Jammu & Kashmir leaders in huddle ahead of PM’s meet


The prime minister’s all-party meeting with Jammu and Kashmir leaders on June 24 is likely to focus on building a consensus to take the democratic process forward by agreeing to a roadmap to hold assembly elections, starting with participation by all parties in the delimitation exercise, those familiar with the issues told ET. The issue of statehood is also expected to be taken up for discussions.

The commission has earlier held discussions with political parties from the state which was boycotted by former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah, among others. Abdullah is presently the chairman of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).

PAGD was formed in October last year as an electoral alliance between the several regional political parties in J&K aimed at restoring special status along with Article 35A of the erstwhile state.

The Centre is also likely to reach out to political parties for their analysis of the Covid-19 situation in the hill state, vaccination of residents and the upcoming Amarnath Yatra, added officials.

The J&K administration said they have vaccinated 76% of its population and in four districts, the vaccination percentage was 100%. On development projects, the Centre is likely to announce the sanction of a scheme for industrial development notified in February this year. The planned scheme has a total financial outlay of ₹28,400 crore up to 2037 and provides four types of incentives –– capital investment incentive, capital interest subvention, goods & service tax linked incentive and working capital interest subvention.

On Saturday, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla invited all 14 political leaders of the erstwhile state for the meeting and asked them to present a Covid-19 negative report. Four former deputy CMs of the erstwhile state — Congress leader Tara Chand, People’s Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig, and BJP leaders Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta — too have been invited to the meet.

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Karnataka, Maharashtra agree to resolve water sharing issues


Bengaluru: Karnataka and Maharashtra on Saturday decided to have better coordination and communication regarding flood management and water supply in the drought-hit regions of both the states.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and state Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a high level meeting with Maharashtra Water Resource Minister Jayant Patil here to resolve the water related issues between the two states.

 

Addressing reporters after the meet, Yediyurappa said both the states have agreed to share real time data on rainfall and water release from reservoirs both in Krishna and Bhima basin in order to manage the floods effectively.

“We discussed various issues regarding flood management in Krishna and Bheema river basins. It was decided to have better coordination and communication between two states at ministerial level, Secretaries level and at the field level,” the CM said.

It was resolved that a technical team will work towards getting four TMC water from Maharashtra and in return release water to the drought hit areas of the western state, the Chief Minister said.

 

The two states also agreed to complete the Dudhganga dam project at the earliest and Maharashtra will also fund it.

“Maharashtra will also supply enough funds for the completion of Dudhganga dam,” Patil said in the press conference.

Pointing to the shortage of water during April and May in the Krishna basin region, Bommai said since 2013, Maharashtra has been charging money for the release of water to the state.

However, it has been agreed upon that Karnataka will not pay but will supply water to the drought-hit Jath taluk of Maharashtra during the rainy season.

 

For the past three years, the state has been witnessing flood in Krishna and Bhima rivers following downpour in its catchment areas in Maharashtra.

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Hit by COVID-19, Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway work likely to continue till Dec. 2022


Shortage of workers, diversion of industrial gas cylinders used for welding caused the delay

Work on the much-awaited 10-lane Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway project is expected to be completed only by December 2022, owing to COVID-19.

After experiencing delay during last year’s lockdown, the second wave of COVID-19 too saw many workers returning to the safety of their native villages. Besides, work on certain stretches had been hit by the emergency diversion of industrial gas cylinders, which are used for welding purposes, to meet the sudden spike in demand for oxygen to COVID-19 patients.

The work on the 117-km long expressway project had begun in two packages – about 56 km-long route from Bengaluru to Nidaghatta in Maddur in May 2019 and 61 km-long route from Nidaghatta to Mysuru in December 2019. Buildcon Limited, which has been entrusted with the project, had been given a deadline of 30 months for completion.

In view of the pace of work on the project last year, officials had anticipated the expressway to be ready by early 2022, though the deadline for completion was September 2022. “Now, it looks like the project work will continue till December 2022”, said an official with the National Highways Division of Public Works Department (PWD), who is overseeing the project.

While work had come to a grinding halt for almost two to three months during the first wave last year and progressed at a snail’s pace for a couples of weeks even after the lockdown was lifted due to labour scarcity, the second wave of COVID-19 now has also forced several labourers to either stay away from work for reasons such as testing positive and being advised isolation. “Some workers had even returned to their villages”, the official said.

The officials, however, are hoping to soon tide over the crisis they are facing on the labour front. “The supply of industrial gas will also be resumed after the situation eases”, they said optimistically.

Around 8,000 workers are deployed for work on the 117 km-long stretch between Panchamukhi Temple near the junction of the highway and NICE road in Bengaluru and Columbia Asia Hospital near the junction of the highway and Ring Road in Mysuru.

The expressway comprises a three-lane carriage-way on either side of the median, besides a two-lane service road on either side of the access-controlled main carriage-way. The project also includes construction of three elevated corridors including one on the outskirts of Bengaluru besides by-pass roads at Bidadi, Maddur, Ramanagaram, Channapatna, Mandya and Srirangapatna.

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To boost tourism in Ayodhya, Cabinet okays bus station and airport road expansion projects


The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Monday decided to build a bus station of international standard for tourists in Ayodhya at a cost of Rs 400 crore, and expand the road leading to the proposed international airport near the temple town.

The decisions were taken at the first physical meeting of the Cabinet since the second wave of Covid-19 began, and came days after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda in New Delhi amid speculation of a state Cabinet reshuffle or expansion.

State Cabinet minister and government spokesperson Sidhartha Nath Singh told reporters, “The Ram temple is being constructed in Ayodhya, and it is an issue of belief. As preparations are being done for the construction of the grand temple of Ram, the focus is especially on transportation facilities.”

Singh said about nine acres of land available with the Department of Culture would be transferred free of cost to the Department of Transport to construct the bus station. It might be built on a public-private partnership model at Ayodhya Dham, near the “Sanskriti Manch” that is under construction at present.

“The construction of this project will facilitate pilgrims and tourists. The bus station will connect people coming from different places, including different parts of the state, and provide better connectivity to other parts of the state such as Gorakhpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Ballia, Azamgarh, Lucknow, Kanpur etc,” he added.

The Cabinet also relaxed norms to expand about 1.5 km of the road connecting the town to the proposed international airport. It will be a four-lane road that will be able to sustain traffic of a minimum of 18,000 passenger cars. The norm was relaxed to clear the way for the expansion as the traffic on the road at present is not much. The project will cost Rs 20 crore and the land required was available with the education department. The Cabinet had decided to provide it to the Department of Public Works for free, said Singh.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet approved a proposal to set up Development Authorities in places such as Gorakhpur, Prayagraj, Ayodhya, Agra, and Varanasi to speedily improve their tourism infrastructure facilities. The Cabinet also approved the construction of a 120-MLD sewage treatment plant at the Ghaziudeen Haider Canal in Lucknow to “help clean river Gomti”, said Singh. It is estimated to cost Rs 297.38 crore, and will be built as part of the Centre’s AMRUT scheme. While the Central government will pay Rs 88 crore of the estimated cost, the state’s share will be about Rs 129 crore. The local civic body will spend about Rs 79 crore.

The Cabinet also cleared projects worth Rs 284 for Prayagraj, including the construction of a railway overbridge-cum-flyover to ease traffic congestion. The four-lane overbridge will be built near the Subedarganj railway station, while another two-lane flyover will be constructed on the road leading from Chaifkata to Kanpur.

 

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7 Delectable Indian Desserts You Can Make In Under 30 Minutes


Who doesn’t love desserts? The joy one feels while digging into a delectable slice of pudding cannot be described in words. As Indians, we have a weakness for desi mithai. And when you have such a large variety to choose from, it is not humanly possible to resist devouring a few. From warm halwas to deliciously mouth-watering kheer and soft melt-in-your-mouth barfis, Indian desserts are to die for. Diets aside, we can allow ourselves the occasional cheat day to indulge in a bowl of warm halwa or take an extra helping of kheer.

If you are looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings, we have a few quick and easy recipes you must try. These are Indian desserts which will be ready in 30 minutes or less. 

7 Delectable Indian Desserts You Can Make In Under 30 Minutes:

1. Dates Barfi

It takes about 10 minutes to cook this Indian dessert. It’s decadent, wholesome, and satiating. What’s more? It doesn’t require any extra added sugar because the sweetness is derived from the dates itself. This one doesn’t need a special occasion; you can make it whenever you want something sweet but don’t want your calorie count to go haywire.

2. Kharbooje Ki Kheer

Muskmelon or kharbooje ki kheer is a unique sweet dish. To make it, you require rice paste and thick melon pulp, which is then cooked together in a creamy milk mixture. Muskmelon is rich in Vitamin A and C, and doesn’t have too many calories either, making this Indian dessert an ideal dish if you are on a low-calorie diet.

(Also Read: 10 Delicious, Sugar-Free Indian Desserts You Can Make At Home)

Enjoy the goodness of melon in the form of this yummy and quick dessert.

3. Makai Ki Galvani

It’s a gluten-free Indian dessert from Rajasthan, which can be made easily by using just four ingredients —ghee, makki flour, jaggery, and cardamom powder. The dessert is very popular among the local communities of Ghoda Ghati and Haldighati regions, and many families even serve it as festival offerings.

4. Papaya Halwa

It’s a usual festive treat, and we are fans of the halwa! Give the usual gajar ka halwa a twist and add ripe or raw papaya instead of carrot. Then garnish it with crunchy nuts, raisins, and other dry fruits, and you have a delicious dessert in under 10 minutes.

(Also Read: Payasam, Mysore Pak, Kesari Bhaat And Other South Indian Dessert Recipes That You Must Try)

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Halwa is given an interesting twist in this yummy Indian dessert.

5. Pal Khova

This is a popular South Indian recipe and the best part about it is that it’s absolutely sugar-free. You can make this easy and quick dish on any festive or another occasion at home.

6. Mawa Anjeer Barfi

Packed with crumbled mawa, cashews, almonds, and figs, this sugar-free Indian delicacy is very easy and convenient to make. It can be rustled up in less than half-hour.

(Also Read: 6 Easy Coconut-Based Indian Desserts You Must Try At Home)

anjeer ki barfi

This simple Barfi recipe will win you over! Photo Credit: NDTV Beeps

7. Red Rice Vermicelli Kheer

Kheer, a quintessential Indian dessert, is very easy to prepare. Made of red rice vermicelli, this dish is packed with the goodness of almonds and garnished with saffron strands. Make it on festivals or other special occasions, and your guests are sure to be impressed.

So, tell us which of these Indian desserts make you salivate and is on your wish list?

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Bombay HC asks Centre to look at Kerala, J&K pattern for door-to-door vaccination


The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday said the Union government should look at the door-to-door vaccination programme carried out “successfully” by Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir, and take a “sound decision” on its present policy that states door-to-door vaccination was not possible.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni noted that it was unable to understand what the Centre’s problem was in starting door-to-door vaccination when states such as Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir were already carrying out such drives.

 

Responding to a query raised by the court earlier this week, as to how a senior politician got vaccinated at his residence in Mumbai, Anil Sakhare, counsel for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on Friday said the jab was not given by the civic body.

The bench then asked additional government pleader Geeta Shastri, appearing for the Maharashtra government, about who administered the vaccine to the politician. Shastri sought a week’s time to respond.

To this, Chief Justice Datta said, “One week to take information on this? This is alarming. There is an old saying ‘You show me the man and I will show you the rule’.”

 

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking door-to-door vaccination for senior citizens above the age of 75 and persons who are specially abled, wheelchair bound or bed ridden.

The court asked how the Union government policy says door-to-door vaccination was not possible presently, when individual states such as Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir were carrying out the drive.

“How is it that individual states like Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir have introduced and are successfully doing door-to-door vaccination? What is the Centre’s comment on the Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir pattern?” the bench asked.

 

“We are not able to understand what the Centre’s problem was. Why don’t you (Union) communicate with these states and if it appeals to you, then you can ask other states also to start the same drive,” the court said, asking the government to take a “sound decision”.

The court also noted that it was very happy with the good job being done by the BMC during the pandemic and asked why the civic body was hesitant to introduce door-to-door vaccination.

To this, BMC counsel Sakhre pointed out a letter written by civic commissioner Iqbal Chahal to the Centre stating that the civic body was willing to carry out door-to-door vaccination and requested the Union government to provide guidelines for the same.

 

The bench directed Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh to take instructions from the Health Secretary of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the letter and posted the matter for further hearing on June 14.

ASG Singh told the court that the COVID-19 pandemic had a national impact and all states need to work in coordination with the Centre.

“The Centre forms guidelines and it is expected from all state governments that the guidelines are followed,” Singh said, adding that the guidelines for the vaccination drive are updated as per the prevalent situation from time to time.

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Unlocking: India states start reopening amid dip in Covid cases


India reported about 101,000 new infections on Monday and more than 2,400 deaths – far lower than the nearly 400,000 daily cases it was recording about a month ago. It has registered some 28 million cases and 349,000 deaths so far, but experts say the actual toll is far higher.

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No slowdown in decision-making in telecom market: Ericsson India


The second wave of Covid has not slowed down decision-making in the telecom market and operators are focused on managing network capacities based on a spike in data demand, with safety protocols in place, a top Ericsson India official has said.

The Swedish telecom equipment vendor said it is “fully prepared” for 5G deployment in India as and when rollouts happen, but it is for the government and policymakers to decide on the actual timelines.

Asked if the second severe wave of Covid had led to any slowdown in decision-making in the telecom market, Nitin Bansal, Managing Director of Ericsson India and Head of Network Solutions Ericsson South East Asia, Oceania and India said, “No, we have not seen that.”

“Data consumption continues, I have not seen a reduction in anything. Operators are working hard to manage capacities based on the demand. Everyone is responsible for own employees, everyone is working in a very responsible way, and whenever there is need for increased capacity, managing capacity, that is happening,” Bansal said.

Telecom services have been categorised as essential services amid Covid-induced lockdown and movement curbs across various states. Remote working and social distancing norms have driven data usage to new highs, pushing telecom operators to invest in network capacities.

Bansal said Ericsson is fully prepared for 5G deployments in India, backed by confidence arising from its global commercial agreements, and various live networks. 5G would bring a slew of opportunities for consumers and enterprise applications.

“We have worked across the globe in various countries, both with different kind of traffic profiles and different kind of spectrum. And we are ready with what is required for rolling out 5G in India,” Bansal said.

The company is optimistic about the 5G prospects in India.

“If you look at why are we so confident that 5G is needed for India, one is our consumer survey (indicating) the willingness for consumers to pay more for 5G services, as they look for robust and reliable connectivity layer,” he said.

The willingness to pay more for 5G would also translate into better Average Revenue Per User or ARPU for Indian operators.

“There is a revenue potential also which 5G brings, we have seen this globally and it is also relevant for India,” Bansal said.

A recent report by Ericsson has estimated that India can potentially have 40 million 5G users in the first year when the next-generation service is made available to them. According to Ericsson ConsumerLab report, consumers have shown willingness to pay 50 per cent more for 5G plans bundled with digital services, while they want to pay 10 per cent more for just 5G connectivity.

On whether the delay in spectrum auction timelines could dampen India’s aspirations for a robust 5G play, Bansal said, “We have seen the benefits of what 5G brings for consumers and enterprises. It is not about missing the bus, because it is an evolving technology. So, the basic needs for it are the availability of an affordable and adequate quantity of spectrum. Once that is available, we can start the rollout process”.

The exact timeline for the 5G rollout is for the regulator and government to decide, he maintained.

“We can only say, we are ready for deployments, whenever they start to happen,” Bansal said.

On the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for telecom and networking products, the company has said it is reviewing the policy and yet to take a final call.

Ericsson was the first telecom equipment vendor to start manufacturing in India, back in 1994, Bansal pointed out.

“Since then, from our facility in Pune we are catering to all requirement for supplies in India and also we started exporting both 4G and 5G gear to other countries. From a deployment and capacity of production point of view, we are fully prepared,” Bansal said.

So far as the PLI scheme is concerned, the company is “looking at the policy”.

“We will make a decision based on also the timelines for 5G auction, because when it comes to build up and capacity available in our manufacturing facility, we are okay for now,” he said.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) recently allocated spectrum to operators to start 5G trials, in the country. The trials will be conducted at various locations, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Gujarat, Hyderabad, among others, say industry sources.

Telecom operators have been allocated spectrum in 700 Mhz bands, 3.3-3.6 gigahertz (Ghz) band and 24.25-28.5 Ghz band across various locations.

The trial spectrum allocation came after the DoT, on May 4, had approved applications from Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and MTNL for conducting 5G trials without using technologies from Chinese companies.

The DoT had approved trials of 5G with Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance Jio Infocomm will be conducting trials using its own indigenous technology.

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Gold flirts with $1,900 again after US inflation ticks up


Gold reversed course and turned positive on Friday, briefly popping above the key $1,900 level, after data showed US consumer prices surged in April and boosted bullion’s appeal as an inflation hedge.

Spot gold rose 0.1% to $1,896.96 per ounce by 12:10 p.m. EDT (1610 GMT), having earlier dipped as much as 0.8%. It is on course for its fourth straight weekly gain, up 0.9%.

US gold futures were little changed at $1,898.80.

US consumer prices accelerated in the year to April, with a measure of underlying inflation blowing past the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.

“We saw a slight uptick in the personal consumption data… All these things continue to support an underlying inflationary environment that is very favourable towards gold,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

The refusal of the Federal Reserve to reduce the pace of their bond buying program or move higher on rates is also supportive for gold, although some psychological resistance at the $1,900 level and a stronger dollar is acting as a headwind, he added.

The dollar index was up, making gold expensive for other currency holders, while US yields edged lower, translating into reduced opportunity cost of holding bullion.

Investors now eye the release of US President Joe Biden’s first full budget since taking office, with reports he will seek $6 trillion in federal spending for the 2022 fiscal year.

The technicals are supportive, so any weakness in the prices will be looked at as a buying opportunity, Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist at RJO Futures said.

If the US economy recovers quickly and inflation continues to heat up, gold will be in ample demand, he added.

Elsewhere, silver fell 0.1% to $27.82 per ounce, platinum slipped 0.4%, to $1,174.63, while palladium rose 0.3% to $2,814.20.

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