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President appeals to Telugu states to live in peace, harmony

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Hyderabad: Amid tension between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over various issues, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday appealed to both the Telugu states to live in peace and harmony for the betterment of their people.much-gap-between-desires-and-means-says-pranab-mukherjee_150913025701

“We can choose our friends but can’t choose our neighbours. Our neighbours are going to stay where they are. We may like it or may not like it but it is for us to decide whether to live with our neighbours in peace and harmony or in perpetual tension,” he said while speaking at the launch of book “Uniki” written by Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao.

His appeal came against the backdrop of tension between the two Telugu states in the wake of cash-for-vote scam, allegedly involving a legislator of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana.

After an audio tape of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who is also TDP chief, allegedly relating to the same bribery scandal surfaced last month, he accused Telangana’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of tapping his phone.

Andhra has already urged the central government to order probe into phone-tapping and hand over to joint governor the law and order powers in Hyderabad, the joint capital of the two states.

“My appeal to all concerned is to work in close harmony because we all belong to India and this is necessary to ensure sustainable development and to help the country get its rightful place in the comity of nations,” he said, adding it was also important given the significance of Hyderabad.

“Hyderabad is not just state headquarters or capital city. It is something more,” Mukherjee said, pointing out that as cyber city or Hitec city, it developed the core competence of modern-day civilization – information technology.

“It has emerged as an educational hub to the benefit of only people of this region or Telangana or Andhra Pradesh but to the benefit of whole of India,” he added.

“It (Hyderabad) has its national importance. Always there will be problems particularly when a new entity is carved out, it raises many problems,” the president said.

He quoted one of the 10 Biblical Commandments “love your neighbour” to underline the need for both states to live together in peace.

Mukherjee said he was sharing his views as he was personally associated with this issue (Telangana) for a long time in his earlier capacity as union minister, when he headed a committee constituted by then ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to look into the demand for separate Telangana state and later played a key role in its formation as a member of the Congress’ core group.

He also congratulated Vidyasagar Rao for bringing out this useful compilation of writings and reflections on his life and experiences. He stated that the title, which means existence, evokes a philosophical view of the issues and events that have been written about in this book.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, who released the book, presented first copy to the president.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Congress leader in Telangana assembly K. Jana Reddy also spoke. (IANS)

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Putin Inaugurated Bridge That Links Russian Mainland to Crimea

Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine's southeast.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Position of Crimea. Pixabay

Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The 19-km, $3.7 billion bridge is Moscow’s only direct road link to Crimea. Russia expects it will carry millions of cars and rail travellers and millions of tonnes of cargo each year. Previously, all car traffic passed over the Kerch strait by ferry or by passing through Ukraine, the Guardian reported.

On Tuesday, Putin drove an orange Kamaz truck across the bridge as he opened the road to car traffic. “In different historical epochs, even under the tsar priests, people dreamed of building this bridge,” Putin told workers at the ceremony.

“Then they returned to this (idea) in the 1930s, the 40s, the 50s. And finally, thanks to your work and your talent, the miracle has happened.”

The Russian state media touted the bridge as the “construction of the century”. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had considered and then scrapped plans to build a bridge over the Kerch strait.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s southeast.

In 2016, the US imposed sanctions on Russian companies that were helping to build the bridge across the Kerch strait. Ukraine said the construction of the bridge showed “blatant disregard for international law”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Vladimir Putin opened the bridge from Russia to Crimea. wikimedia commons

The US State Department said that “the bridge impeded ship navigation and goods delivery in the area and therefore it was watching the situation closely”.

The Russian embassy, however, said that “the US remarks were predictable and Moscow was not asking anyone’s authorization for building infrastructure projects on its territory.

“As one could predict, Washington is not happy with that. But Crimea is Russia,” the Russian embassy said in a statement.

“We shall not ask for anybody’s permission to build transport infrastructure for the sake of the population of Russian regions.”

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The bridge’s construction was led by Stroygazmontazh, whose owner, Arkady Rotenberg, has close connections to the Kremlin. Rotenberg was Putin’s judo sparring partner.

He was hit with sanctions by the US for his proximity to Putin and by the EU for being among those accused of undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

The bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule, according to Russian state news agencies. It can reportedly carry up to 40,000 cars per day, its span is greater than that of the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal, previously the longest in Europe. (IANS)