03:05 pm NEW DELHI: Over 41.6 per cent of the 10.17 crore voters have exercised their franchise till 1 pm in the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections. Jharkhand witnessed an impressive turnout with 52.9 percent of the voters casting their votes so far. Nearly 49.8 percent of the electorate in West Bengal also marked their presence at the polling booth despite incidents of violence across the state. Fifty-nine seats, including PM Modi's constituency Varanasi, are voting today in the seventh and final phase of the, reports NDTV. Over 10.17 crore voters across seven states and one Union Territory will decide the fate of 918 candidates. The Bharatiya Janata Party or the BJP had won 30 of the 59 seats in the 2014 elections. Voting will be held for 13 parliamentary constituencies each in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, nine seats in West Bengal, Bihar (8), Madhya Pradesh (8), Himachal Pradesh (4), Jharkhand (3) and Chandigarh (1) today. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is contesting in 11 seats, while its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) is contesting Mirzapur, currently held by Union minister Anupriya Patel, and Robertsganj. The party has fielded Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan from Gorakhpur against Congress's Madhusudan Tripathi and Rambhual Nishad of the Samajwadi Party, NDTV reported.
05:05 pm Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in Delhi today and discussed firming up a non-BJP front to keep the ruling party out of power after results of the national election are declared next week. He also met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in the capital, reports NDTV. The Telugu Desam Chief's efforts come ahead of a mega meet of opposition leaders on May 23, hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, to prepare for the possibility of a less than a decisive verdict. Mr Naidu, 69, is also likely to meet Uttar Pradesh alliance partners Mayawati and Akhilesh this evening in Lucknow, NDTV reported. He met CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal on Friday and discussed with them the possibility of a tie-up in the post-results scenario.
11:05 am The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on May 16, 2019, was 35.99 BCM, which is 22% of the total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This percentage was at 24 for the week ending on May 09, 2019. The level of water storage in the week ending on May 16, 2019, was 115% of the storage of the corresponding period of last year and 105% of storage of average of the last ten years. The total storage capacity of these 91 reservoirs is 161.993 BCM which is about 63% of the total storage capacity of 257.812 BCM which is estimated to have been created in the country. 37 Reservoirs out of these 91 have hydropower benefit with an installed capacity of more than 60 MW. REGION WISE STORAGE STATUS:- NORTHERN REGION The northern region includes States of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. There are six reservoirs under CWC monitoring having a total live storage capacity of 18.01 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 8.54 BCM which is 47% of the total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during the corresponding period of last year was 16% and the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period was 26% of the live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during the current year is better than the corresponding period of last year and is also better than the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period. EASTERN REGION The Eastern region includes States of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Tripura. There are 15 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having a total live storage capacity of 18.83 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 5.04 BCM which is 27% of the total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during the corresponding period of last year was 30% and the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period was 25% of the live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during the current year is less than the corresponding period of last year but is better than the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period. WESTERN REGION The Western region includes the States of Gujarat and Maharashtra. There are 27 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having a total live storage capacity of 31.26 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 4.10 BCM which is 13% of the total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during the corresponding period of last year was 18% and the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period was 22% of the live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during the current year is less than the storage of last year and is also less than the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period. CENTRAL REGION The Central region includes States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. There are 12 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having a total live storage capacity of 42.30 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 11.44 BCM which is 27% of the total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during the corresponding period of last year was 25% and the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period was 23% of the live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during the current year is better than the storage of last year and is also better than the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period. SOUTHERN REGION The Southern region includes States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states), Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There are 31 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having a total live storage capacity of 51.59 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 6.86 BCM which is 13% of the total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during the corresponding period of last year was 13% and the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period was 16% of the live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during the current year is equal to the corresponding period of last year but is less than the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period. States having better storage than last year for corresponding period are Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. States having equal storage than last year for corresponding period are Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states) Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Rajasthan, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
11:05 pm Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, "was a deshbhakt (patriot), is a deshbhakt and will remain one," the BJP's Pragya Singh Thakur said today, adding to her growing list of controversial statements. Amid wide condemnation, even from the BJP, she later claimed that she would "follow the party's line" and the party's line was her line, reports NDTV. But she stopped short of an apology, despite BJP leaders calling for one. "It was my personal opinion. My intention was not to hurt anyone's sentiments. If I've hurt anyone I do apologise. What Gandhi Ji has done for the country cannot be forgotten. My statement has been twisted by the media," she told news agency ANI. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi attacked the BJP, saying just disowning the egregious comment of Pragya Thakur was not enough, NDTV reported.
06:05 pm KOLKATA: Amid the huge political row over yesterday's violence during a rally of BJP chief Amit Shah in Kolkata, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today declared that Mamata Banerjee has taken "revenge". The Bengal Chief Minister, he said, is afraid of the outcome of the election and is "scared of her own shadow". The BJP and the Trinamool Congress have been at loggerheads since yesterday over the violence, during which a statue of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar -- a 19th Century reformer and an iconic figure in the state -- was smashed. The parties have blamed each other for the vandalism, reports NDTV. "Mamata didi had declared publicly two days ago that she will take revenge (inch inch ka badla). She fulfilled her agenda within 24 hours, BJP President Amit Shah's roadshow was attacked," PM Modi said at a rally in Bengal. This, he said, was "intimidatory tactics" from the Bengal Chief Minister, who swept to power in the state in 2011, ending the 35-year Left rule. "Mamata didi got scared after seeing the BJP wave in the state. And everyone now knows what she is capable of when scared", NDTV reported.
08:05 pm Saudi Arabia has confirmed that two pump stations on its East-West pipeline were attacked by armed drones, however, asserted that its supplies and exports of crude oil and products are operating normally without interruption. In a statement, Khalid A. Al Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, said that on Tuesday, 14th May 2019, between 06:00 and 06:30, Pump Stations Nos. 8 and 9 on the East-West pipeline, which carries Saudi oil from the Eastern Province to Yanbu port, were attacked by armed drones, igniting a fire that caused minor damage to Pump Station No. 8, but it was eventually brought under control. Saudi Aramco took precautionary measures and temporarily stopped the operation of the pipeline, as it is evaluating the situation and working on restoring the operations of the affected pump station and the pipeline, according to the Saudi state news agency, SPA. Al Falih asserted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemns this attack, emphasising that the latest acts of terrorism and sabotage in the Arabian Gulf targeting vital facilities do not only target the Kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy. "These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran," the minister added.
07:05 pm The WTO Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries concluded in New Delhi today. The Ministerial Meeting began last evening with a dinner hosted by the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu. The Director-General of WTO, Roberto Azevedo, was also present during the dinner. In his address at the dinner, Suresh Prabhu said that the New Delhi Meeting is taking place at a time when trade tensions show no signs of abating and protectionist tendencies are on the rise which makes it very essential to collectively debate and discuss the way forward in a multilateral framework. Commerce Minister added that the New Delhi Ministerial Meeting is an initiative by India to facilitate a free and frank exchange of views on all issues of common interest, particularly of the Developing Countries and will explore how to collectively address the challenges emerging from suggestions on WTO reform. In his address at the dinner last night, DG, WTO, Roberto Azevedo, said that the reform process will mitigate the current crisis at WTO and talk about destroying the existing system is not the correct way and may not have the desired outcome. DG, WTO suggested for working in the existing system. He further said that the Dispute Settlement crisis is a deep crisis and all countries have to look for a resolution. Business as usual approach is not an option anymore and all members should work for a solution. Roberto Azevedo said that plurilateral should not be seen as a division between Developed and Developing Countries as they contain members from both sides. He further said that the Special and Differential Treatment Mechanism must be innovative in order to address the impasse. If left unaddressed it may go either way, he said. The ideal way is to have a benchmark because the differentiation is already happening and is essential for Small Developing Countries. DG, WTO further added that the best way forward is to have a trade-facilitation-agreement-type model where countries may set their own benchmarks. In the inaugural session of the Ministerial Meeting, today morning, Suresh Prabhu said that there are 7.3 billion people living in Developing Countries and they cannot and should not be deprived of the benefits of growth and WTO is an institution which addresses these concerns of development and growth of countries through trade and not aid. The Commerce Minister added that he is certain that the efforts of the New Delhi Ministerial Meeting will definitely lead to a WTO which is better than what it is today. The Multilateral Trading System is the collective responsibility of all countries who have a stake in it. It is the duty of countries to successfully address conflicting interests, motives and ideologies, in order to preserve and strengthen this valuable institution, the Minister added. The principles of non-discrimination, predictability, transparency, the tradition of decision-making by consensus and, most importantly, the commitment to development, underlying the multilateral trading system, are too valuable to lose, he said. The approach of the New Delhi Ministerial Meeting is to re-energise and strengthen multilateralism and put in place a more inclusive decision - making process. Towards this end, it is essential that the collective view of as many Developing Countries as possible is formally articulated in submissions on WTO reforms.
08:05 pm Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a successful flight test of ABHYAS - High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) from Interim Test Range, Chandipur in Odisha today. The flight test was tracked by various RADARS & Electro Optic Systems and proved its performance in a fully autonomous waypoint navigation mode. The configuration of ABHYAS is designed on an in-line small gas turbine engine and uses indigenously developed MEMS-based navigation system for its navigation and guidance. The performance of the system was as per simulations carried out and demonstrated the capability of ABHYAS to meet the mission requirement for a cost-effective HEAT.
06:05 pm Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has called for an enlightened global leadership to ensure a conflict-free world order based on peace and sustainable development and asserted that Buddhism promotes such transformation. He asserted that adhering to the core principles of Buddhism can liberate individual minds and provide the much desired positive leadership that can rescue the troubled humanity besides addressing a just and responsive world order. Naidu elaborated on the virtues of Buddhism and its relevance to the present times while delivering the keynote address at the 16th United Nations Day of Vesak, at Tam Chuc Pagoda in Ha Nam province of Vietnam today, on the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart. He spoke on the theme “Buddhist Approach to Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Sustainable Societies”. The Prime Minister of Vietnam, Mr. Nguven Xuan Phuc, the President of National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and the President of UN Day of Vesak Celebration 2019, Dr. Thic Thien Nhon and over 1600 leading Buddhist from several countries were among the participants. ‘Vesak’ marks the birth, enlightenment and the Parinirvana of Lord Buddha whose teaching has caught the imagination of people across the world over the last 2,500 years. Naidu said “Buddhist approach of righteous behavior, wisdom, compassion and camaraderie and reduction of Trishna (greed) offers a set of building blocks for the architecture of a new world order where violence and conflict are minimized and development takes place without degrading the natural resources. He referred to the transformation from Ashoka-the-Fierce to Ashoka-the-Righteous after the Kalinga War inspired by the Buddha’s teachings.
01:05 pm First AH-64E (I) - Apache Guardian helicopter was formally handed over to the Indian Air Force at Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona, USA. Air Marshal AS Butola, represented the Indian Air Force and accepted the first Apache in a ceremony at Boeing production facility, representatives from US Government were also present. IAF had signed a contract with US Government and M/s Boeing Ltd in Sep 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters. The first batch of these helicopters is scheduled to be shipped to India by Jul this year. Selected aircrew and ground crew have undergone training at the training facilities at US Army base Fort Rucker, Alabama. This personnel will lead the operationalisation of the Apache fleet in the IAF. The addition of AH-64 E (I) helicopter is a significant step towards modernisation of Indian Air Force’s helicopter fleet. The helicopter has been customized to suit IAF’s future requirements and would have significant capability in mountainous terrain. The helicopter has the capability to carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from the ground. The ability of these helicopters, to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking makes it a lethal acquisition. These attack helicopters will provide a significant edge in any future joint operations in support of land forces.