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India’s cash crunch making some in Modi’s party anxious | Reuters

By Rupam Jain

NEW DELHI Cash shortages weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s decision to abolish large currency notes are making allies and members of his ruling party anxious, with some distancing themselves from the move ahead of a series of state elections.Modi removed 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, worth around $7.50 and $15 respectively, on Nov. 8, billing it as an attempt to root out corruption, end terror financing and move the country into the age of digital payments.He promised to replace all old bills with enough new currency notes by the end of this month. But his government has struggled to do that, leading to long lines at banks and a slump in economy activity. Nearly 90 percent of transactions in India used to be in cash.Interviews with six lawmakers from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a senior leader of the party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), show his party cadre is starting to worry that the cash crunch could hurt their prospects in several states that go to the polls next year.Some parliamentarians said that while they thought Modi’s decision was good, its execution had been botched and they were faced with constituents who were increasingly upset.”There is no doubt that it is difficult to convince voters that everything will be fine,” said Santosh Gangwar, the junior finance minister who is leading the BJP campaign in Uttar Pradesh.      “Every candidate who will be contesting polls is nervous because they feel people may not vote for the BJP … There is tension and we cannot deny it,” he said.    Of the BJP’s 71 MPs from Uttar Pradesh, 28 have been to BJP President Amit Shah and the finance minister’s office to seek solutions for the cash crunch, said a senior finance ministry official.BJP EXPECTS “BIG VICTORY”

BJP spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao said that despite temporary difficulties, the prime minister continued to enjoy overwhelming support.”Party cadres are highly enthused about a big victory in upcoming elections, and if a few are apprehensive, they will realise the reality soon,” Rao said.    Disquiet within the BJP underscores how Modi’s unprecedented bet is turning into a test of popularity, and could go some way to determining his political future.It has become a central issue in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, where the outcome of elections early next year will be key for Modi’s expected bid for a second term in 2019.    The opposition, led by the Congress party, has joined forces, mocking the government for being ill-prepared for so-called “demonetisation” and blaming it for hardships faced by the poor as a result. It has called for Modi’s resignation.     The senior RSS official said they had counselled Modi days before the move to take time to prepare the ground for such a massive exercise, including setting up two new mints and expanding the banking network, and to roll it out in phases.

    But the prime minister decided to press ahead, and he alone would bear responsibility for its failure or success, the official added.    Earlier this month, N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and a political ally of Modi, abruptly distanced himself from the move.    Modi and senior members of his cabinet defend demonetisation. In an interview with India Today magazine on Thursday, Modi said it would give the economy a boost and provide long-term benefits, including forcing the country’s vast shadow economy into the open.”GRIM SITUATION”

    Modi’s announcement enjoyed popular support at first, with many people prepared to endure hardship as long as others were forced to give up ill-gotten wealth or pay tax.But shortages of new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes have caused tempers to rise as millions queue at banks and ATMs to draw money.    Last week, more than three dozen BJP lawmakers, many of whom came from states that go to polls next year, met with Shah to demand that the government sends more cash to their constituencies, and quickly.     The MPs told Shah about severe cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people, according to several lawmakers who attended the meeting.They told the BJP president that they did not have the courage to hold election rallies at a time when people still had to stand in line, sometimes for hours, to get money. Some said they had not started door-to-door campaigning.    “The situation is grim, and we cannot ignore it,” Jagdambika Pal, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh who attended the meeting, told Reuters. “It is a challenge for every BJP lawmaker to manage the situation, but we cannot do anything if there is no money in the banks.”($1 = 67.9550 rupees) (Additional reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh and Manoj Kumar; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:20 IST

Rumours of dead bodies of Indians piling up in Saudi mortuaries is false: Vikas Swarup

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Ministry described as “completely factually misleading” reports that more than 150 bodies of people from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were lying in various hospitals and mortuaries in Saudi Arabia. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also asserted that there are only about 10 cases that pertain to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.”This report is completely factually misleading. The report refers to 150 bodies from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.In reality, there are only about 10 cases that pertain to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. And the total number of bodies is nowhere near that number,” he said.He was reacting to a report which said at least 150 bodies of residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are piling up at mortuaries in Saudi Arabia for nearly a year with families unable to bring them back to Hyderabad for last rites and the Indian embassy in Riyadh has been of little help.Noting that there are more than 2 million Indians living and working in Saudi Arabia, Swarup said on average, there are 3-4 death cases registered every day on account of natural reasons.Most cases are ‘clear’ cases in which, as per the local norms, it takes around three weeks to send mortal remains even if the documents are in order, the spokesperson added.”In cases of unnatural death, like suicide, murder and industrial accident, and also in those cases wherein the families doubt the circumstances of death, the investigation procedure is very lengthy, causing delay in completion of documentation/transportation of mortal remains,” he said.Swarup further said in some cases, the families demand release of compensation first, before the dispatch of the mortal remains, whereas compensation is a legal process and takes a year.In other cases of delay, DNA samples from the families back home are needed to identify the body and complete the local procedures, he observed.”So at any given time there would be a number of cases, of all categories, being processed. The Embassy proactively follows all death cases on top priority. In fact, NOCs are issued by the Embassy on 24×7 basis.”In the Kafala system (sponsorship) being followed in Saudi Arabia, it is the responsibility of the sponsor to complete the paper-work and dispatch the mortal remains to India. Despite this legal position, the Embassy steps in wherever there are delays in the transportation of mortal remains,” Swarup said.

Demonetization: Comment made by Chandrababu Naidu unexpected, says BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) on Thursday said the critical comment made by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was unexpected as he is a responsible member of the ruling National Democratic Alliance(NDA).”Chandrababu Naidu is a seasoned politician and a responsible NDA partner, any irresponsible statement cannot be made by him. He is one of the first leaders to support the demonetization move and making such statement was not expected of him,” BJP leader Prem Shukla said in Mumbai.Naidu said, “It (demonetization) was not their wish”, but on Wednesday, refuted media reports that he was against demonetization, clarifying that he had only “commented on the lapses in the implementation”.
ALSO READ Breaking my head daily, but unable to find a solution: Naidu’s turnaround on demonetizationNaidu, in a statement, said he had expressed his concern over the suffering of people even after more than one month due to non-availability of currency. “It is very painful to see reports of old people collapsing while waiting at ATM counters,” he said.The Andhra Pradesh chief minister, who heads a 13-member committee appointed by the Central Government to look into demonetization issues, said he repeatedly appealed to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and local bankers to adopt a humanitarian approach to prevent inconvenience to people by delivering more number of small currency notes to rural areas.Stating that cashless and digital banking transaction is the only alternative to end the crisis, Naidu, who is spending more than three-four hours a day monitoring the cash distribution system, asked the officials to think innovatively to address the crisis and to encourage urban people to switch over to mobile-banking transactions and distribute the available small currency to farmers in rural areas to carry out agricultural operations for the current Rabi season.He said that cashless transactions were successfully implemented in all 29,000 fair price shops in the state and the dealers of FP shops were appointed as banking correspondents to solve currency problem in rural areas.Addressing a party function of Telugu Desam Party in Vijayawada on Tuesday, Naidu said, “Demonetization is not our will and wish hence our state people are also facing several problems.”Highlighting the problem faced by the people due to the move, he said people’s income has decreased and the Centre is unable to provide funds. “Income has decreased and findings are also not coming from the Central Government,” said Naidu, who had extended his support to the Prime Minister’s decision to ban high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, as “a moral victory for the TDP”.

Modi’s cash crackdown supporter Chandrababu Naidu shows unease as anger grows among citizens

A leading political ally of Narendra Modi has abruptly distanced himself from the Indian prime minister’s move to scrap high-value banknotes, as broad initial support for the radical monetary reform showed signs of crumbling.

The shift by N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, came six weeks after Modi announced to a stunned nation that he would scrap 86 percent of the cash in circulation.

While Modi remains by far India’s most popular politician, any crack in his authority could have negative implications in state elections next year that will set the tone for his expected bid for a second term in 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Naidu’s regional party is allied to Modi’s nationalists and he heads a central committee set up to find ways to soften the impact on ordinary people of the crackdown against tax evaders, racketeers and bribe takers who rely on so-called “black cash”.

“I am breaking my head daily but we are unable to find a solution to this problem,” Naidu told party workers on Tuesday in the city of Vijayawada.

Modi, announcing the reform on 8 November, cautioned that people would face temporary hardship. He promised to restore normalcy by the end of the year, when a deadline to deposit old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes expires.

His announcement enjoyed popular support at first, with many people prepared to endure hardship as long as others are forced to give up their ill-gotten wealth or pay tax.

But continuing shortages of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes have caused tempers to rise as millions queue at banks and ATMs to draw money. With new Rs 500 notes, worth $7.50, in very short supply it is hard for people to buy necessities because of a shortage of change.

“Modi is now a one-man army, every political ally will blame him if the cash crisis does not come to an end in the next 10 days,” said P. Raja Rao, a political science professor in Hyderabad.

Furious over the lack of cash, mobs attacked six bank branches in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, forcing police to rescue bank staff.

The northern state, home to one in six Indians, is due to hold an election in early 2017 that is increasingly being viewed as a referendum on Modi’s demonetisation drive.

In the last 20 days, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won several local elections in western and northern states. Party officials said the wins were a clear endorsement of the new cash policy.

“Each and every Indian understands the genuine intention behind the bold move. They trust the prime minister and we hope our political allies put an end to their doubts,” said BJP spokesman Siddharth Nath Singh.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 18:24 IST

Comments on demonetization were distorted: Chandrababu Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A day after making critical remarks on demonetization, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday said his comments were “distorted” and that he has been supporting the exercise.He, however, said problems arising in the aftermath of demonetization “continue” as “we are going (about them) in a routine manner”. “We have to take an innovative approach,” he remarked. He heads the panel set up by the Centre to look into issues arising from demonetization. His party- TDP- is part of the NDA government. The 13-member committee would meet again on December 28 to work out solutions to the ongoing problem, he said.”I spoke to (NITI Aayog CEO) Amitabh Kant this morning and asked him to convene the meeting,” he said.He said he had sought a ban on high denomination notes “long ago” and written a letter to the Prime Minister seeking abolition of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes after the recent Income Disclosure Scheme.”I have supported this (demonetization) concept,” he said, inaugurating a two-day conference of district Collectors here. Addressing a workshop of Telugu Desam MPs, legislators and leaders here yesterday, he had said, “demonetization was not our wish but it happened. More than 40 days after demonetization, there are still a lot of problems but yet there appears to be no solution.””I am spending two hours daily to ease the problems caused by demonetization. I am breaking my head daily but we are unable to find a solution to this problem,” he had said.He claimed that his remarks were “distorted by some”. “I am disgusted with the way money is distributed during elections. Why should we spend money in elections? That’s why I wanted a ban on big notes,” Chandrababu said.”In my life, I did not focus on anything as much as I focused on demonetization. I troubled the bankers, RBI and the district Collectors by reviewing the situation for hours every day. But still things did not happen as fast as we wanted,” he said. “There is attitude problem. We could not make use of the available infrastructure and we could not innovate,” he said, referring to the problems being faced by people in the aftermath of note ban.”I am totally pained that we could not distribute welfare pensions on time this month. I was so angry. I gave a warning to the banks and then the RBI acted. From now on, we will distribute pensions physically and not through banks,” the Chief Minister said.He also spoke on other topics like growing number of divorces in the US, the problem of aged population in Japan and of ageing population in China and the advantage India has in terms of “demographic dividend”.

After another flip-flop, Rahul Gandhi compares Modi govt to ‘confused traffic signal’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Modi government is behaving like a “confused” traffic signal exhibiting different colours at the same time, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said on the ‘repeated’ changes in the rules regarding deposit of old currency notes in banks. He posted the picture of a huge traffic signal showing red, yellow, blue and a few other colours at the same time, on Twitter with the caption, “Government orders after demonetisation.”The Congress leader had yesterday likened the repeated changes in the rules to Modi’s changing of “clothes” and had said that the message going out was that the Prime Minister’s words were “hollow”.He was commenting on the new decision of the government under which an amount more than Rs 50,00 in scrapped currency can be deposited only once per account till December 30.Earlier, the Prime Minister, while announcing the demonetization decision on November 8, had said old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes could be deposited in banks till December 30 without any questions asked. Party chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala was equally critical of the latest order, with him giving RBI the sobriquet of “Reverse Bank of India.”In a series of tweets, he said, “Unfortunately, Reserve Bank of India has become ‘Reverse Bank of India’!” Surjewala also posted two cartoons stating “the rules of RBI are like weather, which keeps on changing and therefore, requires hourly bulletins to inform people.” “Daily ‘headline management’ is the norm for Modi Govt.If Ind. owner has a choice to pay in cash or cheque, futile to amend the Wages Act,” he said in response to the government bringing an ordinance to amend the Payment of Wage Act for allowing business and industrial establishments to pay salaries through cheques or by using electronic modes.”2ndly, it reflects massive shortage of currency with Modi Govt. Instead of admitting it, it is forcing daily wage earners to stand in bank queues,” he said.Surjewala also latched on to the remarks of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who after supporting demonetisation initially, did a volte face and said the move has created many troubles for the common man.”AP CM, NDA ally & head of #DeMonetisation Committee is breaking his head over the mess. Do u need more proof Modiji?”, he said.Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was equally caustic.”50 days, 60 rules #DeMonetisation,” he said in a tweet.

Gadchiroli can be naxalfree in five years if other departments give their 100%: Abhinav Deshmukh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What is your biggest challenge?To win people’s confidence and handle sensitivities of my staff which is not only the largest in the state (5,600) but works in most difficult area. In other districts we deal with other crimes. In Gadchiroli, other crimes are almost nil. Here, apart from fighting with the leftwing extremists, we have to engage with the people in different ways. There is a huge gap between administration and people in this area because of inaccessibility. This vacuum was occupied by the naxals. Now, we have to replace the Naxals and occupy that space with better administration.There are around 12,000 police personnel deployed in the district including C-60, CRPF and SRPF. Still the district is faraway from curbing naxalism. Why?South Gadchiroli is still naxal dominated because of hilly forest terrain. Moreover, we share border with naxal affected districts of Chhattisgarh. While we have been focusing on one district with full force, Chhattisgarh police have to look after six districts with naxal dominance.Don’t we have inter-state collaboration to share the information?We do have joint operations and meetings. But naxals are surviving because of jungle and borders. Over 4,000 sq km of Abujhmarh which is spread between Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh offers safe heaven to naxals.What is the total number of naxals active in this district? What strategies are being adopted to make the district naxal-free?There are 205 active naxals now. While Andhra people hold top posts (in CPI-Maoist), those from Maharashtra are only junior members. Our strategy depends on their tactics. Encounters, arrests, surrenders and confidence building among villagers-all are being used.Is there any effect of demonetisation on Naxalism?Post 8 November, 11 naxals have surrendered in the district. Total surrenders this year has been 44. From making up their mind to sending us feelers and leaving the group and reach to us safely, it usually takes around two months to surrender. We will have to wait for another two-three months to assess the impact of demonetisation on naxals.Tribals often complained of police atrocities. How would you justify that?We have told our people to be extra-sensitive. Some cops do behave irrationally sometimes but such incidents could be very few. Besides, naxal supporters run false propaganda against cops as well.What needs to be done to curb naxalism now?We have controlled naxalims considerably. Its time for other departments to put in their efforts to fill the development backlog. Then only we can curb naxalism.But villagers say there is no government department on ground except police.Other departments suffer with staff shortage. Those who are transferred in this district, don’t join. Hence, government schemes are poorly implemented. Now, we are holding camps to disburse loans, make aadhar cards and caste documents of tribals. People expect us to address every problem. Over 30 villages are unelectrified and some are half electrified.Power outage is very common in rainy season when no body turns up to re-connect. Road connectivity is another major issues. Children seek good eduction. We share all these information with the concerned departments.How many years it would take to curb naxalism from this area?With all government departments coming together to give their best, naxal problem can be wiped out from Gadchiroli district within five years. This is an achievable target.

A small dot signalled IMD of severe cyclonic storm Vardah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A small dot marked on the screens of weathermen at the IMD signalled to them that a very severe cyclonic storm was building up in the South Andaman Sea, nine days ahead of the landfall of ‘Vardah’ that ravaged coastal Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The dot on the screen signified pressure movement over a particular area, which had the potential of snowballing into a cyclone.Weathermen at the IMD’s Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) in Delhi, who monitor any slight change in weather patterns around India especially in the cyclone-prone Bay of Bengal, realised on December 3 that a low pressure area was being formed near the South Andaman Sea. The pressure belt had traversed from the South China Sea, flowing over Thailand and Vietnam which had reduced its speed considerably due to its contact with the land.”So, as soon as it reached the South Andman Sea, it again got traction. The warm water in the Indian Ocean and the South Andaman Sea gave it momentum and then started the process of forming a low pressure area. We realised that there was an anti-clockwise pattern, the wind speed around it had increased more than other parts of the sea,” said M Mohapatra, Additional Director General (Services) with the India Meteorological Department, who has been in the business of forecasting cyclones. He was also the head of Cyclone Warning Division during Phailin and Hudhud.September to December is also the time when weathermen at the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD avoid taking leaves. For them, this is cyclone season.Realising that the low pressure area was developing into something stronger, the officials started gathering more data, pressing into service IMD’s two doppler radars at Chennai and Machilipatnam, coastal automatic weather stations and manned observatories, besides its buoys in the sea.Satellite images from INSAT-3D and Met services of Thailand and Malaysia were also used. With constant hourly updates, the data gathered was then coalesced, a usual practise. After analysis and clearance from senior meteorologists, a small dot was marked to track its path.With every passing day, the low pressure area became more intense. On December 6, it turned into a depression and graduated to deep depression the very next day. Since then there was daily monitoring and alert reports being sent to the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, and state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Puducherry and Kerala.It was declared a cyclonic storm on the morning of December 8 and became a severe cyclonic storm on the midnight of December 9. Vardah was finally declared a very severe cyclonic storm on the evening of December 10.

From low pressure area to very severe cyclonic storm: Here’s how IMD tracked Cyclone Vardah

New Delhi: A small dot marked on the screens of weathermen at the IMD signalled to them that a very severe cyclonic storm was building up in the South Andaman Sea, nine days ahead of the landfall of ‘Vardah’ that ravaged coastal Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The dot on the screen signified pressure movement over a particular area, which had the potential of snowballing into a cyclone. Weathermen at the IMD’s Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) in New Delhi, who monitor any slight change in weather patterns around India, especially in the cyclone-prone Bay of Bengal, realised on 3 December that a low pressure area was being formed near the South Andaman Sea.



The pressure belt had traversed from the South China Sea, flowing over Thailand and Vietnam which had reduced its speed considerably due to its contact with the land. “So, as soon as it reached the South Andman Sea, it again got traction. The warm water in the Indian Ocean and the South Andaman Sea gave it momentum and then started the process of forming a low pressure area. We realised that there was an anti-clockwise pattern, the wind speed around it had increased more than other parts of the sea,” said M Mohapatra, Additional Director General (Services) with the India Meteorological Department, who has been in the business of forecasting cyclones. He was also the head of Cyclone Warning Division during Phailin and Hudhud.

September to December is also the time when weathermen at the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD avoid taking leaves. For them, this is cyclone season. Realising that the low pressure area was developing into something stronger, the officials started gathering more data, pressing into service IMD’s two doppler radars at Chennai and Machilipatnam, coastal automatic weather stations and manned observatories, besides its buoys in the sea.

Satellite images from INSAT-3D and Met services of Thailand and Malaysia were also used. With constant hourly updates, the data gathered was then coalesced, a usual practise. After analysis and clearance from senior meteorologists, a small dot was marked to track its path.

With every passing day, the low pressure area became more intense. On 6 December, it turned into a depression and graduated to deep depression the very next day.

Since then there was daily monitoring and alert reports being sent to the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, and state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Puducherry and Kerala.

It was declared a cyclonic storm on the morning of 8 December and became a severe cyclonic storm on the midnight of December 9. Vardah was finally declared a very severe cyclonic storm on the evening of 10 December.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 17:52 IST

Atrocities against SC, ST: BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops list, UP follows

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said, even as the Centre today flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases. Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, according to the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held here today. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years.The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3% of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7% of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction. “In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3%), Gujarat (3.1%), Karnataka (3.5%), Maharashtra (7.6%), Odisha (4.3%), Tamil Nadu (7.5%), Telangana (7.5%) and West Bengal (3%), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases. During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.

Mere development not enough to win election: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Saturday said mere development of the society or nation was not enough to win the election and BJP can never win an election until it pushes forward Hindutva as it’s core agenda.Addressing a gathering in the Ruia College here, he said, “People often say that the governments should focus on developmental works, which should be, but our history says something else. It says that whichever government focused on only development in India could never win the election.”Swamy was here to release the book “Sachchai” written by Shivsena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.”Be it Narasimha Rao who abolished licence raj, Rajiv Gandhi who introduced industrial revolution in the country, Morarji Desai who brought down the prices of rations or N Chandra Babu Naidu, the reformer of Andhra Pradesh…All these people lost in subsequent elections,” Swamy added.”And we should not forget Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji too … who put forth India Shining slogan. Of course India was shining at economic front, but he could not win the election and number of seats were reduced to half,” the BJP leader added.”And this is why I emphasise that developmental works for a government are necessary but not everything,” Swamy said.”We won 2014 election on two basis. Putting forth the Gujarat model of governance and people set aside their caste perception, rose above it and voted for Hindutva. This is why I always moot Hindutva as a core issue to address and govern our country which is predominantly Hindu,” he added.

Supreme court orders ban on liquor shops on State & National Highways across country

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Concerned over 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road mishaps, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered ban on liquor sales on state and national highways across the country.Supreme court bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur directed the order on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways.However, the court said that the liquor shops can operate till the period they were having their licenses. “All existing licences of liquor shops on highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017,” the court said.The court also said that all signages indicating presence of liquor shops will be prohibited on national and state highwaysEarlier, the court also rapped the Centre for not doing anything concrete leading it to “step in”. It has been alleged that despite the recommendation of a committee to ban the sale of alcohol on state and national highway, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were sticking to their prevailing excise policies under which licences were being issued to liquor shops along the highways.”An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour.”India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, it is imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the excise policies of Indian states and Union territories should be amended to conform to the spirit of Article 47 r/w Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” one of the pleas had said.

Cyclone Vardah: Rajnath Singh takes stock of rescue efforts in TN, Andhra Pradesh

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday reviewed the relief operations in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh where cyclone Vardah made landfall, and ordered the Inter-Ministerial Central team be kept ready to be sent to Tamil Nadu immediately on the state government’s request.

Taking stock of the situation in a high level meeting, he “expressed his satisfaction on the preparedness of the Central and State agencies in handling the devastating cyclone which has resulted in minimising casualties”, an official statement said.

The meeting was attended by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Member Secretary, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General of RK Pachnanda and senior Home Ministry officers.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Pachnanda informed the Home Minister about the deployment of his force in the disaster hit states and the relief work done by them.

Eight NDRF teams consisting of 268 rescuers along with 29 boats had been deployed in Tamil Nadu, while three more teams consisting of 108 rescuers along with 15 boats have been sent to Chennai while six teams consisting of 205 rescuers along with 20 boats have been deployed in Andhra Pradesh.

According to the NDRF DG, the force are removing road blocks.

A government statement said a total 297 relief centers had been opened and 104 are in operation in Tamil Nadu as per status report at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

“A total of 13,578 people have been evacuated to shelters and human losses reported 16, hut damages 55, trees fallen 9,154, electrical poles damaged 5,200, transformers damaged 71 and 152 of 312 blocked roads have been cleared,” the statement said.

It said that a total of 59 relief centres were in operation and 10,960 persons have been evacuated from vulnerable or low lying areas in Andhra Pradesh.

In Chittoor, two persons were killed, 391 villages affected, 602 poles fallen, 12 trees uprooted. All uprooted trees have been cleared and lifting of poles is in progress, it further said.

“The system is very likely to continue to move west-sothwestwards and weaken gradually into a well marked low pressure area during next six hours,” it said.

It also added that the flights had also become operational at Chennai Airport since Tuesday morning.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 19:23 IST

Tirupati temple may have to get FSSAI license to serve, make laddus

Soon, your Tirupati laddu may come with a food safety mark. A report published in The Hindu said that the Triumala Tirupati Devasthanam, which runs the renowned temple will have to obtain a license from the Food Safety Association of India (FSSAI).

Suneeti Toteja, director of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a central body which regulates manufacturing, processing, distribution and sale of food in India, has written to the food commissioner of Andhra Pradesh, stating that the temple authority must adhere to the safety standards prescribed the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006.

Tirupati temple. AFPTirupati temple. AFP

Tirupati temple. AFP

Since laddu is a “food” under the act, the temple administration has to buy a license to distribute it, the letter continued. TTD is officially a Food Business Operator (FBO), as per the Act and is bound to follow the safety standards, the letter added.

Toteja letter had come in response to a Right To Information (RTI) application filed with the FSSAI complaining about the alleged unhygienic conditions under which the laddus are made by the TTD, the board which runs the renowned temple, The Hindu report said. Bengaluru-based T Narasimhamurthy had submitted the application.

According to food safety act, only those wearing clean clothes and not suffering from any kind of infections shall be allowed to manufacture and pack food, a Bangalore Mirror report stated. Narasimhamurthy has said that the laddus must have a expiry date, while a bill must be provided when it is purchased.

The Tirupati laddu has a 300-year history behind it, and is believed to have been invented in the 18th century. The laddu, offered to devotees as prasadam, is known for its unique taste, the tabloid added.

However, according to latest reports, the TTD has refused entry to food inspectors on the grounds that the temple kitchen is an auspicious place. The board also refused to consider the laddu as a food, since it believed devotees cannot be considered customers.

Narasimhamurthy is waiting for a reply from the food inspectors regarding the hygiene conditions in the kitchen.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 16:58 IST

PV Narasimha Rao’s son Rajeswara Rao passes away

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao’s son and former MP PV Rajeswara Rao passed away in Hyderabad on Monday. He was 73. Rao had been suffering from heart-related complaint and he passed away at around 4 PM on Monday at a private hospital in Hyderabad, his nephew and Telangana BJP spokesperson NV Subhash said.Rajeswara Rao was Congress MP from Secunderabad here during the 1990s. He was also an accomplished singer and shuttle badminton player. Condoling the death of Rajeswara Rao, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao recalled his association with him.The departed leader had deep interest in public service, music and literature, the Chief Minister said, according to a release from his office. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also mourned Rajeswara Rao’s demise. Chandrababu, in a message, extended his condolences to the bereaved family.YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy too expressed grief over Rajeswara Rao’s death. “Rao was active in literary and cultural fields,” Jagan recalled in a statement.

Cyclone batters south India coast killing four | Reuters

CHENNAI, India A cyclone barreled into the southeast coast of India on Monday, killing at least four people and bringing down trees and power lines as authorities moved tens of thousands of people from low-lying areas.Cyclone Vardah moved west over the Bay of Bengal before hitting Chennai, capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, as well as neighboring Andhra Pradesh, the Indian Meteorological Department said, describing it as a “very severe storm”.Strong wind of up to 140 kph (87 mph) battered the densely populated coast, uprooting trees and bringing down electricity pylons. Flights at Chennai airport were canceled, railway services in the area suspended and schools and colleges were closed.Chennai is home to Indian operations of major auto firms such as Ford Motor, Daimler, Hyundai and Nissan. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said Vardah is passing over Chennai, drenching the city in heavy rain, but is expected to ease in intensity later.

“Winds and rains might still intensify. Do not venture out,” the NDMA said on Twitter, adding that four people had been killed. More than 23,000 people in Tamil Nadu have been moved to relief centers, with plans for tens of thousands more to be evacuated if needed, a senior state official, K. Satyagopal, told Reuters.

More than 10,000 people from two districts in Andhra Pradesh state had also been moved, its disaster management commissioner, M.V. Seshagiri Babu, said.The NDMA warned fishermen not to venture out to sea for the next 36 hours, and urged residents to stay in safe places.Navy ships and aircraft, as well as 30 diving teams, were on standby to help move people and deliver aid if needed, a navy spokesman said.

India’s cyclone season usually runs from April to December, with storms often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people and widespread damage to crops and property.Wind speeds topped 300 km per hour (186 mph) in an Indian “super-cyclone” that killed 10,000 people in 1999, while a cyclone packing speeds of more than 200 kph (124 mph) lashed the east coast in 2013. (Reporting by Jatindra Dash, Tommy Wilkes and Anuradha Nagaraj; Editing by Catherine Evans)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 21:10 IST

Cyclone Vardah batters south India coast killing four | Reuters

CHENNAI, India A cyclone barrelled into the southeast coast of India on Monday, killing at least four people and bringing down trees and power lines as authorities moved tens of thousands of people from low-lying areas.Cyclone Vardah moved west over the Bay of Bengal before hitting Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu, as well as neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the Indian Meteorological Department said, describing it as a “very severe storm”.Strong wind of up to 140 kph (87 mph) battered the densely populated coast, uprooting trees and bringing down electricity pylons. Flights at Chennai airport were cancelled, railway services in the area suspended and schools and colleges were closed.Chennai is home to Indian operations of major auto firms such as Ford Motor, Daimler, Hyundai and Nissan. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said Vardah is passing over Chennai, drenching the city in heavy rain, but is expected to ease in intensity later.

“Winds and rains might still intensify. Do not venture out,” the NDMA said on Twitter, adding that four people had been killed. More than 23,000 people in Tamil Nadu have been moved to relief centres, with plans for tens of thousands more to be evacuated if needed, a senior state official, K. Satyagopal, told Reuters.

More than 10,000 people from two districts in Andhra Pradesh had also been moved, its disaster management commissioner, M.V. Seshagiri Babu, said.The NDMA warned fishermen not to venture out to sea for the next 36 hours, and urged residents to stay in safe places.Navy ships and aircraft, as well as 30 diving teams, were on standby to help move people and deliver aid if needed, a navy spokesman said.

India’s cyclone season usually runs from April to December, with storms often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people and widespread damage to crops and property.Wind speeds topped 300 km per hour (186 mph) in an Indian “super-cyclone” that killed 10,000 people in 1999, while a cyclone packing speeds of more than 200 kph (124 mph) lashed the east coast in 2013. (Reporting by Jatindra Dash, Tommy Wilkes and Anuradha Nagaraj; Editing by Catherine Evans)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 21:10 IST

As Cyclone Vardah made landfall, here’s the list of cyclones that have struck India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Cyclone Vardah has made an appearance and a landfall in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, here are a list of previous cyclones that have struck India.Cyclone LailaIn 2010, after a gap of two decades the south-eastern part of India was hit by two “severe” cyclones within a gap a few months,. The first being Cyclone Laila which entered along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Total deaths in Sri Lanka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu amounting to 65 and cost of damage reached a total of US $117.49 million. Fishermen, who set out in about a 100 boats, were lost at sea, according to fisheries department sources.Cyclone JalFollowing Cyclone Laila, Cyclone Jal formed in the Pacific Ocean on October 31. Torrential rains poured in Thailand causing extensive flooding which led to the demise of 59 people and similarly claimed four more lives in Malaysia. Subsequently, Jal proceeded towards Andhra Pradesh where, through timely warnings. 70,000 people were evacuated from villages where damage was expected to be the highest. On November 9, the CM of the state declared 54 people dead due to the storm. The Centre then promised 20 kilograms of rice and five litres of kerosene to each family in flood-affected areas with Rs 2 lakhs also to be given as compensation to the families of the victims. The total damage estimated by the Indian government was US $53.55 million with Visakhapatnam district suffering a damage of US $18.53 million, Nellore district suffering a damage of US $22.59 million and Prakasam district suffering a damage of US $12.43 million.Cyclone Phailin Originating and named in Vietnam, Cyclone Phailin was a cyclone of matched magnitude to hit the peninsula in October 2013. The cyclone hit Andhra Pradesh and resulted in the evacuation of 64,000 people from low-lying areas. A total of 134,426 people were eventually evacuated. Power and communication lines went down across the district. With one casualty, the damage amounted to US $8.1 million in Andhra Pradesh alone. Other affected states like Odisha, Jharkhand and neighbouring states recorded losses upto US $688 million. Odisha recorded the casualties to be 44 people dying due to storm related accidents.Cyclone HudhudThe last time a cyclone of Vardah’s scale breached from the Bay of Bengal was in October 2014 when Cyclone Hudhud originated from the Andaman Islands and snowballed into a category IV cyclone, being dubbed as “Extremely Severe.” It proceeded to hit the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha. The estimated damages were approximated to a total of US $3.4 billion. Death toll due to the cyclone hit 124. Unlike most Bay of Bengal storms that dissipate quickly over land, Hudhud has been the only tropical cyclone whose remnant ever reached as far north as the Himalayas. The cyclone further proceeded up north to trigger an avalanche in Nepal. Prime Minister Modi announced of October 15 that US $136 million was to be awarded as aid for affected areas in Andhra Pradesh.Cyclone NadaMore recently, Cyclone Nada appeared to threaten the peninsula in late November 2016. However, as the states geared up, the cyclone seemed to fizzle out with its landfall in Tamil Nadu. Heavy winds were encountered, however. Schools were shut for two days to acts as storm shelters for the citizens. Unfortunately, 12 deaths were still recorded related to the storm. Turning from “very severe” to “severe”, Cyclone Vardah has breached Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. With its landfall, the cyclone is currently at category 1 strength and is expected to weaken with sustained winds of 80 to 90 kmph.Schools have been closed and India’s labour department has issued an advisory, requesting companies to allow employees to work from their homes. Fishermen too, have been advised to stay away from waters. In addition, the agricultural sector has been hit severely with widespread destruction of banana plantations, papaya groves and rice paddies.

Cyclone Vardah inspires Rajinikanth memes: Storm is superstar ‘blowing out birthday candles’

Cyclone Vardah inspires Rajinikanth memes: Storm is superstar ‘blowing out birthday candles’

While coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are experiencing heavy rainfall due to Cyclone Vardah, there are some who seem to have found humour in the situation — especially since the storm has coincided with the birthday of superstar Rajinikanth. Thailavaa (as Rajini is fondly called) turns 66 today and the cyclone-related birthday wishes for the actor just won’t stop.

The most popular meme seems to be that Cyclone Vardah is nothing but a result of Rajini blowing out his birthday candles. Clearly, Thailavaa’s fans seem to be on a different tangent altogether while the Tamil Nadu government has asked people not to step out of their houses till Monday evening at the very least.

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: Storm moves closer to Chennai coast; winds clock 100 kmph

So while businesses come to a halt, as does routine life, the Rajinikanth-Vardah jokes continue unabated.

Cyclone Vardah: Heavy rains hit Tamil Nadu coastal districts, high winds uprooot many trees

Cyclone Vardah disrupts normal life in Chennai, rail and flight services delayed

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 14:56 IST

Precautions taken for safety of Kalpakkam nuclear power plant: NDMA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has taken all precautions for the safety of Kalpakkam nuclear power plant as Tamil Nadu faces a severe cyclonic storm Vardah on Monday.”All precautions are taken at nuclear plant Kalpakkam to face Vardah. So far all is well and plant operation is normal. The plant is in touch with the India Meteorological Department,” the National Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.Kalpakkam is in Kancheepuram, which along with Chennai, Tiruvallur and Villupuram in northern Tamil Nadu, has been pounded by heavy rainfall and high velocity winds.The Nuclear power Corporation of India-run power plant has two operational units which produces 440 MW power while another plant of 500 MW is undergoing construction.The wind speed of cyclone Vardah reached 110-120 kmph as the landfall process began.People are advised to remain in safe places and cooperate with state government officials and disaster management agencies, the NDMA said.As many as 19 team of National Disaster Response Force (one team comprises of 35 personnel) have been deployed in coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to deal with any situation arising out of the cyclone’s landfall.Fishermen are advised not to venture into sea along and off south Andhra Pradesh, north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts during next two days.So far 7,354 people from Tamil Nadu living in areas of possible landfall have been shifted to safer places and kept in 54 relief centres.

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: Winds clock 100 kmph; 7,357 people evacuated to 54 relief centres

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: Winds clock 100 kmph; 7,357 people evacuated to 54 relief centres


By Updated: Dec 12, 2016 13:45 IST

Dec 12, 2016

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New Delhi: Cyclonic storm Vardah, which was earlier expected to weaken considerably, may not see its intensity going down when it makes landfall near Chennai on Monday. According to the Cyclone Warning Division of the India Meteorological Department, (IMD), Vardah, which is currently, a very severe cyclonic storm, will weaken, but only to a severe cyclonic storm.

Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The earlier forecast made by the IMD was that it would weaken into a cyclonic storm, thereby reducing its intensity considerably. At 9.30 am, the cyclone was lay centered around 105 kms east-northeast of Chennai.

By the time it makes a landfall, its wind speed is expected to be 100-110 kilometres per hours with winds gusting up to 120 kmph. The wind speed during a very severe cyclonic storm is 120 to 130 kmph. In a severe cyclonic storm the wind speed is somewhere between 110 to 80 kilometres per hour. One of the major reasons for destruction in any cyclone is the wind velocity, apart from heavy to heavy rains and flooding.

Rainfall at most places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry is very likely during 36 hrs. The rainfall intensity will increase gradually becoming heavy to very heavy rainfall (7-19 cm) at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (20 centimetres) over Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh on 12 December, the IMD said.

Tidal wave of about one metre height above the astronomical tide is very likely to inundate the low lying areas of Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh during the time of landfall.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 12:58 IST

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Cyclone Vardah: NDMA shares do’s and don’ts, safety tips

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are on high alert as the severe cyclonic storm Vardah over west central and adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal moved further nearly west-southwest-wards and lay centred at about 180 km east-northeast of Chennai and 250 km east-southeast of Nellore according to Cyclone Warning Centre in Visakhapatnam. As the cyclone advances, people have been asked to stay indoors as a precautionary measure. Educational institutions in four districts will remain closed for today.The system is very likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually while moving towards north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts. It is very likely to cross north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts, close to Chennai as a cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 80 to 90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph by Monday afternoon. The National Disaster Management Authority has issued the following guidelines to help people get through the cyclone.NDMA’s cyclone advisoryHelplines

DNA Morning Must Reads: Latest on Cyclone Vardah, GST, ‘Raees’ release & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cyclone Vardah: Tamil Nadu announces holiday for schools in 4 districts, Andhra Pradesh braces for impactSevere cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’ will make a landfall between north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh on Monday with both the coastal states putting in place a number of measures to deal with it and TN announcing holiday for all educational institutions in four districts. Read moreDemonetization leaves a trust deficit, consensus eludes GSTWith the trust between the government and the Opposition parties at a low ebb, thanks to feud over demonetization, the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) seems to be headed for a delay, that could well see it missing the April 1, 2017 deadline. Read moreAmerican connection in Indian Islamic State modulesAn emerging American link has come to light in the investigation of the Islamic State inspired terror cases with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) identifying a key recruiter. Read moreCyrus Mistry misled us to become chairman: TataTata Sons on Sunday said the committee that selected Cyrus Mistry as chairman was misled in its choice by Mistry’s statements and commitments for the Tata Group. Read more’Raees’: Pak actress Mahira Khan won’t promote film, Shah Rukh Khan tells MNS chief Raj ThackerayBollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan on Sunday met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray at his residence in Mumbai. The meeting, that took place in the evening, assumes significance as Khan’s upcoming film Raees, which features Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, is scheduled for a release next month, party sources said. Read details

Name of cyclone ‘Vardah’ given by Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The name of severe cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’, which at present lays over the Bay of Bengal, has been given by Pakistan.’Vardah’, which means ‘red rose’, is expected to hit northern Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh by Monday.By the time it makes landfall, its intensity is expected to reduce considerably.Name of cyclones in the Indian Ocean Region are decided by member countries — India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, Maldives and Oman. The last cyclone that hit Chennai was ‘Nada’, a name suggested by Oman.

Cyclone Vardah: Tamil Nadu announces holiday for schools in 4 districts, Andhra Pradesh braces for impact

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Severe cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’ will make a landfall between north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh on Monday with both the coastal states putting in place a number of measures to deal with it and TN announcing holiday for all educational institutions in four districts.The Regional Meteorological Centre said ‘Vardah’ lay centred at 330 km east of Chennai at 1430 hours on Sunday and would move westwards before making landfall between north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts on Monday afternoon.Under its impact, rains will start on Sunday night and gradually increase on Monday in the northern districts of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram, S Balachandran, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, said.On December 12, heavy to very heavy rains were likely in some places in these districts, he said, adding, strong winds could gust upto 80-90 kph.The sea would be rough, he said and asked fishermen to not to venture into the sea for the next 48 hours.Chief Minister O Panneerselvam held a meeting of the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority which also asked the armed forces to be on standby.”They should take necessary steps for ensuring the safety of their students especially hostel inmates and their water and food requirements,” an official release, detailing the discussions the Chief Minister had with his senior officials including Chief Secretary B Ramamohana Rao, said.Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu reviewed the situation through a teleconference with Collectors and top officials this evening. He directed them to be alert and undertake necessary rescue and relief efforts in view of the cyclone threat. Food and other essential commodities should be kept ready in adequate quantities, he said.”Take all steps to prevent loss of lives and to minimise damages to crops and properties,” Naidu told the officials.Tamil Nadu Government also asked private establishments and undertakings in these districts besides coastal taluks of Villupuram to allow their staff avail holiday or work from home.Panneerselvam gave instructions for appointment of senior IAS officers as monitoring officers for these districts to oversee and monitor cyclone related works in coordination with the District Collectors, the release said. “Arrangements to be made for evacuating people in low lying and vulnerable areas. Relief centres to be kept in readiness along with necessary food, water and other arrangements. Army, Navy, Air-force and Coast Guard have been alerted to be on standby for deployment as and when necessary,” it said.One team of NDRF comprising around 40 personnel has been pre-positioned in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore, one in Tada, one in Salurupeta, one in Oongle, and one in Chitpore district.In addition, another team is moving to Salurupeta while teams are on standby in Guntur and Hyderabad.Three NDRF teams were pre-positioned in Chennai, two in Tamil Nadu’s in Tiruvalur, one in Mahabalipuram.Sources said another team is on its way to Chennai while one team has been out on stand by at Arakkonam.

Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh brace to deal with Vardah as it makes landfall near Chennai tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Severe cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’ over the Bay of Bengal will make landfall near Chennai on Monday, the weather office said on Sunday, as the coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh brace to deal with it. The system is expected to bring heavy rainfall in coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, and southern Andhra Pradesh. “Vardah lay centred at about 440 km east of Chennai (at 0830 hrs today) and the system is expected to move westwards and cross Chennai by December 12 afternoon,” S Balachandran, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, said in Chennai.However, its intensity will get reduced considerably by the time it makes the landfall. The MeT office in Delhi has briefed the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat on the cyclonic storm. KJ Ramesh, Director General of the IMD said, “I have personally spoken to chief secretaries of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, while the regional MeT offices are in constant touch with the Disaster Management Commissioners of these two states.”Meanwhile, the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) at Chennai said the storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall in northern coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, including the capital city. Southern Andhra Pradesh is also expected to receive heavy showers. Wind speed would be in the order of 40-50 kph, it said. Isolated heavy to very heavy rain is likely to commence this evening in north Coastal Tamil Nadu and Puduchery and Southern Andhra Pradesh, the RMC said in its weather warning put on its website.
ALSO READ Cyclone Vardah to cross south coast of Andhra, Met dept issues alert for fishermenSqually winds and rough to very rough sea conditions are expected along and off Andhra Pradesh, north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts from Sunday night, it said. “Storm surge of about 1 metre above astronomical tide is expected at the time of landfall,” the RMC said.IMD said it may cause damage to thatched huts and power and communication lines. The damage may also be caused to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards in Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu; Ongole and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry, the IMD said in its advisory.
ALSO READ Cyclone Vardah to cross Bay of Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on alertIt also urged fishermen in Tamil Nadu, Puduchery and Andhra Pradesh coasts to keep away from the seas for the next 48 hours. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said NDRF teams have been deployed in Tamil Nadu on account of the cyclonic storm. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, each consisting of 38 rescuers, have been deployed in Chennai, Tiruvallore and Kancheepuram, the force said on its official Twitter handle. The teams have also been deployed at Nellore, Sulurpeta, Parkasham and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, it tweeted.The force has also asked people to get information from TV and radio on the cyclone and advised them to keep a stock of dry fruits and keep their mobile phones charged. Cyclone Nada, which later weakened, had made a landfall near Chennai in the first week of December, bringing much- needed showers in Tamil Nadu. The state has witnessed a below normal Southwest Monsoon as well as Northeast Monsoon, a phenomenon which brings rains in some parts of southern India, especially Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Cyclone Vardah to cross Bay of Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on alert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With severe cyclone Vardah expected to cross the Bay of Bengal coast in the next two days, the Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday placed the administrative machinery in SPS Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts on high alert to meet any eventuality. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu conducted a teleconference with officials of different departments this morning and directed them to take all precautionary measures. “I have cancelled my trip to the Gulf (scheduled to begin tomorrow). I will constantly monitor the situation,” he told the officials.The cyclone is currently 840 km south-southeast of Vishakhapatnam. The sea continued to be very rough around the Andhra coast, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. It moved west-northwestwards in the past few hours at the speed of 17 kmph. The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards and intensify further during the next 24 hours, the NDMA said. “The cyclonic storm is very likely to maintain its peak intensity up to evening of December 11, 2016,” NDMA added.According to the weather forecast, the cyclone may make a landfall somewhere between Kavali and Machilipatnam and under its impact rainfall is likely in the south coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. “Keep adequate stocks of food and also cash. Electricity poles and cement should also be kept ready for any emergency,” the Chief Minister directed the officials. The Tamil Nadu Meteorological Department has predicted that it will make a landfall between Nellore and Machilipatnam on the evening of December 12. As a result, Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvannamalai are expected to receive heavy rainfall.

High Court not a disciplinary authority: Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>High Court is not a disciplinary authority and it is not its job to impose a punishment even if an employer hands down a “shockingly disproportionate” penalty to an errant employee, the Supreme Court has said.Holding that the power of awarding a particular penalty rested with the disciplinary authority, a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said, “it is not the function of the High Court to impose a particular punishment even in those cases where it was found that penalty awarded by the employer is shockingly disproportionate.””Decision qua the nature and quantum is the prerogative of the disciplinary authority. It is not the function of the High Court to decide the same,” the bench, also comprising Justice A M Sapre, said.The observation came in a judgement which set aside an order of a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court altering the penalty of dismissal from service awarded to a supervisor of a cooperative bank by the disciplinary authority and modified it and said the employee would be denied two increments for a period of three years.The apex court said the courts below, while exercising their power of judicial review in such matters, “should not sit as the appellate authority.”The disciplinary authority of Krishna District Cooperative Central Bank had found K Hanumantha Rao, a supervisor of five Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS), guilty of dereliction of duty.Rao’s failure to discharge his duties in supervising had allegedly led to cheating by members of Nidamanuru Primary Agricultural Cooperative Society (PACS), resulting in misappropriation of society funds leading to disciplinary action against him and subsequent dismissal from service.Rao challenged his sacking in the High Court. The single bench had upheld the punishment given to him, while the division bench altered it. The apex court set aside the HC verdict saying that thedecision on the nature and quantum of punishment falls under the domain of the disciplinary authority.”It is not the function of the High Court to decide the same,” it said, adding “it is only in exceptional circumstances, where it is found that the punishment/penalty awarded by the disciplinary authority/employer is wholly disproportionate, that too to an extent that it shakes the conscience of the Court, that the Court steps in and interferes”.The apex court further said if the penalty appears to be “shockingly disproportionate”, the High Court at best can remand the matter back to the disciplinary authority for imposition of lesser punishment leaving it to such authority to consider as to which lesser penalty needs to be inflicted upon the delinquent employee.It, however said that the administrative authority has to exercise its powers reasonably. The apex court bench in its verdict said it found that the punishment imposed on him was not “shockingly disproportionate” and therefore there is no question of remitting the case to the disciplinary authority arises.It said the court must not usurp the discretion of the public authority and must strive to apply an objective standard which leaves to the deciding authority the full range of choice.The apex court said the award of punishment, which is grossly in excess to the allegations, cannot claim immunity and remains open for interference under a limited scope for judicial review.

8 held with unaccounted cash of Rs 58 lakh in new Rs 2,000 notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight persons were apprehended in Hyderabad and unaccounted money of Rs 58 lakh in new Rs 2,000 notes was seized from their possession, police said.The eight persons were apprehended after finding Rs 58 lakh in their possession during vehicle checking, a police release said. They belonged to different places in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.During the course of inquiry, they stated they collected the amounts from local people of their respective native places, villages on 8 to 10 per cent commission basis.”They came to Hyderabad with an intention to exchange the new currency of Rs 2,000 with old currency of Rs 1,000 or Rs 500 with commission of 25 to 30 per cent to make easy money. On further inquiry with them about the exchange of old currency, they stated that they will return to the people from whom they collected the amounts and again they will deposit in their respective accounts,” the release said.The apprehended persons, along with the seized unaccounted new currency and seizure report, would be sent to the Income Tax office for initiating appropriate action against them as per Income Tax Act, the release added.

World AIDS Day: United by HIV, those living with the condition build support systems

“You realise that the disease eats away at your very being. I’ve seen many girls come into Budhwarpet completely healthy, and then slowly, become sicker. Before HIV, I thought being positive was a great thing,” says Ranjana Devi.

Devi is not HIV positive, but she oversees the workings of a community organisation in Budhwarpet in Pune that administers health and social welfare services for female sex workers — a group that is immensely vulnerable given the nature of their work.

I meet Devi and many others like her in October 2015 during a capacity building workshop for leaders from various community organisations. And thus, began my annus mirabilis of working with over 1,20,000 key population individuals, through 84 community organisations, vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, consisting of female sex workers, gay men and transgenders.

Sex workers mark World AIDS Day in Kamathipura, Mumbai's red light district in 2014. Reuters

Sex workers mark World AIDS Day in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light district in 2014. Reuters

Sarala Tai, a board member of another community organisation, is carrying an eight-year-old “positive” girl. This girl’s mother was a street-based sex worker in Kolhapur, who died due to the lack of access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). In between the workshop, Sarala Tai tells me: “Aisa hi hai na, Madam. Yeh auratein chali jati hain aur bachha mujhe chhor jatin hain. Kya karungi main iska? Kaam bhi nahi sikha sakti (These women die and leave their children to me. What will I do with her? I cannot even make her learn the trade).”

Months later, in Rajamundry in Andhra Pradesh, I sense no despair in Nupur, a helpdesk facilitator. “HIV paas laya hum sab ko. CO (community organisation) kaise hota phir?” (HIV has brought us together. How else would our CO have existed?).

Harping on a similar note, in February 2016, Malavika, the President of the Idayam Thirunangaigal Munettra Sangam (ITMS), Namakkal — a community organisation for transgenders and gay men tells me: “(…) programme ne pehchaan di hai, madam (the HIV/AIDS programme bestowed us with identity).”

Stigma and discrimination is an everyday reality for the vulnerable

What I know of HIV and AIDS is through occasional field visits, pivot tables and legal declarations. With a background in gender-based violence in conflict areas, my lens is generally myopic — I often look at violent incidents against community members isolated from the looming lentivirus itself. But this is fast changing. Every day, stories of unbearable stigma and discrimination is slowly opening my eyes.

Obula, president of a female sex worker community organisation in Kadiri, Andhra Pradesh, recounted an incident of child sexual abuse in her jurisdiction from two years ago. The child was raped by influential people and left to die, she said. No stakeholders — neither the police nor lawyers from the Legal Aid Clinic — were ready to help because her mother, a sex-worker with an HIV positive status, would never stand a chance in front of a politician’s son.

An HIV positive sex worker in Sholapur, Shahnaz’s life’s earnings amounting to over Rs 3 lakhs were taken away by her gharwali — the brothel madam — because she was a victim of the disease. The gharwali emotionally and physically abused her in the course of the recovery of the money. The community organisation’s members stood by her side throughout the process of reporting the crime and battled the stigma and discrimination. And in the end, she received her money back.

Representational image. Reuters

“People who are affected by HIV are all living with an inferiority complex,” says Surbhi, who is gender-fluid and HIV positive. “They don’t say it openly, but I have said it. As far as I am concerned, I don’t have anything more in life. I have to be open. Basically, I’m an open type of person. Everybody knows, that I talk openly. So, I will talk about everything and put up with everything. If anyone beats me, I will take it, if someone scolds me, I will accept it. But everyone will not be like that. People who live in society, live under the blanket of prestige. I’m not in that blanket, so I don’t take it as something big,” she adds.

Community Organisations Born out of HIV Programmes

“The disease has claimed lives but it has also given us each other. This condition brings friends. I plan to write poetry on this and share with you,” says Vijji from Thiruvallur. Vijji is gender-fluid. She has lost a few friends to the virus, and finds solace in art and poetry.

A constant victim of ridicule and discrimination, Vijji was always different and understood the trauma of the HIV-positive population. “Community organisations help overcome the trauma and look ahead towards the future. Ironically, community organisations would not exist if HIV did not. It is odd, isn’t it?” she says.

Ushodaya Mahila Sangam (UMS) is a community organisation for female sex workers in Telangana. A total of 13 People Living with HIV (PLHIVs) are a part of UMS, and the team at UMS wanted to ensure a sustained arrangement of nutrition for them. They reached out to the Mandal Revenue Officer who in turn helped connect them with the Ration Dealers Association. The Ration Dealer Association and the team had a meeting where UMS explained the concept of vulnerability reduction to the president of the association and discussed how he could help them do more for these 13 most vulnerable. Since then, UMS has been receiving rice and wheat for its PLHIV members from the members of the Ration Dealers Association and an unflinching support from its president on all occasions.

Then there’s Sree Shakti Sangam (SSS) in Tirupati, which moved mountains for an HIV positive couple who fell in love and married in 2011. The SSS team reached out to the couple when the man’s CD4 count decreased to 22 and he needed to go for the second line treatment. Due to his deteriorated health condition, he was unable to work for over two months and needed urgent medical care. The team took proactive steps to raise money to ensure insurance to meet costs and ensured that their child was tested for HIV. At this point, the SSS team also explained to the couple about the benefits of insuring in PMJJBY and PMSBY schemes. They discovered that while he has a bank account, he does not have any money deposited in it. They decided to gather money from the community and got him insured him under the schemes of PMJJBY and PMSBY. Currently, the family is living happily with proper care and treatment and is confident about giving a bright future to their daughter who is not HIV positive

Peer Networks Serve as the Backbone of Community Support

The community is at the centre of the HIV response and intervention. For this, at the grassroots, a unique camaraderie exists within community members, which is capitalised on the ground to seamlessly connect members with services. Whether it is reporting and redressal of a violent incident or opening a bank account, or using government welfare services, the first point of contact is always another community member — an individual who has seen it all, and wants to reach out to others like her.

Since 2004, with the commencement of HIV/AIDS programmes, a cadre of women leaders have emerged as well. The objective of these programmes was to reduce the risk and vulnerability from HIV/AIDS infections, but in the process, it gave rise to a collective of sex workers who began questioning discriminatory legal and political frameworks. Since 2014, 2,130 women have assumed the role of women’s rights defenders within 71 community organisations in 47 districts spread across Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. These women are the basic structure of the community organisations and the primary advocates of human rights in the districts where they work. They are also usually the first responders to any instance of gender-based violence in their jurisdiction.

Sudha, a sex-worker who is HIV positive, was shunned by her in-laws. Living in Shahada Town with her son and daughter in law, she gave up sex work recently because of immense support from her peers at the community organisation. They regularly counselled her, provided her with nutrition and also supported her with financial planning. After struggling for years as a sex-worker and depending on others for financial resources, today, Sudha is no longer financially dependent. She has her own Kirana store.

Acceptance of diverse identities

In my opinion, what the HIV programme did was bring much-needed acceptance to a plethora of identities and sexual orientations and also offered space for movements and advocacy. For Malavika, a transgender, the programme gave her an identity. Her family disowned her, but the community and the community organisation embraced her with open arms, as did many stakeholders. She has advocated for the Transgender Bill, like many others in her community, and believes that this would not have been encouraged without the HIV programme in place.

Representational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

Nayan who is gay, and secretly a part of a Jamat system in Theni, could come out to his parents when they were discussing HIV treatment. During the course of his life, Nayan has studied hotel management in the UK, where homosexuality is no longer looked down upon. He came back to India only when he realised that conditions for LGBTQI were becoming better. He participates in queer prides across India and hopes that one day, in his future, homosexuality and same-sex marriage in India will be legal.

I’ve been a part of the HIV programme for a little more than a year, and for a year, I’ve seen my life change little by little every day. In between field visits, the wait for HIV/AIDS Bill to get parliamentary approval and the faces of countless HIV-vulnerable community members, often my heart sinks: the United Nations and other international organisations, time and again, talk about eradicating the disease by 2030, but financial resources in the sector continue to dwindle. But in the middle of field visits, sometimes unnamed faces come to me and smile, and I retrieve my inspiration to work for them, with them.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 14:29 IST

NIA arrests two more people suspected in series of court blasts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Furthering its probe into a series of blasts that took place in various court premises in southern states of India, the National Investigation (NIA) arrested two more individuals on Tuesday afternoon. The number of arrested individuals now stands at five, with the probe agency claiming that the accused men belong to a new outfit which pledges allegiance to Al-Qaeda.NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal on Tuesday said that Mohammed Ayub Ali, who had been detained last night, was put under arrest along with another youth named Shamsudeen. Both are 25-years-old. Ali, a native of Madurai, works as a public liaison officer for a hearing aid company. Shamsudeen is also a resident of Madurai and his name cropped up during interrogation of others arrested by the NIA. According to the probe agency, the suspects (all in their 20s), belong to a relatively new outfit named Base Movement which had taken responsibility for the low intensity blasts in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. The outfit claimed responsibility for at least three low-intensity blasts that took place in the court premises of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala by dispatching a letter to the authorities bearing a map of India and a photo of slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. A similar letter was sent ahead of French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India in January this year.The other three accused were identified as Abbas Ali (27), Suleiman (23) and Samsum Karim Raja. Abbas is a resident of Ismailpuram area in Madurai. According to NIA he studied up to 8th standard and is a painter by profession. NIA said that Abbas also ran a library in the name Darul-ilim’ in Madurai. Suleiman, originally from Madurai, works in a software firm and was based in Chennai. NIA said that he was the “main leader of the terrorist gang”. Samsum, the NIA said, is a B.Com graduate and runs a chicken broiler shop at Kannimara Koil street in Madurai. ​Officials believe that the Base Movement is a result of the regrouping of an Islamist outfit by the name al Ummah. Nagapattinam native Abu Bakr Siddique, 51, one of the master-minds in the Bangalore blast at the BJP office in 2013, is believed to be the leader of the outfit. Siddique was absconding between 1999 and 2011 and police is investigating if he, like some of the al Ummah members, left to join the jihad in Afghanistan.

Demonetisation: Jan Akrosh Diwas evokes partial respose in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad: The nation-wide shutdown called by the Left parties over demonetisation of high value currency notes evoked partial response in Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Monday.

Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in some areas while there was not much impact elsewhere.

The services of state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) was near normal in both the states.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The activists of the opposition parties staged protest at RTC depots at many places since early morning, however, the bus services by and large remained unaffected.

Activists of Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Congress and YSR Congress Party staged sit-in at RTC depots. However, the employees union stayed away from the shutdown.

Main opposition YSR Congress and Congress clarified that they have not called for ‘Bharat Bandh’ but were only participating in protests against the people’s sufferings due to demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

The Left parties exempted banks from the strike call.

Congress and CPI workers were arrested by the police at RTC bus depot in Kadapa town of Andhra Pradesh when they staged a sit-in and tried to prevent buses from plying.

YSR Congress Party leader Bhuma Karunakar Reddy and others were arrested when they held a protest demonstration at RTC depot in Tirupati. The left parties took out a rally in the temple town and raised slogans against the central government.

The activists of opposition parties also staged protests in Nellore, Guntur, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and other towns in Andhra Pradesh, where TDP-BJP alliance is in power.

In Telangana, ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) was not participating in the shutdown.

The Left parties and Congress staged sit-in since morning at RTC depots at various places including Khammam, Karimnagar, Jagtiyal, Suryapet and Sircilla.

The Left parties plan to take out a rally in Hyderabad, while Congress, which is observing it as ‘Akrosh Diwas’ would be forming a human chain at the regional office of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Hyderabad to highlight the problems faced by the people.

Some schools in Hyderabad declared holiday as a precautionary measure. Osmania University, Kakatiya University and Jawaharlal Nehru Technology University (JNTU) postponed their examinations.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 11:52 IST

Demonetization to have gains in long run: Chandrababu Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Demonetization problems are temporary but the gains in the long run will be fruitful, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said as he enlisted the steps taken by his government to help the people in this situation. The Andhra government has adopted several innovative ways to solve the problems of the people and become a role model state in the country in cashless transactions, he said.The steps taken by the state government include setting up of four committees to oversee cashless transactions, arrangement of 19,000 e-PoS (Point of Sales) machines involving students and self-helf women’s groups and starting a mobile application ‘AP Purse’. “The demonetization problems are temporary but the gains in the long run will be fruitful,” he said.The Chief Minister urged the people to endure the currency crisis for some more time to come and asked them to face it in a challenging spirit.To overcome the problems post scrapping of the high value currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, the Andhra government is planning to distribute free mobile phones to people, particularly the economically-backward classes to undertake cashless transactions, Naidu said. Naidu, who has been holding teleconferences with bankers and officials to ensure that problems of people are minimised, has announced the decision to set up four committees to oversee cashless transactions, Jan Dhan bank account and Rupay dealings and overall expenditure.The state government is also planning to start ‘AP Purse’ to provide short term, middle term and long term benefits to the people. While terming as unfortunate that the demonetization problem has prolonged, he lauded the people for having patience by being in such long queues at banks and ATMs. He asked the people to make effective use of mobile currency, online transactions and debit and credit cards and Rupay cards.He has written to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, seeking more funds of smaller denominations to the state to ease out the problems of people. The Chief Minister said the state government had received an additional Rs 2,000 crore, of which Rs 400 crore is in the denominations of Rs 100. He hoped that this would bring some relief to the people. Naidu said he had requested the Centre and RBI to send Rs 5,000 crore to the state. He suggested that out of this, at least Rs 1,000 crore should contain smaller denominations like Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100.He added that the state government had earmarked Rs two crore to each of the districts, which would be of great help to small businessmen to continue their business transactions non-stop.

From surgical strike to demonetization, country happy but Rahul crying: Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP president Amit Shah lashed out at the opposition on Saturday, saying it was seeking to oppose everything that the Narendra Modi government did only because it did not have any issues to raise. “The opposition has no issues, so it is opposing everything Narendra bhai is doing. If Modi says today is Monday, they will say no no it’s Tuesday,” Shah mocked while addressing a mammoth Kisan Rally organised by the Andhra Pradesh BJP in Tadepalligudem this evening.”The world praised the surgical strikes the Narendra Modi government conducted on Pakistan but Congress only criticised it. The country is happy, the jawans are happy and even kids are happy but Rahul (Gandhi) cried ‘khoon ki dalali’,” he said.”It’s not Sonia-Manmohan government (at the helm) now that remains indecisive. It’s the Modi government that daringly conducted surgical strikes and inflicted a heavy blow to the enemy and the terror camps on its territory,” the BJP chief said, recalling the aftermath of the Uri attack.
ALSO READ Demonetization: Six held for duping businessman of Rs 36 lakh in Gujarat Shah was also critical of the “false propaganda” allegedly being carried out by the opposition over the demonetization issue. “They are spreading rumours that demonetization will hurt the farmers. But let me assure you, it will only benefit the farmers by all means,” he claimed.Asserting that the welfare of farmers and development of the agriculture sector were the top priorities of the Modi government, Shah said every step was being taken to ensure the same. Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh, state president K Hari Babu, state minister’s Kamineni Srinivas, P Manikyala Rao and other leaders also attended the rally.

Congress cries foul as K Chandrasekhar Rao moves to new official bungalow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao moved into his new official residential buildings complex at Begumpet in Hyderabad on Thursday though main opposition Congress cried foul claiming that “over Rs 40 crore of public money” has been “wasted” on its construction.On the occasion, the CM performed a string of rituals to mark the event. Rao, who had been staying in the Chief Minister’s Camp Office built during YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s regime in undivided Andhra Pradesh, moved into the sprawling new buildings complex after performing a traditional ceremony.Known to be a religious man, the TRS chief performed ‘Griha Pravesam’ (house warming ceremony) along with his wife as per traditional practices. The auspicious ‘muhurtham’ was 5:22 am. Under the guidance of seer Sri Tridandi Srimannarayana Chinna Jeeyar Swamy, Rao and his wife performed ‘Daiva Pravesam’, ‘Yati Pravesam’, ‘Go Pravesam’ and other rituals. ‘Sudarshana Homam’ and ‘Vastu Homam’ were also performed. Prayers of different religions were also recited on the occasion for the welfare of Telangana people.Governor of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana ESL Narasimhan, Telangana Legislative Assembly Speaker S Madhusudanachary, Legislative Council Chairman Swamy Goud, Deputy Chief Minister Mahmood Ali, state IT and Municipal Administration Minister and Rao’s son K T Rama Rao, Nizamabad MP K Kavitha, who is Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter, and state irrigation minister T Harish Rao were among those present.Rao assumed office about two-and-half years ago as the first chief minister of the newly-created Telangana. The official buildings complex, including the CM’s residence and office, a conference hall and two existing buildings, has been named as Pragathi Bhavan by government. The conference hall, named ‘Janahita’, will serve as a meeting place for the Chief Minister. In ‘Janahita’, the CM will interact with various sections of the people, including farmers, workers, employees, artisans and a host of others on policy formulation and on their implementation, a state government release said.Slamming Rao over his “new posh bungalow”, state Congress president and MLA N Uttam Kumar Reddy alleged the new buildings complex was built “wasting over Rs 40 crore of public money”. He claimed that the cost of Chief Minister’s new house would be nearly Rs 150 crore if land price is also taken into account. Accusing Rao of “wasting public money to satisfy his Vastu beliefs”, Reddy maintained that such “wastage” is not permissible in a socialist and democratic country like India.According to some media reports, the posh complex came up on a space of over one lakh square feet, with several facilities and measures, including bullet-proof bathrooms.

Demonetisation: From Morarji to Modi, it is politics and volume that matters the most

When former prime minister Morarji Desai had demonetised currency notes in January 1978, he was accused of carrying out anti-black money exercise for political reasons. 38 years later, Narendra Modi is facing a similar onslaught from the Opposition about wiping out tainted money from the economy ahead of crucial elections in important states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab.

The Parliament debates of 1978 give an interesting peep into the politics of demonetisation. On 21 March, 1978, Lok Sabha archive accessed by Firstpost reveal, that CN Visvanathan, a member of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) from Tirupattur constituency, had questioned the Morarji government for announcing demonetisation on the eve of elections to six states including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Visvanathan said while participating in the debate over the ‘High Denomination Bank Notes (Denomination) Bill.’:

“People are thinking whether this bill is intended to curb indirectly the funds of some particular political party before the elections in six states were held. So I ask: Why was the step taken before the elections in six states especially Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The Ordinance was promulgated on 16th January 1978, but actually instead of helping the illegal transactions to be stopped, this bill may help to stop the financiers of the political parties from contributing to them,”

And, the bitter historical fact were the election results Janata Party had to swallow in 1978 after executing demonetisation, which may be a cause of worry for the BJP.

The Congress which had become extremely unpopular and was decimated in 1977 made a comeback in the Andhra Pradesh state election, winning a clear majority. In Karnataka too, Janata Party came at a distant second, winning just 59 of 259 assembly seats that went to the polls. The only face saver for Janata Party was Arunachal Pradesh where its state leader Prem Khandu was able to form a government winning 17 seats out of 30 member state assembly and Assam where Golap Borbora, follower of Ram Manohar Lohia and JP became the first non-Congress chief minister of that state. The Janata Party riding high on demonetisation move could win only 99 seats out of 288 assembly constituencies of Maharashtra and had failed to form the government.

Is there a lesson for Modi who is exploiting his black money purging decision in his public meetings in Uttar Pradesh to harvest political gains out of demonetisation?

The volume may haunt Modi government

File image of Morarji Desai. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia CommonsFile image of Morarji Desai. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

File image of Morarji Desai. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Team Morarji Desai, who first visualised the idea of curbing the menace of black money through demonetisation, had a much easier task at hand than the team Modi, which embarked on the herculean task to withdrawing 86 percent currency floating in the market. Although, Morarji team comprising of then finance minister Hirubhai Mulljibhai Patel and Reserve Bank of India Governor IG Patel was more unsparing, the volume affecting households at that time was confined to just a few rich than the majority of 125 Crore population that Modi and Urjit Patel is facing today. And, the queue outside the banks and ATMs is not getting thinner by the day than the duo had anticipated.

With one announcement, Modi rendered Rs 14.2 lakh crore as useless, however, for Morarji the value was just 145.42 crore and the highest denomination note was limited to only 346 people (presuming that nobody had more than one note). Whereas for the present government, the task is to withdraw 633 crore high denomination 1000 rupee notes (Valued 6.3 lakh crore) that constitutes 38.5 percent of currency in circulation and 1,571 crore of 500 notes, constituting 47 percent of the total.

The debate that happened on 21 March, 1978 in Parliament gives indication of challenges Modi government could face. Morarji’s finance minister, Hirubhai Mulljibhai Patel while introducing the ‘High Denomination Bank Notes (Denomination) Bill had told the Parliament that, “the total number of high denomination bank notes in circulation as at the close of business on 16th day of January, 1978 was 13,05,899 notes valued at about Rs. 145.42 Crores. These included 12.69 Lakh notes of rupees one thousand denomination, 36,287 notes of rupees five thousand denomination and 346 notes of rupees ten thousand denomination.”

Morarji government while explaining that the high denomination bank notes were being used extensively for illicit transfer of money for financing transactions harmful to the national economy, only gave 3 days for exchange (January 17, 18, 19th 1978), Modi arguing the similar reasons though adding terrorism and fake currency, gave 50 days to the holders of 500 and 1000 rupee notes to deposit in the bank.

Is the comparison between Morarji and Modi government logical? Of course, as both wanted to get rid of black money choking country’s financial health. So, why is the Modi government is facing heat on the issue?

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIFile image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Hukmdev Narayan Yadav, the BJP MP from Madhubani who sits in the second right row of the present 16th Lok Sabha, but then a socialist and active member of JP movement, in a discussion on 21 March, 1978, had reminded the lower house that “Demonetisation is not the only solution to tackle black money.”

Yadav while supporting the move had asked the government to adopt several other measures like covertly initiating a dialogue with big industrialists and businessmen to disclose the amount in cash to the government and that money could be used for setting up new factories and infrastructures to generate employment for youths of this country.

“Political Purification” Yadav had said that day, was still far away while supporting his own government move. And, what Shyamaprasanna Bhattacharyya, a Communist Party member of 6th Lok Sabha from Uluberia constituency, had said on demonetisation in that era still resonates now in political discourse.

Bhattacharyya said in the Parliament during the discussion:

“I have been informed that before our Minister passed the ordinance, the blackmarketeers in Calcutta ( now knows Kolkata) came to know about it and took sufficient precautions to go to various areas and asked the Panwallahs and other poor persons to go the banks and get them changed…and told them: you take something from me and give me the changed money. Thus, they have saved themselves… without the support from the people measures such as this will touch only the fringe of the problem.” 

Team Modi should also read the facts presented in the parliament by DMK member Visvanathan, who had said that out of Rs 140 Crore in higher denomination in 1978, thousand rupee notes worth about Rs 125 Crore ( Presently 6.3 lakh crore), five thousand rupee notes about Rs 13.6 crore and ten thousand rupees notes about 82 lakh were in circulation. The figure shows that only two percent of higher denomination notes were demonetised by Janata Party government in 1978 in comparison with over 86 percent of currency termed as paper by the Modi government.

No wonder, the public, which showed miraculous discipline, is now expressing discomfort.

Vayalar Ravi, now a sitting Congress member of Rajya Sabha, but was in Lok Sabha in 1978, had said:

“Black money is not stagnant in our country. It is generating economic activities. The policy of the government should be comprehensive. It should be aimed at plugging the loopholes which help in the generation, expansion and the investment of black money. There is no policy which I can see either in the budget or in the policy of the government. This is only a piece-meal measure which can never touch the fringe of the black money problem.”

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 09:18 IST

World toilet day: Madras HC pulls up Tamil Nadu education dept on lack of toilets in schools

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Madras High court on Friday pulled up the state education department for not coming up with a strategy to provide toilet facilities in all government schools inspite of its earlier order as well as that of the Supreme Court.The court’s Madurai bench, which was hearing a PIL seeking a direction to provide toilet facilities in schools, asked what the officials were doing to implement the court order and why they could not even plan for it. It noted that the director of school education had earlier misled the court that enough toilet facilities were provided in all the schools, forcing the court to appoint an advocate commission to inspect the schools for the real situation.The court said that another report of the school department was not satisfactory and “makes us shed tears about the status of basic amenities in schools in the state”.Even Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were doing better in providing facilities in schools, it said. There were schools where girls use bushes as cover for attending to nature’s call, the court said, adding, such a situation should not prevail in this country 70 years after independence. The court also wondered why power tariff in schools was more than the commercial tariff at 5.75 ps per unit, and why electricity expenses were met by parent-teacher associations in many schools. Additional Advocate General submitted that it would not be possible to build 75,000 toilet units in schools, which do not have the facility, this financial year itself and funds could be allocated only for 22,000 units this year. The remaining schools could be covered next year.The court said the government had already committed contempt of court by not providing toilets in all schools as ordered by it in 2014, and it was now seeking more time to complete the project. About 1,41,000 toilets were required at the rate of one toilet per 20 students. There were about 66,610 units in schools and the remaining should have been constructed by this time, the court said. “This only shows that officials did not have any vision and strategy to do things,” it said and posted the case for further hearing on November 22 when the government is expected to give some concrete reply on the issue.The Supreme Court had issued orders for providing toilet facilities in schools in the country in 2012 itself.

Naxals’ diktat leaves Odisha villagers with no option but to flee for safety

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 30 people have recently fled Dabuguda village of Odisha’s Malkangiri district after Naxals, whose strength is dwindling after the September 24 encounter, issued a diktat that one member from each family will have to join their organisation. The Naxals have also opened recruitment camps in the forest area to ensure that the locals do not defy their diktat and one member from each family joins their organisation.The ultras are also forcing them to raise slogans hailing ‘martyrdom’ of their accomplices killed in a police encounter earlier on September 24. The locals, who found themselves in the midst of danger as they were afraid of being killed by the ultras if they refuse to comply with their diktat or being killed in police encounter if they join the ultras, found no option but to flee their villages.In search of a safe haven, 30 people of five families from Dabuguda village covered a distance of 40 km to reach Kudumulu Gumma Block.It is understood that after the killing of 30 Maoists in a police encounter on September 24, the strength of ultras has dwindled, and thus, they are launching recruitment drives and forcing the village residents in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to send one member of a family each to join their outfit.Malkangiri Superintendent of Police (SP) Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said: “Five families have come to us alleging that Maoists have displaced them. Maoists are using ‘fear’ tactics after losing public support here. Even as Mohapatra has made arrangements for their lodging and security, these displaced people fear for their lives and how long they will be sheltered under the top cop’s protection is also a big question.”

Demonetisation: Why Chandrababu Naidu is the only non-BJP CM to hail move

Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo Chandrababu Naidu, an important ally for the BJP in the south, is known for his penchant to look for ways to maximise his political clout.

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from 8 November, Naidu has been on a gloat mission — he had written to Modi barely a week earlier demanding a ban on these denominations in an effort to curb black money.

As the Opposition gears up for a strident battle over the issue, Naidu too is gearing up — not to fight, but to defend the idea. Naidu has geared his administration to face the challenge posed by the cash crunch, particularly in Andhra, a state that serves as a junction to three states with the Bay of Bengal on one side.

File image of Chandrababu Naidu. News 18

File image of Chandrababu Naidu. News 18

A helping hand

As is done during times of natural calamities, the AP government set up a help desk at Vijayawada to help citizens sort out difficulties in exchanging demonetised notes at banks and post offices. A call centre and a toll free number (1800-599-1111) too was made available for information. A notification issued by Chief Secretary SP Tucker also put the state government administration on standby, cancelling all leave for cadres of essential services including the police and treasury departments, in anticipation of enormous confusion and rumour-mongering. “We put a five-member team on a 24/7 basis to answer calls and also guide callers to the nearest banks and ATMs, and also advised them to be prepared for a long wait,” said a spokesperson in the chief secretary’s office.

Besides organising IT-based feedback services from all 10 districts, Naidu also held teleconferences with district collectors on a daily basis to address the crisis. The public relations attempt worked well. Although Telugu news channels beamed the travails of the common man waiting at banks and ATMs through the day, they also telecast Naidu’s video conferences showcasing him as a “working chief minister”.

A past master in crowd management, Naidu directed officials to provide shelter, drinking water and also butter milk for the milling crowds at banks and post offices. His office also issued advisories on setting up counters for women, the elderly and handicapped to banks.

“In fact, Naidu’s office knew about the arrival of truckloads of new currencies ahead of us,” said a banker after the CMO advised them on where to send the fresh currency in view of the huge crowds and need for marketing agricultural produce.

Officials were also directed to source small change – Rs 50 and Rs 100 notes — from wherever possible, including hundis at places of worships and also toll gates, milk vendors etc to meet the shortfall of smaller denomination notes until the RBI delivered the new notes.

Naidu also wrote to the Ministry of Finance to focus on the ways and means to address the problems faced by people in the wake of demonetisation, particularly the hardest-hit communities of street vendors, transporters and petty traders.

Guidelines for the Centre

Naidu set the ball rolling for the Union government and Ministry of Finance by issuing guidelines and advisories to state administration and bankers within the state on what to do and how to tide over the crisis. All late payments for power, water, property taxes, excise, toll gates, school fees etc were deferred and advisories issued to provide non-stop services in spite of non-payments as per schedule. “It appeared as if Naidu was in charge rather than the bankers and the RBI at least in Andhra Pradesh,” said a senior official at the stock market at Visakhapatnam.

The Chief Minister’s Office issued press releases daily on what he wanted banks and the RBI to do, without bothering with whether he had the authority to advise or direct them. The CMO and the chief minister often advised banks to introduce multi-purpose counters instead of separate counters for withdrawals and deposits. He also wrote to the RBI to send more currency to Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and also Vijayawada in view of the ongoing infrastructure projects and taking into account the significance of the sea port of Visakhapatnam and religious tourism in Tirupati. “We don’t need Rs 2,000 notes, but only Rs 100 notes,” he said, in a request to RBI.

The AP government also threatened traders with the PD Act (Preventive Detention Act) if they resorted to hoarding or denial of essential commodities.

Government employees were roped in to help out people at banks, ATMs and also at bus stands, railway stations and airports along with the regular staff.

“We want the Centre to send us the new Rs 500 notes as it had already sent them to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Only Rs 6,700 crore was deposited in the banks in Andhra Pradesh since demonetisation,” Naidu told the media on Tuesday evening.

Digital money focus

The TDP supremo also shifted focus on the use of digital money to tide over the crisis. Presently, only 18 percent of transactions in Andhra Pradesh are on digital mode and the government’s target is to increase this to a minimum of 30 percent by the end of the year. As part of this task, e-pass instruments (POS) were being installed at all PDS outlets.

Naidu lauded the efforts of West Godavari District Collector in issuing tokens at rythu bazaars (farmer markets) for small change which were redeemable at banks. This practice was replicated in four more districts during the weekly markets to facilitate farmers who brought their produce from across the state.

Addressing the parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday, Naidu also urged his MPs to build pressure on the Centre to provide swipe machines to traders and abolish transaction cost for online banking in toto. “Countries with lower education levels and less development are ahead of India in using mobile banking services,” he said, urging TDP MPs to press for policy framework for the popularisation of digital currency in villages and towns.

Politics of the opportune

Naidu is not openly all praise for Modi though, perhaps conscious that it might rebound on him. “Precautionary measures should have been taken to minimise difficulties to the public,” said Naidu speaking to reporters, adding, “To curtail the flow of black money, public must be encouraged towards electronic currency. The Centre must have taken adequate steps to increase online transactions.”

Naidu has a good reason to join the ‘Har Har Modi’ club. He needs money for his state and its brand new capital city Amaravati. “The Centre has promised over Rs 1.5 lakh crore in grants and investments in over 115 projects and schemes. But unless they are done before 2017-18, the purpose will not be served,” said state finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu on the sidelines of a CII meet at Vijayawada while interacting with industrialists.

The TDP and the BJP are old friends — allies since 1996, except for a decade in between from 2004 to 2014 when the TDP was out of power in united Andhra Pradesh.

Opposition YSRC leaders therefore alleged that the TDP supremo and his son Nara Lokesh had converted their black money into white thanks to the advance information given to them by BJP leaders. “Lokesh’s benamis have converted almost Rs 13,000 crore into white a few days ahead,” said YSRC leader Bhumana Karunakar Reddy.

But TDP leaders insist that the campaign against black money was not new to the party. Way back in 2013, TDP invited Artha Kranti Pratisthan Chairman Anil Bokhale and extended support for his campaign against black money. They had also brought out booklets against former Congress chief minister YS Rajashekhar Reddy’s alleged corruption and impleaded themselves in the CBI case against corruption in EMAAR Group’s real estate activities in Hyderabad city, a case in which YSR’s son and YSRC party chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy was named.

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 10:40 IST

Demonetisation: As tempers rise, India is running out of patience and currency

Poore desh ko line me khada kar diya Narendra Modi ne,” exclaimed the elderly man in the ATM queue in Hyderabad. A self-confessed Modi admirer, who had also served in the armed forces, he launched into a spiel about how the rest of India was doing what the soldiers had done all these years on the border.

“Did they fire at the enemy, standing in a queue?” mocked a 22-something, standing five places behind. The senior citizen, I think, heard the jibe, but chose to ignore it.

Over the past one week, India has been on the road. India, especially the highbrow part of the country, is upset because all along it condescendingly thought queues were meant only for ‘Bharat’. While India ran the marathons and the half-marathons, ‘Bharat’ would leave its footprint in queues at ration shops and bus stops. Modi’s 8 pm address has made India meet ‘Bharat’.

Former Finance minister P Chidambaram’s back-of-the-envelope calculation says 13 crore Indians are standing in line before banks and ATMs every day. But the queues are not just a real life version of Facebook, where friendships are forged. In some cases, they are also signing a death warrant. 47 people have reportedly died collapsing in queues outside banks and ATMs since demonetisation came into effect.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Minor inconvenience,” says the government. Try explaining “thodi si asufidha” to families who have lost near and dear ones.

In Marredpally area of Secunderabad, a senior citizen collapsed and died while waiting at the Andhra Bank branch this week. In a rather morbid turn of events, the bank released the money immediately to his body.

In Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, 48-year-old Saud-ur-Rahman died of a heart attack after having stood in a line for the third consecutive day. He had failed to withdraw money the previous two days and like earlier, had joined the line at 3 am on Wednesday. His health deteriorated around noon, when he was still waiting. He died in hospital.

Tempers ran high, with the ire directed at the bank officials. The Bank of India manager, 58-year-old Rajesh Kumar also broke down as he explained he is a cancer patient.

At another branch in Hyderabad, the manager says all he gets is Rs 2 lakh, which gets over in no time, leading to frayed tempers among those who don’t get it.

Panelists on TV and armchair commentators on social media deride anyone who highlights such tragedies, dismissing them as bleeding hearts. They talk of ushering in a cashless economy, a utopia. Tragedies like these show India is becoming a lifeless economy.

Opposition is troubled by the sight of Indians made to undergo this suffering. The empathy is touching. They, of course, never bothered when we commoners wait almost every other day for 15 to 20 minutes, and sometimes even more, for a VIP convoy to pass. How many times have ambulances got stuck in a VIP zone? Now, since being made to wait is the talk of the nation, why not ensure no traffic is stopped for the political VIPs?

India, I must admit, does not like to stand in queue. I observe the body language of people waiting in this queue at a nationalised bank. Unlike in the West, lines in India are a zigzag. Everyone is in “hum jahan khade hote hai, line wahi se shuru hoti hai” mode.

ATM queues are an education. Unlike great grandpa Jawaharlal Nehru who wrote The Discovery of India when he was imprisoned between 1942 and 1946 at the Ahmednagar Fort in Maharashtra, Rahul Gandhi is discovering India in an ATM line. Chapter 1 was covered in New Delhi, Chapter 2 in Mumbai.

Bharat ek poor country hai. Hindustan ke people ki jeb mein ATM card to hai but there is no cash.”

When people can stand in queue to get a SIM card, a movie ticket or say get a two-second-long darshan of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala-Tirupati, why crib about doing something which is for the good of the nation. This argument comes to you courtesy several BJP bhakts. But since when has putting yourself through inconvenience, leading a hand-to-mouth existence has become the test of patriotism?

“Are we in war-like times that money is being rationed,” asks a person in the queue, visibly exhausted and irritated.

“All this is for the good of the country. Suffer a bit till 30 December. 2017 will see achhe din,” says another, trying to calm him down.

The jury is out on whether Modi’s financial surgical strike was a sensible or a foolish move. But as the situation sees no sign of improving dramatically, India is running out of both patience and cash.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 17:06 IST

DNA Exclusive: Banks shower loans ‘wilful defaulter’ Niranjan Hiranandani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Defaulter!” This is exactly how India’s premier institution, the RBI, had described property tycoon and co-founder of the Hiranandani Group — Niranjan Hiranandani. But despite the RBI declaring Hiranandani as a “wilful defaulter” as far back as 2014, the group continues to receive loans from premier banks across the country.Documents exclusive to DNA reveal that the Hiranandani Group has received Rs 5,500 crore from the State Bank of India and Axis Bank, which was given to two firms belonging to the group. The SBI loan was given in February 2015 and March 2016 by Axis Bank. These loans, the documents make clear, come well after the RBI listed Hiranandani as a defaulter.When contacted, Hiranandani insisted that he had done nothing wrong. A spokesperson authorised to speak on behalf of him and the Group admits that Hiranandani’s name had figured in the RBI’s list of wilful defaulters. But he claimed that it was an “error” and has now been struck off.Niranjan Hiranandani’s name had first appeared in the RBI’s wilful defaulters’ list on June 30, 2014 following a default of Rs 350 crore loan with Punjab National Bank-led consortium by his company Sunny Vista Realtors Pvt Ltd (SVRPL). Other banks in this consortium were UCO and Andhra Bank. But eight months later while his name was still on the wilful defaulters’ list, SBI seemingly decided to deviate from RBI rules and lend his company – Hiranandani Builders – Rs 1,250 crore in February 2015.All these loans were sanctioned despite an RBI’s master circular on wilful defaulters, which reads: “No additional facilities (loan) should be granted by any bank/FI to the listed wilful defaulters”.What is even more shocking is that SBI was seemingly aware that they were flouting RBI rules. In a document issued while sanctioning the loan, SBI officials wrote: “…deviation from loan policy guidelines in respect to name of one partners, Niranjan Hiranandani appearing in the RBI wilful defaulters list dated 30 June 2014.”It’s not just the RBI. The SBI seems to have flouted its own guidelines when sanctioning the loans to the Hiranandani Group. The documents available with DNA show that the above loan of Rs 750 crore to Hiranadani Builders were sanctioned against the securitisation of rental income known as Lease Rental Discounting or LRD scheme with a tenure of 12 years. However, SBI policy allows that such a loan is only up to Rs 100 crore and that too only for a 10-year period.Asked about this, the Hiranandani Group maintained that this loan was pre-closed in March 2016, stating that “the funds were raised from private sources for closure”.But while the Hiranandani Group may have clarified this loan, other loans continue to have been given to them. Axis Bank pre-funded Rs 2,815 crore (Rs 1,480 crore to Lakeview Developers and Rs 1,335 crore to Hiranandani Builders in March 2016). Later on, Axis bank sold down the majority of the loan to SBI. SBI sanctioned Rs 750 crore loan with syndication of Axis Bank to Hiranandani Builders in August this year.The group, however, insists that it has flouted no guidelines. Asked about the date of removal of Hiranandani’s name from the RBI’s wilful defaulter list, his team forwarded a letter of Andhra Bank written to Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL) addressing concerns regarding Sunny Vista Realtors Private Limited (SVRPL) — a company belonging to the Group.The Andhra Bank letter dated December 11, 2015, addressed to CIBIL, says, “We request you to delete the name of company and its directors as wilful defaulters from your records.” Another letter released by the group, shows a communication from Andhra Bank to SVRPL, dated December 9, 2015, where the bank has recommended to its officials, “for deletion of company and its director’s name from RBI wilful defaulter list.”Despite these letters, questions continue to surround the Group. SBI documents show Niranjan Hiranandani to be a wilful defaulter during the loan process in 2015. Again, in August 2016, SBI cites a similar request letter of Andhra Bank during its risk analysis discussion for a new loan of Rs 750 crore requested by Hiranandani Builders from Axis Bank.When asked to comment, SBI and Axis bank officials have maintained that they can’t comments on any individual’s account status. In a statement, Axis Bank says, “As a matter of policy we don’t comment on individual borrowers. However, as a normal practice, we follow prudent underwriting, well-defined credit principles and effective loan approval process.” Similarly, RBI says in its response to DNA, “As a matter of policy, we do not reply to media queries relating to individual bank accounts.”Group denies chargesThe Hiranandani Group has denied all the allegations raised against it. A spokesperson for the Group said: “Mr Hiranandani’s name appeared in the RBI wilful defaulters list but on clarification by the bankers was removed from the wilful defaulter list. The listing of his name in the RBI defaulters list was an error and consequently rectified. Irrespective of the above, Mr. Hiranandani took over all the projects along with its loans and made sure that all banks were fully paid.”TimelineJune, 2014 – RBI declares Hiranandani ‘wilful defaulter’
February 2015 – SBI loan of Rs1,250 cr was given to Hiranandani Builders was in violation of rules
December, 2015 – Andhra Bank requested CIBIL to delete wilful defaulter tag from the HiranandaniGroup
March 2016 Axis Bank pre-funded Rs 1,335 cr to Hiranandani Builders Definition of a wilful defaulterAnyone who has enough cash, but is not willing to pay banks’ dues is a wilful defaulter.
Siphoning off funds, fabrication of bank records and fraudulent transactions by the borrower can also invite the chip of wilful defaulter. Action against a wilful defaulterRBI rules state that a “wilful defaulter can’t float new ventures for a period of five years from the date the name appeared in RBI “wilful defaulter” list.
Further, if a bank identifies siphoning or diversion of funds, misrepresentation, falsification of accounts and fraudulent transactions then that bank should debarred from that account.
Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said that wilful defaulter tag is a necessary tool in the hands of creditors to resolve distressed assets. Outstanding Loans: How much wilful defaulters owe banksSource-AIBEA

Patna: Chhath festival ends peacefully with prayers and offerings to the morning sun

Patna: The four-day Chhath festival ended peacefully in Bihar on Monday morning with millions of people, mostly women, ignoring the morning chill and taking a dip in the river to offer prayers to the rising sun.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Devotees, known as ‘varti‘, ended their 36-hour fast by offering prayers and floating lighted earthen lamps in the river and other water bodies. They also sang traditional songs and distributed offerings among family members, relatives and neighbours.

The offerings comprised fruits, home-made sweets like thekuas, pedas, pakwan, chawal ke laddoo (sweets made of rice), raw vegetables and the first crop from the fields. All the sweets and offerings were arranged in baskets and trays made of bamboo.

Chhath passing off peacefully barring a few minor incidents is a big relief to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the state administration, which had made elaborate security arrangements.

The Sun, considered the god of energy and life force, is worshipped during Chhath for well being, prosperity and progress.

The devotees had been offering prayers to the rising and setting sun since Friday.

According to officials, more than five lakh people gathered on the banks of the Ganges and Punpur rivers in the last two days to offer prayers to the Sun God in Patna and neighbouring districts.

Large crowds were also seen in Gaya, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnea and other districts of the state.

The celebrations began with devotees taking a dip in the river, a tradition known as ‘nahai khai’. It was followed by the ritual of ‘kharna’ on Saturday when sweet dishes were prepared and distributed among relatives and friends.

The festival, once limited to Bihar, has become popular across the country due to the large scale migration of workers from the state.

Chhath was widely celebrated in metros like Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad and states like Assam, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and even Tamil Nadu.

Top Maoist leader Ramakrishna’s wife tells Hyderabad HC he is ‘safe’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Top Naxalite leader Ramakrishna’s wife on Friday informed the Hyderabad High Court that her husband is “safe” and sought the court’s permission for withdrawal of the habeas corpus petition she filed earlier in this regard.”We informed the high court that Ramakrishna is safe and said we got information last night that he is safe. We requested to permit us to withdraw the habeas corpus which is posted after two weeks,” Kandula Sirisha told the court through her counsel V Raghunath.As the matter was not posted for Friday, the high court asked the petitioner to make an application through Registrar (Judicial) seeking to withdraw the petition. The matter is likely to come up for listing on Monday (November 7) and the court will pass an order in view of request by the petitioner.In the wake of an exchange of fire on Andhra-Odisha border on October 24 in which 24 Maoists were killed, doubts were expressed by the wife of Ramakrishna alias RK and relatives and party comrades that he might be in police custody. In the habeas corpus petition, Sirisha sought directions to the Andhra Pradesh government to produce the outlaw before the court and to record his statement for appropriate action.Andhra Pradesh Police on Thursday informed the high court that RK is not in their custody and following submission from the state police, the court had asked the petitioner, to produce before it any material with regard to him and posted the matter after two weeks.A division bench of justices C V Nagarjuna Reddy and M S K Jaiswal had earlier directed the Andhra Pradesh government to file counter affidavit informing the court whether RK was in police custody or not, while hearing the habeas corpus plea filed last week by Sirisha.Responding to the petition, Visakhapatnam Rural District Superintendent of Police Rahul Dev Sharma filed an affidavit before the court that RK, who is a member of the banned Central Committee of CPI (ML), is not in the custody of police. The senior police officer further submitted that the incident of exchange of fire has occurred in the territory of Odisha state and requested the court to dismiss the petition.On Thursday night, in a dramatic turn of events, a frontal organisation of the Maoists, the Revolutionary Writers Association (RWA) announced that RK was “safe”, barely hours after Sirisha alleged in the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad that her husband was in police custody.RWA leader Varavara Rao called Telugu television news channels over phone and announced that RK was “safe” but did not give any details about his whereabouts or condition. The late night announcement brought to an end the 10-day- old suspense and anxiety over RK’s state as there were allegations from Maoists’ frontal organisations and civil liberties groups that he might have been killed by the police in the October 24 encounter on the Andhra-Odisha border. Subsequently, these organisations alleged that RK was being held captive by the police and expressed apprehension that he too might be bumped off in a false encounter.

Modi govt made Pak pay price for terrorism against India: Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noting that the Narendra Modi government did not believe in “helplessness” or allowing issues to persist, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the firmness with which the Centre acted has finally paid off as Pakistan was made to realise that its indulgence in terrorism against India would become “unbearable” for that country.”People were surprised that the Government of India could take such a decision (surgical strikes) and our armed forces could, with such great competence and patriotism, execute it,” Jaitley told a gathering of BJP workers after he was felicitated for granting a special development package to Andhra Pradesh.”We saw, for over two months, one of the worst ever crises in Kashmir. But, you have a strong leader and a strong government at the Centre which was not willing to give a single signal that it was going to yield at the cost of national unity. The firmness has paid,” he said.”Pakistan had made it a routine activity to allow its territory to be used for terrorism against India. Historically, our response used to be that ‘we will raise it at the international fora, will isolate Pakistan…some diplomatic initiatives will be taken…For the first time, you have a government in Delhi which has told the neighbouring country that if you indulge in terrorism against India, you will pay the price for it. And, the cost of allowing your territory to be used for terrorism will become unbearable on you,” the Finance Minister said. He said India would continue to be the “fastest growing economy” in the world for at least another year.”Notwithstanding the slowdown of the world economy, even today, for two years in a row, despite a global economic crisis, India has become the fastest growing economy in the world. Hopefully, it will be so for the next one year,” Jaitley said.”Half the tenure of this government is over and it has wiped out the word corruption from the corridors of Delhi. Even today, when people speak of corruption, they speak of corruption of the previous government. Nobody is even willing to raise an issue against this government,” he said.The manner in which the Narendra Modi government was functioning, it was establishing a “new political culture” in the country, Jaitley said.”You have in the Prime Minister a leader who has the courage and capacity to take decisions. He is even willing to take tough decisions, at times, even unpopular decisions, provided they are in the larger interest of the country,” he said.”Today, people say, he (Modi) is moving too fast. That is how governments are supposed to be led. On the issue of national security, he has shown clarity of mind and firmness which are attached to the very character and philosophy of the BJP,” the Finance Minister said.Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, BJP Andhra Pradesh affairs in-charge Siddharth Nath Singh, state party chief and MP K Haribabu, state ministers K Srinivas and P Manikyala Rao were present at the event among others.

Maoists on the run: Support for the ‘ideological’ terrorists is now dwindling

In 1971, the playground of the high school, where I studied in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh was taken over by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). We didn’t mind it because the jawans played volley ball with us and gave us chapathis at lunch time. The CRPF was there in big strength to weed out Naxalites who infested the countryside around.

Two years after the 1967 “peasant uprising” in West Bengal’s Naxalbari — the village that got the group their name — the Naxalites began to unleash terror in the Srikakulam district, bordering what was then Orissa.

It’s more or less in the same region that Maoists — as Naxalites call themselves now — have been getting a severe beating from the police forces of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha this week. After Monday’s ‘encounter’ at Malkangiri in Odisha, in which 24 Maoists were killed, the police are continuing their combing operations in the area. They have gunned down six more Maoists since Monday and among those killed are some of their important “leaders”, while many others are still on the run.

Perhaps the Naxals have never had it so bad since the death of their original founder Charu Mazumdar in the police lockup in 1972. With a publicly professed goal to ‘overthrow’ the Indian government through ‘armed struggle’ and ‘extreme violence’, they decimated thousands of security personnel and civilians in the last five decades. However, they are now coming to learn that terror begets terror.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Forty-five years after I left Srikakulam, I still remember the stories of Naxalites beheading landlords who according to them were exploiting the peasants.

And to spread terror, they circulated photographs of severed heads they hung from doorposts of the landowners’ homes. I remember those gruesome photographs as if I saw them yesterday. And with the blood of those they butchered, they wrote slogans about “revolution” on the walls , declaring their allegiance to Marx and Lenin.

It was not till many years later that I was able to meet some Naxalites in the bowels of rural Telangana. They were all young, both boys and girls, ranging from postgraduates to school or college dropouts. They were gung-ho about the revolution that they day-dreamed was just round the corner to metamorphose India into a heaven on earth, a society of equals where there would be no injustice.

They threw at me rhetoric that included phrases like “fight against imperialists”, “annihilation of class enemies” and “armed struggle”.

At first they looked like cases of juvenile delinquency, kids out to have ideological fun who would soon get bored with it and settle down to jobs and marriages. Some did, but many went on and on, and the “movement” grew from village to village, district to district and state to state.

It was with both fear and hope that villagers, especially adivasis, supported them. The rural folk was terrified of what the red mobs, with weapons looted from police stations, would do if they didn’t back them. At the same time, villagers who were victims of exploitation at the hands of landlords, corrupt officials and the police saw hope in the Naxalites. Moreover, Indira Gandhi’s institutionalisation of caste-based vote-bank politics and corruption added to the neglect by successive Congress regimes in the states only drove adivasis closer to the Marxist-Leninist ‘soldiers’.

And by the time different Naxal outfits merged into Communist Party of India (Maoist) in 2004, they became active in what is called India’s Red Corridor, starting from the Nepal border and cutting through West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka and Kerala. The Maoists, as they were called since the merger, had an army of nearly 12,000 foot soldiers across states.

Besides, they had, and still have, lakhs of supporters and sympathisers everywhere, especially among academic bauddhiks (so-called intellectuals) who routinely find places in the media and dubious institutions starting from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to small-town colleges. Most of the bauddhiks, at least the ones I had the misfortune of being acquainted with, talk Maoism by day and drown themselves in scotch by night, but that’s another matter.

It’s not surprising that the Maoists virtually run parallel governments in small parts of the Red Corridor, collecting taxes, providing amenities like healthcare and even running kangaroo courts for quick justice. All this filled the Maoists with the cheap thrills of a “successful revolution”.

At some point, they were also in touch with Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for weapons and training, and they still have an open channel of communication with their counterparts in Nepal. The talk of Maoists joining hands with Islamic terrorists or getting arms from China has, however, never been confirmed.

On a rare occasion in 2006, even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, known for his economy of words, spoke up. He described Maoists as the “biggest internal-security threat” India faced. In 2009, the CPI (Maoist) was banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Maoist numbers and support dwindling

The good news, however, is that all this has been changing, even if at a slow pace. Their numbers have been dwindling and support diminishing.

The decline of the movement is not a sudden development. In a rare interview to Rahul Pandita, author of ‘Hello Bastar: The Untold Story of India’s Maoist Movement’, the General Secretary of the CPI (Maoist) and the supreme commander of the Maoists Mupalla Laxman Rao alias Ganapathi admitted in 2009, “Our war is in the stage of strategic defence … (it) will last for some more time.”

The Maoists were also in touch with LTTE for weapons and training, and they still communicate with their counterparts in Nepal. The talk of Maoists joining hands with Islamic terrorists or getting arms from China has, however, never been confirmed.

And in 2013, According to a report in TehelkaGanapathi admitted in a letter to party members that Maoists faced a leadership crisis with numbers of both leaders and members on the decline.

Indeed, the strength of the party’s Politburo has dropped from 14 to seven and the Central Committee from 40 to about 20, with the rest either killed by the police or lodged in jails. The number of the party’s active members or armed soldiers has fallen from nearly 12,000 to about 8,000.

This could be attributed to the fact that the police forces across states have stepped up their hunt for Maoists, killing them in real or fake encounters, and welfare schemes of governments have been benefitting affected villages, though to a small extent.

Besides, Maoists have also been digging their own graves by turning arrogant. Stories of their atrocities — killing innocent villagers on a mere suspicion of being police informers and forced recruitment — have been heard with increasing regularity. And they have been increasingly resorting to extortion, blackmail, illegal mining and even poppy cultivation to raise money for their operations.

Moreover, there has been internal bickering. The rift between the dominant Telugu lobby and the non-Telugu leaders and members has been widening. A good number of them have surrendered to the police and turned informers.

It’s clear that this week’s police ‘encounters’ on the AP-Odisha border were made possible because either the villagers or disgruntled Maoists blew the whistle.

The Maoists are down, yes, though not out. But now is the time to totally weed them out and remove the ideological pollution from India’s rural-scape. As in the case of forest brigand Veerappan, the Maoists’ biggest strength has been support from villagers, voluntary or forced. The authorities have been trying, and must continue to, deprive them of this support.

Any let-up in the combing operations by the police or the welfare schemes aimed at tribals would only help the ideological terrorists to regain strength. Ideological or not, the Maoists are terrorists and members of a banned organisation, and they and their supporters and sympathisers must be dealt with accordingly.

Chandrababu Naidu’s plan to ban Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes won’t cut through Andhra’s black money economy

Just few hours before the expiration of the Income Declaration Scheme (to disclose black money), officials at the Income Tax Towers at AC Guards in Hyderabad were in for a shock. A frail-bearded individual who claimed to be Gopalan had brought thirteen suitcases full of assorted currency, some in haphazard bundling. There were seven American Tourister suitcases with Rs 1,000 notes, and the rest with Rs 500 notes. It took a dozen of IT sleuths and half a dozen counting machines to complete the task in five hours.

The officials did not mind though, as the Finance Ministry ranked the team first, and announced a bonus for them all. “He made us famous and took us to top of the list,” says a senior IT official with glee.

Representational image. Reuters

It was not just the IT officers who were gleeful though. The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) too were in joy. The frail Gopalan had given them enough grist to start a mudslinging fest.

Immediately following this episode, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu launched a verbal attack on his opponent and Opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy. “I want the Centre to demonetise all the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes if it really wants to end the reign of black money in the country,” he said.

Naidu did not stop at this statement, though. He went ahead and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his demand, but not bothering to explain his logic behind it. The publicity wing of the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) then launched a tirade against Jagan, alleging that he was the one who disclosed the hoard, citing sources from the NDA government.

Slugfest over black money

Sources told Firstpost that after the Congress came to power in 2004, Jagan had paid an income tax of Rs 7 crore against Rs 2.9 lakh he paid in 2002. In the wake of CBI cases foisted on him in 2012-13, Jagan had made advance tax payment of Rs 84 crore. In the 2014 election affidavit, he had mentioned an asset base of Rs 416 crore and liabilities of Rs 137 crore. In the year 2015, Jagan made an advance tax payment of Rs 22 crore. These figures are also bandied about by the TDP to fling mud at their main Opposition party, hoping that some of it will stick.

But Jagan and YSR Congress party leaders are not silent spectators. They ask how Chandrababu Naidu became rich with just two acres of ancestral property in his native Naravaripally village of Chittoor. They allege that Naidu amassed wealth during his first tenure, and now again in the current tenure. “Naidu had made corrupt money worth Rs 1.32 lakh crore after Amaravati, Pattiseema, Polavaram and Rayalaseema (irrigation) projects,” says Ambati Rambabu, YSRC spokesperson.

If Naidu could write a letter to the Prime Minister, so could Jagan. So, he wrote to the PM demanding all names involved in the disclosure of Rs 13,000 crore worth of black money in Hyderabad to be made public. “Why is Chandrababu alone privy to that information and not the public?” he asked in a two-page letter. The Prime Minister’s Office has not responded to either of these letters. “It is also an irony that just recently AP, under Naidu, has been ranked as the most corrupt state in the country by National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER),” adds Jagan.

Naidu’s son Lokesh jumped into the fray to take on Jagan disclosing family assets for the sixth time since 2011, an exercise Naidu began five years ago to gain a “Mr Clean” image ahead of polls. Naidu declared a net worth of Rs 3.73 crore (1,312 times less than Jagan) and his wife Bhuvaneshwari net worth was Rs 33.66 crore. Son Lokesh declared Rs 14.5 crore, daughter-in-law Brahmani declared Rs 5.38 crore and his grandson Devansh Naidu Rs 11.7 crore. “No other political family has declared its property list in such a transparent manner,” said Lokesh, as he made the declaration.

Andhra: Hub Of black money

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, though separate states now, boast of a heritage of rich agricultural activity even before Independence. Wealth distribution, though, was uneven. While only four districts in Telangana had the potential for economic activity, the entire coastal region of what is now Andhra Pradesh, flourished, and with it, large scale corruption.

Black money dominates the lifestyle of the coastal regions — for instance, during Sankranti Pandugalu (harvest festival), mango and banana plantations are hired for week-long gambling, wine and women, an attraction for politicians and businessmen from across the country, who participate as guests.

A small village near Mogalthuru (native to film star Chiranjeevi) was known for its fine collection of Harley Davidson bikes, Lenovo laptops, Apple iPhone 6 smartphones, and Paris Hilton fashion. Recently one resident of this village acquired a Rolls Royce Phantom car, and it made a journey of only three kilometres every evening, because that was the length of the only motorable road in the village. “I earn as much as Rs 72 lakhs as my share from paddy, sugarcane and tobacco crops twice a year. I pay no tax and can buy anything,” says Sunil Raju, a farmer in Mogalthuru village.

Hyderabad: The new hub

In pre-Independent India, Hyderabad has always been a seat of enormous wealth. The last Nizam, Osman Ali Pasha, even doled out a plane load of gold to Pakistan in the initial days of its making. After his death, most of his wealth was squandered by his adopted son Nizam Mukkaram Jah and his brother Muffakam Jah.

From 1983, money began pouring into Hyderabad when Seemandhra industrialists saw opportunity and were assured of fair play by the TDP which had come to power for the first time. The vast agricultural wealth of Seemandhra flowed into Telangana. Farmers of Seemandhra ventured not only into Hyderabad, but also made investments wherever there was irrigation potential — Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Nalgonda and Khammam in Telangana; Raichur and Bellary in Karnataka; and Nanded, Aurangabad and Sholapur in Maharashtra. “Without political support, it is impossible to make huge investments and tackle the power of local musclemen,” explains Vadde Shobanadeswar Rao, a former TDP minister and businessman from Vijayawada.

N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Reuters

Most of the agricultural income has gone into creation of IT infrastructure in the city’s IT corridor and in creating residential spaces in Manikonda, Gachibowli, Nizampet, Jubilee Hills, Shamshabad and Shamirpet.

Rise of a parallel economy

Everybody wanted to cash in. A journalist-turned-real-estate-agent, Govind Reddy would have sack loads of currency in his car to buy vacant land available in the city. When he died in a car accident in 2008, police were shocked to find Rs 2 crore worth currency in his car. Farmers and small land holders around Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Medak districts had a windfall when Hyderabad became a major hub for IT activity under the initiatives of Chandrababu Naidu, and then BJP-led NDA government under Atal Behari Vajpayee. An acre of private land was quoted at Rs 10-15 crore during that boom period.

The story of K Raghunath Reddy is illustrative of the conditions prevailing at the time. Reddy, a school teacher with three acres in Manikonda, says he almost had a heart attack when buyers offered him Rs 10 crore per acre. His family wanted him to sell just one acre so that they could build a house with a courtyard to keep two buffaloes. “He asked the buyers to give him just Rs 1 crore at the time and keep the rest in deposit until he decided to make investments. Even then he could not handle the cash and spent most of it on a Singapore-Bangkok tour with family, and kept the rest in his toilet/bedroom in plastic bags,” said a family member who did not wish to be named. Reddy took his entire family and neighbours on a Singapore tour for a week, hosted by the buyers. He bought a Zen car for each of his family members as well, and installed air conditioners in his courtyard for the buffaloes.

The parallel black money economy also bred social and communal unrest, according to social analysts. “The rise of Maoism, a louder, shriller Telangana movement, the Seemandhra agitation, the birth of the TDP, failure of Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam party, growth of MIM, formation of YSRC — all of these are a fallout of the support or lack of it by these parallel forces,” says Nageswar Rao, a senior columnist based in Hyderabad.

This black parallel economy also dominated media circles. “How did ventures like Udayam, Vartha and Metro fail while others with highly prejudiced content are on top of the charts,” asks Rao.

A study conducted on the economic wealth of Andhra and Telangana by the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) in the wake of Telangana agitation, identified that huge parallel economy of both the regions were behind the protests. “They are fanning and funding, and function as custodians of this regional battle,” says the study submitted to the Justice Srikrishna Committee which was in charge of bifurcation. The same agency had surmised then that that the parallel black economy of the erstwhile united AP was worth over Rs 25 lakh crore.

The illegality runs deep and has a long history. Unfortunately, for Chandrababu Naidu, simply demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will not help. And the Rs 13,000 crore worth of disclosures from Hyderabad are a mere tip of the black money iceberg.

Malkangiri encounter: Maoists threaten to kill Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, son

Security agencies involved in anti-Maoist operations are on a high alert after the CPI (Maoist) issued a threat to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his son Lokesh, and pledged to avenge the killing of 28 Maoists in the Malkangiri operation. In a statement issued by the CPI (Maoists)’s AP state committee, the ultras have said that they will even press a suicide bomber, if necessary, to attack Naidu.

Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh. CNN-News 18

Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh. CNN-News 18

The police in Andhra Pradesh have taken notice of why the CPM has used its defunct AP state committee to issue a statement on an encounter that took place in Odisha. Once their stronghold, Andhra Pradesh (Telangana included), has all key Maoist leaders in its territory either killed or arrested.

“For an encounter in Andhra-Odisha border area, their AOBSZC (Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zone Committee) should have issued a statement,” said a state police official. The police suspect that the overground supporters of Maoists issued the statement in AP state committee’s name.

Security briefs suggest that Maoists will retaliate sooner than later in response to the Malkangiri encounter. “They will carry out an attack to boost the morale of the cadre and also to show that a setback like the one in Malkangiri is just a part of its war against the Indian state,” said the police official.

The police are suspecting retaliatory attacks in Maoist hotbeds like Bastar in Chhattisgarh or Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have also been on alert as the police suspect the Maoists may try to carry out an audacious attack in the state to send a signal that they have not been wiped out completely from their erstwhile bastion.

Political leaders have been advised not to travel through interior areas. In Telangana, arrangements have been made at vulnerable government offices to prevent loss of property. The surrendered Maoist cadres and police informers also have been asked to take precautions.

Alert sounded in Odisha districts after killing of Maoists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A high alert has been sounded in the Maoist-affected southern Odisha districts, including Kandhamal and Gajapati, after the rebels suffered heavy casualty in an encounter with security forces along the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border. The alert has been sounded following the gunning down of 27 Maoists in a fierce gunbattle with a joint team of Greyhounds Force of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha police in the cut-off area along Andhra borders in Malkangiri district in the wee hours yesterday, officials said. “We have asked the forces to keep a strict vigil on the movements of the ultras in the region,” said Inspector General of Police, Southern Range, Amitabh Thakur. As the movement of guerrillas in some districts, including Gajapati, Kandhamal and Boudh, is frequently noticed, checking of vehicles has been intensified, another senior police official said. “Besides patrolling, combing is being intensified in some select Maoist-hit areas in the district as precautionary measures,” said Kandhamal Superintendent of Police Pinak Mishra. Similar operations have also been carried out in Gajapati and Boudh, officials said. No casualty was reported in the gunbattle between the Maoists and the forces in Gajapati district recently. But five civilians, mostly tribals, were killed in alleged cross-firing between rebels and forces near Gumudumaha village under Kandhamal district’s Baliguda police limits on July 8. Police officials said there was a possibility of ultras from neighbouring Chhattisgarh entering the tribal-dominated Kandhamal district. The rebels were desperately trying to regroup in the district after their top leader Sabyasachi Panda was arrested here on July 18, 2014. Security forces had recovered three improvised explosive devices, a claymore mine and some live ammunition, suspected to have been planted by Maoists, near Khandaba ghat in Gajapati district on September 9. PTI

Maoist-affected districts of Odisha on high alert after encounter in Malkangiri

Berhampur: A high alert has been sounded in the Maoist-affected southern Odisha districts, including Kandhamal and Gajapati, after the rebels suffered heavy casualty in an encounter with security forces along the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border.

The alert has been sounded following the gunning down of 24 Maoists in a fierce gun battle with a joint team of Greyhounds Force of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha police in the cut-off area along Andhra borders in Malkangiri district in the wee hours of Monday, officials said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“We have asked the forces to keep a strict vigil on the movements of the ultras in the region,” said Inspector General of Police, Southern Range, Amitabh Thakur.

As the movement of guerrillas in some districts, including Gajapati, Kandhamal and Boudh, is frequently noticed, checking of vehicles has been intensified, another senior police official said.

“Besides patrolling, combing is being intensified in some select Maoist-hit areas in the district as precautionary measures,” said Kandhamal superintendent of police Pinak Mishra.

Similar operations have also been carried out in Gajapati and Boudh, officials said.

No casualty was reported in the gun battle between the Maoists and the forces in Gajapati district recently. But five civilians, mostly tribals, were killed in alleged cross-firing between rebels and forces near Gumudumaha village under Kandhamal district’s Baliguda police limits on 8 July.

Police officials said there was a possibility of ultras from neighbouring Chhattisgarh entering the tribal-dominated Kandhamal district. The rebels were desperately trying to regroup in the district after their top leader Sabyasachi Panda was arrested here on 18 July, 2014.

Security forces had recovered three improvised explosive devices, a claymore mine and some live ammunition, suspected to have been planted by Maoists, near Khandaba ghat in Gajapati district on 9 September.

Retired air force officer, former Andhra MP booked by CBI in corruption case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have registered a case under Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act against a retired officer of the India Air Force and a former Member of Parliament who represented the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh. According to the probe agency the retired air force officials allegedly helped the former Parliamentarian to acquire agricultural land in south-west Delhi’s Najafgarh area which has recently seen a surge in land investments real estate development.The charges against the accused also include that the two men, with the help of a Delhi based bank manager, allegedly amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income during 2007 to 2012. The total amount of money involved in the case is to the tune of approximately Rs12 crore.The Indian Air Force officer has been identified as Polu Sridhar, who retired as a Squadron leader. CBI sources said that the politician allegedly involved in the case is Balashowry Vallabhaneni who was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha of India and represented the Tenali constituency of Andhra Pradesh.The agency has also booked Manish Saxena who was the then branch manager of Axis Bank. The three have been booked under section 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and section 109 of the Indian Penal Code. The agency also conducted searches at three locations that include Guntur, Hyderabad and Noida.According to CBI sources, transactions worth Rs11.96 crore were made through Axis Bank’s Najafgarh branch between November 2007 to December 2012. “The transfers were allegedly made between Mr Polu Sridhar and Mr Balashowry Vallabhaneni in between the said period. Three suspected transactions that have come to fore are one running to the tune of Rs8.49 crores, Rs1.27 crore and more than two crores. The transactions include cash deposits as well,”said a CBI source.The source added that the transactions were made possible with the help of Saxena who has been accused of allegedly conniving with the senior air force official.According to officials, the accused will likely be questioned in the coming week. “We have already conducted searches at the premises belonging to those names in the case. Further action will depend on the direction which the probe against the accused takes,”said a CBI official.

Maoists lose three-decade-old ‘safe haven’ in Odisha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the killing of at least 24 Maoists, including seven of their top leaders, dealt a major psychological blow to the outlawed CPI(Maoist) in Odisha, it has boosted the morale of the security personnel as the Maoists have lost their “safe home” in Malkangiri district.The killings took place during a joint operation by Odisha and Andhra Pradesh police at Bejingi in the Panasput gram panchayat area under Chitrakonda police station in Malkangiri district, surrounded by hills and forests on three sides and Balimela reservoir on one.The ultras used to take shelter there after committing violence in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, said Nihar Nayak, a researcher of the Maoist movement in Odisha, adding that they used to take advantage of the geographical location of the area since they started operating from these parts in the 1980s.When the Maoists had started using the place as a “safe haven” in the 80s, the then Odisha government had taken little action because the ultras refrained from creating any disturbance in the state. Their activities were mostly confined to Andhra Pradesh, said a senior police officer.The Bejingi area, where today’s operation took place, had hosted a meeting of top Maoist trainers last night. The rebels did not think that the security personnel would launch an assault in the deep forests surrounded by hills and flanked by a reservoir, the officer said. The Maoists had eliminated at least 38 security personnel, including 35 members of Greyhound, Andhra Pradesh’s elite anti-Naxal force, while they were crossing the Balimela reservoir in a mechanised boat in 2008.At least 24 Maoists, including seven of their top leaders, were today gunned down in a fierce gun-battle with the security forces in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on the border with Andhra Pradesh.While using the place as a “safe haven”, the Maoists also used the carrot-and-stick policy for the locals. The villagers who opposed them were eliminated after being branded as “police informers” and those who supported them got praise from the rebels, said a panchayat level politician from Chitrokonda area.In their bid to keep the “cut-off area” safe and out of reach for the security personnel, the Maoists in the past had destroyed equipment used in road construction, mobile phone towers and government buildings. Now that the Odisha government has been constructing a major bridge (918-mtr) at Gurupriya to connect 151 villages in the “cut-off area”, the Maoists would further lose their “safe shelter”, said a local engineer, adding that the construction of the bridge was likely to be completed by the end of 2018.Meanwhile, the Maoists’ stronghold of Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks in Koraput district are now “within the reach” of the administration after a series of police operations.”After today’s operation, the Maoists have suffered a major setback in the entire south Odisha, particularly in Koraput and Malkangiri districts,” a top police officer involved in anti-Maoist operations said.Earlier, the Maoist movement had suffered a setback when Sabyasachi Panda quit the CPI(Maoist) and formed his own group, ‘Odisha Maobadi Party’. Panda is in jail, leading to a decline in Maoist activities in Gajapati, Rayagada and Ganjam districts. However, the Maoists have re-grouped in Kalahandi, Boudh and Kandhamal. Naxal cadres, mostly from Chhattisgarh, operate in the western region of the state, while the guerrillas from Andhra Pradesh operate in south Odisha, the officer said.Today’s successful operation took place when the Maoists were threatening the people to boycott the three-tier panchayat polls slated for February next. Maoist leader Ramakrishna had reportedly addressed a meeting in the Jantri area in the “cut-off zone” earlier this month and asked the tribals to boycott the polls.

Major blow to Maoists, 24 including top leaders gunned down in encounter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> At least 24 Maoists, including their top leaders, were gunned down in a fierce gun-battle with security forces in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on the border with Andhra Pradesh, giving a major blow to the ultras.A senior commando of the elite anti-Naxal force, Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh was also killed, while another commando was injured in the encounter that took place in the cut-off area of remote Chitrakonda on Andhra-Odisha border, Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said. “The bodies of 24 Maoists, including that of some women, were recovered from the site after the joint operation conducted by the Odisha police and Greyhounds, while a few of the rebels are suspected to have fled,” the SP said.He said two senior Greyhounds commandos, who were injured in the gun-battle in the wee hours, had been airlifted to Visakhapatnam for treatment and one of them, identified as Abubacker, succumbed to injuries in a hospital there. The other commando is undergoing treatment. Some high-ranking Maoist leaders, including Uday and Chalapati who carried heavy rewards on their heads, were suspected to be among those killed in the encounter that took place in a mountainous forest area between Bejing and Muchiputam under Panasput grampanchyat, the police said.Stating that the operation was launched on the basis of intelligence inputs, Odisha GDP K B Singh said 10 rifles, four AK-47 rifles, three SLRs, kit bags and huge ammunition have been recovered from the site and search operation was continuing. There was information about the presence of cadres of Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee in the area and Odisha police teams also got it verified that Naxal camps were operating there, the DGP said.”Since the area is located in the cut-off area on Andhra-Odisha border, the operation was launched from the other side and Greyhounds took the lead,” Singh said. Meanwhile, arrangements are being made to airlift the bodies of the slain Maoists to Malkangiri, the SP said adding that combing operation was also intensified in the forest in Andhra-Odisha border areas to locate bodies, if any, and the fleeing Maoists.Noting that the encounter site was located in a highly remote area which is accessible by road only through Andhra Pradesh, he said the bodies are to be airlifted by helicopter to Malkangiri.Malkangiri served as a major transit belt of the Naxals. In September 2013, as many as 13 Maoists were killed in an exchange of fire with the police in the Padia area of Malkangiri district. The operation is seen as a revenge of the attack on June 29, 2008 when Maoists had ambushed a boat carrying Greyhound jawans in the reservoir at Alampaka. Altogether 38 persons, including 35 Greyhound jawans from Andhra Pradesh, had been killed in the attack

Maoists encounter: Senior greyhounds commando dies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior commando of Andhra Pradesh greyhounds, who was injured in an exchange of fire with Maoists on the AP-Odisha border early on Monday, succumbed to injuries in Vishakhapatnam. Visakhapatnam (Rural) Superintendent of Police, Rahul Dev Sharma said that the commando succumbed at a hospital.The deceased Abubacker, along with another senior commando, was injured in the exchange of fire with ultras in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Monday morning. Both the injured were brought in a helicopter from the encounter site and admitted to the King George Hospital for treatment.Abubacker, who hails from Gajuwaka near Vishakhapatnam, died while undergoing treatment. Greyhounds is AP’s elite anti-Maoist force.Earlier in day, 21 Naxals lost their life in firing with troopers in a major operation launched by security forces on Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border.

18 Maoists killed, two constables injured in encounter on Andhra-Odisha border

18 Maoists killed, two constables injured in encounter on Andhra-Odisha border


Visakhapatnam: Eighteen Maoists were gunned down in an exchange of fire with the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Police in Malkangiri forest area on the AP-Odisha border in the wee hours on Monday, a top police official said.

Andhra Pradesh police. Reuters

Andhra Pradesh police. Reuters

According to Andhra Police, two constables of Greyhounds, an elite anti-Maoist force, were injured in the encounter that occurred during a routine combing operation being jointly carried out by police of both the states at Ramgurha in Malkangiri district of Odisha.

The face-off between the security personnel and the outlaws lasted for about an hour. The injured constables were shifted for treatment to the King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam by helicopter, the police official added.

Police have recovered four AK-47 rifles from the scene of the encounter. AP Director General of Police Nanduri Sambasiva Rao left for Visakhapatnam immediately upon receiving news of the encounter.

The DGP said combing operation was still continuing as there was information that there were some more Maoists roaming in the region.

IMD warns Odisha fishermen after deep depression occurs over Bay of Bengal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fishermen were asked by the IMD on Sunday to be cautious while venturing into sea along the Odisha coast in view of a deep depression over the Bay of Bengal, with the system likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm.A depression over east-central Bay of Bengal moved east-north-eastwards, intensified into a deep depression today and lay centered over east-central Bay of Bengal, about 950 km east-southeast of Gopalpur, the MeT Department here said. The system is most likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm in 24 hours and move north-eastwards to reach close to north Myanmar coast shortly. Thereafter, it will recurve initially north-northwestwards skirting Myanmar coast and then north-westwards towards the of north-west Bay of Bengal, it said. While sporadic rainfall may occur in 11 districts in the central and north Odisha on October 26 and 27, weather elsewhere in the state would be generally dry during the next 24 hours, but the sky would be cloudy, Director of the Meteorological Centre here, Sarat Chandra Sahu said. However, Distant Cautionary Signal Number One (DC-I) has been hoisted at all ports in Odisha and fishermen are advised to be cautious while venturing into interior and distant sea along Odisha coast during the period. The withdrawal line of southwest monsoon continues to pass through Lat.22 N/Long.94 E, Lat.19 N/Long.90 E, Lat.16 N/Long.85 E, Tirupathi, Bengaluru, Mangalooru, Lat.13 N/Long.70 E and Lat.13 N/Long.60 E. Conditions are becoming favourable for further withdrawal of southwest monsoon from the remaining parts of the country during next 2 – 3 days. The Depression over eastcentral Bay of Bengal moved east-northeastwards and lay centred at 1730 hours IST of yesterday, the 22nd October 2016 over the same region near Lat.14.9 N/Long.92.0 E about, 370 kms north-northwest of Port Blair and 490 kms southwest of Yangon (Myanmar).It continued to move east-northeastwards and intensified into a Deep Depression over Arakan coast and adjoining eastcentral Bay of Bengal and lies centred at 0830 hours IST of today, the 23rd October 2016 near Lat. 15.5 N/Long. 93.0 E about, 420 kms north of Port Blair and 360 kms west-southwest of Yangon (Myanmar). The system is most likely to intensify further into a Cyclonic Storm during 24 hours. It is likely to move northeastwards and reach close to north Myanmar coast by today evening. Thereafter, it is likely to recurve initially north-northwestwards skirting Myanmar coast and then northwestwards towards northwest Bay of Bengal. The cyclonic circulation over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Lakshadweep area now lies over southeast Arabian Sea and neighbourhood and extends between 3.1 & 5.8 kms a. s. l. The western disturbance as an upper air cyclonic circulation over northern parts of Jammu & Kashmir and neighbourhood has moved away east-northeastwards.A fresh western disturbance as an upper air trough in mid tropospheric westerlies runs with its axis at 3.1 kms a. s. l. roughly along Long.64 E to the north of Lat.32 N. System is likely to move east-northeastwards. In the regions where the southwest monsoon has withdrawn: Day temperatures were appreciably to markedly above normal in some parts of Assam and Meghalaya and of coastal Andhra Pradesh; appreciably above normal in some parts of east Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Rayalaseema and of south interior Karnataka and were above normal in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur, Mizoram-Tripura, West Bengal and Sikkim, Bihar, west Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha and of Telangana and in remaining parts of coastal Andhra Pradesh.

All issues between AP, Telangana to be resolved amicably: Guv Narasimhan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Governor E S L Narasimhan on Friday asserted that there were “no disputes” between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and all issues were being sorted out through negotiations.After a 90-minute meeting with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in Vijayawada this afternoon, Narasimhan told reporters that “if there is any (contentious) issue, we will resolve it amicably through discussions”.”There are no disputes (between AP and Telangana). Only the media is seeking controversies. We are sorting out everything through discussions. Even in the case of Schedule 9 and 10 of the AP Reorganisation Act-2104, we are trying to address them through negotiations,” the Governor, common for both the states, said.On his part, the Chief Minister too said confrontation was good for none. “We are ready to resolve all issues amicably. But there will be no compromise on the state’s interests,” Chandrababu said. The Chief Minister said he discussed law and order, development and “all issues” with the Governor.”Since I met him after some gap, we discussed all issues,” he said.Asked if he discussed about the possible expansion of the state Council of Ministers, Chandrababu said, “If there is anything, I will let you know first.”On Telangana government’s request that buildings vacated by the AP government in the Secretariat at Hyderabad be handed over to it, the Chief Minister said they would discuss the issue and take a decision.

Zakir Naik’s NGO case: Suspended IAS officer reinstated by govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Senior IAS officer G K Dwivedi, who was suspended after the licence of an NGO of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to receive foreign grant was renewed by a Home Ministry’s division headed by him, was today reinstated by the government, nearly 50 days after the action. The competent authority has approved for placing the services of Dwivedi, a 1993 batch IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs on “compulsory wait” in the Department of Personnel and Training, from October 17, 2016, said an official order.Dwivedi, along with three of his junior officers in Home Ministry, was suspended on September 1 for allegedly facilitating renewal of the license given under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to Naik’s NGO — Islamic Research Foundation. A departmental inquiry was also instituted by the Home Ministry into the issue. Those suspended included two deputy secretaries and one section officer, official sources said. Today’s action comes after representatives of IAS officers’ association and senior bureaucrats working in the Home Ministry had vouched for his “integrity and hard work” and asked the government to revoke his suspension.The action against Dwivedi was taken after the Home Ministry found that Naik NGO’s licence was renewed by the Ministry’s Foreigners Division headed by him despite several ongoing probes, including one by it. Upset over suspension, 15 Joint Secretaries in Home Ministry conveyed to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi that action against Dwivedi was “demoralising” and “harsh on an honest officer”. Naik is under probe for allegedly radicalising youths and attracting them towards extremism, the sources said.The central IAS officers’ association had last month also asked the Centre to revoke the suspension of Dwivedi, saying it has led to “demoralisation” in the rank and file of the officers working in the central secretariat. “Dwivedi is known for his integrity and hard work. In his last two years of his tenure he has implemented about 17 important initiatives of the government,” the association had said. There are 4,926 IAS officers working across the country.

Aadhar count crosses 106 crore; UIDAI launches ‘Challenge Drive’ to enrol leftover population

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has launched a drive to enrol any leftover population for Aadhaar in 22 states and UTs that have “statistically” hit 100 % coverage for adults. The ‘Challenge drive’ starts from October 15 for a month, a UIDAI statement said, adding that as of Friday, over 106.69 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated across the country.The latest drive is aimed at targeting the floating population, leftover residents and the infirm in these states and UTs, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Delhi, and Punjab that are statistically reflecting a full adult population coverage of Aadhaar. The idea is to ensure no person is left out in the enrolment.”This is in furtherance of our enrolment exercise to achieve universal coverage for Aadhaar across the country,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said. As part of the Challenge drive, the residents of these states/UTs who have not yet enrolled for the 12-digit resident identification number are being asked to register themselves at, the statement said.It said those keen to register themselves will have to provide a mobile number as well as other demographic details. “The person will be then contacted and enrolled on a priority basis through special camps or at enrolment stations located near him/her,” it added.

Hyderabad Girl’s death: Lokayukta seeks report from police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Lokayukta for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana called for a report from Hyderabad Police in connection with the death a 13-year-old girl on Thursday, who died allegedly after undertaking a 68-day fast as part of a community ritual.Based on a complaint filed by a local child rights NGO, ‘Balala Hakkula Sangham’ (Child Rights Association), Lokayukta Justice B Subhashan Reddy called for a report from Deputy Commissioner of Police (North Zone) by October 24.NGO president Anuradha Rao, in her complaint, had alleged that the girl’s parents and family members made her undertake fast for 68-days, which it claimed led her to death. On October 9, the parents and other family members of the girl, a student of class VIII in a private school, were booked on charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for causing her death, police had said.A case was registered with Market Police here under section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC and section 75 of JJ (Juvenile Justice) Act against the teenage girl’s parents and others. The girl’s parents, who reside at Pot Bazar of Secunderabad, have already been questioned over her death.The NGO, in a letter to Hyderabad Police Commissioner on Saturday last, had alleged that the minor had died under “suspicious circumstances” on October 3. Police had earlier said, “The girl was on a fast for 68 days. It was over on October 1. She was on a liquid diet for the first two days (after the fast) and on the night of October 3, she suddenly fell ill and her family members shifted her to a hospital where doctors declared her brought dead.”