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Cyclone Remal: Indian Navy's diving and flood relief teams on standby in Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Chilka

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The Indian Navy on Sunday said that it has initiated preparatory actions, following existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), to mount a credible Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) response in the aftermath of Cyclone Remal.

Cyclone Remal, anticipated to cross the coast on Sunday midnight, is forecasted to make landfall between Sagar Island, West Bengal and Khepupara, Bangladesh and intensify into a severe cyclone.

The situation is being closely monitored at Naval Headquarters, with comprehensive preparatory actions being undertaken by the Eastern Naval Command Headquarters.

Two ships equipped with HADR and medical supplies are ready for immediate deployment to ensure the safety and welfare of the affected populace. Additionally, Indian Naval aviation assets, including Sea King and Chetak helicopters as well as Dornier aircraft, are also on standby for rapid response.

Specialised diving teams with equipment have been stationed in Kolkata to provide prompt assistance. Further diving teams with necessary equipment are on standby in Visakhapatnam, prepared for quick deployment if needed.

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Two Flood Relief Teams (FRTs), along with HADR and medical supplies, are being positioned in Kolkata. In addition, two FRTs each from Visakhapatnam and Chilka are ready and on standby for deployment at short notice.

“The Indian Navy remains vigilant and is closely monitoring the evolving situation to provide immediate and effective assistance in the wake of Cyclone Remal,” the Ministry of Defence said on Sunday.

–IANS

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Manipur Governor apprises President about prevailing situation in the state

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New Delhi/Imphal, June 16 (IANS) Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey on Sunday called on President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan and discussed the situation in the state, officials said adding that the President assured to extend all possible support.

Manipur Raj Bhawan sources said that the Governor apprised the President about the hardships faced by the displaced persons sheltered in various relief camps in the state, and requested immediate action for the resettlement of the displaced people in their respective villages.

“The Governor also requested the President to provide financial assistance for the displaced people in the state,” a source said.

She also invited the President to attend the Convocation Ceremony of the Manipur University.

Giving a patient hearing to the Governor, the President assured to extend all possible assistance to the state, the sources added.

The Governor also met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at Rashtrapati Bhavan and requested financial assistance to Manipur.

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In view of the ethnic strife in Manipur since May 3 last year, over 50,000 men, women and children belonging to different communities have been displaced and are now sheltered in 350 camps set up in schools, government buildings, and auditoriums in Manipur.

–IANS

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Has Agnipath Scheme been relaunched? Govt says fake WhatsApp message doing rounds

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) The government on Sunday dismissed reports that the Agnipath Scheme has been relaunched, terming the social media message fake and clarifying no such decision to this effect was taken.

“A #fake WhatsApp message claims that the Agnipath Scheme has been re-launched as ‘Sainik Saman Scheme’ after review with several changes including duty period being extended to 7 years, 60 per cent permanent staff & increased income… GOI has taken no such decision,” the Press Information Bureau clarified on its X handle.

The fake message doing rounds contained a number of spelling mistakes, making it appear questionable.

The opposition, which has been critical of the Agnipath Scheme from the outset, aggressively questioned its credibility during the Lok Sabha polls campaign with the Congress ‘promising’ to do away with the scheme if voted to power at the Centre.

The Agnipath Scheme is a “tour of duty style” scheme that was implemented in September 2022 for the recruitment of soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers into the three services of the armed forces only for a four-year period.

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Personnel recruited under this system would be called Agniveers.

–IANS

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'No consultation': Kharge slams relocation of Mahatma, Dr Ambedkar statues in Parliament complex

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday slammed the government for “arbitrarily” removing the statues of many great leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, from their prominent places in the Parliament House Complex and their relocation “to a separate corner”.

He termed the action, taken without any consultation, as violative of the “basic spirit of our democracy”.

“The statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar were situated in prominent locations and of other major leaders at appropriate locations after due deliberation and consideration. Each statue and its location across the Parliament House complex holds immense value and significance.”

“The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a meditative posture located right in front of old Parliament Building held immense significance for India’s democratic polity. Members paid their respects at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi imbibing within themselves the spirit of Mahatma. It is at this place that Members often conducted peaceful and democratic protests, drawing strength from their presence,” he said in a statement.

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“The statue of D. Babasaheb Ambedkar too had been placed at a vantage point conveying the powerful message that Babasaheb is extolling the generations of parliamentarians to steadfastly hold on to values and principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. Incidentally, during my student days in mid-60s, I was in the forefront demanding for installation of statue of Babasaheb in the precincts of the Parliament House,” Kharge noted.

“Such concerted efforts eventually resulted in installing of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue at the place where it was hitherto before placed. The prior placement of Babasaheb statue also facilitated seamless movement of people paying their tributes to him on his birth and death anniversaries,” the Congress chief said, adding that “all this has now been brought to a naught in arbitrary and unilateral manner”.

He noted that there is a dedicated Committee called the “Committee on the Installation of Portraits and Statues of National Leaders and Parliamentarians in the Parliament House Complex,” which includes MPs from both Houses, but this had not been reconstituted since 2019.

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“Such decisions made without any proper discussion and deliberation with relevant stakeholders are against the rules and traditions of our Parliament,” he said.

The Congress President’s reaction came as Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, inaugurated the newly constructed Prerna Sthal at the Parliament House Complex, where all the statues of eminent Indian leaders and freedom fighters, previously dispersed across different places in the Parliament House complex, have been brought at one place.

–IANS

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EVM row: Silicon Valley's bigtech billionaires should not meddle in India's democracy, says Milind Deora

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Amid raging controversy over Tesla and X boss Elon Musk’s “EVM can be hacked” claim, Shiv Sena MP and former Union Minister Milind Deora on Sunday said Silicon Valley’s bigtech billionaires should not meddle in India’s democracy.

In a post on X, Milind Deora said: “I’m a fan of @elonmusk as an innovator, but not of Silicon Valley’s #BigTech billionaires meddling in India’s democracy. Still, I asked #ChatGPT — co-founded & funded by Musk — about EVMs.

He also added ChatGPT’s take in this regard.

The ‘conversation’ reads like: “Do India’s EVMs use a SIM card?” Replying to Deora’s question, the chatbot answered: “No, India’s Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) do not use SIM cards. They are standalone devices that are not connected to any network, making them immune to remote hacking. The design and function ability of EVMs ensure that they operate independently without the need for any external connectivity, which enhances their security and reliability in conducting elections.”

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Deora’s observations on the matter came after opposition parties including Congress, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena UBT raised concerns over the reliability of EVMs.

–IANS

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J&K: Trial run begins on world's highest railway bridge in Chenab, rail services to begin soon (Ld)

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) In a major advancement towards its ‘dream project’, the Indian Railways on Sunday conducted the first train trial run from Sangaldan to Reasi, including crossing the Chenab bridge in Jammu and Kashmir — the highest railway bridge in the world.

The railway officials also conducted an inspection of the newly constructed line and also took stock of the railway stations between Sangaldan in Ramban district to Reasi in Jammu and Kashmir.

Situated at about 359 metres above sea level, the Chenab bridge not only makes for a breathtaking view but also shows how the engineering marvel continues to surprise the world.

Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw took to his social media handle and shared a video of the first trial run passing through the Chenab bridge.

“All construction works for the USBRL are nearly finished, with only Tunnel No 1 remaining partially incomplete,” he wrote.

The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) will see trains plying on the 272 km stretch while also passing the picturesque Chenab bridge.

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The USBRL, expected to be completed by the end of the year, will provide all-weather connectivity to the valley.

The engineering marvel will not only cut down the geographical obstacles to the region but will also bring it at par with modern and multi-pronged infrastructure.

The 1.3 km Chenab rail bridge, located 35 meters higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, forms a crucial part of the project.

The Jammu and Kashmir Administration has already revealed its plans to develop the bridge as a ‘tourist spot’.

The ambitious project was expected to be completed by February this year, but it missed the deadline.

The Railways under Ashwini Vaishnaw’s stewardship has kept this project on a high focus and as reports suggest, it has also been listed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s first 100 days of work.

–IANS

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