NGT bans camping activities within 100 m of Ganga in Uttarakhand

first_imgThe National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday ordered a ban on camping activities within 100 metres of the Ganga. A Bench headed by chairperson Swatanter Kumar said the ban will be imposed from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.There are 33 beaches along the Ganga.Activist Vikrant Tongad had moved the NGT against camping along the river. He had contended that camping and river rafting, when done without any regulations, would disturb the environment.He highlighted that people who had camped along the river disposed of waste in the river and also left behind glass and plastic bottles on the banks.last_img read more

Multiple attacks in Valley, 13 jawans injured

first_imgMilitants struck at around five places in Kashmir valley in four hours, apparently a coordinated strikes, on Tuesday evening, leaving 13 security personnel injured.The first attack was carried out at on 180 Battalion of the CRPF located in Pulwama’s Tral area after the sunset. “The grenade exploded near the camp located at Lariyal. Four jawans were injured,” said a police spokesman. There were also reports of firing in the area.In the second attack, militants lobbed a grenade on 130 Battalion of the CRPF located at Awantipora’s Padgampora area in Pulwama district. There are no reports of any injuries in the attack.Subsequently, militants lobbed grenade at a police station in Pulwama, around 30 km south of Srinagar, and opened fire. Militants also snatched two weapons after attacking the guards of Justice Muzaffar Attar in Achidora, Anantnag. One special police officer was injured in the attack.In north Kashmir, militants hurled a grenade at an army camp which houses 22 Rashtriya Rifles. “There was an exchange of fire too,” said a police official.  The casualties could not be ascertained immediately.  The attacks took place on 17th on Ramzan, which is observed as Yaum-ul-Badr in remembrance of a war won by prophet Muhammad 1400 years ago.”We had inputs regarding escalation in violence on the occasion. That is why the damage is limited as alerts were issued in advance. There is minimum damage,” Director General of Police S.P. Vaid said. A red alert was sounded across the Valley. The last one week has witnessed more than four grenade attacks in Valley, especially south Kashmir.last_img read more

IRCTC hotels case: Tejashwi seeks time to appear before CBI

first_imgFormer Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday sought 15 days from the CBI to appear for questioning in a case related to alleged corruption in giving the contract for running two IRCTC hotels to a private firm in 2006, sources said.Mr. Yadav, who was summoned to appear on Tuesday, sent his counsel who submitted the request seeking time to appear before the investigation team, sources in the agency said. The contracts were given in 2006 when his father Lalu Prasad was the Union railway minister.The case pertains to allegations that Mr. Lalu Prasad, as railway minister, handed over the maintenance of two hotels run by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, in Ranchi and Puri to Sujata Hotel, a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, in return for a prime plot of three acres in Patna through a benami company.The FIR alleged that the RJD leader, as the railway minister, abused his official position for extending undue favours to the Mr. Kochhar and acquired a “high value premium land” through a benami firm Delight Marketing Company. As a quid pro quo, he “dishonestly and fraudulently” managed award of leasing of the two hotels.After the tender was awarded to Sujata Hotel, the ownership of Delight Marketing also changed hands from Sarla Gupta to Rabri Devi and Mr. Yadav between 2010 and 2014. By this time, Mr. Lalu Prasad had resigned as railway minister.The CBI has registered the case against Mr. Lalu Prasad, his wife Ms. Rabri Devi, a former Bihar chief minister, son Mr. Yadav, who was deputy CM until a few months ago, and Sarla Gupta, wife of Prem Chand Gupta, a former union minister.Others named as accused in the FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar, both directors of Sujata Hotels and owner of Chanakya Hotel, Delight Marketing Company, now known as Lara Projects, and then IRCTC managing director P K Goel.last_img read more

HC issues notice over defective VVPAT, EVMs

first_imgActing on a petition filed by the Congress, the Gujarat High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Gujarat over defective EVMs and VVPAT units detected during checks held before the Assembly polls.The Congress had demanded that defective Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail units be sealed and not used during State polls scheduled to be held on December 9 and 14.The party said that around 7% of the 70,182 VVPAT units were found to be defective during first-level checks ahead of polls.A Division Bench of Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice A.J. Kogje issued the notice and asked the ECI and the CEO to submit a response by November 13.last_img read more

NGT seeks response on sand mining in Yamuna

first_imgThe National Green Tribunal has sought response from the Divisional Commissioner, Allahabad, after a committee headed by the officer failed to submit a report on the alleged illegal sand mining in the area.A Bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said, “The committee was to furnish a report which has not been furnished. Issue notice to the Divisional Commissioner, Allahabad, as to why penal action be not taken for non-compliance of orders of this Tribunal.”The officer has been directed to be present before the Tribunal on January 22.In September last year, the green panel had directed constitution of a committee to be headed by the officer and sought a report on the allegations of illegal mining. Petitioner Atul Singh Chauhan had challenged the ongoing sand mining in the Yamuna riverbed in Allahabad without the requisite environmental clearance.last_img read more

Why four-phase polls in Odisha, questions BJD

first_imgOdisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal on Monday questioned the Election Commission of India’s decision to conduct elections in the State in four phases. Previously, the polls were being held in the State in two phases. Addressing a press conference here, party spokesperson Amar Patnaik alleged that the ECI had been influenced by the BJP which is trying to occupy the non-BJP States.While polling will be held in one phase in several other States, including Gujarat, having more number of seats than Odisha, the ECI prepared the poll schedule in multiple phases in the States where the BJP is weak, Mr. Patnaik said. Not only Odisha, but several non-BJP ruled States have been made a victim of the Centre’s conspiracy, he charged.Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik claimed that his party will perform “very well” in the upcoming simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. The list of the party candidates will be finalised soon, he added.Polling for the 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats in the State is scheduled to be held in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.‘Centre’s apathy’ On Monday, the BJD launched a ‘Haq Maguchhi Odisha’ (Odisha seeks its due) campaign alleging Centre’s apathy towards the State.Thousands of activists of the party’s youth and students’ wings took out a rally in Bhubaneswar seeking replies from the Centre to a series of questions.“Even as the mineral and natural resources-rich Odisha is playing a key role in the development of the country, the Centre has been neglecting the State for political reasons. The Centre has been deceiving Odisha people in exchange of high revenue earning from the State,” the party alleged.The protesters targeted the Centre over lack of political will to grant special category status to the State, to solve the Mahanadi water-sharing dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh, non-revision of coal royalty and poor service by banks and the BSNL.last_img read more

Parties gear up for post-poll scenarios

first_imgWith polling for Lok Sabha 2019 ending on Sunday, political parties in Maharashtra have called all their MLAs, sitting MPs and candidates for meetings on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the possible scenarios that may emerge afterresults are announced on May 23. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) core committee will meet on Monday, while all its MLAs, MPs and candidates in Maharashtra will meet in Mumbai the following day. Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said, “This is a regular meeting. We have called the elected representatives on Tuesday. We are confident of a majority; there is no question of us getting panicky.” He reiterated that BJP-Shiv Sena combine will win up to 45 of the 48 seats in Maharashtra. Sena leaders, on the other hand, have been asked to remain in their constituencies. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is currently on a holiday in Europe and is likely to return within a day or two. Congress meetingNationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar will in Delhi from Tuesday and will be joined by senior party leaders like Praful Patel. According to party sources, Mr. Pawar will remain in Delhi till there is some clarity on who will form the next government. Meanwhile, the Congress will hold a meeting of all its MLAs and leaders on Monday, chaired by its Maharashtra in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge. State unit Congress president Ashok Chavan said the party will discuss a new group leader in the Assembly, since Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil has resigned from the post and as Leader of Opposition. The Congress will also discuss reports from its candidates about local leaders who worked against the official party candidate. Five Congress MLAs — Mr. Vikhe-Patil, Jaikumar Gore, Nitesh Rane, Abdul Sattar and Kalidas Kolambkar — are under the scanner for anti-party activities during elections.last_img read more

Filefish uses ‘smell camouflage’ to hide from predators

first_imgThe harlequin filefish is a master of disguise. The reef-dwelling fish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris) sports a brightly colored pattern that allows it to fade into the coral it calls home. Now, scientists have discovered that the filefish doesn’t just look like a branch of coral—it smells like one, too. The researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that the animal picks up the smell of the corals it feeds on, which serves as a handy disguise from the cunning predators that use odor to hunt down their prey. To identify this chemical camouflage, the team placed cod—a common predator of reef fish—in tanks with filefish and a species of coral that either matched their diet or a coral species the fish hadn’t been feeding on. The filefish were hidden inside perforated containers within the aquarium so that the cod could only smell, and not see, their prey. The researchers found that cod were much less likely to hang out around the filefish container when the species of coral present matched the reef fish’s last meals. Exactly how the filefish retains the coral smell is still unknown, but the disguise even fooled coral-feeding crabs. When the researchers gave the crabs a choice between their favorite corals and a filefish that fed on their favorite corals, they often chose the filefish. Many invertebrate species, like caterpillars, are known to incorporate compounds from the plants they eat into the outer layer of their skin to hide from hungry predators. But the filefish is the first vertebrate species found to camouflage its smell, which means that the behavior could be even more widespread across the animal kingdom than previously thought.last_img read more

Green Card: US lawmakers back highly-skilled Indians’ move for elimination of per country limit

first_imgAt least six influential US lawmakers have supported the move of a group of highly-skilled Indians to remove the per country limit on the allotment of green cards, arguing that the current system was unjust to America, where 1.5 million such people were stuck in the backlog.They argued that because of the limit on the number of individuals from a country can get the Green Card or legal US residency, the wait period for highly skilled Indians could be as long as 70 years.Read it at New Indian Express Related Itemslast_img read more

Non residents can claim exemption from Aadhaar-based verification

first_imgAs per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, every ‘resident’ is entitled to get an Aadhaar number by submitting demographic and biometric details. A resident for this purpose has also been defined in the Aadhaar Act itself. Such a ‘resident’ is an individual who has resided in India for a total of 182 days or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment in Aadhaar. Therefore, it is unlikely that you meet this criterion for Aadhaar enrolment.Read it at Live Mint Related Itemslast_img read more

Labour woos Indian business in U.K.

first_imgBritish Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell reached out to Indian businesses in the U.K., pledging that a Labour government would transform the country into a “high investment, high productivity, high wage, economy” that would address the “deep structural problems” facing businesses, and seek to revive Britain’s relationship with India, post-Brexit, including through a trade deal that also involved Europe.Read it at The Hindu Related Itemslast_img

Gilded Gods

first_imgOn April 24, spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba took his last breath. He left behind millions of mourners; the funeral at Puttaparthi, once a nondescript town in Andhra Pradesh, was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi, iconic cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and half-a-million others. There were several millions more who viewed the ceremony online. “The man who was God is dead,” said a Time magazine obituary.He also left behind billions of dollars in assets. When he died, his charitable trust — the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, set up in 1972 — controlled those assets. “The trust oversees projects across 165 countries,” reported the Kolkata-based daily The Telegraph. “It runs 25,000 temples, 75 to 100 hospitals and clinics, and nearly 3,150 educational institutions including two universities.” The paper estimated the trust’s net worth at between $9 billion and $33 billion. Considering that Sathya Sai Baba was solely in control of the trust — made up of donations such as $108 million from Isaac Tigrett, the founder of Hard Rock Café — it would have made the Baba the richest man in India. Mukesh Ambani, who tops the list now, is worth $27 billion, according to Forbes. (Incidentally, Mukesh Ambani’s wife, Nita Ambani, is one of the Sai Baba’s devotees, as is Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.)The Richest TempleBut the Sai Baba’s empire is not the richest religious establishment in India. That honor goes to the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh, today run by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), a trust whose members are appointed by the government. The state had taken over the temple in 1987 after various allegations against the priesthood; The Supreme Court upheld the move in 1996.The TTD’s exact wealth is unknown (only the Vatican is richer). But there are indicators. In February 2011, the TTD deposited 1,175 kg of gold (worth $57 million at current prices). These were its collections from small donations by devotees. The total does not include bigger gifts such as the $10 million diamond-studded gold crown presented by Karnataka tourism minister and industrialist Gali Janardhan Reddy. The 1,175 kg deposit had been preceded by a 3,000 kg deposit in April 2010, reports The Times of India.Tirupati is the most visited religious site in the world; the number of pilgrims can reach 500,000 on special days. “But there is no chaos,” says B.N. Kumar, CEO of the Mumbai-based Concept PR, who has been there recently. “It is very professionally managed.” Essentially, it’s a business. Everything is treated as a source of revenue. Many pilgrims visit for a tonsure, or hair cutting ritual, and the hair is collected and auctioned. In the TTD budget for 2008-2009 (later figures are not available), the collection from the hair auction alone was estimated at $20 million. “There is a separate complex for the tonsure,” adds Kumar. “People normally carry their own blades.” The hair is used to make wigs; some Hollywood beauties owe their tresses to distant Tirupati.Temple Towns GaloreTirupati is a primary example when it comes to discussing temples. But in India, there are thousands of them — and there are a large number of temple towns which still owe their existence entirely to the temple. Madurai in South India is typical. It has been built around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. The new temple structure dates back to 1600; the earlier temple was sacked by invader Malik Kafur in 1310. The economy of Madurai centers on the shrine. There is very little manufacturing and industry, although one or two IT and BPO companies have strayed in recently. “Take away the temple and the pilgrimage tourism, and the city will become a shell,” says S. Krishnaswamy, professor in the department of genetic engineering at the Madurai Kamaraj University. “The city has a huge number of tour operators, hotels, eateries and shops catering to the temple tourism trade. Educational institutions have sprung up in keeping with the ancient Indian tradition of learning being a part of religious training.” All over the country, there are organized temple tours. And it’s not just Hindu temples. The Buddhists have a circuit, very popular with the Japanese. There are Muslim tours, Jain tours, Christian tours and Jewish tours, among others.All this is big business, but does that make the money pilgrims donate at the temples and mosques any less entitled to being considered philanthropy? The big problem, of course, is that this money is largely unaccounted. Even the religious institutions and the trusts that run them are not rigorous about keeping donation records.Some banks have been trying to take the process of donating to religious institutions online. If the initiatives are successful, they could give some idea of the total amounts involved. However, only the larger amounts are likely to be donated online — and these are often already recorded because they are part of individual or corporate tax planning. For smaller amounts, the new system is more a convenience than an inducement to change. The millions of devotees who actually visit the shrines will likely still head for the donation boxes, observers predict.Online DonationsHDFC Bank recently extended its online donation facility to the Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, its 70th shrine. A. Rajan, the bank’s country head (operations), notes that the bank’s online donation program “started in the middle of 2007. I was invited to attend a seminar with several religious institutions on fund management in temples, and they wanted to speak to me as a banker. That’s when this idea struck me.” In temples in India, people may have to wait for hours in queues to put money into the donation boxes. “I wanted to offer to all our customers the facility to give to temples of their choice electronically,” continues Rajan. Although he declines to offer donation figures, the total number of hits on the 60 plus shrines last year was more than 100,000. Some online visitors gave a dollar, some a hundred times that and others nothing at all. HDFC Bank has added Sikh gurudwaras, Parsi temples, Jain temples, mosques and churches to its list. But the mosques and churches are not garnering as many donations. Rajan thinks these religions are more disciplined and donations are collected when devotees visit the churches and mosques, which they do more regularly. He is extremely skeptical of the data which show that Indians are poor givers. “Indians are equally philanthropic,” he says. “I have doubts on the calculation method used by the studies [that show otherwise].”The figure in dispute is part of a study by Bain & Company, which shows that Indians give only 0.6% of GDP. Arpan Sheth, partner, Bain & Co, stands by the study’s findings. “I would assert that the ‘unorganized giving’ is not going to make that much of a difference because all the small giving — which happens elsewhere in the world as well —tends to be very small amounts. When you start adding it up, it won’t be substantive. People crib a lot about whether the number is 0.6 or 0.65. [But] it’s as scientific as you can get, because the data is just not there.”What Are the Right Vehicles?Actually, the key issue that emerges is not whether India and countries like it are giving more or giving less. What is far more important is whether they are giving right. Can priests and pastors serve better than professionals?“It is interesting to say I give to my church, I give to my household help,” says Sheth. “It is much more impactful to say I’ve given to an NGO that is focused on pre-natal critical care for newborns. So the whole structure of giving — the maturation of the industry — is the real story. We should talk a lot more about whether we have the right vehicles to ensure that the people who really need it, and the people who this is aimed at, get the benefit out of it.”Devdutt Pattanaik, chief belief officer of Kishore Biyani’s Future Group, feels that you cannot equate churches and mosques with temples. And the confusion starts because people don’t understand this. “Temples are not churches or mosques, meaning they are not community prayer halls,” he says. “They are the abodes of the gods. The deity is a living, breathing person. Wealth given to the temple ensures the livelihoods of priests and artisans and traders involved in the upkeep of the temple. For example, giving cows to the temple ensures the livelihood of a cowherd family. Donating land to the temple ensures livelihood to farmers. The temple was the place where orphans and destitutes got shelter. Temples also patronized artists, singers and dancers. The temple was the medium through which wealth flowed into society, bypassing the traditional exchange routes of the market.”Falling from GraceThe trouble is that the temple has fallen from its pedestal. Priests are up to all sorts of peccadilloes — from sexual exploits to large-scale larceny. That’s true of Western churches, too: Dozens of defrocked priests are evidence enough. But in the West, the church is not the mainstay of charity any longer, experts note; it is a catalyst. “One reason the U.S. has long been ranked among the most generous nations is the higher rate of citizens active in their religion,” says Jason Wingard, vice dean, Wharton Executive Education. “This leads to more giving to the church itself. But studies have also shown that religious involvement encourages more giving to other causes.”“Earlier temples were embedded institutions that had meaning and purpose,” says Rohini Nilekani, philanthropist and chairperson of the Arghyam Foundation. “Today that is shifting.”  Related Itemslast_img read more

Indian Man Shot Dead in Mississippi

first_imgA 21-year-old Indian man was shot dead in front of his house during a robbery in the U.S. state of Mississippi.The incident happened days after a 20-year-old Indian student was killed by two armed robbers at a grocery store in California.In the latest attack, Sandeep Singh was shot in the stomach during the robbery reported around 11 p.m. on Nov. 26 in Jackson city, Mississippi, police said.He died at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre on Nov. 27, reported WAPT, an ABC-affiliated television station.Singh and two other men were standing outside their house when a man in a mask and a hoodie walked up to them. The robber took money and cellphones from the men.As the robber ran away, he fired shots and one of the bullets hit Singh, knocking him unconscious, police said. Singh’s death is the city’s 58th homicide for the year.He hailed from Jalandhar and got a job in the United States after he migrated to the country four years ago on a tourist visa.The gunman could be one of a group of armed men believed to be responsible for recent armed robberies of businesses and individuals throughout the northwest Jackson area, the police said.The shooter was described as wearing a gray hooded shirt and was armed with a 9 mm pistol, police said.“In an attempt to conceal their identities, they have their faces covered with bandannas and/or masks. The suspects have also been observed wearing hooded sweatshirts and gloves,” Commander Tyree Jones said in a news release.All of the men are African American, said Jones.This is the second such incident of the killing of an Indian youth in the United States in the past two weeks. On Nov. 13, Indian student Dharampreet Singh was shot dead allegedly by two armed robbers, including one of Indian-origin, in California. — (IANS) Related ItemsMississippiUnited Stateslast_img read more

4 Indian-origin Men Charged in $3.5 Million Fraud Case

first_imgFour men of Indian descent have been charged in a $3.5 million fraud in which they pretended to be tax officials and collected money by allegedly threatening over 7,300 people, a federal prosecutor has announced.Gregory J. Haanstad, the Wisconsin Eastern District prosecutor, on Nov. 30 said the scheme was “likely originating from India.”Moin Gohil, 22, was picked up by law enforcement authorities in Georgia on Nov. 24, and Pratik Patel, 26, Parvez Jiwani, 39, and Nakul Chetiwal, 27, were arrested on Nov. 28 by federal authorities, Haanstad said.According to the prosecutor, their fraud is known as an “IRS impersonation scheme.”Participants in the scheme based “likely in India” call victims in the United States pretending to be officials of the federal tax agency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and typically claim they owe taxes.They then threaten and intimidate the victims saying they would face arrest or legal action if they did not send money through services like MoneyGram and Western Union or provide gift cards with cash value.Members based in the United States, who are known as “runners,” use fake identification to pick up the money or the cards.Haanstad said that Gohil, Chetiwal and Jiwani, who were allegedly “runners” picked up $666,537 sent from 784 victims between January 25, 2016 and August 8, 2017.In addition, the false IDs used by them are linked to 6,530 other fraudulent transactions totaling $2.83 million, he added.Patel “aided and abetted” at least one of the runners, he said.They have been charged with three offences — wire fraud (which is using electronic communication to commit fraud), conspiracy and aiding and abetting crimes.They could face a maximum prison term of 20 years and $250,000 fine for each of the crimes if found guilty.Frauds like these are widely prevalent and have tarnished the reputation of India and Indians through their calls.In November, U.S. authorities busted an Ahmedabad-based operation, which defrauded residents of at least $25 million.Five men, who were arrested in the United States, admitted their guilt in federal courts in Texas and Arizona and were awaiting sentencing.In that case, 53 people in India were also charged. The alleged mastermind of the call center used in the operation, Sagar “Shaggy” Thakkar, had been arrested in Mumbai in April. — (IANS) Related ItemsFraudUnited StatesWisconsinlast_img read more

Obama: “Not only do I think I’m a desi, but I’m a desi.”

first_imgAt a San Fransisco Fundraiser on Aug 17, Barack Obama endeared himself to his Indian and Pakistani American contributors by playfully identifying himself as a desi.The San Fransisco Chronicle quoted Obama as saying: “Not only do I think I’m a desi, but I’m a desi. I’m a homeboy.”At Occidental College, Obama recalled, he roomed with  Pakistani student, and at the dorm “Indians and Pakistanis came together under one roof … to cause havoc in the university.”Obama added that he had learned to cook dal and other Indian dishes, but “somebody else made the naan.”Somebody else always makes the naan!“Those are friendships which have lasted … for years, and continue until this day,” Obama said. “I have an enormous personal affection for the people of South Asia,” the Chronicle reported.  Related Itemslast_img read more

After Priyanka, Scindia meets U.P. Cong. leaders

first_imgFollowing his party’s worst-ever drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradeh, Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia on Friday met the party’s State leaders to assess what went wrong in the elections.Mr. Scindia, who was made in-charge of western U.P. and given the responsibility of 38 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the State, failed to ensure a single victory. A Congress leader who attended the meeting said he spoke to the district and city unit chiefs of the organisation to find out the possible causes behind the rout. Two days ago, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, entrusted with the task of managing polls in the remaining 42 seats in the eastern U.P., carried out a similar exercise in Raebareli, which was the only seat won by the party this time from the State. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was re-elected from Raebareli, while Congress president Rahul Gandhi, her son, lost his Amethi seat. Brainstorming sessionMs. Vadra has asked senior U.P. Congress leaders to attend a brainstorming session in Delhi over the weekend to chart out the strategy to contest the 2022 U.P. Assembly polls.last_img read more

“Prachar Rath” to promote organic and natural farming in Rajasthan

first_imgA “Prachar Rath”, flagged off by Agriculture Minister Lal Chand Kataria on Wednesday, will promote organic and zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) among the farmers in Rajasthan to reduce agricultural input costs, encourage the use of bio-fertilisers, replace pesticides with traditional material and give tips for preparation of indigenous seeds.Flagging off the chariot at a public hearing event here, Mr. Kataria said the progressive farmers would be associated in large numbers with the drive which would continue till November 9. “Groups of farmers will visit the villages to generate awareness about the methods to increase agricultural production with innovative methods,” he said.Noted agriculturist Subhash Palekar, who has pushed for adoption of ZBNF, will train the farmers at a six-day-long camp beginning on September 24 at Sewar in Bharatpur district. This will be the first-ever training camp devoted to natural farming organised in the State.Mr. Kataria said the excessive use of chemicals was damaging the land’s fertility and adversely affecting people’s health. “The Prachar Rath’s dialogue with the farmers will apprise them of the benefits of using organic manure, vermicompost, crop residues and organic waste, while the weed, disease and pest control can be achieved through bio-materials and crop rotation.”The Union government’s Economic Survey of 2018-19 had advocated ZBNF as a “lucrative livelihood option” for small farmers. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had mentioned the method in her Budget speech as one of the innovative models through which the farmers’ income could be doubled by 2022.About 2,000 farmers have got themselves registered for the Sewar camp, where the research on forest vegetation as well as the techniques for natural growth of trees, based on Mr. Palekar’s “zero budget approach” to chemical-free farming involving manures and agro-ecology, will be highlighted.Sita Ram Gupta, executive director of Bharatpur-based Lupin Foundation, which is organising the camp, said that the exhibitions on beekeeping, manufacturing of ‘tulsi mala’ and fashion designing would be held during the event. Students of agricultural and veterinary colleges and researchers are also expected to participate in the camp.last_img read more