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Tuticorin

Woman held for shouting slogans against Centre in aircraft

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A young woman who shouted slogans against the "fascist" Modi government in an aircraft in the presence of Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan was on Monday arrested when the plane landed here.
 
Sophia (25), who is said to be pursuing research in Canada, was returning home and was seated behind Soundararajan's third row seat. Suddenly she got up and shouted slogans against the BJP and the "fascist" government at the Centre, creating a flutter in the aircraft.
 
On landing here, the BJP leader got into a verbal duel with the student and lodged a complaint with the police who arrested her.
 
Soundararajan later told the media that the girl student rose in a "menacing" manner against her and felt there was a threat to her life in the manner in which she protested. 
 
"She is not an ordinary person," the BJP leader said, adding she suspected her "background" and that there must be some "organisation" behind her protest which should be probed. 
 
Leaders of various political parties including the CPI-M, CPI and PMK criticized the police "high handedness" and demanded the woman's immediate release. 
 
They also said Soundararajan should have handled the issue in a mature manner without resorting to gimmicks. The incident only showed that young people in the country were angry with the Central government, they said. 
 
IANS
 

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

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Madras HC orders TN to explain Thoothukudi firing

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The Madras High Court's Madurai Bench on Friday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to state the reasons, by June 6, for the May 22 police firing in Thoothukudi which left 13 persons dead.
 
The court's order came as it heard a petition demanding registration of murder cases against senior police and other government officials for the firing and also setting up a Special Investigative Team (SIT).
 
On May 22, police fired at people protesting against the Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi killing 13 and injuring over 60 persons.
 
The government was asked to submit its report by June 6.
 
Earlier Chief Minister K. Palaniswami told the media that people in Thoothukudi had been protesting peacefully for long against the company, alleging that it was causing health hazards and depleting the water table, but this time, the opposition and "anti-social elements" had turned the movement violent.
 
"It is because of this instigation that so many people have died. And we are really saddened by the deaths," he said.
 
According to an FIR lodged by Thoothukudi police, a Deputy Tehsildar has claimed that he had ordered police firing on May 22 against the anti-Sterlite Copper protestors.
 
The FIR filed by the police on May 22 says that Sekar, Deputy Tehsildar in Thoothukudi, admitted that it was he who had ordered the police firing at the protesters after all the other steps to preserve law and order failed.
 
As per the FIR, Sekar said he had at first warned the protesters that force would be used and when his request was defied, he ordered a baton charge. When this proved inadequate and the crowd kept surging forward menacingly and attacked the police personnel, he had ordered the firing of tear gas shells after due warning.
 
The official said when tear gas shells failed to disperse the violent mob, which was destroying public property and attacking police personnel near the Collectorate, he had ordered firing as the last resort. Twelve persons were killed in police firing on May 22 and later one more person died in a fresh firing.
 
IANS
 
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'Who are you?', Thoothukudi youth asks Rajinikanth

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Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Wednesday perhaps faced the most embarrassing question of his life from a injured youth in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi, who asked "Who are you?"
 
Several days after the May 22 police firing at the anti-Sterlite Copper smelter plant protest in Thoothukudi left 13 people dead, Rajinikanth called on the injured persons admitted in the government hospital.
 
As he approached one patient's bed, its occupant, a youth named Santhosh Raj slowly sat up and asked him: "Who are you?"
 
Rajinikanth then told the youth his name.
 
The video of this exchange has gone viral on the internet.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Sterlite copper smelter plant to be shut: TN government

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The Tamil Nadu government on Monday issued orders closing the copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi owned by the Vedanta Group, a week after 13 people were killed in police firing during protests against continued functioning of the unit.
 
The Government Order said it has been brought to the notice of the government that Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) did not renew the 'Consent to Operate' to the copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi by its order of April 9 this year and subsequently on May 23, the PCB has also issued directions for closure and disconnection of power supply. 
 
"Under Sections 18(1)(B) of the Water Act, 1974 in the larger public interest, the Government endorse the closure direction of the TNPCB and also direct the TNPCB to seal the unit and close the plant permanently," said the Order.
 
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy said in a separate statement that the 'Consent to Operate' permission for the copper smelter plant ended in March this year and it was not renewed by the TNPCB. The electricity and water connections to the plant have been disconnected from May 24, he said.
 
The Chief Minister said the demand of the people of Thoothukudi to the government for closure of the plant has been accepted by the government and orders have been issued to this effect.
 
The order is also significant because the protesters against the functioning of the copper smelter have been demanding that the government should issue formal orders as they would not be satisfied with verbal promises.
 
Welcoming the order, protesters said they needed a Cabinet decision on this as otherwise the company would approach courts and get a stay. They also wanted the Central government to take a similar stand.
 
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Earlier in the day, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Monday visited Thoothukudi, the first senior political representative to go to the violence-hit town, and announced that the government will take necessary steps to permanently shut down the copper smelter plant.
 
Pannerselvam visited the hospital in Thoothukudi and enquired about the health of those injured in the police firing on anti-Sterlite Copper protesters on May 22, in which 13 persons died.
 
Speaking to reporters, the Deputy Chief Minister said that compensation to the injured was being paid.
 
Normalcy was slowly returning in the town with shops and other establishments opening their doors for customers.
 
Internet connectivity has also resumed since Sunday midnight after it was suspended on May 23.
 
"Shops are open now. Normalcy is returning. But till the copper smelter plant is permanently closed there will not be total peace in the city," S. Raja of Thoothukudi Traders Association told IANS.
 
Raja also said murder charge should be registered against the police officials who shot the protestors.
 
According to Raja, post-mortem examination has been done on seven bodies out of the 13 who were killed in the police firing. However, the relatives have not claimed the bodies yet.
 
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TN CM blames parties, anti-socials for Thoothukudi violence

 
One dead, three injured in fresh violence in Thoothukudi
 
 
Thoothukudi remained tense for the third day as the death toll in police firing climbed to 13 while Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswamy on Thursday accused political parties and anti-social elements of "deliberately instigating and misleading" innocent people leading to violence and loss of lives.
 
Selvasekar (43), who suffered serious injuries in police lathicharge on Tuesday, succumbed to injuries in hospital. More than 70 people, including police personnel who were injured in the clashes and violence, were undergoing treatment in the Government General Hospital.
 
Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed in Thoothukudi after two days of riots, arson and firing and the situation continues to be tense across the district. Shops and commercial establishments were shut for the third consecutive day while government offices witnessed thin attendance.
 
Chief Minister Palaniswamy, who met reporters in Chennai, said his government would continue to take steps legally for closure of the Sterlite copper smelter plant against which the local people have been protesting and said electricity to the plant was cut on Thursday.
 
"Some political parties and anti-social elements have wantonly instigated the innocent people who have been protesting peacefully all along and took them on the wrong path, leading to unfortunate incidents," Palaniswamy said without naming any political party.
 
Replying to a question on who had given permission for the firing, he said there was nothing like permission. 
 
"It was natural that somebody would act in self-defence when attacked and the action was not pre-meditated. The police used tear gas shells, resorted to lathi charge and then only opened fire when mobs set on fire vehicles near the district collectorate and stormed the residential quarters in the plant and the district collectorate," he said.
 
Usualy the police make preventive arrests but this time there was sudden violence compared to the peaceful protest that had been going on. The protesters had met the district administration 16 times in the past and their grievances had been addressed. 
 
"We express deep condolences and a sense of sorrow over the loss of lives," he said.
 
Appealing to the people to maintain peace and calm, he said all efforts were being taken to ensure return of normalcy in Thoothukudi.
 
Asked about the charge by DMK leader M.K. Stalin that he refused to meet him on the issue, the Chief Minister accused him of enacting a drama outside his roon in the Secretariat by doing a dharna when he was not there.
 
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Replying to a question about the criticism that he did not visit Thoothukudi to meet the relatives of the victims and the injured, he said prohibitory orders had been imposed and people should respect law by not holding protests or taking out processions.
 
"Our first priority is return of normalcy," he said, taking an apparent dig at Stalin and other opposition leaders who have made a beeline to Thoothukudi.
 
Referring to the protests and the functioning of the sterlite plant, the Chief Minister said that the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha had ordered closure of the sterlite plant in 2013 but the company appealed against the order in the National Green Tribunal which allowed the company to operate under some conditions.
 
A case in this regard was still on in the Supreme Court and the Tamil Nadu government's lawyers have strongly put forward their arguments.
 
With prohibitory orders continuing in sensitive areas, a bandh like situation prevailed in Thhothukudi town for the third day. Most people struggled to buy essential commodities. Internet services have been suspended folloing the state government advisory to the service providers to prevent provocative messages and rumours being spread on the social media.
 
Sanddep Nanduri, the new Collector of Thhothukudi, told newsmen that his first priority was to restore normalcy.
 
Meanwhile, a day after the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court stayed the expansion of the Sterlite plant and directed the Vedanta Group to cease construction of its second unit in Thoothukudi, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) ordered the closure of the plant with immediate effect and disconnected power supply to it for non-compliance of certain conditions imposed on it.
 
IANS
 
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One more killed at Thoothukudi in TN, death toll is 12

 
Fresh police firing in Tuticorin kills one, toll rises to 12
 
 
One more person was killed in fresh police firing here on Wednesday as the killing of 11 people protesting against the Sterlite Copper Smelting plant a day earlier sparked calls for the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's resignation.
 
Worried over the persistent mass anger, the authorities suspended internet services in the districts of Thoothukudi or Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari as a precaution to stop the spread of rumours and graphic pictures and videos of the violence and clashes between the protesters and police.
 
But the town continued to smoulder for a second day as thousands demonstrated outside the main hospital opposing the autopsy on those killed on Tuesday when police opened fire alleging that mobs had gone on the rampage and were about to vandalize the Collectorate. 
 
The fresh death on Wednesday only added to anger of the demonstrators and the opposition parties.
 
On Tuesday, police firing killed 11 people, most of them from nearby villages who were demanding the closure of the Sterlite Copper smelting plant they said was destroying the farm lands and leading to severe health issues in the region. 
 
On Wednesday, the police fired at crowds in Anna Nagar, killing a young man. The demonstrators insisted that the police action was unprovoked. The police accused the crowds of stoning the police.
 
Police also fired tear gas at a crowd massed outside the Government Hospital in the town where the bodies of those killed on Tuesday were kept.
 
As Chief Minister K. Palaniswami held a series of meetings with top government officials and the police chief on how to contain the situation, the government set up a probe committee headed by former Madras High Court judge Aruna Jagadeesan to probe the mayhem.
 
Meanwhile, the Madras High Court stayed the construction of Vedanta Ltd's Copper Smelter Plant 2 at Tuticorin, some 650 km from Chennai. The Madurai bench of the High Court gave this direction on a PIL against the expansion of the company's plant.
 
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The court ruled that the application for environmental clearance must be taken up only after mandatory public hearing and ordered that a decision on this must be taken by September 23.
 
The Vedanta Ltd, which has decided to double its copper smelting capacity to 800,000 tpa, on Wednesday denied any role in the police action. The plant is popularly known as Sterlite Copper smelter plant.
 
Condemning the police action, DMK leader M.K. Stalin said all opposition parties in Tamil Nadu will hold protests on Friday. The parties include the DMK, MDMK, Congress, MMK, CPI, CPI-M and VCK.
 
"It is shocking that even though protests on the issue have been going on for over three months, the Chief Minister has not shown any inclination towards holding talks with people," Stalin said.
 
Both Stalin and PMK founder S. Ramadoss asked the Chief Minister to resign.
 
The National Alliance of People's Movements, in a statement signed by founder Medha Patkar and many others, blamed the killing on the police and district officials, the Tamil Nadu government as well as the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
 
"Yesterday was a bloody culmination of over two decades of blatant disregard for the lives and well-being of the people and protecting corporate interest," it said. 
 
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan visited Tuticorin on Wednesday and demanded to know who ordered the police firing. 
 
"It is not me but the victims who are asking this. Merely announcing compensation isn't a solution. This industry must be shut and this is what people demand," he said.
 
Rajinikanth, the other superhero entering politics in Tamil Nadu, also condemned the police firing. "I strongly condemn the government's inaction, failure of intelligence and excessive police force. It is inhuman."
 
DMDK founder Vijayakanth urged the Prime Minister to ensure that the Sterlite plant was shut down permanently.
 
"All those responsible for this merciless shooting down of protesters should be held accountable and immediate legal proceedings should be launched against them," the Communist Party of India-Marxist said. 
 
Nearly 100 people were injured in the violence on Tuesday, including 36 policemen. 
 
Normal life in the town was virtually crippled on Wednesday, with shops and commercial establishments not opening for business. Educational institutions remained closed.
 
District Collector N. Venkatesh said the prohibitory orders were extended in Vembar, Kulathur, Arumugamangalam, Vedanatham, Ottapidaram and Eppodum Vendran in the district. 
 
Public transport has been suspended from Thoothukudi to other parts of Tamil Nadu. Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed all over the town in large numbers. 
 
IANS
 
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Uneasy calm in Thoothukudi, toll mounts to 10

 
Anti-Sterlite protest turns violent
 
 
With the death toll in police firing rising to 10, an uneasy calm on Wednesday gripped Tamil Nadu's port town Thoothukudi where widespread violence erupted a day earlier during protests against the Sterlite Copper Smelting plant.
 
Of the nearly 100 people injured, the condition of two was said to be critical in hospital. Families of the deceased staged noisy protests at the Thoothukdi government hospital opposing autopsy of the bodies. 
 
Official reports, including information reaching the Tamil Nadu Police in Chennai, said the 10th person injured in police firing succumbed to his injuries late on Tuesday night.
 
Most of the injured are civilians but 36 policemen also suffered injuries of various kinds in mob fury, official sources said. 
 
Normal life in the town was virtually crippled on Wednesday, with shops and commercial establishments not opening for business. Educational institutions also remained closed.
 
Most people stayed indoors as the district administration announced that prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more people that were imposed on Monday evening would remain in force till May 25. 
 
District Collector N. Venkatesh said the prohibitory orders were extended in Vembar, Kulathur, Arumugamangalam, Vedanatham, Ottapidaram and Eppodum Vendran in Thoothukudi district. 
 
Public transport has been suspended from Thoothukudi to other parts of Tamil Nadu. Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed all over the town in large numbers. 
 
"Yes, the situation is tense but it is under control," a senior police officer said. 
 
Police said they opened fire to quell arson and violence after the dragging agitation demanding a closure of the Sterlite Copper Smelting plant turned violent on Tuesday. 
 
Police said that thousands, under the banner of the Anti-Sterlite Movement, went on the rampage during a rally, torching police and other vehicles. Nine people died in police firing.
 
IANS
 
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Nine dead in police firing in Thoothukudi as Sterlite protests turn violent

Nine people, including a girl, died on Tuesday in police firing after the ongoing anti-Sterlite protests turned violent with thousands of people from nearby areas allegedly attacking the District Collectorate demanding closure of the Vedanta Group-run company.
 
Anti-Sterlite protest turns violent
 
 
Nine people, including a girl, died on Tuesday in police firing after the ongoing anti-Sterlite protests turned violent with thousands of people from nearby areas allegedly attacking the District Collectorate demanding closure of the Vedanta Group-run company.
 
In the first major incident of police firing in Tamil Nadu on protesters and resultant deaths, they first fired teargas shells and carried out baton charges to bring the protesters under control but passions were high. 
 
Police then resorted to firing as thousands of people gathered in defiance of prohibitory orders on the 100th day of their agitation ever since the company announced the expansion plans of the four lakh tonne per annum Sterlite Copper project and attacked the Collectorate.
 
The area around the Collectorate resembled a battle-zone with the protesters setting vehicles afire and attacking policemen with stones. Plumes of black smoke emanated from the protest site. Police retaliated in a bid to bring the situation under control. 
 
Among those who died were identified as Antony Selvaraj, Kandiah, Gladson, Jayaram, Maniraj, Tamilarasan, Shanmugham and Venista. At least 60 people, including policemen and journalists covering the protests, were injured in the clashes. Many of them were admitted to hospitals for treatment as their condition was serious. 
 
Among the injured was a 16-year-old schoolgirl who was waiting for her bus when she was hit by a bullet. 
 
Opposition parties squarely blamed the State government for the deaths with one of them even demanding the resignation of Chief Minister E. Palaniswamy, who appealed to the people for calm. 
 
The Chief Minister, who held a meeting with his ministerial colleagues and top police officials including DGP T.K. Rajendran, said action would be taken against the company. 
 
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In a statement, the state government said it would respect the wishes of the people and necessary action in the matter. It said around 20,000 people took out a rally against the company and became violent by attacking police and burning police vehicles while storming the Collector's office. As police could not control the crowd, they resorted to a few actions, it said.
 
The statement said the government will take all legal steps in the matter and asked the people to maintain peace. Police from neighbouring districts of Madurai and Virudhunagar was rushed to Thoothukudi to bring the situation under control. 
 
According to a police officer on the spot, police swung into action when the protesters torched some vehicles in the area. When tear gas shells and the baton charge failed to disperse the mob, police opened fire to control the situation.
 
The protesters alleged that police had used force without provocation on the peaceful gathering. 
 
People in Toothukudi are demanding the closure of Sterlite copper smelting plant alleging that it was polluting the area, and leading to severe health problems among the residents of the locality, besides depleting the water table.
 
Social activists have also joined the protests against the company. Heavy police deployment could be seen in Toothukudi and surrounding areas of the coastal city. 
 
Condemning the state government for the police firing that claimed many lives, DMK Working President M.K. Stalin said that police was committing atrocities. Other political leaders have also slammed police and the state government.
 
Actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, who recently announced their entry into politics, have also expressed solidarity with the protesters. The TN government must take action over the concerns expressed by the protesters, they said.
 
"The expansion (of Sterlite Copper) should not at all be allowed. If possible, it will be good to close down the (existing) unit," Makkal Neethi Mayyam chief Kamal Haasan said. He said there was no point in putting up a plant near residential and agricultural zone.
 
Rajinikanth, who had some time ago tweeted on the Sterlite protests, said: "One can't understand why the government, which gave the nod for the plant, is not taking any action and is just watching."
 
Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters in Chennai that the loss of lives was unfortunate in a state known for peace. 
 
The Tamil Nadu government also issued a statement in which stated that Sterlite plant was functioning in the state for over 20 years and in 2013 the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered the closure of factory after people complained of irritation in their eyes after emissions from the project. 
 
It said in March this year, the company had applied for renewal of consent to operate (CTO) for its existing smelter plant. The application has been rejected for want of more clarifications after the state pollution control board found that the factory has not fulfilled some of the major factors including non-submission of a detailed ground water analysis, action not taken to dispose waste and not building a compound wall to arrest water mixing in the nearby river.
 
IANS
 
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BHEL bags Rs. 7,300 crore contract for 1,320 MW Supercritical Power Project in Tamil Nadu

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

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

Image: IMD
Image: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of South Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep with the cyclonic storm Ockhi lying centred over southeast Arabian Sea this evening.
 
An "Orange" message issued at 2000 hours by IMD said that the latest observations and radar and satellite imageries indicated that Ockhi, over Arabian Sea off south Kerala coast, had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1730 hrs IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.2º N and longitude 75.8º E, about 130 km west-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 290 km east-southeast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours. It is very likely to move westnorthwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during the next 36 hours and then move northwestwards during the subsequent 24 hours," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, rainfall was very likely at most places over south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours and over south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls over interior Tamil Nadu and Kerala during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, were very likely along and off South Kerala during next 36 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours, it said.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 60-70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph around tomorrow evening, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be high along and off South Kerala coast during the next 36 hours and very rough to high along and off south Tamil Nadu coast during the next 12 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and very high during the subsequent 48 hours.
 
The bulletin said damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees, major damage to "kutcha" houses, minor damage to "pucca" roads and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards could occur in south Kerala  (Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kollam, Pathanathitta and  Thiruvananthapuram districts), adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) and Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands from tonight, the bulletin said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts), and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) during the next 12 hours.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off South Kerala coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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IMD issues cyclone warning for South Kerala, south TN and Lakshadweep

Image: IMD
Image: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of South Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep with the cyclonic storm Ockhi over the Comorin area lying centred off the south Kerala coast and neighbourhood this afternoon.
 
In an "Orange" message issued at 1700 hours, the IMD said the latest observations and satellite imageries indicated that Ockhi had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1430 hours IST over south Kerala coast and neighbourhood near latitude 7.9º N and longitude 76.4º E, about 120 km west-southwest of Kanyakumari, 180 km south-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 360 km east-southeast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards Lakshadweep Islands and intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The bulletin said that, under the influence of the system, rainfall would occur at most plaes over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls over interior Tamil Nadu and Kerala during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
It also said that rainfall was very likely over Lakshadweep area during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls.
 
According to IMD, gale winds, with speed reaching 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, are very likely along and off South Kerala during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 80-90 kmph, gusting to 100 kmph, from tonight.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be high along and off South Kerala coast during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be very rough to high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and high to very high during the subsequent 48 hours, it said.
 
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The bulletin said damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees, major damage to "kutcha" houses, minor damage to "pucca" roads and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards could occur in south Kerala  (Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kollam, Pathanathitta and  Thiruvananthapuram districts), adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) and Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands from tonight, the bulletin said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts), and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) during the next 12 hours.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off South Kerala coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, TANGEDCO sign MoU to upgrade Coal Jetty-I&II

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The V.O. Chidambaranar Port at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu is all set for a four-fold increase in the capacity of two of its Coal Jetties -- Jetty I and II -- from 6.25 MTPA to 24 MTPA following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) for their upgradation here yesterday.
 
Union Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari and Tamil Nadu Minister for Electricity, Prohibition and Excise P. Thangamani were present on the occasion.
 
Mr. Gadkari said the project would benefit both TANGEDCO and the VOCPT. It would make coal handling by the jetties much more voluminous and efficient, and thus bring down logistics costs. He said this would also allow for the cheaper production of electricity, which would be very beneficial for industrial growth.
 
With the upgradation of the coal jetties, TANGEDCO will be able to handle additional volume of coal cargo for the new power plants in Uppur and Kadaladi in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu. In addition to this, there will be a quicker turnaround of vehicles with the deployment of high-tech handling equipment like two ship unloaders, each with a minimum 2000 TPH capacity and a high capacity conveyor system of 4000 TPH, an official press release said.
 
This enhancement of handling capacity and upgradation of infrastructure will result in a reduction of logistics costs. TANGEDCO will, therefore, be able to utilise the services of the port in a more cost-effective way. With the power generation from TANGEDCO’s Tuticorin plants being linked to the National Grid, this would enable availability of additional power at reduced costs, which, in turn, can fuel industrial growth and employment generation.
 
The project is the outcome of Ministry of Shipping’s Project Unnati, under which a study, ‘Unlocking National Ports Potential’ was done to improve the handling capacity of CJ-I & II. The estimated cost for upgrading CJ-I & II is about Rs. 800 crore. As per the MoU, initially, Coal Jetty-I will be upgraded in about 24 months by constructing a new Coal Jetty-I of 300m x25m along with repair of the existing CJ-I. CJ –II will be upgraded thereafter. The upgradation will give a competitive edge to VOC Port and will help it maintain its lead position in coal handling, the release added.
 
The MoU was signed by Mr. S. Anantha Chandra Bose, Chairman, V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust and Mr. M. Sai Kumar, Chairman cum Managing Director, TANGEDCO.
 
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BHEL commissions 500 MW thermal unit in Tamil Nadu

The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the second 500 MW unit at Tuticorin Thermal Power Station (TPS).
 
The first 500 MW unit of the project was commissioned by BHEL on March 10 this year.
 
Tuticorin TPS has been set up by NLC Tamil Nadu Power Limited (NTPL), a joint venture of Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) and Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO). The project is situated near the Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) port on the shore of the Bay of Bengal. 
 
Earlier stages of Tuticorin TPS comprise five units of 210 MW, all installed by BHEL in three phases between 1979 and 1992.
 
Recently, BHEL had commissioned the second unit of NLC’s 250 MW circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) based power plant at Neyveli. The other project being executed by BHEL for NLC is the prestigious, 2x500 MW pulverized lignite fired thermal power plant, also coming up at Neyveli, which is the highest rating set of its kind in the country, a press release from the company added.
 
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Coast Guard's Offshore Patrol Vessel Vaibhav commissioned at Tuticorin

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Indian Coast Guard Ship Vaibhav, the third in the series of 90 meters class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) was commissioned yesterday at Tuticorin by Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal, Director General Indian Coast Guard. 
 
The OPV has been designed and built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) and is fitted with the state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machineries. 
 
Her features include an Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS), Power Management System (PMS), High Power External Fire Fighting System (ABS Fi-Fi Class-1) and one indigenous Close Range Naval Gun (CRN-91) along with an optical fire control system. 

Tamil Nadu doctors, nurses go on strike against murder

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Functioning of government hospitals across Tamil Nadu was badly affected following a strike by doctors, nurses and house surgeons condemning the murder of a woman civil surgeon in the southern Tuticorin district on the night of January 2.
 
Reports received here said doctors struck work from 0700 hrs today demanding stringent action, including capital punishment, to the four-member gang, who had hacked to death 50-year-old civil surgeon Dr Seetharamalakshmi in front of her clinic at Kamarajar
Nagar while she was attending patients.
 
Condemning the murder, local doctors launched a stir today and the Indian Medical Council has called for a state-wide one-day strike on January 5.
 
Doctors of government and private Hospitals in the district as well as students of the Tuticorin Medical College Hospital staged agitations demanding immediate arrest of the assailants and seeking adequate protection to doctors.

Man accused of 1992 murder of Indian family in Dubai sentenced to death

A CBI court in Ahmedabad has convicted Ravjibhai Manubhai Pawar of the murder of his Indian employer and four other members of his family in Dubai in 1992 and sentenced him to death.

A press release from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that its investigations had shown that Pawar, while working as a domestic servant in Dubai, had kileld Mr Ramesh K Sagar and four others of Mr Sagar's family on January 4, 1992.

He was also accused of rape and of stealing household articles, including clothes, ornaments and cash.

Pawar feld from Dubai on January 5 and came to India. On the basis of an Interpol alert, he was nabbed on January 10 by the Gujarat police and a first information report (FIR)was registered.

Since the accused was an Indian national and the offence took place outside India, the case was entrusted to the CBI. The Dubai Police had also registered an FIR and collected evidence, which was used by the CBI during investigation and trial of the case, the release said.

The chargesheet was filed on January 23, 1992 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chikhli. The trial court found him guilty and convicted him.

The case was registered by the CBI, Ahmedabad (now Gandhinagar) Branch on April 27, 1992 on the basis of the request and consent of the Government of Gujarat for futher investigation of the case filed at the Chikhli Police Station, the release added.

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Mechanised sailing operations to Colombo resumed from old Tuticorin Port


Mechanised sailing vessel operations resumed today after a gap of two years from the old port of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu to Colombo.


According to sources, the operations will be weekly and all arrangements have been made to facilitate freight transfer.


The vessel carried a 330-tonne consignment to the island nation, 150 nautical miles away. A total of 2,000 litres of diesel was required for a vessel for a two-way trip.


Small traders can now send even small quantity of goods through Snow Shipping Services, Tuticorin Chartered Agent, the sources added.


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Shopkeepers protest erection of VCK banners in Tiruchendur


A majority of shopkeepers and commercial establishments in the temple town of Tiruchendur and its surrounding areas downed shutters in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu today.


The traders were protesting against the erection of huge banners and flex boards by Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) to welcome their leader Thol Thirumavalavan in and around Tiruchendur bus stand, which they alleged was disturbing their business activities.


The traders were also demanding action against policemen who used force to disperse the traders when they were observing a "road roko" agitation last evening, demanding removal of the banners.


A majority of shopkeepers in Tiruchendur, Arumuganeri, Udangudi, Kurumbur and Athur downed their shutters this morning. A large number of policemen were deployed in the sensitive areas to prevent any untoward incidents.


Tirumavalavan is scheduled to address a public meeting at Tiruchendur today to mark the second anniversary of the self-immolation of K Muthukumar (26), a journalist, who immolated himself for the Sri Lankan Tamil issue on January 29, 2009, in Chennai.


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