Fri, 26 June 2020
Bihar IAS first bureaucrat to get J-K domicile

Timeline  Refresh

23:29   Bihar IAS first bureaucrat to get J-K domicile
Navin Kumar Choudhary, a senior IAS officer from Bihar, has become the first bureaucrat to get domicile rights in the Union territory.

Choudhary, a 1994-batch J&K cadre officer, is currently posted as the principal secretary in the Agriculture Production Department.

He is a resident of Darbhanga district in Bihar.

Tehsildar of Bahu area, Jammu, Rohit Sharma issued him the domicile certificate on June 24.

Over 30,000 people have till now received domicile certificates online in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre changed laws to grant residency to different categories of non-residents in the Union territory.   -- PTI
23:09   Army medical teams to help provide Covid care at Shakurbasti station
Three Army medical teams, each comprising one medical officer, two nursing assistants, along with an ambulance, will be assisting authorities in providing healthcare at COVID facility on wheels at a railway station in New Delhi, officials said on Friday.

Coronavirus isolation coaches deployed in the city had received their first occupants on Wednesday, when two patients were admitted to the railways' COVID-19 care centre at the Shakur Basti station.

The Army Medical Corps will be in charge of their healthcare, Northwest District Magistrate Sandeep Mishra had said on Wednesday.

Delhi recorded 3,460 COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the tally in the city to over 77,000-mark, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 2492, authorities said.

The coaches at Shakur Basti station have been placed under a shed to block direct sunlight and fans have been provided in each coupe for optimum air circulation and better temperature control.

A reception centre has been set up at the station for administration of the coaches and the patients.

An emergency control room has also been set up at the site by the railways.

This will be manned 24/7 by the railway officials for coordinating and providing railway-related assistance.   -- PTI
23:09   Army medical teams to help provide Covid care at Shakurbasti station
Three Army medical teams, each comprising one medical officer, two nursing assistants, along with an ambulance, will be assisting authorities in providing healthcare at COVID facility on wheels at a railway station in New Delhi, officials said on Friday.

Coronavirus isolation coaches deployed in the city had received their first occupants on Wednesday, when two patients were admitted to the railways' COVID-19 care centre at the Shakur Basti station.

The Army Medical Corps will be in charge of their healthcare, Northwest District Magistrate Sandeep Mishra had said on Wednesday.

Delhi recorded 3,460 COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the tally in the city to over 77,000-mark, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 2492, authorities said.

The coaches at Shakur Basti station have been placed under a shed to block direct sunlight and fans have been provided in each coupe for optimum air circulation and better temperature control.

A reception centre has been set up at the station for administration of the coaches and the patients.

An emergency control room has also been set up at the site by the railways.

This will be manned 24/7 by the railway officials for coordinating and providing railway-related assistance.   -- PTI
22:35   First since 1989, no Hizb presence in Tral
The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday claimed that there was no presence of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists in the Tral area of Pulwama district now -- the first time since the outbreak of militancy in the Valley in 1989.

The police's claim came after three terrorists were on Friday killed in an overnight encounter with security forces in the Chewa Ular area of Tral in south Kashmir's Pulwama district.

'After Friday's #successful ops (operations), no presence of HM #terrorist in #Tral area. It has happened for first time since 1989,' Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar said in a tweet on the Kashmir zone police's official Twitter handle.

The Hizbul Mujahideen was a dominant force in Kashmir after the militancy broke out in the valley as the outfit had several thousand cadres at the peak of insurgency.

Several top commanders of the outfit, including Burhan Wani and Zakir Musa, were from the Tral area.   -- PTI
22:25   Pak national held by BSF at Rann of Kutch border
The Border Security Force (BSF) on Friday apprehended a Pakistan national from Kutch district in Gujarat for trying to enter India illegally, officials said.

He was held while trying to enter Indian territory from Pillar Number 1082 in the Rann of Kutch, a BSF release said.

Nothing suspicious has been found on him, it said, adding that a joint interrogation would be done by security agencies before he is handed over to the police.

Pakistan nationals, mainly from Sindh province, routinely get caught while trying to sneak into India.   -- PTI
21:56   Maha Covid tally tops 1.5L with 5,024 new cases
Maharashtra registered 5,024 new coronavirus cases -- highest in one day so far -- on Friday, taking the tally of cases in the state to 1,52,765, while the number of fatalities reached 7,106 with 175 new deaths.

On the other hand, 2,362 patients were discharged from hospitals, taking the number of recovered patients to 79,815, a state health department statement said.

The spike of 5,024 overtook Thursday's figure of 4,841 new cases.

Out of 175 COVID-19 deaths reported on Friday, 91deaths occurred in the last 48 hours while other fatalities had taken place earlier, the statement said.

The recovery rate in the state is 52.25 per cent and case fatality rate is 4.65 per cent.

So far 8,71,875 people have been tested for the virus in the state and there are 65,844 active cases.   -- PTI
21:28   Girl injured in Pak firing along LoC in Poonch
A 17-year-old girl was injured after Pakistani troops fired at her when she was grazing cattle along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on Friday, officials said.

Nazia Kouser was grazing cattle ahead of the border fencing along the LoC in the Challerri area of Shahpur sector when the Pakistan army violated ceasefire and fired at her around 6 pm, they said.

She was initially treated at a hospital in Poonch and later referred to Jammu for specialised treatment, the officials said.

District Development Commissioner, Poonch, Rahul Yadav confirmed the incident and said an immediate assistance of Rs 10,000 has been given to the girl's family.   -- PTI
21:10   DRDO develops virus obliterating conveyor for baggage disinfection
A virus obliterating conveyor for the disinfection of baggage has been developed by Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), the Kochi based laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The automated stand-alone system uses UV bath for disinfecting baggage and other such items within seconds.

The disinfector is based on a roller based conveyor carriage that carries baggage through a chamber equipped with accurately calibrated and optimally placed UVC sources.

'The sensing mechanism of the system automatically detects the entry of bags and powers on the UV illumination,' read a release.

The system has been specifically designed to irradiate the body of the luggage in all directions and disinfect entire surface of the baggage as per the required intensity level and exposure time and has inbuilt features for ensuring prevention of direct UV exposure outside.

This baggage disinfector can be installed at airports, railway stations, metro stations, bus stations and institutional gates.

NPOL has developed the system in partnership with Apollo Microsystems Limited, Hyderabad. -- ANI
20:41   Chinese actions damaged trust: Indian envoy
The only way to resolve military standoff along Line of Actual Control is for China to stop erecting new structures, says Indian envoy to China Vikram Misri.

"China's claim of sovereignty over Galwan completely 'untenable'; such exaggerated claims are not going to help," he said.

China's attempt to alter status quo on ground can have 'ripples and repercussions' in broader bilateral relationship, Misri said.

He said that maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border is sine qua non for progress in the rest of bilateral relationship.

Actions taken by Chinese forces on the ground have damaged considerable trust in bilateral relationship, Misri said.   -- PTI
20:20   Delhi schools to remain closed till July 31
Schools in Delhi will continue to remain closed till July 31 in view of the COVID-19 situation, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced on Friday.

"Reopening schools is not merely a technical work, rather, it is a creative work that would give schools a new and bigger role. Schools will continue to be closed in Delhi till July 31," Sisodia said.

Sisodia, who is also the Education Minister, made the announcement after a meeting with officials of the Directorate of Education (DoE) on how to reopen schools. -- PTI
19:36   3 people stabbed to death in Glasgow city centre
Three people are believed to have been stabbed to death in a stairwell to a hotel in Glasgow city centre, the BBC is reporting. It is understood that a suspect was shot dead by police. The Scottish Police Federation have confirmed a police officer was stabbed. Armed police remain at the scene outside the Park Inn in West George Street.A statement from Police Scotland said the situation was "contained" and there was no danger to the general public.

Police in Glasgow say emergency services are currently dealing with an incident in the center of Scotland's largest city and are urging people to avoid the area. There is a heavy police presence on West George Street with more than a dozen police vehicles in attendance.

Image: A police van at the Glasgow city centre where the incident took place. Photo: Screengrab taken from a video posted on Twitter by @MillsAdele
19:26   ITC Q4 net profit rises 9.28 pc to Rs 3,926 cr; sales down 4.93 pc
ITC Ltd on Friday reported 9.28 per cent rise in its consolidated net profit to Rs 3,926.46 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31. The company had posted a net profit of Rs 3,592.80 crore during the January-March quarter of the previous fiscal, ITC said in a regulatory filing. --PTI
18:51   Covid cases likely to rise in July, August: Maha govt
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope speaks: "COVID-19 cases are expected to rise during July and August but we are working to ensure that the fatality rate does not go up. We are increasing the number of doctors and ICU beds in the state to meet the demand.  

"We're strictly following ICMR guidelines regarding COVID-19 and not hiding the number of cases or deaths. Sometimes we report some deaths of past days on a particular day due to reconciliation but it does not mean we want to hide anything.  

"A resolution has been passed in the Cabinet for availing the services of PG final year medical students in ICU wards. We are procuring important anti-viral drugs and increasing their stock in each district to ensure availability."
18:43   Cong's Abhishek Singhvi, wife, test Covid+ve
News agency PTI confirms that Congress leader and party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi has home quarantined himself after testing positive for COVID-19, sources close to him said on Friday. While he has mild symptoms like fever, the sources said, his wife has also tested positive for the virus and has isolated herself at home as per the government guidelines. 

After Singhvi tested positive, his son and other family members and staff are also being tested for the virus. 

Singhvi is the second Congress leader after Sanjay Jha to test positive for COVID-19. Jha has since recovered in Mumbai.  -- PTI
18:36   Dharavi's Covid doubling rate now 140 days
Dharavi, Mumbai's biggest slum, reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Friday, which took the area's tally to 2,218, a senior official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said. 

The doubling rate of COVID-19 cases in Dharavi has now improved to 140 days and the current growth rate of the pandemic is at 0.47 per cent, the official said. The slum's coronavirus fatality count remained unchanged at 81 as no new death case was reported in the last 24 hours, he said. 

According to the official, Dharavi now has 1,019 active cases and the number of patients discharged so far is 1,118. Spread in 2.5 square km area, Dharavi is the largest slum in Asia with a population of 6.5 lakh. -- PTI
18:27   Railways spending Rs 2 lakh on each isolation coach
The Railways on Friday said it was spending an estimated Rs 2 lakh per isolation coach for its maintenance, food and linen for patients on board and protective gear for the staff. Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said this was the budgetary estimate of the Railways for the 5,213 coaches which have been modified as isolation coaches and the money for it has already been received from the central COVID care fund. He also said so far Rs 620 crore has been sanctioned from the fund to the Ministry of Railways. 

Yadav also pointed out that it was heartening to see that movement in the reverse direction from states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal has begun with migrant workers returning to the states that they had left due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are keeping a watch on occupancy of the special trains. Very soon we will begin more special trains depending on demand from states, occupancy, the COVID situation," the chairperson said.

"It is heartening to see that the occupancy in trains from UP, Bihar, West Bengal to big cities is increasing day by day, indicating an improving economic situation,' he further said. He also said that while it may not be possible to run all regular trains in the near future given the coronavirus situation, more special trains will be introduced soon. 

Yadav said the Railways has identified 160 projects for returnee migrant workers which will generate around nine lakh mandays of work under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan in 6 states. -- PTI 
Kerala health minister KK Shailaja
Kerala health minister KK Shailaja
18:15   Kerala reports 100+ Covid cases for 8th day
150 people have been found positive for COVID-19 in Kerala today; number of active cases now stands at 1,846. There are 114 COVID-19 hotspots in the state, says a brief by the Kerala Health Minister's Office.

In fact,the state which has been heralded as a beacon to follow in routing out the virus, has been reporting over 100 COVID-19 cases for the eight consecutive days today.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said 123 new cases were confirmed out of which 84 came from abroad, 33 from other states while six contracted the disease through their contacts.

"Samples of 53 persons came back negative today taking the total number of cured in the state to 1,941. As of now, 1,59,616 people are under observation in the state out of which 2,349 people are in isolation wards of various hospitals," Vijayan told reporters after the daily COVID-19 evaluation meeting.

The chief minister also informed that nine regions in the state have been categorised as hotspots, pushing the total to 113. 
18:03   Delhi Health Minister tests -ve for Covid, to be discharged from hospital
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain has tested negative for COVID-19, the Office of Delhi Health Minister informed on Friday. "Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain tests negative for COVID-19, to be discharged from hospital today," said Office of Delhi Health Minister.

Earlier on Sunday, Jain's condition improved, following the plasma therapy that was administered to him in a bid to treat coronavirus.Last week, Jain's condition deteriorated and he was put on oxygen support after his lung infection increased.

He was admitted to a hospital in northeast Delhi on June 15 after he complained of breathlessness and high fever. He had tested positive for COVID-19 on June 17. -- ANI
18:00   Kanimozhi meets kin of men who died in police custody
Tamil Nadu: DMK MP Kanimozhi today met family of the man and his son, who were allegedly arrested for violating COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Tuticorin on June 19 and died in police custody. She handed over Rs 25 lakh, a letter from DMK chief MK Stalin and assured complete support.

The deceased had kept their cell phone shop open on June 19 when policemen patrolling the area asked them to close the shop, leading to a verbal argument. Following that both the father and son were beaten up at the police station and then lodged in the sub-jail, say their family.

The son was taken to the Kovilpatti GH hospital, where he died and the next day the father also died in hospital. 

Local traders claiming that the two shopkeepers died due to police torture in custody and sat on a protest.
17:50   India should hit back at China not Cong: Adhir
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury Friday asked the government to prepare to hit back at China and recapture the territory lost in the Galwan valley instead of targeting the main opposition party to hide its own "strategic blunders". 

He claimed China was taking advantage of the Modi government's "indecision" over retaliation. Chowdhury also dared the BJP leadership to substantiate its charge that the Congress party had ever compromised national security, and said he will resign as MP if the allegations are proved.

"The BJP, to hide its own failures, its own Himalayan strategic blunders, is targeting the Congress. The BJP leadership has complete disregard for history, or else they would have never said that Congress compromised national security. 

"It was the Congress led by Indira Gandhi which snatched away Siachen in 1984 by conducting operation Meghdoot, it was Congress which broke Pakistan and created Bangladesh in 1971," Chowdhury said in a video message. -- PTI
17:39   Mamata relaxes night curfew, restriction now from 10 pm to 5 am
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced that night curfew will remain in force between 10 pm and 5 am, instead of current 9 pm to 5 am, during the extended coronavirus lockdown till July 31. She also said she wants the metro services to resume from July 1, but only with 100 per cent seat occupancy, and no passenger standing.

"We have decided that (from July 1) the night curfew hours will be from 10 pm to 5 am. We also want the Metro railways to resume services from July 1, by following all the precautionary and sanitization norms and only with 100 per cent seat occupancy policy," Banerjee said.

She said the Kolkata metro railways should ensure that it is running trains without any passenger standing or coaches being overcrowded. Earlier this week, Banerjee had announced the extension of the ongoing lockdown till July 31. She also accused opposition parties of indulging in politics at the time of crisis to score political brownie points. Speaking about her party's Martyr's Day rally on July 21, Banerjee said it would be observed, but in a much different way. PTI
17:37   Scheduled intl flights suspended till July 15
The aviation regulator DGCA said on Friday it is extending the suspension of scheduled international passenger flights in the country till July 15 but added that some international scheduled services on selected routes may be permitted on a case to case basis. Scheduled international passenger flights were suspended in India on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The competent authority has decided that scheduled international commercial passenger services to or from India shall remain suspended till 2359 hrs IST of July 15, 2020," said the DGCA circular.

"However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis," said the circular by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Air India and other private domestic airlines have been operating unscheduled international repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission, which was started on May 6 by the Central government. India resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25, after a gap of two months. -- PTI
IAS officer Vini Mahajan makes history
IAS officer Vini Mahajan makes history
17:36   Punjab chief secretary shunted, Vini Mahajan becomes first woman to hold top job in state
Weeks after a showdown with two Punjab ministers, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh was on Friday replaced by Vini Mahajan, who becomes the first woman to head the bureaucracy in the state. The Indian Administrative Services officer was shunted out just ahead of his retirement next month, the move following protests by two Punjab ministers over his behaviour at a meeting. 

While Vini Mahajan, a 1987-batch IAS officer, is now the top bureaucrat in Punjab, her husband Dinkar Gupta heads the state police force as Director General of Police. Mahajan's last posting was as Additional Chief Secretary, Investment Promotion, Industries & Commerce, IT and Governance Reforms and Public Grievances, said a government statement. She also headed the state's Health Sector Response & Procurement Committee. Mahajan is currently the only Punjab cadre officer in the state empanelled to hold a Secretary's post at the Centre. -- PTI 
17:20   'Cong's Abhishek Manu Singhvi tests +ve'
Rajdeep Sardesai@sardesairajdeep55: "Just in: Cong lawyer MP @DrAMSinghvi tests positive for corona.. wish him speedy recovery."
17:09   India's economy in deep trouble: S&P Report
S&P Global Ratings said on Friday that Indian economy is in deep trouble with growth expected to contract by 5 per cent in the current financial year 2020-21. "India's economy is in deep trouble. Difficulties in containing the virus, an anemic policy response and underlying vulnerabilities -- especially across the financial sector -- are leading us to expect growth to fall by 5 per cent this fiscal year before rebounding in 2021," it said.

The pandemic remains the key driver of the country's prospects. "Even though lockdowns have eased in less populated areas, urban growth engines are still held back by rising infections, severe mitigation policies and consumer risk aversion."

A normal monsoon, low oil prices, and supportive external financial conditions will only partly offset these effects, said S&P's in a report titled 'Asia Pacific Losses Near $3 Trillion As Balance Sheet Recession Looms' authored by Shaun Roache and Vishrut Rana.

"We expect the Covid-19 pandemic to leave lasting scars on the Asia Pacific with the extraordinary measures needed to shore up economies leading to higher debt, weaker balance sheets, and less appetite for spending in the future," they wrote.

Investment is likely to stay sluggish, especially in the private sector. "Even if state-owned enterprises spend more, we still anticipate less productive capital, lower potential output and a permanent two to three per cent shrinkage of most economies compared to the pre-COVID trend. - ANI
17:04   PM's 'no intrusion' remark made him popular in China: Chavan
Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Friday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that his remark that 'nobody intruded into the Indian territory' has made him popular in China. Addressing a press conference, the former Maharashtra chief minister alleged that Modi's 'no intrusion' remark, however, demoralised India's armed forces. Twenty Indian soldiers died after a fierce clash with the Chinese army personnel at Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh earlier this month. 

During an all-party meeting held last week, the PM had said that neither is anyone inside our territory nor has any Indian post been captured. Referring to Modi's comment, Chavan said, "China praised the Indian PM for his statement and he has become popular in that country."

"We are concerned over the Chinese intrusion in Galwan valley and are proud of our jawans stationed at the borders. Protecting the borders and preventing intrusion is the main responsibility of the government. Congress has been raising this issue but the government had neglected it," he said.

Chavan alleged that there were divergent views on the Galwan valley incident even within the government. 

"The foreign minister admitted the presence of Chinese soldiers and construction activities along the Indian side of the Line of Actual control (LAC). But, at the all party meeting, Modi said that there was no intrusion," he said. Chavan said that former PM Manmohan Singh advised Modi that nothing should be said that would give strength to China. 

"He made it clear that it was the duty of the opposition to question the government when the country is facing a crisis and the government should respond adequately," Chavan said. 

The Congress leader claimed that as per the satellite images, Chinese soldiers were constructing tents within the Indian territory. "Army vehicles and bulldozers are visible in the satellite images. There are 10,000 Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley. We want to know how many times China intruded in Galwan valley and why did Modi say that there was no intrusion. Has Indias power to negotiate diminished due to these comments?" he asked. -- PTI
16:48   IAF Cheetah helicopter makes emergency landing on highway
An Indian Air Force (IAF) Cheetah helicopter made an emergency landing on a highway in Sonepat district of Haryana on Friday, IAF officials said. More details are awaited.

In April, a Cheetah helicopter of the IAF made a precautionary landing due to technical snag on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway. The Cheetah Helicopter is a high-performance helicopter designed for operation over a very wide range of conditions. The helicopter is versatile, multi-role, multi-purpose, highly manoeuvrable and rugged in construction. -- ANI
Yakub Memon, Yusuf's brother, was hanged in 2015
Yakub Memon, Yusuf's brother, was hanged in 2015
16:44   Yusuf Memon, Tiger Memon's brother and blasts convict, dead
Yusuf Memon, a 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case convict and a brother of absconding accused Tiger Memon, died on Friday at Nashik Road Prison in Maharashtra's Nashik district, a prison official said. The cause of death was yet to ascertained and the body would be sent to Dhule for autopsy, he said. 

Nashik police commissioner Vishwas Nangre-Patil confirmed Memon's death. 

While Tiger Memon was allegedly the mastermind of the blasts conspiracy along with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim, Yusuf was accused of allowing his flat and garage at Al- Husseini building in Mumbai for terrorist activities. A special TADA court had sentenced him to life imprisonment. 

Yakub Memon, another Memon brother who was arrested in the case, was hanged in 2015.

At least 250 persons were killed and hundreds were injured when 12 blasts ripped through Mumbai on March 12, 1993. PTI
16:36   UP records 750 fresh COVID-19 cases, 19 more deaths
Uttar Pradesh on Friday reported 19 novel coronavirus fatalities and 750 infections, as the the state's virus count neared 21,000 while the death toll rose to 630, a senior official said.

The fresh cases pushed the tally to 20,943 in Uttar Pradesh, Additional Chief Secreatry, Medical and Health, Amit Mohan Prasad said. He said 13,583 people have so far been discharged from hospitals after recovering from the infection, leaving 6,730 active COVID-19 cases in the state. The official said over 6.42 lakh samples have so far been tested for COVID-19, of which a record 19,387 samples were examined on Thursday. 

He said said accredited social health activists (ASHA) workers have tracked over 18.69 lakh migrant workers and 1,643 of them were found symptomatic.

"Of the symptomatic people, 225 have tested positive and are undergoing treatment. The state government is emphasising on surveillance to check the spread of COVID-19 and break the chain of its transmission," Prasad said. 

He said the chief minister has directed officials to use COVID Care Fund for setting up coronavirus testing laboratories in every district and has directed to start rapid antigen test in the state as well. -- PTI 
16:33   Mamata urges PM to reconsider decision allowing 100% FDI in coal sector
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to reconsider the decision of "allowing 100 per cent FDI" in the coal sector.

The Chief Minister stated that allowing 100 per cent FDI in coal for MNCs will carry a wrong message as it would contradict the very essence of Atmanirbhar Bharat and would also "kill the vision of self-reliant policy that we have been following since beginning".

"I would, therefore, request you to kindly reconsider the decision of allowing 100 % FDI in the coal sector and also strongly urge your kind intervention for advising the Ministry of Coal not to go ahead with the decision of Coal India Ltd to wind up their subordinate offices from Kolkata," read the letter by Banerjee dated June 25.

Referring to the new policy announced by the "Central Government on allowing 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment in the area of coal mining, associate processing and selling of coal," the Chief Minister expressed her serious reservation on this policy announcement, on "cogent" grounds.

"This policy can neither bring foreign direct investments nor can it bring technologies or know-how which we are unable to access today. The recent trend and empirical evidence clearly showcase the interest of global investors more in renewable energy projects as compared to coal mining projects. In fact, research suggests that about 100 global financial institutions have divested their thermal coal investments. Therefore, FDI in thermal coal is a far cry," the letter said."At the time when the world's largest coal mining company Coal India Limited (CIL) is producing 80 % of our coal with Profit Before Tax of Rs 27000 Crore (2018-19) and holding a Reserve of Rs 31,000 Crore, the decision of Central Government to relax FDI restrictions demeans the capability of CIL," she stated.

Banerjee said that 80 per cent of coal availability is located in the eastern region of the country that is why Coal India Limited, the major Central Public Sector Undertaking has been functioning with its headquarters located in Kolkata. -- ANI
16:16   Class X students can sit for exam: HRD Minister
Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ramesh Pokhriyal on Friday said that CBSE students of Class X may opt for taking the exam if they are not satisfied by the result which will be declared on July 15.

Pokhriyal said,"As the remaining class 10 and 12 CBSE exams, which were earlier rescheduled to be held between July 1 to July 15 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been cancelled, the CBSE has decided to declare result on July 15."

"However the result will be calculated on the exams which have already been given but the students who think they could have done better if they had taken exams, they may opt for giving exams. This option will be open for the student who have not taken exams for all the subjects," added Pokhriyal.

He gave his blessing to the student for their future and said that utilise this time in a good manner and without any pressure.

"Our first priority to save the lives of children and then the education. I would like to wish a bright future for the students. Utilize this time in a good way and feel no pressure," he said.

The CBSE and ICSE on June 25 told the apex court that the remaining class 10 and 12 CBSE exams, which were earlier rescheduled to be held between July 1 to July 15 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been cancelled.

Earlier in the day, The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) submitted before the Supreme Court that the board examination results will be declared by July 15.
16:07   CBI officials raid Ratul Puri's premises
No, that's not a team of healthcare workers. In a pandemic world, wearing PPE will be the new normal even if you are a CBI officer. This is a team of CBI  officials all kitted-up while conducting a search at the premises of Ratul Puri at New Friends Colony in Delhi in connection with a case related to the alleged loss of Rs 787.25 crore to Punjab National Bank and other consortium of banks.
Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's dargah in Ajmer
Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's dargah in Ajmer
15:59   No coercive action against news anchor Amish Devgan, says SC
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed any coercive action against news anchor Amish Devgan in connection with several FIRs filed against him in different states over his alleged defamatory remark against Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.

A bench of the apex court, headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar, stayed any kind of coercive action against Devgan till the next date of hearing, first week of July.

The court also issued notices to the complainants and the states of Rajasthan, Telangana, and Maharashtra on the petition, which also sought quashing of the FIRs.

Advocate Siddhartha Luthra, appearing for News 18 TV (Hindi) managing editor Amish Devgan, said that the applicant has issued a clarification and apology, and added that errors cannot be a criminal offence.

Relief is needed as Devgan is being called to Ajmer (Rajasthan) and other places in different states for questioning, Luthra said. FIRs have been registered against the news anchor in Rajasthan, Telangana, and Maharashtra.

The apex court was hearing Devgan's plea seeking interim relief and quashing of FIRs registered against him over his alleged defamatory remarks against Chisti.

Devgan had, during a debate on his show, on June 15 allegedly used the term "Lootera Chisti", following which multiple FIRs were registered against him in different states. -- ANI
15:49   Senior BJP leader asks HP CM to withdraw escort facility
Senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar has written to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur seeking withdrawal of his escort facility from July 1. Kumar in his letter said that he has been provided many facilities as the former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh and thanked Thakur for that. He, however, said that since he is also no longer an MP and has moved away from active politics, the escort facility is needed no more.

"I am no longer an MP and have been freed from active politics as well. Due to my age I will no longer be touring around. In such a situation, now I do not require an escort facility anymore," the 85-year-old BJP leader said. 

Kumar said that a government vehicle and four staff attached to him serves no purpose. "The expense of lakhs of rupees for this keeps stinging me. So I urge the government to withdraw this facility as I do not -- PTI
File pic
File pic
15:46   BSF intensifies patrolling along international borders in Jammu
The Border Security Force (BSF) has intensified patrolling along the international borders in Jammu as Pakistan is trying hard to infiltrate terrorists and are using drones to send arms and ammunition to India.

Despite harsh weather conditions, these security personnel are working day and night to guard the international borders and stop the occurrence of any sort of untoward incidents from the neighbouring country.

"We are doing our duties enthusiastically. We are patrolling the area for 24 hours. We are also checking tunnels and are ready to shoot down drone coming from Pakistan's side, said a BSF personnel while talking to ANI.

"We are guarding the border to stop the infiltration from Pakistan's side. We are trying our level best and are ready to face any challenge for the country," said another BSF personnel deployed at the international borders in Jammu.

A Pakistani drone, loaded with a sophisticated rifle and some grenades, was shot down by the BSF along the International Border in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.Pakistan is also sending illegal consignments of narcotics and drugs and is also indulged in infiltrating terrorist ranks. -- PTI
15:25   Singapore to test all above 13 yrs with respiratory issues
Singapore will start testing from July 1 all individuals aged 13 years and above with symptoms of acute respiratory infection for COVID-19 to quickly isolate the confirmed cases, according to health minister Gan Kim Yong. 

The decision by the Singapore government came as the nation was witnessing a surge in the coronavirus cases, with 219 new cases reported on Friday. "From July 1, all individuals aged 13 and above who present symptoms of acute respiratory infection at the first instance will be tested for COVID-19," Gan said on Thursday. 

"The move is part of Singapore's strategy to quickly isolate cases and prevent large clusters of infection from forming amid an expected rise in cases," he added.

Singapore has reported 219 new cases of coronavirus, majority among the foreigners with work permit holders, taking the total infections in the country to 42,955. The new infections include six in the community, comprising five Singaporeans or permanent residents (foreigners), the Ministry of Health said in its preliminary daily update. 

"The vast majority of cases are work permit holders living in foreign worker dormitories,' the statement said. While Gan acknowledged that the number of cases in the community remains low, he said the country still needs to stay vigilant to prevent more infections. -- PTI
15:22   India wants to know why 20 soldiers died: Sonia
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday said the central government cannot shirk its responsibility of securing our borders with China and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take the nation into confidence on the situation in Ladakh. 

In a video message put out as part of the Congress party's campaign to honour the Army personnel who sacrificed their lives in Ladakh, she asked why the country's soldiers were martyred when China has not captured any Indian territory, as claimed by the Prime Minister. 

"Today when there is a crisis-like situation at the India-China border, the central government cannot shirk its responsibility (of securing them)," she said in a video message as part of 'SpeakUpForOurJawans' campaign. 

"The country wants to know if China has not captured our land in Ladakh, as claimed by the Prime Minister, then why were our 20 soldiers martyred," she asked. She said while the Prime Minister says there is no intrusion into Indian territory, experts after seeing satellite images talk of the presence of Chinese troops in our territory confirming the intrusions. 

"When and how will the Modi government take back from China our land in Ladakh? Is our territorial integrity being violated by China in Ladakh? Will the Prime Minister take the nation in confidence on the situation at the border?" Gandhi asked.

She said the government should give full support and strength to the Army, saying "this will be true patriotism".
Army Chief MM Naravane meets jawans in Ladakh
Army Chief MM Naravane meets jawans in Ladakh
14:57   Army chief briefs defence minister on Ladakh
Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane today met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and briefed him about the ground situation in the Ladakh sector. The Army Chief was on a two-day visit to Eastern Ladakh and visited forward locations near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). 
14:53   No dispute with Bhutan, agrees Assam Chief Secy
Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna on Friday refuted media reports suggesting that Bhutan had stopped supply of irrigation water to areas in Assam and clarified that the supply was disrupted because of boulders in the channel and that the neighbouring country had actually assisted in clearing the blockage.

Speaking to ANI, Krishna said, "Bhutan shares a border with a district in Assam. There is a normal channel through which the water flows into Indian fields. The water was stopped because there were boulders in the channel."

"The district magistrates of both the sides talked and the issue was resolved. There is no dispute with the country and to say that Bhutan has stopped the water is wrong," added Krishna.

The Chief Secretary had also tweeted earlier that Bhutan has in fact actually helped to clear the blockage.

"Recent media reports about Bhutan blocking water supply to India has been incorrectly reported. The actual reason being the natural blockage of informal irrigation channels into Indian fields! Bhutan has been actually helping to clear the blockage," Krishna said.

Earlier in the day, Bhutan had termed the reports as "totally baseless" and a "distressing allegation" stating that it was a deliberate attempt by "vested interests to spread misinformation and cause misunderstanding between the friendly people of Bhutan and Assam".

It said that the government of Bhutan will make every effort to ensure that the disruptions caused by the monsoon rains to the irrigation channels are addressed without delay. -- ANI
14:50   Monsoon covers entire country nearly two weeks early: IMD
The Southwest Monsoon has covered the entire country nearly two weeks ahead of its schedule, the India Meteorological Department said Friday. The monsoon usually sets over Kerala on June 1 and it takes 45 days to reach Sriganganagar in west Rajasthan, its last outpost in the country. From this year however, the IMD has advanced the onset date over Sriganganagar by a week and the new normal date for monsoon to cover the entire country is July 8.

"The Southwest Monsoon has further advanced into the remaining parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab and thus it has covered the entire country today, June 26," the IMD said. 

A low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal, which moved west-northwestwards, and another cyclonic circulation over central India helped in advance of the monsoon. In 2013, the monsoon had covered the entire country on June 16. This had also coincided with the deadly Uttarakhand flash floods. "After 2013, monsoon has covered the country so rapidly this year," IMD Director General Mrutunjay Mohapatra said. -- PTI
14:35   SC to hear on Jun 29 pleas against blacklisting of foreigners for alleged Tablighi activities
The Supreme Court on Friday decided to hear on June 29 the pleas by foreign nationals who have challenged the government orders that blacklisted around 2,500 citizens from 35 countries from travelling to India for alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities.
A bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari asked the counsel appearing for the petitioners to serve copies of their pleas to the Centre.

Four petitions have been filed by 34 individuals, including a Thai national who is seven months pregnant, challenging the Centre's orders on April 2 and June 4 by which over 2,500 foreign nationals, who are currently in India, were blacklisted.

"The impugned decision, by its very unilateral nature, infringes the principle of natural justice, particularly 'audi alteram partem' by blacklisting the said foreigners present in India without first granting an opportunity of being heard or notice of any form, and resultantly depriving the aggrieved foreign nationals of their right of locomotion and travelling back to the country of their citizenship," said the plea filed by the Thai woman.

The petitions have contended that the en-masse blacklisting of foreigners without any opportunity to defend themselves is a blatant violation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.
-- PTI
14:13   1971 war hero Sqn Ldr Parvez Jamasji dead
Squadron Leader (retired) Parvez Jamasji, who flew sorties into East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and received a bullet wound on his leg, has passed away. He was 77. He was India's oldest helicopter pilot.

After the war, his bravery was acknowledged with the Vir Chakra. The Maharashtra  government feted him with the Gaurav Puraskar.

The young wing commander transported hundreds of soldiers of the Special Frontier Forces into enemy territory in a MI-4 Russian helicopter when he was stationed in Dimagiri on the border of Mizoram and then East Pakistan.

His funeral will be held at the Towers of Silence,  Mumbai, today.

He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.  
14:09   'Govt's flawed lockdown caused immense suffering'
"The lockdown has come at an immense economic cost. In March -- as the coronavirus crisis began to become obvious, with the government in denial for weeks on end -- $16 billion of foreign capital left India, an all-time high. In April, the unemployment rate rose to 23.8%, another all-time high. In April, exports dropped by 60% as well.

About two of every five micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and self-employed businesses have started shutting down for good. As per the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, there was an 84% dip in textile sales. Overall, the 21-day lockdown cost India an estimated Rs 35,000 crore a day.  

Read TMC MP Derek O'Brien's column for the Hindustan Times here. 
14:00   Almost 17,000 protesters had no idea a tech company was tracing their location
Data company Mobilewalla used cellphone information to estimate the demographics of protesters. Senator Elizabeth Warren says it's "shady' and concerning. Read the report here
13:53   DG ITBP visits Delhi's quarantine facility
In Delhi, DG ITBP visits the Covid-19 Care Centre at Radha Soami Beas in Chattarpur.  "ITBP has gained experience in the last four months. Initially we managed a COVID quarantine center in Chhawla and then our 200 bedded hospital in Noida. Our medical team will help people in this crisis."
13:49   13,000+ beds available for Covid patients: Kejri
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses the media. Highlights:

-- The number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi is high but the situation is under control and there is no need to worry. We've increased testing by three times but positive cases have increased by around 3000 per day only. 

-- Out of the total COVID-19 patients, approximately 45,000 people have recovered.  In the last one week, the number of beds occupied has been around 6,000 despite almost 3,000 new cases daily as they do not require hospitalisation. 

-- COVID--19 cases in Delhi are mild and most of them don't require hospitalisation. Right now, we have over 13,000 beds ready. We have permission to conduct plasma therapy at LNJP and Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospitals. 

-- Since the start of plasma therapy at LNJP hospital, the number of deaths has reduced to less than half as compared to earlier.  

-- A major issue with Corona is that oxygen level of patient drops sudddenly. Oxygen level should be 95. If it drops below 90 then consider it dangerous, if it drops below 85 then consider it very serious. You will face difficulty in breathing if it drops to 90 or 85.

-- There are some patients whose oxygen level became very low but they showed no symptoms, it dropped suddenly and they died suddenly. So we have provided oxymeter to asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms who are under home isolation.
13:41   FBI conducting 2000 active investigations on Chinese Communist Party
Terming China the greatest threat to the US economy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it is conducting more than 2,000 active investigations connected to the Chinese Communist Party. FBI Director Christopher Wray called China the greatest threat to the US economy and its democratic principles, Washington Examiner reported citing Fox News.

"There's no country that presents a broader, more comprehensive threat to America's innovation, to our economic security, and to our democratic ideas than China does," Wray said in an interview that aired Wednesday.

"The FBI has over 2,000 active investigations that trace back to the government in China," Wray said, noting that they represent "about a 1300% increase in terms of economic espionage investigations with a Chinese nexus from about a decade ago."

Wray further said that the bureau is opening a new counterintelligence investigation that ties back to China every 10 hours.

The Justice Department has increased its scrutiny of China's activities recently, starting the China Initiative in 2018 and prosecuting Chinese nationals in espionage cases, cracking down on hacking schemes, prosecuting efforts to steal trade secrets, and going after the Thousand Talents Program.Wray said the Chinese government is "pursuing a campaign of intellectual property theft, economic espionage, cyber intrusions that target businesses -- big and small -- all across the country, and our academic research institutions." -- ANI
13:34   Maharashtra cancels final exams for professional, non-professional courses
The Maharashtra government has decided not to conduct final year or semester exams of professional and non-professional courses due to present COVID-19 situation.The degrees to students will be awarded based on the formula decided by universities.

"Maharashtra government decided not to conduct the final year/final semester exam of non-professional/professional courses as the present atmosphere is not yet conducive to conduct any exam or classes. Also decided to award degrees based on formula decided by universities," the CMO Maharashtra said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to instruct national level apex authorities like All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Council of Architecture (CoA), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), Bar Council of India (BCI), National Council of Teachers Education (NCTE) and National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology to endorse state government's decision regarding professional courses and issue guidelines to universities. -- PTI
13:25   Wear masks, keep distance till we get vaccine: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that till the time a vaccine is not developed for COVID-19, all have to maintain 'do gaj ki doori' (two yards distance) and wear face masks.

Speaking at the launch of "Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyan", Prime Minister Modi said, "All of us have seen ups and downs. In our social life, there have been problems. No one has thought that the whole world will face a problem at the same time. Everyone is affected and everybody has faced problems. We don't know when we will get respite from this disease. till the time a vaccine is not developed, we know one thing that is to maintain 'do gaj ki doori' (two yards distance) and wear a face mask to prevent coronavirus."

"Today I experience with you the power of work. Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyana Rojgar Abhiyaan is based on this power of work. This power has given inspiration to Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyan," he added.

"I have full belief that like Uttar Pradesh, other states will also bring this type of schemes," he said.

"In the coronavirus crisis, Uttar Pradesh has shown courage and temperament. It has achieved success and the way it fought coronavirus and handled the situation, it is phenomenal," the Prime Minister said.Prime Minister Modi had earlier launched "Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyan" through video conferencing in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. About 1.25 crore migrant workers are expected to benefit from the programme. -- ANI
12:57   Central team led by Lav Agarwal arrives Gujarat to review COVID-19 situation
A Central health team led by Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, on Friday, visited Ghatlodia area in Ahmedabad to review the COVID-19 status in Gujarat.

During his visit, Agarwal will speak to people at Dhanvantri Rath, the specialised COVID-19 vans in the state. The Central health team will be visiting Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Telangana from June 26 to June 29.

The Union health ministry had informed that the team will interact with the state officials and coordinate with them to strengthen ongoing efforts for management of COVID-19.

-- ANI
12:30   No fresh lockdown in Bengaluru: Yediyurappa
All efforts would be made to control the spread of coronavirus in the city and there will be no fresh lockdown, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday said, asserting that improving economic situation of the state is also equally important.

Though the state capital was considered a model for the entire country in COVID management and has seen a spike in cases during the last few days, the pandemic can be controlled if everyone cooperated, he said.

As of Thursday evening, a total of 1,791 COVID-19 cases, including 78 deaths and 505 discharges, had been reported in the city while the state's tally stood at 10,560 compared to just 3,408 cases as on June 1.
The state capital has the highest number of cases among the districts.

"There is no question of imposing lockdown for any reason. In some areas (with high case load) we have already implemented lockdown, other than those places there is no question of it being implemented in other places," Yediyurappa said.

-- PTI
12:18   Reopening of Disneyland gets delayed as COVID-19 cases spike in California
Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim will remain closed indefinitely due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in California. The adventure parks were set to reopen next month but now they will remain closed until further notice.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a statement from Disney read: "The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4." 

"Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials," the statement read.

The company also added that once they have a "clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date."

However, the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district, part of the Disneyland Resort, will reopen on July 9.

-- ANI
11:59   Bhutan denies reports on stopping water to Assam
Bhutan has "categorically denied" any validity in reports suggesting that the country has stopped releasing water for an irrigation channel along its border with India near Assam, sources said.

The sources said the Bhutanese side said that they have been doing repairs in channels to ensure the smooth flow of water to Assam. 

"The report of Bhutan stopping the supply of channel water to Assam is not true. In fact, the Bhutanese side has categorically denied, saying that they have been doing repairs in channels to ensure smooth flow of water to Assam," sources said.

Several reports suggested that Bhutan has stopped releasing water for an irrigation channel along its border with India near Assam.

-- ANI
Photograph: Ken Cedeno/Reuters
Photograph: Ken Cedeno/Reuters
11:57   Big Brother is watching the US anti-race protests
'On the weekend of May 29, thousands of people marched, sang, grieved, and chanted, demanding an end to police brutality and the defunding of police departments in the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. They marched en masse in cities like Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, empowered by their number and the assumed anonymity of the crowd. And they did so completely unaware that a tech company was using location data harvested from their cellphones to predict their race, age, and gender and where they lived,' reports Caroline Haskins in   

'That company, Mobilewalla, released a report titled "George Floyd Protester Demographics: Insights Across 4 Major US Cities." In 60 pie charts, the document details what percentage of protesters the company believes were male or female, young adult (18'"34); middle-aged 3554, or older (55+); and "African-American," "Caucasian/Others," "Hispanic," or "Asian-American', she further writes.   

Caroline also quotes Mobilewalla CEO Anindya Datta saying that 'the data analysis that made the George Floyd Protester Demographics possible wasn't a new kind of project'. "The underlying data, the underlying observations that came into the report, is something that we collect and produce on a regular basis,' he tells her.   

The frightening bit is that in the US 'there is currently no federal law that regulates how companies like Mobilewalla -- which buy and sell people's data on the internet -- can use people's information,' Caroline writes, here.
11:42   PM Modi launches 'Atma Nirbhar UP Rojgar Abhiyan'
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched "Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyan" on Friday through video conferencing in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. About 1.25 crore migrant workers are expected to benefit from the programme.

Speaking on the occasion, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath welcomed the PM and thanked him for taking up the initiative. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the way the PM has shown the direction to the country and gave the message of 'Jaan bhi aur Jahaan bhi" is highly appreciable. Following a similar direction, Uttar Pradesh is working for the welfare of its labourers by providing them employment. "The step has been taken under Prime Minister Modi's dream of 'Self-reliant India'," the CM said.

"Over 1.25 crore migrant workers who lost their jobs due to coronavirus pandemic are likely to benefit from this unique initiative. Over 35 lakh migrants returned to Uttar Pradesh and over 30 lakh migrant workers were also covered under skill mapping," he said.

The Centre announced the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package to stimulate various sectors. In order to generate employment with a thrust towards creating infrastructure in backward regions of the country, Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan was launched on June 20.

The Uttar Pradesh government envisaged a unique initiative "Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyan" which dovetails programmes of the Centre and state government while creating partnerships with industry and other organisations.

-- ANI
Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters
Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters
11:41   What China wants
'The current crisis was the result of China reacting to the perception that India was stabbing it in the back by its move into territories China sees as off-limits to India. The unique timing of COVID-19, the context of the U.S.-Chinese strategic rivalry and China's self-perceived vulnerability all contributed to a sense of insecurity amongst officials in Beijing. All of these factors have aggravated China's response to what would otherwise have been a relatively common interaction in the disputed border,' writes Yun Sun, Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, in You can read the full article here.
11:27   SC okays CBSE's scheme on cancellation of exams
The Supreme Court on Friday permitted the Centre and the CBSE to cancel the remaining board examinations due to COVID-19 pandemic and gave a go-ahead to its scheme to award marks to students for the cancelled papers scheduled to be held in July.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna permitted the CBSE to issue a notification for the cancellation of the examinations.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the CBSE, said that the assessment scheme will consider marks achieved by students in last three papers of board exams.

Both CBSE and ICSE told the top court that the results of the class X and XII board exams can be declared by mid of July.

The top court was hearing pleas seeking relief, including scrapping of remaining exams of Class 12 scheduled from July 1-15, in view of increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Similar relief was sought by the ICSE Board also. 

-- PTI
11:13   PM using army's valour for Bihar assembly polls: Sena
The Shiv Sena on Friday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using the Indian Army's valour in the Galwan valley clash for the upcoming Bihar assembly elections.

The ruling coalition lead party in Maharashtra said the PM is playing "caste and regional card" by highlighting
the role of a particular Army regiment whose personnel were involved in the fierce clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan valley along the LAC on June 15.

Party mouthpiece 'Saamana', in its editorial, referred to Modi's statement mentioning the Bihar Regiment's bravery in the Galwan valley clash.

"When the country faced crisis on its borders, were Mahar, Maratha, Rajput, Sikh, Gorkha, Dogra regiments sitting
idle and mixing or chewing tobacco on the borders?" the Marathi daily asked in a stinging poser.

"Yesterday, Maharashtra's Sunil Kale (a CRPF jawan from the state) attained martyrdom in Pulwama (during an
encounter with terrorists). Due to the upcoming Bihar elections, importance is being given to caste and region in
the Indian Army," it said.

The publication of the Sena, a former BJP ally, deprecated this brand of politics.

"Such politics is a disease which is graver than coronavirus," the editorial said.

-- PTI
10:54   Unlock 2.0 guidelines by June 30: Sources
The central government is likely to issue guidelines for Unlock 2.0 around June 30. 

Sources in the government said under Unlock 2.0, the government is likely to allow air travel on selected international routes. The sources said international flights on the New Delhi-New York, Mumbai-New York routes are likely to be allowed to resume in Unlock 2.0.

Besides this, private carriers could also be allowed to start operations to the Gulf countries, the sources said.

Asked about decisions on opening up of educational institutes and metro train services, the sources said the central government is unlikely to issue guidelines to open them because the states appear to be reluctant on starting them.

On June 18, in his virtual meeting with chief ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said they should now start thinking of Unlock 2.0 but at the same time also ensue the spread of coronavirus infection is minimised.

PM Modi noted that with reduced restrictions, indicators of economic performance are showing signs of revival. Inflation has also been kept under control, and asked states to take steps to boost infrastructure and construction-related activities.=
10:24   As US reopens, COVID-19 cases hit new high
The United States reported more than 39,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its highest-ever single-day count as the government relaxed restrictions and is downplaying the threat of the deadly virus.

The counties home to Dallas, Phoenix, and Tampa all reported record-high averages on at least 15 straight days in June.

The hardest-hit states are California, Texas, Florida and those that thought they had the virus under control, like Utah and Oregon.

-- ANI
10:16   Delhi sets up drive-through COVID test centres
With a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases seen in Delhi and the introduction of new protocols by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and the Arvind Kejriwal-led government to aggressively increase COVID testing in the nation's capital, private labs too have scaled up their operations to aid in this fight against the coronavirus.

One such private lab in Delhi has increased its testing facilities by establishing additional drive-through sample collection centres for COVID-19 testing. 

After collecting nearly 3,000 samples with the help of its facilities in Punjabi Bagh and Saket, Dr Dangs Lab has opened another centre near Siri Fort Auditorium in the national capital, in a bid to augment the fight against COVID-19.

Dr Arjun Dang, CEO of Dr Dangs Lab, said: "Due to COVID-19 cases surging in Delhi-NCR, we started this novel initiative of drive-through testing and we've now established our third facility. Till date, we have done close to 3,000 RT-PCR tests, samples for which have been collected at these centres. This initiative was planned keeping in mind the increasing number of cases and also increase in demand for testing. Anyone with mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can get their test done at this drive-through facility."

This idea of drive-through collections was first seen in countries initially hit by the virus, like South Korea and now are being seen in action in India as well.

-- ANI
10:00   With 17,296 cases, India records highest spike
A highest single-day spike of 17,296 new Covid-19 positive cases in India in the last 24 hours on Friday pushed country's coronavirus tally to 4,90,401.

According to the latest data by the Union health ministry, the total cases include 1,89,463 active cases, while 2,85,637 have recovered. The death toll has, meanwhile, climbed to 15,301.

According to the ICMR, a total number of samples tested up to June 25 is 77,76,228; the number of samples tested on 25 June is 2,15,446.

As the novel coronavirus near the 10 million-mark, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the Covid-19 pandemic is subsiding in Europe, but getting worse globally. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also called the world to build a new normal once the pandemic was over. 
09:14   Fuel prices hiked again
Petrol price hiked by 21 paise per litre, diesel by 17 paise; rates up by Rs 8.87 for petrol and Rs 10.8 for diesel in 20 days
09:04   Remdesivir endorsed as first Covid-19 treatment
The European Medicines Agency has granted its first approval for a drug to treat the new coronavirus -- remdesivir, which has been shown in trials to speed the recovery time of people hospitalised with COVID-19. 

The regulatory agency says it was granting a conditional marketing authorisation for remdesivir to be used in treating adults and adolescents older than 12 with pneumonia who require oxygen. 

Remdesivir is the first medicine against COVID-19 to be recommended for authorization in the EU, the agency says. 

Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorisation for the drug. 

Although larger trials on remdesivir are still ongoing, preliminary results showed that patients hospitalised with severe illness were discharged quicker from the hospital than those who didnt get the drug. No beneficial effect was seen in patients with mild or moderate disease.
08:28   3 COVID-19 care centres set up for cops, their families in Mumbai
Three COVID care centres with a capacity of 1,000 beds have been set up in Mumbai's Kalina, Marine Drive and Marol area for the treatment of Mumbai police personnel and their families, officials said.

In all the COVID-19 centres, there are four beds in one room and gaming facility like carrom and chess has also been provided for the patients. 

In addition, a small library has been set up and doctors will be available round the clock. Over 30 Mumbai police personnel have died after contracting the lethal infection.

Also, 117 personnel of Mumbai fire brigade have also been tested positive for novel coronavirus till June 25, of which 80 have been discharged and 8 have succumbed to the virus. 

-- ANI
08:03   US not doing enough to fight Covid: Bill Gates
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said the fact that people are still dying in the US today shows that the country is "not even close" to doing enough to fight the pandemic. 

He also expressed disappointment with what he called a lack of US leadership to tackle this virus globally, which has led to developing countries -- such as Brazil and India -- bearing the brunt of this disease. 

Gates also dismissed the White House's claim that an increase in case numbers is a direct result of an increase in testing, calling it "completely false."

"It's fair to say, you can find more cases when you do more testing, but the US is experiencing a rebound, even once you factor out the increased testing," Gates said during CNN's coronavirus town hall. 

Local officials, he said, have "gotten their act together on testing." 

Gates said testing capacity will continue to increase in the fall, and "that's good news." "But that's not the reason we're seeing these case increases," he said. "If you take the New York or the New York area out, in fact we're still very much in the thick of things."
01:25   Nepal refutes reports of border row with China
Nepal on Thursday refuted media reports regarding 'encroachment' of the country's territory by China, saying the border between the two friendly neighbours was delineated and demarcated on the basis of the Boundary Treaty in 1961 and subsequent protocols.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that its attention was drawn to the media reports on the Nepal-China boundary and 'encroachment' of the Nepali territory.

'The news allegedly based on a report' of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development which that Ministry has already refuted and clarified stating that such report' doesn't exist and that the subject matter doesn't fall under its jurisdiction, it said.

'It may be recalled that the boundary between Nepal and China was delineated and demarcated on the basis of the Boundary Treaty of 5 October 1961 and the subsequent protocols signed between the two countries,' the ministry clarified.

Boundary Markers No. 37 and 38 reported as missing in the media reports were never erected as agreed between the two countries owing to natural conditions, it added.

'The Government of Nepal will solve through mutual consultation between the concerned authorities of the two countries in case any issue arises,' it said.

The ministry urged the media to verify the information from the relevant authorities before commenting on such sensitive matters which may adversely affect the relations between the two friendly neighbours.   -- PTI