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Thursday,06-August-2020

National News

Skeletal local train services resume in Mumbai

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After a gap of over two-and-a-half months, a limited number of suburban trains started zooming in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) from Monday morning, officials said.

The local services on the network of Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) – the city’s lifeline – are specifically for the employees of the Maharashtra government who are engaged in essential services.

This follows repeated appeals by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to the Centre for resumption of services as pert of the unlocking process post Covid-19 lockdown.

Accordingly, the familiar sight and sounds of the suburban trains greeted Mumbaikars since early morning as the CR and WR together started 450 services, according to officials.

The WR will run 60 pairs of its 12 car suburban services – total 120 – in both direction) between Churchgate and Dahanu Road, according to WR spokesperson Ravindra Bhakar.

The CR will run 100 services on either side on its Main line – between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to Thane, Kalyan, Karjat and Kasara and 70 services on either sides of Harbour line – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Panvel, said CR spokesperson Shivaji Sutar.

These trains will run between 05.30 hrs to 23.30 hrs according to a CR-WR joint statement early today.

The Maharashtra government will be the nodal authority for this purpose.

Approximately 1.25 lakh employees of essential services of state government are expected to commute by these special limited services.

During normal times, over 85 lakhs commute daily on the suburban networks spanning Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad.

The CR and WR made it clear these special suburban services will not be for general passengers/public and will be strictly for those engaged in essential services only.

Travelling authority will be applicable as per normal procedure over WR and CR and certain booking windows will be opened for the same.

The Railway workman special trains, already running will continue to run and the RPF will be deployed at various stations.

Food and other stalls will not be opened.

Entry will be given at stations through ID cards of employees but later the state employees will be issued QR based E-passes which will also bar colour coding to enable swifter ticket checking with coordination by the state government.

Both the Railways as the state government will ensure multiple rounds of checking to ensure only essential workers board these trains.

The state government will have to ensure all those allowed to travel are done so after ensuring that they are medically fit and do not come from containment zone.

To allow adequate social distancing in the coaches, unlike its seating capacity to accommodate about 1,200 persons, only about 700 commuters shall be allowed per train.

Further the state government has been advised to stagger the timings of its offices for workers coming from different areas to ensure there is no crowding at the stations and inside the trains.

“It is requested not to rush to the stations and follow medical and social protocols as mandated for Covid-19,” the CR-WR urged.

National News

Bihar seat sharing formula to be finalized soon: Rahul Gandhi

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New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a special party briefing via video conferencing in New Delhi during the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown imposed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, on May 26, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has held a meeting with party workers of Bihar through video conferencing where he told them that the situation due to Covid-19 is pathetic and unemployment is rising in the country. He said that the Congress should prepare for the elections in the state with “positivity”.

Rahul Gandhi in his speech said that a seat sharing formula with alliance partners will be finalized in 15 to 20 days and asked Congress leaders to respect the allies and their leaders, sources said.

For the seat sharing formula, Congress state in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil will travel this week to Bihar to hold talks with all the stakeholders, Rahul told the party workers.

Leader in the Bihar Assembly Sadanand Singh requested Rahul Gandhi to finalise the alliances soon so that they get time to prepare for the elections. Many Congress leaders including former Minister Shakiluzzaman Ansari raised the issue of outsiders being given party tickets and asked the leadership to give tickets only to dedicated party workers in the wake of the recent rebellions in many states, said sources.

The Congress is set to contest the Bihar assembly elections in alliance with the RJD and other non-NDA constituents.

Chief National Media Coordinator of the Congress, Sanjiv Singh said that over 1000 Congress workers participated in the virtual meeting.

He said, “Rahulji said that he will be present in Bihar as and when the state unit desires.”

But the Congress has a tough task ahead on seat adjustment with the RJD which had bulldozed the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when Kirti Azad had to contest from Dhanbad in Jharkhand and Shakil Ahmed fought as an Independent.

In the 2015 Assembly elections, the RJD, JDU and the Congress contested the polls together and won handsomely. But the JDU later went over to the BJP.

There are about 100 seats which were contested by the JDU which are yet to be distributed amongst the alliance partners and the Congress too wants a major chunk from the pie, but sources say that the party may settle for 70 seats.

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National News

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani orders probe in hospital fire which claimed 8 lives

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Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, on Thursday ordered a probe into the fire incident at a Ahmedabad Covid hospital which claimed eight lives on Thursday morning.

The Chief Minister ordered the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Home Sangeeta Singh and ACS Urban Development Mukesh Puri to submit a report within 3 days.

The CM has also announced an aid of Rs 4 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured, from the CM relief fund.

A major fire in the ICU ward of a private dedicated Covid hospital in Ahmedabad claimed the lives of eight patients, including 5 men and 3 women in the wee hours on Thursday. The fire broke out in the ICU ward of ‘Shrey hospital’, a dedicated Covid-19 hospital in Navrangpura area in Ahmedabad at around 3 a.m. on Thursday.

The prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed his condolences for the tragic incident and had a telephonic conversation with the Gujarat CM and Ahmedabad Mayor.

The prime minister tweeted, “Saddened by the tragic hospital fire in Ahmedabad. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Spoke to CM @ vijayrupanibjp Ji and Mayor @ibijalpatel Ji regarding the situation. Administration is providing all possible assistance to the affected.”

The PMO has also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the victim’s families and Rs 50,000 for the injured.

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National News

Congress has always towed the soft Hindutva line: Pinarayi Vijayan

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Kerala-Chief-Minister-Pinarayi-Vijayan

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday took pot shots on the Congress over its stand on the Bhumi Pujan ceremony in Ayodhya to start construction of the Ram temple.

Vijayan said the statement of party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, welcoming the event, is the least surprising as top Congress leaders, including Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narashima Rao had a similar stand.

“If they had taken a proper stand on real secularism, then things would have been different for the country. The Congress has always towed the soft Hindutva line. Just look at Ayodhya, the Congress has done everything and even when the Babri Masjid was demolished, Rao remained silent. It’s best not to speak of such things now,” he said.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed the Bhumi Pujan for Ram temple in Ayodhya, laying its first brick.

Priyanka Gandhi, in her statement, said that “this programme with blessings of Lord Ram and his teachings should become a symbol of national unity, brotherhood and cultural amalgamation”.

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