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Tamil Nadu

Blue Dart to set up new aviation hub in Chennai

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Leading Indian logistics services provider Blue Dart, a subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) Group, has said that it would set up a new state-of-the-art aviation hub in Chennai for faster and more efficient transfer fo shipments, improved transit times and extension of the company's market leading service quality.
 
The hub will measure 4,912 sq. meters upon completion and is strategically located at the Blue Dart Aviation Terminal, Gate 6 Old International Airport at Meenambakkam here, with both air and land side access, a press release from the company said.
 
The new facility will also house the headquarters of Blue Dart Aviation, India’s only commercial cargo airline which provides a dedicated fleet of six B757-200 freighters and a capacity of 500 tonnes every night, operating across 73 flight sectors daily. 
 
The hub boasts BCAS approved security screening with its own X-Ray machines, equipment and dedicated manpower.
 
Charles Brewer, CEO, DHL eCommerce said, “We see immense potential in India across many fast-growing industries such as e-commerce, banking and financial services, automotive, pharmaceuticals and more. These industries demand high quality, fast, seamless logistics to support their growth and we are continually investing in our people, service and infrastructure to ensure we support the growth of our customers.”
 
Malcolm Monteiro, CEO, DHL eCommerce India added, “The new aviation hub will further improve our already market-leading transit times and boost on-time performance, further strengthening our promise of being the nation’s most reliable logistics brand. As part of the world’s leading logistics company, we are committed to supporting India businesses and will continue to be the logistics provider of choice for India.”
 
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Anil Khanna, Managing Director, Blue Dart said, “Blue Dart continues to be the undisputed market leader in the logistics industry in India. We continue to invest heavily in technology and infrastructure to create differentiated delivery capabilities, provide the best quality services and customized solutions for our customers. The new aviation hub in Chennai reaffirms Blue Dart’s commitment to support India’s growth story”.
 
Commenting on the new aviation hub in Chennai, Tulsi Mirchandaney, Managing Director, Blue Dart Aviation added, “The Airport Expansion Programme has facilitated the need to have a modernized, more efficient and productive infrastructure to support demand and growth. Blue Dart supports the critical supply chains of numerous industry segments, and improved infrastructure at the Airports will go a long way in helping us support the PM’s ‘Make in India’ Vision”.
 
The facility also houses training facilities which are approved by BCAS and DGCA with own instructors who will carry out Crew, Engineering, Security and Operations training. Blue Dart is also regulatory approved for and carries out its own airframe heavy maintenance and aircraft modifications at its headquarters, and self-handling at all of its on line stations. 
 
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Two Tamil Nadu tourists drown off Goa beaches while clicking selfies

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Two tourists from Tamil Nadu drowned in two separate incidents while clicking selfies at popular Goa beaches, police said on Sunday.
 
According to Police Inspector Jivba Dalvi, Dinesh Kumar Ranganathan, 28, from Vellore in Tamil Nadu drowned when he was clicking selfies along with two other tourists near a rocky stretch located adjoining a creek, which empties into the sea at Baga beach in North Goa.
 
"Two of them managed to come out after a heavy wave pulled all of them into the sea. However, the third, Dinesh, drowned. His body was fished out later," the official said, adding that the incident occurred late on Sunday.
 
The other incident also occurred near a rocky outcrop at Sinquerim beach, also located in North Goa, when a wave pulled Sasikumar Vasan, 33, also a native of Tamil Nadu, into the sea, resulting in his drowning.
 
Post-mortem examinations in both cases have been conducted and the bodies will be handed over to their relatives soon, the police official said.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
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Split verdict in MLAs disqualification case a breather for TN government

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In a breather to Tamil Nadu's AIADMK government led by Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, the Madras High Court on Thursday gave a split verdict in the case of disqualification of 18 rebel MLAs.
 
Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld the disqualification ordered by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal while Justice M. Sundar held the Speaker's decision invalid.
 
Justice Banerjee said in view of the contradicting judgements, the case will now be transferred to a third judge, adding that she she will not decide on the third judge and that decision will be taken by a senior judge, most likely Justice Kuluvadi Ramesh.
 
Maintaining status quo, the court also said till the case is finally decided the interim order issued earlier that barred holding of by-elections and floor test in the Assembly continue to be valid.
 
Responding to the judgment, rebel leader T.T.V. Dinakaran said: "The longevity of the anti-people government now gets extended by couple of months. It is not at all a setback for us. We got 50 per cent victory." 
 
Chief Justice Banerjee, in her judgment, said the Speaker's decision could not be called unreasonable and need not be interfered with by the court, but Justice Sundar said he differed, citing a Supreme Court judgement to say that the High Court can interfere in the order of the Speaker which was not within the confines of law.
 
Had the judgement gone either way - upholding the disqualification or setting aside the Speaker's order, the AIADMK government would have faced critical problems.
 
In case the court had upheld the disqualification, then there would have been by-elections in 18 constituencies. If the DMK won all of them, then the government's survival would be in question.
 
On other hand, if the court had quashed the Speaker's disqualification order, the government may still have to face a no-confidence motion, if moved by the DMK.
 
The ruling party would also try to win over the 18 legislators now in Dinakaran camp.
 
As per the party position in 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly, the AIADMK has 116 members followed by the DMK with 89, Congress with 8, one of the IUML, one Independent, the Speaker and 18 vacant seats. Besides, there is one nominated member.
 
PMK founder S.Ramadoss said the state government is surviving mainly due to legal delays and others and the K. Palaniswami government has no justification to continue in power and should resign immediately.
 
DMK leader M.K.Stalin, in a tweet, said: "Not only delayed justice is denied.... When people are having faith on the judiciary for protecting democracy. there should be clear and fast judgements."
 
VCK leader Thol Thirumavalan termed the judgment "unexpected".
 
"The final decision on the case should be given at the earliest," Thirumavalavan added.
 
The case comes from the time when Panneerselvam had rebelled against the party led by jailed leader V.K. Sasikala. Later, he merged his group with the one led by Palaniswami, who sidelined Sasikala and her nephew Dinakaran.
 
A group of 19 lawmakers met then Governor C.V. Rao and gave a memorandum expressing loss of confidence in Palaniswami and requested him to appoint a new Chief Minister. The Speaker then issued notice to the lawmakers asking them why they should not be disqualified under the anti-defection law. Subsequently, one of them, S.T.K. Jakkaiyan, switched over to the Palaniswami side and the others were disqualified.
 
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The case filed by the disqualified legislators against the Speaker's action is pending before the High Court since September 2017. The court had reserved the judgement on January 24.
 
Hours before the judgment, Tamil Nadu Advocate General Vijay Narayanan met Palaniswami.
 
Earlier in the day, the disqualified lawmakers met Dinakaran and discussed the steps to be taken ahead.
 
In April, in a different case, the Madras High Court had said it could not interfere with the Speaker's domain.
 
On April 27, the court dismissed a petition filed by DMK Whip R. Sakkarapani seeking disqualification of 11 AIADMK legislators, including Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, for voting against the government during a confidence motion moved by Palaniswami on February 18 last year.
 
The court said it had the power of judicial review of decisions taken but could not interfere in a matter where the Speaker had not taken a decision.
 
It also referred to a case pending in the Supreme Court on a similar issue arising from Andhra Pradesh.
 
IANS
 
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Maharashtra MPs make a clean sweep of Sansadratna awards

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Five Members of Parliament (MPs) from Maharashtra and one from Odisha, belonging to different parties, today won the best parliamentary performance award from a civil society organisation Prime Point Foundation. 
 
Former Union  Minister and senior Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily, Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, won a special award for heading the parliamentary standing committee on finance in the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
The Sansad Ratna Awards 2018, instituted nine years ago by the Chennai-based NGO which also runs an e-magazine PreSense, has been giving these awards based on inputs received by Parliament and the PRSI. The awards were instituted at the suggestion of late President APJ Abdul Kalam as civil society recognition for MPs' outstanding performance in the Parliament.
 
 The six MPs from Lok Sabha received their award -- a citation and a shawl -- from former West Bengal Governor and National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and former Chief Election Commissioner TS Krishnamurthy at a function held in collaboration with IIT Madras.
 
The MPs who received the awards were Bhartruhari Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal, Cuttack, Odisha), Supriya Sule (Nationalist Congress Party, Baramati, Maharashtra), Shrirang Appa Barne (Shiv Sena, Mavel, Maharashtra), Rajeev Shankarrao Satav (Indian National Congress, Hingoli, Maharashtra) and Dhananjay Bhimrao Mahadik (Nationalist Congress Party, Kolhapur, Maharashtra) under different categories.
 
The selection of individual awardees is based on the performance parameters like initiated debates, private members’ bills, questions raised and attendance in the House. 
 
The data is provided by Lok Sabha Secretariat and PRS India. Dr Heena Vijayakumar Gavit (Bharatiya Janata Party, Nandurbar, Maharaashtra) won the award under the Women MP category. 
 
For the first time from this year ,  one ‘Departmentally Related Standing Committee’ of Parliament is being honoured based on criteria like the reports presented, the number of sittings held and the number of subjects selected, and others.
 
Since 2015, Prime Point Foundation and PreSense have been honouring outstanding Rajya Sabha Members, who had retired in the previous year, after completing the full six-year term.  Shantharam Laxman Naik (Indian National Congress, Goa) was nominated for this year's award under Rajya Sabha category. He retired from Rajya Sabha in 2017.
 
A Jury Committee headed by Anandrao Adsul (fifth time MP), along with Hansraj G Ahir (Minister of State - Home and fourth time MP) and Arjun Ram Meghwal (Minister of State – Parliamentary Affairs and second time MP) selected the award winners.
 
The jury committee members, who were outstanding Parliamentarians themselves in terms of their performance in the Parliament, were honoured with the 'Sansad Maha Ratna' Awards for their sustained performance in the 15th Lok Sabha.
 
While Prime Point Foundation chairman and founder K Srinivasan recalled the history of how the sansadratna journey began, the executive president Bhavnesh Deora listed the achievements of the award winners. IIT Madras Director Bhaskar and Head of Humanities Dr Sudarsan also spoke on the occasion.
 
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Rajinikanth's 'Kaala' releases in Tamil Nadu amid fanfare

 
Rajinikanth fans welcome Kaala with open hearts
 
 
Dancing to drum rolls, bursting fire crackers, cutting cakes is how fans of actor Rajinikanth celebrated the release of film "Kaala" in Tamil Nadu on Thursday.
 
Additional security was provided by the police at all the several hundred movie theatres where the film is being screened in the state.
 
Large crowds were seen outside all these theatres since early in the day.
 
"I am a fan of Rajinikanth. I am from Karnataka and came here to see the movie," a person told the media outside a theatre here.
 
"Today is Diwali for me. I have waited for a long time for this movie," a fan told a television channel in Coimbatore theatre. "This not Rajinikanth movie but movie director P.Ranjith movie." 
 
"Kaala" has been facing opposition in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
 
Several Tamil activists and political parties voiced their opposition to Rajinikanth's views on the violence in Thuthookudi.
 
Visiting the violence-hit town where 13 persons were killed on May 22 in police action amid anti-Sterlite Copper smelter plant protests, Rajinikanth had said it was anti-social elements that indulged in violence.
 
In Karnataka, the film's release was opposed by some organisations after the southern superstar said the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) on the sharing of river water between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, has to be set up.
 
IANS
 
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Kamal Haasan meets Karnataka CM on Cauvery issue

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Tamil actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Monday met Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and discussed the issue of Cauvery river water sharing with neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
 
Kumaraswamy told reporters here: "We (Kamal and I) discussed the issue of the (Cauvery) Water Management Board. Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu maintain a cordial relationship over the Cauvery issue and it will be solved through mutual understanding."
 
The Central government on June 1 notified the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) to implement the sharing of water between the southern states.
 
"Farmers of both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are equally important," the Chief Minister said after meeting the Makkal Needhi Maiam party chief at his home office.
 
Kamal said the water sharing issue can be resolved if the states come together for dialogue.
 
"Court should be the last resort. If the people of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka come together, the issue can be resolved," he said.
 
Tamil Nadu would like to see the setting up of the CWMA expedited, he added.
 
Kamal's visit to Karnataka comes after the state's film distributors voluntarily decided to not screen Tamil actor Rajinikanth's "Kaala" in theatres across the state protesting against the superstar's stand on the Cauvery river row.
 
Asked about the Tamil film not being screened in Karnataka, he said the discussion with the Chief Minister did not include the subject of movies.
 
"This discussion (with Kumaraswamy) was not about films. There is a film chamber to look into the issue. This issue (of Cauvery water) is more important," he added.
 
In a related development, Kannada actor Prakash Raj said the film fraternity was being targeted. "What has the film 'Kaala' got to do with the Cauvery issue? Why is film fraternity targeted always?
 
"Will the JD-S-Congress government let fringe elements take law into their hands... like the BJP did with 'Padmaavat' or will you step in to assure common man his right for choice?" Raj tweeted.
 
IANS
 
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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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Body of Chennai tourist flown home, widespread condemnation continues

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The body of a 22-year old tourist from Chennai killed by stone pelters here was flown home on Tuesday as Kashmiris cutting across the political spectrum continued to condemn the cowardly act.
 
The grieving parents and sister of the slain R. Thirumani, whose vehicle was among many attacked on the Srinagar-Gulmarg road on Monday, accompanied the body on an Indigo flight, an official of the tourism department told IANS.
 
Thirumani was hit on the forehead and nose when the stone pelters targeted several vehicles with rocks during protests called against the Sunday killings of five militants and six civilians in Shopian district.
 
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti reiterated her condemnation of the tourist's killing.
 
"I have no words strong enough to condemn this tragic incident or even condole with the family," she said in a statement.
 
She described the incident as a blot on the cultural value system of Kashmir and an attempt to bulldoze its economy.
 
The Chief Minister, who went to meet the tourist's family at the hospital immediately after the killing, had said on Monday: "My head hangs in shame."
 
Her predecessor and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: "We have killed a tourist by throwing stones at the vehicle he was travelling in. Let's try and wrap our heads around the fact that we stoned a tourist, a guest, to death while we glorify these stone pelters and their methods."
 
Senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said: "Deeply saddened by the news of the death of a tourist due to stone pelting. I condemn such hooliganism and rowdiness.
 
"It is totally against our ethos of treating tourists as respected guests and brings a bad name to the people's movement."
 
The common man in the valley is no less shocked. Those who earn from tourism are particularly shocked.
 
"What have we proved by doing this? We claim to be the most hospitable society and here we have a guest killed in stone pelting," said Zahoor Ahmad, 33, a taxi operator.
 
"What crime had the tourist committed? His only crime was that he trusted his life with us," Ahmad added.
 
"What message are we sending out? Those who targeted the tourists cannot be fighting for the rights of Kashmiris. The incident has deeply shocked us all," said Nazir Ahmad, a hotel owner in north Kashmir's Sonamarg tourist resort.
 
"How can anyone claim to be fighting for human rights by violating the rights of others? The guilty need to be exposed," said Bashir Ahmad, a university employee here.
 
Some locals who too condemned the attack added that all innocent killings, including those of Kashmiris, also needed to be denounced.
 
"Nobody will support an attack on an innocent tourist. At the same time, there must be unequivocal condemnation of killings of innocent Kashmiris as well", said Mehrajuddin, a fruit seller in Srinagar.
 
Stone pelting has become a part of street protests in the Kashmir Valley, particularly in Srinagar, the urban hub of a separatist movement that has claimed thousands of lives since 1989.
 
As security personnel advance to disperse mobs, bands of young men attack them with stones and then disappear into narrow lanes.
 
Last week, a school bus came under attack in Shopian, badly injuring a young boy.
 
IANS
 
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You are in contempt, CJI tells Centre in Cauvery issue

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Telling the Centre that it was in "sheer contempt", the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Secretary, Water Resources Ministry, to be personally present in the court on May 14 along with the scheme for the implementation of the Cauvery Tribunal Award.
 
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud directed the presence of the top Water Resources official as Attorney General K.K.Venugopal sought six days' time for the Karnataka election to be over before the government takes a decision.
 
"You (Centre) are in sheer contempt of the court," the CJI told Venugopal.
 
The AG said the draft scheme for the implementation of the Cauvery award was before the Cabinet and the meeting has not taken place as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other ministers were busy campaigning in Karnataka, where assembly elections are slated to be held on May 12.
 
He sought six days' time for filing the scheme but senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, asked why it cannot be filed on Thursday and Friday.
 
As Venugopal said the officers who instruct (on the matter) are not working on Saturdays and Sundays, Naphade took a jibe, saying: "We are servants for 24 hours, 365 days", an obvious reference to the statement by a top functionary of the government. 
 
When the AG asked "Who said that", Naphade replied: "You want me to quote?" and added, the top functionary said it last week.
 
The AG justified the Centre seeking more time saying that it was a sensitive matter having a bearing on the law and order situation. 
 
Naphade said that they will not implement the order of the court on the grounds of law and order.
 
On another occasion, when the AG said that the release of water was not within the authority of the Cauvery Management Board, Naphade was quick to point out that the people of Tamil Nadu will not get water, no matter what happens.
 
Noting that Central government has not framed for scheme for implementing its February 16 judgment, the top court, in the last hearing on May 3, had observed that "... Karnataka will release water as per Tribunal award. You will release 4 TMC of water. Please see how much water can be released by end of May."
 
Karnataka has told the top court that it has already released the Cauvery water that Tamil Nadu was entitled to under the "distress formula" due to deficient rainfall and needed remaining water for drinking purposes in Bengaluru and the areas falling under its part of the Cauvery basin.
 
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However, Tamil Nadu in its response has contended that Karnataka had enough water to release 4TMC of water to cover the shortfall of 1.4 TMC for April and the allocation of 2.4 TMC for May this year
 
Tamil Nadu has told the apex court that "Karnataka has 19.834 TMC ft. of water as on May 4 in its four reservoirs" and the storage in "Mettur Dam is 9.502 TMC ft. (the utilizable storage being only 4.502 TMC ft)".
 
Thus, Karnataka "is in a better position and can easily spare the 4 TMC ft" even after meeting the requirement of drinking water supply for May, that is 1.6 TMC ft, Tamil Nadu submitted.
 
The top court by its February 16 judgment had asked the Centre to frame a scheme for the implementation of the tribunal award and its judgment. It had given the Centre six weeks time, that came to end on March 30, for this purpose.
 
Tamil Nadu had on March 31 moved the top court seeking contempt action against the Centre for "willful disobedience" in carrying out the mandate of the apex court on constituting the Cauvery Management Board for which the six-week deadline expired on Friday.
 
IANS
 
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Father dies of heart attack as son writes medical entrance exam in Kochi

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The father of a Tamil Nadu youth who was writing the medical entrance examination in Kerala's Ernakulam district died of a heart attack on Sunday, said an employee of the hotel where the two had checked in a day earlier.
 
Hailing from Tiruvarur district in Tamil Nadu, around 340 km from here, Krishnaswamy and his son Kasturi Mahalingam checked into the Airlines Hotel on Saturday morning.
 
"Our staff got an auto-rickshaw for the boy to reach the exam centre in the morning. Later, the father called the reception complaining of ill health and was taken to a hospital," a hotel staffer told IANS over phone from Ernakulam.
 
An official of City Hospital told IANS: "Krishnaswamy came to the hospital around 8.20 a.m. and his sugar levels were high. He was conscious and oriented. Unfortunately, he collapsed soon after that. We could not revive him."
 
The official said police were informed and later the body was handed over to the relatives.
 
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said a solatium of Rs 300,000 would be paid to the family of Krishnaswamy.
 
In Kochi, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said police will make arrangements to send back the body.
 
Calling it a sad incident, he said the Kerala authorities will accompany the body till the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.
 
MDMK leader Vaiko said around 5,600 students were made to write the medical entrance exam in states like Kerala and Rajasthan.
 
IANS
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Kovind calls for more undergraduate seats to address gaps in medical education

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Stressing the urgent need for filling the gap in the number of healthcare professionals in India, President Ram Nath Kovind has called for reforms in medical education so as to create room for more colleges and more medical graduates.
 
Delivering his address after inaugurating the centenary celebrations of the Christian Medical College (CMC) here yesterday, Mr Kovind said that, in comparison to 1.47 million undergraduate engineering seats, the number of undergraduate medical seats was only 67,352.
 
“About 20% of those seats were added in the past four years. As a country and a system, we need to address this gap quickly,” he added.
 
“Public health is a global public good and a basic human right. Despite the strides we have taken as a country, there remain regional, rural-urban and gender and community imbalances in terms of health provision. Without adequately addressing these, we cannot rest.
 
“As societies evolve, economies develop and population patterns change, countries go through epidemiological transitions. India too is experiencing such a transition. It is marked by three challenges in disease control. And we have to manage all three simultaneously,” the President said.
 
“First, India has to reduce maternal and infant mortality as well as communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, vector-borne diseases such as malaria, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoeal diseases, and vaccine-preventable like measles and tetanus.
 
“Second, India has to find an answer to the rise in non-communicable or lifestyle diseases – like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many cancers. And finally, we need to develop systems to detect and cope with new and re-emerging infectious diseases like HIV, avian flu and H1N1 influenza.
 
“In a globalised world, with people travelling in and out of our country in larger and larger numbers, a few small cases can very quickly scale up into a large outbreak,” he added.
 
The President said this three-pronged challenge calls for interventions across the continuum of care. It calls for prevention of disease, promotion of good health practices and treatment and cure in case of an illness.
 
The impact of a health problem is cross-cutting – it affects a variety of sectors. The meeting of this challenge should also follow a multi-stakeholder approach. The Government and civil society, private and public health care providers, charitable and economic institutions all have a role and a stake, he added.
 
Referring to the centenary celebrations, he said completing 100 years was an occasion to both look back and take fresh guard.
 
“In this, CMC must take inspiration from the values and the idealism of its founder. In the early 20th century, shortly after graduating from Cornell University in the United States, Ida Sophia Scudder returned to India. This was the country where several generations of her family had lived and served. This was the country where medicine became her mission.
 
“India was under colonial rule then and most people lived in tough conditions. Health indices were very poor. Average life expectancy was just about 24 years. One person died every minute of tuberculosis,” he said.
 
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“One in four babies died in the first year. Cholera, smallpox and polio – several epidemics and diseases were rampant. Independence was still a dream. It was in such an India that Ida Sophia Scudder devoted her life to healthcare. In 1918, she set up a medical school that was initially open only to women. From 1947, both girls and boys began to study here.
 
Mr Kovind said, “India has come a long way since then. Revolutions in our economy, in agriculture and in technology have changed how we act, think and live. Inevitably, our health outcomes have also improved.
 
“Average life expectancy is now above 68 years. Diseases such as polio and smallpox, which once claimed so many lives, have been defeated. Our immunisation programme is gaining strength. The government has launched Mission Indradhanush primarily to target hard-to-access areas and ensure all children benefit from immunisation,” he added.
 
Primary and secondary healthcare facilities have undergone a change for the better. In this context, it must be said the state of Tamil Nadu has exceptional health indicators and remains a model for our country. Institutions such as CMC Vellore have contributed to this deserved reputation, he said.
 
“CMC Vellore has a justifiable reputation for excellence. India’s first reconstructive surgery on leprosy patients was carried out here, and so was the first successful open heart surgery and the first kidney transplant. These are only some of your many achievements,” he added.
 
“A range of research takes place at CMC. Recent research on the rotavirus vaccine, hepatitis, malnutrition, bio-engineering and stem cells underlines your commitment to research that is relevant to India’s health needs.
 
“I have been told that the medical education programme here combines professional expertise with social relevance and ethical practice. I understand clinical training in your hospital is complemented by placements in villages and underserved areas. This is commendable. Please keep it up. Doctors need a sharp mind – but much more than that, they need a warm heart. And CMC Vellore must continue to train doctors and nurses with warm hearts,” the President said.
 
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Centre fails to submit draft scheme on Cauvery in SC

The Centre yet again failed to submit a draft Scheme on the Cauvery river water dispute before the Supreme Court on the ground that the Prime Minister and other ministers were campaigning in Karnataka, which Tamil Nadu flayed as "brazen partisanship".
 
Seeking 10 more days to finalize the scheme, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud: "A draft scheme has been placed before the Cabinet. Because of Karnataka elections, the Prime Minister and all other Ministers are in Karnataka. Before that the Prime Minister was abroad (in China)."
 
The Centre's submission was countered strongly by senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, who said: "Sorry to say, the Central government is politicizing the issue. They are worried about their electoral fate in Karnataka. Election in Karnataka is on May 12 and somehow they don't want to do it till then. We have enough of it. It is brazen partisanship of the Union of India. It is the end of co-operative federalism."
 
The apex court in its February 16 judgement had directed the Centre to frame a Scheme within six weeks in accordance with the recommendation by the Cauvery River Water Tribunal for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA), which Karnataka opposes strongly. 
 
On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnataka for submission of the Scheme. Tamil Nadu filed a contempt petition against the Centre for failure to act within the deadline.
 
The court on Thursday sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
 
In the course of the hearing, the court asked Karnataka to release 4 TMC of water by Monday, since, even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu. 
 
Addressing the concern of Tamil Nadu, the bench said, "We have given time (for framing the scheme). If you (the Centre) have not been able to put in place (the scheme), if that does not happen, Karnataka will release water as per Tribunal award. You will release 4 TMC of water. Please see how much water can be released by end of May."
 
The court said that Attorney General "shall obtain instructions as to what steps have been taken to frame the scheme, and the same shall be put forth by way of an affidavit by the next date of hearing" (on May 8).
 
Telling the court that the onus for framing the scheme was on the Centre and States had no role to play, Naphade lamented that Tamil Nadu was being given "step-motherly treatment" by the Centre.
 
He told the court that they needed water for drinking purposes and were faced with a serious situation.
 
"Not only summer temperature was increasing, other temperatures are also increasing. What will we tell the people of Tamil Nadu," he said, describing the Centre's stand as a "dilly-dallying" .
 
"They will have every excuse not to have a scheme", Naphade told the court.
 
The court directed the next hearing of the matter on Tuesday.
 
IANS
 
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CCEA okays expansion, upgrading of integrated terminals at Chennai, Guwahati, Lucknow airports

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave its approval for the expansion and upgrading of integrated terminals at Chennai, Guwahati and Lucknow Airports, at a cost of Rs 2467 crore, Rs 1383 crore and Rs 1232 crore, respectively.
 
An official press release said the new integrated terminal at Lucknow airport will have an area of 88,000 sq.m, along with the existing terminal building with 16292 sq.m, with an annual capacity to handle 2.6 million international and 11 million domestic passengers.
 
The new terminal building will cater to passenger growth up to the year 2030-31, the release said.
 
Total built-up area of the proposed terminal building at Chennai airport, including the present proposal measuring 197000 sq.m, will be 336000 sq.m with an annual capacity to handle 35 million passengers per annum (MPPA). The new terminal building incorporates green building features with an aim to achieve GRIHA-4 Star rating. The building will cater to the requirement of passenger growth up to the year 2026-27, it said.
 
The new terminal building at Guwahati airport will have an area of 102500 sqm to handle combined annual capacity (old and new terminals) of 9 MPPA. The building would cater to the requirement of passenger growth up to the year 2026-27. This will encourage investment and tourism in North East Region with thrust on ‘Act East’ Policy, it said.
 
According to the release, India has witnessed phenomenal growth rate in the range of 18 to 20% in the last three years in the aviation sector. According to IATA Traffic Study, India, at 7th position as of now, is likely to take the 3rd position by 2023-24 by overtaking the UK, Japan, Spain and Germany. The current rate of the growth in the domestic aviation sector of India is the highest globally.
 
To meet the growing demand, the Government has launched a new initiative of NABH Nirman (NextGen Airports for Bharat), wherein systems and processes are geared to provide enhanced airport capacity to handle 1 billion trips in the next 10 to 15 years.
 
Airport capacity upgrading and expansion require both the development of new greenfield airports and expansion of existing brownfield airports and same will be funded by the Indian private sector and Airports Authority of India by leveraging its balance sheet.
 
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Airports Authority of India is in the process of implementing plans for development of infrastructure to meet growing aviation demand by creating additional capacity at AAI Airports including Chennai, Guwahati, Lucknow, Agartala, Patna, Srinagar, Pune, Trichy, Vijayawada, Port Blair, Jaipur, Mangalore, Dehradun, Jabalpur, Kolhapur, Goa, Rupsi, Leh, Calicut, Imphal, Varanasi and Bhubaneswar with a capex of Rs 20,178 crore in the next 4 to 5 years.
 
AAI has already awarded the works at Agartala, Calicut and Port Blair towards construction of new state-of-the-art integrated terminals and is in the process of awarding the works for upgrading and expansion of capacity at Chennai, Lucknow and Guwahati Airports.
 
Similarly, upgrading of airside capacity by way of strengthening and extension of runways, construction of new apron bays has been taken up to cater to the demand from airline operators who have placed confirmed orders for almost 900 aircraft in the coming 10 years.
 
Under New Greenfield Airport Policy, many major cities are expected to have multiple airports. The government has granted approval for Noida International Airport (Jewar), Mopa (Goa), Purandar Airport (Pune), Bhogapuram Airport (Visakhapatnam), Dholera Airport (Ahmedabad) and Hirasar Airport (Rajkot).
 
Capex outlay of Rs 50,000 crore is expected in the development of New Greenfield Airports, wherein approval of Government of India has been given. In the private sector also, upgrading and expansion are in the offing for Delhi and Bengaluru, Hyderabad Airports at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore in the next five years, the release added.
 
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Telangana CM to meet DMK leaders on Sunday

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Stepping up his efforts to form a Federal Front, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao will meet DMK leaders M. Karunanidhi and M.K. Stalin in Chennai on Sunday.
 
This was announced by the chief minister's office in a statement on Saturday night.
 
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief along with some other leaders of the party will leave for Chennai by a special aircraft. He will call on former Tamil Nadu chief minister Karunnanidhi and his son Stalin, who is also the working president of DMK.
 
KCR, as Rao is popularly known, will discuss with DMK leaders the formation of the Federal Front proposed by him as an alternative to both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress to bring a qualitative change in national politics.
 
At the TRS plenary here on Friday, a resolution was passed to this effect. The TRS chief declared that he will intensify the efforts to form the front and as part of this will meet Stalin and Samajwadi Party President Akhlesh Yadav in coming days.
 
Stating that both BJP and Congress miserably failed to address people's problems during the last 70 years, KCR said the front would trigger a tremor in the national politics with its agenda for speedy development and for addressing the real issues of people.
 
On April 13, the TRS chief had met Janata Dal (S) President and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and his son H.D. Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru to discuss the proposed front.
 
KCR had last month flown to Kolkata to meet West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee.
 
Former Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Hemant Soren and well-known actor Prakash Raj had also called on KCR to discuss the formation of the front.
 
IANS
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Three Chennai students drown in Pune dam

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Three teenagers of a Chennai school, who were here for a summer camp, have drowned in a village dam, a police officer said on Thursday.
 
They were part of a team of around 20 boys from ECS Matriculation School, Chennai, who arrived here for the summer camp in Mulshi taluka, along with four teachers. 
 
Though the details of the incident were being investigated, police said the body of one victim was recovered, while search continues for the remaining two missing boys.
 
According to Pune Rural Control, the drowning incident occurred on Wednesday in a small village dam of Katarbhadak.
 
The group from Chennai with children aged between 13-16 was attending a week-long vacation camp at the Jackukine School of Thought, here.
 
It was after completing the first day's activities that the children went to the dam and stepped in for a swim, when the tragedy struck.
 
The Pune Police have identified the victims as: Danish Raja, Santosh K., and Sarvanna, all aged 13.
 
Late on Wednesday the search teams recovered the body of Danish Raja and the hunt was resumed on Thursday to trace out the other two.
 
Parents of the deceased students has been informed and were expected to reach here later.
 
A police team, village divers and others are engaged in the search operation.
 
IANS
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DRI busts diesel smuggling racket, arrests four persons, seizes 14 containers

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The Directorate Revenue of Intelligence (DRI) has busted a major racket involving the smuggling of diesel into the country in the guise of mineral spirit and arrested four persons, including the alleged mastermind and a hawala operator, and seized 14 containers of diesel valued at more than Rs. 1 crore.
 
An official press release said that, on the basis of inputs provided by the Andhra Pradesh (AP) State intelligence Department, the DRI, Hyderabad developed intelligence indicating that diesel is being smuggled into India in guise of mineral spirit by certain operators based in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh and Chennai in Tamil Nadu.
 
The diesel was being brought from Dubai in huge quantities on regular basis through containers at Chennai Port for further illegal sale in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it said.
 
Simultaneous search operations were carried out by the officers of the DRI, Hyderabad and Chennai with the active support of Andhra Pradesh State intelligence at various places across Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu  from April 17 onwards, it said.
 
The release said the searches conducted at two Container Freight Stations (CFS) in Chennai revealed that 14 containers imported at Chennai Port in the names of SAF Petroleum and Aditya Marine landed at Sanco CFS, Chennai and Gateway CFS, Chennai, where the goods were declared as mineral spirit. 
 
These containers were found to be actually carrying 263.78 MT (3 lakh litres approximately) of diesel. On being questioned, this was admitted by the operators and also confirmed during chemical examination. 
 
Simultaneous searches were conducted across Kakinada and Chennai covering 12 places belonging to operators, importers clearing agents, transportation broker, supervisor, hawala operators and so on, the release said.
 
Diesel is a restricted commodity for import as per the Foreign Trade Policy and allowed to be imported only by the public sector Indian Oil Corproation (IOC) and other oil marketing companies which meet the requirement of Ministry of Petroleum Resolution No. P-23015/1/2001-Mkt and not allowed to be imported by others. 
 
To circumvent this restriction, the operators of diesel smuggling based at Kakinada hatched a plan and started smuggling the fuel in the guise of mineral spirt.
 
They not only imported the restricted item but also declared a much lower value, around 40% of the actual value, thereby evading customs duty on the consignments, it said.
 
The operators had offices in Kakinada, storage yard at Maraimalai Nagar, Chennai and an office front at Guindy, Chennai to facilitate the smuggling and distribution. A relative of one of the operators from Kakinada was looking after the logistics, moving the diesel into the grey markets in Chennai, Kakinada, Ongole and parts of Telangana. 
 
Dummy companies were opened in Dubai to purchase diesel and import it Chennai by creating false documents and invoices. The price difference was being adjusted by payments through hawala channels. 
 
"It is found that in the past these operators have smuggled around 5366 MT (63 lakh litres approx) of diesel valued at around Rs. 17.7 crores, which comes to around 285 containers," it said.
 
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After pat on cheek sparks outrage, TN Governor apologizes

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Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday apologized to a woman journalist whose cheeks he patted after a press conference, triggering widespread criticism.
 
In a letter to the journalist, Lakshmi Subramanian, which was circulated to the media, Purohit said: "I wish to express my regret and my apologies to assuage your sentiments that have been hurt."
 
Purohit said: "You had asked a question when we had got up and were proceeding to leave after the close of the press conference (on Tuesday)."
 
"I considered that question to be a good one. Therefore, as an act of appreciation for the question that you had posed, I gave a pat on your cheek considering you to be like my granddaughter," he said.
 
Purohit said he himself has been a journalist for about 40 years.
 
"I do understand from your mail that you are feeling hurt about the incident. I wish to express my regret and my apologiess to assuage your sentiments that have been hurt."
 
Reacting to Purohit's letter, Subramanian tweeted: "Your Excellency, I have with me your letter expressing regret at what happened at the press conference in Chennai... I accept your apology even though I am not convinced about your contention that you did it to appreciate a question I asked."
 
Earlier, Tamil Nadu journalists had demanded an unconditioned apology from Purohit for patting the cheek of Subramanian.
 
Subramanian tweeted a picture in which the Governor is seen patting her cheek at the Raj Bhavan and expressed her shock over his conduct.
 
The Governor met the media to deny as untrue allegations of a so-called sex scandal at a leading university in the state.
 
Journalists promptly drafted a letter informing the Governor that his conduct amounted to a non-bailable criminal offence.
 
"As the Constitutional head of our state of Tamil Nadu, you have crossed the lines of not just basic courtesy but also those of law," read the letter to the Governor.
 
They pointed out that whatever his intention, he had violated the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1998.
 
DMK Rajya Sabha MP K. Kanimozhi tweeted: "Even if the intention is above suspicion, violating a woman journalist's personal space does not reflect the dignity or the respect which should be shown to any human being."
 
The journalists had sought an unconditional apology from the Governor and an assurance that he will desist from behaving in this manner in future.
 
IANS
 
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TN journalists denounce Governor for 'patting' lady reporter

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Tamil Nadu journalists have demanded an unconditioned apology from Governor Banwarilal Purohit for patting the cheek of a senior lady journalist at the end of a press conference.
 
The journalist, Lakshmi Subramaniam, has tweeted a picture in which the Governor is seen patting her cheek at the Raj Bhavan on Tuesday and expressed her shock over his conduct.
 
The Governor met the media to deny as untrue allegations of a so-called sex scandal at a leading university in the state. 
 
As the press conference ended, the Governor patted the cheek of Subramaniam, triggering outrage. She denounced Purohit's conduct.
 
Journalists promptly drafted a letter informing the Governor that his conduct amounted to a non-bailable criminal offence. 
 
"As the Constitutional head of our state of Tamil Nadu, you have crossed the lines of not just basic courtesy but also those of law," read the letter to the Governor.
 
They pointed out that whatever his intention, he had violated the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1998.
 
DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi tweeted: "Even if the intention is above suspicion, violating a woman journalist's personal space does not reflect the dignity or the respect which should be shown to any human being."
 
The journalists had sought an unconditional apology from the Governor and an assurance that he will desist from behaving in this manner in future.
 
IANS
 
 
 
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CBCID to probe case against college teacher luring students to sex trade

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With political parties demanding a CBI probe into the alleged attempt at sexual trafficking of college students by a professor, the Tamil Nadu Police chief ordered the transfer of the case to the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CBCID).
 
Considering the importance of the case, the Tamil Nadu Director General of Police (DGP) ordered to transfer the case from Arupukkottai Police Station in Virudhunagar district to the CBCID, a government statement said.
 
On a complaint lodged by R. Ramasamy, Secretary, Devanga Arts College in Arupukkottai, a case has been registered against Assistant Professor Nirmala Devi over attempt to lure some students into sex trade, according to the statement.
 
On the other hand, the Madurai Kamaraj University said it had decided to scrap its proposal to set up a five-member committee to probe the alleged sexual trafficking complaint.
 
In a statement, Vice Chancellor P.P. Chellathurai said: "The university is keen that all details with regard to the incident be inquired into without any bias. Hence the proposal to form an internal committee in the university has been withdrawn."
 
"The high powered inquiry by R. Santhanam, IAS (retd), ordered by the Chancellor will commence forthwith for which the university will be rendering all necessary assistance," he said.
 
Based on the report from the university, Governor Banwarilal Purohit, in his capacity as the Chancellor, had ordered for inquiry by a high powered committee, the statement said.
 
Leaders of political parties, however, came down heavily on the committees set up by the Governor and the Vice Chancellor and demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
 
PMK leader S. Ramadoss said committees appointed by Purohit and Chellathurai to probe an alleged sexual trafficking complaint were not legally valid.
 
Supporting the arrest of the female professor who allegedly tried to lure her students to extend sexual favours to top officials of the university in Tamil Nadu, he said only a CBI probe was only justified.
 
It was on Monday that Governor Purohit and Chellathurai had ordered a high-level inquiry into the matter by the retired IAS officer, Santhanam.
 
But Chellathurai told reporters in New Delhi on Monday that a five-member committee had been constituted to investigate the case.
 
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"Governor Purohit is only a Chancellor of the university. He does not have the power to govern or probe malpractices in the colleges," Ramadoss said, adding only the college management had the power to take action against a professor found to be misguiding the students to take a wrong path.
 
"A shadow of suspicion is on all the top officials of the university and hence Chellathurai can face an inquiry committee but can't set up one," the PMK leader said.
 
Ramadoss said the accused professor's mobile phone call records should be checked to determine others involved.
 
Nirmala Devi, who taught at the Devanga Arts College in Aruppukottai, was at the centre of a storm after audio clips of her talks with some students suggested that they yield themselves to keep the "higher-ups" in the Madurai Kamaraj University happy, so that the college keeps getting facilities. The clips went viral in the social media.
 
Police in Virudhunagar district has questioned her so far.
 
DMK leader M.K. Stalin told reporters that only a Vice Chancellor of a university could set up an inquiry committee and not the Governor in the capacity of the Chancellor.
 
"It is not known why the Governor as the Chancellor acted in this manner. There seems to be some confusion. Only a high court-monitored CBI probe will bring out the truth," he said.
 
IANS
 
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