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Maharashtra polls: Uddhav rejects BJP's demand
for 135 seats;
ties in trouble

MUMBAI: Further hardening his stand on seat-sharing with the BJP, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said he has rejected the saffron ally's demand for contesting 135 seats in Maharashtra Assembly polls and hinted at going it alone, saying "everything has an alternative".

He, however, clarified that talks are still on to clinch a seat-sharing formula.

"They (BJP) offered a proposal under which they wanted to contest 135 seats and I have rejected it," Uddhav, who had on Saturday asserted the next Chief Minister would be from "Shiv Sena only" if the saffron alliance came to power, told reporters.

Reflecting the growing tensions between the two oldest allies in the Centre's ruling NDA, he said, "Everything has an alternative. I have conveyed it to the BJP that I can't go beyond a point (over the number of seats to contest)."

He was asked whether the Shiv Sena had kept open the option of going to the hustings alone.

Senior BJP leader and spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy had yesterday said his party had proposed that after allotting seats to smaller allies like the RPI(A) and the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana of Raju Shetty, the two major constituents of 'Mahayuti' (grand alliance) should contest an equal number of 135 seats.

The Shiv Sena and the BJP had contested 169 and 119 seats, respectively, in the 2009 Assembly elections.

Uddhav also said since "talks are still on and till the decision on alliance is reached, I will not say anything negative".

"I have nothing to say on BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari's comment that the talks have been stalled and the BJP is contemplating going alone. It is surprising that those who are not involved in the talks are saying discussions are not happening," he said.

The ties between the two parties, Uddhav said, were 25 years old and the "going has been good for the Shiv Sena and BJP together. We should pull down this Congress-NCP government and save the people of Maharashtra".

"We want all Hindutva forces to come together. If the BJP says the party with more MLAs will get chief ministership, it should not forget that it was also decided that the  Sena will contest 171 and the BJP 117 seats in the Assembly. How can one remember only one part of the arrangement made by Balasaheb (Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray)," he said.

He said differences over the number of seats each alliance partner would contest were normal ahead of polls but the two parties have stuck together every time. "I hope this time too we are on the same side," he said, adding that the talks are expected to conclude in 2-3 days.

"The BJP had its 'Mission 272' for the Lok Sabha polls, we have our 'Mission 150' for the Assembly elections. Nobody should have any objection to it," he said.

Uddhav said he was in touch with state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis and OP Mathur, in charge of party's affairs in Maharashtra, over seat-sharing.

The Sena chief also denied having said anything against Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event organised by a TV news channel on Saturday.

"I did not say the Shiv Sena did not benefit from Modi. I did not make fun of anybody," he said.

Uddhav had on Saturday said Shiv Sena's contribution to NDA's victory in the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra cannot be ignored.

"Did the Modi wave show in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Orissa and West Bengal? It depends on alliance partners as well. Modi is Prime Minister of our alliance," he had said.

"The comments made by him (Uddhav) were to demean Narendra Modi. The Maharashtra BJP has strongly criticised and condemned the comments made by him. Our workers are insisting and pressurising the leadership to stop the talks," BJP's state unit spokesperson Madhav Bhandari had said on Sunday. PTIBack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boundary issue will be discussed during Xi's visit: India

NEW DELHI: As it gears up to host Chinese President Xi Jinping, India today said it expects that the visit will address the "interests and concerns" of the two countries and that "all substantive" issues having bearing on the ties including the boundary dispute will be discussed.

The Indian remarks came even as local authorities in Leh said that Chinese civilians in government vehicles have entered Indian territory in Demchok in Ladakh and are preventing locals from working on an irrigation project there.


However, when asked about these incursions, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin parried a direct answer and merely said that the brave sentinels of India were capable of handling any situation.


"As regards to issues on the table, sure there are unresolved issues including the boundary question.... Yes, it will be discussed," he said.


Asked about the expectations from the high-profile visit, he said, "The key expectation is that we address issues of interests and concerns to each other. The path towards solution is based on a beginning of addressing those issues." About the agenda of the meeting between Modi and Xi, he said, "All substantive issues of interest to India and China will be discussed." Asked whether Kashmir, Tibet and stapled visa will figure in the talks, the Spokesperson said the two countries know the "sensitivities" of each other and it was the intention of both the countries to try and work out issues accordingly.


On issuance of staple visa to people of Arunachal by China, he said India's stand has been that no differentiation should be made to people from any part of India.


Apart from big announcements in economic sector including big Chinese investments in railways networks, industrial parks and smart city projects, Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to discuss cooperation in the nuclear energy, trade deficit and visa regime.


Modi and Xi will hold talks on two occasions -- first when the Prime Minister will host a private dinner for the visiting dignitary after his arrival in Ahmedabad on September 17 and then in New Delhi on September 18 in restricted and delegation-level format.


Akbaruddin said it will be only the third occasion since Independence that an Indian Prime Minister will have elaborate talks with a Chinese President in India. The previous occasions were in 1996 and 2006.


Modi will welcome Xi, accompanied by a high-level delegation including two senior members of Polit Bureau and the Chinese Commerce Minister, at his hotel in Ahmedabad.


The leaders will witness signing of pacts in Ahmedabad before heading to famous Sabarmati Ashram and the dinner.


"On 17th, I look forward to welcoming President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad. Am sure his visit will strengthen India -China ties," the Prime Minister tweeted.


Xi is expected to announce investments to the tune of billions of dollars in India's railway, manufacturing and infrastructure projects. PTI

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500 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck

ROME: As many as 500 migrants could have died after traffickers rammed and sank their boat in the Mediterranean last week, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Monday, quoting survivors.

Two Palestinians plucked from the water by a freighter on Thursday after their boat capsized near Malta told the organisation that there had been around 500 passengers on the vessel, which was wrecked on purpose by people smugglers.

"Two survivors brought to Sicily told us that there had been at least 500 people on board. Nine other survivors were rescued by Greek and Maltese ships, but all the rest appear to have perished," Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM's spokesman in Italy, told AFP.

Details of the shipwreck could not be independently verified. According to the survivors, the Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian and Sudanese migrants set out from Damietta in Egypt on September 6, and were forced to change boats several times during the crossing towards Europe.

The traffickers, who were on a separate boat, then ordered them onto another, smaller vessel, which many of the migrants feared was too small to hold them.

When they refused to cross over to the new boat, the furious traffickers reportedly rammed their boat until it capsized, the organisation said. The Italian Police have opened an inquiry into the shipwreck.

According to the Italian Navy, some 2,380 migrants and asylum seekers were rescued over the weekend by Italy's large-scale naval deployment dubbed "Mare Nostrum", launched after over 400 people died in two shipwrecks last October. AFP
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SAI misplaces Balbir Sr's priceless possessions

CHANDIGARH: Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr. has claimed that Sports Authority of India has misplaced his priceless memoribilia, which inculdes his Olympic blazer, medals and rare pictures he had donated to SAI in 1985.

The tripple Olympci gold medallist said that he had donated his collection to A S Talwar, the then SAI secretary but when he inquired about them before the 2012 London Olympics, SAI officials claimed ignorance.

"I have donated everything I had except Olympic medals and Padamshri award to SAI. They told me at that time that it will be housed in the SAI sports museum to be built at Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium in New Delhi but it never happened," Balbir told PTI.

"That included Melbourne Olympic blazer, 24 medals including Tokyo Asiad (1958) silver, some rare snaps with India's first Governor General C Rajgopalachari, first President Dr Rajendra Prasad, first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Mrs Indira Gandhi," the gold medal winner of London (1948), Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956) Olympics claimed.

He said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wanted the Melbourne Games blazer to be a part of official London Olympic exhibition where he was the only Indian amongst 16 chosen Olympic legends across of modern Olympic history.

"That is when my grandson contacted SAI to get that blazer as I had nothing with me apart from Olympic medals. But SAI officials said that they don't know about the whereabouts of my treasure so I sent only Olympic medals to London which were showcased there," said the ace centre forward, whose world record for most goals scored by an individual in an in the men's hockey final of Olympics still remains unbeaten.

Balbir scored five goals in India's 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the gold medal game of the 1952 Games. 

His daughter Sushbir Bhoomia said that they have written to then Sports minister Ajay Maken and SAI officials but did not get a positive reply.

"We wrote to Mr. Ajay Maken who reffered this to SAI. We got a letter from then SAI secretary Gopal Krishna on 18th July, 2012 which says that they have checked up the availability of blazer both at SAI NIS, Patiala and Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi but the blazer was not available in the inventory of both the places. They also said that it was confirmed that this thing not with SAI," she said.

Asked about the matter, SAI centre Patiala's Regional Director S S Roy said,"I am unaware of this as I have joined recently but I will definitely check." Sushbir said she wants to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek justice for her father.

"We have never mentioned this to anyone but enough is enough. My father has been tolerating injustice for long.

Players with less achievements have been getting awards and rewards but he never complained. The only award he got till date is Padamshri and that too in 1957," she said.

"If you can't give him anything for his achievements, please don't rob him of his priceless possessions. His medals and blazer not only are the legacy of our family but they are also national heritage which will inspire future generations.

I urge PM Narendra Modi to intervene in this matter." Meanwhile, Balbir Sr has wished good luck to Indian hockey teams for the Incheon Asian Games.

"I want the team to come back with gold medal as medals are the symbol of hard work and dedication you have shown on the field for your country," he said. PTI

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Train services partially resume in Kashmir Valley

NEW DELHI: After remaining disrupted for 11 days, the Railways today partially resumed train services in the Kashmir Valley following restoration of tracks damaged by flood waters.

Train services commenced between Srinagar and Baramulla, said a senior Northern Railway official.

The first train departed from Budgam at 12 noon to Baramulla and will commence its return journey to Srinagar and thereon.

"Efforts are in full swing to restore the rail traffic in the remaining parts of the Kashmir Valley," he said.

The services were disrupted as the tracks were damaged due to flooding following incessant rains, the official said, adding that at some places people had taken shelter near railway tracks and rail premises.

The Northern Railway has taken several measures for people stranded in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir, like running special trains from Katra, Udhampur and Jammu to different parts of the country and attaching extra coaches to regular services.

Arrangements have also been made for free transportation of relief material by trains to Jammu and Udhampur.

A special train was made operational from Jammu to Indore via New Delhi to clear stranded passengers and extra coaches were being added to regular trains as per requirement, he said.

The Railways was also facilitating their journey to places like Islampur, Allahabad, Araria Cantt, Bettiah, Katihar, Lalganj, Narkatiaganj, Purania, Kiahanganj, Darbhanga, Bugha, Malda Town and Jogbani.

Northern Railway, along with NGOs and gurudwaras, is providing food free of cost to the stranded passengers at these stations. Railways doctors, along with medical teams, are also attending to those in need.

Exclusive waiting rooms have been earmarked for their use at New Delhi Station.
"In case of onward journey requirement from New Delhi and any other assistance, passengers can contact Station Manager (mobile no. 9717648892) and Deputy Station Manager (9717631960)," the official said.

Help desks have also been set up at Jammu, Udhampur and Katra railway stations for the convenience of passengers. A special help desk of railways has also been set up at T-3 terminal of Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi. PTIBack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Army provides medical aid to over 53,000 flood victims

JAMMU: The Army has treated 53,082 flood victims in Jammu and Kashmir, where 80 medical teams of the Armed Forces Medical Services are already operating in full swing.

So far 2.26 lakh people have been rescued from flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir and the armed forces have till now treated at least 53,082 patients, army officicals said.

As many as 80 medical teams of the Armed Forces Medical Services are already operating in full swing, officials said, adding, that four Army Field Hospitals have been established in Avantipur, Pattan, Anantnag and Old Airfield where medical aid is being provided to the ailing people.

Two additional fully-equipped field hospitals with laboratory testing equipment facility have also been established in Srinagar, they added.

One rapid action medical team from Air Force has been deployed at Avantipur and Srinagar, they said, adding that this team has provided medical aid to 2,684 patients.

More relief materials including tents, water bottles and food packets are being airlifted from Delhi, Arakonam and Amritsar, they said.

Armed Forces have also established 19 relief camps in Srinagar and Jammu region. In Srinagar region, camps were established at BB Cantt, Avantipur, Old Airfield, Sumbal, Chattargam and Jijamata Mandir, where thousands of rescued people are being sheltered. They are also being provided with food and other basic amenities. PTIBack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kashmir employees resent orders to join duty

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir government employees posted in the Valley, but stranded in the Jammu region, on Monday resented orders to join their duties immediately or face drastic administrative actions.

Crippled by the absence of its employees from their places of duty in the Valley, the state government Sunday ordered them to report to work immediately, failing which strong administrative action will be taken against them. 

In order to again establish its completely shattered administrative apparatus, the state government ordered its employees to join duty so that relief and rescue work can be started in the flood affected areas.

The unprecedented floods have so far claimed more than 200 lives.

The state government Sunday removed an inspector general of police (IGP) from his place of posting. It ordered his attachment to police headquarters.

Many employees posted in the valley resented orders to join duty immediately.

"The top officials of the state government are not functioning from their offices but from the safer heights of Hari Niwas (palace). We were ordered to join duties, where do we do that? At the palace or inside the submerged offices?" a senior official of the state government told IANS on the condition of anonymity. Agencies Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Relocation of ammunition dumps, bunkers ordered in Jammu

JAMMU: The Indian Army on Monday ordered the relocation of its ammunition dumps, bunkers and border outposts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu region due to extensive damage caused by floods.

Over 10 km of border fencing has been washed away by the floods along the LoC, which has resulted in serious damage to army posts and bunkers in the region, said a defence spokesperson.

"Immediate relocation of ammunition dumps to safer places has been ordered. It has also been ordered that bunkers and outposts along the LoC, those have been damaged due to floods especially in Rajouri, Poonch and Jammu districts be relocated to safer areas," the spokesperson said. IANS

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Mayawati rejigs party organisation, eyes set on 2017 polls

LUCKNOW: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati late Sunday affected major changes in the party hierarchy by sacking all the coordinator booth in-charges and assembly coordinators and announcing formation of nine new zones across the state, party leaders said on Monday.

In each zone, two divisions have been included for "more tight clasp" on local leaders and party cadres, a party leader who did not wish to be named told IANS. 

In every zone there would be four senior party leaders looking after the interest of the party. Some party leaders said that Mayawati has got down to micro-management of the party cadres keeping in mind the 2017 state assembly elections.

The BSP drew a blank in the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh though it had contested all the 80 parliamentary seats. The party did not participate in the recent by-poll for one Lok Sabha seat in Mainpuri and 11 assembly seats. 

Marginalised both at the centre and in the state where arch rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) run a government, the Dalit leader is believed to be planning an overhaul of the party so as to ensure that the migration of the Dalit vote bank to the BJP does not take place as also the party's organisational structure is strengthened, a close aide said.

Under the new hierarchy, Kanpur and Lucknow have been merged into one zone and former minister and legislator Inderjeet Saroj and Ashok Siddhartha have been assigned the task of coordinating party work here. 

Close aide R.K. Chowdhary will take care of Allahabad and Mirzapur. Party sources say the idea of the BSP supremo is to keep the party's rank n' file on their toes and deliver victory in the 2017 elections. IANS

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No case against Hafiz Saeed: Pak

NEW DELHI: Pakistan today made it clear that there was no case against designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, and he is free to roam in the country.

"Hafiz Saeed is a Pakistani national so he is free to roam around. So what is the problem...he is a free citizen so there is no issue as far as Pakistan is concerned," Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said when asked why Saeed was working alongside Pakistan army very close to Line of Control.

"Courts have already exonerated him. There is no case pending against him," he told reporters after an event here.

India has maintained that Saeed is the mastermind behind Mumbai terror attack in 2008, conspiracy for which was hatched, planned and executed out of Pakistan. 166 people were killed in the terror strike. New Delhi has also protested the delay in the on-going trial of the case in Pakistan.

Recently, Saeed, known for his anti-India tirade and designated as a terrorist by the US, has also accused India of indulging in "water-terrorism".

"On one hand, the Indian government has discharged water in rivers without notification and has given false information, and on the other is ironically offering help," Saeed has said at a press conference in reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's offer to help Pakistan in the flood crisis. PTI

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India slams Pak for clean chit to Saeed, demands his arrest

NEW DELHI: India today hit out at Pakistan for its remarks that Hafiz Saeed had no case against him and he was free to roam, saying the designated terrorist was the "evil" mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks and it devolves on Pakistan to bring the chief of terror outfit JuD to book and deliver justice.

"Our views on Hafiz Saeed are very clear. To us, he is the evil mastermind of the attacks on Mumbai and one of the accused in an Indian court for killings on streets of Mumbai.

We have repeatedly asked Pakistan that he should be apprehended and taken through normal judicial process.

"Alas! He has never been arrested on account of 26/11.

Therefore.... he is only free because he is a Pakistani citizen," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here.

The sharp reaction by India came within hours of Pakistan High Commission Abdul Basit's remarks that "Hafiz Saeed is a Pakistani national so he is free to roam around. So what is the problem...he is a free citizen so there is no issue as far as Pakistan is concerned. Courts have already exonerated him.

There is no case pending against him." Asked about Pakistan's stand that there was not enough evidence to prove his involvement, the MEA Spokesperson said, "99 per cent evidence in this case is in Pakistan. That is because the entire conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan. The planning for this dastardly act was done in Pakistan.

"The financing for this act was undertaken in Pakistan and people involved who were involved in this were from Pakistan. Therefore, it has always been our view that it devolves on Pakistan that it ensures that criminals like Hafiz Saeed were brought to book and justice was delivered in the instance of crime in Mumbai." 166 people were killed in the terror strike in Mumbai in 2008. New Delhi has also protested the delay in the on-going trial of the case in Pakistan.

Recently, Saeed, known for his anti-India tirade and designated as a terrorist by the US, has also accused India of indulging in "water-terrorism". PTI

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Rs 600 cr from NRIs, others for Guru Gobind Singh's birthplace

PATNA: Hundreds of NRIs and businessmen from across India will contribute a whopping Rs 600 crore to develop the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th guru of the Sikhs, on the lines of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, ahead of the guru's 350th birth anniversary in 2017.

Officials of the Takht Harmandir Saheb said NRIs from across the world, including the US, Britain and Canada, and businessmen from Mumbai, Delhi, Ludhiana, Kolkata and other cities have come forward to contribute to develop Harmandir Saheb.

Around five million people, mainly Sikhs from across the world, are expected to congregate here on the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

"Funds will not be a problem with NRIs and businessmen expected to contribute generously to develop it," Charanjeet Singh, general secretary of the Takht prabandhak committee, told IANS.

Work is already underway to develop and beautify Harmandir Saheb before the 350th birth anniversary, said RS Jeet, an official of Takht Harmandir Saheb.

More than 100 workers from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan are working day and night to complete the project.

The project includes a golden Guru Durbar on the lines of the Golden Temple.
Jeet said the main attraction would be the intricate gold inlay work being done on the ceiling of Harmandir Saheb.

"The entire project of gold work will cost Rs.50 crore," he said.

Britain-based Baba Mohinder Singh is funding the development of Guru Durbar that also includes a facility for parking 100 vehicles.

The committee is also constructing 100 fully air-conditioned rooms for devotees, and planning an air-conditioned Diwan hall for congregations.

Mumbai-based businessmen Iqbal Singh and Surjeet Singh have been funding the construction of 100 rooms for gurdwara staff.

The committee has also sent a proposal to the central government for Rs 1,200 crore for all-round development of Patna Saheb and a request for holy city status.

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said he was keen to develop the Sikh circuit in the state.

Manjhi recently visited Takht Harmandir Saheb and promised all possible help to the committee for completion of the project and making the 2017 event a grand success. -IANS
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Two students die in bus accident

CHANDIGARH: At least two students were killed and over 35 injured on Monday when a Haryana Roadways bus fell from a bridge into a rivulet, the police said.

The accident occurred near Naraingarh, about 50 km from here. The bus was on its way to Ambala city.

Most of the passengers were students. The injured were rushed to hospitals in Naraingarh, Ambala and Chandigarh.

The police said the bus driver claimed he lost control of the vehicle after one of the tyres burst. IANS
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Haryana boy among 15 Google science award contenders

GURGAON: A teenager from Haryana has invented a device to help patients of the dreaded ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease speak through their breath. His project is now among 15 shortlisted for the Google Science Fair Award 2014.

Arsh Shah Dilbagi, a student of Class 12 in one of the three DAV Public Schools in Panipat city of Haryana, has invented "Talk", an innovative augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device to tackle the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease.

ALS is a neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to control muscle movement is lost, and patients in the later stages may become totally paralysed, says the ALS Association based in Washington.

Arsh submitted his project online in February.

Hundreds of thousands of projects were submitted throughout the world as there was no fee to participate in the Google Science Fair.

Ninety projects were shortlisted by the judges for further consideration, and of the 90, five projects were from India.

"The 90 participants were interviewed online by the judges, and they selected 15 projects from nine countries, including India," Arsh told IANS.

Arsh is now the only participant from the Asia region.

He said his device Talk will help ALS patients speak through their breath.

The Google Science Fair website says Talk is a patent-pending innovative technology which, using the variations in a person's breath, helps him or her either to dictate letters which are further combined as sentences or speak out specific phrases depending on the mode selected.

Current such devices cost thousands of dollars but Talk can be made accessible under $100 and it also increases the speaking rate by at least 300 percent, it says.

"Earlier, a single access switch device was the only way to help ALS patients, but its cost starts from Rs.10 lakh. Middle class families are not able to afford this device," Arsh said.

He said that over 100 million people throughout world are ALS patients, more than the population of Germany.
However, there was no data available about the number of such patients in India, he said.

Arsh will be leaving for California Sep 19. There will be an exhibition round Sep 21-22, and results will be announced Sep 23.
Six awards will be given among the 15 participants.
There is also a voters' choice award, and Arsh has appealed to the people of India to vote for him.

One can vote by visiting www.googlesciencefair.com., then select Arsh's project and click 'yes' for him.

Voting lines are open up to 12 midnight of Sep 15, said Arsh's father Amit Dilbagi, an executive engineer with the Haryana government's electricity department in Panipat.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has also lauded Arsh for his project.-IANS
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A taste of Italy up in Shimla hills

SHIMLA: The Himachal Pradesh capital is now offering a platter of authentic taste of Italy an Italian thin crust, hand-rolled wood-fired pizza laced with an assortment of organic herbs grown in its kitchen garden.

The pizza will also have Italian tomatoes or pomodoros imported from Italy. Even the cheese is being imported from Italy.

"We are different from others as our thin crust pizza base is one of its kind as it is smoked in the mango wood oven. Others have electrical ovens which don't give it a smoky flavour," said Meet Singh Malhotra, The Oberoi Group's Clarkes Hotel's kitchen executive.

"Even its base is hand rolled and for health conscious guests we offer organic whole-wheat pizzas too," he said.

Herbs like basil, wild rocket and arugula used in the pizza are specially grown by the hotel in its kitchen garden without using pesticides or fertiliser.
Malhotra said the condiments with a pizza are olive oil which is flavoured with thyme, a herb, and balsamic vinegar.

"We use only the finest ingredients, besides traditional recipe and methods, to give typical Italian flavour," said Clarkes' general manager DP Bhatia .

He said Clarkes has also introduced a new menu which includes Chinese, Mexican, Italian and homemade pastas, besides traditional Himachali cuisines.

He said traditional Himachali food like khoru, patore, babroo, chaa ghosht and murgh anardana, which have been long forgotten, are popular among the guests.

In February this year, The Oberoi Group of hotels in Shimla and in Delhi introduced Himachali cuisine, which is not only offered in traditional style but also cooked by chefs trained by the "botis" or hereditary cooks in copper vessels.

Bhatia said Clarkes would soon add a street food menu.

It will include foods like keema samosa, patile wale matar kulcha, kachaudi with aloo ki sabzi and bichoo ki chat or stinging nettle chat.

The stinging nettle is commonly grown in the wild in the hills and is known to have medicinal values, said Malhotra.

To catch up the pizzeria fever, Clarkes offers unlimited pizza at Rs.550 per person with a complimentary drink from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Agencies
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