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India’s Prime Minister Raises Concerns over Attacks on Temples in Australia to Australian Counterpart

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India's Prime Minister Raises Concerns over Attacks on Temples in Australia to Australian Counterpart
Photo:AP

NEW DELHI: India and Australia have expressed their commitment to strengthening cooperation in defence, trade, and mobility of professionals. At the first annual India-Australia Summit held on March 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese discussed ways to enhance bilateral security and defence cooperation, including maritime security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Modi also raised India’s concerns about recent attacks on temples in Australia, which were linked to pro-Khalistan groups. Albanese assured him that the safety of the Indian community is a priority for him and invited Modi to Australia for the Quad Leaders’ Summit in May.

The two sides signed several agreements on cooperation in sports, audio-visual co-production, and the terms of reference for an India-Australia solar task force. They also signed a letter of intent for cooperation between India’s Atal Innovation Mission and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) signed last year has eliminated tariffs on more than 85% of Australian goods exported to India, benefiting consumers and providing cheaper inputs to industry. Both sides are now working on a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) to upgrade the interim trade deal and a migration and mobility pact that will benefit students and professionals.

Modi and Albanese also finalised a mechanism for recognising each other’s educational qualifications that will benefit students. They are moving forward on a mobility agreement that will be beneficial for students, workers, and professionals. The two sides discussed cooperation in green and renewable energy, especially solar and green hydrogen, and collaboration within the Quad.

Albanese arrived in Ahmedabad on March 8 for a three-day visit, during which he participated in Holi celebrations and watched the first day of the final Test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with Modi. He also interacted with leading Indian CEOs in Mumbai and visited the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in the waters off Mumbai, announcing that Australia will host this year’s edition of the annual Malabar naval exercise by the navies of India, Japan, and the US.

The India-Australia Summit signifies the strengthening of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, which includes security cooperation, trade, and people-to-people ties. The agreements signed during the summit demonstrate the intent to deepen cooperation and create new opportunities for both countries.

Karnataka

Karnataka Council Passes FAR Amendment Bill

Karnataka Council approves FAR Bill amidst uproar. Premium FAR capped at 0.4%, Transferable Development Rights at 0.6%.

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Karnataka Council Passes FAR Amendment Bill
(Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar | File Photo PTI )

The Legislative Council approved the bill enabling the sale and purchase of premium Floor Area Ratio (FAR) despite the BJP members staging a walkout during the session on Thursday.

Presented by Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who oversees Bengaluru City Development, the Karnataka Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2024 received passage in the Council after its prior approval in the Assembly. This legislation permits developers to augment building floors by acquiring additional FAR through a fee payment equivalent to 40% of the guidance value, as sanctioned by local planning authorities. Furthermore, the bill sanctions the sale of FAR.

According to Shivakumar, the inclusion of premium FAR provision is anticipated to augment the revenues of local planning authorities, enabling investment in developmental endeavors. The premium FAR allotment is capped at 0.4%, with Transferable Development Rights limited to 0.6%.

The bill mandates that the proceeds from premium FAR fees be allocated towards land acquisition and the enhancement of basic amenities. Presently, FAR determination hinges on factors like road width, zoning regulations, and other pertinent parameters.

Expressing concerns, BJP MLCs cautioned against potential traffic congestion arising from the proliferation of buildings due to additional FAR. They proposed referring the matter to a select House committee for comprehensive deliberation, while some members advocated for an in-depth discussion before tabling the bill.

Shivakumar defended the legislation, asserting its simplification aimed at benefiting all stakeholders and bolstering the revenues of local planning authorities. He underscored that the previous BJP administration under Basavaraj Bommai had intentions to amend this law.

“We’ve introduced certain amendments to the law. Premium FAR has been operational in Mangaluru for some time now, generating approximately Rs 3,000 crore in additional revenue over the past six years. This amendment extends the same benefit to the entire state,” remarked Shivakumar.

However, BJP members opposed the bill and subsequently staged a walkout from the Council.

In addition, the Council ratified the BBMP Property Tax Amendment Bill, which previously received approval in the Assembly.

Shivakumar elucidated that the bill aimed to rectify an oversight from the previous government, which led to substantial penalties on property owners. He highlighted that the 15th Finance Commission stipulated the release of grants contingent upon property tax aligning with the guidance value, necessitating the introduction of this amendment bill.

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Karnataka

Forest personnel in Karnataka search for leopard, find dog

Forest officials in Rajarajeshwari Nagar were on high alert on Monday and Tuesday in response to reports of leopard sightings from concerned residents.

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Forest personnel in Karnataka search for leopard, find dog
(Representational Image)

Forest officials in Rajarajeshwari Nagar were on high alert on Monday and Tuesday in response to reports of leopard sightings from concerned residents. However, their efforts were met with an unexpected discovery. Despite the urgency of the calls, upon investigation, officials determined that the alleged leopard was, in fact, a dog.

Responding to multiple calls from RR Nagar residents who claimed to have seen a leopard in their vicinity on February 11 and later on February 19, forest personnel conducted a thorough search operation. However, their efforts yielded no evidence of a big cat prowling the area.

Even as some residents maintained night vigils in hopes of catching a glimpse of the elusive creature, no leopard was sighted. The situation escalated when residents of a local apartment complex shared CCTV footage capturing an animal moving along the road, albeit unclearly.

With concerns mounting, residents promptly alerted forest authorities, presuming the creature to be a leopard. Forest officials mobilized their resources for a comprehensive search, only to discover that the supposed leopard was, in reality, a domestic dog.

The incident highlights the importance of accurate identification and prompt response in wildlife management, even in urban areas where encounters with wildlife are rare but not unheard of.

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Karnataka

Karnataka mandates state anthem for all schools

The Kannada & Culture Department reversed its decision, now mandating all schools to sing the state anthem. Confusion stemmed from a “printing mistake.

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Karnataka mandates state anthem for all schools
(Representative Image:tclnigerialtd)

The Kannada and Culture Department, which previously issued an order excluding private schools from singing the state anthem during assemblies, has now reversed its decision. In a new government order issued on Wednesday, it has been clarified that all schools, including private ones, should sing the state anthem. Kannada and Culture Minister Shivaraj Tangadagi attributed the confusion to a “printing mistake.”

The issue was brought up in the Assembly by Leader of Opposition R Ashoka, who questioned the initial order’s intention of excluding private schools from including the state anthem, “Jaya Bharatha Jananiya Thanujathe,” penned by Kuvempu, in their assemblies. He expressed bewilderment at why private schools were being excluded from the purview of the education department.

Ashoka criticized the officials for such decisions and expressed frustration with Minister Tangadagi’s apparent lack of control over them. The BJP state president BY Vijayendra demanded an apology from the state government, citing a recent attempt by an official from the Social Welfare Department to alter Kuvempu’s slogan in residential schools as another instance of disrespect towards the poet.

Senior BJP MLA Suresh Kumar emphasized the Kannada and Culture Department’s responsibility to safeguard the Kannada language and questioned the rationale behind such orders. Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao downplayed the issue, stating that it was a minor matter that has already been rectified, but his statement was met with condemnation from BJP members.

Tangadagi clarified that the confusion arose during the preparation of the government order, where the term “all schools” was inadvertently changed, leading to the exclusion of private schools. He termed it a “printing mistake” and assured that it has been rectified. Law Minister HK Patil acknowledged the lapse and promised action against those responsible for the error. The latest government order issued by the department now includes all schools, irrespective of their ownership status.

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