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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise(SIMBEX) Ceremony at Vizag

Silver Jubilee Commemoration Ceremony to mark the 25th edition of SIMBEX, “Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise” was held onboard INS Sahyadri at Visakhapatnam today, 19 November 18. The Ceremony was attended by Adm Sunil Lanba, the Chief of Naval Staff and Rear Adm Lew Chuen Hong, Chief of Navy Republic of Singapore, Vice Adm Karambir Singh FOC-in-C ENC, Flag Officers, Commanding Officers and personnel from participating ships. Rear Adm Dinesh K Tripathi, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet welcomed the Guests to the historic occasion to commemorate the 25th edition of the bilateral exercise between the two navies of India and Republic of Singapore. Speaking on the occasion, Adm Sunil Lanba highlighted that SIMBEX is the longest un-interrupted bilateral maritime exercise that India has had with any navy. The importance of this achievement was also flagged by the Hon’ble Prime Minister at the Shangri La Dialogue in June this year. He also reiterated that naval cooperation through SIMBEX underscores the shared commitment of both nations to security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the global commons. The 25th edition of SIMBEX is the largest in terms of complexity, weapon firings and maritime geography. He concluded by reminding the audience the motto of the Republic of Singapore Navy Beyond Horizon while that of the Indian Navy Sam No Varunah which translates to May the Ocean Gods be Auspicious Unto Us. As the Silver Jubilee of the maritime bilateral exercises progress, he wished SIMBEX to go Beyond Horizons and in the process, let the ocean gods be auspicious unto both the navies. Addressing the gathering, Adm Lew Chuen Hong, Chief of Navy Republic of Singapore Navy referred to the historic maritime links through maritime trade of both countries dating back to 3rd and 4th century. He brought out that Singapore and India are like minded countries that share similar outlook towards preserving freedom of sea following rules and norms laid down in UNCLOS. He highlighted the special relations that both navies have through substantive interactions. Corner stone for Navy-Navy relations is SIMBEX which stated as a basic anti-submarine exercise in 1994 as Lion King has grown from strength to strength. The 25th edition of SIMBEX is the largest ever participation by the Singapore Navy in any bilateral exercise. To mark the historic occasion and as a symbol of growing trust and comfort levels between the two navies, a special Logo was also released. The occasion was also utilised to simultaneous release Special Postal Cover and Singaporean Postage Stamp on SIMBEX.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Vizag Navy Marathon

The fifth edition of Vizag-Navy Marathon, the largest running event in the "City of Destiny", was conducted at the Beach Road on Sunday, 18 November 18. On the pleasant Sunday morning, 15,149 enthusiastic runners participated in 42.2 Km Courage Run, 21.1 Km Destiny Run, 10 Km Friendship Run and 05 Km Run for Fun, starting from Vishwapriya Function Hall on the pristine Beach Road along the Bay of Bengal. The highlight of this year was the participation of 20 runners from Singapore Navy in the Friendship Run, to commemorate 25 years of bilateral exercises between India and Singapore, "SIMBEX-18". The event had a tremendous response from all walks of life. Participants from all age groups, children with parents, veterans, youth, naval personnel, foreigners and school children ran side by side, stride by stride. In addition to the participants, citizens of the city came out in large numbers to cheer the runners with spontaneity and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere from early in the morning. 351 runners participated in 42 Km Courage Run which was flagged off at 04:15 am by the Capt Animesh Nagar Cd Sports Officer ENC and Race Director Dr Murli Nannapaneni while 2254 runners participated in the 21 Km Destiny Run which was flagged off at 05:15 am by Cmde Arvind Sharma, Commanding Officer, INS Kalinga. The 10 Km Friendship Run was flagged off at 06:30 am by Rear Adm Edwin Leong, Fleet Commander, Republic of Singapore Navy in the presence of Rear Adm DK Tripathi, NM, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet where over 4291 runners including those from Singapore Navy participated. The 05 Km Run for Fun witnessed record participation of 8253 runners and was flagged off at 07:00 am by Cdr V Sriramulu (Retd) a nonagenarian veteran and World Masters Athletics Award Winner and Vice Adm Karambir Singh, PVSM, AVSM, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, ENC. It was a proud moment for the parents who ran with their children and matched strides with some eminent marathon runners. Vizag Navy Marathon has become the signature running event in the City of Destiny, Visakhapatnam which has been accredited by the AIMS - Association of International Marathons, which proudly makes VNM a internationally recognised event and a qualifier run for the World Marathon Majors. The event was conducted without any untoward incident thanks to the effective traffic management from Police Department and a host of facilities manned by volunteers manning hydration points, medical points and restrooms throughout the route. An event of this scale and proportion has inscribed the name of the City of Destiny on the Marathon Map of the country with whole hearted support from District Administration, City Police Authorities, GVMC, AP Tourism Department, Sports Authority of AP, Care Hospital and the numerous volunteers.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Public hearing on implementation of the RTI Act in Andhra Pradesh

A public hearing was held in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh on the RTI Act. Hundreds of people from across the state participated in the hearing and testified about various issues related to the implementation of the RTI Act in AP, especially the problems faced by people due to the state information commission not being functional for the last 18 months. The public hearing was co-organised by the United Forum for RTI, AP and the National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information (NCPRI). Mr. EAS Sarma, former IAS officer, Ms. Anjali Bhardwaj, co-convener of the National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information (NCPRI) and Mr. B. Ramakrishna Raju, national convenor, National Alliance for Peoples Movements (NAPM) formed the panel which heard peoples testimonies. Several people testified that in cases of violations of the RTI Act, they have no redress as the state information commission is not functional. After the bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the SIC of Andhra Pradesh continued to function as the information commission for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The commission became defunct in May 2017 after the serving nformation commissioners retired. Since then, the commission has been non-functional. RTI activists have filed cases in the Hyderabad High Court and the Supreme Court regarding peoples fundamental Right to Information being frustrated due to absence of the commission. The Andhra Pradesh government issued an order regarding the constitution of the SIC of Andhra Pradesh in August 2017, and has now appointed 3 commissioners in October 2018. However, no chief information commissioner has been appointed and the commission continues to be non-functional. No appeals and complaints regarding violations of the RTI Act are being heard. Mr. Verma of Vijaynagram testified that he had sought a copy of the report of the SIT set up by the government to look into a land scam. His RTI application has been denied and in the absence of the state information commission, he is unable to appeal against the denial. Another RTI user shared that his RTI application seeking details of foreign trips by the CM and his son was denied and he too is unable to take the matter forward as the commission has not been constituted. Emmanuel, convenor of the UFRTI, testified that his appeal to the commission has been pending since 2010. Chakradhar Buddha, convenor of the UFRTI, presented the preliminary findings of an audit of proactive disclosures of public authorities of AP. The audit showed that most public authorities failed to properly meet their obligations of proactive disclosures of information under section 4 of the RTI Act. Mr. Sarma, Anjali Bhardwaj and Mr. Raju urged people to continue their efforts to demand proper implementation of the RTI Act. Anjali Bhardwaj shared that during the upcoming winter session of Parliament, several protests are being planned against proposed amendments to the RTI Act. For any further information please contact Chakradhar at 92465 22344.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Indian Navy completes refit of Maldivian Coast Guard Ship Huravee

Maldivian Coast Guard Ship (MCGS) Huravee successfully completed her refit at Naval Dockyard Visakhapatnam and the ship was formally handed over to Major Mohamed Jamshad, Commanding Officer MCGS Huravee in a ceremony organised to commemorate the occasion on 15 November 2018. The chief guest for the function, Rear Admiral Amit Bose, Admiral Superintendent Naval Dockyard thereafter addressed the gathering wherein he ensured continued support of the Indian Navy to the Maldivian Coast Guard. The Commanding Officer also took this opportunity to thank the Indian Navy for the successful completion of the refit. The event concluded by customary crest exchange between the ship and the chief guest. The four-month long refit to MCGS Huravee is an initiative by the Indian Navy undertaken in furtherance of the Indian Navys diplomatic outreach to friendly foreign navies in the Indian Ocean Region. The ship had arrived at Visakhapatnam on 12 Jul 18 and successfully completed her refit on 14 Nov 18. During the refit, major repairs were undertaken on the ship’s hull, main propulsion and auxiliaries. In addition number of systems and equipment were upgraded for better performance and reliability. All equipment were put through extensive harbour and sea trials so as to achieve full combat capability of the ship and ensure her continuous availability for operations to the Maldives Coast Guard for next operational cycle. MCGS Huravee was originally commissioned as INS Tillanchang, a Trinkat class patrol vessel built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkatta in Mar 2001 and was subsequently gifted to Maldives by the Govt of India in Apr 2006 to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two nations and work together to ensure the maritime safety of the Indian Ocean Region. The Indian Government through the Navy has undertaken such diplomatic courtesies previously when it undertook the refit of the ship in 2015.

Friday, November 16, 2018

SIMBEX-18 Sea Phase Progress in the Bay of Bengal

First part of the Sea Phase of the 25th Edition of SIMBEX - Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise is progressing in the Bay of Bengal. Indian Naval Ships Ranvijay, Satpura, Sahyadri, Shakti, Kirch, Kadmatt, Sumedha and Sukanya under the Command of Rear Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet are exercising with RSN Ships, Formidable, Steadfast, Unity, Valiant, Vigour and RSS Swordsman, an Archer Class submarine and Swift Rescue, a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) under the Command of Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ho Jee Kien, Commanding Officer of 188 Missile Corvette Squadron. Complex maritime combat drills including live weapon firings are included in the Sea Phase of SIMBEX this year.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Steel Secretary presents "National Sustainability Award" to RINL

Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd-Visakhapatnam (RINL-VSP) is the proud recipient of the "National Sustainability Award - Second Prize" for the year 2018 (Integrated Steel Plants Category) in recognition of Quality Control aspects in the Steel Sector. Sri Binoy Kumar, IAS, Secretary to Govt of India, Ministry of Steel presented the award to Sri PK Rath, CMD, RINL at the 56th National Metallurgists Day Awards function held at Kolkata on Wednesday (14-11-2018). The award was instituted by the Ferrous Division of Indian Institute of Metals (IIM).

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

INS Rana at Surabaya to participate in Indian Navy - Indonesian Navy Bilateral Exercise

INS Rana of the Eastern Fleet based at Visakhapatnam under the Eastern Naval Command is on deployment to the South East Asia and arrived at the port of Surabaya to participate in the inaugural edition of Indian Navy - Indonesian Navy Bilateral Exercise Samudra Shakti scheduled from 12 to 18 November 2018. The aim of the exercise is to strengthen bilateral relations, expand maritime co-operation, enhance interoperability and exchange best practices. The exercise would start with a Harbour Phase scheduled from 12 to 15 November encompassing planning and briefing on various activities, professional interactions, cross deck visits, sports fixtures and social interactions. This would progress to a Sea Phase scheduled from 16 to 18 November and would include operations such as Joint Manoeuvres, Helicopter Operations, Surface Warfare exercise, ASW exercise and Anti Piracy exercises. The strategic partnership between the two nations was elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the visit of Honourable Prime Minister of India in May 18 and Defence co-operation has been a significant pillar in this partnership. The visit of the ship seeks to promote Indias solidarity with Indonesia towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain and to strengthen existing bonds between the navies of the two nations.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

SIMBEX-18 kicks off at India’s Only Tri-Services Command

There are only a few militaries that can boast of continuity and cooperation in the field of maritime combat drills like the navies of India and Singapore - and that too sustained for 25 years. When the frontline ships of the Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy and those of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) made their entry into the azure waters of Port Blair in the pristine Andaman and Nicobar Islands on 10 November 2018, it was a treat for the on lookers. The ships arrived at Port Blair for the commencement of the 25th edition of the SIMBEX - Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise. Started as Basic ASW exercises in 1994, today these exercises have graduated to complex maritime combat drills including missile and torpedo firings and shore based intensive professional exchanges. Home to India’s only Tri-Services Command, the crew of the participating warships and the Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft and integral helicopters, would go through the last minute exercise coordination details with a fine comb at Port Blair. During the harbour phase, in addition to operational conferences towards preparation of the sea phase of the exercises in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, courtesy calls by both sides on the Senior Military hierarchy are also scheduled. In addition, Subject Matter Expert Exchanges or SMEE as they are commonly known by militaries worldwide are also scheduled. The SMEEs, have over the years provided a platform to formally exchange best practices of respective navies so that learning and improvement never ceases. Cross deck visits by air crew towards deck familiarisation are also planned. Over the next two days, Port Blair is playing host to Indian Naval Ships Ranvijay, Satpura, Sahyadri, Shakti, Kirch, Kadmatt, Sumedha and Sukanya along with the RSN Ships, Formidable, Steadfast, Unity, Valiant and Vigour. Maritime Patrol Aircraft of both countries – the versatile P8I of the Indian Navy and Fokker F50 from Singapore would also be based out of Port Blair. Local Flotilla ships based at Port Blair would be ensuring seafront security including in the exercise areas towards smooth conduct of the exercise. Also participating in the exercises are RSS Swordsman, an Archer Class submarine and Swift Rescue, a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV). While the Indian Navy recently inducted a DSRV on the western seaboard and is slated to induct another on its eastern seaboard, it continues to exercise with various navies and assimilate best practices as well as enhance interoperability. The exercises at sea this year are unprecedented and largest of kind in terms of the complexity and weapon firings. The sea phase would be held under Commander Task Group of Joint Forces of SIMBEX-18, Rear Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet. Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ho Jee Kien, Commanding Officer of 188 Missile Corvette Squadron would be leading the Republic of Singapore Navy during the first sea phase and would also be the Deputy Task Group Commander.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Public Hearing on draft CRZ held at Vizag

In 2011 the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a CRZ notification. However it could not be implemented in Vizag as the coastal data was sketchy and further study was required to fix the tide lines and map our coast and parts of the inland accurately with the latest technology. The job of determining the tide lines and suggesting the zoning of the coast for entire AP was entrusted to a central government body - National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM). A Public meeting was organised in Vizag to share the findings in brief with the public and invite comments. During the meeting members from fishing community spoke of their hardship caused due to livelihood lossbecause of CRZ. A valid point emerged that the notices of the public hearing had not reached several fishing villages and the collector acknowledged this and promised to take up further hearings in Mandal HQs. Another issue was that the executive summary was not available in Telugu early enough for people to read and understand. Shabnam Patel, an INTACH member, made important points about how the rules would be implemented and how the violations would be addressed. Her inputs were acknowledged by the panel on the Dias. Sohan Hatagandi, an INTACH member and Environmental Activist, especially mentioned the importance off safeguarding our coastal man made and natural heritage structures when doing the zoning exercise. He also made suggestions on improving the way the new plans are presented to the public. The collector heard all and gave the assurance that more hearings would be conducted before publishing the final plans.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Walmart India Opens Best Price Modern Wholesale Store at Gajuwaka

Walmart India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart Inc, opened its first B2B cash- and-carry store Best Price Modern Wholesale Store near Autonagar Arch at Gajuwaka here on Wednesday (31-10-2018). This is the fourth such Walmart outlet in the State and 23rd in the country. IT and Panchayat Raj Minister N. Lokesh inaugurated the facility. "Walmart should promote the local brands from rural areas. For instance, Naandi Foundation is promoting organic coffee from Araku Valley in the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam. Walmart should also encourage such brands to encourage tribal farmers," Mr. Lokesh said. This is the first store in the State since the Walmart India became a fully owned subsidiary of Walmart Store Inc. The firm plans to further expand its footprint and continue to contribute to the State economy. The new store simultaneously got integrated with the B2B e-commerce platform. It has plans to open at least seven new stores in near future. The store is expected to cater to the needs of under-served small businesses such as kirana store owners and resellers, offices and institutions (O&I) and hotels, restaurants and caterers. It will offer a wide range of quality merchandise and local assortment at Every Day Low Prices, convenient payment solutions and door-step delivery to the business members in the city and its adjoining areas. "We are excited about opening the first B2B cash-and-carry store in Vizag. Our fourth store in Andhra Pradesh reinforces our belief in the ease of doing business under the leadership of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu," Walmart India president and CEO Krish Iyer said, adding that Andhra Pradesh was a priority State for the firm. Gajuwaka MLA Palla Srinivasa Rao and Visakha South MLA Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar were present on the occasion.