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NHAI receives ₹5,011 cr from Cube Highways towards TOT third bundle – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-19 20:48:00
Gadkari

NEW DELHI: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has received upfront consideration of 5,011 crore on Monday from Cube Highways, under the third bundle of the toll-operate-transfer (TOT) model.

The award ceremony was conducted via video conferencing and was chaired by road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, minister of state General VK Singh and NHAI chairman Sukhbir Singh Sandhu.

Last year, the highway authority had put up nine stretches of roads, totalling 566 km across, and comprising nine toll plaza across Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Tamil Nadu, in the third round of TOT.

TOT is part of the government’s initiative to monetize public infrastructure and build new assets. Under this model, the highest bidder wins the right to operate and maintain highway assets for 30 years. The one who wins the bid garners toll revenue during that time period.

“The concession period is 30 years and the concessionaire shall operate, maintain and collect the toll during the concession period,” an official statement said.

The first round of TOT in February, 2018 was a success. The winning bidder Macquarie offered 9,691 crore for 700 km highways. However, NHAI cancelled the second bundle that was spread over 584 km over four states as the bids that were received were far below the expectation.

Currently, NHAI is in the process of awarding more stretches under TOT for monetization of its public funded projects. Last month, it invited bids for the fifth set of projects, while cancelling the fourth bundle.

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High level Central teams to monitor Covid-19 in 5 states – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 14:35:00
Coronavirus

New Delhi: Centre on Friday has deputed high level Central teams to five states who are struggling the most with the Covid-19 outbreak. The states are Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. These states have been reporting a surge in the number of new Covid-19 cases in the recent days, said Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in an official release.

Each team comprises of a Jt. Secretary (nodal officer for the respective State), one public health expert to look after the public health aspects, one clinician to look after infection prevention practices, clinical management protocol being followed by the State.

The teams will support the State efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control measures, and efficient clinical management of the positive cases. The Central teams shall also guide in effectively managing the challenges related to timely diagnosis and follow up.

The total cases in Kerala are 3,17,929 which form 4.3% of the total cases. The cases per million stand at 8906. Total number of recovered cases is 2,22,231 accounting for recovery rate of 69.90%. The active cases are 94,609 (comprising 11.8% of the total national figure). Total deaths in the state are 1,089 with Case Fatality Rate of 0.34% and deaths per million of 31. The TPM of Kerala stand at ,and positivity rate is 16.6%.

Karnataka is reporting 7,43,848 total cases accounting for 10.1% of the national figure. It has 11,010 cases per million population. 6,20,008 patients have recovered in the state resulting in recovery rate of 83.35%. The active cases are 1,13,557 (14.1% of national figure). The state has reported total of 10,283 fatalities, CFR of 1.38% and 152 Deaths per Million population. The TPM is 95674 and Positivity Rate is pegged at 11.5%.

Rajasthan has registered 1,67,279 total cases (% share in total: 2.3%), 2,064 Cases Per million and 1,43,984 total number of recoveries with Recovery Rate of 86.07%. The active cases as on date are 21,587 (2.7% share in the national numbers). The numbers of fatalities in the State is 1,708; Case Fatality Rate is 1.02%; and Deaths Per Million stands at 21. TPM is 38,605 with Positivity Rate of 5.3%.

West Bengal has 3,09,417 Total Cases (4.2% of the national cases) amounting to 3,106 Cases Per million population. Total Recovered are 2,71,563 and the Recovery Rate is 87.77%. With 31,984 Active Cases, the State accounts for 4.0% of the total pie. Total Deaths are 5,870; Case Fatality Rate is 1.90% whereas the Deaths per Million population are 59. 37,872 TPM, the Positivity Rate is 8.2%.

Chhattisgarh is reporting 1,53,515 Total Cases (% Share in Total Cases – 2.1%), 5,215 Cases per Million, 1,23,943 Total Recovered and 80.74% Recovery Rate. It has 28,187 Active Cases comprising 3.5% of the national figure. There have been 1385 Total Deaths in the State accounting for Case Fatality Rate of 0.90% and 47 Deaths Per Million. The TPM are 50191 and Positivity Rate is 10.4%.

As an ongoing effort to strengthen efforts of various State/UT Governments for COVID management, the Central Government has been deputing Central teams from time to time to visit various States/UTs. These teams will interact with the State/UT authorities and get a first hand understanding of the challenges and issues being faced by them so as to strengthen their ongoing activities and remove bottlenecks, if any.

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Vice Chief of Indian Army to visit US to boost military ties – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 14:12:00
Indian Army

NEW DELHI :
Vice Chief of the Indian Army Lieutenant General SK Saini is to visit the US on a four day trip starting Sunday with the aim of boosting military cooperation – including training in niche areas, more joint exercises and procurements.

The visit comes days ahead of the India-US “2+2″ talks on 26-27 October in which the foreign and defence ministers of the India and the US are to review the entire gamut of bilateral and defence cooperation. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper are to visit India for the meeting underlining the importance attached to the discussions. The India-US “2+2″ is seen as the last major event of the US diplomatic calendar before the 3 November presidential elections.

During his visit, Saini will visit the US Army Pacific Command (USARPRAC), the Army component of Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) and “exchange ideas extensively with the military leadership apart from witnessing training and equipment capabilities of US Army,” a statement from the Indian army said Friday.

Later Saini will also visit INDOPACOM where “aspects of military cooperation and furthering military to military engagement including procurements, training in niche domains, joint exercises and capability building will be discussed,” the statement said.

“The visit will further enhance the operational and strategic level collaboration between both armies, which is emphasised by the fact India is participating in two joint exercises with the US despite covid-19 restrictions. These are Yudh Abhyas (February 2021) and Vajra Prahar (March 2021),” the statement added.

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India providing free ration to about 80 crore poor for last 7-8 months: PM Modi – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 14:06:00
Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said India has been providing free ration to about 80 crore poor for the last seven to eight months amid COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the coronavirus crisis, many kinds of discussions are going on around the world about starvation and malnutrition. India has been providing free ration to about 80 crore poor for the last 7-8 months. During this time, India distributed foodgrains worth about Rs. 1.5 lakh crores to the poor,” Prime Minister Modi said during an event to release a commemorative coin of 75 denomination to mark the 75th Anniversary of India’s long-standing relation with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“Another important work is being done to tackle malnutrition. Now such crops are being promoted in the country, which are having nutritious substances like protein, iron and zinc in high quantity. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to the World Food Program is a big achievement. India is happy that our contribution and association with it has been historic,” he added.

Prime Minister congratulated everyone on the occasion of World Food Day.

“I congratulate those who are continuously working to eradicate malnutrition from the world. Farmers of India, our agricultural scientists, Anganwadi and Asha workers, are the strong fort of the movement against malnutrition,” he said.

The Prime Minister also dedicated to the nation 17 recently developed biofortified varieties of eight crops on World Food Day.

The event marks the highest priority accorded by the government to agriculture and nutrition and is a testament of the resolve to completely eliminate hunger, undernourishment and malnutrition.

It was being witnessed by Anganwadis, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Organic and Horticulture Missions across the country.

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Head of Tibetan government-in-exile meets US special coordinator – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 13:28:00
China

NEW DELHI :
In a move that is expected to exacerbate frictions between the US and China, the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India, Lobsang Sangay, on Thursday met the newly appointed US special coordinator for Tibetan issues Robert Destro.

Sangay, who lives in exile in India and heads the Central Tibetan Authority shared a picture of his meeting with Destro in Washington on Facebook.

“Great honor to meet with the Special Coordinator on Tibetan Issues Robert A Destro. This is the first time in six decades, a Sikyong (President) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was formally invited inside the State Department,” Sangay said in his post.

Sangay also took the opportunity to thank US secretary of state Mike Pompeo for appointing Destro as the special coordinator earlier this week – something the Chinese foreign ministry responded sharply to on Thursday. “I want to thank the State Department for acknowledging the democratically elected leader of CTA and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for approving the visit. History is made today!” Sangay said in his post.

Destro was on Thursday confirmed as the special coordinator for Tibetan issues, after Pompeo named him to the post earlier this week. The appointment is seen as a move to exert pressure on China on the autonomy of Tibet and bring issues concerning human rights and forced labour to the fore. Incidentally, Destro was part of a delegation visited Taiwan recently with US undersecretary of state for economic growth Keith Krach.

News reports said Pompeo had criticised the Chinese government in a statement in which he said that the US “remains concerned with the PRC (People’s Republic of China)’s repression of the Tibetan community, including the lack of meaningful autonomy, the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas, and severe restrictions on Tibetans’ religious freedom and cultural traditions within China.”

China had hit back calling the appointment an attempt to interfere in China’s domestic affairs. Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the appointment is a case of political manipulation. “Tibet affairs are China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. The setting up of the so-called coordinator for Tibetan issues is entirely out of political manipulation to interfere in China’s internal affairs and destabilise Tibet. China firmly opposes that,” Zhao told reporters on Thursday.

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Vaishno Devi temple: Helicopter services to Covid tests, all details explained – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 13:17:00
Mata vaishno devi

Following coronavirus protocols, special arrangements have been made for the Navratri festival at Mata Vaishno Devi temple, which will start on Saturday. “Pony, Pithu, and Palki services have resumed. Helicopter and battery car services are operational too. Devotees coming from outside Jammu and Kashmir need a valid COVID-19 negative test report to enter the temple. We have a COVID-19 testing facility here too,” Ramesh Kumar, CEO Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Jammu told ANI.

Per-day pilgrims limit increased

According to the shrine board, the per-day pilgrims limit has been increased from five thousand to seven thousand and the ‘Mata Vaishno Devi’ app has also been launched for devotees to experience live darshan from the comfort of their homes.

Rapid Antigen Testing

Rapid Antigen Testing is being conducted for pilgrims, and masks are also mandatory as per the COVID-19 protocols.

“The sanitization and testing facility at the temple is excellent. The shrine looks beautiful and we’re so happy to be present at Mata Vaishno Devi temple during Navratri festival,” Shivani Rajput, a pilgrim, said.

Renowned bhajan singers during Navratras

Mata Vaishno Devi has been decorated with flowers and renowned bhajan singers will perform at the Vaishno Devi Darbar on the nine days of Navratras.

Home delivery of prasad

The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, along with the Postal Department, has also started home delivery of prasad for devotees. The devotees who are unable to visit the shrine located between three peaked mountains, popularly known as ‘Trikuta’, can now get the ‘Pooja Prasad’ delivered to their home.

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Delhi Decoded: Is stubble burning the main cause for Delhi’s pollution? – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 13:16:00
Delhi Pollution

NEW DELHI :
With winter setting in, air pollution levels in Delhi are on a constant rise. The Centre and the state government have announced steps to improve the air quality which is already “very poor”. Blame game has begun between Delhi and neighbouring states to control the pollution caused by stubble burning.

Siddharth Singh, an energy and climate policy researcher who is also the author of The Great Smog of India said that while stubble burning accounts for 50% of the pollution in winter months, on a regular basis majority of the pollution in Delhi is from internal sources.

In podcast Singh said that five sectors including transport, cooking and residential sector, industry and services, dust both from fields around Delhi but also through construction activity and biomass burning which includes stubble burning are part of the sources.

“It is not just that all of this is happening within Delhi. Depending on the time of the year but around 30-40% of Delhi’s air pollutants can be sourced from outside. If about 60% of the pollutants come from Delhi itself it means that Delhi can do something to reduce pollution levels with its borders,” he said.

He said that while something needs to be done to control stubble burning in the winter months, steps need to be taken in the rest of the year to control pollution from other sources.

“At the peak, which is going to happen from the end of October or beginning of November, at that time almost 50% of Delhi’s air pollutants is sourced through stubble burning alone. This may average out through the year. It’s not Delhi’s problem alone. It is not just a city problem but also a rural problem. It is a multi-faceted problem and to deal with it all five sectors have to be dealt with,” he added.

Delhi sees a spike in pollution levels in the winter months which government officials believe is due to the fumes from stubble burning in the neighbouring states. With covid-19 affecting lungs, officials are worried about the effect of pollution on lungs as well. In the past, schemes including the car rationing scheme – odd even have had to be implemented to control vehicular pollution.

Delhi Decoded is a weekly podcast. You can listen to all the episodes here.

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Cinemas struggle with content, lean on old hits in first phase of reopening – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 12:59:00
Bollywood

NEW DELHI: For India’s movie theatres, reopening, though welcome, comes with its own set of challenges. Battling lack of new offerings, cinema owners, apart from those in West Bengal, which will see fresh releases in Bangla for Durga Puja, are hesitatingly making do with older hits like Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, Thappad, Good Newwz, Housefull 4, Chhichhore, Dream Girl to restart business this weekend.

Just as Bollywood doesn’t see value in releasing new films immediately, Hollywood too has pushed several titles out of the release calendar this year. It is considering only the second half of next year and beyond, to truly woo audiences back. Warner Bros, for instance, has moved superhero film The Batman from April 2021 to March 2022, The Matrix 4 to December 2021 while another superhero film Black Adam does not have a release date now after originally being slated for December 2021.

Universal Pictures too has delayed its science fiction adventure franchise Jurassic World: Dominion to June 2022, from the summer of 2021. Sony Pictures has also shuffled a few of its upcoming releases, such as Escape Room 2, which has been bumped to an undetermined future date in 2021 from its original December 2020 release. The new James Bond film, No Time to Die, expected to bring audiences back in the first phase of reopening, has been pushed from November 2020 to April 2021.

The latest move comes on the back of a spate of delays announced earlier–Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick was pushed from June to December 2020 and then slated for July 2021, while horror flick A Quiet Place Part II will premiere in April 2021 instead of September 2020.

“Top markets for (Christopher Noaln’s) Tenet and (Disney’s) Mulan haven’t performed up to expectations of the makers,” film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar tweeted about the only two high-profile Hollywood films to have hit screens in the past few weeks.

“Hollywood, is pretty much, sure of audiences being scared and is moving all major releases to 2021 so 2020 is a wipe out,” he added.

The absence of big-ticket Hollywood offerings is not good news for India where local producers are not keen to release new films immediately — in case they haven’t already been acquired by video streaming platforms. In an article for movie portal Film Information, trade analyst Komal Nahta said a lot of cinemas around the country haven’t opened their doors this weekend despite permits from the government due to lack of content.

“Since cinemas haven’t reopened across India and…particularly so in Bombay (Maharashtra) which is the nerve centre of the film industry, no producer has shown inclination to release a new film. Also, multiplexes have refused to screen films which have been premiered on OTT platforms in the last four-and-a-half months,” Nahta wrote.

Though they foresee some tough times ahead, some exhibitors are keeping their fingers crossed.

“It’s how you look at it. We were shut for seven months but at least, we’re open now. It will be a challenge to run the show but we shall make whole-hearted efforts,” PV Sunil, managing director at Carnival Cinemas said.

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FAO’s 75th anniversary: PM Narendra Modi releases commemorative coin – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 12:56:00
FAO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today released a commemorative coin of 75 denomination to mark the long-standing relation of India with Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO).

The coin was released on the occasion of 75th Anniversary of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The Prime Minister also dedicated to the nation 17 recently developed biofortified varieties of eight crops on World Food Day.

The event marks the highest priority accorded by the government to agriculture and nutrition and is a testament of the resolve to completely eliminate hunger, undernourishment and malnutrition.It is being witnessed by Anganwadis, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Organic and Horticulture Missions across the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the government is committed towards procurement of agri crops at minimum support price (MSP) and termed it as an important part of the country’s food security.

He further said that efforts are being made to improve Mandi infrastructure so that MSP buying continues in a scientific way.

“MSP and government procurement are an important part of the country’s food security. It is important that it continues to function with better facilities and in a scientific way. We are committed towards this,” Modi said after releasing a commemorative coin of 75 denomination on the 75th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

He said the government in the last six years has been investing in boosting infrastructure facilities at Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs).

APMCs (mandis) have their own identity and strength and they have been in the country for years, he added.

“The journey of FAO in making the vulnerable classes and masses stronger, economically and nutritionally, has been unparalleled. India has had a historic association with FAO. Indian Civil Service Officer Dr Binay Ranjan Sen was the Director General of FAO during 1956-1967. The World Food Programme, which has won the Nobel Peace Prize 2020, was established during his time. India’s proposals for the International Year of Pulses in 2016 and the International Year of Millets 2023 have also been endorsed by FAO,” the Prime Minister’s Office had said in a statement.

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Delhi govt exempts registration fee for electric vehicles – News in India by Post24x7

2020-10-16 12:30:00
Delhi Govt

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on Friday exempted electric vehicles from registration fee in the national capital. Delhi govt had already exempted electric vehicles from road tax on 11th October.

More details awaited

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