Saturday, February 27, 2010

CPI-M to intensify land agitation in Wayanad: Vijayan

KALPETTA: Ruling CPI (M) in Kerala would intensify the agitation to rehabilitate landless tribals in Wayanad District by mobilising support of its feeder outfits, party State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said Saturday.



The CPI-M would intensify the agitation involving party feeder outfits in the coming days by forcing private parties to surrender unauthorised land under their possession, howsoever, influential they might be, Vijayan told a public meeting here in Wayanad District.



\"The real encroachers are those who keep unauthorised land and such owners would be evicted using force,\" he said.



As part of the agitation, over 100 families, mostly tribals, under the aegis of pro CPI-M Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU) and Adivasi Kshema Samiti, had earlier this month occupied parts of Harrison Malayalam Plantation Ltd\'s tea estate and land held by JD(S) MLA M V Sreyasmkumar, son of JDS leader M P Veerendrakumar.

Honorary Doctorate for Resul Pookutty

MUMBAI: Oscar winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty is elated that he will soon be awarded an honorary doctorate and says that it is extra special because it comes from a Sanskrit university in Kerala.



\"It\'s a big honour that Sankaracharya Sanskrit University is offering me a doctorate. By winning the Oscar last year, everyone felt that there was a lot of Indian-ness in the Oscar; there were lots of togetherness in the Oscar, lot of brotherhood... maybe it is in recognition of all that the university has decided to give me the doctorate,\" Pookutty said.



\"I feel very honoured, specially because it is coming from a Sanskrit university,\" he said.



He will be awarded the doctorate by Kerala\'s Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University March 16.



So is he good at Sanskrit himself?



\"I studied Sanskrit in my school. It was my third optional language but I am not that acquainted with the language any more,\" said Pookuty, who won the Oscar for his work in Slumdog Millionaire.



Pookutty revealed that he had two Hollywood projects in hand but was reluctant to disclose any details in advance.



\"I already have two Hollywood projects, but it\'s too early to speak about them now,\" he said.



Shooting for one film would start early March, while the other would begin in July, he added.

Women in thousands converge for \'pongala\' ritual

T�PURAM: Women in thousands have begun to pour in to the city as the stage is set for today\'s \'pongala\' festival of the famed Atttukal Bhavathi temple here, which has found its way into the Guinness Book of Records as world?s largest religious gathering of women on a single day.



A religious event that attracts women cutting across caste, class and even religious barriers, the pongla is a ritual of women boiling sweetened rice in fresh earthen pots on make-shift brick hearths at open space as their offering to the Goddess, seeking her blessings for all round prosperity.



Once a small village ceremony performed by handful of women on the banks of the Killiyar river to celebrate a local legend, over the last few decades the pongala has become a huge festival like the Sabarimala pilgrimage.



If Sabarimala pilgrimage is primarily for men, pongala is performed by women alone, though there is no gender discrimination for worshipping at the temple, situated on the southern periphery of the Kerala capital.



\'Last year the turn out was slightly over 2.5 million. This time it could exceed 3 million. Every year it has been going up,\' temple secretary K P Ramachandran Nair told PTI.

Cinema row, Mammotty strikes conciliatory note

ALAPPUZHA: Breaking his silence over the controversy sparked by Malayalam cine actor Thilakan, superstar Mammootty Saturday said mainstream artistes were eager to settle the issue through a dialogue within the framework of the actors\' body, Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA).



\"We don\'t have any quarrel or animus against Thilakan. We have not imposed any ban or ever said we will not co-operate with him,\" Mammootty told a press meet here.



Striking a conciliatory note towards Thilakan, who triggered the feud by fulminating against \"superstar domination\" in Malayalam filmdom, Mammootty said AMMA\'s position was that all issues should be settled through dialogue.



\"AMMA is an organisation of artistes. Whatever issues are there, they should be resolved through a dialogue,\" the national award winning actor said.



Mammootty, who declined to take questions from reporters, said AMMA would no longer indulge in any public debate on the issue through the media.



The long smouldering frictions in Malayalam cinema flared up two months back with Thilakan alleging he had been dropped from a film after being offered a role in it, under pressure from a \'superstar\'.



He went on to allege that Malayalam filmdom was now dominated by a \'mafia\' controlled by superstars, an apparent reference to Mammootty and Mohanlal.

`Sand mining from dams could fetch Rs 500 cr a year\'

PALAKKAD: A sum of Rs 500 crore can be earned through sand mining from dams in Kerala in the next financial year, Water Resources Minister N K Premachandran said Saturday.



Addressing reporters here after visiting authorised sand mining spots at Malampuzha dam here, he said Kerala could collect Rs 5000 crore by sand mining from dams in five years.



About one lakh cubic metres of sand had been collected from specific sites at Malampuzha in the last two weeks. Sand mining would also be carried out in dams at Poomala, Peechi, Peppara and Thenmala before the onset of monsoon, he said.

Shooting of \'DAM 999\' to commence at Alappuzha from Mar one

KOCHI: The shooting of \'DAM 999\', set in the backdrop of a 100-year-old dam which in a state of impending collapse and explores the \'Navarasa\' concept, will begin from March 1 at Alappuzha.



The star cast of the film has Bollywood actors including Rajat Kapoor, Ashis Vidyarthi, Tamil actor Vinay Rai, Tulip Joshi and Hollywood actress Linta Assine, among others.



Malayalam actress Vimla Raman is also in the film.



The film is to be shot using 70mm 3D and has nine characters expressing nine emotions (navarasa), Film\'s Director, Sohan Roy, told reporters here.



Roy is also the Managing Director of Marine Biz TV network, which is producing the film.



The climax of the film will be shot at Ramoji Film city, Hyderabad, the world\'s largest film city.



Roy said veteran actor Thilakan has been selected to portray \"Shanta rasa\". \"But if the current controversy between Thilakan and Association of Malayalam movie Artists (AMMA) is not resolved, then the project will lose him,\" he said.

Petroleum price hike: Transport workers, bus owners to strike

T�PURAM: Protesting the petroleum price hike, transport workers unions in Kerala Saturday declared a one-day strike on March 2 while bus owners threatened to go on an indefinite strike from March 11 demanding immediate fare hike.



The co-ordination committee of private bus owners, which met in Thrissur, announced that all private buses running in Kerala would suspend services from March 11, unless the state government conceded to their demand.



A joint meeting of pro-Left Transport workers unions in Kozhikode said all transport workers, including bus crew, lorries, taxis and autorickshaws would strike work on Tuesday demanding rollback of hike in diesel and petrol prices.



\"Our demand for fare revision is a long-pending one. Now we are not in a position to carry on with operations with the latest fuel price hike. We are giving the state government enough time to agree to our demand,\" leaders of the bus owners Joint Action Committee said in Thrissur.



In the present situation, the minimum charge should be raised to Rs 5 from Rs 3.50 and per km rate fixed at 60 paise, they said.



Reacting to the Union budget, Transport Minister Jose Thettayil said Friday that the fuel price hike had made the bus fare increase inevitable.

Need to give proper information about blood donation: CJI



KOCHI: Public should be educated properly about blood donation to dispel misconceptions, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan Saturday said.



There were lot of apprehensions and misconceptions in the mind of the people regarding blood donation and proper information needed to be provided to them to motivate them to donate blood, he said in his inaugural address at the silver jubilee celebration of the IMA Blood Bank here.



Stressing the need to have more volunteers to donate blood, he said in Chennai and many other cities in Tamil Nadu many hospitals have lists of voluntary blood donors.



Appreciating the good work being done by Indian doctors and nurses in hospitals abroad, he said if they decided to return home the health system of many countries would be affected.

Kerala tribal village declared litigation-controlled

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan Saturday declared Moonnilavu village in this district of Kerala as the first litigation-controlled tribal panchayat in the country.



The panchayat has earned the distinction due to development in socio-cultural activities. Education also played a dominant role in achieving the status, he said after making the declaration at a function.



Moonnilavu, the north eastern tip of the district, bordering Idukki, had come a long way from its past with a high rate of crimes and litigation and the people now avoided courts, settling disputes by way of reconciliation, due to efforts by the Kerala State Legal Services Authority, officials said.



Justice Balakrishnan said the number of cases were less in the country considering the growth of population. \"India is not a litigation loving country,\" he said.



Lauding the efforts of Legal Services Authority in controlling the number of litigations, he said even courts could not find a solution in some cases due to limitations.



He said the idea that lawyers would lose their jobs if there were no cases was a wrong notion. Lawyers would not be isolated as central and state governments were implementing several socio-welfare projects

Cooperatives to supply textbooks

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a move aimed at ensuring timely delivery of school textbooks in the coming academic year, the Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI) has decided to bypass book depots and directly link school cooperative societies in the State with the Kerala Books and Publications Society (KBPS) - the main printing agency of school textbooks - for distribution and delivery of textbooks in government and aided schools.





The new system is expected to avoid delays and expenses involved in storing, loading and unloading books in the depots.





Unaided schools, however, will follow last year�s system where orders for textbooks should be placed online and the distribution will be made through the depots.


Cooperatives to supply textbooks

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a move aimed at ensuring timely delivery of school textbooks in the coming academic year, the Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI) has decided to bypass book depots and directly link school cooperative societies in the State with the Kerala Books and Publications Society (KBPS) - the main printing agency of school textbooks - for distribution and delivery of textbooks in government and aided schools.



The new system is expected to avoid delays and expenses involved in storing, loading and unloading books in the depots.



Unaided schools, however, will follow last year�s system where orders for textbooks should be placed online and the distribution will be made through the depots.

NSS meet held

Thiruvananthapuram: The annual meet of the National Service Scheme under the Directorate of Technical Education at Mohandas College of Engineering and Technology, Aanad, was held on Saturday. More than 500 volunteers from 116 technical institutions participated in the event.

Applications invited



THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has invited applications from those interested in starting new self-financing engineering colleges in the State. A release on Saturday said the applications should be submitted to the Director of Technical Education on Sunday, February 28. More details could be obtained either from the office of the Director of Technical Education, or from the website, www.dtekerala.gov.in.

Plans to tackle water scarcity in summer

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Cleaning up local water bodies and augmenting existing water distribution infrastructure will be among the steps taken by the district administration to tackle water scarcity in the district during the summer months.



The district drought action plan will also include arranging auxiliary water delivery systems in areas with severe water scarcity, District Collector Sanjay Kaul said here on Saturday.



He said instructions had already been given to village officers to identify areas that are likely to face severe water scarcity in the coming days. Instructions had also been given to indentify faulty water distributions systems which need to be repaired immediately.



�These are the short-term measures that we are taking to cope with water scarcity in the summer months from March to April. Other long-term measures, like new drinking water schemes and pumping stations have been included in the development projects of various local bodies in the district approved by the District Planning Committee,� Mr. Kaul said.



Funds for the district drought action plan will be released by the State government in March. Last year, the district had received Rs.one crore for drought relief.

25 lakh women likely for Pongala

Thiruvananthapuram: More than 25 lakh women are expected to make the Attukal Pongala offering in 22 Municipal Corporation wards in the city on Sunday.



The State police have deployed more than 2,500 men, including women constables, for ensuring security, maintaining law and order and regulating traffic at arguably the biggest religious congregation of women in the country.



Hundreds of volunteers from more than 500 residents� associations and neighbourhood watch groups in the city are working in tandem with the police, State government and Municipal authorities to ensure the smooth conduct of the festival. The police have issued identity cards to them.



Many residents� associations have on their own made arrangements for devotees. They have swept clean important roads and cut wild flora on the roadsides for devotees to make hearths on which they will cook rice and palm sugar in earthen pots to offer as sacrament to the presiding deity of Attukal temple on Sunday noon.



Most traders in the festival area have pooled resources to offer drinking water, butter milk, fruit juices, breakfast and lunch to devotees.



The police have issued authorised volunteers photograph-imposed identity cards. Only they will be allowed to work as volunteers in the festival area on Pongala day. The police have restricted the entry of men into the core festival area.

Raamaanam bags John Abraham award

Thiruvananthapuram: �Raamaanam,� directed by M.P. Sukumaran Nair, has been selected for the 12th John Abraham Award for the best film of 2009.



The award, instituted by the Federation of Film Societies of India � Keralam, consists of a cash prize of Rs.30,000, a statuette and citation.



�Bhramaram,� directed by Blessy, won a special mention by the jury comprising Sunny Joseph as chairman and C.V. Balakrishnan and M.G. Sasi as members.



Anwar Rasheed, director of �Bridge,� one of the films included in the anthology titled �Kerala Caf�; Sashi Kumar who acted in �Loudspeaker� and Indrans (�Raamaanam�) also won special mention.



Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Joseph said �Raamaanam� was adjudged the best film for its effective portrayal of social realities through the life of an honest artiste.



The preliminary selection was conducted by an opinion poll among societies affiliated to the federation

BSNL rolls out India\'s first urban mobile WiMAX service

KOCHI: BSNL today commercially launched the country\'s first mobile broadband fourth generation Internet access network--Mobile WiMAX in Kerala.





Union minister of state for Agriculture and Consumer Affairs K V Thomas, launched the facility at a function here today.



BSNL is also the first operator in the country to launch the service, for which technology has been provided by AVIAT, formerly Harris Stratex.



WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) technology, can provide a speed of up to 37 mbps. It is being deployed in Kerala with 900 BTS (Base Transmitting Stations) to cover the entire state, Principal General Manager, BSNL, Ernakulam, E M Abraham said.



In the first phase, 450 BTS would be set up to cover all major cities, district headquarters and important towns at a project cost of about Rs 100 crore.



In the second phase, another 450 BTS would be commissioned to cover the remaining towns.



The technology will provide access to broadband at a cost performance ratio that is far better than any other technology, he said.



It provides features like high speed broad band connectivity anywhere, anytime for devices like Desktop, Laptop on wireless.



It has two tariff plans - Home Plan with a fixed monthly charge of Rs 999 while the Business plan is Rs 1,999 for a band width 512 to 2 mbps.

Women in thousands converge for \'pongala\' ritual in Kerala

Women in thousands have begun to pour in to the city as the stage is set for tomorrow\'s \'pongala\' festival of the famed Atttukal Bhavathi temple here, which has found its way into the Guinness Book of Records as world’s largest religious gathering of women on a single day. A religious event that attract women cutting across caste, class and even religious barriers, the pongla is a ritual of women boiling sweetened rice in fresh earthen pots on make-shift brick hearths at open space as their offering to the Goddess, seeking her blessings for all round prosperity.



Once a small village ceremony performed by handful of women on the banks of the Killiyar river to celebrate a local legend, over the last few decades the pongala has become a huge festival like the Sabarimala pilgrimage.



If Sabarimala pilgrimage is primarily for men, pongala is performed by women alone, though there is no gender

discrimination for worshipping at the temple, situated on the

southern periphery of the Kerala capital.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

14 new trains proposed for State in railway budget

CHENNAI: Fourteen new trains, including a Duronto service between Chennai and Coimbatore, have been proposed for Tamil Nadu in the budget submitted by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in Parliament on Wednesday. However, no new lines, gauge conversion or doubling projects have been included.



The Chennai � Coimbatore Duronto Express will be a day time point-to-point service. It will be cheaper and faster compared to Rajdhani Express, according to the Minister. Other new trains proposed are: Nagercoil � Bangalore Express via Madurai and Hosur; Tiruchirapalli � Mangalore (weekly) Express; Coimbatore � Tirupati Intercity (tri-weekly) Express via Salem; Madurai � Tirupati (bi-weekly) Express; Howrah � Katpadi (Vellore) � Puducherry (weekly) Express; Haldia � Chennai (weekly) Express; Chennai � New Jalpaiguri (weekly) Express; Tiruchendur � Tirunelveli Passenger; Mayiladuthurai � Thanjavur Passenger; Coimbatore � Pollachi Passenger (after gauge conversion); and main line EMU services between Coimbatore and Erode; Tirupati and Chennai via Nellore; and between Salem and Katpadi.

Nun succumbs to burns

Thrissur: A nun belonging to Santhibhavan Ashram, Irinjalakuda, died of burns at a private hospital here on Tuesday. According to hospital sources, Sr. Josmy Rose (35), hailing from Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district, sustained burns from a gas stove

Celebrations conclude

Thrissur: Centenary celebrations of the Guruvayur campus of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan concluded here on Tuesday. Christy L. Fernandez, secretary to President of India, participated at the valedictory function.



Congress rebel wins bypoll

PATHANAMTHITTA: Ulanad Harikumar, a Congress rebel candidate, and Asokan Kulanada of the BJP were elected president and vice-president, respectively, of the Kulanda grama panchayat in the byelections held to the posts on Wednesday

Armenian Catholicos to visit pilgrim centres

PATHANAMTHITTA: Catholicos of the Armenian Orthodox Church Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia will visit three major pilgrim centres of the Malankara Orthodox Church in the district on Sunday.



The Catholicos, accompanied by Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baselius Mar Thoma Didymus-I, will bless the faithful at St. Mary�s Orthodox Church at Kallooppara at 8.30 a.m.



He will lead prayers at the tomb of St. Gregorios at St. Paul�s and St. Peter�s Church, Parumala, at 10 a.m.



He will be accorded a reception at St. Mary�s Church at Niranom at 2 p.m..



�Hands-on training in newspaper making

MALAPPURAM: Students of 10 high schools in Malappuram educational sub-district got hands-on training in newspaper production on Wednesday, thanks to an innovative move by the Vidyarangam Kala Sahitya Vedi.



The students did everything�identifying, reporting, editing and making the pages.



Before venturing out to collect news, the students listened carefully to the theory of newspaper production. Anil Kurupan, a teacher-journalist, led the workshop in which the students were introduced to different aspects of covering news and making pages.



Ten teams of students with three members in each group went around Malappuram town collecting news.



They spoke to workers in the market, visitors at the Kottakunnu Art Gallery, commuters at the municipal bus stand and visited public places where garbage was dumped.



The students regrouped at St. Gemmas High School here and in 90 minutes 10 exquisite wall newspapers were brought out. Each of them carried unique names and flags. They laid stress on matters of civic importance.



The number of news stories on the pages varied from four to eight.



Knowing the importance of layout in selling the product, the students drew pictures and sketches to lift the stories.



An exhibition of newspapers was also organised as part of the workshop.



�Light of Madina� celebrations held

MALAPPURAM: Hundreds of people from different parts of the district assembled at Swalat Nagar, near here, on Wednesday night singing hymns and paeans in praise of Prophet Mohammed as part of his birthday celebrations. Madinu Ssaquafathil Islamiyya organised the function. District Collector M.C. Mohandas inaugurated the celebrations titled �Light of Madina.� Sayed Ibrahim Khaleel Bukhari, chairman of the Madinu Ssaquafathil Islamiyya, presided over the function. Egyptian Hadith scholar Ahmed Kamil Husain Darvish was the chief guest on the occasion.

Scholarships given away

MALAPPURAM: The Kottakkal unit of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) distributed its Henry Giessenbier Foundation scholarships at a function held at A.K.M. High School, Kottur recently. Five academically excellent but economically poor students won the scholarship of Rs.2,000 each. Raghu Raj, JCI zonal vice-president, gave away the scholarships. Basheer Kurunian, school headmaster addressed the gathering.







SBI to organise adalat today

KOZHIKODE: The State Bank of India (SBI) is organising an adalat at its office on Thursday for customers facing revenue recovery proceedings from the bank�s branches in Kozhikode, Palayalam, Nadakkavu, Malapramba, East Hill, Elathur, Pavangad, Kozhikode medical college, NIT Chathamangalam, Ramanattukara, Tiruvannur, Beypore, and Kallai.



The adalat will begin at 10 a.m. The customers attending the adalat will be offered concessions on interest and penal interest and a chance for one-time settlement of their dues.



The adalat, being held under the aegis of the SBI�s retail assets, small and medium enterprises city credit centre here.



It will be attended by the Deputy Collector, Revenue Recovery, and the Tahsildar, Revenue Recovery, a press release issued here on Wednesday by the bank said.

Bridge to open on March 4

Kozhikode: The Korapuzha bridge, closed for repairs, will be opened for traffic on March 4. This was decided after District Collector P.B. Salim held talks with the contractor in charge of the repairs. The closure had been causing traffic congestion and vehicles were being diverted on NH 17. Two expert teams from Chennai are supervising the works on the bridge. Three more expert teams will join them and work round the clock to meet the deadline, a press release issued here said.

Solar clock to be installed at school

KOZHIKODE: A �solar clock� that would help understand the movement of the Earth and the waxing and waning of the moon, is being installed at St. Michael�s Girls High School here on Thursday as part of the programmes organised to observe National Science Day.

205 watershed projects cleared

KATTAPPANA: The District Planning Council has cleared 205 watershed projects to be implemented through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the 30 grama panchayats of the district.



An official with the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), which is the implementing agency, said that about 30 projects, including digging of ponds in farmlands, weed clearance and construction of bunds to prevent soil erosion and rain water collection could be taken up under the scheme.



It is expected that projects under MGNREGS could be implemented in around 1,83,000 hectares of land in the district and the watershed projects will turn to be one of the major employment creating areas under the scheme, he said.



Pappinissery tense

KANNUR: A tense situation prevailed at Pappinissery and nearby areas for the second day on Wednesday following clashes between Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) workers.



Arsonists targeted shops and two-wheelers in spite of the large deployment of police personnel in the area.



Two motorcycles and a furniture shop were set on fire and two shops were attacked by workers of rival parties at



The latest incidents have given rise to fears of another spell of violence in the area which recently witnessed clashes between CPI(M) and Popular Front of India (PFI) workers.



The furniture shop owned by an IUML activist K.P. Musthafa at Illippuram was set ablaze by suspected CPI(M) workers in the early hours of Wednesday.



The police said a patrolling team first noticed the fire. The arsonists were said to have poured petrol through the ventilator window of the shop and set it afire. Many of the furniture items in the shop were destroyed in the fire.



The arsonists also set fire to two motorcyles parked in the compound of a house of IUML sympathiser M. Afsal at Puthiyakavu. The two-wheelers were completely damaged in the fire.



The office of the Pappinissery Co-operative Tiles Company at Pappinissery West came under attack by alleged IUML activists.



All the window panes of the office were broken in the attack. The attackers also destroyed pots and hollow bricks manufactured by the company.



The trouble erupted on Monday night leading to incidents of retaliatory attacks in the area.



South station to get a facelift

KOCHI: Passengers can expect better amenities at the Ernakulam Junction station since the Railways propose to convert it into a world-class station. The station wears a dreary look now, since the concourse is very narrow, and many platforms do not have even basic amenities and proper lighting.



The parking area too is small. The construction wing of the Railways has for long been demanding more funds for the upkeep of the station and to build a modern station building. Commissioning the sixth platform and taking over the GCDA-owned building on the eastern side would give a new face to the most important station in the district. The station also does not have modern trolleys and attenders to move luggage in bulk.



59 students pass Cambridge examination

KOCHI: Fifty-nine students of the international wing of the Global Public School at Chottanikkara, who appeared for the International General Certificate of Secondary Exam (IGCSE) conducted by Cambridge University in November, have cleared the examination successfully.



An official release said that 32 students secured the ICE certification. Meryl C. Anil emerged the school topper with three �A\' stars and four �A\'s.



The IGCSE has an assessment scheme that is not limited to conventional written papers.



The evaluation is done in Cambridge University, U.K., and the certificates are signed by the Registrar of the varsity, the release said.



Ian Chambers, regional head of the Cambridge International Examinations, visited the school recently.



Gas leak

KOCHI: A leak developed in the release valve of an LPG bullet tanker created panic in Ambalamedu area on Wednesday night. The leak was detected at around 8.30 p.m. as the vehicle was leaving the Kochi refinery premises. The technical staff of the refinery plugged the leak and the vehicle was moved to the factory premises for unloading the LPG from the tanker.

Metro rail

KOCHI: The Nationalist Congress Party organised a call attention agitation demanding budgetary provisions for the Kochi Metro railway project. C.M. Devassy, district president, inaugurated the dharna held in this regard.



Devarajan award for O.N.V. Kurup

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Poet O.N.V. Kurup has been selected for the G. Devarajan Shaktigadha Award instituted by the music organisation, G. Devarajan Shaktigadha.



The award consists of a cash prize of Rs.10,001 and citation. Declaring the award at a press meet on Wednesday, G. Devarajan Shaktigadha president Perumbuzha Gopalakrishnan said Housing and Forest Minister Benoy Viswom would present the award to Mr. Kurup at a function to be held at VJT Hall here on March 14, to commemorate the 4th death anniversary of composer G. Devarajan. The programme would include a performance by Shadkala Pallavi and Shaktigadha Choir. A Devarajan Gananjali would also be conducted.



Aravindan Puraskaram

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Atanu Ghosh, director of the Bengali feature film �Angshumaner Chhobi\' has been selected for the 19th �Aravindan Puraskaram\' for the best debut film director for the year 2009, chairman of the award jury K.R. Mohanan said at a press conference here on Wednesday. The award, instituted by the Chalachitra Film Society, carries a cash prize of Rs.25,000, a citation and memento.



Capital to get drinking water bottling plant

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the proposals for world class standards for Thiruvananthapuram Central station and operating centre at adjoining Nemom remain in paper, the capital has been gifted with one of the six drinking water bottling plants announced by Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in the Railway budget.



The plant will be set up through Public Private Partnership for providing clean and low-priced bottled drinking water. Another proposal beneficial to the capital is the survey of the Chengannur-Adoor-Thiruvananthapuram route via Kottarakara.



Safety awards announced

Thiruvananthapuram: FACT Ltd., Udyogamandal; BPCL, Kochi; ITI Ltd., Kanjikode; Vijayalaxmi Cashew Company, Kollam; HLL Life Care Ltd., Thiruvananthapuram, and Terumo Penpol Ltd., Thiruvananthapuram, have bagged the first prize in the safety awards instituted by the Department of Factories and Boilers for the year 2009 in the very large factories category employing more than 500 people.



Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd., Ambalamugal; Kerala Agro Machinery Corporation, Ernakulam; Krishna Food Processors, Kollam, and Vaidyaratnam P.S. Warrier�s Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala, Malappuram, bagged the top honours in the large factories category (employing 250 to 500 workers).



Among medium factories employing 100 to 250 workers, the first prize went to Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd., Ernakulam; BPCL Ltd., LPG filling plant, Kazhakuttom; United Electrical Industries Ltd., Kollam, Rubfila International Ltd., Palakkad, and Rajiv Gandhi Combined Cycle Power Project, NTPC Ltd., Choolatheruvu.



The first prize winners among small factories employing 10 to 100 workers include Carborandum Universal Ltd., Thrissur; HPCL LPG bottling plant, Kanjikode; Minar Ispat Pvt. Ltd., Kozhikode; Diamond Food Products, Ernakulam; Prime Veneers Ltd., Kannur; Safa Enterprises, Kodungalloor; Comtrust Super Designer Tiles, Palakkad; William Goodacre and Sons Pvt. Ltd., Alappuzha; Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Company, Palakkad; T.V. Sundaram Iyengar and Sons Ltd., Kollam; Malankara Rubber Factory, Thodupuzha, and MRCMPU Ltd., Peringalam.



Hartal total

KATTAPPANA: The dawn to dusk hartal observed by the High Range Samrakshana Samithi in Udumbanchola, Devikulam and Peerumade taluks and Vazhathope and Kanjikushy grama panchayats of Thodupuzha taluk was total. KSRTC services were conducted as usual. The hartal was observed to protest against the affidavit submitted by the State government before the High Court to the effect that the areas in the district as eco-sensitive. The United Democratic Front, Bharathiya Janata Party, Kerala Vypaiari Vyavasaya Samithi and High Range Motor Thozhilali Association also supported the hartal. � A Correspondent

Mobile supermarket for coastal area soon

ALAPPUZHA: After the success of its floating supermarket in Alappuzha, the Consumerfed is all set to launch another mobile Triveni supermarket exclusively for the coastal region. The coastal supermarket is expected to hit the roads some time in April, and will move along the coastal highway and the side-roads that lead to the fishing villages on the Alappuzha coast, offering about 2,000 essential goods that will be sold at lower rates than in the market.



Consumerfed managing director Rigi G. Nair told The Hindu that the coastal supermarket would be the sixth mobile venture, including the floating Triveni. Already, a mobile Triveni was moving around the urban areas of Kollam district, while three mobile supermarkets, meant exclusively for the high ranges and hilly terrains, were catering to the needs of people in Idukki, Kasaragod and Wayanad districts, he said.



Encouraged by the success of the floating Triveni and the versions running on land, the Consumerfed were planning more such ventures, Mr. Nair said. He said the floating Triveni, which had 55 stops in seven panchayats of Kuttanad region, was recording sales of Rs.50,000 to Rs.60,000 a day.

Clash at Government Law College

KOCHI: Activists of the Kerala Students Union (KSU) and Students Federation of India (SFI) clashed on the Government Law College campus on Tuesday.



The incident occurred in connection with the State-wide strike organised by the KSU protesting against the attack against its member at St. Thomas College, Thrissur, on Monday.



KSU activists on the Law College campus here alleged that SFI activists tried to destroy their posters and placards set up at various spots highlighting the attack. SFI alleged that the KSU activists were responsible for the incident, as they tried to unleash violence on the campus in connection with the strike. A Police team led by S. Venu, Circle Inspector, Central Police Station, dispersed the students from the campus

Thilakan ready for talks

KOCHI: Thilakan, actor, has said he is ready for conditional talks with representatives of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) to resolve the disputes with the association. Mr. Thilakan said he had received a letter from AMMA asking him to appear before its disciplinary committee. But, he said, he needed to talk to a few persons before taking a final decision on this. Asked whether he would cooperate if Sukumar Azhikode, social critic, was the mediator, Mr. Thilakan said he was yet to take a decision in this regard.



The veteran actor had earlier alleged that a super star was responsible for his exit from �Christian Brothers,� director Joshie�s latest flick. AMMA had termed his allegations as baseless.



Ernakulam Collector visits site of proposed Kochi mobility hub

KOCHI: Giving an impetus to the proposed State-of-the-art bus terminal at Vytilla, District Collector M. Beena visited the project site on Monday.



The visit was a prelude to the first meeting of the Vytilla Mobility Society, formed by the State government with Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan as the chairman, at Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. District Collector is the managing director of the society.



The project was to set up a most modern mobility hub at Vytilla to avoid the entry of long distance buses to Kochi city, the State�s commercial and trade hub, the roads of which are even otherwise teeming with vehicles.



Preliminary steps for the start of work on the project, including the compilation of a detailed project report, would be launched as soon as possible, Dr. Beena said after the visit.



As of now, the plan is to execute the project using funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Reports on the project to that effect had already been submitted. However, till funds were available under JNNURM, the scope for finding other sources would be considered.



All these matters would be discussed at the forthcoming meeting, the Collector said.



The Collector then held detailed discussions with the revenue officials. The Public Works Department had already initiated steps to convert the road in the area into a four lane one. Thought had also been given to opening an entrance to the terminal through the area.



Special school awards presented

KOCHI: The contribution of special schools to society needs to be acknowledged as they provide support to the families which seriously need it, said Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy, after inaugurating the award presentation function organised by the All-Kerala Special Schools Association and Special Olympics Kerala here on Tuesday.





Mr. Chandy gave away the Best Special School Awards to Rahmaniya School for Mentally Handicapped, Kozhikode; Reach-Swasraya Special Child Development and Vocational Training Centre for Handicapped, Kuttur, Thrissur and Assisi Special School, Vellayanmkudy, Kattappana, Idukki.





All the three schools were identified for awards from three zones in the State on the basis of their overall performance in providing care and rehabilitation services for special children. The parameters include vocational training, achievements in co-curricular activities, sports, participation in special school festivals, teachers� qualification and dedication and rehabilitation activity to make children self-sufficient to the extent possible.





Awards were also given to three Best Special School Teachers.





Special school awards presented

KOCHI: The contribution of special schools to society needs to be acknowledged as they provide support to the families which seriously need it, said Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy, after inaugurating the award presentation function organised by the All-Kerala Special Schools Association and Special Olympics Kerala here on Tuesday.



Mr. Chandy gave away the Best Special School Awards to Rahmaniya School for Mentally Handicapped, Kozhikode; Reach-Swasraya Special Child Development and Vocational Training Centre for Handicapped, Kuttur, Thrissur and Assisi Special School, Vellayanmkudy, Kattappana, Idukki.



All the three schools were identified for awards from three zones in the State on the basis of their overall performance in providing care and rehabilitation services for special children. The parameters include vocational training, achievements in co-curricular activities, sports, participation in special school festivals, teachers� qualification and dedication and rehabilitation activity to make children self-sufficient to the extent possible.



Awards were also given to three Best Special School Teachers.



Air conditioners sell like hot cakes

KOCHI: As a blistering sun bakes the city and its occupants wilt under the sweltering heat, air conditioners are selling like hot cakes sending its dealers laughing all the way to the bank.



�There is almost a hundred per cent rise in the sale of air conditioners this year. We have sold almost double the units this January alone compared to last January,� said V.A. Ajmal, managing director of the Bismi, an outlet in the city dealing in electrical appliances.



And April when the summer peaks and the sale of air conditioners normally hit the roof is a full month away. M.A. Rafi, branch manager of Videocon heading operations in Kochi expects a substantial increase in sales during March. �We expect a projected sales growth of 30 to 40 per cent,� he said.



Air conditioners with one ton capacity are the most in demand. The average price of a one top-capacity air conditioner hovers in range of Rs. 16,000, that of a 1.5 ton Rs. 20,000 while the average price of a 0.80 ton one is in the range of Rs. 14,000. Along with the cost factor, the customers now weigh in the star rating of the air conditioner which denotes its power efficiency. �The urban customers here are fully aware of the star rating and gives it due importance along with the cost factor,� Mr. Rafi said.



Residents� council submits proposals to VS

KOCHI: The Ernakulam District Residents Association Apex Council (EDRAAC) will organise a development seminar in March, as a follow-up of the one recently held. The observations made for comprehensive and planned development of the city was presented to the Chief Minister last week.



A delegation comprising P. Rangadasa Prabhu, president and T.S. Madhavan, treasurer of EDRAAC, and M.T. Varghese, convener of the development seminar, presented the outline to the Chief Minister.



The representation has urged the State Government to conceive better coordination between different agencies involved in the developmental works of the city.



One of the key proposals made at the seminar, which was held at BTH here on December 19, was the formation of a Kochi Metropolitan District, comprising all the Greater Kochi area and modelled on other metro cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. There should be a centralised administrative system for the new district.



Subject experts and representatives of voluntary organisations should be made part of the governing body of the metro city.



The seminar also listed out lack of proper public transport facilities as a stumbling block in the development of the city.



Suggestions made in this regard included having a better public transport system by forming a corporate body representing all private bus operators, completion of the Vytilla bus terminal and improving the condition of roads.



It has also called for the metro rail, suburban train service connecting Kochi to nearby cities like Kottayam and Thrissur to take the load off the road and improving inland water transport.



Proper facilities for treating solid waste, better supply of drinking water and power and sustainable tourism models based on environment and heritage are other demands covered in the representation.



�Copies of the representation have been given to the District Collector, all the Ministers and MLAs from the district. The next seminar will discuss each of these sectors in detail,� said A. Ajith Kumar, acting general secretary of EDRAAC.



The representation urged the Chief Minister to convene a meeting of Union and State ministers as well as high-level officials to discuss the developmental proposal. The next seminar will be held along with the general body meeting of EDRAAC.



Flyover to be ready before end of April

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Minister for Public Works P.J. Joseph has said that work on the Bakery Junction flyover will be completed before April 30.





He was speaking at a review meeting of the City Road Improvement Project (CRIP) here on Tuesday. The meeting was held to discuss the progress of road improvement on all the stretches falling under the project.





A statement released here said that all work, including tarring, on the Kowdiar-Kuravankonam stretch would be completed before March 25. Work on the Kowdiar-Narmada road would be completed by March 20, while that on the Ambalamukku-Peroorkada road would be completed before May 15.





The statement said work on the Peroorkada-Vazhayila road, the KIMS bridge, the Chakka bridge and the Vellayambalam-Sasthamangalam stretch would be completed by May 30, April 30, May 31 and March end, respectively.





The meeting decided to consider giving alternative land in return for the land acquired from the Devaswom board for road improvement.


Flyover to be ready before end of April

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Minister for Public Works P.J. Joseph has said that work on the Bakery Junction flyover will be completed before April 30.



He was speaking at a review meeting of the City Road Improvement Project (CRIP) here on Tuesday. The meeting was held to discuss the progress of road improvement on all the stretches falling under the project.



A statement released here said that all work, including tarring, on the Kowdiar-Kuravankonam stretch would be completed before March 25. Work on the Kowdiar-Narmada road would be completed by March 20, while that on the Ambalamukku-Peroorkada road would be completed before May 15.



The statement said work on the Peroorkada-Vazhayila road, the KIMS bridge, the Chakka bridge and the Vellayambalam-Sasthamangalam stretch would be completed by May 30, April 30, May 31 and March end, respectively.



The meeting decided to consider giving alternative land in return for the land acquired from the Devaswom board for road improvement.

Tender rate for civil works revised

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has revised the tender rate for the civil works executed under the aegis of local self-government institutions from February 22.



Local Administration Minister Paloli Mohammed Kutty said in a release here on Tuesday that a 20 per cent increase had been granted in the tender rate for the construction of buildings, bridges and 10 per cent for construction of roads, solid waste management, drinking water supply and sanitary works. A 15 per cent increase had been sanctioned for digging wells, overhead tanks and electrical works in buildings.



The decision has been made on the basis of the recommendations of the committee which looked into the need for granting tender excess for civil works.



Awards instituted

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government has instituted awards for engineers of the Public Works Department who have put in exemplary service.



The awards will be given for the categories of Assistant Engineer, Assistant Executive Engineer and Executive Engineer.



The engineers who wish to be considered for the award should submit applications in the prescribed form with the recommendation of the immediate superior to the administrative wing engineer before May 31.



The awards, which comprise a cash prize of Rs.10,000 and a citation, will be distributed on Engineers� Day on September 15.



The details are available on the department web site and the Information and Public Relations Department web site www.prd.kerala.gov.in



NoRKs to take out Assembly march

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Pradesh Pravasi Returnees� Congress will march to the Assembly on Wednesday demanding that the government rectify the anomalies in the Kerala Pravasi Welfare Fund.



The organisation�s demands included membership for all non-resident Keralites (NoRKs) in the welfare fund with no restriction on age, pension for all NoRKs over 60 years of age who had returned home, make government�s share in the welfare fund equal to that of members� share and free registration in welfare fund for all returnees.



Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala will inaugurate the march, State president of the organisation Isaac Thomas said at a press conference here on Tuesday.



Medicinal plant cultivation to get a fillip

Thiruvananthapuram: Minister for Agriculture Mullakkara Ratnakaran has said that the government has finalised a multi-pronged strategy to promote cultivation of medicinal plants.



He was inaugurating a one-day workshop on �Medicinal plants as industrial crops in the hands of cultivators,� organised by Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) and the Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station, here on Tuesday.



Mr. Ratnakaran said a pilot project to promote homestead cultivation of medicinal plants would be launched across the State in the year 2010-11.



Russian photo exhibition

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In connection with the �Fatherland\'s Defence Day\' in Russia, an exhibition of photographs including those relating to the nation\'s history, developments in military technology, new generation aircraft and submarines was inaugurated at the Roerich Art Gallery of the Russian Cultural Centrehere on Tuesday



The exhibition was inaugurated by assistant military attach� at the Russian embassy in New Delhi Veleriy Zavialov. The exhibition would be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. till February 25, a press note issued here said.



NSS technical education meet

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The annual State-level meeting of the National Service Scheme of the Technical Education Department will be held at the Mohandas College of Engineering, Anad, near Nedumangad, on February 27.



The awards for the best institutions and workers will be presented at the function

Ex-servicemen warn of boycott

KOZHIKODE: Ex-servicemen have threatened to boycott Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) telephones and its broadband connections in protest against the reported move to dismiss all ex-servicemen on the BSNL payroll.



Haridas Pulpatta, working president of the Indian National Trade Union Congress-led Kerala State Ex-servicemen Industrial Workers� Confederation, alleged here on Tuesday that the dismissal of ex-servicemen was aimed at filling the vacancies with relatives of BSNL officials.



In just two years from 2007, the company had terminated the services of a large number of ex-servicemen. By the end of 2011, almost all of them would be fired, Mr. Pulpatta alleged in a statement.



Kerala power board plans to develop 5 small hydel projects

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) on Tuesday announced its plans to develop five small hydro electric projects as carbon credit projects under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In a statement here, the power board said it proposed to utilise the financial assistance extended by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for small hydel projects in addition to getting the registration of the UNFCCC for carbon credit projects.



Two found hanging

PATHANAMTHITTA: A 16-year-old girl of Prakkanam, near here, and a 19-year-old youth of Lakkoor were found hanging from the roof of the girl�s bedroom on Tuesday morning. The police suspect them to have committed suicide. The Pathanamthitta police have registered a case.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New initiative for people, earth

Kozhikode: A pre-launch ceremony to explain the details and objectives of �Rahma,� a project put forth by philanthropists and community leaders to address issues concerning people and the Earth, will be held at the Tagore Hall here on Monday.



�Mercy to all being� is the motto of the initiative, which aims to address concerns of society cutting across religious barriers.



According to the organisers, the initiative, besides other things, intends to make use of the vivid possibilities of information technology to serve society and put it back on a value-based platform as the world was driven by a consumerist culture.



The project aims to provide three services, including information technology-enabled social services, palliative care and utilisation of manpower for productive purposes, including environmental conservation. Nearly 1,000 invited delegates from different walks of life will attendthe function.



Panakkad Syed Munawarali Shihab Thangal will preside. Leaders representing various religious denominations will attend the event.



RBI mass contact programme to be held tomorrow

KOZHIKODE: A mass contact programme being organised as part of the platinum jubilee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will be held at Perumanpura in Perumanna grama panchayat on Tuesday, RBI regional director S. Ramaswami has said in a press release.



The programme will be inaugurated by U.C. Raman, MLA.



District Collector P.B. Salim, people�s representatives and heads and officers of various government bodies are expected to participate.



Medical post graduates� appeal

Kozhikode: The Kerala Medical Post Graduates Association has called on the government to desist from backdoor appointment of M.Sc graduates to teaching positions in government medical colleges as it will affect the quality of education. The association, in a statement here on Sunday, reminded the government of its own service rules issued in 2008, where in MBBS degree was made the basic qualification to teach at medical colleges.

New date for exam

KOZHIKODE: The B.Ed. first semester regular/supplementary examination under the University of Calicut that was scheduled for February 18 will now be held on March 3. The third year B.Pharm. examinations will begin on March 12.

Focus on heritage value of Kollengode

PALAKKAD: The Geo-Heritage Archaeological Research Centre here has proposed that the State Tourism Department make Kollengode a heritage village.



Director of the centre V. Sanal Kumar, in his proposal to the government, said research has identified a large number of archaeological sites in and around Kollengode.



The findings include Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Megalithic and early historical sites and artefacts. They also comprise rock engravings, stone inscriptions, sculptures, hero stones, ruined shrines and so on from various periods.



Prehistoric sites such as nearly 50 natural rock shelters and caves in mountain valleys with streams and along river valleys with archaeological and anthropological potential have been identified. Neolithic and Megalithic habitation sites with artefacts have also been discovered.



The tribal groups of the area, which can be traced back to the Megalithic period, still talk in primitive dialects.



Ranni Hindu meet begins

PATHANAMTHITTA: The 64th Hindu religious meet, organised by the Travancore Hindu Dharma Parishad (THDP), got off to a traditional start on the sand-bed of the Pampa at Ranni on Sunday.



Swami Visveswara Thirtha, head of Pejawar Math in Udupi in Karnataka, inaugurated the week-long religious meet.



The former Union Minister O. Rajagopal presided over the inaugural function.



T.P. Sasikumar, scientist attached to Indian Space Research Organisation, was the guest of honour.



Kummanam Rajashekharan, Hindu Aikyavedi general secretary, P.S. Nair, Travancore Development Council chairman and P.N. Neelakantan Namboodiri, THDP president, also spoke.



The week-long religious convention will conclude on February 28.



Traditional dance forms hog the limelight

Thrissur: Traditional dances forms from various States were presented at �Ektha Awaaz\', a National Folk Dance Festival. Young artistes from Assam, Punjab, Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala performed at the festival organised by Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangethan Kerala Zone, at Thekkinkad Maidan, here, on Sunday.



The festival opened with Ranapa dance from Orissa. Ranapa is a tribal dance form prevalent in Ganjam district of the State. The artistes dance on stilts accompanied by �dhols\' and wind instruments.



Another crowd-puller was Garba dance, a popular dance form performed by women from Gujarat during Navarathri. Badaga tribes from Ooty and dancers from Barmer district of Rajasthan also performed at the festival.



�Karinkali\', the folk dance form from Kerala, �Parayattam\' performed by artistes of Kanjeepuram, �Kolattam\' from Mandya district of Karnataka and �Kuchippudi\' by Andhra Pradesh dancers also enthralled the audience.



Awards for the best youth club, instituted by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, were presented to the Souparnika Arts and Sports Club, Thiruvambadi, Calicut. Therambil Ramakrishnan, MLA, inaugurated the function. Mayor R. Bindu, Rajaji Mathew Thomas, MLA, and M. K. Valsala of Nehru Yuva Kedra, Thrissur, participated.



Hundreds attend temple ritual



PATHANAMTHITTA: Hundreds of devotees visited Bhagavathy Temple at Ezhamkulam, near Adoor, on Sunday to watch the Thookkom vazhipadu held as part of the annual Bharani festival in the Malayalam month of Kumbhom.



The ritual began at the temple at 6.30 a.m. Devaswom authorities said 634 Thookkom vazhipadu had been registered at the Devaswom office and the ritual was likely to be completed by Monday afternoon.



A splendid display of decorated chariots was also held on Saturday.



Centenary celebrations of Sanskrit Sansthan begin

Inaugurating the celebrations, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran stressed the importance of popularising Sanskrit.



�The contributions of those like P.T. Kuriakose, founder of the Guruvayur campus of the Sansthan at Pavaratty, to the State�s cultural world is immense. They understood the importance of preserving Sanskrit, a language that opens a window to India�s heritage and culture,� he said.



Radhavallabh Tripathi, Vice-Chancellor of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan Deemed University, New Delhi, presided over the function.



Therambil Ramakrishnan, Murali Perunelly, K.V. Abdul Khader and Babu Palissery, MLAs; and Vice-Chancellor of the Indira Gandhi National Open University V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai were present at the function.



The three-day centernary celebrations include memorial lecture series, seminars, poets� meets and alumni get-together.



Six Vidyapeeths function under the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan based in New Delhi.



The Vidyapeeth in Orissa was the first to celebrate its centenary and the Guruvayur campus of the Sasthan is the second.



Lead a life of compassion, peace: Metropolitan

PATHANAMTHITTA: Joseph Mar Thoma, Metropolitan of Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, said here on Sunday that the rising incidence of suicides was due to the fact that today�s youth failed to understand the meaning of life.



The Mar Thoma Metropolitan was delivering the valedictory message at the 115th Maramon Convention, which concluded on Sunday at its traditional venue of the Pampa river-bed.



�Man has no right to destroy God-given life and he should face the challenges and threats in life by keeping faith in God,� the Metropolitan said.



Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma said an insight into life was necessary to accept the varied experiences and man should have a definite idea of social life.



Panacea to social ills

Student hospitalised

Thrissur: Alwin Thomas, secretary of Kerala Students� Union, at St. Thomas College was admitted with facial injuries to a private hospital here on Sunday after he was assaulted by suspected activists of the Students� Federation of India. SFI-KSU clashes were reported from the college in the past week. The KSU said it would organise a strike in colleges across the district in protest against the assault

Light of Medina� begins

MALAPPURAM: The Madinu Ssaquafathil Islamiyya, on Sunday, kicked off a three-day campaign, titled �Light of Medina,� here, ahead of its Milad-e-Sharif programme to be held on Wednesday.



All-India Jamiyyathul Ulama general secretary Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musliar hoisted the flag on the Madin campus. Ahmed Kamil Husain Darvish, Hadith scholar from Egypt, led a class on �Prophet and me.� He called upon people to turn to the Prophet for solace and enlightenment. Usama Sayed Mahmood Al Azhari and Shaikh Jamal Farooque from Egypt, Shaikh Abdul Jaleel Al Athah from Syria and Madin Chairman Sayed Ibrahim Khaleel Bukhari were present.



A film festival that focussed on art, literature

MALAPPURAM: The 71st International Film Festival of Malappuram (IFFM) came to an end here on Sunday night with the screening of Nick Broomfield�s Battle for Haditha. Nineteen films of international repute were screened during the three-day festival.



Addressing the valedictory function held in the courtyard of the Naveen Theatre here on Sunday evening, Kerala State Chalachitra Academy Chairman K.R. Mohanan and filmmaker Madhu Kaithapram called upon the people to delve deep into the �stark realities of human life.�



Mr. Mohanan said that promotion of films with good stories was the best way to ensure propagation of good films in any language. He hinted that the film viewers too had a serious responsibility in the promotion of good films. Mr. Kaithapram said that those living in a fanciful world would not be able to fathom the depths of the realities depicted in some films.



MP submits list of demands to Mamata

Kozhikode: With the Railway budget presentation scheduled for Wednesday, M.K. Raghavan, MP, has submitted a memorandum to Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee reminding her of the promise in the last budget to modernise facilities at the Kozhikode Railway Station and raise it to international standards.



In a press release from New Delhi, Mr. Raghavan said he had highlighted the need for more trains through Malabar, specifically through Kozhikode.



Prominent among the list of demands made by him was the starting of another Jan Shatabdi Express between Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, starting from here in the morning. Mr. Raghavan also asked for a two-way intercity train between Kozhikode and Coimbatore and another one between Kozhikode and Mangalore.



Pit lane

Successful trial run on Kollam-Punalur track

KOLLAM: The engineering work of the gauge conversion on the 45-km long Kollam-Punalur railway section has been technically completed. A trial run on Sunday, using a diesel engine, through the newly laid track has been termed a success. The development gives rise to hopes that the line will be commissioned by April end.



All along the sides of the track there was jubilation as people gathered to welcome the engine and the technical staff travelling in it. In order to facilitate the gauge conversion work, all train services on the Punalur-Kollam section were withdrawn from May 1, 2007.



The trial engine, which left Kollam at 11 a.m. on Sunday, travelled at 30 to 40 kmph stopping at the crossing stations of Kundara, Kottarakara and Avaneeshwaram to reach Punalur by 1 p.m. In view of the trial run, employees were deputed at all the 15 level crossings along the route as a safety measure, said Kollam Railway Station Manager A. Tasitus.



The trial run is a formality to assess the condition of the tracks prior to the inspection by the Railway Safety Commissioner.



In the return journey, the engine travelled at 30 to 60 kmph and at one course even travelled at 66 kmph and reached Kollam in one hour and five minutes.

AMMA imposing military rule, says Azhikode

KOLLAM: Social critic Sukumar Azhikode has said that solving problems between members is the prime duty of an organisation.



He was reacting to queries by mediapersons on the showdown between actor Thilakan and the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA).



Dr. Azhikode said that in Thilakan�s issue, AMMA was trying to impose a military rule of sorts.



�Artistes are independent people and they cannot be subjected to any disciplinary action. It will be like the Sahithya Akademi directing writers not in its good books to stop writing,� he said.



KGOA district conference

KOLLAM: The 29th district conference of the Kerala Gazetted Officers Association (KGOA) began here on Sunday. The annual report was presented by district secretary V. Vinayan at the district council meeting. State secretary of KGOA T.K. Subash and State treasurer T.S. Reghulal spoke. The conference will be formally inaugurated on Monday by all-India vice-president of CITU V.J.K. Nair.

Plea on revising bus fares

KOCHI: The Kerala State Consumer Welfare Organisation has demanded that regional-level sittings be organised before revising bus fares in the State, to discuss anomalies in fare stage and fixation of minimum fare.�Staff Reporter

Highway authority okays shifting of parking area, toll plaza

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has said it is ready to shift the truck parking area from Kanjiramkulam village and the toll plaza from Chenkal village if alternate land is made available.



The NHAI has come up with the offer following the intervention of Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and George Mercier, MLA, in the wake of protests from residents of the two localities.



The NHAI Project Director said in a press release that they were temporarily withholding the notification under the NH Act to acquire land.



About 13 acres of land is needed for setting up the truck parking area and another 6 acres for the toll plaza.



No EFL status for taluks: Rajendran

Thiruvananthapuram: Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran has denied news reports that the State government will declare Devikulam, Udumbanchola and Peerumade taluks in Idukki district as ecologically fragile areas.



In a statement here on Sunday, Mr. Rajendran termed �baseless propaganda� the news reports that the government had made a statement to that effect in an affidavit before the High Court. He said the government had merely submitted an affidavit before the High Court on the various steps it had taken against encroachments in Munnar.



�There is no reference to such a decision in the affidavit. The government has so far taken favourable steps to sort out the problems faced by high range farmers, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in Idukki and small merchants in Munnar,� he said.



Database on schools to be ready soon

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The General Education Department has taken up a massive data capturing programme for creating a comprehensive database of high schools and higher secondary schools in the State.



The project has been taken up under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), a sequel to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The nation-wide scheme covering classes IX, X, XI and XII, aims at ensuring universal access and quality in secondary education.



Following the directive of the Centre regarding the national-level implementation of the scheme, the State government had directed Principals and Headmasters of all recognised higher secondary and high schools in the State, including CBSE and ICSE schools, to compile data regarding their respective institutions for creating the Secondary Education Management Information System (SEMIS), an online database for planning and tracking the physical progress of RMSA project.

Santhigiri yatras reach capital

Thiruvananthapuram: �Kumbhaghoshayathra\' processions from different parts of South India converged on the city on Sunday, heralding the �Poojitha Peeddom Samarpanam-9 \' celebrations at the Santhigiri Ashram on Monday.



Revered tradition



The celebrations are held to highlight the importance of the �Guru-Sishya\' tradition in spirituality. It marks the spiritual attainment of Sishyapoojitha Amritha Jnana Thapaswini, present spiritual head of the Santhigiri Ashram and the foremost disciple of the Ashram\'s founder, Karunakara Guru. The Ashram\'s half-yearly Kumbhamela will be held on Monday.



The �Kumbhaghoshayathra\' processions � from Bangalore, Coimbatore, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Sulthan Bathery, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kumili, Kallar, Kottayam and Palakkad � converged at the Gandhi Park, East Fort, on Sunday evening.



Minister for Food and Civil Supplies C. Divakaran, V. Sivankutty, MLA, former MP Varkala Radhakrishnan, BJP district president Karmana Jayan and a large number of ashram devotees were present on the occasion.

Probe sought into death of school student in accident

Thiruvananthapuram: V. Sivankutty, MLA, has urged the State government to institute an inquiry into the death of a student of St. Mary�s School, Pattom, who was run over by a bus.



In a press note here on Sunday, he appealed to the authorities for stern steps to curb the reckless driving and violation of traffic laws by the drivers of private buses.



The MLA said the death of the student, Eby Vijayan, was the latest in a series of such accidents.



Erring drivers had been responsible for the death of several persons in the recent past and injuries caused to others.



�In the mad race to get ahead of the competition and increase revenue, private buses often refuse to let students aboard, skip bus stops near educational institutions and take off when students are boarding the buses. Such tendencies can be curbed only by deploying policemen in front of schools,� the MLA said.



Highway authority okays shifting of parking area, toll plaza

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has said it is ready to shift the truck parking area from Kanjiramkulam village and the toll plaza from Chenkal village if alternate land is made available.



The NHAI has come up with the offer following the intervention of Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and George Mercier, MLA, in the wake of protests from residents of the two localities.



The NHAI Project Director said in a press release that they were temporarily withholding the notification under the NH Act to acquire land.



About 13 acres of land is needed for setting up the truck parking area and another 6 acres for the toll plaza.



Health hazard

The place from where long-haul bus services used to operate at the Thampanoor bus station of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation is now in a pathetic state. Though near the canteen of the corporation, the place is used by people to relieve themselves, filling the place with a foul smell and posing a health hazard. The authorities should take action to end the menace and security personnel should be deployed there.

Health hazard

The place from where long-haul bus services used to operate at the Thampanoor bus station of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation is now in a pathetic state. Though near the canteen of the corporation, the place is used by people to relieve themselves, filling the place with a foul smell and posing a health hazard. The authorities should take action to end the menace and security personnel should be deployed there.

Health hazard

The place from where long-haul bus services used to operate at the Thampanoor bus station of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation is now in a pathetic state. Though near the canteen of the corporation, the place is used by people to relieve themselves, filling the place with a foul smell and posing a health hazard. The authorities should take action to end the menace and security personnel should be deployed there.

Aid handed over to students

Padana Mantra, a student welfare organisation operating with the objective of improving the quality of education, has handed over financial aid to the students of Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Aluva, as its first programme this year. K.V. Gopalakrishnan and Jojo George Puthanangady handed over the fund to the school principal Bjyu Antony. Among the sponsors of Padana Mantra are The Hindu, Some Where Else, Tata Docomo, Uncle John\'s, Pizza Hut, Lawrence and Mayo and SN Study Centre.



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