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Andhra Pradesh

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

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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.
 
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16 dead, 8 injured as truck overturns in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh

 
At least 16 dead after truck overturns in Andhra Pradesh
 
As many as 16 people died when a speeding truck carrying 34 agricultural labourers tilted on the roadside at Gandepalli in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in the early hours of today.
 
District Collector H. Arun Kumar told NetIndian from the scene of the mishap that eight of the remaining workers had been admitted to a nearby hospital for treatment of injuries.
 
They were stated to be in a stable condition, he said.
 
Mr Arun Kumar said the workers, all men, were on their way home in East Godavari district from Guntur and had decided to hitch a ride on the truck, which was carrying clinker material from Guntur to Visakhapatnam.
 
He said the driver of the truck apparently slept off at the wheel and lost control over the vehicle, which suddenly tilted towards one side on the road at around 2.30 am today.
 
The victims were trapped under the huge weight of the clinker material and most of them died of suffocation, he said.
 
The driver of the truck fled the scene after the accident, sources added.
 
The state government has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed in the incident and Rs 25,000 for each of those who suffered injuries, Mr Arun Kumar added.
 
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Mukherjee condoles loss of lives due to heavy rains, lightning in AP

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President Pranab Mukherjee today condoled the loss of lives due to heavy rains and lightning in different parts of Andhra Pradesh over the weekend.
 
"I am sad to learn about the heavy rains and lightning in different parts of Andhra Pradesh, which have caused loss of lives and injuries. My thoughts and prayers are with the injured and the families who have lost their near and dear ones," he said in a message to Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan.
 
"I call upon the State Government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families as well as medical assistance to the injured. 
 
"Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons," he added.
 
Reports reaching here said at least 20 people died after lightning struck different parts of the state such as Krishna, Guntur, East Godavari, Prakasam and Nellore districts during heavy rains on Sunday.
 
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Mukherjee condoles loss of lives in train accident in Andhra Pradesh

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President Pranab Mukherjee today condoled the loss of lives in the collision between a truck and the Bangalore City-Nanded express in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh early yesterday morning.
 
“I was saddened to learn of the collision between a truck and an express train in Anantapur in which several passengers, including Karnataka MLA, Shri Venkatesh Nayak, lost their lives," he said in his message to Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan.
 
"I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the deceased and my sincere wishes for the speedy recovery of the injured. 
 
"I am confident that the State Government and other authorities will provide all possible assistance to the bereaved families as well as the injured. 
 
"On this tragic occurrence, my thoughts and prayers go out for the people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka," the President added.
 
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Modi condoles loss of lives in Bangalore City-Nanded express train accident

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today condoled the loss of lives in the collision between a truck and the Bangalore City-Nanded express in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh early this morning.
 
"My thoughts are with the families of all those who lost their lives in the unfortunate accident of the Bangalore City-Nanded express," he said.
 
Mr Modi also conveyed his condolences to the family of Karnataka legislative assembly member and former Lok Sabha member A Venkatesh Naik, who was among the five killed inthe mishap.
 
"He will be remembered for his service to society," the Prime Minister added.
 
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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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World Bank to provide $ 104 million as additional financing under National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project-I

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India and the World Bank today signed an agreement for IDA assistance of $ 104 million for Additional Financing under National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project-I (NCRMP-I).
 
The agreement was signed here by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. John Blomquist, Program Leader and Acting Country Director in India, on behalf of the World Bank. 
 
The Project Agreement for State of Odisha was signed by Mr. G.V.V. Sarma, Principal Secretary (Disaster Management), & Managing Director, Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) on behalf of the Government of Odisha. The Project Agreement for the State of Andhra Pradesh was signed by Mr. J. C. Sharma, Principal Secretary (Disaster Management), Department of Revenue, on behalf of the Government of Andhra Pradesh. 
 
An official press release said the objective of Additional Financing under NCRMP-I is to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities to cyclone and other hydro meteorological hazards in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Through its different components, it will provide both direct and indirect benefits to the coastal communities in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. It would also provide improved access to emergency shelter and evacuation against wind storms, flooding and storm surge in high risk areas currently not covered by the original project (NCRMP-I). 
 
The project has four components: (i) Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) and Capacity building for coastal communities; (ii) Cyclone Risk Mitigation Infrastructure; (iii) Technical Assistance for National and State Level Capacity Building on Disaster Risk Management; and (iv) Project Management and Implementation Support. 
 
The project is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs through National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). At the State level, it is executed by the respective State Disaster Management Authorities. 
 
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Cabinet approves revised cost estimates for National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project Phase-I

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The Union Cabinet yesterday approved the revised cost estimates for Phase-I of the Centrally sponsored scheme of National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project for Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
 
The original cost has been enhanced by Rs. 835 crore to Rs 2331.71 crore from Rs. 1496.71 crore, an official press release said.
 
This will address the vulnerability of coastal communities to cyclone. This section of the population is generally poor and from the weaker sections of society, it said.
 
The Central Government will provide financial assistance equivalent to Rs.1843.94 crore through a World Bank loan. The remaining amount of Rs. 487.77 crore will be contributed by the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
 
The broad objectives of the project are to provide cyclone forecasting, tracking and warning systems, cyclone risk mitigation and capacity building in multi-hazard risk management. The major infrastructure being constructed includes multipurpose cyclone shelters (including shelter-cum-godown and approach roads/bridges to habitations) and embankments (including construction and renovation of saline embankments). 
 
The investments proposed in the States would strengthen the coastal infrastructure for protection of the coastal community and their evacuation, greater accessibility, improved warning dissemination and quicker response. 
 
The project is expected to benefit 10.46 lakh persons in Odisha and over 7.18 lakh persons in Andhra Pradesh. It will help protection of 38,296 hectares of land in Odisha and about 12,640 hectares in Andhra Pradesh. 
 
The increased cost will cater to the construction of additional infrastructure (246 multipurpose cyclone shelters, 204 kms. of roads and 15 bridges) for cyclone risk mitigation in these States, on the basis of the experience gained during the handling of Cyclone Phailin. This cyclone affected these States in October, 2013. 
 
The time limit of the project has been extended from 31st January, 2016 to 31st March, 2018 to complete the construction of additional infrastructure, the release added.
 
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27 dead, 34 injured in stampede at bathing ghat at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh

At least 27 people, mainly elderly women, died and 34 others suffered injuries in a stampede during Pushkaralu, when thousands of people thronged a bathing ghat for a holy dip in the river Godavari, at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh this morning.

 
27 killed in Rajahmundry stampede
At least 27 people, mainly elderly women, died and 34 others suffered injuries in a stampede during Pushkaralu, when thousands of people thronged a bathing ghat for a holy dip in the river Godavari, at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh this morning.
 
District Collector H Arunkumar told NetIndian that the injured had been admitted to hospitals in Rajahmundry, where they were stated to be out of danger.
 
He said the deceased included 21 women, nearly all of them above the age of 60. One of them was aged 30 and another 12. 
 
One of the victims was from Jamshedpur and another from Bangalore, he said.
 
"The situation is now totally under control," he said, adding that the bodies of the victims had been sent to their villages after completion of post-mortem examination and other formalities.
 
According to him, the stampede occurred around 8.30 am when thousands of people gathered at the Kothagammam ghat in the middle of the town though there are other ghats in other locations.
 
The stampede occurred, despite all the precautions taken and the barricades erected, when the unsually huge crowds surged forward towards the ghat, ignoring efforts by the authorities to divert them to other ghats.
 
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his family had taken a dip at the same spot earlier in the morning.
 
Additional police forces were rushed to the area to ensure order, sources said.
 
"It is regrettable that lives are lost in stampede at Rajahmundry Ghat. Request people not to panic. Situation brought under control," Mr Naidu said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"I request to people to head to other Pushkar ghats to avoid overcrowding at  single ghat. I'm monitoring situation from control room," he said.
 
"Request people to follow queues lines & instructions. Pilgrims' safety is top priority for us. Will provide all possible assistance," he added.
 
The state government has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed in the incident and an immediate assistance of Rs 25,000 for those injured.
 
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President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi  condoled the loss of lives in the stampede.
 
"I am saddened to learn about the stampede at the Pushkarulu Ghat of Godavari River in Rajahmundry District of Andhra Pradesh, where a number of devotees have lost their lives and many others are injured. I understand relief and rescue operations are currently underway," Mr Mukherjee said in his message to Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan.
 
"I call upon the State Government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families, who have lost their near and dear ones as well as medical assistance to the injured. 
 
"Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons," he said.
 
"Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to stampede at Rajahmundry. My condolences to the families of the deceased and prayers with the injured," Mr Modi said.
 
"I spoke to CM N. Chandrababu Naidu and discussed the situation with him. The State Government is working to restore normalcy," he added.
 
The religious event is held once in 12 years when thousands of people from the region converge in the town to take a dip in the river. This year, it was an even more auspicious occasion, from the astronomical point of view, as it occurs only once in 144 years.
 
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Modi condoles loss of lives in Rajahmundry stampede

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today condoled the loss of lives due to a stampede at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh and discussed the situation with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
 
"Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to stampede at Rajahmundry. My condolences to the families of the deceased and prayers with the injured," he said.
 
"I spoke to CM N. Chandrababu Naidu and discussed the situation with him. The State Government is working to restore normalcy," he added.
 
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22 dead as van falls into sluice near Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh

As many as 22 people died when a van carrying them veered off the road and fell into a sluice of the Dowleshwaram Barrage near Rajahmundry in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh early Saturday morning, official sources said.

 
22 dead as van falls into sluice in Andhra Pradesh
As many as 22 people died when a van carrying them veered off the road and fell into a sluice of the Dowleshwaram Barrage near Rajahmundry in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh early this morning, official sources said.
 
District Collector H. Arun Kumar told NetIndian over the telephone that those killed in the incident included six men, 10 women and six children.
 
Only a young girl from amongst the 23 people in the van survived the accident and has been admitted to a nearby hospital for treatment, he said.
 
The mishap occurred around 5.30 am, at a spot five km short of Rajahmundry, when the occupants of the van were on their way back home in Visakhapatnam district after a pilgrimage to Tirupati.
 
The driver appeared to have lost control over the van as it crossed the pavement and crashed through the railing to about 30 feet below, where the water was less than a foot deep and, therefore, added to the impact.
 
District administration and police officials as well as other emergency personnel rushed to the spot and removed the victims to hospital where all but one were pronounced dead, sources added.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the accident. "Loss of lives due to a bus accident in East Godavari district, AP is saddening and unfortunate. My deepest condolences," he said on microblogging site Twitter.
 
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Modi presents tapestry from Venkatgiri to Sheikh Hasina

The tapestry from Venkatgiri, Andhra Pradesh presented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka on June 6, 2015.
The tapestry from Venkatgiri, Andhra Pradesh presented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka on June 6, 2015.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Dhaka, presented to his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina a hand-woven tapestry from Venkatagiri, Andhra Pradesh, woven in jamdani style – a well-known tradition in Bangladesh.
 
Located in Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh, Venkatagiri is famous for handlooms, and its weavers have adopted the fine jamdani weaving technique while assimilating traditional designs of the region, such as the artwork in this tapestry that shows the Kalpavriksh tree and the Kamadhenu cow which are regarded as auspicious and bestower of prosperity. 
 
The tapestry has been woven using very fine cotton yarn and pure gold thread, with both the warp and the weft having the same count of cotton yarn. 
 
The tapestry has been done by Nellore’s national award winning artist and master craftsman Gowrabathini Ramanaiah.
 
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Kadapa airport in Andhra Pradesh to be inaugurated on June 7

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The Kadapa airport in Andhra Pradesh will be inaugurated on June 7 by Union Minister of Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju and state Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. 
 
The first flight at Kadapa will land from Bengaluru at 11.30 a.m. on that day, an official press release said.
 
The Airports Authority of India (AAI), as part of its efforts to promote regional and remote area connectivity in Tier-II and Tier- III cities, has completed the development of Kadapa airport at a cost of Rs. 42 crore. 
 
The release said the airport has a new compact pre-fabricated terminal building with a capacity to handle 100 peak hour passengers at a time. The runway, with dimension 1719m x 45m is capable of handling ATR-72 type of aircraft operations. 
 
The new apron can accommodate three ATR-72 type of aircrafts. Depending upon the growth of passenger traffic at Kadapa Airport, expansion and upgradation of the airport will be done to handle A 320 type of aircraft operations. 
 
To facilitate the development of Kadapa Airport, the government of Andhra Pradesh has made available 520 acres of land, the release said.
 
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China's GIIC to invest $ 500 milion in developing industrial park in Kakinada with GMR

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Kakinada SEZ Pvt. Ltd. (KSEZ), a subsidiary of GMR Infrastructure Limited, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Guizhou International Investment Corporation (GIIC), a consortium of three leading Chinese manufacturing companies, to set up an industrial park for high-end Chinese equipment manufacturing companies.
 
GIIC will invest $ 500 million in developing the infrastructure and various facilities of the industrial park, which would house leading Chinese manufacturing industries. These Chinese companies would additionally invest $ 2-3 billion in setting up their operations over the next five years.
 
The 2000-acre world class industrial park developed by KSEZ and GIIC would bring development across Kakinada, and generate more than 5000 jobs for both skilled and unskilled workers, a press release from GMR said.
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. Challa Prasanna, President Kakinada SEZ in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr.BVN Rao, Business Chairman - Transportation & Urban Infrastructure of GMR Infra and senior officials of GIIC in Shanghai during Mr Modi's visit to China last week.
 
Chinese companies from power equipment, electronics, wind & solar energy, smart technologies and so on are planning to set up their manufacturing units in Kakinada SEZ.
 
Apart from world class infrastructure facilities, these companies will also be able to avail various benefits from the Prime Minister’s "Make in India" campaign and Government of Andhra Pradesh’s investment incentives in the state, the release said.
 
"This is a moment of pride for us. Through this MoU with GIIC, China, we were not only able to attract investments but also provide economic development to the region and the state. As India’s leading infrastructure company, we were able to foster global partnerships through mutual consent and in accordance with the relevant domestic laws and regulations of each country," Mr Rao said.
 
KSEZ is a port-based multi-product SEZ, spread over approximately 10,500 acres. Situated strategically on the eastern coast in an area rich in oil and natural gas deposits, it has logistical linkages to national highways, railway networks, air and sea ports. The SEZ caters to the existing process industries and emerging industries like refinery, renewable energy, ship building, biotech, nanotech, IT/ITES, toys, games and sports goods and so on.
 
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Essar Ports takes over Visakhapatnam Port Trust’s iron ore handling complex

A partial view of Iron Ore Berth at Visakhapatnam Port
A partial view of Iron Ore Berth at Visakhapatnam Port
Essar Ports Ltd. (EPL) today said it had taken over Vishakhapatnam Port Trust’s (VPT) Iron Ore Handling Complex (OHC) on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis for a period of 30 years. 
 
Essar Vizag Terminals Ltd. (EVTL), a wholly owned subsidiary of EPL, will comprise three berths (two outer harbour berths and one inner harbour berth) with a combined capacity of 23 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), which will be developed in two phases.
 
“Enhancing the cargo handling capacity and mechanization of port facilities for efficient management is crucial for long term sustenance. We are very sure that Essar will develop the OHC facility with latest state-of art handling facilities and achieve higher loading rate thereby reducing the overall turn around by at least 50%," Mr M.T. Krishna Babu, Chairman, Visakhapatnam Port Trust, said.
 
A press release from Essar said the project would be developed at a cost of Rs. 1200 crore over a period of three years, and will cover the upgradation of Outer Harbour Berths (OB I & II) in  Phase I and mechanization of inner harbour berth (WQ-I) in Phase II. With the takeover of the outer berths, the operation and upgradation of the terminal will be carried out simultaneously, it said.
 
Mr. Rajiv Agarwal, CEO & Managing Director, Essar Ports, said: “The facility is well placed to cater to both the domestic and international steel Industry.  It will serve major iron ore consuming countries like China, Japan, Korea in addition to coastal movement within India. The facility has dedicated rail connectivity to India’s iron ore mining belt. This, along with the mechanized CQ III facility in Paradip port, will take Essar Port’s total east coast iron ore handling capacity to 39 MTPA.”
 
Mr. C. Satyanand, CEO, EVTL, added: “It is a proud moment for us as we will now be operating the Vizag Port’s prestigious mechanized iron-ore handling complex. We expect to achieve one of the highest cargo-handling capacities across ports in India”
 
EVTL has taken over the ore handling complex of the VPT by paying an upfront payment of Rs. 185 crore. In addition, EVTL will also pay a revenue share to VPT.  VPT had handled close to 14 MT of iron ore during FY14, the highest by any port in the country.
 
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Election Commission to hold election on June 1 to fill vacancies in AP Legislative Council

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The Election Commission today said it would hold an election on June 1 to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council by the members of the state Legislative Assembly to fill up three regular vacancies.
 
These relate to three additional seats of membrs in the council provided under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization (Amendment) Act, 2015, dated 30.03.2015, read with notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, dated 29.04.2015. 
 
The Commission will also hold a bye-election on the same day to fill a casual vacancy in the council caused by the death of Mr Paladugu Venkata Rao on January 19 this year. His term of office was upto March 29, 2017.
 
The notification for the election and the bye-election will be issued on May 14 and the last date for making nominations will be May 21. Counting of votes will be taken up at 5 pm, after the end of polling, on June 1.
 
The Commission will also hold a bye-election on the same day to fill a casual vacancy in the council caused by the death of Mr Paladugu Venkata Rao on January 19 this year. His term of office was upto March 29, 2017.
 
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Justice Dilip Bhosale to perform duties of Chief Justice of Telengana, AP HC

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The President has appointed Mr Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale, senior-most Judge of High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, to perform the duties of the office of the Chief Justice of that High Court.
 
An official press release said the appointment would be with effect from today consequent upon the retirement of Mr Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta, Chief Justice of that High Court. 
 
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Top Kerala Maoist couple arrested by AP police from Coimbatore

 
Police arrest top Kerala Maoist couple, three others in Coimbatore
A top Maoist couple from Kerala, Roopesh and his wife Shyna, who had evaded arrest for more than ten years, were arrested along with three others by the Andhra Pradesh police from a bakery near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu late last night, official sources said.
 
Roopesh, a law graduate who is wanted in 20 criminal cases, his wife and the others were tracked down to a bakery at a village near Coimbatore, where they were having coffee when the police surrounded them, the sources said.
 
They were arrested in a joint operation by the police of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
 
Confirming the arrests, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told journalists here that it was a major breakthrough in the anti-Maoist operations in the Southern states.
He said the police forces of the four states had been working diligently on the cases for many years.
 
He said the arrested persons were making efforts to create chaos and confusion in the Southern states.
 
Mr Chennithala said the Kerala government would try to get the arrested people to the state because most of the cases against them were registered in Kerala. "The law will take its own course. They will be produced in court. After that, we will try to get them," he said.
 
The sources said Roopesh's wife is a former employee of the Kerala High Court. The other three persons held have been identified as Anoop from Kerala, Veeramani from Karnataka and Kannan from Tamil Nadu.
 
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Sitaram Yechury elected as new General Secretary of CPI (M)

 
Sitaram Yechury elected new CPI (M) general secretary
Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury was elected as the fifth General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) during its 21st Congress here today.
 
His name was proposed at a meeting of the new Central Committee by outgoing General Secretary Prakash Karat and seconded by Mr S Ramachandran Pillai, who was initially in the race for the post but later withdrew.
 
The proposal was approved unanimously by the committee, party sources said.
 
Mr Yechury, 62, is a member of the party's politburo and the leader of its Parliamentary group.
 
Speaking to journalists later, Mr Yechury said the challenge before the party was to safeguard the unity and integrity of the country and protect it against communal and divisive politics. He said the party would continue to struggle against economic policies of the government which were casting a heavy burden on the people.
 
A topper in the higher secondary examination conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education, Mr Yechury did his B. A. (Hons.) in Economics from St Stephen's College, Delhi and his M. A. in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. He had joined JNU for a Ph. D. in Economics, but this was aborted because of his arrest during the Emergency.
 
Mr Yechury joined the Students Federation of India (SFI) in 1974 and the CPI (M) a year later.
 
After the Emergency was lifted, he was elected as the President of the JNU Students' Union. He went on to become the President of the SFI. He was elected to the Central Committee of the CPI(M) in 1985, the Central Secretariat in 1988 and to the politburo at the Fourteenth Congress in 1992. He was elected to Rajya Sabha from West Bengal in July 2005.
 
Mr Yechury succeeds Mr Karat, who held the post for three consecutive terms from 2005.
 
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Satyam fraud: Ramalinga Raju, brother, eight others get seven years in jail

 
Satyam case: Raju gets seven years in jail
A court here today convicted and sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment Satyam Computer Services Ltd (SCSL) founder-Chairman B Ramalinga Raju and his brother and then SCSL Managing Director B Rama Raju in the biggest case of corporate fraud in the country.
 
In all, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM), Hyderabad today convicted 10 accused persons -- Mr Ramalinga Raju, Mr Rama Raju, Mr Vadlamani Srinivas, then CFO, SCSL; Mr  S.Gopalakrishnan, then Auditor, PricewaterhouseCooper; Mr Talluri Srinivas, then Auditor, PricewaterhouseCooper; Mr B. Suryanarayana Raju, then Director, SRSR Advisory Services Ltd.; Mr. G.Ramakrishna, then Vice President (Finance), SCSL; Mr. D. Venkatapati Raju, then Senior Manager (Finance), SCSL; Mr C. Srisailam, then Assistant Manager (Finance), SCSL and Mr. V.S.Prabhakar Gupta, then Global Head, Internal Audit, SCSL in the case.
 
Apart from the Raju brothers, the other eight persons were sentenced to undergo seven years of rigorous imprisonment with fine ranging from Rs. 26 lakhs to Rs 31 lakhs.
 
Mr Ramalinga Raju had been released from the Chanculguda Central Jail here on November 5, 2011 after the Supreme Court granted them bail after he had spent 32 months in jail.
 
He was arrested in January 2009 after he admitted to inflating the financial accounts of Satyam Computer Services, then India's fourth-largest software services provider. He was charged in 2010 on seven counts including forgery, criminal conspiracy and falsification of accounts.
 
He was briefly granted bail in 2010 by the Andhra Pradesh High Court. But the Supreme Court cancelled it in October 2010 after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a petition in the apex court against the order of the High Court.
 
Satyam had plunged into a crisis when Mr Ramalinga Raju resigned on January 7, 2009 after disclosing that profits had been overstated for years and that $ 1 billion of cash and bank balances on the company's books did not exist.
 
The government, in the days that followed, removed the directors of the company and appointed six new directors to look after Satyam's operations. One of the new directors, former NASSCOM president Kiran Karnik, was on February 6, 2009 named as the chairman of the company.
 
In mid-April of that year, Satyam's new Board of Directors, appointed by the Government, selected Venturbay Consultants Private Limited, a subsidiary controlled by outsourcer Tech Mahindra Limited, as the highest bidder to acquire a controlling stake in the company. Tech Mahindra paid Rs 1756 crore to acquire 31 per cent of Satyam at a price of Rs 58 per share and later made an open offer to acquire another 20 per cent of the shares of the company. 
 
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The company was later, in June 2009 rebranded as Mahindra Satyam. In June 2013, Tech Mahindra and Mahindra Satyam completed the process of merger of the two companies.
 
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had, on February 19, 2009, registered a case against Mr Ramalinga Raju and others on the request of the Andhra Pradesh government and further orders of the Government of India.
 
The agency said its investigation proved that the accounts of SCSL were fudged for over a decade and there was a hole to the tune of approximately Rs. 5040 crores in the balance sheet as in September 2008. The institutional investors lost about  Rs 1611crores, there was a mark to market loss of more than Rs 14,000 crores, it said.
 
The CBI said the accused fudged the accounts, overstated the profits and revenues, suppressed the liabilities and availed bank loans to the tune of about Rs. 1220 crores based on forged Board Resolutions. The accused had wrongly projected a false growth of around 25% every quarter, projected a current account balance of Rs 1841 crores as against Rs 128 crores, wrongly reflected fixed deposits of Rs. 3,319 crores as against Rs. 11 crores. FD interest of Rs 375 crore was as against actuals of mere Rs. 7 lakh, it said.
 
According to the CBI, Mr Ramalinga Raju, Mr Rama Raju and Mr Srinivas had perpetrated the fraud for over a decade before it  came to light in 2009. It said employees like Mr Ramakrishna, Mr Venkatapathi Raju and Mr Srisailam had actively assisted the Rajus, while the statutory auditors and the internal auditor had knowingly failed to point out the fraud and actively connived with the brothers in suppressing the fraud.
 
It said the third brother, Mr Suryanarayana Raju, had assisted the other two in offloading the shares during the fraud period and in circulating the proceeds of the crime.
 
Following the verdict, the Rajus and the others were taken into custody by the CBI and later taken to the Cherlapally Central Prison here.
 
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Air India introduces direct flight from Visakhapatnam to Port Blair

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National carrier Air India today introduced a direct flight from the coastal city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to Port Blair in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
 
The airline already connects Port Blair to Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bhubaneswar.
 
A press release from the airline said the new flight was in addition to its daily direct flights on the Kolkata - Port Blair sector with an A319; Chennai - Port Blair with A321 aircraft; between Delhi - Visakhapatnam with an A321 aircraft and another flight between Delhi and Port Blair via Bhubaneswar twice a week with a CRJ-700 aircraft.
 
"This flight will help capacity addition to this tourist destination. The direct flight will be a time saver for travel between Visakhapatnam and Port Blair and give a fillip to tourism and industry at both the places," the release said.
 
Earlier passengers wanting to travel between these two places had to either take the sea route or travel through other metros involving a night stay.
 
The flight AI487/488 will operate with an all economy 168 seater A320 aircraft. The flight will operate on the route Delhi - Visakhapatnam - Port Blair and back, two days a week on Mondays and Thursdays. 
 
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Flight AI487 will leave Delhi at 0700 hrs and land at Visakhapatnam at 0915 hrs, depart Visakhapatnam 0955 hrs and arrive Port Blair at 1210 hrs. The return flight AI488 will leave Port Blair at 1250 hrs, land at Visakhapatnam at 1505 hrs, depart Visakhapatnam 1550 hrs and reach Delhi at 1805 hrs.
 
Visakhapatnam, also known as Vizag, is one of the largest cities in Andhra Pradesh and a commercial and financial centre. It is known for its heavy industries, steel plant, seaport, natural harbour and shipyard. The city is also the headquarters to the Eastern Naval Command of the  Indian Navy.
 
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TN announces compensation for those killed in encounter with AP police

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As questions continued to be raised over the gunning down of 20 alleged red sander smugglers by the Andhra Pradesh Police in an encounter in the Chittoor district of the state yesterday, the Tamil Nadu government today announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the next-of-kin of those from the state killed in the incident.
 
According to various sources, 12 of the 20 killed were labourers from the Tamil Nadu and the incident is turning into a feud between the two neighbouring states. 
 
Andhra Pradesh police officials said the policemen had opened fire in self-defence after they came under attack by the smugglers and labourers engaged by them in the Seshachalam forest.
 
The encounters took place at two spots within a kilometre of each other in Chandragiri mandal of Chittoor district, about 500 km from state capital Hyderabad, between 5 am and 6 am yesterday.
 
The police and personnel of the forest department had launched a joint operation in the area on Monday night after receiving inputs that a gang of smugglers had entered the forests and started felling trees.
 
The officials said that more than a hundred smugglers and labourers hired by them had attacked the police with sickles, axes, stones and other sharp-edged weapons.
 
According to the sources, 11 men were killed in the encounter at Pacchinodu Banda and nine near Etagunta.
 
Chittoor District Collector Siddharth Jain has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, official sources said.
 
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam wrote to his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Nara Chandrababu Naidu yesterday, expressing his distress over the incident.
 
"Many of these persons are reportedly from Tiruvannamalai and
Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu. While it is possible that these persons may have been engaged in illegal activities, the occurrence of such high casualties in the operation raises concerns whether the Task Force personnel acted with adequate restraint. Even if the persons had been engaged in illicit tree cutting, efforts could have been made to apprehend them rather than take such drastic action and cause such high casualties," he said.
 
Mr Panneerselvam urged Mr Naidu to order a credible and speedy inquiry into the matter so that the facts are established and responsibility fixed for possible human rights violations.
 
"In case of any human rights violations, it is essential that action is taken against those who caused the deaths and appropriate compensation is paid to the families of the victims," he said.
 
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also issued notices in this regard to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police (DGP) of Andhra Pradesh, taking suo motu cognizance of media reports about the incident.
 
"According to the media reports, the incident took place at Etagunta and Vacchinodu Banda hamlets, in the deep forest in Chandragiri Mandal. From the media reports, it appears that police and forest officials opened fire as the smugglers attacked them with stones, axes and knives," a press release from NHRC said.
 
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"The matter was immediately brought to the notice of NHRC Member Mr. Justice D. Murugesan who is camping in Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the camp sitting of the Commission. He observed that the incident involved a serious violation of human rights of the individuals and the opening of firing cannot be justified on the ground of self defence since it resulted in the loss of lives of 20 persons.
 
"Accordingly, notices have been issued to the Chief Secretary and the DGP of Andhra Pradesh calling for report explaining the act of police and forest officials within two weeks. The matter shall be taken up for hearing in the Camp Sitting of the Commission to be held at Hyderabad on 23rd April, 2015," the release said.
 
The Commission also noted that the incident has taken place at a time when a similar incident was reported from the bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the month of December, 2014 wherein Andhra Pradesh forest officials were seen physically torturing and assaulting a man in a naked position and reports are awaited from concerned authorities and the issue is under consideration of the Commission.
 
The gunning down of the 20 men has also attracted sharp criticism from human rights organisations.
 
Amnesty International India said the killings must be investigated in a swift, thorough, and independent manner and, if they are found to be unlawful, those responsible should be brought to justice.
 
“There must be a criminal investigation to determine whether the police used excessive force, and whether the killings amount to ‘fake encounters’, or staged extrajudicial executions”, said Abhirr VP, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India. 
 
“In many cases the so-called smugglers are poor woodcutters employed by organized gangs,” said Abhirr. “The curbing of red sandalwood smuggling must not be used as an excuse to ignore human rights.”
 
Red sander (scientific name: Pterocarpus santalinus), also known as red sandalwood, has been placed by the IUCN in its Red List for being an endangered species. It is restricted to be southern parts of the Eastern Ghats in India.
 
Occurring in dry deciduous forest, the tree is commercially valuable for its timber and for the extraction of dye, medicine and cosmetics. It is valued for the rich red colour of its wood, which is not aromatic, unlike the Santalum Sandalwood trees that grow natively in South India.
 
Red sander is a light-demanding small tree, growing to 8 metres in height with a trunk 50–150 cm diameter. It is fast-growing when young, reaching 5 metres tall in three years, even on degraded soils. 
 
Furniture made from red sander is expensive and it has been one of the most prized woods for millenia. It is particlarly valued in China, where it is called zitan, and most of the smuggled wood ends up in that country.
 
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AP police gun down 20 people in action against red sander smugglers

At least 20 people were gunned down by the police in two separate encounters in the early hours of Tuesday during action against red sander smugglers in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.

 
20 red sander smugglers illed in Chittoor encounter
At least 20 people were gunned down by the police in two separate encounters in the early hours of today during action against red sander smugglers in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.
 
Police officials said the policemen opened fire in self-defence after they came under attack by the smugglers in Seshachalam forest in two places within a kilometre of each other in Chandragiri mandal of Chittoor, about 500 km from Hyderabad, between 5 am and 6 am today.
 
The police and personnel of the forest department had launched a joint operation in the area last night after receiving inputs that a gang of smugglers had entered the forests and started felling trees.
 
The officials said that more than a hundred smugglers and labourers hired by them had attacked the police with sickles, axes, stones and other sharp-edged weapons.
 
According to the sources, 11 men were killed in the encounter at Pacchinodu Banda and nine near Etagunta.
 
The police and forest officials have launched a combing operation in the area to track the remaining smugglers and labourers who had escaped into the forest.
 
Efforts were being made to identify those who died in the firing, but many of them are believed to be labourers from neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
 
Meanwhile, Chittoor District Collector Siddharth Jain has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, official sources said.
 
Some policemen and forest personnel suffered injuries in the encounters, but details were not immediately available, they said.
 
Today's firing has come as the latest episode in a series of clashes between red sanders smugglers and the police. In December 2013, two forest officials were killed and three injured in an attack by the smugglers in the Seshachalam forest.
 
Following that, the state police set up a special task force to deal with the problem. Three smugglers were killed in May last year. Hundreds of smugglers have been arrested and more than 2000 tonnes of red sander seized.
 
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Red sander (scientific name: Pterocarpus santalinus), also known as red sandalwood, has been placed by the IUCN in its Red List for being an endangered species. It is restricted to be southern parts of the Eastern Ghats in India.
 
Occurring in dry deciduous forest, the tree is commercially valuable for its timber and for the extraction of dye, medicine and cosmetics. It is valued for the rich red colour of its wood, which is not aromatic, unlike the Santalum Sandalwood trees that grow natively in South India.
 
Red sander is a light-demanding small tree, growing to 8 metres in height with a trunk 50–150 cm diameter. It is fast-growing when young, reaching 5 metres tall in three years, even on degraded soils. 
 
Furniture made from red sander is expensive and it has been one of the prized woods for millenia. It is particlarly valued in China, where it is called zitan, and most of the smuggled wood ends up in that country.
 
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BHEL commissions second 800 MW supercritical boiler at Krishnapatnam

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had commissioned the second 800 MW supercritical boiler at Sri Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Plant (SDSTPP) at Krishnapatnam in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh.  
 
This is the second 800 MW rating and also the highest rating (800 MW) indigenous boiler to be commissioned in the country, a press release from the company said here
 
The first 800 MW boiler was commissioned earlier by BHEL at the same project on August 28, 2014.
 
"The commissioning of the two 800 MW boilers at Krishnapatnam is a  an important development for the country seeking to achieve self-reliance in the field of contemporary, state-of-the-art supercritical technology and demonstrates BHEL's capability in the area of supercritical technology. Supercritical technology is expected to lower coal consumption and eco-friendly and efficient power generation," it said.
 
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Centre provides Rs 2303 crore to AP to bridge resource gap in FY 2014-15

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The Union Ministry of Finance has decided to provide financial support of Rs 2303 crore to the Government of Andhra Pradesh to bridge the resource gap of the financial year 2014-15.
 
This is in pursuance to Section 46(2) of the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act 2014, an official press release said here today.
 
The Ministry of Finance had earlier released an amount of Rs.500 crore as an ad hoc grant to bridge the resource gap. Now, the balance amount of Rs.1803 crore has been released for this purpose on 31st March, 2015, the release added.
 
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