Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fast spread of 'wild' disease worries city docs

CHENNAI: When a 54-year-old woman from Chintadripet was admitted to Apollo Hospitals earlier this week with severe breathing difficulty, diarrhoea and high fever, doctors initially suspected pneumonia. But when the doctors saw a little black scar on her hip, the diagnosis was rewritten asscrub typhus — a rare zoonotic disease usually contracted from the wild. What puzzled doctors was that the patient had not travelled anywhere outside the city recently.

While Apollo Hospitals alone claims to have seen at least 200 such cases this year, compared to just 15 in 2009, many other city hospitals, such as Kanchi Kamakoti Childs Trust, say that they too have seen similar numbers in children. The disease spreads through bites of chiggers (mites found in forests). The mite injects a bacterium, called rickettsia tsutsugamushi, into the blood stream.

"In more than 60% of the cases, the indicator is the mite bite mark. We can also do a simple blood (ELISA) test. This picks up the antibodies and confirms infection," said Dr V Ramasubramanian, consultant, department of infectious diseases, Apollo Hospitals. "We normally see such cases in people who have travelled to forests. But the patients we see today are city dwellers with no travel history to forests or densely vegetative regions. This means that the mite could be in our gardens or on roadside shrubs."

300 city buses broke down on poor roads

CHENNAI: Rain-battered city roads have proved costly to the Metropolitan Transport Corporation, whose buses are increasingly suffering from breakdowns and punctured tyres.

As many as 327 buses in the city and the suburbs broke down in the last month, mainly due to poor road conditions, sources said. Also, tyres of 30 to 40 MTC buses get punctured every day as they cannot withstand the damaged roads.

Many crew members said they were unable to run the buses on schedule, and it was taking an average of two hours more to complete the trips due to bad roads
.

Jayalalithaa makes friend Sasikalaa party executive committee member

CHENNAI: AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa has quietly reinstated Sasikalaa, her confidante who lives with her in her Poes Garden residence here, as a member of the party's executive committee.

While no official release was issued by the AIADMK about Sasikalaa's nomination to the party's executive committee, which includes 65 other women, the decision has been communicated to the party members. "This is nothing new. She has been a general council and executive committee member for several years now," observed an AIADMK senior. But significantly, this year, there is a clamour among Sasikalaa's relatives and influential members of the AIADMK hailing from her dominant Thevar community to also give her a key party post. Some are even suggesting the post of deputy general secretary.

"How does a post matter when Sasikalaa is practically running the party along with Amma?" remarked a former minister in the party. According to him, Jayalalithaa's long-time friend is an "excellent organiser" of field workers. "She knows every union and town secretary by name. She coordinates every day with the informal committees that the party has constituted in every region to monitor the functioning of party office-bearers. There is nothing that happens in the party that she does not know or is not aware of."

With Jayalalithaa having sidelined all the family members of Sasikalaa, including a couple of her high profile nephews, the more recent being Dr K Venkatesh, who was stripped off the post of the party's youth wing secretary, there is a feeling within the family that a member should have a formal representation in the party's top echelons. But focussing her stinging diatribes on Karunanidhi's indulgence of his family members and dynastic rule in the run up to the assembly election, Jayalalithaa may not be in a hurry to reward her closest friend with an influential post.

Sasikalaa's closeness to AIADMK supremo has been openly acknowledged by Jayalalithaa herself. However in August 1996, soon after the party's disastrous showing in the assembly election that year, Jayalalithaa was forced to distance herself from her friend. Jayalalithaa had then issued a statement saying that thousands of partymen had expressed the view that the AIADMK suffered defeat in the 1996 assembly polls mostly because of "the activities" of her friend's family. But about a year later, Sasikalaa was back in Poes Garden.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2G scam: Jaya wants CBI ton probe Maran

Chennai, Dec 17 : All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa on Friday demanded interrogation of tainted A Raju's nephew Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran in connection to the 2G spectrum allocation scam.



 "Resignation of Raja is not the end of 2G controversy, it's just the beginning. The scam reached Himalayan heights during Raja's tenure, his predecessors and his nephew Dayanidhi Maran. So Maran should be interrogated too," Jayalalithaa told reporters.

She welcomed the Supreme Court initiative in monitoring the ongoing 2G scam probe being conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

But she was critical of the investigating agency for not questioning Raju on the scam.

"The CBI let go Raju without interrogating him. That's why I insist, there should be a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe on the scam," the AIDMK chief said.

Stating that it was convinced of irregularities in granting of telecom licences, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the CBI to extend its probe in the process of awarding telecom licences from 2001 and function without any influence.

It directed the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file a status report on the investigations in a sealed envelope to the court on February 10, 2011.

CBI showed 'monumental lethargy' in 2G scam probe: Jaya

Chennai: Charging CBI with showing "monumental lethargy" in its probe of the 2G spectrum scam, AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa on Friday said she welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to monitor the probe but the Centre should not use it to duck the opposition's demand for a JPC.

"I welcome the Supreme Court's announcement that it would monitor the CBI probe into the 2G spectrum allocations scam. I also welcome the Supreme Court's insistence that the investigation should cover actions of the Telecom Department right from 2001," she said in a statement here.  The apex court had yesterday widened the investigation in the case by bringing in its ambit the telecom policy from 2001 to 2008, covering both the NDA and the UPA regimes.

Charging the investigating agency with showing "monumental lethargy" in its probe, Jayalalithaa said the recent "spurt of activities" of CBI had come only after the Supreme Court asked why it was "dithering" on the issue and why former Telecom Minister A Raja had not been questioned.

By expanding the CBI probe ambit to 2001, the tenure of former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran would also come under scrutiny, she said

However, Jayalalithaa said the Centre should not use the Supreme Court-monitored investigation to "duck" the combined opposition's demand for a JPC probe.

"The scope of the CBI investigation is limited to certain parameters. It cannot and will not include the conspirators and accessories to the scam, many of whom are in positions of considerable political power, both in the state and at the Centre. The whole truth has to come out. And for this, a JPC probe is the only solution," she said.

She said her party would continue to insist on a JPC probe into the matter and join hands with all like-minded parties in pressing for this "very justified demand". 

Biography of Senthamizhan Seeman

BIOGRAPHY

Name: Seeman
Sex: Male

ABOUT SEEMAN:

Sen'tamizhan Seeman (Sebastian Seeman), better known mononymously as Seeman, is a Tamil film director and actor in Tamil Nadu, India. He is a well known Tamil activist and one of the open supporters for oppressed tamils in TamilNadu and Srilanka Separate Tamil Eelam


Early life and career
Seeman born at Aranaiyur village near Paramakudi Town in Ramnad District , Tamil Nadu, India. After a few years of working with director Balu Mahendra as an assistant, he began working in Tamil films as a director with his first film being Panchalankurichi in 1997 with Prabhu Ganesan in the lead.
He later directed Iniyavalae and Veeranadai the consecutive two years. He directed Thambi in 2006 which was critically acclaimed. His latest film was Vaazhthugal which released in 2008.Seeman has sound background in karate, Silambam and other types of martial arts.


As of 2007, he began his acting career, debuting in the film Pori. Since, he has essayed supporting roles in films like Evano Oruvan and Mayandi Kudumbathar.


Controveries
Seeman has met with numerous controversies, largely linked to his support of the Tamil Tigers and its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.


Hunger strike arrest
On 24 October 2008, Seeman was arrested after taking part in a rally condemning state atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka, organized by director Bharathiraja, also a Tamil activist, and other prominent Tamil directors, actors, and producers. The rally was part of statewide protests across Tamil Nadu in 2008 condemning the Government of Sri Lanka's role in the Sri Lankan Civil War.


During the rally, Seeman and fellow director Ameer Sultan made speeches criticizing the Indian government and expressing support to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a Tamil separatist group on the island which has been alleged as a "terrorist group" by India and many other countries. The two were later released on bail with the help of their assistant directors, Bharathiraja, and actor R. Sarath Kumar.


Deportation from Canada
Seeman attended several Maaveerar Day events in Toronto, Canada on 27 November 2009 and delivered an anti-Sinhalese and pro-Tamil Tiger speeches and also announced the launch of a new movement called "We are Tamils" (Naam Thamizhar Iyakkam).


The RCMP (The Royal Canadian Mounted Police) arrested him after he delivered a hate-speech against the Sinhalese ("not a single Sinhalese should live") in a speech to the Canadian Tamil Youth and deported him back to India. Following Seeman's deportation was the fire-bombing of the residence of E. V. K. S. Elangovan by a few individuals, including an unnamed assistant film director.

Tamil NGO raided by CBI to continue its work

Chennai: The NGO linked to DMK MP Kanimozhi that was raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday said it would carry on its work of promoting Tamil culture and was confident its name would be cleared soon.

 "The raid has affected the public perception of Tamil Maiyam. People may doubt whether the trust is a beneficiary of 2G spectrum scam money. We are now taking action to correct any such negative perception," the NGO's founder and managing trustee Jegath Gaspar Raj told IANS.

 He said he is confident the name of Tamil Maiyam would be cleared as he actively cooperated with the CBI officials during the search. All the board members of the trust had called him up and expressed their solidarity with the trust, Raj added.

 Formed in 2002, Tamil Maiyam's main objectives are to promote Tamil art, literature and culture, and to create a platform for Tamil people across the world to interact, relate and work together for the betterment of Tamil as a language and Tamil society.

 Raj, a Catholic priest, said the Rs.4 crore Chennai Sangamam - an annual festival of Tamil Nadu's folk arts held here - will be held as scheduled and work to raise funds was on.
 "We have already raised about 30 percent of the event budget and are confident of raising the balance to hold the event," he said.

 The other major event organised by Tamil Maiyam is the Chennai Marathon at an outlay of Rs.2 crore.

 On the NGO's assets, he said it has a stability fund of Rs.1 crore, the interest from which is used to pay the salaries of 15 staff (13 full time and two part time). 

 "The total assets of the trust will be around Rs.1.5 crore," Raj said.

 Asserting the NGO has not received any of the 2G spectrum scam money, he admitted it had received Rs.300,000 from Green House Promoters for conducting the Chennai Sangamam. 

 Offices of the city-based Green House Promoters were searched by the CBI as it was promoted by a close associate of former communications minister A.Raja. The CBI also searched Raja's residences in New Delhi and in his native Perambalur in Tamil Nadu and that of his brothers and sisters in the raidsWednesday.

 Raj said he was not sure why the CBI raided his NGO. "It could be a combination of reasons like stifling my views on the Sri Lankan Tamils, association of DMK's Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi with the trust or his view that Raja should not be tried by the media," he said.

 Kanimozhi, daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi, joined Tamil Maiyam as one of the board members in 2006.

 However Raj discounted the possibility of the trust being targeted by CBI as a warning signal to theTamil Nadu's first family members.

 "I don't think a central investigating agency would do that," Raj said.

 Raj assailed Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and political commentator Cho Ramaswamy for terming him a LTTE agent.

 "I have consulted legal advisors and may file a criminal defamation suit against them," he said.

HC discharges TN Minister from wealth case



madras_highcourtChennai: The Madras High Court on Friday discharged Tamil Nadu Tourism and Registration Minister N Suresh Rajan from a disproportionate asset case holding that properties standing in the name of his parents could not be held to be his own.

Discharging Suresh Rajan and his parents from the case, Justice Aruna Jagadeesan of the high court's Madurai bench said the properties in the name of his parents could not be held to be his own and in the absence of any investigation into his individual income.

Pronouncing the order in Chennai, the Judge said: "There is no acceptable reason to club others as the properties of Suresh Rajan."

Vigilance and Anti Corruption department had registered a case under the provisions of Prevention Corruption Act against Suresh Rajan in 2001.

The Department had alleged that being a public servant he had committed an offence of criminal misconduct for acquiring wealth and resources being in possession in the name of his parents which was disproportionate to his known sources of income to the extent of 17.20 lakh as on May 14, 2001. 
Suresh Rajan was Tourism Minister in DMK government during 1996-2001.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate-cum-Special Judge, Nagercoil, had declined to discharge Suresh Rajan and his parents from charges levelled against them, following which they moved the high court's Madurai Bench.

2G Scam: CBI sends seized computers for forensic analysis

A. Raja speaks during a news conference in New Delhi January 18, 2006. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files
A. Raja speaks during a news conference in New Delhi January 18, 2006. REUT...
New Delhi: The CBI is trying to decipher the information stored in over a dozen computers seized from the premises of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and former TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal among others raided by the agency in connection with the probe into 2G scam.

The probe agency has sent these computer systems and laptops for a detailed analysis at the Forensic Sciences Laboratory to retrieve the information stored in their hard disc drives, official sources said today.

Sources said the forensic analysis besides focusing on information available on the hard drive will use special tools to retrieve any possible deleted information which might have linkages to the scam.

Official sources said the computers were also seized from the premises of alleged hawala operators Mahesh and Alok Jain besides from the 17 companies raided by it yesterday. These have been sent for forensic analysis to retrieve any possible deleted information.

They said the agency was looking for specific information about possible money laundering or anything to indicate any payback.

Sources said the agency is also analysing thousands of pages of documents seized and has specifically roped in officers knowing Tamil language.

Any information regarding violation of country's foreign exchange laws and possible money laundering will be given to Enforcement Directorate, sources said.

The CBI had raided premises of Green House Promoters Pvt Ltd, Equaas Estates Pvt Ltd, Kadir Kamam Estates, Shivakaman Estates, Kowai Shelters Promoters, AGM Investments and finances, Wellcone Telecom, Sally Road Systems Pvt Ltd and Genex Exim Ventures Pvt Ltd.

Besides, premises of J G group, Ayyapa Pvt Ltd and Sally Thermoplastics were raided.

Yesterday's raids were a follow-up of searches carried out on December 8 at the residence of Raja and his four close associates including his personal secretary R K Chandolia in connection with the scam.

The CBI had on October 21 last year registered a case against unknown officials of Department of Telecommunication and unknown private persons or companies and others under different Sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.

47-year-old Raja was forced to resign as minister on November 14 in the wake of the CAG report that said rates at which 2G spectrum was allotted resulted in a possible loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore

2G scam raids won't affect Congress-DMK alliance: Kanimozhi

Maya Ravan DVD
Chennai:  Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi, whose father, M Karunanidhi, is the party chief, said the raids against some of its closest associates in connection with the 2G scam will not affect its alliance with the Congress.

"This (the raids) is a process to show we are clean and DMK is very open to it," said Kanimozhi.

 On Wednesday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the office of Tamil Maiyam, an NGO in which Kanimozhi is on the Board of Directors, in connection with the 2G scam.

CBI sleuths also conducted raids at the residence of former Telecom Minister A. Raja's brother and sister at Srirangam in Tiruchirappalli district. Their residences had been raided last week too.

The CBI raided the residence of Kamaraj, Associate Editor of Tamil magazine 'Nakkeran'.

The CBI also raided the office and residence of corporate lobbyist Nira Radia in connection with scam.
Former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Pradeep Baijal's home is also being raided by the CBI sleuths.

Baijal was the TRAI chief between 2004 and 2008. He joined Radia's firm in 2009.

Last week, the CBI raided the house of former Telecom Minister A Raja in Delhi, and with his houses in Tamil Nadu in connection with the scam.

There were searches in 14 places and important papers were recovered.

Raids were also being carried out at the residences of former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, member Telecom K Sridhar, Deputy Director General, Department of Telecom, A.K. Srivastava and RK Chandolia.

The CBI has earlier searched offices of Wireless Planning Cell (WPC), the department responsible for allocating Spectrum, and the office of Deputy Director General (Access Services) of the Telecom Ministry to probe the allegations of connivance of officials with private companies in allocation of Spectrum.

Raja was forced to resign as Minister on last month in the wake of the CAG"s report that the rates at which 2G spectrum was allotted resulted in a possible loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back from Delhi, Baalu meets CM at Yelagiri

CHENNAI: As suspense heightened over chief minister M Karunanidhi's hush-hush trip to the Yelagiri hills, DMK parliamentary party leader TR Baalu met him on Tuesday and is said to have briefed him on the recent developments in New Delhi. The interaction assumes significance coming as it does in the wake of Baalu's meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday in New Delhi, ostensibly to seek flood relief assistance for the state.

Baalu had a brief interaction with the Prime Minister on Monday during which he is said to have handed over a memorandum from the chief minister, detailing the damages caused by heavy rains and floods across the state and seeking an interim assistance of Rs 1,600 crore. DMK sources say that Karunanidhi might have summoned the senior leader to get a briefing on the reactions in the capital to the spectrum controversy and also to guage the mood of the Congress leadership. Karunanidhi drove back to Chennai on Tuesday night.

With the DMK supremo leaving the city on Monday morning for quiet rumination in the Yelagiri hills, the indications were that Karunanidhi had sought solitude, away from pressures from within the party and his family. During his two-day sojourn, Karunanidhi met a few of his close associates, including state law minister Duraimurugan and Union minister of state for information and broadcasting S Jagathratchagan. However, the chief minister's office denied that former Union minister A Raja had called on Karunanidhi at Yelagiri. While Raja stayed away from New Delhi on Monday, the last day of the winter session of Parliament, he chose to remain in Chennai.

No official reason was given for Karunanidhi's two-day visit to Yelagiri without the usual official paraphernalia or any of his family members in tow. According to party sources, Karunanidhi chose to take the two-day break to keep away from family members as well as sections within the party to "think over the various controversies troubling the DMK and to work out a solution to tide over the crisis". The usual flood of statements and letter to partymen' published regularly in the party organ Murasoli' were missing for two days. But with few people around him, the DMK patriarch is said to have relaxed in the cool hills, a change from his hectic official routine.

Justice Reghupathi refuses to join issue on Raja

Chennai: Former Madras High Court Judge Justice S Reghupathi on Tuesday thanked Supreme Court Judge Justice H L Gokhale for his statement on the controversy surrounding allegation that the former Union Minister A Raja tried to influence him in a criminal case.

"I am thankful to Justice Gokhale (who was then Chief Justice of Madras High Court when the purported incident occurred)," Reghupathi said, without elaborating.
"I am not supposed to react. I did not make the issue public even at the time of the incident since I wanted to uphold the dignity of the legal fraternity. It applies to me today even after retirement," he told PTI. 

He refused to join issue with former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, who had last week denied that Raja's name was in the report sent by the then Madras High Court Chief Justice Gokhale. 

Gokhale today contradicted Balakrishnan's claim that he was not aware that it was Raja who had tried to influence Justice Reghupathi in a case and said he had clearly referred to Raja's name in his letter to Justice Balakrishnan. 

Justice Reghupati said his action of not joining issue on the controversy was not driven by fear but the need to uphold the court's dignity. 

He said only jurists can comment on the issue and not himself. 

Asked why he did not take action on the issue when he was a judge, Justice Reghupati said as a judge he was bound to maintain dignity and decorum of the position.

"We are not not expected to go to the media. Even at that time I kept quiet," he told reporters adding he had put everything in his letter to the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. 

When asked for details, he said it was part of the records and it was for media to get the letters from authorities concerned. 

"Everything has become true. Absolutely correct. Majesty of law and truth will prevail," he said in reply to questions. 

SC dismisses Jaya's plea in wealth case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea by AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa to stay proceedings in the wealth case against her being heard by a special court in Bangalore. The Supreme Court also directed the special court to grant time for correcting mistakes in the translation (from Tamil to English).

Jayalalithaa on Friday last filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging that if the disproportionate wealth case was allowed to proceed in the special court with errors in translation, it would result in miscarriage of justice. The special court is hearing a case of amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income during 1991-96 against Jayalalithaa.

The Supreme Court ruled that the special court judge can appoint a person who knows English and Tamil and proceed with the case. Following the Court ruling, the hearing in the case is likely to resume in the special court from Wednesday
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Centre directed to counter Vaiko's LTTE plea

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to file its counter affidavit to a petition by MDMK General Secretary Vaiko challenging the order of a tribunal confirming the ban on LTTE.

"I am a supporter of the LTTE and sympathiser of the LTTE," Vaiko said arguing in person when Chief Justice MY Eqbal asked him about his locus standi to challenge the order upholding extension of ban on the outfit.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal headed by Justice Vikramjit Sen had confirmed the ban on November 12 after holding public hearings.

Vaiko told a bench comprising Justices Eqbal and TS Sivagnanam that the tribunal order was contrary to provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, opposed to principles of natural justice, vitiated by error of law on the face of the record and was liable to be quashed.
Vaiko said his application seeking for impleading himself in the proceedings was rejected by the tribunal and hence the public hearing conducted thereafter was not sustainable. 

"I am affected party in the case. Aggrieved over the tribunal order, I am challenging it," Vaiko, who had been detained in the past on charges of sedition for his pro-LTTE stand, said. 

Additional Solicitor General M Ravindran said according to Section 6 of the Act any person could approach the Centre with an application for recalling the (ban) declaration. 

But Vaiko argued this was no effective remedy to him. 

The Bench then told the Additional Solicitor General to file a counter affidavitand posted the case after three weeks. 

LTTE was declared an Unlawful Association by a central notification on May 24, 1992, an year after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the outfit's sucide bomber during an election meeting in Tamil Nadu. The ban has been extended after every two years with the tribunal confirming it.

The latest declaration extending the ban was issued in May last by the Union Home Ministry which had said despite its decimation, LTTE was re-grouping in Tamil Nadu and remnant of its cadres could use India, especially the state, as a rear base for this purpose. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Petrol prices hiked by Rs. 3 per litre

Oil major Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) on Tuesday hiked petrol prices by about Rs. 2.95 per litre, following a spike in international crude oil prices.

The hike would be effective from Tuesday midnight. This would be the fourth hike after government’s decision to deregulate petrol prices.

Other two state-run refiners Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) will also hike petrol prices by Rs. 2.40 - 2.95 per litre from Thursday, sources told NDTV.

The oil ministry on Tuesday gave the three companies a go-ahead to raise petrol prices after international crude oil prices touched $90 per barrel.
The state-run refiners had on November 9 raised petrol price by Rs. 0.32 per litre to Rs. 52.91 a litre in Delhi.

IOC, BPCL and HPCL have revised rates only four times since June 26 when petrol price was deregulated, while crude oil has jumped from $73-74 per barrel at that time to $90 a barrel now.

A similar hike in diesel rates is likely to be considered by an Empowered Group of Ministers headed by Pranab Mukherjee on December 22.

After Tuesday’s increase, petrol prices have gone up by Rs. 4.44 a litre since deregulation.

The basket of crude oil India buys was at $89.34 per barrel on Monday. It has averaged $88.47 per barrel in December as against about $79 a barrel at the time of last hike in petrol price on November 9.

If prices are not revised, IOC, BPCL and HPCL are likely to end the fiscal with close to Rs. 67,000 crore revenue losses on sale of diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below cost.

The oil retailers lose Rs. 272.19 on the sale of every 14.2-kg LPG cylinder and Rs. 17.72 per litre of kerosene.