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Chennai Hyderabad February 17, 18 Highlights: NGT forms committee to probe Achankulam fireworks factory blast

Tamil Nadu Telangana Coronavirus Assembly Elections 2021 February 17, 18 Highlights: Twenty workers had been killed following an explosion on February 12 when some chemicals were being mixed to produce fireworks at the unit in Acchankulam village.

By: Express Web Desk | Chennai, Hyderabad |
Updated: February 19, 2021 9:05:04 am
The principal secretary of the Revenue Administration, K Phanindra Reddy convened a meeting with all the district officials including collector R Kannan to review the probe in the incident.

Tamil Nadu Telangana Assembly Elections COVID-19 February 17, 18 Highlights: The National Green Tribunal has formed a committee headed by a former high court judge and directed it to submit a report in relation to a firecracker factory blast in Tamil Nadu’s Virudhunagar district in which 20 workers were killed. The explosion occurred on February 12 when some chemicals were being mixed to produce fireworks at the unit in Achankulam village.

Also Read | Achankulam fire accident: Toll rises to 20; officials seek amendment to Explosive Act

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel issued notices to the Tamil Nadu government, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), Virudhunagar District Magistrate and Sree Mariyammal Fireworks factory. The green panel said that to secure credible facts, it is constituting an eight-member committee. “The District magistrate, Virudhunagar and Regional Office, State PCB may provide logistic support to the Committee to enable their fact finding and reporting. State PCB will bear the initial cost of functioning of the Committee, including the honorarium to the non-official members to be determined in consultation with them.

The Committee (or such members as the Chairman may decide depending on availability) may visit the site preferably within one week and give its report within one month by e-mail, the NGT said.

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Catch the latest news in Chennai and Hyderabad as we bring you live updates on Tamil Nadu Elections 2021, COVID-19 vaccination, COVID-19, lockdown 6.0 and phase 6 of the unlock across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and more through the day. Also read Karnataka Bengaluru news

17:46 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Less than half of Indian graduates are employable, BTechs have highest skills: Report

Less than half of the Indian graduates are employable, reveals the eighth edition of the India Skills Report (ISR) released today. In 2021, as many as 45.9 per cent of graduates are employable, a decline from 46.21 per cent in 2020 and 47.38 per cent in 2019, reveals the report. MA graduates are the least in terms of employability as only 22.42 per cent of them are employable followed by polytechnic at 25.02 per cent.

In contrast to the common belief, it is the BTech graduates who are most employable with 46.82 per cent followed closely by MBAs at 46.59 per cent, states the report.

Geography-wise, candidates from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka were found with highest employable talent while Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Pune ranked top among the cities. Compared to last year’s data, Mumbai has come down from the top 10 cities list, with Hyderabad, followed by Pune, consisting of more employable resources to become one of the cities with the most employable talent.

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16:48 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Telangana Covid-19 status check: Fewer cases, but doctors say ‘can’t let our guard down’

At one point, around mid-June last year, Gandhi General Hospital in Hyderabad had close to 1,100 admissions – all of them Covid-19 positive. This was also when even asymptomatic patients and those under institutional quarantine were all housed at the same hospital premises. Private and district hospitals were not roped in for treatment of the viral infection. In the subsequent months, the daily numbers from across the state surged past 2000 and 3000. On August 25, Telangana recorded 3,018 new cases, the highest to date.

In the last few months, however, there has been a steady decline in the number of fresh cases. The daily number of fresh infections hovered around 500 to 600 in December when over 50,000 tests were being conducted. In January 2021, the daily average further dropped to around 150 to 300 and by mid-February, it has further dropped to 100-odd even as over 25,000 tests are being conducted, as per the records of the Directorate of Public Health. Gandhi hospital, designated as the nodal center for treatment of COVID-19, has just 46 COVID patients, as of February 17, under treatment, with 13 among them in ventilator support. On the whole, 1844 beds at the hospital are vacant. The same day, 163 fresh cases were reported from across the state.

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16:04 (IST)18 Feb 2021
NGT forms committee to probe blast at fireworks factory in Virudhunagar

The National Green Tribunal has formed a committee headed by a former high court judge and directed it to submit a report in relation to a firecracker factory blast in Tamil Nadu's Virudhunagar district in which 20 workers were killed. The explosion occurred on February 12 when some chemicals were being mixed to produce fireworks at the unit in Acchankulam village.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel issued notices to the Tamil Nadu government, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), Virudhunagar District Magistrate and Sree Mariyammal Fireworks factory.

The green panel said that to secure credible facts, it is constituting an eight-member committee. "The District magistrate, Virudhunagar and Regional Office, State PCB may provide logistic support to the Committee to enable their fact finding and reporting. State PCB will bear the initial cost of functioning of the Committee, including the honorarium to the non-official members to be determined in consultation with them. 

The Committee (or such members as the Chairman may decide depending on availability) may visit the site preferably within one week and give its report within one month by e-mail, the NGT said. (PTI)

15:43 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Telangana reports 163 fresh cases on Wednesday

Telangana recorded 163 fresh COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the caseload to 2,97,113, while two deaths pushed the toll to 1,622, the government said on Thursday.

Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) accounted for the most number of cases with 31, followed by Medchal Malkajgiri and Rangareddy with 12 each, a government bulletin said. Recoveries were at 2,93,791 with 101 patients getting cured of the disease on Wednesday. The state has 1,700 active cases and 24,920 samples were tested yesterday, the bulletin said. Cumulatively, over 83.85 lakh samples have been tested. The samples tested per million population was over 2.25 lakh, it said.

The case fatality and recovery rates in the state were 0.54 per cent and 98.88 per cent respectively. (PTI)

14:27 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Tamil Nadu: Sanitary Napkin vending machine set up at all police stations in Cuddalore

In an initiative said to be the first of its kind in Tamil Nadu, the Cuddalore police have installed sanitary napkin vending machines at 65 places across the district.

M Sree Abhinav, the Superintendent of Police, Cuddalore district, inaugurated the initiative on Wednesday at the district police office. Speaking at the event, Abhinav said he came up with this initiative after he held a discussion with the women police on the steps needed to be made to make the working space better.

A single biodegradable pad can be obtained by depositing five rupees in the vending machine.

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12:53 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Chennai: Multi-level parking facility in T Nagar likely to open this month

The multi-level parking facility located between Thanikachalam road and Singalavelar street of Theyagaraya road which is expected to have over 700 parking slots is likely to be opened for the public this month. A trial run at the parking lot was conducted on Wednesday, and officials seem to be pleased with the overall setup.

The facility, built in an area of 8,826 sq m, is completely automated with minimal human interface.

The parking lot has six floors designed to house four-wheelers and two-wheelers. The structure has been designed as a sustainable building using minimal power and maximum natural lighting and ventilation. It will incorporate solar panels for electricity through solar energy. Visitors’ lounge, drivers room, restrooms, and a baby feeding area are some of the facilities available.

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12:07 (IST)18 Feb 2021
269 fever clinics conducted in Chennai Wedneday

The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) conducted 269 fever clinics in Chennai on Wednesday. A total of 19,955 people attended the clinics, with swabs collected from 147 people who were identified with ILI symptoms, while others were provided with medication for minor ailments.

The most number of camps were held in Adyar (Zone 13) where 42 camps had been set up, while Madhavaram (Zone 3), Alandur (Zone 12) and Perungudi (Zone 14) had the least with six camps each.

11:32 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Tamilisai Soundararajan sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry on Thursday, days after Kiran Bedi was removed from the post. Soundararajan, a former president of the Tamil Nadu BJP, had been given additional charge of Puducherry by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Soundararajan was sworn in by Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Sanjib Banerjee at the Raj Nivas. She took the oath in Tamil. Among those who attended the ceremony were Assembly Speaker V P Sivakolundhu, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Leader of Opposition N Rangasamy.

Soundararajan is the fifth woman to hold the post of Lt Governor of Puducherry, after Chandrawati, Rajendra Kumari Bajpai, Rajani Rai and Kiran Bedi.

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11:07 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Lawyer couple hacked to death in Telangana

“Where the mind is without fear the head is held high.” This was the WhatsApp display status of lawyer couple G Vaman Rao and G Nagamani, who were waylaid on a busy highway in Telangana, pulled out of their vehicle, and hacked to death on Wednesday afternoon.

Rao and Nagamani, who practised in the Telangana High Court, were known for their activism. They were attacked in Peddapalli district by two people between 2:15 and 2:30 pm when they were coming to Hyderabad, according to the Ramagundam Police.

Scores of people witnessed the attack—at least three state transport buses, dozens of cars and two-wheelers stopped on the highway as the couple’s car was blocked by the assailants. Several people also shot videos of the assault and its aftermath. None offered help.

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10:32 (IST)18 Feb 2021
In Puducherry, Rahul forgives father’s killers, takes aim at BJP but stays off political crisis

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi landed in Puducherry on Wednesday amid political turmoil, with his party on the verge of losing majority in the Assembly close to the next Assembly elections. However, he made no mention of it and sought, instead, to build an emotional connect with the locals by opening up on his father’s killers, saying he forgives them.

Asked what he thinks of the people who killed his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul said he doesn’t feel that he lost his father as violence cannot take anything away from anyone.

“I don’t have anger toward anyone. Of course, I lost my father and for me, it was a difficult time. It feels like someone cutting your heart out. I felt tremendous pain. But I don’t feel any hatred or anger, I forgive them,” Rahul said, adding that his father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, is still alive in him.

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10:06 (IST)18 Feb 2021
People will reject ‘dynasty politics’ in TN: Kishan Reddy

People in Tamil Nadu, like in many other states, will reject ‘dynasty politics’ in the coming assembly polls, Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said here on Wednesday.

Voters had rejected such type of politics in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka and would reject ‘Family Private Ltd’ in Tamil Nadu too, he said in an apparent reference to the DMK.

Reddy said the Congress has no future in the country.

He urged party workers to undertake a door to door campaign and explain the various welfare schemes implemented by the BJP government over the last few years.

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09:32 (IST)18 Feb 2021
241 flights to fly between Chennai and major cities today

A total of 241 flights will be operated between Chennai and major cities today, with 122 arrivals and 119 departures scheduled at the Chennai International Airport.

09:07 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Power to be suspended in parts of Chennai today

Tangedco has announced a powercut in parts of Chennai from 9 am to 2 pm today to carry out maintenance work.

Here are the affected areas:

  • Pammal: Anna Salai Main Road, Pammal Main Road, Pasumpon Nagar, Parts of 30 Feet Road, Moses Street, Ponni Nagar, Iyyappa Nagar, Saminathan Nagar, Eswaran Nagar and Sathiya Nagar.
  • Alamathy: Alamathy, Singilikuppam, Pudukuppam, Kannigapuram, Bharathi Nagar, Karanipettai, New Agaramkandigai, Sethukuppam and nearby areas.
08:59 (IST)18 Feb 2021
TN reports 454 fresh cases, 6 deaths

Tamil Nadu recorded 454 positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the state tally to 8,46480. Among these, Chennai reported 147 positive cases, bringing the city’s total to 2,33,779. The state recorded six deaths on Wednesday, putting the state toll at 12,438. Five seven of them had succumbed due to comorbidities. A total of 462 patients were discharged following treatment, taking the total number of recoveries to 8,29,850.

As of Wednesday, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu is 4192. Till date, 5,11,524 males, 3,34,921 females and 35 transgenders have tested positive for the virus in the state.

According to a bulletin released by the Health and Family Welfare Department of Tamil Nadu, 1,66,01,990 samples from the state have been tested till date, with 52,196 samples having been sent yesterday. There are 255 COVID-19 testing facilities in the state, out of which 68 are government and 187 are private facilities.

08:53 (IST)18 Feb 2021
Welcome to today's live blog

Good morning!
Welcome to the live blog from Chennai and Hyderabad where we bring to you the latest updates on Tamil Nadu elections 2021, COVID-19 vaccination, COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, UK COVID-19 virus in Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and more across Chennai and Hyderabad throughout the day. Follow the blog to stay up to date with the states in real time.

17:53 (IST)17 Feb 2021
AP: Govt launches scheme to detect speech, hearing impairment at early age

The Andhra Pradesh Government has launched a unique screening programme to detect speech and hearing impairment at an early age. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy Tuesday launched the programme that will identify speech and hearing defects at early stages and conduct surgeries along with treatment procedures.

Taking part in a review meeting on Cochlear implants and “deaf free’’ Andhra Pradesh, the Chief Minister said that a special programme for cochlear implants has been developed similar to that of YSR Kanti Velugu, and that under the scheme surgeries would be done by detecting hearing and speech defects at the early stage. He asserted that the government’s goal is to help people with disabilities and support them by offering ideal treatment. In this context, the officials discussed the preventive measures taken by countries like the US, Britain, Australia in rectifying speech and hearing disorders.

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16:21 (IST)17 Feb 2021
Explained: What led to Cong’s Puducherry crisis and the Kiran Bedi factor

Resignation of one more Congress MLA, A John Kumar, from Puducherry assembly on Tuesday seems to have pushed the Congress-DMK government below the majority mark in the Union Territory. The ruling coalition and the opposition NR Congress-AIADMK-BJP alliance now have 14 MLAs each in the House that has a current effective strength of 28. The jolt to the Congress came a day ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Puducherry. Now, the Opposition seeks resignation of the ‘minority’ Congress government.

The peculiar nature of Puducherry politics and the size of each assembly seat explains what makes it easier for legislators here to shift their loyalties, especially when much more has happened to the ruling AIADMK in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu in the past four years.

On an average, a Puducherry MLA represents about 20,000 to 25,000 voters, which is only as big as an average city corporation ward in India. And the political transactions here are largely ‘personal’ than ‘political,’ with politicians having a significant personal rapport with people in their smaller localities, mostly based on community and caste factors, besides a little politics.

Even if majority of Puducherry population speaks Tamil, and several policies, schemes and areas such as education are influenced by Tamil Nadu, the stake of DMK and AIADMK in Puducherry has also been very limited, as both parties hardly had a special interest in Puducherry affairs. In a tiny Union territory with hardly 30 elected MLA seats, which are scattered across Puducherry (23), Karaikal in Tamil Nadu, Mahe in Kerala and Yanam in Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry has been traditionally a Congress stronghold.

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15:30 (IST)17 Feb 2021
TNDGE HSE +2 exams from May 3

The Tamil Nadu Directorate of Government Examinations (TNDGE) will hold the Tamil Nadu state board exams higher secondary second-year exam (HSE) or class 12 exams from May 3 onwards. Last year, the tests were held in March. This year, all boards have postponed their exams due to the pandemic. Every year, about nine lakh candidates appear for the TN HSE or +2 board exams.

The exams will be held from 10 am to 1:15 pm. Question papers will be distributed at 10 am and candidates will get 10 minutes to read the paper. Thereafter, five minutes will be given to verify particulars by the candidates. The students will be allowed to start writing the exam from 10:15 am to 1:15 am, as per the official notice.

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14:47 (IST)17 Feb 2021
Five women farm workers killed as vehicle falls into canal in Thoothukudi

Five women were killed and several injured as the mini carrier in which they were travelling fell into a canal near Maniyaachi in Thoothukudi district on Tuesday.

As many as 31 women farmers belonging to Manappai Veedu, TIrumalaikolunthupuram, Manalkaadu towns had travelled in that mini cargo to reach Puthiyampathur and Maniyachi areas for agricultural work. When they were about to reach their destination, the mini cargo overturned and plunged into a roadside canal.

Many farmers were trapped inside the vehicle. The passerby immediately informed the police who rushed to the spot for the rescue work. Chitthirai (50), the driver of the mini cargo fled the spot after the accident.

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14:13 (IST)17 Feb 2021
Managers of nursery in Andhra Pradesh greet KCR with a floral portrait of the Chief Minister

Marking the birthday of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, the managers of the Thurpu Godavari District Kadiyam Nursery in Andhra Pradesh extended their greetings with a floral portrait of the Chief Minister.

Tallapu Godavari district residents Palla Sattibabu, Palla Subrahmanyam and Palla Ganapathi made a portrait of KCR with colorful flowers and plants. 

They said that they had made the portrait to wish the Chief Minister after being inspired by the Kirti program which had been launched to make Telangana a green state.

The passerby immediately informed the police who rushed to the spot for the rescue work. (Source: Twitter/Tuticorin Police)

Five women were killed and several injured as the mini carrier in which they were travelling fell into a canal near Maniyaachi in Thoothukudi district on Tuesday. As many as 31 women farmers belonging to Manappai Veedu, TIrumalaikolunthupuram, Manalkaadu towns had travelled in that mini cargo to reach Puthiyampathur and Maniyachi areas for agricultural work. When they were about to reach their destination, the mini cargo overturned and plunged into a roadside canal.

READ | Five women farm workers killed as vehicle falls into canal in Thoothukudi

“Where the mind is without fear the head is held high.” This was the WhatsApp display status of lawyer couple G Vaman Rao and G Nagamani, who were waylaid on a busy highway in Telangana, pulled out of their vehicle, and hacked to death on Wednesday afternoon. Rao and Nagamani, who practised in the Telangana High Court, were known for their activism. They were attacked in Peddapalli district by two people between 2:15 and 2:30 pm when they were coming to Hyderabad, according to the Ramagundam Police.

READ | Lawyer couple hacked to death in Telangana

For assistance on COVID-19-related queries and mental health support in Chennai, citizens can contact the Greater Chennai Corporation's (GCC) COVID-19 helpline 044 46122300 | Citizens can find the nearest GCC-facilitated COVID-19 fever clinic here | For lodging rain-related complaints and assistance during the monsoon, citizens can contact the GCC's monsoon helplines 044 25384530 or 044 25384540 or the control room 1913 (available 24x7)

Chennai Hyderabad February 15, 16 Highlights