Somewhere in Washington DC....

The White House is illuminated in Rainbow colors after the US Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in all states of the country.

Vyapam Mystery Deaths continue

Investigations into the multi-crore Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam turned murkier, recording an appalling 43rd death on Sunday , with two more accused dying in the last 24 hours -one of them under suspicious circumstances.
The MP government has admitted in court to 23 deaths so far, but independent media reports have fixed 43 scam-related deaths so far. Veterinary officer Narendra Tomar, 30, was found dead in the high-security Indore district jail, allegedly after a heart attack. Hours later, Dr Rajendra Arya, 45, who was charged with rigging admissions of two candidates in the 2008 pre-med test, died at Birla Hospital in Gwalior of liver infection.
Tomar's family members said he hadn't complained of ill-health and had in fact spoken about torture on Saturday afternoon when they last met him. They demanded a judicial probe into his death.
The last death before Sunday's was on April 28 of Vijay Singh Patel, 39, of Rewa, who was found dead at a BJP functionary's house in Kanker, Chhattisgarh. Patel was an accused in three cases in the scam. Arya was assistant professor, Government Medical College, Sagar, and was on bail. His family said he was tremendously stressed ever since he was booked in the scam.
The most high-profile death so far has been of Shailesh Yadav, son of Madhya Pradesh governor Ram Naresh Yadav. Shailesh, 50, was found dead at his father's Mall Avenue home in Lucknow on March 25.
Tomar, of Morena, was assistant veterinary officer in Raisen district.
`Terribly stressed', Tomar was arrested by the Madhya Pradesh STF three months ago. He was accused of arranging scorers or impersonators in examination halls and brought to Indore jail on February 24.
Prison officials said Tomar's health began slipping at 11 pm Saturday , and he was rushed to state-run MY Hospital. Jail superintendent, RC Bhati said, “We called medical officer on duty for primary treatment. His blood pressure was normal. When he complained of anxiety again on Sunday , we rushed him to MY Hospital. He suffered a heart attack during medical invest gation and died on way to ICU.“
Bhati denied Tomar was tortured in jail or had fought with inmates. He said, “He was a humble man and had no fights. He may have been stressed.“
But Tomar's family members raised questions. “I suspect my brother met the fate of other accused. He was falsely implicated by STF and arrested without evidence. He was innocent. On Saturday evening, he told us that cops are harassing him and spoke about torture in prison,“ said his brother, Vikram Singh Tomar.
Tomar's colleague, Hemant Kaushal, said, “We spoke to doctors and they said Tomar was brought on Saturday morning and taken back to jail a few hours later. If he was unwell, why did jail authorities return him to jail? On Sunday , hospital authorities said he was brought dead and family members were not informed till he died.“
Tomar's body has been sent for autopsy . At complete odds with Tomar's family members' version, hospital superintendent, Dr AD Bhatnagar, said, “He was admitted in the hospital following recurring chest pain.“

Chennai Metro update

Chief minister J Jayalalithaa will declare open the 10 km elevated section of metro rail from Koyambedu to Alandur through video-conferencing from the state secretariat on Monday .
The ambitious project was conceived by the previous DMK regime in 2008. It was approved by the Centre in early 2009, and construction began later that year. However, it gathered pace in the last four years of the AIADMK government. Even though the election commission is said to have given concurrence for the launch after the RK Nagar bypoll on Saturday , the government and CMRL put off the inauguration till Monday.
The first train is expected o move out of Alandur station and preparations are in full swing in the stations that all on the first stretch. Nine rakes will be used to run services from 6  am to 11pm or midnight.
The stations on the route between Koyambedu and Alandur -CMBT, Arumbakkam, Vadapalani, Ashok Nagar and Ekkattuthangal -would complement public ransportation on Jawaharal Nehru Salai or 100 ft Road and link EMUs at Alandur railway station. The elevated corridor is almost complete between Alandur and Little Mount, while underground work is gathering pace on Anna Salai and Poonamallee High Road. The project, estimated at Rs.14,600 crore, would cover 45 kms in two corridors comprising 32 stations.
“We are gearing up for commissioning the services on Monday,“ said an official.Ticket sales are expected to start in the afternoon. Senior officials and other staff members are planning to assemble at Alandur station at 10am on Monday .

The Meghal flows again....

A group of villagers has revived a dried up river by building checkdams. River Meghal in Junagadh district dried up 15 years ago but this year, thanks to the effort of villagers, it overflowed after the very first spell of rain.
Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) helped the villagers build as many as 1,100 structures, including 54 check dams, along the 70 km length of the river. The cost of the project -it involved labour by 6,500 villagers from early 2000 to 2012 -came to Rs 7 crore.
The Mehgal has now turned into something of a `perennial river' and has boosted farm output and prosperity of villages along its length. Check dams at strategic points ensure that water is available in the river throughout the year.
Sonigbhai Dhandhiya, a farmer from Nani Dhanej, now grows three crops a year. Earlier, he had to be content with only one during the monsoon. Dhandhiya has been able to renovate his house.
Apurva Oza of AKRSP said they had used a three-pronged approach for the Meghal River Basin Project. “Massive community participation, construction of check dams and use of traditional rain water harvesting measures revived the river,“ he said.
Meghal originates in Kanada Dungur of Mendarda taluka in Junagadh district, and flows into the Arabian Sea at Chorwad. Despite its short length, it is very important for people of Maliya, Mendarda, Keshod and Mangrol talukas. Villagers say that earlier it was called Lokmata (Mother Goddess). The revival of the river has ensured that 54 villages in the four talukas -and nearly 5,000 hectares of land -will not face water scarcity. Ramesh Makwana, officer at AKRSP at Gadu, said they wanted ensure that no water, which was stopped from flowing into the sea, was wasted. “Apart from water management committees comprising local villagers, there is an overall Meghal Core Group. It has also promoted use of drip irrigation and sprinklers,“ said Makwana. Of the 6,500 beneficiaries of the project, 5,100 have already adopted drip irrigation and sprinklers. It was also decided to widen and deepen the river before building check dams as it was necessary to avoid flooding. The farmers stood to lose land if the river was widened. But when they were told about the benefits, they agreed to give part of their land. The river stream in Bhadhedadi and Gabardi is now wider by 5-10 feet and deeper by around 35 feet and has saved farms from flooding.

Mann Ki Baat continues

Somewhere in Telangana....

Somewhere in Uttar Pradesh....

More than a dozen nilgais, Asia's largest antelope, were mowed down by a speeding Kasganj-Farrukhabad passenger train near Kampil jungle, about 148 km from Agra. The animals were in a herd of 35 and crossing the tracks late on Friday evening when the mishap occurred.
A total of 14 nilgais were killed while many others were stuck under the train's engine for hours before they were rescued by railways' quick reaction team.
The quick reaction team, with the help of local villagers, removed the bodies and buried them in the nearby fields to avoid obstruction on the railway track and prevent pollution from decomposition.


Somewhere in Haryana....

Drowned in the Downpour

The worst fears of wildlife conservationists are slowly coming true as flood waters receded. On Friday , carcasses of five more Asiatic lions were found in villages of Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts. Forest depart ment officials said that carcasses of a lion and lioness were found in Garajiya village near temple-town Palitana in Bhavnagar district.
A five-year-old lion and a three-month old cub were also found dead near Bhoringda Vidi near Krakach village in Amreli.
Sources also confirmed death of a lioness in Pipardi village of Amreli. All these deaths were a result of the big cats being swept away in flash floods caused by two days of torrential rainfall in Saurashtra on Tuesday and Wednesday .
Meanwhile, the carcass of lion cub was found near the coastal Una town of Gir-Somnath district. “The cub died due to snake bite in Jasadhar forest range,“ said B P Ayar, range forest officer.
With more carcasses likely to be found, 15 teams consisting of three members each have been formed to fan out in the areas where lions are frequently sighted. “The teams are searching for lions and other wild animals, who need to be rescued immediately . They will also perform final rites of dead animals so that the decomposed bodies do not harm other animals,“ said a senior forest official.
Forest department trackers are also camping in Liliya to search for the missing lions.
On Thursday too, an eight-yearold lioness was found dead in Bavadi village of Liliya taluka of Amreli.There are about 50 lions living near the banks of Shetrunji River in Liliya-Krakach area, which was ravaged by the worst-ever flood in 90 years.

Coffee Day files for IPO

Coffee Day Enterprises has filed a draft prospectus with market regulator Sebi for raising Rs.1,150 crore in an initial public offering (IPO). The company plans to list within a couple of months of Sebi's approval and proposes to list its shares on both the BSE and the NSE.
The parent company's subsidiary Coffee Day Global runs the coffee retail operations. The holding company has other business interests, including coffee plantations, furniture and resorts.
The coffee chain has more than 1,500 outlets and increasingly faces competition from the likes of Starbucks, which entered the country in partnership with the Tata Group, and McDonald's franchise Hardcastle Restaurants' McCafes.
The company is backed by private equity giants KKR, Stanchart PE and New Silk Route (NSR). Coffee Day Global had a total income of Rs.1,154 crore and an operating profit of Rs.189 crore in 2013-14, according to a filing with the registrar of companies.
The firm has reserved Rs 15 crore worth of shares for staff.

Somewhere in Kolkata....


Jewar to get NCR's 2nd international airport

The civil aviation ministry has cleared a proposal for a second international airport in Delhi-NCR that is likely to be built at Jewar in Greater Noida.
The new airport, according to the ministry needs 2,200 acres of land and will take around three to four years to build. The proposal was cleared at a meeting attended by officials from the ministry officials, Airports Authority of India, and other senior bureaucrats. It now needs the Cabinet's approval to be taken forward.
The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority has also proposed to extend the Noida Metro line from Greater Noida to Jewar, a 48 km corridor that needs an investment of Rs.2,000 crore.
Jewar is around 100 km from Delhi and was pitched as a site for an international airport when Mayawati was chief minister of UP. Over 2,000 acres of land was also acquired for the airport before the Akhilesh regime binned the idea in 2012. But Gautambudh Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma revived the Jewar project last year after he took charge as minister of state for civil aviation.
Sharma said on Thursday GMR group -the majority stakeholder in Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) that operates the IGI -will be approached first to build the Jewar airport. “The proposal (for the second airport) will soon be sent to the Cabinet for approval.GMR group is proposed to be accorded the right of first refusal with regard to the new project.It will have the first right to develop the project, if interested, before any other entity ,“ Sharma said.
The minister also said the government will amend a rule that doesn't allow airports within 150 km of each other.“Unless an existing airport is functioning beyond its operational capacity , existing rules do not allow a second airport to come up within a 150 km radius of an existing one. For the new project, the government will be required to amend certain regulations,“ Sharma said.
Airport sources, however, said the IGI is nowhere near saturation and had ample scope for future growth at the passenger as well as cargo terminals. “IGI Airport has a capacity of 62.5 million passengers against the traffic of 40.9 million it saw in 2014-15. The airport has a cargo capacity of 1.5 million tonnes but handled 0.7 million tonnes in 2014-15,“ a source said.

India pledges another $1bn for Nepal reconstruction

India announced assistance worth $1 billion for post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal at an international donors' conference in Kathmandu. This is over and above another $1 billion which India has promised to Nepal over the next 5 years. The aid will be used in the reconstruction of physical infrastructure as well as some key heritage sites, said foreign minister Sushma Swaraj who represented India at the conference.
At the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction, Swaraj said: “Nepal is not alone. Today I convey to you the deep and abiding commitment of the government of India and 1.25 billion people of India to stand shoulder to shoulder with you.“
Swaraj hailed Nepal's efforts in making a major bid to rebuild the nation and said raising $6.7 billion was a challenging task.

PM launches Rs 4 lakh crore urban plan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched three mega schemes, including the much-touted plan to build 100 smart cities, and called for foreign direct investment and private sector participation to rejuvenate cities and towns across the country . The Centre will invest around Rs.4 lakh crore over 7-8 years on smart cities, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Transformation (AMRUT) and affordable housing. He also said that development of cities could not be left to realtors and promised to get the Real Estate Regulator bill passed in Parliament soon.

Experts say these programmes have the potential to raise the standard of living in urban India and trigger demand in construction and allied sectors. The choice of Smart Cities will be decided based on a competition to be held at the state and central levels, starting with 20 this financial year.
Modi said development of cities cannot be left to realtors and city managers; citizens should decide development plans. A few property dealers had haphazardly expanded cities while city managers had missed the opportunity for planned development, he said.“In our country , wittingly or unwittingly , the image of the builder lobby is bad... A poor person invests all his savings for a house, but when he is cheated, he loses everything.To protect such consumers, we will try to get the Real Estate Regulator bill passed in the upcoming Parliament session,“ he said. “These initiatives mark a paradigm shift, providing a people-centric approach to create world class urban spaces,“ Modi said, adding that rapid urbanization should be seen as an opportunity and urban centres should be viewed as growth engines.
The PM said that while planning the development or expansion of cities, adequate provisions for the “smallest of the small person“ must be ensured. “Private developers know how the city will grow and in which direction. They will buy land and come up with projects. They will build houses, but the necessary facilities for good living are never provided. Neither are there roads nor electricity nor drainage facilities. People come and buy the properties, but the rest of the facilities don't come up,“ he added. The PM called upon mayors and municipal commissioners of 500 cities to address this mismatch. He said, “If the city leadership does not have a long-term vision, this situation will not change.“
Modi said the government cannot leave the poor to their fate as providing them homes becomes a turning point in their lives. Admitting that the targets set by his government are tough to achieve and people would ask him questions, Modi said this does not mean that the government can sit idle and not take necessary steps to improve urban life.

Tragedy @ Revdanda

A 42-feet-long blue whale was washed ashore at the Revdanda coast, which is 17 km south of Alibaug. This big whale was first spotted on the shore on Wednesday afternoon. It was initially showing signs of life, so the villagers tried to push it back in the sea. However, the whale later died," informed a local resident.
Forest official in-charge of the mangroves cell, N Vasudevan, said: "It is unfortunate that this blue whale was stranded in the shallow sea and eventually died. The blue whales are the biggest species of earth, and can grow up to 100 feet." Vasudevan added that the dead whale was later buried on the beach at Revdanda.
The dead whale was later buried on the beach at Revdanda on Thursday. This is reportedly the biggest sized whale to have washed ashore in and around Mumbai coast in recent times.