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Tamil Nadu

IMD warns of more rains in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday

Even as an incessant downpour has disrupted normal life in Chenai and many other parts of Tamil Nadu and claimed more than 70 lives during the past week in the state, the IMD has warned of heavy rains in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema on Tuesday also.

 
Train services disrupted in Chennai following deluge
 
Even as an incessant downpour has disrupted normal life in Chenai and many other parts of Tamil Nadu and claimed more than 70 lives during the past week in the state, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of heavy rains in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema today also.
 
An official press release in New Delhi said the low pressure area now centred over southwest Bay of Bengal adjoining north Tamilnadu-south Andhra Pradesh coasts was continuing to cause heavy to very heavy rain in Tamil Nadu and at isolated places over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, and south interior Karnataka today.
 
The IMD advised fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off the north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh coasts.
 
Strong winds, with speed reaching 35-­45 kmph, gusting to 55 kmph, would prevail along and off Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and south Andhra Pradesh coasts today, it said.
 
The IMD also said heavy rains were likely tomorrow at isolated places over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
 
Heavy to very heavy rains are expected for the next two days also at isolated places over coastal Andhra Pradesh, it added.
 
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The incessant rains have delayed trains running through the state and forced the Railways to cancel some services and reschedule or divert others.
 
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed at various places in the state where water-logging has occurred. The state government has set up relief camps at many places and is distributing food packets to the affected people. Boats were used at some places to move people to safer locations.
 
Schools and colleges have been shut down in many parts of the state.
 
Chief Minister J Jayalalitha, who toured some of the affected areas in the city, has announced Rs. 500 crore for relief and rehabilitation activities.
 
The Tamil Nadu government sought the help of the Army yesterday in the relief oprations and a flood relief column, with six  Boat Assault Universal Type (BAUTS) and two Out Board Motors (OBM), was activated and deployed by 2115 hours from the Garrison Infantry Battalion located at Chennai. 
 
At 0600 hours today, a second column was deployed, the Ministry of Defence said.
 
Both columns carried out relief operations at Tambaram and Mudichur areas in Chennai. Till 1600 hours today, they had rescued approximately 882 civilians and distributed 350 food packets and water bottles. In addition, a medical team has provided first aid and medical assistance to about 200 persons. 
 
Assistance was also provided to two civil hospitals (Miot and Global Hospital) for shifting of patients. 
 
The Indian Air Force has also deployed helicopters for the rescue and relief efforts in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
 
They evacuated people from the affected areas and also air-dropped relief material, including food and water.
 
The helicopters include one Mi-17 V5, two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and two Cheetahs.
 
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Heavy rains likely over south coastal AP, Rayalaseema, TN, Puducherry, Kerala over next four days

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today said a low pressure area was expected to form over southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood by tomorrow and heavy rains were likely at isolated places over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala today. 
 
An official press release said heavy rains would occur tomorrow at isolated places over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
 
Heavy to very heavy rains are expected on Sunday at a few places over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and heavy rains at isolated places over coastal Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. 
 
The IMD said that heavy to very heavy rains would occur at a few places over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Monday, with extremely heavy falls at isolated places.
 
Heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places are also expected over coastal Andhra Pradesh and heavy rains over Rayalaseema, south interior Karnataka and Kerala, it said.
 
On November 17, too, heavy to very heavy rain could occur at a few places over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and coastal Andhra Pradesh, with extremely heavy falls at isolated places, it said.
 
Heavy to very heavy rains are expected at isolated places over Rayalaseema and heavy rains over south interior Karnataka and Kerala, the release added.
 
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Navy’s long range maritime patrol aircraft Boeing P-8I dedicated to nation

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Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dedicated the Boeing P-8I (Poseidon 8 India), the Navy's long-range maritime patrol aircraft, to the nation at a ceremony at INS Rajali at Arakkonam near Chennai this morning.
 
The ceremony was attended by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan, and Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni, among others.
 
Mr. Parrikar, who flew in to INS Rajali on board a Boeing P-8I from Port Blair this morning, described the aircraft as one of the best for surveillance in the world today. 
 
During the flight, he was briefed about the various sensors and other sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment and their capabilities. He said the aircraft would provide the Indian Navy the necessary reach and flexibility to undertake extensive surveillance as also to respond swiftly and effectively to contingencies in its areas of interest. 
 
The Minister complimented the Navy and its air arm for expeditiously inducting and operationalising this force multiplier, which would enable the nation’s Armed Forces to dominate the future battle space. 
 
Taking note of the efforts put in by INS Rajali and its personnel, he  praised the fact that, even in the short phase of trials and testing, the P-8I aircraft had achieved a number of operational milestones which includes participation in the search effort for Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370, the first successful firing of air launched Harpoon Block II missile in the world, torpedo firing and active participation in major naval exercises. 
 
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The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet. Indian Navy became the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft with the conclusion of the nearly $ 2.1 billion contract on January 1, 2009 for a total of eight aircraft. The first aircraft arrived in India on May 15, 2013 and as of date all eight aircraft have been inducted into the Indian Navy and are fully integrated into its operations. 
 
The P-8I aircraft is equipped for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of broad area, maritime and littoral operations. Its communication and sensor suite includes indigenous equipment developed by defence PSUs and private manufacturers. With its high speed and high endurance of about 10 hours, the aircraft is capable of thrusting a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest. 
 
The aircraft are based at INS Rajali, and are operated by Indian Naval Air Squadron 312A under the command of Commander Venkateshwaran Ranganathan. 
 
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Deep depresession over Bay of Bengal to cross TN coast on Monday afternoon: IMD

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The deep depression over southwest Bay of Bengal was expected to cross the north Tamil Nadu coast, to the south of Puducherry, close to Cuddalore, around noon today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
A bulletin issued by IMD at noon today said the deep depression had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 18 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 0830 hours IST of today near latitude 11.6°N and longitude 80.3°E, about 60 km east-southeast of Puducherry and 150 km southeast of Chennai. 
 
"It would move west-northwestwards and cross north Tamil  Nadu coast to the south of Puducherry, close to Cuddalore around noon of today, the 9 th November," it said.
 
The bulletin said rainfall would occur at most places over north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (25 cm or more).
 
It said rainfall would occur at many places over south Tamil Nadu, Rayalseema and south coastal Andhra Pradesh during the next 24 hours, with isolated heavy to very heavy falls, and over coastal  coastal and south interior Karnataka and Kerala during the next 48 hours.
 
Squally wind speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, would prevail along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of south Tamil Nadu coasts during the next 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said the state of sea would be very rough along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of south Tamil Nadu coasts during the next 24 hours.
 
Fishermen were advised not to venture into sea along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of south Tamil Nadu coasts during the next 24 hours.
 
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Depression over Bay of Bengal likely to intensify, cross TN coast on Nov 9

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A depression over southwest Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm and cross the Tamil Nadu coast between Karaikal and Chennai, close to Puducherry, around November 9 night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said today.
 
In a pre-cyclone watch for north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts issued tonight, the IMD said the depression had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1730 hours IST of today near latitude 11.2° N and longitude 82.5° E, about 320 km southeast of Chennai, 300 km east-southeast of Puducherry and 320 km east-northeast of Jaffna (Sri Lanka). 
 
"It would move west-northwestwards, intensify into a deep depression during next 12 hours and subsequently into a cyclonic storm. It would cross north Tamil Nadu coast between Karaikal and Chennai close to Puducherry around 9th night," the bulletin said.
 
The bulletin said rainfall would occur at most places over north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry during the next 12 hours and north Tamil Nadu andPuducherry during the subsequent 36 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (25 cm or more).
 
It said rainfall would occur at many places, with isolated heavy falls, over south and north interior Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours and over south Tamil Nadu, Rayalseema, south coastal Andhra Pradesh, south interior Karnataka and Kerala during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The IMD said squally wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, would prevail along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of south Tamil Nadu coasts during the next 24 hrs. It would increase gradually, becoming 60-70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph, along and off above coasts from tomorrow afternoon.
 
The state of sea would be rough to very rough along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of south Tamil Nadu coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
The bulletin advised fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of south Tamil Nadu coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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NHAI allows 100% divestment in 4-laning project of Ulundurpet–Padalur section of NH-45 in TN

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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has allowed 100% divestment of shareholding of the concessionaire of the four-laning project of the Ulundurpet – Padalur section of national highway (NH)-45 in Tamil Nadu. 
 
This is the first initiative of its kind in which the existing shareholders IJM Trichy (Mauritius) Limited and Shapoorji Pallonji have been permitted to divest their equity in favour of Macquire SBI Infrastructure Investments Pvt. Ltd. and SBI Infrastructure Trust Roads Pvt. Ltd, an official press release said.
 
In order to unlock the capital stuck in the highway sector, the Government had recently permitted 100 per cent equity divestment after two years of completion for all BOT projects. This move was aimed at fast-tracking contracts and implementation of more highway projects in the country by making additional funds available for investment. 
 
The release said the NHAI decision would allow highway developers to invest proceeds from the sale of divested equity in incomplete projects or to retire their debt to financial institutions. 
 
"This will result in physical completion of languishing infrastructure projects. It is expected that large number of developers are likely to be benefited by this opportunity for circulation of funds in infrastructure sector," the release added.
 
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39 injured as four coaches of Chennai-Mangalore Express derail in Tamil Nadu

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At least 35 people suffered injuries when four coaches of the 16859 Chennai-Mangalore Express derailed near Viruthachalam in Tamil Nadu in the early hours of today.
 
Southern Railway officials told NetIndian that one of the injured was in a serious condition while three others with simple injuries were being treated at a nearby hospital. The 35 others had been discharged after first aid, they said.
 
They said the mishap occurred around 2.30 am today at a spot about 250 km from Chennai.
 
The Southern Railway has set up a helpline 044 290 15203 at Egmore station in Chennai, from where the train had originated.
 
The remaining coaches of the train left on its onward journey at 0725 hours, the officials added.
 
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SriLankan Airlines adds three new frequencies from Chennai to Colombo

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SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka, in a time span of four months, has added three new frequencies to Colombo from Chennai, one of its fastest growing markets.
 
A press release from the airline said enhancing the number of flights was aimed at capitalising the increase in passenger traffic from this region. 
 
The additional frequencies have started operating from August 16 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 11:05 hrs. The addition of this flight brings the total frequency of flights between Sri Lanka and India to 89 flights per week. 
 
"This announcement reinforces the significance of the Indian market for SriLankan Airlines, especially Chennai," the release said.
 
Regional Manager for India, Lalith De Silva said, “Last year we had over 225,000 arrivals on SriLankan Airlines from Chennai to Colombo. It is certain that Chennai is our fastest growing market in Southern India. We see the market as a growing and crucial business hub for multi-nationals. The addition in flights is a result of growing passenger traffic from this region.”
 
The airlines’ hub is located at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, providing convenient connections to its global route network of 95 destinations in 44 countries (including code-share operations) in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Far East, North America, Australia and Africa.
 
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Central Excise Intelligence unearths incorrect Cenvat credit of Rs 1200-2500 crore

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The Chennai Zonal Unit of the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence has unearthed incorrect Cenvat credit of Rs 1200-2500 crore vailed by insurance companies engaged in providing motor vehicle insurance policies on the bogus invoices of car dealers.
 
An official press release said the unit had been conducting investigation under summons against 16 insurance companies in this regard.
 
The release said that it was observed during the course of investigation that the car manufacturers entered into agreement with the insurance companies for appointing them as Preferred Car Insurance Companies (PICs) and instruct their car dealers to sell their insurance policies to PICs only. Such PICs pay commission on the value of the insurance policies to the car companies (in the range of 2-3%) and the car dealers (in the range of 15-45%).
 
The release pointed out that Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) rules did not allow any person other than insurance agents and insurance brokers approved by IRDA, to sell vehicle insurance policies. 
 
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"Further the maximum brokerage/commission payable for selling insurance policies is also capped at 10% of the premium. To circumvent these regulations, the insurance companies ask the car dealers to raise invoices to show that the car dealers have provided the insurance companies services such as advertisement, renting of computers and printers, training, arranging customer awareness program, etc.," it said.
 
"As these services were never provided by the car dealers, their invoices are not permissible documents under the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004 and the Service Tax Rules, 1994 for availing Cenvat credit by the Insurance Companies. These facts have been confirmed by the employees of the insurance companies and the car dealers in their voluntary statements. 
 
"The estimated incorrect Cenvat Credit involved in this case is Rs. 1200-2500 crore," the release added.
 
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Modi says handlooms could be a tool to fight poverty

 
Modi launches first National Handloom Day in Chennai
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said handlooms could be a tool to fight poverty in India just as "swadeshi" had become an instrument in the struggle for the country's freedom from British rule.
 
Speaking at the first National Handloom Day celebrations in Chennai, he pointed out that India, whose handicrafts were once in demand across all continents, had not been able to market its handloom products well in recent times.
 
He said that, with the world becoming progressively more aware about the environment and holistic healthcare, there was a need to highlight the eco-friendly aspects of handloom products. 
 
He recalled his appeal on the radio programme "Mann Ki Baat", in October last year, for all households to keep at least one khadi product at home. He said that he had been informed that khadi sales have risen by 60 percent since then. He said a similar effort now had to be made for handloom products. 
 
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He said khadi and handloom products provided the same warmth that mother's love provides. He said that the entire family of a weaver is involved in the creation of a product such as a saree. He said the family makes the saree just as a mother brings up a daughter - and once it is ready, the family bids it farewell, the way a bride is bid farewell after her wedding. 
 
The Prime Minister launched the India Handloom Brand on the occasion. He also presented the Sant Kabir Awards and National Awards. 
 
Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah, Union Minister of State for  Textiles Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and Tamil Nadu Minister for Finance and PWD O. Paneerselvam were present on the occasion. 
 
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Well-known Tamil film music director M. S. Viswanathan passes away

 
Tamil film music composer M. S. Viswanathan passes away
Well-known Tamil film music director M. S. Viswanathan, who was regarded as one of the most versatile and significant film music composers, died here today.
 
He was 87. He is survived by four sons and three daughters. His wife had predeceased him in May 2012. His funeral will be held here tomorrow.
 
Viswanathan was admitted to a local hosptial with breathing difficulties some days ago and passed away at 4.15 am today, sources said.
 
Manayangath Subramanian Viswanathan, who was popularly known as MSV and Mellisai Mannar, had composed music for more than 1700 films in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada. He also acted and sang in many Tamil films.
 
MSV intially composed music for about 90 Tamil films as part fo the Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy duo between 1952 till 1965 before he started working on his own.
 
He sang under his own composition over 500 songs and in addition sang 200 songs composed by other music directors.
 
Born on June 24, 1928 in Palakkad, Kerala, Viswanathan lost his father when he was only four and his mother faced a lot of hardships. As a child, he sold refreshments in a movie theatre for a living. He learned music since early childhood and performed on stage for the first time when he was 13.
 
He wanted to be an actor and singer and managed a few bit roles in plays in the 1940s. Composer and violinist T R Papa met him and arranged a job for him with S. V. Venkataraman's music troupe, where he discovered his love and talent for composing music.
 
He worked for some time with S. M. Subbaiah Naidu and joined  C. R. Subburaman's musical troupe as a harmonium player. There, he met T. K. Ramamoorthy and T. G. Lingappa, the two leading violinists at that time. T. G. Lingappa also became a renowned music composer on his own in the 1950s.
 
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In 1952, after the death of Subburaman, Ramamoorthy and Viswanathan joined together and completed the background music for the films Subburaman was working on, including Devadas, Chandirani and Marumagal. 
 
They were asked to write the music for Panam, a 1952 film produced by A. L. Seenivasan and directed by N. S. Krishnan. Later the duo was asked to do the background score for the film Ratha Kanneer by its music composer C. S. Jayaraman. The duo composed for over 100 films from 1952-1965.
 
The duo separated in 1965 after the release of Ayirathil Oruvan and launched their individual careers. In 1995, after nearly three decades, they got together for the Tamil film Engirundho Vanthan starring Sathyaraj.
 
Apart from composing in several different styles and introducing elements like humming and whistling in film songs, he also encouraged a lot of young singers of those days, including S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Vani Jairam even while contining to work with established artists like P. Susheela, L. R. Eswari and T. M. Soundararajan. 
 
MSV had received many awards during his long and distinguished career, including the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South in 2001.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who condoled the demise of Viswanathan.
 
"The unfortunate demise of Shri MS Viswanathan is a major loss to music lovers. People across generations enjoyed his compositions. When it came to music, Shri MS Viswanathan was always ahead of his time. Condolences to his family and his several admirers," he said
 
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BHEL commissions 500 MW thermal unit in Tamil Nadu

The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the second 500 MW unit at Tuticorin Thermal Power Station (TPS).
 
The first 500 MW unit of the project was commissioned by BHEL on March 10 this year.
 
Tuticorin TPS has been set up by NLC Tamil Nadu Power Limited (NTPL), a joint venture of Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) and Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO). The project is situated near the Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) port on the shore of the Bay of Bengal. 
 
Earlier stages of Tuticorin TPS comprise five units of 210 MW, all installed by BHEL in three phases between 1979 and 1992.
 
Recently, BHEL had commissioned the second unit of NLC’s 250 MW circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) based power plant at Neyveli. The other project being executed by BHEL for NLC is the prestigious, 2x500 MW pulverized lignite fired thermal power plant, also coming up at Neyveli, which is the highest rating set of its kind in the country, a press release from the company added.
 
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Migrant Resource Centre to start functioning in Chennai from June 12

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The Union Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and the government of Tamil Nadu have set up a Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) in Chennai, which will be functional from tomorrow.
 
An official press release said that the MRC would provide to intending migrants and overseas Indian workers, information, guidance, advice and counselling on all aspects of overseas employment including legal and regulatory requirements; documentation and procedures; policies; and problems faced while working aboard.
 
The MRC in Chennai is the fourth such MRC in India set up by MOIA.
 
The release said the MRC would disseminate information on safe and legal migration and about the status of recruiting agents and other service providers; register and respond to complaints/ grievances within the redressal forum of MOIA; and offer counseling support (walk-in or telephone and e-mail support).
 
The first MRC was established by MOIA in 2008 in Kochi, Kerala, followed by fully functional MRCs in Hyderabad (Telengana & Andhra Pradesh), Gurgaon (Haryana) and Chennai (Tamil Nadu).
 
The new MRC is located at Commissionerate of Réhabilitation & Welfare of Non-résident Tamils, Ezhilagam Annex Building, 4th Floor, Beach Road, Chepauk, Chennai-600005, Tamil Nadu.
 
It will be open from 1000hrs to 1700hrs on working days of the week. It can be reached at helpline@owrc.in or by telephone number 1 800  113090.
 
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Search for missing Coast Guard Dornier CG-791 aircraft continues

File photo of an Indian Coast Guard Dornier aircraft
File photo of an Indian Coast Guard Dornier aircraft
Intense and sustained efforts continued today to search for and locate the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) Dornier aircraft CG-791 that went missing with three members of crew on board while on a routine mission over the Bay of Bengl, off the Tamil Nadu coast, on Monday night.
 
An official press release said ICG and Indian Navy ships are continuing round-the-clock efforts to locate the ship in the areas of probability.
 
As many as 12 Coast Guard and Naval Ships, along with patrol boats of the Coastal Security Group, are involved in the search. They include ICGS Sarang, Ameya, Abheek, Rajtarang, C-415, Vighraha, IC-119, IC-120, INS Coradivh, Carnicobar, Khukri and Chetlat. 
 
In addition, Naval submarine INS Sindhudhwaj and survey ship INS Sandhayak equipped with SONAR will be joining the search operation, shortly, for assisting in the underwater search, it said.
 
More than 60 hours of air search has been undertaken by the Coast Guard Dornier and the IN long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft P8I. 
 
"The search area is also being re-appreciated after analysing the reports received from the search units," the release said.
 
Further, aerial search by Coastal Security Group of Tamil Nadu Police using their paramotors will also be undertaken along the marshy and mangrove areas not accessible by sea today. 
 
"Water samples from the area of oil patches reported by ICG Dornier has been sent for analysis," the release added.
 
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The fishing community and the marine police have also been activated to assist in the search.
 
The aircraft had taken off on a routine surveillance sortie over the sea from Chennai and went off the radar at 2123 hours on Monday at 95 nautical miles south off Chennai. The last contact with the aircraft was at 2100 hours on that day.
 
The search area is now upto 70 nautical miles into the sea, extending from Mahabalipuram to Karikal on the Tamil Nadu coast.
 
The crew of the Dornier comprised Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar (Pilot), Comdt M K Soni (Co-pilot) and Dy Comdt Subhash Suresh (Navigator).
 
The missing aircraft was the latest induction in ICG, in 2014, and was being flown by a highly experienced crew.
 
An advisory has been issued to fishermen and merchant ships  to report sighting of the missing aircraft.
 
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Search for missing Dornier aircraft of Coast Guard continues

The search for the Dornier aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard, with three members of crew, that went missing while on a routine mission over the Bay of Bengal, off the Tamil Nadu coast, on Monay night, was intensified on Wednesday, official soures said.

File photo of an Indian Coast Guard Dornier aircraft
File photo of an Indian Coast Guard Dornier aircraft
The search for the Dornier aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), with three members of crew, that went missing while on a routine mission over the Bay of Bengal, off the Tamil Nadu coast, on Monay night, was intensified today, official sources said.
 
"The missing aircraft has not been sighted so far," Ministry of Defence principal spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
The aircraft, which was on a routine surveillance sortie over the sea, off the Chennai coast, when it went off the radar at 2123 hours on Monday at 95 nautical miles south offf Chennai. The last contact with the aircraft was at 2100 hours on that day.
 
Ships of the Coast Guard and the Indian Navy, as well as aircraft, including a P81 long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, are involved in the search and rescue operations for the missing Dornier.
 
The fishing community and the marine police have also been activated to assist in the search.
 
The Indian Navy's survey ship INS Sandhayak, with portable equipped, was rushed to the last known position of the aircraft today.
 
Mr. Kar said one submarine was also deployed to help locating the aircraft. He said two Indian Navy ships capable of underwater detection were being deployed to augment the search.
 
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The search area is now upto 70 nautical miles into the sea, extending from Mahabalipuram to Karikal on the Tamil Nadu coast.
 
The crew of the Dornier comprised Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar (Pilot), Comdt M K Soni (Co-pilot) and Dy Comdt Subhash Suresh (Navigator), Mr Kar said.
 
The missing aircraft was the latest induction in ICG, in 2014, and was being flown by a highly experienced crew.
 
An advisory has been issued to fishermen, merchant ships and the Coastal Security Group of the Tamil Nadu Police to report sighting of the missing aircraft.
 
Meanwhile, Coast Guard Director General Vice-Admiral H C S Bisht visited Chennai today to take stock of the situation and oversee the search efforts.
 
He also met the members of the families of the crew of the missing aircraft.
 
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MFL, MCFL, SPIC units to continue urea production with naphtha as feedstock

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved the continuation of production of urea from Madras Fertilizers Ltd (MFL), Manali, Mangalore Chemical and Fertilizers Limited (MFCL), Mangalore and Southern Petrochemicals Industries Corporation (SPIC), Tuticorin using naphtha as feedstock till availability of gas through gas pipeline or by any other means. 
 
However, the state government concerned, that is Government of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, would be required not to charge VAT or entry tax on the Naptha/FO as decided in the earlier meeting of the CCEA in December 2014, an official press release said.
 
There are only two urea units at Kakinada in the entire Southern region other than these three units. If these three units would have been closed, then the entire requirement of the Southern region would have had to be sourced mainly through imports, it said.
 
"Continuation of operation of these three units would substantially ease the problems of urea supply in Southern states during the ensuing Kharif," it said.
 
The release said the three naphtha-based urea units with an annual capacity of 14.88 lakh metric tonne will cater to the demand in the Southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala (around 22.5 lakh MT per annum) throughout the year. 
 
"The production of urea by these units will ensure timely and adequate availability of urea to farmers of the Southern states and will result in import substitution of urea," it added.
 
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IIT Madras reinstates recognition of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle

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The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM) here has reinstated the recognition of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) , a students' organisation on its campus, more than two weeks after it got embroiled in a major controversy by temporarily derecognizing it.
 
The derecognition had come after an anonymous complaint to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development that members of the APSC were critical of the policies of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and that they sought to spread "hatred" amongst the students.
 
The Ministry had referred the complaint to the institute and sought the comments of its authorities on the issue, after which the institute imposed the ban on the group.
 
The withdrawal of the ban came after a meeting between APSC representatives and IITM officials in Chennai yesterday.
 
"The APSC representatives conveyed their views to the Director; in particular, that the guidelines for independent student bodies was publicised on the website on April 18, 2015, while their meeting took place on April 14th, 2015. After discussions with the Director, he requested them to meet the Dean of Students.
 
"In view of the above, the Dean of Students reinstated the 
recognition of APSC as an independent student body, and after 
consultation with the APSC representatives, recommended Prof. 
Milind Brahme as the Faculty Advisor. Prof. Brahme has consented to advise APSC as required in the guidelines for 
independent student bodies," a statement issued by IITM said yesterday.
 
The statement said the Board of Students, a body of student representatives, met and discussed the issues raised by APSC regarding modifications to, and suggestions for ensuring uniform application of the guidelines for independent student bodies. 
 
"Some of these will be implemented by the Office of Dean (Students), while the Student Affairs Council, Board of Students, and Senate will take up the modifications in due course for consideration as per established procedure. 
 
"APSC and the Dean of Students expressed satisfaction that the 
matter has been closed," the statement added.
 
According to the anonymous complaint against the APSC, the group had distributed "controversial" posters and pamphlets on the campus and tried to create an "atmosphere of hatred" among the students at the institute. The complainant had also enclosed a pamphlet of the study circle which had highlighted a speech by an academician, R. Vivekananda Gopal, criticising the Modi government.
 
"I am directed to forward herewith a copy of anonymous letter alleging serious complaints received from students, IIT-Madras, along with pamphlet issued by Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle on the above mentioned subject and to request that comments of the institute may please be sent to this ministry at an early date," the letter from MHRD to the Director of the Institute, dated May 15, said.
 
According to reports, IIT Madras Dean of Students had on May 22 sent an email to the APSC coordinators informing them that the group had been "derecognized".
 
IITM Dean (Academic Research) K Ramamurthy told journalists at that time that the institute did not curtail freedom of expression of the students but student groups had to adhere to guidelines while conducting their activities.
 
“As per the guidelines in force, students bodies can’t use the name of IIT-Madras or its official entities in any capacity, to publicise their activities or garner support, without official permission. This group has violated the guidelines while conducting their meeting. Normally violation of these guidelines leads to temporary de-recognition pending their presenting their stand to the Board of Students. In the present case also, the same procedure is being followed,” he had said.
 
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Members of the group, however, denied they had violated any guidelines or misued any privileges given by the institute. "We resent the fact that the Dean has derecognized our study circle unilaterally without giving us a fair hearing and an opportunity to represent ourselves," the group wrote to the institute.
 
"So far our activities are engaged with the healthy discussion on socio-economic issues on scientific basis to promote the scientific temper among the student which is allowed by the Indian constitution. We have not been given a satisfactory definition of what entails 'controversial'. Further, we were asked to give assurances that we shall desist from such activities in the future before the Dean (Students) can allow us to restart our activities," it said.
 
The group said it got the impression that only certain kinds of views would be allowed to be expressed and their opinions and voices would be curbed.
 
The group said it did not understand how dissent and criticism of the government's policy amounted to "spreading hatred".
 
"If any person professing an anti-establishment view is accused of engaging in 'controversial' activities and all dissent is stifled, wouldn’t that be a violation of our constitutionally guaranteed rights to freely express ourselves? We feel that a vibrant and proactive civil society is an integral part of a healthy democracy. IITM itself have had many meetings that discussed the policies and legislation’s of the current and previous elected governments," the group said in its letter.
 
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World Bank to provide $400m IBRD loan for TN Sustainable Urban Development Project

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The World Bank will provide IBRD assistance of $ 400 million for the Tamil Nadu Sustainable Urban Development Project.
 
The Loan and Project Agreements in this regard were signed between the Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu and World Bank here yesterday. 
 
The Loan Agreement was signed by Mr Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of Government of lndia and Mr. Onno Ruhl, Country Director, World Bank (lndia) on behalf of the World Bank. 
 
The Project Agreements were signed by Mr. Praveen P. Nair, Deputy Secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department, Government of Tamil Nadu on behalf of the State Government and Ms. Anita Praveen, Principal Secretary/ Chairperson and Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financing Services Ltd. (TNUIFSL) on behalf of TNUIFSL and Tamil Nadu Urban Development Fund. Mr. Ruhl signed both Project Agreements on behalf of the World Bank. 
 
An official press release said the objective of the project is to improve urban services in participating Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in a financially sustainable manner and to pilot improved urban management practices in selected cities. 
 
The total project size is $ 600 million, out of which World Bank support is $ 400 million. 
 
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According to the release, the project consists of the following three main components: 
 
Investment in Urban Services. The project will support improvement in range of urban services, including water, sewerage, municipal solid waste, urban transportation, sewerage management and storm water drainage. The project also envisages creation of a reserve fund to provide credit enhancements for municipal bonds and other market based Loan instruments issued by ULBs. 
 
Result Based Grants for Urban Governance: The project will provide results-based grants to eligible ULBs to implement new urban-management models that strengthen governance and financial sustainability. 
 
Urban Sector Technical Assistance: The project will support strengthening the capacity of ULBs and urban sector officials. 
 
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Bye-elections to be held on June 27 to fill six vacancies in five state legislative asemblies

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The Election Commission today said it would hold bye-elections on June 27 to fill six casual vacancies in the legislative assemblies of Meghalaya, Kerala, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
 
The vacant seats are 59-Chokpot (ST) (Meghalaya), 136-Aruvikkara (Kerala), 13-Pratapgarh (SC) and 46-Surma (SC) (Tripura), 227-Garoth (Madhya Pradesh) and 11-Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar (Tamil Nadu).
 
The notifications for the bye-elections will be issued on June 3 and the last date for filing nominations will be June 10. Counting of votes will be taken up on June 30.
 
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Jayalalithaa to return as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on Saturday

 
Jayalalithaa meets TN Governor to stake claim to form new govt.
 
 
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa will be sworn in again as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu here tomorrow, 11 days after the Karnataka High Court acquittd her in an 18-year-old corruption case and paved the way for her return to the top job in the state.
 
Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah accepted the resignation of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers with effect from the forenoon today and requested him and his Council of Ministers to function until alternative arrangements were made.
 
Later, Ms Jayalalithaa, who was elected as the leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, called on Mr Rosaiah and staked her claim to form the new government.
 
The Governor invited her to form the Ministry at the earliest and requested her to send the list of persons to be appointed as Ministers with their portfolios.
 
A press release from Raj Bhavan said Ms Jayalithaa would be sworn in as Chief Minister at 11 am at the Madras University Centenary Auditorium, along with 28 other Ministers.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa will have to get elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly within six months in keeping with Constitutional requirements.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam will be the Minister of Finance in her government, a position he had held in her previous term, too. He had taken over as Chief Minister on September 29 last year after Ms Jayalalithaa was forced to step down following her conviction in the case by a special court in Bangalore.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 64, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. She was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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On May 11, the Karnataka High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of the special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state. The acquittal meant that Ms Jayalalithaa could return as Chief Minister.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa paid floral tributes at the statue of her mentor and AIADMK founder M. G. Ramachandran on Anna Salai, where hundreds of people gathered to greet her. Hundreds more lined her route and showered marigold on her car.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections last year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state.
 
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Top Kerala Maoist couple arrested by AP police from Coimbatore

 
Police arrest top Kerala Maoist couple, three others in Coimbatore
A top Maoist couple from Kerala, Roopesh and his wife Shyna, who had evaded arrest for more than ten years, were arrested along with three others by the Andhra Pradesh police from a bakery near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu late last night, official sources said.
 
Roopesh, a law graduate who is wanted in 20 criminal cases, his wife and the others were tracked down to a bakery at a village near Coimbatore, where they were having coffee when the police surrounded them, the sources said.
 
They were arrested in a joint operation by the police of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
 
Confirming the arrests, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told journalists here that it was a major breakthrough in the anti-Maoist operations in the Southern states.
He said the police forces of the four states had been working diligently on the cases for many years.
 
He said the arrested persons were making efforts to create chaos and confusion in the Southern states.
 
Mr Chennithala said the Kerala government would try to get the arrested people to the state because most of the cases against them were registered in Kerala. "The law will take its own course. They will be produced in court. After that, we will try to get them," he said.
 
The sources said Roopesh's wife is a former employee of the Kerala High Court. The other three persons held have been identified as Anoop from Kerala, Veeramani from Karnataka and Kannan from Tamil Nadu.
 
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CBI arrests two Central Excise officials in Chennai in bribery case

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had arrested a Superintendent and an Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise, posted at Chennai-I Division, Nandanam, Chennai for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs.11,000 from a businessman.
 
A press release from the agency said the businessman had complained to it that the superintendent had demanded the bribe for himself and the assistant commissioner for handing over the copy of the Accepted General Bond for Rs 20 lakhs, in favour of his firm for procurement of excisable goods for export without payment any excise duty and for issuing of certificate under Form CT-I against the said General Bond.
 
The CBI registered a case and laid a trap and the superintendent was allegedly caught red handed while demanding and accepting the bribe. The assistant commissioner was also arrested, the release said.
 
Searches were conducted at five places which led to the recovery of incriminating documents and cash of about Rs 29.15 lakhs and fixed deposit receipts of about Rs 18.50 lakhs, it said.
 
Both the arrested accused were produced before the Special Judge for CBI Cases, Chennai and remanded to judicial custody, the release added.
 
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Well-known Tamil writer D Jayakanthan passes away

D. Jayakanthan. Photo by Arunankapilan via Wikimedia Commons
D. Jayakanthan. Photo by Arunankapilan via Wikimedia Commons
Well-known Tamil writer D Jayakanthan, who had won both the prestigious Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademi Awards during a long and illustrious career providing a voice to the poor and the downtrodden, passed away here last night after a prolonged illness.
 
He was 81. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.
 
Known for his powerful narrative techniques and apt choice of subjects, Mr Jayakantan was also a noted biographer, critic, journalist, filmmaker and essayist," the Sahitya Akademi said in a condolence message.
 
He had authored more than fifty titles and was honoured by the Government with the Padma Bhushan. He was a Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi and been honoured with the Order of Friendship by the Russian Government.
 
"His voice, throughout his career, was the voice of the poor and oppressed. Mr Jayakanthan's passing away is a huge loss for the literary communities across the country and leaves a void that is very difficult to fill," the Akademi said.
 
Born on April 24, 1934, to a family of agriculturists in Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, Jayakanthan dropped out of school and ran away from home at the age of around 12 to Villupuram, where he grew up under the care of his uncle, who introduced him to Communist ideology and also to the works of Subramanya Bharathi.
 
Later, he started working at the Communist Party of India (CPI) office in Chennai, where he came into contact with many stalwarts of the movement in Tamil Nadu.
 
Later, he was tutored in the language by a Tamil scholar even as he worked in the party's printing press and sold its magazine at street corners in the evenings. He worked in a shoe shop in Thanjavur briefly. Over the years, he was disillusioned with the CPI and briefly served as a member of the Congress party. He edited some newspapers with leanings towards the Congress during this period in the 1960s.
 
Jayakanthan started writing for Tamil magazines in the 1950s and went on to become a prolific writer. He also tried his hand at making films, including one based on his novel, Unnaippol Oruvan, which won an award at the national level.
 
Over the years, Jayakanthan was also recognised as a stirring speaker and came to be considered as one of the most influential writers ever in Tamil literature.
 
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TN announces compensation for those killed in encounter with AP police

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As questions continued to be raised over the gunning down of 20 alleged red sander smugglers by the Andhra Pradesh Police in an encounter in the Chittoor district of the state yesterday, the Tamil Nadu government today announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the next-of-kin of those from the state killed in the incident.
 
According to various sources, 12 of the 20 killed were labourers from the Tamil Nadu and the incident is turning into a feud between the two neighbouring states. 
 
Andhra Pradesh police officials said the policemen had opened fire in self-defence after they came under attack by the smugglers and labourers engaged by them in the Seshachalam forest.
 
The encounters took place at two spots within a kilometre of each other in Chandragiri mandal of Chittoor district, about 500 km from state capital Hyderabad, between 5 am and 6 am yesterday.
 
The police and personnel of the forest department had launched a joint operation in the area on Monday night after receiving inputs that a gang of smugglers had entered the forests and started felling trees.
 
The officials said that more than a hundred smugglers and labourers hired by them had attacked the police with sickles, axes, stones and other sharp-edged weapons.
 
According to the sources, 11 men were killed in the encounter at Pacchinodu Banda and nine near Etagunta.
 
Chittoor District Collector Siddharth Jain has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, official sources said.
 
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam wrote to his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Nara Chandrababu Naidu yesterday, expressing his distress over the incident.
 
"Many of these persons are reportedly from Tiruvannamalai and
Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu. While it is possible that these persons may have been engaged in illegal activities, the occurrence of such high casualties in the operation raises concerns whether the Task Force personnel acted with adequate restraint. Even if the persons had been engaged in illicit tree cutting, efforts could have been made to apprehend them rather than take such drastic action and cause such high casualties," he said.
 
Mr Panneerselvam urged Mr Naidu to order a credible and speedy inquiry into the matter so that the facts are established and responsibility fixed for possible human rights violations.
 
"In case of any human rights violations, it is essential that action is taken against those who caused the deaths and appropriate compensation is paid to the families of the victims," he said.
 
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also issued notices in this regard to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police (DGP) of Andhra Pradesh, taking suo motu cognizance of media reports about the incident.
 
"According to the media reports, the incident took place at Etagunta and Vacchinodu Banda hamlets, in the deep forest in Chandragiri Mandal. From the media reports, it appears that police and forest officials opened fire as the smugglers attacked them with stones, axes and knives," a press release from NHRC said.
 
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"The matter was immediately brought to the notice of NHRC Member Mr. Justice D. Murugesan who is camping in Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the camp sitting of the Commission. He observed that the incident involved a serious violation of human rights of the individuals and the opening of firing cannot be justified on the ground of self defence since it resulted in the loss of lives of 20 persons.
 
"Accordingly, notices have been issued to the Chief Secretary and the DGP of Andhra Pradesh calling for report explaining the act of police and forest officials within two weeks. The matter shall be taken up for hearing in the Camp Sitting of the Commission to be held at Hyderabad on 23rd April, 2015," the release said.
 
The Commission also noted that the incident has taken place at a time when a similar incident was reported from the bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the month of December, 2014 wherein Andhra Pradesh forest officials were seen physically torturing and assaulting a man in a naked position and reports are awaited from concerned authorities and the issue is under consideration of the Commission.
 
The gunning down of the 20 men has also attracted sharp criticism from human rights organisations.
 
Amnesty International India said the killings must be investigated in a swift, thorough, and independent manner and, if they are found to be unlawful, those responsible should be brought to justice.
 
“There must be a criminal investigation to determine whether the police used excessive force, and whether the killings amount to ‘fake encounters’, or staged extrajudicial executions”, said Abhirr VP, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India. 
 
“In many cases the so-called smugglers are poor woodcutters employed by organized gangs,” said Abhirr. “The curbing of red sandalwood smuggling must not be used as an excuse to ignore human rights.”
 
Red sander (scientific name: Pterocarpus santalinus), also known as red sandalwood, has been placed by the IUCN in its Red List for being an endangered species. It is restricted to be southern parts of the Eastern Ghats in India.
 
Occurring in dry deciduous forest, the tree is commercially valuable for its timber and for the extraction of dye, medicine and cosmetics. It is valued for the rich red colour of its wood, which is not aromatic, unlike the Santalum Sandalwood trees that grow natively in South India.
 
Red sander is a light-demanding small tree, growing to 8 metres in height with a trunk 50–150 cm diameter. It is fast-growing when young, reaching 5 metres tall in three years, even on degraded soils. 
 
Furniture made from red sander is expensive and it has been one of the most prized woods for millenia. It is particlarly valued in China, where it is called zitan, and most of the smuggled wood ends up in that country.
 
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Nine dead, one injured as van collides with tanker in Tamil Nadu

 
9 dead, 1 injured in Tamil Nadu road mishap
Nine people died and one person suffered serious injuries when the van they were travelling in collided with a milk tanker in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu in the early hours of today.
 
The victims, all men, were member of the staff at an Arabic college at Pallapatti in Karur district, and were returning after attending the inauguration of a guest house at Kodaikanal, a tourist spot.
 
The head-on collision between the van and the tanker occurred around 1.30 am today near Sempatti in Dindigul district, police said. The tanker was on its way from Thuraiyur in Tiruchirapalli district to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.
 
The injured person is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Madurai, they said.
 
The van was completely mangled in the collision, while the tanker overturned due to the impact and hundreds of litres of milk were spilt on the road.
 
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