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Tamil Nadu

Air India plane escapes disaster after hitting wall during take-off

A view of the broken outer wall at Tiruchirappalli Airport in Tamil Nadu, on October 12, 2018 after the wheels of an Air India Express flight to Dubai hit it during take-off. (Photo: IANS)
A view of the broken outer wall at Tiruchirappalli Airport in Tamil Nadu, on October 12, 2018 after the wheels of an Air India Express flight to Dubai hit it during take-off. (Photo: IANS)
Passengers and crew on board an Air India Express flight from Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu to Dubai escaped a disaster early on Friday when the aircraft's wheels hit the airport's outer wall while taking off.
 
Although parts of the Boeing B737-800's undercarriage were damaged, the pilots, unaware of the accident, continued to fly until the airport staff informed them about the damage to the plane, which was diverted to Mumbai and landed there four hours later around 5.40 a.m.
 
The flight IX-611, with 130 passengers and six crew, had taken off at around 1.20 a.m.
 
"We informed the pilot about the hit," Trichy Airport Director K. Gunasekaran told IANS on telephone. 
 
"The pilot said nothing was wrong with the plane as the systems were functioning normally. But we found some parts of the plane like an antenna on the ground. Later the flight was diverted to Mumbai," Gunasekaran said.
 
The official said the plane had hit the airport's instrument landing systems.
 
A portion of the nearly five-foot tall compound wall at the Tiruchirappalli Airport was damaged, an airport official told IANS.
 
"The total length of the runway is 8,200 feet. The takeoff point would vary depending on the type of aircraft," he said.
 
Queried about the load carried by the plane and its capacity, he said the details were being collected.
 
Once the aircraft made a safe but emergency landing in Mumbai, the passengers were flown to Dubai in another plane with a fresh set of crew.
 
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Pending investigation, Air India has derostered both Captain D. Ganesh Babu, who has flying experience of 3,600 hours on Boeing 737 including 500 hours as commander, and co-pilot and First Officer Captain Anurag, who has flying experience of around 3,000 hours.
 
Authorities have started a probe into the accident while technicians in Mumbai were examining the damaged aircraft.
 
Tamil Nadu Tourism Minister N. Natarajan visited the Tiruchirappalli Airport and inspected the damage.
 
Commenting on the incident, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said he had recently ordered putting in place a third-party professional organisation to look into various safety aspects at Air India.
 
"In order to have continuous attention towards air safety, I have also ordered concerned officials to put in place a regular 'safety compliance report' of all airlines. Safety of passengers is of paramount importance for us," the Minister said.
 
Prabhu added that aviation "growth can't be at the expense of safety".
 
IANS
 

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Air India diverts flight to Mumbai after freak accident in Tiruchirappalli

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The wheels of an Air India Express flight to Dubai from Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu hit the airport's compound wall while taking off with 136 passengers on Friday. All passengers and crew are safe, an official said.
 
The flight IX-611 which took off at around 1.20 a.m., was then diverted to Mumbai where it made an emergency landing safely around 5.40 a.m. An alternative flight was arranged to take the passengers to Dubai.
 
Air India has taken the pilot and co-pilot off duties pending an investigation and the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has been informed of the incident, the airline tweeted.
 
While the damage to the Boeing B737-800 airplane's wheels is not known, a portion of the nearly five-foot high compound wall at the Tiruchirappalli Airport was damaged, an airport official told IANS.
 
The airport authorities have started a probe into the freak accident while technicians in Mumbai are examining the damaged aircraft.
 
On hearing about the incident Tamil Nadu Tourism Minister N. Natarajan visited the Tiruchirappalli airport and inspected the damage.
 
IANS
 

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Air India flight taking off hits wall in Tiruchirappalli, lands safely in Mumbai

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The wheels of an Air India Express flight to Dubai from Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu hit the airport's compound wall while taking off with 130 passengers on Friday.
 
The flight which took off at around 1.20 a.m., was then diverted to Mumbai where it landed safely.
 
While the damage to the Boeing B737-800 airplane's wheels is not known, a portion of the compound wall has been damaged.
 
Officials at the airport police station told IANS that the compound wall was around five feet.
 
On hearing about the incident Tamil Nadu Tourism Minister N. Natarajan visited the airport and inspected the damage.
 
Tiruchirappalli is about 350 km from here.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Major changes in India govt.’s connect with Overseas Indians in last four years: Kovind

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Visiting Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said that, in the last few years, there had been a major change in the government's approach to expand its reach and connect with the overseas Indian community.
 
“Emotional, cultural, economic and institutional relations between India and Indians settled abroad have become deeper in these years,” Mr Kovind said addressing the Indian community in the Tajikistan capital.
 
“We have started 'Know India-Quiz' for better contact with our people settled abroad. We have instructed our missions that they should be available 24X7 to help the needy.
 
“We believe that our Overseas Indian Community is our key partner to strengthen our international reach. The role of every Indian here is important to spread the message of India. Yes, it is true that we have appointed our ambassadors here, but we consider every Indian here as our cultural ambassador. We believe that you will make our relationship with Tajikistan closer. Next year, we are celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi from January 21 to 23. I invite you all to attend the event.
 
“To our Tajik Friends present here, I want to say that India will continue to give its cooperation to Tajikistan in capacity building and development works. I deeply appreciate the work of teachers, professors and experts of Indian languages and Indology in this country. I am very happy to give Padmashree award to the famous Indologist of Tajikistan Professor Habibullah Rajabov for his contribution to education and literature this year,” he added.
 
He began his speech saying that though it was his first visit to the Central Asian country, he was connected with the Tajik people and their culture in a very special way.
 
“When I was the Governor of Bihar, at that time I had an opportunity to deeply know the humanitarianism of the great Persian poet 'Bedil'. He was born in Patna, the state capital of Bihar. People of Tajikistan like him very much and are very fond of his poetry.
 
“I have been told that the Indian diaspora is not big here, but it is their specialty that they are not only closely mingled among themselves but also with Tajik people. Just now during my welcome ceremony few Tajik and Indian youth have presented a beautiful Indian cultural program. This magnificent presentation is a clear proof of this amity and it has captured my heart.
 
“I am most pleased to see that there is a lot of interest in knowing about Indian culture, language, dance and music in this country. Indian cinema and Bollywood stars are very popular here. If we consider why it is so, perhaps it is because we have similar lifestyles in both the countries, and because of that we understand each other easily,” he added.
 
“There is a lot of cultural similarity between Tajikistan and India. This similarity can be seen in our eating habits, music, attire and language. For centuries, ideas, philosophy, thought, and religion have been exchanged between India and Tajikistan. Tolerant humanitarian traditions have flourished in both countries.
 
The great emperor Kanishka is equally respected here as much as in India. Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism also flourished in this country. Through the 'Silk Route' and through the river valleys and hilly tracts, Tajik art and crafts, commerce and trade have had access to India.
 
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“I am told that a large number of Indian diaspora in this country consists of medical students and professionals. I am happy that you have earned reputation for yourself here with your hard work and integrity. Many of you will soon complete your education here and return to our country, and will  start contributing to our health and wellbeing.
 
"I am glad that you have kept your cultural traditions alive in this country. I have been told that you all celebrate Holi, Diwali, Eid and other Indian festivals here with full gusto and enthusiasm. There was a time when our Indian community was flourishing in Khujand, Panjkand, Samarkand, Bukhara and other great cities on the Silk Route. These cities are not far away from here. Just as you celebrate festivals and fairs today, they would have been celebrating similarly as well,” he added.
 
“Today India is the world's fastest growing major economy, which is growing at a rate of 7.8 percent. Our economic reforms and development-based governance have started showing good results. Within a span of 4 years only, we have electrified more than 18000 villages in remote areas and have provided electricity to every village of India.
 
"With this achievement, India has climbed 73 places to 26th position in World Bank’s list of Access to Electricity. Flagship government programs including 'Make in India', 'Swachh Bharat' 'Start Up India' and 'Digital India', are rapidly moving ahead. Through our 'Ujjwala' program we have made available clean LPG to 50 million households.
 
“We have provided financial assistance to millions of people through our ‘Mudra’ scheme and highest number of beneficiaries have been women in the scheme. Through the International Solar Alliance, we are uniting the world to fight climate change.
 
"Today, a new energy is visible in India. I urge you to seek opportunities in India and in your own way contribute to its economic development, he added.
 
“We are celebrating 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi in the whole world this year. On 2nd October, Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention was held in Delhi in memory of Bapu, in which Tajikistan also participated. I hope all of you will take the message of venerable Bapu, in all the four directions with full zeal.
 
“Our development reflects the new confidence of our country. We have significantly expanded our international relations. Since ages, we have followed 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' and have considered the whole world as our own family.
 
“That is why, we have not only rescued our people, who have been stranded in extreme circumstances or natural calamities, but we have also extended helping hand to other needy people. In the last 4 years, we have been able to safely evacuate more than 90,000 civilians stranded in foreign countries. These include citizens from more than 50 countries,” he added.
 
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#MeToo: Was asked to visit Vairamuthu in hotel, says singer Chinmayi

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Popular singer Chinmayi Sripaada on Monday backed accusations of sexual harassment against veteran Tamil lyricist-poet Vairamuthu by sharing her own story about how she was asked to "cooperate" and visit him in a hotel.
 
After endorsing allegations of sexual harassment against Vairamuthu by several users on Twitter in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Chinmayi shared her own story to corroborate the reports.
 
In a series of tweets, Chinmayi recalled an incident where she alleged that the concert organiser asked her to cooperate and visit Vairamuthu in his hotel room.
 
"Year 2005/2006 maybe. Veezhamattom. An album for Sri Lankan Tamizhs that I had sung in, as had Manikka Vinayagam sir. I don't remember if it was a book or an album release or both now; the performances and launch happened in Switzerland in Bern/Zurich maybe," she tweeted, and added that she returned to Switzerland after the concert with her mother.
 
"Everyone left. Only my mother and I were asked to stay back. The organiser (I don't remember his name) asked me to visit Vairamuthu sir in a hotel in Lucerne," she wrote.
 
Chinmayi added that she was asked to "cooperate". But she refused.
 
"We demanded to be sent back to India. He said 'you won't have a career!' My mother and I both put our foot down, career vendam mannum vendam (don't need career, need self-esteem). Demanded an earlier flight to India and came back."
 
Recalling another incident, which she said happened three or four years ago, Chinmayi alleged that Vairamuthu threatened to make false claims when she turned down his request to sing at an event.
 
"He had a book release function & asked me to sing Tamizh Thaai vaazhthu. I said I would be unable to. He in turn responded I'll tell (a politician) you spoke ill of him on stage, yelled at me and kept the phone down. I bawled," wrote Chinmayi.
 
She went on to write that her work place has been mostly clean save for some bad apples.
 
"In 17 years, not one man in the industry across languages Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Marathi has misbehaved."
 
"I call Vairamuthu sir out alone and I dare," she wrote.
 
She also alleged that the staff of Vairamuthu's office are well aware of his behavior. 
 
"His close confidants know. They are also his enablers," she said.
 
IANS
 

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'Nakkheeran' Gopal arrested after Governor's complaint, set free

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The Tamil Nadu Police suffered en embarrassment as a court freed senior Tamil journalist "Nakkheeran" Gopal, hours after he was arrested on charges of allegedly defaming Governor Banwarilal Purohit.
 
Gopal, 59, was taken into custody at Chennai airport while waiting to fly to Pune on a complaint from Raj Bhavan. 
 
The police slapped him with Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code. which refers to assault on President or Governor to restrain them from exercising their lawful power.
 
As his arrest drew widespread condemnation in the state, Chief Metropolitant Magistrate Gopinath rejected a police request for remand of Gopal.
 
The offending articles published in "Nakkheeran" in May linked the Governor to Nirmala Devi, an Assistant Professor who was arrested for allegedly luring college girls to provide sexual favours to officials of Madurai Kamaraj University.
 
After his arrest at the airport, Gopal was taken to Chintadripet police station and from there to a hospital for medical check-up before being taken to a court.
 
Following the release of Gopal, MDMK leader Vaiko, who had been arrested as he protested outside the police station where Gopal was taken to, was also freed.
 
Gopal's lawyer V. T. Perumal argued that Section 124 cannot be applied as the police could not prove that the Governor and Gopal had ever met and so there could not have been any "assault" -- as defined in the Penal Code.
 
Interestingly, the court heard senior journalist N. Ram of The Hindu Group who submitted that there was no relation to Secton 124 and the case in question.
 
Ram told the judge that if such an arrest was allowed, it would set a dangerous precedent and police all over India would resort to this.
 
And no journalist had been arrested under this section, Ram said.
 
A grateful Gopal later thanked all political leaders who came out in his support. "I bow to the court which has stood for media freedom," he told reporters.
 
The "Nakkheeran" editor said if the Governor had any complaint about the story his magazine had published, he could have issued a rebuttal or taken recourse to other remedies.
 
Vaiko demanded to know why BJP leader H. Raja was not arrested for his derogatory remarks about the judiciary and police.
 
The MDMK leader said Gopal's arrest was an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party to suppress media freedom.
 
DMK President M.K. Stalin accused the Modi government and the Tamil Nadu Governor of enforcing an undeclared Emergency in the state.
 
Stalin earlier said that the state government was subservient to the central government and demanded the withdrawal of all cases filed against Gopal.
 
PMK founder S. Ramadoss said if the articles were defamatory, then defamation cases could be filed. Gopal's arrest was also denounced by actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan.
 
Gopal was once the emissary of the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to negotiate with sandalwood smuggler Veerappan after the latter abducted Kannda star Rajkumar. Like Veerappan, Gopal's handlebar moustache became his trademark.
 
Gopal has also faced several defamation cases filed by the AIADMK government led by the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
 
IANS
 

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IMD warns of heavy rainfall over Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry over next five days

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today forecast heavy rainfall at isolated places over Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over the next five days, with extremely heavy falls likely at some places on Sunday in the two States and Union Territory.
 
The IMD has issued an orange alert for these States for today, tomorrow and Saturday as well as for Monday, which means there is likely to be rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places.
 
For Sunday, October 7, the IMD has issued a red alert, which means there is likely to be rainfall at most places in these States with heavy to very heavy rain and extremely heavy falls at isolated places.
 
The Department has also issued an orange alert for tomorrow and a red alert for Saturday for Lakshadweep Islands. Rainfall is also likely at most places over Lakshadweep Islands today and on October 7 and 8, a press release from IMD said.
 
An orange alert means people and authorities in the area must be prepared, and a red alert means they have to take action.
 
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The IMD has also warned of an intense low pressure system over south-east Arabian Sea and adjoining Lakshadweep and Maldives areas, extending upto middle tropospheric level in the morning of today.
 
Under its influence, a low pressure area is very likely to form over southeast Arabian Sea by tomorrow. It is very likely to concentrate into a depression and move northwestwards during the subsequent 36 hours. It is also very likely to intensify further into a cyclonic storm thereafter and move towards Oman coast.
 
The release said the wind speed would gradually increase over southeast and central Arabian Sea and Lakshadweep area, becoming squally wind with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, from October 6 onwards. It will gradually increase further over this region.
 
The release said the sea condition would become rough to very rough from October 6.
 
Fishermen are advised not to venture into deep sea areas of southeast and central Arabian Sea from October 6 and those out at deep sea have been advised to return to coast before October 6.
 
The weather warning has come at a time when people in the state are yet to recover from the devastating floods -- the worst in a century -- that ravaged most parts of the state in August and claimed more than 480 lives.
 
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Indian Navy's Chetak helicopter makes hard landing at INS Rajali

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A Chetak helicopter of the Indian Navy made a hard landing during a routine training sortie of "Dry Winching" at INS Rajali at Arakkonam, near here, in Tamil Nadu this morning.
 
The incident occurred at about 0904 hours and involved a helicopter with frame number 442, an official press release said.
 
"The station rescue team reached the site within minutes of the incident. The crew is safe and no other casualty has been reported.
 
"The incident is being investigated to ascertain the cause of the hard landing," the release added.
 
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Deterrent action will continue at Pakistan border: Sitharaman

 
Actions against Pakistan at border to continue: Sitharaman
 
 
As the government marks the second anniversary of the surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said that deterrent action against Pakistan "will continue at the border" even as Home Minister Rajnath Singh has claimed that BSF had taken strong action against Pakistani forces at the border "two-three days ago" to avenge the killing of a BSF jawan.
 
"There are intrusions on the border and we are also eliminating a lot of them at the border itself, not allowing them to come in. I believe an action of this kind will deter Pakistan from training and sending in terrorists," she told the media here.
 
"Our action will continue at the border irrespective of whether they have learnt a lesson or not," she added.
 
On Friday, Rajnath Singh, while speaking at a public function in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar, had said that "something big" had happened at the border recently to avenge the death of the Border Security Force (BSF) Head Constable Narender Singh who was killed by the Pakistani forces on September 18 in Ramgarh sector along the International Border.
 
"Something has happened and will also happen in future. I had told my BSF jawans that Pakistan is a neighbour and so you shall not fire the first bullet. But if a bullet comes from their side, then you shall not count how many bullets you fire," Rajnath Singh said.
 
BSF Director General K.K. Sharma, while refusing to giving details of what punitive action the BSF took, said that the force took action at the Line of Control (LoC) to avenge the killing.
 
"If something happens on the IB (International Border), it is not necessary that we immediately take action at the IB itself. We have taken action on the LoC side to avenge the death of our brave soldier.
 
India is observing the second anniversary of the cross-LoC military strikes, commonly called the "surgical strikes", as ‘Parakram Parv', or the celebration of valour.
 
IANS
 

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DMK chief Stalin undergoes minor surgery

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DMK President M. K. Stalin has undergone a minor surgery for removal of cyst from his right thigh, said Apollo Hospitals.
 
In a statement issued here on Thursday the hospital said Stalin was admitted to the hospital late on Wednesday. "He underwent a minor surgical procedure for the removal of a cyst from his right thigh," it said.
 
Stalin would be discharged Thursday later, it added.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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ADB to provide $ 500 m for urban water and sanitation services in Tamil Nadu

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The Board of Directors of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved financing of up to $500 million for a multitranche financing facility (MFF) that will develop climate-resilient water supply, sewerage, and drainage infrastructure in at least 10 cities in Tamil Nadu.
 
“With almost half of the state population living in cities, Tamil Nadu is the most urbanized of India’s large states,” said ADB Senior Urban Development Specialist Ron Slangen. 
 
“Managing this rapid urbanization is essential for sustaining its economic growth and alleviating poverty. The state suffers from recurring droughts and erratic monsoons linked to climate change resulting in severe water scarcity and urban flooding. ADB’s support will help address these complex urban challenges through innovative and climate-resilient investment and deeper institutional support," he said.
 
An ADB press release said that while Tamil Nadu is a more advanced state in India accounting for the second largest contribution to the country's economy, the rapid influx of people to urban areas is putting severe pressure on infrastructure services and threatening the livability and competitiveness of cities. 
 
"Urban service levels remain low, with less than half of households served by piped water, and nearly a third of supplied water lost through aging distribution networks resulting in an intermittent supply of 2 hours per day. Only 42% of households are covered by a sewerage network, with 43% of sewage disposed directly into waterways untreated.
 
"The ADB program will provide direct assistance in these areas as part of its support to the state’s Vision Tamil Nadu 2023 to provide universal access to water and sanitation and to develop world-class cities in high-performing industrial corridors," it said.
 
The release said ADB’s financing will be provided in three tranches between now and March 2022.
 
"It will develop climate-resilient sewerage collection and treatment and drainage systems in 10 cities, and install the country’s first solar-powered sewage treatment plant on a pilot basis. The program will introduce smart water management systems to reduce non-revenue water and strengthen operational efficiency. Around 4 million people will benefit from piped water and sewerage connections and improved drainage. Beyond physical investments, the program will boost institutional capacity, public awareness, and urban governance as part of a comprehensive approach for developing livable cities," the release said.
 
The first tranche of the program amounting to $169 million will target the cities of Chennai, Coimbatore, Rajapalayam, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli, and Vellore. 
 
A $2 million grant from the Asian Clean Energy Fund, established by the Government of Japan, will fund the solar energy pilot project. The Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, and various urban local bodies will provide $766.4 million toward the total program cost. An ADB technical assistance grant of $1 million will accompany the program to support capacity building. The MFF availability period is up to June 30, 2026.
 
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Actor-turned-MLA Karunas arrested in Chennai

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Actor-turned-MLA Karunas was arrested here on Sunday for his alleged derogatory remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and a city police official.
 
Karunas, the leader of the Mukkulathor Puli Padai party, made the alleged remarks on September 16 at a public meeting here. 
 
Pointing out the city police official, Karunas had said that the young official should be counseled by his seniors and also challenged him for a duel.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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TN government decides to recommend release of Gandhi killers

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The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday decided to recommend to Governor Banwarilal Purohit the release of seven convicts serving life term for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said.
 
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister K. Palaniswami.
 
Jayakumar told reporters that the decision was taken after the Supreme Court asked Purohit to consider the mercy petition of A. G. Perarivalan, serving life term for the 1991 assassination of Gandhi, for release under Article 161 of the Constitution.
 
Jayakumar said though the apex court had given its order in the petition filed by Perarivalan, the state government had decided to recommend to the Governor his release as well as six other convicts as they had also sent their mercy petitions.
 
The other six are V. Sriharan alias Murugan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini Sriharan, wife of Sriharan alias Murugan. They include both Indians and Sri Lankans.
 
All seven have been in prison since 1991, the year a woman Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew up Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally near Chennai.
 
Jayakumar said the Supreme Court was the highest court and the cabinet decision was taken based on the basis of its decision.
 
He said the Governor had to agree with the cabinet decision.
 
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was blamed for the assassination of Gandhi. The Sri Lankan military crushed the Tamil Tigers in 2009.
 
IANS
 

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Gutka scam: Chennai ex-police commissioner S. George pleads innocence

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Former Chennai Police Commissioner S. George on Friday said he has not received any money from any gutka manufacturer.
 
The former city police chief told reporters here that at the time when the scam surfaced, it was blown up to prevent him and T. K. Rajendran from becoming the Director General of Police (DGP).
 
However, Rajendran was appointed as the Tamil Nadu DGP.
 
George said he has not received any money from any gutka (a tobacco product banned in Tamil Nadu) manufacturer.
 
Queried about an entry in the diary of the gutka manufacturer A. V.  Madhava Rao listing out the payment of "Rs 15 lakh for Christmas to a former Commissioner of Police", George said someone might have collected the money from the gutka manufacturer falsely saying that it is for him (George).
 
"Entries might have been made in the diary based on someone's statement. Why should an ex-commissioner be paid any money," he asked.
 
He also said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is carrying out a probe based on entries made by a gutka manufacturer.
 
On September 5, the CBI raided the houses of George, DGP Rajendran, Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabaskar, gutka manufacturer Rao and several state and central government officials in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
 
George said his name is not mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the CBI.
 
According to him, there are several layers of hierarchy between the Commissioner of Police and down below. There are about 300 police stations in Chennai. 
 
"Is it possible for a scam to go on just with the blessing of the Commissioner of Police," he asked. There are different levels in the police hierarchy and different periods, he added.
 
He said Deputy Commissioner Jayakumar did not report the illegal gutka operations to his superiors despite knowing and it happening under his jurisdiction.
 
According to George, he held a preliminary inquiry about the gutka scam and had written a letter to the state government to conduct a probe citing the rumours of police officials being involved in the scam.
 
George said as the allegations were against the Commissioner of Police, it was not possible for him to order a probe but there were several agencies that could have been entrusted with the task.
 
He said he did not know why the government did not act on that report.
 
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As to the seizures by CBI after raiding his home, the former commissioner said, the CBI took only the sale deed of his plot bought from the state housing board, certain lease documents and insurance policies.
 
On Thursday, the CBI arrested five persons, including three promoters of gutka manufacturing company Jayam Industries -- Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and Srinivas Rao; Food Safety Department official Senthil Murugan and Central Excise Superintendent N. K.Pandyan.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer Madhava Rao in Tamil Nadu in 2016 for evading about Rs 250 crore tax.
 
A diary was seized from Rao's residence which listed alleged bribes paid to various officials to the tune of about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
The IT Department had sent a report to the Tamil Nadu government about the alleged payoffs to various officials.
 
The state government claimed it did not receive any report from the IT Department. But a copy of the letter sent to the state government by the IT Department was seized from the room occupied by V. K. Sasikala in the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's residence in November 2017.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Despite objections from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two-year extension in 2018 by the AIADMK government.
 
George avoided some media questions and ended the press meet abruptly with his assistants asking him to conclude the meet.
 
IANS

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Consider mercy plea of Rajiv Gandhi's killer, SC tells TN Governor

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The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Tamil Nadu Governor to consider the mercy petition of A.G. Perarivalan, who is serving a life term in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
 
Perarivalan's counsel told a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Naveen Sinha and Justice K.M. Joseph that a decision was yet to be taken on his mercy petition pending for over two years. 
 
He submitted the plea to the Governor on December 30, 2015, saying he had undergone more than 24 years of solitary/single confinement.
 
Perarivalan, among the seven convicts in the case, had sought remission/pardon from the Governor under Article 161 of the Constitution.
 
After the court asked the Centre to take a call on Tamil Nadu's proposal to release the convicts, the central government said on August 10 in its report submitted in the court that it did not agree, holding that setting them free will set a "dangerous precedent".
 
"Releasing the killers of a former Prime Minister will set a very dangerous precedent. The case has been decided by various forums of judiciary and executive and the prisoners do not deserve to be set free," the Centre contended.
 
Releasing them will lead to "international ramifications" by other such criminals in future, it added.
 
The now-vanquished Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka was blamed for the Congress leader's assassination by a suicide bomber at an election rally near Chennai on May 21, 1991.
 
IANS
 

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CBI raids TN Minister, DGP in connection with gutka scam

CBI Headquarters in New Delhi (File photo: IANS)
CBI Headquarters in New Delhi (File photo: IANS)
CBI officials from New Delhi on Wednesday searched the residences of several persons including Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabasker and Director General of Police (DGP) T. K. Rajendran in connection with a multi-crore gutka scam.
 
"Separate CBI teams conducted simultaneous raids at 40 locations in Tamil Nadu early in the morning," Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS in New Delhi.
 
This is the first time a serving DGP's residence in Tamil Nadu has been raided by the CBI.
 
Included in the search list are former Tamil Nadu Minister B. V. Ramanaa and retired Chennai Police Commissioner S. George.
 
The CBI action prompted calls from M. K. Stalin, leader of the main opposition DMK, to Governor Banwarilal Purohit to sack Vijayabaskar and Rajendran if they do not resign on their own.
 
PMK founder S. Ramadoss also demanded the removal of Vijayabaskar and all other raided officials from their posts.
 
Ramadoss said Vijayabaskar's residence and the other places were also raided by the Income Tax department.
 
The CBI in May-end had registered a case in the scam against unknown officials of Central Excise, Tamil Nadu government, Food Safety Department, public servants and private persons on charges of criminal conspiracy and for corruption following a direction of the Madras High Court on April 26. 
 
The agency has been investigating all aspects of the offence of illegal manufacture, import, supply, distribution and sale of gutka and other forms of chewable tobacco which are banned in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
 
In April 2018, the Madras High Court ordered the CBI to probe the multi-crore scam on a petition filed by DMK legislator J. Anbazhagan.
 
"The probe seems to be proceeding on the right track under the CBI. Whether a case will be filed against the scamsters or not will have to be seen," Anbazhagan told IANS. "If no case is filed, then we may have to approach the Madras High Court again."
 
Several political parties had demanded a CBI probe into the issue but the AIADMK government did not agree.
 
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In June 2018, the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case against unnamed government officials in Tamil Nadu based on a first information report (FIR) registered by the CBI in May.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer Madhava Rao in Tamil Nadu in 2016 for evading about Rs 250 crore tax.
 
A diary was seized from Rao's residence which listed alleged bribes paid to various officials amounting to about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
Stalin alleged that the AIADMK government had tried various measures to stall investigation into the scam.
 
The IT department had sent a report to the Tamil Nadu government about the alleged payoffs to various persons. 
 
The state government claimed it did not receive any report from the IT department. But a copy of the letter sent to the state government by the IT department was seized from the room occupied by V.K. Sasikala in the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's residence in November 2017.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Despite objections from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two-year extension in 2018 by the AIADMK government.
 
IANS
 

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Thousands take part in Alagiri rally in Chennai

 
In show of strength, Alagiri leads rally to Karunanidhi memorial
 
 
Thousands took part on Wednesday in a rally organised by expelled DMK leader M.K. Alagiri here but the DMK gave no indication that it was ready to take him back into its fold.
 
Speaking to reporters after offering tributes at M.K. Karunanidhi's memorial at the Marina beach, Alagiri said the aim of the rally was to pay homage to his late father and former Chief Minister.
 
Queried about the dismissal of a DMK member by the party for receiving him at the airport on Tuesday, Alagiri wondered whether the party would dismiss "the 1.5 lakh members who participated in the peace rally" on Wednesday.
 
Several thousands of Alagiri supporters and his family members joined the rally.
 
Alagiri was dismissed from the DMK by Karunanidhi in 2014 for anti-party activities. He was opposed to his younger brother M.K. Stalin becoming the DMK leader.
 
However, after the death of Karunanidhi last month, Alagiri expressed his desire to rejoin the DMK and even said that he would accept Stalin as his leader post admission.
 
But the DMK party has not shown any sign that it will take back Alagiri.
 
On August 27, Alagiri warned in Madurai that if the DMK leadership did not take him back, then its leadership would have to face "consequences". 
 
IANS
 

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Gutka scam: CBI raids residences of TN Minister, DGP

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday raided several places in Tamil Nadu, including the residences of Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabaskar and Director General of Police (DGP) T.K. Rajendran in connection with a gutka scam, said a CBI official.
 
In April, the Madras High Court ordered CBI to probe the multi-crore gutka scam in which Minister Vijayabaskar, DGP Rajendran and several other top police and other state government officials were alleged to be involved.
 
The court ordered the CBI probe on a petition filed by DMK legislator J. Anbazhagan.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu in 2016.
 
A diary was then seized which listed alleged bribe payments made to various officials amounting to about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka -- a tobacco product. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Several political parties had demanded the CBI probe into the scam but the AIADMK government did not agree.
 
In June, the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against unnamed government officials in Tamil Nadu's gutka scam based on the first information report (FIR) registered by the CBI in May.
 
Despite the opposition from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two year extension in 2018.
 
IANS
 

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Finance Commission to visit Tamil Nadu from September 5

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The 15th Finance Commission will visit Tamil Nadu from September 5-8, it was announced today.
 
The Commission led by Chairman N K Singh along with Members Dr Anoop Singh, Dr Ashok Lahiri, Dr Ramesh Chand and Secretary Arvind Mehta will have meetings with the Chief Minister, Ministers and other officials of the state in Chennai.
 
Detailed presentations will be made on the finances of the State Government. Ahead of its meeting with the Chief Minister on September 6, the Commission will meet the economists of the region to understand the macroeconomic issues and some peculiar issues related to southern part of the country in the light of the development trajectory of the region. Tamil Nadu will be the second state in Southern India after Kerala to be visited by the Commission.
 
There will be meetings with the leaders of various political parties, representatives of Trade and Industry, Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions to understand the issues concerning the state. Commission will also undertake field visits in Madurai and pay a visit to the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam memorial in Rameshwaram. Ahead of the visit, the Commission received a briefing on various aspects of its finances and issues related to socio-economic spheres from Accountant General of Tamil Nadu.
 
"While Tamil Nadu has made great strides in its industrial sector development and emerged as a manufacturing hub, inter district disparity in PCI, GST Collections, declining growth of own tax revenue and capital expenditure remain concern," an official press release said.
 
"The State’s contribution to the country’s economic growth is quite impressive and it has shown a great growth potential. The structure of GSDP in Tamil Nadu has been shifting away from agriculture towards industry and services. From 2012-13 to 2016-17, the average share of agriculture and allied sector was 10.9%, industry was 35% and that of services was 54.6%.
 
"State's GDP after a decline in 2015-16 has picked up again, however declining growth rate of own tax revenue in recent years particularly from 2013-14 onwards is a concern. Since 2013-14 due to a combination of factors like slow revenue growth, spurt in exceptional expenditures like UDAY, pay commission award and drastic reduction in central devolution, the State is witnessing revenue deficits.
 
"Its capital expenditure is also low. As per RBI study of state budgets, Tamil Nadu is among the highest borrowing states. Its fiscal deficit stood above 4 % and debt to GDP ratio stands at 22.31% in 2016-17.  Commission will also look into the issues relates to GST collections. Power sector is not fully unbundled in the state. Commission will try to understand the issues related to the implementation of UDAY scheme.
 
"Though Tamil Nadu has done well in economic uplift of the people, Inter district disparity in per capita income (PCI) is evident. 18 out of 32 districts are having lower PCI than the state average PCI (Rs 1,54,375 in 2015-16). Per capita income of the top ranked district is about 2.8 times larger than that of the poorest district.
 
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"While poverty in Tamil Nadu is lower than many states of the country, parts of the state are having high rate of poverty. State intervention is resulting in fast decline in poverty ratios, nearly all of this reduction in the number of families below poverty line comes from rural areas.
 
"Tamil Nadu is one of most urbanised states which throws up the challenges related to urbanization, migration, slums and urban poverty. State has achieved replacement level of population growth therefore increasing population of elderly is a concern. This unique combination of demography and urbanization needs a specific strategy in public expenditure and investment in critical areas in the coming decade if it is to attain its growth potential and provide a model for the rest of India.
 
"The State was doing well on many social parameters like Sex Ratio, institutional delivery, IMR, MMR etc. However, NFHS -4 shows a higher percentage of Anaemia among women and children than All India percentage. In education sector, state is depicting weak learning outcomes as per ASER 2016-17 report, despite having high literacy rates. State has done well in the democratic decentralization to the third tier. 5th State Finance Commission recommendations (2016) are under implementation.
 
"Tamil Nadu has also submitted a detailed memorandum to the Commission for consideration. Commission expects to gain an in-depth understanding of the peculiar issue related to the economic growth and development in Tamil Nadu during its interactions and meetings with the state government," the release added.
 
NNN

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Woman held for shouting slogans against Centre in aircraft

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

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Stalin elected as new DMK president, says BJP should be taught a lesson

M K Stalin
M K Stalin
Moments after his unanimous election as DMK President, M. K. Stalin on Tuesday dispelled notions that his party was leaning towards the BJP by accusing the Modi government of "saffronizing" India and said it should be taught a lesson.
 
He also charged the BJP-led government with trying to destroy the basics of education, art, culture and religion through religious hatred. 
 
In a hard-hitting speech to delegates at the party's General Council, which elected him as the party's second president to succeed his father M. Karunanidhi, who held the post for 49 years, Stalin also hit out at the Centre saying it was painful to note that it was destroying policies of egalitarianism, social justice and rationalist thinking. 
 
"The social and political environment that is prevailing now is a big challenge to the self-respect policies. The basics of education, art, literature and religion are being sought to be destroyed by the central government through religious hatred and on the basis of official power. 
 
"The selection process in judiciary, education and state governors and the Centre's actions are aimed at sabotaging the secular principles," he said, at times overtaken by emotion.
 
Setting two immediate tasks for his party colleagues, he urged them to join him in the fight against the Modi government and also the "spineless" AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu.
 
"Come, teach a lesson to the Modi government that is attempting to saffronize the whole of India. Unite and come to throw out the spineless AIADMK government in the state," he said to thunderous applause from the over 1,300 delegates who had earlier approved his election.
 
Senior party leader Duraimurugan was elected unopposed as Treasurer. 
 
Stalin's attack on the BJP and the central government assumes significance in the context of speculation of late that the DMK may be softening towards the saffron party after it invited BJP President Amit Shah to a memorial meeting to pay homage to Karunanidhi here on Thursday.
 
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Confessing at the outset that he was not like his father and did not have the command of the language like Karunanidhi, the 65-year-old said he would dare to try new things inspired by the late Dravidian legends Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy and C.N. Annadurai. 
 
He said the DMK was a fort founded on four pillars of rationalism, self-respect, social justice and equality. 
 
"But it is painful to see that the (state) government was spineless and without self-respect and the Centre was trying to destroy equality, social justice and rationalistic policies."
 
He charged the AIADMK government with sacrificing people-centric schemes initiated by the DMK and indulging in "daylight loot" of the state.
 
"The first duty of the DMK is to remove these social evils and rescue the state from the hands of these thieves," Stalin said, adding that the biggest danger facing the country now was the existence of political parties without any principles with the single aim of targeting offices of power and pelf.
 
Telling his party colleagues that they would be seeing a 'new Stalin' from now on, he said he dreamt of leading the party treating everyone as equal.
 
"We are not anti-God. Even if we don't believe (in God) we will respect the beliefs of believers. We will act against whoever commits wrongs, including myself," he said.
 
Stalin vowed to fight for restoration of individual right of speech and media freedom, protection of right to hold individual views and oppose parties that attempt to obliterate other languages and view the whole of India on the basis of religion. 
 
"These are not distant dreams but would be put to action just now," he said.
 
The election for party President was necessitated by the death of Karunanidhi on August 7. 
 
DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan, who has been a long-time associate of Karunanidhi and senior to him in age, formally announced Stalin's election, saying 1,307 party officials have proposed and seconded him..
 
Earlier, the General Council condoled the deaths of Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, the anti-Sterlite copper smelter plant protesters killed in police firing in Tuticorin in May and also the victims of the Kerala floods.
 
The meeting passed a resolution demanding Bharat Ratna for Karunanidhi and announcing a grant of Rs 2 lakh for over 200 DMK workers and supporters who died of shock after learning about Karunanidhi's death.
 
IANS
 

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Stalin elected unopposed as DMK President

M K Stalin
M K Stalin
M. K. Stalin on Tuesday was elected as the DMK President unopposed at the party's General Council meeting held here.
 
Stalin, 65, becomes the second President of one of the oldest political party in the country, a post held by his late father and five times Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for 49 years.
 
The election for party President was necessitated after Karunanidhi died here on August 7.
 
DMK General Secretary K.Anbazhagan said that 1,307 party officials seconded Stalin's candidature.
 
Senior leader Duraimurugan was also elected unopposed as the party's Treasurer.
 
The General Council, before announcing the news, condoled the deaths of Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, party cadres who died in shock after hearing of Karunanidhi's death, the anti-Sterlite copper smelter plant protesters who were killed in the police firing in Tuticorin in May and also the victims of the floods in Kerala.
 
IANS
 

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M K Stalin set to become DMK President unopposed

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DMK Working President M. K. Stalin is set to become the party President unopposed as he is the only person who has filed the nomination for that post on Sunday, the last day for filing of nominations, said a party official.
 
Similarly, senior leader Duraimurugan is also set to become the party Treasurer unopposed.
 
Stalin gave his nomination papers to DMK's Organising Secretary R. S. Bharathi.
 
Stalin and Duraimurugan will be formally elected at the General Council meeting to be held here on August 28.
 
Their names were proposed by all the district secretaries of the party, a party official said.
 
On August 20, DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan said in a statement that the General Council would meet at the party headquarters to elect a new President and the Treasurer.
 
Stalin, the Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly, presently holds the posts of Working President and Treasurer in the DMK.
 
The party's Executive Committee has already urged Stalin to take over as the party President.
 
IANS

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Find ways to lower water level in Mullaperiyar Dam: SC to authorities

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Observing that the flood situation in Kerala is "grave", the Supreme Court on Thursday asked disaster management sub committee to sit with the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Friday to bring down the water level in Mullaperiyar Dam "so people do not live in constant fear".
 
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Indu Malhotra also asked the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments to co-operate with the NCMC to provide the displaced people adequate relief immediately.
 
The sub-committee constituted under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act of 2005 may suggest, before any release of water in downstream areas from Mullaperiyar Dam, "what measures can be taken to handle the disaster so that people ultimately do not suffer the catastrophe of the flood".
 
The decisions of the sub-committee regarding the water level of Mullaperiyar Dam will be implemented by Tamil Nadu and Kerala "immediately", said the bench while asking the sub committee to submit the report by Friday before it.
 
The court was hearing a PIL filed seeking directions for management of water in the Mullaperiyar Dam reservoir and announcement of a disaster management plan in relation to the dam.
 
During the hearing, counsel appearing for Kerala government told the bench that water level of the Mullaperiyar Dam should be reduced to 139 feet.
 
On the other hand, Tamil Nadu told the apex court that inflow into Mullaperiyar Dam is 20,000 cusecs and, because of rains, it may not be possible to reduce water level in the dam immediately.
 
"There is limited capacity to release water," the Tamil Nadu government said.
 
The counsel appearing for the Centre contended that the NCMC, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, met on Thursday and assured continued assistance to Kerala.
 
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The case was mentioned before the bench for urgent hearing and it agreed to hear the plea on Thursday itself.
 
The petition filed by a Kerala resident Russel Joy also sought direction for Tamil Nadu to ensure proper management of water release from the Mullaperiyar Dam, so that no harm is caused to people living downstream from the dam.
 
The counsel appearing for Joy argued that about 100 people have lost their lives and more that 1,50,000 people have been rendered homeless due to floods in Kerala.
 
The petitioner's advocate requested the top court for proper coordination between Tamil Nadu and Kerala to ensure protection of life and property of the people living in the downstream of the Mullaperiyar Dam.
 
The plea sought direction to the Central government to convene a meeting of the Committee under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act to ensure high-level preparedness to face any disaster in relation to the Mullaperiyar Dam.
 
Tamil Nadu must ensure proper management of water release from the Mullaperiyar Dam so that no harm is caused to people living downstream from the dam, the plea states.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 witnessed in the states have caused massive destruction, leaving 87 people dead, more than 80,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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India will put man in space for seven days: ISRO Chairman

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For the first time, India's space agency is planning to put an Indian astronaut for seven days in space at a cost less than Rs 10,000 crore as part of its manned mission by 2022, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said on Wednesday.
 
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving the Indian Space Research Organisation the target to be achieved in the next four years, Sivan told IANS: "Our plan is to have a human being in space for seven days and not less than that. 
 
"He will be in a spacecraft, 300-400 km above earth," Sivan said, as he explained that the rocket to be used for the manned mission would be a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-Mk III).
 
He said the first unmanned flight as part of a manned space mission will happen two years from now.
 
"There will be two unmanned space missions before the actual manned space mission," Sivan added.
 
In his Independence Day address to the nation, Modi said: "In space technology, we have dreamt something; our scientists have dreamt something. And I am happy to announce that by 2022, the 75th Independence year, we are planning a manned space mission.
 
"We will put an Indian in space by 2022 or earlier," Modi said.
 
Asked about the first animal flight before the actual manned mission, Sivan said those things have to be discussed.
 
Queried about the target date set by Modi and the steps to be taken by ISRO, Sivan said: "We will have to get a formal approval for the project. The manned mission project cost will be less than Rs 10,000 crore.
 
"We are in the process of developing some of the technologies and already have some. Our idea is to develop everything within India," he added.
 
According to him, ISRO has already tested the crew module and crew escape systems.
 
The space agency on July 5 carried out a successful maiden pad abort test at its spaceport Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh for the safe escape of the crew in an emergency.
 
"The technology is very essential for our manned missions in the future," Sivan had said at an event on July 7.
 
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The critical technology is designed to quickly pull the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.
 
"We are in the process of developing the life support system for the astronaut, space suit and other things. ISRO is doing this with the support of industries," Sivan had said.
 
The ISRO Chairman had then said that the space agency was "not close" to a human spaceflight yet.
 
"We are not close to that. We need to work a lot towards achieving the dream of putting a man in space."
 
According to him, the selection of astronaut to fly the spacecraft would be done by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the spaceflight training would be given overseas.
 
Sivan said ISRO has to set up necessary infrastructural facilities like the control centres for the proposed manned mission.
 
He said Modi's announcement was a big kickstart and as a whole the nation's science and technology sector would benefit.
 
So far, only the US, Russia and China have launched human space flights.
 
IANS
 

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