Metrovaartha http://www.metrovaartha.com/ en-us Thu, 22 Apr 2021 00:00:00 +0530 Braveheart railway employee to give 50 pc of award money for education of child he saved http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37183/braveheart-railway-employee-to-give-50-pc-of-award-money-for-education-of-child-he-saved http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37183/braveheart-railway-employee-to-give-50-pc-of-award-money-for-education-of-child-he-saved Thu, 22 Apr 2021 18:55:09 +0530 ]]>Railway pointsman Mayur Shelke would be donating half the award money he has received to the family of a six-year-old child whom he rescued from the path of a speeding train. The railway ministry earlier this week announced an award of Rs 50,000 for Shelke. He refused to take cash awards from private organisations. Mumbai | Railway pointsman Mayur Shelke would be donating half the award money he has received to the family of a six-year-old child whom he rescued from the path of a speeding train.
He has also refused to take cash awards from private organisations, saying the money should be given for the treatment of needy coronavirus patients.
The railway ministry earlier this week announced an award of Rs 50,000 for Shelke, a Central Railway employee.
He has decided to donate Rs 25,000 to ensure "bright future" for Sahil Shirsat, the boy, whose mother suffers from visual impairment.
"I learnt that the boy is from a poor background and they cannot afford to give him education. Since I saved the boy, I decided to donate half of the award money for his bright future," Shelke told PTI.
In the heart-stopping incident that was captured on CCTV cameras and went viral on social media, Shelke rescued the boy from the tracks at Vangani station near Mumbai on April 17.
As the boy, who was walking down the platform with his mother, fell onto the tracks, Shelke jumped down, ran towards him and scooped him up onto platform before hauling himself up.
The heart-stopping video shows a speeding Udyan Express streaking past the same spot only a second later.
Shelke, who joined the railways as a pointsman in 2016 after completing graduation, hails from a nearby village.
A corporate house gifted him a motorcycle after his daredevilry came to light. Some people and NGOs also sought to give him cash awards, but he refused to accept money, he said.
"People are going through a harrowing situation due to the coronavirus pandemic. So I requested them to give the money for the treatment of needy patients," Shelke said.
Initially he had not informed his parents and wife about the incident, thinking it would unsettle them.
"When I saw CCTV footage myself, I couldn't believe that I had done it," he said, saying it all happened within 7 -8 seconds.
"My parents felt proud, though they were a little worried, thinking what if something had happened to me," he said.
His wife asked him to think about the family, which also includes a new-born son, before taking such risks in future, Shelke said.

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Mamata's second letter to PM: Vaccine strategy biased towards market, anti-people http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37182/mamata-s-second-letter-to-pm--vaccine-strategy-biased-towards-market--anti-people http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37182/mamata-s-second-letter-to-pm--vaccine-strategy-biased-towards-market--anti-people Thu, 22 Apr 2021 18:48:08 +0530 ]]>"I wish to invite your kind personal attention to the recently announced GoI policy on liberalised and accelerated COVID-19 vaccination with Phase 3 from May 1. I am afraid this is highly discriminatory and anti-people. Moreover, it appears that there is a bias in favour of (the) market against common people's interest" Kolkata | Terming the Centre's new 'liberalised and accelerated COVID-19 vaccination' strategy is biased in favour of the market and against the interest of people, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make it free for all.
In her second letter to Modi in a week on the Centre's inoculation policy, Banerjee also said that manufacturers should not do business with vaccines at this hour of crisis.
The Modi government on Monday announced that everyone above 18 years of age would be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine from May 1.
"I wish to invite your kind personal attention to the recently announced GoI policy on liberalised and accelerated COVID-19 vaccination with Phase 3 from May 1. I am afraid this is highly discriminatory and anti-people.
"Moreover, it appears that there is a bias in favour of (the) market against common people's interest," Banerjee's letter read.
Every Indian should get the vaccine free of cost, she said in her communication to the prime minister.
"There is no place for making business by the vaccine manufacturers and instead efforts should be directed towards good of people without discrimination. And also fixing the rate for private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose is not only discriminatory but also unhealthy as it is likely to trigger unscrupulous mechanisms in the market," she added.
Serum Institute of India on Wednesday announced that its Covishield vaccine will cost private hospitals Rs 600 per dose and state governments Rs 400, a rate which will also apply to central government procurement once the existing contract for Rs 150 a dose ends.
In another letter to Modi on April 20, Banerjee described the Centre's vaccine policy as hollow and without substance.

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Climate activists shatter windows at HSBC London building  http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37181/climate-activists-shatter-windows-at-hsbc-london-building- http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37181/climate-activists-shatter-windows-at-hsbc-london-building- Thu, 22 Apr 2021 18:41:40 +0530 ]]>Climate change activists have vandalised HSBC's London headquarters, smashing windows in a protest against the bank's links to the fossil fuel industry. Nine women from the Extinction Rebellion activist group and political party Burning Pink targeted the building in Canary Wharf, London's financial district, on Thursday. London | Climate change activists have vandalised HSBC's London headquarters, smashing windows in a protest against the bank's alleged links to the fossil fuel industry.
Nine women from the Extinction Rebellion activist group and political party Burning Pink targeted the building in Canary Wharf, London's financial district, on Thursday. They used hammers and chisels on the building's glass windows.
The Metropolitan Police said nine women were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.
The protesters said they wanted to highlight the financial sector's role in the climate crisis. They claimed that HSBC's current climate plan “allows it to finance coal power” despite the bank's pledge to shrink its carbon footprint to net-zero by 2050, and called the bank “Europe's second-largest financier of fossil fuels.” HSBC said in a statement that it welcomes “meaningful dialogue on our climate strategy, however, we cannot condone vandalism or actions that put people and property at risk.” It added that it is committed to “phase out the financing of coal-fired power and thermal coal mining by 2040 globally.” Extinction Rebellion targeted Barclays' headquarters earlier this month in a similar protest.
The group is known for taking what it calls “non-violent direct action,” which has included protesters gluing themselves to buildings and mass occupation of roads, to draw attention to its causes.

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Second coronavirus lineage found in India with immune escape mutation http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37180/second-coronavirus-lineage-found-in-india-with-immune-escape-mutation http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37180/second-coronavirus-lineage-found-in-india-with-immune-escape-mutation Thu, 22 Apr 2021 18:22:58 +0530 ]]>A new lineage of the SARS-CoV-2 virus linked with high infectivity and immune escape mutation has been identified in India, but there is no evidence yet that it is driving the Covid surge either in the country or in West Bengal where it was located first, say scientists. New Delhi | A new lineage of the SARS-CoV-2 virus linked with high infectivity and immune escape mutation has been identified in India, but there is no evidence yet that it is driving the Covid surge either in the country or in West Bengal where it was located first, say scientists.
The new lineage called B.1.618 is distinct from the B.1.617, also known as the ‘double mutant' virus that contains two mutations, E484Q and L245R, and is believed to be behind the powerful second COVID-19 wave sweeping through India.
“There is no need for alarm. Standard public health measures are needed,” said Anurag Agrawal, director of the CSIR-Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) in New Delhi. He described B.1.618 as a “lineage of interest” and said it is being investigated.
B.1.618 is a new lineage of SARS-CoV-2 predominantly found in India and characterised by a distinct set of genetic variants including E484K, a major immune escape variant, Vinod Scaria, a researcher at CSIR-IGIB, explained in a lengthy Twitter thread earlier this week.
E484K has been found in variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil, which scientists say is of particular concern as it helps the virus slip past the body's immune defenses. B.1.168 also carries the D614G mutation in the spike protein and has earlier been linked to increased infectivity.
The spike protein enables the virus to infect human cells.
The lineage was first isolated in India on October 25, 2020 and most recently on March 29, according to variant tracker ‘outbreak.info' run by US-based Scripps Research.
Sounding a note of caution while also trying to quell panic as India on Thursday reported 3.14 lakh new infections, scientists here stressed on the need for more research and the dogged continuance of Covid appropriate behaviour.
“The new lineage is a combination of mutations that impart the properties of immune escape as well as more infectivity at individual mutation levels,” virologist Upasana Ray, from Kolkata's CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, told PTI.
“This lineage is a combination of multiple mutations -- deletions of amino acid tyrosine and histidine at positions 145 and 146 of the spike protein, mutation E484K that has been reported earlier to be contributing towards escape from immune response and D614G which was linked to increased infectivity,” she explained.
However, the role of the deletion mutations is not well understood as of now, Ray said, adding that the collective role of all these mutations together is not well characterised.
The initial sequences in the B.1.618 lineage were found in West Bengal. However, members of this lineage are also found in other parts of the world but do not have the full complement of variants as found in India.
“The proportions of B.1.618 have been growing significantly in the recent months in the state of West Bengal, India. And along with B.1.617 forms a major lineage of SARS-CoV-2 in the state of West Bengal,” Scaria said in the Twitter thread.
“There are many unknowns for this lineage at this moment including its capability to cause reinfections as well as vaccine breakthrough infections. Additional experimental data is also required to assess the efficacy of vaccines against this variant,” he said.
At the moment, Scaria stressed, there is no conclusive evidence that the lineage is behind the epidemic in West Bengal. More focused epidemiological investigations will address these questions, he said.
“Although many samples from West Bengal belongs to the lineage B.1.618, to connect this lineage with the rise in the cases of infections in West Bengal, more detailed sampling and investigation is required,” Ray added.
West Bengal on Wednesday registered its highest single-day spike of 10,784 new COVID-19 cases, which took the tally in the state to 6,88,956, the health department said. The death toll also rose to 10,710 after 58 fresh fatalities were reported.
Samiran Panda, head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said mutations are known to happen while viruses proliferate in number. Some of these mutants offer survival advantage to the virus while others don't.
“What is important to understand from the public health perspective is that the new mutants, as well as the old circulating strains, get transmitted by the same route of transmission,” Panda told PTI.
“Therefore, time tested proven prevention strategies should be strictly adhered to such as correct and consistent use of face mask, maintaining hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing, and avoidance of mass gatherings should be adhered to,” he added.
According to Panda, the transmission of these mutants will also be interrupted efficiently if these prevention measures are followed appropriately by 80 per cent or more of the people in the community.
Making a distinction between lineages, strains, and variants, Agrawal said, “Technically there is only one strain here -- nCOV19 or SARS CoV-2. Lineage is in context of ancestry from the original. Variant is a broad way of saying the same thing.” Ray noted that a virus mutates continuously. Technically, when that happens, the changed form, with respect to the parent form, is called a mutant.
“Based on the number and characteristics of the mutations, terms like lineages, variants and strains are used. We use the term strain when a variant displays distinct physical properties or behaves differently than the parent form,” Ray said.
A strain can also be described as a variant that became dominant in the population, she added.
Agarwal had earlier told PTI that in India, different areas have different variants that are dominant.
For example, he said, in Punjab and surrounding areas, the B.1.1.7 UK variant is common. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, the B.1.167 variant is dominant.
Similarly, in southern India, the N440K mutation is more dominant, although it does not have a variant name yet.
“All variants are starting to be seen across India also. The most common strains are the normal ones. Only in few states, variants are dominant and that too different in different parts,” Agrawal said.

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Nasscom appoints Rekha Menon as Chairperson for 2021-22  http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37179/nasscom-appoints-rekha-menon-as-chairperson-for-2021-22- http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37179/nasscom-appoints-rekha-menon-as-chairperson-for-2021-22- Thu, 22 Apr 2021 18:16:04 +0530 ]]>IT industry body Nasscom on Thursday said it has appointed Accenture in India Senior Managing Director Rekha Menon as its Chairperson for 2021-22. She is the first woman to take on the role of Chairperson for Nasscom in the association's 30-year history. New Delhi | IT industry body Nasscom on Thursday said it has appointed Accenture in India Senior Managing Director Rekha Menon as its Chairperson for 2021-22.
She is the first woman to take on the role of Chairperson for Nasscom in the association's 30-year history.
Menon will take the position from her previous role as Vice Chairperson, succeeding UB Pravin Rao (Infosys Chief Operating Officer). Rao served as the Chairman of Nasscom for the year 2020-21, a statement said.
The industry body has also appointed Krishnan Ramanujam -- President and Head of Business & Technology Services at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) -- as its Vice Chairperson for 2021-22.  The newly appointed leadership along with president Debjani Ghosh will spearhead the industry in its digital transformation journey, with the imperatives of making India a leading hub for digital talent, catalysing innovation and developing a favourable policy ecosystem that supports innovation, technology growth and ease of doing business, the statement said.
"I am honoured and humbled by this vote of confidence by the Nasscom Executive Council at such a crucial time for our industry," Menon said.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to test the resilience of our more than 4 million people, even as it has created new opportunities for growth with technology emerging as the lifeline for societies and economies across the world, she added.
"As we cautiously navigate the pandemic, I look forward to working with the Nasscom Executive Council and its members to drive our industry's long term growth by augmenting India's position as the digital talent nation for the world, driving people-first innovation, and working with the government to create a conducive policy environment needed for sustainable growth," Menon said.
In addition to this, Nasscom also announced its new executive council, which comprises industry sectors like ER&D, BPM, IT Services, GCC, SME and Startups.
The new council will play a strategic role in enabling India's tech sector to take leadership on the global map through focused initiatives and programs, it said.
"As a champion of future skills and inclusive growth, Rekha's past contributions to Nasscom have been invaluable, and we look forward to working together to take our industry to newer heights in this new normal where amalgamation and integration of technology are going to continue, and digital skilling is going to be the cornerstone for a collaborative development," Ghosh said.

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COVID-19: Haryana orders closure of all shops by 6 pm, bans non-essential gatherings http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37178/covid-19--haryana-orders-closure-of-all-shops-by-6-pm--bans-non-essential-gatherings http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37178/covid-19--haryana-orders-closure-of-all-shops-by-6-pm--bans-non-essential-gatherings Thu, 22 Apr 2021 17:23:45 +0530 ]]>Having witnessed a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases in recent days, the Haryana government on Thursday announced several restrictions to control the spread, including closure of shops by 6 pm and a ban on all non-essential gatherings. Chandigarh | Having witnessed a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases in recent days, the Haryana government on Thursday announced several restrictions to control the spread, including closure of shops by 6 pm and a ban on all non-essential gatherings.

The restrictions will come into effect from Friday, state Home and Health Minister Anil Vij said.

"All shops will remain closed from 6 pm onward in Haryana from tomorrow, all non-essential gatherings are banned, anybody holding any function within prescribed limit will have to seek permission from concerned SDM (Sub Divisional Magistrate)," Vij said in a tweet.

The state government had recently capped the number of attendees in indoor events to 50 and that for open spaces to 200.

About 10 days ago, the Haryana government had imposed coronavirus-induced night curfew from 10 pm to 5 in the state after a surge in the cases.

Talking to reporters after chairing a meeting of the state cabinet here, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the standalone stores located in less crowded areas would be exempted, but deputy commissioners of the district concerned will take a final decision on this.

The order will be strictly applicable on shops located in crowded areas, he said.

Khattar reiterated that the Haryana government was not contemplating to impose any lockdown in the state.

He said the migrant workers need not worry and should carry on with their work.

On April 21, Haryana recorded 9,623 new COVID-19 infections and 45 deaths, the state's highest single-day spike in both cases and fatalities so far.

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Calcutta High Court expresses dissatisfaction with EC on implementation of Covid norms http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37177/calcutta-high-court-expresses-dissatisfaction-with-ec-on-implementation-of-covid-norms- http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37177/calcutta-high-court-expresses-dissatisfaction-with-ec-on-implementation-of-covid-norms- Thu, 22 Apr 2021 17:14:25 +0530 ]]>The Calcutta High Court on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction with the Election Commission of India over enforcement of Covid-19 health safety norms during the ongoing West Bengal assembly election process, including campaigning. Kolkata | The Calcutta High Court on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction with the Election Commission of India over enforcement of Covid-19 health safety norms during the ongoing West Bengal assembly election process, including campaigning.

Hearing three public interest litigations (PILs) seeking enforcement of Covid protocol during the elections, a division bench presided by Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan said issuance of circulars and holding meetings on Covid safety were not enough and sought an affidavit by Friday on steps taken to enforce the norms.

The PILs expressed concern that people participating in the ongoing election campaigns were not adhering to Covid norms and expressed apprehension that this may result in a serious spike in Covid-19 cases in West Bengal, which is currently facing up to a second wave of the pandemic.

"We are not satisfied with the materials on record to state that the Election Commission of India and its officers on ground in West Bengal have enforced their circulars," it said.

The court said that the circulars of the ECI show the route map and the protocol for the political parties, their workers, the people at large and responsible management by the officers including the police and other forces under its command.

"Issuance of circulars and holding of meetings by themselves do not discharge the onerous responsibility of the ECI," the court observed.

The bench, also comprising Justice Arijit Banerjee, also said it is sure that circulars are not mere advisories.

The high court directed the ECI to file an affidavit by Friday listing the steps it has taken and its views on the issues raised by it.

The bench, which heard the PILs through video conference, posted the matter for hearing on Friday in view of the urgency of the situation.

The court had on April 13 directed that in view of a resurgence of Covid-19 pandemic, all health-related guidelines on campaigning for state assembly elections be enforced in the strictest possible manner.

The bench had said that it is in public interest that the administration ensures that all Covid protocols are strictly adhered to by all concerned, including those engaged in election campaigns.

It had also directed that stringent measures be taken against persons who fail, neglect or refuse to obey COVID protocols

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Saritha Nair held in solar scam case http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37176/saritha-nair-held-in-solar-scam-case http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37176/saritha-nair-held-in-solar-scam-case Thu, 22 Apr 2021 16:53:25 +0530 ]]>Saritha Nair, the prime accused in the solar panel scam that rocked Kerala during the previous Congress-led UDF rule, was arrested on Thursday in connection with the case. Thiruvananthapuram | Saritha Nair, the prime accused in the solar panel scam that rocked Kerala during the previous Congress-led UDF rule, was arrested on Thursday in connection with the case.

Nair was picked up by the police from her residence here after a court in Kozhikode had issued a warrant against the controversial businesswoman for failing to appear before it in a case filed against her in connection with scam.

She was brought to Kozhikode and remanded, police said.

Acording to a complaint filed by Kozhikode native Abdul Majeed with the police in 2012, the two accused -- Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan had taken Rs 42.70 lakhs from him for providing franchise in their company besides installing solar panels in his office and house.

But, neither was the contract executed nor the money refunded, the complainant stated.

The trial court was to deliver the judgement in February but since the accused did not turn up, the pronouncement had to be postponed.

Biju Radhakrishanan and Saritha Nair are the first and second accused respectively in the case, the trial of which began on January 25, 2018.

Saritha S Nair and her accomplice Biju Radhakrishnan had swindled many people of crores of rupees promising to install solar

panels and offering franchise and jobs in their company, Team Solar Renewable Energy Solutions Company

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PM chairs high-level meet on oxygen supply, availability http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37175/pm-chairs-high-level-meet-on-oxygen-supply--availability http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37175/pm-chairs-high-level-meet-on-oxygen-supply--availability Thu, 22 Apr 2021 16:41:27 +0530 ]]>Chairing a high-level meeting to review oxygen supply across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked top officials to work rapidly on increasing its production, boosting the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities. New Delhi | Chairing a high-level meeting to review oxygen supply across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked top officials to work rapidly on increasing its production, boosting the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities.

PM also said that states must act against any hoarding of oxygen and directed officials to ensure that the oxygen supply to various states happens in a smooth, unhindered manner and called for fixing responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction.

In the meeting that also discussed ways and means to boost oxygen availability amid demands from many states for an increase in its supply, Modi was told that the supply of life-saving gas to states has been steadily increasing.

Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT/day of liquid medical oxygen, the Centre has from April 21 allocated 6,822 MT/day to these states, a statement said.

It was noted that in the last few days, the availability of liquid medical oxygen has been increased by about 3,300 MT/day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries.

Modi said states should come down heavily on hoarding and stressed the need to ensure faster transportation of oxygen.

The statement said railways is being used for rapid and non-stop long-distance transport of tankers.

The first rake has reached from Mumbai to Vizag to transport 105 MT of the liquid medical oxygen. Similarly, empty oxygen tankers are also being air-lifted to oxygen suppliers to reduce one-way journey time in oxygen supply.

The prime minister was informed that an elaborate exercise is being done in coordination with states to find their demand for oxygen and ensure adequate supply accordingly, the statement said.

Top officials representing various ministries informed Modi that they are working together with the states to operationalize the sanctioned PSA oxygen plants as soon as possible.

"PM directed the officials to ensure that oxygen supply to various states happens in a smooth, unhindered manner. He spoke about the need to fix responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction. He also asked ministries to explore various innovative ways to increase production & supply of oxygen," it said.

Various measures are being undertaken to rapidly increase the availability of cryogenic tankers through conversion of nitrogen and argon tankers, import and airlifting of tankers as well as manufacturing them, it added.

Representatives from the medical community also spoke about the need for judicious use of oxygen and how an audit in some states has decreased oxygen demand without affecting the condition of patients.

The meeting was attended by the Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Home Secretary, Health Secretary and officials from the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Road Transport, Pharmaceuticals and NITI Aayog. 

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SASB suspends registration of Amarnath yatra due to COVID http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37174/sasb-suspends-registration-of-amarnath-yatra-due-to-covid- http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/37174/sasb-suspends-registration-of-amarnath-yatra-due-to-covid- Thu, 22 Apr 2021 16:38:59 +0530 ]]> Registration of pilgrims for the upcoming annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas has been being temporarily suspended on Thursday due to the COVID-19 situation, officials said. Jammu | Registration of pilgrims for the upcoming annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas has been being temporarily suspended on Thursday due to the COVID-19 situation, officials said.

The offline and online registration for the annual Amarnath Yatra through Baltal and Chandanwari routes will begin from April 1 and April 15 respectively. The 56-day yatra to the 3,880-metre-high shrine is scheduled to start from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal on June 28 and culminate on August 22.

"In view of the evolving COVID situation in the country and the need to take all necessary precautionary measures, registration for Shri Amarnath ji Yatra is being temporarily suspended," the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) announced on its Twitter handle on Thursday.

It further said that the situation is being constantly monitored and the registration would be reopened once the situation improves. Registration started from April 1 for both the routes through 446 designated bank branches -- Punjab National Bank (316), the Jammu and Kashmir Bank (90) and the YES Bank (40) -- all over the country.  Nitishwar Kumar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) confirmed the development and said that the situation is being constantly monitored and the registration would be reopened once the situation improves.

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