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Diamonds in Nagaland? Very likely, say scientists

Historically, diamonds in India were found only in alluvial deposits in Guntur and Krishna district of the Krishna River delta in Southern India. Currently, one of the most prominent Indian mines is located at Panna in Madya Pradesh state.

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Diamonds

Bengaluru, Jan 18 : The northeastern border state of Nagaland, recently projected by a geologist as a promising place to prospect for gold, may be springing another glittering surprise.

The “ophiolite” rocks of the state, that is a part of the Indo-Myanmar ranges, may potentially hold “microdiamonds” — diamonds of small size, less than one millimetre — according to an Indo-German study published in a recent issue of the journal Current Science.

The authors — Bibhuranjan Nayak of the CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology in Bhubaneswar, and Franz Michael Meyer of Aachen University in Germany — say that indications for occurrence of “microdiamonds” has come from their discovery of the presence of a manganese-bearing mineral called “manganilmenite” in the ophiolite rocks they studied in the Pokphur area of Nagaland.

“Ophiolites” are slices of what were once the ocean floor but were thrust on to the continental crust more than 65 million years ago by the action of what geologists call plate tectonics, a mechanism that gave rise to the Himalayas.

“Manganilmenite is a rare mineral and it is considered as a diamond indicator,” Nayak told this correspondent, adding that presence of this mineral has proved the occurrence of diamonds in the host rocks in many localities in the world.

“We are perhaps the first to report its presence in the Indian subcontinent,” Nayak said. “Hence we expect that the ophiolite rocks of northeast India could host diamonds, especially microdiamonds.”

“In the Pokphur study area, the host rock of ‘manganilmenite’ is a magnetite body that is a part of the ophiolite and occurs as discontinuous thin sheets extending about a kilometre with thickness varying from 5 to 12 metres with an average outcrop width of about 300 metres,” Nayak said. “However, ophiolitic rocks are widespread in the Indo-Myanmar ranges.”

Historically, diamonds in India were found only in alluvial deposits in Guntur and Krishna district of the Krishna River delta in Southern India. Currently, one of the most prominent Indian mines is located at Panna in Madya Pradesh state.

According to Nayak, “ophiolites” are a newly documented host of diamonds on the Earth, and abundant diamonds have been separated from these rocks in China and Russia, and diamond grains have been recently discovered in ophiolites of Luobusa in Tibet and Myitkyina in Myanmar.

“Since the Nagaland-Manipur ophiolite rocks are a part of the Indo-Myanmar ranges and the geologic conditions of their formation are similar to those of the ophiolites of Tibet and Myanmar, the possibility of occurrence of microdiamonds in these rocks cannot be ruled out,” Nayak said.

How about finding bigger diamond crystals? According to Nayak, large-size diamonds have not been reported from ophiolites so far, “but one cannot deny the possibility because all mysteries of the Earth have not yet been unravelled”.

Naresh Ghose, a retired geologist of Patna University who two years ago had predicted the possible occurrence of gold in Nagaland, is optimistic. Asked to comment on the study, Ghose told this correspondent: “I confirm the findings about (microdiamonds) and congratulate the authors.”

India

‘Ex-HAL chief’s statements on Rafale factually incorrect’

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Rafale deal scam

New Delhi, Sep 20 : Government sources on Thursday dismissed as “factually incorrect” media reports of former Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chief T.S. Raju claiming that the defence undertaking had signed a work-share contract with French company Dassault Aviation — the manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets.

“In the news item published (Thursday) ex Chairman and Managing Director, (CMD) HAL has been quoted as stating that an agreed work-share with Dassault Aviation (DA) was submitted to government. The same news item also referred to the cost of the aircraft, life cycle cost issues, etc. The statement attributed to ex CMD, HAL is factually incorrect,” said the sources.

The sources said that Raju was a member of the Contract Negotiations Committee of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and “there were many major areas of disagreement between HAL and DA”.

They said that the HAL, in a letter on Oct 10, 2012 to the MOD, “brought out these disagreements pertaining to the work-share between them”.

“Subsequently in July 2014, HAL in its letter to MOD has also highlighted one major unresolved issue regarding responsibility sharing between DA and HAL for licence manufacture of the aircraft.

“Further, the man hours required for manufacture of various components of the aircraft in HAL was also a point of disagreement between DA and HAL. There is, therefore, a contradiction in the claims attributed to Raju,” they said.

The sources also said that the since the work-share between DA and HAL was “never agreed upon”, the statement claiming lower life cycle cost is “completely presumptive”.

They said that because of these reasons, the proposal for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) could not be progressed further.

In an interview to a national daily, Raju who retired from the HAL on Sep 1, asserted that HAL “could have built Rafale fighters in India had the government managed to close the original negotiations with Dassault”.

Riding on Raju’s statements, the Congress led by its president Rahul Gandhi demanded Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s resignation accusing her of “lying”.

The party claimed that Raju’s remarks “nailed Sitharaman’s lie” that HAL didn’t have the capability to build the Rafale.

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India

Modi, Hasina jointly inaugurate oil pipeline, railway projects

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Narendra Modi Sheikh Hasina

New Delhi/Dhaka, Sep 18 : Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday jointly e-inaugurated the construction work of a cross-border oil pipeline and a railway project, with the former describing the two countries as members of the same family.

Hasina and Modi joined the event in the evening via video-conferencing from Dhaka and New Delhi, respectively.

The 129 km India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline connecting Siliguri in India with Parbatipur in Bangladesh will transport petroleum products from Numaligarh Refinery in Assam. Of the total length, 124 km will be constructed in Bangladesh and 5 km in India.

“Geographically we may be neighbours, but emotionally we are members of the same family,” Modi said while addressing the programme.

“Our mutual cooperation in the last few years has shown the world that when two neighbouring countries strive to work together, what all can be achieved,” he said.

“Whether it be a decades-old border problem or development aid cooperation project, we have made unprecedented progress on all issues.”

At the same event, the ground-breaking ceremony of a rail project to improve Dhaka’s connectivity with Tongi and Joydebpur, two towns on the outskirts of the capital city, was also held.

Officials said 48.80 km of the two new dual gauge rail lines would be constructed on the Dhaka-Tongi route and a 12.28 km new dual gauge railway double line on the Tongi-Joydebpur route.

Tuesday’s inauguration of the two projects came a little over a week after both the Prime Ministers inaugurated two railway projects and an electricity project on September 10.

Stating that the pipeline will further boost bilateral cooperation, Modi said that energy was the cornerstone of any country’s development.

“The pipeline will help in the development of the northern Bangladesh. Though it is being done with grant-financing from India, the project will be dedicated to the people and government of Bangladesh once completed,” he said.

Modi said the railway project will not only bring relief to road traffic in Dhaka, but also boost freight revenues.

Speaking from Dhaka, Hasina said that ever since she formed her government in Bangladesh in 2009, she has been working relentlessly to deepen ties with India.

She thanked Modi for the new projects which she said will help in Bangladesh’s development.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan joined the video conference from Delhi and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali from Dhaka.

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Business

No relief in sight from rising oil prices

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Dharmendra Pradhan

New Delhi, Sep 12 : There is no relief in sight from the rising petrol, diesel and gas prices which are burning a hole in the consumers’ pockets.

The government on Wednesday eluded questions on the subject at an official media briefing here, with Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan asserting that he would not answer questions outside of the day’s Cabinet decisions.

“We will confine ourselves to the Cabinet decisions only,” Pradhan told IANS when asked if a relief was in the offing from soaring oil prices.

The Minister also chose to keep mum when asked if the Union Cabinet discussed the issue on Wednesday.

On Monday, Pradhan had an hour-long meeting with BJP President Amit Shah after the opposition organised a Bharat bandh on the issue.

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