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The Central government plans to double the number of airports in the country to more than 200 by the year 2023-24.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M. Scindia on Friday said the Central government plans to double the number of airports in the country to more than 200 by the year 2023-24. Addressing a conference of the ministers of civil aviation from states and UTs, he said the Centre plans to set up at least one heliport in each district in collaboration with states and UTs.

On the issue of seaplanes, the minister said that the states should provide capital support for this initiative. Besides, he appealed to states and UTs to bring down VAT on aviation fuel as it contributes majorly to the operational cost of the flights.

Currently, India has one of the highest state governments levied VAT rates on jet fuel. This makes the overall cost of airline operations high. According to industry estimates, ATF prices constitute over 40 per cent of total operating cost of domestic carriers and this was 70 per cent higher than the global average. Furthermore, Scindia said that the sector has large cost-benefit ratio and also huge employment potential.

On the issue of drones, he said that rules have been framed for promoting the sector and that 'Production Linked Initiative' scheme will provide a further push. In addition, he called upon the states and UTs to facilitate new airports by swiftly handling the land allotment issues. (IANS/ MBI)


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regaining our independence back from the British without wars or using violence, and by the simple dharma of non-violence.

OṀ (AUM) -PRA-PAN-CHA-KHYAA-TI-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA

ॐ प्रपञ्चख्यातिभूम्यै नमः

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The Sher Bahadur Deuba governmentrecommended veteran diplomat Shanker Sharma as the next ambassador to India.

The Sher Bahadur Deuba government on Thursday recommended veteran diplomat Shanker Sharma as the next ambassador to India.

Sharma earlier served as Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission and Nepal's Ambassador to the United States of America from 2009 to 2013.

The post in the New Delhi embassy of Nepal fell vacant recently after Deuba recalled the ambassadors from 12 countries including India. The outgoing ambassador, Nilamber Acharya has already returned to Kathmandu.

Sharma has extensive experience in government, international institutions, and economic research. Before joining the National Planning Commission as a member in 1997, he worked as a Senior Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Nepal; a Senior Economist in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore; and a Fellow in the East-West Center, Hawaii. He also served as a Professor of Economics in the Centre for Economic Development and Administration, Tribhuvan University.

He worked regionally and globally for many organizations, such as the UNESCAP, World Bank, and ASEAN. Sharma is close confident of Prime Minister Deuba. (IANS/JB)


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Taliban is being supported by other countries, who are asking the United Nations to work towards its economy and people.

At least 10 regional powers have joined the new Taliban rulers in Afghanistan in their call to the United Nations to help the country bail itself from the feared economic collapse and a humanitarian catastrophe.


At a regional-level meeting in Moscow, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan sided with the Taliban delegation and called on the UN to convene a United Nations donor conference at the earliest to help rebuild the ear-torn Afghanistan.

"It should take place with the understanding that the main burden should be borne by the forces whose military contingents have been present in Afghanistan over the past 20 years," said a joint statement of the Moscow conference.

Voices of concern and criticism were also raised against the United States, which opted not to attend the talks citing 'technical reasons'. The US was criticised for invading Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 and after 20 years, opted to an chaotic withdrawal, which created easy inroads for the Taliban to take control of the country.

It was also highlighted that international aid is the need of the hour for Afghanistan as any instability in the country would have a spillover effect on the regional countries and could threaten regional stability.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has brought with it looming fears and memories of the '90s, when practices like public stoning, hardline setup and marginalisation of women were normal.

However, the Taliban, under the new government setup, have assured that rights of women will be guaranteed.

"Afghanistan will never allow its soil to be used as a base for anyone to threaten the security of another country," said Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

"Isolating Afghanistan is in no one's interest. The meeting is very important for the stability of the entire region," said Deputy Prime Minister in the Taliban setup, Abdul Salam Hanafi.

The regional powers, including Russia, have maintained that the Taliban are a new reality, calling on them to work towards the formation of an inclusive government with representation from all ethnic groups and political figures.

While the regional powers recognised the need for immediate aid and help for Afghanistan, they have declined to give official recognition to the Taliban government.

"Kremlin recognises Taliban's efforts to try and stabilise the situation in Afghanistan. A new administration is in power now. We note their efforts to stabilise the military and political situation and set up work of the state apparatus," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The Moscow conference holds great importance, as it is the most significant international meeting since the Taliban takeover.

However, the Taliban have been given a clear direction to first meet and fulfil the promises they made when they assumed power, which includes rights to women and an ethnically inclusive government. (IANS/JB)

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