Putin calls for better relations with US in congratulatory message to Obama
President Vladimir Putin called for better relations between Russia and the US on Friday in a goodwill message to President Barack Obama on US Independence Day, Reuters said. Putin highlighted that the two states carry exceptional responsibility for safeguarding international stability and security, and should cooperate “in the interests of the whole world,” the Kremlin said.
USS Oscar Austin calls at Lithuanian port
USS Oscar Austin has reportedly called at the port of the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda. The destroyer is making a friendly visit to Klaipeda Seaport, Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defense said. On July 4, President Dalia Grybauskaite, Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas, US Ambassador in Lithuania Deborah McCarthy are expected to visit the vessel, the Baltic Course reported.
Hungary monitors 5 people for suspected anthrax infection
An infection of the deadly anthrax disease has been identified in beef in eastern Hungary, the health authority ANTSZ said on Friday. Five people are being monitored in hospital for suspected infection from the disease, Reuters reported. The disease was identified in frozen beef after two cattle were illegally slaughtered in a farm in the town of Tiszafured, 160km east of Budapest.
Police detain organizers of huge rally in Hong Kong
Police on Friday arrested the organizers of Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy rally since the city was handed back to China, AFP said. Five members of the Civil Human Rights Front, including its convener, were arrested three days after the march, with campaigners denouncing the detention as the “political suppression.” The group said it had mobilized half a million people to voice anger at Beijing’s ever-tightening grip on Hong Kong.
70,000 ask Google to delete personal links
More than 70,000 people have asked Google to delete links about them under Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling. Google had received 70,000 requests since it put a form online on May 30 as a result of the ruling by the European Court of Justice, AFP said. The search engine has restricted access to a BBC blog posting and several British newspaper stories under a legal ruling granting people a right to be “forgotten” in search engines. In particular, the BBC’s 2007 posting about former Merrill Lynch chairman Stan O’Neal was removed from certain searches in Europe. The Guardian newspaper had been notified that six links to its stories had been removed from search results.
Bolivia MPs vote for child labor from age 10
Bolivian Congress has approved child workers as young as 10 years old, AFP said. Congress passed a new law that lays out specific conditions for employing children by consensus on Wednesday. Employers will have to follow certain criteria to ensure the physical and mental health of employed children, and to prevent child exploitation. “The age limit, as defined formally by the Code for Children and Adolescents, is 14 years old,”Senator Adolfo Mendoza said. However, the new code allows exceptions, when specific legal criteria have been met.
Hurricane Arthur reaches Category 2, makes landfall on North Carolina coast
Hurricane Arthur was upgraded to a Category 2 storm Thursday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour. By late Thursday night it had made landfall between Cape Lookout and Beaufort, North Carolina. “The hurricane’s strongest winds are now more likely to be experienced along the Outer Banks, rather than remain offshore,” the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its latest advisory. The storm surge is forecasted to be 3 to 5 feet in the Outer Banks and other parts of eastern North Carolina. A tropical storm warning is now in effect for Nantucket and parts of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, while a hurricane warning extends from North Carolina to the border with Virginia.
ISIS militants have seized control of one of Syria’s most important oil fields after fighters from other factions switched their allegiance to support it. The Deir-e-zzor oil field was earlier seized by Al Nusrah front from the Syrian troops in November last year.The two groups were engaged in fierce fighting for the oilfield earlier.
Amidst mounting pressure Al Nusrah fighters gave up and handed over the control of Al Omar oilfield to ISIS. The gains made by ISIS implies that it now controls a stretch of Syria from the town of Deir al-Zour in the middle of the country to Abukamel on the Iraqi border. Within neighbouring Iraq, it holds the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, has free rein in Anbar province and is making a push towards Baghdad.
Afghan official says militants fired two rockets into the military side of the Kabul airport, striking President Hamid Karzai’s helicopter as it sat on the tarmac.
Abdul Wahab Wardak, the commander of the military airport, says only one of the two rockets exploded in today’s attack and no casualties were reported.
But he says the Russian-made military helicopter used to transport Karzai was set on fire.
The attack on the airport, which is in one of the most heavily guarded areas of the Afghan capital, underscores the resiliency of militants led by the Taliban who are fighting against the Western-backed government.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in an email message sent to a news agency claimed the responsibility for the attack on the airport, which has been targeted several times in recent years.
“There is loss of life and financial losses to the airport, and several planes were torched,” the Taliban said. The insurgents often exaggerate the impact of their attacks.
The strike comes a day after a Taliban suicide bomber in Kabul killed eight military officers travelling on a military bus.
Its commercial operation is expected to begin in November, railway officials said. So far, Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi was the fastest train with a speed of 150 kmph.The trial run of the ‘semi high-speed train’ was conducted this morning on a 10-coach train. It left New Delhi station at 11.15 am and reached Agra about 99 minutes later. From Nizamuddin station, where it will actually originate during commercial operations, the train took 90 minutes, Deputy Regional Manager (DRM) Delhi Division Anurag Sachan said.
The time taken currently by the Shatabdi train between Delhi and Agra takes 120 minutes. A journey by road via the Yamuna expressway takes two hours between Delhi and Agra. After the Delhi-Agra service, Railways are expected to run similar high speed trains on Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Chandigarh sections. “The trial run was conducted successfully and we hope to start commercial service by November,” said Sachan who was involved in the exercise on Thursday.
There are about 16 speed restriction areas and curves on the Delhi-Agra route which had been upgraded to improve the speed. The train would come as a boon for tourists visiting Taj Mahal as the travel time between Delhi and Agra will come down by half-an-hour from the current level.
The public transporter is using its own resources to make operational the semi-high speed train — the first of its kind in the railways. It is estimated that a cost of Rs 15 crore would be incurred to make the track ready for the semi-high speed train, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project. There will be fencing for a stretch of 27-km along the track between Delhi and Agra to prevent obstruction and ensure speed.
Jul 4, 2:6 PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday declared that the Centre wants to win the hearts of people of Jammu and Kashmir through development as he flagged off the train linking Katra–the base camp for pilgrims headed to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine nestled in the Trikuta hills.
Suggesting that the train be named ‘Shree Shakti Express’, Modi, who is on his maiden visit to J and K after assuming power, said the state has gone through many “problems and difficulties” and the country wants it to be “prosperous and peaceful”.’Shree’ is one of the names of Goddess Durga.
The train connectivity to Katra is part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project that will connect the Valley with the rest of the country.
The last link between Katra and Banihal pass, is expected to be completed by 2018.
The 25-km long Udhampur-Katra line, commissioned after prolonged delays, has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,132.75 crore.
The train will traverse through seven tunnels and over 30 small and large bridges.
There will be a small station – Chakrakhwal – between Udhampur and Katra.
Trains will be able to reach Katra directly as the 53-km Jammu-Udhampur rail line is already operational.
This would enable lakhs of pilgrims headed to the revered Vaishno Devi shrine to travel directly to the base camp at Katra.
“I congratulate the crores of devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi, who want to come here for pilgrimage from all across the country,” Modi said while dedicating the train to the nation.
The Prime Minister said the new rail link will speed up the process of development in the state.
“The journey started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be continued… our priority is to win the hearts of every citizen of this state through development,” Modi said.
Modi said the train is a gift not just for people of J and K but for the whole of India At the function at the Katra station where Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was among others present, the Prime Minister refrained from touching upon any political issue facing the state.
The Prime Minister also allayed the fears of the people of Jammu, who feel that the direct rail link to Katra will have negative impact on the development of their city, saying the “development of Jammu will not be stalled.”
Modi said the government will further enhance the rail connectivity in J and K and that the Banihal rail line will be linked to the rest of the country directly.
Omar also raised the need for a Banihal link in his speech and demanded an upgrade for the railway station in Jammu city
Modi today dedicated to the nation the newly constructed railway line between Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra and Udhampur in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Shri Modi also flagged off first train –a DMU – from newly constructed Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Katra Railway Station at a programme held at Katra, The Guests of Honour present at the function included Shri N. N. Vohra, Governor of J&K and Shri Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of J&K. The function was presided over by Shri D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Minister of Railways. The distinguished guests included Shri Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Railways, Government of India and Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science and Technology, Earth Science & Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances, & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space, Government of India. Chairman Railway Board, Shri. Arunendra Kumar, Member Engineering Railway Board Shri V. K. Gupta, General Manager, Northern Railway & North Central Railway Shri Pradeep Kumar, Senior officials of Railways and J&K State Government were among those present on the occasion.
Following is the text of Minister of Railways Shri D.V. Sadananda Gowda:-
“I am greatly honoured to be here in this holy abode of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and to be part of this historic occasion. Linking of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine with Indian Railways Network has been a dream for many, not only in this part of the country, but for the whole nation. At this outset I wholeheartedly thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on behalf of Indian Railways for having come here and inaugurating this great facility of Rail link to the Holy Place of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi. The Rail connectivity to this holy place of Katra will occupy a pride of place on the rail map of the country. The linkage will provide an opportunity to large number of pilgrims who had aspired throughout their life to visit this revered shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi through the comfort of Railways. Visiting this revered shrine and seeking the Goddess blessing is a dream of every devout pilgrim. The Rail linkage will mark a milestone in the Railway’s effort towards fulfilling the aspirations of common public.
This state of Jammu & Kashmir occupies a special place in every Indian’s heart. This State which has been a birth place of early civilization, is a mosaic of colourful and harmonious culture with vibrant social fabric. The linkage to the valley will enable every Indian to visit this wonderful place through the comfort of Railways and appreciate the God’s gift to this country.
Rail transport in the country has brought economic and social development leading to greater economic growth by opening new avenues of employment, trade, industrial development. I am sure the Rail connectivity to Katra will provide better opportunities for local artisans, traders and student community. Under the able and effective leadership of Shri Narendra Modi ji, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, this Valley of Kashmir will be heralded with a new hope and development in all spheres of the governance and the State in toto.
The Rail link is a triumph of every Indian spirit to overcome the arduous hurdles of nature for reaching the people in this far-flung area. The Rail link is a result of many aspiration and dreams of the people of this country and had been made possible through tremendous perseverance and hard work of not only the Railway work force, but for many other supporting organizations who have worked day and night to fulfill this dream. Technically, this 26 km long Udhampur-Katra rail link was a challenge as more than 40% of the route is on tunnels having 7 major bridges and steep curves. To conquer the hilly Shivalik ranges, innovative approaches were adopted to ensure highest standards of operations and safety. My salutations to every officer, engineer and staff of Indian Railways and all the persons who contributed through their sweat and labour for their commendable job in executing this project. The Rail project has enabled permanent jobs for 700 persons whose land was taken over for the project. As part of the project, 235 kms approach roads to work sites have been constructed which will provide road connectivity to far flung villages in the State benefitting huge rural population of the State.
I am aware that since Katra to Banihal Rail project is yet to be commissioned, full rail connectivity to Kashmir valley is currently unavailable. To overcome this missing link, Railways had planned to bridge this link through Rail cum Road facility in collaboration with Jammu & Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation. This facility will enable direct connectivity between Srinagar and rest of India to commuters. Earlier the introduction of rail services in Kashmir Valley has been a great success and considering the huge demand, Railways have not only enhanced the carrying capacity of DEMU trains from 8 to 12 Coaches, but have also planned 4 more pairs of enhanced services in the Kashmir Valley thereby providing a safe, affordable and comfortable option of transport to people in this State.
I am also happy to announce that 3 pairs of train services currently between Jammu to Udhampur will be extended to Katra. The Railway has also planned to run 3 pairs of Express trains from New Delhi, Kalka, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Bangalore. Indian Railways is committed for ensuring a balanced development of different regions of the country through Rail transport. With the opening of the Rail linkage and by increasing the frequency of Rail services, I am sure there will be a definitive thrust to development in Jammu & Kashmir enabling economic development and greater investment opportunities.
I am grateful to His Excellency, the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri Vohraji, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri Omar Abdullah ji for their valuable time, my colleagues Dr Jitender Singh ji and MLA Shri Baldev Raj ji. On this occasion, I am thankful to the Honourable Prime Minister for being part of this momentous occasion as his presence and guidance will encourage us to fulfill its commitments to the people of this country and specially the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Thank you. Jai Hind.”
The Katra – Udhampur section is a part of ambitious 326 Killometer long Udhampur- Katra-Quazigund- Srinagar -Baramulla Railway Line (USBRL) Project of Northern Railway and will provide seamless flow of rail traffic through Jammu to Katra via Udhampur through the entire Indian Railways network. The newly constructed Udhampur – Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Rail Line is 25.6 km. long, consisting of the 9.4 km. long Udhampur- Chak Rakhwal and 15.5 km. long Chak Rakhwal- Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra sections. This railway line connects the important towns of Jammu region also. Of the towns in Jammu region, Katra, a tehsil of district Reasi, has great importance because this is the place from where the faithful commence their pilgrimage to the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine. So far this town was connected with Jammu Tawi, where devotees usually congregate from all over the country, only through National Highway 1-A. With the completion of the Udhampur-Katra railway line, there is now another mode of mass transportation available to the pilgrims.
This Railway alignment passes through unstable geological formations and highly undulating and difficult hilly terrain of Shivalik & Trikuta ranges of Himalayas. It crosses a number of rivers, nallahs, canals, channels and khads in addition to number of roads, cart paths and footpaths. This rail section serves the district of Udhampur & Reasi. This section has 10.9 km of tunneling, one important, 7 major and 29 minor bridges. The station on this section is Chakrakhwal in addition to Udhampur and Katra. The construction of the rail line necessitated building of 12 ROB/RUBs in addition to about 38.86 lac cum of earthwork. The approx. cost of this rail section is Rs. 1132.75 crore upto 31st March 2014. The bridge on River Jhajjar is the longest Steel Girder Bridge in India with a height of 85 m and with two spans of 154m each. The rail section has 22 curves with the sharpest curve at 5O. The construction of the entire permanent way and structures on this rail section was a challenging task. Tunnel No. 23 is the longest tunnel on the section at 3.1 km. and it has ballast less track between Udhampur and Chak Rakhwal station.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra station is provided with modern passenger conveniences. It is a four line crossing station. Platform No. 1, 2 & 3 the main passenger train dealing platforms are 550m long high level Platform each with 400 m long platform shelter. To facilitate passengers for going from platform no.1 to platform no 2 & 3 and exit from station from Platform No.1, two Foot-over-Bridges, with one side ramp and other side stairs are provided. Lifts have also been provided to facilitate passengers for going from platform no.1 to exit from station. One escalator connecting station building and PF-1 is also provided. Sufficient water booths are provided on all platforms. Public conveniences, water taps, benches, etc. are also provided on all the platforms. One through FOB has been provided for the local people of the town.
The construction of the USBRL project has other benefits for the local residents. More than 235 kms of approach roads are being built along construction sites for carrying of construction material. These roads will benefit the villagers of far-flung areas which had no roads previously. Also 700 of landowners from whom more than 75% of their land was acquired for this project have been given a permanent job in the Railways. At present trains run up to Udhampur via Jammu from the Indian Railway network to terminate there. After the commissioning of Udhampur-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra section, trains will start operating upto Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra, providing an- all weather connectivity with significantly reduced travel time.
Falling in difficult and mountainous terrain, the State of Jammu & Kashmir has always been a challenge to transportation providers. Other factors which increase the difficulty in providing modes of mass transportation is that the area is geologically unstable, prone to tremors and earthquakes, with deep gorges alternating steep, rocky mountains. For any construction activity, the weather is quite inclement. Long months of incessant rains and heavy snow can put life on hold. Despite these constraints, the lure of the beauty of this area has not been contained. Northern Railway has worked in these circumstances and has constructed the most modern railway line in the Kashmir Valley which provides economical, all weather connectivity, the Banihal – Baramulla railway line which is a part of the 326 km. long Udhampur-Katra-Quazigund – Srinagar – Baramulla railway line (USBRL). This railway line is a project of National importance. The present approximate estimated cost of the USBRL project is Rs 19565 Cr. So far, about Rs. 9666.71 cr has been spent upto 31st March, 2014.
Once completed, the entire network of Indian Railway will be connected to the Kashmir Valley. The Kashmir Valley railway is a 119 km long railway line that became completely operational in October 2009. It connects Baramulla in the western part of Kashmir Valley to Quazigund at the other end of the Valley, via Srinagar. This line has been extended to Banihal through a tunnel T-80 which pierces through the Pir Panjal range, thus providing an- all weather connectivity to Kashmir Valley with the Jammu Region. The residents of the area appreciate the promise of all weather connectivity, especially when other facilities grind to a halt in deep snow.
With the completion of this Udhampur – Katra Section the Kashmir Valley has reached a step closer to being connected to the remaining Indian Railway network. The construction of this rail project despite heavy hurdles signifies the dedication and resolution of Northern Railway in providing rail connectivity to the farthest corners in its jurisdiction.