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DMK seeks probe by sitting HC judge over Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after a Madras High Court judge expressed doubts over the circumstances leading to the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK on Friday sought a comprehensive probe by a sitting HC judge into the death.”A comprehensive probe must be done by a sitting judge of the High Court and people should be told the truth,” DMK Treasurer M K Stalin said.Against the backdrop of the court raising questions, he said it was imperative for the government to come out comprehensively on the medical treatment provided to the former AIADMK chief.In a statement here, he said complete medical bulletins, video footage and photos of her getting treatment at the hospital should be released.Citing Justice Vaidyanathan’s observation yesterday that he may consider ordering exhumation of the body of the departed leader, he said “it is imperative for the government to release comprehensive information”.Stalin, who had earlier sought a white paper on the treatment given to Jayalalithaa, said there was no statement from the government ever since she was admitted to the hospital on September 22.He said the Centre and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had a duty to answer questions related to the treatment provided for the late leader. Doctors from Delhi’s AIIMS too had treated her, he said.If the ruling regime had explained the “true (health) status” of Jayalalithaa and released pictures of her getting treatment, the issue could not have reached the doorsteps of court, he said.He recalled a statement of his party chief Karunanidhi seeking release of pictures of Jayalalithaa being treated and said, “had the ruling side not viewed it from the prism of politics, the issue would not have come to such a pass”.Only such activities has cast a “cloud, giving room for suspicion,” among the people, he said, adding it was the right of the people to know about the treatment given to her and the circumstances leading to her death.

Jayalalithaa’s death: Madras HC resonating voice of Tamil Nadu people, says DMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Friday said doubts raised by the Madras High Court over late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s death has resonated doubts of the people as health bulletins issued by Apollo Hospitals contained contradictory reports.”I think it (court) is resonating the voice of a people because during her entire stay in the hospital, no relevant or true information was forthcoming. Strangest of all things, the Tamil Nadu government did not utter a single word about the health of the CM, which was very strange,” said DMK leader Sarvanan.”Apart from that, the doctor’s reports are very contradictory. 10 news bulletins came, but none of the bulletins were signed by a doctor, except only one bulletin by Satya, she was the medical services director from Apollo Hospitals. Apart from that, everything else was issued by the chief executive officer, who was neither a doctor nor was he associated as someone treating Jayalalithaa,” he added.Justice S Vaidyanathan of the high court expressed doubts yesterday over the demise of the former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary.”Media has raised a lot of doubts, personally I also have doubts about Jayalalithaa’s death,” said Justice Vaidyalingam.He was hearing the PIL filed by an AIADMK worker P A Joseph seeking an inquiry commission to probe the circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa.”I personally find in case if I have doubt, I may order the exhumation of the body of the deceased and you have not told anything when she was alive,” Justice Vaidyanathan said.The AIADMK yesterday appointed Jayalalithaa’s close aide VK Sasikala as the party’ general secretary.In a unanimous resolution adopted at the party’s general council meeting, AIADMK members handed over control of the party to Sasikala.

Medallist swimmer dances for a living

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>27-years-old Vishwas KS raised his leg to turn the water tap. He is about to take the mandatory shower before entering the pool. For this young man who lives all by himself in Bengaluru, having no hands has never been a hindrance — whether it be winning medals at world swimming championships or performing his day-to-day chores.Yet this international-level swimmer has to perform at dance shows to earn his bread and butter, and pay for his training which costs Rs 1.5 lakh a year. Vishwas has won three medals in 2016 Speedo Can Am Para Swimming Championships held in Canada. He won two silver, each in breaststroke and backstroke as well as a bronze in butterfly, this after winning three silver medals at Belagavi’s National Level Para-swimming Championship.His trip to Canada was arranged by NGO Astha and although the championship fetched medals, it brought him no prize money. A sum promised by the Karnataka government on his return, is yet to see the light of day.Tough past, a tougher presentVishwas lost his father in a mishap, and in the same incident he lost both his limbs when he was 10-years-old. After the accident, his family moved to Bengaluru where he went on to complete his graduation and took up odd jobs to make ends meet.While swimming training continued, Vishwas took up dancing. As word spread, he started getting more and more offers to perform. This is his primary source of income today. The Rs 6,000 pension the family receives after his father’s death is divided among all siblings, leaving hardly anything for Vishwas.Apart from NGOs which offer financial help, Vishwas performs at shows and concerts to pay his rent. He performs in almost 15 to 20 shows a year, including participating in one episode in the famous Kannada show ‘Maza with Sruza.’ Every morning though, he goes back into the pool back to his passion. A run to the podium against all odds Tamil Vanan D, Vishwas’s coach claims that he has learnt a lot from Vishwas. “At one point of time, I was shocked to see him swim all over the place, lacking proper training and skills. Today, he teaches new moves to me. Students of every age group get inspired,” Tamil says.It was only after intensive training for three years that he was finally ready as a professional swimmer. Vishwas trains every morning, starting at 5 am and practises for four hours and for two hours in the evening at Vijayanagar Aquatic Centre, Bengaluru.This swimmer, who can beat any average abled person in the sport, dreams of participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. “It is my aim to get a chance to swim in Paralympics and 2018 Commonwealth Games,” concludes Vishwas.

India: Madras high court questions Jayalalitha death cause

Court asks why the body of former chief minister J Jayalalitha cannot be exhumed for investigation.

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.

MoS Finance Arjun Meghwal responds to ex-TN chief secy Rao’s ‘political vendetta’ charges, says all are equal before law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to Tamil Nadu’s top bureaucrat P Rama Mohana Rao who was removed after tax raids at his home and office, Arjun Ram Meghwal, MoS Finance said on Tuesday that anyone who violates the law will be punished. “Everyone is equal before law, whosoever does wrong will be punished,” Meghwal said.Speaking on the topic on demonetization, he said that the government is keeping a close tab on the present situation post demonetization, adding the nation is backing Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this move to end corruption and black money menace. “Things will get better. After my field visit to smaller villages, I can say that things will very soon get better. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has understood the pulse of the public. The people want to end black money and corruption. They are in the support of the government,” he said.Meghwal claimed that despite facing hardships due to demonetization, the people are giving their full support to the government.
ALSO READ Removed after IT raids, Rama Mohana Rao says, I am Chief Secy of Tamil NaduOn the other hand, the Congress Party has called for an anti-demonetization meeting today. The meeting will be followed by a joint press conference to be addressed by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also expected to join.The meeting is seen as an attempt on the part of the grand old party to paper over the cracks that developed when several opposition parties skipped the joint march to Rashtrapati Bhawan on December 16 over demonetization.Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in New Delhi for the meeting. The DMK, RJD and others are also expected to participate. With input from agencies .

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

IT department summons former TN Chief Secretary’s son for tax evasion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Widening its probe, the Income Tax Department has summoned the son of former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao in connection with its tax evasion investigation against sand mining operators of the state where one of the biggest seizures of cash and gold was made by the taxman in the aftermath of demonetization.Officials said while Rao’s son Vivek Papisetty was first summoned to join investigations last week, after searches were carried out against him and his family on December 21, and now fresh reminders have again been sent to him in this regard.They said Vivek has informed the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case that he would join the probe soon and has cited his wife’s illness as the reason for not being able to do so till now.The department, it is understood, wants to confront and question Vivek regarding a number of seizures of documents made by the sleuths from his and his kins’ locations and from the premises of Shankar Reddy after searches were first carried out against the latter here earlier this month.Reddy was arrested by CBI last week.”Vivek has said he would be joining I-T investigations in a day or two. His questioning is vital in the case,” they said, adding that three other associates searched in the case are also being questioned by the department.I-T officials had earlier claimed that Vivek had “admitted to a total unaccounted income of about Rs 17 crore”, a day after I-T raids were carried out at the top bureaucrat’s house and other premises linked to his kin.Last week, the department had launched searches on at least 15 premises related to Vivek and others and had claimed to have seized Rs 30 lakh in new currency and five kg gold.The Tamil Nadu government, on the very next day of raids on December 22, had replaced Rao from the top bureaucratic post and had appointed senior IAS officer and Additional Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan as the new Chief Secretary.The I-T case emerges from the to biggest cash haul of new notes post demonetization after the department raided some sand mining operators of Tamil Nadu.Over Rs 142 crore unaccounted assets have been recovered so far by the department in this case apart from seizure of Rs 34 crore in new notes. The total cash seizure in this instance was over Rs 170 crore and this has become the single largest case of disclosure of undisclosed assets post the note ban.

3 killed in fireworks factory blaze in Tamil Nadu

Mon, 26 Dec 2016-01:58pm , Virudhunagar (Tamil Nadu) , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three workers were killed on Monday after a fire broke out at a fireworks factory at Naranapuram in the district, police said.Three others trapped in the factory were rescued by fire and rescue services personnel, who are trying to bring the blaze under control, they said.Police said the fire spread quickly owing to extreme heat conditions and the cause of the fire is being ascertained.The injured have been admitted to the Sivakasi government hospital.

DNA Evening Must Reads: PM Modi lays foundation stone of Shivaji Memorial; Ranji Trophy; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Demonetization: People who benefited for 70 years trying to scuttle move, says PM ModiPM Narendra Modi is in Maharashtra today for foundation stone laying ceremony of Shivaji memorial, Mumbai & Pune metro train project. Catch the live updates of PM Modi’s visits here.2. Dhulagarh riot: BJP central team stopped from entering violence-hit villageA team of central leaders of BJP were stopped from entering the village at Dhulagarh, Howrah on Saturday afternoon, where communal clashes erupted last week.Read more here.3. PM Modi lays Foundation for Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji MaharajPrime Minister Narendra Modi laid the Foundation for a Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji Maharaj off the city coast on Saturday, an event that comes a few months ahead of the civic polls and amid tussle among parties to claim the legacy of the 17th century warrior king. Read more here.4. Sixth grader sues Pak President House officials for ‘plagiarising his speech’A sixth grader in Pakistan, through his father, has sued officials at the President House at the Islamabad High Court, accusing them for plagiarising and using his speech without his consent. Read more here.5. Ranji Trophy: Top Indian stars bite the dust as Karnataka humbled by Tamil Nadu in 2 daysKarnataka had two Gen-Next superstars of Indian cricket but a Tamil Nadu pace attack, with a cumulative experience of 35 matches, did the star turn to script a stunning seven-wicket victory inside two days in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final in Visakhapatnam on Saturday. Read more here.6. Dangal vs Sultan: Aamir Khan or Salman Khan – who won the first day box office battle?When Aamir Khan and Salman Khan both decided to do a wrestling film each, comparisons were bound to happen. Salman’s Sultan released last July and it did a business of over Rs 300 crore at the box office. Has Aamir been able to beat Salman’s record? Read here

Sri Lankan court extends remand of 15 TN fishermen

Fri, 23 Dec 2016-02:55pm , Rameswaram , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Sri Lankan court on Saturday extended till January 5, the remand of 15 Tamil Nadu fishermen, arrested for allegedly fishing in the island nation’s territorial waters.The Oorkavalthurai court in Sri Lanka, extended the judicial custody of the fishermen till January 5, Rameswaram Fishermen Association President S Emerite said.The 15 fishermen from this island town were arrested in two separate incidents on November 1 and 19, by the Sri Lankan Navy, while they were fishing near Neduntheevu and lodged in Yalpanam prison there, he said.The naval personnel had also taken away their two mechanised boats, he added.

5 things you need to know about new Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu Girija Vaidyanathan

<!– /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. Vaidyanathan shall also hold full additional charge of the post of Vigilance Commissioner and Commissioner for Administrative Reforms, previously held by Rao, it said. ​But, who is Girija Vaidyanathan who will be the 45th ​Chief Secretary of the state?1. A PhD holder from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, ​Girija Vaidyanathan is 1981 batch IAS officer. She started her career as a Sub-Collector in 1983 and is currently the Commissioner of Land Administration.
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu: Girija Vaidyanathan replaces Rama Mohana Rao as Chief Secretary2. She was the principal secretary of the Health and Family Welfare Department in the Government of Tamil Nadu, Mission Director of National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) and has also worked in health, education, agriculture, transportation and state planning departments over her 34 year long career.3. Though she has been closer to DMK, rather than AIADMK, she was the brain behind public health and education projects during Jayalalithaa’s first regime. 4. She was the Mission Director of the State Health Society when Tamil Nadu won the award for best performance among the non-empowered action group States.5. Her father S Venkitaramanan, was the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor from 1990 to 1992.(With PTI inputs)

Scale of child slavery shocking in India’s spinning mills – research | Reuters

By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Various forms of slavery, including child labour, are present in more than 90 percent of south India’s spinning mills which produce yarn for Western brands, researchers said, calling for mapping of supply chains and tougher audits.The India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), a human rights organisation, spoke to workers from almost half the mills in Tamil Nadu, the largest producer of cotton yarn in the country.Most female workers employed in the 734 mills involved in the research were aged between 14 and 18, it said, and up to 20 percent of the workers were younger than 14.It said employees were forced to work long hours by employers who often withheld their pay or locked them up in company-controlled hostels. Many also faced sexual harassment.”We have raised the issue for five years now, but even to us the scale of this problem came as a shock,” ICN Director Gerard Oonk said in a statement.K. Venkatachalam, chief advisor of the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association, said he was not aware of the research.He said the state government had recently filed a report to the Madras High Court “clearly stating that these issues are no longer prevalent in the industry”.”The matter has been closed,” Venkatachalam told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“TORTURE”
India is one of the world’s largest textile and garment manufacturers. The southern state of Tamil Nadu is home to some 1,600 mills, employing between 200,000 and 400,000 workers.Traditionally the dyeing units, spinning mills and apparel factories have drawn on cheap labour from villages across Tamil Nadu to turn cotton into yarn, fabric and clothes, most of it for Western high street shops.Most workers are young women from poor, illiterate and low-caste or “Dalit” communities, who often face intimidation, sexually offensive remarks and harassment.

ICN said in more than half of the mills it researched, workers were not allowed to leave company-controlled hostels after working hours.Only 39 mills paid the minimum wage and in half the mills, a standard working week involved 60 hours or more of work. “Supervisors torture girls to extract work beyond their capacity,” ICN quoted an 18-year-old former worker as saying.Another teenage girl, Kalaichelvi, who earned around 8,000 rupees ($118) a month, told researchers she was forced to work for 12 hours straight with no breaks for lunch or to use the bathroom.

She said she suffered from burning eyes, rashes, fever, aching legs and stomach problems due to the working conditions. About a third of the yarn produced by workers like Kalaichelvi is used in export factories in Tamil Nadu that produce garments for many global brands.Citing poor enforcement of labour laws and “superficial audits” by buying brands, the ICN called on the industry and government to map supply chains and publish sourcing details.It also called for factories that upheld standards to be rewarded.($1=67.8650 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

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

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 19:34 IST

Major I-T raids since demonetisation: ED arrests TN chief secy; DRI seizes Rs 1.34cr in new notes at Chennai airport

It has been more than a month since the Narendra Modi government decided to demonetise high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and even though queues outside banks and ATMs might have shortened from how they used to be, income tax officials have been busy with several high-profile seizures of cash and gold. Some of the seizures reflect poorly on the government — in a few instances new currency notes were seized as well which in turn raises questions about the BJP government’s decision.

Since 8 November, the Income Tax department has detected Over Rs 3,185 crore of undisclosed income, while seizing Rs 86 crore worth of new notes, as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders. Official sources said the taxman carried out a total of 677 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on 8 November, even as the department has issued over 3,100 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The I-T department, they said, has also seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 428 crore during the same period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency has also referred over 220 cases to its sister agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate.

Here are some of the biggest raids conducted by tax sleuths since the high-profile cleanup of the Indian economy began:

Kolkata businessman raided

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18. According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Chennai airport raid 

In the latest development, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence busted a hawala gang and seized Rs 1.34 Crore in Rs 2000 notes & $ 7000 from five persons in early morning hours, near Chennai airport, reported ANI.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary, his son under taxmen scanner

The house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

On Thursday, tax sleuths raided his son, Vivek Rao’s office in Chennai. Sources told NDTV that the taxmen are probing the source of funding for the six companies that Rao established in 2012.

Continuing raids in Chennai

On 20 November, taxmen raided the premises of a prominent engineering college after reports arose of the owner depositing Rs eight crore in unaccounted cash in the accounts of employees. IT officials later found that the amount was deposited in over 400 bank accounts.

According to The Indian Express, on 8 December, the IT department busted a money exchange racket in the Tamil Nadu capital, seizing Rs 90 crore in cash, of which 70 crore were in new notes, along with 100 kgs of gold.

The Income Tax officials on Monday seized demonetised currency notes worth Rs 10 crore and a few kilogrammes of diamond and gold jewellery during a raid in the house and showroom of a jeweller in Chennai.

BJP leader arrested with new notes

On 6 December, the Special Task Force arrested former West Bengal BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, after Rs 33 Lakh in form of Rs 2,000 notes was confiscated from him.

New notes found in ‘secret chamber’

In a surprise raid at a hawala operator’s residence in Hubballi led to the Karnataka and Goa taxmen unearthing Rs 5.7 crore in new cash, The Times of India reported. The stash of new cash, interestingly, was found in a secret chamber in the bathroom.

Post note ban Rs 30 crore seized in Maharashtra excluding Mumbai

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Income Tax department seized about Rs 30 crore in cash, including Rs 12.32 crore in new bills, from Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai.

The cash was seized during 57 surveys and search operation carried out since the decommissioning of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, I-T department said in a release in Mumbai.

CBI raid at Hyderabad post offices

The CBI conducted surprise raids after the note ban. During one such search at the Himayatnagar Post office, the invetigation agency found Rs 40 lakh. The raid took place on reports of irregularites in phasing out of old currency notes.

Bahubali producer raided in Hyderabad

The IT department raided the residences and offices of the producers of the multi-lingual blockbuster Bahubali, Business Standard reported. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the two producers, were at the recieving end of the taxmen, as Rs 60 crore worth of new notes were found during the raids.

G Janardhan reddy under IT scanner

On 21 November, within days after G Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s lavish wedding grabbed headlines for its splendour, Income Tax Department raided the mining baron’s offices in Bellari.

A team of five I-T Department officials raided the former BJP lawmaker’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) offices.

NGO linked to Pakistan singer raided

On November 18, Delhi police and the IT department raided the offices of a NGO, Routes of Roots, run by the managers of eminent Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, after it recieved reports of illegal conversion of black money.

IT raids in Chandigarh college

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday seized Rs 50 lakh cash, including Rs 46.80 lakh in new notes, after raids at the premises of an educational institute’s owner. Acting on a tip-off, the ED sleuths swooped down on the premises of the owner of Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes in Chandigarh.

Over two crores seized from Meerut engineer

Cash worth more than Rs 2.67 crore in both old and new notes, and 30 kilograms of silver were seized from an engineer, working in the irrigation department, by the Income tax sleuths on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:26 IST

Tamil Nadu: Rama Mohana Rao sacked, Girija Vaidyanathan appointed as new chief secretary

Tamil Nadu’s chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was sacked from his post on Thursday following Income Tax Department’s raids on his official residence in Chennai, reports said.

Rao, who was appointed as the new chief secretary just six months ago in a major reshuffle, has been replaced by Girija Vaidyanathan, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1981 batch, CNN-News18 said.

Apart from taking on the role as chief secretary, Vaidyanathan will also hold full additional charge of vigilance commissioner and commissioner for administrative reforms, The Hindu said.

Vaidyanathan was serving as the additional chief secretary and commissioner of land administration in Tamil Nadu, CNN-News18, said. However, according to The Hindu, she is just two and half years away from retirement.

On Wednesday, the I-T Department had initiated raids on 13 premises including Rao’s official residence in Chennai, his son, Vivek’s house in the city, and that of his relatives in Andhra Pradesh.

According to reports, the raids started at Rao’s Annanagar residence in Chennai for 24 hours, during which the tax officials recovered Rs 30 lakh in new Rs 2,000 notes, five kilogrammes of gold and documents with details of undisclosed assets worth about Rs 5 crore, The Indian Express said.

Reports also said that the raid was conducted based on information received from some road contractors who were detained for questioning based on previous raids. Rao was appointed chief secretary in June this year.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 13:00 IST

TN chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao raided: Here are the major I-T raids since demonetisation

It has been more than a month since the Narendra Modi government decided to demonetise high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and even though queues outside banks and ATMs might have shortened from how they used to be, income tax officials have been busy with several high-profile seizures of cash and gold. Some of the seizures reflect poorly on the government — in a few instances new currency notes were seized as well which in turn raises questions about the BJP government’s decision.

Since 8 November, the Income Tax department has detected Over Rs 3,185 crore of undisclosed income, while seizing Rs 86 crore worth of new notes, as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders. Official sources said the taxman carried out a total of 677 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on 8 November, even as the department has issued over 3,100 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The I-T department, they said, has also seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 428 crore during the same period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency has also referred over 220 cases to its sister agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate.

Here are some of the biggest raids conducted by tax sleuths since the high-profile cleanup of the Indian economy began:

Kolkata businessman raided

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18. According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary, his son under taxmen scanner

The house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

On Thursday, tax sleuths raided his son, Vivek Rao’s office in Chennai. Sources told NDTV that the taxmen are probing the source of funding for the six companies that Rao established in 2012.

Continuing raids in Chennai

On 20 November, taxmen raided the premises of a prominent engineering college after reports arose of the owner depositing Rs eight crore in unaccounted cash in the accounts of employees. IT officials later found that the amount was deposited in over 400 bank accounts.

According to The Indian Express, on 8 December, the IT department busted a money exchange racket in the Tamil Nadu capital, seizing Rs 90 crore in cash, of which 70 crore were in new notes, along with 100 kgs of gold.

The Income Tax officials on Monday seized demonetised currency notes worth Rs 10 crore and a few kilogrammes of diamond and gold jewellery during a raid in the house and showroom of a jeweller in Chennai.

BJP leader arrested with new notes

On 6 December, the Special Task Force arrested former West Bengal BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, after Rs 33 Lakh in form of Rs 2,000 notes was confiscated from him.

New notes found in ‘secret chamber’

In a surprise raid at a hawala operator’s residence in Hubballi led to the Karnataka and Goa taxmen unearthing Rs 5.7 crore in new cash, The Times of India reported. The stash of new cash, interestingly, was found in a secret chamber in the bathroom.

Post note ban Rs 30 crore seized in Maharashtra excluding Mumbai

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Income Tax department seized about Rs 30 crore in cash, including Rs 12.32 crore in new bills, from Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai.

The cash was seized during 57 surveys and search operation carried out since the decommissioning of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, I-T department said in a release in Mumbai.

CBI raid at Hyderabad post offices

The CBI conducted surprise raids after the note ban. During one such search at the Himayatnagar Post office, the invetigation agency found Rs 40 lakh. The raid took place on reports of irregularites in phasing out of old currency notes.

Bahubali producer raided in Hyderabad

The IT department raided the residences and offices of the producers of the multi-lingual blockbuster Bahubali, Business Standard reported. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the two producers, were at the recieving end of the taxmen, as Rs 60 crore worth of new notes were found during the raids.

G Janardhan reddy under IT scanner

On 21 November, within days after G Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s lavish wedding grabbed headlines for its splendour, Income Tax Department raided the mining baron’s offices in Bellari.

A team of five I-T Department officials raided the former BJP lawmaker’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) offices.

NGO linked to Pakistan singer raided

On November 18, Delhi police and the IT department raided the offices of a NGO, Routes of Roots, run by the managers of eminent Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, after it recieved reports of illegal conversion of black money.

IT raids in Chandigarh college

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday seized Rs 50 lakh cash, including Rs 46.80 lakh in new notes, after raids at the premises of an educational institute’s owner. Acting on a tip-off, the ED sleuths swooped down on the premises of the owner of Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes in Chandigarh.

Over two crores seized from Meerut engineer

Cash worth more than Rs 2.67 crore in both old and new notes, and 30 kilograms of silver were seized from an engineer, working in the irrigation department, by the Income tax sleuths on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 12:56 IST

Tamil Nadu: Day after IT raids, Rao dropped, Girija Vaidyanathan appointed as new Chief Secretary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the Income tax department conducted raids, Tamil Nadu government on Thursday appointed Girija Vaidyanathan as the new Chief Secretary in place of P Rama Mohana Rao.”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.In perhaps the first case of a top bureaucrat being raided, the house and office of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials and recovered Rs 48 lakh cash in new notesThe IT action came in connection with a case related to the biggest cash haul of new notes post demonetization after the department raided some sand mining operators of Tamil Nadu here.The search locations included the residence of Rao, his kin and associates, besides his chamber at the Secretariat.

Curtain Call 2016: Tamil Nadu ends year grieving for their ‘Amma’ J Jayalalithaa

Chennai: 2016 ended as a year of grief for people of Tamil Nadu who lost their popular leader J Jayalalithaa, who had only seven months ago led her party to a comprehensive successive second victory in the Assembly polls.

Cyclone Vardah hitting hard and a series of protests and sporadic violence on the Cauvery issue stretching over a month were among the other key events that the state witnessed this year. As the ruling AIADMK is trying to find its feet in both party affairs and governance with the passing away of Jayalalithaa, main Opposition DMK is on a wait-and-watch mode though it continues to take up key issues like Cauvery and Jallikattu to keep the political pot boiling. DMK treasurer MK Stalin became the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly for the first time, and his party won 89 seats.

Cyclone Vardah hit the state was like deja vu, reminding the sufferings of 2015’s heavy rains during the corresponding period. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release Rs 22,573 crore as cyclone aid. Jayalalithaa swung into action from day one after being sworn in May as chief minister for the sixth time by implementing a slew of measures. Waiver of crop loans for farmers, increase in gold allocation for women beneficiaries and closure of 500 Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) liquor outlets were among the measures aimed at fulfilling her electoral promises.

File image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFPFile image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

File image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

Ever since Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation on 22 September, till her passing away on 5 December, the state remained on tenterhooks with medical bulletins appearing on and off on her health status. Mass prayers in places of worship across Tamil Nadu by AIADMK workers and supporters became a regular feature.

The entrance area to Apollo Hospital where she underwent treatment became a makeshift prayer ground and across the state, milk pot prayer processions and tonsuring of head by partymen were often seen. For DMK workers, repeated hospitalisation of its nonagenarian leader Karunanidhi due to illness caused anxiety though he is now on the path of recovery, according to Kauvery Hospital where he is getting treated.

With the passing away of Jayalalithaa, AIADMK leaders wanted her aide VK Sasikala to lead the party, with more functionaries voicing their support to her to ascend the seat of governance as chief minister as well. Though Tamil Nadu’s legal battle to get Cauvery waters for standing crops continues, the issue witnessed a series of heightened protests and sporadic violence in the state during September and October.

Such protests, spanning several weeks, had an adverse impact on the common people especially in the districts bordering Karnataka including Krishnagiri. A bandh supported by farmers outfits and opposition parties was held and a cadre belonging to Nam Thamizhar Katchi died after setting himself ablaze.

People walking several kilometres from Hosur (Tamil Nadu) to reach Bengaluru, or to return to the state from Karnataka towns became everyday stories. As violence took a serious turn in September in Karnataka with the torching of 30 buses in Bengaluru of a private operator from Tamil Nadu, the situation turned for worse. Bus services, truck transport got shut completely for weeks together and inter-state borders were even sealed.

Cauvery issue also gained much political traction during September and a divide erupted among political parties over it. Though Jayalalithaa had already resumed the legal battle in Supreme Court for Cauvery waters before being admitted to hospital on 22 September, the issue was taken up in a big way by main opposition DMK to target the AIADMK regime. Weeks preceding the November polls, the DMK stepped up pressure on the government to convene a special House session and convene an-all party meeting and held a rally on the issue in Tamil Nadu’s hub of Cauvery delta at Thanjavur.

Later, it held an “all-party meeting” which drew flak from ruling AIADMK and other parties like BJP. Leading to a further divide among parties on Cauvery issue, while DMK MPs separately called on President Pranab Mukherjee, AIADMK MPs marched to the Prime Minister’s Office and submitted a memorandum seeking action.

Comparatively, though Opposition parties gave lesser attention to by-polls as only ruling parties have won in such polls in Tamil Nadu in the past decades, DMK took the polls for Thanjavur and Aravakkurichi and the bypoll to Thirupparankundram quite seriously. DMK treasurer Stalin extensively toured all the poll bound areas and taunted the ruling regime with his pet “the government is non-functional” barb.

The ruling party won comfortably in all the three constituencies. With Tamil Nadu government deciding to implement the Food Security Act, it was cited by DMK treasurer Stalin as beginning of an “U-turn” by Tamil Nadu government in view of the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa. He said such schemes which were opposed vehemently by Jayalalithaa were now allegedly being given concurrence by the state government after her hospitalisation. He even accused the Centre of “intimidating” the state over such issues.

In August, a train heist stunned Tamil Nadu in which Rs 5.78 crore was stolen by breaking open the roof of a parcel van attached to the Salem-Chennai Express. In October, two of the SIMI activists wanted by Tamil Nadu police in connection with the 2014 May train blast case in Chennai (in which a techie was killed) were among the eight killed in an encounter in Bhopal bringing curtains down in the two-year-old case.

Arrest of Dawood Suleiman, the kingpin behind the al Qaeda inspired module “Base Movement” responsible for blasts in court complexes in South India and his associates including N Abbas Ali of Madurai was a major breakthrough for the NIA in Tamil Nadu.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 11:43 IST

Tamil Nadu: Rama Mohan Rao sacked, Girija Vaidyanathan appointed as new chief secretary

Tamil Nadu’s chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was sacked from his post on Thursday following Income Tax Department’s raids on his official residence in Chennai. He has been replaced by Girija Vaidyanathan, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1981 batch

The post Tamil Nadu: Rama Mohan Rao sacked, Girija Vaidyanathan appointed as new chief secretary appeared first on Firstpost.

Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary in I-T net, dept recovers Rs 48 lakh in new currency notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was surprised by Income-Tax (I-T) officials who stormed into his residence, 17/184, Anna Nagar, at 5.30 am on Wednesday, seizing a massive amount of black money and gold. Speaking to DNA, sources said that the search of Rao’s home unearthed an estimated Rs 18 lakh in cash and gold bars. Investigators have so far recovered Rs 48 lakh in new currency notes and 17 kg gold from the premises of Rao and his relatives.Investigating sources said that the powerful and well connected bureaucrat of the 1985 batch was thick with sand-mining baron and PWD contractor Sekar Reddy, whose home has also been recently raided by the I-T, the CBI and the ED. I-T officials questioned Mohana Rao about the seized assets from the house of Sekar Reddy and their links.A team of about 100 tax sleuths, aided by a platoon (about 35 personnel) of the Central Reserve Police Force, raided at least 15 premises in the state and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh as part of the tax evasion probe.TurnSources said that the department has found Rao’s name on seized documents taken from Reddy’s home. Allegedly, Rao was indulging in the conversion of old notes into gold.About 100 tax officials are still raiding 13 places belonging to Rao, his son, relatives, and other associates in Chennai, Bengaluru, and Chittoor. The raids, top I-T sources said, were launched against Rao’s son Vivek Papisetty and his relatives.Around Rs 18 lakh in new notes and two gold bars of 1 kg each were seized from the premises of Papisetty’s father-in-law based in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh. I-T Department sources said on Wednesday that the raids had been going on in Badrinariyan’s house since 5.30 am. Badrinariyan is a close relative of Chittoor MLA DA Sathya Prabha, brother of former MP Adikesavulu. I-T officials also said that the raids are also linked to a tax evasion investigation against Rao’s son Vikram Rao. Earlier this month, taxmen had found over 100 kg of gold, Rs 96 crore in banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and Rs 34 crore in new currency notes in raids at the homes of three Tamil Nadu businessmen, one of whom, J Shekar Reddy, allegedly has business links with the chief secretary’s son.Rao is one of Tamil Nadu’s most powerful bureaucrats. He is said to have played a key role in J Jayalalithaa’s companion Sasikala Natarajan coming to the forefront of politics in the state after the former chief minister died in hospital earlier this month.Meanwhile, sand mining baron Reddy was arrested on Wednesday. This comes a day after the ED registered a case against him and his associates on Tuesday. A CBI official said a case against the accused has been registered.Reddy was taken into custody after several hours of questioning by the CBI and has been sent to custody till January 3, 2017.Reddy’s arrest made headlines after I-T searches at his residence and office resulted in the seizure of Rs 131 crore and 127 kg of gold. The Rs 131 crore included newly introduced notes of Rs 2,000 worth Rs 34 crore (seized on two different occasions) besides 127 kg of gold found from him and his associates Srinivasa Reddy and Prem Kumar, whose homes were also raided.

Demonetization: Mamata dares PM Modi to ‘arrest her’, BJP dubs her ‘queen of corruption’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ramping up her voice against the Centre, Mamata Banerjee looked to strike an emotional pitch as she asked the Centre to ‘arrest her’. She said at a public meeting: “You (PM Modi) don’t have to touch anybody. You arrest me. I challenge you, if you have the guts you arrest all of us, nothing will deter us from raising out voice against demonetisation. Demonetisation is a big scam. We want to know what is the deal. We will say it thousand times.””We must win the battle as people are with us. As long as I live, I shall fight alone if required,” she said. Meanwhile, the BJP hit back by dubbing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as “queen of corruption” after she criticised the I-T raid at the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary’s residence, BJP alleged that the TMC supremo was not interested in fighting corruption but shielding it and asked her to not undermine the process of law.Taking a dig at her, BJP National Secretary and the state’s co-incharge Sidharth Nath Singh said the TMC chief seemed too “worried” and wondered if she wanted to shield her own officer as he raked up corruption cases involving TMC leaders.Singh also accused her of “misleading” the people by referring to only non-BJP ruled states where Central agencies had acted against officers, noting that a senior Rajasthan officer, where BJP is in power, was acted against by CBI as well.”She is queen of corruption. She needs to answer on Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley scams. She is trying to undermine the process of law by politicising the I-T raid.Being in the constitutional process, she should understand the law. She is not interested in fighting corruption but is shielding it,” he told reporters.Banerjee today 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.The Income Tax Department today carried out searches at over dozen places in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh against the son and some relatives of P Rama Mohana Rao during which they claimed to have seized Rs 18 lakh cash and gold bars.The I-T action was conducted in connection with the case related to biggest cash haul of new notes post demonetisation after the department raided some sand mining operators of Tamil Nadu here.Asked about her comments as to why such raids were not being carried out against BJP chief Amit Shah, Singh said such a “irrelevant” question coming from the “queen of corruption” did not merit a reply.With inputs from agencies

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

Raid at TN Chief Secretary’s residence: ‘Why not Amit Shah?’ asks Mamata, questions ‘vindictive’ & ‘unethical’ action

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday hit out at the government after the Income Tax (I-T) department raided the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao and questioned why they don’t raid Amit Shah and others who were collecting money.The I-T department conducted searches at over a dozen locations in connection with its tax evasion probe against the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary’s son and a few other relatives. The searches that began as early as 6 AM are on at various places in the state and in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.The searches, they said, are related to the department’s probe in the biggest haul of cash and gold here post demonetization, in which over Rs 142 crore in unaccounted assets have been recovered so far.The total seizure is over Rs 170 crore in a single case related to action against sand mining operators in the state and few others including S Reddy, who was also on the panel of a religious shrine body.In a series of tweets, Mamata said, “Earlier the Principal Secretary of @ArvindKejriwal was raided and harassed. Now I read Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu also raided. Why this vindictive, unethical, technically improper action? Is it only to disturb the federal structure?”Stating that corruption needs to be condemned strongly, she added, “Raid on TN Chief Secretary by the Central agencies devalues institution of head of civil service.””The proper procedure should have been to take the State leadership into confidence,” she added.(With agency inputs)

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

I-T dept raids Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Rama Mohana Rao’s residence

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Income Tax Department raided the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Rama Mohana Rao on Wednesday morning, reported ANI.Raids were conducted at Rao’s residence in Anna Nagar. The Chief Secretary was reportedly under scanner.Rao, a 1985-batch IAS officer, was appointed as Chief Secretary by the Tamil Nadu government in June 2016.More details are awaited.

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.

Restore India’s sovereignty on Katchatheevu to aid fishermen: Tamil Nadu CM to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send a “firm message” to Sri Lanka over continued apprehension of the state’s fishermen and said a permanent solution would be in restoring India’s sovereignty over Katchatheevu islet.Citing reports of arrest of seven fishermen and seizure of their two mechanised fishing boats, Panneerselvam in a letter to the PM said the boats and fishermen were reportedly taken to Karainagar in Sri Lanka and were remanded in custody.The apprehension of fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy continues “unabated” despite Indo-Sri Lankan fishermen level talks and Inter-Ministerial talks being held from time to time, he said. “It is the consistent stand of the government of Tamil Nadu that a permanent solution to this vexatious problem faced by our fishermen will be possible only by restoring India’s sovereignty over Katchatheevu by securing the right to fish in traditional waters,” he said.
ALSO READ Seven Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan NavyThe right of the fishermen is continuously infringed upon by the Sri Lankan’s Navy “recurrent” actions of apprehension, the Chief minister said.Demanding that the Centre send a firm message to Sri Lanka on the issue, he said 109 boats, including the two boats apprehended on Tuesday, should be released by the island nation. “The Sri Lankan strategy of not releasing boats of our fishermen is causing great frustration among the fishermen of Tamil Nadu. Without their livelihood base, fishermen are in a state of despondency,” he said.Panneerselvam requested Modi to direct the External Affairs Ministry to take up the matter with Sri Lankan authorities to ensure immediate release of 22 fishermen and 109 boats.The Chief Minister’s letter comes a day after he met PM Modi in New Delhi seeking Rs 22,573 crore for relief and restoration works in Chennai and neighbouring districts following the devastation caused by cyclone Vardah.

Cannot ban all ‘Sharia courts’ that have legal existence: Haji Ali petitioner

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Madras high Court put an end to the menace of illegal ‘Sharia courts’ functioning from various mosques across Tamil Nadu, the Haji Ali petitioner Noorjehan Safia Niaz on Tuesday cited a Supreme Court judgement which pronounced that one cannot ban all ‘Sharia courts’ that have a legal existence.”There is a Supreme Court judgement that says that you cannot ban all the Sharia courts that exist and have a legal existence. The Supreme Court has also said that any decision taken by the Sharia court will not be binding and they can be challenged in the regular court of law. But the fact that they are legal, the Supreme Court has already passed the judgment few years back,” Safia Niaz said.Directing the Tamil Nadu government to curb unauthorised ‘Sharia’ courts, the Madras High Court on Monday, declared all Sharia courts working out of mosques as illegal. The High Court made it clear that religious places are meant to be used only for religious purposes.The High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar also ordered the Tamil Nadu government to file a status report within four weeks regarding the same.

A small dot signalled IMD of severe cyclonic storm Vardah

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

Bharat Ratna for Jayalalithaa: TN CM Panneerselvam in Delhi to meet PM Modi today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to hand over a letter that would request the government to bestow the Bharat Ratna on former chief minister J Jayalalithaa and to install a bronze statue in the Parliament complex.The Tamil Nadu Cabinet had on December 10 decided to recommend Jayalalithaa’s name for India’s highest civilian honour.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 the Parliament complex.The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister will also relay the details of the damages caused by the Cyclone Vardah in the state.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.

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.

Cyclone Vardah: Central team to visit Tamil Nadu to assess cyclone damage

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

New Delhi: An inter-ministerial team, headed by a Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry, will visit Tamil Nadu next week to assess the damage caused by the massive 12 December cyclone. The team, headed Praveen Vashistha, Joint Secretary (LWE), in the Home Ministry, will be accompanied by senior officials of Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Rural Development, Industries, HRD etc., and visit different cyclone-hit districts of the state, official sources said.

The delegation will assess the damage caused by the cyclone to agriculture, industries, infrastructure and other sectors and submit its report to the central government. On the basis of the report, the central government will fix the compensation amount and provide financial assistance to the state concerned, sources said. At least 18 people were killed when cyclone Vardah hit Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on 12 December.

The cyclone, that triggered strong winds of nearly 100 kmph, uprooted hundreds of trees and disrupted power supply lines besides land and air transport, throwing normal life out of gear. Around 13,000 people had to take shelter in 100 different locations to escape the fury of the massive cyclone.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 15:47 IST

Cyclone Vardah relief: Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam to meet PM Modi

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTIFile image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

Chennai: Days after he urged the Centre to grant Rs 1000 Crore for cyclone relief operations in the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to press the demand.

He will also urge the Centre to posthumously confer “Bharat Ratna” on former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and also put up her life size bronze statue in Parliament complex, an official release said.

The first Cabinet meeting chaired by Panneerselvam on 10 December had adopted a resolution in which the twin matters of the highest civilian award and a statue for Jayalalithaa figured.

On 13 December, a day after the cyclone wrecked havoc in the state, Panneerselvam had urged Modi in a letter to sanction Rs 1,000 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund to the state for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Panneerselvam will also give a memorandum on several other demands of Tamil Nadu to the Prime Minister, the release said adding he will return to Chennai the same day. After he took over as Chief Minister on 6 December, it will be the first visit of Panneerselvam to the PM in Delhi and he is expected to follow up on the previous memorandums submitted to Modi by his predecessor Jayalalithaa.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 15:41 IST

Tamil Nadu fishermen chased away by Sri Lankan navy, fishing nets snapped

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fishing nets of 10 mechanised boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen were allegedly snapped by Sri Lankan naval personnel who also chased away nearly 3,000 fishers off Katchatheevu islet.The Lankan naval personnel cut the nets and chased away the fishermen on charges of entering their territorial waters yesterday, Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association president P Sesuraja said.The fishermen who had ventured into the sea from this island town in more than 600 boats were intercepted by the naval men, who also threatened to shoot them, he added.The fishermen returned to the shore this morning, he said.Sesuraja urged the Centre to act on Sri Lankan navy’s “atrocities” against Tamil Nadu fishermen.On December 15, more than 2,500 fishermen from here were forced to return without their catch after lankan navy personnel allegedly snapped the fishing nets of 50 mechanised boats off Katchatheevu.

Karunanidhi to be in hospital for ‘some more days’, DMK general council meeting postponed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> DMK on Saturday deferred its December 20 general council meeting where party treasurer M K Stalin was expected to be elevated as working president.Stalin’s elevation is on the cards as both party chief M Karunanidhi and veteran leader K Anbazhagan, who is also the party General Secretary, have not been keeping well lately. The general council meeting was postponed in view of the hospitalisation of Karunanidhi, Anbazhagan said. In a release, he said a new date for the general council meeting will be announced later. Another DMK headquarters release said Karunanidhi will be in the hospital for “some more days” to undergo treatment. The party asked party cadres and friends to avoid visiting him and “cooperate”. The party had made a similar appeal when Karunanidhi was admitted to the hospital for drug-induced allergy in October.The party also quoted Kauvery Hospital’s health bulletin yesterday which said Karunanidhi was stable having undergone the tracheostomy procedure. Although generally active, 92-year-old Karunanidhi was not keeping well in the recent past and he did not campaign in the November bypolls in Tamil Nadu though he hit the campaign trail for the May 2016 Assembly election. In the run up to the Assembly polls this year, the nonagenarian leader had said that he would be the chief minister if his party won the May 16 assembly election and his son M K Stalin has to wait “till nature does something to me”.In October, he however gave ample indication that Stalin was on his way to become the party chief. “From his prison days (during emergency, 1975-77) where he faced a lot of hardships, he has worked very hard and elevated himself systematically to the position of future president of DMK,” he had said. Also, Stalin’s supporters, for the past few years, have been impressing upon the party leadership to pass on the baton to their leader. Stalin is the leader of opposition in the Assembly and party Treasurer.

Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Shasikala’ plan catches AIADMK, Sasikala off guard

Coming soon to a theatre near you will be Shasikala. That is if filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s planned cinematic venture on the life and times of VK Sasikala, the trusted confidante of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa does not get dragged to the courts. Given the AIADMK’s penchant for intimidating opponents through legal battles, chances of Varma’s venture landing up in court are quite high.

Varma hopes to get around that rather simplistically. His central character is called Shasikala, not Sasikala. The extra ‘H’ is RGV’s fig leaf to claim this is his own story and a fictional character.

Sasikala.Sasikala.

Sasikala.

On Thursday, the day the AIADMK spokesperson announced that Sasikala will be the next general secretary of the party, Varma registered the title of the film. Explaining the rationale for making the film on Sasikala, Varma tweeted saying he respected Jayalalithaa but he respected Sasikala much more. “Jayalalithaa ji respected Sasikala ji much more than she respected anybody else proves why I should call my film Shasikala,” he tweeted.

“I find it fascinating that just a close confidante of a person in power can create so much turbulence in so many ways,” says Varma. The filmmaker claims he is essentially interested in Sasikala, the person. Varma who has just started writing the script says the film will deal with the period from the time Sasikala first met Jayalalithaa, till the former CM’s death.

“It will be the biography of Sasikala’s journey with Amma,” explains Varma. “I think Amma seen from the point of view of someone so close to her will be much more interesting.” He plans to speak to people who have known the 59-year-old Sasikala over the past four decades.

“This will be an outside interpretation of happenings on a public domain mixed with personal information from sources close to her, who may not wish to be named,” says Varma. As of now, RGV does not plan to seek permissions from anyone before shooting the film. The AIADMK taken by surprise by Varma’s move has not formulated its stand on the filmmaker’s decision, as it is preoccupied with more pressing matters of succession.

Through his career, Varma has shown a fascination with making movies on real life characters. His Company in 2002 was a take on the underworld war between Dawood Ibrahim and Chotta Rajan. His Rakta Charitra in 2010 is one of the best movies to capture the politics of blood and gore in Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema region.

More recently, Varma captured the life of forest brigand Veerappan. The movie received rave reviews for his lead character’s uncanny resemblance to the bandit and the stylish manner in which it was shot in the forests of Karnataka. Varma’s Telugu venture Vangaveeti which is based on the life of politician Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga and the violent gang warfare and politics of Vijayawada in the 70s and the 80s in Andhra Pradesh will release on 23 December. Varma who himself grew up in Vijayawada and has experienced the turbulence firsthand has said that making a film on the controversial politician was his dream project. Like Veerappan’s wife who went to court against the movie, Ranga’s family has also raised objections to Vangaveeti.

“Real life stories are fascinating because they deal with real emotions and hence the connect is much more,” says Varma, explaining his obsession with people rooted in present-day politics and conflicts.

Interestingly, both Sasikala and Ram Gopal Varma have one thing in common. Both have been video library owners, back in the era when video cassettes were a rage.

The last big budget movie made on the life and times of Dravidian politicians was Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar in 1997, in which Mohanlal played MGR. Jayalalithaa’s role was essayed by Aishwarya Rai while Prakash Raj played Karunanidhi. Varma is undecided if Shasikala will be only in Tamil or will have a Telugu and Hindi version as well.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 16:06 IST

Tamil Nadu: Opposition parties demand ‘white paper’ on treatment given to Jayalalalithaa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As controversy surrounds over the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalalithaa, opposition DMK and PMK demanded a ‘white paper’ on the medical treatment given to the leader on Thursday as they said “there were apprehensions among the public and party supporters on the matter.”DMK Treasurer and Opposition Leader MK Stalin and PMK founder S Ramadoss made demands in this regard. “The Tamil Nadu government should release a white paper on the treatment given to former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. Since AIIMS doctors had also treated her, the treatment details should be informed to public by the Centre,” Stalin said.He added that neither he nor his party wanted to “politicise” the matter. “Jayalalithaa was not on an ordinary person but the Chief Minister. Even during her hospitalisation, parties including DMK sought publicising of information on her treatment,” he told reporters.Stalin recalled that in the past when former chief ministers like late CN Annadurai and MG Ramachandran, were hospitalised, the then Health ministers in the respective cabinets used to come up with periodic updates on their health status. However, no statement was released by the government or the Tamil Nadu Health minister when Jayalalithaa was hospitalised. Only Apollo Hospitals, where she was admitted, issued medical bulletins, he stated.Expressing grief over the AIADMK leader’s death, Stalin said, “There are various reports about the treatment given to the former chief minister,” and referred to the demand by PMK founder S Ramadoss, who also sought a white paper on the matter. “There are doubts among many people about the death of the (former) chief minister. To completely dispel them, a white paper should be published as demanded by Ramadoss,” he said.Ramadoss, on his part, said there were “apprehensions” among the public and AIADMK workers over the treatment given to Jayalalithaa as well as her death. “To dispel them, the state government should immediately release a white paper detailing the medical treatment given to Jayalalithaa,” he said.

Cyclone Vardah rips through Chennai: City’s poor green record is a concern

The new Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam seems to be too modest — for the devastation of cyclone Vardah, he has asked the Centre for only Rs 1000 crore. Had it been Jayalalithaa, it would have been at least ten times as much.

In fact, that was the opposition leader MK Stalin’s instant ballpark estimate. Trade body Assocham has put it at Rs 6500 crore. An estimate is an estimate and nobody knows how all the losses add up, and for how long, because every aspect of life and business has been disrupted. Even on the third day, many parts of the city are struggling without power and communications.

A tree uprooted in T Nagar Chennai. Firstpost/Pramod Kumar

A tree uprooted in T Nagar Chennai. Firstpost/Pramod Kumar

Ten thousand electric posts and 800 transformers going down doesn’t summarise the damage because it could cascade down quite a bit. Most of the mobile phones went dead and even the BSNL lines, that depend on underground cables, were disrupted. Demonetised souls couldn’t eat because their digital fantasy wouldn’t work.

However, the biggest loss to Chennai is the loss of its precious green cover. As the The Hindu reported quoting a senior revenue official, about 10,000 trees have been uprooted and 75 per cent of them are in Chennai. In another report quoting workers on the field, the same newspaper said that the number of uprooted trees could exceed one lakh. This is in fact the most visible loss as well because what’s more visibly overwhelming and widespread than the mangled electric posts, tattered cables and the general raggedness, are uprooted trees.

All that one could see in the pitch dark city after the cyclone left the coast of Tamil Nadu, or rather Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, on Monday evening were uprooted trees. Every neighbourhood and every street was covered by trees felled by the strong wind. The roads became unmotorable with ripped-out trees blocking them every few meters. Famous classical musician Sanjay Subramanyan tweeted the photo of a 40-year old neem tree that came down next to his house.

Uprooted trees topped the social media images of the impact of the cyclone. Although the workforce of the government, that ran to a few thousand, managed to move them aside to make the roads partly usable on Tuesday, they are still lying on either side of the roads. The next big headache for the civic authorities and the government is to find a place to dump them. Reportedly, they would be kept in the city playgrounds for the time being. The volume is too big to be transported to the municipal corporation’s dump yards. For a city that’s short on water and known for its intense summer, this is a tragedy because trees are its hard-gained treasure of a lifetime. Despite the adverse conditions, many parts of the city – mostly the traditional residential areas – have impressive canopies, tree-lined avenues and impeccably green parks. In fact, these patches held up even when it was losing its green cover to infrastructural development. Reportedly, in the last four years, Chennai lost about 10,000 acres of green cover although the state as a whole improved its record. In fact all the three cyclone-hit districts showed depleting green cover in the last satellite-based forest survey of India. In the light of this poor record, the impact of Vardah is a double whammy. Probably, it’s already showing on satellite images. Two of the most beautiful campuses in Chennai in terms of its green cover — the IIT and Madras Christian College (MCC) — have reported widespread uprooting of trees. A resident of the MCC said the college campus now looks like a warzone and the sight is heartbreaking because many of the trees were very old.

The only redeemable part of the tragedy is that some of the damage might be partial because what came down in a limited number of cases are the tree-branches that could grow back in a couple of years.

Since economic liberalisation, Chennai had ‘developed’ itself to be the city with the worst green cover in India. Even a highly polluted Delhi has three times more green cover. As this report explained in 2011 in some parts of Chennai, it lost about 99 percent of the green cover between 1997 and 2011.

If the city doesn’t repair the damage, the consequences are going to be grave because even during the disastrous floods last year, the reasons cited for the excessive rains and flooding included localised heat caused by increasing concrete and poor surface rundown that good green cover would have abated. Besides regular infrastructure, even utilities — roads, electric lines and sewers — come into conflict with trees and the narrowing roads allow very limited avenues for planting new ones although various research studies have proposed specific ideas for increasing the green cover.

The minimum that the three agencies responsible for green cover in the city — the Chennai Corporation, the forestry department and the highways department — can do is to compensate for the loss caused by Vardah. It’s also an opportunity to do something more — dust the proposals of various researchers, civil society organisations and agencies on how to make the city greener.

Unfortunately, it will still look too brown compared to other big cities in India.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 08:09 IST

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

Calcutta, Madras, Bombay High Courts to retain their names in the near future

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The names of iconic high courts of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay may not be changed in the near future as a bill moved in this regard has run into trouble and the revised one has to be introduced in Parliament. The High Court (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 19 to allow the names of the Calcutta, Madras and Bombay High Courts to be changed to Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai respectively.But, now the Tamil Nadu government has asked the Centre to rename the Madras High Court as ‘High Court of Tamil Nadu’ instead of ‘High Court of Chennai’ as proposed in the bill. While the West Bengal government wants the Calcutta High Court to be renamed as Kolkata High Court, the high court itself “not agreed for revised nomenclature.” Minister of State for Law PP Chaudhary said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that the old bill will have to revised and a new bill will have to be introduced.”The central government has sought views from the concerned state governments and the respective high courts for finalising fresh bill. No time frame can be fixed for finalising of the fresh bill and its introduction in Parliament,” he said.The Calcutta High Court has the distinction of being the first high court and one of the three chartered high courts to be set up in India, along with the high courts of Bombay, Madras. It was formally opened on July 1, 1862. ‘Indian High Court Act’ of 1861 vested in the Queen of England to issue letters patent to establish high courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.The Bombay High Court was inaugurated on August 14, 1862. The high court today has three benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa. Bombay HC is one of a few institutions in Maharashtra that continue to carry the old name of the city. The state government renamed Bombay as Mumbai in 1995 and all institutions under it altered names accordingly.The Madras High Court, which came into being around the same time, has one bench in Madurai.

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 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: O Panneerselvam survives the storm with the right political optics

In his first week as third time chief minister, O Panneerselvam has impressed. It helped that expectations from him were very low. For a government known for its opacity, the fact that the AIADMK dispensation found a voice and communicated effectively in the run-up to Cyclone Vardah and through it, was commendable. All forms of social media were extensively used to ensure the messaging reached far and wide.

Once it was clear that the cyclone was headed towards north of Chennai and not between Kakinada and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh as it was initially predicted, work on warning people began 24 hours before 12 December. The first advisory asked people to stay indoors. Experience in other cities like Hyderabad during the 2016 floods and Visakhapatnam during the 2014 ‘Cyclone Hudhud’ has shown human misery can be minimised to a great extent by ensuring citizens did not venture outdoors. It was also ensured that those living in the low-lying areas were moved to safer locations and vigil posted on the Marina to keep an eye on any fishermen who tried to venture into the sea.

Area-wise groups were created on Whatsapp by the Chennai police, the city corporation and even some MLAs to disseminate information on real time basis. The Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority used its Twitter handle to keep a two-way communication going, informing people about the movement of Cyclone Vardah and asking people to send information about blockades and uprooting of trees in their areas. Electricity minister Thangamani was giving updates on when power will be restored in Chennai. Amma Canteens were kept open to serve food, free of cost.

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTIFile image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

The Tamil Nadu Public Relations department also was putting out information about what its ministers and bureaucrats were doing to tackle the devastation caused by the cyclone. Photographs of Panneerselvam at review meetings and distributing relief material were shared. As did the AIADMK twitter handle, which focused on reaching out to people in distress rather than scoring political brownie points.

Disaster management expert WG Prasanna Kumar says the government’s response was effective. “Northeast monsoon increasingly throws these challenges. Regular preparatory drill is a must. Chennai, in the long run, needs effective community-based disaster risk reduction management system where local communities along with local bodies should be able to alert and support each other,” says Prasanna Kumar.

Contrast this with December last year, when Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs. Barring the Chennai municipal commissioner who was drafted to be the face of the government and defend it, the political administration was clueless and completely absent. AIADMK spokespersons tried every trick in the book to ensure the buck did not stop with Poes Garden, even suggesting that it was because of Amma that Chennai was not devastated.

The distribution of relief material was largely a private affair, with several citizens including film stars, pitching in as volunteers. But overenthusiastic AIADMK cadre stopped several vehicles carrying relief material and allegedly pasted photographs of Jayalalithaa on the packets containing food, water, medicines, blankets and so on. That left a bad taste in the mouth.

AIADMK paid the price for this crass behaviour. In several localities of Chennai, the anger against the AIADMK representatives was so much they many were booed away after they made an appearance after the waters had receded. The people of Chennai showed their anger on the EVM in May this year, when 10 of the 16 AIADMK candidates in the Chennai constituencies lost.

But it is not as if the response to Cyclone Vardah was perfect. The AIADMK leadership was still in mourning after former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s demise on 5 December. And till Saturday, it was obsessed more with requesting Sasikala to take over the reins of the party as the next general secretary.

Chennai-based social activist Chandramohan points out that the city would not have lost more than 500 trees if the Corporation had planned for a stormy and wet December. “Common sense would suggest that when a cyclone approaches with over 100 kilometres per hour speed, the best way to deal with it is by trimming as many trees as you can so they do not get uprooted in the manner so many have in Chennai,” says Chandramohan.

Given that the cyclones frequently ravage the Andhra and Tamil Nadu coast, Vishakhapatnam and its experience with Cyclone Hudhud should be a template. A centralised control room that branches out to disseminate information to people, media and other agencies is critical to keep losses to the minimum. It will take several years for Chennai to replace the kind of green cover it has lost to Cyclone Vardah. Fortunately, human loss was kept low, unlike last December, when over 500 people were killed.

The sight of Chennai airport going under water each time the city faces rain fury is terrible advertisement for a metropolis. It urgently needs to ensure against flooding of the runway so that unless visibility is very low, the airport can still be operational. Last December saw Chennai airport cut off for close to a week, this year, the closure will be for a shorter period.

Chennai on Tuesday morning is picking up the pieces. It is a city ravaged with streets lined with uprooted trees, smashed cars, broken windowpanes and blown away hoardings. Life will return to normal soon but hopefully it has learnt its lessons and will better its response the next time a system in the Indian Ocean decides to test it.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 12:31 IST

Accident deaths: Tamil Nadu roads get dubious repute

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With as many as 717 fatalities in 11 ‘black spots’ or accident-prone stretches from 2011-14, Tamil Nadu accounts for the maximum number of road accident fatalities on national highways, with Meghalaya in the second position and Uttar Pradesh third.While Tamil Nadu is the country’s most unsafe state in this category, Meghalaya reported 222 deaths in just three black spots and UP 146 fatalities across five black spots, reveals data from the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways. However, the maximum fatalities seen in a single black spot remains the Nonthymmai area in the east Khasi Hills at NH 44 of Meghalaya, with 89 fatalities.Data on black spots for 2015 is still being compiled, an official said. Inputs had to be invited twice over after some discrepancies in data sent by the states was spotted the first time, he explained.According to the data, accessed by DNA, five of Tamil Nadu’s black spots were in Kancheepuram and they led to 305 fatalities in the four years from 2011-14. Villupuram district, with 30 fatalities across four such accident-prone stretches, was number two.The three states — Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh – account for the top 20 black spots of the 789 identified in terms of fatalities. Tamil Nadu has 102 identified black spots, while Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh have reported eight and 104 black spots, respectively.Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, with 86 black spots, are actively working to make their highways safer by putting adequate signages and improving road design in the risk-prone stretches. Other states, in comparison, are lagging behind, an official said.”Despite repeated reminders, only 50 per cent states have set up a dedicated road safety engineering cell,” he said. Only 19 states have submitted their road safety action plan, a draft of which was sent to the states in 2013 by the government.While some of these black spots come under the jurisdiction of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), some are also on state roads that fall under state governments. A fund of Rs 600 crore has been earmarked for road safety engineering works by the government; of this, Rs 12 crore has been sanctioned for the rectification of six black spots.India has the highest number of road fatalities in the world with road accidents claiming more than 1.4 lakh lives every year, according to government reports. The ministry hopes to reduce the number of road- accident deaths by half in the next four year, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said at a road safety engineering workshop here recently.Status updateOf 789 black spots, 100 have already been improved and 214 come under ongoing road-widening projects. Survey investigations are on or proposals are under consideration in the case of another 125, sources said.

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.

Cyclone Vardah batters south India coast killing four | Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Precautions taken for safety of Kalpakkam nuclear power plant: NDMA

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

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.

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

Dec 12, 2016

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

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

Cyclone Vardah over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

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

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

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

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

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 11:16 IST

Cyclone Vardah: Storm moves further, expected to make landfall near Chennai

Chennai: Chennai and its suburbs continue to receive rains since Sunday night with severe cyclonic storm set to cross close to the coast here on Monday afternoon, said weather department.

According to the meteorological department, the cyclonic storm Vardah over Bay of Bengal moved further at a speed of around 13 kmph.

It lay centred over west-central and adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal about 150 km east-northeast of Chennai and 290 km east-southeast of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, the weather department said.

“The system is very likely to move nearly westwards and cross north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts, close to Chennai with a wind speed of 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph by Monday afternoon,” a bulletin issued by meteorological department said.

IMD_1IMD_1

The MET department has predicted rainfall over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over the next 36 hours (till Wednesday).

The rainfall intensity would increase gradually becoming heavy to very heavy rainfall (7-19 cm) at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (less than equal to 20 cm) over Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh on December 12.

The weather department has warned of squally winds speed reaching 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph along and off Andhra Pradesh and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coasts becoming 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph during the time of landfall along and off Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh.

The 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.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government has taken necessary steps and precautions to meet the situation that may arise due to the cyclone.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Sunday reviewed the preparedness with ministers and officials.

District administrations and all field officers were put on high alert.

Similarly Army, Navy, Air-force and Coast Guard were also geared up to lend a helping hand when required.

The government declared a holiday for all government, government-aided private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur districts.

The Tamil Nadu government has also advised private sector organisations to allow their workers to avail holiday or work from home.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 10:04 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

South India’s Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on cyclone alert

Southern India is put on alert as the weather office predicts that a cyclone will hit two states.

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: 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.

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

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

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

Eight Tamil Nadu fishermen injured in attack by Sri Lankan navy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight Tamil Nadu fishermen were injured when they were allegedly attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy for fishing in their territorial waters.”Eight fishermen from Pudukottai district were fishing off Neduntheevu on Saturday evening when the Lankan naval personnel attacked them using iron rods and wires before chasing them away,” Fisheries department Joint Director Sekar said.The injured fishermen are being treated at the government hospital at Manalmelkudi in that district.In another incident, more than 2500 fishermen from this island town were forced to return without their catch after they were allegedly chased away by the Lankan Navy for fishing off Katchatheevu, yesterday.”The naval personnel allegedly pelted stones and snapped the nets of nearly 30 boats forcing the fishermen to flee and return to the shore this morning,” Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association President P Sesuraja said.”The fishermen had ventured into the sea in more than 600 boats last evening and were fishing off Katchatheevu when they were attacked,” he added.

TN Cabinet recommends life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex, Bharat Ratna for Jayalalithaa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Cabinet decided on Saturday 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. “A resolution was adopted in the Cabinet to recommend to the Centre to award Bharat Ratna to honourable Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa,” an official statement detailing the decision taken in Saturday’s meeting said.Further, the Council of Ministers resolved to urge the Centre to install her bronze statue in the Parliament complex, and proposed to raise a memorial building for the deceased leader at the MG Ramachandran (MGR) Memorial site, where she was laid to rest on Tuesday at an estimated cost of Rs 15 crore. The Cabinet further resolved to rename the memorial as Dr Puratchi Thalaivar MGR and Puratchi Thalaivi Amma Selvi J Jayalalithaa Memorial, it added.The Cabinet also proposed to unveil a portrait of the leader in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. Panneerselvam also had a small portrait of his predecessor on his desk.
ALSO READ Cauvery row: ‘Jayalalithaa’s efforts have been rewarded by SC,’ says TN PWD Principal SecretaryThe Cabinet adopted a resolution condoling Jayalalithaa’s death. It said the 68 year-old leader had dedicated her life for the betterment of the people of Tamil Nadu, and help the state take giant strides in sectors like social welfare, education and growth.She was fondly addressed as ‘Amma’ (Mother), it said. Tracing her life from her being born to Sandhya-Jayaram in 1948, it said Jayalalithaa grew to be a bright student in school and excelled in arts like music and dance. It also recalled her successful film career, her skills of speaking several languages and also hailed her as a voracious reader.
ALSO READ Did Jayalalithaa leave behind a will? AIADMK has no answersShe had made her political entry in 1982 under the tutelage of M G Ramachandran and her speech at the Cuddalore public meeting was indicative of her successful political career, it said. She was even lauded by former prime minister Indira Gandhi for her speeches in Rajya Sabha on issues including internal security, it said.She was an “unparalleled leader” in the sense that she was AIADMK General Secretary for 28 of her 35 years of public service, a seven-time MLA and leading the party to many victories including the 2011 and 2016 assembly polls and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it said.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa’s death: AIADMK says 280 people have died of grief, shockShe overcame many challenges presented by rivals and had ruled the state with the sole motive of people’s welfare, it added. The Cabinet said Jayalalithaa had donated gold jewelleries she was wearing to then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.The Cabinet also hailed her active contribution on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, including batting for a separate Tamil homeland of Eelam and moving a resolution in the Assembly. It also referred to her various populist measures like free rice and said it had benefited people immensely.She had also brought the 69% reservation for OBC, it said. “We promise to work in the path laid down by Amma who is now watching us perform” from Marina where she was buried, the Ministers said, condoling her death. Earlier, Panneerselvam and other Ministers paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa’s portrait and then held the meeting.

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

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

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