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Bharat Mala: Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new ambitious project of building a 5,000 km road network feasible?

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

After ‘Make in India,’ India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come up with another ‘ambitious’ project – Bharat Mala – that will supposedly link the entire Himalayan states.

But, not to forget, he wants to do this in five years with an estimated budget of Rs 14,000 crore, as per the report of The Economic Times. This is going to be a road network that will garland India’s territory. Hence, the name Bharat Mala.

It is said that this project will link the untouched areas in the backblocks to push development and economic activities. Bharat Mala will pass along all bordering countries – Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Bhutan – also tracking the vast coastline.

A ministry official said, “Already we have good road network in these stretches. We will build the missing links and also extend the network where no road exists at present. These will provide connectivity to the huge number of ports, which will be part of the ‘Sagar Mala’ project. Once completed, these will provide seamless connectivity along the borders, which is crucial for strategic reasons.”

Starting from Gujarat and Rajasthan, the project will exceed towards Punjab covering Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand , and will touch the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar alongside Terai. Then, it will ascend towards Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and will finish in Mizoram.

However, as per the industry estimates, it requires minimum Rs 10 crore to build just one kilometer of highway in India. If that estimate is taken in mind, then the construction of 5,300 kilometers of Bharat Mala will cost the government whopping Rs 53,000 crore.

In addition, there is hardly any chance that the route will see any heavy traffic, which means that even the private companies won’t find it profitable to invest in.

However, if those statistics are to be believed, it seems like Modi’s dream of connecting Gujarat to Mizoram is way too ambitious.

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Roopkund Bones Study Reveals Mediterranean Migrants in Himalayas

Mediterranean migrants in the Himalayas: Roopkund bones study

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The study involving 28 researchers from institutions in India, the US and Europe revealed that the skeletons belonged to three genetically distinct groups. Pixabay

A study by an international team of scientists has revealed that ancient DNA from mysterious skeletons found in and around Roopkund Lake show there were Mediterranean migrants in Himalayas.

The study involving 28 researchers from institutions in India, the US and Europe revealed that the skeletons belonged to three genetically distinct groups.

The study, published in popular science journal ‘Nature Communications’, covered 38 skeletons found in Roopkund Lake and once thought to have died during a single catastrophic event. However, researchers found that they died in multiple periods separated by at least 1,000 years.

Genome-wide ancient DNA reveals that 23 of the individuals had ancestry that falls within the range of variation of present-day South Asians. A further 14 had ancestry typical of the eastern Mediterranean while one individual was found with Southeast Asian-related ancestry.

According to Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), which was part of the study, it was the first ancient DNA ever reported from India.

Nestled deep in the Himalayan mountains at 5,029 metres above sea level, Roopkund Lake is colloquially referred to as “Skeleton Lake” due to the remains of several hundred ancient humans scattered around its shores.

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Nestled deep in the Himalayan mountains at 5,029 metres above sea level, Roopkund Lake is colloquially referred to as “Skeleton Lake”. Pixabay

“Little was known about the origin of these skeletons, as they have never been subjected to systematic anthropological or archaeological scrutiny, in part due to the disturbed nature of the site, which is frequently affected by rockslides, and which is often visited by local pilgrims and hikers who have manipulated the skeletons and removed many of the artifacts,” says the study.

“There have been multiple proposals to explain the origins of these skeletons. Local folklore describes a pilgrimage to the nearby shrine of the mountain goddess, Nanda Devi, undertaken by a king and queen and their many attendants, who “due to their inappropriate, celebratory behaviour” were struck down by the wrath of Nanda Devi. It has also been suggested that these are the remains of an army or group of merchants who were caught in a storm. Finally, it has been suggested that they were the victims of an epidemic.”

The researchers analyzed the remains using a series of bioarcheological analyses, including ancient DNA, stable isotope dietary reconstruction, radiocarbon dating, and osteological analysis.

They obtained genome-wide data from 38 individuals by extracting DNA from powder drilled from long bones, producing next-generation sequencing libraries, and enriching them for approximately 1.2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from across the genome.

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According to Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), which was part of the study, it was the first ancient DNA ever reported from India. Pixabay

A total of 76 skeletal samples (72 long bones and four teeth) were sampled at the Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata. Skeletal sampling was performed in dedicated ancient DNA facilities at CCMB in Hyderabad.

A subset of samples were further processed at Harvard Medical School, Boston.

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“We first became aware of the presence of multiple distinct groups at Roopkund after sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of 72 skeletons. While many of the individuals possessed genetic information typical of present-day Indian populations, we also identified a large number of individuals with genetic makeup that would be more typical of populations from West Eurasia (a term used in the study to refer to the cluster of ancestry types common in Europe, the Near East, and Iran)” says Kumarasamy Thangaraj, co-senior author and chief scientist at CCMB.

Dr Kumarasamy and then CCMB director Dr Lalji Singh, who is no more, had initiated the work of sampling the skeletons at ancient DNA lab more than a decade ago. (IANS)