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Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Indian ships, aircraft widen search for missing Malaysian aircraft to Bay of Bengal

India has widened the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, which disappeared from the radars early on Saturday while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people board, to the Bay of Bengal at the request of the Malaysian government.

 
India has widened the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, which disappeared from the radars early on Saturday while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people board, to the Bay of Bengal at the request of the Malaysian government.
 
An official press release said here today that the Malaysian authorities had requested for the extension of the search to the Bay of Bengal in area of about 9000 sq km (15 km x 600 km).
 
"This area is approximately 900 km due west of Port Blair. Search in this area would be undertaken by the resources of Eastern Naval Command," it said.
 
Earlier, the Government had deployed assets of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Indian Air Force in a coordinated search of the area in South Andaman Sea for the missing airliner, which also had five Indians and a Canadian of Indian origin among its passengers.
 
Indian Navy has been nominated as the lead service for the coordination of the operation. The joint effort is being coordinated from Maritime Operations Centre of the Indian Navy in New Delhi.
 
The release said specific areas had been allocated by the Malaysian authorities for search by Indian ships and aircraft. Presently, two ships of Indian Navy, INS Saryu and INS Kumbhir, are combing the designated areas in South Andaman Sea.
Hunt for missing jet spreads to Indian Ocean
 
INS Kesari has replaced INS Kumbhir at around 1500h today for the search as it is also carrying an integral helicopter.  In addition, two Coast Guard vessels are also carrying out search along the coastline. Two Dornier aircraft of Indian Navy and Coast Guard are also carrying out aerial search in the vicinity of the Andaman coastline.
 
The Joint Operations Room at Port Blair has been activated to monitor the progress of the search operations. The Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command has been nominated as the Overall Force Commander of the Indian Forces.
 
 
The Boeing B777-200 ER aircraft, operating flight MH370, was reported missing off the Vietnamese coast around 0240 hours Malaysian time on Saturday. 
 
The plane had departed from Kuala Lumpur at 1241 Saturday morning and was scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30 am local Beijing time on the same day.
 
Over the past five days, a lot of information has been thrown up, but most of them have turned out to be false leads and a massive search operation, involving ships and aircraft from several countries, has not found any trace of the missing aircraft. India is the latest country to have joined the search efforts in its territorial waters.
 
Malaysian police have said they are looking at all kinds of possibilities, including terrorism, hijacking, sabotage, mechanical failure and passengers or crew members with personal or psychological problems.
 
The airline has deployed teams of caregivers in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, consisting of its trained staff and volunteers from NGOs to take care of families of the passengers and crew of the aircraft.
 
Over the past four days, the search and rescue teams have expanded the scope of their operations beyond the flight path to the West Peninsula of Malaysia at the Straits of Malacca. 
 
"The authorities are looking at a possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang. All angles are being looked at. We are not ruling out any possibilities," the airline had said in a statement on Tuesday.
 
The last known position of MH370 before it disappeared off the radar was 065515 North (longitude) and 1033443 East (latitude).
 
The search and rescue mission has been joined by teams from countries such as Australia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, the United States of America and now India.
 
Apart from the search in the sea, search on land in between these areas is also being conducted.
 
The airline said the aircraft, was carrying a total of 239 people, comprising 227 passengers (including two infants) and 12 members of crew. 
 
According to the manifest, the Indians on the flight were identified as: Mr Vinod Kolekar, 59; Ms Chetana Kolekar, 55; Mr Swanand Kolekar, 23; Ms Chandrika Sharma, 51; and Mr Kranti Shirsath, 44. The list also includes a Canadian of Indian origin, Mr Muktesh Mukherjee, 42.
 
The passengers are of 14 different nationalities. All crew on board are Malaysians.
 
The passengers include 153 from China/Taiwan (including one infant), 38 from Malaysia, 5 Indians, 7 Indonesians, 6 Australians, four from France, three (including an infant) from the United States, two each from Ukraine, Canada and New Zealand, and one each from Russia, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.
 
The flight was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a Malaysian aged 53 with total flying hours of 18,365hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981. First officer, Fariq Ab.Hamid, a Malaysian, 27, has total flying hours of 2,763 hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007.
 
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The families of passengers may contact +603 7884 1234 (Kuala Lumpur) / +8610 6437 6249 (Beijing), the airline said.
 
Among the latest theories is one that suggests that the aircraft could have been deliberately flown across the Malay peninsula towards the Andaman Islands by someone with aviation training, hundreds of km from its intended flight path.
 
Malaysia Airlines did not give out any new information today, except to say that it would continue to cooperate with the search and rescue mission being coordinated by the Department of Civil Aviation under the Ministry of Transport.
 
"Malaysia Airlines is fully aware of the on-going media speculations and we have nothing further to add to the information we have already provided," it said.
 
"The aircraft is still missing, and the search area is expanding," Malaysia's acting Minister of Transport Hishamuddin Hussein told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.
 
"We are now pushing further into the South China Sea, and further into Indian Ocean," he said.
 
Mr Hussein said as many as 57 ships and 48 aircraft from 13 countries were involved in the search efforts. "Our priority remains finding the plane," he said.
 
He said investigating teams would not release any information until it had been properly verified and corroborated.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Andaman Islands region

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An  earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.6 on  the Richter scale, shook the Andaman Islands region late last night.
 
A bulletin from the India  Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 12.3°N and longitude 93.7°E, occurred at 2219 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 116 km.
 
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Depression over Bay of Bengal may reach north AP, south Odisha coasts on Saturday morning

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The depression over southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts around December 9 morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
In a bulletin issued at 1130 hours today, IMD said the depression had moved northwards with a speed of about 35 kmph during past six hours and lay centred at 0830 hrs IST of today near latitude 12.0º N and longitude 88.0 ºE, about 870 km southeast of Gopalpur and 875 km to the east-southeast of Machillipatnam. 
 
"The system is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts around 9th December morning. The system is likely to intensify further into a deep depression during the next 24 hours.
 
"However, there is a probability of slight weakening of the system when it reaches near north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts," the bulletin said.
 
Under the influence of the system, light to moderate rainfall was very likely at most places over Andaman Islands and at a few places over Nicobar Islands during the next 24 hours.
 
Rainfall was also very likely at most places over north Andhra Pradesh on December 8-9, over Odisha during December 8-10 and over coastal districts of West Bengal on December 8, with isolated heavy falls.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, were very likely over and around Andaman Islands during the next 24 hours and decrease thereafter, the bulletin said.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, very likely to prevail along and off north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts from today evening to December 9 morning and will decrease thereafter, it said.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough around Andaman Islands during the next 24 hours. Sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts from today evening to December 9 morning, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Andaman Islands were advised not to venture into sea till the forenoon of tomorrow and fishermen along and off Nicobar Islands were advised not to venture into deep sea during the same period.
 
Fishermen along and off north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts were advised not to venture into deep sea today and tomorrow. Fishermen along and off north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts were advised not to venture into sea till December 9 morning.
 
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Cyclone Ockhi weakens, heads towards south Gujarat, north Maharashtra

Photo:IMD
Photo:IMD
Even as cyclone Ockhi over eastcentral Arabian Sea is gradually weakening and moving towards South Gujarat and north Maharashtra,  a well-marked low pressure area has developed over southeast Bay of Bengal, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said today.
 
A bulletin issued by IMD at 1620 hours today said Ockhi had moved further north-northeastwards with with a speed of 13 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1430 hours IST near latitude 15.2º N and longitude 69.0º E, about 590 km southwest of Mumbai and 770 km south-southwest of Surat. 
 
"It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards, weaken gradually and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by the night of tomorrow, the 5th December 2017," it said.
 
The bulletin said heavy rainfall was light to moderate rainfall was very likely at a few places over Saurashtra and south Gujarat region today. Light to moderate rainfall was very likely at most places over Saurashtra and south Gujarat (Valsad, Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, Dang, Tapi, Amreli, Gir- Somnath, Bhavnagar, Diu, Daman, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli districts) tomorrow with heavy rainfall at isolated places, and light to moderate rainfall at many places in the two regions on December 6.
 
According to it, light to moderate rainfall was very likely over north Konkan, including Mumbai, in Maharashtra today. Light to moderate rainfall was also likely at most places over north Konkan (Palghar, Thane, Raigarh, Greater Mumbai, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Pune districts) tomorrow, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 50-60 kmph, gusting to 70 kmph, were very likely along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts from today from tonight to December 6 morning.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts from tonight till December 6 morning, the bulletin said.
 
The IMD advised fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off south Gujarat and north Maharashtra coasts from today till December 6 morning.
 
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The bulletin said the low pressure area over southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining south Andaman Sea was very likely to become a depression during the next 24 hours and further intensify into a deep depression during the subsequent 48 hours. It is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts during the next three days, it said.
 
According to it, rainfall was very likely at most places over Andaman Islands over Andaman Islands during the next three days, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Rainfall was also very likely at many places over north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha on December 7 and 8, it said.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 30-40 kmph, gusting to 50 kmph, were likely around Nicobar Islands today and 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, on December 5 and 6 and would decrease thereafter.
 
Sea condition would be rough to very rough around Nicobar Islands during December 4 to 6.
 
Fishermen along and off Nicobar Islands are advised not to venture into sea during this period. Similarly, fishermen along and off the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coasts were advised not to venture into the sea from December 6 to 8.
 
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Joint Special Forces Training Camp in Andaman and Nicobar Islands witness special operations

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Various Special Operations training events were carried out during the Joint Special Forces Training Camp held in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands earlier this month, including Special Heliborne Operations, reflex firing drills, survival training and anti-terrorist operations.
 
The Joint Special Forces Training Camp is conducted annually under the aegis of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff with a view to furthering integration between the Services in the field of Special Operations.
          
This year, the exercise was conducted from November 4 to 22 involving 60 Special Forces personnel from the three Services. The supporting assets included C-17, C-130 AN-32 and Dornier aircraft, Sea King and MI-17 V5 helicopters and amphibious ships. The final tactical exercise was dovetailed into DANX exercise of the three Services, which was also conducted at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at the same time period, an official press release said.
 
The highlight of the exercise was the airborne insertion of Marine Commandoes at sea in tandem with Combat Expendable Platform drops with inflatable Gemini craft from C-130 aircraft at night along with Combat Free Fall and Special Heli-borne Operations by the Special Forces personnel, the release added.
 
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Defence of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Exercise concludes

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The five-day Defence of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Exercise (DANX), conducted under the aegis of the Andaman & Nicobar Command concluded here today.
 
From the planning stage onwards, a joint and integrated approach was adopted for synergistic application of forces, an official press release said.
 
The main objective of the exercise was to practise and validate procedures and drills of all the Command forces aimed at defending Andaman & Nicobar Islands.  Accretional forces from the mainland including fighters, Special Forces, Naval ships and heavy-lift transport aircraft participated in the exercise.
 
The highlights of the exercise were fighter ops, night para jumps at sea, slithering of troops from helicopters and amphibious landings of troops by ships.  
 
After the exercise, the Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command applauded all the four components for their planning and precise execution of the Command plans and urged all to focus on the takeaways from the exercise for being fully prepared for any eventuality in the future.
 
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Island Development Agency approves holistic development of nine islands

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday reviewed the concept development plans and detailed master plans for the holistic development of nine islands.
 
Of these islands, four are in Andaman & Nicobar Islands -- Smith, Ross, Long and Avis -- and five in Lakshadweep -- Minicoy, Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam and Suheli, an official press release said.
 
 The project, steered by NITI Aayog, aims at promoting and implementing development based on a sustainable approach to building a thriving maritime economy of the project islands. 
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh, chairing the meeting,  expressed satisfaction at the progress made since the previous meeting on July 24 when directions were given to identify and execute infrastructure and connectivity projects together with provisioning of water and electricity. 
 
The meeting noted that site development potential reports have clearly mapped and delineated environmentally sensitive zones in the project islands and considering the unique maritime and territorial bio-diversity of the islands, enhanced connectivity has been recommended as one of the key priorities. 
 
Accordingly, it was decided that the Naval air station at Shibpur near Diglipur in northern Andaman & Nicobar Islands would be co-used as Joint User Airport. 
 
During the meeting, it was also decided to develop a PPP package, including an airport (Joint User Airport) at Minicoy Island, to unlock the tourism potential.  It was agreed to promote tuna fishing industry for improving livelihoods in Lakshadweep. 
 
Mr Rajnath Singh directed all concerned to expedite implementation of ongoing key infrastructure projects in the islands and develop community-based tourism in consultation with local stakeholders. 
 
NITI Aayog was also asked to drive the formulation of PPP projects and proposed detailed guidelines to boost private sector participation.
 
The IDA was set up on June 1, 2017, following the Prime Minister’s review meeting for the holistic development of islands.
 
The meeting was attended by Lt. Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Admiral D.K. Joshi, former Navy Chief (Vice Chairman of IDA), Cabinet Secretary P. K. Sinha, CEO, NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Environment, Forest & Climate Change, C. K. Mishra and representatives of Ministries of Tourism, Power, Defence, Health, Telecommunications and Civil Aviation.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Andaman Islands region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale, shook the Andaman Islands region late last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 14.1°N and longitude 92.7°E, occurred at 2350 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Nicobar Islands region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Nicobar Islands region this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 6.3°N and longitude 92.9°E, occurred at 1953 horus at a focal depth of 30 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Sitharaman visits Andaman & Nicobar Command

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, arrived here today on a two-day visit to the Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC).
 
She was received at INS Utkrosh by Lieutenant Governor Admiral (Retd) D K Joshi and Commander-in-Chief, ANC, Vice-Admiral Bimal Verma.
 
On arrival, she was accorded a joint Services guard of honour by the troops of Andaman & Nicobar Command. Subsequently, during her visit to the Headquarters, ANC, the Minister was given a comprehensive briefing on the security environment and thrust areas of the command, an official press release added.
 
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Sitharaman to visit Andaman & Nicobar Command

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will pay a two-day visit to the Andaman & Nicobar Command on October 18-19.
 
An official press release said here today that, on her maiden visit to the Command, Ms. Sitharaman would celebrate Diwali with troops and interact with their families during various events over the two days.
 
Ms. Sitharaman will visit the operational area of the Command and Air Force Station Car Nicobar. She will also wreaths at the Swatantra Jyoti in Cellular Jail and Tsunami Memorial at Car Nicobar, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Andaman Islands region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Andaman Islands region in the early hours of today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 12.6°N and longitude 91.9°E, occurred at 0102 hours at a focal depth 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in North Andaman Sea

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the North Andaman Sea this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 12.3°N and longitude 95.2°E, occurred at 1930 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Rajnath, Gadkari, on two-day visit to Andaman & Nicobar Islands

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari will lay the foundation for several national highways and shipping projects worth about Rs 1321 crore during their two-day visit to Andaman & Nicobar islands today and tomorrow.
 
They will lay the foundation stone for four National Highways projects worth Rs 1121 crore and several shipping projects worth Rs 200 crore at Port Blair, Diglipur and Baratang today and tomorrow, an official press release said.
 
The highways projects for which foundation stone will be laid include construction of 26 km of NH between Beodnabad- Ferrargunj at a cost of Rs 170 crore and 56 km of NH between Austin Creek and Kalra Junction at a cost of Rs 410 crore.
 
In addition, foundation stone will be laid for construction of Middle Strait Creek Bridge and Humphrey Strait Creek Bridge at an estimated cost of Rs 262.97 crore and Rs 277.17 crore, respectively.
 
Work is also in various stages of progress for other highway projects. National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) is handling highways work amounting to Rs 6330 crore in A&N Islands. Much of these works pertain to rehabilitation and up-gradation of NH-4.
 
On the shipping side, an alternate sea route to Baratang Island will be launched. The project has been completed at a cost of Rs 45.16 crore and aims to improve connectivity of the island from Port Blair, reduce traffic on the route which passes through the Jarawa Tribal Reserve, thus promoting tourism without disturbing the tribal areas. 
 
The Ministers will also lay the foundation stone for extension of wharf in Hope Town, Port Blair by 200 meters at an expenditure of Rs 17.49 crore. The wharf is used by Indian Oil Corporation for discharging LPG and other petroleum products.
 
The extension of jetty would allow berthing of bigger vessels of upto 160 meter length and higher capacity. This will help in increasing availability of LPG cylinders in the area while reducing logistic costs. In addition to this, foundation stone will also be laid for construction of Additional Approach Jetty, an extension of Berthing Jetty  and dredging in front of jetty, Neil Island at a cost of Rs. 38.19 crore and extension of existing New Dry Dock – II in Port Blair at a cost of Rs 96.24 crore.
 
Shipping facilities in the inter-island sector are being augmented. New vessels are being constructed across various categories at a total cost of about Rs 1350 crore. In all, 25 ships are proposed for acquisition by the A&N Administration, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Andaman Islands region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Andaman Islands region early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 12.9°N and longitude 91.9°E, occurred at 0501 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Two earthquakes shake Andaman Islands region

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Two earthquakes of slight intensity shook the Andaman Islands region this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The first quake, measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale, had its epicentre at latitude 13.0 N and longitude 92.0 E and occurred at 1819 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
The second tremor, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, occured in the same area at 2005 hours ata focal depth of 10 km, the bulletin added.
 
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Banwarilal Purohit appointed Governor of Tamil Nadu, Jagdish Mukhi moves to Assam

Banwarilal Purohit
Banwarilal Purohit
The President today appointed Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit as the new Governor of Tamil Nadu.
 
Mr. Purohit will be suceeded as Governor of Assam by Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, who is the Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
 
Brig. (Dr.) B. D. Mishra (Retd.)  has been appointed as the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh while Mr. Satya Pal Malik will be the new Governor of Bihar and Mr. Ganga Prasad the Governor of Meghalaya.
 
The President has also appointed for Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral (Retd.) Devendra Kumar Joshi as the new Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in place of Prof. Mukhi.
 
The appointments will be with effect from the dates the incumbents assume charge of their respective offices, the communique said.
 
Maharashtra Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao has been discharging the functions of the Governor of Tamil Nadu, in addition to his own duties, since August 31, 2016 after Mr. K. Rosaiah completed his tenure on August 30.
 
Admiral Joshi, 63, had resigned as Chief of the Naval Staff on February 26, 2014, taking moral responsibility for a series of accidents and incidents which took place in the preceding few months and caused great embarassment for the Navy.
 
Mr. Purohit, 77, who was appointed Governor of Assam on August 17, 2016, is a former member of the Lok Sabha, having been elected from Nagpur first as a Congress candidate in 1984 and 1989 and later as a member of the BJP in 1996.
 
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Before that, he was elected as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1978 as served as a minister in the state government in 1982-83. 
 
Prof. Mukhi, 74, used to be a BJP leader in Delhi. He had served as Minister for Finance, Planning, Excise and Taxation and Higher Education in the Delhi government. He has also worked as a teacher at the Shahid Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi. He was elected from the Janakpuri constituency to the Delhi Assembly for seven consecutive terms since 1980 but lost in the 2014 elections.
 
Brig. (Retd.) Mishra, 78, served during the 1962 war with China, the 1971 war that saw the liberation of Bangladesh and in the operations in Sri Lanka in 1987-88. He has also served as a Commander of the National Security Guard (NSG) and was involved in the successful rescue operation during the Indian Airline plane hijacking at Amritsar in 1993.
 
Mr. Malik, 64, is a former member of the Lok Sabha from Aligarh constituency in Uttar Pradesh (1989-91), while Mr. Prasad has served as a Member of the Bihar Legislative Council.
 
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Stranded tourists evacuated from Havelock by Indian Navy

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Tourists stranded in Havelock in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands following the cancellation of ferry service that had developed a defect have been evacuated by the Indian Navy, an official release said today.
 
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been experiencing heavy rains and rough seas since September 17.
 
An official press release said that, on that day, a message by the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) was received from the civil administration that, due to a defect in the hull, the return trip for tourists from Havelock by civil ferry Makruzz was cancelled. 
 
It was also intimated that a number of passengers, who had their flights scheduled for the morning of September 18, were stranded and required to be brought to Port Blair.
 
As the civil ferries do not ply at night to Havelock, the Andaman and Nicobar Command had been approached for ferrying the stranded tourists. Two ships of the Naval Component, INS Bangaram and INS Battimalv (Fast Attack Craft class) set out on the mission despite torrential rains and very rough weather.
 
Subsequently, 24 civilian tourists (10 women, 10 men and four children) were taken on board INS Bangaram at Havelock and ferried to Port Blair. Additionally, 54 officers from Defence Services Staff College, who were on a visit to the islands and got stranded due to the cancellation of the ferry, were also taken on the ships. 
 
Thus a total of 78 stranded personnel were ferried back to Port Blair on the two ships. In the traditional role of support to civil authorities, the tourists were given accommodation inside the ship as the sea state was very bad and were also served with refreshments, the release said.
 
On arrival in Port Blair at about 2230 hours, the tourists were provided a Naval transport to their places of stay in Port Blair. The prompt action by the ANC and the help extended by the ships was highly appreciated by the stranded tourists, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Andaman Islands region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Andaman Islands region late this evening.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 13.6°N and longitude 91.8°E, occurred at 2018 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Andaman and Nicobar Islands region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Andaman and Nicobar Islands region early this morning.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 12.2°N and longitude 93.1°E, occurred at 0407 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Andaman Islands region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Andaman Islands region late last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 11.0°N and longitude 94.1°E, occurred at 2214 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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Moderate earthquake jolts Andaman Islands region

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale, jolted the Andaman Islands region early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 10.0°N and longitude 93.6°E, occurred at 0540 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
Earlier late last  night, an earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale, had been recorded in the Nicobar Islands region. The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 8.2°N and longitude 93.4°E, occurred at 2336 hours yesterday, the bulletin added.
 
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Moderate earthquake shakes Nicobar Islands region

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Nicobar Islands region today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 9.2°N and longitude 93.0°E, occurred at 1222 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Navy's second Landing Craft Utility ship commissioned at Port Blair

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Andaman and Nicobar Islands Lieutenant Governor Jagdish Mukhi commissioned into the Indian Navy its second Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk-IV class ship here yesterday.
 
IN LCU L52(GRSE Yard 2093) has been indigenously designed and built by  Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata. 
 
"The commissioning of L-52 is yet another manifestation of the potential of the country’s indigenous design and ship building capability," a press release from the Ministry of Defence said.
 
According to it, LCU MK-IV ship is an amphibious ship with the primary role to transport and deploy Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore. These ships would be based in the Andaman and Nicobar Command and can be deployed for multi-role activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands.
 
The ship, commanded by Commander Kaushik Chatterjee, has a complement of five officers and 46 sailors and is capable of carrying 160 troops in addition. The ship, displacing 830 tons, is capable of transporting various kinds of combat equipment such as Main Battle Tanks Arjun, T72 and other vehicles. The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems like Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS).
 
The remaining six ships of the same class are in advanced stages of construction at GRSE and are scheduled to be inducted in the next two years, the release added.
 
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Cabinet approves closure of ANIFPDCL, Port Blair

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today approved the closure of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL), Port Blair, a Central Government undertaking and discharging the liabilities of all the employees.
 
The closure will help to stop unproductive loans to ANIFPDCL from the Union Government and enable a more productive utilization of assets, an official press release said.
 
This would be achieved by offering Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) / Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) package to willing employees and by retrenchment under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 of those not opting for VRS/VSS including settlement of other liabilities, if any, it said.
 
At present, there are 836 employees on the rolls of the corporation. The closure will be done by infusion of funds of Rs. 125.72 crore through budgetary support from the Union Government for funding VSS of all employees on 2007 notional pay scales and for discharging other liabilities.
 
Government loans of Rs. 186.83 crore given to ANIFPDCL will be written of and accrued interest of Rs 185.18 crore with freezing of interest as on March 31, 2017, after the closure of the Corporation.
 
Auction of movable assets (Plant & machinery, electrical equipment, vehicles & office equipment, furniture & fixture, elephant & livestock, plantation & other inventories etc.) will be done through Metal Scrap Trading Corporation Ltd. (MSTC Ltd),
Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will transfer/sale of immovable assets i.e. land and /or buildings of ANIFPDCL through NBCC Ltd.
 
ANIFPDCL was set up in 1977 with the objective of developing and managing forestry plantations in the Islands. It has been operating three main projects -- Forestry Project, Red Oil Palm Project (ROP) and Katchal Rubber Project (KRP).
 
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The forestry operations were the main activities of the corporation and contributed around 75% of the total revenue. Due to the suspension of the forestry activities in view of the order dated October 10, 2001 and May 7, 2002, of the Supreme Court.
 
The ANIFPDCL has become an overall loss making venture since 2001 onwards. As a result, the ANIFPDCL was not able to pay salary and wages to its employees. In order to ensure disbursement of salary to the employees of tine Corporation and other statutory payments, the Government provided financial assistance to the ANIFPDCL in the form of interest bearing loan.
 
During the last 15 years, various committees were appointed and professional agencies were engaged by the Ministry from time to time and they have thoroughly examined all possible avenues that could be availed for the revival of the forest corporation, including right sizing the staff. Based on those decisions, several proposals were examined, but none of them fructified. After a thorough examination, the Government  decided to close down the corporation, the release added.
 
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