Friday, 31 July 2015

Assam government bans Annapurna chilli sauce, Niyor drinking water

Assam government has banned two local products for 30 days after it found they contained benzoic acid and fluoride beyond permissible limits.

The two products — a sauce brand and packaged drinking water — were found substandard after initial tests were conducted at the state health laboratory. Samples of the two products were then sent to the Referral Food Laboratory in Ghaziabad, where it was declared that the two samples had excess amount of benzoic acid and fluoride.

Manufactured by M/S Satez Agro Products Private Limited, a sample of Annapurna Chilly Sauce had a high amount of benzoic acid, while samples of Niyor packaged drinking water revealed the presence of excess fluoride. Excess use of the acid can lead to cancer, liver and kidney ailments.

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Heavy rain, thunderstorm likely to lash Assam: Met office

The Met office has warned of heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura on Friday.

“Rain/thundershowers would occur at many places Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram & Tripura and at a few places over Arunachal Pradesh,” the Regional Meteorological Centre in Guwahati warned in its website.

With cyclonic storm 'KOMEN' building up over the northeast of the Bay of Bengal, the Met office said wind speed reaching 40-50 km per hour and gusting up to 60 km per hour is expected to prevail over Mizoram and Tripura for the next 24 hours.

In Guwahati, people are reeling under scorching heat with temperature shooting up to 37.2 degree Celsius on Thursday. According to the Met office, the 37.2 degree Celsius maximum temperature on Thursday is a five degrees Celsius departure from normal.

In fact, the sizzling heat has been prevailing over the city for the last few days and the residents here are desperate for some rain.

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Gogoi orders protection of Assam's historical monuments

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Wednesday ordered the formation of a committee for protection and preservation of the ancient and historical monuments in the state. In a directive to the chief secretary, he called for the constitution of a committee to formulate an action plan for the purpose. According to an official statement, he said the committee would "formulate a scientific and systematic action plan for the protection of all the historical monuments in the state". The committee, according to Gogoi, will study all the relevant aspects and suggest recommendations leading to repairing, restoring and preserving ancient and historical monuments.

The state government will also approach the central government for matching financial assistance in its bid for the preservation and protection of ancient and historical monuments in Assam. There are two Unesco World Heritage Sites in Assam - Kaziranga National Park, famous for the one-horned rhinoceros; and Manas National Park, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve. Gogoi's directive is expected to put focus on the historical monuments of Sivasagar, the capital of Assam's erstwhile Ahom kingdom, among others.

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Assam announces committee to stop illegal cigarette trade

The Assam government today announced setting up of an enquiry committee, to be headed by the Additional Chief Secretary, to probe illegal cigarette trade in the state and prevent it.

  "Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has directed that an enquiry committee, to be headed by the Additional Chief Secretary, be constituted to check and disband illegal trade in cigarettes reportedly happening in the state," an official release said.

  The committee will study different aspects of the illegal trade in cigarettes and come out with a strategy to stop it, it said.

  The development comes a day after the industry chamber FICCI released a report on illegal trade in seven core sectors resulting in Rs 39,239 crore of revenue loss in 2014.  The FICCI estimated that Assam was losing around Rs 600 crore every year due to illicit trade of tobacco, while Meghalaya is losing Rs 90 crore annually.

  Assam Additional Director-General of Police (CID) Mukesh Sahay had earlier said that a part of the funding of insurgent groups in the Northeast was being made by smugglers and illegal traders in tobacco and alcohol.

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

People gather in large numbers at Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's Rameswaram house

A large number of people have gathered at former president A.P.J.Abdul Kalam's house at Rameswaram to pay their last respects, a relative said on Wednesday.

"People in large numbers have assembled at Kalam's house to pay their last respects," A.P.J.M.K. Sheik Saleem, the former president's brother's grandson told IANS over the phone.

"All our relatives have also come to attend the last rites," he added.

The coastal town of Rameswaram, a Hindu pilgrimage centre, is located around 600 km from Chennai in Ramanathapuram district.

Kalam was born in Rameswaram and spent his young days battling poverty there.

Saleem said Kalam's body will be kept at a location near the bus stand to enable the public to pay their last respects.

"Public can pay their homage till 8 p.m. today (Wednesday) after which the body will be taken to his house - `House of Kalam' at the Mosque Street," Saleem said.

According to him the last rites will be performed around 10.30 a.m. on Thursday.

In a statement issued here Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa said at the request of the family members, the government has allotted land for burying Kalam's mortal remains.

Security has been tightened at Rameswaram in view of the large number of people, including ministers and others, who are expected to attend Kalam's last rites. 

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AIUDF, BJP have close links: CM Gogoi

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi launched twin attacks on BJP and the minority-dominated All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), led by perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal, saying he would not rule out the possibility of the state's biggest opposition party having links with BJP. Gogoi referred to the BJP-PDP alliance in Jammu & Kashmir to substantiate his comment.

"Ajmal and BJP maintain close links. Both BJP and AIUDF are communal parties and we oppose them. Assam is a land of diverse religions and communities. We will not allow our pluralistic society to be destroyed," Gogoi said on Monday. "I will not be surprised if BJP and AIUDF join hands. The former has done it in Jammu & Kashmir. It (BJP) may do it in Assam with AIUDF. Where was BJP's ideology when it joined with PDP?" he asked.

The chief minister said the increasing presence of RSS and Bajrang Dal in the state was alarming.

However, AIUDF however, denied Gogoi's allegation and said it staunchly opposed communalism and communal forces. Party leaders said Gogoi and Congress were misleading people by spreading canards about AIUDF and BJP teaming up.

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam passes away in the city he loved

Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam died in Shillong, a city he loved, at 7.45pm on Monday. He was 83. Kalam collapsed on the stage at the Indian Institute of Management here at 6.30pm while speaking to students during a seminar on 'Livable Planet Earth'. He was taken to the privately-run Bethany Hospital.

"The former president was brought to hospital at 6.52pm and he passed away at 7.45pm," Dr John Sailo said.

Kalam's body was taken to Guwahati in an Army helicopter on Tuesday morning, and from there being taken to Delhi. Meghalaya governor V Shanmuganathan is accompanying Kalam's body to Delhi.

The former president, a scientist who was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1997, had arrived in Guwahati from Delhi on Monday morning. He reached IIM-Shillong, where he was visiting faculty, at 6pm by road from Guwahati, covering about 100km. He was supposed to interact with the students till 10.40pm and scheduled to interact with PG students from 10am to 12.30pm on Tuesday before returning to Delhi.

A faculty member at IIM-Shillong said Kalam, India's 11th president from 2002-2007, had been visiting the institute to teach PG students for the last three years. "Students and the faculty liked the way he taught. We are saddened by the demise of one of India's greatest personalities," he added.

Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma, who is in Delhi, said it was a "sad day" for the country and the state. "He loved Meghalaya, and the state will miss him tremendously. He visited the state quite often and his generosity in sharing his immense wisdom has benefitted many youngsters. His humility while interacting with people from all walks of life will always be remembered," he added.

Shanmuganathan was among the first to reach the hospital. Assam and Nagaland Governor P B Acharya said the nation has suffered a great loss in the demise of Kalam. Acharya said Kalam is not only a former president but also a highly respected scientist.

Many in the Northeast recalled Kalam's inspiring speech at the 14th convocation of IIT-Guwahati in 2012. He had then said he wanted to see a "silent" Brahmaputra emerging into a "smart" waterway in the country.

"The Brahmaputra is very close to me. Yesterday, and even today, I visited the river. It is a silent river with limited activities. My dream is to see the Brahmaputra become a smart waterway in the country," Kalam had said.

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Tarun Gogoi, Prafulla Mahanta, others pay tribute to APJ Abdul Kalam at Guwahati airport

The body of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who died in Shillong on Monday evening,  was carried to New Delhi early Tuesday morning by a special aircraft from Guwahati, as senior leaders and a host of officials joined in paying tribute to the country's 'missile man'.
Last respects were paid to the late former President at the tarmac of the Lokapriya Gopinath Borodoloi International Airport after his body was brought to Guwahati from Shillong by an Air Force helicopter at around 6:15 am. Meghalaya Governor V Shanmughanathan travelled alongside as the body was ferried to Guwahati and later paid floral tributes to the Bharat Ratna. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi led the state in paying respect to Kalam, calling Kalam's death an "irreparable loss" to the nation.
"It is an irreparable loss to the nation. He loved children, he loved the nation. I have met him many times. I took him to rural areas of Assam. He was a very simple and honest man. Along with India, entire state is mourning his death," Gogoi said. Kalam was one of the most popular faces of the country and he was "young in spirit till his last moment", he said. Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta also paid his respect to Kalam, the 'people's President'.
Host of senior Assam government officials, including Chief Secretary V K Pipersenia, DGP Khagen Sarma, Additional Chief Secretary MGVK Bhanu, Home Commissiner LS Changsan and Guwahati Police Commissioner Mukesh Agrawal too joined in paying rich tribute to the late former President. Many senior officials from the Army and Air Force were present on the occasion and also paid their respect to the 'missile man' of the country.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee President Anjan Dutta and other senior party leaders were also present and paid their respects.
After keeping it for about an hour and fifteen minutes at Guwahati, the body of Kalam was then flown to the national capital in the special aircraft of the Indian Air Force. Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October died after suffering a massive cardiac arrest during a lecture at the IIM Shillong on Monday.
He was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany Hospital in a critical condition following the collapse at around 6.30 PM. The body of the late former president was shifted from Bethania Hospital, where he breathed his last, to the Military Hospital in Shillong, Defence Public Relations Officer Amit Mahajan said.
The Union Cabinet is to hold a special meeting in New Delhi today to condole his death. The date, place and time of his funeral would also be decided on Tuesday. The government has announced a seven-day state morning in honour of Kalam, who became affectionately known as the 'people's President.
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Monday, 27 July 2015

NGT issues warrants against resorts in Kaziranga

As the authorities run a campaign for creating an eco-sensitive zone encircling Kaziranga National Park in central Assam, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued bailable warrants against 28 dhabas, resorts, petrol pumps and other establishments for allegedly blocking several natural animal corridors on the park fringes.

The warrants were issued last week after the owners of these establishments failed to appear before the tribunal in connection with a hearing on the alleged encroachment in the animal corridors and government land around the park, which is also an important tiger reserve. Over 70 dhabas, restaurants, resorts, petrol pumps and other establishments were earlier served notice of appearance in connection with a case filed by one Rohit Choudhary.

The tribunal wanted to know from them what right they had over the land and whether those plots fell under the proposed eco-sensitive zone of Kaziranga National Park. While about 40 individuals and firms owning these establishments had appeared before the tribunal, the remaining ones which failed to turn up are now facing bailable warrants under provisions of Section 19(4)(a) of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, read with Order XVI Rule 10(3) and Section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the tribunal order said.

In April, a CAG report had said setting up of resorts, hotels, dhabas and garages, many of them encroaching upon government land along NH-715, had not only led to serious obstruction in management of the park, but also blocked natural animal corridors. The CAG report had found that 29 resorts and dhabas in Bokakhat Revenue Circle had been running for up to 40 years on land falling within 2-3 km of the Kaziranga National Park boundary, among which two resorts had already changed land pattern from agricultural to commercial.

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Bijoy Krishna Handique passes away

Senior Congress leader of Assam and former Union Minister Bijoy Krishna Handique passed away in a hospital in Jorhat on Sunday. He was 81.

Handique breathed his last at the Jorhat Medical College Hospital in Jorhat.

Handique was elected as Lok Sabha MP from Jorhat for six terms.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, APCC and scores of other organizations condoled the demise of Handique.

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Friday, 24 July 2015

Assam based movie 'Aisa Yeh Jahaan' released

The makers describe it as India's first carbon neutral feature film. As the filming process ends up messing up places, the makers decided to plant hundreds of trees as compensation to qualify for the tag. Though it supports the 'save the environment' cause, it is also about Assam, which proves to be a visual delight. The message is clear — go plant trees, as many as you can, but at the end of this movie, you will want to plan a trip to Assam and buy those colourful, handwoven Mekhela chador.

Doctor-turned-musician-turned-actor Palash Sen (remember his track 'Dhoom' and film 'Filhaal' over a decade ago?) is back on the scene after a hiatus. He plays an Assamese man who relocates from his village to Mumbai to be part of the rat race and pay EMIs. Accosted with heaps of blue plastic bags, mounds of filth and a concrete jungle, he misses his idyllic surroundings back home. But his ambitious wife (Ira Dubey) wants to lead the high life and earn big bucks to achieve her dream. It's a story that any Mumbaikar can relate to. A couple which has moved here from elsewhere in the country trying to make both ends meet. Palash looks convincing and has not let his acting chops turn rusty. Ira does a funny take, but it is the Assamese girl Kymsleen Kholie, who delivers a natural performance as their househelp. Yashpal Sharma is refreshing as a village bumpkin, a departure from the usual negative roles he essays. The characterisation is relatable, but at times the film appears to be a documentary. It drags on even as the comic touches to Ira's character is aimed at garnering chuckles to avoid the preachy mode. Apart from the green cause, the film takes on the concerns of the people of the North East, parents pushing their tots into the glamour world and language barriers. Prisha, 

The angelic kid who plays Palash-Ira's child, knows more Hindi than Assamese, she wonders what her dad will give her every time she calls him Deta (father in Assamese), which translates as 'to give' in Hindi. This film has been made with heart, but desperately tries to weave in the commercial elements when you have model Carol Gracias suddenly pop up in an item number. With two big guns ('Bajrangi Bhaijaan' and 'Baahubali') still firing at the box office and another Cannes-acclaimed film, 'Masaan', trying to make an impact, this week, this go-green call seems as tough as the zero garbage mission.

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Halfong-Silchar railway line declared dangerous for passengers

The top official of the watchdog for Railways safety has declared the Haflong - Silchar link as dangerous for public travel. The Commissioner of Railway Safety who inspected the crucial rail link last month has warned that the "Line cannot be opened for passenger traffic without danger to travelling public".

The observations are part of a report by the rail safety department. The report also says that despite existing serious issues with safety, the commissioner of rail safety only relented to conduct the inspection last month following "persistent persuasion by Railways".

What is worrying is that barely 4 months after the line was thrown open for goods trains, there have already been 9 derailments and at least 14 instances where the track has subsided. Rs. 5,500 crores have already been spent on the costly upgrade that has taken almost a decade to complete.

Passenger traffic between the two stations was completely halted last year as the final section of this rail link was being upgraded from meter gauge to broad gauge, and the Railways had said that it would be reopened this year. In March, Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had also flagged off goods trains on this route by remote control.

The report has "recommended that the railway administration engage experts in the field of get technology, structural engineering to critically review the present status and recommend suitable preventive measures".

The Railways has an ambitious plan link all the state capitals of the north-eastern states by 2022, but it appears to be a difficult task. The difficult mountainous terrain is also prone to landslides.

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had focused on improving connectivity to the North-east region, announcing Rs. 28,000 crore for laying new railway lines.

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Thursday, 23 July 2015

BJP names Himanta Biswa as key suspect in Guwahati Watergate

Minutes after Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma took on a section of media for naming him in the Watergate, BJP leaders in New Delhi called him one of the key suspects in the scam.

BJP parliamentary board members in New Delhi released a booklet on the corruption cases in the Congress ruled states naming Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma as one of the key suspect Guwahati Watergate.

BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were also present in the function.

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Security forces foil ULFA-I terror plan

Security forces have averted major terror strikes in four northeastern states planned jointly by militant outfits NSCN-K and ULFA-I, an official said.

Quoting intelligence reports, Lt Col Shailesh, spokesperson for the Inspector General Assam Rifles (North), said rebels of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) and the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) had plans to carry out terror strikes in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The rebel groups have united under the banner of the United National Liberation Front of West South East Asia (UNLFWSEA).

"UNLFWSEA is intending to launch a number of attacks in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh during and before Independence Day. All citizens are advised to be careful, and should immediately report any suspicious items found lying unattended at any place to police and the security forces," the spokesperson said in a press communique.

He said that in the past few months, a number of highly destructive radio-controlled explosive devices have been smuggled into Nagaland from Myanmar, in a bid to target the districts of Dimapur, Kohima, Wokha, Mokokchung, Mon and Tuensang, "with the aim of creating fear psychosis".

He said the recovery of explosives and two military grade anti-tank mines in the jungles of Polubadze mountain in Nagaland on Tuesday confirmed the nefarious designs of the militants.

The spokesperson said the NSCN-K was "misguiding Naga youths to resort to violence against their own brethren".

He assured the people that the security forces will continue to work towards ensuring peace in the region.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Assam government sets up dedicated fund for prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of trafficked children

Assam government has announced to set up a dedicated fund for prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of trafficked children.

"Starting a new chapter of ensuring immunity of children against bonded labour, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced creation of a separate dedicated corpus fund in league with Kailash Satyarthi Childhood Foundation for prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of children of Assam," an official release said.

For this purpose, the government has announced Rs one crore as initial corpus, it added.

"This is a unique initiative of the state government for the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of the exploited and deprived children and guaranteeing their future," the statement said.

This fund was announced by Gogoi during a breakfast meet with Noble Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.

Gogoi also sought Satyarthi's help in the government's endeavour of making the state free from bonded child labour.

In every district of the state and in 'Assam Bhawans' across the country, the government will designate a nodal officer for identification, rescue and rehabilitation of children under bonded labour, the Chief Minister said.

He also said the dedicated fund will be used exclusively on a three-point agenda -- prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of children.

The statement said that Satyarthi appreciated the state government's handling of insurgency, which is already on the wane.

"Gogoi apprised the Noble Laureate that his government has been able to bring several subversive groups to the mainstream and as a result of which several militant organisations have joined the peace process," it added.

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Two poachers killed in Kaziranga National Park

Two poachers were killed during an encounter with forest guards in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam early this morning, forest officials said.

The incident took place at Burapahar range of the national park.

The forest guards noticed a group of poachers and encountered them. While two of them died in the ambush, others escaped.

Forest officials and police have found one rifle and some bullets.

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Security tightened as woman accused of witch-hunt beheaded in Biswanath

Security has been tightened at Bhimjuli village in Biswanath following Monday’s incident in which villagers killed a 63-year-old woman after suspecting her to be a witch. Adequate police force has been deployed in the village to ensure that there was no backlash.

Meanwhile, protests were held at several places across Assam against the incident. Many organizations demanded strict actions to stop the menace.

Local MLA Prabin Hazarika visited the village on Tuesday.

The elderly tea-tribe woman was found hacked to death and buried by a stream in suspect to be linked to black magic and witchcraft in Assam-Arunachal border at Sonitpur district.

A police spokesperson said that the body of Pani Orang was found buried under a mound of sand close to a stream.

Local people said the killings were driven by superstitious beliefs.

Witch-hunting is a evil practice, and superstition still exists among some communities in Assam. The government had off late said it would bring an act with more punitive actions to check the menace.

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Monday, 20 July 2015

CM reviews ongoing project Bhupen Hazarika’s memorial

Three years have passed since the music maestro and cultural icon of Assam Dr Bhupen Hazarika left for his heavenly abode, but the State is yet to get a full-fledged memorial for the legend who secured his place in the hearts of millions across the globe.

Waiting to get a Samadhi Kshetra (cremation ground) as majestic as Rajghat, people of the State and several public organizations have stood in unison blaming the State government for the inordinate delay. Though the government has started construction work on five bighas of land at Jalukbari, people are wary about getting ‘too little too late’ in the memory of Bhupenda.

Well aware of the public sentiment brewing against it, the State government has announced that the Samadhi Kshetra would be completed and opened up for the common people by the death anniversary of Dr Hazarika in 2015.

Talking to media, Pranati Phukan, Minister of Cultural Affairs, Assam, reiterated the government’s pledge to complete the project by November 2015. “The initial process of project designing, tenders and architectural decisions are not visible on the ground.  , the construction work of the boundary wall, gate and gumbaz to be constructed on the site of cremation, has already started,” she said.

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US firm paid bribes to win water projects in Assam, Goa

A New Jersey-based construction management firm has been charged with bribing Indian officials to win two major water developmental projects in Goa and Guwahati. The bribe, of $976,630 for a Goa project by Louis Berger, included that to a minister, the details of which have not been disclosed by the US Department of Justice.

On Friday, the company agreed to pay a $17.1-million criminal fine to resolve charges that it bribed officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait to secure government construction management contracts. Two of its former executives, Richard Hirsch (61) of the Philippines and James McClung (59) of the UAE, pleaded guilty to the charges.

Previously, McClung had served as senior vice-president, responsible for the firm’s operations in India and Vietnam.

Sentencing hearings for Hirsch and McClung are scheduled for November 5 this year.

The Indian government, assisted by its Japanese counterpart, had initiated the five-year Goa water supply and sewerage project to expand, rehabilitate and build water and sewerage facilities. Louis Berger was part of a consortium responsible for the project in Goa. The consortium included two Japanese firms and an Indian partner.

The team developed a project management information system and plan, evaluated bids, reviewed design and construction plans, and ensured quality work was done on time and within the budget, the company said on its website.

In an 11-page charge sheet, US federal prosecutors alleged Louis Berger maintained a detailed diary and account of bribery to Indian officials. On August 26, 2010, “a consortium partner prepared a payment-tracking schedule, stating the company had paid $976,630 in bribes in connection with the Goa project to date”, federal prosecutors told a court in New Jersey.

“Along with several consortium partners, the company won two water development projects in Goa and Guwahati. The company paid bribes to win both these contracts,” the prosecutors alleged.

On August 17, 2010, a consortium partner sent an e-mail to James McClung, stating, “As discussed, I enclose the details, as provided by (the third-party intermediary). I have also added the details of amounts paid to (the company) as of date by (the consortium partner) in the same sheet.”

The attachment included an entry: “Paid by (an agent of the company) to the minister on behalf of the agent,” the prosecutors said.

According to court documents, the company, through its employees and agents, used terms such as “commitment fee”, “counterpart per diem”, “marketing fee” and “field operations expenses” as codes to conceal the true nature of the payments and utilised cash disbursement forms and invoices that didn’t truthfully describe the services provided or the purpose of the payment.

The documents showed the company, through its employees, agents and consortium partners, kept track of the bribe payments by circulating a spreadsheet among them, which showed the proportionate share of every bribe they had paid the officials overseeing their work on the Goa and Guwahati projects.

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Friday, 17 July 2015

Union Home Minister speaks to Assam CM Gogoi over killing of Hindi-speaking persons

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday spoke to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi about the killing of a Hindi-speaking businessman and his daughter by suspected ULFA militants in Tinsukia.

During their telephonic conversation, Gogoi apprised him of the situation in Tinsukia region following the killing of the two Hindi-speaking persons.

"Gogoi told me that the state had already rushed security forces to Tinsukia to maintain law and order.I assured the Chief Minister of all possible help from the Centre, including additional security forces, if needed," Singh said in New Delhi.

On Tuesday night, Nandalal Shah (65) and his daughter Kajol Shah (21) were killed, while his wife, son and nephew were injured in indiscriminate firing by suspected ULFA(I) militants at his home in Bijuliban village in Tinsukia district.

After the killing of Nandalal Shah and his daughter Kajol, Assam government has shunted out local SP Arnab Deka and posted Karbi Anglong SP Mugdha Jyoti Mahanta in his place.

Protests over the incident have disrupted normal life in the district for the last two days.

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Nearly 2 lakh people hit by Assam floods

Close to two lakh people have been affected by floods in 13 districts of Assam, officials said on Wednesday, as over 200 people took shelter in relief camps in Tinsukia and Sonitpur districts.

Heavy rains have also lashed most parts of the state since Tuesday.

Floods hit many parts of Baksa, Dibrugarh and Kamrup districts on Wednesday, even as many villages in Barpeta, Sonitpur, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur Tinsukia, Darrang, Nalbari, Golapara, Jorhat and Kamrup (Metro) districts continue to remain under water.

A flood bulletin issued by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said 1,95,243 people have been affected as flood waters submerged 533 villages.

The state government has opened toll free phone numbers -- 1070 for the State Emergency Operation Centre, and 1077 for the District Emergency Operation Centre.

Flood waters have also affected over 8,245 hectares of crop land, officials said.

Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Bhumidhar Barman, and Water Resource Minister Basanta Das on Wednesday reviewed the flood situation, and asked the district administrations to take up flood mitigation measures immediately.

The ministers asked the district administrations to arrange relief and rescue material, and take stock of the infrastructural damage.

According to the water resources department, embankments have been breached in Sonitpur, Nalbari, Dhubri, Darrang and Goalpara districts.

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Thursday, 16 July 2015

Bahubali's box office collection scares me: Salman Khan

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan says "Bahubali" is a good film and our (Bollywood) cinema should try to match its success.

"We don't think we can do that much like ('Bahubali' jitna toh nahi kar payegi). Of course it (box office) scares me," Salman said when asked if box office numbers scare him considering the recent business that "Bahubali" did.

"'Bahubali' is a good film but our cinema should make those numbers. Do we need their cinema to that numbers," the "Kick" protagonist said.

"Bahubali", directed by S S Rajamouli, starring Rana Daggubatti, Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Tamaannah Bhatia hit the screens on July 10 and has reportedly earned over Rs 200 crore at the box office.

Filmmaker Karan Johar has presented S S Rajamouli's magnum opus 'Bahubali' in Hindi.

49-year-old Salman has produced two films - "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" in which he plays the lead role.

The next movie is "Hero" remake that marks acting debut of Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty.

 "A good producer is the one who understands a good script. I wanted to make "Hero" remake with Sooraj and Athiya as it is a fabulous script," Salman added.

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Centre to infuse Rs 92,000 cr for development of North East

Funds to the tune of Rs 92,000 crore will be spent by the Centre on development of North East, including construction of highways and developing rail networks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday as he held a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the region here.

Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram did not participate in the meeting which was attended by Chief Ministers of Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura and Finance Minister of Mizoram.

At the meeting, Modi expressed his government's resolve to ensure rapid and sustainable development of the region. "Under Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for the North-East), Rs 35,000 crore is proposed to be invested to develop the Trans-Arunachal Highway and for connecting all district headquarters by a two lane highway (about 6,400 km), he said, according to a PMO statement.

"New rail network is being created in addition to strengthening the existing network at a cost of Rs 57,000 crore," he said at the meeting. The Chief Ministers present were briefed on infrastructure initiatives taken up by the central government in the North Eastern region through a NITI Aayog presentation.

It was agreed that the Empowered Committees-led by the State Chief Secretaries constituted pursuant to the decision of the NITI Governing Council need to be even more proactive in monitoring the implementation of infrastructure projects and remove bottlenecks in order that time and cost overruns can be avoided.

"There has been a significant ramp-up in infrastructure investments by the Government of India in the North East since Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister," the statement said. Similarly investments are being taken up by the telecom, power, civil aviation and shipping ministries in order to improve the connectivity air, road, rail and internet of the region, internally as well as externally under the Act East policy of the central government, the release said. The meeting was attended among others by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Vice Chairman NITI Aayog Arvind Panagariya.

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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Satya Nadella reveals Microsoft's 'one big mistake'

Microsoft's India-born CEO Satya Nadella acknowledged that "one big mistake" the company made in the past was to think the personal computer will reign supreme forever and failing to anticipate the technological transformation of the mobile phone.

"If anything, one big mistake we made in our past was to think of the PC (personal computer) as the hub for everything for all time to come. And today, of course, the high volume device is the six-inch phone. I acknowledge that.

"But to think that that's what the future is for all time to come would be to make the same mistake we made in the past without even having the share position of the past. So that would be madness," Nadella said in an interview to technology news website ZDNet.

He added that the company has to be on the "hunt for what is the next bend in the curve".

"That's what, quite frankly, anyone has to do to be relevant in the future. In our case, we are doing that. We're doing that with our innovation in Windows. We're doing that with features like Continuum. Even the phone, I just don't want to build another phone, a copycat phone operating system, even," he said.

Nadella recalled that when he had joined the company in 1992, the focus and ambition was to take the personal computer in every home and on every desk.

"Guess what: We achieved that. And a company has to outlast any given technology paradigm and any ambitious goal. And so for me this going back to what is it that drove Bill (Gates) to build even the BASIC compiler or the interpreter to what we did in terms of inventing productivity or democratizing client-server computing," he said.

The Microsoft chief had spelled out personal computing, reinvention of productivity and business process and building an intelligent cloud platform as the company's three "bold ambitions" going forward at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 underway here.

Elaborating on his outlook for the Windows phone, Nadella said he does not want the phones to be any other phone operating system or device.

He stressed Microsoft will also not launch a phone a day but focus on few phones that are unique.

"And that's what I want our devices and device innovation to stand for."

The conference was the first major company event following the announcement on July 8 that Microsoft would be cutting 7,800 jobs and write off $7.6 billion, all related to its Nokia business.

Nadella said the announcement about the Nokia business was not about any change to the company's vision and strategy, but for sure it was a "change to its operating approach".

"The way we're going to go about it. I'm not going to launch a phone a day. I'm going to focus on a few phones that actually grab share that, in fact, showcase our uniqueness," he said.

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Books will never be shelved: Big B

“Books...they shall never be shelved away...they shall remain...there is a magical quality about them… yes I could keep them 'kindled' but somehow the charm of holding the pages of a freshly printed book, the writing of our name for its possession, the almost divine manner in which they are kept not too far away from us...ah...such a remarkable habit...such attachment and such wealth...with us,” Big B posted on his official blog.

The 72-year-old went on to add that books are not only valuable assets, but hold the key of their owner's personality.

“A home without the exhibition of valuable books seems so bare and ignorant...they convey the character of those that abide in the home…their nature, habits, conversation, likes and dislikes.. all….If music, as I said yesterday, be the soul of our being, books, are the educators of our soul,” he shared.

The ‘Paa’ star also dispelled the misconception that he is an avid reader.

“There is belief among many that I read a lot…nonsense...I do not...I merely respect those that do and live in their reflected glory...that too is a limitless long as knowledge keeps swimming about you in waves, soft and is calm and ethereal,” he posted.

On the professional front, the cine icon is gearing up for Wazir this year.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

CSK, RR suspended for 2 years; Gurunath Meiyappan, Raj Kundra banned for life

In the much-awaited verdict related to the Indian Premier League corruption case, The Justice Lodha commitee announced its verdict today where they suspended Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for a period of two years each. The committee also banned Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra for life from any cricket-related activity.

Justice Lodha said that even though Rajasthan Royals claimed to be a franchise which was against corrupt activities, three of its players were arrested in 2013 for spot-fixing. As a result, RR have also been suspended for 2 years.

"The committee imposes sanctions on Japiur IPL franchise (Rajasthan Royals): Suspend it from the league for a period of two years," Justice Lodha said in the conference.

"The committee proposes to impose sanctions on India Cements franchise (Chennai Super Kings): Suspend it for a period of two years," it was said in the press conference.

The Lodha committee has imposed the following sanctions against Raj Kundra: He is declared ineligible from participating in cricket for five years. He is suspended for life. He is suspended for life from being involved in the BCCI from any type of cricket matches. The above sanctions shall run concurrently and shall commence from the date of this order.

The Lodha committee has found Gurunath Meiyappan guilty of betting and bringing a bad name to BCCI's image and brand IPL, as a result of which Meiyappan has been banned for life from participating in any cricket-related activity.

Two teams from cricket`s Indian Premier League could be banned from the glitzy Twenty20 tournament when a Supreme Court-appointed panel hands down its sentence on a corruption scandal.

Officials from the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Rajasthan Royals have already been found guilty of betting on matches and their respective teams now face heavy sanctions after an inquiry that also tainted International Cricket Council supremo Narayanaswami Srinivasan.

An outright ban on the two former champions would be a devastating blow to what is only an eight-team tournament, and observers say former chief justice Rajendra Mal Lodha, who heads the three-man panel, is more likely to announce heavy fines.

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Assam, Bengal and Bihar rivers may be linked

The Centre has announced that it will take up the task of connecting Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga in Assam, West Bengal and Bihar. The three states will soon be approached for their consent.

This project, if implemented, will not only provide irrigation and water supply benefits to the three states but also make provide large quantity of surplus water for transfer to the southern states.

Once these three states agree for to the plan, the Centre will take up the task of preparing a detailed project report (DPR), including the modalities of implementation, water sharing and actual cost of the project.

The Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga link will be the fifth interstate project. While actual execution work on the first project, Ken-Betwa link, will begin by the end of this year, three others are at various stages before being taken up for the Cabinet approval.

All these are part of the total 30 interlinking of rivers (ILR) projects, which was conceived during the earlier NDA regime (1999-2004) under the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It includes both interstate- and intrastate-river linking projects. Decision to take up the Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga for linking was announced by the minister of state for water resources Sanwar Lal Jat after the fifth meeting of the special committee for ILR.

Updating the committee on the status of the ILR projects, Jat said, "Various clearances related to environment, wildlife and forest for the Ken-Betwa link project are in an advanced stage of processing. I hope with all statutory clearance, we will be able to start the actual execution of work on the project by the end of this year".

He said the government would implement this national project as a model for the entire ILR programme which will go a long way in enhancing water and food security of the country.

Water resources/irrigation ministers from Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, UP, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh attended the meeting as members of the committee. Some of them were of the view that the ILR projects should be implemented within a definite timeframe.

The water-sharing issue between Maharashtra and Gujarat also came up for discussion during the meeting as both the states had recently taken a tough stand over the ILR projects. It had become a bone of contention between the two states when Gujarat had in April demanded that Maharashtra must agree to share more water from Tapi if it wanted more water from the proposed Damanganga-Pinjal link, which will supply water to Mumbai.

Referring to those links, Jat said the work for preparation of DPR of Par-Tapi-Narmada link project was in concluding stage and it was expected to be completed by this month end. He said the issue of water sharing between both the states in respect to Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada project would be addressed after the completion of the DPR of the Par-Tapi-Narmada link project.

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