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    BalaramNaiduANDHRA07jan2018

    Once upon a time there was a huge steam ship filled with passengers leaving a quaint town. But, the ill-fated ship sank with all of its 400 passengers on board. Ever since, the location where the ship sank in the sea has been haunted, with the souls of the gloomy, dead passengers haunting whoever passes by at night. They moan and take out their anger on the living, begging for attention and some relief from their after-life.


    Thus goes the legend of a mysterious wreck in the Bay of Bengal popular among the fishing community of  Visakhapatnam.  And till recently, the wreck was nothing more than an apparition; a bed-time tale told to scare toddlers. Or so it was believed. But Vizag-based scuba diver, Balaram Naidu claims he’s discovered the remnants of that doomed ship lying in the Bay of Bengal.

    “I don’t want to reveal where the wreck is yet, but the fishing community here has always had many interesting tales to tell about it,” says Balaram Naidu, owner of an adventure sports firm in the city.

    From the pictures of the remnants of the said wreck that Balaram shared with Vizag Times, one can see various parts of the ship scattered around. “The shaft, motor, furnace and the rest of the main body are intact. The keel, decks and other parts of the ship have spread all over the place. The furnace even holds beautiful aqua life in it and is filled with fishes, eels and turtles,” explains Balaram.

    But how did the adventure enthusiast even find the wreck in the first place? “We have been struggling to find wrecks in the sea for three years now and been taking the help of the fishing community to find them. But they can’t dive deep into the water, so they point out possible wreck sites to us and we dive to see if they’re actually there. We learnt about this site from the fishermen’s tales. We found the debris during our first few dives and it took us a while to find the wreck too,” he says, elated.

    While the mention of the eerie wreck brings out excitement in Balaram, it incites fear in the fishing community. The fishermen are dead sure that this is the sunken ship that their forefathers warned them about. “I don’t know how old the ship is and when it sunk there. But generations of our children have grown up listening to tales of how 400 passengers on board died when this ship sank. I heard the story from my father, who heard the story from my grandfather and so on. My father is 85-years-old now, I think the ship sunk 300 years ago maybe. But this is the first time I’ve heard of someone actually finding it,” says Satti, a fisherman.

    But why does the ship-wreck incite fear in these fishermen? “It’s not just me, anyone who has fished around that area will tell you that they feel scared to venture there. Because a lot of us who fished in that area at night, have felt someone hitting us on our backs. That’s why we avoid venturing there at night. Even when we do go that side, we go in large numbers and prefer not to catch fish there.”

    Balaram however wants to find the ship’s origins and believes it sunk while it was leaving Vizag harbour. “The shaft is towards Vizag, this could mean that it sunk while it was leaving the harbour. I want to find out more details about the ship and I’m hoping its records can be found at the court. They will hopefully have the navigation records.”

    For Balaram the finding of a coral in the sea few weeks back and now, the wreck just reinstates the fact that Vizag has the potential to be an attractive dive site. “In fact, it could be the best dive site in India,” he says. “Scuba divers love reef diving and wreck diving, and the latter is something a lot of divers opt for because it’s exciting.”

    Previously too, Balaram Naidu had told Vizag Times that he is planning to present a proposal to the tourism department to develop Vizag as a wreck diving destination. If the proposal does indeed materialise, then civilians would be able to access the wreck of PNS Ghazi, that only divers of Indian Navy are privy to so far.

    “I know for a fact that the remains of Ghazi lie 30 meters deep in the ocean and that the debris is entangled in fishing nets,” he says. Apart from the wreck of PNS Ghazi, and now this steam ship, the debris of a goods ship lies at the continental beach near Dolphin Hill.

    “I will soon submit a proposal imploring the Tourism Department to turn the ship wreck we discovered now and PNS Ghazi into wreck diving sites. It can transform the tourism scenario not just in Vizag but all of India,” he sums it up.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Visakhapatnam News / by Neeshita Nyayapati / TNN / January 06th, 2018

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    Visakhapatnam:

    As you take a left from the main road in the suburb of Kurmannapalem to enter the 19,704-acre campus of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, you will fell a discernible drop in temperature. One wonders how a sudden dip in temperature in this area is possible given that steel is made by smelting iron ore in blast furnaces at a temperature of over 900 degrees Centigrade.
    The answer, according to Pramod Kumar Mahapatra, general manager (law and administration) of RINL, the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, lies in the fact that more than 50% of the integrated steel plant area is covered by a dense forest.

    The steel plant is surrounded by the Nadupuru reserve forest and other hills on the south-western side, and the Bay of Bengal on the eastern side, which helps in lowering the temperature of the area, Mahapatra said on Tuesday.

    “Production of steel generates heat, but the surrounding greenery controls pollution and creates a unique ecosystem in which normal temperature is lower by 3 to 4 degrees Centigrade than in the municipal areas of Visakhapatnam,” Mahapatra told TOI.

    According to him, the RINL invested Rs 468 crore in pollution control measures when the steel plant’s capacity was 3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). The investment rose to Rs 1,283 crore when the plant’s capacity was raised to 6.3 mtpa.

    “These investments constituted 5.45% and 10.26% of the total project cost. Further, an amount of Rs 285 crore is being spent on environmental management every year,” he said.

    An area of 6,700 acres is under green cover, constituting 34% of the total area of 19,704 acres under the control of RINL-VSP.

    A total of 5.3 million trees have been planted in the area, though actual tree wealth is much more in view of the natural propagation of species due to stoppage of biotic and non-biotic interference in the steel plant area.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Visakhapatnam News / TNN / December 28th, 2017

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    Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu with SECM CEO A. Chandra Sekhar Reddy in Vijayawada on Friday.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

    Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu with SECM CEO A. Chandra Sekhar Reddy in Vijayawada on Friday. | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

    Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu congratulated the State Energy Conservation Mission (SECM) for winning the National Energy Conservation Award – 2017 in the State Designated Agency category.

    He told Principal Secretary (Energy) Ajay Jain and SECM CEO A. Chandra Sekhar Reddy to step up their efforts for expanding the energy conservation and energy efficiency activities that play a crucial role in building a Green Amaravati.

    Showing the award at the Amaravati Deep Dive Workshop, Mr. Jain said that it was for the third consecutive year that the SECM won the distinction.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Andhra Pradesh / by Staff Reporter / Vijayawada – December 16th, 2017

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    Lalita Vaswani, vice-president of World Birdstrike Association (South Asia), and Raman Emani, Director of BirdGard India Pvt Limited, briefing the media in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

    Lalita Vaswani, vice-president of World Birdstrike Association (South Asia), and Raman Emani, Director of BirdGard India Pvt Limited, briefing the media in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

    The first regional South Asian conference of the World Birdstrike Association (WBA) will be held in Visakhapatnam from Dec 11 to 13.

    The conference, supported by the Government of Andhra Pradesh, will deliberate on the problem of birds and wild animals posing a threat to aircrafts, particularly during landing and take-off of flights, Lalita Vaswani, Vice President of WBA-South Asia and WBA Member Raman Emani told the media here on Wednesday.

    They underlined the importance of creating awareness on the issue of bird strike among all stakeholders including farmers, town planners, organisations for the protection of nature and environment, apart from civil aviation authorities, military, aircraft and aerodrome operators at the regional, national and global levels.

    The stakeholders or their representatives from various countries would participate in the conference and deliberate on the issue and the measures being taken in their respective countries to tackle the problem. The meeting would provide a platform for exchange of ideas and practices being adopted at various airports across the globe to eliminate or minimise the risks.

    Ms. Lalita said that the deliberations made at the conference would be sent to the authorities concerned for implementation. The WBA conference in Mexico in 2014 had decided to strengthen regional cooperation with all stakeholders within a global framework in close cooperation with the national authorities. The Bird Strike Committees of Australia, Central and South America, Europe and North America were already cooperating on a regional level.

    Replying to queries, Mr. Raman said that the measures to reduce bird hits include: passive measures like prevention of dumping of wastes in the proximity of airports, not to allow tress close to the airport as they attract birds and keeping the grass low. The active measures include: bird repellents and lasers.

    “The water bodies, marshes and trees, close to the airport, provide the perfect setting for birds and other animal species to feed and rest,” he said.

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    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Visakhapatnam / December 07th, 2017

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    Visakhapatnam :

    A new species of gecko belonging to the genus Hemidactylus has been discovered in the Eastern Ghats in northern Andhra Pradesh.

    Locally named ‘Mahendragiri Gecko’ it is endemic only to the rocky areas of Eastern Ghats namely Araku, Tyda, Simhachalam Hills, Mahendragiri Hills in Andhra-Odisha border.

    The reptile has been confirmed as a new species by scientists who conducted research in the Eastern Ghats for almost a decade after discovering it in Tyda near Araku in 2009.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Visakhapatnam News / TNN / November 26th, 2017

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    In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) classified the rare Fishing Cat as endangered. They mostly in the vicinity of wetlands, along rivers, in swamps, and mangrove forests.

    But as many as 15 Fishing Cats were recorded in the pilot project conducted at the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh in 2014-16.

    The sanctuary is a rare eco-region with vast tracts of pristine mangrove forests. It has the potential to become the world’s first reserve of the Fishing Cat.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Environment / November 09th, 2017

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    Picturesque spot: Kaigal waterfalls was the youngsters’ choice destination in Chittoor district. | Photo Credit: By Arrangement

    Picturesque spot: Kaigal waterfalls was the youngsters’ choice destination in Chittoor district. | Photo Credit: By Arrangement

    Siva temples abuzz with special rituals in connection with Karthika Pournami

    All roads led to Shiva temples across Prakasam district as devotees thronged them to offer special prayers to mark Karthika Pournami on Saturday.

    Over a lakh pilgrims visited Bhairavakona, a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India, to witness the grand spectacle of the moon’s reflection on the forehead of the mother goddess Trimukha Durga.

    But the natural satellite played hide and seek in view of the inclement weather and kept the devotees on tenterhooks.

    Tripurantakam, the eastern gateway to Srisailam, was agog with religious activity as devotees lined up to seek the blessings of Lord Tripurantakeswara.

    A heavy rush of pilgrims was witnessed also at the picturesque beaches in the district, including Kothapatnam, Voderavu and Ramayapatnam as the devotees performed ‘samudra snanam’. Devotees in groups made Shivalingams with beach sand and offered prayers to Lord Siva.

    Kaigal Falls

    In Chittoor district, devotees thronged the famous Talakona and Kailasa Kona temples and the Kaigal Falls while the temples at Nagari, Puttur, Mogili, Madanapalle and other pilgrim places wore a festive look, with predawn rituals.

    Many people trekked the Battinayya Konda near Srikalahasti and peformed special puja to Lord Battinayya and lit Karthika Deepam at the hilltop.

    Similarly, the sacred deepam was lit at Anantarayalu Konda and Kartheeka Konda in Pakala mandal. Annabishekam was performed in many temples.

    Siva deeksha

    A large number of devotees took a holy dip in Pathalaganga on Karthika Pournami and had darshan of Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy and Sri Bhramaramba Devi at Srisailam in Kurnool district. Devotees performed Lakshavathula nomu and did Karthika Masa Deeparadhana at Nagulakatta. Many devotees took Siva deeksha and Karthika Vanabhojanam was organised at the Siva Deeksha camps on the way to Pathalaganga.

    Special puja was performed at the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at Ahobilam.

    Suprabhatha Seva was performed early in the morning and abhishekam for processional idols of Sri Prahlada Varadaswamy, Sridevi and Bhudevi in the temple mantapam. Maha mangala harathi was given and the presiding deities were taken round on a palanquin.

    A large number of devotees took a holy dip in Panchabugga Koneru in the Sri Omkareswara temple in the Nallamala forest area in Bandi Atmakur mandal in the district.

    Historic temple

    The historic Mallemkondeswara Swamy temple at Brahmanapalli in Gopavaram mandal in Kadapa district would be developed as a tourist centre, Minister for Endowments Pydikondala Manikyala Rao said after worshipping at the temple.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Andhra Pradesh / by Andhra Pradesh Bureau / Ongole-Chitoor-Kurnool / November 04th, 2017

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    Pheasant-tailed Jacana flying at Kondakarla Ava, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country, near Anakapalle in Visakhapatnam district.K.R. DEEPAK

    Pheasant-tailed Jacana flying at Kondakarla Ava, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country, near Anakapalle in Visakhapatnam district.K.R. DEEPAK

    Bird Count India conducts workshop in Vizag

    In a first of its kind initiative to be conducted in the region, birdwatchers of the city are getting together to collect and document bird species spotted in Visakhapatnam and other parts of Andhra Pradesh through the digital platform of eBird India.

    While Visakhapatnam and its neighbouring regions have several critical zones supporting resident and migratory bird population, so far not much has been done towards documentation of these avian species in a systematic manner. With an effort to bring the birders of the region together and initiate the digital documentation of bird species, a workshop was conducted by Bird Count India (BCI) in association with Vizag Birdwatcher’s Society at Visakha Public Library on Saturday.

    eBird is a global, internet-based platform for gathering observations of birds, and for birders to maintain records of their sightings. Housed in Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology, the India chapter of eBird is managed by Bird Count India. The platform encourages birders to maintain complete bird lists and upload them on eBird, conducts periodic bird events and projects, offers support and resources to birding groups conducting their own projects and put together useful information on bird monitoring.

    Speaking to The Hindu , Ramit Singal of Bird Count India, which manages eBird India, said: “So far, we have got seven million observations by around 9,000 birdwatchers from across India since 2014. However, there hasn’t been much information put up from Visakhapatnam. The idea is to provide a common platform to the birders of the region to upload bird data on the eBird.org.” The portal has an in-built filtering system and over 100 reviewers are based in cities across India who monitor the content uploaded. Vikram Penmetsa of Vizag Birdwatcher’s Society said that there were about 25 active birders in the region who have been documenting bird species, but eBird.org will help to bring together the data on bird distribution.

    Apart from its major events like the Great Backyard Birdcount, which is held in February every year, Bird Count India has recently initiated a project for two big bird atlases, one in Mysore which was completed recently and another in Kerala which is a five-year initiative to be completed by 2020. “We recently completed a comprehensive bird survey for Kanha National Park and are in the process of getting a comprehensive checklist of birds from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh regions,” Mr Singal said.

    Unique event

    One of BCI’s unique events is the Campus Bird Count which was started in 2015 with 50 college campuses in the India. Today, the event has more than 200 campuses participating every year. “There are over 400 bird species recorded from college campuses during this yearly event. We will be announcing the dates of the next Campus Bird Count in December and would be an ideal platform to document many bird species spotted in and around the educational campuses of Visakhapatnam,” Mr Singal added.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by Nivedita Ganguly / Visakhapatnam – October 22nd, 2017

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    Visakhapatnam :

    The city’s first non-private tropical botanical garden has been developed in Andhra University at the botany department block under the watchful eyes of professors J Venkateswarulu, BS Rao and MOP Iyengar.

    Way back in 1946, the trio initiated plant growth in the department and specifically scourged the tropical region of north-coastal AP for rare specimens such as Red Sanders. Even today, the garden can be seen in all its full splendour, especially in the courtyard area and is still very well preserved.
    However, AU which was once a green haven is now being converted into a haven for ornamental plants which do not even belong to the sub-continent.

    The old botanical garden though tiny has retained its charm with more than 40 species of tropical plants and trees.

    “The botanical garden in AU is probably the first non-private botanical garden in the city. A lot of people do not realise that till then, Vizag had a whole lot of private garden residences full of exotic tropical plants. However, there was none which could have truly belonged to the public,” professor P Venkateswarulu  said.

    After cyclone Hudhud in October 2014, a lot of replanting work was done mainly because much of the old trees such as Red-Sanders and Sweet Tamarind took a heavy beating and had to be replanted again. Regarding the damage done, sources in the department said, “The damage was huge all across the district. However, the botanical garden is back on track.”

    Way back in 1946, professors J Venkateswarulu, BS Rao and MOP Iyengar initiated plant growth in the botany department and specifically scourged the tropical region of north-coastal AP for rare specimens such as Red Sanders. Even today, the garden can be seen in all its full splendour, especially in the courtyard area and is still very well preserved

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Visakhapatnam News / by Venkatesh Bayyal / TNN / February 26th, 2017

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    A Appa Rao won the Disney Conservation Hero Award for his contribution in restoration of Krishna mangroves.

    A Appa Rao won the Disney Conservation Hero Award for his contribution in restoration of Krishna mangroves.

    Andhra University alumnus Allaparthi Appa Rao of Repalle village in Guntur district won the Disney Conservation Hero-2016 award for his contribution in the restoration of Krishna mangroves.

    The mangrove cover including the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary is a safe haven for Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) and smooth-coated otter.

    The California-based Wildlife Conservation Network has documented the efforts of Mr. Appa Rao in restoration of the mangroves and nominated him for the Disney Conservation Hero -2016 award.

    The Disney Conservation Fund has announced 15 Disney Conservation Heroes globally, including Mr. Appa Rao, for 2016.

    “We are impressed by your use of innovation mangrove restoration techniques to reforest mangroves and dedication to educate people in local villages about the importance of Fishing Cats and their mangrove habitat,” wrote Claire Martin of the Disney Conservation Fund in his communication to Mr. Appa Rao.

    The Fund honours conservationists who have gone above and beyond demonstrating passion, courage, and tenacity in tackling some of the biggest challenges in protecting the planet’s resources.

    “I believe that the global recognition of being Disney Conservation Hero will help in conservation of the mangrove cover in Krishna and Guntur districts as Fishing Cat, smooth-coated otter and other wildlife species are thriving in the mangrove cover,” Mr. Appa Rao told The Hindu .

    Mr. Rao was instrumental in documenting the presence of Fishing Cat in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary. As coordinator of the village-level Ecology Development Committees active in Krishna and Guntur districts under the Wildlife Wing of the Forest Department, Mr. Rao has been working with local communities in restoration of the mangrove cover since 2003.

    “I cherish to spend my days in the mangroves forest. It always fascinates me with diverse life of wildlife. Documentation of smooth-coated otter in the mangroves and study on Fishing Cat became key aspects of my routine life in the mangroves,”added Mr. Appa Rao.

    He manages a treasure trove of archives on the wildlife present in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary and the rest of the mangrove cover.

    The California-based Wildlife Conservation Network has documented the efforts of Appa Rao in restoration of the mangroves.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by T. Appala Naidu / Machilipatname – November 09th, 2016

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