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NEW DELHI: The government will now provide a 50% subsidy on the transportation cost of notified fruits and vegetables that will be carried by Kisan Rail from surplus production clusters to consumption centres. This subsidy can be availed by individual farmers, food processors, cooperative societies, retailers, state and cooperative marketing agencies till December 11.

The notified items include mango, banana, guava, papaya, citrus, pineapple, pomegranate and jack fruit in fruits and the list of vegetables include onion, potato, tomato, French beans, brinjal, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower and okra. The Railway Board made this announcement on Tuesday, just a day before fourth Kisan rail from Nagpur is scheduled for the flag off.

The subsidy will be borne by the food processing industries ministry (MoFPI), which is implementing Operation Greens from Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP) to all fruits & vegetables (TOTAL) under the AtmaNirbhar initiative. The ministry had extended the subsidy scheme till December 11.

The objective of intervention is to protect the fruits and vegetables growers from making distress sale due to lockdown and reduce the post-harvest losses.

The Railway Board on Tuesday wrote to principal chief commercial managers of all zones that the food processing industries ministry has agreed to extend a subsidy on transportation of the notified fruits and vegetables through Kisan Rail trains and it will initially provide Rs 10 crore to operate the scheme, which will be deposited with South Central Railway.

“Once this corpus has been utilized, Indian Railways will provide a utilization certificate to MoFPI, and MoFPI will provide additional funds to Railways. Zonal railways are, therefore, requested to extend a subsidy of 50% on transportation of notified fruits and vegetables through Kisan Rail trains – with immediate effect,” the Board said.

The railways has announced to run more Kisan trains as and when it receives requests from the state governments. Transportation of fruits and vegetables by train is cheaper than ferrying these produce by trucks and additional subsidy will make railways more attractive for transporting these perishable items.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

PM greets Bengal on Durga Puja, calls for Covid caution

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NEW DELHI: Addressing the people of West Bengal on the sixth day of Durga Puja on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people once again to remain vigilant and not lower their guard in the country’s fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Apnader sakalke janai Durga Puja o Kali Pujar shubhechha (Durga Puja and Deepavali greetings to all),” the PM said in Bengali while appealing to revellers to celebrate Puja with caution.

After recalling several measures towards women empowerment, he appealed to the people to adhere to social distancing norms (“do gaj ki doori”) and wear masks while taking part in festivities. “We are celebrating Durga Puja in times of Covid-19, all devotees have shown exemplary restraint. The number of people might be less but the grandeur and devotion are the same. This is the real Bengal,” he said while sharing his ‘Pujor Shubecha’ (Puja greetings) message.

BJP had made elaborate arrangements for live telecast of the PM’s virtual address from the national capital. It was televised live at over 78,000 polling booths across the state’s 294 assembly constituencies. After decades of limited presence in the state, BJP emerged as the main rival to Trinamool Congress (TMC), winning 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections.

Modi is the first PM to inaugurate Durga pujas in Kolkata, Howrah, Ranaghat, Barasat, Midnapore, Bankura, Malda and Siliguri that have already figured on the BJP’s political map eight months ahead of assembly polls, which may take place around April-May next year.

Combining the spiritual with present-day reality, Modi also urged people to respect girls and described the Mother Goddess as the source of power and peace. “We should respect girls because woman power has the potential to defeat all forces,” he said.

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INDIA

Opposition, internet activists slam Kerala ordinance

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala government’s decision to introduce a new section (118A) in the Kerala Police Act to check increasing abuse in social media and cybercrime is “anti-democratic and fascist” as it will enable police to register cases against anyone, including the mainstream media, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said on Thursday.

“If the government goes ahead with the ordinance, it will be fought legally as well as politically,” he said.

Allaying fears, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “The amendment is not intended to curb creative freedom or to intervene in the right to free speech. It is a known fact that there are attempts to defame persons widely and there are demands for an effective legal remedy.”

Internet rights activists said the amendment was more draconian than 66A of the IT Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

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INDIA

UP cop suspended for sporting beard

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MEERUT: A beard grown and kept “despite warnings” has led to the suspension of subinspector Intesar Ali in UP’s Baghpat. While SP Abhishek Singh said Ali did not have authorisation, as rules require, Ali insisted he had sought permission to keep his beard but hadn’t heard back from his seniors.

“I had applied for permission to my circle officer in November 2019. It was forwarded to senior officials,” Ali, posted at Ramala police station, told TOI on Thursday. “This is a matter of faith and a just demand. I will request my superiors to consider my request again.”

The 46-year-old has been serving with the police for the past 25 years and was posted at Ramala this March.

A statement from the local police said Ali had been “warned on several occasions and was served a notice over the dress code.” The Baghpat SP said, “UP police uniform rules are clear… He had been warned several times. A notice was served, but his indiscipline continued. A beard is allowed on a permanent basis only for followers of Sikhism. The armed forces also allow that because the beard is an integral part of their faith. It is not the case with Islam.”

Police uniform rules in India do not allow beard, though moustache is allowed.

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