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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

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The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

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Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)

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UP Govt Sets Record of Testing 4.85 Crore People for Covid

Over 1 lakh medical teams have been involved in the process of screening by UP government

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Uttar Pradesh government sets record of testing 4.85 crore persons for covid -19. Pixabay

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has created a record of sorts by ensuring medical screening of 4.85 crore persons in the state for COVID-19 as per Latest news on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

‘Our medical teams have reached out to 4.85 crore people in more than 78 lakh households for medical testing for corona. Over one lakh medical teams are actively involved in screening people,” said an official spokesman.

The spokesman said that ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers have also been included in the medical teams.

‘Nigrani’ Samitis have been set up at village levels to keep an eye on the corona suspects and monitor those in quarantine centres. The Samitis keep the concerned officials informed of the developments at the village level and help in medical screening.

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“Our medical teams have reached out to 4.85 crore people in more than 78 lakh households for medical testing for corona.”, said an official spokesman of Yogi government. Wikimedia Commons

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The Chief Minister, while addressing the meeting of Team 11 on Wednesday, said that over one lakh beds were available in COVID hospitals in level one, two and three in the state. Of these 2,000 beds are fitted with ventilators.

The medical screening of migrant workers was continuing in all the quarantine centres and all workers who were returning home, were being provided ration kits. (IANS)

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Punjab Govt Imposes Covid Taxes on Liquor

Punjab imposes Covid cess on liquor to cope up with revenue losses caused by the lockdown which has been put in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic

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Punjab Government imposes COVID taxes on liquor. Wikimedia Commons

Faced with huge revenue losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the prolonged lockdown in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday gave the go-ahead to the imposition of Covid cess on liquor with immediate effect.

The move will help the state mop additional revenues of Rs 145 crore in the current fiscal, a government statement said.

The state is facing a revenue shortfall of Rs 26,000 crore, which is 30 per cent of the total budget revenue estimates for FY 2020-21, necessitating some tough measures to generate additional revenue, said the Chief Minister, while accepting the recommendation of the group of ministers, which was constituted on May 12 to examine the matter, to levy additional excise duty on liquor during the current financial year.

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Imposing taxes on liquor will help Punjab mop additional revenues of Rs 145 crore in the current fiscal. Pixabay

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The proceeds of the additional levy shall be utilised entirely for Covid related expenditure, said the Chief Minister, directing the Department of Excise and Taxation to charge the cess in the current year.

Amarinder Singh had earlier asked the group of ministers, comprising the Finance Minister, the Education Minister, the Housing and Urban Development Minister and the Forests and Wildlife Minister, to examine the proposal regarding levy of special cess or Covid cess on the sale of liquor to partially recoup some of the revenue losses amid this unprecedented crisis. (IANS)

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Punjab Government Increases Penalties for COVID Voilations

Punjab Government imposes stiff fines for Covid violations

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Punjab imposes strict fine on COVID-19 Voilations. Pixabay

To further strengthen the management and control of COVID-19, the Punjab government on Friday increased the penalties for violation of guidelines relating to containment of the virus, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000.

Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said penalties need to be increased and made more stringent to keep the state safe from the virus.

He said Rs 500 penalty will be imposed for not wearing a mask and spitting in public places; Rs 2,000 for violating home-quarantine instructions and violating social distancing norms by owners of shops, commercial places and public transport buses and auto-rickshaws; and Rs 3,000 for violating social distancing norms in cars.

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Rs 500 penalty will be imposed for not wearing a mask. Pixabay

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The Minister said non-payment of fine would attract legal action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code as per the regulations framed under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897. (IANS)