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Cyclone ‘Phethai’ hits Andhra coast, triggers heavy rains

Turbulent weather conditions forced the authorities to cancel 14 flights to the port city of Visakhapatnam and divert many others to Hyderabad. Over 700 passengers were stranded at Visakhapatnam airport due to cancellation of flights.

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Strong waves hit the shore in Visakhapatnam on Dec 17, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

Visakhapatnam, Dec 17 : Cyclonic storm ‘Phethai crossed the Andhra Pradesh coast in East Godavari district on Monday, causing widespread rains, uprooting trees, paralyzing transport and damaging crops.

‘Phethai’ made the landfall near Katrinekonda in East Godavari district with a wind speed of 80 kmph and re-emerged into the Bay of Bengal before crossing the coast between Kakinada and Yanam, an enclave of Puducherry in the same district.

Cyclone 'Phethai' hits Andhra

Visakhapatnam: Strong waves hit the shore in Visakhapatnam on Dec 17, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

Authorities heaved a sigh of relief as no loss of life was reported till Monday evening. The coastal region was also spared of major losses, barring damages to standing crops over hundreds of acres.

According to officials at the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, the severe cyclonic storm weakened due to unfavourable environmental conditions and crossed the coast as cyclonic storm. After crossing the coast, it moved towards Odisha.

The incessant rains accompanied by gusty winds lashing the coastal district since Sunday inundated low-lying areas, disrupted electricity and drinking water supply throwing normal life out of gear. The cyclone also paralysed road, rail and air traffic in the region.

East Godavari District Collector Kartikeya Mishra said electricity supply was disrupted to 99 villages and it would be restored soon.

Over 5,000 people from some coastal and low-lying villages were shifted to relief camps opened by the East Godavari district administration.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu monitored the situation from Real Time Governance Society (RTGS) control room in Amaravati.

Home Minister N. Chinna Rajappa, who monitored the situation at the Collector’s office in Kakinada, said all measures were taken to tackle the situation. He said efforts were on to restore normalcy in the affected areas.

RTGS officials said the measures taken by the authorities and the precaution by people ensured that there was no loss of life and also minimised the property damage.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and naval helicopters were on standby along with 10,000 government employees as part of disaster preparedness.

Rescue workers were busy removing fallen trees, electric poles and debris from roads to restore vehicular traffic.

Turbulent weather conditions forced the authorities to cancel 14 flights to the port city of Visakhapatnam and divert many others to Hyderabad. Over 700 passengers were stranded at Visakhapatnam airport due to cancellation of flights.

A holiday was declared for all educational institutions in the coastal region. Authorities also suspended long-distance bus services and cancelled over 50 trains as a precaution.

The cyclone, the second to hit Andhra coast this year, had its impact on seven out of nine coastal districts. The rains inundated roads and low-lying areas in Vijayawada, bringing vehicular traffic to a halt.

‘Phethai’ also had impact on neighbouring Telangana state with heavy rains lashing many districts. Paddy, cotton and other agriculture produce brought by farmers to the markets for sale were damaged.

The weather in Greater Hyderabad was cloudy and chilled. Parts of the city experienced showers.

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Madhya Pradesh farmers hopeful of being ‘debt-free’ as loan waiver scheme kicks-off

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Earth Climate

Bhopal, Jan 22 : A week after the launch of the loan waiver scheme in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government claims 19.54 lakh farmers have filed their applications in the six days till Sunday.

While the opposition BJP has been calling the “Jai Kisan Rin Mukti Yojana” a trick to cheat the farmers, the question is how the farmers of the state perceive the entire exercise.

Kailash Chaudhary, a farmer from Mandsaur district’s Babulda village, said: “About two years ago, six farmers sacrificed their lives for their rights in Pipliya Mandi. This is the beginning of the victory of their fight.”

“Forms are being filled for waiver of loans up to Rs 2 lakh. We feel that the government is taking our demands seriously,” Chaudhary told IANS.

Mandsaur was the centre of farmers’ agitation in 2017 when six farmers were killed in police firing in June, 2017. After the incident, the farmers’ movement had taken over the whole state, which then spread to the whole nation.

Farmer’s leader Kedar Sirohi said: “Farmers in different parts of the state are excited about the loan waiver. They are filing applications in large numbers.”

“To ensure they don’t face any difficulty in filing applications, leaders and workers of farmer organisations are helping them. Government officials is also alert to help out the farmers. Colour coding of application forms has made it easier for farmers to fill out the applications,” he said.

According to official figures, out of the 19.54 lakh forms filed till Sunday, around 60 per cent were green forms, 35 per cent were white forms and 5 percent were pink forms. The farmers are hopeful of becoming debt-free through this exercise.

As per the scheme, the farmers of the Aadhaar seeded list will have to submit green applications and the farmers of non-Aadhar seeded list will have to submit white coloured applications. Farmers have to submit a pink application to file an objection or claim against information provided in the green or white list.

However, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been accusing the Congress of misleading the farmers and terming the scheme a trick to cheat them.

Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the Congress promise of a loan waiver won’t be fulfilled by a mere announcement.

“The Chief Minister (Kamal Nath) and Congress leaders are saying they have fulfilled their promise of loan waiver to the farmers. But the promise has not yet been fulfilled. An announcement does not mean fulfillment of the promise,” he said, adding the Congress was misleading the farmers.

Congress spokesperson Syed Jaffer responded that 55 lakh farmers will get their loans waived of under the scheme, for which the due process needs to be followed.

“No matter what charges the BJP makes, the truth is that farmers are happy and they trust that the Congress is fulfilling the promise that they made to them,” he said.

“Those farmers who are in debt, neither are they now receiving notices from the banks nor is their property being seized. Under BJP rule, farmers had to go to jail and lose their property just for not paying their power bills,” Jaffer told IANS.

Calling the scheme pro-farmer, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Sharma told IANS that political parties were creating doubts about the scheme.

“Farmers were reeling under debt which had increased manifold over the last one-and-a-half decade. Now they are getting waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh. The government is new and one should wait before making adverse comments,” he said.

Kamal Nath had signed the farm loan waiver file soon after taking oath as the Chief Minister. The filing of forms for the waiver started from January 15 and will continue till February 5.

According to the government, farmers will start getting the money in their loan accounts from February 22.

The Chief Minister had said that the scheme would benefit around 55 lakh farmers by waiving their loans worth Rs 50,000 crore.

(Sundeep Pouranik can be contacted at [email protected])

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BJP accuses TMC of vandalising posters ahead of Shah’s rally

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Amit Shah BJP

Malda (West Bengal), Jan 22 (IANS) The West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday accused the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers of vandalising posters and decorative gates ahead of party chief Amit Shah’s rally here.

“Gates, welcome arches, posters, cut-outs, festoons have been vandalised ahead of our national president’s rally. Gates have set on fire. Vehicles carrying our supporters are being stopped in many places,” state BJP President Dilip Ghosh said.

BJP supporters and activists were threatened and harassed so that they could not attend the programme, he alleged.

“Despite all these, our supporters are active and the process of ‘paribartan’ (change) has been started,” he added.

After high drama over denial of permission for facilitating the landing of Shah’s chopper in Malda, the state’s BJP leadership said that they finally received the clearance at two places in the district.

The BJP received permission to land the chopper at the helipads in Golden Park Hotel here and the one used by the Border Security Force in Malda district.

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Himachal Pradesh: 26 injured after tourist bus skids off road in Bilaspur

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bilaspur bus accident
Photo Credit- ANI

Himachal Pradesh, Jan 22: At least 26 people were injured after a tourist bus skidded off the road near Swarghat area in Himachal Pradesh’s Bilaspur district on Monday.

The 18 injured people have been shifted to the hospital in Nalaghar in Solan district.

Other 8 people who were seriously injured were shifted to PGIMER at Chandigarh.

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