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February 2017 National Affairs



  • Air India inducts A320 neo plane, to add 13 more in 2017
    Air India on 16 February 2017 inducted the first Airbus 320 neo aircraft into its fleet. The plane is first of the 14 aircraft leased from Kuwait headquartered ALAFCO Aviation Lease and Finance Company. With this induction, Air India became the first CFM powered NEO operator in India.

    While inducting the plane into the fleet of Air India, the CMD Ashwani Lohani said a total of 14 A320 neos would be inducted into the fleet in 2017. The CMD also said that the airline is also looking at using these planes for international operations. 

  • 1984 Riots: Centre files status report on SIT investigation in Supreme Court
    The Centre has filed in the Supreme Court a status report on the investigation conducted by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases. The report was filed before a bench, headed by Justice Dipak Misra, which took it on record.

    The apex court had, in January, 2017, asked the Centre to file a comprehensive report on the status of the SIT probe on a plea seeking a court-supervised investigation. The court had also asked the Centre to apprise it about the steps taken in the matter within four weeks after the government had said that the SIT's work is in progress. 

  • Shurhozelie Liezietsu stakes claim to form Nagaland govt
    Nagaland Chief Minister designate Shurhozelie Liezietsu on 20th February called on the State Governor P B Acharya, and formally staked his claim for formation of new Government. The Eighty-one year old regional political leader of DAN legislature Party would be sworn in as the 17th Chief Minister of Nagaland.

    The Governor appointed the leader of Democratic Alliance of Nagaland as the Chief Minister and invited him to form the Ministry for which the swearing in ceremony will be taken on 22nd February at Raj Bhavan Kohima. 

  • Supreme Court questions source of money in Teesta Setalvad's frozen account
    The Supreme Court on 21st February questioned the source of money in the bank accounts of social activist Teesta Setalvad and others which were frozen by Ahmadabad police in 2015 after allegations of misappropriation.

    A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked the counsel for Setalvad that from where did the money in these bank accounts have come. The counsel said, there are multiple donors who have donated the money for various purposes. On November 9 last year, the apex court had fixed the pleas of Setalvad, her husband and her two controversial NGOs challenging the freezing of their accounts for final hearing. 

  • Govt clears coastal surveillance projectThe Defence Ministry on 21st February cleared a project to set up 38 radar stations to strengthen coastal surveillance. The Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, gave in-principle approval for the 800 crore rupee project in New Delhi.

    Four mobile surveillance stations will also be set up and they will be integrated with the Vessel Traffic Management System in Gulf of Kutch and Khambatt.

    Forty six radar stations have already been set up under the first-phase of the 'static sensor chain' project for seamless electronic surveillance along the coastline. The DAC also cleared a proposal to set up an integrated engine repair facility for Naval Mig-29K fighter jets at naval aircraft yard in Goa. 

  • Maneka Gandhi announces compensation fund for children
    Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has announced the setting up of a compensation fund under Nirbhaya scheme to provide financial help to children who are victims of sexual crimes.

    The money for this fund will be drawn from Nirbhaya Scheme and will be monitored directly by the Women and Child Development Ministry. The decision comes in response to a letter to the minister drawing her attention to the plight of a three-year-old from Ahmednagar who was raped in December last year. 

  • Microsoft CEO pitches for poor, unveils tech for semi-skilled
    With an aim to connect semi-skilled workers with employers, global technology giant Microsoft has announced its new platform called Sangam. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, it is important to expand the purview of digital technology from large businesses and start-ups to semi-skilled workers.

    He added that 'Sangam' platform; based on world's largest professional networking site LinkedIn will also help people to skill themselves for the jobs which are getting created. Mr. Nadella launched the 'lite' version of Microsoft’s video interaction platform Skype and LinkedIn; which will work even at 2G speeds.

    Enthused by the improvement made in Maharashtra’s first digital village of Harisal in the malnutrition-prone Melghat region, Microsoft CEO announced that the company plans to scale up the digital village concept to 100 villages. 

  • Over 5 crore Indians suffer from depression in 2015: WHO
    A World Health Organisation (WHO) study said, that over five crore Indians have suffered from depression in year 2015. The WHO in its new global health estimates on depression for 2015 said, while over five crore Indians suffered from depression, over three crore others suffered from anxiety disorders.

    The report said, over two-thirds of global suicides were in low and middle-income countries like India in 2015. The WHO document said, that 322 million people are living with depression worldwide and nearly half of them live in South East Asian and Western Pacific region. The total estimated number of people living with depression increased by 18.4 per cent between 2005 and 2015. 

  • 112 ft-tall bust of Adiyogi unveiled
    Prime Minister unveiled 112 ft-tall bust of Adiyogi consecrated by Isha Yoga Centre founder Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in the foothills of the Velliangiri mountains in Coimbatore district on 24th February. 

  • Delhi airport 12th busiest in the worldDelhi International Airport was the 12th busiest airport worldwide for the month of November 2016, according to a latest report published by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). 

    This is the first time an Indian airport has entered the big league of top 15 airports in the world, which comprises of major airports like Atlanta, Dubai, Los Angeles and Changi airports. In November, Delhi airport also recorded the highest growth rate of 19.1 per cent in the world. 

  • Maoist-hit areas saw 21% rise in IED blasts in 2016Although the government has cited surrenders by Maoist cadres to claim huge successes in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), such areas saw a 21 per cent increase in bomb blast incidents in 2016 as compared to 2015, according to data collated by the National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) of the National Security Guard. 

    Casualties in such incidents went up by almost 60 per cent, the NBDC said in its annual report. In fact, 65 per cent of all IED blast casualties occurred in LWE-affected areas, according to the report. The NBDC said the situation in such areas has remained as bad as ever as far as targeting of security forces and civilians through IED blasts are concerned. 

  • AG advises TN Governor to convene Assembly within a week for floor testThe Attorney General has advised the Tamil Nadu Governor to convene the Assembly within a week for a floor test to decide whether caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam or AIADMK ad hoc General Secretary V K Sasikala has majority. 

    This follows Governor Vidyasagar Rao writing to Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi seeking legal opinion on the current stalemate over government formation in the State. In his opinion, Rohatgi has stated that the Governor should call a special session and have a composite floor test. He has cited the 1998 Supreme Court judgement in the Jagdambika Pal case. 

  • Pink polling booths to encourage women to exercise their votesThe 5-state elections have seen new measures being rolled out including the pink polling booths. Pink polling booths were strategically put up in localities to draw in women and boost their participation in the voting process. 

    The Goa Election Office had erected at least one pink polling booth for each of Goa 40 assembly seats. They had pink festoons, pink balloons, rangoli and other decorations giving them a festive look. Also first young women voters who exercised their democratic right for the first time ever were also gifted pink teddy bears. These booths were also operated exclusively by women. 

  • Calcutta HC judge Karnan fails to appear in courtCalcutta High Court judge C S Karnan failed to appear in the Supreme Court on 13th February in connection with suo motu contempt proceedings. The court deferred the proceedings in the case by three weeks as neither Karnan nor his lawyer appeared before it. 

    The apex court, however, took on record a letter written by Justice Karnan to Registrar General of apex court in which he alleged victimisation for being a Dalit. 

  • Supreme Court sentences Sasikala to 4 years in jail in DA caseThe Supreme Court on 14th February convicted AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala in a 19-year old disproportionate assets case that also involved late former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha. In the court's verdict in the case, Ms Sasikala and her two relatives were found guilty under Prevention of Corruption Act. 

    A bench of justices PC Ghose and AK Roy directed them to surrender forthwith to the trial court in Bengaluru and serve the remaining part of the four year jail term. The AIADMK General Secretary cannot also contest elections for the next 10 years. The bench, however, abated the appeal proceedings against J. Jayalalitha owing to her death. 

    The apex court set aside Karnataka High Court's order which had, in May 2015, overturned a trial court's verdict exonerating Ms Jayalalithaa and Ms Sasikala. Karnataka government had challenged the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court. 

  • Palaniswami stakes claim to form TN govtIn Tamil Nadu, newly elected AIADMK Legislature Party Leader Edappadi K Palaniswami met Governor Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan in Chennai and staked claim to form the government. In a brief meeting with the Governor, Mr. Palaniswami presented a list of MLAs supporting his claim. Sources said, some senior leaders and ministers also accompanied him. 

    Mr. Palaniswami was elected AIADMK Legislature Party leader replacing V K Sasikala shortly after the Supreme Court convicted her in the disproportionate assets case. 

  • Stents prices heavily slashed in major relief to cardiac patientsIn a major relief to lakhs of cardiac patients, the government on 14th February cut prices of life-saving coronary stents. According to the Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Ananth Kumar, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) capped ceiling price for Drug Eluting Stents (DES) at Rs. 29,600 rupees and for Bare Metal Stents (BMS) at Rs. 7,260 rupees. 

    These prices are exclusive of VAT and other local taxes. Before this the average MRP in the market for BMS was 45 thousand rupees and for DES one lakh 21 thousand rupees. 

  • Sasikala surrenders in Bengaluru jailFollowing confirmation of four years jail term in the disproportionate assets case, AIADMK leader VK Sasikala and two of her close relatives surrendered before Bengaluru court and were lodged into prison on 15th February. 

  • Tamil Nadu: Palaniswami stakes claim to form govtIn Tamil Nadu, newly elected AIADMK Legislature Party Leader Edappadi K Palaniswami on 15th February met Governor Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan in Chennai and staked claim to form the government. In a brief meeting with the Governor, Palaniswami presented a list of MLAs supporting his claim. 

    Palaniswami was elected AIADMK Legislature Party leader earlier replacing V K Sasikala shortly after the Supreme Court convicted her in the disproportionate assets case. 

  • Centre to convert 1.5 lakh health sub centres into Wellness CentresThe Centre has decided to convert 1.5 lakh health sub centres into Wellness Centres. According to Health Minister J P Nadda, screening of diseases like diabetes and breast, oral and cervix cancer will be done in the centres. He said, the centres will be transformed into wellness centres in a phased manner. 

    He said the outlay of health budget has been hiked by 27.7 per cent to over 47 thousand crore rupees. The Health Minister said, the budget is focused on various health progammes of the Ministry including prevention of non-communicable diseases.

  • Bajaj panel puts the onus on tribunalThe task of allocating river water is that of the river water tribunal and not that of this committee, said A.K. Bajaj, chairman of the Central Expert Committee, constituted to prepare an operation manual for the supply of allocated water to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The expert committee, which toured Telangana and A.P. in the last three days, left for New Delhi. 

    The Committee met the irrigation officials of Telangana separately and those of AP in Vijayawada also. The panel was deputed by the Union Ministry of Water Resources to suggest a mechanism for making the Krishna River Management Board discharge its duties in line with the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act. 

  • Supreme Court ordered to remove online advertisements on sex determinationThe Supreme Court on 16th February directed search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to set up in-house expert bodies forthwith to ensure deletion of materials which went against Indian laws prohibiting pre-natal sex determination. 

    The apex court, however, assured the Indian units of the multinational cyber giants that it would not initiate any contempt proceedings against them as the idea was to make them responsive to the local laws and concerns. 

  • Supreme Court refers triple talaq issue to constitution bench of 5 judgesA five-judge constitution bench would be set up by the Supreme Court to hear and decide on a batch of petitions relating to the practice of triple talaq, 'nikah halala' and polygamy among Muslims. The court has asked all respective parties to give their written submissions to the Attorney General by March 30. 

    A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar took on record three sets of issues framed by parties with regard to the cases and said the questions for consideration of the constitution bench would be decided on March 30. The bench also made it clear that it is willing to sit on Saturdays and Sundays to decide on the issue as it was very important. 

  • Palaniswami is sworn in as Tamil Nadu Chief MinisterEdappadi K Palaniswami, Leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, was sworn in Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on 16th February. In place of the 32-member Cabinet under OPS, as Panneerselvam is known, a 31-member team has been sworn in with Palaniswami retaining his portfolio of minor ports and taking on finance and home, which were previously with OPS. 

    Palaniswami claims the support of 124 members of the 134 AIADMK members in the Legislature but will have to prove his majority in the Assembly on 18th February. 

  • Cabinet approved to establish Food Legumes Research Platform The Union Cabinet has approved establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP) at Amlaha in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh with Satellite Hubs in West Bengal and Rajasthan. This approval confers FLRP an international status as contemplated in Clause 3 of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947. 

    The FLRP will be established by International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) for meeting the emerging food security challenges. Under it, ICARDA will carry out research through a multi-disciplinary team of scientists for enhancing productivity of crops range-land and livestock. 

  • EC issues notice to V K SasikalaElection Commission on 17th February issued notice to V K Sasikala over her appointment as interim General Secretary of AIADMK. The O Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK had challenged her appointment in front of the poll body. The Commission has asked Sasikala to explain her position by 28th of this month. 

  • Aadhaar authentication now mandatory for college and university students The Ministry of HRD has said to avail benefit under the Central Sector Scholarship Scheme for College and University students, applicants will now have to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar card or undergo Aadhaar authentication. 

    HRD ministry notification issued in New Delhi said those who are receiving these scholarships but don't have an Aadhar card will have to apply for enrolment by June 30th. It is, however, not applicable in Jammu and Kashmir. 

  • Palaniswami wins trust vote in TN Assembly by 122-11 marginTamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy has won the trust vote, after 122 MLAs voted in his favour after hours of uproar in the State Assembly. The vote was concluded following Speaker P Dhanapal turned down the opposition DMK's request for a secret ballot in the floor test. 

  • South Asian speaker’s summit inauguratedThe two-day South Asian Speakers Summit was inaugurated by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan at Indore in Madhya Pradesh on 18th February. President of Inter-Parliamentary Union Saber Chowdhury, Speakers of National Assemblies of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lankan, and Nepal are participating in the summit. 

    On this occasion Lok Sabha Speaker stressed on the need of cooperation between the South Asian Countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

  • India's vaccine regulatory body NRAI gets highest WHO ratingsThe National Regulatory Authority of India (NRAI) has been given the maximum ratings by global health body World Health Organisation for vaccine regulations. WHO completed the assessment of the status of the Indian vaccine regulatory system against WHO NRA Global Benchmarking Tool (GBT) and measured the maturity of the system in India. 

    A WHO led team of international experts from several countries came to this conclusion at the end of comprehensive review from 13-17 February 2017. 

  • Panneerselvam tenders resignationTamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on 5th February tendered his resignation from the post citing 'personal reasons' and setting the stage for takeover of V K Sasikala, who was elected as Legislature Party leader in the day. 

    Mr. Panneerselvam was appointed as Chief Minister on December 5 within hours of the death of his predecessor J. Jayalalitha. Incidentally, he had proposed the name of Sasikala for the top post at the AIADMK MLAs meeting held in the party headquarters in Chennai on 5th February. 

  • Muslim organisations too oppose triple talaq as is practiced now: Law panelA majority of those who had responded to its questionnaire on a uniform civil code, including many Muslims organisations, have opposed spontaneous triple talaq, Law Commission Chairperson Justice B S Chauhan has said. The commission is currently examining the more than 40,000 responses it has received to the questionnaire issued in October 2016. 

    The All India Muslim Personal Law Board carried out its own mass signature drive and sent it to the Law Commission, opposing any inference in the Shariat even if it is to outlaw the practice of instantaneous triple talaq which is not as prescribed in the Muslim personal law. 

  • HRD ministry to set up NTA to conduct exams for higher, secondary educationUnion Human Resource Development Ministry will set up a department - National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct examinations for higher and secondary education. The decision has been taken keeping in view that the Central Board of Secondary Education has been conducting examinations in which around one million students appear every month which is a very large number. 

    Mr. Javadekar said initially examinations like IIT, NIT and even university exams will be conducted by the NTA. Later on the secondary school exams will also be handed over to NTA. Initially, the CBSE staff will be deployed in this department and but later on the specialised people will be hired in the NTA. 

  • Supreme Court asks Centre to put in place mechanism to verify mobile usersThe Supreme Court on 6th February asked the Centre to put in place within a year an effective mechanism to verify identities of existing mobile users. A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana said the verification of existing pre-paid mobile users, running into cores, should be done within one year. 

    The Apex court’s suggestion came after a PIL petitioner, Lokniti Foundation, pointed out that almost five crore pre-paid subscribers were using their mobile phones without proper verification. 

  • First Smart Police Station inaugurated in Andhra PradeshChief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated the first model police station at Nagarampalem in the capital region Amaravati. He also inaugurated the second model police station in old Guntur town. 

    According to the Chief Minister for the first time in the country, Andhra Pradesh has brought forth the smart policing system. He emphasized on invisible policing rather than visible policing in the coming days by using technology and surveillance systems to the maximum in the State. 

    The State Police administration has drawn up plans to build another 100 such Stations across the state and to phase out congested police stations. The model Police Station doesn’t look like a typical Police Station with plush exterior and interiors that leave one with a feeling of having walked into a corporate- style office. 

  • Earthquake of 5.8 magnitude hits north IndiaA low intensity earthquake occurred in North India on 6th February night with its epicentre in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand. Tremors were felt in Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Western Uttar Pradesh as well. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asked for detailed report on earthquake. National disaster response force has been put on high alert. 

  • Contempt charge on sitting High Court judgeChief Justice of India JS Khehar decided on 7th February to initiate contempt of court proceedings against sitting Calcutta high court judge C S Karnan for continuously leveling allegations against the Madras HC chief justice and other judges. 

    The Supreme Court has listed the contempt proceedings for 8th February and the case will be heard by a bench headed by the CJI and comprising six other senior judges -Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph. 

    This is the first time that a constitutional court has initiated contempt of court proceedings against a judge of the SC or HC. There have been times when the CJI, after receiving inquiry reports against a sitting judge, has recommended to Parliament to initiate proceedings for the removal of the erring judge. 

  • Cabinet clears 'PM Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan' for digital educationUnion Cabinet on 8th February approved Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan, PMGDISHA which will cover six crore rural households to make them digitally literate. 

    Over 2315 crore rupees have been approved for the scheme which is aimed at speeding digital literacy in rural areas by March 2019. It is expected to be the world's largest digital literacy programme. It would empower citizens by providing them access to information, knowledge and skill. 

  • Panneerselvam, Sasikala stake claim to form govt in Tamil NaduIn Tamil Nadu, AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala on 9th February staked claim to form the government. Sasikala called on the Governor and gave him a letter presumably containing the names of MLAs who elected her as AIADMK Legislature Party Leader, and requested him to invite her to form the government. 

    However, the Governor's response is not immediately known. Meanwhile, the acting Chief Minister Panneerselvam is now meeting his supporters at his Greenways Road official residence. Sasikala was elected Legislature Party Leader on Februar 5th, paving the way for her becoming the chief minister. Subsequently, Panneerselvam raised a banner of revolt on February 7, along with his supporters. 

  • World’s tallest sand castle created by Sudarsan PattnaikFamous sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik on 10th February created a Guinness World Record by building the World’s tallest sand castle which is 48 feet and 8 inch (14.84 metre) at the Puri beach in Odisha. Sudarsan has broken the record of 45 feet and 10 inch sand castle which was created in USA, a Guinness World Records official said. 

  • Veerappan, Chasing the Brigand book releasedThe Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 8 February 2017 released the book titled - Veerappan, Chasing the Brigand. The book was written by K Vijay Kumar, Senior Security Adviser in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. 

    The book is considered as an authoritative narrative as the author K Vijay Kumar spearheaded the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF) that planned and executed the Veerappan’s encounter in 2004. 

  • Government to set up Defence Procurement OrganisationThe Union Government is planning to set up a Defence Procurement Organisation (DPO), new procurement body to integrate and streamline the long and arduous process of defence acquisitions. The DPO will be a vertical under the Union Defence Ministry. It will simplify the defence purchase procedure by integrating procurement processes. 

    The new agency will be established based on the recommendation of government appointed committee on the modalities of setting up the DPO. The committee was headed by Dr. Pritam Singh, former Director of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow and has submitted a report to Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. 

    The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by the Prime Minister has increased the financial powers of the Defence Minister to clear defence deals upto Rs.2,000 crore from earlier Rs.500 crore limit to shorten the procurement cycle. 

  • World’s oldest steam locomotive restoredAround five years after it was looted, vandalized and rendered useless in Delhi, Fairy Queen, the 166-year-old, world’s oldest functioning steam locomotive, came back to life on 11th February, resuming its run between the Delhi Cantonment station and Rewari in Haryana, some 123 km away. After vandalism Railways subsequently hauled the Fairy Queen to its workshop in Perambur loco workshop near Chennai in 2011, from where the train has rolled out now. 

    The long restoration process involved replacing 32 valuable parts, stolen in 2011 from its shed in Delhi Cantonment station. The parts stolen included the original steam whistle, shiny brass coat of its dome, parts of its “crown”, and the gleaming ladder next to the boiler. The boiler itself was found riddled with holes. 

  • Over 99% of adult population above age of 18 assigned Aadhaar numbers UIDAI announced that 111 cr people in a population of 125 cr now have digital identification in form of Aadhaar. And govt is increasingly integrating this identification with services. 

    Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), the common platform for making quick payments using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), has also been integrated with Aadhaar Enabled Payment System. 

    Government will soon roll out Aadhaar Pay service that will enable people to make and receive payments using their Aadhaar number and biometrics. As of now, 14 banks have come on board for Aadhaar Pay and the service will be launched soon. 

  • Government to carry out comprehensive census of Gangetic dolphinFor the first time, the government will carry out a comprehensive census of endangered Gangetic dolphins, ghariyals and turtles across the entire Ganges river system to get their official count. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) will carry out the exercise through Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution under Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, by February-end or early March. 

    This is for the first time, a proper comprehensive and scientific study of Gangetic dolphins will be carried out across its entire Ganges river system to establish an official count. It will also be for the first time that the abundance and species composition of ghariyals and turtles will be figured out during the survey to be carried out under Aqua Life programme. 

  • Supreme Court appoints four-member panel led by former CAG to run BCCIThe Supreme Court has appointed a four-member committee of administrators led by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, CAG Vinod Rai to run the affairs of the Board Of Control For Cricket In India, BCCI. 

    Mr. Rai will head the committee comprising former women cricket captain Diana Edulji, historian Ramachandra Guha and IDFC CEO Vikram Lamaye. Amitabh Chaudhary of BCCI and Vikram Limaye will represent the Indian cricket board at the International Cricket Council, ICC meeting in first week of February. 

  • Sitarama Lift Irrigation scheme will be put on fast track: KCRAccording to Telangana Chief Minister KCR, the Sitarama Lift Irrigation Project based on the Godavari river will be completed in a fast-track mode within one and a half years by drawing inspiration from the speedy commissioning of the Bhakta Ramadasu Lift Irrigation Scheme (BRDLIS) in a record span of around 10 months. 

    A memorial will be constructed in Nelakondapalli, the birth place of Bhakta Ramadasu, to preserve the rich musical legacy of the legendary saint composer widely acclaimed for his soul-stirring keertanas in praise of Lord Rama. 

    CM inaugurated the BRDLIS by switching on the motor at the pump house of the LI scheme at Erragadda Tanda in Kusumanchi mandal coinciding with the birth anniversary of Bhakta Ramadasu. 

  • Political parties must file ITR by Dec or lose exemption: GovtRevenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia has said govt is amending law to make it mandatory for political parties to file returns on income by December every year or risk losing tax exemption status. It is also changing the law to keep the identity of the donor confidential who buys the just-introduced electoral bonds from banks to make such donations. 

  • Court discharges Maran brothers in Aircel-Maxis caseA special CBI court discharged on 2nd February all accused in the Aircel-Maxis case, including former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his industrialist brother, Kalanithi. 

    The court observed that "no prima facie case warranting framing of charge against any of the accused is made out" because the charges against them are based on "misreading of official files" and speculation and surmises of the complainant. 

  • Supreme Court asks govt to prepare plan for eradication of leprosyThe Supreme Court has asked the government to prepare a comprehensive policy for implementation of a plan within four weeks to eradicate leprosy from the country. 

    A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, on 2nd February asked the Centre to submit the plan as how it intends to fill the large-scale vacancy at the ground level. The bench told the Centre that people are required to successfully implement the government policies at the ground level. 

  • Bhojpuri film festival inaugurated in New Delhi : Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore on 3rd February inaugurated the Bhojpuri Film Festival in Siri Fort Auditorium Complex in New Delhi. The festival is being attended by several leading film personalities from the region. Leading Bhojpuri cinema actor, singer and Delhi BJP Chief Manoj Tiwari was also present on the occasion.  Bhojpuri Film Festival provides an opportunity for Delhiites to get taste of Bhojpuri culture in the form of cuisine and cinema. The Festival will run from 3rd to 5th February, 2017. The festival runs till February 5 during which National Award winning film 'Kab Hoi Gavana Hamaar', 'Deswa', and 'He' will be screened. 

  • Centre sets up committee to suggest measures for improving Haj policyThe Centre has formed a six-member committee to give a report on ways to improve India's Haj policy and also look into issue of subsidy to the pilgrimage. The panel has been constituted in the light of 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing the subsidy and abolishing it by 2022. 

    According to the Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi the committee will submit its report in a month or two on how India's Haj policy can be improved and how the pilgrims can get maximum concessions. 

  • Telangana Cabinet nod to life imprisonment for acid attacksThe Telangana Council of Ministers on 4th February gave their approval to amend a Central legislation Poisons Act, 1919 with a view to enhancing the punishment for acid attacks to life imprisonment. 

    The Cabinet approved adding three Sections to Section 6 of the Act, namely Section 6 (A) which stipulates that a police inspector or Munsif Magistrate will be authorised to investigate the cases; Section 6 (B) which enhanced punishment to a minimum of 10 years and maximum of life imprisonment and Section 6 (C) making the cases cognisable and non-bailable. 

    The punishment hitherto under Section 6 was three months and a fine of Rs. 500 for the first offence and six months and Rs. 1,000 for the second and subsequent offence.

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