The crucial Barak bridge located along the National Highway-102 collapsed on Monday morning, cutting off land-locked Manipur from rest of the country, an official said.The bridge collapsed when a 10-wheeler goods-laden truck was passing through it, a transport department official said, adding that the structure was in a fragile condition since last night.This has left around 200 goods-laden trucks coming from Jiribam town to Imphal stranded. Repairing works are being carried out on war-footing, the official said. The Barak bridge is located along the Imphal-Jiribam highway and passes through the hill district of Tamenglong.The highway, considered as the second lifeline of the border state, assumed greater importance after a massive landslide at Viswema in neighbouring Nagaland cut off the major Imphal-Dimapur national highway.
An Assam Rifles jawan and two militants were killed in an encounter at Sajik Tampak in Chandel district of Manipur on Wednesday morning, the police said.Three other militants and two jawans also sustained injuries in the gun battle. Police and Assam Rifles teams have recovered one AK 47 rifle and 3 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from the spot. The jawans belonged to the 4 Assam Rifles regiment.M. Rajen, acting police superintendent of Chandel district said that combing operations are still going on in the area. Condemning the attack, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said that the personnel had come to Manipur to protect the people. He assured that those responsible behind the attack would be made accountable.
The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has scrapped the Shravan Yatra, a scheme under which elderly citizens could undertake pilgrimage free of cost.The Shravan Yatra was started in 2015 by the previous Samajwadi Party government.Responding to a question raised in the Assembly, Minister for Religious Affairs Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary said the yatra was being scrapped in “public interest.“ “There is no plan to revive it,” he said.Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav began the scheme under the name “Samajwadi Shravan Yatra” in March 2015, as part of his outreach to counter allegations of Muslim appeasement made by the BJP.Inspired by mythological characterUnder the scheme, the government bore the entire boarding and lodging expenses for the pilgrimage undertaken by senior citizens. The name of the yatra was inspired by the mythological character Shravan Kumar, who had carried his blind parents on his shoulders for a pilgrimage.This year, a shadow was cast over the yatra after the trips, scheduled in October, November and December, were cancelled, as the IRCTC, which organises the travel, did not receive funds from the Religious Affairs Ministry, even though ₹14 crore was allocated for it.Also, while six trains were running under the scheme last year, the number had fallen to two under the new government. Pilgrimage trips were scheduled for Somnath, Dwarka, Madurai, Puri and Konark this year.
The Haryana government on Saturday launched a price deficit compensation scheme, Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana, to ensure that vegetable farmers are protected against a fall in crop prices.Tomato, onion, potato and cauliflower have been included in the scheme. Farmers would be compensated by the State if rates dropped below the protected price. This would ensure that the farmers received a fair price for their produce.Launching the scheme in Karnal, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that compensation at the rate of ₹400 a quintal would be given for tomato and potato and ₹500 a quintal for onion and cauliflower. “The State government will make good the difference if and when the prices go below the mentioned prices,” he said.Agriculture Minister O.P. Dhankar said with the launch of the scheme, the farmers would no more have to throw their produce on the roads.
Purohit likely to be released today Purohit walks out after nine years in jail The court also discharged Rakesh Dhawde, Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Praveen Takkalki are fully discharged from all charges of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Explosive Substances Act, The Arms Act, UAPA and MCOCA. The court directed them to furnish a bond of ₹30,000 with one or more sureties.They have been discharged from Sections 302 (punishment for murder), Section 307 (attempt to murder), Section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), Section 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), Section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and Section 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of IPC.Sections 3 (punishment for causing explosion likely to endanger life or property) Section 4 (punishment for attempt to cause explosion), Section 5 (punishment for making or possessing explosives under suspicious circumstances), Section 6 (punishment of abettors) of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and relevant Sections of Arms Act.Also Read The National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Wednesday has dropped the charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against eight accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case.Special Judge S.D. Tekale dropped charges against Pragyasingh Thakur, Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, Ajay Rahirkar, Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, Sudhakar Dwivedi and Sudhakar Chatruvedi. They have been discharged under Section 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act), Section 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation), Section 23 (enchanced penalties) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA and Section 3 (licence for acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition), Section 5 (licence for manufacture, sale, etc., of arms and ammunition), and Section 25 (punishment for offences) of Arms Act.Also Read Section 16, section 17, Section 18, section 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation) and section 23 (enchanced penalties) of UAPA and provisions of section 3 (punishment for organised crime) under the MCOCA.The court has also discharged Rakesh Dhawde and Jagdish Mhatre from sections of the IPC, Explosive Substances Act, UAPA and MCOCA and will face trial under Arms Act.On January 15, the court will frame charges against Pragya Singh Thakur, Major Upadhyay, Ajay Rahirkar, Lt Col Purohit and Sudhakar Chaturvedi for murder, attempt to murder, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means, promoting enmity between different groups and punishment of criminal conspiracy.
Despite heavy rainfall last year, Gujarat is set to face a severe water crisis because of the low water availability in Narmada dam — the main source of water in the State — due to deficient rainfall in the Narmada catchment area in Madhya Pradesh.As a result, the State government has repeatedly announced that it will not supply water for irrigation. The entire stock will be reserved for drinking water in Saurashtra and North Gujarat regions, both water starved provinces and highly dependent on water from Narmada canals.Appeal to farmersIn a statement, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) appealed to farmers not to sow a summer crop unless they had a local water source which could irrigate their fields because in the Narmada dam, the storage level was at 45% of the 15-year average.However, the government’s move to curtail supply has irked farmers as well as the Opposition party, who allege mismanagement by the State authorities.According to Gujarat government officials, they had the inkling that this year Narmada water would not be available for irrigation.However, due to the Assembly polls in November-December, the State government, instead of making proper arrangements, did not even inform the farmers and the public of the likely shortfall.Warning signs”October 2017 onwards, it became evident that the availability of water from the Narmada dam would be substantially lower than the State’s quota of 9 million acre feet (MAF) that it gets as per the Narmada water sharing award. Now, we will get only 4.71 MAF. That is enough for drinking water but not for irrigating fields,” a senior official told The Hindu.Interestingly, when the State government was apparently aware of a sharp drop in water inflows in the Narmada dam, it celebrated the Narmada Festival while Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended an event to announce the completion of dam over the river.“If the SSNNL knew that there would be a shortfall of drinking and irrigation water, why did it allow the criminal wastage of Narmada water for the Aji and Narmada dam inaugurations and other election-related programmes in September 2017”, a prominent farmers’ leader, Sagar Rabari, asked in a statement.Mr. Rabari heads Gujarat’s largest farmers’ outfit Gujarat Khedut Samaj, which is planning to organise a massive congregation of farmers during the Assembly Budget session starting February 19.Poll advantage“The political class used water as a vote-catching ploy during the Assembly polls and is now threatening farmers that it will use police force if they continue to draw water from canals,” Mr. Rabari said, asking the State authorities to give accounts to the people of Gujarat.However, Gujarat’s Chief Secretary J.N. Singh told the media that the State government would ensure that there was no drinking water crisis during summer.Earlier, Congress leader and member of the Rajya Sabha, Ahmed Patel, wrote to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani expressing concerns over the next season’s crops in the absence of water from Narmada.
A CPI(Maoist) cadre, carrying a reward of ₹4 lakh on his head, surrendered before the Angul district police in Odisha as the banned outfit did not approve of his ‘love affair’ with a woman cadre.Dayanand alias Chhotu Ganju, a section commander in the Sambalpur-Deogarh-Sundargarh division, and the woman cadre, Jali Dehury, left the Maoist outfit and returned to mainstream.Last week, one Kunu Dehury, a divisional committee secretary of Sambalpur-Deogarh-Sundargarh division of CPI(Maoist), had laid down his arms before the Sambalpur district police.“Dayanand, who hails from Ranchi in Jharkhand, was involved in 15 high-profile cases,” said Mitrabhanu Mahapatra, Superintendent of Police, Angul.Dayanand had escaped from the Chaibasa jail of Jharkhand in 2015. He had ransacked a forest beat house at Chhotkei in Satkosia Gorge sanctuary. The government had declared ₹4 lakh reward on his head. Jali, who is from Angul district, had joined the outfit in 2017.Meanwhile, in Nuapada, a former sarpanch of Bhainsadani panchayat, Hira Singh Majhi, was shot dead by Maoists. The banned outfit had alleged that Hira Singh was involved in a number of fraud cases.
The Odisha government is setting up a world-class interpretation centre at Dangamal near Bhitarkanika National Park to showcase its efforts in protecting crocodiles and preserving its rich mangrove diversity.The project, which has been approved under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, will be taken up at an estimated cost of ₹3 crore.Environment learning“We plan to develop the centre both as a tourist attraction and a place for students to learn about the environment. Experts are being consulted for adding value to the project,” said Susanta Nanda, project director of ICZMP, Odisha.Bhitarkanika, one of the State’s finest biodiversity hotspots, receives close to one lakh visitors every year. The tourist inflow has seen an increase lately.The park is famous for its green mangroves, migratory birds, turtles, estuarine crocodiles and countless creeks. It is said to house 70% of the country’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.Bio-shieldIn 1999 when coastal Odisha was battered by Super Cyclone, the rich mangrove forests had then acted as a bio-shield. There was very little impact of the cyclone in the mangrove-forested regions.In fact, Kalibhanjdia Island spread over 8.5 square km, a place in Bhitarkanika, has attracted the attention of foreign scientists as its possesses 70% of the total mangrove species of the world.
Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), and more than 100 of his supporters were detained here and in other parts of Gujarat on Sunday before he could go on a hunger strike. Mr. Patel had announced a day-long fast in protest against the denial of permission to hold a rally on August 25 to mark the third anniversary of the Patidar agitation for reservation. The police detained him while he and his supporters were on their way to Nikol for the protest.The police said Mr. Patel did not have the permission for the protest. The Ahmedabad municipal corporation had cancelled it. He then said he would fast inside a parked car.Following Mr. Patel’s detention, PAAS supporters blocked roads in Surat, Rajkot and other parts of Gujarat, demanding the release of their leader.“We have assured the authorities that the protest will not affect law and order and will be observed on Gandhian principles of non-violence. But they seem to be helpless in allowing permission even for a peaceful protest,” Mr. Patel said. “Everyone has a right to agitate in a constitutional way but in Gujarat, the BJP government prevents us from mobilising or agitating. We are deprived of our rights by the BJP government but we will not sit quietly; we will fight and win,” he tweeted.
Over 2,000 km of roads, streets and footpaths in Delhi have been cleared of encroachments till August 31, the Delhi Development Agency informed the Supreme Court on Friday.But the statistic, instead of impressing the Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur, further alarmed it about the impunity with which encroachments mushroom in the National Capital.“That is about the distance from Delhi to Mumbai… Now, will we in the future see encroachments cover the distance from Delhi to Kanyakumari?” Justice Lokur asked the DDA.The Bench noted in its order that the fact that encroachments had consumed 2,280.43 km of public space, before they were demolished in the sealing drive, was a cause of “distress”.The court is monitoring the progress of sealing operations against illegal constructions in Delhi.The court even threatened to summon the DDA Vice-Chairperson in person for a “chat” after reading a recent report from the Sealing Monitoring Committee, which blamed various government agencies, including the DDA, for “shrinking away from duty”. The committee, Justice Lokur read out loudly from the report, said the agencies were simply not co-operating.The panel said it was not getting adequate support from the government agencies and was facing constraints to such an extent that it was not able to comply with the court’s orders.“Obviously, somebody, builders and others like them, are putting pressure on you (government agencies). You have to work for all the people of Delhi and not just some sections of the people,” Justice Lokur addressed the government side.Action taken reportThe action taken report submitted in the Supreme Court showed that 844.33 km of encroachments were cleared in the North Delhi Municipal Corporation area. Another 811.01 km was cleared of illegal constructions in south Delhi. The area of encroachments cleared in east Delhi is 601.2 km and by New Delhi Municipal Council is 11 km.
Against the backdrop of a growing schism among Maratha community leaders agitating for a quota, Suresh Patil, one of the supposed convenors of the ‘Maratha Kranti Morcha’, floated his own political on Thursday with the sole aim of securing reservation for the Maratha community. However, the launch, which took place at the historic Raireshwar Temple in Bhor taluk, 85 km from Pune, has come under fire from other leaders within the Morcha who are strongly opposed to the formation of any political party to press for reservation demands.Mr. Patil named his party the ‘Maharashtra Kranti Sena’ after caving in to pressure from other Morcha coordinators who have issued appeals to community members not to support any political party using the word ‘Maratha’ in its name. He also claimed the backing of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Udayanraje Bhosale, an important Maratha leader from SataraMr. Patil further said the nascent party would contest in five seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.Leaders within the Maratha Kranti Morcha and the Sakal Maratha Samaj — the two umbrella outfits spearheading the quota agitation — distanced themselves from Mr. Patil’s new party hours after its launch.Morcha coordinators from Mumbai, led by Mahesh Rane, protested near the Raireshwar Temple, while other Maratha community leaders from Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad among other districts in the State disclaimed Mr. Patil’s association with the two umbrella organizations that have played a critical role in mobilizing the community in its political demands.They dubbed Mr. Patil as an agent provocateur, acting on behalf of the ruling party and accused him of sowing discord within the pro-quota agitation before the elections.“He [Mr. Patil] is nothing but an agent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party who has been deliberately unleashed with the objective to break the Maratha agitation for reservation,” said Mr. Rane, speaking to The Hindu.Remarking on Mr. Patil’s “close ties” with senior BJP leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Shantaram Kunjir, a Morcha coordinator from Pune said that Mr. Patil’s contribution had been “minimal” throughout the quota agitation movement that had been characterized by collective decision-making.“Right from the start, we were resolute that the ‘Maratha Kranti Morcha’ will not transform into a political outfit lead by individuals trying to hog the limelight and seek political gains,” Mr. Kunjir said, pointing out that the Maratha agitation had always been unique in the sense that it had no formal political leader or political party at its helm.In Nashik, Morcha leaders accused Mr. Patil of piggybacking on the movement’s popularity for selfish gains.Praveen Gaikwad, a prominent community leader, said that the move [of floating a political party] would benefit the ruling BJP government as it sought to isolate and divide the Maratha community.Not a firstThis is not the first instance where the agitation has been riven by factionalismEarlier, Abasaheb Patil, another prominent Morcha coordinator, had gone on an indefinite strike in Parli in Beed district and had attempted to declare Parli as the future ‘nerve-center’ to decide the course of the agitation — a move which did not sit well with the other leaders.After staging 58 gargantuan muk morchas (silent rallies) that shook Maharashtra in their sweep and magnitude since August 2016, the Morcha had called for an intensification of its agitation on the reservation issue in June this year. However, the rifts within the leadership have come into sharp relief especially as the protests, no longer ‘silent’ in nature, turned steadily violent and aggressive.On July 30, Chakan MIDC in Pune witnessed an unprecedented bout of violence following a shutdown call issued by the Morcha.Likewise, the August 9 Maharashtra ‘bandh’ called by the Morcha saw agitators go on a vandalism spree in Aurangabad district’s industrial hub in Waluj, damaging property in more than 60 firms and plants amounting to more than ₹20 crore.While a section of the Morcha coordinators have warned of resuming an indefinite protest from December 1 if the State government failed to grant a quota to the Maratha community, there appears to be no consensus on decision-making within the Morcha leadership.
About 4.5 lakh of the 40,07,707 people excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens in Assam have reapplied for inclusion in the list.Simultaneously, the authorities have received 175 applications challenging the inclusion of names of suspected foreigners in the NRC meant for bona fide residents of the State.The complete draft of the Supreme Court-monitored NRC was published on July 30. It included the names of 2.9 crore of the total 3.29 crore applicants. Claims, objections round The claims and objections round of the exercise began on September 25 and is scheduled to end on December 15. Officials associated with the exercise, seeking anonymity, said the pace of submitting applications for inclusion is expected to pick up before the window of opportunity closes. “A month ago, only 1.02 lakh people had submitted their claims form with relevant documents,” an official said.One of the reasons for the low turnout of applications is believed to be the delay by the government in setting a standard operating procedure for the disposal of claims and objections. The apex court, too, had taken time to allow five documents that State NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela sought to be scrapped from the initial list of 15 documents to be submitted by the applicants.These five documents, allowed on November 1, are the 1951 NRC, electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971, citizenship certificate, refugee registration certificate, and ration card. March 24, 1971 is the cut-off date for detecting and deporting illegal migrants, as per the Assam Accord of 1985.Decision on GorkhasThe Assam government has decided to stop marking members of the Gorkha community as suspected foreigners and referring them to Foreigners Tribunals. The government will also move the Gauhati High Court for relief to members of the community whose cases are pending with the tribunals, officials said.The move follows a circular the Assam government received from the Ministry of Home Affairs saying that Gorkhas who are citizens of India or who have Nepalese documents cannot be referred to Foreigners Tribunals to prove their citizenship.According to All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union president Prem Tamang, more than 20,000 Gorkhas have been wrongfully marked as D-voters despite having all documents. “Some 1,50,000 Gorkhas have also been left out of the draft NRC because of various reasons, including the D-voter tag,” he said.
A local court in Ahmedabad on Tuesday framed charges against Patidar leader Hardik Patel and two others in a sedition case filed against them in connection with the violence that broke out during the community’s quota agitation in 2015.Sessions court judge D.P. Mahida framed charges against Hardik Patel, Dinesh Bambhania and Chirag Patel under Indian Penal Code Sections 124 (A) for sedition, 120 (B) for criminal conspiracy and others.Mr. Bambhania and Mr. Chirag Patel are no more a part of Mr. Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti that led the 2015 agitation.After framing the charges the court posted the matter for hearing on January 29. If the trial culminates in conviction, the charges carry maximum sentence of life imprisonment.‘Politically motivated’ “We will fight the case. This is a politically motivated case filed against us at the behest of the BJP government in Gujarat,” said Mr. Hardik Patel after the charges were read out to the accused during the court proceedings.The sedition case was filed by the Ahmedabad police in 2015 and the chargesheet was filed in January 2016, contending that the accused indulged in activities which were subject to be charged under sedition and also conspiracy and treason.However, the Gujarat HC dropped Section 121 (A) of the IPC pertaining to waging war against the state. This section attracts capital punishment if the accused is convicted.The chargesheet stated that Mr. Patel and his aides reportedly incited and instigated the Patidar community members, particularly youth, to resort to violence as part of a conspiracy to press their demand for quota for the community.The police claimed that their activities as part of the quota agitation led to large-scale riots across the State and forced the authorities to impose curfew and even call the Army to restore normalcy in the affected areas.
The Congress government in Rajasthan has amended the Lokayukta Act to reduce the Lokayukta’s tenure from eight years to five years. The decision has led to an abrupt end of the term of the present Lokayukta, Justice Sajjan Singh Kothari, who has completed six years in office.The previous BJP regime had extended Justice Kothari’s tenure by three years by amending the Rajasthan Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta Act, 1973, through an Ordinance. The move came shortly before Justice Kothari’s five-year tenure was to end.The notification reversing the BJP government’s decision was issued here on Thursday after Governor Kalyan Singh gave his assent to the new Ordinance. The Ordinance stated that the Lokayukta “shall be deemed to have demitted the office with effect from [its] commencement”.Justice Kothari, a former Judge of the Rajasthan HC, was sworn in the Lokayukta on March 25, 2013, during the then Ashok Gehlot regime. He probed the Mathur Commission’s files related to the alleged corruption cases during Vasundhara Raje’s first tenure as the CM and recommended disciplinary action against 25 public servants.
Four Naxals were gunned down in an encounter with security forces on Tuesday in the insurgency-hit Sukma district in Chhattisgarh, police said.The encounter took place around 6 AM in a forest in the Chintalnar police station area, Deputy Inspector General (anti-Naxal operations) Sundarraj P. told PTI.An elite unit of the CRPF’s Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) was cordoning off the forest area near Karkanguda village, around 500 km away from the state capital, when a group of Naxals started firing on them, leading to a gun-battle, he said.In the encounter, four Naxals were killed.One INSAS rifle and two .303 rifles were recovered from the spot, he said.Further details were awaited, he added.Anti-Naxal operations have been intensified in the forests of Bastar division in view of the Lok Sabha elections.Chhattisgarh will vote in three phases on April 11, April 18 and April 23. Sukma district is a part of the Bastar Lok Sabha constituency which will go to poll in the first phase in the State.
Eight passengers, including a minor and two women, were killed and 30 injured when a privately-operated bus rammed into a tanker on the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida on Friday morning, officials said. The bus was en route to Delhi from U.P.’s Jalaun district.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath condoled the deaths, while top officials of Gautam Buddh Nagar, including District Magistrate B.N. Singh and police chief Vaibhav Krishna, rushed to meet the victims in hospital.“I am saddened by the demise of eight people in a bus accident in Greater Noida today. Praying for the peace of the departed souls and strength to their families. Also wishing speedy recovery to the passengers injured in the accident,” Mr. Adityanth tweeted. Police Circle Officer, Jewar, Sharat Chandra Sharma said, “Eight people were killed and 30 injured in the incident. The victims were rushed to the nearby Kailash Hospital in Jewar. The speeding bus rammed into a tanker which was moving relatively slowly.”“The exact cause of the incident is yet to be confirmed, but prima facie it appears the driver was drowsy. The tanker was moving at a slower pace and the speeding bus could have comfortably overtaken it, but instead rammed into it,” Mr. Sharma said. The deceased have been identified as bus driver Mahesh Kumar (48), helper Bandu (25), passengers Vineeta (32), Arun (42), Asad (12), Suman (35) and Vishwanath Tiwari (75).
The Bharatiya Janta Party on Sunday announced the names of its remaining two candidates for the Lok Sabha election from Haryana, which is scheduled to go to the polls on May 12.The party has decided to field Brijendera Singh from the Hisar parliamentary constituency while Arvind Sharma – an ex-Congress MP, who recently joined the BJP – will contest from the Rohtak seat. Pitted against HoodaMr. Sharma is pitted against sitting Congress MP Deepender Singh Hooda, son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda.Brijendera Singh is the son of Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Birender Singh, who after the announcement of his son’s candidature offered to resign from the Cabinet and the Rajya Sabha.Mr. Birender Singh told reporters in New Delhi that he has intimated party president Amit Shah regarding his resignation offer. He said that the BJP is against “dynastic politics” and he wants to clearly send this message to the people.Brijendra Singh said he supports and respects his father’s decision but at the same time, “it puts more responsibility on my shoulders”. The bureaucrat-turned-politician sees similarities between his previous job and his future assignment, saying the purpose of both is to serve people, the State and the country. He felt that in politics there was a more direct connect with the people and said that an MP’s vision should not be limited to his constituency, but should extend to the whole country.On the legacy of his great grandfather, Sir Chottu Ram, he said it was not just limited to Haryana. “Since childhood, I was impacted by his ideology,” he said. Birender Singh had a 47-year-long political career, of which he spent 42 years serving the Congress. He said he would work to strengthen the BJP further. He will be campaigning for Brijendra and other BJP candidates in Haryana, Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.‘Voluntary retirement’ Asked if his son had taken voluntary retirement, Birender Singh said: “He has applied for it.” The BJP had last week announced the names of eight candidates for Haryana, which has a total of 10 Lok Sabha constituencies. The BJP currently has seven MPs from Haryana.(With PTI inputs)
In the backdrop of the acute water crisis gripping Maharashtra, environmental groups, in conjunction with the local administration, have embarked on a unique initiative to rejuvenate ancient water sources of the famed pilgrim town of Alandi, 28 km from Pune.The project aims at rejuvenating 52 puratan kundas or ancient water reservoirs located around Alandi which is the birthplace of Dnyaneshwar, the 13th Century saint, poet and philosopher and one of the pivotal figures of the Bhakti movement in medieval India.This initiative is being carried out by All World Gayatri Pariwar (AWGP), an NGO, in conjunction with the city-based Biospheres, and the Rotary Club of Pune.With Alandi’s residents struggling with water scarcity, this initiative aims at rejuvenating these extremely polluted kundas while conserving the town’s natural water heritage and ecologically reviving the depleted groundwater table.“Quite apart from the intense religiosity and spiritual sanctity of this place is an important environmental and social significance to this project. Given the paucity of water in Maharashtra and with natural resources depleting at an alarming rate, the rationale is to conserve our natural water heritage,” Sachin Punekar, founder-president of Biospheres, told The Hindu.Dr. Punekar said that once these reservoirs were cleaned, people could use them as alternative potable water sources and other purposes as in earlier times.“The ancient name of Alandi was ‘Alankapuri’. So we see this initiative as a journey from Alandi to Alankapuri by restoring its ancient environmental heritage,” said Shailendra Patel of the AWGP, urging the State government to bestow natural heritage status on such patches of land and conserve them.Since times immemorial, the water in these reservoirs was used not only for drinking and other purposes but also had medicinal uses.“However, the aura of holiness associated with these kundas has long disappeared as people now use them to dump sewage and solid waste. Coupled with the flow of effluents, a floating population of 25,000 only adds to the pollution which gets worse during the ‘wari’ season where more than a lakh pilgrims end up dirtying these reservoirs,” observes Dr. Punekar.Near Alandi lies a dense grove at Siddhabet, sited on the confluence of the Kuberganga and Indrayani rivers. This grove is home to the ‘wisdom tree’ or Ajaanvruksha (Ehretia laevis) where Saint Dnyaneshwar is believed to have taken his samadhi in 1296 CE at the tender age of 21.The abhangas (devotional poetry) of the poet-saints Eknath and Dnyaneshwar speak of an increase in one’s knowledge after chewing the leaves of this tree.A number of live springs which form the water source for these ancient reservoirs originate in these groves which is rich in biodiversity.Pointing out to the significance of this grove, Dr. Punekar says the grove, with its strong historic-religious association, acts as a natural groundwater recharge for a number of these ancient reservoirs or kundas.“This project also aims to conserve such groves around temple towns that are rich in biodiversity, but are reeling under the onslaught of urbanisation. With such strong associations with Dnyaneshwar’s life and work, the key to preserving the grove and cleaning the kundas is sensitising people by making them aware of their spiritual heritage,” Dr. Punekar said, adding that it was essential to address the problem of cleaning the entire Bhima river basin (whose tributary is the Indrayani river) to rejuvenate these water springs and kundas.“It is imperative to preserve the hillocks around Alandi and Dehu where these groves are sited. This natural water heritage has to be preserved for future security of the livestock in this area as well,” he said.Dr. Punekar said the need of the hour was to secure these natural water resources through proper monitoring after the environmental groups had finished cleaning the reservoirs.“The council will aim at conserving these water sources which can certainly function as alternative sources to tide over the crisis in times of drought,” Sameer Bhumkar, CEO of Alandi Municipal Council, told The Hindu.However, he pointed out that there were formidable obstacles to be surmounted.“The municipal council is already short-staffed. We will require the support of NGOs to maintain these stretches. The task of cleaning and then conserving these kundas is an uphill one requiring the participation and cooperation of the locals,” he said, adding that the historical and ecological significance of these water bodies needed to be stressed upon.
Your dentist told you to avoid sweets, but you may actually be able to fight tooth decay by sucking on candy—if it’s laced with the right dead bacteria. In a new study, volunteers who consumed such candies lowered the levels of cavity-causing bacteria in their saliva, presumably because the dead bacteria tie up the living ones, which are then swallowed.The surfaces of our teeth teem with millions of bacteria. They churn out acid after meals, etching away at each tooth’s enamel. If unchecked by regular cleaning, these microbes eventually carve a hole, or cavity, in the enamel that a dentist must drill and fill. One group of bacteria, known as mutans streptococci, is the prime perpetrator. Researchers already knew about a strain of “good” bacteria called Lactobacillus paracasei found in fermented milk called kefir that can bind with mutans streptococci in saliva. Previous research demonstrated that this bacterial latching can reduce the number of cavities in rats.Now, Christine Lang, a microbiologist at ORGANOBALANCE, a biotech firm based in Berlin, and colleagues have shown that L. paracasei reduces the amount of mutans streptococci in the saliva of people. The researchers tested the saliva of 60 volunteers for mutans streptococci. Then, some participants ate mint candies infused with L. paracasei that the scientists had killed with heat. In the double-blind study, other volunteers sucked on bacteria-free mints that tasted exactly the same. The team took another saliva sample after the first round of candies. Each volunteer had another three candies that day and one more the next morning before giving a final sample of spit.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)About three-quarters of the volunteers given bacteria-laced candies had fewer mutans streptococci in their saliva than they had just the day before, the team reports this month in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins. About 60% of the volunteers who ate unaltered mints lowered their bacterial loads, an insignificant change that could be explained by their mere participation in the study, the researchers suggest.The candies target mutans streptococci when chewing or brushing dislodges the bacteria from the surface of a tooth. A sugar structure on the surface of the L. paracasei, which isn’t damaged when scientists kill the bacteria, hooks onto free-floating mutans streptococci and prevents those cells from returning to teeth, the researchers hypothesize. The volunteer then swallows or spits out the new bacterial buddies, Lang explains. Although some bad bacteria remain in the mouth, L. paracasei can get rid of enough mutans streptococci to lower the risk of developing cavities, the researchers maintain. “This is a completely different way to think about bacteria,” Lang says. “We don’t want to kill them. We just want to move them.”Cavity-busting candies are plausible, but David Beighton, an oral microbiologist at King’s College London and editor of the journal Caries Research, says he’s not convinced. A complex stew of bacteria creates cavities, Beighton notes. It’s possible that a probiotic bacteria, combined with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, could reduce cavities, he notes. But researchers would need to test thousands of people over at least 2 years to demonstrate effectiveness across a population, Beighton says.A version of that test may be going on now in Croatia. Residents of the former Yugoslav republic can purchase fluoride toothpaste supplemented with L. paracasei. Manufacturer Plidenta—a company affiliated with BASF, the world’s largest chemical company—has followed 50 toothpaste users for just 4 weeks to date. Results show that the toothpaste cut mutans streptococci concentrations in the majority of users, according to preliminary research from the University of Zagreb. Lang says ORGANOBALANCE, which is not working with Plidenta, is conducting additional research to potentially expand the market for bacteria-bearing products.
Detailed analyses of Chinese fossils may have isolated the point on the reptile family tree where feathered dinosaurs began evolving into warm-blooded birds. In a new study, researchers looked at tiny pigment bodies known as melanosomes in the skin, hair, and feathers of 181 modern species (including mammals, birds, and several types of reptiles) and in the fossils of 13 species that lived in what is now China between 120 million and 160 million years ago (including lizards, turtles, dinosaurs, and winged reptiles known as pterosaurs). In most groups of reptiles, melanosomes typically had a slightly ovoid shape (as shown in upper right, a close view of melanosomes from a fossil of the dinosaur Beipiaosaurus [upper left]; black blob depicts average melanosome shape, and scale bar represents 1 micrometer). Dinosaurs that sported simple filaments known as “dinofuzz” also had ovoid melanosomes, the team found. But in a group called maniraptoran dinosaurs (which sported modern-style feathers like today’s birds), melanosomes often had a wide variety of shapes, including the vastly elongated structures seen at lower right (from the fossils of a yet-to-be-described bird [lower left]), the researchers report today in Nature. Implications of the finding aren’t yet clear, the researchers say. However, because a wide variety of melanosome shapes is seen today only in warm-blooded creatures such as birds and mammals, the burst of melanosome diversity among early maniraptoran dinosaurs may chronicle the point at which several critical biological characteristics in the lineage fundamentally changed, including the shift toward warm-bloodedness. That boost in metabolism, plus associated changes in reproduction and feeding habits, may have set the stage for avian success.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)