The government’s flagship programme for national highways, BharatmalaPariyojana (BMP) Phase-I, — initially proposed to be completed by 2022 — will now be completed by 2027 and owing to the five-year delay, the estimated project cost has doubled from ₹5.35 lakh crore to ₹10.63 lakh crore.
This information was furnished by the Union ministry of road transport and highways before the Parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, which presented its latest report on road infrastructure in the RajyaSabha on Monday.
NHAI chairperson AlkaUpadhyaya said that all the works under the BMP-Phase 1 will be awarded latest by 2024. “Our award position has improved this year (2021-22) and the same momentum will continue in the financial year 2022-23.”
A senior transport official said the delay occurred due to Covid-19 as it became difficult to get the workers back to sites for two years.
Joe Biden says 'will make sure Ukraine has weapons to defend against Russia'
US president Joe Biden on Tuesday said that he would provide support to Ukraine in the form of "weapons, food, and money" as Kyiv continues to resist Russia's offensive, which has entered the 20th day. The US also expressed its willingness to welcome the refugees with “open arms” as Ukrainians continue to flee the war-torn nation. “We will make sure Ukraine has weapons to defend against the invading Russian force. We will send money and food and aid to save Ukrainian lives. We will welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms (sic),” Joe Biden tweeted.
The President's remark came after Britain said Russia could be planning to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine in response to a staged fake attack on Russian troops. The White House also sounded a similar warning a few days ago.
There are also reports that Moscow has sought military equipment from China in its invasion of Ukraine even as Beijing dismissed it as “disinformation”. Holding “intense talks” - that continued for seven hours - on Monday, the United States warned China against helping Moscow in its invasion. "We have communicated very clearly to Beijing that we won't stand by," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. "We will not allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses."
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, has killed many, displaced more than 2 million people, and raised fears of a wider confrontation between the Kremlin and Washington, the world's two biggest nuclear powers. Russia's “military operation” in Ukraine is being said to be the most significant attack on a European state since World War Two.
Reserve Bank of India removes interest cap for microfinance loans
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has increased eligibility criteria for microfinance loans to a household having an annual income of up to Rs 3 lakh while removing the interest rate cap on such loans. It has also asked all lenders to put in place a board-approved policy on pricing.
In the final guidelines for microfinance loans released on Monday, the RBI said it will scrutinise the rates charged by the lenders so that they do not charge usurious rates, and has asked the lenders to put in place a ceiling on pricing of loans and related fees.
The microfinance institutions are required to disclose pricing-related information to a prospective borrower in a standardised simplified fact sheet. Further, the RBI has asked the lenders to prominently display the minimum, maximum, and average interest rates charged on loans in all its offices, in the literature issued by them, and details on its website.
::Science and tech::
NASA opens Moon sample collected nearly 50 years ago
The Apollo missions to the Moon brought a total of 2,196 rock samples to Earth. But NASA has only just started opening one of the last ones, collected 50 years ago.
For all that time, some tubes were kept sealed so that they could be studied years later, with the help of the latest technical breakthroughs.
NASA knew "science and technology would evolve and allow scientists to study the material in new ways to address new questions in the future," Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement.
Dubbed 73001, the sample in question was collected by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt in December 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission -- the last of the program.
The tube, 35 cm long and 4 cm (13.8 inches by 1.6 inches) wide, had been hammered into the ground of the Moon's Taurus-Littrow valley to collect the rocks.
Djokovic reclaims No.1 ranking after Medvedev suffers shock loss at Indian Wells
Just a fortnight after Daniil Medvedev became the first player outside the 'Big Four' to reach the top spot in the ATP rankings in 18 years, the young Russian lost the elusive spot to the man he claimed from - Novak Djokovic. Following a shock 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 loss to Gael Monfils on Tuesday at the Indian Wells Masters, Medvedev lost the No.1 ranking leaving Djokovic with a guaranteed opportunity to reclaim the position next week.
The 26-year-old had become the first player outside Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to be named as the world No.1 in ATP list after Andy Roddick in 2004, after Djokovic had lost in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships against Jiri Vesely. He was also the thrid Russian player to achieve the feat after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin. While the latter spent nine weeks in the top, Kafelnikov spent six weeks.
Medvedev needed to make the quarters of the Indian Wells to protect his ranking, the veteran French player halted his run.