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Expert group on Kudankulam nuclear project set up 

New Delhi: To assuage the fears of the locals and the Tamil Nadu government, the Centre on Thursday announced setting up of a 15-member group of experts over the Kudankulam nuclear plant project.

"We have set up a 15-member group of experts," officials said here. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Wednesday night said that the committee promised by him to convince stakeholders in the Kudankulam nuclear power project would be set up on Thursday.

The group of experts from various disciplines such as radiation safety, reactor safety, oncology, fisheries and nuclear waste management will interact with the local population in and around Kudanakulam where two 1000 MW nuclear power plants built with Russian collaboration are in advanced stages of completion. The project has run into a rash of protests as it approaches final stages of commissioning with concerns being raised over environmental impact and fears of radiation fears in the wake of the Fukushima accident in Japan.

Singh had regretted that his letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on the subject had not reached her, an issue on which she had criticised him. "Well I am sorry. I have seen that comment," he had said when pointed out that Jayalalithaa had stated that she had not received any letter from the Prime Minister about which she had read in newspapers.

At the same time, he had said, "I do feel that we can give reasonable satisfaction to all the stakeholders who are worried about the safety of the atomic energy plant at Kudankulam." Blaming the Centre's "inaction" for the stalemate over the plant issue, Jayalalithaa had said that her government was firm on suspension of the work on the controversial project till people's concerns were addressed.



UP Assembly polls: SP announces candidates 

Lucknow: The Samajwadi Party has announced the names of two more candidates and changed its nominees at eight places for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. State president Akhilesh Yadav has announced Amir Alam and Ashok Gangwar as party candidates from Meerapur and Bisalpur Assembly segments respectively, party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said on Thursday.

The assembly segments where the party has changed its candidates include Purkazi, Barkhera, Puranpur, Karta, Balamau, Maharjpur, Mehnagar and Ajgara. The party has so far decided candidates for 387 of the 403 Assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh which goes to polls next year.




Kiran Bedi accused of inflating bills

New Delhi, Already plagued by internal dissensions, Team Anna plunged into yet another controversy on Thursday with allegations against Kiran Bedi that she charged her hosts full fare on air tickets while availing discounts but the activist claimed there was "no personal" gain.

Allegations were levelled against Bedi, a key member of Team Anna, that she used her gallantry medal to get 75 per cent discount on Air India tickets and then submitted inflated invoices to claim full fare from the organisers who have invited her to the function.

It was also alleged that she claimed business class fare even when she was travelling in economy class. Reacting to the allegations, Bedi said, "Business class travel is part of the invitation/entitlement from the event organisers/corporates I'm asked to speak at. Travelling economy is a choice despite entitlement is to ensure that savings remain with the NGO. "(There is) no personal gain here. Sorry to disappoint detractors trying real hard to find a smoking gun. However, I accept this kind of coverage as a part of the challenges which being in public life poses," she said adding the money "saved" went to NGO India Vision Foundation run by her. "I have nothing to hide. Whatever money came from the organisers of functions, it went to the institution," Bedi said adding she was "not a beneficiary" in this case as all the money she got went into her NGOs.

"I get a lot of money through my lectures and royalty on books. I donate it to the NGOs," she later told reporters.

She also claimed that she herself downgraded her travel and even organisers knew about it. "The person is aware that I am downgrading my travel. Organisers appreciate it. They say we appreciate your gesture that you have saved money for the foundation."



Food inflation in double digits at 10.60% for week ended Oct 8

New Delhi: Food inflation is back in double digits after a gap of a month-and-a-half and stood at 10.60 per cent for the week ending October 8 on the back of costlier vegetables, fruits, milk and protein-based items. Food inflation, as measured by Wholesale Price Index (WPI), stood at 9.32 per cent in the previous week. The rate of price rise of food items stood at 15.72 per cent in the corresponding week of 2010.

As per data released by the government on Thursday, vegetables became 17.59 per cent more expensive year-on-year during the week ended October 8. Fruits grew dearer by 12.39 per cent, milk by 10.80 per cent and eggs, meat and fish by 14.10 per cent on an annual basis.

Pulses also became dearer by 7.42 per cent and cereal prices were up 4.73 per cent year-on-year.

However, onions became 11.27 cheaper and wheat prices were down 0.18 per cent during the week under review.





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