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Friday,27-November-2020

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Preparations to start soon for Haj 2021, says Centre

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The Centre on Monday said that Haj 2021 will depend on the national and international protocol guidelines in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the government said it will soon start the preparations for the Haj and receive applications.

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said this after chairing a virtual meeting attended by Haj Committee of India CEO Maqsood Ahmad, Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs P.K. Das, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs Vipul, Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Saeed and other officials. Many important decisions regarding Haj were taken in this meeting.

Naqvi said after the meeting that Haj 2021 will depend on national-international protocol guidelines in view of the pandemic. Haj 2021 is to take place in the month of July. But a final decision will be taken after a thorough review of the coronavirus spread and the health guidelines of Saudi Arabia and the Government of India, he said.

The Haj Committee of India and other Indian agencies will soon start preparations for Haj 2021 and start receiving applications. A formal announcement regarding the applications and other procedures will be made after the decision in respect of Haj 2021 by the Saudi Arabian government, the government said.

The Minister said due to the epidemic, the arrangements for the pilgrimage will see changes in a big way keeping in mind the guidelines. The health of the Haj pilgrims is the priority of the government, he added.

India and Saudi Arabia are in touch on this issue, he said.

According to information, Rs 2,100 crore of 1.23 lakh pilgrims, who were unable to go on Haj this year because of the pandemic, have been returned without any deduction.

The three-year pending amount of about Rs 514 crore of the Haj pilgrims has also been returned during this corona period.

The result of the 100 per cent digital system in India is that money was sent directly into the accounts even during the ongoing pandemic, which has happened for the first time in the history of the Haj pilgrimage.

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PM Narendra Modi to visit Bharat Biotech facility in Hyderabad

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting vaccine maker Bharat Biotech’s facility here on Saturday as part of his three-city tour to take stock of the Covid-19 vaccine development work in the country.

Modi is scheduled to land at the Hakimpet Air Force Station around 4 p.m. and from there he will reach Bharat Biotech’s facility at Genome Valley, where the work is underway on Covaxin, India’s first indigenous vaccine for coronavirus being developed by the company in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The Prime Minister will go around the facility to understand the vaccine development process and the preparations by the Bharat Biotech to manufacture the doses in large numbers once the vaccine gets approval from the authorities concerned.

The Bharat Biotech officials will explain to the Prime Minister various aspects of the vaccine development and their rollout plans. The company is currently conducting phase III clinical trials of the vaccine at various centres across the country.

Modi is likely to spend an hour at the vaccine making plant and return to Delhi at 5.10 p.m., official sources said.

Before reaching Hyderabad, the Prime Minister will be visiting the facilities of Zydus Cadila in Ahmedabad where ZyCoV-D is being developed and Serum Institute of India facilities in Pune where AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine will be manufactured.

There have been speculations that Modi will campaign for the BJP in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, but sources said his programme includes no political activity.

Several national leaders of the BJP, including party chief J.P. Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath are scheduled to campaign for the BJP over the next couple of days.

The campaign is ending on Sunday for the elections scheduled to be held on December 1.

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No chance of settlement of Mhadei issue out of court: Goa CM Pramod Sawant

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Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday ruled out any possibility of an out-of-court settlement on the ongoing Mhadei interstate river water dispute with Karnataka.

Sawant also said that his government was firm on its contempt petition filed against Karnataka for diverting the flow of the Mhadei river.

“There is no question of an out-of-court settlement. We have already filed a contempt petition. We are firm on it,” Sawant told reporters.

Sawant’s comments come days after overtures by the Karnataka government’s special representative Shankargouda Patil, who had said that the Chief Ministers of both states, namely BS Yediyurappa and Sawant should meet and resolve the river dispute, instead of letting the courts decide on the matter.

Mhadei, also known as the Mandovi river in Goa and Mahadayi in Karnataka, is considered a lifeline in the northern parts of Goa.

It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.

While the river runs 28.8 km in Karnataka, it is over 50 km in length in the state Goa. Goa, Karnataka are battling out a two decade-long dispute over the sharing of the Mhadei waters.

Last month, the Goa government filed the contempt petition in the Supreme Court, alleging Karnataka had illegally diverted water from the Mhadei river basin via the newly constructed Kalasa-Banduri canal.

The Goa government had filed a special leave petition in the apex court last year, challenging the Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal award in 2018, which allowed Karnataka to divert 13.42 TMC water from the river basin. The SLP had also said that Karnataka was diverting more water than what was allotted.

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New ordinance has been praised by every section of society: UP Law Minister

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has taken strict measures to curb the incidents of ‘love jihad’ and ‘religious conversion for marriage’ in the state.

As promise of a crackdown on forcible conversions, the UP cabinet has recently passed the UP Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance, 2020. In this regard, UP Law Minister Brajesh Pathak has said that the new ordinance has been brought in to honour the sisters and daughters in the state.

Speaking to IANS about the ordinance, the Law Minister said that although there is no mention of ‘love jihad’ in this ordinance, it will take strict action against those who ruin the lives of sisters and mothers forcing them to convert in the garb of marriage. The new law has been welcomed by religious leaders too.

Pathak said that in recent years, the state has witnessed scores of incidents of forcible conversion and exploitation. In many instances, the woman has been made to change her name after marriage and then they were deserted. With the enactment of the new law there will no such situation.

He said that this is is a praiseworthy law. Barring exceptions, every section of society has praised it.

“It is the habit of some to oppose every matter. In recent years, this has emerged as a major social issue. Some people use deceitful means or sometimes they hide their religion and marry the girl from another religion. As a result, the girl and her family’s reputation are tarnished.”

Sometimes, such incidents bring social disharmony. The new law will put a brake on such acts. If people of two different religions want to get married through mutual consent, then the District Magistrate has to be informed two months prior to the wedlock.

In case of fraudulent or forcible conversion, the convict will face a sentence of between one and 10 years. This legislation is necessary to keep the law and order situation normal in UP and to ensure justice for women. In this way, everyone’s sisters and daughters will get a chance to lead a life of dignity.

On the question of the Brahmin society being upset with the government, the Law Minister said, the allegations made against the government related to caste are baseless. The results of the recently held Assembly by-elections has exposed the opposition’s allegations.

“Sabka Saath is not only a slogan to us but also a guiding mantra. The government is working accordingly. We consider the entire state as a family.”

On the workers’ displeasure, Pathak said, “Our party believes in taking everyone along. We are with the workers in every happiness and sorrow. No one is angry, everyone is happy.”

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