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Andhra Pradesh

J&J to set up new consumer products manufacturing facility in Telangana

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Healthcare products major Johnson & Johnson (J&J) India will set up a new manufacturing facility -- its largest in the country -- at a cost of Rs 400 crore near Kothur in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana.
 
The facility, which will come up on a 47-acre plot, will create over 1500 direct and indirect employment opportunities in the first phase, a press release from the company said.
 
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao laid the foundation stone for the new facility today at a function attended by, among otehrs, Mr Vikas Srivastava, Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson Consumer (India).
 
The new unit will be a world-class facility for the manufacture of personal hygiene and skin care products, the release said.
 
“We are very excited to begin work on what will become our largest manufacturing facility in India. Johnson & Johnson has been serving the healthcare needs of India by providing safe, innovative products to consumers. With this new facility, we aim to further strengthen our commitment to consumers in India to improve the health and wellbeing of the society," Mr Srivastava said.
 
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NTPC signs MoU with Andhra Pradesh for 1000 MW solar power projects

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Public sector NPTC Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP) here today for developing 1000 MW solar power projects in the state.
 
The MoU was signed by Dr. Arup Roy Choudhury, Chairman & Managing Director, NTPC and Mr Ajay Jain, Secretary, Department of Energy, GoAP.
 
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Under the MoU, NTPC shall develop 1000 MW solar power projects at sites identified by GoAP on Build-Own-Operate (BOO) basis, in a phased manner. 
 
The documents for transfer of land for 4000 MW Pudipadaka Thermal Power Project were also handed over to NTPC on the occasion, an official press release added.
 
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BJP suffers setback in UP, loses ground in Gujarat, Rajasthan in bye-elections

Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a setback in Uttar Pradesh and lost ground in Rajasthan and Gujarat as counting of votes got underway in bye-elections in ten states on Tuesday.

 
By-polls: Counting begins for 3 LS, 33 assembly seats
Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a setback in Uttar Pradesh and lost ground in Rajasthan and Gujarat as counting of votes got underway in bye-elections in ten states today.
 
In all, polling was held on September 13 for three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in the bye-elections, which were seen as a major test of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which completed 100 days in office recently.
 
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh won eight of the 11 Assembly seats for which bye-elections were held, while the BJP had to rest content with just three. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had earlier held all 11 seats.
 
The seats won by the SP in Uttar Pradesh were Bijnor, Thakurdwara, Nighasan, Hamirpur, Charkhari, Sirathu and Rohaniya, while the BJP won Saharanpur Nagar, Noida and Lucknow East.
 
The SP’s candidate, Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, also won from the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency in the state.
 
These results are significant because the BJP, riding on a Modi wave, had won as many as 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh in the April-May Parliamentary elections. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal held all 11 Assembly seats for which bye-elections were held.
 
In Rajasthan, where the BJP had made a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won three of the four seats in the bye-elections -- Surajgarh, Weir (SC) and Nasirabad, while the BJP had to remain content with one, Kota South.
 
Similarly, in Gujarat, where Mr Modi was the Chief Minister for more than 12 years before becoming Prime Minister and where the BJP had won all 26 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress managed to win three of the nine Assembly seats in the bye-elections.
 
The Congress won Deesa, Khambhalia and Mangrol, while the BJP retained Maninagar, Tankara, Talaja, Anand, Matar and Limkheda. All nine seats were earlier held by the BJP.
 
The BJP also won the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, with its candidate and deputy mayor Ranjanben Bhatt winning by a huge margin of more than 3.29 lakh votes.
The BJP made its debut in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly when its candidate Samik Bhattacharya  won the Basirhat Dakshin seat today. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) won the other seat, Chowranghee, for which bye-elections were held.
 
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In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi's K Prabhakar Reddy won the Medak Lok Sabha seat.
 
In Tripura, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) won the lone assembly seat, Manu, for which bye-elections were held.
 
In Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won the Nandigama Assembly seat.
 
In Sikkim, an independent candidate, Rup Narayan Chamling, won the Rangang-Yangang Assembly seat.
 
In Assam, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won the Jamunamukh Assembly seat, while the BJP was leading in Silchar and the Congress in Lakhipur.
 
Counting of votes began in all the constituencies this morning and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
The bye-elections have assumed added significance because they took place about a month before crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, where Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a strong bid to wrest power.
 
Vadodara was one of the two seats won by Mr Modi in the April-May Lok Sabha elections. He had resigned from there after deciding to retain Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the other seat from where he had won.
 
Similarly, Mainpuri was vacated by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who retained Azamgarh, also in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Medak had fallen vacant when Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader K Chandrashekara Rao resigned to take over as the first Chief Minister of Telangana after it was carved out as India's 29th state out of Andhra Pradesh.
 
Polling was also held for two seats in West Bengal and one in Chhattisgarh.
 
Today's results have come as bad news for the BJP, which had won only eight of the 18 Assembly seats in four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab -- where bye-elections were held in August, while the Congress and its allies managed to win ten.
 
Apart from being a pointer to the extent to which the BJP has been able to hold on to its popularity, the bye-elections were also a major test for the SP.
 
These were the first elections in Gujarat under new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who succeeded Mr Modi when he moved to Delhi as Prime Minister.
 
Most of the 33 Assembly seats had fallen vacant after the sitting MLAs, mainly belonging to the BJP, had been elected to the Lok Sabha in the last general elections. Bye-elections in three assembly constituencies were necessitated by the deaths of the sitting members.
 
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Former Union Minister M S Sanjeevi Rao passes away at 85

Former Union Minister M S Sanjeevi Rao
Former Union Minister M S Sanjeevi Rao
Former Union Minister and Congress leader M S Sanjeevi Rao passed away at Kakinada yesterday afternoon after suffering a cardiac arrest, his family said.
 
He was 85. He is survived by two sons, including Mr M M Pallam Raju, who was Union Minister for Human Resource Development in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. His wife Rama Rajeshwari had predeceased him.
 
His funeral will be held later today, the sources added.
 
Born on August 3, 1929 at Bhiminupatnam in Visakhapatnam district, Mr Rao was educated at Guindy Engineering College, Madras and Imperial College of Science and Technology, London.
 
An electronics engineer, Dr Rao had served in several companies and was associated with many organisations.
 
He served as a Member of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1974-76 before being elected to the Lok Sabha in 1971, 1977 and 1980. He served as a Union Deputy Minister for Electronics during 1982-84 and later as Chairman of the Electronics Commission.
 
President Pranab Mukherjee was among those who condoled the passing away of Dr Rao.
 
In a message to Dr Pallam Raju, he described Dr Rao as a distinguished Parliamentarian and an able administrator who served the nation in different capacities.
 
"A multi-faceted personality, he worked with distinction as Union Minister during 1982-1984. As a member of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, he was always concerned about the welfare of the people in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Rao was also known for his interest in sports as well as various research activities. In his death, the nation has lost an eminent personality who was always in touch with the grassroots of society," he added.
 
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India commissions first indigenously built stealth anti-submarine warfare ship

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Marking a major milestone in the making of warships in the country, India today commissioned its first indigenously-built stealth anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, INS Kamorta, at a ceremony at the naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on the east coast.
 
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley commissioned the warship and described the event as the "coming of age" of India's ship-building industry.
 
The Defence Ministry said the commissioning of INS Kamorta had added a new dimension to the ASW capability of the Indian Navy and in particular, the Eastern Fleet. "The multifarious missions that can be undertaken by the ship truly reflect the enhanced multi-dimensional capability of the Indian Navy," it said.
 
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley unveiling the plaque on commissioning of INS Kamorta, at Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam on August 23, 2014. 





The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R.K. Dhowan is also seen.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley unveiling the plaque on commissioning of INS Kamorta, at Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam on August 23, 2014. The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R.K. Dhowan is also seen.
Admiral R K Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command, and Rear Admiral A K Verma (Retd), Chairman & Managing Director, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) were amongst those present at the ceremony.
 
INS Kamorta is first of the four ASW Stealth Corvettes designed by the Navy’s in-house organisation, the Directorate of Naval Design (DND), under Project 28, with an indigenous component of about 90%. 
 
Measuring 110 meters in length, 14 meters in breadth and displacing 3500 tons, the ship can achieve speed of 25 knots. The ship is fitted with anti-submarine rockets and torpedoes, medium and close-in weapon systems and indigenous surveillance radar Revathi. The ship is also capable of carrying an integral ASW helicopter. 
 
Mr Jaitley noted that, in the last three months, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he had been associated with several accretions made into the Indian Navy such as aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and destroyer INS Kolkata.
 
But, he said, this one was special because of its high indigenous content. He said as many as 42 warships were under construction in various shipyards of the country. He expressed confidence that the measures taken by the government would infuse healthy competitive spirit between the public and private shipyards. 
 
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Kamorta also boasts of other “firsts” such as a foldable hangar door and a rail-less Helo Traversing System, which will give helicopter operations from the corvette a significant edge over other warships. 
 
Enhanced stealth features have been achieved by ‘X’ form of hull, full beam superstructure, inclined ship sides and use of Infrared Signature Suppression system for cooling the engine and generator exhausts. The ship has a combination of diesel and diesel propulsion system with two diesel engines  along with one gear box on each shaft. The common raft mounted gear box and diesel engines give the vessel very low radiated underwater noise. This is well complemented with an efficient propeller which has high cavitation inception speed. The design also incorporates active shaft grounding system and multi zone Impressed Current Cathodic Protection for suppression of Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic signature. The very low under water acoustic signature makes it a ‘silent killer on the prowl’. 
 
INS Kamorta has a multitude of systems such as Total Atmospheric Control, Integrated Platform Management, Integrated Bridge, Battle Damage Control and Personnel Locator System. This provides a contemporary and process oriented System of Systems for optimal functioning of the warship, an official press release said.
 
According to it, INS Kamorta is well equipped to fight in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare conditions. 
 
The ship has a complement of about 15 officers and 180 sailors. The accommodation and living spaces have been designed with special emphasis on ergonomics and habitability. The ship is commanded by Commander Manoj Jha, a gunnery specialist. 
 
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Pro Kabbadi: Hooda stars as Telugu Titans humiliate Puneri Paltan 60-24

Telugu Titans defenders stop a Puneri Paltan raider from crossing the touchline in a Star Sports Pro Kabaddi league match in Visakhapatnam on August 19, 2014
Telugu Titans defenders stop a Puneri Paltan raider from crossing the touchline in a Star Sports Pro Kabaddi league match in Visakhapatnam on August 19, 2014
Deepak Niwas Hooda starred with 16 raid points to help Telugu Titans beat Puneri Paltan 60-24 in the Star Sports Pro Kabbadi League at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Port Stadium here last night.
 
After the magnificent performance of Rahul Chaudhari last night, the crowd was preparing itself to witness yet another magical show by the superstar raider. 
 
Though Chaudhari did star in the match, it was the young Hooda who helped his team register the highest points of the tournament so far even as Pune put up a below par show yet again.
 
Confident about their team's victory against Pune, who have had a rather dismal season in the inaugural edition of the league so far, supporters of the men in yellow had turned up in huge numbers.
 
After a quiet start, Pune stand-in captain Manoj Kumar ousted Chaudhari by the fifth minute of the match. The happiness of the visiting team was short-lived as Titans’ Hooda and Sukesh Hegde made sure that Pune conceded its first set of LONA points by the 10th minute. 
 
Toothless in their attack, Pune was reduced to a two-man army yet again in a span of just five minutes. Chaudhari completed the formality by defying Nitin More’s tackle and setting the team up for their second set of LONA Points. With Chaudhari, Hegde and Hooda breaking the Puneri Paltan apart, the half-time scores were 27-7.    
 
Puneri Paltan got off to a shaky start as Nigerian Simon Kibura slipped on the mat and literally fell out of the game. Fighting against a two-man army, Hooda made sure he left only Vikas on Paltan’s side of the court bringing about the third LONA points of the night. 
 
After providing one of the most interesting raids of the season Simon Kibura was not able to entertain for long as he fell head on into the trap set out for him by Hooda. Having a night of his own, Hooda picked up his 13th raid points from his 14 raids and helped the Titans increase the lead to 25 points. 
 
As Vizag reached their 50th point in the 32nd minute, Pune was still struggling to meet them halfway, posting just 22 points. While one may have thought the match was over, Hooda powered through a lightning fast raid, enabling Titans to inflict a fourth all-out on Pune. 
 
Visibly helpless without their captain Wazir Singh, Puneri Paltan conceded the biggest defeat of the tournament this far.
 
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Pro-Kabaddi: Bengal Warriors sink Patna Pirates with strong defence

Patna Pirates' Mandeep trying to jump over the strong defending wall of Bengal Warriors in a Pro-Kabbadi League match at Visakhapatnam on August 18, 2014
Patna Pirates' Mandeep trying to jump over the strong defending wall of Bengal Warriors in a Pro-Kabbadi League match at Visakhapatnam on August 18, 2014
A strong defence helped Bengal Warriors, who were languishing at the bottom of the table with only three wins and 15 points, sink Patna Pirates 30-28 in the Star Sports Pro-Kabaddi League here today.
 
After taming Pink Panthers by a margin of 23 points, Patna Pirates were ready for yet another conquest and the wounded Bengal Warriors appeared to be tame game.
 
But the Warriors were a vastly different outfit today and made the most of their brilliant defence as they outclassed the Pirates.
 
The crowds vociferously supported Patna, thanks to their on-field fireworks last night and the atmosphere was electrifying. For Bengal, the match offered a slim chance to stay in the reckoning for a place in the qualifying stages.
 
The Pirates launched the first assault as they captured Warrior Sunil Jaipal followed by Rakesh Kumar’s spectacular aerial jump, marking his first successful raid of the night. The captain of the Patna Pirates came good yet again as he failed Shyam Singh Sha’s ankle hold and walked off into his home territory with panache. 
 
Stepping up their efforts, Patna’s star raider and the most successful Pirate of the first half Rakesh, took down Nitn Madane, this time as an anti. Sandeep Narwal joined the party as he took an amazing leap over Sachin Khambe, ousting the Bengal Warrior. 
 
In a huge blow for Patna, Rakesh Kumar injured his ankle while tackling Warriors’ Mahendra Rajput. By the tenth minute, even though Patna had a two-point lead, the Bengal team played like true warriors not leaving any margin for error. Nilesh Shinde utilized his experience by capturing Gurvinder Singh, equalising the score 9-9. A retaliating Patna team effectively used Sandeep Narwal and took the score to 14-11 by halftime.
 
A relatively uneventful first half made way for the second. Patna lost Ravi Dalal to Bengal’s spotless defence and were left a three-man army. But Sandeep Narwal had plans of his own as he captured Nilesh Shinde in his first outing of the half. Bengal’s worries increased as Rakesh Kumar joined the game after taking some time off to cater to his sore ankle. Deciding to overlook the injury, Rakesh trapped Mahendra Sing Rajput in a brilliant tackle. 
 
Bengal seemed to have regained confidence as Mahesh Goud scored one successful raid after the other, getting his team two Patna Antis along with the first set of LONA points- four points that changed the face of the game. Patna lost focus as Rakesh Kumar and Ravi Dalal were both brilliantly captured by the Bengal Warriors. 
 
As the final whistle blew, Bengal had nosed ahead by two points at 30-28.
 
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TTD deposits 1800 kgs of gold with State Bank of India

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The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Executive Officer M G Gopal handed over 1800 kgs of gold ornaments, received as offerings from the thousands of devotees who come to pray at the temples here every year, as gold deposits to State Bank of India (SBI) Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya here yesterday.
 
Mr Gopal told mediapersons later that the gold deposits included ornaments, articles, gold on copper items and so on.
 
They have been deposited in SBI under the Gold Deposit Scheme for a period of five years at a rate of interest of 1%.
 
“TTD has not made any gold deposits since the last two years as the banks have stopped accepting gold due to the restrictions and impositions levied by RBI. After negotiating with various banks, SBI has first come forward to accept the gold deposits at the rate of 1% per annum and we welcomed it”, he added
 
Ms Bhattacharya said that, in terms of quantity, the deposit was the first of its kind in the country
 
"We are fortunate to be a part of this divine mission. The deposited gold will be taken to Government Mint at Mumbai by SBI by incurring transportation charges, transit insurance, melting and refining charges and pure gold of 0.995 purity is taken as gold deposit," she said.
years would also be converted into gold deposit,, it said.
 
At present TTD is having around 4335 kg of pure gold under gold deposits in SBI, Corporation Bank and Indian Overseas Bank. These gold deposits earn an interest of 70 kilos approximately every year for TTD. 
 
Since 2010, on maturity of gold deposits, TTD has converted the interest earned on gold deposits also into gold and added 85 kilos towards gold deposit, the release added.
 
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Mukherjee to visit West Bengal, Telangana on August 1-2

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit West Bengal and Telangana on August 1 and 2, an official press release said here today.
 
Tomorrow, Mr Mukherjee will inaugurate the new building of Ghani Khan Choudhury Institute of Engineering and Technology at Narayanpur, Malda. 
 
He will also inaugurate the International Conference on Natural Fibres organized by the National Institute of Research on Jute and Allied Fibre Technology at Kolkata on the same day. 
 
On August 2, the President will address the Annual General Meeting of Indian Chamber of Commerce at Kolkata. 
 
On the same day, he will attend the 12th convocation of NALSAR University of Law at Shameerpet, Telangana before returning to the national capital, the release added.
 
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Bye-elections to AP, Maharashtra Legislative Councils on August 21

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The Election Commission today said it would hold bye-elections on August 21 to fill a vacancy each in the State Legislative Councils of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra pertaining to seats elected by members of the concerned legislative assembly.
 
The vacancies have arisen due to the resignation of Mr Kolagatla Veerabhadra Swamy in Andhra Pradesh and Mr Vinayak Bhaurao Raut in Maharashtra.
 
The notifications will be issued on August 4 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be August 14. Counting of votes will be taken up on August 21 after polling hours, an official press release added.
 
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Andhra Pradesh to replicate Kochi-model Startup Village

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Senior officials of the government of Andhra Pradesh have begun discussions with Kochi-based Startup Village seeking its support and expertise to set up a similar incubation facility in their state.
 
A high-level delegation led by IT Advisor to Andhra Pradesh Government J Satyanarayana met Startup Village Chief Executive Officer Pranav Kumar Suresh and Infopark Chief Executive Officer Hrishikesh Nair at Startup Village in Kalamassery here yesterday evening.
 
The meeting was seen as a sign that the success of India’s first public-private partnership technology business incubator, which has transformed IT entrepreneurship in Kerala, is beginning to make other states sit up and take notice.
 
 “We are really impressed with Startup Village and its functioning. We want to set up an incubation facility of a similar kind in Andhra Pradesh and are in consultation with the team here,” said Mr Satyanarayana after the visit.
 
The Andhra delegation comprised Mr Ajay Sawhney, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister; Mr Sanjay Jaju, IAS, Secretary, ITE&C; and Mr Phani Chandra, Consultant, E&Y.
 
They looked at the facilities being provided to young innovators kick-starting their businesses from Startup Village and discussed the Student Entrepreneurship Policy launched by the Kerala government to promote the entrepreneurship culture among the youth.
 
“Startup village is a dream to create a billion dollar campus. When that dream becomes every state's dream, it becomes a reality. We are very happy to see that our idea has become a trendsetter. The fact that a state like Andhra Pradesh, which got on relatively early on the IT bandwagon when compared to Kerala, should look to Startup Village for inspiration shows just how far we have come in these past two years,” said Mr Vijayakumar.
 
Mr Sawhney lauded Kerala’s Student Entrepreneurship Policy. “We want to create a similar ecosystem in Andhra Pradesh for promoting young entrepreneurs particularly by recommending to device a policy on the lines of the one in Kerala,” he said.
 
Mr Pranav said that the delegation “was excited about the facilities and the kind of ecosystem we have created for the youngsters”. 
 
“We discussed about the support provided by the state government, the different levels of mentoring we provide to the startups and how we have managed to reach to student community in the colleges,” he added.
 
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14 children, two others killed as train rams into schoolbus in Telangana

At least 14 schoolchildren and two others -- the driver and cleaner of their school bus -- were killed when a train rammed into the vehicle at an unmanned railway level crossing near Masaipet in Yeldurthi mandal of Medak district in Telangana on Thursday morning.

 
14 children, driver killed as train rams into schoolbus in Telangana
At least 14 schoolchildren and two others -- the driver and cleaner of their school bus -- were killed when a train rammed into the vehicle at an unmanned railway level crossing near Masaipet in Yeldurthi mandal of Medak district in Telangana this morning.
 
Police officials told NetIndian over the telephone that at least 20 other chidren suffered injuries in the gruesome incident and had been rushed to the Yashoda Hospital in Hyderabad for treatment.
 
The incident occurred around 9.15 am, they said. The children were students of the Kakatiya Techno School at Medak.
 
Police and personnel of the fire brigade and other emergency services, as well as local people, who rushed to the scene had a tough time extricating the victims from the wreckage of the bus which was dragged for some distance before the train came to a halt.
 
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao expressed shock over the incident and ordered an inquiry into it. He deputed state Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao to rush to the spot and supervise the rescue and relief efforts.
 
Mr Rao announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the next-of-kin of each of those killed in the tragedy.
 
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the mishap.
 
“I am extremely saddened to learn about the accident in which some school children lost their lives and many others are critically injured after a passenger train hit a school bus at an unmanned railway crossing in Telangana. I understand relief operations are underway," Mr Mukherjee said.
 
"I am sure that the State Government and other agencies are taking necessary steps to provide urgent medical assistance to the injured and all possible aid to the bereaved families.
 
"Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons," he said.
 
Mr Modi expressed his deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the accident. He also prayed for the speedy recovery of those injured in the mishap.
 
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Sania Mirza condemns attempts to brand her as outsider by BJP MLA

Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza
Tennis star Sania Mirza today strongly condemned attempts to portray her as an outsider by Telangana Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA K Laxman who set off a major controversy by flaying the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) government for naming her as a brand ambassador of the state.
 
While doing so, Mr Laxman questioned her credentials for the assignment, on the one hand, and also referred to her as a "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan because she is married to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik.
 
Telangana Chief Minister and TRS leader K Chandrasekhar Rao had announced a grant of Rs 1 crore to Mirza, 27, for training and appointed her as a brand ambassador of the newly-formed state on Wednesday.
 
Describing her as a daughter of Hyderabad, Mr Rao had said on the occasion, "Telangana is proud of Sania who is a true Hyderabadi. She's now ranked number five in international tennis (doubles) and we wish she becomes the number one."
 
Mr Laxman said the government had bestowed the honour on Mirza only with an eye on the votes of the minority commuity in the coming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
 
He said Mirza had never participated in the movement for a separate statement of Telangana.
 
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"It hurts me that so much precious time of prominent politicians and the media is being wasted on a petty issue of my being appointed the Brand Ambassador of my State of Telangana. I sincerely believe that this precious time should be spent on solving the more urgent issues of our State and country," Mirza said in a statement.
 
"I would like to state as follows:
 
1. I am married to Mr. Shoaib Malik, who is from Pakistan. I am an Indian, who will remain an Indian until the end of my life. 
 
2. I was born in Mumbai as my mother needed to be at a specialist hospital since she was seriously unwell at the time of my birth. I came home to Hyderabad when I was 3 weeks old. My forefathers have lived in Hyderabad for more than a century. My grandfather, Mr. Mohammed Zaffer Mirza started his career as an Engineer in Nizam's Railways in Hyderabad in 1948 and died in his ancestral home in Hyderabad. 
 
"My great grandfather, Mr. Mohd. Ahmed Mirza was also born and raised in Hyderabad. He was the Chief Engineer, Water Works, Hyderabad and was responsible for constructing the famous Gandipet dam. 
 
"My great, great grandfather, Mr. Aziz Mirza was the Home Secretary under the Nizam in Hyderabad and worked tirelessly for relief works during the historic Musi River floods of 1908. 
 
"So, my family belongs to Hyderabad for more than a century and I strongly condemn any attempts by any person, whosoever, to brand me an outsider. 
 
"I hope this clears all doubts and issues," she added.
 
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Modi condoles loss of lives in bus accident in Medak

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today expressed his deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in a bus accident in Medak district of Telangana this morning.
 
Mr Modi also prayed for the speedy recovery of those injured in the mishap, an official press release added.
 
At least 12 schoolchildren and the driver of their school bus were killed when a train rammed into the vehicle at an unmanned railway level crossing near Masaipet in Yeldurthi mandal of Medak district.
 
At least 19 chidren suffered injuries in the gruesome incident and had been rushed to a nearby hospital. 
 
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12 children, driver killed as train rams into schoolbus in Telangana

At least 12 schoolchildren and the driver of their school bus were killed when a train rammed into the vehicle at an unmanned railway level crossing near Masaipet in Yeldurthi mandal of Medak district in Telangana on Thursday morning.

 
12 children, driver killed as train rams into schoolbus in Telangana
At least 12 schoolchildren and the driver of their school bus were killed when a train rammed into the vehicle at an unmanned railway level crossing near Masaipet in Yeldurthi mandal of Medak district in Telangana this morning.
 
Police officials told NetIndian over the telephone that at least 19 children suffered injuries in the gruesome incident and had been rushed to a nearby hospital. 
 
The incident occurred around 9.15 am, they said. The children were students of the Kakatiya Techno School at Medak.
 
Police and personnel of the fire brigade and other emergency services, as well as local people, who rushed to the scene had a tough time extricating the victims from the wreckage of the bus which was dragged for some distance before the train came to a halt.
 
Schoolbags, water bottles, books and other articles were strewn all over the place, the officials said.
 
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao has expressed shock over the incident and ordered an inquiry into it. He deputed state Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao to rush to the spot and supervise the rescue and relief efforts.
 
Some of the more injured students may be rushed to Hyderabad, the officials added.
 
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PM urges space scientists to develop SAARC satellite as India's gift to neighbourhood

 
PSLV-C23 launch: Modi says we must share fruits of our technology
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged India's space scientists to take up the challenge of developing a SAARC Satellite that the country could dedicate to its neighbourhood as a gift with a full range of applications and services.
 
"I also ask you to enlarge the footprint of our satellite-based navigation system to cover all of South Asia," he said after witnessing the successful launch of polar satellite launch vehicle PSLV-C23 which put five foreign satellites, including the French earth observation satellite Spot-7, into their intended orbits.
 
Mr Modi emphasized that technology was central to development, touching one and all and an important instrument of national progress.
 
"India’s Space program is a perfect example of my vision of Scale, Speed and Skill. Our Space scientists have made us global leaders, in one of the most complex areas of modern technology. This shows that we can be the best. If we apply ourselves, we can meet the aspirations of our people," he said.
 
Congratulating the space scientists and the Department of Space for yet another successful launch fo the PSLV, he said it was an achievement that filled every Indian's heart with pride.
 
"And I can see it reflected in the joy and satisfaction on your faces. Fascinated by space technology, I feel specially privileged to witness this event in person," he said.
 
Mr Modi said India's advanced space programme put it an elite group of five to six countries today. "This is one domain, in which we are at the international cutting edge. A domain in which we have pushed beyond mediocrity to achieve excellence," he said.
 
He noted that India had launched many satellites for advanced nations, and PSLV itself had so far launched 67 satellites, of which 40 were foreign satellites of 19 countries.
 
Even today’s satellites are all from developed nations – France, Canada, Germany and Singapore. Truly, this is a global endorsement of India’s space capabilities," he said.
 
He mentioned India's lunar mission, Chandrayaan, and the ongoing mission to Mars, Mangalyaan. "I personally follow it with great interest. We have also developed our own satellite-based navigation system. I am told this will be fully deployed by 2015," he siad.
 
Mr Modi said India could be proud that its space programme was indigenous and had developed it despite international hurdles. "Generations of our space scientists have worked to make India a self-reliant space power. We owe them a big thank you," he said.
 
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"Our journey into space has come a long way from its humble beginnings. It has been a journey of many constraints and resource limitations. I have seen photographs of rocket cones being transported on bicycles. Our first satellite, Aryabhatta, was made in industrial sheds in Bangalore," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that, even today, India's space programme stood out as the most cost-effective in the world. "The story of our Mars Mission costing less than the Hollywood movie Gravity, had gone viral on social media recently. Our scientists have shown the world a new paradigm of frugal engineering, and the power of imagination. Friends, this success of ours has deep historical roots," he said.
 
"India has a rich heritage of science and technology, including in the field of space. An understanding of the cosmos, and its relationship to life and science; is deeply rooted in our ancient thought and knowledge. Our ancestors had conceived of ideas like ‘Shunya’ and ‘flying objects’, long before others. The works of visionaries like Bhaskaracharya and Aryabhata continue to inspire scientists," he said.
 
Mr Modi said many people misunderstand space technology was for the elite and that it had nothing to do with the common man.
 
"I however believe, such technology is fundamentally connected with the common man. As a change agent, it can empower and connect, to transform his life. Technology opens up new opportunities of development. And gives us new ways of addressing our challenges," he said.
 
"Space may seem distant, but is an integral part of our daily life today. It drives our modern communication, connecting even the remotest family to the mainstream. It empowers the child in the farthest village with quality education, through long-distance learning. It ensures quality healthcare to the most distant person, through tele-medicine. It enables the youth in a small town with various new job opportunities. Satellite technology has made distance irrelevant. It effectively enables us to reach the unreached. It helps us connect virtually, where physical connections are difficult. It has a critical role, in realizing the vision of a Digital India – the power of 125 crore connected Indians," he said.
 
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"GIS technology has transformed policy planning, and implementation. Space imaging enables modern management, and conservation of water resources – through GIS-driven watershed development. It has been deployed in our urban planning, to scientifically manage our growing towns and cities. It has also become an important tool, in better managing, and conserving our natural resources. Whether it be the Himalayan glaciers, oceans and forests, coastal resources or our mineral wealth. Space imagery is improving our land management systems, bringing wasteland into productive use. Our next frontier, should be to extend the same to land records, bringing in accuracy and transparency for the common man," he said.
 
Mr Modi said space technology had also evolved into an invaluable asset in disaster management. "Satellite communication channels often end up being the only mode of communication. Accurate advanced warning, and tracking of Cyclone Phailin saved countless lives recently," he said.
 
"We must as a nation, fully harness this expertise in space technology, in our developmental process. For social change, economic development, and resource conservation. The possibilities are limitless. The benefits enormous. I urge the Department of Space, to proactively engage with all stakeholders, to maximize the use of space science in governance and development. Deepening of state involvement will be critical for the same," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said India's space programme was driven by a vision of service to humanity, not by a desire of power, and an important instrument of human progress.
 
"We must therefore, share the fruits of our technological advancement, with those who do not enjoy the same. The developing world, and our neighbours in particular. We already share disaster management data with over 30 countries. We provide benefits of tele-medicine to Afghanistan and African countries. But we must do more," he said.
 
"Continued progress in space must remain a national mission. We must keep enhancing our space capabilities. We must develop more advanced satellites; with higher computing, imaging and transmitting power. We must expand our satellite footprint, in terms of frequency and quality. We must also strengthen our international partnerships in all areas of space technology.
 
"India has the potential, to be the launch service provider of the world. We must work towards this goal. Construct the required new launch infrastructure. And extend our launching capabilities to heavier satellites," he said.
 
Mr Modi also stressed the importance of development of human resources, saying it would be critical for the country's future success.
 
"I was very pleased to meet our young scientists here. I admire their work and their achievements. Let us link up with more universities and colleges, to develop our future leaders in this area. We must also involve our youth at large with space. You have already started putting a lot of space-related data online, through your Bhuvan space portal. What steps can we take to further increase access to data, by students and researchers? Let us use social media to further engage with our youth. Let us invite school and college children, to witness launches and visit space centres. Could we also think of developing, a state-of-the-art, interactive, digital space museum?" he added.
 
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India's PSLV-C23 successfully launches France's Spot-7, four other foreign satellites

India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) lifted off on Monday morning from the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on the country's east coast and successfully launched French observation satellite Spot-7 and four other co-passenger satellites into their intended orbits.

 
ISRO successfully launches PSLV-C-23 in presence of PM Modi
India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) lifted off this morning from the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on the country's east coast and successfully launched French observation satellite Spot-7 and four other co-passenger satellites into their intended orbits.
 
Apart from the 714 kg Spot-7, which was its main payload, PSLV perfectly placed in orbit the 14 kg Aisat of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) & NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada, each weighing 15 kg, and the 7 kg Velox-1 of Singapore.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu were amongst those who witnessed the launch, which took place at 0952 hours IST from the first launch pad of Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota.
 
ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan and his predecessors such as U R Rao and K Kasturirangan were also present on the occasion.
 
The 49-hour countdown for the launch had begun at 0852 hours on Saturday,  three minutes later than originally scheduled. The delay was because of the probability of space debris getting in the way of the launch vehicle, ISRO sources said.
 
The five satellites were carried by PSLV-C23 under commercial arrangements that Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, had entered into with the respective foreign agencies.
 
This was the 27th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and its tenth in the "core alone" configuration, that is without the use of solid strap-on motors. The launch vehicle has had a superb reliability rate, with 25 consecutive successful flights so far after the very first mission failed way back on September 20, 1993.
 
The 44.4 metre tall launch vehicle had a lift-off mass of 230 tonnes, the sources said.
 
Spot-7 is identical to Spot-6 launched by PSLV-C21 in September 2012. It is built by Airbus Defence & Space, a leading European space technology company.
 
With this, PSLV has now launched as many as 40 satellites of 19 other countries, the sources added.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Modi congratulated the ISRO scientists for yet another successful launch of PSLV and said it filled every Indian's heart with pride. "I can see the joy and satisfaction on your faces," he said.
 
He said India's achievements in space placed it in a select club of five or six countries. "This is a domain where we are at the international cutting edge. We have achieved excellence and gone beyond mediocrity," he said.
 
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He said the fact that developed countries such as France, Germany and Singapore had trusted India with the launch of their satellites was a global endorsement of its space capabilities.
 
He referred, in this context, to India's lunar mission, Chandrayaan, and the Mangalyaan mission currently on its way to Mars. "I personally follow it with great interest," he said.
 
He also noted that India had developed satellite-based navigation system that would be fully deployed by 2015.
 
Mr Modi said India's space programme was truly indigenous and had developed despite many hurdles and generations of scientists had worked to make the country self-reliant in this area. "We have come a long way from humble beginnings," he said.
 
He also expressed happiness that the space programme was extremely cost-efficient and mentioned, as an aside, that its Mars mission had cost less than the Hollywood movie Gravity.
 
Mr Modi said there was a misconception that space technology was for the elite. "
 
"Such technology is fundamentally connected with the common man. As a change agent, it can empower and connect, to transform his life," he said.
 
"The 'sadhana' you have done in the laboratories has the power to change the lives of millions of people," he said.
 
He pointed out that GIS technology, for instance, had transformed policy planning and implementation. "Space imaging enables modern management and conservation of water resources," he said.
 
"Technology has a critical role in realising the vision of a Digital India -- the power of 125 crore connected Indians," he stressed.
 
He said space technology had also evolved into an invaluable asset in disaster management and recalled how it had played a huge role in preventing loss of human lives when cyclone Phailin struck Odisha and other parts of the east coast recently through accurate advance warning and tracking.
 
"Satellite communication channels often end up being the only mode of communication," he said.
 
"I urge the Department of Space to proactively engage with all stakeholders, to maximize use of space science in governance and development," he said.
 
Mr Modi said India's space programme was driven by a vision of service to humanity and not by a desire for power.
 
"Today, I ask our space community, to take up the challenge of developing a SAARC satellite as India's gift to its neighbours in South Asia," he said.
 
He also urged the scientists to enlarge the footprint of India's satellite-based navigation system to cover all of South Asia.
 
"Continued progress in space must remain a national mission. We must keep enhancing our space capabilities," he said.
 
"India has the potential, to be the launch service provider of the world. We must work towards this goal," he said.
 
Mr Modi, who reached Sriharikota yesterday evening and spent time with ISRO scientists at the SDSC last night, said he was very happy to meet young scientists and that he greatly admired their work and their achievements.
 
He said he was particularly pleased to meet four generations of scientists at SDSC, right from those who had worked on India's first satellite Aryabhatta, and said this was a big sign of progress.
 
He suggested that ISRO could think of developing a state-of-the-art interactive digital space museum that would inspire youngsters to build careers in space technology.
 
"Technology is central to development. It touches one and all, and is an important instrument of our national progress," he said.
 
"India’s space programme is a perfect example of my vision of 'Scale, Speed and Skill'," he added.
 
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India's PSLV-C23 lifts off with French satellite Spot-7, four co-passengers

India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) lifted off on Monday morning from the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on the country's east coast with the 714 kg French earth observation satellite Spot-7 as its main payload.

PSLV-C23 on the First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Photo: ISRO
PSLV-C23 on the First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Photo: ISRO
India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) lifted off this morning from the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on the country's east coast with the 714 kg French earth observation satellite Spot-7 as its main payload.
 
PSLV-C23 also carried the 14 kg Aisat of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) & NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada, each weighing 15 kg, and the 7 kg Velox-1 of Singapore as co-passengers.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu were amongst those who witnessed the launch, which took place at 0952 hours IST from the first launch pad of Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota.
 
The 49-hour countdown for the launch had begun at 0852 hours on Saturday,  three minutes later than originally scheduled. The delay was because of the probability of space debris getting in the way of the launch vehicle, ISRO sources said.
 
The five satellites were carried by PSLV-C23 under commercial arrangements that Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, had entered into with the respective foreign agencies.
 
This was the 27th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and its tenth in the "core alone" configuration, that is without the use of solid strap-on motors. The launch vehicle has had a superb reliability rate, with 25 consecutive successful flights so far after the very first mission failed way back on September 20, 1993.
 
The 44.4 metre tall launch vehicle had a lift-off mass of 230 tonnes, the sources said.
 
Spot-7 is identical to Spot-6 launched by PSLV-C21 in September 2012. It is built by Airbus Defence & Space, a leading European space technology company.
 
Before this, PSLV had launched as many as 35 satellites of other countries, the sources added.
 
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PSLV-C23 to put French earth observation satellite Spot-7 in orbit on Monday

India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) will lift off on Monday morning from the spaceport at Sriharikota on the country's east coast with the 714 kg French earth observation satellite Spot-7 as its main payload.

PSLV-C23 on the First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Photo: ISRO
PSLV-C23 on the First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Photo: ISRO
India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) will lift off tomorrow morning from the spaceport at Sriharikota on the country's east coast with the 714 kg French earth observation satellite Spot-7 as its main payload.
 
PSLV-C23 will also be carrying the 14 kg Aisat of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) & NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada, each weighing 15 kg, and the 7 kg Velox-1 of Singapore as co-passengers.
 
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) sources said the lift-off is scheduled for 0952 IST tomorrow from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota.
 
The 49-hour countdown for the launch began at 0852 hours yesterday, three minutes later than originally scheduled. The delay was because of the probability of space debris getting in the way of the launch vehicle, they said.
 
The five satellites are being launched by PSLV-C23 under commercial arrangements that Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, has entered into with the respective foreign agencies.
 
This will be the 27th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and its tenth in the "core alone" configuration, that is without the use of solid strap-on motors. The launch vehicle has had a superb reliability rate, with 25 consecutive successful flights so far after the very first mission failed.
 
The 44.4 metre tall launch vehicle will have a lift-off mass of 230 tonnes, the sources said.
 
Spot-7 is identical to Spot-6 launched by PSLV-C21 in September 2012. It is built by Airbus Defence & Space, a leading European space technology company.
 
PSLV has so far launched 35 satellites of other countries, the sources added.
 
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Govt. announces compensation, relief measures for GAIL gas pipeline blast victims

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The Government today said the next-of-kin of each of the 14 people killed in the blast i a gas pipeline of the public sector GAIL (India) Limited in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh would get a total ex-gratia amount of Rs 25 lakh.
 
This includes Rs 20 lakh from GAIL, Rs 3 lakh from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund and Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund, an offficial announcement said after Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu visited the scene of the tragedy.
 
For those permanently disabled, Rs.5 lakh will be deposited as fixed deposit in their name by GAIL (India) Limited. The permanent disability will be certified by the district administration. 
 
All other injured persons will be given an ex-gratia of Rs.1 lakh. Out of this Rs.50,000 will be provided from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the balance Rs.50,000 will be provided by the GAIL (India) Limited. 
 
The best possible medical care will be provided to those injured. All expenses in this regard will be borne by GAIL, the release said.
 
Damage to property and crops caused by the fire will be compensated at market value by GAIL. All thatched houses in the affected village will be converted into pucca houses through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds of GAIL and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
 
A skill upgradation center will be established near the site of the accident through CSR funds of GAIL and ONGC, the release said.
 
A high-level inquiry committee has been constituted to probe the incident. The committee would submit its report in a time bound manner, it said.
 
"Action will be taken to adopt best international practices regarding safety and security of all pipelines in the country. An action plan for this would be developed in a time bound manner," the release added.
 
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President, PM condole loss of lives in GAIL gas pipeline explosion

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President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi today condoled the loss of lives in an explosion in a gas pipeline of the public sector GAIL India in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh earlier in the day.
 
 “I am extremely saddened to learn about the explosion of a GAIL gas pipeline in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh in which some persons have lost their lives and many others are injured," Mr Mukherjee said in a message to Andhra Pradesh governor E S L Narasimhan.
 
"I am sure that the State Government and other agencies are taking necessary steps to provide urgent medical assistance to the injured and all possible aid to the bereaved families, who have lost their near and dear ones. 
 
"Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons," he added.
 
Mr Modi said in a post on micro-blogging site Twitter that his thoughts were with the families of those who lost their lives in the mishap and his prayers were with the injured.
 
He said he had spoken to Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and GAIL Chairman and Managing Director B C Tripathi and asked them to ensure immediate relief at the accident site.
 
Mr Modi also announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs. 2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives in the explosion. This is in addition to the relief assistance given by the Petroleum Ministry and GAIL. 
 
An ex-gratia relief of Rs. 50,000 has also been sanctioned for those who were seriously injured in the incident, an official press release added.
 
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14 killed, 14 injured in blast in GAIL pipeline in Andhra Pradesh

At least 14 people were burnt alive and an equal number suffered injuries in a fire that broke out after a blast in a pipeline of the Gas Authority of India Limited in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in the early hours of Friday.

 
14 killed, 14 injured in blast in GAIL gas pipeline in Andhra Pradesh
At least 14 people were burnt alive and an equal number suffered injuries in a fire that broke out after a blast in a pipeline of the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in the early hours of today.
 
The blast occurred near Nagaram village in Amalapuram mandal around 5.30 am and most of the victims were said to be people living in the vicinity of the pipeline.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter that his thoughts were with the families of those who lost their lives in the fire. He also prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.
 
He said he had spoken to Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and GAIL Chairman & Managing Director B C Tripathi and asked them to ensure immediate relief at the site of the accident.
 
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who was in Delhi, said 14 people had died and 14 others had been injured in the incident.
 
Of the injured, four were in a critical condition, he said, adding that all of them were undergoing treatment in nearby hospitals.
 
Mr Naidu said he had cancelled all his engagements in the capital and was rushing back to the state to visit the scene of the fire. He offered his condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and ordered an inquiry into the blst.
 
He asked Deputy Chief Minister N Chinarajappa to visit the scene of the fire and supervise the relief efforts.
 
Mr Pradhan told journalists in Delhi that he, too, was leaving for the scene of the tragedy along with top officials of the ministry.
 
He said the pipeline was a dedicated link for the Lanco power project from a gas gathering station of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) nearby.
 
Mr Pradhan has ordered a probe by a high-level committee to probe the mishap. Its members will include a joint secretary of the ministry, an executive director of the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD), an executive director of public sector Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and a representative of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
 
Top officials of the East Godavari district administration, police, fire services, GAIL and other departments and agencies rushed to the spot and were overseeing efforts to douse the flames.
 
More than 20 fire tenders were at the scene fighting the blaze, which was said to be under control. Gas supply through the pipeline, both input and output, had been cut off, official sources said.
 
The cause of the blast could not be immediately ascertained, the sources said.
 
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Several people feared killed in blast in GAIL pipeline in Andhra Pradesh

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Several people were feared killed in a fire that broke out after a blast in a pipeline of the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in the early hours of today.
 
The blast occurred near Nagaram village in Amalapuram mandal. 
 
While district officials said at least three people had been killed in the incident, unofficial reports said the toll was higher.
 
Top officials of the district administration, police, fire services, GAIL and other departments rushed to the spot and were overseeing efforts to douse the flames.
 
More than 20 fire tenders were at the scene fighting the blaze, which was said to be under control. Gas supply through the pipeline had been cut off, official sources said.
 
Several more people were injured in the mishap and were rushed to nearby hospitals.
 
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has ordered an enquiry into the incident. 
 
The cause of the blast could not be immediately ascertained.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter that his thoughts were with the families of those who lost their lives in the fire. He also prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.
 
He said he had spoken to Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and GAIL Chairman & Managing Director B C Tripathi and asked them to ensure immediate relief at the site of the accident.
 
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also offered his condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and ordered and inquiry into the blast. He asked Deputy Chief Minister N Chinarajappa to visit the scene of the fire and supervise the relief efforts.
 
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Telangana & AP HC Judge transferred to Punjab & Haryana HC

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Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, Judge of the High Court of Telangana and Aandhra Pradesh, has been transferred to the High Court of Punjab & Haryana by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
 
An official press release said Mr Justice Mohunta had been directed to assume charge of his office in the Punjab & Haryana High Court on or before June 30.
 
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4 bodies found, 20 students from Hyderabad still missing in HP

 
Virbhadra Singh orders probe after students go missing
Search and rescue teams today found the bodies of four of the 24 students of an engineering college near Hyderabad who went missing and were feared drowned after water was suddenly released from the Larji hydro-electric project into the Beas river in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh yesterday evening.
 
District officials in Mandi told NetIndian over the telephone that the search for the remaining missing 20 students had been suspended at nightfall and would be resumed at day-break tomorrow.
 
The students -- 18 boys and six girls -- were part of a  larger group of second year engineering students from the VNR Vignana College of Engineering and Technology near Hyderabad and were on a study tour in the area when the tragedy occurred.
 
The bodies of three girls and a boy were recovered this morning from the Pandoh dam, about 15 km downstream, and efforts were continuing to trace the others, they said.
 
A team from the Telangana government, led by state Home Minister Naini Narsimha Reddy and including police officials, was expected in Mandi later on Monday. The Director General of Police of Telangana and the Police Commissioner of Cyberabad were also in touch with senior police officials in Himachal Pradesh.
 
Various accounts suggested that the students were taking photographs and playing around on the rocks and in the shallow water when extra water was released from the dam suddenly around 7 pm yesterday.
 
According to officials, the dam authorities had issued the usual alerts and sounded sirens to downstream areas before releasing the water but the district administration has ordered an inquiry to establish the circumstances in which the mishap occurred.
 
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People on the banks of the river alerted the students to the sudden surge in water levels, but all of them were swept away before they could move to safety, the officials said.
 
Emergency teams were rushed to the spot and searched for the missing students with help of searchlights late into the night.
 
At daybreak today, the authorities intensified the search and rescue efforts by deploying rafters and divers even as scores of people scoured the riverside on both sides. Officials of the adjoining Kullu district also joined the rescue efforts.
 
The incident occurred at Thalot, around 40 km from Mandi. The Larji dam is located around two km upstream from there.
 
An official press release here said Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju would oversee the rescue and relief efforts and help the families of the victims. Among other things, steps are being taken to fly the parents of the missing students to Manali.
 
Union Minister of Human Resources Development Smriti Irani expressed grave concern and shock over the incident. She assured Himachal Pradesh Minister of Education G S Bali of all assistance and support required from the Centre.
 
She also spoke to a member of the faculty of the college, who was accompanying the students on the study trip to Himachal Pradesh and was present  at the site of the mishap when it happened. The principal of the college has been assured of all cooperation to cope with the tragedy.
 
"Our prayers are with the families in this hour of need," she added.
 
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