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Massive fire at gaming zone in Rajkot leaves 24 dead; ‘extremely distressed’, says PM Modi (Ld)

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) At least 24 persons, including 12 children, were reportedly killed in a massive fire at a gaming zone in Gujarat’s Rajkot on Saturday.

The fire broke out inside the gaming zone in a shopping mall when it was teeming with children.

Police teams and fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the fire. Sources said the owner of the gaming zone has been arrested.

The shopping mall was inundated with crowds because of the weekend. The intensity of the fire was so fierce that smoke was seen billowing from the shopping mall from a long distance.

A couple of people are believed to be trapped inside the gaming zone where a rescue operation is in full swing.

The state government has announced a compensation package of Rs 4 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for every injured person.

Expressing grief over the tragic incident Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post on X: “Extremely distressed by the fire mishap in Rajkot. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their loved ones. Prayers for the injured. The local administration is working to provide all possible assistance to those affected.”

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“The fire tragedy in Rajkot has saddened us all. In my telephone conversation with him a short while ago, Gujarat CM Bhupendrabhai Patel Ji told me about the efforts underway to ensure all possible assistance is provided to those who have been affected,” the Prime Minister said in another post.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said: “I am deeply saddened by the accident that happened in the game zone of Rajkot (Gujarat). I have spoken to the Chief Minister Shri @Bhupendrapbjp ji and got information regarding this accident.

“The administration is making every possible effort for relief and rescue work and is providing treatment to the injured. I express my deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones in this tragic accident and wish for the speedy recovery of the injured.”

Mourning the incident, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a post on X: “The news of the death of many people including innocent children due to a massive fire in the gaming zone of a mall in Rajkot, Gujarat, is very painful. I express my deepest condolences to all the bereaved families. I hope that all the injured recover as soon as possible.”

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Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel has instructed the officials to prioritise the rescue operation and ensure immediate treatment for the injured.

“Instructions have been given to the municipal corporation and the administration for immediate rescue and relief operations in the fire incident in the game zone in Rajkot. Instructions have also been issued to prioritise arrangements for immediate treatment of the injured,” the Gujarat CM said.

–IANS

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Karnataka govt orders probe into MUDA land scam ahead of monsoon session

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Bengaluru, July 15 (IANS) The Karnataka government has ordered a probe into the Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) land case by a single-member commission headed by retired Justice of the High Court P. N. Desai, allegedly involving Chief Minister Siddaramaiah,

The government announcement has come ahead of the monsoon session which will begin from Monday and has asked the committee to submit its findings within six months after completing the probe.

The order said that the allegations regarding the allotment of sites have come to the government’s attention and have been reported by the media.

“The decision was made under Sub-rule 1 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. The inquiry commission is empowered to investigate under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, and the Code of Civil Procedure,” the government order reads.

The opposition has been demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and to handover the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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“The Urban Development Department and MUDA are directed to provide all documents and information to the commission and also to provide the services of technical, economic, and administrative experts,” the order reads.

It further underlines that the concerned officers attached to the Urban Development Department and MUDA must be present during the investigation and provide all documents, files, and other required materials, ensuring full cooperation.

Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Steel H.D. Kumaraswamy has made an appeal to the legal fraternity to seek consent for the prosecution of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah from Governor T.C. Gehlot in connection with the alleged irregularities in Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) and the tribal welfare Board.

Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Pralhad Joshi had accused Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of being “directly involved” in the Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) land scam.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had said that he is being targeted regarding the MUDA land case as he hails from a backward class.

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“I am being targeted as I hail from the backward class. The agitation against me is political but I am capable of countering it,” the Chief Minister had said.

The MUDA controversy is primarily over the purchase, de-notification, gifting, encroachment, and awarding of alternative sites in connection with 3.16 acres of land owned by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s wife B.M. Parvathi.

The BJP has alleged a loss of about Rs 4,000 crore to the government by alleged fraudulent allotments.

–IANS

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Telangana launches distribution of safety kits for toddy tappers

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Hyderabad, July 14 (IANS) The Telangana government on Sunday launched the distribution of safety kits for toddy tappers from the Goud community.

Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy launched the distribution of the ‘Katamayya Raksha Kavacham’ or safety kits at Lashkarguda village at Abdullapurmet on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

As many toddy tappers are losing lives or sustaining serious injuries after falling from trees while extracting toddy, the government has come out with a scheme to distribute safety kits.

Under the initiative by the Telangana State BC Corporation, specialised safety kits have been designed specifically for toddy tappers. These kits, developed in collaboration with IIT Hyderabad and a private company, integrate modern technologies to prevent accidents. With advanced safety features tailored to the specific needs of rope climbers, each kit includes six essential devices: ropes, clips, handles, a sling bag, and leg loops.

Revanth Reddy said that the government is committed to extending assistance to people who rely on traditional occupations. He claimed that the Goud community supported and campaigned for Congress to come to power in the elections. “Goud brothers also propagated that the respect of weaker sections will be enhanced only if the Congress comes to power in Telangana. Gouds are known for their fighting spirit and their robustness,” he said.

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The Chief Minister also said that the government will not object to growing palm and Indian date palm trees on the government lands.

He suggested to Excise Minister Jupally Krishna Rao to take up the plantation of palm and Indian Date plam under the Vanamahotsavam programme. An initiative is also proposed to plant such trees on the banks of water bodies, roads, ponds, and canals.

The Chief Minister claimed that the Congress government is striving for the upliftment of the weaker sections. “YSR regime introduced the fee reimbursement scheme for weaker sections. Our government is committed to continuing the fee reimbursement scheme,” he said, adding that the government is committed to protecting the culture of the Goud community.

Appealing to the community to provide higher studies to their children to make them reach higher levels, he said: “They should also participate in rebuilding the Telangana state. Your children should grow as lawmakers. Education is the only weapon for weaker sections to become rulers.”

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The Chief Minister, Assembly Speaker G. Prasad, and ministers also participated in a community lunch with the Goud community.

–IANS

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Coast Guard recovers body of missing fisherman from Bay of Bengal

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Kolkata, July 14 (IANS) The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has carried out a successful operation and recovered the mortal remains of a fisherman who recently went missing from a trawler in the deep seas off the West Bengal coast.

Fisherman Mohan Majhi (50) was on board the Indian Fishing Boat (IFB) ‘Jai Baba Lokenath’ that is registered at Diamond Harbour in the South 24-Parganas district of West Bengal.

He went missing on Thursday before the trawler returned to the harbour. The boat owner approached the ICG District Headquarters in Haldia around 7:30 p.m. on that day and requested officials to carry out a search for Majhi.

ICG Ship (ICGS) Kamla Devi was immediately deployed to the area where the fisherman went missing.

Braving rough seas, ICGS Kamla Devi carried out a sustained search operation in the area and sighted Majhi’s decomposed body. The body was taken on board the Coast Guard vessel where a medical team inspected it, officials said on Sunday.

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The ship then left for Haldia. After berthing there, the body was handed over to the local police on Saturday in the presence of family members and the boat owner, they added.

The recovery of the body will bring closure to the case for the bereaved family and allow them to overcome several legal hurdles regarding insurance claims and compensation.

–IANS

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Maha issues notification on free travelling facility to senior citizens

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Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) The Maharashtra government on Sunday issued a notification on free travelling facilities to important pilgrimage sites across India by senior citizens of all faiths.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde recently announced that the Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojana will be implemented for the senior citizens of the state to visit various pilgrimage sites across the country.

The scheme includes 73 pilgrimage sites in India and 66 from Maharashtra state. Nearly all the important pilgrimage sites are included in the scheme.

The eligible senior citizens will get the benefit of this scheme to visit one of the pilgrimage sites mentioned under this scheme. Similarly, the maximum amount per head towards travelling allowance will be Rs 30,000. This will include actual travelling, meals, lodging and other important expenses.

The annual income of the beneficiary should be less than 2.50 lakh and the beneficiary should be a resident of Maharashtra state and should be a senior citizen above 60 years of age.

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For taking the benefit of the scheme the applicant will have to apply online.

The beneficiaries will be selected by the committees appointed at the district level. The quota will be decided on the basis of the population of the district and the beneficiaries will be selected by a lottery method from the applications received. Beneficiaries who are above 75 years of age will be permitted to travel with their spouse or any assistant.

A 17-member committee led by the Social Justice Minister had been formed to monitor and review the scheme at the state level.

A seven-member committee under the chairmanship of the guardian minister will be looking into the matter at the district level.

The Assistant Commissioner of the Social Welfare Department will be the member secretary, whereas at the state level, the Social Welfare Commissioner will be working as the Nodal Officer.

“The state government is leaving no stone unturned for fulfilling the dreams of the poor, downtrodden and destitute citizens of the state. We are satisfied that we will be getting the blessings of the senior citizens. This will definitely provide energy and inspiration to the government,” the Chief Minister said.

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–IANS

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Assam slowly emerging out of flood crisis, two more deaths, 6 lakh people still affected

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Guwahati, July 14 (IANS) With waters receding, the overall flood situation in Assam improved on Sunday even as two more deaths were reported from the Karimganj district and over 6 lakh people remain affected in 18, or over half, of the state’s 35 districts, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said.

According to ASDMA officials, with the two fresh deaths, as of Sunday, at least 93 people died due to the current flood in 23 districts and around 10 more people died due to landslides and other calamities after the monsoon rain started early last month.

The highest number of deaths (22) were reported from Cachar district in southern Assam.

According to the ASDMA officials, the number of flood-affected people has sharply come down from over 24.20 lakh in 30 districts as of July 5.

Flood water is still submerging 5,367 hectares of crop area in 1,342 villages in 18 districts while over 2.83 lakh domestic animals have also been badly affected.

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Of the 18 flood-affected districts, Dhubri, Cachar, Dhemaji, Darrang, Goalpara, and Golaghat are still badly hit.

The Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level at Neamatighat, Tezpur, and Dhubri, while Burhidihing and Disang rivers are also flowing above the danger level in a few areas.

ASDMA officials said over 30,000 people are sheltered in the 172 relief camps set up by the district administrations, while 32 relief distribution centres are functioning in different districts.

The flood water also submerged the vast areas of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR). The Forest and Wildlife Department workers have so far rescued 143 wild animals while more than 196 animals, including deer, rhinos, and hog deer, have drowned in flood waters.

–IANS

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