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Monday, September 7, 1998
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Animals flee as Kaziranga is inundated

KAZIRANGA, Sept 6 (UNI) — Flood waters have inundated the world famous Kaziranga National Park, forcing almost all animals to flee, official said.

The 430 sq km park is under 18 feet of flood waters.

The national park Director, Mr B.S. Bonal, admitted that this year's flooding was worse than the great flood of 1988.

"There is nothing to protect inside the park. All the animals have fled", said Mr J. Bora, officer of the Bagoria range which is the home of more than 50 per cent of the animals in the entire park.

While the extent of damage is yet to be ascertained, the Diphaloo river which runs through Kaziranga have merged with the mighty Brahmaputra river, submerging the entire park. In fact, the flood waters now threaten to inundate even the electric and telephone posts near the National Highway No 37, which runs parallel to its southern boundary.

"This is a Herculean task considering the fact that almost every village has to be guarded besides the national highway", said Mr Bonal who set up the National Highway Patrolling Squad.

The forest guards in a group of four were seen patrolling in the dead of the night amid torrential rains on the national highway to ensure that speeding vehicles did not knock down the fleeing, hungry animals.



Naval Prithvi testing soon

NEW DELHI, Sept 6 (UNI) — Prithvi-III, the naval version of the indigenous medium range missile, is expected to be ready for test-firing as it is being developed at a fast pace, Defence Ministry sources said today.

"The Prithvi-III project has virtually acquired the status of a fast-track project as Prithvi-I has been inducted in the Army and the development work on Prithvi-II for the Indian Air Force has already been completed," the sources said.

While the sources declined to divulge the exact time frame for testing and trials of the naval Prithvi, they stressed that the entire attention was now focussed on its development as work on the Army and Air Force variants of the missile had already been completed.

"Attention of this magnitude is bound to give quick results," the sources said while refusing to give any further details.

It is understood that the naval Prithvi will have the distinction of being capable of launch from both a ship or a submarine.

Defence Minister George Fernandes has also confirmed that India has begun developing ‘Sagarika’, a missile which can be launched from a ship or a submarine.

Defence Ministry sources said that ‘Sagarika’ and ‘Prithvi-III (naval Prithvi) were one and the same thing or two sides of the same coin. "These (Sagarika and Prithvi-III) are two different acronyms for the same missile for the Indian Navy which is under development," the sources explained.

It is understood that the naval Prithvi will be a cruise missile. While initially the ship-launch version would be developed, it would subsequently be upgraded to a submarine-launch variant.

The experience gained in the wake of the indigenous integrated guided missile development programme is said to be coming in handy in the development of Prithvi-III.

The success achieved in the development of Army and Air Force variants of the Prithvi has placed India among a select band of countries that have the technology to divert the path of a missile after launch to pinpoint a desired target.

India has already field tested the multiple trajectory manoeuvrability control missile technology during the development of Prithvi so far.

The naval Prithvi is understood to be a more complex system to develop as its guidance system would perforce have to be capable of operating in two mediums-sea and air.

The ultimate induction of a missile like the naval Prithvi is expected to lend a lot of punch to the Indian Navy as it was expected to enhance its reach.

Only a few countries are said to possess missiles like the naval Prithvi, which can be launched from both ships and submarines. Submarines are said to have the capability of going near the shores of adversaries and launch missiles from there deep inside enemy territory.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, father of India’s missile programme, recently said that India’s missiles developed indigenously were comparable to the very best in the world and had been developed at a much lower cost.

The successful development of Prithvi-III will mark another milestone for the country’s integrated guided missile development programme (IGMDP).

Agni-I, the technology demonstrator perfecting re-entry technology, has been successfully completed as part of the IGMDP. The 2,500 km plus is also almost ready and will be test-fired for the first time in the "very near future."

Development of other missiles under the IGMDP-Trishul, Akash, Nag-is at an advanced stage.

User trials of short range quick reaction surface-to-air missile Trishul are expected towards the end of this year.

The development of medium range surface-to-air missile Akash and the anti-tank Nag missile is expected to be completed next year.



Ganga threatens Malda areas

MALDA: Normal life continued to be out of gear in the flood-hit Malda town with no sign of let-up in the nature’s fury that put the fate of people in an uncertain future.

As most areas of the town remained under water up to 5 feet, the situation threatened to be worse with the Ganga, already flowing at a record high level, maintaining a steady rising trend as continuous rain resumed this morning.

Flood waters entered ground floors of many houses forcing the inmates to take shelter in the first floor or elsewhere while most of the roads remained waterlogged disrupting communication.

The situation was grim in the low-lying areas where water engulfed shanties and thatched houses rendering many people homeless.

While most of the people remained indoors in the badly-affected areas, boats and rafts were sailing for emergency transportation.

The situation is being compounded with fresh areas being hit by the onslaught of the flood waters that entered the town through the sluice gates and the nose of a 25 km-long guard embankment from the Farakka barrage to Malda.

Although work was on with the help of the Border Security Force to drain out the accumulated water by cutting open a barrier in the Indo-Bangladesh border, the same volume of water was entering everyday from the swollen Ganga leaving the town completely at the nature’s mercy.

The supply of electricity to the town continued to be dislocated for the past three days as flood waters deluged three power substations here forcing the authorities to shut down operation.

The spectre of an epidemic loomed large over the town with a high incidence of gastroenteritis being reported. According to official estimates, at least 20 persons had so far died and about 1400 affected by the disease in the whole Malda district.


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