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    November 30th, 2013adminBusiness & Economy

    Chennai :

    Jungle Jewels, a Tiruchi-based firm that makes jewellery uniquely from seeds and trains economically poor women to craft them, is on the lookout for  funding from social investors.

    The firm, founded by engineer-turnedsocial entrepreneur J Balamurali, 40, is already in talks with one investor, which he won’t name. “When people come, they look at us more as a business to make more money. We don’t want investors like that,” says Balamurali.

    In its fifth year now, Jungle Jewels hopes to end 2013-14 with revenues of Rs 60 lakh, breaking even in the process. “We could have touched Rs 90 lakh. But due to lack of funding, we had to scale it down,” says its founder.

    Balamurali’s venture happened by chance. His father had set up a herbal park to provide alternative primary health care to villagers near Tiruchi in 1979. Many years later, it occurred to Balamurali that the seeds in the park, going waste, needs to be used up somehow. The idea of making jewellery struck him one day when he saw women arranging paddy seeds.

    His research showed him no one had done this commercially, though some tribals already knew the art. Balamurali then put up samples in an exhibition in Mumbai. “People were excited seeing the products,” he recalls. That was enough trigger to start Jungle Jewels, which he did by investing his own money as also that of his family and friends.

    Jungle Jewels has 30 women from poor backgrounds on its rolls. For most, this is their first job. None of them had any prior idea about craftwork. Their husbands work as auto-rickshaw drivers, farm labourers, textile shop salesmen and lorry load men.

    R Chitra, a 37-year-old employee, says: “This is an additional income for the family, we are very happy. We like the concept and it is different from a regular day job.” Jungle Jewels has two units. The Tiruchi unit, which this correspondent had visited, is a one-room facility having a huge table for a work area. The workers, having fixed work hours, even have a pick-up and drop facility. They make jewellery from 12 seeds, the likes of ‘Canna indica,’ ‘Oryza sativa’ and ‘Delonix regia.’

    The company doesn’t have a designer. But workers say they draw inspiration from real life. Prices range between Rs 40 (for a pair of earrings) and Rs 1,400 (for neckpieces). As Jungle Jewels expands its offerings to products such as key chains, stationery items, and do-it-yourself-kits, Balamurali is considering hiring fashion design students as interns. Jungle Jewels markets its products through exhibitions, online shops and resellers. It also has tie-ups with individuals in the US, UK, France, Australia and Dubai to sell its products.

    It hasn’t been easy, says Balamurali. Conversations with big retailers, he says, are always about discounts, volumes and profits. “People tell me that my products are under-priced. We have a calculation. We are happy with that calculation. There should be some justification to pricing, right?”

    He says: “When people buy a product, they don’t know what its roots are, who made it and where it came from.” He believes it should be different. “Here, we have a story. By buying a necklace, we are supporting a group of women who are financially not doing well. We don’t exploit anyone in the chain.”

    Now, Jungle Jewels wants to scale up. Paul Basil, founder and CEO of Villgro, which essentially funds social enterprise firms and ideas, says: “This is definitely unique, a niche type of product but will that scale, is the question.”

    Chandu Nair, a Chennai-based entrepreneur and mentor, says: “It is expensive to build a brand and also, difficult to distribute. But, it is definitely possible.” He says there are quite a few social impact funds, which are patient and also ready for relatively smaller returns.

    But Nair says, “Much of it depends on how much of a social impact is the firm creating, what kind of an enterprise is it and how good is the team.”

    According to the India  Venture Capital  and Private Equity Report 2013, published by IIT-Madras, social sector investments  by private equity and venture capital funds dropped drastically to around $36 million (about Rs 227 crore) in 2012, compared to $160 million (Rs 1,010 crore) the previous year.

    source: / The Economic Times / Home> News> News By Company> Corporate Trends> Jewellery / by Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan, ET Bureau / November 18th, 2013

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    Indians share a genetic mutation with Europeans that plays a key role in coding for the lighter skin, a new Camb­ridge study has found.

    Latest research shows that the presence of the genetic mutation for lighter skin — found in “almost 100 per cent” of Europeans — broadly conforms to many cultural and linguistic differences, as well as ancestral, in the wider Indian population.

    The genetic mutation in SLC24A5 is known to be pivotal in the evolution of light skin, and is responsible for a significant part of the skin colour differences between Europeans and Africans.

    Now, a new study has examined for the first time a large, uniform genetic sample collected directly in south India, and suggests that natural selection is not the sole factor in skin tone variation across the Indian sub-continent, and that cultural and linguistic traits still delineate this skin pigment genetic mutation.

    The results show that the gene is found with much higher frequency in Indo-European speaking groups that are more prevalent in the north-west of the country.

    But the mutation is also high in populations groups known to have migrated north to south, such as the Saurashtrians, who – while native to Gujarat – are now predominantly found in the Madurai district.

    Researchers say that the study, published in the journal PLoS Genetics, shows that the genetic mutation in SLC24A5 has a common origin between Europeans and Indians.

    But while the complete dominance of the gene in Europeans is likely to be solely down to natural selection, they say, the rich diversity of this genetic variant in India – high in some populations while non-existent in others, even neighbouring ones – has some correlation with factors of language, ancestral migration and distinct social practises such as limiting marriage partners to those with specific criteria.

    The researchers say the findings display an “intriguing interplay” between natural selection and the “unique history and structure” of populations inhabiting the Indian subcontinent.

    ”In India, this genetic variant doesn’t just follow a ‘classical’ theory of natural selection – that it’s lower in the south where darker skin protects against fiercer sunlight,” said study co-author Mircea Iliescu from Cambridge University’s Biological Anthropology Division.

    source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> News> Current Affairs / by PTI / November 15th, 2013

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    Coimbatore :

    On the occasion of World Diabetes day, the city municipal corporation opened its herbal canteen service at the main office complex of the corporation. Specifically meant to serve healthy and nutritious meals the herbal canteen at the corporation is expected to be a great relief for hundreds of visitors and employees working at the corporation main office.

    “The menu was fixed after ensuring the nutritional content of the food. Members of selected self help groups will operate the centre and our officials will monitor it,” said G Latha, commissioner, Coimbatore municipal corporation.

    The herbal canteen will serve soup varieties from to 12.30 am at Rs10 per serving. Lunch time is from 12.30 to 2.30 pm during which limited meals and various variety rice would be served for Rs40 and Rs20 respectively. Evening snacks would be available from 4pm to 6pm at a rate of Rs10 per plate. Items include Navadhanya Adai, Vazhapoo Vadai and other savouries. The canteen will also serve various varieties of herbal and organic teas.

    “We have supplied utensils and other facilities to the women entrusted with the canteen and they will pay us Rs750 daily. We will also fix a salary for them,” Latha added.

    The corporation has spent around Rs 2.76 lakh on the herbal canteen and was reportedly planning to give it on a monthly rent of Rs5000 but now it is exploring possibility of lowering the rent. The canteen would be managed by 14 members of Sri Ganga Yamuna Womens SHG from Kurichi.

    “The corporation has given us the facilities to operate the canteen. We will purchase the ingredients and other items required from the open market,” said P Pushpavalli, an SHG member.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Coimbatore /  by TNN / November 15th, 2013

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    Mount Cantonment CEO Prabhakaran speaking with cross-section of women identified by Loyola’s School of Human Excellence to be hired as conservancy staff at cantonment. — DC

    Mount Cantonment CEO Prabhakaran speaking with cross-section of women identified by Loyola’s School of Human Excellence to be hired as conservancy staff at cantonment. — DC


    The Military Cantonment Board in St.Thomas Mount has launched a unique initiative to provide employment to widows and destitute women in Chennai’s slums, identified by the School of Human Exce­lle­nce of the prestigious Loyola College.

    These women have been employed as conservancy staff to keep the vast cantonment area in the city clean, according to cantonment CEO Prabhakaran. He told DC that women working as housemaids for paltry salaries of 2,000-3,000 rupees a month are now being paid Rs 350 per day by the cantonment board.

    “They are immensely happy. With their family incomes going up, their children are not dropping out of schools,” said the cantonment official, adding, “This is the first of its kind initiative undertaken by any cantonment, or for that matter any city corporation, in the country.”

    He said the women were assigned only the job of sweeping the streets and there were no menial jobs like drainage cleaning gi­ven to them. “We treat them with dignity. We also make available free medical and education facilities for the families as we have two hospitals and two schools in the cantonment,” Prab­ha­karan said.

    He said the programme was launched with just se­ven women workers drawn from different city slums on September 10 and their number went up to 22 now. Interestingly, the ‘spark’ for the initiative was lit at the birthday lunch that the CEO got for his wife Agila.

    The couple chose to share lunch with the nearly 100 poor girls housed at the Fr Chirag Foundation, a vocational training centre run by Fr Henry Jerome, Dean, School of Human Exce­llence, Loyola College.

    “That experience moved me and I decided I must do something for the poorer sections of our society. Loyola College helped me through its ‘outreach’ pro­gr­a­mme led by Prof Ber­nard Sami. His team was already familiar with most slums in the city and they helped us to identify deserving women,” said Prabhakaran.

    Shanti, 38, is among the 22 now happily employed at the cantonment. This wid­ow from Mangalapuram slum in Chetput lost her husband to alcoholism-most women in the group have similar stories to tell-four months back.

    “I slogged as a housemaid and needed to frequently borrow at high interest from moneylenders. I was worried for my little son and daughter attending school. Now we feel reassured,” she said.

    source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> News> Current Affairs / DC / by D. Senthil Natarajan / November 14th, 2013

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    Oil palm cultivation has been introduced in Pudukottai district, thanks to the efforts made by the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP).

    The NADP has fixed a target of 100 hectares to be brought under oil palm cultivation. Gandarvakottai being one of the potential blocks for oil palm, the cultivation was taken up at Veeradipatti village in the block on Wednesday.

    At a function at Veeradipatti, K.M. Shajahan, Joint Director of Agriculture, said special subsidy would be sanctioned to encourage the practice.

    He explained the assured returns from oil palm from the third year of its cultivation.

    Lack of awareness about the profitability of the crop was a major hurdle.


    The department would launch an intensive campaign to motivate farmers. Oil palm cultivation required less labour, he said. The NADP has permitted cultivation in Pudukottai, Sivaganga, and Virudunuagar districts.

    Sadanandham, Deputy Director of Agriculture (government of India schemes), said oil palm would be an alternate and viable crop.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities / by Special Correspondent / Pudukottai – November 14th, 2013

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    November 27th, 2013adminScience & Technologies, World Opinion
    Doctors from MMC, ICH,Egmore and Nichi-In Centre present a report on the use of polymer scaffold for stem cell study | Jawahar

    Doctors from MMC, ICH,Egmore and Nichi-In Centre present a report on the use of polymer scaffold for stem cell study | Jawahar

    In an attempt to treat nerve issues related to gastrointestinal disorders, Madras Medical College and the Institute of Child Health (ICH), Egmore along with Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine, have for the first time in the country, conducted a study on stem cells that have a potential to treat the disease.

    The doctors have also for the first time found a synthetic scaffold that can help in the optimal regeneration of the neurons after the cells are transplanted in the affected portion of the intestine.

    The four-year study is restricted to finding a treatment for Hirschsprung’s Disease, a disorder of the abdomen, in which part or whole of the large intestine lacks the nerves which are needed for movement of the stool through the intestine. The disease, which one in 5,000 children have at birth, affects the activity of the large intestine. Due to the lack of nerves, the intestine doesn’t relax, thus creating an obstruction while passing stool.

    Professor Dr V Senthilnathan said ICH receives about eight to 10 cases a month and about 120 cases a year. Unlike the current treatment option where pull through surgery is performed by pulling out the normal portion of the colon, which has the nerves, to the anus, cell-based therapies can be a potential solution to the disorder, as the surgery involves single to multiple stages. “By the age of three, the child would have undergone two or three surgeries,” the doctor said.

    Doctors here collaborated with Japanese researchers to isolate and culture enteric neural precursor cells from biopsy samples that are taken from the gut of patients who were undergoing surgeries for the disease. These cells, along with a novel thermo-reversible gelation polymer scaffold, are grown, divided and multiplied in a laboratory, before they can be transplanted in the affected portion of the colon, in Hirschsprung’s Disease, along with the scaffold.

    Once transplanted, the scaffold can help in optimal regeneration of neurons that have the capability to restore the function of the colon. “We take the cells from the area where the nerve is normal. These are grown and multiplied, and then transplanted to the affected area,” explained Dr J Krishnamohan, Professor of Paediatric surgery, Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital.

    Though several similar studies have been conducted in many countries and tested on animals, doctors here have for the first time found a scaffold that is purely synthetic as there are chances of the human body rejecting the conventional scaffold material.

    “We have used Japanese laboratory to grow the cells. We will approach the ethics committee and based on their recommendation, we will proceed further. But if we need to get this therapy for public use, we need a laboratory on our own, which could cost `40 to 50 lakh,” Dr Senthilnathan said.

    Dr J Krishnamohan said that phase one of the study was completed and that it could take another 10 years for it to be put to public use.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service – Chennai / November 13th, 2013

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    November 27th, 2013adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Education

    Madurai :

    Stepping into the library of the Pandiyan Nedunchezhiyan Corporation Higher Secondary School in Madurai, one does not get the feeling of visiting a library situated inside a corporation school. Equipped with air conditioners, modern furniture, cushioned executive chairs, the library provides a perfect atmosphere for the children to kindle their reading habits. With only 466 books in 2009, the library now grown up leaps and bounds with more than 8,000 books in its collection. Thanks to the efforts of the librarian, K Kanagadurga, who joined in 2009 on a consolidated pay, the number of books not only increased, but it also imbibed reading habits among many students.

    Philanthropists, who recently visited the library were taken aback by the maintenance were assured their contribution to the library to increase the books. A group of them had donated 1,032 books to the library. At a function organized in the library to felicitate the donors on Monday evening, V V Rajan Chellappa, mayor, Madurai Corporation took part. Speaking on the occasion, he said that people should take cue from the donors and give back to the society.

    With two periods allocated for library for the 300-odd students in the school, the librarian is proud to say that 90% of the children are now fond of using the library books. Apart from the students belonging to the school, students from other schools in the surrounding areas are also benefited.

    “When the book fair was held recently in Madurai, I thought of using the opportunity to equip the library with new books. I contacted some of the philanthropists. They were impressed when they visited the library and offered to contribute the books,” Kanagadurga said.

    The library has books covering most of the subjects required for the students. Interesting simple scientific facts’ related books, history, biographies, autobiographies of eminent people are also available, she said.

    “The most important thing is to attract the students to the library with simple books that are enjoyable to read. The books should be attractive so that children at least take and flip through them and discover the contents,” she said.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / TNN / November 13th, 2013

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    November 27th, 2013adminLeaders, Records, All, Sports, World Opinion


    Viswanathan Anand an Indian chess Grandmaster and is the current World Chess Champion was born on December 11, 1969 in Mayiladuthurai, a town in Tamil Nadu.

    Anand at the age of 37, he became the world number one for the first time.

    Recently Viswanathan Anand drew the third game with Magnus Carlsen a 22 year old  Norwegian chess grandmaster.

    Here are some 5 facts to know about him:

    Viswanathan Anand has won the World Chess Championship five times (2000, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012), and has been the undisputed World Champion since 2007.

    Viswanathan Anand rates the late American chess prodigy, grandmaster, and the eleventh World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer as the best of all time.

    Anand was the FIDE World Rapid Chess Champion in 2003, and is widely considered the strongest rapid player of his generation.

    Anand became India’s first grandmaster in 1988. He was also the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991–92, India’s highest sporting honour.

    In 2007, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, and is the first sportsperson to receive the award in Indian history. Anand has won the Chess Oscar six times (1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008).

    Image courtesy:Wikipedia

    source: / / Home> Articles / by Editorial Team / November 13th, 2013

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    Simrat Chadha and Nilini Sriram with korvai saris. / Photo: S.Madhuvanthi / The Hindu

    Simrat Chadha and Nilini Sriram with korvai saris. / Photo: S.Madhuvanthi / The Hindu

    Simrat Chadha brings alive the classic Kanchipuram sari, complete with near forgotten designs and colour combinations.

    We are forward, Weave backward. Say the pitras as they sit by the loom’ – Rg Veda 130

    To the rhythm of this unspoken bit of ancient poetry, countless weavers across India and across time have woven saris, upper cloths and veshtis of great beauty and elegance. In time, each region of the country came to excel in a particular set of motifs and designs in colours of Nature that blended to create unique saris with names which were bits of poetry in themselves.

    The motifs of the Kanchipuram pattu sari, the pride of South India, had lyrical names such as tuthiripoo, bavanchu, kuyilkann, muthuchir, paalum pazhamum, oosivanam, vaizhapoo and simhasana. As Simrat Chadha, a South Indian pattu revivalist, puts it, “Ironically, the Kanchipuram sari itself is a misnomer. It came to be so called only because of the aggregation of saris and weavers in the city of Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram was actually a great veshti weaving centre! The “pattu” sari, or the Kanchipuram sari as it is commonly known, also owes its design soul less to Kanchipuram and more to the aggressive, spontaneous grace of Andhra’s design language and Karnataka’s staid yet graceful weaving patterns with Tamil Nadu’s structured textile philosophy. Every art form in Tamil Nadu follows strict structural formats. Even checks or lines whatever intricacy they wished to express followed structure. The exquisite Benarasi too came under Kanchipuram pattu sari’s structured patterning when the northern ‘hans’ became the ‘hamsam.’

    Benaras patterns

    Between 1820 and 1920, the pattu sari weaver began to absorb Benaras patterns such as ‘kinkab’ and ‘khilat’ in a Kanchipuram sari. In fact, so great was the popularity of the Benarasi saris that this writer’s mother’s nine-yard wedding sari – a nearly 100 year old heritage piece today – was a shot silk Benarasi silk spattered with woven bouquets of English flowers bunched in baskets.

    A weaver at work / by Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    A weaver at work / by Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    What distinguishes a true blue Kanchipuram pattu whose history, according to Hobbes and Watson, goes back to a timeless yesterday while other textile historians give it no more than 500 years?

    It has a defined design structure, is heavy in weight, with a warp and weft twist called ‘murukku petta,’ tested zari and a matte finish. It can be identified by ‘seeru’ stripes and ‘kattam’ checks, three shuttle korvai which is a plain interlocked joint or a ‘muggu’ temple spine, and patterned border, mundanai end piece and so on. The borders are wide and pallus defined by elephants and parrots, among other designs.

    While the korvai has all but vanished, so have many of the other features of the classic Kanchipuram sari leaving behind a rather soulless coming together of colours, uninspired borders and trendy motifs.

    For that rich look: A re-created Kanchivaram sari./ by Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    For that rich look: A re-created Kanchivaram sari./ by Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    Simrat’s passionate journey of revisiting and recreating the classic Kanchipuram was to stop “a bit of our culture and heritage from vanishing in front of our eyes. It was to entice the young person into appreciating and wearing the sari. It’s also my journey of responsibility. We are building pride of association at two ends – the customer and the weaver.”

    “It all began with our collection of kodu and kattam cotton saris with korvai which was hugely popular. This convinced us to start our own pattu revival journey. I read all possible books on Kanchipuram saris and began collecting originals. All the old original Kanchipurams belong to mamis — friend’s mothers, aunts, grandmother and even great grandmothers! We then took a few of these originals and visited weavers and weaving centres in Kanchipuram, Salem and Madurai, to convince the weavers to replicate them.

    Sarees of various patterns recreated with Korvai. / Photo: S. Madhuvanthi / The Hindu

    Sarees of various patterns recreated with Korvai. / Photo: S. Madhuvanthi / The Hindu

    The response varied. Why should they weave a korvai which was time and labour intensive or create such an intricate border? Sometimes, there would be excitement when an older weaver would identify an oosivanam or a mubaggam which he himself had woven in his younger days! There was a lot of travelling back and forth by the revivalist team, much persuasion and great creative excitement as looms were set up and the recreation process got under way.

    The collection of 60 original Kanchipurams and 20 re-created ones mesmerises with ancient mellow beauty, mellifluous mingling of colours, and near-forgotten motifs. An old oosivanam in pink with stripes and a magical border sits besides its revised avatar. The same look and feel with perhaps a subtle difference? An old Vaira-oosi with red body stripes and yellow border is now re-created with yellow body and red border.

    If original Korinads entice with their harmony of colours and texture so do the recreated ones in deep blue with red stripes and yellow border or in flaming orange. Part of the re-created saris is the ‘kallam puttani’, ‘kalaialangara pudavai’ and ‘moobhagam’ in a stunning intersection of purple and grey, black and grey and so on. Original black body and broad red border Kanchipurams stun with their design harmony.

    Equally harmonious are black and shocking pink, off white with huge checks and ‘maanga’ borders, turquoise with yellow border, some with tiny checks, and much more…

    Call 044-24997526 if you want to re-create old heritage saris.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Firday Review> Art / by Pushpa Chari / November 14th, 2013

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    Vasan said the Ministry has shortlisted 15 lighthouses, including Mamallapuram, Marakkanam, Kanyakumari and Rameswaram, in the country to be made tourist attractions. | EPS

    Vasan said the Ministry has shortlisted 15 lighthouses, including Mamallapuram, Marakkanam, Kanyakumari and Rameswaram, in the country to be made tourist attractions. | EPS

    After over two decades, the Chennai lighthouse, overlooking the Marina beach, the second longest in the world, was today opened to visitors.

    Shipping Minister G K Vasan opened the 46-metre tall heritage structure to visitors, which has been the first spot of sight for mariners approaching the commercial capital of south India from Bay of Bengal.

    It was closed for visitors, following security threats during the early 90s, as the triangular structure painted in red and white, functioning since 1977 is located very close to Tamil Nadu DGP Office, Forensic Laboratory, All India Radio and holy shrine of Santhome Basilica.

    Vasan said the Ministry has shortlisted 15 lighthouses, including Mamallapuram, Marakkanam, Kanyakumari and Rameswaram, in the country to be made tourist attractions. “Mamallapuram lighthouse will be opened in January next, while Marakkanam lighthouse will be opened on November 30,” he said.

    Security arrangements have been made with cameras and smoke detectors installed at various spots and trained personnel being deployed in the campus on the Kamarajar Road.

    Stainless steel fences have been erected on the 10th floor, till where the visitors are to be allowed.

    The minister also laid the foundation for National Navtex Network intending to provide enhanced safety and security for maritime traffic. “It is a project of over Rs 20.25 crore and is expected to be completed by December 2014,” Vasan said.

    NAVTEX is an international automated medium frequency direct printing service for delivery of navigational and meteorological warnings and forecast, search and rescue information and pirate warnings to ships.

    The Indian Navtex Network would have seven transmitting stations including Veraval, Vengurla Point, Muttom Point, Porto Novo, Vakalpudi and Balasore — to broadcast maritime safety information to mariners up to 250 nautical miles.

    An emergency NAVTEX Control Centre is also being established at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to ensure uninterrupted service to mariners.

    The network would broadcast navigational warnings, meteorological warnings and forecasts for 10 minutes at regular intervals round the clock.

    The Ministry would also have monitoring stations at Okha, Ratnagiri, Azhikode, Puducherrym Dolphin’s Nose, Sagar Island and Port Blair.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by PTI – Chennai / November 14th, 2013

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