6 Killed As Wall Collapses In Punjab


The injured persons were shifted to the Government Medical College and Hospital (Representational)

Chandigarh: 

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each for the kin of those killed in a wall collapse here.

Directing the deputy commissioner to ensure that best possible medial aid is given to five others inured, Mr Singh said the entire cost of their treatment will be borne by the state government.

Six labourers died and five others were injured after the wall of an under-construction rice sheller collapsed today.

The injured persons were shifted to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector-32 in Chandigarh.

An FIR was registered under Section 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC against the owner of the rice sheller.

The chief minister has directed the PWD to submit a technical report, detailing the reasons behind the wall collapse, an official spokesperson said here.





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Dalit Man Beaten To Death In UP’s Pilbhit By Niece’s Lover


The victim was allegedly attacked with sticks by the youth and some others, police said.

Pilbhit: 

A 45-year-old Dalit man was beaten to death in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit district allegedly by his niece’s lover who is from a different caste, police said today.

The incident happened a couple of days back at Bhagwantpur village in Bilsanda area — 215 km northwest of Lucknow. The victim, Shiv Kumar, had gone to call back his niece who went to her lover’s house, resulting in a dispute between Kumar and the youth, an OBC, police said.

When Kumar was returning home without his niece, he was allegedly attacked with sticks by the youth and some others, police said.

Kumar was taken to a hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival, the officer said, adding that a case had been registered against seven people.





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Rahul Gandhi Says I’m For Love, His Love Mani Shankar Aiyar Is Back: BJP


Congress chief Rahul Gandhi revoked Mr Aiyar’s suspension from the party yesterday

New Delhi: 

The BJP today took on Rahul Gandhi over the revocation of suspension from his party of Mani Shankar Aiyar, who had used objectionable language against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying it exposed the Congress chief and his “love for a person of many controversies”.

Mr Aiyar was suspended from the primary membership of the Congress on December 7 last year for his “neech aadmi” remarks against PM Modi on the eve of the Gujarat Assembly polls.

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters here, party spokesperson Sambit Patra questioned why Mr Aiyar was taken back by the Congress, wondering if the party was incomplete without him.

“Rahul Gandhi had clarified that the Congress did not support Aiyar’s foul language and that there was no place for such leaders in the party. But now, the way he has been taken back shows it was only a lip service and the Congress president stands exposed,” he said.

Citing various controversial statements made by Mr Aiyar against PM Modi, the BJP leader said he was the real face of the Congress.

Referring to a tweet of Mr Gandhi where he said he was the Congress and the Congress was love, Mr Patra wondered whether this love was for Mr Aiyar, a man of many controversies.

“Rahul Gandhi tweets, saying I am Congress and I am love and now, his love Mani Shankar Aiyar is back…a man of many controversies,” he said.

The Congress chief revoked Mr Aiyar’s suspension from the party yesterday on the recommendation of its central disciplinary committee.

Mr Aiyar had also courted controversy when he hosted a former Pakistani foreign minister and senior Congress leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, at his residence here ahead of the Gujarat polls.

The issue had become a major campaign point for the BJP with PM Modi personally raking it up.





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As Floods Ravage Kerala Unsung Heroes Bring Smiles To Those Stranded


Visuals show Wing Commander Prashanth airlifting the two-year-old boy and bringing him to safety.

Thiruvananthapuram: 

Braving inclement weather and risky conditions, a young Air Force officer dramatically winched up a toddler to safety from the roof-top of a marooned house in rain-battered Kerala.

Thousands of people are battling all odds to survive as the death toll has touched 197 in the past 10 days in the second spell of monsoon fury since August 8.

Wing Commander Prashanth slid down a rope to the terrace of the two-storey house which seemed from above like a toy floating on the yellowish murky waters.

TV visuals showed the officer airlifting the two-year-old boy with care, pressing him to his body and bringing him to safety.

The proud officer later handed over the baby to his anxious mother waiting inside the chopper.

The woman, who was almost in tears, was all gratitude and smiles as she received her bundle of joy in her hands.

Prashanth is one among many unsung heroes who have brought smiles to the faces of anxious and panic-stricken people of Kerala, reeling under the worst floods of a century.

Another TV grab showed some girls, trapped in their hostel room for days without food and water, making a lucky escape after an IAF helicopter came to their rescue.

They cried and hugged each other after all the stranded were safely pulled up into the helicopter on Saturday.

Commander Vijay Varma, who saved a pregnant woman in labour by winching her up in a helicopter from a stranded building, was later happy to hear that she had successfully delivered a baby boy.

“This was a very challenging task. We got an SOS and we traced them out…There is tremendous satisfaction, both professionally and personally,” the officer said later.

The social media was all praise for the exceptional courage shown by the Indian Navy’s Captain P Rajkumar who airlifted over 25 persons battling challenging conditions.

The visual of a man kneeling down in muddy waters to help women step on to him to get into rescue boats went viral today.

The man in a blue shirt was seen kneeling, with his face hardly a few inches above the flood waters, and women stepping onto his back to climb up to a rescue boat.

The act of IAS officers M G Rajamanikyam and N S Umesh who unloaded rice sacks at the Wayanad Collectorate for distribution at relief camps was also celebrated by netizens.

As soon as news of the devastating floods and the plight of the stranded came out, 600 odd fishermen immediately turned up with their country and mechanised boats to help rescue those marooned in various parts of the state.

Thousands of people, including women, children and college students are tediously working at various centres across the state free of cost to gather essential materials, including food, medicines, cloths to send to relief camps.

Union Tourism minister K J Alphons, who visited some relief camps in Thiruvananthapuram today, said they are the ‘unsung heroes’.

Many people are still stranded in their homes with no food and sheaths of water around them at various places in Alapuzha, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.

The maximum death toll has been reported from Idukki district, where 43 people have lost their lives so far, as per official estimates.

Kerala has to rebuild itself after the worst floods in over a century. Hundreds have died and lakhs are homeless. Here is how you can help.





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After Haridwar Immersion, Lucknow Procession Planned For Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Ashes


Mr Vajpayee’s ashes were immersed by foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya and granddaughter.

New Delhi: 

The ashes of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were immersed in the river Ganga in Haridwar today in a power packed ceremony, attended by Chief Ministers of two states – Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand – home minister Rajnath Singh and BJP chief Amit Shah. The party, which was in the middle of prepping for next year’s elections, plans to hold a huge ceremony, complete with a cavalcade, when the former Prime Minister’s ashes arrive in Lucknow and are immersed in river Gomti on Tuesday.

The BJP patriarch — who represented Lucknow in parliament for years — had died at Delhi’s AIIMS on Thursday after a long illness. His funeral was attended by leaders from across the country and foreign dignitaries.

The BJP had said Mr Vajpayee’s ashes will be immersed in rivers across the country – as befits a leader whose life was dedicated to the nation. Also in memory of the iconic leader’s broad views that brought him huge respect across political lines, the BJP said it wished to hold “all-party” condolence meetings, especially in Lucknow.

This morning, the first of the urns reached Haridwar – the second holiest pilgrim towns of India after Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP had taken out full-page ads in newspapers to announce the event, which took place in the afternoon. The ashes were immersed at Har ki Paudi – a ghat dedicated to the Lord Shiva and a landmark in the temple town – by the former Prime Minister’s foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya and granddaughter Niharika.

The huge attendance at Mr Vajpayee’s funeral was a reflection of the respect he gained from all quarters for his politics, statesmanship and oratory. PM Modi, who visited the ailing BJP patriarch in hospital five times, has said Mr Vajpayee had been a father-figure to him.

Other BJP ruled states – Jharkhand and Rajasthan – have already declared that they are also getting a share of the ashes, which will be immersed in the rivers of the state with ceremony.





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Railways’ Operating Ratio Worsens, It Spends Rs 111 To Earn Rs 100


New Delhi: 

How much did Indian Railways spend to earn every Rs 100 in April-July this year?

In this period, the national transporter set a record-high operating ratio of 111.51 per cent – which means it spent Rs 111.51 to generate every Rs 100, reflective of lower growth in traffic against the set target and heavy outgo on account of increased pension liability and working expenses.

Operating ratio is a gauge of operational efficiency that measures expenses as a proportion of revenue. It indicates the organisation’s operating expenses divided by its operating revenues, which helps to check its performance.

A higher ratio in railways indicates less ability to generate surplus funds that could be used for capital investments such as laying new lines and deploying more coaches.

Facing stiff competition from other modes of transport in carrying people and freight, the Railways earned Rs 17,273.37 crore from passengers against a target of Rs 17,736.09 crore in the first four months of the current fiscal, according to data put together by the Railways’ finance wing.

Railways’ goods earnings were also below the budget projection during April-July 2018 at Rs 36,480.41 crore as against the target of Rs 39,253.41 crore.

The total earnings of the Railways for the current fiscal ending July is Rs 56,717.84 crore against the target of Rs 61,902.51 crore.

Working expenses have exceeded the budget projection for the April-July period — the Railways incurred Rs 52,517.71 crore as ordinary working expenses against the target of Rs 50,487.36 crore.

“Besides the working expenses, there are other expenditures which are causing operating ratio to exceed the target,” a senior Railway official told IANS.

The pension liability, expenditure of Railway Board and railway institutions apart from the ordinary working expense which has far exceeding the total incomes during April-July 2018 resulting in operating ratio touching 111.51.

After the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, the total pension outgo has been estimated at Rs 47,000 crore, which means railways has paid about Rs 12,000 crore during the period under review.

However, the official said this was a lean period for traffic and typically operating ratio improves in the last quarter of a financial year.

The operating ratio has been hovering above 90 per cent for the last five or six years.

For the whole of financial year 2018-19, operating ratio is estimated at 92.8 per cent as against 96 per cent in 2017-18. There are high hopes on freight earnings with estimated increase of 51 million tonnes in 2018-19.

“The last three months of the fiscal are crucial when freight picks up pace and we are hopeful that we will achieve the target,” the official said.

The Railways has earmarked its highest ever capital expenditure of Rs 1.48 lakh crore for the current fiscal and has also focused on capacity augmentation, electrification, station redevelopment and overall infrastructure upgradation. 





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Congress Led Best Decade For Growth Since Independence: P Chidambaram


This is based on back series data on GDP by a committee of National Statistical Commission. (File)

New Delhi: 

The Congress-led UPA-1 and UPA-2 governments delivered the highest decadal growth since Independence, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said today while taking a dig at the current dispensation alleging that three finance ministers are handling the economy at present -a de-facto, a de-jure and an invisible one.

The average growth rate under the UPA-1 government was 8.87 per cent, during which it also cloaked double digit growth rate of 10.08 per cent in 2006-07 and under the UPA-2 dispensation, it was 7.39 per cent, he said, citing data on gross domestic product (GDP) released by the Statistics Ministry.

Reacting to the claim, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the data was not official and that it had not been accepted by the government yet.

“It seems whenever the Congress party is unable to succeed, it starts celebrating its failures. During the UPA regimes, Inflation was rising and they were unable to check current account deficit, whereas under the Narendra Modi government India has become one of the six largest economies in the world,” he said.

“During Narendra Modi’s regime, the country has transformed from the Fragile Five Economies to fabulous few destinations,” Mr Patra said.

An investment banking firm labelled Turkey, Brazil, India, South Africa and Indonesia as the Fragile Five Economies.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said, “UPA 1 and UPA 2 delivered the highest decadal growth (8.13 per cent at factor cost) since Independence. It is also a matter of record that during this period 140 million people were lifted out of poverty.”

The back series data on GDP prepared by the Committee on Real Sector Statistics, constituted by the National Statistical Commission, was released on the website of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) on Friday.

The report compares growth rates between old series 2004-05 and new series based on 2011-12 prices.

Taking on the Narendra Modi-led government over the staggering growth rate, he said the current regime inherited an economy that was on the upswing. Unfortunately, after the first two years, the government stumbled and the momentum was lost.

The main reasons were demonetisation, flawed implementation of GST and tax terrorism, the Congress leader said.

He further said that “three finance ministers are handling the economy at present – a de-facto, a de-jure and an invisible one”.

“Congress is a passionate advocate of high growth with equity and social justice. All three have suffered under the government of Narendra Modi,” he said.

Conveying his wishes to the government well in its fifth year, for the sake of the country, the Congress leader said it cannot match the average growth rate of UPA 1, but “we hope it can catch up with the average growth rate of UPA 2.”





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Bollywood Stands With Kerala, Stars Tweet Lets Do Whatever We Can


Kerala is facing the worst floods since 1924. Bollywood urges fans to contribute for relief

Kerala: 

Bollywood actors have been donated crores towards the flood relief fund in Kerala, struck by the deadly deluge. Not only the stars, their fan clubs have pitched in to garner as much support as possible so that people donate generously for lakhs of people who are at the relief camps across the state. 

Actors have taken to social media to spread the message. Amitabh Bachchan has expressed concern over the “frightening” situation in there state where 164 people have died since August 8 and several are missing. Mr Bachchan appealed to people to contribute to the relief fund for the state.

Other celebrities like Alia Bhat, Sonam Kapoor, Karan Johar, Varun Dhawan, Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor have donated and tweeted support for Kerala.

Actor Hrithik Roshan wrote, “The situation in Kerala is critical. Help is required. Please let’s come forward and do whatever we can. Our friends in Kerala need us right now. I have contributed a sum and I request you all to do whatever you can”.

Oscar winner Resul Pookutty, who is from Kerala is personally part of the massive relief operations. He has thanked the stars who have donated and tweeted urging people to come forward and help.

And in a huge show of solidarity, Kolkata’s soccer giant East Bengal raised funds from the spectators after their Calcutta Football League match against Aryan Club on Saturday night. Striker Joby Justin, who is from Kerala, was at the fore front with a banner which read ”Save Kerala, save humanity” and went around the entire ground to collect funds after the game which they won 3-0.

“I will remember this for my entire life. When I will become a former footballer and sitting in Kerala, this is a story I will tell my grandchildren,” said Justin.

The Centre has set up over 3,750 medical camps in Kerala to prevent the breakout of diseases. “While no outbreak of any communicable disease has been reported, health experts say that once the floodwaters start to recede, the environment will become conducive for epidemic diseases,” a health ministry statement said. After an appeal by the Kerala government, “the first batch of 90 types of medicines in requested quantity” will reach the state on Monday said the ministry.

(With inputs from IANS, PTI)





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Shah Rukh Khan’s Meer Foundation Donates Rs 21 Lakh For Kerala Flood Relief Fund


It’s duty and dharma of each one of us to stand by our brothers and sisters, says Shah Rukh Khan. (File)

Mumbai: 

Superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s welfare organisation Meer Foundation has contributed Rs 21 lakhs towards relief work in flood-ravaged Kerala.

Meer Foundation has made a donation to the Government of Kerala’s Chief Minister Distress Relief Fund, working towards the welfare of victims of floods in the state, according to a statement.

Meer Foundation, which has been named after the actor’s father, has been working actively with acid attack victims as well as cancer patients.

Academy Award-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty took to Twitter and expressed gratitude towards the actor.

“Thank you so much @iamsrk me personally and the people of kerala are indebted to you for your generosity and quick action… Respect,” Mr Pookutty wrote.

To which Shah Rukh Khan replied, “@resulp Sir, it’s the duty and dharma of each one of us to stand by our brothers and sisters in times of need. May Allah bless each and everyone in Kerala.”

According to the state authorities, the death toll has mounted to 197 and around 36 are missing in Kerala since August 8 due to floods and landslides. Over 3.14 lakh people have been moved to relief camps.





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Coast Guard’s Operation Water Baby Saves New-Born In Kerala


Coast Guard team rescued people in nearby villages clearing debris and boulders for 4 days

Mumbai: 

From flood-ravaged Kerala comes a story of grit of the Coast Guard and armed forces personnel who saved a newly-born baby in a night-long rescue operation near the Idukki dam two days ago.

The rescue operation began after a call from the Mumbai Coast Guard about rising water level in the Idukki dam area, the Army officer, who led the team, said.

“We were in the weekly commanders conference at Kochi when a call came from the Coast Guard office in Mumbai to send the best team near the dam where water was flowing above the danger level,” Lt Col Shashikant Waghmode said.

Lt Col Waghmode, an assault engineer officer currently on deputation to the Coast Guard, volunteered to lead the team and within 30 minutes, the team members were selected.

Many Coast Guard personnel were called from various ships, he told PTI when asked about the operation.

They were equipped with boats, outboard motor, ropes, digging tools, survival ration and medical kits, he said.

“After the briefing by District Commander DHQ-4 DIG Sanathan Jena, the team, comprising 16 Coast Guard divers, started the journey at night,” he said.

The terrain was a challenge as Idukki is located in a hilly area, which had a number of landslides. There were waterfalls and poor visibility due to fog. The ‘nullahs’ (drains) and rivers were overflowing, he said.

The team had to cross the Chappat bridge as the dam gates were going to be opened at 4.30 am.

“I had taken along drivers experienced in the hilly terrain and after nine hours we managed to cross the bridge at 4 am, half-an-hour before the dam gates opened,” said Lt Col Waghmode, an alumnus of the Sainik School at Satara in Maharashtra.

In Idukki, they found that all the villages were evacuated and hotels, shops, ATMs and petrol pumps were shut.

There was no place to take shelter, he said.

For the next four days, the Coast Guard team rescued many people in Manjumala and nearby villages and cleared debris and boulders.

“I was leading a peculiar team comprising personnel from the Coast Guard, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. I was given the best sea divers of the Coast Guard, Navy nursing assistants, vehicle drivers of the Army and the Air Force,” he said.

“On August 16 night, just as we reached an abandoned government hospital for rest after four days of non-stop work, the local police officer, villagers and NDRF officials came to us, asking to save the life of a woman who had just given birth,” he said.

The locals told the rescue team that the woman and her five family members were stuck in a flooded house without food and water for four days, he said.

The team then launched a night-long rescue mission, calling it “Operation Water Baby”, Lt Col Waghmode said.

The woman’s house was two km from the point where the rescue boat was unloaded, he said.

“The best six members of the team were selected and the operation began at 10.30 pm in pitch dark and against the water current,” the officer said.

The outboard motor was not effective as there were lot of stones, debris and mud mounds below but the team pushed the boat for about 2 km against the water current, which was around 15 knots, he said.

The team reached the house, guided by local policemen who accompanied them in the boat, at 1.30 am.

“The family was in a bad state. They were not aware that someone was coming to their rescue. Due to medical issues of the newborn baby and the mother, we decided to wait till sunrise and continued the operation early morning with the help of a local doctor,” he said.

“On our way back, wherever there was less water, we lifted the boat with family members inside it. After we reached a safe spot, the woman told us that she will make her baby boy join the armed forces,” the officer said.

After this rescue operation, the team was given a choice to return and rest, but the personnel chose to proceed to Chengannur and join another rescue operation, he said.

 

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