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PM reviews the pollution situation in north India

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With the air quality in Delhi and surrounding areas hovering in the “severe” and “very poor” categories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the pollution situation in northern India.

“PM Narendra Modi chaired a meeting in which the situation arising due to pollution in various parts of northern India was discussed,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.

The prime minister also reviewed the situation arising due to cyclone conditions in parts of western India.

The meet on pollution comes after back-to-back review meetings held by P K Mishra, the principal secretary to the prime minister, with top officials of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana on Sunday and Monday.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi’s air quality index dropped from 365 at 9.45 am to 331 at 3.45 pm on Tuesday.

In the National Capital Region, Greater Noida (348), Noida (358), Ghaziabad (351), Faridabad (311) and Gurgaon (328) also recorded improvement in air quality.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’. An AQI above 500 falls in the ‘severe plus’ category.

The prime minister’s review of preparedness for cyclone ‘Maha’ comes a day after the National Crisis Management Committee, the apex body to respond to emergency situations, reviewed preparedness in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Daman and Diu ahead of the cyclone’s landfall between Dwarka and Diu on November 6 night.

The district authorities have been put on alert and all fishing activities have been suspended. The Daman and Diu administration also apprised the committee of their preparedness and evacuation plans.

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2 Naxals killed in an encounter with police in Dantewada

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Two Naxals were killed in an encounter with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Tuesday, police said.

The skirmish took place in a forest near Munga village around 11.30 am when a team of the District Reserve Guard (DRG) was out on a counter-insurgency operation, a senior police

When the patrolling team was advancing through the forest of Munga, located around 400 km from here, and the gun-battle broke out between two sides, a senior official added.

After the exchange of fire stopped, bodies of two ultras were recovered from the spot, the official said.

Some firearms and explosives were also recovered, and a search operation was underway in the area, the official said.

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Final arguments on ED’s plea to cancel Vadra’s anticipatory bail on Nov 25

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said it would hear on November 25 final arguments on a plea filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) challenging the anticipatory bail granted to Robert Vadra in a money laundering case.

Justice Chander Shekhar listed the matter for further hearing after the ED’s counsel informed the bench that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was busy in the Supreme Court.

The probe agency had earlier told the court that it wanted custodial interrogation of Vadra because the “money chain” in the case filed under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was allegedly directly linked to him.

Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, was not cooperating with investigators, the ED had claimed.

Vadra is facing allegations of money-laundering in the purchase of a London-based property — at 12, Bryanston Square — estimated to be worth 1.9 million pounds (over Rs 17 crore).

Vadra has opposed the ED’s plea, saying there was not a single instance of his non-cooperation in the investigation and there was no risk of him tampering with any evidence as the agency had already seized from him every document pertaining to the case.

The ED was conducting a “fishing and roving inquiry” and has no material to support the allegations made against him, he has claimed.

The probe agency sought the cancellation of Vadra’s anticipatory bail on the ground that it requires his custody as he was not cooperating in the investigation.

On the possibility of flight risk, Vadra said in his reply, “The conduct of the respondent (Vadra) in returning to India from abroad voluntarily upon reading press reports that ED was investigating him made it abundantly clear that Vadra had no intention whatsoever of fleeing the country and was determined to stay in India and clear the name.”

No specific allegation has been made by the agency to suggest that Vadra has in any way attempted to or actually succeeded in tampering with any evidence or witness, the reply said.

“Vadra has no properties outside India whatsoever nor does he have any beneficial ownership of any property outside India,” the reply stated.

It has added that Vadra has never received any ‘kickback’ for any ‘deal’ and any allegation of this nature is completely false.

Vadra’s lawyers have alleged that the sole purpose of the ED is to cause prejudice against him in the mind of the court and the public.

While granting anticipatory bail to Vadra, the trial court had on April 1 directed him to not leave the country without prior permission and also to join the probe as and when called by the investigating officer.

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RBI raises withdrawal limit for PMC Bank depositors to Rs 50,000

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday raised the withdrawal limit for depositors of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (PMC) to Rs 50,000.

After an alleged Rs.4,355 crore scam came to light at the PMC Bank, the RBI initially capped withdrawals at Rs 1,000 in view of the liquidity crisis and later hiked it to Rs 40,000. Now the limit has been raised to Rs 50,000 per account.

The latest decision taken by RBI comes as a relief for the hapless account holders of PMC Bank who have been thrown into a crisis by the scam-hit bank.

This is the fourth time the regulator has increased the withdrawal limit since it clamped down on PMC Bank on September 23, capping withdrawals at Rs 1,000 per customer, which led to a lot of distress and criticism.

“The RBI, after reviewing the bank’s liquidity position and its ability to pay its depositors has decided to further enhance the limit for withdrawal to Rs 50,000, inclusive of Rs 40,000 allowed earlier,” the banking regulator said in a statement on Tuesday.

With the above relaxation, more than 78 percent of the depositors of the bank will be able to withdraw their entire account balance.

The RBI has also been decided to allow the depositors to withdraw from the bank’s own ATMs within the prescribed limit of Rs 50,000.

The Reserve Bank further said it was closely monitoring the position and will continue to take further steps as are necessary to safeguard the interest of the depositors of the bank.

Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank, which is among the top 10 urban cooperative banks, was placed under an RBI administrator on September 23 for six months due to massive under-reporting of dud loans.

The bank, over a long period of time, had given over Rs 6,500 crore in loans to HDIL, which is 73 percent of its total advances, and which has turned sour with a shift in the fortunes of the now-bankrupt company.

Its total loans stood at Rs 8,880 crore and the deposits at over Rs 11,610 crore. There have been massive protests across the city from the depositors following the RBI action.

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