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NEWS AT NINE

2100 HRS.

20th September, 2017

THE HEADLINES :-

  • Government to take additional measures to improve growth, if needed in view of present economic situation; Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says fuel price hike is temporary and will be normalized soon.
  • Union Cabinet approves additional investment of 12 thousand crore rupees towards supplementary nutrition for children; decides to merge 17 government presses into five; also approves revamping of "Khelo India" programme.
  • Security forces arrest Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist wanted in several cases from Anantnag district; one army jawan martyred in firing by Pakistani troops along LoC in Kupwara district.
  • Madras High Court orders stay on trust vote in Tamil Nadu Assembly until further orders in view of fluid political situation.
  • Frantic rescue operations in full swing in Mexico after a powerful earthquake leaves more than 200 dead.
  • PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, K. Srikanth, H S Prannoy and  Sameer Verma  enter 2nd round of Japan Open Superseries Badminton in Tokyo.  

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The Finance Minister has said, the government will take additional measures, if needed, in view of the present economic  situation to improve the growth. Replying to a media query after Union Cabinet meeting, Arun Jaitley said, he had held a series of meetings with concerned Ministers and Secretaries in the last two days and discussed the factors relating to the economy.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has termed the hike in the prices of petrol and diesel as temporary phenomena, saying it will soon be normalized. Replying to a media query over the issue, Mr. Jaitley said, the recent spike is due to shrinking of refining capacity which has been affected due to Hurricane in the US. He  also targeted Opposition parties for questioning the Centre over the issue, saying why they are not reducing taxes on petroleum products if they are so serious.

The Finance Minister, gave no indication of any cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel to cushion the spike in rates. He said the government needs revenue to support public spending. Mr. Jaitley said, the government has increased public spending on infrastructure and whatever GDP growth is there, it is fueled by public spending and FDI. 

Union Cabinet has approved increase of cost norms for supplementary nutrition provided in Anganwadis and for out of school adolescent girls under Integrated Child Development Services. It will involve an additional investment of 12 thousand crore rupees over the next three years. Briefing reporters after the meeting in New Delhi today, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, the revised cost norms for children upto six years will be eight rupees, for adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers,  it will be 9.5 rupees and for severely malnourished category 12 rupees will be given.

The Cabinet has approved productivity link bonus of 78 days wages for Railway employees. About 12.3 lakh non-gazetted employees are likely to benefit from the decision. This does not include Railway Protection Force and Railway Protection Special Force  personnel. The payment will be made before the Dussehra puja holidays.

The government also decided to merge existing 17 government presses into five to rationalize and modernize them. Mr Jaitley said, the surplus employees will be re-deployed in the new presses. He said, 468 acres of land of merged presses will come to central land pool after merger.

The Cabinet has also approved the revamped "Khelo India" programme at a cost of 1,756 crore rupees for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20. The programme aims at mainstreaming sports. Speaking on the revamped programme, Sports Minister Col Rajyavardhan Rathore said,  it will impact the entire sports eco-system, including infrastructure, community sports, talent identification, coaching for excellence, competition structure and sports economy.

The Cabinet was apprised of progress under the  National Health Mission and decisions of Empowered Programme Committee and Mission Steering Group of National Health Mission. Speaking on it, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said, rate of decline of under-5 Mortality rate during National Health Mission period has nearly doubled. He said, Millennium Development Goal-6 of halting and reversing incidence of Malaria, HIV-AIDS and TB has been achieved. He said, National Health Mission has been a successful scheme.

The Cabinet today also approved extension of time period of the scheme Special Industry Initiative for Jammu and Kashmir, UDAAN till 31st of December next year. Initially, the time period of Udaan was upto 2016-17. Udaan is a national integration scheme with the goal to mainstream youth of Jammu and Kashmir with a rest of the country.

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In Jammu & Kashmir, an army Jawan was killed and at least two others injured in firing by Pakistani troops along the LoC in Kupwara district this morning. A senior police officer told AIR Srinagar that Pakistan Rangers violating ceasefire agreement opened fire at army’s forward post in Keran sector in the district.  Meanwhile, security forces have arrested Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, Aadil Ahmad from Bijbehara area of Anantnag. He was wanted in several cases of attacks on security forces and panchayat officials.

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The Madras High Court has ordered a stay on holding any trust vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly until further orders. It has also barred the Election Commission of India from initiating the process of holding by-elections to the 18 seats that were notified by the Speaker as vacant. The notification was made following the disqualification of the MLAs loyal to the AIADMK’s sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran on Monday.

The disqualified MLAs filed petitions before the High Court yesterday, seeking to declare the Speaker’s order null and void. The petitions were clubbed with DMK leader MK Stalin’s writ petition seeking to convene the state Assembly at the earliest to test the majority of the AIADMK Government. They were heard by Justice M Duraiswamy today.

"All political activities based on the disqualification of the 18 AIADMK dissident legislators have effectively been put on hold by today’s direction of the Madras High Court. It includes holding any trust vote on the floor of the state Assembly. The trust vote has been the main demand of the Opposition prior to the disqualification of the MLAs. Now, they prefer a trust vote only after the disposal of the present case. However, the court avoiding any specific direction today against the disqualification is viewed by political analysts as a setback for the Dhinakaran side for the time being. Jaya singh, AIR News, Chennai

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President Ram Nath Kovind has said that education is crucial to harness the energy of young people and make the country a developed society. Addressing the inaugural function of the golden jubilee celebrations of Jesus and Mary College in New Delhi today, Mr Kovind said, the goal of education is not just to acquire knowledge, but to enhance the welfare of the less-privileged among people. The President said, truly educated are not ones who collect degrees, but those who use the degrees and underlying scholarship to become nation-builders. He stressed the need to upgrade the higher educational system and to the extent possible, make it future-proof. Mr Kovind said, Indian education infrastructure, curricula and modes of teaching have to become 21st century compatible and dynamic enough to constantly embrace change.

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In Mexico City, thousands of soldiers, rescuers and civilians -- including college students -- are working side by side to dig through tall piles of rubble from dozens of crumbled buildings due to strong earthquake. Hundreds of volunteers have joined emergency services and rescue operations in the search for survivors. A huge earthquake has killed more than 200 people in central Mexico.

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Hurricane Maria, the devastating storm pushing north-west through the Caribbean, has landed in Puerto Rico today.  The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said, it arrived in Yabucoa in the east of the US territory, producing winds of 250 kilometre per hour. The hurricane is now around 32 kilometre west of San Juan, Puerto Rico's capital. The governor of Puerto Rico has told the island's 3.5 million people to seek shelter. There are also concerns that heavy rain could cause landslides in some places.

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Back Home, Mumbai city and its suburbs have been witnessing intermittent rainfall since morning. Our correspondent reports flight operations at the Mumbai airport that the remain affected for the second day today.

"The Mumbai Police had issued high tide warning and fishermen have been warned against venturing into the deep sea. Flight operations at the Mumbai airport remained affected for the second day today. Due to the downpour, five long distance trains of the Western Railways have been cancelled. Two other trains of the Western Railways have been diverted via Manmad-Daund route. While the vehicular movement on both the Eastern and Western Express Highways is normal, traffic snarls are witnessed on few roads of the city in low lying areas due water-logging. The bus services of the BEST are running smoothly. The ‘dabbawalas’ of Mumbai today cancelled their delivery of over two lakh tiffins to office-goers in the city.  With Prarthna, this is Pooja  Bhatt Pal, AIR News, Mumbai."

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In Sports, Indian singles shuttler Parupalli Kashyap failed to qualify for the Japan Open Badminton Superseries in Tokyo. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy advanced to the main draws in both the men's and mixed double categories, partnering Chirag Shetty and Ashwini Ponappa today.Kashyap first got past Denmark's Emil Holst but lost to Japanese Yu Igarashi in the second qualifying match.Olympic medallists P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will begin their campaigns today. Sindhu will face Japanese Minatsu Mitani while Saina will clash with Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong.

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The Indian Cricket Board has nominated Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the country's third highest civilian award -- the Padma Bhushan -- for his contribution to the game.  Dhoni is already a recipient of the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Padma Shri award.

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