India in 2 minutes

Toxic gas leak factory operated without environment permit

The South Korean polymer factory near Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh which leaked toxic gas last week lacked mandatory environmental clearances. The incident left 12 people dead and hundreds unwell.

Experts say the revelation exposes a dangerous gap in India's enforcement of environmental laws.

Rs20 trillion aid to revive economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government will spend a total of Rs20 trillion ($375 billion) to help Asia's third-largest economy weather the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The package amounting to 10 per cent of India's gross domestic product will help the economy get back on its feet after weeks of stay-at-home restrictions, he said in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, without giving details.

Fifa postpones women's Under-17 World Cup

The women's Under-17 World Cup, due to be held in India in November, has been postponed for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament, to be played in five cities across the country, will now start on Feb 17, football's governing body Fifa said.

Carbon emissions drop for first time in four decades

India has seen a year-on-year reduction in carbon emissions for the first time in four decades.

An economic slowdown, growing use of renewable energy and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic have all contributed to the fall, analysis from the environmental website Carbon Brief has found.

Indian and Chinese soldiers engage in cross-border skirmish

An "aggressive" cross-border skirmish between Chinese and Indian forces last Saturday resulted in minor injuries to troops, a spokesman for India's Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

Eleven soldiers - four Indian and seven Chinese - were reported to have been injured in the incident, which took place during a patrol at a remote, mountainous crossing close to Tibet in in Nuka La, north Sikkim.

Kerala toddy shops open and close in a flash

The much awaited opening of toddy shops in Kerala on Wednesday turned out to be a damp squib due to the non-availability of the popular local brew.

There are close to 3,590 toddy shops in the state. But the major ones in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kannur did not open.

Mumbai invokes colonial-era law

One of India's largest cities has invoked a colonial-era law to draft thousands of doctors to work in its hospitals, fuelling concern that the medical system is becoming overwhelmed by virus cases despite the country's weeks-long lockdown.

Letters have been sent to as many as 75,000 doctors in Mumbai with a private practice requiring them to sign up for at least two weeks' duty at one of the state-run hospitals.

Those who defy the order risk prosecution and imprisonment under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 and losing their licence to practise medicine.

Pharmacist dies after drinking chemical concoction

A pharmacist in Chennai died and his boss was left hospitalised after the pair drank a chemical concoction they had developed in an effort to treat coronavirus.

The men worked for a herbal medicine company and were testing their treatment - a mix of nitric oxide and sodium nitrate - at a house.

Mr K. Sivanesan, 47, died on the spot while Mr Rajkumar is recovering from the poisoning.

Uttar Pradesh 'gold digger' dies

Sadhu Shobhan Sarkar, the saint who sent an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team on a gold digging spree in 2013 in Dhundia Khera village in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district, died on Wednesday.

He had claimed that he dreamt of a gold reserve of 1,000 tonnes under the palace of Rao Ram Baksh Singh, a 19th century chieftain in Unnao's Daundia Khera.

ASI teams started digging in the area and thousands thronged the site to witness the emergence of gold. However, after several days of digging when no trace of gold was found in the area, the operation was called off.

Manipur villagers build 80 bamboo huts for quarantine In a pioneering community effort, villagers in Manipur have built more than 80 huts to quarantine people as thousands have started returning to the state from various parts of the country.

The centre was built without any financial assistance from the state government in Senapati district's Tungjoy village, about 115km from the state capital, Imphal.

Contact-tracing app tops 100 million users in 41 days

The Indian contact-tracing app Aarogya Setu has reached 100 million users among the country's 450 million smartphone owners, 41 days after its release.

This figure represents unique users - and not just those who have merely downloaded the app.

The app allows people to self-assess whether they have caught Covid-19 by answering a set of questions. It then uses this information to alert users if they come in contact with someone who might be infected.

Aarogya Setu also delivers updates on India's testing efforts to fight the coronavirus and tips to stay safe.

Man pedals 1,350km on rickshaw to reach home

Middle-aged migrant worker Govind Mandal reached Jharkhand's Deoghar district on Tuesday with his wife and baby son after pedalling nearly 1,350km on a rickshaw from New Delhi.

He was thrown out of his job as a motor mechanic by his employer in a Delhi garage when the coronavirus lockdown was imposed. After managing for days in the national capital, he decided to buy a second-hand rickshaw for Rs4,800 when he had just Rs5,000 left, to return home.

Major credit line for small businesses, lenders

The Central government said on Wednesday that it will offer nearly US$60 billion of loan guarantees for small businesses, shadow banks and power companies as part of measures to combat the economic damage caused by the coronavirus.

In addition, it will set up two debt and equity funds amounting to US$9.3 billion to support stressed businesses and will contribute to the social security funds of workers for three months.

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