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India successfully launches latest communication satellite GSAT-31

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Bengaluru | India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-31 was successfully launched by European launch services provider- Arianespace’s rocket from French Guiana in the early hours of Wednesday.

Blasting off from Ariane Launch Complex at Kourou, a French territory located in northeastern coast of South America at at 2.31 am (IST), the Ariane-5 vehicle injected GSAT-31 into the orbit in a flawless flight lasting about 42 minutes.

“It gives me great pleasure on the successful launch of GSAT-31 spacecraft on board Ariane-5,” Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) Director S Pandian said at Kourou soon after the launch.

“Congratulation to Arianespace on the successful launch and precise injection of satellite into the orbit,” he added.

The GSAT-31 is a “high power” communication satellite with Ku-band, and it is going to serve and replace some of the satellites that are going to expire soon, he said further.

Arianespace CEO St phane Isra l tweeted: “2019 is off to a roaring start for #Arianespace! Flight #VA247, carrying Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 and GSAT-31, is a confirmed success that underscores our leadership position in the geostationary launch market. @KACST #HellasSat @ISRO @LockheedMartin.”

The Ariane-5 vehicle (Flight VA247) also carried Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 along with GSAT-31.

GSAT-31 separated from the Ariane-5 in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 250 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 35,850 km, inclined at an angle of 3.0 degree to the equator, ISRO said in a release after the launch.

After separation from Ariane-5, the two solar arrays of GSAT-31 were automatically deployed in quick succession and ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of GSAT-31 and found its health parameters normal, it said.

In the days ahead, scientists will undertake phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres to place the satellite in Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) using its on-board propulsion system.

During the final stages of its orbit raising operations, the antenna reflector of GSAT-31 will be deployed, and following this, the satellite will be put in its final orbital configuration, the space agency said, adding that the satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.

Weighing about 2,536 kg, the Indian satellite, GSAT-31, will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites.

The satellite derives its heritage from ISROs earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series, the space agency said, adding that it will provide communication services to Indian mainland and islands.

GSAT-31 is the country’s 40th communication satellite which is configured on ISRO’s enhanced ‘I-2K Bus’, utilising the maximum “bus capabilities” of this type.

This satellite will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit, ISRO said.

With a mission life of around 15 years, GSAT-31 will be used for supporting VSAT networks, Television uplinks, Digital Satellite News Gathering, DTH-television services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many such applications.

It will also provide wide beam coverage to facilitate communication over the large oceanic region, comprising large parts of Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, using a wideband transponder.

According to ISRO, two Ku-band beacon down link signals are transmitted by the satellite for ground tracking purpose.

“GSAT-31 has a unique configuration of providing flexible frequency segments and flexible coverage,” ISRO chairman K Sivan said.

“GSAT-31 will provide DTH Television Services, connectivity to VSATs for ATM, Stock-exchange, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and e-governance applications. The satellite will also be used for bulk data transfer for a host of emerging telecommunication applications,” he said in a release.

Riding in Ariane-5’s upper position, HS-4/SGS-1 was released first in the flight sequence, with its separation occurring about 27 minutes after liftoff.

Comprising two payloads, Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4, also called HS- 4/SGS-1, is a geostationary condosat for KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology Saudi Arabia) and Hellas Sat (Greece Cyprus).

HS- 4/SGS-1 will provide telecommunication capabilities, including television, Internet, telephone and secure communications in the Middle East, South Africa and Europe, Arianespace said on its website.

GSAT-30 is another geostationary satellite to be lofted soon by Arianespace for ISRO.

“Soon we will be getting back to French Guiana sometime in June, July to launch GSAT-30,” Pandian said.

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PM Modi inaugurates, lays foundation stone of projects worth Rs 33,000 crore in Bihar

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Barauni | Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of projects worth over Rs 33,000 crore in Bihar, including the Patna Metro Rail Project.

He inaugurated the Patna City Gas Distribution project. The prime minister laid the foundation stone of the Barauni Refinery Expansion Project and the ATF Hydrotreating Unit (INDJET) at Barauni Refinery. He also laid the foundation stone of the Patna Metro Rail Project through a remote at a function in Baruani.

The first phase of River Front Development at Patna was inaugurated and the foundation stone for the Karmalichak Sewerage Network, spanning 96.54 km was also laid by Modi.

The prime minister inaugurated the electrification of railway lines on many sectors and flagged off the Ranchi-Patna AC Weekly Express. He also laid the foundation stone of medical colleges at Chhapra and Purnia.

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Punjab extends time period of policy granting reservation in plot allotment to riot victims

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Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh | The Punjab government has decided to extend till December 2021 the time period of a policy under which victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and terror attacks in the state get reservation in allotment of plots or houses by Urban Estates, Improvement Trust and Pepsu Township Development Board.

The time limit of the policy that expired on December 31, 2016, has been extended till the end of December 2021, an official release said here.  he Cabinet, which met here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, considered the demand of the ‘Danga Peerat Committee’ (1984 riot victims’ committee), Barnala and Sangrur, in this regard, “to take the significant decision in the interest of victims of the riots and terrorist violence”.

“Victims of the 1984 riots and terror attacks in Punjab are all set to get a major relief with the Punjab Cabinet deciding to extend to them 5 per cent reservation in allotment of plots/houses by Urban Estates/Improvement Trust/Pepsu Township Development Board, without any financial concession, for five more years (from December 2016),” the release said.

In another decision, the Cabinet gave its nod to “The Punjab Food Grains Transportation Policy 2019-20” for transportation of food grains from ‘mandis’ to its storage points at minimum rates through competitive tenders from various transporters. The decision is aimed at bringing further efficiency and transparency in procurement of food grains operations, the release said.

It said for the upcoming procurement season, commencing from April 1, transportation of food grains beyond eight km would be allowed through a competitive online tender process.

This would be done by district tender committees, of which the respective Deputy Commissioners would be the Chairpersons, with district Food Corporation of India head, district heads of all state procurement agencies and district Controller of Food Supplies as members.

The tenders under this policy would be invited for the financial year 2019-20 and would be valid for the period from April 1, 2019 to December 3, 2009.

Further, to ascertain competitive rates, detailed Schedule of Rate (SOR) guidelines have been incorporated in the policy, listing out rates per metric tonne from more than 8 km up to 52 km. For every additional km beyond 52 km, charge of Rs 3.10 per tonne/kilometer would be applied.

Notably, the state procuring agencies of Punjab including Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC), PUNSUP, along with Food Corporation of India (FCI), procure food grains every year for the Central Pool or for Public Distribution System at the Minimum Support Price fixed by the Government of India.

Among other decisions, the Cabinet decided to provide the facility of air ambulance to serving/retired High Court Judges and their dependents. It has been decided to accordingly amend the particular Rule of Punjab Services (Medical Attendance) Rule, 1940, which covers Punjab government employees.

At a meeting in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 28, 2019, the Chief Justice and other judges had sought amendment to the Punjab Services (Medical Attendance) Rule, 1940, for providing facility of air ambulance in case of emergency to sitting and retired Judges and their dependents.

The Cabinet also approved filling up of 153 vacant sanctioned direct quota posts of 42 professors, 46 associate professors and 65 assistant professors in the Government Medical Colleges at Amritsar and Patiala.

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Curfew continues without relaxation in Jammu, efforts on to restore normalcy

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Jammu | Curfew continued without any relaxation in Jammu for the third consecutive day on Sunday even as the Army staged flag march in sensitive areas, officials said.

Senior civil and police officers held a marathon meeting with prominent citizens as part of efforts to restore normalcy in the city, they said. Internal security columns of the Army, which were deployed in the curfew-bound areas, were seen staging flag marches, while dozens of persons were taken into preventive custody to maintain law and order, they said.

Curfew was imposed in Jammu city on Friday following massive anti-Pakistan protests and sporadic incidents of violence over the terror attack in Pulwama district of south Kashmir which left 40 CRPF personnel dead on Thursday. “Curfew continues to remain in force in the city and there is no untoward incident reported during the night or this morning,” Inspector General of Police, Jammu, M K Sinha, told PTI.

He, however, said minor stone-pelting incidents were reported at a few places on Saturday but overall the situation was under control. “The situation is being monitored and a decision to relax curfew will be taken later in the day after fresh review of the situation,” he said.

Sinha along with Divisonal Commisioner, Jammu, Sanjeev Kumar Verma and district development commissioner, Jammu, Ramesh Kumar held a marathon meeting with prominent citizens of different faiths here late Saturday evening.

The officers appealed to participants to play their role in restoring normalcy in the city and frustrate nefarious designs of elements bent upon dividing people on communal lines. “Anti-national elements have a design to divide people. They want to change the narrative of a terror incident into a communal incident. We need to stand up united and do not fall pray to their propaganda,” the IGP said addressing the meeting. He said there is a need to look deeply into the Thursday’s terror attack on CRPF convoy.

“There is a game plan behind the killing of our jawans and it is to divide the society,” he said, asking participants to guide and counsel youngsters to stay away form the violence and help the administration catch those persons who are trying to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the region.

The officials said 18 Internal Security (IS) columns of Tiger Division along with air support from White Knight Corps continue to remain deployed in curfew-bound areas including Gujjar Nagar, Janipur, Shahidi Chowk, Talab Khatika, Sidhra and other sensitive areas.

While nine columns were deployed on Friday after a requisition by Jammu civil authorities to bring the situation under control, nine more columns were deployed on Saturday. “Helicopters and UAVs of Army also put into operation to monitor the situation. The proactive approach jointly taken by J&K Police, Civil administration (Divisional Commissioner and District Collector’s office) and Indian Army has ensured the situation in control,” a defence spokesman had said.

The officials said dozens of persons were taken into preventive custody as groups of protesters attempted to defy curfew at some pockets including Janipur and New plot in the city on Saturday. “The police acted promptly and the situation was brought under control,” he said.

Reports of peaceful candle light protests were also reported from almost all district headquarters across Jammu region Saturday night to pay homage to martyrs. Authorities have deployed security personnel in strength in sensitive areas across Jammu region to maintain law and order, the officials said.

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