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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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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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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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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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Bye-elections in R. K. Nagar, Tamil Nadu and four seats in Arunachal, UP, West Bengal to be held on December 21

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The Election Commission today announced that it would hold bye-elections on December 21 to fill up five vacancies in the State Legislative Assemblies of Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
 
The vacant seats include Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where a bye-election was necessitated by the death on December 5, 2016 of then Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
 
The other seats for which bye-elections will be held are 12 – Pakke-Kasang (ST) and 28 – Likabali (ST) (Arunachal Pradesh); 207-Sikandra (Uttar Pradesh); and 226-Sabang (West Bengal).
 
The notification for the elections will be issued on November 27 and the last date for filing nominations is December 4. Scrutiny of nominations will be held on December 5 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is December 7.
 
Counting of votes will be taken up on December 24 and all the results are expected by that evening.
 
The electoral rolls of the five constituencies, revised with reference to 01.01.2017 as the qualifying date, will be used for the bye-elections.
 
The Commission has decided to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails in the bye-elections in all the polling stations, an official press release added.
 
The bye-election to fill the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar seat was originally slated for April 12 this year, but the Commission had, on April 10, rescinded it because the electoral process had been "seriously vitiated" by unlawful activities of candidates and political parties, including bribing of voters.
 
At that time, the Commission had said that the bye-election would be held in due course when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors got removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency became conducive to the holding of free and fair election.
 
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ECI allots AIADMK election symbol "Two Leaves" to Panneerselvam-Palaniswami faction

The Election Commission of India (ECI) today allotted the "Two Leaves" election symbol of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu to the faction led by senior leaders O. Panneerselvam and E. K. Palaniswami.
 
Mr. Palaniswami is the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and Mr. Panneerselvam the Deputy Chief Minister.
 
In a verdict that brings the curtains down on a year-long dispute between warring factions in the party, the Commission said it was "of the considered opinion that the petitioners group led by Mr. E. Madhusudhanan, Mr. O. Panneerselvam and Mr. S. Semmaldi, and also supported presently by the impleading applicant Mr. E. K. Palaniswami, the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, enjoys support of majority of members, both in the organizational and legislature wings of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam."
 
"Accordingly, the said group led by Mr. E. Madhusudhanan and others is hereby recognized, in terms of para 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which is a recognized State Party in the State of Tamil Nadu and in the Union Territory of Puducherry, for whom the symbol 'Two Leaves' is reserved in the said State and Union Territory.
 
"Consequently, the said group led by Mr. E. Madhusudhanan will be entitled to use the name of the party' All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam' and its reserved symbol 'Two Leaves'. Further, the interim order dated 22nd March, 2017, passed by the Election Commission, in the present proceedings, is hereby withdrawn and rescinded and that order shall no longer be operative for any purposes under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968," the order said.
 
The Commission had, on March 22, frozen the AIADMK's "Two Leaves" symbol after hearing claims to it from two rival factions.
 
The factions, one led by Ms. V. K. Sasikala, the general secretary of the party who is currently undergoing a jail term in a corruption case, and the other by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, had laid claim to the popular symbol.
 
The dispute between the two factions arose after the death of AIADMK supremo and then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016 after 75 days of hospitalisation. She was succeeded by Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister in the early hours of December 6, 2016, He resigned from the position on February 5 after Ms. Sasikala was elected as the new leader of the AIADMK legislature party. 
 
On February 7, Mr. Panneerselvam raised the banner of revolt by saying that he was forced to resign and support Ms. Sasikala and that he was willing to continue as Chief Minister if the party and the people so desired.
 
Ms. Sasikala, meanwhile, staked claim to form the new government, but then Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao did not respond immediately to it. The pending judgement of the Supreme Court in the corruption case was seen as one of the factors he took into account while deciding to wait.
 
As the two factions jostled for power, Ms. Sasikala expelled Mr. Panneerselvam, known popularly as OPS, and his supporters from the primary membership of the party for alleged anti-party activities. The OPS camp said she had no right to expel anybody, especially because her own election was "interim" general secretary was not valid.
 
In the days that followed, Tamil Nadu witnessed a political crisis as both factions kept urging the Governor for a chance to prove their majority in the Legislative Assembly and making allegations against each other.
 
In its verdict on February 14, the Supreme Court upheld the appeal by the Karnataka government against the May 11, 2015 acquittal of Ms. Jayalalithaa, Ms. Sasikala and the two others and restored the September 2014 verdict of a trial court in Bengaluru convicting the four accused in the case. The special leave petition against Ms. Jayalalithaa's acquittal, however, abated because of her death.
 
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The court ordered Ms. Sasikala, 60, and the other two accused to surrender forthwith before the trial court in Bangalore, which she did the next day to serve out the remainder of her four-year sentence.
 
The Sasikala faction elected Mr. Palaniswamy as the leader of the legislature party and he was sworn in as the new Chief Minister on February 16.
 
Before setting out for Bangalore on February 15, Ms. Sasikala appointed her nephew and former Member of Parliament T T V Dhinakaran as the deputy general secretary of the AIADMK -- a newly created post -- shortly after readmitting him and another nephew to the party, six years after they were expelled by Ms. Jayalalithaa.
 
In their petition to the Election Commission, the petitioners had, apart from staking claim to the party's election symbol, also argued that Ms. Sasikala's election as the general secretary of the AIADMK was invalid.
 
The Sasikala faction contended that there was no split in the party and that it was only a matter of internal dissent. However, the Commission said it was satisfied, based on the documents filed and the oral submissions made by the counsels, that there were two rival groups in the party led by Mr. Madhusudhanan and Ms. Sasikala and that each group claims to be the party. "Therefore, the matter needs deterimination in terms of para 15 of the Symbols Order," it said.
 
The Commission, however, made it clear at the outset of the hearing itself that it would not go into the question of the appointment of Ms. Sasikala as the general secretary of the party and that the hearing would be confined only to the question of allotment of the reserved symbol of the party to its candidate in the bye-election from Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency to fill the vacancy caused by Ms. Jayalalithaa's death.
 
Mr. Dinakaran was the Sasikala faction's candidate for the bye-election. The OPS faction had nominated Mr. Madhusudhanan for the seat, while Ms. Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar was also in the fray.
 
As it turned out, the ECI, on April 10, rescinded the bye-election to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency, slated for April 12, because the electoral process had been "seriously vitiated" by unlawful activities of candidates and political parties, including bribing of voters. The bye-election is yet to be held.
 
On August 21, more than six months after their bitter split, the two rival factions merged after reaching an understanding as part of which Mr. Palaniswamy continued as Chief Minister and Mr. Panneerselvam became the Deputy Chief Minister.
 
On September 12, the General Council of the unified AIADMK nullified the appointment of Ms. Sasikala as General Secretary and her nephew Dinakaran as Deputy General Secretary of the party.
 
The Panneerselvam camp had insisted on the removal of Ms. Sasikala and members of her family from the party as a key condition before agreeing to the merger with the Palaniswamy group.
 
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Tamil filmmaker B. Ashok Kumar allegedly commits suicide

 
Tamil filmmaker B. Ashok Kumar commits suicide

Tamil film producer and director B. Ashok Kumar allegedly committed suicide at his residence in Alwarthirunagar here on Tuesday.

According to officials at Valasaravakkam Police Station, Ashok was found hanging in his apartment in a multi-storeyed building.

In his suicide note, he blamed a Madurai-based film financier for harassing him and charging exorbitant interest, they said.

Ashok Kumar, a cousin of popular Tamil cinema director M. Sasikumar, has co-produced his films, including 'Eesan', 'Poraali' and the yet-to-be-released ‘Kodiveeran.’

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Coast Guard denies firing on TN fishermen in Palk Bay

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The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) today denied that its personnel had opened fire at Tamil Nadu fishermen or used any force against them in Palk Bay yesterday.
 
The denial came after the marine police of the Coastal Security Group registered a first information report (FIR) against ICG personnel following a complaint from a fisherman from Rameswaram that he was fired at while he and some others were fishing in the area.
 
Two fishermen alleged that ICG personnel had opened fire at them while they were fishing in the high seas. The complaint by one of them said that when he and five other fishermen were fishing in Indian waters, about four nautical miles from the shore, personnel of the ICG asked them to stop. They said they could not do so because they had laid the net and ICG personnel then opened fire at them.
 
In a statement, the Coast Guard its vessel was on patrol in Palk Bay and was routinely investigating a fishing boat, Jehovah Jireh, yesterday afternoon which was engaged in pair trawling, which is not permitted in the waters of Tamil Nadu.
 
"On sighting the approaching Coast Guard ship, the fishing boat ‘Jehovah Jireh’ fled away from the scene leaving its nets behind in the water and did not stop despite repeated caution by the Coast Guard ship. During the chase, the boat had also rammed into the Coast Guard ship. After a chase of 50 minutes, the boat was finally stopped and investigated and also cautioned by the Coast Guard ship to stop for checks whenever called upon by the Coast Guard.
 
"The stopping of the fishing boat ‘Jehovah Jireh’ and subsequent investigations were carried out in a peaceful manner as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the Indian Coast Guard. There was no use of force or any firing by the Indian Coast Guard.
 
"The attributability of injury and/or bruises, if any, on the fishermen of the fishing boat ‘Jehovah Jireh’ by the Coast Guard are wholly denied as the investigations were undertaken in a peaceful manner as per the SOP," the statement added.
 
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New Instrument Landing System commissioned at Chennai Airport

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Airports Authority of India (AAI) has installed a state-of-the-art Instrument Landing System (ILS) for runway 7 at Chennai International airport at a cost of Rs. 5 crore, an official press release said today.
 
ILS provides the necessary guidance to pilots as they approach for landing on the runway. The new ILS will facilitate smooth landing of the aircrafts at Chennai Airport even during rain, low clouds or smog and provide an improved guidance to the aircraft.
 
The new system uses a highly directional antenna system - “Wide Aperture Log Periodic Antenna Array [LPDA]” system. This antenna system has addressed the coverage restrictions of the old ILS and will provide guidance to the aircraft to a much lower height and improved precision. This, in turn, will enhance the safety of the aircraft during landing.
 
The state-of-the-art equipment is manufactured by Indra Navia AS, Norway. The complete installation, alignment, testing, flight inspection and commissioning of the new Instrument Landing System has been done in-house by AAI’s CNS Technical Experts, the release added.
 
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Modi says media must use editorial freedom wisely, in public interest

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday the media must use its editorial freedom wisely, in public interest, and pointed out that, equally, the freedom to write, and to decide what is to be written, did not include the freedom to be "less than accurate" or "factually incorrect".

 
Modi says media a means of transforming society
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the media must use its editorial freedom wisely, in public interest, and pointed out that, equally, the freedom to write, and to decide what is to be written, did not include the freedom to be "less than accurate" or "factually incorrect".
 
"Even though media may be owned by private individuals, it serves a public purpose. As scholars say, it is an instrument to produce reform through peace, rather than by force. Hence, it has as much social accountability as the elected government or the judiciary. And its conduct must be equally, above board," he said in his address at the platinum jubilee celebrations of Dina Thanthi, a leading Tamil newspaper, here.
 
"Technology has brought about great change in the media. There was a time, when the headlines of the day, written on a village blackboard, carried immense credibility. Today, our media spans the entire range, from that village blackboard, to online bulletin boards. 
 
"Just as education now focuses a lot more on learning outcomes, our attitude towards consumption of content has changed. Today, every citizen analyses, discusses, and attempts to cross-check and verify the news that comes to him, through multiple sources. Media, therefore, must make an extra effort, to maintain credibility. Healthy competition among credible media platforms is also good for the health of our democracy," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said he firmly believed that reform in the media, whenever required, could only come from within, through introspection. "Indeed, we have seen this process of introspection happen on some occasions, such as the analysis of the reportage of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. Perhaps, it should happen more often," he said.
 
He said that a lot of the media discourse today revolved around politics. "It is only fair that politics be discussed at length, in a democracy. However, India is more than just us politicians. It is the 125 crore Indians, which make India what it is. I would be happy to see media focus a lot more, on their stories, and their achievements. 
 
"In this endeavour, every citizen with a mobile phone is your ally. Citizen reporting can be an important tool in the sharing and dissemination of success stories of individuals. It can also be of immense help in directing relief and rescue efforts in times of crisis, or natural disasters. 
 
"Let me also add, that during times of natural disasters, media usually does its best to cover various aspects of the incident. Natural calamities seem to be occurring with increasing frequency and intensity across the world. Climate change is a challenge for each one of us. Can media take a lead in the battle against it? Can media devote just a little space, or a fixed time daily, to report, discuss, or increase awareness about what we can do to combat climate change? 
 
"I take this opportunity, to appreciate the media's response to the Swachh Bharat Mission. As we strive to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, I am touched by the constructive role that media has played, both in generating awareness and mass consciousness towards cleanliness. They have also pointed out the work that remains to be done, before we can claim to have achieved our goal," he said.
 
"There is another key area, where media can play an important role. This is the initiative of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat. Let me explain this with one example. 
 
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"Can a newspaper, devote just a few column inches of space, each day for one year, to this cause? Every day, they can write one simple sentence in their language of publication, along with its translation, and trans-literation, in all major Indian languages. 
 
"At the end of the year, the readers of the newspaper will have been exposed to 365 such simple sentences, in all major Indian languages. Imagine the positive impact this simple step can create. Further, schools can be encouraged to discuss this in their classrooms daily for a few minutes, so that children too, are exposed to the strength and richness of our diversity. Hence, this step will not only serve a noble cause, but will also increase the strength of the publication itself," he said.
 
Mr. Modi began by expressing his condolences and sympathies to the families of all those who had lost their loved ones or faced immense hardship in the recent heavy rains and floods in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu. "I have assured the State Government of all possible support," he said.
 
He also commended the Dina Thanthi on completing 75 years and recalled the contributions of S.P. Adithanar, S.T. Adithanar, and  Balasubramanian in this journey so far.
 
"24 hour news channels are now available to millions of Indians. Yet, for many, the day still begins with a cup of tea or coffee in one hand, and a newspaper in the other. I am told that the Dina Thanthi offers this option today, through seventeen editions, not only in Tamil Nadu but also in Bengaluru, Mumbai and even in Dubai. This remarkable expansion over seventy five years, is a tribute to the visionary leadership of Thiru S.P. Adithanar, who began this newspaper in 1942. Newsprint was a rare commodity in those days. But he began the newspaper by printing on paper made by hand, from straw," he said.
 
"We must never forget that successive generations performed the duties required of them, towards society, and the nation. That is how we achieved freedom. After independence, the rights of citizens gained importance in public discourse. Unfortunately, over time we seem to have neglected our individual and collective sense of duty. This has in some way contributed to several ills that plague our society today. The need of the hour is to create a mass awakening towards 'engaged, responsible, and aware citizens.' The civic sense of 'entitlement' must be suitably balanced by a civic sense of 'responsible engagement'.  This should happen, of course, through our education system, and the conduct of our political leaders. But the media too, has a key role to play here," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that, in this diverse nation, the role of vernacular newspapers - newspapers published in regional languages - remains as important today, as it was then. 
 
"They carry content in a language that is easily understood by people. Very often, they cater to vulnerable and socially disadvantaged groups. Their strength, their impact, and thus, their responsibility, can never be under-estimated. They are the messengers of the intent and policies of the Government, in far-flung areas. Equally, they are the torch-bearers of the thoughts, feelings and emotions of our people. 
 
"In this context, it is indeed heartening to note that today, among our vibrant print media, some of the largest selling newspapers, are published in the regional languages. The Dina Thanthi, is of course, one among them," he said.
 
"Seventy five years may be a considerable amount of time in a human life-span. But for a nation, or an institution, it marks just a significant milestone. About three months ago, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement. In a way, the journey of the Dina Thanthi, has mirrored the rise of India as a young, vibrant nation. 
 
"Speaking in Parliament on that day, I gave a call for creating a New India by 2022. An India that is free from the evils of corruption, casteism, communalism, poverty, illiteracy, and disease. The next five years must be about Sankalp se Siddhi - accomplishment through resolve. Only then can we create the India of the dreams of our freedom fighters. As a newspaper that was born when the nation embraced the Quit India Movement, may I suggest that the Dina Thanthi has a special responsibility in this regard. I hope that you will use this opportunity, to reflect upon what you can do for your readers, or for the people of India, over the next five years. 
 
"Even beyond the immediate target of five years, perhaps on the occasion of its platinum jubilee, the Thanthi must think of what the next seventy five years will be like. What is the best way to continue to remain relevant, and serve the people and the nation in the age of instant news at the fingertips. And in doing so, continue to maintain the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and objectivity," he added.
 
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Heavy rains continue to lash TN, more showers likely in next 48 hours

 
Rains continue in Chennai, surrounding areas in Tamil Nadu
Heavy rains continued to lash many parts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai and surrounding areas, affecting normal life, even as a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal lay centred as a trough off the coast that could lead to more showers over the region during the next 48 hours.
 
Sources in  the Meteorological Department said yesterday’s low pressure area over southwest Bay of Bengal now lay as a trough of low at mean sea level over southwest Bay of Bengal and adjoining West-central Bay of Bengal off Tamil Nadu–South Andhra Pradesh coast.
 
In addition, an upper air cyclonic circulation lay over the Gulf of Mannar and neighbourhood and extended upto 1.5 km above mean sea level.
 
Under the influence of these systems, heavy  rains were likely at isolated places over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry tomorrow, it said. Thunderstorm accompanied with lighning at isolated places was very likely over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Rayalaseema and Kerala, it said.
 
Heavy rain was very likely at isolated places over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Kerala on Monday, it said.
 
The forecast for Chennai, which has been lashed by heavy and intermittent rains, said the sky condition was likely to be generally cloudy. There would be intermittent spells of rain or thundershowers with heavy spells at times. 
 
Schools and colleges in Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, which bore the brunt of the north-east monsoon's fury in the past one week, had a holiday for the fifth day today.
 
Normal life continued to be affected in  several areas, especially Nagapattinam district, where samba crop in several thousands of acres were submerged in rain water.
 
Chennai received heavy rains last night and this morning and people in suburban areas of the city continued to suffer, with knee deep water all around.
 
After Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami inspected the rain-hit areas in the city last evening, several Ministers went around the city and supervised relief efforts. They interacted with the people in affected areas and promised to solve their grievances.
 
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State government and civic officials and personnel of the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Agency were working overtime to prevent casualties and move people from water-logged areas to safer places.
 
The state disaster management agency has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to help in the rescue efforts. "We are using helicams to get a bird's eye view of the damage," an official explained.
 
In Manimangalam, two pregnant women were rescued by the Kancheepuram flood relief team headed by Ms Amudha. After they expressed their wish to shift to a safe place, after being confined to their homes for the last one week, officials reached the spot and rescued the two women, official sources said.
 
They were taken to a hospital for a check-up before they went to their relative's house.
 
Area Cyclone Warning Centre Director S Balachandran told reporters that Chennai city has received 93 per cent excess rainfall in the last one week.
 
"When Tamil Nadu is taken into account, an average of 19 cm has been recorded against the normal 21 cm. So far rains are deficient by eight per cent," he added
 
''But when Chennai is considered, 63 cm has been recorded so far as against the normal rainfall of 31 cm. The city has received around 93 per cent excess rains this time,'' he said. 
 
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Floods in polluted rivers can pollute groundwater too: Study

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A new study has pointed out that flooding in polluted rivers has the potential to make groundwater unsafe for human use.
 
In December of 2015, when Chennai was flooded and people were marooned, a team of scientists from Anna University was collecting groundwater samples along the Adyar river to investigate if the groundwater in this region was fit for human consumption.
 
Researchers collected water samples from 17 locations in December 2015 and April 2016, that is, during and after floods. They tested the samples for salt and heavy metal concentration, microbial load and their susceptibility to available antibiotics.
 
“We wanted to know if the city water met water quality parameters laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards during and post-flood,” Lakshmanan Elango, professor at the Department of Geology of Anna University, who led this study, told India Science Wire.
 
The results showed that heavy metal and microbial load in groundwater samples was high. The samples contained microbes such as Enterobacter, Staphylococcus, Escherichia, Streptococcus, Vibrio, and Salmonella that are known to cause infections like dysentery, cholera, and typhoid in humans. These microbes were cultured with various antibiotics used in clinical practice to treat life-threatening infections, to know they were susceptible or resistant to drugs.
 
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“The bacteria were sensitive to most antibiotics but some were resistant to nalidixic acid, which is alarming as antibiotic resistance can rapidly spread in the environment," said Prof Elango. The results of the study have been published in journal Nature Scientific Data.
 
In addition, scientists found high genetic similarity between bacteria from various locations implying that they must have originated from a single domestic sewage source containing fecal matter. “Sewage must have washed off with flood water, which in turn inundates the wells that would have resulted in contaminating the ground water,”believes Prof Elango.
 
“Our findings show that floods have the potential to impact the microbial quality of ground water in affected areas. Based on our study, we advise that wells must be chlorinated and the public must be warned to avoid consuming ground water for drinking, at least for some months post floods,” he added.
 
The research team included Ganesan Gowrishankar, Ramachandran Chelliah, Sudha Rani Ramakrishnan, Vetrimurugan Elumalai, Saravanan Dhanamadhavan, Kartikeyan Brindha, Usha Antony, and Lakshmanan Elango. It was done in collaboration with the University of Zululand in South Africa and the National University of Singapore, and was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). 
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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L&T launches lead offshore patrol vessel for Indian Coast Guard

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Infrastructure and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today launched the lead offshore patrol vessel (OPV) of a series of seven OPVs for the Indian Coast Guard at the L&T Shipbuilding Yard at Kattupalli here today.
 
Entirely designed in-house, from concept, this is the first OPV class vessel for the Indian Coast Guard that has been built by a private sector yard in a record time frame, a press release from the company said.
 
The OPV was launched by Mrs. Jyoti Murthy and was named Vikram in the presence of Additional Director General of Coast Guard, VSR Murthy. Mr. J.D. Patil, Whole Time Director (Defence Business) and Member of Larsen & Toubro Board, Vice Admiral B. Kannan (Retd), MD & CEO L&T Shipbuilding, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
 
L&T was entrusted by the Ministry of Defence in March 2015 to design and build seven OPVs for an order value of Rs. 1432 crore. The order stipulated delivery of the first OPV within 36 months from signing of the contract, by Mar-2018 and subsequent vessels at intervals of six months. However, with the construction of multiple OPVs progressing on or ahead of schedule, all are planned to be delivered ahead of the contracted delivery dates, the release said.
 
The OPVs are long range surface ships, capable of operation in the maritime zones of India, including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities. Their roles include coastal and offshore patrolling, policing maritime zones of India, control & surveillance, anti-smuggling & anti-piracy with limited wartime roles.
 
The vessel is 97m long, 15m wide, has 3.6m draught, 2140 T displacement with a range of 5000 NM, and is built to 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 Indian Coast Guard’s resident team at Kattupalli shipyard.
 
Having been built with modern methods and the build strategy of construction on land and launch through ship lift, on launch the OPV would be put through a series of Harbour and Sea Acceptance Trials before delivery to the Indian Coast Guard. Once commissioned, it would significantly enhance the coastal patrolling capabilities of the Indian Coast Guard, the release said.
 
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Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, CEO & Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro, said: “This launch is a reaffirmation of our credentials in the ship-building space as this is our third major mandate from the Indian Coast Guard under relationship that began with a contract for 36 Interceptor Boats followed by a repeat contract for 18 more Interceptor Boats. It is also heartening to note that our team has overcome all challenges to remain ahead of contractual schedules for all the mandates. A total of 34 of those Interceptors Boats has already been delivered well ahead of contractual delivery schedule, and the remaining boats have been constructed and ready for delivery. The timely launch of the first OPV following that of the Floating Dock (FDN-2) for Indian Navy in June 2017, reaffirms our ability to execute and deliver multiple complex projects on time."
 
L&T was mandated by the Indian Navy to design and build Floating Dock (FDN-2) for the Indian Navy. The dock has undergone post launch trials at Kattupalli Shipyard and will be delivered shortly at Port Blair, suiting the Navy's requirements.
 
In addition to new-build defence ships, L&T is also undertaking Medium Refit (MR) and repairs of Naval and Coast Guard ships. Currently, INS Darshak, a Naval Survey Vessel, is undergoing refit at Kattupalli shipyard. L&T has delivered six refit Defence ships (including the largest logistics tanker ship INS Jyoti) from Kattupalli shipyard so far.
 
The shipyard was designed and built for concurrent construction of a variety of defence ships as well as to undertake refits, the release added.
 
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Eminent Malayalam filmmaker I. V. Sasi passes away

I. V. Sasi
I. V. Sasi
Eminent filmmaker I. V. Sasi, who had helmed more than 150 movies, mainly in Malayalam, passed away here today, sources close to his family said.
 
He was 69. He is survived by his wife, well-known actress Seema, and their two children, daughter Anu and son Ani.
 
According to the sources, Mr. Sasi died while he was being taken to a hospital after complaining of uneasiness.
 
The sources said that he was planning to leave later today on a visit to Australia, where his daughter lives, when the end came suddenly.
 
Mr. Sasi was one of the dominant figures in Malayalam cinema during the 1970s, '80s and '90s. He also made several films in Tamil and some in Hindi, too.
 
He was credited with introducing several new aspects to filmmaking during his illustrious career and played an important role in establishing actors such as Mammootty and Mohanlal as superstars. 
 
Born as Irruppam Veedu Sasidaran on March 28, 1948, Sasi moved to Chennai and began his career in films as an art director with Kaliyalla Kalyanam in 1968.
 
He worked as an assistant director in some films before directing his first film, Ulsavam, in 1975. He went on to make more than 170 films, many of which turned out to big hits. "Avalude Raavukal" helped him establish himself in the industry. He met his future wife Seema during the making of that film, and the two worked together on about 30 movies.
 
He introduced Mammootty as a hero in his film Thrishna and gave Mohanlal a major break in Ineyengillum. His collaborations with M. T. Vasudevan Nair, Padmarajan and T. Damodaran produced some memorable movies.
 
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He worked with Mammootty in more than 35 films and gave Mohanlal one of his biggest hits, Devaasuram.
 
He directed superstar Kamal Haasan in films like Guru, Kasishma and Eeta. He introduced megastar Rajanikanth to Malayalm films through through Allauddinum Albhutha Vilakkum in 1979. Other films with Rajinikanth include the Telugu-Tamil bilingual film Kaali and Ellam Un Kairasi. 
 
His Hindi movies included Patita (Mithun Chakraborty), Anokha Rishta (Rajesh Khanna and Smita Patil), Pratishodh (1980) and Karishma.
 
He won the Nargis Dutt Award for the best feature film on National Integration in 1982 for Aaroodam.
 
At the Kerala State Film Awards, he won awards for Best Art Director in Anubhavam (1976), Second Best Film for Aalkoottathil Thaniye (1984), Best Popular Film for 1921 (1988) and Best Director Mrigaya.
 
He won the Filmfare Awards (South) for Best Director for Itha Ivide Vare (1977) and for Eetta (1978. In 2015, Filmfare honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He also won the prestigious J. C. Daniel Award for the year 2015.
 
His daughter has acted in Symphony directed by him. His son is also into filmmaking.
 
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Eight killed as roof of TNSTC building collapses in Nagapattinam district

 
8 die as bus depot roof collapses near Nagapattinam
Eight employees of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) died when the roof of a portion of a building at the Porayar bus depot, about 20 km from Nagapattinam, collapsed in the early hours of today, official sources said.
 
Three others suffered grievous injuries in  the incident and have been admitted to a hospital in Nagapattinam, about 300 km from here, they said.
 
The victims were bus crew who were resting in the building before operating early morning services, the sources said. Most of them were asleep when the roof collapsed around 3.30 am, they said.
 
Fire and Rescue Service personnel rushed to the spot and extricated the victims from the debris, they added.
 
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