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Air India Express Flight Hits Wall at Tiruchi Airport, All Safe October 12, 2018 10:45

Air India Express flight passengers and crew which was bound for Dubai from Tiruchi had a fortunate escape after the aircraft hit an Instrument Landing System (ILS) antenna on the ground and brushed against the compound wall of the airport while departing early on Friday morning. All 129 passengers and seven crew members on board are safe and sound as the flight IX 611 was diverted to and landed in Mumbai.The Boeing 737-800 aircraft had first hit the antenna on the ground, which is a portion of the instrument system to guide pilots while landing, while taking off at around 1.20 a.m. It went on to brush against the compound wall of the airport close to the Tiruchi-Pudukottai Highway but the pilot still managed to maneuver and take off, sources at the airport and the airline told The Hindu.Airport sources said one of the three Very High-Frequency antennae on the aircraft was believed to have been damaged in the incident. However, airline officials said they do not have much information on which part of the aircraft had hit the antenna on the ground or the damage to the aircraft. Alternative arrangements were being made to take the passengers to Dubai from Mumbai, they said.Airport officials said that operations at the airport were not affected through the ILS has been hit. Since the weather in Tiruchi is not bad, the incident would not affect operations, they said.A senior official of the airport said investigations were on to determine the reason for the incident.By Sowmya Sangam

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Cyclone Titli: 2 Dead, Warning Issued for North-Coastal Andhra, Odisha October 11, 2018 15:56

A warning has been issued in north-coastal Andhra Pradesh and parts of Odisha, as cyclone Titli triggers heavy rainfall.According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the severe storm is being monitored by coastal Doppler weather radars in the regions of Visakhapatnam, Gopalpur, and Paradip.According to officials, it is very likely that the storm will be moving northwest in the following 12 hours, and then curve northeast towards Gangetic West Bengal and across Odisha.The storm is as well expected to weaken bit by bit, before it becomes a depression by morning on October 12.Officials in Andhra Pradesh are keeping a close tab on the storm reports, and have already begun rescue and relief operations.Two people have reportedly died as a result of the storms in Srikakulam’s Sarubujjili mandal. One man allegedly died after his house collapsed in the rains while another woman died after a tree fell on her.Authorities are expecting to see severe damage in the districts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. Fishermen have been warned not to go out into the sea and to suspend all fishing operations until further notice. Several of these areas have already seen the wide spread damage of electric poles and telecommunications due to rampant rains and wind in the region.Earlier, on Wednesday, the Centre had deployed 21 teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal in view of the impending storm.In an aspect of the storm warnings, several trains in the state have been canceled while some have been diverted.Srikakulam District Collector Dhanunjaya Reddy is supervising the rescue operations and cooperating with police and revenue authorities for the same.-Sowmya Sangam

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Odisha Sets Target of "Zero Casualty" as Cyclone Titli Approaches October 10, 2018 12:14

As cyclonic storm 'Titli' is moving towards the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh coast, the Odisha government on Tuesday is set to face the situation, setting a target of "zero casualtties". The Odisha government has ordered shut down of schools, colleges and Anganwadi centers in Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, and Jagtsinghpur from Wednesday.The government said Titli was likely to make landfall early on Thursday morning.In the meantime, the IMD issued a red alert in Odisha for Wednesday and Thursday, forecasting "heavy to very heavy rainfall" at several places and "extremely heavy rainfall" at isolated areas in the state.The state has put the districts on high alert and asked the authorities to evacuate those surviving in low-lying regions and in 'kutcha' houses along the coast."Zero casualty is part of the state government's disaster management policy. Stocking of food and shifting of people to cyclone shelters are also included in the policy," Chief Secretary A.P. Padhi told PTI.During previous cyclones such as Phailin in 2013 and Hudhud in 2014, the Odisha government had ensured zero casualties and earned laurels from the United Nations for successful disaster management.On Tuesday, Padhi reviewed the situation at a high-level meeting on Titli attended by all secretaries, special relief commissioner (SRC) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officers.Padhi said the IMD has forecast wind speed during Titli would be 100 to 110kmph, gusting to 125kmph. IMD has also mentioned that the cyclone Titli will further intensify into a severe cyclonic storm on Wednesday.On Tuesday night, Titli lay centered about 510km southeast of Gopalpur in Odisha and 460km east-southeast of Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.In the meantime, Deputy Special Relief Commissioner P.K. Mohapatra said around 300 motor boats have been arranged to assist in the rescue operations related to Titli.He said teams of NDRF and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) along with Fire Service personnel have been sent to various districts.All the 879 cyclone and flood shelters have been kept in a state of readiness for Titli, the officer added.-Sowmya Sangam

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Chattisgarh: 9 Killed, 14 Injured in Bhilai Steel Plant Blast October 09, 2018 16:22

A blast at the Chattisgarh's Bhilai Steel Plant killed nine workers and injured 14 on Tuesday, according to police.The explosion at the plant of the state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) occurred at about 10.30 a.m., the police said.The explosion took place in a gas pipeline connected to the coke oven section of the plant in Bhilai town, located around 30 km away from the Chhattisgarh capital Raipur, Inspector General of Police (Durg Range) G.P. Singh told said.According to preliminary information, more than 24 employees were working at the spot when the accident occurred, he said.Police personnel and a rescue team rushed to the spot, Singh said, adding that all the victims were being taken to a local hospital.Superintendent of Police of Durg district, Sanjeev Shukla said nine people were killed in the incident.A statement issued by the SAIL as well put the death toll at 9 and said 14 were undergoing medical treatment.It said there was a fire in gas pipe line of Coke Oven Battery Complex No. 11 during a scheduled maintenance job.The fire has been controlled, the SAIL said."All resources have been mobilized to provide adequate care to the injured," the statement said.As per SAIL's website, the Bhilai Steel Plant is India's sole producer and supplier of world class rails for the Indian Railways, plus 260 metre long rails, and a leading producer of a sizable variety of wide and heavy steel plates and structural steel.-Sowmya Sangam

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Aadhaar Mandatory for Second Time Treatment under Aayushman Bharat October 08, 2018 17:57

Aadhaar is not compulsory to avail benefits for the first time under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recently-launched Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) but will be mandatory for those seeking treatment under the flagship insurance scheme for the second instance, according to a top official.Just in case, the Aadhaar number is not available, beneficiaries have to at least provide documents to prove that they have enrolled for the 12-digit unique identity number, said Indu Bhushan, Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Agency, accountable for implementing Ayushman Bharat.The decision comes aftermath a Supreme Court order declaring the Aadhaar scheme was constitutionally valid."We are studying the Supreme Court order. Aadhaar number or at least documents to prove that one has enrolled for the 12-digit unique identity number will be mandatory to seek treatment under the (Ayushman Bharat) scheme for the second time. To avail benefits for the first time, one can either show Aadhaar or any other identity document like election card etc," Bhushan said.Ayushman Bharat was launched pan-India by PM Modi from Jharkhand on September 23.Since its roll-out, over 50,000 poor people have availed benefits of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, which has been touted as the world's largest health insurance programme, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda said. The government, under the scheme intents at rendering a coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family yearly, benefiting over 10.74 crore poor families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization through a network of Empanelled Healthcare Providers (EHCP).Over 14,000 hospitals both public and private, have been impanelled for the Ayushman Bharat scheme, and as many as 32 states and Union territories have signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with the Centre and will implement the programme.Odisha, Telangana, Kerala, and Delhi are not among states that have opted for the Ayushman Bharat scheme.-Sowmya Sangam

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Maharashtra Govt. Announces Cut in Petrol, Diesel Prices by Rs 2.50 October 04, 2018 17:55

The Maharashtra government on Thursday announced a reduction in petrol and diesel prices by Rs 2.50 per litre, which will give consumers state of ease to the tune of Rs 5 a liter.The announcement was made by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis soon after the central government proclaimed cut in the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 2.50 per liter."Maharashtra government also decided to give additional relief of Rs 2.50 per liter on petrol to give a total benefit of Rs 5 per liter in the state of Maharashtra," Fadnavis tweeted. Thank you Hon PM @narendramodi ji and Union Minister @arunjaitley ji for reducing ₹2.50/litre on both Diesel and Petrol. This will give huge relief to common citizens. — Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) October 4, 2018 Giving thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Fadnavis said the reduction in fuel prices will give a huge relief to citizens.The diminution followed petrol and diesel prices touching new highs.Maharashtra's Minister of State for Finance Deepak Kesarkar said historically, Maharashtra has always been reducing prices of fuel in accordance with the Centre.By Sowmya Sangam

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Chanda Kochhar Quits as CEO OF ICICI Bank October 04, 2018 17:21

The Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar, has quit around six months after getting involved in a nepotism scandal.ICICI Bank notified the Bombay Stock Exchange, on October 4 that it had accepted Kochhar's request for an early retirement.Sandeep Bakhshi, at one time CEO of its insurance subsidiary, ICICI Prudential Life, will take office as managing director and CEO, ICICI Bank said in a regulatory filing (pdf). ICICI Bank appointed Bakhshi, earlier in June as whole-time director and chief operating officer to manage the company.Kochhar's retirement comes about two years after a whistleblower first accused her of discrimination and favouritism in granting a loan to NuPower Renewables, a company established by her husband, Deepak Kochhar. The whistleblower's letter was sent to prime minister Narendra Modi, but resurfaced on a blog in March this year, placing Kochhar right in the eye of the ensuing storm.While ICICI Bank first renounced the allegations, it was shortly forced to launch an independent investigation, after the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Board of India began inquiries against Kochhar and the company. Meanwhile, Kochhar went on planned leave.The increased investigation came amidst the Indian banking sector's struggle with a mountain of bad debt and a series of embarrassing banking scams that wiped out billions of dollars. In this context, the accusations against Kochhar were too serious to ignore.Her move marks a bitter conclusion to the time period of a handful of successful women in the Indian banking sector.Over the past year, the industry has seen a number of key female leaders fall from grace, including Usha Ananthasubramanian, CEO of the public sector Allahabad Bank, and others who were forced to leave office following incumbency defaced by weakening profitability.By Sowmya Sangam

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Justice Ranjan Gogoi Takes Oath as Chief Justice of India October 03, 2018 16:22

Justice Ranjan Gogoi took oath as 46th Chief Justice of India on Wednesday, becoming the first chief of the apex court from the northeast.He was administered the oath of office at Rashtrapati Bhawan by President Ram Nath Kovind.The dignitaries attended for the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan's Darbar Hall were Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, and Ravi Shankar Prasad.Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh, H.D. Deve Gowda, along with Leader of Congress Party in the Lok Sabha Malikarjun Kharge were as well present.Justice Gogoi succeeds Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who resigned office on October 2. He will be in office for the period of 13 months and 15 days till November 17, 2019, when he will turn 65.Justice Gogoi is one of the four senior-most judges of the top Court, who had risen in revolt against Justice Misra in January when they held a press conference criticizing him on the constitution of benches.Justice Gogoi was enrolled as an advocate in 1978 and practiced at the Gauhati High Court of which he was made a Permanent Judge on February 28, 2001.On September 9, 2010, he was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court and became its Chief Justice on February 12, 2011. He was raised as a Judge of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012.Speaking at a seminar earlier this week, Chief Justice Gogoi said: "Pendency is bringing a lot of disrepute. In fact, if I may say so, it has the potential of making the system irrelevant" and "I have a plan and will unfold it."-Sowmya Sangam

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Sabarimala Verdict: Women of All Age Groups to be allowed in Kerala Temple September 28, 2018 12:39

The Supreme Court on Friday pronounced its verdict on the entry of women of menstrual age in Sabarimala temple, Kerala and said law and society are tasked with the task to act as levelers.In a 4:1 verdict, the top court granted women between the age of 10 to 50 entry into Sabarimala temple, breaking temple's antique tradition of restricting menstruating women from entering its premises. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra headed the five-judge constitution bench. In four sets of judgments, CJI Misra wrote for himself and Justice A M Khanwilkar, while Justice Indu Malhotra gave a separate dissenting verdict.By Sowmya Sangam

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Chemists on Nationwide Strike Over Center's Move to Regulate E-Pharmacies September 28, 2018 12:33

To protest the Center's move to regularize online pharmacies, the apex body of chemists has announced a day-long nationwide strike on Friday.The All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) has opposed the government's move, stating e-pharmacy poses threat to their business and could lead to the possibility of drug abuse."Repeated appeals have been made by the AIOCD through memorandums to the authorities and the departments concerned. The seriousness of the issue is evident through numerous cases of illegal online sale of medicines by the so-called e-pharmacies and online portals. The AIOCD has already observed two Bharat bandhs earlier. If the appeal does not get a positive response from the government, we will not have any other option than to call for a nationwide indefinite agitation. Chemist shops across the country will remain closed on September 28," said Sandeep Nangia, the organizing secretary of the AIOCD and the president of the Retail Distributors Chemists Association (RDCA).While the drug costs have been regulated by the government, online portals offer discounts as far as 70 percent against a 10 percent discount available at wholesalers.The AIOCD members alleged e-pharmacies would promote unreasonable usage of medicines and sale of specious drugs. "The government should crack down any online sale of medicines as it raises the risk of drug abuse. At present, online pharmacy business is going illegally and the government is not taking any action against it, hence, we have no alternative than to go on a strike to protect the health of the general public," said General Secretary of the AIOCD Rajiv Singhal.The Union Health Ministry, with an intent to regulate online sale of medicines across India and provide patients access to authentic drugs from reliable online portals, has come forth with draft rules on sale of drugs by e-pharmacies.  Related content: Health Ministry Bans Hundreds of Combination DrugsThe draft rules necessitate online pharmacies to be certified with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), the country's apex drug regulator and central licensing authority and acquire a trade license. The supply of any drug shall be made against a cash or credit memo generated through the e-pharmacy portal and such memos shall be maintained by the e-pharmacy registration holder as a record, the draft notification said. However, the sale of psychotropic drugs, tranquillizers, narcotics, and habit-forming drugs have been forbidden through these portals.By Sowmya Sangam

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Ayodhya Dispute: SC Declines to Refer to Five-Judge Bench September 27, 2018 16:36

In one of India's longest-running and most politically polarizing court cases - the Ayodhya dispute - has got into a crucial stage on Thursday. A three-judge bench of Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, with a 2:1 majority has declined to refer to a five-judge constitution bench on 1994 judgment that a mosque was not integral to Islam which had arisen during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute case. Justice Ashok Bhushan, who read out the judgment for himself and the CJI, said it has to determine the context in which the five-judge had delivered the 1994 judgment.Justice S Abdul Nazeer disagreed with the two judges and said whether the mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided considering belief of religion and it requires detailed consideration. Referring to the recent SC order on female genital mutilation, he said the present matter be heard by a larger bench. The apex court said now the civil suit on land dispute will be heard by a freshly constituted three-judge bench on October 29 as Justice Misra will retire on October 2 as the CJI. The issue whether the mosque is integral to Islam had cropped up when CJI Misra headed three-judge bench was hearing the batch of appeals filed against Allahabad High Court's 2010 verdict by which the disputed land on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid area was divided into three parts. A three-judge bench of the high court had ordered that the 2.77 acres of land be partitioned equally among three parties - the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.By Sowmya Sangam

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Supreme Court Unanimously Scraps Adultery Law September 27, 2018 13:05

The Supreme Court on Thursday, in its landmark judgement, scrapped the 150-year-old adultery law as unconstitutional.A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra clearly stated the equality is the need of the hour. He further added that time has come when the husband should not be considered the master. According to the adultery law, a man can be punished for having a sexual relationship with a married woman without the permission of her husband. The petitioners want Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code to be made gender neutral. In India, adultery is law-breaking and the punishment for the same can be imprisonment for five years, or fine, or both."Adultery cannot and should not be a crime. It can be a ground for a civil offense, a ground for divorce," said CJI Dipak Misra.The CJI spoke for himself and Justice A.M. khanwilkar. Justice R.F.nariman spoke of the fact that other countries have done away with it as a criminal offense.He said that the adultery law was against right to equality and life. Justice D Y Chandrachud spoke up against patriarchy and gender inequality to strike it down.CJI Misra restated that subordination of any sex over the other is clearly unconstitutional. The top court as well termed adultery law as manifestly arbitrary. Mere adultery can't be a crime unless something is added, the court observed.  The verdict was pronounced by a five-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice RF Nariman, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice AM Khanwilkar.Earlier on August 8, the bench had reserved its verdict after Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, concluded her arguments.During its previous hearing, incumbent CJI Dipak Misra observed, "Adultery can be a ground for divorce. It can be part of civil law involving penalties. But why a criminal offense?". The Victorian law had been defended by center, stating that continuation of the adultery law is vital as it ensures the holiness of marriage and is for the public good.An Indian entrepreneur Joseph Shine, based in Itlay and hailing from Kerala filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) earlier this year challenging IPC Section 497. He contended that the law is discriminatory. The petition argued that the adultery law was biased in the idea of women as a property of men.By Sowmya Sangam

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