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Nepal plans to construct railways linking Kathmandu with India and China

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Abhiramy R

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Friday said that Nepal is planning to start construction of railways linking Kathmandu with India and China within two years.

“The Detailed Project Reports of Birgunj-Kathmandu and Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu railways, connecting Kathmandu to both India and China by railways, will be prepared and construction works will be started within two years,” said Ms Bhandari, while reading out the government’s priorities for coming years on Friday at the Parliament.

The President also informed the Parliament that the first trans-border railway between Nepal and India will be planned in the upcoming fiscal year.

“Railway service will be made operational within the next fiscal year at Jayanagar- Bijalpura and from Bathnaha, India to Biratnagar. The construction of the railway at Bijalpura-Bardibas segment will be completed,” she added.

The Nepal government said that the completion of technical studies for the construction of railways linking both the neighbouring countries has been completed in collaboration with the two concerned nations. Apart from the rail connectivity, the President also unveiled the plan for generating nearly 500,000 employment opportunities in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Nepal government is also closely working to operate the Gautam Buddha Airport by 2019 and Pokhara International Airport by 2021. Referring to the increased economic growth rate in the last two fiscal years, the President further noted that the base for the double-digit economic growth has been laid on.

“Encouraging results are seen from the implementation of the economic policies of my Government. Over six per cent growth in the last two years and seven per cent growth this year has laid a foundation for double-digit growth. Increment of 27 per cent in national savings has created a solid base for capital formation in the country,” the President said.

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UIDAI warns people not to use public computer for downloading Aadhaar

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The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) recently warned people of using a public computer for downloading Aadhaar.

‘Aadhaar Essentials Download your Aadhaar only from official UIDAI portal: eaadhaar.uidai.gov.in. If you used a public computer to download, don’t forget to delete the downloaded file after you have taken a print out,’ UIDAI tweeted.

The UIDAI had also tweeted about how it discourages Plastic or PVC Aadhaar copies. It said, ‘Your Aadhaar letter or Aadhaar downloaded from uidai.gov.in or mAadhaar profile is enough for any Aadhaar related service.’

The UIDAI in its press release stated: UIDAI has asked people to keep away from such elements/shops/vendors. Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI said, ‘So-called Aadhaar Smart card is totally unnecessary and a waste as during such printing its QR code often becomes dysfunctional. The Aadhaar card or the downloaded Aadhaar card printed on ordinary paper or mAadhaar is perfectly valid for all kind of uses.’

Apart from letting people know about how to download the Aadhaar card, it also talked about how one can apply for updating address online through UIDAI portal.

One of these facilities enables the user to apply for a change in the address fed into the Aadhaar database. The user can update the address online by submitting valid documents or an address validation letter (for those without documents), according to the UIDAI’s website – uidai.gov.in.

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‘Maveli’ frog to be the official frog of Kerala??

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Researchers at the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) have decided to honour a little-known frog from Kerala’s Western Ghats by naming it Maveli (short for Mahābalī) and petitioning the government to recognise it as the state frog. If approved, Kerala would be the first state in India to have an official frog or amphibian.

Commonly known as the purple or pig-nosed frog, this robust, dark purple species is elusive and spends most of its time under the soil. “We decided to name it Maveli since much like the Asura King, it comes out of the soil once a year. It comes out during monsoons, typically to mate and moves to fresh streams to lay eggs,” Sandeep D, an EDGE fellow and PhD student at KFRI who has sent the proposal to make Maveli the state frog.

Known in academic circles by the scientific name Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, the purple frog was discovered in 2003 by SD Biju, from the Tropical Botanic Garden, and Franky Bossuyt, from the Free University of Brussels.

As per the IUCN’s Red List, the purple frog is placed in the fourth highest category of threatened species. It is also ranked third in the list of threatened amphibians under the EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) list. This is out of 8,007 amphibians in the world.

“The purple frog is considered an important species globally and it is endemic to Kerala. Making it a state frog can help boost its conservation,” Sandeep added. Conserving the frog has other benefits: It could also lead to protecting the aquatic ecosystem of the Western Ghats, including tiny species living in the springs and pools.

“Since this frog only breeds in the seasonal springs, it becomes an umbrella species. If we have to conserve the frog, we have to conserve the whole aquatic ecosystem of the springs,” Sandeep adds. A proposal has been sent to members of the State Wildlife Advisory Board and a decision is expected to be taken in June.

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Climate Change is not the only thing affecting Mount Everest

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A dedicated clean-up team sent to Mount Everest has collected three tonnes of garbage in its first two weeks, officials said Wednesday, in an ambitious plan to clean the world’s highest rubbish dump. Decades of commercial mountaineering have left the pristine mountain polluted as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.

Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak. As this year’s spring climbing season kicked off last month, the Nepal government sent a 14-member team with a target to bring back 10,000 kilograms (10 tonnes) of trash from Everest within a month and a half.

The team has collected and bundled the three tonnes of rubbish, including empty cans, bottles, plastic and discarded climbing gear from the base camp and surrounding areas bustling with climbers preparing and acclimatising to summit Everest.

“The clean-up campaign team has just started and members have ascended to higher camps to collect more garbage,” said Dandu Raj Ghimire, chief of Nepal’s tourism department. An army helicopter transported a third of the collected trash to Kathmandu for recycling. The remaining biodegradable trash was taken to the neighbouring Okhaldhunga district for proper disposal.

Eight members are now cleaning Camp 2 at 6,400 metres and teams of three will take turns to go up to Camp 4 at 7,950 metres, where they will spend 15 days litter-picking on the snowy slopes. “The clean-up campaign will be continued in the coming seasons as well to make the world’s tallest mountain clean. It is our responsibility to keep our mountains clean,” Ghimire said.

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