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Banks and ATMs open, govt. employees get advance salary ahead of Eid

Not much cheer: With restrictions relaxed, Srinagar is returning to normality. Nissar AhmedThe Hindu

Authorities in the Kashmir Valley, where a lockdown entered its sixth day on Saturday, said they had eased curbs on the movement of residents in Srinagar.

“Restrictions have been eased in most parts of #Srinagar,” Srinagar district magistrate Shahid Choudhary posted on Twitter. “More than 250 ATMs have been made functional in #Srinagar. Bank branches also open. Advance salary on Eid eve being credited today,” he tweeted.

With the administration relaxing the restrictions, hundreds of men and women were seen thronging the streets to buy meat and other essential items for the festival. The markets, however, remained shut.

But for the police personnel of Jammu and Kashmir, who have been at the forefront of the lockdown in the Valley, there was little respite as they continued to face angry and cold stares from residents.

With communication lines down and the Internet blocked, any kind of news, information or rumour was being passed around by word of mouth. For the past week, the Valley was abuzz with murmurs that arms had been taken away from J&K police personnel and that the Central forces had taken over police stations.

When this correspondent toured the city on August 8 and 9, most policemen were seen wielding polycarbonate lathis. The policemen were deployed along with the armed Central Police Reserve Force (CRPF) troops and were guarding lanes ringed with coils of concertina fencing. However, the policemen guarding installations like government buildings and those providing security cover to officials were seen carrying weapons. In the past three years, 60 policemen have been killed in militant attacks.

Banks and ATMs open, govt. employees get advance salary ahead of Eid

Not much cheer: With restrictions relaxed, Srinagar is returning to normality. Nissar AhmedThe Hindu

Authorities in the Kashmir Valley, where a lockdown entered its sixth day on Saturday, said they had eased curbs on the movement of residents in Srinagar.

“Restrictions have been eased in most parts of #Srinagar,” Srinagar district magistrate Shahid Choudhary posted on Twitter. “More than 250 ATMs have been made functional in #Srinagar. Bank branches also open. Advance salary on Eid eve being credited today,” he tweeted.

With the administration relaxing the restrictions, hundreds of men and women were seen thronging the streets to buy meat and other essential items for the festival. The markets, however, remained shut.

But for the police personnel of Jammu and Kashmir, who have been at the forefront of the lockdown in the Valley, there was little respite as they continued to face angry and cold stares from residents.

With communication lines down and the Internet blocked, any kind of news, information or rumour was being passed around by word of mouth. For the past week, the Valley was abuzz with murmurs that arms had been taken away from J&K police personnel and that the Central forces had taken over police stations.

When this correspondent toured the city on August 8 and 9, most policemen were seen wielding polycarbonate lathis. The policemen were deployed along with the armed Central Police Reserve Force (CRPF) troops and were guarding lanes ringed with coils of concertina fencing. However, the policemen guarding installations like government buildings and those providing security cover to officials were seen carrying weapons. In the past three years, 60 policemen have been killed in militant attacks.

Party says she will hold the post until fresh elections

Sonia Gandhi coming out of the CWC meeting in New Delhi on Saturday.Sushil Kumar Verma The Hindu

Ending months of indecision and speculation, the Congress on Saturday named Sonia Gandhi as the interim president of the party to succeed Rahul Gandhi who had put in his papers before the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on May 25.

The decision on Ms. Gandhi’s appointment was announced after a marathon second meeting of the CWC, the party’s apex decision making body, that stretched for nearly three hours.

No schedule announced

The party said Ms. Gandhi would continue in the post until there are fresh elections but didn’t announce a schedule.

The CWC also adopted a resolution to thank Mr. Gandhi for his leadership and efforts to take on the BJP government.

Asked about Mr. Gandhi’s mother replacing him, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said she was the only leader who could steer the party of out of the crisis.

“Don't take away our right to decide who should lead us,” Mr. Surjewala said at a late night press conference.

There were reports that Ms. Gandhi had reluctantly agreed to lead after a consensus eluded the party on a non-Gandhi candidate.

At the CWC meeting earlier in the day, an overwhelming majority wanted Mr. Gandhi to continue as the party chief, while some pitched for his sister, Priyanka.

The names of Mukul Wasnik, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot were also reportedly mentioned.

Though the CWC had urged him to continue as the party chief, Mr. Gandhi stayed firm on stepping down.

Govt. pushes for green fuel as FSSAI order cracks down on reusing oil

The scheme is being launched in 100 cities across the country.

In a bid to encourage the biofuel sector, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday announced that the state-run oil marketing companies would procure the entire supply of biodiesel produced from used cooking oil for a three-year period.

The move, announced on World Biofuel Day, means that biodiesel plants using used cooking oil as their raw material will be assured that their entire production will be procured by the oil marketing companies to be blended with normal diesel. The scheme is being launched in 100 cities across the country.

To pay producers

Under the scheme, the OMCs — Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum — will pay biodiesel producers ₹51 per litre in the first year, ₹52.7 per litre in the second, and ₹54.5 per litre in the third year. The oil companies will also bear the cost of transportation and GST for the first year.

The Minister’s announcement comes just a day after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) directed Food Safety Commissioners to ensure that Food Business Operators (FBOs), whose consumption of edible oils for frying is more than 50 litres per day, stop reusing the oil more than three times.

Mr. Pradhan also launched a ‘Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO)’ sticker and a phone app to enable the collection of used cooking oil. Restaurants and hotels interested in supplying used cooking oil can affix the sticker to show availability.

After extending the deadline twice for FBOs consuming more that 50 litres of oil a day for frying to strictly maintain the usage records and stop reusing the oil more than three times, an August 9 order from the FSSAI has directed Food Safety Commissioners to conduct inspections and ensure that the oil does not enter the food chain again. The order was issued by FSSAI Joint Director (Regulatory Compliance) Pushp Vanam.

The order says all FBOs should compulsorily dispose of their used cooking oil to authorised collection agencies or aggregators and lists eight biodiesel manufacturers enrolled with agency so far.

(With inputs from Afshan Yasmeen in Bengaluru)

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