Tue, 30 June 2020
Block Chinese apps ASAP: Govt to internet cos
23:38 Nagaland declared as 'disturbed area' for 6 more months
The Centre on Tuesday declared the entire Nagaland as "disturbed area" for a further period of six months till December-end.
In a notification, the home ministry said the central government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.
"Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No. 28 of 1958) the central government hereby declares that whole of the said State to be a 'disturbed area' for a period of six months with effect from 30th June, 2020 for the purpose of that Act," the home ministry said.
Nagaland has been under the coverage of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for almost six decades and it was not withdrawn even after a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015, by Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak Muivah) General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor R N Ravi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The decision to maintain the status quo in Nagaland regarding coverage of AFSPA, a law slammed by many civil society groups as "draconian", came amidst reports of deteriorating law and order situation there.
The AFSPA gives the armed forces sweeping powers to search and arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for "the maintenance of public order". -- PTI
23:18 Govt directs internet companies to immediately block Chinese apps
The government on Tuesday directed all internet service providers to block 59 Chinese mobile apps under emergency clause of the IT Act, according to sources.
The order has been issued in two sets -- the first set contains list of 35 apps and the other 24 apps based out of China, the sources said.
"Order to block all 59 Chinese apps to internet service providers have been issued now," a telecom ministry source told PTI.
The list has same set of apps as was announced by the government on Monday. It includes name of TikTok, UC News, UC Browser, Viva Video, Mi Video Call, Bigo Live, Wechat etc.
"The government has issued web link along with IP addresses which will make Internet service providers to easily block the access to Chinese apps," an industry source said.
"The Ministry of Electronics and & Information Technology has issued directions for blocking 24 apps under the emergency clause 69A of the IT Act 2000, in addition to 35 apps for whose blocking instructions have been issued earlier today itself," a DoT order to internet companies said.
India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country. -- PTI
23:07 Rlys to run more local trains in Mumbai
The railways will expand its suburban services in Mumbai from Wednesday and run 350 trains each in the Central and Western Railway Zones, minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday.
The trains will, however, only carry essential services personnel identified by the State government.
"Railways to expand to 350 local trains in Mumbai from tomorrow. As identified by State govt., essential staff incl. employees of Centre, IT, GST, Customs, Postal, Nationalised Banks, MBPT, Judiciary, Defence & Raj Bhavan allowed. No services yet for general passengers," Goyal tweeted.
Both the railway zones that cater to Mumbai had resumed their select suburban services, for essential staff only, from June 15.
On the Mumbai Division of Central Railways, presently 200 trains are being run and 150 will be added from Wednesday, taking the total to 350.
On the Western Railways, presently 202 services are running and 148 more will be added from Wednesday.
These trains will halt at major stations. In the harbour line also, the trains will halt at major stations only. -- PTI
22:40 Maharashtra power min asks Mahadiscom to set up helpdesk
Maharashtra energy minister Nitin Raut has asked state-owned Mahadiscom to set up helpdesk to address consumers' grievances after state electricity regulator Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission supported the utilities saying the bills charged by the discoms were as per the rules.
Following the consumers' complaints over inflated bills in June, MERC had sought clarification from the discoms.
Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, later observed that the discoms had followed the rules of "practise direction".
"The present bills raised on actual meter readings are of the summer months where the consumption is normally high and the bills are always of higher amounts. Hence the balance amount payable after adjusting the average bill amounts for each of the three months March, April and May have led to higher bill that was issued in June," it said.
MERC has also asked the utilities to provide the option of easy monthly instalments (EMI) and directed them to not disconnect power supply over non-payment of dues until grievances are redressed.
Raut directed Mahadiscom to set up helpdesk at divisional levels and also take initiatives to spread awareness among customers about the billing process by reaching out through various platforms like TV, radio, webinar and Facebook, among others.
The state discom has decided to allow EMI option for three months for making the payment of the bill for June.
Raut also asked the discom to grant a discount of two per cent to consumers who have promptly paid the bills for June as well as for those who would be paying the bill amount in lump sum.
Also, those who had left for their villages during the lockdown period but have paid the bills for the three months on estimated basis, would get a refund in case they have paid extra amount.
Many consumers, including celebrities like Taapsee Pannu, Huma Qureshi, director Bijoy Nambiar and Renuka Shahane, took to Twitter to express concerns over the unexpected rise in their electricity bills during the lockdown.
According to MERC, all these utilities have dropped tariffs after the commission's revision order from April 1.
However, since the country went into lockdown from March 25, following the COVID outbreak, the bills were calculated as per the previous readings.
Adani Electricity reduced 12 per cent power tariff for all categories, followed by Tata Power (10 per cent), Mahadiscom (five per cent) and BEST (one per cent).
According to MERC, only 6.35 lakh consumers across state were billed on actual meter readings during the lockdown, which is nearly 2.32 per cent of the total consumer base in the state.
However, MERC has already approved installation of 7 lakh meters for Adani and 66,000 meters for Tata Power, it said. -- PTI
22:38 PIA halts operation to Europe after EU's ban on its flights
Pakistan's scandal-hit national carrier on Tuesday announced to discontinue its operation to Europe after the European Union's aviation safety agency banned its flights for six months over safety concerns.
The European Union Air Safety Agency said that the suspension of the Pakistan International Airlines flights would be effective from July 1.
However, the PIA can appeal against it.
In a statement, the PIA said that all passengers booked on its flights to European sectors will have the option to either extend their bookings for a later date or get full refunds.
It said that the PIA administration was in contact with the EASA to allay their concerns and to take necessary corrective measures along with filing the appeal against the decision.
"PIA sincerely hopes that with reparative and swift actions taken by the Government of Pakistan and PIA Management, earliest possible lifting of this suspension can be expected, it said.
The EU ban came after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in a major embarrassment to his nation told the media last week that nearly a third of the PIA pilots had fake licenses.
He also said at least three crashes in the recent history, including the latest on May 22, were caused due to negligence of pilots.
The world reacted in horror while opposition in Pakistan demanded that the minister should be sacked for washing the proverbial dirty linen in the public.
The PIA grounded more than 140 pilots and wrote to foreign missions and international aviation watchdogs that it was addressing the problem but apparently everybody was not convinced. -- PTI
22:29 Maha reports 4,878 new Covid cases, 245 deaths
Maharashtra's coronavirus case tally rose to 1,74,761 on Tuesday with 4,878 new patients coming to light, said the state health department.
Death toll due to the pandemic in the state reached 7,855 with 245 patients succumbing to the infection, it said.
1,951 coronavirus patients were discharged upon recovery during the day, taking the number of recovered patients in the state to 90,911.
There are 75,995 active cases in Maharashtra now. 9,66,723 people have been tested. -- PTI
21:37 Pak PM blames India for Karachi attack
A day after India rubbished Pakistan's claim that it was behind a deadly terrorist attack in Karachi, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday raised the issue in Parliament.
Four heavily armed militants on Monday made an attempt to take over the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi, killing three security guards and a police officer before being shot dead by security forces.
The Balochistan Liberation Army linked Majeed Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack.
The group is banned in Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"What happened in Mumbai, they wanted to do the same. They wanted to spread uncertainty. We have no doubt this was done by India," Khan said in the National Assembly.
But our security forces averted a big tragedy as the terrorists were carrying heavy arms and ammunition to take the people hostage in the Stock Exchange and kill them to create an environment of fear and uncertainty, he said.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi made a similar claim.
Reacting sharply to Qureshi's remarks, India described it as "absurd comments."
In a strongly-worded response, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said unlike Pakistan, India has no hesitation in condemning terrorism anywhere in the world, including in Karachi.
The ties between the two nations strained following the Balakot strike when the Indian Air Force jets bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistan on February 26 last year to avenge the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in the Pulwama terror attack on February 14.
The ties further nose-dived after New Delhi abrogated Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir in August last. Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations with India and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
Last week, India asked Pakistan to reduce the strength of its High Commission in New Delhi by 50 per cent within the next seven days and announced a reciprocal reduction in Indian strength in Islamabad. -- PTI
21:21 After PM's speech, Shah meets senior ministers
Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday held a meeting with several senior ministers, including food minister Ram Vilas Paswan and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, officials said.
Others who attended the hour-long meeting include Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and railways and commerce minister Piyush Goyal.
Details of the meeting were not known immediately, the officials said. -- PTI
20:59 Xi signs security law restricting HK's freedom
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday signed a controversial security law that gave Beijing new powers over Hong Kong that are tailor-made to crackdown against dissent, criminalising sedition and effectively curtailing protests, amidst global anger and outrage in the former British colony.
Xi signed the legislation soon after Chinese lawmakers voted unanimously to adopt the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The law -- facilitating the presence of Chinese security offices in Hong Kong, besides prohibiting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security -- was passed by the 162-member Standing Committee of China's legislature the National People's Congress.
As soon as the draft legislation was adopted by the NPC, regarded as the rubber-stamp Parliament for its routine approval of whatever the ruling Communist Party of China proposes, Xi signed it immediately, making it into law ready for implementation.
The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and NATO have expressed concern on the new law and warned of retaliatory measures.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Washington has suspended regulations allowing Hong Kong to import US technology because of security risks posed by the law, which he said would undermine the city's semi-autonomous status.
The law would heighten the risk that sensitive US tech exports to the city -- including metal alloys, high-powered computers and lasers -- would be diverted for use by the Chinese military or the Chinese Ministry of State Security, Ross was quoted as saying by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
"Further actions to eliminate differential treatment are also being evaluated," Ross said in a statement issued in the US. "We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course and fulfil the promises it has made to the people of Hong Kong and the world," he said.
The US was Hong Kong's second-largest trading partner in 2019, with trade worth USD 67 billion, official data showed.
The EU condemned Beijing's move, saying it is "in the process" of considering follow-up action with lawmakers and international partners.
"We deplore this decision. This law risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong, and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law," European Council President Charles Michel said. -- PTI
20:12 UK MPs flag China's 'bullying' with India
British MPs have raised concerns in Parliament over China's "bullying behaviour" in the border dispute with India and the "delayed declaration" of COVID-19 and urged an internal review into the United Kingdom's dependence on China with a view to reducing collaboration with the country.
Conservative Party MP Ian Duncan Smith raised the issue as part of an urgent question in the House of Commons on Monday evening on the "mistreatment" by the Chinese government of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province.
"Given the Chinese government's appalling record on human rights, their attack on freedoms in Hong Kong, their bullying behaviour in border disputes from the South China seas to India, their blatant breaching of the rules-based order governing the free market and their delayed declaration on COVID-19, will the government now initiate an internal review of the UK's dependence on China, with a view to significantly reducing that dependence," questioned Smith.
UK Minister for Asia Nigel Adams responded to say that the UK government has been regularly raising its concerns with China over various issues.
"On a full government review, our approach to China remains clear-eyed and is rooted in our values and interests. It has always been the case that when we have concerns we raise them, and that where we need to intervene we will," he said.
Opposition Labour Party MP Stephen Kinnock also pressed the minister over the "increasingly belligerent" behaviour of China towards its own people and neighbouring countries.
"Does the Minister recognise that the CCP's (Chinese Communist Party) actions in Xinjiang reflect a wider pattern of behaviour of increasingly authoritarian policies at home and aggressive expansionism abroad, including in Hong Kong, Ladakh and the South China sea," he questioned.
Adams responded to say that the UK had been "very active" on these issues and has played a leading role in raising all concerns bilaterally and at the United Nations and also called on UK companies active in the Xinjiang province to carry out due diligence over the treatment of minorities. -- PTI
20:05 China needs to be given befitting reply: Mamata
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said banning apps will not be enough, asserting that China needs to be given a befitting reply.
The Trinamool Congress supremo, however, said she would leave it to the Centre to decide on the issue.
"It is a subject of the external affairs department, we will support the central government stand.... But, we have to be very aggressive on one hand and on the other, use the diplomatic channel.
"Only banning a few apps will not be a proper reply, we have to give China a befitting reply," she said while addressing a press conference here.
India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including the hugely-popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.
The ban came in the backdrop of a standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and the killing of 20 Indian Army personnel a clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley.
Banerjee also said her government will provide free ration to beneficiaries till June next year.
"The Centre's ration policy should be to provide ration to each and every one of the 130 crore population of the country," she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced extension of a programme to provide free ration for over 80 crore people, mostly poor, by five more months till November end.
The central scheme was rolled out for three months from April soon after the nationwide lockdown was announced to combat the COVID-19. -- PTI
19:37 LAC tension: India plans to buy Spice-2000 bombs
Seeking to further strengthen its capability to hit ground targets, India is planning to acquire a lethal and more capable version of the Spice-2000 bombs.
The bombs, which were used effectively to destroy the Pakistani terrorist camp in Balakot town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last year, are planned to be acquired by the air force as part of the emergency financial powers granted to the services in the middle of a row with China.
"The Indian Air Force already has the Spice-2000 bombs. It is now planning to acquire more stand-off weapons like the Spice-2000 bombs under the emergency procurement powers granted to the services," government sources told ANI.
The Spice-2000 bombs can hit targets upto 70 kms and the new variant inducted in the force can also destroy bunkers and hardened shelters, they said.
The version used in the Balakot airstrikes could penetrate into hardened shelters and buildings and cause destruction inside.
Under the emergency powers, the Narendra Modi government has granted financial power to the defence forces under which they can buy any weapon system under Rs 500 crore.
This emergency power was given close on the heels of recent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives. -- ANI
18:54 U'khand okays land transfer for roads near LAC
Amid the continuing tension with China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Advisory Board has approved proposals for transfer of 73.36 hectares of forest land within the protected Gangotri National Park for construction of three strategically important roads near the India-China border.
The roads will reduce the distance to the border considerably and make easier the movement of Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, who at present have walk up to 25 kms to reach there, officials said.
The proposals were approved on Monday during the 15th meeting of the board chaired by Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Principal Secretary (Forest) Anand Vardhan told PTI on Tuesday.
A recommendation for a final clearance will now be sent to the National Board for Wildlife within a week, Vardhan said.
The three stretches include the 17.60-km Mandi-Sangchola road, the 11.85-km Sumla-Thangla road and the 6.21-km Tripadi-Rangmachgaad road.
The roads are to be developed by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) in the protected Gangotri National Park area in Uttarkashi district.
Around 73.36 hectares of forest land at different sites within the Gangotri National Park are to be transferred for construction of the roads, Vardhan said.
The board unanimously agreed that proposals for the construction of roads which are important from the point of view of national security should be sent to the National Board for Wildlife for final clearance, the officer said.
The panel also decided to send a recommendation to the National Board for Wildlife for transferring forest land for the expansion of Dehradun's Jollygrant Airport, he said. -- PTI
18:49 COVID-19: 10-day total lockdown in Thane city, Mira Bhayander
Maharashtra's Thane city will observe a total lockdown between July 2-12 to contain the coronavirus outbreak, municipal commissioner Vipin Sharma said on Tuesday.
Non-essential services will not operate during this period, and nor would movement of vehicles for proposes other than medical and essential travel be allowed, the order said.
Movement of all essential goods as well as perishable items will be allowed during this period, the order said.
In neighbouring Mira Bhayander, also part of Thane district, civic authorities re-imposed total lockdown, including closing of shops dealing in essential items, between July 1-10 to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The order of Mira Bhayander Municipal Commissioner Vijay Rathod said shops selling essential items, including bakery products and those dealing in food grains, will remain closed during this period.
Home delivery of food grains, vegetables, fish, meat, bakery items will be allowed between 9am to 11pm while milk and dairy items will be delivered at doorsteps between 5am and 10am, the order informed.
Medical shops and flour mills are allowed to operate as earlier, and so would banking services like ATMs.
As on Monday night, Thane city has 8,506 COVID-19 cases, which includes 311 deaths, while the number in Mira Bhayandar municipal limits is 3,175, with 142 deaths. -- PTI
18:08 Mamata extends free food for poor in WB till 2021
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced that her government will provide free ration to beneficiaries till June next year. "The Centre's ration policy should be to provide ration to each and every one of the 130 crore population of the country," she said. "I am extending free ration for poor till June 2021," she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced extension of a programme to provide free ration for over 80 crore people, mostly poor, by five more months till November end. The central scheme was rolled out for three months from April soon after the nationwide lockdown was announced to combat the COVID-19.
Mamata also said banning apps will not be enough, asserting that China needs to be given a befitting reply. The Trinamool Congress supremo, however, said she would leave it to the Centre to decide on the issue. "It is a subject of the external affairs department, we will support the central government stand.... But, we have to be very aggressive on one hand and on the other, use the diplomatic channel.
"Only banning a few apps will not be a proper reply, we have to give China a befitting reply," she said while addressing a press conference here. India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including the hugely-popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.-- PTI
18:02 Man who beat differently-abled woman in viral video arrested
A deputy manager in the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation at Nellore was on Tuesday arrested and placed under suspension for allegedly beating up a differently-abled woman employee in the office. CCTV footage of the purported incident went viral on social media on Tuesday.
The woman employee, a senior assistant on contract in the APTDC divisional office in Nellore, had asked the deputy manager C Bhaskar why he did not wear a face mask. Enraged, he beat her with a stick, leaving her badly injured, police said on Tuesday. Other staff tried to stop him, but to no avail.
The incident occurred on June 27, but the victim filed a complaint with the higher authorities and police on June 29. APTDC Managing Director Pravin Kumar issued an order here placing Bhaskar under suspension, pending disciplinary proceedings.
17:58 Goats and sheep quarantined after shepherd contracts COVID-19
About 50 goats and sheep have been kept in isolation at a village in Tumakuru district in Bengaluru after a shepherd tested positive for coronavirus, officials said on Tuesday. The villagers panicked when they noticed that some goats and sheep at Godekere village in Gollarahatti taluk were having respiratory problems, an officer in the animal husbandry department of the district said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the officer told PTI: "A few of the animals whom the shepherd had reared developed respiratory problems....Now that there is corona scare everywhere, people are afraid that the animals too have contracted the disease."
The villagers then sought the help of Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy, who is the Tumkuru district in charge minister, and the Deputy Commissioner of the district K Rakesh Kumar to get the matter investigated. The minister directed the animal husbandry department to probe the matter following which department officials rushed to the village and collected samples. Veterinary experts suspect that the animals are suffering from Peste des petits ruminants, also known as goat plague, and mycoplasma infection. -- PTI
17:56 10-day total lockdown in Thane city, Mira Bhayander
Thane city will observe a total lockdown between July 2-12 to contain the coronavirus outbreak, municipal commissioner Vipin Sharma said on Tuesday. Non-essential services will not operate during this period, and nor would movement of vehicles for proposes other than medical and essential travel be allowed, the order said.
Movement of all essential goods as well as perishable items will be allowed during this period, the order said. In neighbouring Mira Bhayander, also part of Thane district, civic authorities re-imposed total lockdown, including closing of shops dealing in essential items, between July 1-10 to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The order of Mira Bhayander Municipal Commissioner Vijay Rathod said shops selling essential items, including bakery products and those dealing in food grains, will remain closed during this period.
Home delivery of food grains, vegetables, fish, meat, bakery items will be allowed between 9am to 11pm while milk and dairy items will be delivered at doorsteps between 5am and 10am, the order informed. Medical shops and flour mills are allowed to operate as earlier, and so would banking services like ATMs.
As on Monday night, Thane city has 8,506 COVID-19 cases, which includes 311 deaths, while the number in Mira Bhayandar municipal limits is 3,175, with 142 deaths. PTI
17:51 Services will remain closed for commuters until further notice: Delhi Metro
Delhi Metro services will remain closed for commuters until further notice, in view of the 'Unlock 2' guidelines issued by the government, officials said on Tuesday.
The Delhi Metro has been closed since March 22 when the 'Janata Curfew' was observed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Subsequently, the nationwide lockdown was announced which came into effect from March 25.
"Delhi Metro services will remain closed for commuters until further notice, in view of the guidelines issued by the government," a senior official said. The DMRC also tweeted to announce that services will remain closed. During normal operations days, the average daily ridership of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is over 26 lakh. -- PTI
Rehana Fathima on the way to Sabarimala in 2018
17:47 BSNL asks Rehana Fathima to vacate quarters
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has asked activist Rehana Fathima, booked for posting a video on social media of her minor children painting on her half-naked body, to vacate the quarters she is residing in.
The BSNL, in a notice issued on June 27, said that the raid on the quarters allotted to her in connection with a POCSO case has tarnished the image of the company. "On June 25, the police raided the quarters in which you are residing in the light of POCSO case registered against you. The above event tarnished the image of BSNL.
Hence you are instructed to vacate the quarter within 30 days from the date of receipt of this notice, failing which further proceedings will be initiated for eviction," BSNL said in the notice.
It said that Fathima was given compulsory retirement with effect from May 11 as a part of disciplinary proceedings against her and therefore she is no longer a BSNL employee and is ineligible to occupy the quarters. -- ANI
17:37 IPL should sever ties with Chinese sponsors by 2021: Ness Wadia
Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia on Tuesday called for a gradual end to Chinese sponsorship in the Indian Premier League amid escalating tensions between the two countries owing to the violent clash in eastern Ladakh earlier this month. Calls for boycotting Chinese products have intensified after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley clash on June 15.
The Chinese have so far refused to share details of the casualties they suffered. The incident prompted the BCCI to call a meeting of the IPL Governing Council to review Chinese sponsorships but that meeting is yet to take place.
On Monday, India banned 59 Chinese apps. "We should do it (sever ties with Chinese sponsors in IPL) for the sake of the nation. Country comes first, money is secondary. And it is the Indian Premier League, not the Chinese Premier League. It should leady by example and show the way," Wadia told PTI on Tuesday.
"Yes it would be difficult to find sponsors initially but I am sure there are enough Indian sponsors who can replace them. We must have all the respect for the nation and our government and most importantly for the soldiers who risk their lives for us," said the known Indian businessman.
The Chinese soldiers used stones, nail-studded sticks, iron rods and clubs to carry out a brutal attack on Indian soldiers after they protested the erection of a surveillance post by China on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in Galwan. -- PTI
17:03 Never said Coronil can cure Corona: Patanjali
When you are cornered, this is how you backtrack. Acharya Balkrishna, CEO Patanjali, now says they never made any claims saying the drug Coronil could cure Corona. "We never said the medicine (Coronil) can cure or control Corona. We said that we had made medicines and used them in a clinical controlled trial which cured Corona patients. There is no confusion in it."
Making a clarification on the notice issued by the Uttrakhand Drug department, Patanjali also denied making any medicine called 'Corona kit'.
Patanjali said, ''That it is denied, we have made any medicine named as "Corona Kit". We have only packed the following medicines "Divya Swasari Vati", "Divya Coronil Tablet" & "Divya Anu Tail" in a shipping/packaging carton for shipping purpose. Further we have not commercially sold any kit named as "Coronil Kit" nor we have publicized it against the treatment of Corona (Covid- 19), instead of that we have only promoted the successful trail of the medicine before media.''
In the statement written to the drug department, Patanjali also said that it only shared about the benefits of the medicine and its successful test on people and never said that it can cure coronavirus.
16:53 Why this ex-CM of Maharashtra wants NaMo app banned
Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has demanded a ban on the NaMo app, the official mobile phone application of Indias prime minister.
Chavans demand comes close on the heels of the Indian governments decision to ban 59 Chinese apps citing national security and data privacy issues.
An elected member of the Legislative Assembly from Maharashtras Karad (South) constituency, Chavan has sought a ban on NaMO app citing privacy issues.
I am doing a video which will articulate why I want a ban on the NaMo app. It is a question of privacy of individual data and its safety, the former CM said tersely.
Chavan's tweet in Marathi, roughly translates, "The Union government banned 59 Chinese apps because data privacy of 130 crore Indians were under threat (from these Chinese apps). Using the same logic, the NaMo app that collects individual data of its users, changes privacy settings of app users without their knowledge and sends their data to foreign companies, must also be banned."
When asked if he has any conclusive evidence to prove his allegations, Chavan said, "I will put out a small, cogent video explaining my tweet. The Chinese apps have been banned citing national security and privacy issues; these Chinese apps have been snooping on us. Thats why the government has banned them. In the same way there are various apps that have privacy issues. There are lots of questions about Aarogya Setu (a Union government app that informs users about the presence of COVID-19 positive patients in their vicinity based on their location) app also, which collects private data. This is not about national security but privacy, nothing else.
Responding to why the Maharashtra government has not been able to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in state and the extension of the lockdown till July 31, he said, "I can't answer that question. This decision has been taken in consultation with the central government by the state government based on the spread of the COVID pandemic."
"Its just not about the state government. There are many countries in the world that are not able to contain the pandemic. This is the kind of pandemic that nobody has seen before. If you have any magic potion to contain the pandemic then tell us. We will do it and also ask the Central government to do it. There is no magic formula. Theres no medicine. But the people (our state government) are trying their best, Chavan added.
-- Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com
16:23 Continue following safety measures: PM
The prime minister also reiterated the need for ensuring people followed rules. "During the lockdown, rules were strictly abided by. Now, govts, local administration and citizens again have to show similar caution. We need to have a special focus on containment zones. If you see someone flouting norms, tell them to not do so."
16:21 Free foodgrains to poor till end November: PM
PM Modi's 4 pm speech: "In comparison to other countries across the globe, India is still in a very stable situation, in the battle against COVID-19. Timely decisions and measures have played a great role. Ever since Unlock1 started in the country, negligence in personal and social behaviour has been increasing. Earlier, we were more cautious about the use of masks, 'do gaj doori' and washing hands several times a day for 20 seconds."
"Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, we announced a package of Rs. 1.75 lakh crore. In the last 3 months, Rs. 31,000 crore was deposited in bank accounts of 20 crore poor families. Also, Rs 18000 crore deposited in bank accounts of more than 9 crore farmers.
"The PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will continue till end November. Accordingly, 80 core Indians will get free foodgrains till November. Every family member of will receive 5 kilos of wheat or rice, and one kilo chana every month, from the government. The cost of this measure works out to Rs 90,000 cr.
16:04 People have become careless in Unlockdown 1.0: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his address to the nation.
The Prime Minister asked the people to take care of themselves especially since the coming monsoon season was anyway a harbinger of illnesses.
The timely lockdown has saved lakhs of lives in India, he said. But the moment Unlock 1.0 was announced people have begun to be careless in terms of using a mask, washing hands, maintaining social distancing.
This carelessness is worrying, the PM said.
A few hours ago, the PM chaired a high-level meeting to review the planning and preparations for vaccination against COVID-19, as and when the vaccine is available and highlighted four guiding principles that will form the foundation of this national effort.
15:55 Vistara announces 5-20% pay cut for 40% staff
Vistara on Tuesday announced a pay cut between five to 20 per cent till December this year for around 40 per cent of its employees as cash flow continues to be adversely affected due to the coronavirus pandemic. The full-service carrier has more than 4,000 employees on its payroll.
"About 60 per cent of our employees are not impacted by the pay cut," a Vistara spokesperson said. Vistara CEO Leslie Thng told employees in an email: "From 1st July, 2020, to 31st December, 2020, I will take a 20 per cent pay cut and we will be implementing a monthly pay cut scheme for staff (except for pilots as follows): 1) 15 per cent pay cut for staff in Level 5 and 4, 2) 10 per cent pay cut for staff in Level 3 and 2, and licensed engineers in Level 1C, 3) 5 per cent pay cut for staff in Level 1 with monthly CTC equal or more than Rs 50,000."
"For pilots, we will continue with the reduction of monthly base flying allowance to 20 hours for July to December 2020. Allowances will also be adjusted for pilots under certain categories of training," he added.
Till April, Vistara's pilots were getting base flying allowance, which is a fixed component of the salary, for 70 hours per month. Thng told employees the airline is operating at less than 30 per cent of its original network and the passenger loads on its flights are also not as strong as before the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
"Our financial performance will continue to be negatively affected by COVID-19 as travel confidence and demand will take a while to fully recover to pre COVID-19 level," he added. -- PTI
15:53 Satish Maneshinde is special PP in lynching case
Noted lawyer Satish Maneshinde has been appointed as a special public prosecutor in the Palghar lynching case, an official said on Tuesday. Two monks and their driver were lynched by a mob at Gadchinchale village in Dahanu Taluka of Palghar district when they were travelling in a car to Surat on April 16 on suspicion of being thieves and child-lifters. Manshinde's appointment was confirmed by the state government's law and judiciary department through a notification. Over 135 people, including nine juveniles, have been nabbed in connection with the attack. PTI
15:45 Video on dumping of COVID-19 victims' bodies in Karnataka triggers outrage
A video purportedly showing health workers burying inappropriately some bodies of COVID-19 victims in a large pit allegedly in Ballari district in Karnataka has surfaced, triggering an outrage on social media. A top official in the district, the native of state Health Minister B Sriramulu, said they were inquiring into it. In the video, the workers wearing personal protection equipment are seen bringing bodies in black sheets from a vehicle parked nearby and dropping one after another into the large pit, dug up with the help of an earthmover.
A man who posted the video first on YouTube claimed it happened in Ballari. It went viral on social media drawing widespread condemnation over the manner in which the dead were handled and people demanded stringent action.
"In all, eight bodies were dumped in this fashion in a single pit," an eye-witness claimed. Ballari Deputy Commissioner of S S Nakul said he too has noticed the viral video in the social media. "We have ordered an inquiry," he told reporters in Ballari on Tuesday. The district reported 12 COVID-19 deaths on Monday. Nakul said five more people succumbed to the coronavirus on Tuesday, taking the total fatalities in the district to 29 so far. -- PTI
15:40 Patanjali backtracks on Covid 'cure'
YS Rawat, Licence Officer, Uttarakhand Ayurved Dept on Patanajali's alleged anti-corona drug: "In reply to our notice, Patanjali said no 'Corona Kit' has been packaged by them. Patanjali has printed a representative pic of Coronavirus on 'Coronil' packaging. Samples of 'Coronil and two other drugs have been taken for testing"
15:27 Stepping out of home without a mask? Here's why you shouldn't
Dr Sangita Reddy, joint managing director, Apollo Hospitals, tweets this image, saying, "It's amazing how much good wearing a mask can do!
Check out how the use of normal everyday masks can prevents respiratory droplets from spreading outside ur body & potentially sharing viruses
Wearing a Mask needs 2 become an act of hygiene when in public
15:22 COVID-19 may set back Indian banks' recovery by years: S&P
The COVID-19 pandemic may set back the recovery of India's banking sector by years, which could hit credit flows and, ultimately, the economy, S&P Global Ratings said on Tuesday.
The US-based rating agency expects non-performing loans in Indian banks will hit a fresh high, raising credit costs, and putting pressure on ratings. "In our base case, we expect the non-performing loans to shoot up to 13-14 per cent of total loans in the fiscal yearending March 31, 2021, compared with an estimated 8.5 per cent in the previous fiscal year," said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Deepali Seth-Chhabria.
Moreover, the resolution of these bad-debt situations will likely unfold slowly, which means banks may also be saddled with a huge stock of bad loans next year. "We assume only about a 100 basis point improvement in non-performing loans in fiscal 2022 (yearending March 31, 2022)," she added. S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Geeta Chugh saidthe effect on finance companies will be more pronounced than on banks.
"Some finance companies lend to weaker customers and have high reliance on wholesale funding. These companies were already facing a trust deficit since the 2018 default of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services. Finance companies also face accentuated liquidity risks due to high proportion of borrowers opting for loan moratorium, she said. -- PTI
A still from the film, Catch me if you can
15:17 Con man inspired by movie 'Catch Me If You Can' held
A 23-year-old man has been arrested here in Gujarat for allegedly cheating 15 different firms of at least Rs 50 lakh through forgery in the last four years, crime branch said on Tuesday. The accused, Jay Soni, was inspired by Hollywood movie 'Catch Me If You Can' to commit the crime which involved forging documents and hiding his real identity to fraudulently withdraw money from banks, according to crime branch. Soni was arrested on Monday after a detailed probe into his modus operandi which involved not leaving behind any clue about his real identity or whereabouts, said a release.
At least seven complaints of cheating and forgery were filed against Soni in Ahmedabd, two in Vadodara and six in Jaipur in Rajasthan, it said. This is the first time since 2016 that Soni, who has allegedly siphoned off lakhs of rupees from bank accounts of companies where he used to work, has been picked up. He has been involved in cheating of over Rs 50 lakh, the crime branch said.
"It all started in 2015 when Soni and his father Ramesh Soni watched the movie 'Catch Me If You Can', which was based on the life of American cheque forger and conman Frank Abagnale," the release said. Soni is a native of Khedbrahma in Gujarat. "Both Soni and his father studied in an English medium school.
After watching the movie, they decided to make money using forged cheques. First, Soni learnt accounting and auditing. He then learnt basics of computer from YouTube and prepared a forged PAN card and Aadhaar card with a fake name and address using MS Paint application," it stated. Soni purchased SIM cards with the help of the forged documents to open bank accounts, the release said, adding that his father had helped him in buying SIM cards. Armed with a fake identity, Soni used to give interviews for the post of accountant or auditor.
"While working in office, Soni used to steal cheques and prepare duplicate stamps of the firm he is working for. He used to forge the signature of company proprietor and clear cheques in his own favour," the crime branch said. Soni then used to transfer that money into other bank accounts or mobile wallets. He would resign after committing the crime, it said.
Since he used to submit forged documents and ID proofs, police often could not identify or trace him despite collecting information from his employers and banks. After a thorough investigation, crime branch officials finally located him to his residence in Udaipur in neighbouring Rajasthan. He was kept under watch and was arrested as soon as he landed in Ahmedabad for a job interview, the release said. Soni's father had been arrested in 2003 by city police for selling stolen vehicles. PTI
15:09 J&J to start human trials for nCov vaccine in July
Johnson & Johnson is preparing the ground for the entry of a vaccine against COVID-19 and is expanding its manufacturing capacity to supply more than one billion doses through 2021 in a not-for-profit project aimed at the common person, says its top scientist.
The US-based pharma giant, which has already advanced its schedule of starting human trials of its candidate vaccine to the second half of July from September, is working on the twin fronts of expanding existing manufacturing capacity and establishing new units, Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels told PTI.
"We plan to begin production at risk and are committed to bringing an affordable vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use. We are expanding our global manufacturing capacity, including establishing new vaccine manufacturing capabilities, Stoffels said in an email interview from Belgium.
"We are also scaling up capacities in other countries to further our goal to supply more than one billion doses of the vaccine globally through the course of 2021, provided the vaccine is safe and effective," he added. J&J has joined hands with the US government for a $1 billion investment to speed up development and production of its vaccine. The company's efforts, part of the global race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, comes as the pandemic continues its spread with more than 10 million cases and over 5,05,000 fatalities across the world.
14:50 PM calls meeting on Covid vaccination
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparations being undertaken for a vaccination against COVID-19, as and when a vaccine is available. Modi directed officials to evaluate various technology tools to ensure efficient and timely vaccination in due course of time.
The Prime Minister also directed that detailed planning for such large scale vaccination should be undertaken immediately.
The current status of Indian and global vaccine development efforts was also reviewed at the meeting. Prime Minister Modi highlighted India's responsibility and commitment to the global community to play an enabling role in global vaccination efforts against COVID19.
14:34 Dancer Astad Deboo has a new fan
Padma Shri and Indian contemporary dancer and choreographer Astad Deboo tells us that former US President, Barack Obamas, sister Dr Maya Soetoro-Ng, has chanced upon his work, Boundaries, and liked it very much. She now wants to send it to her brother, the former US President and his friends, for a dekko. Maya, incidentally, is the Indonesian maternal half-sister of Obama.
We'll let you know what Mr Obama thinks of Astad's lithe steps choreographed with magic, but we're pretty sure he'll ask for an encore.
14:19 The 100th Raising Day of 22 Mountain Regiment
Major General Gurdip Uban (retd), tells Rediff.com: "Today is the Centenary, the 100th Raising Day, of my Unit, the 22 Mountain Regiment. It has taken part in battles in the Middle East, Africa, Burma, Afghanistan and every major action post Independence. It has been awarded 22 Battle Honours.
"During the Second World War, Havaldar Umrao Singh of the unit was awarded the highest British military award for bravery, the Victoria Cross.
"My late father Major General Sujan Singh Uban has been the Commanding Officer of this regiment, and I have had the privilege of serving with them in the extremely rugged and difficult terrain of Dharchula/Lipu Lekh, where the current dispute with Nepal is taking place.
"Major General Sujan Singh Uban commanded the unit in in the mid 1950s as a lieutenant colonel. Later, he raised and commanded the Special Frontier Force, also known as Establishment 22, during the Bangladesh War. He cleared the Chittagong Hill Tracts and was poised for the capture of Chittagong port when a ceasefire was declared."
14:15 Court stays FIRs against Arnab Goswami
Bombay High Court stays both FIRs filed against Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami over alleged communalisation of the incidents of the Palghar lynching and the gathering of migrant workers at Bandra station. A division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riyaz Chagla observed prima facie no case was made out against him.
Senior advocates Harish Salve and Milind Sathe appearing for Goswami said that the FIRs were politically motivated.
In May, the Supreme Court had refused to quash the initial FIR against the Republic TV Editor-in-chief over his news show on the Palghar mob lynching but gave some relief by setting aside related multiple FIRs and complaints holding they had a "stifling" effect on the exercise of freedom and expression.
Observing that free citizens cannot exist when the news media is chained to adhere to one position, the court said journalistic freedom lies at "the core" of the fundamental right to free speech and India's freedom will rest safe as long as journalists can speak to power without being "chilled by a threat of reprisal."
14:03 Taj hotel security beefed up after threat call: Mumbai police
Police on Tuesday beefed up the security outside the Taj hotel in south Mumbai after a threat call, a senior official said. The iconic hotel in Colaba area was among the targets of Pakistani terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. The phone call was received at 12.30 am on Tuesday and the caller, who claimed he was from Karachi in Pakistan, said the hotel will be attacked, the official said. Immediately after receiving the call, the hotel management informed police, following which security of he hotel has been stepped up, the official said. Adequate police deployment has been made in the area around the hotel and entry and exit restricted on the roads leading to the hotel, he said.
The official told PTI that Mumbai police are on high alert after Monday's Karachi exchange terror attack and as part of the enhanced anti-terror measures, security outside the hotel and other vital installations has been increased. "Police are on alert and an adequate number of police personnel have been deployed in the (Taj hotel) area," the official said. PTI
13:17 China strongly concerned about India's ban on apps
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian reacts to India banning Chinese apps: "China is strongly concerned, verifying the situation," he said.
India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.
TikTok on Tuesday said it is in the process of complying with the government's order on blocking of the app, and asserted that it has not shared information of Indian users with any foreign government, including that of China.
The short video-sharing company said it has been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications.
13:13 Father-son custodial deaths: Case against cops
The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday observed that there are sufficient grounds for the registration of a case against police officials in connection with the alleged custodial death of a father and son in Thoothukudi.
A division bench of justices PN Prakash and Pugazhendhi made the observation based on the preliminary postmortem report, which notes evidence of wounds, and judicial inquirer's findings. The high court also asked Tirunelveli Inspector General if it will be possible to take up the case until it is handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The court also sought a response within four weeks from Additional Deputy Superintendent of Police, Deputy Superintendent of Police and police officials on the judicial magistrate contempt issue.
Earlier, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court had held that it will not interfere with the decision of the Tamil Nadu government to transfer the case related to the alleged custodial deaths of a father and son in Thoothukudi district to the CBI.
P Jayaraj (59) and his son J Benicks (31) were picked up by police and put in Kovilpatti sub-jail on June 21 as they had kept their mobile phone accessories shop in the Sathankulam main bazaar area open during the curfew timing of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
A case was also filed against the two under relevant charges for the same.The father and son were admitted to the Kovilpatti government hospital on June 22. While the son died on the same night, the father breathed his last on June 23 morning.
Meanwhile, IG Police, EOW, Dr S Murugan has been transferred to Madurai as IG Police. S Jeyakumar, SP, Villuparam district has been transferred as SP Thoothukudi.-- ANI
13:03 Pinjra Tod member to be given access to legal counsel
Efforts will be made to provide a Pinjra Tod member, arrested in a case related to the communal violence in north-east Delhi earlier this year, 30-minute meetings with her lawyer twice a week via video-conferencing, Tihar authorities told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday. There was no objection to Pinjra Tod's (Break the Cage) Natasha Narwal sourcing books from outside, provided the material does not infract any provision of the jail rules, they added.
The submissions were made by Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, representing the Tihar jail authorities, in response to Narwal's plea that she be provided books and reading material to complete her M.Phil, and allowed to have 30 minutes' legal interviews twice a week with her lawyer via video-conferencing. Mehra assured the court that, subject to adjustments which maybe required, efforts would be made to provide two video-conferencing facilities of 30 minutes each every week for Narwal.
Noting the submissions of Tihar's counsel and that the grievances of the accused have been resolved, Justice C Hari Shankar said, "This litigation has ended on a happy note. The petition is disposed of." The court also placed its appreciation for proactive approach of Mehra.
12:33 BJP says Make in India but buys from China: Rahul
Amid calls for boycotting Chinese products after India-China face-off in eastern Ladakh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government claiming that imports from China have increased under the NDA regime.
"Facts don't lie. BJP says: Make in India. BJP does: Buy from China," Gandhi tweeted along with a graphic of the percentage of imports from China during the UPA rule and the NDA government.
The graphic claims that imports from China were at 12-13 per cent when the Congress-led UPA government vacated office in 2014 but now stood at 17-18 per cent in 2020.
The Congress leader has been vehemently targeting the Centre on the India-China border situation after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent face-off with Chinese troops in Ladakh's Galwan valley earlier this month. -- ANI
Image: Rahul Gandhi tweeted this graph showing higher imports from China under the NDA
12:20 Mutations making coronavirus more contagious: Researchers
About 70 per cent of the 50,000 genomes of the coronavirus that was uploaded by researchers have undergone mutations. Researchers from Northwest University's medical school in Chicago believe that mutation in the coronavirus has made it considerably more contagious.
At first glance, the mutations seemed trivial. About 1,300 amino acids serve as building blocks for a protein on the surface of the virus. But the locations of the mutation is significant because the switch occurred in the part of the genome that codes for the all-important "spike protein", The Washington Post reported.
In the mutant virus, the genetic instructions for just one of the amino acids switched in the new variant from a "D" (aspartic acid) to "G" (glycine)Egen Ozer an infectious disease specialist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, examined the genetic structure of virus samples from local patients, he noticed the mutations appearing again and again.
At least four laboratory experiments suggest that mutation makes the virus more infectious, although none of that work has been peer-reviewed.
"The epidemiological study and our data together really explain why the (G variant's) spread in Europe and the US was really fast," said Hyeryun Choe, a virologist at Scripps Research and lead author of an unpublished study on the G variant's enhanced infectiousness in laboratory cell cultures. "This is not just accidental."
"The bottom line is, we have not seen anything definitive yet," said Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can not live or reproduce on its own. So, it breaks into human cells and co-opts their biological machinery to make thousands of copies itself.
This replication process is messy. Even though it has a "proofreading" mechanism for copying its genome, the coronavirus frequently makes mistakes or mutations.
Ever since the genome of the virus was sequenced in January, scientists have been on lockout for changes that are meaningful. -- ANI
12:10 Aamir Khan's staff test Covid +ve
Actor Aamir Khan tweeted to say that he was on his way to hospital to get his mother tested for the Coronavirus.
He said a few members of his staff had tested positive for the virus and had been quarantined at a BMC facility.
He said his family had been tested and nobody had contracted the virus.
"Right now I'm taking my mother to get her tested. She is the last person in the loop. Please pray that she is negative," Aamir wrote.
He also thanked the BMC for their promptness in fumigating the building and the housing society and taking care of his staff. See his tweet alongside.
Maharashtra recorded another massive surge of 5,257 fresh COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking the States total case tally to 1,69,883. As the number of coronavirus cases has been increasing, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has identified 750 COVID-19 coronavirus containment zones.
11:56 Drones used to spray insecticides in Agra as locusts swarms arrive
Drones are being used to spray insecticides as swarms of locusts arrived in Uttar Pradesh's Agra district following which 60 per cent of locusts have been killed, said SN Singh, Assistant Director, Agriculture Department.
Speaking to ANI, SN Singh, Assistant Director, Agriculture Department said, "Around 60 per cent of locusts have been killed. Four drones given by the central government are being used to spray insecticides".
"The swarms of locusts arrived here at around 8 pm to 9 pm yesterday. We used tractors and fire brigades for spraying here. Now a team assigned by Central Government has also arrived here with four drones to kill the locusts," said Rampravesh Kumar, District Agricultural, Defense Officer Agra.
A resident, Nihal Singh who came out for a walk, told ANI that a large number of locusts surfaced this early in the morning and it became difficult for the locals to even walk.
11:50 Over one crore people used Shiv Bhojan scheme: Uddhav
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said more than one crore people have so far benefitted from the state government's 'Shiv Bhojan' thali scheme, which was started in January this year to serve a full meal to the poor at Rs 10. In view of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, meals were served at Rs 5 per plate, and stranded migrant workers and students, homeless people and many other citizens benefited from the scheme, Thackeray said in a statement.
There are 848 Shiv Bhojan centres in the state and the scheme is being implemented till the taluka level, he said. "The scheme, started on January 26 this year, was aimed at benefitting the poor and downtrodden and till today 1,00,00,870 thalis have been served. The scheme is proving to be a boon for the needy persons," the chief minister said.
Under the scheme, 79,918 thalis were served in January, 4,67,869 in February, 5,78,031 in March, 24,99,257 in April, 33,84,040 in May and 29,91,755 thalis were served in June, he said. The Shiv Bhojan canteens also adhered to the hygiene protocols during the lockdown period, Thackeray said. He said the state food and civil supplies department needs to be appreciated for handling the scheme in a very organised manner. PTI
11:40 3rd round of talks between India-China begin
The third round of talk between Indian and Chinese Army at Chushul at the LAC in South Eastern Ladhak starts amid mounting tension at the border. These are Lt General level talks.
The two armies have increased deployment of troops along the Line of Actual Control in the Ladakh region. Tuesday's talks will take place in the Chushul on Indian side of the LAC, PTI reported quoting official sources.
The first two rounds of talks had taken place in Moldo on Chinese side of the LAC.The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last six weeks, and the tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash in Galwan valley on June 15.
Following the Galwan vally clashes, the Army has sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the Line of Actual Control in various sectors including in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
11:20 53 BSF personnel test positive for COVID-19
At least 53 more Border Security Force personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, as per information provided by the BSF. An official statement by the BSF informed that a total of 1,018 coronavirus cases have been reported so far amongst its personnel. This includes 345 active cases and 659 recoveries. While four have succumbed to the infection. India's COVID-19 count now stands at 5,66,840, with 18,522 positive cases in the last 24 hours. -- ANI
11:16 Bengal mulling introduction of chapter on coronavirus in school curriculum
In a bid to make students aware of COVID-19, the West Bengal education department is considering introducing a chapter on the deadly virus in the school curriculum from 2021, an official said on Tuesday. State education minister Partha Chatterjee has recently raised the issue on how to disseminate information about the nature of the novel coronavirus and necessary precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak, the official of the syllabus committee said.
"We are holding discussions on the issue among members and experts," syllabus committee chairman Aveek Majumder told PTI. There are plans to introduce the topic on the coronavirus from junior to higher classes, another official said. Learning basic hygiene and safety measures to prevent contamination in junior classes and letting the higher class students know the type of contagion and its mutants are important in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, he said.
"Apart from teachers and educationists, we need to take the expert views from doctors, virologists, epidemiologists before deciding on the exact content of the chapter," Majumder added. -- PTI
11:03 ICMR's Covid warrior Raman Gangakhedkar to retire
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday announced that senior scientist Raman Gangakhedkar would be retiring today. "Raman Gangakhedkar, senior scientist of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is retiring today. He has played a key role in combating the on-going COVID-19 pandemic in the country," said an ICMR official.
Gangadkhedar was the head scientist of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the National Institute of Virology, ICMR.He is also a recipient of the 2020 Padma Shri Award. -- PTI
10:41 New swine flu in China has pandemic potential
Researchers in China have discovered a new type of swine flu that is capable of triggering a pandemic, according to a study published in the US science journal PNAS.
Named G4, it is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.
It possesses "all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans," say the authors, scientists at Chinese universities and China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
From 2011 to 2018, researchers took 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces and in a veterinary hospital, allowing them to isolate 179 swine flu viruses.
The majority were of a new kind which has been dominant among pigs since 2016.
The researchers then carried out various experiments including on ferrets, which are widely used in flu studies because they experience similar symptoms to humans -- principally fever, coughing and sneezing.
G4 was observed to be highly infectious, replicating in human cells and causing more serious symptoms in ferrets than other viruses.
Tests also showed that any immunity humans gain from exposure to seasonal flu does not provide protection from G4.
According to blood tests which showed up antibodies created by exposure to the virus, 10.4 percent of swine workers had already been infected.
The tests showed that as many as 4.4 percent of the general population also appeared to have been exposed.
The virus has therefore already passed from animals to humans but there is no evidence yet that it can be passed from human to human -- the scientists' main worry.
"It is of concern that human infection of G4 virus will further human adaptation and increase the risk of a human pandemic," the researchers wrote.
The authors called for urgent measures to monitor people working with pigs.
10:23 India sees spike of 18,522 COVID-19 cases
With a spike of 18,522 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, India's coronavirus count now stand at 5,66,840, said the Union health and family welfare ministry on Tuesday.
According to the ministry, 418 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in the last 24 hours. The number of deaths in the country now stands at 16,893.
There are 2,15,125 active coronavirus cases in the country while the number of cured/discharged patients stands at 3,34,821 and one patient migrated.
As per the ministry, Maharashtra is the worst-hit state with regard to the COVID-19 cases and has reported 1,69,883 cases, including 73, 313 active cases 88,960 cured/discharged patients and 7,610 fatalities.
Tamil Nadu has a total of 86,224 cases including 1,141 deaths. Delhi's COVID-19 count stands at 85,161 cases and 2,680 fatalities.
The total number of samples tested up to June 29 is 86,08,654 of which 2,10,292 samples were tested yesterday, informed the Indian Council of Medical Research.
10:06 Broadway to remain closed for the rest of 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic
Broadway's theatres will remain closed until January next year as the industry figures out a plan to function amid coronavirus pandemic, trade group the Broadway League has announced.
The Broadway League said that theatre owners and producers will refund or exchange tickets previously purchased for shows through January 3, 2021, reported Variety.
Broadway's theatres have been shutdown since March 12 due to the pandemic, making it the longest period of time that theatres have been closed.
"The Broadway experience can be deeply personal but it is also, crucially, communal. The alchemy of 1,000 strangers bonding into a single audience fuelling each performer on stage and behind the scenes will be possible again when Broadway theatres can safely host full houses," said Broadway League board chairman Thomas Schumacher.
He said the League plans to open the theatres only when it is safe for the cast and crew involved.
"The safety of our cast, crew, orchestra and audience is our highest priority and we look forward to returning to our stages only when it's safe to do so. One thing is for sure, when we return we will be stronger and more needed than ever."
Broadway League president Charlotte St Martin said they are working closely with the city and state officials to find the best way to reopen.
09:51 Complying with govt's orders: TikTok
TikTok India said today that it is complying with the government's orders after it was blocked on Monday along with 58 apps with Chinese links.
The popular short video service also said it "continued to comply with data privacy and security requirements under Indian law" and had not shared any information of users in India with "any foreign government, including the Chinese government".
"We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications," TikTok India head Nikhil Gandhi said in a statement.
09:39 Taj Mahal Palace receive threat call from Pakistan
The Taj Mahal Palace, Hotel Colaba and Taj Lands End on Monday received threatening calls. The threatening calls, received at 12:30 am, were made from Pakistan. Security has been beefed up.
09:02 Indian websites not accessible in China
While Indian newspapers and TV channels continue to pick up reports about the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) from Chinese Communist propaganda sites, the Indian newspapers and websites cannot be accessed in Beijing now without Virtual Private Network server.
According to diplomatic sources in Beijing, the Indian TV channels can be accessed through IP TV as of now. However, ExpressVPN had not been working in the Communist state for the past two days on iPhone as well as desktops.
The blocking of Indian websites is the latest amid the ongoing tension between India and China after the Ladakh stand-off on June 15. The latest development coincides with the Indian governments move to ban 59 applications, most of them Chinese.
The popular apps which have been banned include TikTok, UC Browser, SHAREiT and WeChat. The government has cited concerns that that these applications are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
The move comes after weeks of discussions within the government that began before the border dispute with China flared up earlier this month, but was expedited in the aftermath of the deadly June 15 confrontation in Galwan Valley, officials said.
08:46 Pakistan violates ceasefire in J-K's Baramulla
Pakistan on Tuesday violated ceasefire along the Line of Control in the Naugam Sector of the Baramulla district.
The ceasefire violation by Pakistan took place on Tuesday morning by firing mortars and other weapons.
"On 30 Jun 2020 in the morning hours, Pakistan started unprovoked ceasefire violence along the LOC in Naugam Sector, Baramulla by firing mortars and other weapons," tweeted the Chinar Corps, Indian Army.
"A befitting response is being given," the tweet added.
08:25 2 dead following gas leak at Visakhapatnam unit
Two workers died and four were hospitalised on Tuesday after a gas leak occurred in a factory in Visakhapatnam.
The leakage of benzimidazole gas occurred at Sainor Life Sciences Pvt Ltd in Visakhapatnam on Monday night.
Uday Kumar, Inspector, Parwada Police Station said that the situation is under control now.
"Two people dead and four are admitted at hospitals. The situation is under control now. The two persons who died were workers and were present at the leakage site. Gas has not spread anywhere else," said Uday Kumar.
Earlier on May 7, styrene gas, which leaked from the gas plant of LG Polymers in RR Venkatapuram village in Visakhapatnam district, had claimed over 10 lives and had left several people ill.
07:58 Coronavirus pandemic is far from over: WHO
The coronavirus pandemic is not even close to being over, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus while adding that about 1,80,000 people worldwide have tested positive in the last 24 hours.
"The reality is this is not close to being over... Globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up," Tedros said.
He said, "For many of our countries to really not hunt down this virus is our failure in contact tracing, because we have lame excuses, saying it's too many and it's too difficult to trace."
"Trust me, there is not too many even in a world situation. If contact tracing helps you to win the fight, you do it, even risking your life," he added.
Tedros also said that the WHO would be sending a team to Wuhan next week to investigate the potential animal source of the new coronavirus.
As per the latest update by the Johns Hopkins University, a total of 10,199,798 coronavirus cases and 502,947 deaths have been reported so far.
00:11 Mumbai's 2-km radius diktat: 16k vehicles seized
A total of 16,291 vehicles were seized in Mumbai on Monday on the second day of a crackdown on journey distance violations amid the coronavirus outbreak, police said.
The police had, on Monday, issued a diktat prohibiting people from moving beyond a 2-kilometre radius from their homes in a bid to contain the virus spread.
The number of vehicles seized from the city's 12 police zones was 875, 654, 392, 430, 159, 1138, 1823, 187, 582, 461, 389 and 418, while port zone seized 172 vehicles, taking the total to 7,680, an official said.
The traffic unit of Mumbai police seized 8,611 vehicles, comprising 1601 private cars, 6241 two-wheelers, 474 autorickshaws and 295 taxis on Monday, he added. -- PTI
Image: Commuters argue with the police during strict checking amid COVID-19 lockdown, at Byculla in Mumbai. Photograph: Shashank Parade/PTI Photo