Pilibhit and Bahraich and one each in Kanpur Dehat, Kushinagar, Mirzapur, Lalitpur and Gautam Buddh Nagar.

The malaria cases drastically increased in the month of September in Bareilly and Badaun.

Joint Director (malaria) Avadhesh Yadav said: “Following an outbreak of malaria last year in Bareilly and Badaun, the cases are on the rise in these two districts but the situation will be controlled by the end of the year. Except Sonebhadra, other districts have reported only a few PF cases.

“Whenever a person is tested positive with PF malaria, the health teams have conducting special activity. At least 50 houses situated in the radius of the residence of the PF patient were sprayed with pyrethrum, a natural insecticide. Besides fogging and larvicidal spraying was also carried out.”

The health department has sprayed larvicides in 22 villages, fogged 116 villages and sprayed pyrethrum in 193 villages of Bareilly to contain the breeding of mosquitoes this year till August.

In neighboring Badaun, larvicides have been sprayed in 140 villages, while fogging and spraying with pyrethrum has been done in 125 and 66 villages respectively.

Most of the malaria cases being reported since January, were detected in three blocks of Bareilly and four blocks of Badaun on the Bareilly-Budaun border.

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India-Pakistan tensions: Security beefed up along the LoC

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india-pakistan-border army ceasefire

New Delhi, Sep 15 The Indian Army has intensified its presence along the Line of Control (LoC) in view of Pakistan’s increased aggressive posture since Parliament ended special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 6.

On Saturday, the Commander of Army’s Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, reviewed security preparedness along the LoC in the light of military threat from Pakistan. Earlier, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had also visited the valley to review India’s preparedness at the LoC.

In the first week of September, Pakistan moved a brigade-sized force to a location 30km away from the LoC within its own territory as was reported by the Army quoting intel sources.

The troops numbering around 2,000 soldiers has been placed at the Bagh and Kotli sector opposite PoK in Pakistan.

Pakistan has also scaled up ceasefire violations on the LoC.

A day after the historic decision on Jammu and Kashmir on August 6, Imran Khan had made veiled references to a possible war with India while addressing a joint session of the Pakistan parliament.

“Attacks like Pulwama are bound to happen again. I can already predict this will happen. They will attempt to place the blame on us again. They may strike us again, and we will strike back … What will happen then? Who will win that war? No one will win it and it will have grievous consequences for the entire world. This is not nuclear blackmail,” Khan had said.

Khan reiterated his veiled threats about a possible nuclear war with India in an interview to Al Jazeera channel on Saturday.

“Pakistan would never start a war, and I am clear: I am a pacifist, I am anti-war, I believe that wars do not solve any problems… (But) when two nuclear-armed countries fight, if they fight a conventional war, there is every possibility that it is going to end up into nuclear war. The unthinkable,” said Khan.

India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was a two-nation tour of East Asia during that period of time, also retorted strongly, making India’s stance clear about its response to any military misadventure by Pakistan.

“India has never been an aggressor in its history nor will it ever be. But that does not mean that India would balk at using its strength to defend itself,” Singh said in South Korea.

Security sources have assessed that at least 40 to 50 trained militants have crossed over into India over last one month or so.

It is also estimated that around 200 to 250 trained militants are waiting to enter India particularly because outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba have activated terror launch pads along the LoC.

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