Tamil Nadu

Tennis: Indian challenge ends in Chennai Open qualifiers

The Indian challenge in the qualifying rounds of the 2011 Chennai Open Tennis ended with the three remaining contenders Vishnu Vardhan, Karanuday Singh and Rupesh Roy crashing out meekly here today.

Only Roy had a chance to put it across Konstantin Kravchuk of Russsia. Karunuday, world no. 900, lost 3-6 5-7 to 120th-ranked Go Soeda of Japan.

In a game resembling a battle between two resolute baseliners, Singh struggled to return Soeda's serves and lost the first set 3-6. He came back strongly in the second set and went 5-4 up after being 2-4. Soeda did not help himself, giving in to a steady stream of unforced errors but Singh was too inconsistent to make the shortcomings fatal. Singh's failure to hold on to his purple patches saw him losing the second set 5-7.

Vishnuvardhan, who upset third seed Conor Niland in the first round of qualifying yesterday, surrendered his first set 1-6 to Ante Pavic of Croatia before fighting back in the second. But he could not overcome the power-hitting of the tall Pavic and lost 6-1 6-4.

After Rupesh Roy was ousted by Kravchuk 3-6 1-6, another person of Indian origin, Rajeev Ram, whose parents are from the country, lost a close contest with Alexandre Kudryavtsev of Russia 0-6 6-4 5-7.

Playing himself back into the match after conceding the first set 0-6, Ram played his serve and volley game to take the second 6-4 and forced Kudryatsev to earn his victory.

Though the Russian did not charge the net as often as in the USA international, he kept his cool to win the decisive points and took the third set 7-5.

Kudryatsev will meet Pavic for a spot in the main draw tomorrow while Kravchuk will meet Yuichi Sugita of Japan.


Milos Raonic (CAN) bt Evgeny Kirillov (RUS) 6-2 7-5; E R Vasselin (FRA) bt Skugor (CRO) 6-4 3-6 6-3; Go Soeda (JPN) bt Karunuday Singh (IND) 6-3 7-5; Konstanstin Kravchuk (RUS) bt Rupesh Roy (IND) 6-3 6-1; Yuichi Sugita (JPN) bt Leos Friedl (CZE) by walk over; Ivo Minar (CZE) bt David Goffin (BEL) 6-4 6-3; Ante Pavic (CRO) bt Vishnu Vardhan (IND) 6-1 6-4 ; Alexandre Kudryavtsev (RUS) bt Rajeev Ram (USA) 6-0 4-6 7-5.


Cultural show "Chennai Sangamam" to be held from January 12-17

"Thamizh Maiyam", a non-governmental organisation that promotes indigenous culture, will hold its annual show, "Chennai Sangamam" here from January 12 to 17.

As in the past four years, the fifth edition of the show will be held during the traditional "Pongal" festival. This year, the organisers have also given space to children from slums, the differently abled and transgenders to exhibit their skills in traditional art forms.

Announcing the 2011 edition of this immensely popular celebration of Tamil heritage, Thamizh Maiyam founder Jegat Gaspar Raj and its convener and Rajya Sabha member K Kanimozhi said some "very meaningful" new components had been added this year.

To give it a cosmopolitan or pan-Indian image, artistes from neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka, and Orissa would also be part of the show, they said.

They said the folk art forms of the state would get the predominant place again and the classical artistes would get the unique opportunity to connect with the afficionados at the venues.

More than a hundred poets, writers and speakers will also showcase the rich Tamil literature, lined up by "Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nadaga Mandram", they said.

This year the curtain would go up on the programmes at all venues simultaneously even as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi presides over the grand inaugural function at the Island grounds with a spectacular show involving hundreds of folk and contemporary artistes.

Indigenous Tamil cuisines would also continue to be an important aspect of the event. A Tamil documentary festival was also being planned, they added.


3 of family die in road mishap in Tamil Nadu

Three members of a family, including a little girl, died on the spot while three others were injured when a van in which they were travelling plunged into a roadside canal at Vathalai near here on the Thiruchipalli-Salem highway near last night.

Police said the deceased were identified as M Anguraj (57), his wife Babykala (50) and their grand daughter Akshaya (3).

The van was carrying them to Samayapuram temple from Salem. The injured were rescued by local villagers and later treated at a nearby hospital.


Karunanidhi launches free Pongal package to ration card holders

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today launched a free Pongal package, consisting of six essential ingredients for preparing the traditional Pongal sweet delicacy, to be given to all ration card holders in the state.

The package was announced by the Chief Minister in the state Assembly in November to enable the people to celebrate the Tamil New Year on the first day of the Tamil month "Thai" on January 15.

From today, the bag containing the six essential items is being given as a Pongal gift to all the 1.9 crore card holders in the state through the Public Distribution System(PDS).

The package comprises half-a-kg each of raw rice and jaggery, 100 gm of green dal, ten gm of cashew and five gm each of cardamom and raisins. The state government has allotted Rs 90 crore for this purpose.

Last year, all card holders in the state were given a similar package at a cost of Rs 70 crore.


Three policemen, prisoner killed in accident in Tamil Nadu

Three Armed Reserve policemen and a convicted prisoner were killed and three others, including two policemen, were injured when the van in which they were travelling, hit a parapet wall of a bridge and overturned on the Bangalore-Chennai National Highway at Ambur, in this district of Tamil Nadu in the early hours of today.

Police said four policemen were taking three convicted prisoners lodged in Coimbatore Central prison to present them before an Advisory Board in Chennai when the accident occured around 0130 hours.

Three policemen and one prisoner died on the spot, while two prisoners and one policeman were injured. They were admitted to the Vellore Medical College Hospital.

Police said the accident occured when the speeding van, hit the parapet wall of a bridge, while negotiating a sharp turn near OAR Theatre in Ambur.

The policemen who were killed were identified as Kumaravel,who was driving the van, Devakumar and Gnanasekaran while the prisoner was identified as Liyaqat Ali.

The injured are Murugan, Balakrishnan (prisoners) and Karunakaran, policeman.


Gang ransacks hotel in Tamil Nadu, attacks staff

A ten-member gang allegedly barged into a hotel on the Tindivanam-Chengai Highway, attacked the staff and ransacked it in this district of Tamil Nadu late last night, police said.

According to the police, previous enmity between the hotel owner and the group in connection with a murder case was said to be the reason behind the attack.

The gang, which came in a car, barged into the hotel and attacked the staff and ransacked it in full glare of the public, they said.

The hotel owner, Arif and his family members and relatives, laid siege to the District Deputy Superintendent of Police office today and demanded action against the culprits involved in the attack.

They also demanded adequate security and police protection to the hotel and the staff. They claimed that, despite several complaints, the police had failed to take action against the gang which had been targeting their hotel frequently.

Police officials said a first information report (FIR) was registered in connection with the incident and that the culprits would be arrested soon.

A few months ago, the gang, under the influence of alcohol, ate food in the hotel and refused to pay the money, resulting in a clash between the hotel employees and the gang.

The hotel owner was arrested in connection with the murder and had come out on bail recently.


Death toll in TN boat tragedy goes up to 15

The death toll in yesterday's boat tragedy in the Bay of Bengal off the Tamil Nadu coast rose to 15 with the recovery of bodies of two girls today.

Mr P Thyagarajan, Deputy Superintendent of Police, the Coastal Security Group (CSG) of Tamil Nadu Marine Police told UNI here this morning the bodies of S Nazeera (9) and M Nahima (10) were retrieved from the sea this morning.

The boat was spotted by the divers at a depth of 20 feet beneath the sea and efforts would be taken to salvage it, he added.

Thirteen people, including seven women and six children, met with a watery grave when the country boat fitted with an outboard engine in which they set sail to the unmanned islands of Vaazhatheevu and Mulli Theevu in the Bay of Bengal on a pleasure trip sank mid-sea yesterday morning.

Silence prevailed in Periyapattinam, a non-descript coastal hamlet in this district, even as its residents were trying to come to terms with the tragedy. Tragic scenes were witnessed as relatives were given the news.

A large number of people and leaders of various political parties visited the village and consoled the relatives of the victims since this morning.


World Bank to provide additional funding for TN's poverty reduction programme

The Government of India and the World Bank have signed a credit agreement of $ 154 million (approximately Rs 719 crore) for additional financing of the Tamil Nadu Empowerment and Poverty Reduction Project.

The agreement was signed here yesterday by Mr Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India, Mr K Allaudin, Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, Government of Tamil Nadu; Mr Dheeraj Kumar, Project Director, Government of Tamil Nadu; and Mr Roberto Zagha, Country Director, World Bank, India.

Called locally as ""Vazhndhu Kaattuvom" (Let’s show how to live), the objective of the programme is to create economic opportunities and build social capital in the poorest communities.

This puts poor people at the centre of the planning and implementation of the changes that affect their lives, a press release from the World Bank said.

According to it, the project builds on Tamil Nadu’s existing programmes and good practices using what is called the Community Driven Development approach.

Although Tamil Nadu has achieved significant development outcomes over the past decade, large numbers of people still live in poverty, especially in rural areas where agriculture is vulnerable to drought, the release said.

So far the project has reached 2,500 villages covering an estimated 1.5 million people. The Government of Tamil Nadu is providing $ 39 million (approximately Rs 180 crore) towards the project.

The release said assessments had demonstrated that over 87 per cent of households had shown an improvement in their economic status, with mean incomes of about Rs 30,060 against the project baseline of about Rs 21,105.

In addition, 53,810 young people have been trained for employment in areas such as the construction industry, service sector, telecommunications, and garment production.

"Community driven efforts are amongst the most effective ways of ensuring that the fruits of development reach the masses. This project which has already demonstrated significant results emphasizes inclusion and strengthening local organizations and village governance. The Government of India is looking forward to drawing valuable lessons from the project and to apply these lessons and best practices elsewhere – both within Tamil Nadu and in other states. This additional financing from the World Bank will help deepen the project’s development impacts," Mr Rajamony said.

The project started in October 2006, targeting the poorest blocks across 16 of Tamil Nadu’s districts. The additional financing will expand the project into an additional 46 new blocks of villages spread across 10 new districts, and into four new blocks in existing project districts, selected on the basis of poverty indicators.

"The project specifically targets the most vulnerable sections, especially women, unemployed youth, the landless, and the destitute. Their empowerment is helping them demand and access government services and programs better. This augurs well for the sustainability of the project goals," Mr Zagha said.

The credit, from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, carries a 0.75 service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years.

Tamil Nadu is the largest state borrower from the World Bank with ongoing commitments worth $ 2.1 billion spread over six projects. As of today, India is the largest IDA and the third largest International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) borrower from the World Bank. The Bank's $21.9 billion-portfolio in the country covers 77 active investment projects.


Congress will form Government in Tamil Nadu in future: Rahul Gandhi

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi said here today that the party would form a government headed by in Tamil Nadu in the future.

During an interaction with newly-elected office bearers of the Youth Congress at the Gandhi Memorial Museum here this evening, Mr Gandhi said, "We will form a government headed by the Congress in Tamil Nadu though it is not going to happen quickly as it is not going to be easy.''

"There will be no shortcuts to achieve our goal. We can form a government on our own," he said.


3 girl students killed, 30 hurt in collision in Tamil Nadu

Three girl students were killed and 30, including 23 students, injured when a private van carrying them was hit by a staff bus of a private oil company on the Chidambaram East Coast Road (ECR) in Periyapattu in this district of Tamil Nadu this morning.

Police said those killed included siblings P Akilandeswari studying in Class 12 and P Abirami of Class 9. R Pavithra of Class Seven was the other student who was killed in the mishap.

Most of the injured suffered fractures and head injuries and were rushed to hospital for treatment, police added.


SC upholds 1 year jail term for person who took bribe of Rs 50

The Supreme Court has upheld the one-year sentence and a fine of Rs 800 awarded to a municipal employee in Tamil Nadu for taking a bribe of Rs 50 over 17 years ago.

The judgement was delivered on December 15.

Kootha Perumal, an employee of Pudukottai municipality in Madurai, was caught taking a bribe of Rs 50 on August 24, 1993, for furnishing property certificate and Municipality tax extract of a house.

He was sentenced to one year of imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 800 by the trial court. The Madras High Court upheld the sentence.

Supreme Court Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar also dismissed his appeal which means he will have to go to jail after 17 years of occurrence of the crime.

Perumal told a news channel that he has not been paid his salary since 1999.


500 kg of sea cucumbers seized, 5 held off TN coast

Indian Navy personnel seized 500 kg of sea cucumbers, a banned marine species, and apprehended five fishermen in mid-sea off the Dhanushkodi coast early yesterday.

Official sources said that, during a routine patrol along the South Eastern Coast, an Indian Naval patrol vessel spotted a mechanized fishing boat sailing suspiciously.

The Naval men intercepted the boat, conducted a thorough search and effected the seizure.

Five crew of the boat- Moideen, Seeni alias Srinivasan, Shahul Hameed, Mohammed Gadafi, Askar - all hailing from Mandapam in Rameswaram Island, were arrested on the charges of unlawful poaching

of sea cucumbers.

Sea cucumbers are in great demand for their delicacy. They are also used for preparing traditional medicines in some countries.

Sea cucumbers fetch high price in the international market.

Trading of sea cucumbers, listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, is prohibited under international law and poaching of these endangered marine species is banned in India and several other countries.


TN Minister’s car driver held for fatally knocking down woman

The driver of Tamil Nadu Minister for Sports and Youth Welfare T P M Moideen Khan's official car has been arrested by the police on the charge of fatally knocking down a woman near Sattur in Virudhunagar district.

Police said Mr Khan was proceeding to Madurai from Tirunelveli in the car when the mishap occurred on December 12.

The woman, A Muniammal (38), was hit by the car while she was attempting to cross the road and died on the spot.

Virudhunagar police arrested the driver, Arul Raj (51) and are investigating the case.


Sri Lankan Navy detains 4 Indian fishermen

The Sri Lankan Navy has apprehended four Indian fishermen for illegally poaching in Sri Lankan territorial waters last night.

According to reports, quoting Indian Coast Guard, the fishermen Vadivalagu, Sakthivel, Sarath Kumar and Vadivel, hailing from Jegadhapattinam in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu, were apprehended near Neduntheevi Island in Sri Lankan waters.

They were lodged in Anuradhapuram prison, after being produced in a Sri Lankan court, the reports added.


EMU train services in Chennai affected as residents block trains

A view of water-logged tracks at Egmore Railway Station in Chennai following incessant rains on December 6, 2010. UNI PHOTO
A view of water-logged tracks at Egmore Railway Station in Chennai following incessant rains on December 6, 2010. UNI PHOTO

Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) Train services towards Chennai Beach from Tambaram were affected for 15 to 20 minutes today, when residents blocked trains demanding draining of rain waters near Chetpet Railway station.

Railway sources told UNI that since the residential colonies adjoining the Railway tracks were inundated, they pumped out the water and diverted it on to the tracks.

Since the area was very low, the waters again entered their tenements.

Aggrieved over water-logging of their houses, a group of people blocked the Chennai Beach-bound EMU trains between Chetpet and Chennai Egmore following which train services were affected.

After the railway officials said that it did not come under their control and advised the people to approach the civic authorities, the locals gave up the stir. EMU services later resumed after a delay of 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, a shunting engine derailed near the Egmore Yard resulting in more than a two-hour delay in arrival and departure of several long distance trains.

At least six incoming trains to Chennai Egmore and the departure of Kamban Express and Guruvayur express were delayed.

"Train services were affected for nearly two hours following the derailment. Trains were detained at several points and allowed to enter the station one by one," the sources said, adding that normal services were restored later.


Rains pound Tamil Nadu, low pressure area moves close to coast

Vehicles negotiating a flooded road following incessant rain in Chennai on December 6, 2010. UNI PHOTO
Vehicles negotiating a flooded road following incessant rain in Chennai on December 6, 2010. UNI PHOTO

Non-stop rains have pounded the coastal and northern parts of Tamil Nadu since yesterday, as a well-marked low pressure area over south-west Bay of Bengal deviated and started moving towards the state's coast, making more showers likely during the next 24 hours.

Meteorological office sources said here today that the low pressure area over the Sri Lanka coast was expected to move north-westwards towards south coastal Andhra Pradesh, but it had deviated and started moving towards the Tamil Nadu coast, resulting in heavy rains.

Heavy rains since the onset of the north-east monsoon in the beginning of November have claimed more than 175 lives and caused extensive damage to crops in several lakh hectares, roads, bridges and waterways. More than 1,200 cattles have also perished due to the fury of the rains in the past few weeks.

Accompanied by strong surface winds, the rains, which started around noon yesterday, without let, have crippled normal life across the coastal and northern districts of the State.


1 killed, 5 injured in wall collapse in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

A 55-year-old man was crushed to death and five others, including two children, were injured when a portion of a giant wall of the very old and historic Sirash Choudry collapsed at North Gate (Vadakkuvasal) here early today.

Police said that, due to the impact of the collapse, at least four houses adjacent to the Choudry were damaged.

The deceased was identified as Selvaraj. His son Parthipan (18) and daughter Gayatri (15) were among those injured.

The other injured were identified as Sundarammal (60), Saranya (11) and Viji (eight). All the injured were admitted to Thanjavur Medical College Hospital, police added.


Jayalalithaa says Sonia must speak out on Karunanidhi's LTTE remarks

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa today said Congress President Sonia Gandhi should give a clear and explicit answer to the nation, what she feels about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's statement yesterday that LTTE chief V Prabhakaran was not a terrorist.

"Why is Sonia silent on Karunanidhi’s statement on LTTTE. She is the chairperson of the ruling UPA, She is Rajiv Gandhi’s widow. She should give a clear, explicit answer to the nation on what she feels about Karunanidhi’s statement on LTTE. Also, what she will do," she said in an interview to CNN-IBN.

Prabhakaran is a proclaimed offender in the May 21, 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a suicide bomber.

Excerpts from the interview were made available to the media by the television channel.
"It is an irresponsible  statement from a man who is the chief minister of the state. You will have to look at it from this point," Ms Jayalalithaa said about Mr Karunanidhi's controversial remarks.

Asked whether she would support Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Agirculture Minister Sharad Pawar or Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ms Jayalalithaa said, “ No one has sought my support. On Mayawati I have said earlier there is nothing wrong in aspiring to become Prime Minister. Pawar is a senior political leader. He has the wisdom and experience to become Prime Minister."

"But no one has approached me and all this will matter only after the 16th," she said, referring to the counting of votes on May 16. "I am hoping to win 40 seats including Puducherry," she said.

On the third front, Jayalalithaa said the survival of the front depends on the numbers that will come on May 16.


Community Radio Station at Nagapattinam, Tamilnadu

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has allowed the Dhan Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to establish, maintain and operate a community radio station at Nagapattinam in the state.

The station is expected to be operational within three months as per the agreement, an official statement said. It will be set up at Vizhunthamavadi village in Keelaiyur Block of the Nagapattinam district, the statement said.

Nagapattinam was one of the areas worst affected by the tsunami which struck the southern coast of India a few years ago. The community radio station is, in particular, expected to serve women, farmers and fishermen and empower them with information and communication critical for disaster preparedness and management.

The community management committee has made linkages with the local government institutions like panchayats, health centres, schools and disaster management related Government institutions to establish a disaster management mechanism to face natural calamities.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is hoping that is Community Radio initiative will provide an opportunity to the local communities to be better informed about the developmental initiatives of the Government and promote transparency in the implementation of the schemes, the statement added.


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