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Scrap road, rail, power projects critiqued by SC panel: Opp to Goa CM




Days after the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) slammed the South Western Railways track doubling project as non-justifiable and recommended major alterations to other road and power projects in protected forest areas along the Goa-Karnataka border, the opposition has now demanded scrapping of the three projects.

Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat on Wednesday said that the CEC report has also vindicated the stand of the opposition, which had rallied against the three projects, and nailed the BJP’s intention of destroying the state’s environment for sake of “crony capitalism”.

“The report of the CEC has vindicated our stand that the BJP is all out to sell Goa to the crony club to make a fortune by destroying the environment and identity of Goa… Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant must make his stand clear now and immediately write to the Centre to stop all three projects,” Kamat said, reacting to the report of the CEC which was submitted to the Supreme Court last week.

The CEC had been directed by the apex court to examine the three projects, following popular opposition.

Around 50,000 trees in and around Mollem, a village located along the Goa-Karnataka border, have been slotted for felling to make way for the three central government projects.

In its report the CEC had questioned the South Western Railway’s track doubling project from Castlerock railway station in Karnataka to Tinaighat railway station in Goa, saying there was no justification for the project.

It has also recommended a major re-alignment of the Goa Tamnar Transmission Project, an inter-state power transmission project, in order to reduce the possibilities of felling trees to make way for the 400 KV line, while also suggesting an elevated corridors and creating of wide animal corridors along the NH-4 which is the process of being four-laned.

While the opposition and youth organisations in the state alleged that the road and rail expansion projects were being carried out to facilitate transportation of coal from Goa’s Mormugao Port to the steel mills in Karnataka, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and the BJP-led coalition had backed the projects, claiming they were essential to boost tourism in the state.

Another Opposition MLA Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward party, has also welcomed the CEC recommendations.

“The decision from Central Empowered Committee of #SupremeCourt is 1st step to save our @unescowhc #Mollem forests & biodiversity of #Goa! The decision has proven that Goa’s #youth cannot be taken for granted & they are our leaders for our collective future! #TeamGoa #SaveGoaNow,” Sardesai tweeted.

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Uniform assessment policy for all Class 12 boards not possible: Centre




The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that there cannot be any uniform assessment policy for all board examinations, which includes those of the CBSE, the ICSE and the state boards.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, representing the Centre, told a bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar that all boards are autonomous bodies, and empowered to formulate their schemes in connection with the assessment of Class 12 students.

He told the top court that the life of each student is protected by Article 21 of the Constitution, and it is not safe or prudent to have a written exam amid the ongoing pandemic. “Students cannot be compelled to take examination during the pandemic. For example, if something happens to a student, then his/her parents will sue the board,” Venugopal said.

The AG said this situation has arisen for first time and the boards had to innovate and think of the students’ best interest. He added that 13 experts have put their heads together and has been approved by the CBSE.

The Centre also informed the top court that students will be given an option, that is, if they are not satisfied with the assessment, then they can opt for the exam.

The CBSE on Monday informed the Supreme Court the optional examinations for Class 12 students, unsatisfied with its assessment criteria, would be held between August 15 to September 15. The exams would be conducted if the environment is conducive against the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

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Smriti Irani slams Rahul Gandhi, calls him ‘Gyani Baba’




Mocking former Congress President Rahul Gandhi as ‘Gyani Baba’ (wise monk), Union Minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday said he needs to introspect why his party-ruled states have failed poorly in the Covid management.

In a series of tweets after Rahul Gandhi’s press conference, Irani said, “While Gyani Baba is dishing out pearls of wisdom to the Honourable Prime Minister, he may like to introspect on the following – Where did the second wave start? – Congress ruled states. Which states had a huge percentage of India’s cases and deaths? – Congress ruled states.”

In another tweet, she said, “State with the highest case fatality rate – Congress ruled state. States with maximum noise against vaccines creating vaccine hesitancy – Congress ruled states. States which had an astronomical positivity rate during the second wave – Congress ruled states.”

She pointed out that it was the Congress-ruled states that demanded decentralisation of vaccine procurement and later did a u-turn.

“Who demanded decentralization & then did a u-turn?- Congress. Which states did the worst in terms of vaccination yesterday even as the country created a world record? – Congress ruled states. It is darkness under the lamp,” she said.

National in-charge of BJP’s Information and Technology department, Amit Malviya tweeted, “Before Rahul Gandhi pontificates on Covid management, notwithstanding that Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra, all Congress ruled, have been laggards, he should let us know if he has got himself vaccinated, since Congress actively promoted vaccine hesitancy.”

Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi released a white paper on the Centre’s Covid management and said, “The idea is to provide insights and information so that avoidable deaths can be prevented in the coming waves.”

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AIMIM invites applications for 2022 polls in Uttar Pradesh




The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has started inviting applications from candidates willing to contest the 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The application will be in the prescribed form and will also include a loyalty contract.

The ‘loyalty contract’ says that the applicant will campaign for the party in the election, working honestly for the party even in the event of not getting the ticket.

The applicants will also have to pay an application fee of Rs 10,000 along with the form.

AIMIM state president Shaukat Ali said, “We have made up our mind to contest on 100 Muslim majority seats in Uttar Pradesh and there has also been a discussion about a possible alliance with like-minded parties. Although no final decision has been taken on this yet, the doors of both SP and BSP are open for us.”

He said that AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi will take the final decision on the ticket distribution, for which he will visit the state soon.

In the recent panchayat polls in UP, AIMIM has done well in Akhilesh Yadav’s constituency Azamgarh and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s hometown Prayagraj.

Meanwhile in 2015, the AIMIM had won four seats in the zila panchayat polls. The rise in the graph of AIMIM in the UP panchayat elections has boosted the morale of the party workers.

Earlier in 2017, AIMIM had fielded its candidates on 38 seats in the assembly elections but did not win a single seat.

The party got 2,05,232 votes in entire Uttar Pradesh, which was only 0.2 per cent of the total votes polled.

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