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US approves sale of two missile defence systems for Air India One

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Washington | The US has agreed to sell two state-of-the-art missile defence systems to Air India One for an estimated cost of USD 190 million, a move that will enhance the security of planes flying the prime minister and the president.

According to the Pentagon, the sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship.

The Trump administrations approved purchase of the two systems known as Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCAM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS) for an estimated cost of USD 190 million, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a notification to the Congress on Wednesday.

The US decision came after the Indian Government recently made request for LAIRCAM SPS, given the high-level threat to the prime minister and the president.

The defence systems, which would bring security of Air India One at par with that of Air Force One, would be installed in two Boeing 777 Head-of- State aircraft, the Pentagon said.

The Indian Government plans to buy two Bowing 777 from the national carrier Air India for this specific purpose and unlike in the past would not be used for commercial purposes.

The purpose of the LAIRCM programme is to protect large aircraft from man-portable missiles. Once installed, the LAIRCAM system increases crew-warning time, decreases false alarm rates and automatically counters advanced intermediate range missile systems, according to the Federation of American Scientists. The missile warning subsystem will use multiple sensors to provide full spatial coverage.

The counter-measures subsystem will use lasers mounted in pointer-tracker turret assemblies. It also automatically counters advanced intermediate range missile systems with no action required by the crew.  The pilot will simply be informed that a threat missile was detected and jammed.

Observing that it will improve India’s capability to deter regional threats, the Congressional notification said SPS will facilitate a more robust capability into areas of increased missile threats.  “India will have no problem absorbing and using this system, it said.

According to the notification, India had requested to buy two SPS consisting of AN/AAQ 24(V)N Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM), ALQ-211(V)8 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) and AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (CMDS) to protect two (2) Boeing-777 Head-of-State aircraft.

“This potential sale would include twelve Guardian Laser Transmitter Assemblies AN/AAQ-24 (V)N (6 installed and 6 spares), eight (8) LAIRCM System Processor Replacements (LSPR) AN/AAQ-24 (V)N (2 installed and 6 spares); twenty-three (23) Missile Warning Sensors (MWS) for AN/AAQ-24 (V)N (12 installed and 11 spares), five (5) AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (CMDS) (2 installed and 3 spares),” the notification said.

Also included in this sale are Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDEWS), LAIRCM CIURs, SCAs, HCCs, and UDM cards, initial spares, consumables, repair and return support and support equipment.  The department also assured that the sale will not “alter the basic military balance in the region”.

The US is the second-largest arms supplier to India. It has already recognised India as a “major defence partner”, a status that which commits the US to facilitate technology sharing with India.

In 2018, the US granted India Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) status. India is the only South Asian country to get STA1 status and third Asian country after Japan and South Korea. The status eases defence procurement from US. Last year both New Delhi and Washington signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement).

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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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