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Fully-vaccinated passengers can travel by Chennai local trains from THIS date, check full details here

Passengers need to show their Covid-19 vaccination certificate in order to purchase tickets.

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Agnipath protest

Amid a massive spike in Covid-19 cases across the country, state governments are taking several measures to curb the spread of the highly-transmissible virus. While major cities have imposed night and weekend curfews, Indian railways have revised the train schedules and rules given the situation.

The Southern Railway on Saturday, January 8 announced that only fully-vaccinated passengers can travel by Chennai local trains from January 10 to January 31. Passengers need to show their Covid-19 vaccination certificate in order to purchase tickets. This rule will also apply to season ticket holders and the unreserved ticketing system (UTS) will not be available during these dates.

It has also appealed passengers to be fully aware of the restrictions imposed by the Government of Tamil Nadu and to undertake journeys only in accordance with norms laid down. Further, the order issued by the Southern Railways said that passengers are requested to follow all the Covid-19 protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and Government of Tamil Nadu from time to time.

The administration has also warned the passengers of a Rs 500 penalty if they are found without masks and the passengers are also requested to co-operate with Railway officials for checking of valid documents at the station and during the journey.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, January 8, the Indian Railways have cancelled more than 380 trains across the country due to extreme weather conditions and Covid-19 restrictions in several states.

Read Also: India administers over 150 crore Covid-19 jabs

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Puri Jagannath temple’s Ratna Bhandar reopens after 46 years

Also among them were four servitors, Patjoshi Mohapatra, Bhandar Mekap, Chadhaukarana and Deulikaran, who took care of the rituals, they said.

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The Ratna Bhandar, the revered treasury of the 12th-century Jagannath temple in Odisha’s Puri, was reopened on Sunday after 46 years for an inventory of valuables and the repair of its structure.

According to officials, an eleven-member committee set up by the State government for the purpose entered the temple around 12 pm, and after performing rituals, the treasury was reopened.

Former Orissa HC judge Biswanath Rath, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Arabinda Padhee, ASI Superintendent DB Gadanayak and a representative of Puri’s titular king ‘Gajapati Maharaja’ were among the 11 people present when the treasury was reopened, officials added.

Also among them were four servitors, Patjoshi Mohapatra, Bhandar Mekap, Chadhaukarana and Deulikaran, who took care of the rituals, officials said.

Though the treasury was reopened, the inventory of valuables will not be carried out immediately, an official said.

Taking to X, the Chief Minister’s Office said, “On the wish of Lord Jagannath, the Odia community, with the identity of ‘Odia Asmita’, has started making efforts to move forward.”

The CMO further mentioned that the four gates of the Jagannath temples were earlier opened. Today, on people’s wishes, the Ratna Bhandar was opened after 46 years for a greater purpose, adding that, which was shared at 1.28 pm, the auspicious moment decided to reopen the treasury.

On the Ratna Bhandar, the Inspection Committee Chairman Justice Biswanath Rath said that, as scheduled, and as known to everybody, the government has already come out with the required SOPs in three parts. He said one is for the opening of the Ratna Bhandar, then taking custody of ornaments and valuables stacked in both the ‘bhandars’ section-wise to pre-allocated rooms inside the Garbha Griha.

He added that the team convened a meeting in which they decided to go ahead with the opening and taking care of the ornaments. As per the discussion in the meeting and suggestions of the ‘Purohits’ and the ‘mukti mandap’, the right time for opening of the Ratna Bhadar is 1.28 pm, he said.

Rath also shared the process, which will be carried out with two sets of video recordings and there will be two certifications. It will be a challenge since the committee does not know the position inside since it last opened in 1985, he added saying, they will open the locks today, in any case.

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Congress appoints Gaurav Gogoi as Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha

Kodikunnil Suresh has been appointed as the Chief Whip.

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The Congress has appointed Gaurav Gogoi as the party’s Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha. Kodikunnil Suresh has been appointed as the Chief Whip, while Manickam Tagore and Md. Jawaid have been appointed as Whips in the Lower House.

Taking to X on Sunday, Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal announced the decision and said CPP Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi has written to the Lok Sabha Speaker informing him about the appointment of the Deputy Leader, Chief Whip, and two Whips for the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha.

Congratulating the new appointees, he wrote, “Guided by LOP Shri Rahul Gandhi ji, the Congress and INDIA parties will energetically champion the people’s causes in the Lok Sabha.”

The decision comes barely two weeks before the Union Budget is set to be presented in the Lok Sabha.

Speaking to the media on July 14, Congress leader P Chidambaram detailed his expectations from the Union Budget scheduled to be presented on July 23 and said that the Prime Minister must address unemployment and price rise. He further drew attention to retail inflation as per the government data is 5.1%, and go towards rural areas, it is more than that.

The former Finance Minister said food inflation is 10% and if the budget addresses unemployment and price rise, he will give it 50 out of 100. The remaining 50 will depend upon what policies they follow, the Congress leader added.

The first Union Budget (2024-25) will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha on July 23, with the Parliament session commencing a day earlier and scheduled to conclude on August 12.

Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju said that the President of India, on the recommendation of the Government of India, has approved the proposal for summoning both Houses of Parliament for the Budget Session, 2024, from July 22, 2024, to August 12, 2024, (subject to exigencies of Parliamentary Business). Union Budget 2024-25 will be presented in Lok Sabha on 23 July, 2024, he said in a post on X.

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Bypolls results: INDIA bloc sweeps 10 seats, 2 for BJP, independent 1, across 7 states

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said three out of four seats were of BJP which have now been won by TMC.

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The Opposition bloc INDIA swept the by-elections winning 10 out of 13 seats, while the BJP won only two seats across seven states. The independent candidate, Shankar Singh, won the Rupauli seat in Bihar’s Purnea, defeating JDU’s Kaladhar Prasad Mandal by a margin of 8,246 votes.

In Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Mohinder Bhagat has won the Jalandhar West Assembly seat, defeating his rival, BJP candidate Sheetal Angural, by a massive margin of more than 37,000 votes. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) is leading on 4 seats in West Bengal.

The by-elections in 13 Assembly constituencies across seven States concluded on July 10. The Assembly seats included Badrinath and Manglaur seats in Uttarakhand; Rupauli in Bihar; Raiganj seat, Ranaghat Dakshin seat, Bagda and Maniktala seat in West Bengal; Vikravandi in Tamil Nadu; Amarwara in Madhya Pradesh; Jalandhar West in Punjab and Dehra, Hamirpur and Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh.

In Himachal Pradesh, Kamlesh Thakur, wife of Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, has won the Dehra constituency. The Congress has secured the Nalagarh seat as well, while the BJP managed to win the Hamirpur seat.

On the by-elections in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said three out of four seats were of BJP which have now been won by TMC. Thanking the people of Bengal, she said this victory is the victory of the people.

Addressing a press conference, Congress leader Pawan Khera said that these by-elections which were held on 13 seats are very important. For the second time in one and a half months, the people of the country gave a strong message to the BJP, he added.

He said the message was very clear in the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress leader also spoke about the by-poll result in Uttarakhand and said the party has won both its seats, Badrinath and Manglaur. In Himachal Pradesh, Congress won 2 out of 3 seats, he further said.

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