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Government regrets flight delays due to minister, staff

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New Delhi: Following a central minister and a state official recently causing flight delays and inconvenience to air passengers and the Prime Minister’s Office seeking a report on it, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju on Thursday expressed regrets and assured that such episodes would not recur.

At a press conference here, Raju said he has called for an investigation into the matter pertaining to the central minister and was awaiting for the first reports to come in before initiating action. He did not spell out what action was contemplated.

“I’ve called in for information. But since people have been inconvenienced, I as the civil aviation minister of this country offer my apologies. Let the first reports come in. Let us know the truth and I will do my duty,” Raju added.

At the same time, the minister sought to brush aside the matter.

“These things routinely happen with all the airlines, not just Air India. In fact, they have been operating on time and serving the Indian skies well,” he said, adding that his colleagues were actually complaining that they were missing flights due to Air India’s on-time performance.

The minister’s reaction came after the Prime Minister’s Office asked the civil aviation ministry for a report on the delay in two Air India flights on account of VIP travels.

“PMO India asks Ministry of Civil Aviation for a report on delay in #AirIndia flights on account of VIP travels in the recent past,” Press Information Bureau chief Frank Noronha tweeted.

The civil aviation minister said it was in public knowledge that the PMO had inquired about the recent flight delays. “But we have not yet received any formal inquiry from them. But it is expected soon.”

The controversy was triggered after three passengers were reportedly taken off an Air India flight at Leh in order to accommodate union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and an aide last week.

On Thursday, Rijiju clarified that he was unaware that an Air India flight was allegedly delayed and three passengers made to de-board to accommodate him and an aide at the last minute.

“Usually, I am informed about all my travel arrangements while I am on an official assignment,” Rijiju told IANS from Darjeeling, where he has gone to check the damage caused by landslides in the hill district of West Bengal.

“But I can’t be blamed for the happening as the Leh administration didn’t inform me on what basis they were making the changes to accommodate me on the Air India flight,” the minister added.

Earlier this week, an Air India flight from Mumbai to New York, with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on board, was reportedly delayed by nearly an hour. This was allegedly done to accommodate a member of his entourage.

While Fadnavis denied any such hold-up, Air India confirmed the delay, albeit for different reasons.

“The flight AI-191 of 29th of June 15 was delayed by total 57 minutes. The delay was partly due to technical/operational reasons and also due to ATC (air traffic control),” an airline official said in a statement.

Senior Air India official told IANS that the government has given clear instructions not to give any undue privileges or advantages to any individual, even government servants or ministers.

“There were many erstwhile practices and protocols that have been stopped. Now no price concession or preference based seats are allotted to anyone. Nor any changes done in the boarding or de-boarding procedures even for VIP travellers,” a senior Air India official told IANS here.

“However, some safety practices are still maintained which are mandatory. But the latest incidents have nothing to do with them.”

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress criticized the government and demanded an apology from the minister who caused inconvenience to passengers. The opposition termed the occurrences as “misdeeds” of the ruling party.

“Just because the prime minister is keeping mum, these issues are not going to be kept under carpet. We demand that the ministers who misused their authority and put ordinary passengers to difficulty and to great hardship should apologize openly,” senior Congress leader P.C. Chako told the media here.

(IANS)

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Sainik School Model to be Incorporated in Non-Military Schools, suggests Prime Minister’s Office to HRD

The elements of military school training the PMO wants to introduce in regular schools include discipline, physical training and ‘patriotic sentiments’

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Sainik school
Two Army T-55 Tanks dedicated to Sainik School, Korukonda. Wikimedia
  • PMO advised HRD ministry to include elements of a Sainik school in regular school
  • The inclusion of elements will incorporate “holistic development” of students
  • Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas will have Sainik school like features

July 21, 2017: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has advised the HRD Ministry to include elements of a military school in regular schools too. This will incorporate discipline, physical fitness, and patriotism in non-military schools. The PMO has suggested the inclusion of such elements in all schools for “holistic development” of students. According to a report, the meeting on Tuesday, July 18 was called out by the PMO to discuss the proposal with Senior HRD officials.

The idea of introducing military elements in schools was first introduced under the NDA government at a meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (highest government advisory body on education) held in October last year. In the meeting, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of state for HRD accentuated the importance of military education for students to promote the idea of patriotism and nationalism, mentioned Indian Express report.

He further adds,  if 2,000 of the 10,000 students at Nalanda University were trained in military education, they would have foiled “Bakhtiyar Khilji’s plan” to plunder and raze the institute.

Sainik Schools were established in 1961 by the then Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon with the purpose of preparing youngsters for the defense services.

[bctt tweet=”Sainik Schools were established in 1961 to prepare youngsters for the defense services. ” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

The HRD ministry is exploring new ways to introduce Sainik School like features in Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs), which are also residential school. The PMO’s suggestion was also discussed with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

ALSO READ: Five boarding schools which teach Army training in India

Students at these residential schools have to join the National Cadet Corps (NCC), undergo rigorous physical training and adopt patriotic lives. The Ministry of Defence directs 25 such schools.

Stressing on the binding need for nationalism and patriotism in CABE meeting, Madhya Pradesh’s education minister also affirmed that more Sainik Schools should be set up by the government.

-Prepared by Staff writer at Newsgram

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Army hands over Surgical Strike footage to PMO, says Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram

Officials from the Defence Ministry meanwhile said there were no discussions on releasing of the video

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New Delhi: Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Hansraj Gangaram Ahir addresses at the 4th Annual Conference on ‘PharmaMed 2015: Affordability, Accessibility, Acceptability-A Global Perspective’​​ organised by the PHD Chamber, in New Delhi on Dec 9, 2015. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

October 5, 2016: Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Wednesday said footage of the surgical strike across the Line of Control (LoC) has been submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office by the Army.

He said the decision on sharing the video has not been taken yet, and any such call can only be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Ahir however, did not comment if the government is planning to release the video.

“The footage has been handed over to the government by the Army,” Ahir told IANS on phone from Mumbai.

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

Asked if the government planned to share the video, he said: “No such decision has been taken yet, a call can only be taken by the Prime Minister.”

“A nation has its own policies and one needs to practise restraint. People like Sanjay Nirupam and Arvind Kejriwal listen to Pakistan. The DGMO did the briefing and everyone in India believes it,” the Minister said.

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Officials from the Defence Ministry meanwhile said there were no discussions on releasing of the video.

The officials did not specify if a final stand on the issue has been taken. (IANS)

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National Cancer Institute at Jhajjar: PMO pushes but ministry delays?

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New Delhi: The Rs 2,035 crore National Cancer Institute (NCI), touted as one of the biggest government-run health projects in the country, has got a nudge from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The project was delayed by almost a year, but the PMO directed that it should be completed before September 2017 deadline. And there lies the catch — a key minister doesn’t have the time for it.

The institute is slated to come up at Jhajjar (Haryana campus) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at about 60 km from Delhi. It will offer tertiary care facilities other than those that are meant for cancer.

However, AIIMS sources say the delays have mainly been because of the inability to hold a meeting of the Institute Body headed by Health Minister JP Nadda to award the tender for the construction work. Such important decisions are taken by the Institute Body that is the apex decision-making panel for AIIMS. The Institute Body also chooses the governing body members. However, after the Narendra Modi government assumed power last May, the new Institute Body has not even been appointed.

After a meeting chaired by principal secretary to the Prime Minister Nripendra Misra, on July 11, 2015, a decision was taken which stated, “The project of NCI should be viewed as a flagship health institute project and the construction should be completed six months before the deadline.” IANS has seen the document.

The meeting was attended by secretary of the union health ministry, the chief secretary of the Haryana government, the AIIMS director, the joint secretary in charge of AIIMS in the health ministry, the AIIMS deputy director (Administration), the chief of the Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital (IRCH) at AIIMS.

A senior health ministry official,  revealed, “The ministry had taken a decision to grant total autonomy to the new AIIMS. Greater powers in terms of administration and financial decisions should be given to the institute bodies. That is why a decision has been taken that the contract for the campus in Jhajjar should be granted by the institute body and not by the ministry. This will give them a sense of empowerment, responsibility and help in expediting the decision making in the long run. The AIIMS Institute Body is all set to be constituted within a fortnight and the contract for the construction will be granted immediately after that by the newly-appointed body. This would make the AIIMS’ project run more efficiently in a particular time frame.”

cancer-390322_640The parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare, on August 11, had also observed that the development of AIIMS campus-II in Jhajjar, Haryana, was an ambitious project and would require not only massive allocation of funds but also sustained monitoring.

The committee wanted health ministry to ensure that development of the project was executed within the initial estimated project costs and time-frame to avoid any time-overruns and cost escalation.

The cabinet approved the project on December 26, 2013. About 300 acres has been earmarked; out of which 32 acre has been allotted for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which has been assigned more than 700 beds.

But the question remains whether the project will be accomplished within the targeted date. The proposed date of the start of the project was January 1, 2014, and the duration of the project was 45 months. The target date of completion is September 2017.

“The award of work for the institute block at NCI should have been completed within nine months (September, 2014) of the start of the project (January 1, 2014) and the construction should have started in October, 2014. It’s been more than year-and-a-half now, but still the award of work has not been done. How is it possible to complete the work within the stipulated time-frame,” asked an AIIMS source.

The decision to award the tender to Shapoorji Pallonji & Company Limited was taken in the standing finance committee (SFC) meeting of AIIMS on May 26, but the approval had to come from the highest decision-making bodies of AIIMS. The Institute Body has to convene to constitute the Governing Body of AIIMS. The Institute Body meeting is now likely to take place in October.

“The award of work has been stalled for four months, even if it was decided in the last SFC meeting. The Institute Body meeting which was scheduled on August 6 was cancelled by Health Minister JP Nadda. By doing so, the project is getting delayed further,” the source added.

Reacting to this, the AIIMS deputy director (Administration), V Srinivas said, “Statutory clearances from the Ministry of Environment & Forests, National Board of Wildlife, State Board of Wildlife, Haryana, and the Departments of Town & Country Planning, Fire, Irrigation, Electricity Board, PHED and Labour in the government of Haryana for the National Cancer Institute have been received. All efforts are being made to ensure timely commencement of work and adherence to prescribed timeline.”

The other institutes proposed for the Jhajjar campus are National Cardiovascular Centre, General Purpose Hospital, National Transaction and Training Centre, National Centre for Child Health, Digestive Diseases Centre, National Institute of Geriatrics, Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centre and National Institute of Nursing Research.

(Sidhartha Dutta, IANS)