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Friday,03-December-2021

National News

10 killed, 25 feared trapped in massive Himachal landslide (ld)

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At least 10 people were killed in a massive landslide on National Highway 5 in challenging terrain of Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district on Wednesday, while 13 others were extricated as rescue operations were launched to retrieve over 25 people feared trapped in the debris, police said.

The authorities suspect a truck, a state roadways bus, and other vehicles were buried in the landslide that occurred over a 60-70 metre stretch of the Shimla-Reckong Peo highway near Nigulsari, some 180 km from the state capital.

The bus has not been traced yet, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Public Relations Officer Vivek Pandey told the media.

“The terrain is really tough. Shooting stones are still a big worry and hampering the rescue operation. So is the rain. The main cause of the concern is that the bus has not been traced yet. There were more than 20 people in the bus. They may be 25 also. And the only worry is that the bus may have rolled into a 300-feet deep gorge and fallen into the Satluj river,” he said.

“All other four vehicles were (buried) at the site… right now it is very difficult to tell anything about the number of casualties… there is no problem of manpower, we have stationed sufficient manpower to carry out even the rescue operation in the night,” Pandey added.

Besides the ITBP, local authorities, the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are involved in rescue operations, which is likely to continue in the night also.

The Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus was on its way to Hardwar from Rekong Peo via Shimla.

Relatives of missing bus passengers approached the local authorities to know about their whereabouts. Most of the victims belong to nearby villages.

“A few boulders started rolling down just ahead of the disaster. Sensing trouble, I ran towards the other side and managed to save myself,” a survivor said.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur told reporters in Shimla that he directed the Kinnaur administration to speed up relief and rescue operation.

“The exact casualties in the landslide are yet to be ascertained. Sensing the gravity of the situation, the NDRF has been summoned for rescuing the people,” he said.

A statement by the state emergency operation centre said one Tata Sumo was recovered from the debris and eight bodies found in it. Around 25-30 people are still buried under the boulders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Thakur and assured him of all possible help.

This is the second major natural disaster in Kinnaur in less than a month. Nine people, most of them tourists, were killed by a landslide as boulders fell and hit the vehicle they were travelling in.

This monsoon also caused major landslides in the state’s Kangra district, claiming 10 lives. Terrifying videos capturing massive landslides in Sirmaur district are common these days.

Seven people died in the exceptionally high rainfall across the cold desert of Lahaul-Spiti district on July 27-28. Keylong and Udaipur subdivision of the district faced 12 incidents of flash flood after a cloudburst, in which the Tozing Nallah’s impact was devastating.

Maharashtra

Post-surgery, Maharashtra CM discharged from hospital after 22 days

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Maharashtra-CM-Uddhav-Thackeray

After undergoing a spinal surgery 20 days ago, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was discharged from the Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, here on Thursday, officials said.

The CM’s condition is described as fit and fine, but he has been advised to continue work from home for a few days.

Thackeray was admitted to the HNRFH on November 10 and was successfully operated upon on November 12 for solving problems pertaining to the cervical spine, besides a minor procedure for removing a blood clot later.

Thereafter, he was assigned for physiotherapy sessions which are expected to continue for some more weeks and he may not attend office till then.

However, the CM has been attending to important files, holding online meetings with cabinet colleagues or officials and chaired a couple of cabinet meetings, including those pertaining to the Covid-19 variant Omicron threats, during his hospitalisation.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra: Congress livid as Didi writes UPA’s epitaph

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Relegated to the political pavement as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stormed Mumbai in her 2-day-long high-profile trip which ended on Thursday, the Maharashtra Congress unitedly slammed her for her ‘RIP’-ping comments spelling doom for the UPA.

Banerjee met leaders of two of the 3 ruling allies – Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena’s MP Sanjay Raut and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, met civil society members, some industrialists, film personalities, but obviously she had no love lost for the state Congress.

The visiting leader’s shocker came during her brief media interaction, when she virtually blurted out – “What UPA? There’s no UPA now…” stunning the Congress and momentarily even the NCP supremo Pawar seemed dazed but kept his legendary cool.

An enraged Congress top brass hit back, though diplomatically – to avoid antagonising the Sena-NCP leaders or even remotely appear siding with the BJP – and harked on the grand old party’s contributions, the Gandhis’ leadership while blaming Banerjee’s “personal ambitions and ego” and painting the BJP as the real villain.

“The BJP is a threat to the Constitution and Democracy. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are constantly challenging the dictatorial attitude of the BJP,” said State Congress President Nana Patole.

The Congress Legislature Party Leader Balasaheb Thorat dismissively said, “no individual party can fight the BJP if that party only thinks of its own political gains and personal ambitions” and the Congress remains the sole viable option before the country.

AICC Secretary Sanjay Dutt said, “if there is one party which has been fighting fascist forces and standing up for the people of India, it’s the Congress”, and others are now posturing only to grab the ‘chair’ (power).

“If any other party leader makes any baseless, sarcastic or malafide comments about Rahul Gandhi, we will give a befitting reply and show them the mirror of their past stance and statements,” hissed Dutt.

State PWD Minister Ashok Chavan hit back at Banerjee saying the “Congress and its leadership needs no certification for its commitment to Democracy and Constitution, or its tireless struggle against the BJP’s policies”.

“Since before Independence, Congress has been fighting for the commoners, the rights of the people… The (BJP) central government is using the ‘divide-and-rule’ policy on the opposition parties. In such a scenario, it becomes the responsibility of all non-BJP parties not to indulge in politics that supports this policy of the Centre,” said Chavan sharply.

Patole pointed out how Rahul Gandhi has stood firm against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP, on the land acquisition law and the three black agriculture laws, the BJP’s divisive policies, inflation, unemployment, etc.

“The country is more important than personal ambitions or egos… A political party restricted to one state cannot provide an alternative to the BJP. Given the gravity of the situation, all like-minded parties must come together in the national interest,” urge Patole, adding only Congress is the viable option to the BJP.

Thorat cautioned that criticising Rahul Gandhi would only help the BJP which he has fearlessly challenged, plus the Congress and the entire Gandhi family has borne the oppression of the BJP, but they were not cowed down.

Some political commentators have claimed that despite the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) venturing into uncharted territories where it is barely known or has any base, ultimately they will need Congress support to form the government as it happened during the tenures of the former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda or I.K. Gujral.

Besides Congress, even the Opposition BJP leaders attacked Didi, questioning her ‘private’ meeting with Shiv Sena leaders and asked whether Maharashtra would go the West Bengal way.

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National News

Oppn stages walkout from Rajya Sabha over inflation

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The opposition parties resorted to sloganeering after the Rajya Sabha assembled for question hour and later walked out from the house after they were denied permission on discussion over inflation.

Congress MP K.C. Venugopal had given suspension of business notice under rule 267 to discuss the rising prices of essential commodities, which the chair did not permit.

Leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge urged the chair, “its an important issue.”

Earlier, the chair denied point of order to be raised by Anand Sharma.

Shakti Singh Gohil of the Congress said, “We have walked out in protest.”

The house was earlier adjourned till 12 noon after opposition forced the adjournment.

The Congress has given notices in both houses of the Parliament on the issue of inflation, and has demanded discussion on the price rise of essential commodities.

In his notice, Congress MP Manish Tewari said, “The high rate of inflation has hurt the economically weaker sections of the country. Prices of oil and vegetables have skyrocketed and fuel is breaking new records almost everyday with petrol going way beyond the 100 rupee mark and LPG cylinders having more than doubled in price since 2014, now cost more than Rs 900.”

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