Latest news LIVE: Delhi-NCR shrouded by haze, air quality 'very poor'

Air pollution in Delhi | Photo: PTI

The national capital's air quality hit an eight-month low on Thursday with stubble burning accounting for only six per cent of the city's PM2.5 concentration, according to government agencies.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR, said the wind direction was partly favourable for the transport of smoke from farm fires and "hence, an increase in contribution in Delhi's PM 2.5 (concentration) is expected".

Delhi recorded a 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of 312. The last time the air quality hit such a poor level was in February with an AQI 320. The 24-hour average AQI was 276 on Wednesday, which falls in the 'poor' category. It was 300 on Tuesday, 261 on Monday, 216 on Sunday and 221 on Saturday.

Being in denial will not help, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday after Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar asserted that stubble burning contributes to only 4 per cent air pollution.

Taking to Twitter, the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought to know why pollution has suddenly increased in Delhi-NCR in the last fortnight if stubble burning causes only 4 per cent pollution. 

Earlier in the day, Javadekar said that stubble burning is not a major factor for air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah has convened a meeting at his residence today for chalking out the future course of action on 'Gupkar Declaration' with regard to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir which was revoked by the Centre last year. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who was released from detention after 14 months on Tuesday, will also attend the meeting.

Stay tuned for the latest news of the day.


LIVE UPDATES

Oil eases as new lockdowns raise concern about fuel demand

Oil prices eased on Thursday as new restrictions to stem a surge in Covid-19 infections dimmed the outlook for economic growth and fuel demand.
 
Traders said prices pared losses after the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an increase in U.S. petroleum demand last week that helped reduce crude stockpiles, while distillate inventories dropped by the most since 2003 as Hurricane Delta cut oil production and shut Gulf Coast refineries. [EIA/S]
 
Brent futures fell 23 cents, or 0.5%, to $43.09 a barrel by 1:21 p.m. EDT (1721 GMT), while U.S. crude fell 18 cents, or 0.4%, to $40.86. Earlier, both benchmarks were down more than $1 a barrel.
 
"Obviously there was a major impact from the hurricane," said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, noting "there were some bullish overtones in the report ... like the big drop in distillates."

US offers tariff truce if Airbus repays billions in aid: Report

The United States has offered to settle a long-running aircraft subsidy dispute with the European Union and remove tariffs on wine, whisky and other products if Airbus repays billions of dollars in aid to European governments, several sources close to the matter told Reuters.
 
The offer was made by US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer days before the World Trade Organization's (WTO) release on Tuesday of a report authorising Brussels to slap counter-tariffs on US goods over subsidies to planemaker Boeing.
 
Lighthizer's proposal, however, is unlikely to win support from the EU, which appears set to ask the WTO at an Oct. 26 meeting to endorse $4 billion in EU tariffs on US goods. The imposition of $7.5 billion of US tariffs over Airbus subsidies has already started to hit European goods.

India's exports turn positive in September; up 6 per cent

After contracting for six straight months, India's exports rose 5.99 per cent to $27.58 billion in September on account of growth in shipments of drugs and pharmaceuticals and readymade garments, as per the government data released on Thursday.
 
Exports stood at $26.02 billion in September 2019.
 
The country's imports contracted 19.6 per cent to $30.31 billion in September. It was $37.69 billion in the same month last year.
 
The trade deficit narrowed to $2.72 billion, compared to a shortfall of $11.67 billion in the year ago-month.
 
Gold imports declined by nearly 53 per cent to $601.43 million in September.

Government plans to borrow Rs 1.1 trillion to give to states

The government said it plans to borrow Rs 1.1 trillion in tranches to compensate states for tax losses due to the spread of coronavirus, breaking an impasse between New Delhi and some of the states.

But due to a sharp fall in tax collection the government was also unable to pay for the states' revenue loss and so asked them to raise the funds from the market.

While 21 states, mainly ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party and its allies had agreed to borrow from the market, around 10 which are run by opposition parties had insisted that the federal government should borrow and compensate them.

"This will avoid differential rates of interest that individual states may be charged," the government said in a statement.

Two days after heavy rains, Hyderabad limps back to normalcy; relief operations underway

After being battered by torrential rains that triggered one of the worst floods in recent times and claimed 50 lives, the city and other parts of Telangana were returning to normalcy on Thursday with relief measures being stepped up by the government.

In a relief, there was no rains on Thursday and water started receding in most parts of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits though some localities still remained inundated.

Wildfire smoke in US exposes millions to hazardous pollution

Wildfires churning out dense plumes of smoke as they scorch huge swaths of the U.S. West Coast have exposed millions of people to hazardous pollution levels, causing emergency room visits to spike and potentially thousands of deaths among the elderly and infirm, according to an Associated Press analysis of pollution data and interviews with physicians, health authorities and researchers.

Smoke at concentrations that topped the government's charts for health risks and lasted at least a day enshrouded counties inhabited by more than 8 million people across five states in recent weeks, AP's analysis shows.

Major cities in Oregon, which has been especially hard hit, last month suffered the highest pollution levels they've ever recorded when powerful winds supercharged fires that had been burning in remote areas and sent them hurtling to the edge of densely populated Portland.

Multiplexes, partners roll out offers to get back box office buzz

Multiplexes and their partners are rolling out a number of offers to woo film goers and rev up their business that fell silent for seven months on coronavirus pandemic woes.

Movie halls have reopened or are reopening in several places, including the national capital and parts of Madhya Pradesh, this week, with stringent dos and don'ts in keeping with COVID-19-triggered new normal ways.

However, authorities in states like Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have decided not to open theatres and multiplexes for now amid rising number of coronavirus infections.

Centre to borrow to make up for states' GST shortfall: Finance Ministry

Finance Ministry on Thursday said the central government will borrow Rs 1.1 lakh crore to make up for the shortfall in GST of states.

"The amount so borrowed will be passed on to the states as a back-to-back loan in lieu of GST compensation cess releases," the ministry said in a statement.

About 6.24 million tonne of kharif paddy worth Rs 11,785 crore was purchased at the minimum support price (MSP) from 533,000 farmers in the last 19 days, the food ministry said on Thursday.

Paddy procurement commenced in Punjab and Haryana from September 26 due to early arrival of the crop, while in other states it began from October 1.

More than 80 per cent of the country's paddy crop is grown in the kharif season. The government through the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies undertakes procurement of paddy at MSP.

India's exports rise 6% to $27.58 bn in September

India's exports increased 5.99 per cent year-on-year to USD 27.58 billion in September, according to the government data released on Thursday.

Exports stood at $26.02 billion in September 2019.

The country's imports declined 19.6 per cent to USD 30.31 billion in September. It was $37.69 billion in the same month last year.

Delhi-NCR shrouded by haze; air quality enters 'very poor' zone

The national capital's air quality hit an eight-month low on Thursday with stubble burning accounting for only six per cent of the city's PM2.5 concentration, according to government agencies.

NASA's satellite imagery showed a large cluster of farm fires near Amritsar, Patiala, Tarn Taran, and Firozpur in Punjab, and Ambala and Rajpura in Haryana. Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has urged the Punjab government to curb stubble burning.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR, said the wind direction was partly favourable for the transport of smoke from farm fires and "hence, an increase in contribution in Delhi's PM 2.5 (concentration) is expected".

Delhi recorded a 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of 312. The last time the air quality hit such a poor level was in February with an AQI 320. The 24-hour average AQI was 276 on Wednesday, which falls in the 'poor' category. It was 300 on Tuesday, 261 on Monday, 216 on Sunday and 221 on Saturday.

 

Crops on 67,864 hectares of land damaged due to rains in Andhra

The recent downpour due to a deep depression has damaged crops over 67,864 hectares in Andhra Pradesh.

Eight districts have suffered the damage. Visakhapatnam 5,435 hectares, East Godavari (29,362), West Godavari (15,926), Krishna (12,466), Guntur (381), YSR Kadapa (2,053), Kurnool (249) and Srikakulam (1,992).

The damaged crops include paddy, pulses, sugarcane, maize, raagi, cotton, ramza and tobacco.

Horticultural crops spread over 6,229 hectares have also been damaged, affecting vegetables, bananas, papaya, betel vine, yam, turmeric, black gram and sugarcane.

Heavy rains: Over 8,000 evacuated in Maharashtra's Solapur district

Over 8,000 people from Pandharpur tehsil in western Maharashtra's Solapur district have been shifted to safer places following heavy rains, an official said on Thursday.

The district is witnessing heavy showers for the last two days.

"Excess water is being released from Ujani Dam into the Nira and Bhima rivers, so as a precaution, around 8,400 people living along river banks in the Pandharpur tehsil have been shifted to safer places," said Sachin Dhole, Sub Divisional Officer.

Cong 'restless' as farmers got freedom to sell crop anywhere in country: Smriti Irani

Union Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday hit out at the Congress for opposing farm laws, saying it has got restless as farmers have been given the freedom to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

She accused the Congress of doing nothing for decades to ensure that farmers get the payment of their crop directly into their bank accounts.

Interacting with the media of Bathinda through a virtual conference, she claimed the Modi government was committed to the progress of farmers and has assured a record MSP payment to wheat growers in the past five years.

Health insurance providers need to look at disease-specific products: Irdai

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) Chairman Subhash Khuntia on Thursday urged health insurance providers to develop disease-specific products and also focus on providing preventive care to policyholders.

He emphasised that health insurers should come out with innovative products based on the need of the public.

I would urge insurers to develop more disease-specific products like for diabetics, heart or kidney related issues, Khuntia said at a health insurance summit organised by CII.

Remittances growth turning muted; reasons structural, not transient: Report

Remittances growth is muted due to "structural" reasons which will hamper consumption demand locally, a report said on Thursday.

"...the muted external remittances growth is more of a structural issue than transitory," India Ratings and Research said in its note.

India has been the largest recipient of remittances from its diaspora spread all across the world and received over USD 70 billion inflows last year.

The agency argued that flows had started to moderate even before the

Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, pointing out that as a percentage of gross disposable income, the share of remittances fell to 2.5 per cent in FY19 as against 3.5 per cent in FY10.

Europe tumbles 2% on Covid curbs and Brexit impasse

European shares hit two-week lows on Thursday, knocked by tougher curbs in London and Paris to fight a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with no breakthrough in Brexit trade talks also a dampener.

Wall Street was also set to add to losses from previous sessions as policymakers in the United States fail to agree on an economic stimulus package ahead of presidential elections next month.

Analysts said the biggest pullback in markets in three weeks was more of a pause than a fundamental shift, however.

Apparel exporters' turnover to dip 25% in FY21, domestic retailers to see 40% revenue fall: Icra

Indian apparel exporters are likely to see a decline of 20-25% in their turnover in 2020-21, while those focused on domestic market are expected to witness a 30-40 per cent decline in revenue due to the covid-19 pandemic, rating agency Icra said.

Indian apparel players are banking on the upcoming festive season to recover meaningfully from their all-time low sales, Icra said in a report.

Icra projects the Indian apparel exporters to report a turnover decline of 20-25 per cent in FY21, compared to a steeper 30-40 per cent decline in revenues of companies focused on the domestic market, the report said.

Stubble burning accounted for 6% of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on Thursday: SAFAR

The share of stubble burning in Delhi's PM 2.5 concentration was 6 per cent on Thursday, according to a central government agency.

It was only around one per cent on Wednesday and around 3 per cent on Tuesday, Monday and Sunday, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor SAFAR.

PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter which can penetrate deeply into lungs, impairing their function, and even the bloodstream.

A layer of smoky haze lingered over Delhi-NCR on Thursday with air quality in the region hitting 'very poor' levels, even as stricter anti-air pollution measures, including a ban on electricity generators, came into force under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

Economic cost of food-borne disease is $15 billion per year for India: Health Ministry

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday informed that the economic cost of food-borne diseases in India is estimated to be a whopping $15 billion. While wasting (21 per cent), underweighting (36 per cent), stunting (38 per cent) are common among children, at least 50 per cent of women and children suffering from anaemia, said the government.

The Centre also informed that the prevalence of obesity has doubled in the decade (2005-2015) from 9.3 per cent to 18.6 per cent among males and from 12.6 per cent to 20.7 per cent among females with a corresponding rise in deaths due to Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan chaired an inter-ministerial meeting with the Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) to achieve 'vision 2050' of the 'Eat Right India' Movement.

President Kovind discusses with Turkmenistani counterpart potential in trade, economic spheres

President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday discussed with his Turkmenistani counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov the immense potential that exists in trade and economic spheres between the two countries, according to an official statement.

They also discussed the success of the collaboration between Indian and Turkmen companies, it stated.

Kovind received a telephonic call from Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan. The leaders acknowledged the warm and cordial relations between the two countries underpinned by historical and civilizational links, the statement issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

Covid-19 impact: PE investment in real estate down 57% in Jan-Sep at $2.3 bn

Private equity (PE) investment in Indian real estate fell 57 per cent year-on-year to around $2.3 billion during January-September this year as investors remained cautious due to Covid-19 pandemic, according to a Knight Frank report.

The PE investment in real estate stood at USD 2,308 million during January-September 2020 as against $5,318 million in the corresponding period of the previous year.During the entire 2019 calendar year, the PE inflow was USD 6,792 million.

As per the data, office segment attracted USD 1,871 million PE investment during January-September as against $2,725 million in the year-ago period.

IAF team in France to make preparations to induct more Rafale jets

As it prepares to induct a second batch of Rafale jets, the Indian Air Force has sent a team of officials to France to oversee the logistical issues and review the training of a hand-picked group of pilots at the Saint-Dizier air base there, officials said on Thursday.

The second batch of four Rafale jets is expected to arrive in India in the next four weeks.

The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of these aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.

Maharashtra: Voda Idea services disrupted as key site in Pune gets flooded

Subscribers of Vodafone Idea in Maharashtra are facing connectivity issues since Thursday morning as a key site in Pune got flooded.
 
The company said one of its "key sites" in Pune's Kalyani Nagar area got flooded because of the heavy showers resulting in the "partial disruption in services" for subscribers across the state.
 
 
Unlike tower infrastructure, which serves subscribers in a local area, the site was serving people across the telecom circle which affected the subscribers in the state. Read more...

Nitish insulted my father, worked against LJP candidates in 2019 LS polls: Chirag

Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan Thursday made it clear that his parting of ways with Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U) had "nothing to do" with sharing of seats for the assembly elections in Bihar, whose politics his party has "always been opposed to".

Paswan said his party had fought the Lok Sabha polls last year in alliance with the JD(U) because of the "compulsions" brought by the return to the NDA of Kumar, whose party he accused of working against LJP candidates in the general elections in violation of the coalition dharma.

The 37-year-old, who recently lost his father Ram Vilas Paswan, the LJP founder, also alleged that the Bihar Chief Minister had behaved in a haughty manner when the former Union minister had called on the JD(U) chief last year with the request to accompany him for filing of nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha.

London to face tougher Covid-19 curbs

Millions of London residents will face tougher 'Tier 2' Covid-19 measures from Saturday, with a ban on households mixing indoors, as part of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new '3-Tier' coronavirus alert system enforced to curb the spread of the disease.

The alert system comprises three levels: "Medium", "High" and "Very High".

Speaking at London's City Hall, Mayor Sadiq Khan said there was "simply no other option", the BBC reported.

Prakash Javadekar flags off 50 CPCB teams to curb pollution in Delhi-NCR

To check the rising pollution levels across Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR), Union Minister of Environment Prakash Javadekar on Thursday flagged off 50 teams of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for conducting field visits to the various hot spots to ensure checks on pollution. The field visits starting on October 15 will continue till February 28 next year.

The teams will inspect the NCR region to locate the major sources of air pollution. Apart from Delhi, they will keep an eye on the hot spots identified in the NCR including Gurugram, Faridabad, Ballabhgarh, Jhajjar, Panipat and Sonepat in Haryana, and Noida, Ghaziabad and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh as well as Alwar and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

AUM under NPS, Atal Pension Yojana crosses Rs 5 trillion: PFRDA

The total assets under management of the National Pension System and Atal Pension Yojana have crossed Rs 5 lakh crore, regulator PFRDA said on Thursday.

Besides, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority hopes to hit a target of Rs 6 lakh crore AUM by the end of this fiscal.

As on October 10, 2020, the total number of subscribers under the NPS and APY has crossed 3.76 crore, and the asset under management (AUM) has grown to Rs 5,05,424 crore, the pension fund regulator said in a virtual press conference.

Quick AI adoption essential for future of work in India: Intel

Chip giant Intel on Wednesday said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is essential to the future of work in the post-pandemic world, with over 90 per cent respondents in a survey considering AI to be essential or highly relevant to their businesses in India.

More than 40 per cent of small and micro revenue firms are using AI for decision support while in medium sized firms, nearly 50 per cent rely entirely on human decision-making as they still do not use AI, revealed the report by Intel India based on two surveys in the country.

Being in denial will not help, Kejriwal to Javadekar on stubble burning

Being in denial will not help, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday after Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar asserted that stubble burning contributes to only 4 per cent air pollution.
 
Taking to Twitter, the chief minister sought to know why pollution has suddenly increased in Delhi-NCR in the last fortnight if stubble burning causes only 4 per cent pollution.
 
"Staying in denial will not help. If stubble burning causes only 4% pollution, then why has pollution suddenly increased last fortnite? Air was clean before that. Same story every yr.
 
"There's no massive jump in any local source of pollution in last few days to cause this spike?," Kejriwal said in tweet.
 
Earlier in the day, Javadekar said that stubble burning is not a major factor for air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

BARC suspends ratings of TV news channels for 3 months amid TRP controversy

Amid a controversy surrounding its viewership data for TV news channels, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has decided to suspend its weekly ratings of TV news channels for a period of three months. Read on...

Supreme Court refuses to entertain the petition filed by Republic TV and Arnab Goswami against Mumbai police's investigation against the channel in TRP Scam


PM Modi pays tribute to A P J Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary

PM Modi pays tribute to A P J Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary, says India can never forget his indelible contribution towards national development, be it as a scientist or the country's president.

Smoky haze shrouds Delhi-NCR as air quality enters 'very poor' zone

Smoky haze shrouds Delhi-NCR as air quality enters 'very poor' zone; stricter anti-air pollution measures come into force under Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) from today

Oil prices hold gains after US inventory drops, Opec complies with curb

Oil prices edged higher on Thursday, extending their 2% gains from the previous session, after data showed U.S. crude stockpiles fell last week, while OPEC and its allies were seen complying with their pact to curb output in September.
 
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 8 cents, or 0.2%, to $41.12 a barrel at 0430 GMT, while Brent crude futures rose 7 cents, or 0.2% to $43.39 a barrel. Read on...

Religion should be separate from political power & state shouldn't interfere/encourage/discourage any religion, tweets Congress leader, then delete it

Religion should be separate from political power & state shouldn't interfere/encourage/discourage any religion. In this context, I cited example of Kumbh fair expenditure, it was huge: Congress leader Udit Raj on his now-deleted tweet questioning UP govt's spending on Kumbh fair

UK PM Johnson expresses "desirability" for trade deal with European Union

Ahead of a European Union (EU) summit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed the "desirability" of a new trade deal with the bloc, but also his disappointment that more progress had not been made.
 
Johnson's comments came during a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday evening, Downing Street said in a statement. Read on...

Chandigarh: Leaders of several farmers' unions of Punjab conduct a meeting to discuss Farm Laws at Kissan Bhawan

US elections: Twitter locks White House Press Secretary's personal account

Twitter locked the personal account of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany after she shared a news report regarding alleged corruption by the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, President Donald Trump has said.
 
Trump and his campaign alleged that this was because of a story from the New York Post which made allegations against Biden's son Hunter Biden that he leveraged access to his father in exchange for payments through his position on the board of a Ukraine company. Read on...

Genset ban to CPCB vigil: What changes as Delhi moves to curb pollution

Click HERE to read measures taken by the government to curb pollution from today.

CPCB to deploy 50 teams in Delhi, NCR for strict vigil to curb pollution

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will deploy 50 teams for extensive field visits from October 15 to ensure strict vigilance as pollution levels mount in Delhi and adjoining areas.
 
The teams will visit Delhi and adjoining and nearby cities such as Noida, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ballabgarh, Jhajjar, Panipat and Sonepat.
 
The team will also closely monitor Alwar, Bharatpur in Rajasthan and the vigil against pollution will continue till February 28 next year.
 
CPCB teams will monitor sources of pollution at ground level and polluting activities for immediate action. The teams will focus on hotspot areas where the problem gets aggravated.
 
An Environment Ministry spokesperson said that they will be using app for regular updates on air quality.

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