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Sasikala Natarajan to formally take charge of AIADMK today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>VK Sasikala Natarajan, 54, a close aide of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, will on Saturday formally take charge as general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) at the party’s headquarters in Chennai.AIADMK party members had in a unanimous resolution adopted at the party’s general council meeting earlier this week, appointed Sasikala to the post. The AIADMK in its general body meeting passed a resolution to work under the leadership of Sasikala.The resolution was accepted by Sasikala, the confirmation of which was posted on the party’s Twitter handle. “AIADMK adopts resolution to work under the leadership of Chinnamma,” it read.After Jayalalithaa died, the party had announced that Natarajan would replace her as the chief of her party even though she is not technically qualified. The general secretary has to have completed five years as an active member.

Sasikala to be elected AIADMK gen secy, but will stay away from GC meet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>V K Sasikala, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide, has not revealed her cards yet but she is expected to be elected the AIADMK General Secretary on December 29 as thousands of party executives, with their supporters, flooded Chennai today. Sasikala herself is expected to stay away while the party executive committee and general council will formally elect her as the leader. She apparently wants to convey the impression of a reluctant politician — that she doesn’t want any post but it is the party that has thrust the post on her.All the district units of the ruling party had already held meetings to adopt a resolution, urging her to take over the leadership. Her election on December is expected to be a mere formality. Posters hailing the Chinna Amma (Small Mother) have sprung up all over Chennai to greet Sasikala.In the style of the DMK (party banners would have its president M Karunanidhi displayed prominently with its leaders Annadurai and Periyar in the background), and that of the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK until recently (Jaya’s face would be the focus with MGR in the background), AIADMK banners now display Sasikala in the foreground with Jaya in the background.Whatever dissent there was in the party over the elevation of Sasikala to the post held by Jaya has been put down with a firm hand by the party leadership.Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, ever the loyalist, has been co-ordinating the arrangements for the meet on Dec 29, although the event would mark the first decisive step towards Sasikala acquiring a strangle-hold over the party and the government. Panneerselvam’s days as chief minister are clearly numbered.For Sasikala, it has been a long and patient wait. She was merely made an executive committee member and was even removed from the party as Jayalalithaa suspected the loyalty of Sasikala’s relatives. She was brought back into the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa and into the party in 2012.It is this gap that was questioned by some dissidents in the party on the ground that one has to be a member continuously for at least five years to qualify for a post. Since Sasi has not completed five years of continuous membership, the legal impediment was raised by a few party personnel. However, this was nipped in the bud by party seniors who pointed out that the party executive could adopt a resolution to waive this clause and to ratify the election of Sasi. Therefore, the executive meeting will also be held in addition tothe general council to enable the smooth election of Sasi on Dec 29.Sasikala will enter the party headquarters only after being elected its supremo so that she will have a triumphant and powerful entry, a party senior said.The BJP’s plan to marginalise Sasikala had not worked, an AIADMK source said, adding that the party with 49 MPs could not be threatened with a mere raid on the chief secretary’s office and residence. The BJP realises that Sasikala would not be as pliable as Panneerselvam. Governor Vidyasagar Rao even asked vice chancellors of universities to explain why they prostrated at Sasi’s feet a few days ago at the Poes Garden. It remains to be seen if the Centre would tighten the screws on Sasi and members of her family or will the BJP make a strategic retreat and try and get cosy with her, in view of the changed situation. It appears that for the time being, it is the BJP that will blink first.

Chennai: Hotels, clubs directed to wind up New Year parties by 1 am

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The city police has issued directions to hotels and clubs in Chennai, hosting special programmes on New Year’s eve, to wind up celebrations by 1 am.A direction to this effect was given to hotel owners during a meeting chaired by Additional Commissioner of Police K Shankar, Deputy Commissioners (South zone) S Anbu, (East zone) S Manoharan in Chennai, a police release said on Wednesday.Hotel authorities have been directed to take up all preventive measures ahead of the celebrations so that no untoward incidents take place, it said.The advisory issued to the hotels include, checking all vehicles entering the premises and noting their registration numbers, to close swimming pools from 6 pm on December 31 onwards to 6 am of January 1, 2017.They were also asked to deploy security guards in large numbers in the hotel premises, the release said. Besides, the police officials have warned the new year’s eve revellers of strict action against drunk driving. Vehicles would be seized if more than two persons were seen travelling in a motorcycle, they said.
ALSO READ Party poopers: No DJ, early deadline for Kochi hotels on New Year’s eveThe public have been advised not to venture into the sea or set off crackers in places where people gather in large numbers, the release added.

Watch: Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer attacked outside party office

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer was attacked outside the party office in Chennai on Wednesday afternoon.According to initial reports, the attack took place when four lawyers from Pushpa’s team had gone to AIADMK headquarters to submit a letterOn December 18, Pushpa had moved Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation by an apex court judge into the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.In her petition, Pushpa alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was “suspicious” as her actual medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her, her funeral photographs showed embalming marks and everything, from her hospitalisation to her death, “was kept under wraps”. Meanwhile, though the Madras High Court rejected Pushpa’s bail plea, the Supreme Court gave her protection from arrest and on September 26, directed her to join the police investigation.A case was recently registered against Pushpa and some of her family members for alleged sexual harassment of their maids in 2001. The domestic servants, who reportedly worked at Pushpa’s house in Tamil Nadu, had filed a police complaint alleging that they were tortured.

Ex-TN chief secy Rao slams Modi govt for I-T raids, claims ‘political vendetta’

Days after the Income Tax Department raided the house of the former chief secretary of Tamil Nadu P Rama Mohana Rao, he addressed the media on Tuesday and raised several questions about the “unconstitutional” raids. Speaking to the media, Rao, who was removed from the post of the chief secretary on 23 December, said that he still holds the post and authorities have no evidence against him.

“After 32 years of service, if this is the condition of a chief secretary, how can CRPF enter my house? Why did they not transfer me? This is political vendetta. I was under house arrest for over 26 hours. They (Centre) have no respect for the state government,” Rao said.

Rao thanked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for “supporting my cause” and also alleged that his life was in danger. “They did not have any search warrant against me. The search warrant had name of my son. They have found nothing — no incriminating documents were found during the raids,” Rao said. Pointing towards a room that was alleged to be a secret chamber by the income tax authorities, Rao said that it was the store room. “What secret chamber?” he asked.

Alleging interference from the BJP-led Centre, Rao also said that the Central government has no business raiding the house of a chief secretary of a state. “Where is the state government? What role or business does Government of India and CRPF have to enter a chief secretary’s chambers? Did they get the chief minister’s permission? Isn’t this a unconstitutional assault? Where’s the state govt? On whose permission did CRPF enter my house. If they wanted to search my house, they could have transferred me. How much time does it take for a chief minister to transfer a chief secretary?” asked Rao.

Remembering former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa, Rao said that if she were here, this would have never happened. “If Honourable Madam (Jayalalithaa) was here today, this would not have happened. I managed Madam’s funeral and handled when Chennai was battered by the cyclone. My reputation precedes me. I am a big hurdle to many. I am a hardcore man and they fear me,” said Rao, adding that he feared for his life.

On 21 December, Income Tax authorities raided the house and office of Rao after a tip-off. The premises were searched by officials, who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh in cash in new notes and five kilograms of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income. The raids were carried out at 15 places, including the office and the residence of Rao, his son Vivek and some relatives in Chennai and Chittoor in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, I-T sources had told PTI.

Rao was appointed as the Tamil Nadu chief secretary in June 2016.

Rao also refuted claims that he had any business links with mining baron Shekhar Reddy. A senior I-T official had told The Indian Express that the raids at Rao’s home and office were linked to the seizure of Rs 132 crore in cash (including Rs 34 crore in new notes) and 177 kilograms of gold from mining baron J Sekhar Reddy earlier this month. “Documents seized from Reddy’s premises were the major evidence, as they had details linked to Rao. It was a matter of ascertaining locations before launching the raid,” the official told the paper. Rao, however, on Tuesday said:

Within 24 hours after the raid, Girija Vaidyanathan, an officer with a no-nonsense work ethic, was appointed as Rao’s successor. The political class reportedly wanted to wait till an FIR was filed but was advised that the raid had already dented the image of the government and any delay would only reflect poorly on the AIADMK.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:49 IST

2004 Tsunami: Tamil Nadu observes 12th anniversary of tragedy

Chennai: The 12th anniversary of the killer tsunami that caused massive destruction in Tamil Nadu in 2004 was observed across the state with people mourning the dead and fishermen keeping off the seas.

Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar and Handloom Minister OS Manian paid tributes in Chennai and at Nagapattinam, respectively.

Special prayers and floral tributes besides remembering the loved ones by pouring milk into the sea marked the day, even as many recalled that fateful day on December 26 when tidal waves swept away their loved ones along the coast.

Prayers and tributes were held in Chennai and Nagapattinam, with the latter bearing the brunt of the killer waves, besides others, including Cuddalore and Kanniyakumari.

Women poured milk into the sea as a mark of respect to the departed ones while candle light and floral tributes were paid by people for their relatives who were consumed by the sea.

While many remembered their surviving the ordeal, others recalled how the waves swept away their close relatives.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Fishermen did not venture out to sea for their vocation on Monday.

At Nagapattinam, when the clock struck 9:17 a.m, people rose to observe a minute’s silence to pay homage to the persons who lost their lives in the tsunami.

District Collector S Pazhanisamy and other officials participated in silent marches, candle processions and floral tributes.

At Vailankanni, a special mass was conducted at the Shrine Basillica in memory of the tsunami victims. A silent procession was also held.

At Nagore, tributes were paid to those who were buried in the land owned by the Dargah. The graveyard of the dargah of Saint Hazrath Syed Shahul Hameed Quadir Wali at Nagore, which is more than 500 years old, witnessed mass burials 12 years ago.

Memorials were also held in neighbouring Karaikal.

Hundreds of fishermen from 12 affected villages in the district took out silent processions,placed wreaths and lit candles at the memorial sites. Puducherry Agriculture Minister Kamalakannan,District Collector P Parthiban and other officials paid floral tributes at Nandalar memorial site.

In fishing hamlets such as Pattinacherry, Karaikalmedu and Kottucherrymedu, people hoisted black flags in memory of the departed and decorated photographs of victims with flowers.

Triggered by earthquake in Indonesia, a massive tsunami struck the Tamil Nadu coast on December 26 morning, a Sunday, causing massive damage to life and property across the state.

Nagapattinam faced the maximum fury of the natural disaster even as other coastal districts like Chennai, Cuddalore and Tiruvallore suffered.

Nearly 7,000 people died on that fateful day.

The government later rolled out series of rehabilitation schemes for the affected people.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 14:59 IST

Parasmal Lodha in ED net: How the deal-maker and influencer became a commoner

At an undisclosed lockup, Parasmal Lodha — known for his fetish for limousines, priceless watches, Cognac and mahogany beds — sleeps on the floor covered with prickly blankets, his meals comprise flatbread and lentils.

Officials of the Enforcement Directorate, who arrested Lodha on charges of illegally re-routing cash to make it look legal (read hawala), showed no mercy to the 60 year-old influencer, rejecting all pleas for special treatment, including home-cooked food. Lodha, claimed sources within the probe agency, did not like being treated as a commoner. To the wealthy across India, he was — over two decades — known as the three-word man: “Get it Done”. But now, Lodha had no choice.

“It’s interesting to see him in such a condition. In 40 years, life has turned full circle for Lodha and his crimes,” quipped an ED official, in an apparent hint about Lodha’s initial years when he had arrived in Kolkata in 1977 as a carpetbagger and sold stuffed betel leaves and flavoured paan masala in front of Poddar Court, an imposing building close to Lalbazar police headquarters.

Old-timers in Kolkata recall how Lodha and Nandu Pasari, a dealer of Raymond suitings, grew in stature and, of the two, Lodha started doing small-time brokering on behalf of Arun Poddar, owner of Poddar Court.

Parasmal Lodha being taken to court last week. PTI

Parasmal Lodha being taken to court last week. PTI

Lodha, thanks to Poddar, increased his network among Kolkata’s Marwari community, and using their financial prowess, wanted to take over the Peerless Group, then India’s largest residuary non-banking company, in 1987 by acquiring 50 percent of its shares and a seat on its board.

Chairman of Peerless PC Sen had complained to the Kolkata Police that Lodha had offered his staff loads of cash but when refused, Lodha even threatened to kill him using his contact with Dawood Ibrahim. Lodha was questioned by the cops but eventually let off. However, his attempt failed as the Left Front and Congress jointly staved off his bid —  CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee and Congress leader Priya Ranjan Das Munshi joined hands — and Lodha’s stake was down to 30 percent.

However, the Peerless misadventure proved to be the biggest springboard for Lodha, who was now seen as the best face for “deals and negotiations” in Kolkata, some in Delhi and Mumbai were also calling him for consultations.

But then came the second jolt when 43 people were charred to death in a deadly inferno that swept through the multi-storeyed Stephen Court in the heart of Kolkata in March, 2010. Lodha was rumoured to be the actual owner of the building, where he had flouted several rules and even built two extra floors bribing his way through. A team of the Kolkata Police had also arrested Sanjay Bagaria, the son-in-law of industrialist GP Goenka — a friend of Lodha’s — from a guest house of a paper mill in Saharanpur, in August 2010. Bagaria was one of the directors of Stephen Court Limited — the century-old architectural heritage building on the upmarket Park Street in Kolkata — and had gone missing after the inferno swept through the building. Interestingly, Lodha managed to extricate himself from the incident.

“Lodha had — by the mid-1090s — moved from Kolkata to Delhi and acquired expensive properties, including a huge farmhouse where he entertained guests,” said ED sources.

Among his friends were a host of retired judges with considerable influence on the judiciary, many cabinet ministers, corporate captains, and sons of the then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao. Lodha was a regular at the PMO in South Block.

Lodha expanded his wings even abroad. The ED is looking into his proximity with some influential Indian families in London and Kenya, even in Australia and whether those families benefitted from Lodha’s largesse. Having helped a top Indian conglomerate when his business deals in Australia went sour, Lodha was also seen in the forefront of a group helping a London-based family solve teething problems in its automobile business.

“He was seen as the ultimate saviour who knew the routes to instant cash. He wanted to try his hand into everything, including films,” claimed ED officials. It is reliably learnt that it was Lodha who helped the influential Renu Roy garner cash to finance Rituparna Ghosh’s award winning film, Unishey April, in 1994. He even lobbied for Roy to become the first woman president of Kolkata’s prestigious Saturday Club in 2007-2008, raising many eyebrows in the city.

ED officials claim Lodha had been under the scanner for almost a decade but “serious tracking” by the agencies started when it was claimed that he was the front to re-route financial packages offered by the Indian government to ailing jute mills in Bengal. Many jute mill owners were accused of diverting Central funds without refurbishing the jute mills. Some were also slicing off portions of jute mills into real estate zones. “Lodha was thick in it,” claimed ED officials.

Lodha also worked with influential Marwari tycoons in Kolkata who wanted to acquire heritage buildings close to the Ganges. He had an uncanny ability to get sanctions for extra floors and eventually legalise them by paying hefty bribes to the cops, state government officials and civic authorities. He was then jokingly called “Extra Floor Lodha”.

But his interests in real estate dimmed in late 1990s amd he shifted to cash re-routing, lobbying with the judiciary and started negotiating with many across India. Instead of shuttling regularly between Delhi and Kolkata, his new destinations now were Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Bollywood interested him immensely, Lodha often used small-time Bollywood actresses and models to impress his clients. Barely 10 days before his arrest, Lodha was in touch with a Bollywood starlet whose services he wanted for two of his clients.

It wasn’t just cinema and actors, however, as Lodha showed an interest in owning news channels. Always ready to strike a deal and completing it successfully, he was then known as “Deal Done Lodha”. He was always interested in the end result, often telling his conduits in simple words: “Kaam Hona Chahiye” which translates to “The work must happen”.

His name cropped up when many in Kolkata were being interrogated by the CBI in the Sharada scam. Lodha — or so claimed those who were interrogated — had urged them to sell licences to run news channels to Sudipta Sen of Sharada, promising them “high value deals” because of his clout with Sudipta.

Arrested last Thursday from the Mumbai Airport while trying to flee to Malaysia, allegedly for illegally converting demonetised notes worth Rs 25 crore into new currency for Chennai sand baron J Sekhar Reddy and lawyer Rohit Tandon, Lodha started showing his clout at the airport, virtually naming the entire UPA-I and UPA-II Cabinets and some ministers of the ruling NDA-led government as his friends. “His handset and messages folder looked like an encyclopaedia,” said a top source.

ED officials were tracking Lodha after New Delhi’s demonetisation moves, and eventually a dossier was prepared on the hawala trader and influencer, and clearances were sought from the Ministry of Home Affairs. “His huge influence was indeed a cause of worry for us,” claimed the ED officials.

No more.

Inside the ED lockup, Lodha is unable to crack a deal and nothing is happening to his satisfaction. He does not even have his expensive watch to see if time is on his side.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 12:38 IST

SC to hear petitions seeking CBI probe into Jayalalitha’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court will on Friday hear pleas seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe or a judicial investigation into former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s death.A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by a Chennai-based NGO and a writ petition was filed by expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa in the apex court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation into Jayalalithaa’s death, who breathed her last at Chennai’s Apollo Hospitals on December 5 where she was admitted on September 22 with fever and dehydration.The NGO has sought the recovery of all medical documents during the AIADMK chief’s stay in Chennai’s Apollo Hospital for more than two months, while Pushpa alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was ‘suspicious’ as her actual medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her, her funeral photographs showed embalming marks and everything from her hospitalisation to her death ‘was kept under wraps’.A day after filing a petition, Pushpa on December 19 said a proper inquiry should be done as the people of Tamil Nadu want to know the actual reason of Jayalalithaa’s death.”I filed a writ petition at Supreme Court regarding the mysterious death of Amma. Right from the day September 22 when she has been admitted at Apollo hospital stating that she has dehydration and fever and after that when it has been announced that she is dead till that complete judicial inquiry should be done. Initial enquiry is to be done by the CBI. The case has been filed at SC,” Pushpa said.”Tamil Nadu people, entire nation wish to know what happened to the late chief minister. The CM of a state has been foul played like this is a million dollar question. I just want to take this matter to SC to get justice,” she told ANI, adding that it was suspected by Tamil people that her close ally might have done something.”I could not get justice from the Tamil Nadu government so, I directly filed the writ at the apex court stating that we need justice and I have made Apollo hospital and chief secretary as respondents,” she added.

Tamil Nadu: Girija Vaidyanathan replaces Rama Mohana Rao as Chief Secretary

Thu, 22 Dec 2016-05:29pm , Chennai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior IAS officer Girija Vaidyanathan was appointed Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu on Thursday, replacing P Rama Mohana Rao whose residence and office was raided by the Income Tax department on Wednesday. “Dr Girija Vaidyanathan IAS, Additional Chief Secretary/ Commissioner of Land Administration, is transferred and posted as Chief Secretary to Government, vice Dr P Ramamohana Rao,” a Public (Special A) Department order dated December 22 said.The fate of Mohana Rao was not immediately known. Vaidyanathan shall also hold full additional charge of the post of Vigilance Commissioner and Commissioner for Administrative Reforms, previously held by Rao, it said. The Income Tax Department had carried out searches at over a dozen places in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh against the son and some relatives of Rao, including at the latter’s Anna Nagar residence in Chennai, during which they claimed to have seized Rs 18 lakh cash and gold bars.

Tamil Nadu: CBI arrests J Sekar Reddy in Rs 170 Crore cash seizure case, probes links with TN chief secy’s sons

New Delhi: CBI on Wednesday arrested businessman J Sekar Reddy and his associate K Srinivasulu after Income Tax searches at his residence and office in Chennai resulted in seizure of 127 kg of gold and over Rs 170 crore in cash post demonetisation.

CBI sources said his links with the son of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Nadu P Rama Mohana Rao are also under the scanner of I-T department as it is believed that Reddy, a contractor, allegedly received his help to get state-wide sand mining contract.

Representational image. IBNliveRepresentational image. IBNlive

Representational image. IBNlive

Rao’s premises are being searched by I-T department on Wednesday.

CBI has registered a case of criminal conspiracy and cheating under Indian Penal Code besides provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act against Reddy and his two associates for conversion of currency in violation of RBI norms, the sources said.

They said it was alleged that I-T department searches had resulted in seizure of over Rs 170 crore in cash which included newly-introduced notes of Rs 2,000 worth Rs 34 crore (seized in two different occasions) besides 127 kg gold from him and his associates Srinivasa Reddy and Prem Kumar.

CBI case is related to seizure of Rs 24 crore of new currency notes from a Tata Ace load vehicle belonging to a Vellore resident, Rishi Kumar, on 9 December following searches at Reddy’s residence in Chennai.

“Reddy and his associates had, with the help of unknown public servants of different banks, converted the unauthorised cash held by them in old currency notes, thereby depriving the public in enforcing their right,” CBI alleged in its FIR.

It said the bank officials, who are allegedly entrusted with the distribution of new currency notes as per instructions of Reserve Bank of India, defied the RBI instructions and helped Reddy for a “consideration”.

“Reddy, Prem Kumar and K Srinivasulu, had in conspiracy with unknown bank officials and public servants converted unaccounted cash held by them in the form of old currency notes to new Rs 2,000 currency notes, cheating the government of India,” it alleged.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:38 IST

I-T raid at TN chief secy’s home: Mamata Banerjee slams govt, asks why Amit Shah was spared

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday criticised the I-T raid at the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, saying such a “vindictive and unethical” act by the central agencies devalues the institution of head of the civil service.

File image of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File image of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“Why this vindictive, unethical, technically improper action? Is it only to disturb the federal structure? Why do not they raid Amit Shah and others…” she said in a statement.

Mamata said corruption needs to be strongly condemned, but “the raid on Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary by central agencies devalues the institution of head of the civil service”.

“The proper procedure should have been to take the state leadership into confidence and removing him from the post prior to any preemptive action, based on information,” she said.

“Earlier the Principal Secretary of Arvind Kejriwal was raided and harassed. Now I read Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu has also been raided,” Mamata said.

The Income-Tax department on Wednesday conducted searches at over a dozen locations in connection with its tax evasion probe against the son and few other relatives of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao.

It is understood that the official residence of the Chief Secretary in Chennai was also raided.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 14:14 IST

Chennai: Income tax raid at Tamil Nadu chief secy P Rama Mohana Rao’s residence

The Income Tax (I-T) Department officials on Wednesday raided the home of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao. “The raids have commenced at Tamil Nadu chief secretary’s residence,” a senior IT official told IANS.

The raids at Rao’s Annanagar residence in Chennai started at 5.30 am. However, sources told News18 that no seizure has been made till now. Report also said that the raid was conducted based on information received from some road contractors who were detained for questioning based on previous raids. In a major shuffle after the re-election of AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu, Rao was appointed chief secretary in June this year.

The IT department recently seized a total of 177 kg of gold and cash amounting to Rs 96 crore in withdrawn Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes and Rs 34 crore in the new denomination from three businessmen — J Shekhar Reddy, Srinivasalu and Prem.

The big fish is said to be Reddy, a contractor and who has done work for the Tamil Nadu government.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 11:35 IST

Idli weighing 68 kilograms engraved with Jayalalithaa’s face

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It has been nearly a fortnight since former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa passed away, but her fans still can’t forget her as evident from their recent act of devotion towards their beloved leader.Some of her fans recently created an idli in the form of her face, which weighed 68 kilograms.Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 and was buried with full state honours at MGR Memorial, Marina Beach.The people of Chennai have done several bizarre things to prove their love for her.Earlier a man sculpted a Jayalalithaa bust from his own frozen blood.Following the news of Jayalalithaa’s demise, many people died of cardiac arrests and suicide.

India v England: Ravindra Jadeja takes 7-48 to seal win in Chennai

England suffer a dismal batting collapse to slip to an innings-and-75-run defeat on the final day of the fifth Test against India in Chennai.

Sasikala must resist temptation to be Tamil Nadu CM; sycophancy has to be timed well in politics

The rise of VK Sasikala to the post of the AIADMK general secretary in Tamil Nadu after the death of J Jayalalithaa wasn’t unnatural because the latter had never given any indication who her political heir was. Sasikala appeared to be the de facto inheritor as the party hadn’t seen anybody else mixing so closely with their leader.

The logic was simple: if there’s no “Amma” it must be “Chinnamma”. Politically it will work too, because reportedly “Chinnamma” has been handling critical affairs of the party and dealing with senior officers and ministers for quite some time. The other men and women in the party couldn’t have nursed any leadership ambition because under Jaya, all they had been conditioned was to plea, prostrate, and take orders.

But the new development, in which senior party leaders are upping the ante in Sasikala’s favour, is fraught with big risks, if not existential risks for the party. Some of the leaders now want her not just as party general secretary, but also as the chief minister. According to them, the legacy of Jayalalithaa should not stop with the top party post, but should extend to the head of the office too.

The state revenue minister RB Udayakumar, supported by a few others, openly appealed to her to take on the chief minister’s job as well. Udayakumar, who incidentally also heads a party affiliated organisation named after Jaya, said that all the 50 district secretaries of his organisation supported his proposal. Reportedly, such requests are also coming in from various district units of AIADMK and other affiliate associations as resolutions, and leaders from different parts of the state have been meeting Sasikala to persuade her personally. Sasikala has accepted all the resolutions, but hasn’t said anything yet.

Former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTIFormer Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTI

Former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTI

Curiously, the demand for Sasikala’s elevation comes at a time when chief minister, O Panneerselvam, the only known Jaya nominee, is in Delhi. Panneerselvam went to Delhi to demand posthumous national honours for Jaya and to request financial assistance to mitigate the damage caused by cyclone Vardah. While he was canvassing for a Bharat Ratna for Jaya and the installation of a life-size bronze statue of her in the parliament, his party and cabinet colleagues are asking Sasikala to take his position. Panneerselvam chose to keep quiet when reporters in Delhi asked him about this development.

Is this a set up?

Clearly something is amiss. Either the opposition to Panneerselvam, which many thought would erupt when he was made the chief minister, is raising its head now or somebody is deliberately playing up Sasikala. There could be three possibilities: one, a group that is jealous of Panneerselvam becoming the chief minister for caste or power reasons wants to bring him down; two, the same group alone or joined by others genuinely feels that Sasikala alone can run the party and the state with an iron fist the way Jaya did; and third, Sasikala herself is writing the script and deploying proxies to act it out it for her. These three scenarios may be operating independent of each other, however the chances of an overlap cannot be ruled out because the script seems to be too simple and too straight to be true. Realpolitik is complex and treacherous.

Whatever be the motive, Sasikala becoming the chief minister will be a big, strategic mistake. The first and, probably, the last folly, if she ever succumbs to the temptation.

Sasikala’s rise to the top of the party would keep her within the party and would let her control it with all the efficiency and sagacity she has; but becoming the de facto executive head of a state with constitutional obligations is an entirely different ballgame. She may have had some reasonable exposure with ministers and senior officers being Jaya’s confidante, but that was, at best, the role of an extra-constitutional proxy. Real rule comes with real roles and accountability, while proxy rule rides on somebody else’s accountability.

Being a chief minister, particularly that of the second largest economy in India which is one of the top FDI destinations, an aspiring welfare state, and home to a number of consular offices, is not easy. It takes vision, statesmanship, ability to wear multiple hats, and the skills of an official deal-maker. Even if one has all these qualities, it should be endorsed by the people of the state, not by party leaders. The template that Sasikala has to fit into is that of Jayalalithaa, who was an exceptionally tall figure in India. She had the knowledge, personality and skills to be a lone ranger and get things done her way. Therefore, if Sasikala becomes the chief minister she cannot escape unfair judgment by both the state and the rest of India. People will be more demanding of Sasikala than of Panneerselvam because the latter has a political constituency and hadn’t asked for the job.

It’s not a worthwhile risk because it can obliterate all that she has on hand now. Being the general secretary — as the legacy holder of Jayalalithaa — is a priceless gift that she should not fritter away by either being ambitious or being persuaded by others. The point to be noted is that even in dynastic politics, all those who made it big – whether it’s Mayawati, Naveen Patnaik or tottering Akhilesh Yadav – were people with both political and administrative skills. There are many examples of people liquidating a legacy because they didn’t have it in them.

Sasikala should be happy as the general secretary because that will let her continue her proxy rule of the state. She will be Jayalalitha by proxy. Having a pliant chief minister, ministers and even key officers will keep her as the real power centre. And the biggest bonus is that she can still stay behind the scenes.

If she indeed has chief ministerial aspirations, probably she should use this period to build an appropriate public persona around her emerging cult and do a calibrated soft launch while keeping her relatives as far away as possible. As Jayalalithaa used to say, “Makkal Theerpae Mahesan Theerpu” (Voice of the people is the voice of God). Unless she gets there, there is no long term future or political safety. In politics, sycophancy and cultism do work, but they have to be timed well. Those big posters of Sasikala that one sees in Chennai and elsewhere in the state don’t have any significance, except an implicit plan in the making, as of now.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 11:31 IST

India v England: Karun Nair makes 300 in fifth Test in Chennai

Karun Nair makes a triple century to send India to their highest Test score of 759-7 declared and the highest amassed by any team against England.

597 people have died of grief post Amma’s demise, AIADMK offers Rs 3 lakh compensation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Monday announced that a total of 597 people have died so far of grief and shock post the demise of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa and added that Rs 3 lakh would be paid to their families.”Total 597 people died, unable to bear death of Puratchi Thalaivi Amma. Rs 3 lakh aid will be given to each families,” the AIADMK tweeted.On December 11, the party had announced the same amount of compensation for the 470 people who had died. Since then the death toll has risen by more than 100. Earlier, the party had also announced Rs 50,000 for a party functionary who allegedly attempted self-immolation and a similar amount to another person who cut his finger off following Jayalalithaas’s demise on December 5.Even before the news of Jayalalithaa’s demise, a 65-year-old painter in Singanallur (Tamil Nadu) complained of chest pain while watching news on Jayalalithaa’s health in his house. He passed away before he could reach hospital.Similarly, in another incident, Palaniammal (62) of Thudiyalur, died of shock after watching the TV news in her house on December 5. Similarly, a 38-year-old load worker, Raja, collapsed on the chair while watching the news in Erode. Though his wife called for assistance, the 108 crew of emergency service declared him dead on arrival.Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 after suffering a cardiac arrest and was buried with full state honours near the MGR Memorial in Chennai on December 6.The party also conveyed its condolences to the family members of the dead.

Indian writer held for ‘insulting’ national anthem

A writer in India is charged with sedition for allegedly showing disrespect to the national anthem.

AIADMK leaders want Sasikala to become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, lead party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A host of senior AIADMK functionaries on Sunday called on former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala and urged her to take on the mantle of both the party and the state government as general secretary and Chief Minister respectively.Days after the demise of Jayalalithaa, top AIADMK leaders, including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai had urged Sasikala to become the party General Secretary, a post held by ‘Amma’ all her life.Against this background, the functionaries wanted Sasikala, called “Chinnamma” (younger amma) by AIADMK workers to not only lead the party, but also the government.
ALSO READ Sasikala names baby girl named after JayalalithaaJayalalithaa Peravai, a wing of the ruling AIADMK, had earlier in the day passed a resolution urging Sasikala to become both party general secretary and Chief Minister by contesting from RK Nagar constituency here, which was represented by late Jayalalithaa.Peravai Secretary RB Udhayakumar who is also the Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister, handed over the resolution titled “Thai Thanta Varam,” (Sasikala is a boon granted by Amma) to Sasikala, urging her to take the responsibilities of both the party and the government.
ALSO READ Wrong to nominate ‘Chinnamma’ as AIADMK gen secy, she tried to kill Jayalalithaa: Sasikala Pushpa”Besides guarding AIADMK, Chinnamma should fight the RK Nagar bypoll (now vacant due to the death of Jayalalithaa) and assume responsibility as Chief Minister, and lead the Amma’s government,” Udhayakumar had told reporters.Information Minister Kadambur Raju and Endowments Minister Sevoor S Ramachandran, who are also Peravai functionaries,were among 50 Peravai members who called on Sasikala, along with Udhaya Kumar.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala Natarajan to be party’s next Gen Secy: AIADMKParty cadres led by Tirupur Rural District Secretary, Udumalai K Radhakrishnan, the Housing Minister, also made a similar demand.He said “we requested Chinnamma to guard 1.5 crore AIADMK workers by becoming the party General Secretary and the over seven crore people of Tamil Nadu by becoming Chief Minister.” Radhakrishan said a resolution passed in this regard was handed over to Sasikala.Flanked by Ministers P Benjamin (Rural Industries) and K Pandiarajan (School Education) from his district, Tiruvallur East district secretary V Alexander said they gave Chinnamma a resolution adopted by their party unit, making this request.North Chennai (South) District Secretary and former Rajya Sabha MP N Balaganga, South Chennai (North) District Secretary and former MLA,V P Kalairajan,Madurai Rural District Secretary Rajan Chellappa, former Agriculture Minister, Agri S S Krishnamoorthy (Tiruvannamalai District) were among party functionaries who wanted Sasikala to assume responsibilities of party and government.They and district level cadres visited the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa where Sasikala continues to live and gave her copies of resolutions adopted at their party units.Thambidurai accompanied Sasikala when she met the functionaries at Poes Garden.

Sasikala names baby girl named after Jayalalithaa

Sun, 18 Dec 2016-07:10pm , Chennai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jayalalithaa’s aide, VK Sasikala named a new born baby girl of an AIADMK cadre as Jayalalithaa on Sunday, in memory of the late Chief Minister.The baby named “Jayalalithaa” by Sasikala is the child of Gaythri and Senthil Kumar. Resident of Theni district, Senthil Kumar is an auto driver, a party release said in Chennai on Sunday. Sasikala named the child after the former Chief Minister at the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa, where she continues to live.Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 in Chennai after a prolonged hospitalisation stretching over two months.

Tamil Nadu CM to meet PM Modi; Jaya’s Bharat Ratna, Cyclone Vardah on agenda

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in the national capital and relay the details of the damages caused by the Cyclone Vardah in the state.”The Chief Minister will also handover a letter to bestow late chief minister J Jayalalithaa with the Bharat Ratna and to unveil bronze statue in the Parliament campus,” an official statement said.Tamil Nadu Cabinet earlier on December 10 decided to recommend late AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa for India’s highest civilian honour, the ‘Bharat Ratna’.In its first meeting chaired by Chief Minister O Panneerselvam after Jayalalithaa’s demise, the Cabinet also decided to recommend to the Centre installation of her life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex.Cyclone Vardah hit several parts of Tamil Nadu earlier on December 12. The storm uprooted trees, overturned cars and did extensive damage to buildings as it tore across Chennai. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) at least 10 people have died.Prior to the storm’s landing, Chennai already was pounded with heavy rain and winds.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Furore over army chief’s appointment; Imtiaz Ali on his film with SRK-Anushka; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Furore over army chief’s appointment: Congress demands answers, govt says permission of 10, Janpath not requiredWith the Centre announcing the name of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Chief of the Army Staff superseding two seniors for the coveted post, the Congress on Sunday demanded an answer from the government over the decision, while asserting that the Army is a public institution and the nation deserves an answer. Read more hereElection Commission seeks ban on anonymous contributions to parties above Rs 2000Seeking to stem the flow of blackmoney in polls, the Election Commission has urged the government to amend laws to ban anonymous contributions of Rs 2000 and above made to political parties. Read more hereIND vs ENG: Heartbreak for KL Rahul, but opener leads strong Indian reply on Day 4Talented opener KL Rahul displayed superb temperament but missed out on a well-deserved double century by a solitary run even though India were in a commanding position at 391 for 4 on the third day of the fifth cricket Test against England in Chennai. Read more hereEmbarrassed, upset over handful of employees: Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma”Embarrassed and upset” over the conduct of a handful of employees bringing the organisation into disrepute, Axis Bank MD and CEO Shikha Sharma said the bank has hired KPMG to conduct a forensic audit for enhanced due diligence and building more safeguards. Read more hereImtiaz Ali FINALLY breaks silence on his film with Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma!SRK and I want to do something different in ‘The Ring’, Imtiaz said. Read more here

Cyclone Vardah: TNCC Chief mocks at BJP for not aiding post storm clean-up

Residents looking at uprooted trees in an area in Chennai. PTIResidents looking at uprooted trees in an area in Chennai. PTI

Residents looking at uprooted trees in an area in Chennai. PTI

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president Su Thirunavukkarasar  on Sunday charged the BJP leaders with not doing anything for the post cyclone clean-up efforts in the State, though the saffron party leaders posed for pictures espousing the Swachh Bharat campaign.

“They (BJP leaders) posed for pictures hailing the Swachh Bharat mission and they claimed to clean-up and now they did nothing for the post cyclone clean-up efforts,” he told reporters here at the airport. Thirunavukkarasar said the BJP leaders used the clean-up drive only for propaganda and photo opportunities and when a need arose for such efforts they did not deliver.

The remark of the state unit Congress chief comes against the background of hundreds of trees being cleared by civic workers, from the city roads. Cyclone ‘Vardah’ uprooted several trees, which fell everywhere blocking traffic in many locations in Chennai and neighbouring districts of Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram.

Condemning the fuel price hike, the TNCC Chief said, “The Centre did not lower the price when the crude prices were falling and now they have hiked the rate by passing the buck on the climbing crude prices.”

It did not bother about the impact of fuel price hike on the people, he said. He also urged the Centre to sanction Rs 5000 crore for Tamil Nadu towards cyclone relief and rehabilitation efforts.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 16:13 IST

Cyclone Vardah: Tamil Nadu govt ‘prepared’ for vector-borne diseases in three affected districts

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government on Friday said it has put in place preventive measures in the three Cyclone affected districts of Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur towards ensuring public health, including steps to prevent spread of vector-borne diseases.

File photo. Reuters

File photo. Reuters

Chief Minister O Panneerselvam reviewed the measures taken by the Health and Family Welfare Department to prevent spread of contagious diseases, the government said in a release.

As part of disease-prevention measures, the government has set up 161 mobile health units, pressed into service 119 numbers of Ambulance services, 50 each food protection and chlorination teams and 51 units to handle mosquito menace.

These steps were aimed at delivering health services to people of the affected areas, addressing emergency situations, ensuring safe and protected drinking water supply and prevention of vector-borne diseases by addressing mosquito menace, it said.

While 3,000 personnel had been employed in implementing these activities, the government has also stocked Rs 90 crore worth medicines and drugs, it said.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 15:39 IST

Chennai: DMK chief M Karunanidhi admitted to hospital again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DMK chief M Karunanidhi was on Thursday night admitted to Cauvery hospital in Chennai again, just a week after he was discharged.Karunanidhi was discharged from the Cauvery hospital on December 7, where he was admitted on December 1 for dehydration and allergy related issues. The hospital in a statement said that Karunanidhi has improved substantially after medical treatment.”All his vital signs and biochemical parameters have normalised now. He has been advised rest and Cauvery Hospital will continue to assess and provide the necessary medical and nursing care to facilitate his recuperation at home,” it added.The DMK chief was reportedly down with allergy-related ailment for over a month.Further details awaited(With ANI inputs)

Cyclone Vardah killed Chennai’s internet, so our writer sent us a handwritten story

As over 8,500 trees lay uprooted on 12 December, the Tamil Nadu civic authorities and the rescue team were in high gear. The uprooted trees have bee removed, the arterial roads have been cleared, and work is on full swing two days after cyclone Vardah tore into Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts before heading to Andhra Pradesh.

The 5,000 electricity polls have been destroyed by the cyclone in Kanchipuram and another 4,000 in Tiruvallur. Close to 500 electricity transformers have been crushed in Chennai by fallen trees.

This has meant no power to a large part of the city. Officials at the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (Tangedco) told Firstpost that the priority was to give power to residential areas and later to commercial and industrial zones. “By tonight, most of Chennai will have power,” said state electricity minister P Thangamani.

What authorities are not able to do much about, though is the lack of mobile connectivity in cyclone-hit areas. This has thrown ATMs, banks and POS machines out of gear.

With Cyclone Vardah keeping Chennai offline and frequent power cuts not helping either, the good old notebook came to the author’s rescue. She sent images of the pages of her story on WhatsApp.

Vardha Cyclone by Firstpost on Scribd

Upscale supermarkets in the posh Boat Club area of Chennai too are unable to allow customers use their debit/credit cards. “Tower ille” was the constant refrain of restaurants and supermarkets in the city.

Residents looking at uprooted trees in an area in Chennai. PTI

Residents looking at uprooted trees in an area in Chennai. PTI

Two days after the cyclone, mobile connectivity is yet to be restored. Police, Tangedco and Chennai corporation officials continue to use walkie-talkies to communicate as the mobile network is down. R Shanmugam, 43, a resident of Mylapore, said that he had gone to almost all the ATMs in his area but they were either shut or had no cash in them.

“We had to call in some people to remove the fallen trees from our house,” he said. “We have to pay in cash. There is absolutely no cash anywhere. Even bank branches don’t have cash. What do I do?”

Those in poorer areas of the city like 44-year-old B Perumal says power is yet to be restored and water has become a big problem. Pointing at his empty wallet, “There is not a paisa in my hand. Due to power cut there is no water. I am not even able to buy water cans,” he said.

Perumal said he walked for two kilometres with buckets to find a public water supply point. “I have walked to work because I have no money for petrol and they are not accepting cards. They say their machines are not working,” he said.

With demonetisation hitting especially hard, in the aftermath of cyclone Vardah, Chennai is reeling under the double whammy. While Chief Minister O Panneerselvam asking for relief of Rs 1,000 crores, what Chennaiites really need is a quick infusion of cash into their banks and a speedy restoration of mobile services.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 07:33 IST

National Anthem verdict: 20 arrests made in two days after Supreme Court ruling

About 20 people have been arrested after the Supreme Court made it mandatory for all cinemas across the country to play the National Anthem before every movie screening and that all audience members should stand in respect.

Before the latest order, the playing of the National Anthem was only compulsory in the state of Maharashtra, home to the Bollywood film industry, and standing was optional. There were, however, a number of reports of cinemagoers being attacked for failing to stand, even before the court gave its ruling, as for instance in October, a wheelchair-user was assaulted in a Mumbai cinema by fellow members of the audience.

In its 30 November order, the apex court had said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National flag. That apart, it would instill the feeling within one a sense committed patriotism and nationalism”.

And all 20 arrests after the ruling have taken place in the span of just 48 hours, according to the Financial Express report.

On Monday, 12 people were taken into custody for showing disrespect to the National Anthem during the International Film Festival of Kerala when they refused to stand up while ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was being played, the police have said, adding that cases under IPC section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) had been registered.

“They were formally arrested and later released on bail,” said Sparjan Kumar, police chief of Thiruvananthapuram.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Kumar said six of the 12 had been assaulted after refusing to stand, but that no charges would be brought against the attackers. However, he said that the cinemagoers had been charged with various related offences, including contempt of court.

“We are yet to receive a complaint over the assault. There is no investigation in (that) incident,” he told AFP by phone.

After this happening, a group of people staged a protest in front of a theatre in Thiruvananthapuram. “The National Anthem is not a digital song. National flag is not an audio visual. Cinema is primarily an entertainment. Cinema hall is a place to sell entertainment,” a placard held by protesters at Tagore Theatre, the main venue of the ongoing festival, said.

“Please don’t degrade my National Anthem,” another placard said, held by protesters who said, “We love Bharat. Nationalism cannot be imposed.”

However BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekhanran said, “A section of people were trying to create an impression that nationalism is obsolete and raising objection against it is progressive…Those who find fault with the Supreme Court directive on National Anthem should fight it legally, rather than showing insult to it in the street.”

Another eight people were arrested on Sunday at a cinema in Chennai after being assaulted by a group of 20 men during the interval for allegedly refusing to stand up. They were reportedly charged under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act and can face up to three years in jail if found guilty.

These arrests comes after the incident at Chennai’s Kasi Theatre in Ashok Nagar, where violence broke out during the interval of a Tamil film and twenty men assaulted three students, including two women for allegedly taking selfies when the Anthem was being played, according to a Firstpost report.

The Supreme Court has not specified a penalty for failure to stand, or indicate who was to take charge of monitoring rule-breaking and assigning punishment. The Supreme Court did, however, modify its order on the National Anthem and exempt physically handicapped persons from standing for the Anthem on 9 December, and also clarified that doors of theatres need not be bolted when the National Anthem is played. It said that those who may be physically disabled were to conduct themselves in a manner commensurate to that of standing up for the Anthem and the ingress and egress of crowds were to be regulated appropriately during the playing of the National Anthem.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 15:01 IST

Cyclone Vardah: 18 people killed in Tamil Nadu, telephone services crippled

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eighteen people were killed in six districts of Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents linked to Cyclone Vardah that crossed the coast, as Chief Minister O Panneerselvam held a meeting of top officials on Tuesday to speed up work to ensure return of normalcy in storm-hit regions.The government said it is taking all steps to ensure that the jammed mobile phone networks are restored and a meeting of telecom operators and officials was held.”A total of 18 persons were killed in rain-related incidents linked to Cyclone Vardah,” a top Tamil Nadu government official monitoring the situation told PTI.He said five each were killed in Chennai and Tiruvallur districts. Four persons died in Kancheepuram district, one each in Villupuram and Nagapattinam districts and two in Tiruvannamali district, the officials added. All these deaths were in the revenue districts.He said as expected districts like Tiruvannamalai, Vellore and the Western belt of Dharmapuri too witnessed heavy rains that began with the commencement of the cyclone Vardah’s landfall.”Chief Minister Panneerselvam held a meeting of top officials today. Our priority is to restore power supply which has been hit due to fallen trees, clear clogged roads which have fallen trees,” the official said.He said traffic has already been cleared in all arterial roads in all of the affected districts and efforts were now on to clear the roads and restore power in other neighbourhoods.”TANGEDO (State-run power undertaking) itself has deployed about 4,000 personnel to ensure quick restoration of power supply,” he said.Personnel from multiple government departments including Revenue, Police, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and other state agencies from Ariyalur, Perambalur, Tiruvallur, Cuddalore, Salem and Thanjavur districts were being deployed to handle the situation in the cyclone-hit regions, he said.On the number of people now housed in relief centres, he said more than 13,000 people are being sheltered in over 100 centres. All vulnerable areas were identified in advance and teams of officials are on the job, he said.To a question on clogged mobile phone networks, he said a meeting of telecom officials and operators was being held to address the situation and ensure expeditious return of normalcy. Authorities provided food to stranded passengers in many locations and even buses were arranged for the passengers to ferry them to nearby destinations, including Chennai.Nearly 100 buses were arranged at different stations to facilitate stranded passengers from destinations such as Sholingur and others on the Chennai Egmore-Chengelpet routes to reach Chennai, Southern Railway said.Trains on suburban MMC-Gummidipoondy and Egmore-Tambaram sections started running, but only ‘skeletal’ services were being operated, they added.Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Agency (SDMA) said power supply was being restored based on transmission and distribution network clearance in the affected districts of Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallore.”Electricity Update!! More than 3,000 personnel are working for restoring power. It takes time. It will be restored ASAP,” SDMA said in a tweet.Manpower from other districts with power saws and NDRF teams were also deployed to clear uprooted trees, it said in a series of tweets.In another notification, it said, “power supply was partly restored in Mambalam, Kodambakkam, KK Nagar, High Court, Ambattur, Anna Nagar, Mambakkam, Royapettah” in Chennai.Meanwhile, the Coast Guard Eastern region said it has taken up extensive search and rescue operations following cyclone ‘Vardah’ having made landfall near Chennai on Monday.In an official release, the Coast Guard said it launched extensive search and rescue operation to assist stranded fishing boats on the Bay of Bengal.”Coast Guard is maintaining close liaison with the state Fisheries Department at Chennai and Andhra Pradesh and also at various ports and harbours,” it said.Coast Guard’s Chetak helicopters and Dornier aircrafts were pressed into search and rescue operations along the coast of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and South Andhra Pradesh.A Coast Guard team is closely associated with the disaster management group to provide all required assistance for providing rescue and relief, it added.Telecommunication network services were hit the most by cyclone Vardah that barrelled through the city yesterday, leaving many people without any means to contact their near and dear ones.Mobile services, including of Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, were affected in the city and its neighbouring districts, bringing back memories of the deluge last year.BSNL landlines were operating at some places but its network services were disrupted.Several people took to Twitter expressing anguish over the disruption of services.Telecommunication companies could not be contacted for a comment. However, the state government has asked them to restore their “full network” at the earliest.”All telecom companies are told to restore their full network as quickly as possible and its being monitored,” State Disaster Management Agency said in a tweet.

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

Cyclone Vardah creates havoc in Tamil Nadu, thousands displaced from their homes

Cyclone ‘Vardah’ hit the Tamil Nadu capital on 12 December, 2016. It was the most severe in two decades, that claimed at least 10 lives, flattened homes to the ground, disabled communication lines and brought the transport system to a halt on Monday, as it crossed Chennai’s coast with heavy rain and storm.

Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts were struck with heavy rain. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was on the move to control the havoc. Thousands of people were evacuated.

Chennaities woke up to uprooted trees, big broken branches blocking the roads, fallen name boards, hoardings, damaged compound walls and vehicles under fallen trees, power cut and lack of milk supplies on Tuesday, a day after severe cyclone Vardah ripped through the city.Chennai’s green cover faced a considerable loss as thousands of trees were uprooted by the cyclone.

Cyclone Vardah crossed the Chennai coast and ripped through the city killing three and leaving a trail of destruction in the form of 4,000 uprooted trees, damaged roof sheets and more. Photo credits: twitter.com/@dailyonion

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam in a statement said three persons were killed and around 4,000 trees were uprooted in the city.Chennai has recorded second highest rainfall in the last ten years. Vardah has vacated the region and is presently seen over Interior Tamil Nadu, north of Dharmapuri. It will continue to move in west-southwest directions towards South Interior Karnataka, according to Sky Met Weather.

Panagal park in Chennai was brought to ruins as Cyclone Vardha crossed the coastPanagal park in Chennai was brought to ruins as Cyclone Vardha crossed the coast

Panagal park in Chennai was brought to ruins as Cyclone Vardha crossed the coast. Photo credits: Twitter/@poeticgooner

The cyclonic storm Vardah made landfall near Chennai resulting in heavy rainfall which left the city drenched. But most people, aware of the nature’s fury, remained indoors, leaving the roads across the city virtually deserted.

Advertisement hoardings and name boards of offices and shops were damaged and glass panes on windows and buildings shattered due to the strong wind. Photo Credits: Twitter/@dailyonion

The windows of Hotel Hyatt were ripped apart by the powerful winds of Cyclone Vardha. Heavy winds tore the panels apart leaving the building looking like an underconstruction concrete tower.

Cyclone Vardah tears off pieces of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Chennai. Photo Credits: Twitter/@dailyonion

Gusty winds and heavy rains transform the residential localities into islands and mobile phone signals were affected severely due to the cyclone.

Anna-nagarAnna-nagar

The heavy rainfall brought by the cyclone transformed residential areas into Islands, making it difficult for the people to step out. Photo credits: Twitter/@JAnbazhagan

Not only uprooting of trees, the winds brought down overhead cables and electricity poles. Some trees fell collapsed on parked vehicles, damaging them.

The Chennai Airport was non-operational and no flight on Monday landed or took off from Chennai Airport as airmen were issued a notice of the severe cyclonic storm.

“As the wind speed is around 50 knots, it is not conducive to operate the flights,” Chennai Airport Director Deepak Shastri told IANS.

A total of 25 Chennai bound flights were diverted, nine got delayed and five were cancelled. The incoming flights were diverted to Bengaluru or Coimbatore.

Passengers who reached Chennai by trains just before the cyclone hit faced huge problems reaching their destinations due to the fewer number of buses and autorickshaws on the roads.

The Chennai Airport was non-operational and no flight on Monday landed or took off from Chennai Airport as airmen were issued a notice of the severe cyclonic storm. Photo Credits :twitter/@ChennaiCityNow

Amidst the destruction caused by the cyclonic storm, the Chennai toll gate collapsed.

Cyclone Vardah leaves behind a trail of destruction in Chennai, destroys Toll Gate. Photo Credits: twitter/@dailyonion

Volunteers and residents came together and reached out to the stranded.

Volunteers and citizens came out to reach out to the public and help them. Photo Credits: Twitter/@JAnbazhagan

The Indian Army troops were deployed for releif and rescue operations.The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had kept ready eight flood rescue teams comprising more than 250 members. Equipped with 23 inflatable rubber boats and communication equipment, these had been pre-positioned in coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh. Eleven flood rescue teams comprising 428 rescuers, equipped with 48 inflatable rubber boats and communication equipment have been pre-positioned in low-lying parts of Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu government said over 7,350 people were shifted to 54 relief camps set up in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur and Villupuram districts.

Indian-army-troop-2Indian-army-troop-2

The Indian Army troops were deployed to help in rescue and relief operations. Photo Credits: Twitter/@dailyonion

The Indian Army troops and Chennai Police were on the move to monitor the situation. Photo Credits: Twitter/@dailyonion

As Cyclone pounded Tamil Nadu, Banaglore recieved thunder, lightning and rains on Monday.Meteorologists predict more rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.The Tamil Nadu government declared a holiday for all government, government-aided private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the affected areas. All educational institutions in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts will remained closed on Tuesday.It has told the private sector to allow their workers to avail a holiday or work from home.Meanwhile shops and hotels opened their shutters in the morning as usual. Some hotels refused to accept debit/credit cards for payment saying the point-of-sale terminals were not working.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 14:32 IST

Cyclone Vardah: Chennai limps back to normalcy; flights resume

Chennai: A day after Cyclone ‘Vardah’ ripped through Chennai, the city presented a scene of devastation with thousands of uprooted trees, broken billboards and snapped telephone and power cables besides low-lying areas reporting waterlogging. Flight operations resumed on Tuesday morning in the storm-hit city which was limping back to normalcy.

Cyclone Vardah hit Chennai really hard. PTICyclone Vardah hit Chennai really hard. PTI

Cyclone Vardah hit Chennai really hard. PTI

The storm, which was the most intense to have hit the Tamil Nadu capital in two decades and left four persons dead, snapped communication lines, flattened homes, and threw into disarry rail, road and air traffic as it crossed the coast here yesterday. However, with the rains having abated since morning, people came out on the streets and some of them queued up at roadside tea stalls. Office-goers were seen waiting at bus stops and railway stations with few services being operated.

Southern Railway said skeletal services resumed in the MMC, Sulurpettah/Arakkonam section while that on the busy Tambaram-Chengalpattu route were yet to be operated. Flight operations, which were suspended at the Chennai airport, have resumed. “Flight operations have resumed at Chennai airport today morning,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju tweeted. Operations at the airport were suspended yesterday due to gusty winds and rainfall. Many flights were either cancelled or diverted to other destinations.

In many areas power was yet to restored as uprooted trees had fallen on power lines in the wake of the squally winds that accompanied heavy rains in many parts of the city and surroundings.

Both official machinery and residents themselves were seen clearing fallen trees. Civic workers used hand-held battery-operated wood cutters to remove hundreds of uprooted trees lying on the roads. People made a beeline to shops and supermarkets to stock supplies including candles which were selling like hot cakes.

They were also seen stocking up adequate quantity of drinking water, available in containers as well as bottles. Water logging was reported in low-lying areas in three affected districts of Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur and Chennai and efforts were on to pump it out. Harried denizens said they had not experienced such a cyclonic storm even as they recalled last year’s deluge in these districts. Thousands of people were evacuated from low-lying areas as roaring wind clocking speed of 100 km an hour uprooted trees, tore off hoardings and toppled cars, on Monday.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 12:12 IST

National anthem: Can the Supreme Court also ask for CCTVs in movie theatres to ensure compliance?

Twelve persons, including two women, were detained by police for not standing up while the national anthem was in progress at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday, said a report. That was a day after eight youths were beaten up in a Chennai cinema hall for not standing up during the anthem.

These are the first such instances since a recent Supreme Court interim order made it mandatory to play the national anthem in theatres before movies are screened. The Kerala and Tamil Nadu incidents would surely help to instill fear in the minds of anyone at a public place listening to the anthem either by choice or by accident. These would offer them one more valid reason to display their patriotism besides the feeling of patriotism itself — the fear of being prosecuted.

The Chennai incident gives us hope of the emergence of a new breed of vigilantes, let’s call this group, national anthem vigilantes. Remember those days, when self-appointed gaurakshaks went berserk, days when people were beaten up at several places for either eating beef or ‘harming’ the cow. Even tanners who made a modest living skinning abandoned dead cow carcasses weren’t spared. That uncomfortable phase prevailed for a while and of late one doesn’t hear much about cow vigilantes.

Can patriotism be checked? AFPCan patriotism be checked? AFP

Can patriotism be checked? AFP

But, that void will now be filled by a different kind of vigilantes. Here too, the mode of employment is self-appointment. The job profile is to guard the nationalist cause. The mandate is to beat up people who are found (to the discretionary power of vigilantes) to disrespect the national anthem. The places of their postings are theatres and international film festival venues. They have begun the job self-appointing themselves for the role after the Supreme Court order. It does not matter that you are at the air-conditioned, dark hall to unwind after a hectic week of work to watch that long-awaited film or even to watch your favorite adult movie, you are supposed to stand up first and remember your nationalist commitments.

Enjoyment later, patriotism first.

If not, you are likely to get heckled, abused and manhandled by the new breed of vigilantes. That’s what happened in Chennai when youths were assaulted for not standing up during the national anthem and even taking selfies. Let’s get one thing clear. There is no question about how we all should respect the mother nation, not just the anthem — all ideals it stands for. If the youths in question were taking selfies with the intention of insulting the nation, their action is questionable.

But, come on, they were students, who came for a movie — not to attend a republic day parade. Why in the world should someone be forced to show display of patriotism in a theatre of all places? Or, why only in theater, shouldn’t this be forced on people on bus stands, railway stations, offices and even bars (Why not?). If this brings on the true patriot in every Indian, shouldn’t this be done first in the august house of Parliament and state assemblies at the beginning of every day of Parliament session, where public representatives often behave worse than street thugs? But, then of course, there is a court order for cinema theaters. And you must follow the rule. No questions asked. But, of course, questions will keep coming. Questions that have been already asked and questions that will be asked again, till answers come. Here goes some of them.

One, should the feeling of patriotism come from within or forced upon by someone else? Should one do it fearing the crowd around? Two, how do citizen or police measure the feeling of patriotism in his fellow citizen? Three, how different is display of patriotism from the feeling of patriotism? Four, how does one decide the show of display is indeed a display of patriotism or a dishonest action? For instance, is someone technically standing up in a theater during the national anthem but makes a face, would they still be tagged as an honest patriot? And, how on earth would the vigilantes or police standing around him even know that he is making a face unless then cease to display their respect to the anthem and start looking at the subject in question? Unless a movie theatre fixes CCTVs all around the hall that capture the faces during the anthem and an ethics committee in theatres inspects the footage during the movie so that the fake patriots can be booked by the end of the show, implementing this rule isn’t possible.

Can we, thus, conclude that checking patriotism isn’t an easy task unless vigilantes turn out to be the investigators, the judge and the executioners? Last month, there was an incident reported from Goa where a wheelchair-bound man who couldn’t rise up during the national anthem was reportedly attacked at a multiplex. The Supreme Court later clarified that the disabled doesn’t need to stand up and the doors needn’t be bolted.

But, the Supreme Court order to make the national anthem mandatory alone is sufficient to embolden the self-appointed guardians of national anthem in cinema theaters. The Supreme Court order, though an interim one, lacked logic. Make it mandatory to respect the national anthem wouldn’t alone safe guard the symbols the constitution bestows respect. If Supreme Court is so determined to force patriotism on citizens, shouldn’t it also ask zoos in the country take out peacocks and tigers (national bird and animal) out of their confinements too. Aren’t we insulting the national symbols by putting them in cage?

Like mentioned earlier, as the next step, to ensure theaters do follow the rule, the Supreme Court should also ask theater owners to install CCTV cameras in all theaters and constitution of an ethics committee to ensure movie-goers pay real respect to national anthem. If these measures aren’t possible, the other way is to simply let the citizen use his individual freedom and discretion to fulfill his moral and constitutional responsibilities to the motherland.

Within us, each of us cherish being an Indian and feel lucky to be born here. Fear of prosecution shouldn’t necessarily be the motivating reason to bow to the mother and feeling of patriotism and fear of being watched and prosecuted shouldn’t come in the same breath.

Makes sense my Lord?

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 11:53 IST

Cyclone Vardah: At least three killed, more than 10,000 rescued from cyclone-hit Tamil Nadu

Cyclone Vardah crossed the Chennai coast and ripped through the city killing three and leaving a trail of destruction in the form of 4,000 uprooted trees, damaged roof sheets and more.

More than 10,000 people were rescued and sheltered by the National Disaster Response Force in nearly 300 relief camps after cyclonic storm, the most intense to have hit the Tamil Nadu capital in two decades made a landfall.

The cyclone flattened homes, snapped communication lines and threw into disarray rail, road and air traffic as it crossed the coast near the Tamil Nadu capital, pounding Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram with heavy rain and squall.

A locality in Chennai after Vardah made landfall. Firstpost/Jency SamuelA locality in Chennai after Vardah made landfall. Firstpost/Jency Samuel

A locality in Chennai after Vardah made landfall. Firstpost/Jency Samuel

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam in a statement said three persons were killed and around 4,000 trees were uprooted in the city.

He announced a solatium of Rs 4,00,000 to the families of the dead.

“The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has deployed 4,000 personnel to set right power lines damaged due to high speed winds that blew at a speed of 130 kmph when the cyclone Vardah crossed coast near Chennai Port,” Panneerselvam said.

While all efforts would be taken to restore power supply at the earliest, it will take couple of days for that to happen in some places in North Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts, Panneerselvam said.

Advertisement hoardings and name boards of offices and shops were damaged and glass panes on windows and buildings shattered due to the strong wind. Water-logging was reported from in several roads, and sewage overflows in many areas.

The National Disaster Management Authority said that a total of 10,432 people were rescued by 19 NDRF teams in different parts of Tamil Nadu as the severe cyclone hit the state.

As many as 296 relief camps were set up of which 97 have become operational, the NDMA said in a statement.

Altogether 11,857 food packets were also distributed by the NDRF. As many as 297 roads were blocked in Tamil Nadu after the cyclone’s landfall of which 89 were cleared so far.

30 electric Transformers were also damaged. The NDMA said the cyclone will slow down by midnight and weaken by Tuesday.

However, it asked people in cyclone-hit areas to remain indoors and not to venture out besides remaining calm. Cyclone helpline numbers are — 044-25619206, 25619511, 25384965, 25383694. WhatsApp number — 9445477207, 9445477203.

One NDRF team comprises of 35 personnel.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 07:53 IST

Cyclone Vardah: Death toll rises to 10 in Tamil Nadu, more than 10,000 people rescued, schools to remain shut

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than 10,000 people were rescued and sheltered by the National Disaster Response Force in nearly 300 relief camps after very severe cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’, the most intense to have hit the Tamil Nadu capital in two decades made a landfall.The cyclone flattened homes, snapped communication lines and threw into disarray rail, road and air traffic as it crossed the coast near the Tamil Nadu capital, pounding Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram with heavy rain and squall.Tamil Nadu government announced a solatium of Rs four lakh each to the next of the kin of their families.Govt aided schools, private schools, colleges & other educational institutions in Chennai, Kanchipuram & Tiruvallur to remain closed on Tuesday.The National Disaster Management Authority said that a total of 10,432 people were rescued by 19 NDRF teams in different parts of Tamil Nadu as the severe cyclone hit the state.As many as 296 relief camps were set up of which 97 have become become operational, the NDMA said in a statement.Altogether 11,857 food packets were also distributed by the NDRF. As many as 297 roads were blocked in Tamil Nadu after the cyclone’s landfall of which 89 were cleared so far.A total of 3,384 trees were fallen and 30 electric Transformers were also damaged. The NDMA said the cyclone will slow down by midnight and weaken by Tuesday.However, it asked people in cyclone-hit areas to remain indoors and not to venture out besides remaining calm. One NDRF team comprises of 35 personnel.The Southern Railway said the cyclone had caused severe impact to its infrastructure and prompted cancellation, diversion and suspension of rail services.”The intensity of the cyclone has had a severe impact on the infrastructure of Chennai Division, resulting in considerable damage. Overhead electrical lines have been damaged at several locations,” Anupam Sharma, Divisional Railway Manager, Southern Railway said.”As a result of disruption of overhead electrical lines, 16 trains have been held up in Jolarpettai Chennai Central section and four trains in Villupuram Chennai Egmore section.Several Chennai-bound trains have been regulated at various stations of Chennai division, he said.Although all efforts were being made to restore normalcy as early as possible, full assessment for restoration work was possible only after the cyclone has finally ebbed away, he added.Urgent steps were being taken to ensure movement of all Mail/Express trains which were held up mid-section. Passengers of all such trains were given maximum facilities so as to obviate the hardships to the extent possible, Sharma said.Operations at Chennai airport were suspended for the entire night, with nearly 170 services being disrupted through the day even as 10 flights were cancelled.A total of 44 international and 123 domestic services were affected as they were diverted to nearby airports like Bengaluru even as many stranded passengers were still waiting at domestic and international terminals. Steps were being taken to distribute food to them, they said. Departing flights to cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru were cancelled.Meanwhile, though no major loss of life or property has been reported from Andhra Pradesh so far, heavy rains lashed Chittoor and SPS Nellore district, affecting normal life. A report from Amravati said as many as 18 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who strayed into the Bay of Bengal yesterday despite warnings, were rescued from near the Sriharikota high altitude range in afternoon. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced in evening that Andhra Pradesh was ready to extend all necessary help to neighbouring Tamil Nadu that bore the brunt of ‘Vardah’. With forecast of heavy rains for the next 24 hours in Nellore, Chittoor, Prakasam and Anantapuramu districts, the official machinery has been asked to remain on alert, mostly to prevent breach of tanks. Over 9,400 people living along the Bay of Bengal were evacuated to relief camps amid heavy rain.Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to take stock of the situation in the two states and promised all help.

Kerala: Six people arrested for not standing during national anthem, later released

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During one of the screenings of International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on Monday evening, six men between the age of age group of 25-30 and a 52-year-old man refused to stand for the national anthem.At the screening of an Egyptian movie at the Kannakakunnu Nishagandhi Auditorium, an open air theatre, the national anthem was played as per Supreme Court’s November 30 order. However, according to the police report these men did not budge even when they were requested to stand by the policemen present at the hall. According to a NDTV report, IFFK organisers and Director of Chalachitra Academy also asked them to stand, but they refused.Thus, a police case was filed against them and they arrested. However, they were later released on bail. In another incident that took place in in Kasi Theatre in Chennai, a youth and two students were beaten up in a theatre for not standing up when the national anthem was being played.
ALSO READ Chennai: Three youths beaten up for not standing during national anthem in theatreAccording to the Supreme Court order of November 30, all movie theatres must play the anthem before screenings and everyone must stand. There was amendment added to it later wherein the theatre management was asked to shut the door, but not bolt it when the anthem is playing.

Cyclone Vardah: Home Minister Rajnath Singh assures Tamil Nadu of all help

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday assured the Tamil Nadu government of extending all help to the state in the wake of cyclone ‘Vardah’.”Singh called up Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and enquired about the situation in the aftermath of cyclone Vardah crossing the districts of Chennai, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur,” a government statement said.”The Union Home Minister assured the Chief Minister that the Centre would extend all help required by the State Government in this regard,” it added.Panneerselvam told Singh that the state’s administrative machinery is kept in readiness in all respects to face the cyclone, even as senior IAS Officers have been posted in the affected districts to oversee rescue and relief operations, it said.He also informed the Home Minister that NDRF and SDRF teams have been deployed and that the armed forces, besides the Coast Guard, have been kept on alert.The State machinery has been pressed effectively for rescue and relief work undertaken on a war footing, Panneerselvam was quoted as telling the Home Minister.Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu government said a total of three persons have lost their lives in the cyclone “Vardah” related incidents in the state and announced a solatium of Rs four lakh each to the next of the kin of their families.”Three persons have lost their lives in the Cyclone Vardah related incidents”, Chief Minister O Pannerselvam said in a statement here.Expressing deep condolences to the bereaved family members, the Chief Minister said “a sum of Rs four lakh each will be given from the State Disaster Relief Fund”.

Cyclone Vardah brings Chennai’s vulnerabilities to the fore, reminds residents of 2015 floods

For the second time in 10 days, Chennai wears a deserted look, this time it is because of cyclone Vardah. The eerie calm that the city wore when J Jayalalithaa passed away has been replaced by howling winds and the sounds of falling trees and crashing signboards.

Nisthar Ali, a Chennai resident, recalls a cyclone of similar intensity way back in 1962; none in the recent past. To many residents of Chennai, the power cut, the incessant rains since Sunday night and the flooded roads are reminiscent of the December 2015 floods.

In Kodambakkam, a central locality, Hanif (Nisthar Ali’s son) – whose house was flooded in 2015 – has to keep clearing the falling tree leaves so that they don’t clog the stormwater gratings and the water does not stagnate. Chennai has already recorded nearly 100 mm of rainfall and the wind speed has hit 100 km/hour.

After the 2015 floods, reams have been written about the poor urban planning, encroachment of water bodies and blocking of natural water courses by allowing construction of buildings.

A locality in Chennai after Vardah made landfall. Firstpost/Jency Samuel

A locality in Chennai after Vardah made landfall. Firstpost/Jency Samuel

Vardah has brought the vulnerability of Chennai to the fore again. Though the government did undertake de-silting of water bodies and removal of encroachments, they were not full-fledged measures. There is also the reason that some of the encroachments on Pallikaranai marshland and other water bodies are not only by private entities, but also by government bodies for their research institutions and infrastructure projects. In spite of 2015 floods, no strong policies have been effected to future-proof our cities and make them climate-resilient.

Jayshree Vencatesan of Care Earth, who has studied Pallikaranai Marshland (PML) extensively, says that the city’s master plan needs to be reviewed from a hydrological perspective. She adds that the focus should be on the city’s vulnerability because of being on the coast.

Indumathi Nambi, an associate professor at IIT-Chennai, reinforces this, adding that the PML’s water retention capacity has to be increased so that its effective in prevention of floods. “Hydrological and hydro-geological studies have to be carried out to find out how the water retention capacity can be increased. It is also necessary that the cascading eri system, where water from one tank overflows to another and so on till it reaches the sea. Many feeder channels between such tanks remain blocked.

Nambi points out that where possible, the original channels should be revived and new connections established elsewhere. Many residents are now aware of the need to have water bodies, and those in the southern localities have been urging the government to restore the tanks and lakes in their localities.

Ravindra Singh of GIZ (Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) advocates assigning monetary value to the ecosystem services provided by water bodies, mangroves and trees. “Would you equate a vulture to a sedan? The economic value that one vulture does in cleaning carcasses is equal to the value of a sedan. So, if you consider the ecosystem services of a real estate plot near PML and price it accordingly, there won’t be any buyers,” he says.

Vel, a fisherman from Pulicat, also working as a coordinator with an NGO, rues that the sand dunes that acted as buffer against cyclones and tsunamis have disappeared, especially in Kattupalli, where a new port has come up. The same holds true for mangroves.

Stormwater drains were cleared months ago in anticipation of the monsoon. As residents of a low-lying area points out, the silt was not cleared immediately and most of it found its way back into the drains. Even though stormwater drains are necessary, there are not many provisions for the rainwater to seep into the ground to augment the groundwater.

Though the government had initiated Rain Water Harvesting (RWH), not many residents are aware that they should be cleaned periodically for efficient functioning. Sekhar Raghavan of Rain Centre advocates RWH in public spaces too. He cites the example of Besant Nagar where recharge wells on the roads have effectively prevented flooding of roads.

Sundar, employed in a private firm at a distance of 4 km from his residence, had to traverse more than 12 km since all the roads were blocked by fallen branches and uprooted trees. At the time of reporting, he was trying all possible lanes and bylanes to reach home. Shobha Menon of Nizhal – an NGO working to save and enhance the tree cover of the city – rues that trees receive attention only during cyclones because of the loss they cause to lives and property or pose hindrance to traffic. She says that they need to be regularly pruned and maintained, adding that native trees such as neem, pungam, illuppai and marudhu are better in withstanding extreme weather events.

Though the Corporation of Chennai has taken measures such as temporary shelters, health centres for eventualities during Vardah, evacuated people from coastal settlements, deployed motors to pump out water from sub-ways and has NDRM and official machinery on the ready, long-term measures are imminent be it Vardah or any other extreme weather event.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 19:02 IST

Cyclone Vardah: Home Minister Rajnath Singh enquires about situation, assures help

Chennai: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh ON Monday assured the Tamil Nadu government of extending all help to the state in the wake of cyclone ‘Vardah’.

“Singh called up Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and enquired about the situation in the aftermath of cyclone Vardah crossing the districts of Chennai, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur,” a government statement said.

Home minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Home minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

“The Union Home Minister assured the Chief Minister that the Centre would extend all help required by the State Government in this regard,” it added.

Panneerselvam told Singh that the state’s administrative machinery is kept in readiness in all respects to face the cyclone, even as senior IAS Officers have been posted in the affected districts to oversee rescue and relief operations, it said.

He also informed the Home Minister that NDRF and SDRF teams have been deployed and that the armed forces, besides the Coast Guard, have been kept on alert.

The State machinery has been pressed effectively for rescue and relief work undertaken on a war footing, Panneerselvam was quoted as telling the Home Minister.

Cyclone ‘VardaH’ today made landfall near here, affecting normal life in the northern coastal districts of Chennai, Tiruvallore and Kancheepuram.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 18:42 IST

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: 2 killed as storm slams Chennai; Army starts rescue operationss

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: 2 killed as storm slams Chennai; heavy rains expected, says NDMA

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By Updated: Dec 12, 2016 16:27 IST

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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 16:26 IST

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Cyclone Vardah LIVE: 2 killed as storm slams Chennai; heavy rains expected, says NDMA

Cyclone Vardah LIVE: 2 killed as storm slams Chennai; heavy rains expected, says NDMA

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By Updated: Dec 12, 2016 16:27 IST

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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 16:26 IST

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Cyclone Vardah: Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF geared up for relief missions

New Delhi: The Indian Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF are all geared up to undertake relief and rescue operations as cyclone Vardah made a landfall near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, official sources said on Monday.

Naval ships Shivalik and Kadmatt sailed out from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh early Monday morning to Chennai to augment relief efforts in the Tamil Nadu capital as part of ‘Operation Madad’, the Navy said.

The ships are carrying medical teams, divers, inflatable rubber boats, integral helicopter, and relief material that includes food, tents, clothes, medicines and blankets etc.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

Additional naval ships have been kept on standby to supplement efforts for undertaking humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, should the situation demand, the Navy said.

“Vice Admiral HCS Bisht, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command, reviewed the preparedness of the Naval Command to undertake relief operations at Chennai,” Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said.

Apart from 10 diving teams stationed on the Shivalik and Kadmatt ships, the Flag Officer of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Naval Area has readied six diving teams for immediate deployment in consultation with the state administration.

“As many as 22 diving teams have been kept on standby at Visakhapatnam for immediate deployment, should the situation warrant. Shelter places have been identified and medical teams kept ready for providing humanitarian assistance,” the Navy spokesperson said.

“A survey ship has been kept on standby to undertake harbour survey if required. Naval aircraft are also on standby at the Naval Air Stations Rajali and Dega to augment HADR operations,” he added.

The Indian Coast Guard are also on standby.

“All necessary rescue materials have been kept on standby at all Coast Guard stations along the coast across these states. Coast Guard Regional Headquarters East at Chennai is closely coordinating with the state administration for rendering assistance if sought,” the Coast Guard said.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has kept ready eight flood rescue teams comprising more than 250 members. Equipped with 23 inflatable rubber boats and communication equipment, these have been pre-positioned in coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh.

“One team each has been pre-positioned at in Prakasam district and Vishakhapatnam, two teams at Sri Kala Hasti in Chittoor district and four teams at Sullurupeta, Nellore and Tada block areas of Nellore district,” the NDRF said.

Eleven flood rescue teams comprising 428 rescuers, equipped with 48 inflatable rubber boats and communication equipment have been pre-positioned in low-lying parts of Tamil Nadu.

One team each has been pre-positioned at Mahabalipuram and Tambram in Kanchipuram district, two teams at Chennai and three teams at Tiruvallur.

Three teams are en route to the NDRF base at Arrakonam in Tamil Nadu from Pune in Maharashtra. In addition, one team is at Puducherry,” the statement said.

“Some additional teams are kept on standby and shall be mobilised as per the demand. NDRF Director General RK Pachnanda is closely monitoring the situation round the clock.”

“The NDRF control room in Delhi is in touch with India Meteorological Department and state administration,” the statement added.

Cyclone Vardah on Monday afternoon crossed the Tamil Nadu coast near Chennai, leading to strong winds. The landfall will continue for around four hours, accompanied by rains and strong winds.

The Tamil Nadu government said over 7,350 people were shifted to 54 relief camps set up in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur and Villupuram districts.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 16:23 IST

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

Cyclone Vardah: Govt taking all precautions at Kalpakkam nuclear power plant in Kancheepuram

New Delhi: Government has taken all precautions for the safety of Kalpakkam nuclear power plant as Tamil Nadu faces a severe cyclonic storm Vardah on Monday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“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.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 14:48 IST

Cyclone Vardah: Over 9,400 evacuated in SPS Nellore in Andhra Pradesh

Amaravati: Over 9,400 people living along the Bay of Bengal coast in SPS Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh were on Monday evacuated to relief camps amid heavy rains due to the influence of severe cyclonic storm Vardah.

Eight fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu were rescued from the sea near the Sriharikota High Altitude Range while search was on for ten more persons feared trapped at sea.

With the cyclonic storm Vardah set to make landfall between Sriharikota and Chennai, a state of high alert is being maintained in SPS Nellore district.

“The police and CISF personnel are on the job and all the ten fishermen are safe. But they are somehow reluctant to come to the shore. We will soon bring them out,” Nellore Superintendent of Police Vishal Gunni told PTI over phone.

Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana, who is camping in Nellore to oversee the rescue and relief operations, said Vakadu and Tada received 4.8 and 3 cms of rain, respectively, since on Monday morning.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“We have already moved over 9,400 persons in seven vulnerable mandals to safety. All necessary measures have been taken to ensure safety of people,” he said.

Earlier, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had directed the Nellore district administration to evacuate people in about 255 low-lying areas to safer places.

The Chief Minister reviewed the situation through teleconference and asked the official machinery to remain on high alert to prevent loss of lives.

The holy Tirumala Hills have been receiving rainfall since last night, causing some hardship to devotees visiting the shrine of Lord Venkateswara.

Temple Executive Officer D Sambasiva Rao has directed the temple staff to make necessary arrangements for the comfort of the pilgrims in view of the inclement weather.

Under the influence of Vardah, Nellore and Chittoor districts are expected to receive heavy rainfall.

In Sullurpeta mandal in Nellore district, 30 persons were shifted to a relief camp this morning.

The South Central Railway has cancelled some passenger trains between Sullurpeta and Chennai in view of the cyclone.

The Vijayawada-Chennai-Vijayawada Pinakini Express has been diverted via Renigunta and Arrakkonam. Some other Express trains on the Chennai route have also been diverted via Arrakkonam.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 13:59 IST

India Navy & Army prepared for Cyclone Vardah as heavy rains, strong winds hit Chennai

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As heavy rains and strong winds hit Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh ahead of Cyclone Vardah making landfall around 2 pm, Indian Navy and Army have their teams on standby.While the Indian Navy has stationed two ships — INS Shivalik and INS Kadmatt — near North Chennai to provide immediate assistance if required. Both the ships are equipped with adequate bricks of HADR material. The ships also have additional divers, doctors, food, water, blanket inflatable rubber boats, integral helicopters and other relief material in quantities sufficient to sustain over 5,000 people.“In preparation for the relief efforts of very severe cyclone Vardah, the Eastern Naval Command has assumed high degree of readiness to render necessary assistance. All operational ships have been readied and kept on standby to undertake humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, including evacuation, should the situation demand,” said a statement from the Indian Navy.This apart, additional 30 diving teams with Gemini boats and four platoons with additional relief material have been pressed into action.Cyclone Vardah’s severe cycle is around 450 km east-north-east of Chennai and is likely to make landfall north of Chennai around 2 pm.Besides the Indian Navy, the Army has put as many as seven columns on standby for rescue and relief operation.

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

Chennai: Heavy rains on Monday pounded the city and north coastal districts of Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, inundating low lying areas, while high velocity winds uprooted hundreds of trees as the severe cyclonic storm Vardah reached about 60 kms northeast of Chennai and was likely to make landfall in the next couple of hours.

According to the IMD bulletin at noon, by the time Vardah hits the coast, winds with speed of 100-110 kmph to 120 kmph are like to sweep the region.

Squally winds hit Chennai this morning as the very severe cyclonic storm approached Tamil Nadu. Power supply was suspended in many parts of these regions as a precautionary measure.

The rains intensified as the cyclone neared leading to waterlogging in many areas.

The Tamil Nadu government had declared holiday for educational institutions in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, besides coastal taluks of Villupuram.

Rail and flight services in Chennai have been affected, officials said.

Around 25 incoming flights, including those from international destinations, were diverted to the nearby Hyderabad and Bangalore airports due to strong winds and poor visibility, airport officials said.

Nearly 25 outbound flights were delayed, officials said, adding that there was no inundation of the runway.

An emergency management team was on standby to meet any eventuality, they said.

The Southern Railways, meanwhile, announced suspension of services on the Chennai Beach and Velacherry MRTS route.

Similarly, suburban rail services on the MMC-Gummidipoondi line were also suspended until further notice. Some passenger trains coming to Chennai and leaving the city were also diverted.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The system was likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually while moving towards north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts.

However, 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.

Over 15 teams of NDRF have been deployed in various coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh which are on high alert due to the approaching cyclonic storm.

The armed forces have been asked to be on standby with the army, navy and air force prepared to be deployed anytime as and when required.

People in low-lying areas have been asked to move to safer zones.

Puducherry also experienced intermittent drizzle from early morning. The state government took precautionary steps to prevent tourists and other people from going close to the sea shore.

Police personnel were deployed on the entire two-and-a-half kilometre stretch of beach road and barricades were also put on all roads close to the sea shore. All schools and colleges are closed on Monday.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief RK Pachnanda said while eight teams are ready in various areas of Tamil Nadu, seven are in Andhra Pradesh, apart from few others in nearby locations.

“Some more teams are on alert in Arrakonam and Guntur and they can be transported immediately in case they are required. We are in constant touch with the two state governments, the Indian Meteorological Department and other relief agencies,” the NDRF Director General told PTI.

Nellore and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh are also expected to affected.

Over 9,400 people in seven mandals along the Bay of Bengal coast in Nellore were evacuated to relief camps this morning amid heavy rains.

Eight fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu were rescued from the sea near the Sriharikota High Altitude Range while search was on for ten more persons.

The holy Tirumala Hills have been receiving rainfall since last night, causing some hardship to devotees visiting the shrine of Lord Venkateswara.

Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu reviewed the situation through teleconference and asked the state agencies to remain on high alert to prevent loss of lives, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Navy said it has stationed two ships north of Chennai to render any immediate assistance.

“We have put two ships to sea — an ASW frigate and a stealth frigate. They are holding north of Chennai for immediate assistance if required,” Navy PRO Capt DK Sharma said.

He said winds of 120-150 kmph are sweeping the area and a lot of trees have been uprooted.

“We anticipate that with this kind of advance, the cyclone is likely to make landfall somewhere north of Chennai, short of Pulicat.”

He said the Navy is ready with humanitarian assistance like food, water, medicines and blankets.

“We have enough divers, doctors and integral helicopters should there be a need for immediate assistance or evacuation,” the officer said.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 13:24 IST

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

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By Updated: Dec 12, 2016 13:45 IST

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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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Chennai: Three youths beaten up for not standing during national anthem in theatre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Less than a month after the Supreme Court directed cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem in theatres, a youth and two students were allegedly beaten up in a theatre in Chennai for not standing up when the national anthem was being played.According to Times of India, the incident took place in Kasi Theatre in Ashok Nagar. When the national anthem was played and seven to eight people reportedly remained seated.The report said that during the interval, one Vijayakumar grabbed Viji, a freelancing movie reviewer, by the collar and demanded why he did not stand up for the national anthem. In an argument that ensued, 20 people ganged up and rained blows on Viji and two women Sabaritha and Shreela.”We were harassed and manhandled by the men. They issued life threats and assaulted us. We did not have any intention to show disrespect,” Shreela, told the daily.28-year old Vijayakumar who is accused of assaulting them claimed that the group of eight were taking selfies, clapping and whistling when the anthem was played. “Angered by this, along with around twenty others in the theatre, I questioned the group during the interval. And a verbal fight erupted. Immediately the manager from the theatre pacified us and we continued watching the movie along with a security guard,” Vijayakumar told The New Indian Express.”We strongly believe that a cinema hall is not the place to play national anthem and mandatorily ask everyone to stand up for it. We had already decided that we wouldn’t do so,” said Leenus, one of the people in the group, told The NewsMinute.The victims also alleged that none from the audience came to the rescue.”People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy had said while stressing that it was the duty of every citizen of the country to show respect to the national anthem and the flag.

Cylone Vardah LIVE: Storm may not weaken much when it makes landfall, says IMD

Dec 12, 2016

Highlights

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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 11:16 IST

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

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.

Cyclone Vardah: Public holiday declared in some parts of Tamil Nadu on December 12

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of the upcoming danger posed by cyclone Vardah in Tamil Nadu, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed five teams in Andhra Pradesh and six in Tamil Nadu as a precautionary measure. “NDRF has taken adequate precautions to pre-position its teams. We have pre-positioned five teams in Andhra Pradesh, one in Tada, one in Sullurupeta, one in Ongole, one in Chittoor district, and six in Tamil Nadu,” said RK Pachnanda, Director General, NDRF.Stating that NDRF is in constant touch with the concerned authorities monitoring the situation, Panchnanda said the NDRF battalions would be ready to move to any place at short notice. “The NDRF is in close touch with state government authorities and agencies like the Indian Meteorological Department. We have been monitoring the situation very closely,” he said.With Cyclone Vardah presently lying 450 km approximately North East of Chennai and all set to make a landfall north of Chennai on Monday evening, the state has been put on high alert. The government had also declared public holiday on December 12 in Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, Chennai & coastal Talukas of Villupuram, apart from issuing advisory to private undertakings and establishments to permit their staff to avail holiday or work from home. Educational institutions in Thiruvalluvar and Kanchipuram districts will also remain close on Monday.
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh brace to deal with Vardah as it makes landfall near Chennai tomorrowOn the other hand, Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority met on Sunday under chairmanship of CM O Panneerselvam to review preparedness. The CM issued instructions to make arrangements for evacuating people in low lying and vulnerable areas. TANGEDCO (Electricity Board) was also asked to take all precautionary measures, including disconnection of power supply to ensure safety of people.

Cyclonic storm Vardah to make landfall near Chennai, NDRF teams deployed in AP, TN

Chennai/New Delhi: 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 and the system is expected to move westwards and cross Chennai by 12 December 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.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

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 Puducherry and southern Andhra Pradesh, the RMC said in its weather warning put on its website. Squally winds and rough to very rough sea conditions are expected along and off Andhra Pradesh, north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts from tonight, it said.

“Storm surge of about 1 metre above astronomical tide is expected at the time of landfall,” the RMC said.

The 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.

It also urged fishermen in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh coasts to keep away from the seas for the next 48 hours.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in Tamil Nadu on account of the cyclonic storm.

The NDRF teams, each consisting of 38 rescuers, have been deployed in Chennai, Tiruvallore and Kanchipuram, 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.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government has put the administration of the respective districts on alert even as the Navy assumed a “high degree” of preparedness to involve itself for possible rescue operations.

State Revenue Minister RB Uthayakumar said the district administration of Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallore and Villupuram have put in preventive steps to avoid any inconvenience to the public and are prepared to face any eventuality.

The Eastern Naval Command (ENC), for its part, “has assumed high degree of readiness to render necessary
assistance.”

“All operational ships have been readied up and kept standby to undertake Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations including evacuation, should the situation demand,” a PIB (Defence) release said.

These ships were embarked with additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats, integral helicopters and relief material that include food, tentage, clothes, medicines and blankets, it said.

Further, 30 diving teams with Gemini boats and four platoons with additional relief material are ready to be pressed into action at short notice, it said.

The ENC is closely monitoring the situation and is in constant communication with the state administration to augment rescue and relief operations, it said.

Naval aircraft were also “standing by” at the Naval Air stations Rajali and Dega to undertake reconnaissance, rescue, casualty evacuation and air drop of relief material to the stranded, it added.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 16:39 IST

Cyclonic storm Vardah likely to cross Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border on Monday

Vijayawada: Authorities on Sunday sounded an alert in Andhra Pradesh and adjoining Tamil Nadu as cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’ over the Bay of Bengal has turned into a “very severe” one.

The storm is likely to cross north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coast by Monday afternoon, said Indian Meteorological Department on Sunday.

According to IMD, ‘Vardah’ over west central and adjoining south Bay of Bengal moved further westwards and lay centred at 530 hours over west central and adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal about 520 km east-southeast of Nellore, 490 km east-southeast of Machilipatnam and 480 km east-northeast of Chennai.

“The storm is very likely to move nearly west-southeastwards and maintain its intensity till Sunday evening. Thereafter it will weaken gradually while moving towards south Andhra Pradesh coast and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coast,” the IMD said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The Met office has forecast light to moderate rains at many places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over south Andhra coast and north coastal Tamil Nadu from Sunday evening for subsequent 36 hours. Light to moderate rains are likely to occur over north coastal Andhra.

Strong winds with speed of 40-50 kmph are likely along the coast from Sunday. The speed may increase to 70-80 kmph at the time of landfall. Damage to thatched huts, power and communication lines, roads and crops is expected.

As the sea will be rough, fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea for next 48 hours. Authorities have hoisted third warning signal at all ports on Andhra coast.

District administration in Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore have been alerted to take all precautionary measures. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who has cancelled his visit to the UAE and Kuwait, is monitoring the situation from the command and control centre in Vijayawada.

Naidu deputed four senior IAS officers to four districts to take necessary steps to minimise the loss of lives and property. Two teams of National Disaster Response Force have reached Nellore district.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 11:26 IST

After I-T raid, CM Chandrababu Naidu directs removal of Shekhar Reddy as Tirupati board member

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday directed the concerned department to remove industrialist J Shekhar Reddy as Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthaman (TTD) (Tirupati) Board Member. Naidu’s decision came days after the Income-Tax Department raided his Chennai residence and seized currency notes and gold in huge quantities. The department seized Rs 6 crore in newly introduced Rs 2,000 denomination notes from the house of Shekhar Reddy in T Nagar.Earlier on Friday, Left parties and social activists demanded Reddy’s ouster from prestigious TTD Trust Board, which manages the famous Tirumala Balaji Temple and charged the government of preferring businessmen and contractors for coveted post for nurturing their business interests and personal gains. CPI activists also demanded that Reddy be removed from the TTD Trust Board.The Income Tax Department on Thursday raided premises belonging to three businessmen Shekhar Reddy, Srinivasa Reddy and Prem, in Chennai ‘s T Nagararea and seized Rs 90 crore and 100 kilograms gold. The income tax officials also questioned businessmen, involved in the money exchange racket.

Adding to Chennai haul, I-T dept seizes fresh Rs 24 crore in Vellore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A fresh seizure of Rs 24 crore cash in new notes was made by the Income Tax department on Saturday, adding to the biggest haul of cash and gold post demonetisation, in which over Rs 142 crore unaccounted assets have been recovered in tax operations so far here.Officials said the fresh seizure of new currency, in Rs 2000 notes, was made by the sleuths from a car in Vellore on the insistence of the accused presently being interrogated in the case. With this amount, the total seizure in the case has now gone upto Rs 166 crore in a single case.The department had seized Rs 142 crore undisclosed assets — that includes about Rs 10 crore in new notes and gold bars weighing 127 kg — during searches at multiple locations in Chennai, for the last two days, to check tax evasion. This largest seizure of new currency notes in the country, after the old Rs 500/1,000 notes were scrapped on November 8, was seized after raids were launched on Thursday on eight premises of a group engaged in sand mining in Tamil Nadu.”The group has sand mining licence for the entire state of Tamil Nadu. Eight premises (six residential and two offices) were covered in the search. During the search, Rs 96.89 crore cash in old high denomination notes and Rs 9.63 crore in new Rs 2000 currency notes along with gold weighing 127 kg worth approximately Rs 36.29 crore were found and seized, as unaccounted assets,” the Central Board of Direct Taxes, policy-making body for the I-T department, had said in a statement issued in Delhi.It had added that the searches are “still in progress at four out of the total 8 premises and more specific details including modus operandi would emerge after examination of the documents and other evidence detected during the search.” Officials had said S Reddy, a contractor working with the state government, has claimed the entire money and the gold as his own and is being questioned along with few other people.A senior department official said this seizure of gold and cash was “an unprecedented amount that the tax department has seized in recent times.” The department, the officials said, carried out the searches based on intelligence inputs about the activities of Reddy and few others for the last few days.Officials said the agency was investigating how the new notes in such a large quantity were stashed by the individual.The bundles of the new Rs 2000, that were seized, had no banking slips on them and were jumbled up to mislead investigators, they said. The officials said a number of documents related to financial transactions, entries of gold sale and records of sale/purchase have also been seized by the tax sleuths. “He (Reddy) is a contractor working with the state government.He is claiming the entire cash and gold to be his own. Further probe is on,” they had said.

AIADMK will unanimously choose new party chief soon: Senior leader C Ponnaiyan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior AIADMK leader C Ponnaiyan on Saturday said that the party will unanimously choose a new chief for the party. Ponnaiyan told ANI, “Soon the party will decide a new chief to serve the people of Tamil Nadu. I think there will not be any election for this post.”He added, “The party remained united under Amma and will follow same in coming days. We’ll unanimously choose a candidate for the party.”New Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam, who assumed office following the demise of J Jayalalithaa, held a Cabinet meeting on Saturday at the State Secretariat. The meeting began at 11.30 am. Panneerselvam is expected to adopt a resolution to accord formal sanction for a suitably impressive memorial for Jayalalithaa. The Chief Minister is yet to formally take his seat in his office at the Secretariat. Panneerselvam took oath as the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa breathed her last at 11.30 pm on December 6 at Apollo Hospital in Chennai. The oath-taking ceremony took place at Raj Bhawan.Panneerselvam served as the Leader of Opposition during the DMK government in 2006. He has previously held the portfolio of Finance in every AIADMK government.Meanwhile, several advertisements hailing Sasikala as the successor of Jayalalithaa in the party were reportedly inserted by a section of AIADMK functionaries in Tamil evening newspapers.

Tamil Nadu: First Cabinet meeting with new CM O Panneerselvam today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>New Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam, who assumed office following the demise of J Jayalalithaa, will hold a Cabinet meeting on Saturday at the State Secretariat.The meeting will begin at 11.30 am as per the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party sources. Panneerselvam is expected to adopt a resolution to accord formal sanction for a suitably impressive memorial for Jayalalithaa. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister is yet to formally take his seat in his office at the Secretariat.Earlier, the Union Cabinet met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and condoled the death of Jayalalithaa who passed away on December 5 at Chennai’s Apollo Hospital. Panneerselvam took oath as the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa breathed her last at 11.30 pm last Monday at Apollo Hospital in Chennai. The oath taking ceremony took place at Raj Bhawan. Panneerselvam served as the Leader of Opposition during the DMK government in 2006. He has previously held the portfolio of Finance in every AIADMK government.

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