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Fri, 23 July 2021
Army deploys 15 teams in Maha for flood relief

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23:34   Mufti's kin, separatists, J&K leaders on latest Pegasus list
Phone numbers of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Muftis family, Kashmiri politicians, separatist leaders and journalists were selected as possible targets for phone surveillance between 2017 and 2019, online news portal The Wire said on Friday.

The Wire, part of a 17-member global investigative media consortium, reported that two family members of Mufti were found on a list of people who could potentially be targeted by Pegasus, an Israeli military grade spyware to infiltrate phones for snooping and surveillance.

Their names were chosen months before Muftis coalition government collapsed after the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew support.

Sharing the link of The Wires story, Mufti said in a tweet: A spyware used against terrorists has been weaponised to deal with political opponents & dissenters. BJP has taken a leaf out of how Britishers would suspect & treat Indians during the colonial era. GOI has gone rogue & is brazenly subverting basic human rights.
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23:09   Army deploys 15 teams in Maha for flood relief
With heavy rains wreaking havoc in Maharashtra, the Indian Army has mobilised its teams to assist the local administration in flood-affected areas, it said on Friday.
 
A total of 15 relief and rescue teams comprising troops from the Aundh Military Station and Bombay Engineer Group based at Pune have been deployed in affected areas, a defense release said.

The army has launched `Operation Varsha 21' for flood relief and rescue work in the state, it said.

"With the unprecedented rains and resultant heavy flow of water in various rivers, a number of areas in many states are likely to be impacted by floods. Presently the districts of Ratnagiri, Raigad, Pune, Satara, Kolhapur and Sangli in Maharashtra have been affected," it said.

"These columns will be assisting the civil administration in the rescue of local population stranded in submerged areas till normalcy is restored," it said.

Lt Gen J S Nain, GOC-In-C Southern Command, stated that the "Indian Army stands with people in these testing times and all assistance will be provided by the army in the affected areas".  

-- PTI
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22:41   Sonia-Mamata meet likely
The Trinamool Congress and the Congress, the two bitter political rivals in West Bengal, seem to be coming closer, and ironically its the Pegasus snooping scandal that is doing the trick.

The two parties have their leaders names in the list of potential Pegasus targets -- Abhishek Banerjee from TMC and Rahul Gandhi from Congress.

The first sign of the two political adversaries coming together was the presence of veteran Congress leaders P. Chidambaram and Digvijaya Singh, who were invited by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjeeat to the virtual Martyrs Day event on July 21. Martyrs Day marks the firing on Congress protesters in 1993 Kolkata by the then ruling Left Front government.

Sources say Banerjee extended invitation to senior Congress leaders as she believes that no front would be able to take on the BJP juggernaut in 2024 general elections if its devoid of the Congress, notwithstanding the partys dismal poll record in recent state elections.

Another clear sign of TMC cosying up to Congress is the likely meeting of Banerjee with Sonia Gandhi during her Delhi visit next week. Banerjee has always had a good rapport with Sonia Gandhi even though she has been critical of Rahul Gandhi in the past.

Banerjee is determined to unseat PM Modis BJP in 2024, but is also aware that it may not be easy, and, therefore, shes trying to get the warring regional parties together to halt the BJP juggernaut in 2024. Sources close to the Bengal CM also said that for Banerjee, the bigger battle is the 2024 Lok Sabha election, for which she is ready to give up her anger and bitterness for the Congress for a while.
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22:23   TMC condemns suspension of Rajya Sabha member Santanu Sen
The Trinamool Congress on Friday condemned the suspension of its Rajya Sabha member Santanu Sen, alleging that the order was "malicious" and "arbitrary".
  
Sen was on Friday suspended from the Rajya Sabha for the remaining period of the Monsoon session for snatching and tearing the statement of IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on the Pegasus row, as Upper House Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu dubbed Sen's action as an "assault on the country's parliamentary democracy".

"We consider Sen's suspension as malicious and arbitrary. We condemn it. The order was without any justification and has no provision in law," TMC RS member and party's chief whip Sukhendu Shekhar Ray said in a press conference.

Referring to the recent ruckus in Parliament, the TMC leader alleged that some BJP leaders belong to the same group that was responsible for "killings in Gujarat".

"Why was a BJP leader denied entry into the US? In West Bengal too, they brought anti-social elements. A party which indulges in violence from day one and has a history of butchering people with an attitude of might should not lecture others," he said. 

The TMC MP, however, did not name anyone.

"They will suspend us and the people will suspend them," Ray said.

He further alleged that Union minister Hardeep Puri was abusive towards Sen, a charge denied by the minister.

-- PTI
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22:01   Bharat Biotech ends agreement with Brazilian firms
Bharat Biotech said it terminated the Memorandum of Understanding entered with Precisa Medicamentos and Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC for its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin for the Brazilian market.

The termination of the MoU came after the deal with the Brazilian government for supply of 20 million doses of the vaccine landed in controversy and attracted investigation by authorities in that country.

Precisa Medicamentos is Bharat Biotech's partner in Brazil, providing assistance, guidance and support with regulatory submissions, licensure, distribution, insurance and conduct of phase III clinical trials, among others.
  
 "The Company has terminated the said MOU with immediate effect. Notwithstanding such termination, Bharat
Biotech will continue to work diligently with ANVISA, the Brazilian drug regulatory body to complete the regulatory approval process for Covaxin," it said.
   
Bharat Biotech is pursuing approvals in various countries as per legal requirements applicable in each country, it said.
   
Bharat Biotech signed a MoU with Precisa Medicamentos and Envixia Pharmaceuticals LL.C on November 20 for the purpose of introducing Covaxin in the territory of Brazil.
     
The global pricing of the vaccine has been set between $15-20 and accordingly, the jab was offered to the Government of Brazil at the rate of $15 per dose, Bharat Biotech said.
   
It is further stated that the company has not received any advance payments from, nor has it supplied any vaccines to the Ministry of Health in Brazil, the company said.

-- PTI
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21:41   Kundra arrest: Shilpa trolled for promoting film
Actor Shilpa Shetty got trolled over social media after she urged her fans and followers to watch her comedy-drama 'Hungama 2' amid her husband Raj Kundra's arrest in porn films case.

Shilpa's much-awaited comeback movie 'Hungama 2', released on Disney+ Hotstar on Friday amid the ongoing arrest of her businessman husband Raj Kundra's pornography case. 

Taking to her Twitter handle, Shilpa shared the poster of the film and captioned it as, "I believe and practice the teachings of Yoga, 'The only place where life exists is the present moment, NOW'. Hungama 2 involves the relentless efforts of an entire team that's worked very hard to make a good film, and the film shouldn't suffer... ever!"

She added, "So today, I request you all to watch Hungama 2 with your families to put a smile on your face and for the sake of every single person attached to the film. Thank you! With gratitude, Shilpa Shetty Kundra."

As soon as the actor shared the post, many social media users chimed into the comments section to troll her regarding her husband's case.

"Have to be so fearless to promote the movie on Twitter even if your husband is in jail," one user wrote.

Another wrote, "Why didn't you give all the gyaan and all teachings to Raj Kundra? There cannot be any smoke without fire...Cricket betting/cheating case and now this...You said once that you both struggled and came to this level and enjoying this lifestyle...but now it is exposed."

"One always have a choice in life at every stage. It is greed that pushes you to do wrong things in life. Greed is good if it pushes you to achieve things with the right approach. But everyone wants shortcuts in life and get into this kind of a mess," a user wrote in the comments section.

A social media user even tweeted, "ab apke pati ki news dekhe ya Hungama2," (should we watch your husband's news, or Hungama 2."

Earlier in the day, Shilpa shared the first social media post since the arrest and ongoing investigations of husband Raj Kundra for allegedly making pornographic films. The cryptic Instagram post, which appeared to be a page out of author James Thurber's books read, "Do not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awareness."

After the arrest on late night of July 19, many industry faces have stepped in and shared their side and cases related to Kundra and his business of pornographic films.

-- ANI
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21:27   Tokyo Olympic flame is the first powered by hydrogen
Inspired by the sun, the Tokyo Olympic cauldron is designed to be better for the planet.
 
The flame at Tokyo's National Stadium and another cauldron burning along the waterfront near Tokyo Bay throughout the games will be sustained in part by hydrogen, the first time the fuel source will be used to power an Olympic fire.
Previous flames have usually run on propane, although magnesium, gunpowder, resin and olive oil have also been used since the first modern cauldron was lit for the Amsterdam Games in 1928. The torch relay was introduced eight years later for Berlin.
Unlike propane, hydrogen does not produce carbon dioxide when combusted. The Tokyo cauldron is fueled by hydrogen produced by a factory in the Fukushima prefecture that runs on renewable energy. Propane and hydrogen were both used during the torch relay.

The Tokyo cauldron was designed by Canadian architect Oki Sato. His sun-inspired orb unfolds like petals from a flower, which organisers say "embody vitality and hope".

Tennis player Naomi Osaka lit the torch with performers from throughout the ceremony holding sunflowers, famous for blooming toward the sun.
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21:00   Nearly 39L COVID vaccines administered today
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday informed that India's cumulative COVID vaccination coverage has exceeded 42.75 crores (42,75,00,272).

As per the 7 pm provisional report, nearly 39 lakh (38,87,028) vaccine doses have been administered today, as per 7 pm provisional report. 18,09,954 vaccine doses were administered as the first dose and 1,92,363 vaccine doses were given as the second dose in the age group 18-44 years today.

Cumulatively, 13,52,21,119 persons in the age group 18-44 years across 37 States and Union Territories have received their first dose and a total of 57,54,908 have received their second dose since the start of Phase-3 of the vaccination drive.

The new phase of universalisation of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on June 21.

As many as 35,342 new COVID-19 cases and 38,740 recoveries were reported in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry informed on Friday.

The cumulative positive cases now stand at 3,12,93,062, including 3,04,68,079 recoveries and 4,05,513 active cases. The country's COVID death tally has reached 4,19,470, including 483 in the last 24 hours. 

-- ANI
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20:45   Maha govt announces Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia for kin of those killed in landslides
The Maharashtra government on Friday announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each to the kin of people who have died in landslides triggered by heavy rains in different parts of the state.
  
A statement from the Chief Minister's Office said, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who announced the financial assistance, also  expressed grief over the loss of lives.

The statement said landslides have been reported in ten places - Poladpur (2 incidents) and Mahad (1) talukas of Raigad district, one each in Khed in Ratnagiri district, Mirgaon, Ambeghar, Humbhrali, Dhokwale villages in Patan taluka and Kondvali, Mojhejor villages  in Wai taluka of Satara district.

The injured will be treated in hospitals at government expense, the statement said, without disclosing their figure.

An official in the CMO said as per information received, 42 people have died in Raigad district and two in Satara district in separate incidents of landslide.

Heavy rains since the last two days have caused massive floods in Raigad, Ratnagiri, Palghar, Thane, Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts.

Earlier in the day, Thackeray visited the disaster management authority control room in Mantralaya (state secretariat) in south Mumbai and took stock of the situation arising out of downpour and flooding in Konkan and western Maharashtra.

-- PTI
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20:18   How's India's monsoon looking so far
Here's a snapshot of the distribution of rainfall in India from June 1 to date. 
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20:03   Cops record Shilpa Shetty's statement
After arresting her husband and businessman Raj Kundra in a case of alleged production and distribution of pornographic films through apps, Mumbai Police on Friday recorded the statement of  Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, an official said. 

Shetty's statement was recorded at her house in suburban Juhu in the afternoon, he said. 

The crime branch of Mumbai Police also conducted a search of the house and seized a laptop, the official added. 
As Shetty was a director of Viaan Industries, Kundra's firm, the police decided to question her, he said, adding that she had later resigned from the post.

Earlier in the day, a court extended Kundra's police custody till July 27. He was arrested in the case on July 19.

-- PTI
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19:35   US State Secretary to visit India on July 27-28
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be on a two-day visit to India from July 27 to 28, according to sources.

Sources familiar with the visit details said that Blinken is also likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

It is learnt that preparations for the high-level visit is underway.

Jaishankar and Blinken had already met thrice in span of last one year. After US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visit to India, this will be the second high profile visit of the member of Biden administration.

Recovery from Covid situation, vaccines, deteriorating security scenario in Afghanistan and China is expected to figure on the agenda.
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19:18   EU approves Moderna vaccine for 12-17-yr-olds
The European Medicines Agency has recommended approving Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 17, the first time the shot has been authorised for people under 18.
  
In a decision on Friday, the EU drug regulator said research in more than 3,700 children aged 12 to 17 showed that the Moderna vaccine -- already given the OK for adults across Europe -- produced a comparable antibody response. 

Until now, the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech has been the only option for children in North America and Europe. 

The US Food and Drug Administration is currently considering whether to extend the use of the Moderna vaccine for children under 18.

With global vaccine supplies still tight, much of the world still is struggling to immunize adults. US and European regulators do caution that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear linked to an extremely rare reaction in teens and young adults -- chest pain and heart inflammation.
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19:00   'Let us Cheer4India!' PM watches opening ceremony
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday wished his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga for the Olympics which got underway in Tokyo and said "we look forward to a season of incredible performances by the world's best sportspersons".

The Olympics, postponed for a year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, are set to open in Tokyo on Friday.

Wishing PM Suga and Japan the very best for Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Modi tweeted, "We look forward to a season of incredible performances by the world's best sportspersons!"

Later, Modi posted a photograph on Twitter in which he is seen cheering for the Indian contingent while watching the opening ceremony on television.

"Come, let us all #Cheer4India! Caught a few glimpses of the @Tokyo2020 Opening Ceremony. Wishing our dynamic contingent the very best," Modi tweeted along with the photograph.

India is being represented by its largest ever contingent of 127 athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, which also includes the highest female representation of 56 sportspersons. 

-- PTI
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18:37   Rashtrapati Bhavan to re-open for public from August 1
People will be able to visit Rashtrapati Bhavan and Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum Complex, which have been closed since mid-April due to COVID-19 outbreak, from August 1, according to an official statement issued on Friday.
  
The tour of Rashtrapati Bhavan will be available on Saturday and Sunday (except on gazetted holidays) in three pre-booked time slots--1030-1130 hrs, 1230-1330 hrs and 1430-1530 hrs--with a maximum limit of 25 visitors per slot, it said.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum Complex will remain open for six days in a week (Tuesday to Sunday), except on gazetted holidays, in four pre-booked time slots--0930 - 1100 hrs, 1130 - 1300 hrs, 1330-1500 hrs and 1530-1700 hrs-- with a maximum limit of 50 visitors per slot, said the statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
 
"Visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum Complex, which has been closed since April 14, 2021 due to COVID-19, will re-open from August 1, for the public," it said.

Visitors can book their slots online by visiting website https://presidentofindia.nic.in or https://rashtrapatisachivalaya.gov.in/ or https://rbmuseum.gov.in/.

-- PTI
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18:11   Graded reopening of schools advisable: AIIMS chief
All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Friday said the schools in the areas where the Covid positivity rate is low can be reopened. 

He suggested graded reopening of schools can be done with proper monitoring of the areas where the positivity rate is low.

"I think we have to balance things out. There is a number of children who have missed out on schools for a very long time as they do not have the excess to computer and therefore they are not able to get the quality of education. Therefore, having physical classes is important also schools are not only important from an education point of view, but for building a child's character for social interaction, for interaction with peers, the physical school has a much bigger role to play than what can be done through virtual classes," Dr Guleria said.

"Now, we are in a situation wherein certain parts of the country the number of cases are very low, positivity rate is very low and hospitalisation is very low," he said.

Talking about the graded reopening of schools, Dr Guleria said, "We should start thinking of opening schools in a graded manner. In areas where the positivity rate is low, the graded opening can be done."

"We can do it in an alternate manner so that the crowd is less. We can do surveillance; children can be monitored. If they have any symptoms they can stay at home. If the positivity rate continues to be low schools can continue, if it rises then the school can be shut down," the AIIMS chief said.

-- ANI
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17:40   Kundra moves HC against arrest, films not hard porn
Businessman Raj Kundra on Friday challenged before the Bombay High Court his arrest in a case of alleged production and distribution of pornographic films through apps, saying these videos might be described as "lascivious" but do not show "explicit sexual acts".

Kundra (45), the husband of actor Shilpa Shetty, was arrested on July 19 by Mumbai Police. A magistrate's court remanded him in police custody till July 27. 

 The petition sought quashing of the lower court's order. The magistrate's order sending him in police custody violated the law as serving a notice under section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (before arrest) is mandatory, especially in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said. 

 As per section 41A, the police may, in cases where arrest is not warranted, issue summons to the accused person and record his or her statement. The material which the police claim to be pornographic did not depict direct explicit sexual acts and sexual intercourse but shows material in the form of short movies which are lascivious or appeal to the prurient interest of persons at best, Kundra's plea contended. 

 Hence section 67A of the Information Technology Act (publishing sexually explicit content) cannot be invoked, and at the most it would attract section 67 (publishing lascivious content), it said. On July 19, 2021, the police carried out a search at his office and requested him to go to the police station to record statement, Kundra said.

 "The respondent (police) arrested the petitioner in the police station where he was called under the garb of recording his statement, the plea alleged. After his arrest Kundra was asked to sign a notice issued under section 41A of CrPC which he refused to do," it claimed.
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17:35   Sensex ends 139 points higher
Equity benchmark Sensex rose 139 points on Friday following gains in ICICI Bank, ITC and SBI amid a largely positive trend in global markets. The 30-share BSE index ended 138.59 points or 0.26 per cent higher at 52,975.80, while the broader NSE Nifty advanced 32 points or 0.20 per cent to 15,856.05.

 ICICI Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising over 3 per cent, followed by ITC, SBI, HCL Tech, Axis Bank, Bajaj Finserv and Tech Mahindra. On the other hand, L&T, HUL, Reliance Industries and NTPC were among the laggards.
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17:32   Water water everywhere...
Gates of Votehole dam in Belur taluka of Hassan have been opened to release water following heavy rains across Malnad and Hassan districts.
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17:13   Arm twisting: Court slams UP cops in Twitter case
The Karnataka High Court on Friday quashed the notice issued to Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari by Uttar Pradesh police, seeking his personal appearance as part of its probe into a communally sensitive video uploaded by a user on Twitter platform, saying it was issued by malafide. 

 The single bench of Justice G Narendar said that the notice under Section 41(A) CrPC should be treated as Section under 160 of CrPC, allowing Ghaziabad police to question Maheshwari through virtual mode, at his office or his residential address in Bengaluru.

 Maintaining that the provisions of the statute under Section 41(A) CrPC should not be permitted to become "tools of harassment", Justice Narendar said Ghaziabad police did not place any material which would demonstrate even the prima facie involvement of the petitioner, though the hearing has been going on for the past several days. 

 "In the background of the fact that section 41(a) notice was issued by malafide, the writ petition (filed by Maheshwari seeking quashing) is maintainable. Accordingly, the notice under section Annexure A notice shall be read as section 160 of the CrPC," the court said. 

 "The action of the respondent (Ghaziabad police) trying to invoke section 41(A) of the CrPC gives no doubt in the mind of court that the same has been resorted to as an arm-twisting method as the petitioner refused to heed to the notice under section 160 of the CrPC," the court observed. 

 The Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) police had issued a notice under Section 41-A of the CrPC on June 21 asking him to report at the Loni Border police station at 10:30 AM on June 24. Maheshwari then moved the Karnataka High Court as he lives in Bengaluru in Karnataka. 

 On June 24, the High Court, in an interim order, restrained Ghaziabad police from initiating any coercive action against him. Justice Narendar had also maintained that if police wanted to examine him, they could do so through virtual mode. 

 The Ghaziabad Police on June 15 booked Twitter Inc, Twitter Communications India Pvt.Ltd.(Twitter India), news website The Wire, journalists Mohammed Zubair and Rana Ayyub, besides Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani, Shama Mohamed and writer Saba Naqvi. They were booked over the circulation of a video in which an elderly man, Abdul Shamad Saifi, alleged that he was thrashed by some young men, who also asked him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' on June five. According to police, the video was shared to cause communal unrest. PTI
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17:06   Tokyo Olympics begin with tribute to Covid victims
The COVID 19-hit 32nd Olympic Games formally began on Friday with a glittering opening ceremony, which sought to take the spotlight away from the gloom of a raging pandemic and put it firmly on the sporting excellence that the event promises to unleash.

'United by Emotion' was the theme of the night which opened with a countdown video dating back to the time when Tokyo won the bid to host the Games in 2013 before persevering through a year of postponement due to the pandemic. It was followed by a 20-second indigo and white fireworks to display the colours of the Tokyo 2020 emblem and shaped like a fan, which is an auspicious symbol in Japanese culture. 

A memorial segment took place, in remembrance of all those we have lost. Not only for the victims of COVID-19, but also the Olympians who have died at the Games in the past. There is also a mention of the Israeli team members who were killed at Munich 1972.

 Japanese emperor Naruhito walked in with International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach. The opening ceremony is being held at the Olympic Stadium where the track and field events will be held. 

 As decided weeks ago, there were no spectators to witness the spectacle, which was watched by about a 1,000 dignitaries including US First Lady Jill Biden. The ceremony sought to celebrate the athletes, who went through a whirlwind of emotion ever since the pandemic took away precious training time and left them grappling with the fear of the unknown. PTI
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16:57   Maha rains: 10 feared trapped in landslide in Ratnagiri district
At least 10 persons are feared trapped in a landslide in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district, a senior official said on Friday. In a separate incident, the body of a man was recovered in Chiplun city after the flood water receded to some extent, he said. Parts of Ratnagiri district have been reeling under floods caused due to heavy rains over the last few days, with major rivers in the district flowing above the danger mark. 

 At least 10 people are feared trapped under the debris after a landslide in the district. The rescue team has reached the spot. The local residents, who rushed to safety, alerted the police about it, the official said. However, details about the incident, including its exact location and time, are yet to be known. 

 The official said that establishing contact has become difficult due to the poor mobile network and it is posing hurdles in reaching out to the affected people and responding to their SOS calls. He said that the process to identify the body that was found in Chiplun was on. 

 Maharashtra minister Uday Samant, who reached Chiplun late Thursday night said, Water has receded from several parts of Chiplun city now. But it is true that the water level was very high and it had crossed the 2005 deluge mark. The damage assessment work will commence by Friday evening. 

The clearing of roads, removal of mud and sludge from the streets is the priority now. Several teams of the state electricity distribution company are also on the way to restore electricity in the region, he said. PTI
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16:54   redBus announces roll-out of 'vaccinated bus' service
Online bus ticketing platform redBus on Friday announced the launch of 'vaccinated bus' service across 600 major routes in the country that guarantees passengers to travel with vaccinated co-passengers and crew.

Booking a ticket on this service requires the travellers to have received at least the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and they must submit proof of the same at the time of boarding, redBus said in a statement. 

'Vaccinated bus' is being introduced in collaboration with private partner bus operators that have a customer rating of more than four stars out of five on the platform. redBus Chief Executive Officer Prakash Sangam said, "According to a survey that we recently undertook with our customers, 89 per cent of the respondents said that they prefer to travel in a bus which had all the bus staff and co-passengers vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine." Sangam added that it is, therefore, evident that a 'vaccinated bus' rids passengers of their anxiety to a large extent and restores their confidence to undertake travel. 

"At the moment, these services are spread across 600 routes in the country and we will look at further scaling this initiative based on the response to it." PTI
Floodwaters in Ratnagiri
Floodwaters in Ratnagiri
16:33   Red alert for six rain-hit districts of Maharashtra
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Friday issued a red alert for six districts of Maharashtra which have been already pounded by heavy rains, forecasting "extremely heavy" rainfall and recommending preventive actions. 

The alert was issued for the next 24 hours for the districts of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg in coastal Konkan and also for Pune, Satara and Kolhapur in Western Maharashtra. Extremely heavy rainfall is "very likely" at isolated places in ghat (hilly/upland) areas, an IMD official said. 

"Very likely" denotes 51 to 75 per cent probability of occurrence, he added. The forecast for Satara is "most likely" which means a probability of more than 75 per cent, he said. A rainfall above 204.4 mm in 24 hours is considered as extremely heavy. The forecast also included red alert for Ratnagiri and Satara for Saturday. Intensity of showers will drastically come down from Sunday onward, the IMD said. PTI
People queue up to get vaccinated in Patna
People queue up to get vaccinated in Patna
16:25   11% of India's Covid cases in people below 20 yrs
Around 11 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases in the country have been reported in persons aged less than 20, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar told the Lok Sabha on Friday. 

The minister was responding to a question on the number of children up to 18 years of age who have contracted COVID-19 as of July 2021. Giving details of COVID-19 vaccines for children which are in the pipeline/trial stage, Pawar, in a written reply, said the national regulator -- CDSCO -- has granted permission to conduct clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines in children to Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad (in age group 2 to 18) for phase-II/III of Whole-Virion Inactivated SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine and to Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Ahmedabad (in age group =12 yrs and above) for phase-III clinical trial of DNA-based vaccine. 

 The outcome of these trials will depend on data emerging from the trial for the purpose of its approval and availability in the country, the minister said. -- PTI
Submerged homes in Ratnagiri
Submerged homes in Ratnagiri
16:13   Maha Dy CM speaks to Rajnath on floods
Maharashtra deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday spoke to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on the worsening flood situation in the state. Singh assured the help of defense forces in the rescue and relief operations, a statement by Pawar's office said. 

Army and Navy teams have already been deployed in the state. Maharashtra Relief and Rehabilitation Secretary Aseem Gupta has been appointed as the nodal officer for coordination with the Defense Ministry, the statement added. 

District guardian ministers and local elected representatives have been asked to stay put in the flood-hit districts till the situation is normal. Raigad guardian minister Aditi Tatkare, Ratnagiri guardian minister Anil Parab, Sindhudurg guardian minister Uday Samant, Satara guardian minister Balasaheb Patil and all MLAs from these areas have been asked to remain available to participate in and oversee the rescue and relief operations, the release said. 

Heavy rains are battering the coastal Konkan and parts of Western Maharashtra for the last two days. PTI
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15:37   Health complications may not be due to Covid: Govt
It may be premature to conclude that complications like lung fibrosis and increased thrombotic events due to COVID-19 are on the rise. However, a larger number of cases of fungal infections have been found linked with the coronavirus infection during the recent surge, the government informed Parliament on Friday. 

 In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said the Indian Medical Association (IMA), in a letter dated June 7 addressed to the prime minister, mentioned that post-Covid complications such as lung fibrosis, thrombotic events and fungal infections are on the rise and there is a need to prepare for the same. 

 It also urged the government to set up a separate research cell to study post-Covid complications and come out with multi-faceted treatment guidelines in all disciplines of medicine, following which expert group consultations under the director general of health services are going on to review the emerging evidence on organ system specific (respiratory system, renal system, cardiovascular and gastro-intestinal) sequelae of COVID-19.

 Pawar further said the ICMR has established a National Clinical Registry on Covid with an objective to collect data regarding clinical and laboratory features, treatments and outcomes of hospitalised Covid patients in the country and to study the frequency, clinical and laboratory features, treatments and outcomes of Covid-related multi-system inflammatory disorder in children and adolescents by analysing the registry. 

 The objective is to utilise the data to answer research questions on COVID-19, including the natural course of the disease, the spectrum of the disease, prognostic factors, outcome data, medications, health systems and context-specific questions such as COVID-19 in tuberculosis, malnutrition etc. 

 The National Clinical Registry on COVID-19 has been established to serve as a platform for additional clinical research studies in selected sites and to collect follow-up data of discharged Covid patients, if possible. -- PTI
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15:03   BJP's Tripura ally demands separate Tribal state
A four-member delegation of the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has met Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi demanding a separate Tipraland carved out of the present Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which constitutes two third of the state territory.

The delegation led by Forest minister Mevar KumarJamatia, who is also the general secretary of IPFT met Shah on Thursday and submitted a five-point memorandum.

Besides seeking a full-fledged state called Tipraland, the memorandum has sought submission of the report of the high-level modality committee for development of tribals, who form one third of the states population, special recruitment drive for indigenous people, amendment of Sixth Schedule to empower the TTAADC and inclusion of Kokborok, the tribal language in the eighth schedule of the constitution.

IPFTs move comes after the BJP-IPFT alliance lost elections to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) in April this year to the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) led by former royal Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman.

Deb Barman, son of the last Maharaja of Tripura, has demanded a greater Tipraland which seeks to include tribals not only living within the tribal autonomous district, but those living outside including in other states.

In order to protect the crisis of the identity of the Indigenous people of Tripura, we place strong demand for creation of full-fledged statehood Tipraland based on the Sixth Schedule Areas i.e., TTAADC of Tripura, the IPFT memorandum said.

The IPFT delegates held discussions on the High-Power Modality Committee formed by the central government for socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic development of the indigenous people.

They also asked the home minister to hasten the submission of the committee's report.   -- PTI
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14:33   Police to probe Raj Kundra's porn-betting angle
 A Mumbai Court on Friday sent actor Shilpa Shetty's husband and businessman Raj Kundra and his associate Ryan Thorpe to police custody till July 27 in connection with a case related to the production of pornographic films.

Mumbai Police on Friday produced actor Shilpa Shetty's husband and businessman Raj Kundra and his associate Ryan Thorpe before Magistrate Court seeking further custody for seven days. Mumbai Police told the Court that they suspect money earned from pornography was used for online betting.

"This is why transactions between Raj Kundra's Yes bank account and United Bank of Africa account need to be investigated," Mumbai Police told the Court.

Raj Kundra was arrested by Mumbai Police for allegedly creating pornographic films and publishing them through some mobile applications on Monday night.

The Mumbai Police on Tuesday informed that the Property Cell of its Crime Branch had so far arrested a total of 11 people, including Kundra for their alleged involvement in the crime.

"He appears to be the key conspirator. We have sufficient evidence regarding this," Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale had said.

The case was registered with Crime Branch Mumbai in February 2021 about the creation of pornographic films and the use of apps.
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14:28   Take a bow Telegraph and Dainik Bhaskar
Bengal's Telegraph today on Pegasus spyware and the raids on Dainik Bhaskar. 
The ST bus stand at Chiplun
The ST bus stand at Chiplun
14:07   Maha rain fury: 30 dead in landslide in Raigad
Maharashtra rain fury: 30 people die after landslide near village in coastal Raigad district, say police. Incessant rain over the last 24 hours has led to devastating floods in parts of Maharashtra, with three districts flooded and two districts facing a flood-like situation. This is the heaviest spell of rain in the state in July in 40 years. 

The Navy has been roped in for rescue and evacuation.

Several teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel too have been deployed for rescue operations in the Konkan region. While Ratnagiri, Raigad, Kolhapur districts are flooded, Sangli and Amravati are facing a flood-like situation. 
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13:47   ICSE Class X, XII results at 3 pm tomorrow
ICSE (Class 10th) and ISC (Class 12th) result to be declared tomorrow at 3 pm.  The results will be made available on the website of the Council, cisce.org and results.cisce.org, and can also be accessed through the Careers portal of the Council and SMS, it said.
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13:22   Rs 9,725 cr spent on Covid vax programme so far
A total of 135 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine are expected to be available between August 2021 to December 2021, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, MoS (Health) tells the Lok Sabha. A total of Rs 9725.15 crore has been spent so far on the COVID-19 vaccination programme including procurement of vaccines and operational cost for vaccination.

India reported 35,342 new COVID-19 cases, 38,740 recoveries, and 483 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union health ministry.
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13:06   Stan Swamy's counsel urges HC to monitor inquiry into his death
The counsel of late jesuit priest Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case who died earlier this month, urged the Bombay High Court on Friday to monitor the magisterial inquiry into his death by invoking its "parens-patriae" jurisdiction. 

 Senior counsel Mihir Desai, who represented Swamy in the high court, said that although the activist was dead and there existed no question of him being granted bail any more, the high court need not consider the late priest's appeals seeking bail abated. He said that there existed previous Supreme Court judgements ruling that high courts could exercise "parens-patriae jurisdiction" or act as the parent of such appellants, who were not in a position to take decisions for themselves. 

 Advocate Desai urged the high court to permit Swamy's aide, father Frazer Mascarenhas, be permitted to participate in the inquiry supposed to be conducted into Swamy's death as per section 176 of the CrPC. 

 He urged the court to direct that the inquiry be conducted as per the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) guidelines, and also to direct the magistrate to submit a copy of the inquiry report before the high court so that the same can be monitored. 

 "We are looking at a peculiar situation here since the appellant died while the appeals were pending. But, the HC has wide powers," Desai said. He cited the Bhopal gas tragedy case, and the case of comatose nurse Aruna Shanbaug, where courts had exercised their parens-patriae jurisdiction. Appearing for the National Investigating Agency (NIA), Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said that while the agency had no objection to father Mascarenhas participating in the inquiry, the court need not pass any directions on the magistrate following the NHRC guidelines since that was part of procedure and would be followed. Singh said that the NIA, however, had an objection to the HC asking for the probe report.

 "The HC is presiding over two appeals challenging the accused's rejection of bail on medical grounds and merits," he said. "With the accused's death, the appeals stand abated as per section 394 of the CrPC," he said. 

 The high court then directed advocate Desai to give written submissions on whether the appeals stood abated, or if they could be amended so that the HC could continue exercising jurisdiction over the matter. The NIA then intervened to say that it had two additional submissions to make. -- PTI
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12:34   Health of UP ex-CM Kalyan Singh critical, on life support: Hospital
The health condition of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh is critical and he is on life support, the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) said on Friday.

 He is under close monitoring of senior doctors of critical care medicine (CCM), cardiology, nephrology, neurology and endocrinology departments, the statement said. 

 "Former UP chief minister and former governor of Rajasthan Kalyan Singh ji's health status is critical. He is on life saving support system (ventilator)," a release issued by the hospital said. Director of the institute Prof R K Dhiman is also keeping a close watch on all the aspects related to his health, it added.

 The 89-year-old BJP veteran was admitted to the ICU of the hospital in the evening of July 4 due to an infection and reduced consciousness level. Earlier, he was undergoing treatment at Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences here. PTI
File pic
File pic
12:28   Lok Sabha adjourned till Monday amid Pegasus din
Lok Sabha adjourned till Monday, 26th July amid uproar and protests in the House over 'Pegasus Project' media report and other issues.
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12:26   Piyush Goyal calls opposition meet
Leader of House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal has called an opposition party meet this afternoon over the incident where TMC MP Santanu Sen snatched papers from hands of IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and tore them in the House yesterday. Sen has been suspended from the House for the entire session.
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12:04   Rahul demands SC-appointed probe into Pegasus
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah used the Pegasus spyware against India and its institutions, and "the only word for this is treason", Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged on Friday. 

 Gandhi demanded a Supreme Court monitored probe into the matter. Addressing reporters at Vijay Chowk, he also demanded the resignation of the home minister. He said all his phones have been tapped and his friends informed by intelligence people that this is being done. 

 "Pegasus is classified by the Israeli state as a weapon and that weapon is supposed to be used against terrorists. The prime minister and the home minister have used this weapon against the Indian state and our institutions. They have used it politically, they have used it in Karnataka..," he told reporters. 

 "The only word for this is treason, he said. The matter has to be investigated, the former Congress president said. A judicial inquiry monitored by the Supreme Court should be conducted and the home minister must resign," he told reporters. -- PTI 
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11:49   Zomato shares soar with nearly 53 per cent premium on debut
Shares of Zomato on Friday zoomed nearly 53 per cent in its debut trade against its issue price of Rs 76. The stock made its debut at Rs 115, reflecting a huge gain of 51.31 per cent against the issue price on the BSE. It then hit a high of Rs 138, a jump of 81.57 per cent.
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11:40   TMC MP who snatched papers suspended from RS
TMC MP Shantanu Sen suspended from Rajya Sabha for remaining part of monsoon session after motion passed in the House. 

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said, "I'm deeply distressed by the course of events in House. Unfortunately, proceedings of the House hit a new low with papers being snatched from the minister and torn into pieces. Such actions are a clear assault on our Parliamentary democracy.  Santanu Sen, please withdraw from House. Allow the House to function."

The House was adjourned till noon following an uproar that started during TMC MP Derek O'Brien's statement over yesterday's incident. 

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11:35   Amit Shah to begin 2-day Meghalaya visit tomorrow
Union Home Minister Amit Shah will begin his two-day visit to Meghalaya on Saturday.

He will be accompanied by Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, and G Kishan Reddy, Minister of Culture and Development of North Eastern Region of India. Chief Minister Conrad Sangma last week conducted an MDA meeting with the Presidents of ruling parties and discussed Shah's visit, among other issues. -- ANI
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11:18   It's chai pe charcha for Sidhu, Amarinder
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and  CM Captain Amarinder Singh have arrived at Punjab Bhawan separately. The CM has invited Congress MLAs, MPs and senior functionaries from the state for tea. They'll go to Punjab Congress Bhawan for the formal appointment ceremony of the new Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee team headed by Sidhu.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday appointed Sidhu as the new chief of the party's Punjab unit, despite strong opposition from Amarinder Singh.

CM Capt Amarinder Singh arrived at Punjab Bhawan shortly after newly appointed Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu arrived there. Sidhu briefly left from the Bhawan 10 minutes after the arrival of the CM and later rejoined the gathering there. Media was not allowed inside.
Representational image
Representational image
11:17   7 dead in building collapse in Mumbai's Govandi
 At least seven people died and three were injured on Friday after a building collapsed in Mumbai's Govandi area. "Seven people died, three injured after a building collapsed in the Govandi area of Mumbai," the Mumbai Police said. Further details are awaited. -- ANI
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10:34   7 Naval rescue teams sent to Raigad & Ratnagiri
Based on a request received from Maharashtra Govt, the Western Naval Command, Mumbai mobilised flood rescue teams and helicopters to provide assistance to the state administration. 

Seven naval rescue teams went by road for deployment to Ratnagiri and Raigad districts on 22 July from Mumbai. Airlift of marooned personnel from Raigad district is also being undertaken.

 One Seaking 42C Helo from INS Shikra, Mumbai departed for rescue at Poladpur/Raigad during early morning hours today. Additional flood rescue teams have been kept on standby, for immediate deployment, should the need arise.

At least five people have died in the landslides that occurred in Maharashtra's Raigad district caused by incessant rains that battered the region over the last 24 hours.

Four landslides have been reported in Raigad due to incessant rains, which have led to the roads being blocked.

Waterlogged roads delayed rescue operations by National Disaster Response Force, the district collector informed on Thursday night.
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10:05   Sensex drops over 100 points in early trade
Equity benchmark Sensex tumbled over 100 points in early trade on Friday, tracking losses in index majors HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and L&T amid sustained foreign fund outflow. After opening over 150 points higher, the 30-share BSE index pared all gains to trade 141.67 points or 0.27 per cent lower at 52,695.54 in initial deals, while the broader NSE Nifty declined 42.05 points or 0.27 per cent to 15,782.

 L&T was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding around 1 per cent, followed by Sun Pharma, Bajaj Finance, HDFC Bank and Kotak Bank. On the other hand, HCL Tech, UltraTech Cement, Tata Steel, Titan and Maruti were among the gainers. -- PTI
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09:34   India reports 35,342 new Covid cases, 483 deaths
India reports 35,342 new COVID-19 cases, 38,740 recoveries, and 483 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union health ministry.

Total cases: 3,12,93,062
Total recoveries: 3,04,68,079
Active cases: 4,05,513
Death toll: 4,19,470
Total vaccination: 42,34,17,030

IMAGE: A BMC health worker collects swab sample of a passenger for COVID-19 test, at Dadar station in Mumbai, on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo
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09:19   Xi visits Tibetan town bordering Arunachal
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made a rare visit to Nyingchi, a strategically located Tibetan border town close to Arunachal Pradesh, the official media reported on Friday.

Xi arrived at the Nyingchi Mainling Airport on Wednesday and was warmly welcomed by local people and officials of various ethnic groups, Xinhua news agency reported.

He then visited the Nyang River Bridge, to inspect the ecological preservation in the basin of the Brahmaputra river, which is called Yarlung Zangbo in the Tibetan language.

Nyingchi is a prefecture-level city in Tibet that is adjacent to the Arunachal Pradesh border.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet, which is firmly rejected by India.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Chinese leaders periodically visit Tibet.

But Xi, who also heads the ruling Communist Party of China and the powerful Central Military Commission -- the overall high command of the Chinese military -- is perhaps the first top leader in recent years to visit Tibet's border town.

Nyingchi was in news in June when China fully operationalised its first bullet train in Tibet.

The train connects Tibet's provincial capital Lhasa with Nyingchi. It has a designed speed of 160 km per hour and operates on a single-line electrified railway covering 435.5-km.    -- PTI
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08:43   Drone shot down in J-K, explosives recovered
A drone has been shot down in the Kanachak area of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.

The police have also recovered explosive material from the drone.

"A drone was shot down in Kanachak area and explosive material was recovered. Details are awaited," the Jammu and Kashmir Police said.

Further details are awaited.

On Wednesday, a suspected drone was spotted in the Satwari area, while earlier on July 16, a drone that was seen operating around the Jammu Air Base was picked up by the radars of the anti-drone system deployed by the National Security Guard (NSG) there.

The NSG had deployed an anti-drone system in the city after a drone attack took place on the Jammu air base last month.

The Air Force had also taken measures to prevent any such attack in Jammu and other important airbases across the country.

It has also taken strict measures to address threats from small drones.

After the Jammu attack, the number of drone sightings has gone up drastically and there have been several instances where the Army and Border Security Forces (BSF) troops at the border have fired at them. -- ANI
Image only for representation.
Image only for representation.
08:16   Maha rains: Mumbai-Karjat train traffic restored
The train traffic between the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in south Mumbai and Karjat as well as that between CSMT and Kasara has been restored after nearly 21 hours, the Central Railway said on Thursday night.

The train traffic on the Ambernath- Lonavala section was suspended on Wednesday as heavy rains caused water logging and boulder crashes on the route, while in some places the tracks were even washed away.

The CR declared the tracks between Vangani and Karjat stations fit for traffic around 9.30 pm.

'We did it! Team Central Railway after putting in lots of hard work, made Karjat line fit for traffic. Now, suburban trains are running from CSMT to Karjat and CSMT to Kasara,' Shivaji Sutar, chief spokesperson of the CR, tweeted.

Restoration work at Bhivpuri, where the embankment under the track was washed away, was over, he said.

At least 34 intercity long-distance trains were cancelled, 26 trains were diverted, 36 trains were 'short terminated' and six trains 'short originated' till late evening, the CR said.   -- PTI
Inundated Chiplun bus stand
Inundated Chiplun bus stand
00:15   Chiplun floods partly man-made disaster: Ratnagiri collector
Incessant showers in the hilly regions of Ratnagiri district, illegal constructions near the Vashisthi river bed and discharge of water from the Kolkewadi dam have all combined to cause havoc in the coastal town of  Chiplun, officials said on Thursday as the administration sought help from multiple agencies in rescue efforts.
  
More than 50 per cent area of Chiplun, located around 250km from Mumbai and having a population of over 70,000, has got submerged in flood waters.

B N Patil, district collector of Ratnagiri who assumed charge of his office just a fortnight back, has now called several teams of the NDRF, Coast Guard, the Navy and the Army to undertake rescue operations.

"I have requested for six additional teams of the NDRF apart from earlier two. The Coast Guard is already helping here, while the Indian Navy is sending its teams here tomorrow morning. I have also requested the Indian Army to deploy its columns to undertake rescue operations," he told PTI.

"There has been some illegal constructions near the river bed, which have added to our misery. The dam water (from Kolakewadi), extremely heavy rainfall and illegal constructions in the river bed -- all have contributed to the current situation. It is partially a man-made disaster," he said.

"Once flood waters recede, I will look into the issue of illegal constructions near the river bed," Patil said.

He said more than 200 people have been rescued from flood-hit areas.

"Late in the night, NDRF teams started rescue operations and more than 200 people were rescued by them. We have also started distributing food packets to people who have moved to second or third floors of multi- storey buildings," Patil said.

The Mumbai-based Western Naval Command confirmed receiving a request from the Maharashtra government to send rescue teams.

"Five teams will reach Chiplun on Friday morning. Each team will have approximately five persons and one boat, which will be able to rescue 5-7 adults at a time. If required, we will send more teams, said an Indian Navy spokesperson.

K S Hosalikar, senior scientist at IMD, Pune, said, "Latest radar images indicate very intense clouds over parts of the Raigad-Roha, Satara-Mahabaleshwar regions as well as over parts of Ratnagiri and Dapoli." --  PTI