Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Semi high-speed train trial on more routes

Trial on 8 more routes for semi high-speed train
Following the successful trial run of a semi high-speed train between Delhi and Agra, railways is all set to replicate the exercise on eight more routes by the end of this year as it looks to reduce travel time for passengers.
Railways has decided to introduce semi high-speed trains in nine sectors which would run at speeds of up to 160kmph.
“We conducted the trial run at 160kmph in the Delhi-Agra sector and it was successful. Similar trials will be conducted in the other identified sectors by this year end,” Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda said here.
The trial of the semi high-speed train with 10 coaches was conducted in July and the first such service by the railways is expected to be introduced commercially by this November.
Besides Delhi-Agra, railways have identified eight more routes, including Delhi-Kanpur, Delhi-Chandigarh, Chennai- Hyderabad, Nagpur-Secunderabad and Mumbai-Goa, for which the service would be introduced. Upgrade of the signalling system and the strengthening of tracks and track-fencing in certain areas is needed to enable the operation of semi-high speed trains.
Such infrastructure would also enable railways to run Shatabdi trains on long- distance trunk routes and between the various metros. Gowda, meanwhile, said that various initiatives have been taken to improve the functioning and performance of railways in the last three months after the NDA coalition assumed power in the last week of May.
He said that the decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in the rail sector would be of benefit in the big ticket projects like high-speed services and Dedicated Freight Corridor as well as in capacity augmentation. However, he said that railways have not fixed any target for attracting FDI.
“We have announced FDI (in railways), but there is no target for it. But we have targeted Rs 6,000 crore in private investment in the current fiscal,” Gowda said.
Asked about the possibility of the implementation of fuel adjustment component (FAC) in passenger and freight rate revision, due in the current month, Gowda said, “I cannot say anything on it right now. We will examine it. Recently we have also announced some concessions.”
Stressing on safety, the rail minister said that top priority is being given to the issue of passenger safety and the implementation of the Kakodkar Committee recommendations.
“Recently, there have been a few accidents which were unfortunate. We are adopting new technology to detect rail fracture to prevent accidents,” Gowda said. The focus is on eliminating unmanned level crossings as these are one of the major sites of railway mishaps, Gowda said, adding that it was a “gigantic and challenging task”.
“Steps have been taken for the construction of 249 RUBs and 30 ROBs at unmanned level crossings,” he said.
Listing out the “achievements” of the NDA government in its first 100 days in office, Gowda said that about 80 per cent of its budget announcements are in various stages of implementation and the remaining would be taken up in a month.
Referring to IT initiatives, he said next generation technology has been incorporated in the online ticketing system as a result of which 7,200 tickets can now be booked in a minute against the 2,000 earlier. “We had a record 6,24,855 tickets booked in one day on Aug. 27,” he said.

Mission J&K On lakhs still stranded in J-K

Massive rescue operations on, lakhs still stranded in J-K
>Mission J&K by army is on,the people of J&K has been inflicted with century horrific natural disaster with rain fury playing its worse affect on the life of the people as thousands are cut off from rest of the nation. With such massive natural disaster the state on fragile tectonic plate could give rise to another disaster of quake in coming months.National Disaster Management which brings in more vocal study but lacks its action on the ground and has no communication skill or sensitive to inclement weather condition of the state.Mammoth multi-agency rescue efforts were underway in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday to rescue lakhs of people trapped in flood-ravaged areas, with IAF choppers and transport aircraft undertaking non-stop sorties overnight to carry men and relief material to submerged parts.
On Tuesday rescue teams will be focusing on the inundated city of Srinagar and south Kashmir belt where an estimated four lakh people are believed to be trapped in floods which have claimed nearly 200 lives in the state.
Two more units of Army and NDRF have been airdropped to Pancheri in Udhampur where 30 people are missing after a landslide hit the area.
“Seven bodies and a limb of a person have been so far recovered in Udhampur but the operation to locate those trapped is very difficult,” DIG Garib Das said.
However, the situation in the rest of Jammu belt has stabilised and the focus is now on providing relief material on the ground, officials said.
They said a massive rescue and relief operation is on in Kashmir Valley with more helicopters and rescue material including boats pressed into service.
30 sorties of IL-76 and AN 32 have been undertaken to Srinagar overnight to carry men and relief material, boats cutters and other equipment besides huge quantity of medicines and water bottles.
Speaking about the rescue efforts, Army Lt Chetan said, “We are rescuing 10-15 people in every round we make per boat. We make 50-60 rounds per day. We have all equipment to rescue people. We will move out only after rescuing everybody”.
Army Chief Gen Dalbir Suhag had said in Delhi on Monday that “Soldiers won’t return to barracks until last man is helped.”
Army medical officer Jagdish Singh said, “We have set up medical camps and are treating 230-300 people everyday. “We have ambulances and surgeons. District hospitals and NGOs are also working with us,” Singh added.
Lt Gen D S Hooda, General-Officer-Commanding of the Army’s Northern Command had said on Monday that the focus will be now on Srinagar.
The government on Monday said any decision with regard to holding Assembly polls in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir will be taken by the Election Commission (EC) as it is the ultimate authority in that regard.<
“We should not connect the natural disaster and tragedy with either elections or politics. The Election Commission will take a decision and they are the ultimate decision makers in that regard,” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said when asked if the flood disaster would have any bearing on the forthcoming polls.
The state is slated to go to polls later this year.
“I cannot comment anything as of now and the situation has to be assessed and only after that a final decision can be taken. The Election Commission will decide on this subject,” he said on Monday.
On the state of security forces and their infrastructure in the state in the wake of the floods, Singh said no border post of the Army, BSF or other forces has been washed away due to the floods.
“There is no such information like that received from there. Every Army personnel in the border is safe. Infact, our Army and paramilitary forces are trying to save people and I compliment the Army, paramilitary forces and the NDRF for the exceptional work they are doing,” he said.

PM for enhanced trade, tourism with Malaysia

PM for enhanced trade, tourism with Malaysia
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed his desire for enhancing India’s trade, investment, tourism, educational and cultural ties with Malaysia.
During a meeting with Malaysian Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, who called on him, Modi highlighted the importance of close cooperation between India and Malaysia as well as other ASEAN countries in advancing collective regional action for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.He also lauded the over two million-strong Indian community in Malaysia for contributing to economic development and enriching its pluralist society.
On behalf of the Malaysian prime minister, Palanivel extended an invitation to Modi to visit Malaysia.
“Prime Minister Modi agreed to visit Malaysia at a mutually convenient time,” said an official statement.
The Malaysian minister sought enhanced cooperation in the areas of conservation of forests, wildlife protection, climate change technology and promotion of people-to-people contacts.
On Monday, he met Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Erickshaws are illegal, ban to continue, says HC

Erickshaws are illegal, ban to continue, says HC
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said plying of erickshaws in the national capital is illegal as per existing law and the ban on their operation will continue till Central government frames rules to regulate them.
A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul upheld its ban on erickshaws, saying “What is prohibited under the law cannot be permitted”.The bench said it cannot issue a writ of mandamus to legalise what is illegal as per the existing law.
The bench also said “we cannot anticipate legislative changes” and left it to the Central government to frame rules for plying of erickshaws.
It said the review petition by Battery Rickshaw Welfare Association against the court’s July 31 ban has now become infructuous.
The court’s judgement came on the plea of social activist Shanawaz Khan filed through advocate Sugrive Dubey, seeking a ban on erickshaws.
The plea had said “no person without valid licence be allowed to ply erickshaws”.
The plea had contended that erickshaws had no registration numbers and the vehicles were putting passengers at risk.
In three months, around 200 accident cases, including two fatalities, have been registered, the plea had said, adding that erickshaws should not be allowed to ply as they are “high risk vehicles”.
The court had on 29th August fixed the matter for order after the counsel for all the concerned parties including the Centre, Battery Rickshaw Welfare Association and petitioner Shanawaz Khan, on whose plea plying of erickshaws was banned, concluded their arguments.
During the last hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, appearing for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, had sought a direction to vacate the court’s 31st July order while saying that they have submitted the draft rules before the Law Ministry.
ASG Anand, along with advocates Balendu Shekhar and S N Parashar, had sought that erickshwas be allowed to ply till 15th October, saying by that time they will be able to bring an amendment in the rules.
The Centre had also placed before the court its proposal of the directions it is seeking from the court to allow plying of erickshaws on city roads.
Earlier the traffic police, in an affidavit filed before the court, had raised serious concerns over the accidents involving erickshaws and said that unregulated operation of the battery-operated vehicles tends to cause traffic problems on the roads. It had also said that as the operation of erickshaws is not regulated under the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA), police are unable to prosecute the drivers.
On 21st August, the court had refused to pass any interim order to permit their operation. On 31st July, it had banned plying of erickshaws on city roads on the plea that alleged that these vehicles which are designed to ferry only four people including the driver, carry more than eight people at a time, endangering their lives.
While banning them, the court had observed that erickshaws are illegally running on Delhi roads and “prima facie a hazard to other traffic as well citizens”.
Thereafter, Battery Rickshaw Welfare Association had sought a review of the high court’s order, saying erickshaws be allowed to ply on the basis of interim guidelines submitted by the Transport Ministry




International Snippets


3 foreigners arrested in Iran over suspect trip to Iraq – report

Three foreigners traveling through Iran have been detained under the suspicion of planning to join the extremists Islamic State group in neighboring Iraq, AP said. Iranian border guards stopped several travelers en route to Iraq and had “three cases of arrests,” the Iran daily on Tuesday quoted Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli as saying. Fazli said Afghan and Pakistani nationals were arrested. It was not clear when or where the arrests happened.

Suicide blast kills at least 12 civilians in Somalia

A suicide bomber associated with the Al-Shabab extremist group killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 20 others in Somalia on Monday, Al Jazeera reports. The attack – the most deadly move by the group since American airstrikes killed its leader last week – targeted African Union troops in the region, though it was civilians that were killed in the blast. Among the dead were four Americans.

Flood toll in Kashmir in India, in Pakistan rises to more than 500

The death toll from devastating floods in India and Pakistan rose to 500 on Tuesday,media reported. A rescue effort is underway in the divided mountainous region of Kashmir after monsoon rains submerged hundreds of villages. Rajesh Kumar, police inspector general for the Jammu region on the Indian side, said the toll had risen to around 250. Another 266 people were confirmed dead on the Pakistan side. Hundreds of thousands more are still stranded, some “neck-deep” in water after the deadliest flooding in over half a century, according to authorities.

EU adopts new sanctions against Russia to come into force in ‘next few days’

A new package of sanctions against Russia has been adopted by the EU. Previous reports said the “further restrictive measures” were aimed at targeting three major oil companies, as well as the defense sector.

Fourth Ebola patient to be brought to US for treatment

A fourth person infected with the Ebola virus is to be brought to the US from West Africa for treatment. Emory University Hospital in Atlanta said the patient is expected to arrive Tuesday morning, and will be treated in an isolation unit. “We are bound by patient confidentiality and have no information regarding the status of the incoming patient,”Emory said in a statement. The World Health Organization says the patient is a doctor who has been working in an Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone. Two aid workers who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia were treated successfully last month at Emory. A third patient is being treated at a Nebraska hospital.

​Explosion injures 8 people in Chile

At least eight people were injured when a bomb exploded next to a fast food restaurant in Santiago, Chile on Monday. The restaurant is adjacent to a metro station. Authorities are investigating the blast, which occurred at around 2 p.m. local time. Two people were seriously injured, while some others suffered hearing loss. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which the Chilean government has called a “terrorist act.”Police believe that two suspects who planted the device escaped in a car.

EU could postpone new sanctions against Russia

The EU could postpone the introduction of a new package of sanctions against Russia, ITAR-TASS reported, citing a diplomatic source at a mission of one of the West European states. The European Commission earlier said it expected the package of sanctions to get its final approval on Monday. “The package is due to be formally adopted by the member states through written procedure later today,” RIA Novosti quoted Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen as saying.

Arab League countries to combat Islamic State

The Arab League has said its member states have agreed to combat, individually or collectively, the Islamic State group and other militants in the region, AP reported. The group issued a resolution on Monday after late-night meetings a day earlier. The documents do not explicitly back American military action against the militants. However, it said immediate measures to combat the group will be implemented on political, defense, security and legal levels.

Pope Francis accepts resignation of head of Irish church

The resignation of the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has been accepted by Pope Francis, the Vatican said on Monday. Cardinal Sean Brady announced his plan to retire in August, just before he turned 75, at which age all bishops must offer their resignation, Reuters said. Brady became embroiled in a child sex abuse scandal when a BBC television documentary in 2012 said he had failed to warn parents their children were being sexually abused by a priest in 1975. Brady will be succeeded by Monsignor Eamonn Martin, 52. Martin was appointed last year as “coadjutor” archbishop of Armagh, an important diocese in Northern Ireland whose archbishop has the title “Primate of All Ireland.”

3 German men arrested in Frankfurt over Al-Shabaab links

Three German men suspected of being members of the Somalian terrorist organization Al-Shabaab were arrested at Frankfurt Airport, prosecutors said Monday. They attempted to re-enter the country on Saturday, after landing in Frankfurt from Kenya. The men are suspected of membership in a foreign terrorist organization and of preparing an act of violence in connection with their time in Somalia, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said. However, prosecutors say “there is no evidence the suspects had made any concrete preparations or plans for attacks” in Europe.

Ruling coalition in Poland backs parliament speaker Kopacz for PM – spokeswoman

Both parties in Poland’s governing coalition back parliamentary speaker Ewa Kopacz to be the next prime minister, Reuters quoted an aide to the Polish president as saying on Monday. Janusz Piechocinski, the leader of the junior partner in the coalition, visited President Bronislaw Komorowski earlier on Monday and expressed his support for Kopacz, according to presidential spokeswoman Joanna Trzaska-Wieczorek. Prime Minister Donald Tusk will step down to take up the post of president of the European Council. His Civic Platform party has already backed Kopacz to succeed him.

Suicide bomber kills 16 at Sunni tribal gathering in Iraq

A suicide bomber killed at least 16 people at a meeting between security forces and Sunni militiamen in a small town north of Baghdad on Monday, AP reported, citing Iraqi officials. The bomber drove his explosives-laden Humvee into the gathering of a major Sunni tribe, the Al-Jabour, in Duluiyah, some 80km north of Baghdad. The bombing was followed by clashes with militants who tried to seize the town, which fell to the Islamic State for two days in July.

Islamist rebels in Somalia pledge allegiance to new leader

Militants of the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab have pledged allegiance to their new leader after his predecessor was killed. They said the enemies would reap the “bitter fruits” of revenge after Ahmed Godane’s killing, Reuters reported. Al-Shabaab confirmed he was killed by a US airstrike in a raid last Monday. Sheikh Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaida will replace him to head the group, which wants to impose its strict version of Islam on Somalia. The group also reaffirmed its allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

Taliban suicide bomber kills 3 policemen in southern Afghanistan

A Taliban suicide bomber has killed a district police chief and his two guards in southern Kandahar province, AP quoted officials as saying on Monday. The attack took place the previous day at the police headquarters in Arghistan district, according to Samim Khpolwak, spokesman for the provincial governor in Kandahar. The police chief, Abdul Manaf, and two policemen who served as his bodyguards died in the blast. Six other officers were wounded. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the movement’s spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said.

Israel rejects New Zealand envoy, sparks diplomatic row

New Zealand officials say the country’s new ambassador was rejected by Israel because he’s also an envoy to the Palestinian Authority, AP said. Jonathan Curr was due to travel to Israel in the coming days to present his papers. Israel’s embassy in Wellington said Monday that the matter was a “protocol principle” applicable to all ambassadors to Israel. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he was gathering “more information on the issue.” New Zealand’s ambassadors in Turkey have been responsible for covering several areas of the Middle East since 2008.

Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan get the party started

Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan get the party started at the music launch of India’s first Disney romance – Khoobsurat!
Mumbai, 6th September: Disney India & Anil Kapoor Film Company launched the high energy music album of the highly anticipated movie Disney’s Khoobsurat, the country’s first modern day romance, starring Disney Girl Sonam Kapoor along with heartthrob Fawad Khan.
A fairytale romance without some great music is incomplete, the music album was launched in the company of some young and the talented musicians in Bollywood who have contributed to the album like, Sneha Khanwalkar who has composed the music for the film, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sona Mohapatra, Jasleen, Badshah and Armaan Mallik who have lent their voices to the songs.
The music launch event held at Royalty Club in Bandra, Mumbai saw the talented bunch give some incredible live performances as Sonam and Fawad joined them and grooved to the tracks, which certainly got the party started!
The album of Khoobsurat is a great mix of a variety of tracks ranging from Folk, rap and romantic numbers. While “Engine Ki Seethi” rendered by Sunidhi Chauhan has found its way to every girl’s locker-room , “Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai” ,composed by UK pop sensation Badshah has become the party anthem of the season, ‘Preet’ sung by India’s got Talent contestant Jasleen is romantic number and with ‘Maa Ka Phone'; which is a fun and melodramatic take on mothers and ‘Bal Khade’ the quirkiest tracks of the season have arrived!
The Khoobsurat team also unveiled a fresh new track ‘Naina’ a soulful number by Sona Mohapatra and Armaan Mallik,composed by Armaan';s brother Amaal Mallik,with lyrics by Kumaar  which was launched on this occasion.
“The music of Khoobsurat has something in it for everyone, just the like movie which will appeal to all ages. The music helps convey the emotions and situations between the characters and will leave you with a tear, smile, and ample laughs all in true Disney style”, says co-producer Rhea Kapoor.
Disney’s Khoobsurat starring Sonam Kapoor & Fawad Khan along with Ratna Pathak,Kiron Kher and others comes to a theater near you on 19th September 2014.

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