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Andhra Pradesh

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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Centre okays Rs 1500 crore as budgetary support to AP for new capital

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The Union Ministry of Finance has approved Rs 1500 crore by way of budgetary support for Andhra Pradesh for its new capital, an official press release said here today.
 
This is in consonance with Section 94(3) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014.
 
The approved amount includes Rs. 1000 crore for support to essential amenities for the new capital for which necessary approval has been given to Ministry of Urban Development. 
 
Another Rs. 500 crore has been approved which would be spent exclusively for construction of Raj Bhavan, State Secretariat, State Assembly and High Court and in the new Capital of Andhra Pradesh. 
 
A letter of approval has also been sent by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India to the Union Ministry of Urban Development in this regard, the release added.
 
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Six charred to death in blast at fire crackers unit in Visakhapatnam

 
Six die in blast at fire cracker unit in Vizag
At least six persons were charred to death and five others suffered injuries in a blast at a fire crackers manufacturing unit at Gokulapadu village in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh yesterday evening, police said.
 
Police said the unit was a licensed fireworks manufacturing facility.
 
Those killed included three men, two women and a child, they said. The victims included workers at the unit, members of their families and at least one bystander, they said.
 
The injured were rushed to hospitals in the city, where they are undergoing treatment.
 
People from the nearby village rushed to the scene when they heard the blast but it was gutted within minutes. They managed to pull out the injured.
 
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but preliminary information suggested that the owner of the unit had stocked up on chemicals to execute a large order he had received.
 
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Alstom begins manufacture of coaches for Kochi Metro at Sri City

The car body shell for Kochi Metro unveiled at Alstom Transport India Limited's manufacturing facility at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh on March 21, 2015.
The car body shell for Kochi Metro unveiled at Alstom Transport India Limited's manufacturing facility at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh on March 21, 2015.
Alstom Transport India Limited has commenced the manufacture of coaches for Kochi Metro Rail Limited at its manufacturing unit at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh
 
Union Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu unveiled the first "made in India" car-body shell for Kochi Metro at a function in Sri City yesterday.
 
Kerala Power And Metro Minister Aryadan Muhammed, Mr Varaprasad Rao Velagapalli, MP of Tirupati, Mr K.V. Thomas, MP of Kochi, Mr François Richier, Ambassador of France in India, Ms. Aude Flogny, Regional Director, South Asia, AFD and Mr. Dominique Pouliquen, Senior Vice President, Alstom Transport were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy jointed the function through teleconferencing from here.
 
Alstom was awarded a contract to supply 25 state-of-the-art Metropolis train sets to Kochi Metro. The first train sets are expected to be delivered in early 2016. 
 
Alstom is in charge of the design, manufacturing, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of 25 standard track gauge trains with an option to supply 25 additional metro sets. Each train will be composed of three cars, about 65 m long and with a capacity to carry up to 975 passengers. 
 
Recently, Alstom was awarded two more contracts for Kochi Metro Project to supply signalling, telecom and electrification solutions.
 
“KMRL expects that our rolling stock will be one of the fastest delivered coaches for any metro project in this country with the most modern design and advanced technology while also being cost effective. Efforts have been taken to enhance the customer experience to all possible aspects in the train," KMRL Managing Director Elias George said on the occasion.
 
Mr. Bharat Salhotra, Managing Director, Alstom Transport India, said: “With the commencement of production at Sri City for Kochi Metro, Alstom Transport in India has added yet another feather in its cap. These trains will be manufactured end-to-end at our world class manufacturing facility at Sri City, which is a manifestation of the government's ‘Make in India’ vision. The order from Kochi is our second metro contract in the country after Chennai and reaffirms our commitment to provide 100% localised, competitive, innovative and high value products for our customers to serve the ever growing urban and mainline transportation market in India".
 
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KG-D6 gas being supplied to RCF units in Maharashtra to be swapped with RLNG

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The Department of Fertilizers has allowed swapping of gas from Reliance Industries Limited's (RIL) Krishna Godavari (KG) D6 fields being supplied to Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) units located in Maharashtra with regasified liquid natural gas (RLNG).
 
This will facilitate supply of additional gas volume to the tune of 2.2 MMSCMD to Andhra Pradesh(AP) and Telangana states, which can be used by independent power producers (IPPs) in the two states to produce 450 MW of power.
 
Of this, Telangana will have a share of 242 MW (53.89%) and Andhra Pradesh share will be about 208 MW, an official press release said.
 
IPPs located in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have pipeline connectivity with Reliance Gas Transportation Infrstructure Limited's(RGTIL) east-west pipeline.
 
RLNG terminals operational in the country as of now are located on the western coast and it is not possibe at present for it to flow from the western coast to Andhra Pradesh or Telangana.
 
"Therefore, direct RLNG supply to customers in AP and Telangana is not possible and can only be achieved through swapping of gas," the release pointed out.
 
According to it, GAIL (India) Ltd will enter into necessary contractual arrangements with RCF, RGTIL and AP IPPs and Telangana IPPs for supply of RLNG. 
 
"This will help in mitigating the power shortage in Telangana state, which would benefit the farmers having 18.62 lakh pump sets in saving rabi crops. Further, the unscheduled power cuts in Telangana state can be minimized to a great extent, which will also help the consumers of Telangana state and public at large. This will also help AP state to mitigate the power deficit and benefit the farmers of the state," the release added.
 
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Biennial election to fill five seats in AP Legislative Council on March 27

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The Election Commission today said it would hold biennial elections on March 27 to elect five membrs to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council by the members of the State Legislative Assembly.
 
At the same time, it said elections for several other seats in the Legislative Councils of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have been held up because of inconsistencies in the number of seats allocated to the two councils after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
 
The five seats in the AP Legislative Council, for which elections would be held, include the four seats that would fall vacant because of the retirement of sitting members on March 29. The members are R. Padma Raju, Singam Basava Punnaiah, Gundumala Thippe Swamy and Nannapaneni Rajakumari.
 
An official press release from the Commission said that, as per Section 23 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, the number of seats in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council to be filled through election by the Members of the Legislative Assembly has been being fixed as 17, but under Fourth Schedule read with Section 22(2) of the said Act, the number of Members in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council elected by the members of Legislative Assembly have been allocated as 16. 
 
In terms of Section 108 of the said Act, this inconsistency was referred by the Election Commission to the Central Government (Ministry of Home Affairs) for removing the said inconsistency. The Ministry of Home Affairs has advised that the said vacant seat may be filled up now. That is to say, election may be held to fill five vacancies instead of the four vacancies arising due to the retirement of four members.
 
The notification for the elections will be issued on March 10 and the last date for making nominations is March 17. Counting of votes will be taken up at 5 pm on March 27 after polling hours.
 
The release also said that seven members of the Legislative Council of Telangana, elected by the Members of the Legislative Assembly, are also retiring on March 29. It pointed out that there is inconsistency in the number of seats fixed for this category of seats under Section 23 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, which is 14, and the number of members allocated under the Fourth Schedule of the Act, which is 15.
 
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"In view of this, matter was referred to the Central Government (Ministry of Home Affairs), under Section 108 of the Act to remove the inconsistency. The response from the Central Government is still awaited. Once the matter is resolved by the Central Government, action will be taken by the Commission for the filling up of these seats in accordance with the law," it said.
 
Similarly, three and eight members of the Legislative Councils of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, respectively, elected by the members of the Local Authorities’ Constituencies of the respective States are also retiring on March 29 and May 1 on the completion of their term. In addition to these, eight seats in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council and one seat in the Telangana Legislative Council, of members elected by the members of the Local Authorities’ Constituencies of the respective States, are lying vacant on the retirement of the members during 2013 as elections could not be held to fill up these seats in time because the Local Authorities were not in existence at the relevant time.
 
"Now the Local Authorities are in existence and elections have to be held to fill up these seats also. However, as there are inconsistencies in the AP Reorganization Act, 2014 pertaining to the number of seats fixed under Section 23 of the Act and the number of seats allocated under Third Schedule of the Act. for this category of seats, the matter was referred to the Central Government (Ministry of Home Affairs) for removal of the inconsistencies. The response from the Central Government is still awaited. 
 
"As soon as the inconsistency is resolved by the Central Government, action will be taken by the Commission to fill up these seats, in accordance with the law," the release added.
 
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Govt. to set up Indian Culinary Institute at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh

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The Union Ministry of Tourism is setting up an Indian Culinary Institute (ICI) at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh with a Northern Region Centre at Noida, Uttar Pradesh. 
 
Minister of State for Tourism Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha yesterday that the institute would offer programmes such as B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Culinary Arts; Diploma in Food & Beverage Service Management; short-term skill and knowledge upgradation programmes and skill and competency certification for practising chefs.
 
Mr Sharma said a technical committee was being constituted, with academic and industry experts, to plan and design course structure for basic and advanced culinary studies. An international collaboration is also being explored with a renowned culinary school, he said.
 
Among other things, the ICIs will promote research and innovation, document and create data base specific to Indian cuisine, commission studies and survey on Indian traditional cuisine, help trans-boundary propagation of Indian cuisine, as part of strategy for tourism promotion, develop cuisine tourism and provide trained manpower support in the form of speciaised faculty to the existing institutes of hotel management and to the hotel industry.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts Guntur region of Andhra Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Guntur region of Andhra Pradesh this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 16.7°N and longitude 80.1°E, occurred at 0609 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Renowned film producer Daggubati Ramanaidu passes away

File photo of D Ramanaidu.
File photo of D Ramanaidu.
Well-known film producer Daggubati Ramanaidu, who had been honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest honour in Indian cinema, in 2009, passed away at a hospital here today after a prolonged illness.
 
He was 78. The funeral will be held tomorrow.
 
Ramanaidu had been battling prostate cancer for the past few months and breathed his last this afternoon.
 
During a long and illustrious career, Ramanaidu produced about 150 films in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and other languages under his banner, Suresh Productions, now headed by his elder son, D. Suresh. Popular actor D. Venkatesh is also his son. Upcoming actor Rana Daggubati is his grandson. 
 
Ramanaidu's death was announced by Venkatesh, who came out of their residence to say that his father had died at 2.30 pm. He said the body would be kept at Ramanaidu Studios here tomorrow morning before the funeral.
 
Ramanaidu was a doyen of the film industry and had introduced several actors, directors, music directors and technicians through his production house. He also holds the world record for producing the highest number of films. He had made guest appearances in some of his films.
 
The government had honoured him with the Padma Bhushan, the country's third highest civilian honour, in 2012.
 
Some of his successful films include Prem Nagar, Mundadugu, Soggadu, Jeevana Tarangalu, Devatha, Sangharshana, Prathidwani, Aha Na Pellanta, Prema, Indrudu Chandrudu. His latest film was Gopala Gopala, starring Venkatesh and Pawan Kalyan. His Hindi movies include Tohfa, Insaf Ki Awaz and Prem Qaidi.
 
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor E S L Narasimhan condoled the passing away of Ramanaidu, saying it had created a vacuum in the country's film industry.
 
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao said Ramanaidu had been instrumental in getting the Telugu film industry to relocate to Hyderabad from Chennai.
 
"He was a great man who worked hard to churn out several blockbusters in Telugu cinema industry. His contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema is immeasurable. He was also a great philanthropist," Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said.
 
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Ramanaidu had dabbled for some time in politics and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bapatla constituency in Andhra Pradesh in 1999 as a candidate of the Telugu Desam Party. He failed, however, in his bid to get re-elected in 2004.
 
Born on June 6, 1936 in an agricultural family, Ramanaidu was always interested in activities like theatre, and became a partner in a film production agency. During this period, he came in contact with well-known actors of the time, including Akkineni Nageshwara Rao.
 
He played some minor roles in films and, in between, worked in the tobacco industry and later in the brickmaking business. 
 
He produced his first film, Anuragam, under the banner of Anuroopa, a production company set up by one of his relatives.
 
He went on to set up Suresh Productions with some of his friends and produced Raamudu Bheemudu in 1964, which turned out to be a big hit and he never looked back.
 
In 1988 he set up Ramanaidu Studios, with all kinds of facilities to enable people to walk in with a script and walk out with the final copy of their film, ready for release.
 
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Centre to provide Rs 350 crore to backward districts of AP during 2014-15

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The Centre has decided that funds amounting to Rs 350 crore, at the rate of Rs 50 per district, will be provided to the Andhra Pradesh government for development activities in seven backward districts of the state in 2014-15.
 
An official press release said that, in terms of Section 46 (2) and Section 46 (3) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Union Government is committed to support Andhra Pradesh by providing a special development package to backward areas and Rayalaseema and North coastal region of the state. 
 
The release said that, besides this, an inter-ministerial Joint Committee, constituted by Ministry of Home Affairs, is also taking stock of the situation of Government of Andhra Pradesh to make recommendations to bridge the likely resource gap in the Central Budget 2014-15. 
 
However, an adhoc support of Rs. 500 crore for the current financial year will be provided to Andhra Pradesh, pending recommendations of the committee, it said.
 
In terms of Section 94(1) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Union Government has to provide appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives, to the successor States, to promote industrialisation and economic growth in both the States.
 
The release said that, in this regard, the following decisions have been taken:  
 
i. The manufacturing industries set up in the backward region, as notified, would be given 15% additional depreciation on new plant and machinery in the first year of installation. 
 
ii. An additional investment allowance of 15% would be given to industries set up in the backward regions, as notified, for investments made in new plant and machinery in any of the 5 years for which additional concession would be notified. Even if the investment is made in the 5th year, the investment allowance would be available. 
 
iii. The additional depreciation allowance, and investment allowance will be provided without insisting on an investment of above Rs. 25 crore. 
 
Several other proposals including proposals of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) are under examination, the release added.
 
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Justice Lingala Narasimha Reddy appointed Chief Justice of Patna High Court

Justice Lingala Narasimha Reddy
Justice Lingala Narasimha Reddy
The President has appointed Mr Justice Lingala Narasimha Reddy, Judge, High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh, to be the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court.
 
An official press release said the appointment would be with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office. 
 
Mr Justice Reddy, 61, who has already taken up his new assignment on January 2, completed his B. Sc. degree in the C K M College, Warangal before obtaining a Bachelor's as well as Master's degree in Law from the Osmania University in Hyderabad.
 
He was enrolled with the Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh in February 1979. He served as the Senior Central Government Standing Counsel for the Government of India in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh for some time. 
 
He was appointed as an Additional Judge of the High Court on September 10, 2001 and as a permanent judge on July 31, 2002.
 
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14 killed, 40 injured as bus falls into gorge in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh

 
14 killed, 40 injured as bus falls into gorge in Andhra Pradesh
At least 14 people, mainly students of an engineering college, were killed and 40 others suffered injuries when a bus carrying them veered off the road and fell into a deep gorge on the Penukonda-Madakasira road in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh today.
 
District officials told NetIndian that those killed in the mishap included a girl. While 13 of them, including the girl, were students returning to their college, one person was a forest guard.
 
Eight of the injured, who were in a serious condition, were rushed to Bangalore, about 175 km away, while the rest were admitted to nearby hospitals in Anantapur and other places.
 
The officials said the mishap occurred around 0745 hours, at a spot about 450 km from here, when the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) bus, carrying about 60 passengers, swerved suddenly near a culvert, that was under repairs, to avoid hitting an oncoming autorickshaw.
 
Senior district and police officials rushed to the spot to supervise the rescue and relief efforts.
 
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu deputed three state ministers to the scene of the accident. He also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed and Rs 2 lakh for those who have suffered serious injuries.
 
In Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the accident and extended his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. He also wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the accident. 
 
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Cabinet okays amendment to increase seats in AP Legislative Council

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for amending section 23(1) and section 23(2)(i)(a) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 to rectify the anomaly in allocating the number of seats in Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Council and to enhance the total number of seats to 58 as per the provisions of the Constitution. 
 
Since the existing strength of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly is 175 and 1/3rd of its strength is constitutionally permissible, it is proposed to increase the strength to 58 MLCs from current strength of 50 MLCs, an official press release said.
 
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Mukherjee condoles passing away of former Union Minister G. Venkataswamy

 
Congress leader G Venkatswamy passes away after prolonged illness
President Pranab Mukherjee today condoled the passing away of former Union Minister and senior Congress leader G Venkataswamy, who died in a hospital in Hyderabad yesterday after a brief illness at the age of 85.
 
In a condolence message to Mr Venkataswamy's son G Vivekanand, a former Congress MP, Mr Mukherjee described the former Minister as a senior Congress leader, veteran Parliamentarian and an able administrator who served the nation in different capacities.
 
"He served with distinction as a member of the Union Council of Ministers. In his death, we have lost an eminent leader who always worked for the upliftment of the underprivileged and marginalized sections of society," he said.
 
Popularly known as "Kaka", Mr Venkataswamy had been ailing for some time and was undergoing treatment at the hospital. He is survived by two sons and three daughters. His second son G Vinod is a former Minister in the state government.
 
Born on October 5, 1929, Mr Venkataswamy was elected twice to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1957-62 and 1978-84. He was a Minister in the Andhra Pradesh Government during 1978-82.
 
He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1969 and was re-elected six times in 1971, 1977, 1989, 1991, 1996 and 2004.
 
In the 1970s, he served as Union Deputy Minister for Labour and Rehabilitation and later of Supply and Rehabilitation. In 1991, he served as Union Minister of State for Rural Development and later of Textiles.
 
He was made Cabinet Minister in 1991 and assigned charge of Textiles and later of Labour.
 
He was elected deputy leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party (Lok Sabha) in 2004.
 
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Technip wins €100 million order for oil & gas terminal for ONGC in Andhra Pradesh

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Engineering and construction major Technip today said it had won an approximately €100 million contract from the public sector Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) to build a 6 MMSCMD onshore terminal at Odalarevu in Andhra Pradesh as part of the integrated development of Vashishta (VA) and S1 fields. 
 
These VA and S1 fields are located 30-35 km off the Amalapuram coast in the KG Basin, off the east coast of India, at water depths of 250 to 700 meters. 
 
The onshore terminal awarded to Technip is one of the critical components of the integrated development of the fields, a press release from the company said.
 
Technip's scope of work for the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contract includes basic design, detailed engineering, procurement, fabrication, inspection and testing, installation, pre-commissioning and commissioning of the new onshore terminal facilities which will be integrated to the existing terminal. 
 
The release said that the hydrocarbons extracted from VA and S1 deep water offshore fields will be transported to the proposed onshore oil and gas terminal for processing. The facility consists of a slug catcher for well fluid separation, gas compressors, high integrity pressure protection system (HIPPS), glycol dehydration, dew point control, mono ethylene glycol regeneration and gas metering system. It also includes utilities and off-sites such as air compression, nitrogen generation, flare system, storage tanks and diesel generators.
 
Technip’s operating centre in Delhi will manage and execute the project, which is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2016. 
 
Nicoletta Giadrossi, President of Technip’s Region A(3), said: “This award confirms our position as a major EPC contractor in the Indian oil & gas sector. The Vashistha project represents an important milestone for Technip's operations in India. We will leverage our long experience and track record in the country to deliver this project for ONGC, with whom we are looking forward to further strengthen our strategic collaboration in the future”.
 
Samik Mukherjee, Managing Director and Country Head of Technip in India, stated: “The Vashistha project confirms our presence in the domestic market as a tier 1 EPC player. In recent years, this is our second contract from ONGC following the Heera Redevelopment (HRD) process platform project, which reinforces our position as a partner of choice across the value chain from offshore to onshore activities, supported by our strong portfolio of technologies, skilled resources and project management skills.” 
 
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Keys Hotels launches property at pilgrimage destination Tirupati

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Keys Hotels, a chain of mid-market hotels, has launched its 17th hotel in India -- Keys Hotel Vihas -- at Tirupati, the well-known pilgrimage destination.
 
With this, Berggruen Hotels Pvt. Ltd., which operates in India under the brand name of Keys Hotels and Keys Resorts, has extended its presence to 14 cities in India. The Tirupati hotel, its third in a pilgrimage destination in India,  will be operated on a Keys franchise, a press release from the company said.
 
 “The launch of Keys Vihas Hotel is yet another important milestone for Berggruen Hotels. It reaffirms the rapid growth story of the Keys brand. We are excited about the Tirupati property, and hope our guests too will be enthralled by the experience at the hotel," Mr. Sanjay Sethi, MD and CEO, Berggruen Hotels, said.
 
Located in heart of the city, Hotel Keys Vihas is at convenient distance from Tirumala Temple. The hotel is equipped with 58 rooms and three suites. Among other facilities, it has a multi-cuisine restaurant and two halls.
 
Mr. P. Rathnaiah, owner, Keys Hotel Vihas, Tirupati said “We are delighted at this alliance with a young and dynamic brand such as Keys Hotels. This partnership will help Vihas Hotel create a distribution footprint for its hotel business through their sales offices nationally.”
 
Funded by Berggruen Holdings, a New York headquartered proprietary fund, Berggruen Hotels was formed in September 2006. It launched its brand Keys Hotels in January 2007 and opened its first hotel in 2009 under this brand. 
 
Cities in which Keys Hotels has a presence include Ajmer, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Jaipur, Ludhiana, Mahabaleshwar, Mumbai, Pune, Silvassa, Shirdi and Thiruvananthapuram.
 
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Tech Mahindra to acquire Lightbridge Communications Corporation

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IT services major Tech Mahindra Ltd., a part of the Mahindra Group, has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire network services provider Lightbridge Communications Corporation (LCC) for an enterprise value of approximately $240 million.
 
The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close by the last quarter of Tech Mahindra’s 2015 fiscal year, a press release from the company said yesterday.
 
Headquartered at McLean, Virginia in the United States, LCC is one of the world’s largest independent global providers of network engineering services to the telecommunications industry, with more than 5,000 employees in over 50 countries, the release said.
 
With annual revenues of more than $400 million, LCC has built 350 networks and designed more than 350,000 cell sites for over 400 customers worldwide.  The acquisition positions Tech Mahindra as the pre-eminent partner for network services globally, it said.
 
The company said that, with this acquisition, it would also be addressing a rapidly growing market opportunity as telecommunications companies and enterprises accelerate the network upgrade cycle. 
 
"With networks increasingly becoming all IP-based and virtual, software will play a key role in managing the networks of the future. Tech Mahindra’s deep software skills, in combination with LCC’s world-class network engineering capabilities, will further differentiate Tech Mahindra’s offerings to both our Communications and Enterprise customers," it said.
 
"The acquisition of LCC will strongly augment the systematic investments that Tech Mahindra has been making in its network services business over the last few years. Tech Mahindra’s network consulting, integration and operations services in conjunction with LCC’s network engineering and field services will enable the company to offer a full range of network services to both communications service providers as well as to the ecosystem of partners who cater to the communications sector," it said.
 
Vineet Nayyar, Executive Vice Chairman, Tech Mahindra said, “This partnership is another significant step towards the globalization of Tech Mahindra as we welcome a diverse workforce of over 5,000 network professionals across five continents and more than 50 countries. We expect network services to be a major growth engine for our organization.”
 
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CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra, said, “This acquisition is a defining moment for Tech Mahindra and the network services sector. We will now be the largest and most comprehensive provider of technology services to Communications Service Providers. Our 25 years of rich experience in delivering technology solutions to enterprises and communications service providers globally will be significantly strengthened by this acquisition. ”
 
“Over three decades, LCC has grown to become the largest independent provider of wireless engineering services. Bringing LCC into Tech Mahindra will create the industry’s largest network engineering, deployment, and managed services organization,” said Kenneth Young, CEO of LCC. “Having Tech Mahindra’s breadth of services to provide advanced managed network services coupled with its size and scale, will help us increase the performance of our customers’ ever-evolving networks,” he added.
 
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Rajnath approves raising of eight Indian Reserve battalions in AP, Telangana

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today approved the raising of eight India Reserve (IR) battalions in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in a phased manner. 
 
Under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act,2014, the Central Government shall assist the successor States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to raise additional police force. Accordingly, the Union Home Minister approved two battalions in this financial year and one battalion each in the next two financial years in both the States. 
 
As per the approved scheme, the Government of India will reimburse a maximum amount of Rs. 51.19 crores per IR battalion which includes Rs. 26.19 crores as 75% of the standard of raising i.e. Rs. 34.92 crores and 50% of the infrastructure cost (excluding cost of land) up to a maximum of Rs. 25 crore, an official press release added.
 
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Navy chief says sinking of TRV "extremely unfortunate", causes will be probed

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Admiral R K Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff, today said that the Navy had viewed with " great seriousness" the mishap involving a torpedo recovery vessel (TRV A-72) off the coast of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday night.
 
Terming the sinking of the vessel as "extremely unfortunate", he told mediapersons here that the causes of the incident would be investigated thoroughly.
 
He also said that all efforts would be made to locate the four members of crew reported missing after the mishap.
 
The Navy has launched a full-scale search and rescue (SAR) operation for the missing personnel.
 
As per the latest inputs, the search is going on in an area 215 nautical miles south-west of Visakhapatnam, after taking into account the prevailing drift and currents in the Bay of Bengal. Several ships of the Eastern Fleet and aircraft including Boeing P8I, Dorniersand Chetak helicopters havebeen deployed to search for the missing personnel.
 
"No missing personnel have been found till this afternoon," an official statement from the Navy said.
 
Admiral Dhowan had reviewed the progress of the SAR operation last evening at Visakhapatnam. He also visited the bereaved family of sailor James Jacob, who died in the mishap, as also the family of the officer reported missing. 
 
The Admiral was briefed about the mishap by the rescued crew of the ill-fated vessel. 
 
"Indian naval authorities are in constant touch with the families of three missing sailors, keeping them informed about the progress of SAR operations," the statement added.
 
A Board of Inquiry headed by a Captain is in progress to investigate the circumstances that led to the mishap, that occurred around 2000 hours on Thursday. The vessel was on a routine mission to recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships during a routine exercise, when she experienced flooding in one of her compartments.
 
"As per the initial reports, the probable reason for sinking of the vessel seems to be ingress of sea-water (flooding) in the Engine Room and Aft Steering Compartment of the vessel. A Board of Inquiry headed by a Captain has been constituted to investigate into the circumstances leading to the mishap," the Navy had said on Friday.
 
TRV is an auxiliary vessel which is used to recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships and submarines. The ship is 23 meters long and 6.5 meters at the beam. This ship was built by Goa Shipyard Limited in 1983 and had served the Navy for the past 31 years.
 
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Navy continues search for missing men after vessel sinks on Thursday

 
Rescue operations on after Navy torpedo recovery vessel sinks off Vizag
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy today continued a full-scale search and rescue (SAR) operation to locate the four personnel reported missing when a torpedo recovery vessel (TRV 72) sank off the coast of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday night.
 
One sailor, James Jacob, died in the incident, while 24 others who were on the vessel were rescued and safely brought ashore. The missing personnel include an officer and three sailors.
 
Nine ships of the Eastern Fleet and a few aircraft, including Boeing P8I, Dorniers, Sea King 42C and Chetak helicopters, have been deployed in the day-and-night search for the missing personnel.
 
"Though no missing personnel have been found till this afternoon, one handycam (video-camera) and two life jackets (belonging to TRV 72) were recovered yesterday from the search area," a statement from the Navy said.
 
It said that, as per the latest inputs, the search is going on in an area 80 nautical miles south-southwest of Visakhapatnam, taking into account the prevailing drift and currents.
 
A Board of Inquiry headed by a Captain is in progress to investigate the circumstances that led to the mishap, that occurred around 200 hours on Thursday. The vessel was on a routine mission to recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships during a routine exercise, when she experienced flooding in one of her compartments.
 
"As per the initial reports, the probable reason for sinking of the vessel seems to be ingress of sea-water (flooding) in the Engine Room and Aft Steering Compartment of the vessel. A Board of Inquiry headed by a Captain has been constituted to investigate into the circumstances leading to the mishap," the Navy had said yesterday.
 
TRV is an auxiliary vessel which is used to recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships and submarines. The ship is 23 meters long and 6.5 meters at the beam. This ship was built by Goa Shipyard Limited in 1983 and had served the Navy for the past 31 years.
 
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IAF helicopters help to douse forest fires near Visakhapatnam

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) today deployed four of its newly acquired Mi-17 V5 helicopters to help douse massive and widespread forest fires that had been devouring pristine forests some 30 km east of Visakhapatna and causing large-scale destruction of flora and fauna.
 
An offficial press release said the helicopters were pressed into action on the request of the State Government.
 
Equipped with forest fire fighting equipment, called the "Bambi Bucket" having a capacity of 3500 litres of water each, the first sortie of the helicopter from Visakhapatnam was devoted to carrying out a detailed aerial assessment of the general area and the extent of the fire.
 
Initially the fire seemed under control, but at 1330 hours the wind speed increased and fire picked up. A total of 1,00,000 ltrs of water was used to douse the fire and 42 shuttles were carried out in all by the helicopters. The forest fire is now under control and a sortie is planned in the morning along with forest and district officials to assess the situation, an official press release said.
 
This is the third time that the helicopters have been used to fight forest fires, the release said.
 
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Navy's Torpedo Recovery Vessel sinks off Vizag; one killed, four missing

 
Rescue operations on after Navy torpedo recovery vessel sinks off Vizag
At least one sailor died and four others were reported missing after a Torpedo Recovery Vessel (TRV) (A 72) of the Indian Navy sank off the coast of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh last night, official sources said.
 
As many as 24 others on the vessel were rescued safely by ships despatched to the area, a statement from the Navy said.
 
The mishap occurred at around 2000 hours yesterday. The vessel was on a routine mission to recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships during a routine exercise, when she experienced flooding in one of her compartments, the statement said.
 
"At the time of the incident there were 29 personnel on board. One sailor has lost his life during the rescue operation and four personnel (one officer and three sailors) are still reported missing. Twenty four personnel have been rescued safely by the Search and Rescue (SAR) ships dispatched to the area," it said.
 
An update issued by the Navy later in the day today said a full-scale search and rescue (SAR) operation had been launched for the four missing personnel.
 
Nine ships of the Eastern Fleet and a few aircraft including Boeing P8I, Dorniers, Sea King 42C and Chetak helicopters had been deployed through the night to search for the missing personnel. 
 
"As per the initial reports, the probable reason for sinking of the vessel seems to be ingress of sea-water (flooding) in the Engine Room and Aft Steering Compartment of the vessel. A Board of Inquiry headed by a Captain has been constituted to investigate into the circumstances leading to the mishap," it said.
 
TRV is an auxiliary vessel which is used to recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships and submarines. The ship is 23 meters long and 6.5 meters at the beam. This ship was built by Goa Shipyard Limited in 1983 and had served the Navy for the past 31 years.
 
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