‘Sadhana Cut’ continues to live

Some mahouts have walked the extra mile to make their elephants have a style statement of their own. Elephants sporting stylish hairdos were spotted at the special rejuvenation camp that began at Thekkampatti near Mettupalayam on Thursday. Adhinayagi, the 20-year-old elephant of Adhinatha Azhwar temple in Azhwar Tirunagari, was one of those which had well maintained hair. Karim Seth, the 55-year-old mahout says he uses a brush to clean Adhinayagi’s hair while bathing her. “Usually we rub her with a stone to scrape off dirt when we wash her. But we use a brush for her head. If we use a stone, hair wouldn’t grow,” Seth says. R Balan, the mahout of Lakshmi, the 19-year-old elephant of Aravindalochanar Temple from Sri Vaikundam, says he uses coconut oil to maintain the elephant’s hair. “Lakshmi is like my child. I wanted her to have a special look,” Balan says. He says he uses around 100g of coconut oil for Lakshmi’s hair daily. “When I bathe her, I wash away the oil using soap,” he adds. Rajkamal, 30, the mahout of Sengamalam, takes his elephant’s style statement to another level. Sengamalam has been brought from Rajagopalaswami temple, Mannargudi. He says he uses shampoo to clean his elephant’s hair. “We clean Sengamalam’s hair by using shampoo five times,” he says. “It will completely remove dirt from her head. Or else, it would feel itchy and she would scratch away all her hair with a twig or a shoot,” he says.
With thick, neatly cropped and copper-tinted hair, Sengamalam stands nearby and nods as if in agreement. Earlier in the day, ministers Dindigul C Srinivasan and Sevvoor S Ramachandran inaugurated the special rejuvenation camp for temple elephants, organised by the state government, at Thekkampatti near Mettupalayam.

Source : The Times of India

All set for elephant camp at Thekkampatti

The banks of River Bhavani at Thekkampatti, near Mettupalayam, is all set for the annual rejuvenation camp of temple and mutt elephants which will start on Thursday.As on Tuesday evening, 24 elephants from various temples were brought to the camp site. As many as 33 elephants are expected for the camp. Temple and mutt elephants from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will be taken to the 48-day-long camp organised by Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) Department. Abhayambigai, an elephant belonging to Mayuranathaswami Temple at Mayiladuthurai was the first to arrive at the camp on Wednesday.The elephant was brought to the camp in a lorry. As a gesture of greeting, the elephant waved its trunk at those present in the camp. Kalyani of Perur Patteeswarar Temple was taken to the camp on Wednesday after special prayers. Apart from facilities for the elephants, the camp also has an office, watch tower and facilities for veterinarians, Forest Department staff and mahouts. Electric fencing has been set up to prevent wild elephants entering the camp. Officials of HR&CE Department are present at the camp, which will be inaugurated at 9.30 a.m.

Source : The Hindu.


Stable outlook for TANGEDCO bonds from ratings firm

Ratings firm India Ratings and Research has assigned the final rating of ‘IND A(SO)’ to the ₹100 crore-bond programme of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO), with a stable outlook.

“The ratings remain supported by the credit profile of the government of Tamil Nadu which has guaranteed TANGEDCO’s bond issuances,” India Ratings said.

“The State’s own revenue contributed, on average, around 75 per cent to the total revenue receipts and the balance came from the Union government during FY01-FY15. The State’s credit profile is strengthened by its low reliance on the Central government for revenue. Higher reliance on its own sources of revenue is likely to insulate State finances from the fiscal performance of the Central government,” it said. The ratings firm said revenue receipts are estimated at ₹1,38,300 crore in FY16 and ₹1,48,175 crore in FY17.

“The State’s high level of committed expenditure reduces its flexibility around expenditure decisions and curtails the government’s ability to generate a surplus on the revenue account, which is credit negative for the state. Unlike revenue- surplus States, surplus revenue is not available to Tamil Nadu to fund capital outlay on the productive sectors of the economy. On the contrary, since the revenue balance will remain in deficit in FY17, capital expenditure along with the revenue deficit will have to be financed out of budgetary borrowings,” India Ratings said.

It also said the state needs to augment the spending on capital formation to maintain its position as a major industrial state. Earlier this month, Crisil had revised its rating outlook on bond programmes of Tamil Nadu government’s power firms to negative from stable, citing increasing pressure on state finances due to the widening revenue deficit.

Now, rich treat awaits foodies at Poompuhar

New café serves millet-based dishes and South Indian delicacies

For people visiting the Poompuhar showroom on Anna Salai, there is more than just traditional artefacts and handicrafts up for sale. Tucked away at the back is a café that has been serving traditional delicacies for over a month now.

The ‘Craft Café’, an initiative of the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd, popularly known as Poompuhar, and Sanskriti, a Chennai-based store, serve a mix of millet-based dishes and popular South Indian delicacies.

“The showroom sees a good number of tourists as well as visitors who like to take their time and browse through the handicrafts on display and make their purchases. While we initially made arrangements to serve refreshments for them a few months back, we realised then that there was empty space which could be used for a small café,” said Santhosh Babu, Chairman and Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd. “A café in Mahabalipuram is being conceptualised as a space which can also host small events and for tourists to lounge at, apart from having a similar menu of traditional delicacies,” Mr Santhosh added.

Mital Surendra from Sanskriti, who runs the café, said that they had conceptualised the menu keeping in mind traditional dishes which were completely free of preservatives or artificial additives.

108 ambulances to be on extra vigil

Emergency medical response service provider GVK EMRI will be on an extra vigil this New Year with prime focus on zero delay response by its fleet of ‘108 ambulances’ in the district.

GVK EMRI’s Programme Manager for Coimbatore V. Muthukrishnan said 29 ambulances will be stationed at strategic locations in the district to provide emergency medical response service when revelry peaks to herald the new year.

“Our fleet consisting 27 ambulances and two motorcycle-borne ‘first responders’ will be on extra vigil as chances for road traffic accidents are high during the revelry. While six ambulances will be positioned within city limits, the remaining ones will cover rural areas of Coimbatore,” said Mr. Muthukrishnan. The 108 ambulances are placed at locations on the basis of an accident hot spot review conducted by GVK EMRI.

While four persons were killed and 12 injured on New Year eve night in 2015, two casualties and 12 non-fatal accidents were reported on New Year day in 2016.

Why continue restrictions on withdrawing money: Chidambaram

“Will all ATMs be functional and have sufficient cash from Jan 2? If not, why not?”

Congress leader and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked the Centre why restrictions continued on withdrawing money after the deadline of December 30 for restoring order post-demonetisation had past.

In a tweet, Mr. Chidambaram asked: “PM (Prime Minister) asked for forbearance until December 30. That is over. Why are restrictions on withdrawing money continuing?”

“Will all ATMs be functional and have sufficient cash from Jan 2? If not, why not?”

“Will there be no demand hereafter for black money capitation fee for admission to medical and engineering colleges,” he asked.

“Will no bribes be given or taken after Jan 2?”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the scrapping of high-denomination currency notes on November 8, and subsequently sought 50 days to put things in order.

India to start taxing capital gains to Singapore investors from April

The move to tighten tax treaties is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-corruption drive

India will start imposing capital gains tax on investments coming from Singapore from April and fully withdraw exemptions in two years as the two countries agreed to amend a decade-old treaty after New Delhi rolled back similar concessions to Mauritius and Cyprus earlier this year.

With the amendments, announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, investors based in Singapore will no longer benefit from tax exemptions on capital gains taxes.

Changes to the treaty with the Asian financial centre had been widely expected after India this year similarly re-drafted a 33-year old tax treaty with Mauritius.

The tax treaty between India and Singapore had a provision that any changes in the Mauritius treaty would automatically apply to the one with the Asian country.

The move to tighten tax treaties is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-corruption drive, which includes tightening loopholes for firms or rich individuals setting up a presence in jurisdictions with tax exemption treaties.

Regulators have long suspected rich Indians were routing cash through these tax jurisdictions, and channeling money back to India in a practice known as “round tripping.”

“We are able to give a reasonable burial to this black money route,” Mr. Jaitley told reporters at a news briefing.

Capital gains tax will be imposed on investments from Singapore that are made from April onwards. The tax rate will behalf the prevailing Indian rate for the next two years and rates will then be equated by April 2019, Mr. Jaitley said.

Singapore has been an increasingly popular source of foreign investment into India.

Foreign direct investment flows from Singapore stood at$50.6 billion between April 2000 and Sept 2016, contributing more than 16 percent to total capital inflows during that period, second only to Mauritius

NATIONAL NATIONAL Railways may bring in cess on tickets again

The Railways may bring back a cess on tickets to finance its proposed Rs.1 lakh crore Rail Safety Fund after a rise in derailments this year.

The Railways had asked the Finance Ministry to sponsor almost 93 per cent of the fund. However, the Finance Ministry agreed to contribute only 25 per cent and asked it to raise the rest.

“In 2001-2007, a Special Railway Safety Fund of Rs.17,000 crore was created. The Railways raised Rs.5,000 crore through safety surcharge on passenger fare and the remaining Rs.12,000 crore came from the Finance Ministry. We are thinking on the same lines again,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, on condition of anonymity.

The 2001 move was based on recommendations of the Railway Safety Review Committee.

The fund was also meant for improving safety of rolling stock, upgrading training facilities, and simulators for locomotive drivers, among other things. During 2001-2007, the Railways levied a fee of Rs.1 for second class ordinary trains and Rs.2 for second class Mail or Express trains per person. For other classes, the surcharge had ranged between Rs.10 and Rs.100 depending on the class and distance of journey.

Recently, the Railway Ministry requested the Finance Ministry to create a non-lapsable safety fund named ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ worth Rs.1,19,183 crore. It asked the Finance Ministry to provide Rs.1,11,683 crore for safety improvement. However, despite multiple requests, it only agreed to give 25 percent of the amount, Railway Ministry sources said.

The fund is proposed to be utilised for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system, and safety work at level crossing, among other things.

Two major accidents

Within the last one month, the Railways have suffered two major accidents due to derailment. In November, the Patna-bound Indore-Rajendranagar Express went off the rails near Pukhrayan in Uttar Pradesh killing more than 145 persons. On Wednesday, the Ajmer-Sealdah Express got derailed near rural Kanpur causing injuries to over 60 passengers. Rail fracture is seen as the prima facie cause behind both the accidents.

Although the number of train accidents have reduced from 107 in 2015-16 to 87 till December 27 this year, derailments have gone up to 68 this fiscal year from 51 in the previous one.

Fire damages property at SBI building in Nungambakkam

A fire broke out in the State Bank of India building on Pycrofts Garden Road in Nungambakkam on Friday morning, damaging office property on the third floor.

According to a senior Fire and Rescue Services officer, smoke was noticed by some employees on the third floor immediately after the offices in the building were opened. The Fire Control Room was alerted and fire tenders rushed to the spot.

The officer said all the bank officials were evacuated to prevent any accidents.

Fire engulfed the third floor of the building where SBI Life Insurance functions from. It was brought under control after more than two hours of fire fighting. Four fire tenders were deployed. Traffic was affected for a few hours on Haddows Road. As per the investigation, the fire could have been due to an electrical short circuit.

Hasthinapuram residents draw attention to battered street

Residents of Jain Nagar First Cross Street, Hasthinapuram, have requested the Pallavapuram Municipality to lay the battered stretch and install street lights there.

“The stretch, which is nearly one km long, has not been re-laid for over five years. The thoroughfare connects Jain Nagar First Main Road and Maruthi Nagar Anjaneyar Kovil Street. During monsoon, the stretch becomes flooded, making it difficult for road users to navigate it. The stretch also lacks street lights, causing considerable problems for pedestrians and motorists,” residents said.

Pedestrians and vehicle users find it difficult to pass through the stretch after sunset. “After sunset, the stretch acts as a bar for tipplers. They consume alcohol in the open and throw away plastic water sachets, bottles, cigarette stubs and leftovers,” residents pointed out. “In this connection, we have given several petitions to the authorities, but no action has been taken yet. We will soon send a petition to the CM’s cell,” a resident said.