Govt seeks detailed report as Vistara crisis deepens with more flight delays, cancellations

News Network
April 2, 2024


New Delhi: At least 38 Vistara flights originating from key cities were cancelled this morning as the airline reeled under non-availability of pilots. As many as 15 flights taking off from Mumbai, 12 from Delhi and 11 from Bengaluru were among those cancelled.

This comes after more than 50 Vistara flights were cancelled yesterday and about 160 delayed. Passengers had yesterday complained of poor communication and hours-long wait at the airport and slammed the airline for harassing passengers.

Vistara said in a statement yesterday that they have faced a "significant number" of flight cancellations and delays in the past few days "due to various reasons including crew unavailability".

"We acknowledge and are deeply concerned about the inconvenience this has caused to our customers. Having said that, our teams are working towards minimizing the discomfort to the customers," it said.

The airline has also said that it has decided to temporarily reduce the number of flights it operates "to ensure adequate connectivity across our network".

"We have also deployed larger aircraft like our B787-9 Dreamliner and A321neo on select domestic routes to combine flights or accommodate more number of customers, wherever possible. Furthermore, we are offering alternate flight options or refunds to affected customers, as applicable. Once again, we understand that these disruptions have caused immense discomfort to our customers, and sincerely apologise to them for the same. We are working towards stabilizing the situation and will resume operating our regular capacity very soon," the statement added.

Vistara pilots, it is learnt, are calling in sick as they protest the revised salary structure ahead of the airline's merger with Air India. The pilots have been sent the revised pay structure over mail and asked to sign on short notice. The pilots have been warned that those who don't sign will be left out of the merger.

Their flights cancelled or delayed by hours, fliers have taken to social media to express their grievances. The airline has been reiterating that the delays have been caused by operational issues and that it is working on them.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has sought a detailed report from Vistara regarding flight cancellations and major delays, a senior official has told news agency ANI.

Passengers are advised to check flight status with the airline before leaving for the airport to avoid long wait and inconvenience.


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News Network
April 4,2024


Bengaluru: Former Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader KS Eshwarappa returned empty handed after he failed to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday. Eshwarappa who has rebelled against the Karnataka state leadership then returned to Shivamogga.

After this, Eshwarappa reiterated that he is going to contest against former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's son and incumbent MP B Y Raghavendra in Shivamogga as he had announced earlier.

“I received a call from Mr. Shah on Tuesday morning when he arrived in Bengaluru during which he invited me to Delhi to discuss in person the reasons for my rebellion. But after coming to Delhi, I got a call from his office stating that he is not available to meet me,” Eshwarappa told mediapersons in Delhi. 

He said "No more talks and will take his fight to a logical end and he will contest from Shivamogga."

Putting up a condition he said, State BJP president B Y Vijayendra must be removed from president post then only he will agree to withdraw his decision not to contest in Shivamogga.

Attacking BS Yediyurappa and family saying "One family holding powers of state BJP which is hurting the sentiments of Hindu karyakarthas and BJP workers."

Earlier, ahead of the seeking the meeting with Amit Shah, Eshwarappa had made it clear that he will not change his decision to contest the election unless the state BJP president BY Vijayendra, son of former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, is replaced before the polls.

Eshwarappa said his fight is against the control of the BJP in the state "by one family".

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to say that Congress has a family culture. Similarly, the BJP is in the hands of one family in the state. The party should be freed from that family. Party workers are hurt. I will compete and contest to relieve the pain of workers," he said.

He said the work of those who fought for Hindutva ideology and the organization should be respected. "I'm contesting to fix the mess. I will not step back from the decision, I will pay my respects to you and come to Delhi," the BJP leader said.

Eshwarappa said his son had told him that even if he does not get a political future, "the party should be cleansed".

Voting for Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka will be held in two phases on April 26 and May 7 for 28 constituencies. Shivamogga will go to the polls on May 7.


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News Network
April 5,2024


New Delhi: The Congress has released its manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha election, with jobs creation, development of infrastructure, and a national caste census among the major highlights.

The manifesto was released in Delhi by party boss Mallikarjun Kharge, who was flanked by senior leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram - who led the committee that drafted the document - was also present.

"This manifesto will be 'nyay ka dastavez' (a document for justice) in the political history of the country. From the five pillars of the 'Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra' - yuva (youth), kisan (farmers), naari (women), shramik (workers), and hissedari (equity), 25 guarantees will emerge... ," Mr Kharge said.

The overall theme of the manifesto is based on 'work', 'wealth', and 'welfare', the party said.

"'Work' means you must provide jobs. 'Wealth' must be created before it is distributed. 'Welfare' means taking care of the poorer sections," the Congress said.

Silent on CAA

While the manifesto is silent on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act and restoration of Article 370, the party promises immediate restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

Caste Census

One of the biggest talking points is the caste census - a political hot topic that has been in the headlines since the Bihar government's statewide survey was released in November.

The 48-page document promises to amend the Constitution to raise the 50 per cent cap on reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs, with Caste Census providing the latest data to go ahead with the affirmative action. Addressing land issues, the party also pledges to establish an authority to monitor the distribution of government land and surplus land under the land ceiling Acts to the poor.

MSP for Farmers

The party has also promised to implement MSP, or minimum support price, for farmer growing cash crops. The MSP issue has been at the heart of protests by farmers since 2020, when lakhs from across the country went on a months-long agitation against the centre's (now-scrapped) three farm laws.

The Congress has said it will give a permanent legal guarantee for MSP - a core demand for protesting farmers - based on the formula recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.

"Congress has been the only party that has lent its ear to the distress of the farmers and farm labourers, and we are determined to do everything possible to alleviate their pain and make agriculture a desirable livelihood," the party said, attacking the BJP's response to the farmers protest as "callous and brutal".


The party also vowed to eliminate poverty by improving the fortunes of 23 crore people over the next decade. Mr Chidambaram attacked the BJP as a "government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich", and said it is "driven by the interests of the top 1 per cent".

"... but we will look at the bottom 50 per cent. The bottom 50 per cent is as important. It has been estimated 23 crore people are still poor in this country. The UPA lifted 24 crore people out of poverty and we promise, if the Congress-led government comes to power in 2024, we will lift 23 crore in 10 years."

As part of this promise - and to empower women - the Congress said it would launch a 'Mahalakshmi' scheme to provide an unconditional cash transfer of Rs 1 lakh per year to the oldest female member of every poor family.  Beneficiaries will be identified as those from the bottom level of the income pyramid.

Inequality of income and opportunity remain India's ugliest truth. It is the moral and political responsibility of any government to ensure that every family is assured of a basic income every month, the party said.

National Security, China

The Congress said it "recognises that national security is not enhanced by chest-thumping or exaggerated claims, but by quiet attention to borders and resolute defence preparedness".

The party said it would work to restore status quo on the country's borders with China and "ensure areas where both armies patrolled in the past are again accessible to our soldiers".

This has been seen as a direct jab at the BJP over the military stand-off with China in parts of eastern Ladakh following violence in June 2020 that, the opposition has repeatedly claimed, led to New Delhi surrendering territory to Beijing.

On diplomatic tension with Maldives, the Congress said it work to "repair relations".


Universal free healthcare, including cost of diagnosis, surgery, and medication, will be made available, the party said. This will come with cashless insurance up to ₹ 25 lakh, like the model implemented in Rajasthan, when the Congress was in power.

"We promise that healthcare will be universal and free in public health centres, such as hospitals, clinics, PHCs, MHCs, and dispensaries, as well as health camps. Free healthcare will include examination, diagnosis, treatment, surgery, medicines, rehabilitation, and palliative care."

The Congress said it would also establish Assisted Living and Care Centres for disabled people and provide representation for them in local bodies.

Other Major Points

In a move likely to resonate strongly among unemployed youth struggling with massive loan debts, the party said it would "as a one-time measure of relief" write off all student educational loans, including unpaid interest. This amount will be calculated as on March 15.

Banks will be compensated by the government, the Congress said.

The party said it would also introduce a law to "recognise civil unions between couples belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community".

The Congress said it would amend laws to "combine the efficiency of EVM and transparency of ballot papers". "Voting will be through the EVM but the voter will be able to hold and deposit the machine-generated voting slip into the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) unit," the party said.

2024 Lok Sabha Election

The election will be spread over seven phases beginning April 19. Votes will be declared June 4.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP - which is yet to release its manifesto - are bidding for a third consecutive term.  They face a combined challenge from the opposition, which has united (for the most part) under the INDIA banner led by the Congress. 


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News Network
April 17,2024


New Delhi: Searches conducted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the anti-money laundering law rose by 86 times while arrests and attachment of assets jumped by around 25 times in the ten years since 2014 compared to the preceding nine-year period, according to official data.

An analysis of the data by PTI for the last ten years, between April 2014 and March 2024, against the nine years from July 2005 to March 2014 presents a picture of the federal agency's "intensified" action under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The PMLA was enacted in 2002 and implemented from July 1, 2005, to check serious crimes of tax evasion, generation of black money and money laundering.

While the opposition parties have alleged that the ED's action during the last decade was part of the BJP-led central government's "oppressive" tactics against its rivals and others, the Union government and the ruling party have asserted that the agency is independent and its investigations were purely based on merit and under the mandate to act against the corrupt.

The ED booked as many as 5,155 PMLA cases during the last ten years as compared to a total of 1,797 complaints or Enforcement Case Information Reports (ECIRs or FIRs) filed during the preceding period (2005-14), a jump of about three times, the data said.

The data shows that the agency also got its first conviction starting the 2014 fiscal and it has, till now, got 63 persons punished under the anti-money laundering law.

The ED conducted 7,264 searches or raids in money laundering cases across the country during the 2014-2024 period as compared to just 84 in the preceding period - a jump of 86 times.

It also arrested a total of 755 people during the last decade and attached assets worth Rs 1,21,618 crore as compared to 29 arrests and Rs 5,086.43 crore worth of attachments respectively during the last compared period, the data stated.

The arrests are 26 times more, while figures related to the attachment of properties are 24 times higher.

The agency issued 1,971 provisional attachment orders for various types of immovable and movable assets during the last decade as compared to 311 such orders taken out in the preceding comparable period.

It got about 84 per cent of the attachment orders confirmed from the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA during 2014-24 as compared to 68 per cent confirmations from the same authority during the last compared period.

The filing of charge sheets also saw a jump of 12 times in the last decade with 1,281 prosecution complaints filed by it before courts as against 102 during the preceding period.

The data said the ED secured conviction orders in 36 cases from various courts leading to the prosecution of 63 persons and a total of 73 charge sheets were disposed of during the last decade.

No conviction was obtained by the agency nor any charge sheet was disposed of under the anti-money laundering law during the 2005-14 period, according to the statistics.

The agency also got the court's permission to confiscate assets (attached as proceeds of crime under the PMLA) worth Rs 15,710.96 crore and it also restituted properties (including bank funds) of Rs 16,404.19 crore (out of the total amount under confiscation) during the last decade.

As there were no convictions during the preceding nine-year period, no confiscation of assets and resultant restitution could take place, as per the data.

The ED is also empowered to seize cash under the PMLA and the data said the agency froze more than Rs 2,310 crore worth of Indian and foreign currency during the last ten years as compared to a figure of Rs 43 lakh during the preceding period.

The agency also got notified a total of 24 Interpol red notices for apprehension of various accused who left India and hid in foreign shores and sent 43 extradition requests during 2014-24.

No such action was taken by the agency during the preceding period.

Four persons were extradited to India during the last ten-year time period while similar orders were secured against businessmen Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Sanjay Bhandari. The three are based in the UK and the ED is trying to bring them back to the country as all the accused are contesting the orders issued against them.

"These statistics reflect the intensive drive that the ED has undertaken to check money laundering crimes," an agency official said.

The ED investigates financial crimes under two criminal laws -- the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA) -- apart from the civil provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

The FEOA was enacted by the Narendra Modi government in 2018 to cripple those who are charged with high-value economic frauds and abscond from the country to evade the law.

The ED, as per the data, filed a total of 19 such applications before the designated special PMLA courts in the country following which 12 persons have been declared fugitive economic offenders.

It also confiscated assets worth Rs 906 crore under the said law by the end of the last fiscal on March 31.


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