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Supreme Court dismisses new petition on verifying all votes with VVPAT, says ‘let country elect its government’

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a new petition that sought matching of all voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips with electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the counting of votes on May 23.

Calling the petition a “nuisance”, the court said, “We won’t entertain such a plea over and over again. Can’t come in the way of people electing their representatives. Let country elect its government.”

A vacation bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra refused to entertain the plea filed by a Chennai-based organisation ‘Tech for All’ saying that a larger bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had already dealt with the matter and passed an order, news agency PTI reported.

The apex court had on May 7 dismissed a review plea filed by 21 Opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu seeking that random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs be increased to 50 per cent.

The top court had on April 8 directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths per assembly segment in Lok Sabha polls, saying it would provide greater satisfaction not just to political parties but also to the entire electorate.

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Delhi gets first batch of 25 new buses after six years

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The national capital will get at least 3,000 new buses in the next seven to eight months, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced while flagging off the first lot of 25 buses for the city on Tuesday.

The 3,000 buses are a part of a total 4,000 buses, which the Delhi government will be getting by 2020 to augment the city’s transport system.

The non air-conditioned, standard floor buses, which were flagged off on Tuesday, are first in the city to be fitted with hydraulic lifts for easy access for the differently-abled and senior citizens.

Speaking at the event, Kejriwal said the new buses will not only help boost public transport but also improve the air quality in the national capital.

“In the last seven-eight years, no new buses were added to Delhi’s public transport system. But, in the coming seven-eight months, 3,000 new buses will be delivered. In this fleet of 3,000 buses, we will also have some electric buses – another first for the city,” Kejriwal said.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said that the government overcame “unimaginable obstructions” for procuring new buses. “Nobody could think that some people would go to court even on the matter of getting buses in the city. In the past two years, we fought hard to ensure that the cases turned in our favour,” he said.

Apart from hydraulic lifts, the 25 new buses that were pressed into service from Tuesday are equipped with three CCTV cameras, GPS and panic buttons.

The fleet of 1,000 standard floor buses, of which Tuesday’s 25 buses are a part, will be delivered by January next year. These buses will be added to the existing fleet of 1,679 buses that are operational under the cluster scheme of the Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit System (DIMTS).

The chief minister said that the delivery of another 1,000 e-buses, being procured by the government, will begin from February. Roll out of the first batch of 385 e-buses is expected in February 2020. The remaining 615 e-buses will be procured in next phases, the government later said in a press conference.

Apart from this, tenders for 1,000 low floor air-conditioned buses for Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) have also been floated.

Besides, the government is also moving to induct 1,000 low floor air-conditioned buses under the cluster scheme.

In the new standard floor buses flagged off on Tuesday, drivers will get a clear view of the rear of the bus while reversing, thanks to a rearview camera. Each bus comes with a touch-enabled screen fixed near the driver’s steering for live feed. This is in addition to two cameras that are fitted inside the bus for safety of passengers. So far this year, cluster and DTC buses have been involved in at least 27 fatal accidents. In 2018, the count was 15.

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30 dead as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand bear brunt of rain fury, Delhi on flood alert

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Rains continued to lash several places in Punjab and other states on Monday after at least 30 people were killed and dozens reported missing or feared dead over the weekend across north India.

Authorities in Uttarakhand and Punjab launched rescue operations in several places to move people stranded after flood and cloudbursts as the weather department forecast more rains in the region.

Flood alerts have been sounded in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh as rivers, including the Yamuna, swelled to dangerous levels. The Delhi government has asked people living in low-lying areas to move to safer places as the water level in the Yamuna is expected to cross the danger mark (205.33 metres), officials said.

The Yamuna was flowing at 203.37m on Sunday evening and is expected to touch 207m on Monday as 828,000 cusecs water was released from Haryana’s Hathini Kund barrage at 6pm, an official said.

Majority of the damage was reported from the two worst-hit states — Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand — as heavy rains remained unabated through the Himalayan belt. Hundreds were stranded after incessant rainfall triggered landslides, snapped road links, led to shutting down of hydropower projects and release of excess water from dams in the region.

As of Sunday evening, rain-related incidents had claimed at least 23 lives in Himachal Pradesh, four in Uttarakhand while dozens were reported injured. In Punjab’s Aol village, three members of a family were killed when the roof of their house collapsed, police said.

Two people were airlifted from Arakot of Uttarkashi’s Mori tehsil and brought to Sahasradhara helipad in Dehradun following a cloudburst in the area, news agency Asian News International reported on Monday. They are being shifted to Doon Hospital, it said. Two helicopters were sent to Arakot earlier with communication equipment and ropes and three medical teams have also reached Arakot.

At least 10 people were reported missing as cloudbursts wreaked havoc in several villages, damaging several houses in Arakot, Makuri and Tikochi villages in Uttarkashi district, the worst-hit region in the state.

Hundreds have been evacuated to higher reaches, state officials said adding that roads were damaged at many places, hampering rescue efforts.

Indian Army and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel launched a rescue operation in Punjab’s Jalandhar district on Monday after major breaches were reported on the Satluj River at four places in Bholewal, Meowal and other villages under Philluar sub-division.

As per the initial reports, more than 20 people are still trapped even as NDRF teams rescued four people from Nawan Khera village.

Jalandhar’s deputy commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma has asked people in at least 13 villages of Phillaur district to be evacuated. Officials said the situation is under control in Shahkot sub-division of Jalandhar district, where around 63 villages were put on high alert. Sharma requested residents of Shahkot to move to safer places as around 2.4 lakh cusec of water from the Sutlej is likely to hit the area during the day.

The situation also remained under control in the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, where more than 65 villages were put on high alert. Heavy rainfall in Jalandhar lead to waterlogging in several places across the city.

The India Meteorological Department has warned heavy rainfall likely at isolated places across Punjab.

Hundreds of tourists were also left stranded in Himachal Pradesh’s tribal Lahaul and Spiti district after a freak snowfall on Sunday cut off roads in the region, officials said. They said rescuers were on their way to Chandratal situated at an altitude of about 4,300metres or 14,100ft in the Himalayas.

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) office in Himachal Pradesh said on Sunday that the state received the highest ever rainfall for a 24-hour period since records began almost 70 years ago. “The state as a whole received 102.5mm and this was 1,065% more than normal,” IMD said in a statement.

In Uttar Pradesh, several rivers, including Ganga, Yamuna and Ghaghra, are in spate. The Ganga is flowing above the danger mark in Badaun, Garhmukteshwar, Naraura and Farrukhabad.

Of the 15 wettest places in the world in the past 24 hours, 13 were in India, according to global weather monitoring website El Dorado Weather. The world’s wettest place was Diamond Harbour in West Bengal, which received 220mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. Vellore with 188mm rain was ranked second, Jamshedpur third with 172mm, Shimla seventh with 146mm and Chandigarh was 11th in the global ranking with 121mm of rain.

As of August 15, a total of 1,058 persons have died due to rain-related incidents during the monsoon season that started on June 1 with one-fourth of the deaths reported from Maharashtra.

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73rd Independence Day 2019: PM Modi’s 5 appeals to the nation on Independence Day

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address on Independence Day saw him appeal to the people to join hands to take on the challenges faced by the country. He highlighted the issue of population explosion and said there is a need to have greater discussion and awareness.

PM Modi praised those with small families for their “patriotism”. “There is a section of people who understand this problem. They take conscious decision to have smaller families, we should learn from them. Those who follow the policy of small family also contribute to the development of the nation, it is also a form of patriotism,” he said.

Here are the top five appeals from PM Modi’s Independence Day speech:

• Prime Minister Modi appealed to further the use of digital payments all over the nation. He said, “ Yes to digital payments and no to cash.”

• PM Modi stressed on need to make India free from single use plastic. He said the time for implementing such an idea has come, adding that our priority should be a ‘Made in India’ product.

”May teams be mobilised to work in this direction. Let a significant step be made on October 2 this year. Our priority should be a ‘Made in India’ product. Can we think of consuming local products, improving rural economy and the MSME sector,” he added.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi also encouraged domestic tourism in his Independence Day speech.

Talking about tourism in India, PM Modi said, “India has much to offer. I know people travel abroad for holidays but can we think of visiting at least 15 tourist destinations across India before 2022, when we mark 75 years of freedom.”

• PM Modi also appealed to the nation on more awareness on population. He said there is a need to have greater discussion and awareness on population explosion. He said, There is one issue I want to highlight today- population explosion. We have to think- can we do justice to the aspirations of our children.”

• PM Narendra Modi appealed to the nation to protect mother earth by reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and products. He said, “I want to demand something from my farmers today. I cannot let my mother earth be degraded. I want to appeal to all my farmers to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers by 30-40%. Just by doing this you will be doing a service to Mother Earth.”

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