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Modi sticks to guns in Varanasi: ‘Tough decisions’ on CAA, Art 370 to stay

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PM sees tourism a key driver of $5 trn economy goal, says projects totalling Rs 25,000 cr have either been completed or are underway in holy city

Prime Minister today asserted that the ‘tough decisions’ taken by his government, including the revocation of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will not be rolled back.

“We have taken tough decisions as they were imperative in the interest, and did not buckle even under external pressure,” Modi said addressing a public meeting in his parliamentary constituency during a day’s visit.

He observed these issues were left pending by the previous regimes for narrow political considerations and vested interests.

“I want to assure you that we were resolute in our decisions and will remain resolute in future as well,” Modi said adding his government will continue to work by keeping the welfare of the poor and interests of the nation on priority.

Last month, union home minister Amit Shah, at a Lucknow rally, had also clarified the Centre would not revoke CAA under any circumstances, and blamed the opposition parties for peddling lies for vote bank politics.

Meanwhile, Modi started his address by greeting the people in Bhojpuri and invoking river Ganga to wax eloquent on as a global religious, spiritual, knowledge and tourism centre.

He said development and infrastructure projects totalling Rs 25,000 crore had either been completed or were underway in Varanasi, which would benefit the entire region in Uttar Pradesh and other Eastern states.

“Tourism is an important element in the contemporary talks around the $5 trillion economy target,” Modi said adding India had huge untapped potential for natural and heritage tourism. He said and other religious-cultural centres were being developed according to their specific requirements and intervention of technology.

The PM said the work on beautification of Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath temple and the proposed Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya had also started.

Modi said Union Budget 2020-21 had promised to expend Rs 100 trillion on infrastructure projects, which would largely benefit the smaller towns in the country. He said budget constraints or lack of political willpower would never occur in his government to impede the progress or speed of development projects.

He referred to the various central government schemes aimed at community development and helping India become self reliant viz Make in India, Startup India, Mudra, PM Kisan, Ayushman etc.

Under Startup India, 26,000 startups were registered in India, which helped tens of thousands of youth get jobs, he claimed.

Meanwhile, Modi unveiled various development and infrastructure projects worth over Rs 1,200 crore during his visit to his constituency.

Earlier, he inaugurated Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Memorial Centre and unveiled a 63 foot metal statue of one of the leading ideologues of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He also participated in the centenary celebrations of Shri Jagadguru Vishwaradhya Gurukul and released translated version of Shri Siddhant Shikhamani Granth in 19 languages.

He also dedicated to the nation a 430 bed super speciality government hospital and a 74 bed psychiatry hospital at Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

The PM flagged off the IRCTC’s Maha Kaal Express through a video link. The country’s first overnight private train journey will connect the 3 reverred ‘jyotirling’ pilgrim centres of Varanasi, Ujjain and Omkareshwar.

Modi is slated to inaugurate ‘Kashi Ek Roop Anek’ exhibition at Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Hastakala Sankul and interact with buyers and artisans from different countries including USA, England and Australia.

First Published: Sun, February 16 2020. 15:58 IST

Source: Business Standard

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Coronavirus set to claim a series of corporate victims as Brighthouse and Carluccio’s near collapse

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The coronavirus is set to claim a series of corporate victims this week as Brighthouse and Carluccio’s near collapse. 

Rent-to-own firm Brighthouse will appoint administrators today after the lockdown tipped it over the edge. 

And Italian-style restaurant chain Carluccio’s is working with administrators FRP to ‘consider all options’ in a move which could threaten more than 2,000 jobs. 

On the brink: Rent-to-own firm Brighthouse will appoint administrators after the lockdown tipped it over the edge

On the brink: Rent-to-own firm Brighthouse will appoint administrators after the lockdown tipped it over the edge

On the brink: Rent-to-own firm Brighthouse will appoint administrators after the lockdown tipped it over the edge

Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones said that his company is ‘days away from large-scale closures’ without state aid, while a group of 38 MPs have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to step in with an aid package to support the aviation sector as travel bans have decimated bookings. 

Research from accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young has revealed that the number of restaurant insolvencies last year climbed 10 per cent to 1,500, while the number of pubs which went bust also increased by 10 per cent, to 500. 

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Locked down zoo saved as Lloyds Bank stumps up £300,000

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A Somerset zoo that was forced to close its doors to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic has bagged £300,000 of funding to help it survive. 

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, in Wraxall near Bristol, was forced to shut last weekend in the run-up to its busiest time of the year, but was facing substantial costs to look after more than 1,000 animals. 

Lifeline: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, in Wraxall near Bristol, was forced to shut last weekend in the run-up to its busiest time of the year

Lifeline: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, in Wraxall near Bristol, was forced to shut last weekend in the run-up to its busiest time of the year

Lifeline: Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, in Wraxall near Bristol, was forced to shut last weekend in the run-up to its busiest time of the year

However, the family owners were able to breathe a sigh of relief after agreeing a £300,000 package with Lloyds Bank which will allow them to retain their team of specialist staff. 

Lenders are under pressure from the Government and Bank of England to support businesses through the lockdown. Lloyds has worked with Noah’s Ark for the entire 66 years the Bush family has been on site. 

Managing director Larry Bush said: ‘Running a zoo is a huge undertaking and we were really concerned about our animals. 

‘But our catering suppliers donated fruit and veg that would otherwise have been delivered to local hotels and restaurants, and the public have shown their support.’ 

 

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Arcadia halts £2m pension top-ups as it tries to cling on to cash in face of coronavirus lockdown

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Sir Philip Green’s retail empire is suspending payments to its pension scheme as it desperately tries to cling on to cash in the face of the coronavirus lockdown. 

Arcadia, which owns High Street brands including Topshop, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins, will halt the £2m monthly contributions which were agreed with The Pensions Regulator last summer to reduce a shortfall in the pension scheme. 

Under pressure: Sir Philip Green's Arcadia owns High Street brands including Topshop, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins

Under pressure: Sir Philip Green's Arcadia owns High Street brands including Topshop, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins

Under pressure: Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia owns High Street brands including Topshop, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins

The deal saw Sir Philip’s wife, Tina, who technically owns Arcadia, agree to plug the gap in the scheme by also making her own £25m per year contributions. 

She will continue to make those payments, despite the crisis hitting High Street sales. 

But pensions expert John Ralfe, who advised MPs investigating the collapse of Sir Philip’s High Street chain BHS, estimates that if Arcadia were to go bust the current shortfall in its pension scheme would be around £350m to £400m.

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