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PM inaugurates strategically-vital, world’s longest bi-lane Sela Tunnel at 13,000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh

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Itanagar, March 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday dedicated to the nation the strategically-crucial Sela Tunnel, constructed at a cost of Rs 825 crore, in Arunachal Pradesh. It is the world’s longest bi-lane tunnel at 13,000 feet.

The ambitious Sela Tunnel would boost India’s defences and lead to a faster response time for the armed forces to threats on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

After dedicating the tunnel to the nation, the PM urged the people to visit it and help boost trade and tourism in the region.

“The Sela Tunnel should have been built earlier, but the previous Congress government did not take any such step,” said the PM, who also flagged off the first civilian convoy consisting of two buses from Tawang.

The PM lauded the efforts of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in providing last mile connectivity to the border region and for constructing an engineering marvel in such difficult terrain under extremely trying conditions.

Apart from the Sela Tunnel, the PM virtually inaugurated from Itanagar 123 key developmental projects and laid the foundation of 95 new projects worth Rs 55,600 crore in six northeastern states — Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.

An official said that on the road connecting Assam’s Tezpur to Tawang, the tunnel will enable “all-weather” connectivity to the region and it is strategically significant due to its proximity to the LAC.

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The tunnel, stretching through the Sela-Charbela ridge and constructed with the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM), will be the world’s longest bi-lane tunnel at an altitude of 13,000 feet.

The NATM is widely accepted and used in construction of tunnels worldwide especially for Himalayan geology.

The Balipara-Charduar-Tawang Road on which this tunnel has been constructed is an important axis connecting Tawang region and provides connectivity to the hinterland, up to Tezpur.

The road had various bottlenecks like Nechiphu, Bomdila Town and Sela Pass, which have been addressed by the BRO by constructing Sela and Nechiphu tunnels and Bomdila Bypass.

The foundation stone of the Sela Tunnel was laid by the PM on February 9, 2019 and its construction commenced within two months.

The tunnel has been completed in just five years overcoming challenges of difficult terrain and adverse weather conditions.

The Sela Tunnel System consists of two tunnels of lengths 1,003 metre and 1,595 metre respectively with an 8.6 km approach and link roads constructed at a cost of Rs 825 crore.

Officials said that the second tunnel also has an escape tube adjacent to the main tunnel as per international norms.

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The escape tube constructed parallel to the main tube is connected with cross passages after every 500 metres and in case of emergency this escape tube can be used for the movement of rescue vehicles and evacuation of stranded people.

The tunnel has been designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars and 2,000 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 kmph.

The Sela Tunnel will not only facilitate smoother movement of troops and supplies and reinforce defence capabilities in the region, it will also herald a new era of economic prosperity for the Tawang region, fostering trade, tourism, employment, education and overall development.

Earlier the route to Sela Pass had only single lane connectivity and treacherous bends due to which heavy vehicles, container trucks and vehicles with trailers could not get to Tawang, officials stated.

According to officials, due to adverse weather conditions, specifically in winters, evacuation of patients was affected along the existing Sela Pass. All this will now be a thing of the past with the opening of the tunnel.

The completed Sela Tunnel System will reduce the travel distance by more than eight kms and travelling time by an hour.

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The execution of this ambitious project took over 90 lakh man-hours with an average of around 650 personnel and labourers working every day for the last five years.

The enormity of the task could be judged by the quantity of 71,000 metric tonnes of cement, 5,000 metric tonnes of steel and 800 metric tonnes of explosives used for construction.

A total of 162 plants and machinery were dedicated to the construction of this tunnel. Various challenges were faced by the BRO’s Project Vartak during the construction of Sela Tunnel. These included freezing temperatures and formation of icicles inside the tunnel which caused delay in the concreting process.

Ingress of water during construction and cavity formation affected the progress.

However, even with these challenges, the BRO was able to complete the tunnel in less than five years due to the efficient use of technology, ground experience of executives and the hard work of civilian labour involved in the construction.

The tunnel has state-of-the-art safety features and it has a ventilation system to maintain air quality and a world-class electro mechanical system, including jet fan ventilation system, fire fighting devices, CIE norms-based illumination system and SCADA-controlled monitoring systems.

–IANS

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TN govt cautions people against fake international job offers

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu government has cautioned people against fake international job offers and also warned recruitment agencies against sending people abroad for fake jobs.

The Non-Resident Tamils Welfare Department has said that stringent legal action would be taken against such agencies.

The department said that there were reports of several people being sent to Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar on tourist visas under the guise of IT and software jobs. The department cautioned the people that these people are being employed for illegal online activities.

The department said that people, after reaching these countries, who refuse to do illegal online work are subjected to torture including administering electric shocks.

The department said that it had already rescued 83 Tamil people from the racket after receiving complaints.

It added that these fake jobs are mostly in digital sales and customer support services. “Many dubious companies are duping people in the name of crypto-currency. Mostly call centres are behind these fake jobs,” the department said.

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The department said that agents based in Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and India are recruiting people from across the country.

“Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Laos and Thailand is one of the major hubs of such illegal and fraudulent companies. Some recruits were even taken as hostages and forced to work under tough mental and physical conditions,” the department said.

The department said that those convicted of human trafficking crimes have been sentenced upto 18 years in Laos.

“Tamil people are requested to be extremely cautious and verify the recruiting agents as well as of any company before taking up the job offer,” the department said.

–IANS

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Why Dalits, with 32 pc population, fail in Punjab power politics?

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Chandigarh, May 26 (IANS) Does the Dalit (scheduled caste) vote bank in Punjab, being the home turf of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) founder Kanshi Ram and having a Dalit population of 32 per cent — the highest among states — play a politically empowered role in the electoral outcomes in the agricultural economy state?

Political pundits say “no” as, despite their numerical strength, they have failed to translate into political influence owing to the “leadership crisis”. Another reason is that they are not a homogeneous community that votes in unison.

But for other parties, as per the past trends, they normally play spoilsport.

The four mainstream parties — the Congress, the BJP, the Jat-dominated Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which snapped its electoral ties with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the run-up to these polls, and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — are trying to woo the Dalits — a majority of them farm labourers or daily wage earners — by fielding candidates from their community for state’s 13 parliamentary seats.

Also, the caste-based BSP is contesting on all seats.

As per past records, BSP’s vote percentage over the years has weakened substantially, both in assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

From 1998 onwards, the BSP has not won even a single Lok Sabha seat in Punjab.

The BSP’s best performance in the Assembly polls was in 1992. At that time, the party had won nine seats in Punjab, but in the next elections in 1997, it was reduced to one seat.

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In the 2002 Assembly polls, the party had got 5.69 per cent votes which decreased to 1.77 per cent in the 2022 polls, mainly due to the emergence of AAP.

Interestingly, a majority of Dalit legislators were elected from parties other than the BSP.

“After 1996, Dalits started shifting towards different parties, but before that the majority of their votes went to the Congress,” a Congress veteran leader told IANS.

In the 2019 parliamentary polls, the BSP, which contested on three reserved seats, had a vote share of 3.5 per cent. It had got 1.4 lakh votes in Anandpur Sahib, 1.28 lakh votes in Hoshiarpur and more than 2 lakh votes in Jalandhar, the hub of the Dalits.

With its declining popularity, the BSP may play spoilsport for the other parties mainly on these seats in these polls, the Congress veteran added.

The BSP has fielded its state President Jabir Singh Garhi from Anandpur Sahib, the seat currently represented by Congress’ Manish Tewari, who has been fielded from the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.

BSP candidate Rakesh Soman from Hoshiarpur joined AAP in the run-up to the polls. Congress defector legislator Raj Kumar Chabbewal is the AAP candidate from this seat where the BSP holds considerable influence. Party supremo Kanshi Ram had won this seat in 1996 with the support of the Akali Dal.

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Balwinder Kumar has been fielded by the BSP from Jalandhar, a Congress bastion with the party winning 10 out of the 16 Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress has fielded Charanjit Singh Channi, the state’s first Dalit chief minister, while AAP has nominated Akali Dal turncoat legislator Pawan Kumar Tinu. The BJP has poached the sitting AAP MP Sushil Kumar Rinku and the Akali Dal has reposed faith in former Congress MP Mohinder Singh Kaypee.

BJP’s Rinku is the most conspicuous party-hopper, having switched sides twice in a year.

In Dalit politics, the state witnessed a new dynamic with the BJP’s announcement in 2022 that it would appoint a Scheduled Caste chief minister if it came to power.

A 2018 report by the ministry of social justice and empowerment says there are 39 sub-castes among Dalits in Punjab.

Five sub-castes constitute more than 80 per cent of the Dalit population. Mazhabi Sikhs comprise the largest share of 30 per cent, followed by Ravidassias (24 per cent) and Ad-Dharmis (11 per cent).

Congress candidate Channi belongs to the Ravidassia community and is known for its proximity with Dera Sachakhand Ballan which has a strong presence in the Doaba region, the area between the Beas and the Satluj rivers often dubbed as the hub of Dalit politics.

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The Doaba region comprises four districts — Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr that fall in two Lok Sabha constituencies — Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.

The BJP has fielded incumbent MP Som Parkash’s wife Anita Som Parkash from Hoshiarpur, once a Congress bastion, while the Akali Dal has fielded Sohan Singh Thandal, and the BSP fielded Ranjit Kumar after its candidate Rakesh Soman left the party after two months of campaigning and joined AAP.

Yamini Gomar, who had fought the 2014 elections on an AAP ticket, is the Congress nominee from Hoshiarpur.

Of the state’s 117 assembly seats, 34 (one-third) seats are reserved for the scheduled castes.

Though Dalits, both among Sikhs and Hindus, are seen as the Congress’ traditional supporters, the Akalis bank on the Jat Sikhs (comprising 25 per cent of the population), while the present AAP government led by Bhagwant Mann has prominent Dalit leader Harpal Singh Cheema in his Cabinet.

In 1996, the BSP forged an alliance with the Akali Dal (Badal) in the parliamentary elections, and they won three of the four seats.

Punjab will vote in the seventh and last phase of the Lok Sabha elections on June 1.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at gulatiians@gmail.com)

–IANS

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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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Two SAF jawans die under suspicious circumstances in MP's Chhindwara

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Bhopal, May 26 (IANS) Two Special Armed Forces (SAF) jawans died under suspicious circumstances in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara on Sunday.

The jawans, identified as Dhaniram Uike (55) and Premlal Kakodia (54), were deployed for security at the residence of a senior IAS officer in the district.

The exact cause of the jawans’ death is yet to be ascertained, the police said.

However, a preliminary probe suggested that they had consumed liquor while on duty on Saturday night after which they felt uneasy and were rushed to a nearby hospital, where they died, the police said.

“Samples of liquor have been collected from the spot. The bodies have been sent for post-mortem. The investigation is underway,” Chhindwara SHO Umesh Golhani said.

–IANS

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CM Yogi’s work and influence makes Gorakhpur safe for Ravi Kishan

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Gorakhpur (UP), May 26 (IANS) Although the BJP has fielded the Bhojpuri star Ravi Kishan from the prestigious Gorakhpur seat in Uttar Pradesh, however, it is Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who wields power and authority when it comes to his bastion.

Yogi Adityanath first contested from Gorakhpur in 1998 which he won for five consecutive terms.

After taking over as Chief Minister in 2017, Yogi Adityanath has done to Gorakhpur what Mulayam Singh Yadav did to Saifai, his native village in Etawah.

Gorakhpur has witnessed an unprecedented drive for a makeover since Yogi Adityanath took over and most of the development projects have already been completed.

Besides, Gorakhpur holds in high esteem Goraksh Peeth, which is headed by Yogi Adityanath.

“The temple and Yogi Adityanath are now synonymous with each other and the work he has done is a bonus. Ravi Kishan is only a face but the real identity lies with the Chief Minister,” says Ravindra Shahi, a local businessman.

Under the leadership of Yogi Aditynath, the UP government has worked on the revival of a fertiliser factory which was shut down for several years, besides a new LPG bottling plant has also been built.

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The revival of closed sugar mills in the area has also been put on priority by the Yogi government.

Gorakhpur also has a branch of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to its name.

The Ramgarh Taal has been developed into a water sports complex and auditorium.

Land has also been allocated to the Education Department to set up a library and research centre.

“Besides these projects, beautification of parks, broadening of roads, redevelopment of Ramgarh Taal and availability of potable water to check water-borne Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) are also being undertaken,” said a senior official in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

“When I first became MP, Gorakhpur was known as the “crime capital” of northern India and I took the support of social organisations, traders and youth to counter the mafia. Now, I want Gorakhpur should be known as a developed zone,” the Chief Minister recently said.

Most importantly, Yogi Adityanath has ensured the eradication of Japanese Encephalitis from the region, thus saving the lives of hundreds of children every year.

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Yogi Adityanath said that he was determined to change the identity of Gorakhpur.

The city’s airport, the civil terminal of which was inaugurated in 2017, has since gone on to become a bustling entry point to the city. It already has direct flights connecting to and from Delhi, Lucknow and some other major cities.

The state government is also working overtime to improve the power situation and ensure 24-hour power supply. Efforts are also being made to improve the quality of water supply in Gorakhpur city.

A special focus is on the 4,000-odd families from the Vantangiya community which lives in forest areas in Gorakhpur and adjoining Maharajganj districts as it has been deprived of basic facilities like schools, hospitals and power supply since independence.

The Vantangiya community, brought from Burma now Myanmar for afforestation during colonial rule, got voting rights in September last year.

People across the political spectrum believe that Gorakhpur got a new identity under the regime of Yogi Adityanath.

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What is more important is that Yogi Adityanath makes it a point to spend the weekend in Gorakhpur and meet local people.

“Yogi Adityanath spends more time in Gorakhpur than the sitting MP Ravi Kishan, who is seeking his second term as MP and meets more people than the actor-turned-politician. He is a true representative of the city and we vote for any candidate he supports,” says Bhola Tiwari, a local party worker.

Ravi Kishan fully understands the influence that Yogi Adityanath holds over Gorakhpur and takes care to mention the Chief Minister’s name in every conversation.

The INDIA alliance has fielded TV and Bhojpuri film actress, Kajal Nishad of Congress, while Javed Simnanai will lead BSP in the upcoming mega elections from Gorakhpur.

Gorakhpur goes to polls on May 13.

–IANS

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