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Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh lead coal capacity expansion: Global Energy Monitor

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New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) With Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh leading coal capacity expansion, after what appeared to be a promising year for the beginning of a phase-down in 2022, new coal capacity additions and a growing pipeline in 2023 indicate that coal may be on the rise again in India, said Global Energy Monitor’s annual survey of the global coal fleet on Thursday.

In 2023, India brought online 5.5 GW of new coal-fired power plant capacity, more than double the 2.7 GW of new capacity added in 2022.

Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh continue to lead the coal capacity expansion, with 7.9 and 5.6 GW of proposed capacity moving forward in 2023 in each state, respectively.

While Chhattisgarh holds the country’s highest coal plant capacity of 26.7 GW, Uttar Pradesh could soon take the lead if all currently proposed and under-construction capacity were to be built.

Several other long-stalled or stranded projects were also flagged by the Central Electricity Authority in 2023 as “likely to be revived” between 2023 and 2031. And with no other operational units over 30 megawatt (MW) having retired in 2023, this marked an eight-year low for annual retirements of coal-fired generating capacity in India.

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Data in the Global Coal Plant Tracker show that 69.5 GW of coal power capacity came online across the world while 21.1 GW was retired in 2023, resulting in a net annual increase of 48.4 GW for the year and a global total capacity of 2,130 GW. This is the highest net increase in operating coal capacity since 2016.

A surge in new coal plants coming online in China drove this increase — 47.4 GW, or roughly two-thirds of global additions — coupled with new capacity in Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea, Greece and Zimbabwe.

In total, 22.1 GW capacity came online, and 17.4 GW was retired outside of China, resulting in a 4.7 GW net increase to the operating coal fleet.

Lower retirements in the US and Europe contributed to the coal capacity upswing.

At 9.7 GW, the US contributed nearly half of the capacity retired in 2023, a drop from the 14.7 GW retired last year and its 21.7 GW record high in 2015.

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European Union member states and Britain represented roughly a quarter of retirements, with Britain (3.1 GW), Italy (0.6 GW), and Poland (0.5 GW) leading the region’s retirements for the year.

Flora Champenois, Coal Program Director for Global Energy Monitor, said, “Coal’s ascendancy in India goes against market signals. New coal is expensive compared to solar and wind and comparable to solar and wind with storage. Project selection should be easy maths for the Indian banks and companies that are still emerging from massive stranded assets and bad loans stemming from expensive coal power plant projects.”

Sunil Dahiya, South Asia Analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said, “If India achieves its renewable energy targets by 2030 and simultaneously activates its advanced-stage construction capacity, it will possess ample power generation capability to satisfy escalating demand.”

“Any further investment in coal capacity could potentially initiate a subsequent wave of stranded asset formation within the power sector. Moreover, such investments would divert resources and funding from the trajectory of renewable energy expansion, effectively entrenching India’s dependency on coal. This dependency not only contributes significantly to direct economic loss and climate change but also exacerbates local air pollution, resulting in thousands of premature deaths.”

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–IANS

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Suspected poachers gunned down in Assam wildlife sanctuary, probe ordered

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Guwahati, June 23 (IANS) A day before two suspected poachers were gunned down by Assam Forest guards in Assam’s Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, a top forest officer has told that the Forest department has lodged an FIR with the police and ordered a magisterial probe.

Assam’s Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) Director Sonali Ghosh said on Saturday that the forest patrolling parties while on Rhino protection duty near Saraihagi anti-poaching camps confronted a group of 20 armed poachers near Roumari Beel, under Gorajan Range in Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary.

She added that when challenged, the intruders attacked the forest guards with sharp weapons, and the forest team opened fire in self-defence.

Later, the Nagaon Divisional Forest Officer and Superintendent of Police reached the spot and the two fatally wounded intruders were taken to the Nagaon Civil Hospital where they were pronounced dead.

The duo was identified as Jalil Uddin and Sameer Uddin, the residents of Dhingbari Chapari village in the Nagaon district.

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Police said the accused were in their late 20s.

Roumari beel and adjoining grassland areas are some of the most prominent rhino habitats under Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, with a 70.13 sq. km area in the Nagaon district that is a part of the greater Kaziranga landscape.

The KNPTR Director added that the sanctuary had a tragic past of rhino poaching, illegal fishing, hunting, and encroachment in the 1980s.

In the mid-1980s, around 45 rhinos were poached to local extinction. Miscreants are known to have attacked forest staff on multiple occasions.

For the last two years, the Forest Department has strengthened the boundaries with additional forest frontline and maintained a strong vigil, the official said, adding that it is due to such interventions that two to three rhinos that had naturally migrated from Orang Tiger Reserve have moved in the Roumari landscape since October last year.

At present, the police and Forest Department staff are camping on the site to maintain law and order.

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The KNPTR is India’s seventh UNESCO world heritage site famous for its one-horned rhinos, and home to more than 2,613 one-horned Indian rhinos and other animals, including tigers and elephants.

–IANS

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FIR lodged against Prajwal Revanna's brother over alleged sexual assault case

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Bengaluru, June 22 (IANS) The Karnataka Police have lodged an FIR against JD (S) MLC and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s grandson Suraj Revanna on Saturday night and summoned him to the police station for questioning in connection with the alleged sexual assault case lodged by a JD (S) worker, the police said.

Suraj Revanna has arrived at the Holenarasipura Rural police station and is being questioned by the police.

Police sources are not ruling out the possibility of arresting Suraj Revanna during the investigation.

The police have registered an FIR against Suraj Revanna under IPC Sections 377 (unnatural sex), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

The victim in the case had sent his complaint to the office of both the DGP and the Hassan Superintendent of Police.

The police after getting the copy of the complaint in this regard had transferred the case to the jurisdictional Holenarasipur Rural police station.

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The police had contacted the victim in connection with the alleged sexual assault case and recorded his statement.

The police had also taken the victim for a medical test.

Sources said that the victim is being taken to Bengaluru for medical tests upon his insistence.

Reacting to the development, Suraj Revanna said that it is a political conspiracy against him, and he has no idea how long it will go.

“Baseless allegations are made against me and I outrightly reject these allegations. Things will be dealt with legally and an FIR is also lodged against the victim.”

“Let there be an investigation and the truth should come out. I have faith in the law of the land. This is a conspiracy, and I won’t comment on it today. I am not going to point my fingers at anyone. The investigation is under progress and the truth will come out. The people of the state will know the truth,” he added.

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The victim alleged that he had met Suraj Revanna at a function organised by him.

Impressed by his organisational skills, Suraj Revanna allegedly shared his mobile number and started sending endearing messages with love symbols.

He was asked to meet him at his farmhouse where he was allegedly sexually abused.

Suraj Revanna’s elder brother and former JD (S) MP Prajwal Revanna has been arrested in connection with the sex video scandal.

His father JD (S) MLA H.D. Revanna was jailed and out on conditional bail in a kidnapping case linked to the sex video scandal.

His mother Bhavani Revanna is facing an investigation in a kidnapping case and was recently granted conditional bail from the court.

The Karnataka Police have also filed an FIR against two persons on charges of extortion following allegations of sexual abuse against Suraj Revanna.

Suraj Revanna’s aide Shivakumar filed a case against the victim and his kin at the Holenarasipura police station.

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Shivakumar said in the complaint that false allegations were made against Suraj Revanna to extort money.

The complaint claimed that the accused had threatened Suraj Revanna with lodging a case of sexual abuse if he failed to pay Rs 5 crore.

The police have registered a case under IPC Sections 384 (extortion) and 584 (criminal intimidation).

–IANS

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Goa BJP MLA claims traffic cops prioritising challans over road safety

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Panaji, June 23 (IANS) BJP’s Calangute MLA Michael Lobo on Saturday alleged that the Traffic Police were prioritising targets to issue challan against traffic violations instead of taking measures to stop accidents.

Former Minister Lobo expressed concerns over the rising number of accidents in the coastal state and advocated the need to take measures at accident-prone zones.

“Accidents are taking place due to rash and negligent driving and also because of lack of traffic signage boards, unpainted speed breakers and uneven roads. Officers and local bodies should see that all these things are done properly,” Lobo said, adding people’s lives are more important.

“Strict measures should be taken. They (Traffic Police) are taking these measures to issue challans to traffic violators. They are busy giving challans for violation of seat belts, no entry, etc. They stand in such places, where ‘No Entry’ boards are not properly seen and then take action against the public,” he said.

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“They are trying to show that the order given by authorities has to be obeyed and hence they fulfill a target of 50 challans per day. All traffic cells have been given a target and to accomplish it traffic cells are issuing challans. This can’t be accepted,” Lobo added.

“I will speak about this issue with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and will raise the issue in the Assembly session. Such targets will not reduce the number of accidents,” he said.

Earlier, MLA Lobo had said that Traffic Police harass tourists by imposing fines, which should be stopped or the wrong message will be sent by the state.

Lobo is the third BJP MLA, who has openly alleged that Traffic Police harass tourists visiting the coastal state.

Earlier, Goa Revenue Minister Atanasio Monserrate and Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte had also alleged that tourists were being harassed by the Traffic Police.

–IANS

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Centre orders CBI probe into allegations of irregularities in NEET-UG

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Centre on Saturday ordered a CBI investigation into the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG 2024.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) conducted the NEET-UG on May 5 in the offline OMR mode.

“Certain cases of alleged irregularities/cheating/impersonation/malpractices have been reported. For transparency on the conduct of the examination process, the Ministry of Education, Government of India after a review has decided to entrust the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for comprehensive investigation,” the Centre said in a statement.

“Central government has also enacted the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, to prevent unfair means in the public examinations and to provide for matter connected therewith or incidental thereto,” it added.

The NEET-UG, an abbreviation for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate), is conducted by the NTA for admission in undergraduate medical programs.

–IANS

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Bihar EOU submits NEET paper leak probe report to Education Ministry

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Patna June 22 (IANS) The Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of Bihar Police probing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) paper leak case submitted its report to the Union Education Ministry on Saturday.

Nearly 24 lakh students appeared for NEET-UG 2024 for undergraduate medical programmes on May 5. The results were released ahead of schedule on June 4. However, controversy arose with claims of question paper leak and the awarding of grace marks to more than 1,500 students, leading to widespread protests and legal actions, particularly in Bihar.

Nayyar Hasnain Khan, the Additional Director General of EOU, met the officials of the Education Ministry in Delhi on Saturday and submitted the report, which includes the statements of 13 arrested persons, admit cards, partially burnt question papers, booklets, and booking records of the NHAI guest house where the aspirants memorised the answers after the papers were allegedly leaked a day before the test.

As per sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is likely to do a hold review meeting with the officials, including Khan, on Monday.

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–IANS

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