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SriLankan leaders mourn demise of Karunanidhi

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Colombo | Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa and several other political leaders in the country have expressed sorrow at the demise of former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi by recalling his contributions to cinema and politics.

The 94-year-old leader, a five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, breathed his last at Kauvery Hospital in downtown Chennai at 6.10 pm yesterday after waging a grim battle for life for 11 days.

Sri Lanka’s incumbent President Sirisena and his predecessor Rajapaksa in tweets said they were saddened by the death of the veteran Tamil Nadu leader.

“The death of M Karunanidhi, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and senior politician, deeply disturbed me. I express my deepest sympathy for everyone, including his family and supporters who have been saddened by the loss of Anna,” Sirisena tweeted.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he had spoken with M K Stalin over his father’s health.

“His contributions to Tamil literature, cinema and politics are unparalleled. I join the millions of people who are mourning. My deepest condolences to the family and people of Tamil Nadu,” Rajapaksa tweeted.

C V Wigneswaran, the chief minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated Northern Province, while paying tributes Karunanidhi said he led several protests for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause.

“But he could have further pressured Delhi to prevent the massacre in Mullaivaikkal (the scene of the final battle between the government troops and the LTTE),” Wigneswaran said.

During the Rajapaksa presidency, Karunanidhi was not seen in favourable light by Colombo for his pro-LTTE stand. In the 1980s during the LTTE’s formative years, Karunanidhi was accused of supporting them by Sri Lankan leaders.

The main Muslim party leader Rauff Hakeem tweeted, “His contribution as an artiste and a political ideologue would remain unmatched. This brings an epochal phase in Tamil Nadu political history to a close”.

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Centre trying to implement ₹900 cr sericulture projects in North East

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Itanagar | The Centre is trying to implement Rs 900 crore sericulture projects in the North East to empower farmers and weavers, Union Minister for Textile Smriti Irani on Friday said.

Launching the Integrated Large Scale Eri Farming in Arunachal Pradesh under North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS) at the state assembly here, Irani said the government has decided to provide financial assistance to 4000 beneficiaries under the scheme in the state.

Irani also assured to impart skill training to seri farmers and weavers under the Samarth Scheme, which was launched for capacity building in the textile sector.

There are 27000 looms and 33000 hand-loom weavers in Arunachal Pradesh.

Initially, the project would cover five districts of the state – namely Papumpare, East Kameng, Siang, East Siang and West Siang.

The union minister said that Eri silk farming would be held in about 1000 acres in the chosen districts.

If any registered weaver wants to upgrade their old looms then the government would give 90 percent financial assistance in buying a new one, she added.

“If the children of poor weaver families want to pursue higher studies either through National Institute of Open Schooling or Indira Gandhi National Open University, the government will bear 75 percent of their fees,” she said.

Union Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju said the traditional weaving culture in the state provides vast opportunity for textile sector and NERTPS is a scheme for women empowerment and employment generation.

Later interacting with the weavers, Irani suggested registration and branding of the loin loom products of every tribe in the state, a Raj Bhawan communique informed.

“This will facilitate access of the loin loom products to international markets,” she added.

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204 lions died in Gir in last two years: Gujarat government

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Gandhinagar | Over 200 lions died in the Gir forest region in the last two years, the Gujarat government told the legislative Assembly on Friday.

Only 27 of these deaths were because of “unnatural” causes such as getting hit by a train or falling into a well, it said.

To a query by Congress’ Bhagabhai Barad, forest minister Ganpat Vasava, in a written reply, said 110 lions and 94 cubs died in 2017 and 2018.

Of the 110 adult lions, 43 died in 2017 and 67 in 2018. Thirty-eight cubs died in 2017 and 56 in 2018, the reply said.

Of the 204 deaths, 27 (21 lions and six cubs) were because of “unnatural causes” such as falling into a well or being run over by a train, the minister said.

Vasava also said that 331 leopards, including 75 cubs, died in Gujarat forests in the last two years, adding the state government was taking various steps to prevent deaths due to unnatural causes.

Some of these preventive measures are building parapets around wells, fencing railway tracks, construction of speed breakers on roads passing through sanctuaries and continuous patrolling, the reply said.

To a question by Congress MLA Pratap Dudhat about the viral infection among lions last year, Vasava said 34 lions died in the last one year due to diseases including Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) infection.

Babesia, Streptococcal bacteria and Gram-negative bacilli infections were also responsible for some of these deaths, the minister said.

The government allocated Rs 21.96 crore for lion conservation in Gir in 2017 and Rs 27.89 crore in 2018, while the contribution of the Union government was Rs 1.92 crore and 1.06 crore for the last two years, he said.

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Rahul offers condolences over spurious liquor deaths in Assam’s Golaghat

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New Delhi | Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday offered condolences to the families of those who died after consuming spurious liquor in Assam’s Golaghat district.

At least 30 people, including seven women, died allegedly after consuming the liquor at a tea garden. Fifty others are undergoing treatment at various hospitals, a district official said.

“I am saddened by the incident which occurred in Assam’s Golaghat area. My deepest condolences to the families of the victims. I hope that those undergoing treatment get well soon,” Gandhi said in a Facebok post.

It is believed that more than 100 people — labourers at Salimira tea garden — consumed the spurious liquor on Thursday night, BJP MLA Mrinal Saikia said.

Police have arrested two people in connection with the deaths.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered an inquiry into the incident. Two excise officials of the district have been suspended.

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