India to resume international flights from Dec 15, barring 14 countries

News Network
November 26, 2021

New Delhi, Nov 26: The Centre will resume regular international flights from December 15, barring 14 countries, people familiar with the development said on Friday. 

The countries which do not feature on the list are the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Singapore, sources said. 

The decision has been taken in consultation with the health ministry in light of the Covid situation across the world, especially the emergence of new variants. On Thursday, South Africa confirmed a new variant of Coronavirus which is believed to be more transmissible and vaccine-evasive. 

The variant has been reported in Botswana and Hong Kong as well apart from South Africa. India is not resuming regular international flight operations with Botswana and South Africa.

With some of the countries on the list India has a travel bubble that permits a certain number of flights a week, which will continue, officials explained.

Regular international flights operations were suspended in March 2020 owing to the Coronavirus pandemic. The civil aviation ministry started Vande Bharat flights to ferry Indians who got stuck in other countries during the pandemic. After the Vande Bharat flights, the ministry entered into air bubble agreements with some countries allowing international travel.

With the number of Covid cases steadily going down and the vaccine coverage in the country going up, the Centre was mulling easing restrictions regarding international travel. Two days ago, civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal said the ministry is working towards allowing international passenger flights from this year-end.

Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia too recently expressed the ministry's keenness to resume normal international travel operations. “We are evaluating the process. We are coming back to normalcy. First, we allowed 100% passenger capacity in our domestic flights and now we allowed in-flight meals in those flights," Scindia said at an industry summit.

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News Network
January 11,2022

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New Delhi, Jan 11: The new rules for international passengers travelling to India come into effect from Tuesday, January 11. As per new rules, foreign travellers will have to undergo mandatory quarantine for seven days in view of the Covid-19 situation in the country.

All travellers who need to undertake testing on arrival have been advised to pre-book a self-paid Covid-19 test online on Air Suvidha Portal.  

1. The passengers need to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal and upload a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR report, conducted within 72 hours, prior to undertaking the journey.

2. On arrival in India, passengers will undergo thermal screening by the health officials present at the airport. The self-declaration form filled online shall be shown to the airport health staff. After testing

3. All travellers (including those 2 per cent who were selected for random testing on arrival and were found negative) will undergo home quarantine for seven days and shall undertake RT-PCR test on the eighth day

4. The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility as per health protocol. If tested positive, their contacts shall be identified and managed as per laid down protocol.

5. The Centre has also updated its list of 'countries of concern'. The countries included in the list are -- South Africa, countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Israel, Congo, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Zambia.

6. Passengers coming from these at-risk countries will mandatorily undergo post-arrival testing. They will be required to wait for their test results at the arrival before leaving or taking a connecting flight.

7. If tested negative, they will follow, home quarantine for 7 days and shall undertake RT-PCR test on the eighth day of arrival in India.

8. Travelers shall also be required to upload results of repeat RT-PCR test for Covid-19 done on the eighth day on Air Suvidha portal (to be monitored by the respective States/UTs).

9. If tested negative, they will further self-monitor their health for the next seven days.

10. International travellers arriving through seaports/land ports will also have to undergo the same protocol. Children under 5 years of age are exempted from both pre-and post-arrival testing.

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News Network
January 9,2022

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The Congress in Karnataka on Sunday began its 10 days 'padayatra' (march), demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project across the Cauvery river, despite the government's COVID-19 restrictions. Led by Congress' state president D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Siddaramaiah, the padayatra with the theme 'Namma Neeru Namma Hakku' (Our water, Our right) began at the Sangama, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers in Kanakapura here, which will be spanning a distance of over 100 km.

With participation from hundreds of workers, leaders and cultural groups, the principal opposition party in the state is going ahead with the march, as planned, unfazed by the government's warning of action in case of violation of COVID restrictions and rules.

It now remains to be seen what action will the government take, with a large number of people gathering in violation of rules and orders.

The Karnataka government has imposed a curfew on weekends and restricted public gatherings to fight the third wave of COVID-19, till January 19. It has also imposed night curfew, and has prohibited all rallies, dharnas, protests, among others.

Congress has maintained that it will hold the padayatra following COVID rules and guidelines

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah, former Chief Minister Veerappa Moily, and almost all the senior party leaders and legislators were present at the inaugural of the padayatra, that is likely to cove a distance of about 15 km on the day one.

Some religious leaders and film personalities like actor Duniya Vijay, actor and music director Sadhu Kokila, were among others seen at the inaugural.

Projecting it as an apolitical "Walk for Water," the Congress has invited seers of various mutts, organisations, leaders of various political parties, film personalities, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, among others to take part in the march.

Accusing the BJP government of trying to scuttle the padayatra, Siddaramaiah accused the ruling BJP of colluding with Tamil Nadu in delaying the implementation of Mekedatu project.

Claiming that the project was initiated by the Congress government led by him, he alleged that the ruling BJP has betrayed the people of the state by not getting environmental clearance despite being in power for last 2.5 years, and even accused the central government of not giving clearance, as the saffron party wants to expand its base in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

"This padayatra is for getting water to Bengaluru and surrounding areas by implementing Mekedatu project, there is no stay for the project by courts or tribunals or Cauvery Water Management Authority.....Our padayatra will not stop, let how much ever the BJP try to stop it," he added.

Shivakumar, who is also MLA from Kanakapura, hitting out at Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai for trying to "thwart" the padayatra by asking the district administration to issue prohibitory orders, he dared him to arrest them if he could.

"This march is not for the Congress party or for the sake of power, it is for the sake of the people.... Like Congress fought against the British then for India's freedom, today we are fighting against BJP and Janata Dal.... SP (Superintendent of Police), Home Minister- you have issued orders against the law, we will not fear it....we will peacefully march following COVID rules," he added.

The Congress' march from Mekedatu to Bengaluru, covering about 15 of the 224 Assembly constituencies in the state, is demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project, which is being opposed by neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Beginning at Sangama the padayatra is scheduled to pass through Kanakapura, Ramanagara and Bidadi, before culminating at Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on January 19.

Though the padayatra is being projected as apolitical, demanding the implementation of Mekedatu project, it is also seen as Congress' attempt to mobilise its cadres and consolidate its voter base in the old Mysuru region, which is a Vokkaliga bastion, where JD(S) is its traditional rival and the ruling BJP is attempting to make inroads, ahead of 2023 assembly polls.

Much is at stake for Shivakumar, the man behind this march, as several Congress functionaries believe that it is an attempt by the KPCC chief, ahead of assembly polls, to assert his Chief Ministerial ambitions, for which Siddaramaiah is also a strong contender. The party has seen several incidents of political one-upmanship between the two leaders last year.

Shivakumar took a dip in the river and performed pooja at the Sangam ahead of the padayatra's inaugural.

Both ruling BJP and JD(S) have hit out Congress calling its march as a "political stunt" ahead of assembly election next year, and has questioned its morality, accusing the grand old party of not putting any efforts to take the project forward while in power.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has maintained that his government was committed to implement the project.

Karnataka government submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Central Water Commission (CWC) in 2019, which was then referred to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA), where it is stuck currently as Tamil Nadu which is the lower riparian state, has opposed the project tooth and nail.

Karnataka has maintained that the project within its territory will benefit both states as the surplus water stored can be managed between the two during the distress year, and its implementation will in no way affect the interests of Tamil Nadu's farming communities, as there will be no impact on its share of water.

While the neighbouring state is of the view that the project would "impound and divert" the uncontrolled water flow due to Tamil Nadu from Kabini sub- basin, the catchment area below Krishnarajasagara, and also from Simsha, Arkavathy and Suvarnavathi sub-basins besides other small streams.

The Mekedatu multipurpose (drinking and power) project, which involves building a balancing reservoir, near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district of Karnataka.

The project once completed is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring areas (4.75 TMC) and also can generate 400 MW power, and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 9,000 crore.

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News Network
January 6,2022

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Founder of Ittehad-e-Millat Council Tauqeer Raza Khan's call for a 'Dharam Sansad' on Friday has got support from All India Tanzeem ul Islam, which on Thursday asked the community members to gather in large numbers. The protest has been called to offer 'mass sacrifice' in protest against hate speeches delivered in Haridwar.

Raza Khan appealed to muslims of Uttar Pradesh to gather in large numbers at the Islamia School in Bareilly on Friday for "mass sacrifice" in protest against recent hate speeches made in Haridwar.

The announcement was made on Saturday where he said, "the recent Dharam Sansad against which objections were raised by our community was not the first one but it has been happening for many months, but the present government was never ready to hear anything."

"Our ulemas have conducted three meetings but we never called it Dharam Sansad, but the language used in Haridwar can never be used by our ulemas and the ulemas show the path of peace, patriotism and love to disciples," he added.

The cleric said that the hate mongers want to kill 20 lakh Muslims. "We have decided that we are ready for it. I urge the government that they can send their people to kill us and on Friday at least 20,000 Muslims will surrender before them. The best way is that Muslims sacrifice their lives to ensure peace in the country."

Khan has got support of Tanzeem which recently advocated united India as it was in medieval period. Mujahid Hussain Qadri of Tanzeem said that people want to create disharmony between Hindus and Muslims but they will not succeed.

The hate speech was reportedly made during an event in Haridwar held from December 17 to 20. Video clips of the event, circulated on social media, say that "Hindus should arm themselves like those seen in Myanmar, every Hindu must pick up weapons and conduct a Safayi Abhiyan."

The event was organised by Yati Narasimhanand, a controversial religious leader who has been accused in the past of inciting violence.

The Uttrakhand Police have lodged an FIR in the case against Jitendra Narayan Tyagi -- former Shia Waqf board chairman, who recently converted to Hinduism.

In a similar incident, Chhattisgarh Police had arrested Kalicharan Maharaj for allegedly using derogatory language against Mahatma Gandhi from Madhya Pradesh's Khajuraho.

The police had registered an FIR and arrested the religious leader and others for allegedly making derogatory comments on Mahatma Gandhi and praising Nathuram Godse.

The Congress is criticising the delay in action against the accused in Haridwar.

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