Category Archive : Maharashtra

Several countries have shown interest in procuring Tejas aircraft: HAL chairman Madhavan | India News

NEW DELHI: The delivery of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to the Indian Air Force under a Rs 48,000-crore deal will begin from March 2024 and around 16 aircraft will be rolled out annually till the completion of the total supply of 83 jets, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited R Madhavan said on Sunday.
In an interview to PTI, Madhavan also said that a number of countries have shown keen interest in procurement of the Tejas aircraft and that the first export order is likely to come by in the next couple of years.
Madhavan said that Tejas Mark 1A jet has superior performance levels compared to China’s JF-17 combat aircraft as it has better engine, radar system and electronic warfare suit, besides an edge in the overall technology.
“The biggest difference, of course, is the air-to-air refuelling which is non-existent in the competitor’s plane,” he said.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 13 approved the Rs 48,000-crore deal to procure 73 Tejas Mk-1A variants and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft from the HAL to boost the Indian Air Force’s combat prowess.
Giving a break-up of the cost components, Madhavan said the basic price of the aircraft will be around Rs 25,000 crore while Rs 11,000 crore will be used for ground support equipment and other required infrastructure at the bases and around Rs 7,000 for basic customs duty and output GST.
The HAL chairman said the cost for each fighter version of the aircraft will be Rs 309 crore and Rs 280 crore for the trainer.
“The price is tight but we are fine with it,” Madhavan said
The total cost of Rs 48,000 crore includes design and development cost of Rs 2,500 crore to be given to Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and around Rs 2,250 crore set aside for variations in foreign currency exchange rate.
The Tejas Mk-1A will be equipped with an active electronically scanned array radar, beyond visual range missile, electronic warfare suite and air-to-air refuelling system.
A formal contract for the deal is expected to be signed between the HAL and the IAF on February 5 at the Aero India exhibition in the presence of President Ram Nath Kovind.
“Three years is the strategic timeline for developing infrastructure as well as delivery of the aircraft. We will meet the timeline. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered by March 2024.
“Initially we will supply around four aircraft and increase the number to 16 annually from 2025,” Madhavan said.
Asked whether a possible export order will push the delivery deadline for supplies to the IAF, Madhavan said the HAL will strictly follow the timeline for domestic order and can always set up additional production lines when necessary.
“We are planning for more than 16 aircraft annually so that in case of any other order coming in, we can take it up. We are already increasing production rates.
“The second phase of the LCA plant has already come up, though we need it after 2024-25,” he said.
The IAF has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft as part of its initial order of 40 jets.
Madhavan said the Tejas programme will boost the overall aerospace sector in India, noting that it currently involves 563 domestic enterprises. “And it will go up to 600 to 650. This is important for the ecosystem.”
He said Tejas will be able to operate as efficiently as any other aircraft in all regions including mountainous Ladakh.
The government has been majorly focusing on boosting domestic defence production and set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore ($25 billion) turnover in defence manufacturing by 2025.
According to estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around $130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years.
In May last year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rolled out several reform measures for the defence sector including making separate budgetary outlay to procure Indian-made military hardware, increasing FDI limit from 49 percent to 74 percent under the automatic route and generating a year-wise negative list of weapons which won’t be imported.

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308 Pakistan-based Twitter handles trying to disrupt farmers’ R-Day rally: Delhi Police | India News

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police on Sunday said that over 300 Twitter handles have been generated in Pakistan to create disturbance during the farmers‘ tractor rally in the national capital on Republic Day.
“Through intelligence and various other agencies, we have continuously been getting inputs regarding threat to create disturbance during the tractor rally. 308 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan between January 13 and 18 to create confusion,” said Dependra Pathak, Special CP (Intelligence), Delhi Police.
Pathak said that in view of the threat, adequate security arrangements will be provided during the tractor rally after the Republic Day parade concludes.
“It will be a challenging task for us but the rally will be conducted amid tight security after the Republic Day parade is over,” Pathak said at a press conference.
Detailing the plan, Pathak said that the rally will enter Delhi from Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders and return to its originating points.
“From Singhu, it will pass through Kanjhawala, Bawana, Auchandi border, KMP Expressway and then return to Singhu. From Tikri border, it will go to Nagloi and pass through Najafgarh and Western Peripheral Expressway. From Ghazipur border, the rally will go to 56-foot road and return to its originating point passing through Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal Expressway,” he said.
On Saturday, the farmer unions were given permission to take out a tractor march on January 26 as a mark of protest against the Centre’s three agriculture laws.
Enacted in September last year, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of minimum support price and do away with the ‘mandi’ (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
(With inputs from agencies)

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PM Modi exhorts youths to defeat ‘network of lies and rumours’ on Covid-19 vaccination | India News

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said Indian scientists have done their duty by developing the Covid-19 vaccine and “now we have to fulfil ours” by defeating through the right information every network spreading lies and rumours.
Addressing NCC cadets, NSS volunteers and artists who would be participating in the Republic Day parade, Modi said such organisations have always played their role in dealing with challenging times.
“In Covid times also, the work done by you is laudable. When the government and administration needed it, you came forward as volunteers and provided help,” he said.
“Whether it was spreading awareness about the Aarogya Setu App or coronavirus infection spread, the work done by you was praiseworthy,” Modi said.
The prime minister said the youths should now step forward to assist in the Covid-19 vaccination programme by providing the right information to the people.
“You need to take it to the next level now. Your reach is in all parts of society. I request you to come forward to help the country with the Covid-19 vaccination programme. You have to provide the right information on vaccines to the poor and general public,” Modi said.
“Indian scientists have done their duty by developing the coronavirus vaccine and now we have to fulfill ours. We have to defeat through right information every network spreading lies and rumours,” Modi said.
He also said that India will not become self-reliant just by somebody saying so, but this will be achieved by actions of the youth for which they have to be armed with necessary skills.
“India will not become ‘aatmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) just by somebody saying so, it will become so by actions of youths like you. You will be able to do this better when you will have the necessary skill set,” Modi said.
Realizing the importance of this, the ministry of skill development was formed when his government came in 2014 and more than 5.5 crore youths have been given training for different skills till now, Modi said.
Under this skill development programme, not just training is being given, help is being provided for getting employment, the prime minister said.
The aim is that the youths in India get new employment opportunities based on their skill sets, Modi said.
He again stressed on ‘Vocal for Local’, saying it will gain more strength from the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ sentiment.

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Delhi police give formal permission for Kisan tractor rally on Jan 26: Yogendra Yadav

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Congress-AIUDF will open all gates to welcome infiltrators: Amit Shah | India News

NALBARI: Union home minister Amit Shah on Sunday alleged that if the Congress-AIUDF combine come to power in Assam, they will open “all gates” to welcome infiltrators.
Addressing a public rally here, Shah said the Congress rule in the state gave only bloodshed, in which thousands of youths lost their lives.
“Can Congress and Badruddin Ajmal keep Assam free from infiltration? If they come to power, they will open all gates to welcome them, because it is their vote bank,” he said.

Only the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi can protect the state from infiltration from the neighbouring country, Shah said in his first election rally in poll-bound Assam.
The Congress has formed Grand Alliance with AIUDF, CPI, CPM, CPI(ML) and Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM) to fight the upcoming assembly election, likely to be held in March-April.
Attacking the Congress, Shah said, “Congress continued the British policy of divide and rule. They created a divide between Adivasis and non-Adivasis, Assamese people and hill peoples, Bodos and non-Bodos.
“In 20 years there was only bloodshed and 10,000 Assamese youths were killed by bullets fired by the Congress.”
Appealing to the people to vote for the BJP, Shah said if the party comes to power again, Assam will be “bullet-free, agitation-free and flood-free”.
Shah also slammed the Congress for its constant criticism that the BJP is a communal front and said, “Congress alleges us to be communal, but it has allied with Muslim League in Kerala and AIUDF in Assam.
“One thing is sure, Assam is not safe in the hands of Congress and AIUDF”.

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Aviation ministry urges health ministry to prioritise Covid-19 vaccination of airlines, airports employees | India News

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has written to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to consider aviation employees as frontline coronavirus workers and prioritise their Covid-19 vaccination.
The letter addressed to the health ministry read, “Considering that the frontline workers of airlines and airports are also involved in the movement of vaccines, this Ministry recognises the merit in the proposal and requests the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to include front line workers of airlines and airports along with front line workers mentioned in the operational guidelines released on 28th of December 2020.”
“If the request is considered favourably, the Ministry would coordinate for enumeration of these personnel to be covered under vaccination program”, it added.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation letter added, “I am happy to inform that the airlines and airports have been at the forefront in extending their services to the passengers and movement of cargo within the count and across the borders. The vital role played by Air India and other domestic airlines for the resumption of flights and to facilitate the movement of stranded Indians have been noteworthy.”
“You will agree with me that the Crew, Engineers, Technicians, Ground Staff, Frontline workers in aviation have certain risk elements while performing their duties in a most diligent manner and make the air transportation a safe mode of transport”, the ministry stated in its letter.
Recently, airlines and airports have approached the Ministry of Civil Aviation and highlighted the need to vaccinate their staff on a priority basis, albeit once the medical personnel are inoculated.
The nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 16, 2021. Termed as the world’s largest vaccination program, covering the entire length and breadth of the country, the drive aims to first vaccinate millions of its healthcare and frontline workers and reach an estimated 3 crore people by the end of its first phase.

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Ageing dams in India, US, other nations pose growing threat: UN report | India News

NEW YORK: Over a thousand large dams in India will be roughly 50 years old in 2025 and such aging structures across the world pose a growing threat, according to a UN report which notes that by 2050, most people on Earth will live downstream of tens of thousands of dams built in the 20th century.
The report, titled ‘Ageing water infrastructure: An emerging global risk’ and compiled by United Nations University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health, says most of the 58,700 large dams worldwide were constructed between 1930 and 1970 with a design life of 50 to 100 years.
It said at 50 years, a large concrete dam “would most probably begin to express signs of ageing.”
Ageing signs include increasing cases of dam failures, progressively increasing costs of dam repair and maintenance, increasing reservoir sedimentation, and loss of a dam’s functionality and effectiveness, “strongly interconnected” manifestations, the report said.
“By 2050, most people on Earth will live downstream of tens of thousands of large dams built in the 20th century, many of them already operating at or beyond their design life,” according to the UN University analysis.
The analysis includes dam decommissioning or ageing case studies from the USA, France, Canada, India, Japan, and Zambia and Zimbabwe.
According to the report, the world is unlikely to witness another large dam-building revolution as in the mid-20th century, but dams constructed then will inevitably be showing their age.
The report said that 32,716 large dams (55 per cent of the world’s total) are found in just four Asian countries: China, India, Japan, and South Korea – a majority of which will reach the 50-year threshold relatively soon.
The same is true of many large dams in Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe, it said.
In India, there are over 1,115 large dams that will be roughly 50 years old in 2025, more than 4,250 large dams in the country will be over 50 years old in 2050 and 64 large dams will be more than 150 years old in 2050, it said.
The report said that approximately 3.5 million people are at risk if India’s Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, built over 100 years ago, “were to fail”.
“The dam, in a seismically active area, shows significant structural flaws and its management is a contentious issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu States,” it said.
The report added that dams that are well designed, constructed and maintained can “easily” reach 100 years of service but predicts an increase in “decommissioning” – a phenomenon gaining pace in the USA and Europe – as economic and practical limitations prevent ageing dams from being upgraded or if their original use is now obsolete.
In the US, the average age of 90,580 dams is 56 years. More than 85 per cent of US dams in 2020 were operating at or beyond their life expectancy and 75 per cent of US dam failures occurred after 50 years of age. The estimated cost to refurbish US dams is about USD 64 billion. Nearly 1,275 dams were removed in 21 US states in the last 30 years; 80 removed in 2017 alone, it said.
Worldwide, the huge volume of water stored behind large dams is estimated at 7,000 to 8,300 cubic kilometres – enough to cover about 80 per cent of Canada’s landmass under a meter of water.
The report’s co-author Vladimir Smakhtin, Director of UNU-INWEH, said the report aims to attract global attention to the creeping issue of ageing water storage infrastructure and stimulate international efforts to deal with this emerging, rising water risk.
“Underlined is the fact that the rising frequency and severity of flooding and other extreme environmental events can overwhelm a dam’s design limits and accelerate a dam’s ageing process. Decisions about decommissioning, therefore, need to be taken in the context of a changing climate,” Smakhtin said.
Lead author and UNU-INWEH Senior Researcher Duminda Perera said the problem of ageing large dams today confronts a relatively small number of countries – 93 per cent of all the world’s large dams are located in just 25 nations.
“Large dam construction surged in the mid-20th century and peaked in the 1960s – 70s especially in Asia, Europe and North America, while in Africa the peak occurred in the 1980s. The number of newly-constructed large dams after that continuously and progressively declined,” he siad.
The pace of large dam construction has dropped dramatically in the last four decades and continues to decline in part because “the best locations for such dams globally have been progressively diminishing as nearly 50 per cent of global river volume is already fragmented or regulated by dams,” the report says.
There are also strong concerns regarding the environmental and social impacts of dams, and large dams in particular, as well as emerging ideas and practices on the alternative types of water storage, nature-based solutions, and types of energy production beyond hydropower, it said.
Public safety, escalating maintenance costs, reservoir sedimentation, and restoration of a natural river ecosystem are among the reasons driving dam decommissioning, the report said, adding that overall, dam decommissioning should be seen as equally important as dam building in the overall planning process on water storage infrastructure developments.

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Shopian encounter: Police chargesheet says Army captain, 2 others attempted to destroy evidence | India News

SHOPIAN: The Army captain involved in the fake encounter in Kashmir’s Shopian district last July and two other civilian accused haven’t provided any information about the source of weapons planted on the three slain youths and had also attempted to destroy the evidence, a police charge sheet said.
Captain Bhoopendra Singh had also provided wrong information to his superiors and the police about the recovery made during the staged encounter, the charge sheet filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police before the chief judicial magistrate here said.
The case relates to the July 18, 2020 encounter in Shopian’s Amshipura in which three youths were killed and dubbed as terrorists. Later, the Army ordered a Court of Inquiry after reports appeared on social media that the three youths were innocent.
“No leads regarding the source of illegal weapons as illegally arranged by accused” for planting on the bodies were provided, the charge sheet said.
“By staging the encounter,” the three accused “have purposefully destroyed evidence or real crime that they have committed and also have (been) purposefully projecting false information as part of a criminal conspiracy hatched between them with the motive to grab a prize money of Rs 20 lakh,” it said.
The Army, however, had denied that its captain staged the encounter for Rs 20 lakh, saying there was no system of cash rewards for its personnel for any acts in combat situations or otherwise in the line of duty.
“The evidence was destroyed by accused Captain Singh,” the charge sheet said.
Singh, who has been placed under detention, along with the other two accused — Tabish Nazir and Bilal Ahmed Lone — set fire to a shelter at the encounter site, according to the charge sheet.
The accused captain was in touch with Fayaz Ahmed, a special police officer (SPO) posted with the Special Operations Group, through two mobile numbers registered in the name of civilians.
Ahmed, who is listed as a witness in this case, was approached by Singh for arranging weapons. A resident of Poonch in Jammu region, Ahmed gave his statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) before a magistrate.
The SIT charge sheet gave details of forensic analysis of the crime scene which was photographed “from all possible perspectives”. The FSL (Forensic and Scientific Laboratory) team recovered vital evidence that was seized.
Based on responses filed by 62 Rashtriya Rifles to the SIT about details of the ammunition fired during the incident along with a copy of SITREP (Situation Report), the “accused captain had claimed to have (sic) fired a total of 37 rounds from his service rifle”.
The Army, in its FIR registered at Heerpora police station, had claimed that based on “their own input about hiding of unknown terrorists in village Amshipora”, the encounter was launched on July 17, 2020 during which three unidentified hardcore terrorists were neutralised.
Two pistols with two magazines and four empty pistol cartridges, 15 live cartridges and 15 empty cartridges of AK series weapon and other objectionable items were recovered from the encounter site.
However, during the ballistic and forensic examination of the scene of crime, four empty cartridges were recovered — two of which were from 7.65 mm and two from 9 mm pistols (used by the Army).
“The seized fifteen 7.62×39 mm rifle cartridge cases (used in AK rifles) were found to have been fired from more than four firearms.
“From the circumstances at the crime scene which are contrary to the findings of the ballistic expert opinion the version of the accused captain Bhoopendra Singh… regarding information furnished by him in FIR is not supported.”
There was no seizure of AK rifles from the staged encounter.
The Army, which has also completed its Court of Inquiry and Summary of Evidence, had found “prima facie” evidence that troops had “exceeded” powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the encounter in which the three youths were killed.
Following this, the Army had initiated disciplinary proceedings.
The three youths killed in Amshipura were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrar, all hailing from Rajouri district. Their identities were subsequently confirmed through a DNA test and the bodies were handed over to their families in Baramulla in October last year.
The charge sheet said the Army captain had taken a private car on the day of the encounter.
Aijaz Ahmed Lone, the vehicle owner, gave a statement under oath before a magistrate that Army personnel had approached him at his residence on July 17 last year and taken his car.
Subsequently, on the day of the encounter, the Army informed him that his vehicle was stationed at Amshipura Nar “in a faulty condition”.
General Officer in Command of XV Corps Lt Gen B S Raju had said earlier that the Summary of Evidence had been completed and the Army will take the next course of action as per the law.
Officials in the know of the development said Singh may face a Court Martial proceeding for violating the powers vested under the AFSPA and not following the dos and don’ts of the Chief of Army Staff as approved by the Supreme Court.
The charge sheet submitted by the SIT has listed 75 witnesses in support of its findings and has also provided technical evidence including call data records of the accused persons.

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National Girl Child Day: PM Modi hails accomplishments of nation’s daughters in various fields | India News

NEW DELHI: The central government has undertaken many initiatives that focus on empowering the girl child including access to education, better healthcare and improving gender sensitivity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on National Girl Child Day on Sunday.
India celebrates the National Girl Child Day, an initiative of the ministry of women and child development, every year on January 24.
“On National Girl Child Day, we salute our #DeshKiBeti and the accomplishments in various fields,” Modi said in a tweet.
The central government has undertaken many initiatives that focus on empowering the girl child, including access to education, better healthcare and improving gender sensitivity, he said.
“Today is also a day to specially appreciate all those working towards empowering the girl child and ensuring she leads a life of dignity and opportunity,” the prime minister said in another tweet.

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Covid-19: India records 14,849 fresh cases, 155 more fatalities | India News

NEW DELHI: India’s Covid-19 caseload has gone up to 1,06,54,533 with 14,849 people testing positive for the coronavirus infection in a day, while the number of recoveries has surged to 1,03,16,786, according to the health ministry.
The death toll due to the viral disease has climbed to 1,53,339 with 155 more fatalities, the ministry’s data updated at 8 am showed.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has surged to 1,03,16,786, pushing the national Covid-19 recovery rate to 96.83 per cent, while the case fatality rate stands at 1.44 per cent.
The active Covid-19 caseload of the country remained below two lakh for the fifth consecutive day.
There are 1,84,408 active cases of the coronavirus infection in the country currently, which account for 1.73 per cent of its total caseload, the data stated.
India’s Covid-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7 last year, the 30-lakh mark on August 23, the 40-lakh mark on September 5 and the 50-lakh mark on September 16.
It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and the one-crore mark on December 19.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 19,17,66,871 samples have so far been tested in the country for the viral disease, including 7,81,752 on Saturday.

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