L A T E S T      N E W S

Approx 64 pc turn out recorded in Maha Assembly poll 

Mumbai: An estimated 64 per cent of Maharashtra's 8.35 crore voters today cast their ballots in a bitterly-fought election that pollsters said will throw up a hung Assembly with BJP emerging as the single-largest party but falling short of a majority in the 288-member House.

"Approximately 64 per cent polling has been recorded by 6 PM. The exact details are being worked out," sources in the office of the state's Chief Electoral officer said.

The poll, considered the first major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity after Lok Sabha election, passed off peacefully.

Prominent among those whose electoral fate will be decided when counting takes place on Sunday include former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, his deputy and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Eknath Khadse, his counterpart in Legislative Council Vinod Tawde (both BJP), Shiv Sena leader in the outgoing Assembly Subhash Desai and his MNS counterpart Bala Nandgaonkar.

Polling started on a brisk note, slowed down around noon but again picked up and about 55 per cent of the electorate had cast their votes by 5 PM, officials said.

Technical problems in electronic voting machines (EVMs) were reported from some polling booths in Nagpur city and Wardha district in Vidarbha, and Sewree in Mumbai. Voters in a Nashik booth also complained that the electoral rolls were not in order.

A policeman on election duty was killed after being struck by lightning in Avdeghat polling station of Savner constituency in Vidarbha, where polling in some parts was marred by rains.

The election, first in over two decades without any major pre-poll alliances in place after BJP snapped its 25-year-old ties with Shiv Sena and NCP broke off its partnership with Congress after a 15-year shot at power in the state, will also test the individual mettle of the parties.

Raj Thackeray's MNS, after a drubbing in Lok Sabha poll, is seeking to emerge as X factor and the king maker in the contest where multiplicity of parties is expected to drastically reduce victory margins. -PTI

Exit polls project BJP as largest party in Maha, Haryana 

New Delhi: BJP was today projected in exit polls to emerge as the largest party in both Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections stopping short of majority.

The Congress and NCP, which were ruling Maharashtra for 15 years before they split ahead of the elections, were projected to lose heavily while Shiv Sena was predicted to emerge as the second largest party.

One exit poll conducted by 'Today's Chanakya', however, gave a clear majority for BJP in both Maharashtra and Haryana.

Maharashtra, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned extensively addressing 27 rallies, appears to be heading for a BJP government for the first time in the state's history.

According to C-voter exit poll telecast on Times Now and Zee News channels, BJP was projected to get 129 out of 288 seats. Its erstwhile ally Shiv Sena was projected to get 56 seats while Congress was predicted to bag 43, NCP 36, MNS 12 and others 12. For a majority, a party has to get 145 seats.

In the outgoing assembly, BJP had 47 seats while Shiv Sena had 45. Congress had 82 seats, NCP 62 and MNS had 12.

Exit poll conducted by AC Nielson for ABP channel gave BJP 127 seats, Shiv Sena 77, Congress 40, NCP 34 and MNS 5.

An exit poll telecast on India TV gave BJP between 124 and 134 seats, Shiv Sena 51-61, Congress 38-48, NCP 31-41 and MNS and others 9-15 each.

Today's Chanakya exit poll telecast on News24 channel gave BJP a clear majority with 151 seats while Shiv Sena was given 71. Congress was given 27 while NCP 28. MNS was projected to get 11.

The same pollster projected clear majority for BJP in Haryana, giving it 52 of the 90 seats. INLD comes second with 23 seats, Congress 10 and others 5.

In the outgoing Assembly, Congress had 40 seats, BJP had only four, INLD 31 and HJC 6. Others had 9. Exit poll by C-Voter projected 37 seats for BJP in Haryana, 28 for INLD, 15 for Congress, 6 for Haryana Janhit Congress and 4 for others.

AC-Nielson gave 46 to BJP, Congress 10, INLD 29, HJC two and others three. If the projections come true, BJP will be forming the government in Haryana for the first time ever. Modi campaigned extensively in the state, addressing 11 rallies. Counting of votes will take place on October 19. -PTI













Indian among 12 trekkers killed in Nepal snow storm 

Kathmandu: An Indian was among 12 trekkers killed while 85 others remained missing after being hit by one of the worst snow storms in western Nepal today.
"Eight people including an Indian national was killed in Manang district while four foreigners were killed in Mustang district near Thorang Pass," according to officials.

Four Canadians, three Nepalis and one Indian national were killed in Manang district, 400 km north-west of Kathmandu, according to Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN). Three Nepalese and one Israeli national were killed by the snow storm in Mustang.

The incident occurred in Thorang Pass area which lies between border of Manang and Mustang districts at an altitude of 5,416 metres.

The sudden heavy snow fall in the area is attributed to Hudhud cyclone, that hit southern India recently. Heavy rainfalls accompanied by hailstorms lashed the central and western regions of Nepal for the past few days.

There were 4 to 5 metre snow fall in the area, according to Gopal Babu Shrestha, Treasure of TAAN.

"This was the worst incident in the mountain region of Nepal involving foreigners in the recent past," said Shrestha.

Some 85 foreign trekkers have lost contact with the staff of the trekking company in two separate places of Manang and Mustang districts.

The Nepal Army has said that it has rescued alive 18 foreign trekkers from Mustang area.

The four dead bodies and 14 injured trekkers have been brought to Kathmandu on helicopters, the Nepal Army said in a statement.

Many people might have been killed in the incident, according to unconfirmed sources.

A trekking agency staff quoting a rescued guide said that he had seen some 24-25 bodies lying in the snow.

In a separate incident, five foreign trekkers have gone missing from Dhaulagiri area, according to officials.

Nepal Army and Nepal Police personnel including local trekkers have been mobilised to carry out rescue works, he said.

Nepal Army has also launched aerial search through a helicopter in the snow storm hit area.

However, adverse weather condition and heavy snow fall in the region has hampered rescue works.

It was very difficult to establish communication with the missing trekkers and coordinate rescue due to heavy snow falls in the area. -PTI












Haryana creates history, clocks highest ever polling 

Chandigarh, Oct 15 (PTI) History was created in Haryana today as over 73 per cent of the 1.63 crore eligible voters exercised their franchise, surpassing the previous high of 72.65 per cent in 1967. "More than 73 per cent voters had cast their votes.

However, the final percentage figure was likely to go up as voters were still inside polling stations and all figures were being compiled," Haryana's Chief Electoral Officer, Shrikant Walgad told PTI.

The Election Department officials said that those voters who had entered the polling station by 6 PM will also be allowed to cast their vote.

Close to 6 PM, healthy voter turnout was witnessed at Fatehabad district (78 pc), Hisar (73 pc), Jind (75 pc), Kaithal (79 pc), Kurukshetra (78 pc), Mewat (76 pc), Rohtak (70 pc) and Yamunanagar (79 pc).

However, polling was not that high in Faridabad district (57 pc), Gurgaon (64 pc) and Panchkula (66 pc).

Amid tight security, polling commenced in all the 90 Assembly seats at 7 AM to decide the fate of 1,351 candidates.

Counting of votes will take place on October 19.

Over 1.63 crore voters including over 87 lakh women were eligible to cast their vote in the polls, in which stakes are high for ruling Congress, BJP and INLD.

In 2009 polls, total polling of 72.37 per cent had been recorded.

In 1967, maximum polling of 72.65 per cent had taken place while in 1968 minimum polling of 57.26 per cent was registered.

Similarly, in Assembly elections of 1972 total percentage of polling was 70.46 per cent in Haryana.

In 1977, the total polling percentage was 64.6 per, in 1982 it was 69.87, in 1987 total polling percentage was 71.24 per cent, in 1991 it was 65.86 per cent, 70.54 per cent in 1996, 69.01 per cent in 2000 and 71.96 per cent in 2005.

2014 Lok Sabha polls registered 71.86 per cent polling.-PTI











Haryana: Over 35% turnout in first six hrs, minor clashes reported 

CHANDIGARH: Barring stray incidents, polling in Haryana was by and large going on smoothly as about 35 per cent of the 1.63 crore eligible voters exercised their franchise till 1 pm on Wednesday.

Two persons were injured in firing during a clash between supporters of two groups in Sirsa, Sirsa Superintendent of Police, Mitesh Jain, said.

A supporter from each side was injured in the incident and the seriously injured person has been hospitalised, police said, adding investigations are on in the matter.

Amid tight security, polling commenced in all the 90 assembly seats at 7 am and would continue till 6 PM to decide the fate of 1,351 candidates. Counting of votes will take place on October 19.

Election officials said that the polling was slow during the first two hours, but gradually picked up pace and was brisk at places including Fatehabad, Hisar, Gurgaon, Jind, Mewat, Palwal and Yamunanagar while it was moderate at other places, including Panchkula, Karnal and Rewari districts.

In another incident, the window panes of a car belonging to a supporter of Haryana Lokhit Party's Gopal Kanda were broken following a minor clash between the supporters of HLP and INLD workers in Sirsa, police said.

Kanda, a former Haryana Minister, is seeking re-election from Sirsa.

There were glitches in EVM machines at a couple of places in the state.

In Narnaund, BJP candidate from the assembly segment and Chief Ministerial aspirant, Capt Abhimanyu alleged that attempts to capture booth were made in Baans village in the constituency at the behest of rival INLD, which vehemently denied the charge.
Wires of web-casting camera were cut in Booth No 140 and an attempt was made to capture booth by the 'goondas', Abhimanyu told reporters in Narnaund.

This is a hyper sensitive booth, he said, "but the police administration is sitting like a mute spectator".

A spokesman of the INLD said that Abhimanyu was levelling false allegations "out of sheer frustration sensing his imminent defeat".

Over 1.63 crore voters, including over 87 lakh women are eligible to cast their vote in the polls, in which stakes are high for the three main contenders including ruling Congress, BJP and INLD.

Ahead of the polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led an aggressive poll campaign for the BJP, which is for the first time seeking to come to power in Haryana on its own.
The kin of the three famous 'Lals' (Bansi Lal, Bhajan Lal and Devi Lal) are also battling it out in the state.

The highest number of 116 women contestants are in fray this time.

Among the candidates who had cast their votes before noon included Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in his home district of Rohtak. On the day of polling, Hooda looked relaxed and began his day by playing a game of badminton.

Interacting with reporters at Rohtak, Hooda claimed that his Congress party was on a good footing in the state.

When asked if he saw "Modi factor" playing a role in the Haryana polls, Hooda told reporters in Rohtak that Narendra Modi was not fighting for the post of chief minister of Haryana.

"The BJP did not even declare its Chief Ministerial candidate in Haryana ahead of the polls," he said.

Hooda also said that he had not seen a Prime Minister campaign so much in a small state like Haryana.

"He addressed 11 rallies. It looked as if he was trying to become the chief minister of Haryana," Hooda said after casting his vote.

Meanwhile, others who cast their votes early included Haryana Ministers Randeep Singh Surjewala (Kaithal), Savitri Jindal (Hisar), Geeta Bhukkal (Jhajjar), Ajay Singh Yadav (Rewari), Capt Abhimanyu of the BJP (Narnaund in Hisar district) and INLD's Naina Chautala (Sirsa), Jan Chetna Party chief Venod Sharma (Ambala) and Haryana Janhit Congress chief Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur in Hisar).
Voters had started queuing up since early morning.

A total number of 16,357 polling booths have been set up.

The total number of voters also include 88,662 service voters and 12 NRI voters.
Unlike in the recent past, when the fight has mainly been limited between Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), a number of new players have thrown their hats in the ring this time.

BJP, which has in the past elections remained a marginal player in the state, is trying to come to power on its own for the first time since the formation of Haryana in 1966.

The ruling Congress is eyeing a win for the third time in a row, mainly banking on the development card while main opposition INLD is seeking to return to power after a decade of hiatus, banking on the charisma of its President Om Prakash Chautala and consolidation of the Jat vote. PTI















Cyclone-hit Visakhapatnam limps back to normalcy 

VISAKHAPATNAM: Normalcy is slowly returning to this port city Wednesday, three days after it was battered by cyclonic storm as authorities intensified relief operations with focus on provision of essential commodities.

Water is being supplied to citizens through tankers from neighbouring East and West Goadavri districts while milk and vegetables were procured in huge quantities. Fire engines were also pressed into service to supply water to apartments.

It was a huge relief for citizens, reeling under severe shortage of essential commodities for last two days. While communication services have been partially restored, authorities are still battling to restore electricity supply.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who continues to camp here to monitor relief operations, told reporters Wednesday morning that electricity supply to some areas was restored through alternate arrangements. He said with 40,000 electricity poles damaged, restoring the supply is a gigantic task.

Naidu said nine lakh families in the affected districts will be provided free ration through public distribution system. Each family will get 25 kg rice, five kg kerosene, three kg sugar, one kg palm oil, three kg potatoes and one kg onion.

With retailers exploiting the situation by jacking up the prices of essentials, the authorities dumped vegetables in huge quantities to overcome artificial scarcity. Naidu said vegetables were being supplied for Rs 3 to Rs 5 a kg. Five lakh liters of milk was also brought to the city.

Naidu said six lakh food packets brought by helicopters were distributed in the city Tuesday while relief camps continued. About six lakh people have taken shelter in these camps in the districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and East Godavari. 

Authorities also ensured supply of petrol and diesel in sufficient quantities at fuel stations to overcome the shortage.

Severe cyclonic storm Hudhud, which hit the coast near this steel city, claimed 25 lives in three districts. Officials of disaster management department said 43 people were injured. About 8,000 houses were damaged.

According to them, 3,368 animals perished in the disaster. Crops over 1.82 lakh hectares were damaged. –IANS















PM urges youth to ensure record voting in Maha, Harayana

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urged people, especially youngsters, to ensure record voting in Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly polls.

"Urging the people of Haryana and Maharashtra to go out and cast their votes.

 Youngsters must show the way and ensure record turnout," PM tweeted.

Modi campaigned extensively for his party in the polls and held a record number of rallies any Prime Minister had addressed for any state election. -PTI



















Hooda sips tea, says Modi trying to be Haryana CM 

ROHTAK: It may not have been a deliberate move to link it with Narendra Modi's ascent from a tea-vendor to being the prime minister, but Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Wednesday started his day from a roadside tea-stall in Haryana's Rohtak town and within minutes was taking on Modi.

"I have not seen a prime minister coming and campaigning so much in a small state like Haryana. He addressed nothing less than 11 rallies. It looked as if he was trying to become the chief minister of Haryana," Hooda said here after casting his vote.

While Modi led the BJP campaign in the state from the front, the Congress largely relied on Hooda. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi could not match up to Modi in holding rallies.

Hooda, with some close aides, stopped his motorcade at a roadside tea stall here and had tea.

The chief minister, who is taking a shot at a third term in office, having ruled Haryana since March 2005, said that some leaders had stooped to a new low in political discourse during the run-up to the assembly polls for 90 seats in Haryana.
"Some leaders stooped very low in this election. I can only say that we upheld the grace in politics," said a clearly upset Hooda.

The Hooda government was at the receiving end from the BJP and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) for land scams and large-scale corruption allegations. Hooda and the Congress are facing an uphill challenge in this assembly election with the BJP and INLD clearly in the lead over the Congress.

Among the early voters Wednesday were Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the country's richest woman Savitri Jindal, INLD candidates Naina Chautala and Dushyant Chautala who is the Hisar MP, Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) president Kuldeep Bishnoi, union Minister of State Krishan Pal Gurjar and former union minister Venod Sharma.
Most of the leaders were accompanied by their family members to the respective polling stations.

Savitri Jindal, who is the Congress candidate from the Hisar assembly seat, was accompanied by family members to the polling station.

Hooda appeared, or at least he was portraying that, to be completely relaxed on polling day. Hooda, who plays tennis and badminton regularly, reached a sports complex here and played a game of badminton.
"I play tennis regularly which is my game. However, today I played badminton as I could not go to a tennis court," said Hooda dressed in track pants and T-shirt.

In the past 24 hours before balloting began, a political war started on regional news channels over a leading sect extending its support to the BJP. The Congress and the INLD were clearly upset by the sect's move to support the BJP in the assembly elections. –IANS Back


















Two injured in firing in Sirsa

CHANDIGARH: Two persons were on Wednesday  injured in firing during a clash between two groups in Modia Khera village in Sirsa district, police said.

One person sustained serious injuries and has been rushed to a hospital, Sirsa Superintendent of Police, Mitesh Jain, said.

Asked if the clash occurred between supporters of two rival parties, since polling is underway in Haryana today, Jain said, "we are investigating".

Former Haryana Minister Gopal Kanda, is contesting from Sirsa. He now heads the Haryana Lokhit Party. -PTI Back














Polling hit in Haryana village as women told to show face 

GURGAON: Voting to the Haryana assembly was impacted on Wednesday in a village as an official told women to show their faces, police said.

The incident took place in Sikanderpur village in Pataudi constituency.

"An officer forced women to show their faces before casting the votes. How can a woman lift her 'ghoonghat' (veil) before elders of the village...," Ashok Yadav, a resident from Sikanderpur, told IANS.

"We decided to boycott the voting and informed higher authorities," he said.

Virender Singh, Sarpanch Mukesh Devi's husband, said that "police and duty magistrate visited the booth in Sikanderpur village and tried to resolve it". 

A police official said that extra police force has been deployed. "The situation is under control and polling is now going smoothly." –IANS Back














118 local bodies of 5 states to meet for Ganga cleaning plan

NEW DELHI: Stepping up efforts to check pollution in river Ganga, the ministries of water resources and urban development have joined hands and called for a meeting of elected chiefs of 118 urban local bodies from five states to chalk out an action plan.

In a meeting between Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati and Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, the issues relating to release of untreated sewage from 118 cities in five states into the Ganga was discussed here today.

Both discussed the Ganga pollution issue and possible measures to be taken to address the problem, said a senior Urban Development Ministry official.

The two Ministers felt the need for pro-active cooperation from governments of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal in formulation and execution of schemes to check pollution of the River Ganga from the 118 towns and cities that are located along the river, according to the official.

Both of them agreed to convene a meeting of Ministers of Urban Development of these five states along with the Principle Secretaries of Urban Development, Mayors and Chairpersons and Commissioners of 118 urban bodies, he said.

The meeting is intended to sensitise all the concerned about the measures to be taken for cleaning Ganga.

Secretaries of the two ministries have been asked to work out the modalities for holding the meeting of all concerned local bodies. -PTI Back



















Parties claim victory in multi-cornered contest in Haryana 

CHANDIGARH: As Haryana voted on Wednesday to elect its new government in a multi-cornered contest, ruling Congress exuded confidence of retaining power in the state for the third consecutive time while BJP, INLD and HJC also claimed victory.

Riding on popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP voiced hope of forming government and freeing the state of politics of caste, region and dynastic politics.

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda claimed that the Congress will form its government for the third time in a row as people will put their stamp on the development work initiated by them.

With INLD supremo Om Parkash Chautala behind bars serving a 10-year sentence in graft case, his son Abhay Singh Chautala said that people of the state will give their verdict and decide on whether the Chautalas have indulged in corruption or not.

Chautala has been in jail along with his son Ajay Singh over the JBT Teachers recruitment scam and debarred from contesting elections. He has, however, been campaigning for his party and claiming that he will take oath as chief minister sitting inside Tihar Jail if his party wins.

Haryana Janhit Congress, which broke its alliance with BJP ahead of elections over seat-sharing, is also claiming that it will form the next government 

BJP leader Abhimanyu, also in race for the top post, said, "BJP is contesting on all 90 seats with an aim to achieve genuine development in Haryana and eliminate dynastic politics and eliminate caste-based and region-based politics from the state".
He said, "Haryana is coming around and the good governance and development plank of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will win in the state. We will definitely win and form a government of the BJP in Haryana."

Abhay Chautala, meanwhile, said, "The Congress hatched a conspiracy with the CBI to put my father (Om Parkash) and brother (Ajay Singh) behind bars and people will give their verdict on whether they have done any corruption or not." 

Hooda, on the other hand, claimed there is no anti- incumbency against Congress and instead there is pro- incumbency as people have lauded the development initiated by the Congress regime.
"I think all Haryanavis are satisfied with the performance and good governance given by the Congress in the last 10 years and after addressing rallies across the state I am confident that the Congress will form a government of its own for the third time in a row in Haryana," Hooda told reporters after casting his vote in Rohtak.

He also said that Lok Sabha elections and Assembly elections in Haryana are contested on different grounds and cited examples of the past when Congress did not do well in 1999 Lok Sabha polls but won a number of seats in the Assembly polls held a few months later.

"Lok Sabha and Assembly elections are fought on different issues and the results are different. Congress will do well in these polls," he said.

He also took a jibe at the Prime Minister addressing as many as 11 poll rallies in assembly elections and said he would "welcome Modi to be Chief Minister of Haryana", going by his aggressive campaign. -PTI Back
















At half time, 33% voting in Maharashtra 

MUMBAI: Over a quarter of Maharashtra's 8.35 crore voters exercised their franchise by Wednesday afternoon in assembly elections that has pitted the BJP against virtually everyone else.

The voting percentage until 1 pm in certain constituencies was as low as 20 per cent but exceeded 45 percent in some.

Along with balloting for the 288-seat Maharashtra assembly, voting also took place for the Lok Sabha by-election in Beed. The seat fell vacant following the death of union minister Gopinath Munde in June.

The main contenders for power are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose campaign was spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, its estranged ally Shiv Sena, the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as well as the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

The battle has become a matter of prestige particularly for the Shiv Sena, which has gone on a verbal offensive against the BJP for breaking a quarter-century-long Sena-BJP alliance ahead of the election.

Other parties have also attacked the BJP more than any other party.
Among those who voted in Mumbai were celebrities, including industrialists and Bollywood and television stars. The polling began at 7 a.m. and is set to end at 6 p.m.

Security was tight at the 91,376 polling stations across the state, including more than 9,900 classified as "hyper sensitive" and 62 "sensitive" centres -- official euphemism to mean they could witness violence.

Polling was suspended for some time in two constituencies in Nagpur, one each in Nashik and Mumbai following technical glitches in the electronic voting machines.
In parts of Nagpur and Amravati, voting was affected following sudden thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rains.

In four polling stations in northwest Mumbai, voters complained of excessive heat and lack of ventilation after which the election officer arranged for fans for the long queues of voters.
In many places, people began queuing up since early Wednesday.

Among the early voters were former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar in Baramati, BJP leader Vinod Tawde in Mumbai and Pankaja Munde, daughter of the late Gopinath Munde, in Beed.

A total of 4,119 candidates are in the fray. These include 276 women.

On Wednesday, the Shiv Sena asserted that it was the prime contender for power in Maharashtra.

In full front page advertisement in the party organs Saamana and Dopaharka Saamana, the party proclaimed: "Dhanushyabaan Ki Tankaar Hai, Aani Ab Apni Sarkar Hai!" Dhanushyabaan or bow and arrow is the Shiv Sena's election symbol.
In other big advertisements released in the Mumbai media, it virtually termed the rival parties as demon king Ravana.
"Ravana was not killed by a 'hand' (Congress symbol), a 'clock' (NCP) or a 'flower' (BJP's lotus). He was taken down by a bow and arrow," the advertisements said.
"Take down the evils of corruption, load-shedding, policy paralysis, bad governance by voting for the bow and arrow," it exhorted voters.

"Go vote" and "Get inked" is the mantra Bollywood stars like Salman Khan and Abhishek Bachchan spread among their fans via Twitter as they voted.

Said model Milind Soman: "Get out and vote! Be proud to be part of the largest democracy in the world, to keep it healthy is in our hands." Said actress Pooja Bedi after voting: "I urge ALL of u in Maharashtra and Haryana to vote. Your vote is your right... And it DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Those who don't vote don’t have the right to complain about the way the system functions." –IANS Back
















Pak violates ceasefire again in JK, fires along LoC in Poonch

JAMMU: Pakistani troops again violated the ceasefire today by resorting to mortar shelling and firing along the LoC in Poonch district.

There was firing from across the border along LoC in Saujian sector of Poonch district this morning, Senior Superintendent of Police, Poonch, Shamsher Hussain told PTI.

Pakistani troops also targeted forward areas in Kirni and Shahpur belts, he said, adding there was no injury to anyone in the cross-border firing.

A Defence Spokesman said the troops retaliated to the Pakistani firing.
"There was no loss of life", he said.

Divisional Commissioner, Jammu Zone, Shant Manu said today that "there has been no firing by Pakistan along the IB in the past few days. It is calm."
He, however, said that firing by Pakistan is going on along the LoC in Saujian belt of Poonch.

The IB and LoC in Jammu region have witnessed heavy firing and mortar shelling by Pakistani troops since October one which has left eight persons dead and over 94 injured, including 13 security men.

Besides nearly 30,000 people have fled from their border homes leaving 113 hamlets deserted along the IB.
"The Pakistani firing and mortar shelling stopped at 1045 hours today along the LoC in Poonch district", the Defence spokesman said.

He said Pakistani troops fired 82 mm mortar bombs in the shelling. "There has been no loss of life on the Army's side", the spokesman said. –PTI











Darbar move: J-K offices to reopen in Jammu on Nov 10

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir government's Civil Secretariat and other offices will close in Srinagar on October 31 and reopen in the winter capital Jammu on November 10, as part of Darbar move, a century-old practice under, which government functions six months each in the two capitals.

"The Secretariat and other offices shall move to Jammu in full and in camp, respectively, for winter Season, 2014-15.

All the offices shall reopen at Jammu on November10th," Secretary to General Administration Department, MA Bukhari said in a government order.

All departments of the Civil Secretariat, including Chief Minister's Secretariat, Personal Staff of Ministers, DGP's office and 50 other offices will move in camps to Jammu with 33 per cent of their staff.

The Civil Secretariat offices at Srinagar will close on 31st, while the offices outside Secretariat will be shut down by November 1, the order stated.

It has been ordered that the offices moving in camp will carry only 33 per cent of the strength of staff in that particular office or with 10 officials whichever is minimum, Bukhari said.

J-K SRTC has been asked to provide sufficient number of buses for transporting Jammu-based employees on November 1, 2 and Kashmir-based employees on November 8, 9. Trucks carrying government records and other materials will leave Srinagar for Jammu on November 2.

Police have also been directed to escort the employees' buses and the records convoy all along the route up to their respective destinations, Bhukari added.
The state government shifts its capital from Jammu to Srinagar in the first week of May every year and functions here for six months before moving back to Jammu along with volumes of records.

The 141-year-old practice was started by the Dogra Maharaja of the state Ranbir Singh in 1872 to escape the extreme weather conditions in Jammu during summers and in Srinagar during winters.

The practice continued after Independence also so that people from both Jammu region and Kashmir valley have equal access to seat of power during the year. –PTIBack














Rally to recruit ex-servicemen this month

JALANDHAR: A rally to re-enrol ex-servicemen in the defence services will be organised by the Sikh Regimental Centre at Ramgarh Cantt in Jharkhand later this month, military spokesperson said here on Wednesday.

The rally, which will be held from October 27 in Ramgarh's Chhawani village in Jharkhand, will recruit ex-servicemen who are below 48 years and have taken leave from service for maximum five years ago, military spokesperson Naresh Vig said in a statement.

The eligible candidates need to report on October 26 in Ramgarh Camp, he added. -PTI Back















Basmati rice exporters asked to adopt village clusters 

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday asked rice exporters to adopt village clusters for quality seed production of Basmati varieties in order to boost export of the premium variety of rice.

In a meeting held with the members of Punjab Rice Exporters Association (PREA), Badal asked them to adopt a nearby cluster of 8-10 villages for producing quality seed of Basmati varieties like 1501, 421.

He also called for undertake vigorous efforts for the revival of traditional variety of Basmati-386, which is known for its unique aromatic fragrance and taste.

The Chief Minister said the state agriculture department along with the association can make joint efforts for the production of quality Basmati seed as this would give impetus to Basmati rice export.

Rice exporters said that with the picking up of the Basmati arrival in the coming days, the state farmers would be enormously benefited as the price is expected to touch Rs 3,000 a quintal.

The Chief Minister also promised to resolve all the pending issues of the PREA at the forum of Basmati Development Board and asked officers to fix its meeting at the earliest.

Badal also promised to take up the issue of recognition of PUSA 1121 variety of Basmati in Europe with the Union Ministry of Commerce. This has not yet been defined as approved export vareity in the European market.

He also assured them of getting the issue of levying entry tax on the Basmati varieties of PUSA and 'Sugandha' purchased from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states, thoroughly examined. -PTI















How friends can make you 'fat'

WASHINGTON: Friends can actually make you fat by insisting to share a chocolate cake they know you love so much, and you know that you shouldn't have but can't really say no to.

The new study says that people feel happier and regret free when someone insists them to indulge in sharing some dessert or indulge in other guilty pleasures.

According to authors Fangyuan Chen and Jaideep Sengupta from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, though generally people don't like to be forced t do things, when it comes to things that are normally associated with feelings of guilt, reducing someone's sense of free choice could ultimately boost their overall well-being.

In one study, a group of consumers was asked to read a book that was either entertaining or educational. These consumers were either able to choose the book themselves or simply given one of the two books. Consumers who read the educational book experienced equal levels of guilt, vitality, and creativity regardless of whether they had chosen or were given the book. However, consumers who were given the entertaining book experienced significantly less guilt and much higher vitality and creativity than those who had freely chosen the entertaining book.

The authors concluded that in an effort to avoid punishment, children would say someone else “made them” break the rules. As it turns out, this evasion of responsibility also works surprisingly well for adults and may carry substantial benefits for consumers. 

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research. –Agencies Back















Four bodies dug out in Saddal hamlet in JK, eight yet to be recovered

JAMMU: Four more bodies have been recovered in Udhampur district's landslide-buried Saddal village, taking the total number of bodies recovered so far to 30.

The rescue teams, armed with heavy machines yesterday, recovered four more bodies buried under debris of houses which collapsed in the landslide triggered by heavy rains in Saddal village last month, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Udhampur-Reasi range, Gareeb Dass said on Wednesday .

With these recoveries, the total number of bodies pulled out has gone up to 30, including recovery of some parts of two bodies.

"Eight bodies are yet to be recovered and work is on to dug them out", DIG said.
Armed with heavy machines, including bulldozers and cutters, rescuers have dug up these bodies from 10 to 15 feet deep debris and boulders triggered by massive landslide.

38 people were buried in the landslide triggered by heavy rains which buried Saddal village in Panchari block of the district on September 7. Of these, 12 bodies were recovered on first two days after the landslide. –Agencies Back

























Shiv Sena takes out advertisements on poll day 

MUMBAI: Advertisements by the Shiv Sena on Wednesday showed itself as the prime contender for power in Maharashtra as the assembly elections got under way.

In a full front page advertisement in the party organs, Saamana and Dopaharka Saamana Wednesday, the Shiv Sena proclaimed: "Dhanushyabaan Ki Tankaar Hai, Aani Ab Apni Sarkar Hai!" Dhanushyabaan, or bow and arrow is the Shiv Sena's traiditional election symbol.

Similarly, in other big advertisements released in the Mumbai media, it virtually termed the rival parties as demon king Ravana.

"Ravana was not killed by hand (Congress symbol), a clock (NCP) or a flower (implying BJP's Lotus). He was taken down by a bow and arrow," the advertisements said.

"Take down the evils of corruption, load-shedding, policy paralysis, bad governance by voting for the bow and arrow," it exhorted voters. –IANS Back















Heavy rains kill 18 in Uttar Pradesh

LUCKNOW: Heavy rains induced by the cyclonic storm Hudhud has left behind a trail of destruction, despair and death in many parts of Uttar Pradesh.

A state government spokesman Wednesday confirmed the death of 18 people, adding many houses had caved in eastern part of the state and standing crops had been destroyed. Though the incessant rains since Tuesday took a break Wednesday, many areas in the state capital remained inundated and water-logged.

Met officials said, the heavy rains since Tuesday here had broken all records and Tuesday witnessed the maximum rain in a day in October ever. While the past record of a single day rainfall in Lucknow was 46.1 mm (Oct 7, 2009), Tuesday's rains triggered by the Hudhud cyclone were 61.1 mm. 

Many low lying localities here alongwith the Charbagh railway station, Thakurganj, Indiranagar, Gomtinagar, Chowk, Sitapur Road, Aliganj were water-logged.

Many trees were uprooted and power lines snapped as the rains, accompanied by gutsy wind slammed the state capital Tuesday. The maximum rains recorded since Tuesday were in Gorakhpur where rains clocked a new high of 142.1 mm in a single day. Wind speed here was 83 kmph. 

Allahabad and Varanasi too witnessed heavy rainfall and the battering is likely to continue for the next 24-hours as well, the weatherman predicted.

JP Gupta, the regional Met director told IANS that within the next two days the effect of Hudhud would slow down and the rains would stop. 

Cautioning however that the spell of rains might still continue, though in low intensity, met officials said the temperatures would remain low in next few days. Tuesday saw a fall of 10 degrees in day temperature with the maximum temperature being recorded at 22.5 degrees. This put Lucknow a wee bit colder than even the hill stations like Shimla. -IANS Back















Why Himalayan glaciers are expanding instead of shrinking 

WASHINGTON: Scientists' observations in the Karakoram region have revealed that the glaciers there were stable, and snowfall is increasing instead of decreasing.

The researchers found that while precipitation is increasing across the Himalayas, most of this moisture drops in the summer — except in Karakoram, where snow dominates the scene, Discovery News reported.

Study researcher Sarah Kapnick, a postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric and ocean sciences at Princeton University, gave reasoning for why you can have increased snowfall in a region and have increased glaciers or stable glaciers in a warming world.

She and her colleagues collected data on recent precipitation and temperatures from the Pakistan Meteorological Department and other sources, including satellite data. 

They combined this information with climate models to track changes in three regions of the Himalayas between 1861 and 2100: the Karakoram; the central Himalayas; and the southeast Himalayas which included part of the Tibetan Plateau.

The researchers found that a new model that simulates climate down to an area of 965 square miles (2,500 square kilometers) was able to match the observed temperature and precipitation cycles seen in the Karakoram. A model used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to simulate what will happen if the world continues to emit greenhouse gases at current rates was unable to capture these seasonal cycles, Kapnick said.

The reason, she said, was that the IPCC and other climate models are lower-resolution, capturing climate change over areas no finer than about 17,027 square miles (44,100 square km). The coarser resolution "smoothes out" variations in elevation that works fine for the central Himalayas and southeast Himalayas. However, the Karakoram region has more elevation variability than the other two regions. 

Ultimately, the result is that the IPCC and other models overestimate the amount of warmth in this region, Kapnick said. Agencies Back


















Mark Zuckerberg donates $25 mn to fight Ebola 

WASHINGTON: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on that social networking site that he and his wife, Priscilla, have donated $25 million to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention for the fight against the Ebola virus disease.

"We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn't spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio," he said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

"We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome," Zuckerberg added.

The founder of the popular social networking site believes that making a donation of this kind is the "quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome".

Since the Ebola epidemic broke out last March, more than 4,000 people, most of them in West Africa, have died from the disease, according to the World Health Organisation.

Zuckerberg said that Ebola so far has infected more than 8,400 people and is spreading rapidly with projections being that one million people or more will become infected in the coming months if they do not receive treatment.

He emphasised that donations like his directly help the "heroes" who are on the "front line" working to build health centres, train local personnel and identify Ebola cases.
He said he and his wife hoped that their donation would save lives and keep the epidemic under control.

















IndiGo to get 250 Airbus A-320 for USD 25.5 billion

New Delhi: India's no-frill airline IndiGo today placed orders for 250 latest Airbus A-320 neo planes worth USD 25.5 billion or Rs 1.55 lakh crore, making it the European manufacturer's biggest ever contract in terms of aircraft numbers.

A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect was signed at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, by IndiGo's co-founders Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia, who is also the Managing Director of the airline's parent firm InterGlobe Enterprises.

The agreement becomes Airbus' single largest order in terms of the number of aircraft, IndiGo and Airbus said in a statement.

While Airbus did not provide the value of the IndiGo order, its website shows the list price per A-320 neo aircraft as USD 102.8 million.

IndiGo's move came on the back of its previous orders of 100 A-320s in 2005 and another 180 A-320 neos in 2011 worth about USD 11 billion, which was the largest-ever at that time.

The deliveries of the A-320 neos, ordered in 2011, would start from next year. IndiGo is one of the launch customers for the neo planes which Airbus claims are fuel-savers.

"This new order reaffirms IndiGo's commitment to the long-term development of affordable air transportation in India and overseas," IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh said. -- PTI



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