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Sikkim CM cites Union Home Minister’s assurance on State’s special status

P.S. Golay. File photo

Even as he welcomed the amendment of Article 370 pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, better known as P.S. Golay, assured the people that the Centre will not interfere with Article 371F which provides special status to the State.

“The decision of the Union government to amend Article 370 is in the interest of the nation and we support it, but as far as Article 371F and other similar provisions are concerned, we heard in Parliament that Union Home Minister Amit Shah said these provisions will continue,” Mr. Golay told journalists.

Mr. Golay’s remarks came as the Opposition parties in the State sought an assurance about the fate of Article 371F.

“Article 371F is a special feature for Sikkim and its people and there can be no question of its modification,” he said.

Mr. Golay also rejected any possibility of merger of Sikkim and Darjeeling hills, and said that Sikkim is protected by Article 371F of the Constitution, which is the result of the agreement in 1975 between the Union of India, the king of Sikkim and the State’s political parties.

‘No merger’

“Those demanding Gorkhaland for Darjeeling hills are doing so as per their constitutional right. It is for the Centre to decide on whether to agree with it or not. However, there is no question of its merger with Sikkim,” he said.

After the reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the political parties in Darjeeling hills have been demanding the status of a Union Territory.

A press statement by Sikkim’s Information and Public Relations Department on August 8 said that Mr. Golay, during his recent visit to New Delhi, had requested the political leaders at the Union level to protect Article 371F.

“More than the legal provisions in Article 371F, it is a very emotive issue and every political party in the State, including the national parties, stress upon how important the Article is,” said Pema Wangchuk, senior journalist and consulting editor of Summit TIMES.

He said that Article 371F is one of the key terms of the merger of Sikkim with India in 1975.

Three bodies have been recovered, says Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan

Nature’s fury: A view of Kavalappara village in Malappuram, where at least 40 people are feared trapped under a massive landslip.Special Arrangement

Torrential rains and flash floods that continued to wreak destruction in the central and northern districts of Kerala claimed 28 lives and forced the evacuation of approximately 65,000 people, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Friday.

At Kavalappara near Nilambur in Malappuram district, rescue workers were battling inclement weather to trace at least 40 people feared trapped under a massive landslip.

“Three bodies have been recovered from the region,” Mr. Vijayan said after a high-level meeting to review the flood situation.

13 dams opened

Nine bodies have been recovered from Meppadi in Wayanad district, the site of a second disastrous landslip. “It is not yet clear how many people were affected in the mishap. Rescue operations using excavators are in progress. Eleven deaths have been reported in Wayanad district so far,” the Chief Minister said.

Till 3 p.m. on Friday, 64,103 people (15,478 families) have been evacuated to 738 camps in flood-hit districts. Thirteen dams — seven maintained by the Kerala State Electricity Board and six by the Water Resources Department — had been opened so far.

Twelve teams of the National Disaster Response Force had been deployed for rescue operations. Army units had been rushed to Idukki and Malappuram, he said.

The India Meteorological Department has issued red alert in seven districts — Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur — for Saturday.

In Wayanad, which experienced a steady downpour throughout Friday, the situation could take a turn for the worse, the Chief Minister said.

“In many places, the water levels are even higher than the 2018 levels. Also, we may have to open the Banasurasagar dam soon. This escalates the threat of floods and landslips. People should be ready to evacuate if needed,” he said.

Immediate assistance

The government has announced an immediate assistance of ₹22.5 crore for 11 affected districts.

Wayanad, where approximately 20,000 people have been shifted to relief camps, has been sanctioned ₹2.50 crore, while 10 districts would get ₹2 crore each.

The Chief Minister urged government staff to cancel leave and rejoin duty to help the State tackle the crisis.

Kerala has written to Tamil Nadu seeking urgent repairs to the damaged Contour Canal to prevent water levels from rising in the Chalakkudy river. The river is in spate and unless the canal is repaired, the water level could rise further, the Chief Minister said.

The joint research looked into how climate change impacted accumulation of the metal

Variation in the accumulation of mercury in fish is the result of changes in sea temperature and their dietary patterns.

A joint research by the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IIT-H), Harvard University, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a Canadian government agency, has found that though there has been a decrease in the levels of mercury pollution, the amount of mercury found in fish have been different in different species — some types of fish have less mercury than before, and some, alarmingly more.

The research, published this month in the international peer-review journal Nature, broadly studied how climate change impacts mercury accumulation in fish.

The variations in the accumulation of mercury in fish is the result of changes in sea temperature in the recent years and changes in the dietary pattern of fish due to overfishing.

The research was led from India by Asif Qureshi, associate professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT-H, and co-authored by Amina Schartup, Colin Thackray, Clifton Dassuncao, Kyle Gillespie, Alex Hanke and Elsie Sunderland.

There have been global efforts to reduce the amount of mercury entering the ocean to reduce the amount of mercury found in fish and other marine animals. Working in this direction, the researchers focussed on whether these and other environmental measures alleviated or exacerbated the problem of increased mercury levels in fish. For the study, they chose the Gulf of Maine, a well-studied but also exploited marginal sea in the Atlantic Ocean, to understand the trends in mercury accumulation in fish.

The researchers used three decades of data on ecosystem and mercury concentrations and developed a model for mercury bio-accumulation.

“There are three factors that result in mercury accumulation in fish – overfishing, which leads to dietary changes among marine animals, variations in the temperature of the sea water, which leads to changes in fish metabolism that gears towards survival rather than growth, and changes in the amounts of mercury found in sea water as a result of pollution,” said Dr. Qureshi.

There have been 29 flood-related or rain-related deaths in five flood-hit districts in Maharashtra

Sigh of relief: Villagers stranded in flood waters at Rajapur, around 43km from Kolhapur, for almost four days being rescued by the Coast Guard on Friday. Abhijeet GurjarAbhijeet Gurjar

With the intensity of the rains decreasing and floodwaters marginally receding on Friday, rescue operations proceeded at full throttle in flood-ravaged Sangli and Kolhapur on Friday. Local rescue teams, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Army jawans pulled out stranded persons in backwater villages in the two districts.

Thus far, 2.85 lakh persons across the five flood-hit districts of Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara, Pune and Solapur in western Maharashtra have been moved to shelters in safer zones, said Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar. Of these, 2.35 lakh persons have been evacuated from around 450 villages in Sangli (1.34 lakh) and Kolhapur (1.11 lakh) alone.

Dr. Mhaisekar said there had been 29 flood-related or rain-related deaths so far in the five districts, including the nine casualties in Sangli boat accident of Thursday. Eleven people were still missing. “We have been able to recover only nine bodies in that accident so far,” he said.

“In order to compensate people for their possessions lost in the floods, ₹15,000 would be given to each family in the urban areas and ₹10,000 to each family in the rural areas. The State government has entrusted us with an ad hoc fund of ₹76 crore and we have already begun distributing this amount at the district level,” said Dr. Mhaisekar.

480 relief centres were presently operational in the five flood-hit districts in western Maharashtra. The Divisional Commissioner said Air Force and Navy helicopters were being deployed from Friday to drop supplies in flood-afflicted zones.

Meanwhile, under fire for failing to lend support with their presence in deluge-hit regions, senior BJP leaders including State Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan and the Guardian Ministers of Kolhapur and Sangli Chandrakant Patil and Subhash Deshmukh finally made their way to Kolhapur on Thursday.

As they entered Sangli, Mr. Mahajan and Mr. Deshmukh faced the wrath of the hapless locals, who surrounded the Ministers and angrily questioning their absence for nearly five days since the deluge, and the administration’s alleged tardiness in dealing with the crisis. “The people’s anger is perfectly understandable and justified…regrettably, this is a natural calamity which is far more serious than the 2005 deluge,” said Mr. Mahajan, speaking in Sangli.

Modi-inspired Chalo Jeete Hain gets prize in non-feature category in National Film Awards

Winners all:Padmaavat won three awards, including Best Music Director for Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and Akshay Kumar’s Padman won the award for the Best Film on Social Issues.

Gujarati Hellaro bagged the national award for the Best Feature Film and the Best Actor Award was shared between Ayushmann Khurana for Andhadhun and Vicky Kaushal for Uri-The Surgical Strike at the 66th National Film Awards announced on Friday.

Keerthy Suresh won the best actress award for her portrayal of yesteryear star Savitri in Telugu film Mahanati.

A 32-minute film called Chalo Jeete Hain, a hagiographical depiction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s early life was voted the Best Film on Family Values in the non-feature category. It is directed by Mangesh Hadawale and produced by Mahaveer Jain and Bhushan Kumar.

Uri-The Surgical Strike, a dramatised version of the first cross-border strike by Indian forces in retaliation to the attack on an Army camp in 2016, won four awards. The lead actor Vicky Kaushal was voted the Best Actor, sharing the award with Ayushman Khurana for Andhadhun. The director of the film, Aditya Dhar, bagged the Best Director Award. It also got an award for the Best Music Direction for its background score by Shashwat Sachdev. The Best Audiography Award went to its sound designer Bishwadeep Dipak Chatterjee. He shared this award with three others.

Badhaai Ho, about a family dealing with a late pregnancy, was adjudged the best popular film and veteran actor Surekha Sikri bagged the Best Supporting Actress award.

The Best Film on Social Issues went to Akshay Kumar starrer Padman. It was inspired by the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from Tamil Nadu who introduced low-cost sanitary napkins.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat walked away with the Best Choreography for Ghoomer and the Best Music Director award for Bhansali. Its song Binte Dil got Arijit Singh the best male playback singer recognition.

Health Minister plans to provide it across all States and UTs by this September

A drop for life: Rotavirus vaccination drops being administered to a child. C. VENKATACHALAPATHYC. VENKATACHALAPATHY

“The Health Ministry has drawn an ambitious plan under the 100 days agenda of the newly elected government, wherein it has been decided to provide Rotavirus vaccine to every child across all States and Union Territories by September, 2019,” Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday.

He said diarrhoea was one of the biggest killers in children and Rotavirus was one of the most common causes of severe diarrhoea in children less than 2 years of age.

“Rotavirus vaccine along with proper sanitation, hand washing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation will go a long way in reducing the mortality and morbidity due to diarrhoea in children,” the Minister said. .

In India, every year, 37 out of every 1,000 children born are unable to celebrate their 5th birthday, and one of the major reasons for this is diarrhoeal deaths. Out of all the causes of diarrhoea, Rotavirus is a leading cause of diarrhoea in children less than 5 years of age.

It is estimated that Rotavirus cause 8,72,000 hospitalisations; 32,70,000 outpatient visits and estimated 78,000 deaths annually in India.

Rotavirus diarrhoea can be prevented through vaccination. The vaccine was introduced in 2016 in a phased manner, beginning with 4 States initially and later expanded to 7 more States. It is now available in 28 States/Union Territories.

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