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Tamil Nadu

Death toll in Tamil Nadu due to cyclone Gaja rises to 33

The death toll due to cyclone Gaja, which hit Tamil Nadu's coastal districts on Friday, has increased to 33, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said on Saturday.

 
Coast Guard conducts aerial survey of Cyclone Gaja affected areas
The death toll due to cyclone Gaja, which hit Tamil Nadu's coastal districts on Friday, has increased to 33, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said on Saturday.
 
Speaking to reporters at Salem, about 350 kilometres from here, Palaniswami said that 20 men, 11 women, and 2 children died due to the cyclone that crossed the Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam districts between 12.30 a.m. and 2.30 a.m. on Friday.
 
The cyclone left a trail of destruction in Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Cuddalore, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts, damaging houses, huts and crops.
 
Palaniswami said about 70 livestock and several goats, poultry and deer have also died due to the cyclone.
 
Some 127,000 trees were uprooted by the strong cyclonic winds that touched a maximum speed of about 120 kmph, the Chief Minister added.
 
He said supplies of water, milk and food were being distributed to the people affected by the calamity.
 
About 177,500 people are staying in 351 relief camps in the cyclone-affected areas.
 
The Chief Minister said about 30,000 electricity poles were broken, and 105 power sub-stations affected. About 10,000 personnel have been sent to the cyclone-affected coastal districts to repair the installations.
 
Meanwhile, actor Rajinikanth appreciated the members of his Rajini Makkal Mandram for their work in providing relief to the cyclone-affected people.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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Cyclone Gaja claims 13 lives, leaves trail of destruction in TN

Severe cyclonic storm Gaja battered the Tamil Nadu coast on Friday, leaving at least 13 people and several livestock dead and a trail of destruction in several districts.

 
Cyclone Gaja wreaks havoc in TN’s Nagapattinam
Severe cyclonic storm Gaja battered the Tamil Nadu coast on Friday, leaving at least 13 people and several livestock dead and a trail of destruction in several districts.
 
Authorities said the cyclone crossed the coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam districts between 12.30 a.m. and 2.30 a.m. with wind speeds of about 110-120 kmph.
 
So powerful were the gales that the roof-sheets of the Nagapattinam railway station were damaged. Thatched and tiled roofs of several houses were also damaged in the strong cyclonic winds.
 
A ship was grounded in Karaikal Port in Puducherry.
 
Traffic on the highways was affected owing to fallen trees while communication links in Vedaranyam were also affected.
 
Traffic out of hill station Kodaikanal was affected due to fallen trees.
 
In some places like Pudukottai walls of houses collapsed due to rains.
 
Apart from fallen 12,000 electricity poles in seven districts, 102 power sub-stations in districts like Nagapattinam, Thanjavur and Thiruvarur were affected.
 
According to the state power utility, about 500 km of power supply lines were affected by Gaja. Officials said it would take at least two days to restore power supply in full in districts like Nagapattinam and Thiruvarur.
 
Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said in Salem, some 350 km from the state capital, that 13 persons had lost their lives in the cyclone.
 
He said a sum of Rs 10 lakh would be paid to each family of the dead. For those severely injured, a sum of Rs 100,000 would be paid and those who suffered minor injuries would get Rs 25,000.
 
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About 82,000 people living in low-lying areas have been sent to 471 relief centres, the Chief Minister said, adding the preventive measures helped keep the death toll low.
 
Relief centres were set up in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Thiruvarur on Thursday itself.
 
According to officials, 28 livestocks were killed in cyclone.
 
Owing to strong winds, an Indigo Airlines Chennai-Trichy flight was not able to land in Trichy and was sent back.
 
R. B. Udhyakumar, Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management, said all the trees felled by the cyclone were being removed.
 
Piles of felled trees blocked traffic in parts of Nagapattinam and Vedaranyum.
 
Several universities in Tamil Nadu have postponed their examinations slated for Friday. Schools remained closed on Friday in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Thiruvarur and several other districts in Tamil Nadu and in Puducherry, including Karaikal.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast scattered heavy to very heavy rain over Tiruchirapalli, Namakkal, Dindigul, Madurai, Theni, Karur, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Nilgiris and Virudhunagar districts of Tamil Nadu.
 
According to Chief Minister Palaniswami, the Fisheries Department will estimate the damage to the fishing boats before paying compensation to the fishermen.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Minister Palaniswami and enquired about the cyclone damage.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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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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Cabinet approves allotment of 30 acres to Pasteur Institute of India at Coonoor

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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal for allotment of land measuring 30 acres to Pasteur Institute of India (PII) for the establishment of a new Viral Vaccine Manufacturing Unit at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.
 
The project entails production of viral vaccines like TCA anti-Measles Vaccine and JE Vaccine and Anti Sera like Anti Snake Venom and Anti Rabies Sera. Land for the project will be transferred free of cost, an official press release said.
 
Land use for the project will also be got changed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from ‘Industrial’ to ‘Institutional’, it said.
 
"The allotment of land will encourage the production of life-saving vaccines for children, to strengthen the vaccine security of the country, and would reduce the cost, besides providing import substitution as presently these are being imported," the release added.
 
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Modi to visit Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on Sunday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu and Hubbali in Karnataka tomorrow when he will  unveil several development projects in these States.
 
Modi's first step will be in Guntur, where he will unveil various projects at Yetukar Bypass, an official press release said.
 
He will dedicate to the nation the 1.33 MMT Visakhapatnam Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) facility of Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Limited (ISPRL). He will also inaugurate ONGC’s Vashishta and S1 development project located in the  Krishna-Godavari (KG) Offshore Basin in Andhra Pradesh.
 
He will lay the foundation stone for a new terminal of Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) at Krishnapatnam.
 
The projects will give major push to the gas-based industrial units in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states, an official press release said.
 
In Tiruppur, Modi will, among other projects, lay the foundation stone of the 100-bed ESIC Hospital. He will lay the foundation stone for a new integrated building at Tiruchirapalli airport and for the modernization of Chennai airport.
 
He will also dedicate to the nation the 470-bed ESIC Hospital Chennai and BPCL's Ennore Coastal Terminal.
 
Modi will also inaugurate a crude oil pipeline from Chennai Port to Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited’s (CPCL) Manali Refinery. 
 
Passenger service for the 10 km section of Chennai Metro from AG-DMS station to Washermenpet, which is a part of Phase 1 of the project.
 
At Gabbur in Hubbali, on the last leg of his visit, Modi will lay the foundation stone of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Dharwad and Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Dharwad.
 
He will also dedicate to the nation the City Gas Distribution Project at Dharwad and the 1.5 MMT Mangalore Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) facility and 2.5 MMT Padur SPR facility of ISPRL.
 
Doubling of 18 km long railway line on the Chikjajur-Mayakonda section is another highlight. This section is a part of 190 km long Hubbali – Chikjajur Doubling project and is located on Bengaluru – Hubballi route of South Western Railway. Doubling will increase line capacity of this important route connecting Bengaluru to Hubballi, Belagavi, Goa, Pune and Mumbai, resulting in faster movement of trains, the release said.
 
Modi will also launch electrification work of the 346-km-long Hospet-Hubbali-Vasco da Gama line and witness the "E-Griha Pravesh" of 2,384 houses constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) at Dharwad, the release added.
 
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K. S. Alagiri appointed as new president of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee

K S Alagiri
K S Alagiri
Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has recast the Tamil Nadu Pradesh Congress Committee and appointed former MP and MLA K. S. Alagiri as its new president in place of Su. Thirunavukkarasar.
 
He has also appointed four Working Presidents: H. Vasantha Kumar, K. Jayakumar, M. K. Vishnu Prasad and Mayura Jayakumar.
 
"The party appreciates the contribution of outgoing TNCC President Shri Thirunavukkarasar," a press release issued by All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary K. C. Venugopal said.
 
Alagiri, 66, had served two terms as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from 1991 to 2001 before being elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009 from Cuddalore.
 
He was considered a loyalist of late Congress leader G. K. Moopanar and had joined the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) launched by him in 1996. But when Moopanar's son G. K. Vasan relaunched the party, he switched loyalties to former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.
 
Vasantha Kumar is the younger brother of former TNCC president Kumari Anandan and a sitting MLA.
 
K. Jayakumar, a Dalit leader, is a former MLA who was elected from Namakkal in 2001 and 2006.
 
Vishnu Prasad, a former MLA, is the son of former TNCC president M. Krishnaswamy. Mayura Jayakumar is from Coimbatore.
 
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TN seeks withdrawal of permission given to Karnataka for Mekedatu project DPR

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswamy has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately direct the Ministry of Water Resources to instruct the Central Water Commission to withdraw the permission given to the Government of Karnataka for preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for Mekedatu project and also outrightly reject and return the DPR for this project.
 
In a memorandum presented to Mr. Modi during his visit to Tamil Nadu yesterday, Mr. Palaniswamy also requested him to direct the Government of Karnataka not to take up any construction activities in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka without the prior consent of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
 
The Chief Minister recalled that the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal dated 5.2.2007 was published in the Gazette of India on 19.2.2013. The Supreme Court on 16.2.2018 delivered the judgment on the Civil Appeals filed by the Party States upholding the decisions of the Tribunal with slight modifications.
 
The memorandum said that, as per the orders of the Supreme Court dated May 18, 2018, the Government of India had notified the Cauvery Management Scheme, 2018 in the Gazette of India on 1.6.2018 to give effect to the decision of the Tribunal as modified by the Supreme Court.
 
It said the Supreme Court, in its judgement, had affirmed that the “upper riparian State shall not take any action so as to affect the scheduled deliveries of water to the lower riparian States.”
 
"However, the Government of Karnataka, much to the consternation of the people of Tamil Nadu has planned to construct a reservoir, with a capacity of 67.16 TMC ft. at Mekedatu across Cauvery River and approached the Central Water Commission for preparation of a Detailed Project Report for the Mekedatu project. I am constrained to point out that the Central Water Commission has given permission to the Government of Karnataka to go ahead with the preparation of a Detailed Project Report in blatant violation of the judgment of the Hon?ble Supreme Court.
 
"I have already detailed these facts in my letter dated 27.11.2018 to you and requested you to instruct the Central Water Commission to forthwith withdraw the permission given by it to Karnataka.
 
"The action of Karnataka in proposing a reservoir and that of Central Water Commission in giving permission for preparation of a Detailed Project Report have caused deep anguish and apprehension in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu will be denied its due share of water, which has been given to us by the Supreme Court after a protracted legal battle.
 
"Therefore, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly has resolved on 6.12.2018 condemning and opposing the action of the Government of Karnataka, and the Central Water Commission for having given permission to Karnataka on 22.11.2018 to prepare a Detailed Project Report for construction of a reservoir at Mekedatu. Further, the Legislative Assembly has urged that the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India should immediately order the Central Water Commission to withdraw the permission given to Karnataka for preparing the Detailed Project Report," he said.
 
"In addition, the Legislative Assembly has also requested the Government of India to direct the Government of Karnataka  or its Agencies not to take up any construction work at Mekedatu or at any other place in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka State, without the consent of the State of Tamil Nadu, in violation of the Final Order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and the judgment of the Supreme Court. The resolution of the Legislative Assembly was sent to you by me on 6.12.2018 for immediate action.
 
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"The Government of Karnataka on 21.1.2019 has informed the Supreme Court that it has sent the Detailed Project Report for the Mekedatu Project to the Central Water Commission for according further clearances.
 
"This unilateral action of Karnataka is highly objectionable and is a gross violation of the Final Order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and the judgement of the Supreme Court.  I have written to you on 25.1.2019 requesting to reject and return the Detailed Project Report of Karnataka for the Mekedatu Project," the memorandum added.
 
Mr. Palaniswami also urged the Centre to withdraw the permission granted to Kerala for conducting study for construction of a new Mullai Periyar Dam.
 
He recalled that the Supreme Court in its decree dated 7.5.2014 in O.S.No.3 of 2006 had held that the Mullai Periyar Dam is structurally, hydrologically and seismically safe. The Court has also held that, for the construction of a new dam, there has to to be agreement of both the States.
 
"The Government of Kerala in violation of the decreed order of the Supreme Court, unilaterally approached the Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects for baseline data collection for preparation of EIA/EMP Report and the Committee gave its recommendations to the Government of Kerala for the grant of Terms of Reference for conducting a study.
 
"I brought the above fact to your notice on 24.10.2018 and sought your intervention and requested you to direct the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to forthwith withdraw the recommendations to grant ToR for Environmental Impact Assessment Study for the construction of New Dam by Kerala at Mullai Periyar. I further requested you to advise the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and its Agencies to desist from entertaining and considering any proposal of the Government of Kerala on New Mullai Periyar Dam in future and also to negate the proposals which are in violation of the orders of the Supreme Court.
 
"However, the Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in November, 2018 has accorded Terms of Reference for pre-construction activities for preparation of EIA/EMP Report to Kerala in violation of the decree of the Supreme Court dated 7.5.2014.
 
"I request you to instruct the concerned authorities to forthwith withdraw the Terms of Reference granted to the Government of Kerala for undertaking preconstruction activities for preparation of EIA/EMP Report for construction of a New Mullai Periyar Dam," he said.
 
The memorandum also urged Mr. Modi to instruct the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to advise Kerala not to deny the required clearances and direct it to accord the clearances to enable the Government of Tamil Nadu to carry out various works and to restore the water level in the dam to FRL 152 ft.
 
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Govt. to launch centres on Solar Energy & Water Treatment at IIT Madras in Chennai

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Union Minister for Science & Technology Harsh Vardhan will launch three centres set up by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras here tomorrow.
 
These include the DST –IITM Solar Energy Harnessing Centre which will focus on a wide range of research and technology development activities such as silicon solar cells that promise high efficiency and are suited for Indian conditions. 
 
The network of researchers engaged in the centre comprise scientists from IIT Madras, IIT Guwahati, Anna University, ICT-Mumbai, BHEL and KGDS, which will be further expanded. 
 
The objective is to create a platform that can be extended readily to strengthen the knowledge eco-system, an official press release said.
 
"The centre is likely to be true change agent in the energy landscape of India. The consortium will be duly poised to address the sustainability requirements in the spirit of ‘Make in India’," it said.
 
The second is the DST-IITM Water –IC for SUTRAM of EASY WATER (DST- IITM Water Innovation Centre for Sustainable Treatment, Reuse and Management for Efficient, Affordable and Synergistic Solutions) which has been established with an aim to undertake synchronized research and training programs on various issues related to wastewater management, water treatment, sensor development, storm water management and distribution and collection systems. 
 
This multi-institutional Virtual Centre will be looking into a sustainable approach for water resources protection and augmentation through wastewater treatment and reuse and storm water management. 
 
"The Centre will provide a unique opportunity for the various groups in different premier organizations working in the area of wastewater management, water treatment, sensor development and storm water management to collaborate and work in synergized manner to ensure adequate, safe, reliable and sustainable sources of drinking water for rural and urban India and process water for highly polluting and water intensive industries, through research, technology development and capacity building," the release said.
 
The third centre would be the test bed on Solar thermal desalination solutions which is being established by IIT Madras and Empereal KGDS as solution provider in Naripaaiyur, Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu with the aim to deliver customized technological solutions to address prevalent water challenges in the arid coastal village located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. 
 
The development would provide customized technological water solution to provide potable water to coastal areas using solar energy, the release added.
 
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EC rescinds Thiruvarur bye-election

 
The Election Commission (EC) has rescinded its January 3 notification announcing the bye-election in Tamil Nadu's Thiruvarur Assembly constituency.
 
In a communication to the Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu, the EC on Sunday said the notification calling upon Thiruvarur to elect a member of the legislative assembly shall stand rescinded forthwith.
 
The EC had earlier announced that the bye-election would be held on January 28.
 
The seat fell vacant following the death of DMK President M.Karunanidhi last August.
 
According to the poll body, all actions taken by the Returning Officer and others of Thiruvarur Assembly constituency have been declared as null and void.
 
All the major political parties in the state had demanded postponement of the bye-election as it would impact the Gaja cyclone relief work in the constituency.
 
Welcoming the EC's action, BJP's Tamil Nadu President Tamilisai Soundararajan in a statement said the need of the hour in Thiruvarur is relief and not election.
 
Taking a dig at the DMK, AMMK and others who had announced their candidates for the by-election, Soundararajan said the parties that did not show alacrity in carrying out the relief work showed alacrity in announcing their candidates.
 
Soundararajan criticised the CPI for filing a petition with the EC against holding of the by-election in the Supreme Court while extending its support to the DMK candidate at the local level.
 
IANS
 

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Bye-elections on January 28 to fill vacancy each in Haryana, TN legislative assemblies

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The Election Commission today said it would conduct bye-elections on January 28 to fill vacancies from Jind the Haryana Legislative Assembly and Thiruvarur in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
 
An official press release said the notification for the bye-elections would be issued on January3 and the last date for filing nominations will be January  10.
 
Nominations will be scrutinised on January 11 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures will be January 14. Counting of votes will be taken up on January 31, the release said.
 
 The Model Code of Conduct shall come into force with immediate effect in the district(s) in which the whole or any part of the Assembly Constituency going for bye-election is included.
 
The Model Code of Conduct shall be applicable to all candidates, political parties and the State Government concerned. The Model Code of Conduct shall also be applicable to the Union Government for the district of the State concerned, the release added.
 
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TN man arrested for raping British national in Goa

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A 30-year-old man from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu has been arrested for allegedly raping a middle-aged British woman and robbing her belongings early on Thursday near the beach village of Palolem, police said.
 
Superintendent of Police (South Goa) Arvind Gawas said that CCTV footage near the scene of the offence and at the local railway station helped police track down the accused at the Margao railway station, located 35 km from Canacona village.
 
"The accused has been identified as Ramachandran, 30, and is from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. We arrested him as he was trying to flee from the Margao police station," Gawas said.
 
The accused allegedly raped the British national around 4.30 a.m. when she was returning from the Canacona railway station to her guest house near Palolem beach after missing a train. Police have booked the accused for rape as well as robbery.
 
Police said that the accused first tried to rob her and chased her into nearby fields and then raped her, before fleeing with her bags which contained Rs 20,000 in cash. The victim is a regular visitor to Goa for the last 10 years.
 
Goa is a popular tourism destination attracting more than seven million tourists every year, half a million being foreign nationals. 
 
Over the last decade, crimes against foreigners, especially women, has been a cause for concern in Goa, especially after the sexual assault and subsequent death of a British teenager Scarlett Keeling in 2018.
 
IANS
 

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SpiceJet announces six new daily flights from Chennai

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced the launch of six new direct flights connecting Chennai with key pilgrim centres like Varanasi and Shirdi besides tourist spots like Port Blair and Bagdogra. 
 
All the flights are scheduled to commence from January 10, 2019  except the one on Chennai-Bagdogra route which will start operations from February 11, 2019, a press release from the airline said last week.
 
The daily direct flights introduced by the airline will operate on the Chennai-Varanasi, Chennai-Shirdi and Chennai-Bagdogra routes.
 
To cater to the surge in seasonal demand, the airline has also introduced an additional frequency on the Chennai-Port Blair (2nd frequency) route which will be operational from January 10 to February 10, 2019.
 
The airline will deploy its Boeing 737 – 800 aircraft on all these routes, the release said.
 
Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales & Revenue Officer, SpiceJet, said, “We are happy to announce our new flights from Chennai to key religious and tourists destinations like Varanasi, Shirdi, Bagdogra and Port Blair. With these new flights we aim to enhance customer convenience and thereby give a boost to both leisure and business travel prospects from Chennai.”
 
With the new flights, passengers from Varanasi, Shirdi, Bagdogra and Port Blair can now easily travel to a host of other cities both on SpiceJet’s domestic as well as international network via multiple onward connections from Chennai.
 
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Stalin proposes Rahul as PM candidate to defeat 'fascist' Modi

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Putting an end to lingering speculation, DMK President M. K. Stalin on Sunday proposed the name of Congress President Rahul Gandhi for the post of Prime Minister and said he had the strength to defeat the "fascist" Narendra Modi.
 
He made the announcement at a public rally here in the presence of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Chief Ministers N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala) and V. Narayanasamy (Puducherry) and leaders of several other parties.
 
"I propose, we will install a new Prime Minister in Delhi. I propose the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Tamil Nadu," Stalin said.
 
He said Rahul Gandhi had the capability to defeat the "fascist" Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "We will strengthen Rahul Gandhi's hands."
 
The public meeting was held after Sonia Gandhi unveiled former Chief Minister and DMK President M. Karunanidhi's bronze statute installed at the DMK headquarters Anna Arivalayam in Chennai.
 
Stalin said it was Karunanidhi who first welcomed late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to provide a stable government and then urged Sonia Gandhi to lead the nation in 2004 and added that he was following his leader's steps in proposing Rahul Gandhi to lead the nation.
 
"Twenty-one political parties have come together against Modi and more parties will join," Stalin said.
 
Coming down heavily on Modi, the DMK leader said: "Modi is a sadist Prime Minister. He is implementing all the schemes opposed by Tamil Nadu."
 
Stalin said when the Gaja cyclone killed about 65 persons and left a trail of destruction in Tamil Nadu, Modi remained silent.
 
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On the other hand, Modi tweeted if there was a forest fire in the US and a terror attack somewhere else, he said.
 
According to Stalin, under the Modi government, India's economy, social justice, federal structure and various institutions have been destroyed.
 
"India has gone back by 15 years during the first five years of Modi rule. The country will go back by 50 years if he gets another term," Stalin said.
 
Modi considered himself as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Income Tax Department (IT) and even the Supreme Court.
 
Addressing the rally, Rahul Gandhi showered praise on Karunanidhi and said: "Karunanidhi was not an ordinary politician. He was the voice of Tamil people. Whether it was people's pain or their joy, Karunanidhi treated both as his own.
 
"While Karunandihi defended the voice of people and the institutions, the central government attacks the voice of Tamil Nadu and the institutions," he said.
 
Gandhi said the Modi government believed that only one idea should run India.
 
"We are not going to allow the destruction of the idea of India. We are not going to allow the destruction of institutions like the Supreme Court, Election Commission, Reserve Bank of India and others. And we are going to do this together."
 
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu accused the central government of misusing various institutions said the next danger the country faced was the tampering of electronic voting machines (EVM).
 
Naidu said the BJP government had belied the people's faith when they voted for it in 2014.
 
Sonia Gandhi described Karunanidhi as a social reformer and said he relentlessly fought for federalism.
 
She said Karunanidhi brought in laws that enabled non-Brahmins to become temple priests in the state and reserved jobs for women.
 
"A secularist and rationalist, Karunanidhi respected other religions," she said.
 
She said the Congress would always remember Karunanidhi's support to Indira Gandhi in the abolition of privy purse and nationalisation of banks.
 
"He was a great support and strength for the UPA government in 2004-14."
 
Sonia Gandhi said the mutual support between the DMK and Congress that existed when Karunanidhi was alive would continue "to protect the India that we have known".
 
The Chief Ministers of Kerala and Puducherry praised Karunanidhi on the occasion.
 
IANS
 

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Sonia Gandhi unveils Karunanidhi's statue at DMK party office

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The Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and former President of the Congress party Sonia Gandhi on Sunday unveiled the bronze statue of late DMK President M. Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu.
 
Sonia Gandhi was received by DMK President M. K. Stalin at the party headquarters.
 
She unveiled former Chief Minister Karunanidhi's statute installed at the DMK headquarters Anna Arivalayam here in the presence of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, leaders of DMK and several other parties, movie actors and industrialists.
 
Actor-turned-politician Rajnikanth also participated in the function.
 
Later in the evening Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Stalin, Chief Ministers Naidu, Vijayan, Narayanasamy and others will be addressing a public rally here.
 
IANS
 

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ADB to provide $ 31 million loan to develop tourism in Tamil Nadu

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The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a loan agreement here on Tuesday to develop the tourism industry inthe state and boost tourist arrivals.
 
The signatories to the tranche 4 loan for Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism (IDIPT) were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed for the Government of India, and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director for ADB in India, who signed for ADB.
 
After signing the agreement, Mr Khare said that the project is expected to improve the tourism infrastructure in Tamil Nadu and also help the state in preserving the natural and cultural heritage. The activities under the project would also boost economic opportunities for the local people, he added.
 
Mr. Yokoyama said that the increased tourism traffic generated by the  project will generate extra jobs in Tamil Nadu, especially through skills training and community-based activities targeting the poor and women.
 
Approved in September 2010, the $250 million IDIPT aims to build opportunities for local communities and boost local economy by enhancing tourism in three other states -- Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand -- besides Tamil Nadu. This will be achieved through developing and preserving sites of natural and cultural heritage, and building connectivity, capacity, and infrastructure around State tourist sites.
 
The Government of India’s recent Three-Year Action Agenda (2017–2018 to 2019–2020) envisages the hospitality, travel, and tourism sector as a major driver of growth and employment. The Agenda recognizes India’s significant potential to increase the number of arrivals, global presence by leveraging its cultural industries, and capacity to create large-scale jobs among the poorest segments of the population. It identifies key areas for action, including infrastructure, marketing, and skill development, all of which are aligned with the MFF Road Map, an official press release said.
 
The release said the project will support the conservation and restoration of eight heritage monuments, one museum, three temples, and a pond. It will build various facilities at the sites, including information centres, rest centres, and toilet blocks, with facilities served by solar-powered lighting and energy efficient lighting. The total cost of the project is $44.04 million, of which the Government will provide $13.04 million. 
 
The estimated completion date is June 2020, the release added.
 
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Nissan India announces start of production of new Kicks

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Automobiles manufacturers Nissan India has announced the start of production of its new Kicks sports utility vehicle (SUV) with the rolling out of the first vehicle from its Chennai plant.
 
"With this, the company is gearing up for the launch of India’s most awaited and Intelligent SUV in January 2019," a press release from Nissan India said.
 
Thomas Kuehl, President, Nissan India Operations said, “We are excited to announce the start-of-production of New Nissan Kicks at our plant in Chennai. We had recently showcased the New Nissan Kicks which has created a lot of buzz and excitement amongst SUV enthusiasts across the country. Designed to appeal to the new-age urban adventure seeker, the Kicks is a testimony to our commitment to the Indian consumers and also reflects the SUV heritage of Nissan.”
 
The release said the new Kicks is "powered by progressive SUV design and advanced technology for the new age urban adventure seeker". 
 
"The newest offering from the Nissan fleet in India has a unique wider and robust style underlined by a Dynamic Sonic Plus line, Wheel-oriented stance and a distinctive 3-dimensional presence. The body of the New Nissan Kicks is built with a Graphene (Gravity-philic Energy Absorption) body structure, enabling it to absorb impact energy, making it safer for agile movement on Indian roads," the release added.
 
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Rajinikanth's '2.0' set for major China release

A still from the movie
A still from the movie "2.0". (Photo: IANS)
Superstar Rajinikanth's "2.0", which has set the cost registers ringing all over, is gearing up for a major China release across 56,000 screens, according to its makers.
 
In a statement, Lyca Productions confirmed the news of the Shankar-directed sci-fi movie's release in association with HY Media in China with at least 47,000 of the total screens playing it in 3D format.
 
"2.0" will release in China in May 2019 and it will be the widest 3D release for any foreign language film in history, the statement said.
 
A sequel to Shankar's 2010 blockbuster "Enthiran", "2.0" has been produced by Lyca Productions and was released in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi on November 29.
 
The film, which features Rajinikanth in three different 'avatars', also stars Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Adil Hussain and Sudhanshu Pandey.
 
Akshay Kumar, making his southern debut, plays the antagonist. The film has been made on a budget of Rs 600 crore.
 
Rajinikanth plays a scientist and a robot. He also appears as a microbot, dubbed 3.0, which was one of the major surprise elements.
 
Earlier this week, Lyca Productions revealed that the film grossed a whopping Rs 400 crore in its opening weekend worldwide.
 
Shankar has also confirmed he is ready to commence shooting for Kamal Haasan's "Indian 2", which marks his reunion with the latter after two decades.
 
"We recently did a make-up test with Kamal sir and I was really excited to see him in the get-up of Senapathy. We are all set to begin shoot very soon," Shankar told the media.
 
Shooting of "Indian 2" may start from December 14. Kajal Aggarwal has been roped in to play the leading lady. Anirudh Ravichander will compose the music. Lyca Productions will also be bankrolling "Indian 2".
 
IANS
 

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