Sunday, October 19, 2014

PIL Against AP Govt's Loan Waiver Scheme

HYDERABAD: A public interest litigation was filed in the Hyderabad High Court challenging the order issued by the Andhra Pradesh government to waive off the agriculture crop loans and gold loans availed by the farming community.

Petitioner ‘Lokseva’, a society represented by its president M Srinivas Reddy of Ranga Reddy district, submitted that the government’s decision, vide GO 174 dated August 14, 2014, to apply loan waiver scheme to the whole state irrespective of financial status of the people to repay the loan amount would end up crippling the agricultural credit system. The government needs to rethink its decision and instead consider a relief package for the distressed farmers. The funds needed to such a scheme would be in excess of Rs 42,000 crore.

Ministry of finance, Reserve Bank of India, chief secretary to AP government, TDP, YSR Congress and others were named as the respondents. The PIL is expected to come up for hearing on Monday.

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New Chief for Red Cross Krishna Unit

VIJAYAWADA: The general body of the Krishna district unit of the Red Cross Society, at its meeting here Saturday unanimously elected Dr A Sridhar Reddy as its president.

Addressing the meeting after his election, Dr Sridhar Reddy gave a detailed account of various service activities organised by the Red Cross in the past two years. He said that the Red Cross had been in the forefront of serving and helping people in times of calamities and will also take up activities on a large scale to help the victims of Hudhud in north Coastal Andhra.

The new chairman donated Rs 1 lakh for Hudhud victims. He said that Dr Achayya of Malaysia Telugu Sangham donated Rs 4 lakh.

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Naidu appeals for donations to rebuild cyclone-ravaged Vizag

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu addressing a media conference in Visakhapatnam on SaturdayVisakhapatnam: Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday appealed to the people to make generous contribution for rebuilding Visakhapatnam and bring the city, worst-hit by cyclone Hudhud, back to its 'past glory'.

He said an action plan is being prepared and experts from agriculture universities will be a part of it.

"Anyone can contribute to rebuild the city by donating or by voluntary service. Students will be involved in a large way in the government's efforts to rebuild the city and also in rescue and relief operations," Naidu told a press conference here.

The Chief Minister said he has held meetings with corporates and has urged them to come forward and support the government to construct a fishermen's colony for 10,000 families with infrastructure that can withstand the wind speed up to 250kmph.

"The government will identify land soon for the fishermen's colony. I am not satisfied with the debris clearing. The administration has dumped the debris along the road side. Now, entire debris should be transported to various places for dumping, including garbage.

"Due to logistic problems, transportation of essential commodities was affected but the situation, however, has improved and such items will be transported to ration shops for distribution," he said.

The Chief Minister announced that the government will soon start a website for rebuilding Visakhapatnam and every information will be updated on it where citizens can give information and also contribute towards raising funds.

Naidu, who toured Paderu and Arku agency areas here yesterday, said that coffee plantation will be done on five lakh acres land to improve the economic conditions of tribal people as it is the main source of income for some tribal communities.

He also appealed to the people to celebrate Diwali by just lighting lamps instead bursting crackers.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers Association has decided to contribute their two-day basic salary, amounting Rs 125 crore, to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

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RJY MP seeks second track on Godavari

Requests funds for repairs to rail-cum-road bridgePleads for `500 cr grant for ‘Pushkaram’ arrangements

New Delhi: Rajahmundry MP M Murali Mohan on Saturday urged Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to lay a second track on the railway bridge on the Godavari.

In a representation submitted to the minister, the MP said laying of the second track on the railway bridge ‘is need of the hour’, as it would not only lessen the train traffic on the route, but also help in the diversion on the rail-cum-road bridge.

TDP MP M Murali Mohan meeting Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda at his residence in Delhi on Saturday. The AP State government representative in Delhi K Rammohan Rao is also seen
The representation sought sanction of adequate funds to repair the rail-cum-road bridge. He suggested that the bridge be closed for all vehicular traffic and train movements at least for two-three months till such repairs are carried out.

Murali Mohan pleaded with Gowda to sanction an additional Rs 500 crore for making special arrangements, including modernisation of the Rajahmundry station, on the eve of the Godavari Pushkarams scheduled next year. He said the amount should be provided in the supplementary railway budget.

The state government representative in New Delhi K Ramamohan Rao was present when the MP submitted the representation to the Railway Minister.

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Passport Issuance Made Hassle-free with New Program

VIJAYAWADA: In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in the city on Saturday launched the ‘On Hold Appointment’ facility that provides the passport-seekers an opportunity to reschedule their appointment according to their convenience.

Earlier, if the applicants failed to bring all the required documents for verification, they had to wait for a considerably long time for another appointment. But now, the people can plan their next visit according to their convenience.

K Sanjana, an engineering student, said, “I have applied for a passport through the online system and booked a slot for document verification Saturday, but for some reasons, I was unable to bring all my documents. Exercising the option of ‘On Hold Appointment’, I have rescheduled my appointment to next week.” 

If the applicants fail to receive their passports after verification or else if their passports are rejected, they can directly register their grievances at

The officials are also taking up various initiatives to make the process of obtaining  passport easy. They can also get the accurate passport status through an SMS service upon payment of Rs 30. Now, if the parents have passports, their children, who are below five years of age, can obtain the same without police verification.

“There is a 40 percent increase in the number of applications received,” an official said.

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Underground Power Cables in Visakhapatnam to Cost Rs 1,000 Cr

HYDERABAD: The colossal damage to power supply infrastructure has made the state government consider underground cable system for the entire Visakhapatnam city.

According to energy secretary Ajay Jain, shifting to underground cable system would provide protection to the infrastructure in the event of any cyclone hitting the city in future.

Though it has not yet been calculated how much it would cost, tentative estimate puts it at Rs 1,000 crore. Though the figure appears big, the system, once in place, would more than compensate for any loss that would occur to the infrastructure in a calamity. More importantly, citizens could rest assured of power supply even after a disaster strikes.

The state government has deployed men and material like never before for restoring power supply in Visakhapatnam, Viziangaram and Srikakulam districts. The task is mammoth and though people are working hard, the unfinished task is huge. Even with big effort, the government could not ensure full power supply to Visakhapatnam.

Ajay Jain says until 100 percent power supply is ensured in all three districts that are affected by the cyclone. And no staff of the power utilities, private infrastructure companies or those form neighbouring states will go on leave, he added.

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Now, Tree Leaves Turn Black in Visakhapatnam

VISAKHAPATNAM: The trees uprooted by cyclone Hudhud are exhibiting a phenomenon not seen before in the port city. About a week after the cyclone hit the city, the leaves have started turning black. Residents are shocked to witness this and speculation is rife that it is due to the heat generated by strong winds during the cyclone, while a few are claiming that it was due to acid content in the rain. However, experts have rubbished both the theories.

More than 20 lakh trees were felled by cyclone Hudhud in the city and its surroundings, while lakhs of other trees were badly broken. It was observed that leaves got separated from the trees due to wind speeding at over 200 kmph and many trees were uprooted partially. There were trees with broken branches. Tree trunks turned dry over the last one week and the leaves on such trees started turning black as the days passed, giving jitters to the people. Not many observed this until two to three days after the cyclone struck the city.

“We heard that lightening has struck many trees turning them into black. There are also rumours that the atmospheric pollution in the city got mixed with rain, resulting in chemical reactions which turned poisonous for trees,” said Ajay Malla, a student and resident of Madhurawada. However, professors at Andhra University and Gitam University, who are studying the phenomenon, termed it natural. “Heavy winds speeding up to 200 kmph, containing salt carried from the sea are likely to have turned the green leaves black. The dry look of trees can be attributed to the cyclone and a normal rain can bring them back to life,” said Prof M Venkaiah from the botany department of Andhra University.

Gitam University botany professor N Srinivas said the trees might look dry, but are alive. “Unless they are completely uprooted, the trees have a good chance of sprouting new leaves after rain. Till then, trees can store water in their body and sustain for a while and there could be a visible change within three months,” he added. The experts felt that the trees which are standing tall but lost leaves should be left to regenerate themselves.

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No Crackers this Deepavali in Visakhapatnam

VISAKHAPATNAM: This year, the cyclone-hit Vizag will not burst crackers to celebrate Deepavali. The State government has decided to deny trade licences to dealers, considering the fact that the city is sitting on a stockpile of over 10 lakh damaged trees and dry branches in the aftermath of Hudhud, which might ignite fire mishaps.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has asked the police department not to issue the trade licences for the annual sale of crackers in the port city. “Let people lit up the city with candles and lights. Bursting crackers might result in fire mishaps as the entire city is full of dry trees and leaves. We urge people to cooperate with us and the government is trying to make arrangements even to distribute the required candles/earthen lamps,” the Chief Minister said.

AP Director General of Police JV Ramudu issued orders to the city police to deny permission for setting up cracker shops. It is learnt that orders have been issued to  register cases against those who are selling crackers on the sly and if any fire mishap occurs due to bursting of crackers, the police are likely to book cases against those who burst them.

Not surprisingly, many Vizagites are not interested in celebrating crackers during the festival of lights. “What is there to celebrate? Many people are suffering due to absence of basic amenities. It is better to contribute the expenditure for celebrating Deepavali to help someone who suffered damages in the cyclone,” said K Ramakrishna, a teacher at HB Colony. Inmates of his apartment are planning to take up repairs to the building instead of spending the amount on crackers. Nearly 300 firecracker stalls dot the city  during Deepavali every year. It is learnt that each stall has paid Rs  1 lakh to the suppliers about four months ago. Shop owners are lamenting that the government’s decision would cause them immense loss. “We understand the situation and also sympathise with people hit by the cyclone. But denying permission to sell crackers would cause huge loss,” bemoaned K Venkataramana, a retailer.

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Job-oriented Courses at SRR College Soon

VIJAYAWADA: Skill-based vocational certificate courses aimed at improving the employability skills of students will be introduced at SRR and CVR Degree College in Vijayawada soon. The courses are proposed to be offered in Hotel Management, Food Technology, Web Designing, PC Maintenance and Trouble Shooting, Data Entry Operations, Front Office Operations, Solar Power Technologies and Pharmaceutical Technology.

These certificate courses will be of six months duration and can be pursued simultaneously by UG and PG students while doing their regular courses. Though the students of all years are eligible to attend the courses, they will be of more help to the final year students.

All the certificate courses are designed by the State Board of Technical Education and Training (SBTET) and special resource persons selected by SBTET will train the students.

“The certificate courses are mainly aimed at imparting employability skills to students. They are job-oriented courses which are in good demand. Students who have completed their UG or PG courses can equip themselves with specific job skills and they will be better placed to earn jobs immediately after completing their courses,” said SRR and CVR Degree College principal V Ravi.

“To make the courses available to students of all income groups, we are planning to fix a reasonable fee. The courses are likely to be started in November,” he added

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Cyclone nightmare still haunts people

Even after a  week, they  fear to enter streetsNot even a tree remains unbrokenEssential commodities, vegetables scarceWhen the city recovers is anybody’s guess

Visakhapatnam: Nightmare of ‘Hudhud’ devastation is still haunting the people here even after a week it struck--a calamity they had not experienced in 25 years.

Despite best efforts of officials to restore normality, residents are still to forget the nightmares of high velocity wind pounding the city. Not even one tree remained unbroken.

Residents of an apartment on the Beach Road recall how they huddled together in fear as flats on top floors shook violently when winds gusting up to 200 kmph swept the city.

Those living in upper floors abandoned their flats, as wind ripped apart doors, shattered windowpanes, and took shelter in the first and second floors. A car parked on the seventh floor in a showroom plunged to the ground with a bang. The noise frightened people in the vicinity.

The people have not been able to share their frightening experiences with their dear ones as almost all mobile phones lost signals. Of the dozen operators providing services in the City, none except BSNL, could restore services even now.

The steel city, famed as AP financial hub, is in a shambles. Dreams of the people to see it as a smart city have been shattered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of Rs 1,000 crore as immediate relief and his assurance that the Centre would come to the people’s rescue gives hope.

The cyclone loss is said to be a staggering Rs 1 lakh crore. How long it will take for the city to get back its past glory is anybody’s guess.

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