National Conference on PDS Reforms held at Vijayawada on December 4-5

A two-day National Conference on Public Distribution System (PDS) Reforms was held on December 4-5 here as part of the efforts to improve the functioning of the PDS through automation of Fair Price Shops and computerization of Supply Chain Management.
The conference was attended by the representatives from 20 States along with those from NIC, WFP and GIZ. 
Important aspects of PDS reforms which came up for discussion in the workshop included seamless working of the online systems, strategy for grievance redressal, enhancing the outreach of the system to the deprived segments of the society, effective safeguards for non-denial of entitled food grains to the beneficiaries and viability of fair price shops. The participating States shared their experiences and initiatives in these areas.
Enforcement of the provisions of National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 regarding oversight and grievance redressal in partnership with States/UTs also figured in the discussions, an official press release said.
The participants also visited fair price shops, godowns and call centres for a first-hand exposure to the innovations like equipping ePoS devices with Best Finger Detection (BFD), Fusion Finger Detection (FFD) and Iris  features to minimize the instances of failure of biometric authentication.
They also were shown the integration of electronic weighing machines with ePoS devices, cashless transaction through ePoS, distribution of foodgrains for ICDS and MDM schemes through ePoS and management of the distribution of foodgrains without biometric authentication.
The participants saw the recent initiative of Village Mall Scheme aimed at improving the viability of fair price shops. In order to set up Village Malls in the FP Shops, the Andhra Pradesh Government has tied up with Reliance Group for ten districts and with Future Group for another three districts, the release added.

Death toll in Vijayawada boat mishap rises to 18

The death toll in Sunday evening's boat mishap in the Krishna river near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh has risen to 18 with the recovery of two more bodies since last night, official sources said.

Krishna boat tragedy: Death toll rises to 18
The death toll in Sunday evening's boat mishap in the Krishna river near here in Andhra Pradesh has risen to 18 with the recovery of two more bodies since last night, official sources said.
The tragedy occurred when a boat carrying about 40 tourists from various parts of Andhra Pradesh capsized in the river around 5 pm yesterday.
As many as 15 people were rescued alive, Krishna district officials told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene of the tragedy. According to other sources, the victims included six women and four children.
There was no clarity on the number of people who were travelling in the boat and search and rescue efforts continued through the night to look for any possible survivors, the officials said.
Local fishermen and others jumped into the waters and managed to save 15 people, the sources said. Officials said 16 bodies were recovered from the river by late yesterday evening and two more since then, including one early this morning.
Teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the fire service and other emergency services are involved in the search and rescue efforts and senior district officials are camping at the spot.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu was due to visit the scene of the tragedy today, while State Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya visited the spot last night and this morning.
She told journalists that the private company which owned the boat did not have the required permissions to ferry so many passengers and an inquiry would be held to establish it was allowed to carry so many people.
The company had received the ill-fated boat only yesterday morning and was carrying out a trial run when it capsized, sources said.
The boat was carrying the  passengers from Bhavani island to the Pavitra Sangamam to witness Pavitra Harati, a ritual which attracts a lot of tourists, when the mishap occurred.
Several of the passengers were said to be from Prakasam district and some others from Nellore, the sources added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the mishap. "Capsizing of a boat in the Krishna River is anguishing. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in this tragedy. Andhra Pradesh Government and @NDRFHQ have been working on rescue operations," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.

16 dead as boat carrying tourists capsizes in Krishna river near Vijayawada

At least 16 persons drowned when a boat carrying about 40 tourists capsized in the Krishna river near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday evening, official sources said.

16 dead as boat capsizes in Krishna river in Andhra Pradesh
At least 16 persons drowned when a boat carrying about 40 tourists capsized in the Krishna river near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh this evening, official sources said.
As many as 15 people were rescued alive, Krishna district officials told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene of the tragedy. According to other sources, the victims included six women and four children.
There was no clarity on the number of people who were travelling in the boat and search and rescue efforts were continuing till late into the night to look for any possible survivors, the officials said.
Local fishermen and others jumped into the waters and managed to save 15 people, the sources said. Officials said 16 bodies were recovered from the river.
Teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the fire service and other emergency services were involved in the search and rescue efforts and senior district officials were camping at the spot.
The boat, operated by a private company, was carrying the  passengers from Bhavani island for the Pavitra Sangamam to witness Pavitra Harati, a ritual at Ferry village near here, which attracts a lot of tourists, when the mishap occurred.
Several of the passengers were said to be from Prakasam district and some others from Nellore.

Naidu launches national highway, waterway projects in Andhra Pradesh

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated or laid the foundation stones  for several National Highway projects and a project for development of the Muktyala-Vijayawada stretch of Krishna River (National Waterway – 4) at a function here yesterday.
Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari, Andhra Pradesh Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu were amongst those present on the occasion.
Seven national highway (NH) projects were dedicated to the nation and foundation stones were laid for six NH projects in Andhra Pradesh, the total cost of all the projects being Rs. 4,193 crore, an official press release said.
Foundation stone for the Phase-I for development of Krishna River (National Waterway -4) was also laid. In the first phase of the project, the stretch between Muktayala and Vijayawada will be developed for transportation. The total project cost is Rs. 7,015 crore and the length of the waterway 315 km.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Naidu said interlinkingof rivers and protection of rivers was the sacred duty of everyone in the country.
He said that, in Andhra Pradesh till 2014, the total length of national highways was 4193 km and 3720 km of new highways have been declared since then. Total investment of Rs. 1 lakh crore is planned for development of national highways under various schemes in Andhra Pradesh, he said.
He said the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme, which linked Krishna and Godavari rivers, saved Krishna delta from a drought-like situation arising from water scarcity in river Krishna. He said that more and more interlinking of rivers will be beneficial for farmers who feed the nation. Everyone should take active part in this noble cause, he said.
Mr. Naidu congratulated the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister for making Telugu language mandatory in schools. He advised the state government to make knowledge of Telugu compulsory to get jobs in Andhra Pradesh and also to make it a mandatory subject for all students, irrespective of the medium of instruction school adopts, in the state. He said he was not against learning other languages but only wanted people to be proficient in their own mother tongue before pursuing other languages.
Mr. Gadkari said  that the Union Government would spend more than Rs. 1 lakh crore on improving national highways in Andhra Pradesh and it would give a tremendous boost to the development of the state. He said a six-lane access controlled greenfield Amaravathi Expressway will be built to connect the new capital city Amaravathi with Anantapur and also provide connectivity to Kurnool and Kadapa. The project has been approved  with a total length of 557 km and cost of about Rs. 25,000 crore. 
He added that the Andhra Pradesh Government is preparing the detailed project report (DPR) and it is in the process of acquiring land.
The Minister also said that under Sagaramala programme, several port-related projects would be taken up in the state. The capacity of the Visakhapatnam port would be expanded. Visakhapatnam-Chennai industrial corridor was another major project which would benefit the state enormously and it would be taken up expeditiously, he added.
Mr. Gadkari  gave assurance that the Polavaram irrigation project would  be completed before the next General Election in 2019 and the Union Government would render all necessary assistance to the State Government for the purpose.
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister thanked the Union Minister and said he was confident that Polavaram project would be completed on time, with the Centre's assistance.

Five people, including four Spaniards, die in road accident in Andhra Pradesh

Four Spaniards -- two men and two women -- and the driver of their mini-bus died when a container truck crashed into their vehicle in a head-on collision in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh this morning.
Seven other Spaniards suffered injuries in the mishap and were taken to a private hospital in Bengaluru, where the condition of two of them -- a man and a woman -- was stated to be serious.
Chittoor District Superintendent of Police Rajasekhara Babu told NetIndian over the telephone that the 11 Spaniards had come to see development activities being carried out by the Rural Development Trust, run by a group from Spain, in villages of Anantapur district.
They were on their way from Anantapur to Puducherry in a Tempo Traveller mini-bus when the mishap occurred on a sharp curve on the Madanapalle-Punganuru Road. 
According to Mr. Babu, the driver of the truck appeared to have lost control over his vehicle on the curve and crossed over to the right hand side of the road and collided head-on with the oncoming bus. The truck was on its way from Chennai to Mumbai. All five victims died on the spot, he said.
The injured persons were initially treated at the area hospital in Madanapalle before being shifted to the Columbia-Asia Hospital in Bengaluru.
District Collector P S Pradyumna and Mr. Babu visited the scene of the accident, about two hours away from Chittoor district headquarters.

10 dead as bus falls into canal in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh

Bus falls off bridge, 10 dead, several injured
At least 10 people died and several others suffered injuries when a private bus they were travelling in crashed off a bridge into a canal near Moolapadu village in Penuganchiprolu mandal of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh early this morning.
District Collector A. Babu told NetIndian over the telephone from Vijayawada that the mishap occurred around 5 am today when the bus was on its way from Bhubaneswar to Hyderabad.
He said the bus jumped the median on the four-lane highway, a part of the Golden Quadrilateral, and fell into the canal through a gap in the two bridges on either side of the road.
Mr. Babu said some others suffered injuries and were rushed to hospitals in Vijayawada, about 50 km from the scene of the accident, where the condition of one of them was stated to be serious. 
The bus, belonging to Diwakar Travels, was carrying 44 passengers in all. The deceased included nine passengers and the driver of the bus, he said.
Local people were the first to rush to the spot and help extricate the passengers from the bus. Senior district administration and police officials also reached the scene shortly thereafter.

Rajnath lays foundation stone for NDRF campus in Andhra Pradesh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday laid the foundation stone for the new National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) campus at Konda Pavuluru, Gannavaram, Krishna in Andhra Pradesh.
Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information & Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and senior officers were also present on the occasion.
The campus will come up on 50 acres of land provided by the Andhra Pradesh Government and the expenditure for construction will be borne by the Central government. The campus will be completed in two years. 
The 10th Battalion of NDRF is responsible for looking after the areas of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka for disaster response.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Rajnath Singh applauded the NDRF for combating disasters within the country and beyond and committed himself to the modernisation of the force.
He said the NDRF today had the competence to handle radiological, nuclear and biological disasters. Its efforts have been appreciated not only in India but also in countries like Nepal and Japan where it has provided disaster relief. 
Recalling a conversation with the Mayor of a Japanese city, the Union Home Minister said that the mayor was particularly impressed by the way in which NDRF teams have not only rescued the survivors but also recovered the bodies of victims with full dignity.
Appreciating NDRF for being effective, efficient and responsive, the Minister said that people wanted more NDRF Centres and the Ministry was working on it. The personnel of this unique force will be provided with world class accommodation, he promised.
Referring to the request made earlier by Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, Mr Rajnath Singh said the issue of setting up of a Grey Hounds Battalion Centre and CRPF Battalion Centres in Andhra Pradesh is being seriously examined by the MHA.
Earlier, Mr Venkaiah Naidu in his speech said that the Union Government is fully aware of the needs of the people while fighting disasters, whether natural or manmade. The government has increased compensation for loss of life from Rs. 1.2 lakhs to Rs. 4 lakhs and the parameter of 50% crop loss for considering in giving relief has been reduced to 33% crop loss.
Mr Chandrababu Naidu also appreciated the NDRF for its prompt and effective response during disasters, specially Hudhud and Wardha cyclones. He announced that the new NDRF campus will be connected to Vijayawada bypass (4KM) with a metal road very soon and water supply for the campus will be provided form Pollavaram canal. He also requested the Union Home Minister to speed up the implementation of the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

Govt. launches two new energy efficiency schemes

The Centre today launched two new energy efficiency schemes, National Energy Efficient Agriculture Pumps Programme and National Energy Efficient Fan Programme.
The programmes were launched by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu during the inaugural session of the two-day international workshop on energy efficient lighting. 
These schemes will be implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of public sector undertakings (PSUs) under the Ministry of Power.
Under the National Energy Efficient Agriculture Pumps Programme, farmers can replace their inefficient pumps free of cost with the new BEE star rated energy efficient agricultural pump-sets. These pumps will come enabled with smart control panel and a SIM card, giving farmers the flexibility to remotely control these pumps from their mobile phones and from the comfort of their homes, an official press release said.
EESL will distribute 200,000 BEE star rated pump-sets to the farmers under this programme, which will lead to 30% of energy savings by 2019. This translates into an annual savings of approximately Rs 20,000 crore on agricultural subsidies or a saving of 50 billion units of energy every year, it said.
The release said that, with the usage of the 50 Watts BEE 5 Star rated ceiling fans, to be distributed under the National Energy Efficient Fan Programme, it is estimated that consumer’s electricity bills will come down by about Rs. 700-730 per year. Thus, the cost recovery of purchasing these fans would be less than two years.
These fans are 30% more energy efficient as compared to conventional fans, which range from 75-80 watts. At present, two energy efficient fans will be provided to each consumer at Rs 60 a month per fan on EMI basis. The EMI amount will be added to the consumers’ electricity bills for two years. This scheme will be available to the consumer on providing a copy of latest electricity bill along with a copy of residence proof at the designated distribution centre. The consumer can also purchase the fan by paying Rs. 1250 upfront.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Naidu called upon the people to feel responsibility of saving energy which is a big challenge the nation is facing. He said the State government is moving ahead with innovative ideas in saving energy. When Visakhapatnam was hit by Hudhud cyclone last year, the government replaced all the incandescent bulbs with LED which saved 21,000 mw of power and also saved money of the State exchequer, he added.
“Andhra Pradesh is the first state in India to adopt more than 1.8 crore LED bulbs under the UJALA scheme which has helped the state government to save Rs 2.6  crore daily. It has always been a pioneer in adopting energy efficiency programmes. To add to the success of UJALA in the state we will now implement energy efficient fan programme and the energy efficient agriculture pumps programme. This will help us to manage our peak demand and in-turn help the state become energy sufficient,” he said.
Earlier, the Chief Minister inaugurated the workshop on Energy Efficient Lighting by unveiling the Energy Efficient Fan and by switching on Energy Efficient Agriculture Pump installed in Rajamundry, 150 km from Vijayawada, through remote control. He also distributed the first lot of LED bulbs and fans to the consumers at the function.
Andhra Pradesh Principal Secretary, Energy, Ajay Jain, welcomed the gathering. Dr Ashok Sarkar, World Bank Group, Zhinguiang Xu, Deputy Director General, National Energy Conservation Cetre, China, TERI Director General Ajay Mathur, EESL Chairman Rajeev Sharma and EESL Managing Director Saurabh Kumar were among those present. In all, representatives of 15 countries across the globe and State governments are attending the conference.

NHAI okays substitution of concessionare in Vijayawada-Gundugolanu highway project

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has approved the harmonious substitution of Gammon Infrastructure Private Limited by Brookfield India Holding Pvt. Ltd. for the Vijayawada-Gundugolanu highway project in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which was stalled. 
An official press release said the substitution was possible due to the recent policy initiative of the Government wherein the concessionaires who are facing difficulties in implementing public private partnership (PPP) projects can be substituted in harmonious manner by a new investor. 
The project was approved at a total cost of Rs 1684 crore. Later, NHAI observed that the concessionaire was facing financial stress and was unable to meet its obligations under the Concession Agreement. 
"This initiative of NHAI and the Government will help in salvaging this prestigious project by bringing in fresh investment from M/s. Brookfield India Holding Pvt. Ltd. (a subsidiary of M/s Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP, an international infrastructure fund), who will bring in $ 100 million as equity investment," the release added.

Rajnath to chair 26th Meeting of Southern Zonal Council in Vijayawada on Saturday

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will chair the 26th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council to be held in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh tomorrow. 
The Southern Zonal Council comprises the States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Puducherry. 
The Chief Ministers of all these states and senior officers from both Central and State Governments are expected to participate in this meeting, an official press release said.
The 8th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Southern Zonal Council was held at Hyderabad on November 19 to scrutinize the agenda for deliberation and resolution for this meeting. 
Issues of Inter-State and Centre-State cooperation and coordination have been flagged for this meeting, such as coastal security, peninsular region industrial corridor, introduction of peninsular tourism trains, finalization of inter-state reciprocal transport agreement, curbing the use of unacceptable levels of pesticides in fruits and vegetables, maintaining uniform standards of nursing courses, and so on.
Some other substantial issues of Centre State and Inter-State matters are also likely to be raised by Member States in the Council, the release said.
The Zonal Councils, created under the State Reorganization Act, 1956, are advisory bodies that discuss and advise the Central and State Governments on matters of common interest pertaining to a gamut of subjects such as infrastructures, health, security, social welfare, linguistic minorities and border disputes, and on the action to be taken on them.
There are five Councils, one for each Zone viz., Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern, and Central. The secretarial functions of the Zonal Councils have been transferred to the Inter State Council Secretariat with effect from 1 April, 2011. The North-East Council set up under a separate Act of 1971 is under the administrative ambit of the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER). 
The meeting of each Zonal Council needs to be held once in a year to iron out the differences between the governments on issues of development concerning regional interest and national programmes. However, meetings of most of the zonal councils were quite infrequent during the past. 
"Given the great potential of these institutions in resolving regional and interstate issues through their consultative mechanism, the present Government immediately after coming to power decided to revive and further strengthen these fora. Inter State Council Secretariat, which looks after the work of Zonal Council since 2011, was instructed to take on the preparatory work to complete meetings of all Zonal Councils, pending for years, by the end of 2015," the release said.
"It was a challenging task as it mandatorily required holding of all the meetings of Standing Committees of these Zonal Councils prior to the Councils’ meetings. It called for immense coordination and networking to have all the states to meet on the table under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister for each of these Zonal Councils. 
"State elections, natural calamities, law and order problems and such other pressing situations, more often than not, stymied the execution of this task but the government machinery rose to the occasion and pulled it off. With completion of this meeting of Southern Zonal Council which is last in the series of the Councils’ meetings this year, all the meetings of the Zonal Councils will be completed as committed by the Government," it added.

Andhra Pradesh proposes AMRUT Action Plan for 31 cities at cost of Rs 28,756 crore

The Andhra Pradesh government has proposed a comprehension action plan under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for 31 cities and towns of the state at an estimated cost of Rs 28,756.30 crore.
The plan is aimed at ensuring basic infrastructure relating to water supply, sewerage and septage management, drainage, urban transport and green spaces and parks during the next five years in these cities and towns.
An official press release said that, for the current financial year (2015-16), the State Government has sought approval of the Miistry of Urban Development for its State Level Annual Action Plan (SAAP) involving central assistance of Rs. 673.12 crore for water supply projects and development  of parks.
The State’s SAAP is based on city level plans formulated after assessing the gaps in basic infrastructure and investments to be made to meet the norms prescribed for urban areas.
The release said the extent of coverage of urban households with water supply connections in AMRUT cities and towns in Andhra Pradesh ranged from 7.50% in Tenali to 78.80% in Rajahmundry. On the whole, 50.22% of all urban households in the Mission cities have water connections at present.
Cities with  below 30% coverage include Tenali (7.50%), Madanapalle (20%), Chittor(21%) and Vizianagaram(30%).
Cities with coverage between 31% and 50% include Srikakulam (58%), Bhimavaram(43.60%), Kakinada(49.36%), Vijayawada(48.75%), Gudivada (48%), Machilipatnam(50%), Tirupati(45%), Ongole (49%), Nellore(45%), Proddatur(45%), Tadipatri(42.50%), Hindupur(37%), Guntakal (47%), Anantapur (45%), Kurnool (45.94%) and Adoni (43%).
Cities with coverage between 51% and 75% coverage include Visakhapatnam (61%), Tadepallegudem(57.37%), Eluru (66.31%), Chilakaluripeta (51%), Narsaraopeta (61.46%), Kadapa(52%), Dharmavaram(69%) and Nandyal (50.85%).
Rajahmundry has more 78% of households with water supply connections, the release said.
The per capita water supply rnaged from 20 litres per capita per day (lpcd) in Madanapalle to 145 lpcd in Vijayawada as against the norm for urban areas of 135 lpcd. On an average, water supply in AMRUT cities in Andhra Pradesh at present is 104 lpcd.
Cities with water supply of less than 50 lpcd include Madanapalle-20 lpcd, Chittor(48) and Tadipatri (49). Cities with water supply between 50 and 100 lpcd include Vizianagaram (70), Bhimavaram(88), Tadepallegudem(78), Gudivada (95), Machilipatnam (68), Chilakaluripeta(99), Guntur(100), Ongole (88), Proddatur(73), Hindupur(56), Nandyal(73) and Kurnool (80 lpcd).
Cities with water supply between 101 and 134 lpcd include Srikakulam(115 lpcd), Vizag(109), Kakinada (108), Narsaraopeta (126), Tirupati(114), Nellore(126), Kadapa (116), Guntakal(107), Dharmavaram(114), Adoni(104). 
Eluru, Rajahmundry, Tenali, Anantapur (135 lpcd each) and Vijayawada (145 lpcd) are among the cities with water supply of 135 lpcd and more, the release said.
The State Government reported that sewerage network services are available only in six Mission cities. These include : 10% in Guntur, 18% in Proddatur, 19.56% in Vizag, 49% in Kadapa, 70% in Vijayawada and 79% in Tadipatri. It has proposed to bridge the gaps in respect of these infrastructure areas progressively over the next five years.
The State Government projected a cost of Rs. 6,117.24 crore for ensuring universal coverage of urban households in Mission cities in respect of water supply and Rs.10,888 crore for providing sewerage networks and septage management over the next five years.
To provide adequate drainage facilities in the Mission cities in the state, the State Government has proposed construction of outfall drains, major and minor drains besides rejuvenation of existing drains covering a total length of 6,753 km at an estimated cost of Rs. 6,814.85 crore.
Regarding improving urban transport, the State Government has proposed development of 336.50 kms of pathways at a cost of Rs.178.10 crore, 232 km of cycle tracks at a cost of Rs.11.50 crore, 215 kms of BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport Systems) corridors at a cost of Rs.702 crore and procurement of 710 buses at a cost of Rs.376 crore. Total investments proposed in urban transport sector over the next five years is Rs.1998.88 crore.
Development of green spaces and parks will be undertaken at a cost of Rs. 120 crore under the Atal Mission.
Capacity building of urban local bodies will be taken up at a cost of Rs. 120 crore. Administrative and Other Expenses during the Mission period till 2019 is estimated to be Rs. 2,614 crore.
The State Government reported that as required under AMRUT Guidelines, Operation & Maintenance costs of infrastructure assets to be created will be included in the Detailed Project Reports and operation and maintenance (O&M) costs will be borne by the urban local bodies through user charges including tariff rationalization, reduction of quantum of water being supplied without any collection of charges, energy conservation and efficiency improvement and improvement of systems efficiency by adopting ICT.
The Andhra Pradesh Government has assured the Urban Development Ministry that the mandated 11 urban sector reforms will be implemented in 6 to 36 months. This includes e-governance, Municipal Tax and Fee improvement, improvement in levy and collection of user charges and credit rating of urban local bodies.
The Andhra Pradesh Urban Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation (AUFIDC) has been designated as the financial intermediary for mobilization of required resources. The State Government has set up Andhra Pradesh Greening and Beautification Corporation for taking up greening projects.
Under Atal Mission, the Central Government provides assistance up to 50% of projects for cities with a population of up to 10 lakhs and one third of project cost for cities with population of above 10 lakhs. In Andhra Pradesh, only Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada have population of over 10 lakhs each, the release added.

Cabinet nod for creation of posts of Directors for four new NIDs

The Union Cabinet today approved the creation of four posts of Directors for four new National Institutes of Design (NIDs) at Kurukshetra (Haryana), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Jorhat (Assam) and Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh). 
The Cabinet had already approved financial implications including salaries, for setting up of these new NIDs in its meeting held in February, 2014. 
The National Design Policy was approved by the Cabinet in February, 2007. One of the components of the Action Plan for implementation of the policy is setting up of four more NIDs on the pattern of NID, Ahmedabad. This would help in spreading quality education in design to all regions of India, an official press release said.

New Delhi-Visakhapatnam AC AP Express flagged off

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu and Union Ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu, Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, Bandaru Dattatreya and Y.S. Chowdary and Railway Board Chairman  A.K. Mital flagging off the New Delhi–Visakhapatnam AC AP Express Train via Vijayawada in New Delhi on August 12, 2015.
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu and Union Ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu, Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, Bandaru Dattatreya and Y.S. Chowdary and Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mital flagging off the New Delhi–Visakhapatnam AC AP Express Train via Vijayawada in New Delhi on August 12, 2015.
The Indian Railways today introduced a new train, 22415/22416 New Delhi – Visakhapatnam AC AP Express via Vijaywada in keeping with an announcement made in the Railway Budget 2014-15. 
The new train meets the long pending demand of the people for connectivity from Delhi to the state of Andhra Pradesh as well as the newly formed state of Telangana.
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who flagged off the new train, also announced that the existing 12723/12724 New Delhi-Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh Express will be renamed as 12723/12724 New Delhi-Hyderabad Telangana Express with effect from November 15, 2015.
UNion Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Bandaru Dattatreya and Y S Chowdary and members of Parliament from both states were present on the occasion.
Some MPs and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) were also present at the Visakhapatnam station.
The timings of the New Delhi – Visakhapatnam AC AP Express are as follows: 
(a) 22416 New Delhi – Visakhapatnam AP AC Express; it will depart New Delhi at 06:40 a.m. and will reach Visakhapatnam next day at 06:45 p.m. 
(b) 22415 Visakhapatnam – New Delhi AP AC Express; it will start Visakhapatnam at 07:45 and will reach New Delhi at 07:00 p.m. 
This train will consist of 16 coaches which include one AC 1 coach, five AC 2 coaches, seven AC 3 coaches, power cars and pantry car. 
Commercial stoppages of this train enroute are Jhansi, Gwalior, Agra Cantt. Bhopal, Balharshah, Chandrapur, Nagpur, Pandhurna, Khammam, Warangal, Peddapali Jn., Ramagundam, Sirpur Kagaznagar, Duvvada, Anakapalle, Samalkot Jn., Rajahmundry, Tadepalligudam, Eluru and Vijaywada. 

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Coach of Kanyakumari-Howrah Express derails in AP, no one hurt

A portion of a second class-cum-brake van coach (SLR), next to the engine, of the 12666 Kanyakumari-Howrah Express derailed between Sri Venkateshwarapalem and Kavali stations on the Gudur-Vijayawada section of South-Central Railway in Andhra Pradesh this morning, but no one was injured.
A press release from SCR said four wheels of the coach derailed when the driver of the train applied emergency brakes on seeing a herd of cattle that had strayed onto the track.
The incident occurred in the Vijayawada section of SCR around 0240 hours today.
The release said the timely action by the loco pilots -- S Ravindran and R Velu -- averted a possible major mishap. The train, which was running at a speed of around 72 kmph at that time, was stopped quickly and brought under control deftly by the pilots, it said.
Some of the cattle were run over by the train and the derailment occured because the carcasses were stuck underneath the affected coach, it said.
About 25 passengers were travelling in the coach and they were shifted to other coaches by railway staff.
An accident relief train was rushed to the spot from Bitragunta and the derailed coach was put back on the rails by 0615 hours.
The affected train resumed its onward journey at 0715 hours, the release added.

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GMR Highways commissions Hyderabad-Vijayawada, Hungund-Hospet sections


GMR Infrastructure Limited today said it had commenced commercial operations on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada section of National Highway (NH)-9 and the Hungund-Hospet section of NH-13, taking its portfolio of operating highways to eight.

The two new projects are expected to generate revenue in the range of Rs. 75 to 80 lakhs per day for the former and Rs. 18 to 20 lakhs per day for the latter, a press release from the company said.
The Hyderabad – Vijayawada project was awarded through an international competitive bidding by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) on a DBFOT basis with a concession period of 25 years including a construction period of 2.5 years.  
The four laning of the 181.5 km stretch has been completed as per requirements and also opened for traffic, the release said.
With the completion of four laning of the section, the distance of 260 km will be covered in less than 5 hours compared to 6 to 8 hours prior to the construction. Six new bypasses are developed around the towns of Narketpally, Nakrekal, Kodad, Akupamula, Sher Mohammed Peta and Navabpet which aid in decongesting the towns.
Other facilities include service roads on urban stretches of Chittyala, Choutapal, and Suryapet, truck lay bys, bus bays with shelters and rest areas for road users.  Also, 24-hour ambulance and emergency support services are provided for road users, the release said.
The project highway is part of the NH-9 connecting Mumbai/Pune in Maharashtra with Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh, enroute connecting the two major economic hubs of Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada and Hyderabad.
It is also a vital link, facilitating east-west traffic movement, connecting the Mumbai – Chennai and Chennai – Kolkata segments of  the Golden Quadrilateral.
The Hungund-Hospet highway is part of the NH-13 connecting Sholapur in Maharashtra and Mangalore in Karnataka and provides connectivity between mineral rich and highly industrialized districts of Karnataka and the rest of India . It also links the local industry with Mangalore and Karwar ports for export. 

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CBI registers case against bank officials in Hyderabad for graft


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had registered a case of cheating and corruption against some bank officials in Hyderabad as well as officials of a Secunderabad-based private firm and others.

A press release from the agency said the officials of the private company had allegedly, in connivance with the bank officials, fraudulently got an undue amount of Rs 7.98 crore from the bank as interest subsidy.
The Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) of Ministry of Textiles provides for an interest subsidy of 5% against the interest paid by a company on the loan taken to upgrade textile machinery.
Searches were conducted at nine places in Hyderabad and Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh in this regard. During searches, incriminating documents and evidence have been seized by CBI team, the release said, adding that further investigation was in progress.

CCI approves 6-laning of Vijaywada –Gundugolanu section of NH 5 in Andhra Pradesh


The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) yesterday approved the implementation of the project of six-laning of the Vijaywada –Gundugolanu section of National Highway (NH)- 5 in Andhra Pradesh.

An official press release said the 103.590 km project would be taken up under Phase V of the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) on DBFOT basis in BOT (Toll) mode of delivery.
The total project cost has been estimated at Rs.2011 crore, out of which Rs.327 crore will be for the land acquisition, rehabilitation, resettlement and pre-construction. 
The release said that, when completed, the project would reduce the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Vijayawada and Gundugolanu. It will also increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities. 
The project is also aimed at expediting the improvement of infrastructure in Andhra Pradesh and increase the capacity of the Golden Quadrilateral corridor.
NH-5 is an important link connecting Kolkata to Chennai, which is part of the Golden Quadrilateral Corridor. The will facilitate road users, particularly traffic on Chennai-Kolkata section of Golden Quadrilateral passing through Guntur, Krishna and West Godavari districts and Chennai- Hyderabad and Kolkata – Hyderabad section. 
The project covers the districts of Guntur, Krishna and West Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, the release added.

AP: Illicit liquor toll rises to 18, fresh cases reported

Even as the death toll in the illicit liquor tragedy rose to 18, fresh cases of people falling ill after consuming the hooch were reported today from Veduru Beedam Thanda in Mylavaram mandal, near Poratanagar Thanda, where the first incident took place two days ago in Krishna district.
Sources said as many as 12 people fell ill after consuming illicit liquor today. They were rushed to various hospitals in Mylavaram town and Vijayawada.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the Porata Nagar Thanda hooch tragedy rose to 18 as one more person died today.
The condition of four more victims was said to be critical.

Andhra Pradesh: Toll in illicit liquor tragedy rises to 14

The death toll in yesterday's illicit liquor tragedy in this agriculture and business centre in coastal Andhra Pradesh rose to 14 today with the death of 10 more people since last night.
The ten succumbed in a private hospital here where they were undergoing treatment after consuming country-made liquor at Porata Nagar Thanda in Mylavaram mandal in Krishna district, about 40 km from here.
The deceased included three women. The condition of four of the 14 being treated in private hospitals and the Government General Hospital was said to be very critical, official sources said.

Air India introduces Delhi-Vijayawada flight via Hyderabad


A new flight from Delhi to Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh via Hyderabad and a new hub and spoke flight between Chennai and Delhi as well as a direct flight between Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram are some of the highlights of national carrier Air India's winter schedule which will come into effect on October 30.

The new service, AI 544 on the Delhi-Hyderabad-Vijayawada sector will leave Delhi on all days except Tuesdays at 1255 hours and reach Hyderabad at 1505 hours, leave Hyderabad at 1550 hours and reach Vijayawada at 1630 hours.

On Tuesdays, it will leave Delhi at 1335 hours, reach Hyderabad at 1535 hours, leave Hyderabad at 1605 hours and reach Vijayawada at 1650 hours.

In the return direction flight AI-840 will leave Vijayawada on all days except Tuesdays at 1705 hours and reach Hyderabad at 1750 hours. On Tuesdays, the flight will leave Vijayawada at 1735 hours and reach Hyderabad at 1825 hours. However, it will leave Hyderabad daily at 1910 hours and reach Delhi at 2120 hours.

An Air India press release said that, for the convenience of international travelers, Air India will be introducing a new hub and spoke flight on the Chennai-Delhi sector in the new schedule to enable them to connect international flights departing from the T3 Terminal.

AI flight 043 will leave Chennai daily from Anna International Terminal at 2130 hours and reach Delhi at 0015 hours. Similarly, AI flight 042 will leave Delhi at 1805 hours and arrive Chennai at Anna International Terminal at 2045 hours. This will be in addition to the existing hub and spoke flight AI 143 / AI 142 operated between Chennai and Delhi, it said.

International passengers can complete immigration / customs formalities on arrival / departure ex-Anna International Terminal while travelling on the above flights.


Air India will be introducing a direct flight between Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram instead of the circular flights earlier. The new daily service AI-513 will leave Chennai at 0530 hours and reach Thiruvananthapuram at 0630 hours. In the return direction, flight AI 514 will leave Thiruvananthapuram at 0700 hours and arrive Chennai at 0800 hours.

According to the release, the airline will be operating an A320 flight on the Chennai-Visakhpatnam-Chennai sector offering more capacity on this sector. Flight AI-551 will leave Chennai daily at 1120 hours and reach Visakhapatnam at 1230 hours. In the return direction, the flight AI-552 will leave Visakhapatnam at 1305 hours and arrive Chennai at 1420 hours.



Vijayawada-Machlipatnam section of NH 9 in Andhra Pradesh to be four-laned


The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) yesterday approved a project for four-laning of the Vijayawada-Machlipatnam section of National Highway (NH)-9 in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.

The project will be implemented under Phase IV-A of the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) on DBFOT basis in BOT (toll) mode of delivery, an official press release said.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs.736 crore out of which Rs.130 crore will be for land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and pre-construction. The total length of the project is 64.611 km. The concession period is 20 years, including construction period of 24 months, it said.

According to the release, the project will reduce the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Vijayawada and Machilipatnam. It will also increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities, it added.



Senior journalist Nanduri Ramamohan Rao passes away


Senior journalist Nanduri Ramamohan Rao, the former Chief Editor of Telugu newspaper Andhra Jyothi, passed away in a private hospital here yesterday.

He was 82. He is survived by three daughters and two sons. The funeral will be held today, family sources said.

He had been in a critical condition in the hospital for the past ten days.

Ramamohan Rao started his journalistic carrier as a sub-editor in Andhra Patrika, a Telugu daily. Later he worked in various Telugu dailies.

He worked as Chief Editor of Andhra Jyothi Telugu daily for a few decades.

He authored a series of child stories, Harivillu which were published in Andhra Patrika weekly during 1944-54.

He penned several stories like Kanchana Deepam, Esaph stories, Naravatharam, Raju-Peda, Tamstya world tour, Vichitra Vyakthi. Viswa Darshanam and Viswa Rupam are some of his popular writings.


Man accused of 1992 murder of Indian family in Dubai sentenced to death

A CBI court in Ahmedabad has convicted Ravjibhai Manubhai Pawar of the murder of his Indian employer and four other members of his family in Dubai in 1992 and sentenced him to death.

A press release from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that its investigations had shown that Pawar, while working as a domestic servant in Dubai, had kileld Mr Ramesh K Sagar and four others of Mr Sagar's family on January 4, 1992.

He was also accused of rape and of stealing household articles, including clothes, ornaments and cash.

Pawar feld from Dubai on January 5 and came to India. On the basis of an Interpol alert, he was nabbed on January 10 by the Gujarat police and a first information report (FIR)was registered.

Since the accused was an Indian national and the offence took place outside India, the case was entrusted to the CBI. The Dubai Police had also registered an FIR and collected evidence, which was used by the CBI during investigation and trial of the case, the release said.

The chargesheet was filed on January 23, 1992 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chikhli. The trial court found him guilty and convicted him.

The case was registered by the CBI, Ahmedabad (now Gandhinagar) Branch on April 27, 1992 on the basis of the request and consent of the Government of Gujarat for futher investigation of the case filed at the Chikhli Police Station, the release added.


Jaganmohan's "odarpu yatra" to begin from August 15


Y S R Congress President and Kadapa M P Y S Jaganmohan Reddy will start his 16-day "odarpu yatra" to console bereaved families in Krishna district on August 15 and conclude it with a huge public meeting here on August 31.

YSR Congress party Central Committee member Bhumana Karunakara Reddy told reporters that 60 people had committed suicide or died in Krishna district as they were unable to bear the demise of Mr Jaganmohan Reddy's father and former Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, known popularly as YSR.

Mr Jaganmohan Reddy will console the bereaved family members during his "odarpu yatra". He said the journey would be strictly confined to consoling the bereaved families and his tour would cover about 1,150 km in the district.

During the 16-day journey, he will unveil 160 statues of Y S Rajasekhar Reddy at various places in the district.

He said Mr Jaganmohan would launch his tour at Jaggayya Pet on August 15 and conclude it by addressing a huge public meeting here on August 31.


Heavy rains damage crops in Andhra Pradesh

Heavy rains under the influence of low pressure in the Bay of Bengal caused damage to horticulture crops, mango, chilli, turmeric and pan leaf in Krishna, Guntur and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh.

The rains lashed the three districts for about three hours this morning, causing heavy losses to horticulture crops, especially mango in Nuzvid, Agiripalli Mylavaram, Gannavaram and Hanuman Junction divisions.

Farmers told reporters at Nuzvid that the mangoes ready for picking fell from the trees due to the rainfall. The rain also caused heavy damage to chilli and turmeric crop in Guntur district.

Thousands of quintals of chilli kept for drying in open fields were soaked in water resulting in heavy losses to the ryots.

Vehicular traffic on the Vijayawada-Pune NH 9 was disrupted at various points, resulting in vehicles being stranded for a distance of over ten km on either side of the road.

However, the untimely rain brought respite to the people of coastal Andhra who were reeling under unbearable humidity.


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