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PM visits forward location in Ladakh amid tension with China

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Amid ongoing tension at borders with China in Eastern Ladakh, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a visit to Leh and forward locations on Friday morning to review the ground security situation, barely 18 days after a violent stand-off.

Sources said that Modi reached Ladakh early morning and briefied by the Army, Air Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police at one of the forward locations in Nimu. Located at 11,000 feet above sea level, Nimu is among the tough terrains, surrounded by the Zanskar range and on the banks of the Indus.

The Prime Minister, accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, will also interact with injured soldiers at the military hospital in Leh, in what will be a morale booster for the forces.

General Rawat will review the tri-services preparedness against the aggressive People’s Liberation Army (PLA), as well as understand the proposed de-escalation and disengagement process at the four stand-off points.

Modi’s visit comes just a day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called off his own visit to Ladakh. Singh was to visit Eastern Ladakh region to interact with soldiers deployed at the hostile border on Friday. He had plans to interact with the soldiers injured during the barbaric attack carried out by Chinese People’s Liberation Army on June 15. In the attack, India lost 20 soldiers and Chinese Army too had casualties, figures still unknown.

On June 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stated that the sacrifice made by 20 soldiers who went down fighting against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Galwan Valley on June 15 night “will not go in vain”.

He also said that while India wants peace, it will give a “befitting reply” if provoked. “India’s integrity and sovereignty is supreme for us, and no one can stop us from defending it. Nobody should have any iota of doubt about this,” said Modi. “Indian troops went down fighting (maarte, maarte mare hain),” he had said.

Modi also said that the whole country is with the families of those who sacrificed their lives for the country. “India will defend every stone every inch of its territory. India is a peace-loving country which has always tried to maintain cooperative and friendly relations with neighbours.”

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PM Modi extends PMGKAY scheme till November

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for another five months till the end of November to help the poor in view of the upcoming festivals like Diwali and Chhath.

The Prime Minister made the announcement in his sixth address to the nation in four months since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and started getting out of hand.

“Keeping needs of expenses of people, it has been decided that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana should now be extended till Diwali and Chhath Puja. The scheme will be extended till the end of November,” the Prime Minister said during his 16-minute address.

Modi said that more than Rs 90,000 crore will be spent in the expansion of the scheme and around 80 crore people across the country will be provided free ration — five kg wheat or 5 kg rice.

The Prime Minister also said that every family will also be provided 1 kg gram (chana) under the scheme every month.

Explaining the expenses, the Prime Minister said it comes to almost one and a half lakh crore if the expenses of the last three months are added to it. Though the country is currently in ‘Unlock 2’ mode to help revive the stagnant economy, the Prime Minister requested people to keep precautions and follow the guidelines.

The Prime Minister addressed the nation for the second time in the span of three days as the nation headed towards a scarier and worse state of coronavirus outbreak pushing the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 5,66,840, with the number of fatalities inching closer to 17,000-mark.

On an average, there are around 18,000-20,000 Covid-19 cases reported every day and while the central government might be on the brink of coming up with a vaccine soon, the worry is still imminent given the expanse of the country and its demographic divide.

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New corona guidelines, PM to address nation tomorrow

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As the total corona positive cases in India climbed to 5,48,318 and fatalities rose to 16,475, the central government has issued fresh guidelines on Monday to contain the spread of the virus.

Night curfew will continue from 10 pm to 5 am from July 1. Schools, colleges and coaching institutes will remain closed till July 31. Similarly, metro rail, cinema halls, gyms, swimming pools will also remain closed. Entertainment parks, theatres, bars and pubs will also be closed. No curbs on inter and intra state movement of goods. No religious congregations and sporting events will be allowed. However, more domestic flights and trains will be allowed.

Across India, coronavirus cases are increasing in Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation tomorrow at 4 pm. In his first televised address to the nation, Modi had urged the nation to impose ‘Janata Curfew’, a curfew imposed by the people, for the people, on themselves to protect the nation against Coronavirus.

In his second address to the nation, the PM had urged the nation to come together to thank the emergency service workers for working through the novel coronavirus outbreak. He had asked every Indian to come out of their houses, stand in their balconies at exactly 5 pm on March 22 and clap or ring a bell to salute people who are serving the nation tirelessly. In the third televised address, the PM had appealed to the citizens to switch off lights in their houses and light candles or diyas on April 5 at 9 pm for nine minutes to dispel the darkness and gloom brought by the outbreak of the deadly novel Coronavirus.

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Andhra CM backs PM over remarks made at all-party meet

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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on Saturday came out in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the controversy over some remarks made by the latter at the all-party meeting on India-China standoff held on Friday.

“Concerned by the manufactured controversy surrounding the All Party Meet yesterday. This is the time to showcase our unity and solidarity with our armed forces and not the time to point fingers or find faults,” tweeted Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The YSR Congress Party President, who had attended the all-party meet through video conference, said the Prime Minister and other ministers gave very convincing answers.

“Nation is and should be united on this subject. Unity brings strength and division exhibits weakness,” said the Chief Minister.

A row erupted over Modi’s reported remarks that there was no Chinese presence on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The opposition slammed the Prime Minister for the statement and wondered how 20 Indian soldiers were killed if there was no transgression by China.

The government issued a statement on Saturday saying controversy was being created. It alleged attempts were being made to give mischievous interpretations to comments made by the Prime Minister at the all-party meeting.

The government said the “Prime Minister’s observations that there was no Chinese presence on our side of the LAC pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of our armed forces”.

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China did not enter India’s territory: Modi

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“Those who dared Bharat Mata were taught a lesson,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said while asserting that no one can take even an “inch of the land”.

Addressing the all-party meeting to discuss India-China border situation after 20 Indian soldiers were martyred in a hand-to-hand combat with the Chinese troops, the Prime Minister said Chinese neither entered Indian territory nor has any post been taken over by them. “They have not intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken over by them (China). India possesses the capability that no one can eye even one inch of our land. Our armed forces have the capability to move into multiple sectors at one go,” Modi noted.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, his Andhra Pradesh counter part Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, BJP president J P Nadda, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader MK Stalin, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray were among those who attended the meeting.

In the video-conference addressed by Modi on the corona situation in the country on Wednesday, the Telangana CM had already pledged in no uncertain terms his support to the Modi government stating that internal security should not be compromised at any cost. “This is the time when everyone should be united and speak in one voice. No one should politicise the issue. We should give a befitting reply to any country that questions the sovereignty and integrity of India,” KCR had told the Prime Minister.

Jagan had passed a condolence resolution in the Assembly and observed a two-minute silence with his colleagues as a mark of respect to the martyred soldiers. “I am deeply distressed after hearing the news of the attack on our soldiers. I read in the newspapers that 20 jawans were killed, including Santosh Babu from Suryapet. The sacrifice of Colonel Santosh Babu will forever be remembered by the Telugu people. I express deep condolences to the bereaved families,” he had told the Assembly while passing the condolence resolution.

On his part, former CM Chandrababu Naidu had expressed his party’s solidarity to the central government. At a recent TDLP video-conference, Naidu had paid tribute to the 20 Army personnel who laid down their lives in hand-to-hand combat with the Chinese troops. The TDLP condemned China for its provocative bid to ingress into the Indian territory.

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Owaisi writes to PM, blames him for Ladakh crisis

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AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Friday blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the crisis on the border with China, leading to India losing its 20 security personnel.

Owaisi, whose All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) was not invited to the all-party meeting convened by the Prime Minister on Ladakh clash, wrote a letter to him.

“The blame for this crisis lies solely with the political, strategic and military leadership headed by you. It is unfortunate that you failed in dealing with Chinese designs,” the Hyderabad MP wrote.

Owaisi said the lives of those killed should not go in vain and the best way to avenge their lives must be recovering Chinese-occupied Indian territory in Galwan Valley and Pangong So Lake areas by any means necessary.

He demanded that the government share with the country the facts about extent of Chinese incursions, extent of lapses in Indian decision-making and the consequent loss of Indian territory to Chinese occupation.

Owaisi also sought an independent review committee to look into the sequence of events leading up to the loss of Indian lives and territory. “The government must publish the committee’s findings in a white paper and make it accessible to the public,” reads the letter.

The white paper should provide clarity on questions like how much Indian territory is under Chinese occupation since May 2014, how many security personnel lost their lives due to Chinese incursions or face-offs, how many rounds of talks were held with China, what is the status and scope of the negotiations, who is responsible for the loss of 20 Indian personnel in recent face-off, why Indian soldiers did not open fire when their commanding officer was killed by Chinese troops, what were the intelligence inputs about Chinese movements that were ignored by the government and has China communicated that India violated the bilateral agreements by altering the constitutional status of Ladakh by making it a Union Territory, he said.

Owaisi also demanded that the Parliament be convened at the earliest so that opposition parties may seek accountability from the ruling party and the government is bound to answer queries of representatives regarding occupation of Indian territory.

The AIMIM chief voiced his disappointment over not being invited to the all-party meeting.

“At a time when national consensus and a unified response is essential, it is unfortunate that AIMIM was not invited to the meeting. The criteria of the invitees betrays any rational explanation. It is absurd to limit the invitee political parties only to those with over 5 Lok Sabha MPs, parties with Union Cabinet Ministers and recognized national parties. The situation required the government to include every political party with a MP,” the MP wrote.

Owaisi said AIMIM may be a small political party but as its president he was one the first few MPs to have raised the issue of Chinese occupation of Indian territory since the past five weeks.

“Incursions by a foreign military and occupation of our territory is a national challenge and it can be overcome only when all political parties are taken into confidence,” he added.

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PM to CMs: Prepare for Unlock 2 without harming our people

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that the spread of the coronavirus is greater in certain big states and cities, with the high density of population, difficulty in maintaining physical distance and daily movement of people in huge numbers making it a challenging issue for the government. However, he asserted that going forward with ‘Unlockdown 2.0’ is the answer while being careful with hygiene and practices like wearing a mask.

The Prime Minister stressed that the collective commitment to fight against the virus will lead India to victory, while also talking about the need to speed up economic activities with due precautions in place. He talked about the need to fight “rumours of lockdown”, mentioning that the country is now in “phase of unlocking”.

“We need to now think about phase 2 of Unlock and how to minimise all possibilities of harm to our people,” he said.

Asking the states to take steps to boost infrastructure and construction related work, he listed steps taken under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat to provide a fillip to MSMEs, farming and agriculture marketing. He also underscored the need to remain alert to effectively tackle the challenges faced by the migrant labourers in the coming months.

However, vigilance being equal to the need to open up the economy was emphasised during the second day of the 6th PM-CM video conference on strategies dealing with the pandemic.

Modi talked about the presence of better health infrastructure and trained manpower to meet the challenge. “He highlighted the increase in domestic manufacturing capabilities of PPEs, masks, availability of diagnostic kits in adequate quantity, supply of ventilators made in India using PM CARES fund, availability of testing labs, lakhs of Covid special beds, thousands of isolation and quarantine centres, and adequate human resource through training,” a government statement said.

On Wednesday, PM Modi laid special emphasis on increased testing to quickly trace, track and isolate those affected. He cited the benefits of telemedicine and the need to create a big team of senior doctors who can guide and inform the sick through this means. He also talked about spreading timely and correct information through the helplines and the need to build a team of young volunteers to run the helplines effectively.

Meanwhile, the Centre underlined the emotional aspect of the battle against the virus, including battling fear of being afflicted and the stigma attached by making people aware of the high number of those who have defeated the virus and recovered. “Our priority must remain to help and support our corona warriors, doctors and health care workers,” said the PM.

Wednesday’s interaction was the second part of the two-day interaction, and witnessed participation of states and UTs including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana and Odisha.

The various Chief Ministers talked about health infrastructure available to meet the challenge and steps taken to strengthen it further, support provided to frontline workers, monitoring in containment zones, campaigns to encourage usage of masks and other safety precautions, increase in testing, and providing gainful employment opportunities to the migrants who have returned.

Home Minister Amit Shah requested all Chief Ministers to encourage download of Aarogya Setu to act as a self-shield for protection. Meanwhile, the OSD of the Health Ministry briefed about the positive outcomes of lockdown including a large number of cases averted and lives saved, spread of awareness, and ramping up of health infrastructure. He also informed that the number of cases and deaths per lakh of population in India are amongst the lowest in the world.

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Modi warns China: India capable of giving a befitting reply

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday sent out a clear signal on the India-China stand-off that resulted in the killing of 20 Indian soldiers, saying India won’t tolerate any misadventures when it comes to defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It was PM’s first statement after the bloodbath at the LAC two days back. He was addressing the Chief Ministers and UTs over the handling of the pandemic. He began by urging everyone to observe 2-minute silence in honour of the 20 martyrs and concluded by chanting ‘Om Shanti’.

Though PM clarified that India prefers peace, he asserted that India will do whatever it takes to defend itself.

Articulating India’s clear stand, the Prime Minister, in virtual presence of a host of Chief Ministers, said: “I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans will not go in vain. For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country are important. India wants peace but when instigated, India is capable of giving a befitting reply.”

He said sacrifice and valour are in India’s character.

Earlier, the Prime Minister called an all-party meeting on June 19 to build a political consensus over the issue.

At least 20 Indian Army men, including an officer, were killed on Monday night during a violent face-off with China’s People’s Liberation Army troops at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh region.

These are the first casualties faced by the Indian Army in a clash with the PLA since 1975 when an Indian patrol was ambushed by Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh.

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PM reviews COVID-19 situation, discusses future road map

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reviewed the coronavirus situation across the country at a high-level meeting here and discussed the future road map to contain the pandemic as India has surpassed the UK to become fourth worst affected country with a total of over 3.08 lakh cases so far.

In the meeting, the Prime Minister reviewed the preparation to tackle the disease and also took stock of the situation in different states and Union Territories, including Delhi.

“Reviewed the COVID-19 situation across the nation during a high-level meeting. We also reviewed the road map ahead, and steps to contain the pandemic in the parts where most cases are coming from,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.

The meeting was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, PM’s Principal Secretary P.K. Mishra, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, ICMR DG Balram Bhargava and other related officials of the Empowered Groups.

Vinod Paul, NITI Aayog Member and Convener of the Empowered Group of Medical Emergency Management Plan, made a detailed presentation on the current status and likely scenario of Covid-19 cases in the medium term.

It was observed that out of the total cases, two thirds are in five states — with an overwhelming proportion of cases in big cities. In view of the challenges being faced, particularly by the large cities, it was discussed to augment testing as well as the number of beds and services to effectively handle the peak surge of daily cases.

The Prime Minister took cognisance of the recommendations of the Empowered Group on city- and district-wise requirements of hospital beds and isolation beds which will be required and instructed Health Ministry officials to undertake emergency planning in consultation with the states and UTs.

Modi also advised the Ministry to ensure suitable preparations in view of the start of the monsoon season.

The present and emerging scenario of the COVID-19 disease in the capital was discussed and the projections for next two months was deliberated.

The Prime Minister suggested that the Home Minister and the Health Minister convene an emergency meeting with the Delhi Lt Governor and Chief Minister in the presence of all senior officials of central and Delhi governments and officials of the Municipal Corporations of Delhi to plan a coordinated and comprehensive response to handle the challenge posed by rising cases of Covid-19.

It was noted and appreciated that there have been many instances of outstanding work done by several states, districts and cities in containing and controlling the outbreak successfully. These success stories and best practices should be widely disseminated to provide inspiration and innovative ideas to others.

Presently, there are 1,45,779 active cases in India and all are under active medical supervision, official data says.

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Modi to hold video-conference with KCR, Jagan on June 17

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on June 17 via video conference to discuss the current situation and decide the future course of action in the wake of sudden surge of coronavirus cases in both the states.

This is the sixth time that Modi will interact with state CMs to take stock of the Covid-19 situation, but the first after Unlock 1.0. On Friday, AP reported 207 new Covid-19 cases, taking the state tally to 5,636 with 80 fatalities while Telangana’s (as on June 11) tally rose to 4,320 with nine deaths. The total number of fatalities in Telangana climbed to 165. The PM will discuss the strategy adopted by the two states to combat COVID-19 and the current situation following relaxations.

The Prime Minister will hold talks with CMs of 21 states / UTs on June 16, including Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Himachal, Chandigarh, Goa, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Ladakh, Puducherry, Arunachal. The last time Modi held a video-conference on May 11 with all state CMs to discuss an exit strategy.

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AP BJP stepping up pressure on Modi – Shah

The BJP AP leaders are no longer willing to give any further extra advantage to CM Jagan Reddy as far as his influence with Modi-Shah is concerned. Especially, in regard to AP CM’s latest effort to meet Amit Shah, the BJP state leaders became extremely careful and used all their influence with party national president JP Nadda. They have explained how their party could get some political advantage in Andhra Pradesh due to mistakes made by YCP in recent months. The party was a leading bitter struggle on the issues of local body elections and removal of the State Election Commissioner. At such a time, the Governor has supported Jagan Reddy move on change of Election Commissioner without consulting the Centre. Besides this, the YSRCP leaders were confidently saying that once Jagan Reddy would meet Amit Shah, the issue of SEC would also be resolved in favour of AP Government.

It is well known the BJP AP leaders have also stood in the forefront of legal fight against YCP in the SEC case. They have filed cases in the High Court after taking permission from JP Nadda and party national leadership. When the party was intensifying its fight in such a ‘do or die’ manner, it was considered wrong for the Governor to straightaway support YCP in removing the SEC. Now, the BJP AP leaders are stated to have successfully convinced their national leadership to bring pressure on the Governor also not to take political decisions without consulting the Centre henceforth. In the same way, Amit Shah and other Union Ministers were asked to give any further appointments to Jagan Reddy only after checking with the party core committee dealing with AP affairs.

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66% Indian give thumbs up to Modi, Odisha highest, TN least

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A nett 65.69 per cent Indian are satisfied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says IANS-C Voter State of the Nation 2020 Survey. At a time when the pandemic has plunged approval ratings of many world leaders, 58.36 per cent Indians across all states and union territories maintain they are “very satisfied” with the performance of Modi.

A 24.01 per cent Indians, across states, say they are “somewhat satisfied”, while 16.71 per cent are not satisfied with him at all.

Among the states, PM’s approval ratings tops in a non BJP ruled state Odisha. With 95.6 per cent Odias saying they are satisfied with him, 84.87 per cent “very satisfied” and just a 2.2 per cent of them disapprove of Modi.

Odisha is followed by Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, where his popularity is extremely high with nett approval ratings of 93.95 per cent, 92.73 and 83.6 respectively. Interestingly, like Odisha, even two among these three states are ruled by non BJP parties – Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Jharkahnd, where the BJP was recently outmaneuvered in the election, also has pretty significant approval ratings for the Prime Minister. 64.26 per cent of them say they are “very satisfied” with PM Modi, while the nett approval rating from the state is a whopping 82.97 per cent.

While it’s hardly a surprise that states like BJP ruled Karnataka and Modi’s own state Gujarat gives thumbs up to him, he has a soaring popularity even in Maharashtra which is being ruled by the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena combine. 71.48 per cent of the respondents from the state say they are satisfied with the performance of the Indian Prime Minister, according to the survey. Even in the Northeast 69.45 per cent gives him a thumbs up.

However, what should worry the BJP, given the Bihar election is later this year, Modi’s nett approval rating is 58.48 per cent in this Hindi heartland state, which is low in comparison to other states.

In West Bengal, where election is due next year, Modi’s nett approval rating is 64.06 per cent, which may be some reason for concern for the ruling TMC and Mamata Banerjee. Contrary to public beliefs, even in J&K, 50.84 per cent say they are very satisfied with him.

Three BJP-ruled states – Uttarakhand, Goa and Haryana are at the bottom of the approval chart. They have given a nett approval of the PM as 53.53, 52.54 and 51.25 per cent respectively.

However, it’s Kerala and Tamil Nadu which are in the red zone when it comes to his approval ratings. The Communist ruled Kerala has given a mere 32.89 per cent while the AIADMK ruled Tamil Nadu gave 32.15 per cent nett approval for Modi’s performance.

May 2009 onwards, the IANS-CVoter Tracker has been carried out each and every week, 52 waves in a calendar year, in 11 national languages, across all States in UTs in India, with a target sample size of 3,000 samples each wave. The average response rate is 55%. This survey is based on CATI interviews of adult (18+) respondents across all segments.

“For the analytics we are using our proprietary algorithm to calculate the Provincial and Regional Vote share based on the Split-Voter phenomenon,” said C Voter.

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Modi in ‘Unlock Mode’, hotels, places of worship open from June 8

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The Modi government seems to be slowly moving from ‘lockdown’ to unlock path. On Saturday, the Union government further extended the lockdown till June 30 in containment zones, but relaxed several lockdown regulations in non-containment zones.

In phase one of Unlock 1, the central government has allowed restaurants, hotels and places of worship can open from June 8.

Night curfew has been eased. Curfew in the nights will be from 9 pm to 5 pm as against earlier 7 pm to 6 am. No permits are required for inter-state movement, and unrestricted movement of goods and people has been permitted.

With the central government permitting places of worships to open from June 8, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) could formulate a strategy for reopening the hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara for ‘darshans’ to devotees in the first phase. Initially, the TTD may allow only the residents of Tirumala and Tirupati to have darshan.

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Year of historic achievements: Shah on 1st year of Modi 2.0

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has congratulated the people of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of completion of the first year of the second term of the Modi government.

Shah tweeted: “I heartily congratulate the country’s popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the successful one year of Modi 2.0. It has been full of historic achievements.”

Shah said the Modi government in its six years has corrected many historical wrongs and laid the foundation of a self-reliant India which is on the path of progress.

This 6-year term is an example of parallel coordination, welfare for the poor and economic reforms, Shah’s tweet in Hindi said.

The Union Home Minister also extended his gratitude to BJP workers for taking to the people the party’s achievements and its welfare schemes in the last six years.

“I thank the people of India for re-electing Narendra Modi for the second term,” Shah further said.

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Modi announces massive Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package, Congress terms it nothing but headline-grabbing

A day after his video-conference with CMs of all states on tackling the Covid-19 menace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a massive financial stimulus package of Rs 20 lakh crore to make the country self-reliant while stating that Lockdown 4.0 regulations will be state-specific.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said the fourth phase of the coronavirus lockdown in India will be way different from the earlier three phases of the lockdown. “Coronavirus going to be part of our lives for long time, but we can’t let our lives revolve around it only,” he said. “I am announcing a special economic package today which is going to play an important role in the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’. The Rs 20 lakh crore. This is 10% of India’s GDP.” The Congress part was quick to react saying the announcement made by Modi was nothing but headline-grabbing.

Modi said to make India self-reliant mainly rests on the five pillars – “economy, infrastructure, technology driven system, vibrant demography and demand”.

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At Modi’s 5th video-conference, KCR may demand fiscal package for Telangana

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao on Monday will raise the issue of fiscal stimulus package to the state government during the fifth video-conference of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with all the CMs.

While the chief ministers of the states and union territories are expected to push for stepping up economic activities in a calibrated manner, KCR as K Chandrasekhara Rao is popularly known, will explain the current financial status of the State arising out of the complete lockdown for more than 45 days to contain the spread of Covid-19. The PM’s video-conference will begin at 3 pm on Monday. KCR will demand for enhancement of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) from the present 3.5% to 5%. Pointing out that the corona virus pandemic has dealt a huge blow to the state economy, KCR may reiterate his demand of deferring loan installments to be paid by the Telangana government by at least six months and also permission to raise more loans when Modi will discuss the way forward with all the CMs in the battle against the corona virus on Monday.

The Chief Minister may also broach the farmers distress situation in the state and demand linking agriculture to MNREGA.

In the last Cabinet meeting, KCR has extended the lockdown period till May 29 — 10 days after it is scheduled to end in the rest of the country. In the press briefing after the Cabinet meeting last week, KCR turned his ire against the central government for its failure to mitiage the state’s financial crisis due to the complete lockdown. To tide over the financial crisis, KCR had asked the central government to either give the states required power or money. KCR had sought Rs 10.15 lakh crore Quantitative Easing to counter the impending state financial crisis. In the press briefing, he had pointed out that Telangana”s monthly revenue has come down from Rs 17,000 crore to Rs 1,600 crore.

“Please increase FRBM limit as loans will be borne by the states and the Centre has to bear nothing. I asked for deferment on loan repayment at least for six months but there is no response. I am surprised what burden this will put on the Centre. What is this policy I am not able to understand. I am not happy with the attitude of the central government. It has not responded to the State’s request for deferment of instalments payable by the government on the loans it had availed. We will not keep quiet,” KCR had said.

The PM’s video-conference on Monday will be attended ministers of home and health, secretaries of these departments, chief secretaries and Director Generals of Police (DGPs) of all states will also be present along with the CMs in the meeting. All CMs will be given an opportunity to share their opinion in PM’s fifth video-conference with the CMs.

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Chandrababu letter to Modi for detailed probe: Vizag Gas Leak

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Telugu Desam Party National President and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday thanked Prime Minister Narenda Modi on behalf of the people of Andhra Pradesh for the latter’s empathy and prompt action in extending rescue activities to create confidence in the survivors of Visakhapatnam gas disaster.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Mr. Naidu said the ghastly accident that occurred in LG Polymers has left a trail of immense sadness. “However, your quick response has brought us solace and confidence. I wholeheartedly commend your quick response and your directions to probe further into the alleged accident. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has swung into action for neutralizing the toxic effects of the gas and further airlifting para-tertiary butyl catechol (PTBC) from Gujarat has happened in quick succession with your prompt directions.”

In this backdrop, Mr. Naidu expressed some concerns and made suggestions for the kind consideration of PM. The TDP chief urged Modi for the constitution of a Scientific Experts’ Committee to carry out a detailed probe into the alleged gas leakage and the circumstances that led to the release of toxic vapours/gases. The company claims that the gas leaked out was Styrene. However, there were conflicting reports of other toxic gases being involved, which needs to be investigated to understand the enduring health impacts.

Mr. Naidu said that the long-lasting impact of the health of those undergoing treatment is of serious concern. It is apprehended that the toxins emitted may cause permanent damage to the victims. Close monitoring of the ambient air quality is required in and around Visakhapatnam city for understanding present and future impact. Roping in national and international health-experts for proper health assessment and accordingly to take immediate and long-term health measures. This assessment would be helpful in giving proper compensation.

The TDP chief stressed the need for a thorough monitoring of each patient on a long-term basis with the help of electronic health records, which may help build confidence among the victims and reinforce trust in your efforts.

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Modi convenes NDMA meet on Vizag gas leak

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The prime minister has convened a meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority at his residence in New Delhi at 11 am in wake of the gas leak in Vizag.

“In the wake of the situation in Visakhapatnam, PM Narendra Modi has called for a meeting of the NDMA at 11 am,” stated the Prime Minister”s Office.

Modi will will interact with Home Minister Amit Shah, Minister of State for Home Kishan Reddy and senior officers of the National Disaster Management Authority and is likely to direct them to lay down policies for disaster management.

Eight persons, including a minor, dead while hundreds of others reported sick after a gas leaked from the LG Polymers India plant at R.R. Venkatapuram village on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam.

Modi expressed his condolences for the families of the deceased and issued instructions for proper treatment and assistance to be given to those who have taken ill. Modi also spoke to Union home ministry and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to take stock of the situation in Vizag arising out of the gas leak.

The prime minister wrote on Twitter that he spoke with Union Home Ministry officials and National Disaster Management Authority regarding the situation “which is being monitored closely.” “Spoke to officials of MHA and NDMA regarding the situation in Visakhapatnam, which is being monitored closely. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi @narendramodi.

Responding to the Vizag gas leak incident on Thursday, Home Minister Amit Shah said that he has spoken to the officials of MHA and NDMA regarding the situation in Visakhapatnam, “which is being monitored closely.” “The incident in Vizag is disturbing. Have spoken to the NDMA officials and concerned authorities. We are continuously and closely monitoring the situation. I pray for the well-being of the people of Visakhapatnam,” tweeted Amit Shah.

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11 dead , 320 hospitalized in Visakha gas leak. People fell like pack of cards

A major gas leak in a polymer company in Visakhapatnam has led to death of at 11 people, including a child and two senior citizens. Two of them fell into well while trying to escape and died.

Over 320 have been hospitalized following the leak, which took place at LG Polymers chemical plant owned at R R Venkatapuram around 2.30 am on Thursday after they inhaled toxic PVC gas (or Styrene) leaked from LG Polymers. Styrene gas is used to make plastics and rubber and can be dangerous. The gas had leaked out of two 5,000-tonne tanks that had been unattended due to coronavirus lockdown in place since late March. The plant was reopened after easing of the lockdown regulations without proper safety measures and adequate maintenance before starting production work led to the tragedy. The plant is owned by the South Korean company LG Corp.

At least 11 people had died from toxic gas exposure and that 320 others were affected by the gas to varying degrees, including some who are in intensive care. The deceased were identified as Krishnamurthy (73), Shreya (6), Grisha (9), Gangaraju (48) , Chandramouli (19), Narayanamma (39) and Narasamma (43). Some unconfirmed reports estimated that around 1,000 people were affected by the gas leak.

The toxic fumes have spread over five villages and officials have been evacuating people from surrounding areas. As the gas spread, residents ran out of their homes in panic. Hordes of people came out of their houses faces covered, ambulances rushing towards the the affected areas. Video footage showed dozens of men and women lying unconscious in the street. Visuals of a stray dog struggling to use its legs to stand before collapsing on the floor, two sisters tightly hugging each other, a cop choking, a daughter desperately trying to revive her mother collapsed on the street by puming her heart were disturbing. It was one horrific and tragic scene. People fell like a pack of cards, some fell off their bikes, some morning walkers collapsed inhaling the toxic fumes, children and women were found unconsicous on the pavements.

Hundreds of people have been taken to hospital – many complaining of a burning sensation in the eyes, nausea and breathing problems. Ambulances, fire engines and policemen reached the chemical plant. Residents of Simhachalam, Gopalapatnam, Vepagunta have been evacuated as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have reached the spot. Chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy is closely monitoring the situation and is rushing to the Port City.

Of the 320 gas leak victims, around 193 are undergoing treatment at King’s George Hospital, 66 at private hopsitals and another 57 at various health centers. The KGH hospital in Vizag had to grapple with a swarm of patients cramming hospital emergency rooms with more than 2 gas victims being treated in one bed. There were children everywhere, often two to three to a bed. Some were brothers and sisters.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called up Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy to inquire about the situation. Jagan reportedly informed the Prime Minister that the situation was under control and that people in the nearby villages were evacuated. Modi expressed his condolences for the families of the deceased and issued instructions for proper treatment and assistance to be given to those who have taken ill. Modi also spoke to Union home ministry and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to take stock of the situation in Vizag arising out of the gas leak. The prime minister has also convened a meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority at 11 am in wake of the situation, the PMO said.

The prime minister wrote on Twitter that he spoke with Union Home Ministry officials and National Disaster Management Authority regarding the situation “which is being monitored closely.” “Spoke to officials of MHA and NDMA regarding the situation in Visakhapatnam, which is being monitored closely. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi @narendramodi.

Responding to the Vizag gas leak incident on Thursday, Home Minister Amit Shah said that he has spoken to the officials of MHA and NDMA regarding the situation in Visakhapatnam, “which is being monitored closely.” “The incident in Vizag is disturbing. Have spoken to the NDMA officials and concerned authorities. We are continuously and closely monitoring the situation. I pray for the well-being of the people of Visakhapatnam,” tweeted Amit Shah.

Andhra Pradesh Govenor Bishwabhushan Harichandan expressed anguish over the situation in Visakha. Bishwabhushan Harichandan advised the government to press in Red Cross volunteers to mitigate the crisis.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Virus is far from over, lockdown will continue in hotspots: PM to CMs

In the fourth video-conference with the CMs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the lockdown enforced by the Centre to arrest the spread of novel coronavirus in the country will continue in hotspots.

In the virtual interaction with the CMs of all the states, Modi some relaxations would largely depend on the situation in those states and curbs would be lifted in districts that have shown improvement. A decision on extending the countrywide lockdown would be taken after May 3.

Modi said social distancing and face masks would become a part of daily life, not just in urban areas but also rural areas. Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy who was hoping for some relaxations in green zones was disappointed Modi stated that, ‘Virus is far from over. Constant vigil is paramount. Masks will be become part of our lives going ahead. Lockdown has yielded positive results. We were able to save thousands of lives,” Modi stated in his address to the CMs.

Some CMs, including Jagan Mohan Reddy were of the view that any extension of the lockdown should be taken only after May 3, but economic activities should commence in ‘green zones’.

In the last video-conference, Jagan emphasized that the wheel of the economy should be kept moving, while pointing out that the lockdown should be limited only to identified red zones in the state where the Covid-19 was prevalent. Of the total 676 mandals in the state, 37 have been identified as red zones and another 44 as orange zones. AP reported 1,177 with 31 deaths. In Andhra Pradesh, 11 districts are in the red zones including Kurnool, Guntur, Nellore, Prakasam, Krishna, Kadapa, West Godavari, Chittoor, Vishakhapatnam, East Godavari and Anantapur.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao sought more resources to deal with the health and the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and pitched for leveraging Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to counter the same. He called for increasing the pay and number of work days under MGNREGA. He also called for Quantitative Easing (QE) or new money supply by the Reserve Bank of India, increasing the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management limit to 6%. He also sought deferring the interest payments that States are supposed to remit to the central government on their borrowings for at least six months. Telangana reported 1,001, 25 deaths, while Andhra Pradesh continues to see a surge of coronavirus cases. There are over 221 containment clusters in Telangana, 139 are in Hyderabad, where in and out public movement is totally prohibited with high barricades and heavy police deployment.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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