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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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Migrant Workers Push Up Corona Infections in Jharkhand

Out of 50 positive cases, 38 are migrant labourers

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In Jharkhand COVID-19 tally reached 174 consisting of mostly Migrant labourers. Pixabay

The return of the migrant workers from the highly coronavirus infected states of Maharashtra and Gujarat is pushing up the number of Covid-19 patients in Jharkhand where the tally reached 174 on Wednesday.

According to the health officials, of the recent 50 positive cases 38 are migrant labourers.

The highest numbers during the day were reported from Hazaribagh district where six people, who hail from Barra village of Bishnugarh block and had returned from Maharashtra a couple of days ago, have been confirmed to be infected with coronavirus.

In the state capital Ranchi, a 20-year-old migrant woman tested positive for coronavirus while a migrant worker, who had returned from Surat, also tested positive in the Gandey block of Giridih district.

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In 14 districts out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand, Coronavirus patients have been detected. Pixabay

Coronavirus patients have been detected so far in 14 districts out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand.

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A total of 1,061 samples were tested out of which 1,053 turned out to be negative while eight were positive. The samples are currently being tested at four places in the state, including MGM Jamshedpur, RIMS Ranchi, PMCH Dhanbad and Itki Arogyashala Ranchi.

District wise Ranchi has so far recorded 95 confirmed coronavirus cases which included two foreigners, Bokaro 10, Hazaribagh 10, Koderma three, Giridih six, Simdega two, Dhanbad four, Deoghar four, Garhwa 23, Palamu eight, Jamtara two, Godda one, Dumka two and East Singhbhum two. Out of these 174 cases, three have died. (IANS)

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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)

 

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India: Asiatic Lions in Gujarat’s Gir forests to Have Radio Collars Fitted Around their Necks

A radio collar is a wide band of machine-belting fitted with a small radio transmitter and battery

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Since June 11 up to now more than 25 representative lions of as many prides have been fitted with radio collar devices imported from Germany. Pixabay

The rare Asiatic lions in Gujarat’s Gir forests and surrounding regions will have radio collars fitted around their necks this month, similar to the lions of the African savannah and the Serengeti.

According to Chief Conservator of Forests in Junagadh D.T. Vasavada, since June 11 up to now more than 25 representative lions of as many prides have been fitted with radio collar devices imported from Germany.

A radio collar is a wide band of machine-belting fitted with a small radio transmitter and battery. The transmitter emits a signal at a specific frequency that can be tracked from up to five kilometres away.

When trying to locate a particular collared lion, the researcher dials the appropriate frequency and drives while listening for the beep signal. A directional antenna is mounted on top of the vehicle, and once the signal is detected, the researcher simply drives in the direction where the signal is loudest.

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The rare Asiatic lions in Gujarat’s Gir forests and surrounding regions will have radio collars fitted around their necks this month. PIxabay

“This will help the forest department in monitoring of the group’s movement, research, knowing the territory of the animal and other details. From Sasan, a high tech monitoring unit will monitor their activities. A total of 75 radio collars have been imported from Germany for the purpose,” he added.

Vasavada said as all the members of a pride of lions normally remain within a distance of around half to one kilometer of one another, the location of the representative beast would in fact give the location of an entire pride.

Representatives of the entire lion landscape in and around Gir in Saurashtra region of Gujarat spread in the five districts of Gir Somnath, Junagadh, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Botad would be radio collared in around a month’s time.

According to the last lion census of 2015, there were 523 male, female and lion cubs in the Gujarat forests.

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During floods and other calamities and spread of diseases, the radio collars would be a big help for forest teams. The radio collars would also be helpful in letting the lion trackers know if any group of lions was close to the railway tracks or roads. (IANS)