L A T E S T      N E W S

Hooda, ministers figure in Haryana Cong list

New Delhi: Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and several of his cabinet colleagues figure in the Congress list of 90 candidates announced tonight for all the Assembly seats in the state.

The list was released for the October 15 polls despite differences over candidates for certain seats between the Chief Minister and PCC Chief Ashok Tanwar who had reportedly offered to resign in protest against his nominees not being considered.

At the AICC briefing, party spokesman Anand Sharma feigned ignorance despite a volley of questions on a sulking Tanwar and his offer to resign. The PCC chief was also not immediately available for comments.

While Hooda is being fielded from his pocketborough of Garhi Sampla Kiloi in Rohtak district, Speaker Kuldeep Sharma will contest from Ganaur and Power Minister and AICC spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala from Kaithal.

Former Chief Minister Bansi Lal's daughter-in-law Kiran Chaudhary is the party candidate from Tosham while his son Ranbir Singh Mahendra, a former MLA and BCCI chief has been fielded from Badhra seat in Bhiwani district.

Congress ministers Savitri Jindal has been fielded from Hisar, Capt Ajay Singh Yadav from Rewari, Rao Narendra Singh from Narnaul and Geeta Bhukkal from Jhajjar-SC. The party has nominated senior leader and sitting MLA Bharat Bhushan Batra from Rohtak.

Congress is seeking a third term in Haryana, which is expected to witness a multi-cornered contest with Congress, BJP, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and some smaller parties in the fray.

However, the contest will be limited to the three big parties with others largely playing the role of spoilers.

Congress is expected to face an uphill task in the polls given the fact that it could secure just one seat Rohtak in the home district of the Chief Minister out of 10 seats in the Lok Sabha polls. INLD had won two seats while BJP had secured seven seats. PTI














SC cancels allocation of 214 coal blocks, spares 4

NEW DELHI: In a major blow to the corporate sector, the Supreme Court today quashed allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks which were allotted to various companies since 1993 and in which it was claimed that around Rs 2 lakh crores were invested.

A Bench, headed by Chief Justice R. M. Lodha, saved only four blocks — one belonging to NTPC and SAIL each and two allocated to Ultra Mega Power Projects — from being cancelled.

The Bench, also comprising justices Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, granted six months breathing time to mining companies to wind up their operations in the coal blocks.

The Bench also directed the companies, which were allocated coal blocks but had not operationalised them, to pay a compensation to the government for the loss of exchequer. It accepted the findings of the CAG which came to the conclusion that the loss of Rs 295 per tonne was caused due to the non-operation of the mines.

The apex court also noticed the stand taken by the NDA government that it is "fully prepared to face socio-economic impact" if the coal block allocations were cancelled.

During the earlier hearing in the case, the UPA govt had opposed cancellation of coal blocks allocation saying that around Rs 2 lakh crore had been invested by various companies after blocks were allotted to them.

The apex court had on August 25 held that all coal blocks allocation since 1993 by various regimes at the Centre have been made illegally and arbitrarily.

The apex court, which had used almost all terms to condemn the procedures adopted by 36 screening committee meetings since 1993, however, had stopped short of cancelling them saying, "what should be the consequences, is the issue which remains to be tackled."

The apex court, which examined the allocation of 218 blocks in pre-auction era till 2010, had held that they were done in an illegal manner by an "ad-hoc and casual" approach "without application of mind" and "Common good and public interest have, thus, suffered heavily" due to lack of fair and transparent procedure resulting in "unfair distribution" of the "national wealth" — coal — "which is king and paramount Lord of industry." 

"To sum up, the entire allocation of coal block as per recommendations made by the Screening Committee from July 14, 1993 in 36 meetings and the allocation through the government dispensation route suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and legal flaws.

"The Screening Committee has never been consistent, it has not been transparent, there is no proper application of mind, it has acted on no material in many cases, relevant factors have seldom been its guiding factors, there was no transparency and guidelines have seldom guided it," the bench had said in its 163-page verdict. — PTIBack

















India's Mars mission successful

BANGALORE: India on Wednesday made history by successfully placing its spacecraft in orbit around Mars, becoming the first country in the world to succeed in such an inter-planetary mission in the maiden attempt itself.

At 7.17 am, the 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) sizzled with life as it burnt along with the thrusters to slow down the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft to be captured by the Red Planet.

"MOM has met Mangal," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said annnouncing the mission's success, after nerve-wracking final moments at the command centre of Indian Space Research Organisation here.

Modi, who witnessed the operation along with the space scientists, said the odds were stacked against "us with only 21 of the 51 missions to Mars being successful," but "we have prevailed." 

An elated Prime Minister patted the back of ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan and complimented the Indian space scientists for making space history.

With the success of "Mangalyaan", India has become the first country in the world to go to Mars in the very first try. European, American and Russian probes have managed to orbit or land on the planet, but after several attempts.

Mars Orbiter Insertion was carried out automatically by commands loaded onto the spacecraft after its velocity was slowed down from 22.1 km per second to 4.4 km per second to be captured by the Martian orbit.

The spacecraft had entered the Martian neighbourhood on Monday.

At the time of MOM's orbital insertion, its signals took about 12 minutes and 28 seconds to travel to Earth for reception by NASA's Deep Space Network Stations in Canberra and Goldstone that relayed the data in real time to ISRO's station here.

The first sign of success in the final moments came when ISRO announced that burn of engines on India's Mars orbiter had been confirmed. "All engines of Mars orbiter are going strong. Burn confirmed," said ISRO signalling that history was in the making.

Igniting the main engine was critical as it had been lying in slumber for about 300 days and was woken up briefly for four seconds on Monday. ake or break tricky manoeuvre as even the slightest error would have pushed the orbiter into deep depths of space.

Much of the spacecraft's manoeuvre took place behind Mars, as seen from Earth. This meant that from a point four minutes into the Mars Orbiter Insertion (MOI) burn until three minutes after the scheduled end of the manoeuvre, teams on Earth had no insight into the spacecraft's progress.

The orbiter will keep moving in an elliptical path at least for six months with its instruments sending their gleanings back home.

The success in placing the spacecraft in the Martian orbit has made India the fourth space power after the United States, Europe and Russia to orbit or land on the Red Planet.

The Rs 450-crore Mangalyaan aims to study Mars' surface and mineral composition, and scan its atmosphere for methane, a chemical strongly tied to life on Earth.

The spacecraft was launched on November 5, 2013 on homegrown PSLV rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on its nine-month long odyssey. It had escaped the earth gravity pull on December 1, 2013. 

India's MOM is the cheapest inter-planetary mission. It cost about a tenth of NASA's Mars mission Maven that entered the Martian orbit on September 22.

The 1,350 kg spacecraft is equipped with five instruments including a sensor to track methane or marsh gas -- a possible sign of life, a colour camera and a thermal imaging spectrometer to map the surface and mineral wealth of the Red Planet.

US' NASA and its MAVEN team have congratulated ISRO on its Mars arrival, the Indian space agency said. -PTI Back
















India's Mars mission historic: Modi

BANGALORE: The success of India's successful mission to Mars "will go down as landmark in history", said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday after Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) entered the orbit of the red planet.

"These are all accomplishments that will go down as landmarks in history," said a visibly happy Modi.

The prime minister said that the MOM was built "indigenously, in a pan-Indian effort, stretching from Bangalore to Bhubhaneshwar, and Faridabad to Rajkot".

He said: "India is the only country, to have succeeded in its very first attempt." "With today's spectacular success, ISRO joins an elite group, of only three other agencies worldwide to have successfully reached red planet," he added amidst applause.

Modi, wearing a red coloured jacket, said that the "odds, were stacked against us". 
"Of the 51 missions, attempted across the world so far, a mere 21 had succeeded. But we have prevailed," he said.

The prime minister said: "Travelling an incredible distance, of over 650 million or 65 crore kms,we have gone beyond boundaries, of human enterprise and imagination." -IANS Back














PM asks cola cos to blend aerated drinks with fruit juice

Karnataka: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said he has asked soft drink makers like Pepsi to try and mix aerated drinks with 5 per cent fruit juice to help distressed farmers find a new market for their produce.

"We drink Pepsi, Coca-Cola and I do not know how many similar beverages are available in the market. The trade runs into billions of rupees. I have asked the companies if they can blend 5 per cent natural fruit juice in the beverages they make," Modi said after inaugurating the country's first integrated food park here.

"I am not asking for much. If 5 per cent of juice from fruits produced by our farmers is added, the farmer will not be forced to search for a market to sell. A single decision can ensure billions of rupees of trade," he said.

Modi added that he has already asked the Central government's research bodies to work on the possibility of blending cola drinks, which are widely considered unhealthy, with natural fruit juice.

By doing so, he said, farmers will not be forced to dump their produce and let it go waste because of unremunerative prices and the country can save Rs 30-40,000 crore by reducing the wastage of food products through processing.

According to a report by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations released last December, the consumption of non-alcoholic beverages is expected to increase by 16.5-19 per cent over the next three years in the country.

The report says corporate manufacturers of non-alcoholic beverages are expected to grow at an annual rate of 16.5 per cent and non-corporate manufacturers at 19 per cent.

The estimates are based on an assumed gross domestic product growth of 7 per cent, which is much higher than the 5 per cent growth several economists have forecast.

The country's beverage market is largely unorganised, with nearly 75 per cent of the demand serviced by companies in the unorganised sector.

In his 20-minute speech, Modi stressed on the importance of proper storage, processing and value additions, which will be done at the park.

He also underscored the need for adopting more scientific methods of farming. -PTI
















Rower Dushyant bags bronze 

INCHEON: Indian rower Dushiant Dushyant squandered a bright chance to win a gold as he settled for a bronze in men's light single sculls event on the fifth day of competitions at the 17th Asian Games here on Wednesday.

Dushyant was in a good lead over his opponents midway into the 2000m-distance contest but lost steam afterwards to settle for a third place with a timing of 7:26.57 at Chungju Tangeum Lake Rowing Center.

Kwan Hoi Lok of Hong Kong won the gold in 7:25.04 while Hakbeom Lee of South Korea finished second in 7:25.95.

The Indian was second after the first 500m but rowed his way to top spot at the 1000m mark. He had a very poor next 500m but still managed to lead the pack.

But, Dushyant could not match a strong finish from the rower from Hong Kong and South Korea in the final 500m and had to be content with the bronze. The Indian clocked fourth best times in the third and fourth quarters of the contest.

Dushyant's bronze is the first medal by Indian rowers in this edition of the Asian Games. India had won five medals in 2010 with one gold, three silver and one bronze. -PTI Back




















NASA welcomes Indian Mars mission with 'Namaste

NEW DELHI: As India entered the history books with insertion of its maiden Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) into the Martian orbit early on Wednesday, NASA's 2012 Mars mission Curiosity, ISRO's Mars Orbiter and NASA's 2014 Mars mission Maven that entered the Mars orbit Sep 21 exchanged fun tweets."

The #MAVEN team congratulates @ISRO for its #Mars arrival! @MarsOrbiter joins the missions studying the Red Planet," read the tweet from Nasa's Mars Mission twitter handle @MAVEN2Mars.

Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) welcomed it with a "Namaste".

"Namaste, @MarsOrbiter! Congratulations to @ISRO and India's first interplanetary mission upon achieving Mars orbit," it tweeted.

To this, ISRO's Mars Orbiter (@MarsOrbiter) replied: "Howdy @MarsCuriosity? Keep in touch. I'll be around." Later, ISRO's Mars Orbiter tweeted: "I'll be back after breakfast. Good ol' sunlight. It's good for your battery." – IANS








India's badminton doubles teams in Asiad pre-quarters

INCHEON: Indian men's badminton doubles team of B. Sumeeth Reddy-Manu Attri and the women's doubles pair of Pradnya Gadre-N. Siki Reddy won their respective matches comfortably to reach the pre-quarterfinals of the 17th Asian Games at the Gyeyang Gymnasium here Wednesday.

Reddy-Attri thrashed Maldives' Nasheeu Sharafuddeen and Mohamed Sarim 21-7, 21-7 in 19 minutes to win Round of 32 match. 

The Indian pair will face Chinese team of Xialong Liu and Zhian Qiu in the pre-quarterfinal Thursday. 

In the women's competition, Pradnya and Siki registered a facile win over Nepal's Sichhya Shrestha-Punam Gurung. 

The Indian pair wrapped up the Round of 32 match 21-6, 21-4 in just 16 minutes.
Pradnya-Siki face Japanese pair of Miyuki Maeda-Reika Kakiwa in the Round of 16 match later in the day. -IANS Back














70 IS militants killed in US-led airstrikes in Syria

BEIRUT: At least 70 Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist militants were killed and 300 more were wounded in airstrikes on Syrian territory launched by warplanes of the US-led international coalition on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

SOHR indicated that the militants were killed in bomb attacks that targeted their positions in the northern Syrian provinces of Raqaa, Deir al-Zur and al-Hasakah.

The London-based NGO expected the number of victims to increase as more than 100 jihadis were evacuated to Iraq where they are said to be in serious condition.
Tuesday's raids mark the first time US warplanes have attacked targets in Syria. Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also took part in or supported the airstrikes against the IS targets.

According to SOHR, the alliance launched more than 50 attacks in a matter of hours on IS bases and installations, many of which had been evacuated last week.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced Tuesday that it supports any international effort against the jihadi groups as long as it respects national sovereignty and is consistent with international decisions. -IANS














25 killed as bus falls into reservoir, several missing 

SHIMLA: At least 25 persons were drowned and several others were missing this morning after a bus fell into the Gobind Sagar reservoir at Rayian near Bilaspur, 95 km from here.

Twenty-five bodies have so far been recovered while 15 injured persons have been taken to a Bilaspur hospital, Bilaspur Deputy Commissioner Ajay Sharma said, adding that efforts are on in full swing to trace the missing.

The 40-seater bus was packed to capacity and some people were said to have been also travelling on its roof, sparking fears that the toll may be higher.

A number of students and labourers who were making their daily commute from Rishikesh to Bilaspur are among the victims.

The bus has been pulled out of the reservoir. The ill- fated bus belonging to a private transportation company was on its way from Rishikesh to Bilaspur and most of the passengers on board were locals.

Among the injured are about half-a-dozen passengers who managed to jump out of the bus in order to save themselves.

Divers of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) have joined efforts to fish out the bodies.

A large crowd of locals has gathered at the spot making anxious enquiries about the victims of the mishap. -PTI






















Maharashtra Assembly polls
Won't contest less than 150 seats, says Shiv Sena
Three small parties quit alliance

MUMBAI: In a fresh snub to BJP, the Shiv Sena has said it won't back off from its decision to contest at least 150 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly polls.

The discussions on arriving at a seat-sharing formula among the 'Mahayuti' partners on Sunday remained inconclusive.

The Sena had submitted a fresh proposal to its alliance partners on Sunday night, keeping 151 Assembly seats for itself, giving 130 seats to the BJP and leaving out just seven seats for its junior alliance partners.

"The Shiv Sena cannot contest anything less than 150 seats. The responsibility of keeping the ' Mahayuti' together is with the BJP. If the BJP agrees to let go off five seats, they still have six more seats that we have given up for them," senior Sena leader Ramdas Kadam told reporters outside party chief Uddhav Thackeray's residence here.

The Sena has already "sacrificed" 18 seats to keep the 'Mahayuti' (grand alliance of Sena, BJP and four junior partners) intact, Kadam said. 

Meanwhile, upset over 'paltry' allocation of seats for the October 15 Assembly polls, three small parties of the Shiv Sena-BJP led 'Mahayuti' today said they have decided to quit the combine and accused the saffron constituents of "back-stabbing" them.

"The Shiv Sena and BJP have stabbed us in the back. The SSP, RSP and Shivsangram have decided to leave 'Mahayuti' (grand alliance) and contest the Assembly polls jointly," SSP leader Sadabhau Khot said here.

"We will declare our joint list of candidates this evening," Khot said.

He said they were brought into the grand alliance by late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, "we trusted him and came into 'Mahayuti'. But our house is being burnt while trying to douse fire in their (Sena and BJP) houses."

"By giving seven seats to four constituents (including RPI), they (Sena and BJP) have insulted us," the farmers' leader from western Maharashtra said, adding that "we apologise to the people of Maharashtra for our mistake in aligning with such parties".

He alleged that there was a systematic plan to oust them from the 'Mahayuti'.

"We had asked the Sena and the BJP two months ago if we had become a burden for them. We will go to people and organise a 'Sangharsh Yatra' in the state to expose our betrayal," Khot said.

"We were used. They offered us seven seats. We said we don't want a single seat. Instead, at last night's meeting, we asked that RPI leader Ramdas Athawale and RSP leader Mahadev Jankar be made chief minister by rotation," he said.

Khot alleged that everyone tried to get more seats by using them.

"Both the parties (Sena and BJP) indulged in that. We will tell this to people of Maharashtra and expose them," he said.

While, Jankar said, the Sena and BJP stabbed us in the back.

"They stabbed us while talking sweetly. We will expose their real face to people of Maharashtra," Jankar said.

"They treated us like beggars. Now we won't go to them. They should come to us if they want to talk to us," he said.
— PTIBack












PM Modi's Navratri fast not an issue: White House

WASHINGTON: In view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi observing 'Navratri' fast during his US visit, the White House on Wednesday said this is unlikely to be an issue as they respectfully accommodate the practices of visitors.

"We are aware of the Prime Minister's plans to fast during his visit to Washington. As with all guests hosted by US Presidents over the years, we always work to respectfully accommodate the practices of our visitors," said Caitlin Hayden, Spokesperson of the National Security Council.

"The President looks forward to a successful bilateral visit with the Prime Minister, and we do not anticipate this being an issue in any way," Hayden told PTI when asked about Modi's Navaratri fast, during which he will be on a liquid diet and consume lemonade with some honey and a cup of tea every day.

The White House did not provide any further details, of what Modi would be served during the private working dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 29.

However, the White House Historical Association, believes that the details of the dinner have already been worked out, which would be respectful of the religious practices and believes of the visiting leader.

"Since the early 1920s, the Office of Protocol at the State Department always meets with –- as happened with the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister -- the Head of State advance team several weeks in advance and goes over every detail of the visit, which includes any dietary concerns or restrictions," Lara M Kline, spokesperson of the White House Historical Association, said.

"So the Indian advance team and the State Department Office of Protocol would have come to an understanding and an agreement related to his arrival and there is always the utmost concern, respect and consideration of the Head of State. I know, they would absolutely do everything he would be comfortable with, which the advance team shared," Kline said. 

The Obama's White House –- courtesy the First Lady –- has its own bee hive and produces honey which is used by the First Family and the White House kitchen.
The beehive is located on the South Lawn, and the foraging bees help pollinate the Kitchen Garden.

Charlie Brandt, a White House carpenter for more than two decades, who started beekeeping as a hobby, is the official beekeeper of the first ever beehive on White House grounds.

Meanwhile, yesterday in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "It is normal diplomatic practice that when we discuss any engagement which may entail any meal or any other food... for the host to request and for the guest, that is the Indian side, to indicate what are the dietary preferences." 

"And let me assure you that those dietary preferences have been indicated to the host (US) and they have taken note of it and have prepared everything accordingly," he said. –PTIBack













Kids who sleep well perform better in school 

LONDON: If you want your kids to do well in school, make sure that they get adequate sleep as researchers have found that lack of sleep increases the risk of failure in school.

Adolescents who suffer from sleep disturbance or habitual short sleep duration (less than 7 hours per day) are less likely to succeed academically compared with those who enjoy a good night's sleep, the findings showed.

The study involved more than 20,000 adolescents aged between 12 and 19 in Sweden.

"Another important finding of our study is that around 30 percent of the adolescents reported regular sleep problems," said lead researcher Christian Benedict from the 
Uppsala University in Sweden.

"Similar observations have been made in other adolescent cohorts, indicating that sleep problems among adolescents have reached an epidemic level in our modern societies", Benedict added.

The study appeared in the journal Sleep Medicine. -IANS
















Flood leaves behind trail of devastation in Srinagar

SRINAGAR: As they start gradually coming out of the shock caused by a devastating flood the likes of which Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar had not seen even in 1893, the worst ever recorded so far, Kashmiris are now taking stock of their material losses.

Businesses have been shattered, agriculture has been devastated and families have been uprooted from their homes which might not be immediately livable, given the fact that winter is knocking at the Valley's door. Two thousand houses have been completely destroyed in the Valley. More than 20,000 have suffered partial damage.

This does not include those in Srinagar city that bore the brunt of the floods.
Losses to agriculture are now officially estimated to have crossed Rs.3,500 crore (nearly $60 million). Trade and business losses in the city continue to be wild guess since most of the shops in the commercial hub of Residency Road, Lal Chowk, Badshan Chowk, Maisuma and Hari Singh High Street are still flooded.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry puts business and industrial losses at Rs.1 trillion.

Weeping and wailing shopkeepers in Badshah Chowk and other flooded areas were Tuesday cutting their iron shutters as these had rusted during the 10 days of floods and could not be opened normally.

"When I cut open the shutter of my shop, it seemed as if an explosion had occurred inside. Everything was smashed and smothered,", said Nazir Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Badshah Chowk.

Experts say when flood waters entered the shops in inundated areas, huge pressure was built inside as the flood waters had no way to come out of locked shops and business establishments.

"This resulted in creation of tons of pressure that destroyed all merchandise, show windows, furnishings and furniture inside," said a hydraulic engineer here.

Water-logged Maisuma is just on the other side of the Maulana Azad Road that leads to the civil secretariat from where the top state government offices function.

Maisuma has a large residential area and commercial establishments including shops and business offices.

"Everything is still under two feet of water as the fire brigade and police help the municipal authorities pump out the water from here," said Shuja, 45, who has a shop in the area he hasn't been able to open for the last 15 days.

The residential and commercial areas of Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Wazir Bagh, Karan Nagar and Nursing Garh are still flooded.

The threat of an epidemic now looms over Srinagar's 1.45 million population.

The authorities say they have removed more than 300 animal carcasses those were floating in the flood waters of the city.

Asked whether these buried carcasses wouldn't trigger an epidemic in areas where the authorities had buried them, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said: "We have treated these carcasses with chemicals before they were removed and buried. There is no danger of any epidemic in areas where these carcasses have been buried." The Srinagar Municipal Corporation faces an uphill task to ensure sanitation and check spread of infections in the flood-ravaged city.

There is a foul smell around the inundated areas. Everybody engaged in removal of garbage is wearing a mask. This covers policemen, municipal workers and relief distributors.

Doctors have advised people to boil water and keep it on the boil for at least 20 minutes so that it is safe for drinking.

"All the flood-triggered diseases are water-borne. If you are able to take care of your water, there is no threat of any epidemic in the city," said the director of the state health department.

Even when the resilience of Kashmiris has historically been such that they have emerged stronger from earthquakes, famines and floods in the past, this biblical flood has shattered them deep down.

Nobody could have put it better than the chief minister himself: "Well, my government was drowned." Well, it took just one night to drown what was the pride of Srinagar, including its posh residential colonies, business centres and, most important of all, the confidence of its residents.-IANS



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