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India brings Russia ships across Suez

Moscow (AFP): Russian warships passed through the Suez Canal for the first time in 15 years to take part in exercises with the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in the Ukrainian resort of Yalta.

Putin met the commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Vladimir Massorin, in Yalta, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russian ships from the Black Sea fleet, based in Sebastapol in southern Ukraine, have reached the Indian Ocean to join those of the Pacific fleet based in Vladivostock for planned manoeuvres with the Indian Navy.

The Russian Navy has suffered from poor funding since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and its long-range operations, such as those carried out during the Cold War, have been curtailed.

The manoeuvres, which were announced in April, will be India’s first joint naval exercises with Russia.

Despite years of robust defence ties — more than 70 per cent of the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy equipment is of Russian origin — the two Cold War allies have not held naval exercises before.

Dust haze cripples Rajasthan

Jaipur (PTI): Dust haze continued to disrupt normal life and vehicular traffic on the third day on Sunday in Rajasthan even as the mercury plummeted by 3-5 degrees Celsius in the state, the weather office said.

Due to weakening of winds that caused whirlwinds on Friday, the dust haze got suspended in the atmosphere, lowering visibility, the Met office said. There will be no respite from the winds in the next 24 hours, it added.

The suspended dust particles will be cleared only by fresh strong winds or rain in a day or so, the weatherman said.

The storm led to a fall in the maximum temperature from 45 to 39 degrees Celsius.

In western Rajasthan, water scarcity and poor power supply worsened the situation. The worst-affected districts were Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Churu, Bikaner, Nagaur, Sikar and Phalodi.

This is probably the first time in recent years that dust haze has affected normal life in eastern and southern Rajasthan, the Met office said.

Veteran Left leader dies

Hyderabad (PTI): Veteran Communist leader and general secretary of the United Communist Party of India (UCPI) Mohit Sen died at his residence early on Sunday following a massive cardiac attack.

Sen, 74, was a widower and had no children. He joined the Communist Party of India in 1948 as a “candidate member” and became a full member in 1950 during his stay in England. In 1985, Sen joined the Indian Communist Party. When it merged with the All Indian Communist Party to become UCPI, he became its general secretary, a post he held for 15 years.

Immigrant list

Jalandhar (PTI): Several countries have asked the regional passport office to send details of over 1,582 Punjabi illegal immigrants through Indian embassies. Regional passport officer Amarjit Singh said the list includes 449 in Dubai, 458 in Abu Dhabi, 429 in Rome and 246 in Milan.

Nepal delegation

Bhopal (PTI): A high-level Nepal government delegation will arrive on a three-day visit to Madhya Pradesh from Monday to study the impact of the Indira Gandhi Garibi Hatao Yojana. Led by the vice-chairman of Nepal’s National Planning Commission, Shankar Sharma, and Nepal chief secretary Bimal P. Koirala, the delegation is also expected to meet chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Rishikesh project

Dehra Dun (PTI): Uttaranchal chief minister N.D. Tiwari has announced a package of Rs 12.63 crore for various developmental projects in Rishikesh ahead of the Ardhkumbh Mela next year. Addressing a function at Rishikesh, Tiwari said the famous Triveni Ghat will be revamped on the pattern of Hardwar’s Har-ki-Pauri.

Owls recovered

Vadodara (PTI): Police have arrested several villagers, including a tantrik, following the recovery of three owls of endangered species in Bharuch and Panchmahals districts of central Gujarat. Several residents of the area were also taken into custody in Panchmahals district last week.

The Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines were opened to the public on Sunday amid chanting of Vedic hymns and offering of a special puja. The Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines will be reopened from May 5 and May 8, respectively.


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