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Tamil Nadu

10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, gale winds, with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
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The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
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OPS gets boost as more AIADMK bigwigs back him in power tussle with Sasikala

Tamil Nadu caretaker Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam received a major boost in his open power tussle with ruling AIADMK General Secretary V. K. Sasikala when one of her key supporters and State Minister K. Pandiarajan and party spokesman and former Minister C. Ponnaiyan crossed over into his camp on Saturday.

 
TN Education Minister Pandiarajan backs OPS
Tamil Nadu caretaker Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam received a major boost in his open power tussle with ruling AIADMK General Secretary V. K. Sasikala when one of her key supporters and State Minister K. Pandiarajan and party spokesman and former Minister C. Ponnaiyan crossed over into his camp today.
 
As Ms. Sasikala moved quickly to keep her flock together amidst reports of growing desertions, three Lok Sabha members, V. Sathyabama of Tiruppur, Ashok Kumar of Krishnagiri and P R Sundaram of Namakkal also threw in their lot with Mr. Panneerselvam today.
 
Ms. Sasikala, on the other hand, voicing concern over the delay by Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao in responding to her claim to form the next Government in the state, wrote to him again today, seeking an opportunity to parade before him the MLAs supporting her.
 
Mr. Pandiarajan, the state Minister for School Education and Sports and Youth Welfare, arrived at Mr. Panneerselvam's residence, bringing cheer to the large crowd camping there and which has seen its support base growing slowly in the past few days.
 
The decision of Mr. Pandiarajan, one of the founders of well-known recruitment and consultancy firm Ma Foi, to switch loyalties is significant, given the fact that he was one of Ms. Sasikala's most ardent supporters during the past several days of political crisis in the state.
 
An indication of his impending shift was available from a "tweet" he posted on micro-blogging site Twitter this morning.
 
"Will surely listen to the collective voice of my voters & decide in a way to uphold the dignity of Amma's memory & unity of AIADMK!" he said.
 
Mr. Ponnaiyan said Mr. Panneerselvam was capable of leading the party with discipline and of running a corruption-free government.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam's Twitter handle said that state Rural Industries Minister P. Benjamin would shortly visit him to extend his support to him.
 
In her letter to the Governor, Ms. Sasikala noted that she had written to him on February 5 and February 7, seeking an appointment with him.
 
The Governor met her and nine Tamil Nadu Ministers in the evening of February 9 when she formally informed him of her election as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party last Sunday.
 
O. Panneerselvam
O. Panneerselvam
"... I submitted my elaborate presentation to invite me to form the Government as I have absolute majority. Original letter and true copy of the resolution were also handed over to Your Excellency," she said.
 
"Thus, as it has been seven long days since the Chief Minister Thiru. O. P. Panneerselvam submitted and Your Excellency accepted his resignation, taking the urgency of the situation at hand, I would like to seek an appointment with Your Excellency by today along with all MLAs who extended their support to me regarding further course of action to form the Government," she said.
 
"I believe Your Excellency will act immediately to save the sovereignty of the Constitution, democracy and the interest of the state," she added.
 
Ms. Sasikala addressed her supporters outside Veda Nilayam, the Poes Garden residence of the late Ms. Jayalalithaa, and said, "Amma has given me 1.5 crore party brothers and sisters.When they are with me,the sinister intentions of many will not  harm me."
 
"Amma is confident that I will look after AIADMK with all care," she said.
 
She said the relentless work done by Ms. Jayalalithaa had made AIADMK the third largest party. "Amma is with us now. Our Amma is now showing us the betrayers of our party," she said.
 
"People who think they can separate our party which has 1.5 crore people will only face defeat. Amma won over the hurdles, we are facing the same situation,we will also win over it. I believe in justice and democracy," she added.
Later, Ms. Sasikala drove in a motorcade to the resort where about 120 AIADMK MLAs have been staying for the past few days and met them for discussions on their future course of action.
 
"After meeting the party MLAs, I feel happy," she said. "All the party MLAs are fine and happy."
 
She said the "created time lag", in inviting her to form the government, appeared to be intended to create a split in the party.
 
Ms. Sasikala said she and her supporters were "waiting patiently" till now for a response to their claim, adding that "necessary measures will be taken".
 
Mr. K. A. Sengottayan, who has been appointed as the new chairman of the AIADMK Presidium, told journalists at the resort that all the MLAs there would remain with Ms. Sasikala till the end. "Our only aim is to make her the Chief Minister," he said.
 
However, there has been no indication whatsoever from Raj Bhavan in the past few days on when and how the political stalemate would be ended.
 
Even as the two rival groups continued to swipe and snipe at each other, Raj Bhavan clarified yesterday that the Governor had not sent any report to the President or the Ministry of Home Affairs on the political situation in the state.
 
The clarification came after media reports which said that Mr. Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra and is holding additional charge as the Governor of Tamil Nadu, had sent a report to the Centre after his meetings with Mr. Panneerselvam and Ms. Sasikala.
 
"Thiru Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Tamil Nadu has not sent any report either to the Ministry of Home Affairs or to the President of India, as reported in some of the media," a statement from Raj Bhavan said.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, had submitted his resignation last Sunday after Ms. Sasikala, 60, a long-time aide of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, was chosen by AIADMK MLAs as the new leader of their legislative party and, therefore, his successor. The Governor accepted his resignation on Monday and asked him to continue in office till alternative arrangments were made. 
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had been sworn in as the Chief Minister in the early hours of December 6, 2016 shortly after the death of Ms. Jayalalithaa, who was both the head of the government and the party supremo.
 
The usually reticent and self-effacing Mr. Panneerselvam made a surprise visit to the memorial of Ms. Jayalalithaa late in the night last Tuesday and then told waiting newspersons that he had been forced to resign and that he was willing to continue as Chief Minister if the people and the party so wished.
 
Ms. Sasikala was widely expected to be sworn in on Tuesday, but the Governor has not yet taken a final view on the situation confronting the state. Mr. Rao, who reached here from Mumbai on Thursday afternoon, met ten-member delegations led by the rivals, Mr. Panneerselvam and Ms. Sasikala, later that day.
 
While Mr. Panneerselvam told the Governor that he was forced to quit as Chief Minister and that he should be allowed to continue and take a floor test in the Assembly, Ms. Sasikala submitted to Mr. Rao a list of about 130 of the AIADMK's 135 MLAs and staked claim to forming the next Government.
 
The Governor is understood to be consulting legal and Constitutional experts and weighing his options.
 
Yesterday, Mr. Rao met State Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and Director General of Police T. K. Rajendran as well as Chennai Police Commissioner S. George amidst complaints by the Panneerselvam camp that the Sasikala group was holding about 120 MLAs at a nearby resort, many of them against their will.
 
V. K. Sasikala
V. K. Sasikala
DMK working president and leader of the Opposition M. K. Stalin met Mr Rao yesterday and submitted a representation in which he said the state administration could not be allowed to drift any further. He urged the Governor to take steps to ensure that a democratically and Constitutionally valid government was in place at the earliest through a free and fair floor test.
 
Meanwhile, Ms. Sasikala yesterday expelled AIADMK presidium chairman E. Madhusudanan from the primary membership of the party, a day after he threw in his lot with Mr. Panneerselvam. Mr. K. A. Sengottayan has been appointed as the new chairman of the presidium.
 
Mr. Madhusudanan, on his part, wrote to the Election Commission stating that Ms. Sasikala's election as General Secretary of the party was in violation of its rules and urging it to reject her claims in this regard.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had said on Thursday that he would issue orders to convert Veda Nilayam, the Poes Garden residence of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, into a memorial for her. The announcement assumes significance in view of the fact that Ms. Sasikala is functioning from that house.
 
To take this a step further, his camp has launched a signature campaign outside his residence on the proposal.
 
Two days after Ms. Sasikala removed him from the post of AIADMK treasurer, Mr. Panneerselvam on Thursday also wrote to banks asking them to not allow any one to access the party funds without his written permission. He said his removal from the post of treasurer was illegal.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam has been always regarded as a trusted lieutenant of Ms. Jayalalithaa and had stood in for her as Chief Minister twice when she faced crises.
 
Among those who have openly come out to support Mr. Panneerselvam is AIADMK Rajya Sabha member V. Maitreyan and former Tamil Nadu Assembly speaker P. H. Pandian.
 
There has been opposition to Ms. Sasikala's elevation from a section of the public, in social media and from the Opposition in the state. They point to the fact that she has never contested any election and has no administrative experience. They also point to the fact that an appeal against her acquittal in a two-decade-old corruption case is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict could be delivered as early as next week.
 
Ms. Sasikala and two others were co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in the case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. The two others are her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
Ms. Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22 and died on December 5 after a sudden cardiac arrest. Doctors who treated her had told a press conference here on Monday that the AIADMK leader had been treated for septicemia and a host of other medical problems.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was hospitalised on September 22.
 
He had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
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Panneerselvam's resignation accepted, Sasikala likely to be sworn in on Tuesday

Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao on Monday accepted the resignation of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers and his successor, Ms. V. K. Sasikala, a long-time aide of late AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa, is expected to be sworn in on Tuesday.

V. K. Sasikala
V. K. Sasikala
Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao today accepted the resignation of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers and his successor, Ms. V. K. Sasikala, a long-time aide of late AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa, is expected to be sworn in tomorrow.
 
The Governor requested Mr. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers to continue to function until alternate arrangements are made, a press release from the Raj Bhavan said.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, had resigned from office yesterday after the ruling All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legislature party met here and chose Ms. Sasikala as its new leader.
 
Ms. Sasikala, 60, is expected to be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of the State tomorrow morning at a function at the Madras University auditorium. 
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had been sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state in the early hours of December 6, succeeding Ms. Jayalalithaa who passed away at a private hospital here late night on December 5.
 
"Chinnamma elected as the AIADMK Legislature Party Leader," the AIADMK had said on micro-blogging site Twitter yesterday. Ms. Sasikala is referred to as "Chinamma" by party workers, just as Ms. Jayalalithaa was called "Amma".
 
It said Mr. Panneerselvam himself, known to be a long-time Jayalalithaa loyalist, had proposed Ms. Sasikala's name as the new leader of the AIADMK legislature party leader.
 
"Chinnamma all set to become the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu," the party said.
 
Ms. Sasikala had then made a brief appearance in the balcony of Ms. Jalayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden here, dressed in a green saree and blouse, the AIADMK's colour, and greeted the crowds gathered outside with a "namaste" and then the "V" sign.
 
She later drove to the AIADMK headquarters where she said that it was Mr. Panneerselvam who had urged her first to take charge as General Secretary of the party and it was he who insisted, first, that she become the Chief Minister of the state. Ms. Sasikala has never held any position in Government before nor has she ever contested any elections.
 
She assured the people that her government would always work for the welfare of the people. "Tamil Nadu Government will follow the principles of Amma," she said.
  
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
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He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
Ms. Sasikala, along with her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi , were  co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in an 18-year-old corruption case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. An appeal against the acquittal is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict in the matter is awaited.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
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Sasikala Natarajan set to be new CM of Tamil Nadu

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan, a long-time friend and companion of late party supremo J. Jayalithaa, is all set to become the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the party's MLAs met in Chennai and chose her as the leader of its legislature party.

 
Sasikala Natarajan appointed legislative party leader of AIADMK
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan, a long-time friend and companion of late party supremo J. Jayalithaa, is all set to become the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the party's MLAs met here today and chose her as the leader of its legislative party.
 
She will succeed Mr. O. Panneerselvam, senior leader of the ruling AIADMK, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state in the early hours of December 6, succeeding Ms. Jayalalithaa who passed away at a private hospital here late night on December 5.
 
"Chinnamma elected as the AIADMK Legislature Party Leader," the AIADMK said on micro-blogging site Twitter. 
 
Ms. Sasikala, 60, is referred to as "Chinamma" by party workers, just as Ms. Jayalalithaa was called as "Amma". It said Mr. Panneerselvam had proposed Ms. Sasikala's name as the new leader of the AIADMK legislature party leader.
 
"Chinnamma all set to become the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu," the party said.
 
Ms. Sasikala made a brief appearance in the balcony of Ms. Jalayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden here, dressed in a green saree and blouse, the AIADMK's colour, and greeted the crowds gathered outside with a "namaste" and then the "V" sign.
 
Ms. Sasikala later drove to the AIADMK headquarters where she said that it was Mr. Panneerselvam who had urged her first to take charge as General Secretary of the party and it was he who insisted, first, that she become the Chief Minister of the state. Ms. Sasikala has never held any position in Government before nor has ever contested any elections.
 
She assured the people that her government would always work for the welfare of the people. "Tamil Nadu Government will follow the principles of Amma," she said.
 
She is expected to meet Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao in the next day or two and stake claim to form the next government in the state.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
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He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
Ms. Sasikala, along with her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi , were  co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in an 18-year-old corruption case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. An appeal against the acquittal is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict in the matter is awaited.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
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Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa suffers cardiac arrest in hospital

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai for the last three months for a lung infection, suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, the hospital said.

 
Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa suffers cardiac arrest
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital here for the last three months for a lung infection, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening, the hospital said.
 
"The Hon'ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nau who is undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening," the hospital said in a statement late tonight.
 
"She is being treated and monitored by a team of experts, including Cardiologists, Pulmonologists and the Critical Care Specialists," the statement added.
 
The hospital said Ms. Jayalalithaa was on extracorporeal membrane heart assist device and was being treated by a team of expert doctors and critical care specialists.
 
The hospital said Dr Richard Beale from London had also been consulted and he had concurred with the line of treatment by its cardiologists and pulmonologists.
 
"Our prayers are with her and we hope she will recover soon. We request all of you to pray for her good health and well being. The Hon'ble CM is the beloved leader of the masses. Please join us in praying for her speedy recovery," the hospital said in a series of posts on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Tamil Nadu Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao, to inquire about Ms. Jayalalithaa's heath.
 
Mr. Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra, is holding additional charge of Tamil Nadu, since August 31 following the end of the tenure of Mr. K. Rosaiah. He told Mr. Rajnath Singh that he would leave for Chennai tonight.
 
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Hundreds of workers of Ms. Jayalalithaa's party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), her supporters and leaders of the party began converging outside the hospital after hearing of the news of her cardiac arrest. Police stepped up security arrangements outside the hospital as a precautionary measure.
 
Earlier in the day, the AIADMK had said that Ms. Jayalalithaa would soon decide when she would leave hospital and return home after doctors had declared that she had fully recovered.
 
The hospital has said several times in the past few weeks that the Chief Minister, called "Amma" by her supporters, was well enough to return home whenever she wanted. Her party said she was involved in taking government decisions and also speaking on occasion to those who were allowed to meet her.
 
Ms. Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital on September 27 for treatment of dehydration and fever. Later, there were reports that she was also being treated for a chronic lung infection and that he had been put on respiratory support. Specialist doctors from London and Delhi had been flown in to monitor her condition.
 
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Jayalalithaa returns as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu

AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in Chennai on Saturday, 12 days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in an 19-year-old corruption case and paved the way for her return to the top job in the state for the fifth time after a gap of eight months.

 
Jayalalithaa sworn in as Tamil Nadu CM
 
 
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu here today, 12 days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in an 19-year-old corruption case and paved the way for her return to the top job in the state for the fifth time after a gap of eight months.
 
Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah administered the oaths of offie and secrecy to Ms Jayalalithaa at a ceremony at the Madras University Centenary Auditorium.
 
Along with Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, as many as 28 other Ministers were also sworn in, including Mr O. Panneerselvam, who had functioned as Chief Minister since September 29 after she had been forced to resign following her conviction by a special court in Bangalore in the case.
 
Mr Panneerselvam will be Finance Minister, a portfolio he had held in her previous Cabinet.
 
The Governor had accepted the resignation of Mr. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers with effect from the forenoon of yesterday and requested him and his Council of Ministers to function until alternative arrangements were made.
 
Later yesterday, Ms Jayalalithaa, who was elected as the leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, had called on Mr Rosaiah and staked her claim to form the new government.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa will have to get elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly within six months in keeping with Constitutional requirements.
 
Mr Panneerselvam had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Like this tim, she was then, too, cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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On May 11, the Karnataka High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of the special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state. The acquittal by the High Court meant that Ms Jayalalithaa could return as Chief Minister.
 
The three co-accused who were acquitted along with her are her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi, who were also convicted in the case and sentenced to four years in prison and fined Rs 10 crore each by the special court.
 
Sasikala was among the more than 3000 people present at the ceremony. Others present included film stars Rajnikanth, Sarath Kumar and Prabhu and industrialists N Srinivasan and A C Muthaiah.
 
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Jayalalithaa acquitted in corruption case, paving way for her return as TN CM

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Monday acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.

File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was today acquitted by the Karnataka High Court here in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.
 
The High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Reading out the operative part of the judgement at 11 am in the court, Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state.
 
Today's acquittal means that Ms Jayalithaa, supremo of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), can return as Chief Minister.
 
After she had stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29 last year.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. She was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, a film star-turned-politician, and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The special court had sentenced the co-accused -- her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew Sudharakan, who is Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi -- also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
 
Jayalalithaa acquitted by Karnataka HC in corruption case
Celebrations broke out among Ms Jayalalithaa's supporters all across Tamil Nadu as well as outside the high court here, where they had gathered in large numbers.
 
Hundreds of people who had congregated outside her Poes Garden residence in Chennai since early morning burst firecrackers, danced and distributed sweets as soon as news of the verdict by Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy ame in.
 
Mr Panneerselvam and many of his Cabinet colleagues also turned up to congratulate her.
 
On October 17 last year, Ms Jayalalithaa had been granted bail by the Supreme Court in the case after the Karnataka High Court had turned down her application.
 
Along with her, the apex court also granted bail to Ms Natarajan, Mr Sudhakaran and Mr Ilavarasi.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Ms Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In 2011, Jayalalithaa had appeared in the Bangalore court for four days to answer more than 1390 questions posed by the judge.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections last year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state.
 
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10 dead, 50 hurt as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails near Hosur

At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed on Friday morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.

 
10 dead, 50 injured as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails
At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed this morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.
 
The mishap occurred at around 7.45 am between Anekal Road and Hosur stations on the Bangalore-Salem section of South-Western Railway, they said.
 
Prima facie, the derailment occurred after the train hit a boulder that had rolled down onto the tracks in the ghat section, the sources said.
 
The train had left Bangalore at 6.15 am for Ernakulam in Kerala. Nine coaches and the engine of the train went off the rails, and one coach in particular, D8, a second class chair car, was badly affected, they said.
 
The derailed coaches included two air-conditioned chair cars and six second class chair cars, but they did not suffer much damage.
 
A pantry car and four second class chair cars were not affected by the derailment, the sources said.
 
South-Western Railway spokesperson Chandrasekhar Gupta told NetIndian over the telephone that ten bodies had been extricated from the mangled coaches.
 
He said 18 of the injured passengers had suffered severe injuries and were undergoing treatment in the Narayan Hridalaya, Sparsh and Anekal General hospitals nearby.
 
Police and emergency personnel, including railway officials and staff, from nearby areas in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka rushed to the spot with ambulances and medical equipment. The Railways rushed medical vans and accident relief vans to the spot.
 
Efforts were being made to restore rail traffic on the section at the earliest, the sources said.
 
In Delhi, Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu said he was rushing to the scene of the accident and that he had directed the Chairman of the Railway Board, the General Manager of South-Western Railway and other senior officials to reach the spot.
 
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He said all possible help would be rendered to the affected passengers and families. He also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 200,000 for the next-of-kin of each of those killed in the accident, Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured passengers and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.
  
Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, a former Minister for Railways and former Karnataka Chief Minister, was among those who reached the scene of the accident. 
 
"I am personally monitoring it and in touch with State and local administration. All Sr rail officials are directed by me to be on job," Mr Prabhu said.
 
"Condolences to all the  unfortunate members of the families who lost lives. Directed to provide best possible medical care to the injured," he said.
 
"Ordered enquiry to fix responsibility and for corrective action to prevent such unfortunate accidents. Monitoring action regularly," he added.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines to provide information and assistance to victims and their relatives: 0948090599,  08022371166, 09731666751.
 
Besides, the Railways have set up the following helpline numbers in Kerala:
 
Trivandrum: 0471-2321205, 2321237, 09746769960
Ernakulam Jn.: 0484-2100317, 0813699773
Ernakulam Town: 0484-2398200
Trichur: 04877-2424148, 2430060
Aluva: 0484-2624143
 
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SC grants bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.

File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
The Supreme Court today granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who were convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Along with Ms Jayalalithaa, 66, the apex court also granted bail to her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi, who were also convicted in the case and sentenced to four years in prison and fined Rs 10 crore each.
 
The Karnataka High Court had, on October 7, rejected Ms Jayalalithaa's bail application. While doing so, Judge A V Chandrashekhara recalled that the Supreme Court had made it clear in the past that corruption cases should be put on the fast track. He pointed out that the apex court had taken a tough stand in such cases and had described corruption as a "violation of human rights".
 
Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo had moved the Supreme Court for bail on October 9.
 

 
Jayalalithaa granted interim bail by SC in DA case
The apex court today suspended her sentence and granted her bail after imposing some conditions, including that she would have to submit her paprs for the appeal against her conviction within two months, that is by December 18, and that she would not seek any adjournment of the hearings. 
 
As soon as news of the court's decision to grant her bail came, hundreds of supporters of Ms Jayalalithaa in Chennai and elsewhere broke out into rapturous celebrations.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, who has been held in prison in Bangalore since September 27, is expected to be released on bail later today or tomorrow. She will remain confined to home in Chennai while she is on bail.
 
The court fixed December 18 as the date to satisfy itself if she had complied with its order.
 
Her counsel Fali Nariman assured the court on her behalf that there would be no act of lawlessness by her party's workers in Tamil Nadu. She had sought bail on the grounds that she was suffering from various ailments and that she was a senior citizen and a woman.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa stood disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly after her conviction and sentence and had to resign as Chief Minister. She is also barred from contesting elections for six years after she completes her four-year sentence.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Ms Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
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The court held that the prosecution had been able to prove that she possessed disproportionate assets of about Rs 53 crore. 
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state and emerging as the third largest party in the House.
 
Elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly are due in 2016 and unless her conviction is overturned by a higher court, Ms Jayalalithaa cannot contest them.
 
After Ms Jayalalithaa stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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L&T launches second Offshore Patrol Vessel for Indian Coast Guard

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) launched the second in a series of seven Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) at the company’s greenfield defence shipyard at Kattupalli, near here, on Saturday.
 
The OPV was formally lowered into the waters of the Bay of Bengal at the hands of Mrs. Natarajan, wife of K Natarajan, Additional Director General (Western Seaboard) of the ICG. She named the OPV ‘CGS Vijaya’.
 
L&T is the first private Indian shipyard to construct and deliver OPVs for the ICG. L&T received the prestigious order valued at Rs. 1432 crore for design and construction of seven OPVs from the Ministry of Defence in March 2015. The first OPV was launched in October, 2017 and is presently undergoing trials. 
 
"The launch of the second OPV, within three months from the launch of the first vessel and with overall completion of 85%, bears testimony to L&T’s proven project planning and execution capabilities," it said.
 
These OPVs are long-range surface ships with helicopter operation capabilities, and their roles include coastal and offshore patrolling, policing maritime zones of India, control & surveillance, anti-smuggling & anti-piracy with limited wartime roles.
 
The OPVs are approximately 97m long, 15m wide, has 3.6m draught, 2140 T displacement with a range of 5000 NM and can attain sustained speeds of up to 26 knots. The entire design and construction processes have undergone dual certification from the American Bureau of Shipping and Indian Registrar of Shipping, and the project is being overseen by the ICG's resident team at Kattupalli shipyard.
 
In December, 2017, L&T completed the delivery of all 36 Interceptor Boats to the Indian Coast Guard contracted in March 2010, well ahead of contractual delivery schedule. The in-house designed and constructed Floating Dock-2 for the Indian Navy has been dispatched to Port Blair this month for final trials and handing over. This is the first time a Floating Dock has been designed and constructed indigenously.
 
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Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, CEO & Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro, said: “It is heartening to see another ahead of schedule launch of a major defence vessel at the Kattupalli shipyard. Delivery of all 36 Interceptor Boats under the first contract from the Indian Coast Guard ahead of schedule, timely dispatch of the Floating Dock-2 and timely completion of various refit orders from the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard speak volumes about L&T’s stellar delivery performance. This stems from our deep-rooted ethos of nation-building and world-class ship design and fabrication capabilities. Today, we are amongst very few Indian shipyards that have the requisite capacity and financial strength to deliver complex defence vessels on time.”
 
Mr. J.D. Patil, Senior Executive Vice President & Whole-time Director (Defence), Larsen & Toubro said: “The launch of OPV-2 signifies the launch of the ninth defence vessel by L&T in the current financial year. L&T is achieving new benchmarks of execution excellence with the construction of more defence vessels. With in-house capabilities to undertake ship design, in-house manufacturing of critical marine equipment, world-class shipyard infrastructure and robust financial strength, L&T is uniquely placed to fulfil the ambitious fleet expansion plans of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard."
 
“L&T is also looking forward to participate in ‘Medium Refit and Life Extension Certification’ of EKM submarines of the Indian Navy. We will be deploying our rich expertise in the field of design engineering and construction of submarines for this project,” Mr. Patil added.
 
“It is indeed a remarkable achievement to surpass the construction timelines in a multi-project execution scenario,” said Vice Admiral B. Kannan (Retd.), MD & CEO, L&T Shipbuilding. “Large-scale deployment of digital technologies in most shipyard operations including design, planning, production, project management and QA/QC has immensely helped in prioritizing the tasks and optimal deployment of resources. Our rich pool of human resources is constantly innovating to enhance the productivity and has cut down cycle time,” he concluded.
 
In addition, L&T is also progressing well on the Medium Refit (MR) of a Naval survey vessel at the Kattupalli shipyard. L&T undertakes repairs and refits of Naval and Coast Guard ships regularly and has till date completed repair/refit of four Naval ships and two Coast Guard ships.
 
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Making science popular like music through a 'Sabha'

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Science popularization can be done in many ways. Researchers at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai have chosen to reach the public through an unconventional approach.
 
For the past two years, a group of scientists at the Institute has been holding a programme of popular lectures on scientific topics at the Music Academy in the heart of the city.
 
They are now working on the third edition of the programme called `Science at the Sabha’. Four top scientists and mathematicians will hold forth on topics at the cutting edge of science. The programme is scheduled for February 11.
 
The programme will start with a talk by Dr. Shubha Tole of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. She will talk on “Outside-in: How we perceive the world?” The world we know is “constructed” in our brains using information gathered by our five senses. Understanding how sensory nerves connect to the brain in a growing embryo is an area of intense research, because it is this circuitry that controls how we experience the world.
 
Dr. R. Rajesh, a physicist at IMSc, will talk on `why does time go forward?’ As per the laws of physics, it is equally possible for the time to flow backwards. But, we see it move only forward. Dr. Rajesh will explain the paradox and what it means for what we see in the world around us. His research interests include studying how differently shaped objects pack, as also thestructure of bones.
 
Dr. Guruswamy Kumaraswamy of National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, will deliver the third talk on “Materials: The Hard, the Soft and the Squishy”. Is toothpaste solid or liquid? It doesn’t flow unless we squeeze the tube but flows readily after that.  Dr. Kumaraswamy will describe some soft and squishy materials that we encounter in daily life and how such materials can be combined with harder ones to form unusual composite materials.
 
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For example, the sea shells that protect soft-shelled aquatic animals are hard and yet they don’t break easily, unlike glass which is hard but shatters readily.  Scientists are just beginning to learn how nature builds these amazing materials and to use this knowledge to build synthetic composites that can be put to use for myriad applications including for building faster aircrafts.
 
Vijay Kodiyalam, who is also from IMSc would deliver the fourth and last lecture. He will talk on `Knotty problem:  how many different ways can you tie your shoelaces?’ Knots and braids are familiar to all of us from childhood. How do we tell one knot from another? How many knots are there? Given a tangled loop of string, how do we know how is it knotted or whether we can open it up without having to cut it or not? Besides being of intrinsic interest, answers to such questions have applications to subjects as varied as cryptology and the structure of DNA. In his talk, Dr. Kodiyalam will try to explain how mathematicians think about these questions.
 
Speaking to India Science Wire, Dr. Gautam Menon and Dr. K.N.Raghavan of IMSc -- the brains behind the event -- said “there will be question-and- answer sessions after each talk, with questions being posted live on Facebook and Twitter handles. Short movies about opportunities for science education and research in India will be screened? ?just before the talks begin.” 
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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IndiGo commences flights from Rajahmundry to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo today expanded its regional network by commencing ATR operations from Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh.
 
Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister China Rajappa, along with Mr. Sanjeev Ramdas, Executive Vice President of Customer Service & Operations Control, IndiGo flagged-off the flight from Rajahmundry to Chennai at Rajahmundry Airport today.
 
Other dignitaries who were present at the flag-off ceremony included Mr. Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, Minister for Finance, Planning, Commercial Taxes, Legislative Affairs; Ms. Pantham Rajani Sesha Sai, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Rajamahendravaram; Mr. Kartikeya Misra, Collector and District Magistrate, East Godavari District; and Ms. B.Raja Kumari, IPS., Superintendent of Police, Rajamahendravaram Urban Police District.
 
A press release from the airline said it would connect Rajahmundry to Hyderabad with twice daily frequencies, and one direct daily frequency each on Rajahmundry–Bangalore–Rajahmundry and Rajahmundry–Chennai–Rajahmundry sectors. 
 
IndiGo is the only airline that connects Rajahmundry with direct flights to three major metros of southern India: Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad from day one of its operations, the release said.
 
The airline operates more than 1000 flights daily to 48 destinations.
 
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Rajinikanth announces entry into politics, says will contest TN Assembly elections

Ending months of speculation, Tamil film megastar Rajinikanth confirmed his entry into politics on Sunday, saying that he would float a political party that would contest all 234 seats in the next elections to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly with "truth, hard work and growth" as its agenda.

 
Rajinikanth announces his entry into politics
Ending months of speculation, Tamil film megastar Rajinikanth  confirmed his entry into politics today, saying that he would float a political party that would contest all 234 seats in the next elections to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly with "truth, hard work and growth" as its agenda.
 
"It is a compulsion of the times that I have launch a new political party for the next assembly elections," Rajinikanth, 67, told a huge gathering of his fans and supporters at the end of a six-day outreach event at the Sri Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam here.
 
During his short speech, the actor spoke about the ills afflicting politics in the state and said the need of the hour was to bring about change from the bottom up, with a special focus on ending corruption in the system.
 
"If I do not enter politics at this juncture, it will mean letting down the people, who have given me so much love and affection," he said, indicating that his party would also contest the next Lok Sabha elections. "I will enter politics. I will do my duty."
 
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He said that he would tour all over the state and promised to visit "every village and every street", and urged people to join his political movement. “This is not cinema. It is real life," he said.
 
There has been intense speculation that Rajinikanth and the equally well-known Kamal Hasan, two of the biggest names in Indian cinema, would enter Tamil Nadu politics for the past one year after the death of then Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, a popular actress of her time, on December 5, 2016. Kamal Hasan made his move in this regard some time ago.
 
Following Ms. Jayalalithaa's death, the state witnessed an unseemly battle for control of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), culminating in its defeat in the recently held bye-elections from the former Chief Minister's constituency, Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar, in which sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran won. The candidate of the opposition DMK forfeited his deposit.
 
Mr. Dhinakaran is the nephew of jailed V. K. Sasikala, who was elected as the party's general secretary to succeed Ms. Jayalalithaa but was ousted after a merger of the two rival factions led by Chief Minister E. K. Palaniswamy and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. Ms. Sasikala is currently serving out the remainder of a jail term in a corruption case which also involved Ms. Jayalalithaa.
 
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Two coaches of EMU train derail at Avadi, no injuries to anyone

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Two coaches -- the second and third from the front -- of the 43127 Moore Market Complex (MMC)-Pattabiram EMU train derailed at Avadi station late last night, but no one was injured because the train was empty, Southern Railway sources said.
 
The mishap occurred around 2325 hours yesterday while the train was leaving Avadi station, about 23 km from here, on the Chennai suburban railway network.
 
A press release from Southern Railway said senior officers from Chennai Division rushed to the spot and started restoration work immediately.  The first coach was rerailed at 0220 hours and the second coach at 0320 hours. Restoration of track is in progress at the site, it said.
 
Suburban rail traffic was affected as a consequence of the derailment and some EMU services were cancelled for the day. These include train numbers 66000, (Avadi - MMC), 66025 (MMC - Sulurpetta), 66029 (Sulurpettah - Nellore), 66030 (Nellore - Sulurpettah), 66026 (Sulurpettah - MMC) , 66002 (Avadi - MMC) ,66015 (MMC - Arakkonam) , 66039 (Arakkonam - Tirupaty) , 66033 (Tirupaty - Nellore) , 66036 (Nellore - MMC), and 66003 (MMC - Avadi).
 
However, Passenger Specials from MMC are being operated at 30- minute intervals to Tirutani (08.30 AM), Tiruvallur (9.00 AM), Pattabiram Military Siding (9.30 AM) and Arakkonam (10.AM) upto 10 AM today.
 
The suburban train traffic is expected to gradually normalise after 10 AM today, the release added.
 
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World Bank to provide $ 318 million forTamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization Project

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The Government of India, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the World Bank signed a $  318 million loan agreement here today for the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization Project to promote climate resilient agriculture technologies, improve water management practices, and increase market opportunities for small and marginal farmers. 
 
About 500,000 farmers, of which a majority are small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved and modernized tank irrigation systems, an official press release said.
 
The project will rehabilitate and modernize about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams, spread across 66 sub-basins, in delivering bulk water to irrigation systems.
 
"Tamil Nadu, being a water-stressed state, continues to experience water shortages which are expected to further exacerbate in the future. Rehabilitating and modernizing irrigation tanks will improve the reliability and availability of irrigation water for farming communities, making them less prone to climatic hazards. More than 160,000 ha of currently partially irrigated lands will come into full irrigation under this project,” said Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
 
The agreement for the project was signed by Mr. Khare on behalf of the Government of India; Mr. S. K. Prabhakar, Principal Secretary, Public Works Department, on behalf of the Government of Tamil Nadu and Mr. John Blomquist, Program Leader and Acting Country Director, World Bank, India on behalf of the World Bank.
 
“This project will help Tamil Nadu scale up its efforts to unlock the full potential of its agriculture sector. It will support farmers improve the efficiency of water used in farming, diversify into high value crops, and produce crops that are resilient to the increasing threats of climate change. Such efforts will be a win-win for all, leading to better use of scarce water resources and raising household incomes of farmers,” said Mr. Blomquist.
 
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According to the release, though significant progress has been made during the past decade in crop diversification, there was still scope for achieving a higher level. Paddy is the dominant crop occupying 34 percent of total cropped areas, whereas fruits and vegetables are grown on 11 percent and pulses and oilseeds on 14 percent of total cropped areas. By helping farmers’ access modern technologies, linking them to markets, and providing postharvest management support, the project will enable farmers to shift from a mono crop paddy system to mixed cropping including high-value crops (fruits, vegetables, and spices), pulses, oilseeds, and millets, it said.
 
To enhance the ability of crops to withstand expected adverse impacts of climate change, the project will support smallholder producers adopt new conservation technologies such as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Sustainable Sugar Initiative (SSI). They reduce average water usage by 35 percent and increase yields by 22 percent per ha. The project is expected to increase the yield of rice, maize, and pulses by 18–20 percent.
 
The project will also coordinate with other World Bank-supported projects in Tamil Nadu and at the national level, including the Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project, National Hydrology Project, and National Groundwater Improvement Project to ensure synergy and enhance long-term project impact, the release said.
 
The $ 318 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years, it added.
 
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Kovind says engineers could play larger role in solving key challenges facing India

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President Ram Nath Kovind today said engineers could play a much larger role in solving key challenges facing the country in areas such as food, healthcare and the environment, in providing low-cost and easy-to-build housing, and in enhancing urban infrastructure with minimum disruption.
 
Addressing the valedictory function of the 32nd Indian Engineering Congress here, he said engineers are agents of change. 
 
"Historically it is engineers who have used the logic of science to achieve practical solutions – whether building dams or bridges, whether designing locomotives or computers. From the earliest metal tools to the integrated circuit, from the 18th century Industrial Revolution to the 21st century Fourth Industrial Revolution – it is engineering that has spoken the language of the future. Today, in exploring the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things or in realising our aspirations for Make in India, once more it is to our engineers that we turn," he said.
 
Mr. Kovind said these opportunities were all the more important because human civilisation is at an inflection point. 
 
"The evolution of technology is changing how we live, work and think. It is also challenging the practice of engineering. Traditional fields of engineering will continue to thrive. After all, we will still need machines tools and power grids, roads and bridges, aircraft and ships. But this traditional practice of engineering will have to both embrace and drive innovation in cutting-edge areas," he said.
 
"For example, civil engineers are specialists in materials. They use this knowledge for construction. Yet, this same knowledge of composites and materials will increasingly be deployed for both micro needs – such as creating medical implants for the human body – as well as macro needs – for instance, constructing facilities and maybe even colonies in outer space.
 
"Developments across different fields are creating avenues for cross-fertilisation. Disciplines such as food technology, biotechnology, environmental engineering and transportation engineering are expanding the horizons of engineers. And engineers will inevitably intersect with disciplines as far apart as law, geography and political science. 
 
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"The responsibility that all this places upon you is enormous. Engineers are being called upon to be nation builders in more ways than we can imagine. Again, this is not without precedent. The late M. Visvesvaraya was an administrator, irrigation specialist and town planner of repute. He trained as an engineer and his birthday is commemorated as Engineer’s Day. Dr Satish Dhawan, who pioneered India’s space programme and made it relevant to our farmers, was an engineer. India’s much-loved 'Milk Man' Verghese Kurien, who led the White Revolution, was an engineer. And the 'Metro Man' E. Sreedharan, who built the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro in extremely difficult circumstances, also studied engineering," he said.
 
"These are just a few examples of engineers who rose beyond the call of their everyday work and contributed to our national life. Their stories tell us what engineers can achieve. May the adventure and the achievement never cease!" he said.
 
Mr. Kovind began his address by noting that it was his first visit to Tamil Nadu as President.
 
"The discipline of engineering combines the excitement of science and technology with the rigour of structure. These attributes are intrinsic to Tamil society. If we go into the impressive history of the Tamil people, we encounter Chola naval and trading ships that were travelling up and down the Indian Ocean a thousand years ago. Even older is the complex of shore monuments in Mamallapuram, built by another great Tamil dynasty – the Pallavas. The landscaping and the intricate drainage system of Mamallapuram are fascinating to this day. All these are samples of a very advanced level of engineering.
 
"Earlier in the morning I was honoured to visit the Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Memorial in Rameswaram. Along with the late Shri R. Venkataraman, Dr Kalam is one of two former Presidents, my illustrious predecessors, to have come from Tamil Nadu. He trained as an engineer and became famous as a missile technologist. More than that, he was a proud son of India. Dr Kalam could have earned millions in the West, but he chose to devote his learning and his life to the development of our country. All of us as Indians, and all of you as engineers, must draw inspiration from him.
 
"A spirit of inquiry and of evidence-based policy – and an abiding faith in technology and innovation as tools for the welfare of the people – has been a hallmark of public life in modern Tamil Nadu. Right from the days of Rajaji and Periyar, the state has made impressive strides in social reform. Our Green Revolution and self-sufficiency in food owes so much to stalwarts from Tamil Nadu such as the late Shri C. Subramanian and the distinguished scientist Dr M.S. Swaminathan," he said.
 
"The journey of reform and of people’s welfare continued under Shri C. Annadurai and Shri K. Kamaraj. Shri M.G. Ramachandran, whose birth centenary we are celebrating this year, and Dr J. Jayalalitha took Tamil Nadu even further. And I cannot forget to mention that gifted word-smith and patriarch of our politics, Shri M. Karunanidhi. These distinguished political and social leaders – and I have mentioned only a few – have given Tamil Nadu a rich legacy. The Midday Meal Scheme that originated in Tamil Nadu gave India a model to combat malnutrition and help in the physical and cognitive development of our children. And whether it is in textiles or IT, precision manufacture or automobiles, Tamil Nadu has used engineering to build a solid industrial economy – creating thousands of jobs," he said.
 
He also praised the contribution of the Institution of Engineers (India), which is close to a hundred years old. It was founded in 1920 as an institution that would advance the cause of engineering and technology in India. "It set the benchmark. Prior to the formation of the All India Council of Technical Education, in 1987, the Institution of Engineers used to regulate engineering and technical education in the country," he said.
 
"The Institution of Engineers (India) has also played a crucial role in promoting a culture of R&D. It has encouraged and sponsored even undergraduate engineering students to push the frontiers of their curriculum and of innovation. This has led to the Ministry of Science and Technology conferring the status of a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the Institution of Engineers," he added.
 
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Modi visits cyclone-hit areas in Lakshadweep, TN, Kerala; announces relief package

 
Modi reviews relief efforts in cyclone Ockhi-hit areas
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reviewed the situation in the areas of Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu and Kerala which were struck by the recent cyclone Ockhi and announced a package of relief measures, including immediate financial assistance worth Rs. 325 crore from the Centre to meet the requirements of the two States and Union Territory.
 
The financial assistance announced by the Prime Minister today is over and above the assistance of Rs. 280 crore to Tamil Nadu, and Rs. 76 crore to Kerala, disbursed earlier this month, after Ockhi hit the region in late November-early December.
 
An ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 2 lakh to the next-of-kin of the deceased, and Rs. 50,000 to each of those seriously injured due to the cyclone have been sanctioned under the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), it said.
 
Mr. Modi said the Government of India will support the reconstruction of approximately 1400 houses fully damaged due to Cyclone Ockhi, on priority, under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Under this programme, each beneficiary will get upto Rs. 1.5 lakh as support for building a new house.
 
Insurance companies have also been advised to pay the insurance claims of people affected by Ockhi cyclone expeditiously, he said.
 
During a day-long visit to the cyclone-affected areas, Mr. Modi met and interacted with people, including fishermen and farmers, affected by it.
 
In the course of the day, the Prime Minister interacted with people in Kavaratti in Lakshadweep and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. He also visited Punthura village near Thiruvananthapuram, which is one of the villages that faced the impact of the cyclone. People explained to him the hardships faced by them on account of the cyclone. 
 
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He assured the people that all help will be provided  to them and that the Union Government stood shoulder to shoulder with them in their hour of crisis.
 
Mr. Modi held separate detailed review meetings on the current situation and relief measures, at Kavaratti, Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram. The Governors, Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, and Administrator of Lakshadweep along with senior officials were present at the respective meetings.
 
Earlier, during the review meetings, the Prime Minister was briefed on the impact of Ockhi, the third major cyclone of this kind, to hit this area in the last 125 years. The cyclone hit on November 30, 2017, and  the search and rescue operations, began the same day. So far, a total of 197 ship days involving 20 surface platforms and about 186 flying hours have been utilised by the Indian Coast Guard for search and rescue operations. In addition, a total of 156 ship days and 399 flying hours, involving 10 ships and 7 types of aircraft have been utilised by the Indian Navy. A total of 183 fishermen and civil administration personnel were carried on board these ships to aid in the rescue operations. A total of 845 fishermen have been rescued or assisted till date.
 
The Prime Minister was informed that the surveillance was carried out even beyond 700 nautical miles from the shore, the release added.
 
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Modi to visit cyclone Ockhi-affected areas of Lakshadweep, Kerala, TN on Tuesday

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Prime Minister  Narendra Modi will visit Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala tomorrow to review the situation in the aftermath of cyclone Ockhi, which struck the region in late November and the first week of December. 
 
Mr. Modi will visit Kavaratti in Lakshadweep, Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and meet with officials, public representatives, cyclone victims, including fishermen and farmer delegations, an official press release said.
 
The release said the Prime Minister had constantly monitored the situation arising out of the cyclone and spoken to all relevant authorities and officials.
 
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman undertook a visit to the cyclone affected areas of both Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram on December 3-4. 
 
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) chaired by Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar met on December 4 and reviewed the relief and rescue operations in the areas affected by the cyclone.
 
Government agencies both from the Centre and the affected States, including Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were involved in relief and rescue operations. Relief camps were set up in the affected areas. The Union Government has released the second instalment of State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) to the Governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the current financial year of 2017-18 to supplement their efforts in dealing with the natural calamity. 
 
During the financial year 2017-18, the central share of SDRF to State Government of Kerala and Tamil Nadu is Rs. 153 crore and Rs. 561 crore, respectively, the release said.
 
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BHEL bags Rs. 7,300 crore contract for 1,320 MW Supercritical Power Project in Tamil Nadu

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had, against stiff international competition bidding (ICB), won an order for setting up a 1,320 MW Supercritical Thermal Power Project (TPP) in Tamil Nadu.
 
Valued at over Rs. 7,300 crore, the order for setting up the 2x660 MW Udangudi TPP has been placed on BHEL by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO), a press release from the company.
 
The release said this was the fourth order for supercritical sets finalised in the last three years by TANGEDCO, and all the four orders have been won by BHEL. The previous three orders -- 2x660 MW Ennore SEZ, 1x800 MW North Chennai Supercritical TPP Stage-III and 2x800 MW Uppur TPP -- were also secured by BHEL on ICB basis, it said.
 
Located at Udangudi in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, the greenfield project will be executed by BHEL on Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) basis. BHEL's scope of work in the current contract involves design, engineering, manufacture, supply, erection, commissioning and civil works for the entire plant including sea water intake and outfall systems, it said.
 
The key equipment for the project will be manufactured at BHEL’s Trichy, Haridwar, Bhopal, Ranipet, Hyderabad, Jhansi, Thirumayam and Bengaluru plants while the company's Power Sector - Southern Region shall be responsible for civil works, erection and commissioning of the equipment.
 
The implementation of the new projects will help foster growth in Tamil Nadu and provide easy access to electricity to the people of the state. At present, BHEL has a share of 83% in the state’s coal-based generating capacity, the release added.
 
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Rahul Gandhi meets Ockhi-hit fishermen in Kerala, Tamil Nadu

 
Rahul Gandhi meets cyclone Ockhi victims in Kerala, TN
Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi today visited fishing villages in Kerala and Tamil Nadu which were hit by cyclone Ockhi earlier this month and declared that the time had come to set up a separate Ministry of Fisheries at the Centre to look after their interests.
 
He declared that the Congress, when voted back to power at the Centre, would set up a Ministry of Fisheries that would the difficulties and problems faced by fishermen could be dealt with quickly and immediately.
 
Mr. Gandhi offered his condolences to the families which had lost their loved ones in the tragedy and spent time with several of them as they talked about their pain and sorrow. "What you have lost cannot be measured in terms of value. So, my words are not going to replace what you have lost," he said.
 
He said he would have liked to come here earlier but he had commitments in poll-bound Gujarat which could not be cancelled. "Even though I was not here in my physical presence, my mind and spirit were here with you," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said it was very important that the Government and the people learnt from the disaster and set up systems to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies.
 
"We also expect the Government to offer compensation to everybody who has lost in this tragedy. It is the duty of the Congress, as the Opposition, to put pressure on the Government to ensure everyone who has lost gets adequate compensation. I am confident they will play this role," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said that, in many ways, farmers and fishermen across the country faced similar situations. 
 
"It is very difficult for them to make a living. It seems everything is aligned against them. At the national elvel, faremrs have a Ministry that protects them and looks after their interests. I think it is time that fishermen also have their Ministry at the Centre so that their difficulties can be dealt with quickly and immediately. The Congress is committed to providing a Ministry for fishermen when elected to power at the Centre," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi, who flew in here form Delhi, visited some of the worst-affected villages such as Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Thaikkad and Palayam in Kerala and Chinnathurai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
 
Senior State Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, accompanied Mr. Gandhi on the visit to the Kerala villages.
 
"Very good visit by Rahul Gandhi to two coastal villages in Thiruvananthapuram. People were touched by his directness & evident empathy during deeply moving conversations with bereaved families," Dr. Tharoor said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
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Technical Cooperation Non-Cash Grant for Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar and Kochi for urban transport

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Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Bhubaneswar in  Odisha and Kochi in Kerala will receive Technical Cooperation Non-Cash Grant for Urban Transport Activities.
 
An Implementation Agreement on Sustainable Urban Transport project between Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the German development agency GIZ was signed here yesterday in the presence of Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri and German Ambassador Dr Martin Ney.
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. Mukund Kumar Sinha, OSD & ex officio Joint Secretary, Housing & Urban Affairs and GIZ Country Director Wolfgang Hanning.
 
Under the agreement, an amount of euro four million (approximately Rs. 29 crore) will be given to the three cities for urban transport activities through GIZ over a period of three years. The main objective is to improve planning and implementation of sustainable urban transport, an official press release said.
 
The Annual Negotiations and Consultations between India and Germany in 2015, had listed Technical Cooperation by Germany for Urban Mobility in India as one of measures to be taken. It was later formalised with a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
 
The project will give the desired impetus in three major interventions proposed under Smart City Mission of the Ministry -- ITS based transport solutions, Non-motorised vehicles and Last mile connectivity, the release added.
 
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Ten dead, five injured as van rams into truck near Tiruchirappalli

 
Ten dead after van collides with truck in Tamil Nadu
Ten people died and five others suffered injuries when a passenger van carrying them crashed into a truck from behind between Tiruchirappali and Madurai on National Highway 45 in Tamil Nadu late last night.
 
The mishap occurred around 11 pm yesterday at Thuvarankurichi in Tiruchirappalli district when the van was on its way from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu to Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, district superintendent of police P S C Kalyan told NetIndian over the telephone.
 
He said the deceased included five men, three women, a boy and a girl. The injured, including the driver of the van, were rushed to the government General Hospital in Tiruchirappalli. The victims were all related to each other.
 
According to various accounts, the driver of the speeding van -- a Tempo Traveller -- apparently lost control over the vehicle, probably after dozing off at the wheel, and could not stop it in time when the truck, carrying a borewell rig, turned right at a roundabout on the highway.
 
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Cyclone Ockhi weakens, heads towards south Gujarat, north Maharashtra

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

Heavy rains, strong winds and high tides hit the Lakshadweep Islands where a red alert has been issued as cyclone Ockhi struck the archipelago on Saturday even as the death toll in south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu in the past three days rose to 12, official sources said.

A helicopter from the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy carrying out a rescue effort over the Arabian Sea off the Kerala coast in the wake of cyclone Ockhi, on December 1, 2017.
A helicopter from the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy carrying out a rescue effort over the Arabian Sea off the Kerala coast in the wake of cyclone Ockhi, on December 1, 2017.
Heavy rains, strong winds and high tides hit the Lakshadweep Islands where a red alert has been issued as cyclone Ockhi struck the archipelago today even as the death toll in south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu in the past three days rose to 12, official sources said.
 
About 102 fishermen who had gone out to sea from south Kerala were said to be missing, with their relatives telling the authorities that they had not heard from them in the past two days. The sources said this information was being cross-checked with various agencies so that a more accurate figure could be worked out.
 
In the meantime, several fishermen from some of the villages had set out to sea to look for and rescue their relatives and friends, local people told journalists.
 
More than 220 fishermen stranded at sea off Kerala were rescued by ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard yesterday. 
 
Of the 12 rain-related deaths, seven had occurred in Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu.
 
Several of the fishermen rescued yesterday were admitted to various hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram for treatment, the sources said.
 
Lakshadweep Member of Parliament P P Mohammed Faizal told NetIndian that Minicoy and Kalpeni islands were lashed last night by heavy rains and strong winds, which caused substantial damage to public and private property.
 
He said many of the other islands, including Kavaratti and Agati were also hit by the cyclone, but the situation was improving today.
 
There was no loss of life reported, thanks  to the precautionary measures taken by the local administration, which had moved people from the low-lying areas on the coast to safer places like school buildings, he added.
 
In a Red message issued at 0830 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the very severe cyclonic storm over the Lakshadweep area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea had moved further west-northwestwards with a speed of 11 kmph during the previous six hours and lay centred at 0530 hours today near latitude 9.6º N and longitude 71.5º E, about 230 km west-northwest of Minicoy and 215 km south of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and then recurve northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," it said.
 
According to the bulletin, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (>20 cm). There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was also very likely at many places over Kerala, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Gale winds with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours.
 
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The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours. 
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, it said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands and the  Kerala and Karnataka coasts were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. 
 
Two Indian Naval Ships -- Sharda and Shardul -- have left for Lakshadweep and Minicoy with rescue equipment and relief material. Other naval assets from Mumbai and Karwar were kept on standby for deployment towards the islands to augment search and rescue efforts, Indian Navy sources said.
 
INS Sagardhwani and Jamuna would continue their search and rescue operations off Vizhinjam in Kerala, while INS Nireekshak will remain off Kollam in the state, they said.
 
The Navy's advanced light helicopters had sanitised an area up to 25 nautical miles off Vizhinjam and there was less likelihood of stranded vessels in the area, the sources said.
 
"Rescue efforts will continue to look for survivors in general area off the Kerala coast," the sources added.
 
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8 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Cyclone Ockhi wreaked substantial damage as it hurtled towards Lakshadweep Islands past the coasts of south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala and caused the deaths of eight people -- four each in the two states --- as the authorities mounted a massive search operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
A "Red" message issued at 0830 hours today by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the cyclonic storm over southeast Arabian Sea continued to move westnorthwestwards with a speed of 17 kmph during past six hours, intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and lay centred at 0530 hours IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.8º N and longitude 74.0º E, about 110 km north-northeast of Minicoy and 290 km southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (>20 cm). Isolated heavy to very heavy falls were likely during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely over many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 110-120 kmph gusting to 130 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and high during the subsequent 24 hours, the bulletin said.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said the cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees, major damage to thatched houses/huts, major damage to kutcha houses, some damage to pucca roads, flooding of escape routes and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops in Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, it said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off Kerala and Karnataka coast during the next 48 hours.
 
Meanwhile, many parts of south Kerala continued to receive heavy rains for the second day today.
 
Power supply was disrupted in some areas after electricity poles were uprooted and some roads were blocked by trees which had been uprooted.
 
There was concern in some coastal villages of Kollam and adjacent areas because several fishermen who had set out for the sea had not returned so far.
 
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Indian Navy officials said a Boeing P8I aircraft deployed at first light from INS Rajali this morning had sighted seven survivors hanging on to a capsized boat about 25 miles west of Thiruvananthapuram. The aircraft had dropped a life raft in the vicinity and reported the exact position to ships in the area, which were being diverted to render assistance.
 
The Navy had said yesterday that, based on a request received from the District Collector of Thiruvananthapuram for assistance in the search and rescue of six fishing boats with fisherman and one marine engineering vessel reported to be missing at sea near Vizhinjam, the Southern naval Command had deployed Indian Naval Ships Shardul, Nireekshak, Kabra and Kalpeni and two aircraft based at Kochi.
 
The ships and aircraft would carry out search and rescue (SAR) operations in the area and would continue to remain at sea for any assistance required by the civil administration.
 
The Southern Naval Command is also gearing up for any Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) that may be required due to the effects of the storm, an official press release said.
 
According to official sources, apart from the Boeing P8I aircraft, an Indian Coast Guard Dornier and Chetak, advanced light helicopters and seven Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships were also in the area and scanning the Kerala coast.
 
The sources said a fisherman was rescued from sea off Vizhinjam in Kerala by an Indian  Coast Guard ship.
 
Schools in the coastal districts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu were closed. Rail traffic to and from Thiruvananthapuram was affected due to the heavy rains.
 
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has despatched its teams to south Kerala as well as Kanyakumari and Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu, the sources added.
 
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