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River Ganga more polluted than before, alleges Congress

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New Delhi | The Congress Party on Friday alleged that the river Ganga is more polluted compared to 2014 as so was stated in an RTI response.

Addressing a press conference, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “PM Modi on 3rd December 2013 said, “…those who cannot care for Ganga, cannot care for the nation.” However, Singhvi added that out of 221 projects of Namami Ganga projects only 1/4th of the projects are completed.

Questioning the Narendra Modi government Singhvi said, “Cleaning River Ganga was one of the major poll promises of PM Modi for 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But going by the government’s own status report, it looks like this was another ‘jumla’, added Singhvi. Stating a 2016-17 CAG report, the Congress leader said, “The level of pollutants in the river across UP, Bihar & Bengal was 6 to 334 times higher than the prescribed levels.”

“₹22,238.73 crore funds were allocated to multiple projects in cleaning River Ganga. But out of 221, only 58 projects are completed,” added the Congress leader.

The Congress party further asked that in 2018, Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari set March 2019 as the new deadline to clean river Ganga & ensure a 70 to 80% improvement in water quality. How can the govt achieve this miracle in the next 6-7 months?

Raising a concern on the situation of river Ganges during 2019 Kumbh Mela, the Congress party said that around 6 times the Prime Minister himself promised to improve the situation of Ganges. CAG, National Green Tribunal, and Supreme Court express anguish over pollution. The Congress Party further challenged the Modi government to counter what Congress President Rahul Gandhi said about Doklam during his address in International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.

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Union government sources allege AAP govt ‘stonewalling’ Phase-IV metro

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New Delhi | The AAP government has “stonewalled” the progress of the Delhi’s Metro’s Phase-IV project, leading to “substantial delay” and inconvenience to people, Union government sources claimed Monday.

The fresh accusation comes amid an apparent tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government after the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation imposed a condition of 50-50 per cent operational loss sharing while giving approval to the Phase-IV of the metro network late last month.

A Delhi government spokesperson countered the allegation, saying, the city government has already cleared the project from its side and “any delay that is now happening is from the Centre’s side”.

Highly-placed sources in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUA) alleged that “delay tactics of the Delhi government has derailed the metro Phase-IV project”.

The Delhi government has “stonewalled” the progress of the Delhi Metro’s Phase-IV project, leading to “substantial delay” and “causing inconvenience to people”, the sources alleged.

However, the city government spokesperson said, “The Phase-IV project was cleared in December and we had made conditions quite clear.”

“We will respond further as and when we receive any communication from the Centre,” the spokesperson said.

The HUA officials recently had said that it was examining the condition that the Centre equally share any operational loss with the AAP government, while asserting that it was a state subject and that other states might raise similar demands.

Sources said the Delhi government in 2016 had not “conveyed financial commitments in their in-principle approval of the Phase-IV”.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on January 24, 2017 had submitted the proposal without commitment of sharing of 50 per cent subordinate debt towards central taxes by the Delhi government as the city government did not approve of it, they said.

This was “contrary to the existing practice being followed for all 50:50 joint venture metro rail projects”, including earlier phases of the Delhi Metro, sources claimed.

The Arvind Kejriwal government had on December 19 approved the much-awaited Phase-IV of the DMRC.

An official of the ministry had said the Delhi government had also put a condition in its approval that it will not have any liability on loan provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to fund the project.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had told reporters after the approval that the city government will give its share of Rs 9,707 crore towards the construction work under the project, which is estimated to cost around Rs 45,000 crore.

Among the projects chosen under the Phase-IV are Rithala-Narela (21.73 km), Janakpuri West-R K Ashram (28.92 km), Mukundpur-Maujpur (12.54 km), Inderlok-Indraprastha (12.58 km), Tughlakabad-Aerocity (20.20 km), and Lajpat Nagar-Saket G-Block (7.96 km).

A Delhi government official had late last month said “in the past one year, the ridership has gone down due to various reasons. So, if Delhi has to pay 100 per cent of the operational loss, it will not be financially viable for it”.

Also, there are certain corridors that may not be profitable in the future or even do not reach the break-even level, the official had said.

HUA sources on Monday said the two conditions imposed by the Delhi government is “contrary to condition of sanction of the Phase-III of the Delhi Metro wherein operational losses are to be borne by the Delhi government”.

As per the terms of sanction of other metro projects, “repayment of external loan and operational losses” are to be borne by the state governments, they said.

The DMRC on January 10 this year had submitted the Phase-IV detailed project report comprising six corridors with revised costs, sources said.

“The HUA Ministry has started the appraisal process,” sources told PTI.

“The proposal is under appraisal by an independent agency in terms of the Metro Rail Policy, 2017. Since, the proposal of the Delhi Metro Phase-IV has again been changed by the Delhi government to six corridors, it again requires fresh inter-ministerial consultation as part of the appraisal process,” a source said.

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Attempt to murder case registered against Congress MLA who ‘attacked’ colleague

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Bengaluru | A case of attempt to murder was registered on Monday against Congress MLA J N Ganesh in connection with the alleged brawl with lawmaker colleague Anand Singh at a resort near here, police said.

The case was registered based on a complaint by Singh, who has been hospitalised for injury suffered in the brawl late Saturday night.

Singh and Ganesh, both from Ballari district, had a heated argument and came to blows at the resort where the Congress MLAs were herded together amid alleged poaching attempt by the BJP.

According to the FIR, besides attempt to murder, Ganesh has been charged with causing grievous injuries and giving threats.

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Punjab Assembly Speaker serves notice to Khaira

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Chandigarh | Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana K P Singh on Monday served a notice to Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira for his disqualification from the state assembly.

Khaira has been given 15 days to file his reply as to why action under the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution should not be initiated against him, a spokesman said.

“The Vidhan Sabha has issued a notice to Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira for disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India,” he said.

The notice was given to Khaira following petitions filed by Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema and Harsimran Singh, a resident of Bholath.

“In their respective petitions, they made references to the Speaker for Khaira’s disqualification,” the spokesman said.

In case Khaira failed to give a reply within 15 days, it will be presumed that he has nothing to say in this regard, the spokesman added.

In his petition to the Speaker, Cheema had said that Khaira had voluntarily given up the membership of the AAP and had floated his own political party ‘Punjabi Ekta Party’.

He had quit the AAP on January 6, six months after he was ousted from the post of Leader of Opposition of the Punjab Assembly.

However, he had not resigned as MLA and had dared the AAP to get him disqualified.

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