Tamil Nadu

SC quashes Kerala law limiting water level in Mullaperiyar dam

SC quashes Kerala law, allows Mullaperiyar water level to raised to 142 ft
The Supreme Court today held as unconstitutional a law passed by Kerala in 2006 under which it had set up a Dam Safety Authority to prevent neighbouring Tamil Nadu from raising the level of water in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 feet to 142 feet.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha and comprising Justices H. L. Dattu, Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, Madan B. Lokur and M. Y. Eqbal, also restrained Kerala by a decree of permanent injunction from applying and enforcing the impugned legislation or in any manner interfering with or obstructing Tamil Nadu from increasing the water level to 142 ft. and carrying out repair works as per the judgement of the apex court of February 27, 2006 in a writ petition filed by the Mullaperiyar Environmental Protection Forum.
However, in the judgement, written by Justice Lodha, the court constituted a three-member Supervisory Committee to allay the apprehensions of Kerala about the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam, though it felt none existed, about the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam on restoration of the full reservoir level (FRL) to 142 ft.
The committee shall have one representative from the Central Water Commission (CWC) and one representative each from the two States.
The representative of the CWC will be the chairman of the committee. The committee will select the place for its office, which shall be provided by Kerala. Tamil Nadu shall bear the entire expenditure of the committee.
The court said the committee shall supervise the restoration of FRL in the       Mullaperiyar dam to the elevation of 142 ft. It shall inspect the dam periodically, more particularly, immediately before the monsoon and during the monsoon, and keep close watch on its safety and recommend measures which are necessary. Such measures shall be carried out by Tamil Nadu.
The committee shall be free to take appropriate steps and issue necessary directions to the two States or any of them if so required for the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam in an emergent situation. Such directions shall be obeyed by all concerned, the court said.
The committee shall permit Tamil Nadu to carry out further precautionary measures that may become necessary upon its periodic inspection of the dam in accordance with the guidelines of the CWC and Dam Safety Organisation.
In the law enacted by the Kerala Legislative Assembly in 2006, it had fixed and limited the FRL to 136 feet.
Mullaperiyar dam – a masonry dam – was constructed pursuant to the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement dated 29.10.1886 across Periyar river. It is situated in Idukki district of Kerala but owned and operated by the government of Tamil Nadu.
The length of the main dam is 1200 ft. (365.76 m.) and top of the dam is 155 ft. (47.24 m.). The top of solid parapet and maximum height of the dam from deepest foundation are 158 ft. (48.16 m.) and 176 ft. (53.64 m.), respectively. The FRL of the dam is 152 ft. (46.33 m.). 
In 1979, the Kerala government wrote to the Tamil Nadu government to take immediate steps to strengthen the dam. Simultaneously, it also requested the Central Government to depute a team from the CWC to inspect the dam and suggest strengthening measures.
In pursuance of the request from the Kerala Government, the then Chairman, CWC inspected the dam and held a meeting on 25.11.1979 in which the officers from Tamil Nadu and Kerala participated.  In that meeting, three levels of measures -- emergency, medium and long term -- were suggested to strengthen the dam. In the meantime, it was recommended that water level in the reservoir be kept at 136 ft.
In the second meeting held on 29.04.1980, it was opined that after the completion of emergency and medium-term strengthening measures, the water level in the reservoir can be restored up to 145 ft. (44.2 m.).
Tamil Nadu says that all measures – emergency, medium and long term -- as suggested by the CWC have been undertaken by it but despite that no consensus could be reached between the two State Governments to raise the water level in the Mullaperiyar reservoir beyond 136 ft. 
This led to the filing of a number of writ petitions in the Kerala High Court as well as in the Madras High Court sometime in 1998 on the issue for and against raising of water level in the Mullaperiyar reservoir and the safety of the dam. As the controversy was pending before the two High Courts and there was likelihood of conflicting judgments, some transfer petitions were filed before the Supreme Court.
On 28.04.2000, in the transfer petitions, the apex court desired Union Minister of Water Resources to convene a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to amicably resolve the issue. The meeting was convened on 19.05.2000 but no consensus could be reached in the meeting as well. However, in that meeting, the Union Minister of Water Resources decided to constitute an Expert Committee to go into the details of the safety of the dam and advise him on raising of water level in the reservoir.
In its report, the Expert Committee had opined that water level in the Mullaperiyar reservoir could be raised to 142 ft. (43.28 m.) as that will not endanger the safety of the main dam, including spillway, baby dam and earthen bund.
The Kerala government continued to resist raising of water level in the reservoir beyond 136 ft. It was then that a writ petition was filed by the Mullaperiyar Environmental Protection Forum directly before the Supreme Court wherein diverse prayers were made. The apex court also transferred the writ petitions which were pending before the Kerala High Court and Madras High Court to itself.
The Supreme Court on 27.02.2006 permitted the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam to be raised up to 142 ft. The State of Kerala and its officers were also restrained from causing any obstruction to this. It was also observed that, after the strengthening work was complete to the satisfaction of CWC, independent experts would examine the safety angle before the water level is permitted to be raised up to 152 ft.
The Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, 2003 was enacted by Kerala legislature, which came into force on 18.09.2003. The Act was enacted to consolidate and amend the laws relating to construction of irrigation works, conservation and distribution of water for the purpose of irrigation and levy of betterment, contribution and water cess on lands benefited by irrigation works in the State of Kerala and to provide for involvement of farmers in water utilisation system and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.  The 2003 Act was neither referred to nor relied upon by Kerala at the time of hearing the petition filed by the Mullaperiyar Environmental Protection Forum.
On 18.03.2006, in less than three weeks of the decision of the Supreme Court in Mullaperiyar Environmental Protection Forum, the Kerala State legislature amended the 2003 Act by the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006.
In the Second Schedule, appended to the 2006 (Amendment) Act, the Mullaperiyar dam owned and maintained by Tamil Nadu is included as Item No. 1 where the height of the FRL has been fixed at 136 ft.
The State of Tamil Nadu immediately thereafter instituted the present suit under Article 131 of the Constitution of India against the State of Kerala. It urged the Supreme Court to declare the 2006 (Amendment) Act passed by the Kerala legislature as unconstitutional in its application to and effect on the Mullaperiyar dam.
It also urged it to pass a decree of permanent injunction restraining the Kerala government from applying and enforcing the impugned legislation interfering with or obstructing the plaintiff from increasing the water level to 142 ft. and from carrying out the repair works as per the judgment of the court of 27.2.2006.
The Union of India was impleaded as defendant no. 2 in the suit.
The Court, in its findings, held that the State of Kerala is estopped from raising the plea that the lease deed dated 29.10.1886 has lapsed, in view of the supplemental agreements dated 28.05.1970.
"The lease deed executed between the Government of the Maharaja of Travancore and Secretary of State for India in Council on 29.10.1886 is valid and binding on the first defendant and it is enforceable by plaintiff against the first defendant," it said.
The court held that the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006 is unconstitutional and ultra vires in its application to and effect on the Mullaperiyar dam.
It said that the rights of Tamil Nadu, crystallized in the judgment dated 27.2.2006 passed by the apex court earlier, cannot be nullified by a legislation made by the Kerala State legislature.
"The earlier judgment of this Court given on 27.2.2006 operates as res judicata on the issue of the safety of Mullaperiyar dam for raising water level to 142 ft. and ultimately to 152 ft. after completion of further strengthening measures on the Mullaperiyar dam.
The plea raised by Kerala relating to the lease deed dated 29.10.1886 and structural safety of Mullaperiyar dam have been finally decided by the judgment of the court dated 27.2.2006 and Kerala is estopped from raising or re-agitating these issues in the present suit, it said.
Kerala cannot obstruct Tamil Nadu from increasing the water level of Mullaperiyar dam to 142 ft. and from carrying out repair works as per judgement dated 27.2.2006, it said.
The court also held that Kerala cannot be permitted to contend that river Periyar is an intra-State river.
It said that Kerala's offer to construct a new dam needed agreement of both the parties and could not be thrust upon Tamil Nadu.

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Megastar Rajnikanth is now on Twitter

Actor Rajnikanth in a still from his latest film Kochadaiyaan
Actor Rajnikanth in a still from his latest film Kochadaiyaan
Tamil film megastar Rajnikanth made his much-awaited debut on micro-blogging site Twitter today, marking his maiden foray into the digital space.
CA Media Digital’s first venture, Fluence, a celebrity digital network, will manage Rajinikanth’s digital interests to further create and leverage his  social media presence.
"Twitter users around the world can follow and converse live with India’s original superhero, superstar Rajinikanth by visiting or @SuperStarRajini on their Twitter app," a press release from the company said.
Fans can also follow the actor's Twitter account by dialling, or giving a missed call at 080 6700 6666 to access his tweets, which is possible due to a global integration between Twitter India and ZipDial.
A cultural icon, the normally reticent superstar said he is looking forward to interacting with his fans on the platform.
“I have always believed that my career graph is a miracle I owe my fans. I have been contemplating joining the social media platform for a while to connect with them, hear what they have to say and share my thoughts.  Unfortunately I never got around to it until now. By partnering with Fluence I am confident that I have the best team and the best guides who will help me connect with my audience," he said.
"I decided to start with Twitter because I felt that the platform is abuzz with all the news and the trends that happen across the globe and I'm told that this is where all the best Rajini one liners are!” he added.
Mr Ashish Joshi, VP Digital & Business Head – Fluence said, “We are thrilled to partner with the enigmatic Rajinikanth. The digital landscape is exploding and when you work with Thalaivar the possibilities are endless. Twitter is the first step in building and growing his online presence and getting all the fans out there to directly engage with the phenomenon that is Rajinikanth. We will work closely with him to broaden the horizons of the digital landscape to create interesting and entertaining consumer facing properties that will engage the fans in a way that only Rajini sir can.”
Twitter's India Market Director Rishi Jaitly said, "Twitter is the world's leading real-time information network where users discover and converse with the people, organizations and media that interest them. This is truly an 'only-on-Twitter' moment as Superstar Rajinikanth’s debut on Twitter also marks his debut in the digital space more generally. We welcome Rajinikanth to Twitter, are happy to support his launch on the platform and look forward to watching him use our mobile service to engage in live, public conversations with fans and other icons around the world."
To make Superstar Rajinikanth’s debut on Twitter more exciting; fans from all over the world, who follow him on twitter @SuperStarRajini in the first week, will receive a ‘WelcomeGraph’, a personalized welcome picture from the icon, the release added.
Fluence currently manages the digital life of many celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Sonu Nigam, Shaan and Karishma Kapoor which includes; their social media presence, their digital endorsements, online/mobile monetization and equity-linked investments in the digital space.

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PM condemns twin bomb blasts in train at Chennai station

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today strongly condemned the twin blasts in two coaches of the Bangalore-Guwahati Express at the Chennai Central station, in which one woman was killed and nine other passengers suffered injuries.
Dr. Singh said such barbaric acts targeting innocent men, women and children only highlighted the desperation and cowardice of those responsible.  
He offered his sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and heartfelt sympathies to those injured. 
He said that he was confident that the people of India would stand united against these attempts to disturb peace and harmony and urged the people to maintain peace. 
Dr Singh said no efforts should be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice and assured the Tamil Nadu government of all assistance from the Centre towards this end.

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1 killed, 9 hurt in twin blasts on Bangalore-Guwahati Express at Chennai station

1 dead, 9 injured in twin blasts on train at Chennai Central station
One woman was killed and nine others suffered injuries in twin blasts that occurred in two coaches of the Bangalore-Guwahati Express after it pulled into the Chennai Central station here this morning.
Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Mishra told reporters on the spot that two of the injured had suffered grievous injuries while the others had minor injuries.
He said the "minor intensity" blasts occurred in sleeper coaches S4 and S5 at about 7.15 am, some ten minutes after the train had arrived on platform number 9.
The deceased passenger was identified as Ms Swati, 22, who was travelling from Bangalore to Vijayawada on her way to her home town of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, he said.
Official sources said the blasts appeared to have been caused by some devices placed under the seats.
Mr Mishra said the train was running slightly late and had arrived at the station at 7.05 am instead of its scheduled time of 5.45 am.
The injured were rushed immediately to the Rajiv Gandhi government hospital near the station.
Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge has sanctioned an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh for the next-of-kin of the deceased passenger, Rs 25,000 for those with grievous injuries and Rs 5,000 for those with minor injuries.
Police officials, accompanied by dog squads and bomb disposal squads, rushed to the scene of the blasts immediately and platform number 9 was cordoned off.
Mr Mishra said the entire train was being checked and the train would continue its journey after about an hour after the two affected coaches are detached.
The Railways have set up a helpline at Chennai on telephone number 044-25357398 to provide information to relatives of the passengers of the affected train.
Operations on other platforms as well as on the nearby suburban section continued to remain normal, Mr Mishra said.
A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Hyderabad will arrive here later today to probe the incident, sources added.

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CBI arrests deputy director of Ministry of Shipping in Chennai in bribery case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had arrested a deputy director working in the Directorate of Light Houses & Lightships, Ministry of Shipping, Chennai for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs. 25,000 from a contractor.
A press release from the agency said that the contractor had complained to it that the official had demanded Rs 25,000 as bribe from him for issuing contract and releasing payment for additional work carried out by him.
A trap was laid by the CBI and the official was allegedly caught red-handed while demanding and accepting the bribe.
The arrested accused was produced before the Principal Special Judge for CBI Cases, Chennai and was remanded to judicial custody, the release added.

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SC refers Rajiv Gandhi killers' case to Constitution Bench, extends stay on their release

The Supreme Court today referred the issues raised by a decision of the Tamil Nadu government in February this year to release the seven convicts serving life sentences for the May 21, 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to a Constitution Bench.
A three-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana also extended the stay it had ordered on February 20 on the Tamil Nadu government's decision to release the prisoners, which means the convicts will stay in prison for the time being.
"All the issues raised in the given case are of utmost critical concern for the whole of the country, as the decision on these issues will determine the procedure for awarding sentences in the criminal justice system. Accordingly, we direct to list Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 48 of 2014 before the Constitution Bench as early as possible, preferably within a period of three months," it said.
The court said that all the interim orders granted earlier by it would continue till a final decision is taken by the Constitution Bench in the matter.
The court had, on February 18 this year, commuted the death sentences awarded to three of the assassins of Mr Gandhi to imprisonment for life in view of the inordinate 11-year delay that had occurred in the disposal of their mercy petitions by the Union Government.
A day later, the Tamil Nadu government, on February 19, decided to release the trio -- V. Sriharan alias Murugan, T.Suthendraraja alias Santhan and A.G. Perarivalan alias Arivu -- and the four other convicts serving life terms in the case -- Murugan's wife Nalini, Ravichandran, Robert Pious and V Jayakumar. The four, who were arrested in 1991, are serving life terms.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had, in a statement on that date, said that, while commuting the death sentence, the apex court had said that the convicts would remain in prison until the end of their life, subject to any remission granted by the appropriate Government under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 which, in turn, is subject to the procedural checks mentioned in the said provision and further substantive check in Section 433-A of the Code.
She said the state government had decided to invoke Section 432, taking into account the fact that the convicts had already spent 23 years in prison. She said that, as the case was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the state government would have to consult the Centre under Section 435 of the CrPC.
Ms Jayalalithaa said the Cabinet's decision would be conveyed to the Centre and, if it failed to respond in three days, her government would release the prisoners immediately using the powers conferred on it by the Constitution.
Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran argued before the apex court on February 20 that, in this case, the "appropriate Government" meant the Union Government inasmuch as the case was investigated by a Central agency, the CBI, and the convicts had been charged with offences under various laws enacted by the Union Government.
Mr Gandhi was killed by a female suicide bomber of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) late in the evening of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu when he arrived there for an election campaign meeting.
He had become Prime Minister after the assassination of his mother and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 and was in office until late 1989 when he lost the next general elections.
Mr Gandhi and 17 others were killed when the female bomber, while presenting a garland to him, triggered the explosives strapped to her body.
Murugan's wife Nalini was also given the death penalty, but it was commuted to life on the intervention of Mr Gandhi's widow, Sonia Gandhi, who is now the president of the Congress party, the main constituent of India's ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Today's orders by the Supreme Court came on a writ petition, under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, filed by the Union of India praying for quashing of the letter of February 19, 2014 issued by the Chief Secretary of the Tamil Nadu government proposing to remit the life imprisonment and release the seven convicts in the case.
Appearing for the Union of India, Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati submitted the Tamil Nadu government's proposal was illegal and without jurisdiction because it was not the "appropriate Government" in the present case, in which it had no role to play at any stage.
He also argued that the State Government could not have suo motu, without an application, initiated the process of remitting the sentence and releasing the convicts.  
Further, Mr Vahanvati submitted that once the death sentence of a convict has been commuted into life imprisonment, the same has to be interpreted to mean the entire life of the convict and the executive cannot exercise the power of remission of sentence thereafter.
Appearing for the State Government, Mr Rakesh Dwivedi submitted that the “appropriate Government” as defined in Section 432(7) of the Code is the State Government in the present case. He also argued that the State Government of Tamil Nadu is the appropriate Government to  consider remission/commutation of sentence under Section 302 read with Section 120B of IPC.
He said the power of the State Government under Section 432(1) is very wide and it can be exercised suo motu by the appropriate Government. When the power is exercised suo motu then Section 432(2) is not applicable, he said.
With regard to the contention of the Union of India that once the power of commutation/ remission has been exercised in a particular case of a convict by a Constitutional forum, particularly the Supreme Court, then there cannot be a further exercise of the Executive Power for the purpose of commuting/remitting the sentence of the said convict in the same case, Mr.Dwivedi submitted that this was unacceptable since in this case the court had exercised the judicial power of commuting the death sentence into life imprisonment by its judgment of February 18.
"The submission of the Union of India, if accepted, would have horrendous consequences. A convict whose death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment by this Court on account of breach of Article 21 would have to remain imprisoned necessarily till the end of his life even if he has served out 30-50 years of sentence and has become old beyond 75 years or may be terminally ill yet there would be no power to remit/commute," he said.
The court said it had given its most anxious consideration to all the contentions made before it and was of the opinion that it would not be appropriate for a three judge-bench to examine and decide the correctness of the verdict of another three-judge bench in the Swamy Shraddananda case. They also said that, inevitably, the decision of the Constitution Bench in the Bhagirath case would also be required to be examined.
"Thus, we deem it fit to refer this matter to a five Judges’ Bench to reconcile the dispute emerged," it said.
On the question of the remission of the sentence, the court said an issue of such a nature had been raised for the first time in the Supreme Court, which has wide ramification in determining the scope of application of power of remission by the executives both the Centre and the State.
"Accordingly, we refer this matter to the Constitution Bench to decide the issue pertaining to whether once power of remission under Article 72 or 161 or by this Court exercising Constitutional power under Article 32 is exercised, is there any scope for further consideration for remission by the executive," it said.
On the issue of who is the "appropriate Government", the judges said they considered it fit to refer the matter to the Constitution Bench for an authoritative interpretation on the same.  In fact, such a course of action is mandated by the provisions of Article 145(3) of the Constitution, it said.
The following are the questions framed by the court for the consideration of the Constitution Bench:
(i)  Whether imprisonment for life in terms of Section 53 read with Section 45 of the Indian Penal Code meant imprisonment for rest of the life of the prisoner or a convict undergoing life imprisonment has a right to claim remission and whether as per the principles enunciated in paras 91 to 93 of Swamy Shraddananda (supra), a special category of sentence may be made for the very few cases where the death penalty might be substituted by the punishment of imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term in excess of fourteen years and to put that category beyond application of remission?
(ii) Whether the “appropriate Government” is permitted to exercise the power of remission under Section 432/433 of the Code after the parallel power has been exercised by the President under Article 72 or the Governor under Article 161 or by this Court in its Constitutional power under Article 32 as in this case?
(iii) Whether Section 432(7) of the Code clearly gives primacy to the executive power of the Union and excludes the executive power of the State where the power of Union is co-extensive?
(iv) Whether the Union or the State has primacy over the subject matter enlisted in List III of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India for exercise of power of remission?
(v)  Whether there can be two appropriate Governments in a given case under Section 432(7) of the Code?
(vi) Whether suo motu exercise of power of remission under Section 432(1) is permissible in the scheme of the section if, yes whether the procedure prescribed in sub-clause (2) of the same Section is mandatory or not?
(vii) Whether the term “consultation” stipulated in Section 435(1) of the Code implies “concurrence”?

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Former TN Minister, two retired IAS officers sentenced to two years in prison

The Special Judge for CBI Cases, Chennai, today convicted former Tamil Nadu Minister for Rural Development & Local Administration T M Selvaganapathy and two retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years with a fine of Rs 25,000 each in a case of cheating.
The two retired IAS officers are Mr J.T.Acharulu, then Secretary, and Mr  M. Sathyamurthy, then Director, both of Rural Department, Tamil Nadu Government.
Two others, Mr Krishnamurthy, then Project Officer and Mr T.Bharathi, a private individual, were also convicted and sentenced to two years of imprisonment along with fine of Rs 25,000 in the case.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a case in the matter on May 2, 1997 on the directions of the High Court of Madras against the accused, who allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy in 1995-96 and cheated the Central Government and the State Government in the mater of construction of cremation sheds under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY).    
The construction of cremation sheds was not an identified item of work under the JRY scheme, but the accused used its funds for the work
It was further alleged that such work should not have been entrusted to co-operative societies and advance payment to the societies was prohibited by the Tamil Nadu Government. But the work was given for erection/construction of cremation sheds to Karungulam Co-operative Society in Nagapattinam district. Further, the payments were made to the society through demand drafts. 
According to the CBI, the Special Officer of the Society facilitated Mr Bharathi, who executed the work of erection/construction of cremation sheds though he was not the member of the society. He executed the said work in a substandard manner through sub-contractors and not in conformity with the specifications, to encash the demand drafts. A loss was caused to the tune of approximtely Rs. 23 lakhs to the Government, a press release from the agency said.
During trial, the Special Officer of the society expired and charges against him were abated. On completion of trial, all other accused persons were found guilty, the release added.

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GMR Highways commissions GMR Chennai Outer Ring Road Phase I

GMR Highways, a part of infrastructure major GMR Group, today said it had completed and commissioned the Chennai Outer Ring Road Phase I Project. 
"Government of Tamil Nadu and all concerned agencies issued a provisional certificate for completion with effect from 15th June 2013 for Group’s Chennai Outer Ring Road project," a press release from the company said today.
According to it, this milestone will add to the cash-flow of GMR by Rs. 118 crore every year for the next 17 and half years. 
"It adds almost Rs.95 crore to the revenues of Road Project in the year just ended on 31st March 2014," it said.
Completed on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer basis, the Chennai Outer Ring Road project connects Vandalur on National Highway (NH)-45 to Nemillicheri on NH-205 via Nazaratpet  on NH-4. 
GMR won the 29.65 km project through international competitive bidding. The concession period of the project is 20 years including 30 months of construction. 
According to the release, commissioning of the project will significantly ease traffic congestion  along the western periphery of Chennai city 
The road connects the northern and southern suburbs of Chennai and will be a catalyst for expansion of the city and help growth of the industrial hubs in this region through better connectivity, it added.

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Karunanidhi expels Azhagiri from DMK for working against party

Karunanidhi expels Azhagiri from DMK permanently
The Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) today "permanently" expelled former Union Minister M K Azhagiri, the elder son of its president M Karunanidhi, for indulging in anti-party activities.
The move comes two months after the party had, on January 24, placed Mr Azhagiri, 62, under temporary suspension and stripped him of all posts in the party for alleged violation of party discipline.
The party had said at that time that it felt his continuation in the organization would be inappropriate and further disrupt its internal discipline.
Today, the party said that Mr Azhagiri had continued to defy the party's directions and offered his support to its electoral rivals against its official line.
Mr Azhagiri has been involved in a long-standing power struggle with his younger brother M K Stalin, former Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister, for control of the party. Mr Karunanidhi has indicated on more than one occasion that Mr Stalin is his chosen successor.
There has been speculation that Mr Azhagiri might extend his support to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. In recent days, MDMK general secretary Vaiko had met him and sought his support in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
The DMK said Mr Azhagiri had failed to respond to the notice sent to him seeking his explanation for alleged acts of indiscipline.
Mr Karunanidhi, 89, told newspersons, while seated in a car with Mr Stalin by his side, that he had discussed the matter with DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan and decided to expel Mr Azhagiri from the party. He said Mr Azhagiri had continued to criticise DMK leaders even after his suspension.
Mr Azhagiri has been saying that he would decide on his future course of action afer consulting his supporters.
Last week, the DMK had urged its workers to not have anything to do with Mr Azhagiri after he started holding meetings of his supporters.
Since his suspension, Mr Azhagiri met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and BJP president Rajnath Singh, adding to the speculation about his possible next moves.
Mr Azhagiri, former Union Minsitr for Chemicals & Fertilisers, ws the South Zone Organising Secretary of the DMK and had played a major role in building the party in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009, the DMK had won eight of the nine seats in the region, and Mr Azhagiri himself won by a huge margin in Madurai.
But this time he and those considered loyal to him have been denied nominations for the coming Lok Sabha elections by the party.
Things came to a head after Mr Karunanidhi suspended five workers of the DMK's Madurai unit for putting up posters supporting Mr Azhagiri, though the latter had said that he was not involved in the incident.
The Madurai unit of the party had also been disbanded and Mr Karunanidhi had issued a stern warning to all leaders of the party to not step out of line. He also warned of disciplinary action, including expulsion, to those who flouted party dicipline.
Mr Azhagiri has also told the media on more than one occasion that he would not accept anyone other than Mr Karunanidhi as his leader. 

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Congress fields Chidambaram's son Karti from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu

Karti P Chidambaram
Karti P Chidambaram
The Congress today named Mr Karti P Chidambaram, the son of Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, as its candidate in the coming Lok Sabha elections from his father's constituency of Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu.
Mr Chidambaram, a seven-time MP from the constituency, is learnt to have told the party leadership that he would like to opt out of the coming elections.
He has been talking in recent times about the need for the older generation to pass the baton on to youngsters. He has also been exhorting the party to field as many youth as possible in the elections.
Whether he contests the elections or not, the Harvard-educated lawyer is expected to be one of the main campaigners for his party in Tamil Nadu. He, in fact, told people at meetings in his constituency that he would remain the candidate whether he contested or his son did.
Rajya Sabha member and former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has been nominated from his old constituency of Mayiladuthurai in the state.
"I'm honoured Congress has bestowed this on me. It's a huge challenge. I would work very hard. Congress in Sivaganga is organised and is ready," Karti Chidambaram told a television channel after the party announced its fourth list of 50 candidates for the coming elections.
Other prominent candidates in the list include Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has been fielded from Udhampur in Jammu & Kashmir.
The 50 candidates announced today include 30 in Tamil Nadu, four in Gujarat, three each in Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh and two each in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.
In Delhi, the party named Mahabal Mishra from West Delhi and Ramesh Kumar from South Delhi.
In Gujarat, the Congress has nominated Mr Kirit Patel from Gandhinagar, the constituency held since 1991 by veteran BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani.
In Jammu, the party's candidate will be Madan Lal Sharma, while it will be Laxman Singh from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, from where BJP leader Sushma Swaraj is contesting.

The list can be seen here.


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Acclaimed film director Balu Mahendra passes away in Chennai

Veteran filmmaker Balu Mahendra passes away
Well-known film director and cinematographer Balu Mahendra, who made several successful films in Tamil, Malayalam and other languages, including "Sadma" in Hindi, passed away at a private hospital here today after suffering a heart attack, sources said.
They said that Mahendra, 74, was rushed to the Vijaya Hospital early this morning and breathed his last there around 11.45 am.
He is survived by his wife and a son.
Balanathan Benjamin Mahendran was born on May 20, 1939  at Batticalao to a Sri Lankan Tamil family and spent his early years there. After getting a chance to watch David Lean's making of The Bridge on the River Kwai during a school trip in Sri Lanka, he developed an interest in films. Thanks to a camera presented to him by his father, he also acquired a keen interest in photography.
After taking a degree in science from London University, he enrolled himself in the cinematrography course at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune.
He passed out of the prestigious institute with a gold medal and began his career in films in 1971 with Ramu Kariat's "Nellu" in Malayalam, which won him the Best Cinematographer award from the Kerala government. He went on to win many more awards for cinematography and was noticed, in particular, for his use of natural light in his films as far as possible. In all, he wielded the camera for 26 films, many of them in Malayalam.
He made his debut as a director with "Kokila" in Kannada and went on to make 21 more films in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi and win several awards.
He won the National Award for Best Cinematography (Black and White) for Kokila. He also won the Karnataka government award for Best Screenplay for the same film.
In all, he won five National Awards, including two for Best Cinematography, two for Best Feature Film in Tamil (Veedu and Vanna Vanna Pookkal) and one for Best Film on Family Welfare (Sandhya Raagam in Tamil).
Moondram Pirai, for which he won the National Award for Cinematography, also won him the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Director in 1982. He remade the film in Hindi the next year as Sadma with Kamla Hasan and Sridevi reprising their roles in the Tamil original. 
In 1982, he won the Filmfare Award for Best Malayalam Director for Olangal. Other Malayalam films he made were Oomakuyil (1983) and Yathra (1985). 
In 1996, he remade Kokila in Hindi as Aur Ek Prem Kahani.

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Modi calls for skill development, better education to reap demographic dividend

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressing the 9th convocation of the SRM University in Chennai on February 9, 2014.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressing the 9th convocation of the SRM University in Chennai on February 9, 2014.
Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi today stressed the need to give a boost to skill development activities while ensuring that the pace of every development effort was quick and effective.
Speaking at the 9th convocation of SRM University here this morning, he said the scale of operations of each initiative mattered in its reach and impact.
Mr Modi urged the students to remember their motherland throughout their journey in lives and to do whatever they could do to make India innovative and competitive.
He exhorted them to aspire to rise to great heights in life and gave the example of Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella, who was recently appointed the CEO of Microsoft.
“Satya Nadella’s success is good news. I am sure you aspire to reach where he has. My advice – create a Microsoft and Apple here in India," he said.
Mr Modi told they should never forget the fact that they were amongst the privileged few who could study in institutions such as SRM and urged them to not forget their less fortunate brethren.
He said education was the best and most effective way of countering poverty and had an important role in the task of nation-building. Noting that India is home to the brightest minds, he called for the establishment of more such educational institutions.
He also highlighted the need to focus on improvement of sectors such as agriculture, forestry, mining, rivers and so on so that the coming generations could live well.
“The young generation of today is globally connected. They want to live in an equitable and efficient India. We have to be ready for this, and work for this,” he said.
He said that India's youth, if given a chance, could achieve in just 60 months what the country could not in the past 60 years.
Mr Modi, who arrived here yesterday on the first leg of a trip to the South, also addressed a rally last night at which he attacked the Congress for its alleged divisive politics and for its indifference to the needs of the common man.
“The troubles we have seen in the last 10 years have not been seen ever before after Independence,” he said.
He accused the Congress of destroying most institutions, including the position of the Governor. "Raj Bhavans have become Congress Bhavans. Elected governments pass laws but governors do not sign them. This is the institutional decline they are doing," he said.
He alleged the Centre was misusing departments such as the Income Tax department. He said that when investors came to Gujarat, they were issued notices and raids were conducted against them by Income tax officials.
"There are so many commissions, which must be for people’s interests, but even they have been misused for political gains. CBI has been misused. To win trust votes CBI is misused. They are used to make and break governments,” he said.
“In doing corruption they respect the federal structure a lot. Their allies are also allowed to loot, and you have the beneficiaries in Tamil Nadu, too," he said.
The Gujarat Chief Minister said the people of his state had kept the Congress out of power for a quarter of a century and now the people of India would also follow suit.
He said the Congress-led UPA government's work culture had disrupted the functioning of the economy and brought India to the verge of disintegration.
"To save the nation, we need to bid them goodbye. Work culture must be of cooperation not confrontation. Centre vs State, State vs State, these things are going on due to the UPA. UPA is not bothered to solve them," he said.
He said there was a need to adhere to the federal structure, the way BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee had done while he was Prime Minister.
Reacting to criticism mounted against him by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, he said, "“There is also a recounting Minister in Delhi. He is from Tamil Nadu only. He abuses me but I prefer to keep silent because I know that 'keechad jitna faikoge, kamal utna hi khilega.”
Mr Chidambaram had, among other things, said recently that Mr Modi's knowledge of economics could be put on the back of a postage stamp.
Mr Modi said the results of having an economist as Prime Minister and a knowledgeable Finance Minister were there for all to see. “You came from Harvard, we came by hard work," Mr Modi quipped. “This land of Chennai asks you, the Recounting Minister, why are the finances of the nation suffering."
He said the UPA government had failed to create new jobs and people were also losing their jobs. In contrast, he said, Gujarat had the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
“Dear Finance Minister, knowledge of economics does not come from books alone. Good governance is required," he said.
Mr Modi said India needed a strong government at the Centre because of the problems it is facing in the neighbourhood.
He said the Centre was indifferent to the problems faced by Tamil Nadu fishermen at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy personnel.

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Jayalalithaa joins hands with CPI for 2014 Lok Sabha elections

Video: Jayalalithaa joins hands with CPI to fight 2014 polls
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today announced that her All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) had joined hands with the Communist Party of India (CPI) for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
"The AIADMK and the CPI have decided to enter into an alliance for the forthcoming Lok sabha elections," she said after a meeting with veteran CPI leader A B Bardhan at her residence here.
"We have decided to work together. Other details will be shared later," she said.
"I endorse everything that she has said. Our alliance will lead to victory," Mr Bardhan said.
Sources said CPI (Marxist) General Secretary Prakash Karat is expected to meet Ms Jayalalithaa on Monday. The Left parties had fought the last assembly elections in Tamil Nadu alongside the AIADMK. 
The AIADMK had helped Left candidates to be elected to the Rajya Sabha last year and this year.

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Jayalalithaa writes to PM about arrest of TN fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy

File photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convey an unequivocal and strong disapproval of the belligerent actions of the Sri Lankan Navy and also urge the Sri Lankan Government  to direct its navy not to resort to further illegal arrest and detention of innocent fishermen from her state.
In a letter to Dr Singh, she said the environment of goodwill between the two countries had been totally vitiated by an incident on January 29 in which 38 Tamil Nadu fishermen were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy in a midnight raid while fishing in their traditional waters in the Palk Bay.
She recalled that she had, in a spirit of accommodation, facilitated the holding of direct talks between the fishermen communities of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka on January 27 in Chennai.
"Based on the overall environment of goodwill created by the holding of the talks, 295 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu and their 45 boats were released by Sri Lanka in the last two weeks," she said.
She said six mechanised fishing boats with 38 fishermen belonging to Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu had set out for fishing from Rameswaram fishing base on January 29.
"While they were engaged in fishing in their traditional fishing waters in Palk Bay, they were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy around midnight on 29.1.2014. 
"It appears to me that this incident of apprehension is an attempt by elements in the Sri Lankan Navy to deliberately spoil the conducive atmosphere created by the recent talks. Such arrests and apprehension also directly impact the livelihood of the Tamil Nadu fishermen living in the Palk Bay districts," she said.
"In order to preserve the conducive atmosphere and to enable a pragmatic and workable solution to emerge for the day to day fishing activities of the fishermen to continue, I request you to decisively impress upon the Government of Sri Lanka to advise its Navy to abstain from such acts of illegal abduction of innocent Indian fishermen. I request you to convey an unequivocal and strong disapproval of the belligerent actions of the Sri Lankan Navy and also urge the Sri Lankan Government to direct its Navy not to resort to further illegal arrest and detention of our innocent fishermen. 
"May I urge your personal intervention and exhort you to use the diplomatic channels of the Government of India in a concrete and decisive manner to secure the release of the 38 fishermen arrested on 29.1.2014 including their 6 boats?” she added.

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Govt. to develop Sholinganallur-Kalpakkam stretch of South Buckingham Canal in TN

The Union Government has decided to take up development of the 37 km Sholinganallur-Kalpakkam stretch of National Waterway (NW-4) in the South Buckingham Canal of Tamil Nadu.
Launching the project, Union Minister of Shipping G.K. Vasan said its main components include dredging and excavation to develop the navigational channel, construction of three terminals and navigational locks, replacement of one existing bridge at Kelambakkam, and installation of navigational aids. 
He said more than Rs.123 crore had been sanctioned by the Central Government for the purpose and the project is expected to be completed in two years. 
Mr Vasan said that other stretches of NW-4, which covers the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, would also be taken up for development subsequently. 
NW-4 covers a total length of 1078 km consisting of Kakinada-Puducherry canal systems integrated with Godavari and Krishna rivers. 
He said the project would ease the transportation problems in Chennai suburbs to a great extent besides promoting tourist movement to important tourist spots at Mahabalipuram and Puducherry. 
The development of South Buckingham Canal can also improve the drainage system during flood season in Chennai, he said.
The canal will be developed to make it suitable for safe navigation of cargo vessels up to 300 ton capacity for transportation of general cargo like food grain, fertilizers, building materials, and so on.
The canal shall also be suitable for movement of the passenger and tourist vessels of higher capacity from Chennai to Mahabalipuram and in future upto Puducherry. The terminals at Shollinganallur, Mutukkad and Mahabalipuram have been planned for construction and will be operated with necessary facilities for cargo, passenger and tourist vessels. 

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DMK suspends M K Azhagiri for alleged violation of party discipline

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Friday placed former Union Minister M K Azhagiri, the elder son of its president M Karunanidhi, under temporary suspension and stripped him of all posts in the party for alleged violation of party discipline.

MK Alagiri suspended from DMK by father
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) today placed former Union Minister M K Azhagiri, the elder son of its president M Karunanidhi, under temporary suspension and stripped him of all posts in the party for alleged violation of party discipline.
In a statement, DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan said the party had decided, in its interests, to temporarily suspend Mr Azhagiri, 62, from the membership of the party because it was felt that his continuation in the organisation would be inappropriate and would further disrupt its internal discipline.
Mr Azhagiri, former Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilisers, was the South Zone Organising Secretary of the DMK.
Mr Anbazhagan said Mr Azhagiri had caused confusion in the party by urging its members not to work for it and by criticising the disciplinary action taken by it against some members recently for anti-party activities.
Mr Anbazhagan said members of the party should accept the decision and work unitedly for strengthening the party.
Mr Azhagiri has been involved in a long-standing power struggle with his younger brother M K Stalin, former Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister, for control of the party.
Things came to a head after Mr Karunanidhi suspended five workers of the DMK's Madurai unit for putting up posters supporting Mr Azhagiri, though the latter had said that he was not involved in the incident.
The Madurai unit of the party had also been disbanded and Mr Karunanidhi had issued a stern warning to all leaders of the party to not step out of line. He also warned of disciplinary action, including expulsion, to those who flouted party dicipline.
Mr Azhagiri has also told the media on more than one occasion that he would not accept anyone other than Mr Karunanidhi as his leader. 
Mr Karunanidhi, who has in the past indicated that Mr Stalin would succeed him as the DMK chief, has sealed that impression with today's decision.

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India-born wireless pioneer Arogyaswami Paulraj gets Marconi Society Prize

Prof Arogyaswami Paulraj
Prof Arogyaswami Paulraj
India-born scientist Arogyaswami Joseph Paulraj, Emeritus Profssor at Stanford University, has been awarded the prestigious 2014 Marconi Society Prize for his invention and advancement of MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology.
The award, which carries a $ 100,000 (Rs 62 lakh) prize, is the top global accolade for pioneers of information technology.
MIMO technology is a key enabler of wireless broadband services that benefit billions of people worldwide and is at the heart of the current WiFi and 4G mobile systems.
“Paulraj’s contributions to wireless technology, and the resulting benefit to mankind, are indisputable. Every WiFi router and 4G phone today uses MIMO technology pioneered by him,” Prof Sir David Payne, Chairman of the Marconi Society, said.
"His idea for using multiple antennas at both the transmitting and receiving stations - which is at the heart of the current high speed WiFi and 4G mobile systems – has revolutionized high speed wireless delivery of multimedia services for billions of people," a press release from the society said.
“Paul (as he is commonly known) has made profound contributions to wireless technology, and the resulting benefit to mankind is indisputable. Every wifi router and 4G phone today uses MIMO technology pioneered by him,” Prof Payne said.
Coimbatore-born Prof Paulraj finished high school at 15 and joined the Indian Navy and opted for the electrical engineering branch, where his training focused on practical skills for maintaining weapons systems. He taught himself subjects like control theory, information theory and signal processing. 
Impressed by his talent, the Navy sent him in 1969 to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi for its M.Tech. programe. Prof P V Indiresan of the institute persuaded the Navy to allow him to enroll in the Ph.D. programme.
That opportunity changed Prof Paulraj's life. In 1970, Stanford Prof. Thomas Kailath, an influential systems theorist, visited IIT Delhi to lecture on non-linear estimation. 
Inspired by Prof Kailath’s lectures, Prof Paulraj went on to make fundamental advances in non-linear estimation of signals using advanced tools from Ito calculus and stochastic diffusion theory. The Navy also got a big payoff, with Prof Paulraj leading a project to redesign the sonar adding many new signal processing concepts. Three years later, in the early 1970s, the new technology was widely deployed in the fleet.
After a brief fellowship at Loughborough University U.K., the Navy assigned him to lead a much more ambitious project to design an advanced technology sonar not available to India because of military export restrictions. His team developed a world-class sonar system (APSOH) that was inducted into fleet service in 1983, a stunning achievement in military electronics for India. APSOH to this day ranks among the best sonars in the world. 
Retired Admiral R. H. Tahiliani, former Chief of the Naval Staff, recalling APSOH says, “The Navy is enormously proud of Paul's many achievements and will remain always indebted for his landmark development of the APSOH sonar.”
Following APSOH work, Prof Paulraj was given a two-year sabbatical leave to explore new areas, and his scientific supervisor suggested he should try to work at Stanford University. He wrote to Prof. Kailath, who despite initial scepticism, finally agreed to allow him to join his research group. 
At Stanford, Prof Paulraj worked on a multiple signals Directions of Arrival (DOA) estimation problem that had a long history of improvements using a spectrum approach. He proposed a totally new method called ESPRIT (Estimation of Signal Parameters via Rotational Invariance Techniques).This led to a mini-revolution spawning more than 1000 papers and over 50 doctoral dissertations; its applications now go far beyond array signal processing to spectral estimation and to system identification.
Paul returned to India in 1986 and served as the founding director for three major labs in India - CAIR (Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics), CDAC (Center for Development of Advanced Computing) and CRL (Central Research Labs of Bharat Electronics). 
He returned to the US in 1991. At Stanford, while awaiting a faculty appointment, he worked on signal separation experiments for airborne reconnaissance. He noticed something surprising: in presence of scattering, co-channel wireless signals from closely spaced transmit sources were often separable by an adaptive receiver antenna array. A few days later, sitting in a barber shop, he had an idea for increasing throughput in wireless systems using multiple transmit and receive antennas (MIMO - Multiple Input, Multiple Output). 
Prof Paulraj applied for a U.S, patent titled “Distributed Transmit – Directional Receive DTDR” (with his then supervisor Prof. Kailath as co-inventor) in February 1992 and the patent was granted in September 1994. 
Spatial Multiplexing, as this is now known, boosts spectral efficiency by creating “parallel spatial data streams” within the same frequency channel. 
However, his attempts to attract interest from the mobile technology companies and funding agencies were met with deep skepticism. His claim that a 1,000,000-QAM system could be built using MIMO when the state-of-art was then 4-QAM engendered disbelief. Now, 20 years later, the MIMO-based 802.11ac WiFi supports 16,000,000-QAM.
Undaunted by the skepticism about MIMO’s practical feasibility, he took leave from Stanford in 1998 to found Iospan Wireless Inc. (initially known as Gigabit Wireless) and built a MIMO based commercial system. Venture firms finally paid attention after he demonstrated a 3x3 MIMO radio he built with his personal funds. While CDMA access technology was still the mainstay of the wireless industry, Paul pushed for OFDMA as the best access technology for incorporating MIMO. Iospan developed a MIMO-OFDMA based fixed wireless system to offer 4096-QAM with 2 spatial streams. By 2001, Iospan had firmly established that MIMO offers good value in typical cellular applications. Intel Corp. acquired Iospan’s technology in 2003, and Paul worked with Intel to develop the WiMAX mobile standards.
In 2004, Paul co-founded Beceem Communications to develop semiconductor solutions and the company emerged as a world leader in WIMAX semiconductors with more than 65% market share. It was acquired by Broadcom Corp. In 2006 and the 3GPP standards group also adopted Iospan’s MIMO-OFDMA as the core technology for the 4G mobile standards.
Stanford colleague and Marconi Fellow Prof. John Cioffi, the inventor of DSL technology, calls Paul’s technical capability “almost unparalleled in the world. But what impresses me most is how Paul endured the tremendous, pressure, turmoil and stress of people saying his ideas weren’t going to work, and persevered until he found success. Such people are pretty rare.”
"The potential of MIMO to multiply the capacity of wireless spectrum is seemingly limitless. Use of milli-metric band frequencies can soon enable much larger numbers of MIMO antennas and the corresponding boost in wireless capacity, Prof Paulraj said.
The Marconi Prize comes just three years after Prof Paulraj was honoured with the other major telecom technology award – the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal for his work on theoretical foundations of MIMO.  
He is the only India-born scientist to receive both the Marconi Prize and the Bell Medal - the two top global IT technology awards.  After Sir J.C. Bose’s demonstration of the millimeter wave radio in 1895, Paulraj’s invention of MIMO in 1992 is the next major innovation in IT from an Indian born scientist.
The Government of India had honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 2010
In winning the prestigious award, Prof Paulraj has joined a very select group of top information technology (IT) pioneers such as Tim Berners-Lee (World Wide Web), Vint Cerf (Internet), Larry Page (Google Search), Marty Hellman (Public Key Cryptography) and Martin Cooper (Cell Phone).
The Marconi Society was established in 1974 through an endowment set up by Gioia Marconi Braga, daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, the Nobel laureate who invented radio (wireless telegraphy). It is best known for the Marconi Prize.

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Ennore Port, Ford India in agreement to boost auto exports

Ennore Port Limited (EPL), Chennai and Ford India Private Limited today signed an agreement for export of Ford cars though the Ennore port for a period of 10 years. 
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister for Shipping G.K. Vasan said that this was a part of a series of initiatives by the Government for attracting investments in the infrastructure sector, particularly in ports and automobile sectors. 
The agreement provides for various volume-based discounts on wharfage by EPL ranging from 5% to 30% to encourage more exports through EPL. 
Ford India Private Limited has set up a modern integrated manufacturing facility at Maraimalai Nagar, near Chennai, for export of their automobile products. 
In the last few years, Chennai has emerged as the hub of automobile manufacturing sector with all global auto majors having their manufacturing plants in the city. Besides, Chennai has also emerged as a major centre for export of automobiles. Ennore Port has played a key role in facilitating these exports. 
Between September 2010 and December 2013 about 4,49,720 automobile units have been exported from Ennore Port, including those of manufacturers like Nissan, Ford and Ashok Leyland from Chennai, Toyota from Bangalore and Honda from Delhi.
Ennore Port has developed a General Cargo-cum-Car Terminal at a cost of Rs.140 crore, which includes a car parking yard of 35 acres for parking of 10,000 cars at a time, the biggest amongst the major ports. 
Mr Vasan said Ennore Port has planned to set up an LNG storage and re-gasification terminal with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for import of LNG at an estimated investment of Rs. 4500 crore having capacity of 5 million metric tonnes per annum. IOC plans to commission the project by 2016-17. 
The port has also commenced pre-project activities for the construction of the third coal berth to handle additional 9 million tonnes of coal required by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO).
In keeping with the global trend of containerised transportation of cargo, Ennore Port has also come up with a proposal to develop a container terminal at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,270 crore with a capacity of 1.4 million TEUs. This project is targeted for award during 2013-14 along with Multi Cargo Terminal. 
The Port is expected to handle 24 MMT during 2013-14 as against 17.89 MMT during 2012-13. During the 12th five year plan, Ennore port has plans to increase its capacity from the present 30 MTPA to 66.8 MTPA. 

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Centre approves ten water supply projects for Chennai

The Central Government has approved a proposal for 10 new projects for providing comprehensive water supply to various areas of Chennai city.
An official press release said the projects were approved at the meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) of the Union Ministry of Urban Development here recently. 
They projects include water supply scheme for Pallikarani, Chinnasekkadu, Puzhal, Surapattu, Puthagaram, Kathirvedu, Vadaperumabakkam, Theeyambakkam, Edayanchavadi, Sadayankuppam, Kadapakkam, Palavakkam, Mugalivakkam, Manali, Kotivakkam, and Perungudi. 
These projects have been sanctioned at an approved cost of Rs. 271.14 crore. The Central Government will contribute 35 per cent towards the total cost, it said.
The release said the highest amount of Rs 69.60 crore had been sanctioned to Puzhal, Surapattu, Puthagaram, and Kathirvedu. 
According to it, borewells is the primary source of water in many of these areas. At other places, majority of the existing distribution systems in these areas are very old and not sufficient to carry the required water to the population. Water connections are also not metered. Also, there is prevalence of high water loss in the distribution network. 
The projects aim to improve the quality and quantity of service, water metering, reduction in leakages and energy consumption and enhancement in customer satisfaction and revenues to water supply organizations. 
The projects will also ensure that the distribution pipeline network reaches out to the maximum population. Also, since the population for these areas is increasing there is a demand for an increased supply of water, which is aimed to be provided through these new projects, the release added.

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BHEL wins Rs 1023 crore turbine generator package for Neyveli project

The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had won a prestigious order worth Rs 1023 crore for the supply of turbine generator package (TG) pacage for the 2x500 MW thermal power station at Neyveli in Tamil Nadu.
The order was secured in the face of stiff international competition from the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) for their upcoming 1000 MW Neyveli New Thermal Power Project (NNTPP), a press release from the company said.
The release said BHEL’s scope of work includes manufacture, supply, erection, testing and commissioning of steam turbine generators & auxiliaries along with associated civil works.
BHEL had earlier bagged the order for supply and installation of the steam generator (SG) package for the same project. The steam generators will be the highest rating pulverised lignite lignite-fired steam generators in the country.
The company had earlier secured orders from NLC for their 2x500 MW Tuticorin, 2x250 MW Neyveli and 2x125 MW Barsingsar projects.

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Cabinet nod for entrusting upkeep of Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperumbudur to CPWD

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to entrust to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) the arrangements for upkeep and maintenance and management of the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.
This includes organizing functions on the birth and death anniversaries of the former Prime Minister at the memorial and day-to-day operations and for providing appropriate budget to the CPWD for this purpose. 
The memorial, built at public cost, attracts a large number of visitors every day. 
"Therefore, the memorial requires to be provided with the same level of upkeep/maintenance and management as has been provided for other edifices of the kind," an official press release said.
Mr Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber while attending an election meeting at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991.

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Praveen Kumar wins President's Plaque for topping batch in Air Force Academy

Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne awarding the President's Plaque to Flying Officer Praveen Kumar for standing first in overall order of merit during Combined Graduation Parade, at Air Force Academy, Dindigul, on December 14, 2013. Read story.

Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne awarding the President's Plaque to Flying Officer Praveen Kumar for standing first in overall order of merit during Combined Graduation Parade, at Air Force Academy, Dindigul, on December 14, 2013.
Read story.Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne awarding the President's Plaque to Flying Officer Praveen Kumar for standing first in overall order of merit during Combined Graduation Parade, at Air Force Academy, Dindigul, on December 14, 2013.

Air chief N A K Browne reviews passing out parade at Air Force Academy

Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne awarding the President's Plaque to Flying Officer Praveen Kumar for standing first in overall order of merit during Combined Graduation Parade, at Air Force Academy, Dindigul, on December 14, 2013.
Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne awarding the President's Plaque to Flying Officer Praveen Kumar for standing first in overall order of merit during Combined Graduation Parade, at Air Force Academy, Dindigul, on December 14, 2013.
Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) Chairman and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne reviewed the passing out parade of 202 flight cadets at the Air Force Academy (AFA), Dindigul near here today.
The cadets participated in the Combined Graduation Parade of the flight cadets of No. 192 Pilot Course, No. 133 Ground Duty Course and No. 117 Navigation Course.
It was a special occasion for Air Chief Marshal Browne, who had passed out of the academy 41 years ago in 1972.
The President’s Plaque and the Chief of the Air Staff Sword of Honour for standing first in overall order of merit in Pilot’s Course was awarded to Flying Officer Praveen Kumar while Flying Officer Firdous Ahmed Dar and Flying Officer Vipin Kumar were awarded the President’s Plaque for standing first in overall order of merit in Ground Duties Branches and Navigation Branch, respectively. 
There was a thrilling display of manoeuvres by the newly inducted Pilatus PC 7 Mk II and ‘Sarang’ Aerobatics Team followed by the traditional fly past by Kiran, Hawk aircraft and Chetak helicopters.
A breathtaking performance by Akash Ganga Para Jump Team and Air Warrior Drill Team was also appreciated by those present, including retired and serving defence officers, civilian dignitaries, service personnel and families.
Speaking on the occasion, the air chief told the cadets that the graduation parade marked a landmark event in their fledgling military careers.
"From this day onwards you will become the custodians of a rich legacy of valour, sacrifice and dedication. We are indebted to our predecessors who endured immense hardships and built this great service on a rock solid foundation. It is now your sacred duty to carry forward this noble mandate and preserve the glorious traditions and strong value system that have become a hallmark of the IAF," he said.
Air Chief Marshal Browne said the AFA would witness an increased intake of trainees from the present 480 to 750 trainees in the coming years.
He said it was incumbent on them to maintain very high standards of professionalism as individuals while ensuring complete cohesion and synergy in their teams.
"You will command immediate compliance and eternal respect from the people under your charge when they see in you – a professionally sound and morally upright leader who has the ability to build and lead the team; even in the face of daunting odds and danger. 
"As you prepare to join your squadrons and units, the key guiding principles that you should imbibe from IAF’s mission statement of ‘People First – Mission Always’ is that while excellence in mission accomplishment is an absolute requirement; it is our people who will prove to be the key enablers for the success of your mission. 
"Therefore, I urge each one of you to devote your time and energy in nurturing and grooming the people under your watch while keeping their training and well-being as the foremost concern. The ‘force multiplier’ effect of a well trained and well equipped team will greatly enhance the effectiveness of any operational plan and will bring with it exponential benefits; even in adverse situations," he said.

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Coast Guard's Inshore Patrol Vessel Rajdhwaj commissioned in Chennai

The Indian Coast Guard Ship Rajdhwaj, a 50 metre long Inshore Patrol Vessel (IPV), was commissioned by Union Minister for Shipping G K Vasan here today.
Indian Coast Guard Director General Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal, Inspector General S P Sharma, Commander Coast Guard Region (East) and other senior dignitaries of the Central and State Governments were present on this occasion. 
The ship is the last in the series of eight IPVs designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata.
The vessel is equipped with advanced and sophisticated navigational and communication sensors and equipment. It is propelled to a maximum speed of 31.5 knots by three MTU 4000 series diesel engines of 2720 KW capacity at 2100 rpm each, coupled with three 71S2 Rolls Royce Kamewa Jets.
At economical speed of 14 knots, it has an endurance of 1500 nautical miles, an official press release said.
The special features of the ship include an Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS), and an indigenously built 30 mm Gun Mount with Fire Control System. The ship is designed to carry one Rigid Inflatable Boat and two Geminis for Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement and Maritime Patrol, the release added.
ICGS “Rajdhwaj”, which is manned by five officers and 30 men under the command of Commandant (JG) V K Parmar, will be based at Kakinada under the administrative and operational control of the Commander, Coast Guard District Headquarters No. 6, Visakhapatnam. 
The ship, on joining the Coast Guard fleet, will enhance the force's capability in furthering its mandate of maritime safety & security, environmental protection and coastal security on the eastern sea board, the release added.

Cyclone Madi to weaken gradually, recurve west-southwestward

The very severe cyclone Madi over southwest and adjoining westcentral 
Bay of Bengal is expected to weaken gradually and move northwards slowly for 24 hours and then recurve towards west-southwest, the India Meteorological Department said today.
In a bulletin issued at 0800 hours today, it said Madi had moved northwards and lay centred at 0530 hours of today near latitude 14.00 N and longitude 84.70 E, about 500 km east-northeast of Chennai and 710 km north-northeast of Trincomalee (Sri Lanka). 
"It would weaken gradually and move northwards slowly for 24 hours and then recurve towards west-southwestward," it said.
The bulletin said that, under the influence of this system, rainfall would occur at a few places over coastal Andhra Pradesh and at isolated places over coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands during the next 48 hours.
Fishermen along and off Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh coasts were advised to be cautious while venturing into sea and not to venture into deep sea.


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