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BJP's ally MGP blames Congress for closure of mining activities in Goa

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Panaji, April 30 (IANS) BJP’s ally MGP on Tuesday held Congress responsible for the closure of mining activities and the status of Mhadei and “double tracking”.

MGP’s senior leader and Power Minister Sudin Dhavalikar, while addressing a press conference after the meeting of NDA, said that the people of Goa need to examine who has made mistakes in the past.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and BJP State President Sadanand Tanavade were also present.

Dhavalikar was dropped from cabinet in the last term (2017 to 2022) after his two MLAs split from the regional party and joined the BJP then. To retaliate, senior politician Sudin Dhavalikar had supported Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, which helped grand old party’s candidate Francisco Sardinha to win from the South Goa seat.

However, after the 2022 assembly election, Dhavalikar was inducted in Sawant’s cabinet and now supports both Lok Sabha candidates of the BJP.

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“Whatever Congress is saying (allegations) has no meaning. We are winning both seats. Shripad Naik will win with a margin of one lakh votes, while South Goa candidate Pallavi Dempo will win more than 40,000 votes,” Dhavalikar said.

“People of Goa should check the history to know who was responsible for the Mhadei diversion and closure of mining. You need to know who had done irregularities in mining and people involved in it. There was a cap of 38 million tonnes on iron ore, who increased it to 62 million tonnes?,” Dhavalikar questioned, blaming Congress.

He said that the Detailed Project Report of double tracking was done before 2012. “Congress has put these points in their local manifesto. Actually, they are responsible for the closure of mining,” Dhavalikar said.

–IANS

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Maharashtra Common Entrance Test pattern transparent: Commissioner

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Mumbai, June 22 (IANS) Days after Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray demanded transparency in the recently conducted Maharashtra Health and Technical Common Entrance Test (MHT-CET) for engineering, Dilip Sardesai, the Commissioner of the State Common Entrance Test Chamber (CET Chamber), on Saturday claimed that the exam pattern is completely transparent and without human intervention.

“Maharashtra is the first state in the country to make the admission process for professional courses computerized and centralized. This method has been adopted later by the Central government. This method is completely transparent and without human intervention,” said Sardesai. He appealed to the students and their parents not to believe in rumours.

Sardesai said that the МНT-СЕТ 2024 exam was conducted by the State Common Entrance Test cell for admission to Engineering, Pharmacology and Agriculture Education courses at 169 examination centres. A total of 3, 30, 988 male students, 3,94,033 female students and 31 transgender candidates had registered online for this test. Of these registered candidates, 6,75,377 students appeared for the test.

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“There is no system of giving negative marks to the candidates if the answer to any question is wrong. The said result is declared by percentile method. No grace marks have been given to any candidate in the said examination result. If there are any objections or complaints to the parents, examinees regarding the question or answer under this examination, the objection registration facility was made available through an online system through the CET cell,” said Sardesai.

He stated that the objections registered by the candidates have been verified by subject wise experts and the answer sheets have been modified accordingly. The reports have been published on the website of the CET cell for the information of the candidates.

“The result process has been implemented by incorporating the said revised answer sheet. In this, the marks obtained by the candidate are declared as per the formula of result process and session wise result is declared in percentile form,” he added.

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“This examination system is being implemented from the year 2018-19. It is proposed to provide the opportunity to the students to see their answer sheets to be available on the website of CET Cell on June 27 and 28 after completion of technical matters,” he added.

–IANS

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YSRCP's central office demolition: Facts and Fiction

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The TDP government led by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh, soon after assuming power, has started cracking the whip on “illegal” occupations of government land and constructions carried out in the past regime.

Ironically, the YSR Congress Party’s under-construction central office in Tadepalli of Guntur district was among the first ones to be demolished by the municipal authorities in the early hours of Saturday, over alleged illegal construction.

The action prompted angry reactions from former Chief Minister and YSRCP President Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who accused the Naidu dispensation of a “political vendetta” and called the bulldozer-led demolition act “dictatorial”.

It has come to light, amid a series of allegations, that the land was allocated to the party by grossly ignoring the objections raised by then Engineer-in-Chief (Irrigation), C. Narayana Reddy, the documentary evidence of which is available in the public domain.

On January 31, 2023, the Superintending Engineer (Irrigation Circle), Vijayawada had written to the then Engineer-in-Chief (Irrigation) requesting to furnish a detailed report along with consent for leasing the land in Tadepalli Mandal for construction of the party office in Guntur district, based on the representation of Dokka Manikya Vara Prasada Rao, Member of Legislative Council and the then District President, YSRCP, Guntur District.

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The Engineer-in-Chief, in a reply dated February 2, 2023, refused to give consent for the construction of YSRCP’s office on the following grounds:

1. Water bodies/ tanks/ FTL areas need to be protected as per Supreme Court orders;

2. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has already seized off such issues relating to irrigation lands in adjacent mandal;

3. The proposed land is adjacent to the Krishna Western Main Canal (KW Canal) and within 100m from the bund of the canal;

4. The Water Resources Department has plans to establish the Andhra Pradesh Water Land Management Training Institute (WALAMTI) along with Andhra Pradesh Engineering Research Laboratories (APERL) in the said land.

In concluding remarks, the Engineer-in-Chief said: “In view of the above circumstances, it may not be possible to allot the above Boat Yard land for construction of the YSR Congress Party office in Guntur District.”

The YSRCP overrode objections and went on to build the party office, grossly ignoring all norms and established procedures.

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The documents are in the public domain and this raises serious question marks over flagrant violations under Jagan regime.

Despite the Engineer-in-Chief’s objections, Sai Prasad, the then Special Chief Secretary & Chief Commission of Land Administration, issued an order on February 16, 2023, allocating the government land for the construction of the YSRCP office.

Notably, during the previous TDP-led government, a different land in the heart of the Guntur City in Koritepadu was allocated for the construction of the YSRCP’s Guntur district party office on July 21, 2016.

It is clear that the YSRCP-led government circumvented the objections and passed orders to allocate the land for the YSRCP Guntur District Party office, despite the objections raised by C. Narayana Reddy, Engineer-in-Chief, Water Resources Department (Irrigation).

Expectedly, the Guntur District wing of the YSRCP approached the High Court, which disposed of the petition asking the party to follow the due procedure.

–IANS

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Palakkad assembly bypoll: BJP scouts for candidates after Metro Man Sreedharan backs out

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Thiruvananthapuram, June 22 (IANS) With Metro Man E. Sreedharan, who was a surprise choice of the BJP for the Assembly elections in Palakkad in 2021, now backing out from another contest, the BJP has started searching for a candidate for the soon-to-be-announced by-election.

The by-election in Palakkad was necessitated after sitting Congress legislator Shafi Parambil quit his seat after he won the Vadakara Lok Sabha seat.

In his debut election in 2021, the now 92-year-old Sreedharan managed to bring down the victory margin of Parambil from 17,483 in 2016 to just 3,859 votes.

The Kerala unit of the BJP is in an upbeat mood after the victory of Suresh Gopi from the Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency with an over 72,000 votes margin. The party that finished in second place in the Palakkad assembly constituency is confident that it will be able to open its account in the 140-member Kerala assembly too.

The names that the BJP is contemplating include that of Sobha Surendran who finished second in 2016 in Palakkad. After that, her status as a firebrand party leader increased hugely when she, though finishing third in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Attingal and in the 2024 polls from Alappuzha, garnered sizeable votes.

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Another name that has started to get traction is Padmaja Venugopal, daughter of Congress veteran and four-time Chief Minister K. Karunakaran.

She joined the BJP from the Congress in March this year and had campaigned for Gopi in Trissur, where her brother and sitting MP, K.Muraleedharan finished third.

The Congress and the CPI-M have also started their search for candidates as it is going to be a fight to the finish for all three political fronts.

–IANS

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Silchar to Shanghai: Assam grocer's son to represent India at global bartending slugfest

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) When Shantanu Chanda cleared his B.Com. in Silchar, Assam, his father, who ran a neighbourhood grocery store, said that it was time for him to tie the marital knot with a good-looking Assamese girl. Shantanu, though, had other plans.

He took a train to Kolkata and from there he set off to Goa for a career of his choice. After working in a shack for some time, he landed a job at the well-known Goan nightclub Titos, where he got paid Rs 900 for rinsing glasses and removing beer bottle caps. That was in 2011.

Cut to 2023, and you find him, now a world-travelled bartender presiding over PVR Limited’s plush Home lounge and bar in New Delhi, preparing to represent India for the Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year faceoff in Shanghai, China, in September. He got his ticket to Shanghai after a two-stage contest — Best of 100 followed by Best of 16 — that engaged the best bartenders from all over the country.

Shantanu’s dream for the competition — he’ll know only on July 4 about the parameters for this year’s slugfest — is to shake up a disco-inspired cocktail to the beat of Parvati Khan’s ‘Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja’ from the MIthun Chakraborty-starrer ‘Disco Dancer’.

He knows the burden of expectations lies heavy on his shoulders — because last year, when the competition was staged in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Delhi-born, Pune-based Aashie Bhatnagar was one of the 12 finalists and returned home with the People’s Choice Award.

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Unfazed, Shantanu declares with confidence, “I will be this year’s winner.” It is not an idle boast, but what he calls ‘positive manifestation’.

Whenever he has a target to fulfil, he makes it a point to wake up seeing a notice pinned on the board next to his bed. It spells out the current target he has set for himself. His wake-up note for himself now says: “I will be the Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year”. These notes, according to Shantanu, help him get focused on the goal and develop the positivity within himself to achieve them.

So, how did Shantanu move from being rinser of glasses to a champion bartender? It started in Goa when a bartender friend of his got selected for a cruise liner and landed a Rs 80,000 per month job.

The friend’s lucrative salary package gave Shantanu a purpose in life — he had to become a bartender, but he needed a mentor, so he tried to get into the good books of a Ukrainian expat, Artem Klymenko, a champion flair bartender who was a trainer at Titos.

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Artem first tested Shantanu’s resolve — he did not even acknowledge his presence for a week — and then made it clear to his future student that he could never become a good bartender if he only wanted to make money. He had to love bartending and be passionate about it.

Shantanu agreed, became Artem’s disciple, attended a three-month course, read up all the books he could lay his hands upon, and six months later, he made his life’s first cocktail, a Cosmopolitan.

His next break came because of two rising stars of his profession — Pankaj Kamble (who’s now no more) and Sachin Gowda, who ran Pune’s Flairology Bar School and Events. They recommended Shantanu for a job at the JW Marriott, Pune.

Shantanu’s friends had to raise money for him to buy decent clothes and a pair of shoes for Pune. Looking back at those days, he said, “I used to earn Rs 8,000 and send Rs 7,000 for my parents, which left me with very little to spend on myself.”

When he was at the JW Marriott, Pune, Shantanu attended his first World Class, becoming a part of a global community of bartenders created by Diageo to enable them to connect, get acquainted with trends, and pick up new skills.

That proved to be his gateway to the famous Buddha Bar in Dubai, where he spent six years and won international competitions — up against French and Italian bartenders. Then the call came from Reynaud Palliere, CEO of PVR’s Luxury Collection and Innovations, who head hunted him for Home, which was then a members-only club at a Delhi mall.

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Home is no longer a private club. Shantanu has helmed its transition to a popular, albeit exclusive, lounge bar with a food menu designed by Japanese Chef Yutaka Saito and MasterChef Australia finalist Sarah Todd.

Today, Shantanu’s father is proud of what his son has been able to achieve by not listening to his advice. The dutiful son, in fact, looks after their financial needs, so his parents are back to doing what they love — they have returned to their paddy fields and his father, who has shut down his grocery store, spends his days fishing when he’s not in the fields.

Shantanu takes immense pride in pointing out that John Walker, the man behind the iconic whisky brand, was a grocer like his father.

Well, he may not yet be India’s answer to John Walker, but Shantanu has up his sleeve a variant of the Johnnie Walker Highball, one of the three cocktails that booked his ticket to Shanghai.

–IANS

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Metro project in Madhya Pradesh will complete by 2027: CM Mohan Yadav

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Bhopal, June 22 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav on Saturday reviewed the progress of metro rail work in two big cities – Bhopal and Indore and said that the project will be completed in the state by 2027.

During the meeting with the State’s Urban Development Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, the CM gave necessary directions to the officials associated with the project.

Later, he said work on the second phase metro from Karond to Subhash Nagar in Bhopal will start soon.

The new phase of metro development, which will have eight stations, is expected to cost around Rs 1,500 crore.

The foundation stone of this nine km long metro route was laid down by CM Yadav in March this year.

Bhopal metro is under construction.

The Chief Minister also informed that 40 per cent work of Indore rail metro project has been completed.

“Entire rail metro project will be completed by 2027, and by 2031, more than 4 lakh people will travel in the metro every day,” the Chief Minister said.

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During the Assembly elections in November 2023, it was said that the metro project in Bhopal would be completed by mid-2024 and would be opened to commuters, however, the project got delayed.

–IANS

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