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Political stars gather for Lalu’s son’s wedding

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Tej Pratap Yadav- Aishwarya Rai

Patna, May 12 (IANS) Opposition leaders gathered here on Saturday to attend the wedding of RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son Tej Pratap Yadav, the festivities made brighter by the presence of the now jailed former Bihar Chief Minister.

Lalu Prasad arrived here on Thursday from Ranchi on parole for three days to attend the elder son’s marriage. But on Friday, the Ranchi High Court granted him six weeks bail.

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More than 30,000 people were set to attend the event, and many had poured in from all across Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, RJD state President Ram Chander Purve said.

According to RJD leader Bhola Yadav, NCP leader Praful Patel, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, dissident BJP MPs Shatrughan Sinha and Kirti Azad and rebel Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav had reached the city.

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and some notable BJP leaders from Bihar were also expected to arrive, Bhola Yadav said.

Bihar’s popular ‘litti-chokha’, Amritsari kulcha, imarti, gulab jamun, karhai paneer and kulfi besides continental dishes will be served to the guests.

“There will be 200 items in the lavish dinner,” a staffer at Lalu Prasad’s residence said.

The marriage venue has been decorated with flowers from Thailand.

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The venue is a sprawling veterinary college ground, spread over 9,000 square metres, RJD leader Shakti Yadav said.

All of Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi’s seven daughters are married. The younger son, Tejashwi Yadav, a former Deputy Chief Minister, is also single yet.

“Laluji is enjoying every moment with his family,” an insider said.

Lalu Prasad was jailed in December after conviction in the fodder scam.

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Airlines asked to mount additional flights to Kerala, cap maximum air fares

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New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 17 (IANS) The civil aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) has asked domestic airlines to mount additional flights to and from Kerala with a cap on the maximum fare.

The advisory came as the state reeled under torrential rain and the worst floods in the recent past.

The grim situation has left the state with only two operational civil airports at Thiruvananthapuram and Calicut, as operations at Cochin airport have been suspended till August 26 on account of rising water levels in the operational area.

“Scheduled domestic airlines have also been advised to ensure that air fares for flights to or from Trivandrum and Calicut airports in Kerala and nearby airports i.e. Mangalore and Coimbatore are kept at optimal level proportionate to sector distance so that travelling public is not inconvenienced,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement issued on Friday.

Accordingly, airlines have been requested to cap the maximum fare to around Rs 10,000 on longer routes and around Rs 8,000 on shorter routes to and from Kerala and nearby airports.

“In addition, DGCA is constantly monitoring air fares on 32 direct routes operating to or from Trivandrum, Calicut, Coimbatore and Mangalore,” the statement said.

“Spike in airfare on few routes have been observed. Concerned airlines have been advised to cap the airfare on these flights.”

On Thursday, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu tweeted:

“We have advised airlines to be more sensitive to situation arising out of #KeralaFlooding & keep airfares in check. It’s a humanitarian cause. Thx to all for agreeing with my suggestions to carry free of charge the #KeralaFloodRelief related material. All efforts ongoing for relief.”

A day ago, Minister of Statistics & Programme Implementation D.V. Sadananda Gowda had tweeted: “Private Airlines are at a money making Shame!! Today Mangalore to Bengaluru ticket rate sky-rocketed to Rs 18,000. This route’s average rate is never more than Rs 4,000. It’s time to introduce more flights @jayantsinha.”

The monsoon fury has hit different parts of Western Ghats including districts of Kerala and adjoining areas in Karnataka.

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Army, Navy rescue marooned people in Karnataka’s flood-hit district

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Srirangapatna flood

Bengaluru, Aug 17 (IANS) Indian Army troops and Navy divers joined the national and state disaster relief forces to rescue hundreds of people marooned in Karnataka’s flood-hit Kodagu district, said an official statement on Friday.

“About 60 Dogra Regiment soldiers and 12 expert naval divers rescued 873 marooned people in the flood-hit district, where overnight heavy rains caused landslides and inundated low-lying areas at Makkanduru,” said the statement from the Chief Minister’s office here.

Kodagu, about 250 km from Bengaluru, is one of the districts in the southern state worst hit by the south-west monsoon rains since June first week.

The Army’s engineering task force deployed 73 boats, equipment and rafts in rescuing the people and escorting them to safer places in the district.

About 60 members of the national and state disaster relief forces and 45 members of the civil defence joined the rescue and relief operations with boats and equipment in Madikeri in the hilly district.

“Though the Indian Air Force (IAF) aborted rescue mission due to inclement weather, it will fly M17 chopper from Mysuru on Saturday to rescue the remaining stranded and transport relief supplies,” noted the statement.

About 200 personnel of the state fire service had rescued people in flood-hit towns and villages across the district with their boats and equipment.

“Telecom services, disrupted due to rains and strong winds uprooting poles and snapping phone lines, are being restored on priority. HAM operators have been deployed as back-up. Power lines are also being restored,” said the statement.

The district administration has housed 573 persons in 17 relief camps.

Intra and inter-state bus and train services between Karnataka and flood-hit Kerala were suspended due to landslides and rain water submerging the highways and roads in the ghat section.

State-run and private bus services from Mysuru and Chamarajanagar to Ooty and Coonoor hill stations in Tamil Nadu were suspended due to flooding and fallen trees blocking the routes in the ghat section.

According to the weather office, rain fury continued in the state’s coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada, disrupting normal life, including vehicular movement of goods and people.

Incessant rains lashed the Malnad region, flooding several areas in Shivamogga, Hassan and Chikkamagaluru districts.

Schools and colleges will remain shut even on Saturday in the affected districts due to flooding and disruption of bus services.

The state’s metrological department has warned of moderate to heavy rain in coastal, south interior and north interior areas of the state till Sunday.

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Telangana announces Rs 25 cr for Kerala

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Hyderabad, Aug 17 (IANS) Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Friday announced Rs 25 crore and 10 reverse osmosis plants worth Rs 2.5 crore for flood-ravaged Kerala.

Telangana IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao tweeted: “To aid and assist our brothers and sisters of Kerala in their hour of grief, Telangana CM KCR Garu has just announced assistance of Rs 25 crore and 10 reverse osmosis plants worth Rs 2.5 crore towards the flood hit Kerala.”

On Twitter, the Kerala Chief Minister’s office appealed to the people of the country to donate to the state which has “lost 324 lives” in the floods.

“Kerala is facing its worst flood in 100 years. Eighty dams opened, 324 lives lost and 2,23,139 people are in about 150 relief camps. Your help can rebuild the lives of the affected,” it said.

At least 174 people have died so far across Kerala, since torrential rain on August 8 submerged large areas in the state and created havoc.

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