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Cyclone to hit TN, Andhra by evening

Chennai: Cyclone Nilam is expected to make a landfall this evening between Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, bringing in heavy rains in the region, with tide levels reaching 1.5 meters.

"The cyclonic storm, which lay about 320 km south-south east of Chennai at 5.30pm on Wednesday, will move north-north westwards and cross north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh between Cuddalore and Nellore near Chennai by October 31 evening", a weather bulletin by the Met department said.

Storm surge of about one to 1.5 metres over the astronomical tide would occur, inundating low lying areas of Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, it said. Under the influence of the system, very heavy rainfall and extremely heavy rainfall (of 25 cm or more) is expected in the next 24 hours, it said.

"Rainfall at most places with isolated heavy to very heavy fall would occur over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and north Interior Tamil Nadu during the next 48 hours", it said.

Squally winds with speeds of 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph would prevail along north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and coastal Andhra Pradesh. The wind speed would gradually increase thereafter to touch 80-90 kmph as the system moves closer to the coast at the time of landfall, it said. The condition of the sea would be "high" along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coast during the next 36 hours, it said.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea in the next 48 hours. Back




Sandy leaves trail of devastation

NEW YORK: Rescue workers began evacuating stranded residents from flooded neighbourhoods after Sandy, the most devastating megastorm in decades, hit densely populated US East coast region, even as President Barack Obama warned that the storm was "not yet over".

The storm hit the East coast with fierce force, killing nearly 50 people across seven US states, plunging millions of homes into darkness and leaving the New York Stock Exchange shut for two straight days for the first time since 1888. Many of the victims were killed by falling trees, Fox news said.

Describing the crisis triggered by superstorm Sandy as "heartbreaking", Obama warned the storm was "not yet over".

"This storm is not yet over," Obama said during his trip to the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington.

Obama drove down to the Red Cross office headquarters to review rescue and recovery operation and said the federal government would push hard to provide resources to the States badly hit by Sandy.

According to a White House statement, Obama will travel to New Jersey to have a personal assessment of the devastation and take stock of the situation on the ground.

The trail of destruction left by the monster storm prompted President Obama to declare it a "major disaster" in New York and New Jersey.

New York and New Jersey combined together has one of the largest concentrations of Indian-Americans in the US. Quite a number of Indian-Americans, particularly in New Jersey, had to leave their homes and had to be evacuated after their houses were flooded.

Recovery efforts took off late last night. The number of people shivering without power fell below 7 million, down from nearly 8 million reported earlier in the day across 15 states and the District of Columbia.

Two of the New York area's major airports, John F Kennedy and Newark Liberty, were set to reopen today together with the New York stock exchange and the Nasdaq exchange, which had been suspended since Monday in the markets' first closure since the 9/11 attacks of 2001, officials said. PTI



Kejriwal set for another expose today

New Delhi: India Against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal is all set to expose 'something big' on Wednesday in New Delhi.

The IAC has also confirmed this and Kejriwal has also tweeted about the plan to come out with another revelation on Wednesday evening.

Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Wednesday morning: "Watchout for today's expose. It cud be pretty big."

Kejriwal had earlier targetted Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, DLF's land deals in Haryana, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari in the Maharashtra irrigation scam and Salman Khurshid for his NGO's functions in Uttar Pradesh.

On Tuesday, BJP mouthpiece Kamal Sandesh asked the Union government to investigate the possible foreign funding of Kejriwal. Ironically, this happened at a time when Congress mouthpiece Congress Sandesh also attacked Kejriwal for "hit-and-run" tactics without naming him.

"The  main game of Kejriwal may be related to funding. We should know if the funds belong to India or the forces which want to weaken the country. The government should find out who has given the 'supari' to Kejriwal," the Kamal Sandesh edit says. However, the sharply-worded edit in the latest issue of Kamal Sandesh does not substantiate the charges made. Back




Ready to face probe, says Gadkari

MUMBAI: Reiterating that corruption charges against him were part of a conspiracy, BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said he had assets worth Rs.12.5 crore and was ready for any kind of probe. 

Gadkari, who arrived in Mumbai on Wednesday morning, was welcomed by hundreds of supporters at the airport. “There are attempts being made to slander me, to destroy my reputation,” he said. “My assets are worth Rs 12.5 crore and I am ready to face any probe,” he told reporters.

Gadkari also blamed a section of the media for targeting him and maintained that he had been fighting for the right of farmers. He said he had no business links or partnership with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Rajya Sabha MP Ajay Sancheti — named as involved in an irrigation scam in Maharashtra. 

“I have been fighting for the rights of farmers in Maharashtra, especially irrigation in Vidarbha region. Kejriwal says that in my sugar factory, I use 100 per cent of the water from the dam — whereas the water used in the factory is less than one percent,” he said. 

He also denied involvement in a 2009 case of a young girl found dead in a car parked at his home in Nagpur. Gadkari said he was cleared after a probe in the case, but the media continued to hound him. 

He also reiterated that the allegations against his company, Purti Group, were false. 

India Against Corruption (IAC) member Arvind Kejriwal had levelled allegations related to land deals in Maharashtra against the BJP chief. The latest allegations against Mr. Gadkari are about improper business dealings as chairman of the Purti Group. 

The Income Tax Department and the Company affairs ministry have begun separate inquiries into Mr. Gadkari’s firm and its financial dealings with 26 investor companies. 

Earlier this month, another IAC member, Anjali Damania, alleged that Gadkari had acquired 100 acres of farmers’ land through dubious means for his trust. Gadkari refuted these charges too. — IANS




Kataria now MoS Rural Development

New Delhi: Minister of State Lalchand Kataria, who was at the centre of much confusion following his appointment as MoS Defence, has had his portfolio reassigned to that of Rural Development.

Kataria was a first time appointee to the Cabinet, and the decision to give him Defence caught many by surprise, especially given that MoS Defence Jitendra Singh was also from Rajasthan.

The re-appointment comes following a meeting between Kataria and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.

Kataria had refused to take charge in Defence Ministry and official sources said he conveyed to the Prime Minister that since the other Minister of State Jitendra Singh also hailed from Rajasthan like him, he would find it difficult to work in the Defence Ministry. Kataria was not the only change in the newly appointed Cabinet however.

In two other changes, Milind Deora, Minister of State (MoS) in Telecommunication and Information Technology Ministry, got the additional portfolio of Shipping in the same rank and Panabaka Laxmi, who was made MoS in the Textile Ministry on Sunday, was reallocated the Petroleum and Gas Department.Back




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