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MARCH 31, 2017
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Train to Hassan named
THE new Bengaluru-Hassan train
named Gomateshwara Express
was flagged off by Railway Min-
ister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu
at Yeshwantpur Railway Station
He chose the name after former
prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda
suggested it since it passes through
Shravanabelagola (a city in the
Hassan district). The Jain pilgrim-
age centre is known for its huge
statue of Gomateshwara.
The train, which started its ser-
vices on March 27, stops at Chan-
BG Nagar, Yediyur, Kunigal, Nela-
mangala and Chikkabanavara.
Modi to open country’s longest
tunnel on April 2
INDIAN prime minister Narendra
Modi will inaugurate the country’s
longest highway tunnel on NH-44
in Jammu and Kashmir on April
2. The tunnels — Chenani-Nashri
Tunnel and Patnitop Tunnel — has
a length of 9.2km.
Officials said that work on the
tunnel started on May 23, 2011
in the lower Himalayan mountain
range and cost Rs3,720 crores.
It is located at an elevation of
1,200m and is the first to have a
world-class “integrated tunnel con-
Bihar launches free WiFi
THE Bihar government has
launched a programme to provide
free WiFi facilities in colleges and
universities. Chief minister Nitish
Kumar launched it on the occa-
sion of Bihar Divas celebrations in
“The objective is to provide
free WiFi facility to help youths to
move ahead in life and to become
digital smart,” said Mr Kumar.
He had also earlier said that
youths, particularly students,
should use this facility to down-
load books instead of films.
Ganges and Yamuna rivers get
A COURT in Uttarakhand has
granted the Ganges and Yamuna
rivers the status of “living human
It said that this status will help
in the “preservation and conserva-
tion” of the polluted rivers.
It added that the rivers, which
are seen as sacred by millions
of Hindus, have the right to be
The legal order comes just days
after New Zealand declared its
Whanganui river a living entity
and appointed two guardians to
protect its interests, making it the
first river in the world to be given
Hindus in Maharashtra
celebrate Gudi Padwa
MAHARASHTRA ushered in the
Hindu new year by celebrating
Gudi Padwa on March 28 (below).
The day is considered auspicious
to begin new projects or make
It is believed that on this day,
Lord Rama defeated King Vali and
emerged victorious, and therefore,
the festival holds a special impor-
tance for people.
An offering of neem leaves and
jaggery is made to the god and
then distributed among family
The mixture is said to improve
immunity and purify the blood.
Burgers and brownies as
prasadam at this temple in
PRASADAM is usually ladoos and
pedhas in Chennai temples.
But Jaya Durga Peetham in
Padappai, Chennai, is offering
brownies, sandwiches and burgers
as prasadam instead to devotees.
Worshippers just have to insert
a token into a vending machine,
installed on its premises and they
can get their food.
The temple also distributes
cracker sandwiches and tomato
On devotees’ birthday, it offers
“birthday cake prasadam”.
found in Odisha’s
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have found
a pre-historic site believed to
be about 4,000 years old in the
Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary in
Sources from the Archaeological
Survey of India said officials found
paintings and engravings on the
ceilings and walls in 12 of the 25
caves they discovered.
The paintings depicted various
things including animals, birds,
reptiles, geometric shapes, motifs
The discovery of the site is
expected to shed light on the
emergence of human settlements
in coastal Odisha.
Deoghar airstrip to transform
into world-class airport
THE Jharkhand government has
signed a Memorandum of Under-
standing with the Airport Author-
ity of India and Defence Research
and Development Organisation to
expand the Deoghar airstrip into a
Chief minister Raghubar Das
and minister of state for civil
aviation Jayant Sinha said it will
facilitate air travel for residents in
the tribal-dominated Santhal Par-
gana region of Jharkhand to major
cities in India and abroad.
The airport, which will have
modern amenities, will also make
it easier for devotees to visit Jy-
otirlinga Baba Baidyanath and the
annual Shravani Mela in Deoghar,
said the ministers.
Mr Das said the airport should
be ready by December 2019.
March 31, 2017
Kutch date farmers gain
from Israeli expertise
Flourishing... (Top) a date palm grove in Kutch and (above) workers sorting out dates to be packaged. (Below) Dr Modh
(centre) with an Israeil expert (left) in Kutch.
is brought to local
N THE semi-arid Kutch region
of Gujarat, Israeli experts have
been training batches of Indian
farmers in advanced agricultural
practices to cultivate dates.
The initiative, which is part of
the bigger Indo-Israel Agriculture
Project, is a further boost to the
“already progressive” farmers of
the region who have been growing
a range of fruits and even export-
ing them to countries like the Unit-
ed Arab Emirates (UAE) and UK.
According to the deputy director
of the horticulture department in
Kutch, Dr Falgun Modh, the part-
nership on this particular initiative,
which began in 2009-10, is now in
the third phase and has been suc-
cessful in giving a much-needed
impetus to farmers to learn the lat-
est farming technology to remain
abreast with changing times.
“The role of Israeli experts has
been mainly to provide techni-
cal support. The concept of tissue
culture, on which there was no ex-
pertise here, is being taught, and so
are other things like how to raise a
nursery and post-harvest technol-
ogy so that the produce can last
longer and farmers can earn a good
profit,” Dr Modh said.
The Indian harvest of dates,
farmers say, coincides with the
monsoon and therefore this perish-
able fruit has to be consumed in
the raw form instead of the stage at
which it is exported.
Post-harvest technology will
help farmers deal with this issue.
But farmers of the region are
quite progressive when it comes
to adopting new techniques in
agriculture and some are already
exporting dates, apart from other
fruits, to countries such as the
In Kutch, it’s usually the Barhi
date variety that is cultivated.
Originally from Iraq, the Barhi
variety is in high demand in Eu-
rope, Malaysia, Canada and the
US, according to farmers.
According to Dr Modh, there
have been a series of seminars, and
a two-day programme was organ-
ised recently for 150 farmers.
“Thanks to a translator, although
the experts spoke in Hebrew, there
was no communication barrier,” he
The Indo-Israel Agriculture Proj-
ect involves setting up of centres
of excellence through which Israeli
know-how is being brought to local
farmers through hands-on training
and Israeli technology, thereby in-
creasing productivity and crop di-
To begin with, nine states — Bi-
har, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka,
Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan,
Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh —
were picked for the centres of ex-
States can have more than one
centre of excellence, building ex-
pertise in a particular fruit cultiva-
tion or in other fields such as bee-
keeping and floriculture.
Now six more states — Andhra
Pradesh, Goa, Madhya Pradesh,
Mizoram, Telangana and West Ben-
gal — have been added to the list.
In the case of Kutch, the centre
of excellence for dates is coming
up near Bhuj, Dr Modh said.
In the third phase of the project,
apart from setting up new centres,
new activities such as post-harvest
technology, water recycling, agri-
cultural machinery, and organic
farming will be explored in these
Indo-Asian News Service
March 31, 2017
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