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Maharaja Express to run on Delhi-Kerala route: Suresh Prabhu

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Panaji: The Maharaja Express – a luxury train operated by IRCTC – may operate on a new route from Delhi to Kerala next year to facilitate tourists to enjoy the beauty of the monsoon in southwest India, a minister said on Saturday.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu, who was in Goa to launch a series of projects undertaken by his ministry, said that a special holiday train would also be introduced in December, considered the peak tourist month in Goa.

“We will start this train (Maharaja Express) also from Delhi, Mumbai, Konkan, Goa, maybe up to Kerala. The idea will be that a lot of people will be able to enjoy the Goa monsoons. It is not the peak season, but we can get more tourists here so that they can get better hotel prices here,” Prabhu said.

Prabhu said that currently the Maharaja Express, which travels on five routes as of now, is non-operational during summer due to the scorching heat and that the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) would operationalise the new route along the Konkan region.

The Maharaja Express is one of the most luxurious trains and a single journey can cost up to Rs.2.5 lakh ($4,000).

Prabhu also added that in order to cater to the rush of tourists during December — a peak tourist season — the Indian Railways was contemplating a special holiday train which will operate on the Delhi-Mumbai-Goa route.

(IANS)

 

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IRCTC Hotels Corruption Case: Lalu Prasad Appears in CBI Head Quarters for Questioning

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RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav appeared before CBI in an investigation on IRCTC Corruption Case. ians

New Delhi, Oct 5: RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Thursday appeared before the CBI here in response to join the investigation into alleged irregularities in the IRCTC Hotels Corruption case.

Lalu Prasad appeared at the Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters on Lodhi Road at around 11.30 a.m. “His questioning has started,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS.

The CBI on September 26 issued fresh summons — the third in a month — to the RJD chief and his son Tejashwi Yadav in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp contract case.

The CBI move comes after Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav skipped two earlier summons.

The CBI on July 5 filed a case for alleged IRCTC Hotels Corruption against Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav. The allotment of contracts for IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2006 to a private firm when the RJD chief was the Railway Minister.

The contracts were given to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vijay and Vinay Kochhar in lieu of bribe in the form of a plot of prime land in Bihar, the CBI said.

A preliminary CBI inquiry found that the said land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing and payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia.

The Enforcement Directorate has questioned Ahluwalia.

The ED had on July 27 registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following the CBI FIR and was probing Lalu Prasad and others for alleged transfer of money through shell companies.(IANS)

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Is Hamid Ansari a thankless Muslim Indian?

Former vice president Hamid Ansari who lately attended an event in Kozhikode held by Delhi Institute of objective studies, co-organised by PFI faces youth's protest.

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New Delhi, September 25, 2017: The youth wing of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came out to protest against the University and former vice president Hamid Ansari who lately attended an event in Kozhikode held by Delhi Institute of objective studies.
The event was co-organised by National Women’s Front (NWF), the women’s wing of the radical Islamic outfit Popular Front of India to mark the international conference on “the role of women to make a humane society”. It has also been alleged that an Islamic fundamentalist organization, Popular Front of India (PFI) was also part of the organizing committee.
According to the reports, the criminal of radical outfit PFI was accused of cutting the hands of Professor Joseph for being offensive to the Islamic Prophet Mohammad. It has also been accused of accusing National Investigative Agency over controversial ‘Love Jihad’ cases.
The university however claim that they have received letters from certain organizations, though not being part of the event but were collaborating in it.
BJP now demand an apology from the former vice president for attending the event that was organized by the organization who has also been responsible for recruiting youngsters for the Islamic state.
The question arises what prompted the Vice President of India for 10 years to attend an event organized by a radical Islamic people of Popular Front of India?
Is he being supportive of their agenda? Or is Hamid Ansari a thankless Muslim Indian?
– Prepared by Abhishek Biswas of NewsGram Twitter: @Writing_desire

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Monsoon Bliss: Drenched in Rain Kutch is a Must Visit (Environmental Feature)

The monsoon brings out a different facet of Kutch, the brown transforms into green

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Rann Utsav in Kutch. Pixabay

Bhuj, Sep 09, 2017: White, fluffy clouds hanging low over green hills, little pools of still water teeming with migratory birds and an omnipresent cool breeze — the semi-arid region of Kutch in Gujarat transforms into a completely different avatar during the monsoon.

And although winter — the time detailed as “ideal” to visit this region — shows you a side of hers that’s truly unique, Kutch makes for a pretty picture during the rains, perfect for a rejuvenating holiday.

Nestling on the country’s western border, close to the Arabian Sea, Kutch had recently been in the news for the cyclonic storm-induced thundershowers that lasted five days. Before that, and like the rest of the state, floods had also hit the region in July.

“Heavy showers are normal during the monsoon,” local taxi driver and long-time Bhuj resident Anwar Khatri said, indicating that the heavy rainfall was not out-of-the-ordinary. “But in the last three-four years, we have had very scanty rainfall. The monsoon brings out a different facet of Kutch, the brown transforms into green.”

Kutch occupies an important geographical location when it comes to birds, said ornithologist Jugal Kishor Tiwari, since it falls on their migration route. His organisation, Centre for Desert and Ocean (CEDO), works on wildlife conservation and promotes nature tourism.

And although the winter is a brilliant time to spot a host of migratory birds, one can indulge in some bird-watching during the monsoon as well. CEDO, which is based out of Moti Virani village, some 400 km from Gujarat capital Gandhinagar, organises tailor-made tours of such nature.

A visit to Kutch would however be incomplete without witnessing its rich treasure trove of handicrafts. Ajrakh (block printing), camel leather craft, Bandhni, different forms of weaving, bellmetal craft, Kutch embroidery — the list is endless — and nothing beats the wonder of watching an artisan work on his or her craft.

After the devastating earthquake in 2001, several NGOs took up the initiative of supporting artisans and their art, even reviving some, and helping them find suitable markets to showcase and sell their products beyond the state’s and the nation’s borders.

There are many such NGOs within a radius of 10-15 kilometres from Bhuj — the point you will either fly down to or reach by train — and one can visit their campuses to see some of these exquisite crafts take shape and understand the story behind them from the artisans themselves. Some names to look out for would be Shrujan, Khamir, and LLDC (Living and Learning Design Centre).

About eight kilometres from Bhuj is a village called Bhujodi, which has the Ashapura Crafts Park set up for artisans to display and sell their work. Again, one can meet weavers, tie-dye artists, block printers and others here. Needless to say, it will leave you wanting for more shopping bags to fill!

From the well-known to the lesser known — a monsoon visit to Kutch would also remain wanting without a trip to one of its pristine beaches. Mandvi is the closest to Bhuj and there are many resorts close by with their own private beach enclosures. The high point of the beaches here — Pingleshwar, about 98 km from Bhuj, a hidden gem — is witnessing the marine life. Jelly fish and hermit crabs are a common sight and the multi-coloured sea weeds look extraordinary.

Also Read: History of Rigvedic river Saraswati

If the children are more in the mood for some fun and frolic, Mandvi has ample opportunity for water sports as well — which may be restricted when the weather is grey. But a ride on a camel would more than compensate for that!

With the temperature hovering on the pleasant side of the scale and a constant breeze, one can also opt for some historical sight-seeing. The Aina Mahal, with its blue tiles, Venetian-style chandeliers and walls studded with mirrors, is a must-visit. Next door is the 19th century Prag Mahal, a brilliant example of Italian-Gothic architecture.

As you travel around the place and move on the fringes of the main town of Bhuj, it is difficult to miss the vast expanses of agricultural land with acres after acres of pomegranate plantations, palm groves and cotton fields — all this thanks to drip-irrigation, which has brought about a sea-change in the region’s crop pattern. With the green hills in the backdrop, it’s a sight to behold. Soak it in, for, with the changing season, Kutch will soon reveal a different face. (IANS)