India’s first ‘Coral Garden’ to be set up in Gujarat

News4u-Business Desk-In an attempt to conserve several coral species at one place and to boost tourism in the state, the country’s first ‘Coral garden’ will be set up at Mithapur coastal region of Devbhoomi-Dwarka district in Gujarat.

“We will set up country’s first coral garden at Mithapur coast which will conserve coral species. Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up the first of its kind coral garden,” Senior Advisor to WTI, B C Choudhury said.

The project will be funded by the Gujarat forest department as WTI has signed a broader MoU with the state also, said Choudhury.

Choudhury, who conceptualised this project in the 2006, said that WTI got success in the initial experiments for conservation of the coral species at the proposed site which they think is fit to develop as coral garden.

As per the project plan of the Mithapur Coral garden, the reef will be separated into various sections where almost all the coral species will be made available at one place.

“The ‘Mithapur Coral Garden’ will be one of its kind and it will house nearly all coral species found in Gulf of Kutch. Just as in a terrestrial botanical park or garden, the reef will be separated into various sections, based on accessibility,” a report brought out by WTI and TCS which contains the proposed plan of the Mithapur Coral Garden said.

“The tidal pools are primarily targeted for the coral garden. Each pool will contain a variety of corals, and will give a special emphasis to the placement of different species.

It would be useful not only for education and tourism, but also restoration of the reef,” it said.

Tourists will be able to watch the beauty of corals as the authorities plan to have wading, snorkeling, diving, representative pool, jetty and boat anchoring areas in it, the report said.


‘Coral Garden’

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Maran pressurized Sivasankaran to sell his companies: CBI

News4u-News Desk-Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran had pressurized and forced Chennai-based telecom promoter C Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006, the CBI told a special court on Thursday.

“Accused number one (Dayanidhi Maran) forced Sivasankaran to sell his companies. He (Sivasankaran) sold his three firms to Malaysia’s Maxis Communication Berhad, accused number six,” the CBI told Special Judge O P Saini during arguments on consideration of charge sheet filed in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

The CBI had on 29th August filed the charge sheet in the case against Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanidhi Maran and six others, including four firms.

During the arguments on Thursday, senior public prosecutor K K Goel told the court, “In this case, seller (Sivasankaran) was the victim as he was not allowed to do his business by Dayanidhi Maran.”

He said, “Several issues relating to Sivasankaran’s firms were kept pending by Dayanidhi Maran, who was the then Telecom Minister, and no decision was being taken on them.

“There was strangulation of these three companies and they were unable to perform their business,” the agency said.

It said that as soon as Maxis Group bought Sivasankaran’s firms, all the pending issues were cleared by Dayanidhi Maran giving undue benefit to the Malaysian company.

“If accused number one (Dayanidhi) had cleared all the issues and had given licences and spectrum to Sivasankaran’s firms, then Maxis Group would have had to pay much more to buy the companies,” it claimed.

Besides the Maran brothers, the CBI has named Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan, Malaysian national Augustus Ralph Marshall and four firms-Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd, Maxis Communication Berhad, Astro All Asia Network PLC and South Asia Entertainment Holding Ltd-as accused in the case.

They have been chargesheeted for the offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The court, after hearing the submissions advanced by the prosecutor on Thursday, fixed the matter for further arguments on 22nd September.

“Documents which were returned to CBI for getting it scanned have been filed in the court. Same be taken on record. Arguments on cognisance heard for sometime. Documents are voluminous and their perusual would take sometime. Put up for further arguments on cognisance on September 22,” the judge said.

During the arguments, the agency claimed that Dayanidhi Maran, during his tenure as the Telecom Minister from February 2004 to May 2007, had allegedly abused his official position and showed undue favour to Ananda Krishnan-owned company.

Besides these accused, ex-Telecom Secretary J S Sharma, who has died, has also been named in the CBI’s charge sheet.

However, his name has been put in a column of the accused against whom trial cannot proceed.

The 72-page charge sheet includes the names of 151 CBI witnesses and a set of 655 documents, on which the agency has relied upon in its investigation.

Earlier, in a status report filed in the apex court, which is monitoring 2G scam probe, the CBI had said that during 2004-07 when Maran was the Telecom Minister, Sivasankaran was coerced to sell his stake in Aircel to Maxis Group.

According to the CBI, the Malaysian firm was favoured by Maran and granted licence within six months after the take over of Aircel in December 2006.

Maran, who has been examined by the CBI, has denied all the allegations levelled against him and his family members.


Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran

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New Foreign Trade Policy will be different: Govt

News4u-Business Desk- The new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) to be announced by the government soon would be different from the earlier policies; Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in New Delhi on Wednesday.

“Very soon the FTP will be unveiled. I can give you a broad idea, but not an intrinsic details. Whatever was the structure of earlier FTPs, it would be different from that,” she said while addressing a press conference on completion of the 100 days of the NDA government.

The Commerce Ministry is scheduled to announce the new five-year Foreign Trade Policy (2014-19) as it seeks to boost manufacturing and exports, among other things.

The new policy would focus on a wide range of issues, including services exports, standards and branding of products.

India’s exports in the last three years have been hovering around USD 300 billion, and steps are on to boost it further and enhance its contribution in the world trade.

All exports and import-related activities are governed by the FTP, mainly aimed at enhancing the country’s exports and use trade expansion as an effective instrument of economic growth and employment generation.

Services sector contributes about 55 percent to the country’s gross domestic product.

During May, services exports were about USD 14 billion. During April-June period of the current fiscal, exports grew 9.31 percent to USD 80.11 billion.

India’s exports in 2013-14 were worth USD 312.35 billion, lower than the targeted USD 325 billion.

The country’s exports stood at USD 300.4 billion in 2012-13 and USD 307 billion in 2011-12.


Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

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Pistorius ‘not guilty’ of murder

News4u-News Desk- “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Thursday as a South African judge dismissed the most serious charges against him.

“The state clearly has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder,” Thokozile Masipa said, before dealing with the lesser charge of culpable homicide -also known as manslaughter.

“Viewed in its totality the evidence failed to establish that the accused had the requisite intention to kill the deceased let alone with premeditation,” said Masipa.

“Clearly he did not objectively foresee this as a possibility, that he would kill the person behind the door,” she said as she later dismissed the lesser charge of common murder.

The 27-year-old sat in the dock bowed and burying his head in his hands after the finding was made.

Pistorius was charged with one count of murder and three firearms offences over the killing on Valentine’s Day 2013.

He could still be found guilty of culpable homicide, carrying anything from a suspended sentence to a lengthy prison stretch, or he could be acquitted.

A charge of premeditated murder would have meant a life sentence in South Africa’s notoriously brutal jails.


Pistorius ‘not guilty’ of murder

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Thai military should end repression, says Amnesty

News4u-News Desk- Thailand’s military government has engaged in human rights violations since the May coup and it should now end its repression, Amnesty International on Thursday said in a report.

The military took power May 22 after months of anti-government protests, saying it would return stability.

At least 27 people died during the six-month campaign by protestors to oust former leader Yingluck Shinawatra.

“Three months since the coup, a picture emerges from our investigations that of widespread and far-reaching human rights violations perpetrated by the military government,” Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director Richard Bennett said.

“The Thai authorities should end this disturbing pattern of repression, end human rights violations, respect its international human rights obligations, and allow open debate and discussion,” he added.

In an effort to adjust attitudes and stifle dissent, the military government known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has engaged in systemic arbitrary arrests and detentions of hundreds of people.

Although most were held for only up to seven days, they were detained without charge or trial and denied access to lawyers.

The report aslo said the military government had blocked more than 200 websites, closed television and radio stations and clamped down on peaceful protests.

It added that some civilians have been tried in military courts and denied the right to appeal.

“Members of the international community should take all opportunities to encourage Thailand’s military government to change its course and ensure the respect for human rights to achieve national reconciliation,” Bennett emphasised.


Amnesty

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Agni-1 successfully test-fired

News4u-News Desk- India on Thursday successfully test-fired it’s indigenously built nuclear capable Agni-I missile, which has a strike range of 700 km, from a test range off Odisha coast as part of a user trial by the Army.

The surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants, was test-fired from a mobile launcher at about 11.11 hrs from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from Balasore, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) spokesman Ravi Kumar Gupta said on Thursday.

Describing the trial as fully successful, Gupta said the ballistic missile was launched by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the army as part of a training exercise.

“The entire exercise was conducted in a perfect manner and the trial was totally successful,” he said.

“The DRDO developed medium range ballistic missile from the production lot was launched as part of regular training exercise by the armed forces,” said another official.

Agni-I missile has a specialised navigation system which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision.

The missile, which has already been inducted in to Armed Forces has proved its excellent performance in terms of range, accuracy and lethality.

Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-long Agni-I, which can carry payloads up to 1000 kg, has already been inducted into the Indian Army.

Agni-I was developed by advanced systems laboratory, the premier missile development laboratory of the DRDO in collaboration with Defence Research Development Laboratory and Research Centre Imarat and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.

The last trial of the Agni-I missile was successfully carried out on 12th April 2014 from the same base. It was first trial that was launched after sunset.


Agni-1 successfully test-fired

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Asiad takes down national flags over North Korea protest fears

News4u-Sports Desk- Organisers of the upcoming Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon have removed all national flags from streets near the venues amid protests about the flying of the North Korean flag.

“Between late Wednesday and early Thursday, the national flags were all removed from the streets,” an Asian Games organising committee spokesman said.

The move followed protests by anti-North Korean activists about the appearance of the North Korean flag in the venue neighbourhoods.

“We decided to withdraw the North Korean national flag along with all the other national flags,” the spokesman said.

The Yonhap news agency reported that the organisers were mainly concerned about the possibility of the North Korean flags being vandalised.

The national flags will still fly at all the venues, but the ones outside have been replaced by Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) flags and others showing the Games’ emblem.

The flags of participating nations had originally decorated streets near the main Games stadium at Incheon, outside the swimming and equestrian event venues and around a football stadium in Goyang city north of Seoul.

A Goyang municipal spokesman said conservative activists had peppered local officials with phone calls and texts protesting the flying of the North Korean flag.

North Korea is sending a 273-member delegation to the Asiad, which begins September 19. The first batch of athletes and officials was due to fly in to Incheon later Thursday. North Korean flags were flown along with those of other nations in the streets during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan and the 2003 Universiade in Daegu.

OCA rules dictate that national flags should be displayed in all stadiums and “their neighbourhood” — but the organising committee spokesman said the definition of neighbourhood was vague.

There was no immediate reaction from the OCA to the flag changes.

The North’s participation in the Incheon Asiad was only confirmed after months of tortuous, heated negotiations that coincided with a spike in military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Arguments over the size of the North Korean flag and Seoul’s refusal to foot the entire North delegation’s bill saw Pyongyang threaten a boycott over the South’s “arrogance.”


Asian Games

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PM chairs high level meeting; asks officials to ramp up relief ops

News4u-News Desk- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday directed officials to provide total support to the Jammu and Kashmir government to enable it ramp-up rescue and relief operations following massive floods in the state.

He also stressed on the need to quickly reach essential commodities to the affected people.

Chairing a high-level emergency meeting to review relief operations in the state late this evening, Modi emphasised that immediate attention be given to providing basic necessities like food and water to people severely affected by the calamity.

The Prime Minister directed that top priority be given to provision of essential commodities to affected people in Srinagar town. He also directed the Home Ministry to immediately depute senior officers from Delhi and other states to coordinate the relief operations with local administration in Srinagar, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Modi said there is a need for a massive effort to ensure basic hygiene and sanitation in the water-logged areas of Srinagar. The Prime Minister was informed that the process of restoration of telecommunication links has begun, with about 8000 landlines being activated in Srinagar. Mobile services have also been partially restored through service provider Aircel.

The Prime Minister directed officials to coordinate the relief efforts of voluntary organisations as well. The meeting was attended by Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Nripendra Misra, Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretaries of the central ministries and officials from the Defence forces.

A total of 76,000 people have been rescued so far by the Armed Forces and NDRF.

Arrangements are being made for provision of food, water and essential medicines, the statement said. The Army has deployed more than 30,000 troops in the relief operations while the IAF has pressed 80 aircraft in action including the C-17 transport aircraft along with helicopters


PM chairs high level meeting; asks officials to ramp up relief ops

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Obama vows to hit Islamic State ‘wherever they exist’

News4u-News Desk- Nearly six years after he entered the White House with a promise to end America’s decade of wars, President Barack Obama has reversed course with a vow to strike the Islamic State terrorists “wherever they exist”.

In a nationally televised address from the White House, a sombre looking Obama Wednesday night outlined a “steady, relentless” strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group with expanded airstrikes in Iraq as also neighboring Syria.

But even as he signalled a broader role for the US military, he suggested that “This mission will not be like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” and “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

“This effort will be a steady and relentless approach to take out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting our partners on the front lines,” Obama said.

“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” he said. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL (as he called IS) in Syria, as well as Iraq.

“This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Obama’s speech from the White House also sought to convince allies of a firm US commitment to lead an international coalition to fight the Sunni militants variously known as ISIS, ISIL and Islamic State.

“America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” he said. “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”

The president also announced another 475 American military advisers would go to Iraq, pushing the total figure to more than 1,000.

“We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today,” Obama said.

IS poses a threat to the Middle East, including the people of Iraq and Syria, he said, adding: “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including the United States.”

Later in an email Obama outlined his four point strategy as: conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists; increase support to the forces fighting them on the ground; working with partners prevent ISIL attacks; continue providing humanitarian assistance to the innocent displaced civilians.

“This is American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight for their own freedom. And we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity,” he said.

Commenting on Obama’s speech, the New York Times said the President had “effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and all but ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much like the one he inherited when he took office.”

Obama’s “plan may mark the first direct US intervention in Syria, a reversal of the White House’s long-held resistance to becoming entangled in its 3-year-old civil war,” said the Los Angeles Times.

The Washington Post called action against Islamic State a ‘legacy issue’ for Obama.

Noting that the president and his advisers have acknowledged that the campaign to defeat the Islamic State will take years, the influential daily said: “It is not a legacy the president expected to leave.”


President Barack Obama

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Govt asks UIDAI to generate 100 cr Aadhaar numbers by 2015

News4u-News Desk- The Government has approved Phase -V of Unique Identification project which entails generation of 100 crore Aadhaar numbers by 2015 including enrolments done under the National Population Register.

The government has also given go-ahead to the Unique Identification Authority of India, which is implementing the Aadhaar project, to undertake enrolments in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand.

“The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for Phase-V of the UID scheme for undertaking enrolments in the four States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand,” a press release said in New Delhi on Wednesday.

According to the statement, with this approval, the UIDAI has been given the target of generation of 100 crore Aadhaar numbers by 2015.

Generation of 100 crore Aadhaar or unique identification numbers includes UID numbers issued in respect of enrolments done under the National Population Register in 12 states and union territories allocated to it.

According to the CCEA decision, the comprehensive proposals regarding Aadhaar Sampark Kendra, Information, Education and Communication Campaigns, Document Management System and Rent Rates and Taxes, will be prepared by UIDAI and a revised cost estimate will be submitted for appraisal of the Expenditure Finance Committee.

UIDAI was established in 2009 with a mandate to generate and assign UID numbers to residents of India.

Under the UID scheme, enrolment is done by registrars through enrolment agencies, and the government provides outcome based financial assistance to them.

As on date, more than 67.38 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated by the UIDAI since August 2010, when the first such Aadhaar was generated.

The total expenditure incurred by UIDAI since inception is Rs 4,906 crore (as on August 31 2014).

The UID project aims to ensure inclusive growth by providing digital, online, verifiable identity to all residents, including marginalised sections of society.

It also aims at promoting efficient delivery of services and effective governance.


UIDAI

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