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Thursday, September 3, 2009

IIMs to follow IITs Warpath

AHMEDABAD: More than a week after the faculty members of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) went on a mass casual leave protesting against pay disparity under the Sixth Pay Commission, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are now springing into action.

IIM-A, which has taken a lead among the IIMs, has formed a 3-member committee to highlight the pay commission recommendations. The main grudge is the percentage increase in salary for IIM faculty has been lesser than that granted to their counterparts in other government agencies. As a result the premium in the pay scales enjoyed by IITs and IIMs has been considerably reduced after the latest pay revision.

The effort by the faculty, in which other IIMs will eventually be roped in, will be to build a case for making a representation before the Union HRD ministry. The committee’s report will be first circulated and discussed among the faculty members.

“We have been following developments in IITs. Our faculty are in touch with the protesting members there. We may not follow the IIT and go on mass CL, but since the issue is same, we may take a cue from the IITs. Our tone, however, may not be as strident,” said a faculty member.

“Our insistence will be on a symmetrical treatment with faculty under UGC institutions and other government agencies,” he said. Sources said the IIMs are taking time to react because, unlike IITs, there is no central plank through which the IIMs could jointly register their protest before the ministry.

“The IIMs have not been able to react faster as there is a lack of proper mechanism to mobilise and coordinate faculty members at various IIMs. We will first discuss the issue and reach a conclusion before approaching the Centre,” a source said.

The IITs have also protested on the grounds that the government has offered 40% less remuneration than their demand. As per Govardhan Mehta committee recommending pay hike for faculty members of IITs and IIMs, assistant professors have been put in 3rd pay band while both associate professors and professors have been kept in 4th pay band.

LCA or WHATEVER

September 2, 2009: India is determined to put its locally developed jet fighter, the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) into mass production. Five prototypes already exist, and another ten pre-production models will be built next year. By 2012, mass production (at least 20 aircraft a year) is to begin, no matter what. Or at least that's the plan. For over two decades, India has been trying to design, develop and manufacture its own "lightweight fighter." India calls it the LCA, and the project has been a major disaster.
The U.S. F-16 is probably the premier "lightweight fighter" in service, and entered wide service about the time India began thinking about creating their own. Both the F-16 (at least the earlier models), and the LCA, weigh about twelve tons. But the F-16 is a high performance aircraft, with a proven combat record, while the LCA is sort of an improved Mirage/MiG-21 type aircraft. Not too shabby, and cheap (about half the cost of an F-16). Also, for all this time, money and grief, India has made its aviation industry a bit more capable and mature.
When work began in the mid-1980s, it was believed that the aircraft would be ready for flight testing by 1990. A long list of technical delays resulted in that first flight taking place in 2001. Corners had to be cut to make this happen, for the LCA was originally designed to use the Indian built Kaveri engine. For a jet fighter, the engine is the most complex part of the aircraft, and the Kaveri has had its share of setbacks. Fortunately, there was an American engine, the GE 404, that fit the LCA, and could be used as a stop-gap. The Kaveri engine is not expected to be ready for flight tests until later this year, or thereabouts. The American engine has been used in the meantime.
For all this, India only plans to buy 200-300 LCAs, mainly to replace its aging MiG-21s. Export prospects are dim, given all the competition out there (especially for cheap, second-hand F-16s). The delays have led the air force to look around for a hundred or so new aircraft (or even used F-16s) to fill the gap between elderly MiG-21s falling apart, and the arrival of the new LCAs. However, two decades down the road, the replacement for the LCA will probably be a more competitive, and timely, aircraft.
The LCA was not the first attempt to produce an Indian jet fighter. The HF-24 was an earlier attempt at developing a modern fighter. Designed by Kurt Tank (who also designed the FW-190 and Ta-152), the HF-24 was a failure because India could not develop a powerful enough engine. Thus the 147 HF-24s built, served from the 1960s, to the 1980s, as a ground attack aircraft.

Furore over out-of-turn promotion to cops

NEW DELHI: A decision of the Cabinet Committee on Appointments to grant the rank of special secretary to all IPS officers of the 1975 batch who were recently promoted as director-generals has created a stir with a section of officialdom seeing it as an extraordinary and unnecessary measure.

The story apparently begins with the out-of-turn rank being given to three officers who had the "right" connections. One of these senior cops was related to a governor who commands some attention with the Congress-led government at the Centre. These officers were worried that they would be retiring without the benefits of senior rank.

When the government took the rather unusual measure of upping the ranks of just these three officers, it perhaps did not anticipate the protests that would follow. While the cops in question could be said to have pulled strings, their batchmates were not ordinary folks and took umbrage to the exception that had been made.

Sensing that the goodies would have to be spread out more evenly, the ACC then granted the benefits to all officers of that batch. But this created another anomalous situation. Suddenly, by virtue of their special rank, these officers became "senior" to those who were higher up the pecking order in their respective organisations. The heartburn is not serious, but some of these officers have about two years to go for retirement.

The fallout of the ACC's decision is being felt in several central organisations including police and security outfits. What seems to have happened is that in every organisation as well as some state police forces, one or two officers have become the odd men out due to the ACC decision. What is causing some annoyance is that while the committee moved quickly on these promotions, it does not show similar alacrity otherwise.

But with the ACC being headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and including home minister P Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, no one is asking too many questions.

Sibal holds talks with IIT directors over salaries

Sept. 2: Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday held talks with IIT directors and assured them that the government would look into their demand for added incentives positively. The government move is expected to end the faculty protest they are expected to return to work. The IIT directors have also assured the minister that they will work to resolve the issue.
Official sources stated that the HRD minister has promised the IIT directors that their demands would be looked into properly. "IIT directors have also assured the government of their full cooperation on the issue," sources added.
Speaking after the meeting, IIT Kanpur director Prof. Sanjay Govind Dhande stated that the meeting was held in an amicable environment and the government had assured them of looking into the faculty’s demands. "We are satisfied with the minister’s response and he has assured us that the matter will be resolved at the earliest," Prof. Dhande stated.
Faculty members had alleged that the new pay structure, notified by the ministry, sets annual increments at scales lower than those prescribed by the central pay panel under former Indian Institute of science director Goverdhan Mehta. The Central panel had proposed better incentives for IIT and IIM faculties to counter better salaries offered by industry and foreign universities in an effort to stop the brain drain from these top institutes.

Choppers can't land so troops being dropped at crash site

Hyderabad : The Indian Air Force (IAF) is trying to para-drop troops on the hill where the missing helicopter carrying Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and four others was traced Thursday morning.
Two IAF helicopters are hovering over the hill in the dense forests of Kurnool, but landing is very difficult, officials said, adding that they were trying to drop troops by for relief and rescue operations.
The IAF choppers also dropped papers with "crash site" written on it. The paper contains the technical details of the exact site. It is believed to be meant to guide the forces engaged in ground search operations.
Some police officials on the ground saw the pieces of paper and are trying to head towards the crash site between Rudrapuduru and Velugodu villages. A large number of police and civil officials and villagers were also trying to reach the crash site in the Nallamalla forest.

Indian Air Force gets new head of human resource

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) Air Marshal K.J. Mathews Wednesday took over as the new head of human resource of the Indian Air Force (IAF), an official said Wednesday.
Mathews took charge as Air Officer-in-Charge Personnel (AOP) from Air Marshal Sumit Mukerjee.
Commissioned in the year 1973, Mathews has over 3,500 hours of flying to his credit on various aircraft that include HF-24 (Marut), Hunter, MiG-21M and MiG-29. He was also a team member of “Thunderbolts” — IAF’s erstwhile aerobatic team.
The appointments he has held so far include station commander of an operational base during Kargil operations, air officer commanding of air force station Adampur, Principal Director of Concept Studies, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations) at Air HQ and Commandant Air Force Academy.
Air Marshal Mathews is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, and Air War College, the US.

Centre wants states to rope in ex-naval personnel for security

New Delhi, Sept 2 (PTI) Dismissing the contention of certain states that there were not enough trained people available to operate boats for coastal security, the Centre has suggested that they rope in retired naval personnel.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said some states have complained that they cannot appoint trained personnel to operate the boats for coastal security.

"I told the Chief Ministers that I don't accept that argument. There are any number of trained personnel retired from Indian Navy, retired from Coast Guard or retired from Merchant Navy.

"So, how can states like Kerala, Maharashtra or Gujarat, where there are thousands of people retired from Navy or Coast Guard or Merchant Navy, can say that they cannot get a handful of people to operate these boats. I don't buy the argument," he said yesterday when asked about the complaint from some states.

Soldiers who join after school may keep studying

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) The Indian Army has outlined an ambitious plan by which its soldiers who join after school will be able to study for a degree while they are in service.
The scheme will benefit many of the 1.2 million soldiers of the Indian Army. The system will be based on the US system of community colleges.
“The community colleges will be located in our training, human resource and regimental centres,” a senior Indian Army official told IANS, requesting anonymity.
Every year nearly 50,000 trained soldiers retire from the army after an average of 15 years of service.
“The army jawans retire generally after 15 years of service and form a part of highly trained, dedicated, disciplined and loyal work force. But most of them are merely school pass-outs. A graduate degree will open up whole lots of avenues for them,” an army official associated with the project said.
For its programme, the Indian Army has tied up with Indira Gandhi National Open Univeristy (IGNOU). A memorandum in this regard will be signed between the Indian Army and IGNOU Sep 4.
“The jawans will be given BA, BBA, BSc and BCom degrees depending on their area of work,” the official added.
The soldiers will work to earn 92 credits for getting a graduation degree.
The first 64 credits will be given to the soldier for his work within the army. He will also need to do some courses for which he will be awarded certificates.
Thereafter he will go to the IGNOU programme to earn the remaining credits.
For those soldiers who join after Class 10, the army will be organising bridge courses to bring them at par with those who have completed Class 12.
“It will provide a lot of benefit to the soldiers. They will become graduates for less money and will get a degree from an internationally recognised university. Most jawans who look for second employment in the open market post retirement will get better options. These benefits will be besides the value addition to the quality of life of the jawan and his family,” another official added.
“The programme will have international ramifications, as after their graduation the soldiers may go abroad for higher studies or for work and will form a viable work force globally,” said the official.

IGNOU to tie up with Indian army

New Delhi, Sep 2 (PTI) IGNOU will soon tie up with Indian army to set up community colleges in its cantonments and other defence establishments to impart education in market-driven courses and soft skill programmes.

"The courses will be for army personnel and their family members to help the unemployed members secure employment," varsity officials said, adding the programmes will also be useful for those personnel who are looking to start a new career after retirement.

The faculty will comprise teachers from IGNOU as well as from the defence forces.

Other details of the project and the funds are being worked out, they said.

IGNOU had recently started 100 community colleges in various parts of the country with an aim to help the underprivileged avail quality education, besides targeting drop outs.

Silicone limbs impress Army Chief

Pune From a partial hand, cosmetic finger and thumb to a carbon reinforced foot, the Artificial Limb Centre (ALC) of the Indian Armed Forces now uses silicone solutions to suit the injured soldier’s needs. The implants have been tailor-made to suit the needs of Army and civilian personnel with deformities. On Wednesday, it was the turn of Indian Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor to spend time with convalescing patients at ALC.
“They are doing a wonderful job here,” Gen Kapoor said as he wrote about his experience in the visitors’ book. Gen Kapoor also visited the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC). Silicones are largely inert, man-made solutions with a wide variety of forms and uses. They are polymers that include silicon together with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and sometimes other elements. The silicone restoration lab, added to the ALC in October 2008, has till date seen the technicians and prosthetists devise 42 cosmetic fingers, 11 cosmetic hands and 10 cosmetic feet.
Initially set up at a cost of Rs 50 lakh, the laboratory apart from importing the silicone material, the Silicone Restoration Lab provides life-like cosmetic replacement for various limb losses, said Brig M K Mukherjee, Commandant of the Artificial Limb Centre (ALC).
Original research is in hand to develop customised pressure-relieving silicone insoles that will help reduce the need for amputations such as in diabetics. Collaboration is also on with leading organisations to explore the vast field of rehabilitation engineering, he said.
Col A K Saxena, commanding officer the ALC workshop, said silicone material is imported from the UK. A partial hand costs Rs 16,965, while a cosmetic finger costs Rs 1,615, a thumb Rs 2,065 and a foot Rs 21,680. These are sold to patients but the cost is half of that in a private hospital, said Col Saxena.
Although the centre was raised with the primary objective of providing artificial limbs to the vast casualties of the two World Wars, the facilities were extended to the dependents of Armed Forces personnel and civilians in 1951. The patients, coming from all over India and its neighbouring countries, has grown to over 50,000, many of them going back to the World War II era while many are veterans of the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars.

Army kills 5 militants on Kashmir border

SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Five militants were shot dead by Indian soldiers on Wednesday when they tried to sneak into Kashmir from the Pakistani side, the tenth infiltration attempt to be foiled in the past month, the Indian army said.
Intelligence officials say Pakistan-based militant groups have stepped up infiltration into Kashmir across the Line of Control (LoC) before winter snow blocks the Himalayan mountain passes.
The fresh incursion in Gurez sector in north Kashmir comes a day after Pakistani troops fired across the LoC killing an Indian soldier.
"The infiltrating group was heavily armed, we have killed five so far, the search operation continues near LoC," army spokesman Colonel Uma Maheshwari said.
The infiltration comes despite a ceasefire between the two armies and a three-metre-high barbed wire security fence along most of the 742-km LoC.
New Delhi accuses Pakistan of arming, training and sending militants to the strife-torn region.
Pakistan, which like India claims all of Kashmir, has consistently denied its involvement in abetting the anti-India insurgency that has killed more than 47,000.

Andhra Pradesh CM dead in chopper crash: PMO sources

NEW DELHI: Prime Ministers Office declared on Thursday that Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy died in an air crash.

The helicopter carrying YSR Reddy, two of his staff and two pilots went missing in pouring rain Wednesday morning over the Naxal and tiger-infested Nalamalla forests.

Five bodies were been found at the site where Andhra Pradesh chief minister YSR Reddy chopper’s wreckage has been traced.

The government on Thursday confirmed that Nearly 24 hours after YSR's chopper went missing, it was located atop Serai Salem hill, at a distance 40 nautical miles (70 kms) east of Kurnool.

The CM left Hyderabad on a six-seater Bell chopper at 8.35am for Chittoor accompanied by his secretary and chief security officer. After 9.27am, radio contact was lost with the helicopter.

Soon after the chopper lost contact, multiple agencies of the state launched a massive hunt for possible wreckage in the desolate terrain. By evening, it expanded into the country's biggest-ever search operation with satellites in the sky joining remote sensing aircraft, fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, troops on the ground and even barefoot deer-hunting tribals with bows and arrows.

Army withdrawing 39 Mountain Division from Poonch

Jammu, September 2
Even as Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor had said that the time was not ripe for the withdrawal of the Army from Kashmir valley, an entire Army division, comprising more than 15,000 personnel, is being withdrawn from the insurgency hit border districts of Poonch and Rajouri.
The Army is withdrawing the 39 Mountain Division from Rajouri and Poonch back to its base in Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. General Officer in Commanding of the Rising Star Corps Lt-Gen GM Nair said: “The division is being shifted and some of its units have already reached its base in Palampur.”
The 39 Mountain Division was shifted to Jammu and Kashmir to carry out counter insurgency and counter infiltration operations in 1994. However, it was later moved back to Palampur. But during the operation ‘Vijay’, it was redeployed in the state and since then the division has been conducting operations in the state.
“The entire division has not been moved completely so far. It will take some time. It takes nearly six months to shift the entire division,” Lt-Gen Nair said.
The movement of the division comes a year after the government moved the Naria (Rajouri)-based 27 Mountain Division out of the state.
The shifting of the 39 Mountain Division, which was looking after the most security sensitive districts of the state, would give an upper hand to the militants in the area. People residing in these areas have already expressed apprehensions of the increased militant activities.
The division had played an active role during the operation ‘Sarp Vinash’ which was launched to eliminate terrorists who had taken shelter on the heights of Kaka hill of Rajouri district in 2003.
“It is operational requirement and the division had to be moved back to its base in Palampur where it would undergo the routine training exercises,” a senior officer of the Rising Star Corps said.
Meanwhile, the GoC of the Corps said a large number of ‘local terrorists’ who had crossed the border to take arms training were willing to return and surrender. However, Pakistan was preventing them from doing so, the GoC said.
He said Pakistan had taken advantage of the ongoing ceasefire and had fortified its positions along the border by building ditch-cum-bunds and new observation towers along the International Border.

VHP seeks Prez’s intervention

The VHP today sought personal intervention of President Pratibha Devisingh Patil into the withdrawal of 15,000 Army personnel from the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch.
Addressing mediapersons here today, state VHP president Ramakant Dubey said if the move being made at the behest of the Kashmir-centric government was not reversed, militancy would re-escalate in the two districts.
Pulling out 15,000 troops from these border areas would not only give impetus to terrorism in these militancy-infested areas but also create fear-psychosis among the people living there, he said.
Dubey said moving 15,000 troops back to their peace-time location in Himachal Pradesh would have serious ramifications on the security scenario in the two districts.

Imported uranium boost for dead reactor

The Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal has started bearing fruits and its result is there for all to see at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station at Rawatbhata in Kota district.
The power station’s 200-MW second unit, shut since July 2007, resumed its operations only yesterday following feeder replacement and getting the supply of required fuel.
The unit produced 140 MW power on Tuesday and its power generation will be gradually increased to 200 MW. The unit will generate 48 lakh units of power daily.
The unit would achieve 100 per cent power level in this month only and it would supply power to Rajasthan.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) synchronised the unit, which is already under international safeguards, to the grid using uranium imported from France and Russia.
Site Director CP Jhamb confirmed that they were awaiting supply of fuel to restart the second unit of the power station. Chief Superintendent RK Aggarwal said after the Indo-US deal, 300 tonnes of uranium fuel has reached from France to Hyderabad, while another 30 tonnes of fuel has been received from Russia.
Apart from it, an agreement has been reached with Russia for the supply of 2,000 tonnes uranium fuel, he said, adding that the power station is under IAEA safeguards and they can use imported fuel.
Meanwhile, the uranium fuel for the fifth unit of the power station is expected to reach here next month and it will start its operation from November. The power station’s third, fourth and sixth unit are also likely to start their operations from March 2010.
The second unit, which came up in 1980 with the help of Canada, had been shut down on July 2, 2007 for performance improvement upgrades and also due to non-availability of the required fuel.

Pak proposes, India disposes

While claiming that Islamabad had taken concrete steps in the context of the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik today strongly pitched for the resumption of dialogue with New Delhi to address all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing senior defence and civilian officers at the National Defence College here, Malik emphasised that dialogue was the only way to move forward for both India and Pakistan.
It is significant that Malik was invited to address senior officers despite the continuing stand off between India and Pakistan over Islamabad’s approach in dealing with the perpetrators of the Mumbai mayhem.
India is disappointed with Pakistan for not doing anything concrete to punish the plotters of the Mumbai attacks despite having been handed over as many as six dossiers linking elements in the neighbouring country with the 26/11 incidents.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna reflected India’s growing frustration with Islamabad again today in a statement issued today by the External Affairs Ministry to highlight its achievements during the first 100 days of the UPA regime.
“We do believe that it is in our vital interest to engage and normalise our relations with Pakistan. At the same time we are very clear that any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can only be based on fulfillment of its commitment, in letter and spirit, not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India,” Krishna said.
He also firmly told Islamabad that steps to address the issue of terrorism would be in the interest of bilateral relationship and also in the interest of Pakistan.
It is becoming quite clear that the resumption of bilateral dialogue anytime in the near future is quite a distance away. Malik had recently met Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and invited her to visit Islamabad for talks with her counterpart Salman Bashir ahead of the talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meet.
But India has ruled out a visit by the Foreign Secretary to Islamabad though the meeting between Krishna and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi is on as of now. New Delhi does not have high expectations from this meeting either.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani envoy, in his address, said his country was committed to serving as an anchor of peace and stability in the region. Pakistan was taking resolute action to eliminate terrorism and militancy. It was a regional issue and required a regional solution.
Malik also referred to the Sharm el Sheikh joint statement issued by the Prime Ministers of the two countries, in which they acknowledged that dialogue was the only way forward to discuss all outstanding issues.

Govt agrees to IITs’ demand

Following days of protests by the faculty of IITs and IIMs, who have been alleging discrimination in pay brackets vis-à-vis the UGC, the HRD Ministry is learnt to have assured the protesters fair play in the matter by bringing some kind of parity of scales between IIT and UGC faculty.
Sources in the ministry said assistant professors in IITs and IIMs might be moved to a higher scale of Pay Band IV (starting Rs 37,000) instead of Pay band III as earlier notified. In the recently announced pay scales for the IIT faculty, an assistant professor had been placed in Pay Band III, similar to the scale of the corresponding faculty under UGC scales recommended by the GK Chadha committee.
Whereas in UGC scales, an assistant professor would automatically move to a higher pay band IV after three years of teaching, the said provision was missing in the notified scales for IITs implying that an assistant professor in IIT would earn less than a professor of a UGC recognised university, besides also having to undergo a selection process to go higher in the career ladder as against his UGC counterpart who would move automatically.
The government is said to have told the IITs that it would go to the Cabinet to resolve some of the proposed issues of parity. The decision followed a day-long meeting with IIT directors. That apart, the government is yet to accept higher education technical and management institutes’ demand for incentive-based and scholastic rewards for their faculty.

Chopper missing, Andhra CM untraced

Hyderabad, September 2
A helicopter carrying Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy went missing in bad weather conditions over the Maoist-infested Nallamala forest area in Kurnool district today, triggering panic in the state.
There was no trace of the twin-engine Bell-430 chopper, which lost radio contact at 9.30 am, till late in the night even as massive search operation, assisted by the Army and the Indian Air Force, was launched across the 400 sq km forest area.
“So far, there is no information about the helicopter. We are making all possible efforts to locate it,” Chief Secretary P Ramakanth Reddy told reporters here.
Seven helicopters, including four from the IAF, and a special low-flying aircraft from ISRO, which can take high-resolution pictures, are engaged in the aerial search operations, while over 2,000 policemen have been deployed for ground operations.
The chopper, carrying the CM, his Chief Security Officer ASC Wesley, Principal Secretary S Subrahmanyam and two pilots, left Hyderabad at 8.30 am and was scheduled to land at Chittoor, about 600 km from the state capital, at 10.30 am. The CM was scheduled to launch a mass contact programme and interact with villagers at Chittoor.
The chopper lost the radio contact with the Air Traffic Control at 9.30 am while flying over Nallamala forest area in bad weather conditions. Since then, the state administration was caught in utter confusion about the fate of the chopper. With each passing hour, tension kept mounting and the mood turning grim.
Heavy rains, difficult terrain and Maoist presence in the Nallamala forest region have further added to the fears of the authorities. The inclement weather and heavy downpour are hampering the search operations.
Initially, it was thought that the pilot might have made emergency landing in the Nallamala forest area near Kurnool due to bad weather. However, the mood turned grim with no communication from the CM and no trace of the chopper.
Special police parties, including anti-Naxalite force and five battalions of CRPF, have fanned out across the districts of Kurnool, Mahaboobnagar, Chittor and Prakasam and carrying out search operations.
Large contingents of ‘Grey Hounds’, the elite anti-Naxalite commando force, have been rushed to Kurnool and Prakasam districts for search and rescue operations. Contradictory reports from various government agencies further compounded the confusion. The Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel’s announcement in the afternoon that the CM’s helicopter had landed safely had brought cheers to the administration.
However, within hours, the government denied the reports of safe landing and said the chopper was still untraceable.
The Finance Minister K Rosaiah, widely seen as number two in the state Congress hierarchy, appealed to the people, particularly the tribals in Nallamala area, to help in tracing the missing chopper.
An emergency monitoring centre has been set up at the Secretariat here. The Chief Secretary, DGP SSP Yadav, Intelligence Chief Aravinda Rao and political advisor to the government KVP Ramachandra Rao are closely monitoring the situation and coordinating the efforts to trace the chopper.
Due to bad mobile connectivity and the area being inaccessible, officials have so far failed to make any contact with the CM, sending security agencies into a tizzy.
“So far we have not been able to make any contact. It is possible that because of strong winds and inclement weather, it may have landed in an unfamiliar area from where getting out can be difficult. The time we have before sunset is limited and it is raining heavily,” the Chief Secretary said.
The Prime Minister’s Office, Union Home Ministry and Defence Ministry have been monitoring the search operations while the office of Congress President Sonia Gandhi was in touch with the state government.
The Nallamala forest is spread over 6,000 sq km and traverses through Mahabubnagar, Kurnool and Prakasam districts which are on the flight path of the helicopter. The aerial rescue operations are being spearheaded by the IAF’s Training Command headquartered in Bangalore.

Pakistan is “going beyond nuclear deterrence” if reports of it having a large stockpile of nuclear missiles with India specific delivery system are true, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said today. “It is a matter of concern for us,” Kapoor said reacting to an article published in the latest issue of 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist' about enhanced nuclear arsenal of Pakistan. “There were certain degrees of deterrence and the figure of 70-90 nuclear warheads directed against a country certainly goes beyond the concept of deterrence,” the Army chief said. In the article, US experts Robert S Norris and Hans Kristensen estimate that Pakistan's nuclear stockpile has jumped to an estimated 70-90 warheads from a previous figure of 60. “A new nuclear-capable ballistic missile is being readied for deployment, and two nuclear capable cruise missiles are under development. Two new plutonium production reactors and a second chemical separation facility also are under construction,” they wrote. On the Chinese incursions along the border, the Army chief said there was no cause for “alarm”. “The level of incursions was the same as it was last year,” he said, adding that troops also carried out patrolling along the border that “could be perceived differently”.

Pakistan is “going beyond nuclear deterrence” if reports of it having a large stockpile of nuclear missiles with India specific delivery system are true, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said today. “It is a matter of concern for us,” Kapoor said reacting to an article published in the latest issue of 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist' about enhanced nuclear arsenal of Pakistan.
“There were certain degrees of deterrence and the figure of 70-90 nuclear warheads directed against a country certainly goes beyond the concept of deterrence,” the Army chief said.
In the article, US experts Robert S Norris and Hans Kristensen estimate that Pakistan's nuclear stockpile has jumped to an estimated 70-90 warheads from a previous figure of 60. “A new nuclear-capable ballistic missile is being readied for deployment, and two nuclear capable cruise missiles are under development. Two new plutonium production reactors and a second chemical separation facility also are under construction,” they wrote.
On the Chinese incursions along the border, the Army chief said there was no cause for “alarm”. “The level of incursions was the same as it was last year,” he said, adding that troops also carried out patrolling along the border that “could be perceived differently”.