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Indian antiques smuggled to US identified, could be returned

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New York, May 8 A cache of ancient Indian antiques and valuable artefacts, seized by the US Immigration and Customs Department from arrested art smuggler Subhash Kapoor, have been identified by Indian archaeologists and could soon be returned to the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Archaeological Survey of India announced finding over 300 antique objects, including idols dating to the Gupta period (5th-6th century AD) and terracotta objects of the Harappan culture from the storage of Kapoor, who was arrested in 2011 from Germany’s Frankfurt.

The art dealer was later extradited to India and is being tried for theft of objects from various places.

ASI Additional Director General Urmila Sant told IANS that a set of 17 objects were shown by the US Homeland Security department to her and another official during their US visit and the seven bronze and 10 stone objects were identified as antiques “of significant historical value”.

According to the ASI, these comprise “beautiful bronzes from the Suttamalli and Sripurantan temples of Tamil Nadu” and also a “very significant image of Mahakoka Devata”. Of these, four were stolen from the protected monuments at Karitalai, Madhya Pradesh on August 16-17, 2006, it said.

The two-member ASI team comprising Sant and Superintendent Archaeologist P.S. Sriraman visited the US following a communication from the Indian Consulate General in New York.

In addition, Sant said that the Consulate also showed the ASI team 327 objects, out of which 251 were found to be historically important antiques. These include 56 terracotta objects returned by the Toledo Museum (Ohio), which were originally gifted to the museum by Kapoor.

“Majority of them belong to Chandraketugarh, West Bengal, a prominent site of terracotta art in the first decade, CE (Common Era). The rest comprised terracotta objects of Harappan culture and of the Gupta period.”

The objects also comprise those of brass and copper alloys, gold with enamel work, silver, stone and terracotta, including a stone image of Buddha of the Mathura School, a terracotta image of Buddha belonging to the Gupta period and a set of ten copper plates engraved with Quranic verses dating from the late Mughal period.

Two other stone images – of Lingodhbhava of the late Chola period (12th-13th century) from Tamil Nadu and Manjushri of Pala period (10th-11th century) – which were purchased by US museums from Kapoor and were later returned were also examined and identified as antiques.

The ASI official also said that correspondence with the Indian consulate in New York is currently underway, and it could take “one or two years” to get them back in India.

Since many antiquities have been stolen from temples, she also said the objects will be restored to their original places.

India

Five new faces in Prasar Bharati board

The Prasar Bharati Board plays a crucial role in the general administrative functioning of the state broadcaster. Prasar Bharati is an autonomous body.

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New Delhi, July 7 : With nine of the 13 posts in the Prasar Bharati board becoming vacant, the Centre on Tuesday appointed five key individuals, including BJP spokesperson Shaina NC and music composer Salim Merchant, as part-time members of the coveted board.

The other three are Sanjay Gupta, the editor-in-chief of a Hindi daily, media personality Alok Agawarwal and veteran journalist Ashok Kumar Tandon.

While Merchant’s tenure lasts till 2021, Agarwal and Shaina NC’s tenures last till 2023. Sanjay Gupta and Ashok Kumar Tandon’s tenures expire in 2025.

Speaking to IANS, Shaina NC said that thrust will be given on the All India Radio. “I think our endeavour will be to completely organise Doordarshan and Prasar Bharati, particularly mediums like All India Radio, which has tremendous connectivity and a lot of goodwill. I think that will be maximised to the best of our ability,” she said.

The Prasar Bharati Board plays a crucial role in the general administrative functioning of the state broadcaster. Prasar Bharati is an autonomous body.

Recently, the state broadcaster made headlines after its spat with news agency PTI. Prasar Bharati had shot off a letter threatening to end its “relationship” with PTI over the alleged “anti-national” reportage by the news agency, a charge refuted by PTI’s former Editor-in-Chief M.K. Razdan, who called it “preposterous”.

Asked about whether deciding the fate of the “relationship” between the broadcaster and the news agency will be on the table, Shaina NC said, “I am sure a lot of issues will come up,” adding that it won’t be right for her to “predetermine” at this juncture.

Earlier, in her tweet, the BJP leader also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar for her appointment to the prestigious board.

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Health

Health Ministry steps in to curb black marketing of Covid drug

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has given approval for the manufacturing and marketing of Remdesivir to Cipla, Hetro and Mylan.

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New Delhi, July 7 : The Union Health Ministry has asked all the states to strengthen their vigil so that black marketing of Covid-19 drug Remdesivir is prevented.

The Directorate General of Health Services under the Health Ministry has written to the Drug Controllers of the states to prevent sale of Remdesivir above MRP.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has given approval for the manufacturing and marketing of Remdesivir to Cipla, Hetro and Mylan.

The DGHS said that it has received a letter from LocalCircles routed through the Health Ministry, raising concerns over black marketing and overpricing of Remdesivir by certain unscrupulous persons.

“In view of the above, you are requested to instruct your enforcement officials to keep strict vigil on the matter to prevent black marketing and sale of Remdesivir injection above the MRP,” the DGHS said in the letter to the states.

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LG Polymers CEO among 12 arrested over Vizag gas leak mishap

According to police, while 12 people died on May 7 and 8, three more villagers succumbed on May 25 and afterwards. A total of 34 animals also died in the incident.

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Visakhapatnam, July 7 : LG Polymers Managing Director and CEO, Sunkey Jeong and Technical Director D.S. Kim were among 12 officials of the company arrested by Visakhapatnam police on Tuesday, in connection with the styrene gas leak tragedy that left 15 dead and hundreds hospitalised in May this year.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, R.V.S.N. Murthy, who is also the investigation officer, said the accused were booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

They were also booked under Indian Penal Code”s Sections 278 (Making atmosphere noxious to health), 284 (Negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance), 285 (Negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) read with section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

The gas leak from LG Polymers plant on the intervening night of May 6 and 7 affected Venkatapuram and five other villages.

According to police, while 12 people died on May 7 and 8, three more villagers succumbed on May 25 and afterwards. A total of 34 animals also died in the incident.

The development comes a day after the High Powered Committee (HPC) submitted its probe report to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The HPC probe report had listed several lapses on the part of the LG Polymers management, which led to the styrene gas leakage.

The other accused arrested on Tuesday are LG Polymers” and Additional Director (Operations) P.P. Chandra Mohan Rao, HOD, SMH (in-charge) K. Srinivas Kiran Kumar, team leader production Raju Satyanarayana, engineers C. Chandrasekhar, K. Gowri Sankara Nagendra Ramu, K. Chakrapani, operator Muddu Rajesh, night duty officer (operations) P. Balaji, incharge GPPS S. Atchyut and safety officer in night shift K. Venkata Narasimha Ramesh Patnaik.

According to the investigating official, the investigations disclosed that the incident at M6 styrene storage tank took place due to negligence of the accused who were also having knowledge that their acts are likely to cause death.

“The investigations so far made disclosed that the accident occurred to the poor design of M6 Tank, inadequate refrigeration and cooling system, absence of circulation systems, inadequate measurement parameters, weak safety protocol, poor safety awareness, inadequate risk assessment and response, poor management, slackness of management, insufficient knowledge amongst staff, insufficient understanding of the chemical properties of styrene, especially during storage under idle conditions and total breakdown of the emergency response procedures,” the police said.

Meanwhile, in a related development in the case, the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) suspended environmental engineers R. Lakshmi Naryana and P. Prasada Rao for negligence.

Acting on the report of the HPC, APPCB suspended Prasada Rao, environmental engineer, regional office, Visakhapatnam, for gross negligence in allowing operation of LG Polymers without environmental clearance, allowing import and storage of huge quantity of styrene without verifying safety and environmental issues. Lakshmi Narayana, environmental engineer, zonal office, Visakhapatnam, was also suspended on the same charges.

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