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Bridge collapses killing over 90 in Gujarat, India

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A British-era bridge in Gujarat’s Morbi has collapsed just a week after renovation, killing at least 91 people yesterday, NDTV reported. It said search is on for over 100 others, who have fallen into the river. A special team has been formed to probe the matter.

The suspension bridge — 200 km from Ahmedabad — collapsed at 6.42 this evening when around 500 people had congregated on it to perform some rituals in connection with the Chhath puja. .

According to reports, around 100 people are still feared trapped in the waters of the Machchhu River. Videos from the spot showed many struggling in the water, trying to reach the bank in the dark. Many of the dead are women and children, locals say. Seventy people have been rescued and admitted to hospital.

The cable bridge in Morbi — nearly 150 years old and a popular tourist spot — was closed for seven months for renovation. It was reopened to the public on October 26, the Gujarati New Year. There was a Rs. 17 ticket to access the bridge.

“Renovation happened last week. We are also shocked. We are looking into the matter… The government takes responsibility for this tragedy,” Brijesh Merja, Gujarat’s minister for Labour and Employment, told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Gujarat, tweeted, “I am deeply saddened by the tragedy at Morbi. Talked to Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel and other officials about this. Relief and rescue operations are going on in full swing and all necessary assistance is being provided to the affected”.

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Rs. 20 Bn loan lifeline for SMEs

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The government has taken measures to implement a Rs.20 billion credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector in Sri Lanka.  

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted its consent to the proposal forwarded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies Minister to implement a credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department, Cabinet Spokesman, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said the proposed Rs.20 billion will be spent on the entire project which has two components.

“Out of this, Rs.15 billion will be used to strengthen existing and new enterprises and the remaining amount of Rs.five billion will be used to support enterprises under the non-performing loan category.

A significant number of small and medium scale entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing, import, export, tourism, apparel and various other commercial operations have found it very difficult to continue running their enterprises as a result of the economic downturn and the impact of external factors beyond their control.

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide working capital support for the Small and Medium Enterprise sector as a relief. The proposed programme is intended to provide credit facilities to existing micro, small and medium scale enterprises for further expansion and recovery of their businesses through licensed commercial banks and licensed specialised banks at concessional interest rates.

(dailynews.lk)

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Bakery industry in crisis as bread and bun sales decline

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The All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association (ACBOA) has reported a significant drop of around 50% in the sales of cakes, bread, and buns in the local market. The association attributes this decline to the high manufacturing costs currently faced by the bakery industry.

According to the ACBOA, the costs of margarine and butter have surged to Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 3,000 per kilogram, respectively. Additionally, the association cited challenges in obtaining imported eggs from India, forcing them to purchase locally produced eggs at Rs. 60 each.

The chairman of the association expressed concerns about the impact these rising costs have on the bakery industry. In light of these challenges, the ACBOA is urging the government to provide concessions and work towards reducing the prices of essential ingredients before the upcoming Sinhala and Hindu New Year.

The association’s plea emphasizes the need for government support to help stabilize the bakery industry and ensure its sustainability amid the current economic challenges. Further updates on the situation and any government response will be monitored closely.

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Former Minister Ronnie de Mel no more

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Former Minister – Ronnie de Mel has passed away today (27) while being treated at a private hospital, reports say.

He was aged 99 years old.A former civil servant, he was the Minister of Finance from 1977 – 1988 under the United National Party government and holds the record for the largest number of budgets presented by a finance minister.

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