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#* PM Narendra Modi inaugurates new terminal at Chandigarh airport
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated a new terminal at Chandigarh airport which will handle both domestic as well as international flights.
Modi dedicated to the nation the modern facility which is expected to boost the economic and industrial development in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
The ambitious Rs 939-crore project, which is being seen as a “harbinger” of regional development for the northern part of the country, will be operated and maintained by Chandigarh International Airport Ltd (CHIAL), a joint venture between Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the governments of Punjab and Haryana.
AAI has 51 per cent stake in the project while Punjab and Haryana have 24.5 per cent equity each.
Governor of Punjab and Haryana and Administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, Kaptan Singh Solanki, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, P Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar were among those present on the occasion.
Before inaugurating the civil air terminal, Modi was shown the model of the new building and taken around an exhibition of photographs of the facility. He was also presented a memento by Civil Aviation Minister Raju.
Designed on the green building concept, the terminal in Mohali (Punjab) is spread over 53,000 sq.m and can handle 1,600 passengers, including 450 international travellers, during peak time.
The apron capacity of the airport will be 8 aircraft, including cargo planes.
With parking facility for 500 cars, it is equipped with 48 check-in counters, nine immigration counters, four arrival baggage carousels, three passenger boarding bridges, six escalators and 14 lifts.
Depicting heritage and culture of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh with murals, paintings and sculptures, the terminal building has five levels with arrival hall at ground floor, departures in the first floor and services, including baggage handling system, and offices in the basement.
Built by construction major L&T, the terminal sets a new benchmark in sustainability with green technologies like using about 55 lakh fly ash bricks, cavity wall, double insulated roofing, energy efficient chillers and sensor-based plumbing system to save water.
It boasts of a sewage treatment plant of 600 KLD, which is based on environment-friendly extended aeration technology, water treatment plant, rain water harvesting and re-use of treated water for flushing and gardening.
Also, international-level baggage handling system and Wi-Fi facilities have also been provided.
Punjab had given 305 acres of land at Jheorheri village in Mohali to AAI in 2008 for setting up the new facility.
Both domestic and international flights will be operated from the new airport once it is functional while the existing terminal building will be used for other civil aviation purposes.
#* 2 Dead, 8 Injured in Train Derailment in Karnataka
GULBARGA, KARNATAKA: Two people died and eight were injured as nine coaches of a Duranto Express going from Secunderabad to Mumbai derailed in Karnataka early this morning.
The accident happened around 2 am at Martur village station in Gulbarga district, near the Maharashtra-Karnataka border. "The Secunderabad -Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Express derailed at Martur village station near Kalburgi. Two persons were killed and eight others injured in the mishap," said Amit Singh, Kalburgi Superintendent of Police.
The injured were immediately rushed to hospital. After overnight rescue work, the train left for its onward journey. Traffic on the line is likely to be cleared in a couple of hours.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered an investigation to ascertain the cause of the accident.
#* LPG blast in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh kills 20
At least 20 people are feared dead and over 40 injured in a massive explosion triggered by LPG cylinder at a restaurant Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday.
The blast took place around 8.30 AM in a building housing the restaurant situated in Petlawad town, about 60 kms from the district headquarters, Sub Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP), Petlawad, A R Khan told PTI. "Nearly 15-20 people are feared dead in the mishap and as many were injured," he said.
Many others are suspected to be trapped in the debris, the SDOP said, adding that the exact number of casualties will be known once the debris is cleared.
The gas cylinder explosion has caused damages to a number of adjacent buildings.
Senior officials from Jhabua have rushed to the spot to launch rescue operations. Also, State Tribal Welfare Minister Antar Singh Arya is expected to reach the site soon.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Babulal Gaur told reporters in Bhopal that an investigation has been ordered to look into the reasons behind the blast. "We will proceed accordingly," Gaur said.
Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of those killed and Rs 50, 000 to the injured.
#* Election ad war heats up in Bihar; EC to curb paid news
On Wednesday (September 09, 2015), the Election Commission announced the date for assembly polls in Bihar. The Chief Election Commissioner, Nasim Zaidi announced that the elections will be held in five phases, starting from October 12. Counting will take place on November 08, 2015.
Given the scenario of Bihar elections, the Central government and State government are going head to head through advertisements. Both governments are trying to catch voter’s attention with ads on regional channels and newspapers especially among ETV Bihar, Mahuaa, Hindustan, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar and Prabhat Khabar which are the leading channels and newspapers in Bihar.
#* Border boys agree to ease tensions
NEW DELHI - Indian and Pakistani border forces agreed on Friday to maintain restraint on their disputed Kashmir frontier, as they sought to defuse tensions that have been heightened in recent months by militant attacks that each side blames the other for.
The heads of India’s Border Security Force and the Pakistani Rangers met in New Delhi to find ways to de-escalate tensions along the border as part of a series of measures agreed by the leaders of the two countries in July.
The border chiefs agreed to hold back cross-border firing and not to retaliate immediately to violations of a 15-year ceasefire, an Indian interior ministry official told foreign news agency, Reuters.
“Both have decided not to immediately retaliate against firing from either side and to contact the other side to know the cause of firing,” the official said, reading from a draft text the two governments agreed. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan as it wants cordial relations with all its neighbours, Hindustan Times reported.
“India wants friendly relations with all its neighbours. India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan along the border,” Singh said. The Pakistani delegation chief said he would convey Singh’s message to the Pakistani leadership.
The Indian home minister said that both India and Pakistan must unite against the menace of terrorism.
“Like India, Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism,” he added. Singh said India wanted to engage in dialogue with Pakistan at different levels and that was why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in Russia.
“Unfortunately, the NSA level talks did not take place. But we want to have a good relation with Pakistan. I am saying this not for formality’s sake, but ‘tah-e-dil-se’ (from the bottom of the heart),” he said.
Quoting former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Singh further said that “we can change friends, but not the neighbours” and that was why it was necessary to have cordial relations with all neighbouring countries. The talks will continue until Saturday. In Islamabad, the Senate Standing Committee on Defence was briefed that India violated the ceasefire 221 times, leaving 26 Pakistani citizens martyred and 78 injured this year.
The interior ministry officials further testified that Pakistani forces do not target the Indian civilian population, but respond to aggression by targeting Indian security posts. Following the briefing, the standing committee adopted a resolution to urge the United Nations and international community to take notice of Indian aggression and the continued ceasefire violations.
Its meeting was held at the parliament house in Islamabad with Syed Mushahid Hussain Sayed in the chair.
The resolution said Indian aggression is part of an organized policy to trigger instability in Pakistan. There is no justification for such a belligerence. It said that the statements of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are provocative.
The resolution also called upon India to respect UN resolutions on Kashmir.
Defence Secretary Alam Khattak told the body that Pakistan was fully prepared to respond to any aggression. The committee was also informed that India wants to sabotage Pak-Afghan relations. In his remarks, Chairman of the committee Mushahid Hussain Sayed said Modi is pursuing a confused policy vis-e-vis Pakistan.
#* 12 convicted, 1 acquitted in Mumbai train blasts case
Main conspirators Faisal Sheikh and Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid among the convicted; accused No. 8, Wahid acquitted. Arguments on the quantum of sentencing from Monday.
Closing a long chapter in the history of terror attacks in Mumbai, a Special MCOCA Court on Friday convicted 12 persons of hatching a criminal conspiracy and subsequently executing a series of bombings on Mumbai’s local trains on July 11 2006, which claimed 189 lives and injured over 800 people.
Of the total 13 accused arrested and charge sheeted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, one person Abdul Wahid Din Mohammad Shaikh was acquitted of all the charges after nine years in jail.
The 12 convicts, including key conspirators Faisal Shaikh and Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid, were chiefly found guilty of being members of terrorist organisation under section 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and of being part of an organised crime syndicate under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, among other sections.
They were also found guilty of criminal conspiracy (section 120B) to commit offences related to waging war against the Government of India (sections 121A, 122) under the Indian Penal Code.
Five of the convicts, namely Kamal Ansari, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Mumbai chief Faisal, SIMI activist Ehtesham Siddiqui, Naveed and Junaid were planters of bombs at Jogeshwari, Mira Road, Bandra and Borivali. They were found guilty of murder, attempt to murder, causing hurt and criminal conspiracy.
Some of accused were separately convicted and acquitted under few other individual sections of UAPA, MCOCA, IPC, Explosive Substances Act, Explosives Act, Railways Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
Special Judge YD Shinde, who presided over the 7/11 trial, banned the media from entering the courtroom to report on the judgement. Lawyers present in the court said, the 12 convicts were too stunned to react after hearing the verdict.
‘Court accepted conspiracy’
Convictions under 120B indicate that the court accepted the accused acted in pursuance of a criminal conspiracy, Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare said.
“The two main evidences submitted by the prosecution is the meeting in Bandra at the house of Faisal and one at Mohammad Ali’s place in Govandi, where bombs were assembled. The court seems to have accepted that,” Mr. Thakare said.
On Abdul’s acquittal, he said the allegation against him was of harbouring Pakistani terrorists, which was supported by one witness who turned hostile. “Apart from that there was no evidence against him.”
The serious offences against the convicts attract the maximum punishment of death. Arguments on the quantum of sentence will begin on Monday. Mr. Thakare said, “I will study the Law Commission reports and the judgement in Yakub Memon case in my arguments for sentencing. The Commission says that death penalty should be gradually done away with, but in terror cases, it is there. I am not going to go vindictively just because there are convictions. Everyone’s desire is that such offences call for no mercy. Law must respond to the society’s cry for justice.”
The verdict came as a big boost for the ATS, whose probe was marked by several twists and flip-flops. “We are happy that the ATS investigation is upheld by the court. Justice has been done to the victims at least partly,” former ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi told media persons outside the court.
On the questions raised after the arrest of five alleged Indian Mujahideen cadres by the Mumbai Crime Branch, Mr. Raghuvanshi said “At no point did we have any doubt in our mind about the arrests we made and the evidence we collected. I knew we will be vindicated and we have been vindicated. There was no clue left in this blast as there was no unexploded blast. ATS was a small unit then and the case was big.”
On the contentious issue of the call data records, which showed different locations of some of the accused, he said, “We never made claims on the basis of the CDRs. Accused persons never carry mobile phones with them while committing a crime.”
The ATS will examine its failure regarding the acquittal of Abdul and will decide if it wants to go in appeal. It was “unfortunate” that 15 accused persons were still absconding, Mr. Raghuvanshi said.
Retired Inspector Vasant Tajne, who was part of the investigating team, said the accused tried their best to delay the trial by filing applications and challenging the applicability of MCOCA. “Moreover, the defence examined 51 witnesses, which is a huge number.”
‘Law is blind’
The convictions dealt a blow to the relatives of the convicted accused and many refused to speak. “Yeh kanoon andha hain [Law is blind],” remarked a relative of one of the accused.
Convicted accused Sajid Ansari’s brother who did not wish to be named said, “What can you expect from lower courts? The police case against Sajid is that he collected mobile phones from the accused, went to Govandi and Bandra and was involved in bomb making, but his CDRs prove that he was not at these locations. This verdict now means more years at the High Court and Supreme Court. Anyway this is a State’s case. Everyone has scant regard for the police now.”
#* After Centre's refusal, Mamata Banerjee decides to make 64 files pertaining to Subhas Chandra Bose public
The mystery surrounding the death of INA founder and iconic freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose refuses to die down even after 70 years of speculation. While conspiracy theories abound, the controversy over his death has yet again come to haunt people, politicians and relatives as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the state government would declassify 64 files pertaining to Netaji from September 18.Refuelling the debate around the mysterious death of Bose, the Centre had earlier this year refused to declassify Bose files in its possession, but the latest move of the Mamata government is sure to put the former in a tight spot. The Centre could come in for more pressure as the Bose family has already been demanding the declassification of the Bose files.
While the mystery endures, the chief minister too stoked further curiosity when she said, "We know Netaji's date of birth but we have no idea about his demise. People deserve to know about his last days." These files and documents would be opened to the public at the Kolkata Police archives."We will make all files and documents relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose public on September 18. We want to maintain transparency and accountability. People must know about Netaji," Banerjee said at state secretariat Nabanno located in Kolkata twin Howrah district. Dubbing Netaji a "national icon", she said the state government would also take initiatives to digitise all files from 1937-1947.
Netaji's story is an enigma that continues to haunt the popular imagination in India. Did he die of third-degree burns on August 18, 1945, after his plane crashed in Formosa (now Taiwan) or did he survive and escape to Siberia? Or was the 'crash' a mere hoax to help him flee to safety?
"This is, I believe, success for the people. I welcome the gesture of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as she has done a great job. She has shown the courage to do that. I think the central government should take a lesson from her move and act accordingly," Chandra Kumar Bose, grand nephew of Netaji, told MAIL TODAY.
#* July IIP stable, inflation seen easing in August: Poll
Consumer inflation is expected to have slowed to a record-low in August, hit by slack global energy costs and low food prices, likely increasing pressure on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut rates at its meeting later this month.
The Reuters poll of over 30 economists, conducted this week, forecast inflation to ease to 3.6 per cent in August year-on-year, from July's already all-time-low of 3.78 per cent.
"This is the second year of drought or low rainfall conditions but food inflation has almost halved," said Bhupesh Bameta, economist at Quant Capital in Mumbai. "We've not had a sustainable period of low rainfall, so the damage to crops is not that high."
Signs of inflation cooling rapidly, from double digit rates almost two years ago, will likely increase calls for the central bank to cut interest rates at its September meeting. Three cuts this year, prompted by low inflation and slackening economic momentum, have brought the key repo rate down to 7.25 per cent.
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, however, has remained firm in his assertions the central bank will not act again until the full impact of the monsoon season - stretching from July to September - is known.
In July, retail food inflation slowed sharply to 2.15 per cent from 5.4 per cent in June, despite the country recording 13 per cent overall lower rainfall than average this year.
The forecasts for lower inflation were accompanied by predictions of steady factory growth in July, the same poll showed.
India's economy grew an historically modest 7 per cent last quarter but industrial output has generally been strong. It is expected to have increased 3.5 per cent in July from a year ago.
"Month on month there is some volatility in the numbers but the broader sense of a gradual investment-led recovery is definitely visible," said Bameta.
Factory growth has been positive since November.
However, the possibility of higher interest rates in the United States is likely to weigh on Rajan's thoughts ahead of the RBI's September 29 meeting in which economists said there is a 60 per cent probability of policy easing.
#* IIP grows 4.2% in July, beats estimates
A higher-than-expected 4.2% growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) or factory output number for July compared to 4.4% (revised from 3.8%) in June has not buoyed all economists.
They want to watch the trend of different parameters in the IIP before they offer their verdict on whether economic recovery is on track.
Anis Chakravarty, chief economist and senior director, Deloitte India, said it would be a bit premature to say the economy was on the path of recovery. "While 4.2% industrial growth is a healthy number, we would wait before we pronounce anything. We were expecting 3-3.5% growth (in July IIP). A lot of it is base effect – consumer durable looks good, manufacturing has been showing consistently good performance over the last few months, electricity is also okay and mining has also picked up. The problem is volatility in capital goods, which is in contrast with gross capital formation, which has yet to pick up pace," he said.