Hours after a controversy broke out when Trinamool Congress (TMC) Minister Arup Biswas used a red beacon on his vehicle, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that he had “not done anything wrong” as the State government is yet to pass any law in this regard.Earlier in the day, Mr. Biswas was seen using a red beacon on his vehicle in the Darjeeling district. The Centre from May 1 has banned the use of a red beacon on any vehicle.“Arup Biswas has not done anything wrong. We are yet to pass any law [regarding the use of a red beacon],” Ms. Banerjee told journalists at Nabanna, the State secretariat. She further accused the Centre of “imposing” restrictions on the use of a red beacon, which comes under the Concurrent List. “We have written to the Centre in this regard but are yet to receive any response,” said Ms. Banerjee.Pointing out that she does not use a red beacon on her vehicle in Kolkata and adjoining areas, Ms. Banerjee argued that the State’s ministers and bureaucrats have to use the red beacon while travelling on National Highways because of security reasons. “Earlier, it sufficed to have a red beacon but now, as a result of the Centre’s decision, an escort vehicle along with security personnel will be required. This will increase the government’s expenditure,” the Chief Minister said.‘No consultation’She further criticised the Centre for neither discussing the matter with State governments nor giving them any time to figure out an alternative to the red beacon. “The order [banning the red beacon] was passed without any hearing [consultation with State governments],” said Ms. Banerjee.Earlier in the day, Mr. Biswas said that the “State government has not banned it [red beacon on vehicles].”In April, the Centre announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided to scrap a rule that allowed the Central and State governments to select dignitaries who would be allowed to use a red beacon to on their vehicles. The authority of the State governments to decide who could use flashing blue lights on their vehicles was also taken away.
Terming the axing of trees in Aarey Colony as “shameful and disgusting”, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on Saturday tweeted that the Mumbai Metro 3 officials should be posted in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) to destroy terror camps rather than trees. In a series of tweets, he also said that several environmentalists and even local Shiv Sena members tried to stop the tree felling. The Yuva Sena chief went on to say that with the increased police presence and deforestation, Mumbai Metro 3 is destroying everything that India had said at the United Nations (UN). He said Shiv Sena leaders Sheetal Mhatre, Shubha Raul and MLA Sunil Prabhu have been standing up in support of the citizens. “Wonder why Mumbai Metro is treating Mumbaikars like criminals and not listening to their sensible demand of sustainable development,” Mr. Thackeray said. The Central government ministry of climate change doesn’t need to exist or speak about plastic pollution, when Mumbai Metro 3 is senselessly destroying Aarey, Mumbai’s green lung, he added. “This ego battle taken up by Metro 3 is destroying the purpose of making it,” the 29-year-old leader, who is contesting the Assembly election from Worli constituency in Mumbai, said. “The vigour with which the Mumbai Metro 3 is slyly and swiftly cutting down an ecosystem in Aarey is shameful and disgusting. How about posting these officials in POK giving them charge to destroy terror camps rather than trees,” Mr. Thackeray tweeted. “A project that should be executed with pride, the Metro 3, Mumbai Metro 3 had to do it in the cover of the night, with shame, slyness and heavy cop cover. The project supposed to get Mumbai clean air, is hacking a forest with a leopard, rusty spotted cat and more,” he said in another tweet. The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) started cutting trees from Friday evening to make way for its car shed, hours after the Bombay High Court dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and activists challenging the decision to allow felling of trees in the prime green lung of the city.
“The Moscow laboratory operated for the protection of “The Moscow laboratory operated for the protection of doped Russian athletes within a state-dictated failsafe system,” McLaren said. “The Sochi laboratory operated a unique sample swapping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Winter Olympic Games,” he added. McLaren did not make any recommendations on sanctions. But the call by WADA is likely to followed up by the United States and Canadian anti-doping agencies. Both had said before the reports release that a blanket ban on Russia from Rio, which starts August 5, should be considered if the evidence was damning. “The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athletes analytical results or sample swapping and the active participation and assistance of the FSB (Russian Federal Security Service), CSP (Center of Sports Preparation for Russian athletes) and both Moscow and Sochi laboratories,” McLaren said. WADA mandated McLaren to investigate allegations made by former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov in May. Rodchenkov is now in hiding in the United States and wanted by Russian authorities. McLaren called the Rodchenkov “a credible and truthful person” despite admitting to concocting doping cocktails for Russian athletes. “I realize there are other aspects of his life that are not appropriate,” McLaren said. “I didnt need to get into that.” McLaren dismissed any notion that having less than two months to conduct the investigation or the reluctance of some witnesses to come forward compromised the results. “Im supremely confident in our findings,” McLaren said. “Weve had a very intense 57 days.” McLaren said his report was handed over to WADA on Saturday and had not been leaked in advance. He said a US-Canadian letter pushing for a total ban on Russian competitors at Rio was based on “rampant speculation” about the findings. “I dont think it has any impact whatsoever on the report and I pay no attention to it,” McLaren said. “Im positive the report was not leaked. What others did was all speculation.” (MORE) AFP KHS KHSadvertisement
Save the Children and other leading humanitarian agencies have published an open letter calling on the parties to the Syrian conflict meeting in Geneva to urgently focus on the plight of children.The 14 signatories also include Antonio Gutteres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; David Miliband, President of the International Rescue Committee; Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF.The letter marks the first time top humanitarian agencies have come together to publicly call on all sides to take measures to allow lifesaving aid to reach children trapped inside Syria and prevent them from being targets of violence.More than 11,000 children have died in this conflict already, 71 percent of them killed indiscriminately by explosive weapons used in towns and cities.“With the parties in Syria’s conflict meeting in Geneva tomorrow, we believe the time has come to urgently focus on the plight of children. Over 11,000 Syrian children have already lost their lives,” reads the letter. “From the shelling of residential areas to attacks on schools and hospitals, children are being targeted. More than 4 million children have been forced to flee their homes, including over a million who have fled the country altogether. Many are traumatized, hungry, and in urgent need of shelter and protection. Scandalously, aid cannot reach the children who need it the most. Hundreds of thousands of children are trapped in conflict zones and are receiving little or no humanitarian assistance at all.“Every child in Syria who is hurt, or killed, or loses a loved one, represents yet another failure by the international community. We hereby commit to becoming champions for Syria’s children, speaking out for their rights at every opportunity. An entire generation is being lost to violence. All of us bear a responsibility to save these children.”Save the Children, the world’s leading independent organization focused on the needs of children, wants the Geneva II participants to make protecting children the first item on their agenda. It called on all parties to commit to the following:• Allow lifesaving aid to reach children inside Syria • Protect schools and health facilities • Prevent the use of explosive weapons in populated areas“Children in Syria are experiencing an unrelenting brutality of war. Four million children have been forced to leave their homes and children are frequent victims of violence that leaves them severely injured or dead. This tragedy is man-made, and it is within the power of the warring parties to stop it,” said Save the Children President & CEO Carolyn Miles.“The first item on the agenda at Geneva II must be protecting children,” Miles added. “The parties have already demonstrated the power of political will when they began moving chemical weapons out of Syria. We need to see the same political will to ensure that even if the fighting continues, children and other civilians are no longer targeted.”“Save the Children’s three-point plan to protect the children of Syria is about ending the appalling situation that places the most vulnerable directly in harm’s way. If parties to the talks come together to make these three things happen, fewer children will die. It is that simple,” Miles said.Save the Children has reached 900,000 people through its regional response to the Syrian crisis, including more than 300,000 within Syria Itself. The agency’s response includes supporting mothers to ensure babies are kept healthy and fed, preventing malnutrition and providing communities with food, safe water, medicine and shelter.Save the Children is also working to help children overcome their traumatic experiences through emotional support and play therapy, and helping them to return to getting an education.The agency said that approximately 4.5 million children inside Syria need assistance.