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Texas recovery could cost $180 bn: Governor

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Washington, Sep 4: Governor Greg Abbott of the US state of Texas has said the bill for reconstruction after Hurricane Harvey could be as high as $180 billion.

He said on Sunday the damage was worse than that caused by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005, BBC reported.

Meanwhile, the head of the government’s disaster management agency has warned that flood-hit states should not rely on Washington to pick up the bill. Brock Long said Harvey should be a wake-up call for local officials.

Recovery operations are under way across Texas, and in neighbouring Louisiana, although many areas are still battling floodwater.

The devastating hurricane made landfall in the state a week ago and has been blamed for at least 47 deaths. About 43,000 people are being housed in shelters.

The US government has already asked Congress for $7.85 billion as an initial contribution towards recovery efforts, which Abbott called a “down payment”.

He had previously said the state might need more than $125bn in aid, but revised that figure up on Sunday.

“Katrina caused, if I recall, more than $120 billion (of damage) but when you look at the number of homes and business affected by this I think this will cost well over $120 billion, probably $150 billion to $180 billion,” he told Fox News.

The White House has warned that the US debt ceiling – the cap on government spending – will need to be raised to meet the bill for recovery. Only Congress can raise that limit.

Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told CBS that Harvey should be a lesson to state officials that they needed to set aside reserve funds for their own emergency management departments.

“It is a wake-up call for this country for local and state elected officials to give their governors and their emergency management directors the full budgets that they need to be fully staffed, to design rainy-day funds, to have your own stand-alone individual assistance and public assistance programmes,” he said.

IANS

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Unholy nexus of BJP govt and MNCs stands exposed: Congress

“If on June 16, hand sanitisers were essential commodities up till 30th December, 2020; what changed in 15 days? Why does the government want the people to be charged high prices? Why no price limit on these essentials to fight Covid-19? Is the war on Covid over?” Surjewala questioned.

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Randeep Surjewala

New Delhi, July 10 : The Congress on Friday criticised the Narendra Modi government over its decision to remove face masks and hand sanitisers from the essential commodities list. It said that an “unholy nexus” between the BJP government and the MNCs stands exposed.

In a series of tweets, Congress national media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Opportunity in Adversity said the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi). The unholy nexus of BJP government with MNCs/Companies of profiteering at the cost of people stands exposed. Government has removed face masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities. Now, masks/hand sanitisers can be sold at any MRP.”

He further said, “On June 16, the BJP government had said — As lockdown has been relaxed, demand for hand sanitisers may increase & it should continue to be covered under EC Act till Dec 31, 2020.. ”its continued availability is of paramount importance” & “to ensure its availability at affordable rates.” Surjewala also attached a copy of the June 16 order in his tweet.

“If on June 16, hand sanitisers were essential commodities up till 30th December, 2020; what changed in 15 days? Why does the government want the people to be charged high prices? Why no price limit on these essentials to fight Covid-19? Is the war on Covid over?” Surjewala questioned.

His remarks came after the government”s decision to remove hand sanitisers and face masks from the essential commodities list. On Friday, India recorded 26,502 cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours taking the total tally to 7,93,802 cases with 21,604 fatalities due to the pandemic.

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Closed Markaz, no foreigners dims hopes for Nizamuddin shopkeepers

In comparison to the adjoining Bhogal market, Nizamuddin market is primarily focused on the needs of the visitors to the Markaz. Now since the markaz has been closed, the usual flow of customers is missing.

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Nizamuddin Markaz

New Delhi, July 10 : A group of five men in white kurta pyjamas wait outside the Nizamuddin Markaz for the local policeman to arrive. After some anxious moments, the policeman arrives on a motorcycle with the building”s key. It is time for afternoon prayers and only five people are permitted to offer prayers inside the Markaz five times a day. As he unlocks the gate, the five men walk in to offer Zohar Namaz.

Khaleeq, who has his small shop, selling skull caps, beads and other religious items, exactly opposite the Markaz entrance, feels that with foreigners gone from the area, the market will have a hard time to pick up.

“With the uncertainty on when foreigners would be allowed in Markaz now, the business at Nizamuddin market is badly hit. Most of the shops here are based on the foreigners” needs and demands. With no foreign customers, we are facing heavy losses,” he said.

The worst affected are money exchange shops which were mostly dependent on foreigners” visit to Markaz.

Ahmed Uzair, a banker who resides in Nizamuddin, believes that the market might now pay the price of being too much dependent on foreign customers attending the jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz.

“Many shopkeepers are vacating their shops as they are unable to pay the rent. Many have packed up and went to their native places as they see a bleak future of what was once a flourishing market,” Uzair said.

After de-containment of Nizamuddin, the barricades present at the main road leading to Nizamuddin Markaz has been removed now but there are little or no customers in the market.

In comparison to the adjoining Bhogal market, Nizamuddin market is primarily focused on the needs of the visitors to the Markaz. Now since the markaz has been closed, the usual flow of customers is missing.

“Not just foreigners but visitors from other states in India formed the backbone for the survival of this market. It”s facing a tough time now and it seems it will continue for some time,” said Shamshad Ahmed, another shopkeeper in the area.

The Markaz was closed since the lockdown and on the night of March 29, police and health authorities started bringing people out from the Markaz and sent them to hospitals and quarantine facilities.

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PIL in Gujarat HC for saffron symbol on ”Made in India” products

It also sought the government assign different coloured symbols on products, so that an illiterate or semi-literate person can also recognise the place of origin.

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Gujarat High Court

Gandhinagar, July 9 : The Gujarat High Court has issued notice to the Centre and state governments on a PIL seeking colour coded symbols on products sold online, so that ignorant or illiterate persons can also recognise the place of the origin of the product and seeking direction to assign saffron coloured symbol to products ”Made in India.”

Ahmedabad resident Yatin Soni, in his PIL, said that the products that are sold on online platforms and web portals do not inform the prospective consumers about the manufacturing place of the product, the origin of the manufacturers and other details, which violates the fundamental rights of freedom of information ensured to Indian citizens.

After the ”Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, any prospective consumer, when ordering products from online platforms and web portals, should be allowed to avail of the information of the country where the product is manufactured, the nationality of the manufacturer et al, it said, adding that, at present there is no provision in law that mandates the manufacturer to display such information.

The PIL seeks directions to the Centre and the Gujarat government to mandate the manufacturer displays, on the web portal information about whether a particular product is manufactured by Indian company and in India, whether it is manufactured by an Indian company but outside India, whether it is manufactured by a foreign company in a foreign land, or in India, and if the manufacturer is an multinational company (MNC), the share of the Indian partner.

It also sought the government assign different coloured symbols on products, so that an illiterate or semi-literate person can also recognise the place of origin.

Apart for a saffron symbol for India-made products, it sought blue colour for Indian manufacturer producing product outside India, red for foreign company manufacturing outside India, yellow for products by foreign manufacturer produced in India and pink colour for products by MNCs.

The PIL also mentioned that after the Galwan valley incident – where 20 Indian soldiers were killed by the Chinese, there were many Indian customers who wanted to boycott Chinese products.

Soni said that the high court, after issuing notice, had slated the next hearing for July 29.

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