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SriLankan leaders mourn demise of Karunanidhi

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MK

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”.

National

India-Pakistan need to work for terror free South Asia: PM Modi writes to Imran Khan

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New Delhi | PM Modi on Monday wrote to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan and congratulated him for being elected as new Prime Minister of the Islamic democracy.

PM Modi in his letter wrote that “India is currently looking for good neighbourly relations with Pakistan. Both countries  should look for constructive and meaningful engagement towards this.” PM Modi also stressed for the “need to work for terror-free South Asia.”

Cricketer-turned-politician  Imran Khan on Saturday took oath as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan after his party Pakistan Tehrrek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the single largest party in the general election of Pakistan.

Responding to the letter by PM Modi, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs minister SM Qureshi said,” There is a need for continued and uninterrupted dialogue with India. We are neighbours. We have long-standing issues, both of us know these problems. But we have no other option but to engage in dialogue. We cannot afford adventurism.”

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Kasturirangan says pressure on land resources could be the reason behind rain fury

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Hyderabad  |  Pressure on Kerala’s limited land resources due to the growing population, denudation of the Western Ghats and climate change could be the reasons behind the floods that have ravaged the state, eminent scientist K Kasturirangan has said.

The former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) noted that the state’s population had increased in the last century and it “has its own pressures on the environment and resources”.

“So, together there has been an impact on the environment … The population has increased, there is more demand on resources, which includes land, agriculture and many other activities,” he told PTI.

Kasturirangan, who was a member of the now-defunct Planning Commission and hails from Kerala, said that heavy rains have in the past been “well managed” by nature through an exceptionally thick vegetation and other kinds of natural endowment that the state has, including the backwaters”.

But the size of the backwaters has shrunk to 50-60 per cent of what it was in the 1940s, he said.

Kasturirangan said the Western Ghats have denuded at many places, “and agricultural practices have been pursued there… population pressure has caused this”.

Climate change could also be a reason behind the heavy rains, according to him.

“There are multiple factors. One has to really analyse it,” he said.

He called for “proper planning” to minimize damage due to heavy rains.

Kasturirangan said steps should be taken to enable sustainable livelihood for Keralites, “make them happy and contented”.

The fierce monsoon rains in Kerala have claimed 210 lives since August 8 and displaced over 7.14 lakh people from their homes.

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Kerala requires technical assistance rather than food and clothing, claims Union Minister KJ Alphons

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Thiruvananthapuram | Union Minister and Kerala native KJ Alphons on Monday said that the state of Kerala who is currently suffering the worst floods since 1924 and it no more needs assistance in form of ‘food and clothing’.

Speaking to media, KJ Alphons said, “Help has been pouring in from all over the world, but the state doesn’t need food and clothes. What the state desperately needs is technical assistance to rebuild and recreate”. There will be no electricity in homes. Carpentry, plumbing would be gone. We need hundreds of thousands of electricians, plumbers, carpenters to rush to Kerala. We don’t need clothes/food. People with technical capabilities are required to put life back into Kerala,” added the Union Minister.

Speaking on the relief funds sanctioned by the Union Government, the Minister said,”The prime minister visited Kerala and took stock of the situation. He has promised assistance and whatever it takes to rebuild the state. He announced an immediate assistance of Rs. 500 crore. Before that Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Kiren Rijiju had sanctioned Rs. 100 crore and Rs. 80 crore, respectively. So money isn’t a problem.”

The state of Kerala has already suffered a loss of 21,000 crores with more than 7 lakh people have been forced to stay in relief camps due to constant rains and flood like situation in the state. Various state governments including Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh offered a contribution worth Rs.10 crores for the relief work. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also offered Rs. 15 crores from the Uttar Pradesh Relief Fund.

Informing about the relief work, the Union Minister further added, “Things are running very well and all central forces are providing amazing services. Fishermen have turned out to be the biggest heroes. We thank the people of India and other countries for sending help and showing compassion, but we need technical help when the water level goes down. There is no electricity or mobile connectivity. The homes are gone so we need thousands of electricians, carpenters and plumbers to rush to Kerala. The biggest challenge right now is to rebuild. We need people with technical skills to put life back on track.”

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