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India's long-standing strategic partners expected to attend PM Modi's swearing-in ceremony

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New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) The swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be attended by several top leaders from India’s long-standing strategic partners in the region, keeping in line with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) vision.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have reportedly already confirmed their attendance at the event, which is likely to take place on June 9.

Wickremesinghe spoke with PM Modi over the phone on Wednesday and congratulated him on his historic electoral victory.

The Lankan President’s media division later confirmed that Wickremesinghe had accepted PM Modi’s invitation to visit Delhi, later this week.

“During the conversation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited President Wickremesinghe to his swearing-in ceremony, which President Ranil Wickremesinghe accepted,” the President’s office said in a post on X.

It is to be recalled that in 2019, then President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena graced the swearing-in-ceremony of PM Modi following the resounding victory of the NDA in general elections.

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, among the first foreign leaders to congratulate PM Modi on Wednesday, is also likely to travel to the Indian capital for the event.

In 2019, then Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid attended the swearing-in ceremony of PM Modi as Prime Minister Hasina was unable to travel in person because of a prior commitment.

It is believed that invites are also being sent to leaders of several other neighbouring countries as well, including Nepal, Bhutan, Mauritius and Maldives.

Nepal PM K.P. Sharma Oli, Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Thai Agriculture Minister (special envoy of Prime Minister of Thailand) and many other leaders from BIMSTEC grouping participated in the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.

In 2014, when PM Modi took oath as the Prime Minister for the first time, leaders from the SAARC member states travelled to Delhi to attend the ceremony.

It was for the first time that India had invited all SAARC members to attend a swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister.

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–IANS

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Kolkata building collapse: Six including promoter named in chargesheet

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Kolkata, June 16 (IANS) A total of six persons have been named as prime accused persons in the chargesheet filed by Kolkata Police in the case related to the collapse of a five-storey under-construction building at Garden Reach area in the southern outskirts of Kolkata on March 17, which claimed 13 lives.

One of the six persons named in the chargesheet filed at a lower court in Kolkata on Saturday includes Md Wasim, the promoter of the said building.

Insiders in the state police said that in the 730-page chargesheet, a number of sections of cognizable offences under the Indian Penal Code including murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, and others have been included.

The mishap in March exposed illegal constructions in the Garden Reach area involving some real estate promoters and high officials in the building section of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).

After the Calcutta High Court directed the state government to submit a report on the mishap, KMC authorities started an investigation into the matter. On the basis of the preliminary report submitted by KMC’s probe committee, three civil engineers attached to the building department of the corporation were suspended.

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A total 170 witnesses have been named in the chargesheet.

–IANS

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Atishi alleges 'foul play' in water leakage, urges CP to deploy cops to patrol major pipelines

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Alleging foul play in the leakage of water pipelines, Delhi’s water minister Atishi on Sunday wrote a letter to the city’s Commissioner of Police (CP) Sanjay Arora, urging him to deploy police personnel to patrol and protect major pipelines in the national capital for the next 15 days.

In the letter, she said Delhi is reeling under a severe heat wave and a water crisis.

There is a huge shortage of water in many areas of Delhi. The supply of drinking water has become a major problem here. The situation is such that people have to wait on the roads for tankers in the scorching heat. Long queues of people can be seen to fill water when tankers arrive.

To overcome this shortage, emergency borewells have been done at many places and the help of tankers is also being taken. Dozens of areas in Delhi are currently facing water shortages. Water has almost run out in ‘Wazirabad Pond’, a major centre supplying drinking water in Delhi. Atishi herself gave information about this acute shortage of water in the national capital on Saturday.

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Sharing a copy of her letter addressed to the Police Commissioner, Atishi said that the Delhi Jal Board ground patrolling team reported a major leakage in South Delhi Rising Mains — the main water pipeline that carries water from Sonia Vihar WTP to South Delhi — since several large 375 mm bolts and one 12 inch bolt had been cut from the pipeline causing the leakage.

“The fact that several large bolts had been cut seems to indicate foul play and sabotage. Our maintenance team worked for 6 hours continuously and repaired the leakage, but this meant that we had to stop pumping water for 6 hours and 20 MGD of water was not pumped during this time. As a consequence a further 25 per cent of water shortage will be experienced in South Delhi,” she added.

The water minister said that deploying police personnel would be very important for putting a stop to miscreants or people with ulterior motives for tampering with water pipelines which have now become Delhi’s lifelines.

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She further said that due to the shortage of water being received in the Yamuna, water production has fallen by around 70 MGD and many parts of Delhi are experiencing water shortage.

–IANS

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IIT-K, NSI Kanpur sign MoU to establish Centre of Excellence for biofuels

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Kanpur, June 16 (IANS) The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-K) and National Sugar Institute (NSI), Kanpur, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for biofuels.

The signing of the MoU took place in the presence of Ashwini Srivastava, Joint Secretary (Sugar), Department of Food and Public Distribution, Union Government; Manindra Agrawal, Director, IIT Kanpur; and Seema Paroha, Director, National Sugar Institute, Kanpur.

Under this MoU, IIT Kanpur and NSI Kanpur will engage in joint projects to conduct cutting-edge research and develop and adopt state-of-the-art technology to enhance biofuel production in the country with improved efficiency and sustainability.

The biofuels are expected to play a key role in reducing dependency on fossil fuels and mitigating climate change as well.

The focus area of this collaborative research work will take up the study on enhancing the production of Ethanol, Methanol, Bio-CNG, Aviation Fuel, and Green Hydrogen, etc. from biomass, a renewable source of energy.

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Uttar Pradesh being an agriculture-based state and one of the top-ranked states in sugarcane production, will be an ideal place for biofuel research.

This partnership aims to leverage the expertise of both institutions to address the growing energy needs of India while promoting environmental conservation.

Manindra Agrawal, Director of IIT Kanpur, said, “NSI Kanpur has been working in this field for over 60 years, understanding the market dynamics and technological requirements well. Parallelly, IIT Kanpur possesses an understanding of fundamental science and technologies in chemical and other related domains. The aim is to combine the strengths of both institutions to create a state-of-the-art centre to help India take a leadership position in the area of biofuels.”

Aswani Srivastava, Joint Secretary (Sugar), Union government, said: “The National Bio-fuel Policy, 2018, allows the production of ethanol from various sugarcane-based feedstock as well as the use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol. Under the Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) Programme, the government has fixed the target of 20 per cent blending of ethanol with petrol by 2025. To increase the production of ethanol in the country, the government has been promoting maize as a major feedstock for the production of ethanol. It is also focusing towards the ‘Waste to Wealth’ approach by promoting the usage of other by-products of sugarcane.”

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Seema Paroha, Director, NSI Kanpur, said, “This is a long-term MoU, and a dedicated building with a state-of-the-art laboratory, including all requisite equipment, pilot plants, and instruments, will be established for the CoE at the institute campus. This will initially be funded by the Ministry, and moving forward, industrial tie-ups will also be targeted.”

This MoU signifies a way forward in enhancing the production of advanced sustainable high-quality biofuels by developing innovative technologies, optimising existing processes, and establishing pilot projects to demonstrate biofuel technology viability.

This will ultimately contribute to safeguarding the energy supply, protecting the climate by minimising CO2 emissions, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels/import of crude oils.

–IANS

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Telangana to revise property registration charges from Aug 1

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Hyderabad, June 16 (IANS) New registration charges for agriculture and non-agriculture land and properties will come into force from August 1.

This followed the recent decision of the Telangana government to revise the market value of lands to boost its revenues.

This will be the first hike in land value and registration charges after the Congress came to power in December 2023.

The Stamp and Registration Department has initiated an action plan to study the current value and revise it to fix new registration charges accordingly.

The department will begin the groundwork in this regard on June 18 after a meeting with additional Collectors and Revenue Divisional Officers (RDOs).

The Stamp and Registration Department has issued guidelines for revising the market values in rural and urban areas

After an analysis in a phased manner, new registration charges will be decided on July 1. Subsequently, the final market value will be fixed after a few rounds of scrutiny.

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After a study by committees at the Mandal and district levels, new market value will come into effect from August 1.

The Stamp and Registration Department will also hold meetings with officials of Revenue, Municipal Administration, Panchayat Raj, and Survey departments.

After posting the revised values on the website on July 1, the department will call for suggestions and objections from people till July 20. The exercise to fix revised values will be completed by July 31 and revised rates will come into effect from August 1.

Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy had last month directed the department to take steps to revise the market value of lands.

It was noted during the meeting that the rates of land have increased dramatically across the state, but the income from the Stamp and Registration department has not risen accordingly.

The officials had told the Chief Minister that the main reason for this was the disparity between the market value and the actual sale price of land.

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The previous Bharat Rashtra Samithi government had increased the land value and registration charges in 2021, but the meeting was told that there is still a huge difference between the market value of land and the selling price in many places.

Though the market value of land has to be revised every year as per rules, this is not being followed.

The Chief Minister had directed the officials to take steps to revise the prices.

Revanth Reddy had asked the officials to ensure the revision of market values should be scientifically determined and the regulations of the Stamp and Registration Department should be strictly followed.

He suggested that the market prices of land should be revised in such a way that it promotes the real estate and construction sector along with boosting the revenue of the state.

However, the exercise could not be taken up due to the recent Lok Sabha elections.

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–IANS

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SBSP blames election defeat on its poll symbol, wants it changed

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Lucknow, June 16 (IANS) Om Prakash Rajbhar, Uttar Pradesh Minister and President of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has now realised that his party lost the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections because of its poll symbol — a walking stick.

Rajbhar said, “Our election symbol was a walking stick at the third number on the EVM. The Mool Niwasi Samaj Party had the hockey stick as its poll symbol and was placed in the sixth position on the EVM. Our voters got confused between the walking stick and the hockey stick since they both look strikingly similar. This explains how the Mool Niwasi Samaj Party candidate, Lilawati Rajbhar, got more than 47,000 votes.”

Rajbhar’s son Arvind Rajbhar, who contested the seat as an NDA candidate, lost the polls.

Om Prakash Rajbhar said, “My party will now approach the Election Commission and urge them not to allot such similar-looking symbols to candidates since they create confusion in the minds of voters. I am talking to my party workers to know if they want a change in our symbol.”

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Uttar Pradesh Minister and BJP leader Anil Rajbhar, meanwhile, said that whatever votes Arvind Rajbhar had got in Ghosi were from the BJP.

“The SBSP did not get Rajbhar votes — neither in Ghosi nor in other constituencies. Om Prakash Rajbhar’s statement reflects his pessimism,” he added.

–IANS

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