Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bus fare will be hiked

In the wake of the report of NATPAC, the state government will hike the bus fare immediately, said Transport Minister Jose Thettayil.

Talking to reporters in the district, he said a decision on hiking the students� concession will be taken later.

A permanent regulatory commission will be formed to hike the bus fare at the appropriate time. This commission will be formulated on the model of Electricity Regulatory Commission, Telephone Regulatory Authority of India, etc.

Steps will be taken to avoid the burden of drivers, who work continuously.

The government secretary has been instructed to consider any complaints pertaining to charge hike. Cabinet sub-committee will arrive at final decision only after getting the report of NATPAC. The government is also considering launching season ticket facility like the one in trains.

The detailed NATPAC report pertaining to the hike in bus charge will be handed to the government on Monday.

The government is expected to increase the minimum bus fare to Rs 4. But when taken into account the NATPAC report which studied the expenses of running the buses, it is learnt that the minimum charge may be raised further.

The cabinet sub-committee convened on Tuesday will finalise the clear picture of the fare hike.

Hunger strike against cultivation of Bt Brinjal in Kerala

A number of groups, including the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, staged a day-long hunger strike in Kerala on Saturday as a mark of protest against cultivation of Bt Brinjal in the country.

The activists were protesting the proposal to introduce mass cultivation of the genetically modified Bt Brinjal.

\"All scientists are also confused that how come there is no lab in India to ascertain facts about it (Bt Brinjal). Then how can India claim on the benefits of GM (genetically modified crops)? Germany has enough number of labs. Yet they haven\'t approved it,\" said Mullakkara Ratnakaran, Kerala\'s Agriculture Minister.

Bt brinjal is a transgenic brinjal created by inserting a gene cry1Ac from soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into brinjal.

Bt brinjal is marketed in India by MaHyCo (Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company), and Monsanto, a US-based agricultural company.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), which had been instituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, had recommended field experiments of Bt brinjal.

However, the GEAC faced considerable flak by several environmental activists and NGOs such as Greenpeace, for bypassing safety and environmental concerns.

\"Everybody has come together to tell the Government of India that we don\'t want BT Brinjal. We don\'t want genetically modified crops in the country. Farmers and consumers, everybody has shown their way forward on how food and agricultures should be taken forward and we will not allow the government to go against this by promoting these multinational companies,\" said Sreedhar, Convenor of the protest hunger strike against Bt Brinjal, Thiruvananthapuram.

Further he noted that the Bt Brinjal would make the farmers as slaves.

Sreedhar also said that opting for GM crops is against the tenets of Mahatma Gandhi whose death anniversary is observed, nationwide on January 30.

High Command has to take final decision on Murali, says Karunakaran

The high command has to take the final decision on re-admitting K Muraleedharan back to the congress party, said senior leader K Karunakaran.

Talking to reporters after attending the commemoration meet of Mahatma Gandhi at the KPCC headquarters, he said as the distribution of congress membership has completed and as per the party norms, the high command has to take the final decision on Murali.

Two killed in bike-lorry collision

Two motorists were killed when their vehicle collided with a lorry on the Palakkad-Cherppulasseri Road near Vayilyamkunnu Temple at Kadambazhippuram, Friday night.

The dead have been identified as Renjith (24), son of Karunakaran of Pulakoottam and Vineesh (19), son of Balakrishnan of Kadambazhippuram.

Paul murder case: FIR submitted

The CBI, which over the probe of Muthoot Paul George murder case, Saturday submitted the FIR at the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court. No changes were made in the list of accused as per the report.

The list has named Kaari Satheesh as the second accused, Puthenpalam Rajes as the 24th accused and Om Prakash as the 25th accused. A case has been filed against them for possessing explosive materials.

Will chop off hands of those evicting CPI office, says Ismail

The hands of those coming to evict the CPI office in Munnar will be chopped off, said CPI assistant secretary K E Ismail.

For the past 60 years, the office has been functioning here. Persons including Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had stayed here.

The argument that the office is functioning in the land encroached is wrong instead it is in the land purchased, he said.

The argument that the CPI is against eviction is created by the media, he pointed out. He asked the government to protect the immigrants and evict the encroachers.

Munnar visit by cabinet sub-committee ridiculous: Chennithala

KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala Saturday alleged that the visit to Munnar by cabinet sub-committee was ridiculous. They have not visited lands encroached by big hands.

Ninety percent of those encroachers are either CPI (M) leaders or activists. TATA built the check dam under the consent of the government and the government is not brave enough to take over even a single cent of land from them.

He said if the government takes no decision on the Munnar encroachments, the UDF would convene a meeting and take proper decisions.

�Cat parcel� to Munnar; Youth Congress men attacked

The move of Youth Congress Pathanamthitta District Committee to send a cat as parcel to Munnar from KSRTC bus stand here ended in a clash with the CITU workers who were present at the garage.

The Youth Congress earlier launched a sit-in-strike at KSRTC bus stand around 11.30 in the morning as a protest against the Munnar encroachment. As soon as they tried to send a cat through a KSRTC bus, the bus driver hesitated to drive.

The CITU workers at the garage entered into a verbal battle with protesting activists and started to bump them including Youth Congress District President Robin Parumala and Block Secretary Jibi K Jose. Meanwhile, a news photographer was injured in the clash.

No plans to direct films: Om Puri

National Award winning Actor, Om Puri, says he has no plans to direct Bollywood films and rued that the powerful medium is being \"wasted\".

\"It is very sad that such a powerful medium which can help us to grow better is being wasted,\" the actor said about the films being churned out by Bollywood.

The actor attended a reading session \'Unlikely Hero Om Puri\' written by his journalist wife Nandita Puri. The veteran actor released the Malayalam translation of the book titled \'Prathinayakan: Om Puriyude Katha\'.

The national-award-winning actor, who has been a face of parallel cinema with movies like \'Ardh Satya\', \'Mirch Masala and \'Dharavi\', has no ambition to direct a movie in near future.

\"I can direct plays, but not films,\" said Puri, who recently finished \'West is West\', a sequel to \'East is East\'.

The film was partially shot in Punjab and in Manchester.

Asked about the Malayalam film industry, the actor said he had worked with late actor Gopi in a Hindi film. Describing Gopi as a \"wonderful\" actor, Puri said he had given an \"electrifying\" performance in the film.

The 59-year-old actor said he liked the Malayalam cinema of the seventies and eighties as the conventional and art films were given due importance. Cinema flourished and being a literary state, people appreciated well known directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji N Karun and Late Aravindan, who made film of high standards, he said.

LDF Govt lost moral right to continue in power: UDF

Opposition UDF convenor P P Thankachan Saturday alleged the CPI-M led LDF in Kerala had lost its moral right to continue in power as it had \'failed\' on major spheres of administration.

Talking to reporters here, he alleged that Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who expressed his determination to evict all encroachments in Munnar in Idukki district, has \'no will power to execute the task\'.

Courts had indicted the government on several times for the \"flaws\" in handling issues of vital public interest, he alleged.

Criminal held for looting pvt financial firm

A key member of an inter-state gang has been arrested and gold ornaments weighing 20 sovereigns, looted recently from a private financial firm at Bekal in the district, recovered.

Rafique (37), who along with three others looted 113 sovereigns and Rs 19,000 from the firm on Jan 16, was nabbed from border town of Uppala, Superintendent of Police P Prakash told reporters at nearby Kanhangad.

Three gang members are still at large.

Rafique had confessed that he was involved in 18 criminal cases in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and is a key accused in the murder of a man at Uppala some four years ago, he added.

Govt to remove check dams built by Tatas in Munnar

The cabinet sub-committee assigned to study the land grab issue in Munnar has decided to take action for removal of the check dams built by the Tatas allegedly violating rules in the lease agreement.

State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who headed a six-member ministerial subcommittee to study the encroachment issue in the hill station, told reporters the construction of the check dams built by the Tatas had affected flow of water to the hydel reservoirs in the area, which amounted to criminal offence and violation of the lease agreement.

Idukki District Collector would be asked to take necessary action on this, Balakrishnan said after visiting various spots in Munnar Saturday along with his colleagues. The sub-committee findings would be reported to the cabinet next week, he said.

The LDF state committee had Friday extended support to government to evict those who had encroached government land over the years.

Meanwhile, UDF convenor P P Thankachan said in Kozhikode if the ruling Front was sincere in the anti-land grab drive, CPI-M and CPI should voluntarily leave their party offices in Munnar which, he claimed, were built on encroached land.

Kerala High court had recently stressed the need for stern action against encroachments in Munnar while hearing a PIL.

Government had two years ago set up a task force to identify and evict encroachers in Munnar following which hundreds of acres of government land were retrieved and unauthorized constructions demolished. However, the operations came to a halt following complaints from within ruling LDF constituents, CPI and CPI (M), and encroachers.

Kerala gets new Congress-backed diaspora outfit

The Overseas Indian Cultural Congress (OICC), an organisation bringing non-resident Keralites (NRKs) in various countries under one umbrella, came into being Saturday with support from the Congress\' Kerala unit.

Addressing reporters here, Congress state unit chief Ramesh Chennithala said the OICC, comprising various organisations based outside the country, has been formed and its constitution has been approved.

\'The two day meeting that concluded here today (Saturday) was attended by 250 representatives from various Middle Eastern countries and Europe, as also the US and Britain. Now these representatives will go back to these countries and form proper units of the OICC. The district committee would be the primary unit,\' he said.

Chennithala said representatives of the new grouping will soon go to Delhi and meet the prime minister and other ministers to raise the problems of the NRKs.

\'We will raise the issues like the problems faced by them with regards to Air India. Inordinate delays by the national carrier are a problem that has not been resolved for long. We will also demand posting of more Malayalam speaking officials in the Indian embassies in the Middle East countries,\' he said.

OICC came about after Chennithala made several trips to various Middle East countries to unite the various cultural groups that are at present working in those countries.

\'It has also been decided to hold a global summit of the OICC in Qatar in May. An organising committee under the leadership of (Qatar-based businessman) C.K. Menon has been formed,\' Chennithala said.

Currently, there are more than two million NRKs, of whom the majority is in the Middle East. Over the years, their remittances, which have crossed Rs.25,000 crore, now comprise about 20 per cent of the state\'s net domestic product and are 30 percent more than the state\'s annual receipts.

M Mukundan has been selected for the third Habeeb Valappad award.

Noted writer and president of the Kerala Sahitya Academy M Mukundan has been selected for the third Habeeb Valappad award.

The Habeeb Valappad Smaraka Samiti secretary, R I Shamsudeen told reporters here Saturday that Mukundan\'s novel \'Pravasam\' was chosen for the award from among the novels published in the year 2008.

The award, comprising Rs 10,000, a testimonial and a plaque would be presented to him here on February 14, he said.

The Young Scientist Awards presented

The Young Scientist Awards were presented at the valedictory function of the 22nd Kerala Science Congress here on Sunday.

The winners included Surya Sankar (Fisheries and Veterinary Sciences); S. Lakshmi (Biotechnology); Sampath Srinivasan (Chemical Sciences and Technology); S. Arjun (Earth system science and geo-informatics); R. Suja (Engineering Science); S. Babu (Environmental science); Praveenkumar B. Ravindran (Health Science); and S. Nishant Kumar (Life science). The subjects chosen by the winners in various categories included �Development and evaluation of whole cell and membrane protein vaccines against Mycloplasma gallisepticum� (Fisheries and veterinary sciences); �Anti-tumour potency of 5,7-dihydroxyflavone, a bioactive compound isloated from Alpinia galanga� (Biotechnology); �A

bioinspired self-cleaning nanocomposite� (Chemical sciences and technology); �Numerical validation of Kallakadal � coastal flooding due to remote forcing� (Earth system science and geo-informatics); �Rehabilitation of Thiruvananthapuram water supply network for improving its reliability� (Engineering Science); �Distribution and conservation status of owls in the southern Western Ghats� (Environmental science); �Germine hMLHI mutations in Indian colorectal cancer patients with suspected lynch syndrome� (Health science); and �New bioactive cyclic peptides from bacteria associated with entomopathogenic nematodes� (Life science).

K.V. Sankaran, director, KFRI; E.P. Yesodharan, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE); R.V.G. Menon, chairman of the Science Congress; C.G. Ramachandran Nair, former chairman of Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (STEC); and V. Ajit Prabhu, joint director, KSCSTE, spoke.

Amala B.S a first-year MBBS student dead

Amala B.S., a first-year MBBS student at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, died after she fell from from the hostel building on Sunday. Amala, 19, hailed from Thiruvananthapuram. The body was taken to the Ernakulam General Hospital for post-mortem examination. � Staff Reporter

Compensation for the relatives of Thekkady boat tragedy victims remains unclaimed

Three persons, including two women, were injured when an armed gang attacked their house at Vellorkonam in the Nedumangadu police station limits on Sunday evening. The police identified the injured as Jnana Deepam, 77, his daughters Sudha, 27, and Prema Latha, 38

Three injured in armed attack

Three persons, including two women, were injured when an armed gang attacked their house at Vellorkonam in the Nedumangadu police station limits on Sunday evening. The police identified the injured as Jnana Deepam, 77, his daughters Sudha, 27, and Prema Latha, 38

Eco Fest-2010 begins

The Viswadarshanam Centre for Huma- nity and Nature is organising �Eco Fest-2010�, an event for school eco-clubs, on its campus at Nariyapuram near here from February 1 to 5. The programme will begin with a �super-speedy� environmental cartoon show by cartoonist S. Jithesh at 10 a.m. on Monday. Viswadarshanam director Umeshbabu said as many as 250 eco-clubs from different schools in the State would take part in the event.

A key member of an inter-State gang held , gold recovered

A key member of an inter-State gang has been arrested and 20 sovereigns of gold ornaments, looted recently from a private financial firm at Bekal, recovered.

Rafique (37), who along with three others took away 113 sovereigns of gold and Rs. 19,000 from the firm on Jan 16, was nabbed from the border town of Uppala, Superintendent of Police P. Prakash told reporters at Kanhangad on Saturday.

The three gang-members are still at large. Rafique had confessed to his involvement in 18 criminal cases in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and is a key accused in the murder of a man at Uppala four years ago, Mr. Prakash added.

�Miss Kerala,� an ornamental fish, facing the danger of extinction.

Hope is finally burning bright for �Miss Kerala� (Puntius denisonii), an ornamental fish facing the danger of extinction from commercial exports.

A freshwater fish endemic and once largely exclusive to the Achencoil and the Chaliyar rivers, Miss Kerala, also known as red line torpedo barb, was a major export revenue earner for the State in the ornamental fish export sector, with each of these beauties raking in at least Rs.1,500.

However, with no steps to curb the exports, the species was slowly swimming to extinction.

Now, giving a shot in the arm for those fighting to save Miss Kerala, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has put her on its Red List, regarded the most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species since 1963.