Saturday, March 6, 2010

ISRO conducts GSLV Mk III launch test

BANGALORE: Indian Space Research Organisation conducted the static test of its liquid core stage (L110) of GSLV Mk III launch vehicle for 150 seconds at its Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) test facility at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu.

While Fridays test was originally targeted for 200 seconds, it was stopped at 150 seconds since a deviation in one of the parameters was observed, the space agency, which has its headquarters here, said in a statement.

About 500 important parameters were monitored during the static test. The next static test for 200 seconds will be conducted after analysis of this data, it said.

GSLV Mk III launch vehicle is being developed for launching four tonne class of satellites in Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

Measuring 17 metres in length and four metres in diameter, L110 is an earth storable liquid propellant stage with a propellant loading of 110 tonnes.

L110 stage uses two high-pressure Vikas engines in a clustered configuration and draws its heritage from the second stage of PSLV and GSLV and strap-ons of GSLV.

While in PSLV and GSLV, the liquid stage with single engine configuration burns for 150 seconds, the GSLV-MkIII requires burning for 200 seconds in a twin engine configuration, it was noted.

Surveillance cameras to be put up at Thodupuzha

KATTAPPANA: The police will soon install surveillance cameras at busy junctions in Thodupuzha to monitor travellers and vehicles passing through the town.The decision was taken following the increase in the number of robbery cases and atrocities against women and the culprits often escaping in vehicles. The cameras will also help in identifying vehicles violating traffic rules and road safety measures. However, the main purpose of installing the cameras is to collect evidence on culprits and anti-social elements, Thodupuzha DySP K.G. Simon saidCameras will be installed at KSRTC Junction, Gandhi Square and Telephone Exchange Junction.Simon said that directions had been issued to give training to drivers in adhering to traffic rules like wearing helmets and seat belts. Mr. Simon said that as per the DGPs direction, five Sub-Inspectors and Circle Inspectors will engage in vehicle checking at different spots in the town limit.The police had earlier deputed traffic wardens in busy junctions in the town. Also, autorickshaw drivers had been asked to wear identity cards issued by the police.

Inaugural run of Duronto tomorrow

KOCHI: The Ernakulam-New Delhi weekly Duronto Express train announced in the 2009-10 Railway budget would have its inaugural run from here on Sunday morning.The coaches covered with vinyl wrapper have yellow and green graphics over them. The brand-new coaches arrived here a few days ago. The train will return to Ernakulam on March 13. The regular service of the non-stop train from Ernakulam through Konkan will be from March 16.�The train has a First AC coach with 24 berths and a Second AC coach with 54 berths. The four Third AC coaches can together accommodate 288 passengers, while the eight second class sleeper coaches can house a total of 640 passengers. There would also be two sitting cum luggage vans and a pantry car,� said the Ernakulam Area Manager George John.It would be a new experience for passengers to travel in the non-stop train which has better-designed and lengthier coaches with wide windows. The stainless steel coaches built at the Kapurthala coach factory can accommodate 72 passengers in AC 3 tier, unlike regular coaches that hold 64 people. Similarly, the second-class sleeper coaches have 80 berths, as compared to 72 in regular coaches.Under the modified design, the toilet waste is discharged onto tracks only after the train attains a minimum speed (around 35 kms per hour), thus ensuring the cleanliness of tracks in railway stations

Call for energy-efficient buildings

.KOCHI: Incorporating energy-efficiency measures in buildings has the potential to save up to 50 per cent energy, since buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions. For existing buildings, the savings potential through alterations and energy-efficient fittings is between 20 and 25 per cent. Even non air-conditioned buildings can go green, by making optimal use of wind and daylight and by adopting other environment-friendly measures. These were stated at �Go Green � a seminar-cum-exhibition on green buildings, organized here on Friday by the Rotary Club of Thripunithura and KREEPA, as part of their Akshaya Vikas Project. Making a presentation, Siva Kishan, chief executive officer of GRIHA � Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (which is the national rating system for green buildings), said the Energy Conservation Building Code regulates the usage of power in new buildings. �Green-rating mechanisms have been able to sensitize the construction industry to the benefits of integrated design and resource efficiency, from both the economic and environmental perspective. A rating system for India must respond to the countrys diversity and help develop sensible solutions relevant to different building projects.�

Check-dam: status quo order extended

KOCHI: A Green Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday extended by one month the status quo ordered with respect to the two check- dams built by Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company on its Letchmi and Chanduvurrai estates. The Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice P.R. Raman and Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair, also adjourned by two weeks the hearing on the writ petitions filed by the company challenging the show-cause notices asking it to demolish the check-dams. Earlier, a single judge had referred the writ petitions to the Green Bench. The company had contended that the District Collector did not have any power to issue the notices. Acting on another petition of the company, the Bench directed the government to consider and pass orders on an application seeking to construct latrines for the houses occupied by its employees. The orders should be passed after conducting due inspection at the site.

Mixed reaction from merchants

KOCHI: The State budget presented yesterday by Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has evoked positive as well as negative reactions from merchants. Most of the suggestions have received supporting and opposing opinions. The Ernakulam Merchants Union president Leo Paul has said that the State budget does not provide any scheme to support the traders. The State could have given up the additional revenue from the recent increase in diesel and petrol prices in a bid to control prices and thus improve the trade sector. The Kerala Merchants Union welcomed the proposals such as extension provided to one-time settlement of KGST, modernisation of checkposts, online registration for sales tax registration and reduction in stamp duty rates

New agency to run waste plant

KOCHI: The Corporation decided to give the charge of operation and maintenance of the solid waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram to the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), amidst protests from the opposition bench. Following the protest, Mayor Mercy Williams put the issue to vote. The council decided to approve the agenda by 37 votes against 23.Initiating the discussion on the topic, Opposition leader A.B. Sabu said that the decision to award the contract to CED was made without following proper procedure. It is learnt that the agency was selected on the basis of a recommendation from a ministers office, he said. In her reply,. Williams said that CED is one among the nine agencies certified as Centre for Excellence on Urban Development by the Union Government and it has been selected as the implementing agency for solid waste management programmes taken up by local administration bodies in the State.

Thilakan replaced with Hindi actor

Hindi actor Rajath Kapoor has replaced Thilakan in the international project Dam 999 directed by Sohan Roy. Rajath has already started shooting for the movie, which tells about the lives of nine persons living in the premises of a Dam, during British India.

Meanwhile, director Sohan Roy has personally intimated Thilakan who is staying in the hotel with the crew, about the replacement. But Thilakan who asks for the compensation also demanded the reasons for his removal from the movie in written form. I just want to make this incident a part of Mollywood movie history and that is why I am insisting for a written statement and compensation said Thilakan.

The director Sohan Roy has said it was a very sad decision from their part which was forced upon us by the Malayalam film industry associations. Anyhow we have decided to pay the hotel rent of the actor, for any number of days he wants to stay with the crew.

India out of semi-finals contention, lose 2-3 to England

NEW DELHI: India\'s marginal hopes of entering the semi-finals of the hockey World Cup went up in smoke as England thrashed the home team 3-2 to secure their place in the last-four stage of the mega-event on Saturday.

The defeat not only saw India go out of contention for the semi-final race but the hosts also registered their third straight loss in the tournament after having bruised an equally unimpressive Pakistan 4-1 in their tournament opener.

With four wins from as many matches, England are through to the last-four stage of the tournament and will take on Spain in their inconsequential last pool match on Monday, while India will play South Africa.

Ashley Jackson (42nd and 47th minutes) and James Tindall (16th) of England continued their good show in the tournament, while Gurvinder Singh Chandi (54th) and captain Rajpal Singh (58th) scored for India at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

India lacked the hunger for victory after their back-to-back defeats and looked like a club side in front of their home crowd, committing numerous errors in the all departments of the game.

Two killed as lorry runs into labourers� assembly

VELLARADA: Two women were killed and six injured when a mini lorry lost control and ran into a labourers assembly at Kiliyoor near here at 5.30 pm on Saturday.

The deceased were identified as Susheela (49) and Shantha (maria-65). Susheela is the wife of Vijayan, the state general secretary of building constructing labourers� union (KSTUG). Susheela died on the spot while Shantha died at medical college hospital while undergoing surgery. Susheela has three children�Bipil, Binu and Akhila.

Those six injured are driver Shibu (27), Prathapan (42), Mary (60), Asha (29), Sheeja (30) and Girija (35). They are admitted in medical college hospital.

The incident happened when the Grama Panchayat Secretary Selvaraj was delivering the speech witnessed by over 200 people at 5.30 in the evening.

The police and fire force entered into rescue operations

Support for women's quota bill grows

NEW DELHI: After 13 years in hibernation, the prospects of passage of the controversial womens reservation bill on Saturday brightened with sharp divisions coming to the fore among one of the main the opponents of the measure--JD (U--as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar declared his support.

DMK, National Conference and Akali Dal, together accounting for nine MPs in Rajya Sabha, today also pledged their backing to the Constitution amendment bill, which has been put up in the business schedule of the Upper House on Monday, placing the government in a comfortable position in the game of numbers.

Kumars support came as a bolt from the blue for his party chief Sharad Yadav, a strong opponent of the bill since 1997 when it was first introduced, who said the party was still opposed to it. JD-U has seven MPs in Rajya Sabha and 20 in the Lok Sabha.

As it is a Constitution amendment bill, its passage requires a special majority of two-third backing of at least 155 members in a House 245 with an effective strength of 233.

The government has the clear support of 138 members of Congress, BJP and Left parties besides that of a number of small parties, which takes the backing to more than 165.

Kumar, who had given a dissent note opposing the Bill in the mid-nineties, today said the time has now given for passage of the bill and it would not be good to block it.

"When I was a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, I had given a dissent note (more than a decade ago). Now the time has come to give women reservation in Parliament and State Assemblies. I will talk to Sharadji and appeal to him to ensure passage of the bill,\" told reporters in Patna. 

Kumar said that it would be good if the government accepts the demand for introducing quota within quota but it would not be appropriate to block the bill on the issue.

"Ideally, women of extremely backward and backward castes should be provided reservation in both Parliament and Assembly. We will keep our efforts on for getting it,\" he added.

Fillip to Cusat

KOCHI: An amount of Rs 10 crore has been allocated to Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) in the state budget 2010-11. Apart from this, Rs 2 crore has been set apart for the computerisation of the examination wings following the introduction of credit and semester system. Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has also enhanced the outlay for technical education from Rs 50 crore to Rs 65 crore.

The inter-university centres of Cusat, namely Centre for Intellectual Property Rights, Nano Sciences and Marine Biology Centre will have autonomy to mobilise funds.

I am Sura, not Pura: Vijay

Vijay and punch dialogues have become two sides of a coin. His 50th film Sura, directed by S P Rajakumar of En Purushan Kuzhandhai Madhiri and Azhagar Malai fame, too has a handful of powerful one liners, we learn.

As per reports, in one punch dialogue the actor says, Samadhanama poga nan pura illa da...Sura which, if roughly translated, means I am not a dove to prefer peace, I am a shark.\"

Sura has many other similar one liners, sources say. Vijay plays a fisherman in the film which is being shot in Puducherry, Visakhapatnam and Cochin.

Vadivelu is taking care of the comedy part while Tamannah plays a college student who falls for Vijay. Produced by Sangili Murugan (the producer of Kadhalukku Mariyadhai), Sura will be released by Sun Pictures.

Sun TV launches FM radio station in Gangtok

Sun TV Network has launched FM radio station in Gangtok (Sikkim) under the `Red FM` brand through its subsidiary, South Asia FM.

FM station can be tuned at 93.5 MHz frequency in Gangtok. The programs will cater to audiences of all age groups.

With this launch, the total operational FM stations under Red FM brand are 44. These are in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Visakhapatnam, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Tirupati, Madurai, Tuticorin, Lucknow, Bhopal, Pondicherry, Kozhikode (Calicut), Indore, Vijayawada, Varanasi, Tiruchy, Rajahmundry, Kanpur, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Mangalore, Kannur, Allahabad, Jabalpur, Mysore, Guwahati, Jamshedpur, Nashik, Vadodara, Rajkot, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad, Warangal, Nagpur, Kochi, Gulbarga, Asansol, Shillong, Pune and Siliguri.

Shares of the company gained Rs 27.8, or 7.22%, to settle at Rs 413.10. The total volume of shares traded was 255,631 at the BSE (Friday).

The story of Sura!

Vijays �Sura� has started making news. The first promotional stills are out and being a Sun Pictures release you can expect fireworks before the official release.

�Sura� is directed by S P Rajkumar who was the dialogue writer of the film �Oncemore� in which Vijay acted with Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan. Vijay offered �Sura� to SP Rajkumar out of the friendship developed since those days. Another big thing in �Sura� is the producer Sangili Murugan. Sangili Murugan is the one who made �Kadhalukku Mariyathai� which was a turning point in Vijay�s career. �Sura� was shot in places like Pondicherry, Cuddalore, Hyderabad, Thoothukudi and Kochi suggesting a coastal feel.

Vijay is happy to see the film shot so far and feels it has come out better than expected. The film has conveyed the political aspirations of Vijay in a mild acceptable way. So what is the story of �Sura�?

The story is about the power of youth. Usually most of the youth wants to play safe when they see atrocities happen in front of them. They feel insecure and tries to escape out of the situation fearing many factors. But Vijay having all the courage tries to put things right by using all right means including politics. But when all fail he becomes a one man army to weed out social crimes without fearing for anything just like a shark would hunt its prey alone. With sufficient political overtones �Sura� will also have its share of punch dialogues.

The �Sura� team is currently in Ooty to picturise songs on Vijay and Tamannah. Later they will go to United States for shooting two more songs. �Sura� is planned for release on May 10 during the summer holidays

Indian Navy, Coast Guard avert pirate threat to merchant vessel

Kochi, March 6 : Prompt action by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard Saturday averted what could have been a pirate threat to a merchant vessel bound for Orissas Paradip port.

\"The reported threat to MV Melina I has been averted and the master of the vessel has now intimated that the vessel is safe. However, the Indian Navy ship INS Sujata intends to escort her to safe waters,\" a defence ministry statement said.

At about 6 a. m., the master of the vessel had reported sighting about four skiffs approaching his vessel and sought assistance.

The Southern Naval Command immediately deployed INS Sujata, a large patrol craft, with an armed helicopter and marine commandos on board \"to effectively deal with any emergent situation\", the statement said.

The Coast Guard vessel CGS Annie Besant, a fast patrol vessel, and a Dornier aircraft were also dispatched to render assistance, the statement added.

Defence ministry sources said the incident occurred off the Lakshwadeep Islands, an indication that the pirates could be shifting their area of operations. Pirate attacks have hitherto occurred near the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.

These areas are now patrolled by warships of various nations, including India.

Inauguration of ICG Complex at Vizhinjam

At an impressive ceremony on 06 Mar 2010, the new Coast Guard Administrative Complex at Vizhinjam, was inaugurated by Shri AK Antony, Honble Raksha Mantri, in the presence of Shri M Vijayakumar, Hon�ble Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Govt. of Kerala, Shri George Mercier, MLA Kovalam, and Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, AVSM, Director General Indian Coast Guard. Apart from the officers and men of the Indian Coast Guard, the ceremony was also attended by representatives of various Central and State Govt. bodies, and the media.

While lauding the efforts of the Coast Guard, the Hon�ble Raksha Mantri stated that �Coastal Security� requires sustained and dedicated effort from all the stake holders. He stated that all acquisition projects in respect of the Indian Coast Guard were being processed on fast track basis by the Government, leaving no stone unturned in protecting our maritime interests, and the threat emanating from the seas. He indicated that all necessary funds have been sanctioned to the Coast Guard for new acquisitions.

In his welcome address, the Director General Indian Coast Guard, highlighted the strategic importance of the state of Kerala and stated that the Coast Guard had achieved considerable progress in acquisition of assets and infrastructure development, for addressing the security gaps along the coastline. He further stated that a Coast Guard Air Enclave at Kochi is planned to be set-up in near future, for augmenting the aerial surveillance capabilities of the Coast Guard in the state.

The new office complex inaugurated by Shri AK Antony, comprises of four buildings constructed by the Military Engineering Service, and accommodates both the Administrative Complex, as well as living accommodation for men. The state-of-the-art Administrative complex encompasses an Operations Centre, Communication Station, Conference Hall, Parade Ground and outdoor sports facilities

Sun TV launches FM radio station in Gangtok

Sun TV Network has launched FM radio station in Gangtok (Sikkim) under the `Red FM` brand through its subsidiary, South Asia FM.

FM station can be tuned at 93.5 MHz frequency in Gangtok. The programs will cater to audiences of all age groups.

With this launch, the total operational FM stations under Red FM brand are 44. These are in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Visakhapatnam, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Tirupati, Madurai, Tuticorin, Lucknow, Bhopal, Pondicherry, Kozhikode (Calicut), Indore, Vijayawada, Varanasi, Tiruchy, Rajahmundry, Kanpur, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Mangalore, Kannur, Allahabad, Jabalpur, Mysore, Guwahati, Jamshedpur, Nashik, Vadodara, Rajkot, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad, Warangal, Nagpur, Kochi, Gulbarga, Asansol, Shillong, Pune and Siliguri.

Shares of the company gained Rs 27.8, or 7.22%, to settle at Rs 413.10. The total volume of shares traded was 255,631 at the BSE (Friday).

A K Antony asked Pakistan to shut down 42 terrorist camps

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Defence minister A K Antony on Saturday asked Pakistan to shut down 42 terrorist camps he said were functioning in its territory if India-Pakistan talks were to succeed.

\"Pakistan has not made any serious attempt to disband the camps that are functioning close to Jammu and Kashmir. The decision for bilateral talks has been made consciously and it was not an ad hoc one,\" Antony told reporters after inaugurating the new office complex of the Coast Guard station at Vizhinjam near here.

\"Though there was no breakthrough (in the foreign secretary talks), being a conscious decision the process (of talks) will continue,\" he added.

The minister said the central home ministry and the Jammu and Kashmir government had evolved a formula to check infiltration and help terrorists to return to normal life.

\"Many have surrendered too. With the conditions becoming normal, there is an increase in tourist arrivals in Kashmir. Attempts for terrorist infiltration are there and the armed forces are maintaining vigil on the border,\" he said.

On the US supply of arms to Pakistan, he said Washington should make sure that the weapons were used against Islamist militants on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and not targeted at India.

He denied that the government had any information that the Chinese were covertly helping Indian Maoists.

\"The army will give logistic support to the state police (of Maoist-affected states). Paramilitary forces will be used for training the state police,\" said Antony.

He said the acquisition of defence equipments and aircraft had increased considerably in the past five years.

\"The process for acquiring the Kiev-class aircraft, Admiral Gorshkov, from Russia is in the final stage,\" added Antony.

He said that after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the threat through sea had increased. The armed forces were engaged in coordinated efforts to prevent similar attacks.

\"One of the positive aspects is that even fishermen have become alert and are giving valuable tip-offs to the (security) forces,\" said Antony.

Ten Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai in November 2008 by the sea and went on a killing spree over three days. They slaughtered 166 Indians and foreigners.

Kalam ignites minds of IIST students

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finally, there came that moment when the audience gets to grill Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

``You see, they tell me Ive to catch a plane. So I�ll take three questions from the first three students who come up to the stage. Fast, fast...,�� the former President hurried, not without a sly chuckle.

The next moment, there was a mad scramble forward. The short, rather jumpy youngster who got to be in front of the queue began, ``It�s been 60 years since Independence...�� but much to his chagrin, Kalam cut him mid-sentence, urging him to ask his question.

Second attempt was better, but rather cryptic in content. ``Sir, we don�t yet have what we want. Why is that?��

``First of all, you should know what you want. You should have a dream,�� Kalam said with a laugh, hustling the next questioner forward, who wanted to know when ISRO would top the list of space agencies.

The third questioner, a slim girl, wanted to know Dr Kalam�s views on ``over-competition.��

The venue was the inaugural function of Conscientia 2010, the annual technical fest of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), ISRO�s academy for moulding future space scientists at Veli, near here.

Expanding on the theme �What I will be remembered for,� Kalam urged the future rocket scientists to take up engineering and technology as the mission of a lifetime. The 21st century will be a knowledge-based one offering multiple opportunities, he said, observing that ``What worked yesterday, won�t work today.��

He emphasised the need for establishing a ``societal grid�� consisting of Knowledge Grid, Health Grid, e-Governance Grid and the PURA Grid for accelerating economic growth.

ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan had a pointer for one IIST student who aspired to be an astronaut ``of India.�� Healthy, agile and alert individuals stand a chance to be in that elite club, Radhakrishnan said.

``Initially, we can take only one or two,�� reminded Kalam.

IIST director B.N.Suresh presided over the function.

The festival, which will be on till March 7, will feature astronomy, robo-tournaments, gaming, telescope-making and ethical hacking, among other events.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Public health sector gets a raw deal

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: When a liberal Thomas Isaac was generous in providing funds and introducing new schemes for the education and social welfare sectors, the public health sector received a severe beating.

With no major initiatives and no fresh schemes, the state health sector will be solely dependent on the Rs 300 crore which is expected to receive through the National Rural Health Mission (Arogya Keralam).

An outlay of Rs 16 crore is set apart for the construction of 17 hospital buildings and Rs 5 crore for the modernisation of public health laboratories. To set up systems for information gathering on contagious diseases, Rs 3.8 crore has been earmarked.

A public campaign to monitor diabetes and hypertension, which has already been launched on a pilot basis in Thiruvananthapuram, will be extended to other districts. The fund for the said purpose will be met from NRHM and the states share will be only Rs 3 crore. For drug purchase, the Kerala Medical Service Corporation will get Rs 145 crore. The Minister has set apart Rs 21 crore for the needs of five government medical college hospitals, Rs 3.7 crore for dental colleges and Rs 3.3 crore for nursing colleges.

Promises regarding the setting up a Cardio Thoracic surgery unit in Alappuzha Medical College, advanced diagnostic centre in Kozhikode Medical College and a Linear Accelerator at Malabar Cancer Centre have been repeated. For the setting up of the peripheral centre of Regional Cancer Centre at Neendakara Rs 20 lakh has been provided.

Kerala priest held for sexual abuse of minor

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Kerala Christian priest has been arrested for alleged sexual abuse of a minor girl inmate of a hostel run by Orthodox Church at Pothukal in Malappuram district in September last year. The victim is a student of Catholicate Higher Secondary School run by the church.

Father K G Joseph alias Father Habib Joseph was arrested and produced in a local court on Thursday. He, however, was granted bail. Joseph later denied charges. Crime Branch sources said the priest was charged under Section 354 IPC (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), a bailable offence.

Police are also probing the \"unnatural\" death of the girls elder sister, who \"succumbed\" to suspected food poisoning at hostel in October last year. A few days after her death, the 14-year-old class IX student had alleged that she and her elder sister Anu were made to wash feet and massage Joseph and another priest who was a regular visitor to the hostel and that it often ended up with them being sexually harassed.

Though they took up the matter with a nun, she instead of helping, threatened them with dire consequences, the girl had alleged. The two sisters belonging to a poor family of Kelakam in Kannur district thought it better to resign to their fate as otherwise they would have had to discontinue studies.

Sixteen-year-old Anu, a class XI student, died on October 24, 2009. Soon after her death her younger sister had told reporters in the presence of her father that Anju was taken out in a car by the second priest on October 21 and they returned late in the night. Anu looked very tired and was crying and didnt eat anything the next day. This infuriated the nun who beat her up, she had alleged.

The torture was so brutal that there were blood stains on the wall of Anus room, she had alleged.

Smart City to be implemented in two phases

TPURAM: Aimed at exploring the information technology sector, the state government has earmarked Rs 153 crores 77 per cent increase from the previous year, for the development of IT in the state.

Presenting the budget, Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said the Smart City, which had been lying in limbo, would definitely be implemented.

Stating that the Smart City project would be implemented in two phases, he said the Info Park would take up the first phase of activities and an amount of Rs 50 crore had been earmarked for it.

A business model would be formulated in line of CIAL or VISL for the second phase, he added.

The Budget allocated Rs 70 crore for the development of IT Parks at Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi, cyber parks at Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargode and Info Park at Kochi. An amount of Rs 20 crore had been set apart for the Information Technology Infrastructure Company for land acquisition.

Issac also said Rs 6.8 crore was earmarked for Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management. An ICT Academy would be established at Thiruvananthapuram with Central assistance, he added.

Youth�s charred body found

OLLUR: The charred body of a youth was found near the Siva temple in Avilisseri. The body has been identified as Nixon (36), son of Varghese of Nadathara. An empty can, an empty liquor bottle and a broken glass were recovered from the spot. A bag containing some medicines was also found a few metres away from the body. He was working in a vegetable shop and was staying with his sister. He was undergoing treatment for kidney problems during the past three months.

Stay on demolition of 2 dams in Tata estates extended

KOCHI: Kerala High court Friday extended the stay on demolition of two check dams constructed by the Tata group-owned Kanan Devan Hills Plantation company in its estates in Munnar for a further period of one month.

The interim order was issued by a Green Bench comprising Justices P R Raman and C N Ramachandran Nair on an affidavit filed by the Plantation company challenging the show cause notice issued to it by the Idukki Collector.

The bench asked the Government to inform its views regarding establishment of special tribunal to resolve the disputes regarding land in the resort town of Munnar.

It also asked Additional Advocate General Ranjit Thampan to inform the views of government regarding regularisation of old occupants of small holdings in Munnar.

Rs 10 crore for new dam at Mullaperiyar

TPURAM: Noting that construction of a new dam across Mullaperiyar to replace the 113-year old existing structure was \"inevitable\", Kerala Government Friday earmarked Rs ten crore in its budget for 2010-11 for a detailed study of the project.

Presenting the budget, State Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac said considering the safety and interest of the people of Kerala, it was inevitable to construct a new dam which will also ensure sufficient water to Tamil Nadu.

\"For the detailed study of the dam, Rs 10 crore is being set apart,\" Issac said.

Kerala is locked in a bitter tussle with Tamil Nadu over the dam located in Idduki District. Though located in Kerala, the dam caters to the irrigation and drinking water needs of Tamil Nadu and is under its control.

Kerala sets up Green Fund to fight ecological challenges

TPURAM: In the backdrop of climate change and other environmental challenges, Kerala announced a Rs 1000-crore Green Fund for the next five years while earmarking an initial provision of Rs 100 crore in the budget for 2010-11.

State Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac, who presented the budget in the state assembly, said the fund would be utilized to take up projects to preserve natural assets like forests and promote green technology.

Besides restoration of degraded forests, it envisages steps towards acquisition of land to link patches of forests and protect core areas from interference.

It would also give thrust to preservation of mangroves, much of which is facing threat of degeneration. Since a large extent of mangroves is under control of private individuals, a fixed amount would be given to them as incentives to protect mangroves.

Energy conservation being a critical component of green initiatives, all industrial and commercial establishments would have to submit to mandatory energy audit.

The Green building concept would be introduced in the construction sector to promote use of environment friendly methods and materials.

Small-scale units would be set up in all panchayats to converts plastic wastes into pellets.

Isaac said the Green Budget did not scheme just inclusion of few other schemes, but part of the larger aim of creating the concept as the very basis for future planning and development.

Finance Minister presents budget in assembly

TPURAM: Finance Minister Dr Thomas Isaac presented the state budget for the coming financial year in the Kerala Legislative Assembly. He began his speech by recalling the verses of poet Vyloppilly Sreedhara Menon. Relating to the verses, the Minister said that he was presenting a red and green budget. Finance Minister Dr Thomas Isaac announced rice at Rs 2 a kg to workers in the unorganised and traditional sectors as he began presenting the budget

Antony inaugurates CPI-M backed TV channel\'s new building

TPURAM: Defence Minister A.K. Antony Friday inaugurated the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) backed TV channel Kairalis new multi-storeyed office complex here.

While Antony inaugurated Kairali Towers, CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat opened the Kairali Studio complex.

A virtual Whos Who of Kerala politics, including Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy, CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, all cabinet ministers and top leaders of political parties attended the function.

Located in the heart of the city, the twin towers boast of five state of the art studio complexes and large areas of office space.

Kairalis chairman, Malayalam superstar Mammootty said: I take this opportunity to thank nearly 2.50 lakh shareholders who have remained with us all these years. We also announced a dividend for the first time last year.

Antony said he is happy to be a part of the function.

Look at the guests sitting on the stage. Where else except in Kerala can you find political leaders carrying diverse opinions coming together. This can happen only here, said Antony.

Chandy struck a lighter note when he said new Kairali building could be an impetus to Congress-backed Jai Hind TV channel to have its own office.

Jai Hind channel does not have an office of its own. Now we hope Jai Hind can have an office of its own, maybe it will not be this imposing, said Chandy.

The CPI-M-led ruling Left Democratic Front is locked in a bitter electoral battle with the Congress-led United Democratic Front to hold on to power in next years assembly elections. The Left front received a drumming in the Lok Sabha elections last year.

Projects worth Rs.22 crore for district panchayat

Thrissur: The Thrissur District Panchayat will implement development projects worth Rs. 22.44 crore during 2010-11, District Panchayat President Ambadi Venu has said.

He was speaking after inaugurating a development seminar organised by the District Panchayat here on Friday.

�Successful interventions of District Panchayat have rejuvenated the agriculture sector. Innovative schemes needed to make farming profitable,� Mr. Venu said.

He called for evolving projects to turn more fallow lands into cultivable ones. The District Panchayat has allotted Rs. 12.65 crore for projects in general category and Rs. 9.46 crore for projects in special category.

Production and service sectors would get Rs. 2.27 crore and Rs 8.11 crore respectively. Rs. 2.27 crore would be spent on infrastructure development.

The district panchayat has allotted Rs. 11.37 lakh for an agriculture research project that would be initiated in association with Kerala Agricultural University.

Other major allotments included Rs. 10 lakh for turning fallow lands to cultivable ones and Rs. 2.5 lakh for procurement of coconut.

Mazhapolima project at schools would get Rs. 1.18 lakh.

Sandalwood oil unit at Marayur soon: Minister

PATHANAMTHITTA: The government will set up the States first sandalwood oil factory in the public sector at Marayur in Idukki district in the first half of the current financial year itself, Minister of Forests Benoy Viswom has said. The Minister was inaugurating the �Green Mansion and cottage complex constructed as part of the eco-tourism project at Gavi on Friday.

Mr. Viswom said the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) would set up the sandalwood oil extraction unit in a time-bound manner. He said the initiatives taken by the Forest Department had considerably reduced the number of sandalwood thefts in the Marayur forests in the past two months.

According to him, only three cases of missing sandalwood were reported from Marayur in January. In February, there were only two cases. The Minister said the department had also launched a drive with public participation to bring an end to sandalwood smuggling from Marayur forests.

Mr. Viswom said the LDF government was planning to plant five crore saplings across the State in five years.

The Minister said eco-tourism had immense potential in a State like Kerala. The government had launched 56 eco-tourism projects across the State and the work on all the schemes were fast progressing, he said.

Raju Abraham, MLA, presided. A. Santhakumari, district panchayat president, E.K.Vijayan, KFDC chairman, Amarnath Shetty, managing director, J.Teggi, Chief Conservator of Forests, C.K.Krishnankutty, S.Haridas, A.Radhakrishnan, P.S.Janardhanan Naikuppa, K.Lohya, all corporation directors and corporation general manager O.P. Kaler spoke.

Padayani begins on Tuesday

PATHANAMTHITTA: The annual Padayani festival at the Kadalimangalam Devi temple, Venpala, near Thiruvalla, will be held from March 9 to 20.

Addressing a pr�ss conference here on Friday, the Padayani organising committee leaders of Eruvellipra-Thengeli Padayani Karayogam, R.S. Kurup and Santhosh Ancheril, said the ritualistic Choottuvaipu ceremony had begun with the sacred fire brought from the sanctum sanctorum of Thiruvalla Sreevallabha Temple on February 26.

The Padayani kolam performance will begin with the �Ezhuthi-thullal and �Panchakolam on March 9.

The �Cheriya Edappadayani and �Valiya Edappadayani will be held on March 11 and 13. The ritualistic �Adavi, �Nirthu Padayani and �Mangala-kolam performance of the Eruvellipra-Thengeli group will be held on March 15, 17 and 18, respectively.

Two padayani committees in the villages of Venpala and Eruvellipra-Thengeli are jointly organising the annual festival that ends on the Bharani asterism in the Malayalam month of Meenom.

The two padayani karayogams would stage their Padayani kolam performance on alternate days from March 9, Mr. Santhosh said.

22 toddy shops closed

PALAKKAD: Twenty two toddy shops in the Cherpulassery, Ottappalam and Kuzhalmannam ranges in the district were closed down on Thursday as per the directives of the Excise Commissioner. The commissioner had received a complaint about adulteration of toddy supplied in these shops. There were complaints that the toddy mixed with spirit was being sold, officials said.

Shops gutted at Manjeri

MALAPPURAM: A shopping complex at Manjeri town was gutted on Friday. Three shops, including a supermarket and a home appliance shop, functioning at Metro Square Building on Pandikkad Road, were destroyed in the fire.

The loss is estimated at Rs.1 crore. The cause of the fire is unknown though rumours of arson were making the rounds.

The police have started an investigation after the shop owners said all electric circuits had been switched off before they closed the shops on Thursday.

The building belonged to Chulliyil Liyaqath Ali.

Local people noticed the fire on Friday morning. Fire and Rescue Services units reached the spot from Nilambur, Malappuram, Perinthalmanna and Mukkam. The blaze was brought under control after three hours.

Further destruction was prevented by taking precautionary measures. Water was continuously sprayed on a cracker shop in a nearby building to prevent the spread of fire.

A few other shops in the vicinity were also damaged.

The shop owners, in a complaint to the police, said they suspected arson. The building had caught fire two years ago, incurring a loss of Rs.50 lakh.

Another supermarket owned by one of the three shop owners was gutted in 2008.

Textile industry gets a boost

MALAPPURAM: The budget presented by Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac on Friday has given a renewed vigour to the public sector textile industry in the State.

As much as Rs.100 crore had been allocated for the revival of the public sector textile industry. �It is for the first time that the States public sector textile industry has got such a commendable budgetary allocation,� said P. Nandakumar, chairman of the Kerala State Textile Corporation.

�In fact, Kerala is the only State to spare so much for the public sector textile industry. No other State has allocated so much for the textile industry,� he said.

Mr. Nandakumar said the budgetary allocation would give the textile industry the much-needed boost. As much as Rs.36 crore has been kept aside for setting up a modernised spinning and weaving mill at Komalapuram, Alappuzha.

A weaving mill will be opened at Pinarayi, Kannur, at a cost of Rs.20 crore. As much as Rs.16 crore has been allocated for an open-ended spinning mill at Uduma, Kasaragod. The government will spend Rs.15 crore for modernising the cotton mill at Thiruvannur, Kozhikode.

�We are planning to enhance the spinning capacity of the mill by installing more new spindles,� said Mr. Nandakumar.

Dr. Isaac allocated Rs.5 crore for the spinning mill in Thiruvananthapuram. �This is a timely and valued move by the government to save an industry from crisis,� said Mr. Nandakumar.

Grant brings relief to Thunchanparambu

MALAPPURAM: The budgetary allocation of a solid recurring grant for the Thunchanparambu at Tirur, home of Thunchathu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan, has brought cheer to aficionados of Malayalam language and literature.

Thunchanparambu, a literary pilgrim centre named after the patriarch of the Malayalam language, has been allocated an annual grant of Rs.15 lakh.

The budgetary allocation by Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has brought relief to the Thunchan Memorial Trust, headed by litterateur M.T. Vasudevan Nair.

Till now, the grant Thunchanparambu got from the government did not go beyond a couple of lakhs of rupees. Thunchanparambu maintains eight employees, including an administrator and a superintendent, and their salary alone comes to Rs.6-7 lakh a year.

The grants given by the government did not even meet the salary expenses of the employees who work at Thunchanparambu.

Snehasangamam to conclude today

Kozhikode: The three-day cultural programme, �Snehasangamam, being organised by the district administration as part of the renovation of the Tali temple and the Mishkal mosque, will conclude with a cultural procession�Mahaghoshayatra� here on Saturday.

The procession proclaiming the cultural heritage of Malabar will be flagged of by Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at 3 p.m. Two processions starting from the Tali temple and the Mishkal mosque simultaneously will converge at the Pushpa Junction before it move to the Mananchira Square, the venue of the cultural meet.

Caparisoned elephants, camel, horses, band troops, ornamental umbrellas, Thalappoli, floats of different historical events connected to Malabar, traditional martial arts and folk and religious art forms will be showcased in the procession.

The cultural evening will be attended by Ministers M.A. Baby, Elamaram Karim, Benoy Viswom, Prime Ministers principal secretary T.K.A. Nair and M.K. Raghavan MP among others. A host of programmes, including Ghazal concert, devotional songs, Mappila Ramayanam and a magic show, will be conducted as part of the event.

B-school fair from today

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Triumphant Institute of Management Education (TIME) is organising a business school fair (B-school fair) at the Chandrasekharan Nair stadium in the capital on March 6 and 7.

More than 20 business schools in the country, including Hyderabad-based ISB, would participate in the fair that would be on from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the two days. Entry to the fair is free.

Knowledge seminars would be conducted as part of the fair. Representatives from ISB would deliver special seminars on �Building careers. A business game show would also be held on the occasion.

State gets five tourism awards

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala has bagged five national tourism awards in various spheres in the travel and tourism industry during 2008-2009.

The Responsible Tourism initiative introduced in Kumarakom as part of the four pilot projects taken up in Kovalam, Wayanad and Thekkady fetched Kerala the national award for the best Responsible Tourism (RT) project.

The award was received by president of Kumarakom grama panchayat G.C. Damodaran and the coordinator K. Rupesh Kumar.

The website ( of Kerala Tourism developed and maintained by Invis Multimedia bagged the national award for the most innovative use of Information Technology/Website.

The Leela Kovalam Beach was conferred the national award for the best five star deluxe hotel. It is for the first time that five star hotels in the State are getting the national tourism award. Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Vivek Nair received the award.

Taj Groups Gateway Hotel in Kozhikode won the award for the best five star hotel. The award for the third best tourist transporter went to Jaysree Travels and Tour Company.

Tourism sector divided over proposals

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The tourism industry in the State is divided over the proposals for the sector in the Budget-2010, presented by Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Issac.

Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry (CFTI) president E. M. Najeeb said the government had gone ahead with the long-pending demand of the hotel and tourism industry to reduce luxury tax of hotels from 15 percent to 12.5 percent and from 10 percent to 7.5 percent.

The Budget allocation for tourism has been increased to Rs.100 crore from Rs.90 crore and the allocation for marketing of the destination has been increased in the Budget to Rs.25 crore from the present Rs.15 crore.

The Kerala Service Tax Act allows hotels up to three star category to pay taxes compounded. Mr. Najeeb said the proposals were a favourable gesture to the industry that is coming out of the negative impacts of the recession.

Cash, jewellery stolen from car

Thiruvananthapuram: A gang of migrant thieves stole gold ornaments weighing nearly 40 sovereigns and Rs.12,000 in cash from a woman who was sitting inside a parked car at Thampanoor on Friday morning.

Circle Inspector, Thampanoor, C. Anil Kumar identified the victim as Indu Rani, 44, of Malayinkeezh. She had come to Thampanoor along with her husband, Vijayakumar, and daughter, Arathi, to book a rail ticket to Chennai. Indu Rani was alone in the car when the incident happened.

Around 11.45 a.m., two Hindi-speaking men approached her and said there were some currency notes on the road near her car. They suggested that the currency possibly belonged to her relatives.

Indu Rani later told the police that she saw some Rs.10 notes strewn around the vehicle. She was initially reluctant to venture out of the car. But the second man convinced her that there was more money on the road behind the car.

The police said the moment Indu Rani stepped out of the car; the men yanked open the cars door and stole the two bags inside. Mr. Anil said one of the suspects was a portly man with curly hair. The police have detained one suspect for questioning.

At around 9.30 a.m., Thampi Narayanan of Mavelikara complained to the Cantonment police that some persons had stolen a bag from his car. His vehicle was parked near the government treasury at Statue Junction.

The police said Mr. Thampi and his wife Jayashree Thampi had gone to a nearby bank to transact some private business. Their driver was alone in the car. A Tamil-speaking person approached the driver and said he found some currency notes on the road near the vehicle.

The car driver later told the police that he saw 13 Rs.10 denomination currency notes on the road. He suspected it belonged to his employers. The moment he got out of the car to retrieve the currency, the man decamped with the bag inside the vehicle.

The police said there were some important documents inside the bag but nothing of any monetary value. The theft of bags and purses of car passengers seemed to have become a recurrent crime in the city. The method of operation was the same in most of the cases. Last year, a migrant group of thieves stole the bag of a retired judge near the Secretariat.

More funds for Vizhinjam

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The much-delayed Vizhinjam project in the capital city has had a fresh infusion of government funds, with the budget for 2010-11 earmarking Rs.125 crore more for this scheme.

A global tender will the invited for the construction of the port and for associated activities, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said in his budget speech on Friday.

There will be a special scheme for the restoration of the Veli and Akkualm lakes. The 25-crore scheme - to be implemented with Central assistance - involves dredging of the lakes and establishing a sewage treatment plant. The Travancore-Shoranur canal will also be renovated under this scheme.

The capital city development programme has been allocated Rs.10.5 crore. The construction of modern slaughterhouses will get a budgetary support of Rs.13 crore. The Attukal Temple Township Scheme will be started this year.

State to get eight new PSUs

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the rest of the nation is talking about disinvesting public sector undertakings (PSUs), the State is poised to get eight new PSUs with a combined initial investment of Rs.125 crore.

Presenting the 2010-11 budget in the Assembly on Friday, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said some of the new PSUs would be commissioned within a year, an achievement which, in his words, �will stand out as the most lustrous golden feather on the cap of the Industries Department.�

The proposed new PSUs are Komalapuram Hi-Tech Spinning and Weaving Mill having an initial outlay of Rs.36 crore, Kannur High Tech Weaving Factory (Rs.20 crore), Textile Mill at Kasaragod (Rs.16 crore), Traco Cable unit at Kannur (Rs.12 crore), Tool Room of the Kerala State Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO) at Kozhikode (Rs.12 crore), Keltron unit at Kuttippuram (Rs.12 crore), Steel Forging unit at Shoranur (Rs.12 crore) and Meter factory of United Electricals at Palakkad (Rs.5 crore).

The Finance Minister said new PSUs would be started on the strength of a basic change in the policy for investment of surplus funds by PSUs. Under the amended policy, PSUs having cash surplus after paying dividend to the government would be permitted to utilise 20 per cent of the share capital from their surplus fund for modernisation and expansion without the prior approval of the government and to invest their surplus funds as share capital or loan for starting new institutions. Dr. Isaac said Kerala would secure the rare distinction of having all the public sector industrial institutions running on profit if five more institutions became profitable. The public sector, which had incurred losses totalling Rs.70 crore during 2005-06, was expected to make a combined profit of Rs.200 crore in 2009-10.

Kairali TV moves to own premises

Thiruvananthapuram: In the presence of an august audience comprising stalwarts of national politics as well as luminaries of the cultural and social realms of the State, the 10-year-old Kairali TV moved to its impressive premises, Kairali Towers, in the heart of the capital.

Starting from Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, channel chairman Mammootty, CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy and BJP leader O. Rajagopal, Ministers, MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats, politicians and social activists swarmed the inaugural venue on Friday evening.

Mr. Antony, who was elated on seeing the array of dignitaries, did not hide his excitement when he said that it was typical of the people of Kerala to celebrate such joyous occasions in spite of the differences of opinion. And it was that spirit of unity and oneness which prompted him to attend the function for inaugurating the towers.

Mr. Achuthanandan in his presidential address lauded the pivotal role played by the channel in popularising television in the rural areas. It should uphold the high values in life and work for social justice and empowerment and well-being of the toiling class.

Mr. Mammootty in his opening address said the chairmans post had given him an opportunity for a close interaction with people belonging to different echelons of life and grow beyond the level of an actor. The channel reflected the dreams, aspirations and ambitions of Keralites. It had its own politics and an all-encompassing approach too. It spoke for Malayalis and also gave what they yearned for. The tower should not be judged as a material gain of the channel, but it was a symbol of the affection and confidence Malayalis had reposed on it for using the name Kairali and Malayalam which they held unto their hearts. It was not mere profit but a quest to uphold social and ethical values which drove the channel during the past one decade, he said.

Mr. Karat, who inaugurated the studio complex, stressed the need for carrying on the discussion for evolving a regulatory mechanism for television channels. As many as 450 channels were there in the country and they had become an integral part of life. Whether it should be a regulatory mechanism of the government or a self-regulatory one had to be discussed, he said.

Mr. Chandy described himself as the greatest beneficiary of the channel. For in its quest to gain credibility, it had always given him his due. A healthy competition was imperative in media and politics for development, he said.

Mr. Vijayan said that Keralites in the State and abroad responded positively to the proposal to start the channel and it had come out of its birth pangs braving the attempts to corner it in the initial stages. The channel should have a firm stance on issues pertaining to the fight against monopolistic tendencies, secularism and communalism, he said.

Managing director John Brittas welcomed the gathering

50% rise in outlay for education

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has proposed an increase in the outlay for the education sector by 50 per cent from Rs.208 crore to Rs.316 crore in the State budget for 2010-11.

The Finance Minister, while presenting the budget in the Assembly on Friday, said 40 per cent of the amount, Rs.121 crore, would be for school education. A sum of Rs.30 crore of this amount was the States share of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. In addition to this, Rs.105 crore will be available from local self-government institutions and Rs.165 crore from the Union government for the programme.

Global recognition for houseboats of Kerala

A cruise along the waterways in a houseboat is the most enchanting experience for the tourists arriving on a holiday to the State. Cashing in on the demand from the tourists, houseboat operators are coming up with innovative products.

Houseboats have become mascot of Kerala Tourism. Several accolades have been bestowed on the houseboats. A unique tourism product of Kerala, several States have evinced interest in replicating them and to introduce them in their water bodies.

The latest is the listing of the houseboats as one of the five � Enchanting Escapes\' from around the globe by �Asia Spa.\' The other enchanting escapes mentioned in the three-page article by Lorraine Rodrigues are Belgian town of Bruges, Hua Hin, Thailand and Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

The houseboats from Kerala with a photograph figure in the list of �unique fascinating sweet spots from around the globe.� It says the �backwaters are where you can truly enjoy the privacy and simultaneously reconnect with nature at close quarters.�

The listing has come at a time when the 500-odd houseboats were affected by the drop in tourist arrivals due to economic crisis all over the world. �It is a big achievement for the houseboat operators and for the tourism industry of the State,� says Tomy J. Pulickattil, a leading house boat operator.

The comfortably furnished houseboat with all modern facilities as in a room of a hotel is the holiday home for foreign and domestic tourists arriving in God\'s Own Country.

Modified to meet the novel concept of holidaying, the houseboat with conference hall is aimed at those who want to combine business and leisure. The groundwork for constructing an antique houseboat and the one that will move along the road instead of the backwaters has commenced. Mr. Tomy, who has come up with several innovative products, says the listing of the houseboats had come at a time when the operators were going through a lean patch.

Builders hail lower stamp duty, registration fee

Lowering of stamp duty and registration fee for flats is definitely a most welcome step, providing the required impetus for development of the real estate and construction sectors, says Abdul Azeez, chairman of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers of India (Kerala) reacting to the State Budget proposals presented by Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac in the Assembly on Friday.

Lowering of the stamp duty has been a long-standing demand of the sector as the State has one of the highest rates of this, he says.

People will benefit much if the duty is still lowered, but a beginning has been made. Another important aspect of the budget is the lowering of the registration fee for apartments.

While people who build houses on their own land do not have to pay the registration fee, buyers of flats have to pay a fee when these are registered in their name.

The cost of a flat fixed by the builder includes the cost of registering the land. Hence, flat owners pay for land as well as getting a flat built.

However, the builders here say the Union Budget 2010, presented by Union Finance Minister in the Lok Sabha on February has, at best, tried to dampen the recovery of the construction sector, which has been trying to find its way up from a worldwide slump. The service tax on houses will sharply increase the price, believe the builders.

Kerala launches dowry-free marriage websites

Nilambur, Mar 5: The residents of Malappuram district will launch two websites on dowry-free marriages.

Buzz up!In Jan 2008, the villagers of Nilambur village took a pledge in the presence of Congress leader Sachin Pilot that they will not give nor ask for dowry.

\"The new websites (dowry-free marriages and dowry-free village) would be launched by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan in state capital next Monday, Mar 8,\" said Nilambur village council president Aryadan Shoukat (son of veteran Congress legislator Aryadan Mohammed).

\"According to a survey, there are more than 4,698 unmarried men and women in the village in the age group of 18 to 40. Of these, some 2,000 have registered with the websites so far. The registration is free,\" Shoukat said.

The idea started almost two years back when the council of the village was conducting a survey to find out the number of people who had no house of their own.

According to survey, they found that 25 percent of those belonging to the lower strata of the society had no house of their own because they had to sell it to marry off their daughters

State breathes new life into paddy farming

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Government has successfully employed the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to resurrect paddy cultivation in the state. This achievement is a first for the country.

Around 2841.24 hectares of fallow land have been brought under paddy cultivation under the (MGNREGS) in the current financial year. The projects had been implemented through Kudumbasree units.

Idukki district tops the list by making around 1,345 hectares of fallow land fit for cultivation. Close behind is Alappuzha where around 1,100 hectares of fallow land have been cultivated.

The other districts are: Kasargod - 25 hectares, Kannur - 4 hectares, Wayanad - 150 hectares, Kozhikode - 56 hectares, Malappuram - 4.54 hectares, Thrissur - 64 hectares, Kottayam - 66.86 hectares, Pathanamthitta - 6 hectares, Kollam - 16.84 hectares and Thiruvananthapuram - 3 hectares.

In Perambra grama panchayat of Kozhikode district, 140 acres of land, which had been left fallow for 20 years, had been brought under paddy cultivation.

``The land, which had been a dumping ground for waste materials, was prepared for paddy cultivation in 1,700 mandays. Later, 62 groups, comprising 5 people each, have started paddy cultivation. The harvesting will be done in April,� sources said. Similarly, 200 acres of fallow land each in the Chokli and Pattuvam panchayats of Kannur district have been identified for paddy cultivation. A harvest festival was held recently in 50 acres of land, hitherto called fallow, at Uduma pachayat in Kasargod district.

Besides, MGNREGS is one of the components in the massive fallow land cultivation being launched in nine panchayats of the Vadakkancheri Block in Thrissur district. Under the scheme, mud and silt in a 57-km-long canal was cleared and made fit for irrigation, which was the long-term demand of the farmers of the Block Panchayat.

�Taking a cue from the successful integration of MGNREGS and agriculture in the state, the Centre is planning to introduce a convergence of MGNREGS, Water Resources Projects and Social Forestry,�� highly placed sources told Express.

Unlike other states, the policy decision taken by the State Government was to utilise the MGNREGS mainly to revive agriculture, conservation of soil and water resources, regeneration of biomass and for women empowerment.

GD PI shortlist for IIM Kozhikode announced; Check your status on

Following the footsteps of IIM Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Lucknow and Shillong, today IIM Kozhikode has also released its shortlist for GD and PI round for admissions to the 2010-12 academic session. In addition to the shortlist being available on the CAT 2009 official website, you can also see the shortlist at

To see the GD-PI shortlist please click here:

Criteria for shortlisting

This year the MBA school has adopted a unique process for shortlisting the candidates for the GD and PI round. According to the admissions office of the MBA school this time they have adopted the following process for GD and PI shortlisting: �Candidates meeting with the minimum cut off in each section as well as in the aggregate are selected to form an initial pool. From this pool, an index score is computed with 50 percent weight for the overall CAT score, 20 percent weight for academic performance in secondary school, 20 percent weight for higher secondary school and 10 percent weight for the work experience of the candidate. Based on this index, candidates have been called for Group Discussion and Interview.� The admissions office will soon announce the final admission criteria.

Now only IIM Bangalore, Indore and Ranchi are left to announce their GD-PI shortlist.

Click here for IIM Ahmedabad short listing.

Click here for IIM Shillong short listing.

Click here for IIM Calcutta PGP PGDM short listing.

Click here for IIM Calcutta PGP PGDCM short listing.

Click here for IIM Lucknow PGP short listing.

Stay tuned to for more CAT 2009 updates!

Gloomy days ahead for state

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The recession might not have hit the state as hard as feared but the Economic Review (ER) 2009, tabled in the Assembly on Thursday, heralds ominous tidings for the states economy.

``Kerala did somewhat better that the national economy, with a GSDP growth rate of 6.98 percent compared to the GDP growth rate of 6.7 percent for the country as a whole,�� the ER notes. But in the same breath it says a mere achievement of a high growth rate of GSDP is not enough to ameliorate the distress in which the state is already in.

The ER speaks of a ``new bubble�� that is arising in the foodgrain market.

This will set off what the review terms an ``inflationary recession�� in the world, particularly India. ``For Kerala this would mean bleak employment prospects, subdued prices for cash crops, and escalating prices for foodgrains,�� the ER notes.

Though Finance Minister Thomas Isaac made much of the state�s above-national- average GSDP growth at a press conference here on Thursday, the ER is suspicious of the efficacy of a high growth rate.

Petronet LNG in demand as Govt mulls exemptions

MUMBAI (Commodity Online): Importer of liquefied natural gas, Petronet LNG Ltd (BOM:532522) gained on the bourse today as the government is looking to exempt natural gas from import duties.

Petronet LNG jumped over 4% on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) today to Rs.78.35 up by close to 4.5%. Meanwhile, the BSE Sensex was almost flat at 16,978 points. The stock hit a high of Rs.79.15 and a low of Rs.75.35 so far during the day.

Lounge by the lake

Kumarakom has been a favourite holiday choice of many including former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. Whispering Palms Lake Resort of the Abad Group on the side of the seemingly never-ending Vembanad Lake is tailor-made for the urbanite who yearns for quiet, yet fancies the pleasures of the city.

As you drive in, the narrow roads, small shops and cattle chewing cud give way to a manicured drive-in, a spacious lobby that tempts you to eschew the comfortable chairs for the parapet on all sides where the breeze lulls you to sleep. And the lake? You wonder whether its the sea, for it goes on and on.

The cottages are well-built with bathrooms that have netted roofs that open to the sky and have bathtubs. The verandah that faces the lake is the right place to relax with a book. One does not feel like being indoors, with the outdoors so full of life and Nature. Flamingos, geese, ducks and wild fowl frequent the lagoon.

There are 12 lake-facing cottages, 36 lagoon- and garden-facing ones, bamboo villas, three of which have private pools. There are two suites. All are air-conditioned.

At the multi-cuisine restaurant, opt for the mouth-watering Kerala dishes such as the fresh fish curries and crispy fried prawns

Houseboats are lined up on the lake. And should you wish to go fishing, you can, with a fishing line, of course, not on the boat, but from the banks of the lake! There is a big pool to swim in a few feet awayfrom the lake. The ayurvedic rejuvenation centre, health club, conference hall and travel desk are the additional facilities.

Russian women swim to safety; Indian man drowns

Kochi, Mar 5 (PTI) Two Russian women swam to safety but an Indian man accompanying them drowned when their boat capzised in Periyar river in Idukki district, police said today.

Nadza (24) and Nadalia (27), hailing from St Petersburg and reportedly visiting Kerala for the first time, managed to swim ashore when the fibreglass boat capsized at Thattekad last Tuesday. However Nadeem (35), who was with them drowned, they said.

Police said the victims body was recovered from near the accident spot yesterday and were looking into all aspects of the probe.

The Russian women had necessary travel documents and had come to Kerala on their own, police said.

A case was registered against Kilikkoode resort at Kothamangalam where the women were staying. The owner was arrested for failing to inform them about the presence of foreigners at their resort.

Malarvadi Arts Club launched

Actor Dileeps production house Grand Productions Malarvadi Arts Club, which marks the directorial debut of actor-singer Vineeth Sreenivasan, was launched with a pooja at BTH Sarovaram, Kochi. The event was attended by several luminaries, including megastar Mammootty and Vineeths father, the versatile actor Sreenivasan.

Sreenivasan was beaming with pride when he said that he was often asked if Vineeth would become more famous than him. Sreenivasan said that Vineeths aims should even be higher than that. Mammootty described Vineeth as an individual with high promise.

Starring five fresh faces along with Jagathi, Nedumudi, Innocent, Salim Kumar and Suraj Venjaramoodu, the film is set in a village called Manassery. The film revolves around the hilarious attempts of five rustic friends to run their local club named \"Malarvady Arts Club\". Dileep will appear in a cameo.

UK visa application centres to shut for five days in April

CHENNAI: The British Deputy High Commission on Friday said UK visa application centres across the southern region would be closed for five days in April as part of IT system upgradation.

\"The UK Border agency advises customers that the visa application centres in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Bangalore will be closed from April 1 to 5 to enable an IT system upgradae as part of a global programme across all British High Commissions and embassies\", a British Deputy High Commission release in Chennai said.

The last date on which the UK Visa Facilitation Services would accept new applications in Hyderabad, Kochi and Bangalore is March 30 and March 31 for Chennai centre, it said.

The Visa application centres will re-open on April 6 and those who intend to travel to the UK in April are adivsed to submit their application as soon as possible, it said.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mosquito menace: In troubled times

Kochiites are caught in a strange predicament; terribly hot and humid days and sleepless nights. The mosquito menace is testing the patience of people as these buzzing blood suckers spare no one. Even those who live in high rises have no reprieve from mosquitoes. The residents of apartments in the city say that mosquitoes have found an easy entry to top floors through lifts. And once they make an entry it is not quite easy to smoke them away. Many homemakers complain that mosquitoes seem to have developed immunity to repellents.

People in offices are also not spared by mosquitoes which can spread many diseases.

Since the air-conditioned cubicles do not have any air vents they can use only repellents in the form of creams. Even during this time of price rise people are forced to spend a considerable amount on repellents.

But the Corporation is yet to curb this issue.

The city is filled with filthy and clogged canals and drains which breed mosquitoes. But the authorities say that they have taken all precautionary measures to tackle the menace.

�Fogging has been intensified in all parts of the city. Canal cleaning and mass cleaning work are fast progressing,� said health standing committee chairman N A Mani. When asked about the clogged drains he said that the councillor of the locality should take up the responsibility.

The people also contribute to this menace to a certain extent by dumping waste on vacant plots and even in canals. The authorities claim that they have done everything in their capacity to curb the breeding of mosquitoes, but people in the city still suffer from bites

Pledges unfulfilled

KOCHI: In its earlier budget, the civic body had promised the city more than one hundred projects, out of which only 39 were partially completed or intitated so far. Out of the 39 projects, 21 were related to infrastructure.

The rest of the projects remain unfulfilled pledges and broken promises.


The Kochi Corporation had evicted a total of 36 families along the Perandoor canal in 2007. The families that were evicted were provided temporary accommodation in the building owned by the corporation near North Railway station.

Allocations were made in last two budgets for rehabilitating these families at Mundamvely. But so far only 12 families were provided with housing facilities.

The explanation given by the civic body in this regard is that the housing scheme for these segments was formulated in 2004 and rates were estimated according to the then prevailing rates. The cost of construction, including that of materials, has gone up considerably in the past five years. According to the revised estimate, around Rs 3.4 lakh would be required for constructing each housing unit.

With the local body elections to be held later this year, the civic body will be keen to include the construction of houses at Mundamvely in this years budget.

Presence of water in Moon path-breaking discovery: Nair

Kochi, Mar 5 (PTI) Describing the recent discovery of thick ice deposits on the Moon as path-breaking, former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair said it opens up a vast avenue for human exploration.

\"This is the first time NASA and ISRO have confirmed the availability of water on moon. Huge ice sheets were found in the polar regions of the moon. This is a path-breaking finding as it was earlier believed there was a vacuum in the moon,\" Nair, during whose tenure unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan I was launched, said.

\"The presence of water gives many ideas.Water can be split with sunlight to get oxygen and hydrogen. While oxygen can be used by human explorers, hydrogen can be used as fuel either to generate electricity or use as rocket fuel for the return journey or even attempt a Mars mission from the Moon,\" he said.

Thomas Issac Presents Kerala Budget

Thomas Issac, Kerala Finance Minister declared today while laying out the budget at State Assembly rice will be available at Rs.2 per Kg for traditional sector workers. He assigned Rs.500 crore for this.

There will be an increase in welfare pensions and it would be hiked to Rs. 300 a month. Any one helper of the disabled can also avail the pension. SC and ST students will also get some new allowances.

He also said that a fund of Rs.1000 crores will be raised for regenerating the forests, out of which Rs.100 crore will be assigned towards planting trees.CFL lamps will be used for saving power and Rs.1500 crore will be invested for the same.

There will also be increased assistance for marriage for SC and ST women and more assistance will be provided to Kudumbasree. It will be ensured that most police circle offices are women-friendly.

Rs.17 crore will be dedicated to the development work of LNG terminal in Kochi which would get commissioned in 2012.

Farmers will be forbidden from committing suicides by compensating their losses in agriculture. This year will see more allocation going towards agricultural sector which would amount to about Rs. 622 crore. Also, Rs. 30 crores will go towards coconut development.He also mentioned about price rise being the lowest in Kerala.

Caravel launches cellular container vessel

: Caravel Logistics, a Chennai-based multi modal transportation company, has launched its first cellular container vessel here on Thursday.

M V Caravel Pride with a 585 TEU capacity is capable of transporting varied goods that can be containerised.

This include refrigerated containers, over sized cargo that could be carried on special containers.

Addressing mediapersons here, Saju Chacko, managing director of the company, said that the vessel was acquired at a cost of Rs 25 crore through a private equity by BTS Investments, Switzerland.

The company expects to enhance its revenue by Rs 40 crore through the new venture.

The vessel was built at the Fosen Mekaniskw Verksreder Shipyard in Sweden.

It has a fixed day schedule that would help customers preplan their shipments with certainty of cargo movement.

Saju pointed out that the new venture was a step in the right direction towards the vision of becoming a holistic logistic company providing best service.

With the international cargo freight volume increasing by 20 percent a year, a boost in Caravel�s topline is expected.

Desktop library turns a big hit

KOCHI: The state of school libraries is no different from the plight of extinct animals or dying art forms. Hardly appealing and no takers. And why should they, when students can read as much as they please by sitting in front of computers at home.

So, why not take a library online and make it available to students at their desktop? Faizal, the librarian at the Library Media Centre at Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram, had this idea one fine day in September 2007. Things have never been the same after that. The library took to web world with a blog of its own, which has been hailed as the first Indian library blog. Log on to and you know why it has many takers.

The whole concept revolves around the idea that a library should be a friend, says Faizal. He, a qualified librarian, manages the blogs and all the other web initiatives of KV Pattom. �Children spend more time before computers logging on to social networking sites. On an experimental basis, we began this library blog, which was a way of reaching out to these kids online. If they dont come to the library, then let�s reach them where they are,� Faizal says.

The blog has everything a student might want to know about a library. Library services, both offline and online, library activities, library bulletin, library automation (KV Pattom is the first of KV schools in the country to go fully automated) and, of course, on every other book that the student comes across. �The response was tremendous, there is now a healthy turnout at the library,� Faizal says. There are blog interactions where the students can chat with the librarian online and send him queries about books.

Having done that, Faizal started an e-magazine for the library, libzine, which is available at And to make students more attached to books, another blog was started, www.mydearbook. This blog is exclusively for publishing book reviews written by students.

After a reading session at the library, students can scribble in whatever they thought about the book or about their reading experience.

Another service provided by this library is the access to class homework and assignments online. Log on to www.homeworksonline. to know details.

There is also Library Junction (, which is a social networking community, owned by the library. As the tagline says, �It�s where minds meet and ideas pop up, to promote books, reading, knowledge and libraries.� There are nearly 450 members in this network and half of them are KV students while the rest are from outside. From the forum, you get to know that almost all happenings in the book world, from plagiarism alleged against J K Rowling to the Twilight Saga�s success, are being discussed here

Visual IQ strengthens its team to help online and offline clients in marketing tools

Kochi (Kerala) March 5 (ANI): Visual IQ, a US based company which recently opened its office in Kochi has announced an initiative to better assist marketers in achieving business goals through improved measurement and optimization of both online and offline media campaigns.

As part of efforts to help clients more tightly align their marketing efforts with business objectives, media expert Bob Deininger has joined Visual IQ team in the newly created role of Engagement Manager.

Working collaboratively with both brand marketers and their agencies, Deininger is responsible for ensuring Visual IQs Intelligence Platform to properly customized and to collect the data necessary to deliver actionable insights on customer behaviour and campaign performance.

Although marketing measurement has become commonplace today, many marketers still struggle with the challenge of integrating marketing data from multiple, disparate channels in order to glean truly valuable insights from the information.

�Bob has spent years �in the trenches� as a marketer trying to make sense of the increasing glut of marketing performance data and he understands the value this information can have not just to marketers, but also to the organization as a whole,� said Manu Mathew, CEO, Visual IQ.

�He empathizes with the challenges our clients face and is already delivering the confidence, collaboration and accountability that Visual IQ�s clients have come to expect. We are pleased to have Bob as part of the Visual IQ team,� Mathew added

The company�s software-as-a-service analytics solutions help companies improve return on marketing investments with performance insights across the complex and an ever-expanding media mix.

Visual IQ quickly integrates high volumes of data from disparate sources to provide user-friendly, actionable insights for today�s metrics-driven marketers and their agency partners

Medical camp for differently abled

Thrissur: The Thrissur Corporation on Thursday organised a medical camp for differently-abled people to identify candidates eligible for aids.

Mayor R. Bindu said that five per cent of the City Corporations plan fund would be utilised for distributing various devices to make life easier for the differently-abled. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is the implementing agency of the rehabilitation project of the City Corporation.

In all, 72 differently-abled people attended the medical camp.

Service of specialist doctors was made available at the camp to identify the nature of the disablement for which suitable remedies would be worked out.

Call to solve labour issue in film sector

THRISSUR: Writer and social activist Sukumar Azhikode has asked the Culture Minister not to shirk his responsibility towards solving the labour issue in which actor Thilakan was involved.

Prof. Azhikode who was addressing a meet-the-press programme at the Thrissur Press Club on Wednesday demanded an investigation into the functioning of film trade bodies and the recent controversies in which they were caught. �The leadership of these organisations should change. Do organisations such as the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes intervene in socio-political issues? What is their real contribution to art and culture? Did they utter a word on artist M.F. Husains nationality issue? The film industry has degenerated into a morass of unsavoury and exploitative practices.�

He was critical of the decision of the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit to confer honorary D.Litt degree on actor Mohanlal. He wanted such honours to be given to actors of stature like Kalamandalam Gopi. He wanted the Governor to intervene and revoke the decision.

On his part, he would refrain from delivering a lecture in connection with the birth centenary of writer and freedom fighter, O.M.C. Narayanan Namboodiripad, at the University on March 10 in protest against its decision

Trains to be delayed

PALAKKAD : Due to track maintenance work between Kalamasseri and Edappally stations from March 4 to 20, the following trains will be delayed.

Train No. 2787, Bilaspur � Thirunelveli Express will be delayed for 85 minutes on Wednesdays, Train No. 6311, Bikaneer � Trivandrum Central Express for 30 minutes on Thursdays, Train No 6333, Veravel-Trivandrum Express for 30 minutes on Fridays, Train No 6335, Gandhidam-Nagercoil Express for 30 minutes on Saturdays and Train No. 6337 Okha - Ernakulam Express for 30 minutes on Sundays and Tuesdays, the according to a Railway release issued here on Thursday.

Free dialysis for the needy

Kozhikode: A dialysis centre which will offer free treatment for the needy will be inaugurated at the CH Centre here on Friday.

Named after Indian Union Muslim Leagues late leader Panakkad Syed Mohammed Ali Shihab Thangal, the Rs.3-crore centre is equipped with nine dialysis machines that could be used in three shifts to enable up to 27 patients to undergo dialysis daily, centre convener M.A. Razak said here on Thursday.

The treatment centre is an initiative of the CH Centre which had been serving the needy for about nine years with support from the public, he said.

The centre, situated near the medical college, provides ambulance and volunteer services, medicines, food, etc to patients, he added.

IUML State president Panakkad Syed Hyder Ali Shihab Thangal, Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed, IUML State general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty and businessman M.A. Yusuf Ali are expected to attend the inaugural function

Priest held on molestation charge

Kozhikode: The Kozhikode Crime Branch- Criminal Investigation Department on Thursday arrested a priest on the charge of sexually molesting a minor girl of an educational institution at Nilambur in Malappuram district.

A special team led by the Detective Inspector P.J. Vasudevan arrested K.G. Joseph alias Father Habib, 61, hailing from Pathanapuram, for outraging the modesty of the 15-year-old inmate of home for children more than a year ago.

Released on bail

The accused was charged under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He was later released on bail.

The Crime Branch is also investigating another case of the suicide of a girl who is the sister of the sexually assaulted victim of the same institution.

Both the girls hailed from Kannur district and had been staying at the institution for destitute children, Crime Branch officials said.

Reopening of bridge postponed

Kozhikode: A tense situation prevailed for a while on Thursday morning during the opening of the Korapuzha bridge on National Highway No.17, which was closed for repairs, after local people objected to the opening on grounds that hairline cracks had developed on some portions of the repaired bridge.

This occurred soon after heavy vehicles started plying across the bridge in the morning. Incidentally, only 65 per cent of the repairs were completed until Thursday.

A posse of police personnel led by Nadakkavu Circle Inspector Jaison K. Abraham and Koyilandy Circle Inspector M.P. Premadas pacified the agitated crowd, which had gathered on the bridge from 8 a.m. They demanded that the District Collector inspect the bridge.

The problem was solved after Collector P.B. Salim arrived at the site at 3 p.m. He said all repair works would be completed by March 9 and the bridge would be opened on March 10.

Call to end dowry system

KOLLAM: There will be no end to domestic crimes against women if the dowry system does not end, State Womens Commission (SWC) Chairperson D. Sreedevi has said.

She was inaugurating a workshop on �Dowry-free Kerala and weddings without ostentation. The workshop was organised by the SWC in association with the Youth Welfare Board and the Kollam district panchayat.

Thattekad accident: body of victim recovered

KOCHI: The body of Naveen, 35, from Aluva, who was killed in a boat accident at Thattekad on Tuesday, was recovered on Thursday. The deceased had gone for boating along with two Russian women tourists. The police had registered a case against owners of the resort where the Russian tourists were staying, on charges of not filing the C-Form. The resort, Kilikood Resort at Thattekad, have failed to file the document on details of the tourist, which is mandatory for any hotel hosting foreign tourist in the country.

Court seeks State views on rallies

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday orally directed the State government to inform the court within 10 days its views on a plea to ban processions/demonstrations/ agitations consisting of more than 500 participants on the roads in Kochi city.

The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice P.R. Raman and Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair gave the direction when a writ petition filed by the Kochi-based Institute of Social Welfare came up for hearing.

The court allowed Basil Attipetty of Kochi to implead in the case.

He sought to oppose the petitioners plea on grounds that if such a plea was allowed, it would violate the Constitutional rights of the people to assemble and form associations.

In its petition, the organisation had pointed out that a series of demonstrations and processions that were taken out in the city in the last few years had blatantly violated the directions of the High Court in this regard. The demonstration taken out by the SNDP Yogam on January 22 in Kochi was the latest instance.

Water on moon a path-breaking finding, says ex-chief of ISRO

KOCHI: The confirmation of the presence of water on the moon by Chandrayaan-I probes will open vast opportunities for space research, says G. Madhavan Nair, former chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

For one thing, water available on the moon could be split into oxygen and hydrogen using sunlight and the oxygen could be used by human explorers while the hydrogen could be used as fuel.

This could reduce the necessity to carry expensive payloads of oxygen and fuel by future space missions. This could drastically cut the cost of space research. At present, every kilogram of payload cost $50,000, thus making space explorations prohibitively expensive.

�It is a path-breaking finding,� Mr. Nair, who was at the helm of the Chandrayaan-I project, said in his K.P. Hormis Memorial Lecture here on Thursday. �It is one of the greatest findings from the space exploration.� (NASA had early this week announced that its radar onboard Indias lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-I had detected vast ice deposits near the moons north pole.)

Antony to inaugurate Coast Guard\'s office complex

Thiruvananthapuram: Defence Minister A.K. Antony will inaugurate the new office complex of the Indian Coast Guard Station at Vizhinjam here on Saturday. Director General of Indian Coast Guard Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra will also be present along with senior officers of the Coast Guard.

During the function, the Defence Minister will unveil the plaque of the new office and address the Coast Guard personnel. The new complex contains state-of-the-art communication facilities to coordinate search and rescue operations at the sea, a press note issued by the Defence wing of the Press Information Bureau said here on Thursday

New music reality show

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Jai Hind Television is launching a musical reality show, �Mappilapattu, from April.

Managing Director M.M. Hassan and Chief Executive Officer K.P. Mohanan told reporters here on Thursday that the one-hour reality show to be aired on the channel from the coming Vishu would blend the melody, aesthetic charm and the rich musical tradition of Malabar.

A segment, �Suruma, would bring the charm of Oppana before the audience.

The programme jury comprised veterans in Mappilapattu V.M. Kutty and V.T. Murali. Ajayan Kozhikode, who proved his worth as a Mappilapattu singer, would anchor the programme directed by Sudhir Ambalapattu. The programme would be shot in Kozhikode. Prizes would be given to all participants.

Chief Editor Sunny Kutty Abraham, director (marketing) Christopher George and director (programmes) Ajith Gopinath were also present.

CBSE class 12 exam: students complain of insufficient time

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Parents of 20 students of class 12 at the Sasraswathy Vidyalaya here have complained to the regional officer of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Chennai, that their wards were not given the stipulated three hours to write the physics paper of the All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) held on March 3.

These 20 students�along with their schoolmates�had written the examination at the Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pangode. As per CBSE guidelines students do not write these examinations in their own school.

The complaint points out that the examination is supposed to begin at 10.30 a.m. and end at 1.30 p.m. The students are permitted to read the question paper from 10.15 to 10.30. However, the distribution of question papers in hall nine at KV Pangode began only at 10.30 a.m. There was also a delay due to a mix up in the distribution of question papers. The students started writing the examination only by 10.50 a.m., the complaint alleges.

The students expressed their grievance about the lost time to the invigilator who, however, did not pay any heed to them, the complaint alleges. At 1.30 p.m. when the final bell rang, he forcibly took away the answer sheets �in spite of their desperate request for getting their lost time compensated,� the complaint reads. A detailed inquiry should be conducted into the incident to ensure that justice is done to the students, the complaint says.

The officiating Principal of KV Pangode Uma Sivaraman told The Hindu that the guidelines of the CBSE relating to the distribution of question papers were followed meticulously in all the examination halls. �There was no deviation from these guidelines at any point of time,� she said.

Principal of Saraswathy Vidyalaya Gouri Nayar said here that she had received the complaint signed by 20 parents and that she would forward it to the regional officer.

New transport fares announced in House

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Bowing to a long-standing demand of bus operators, which assumed immediacy after the Centre increased customs and excise duties on petroleum products in the Union Budget, the State government has revised bus, autorickshaw and taxi fares.

Transport Minister Jose Thettayil announced the revised rates in the Assembly on Thursday through a statement made under Rule 300 of the procedures relating to the conduct of legislative business.

The Bus Owners Joint Action Council, however, rejected the revision, which will come into effect on Monday, on the ground that the government did not address its main demand for revising the concessional rate for students. The council declared that it would go ahead with its already-announced indefinite strike from March 11.

The Minister said the minimum bus fares were being increased from Rs.3.50 to Rs.4 for ordinary, from Rs.4.50 to Rs.5 for fast passenger, from Rs.8 to Rs.10 for super-fast and Rs.10 to Rs.15 for super express services. The minimum fare would continue to be Rs.20 for super de luxe and semi-sleeper services and Rs.30 for both air-conditioned luxury hi-tech and Volvo services.

The per km rate would go up by 3 paise to 55 paise for ordinary, 2 paise to 57 paise for fast passenger, 2 paise to 60 paise for super-fast, 3 paise to 65 paise for super express, 3 paise to 75 paise for super de luxe and semi-sleeper, 5 paise to 90 paise for air-conditioned luxury hi-tech and 5 paise to 110 paise for Volvo services.

The minimum charge of taxi cars would remain Rs.50 and autorickshaws Rs.10. But the distance covered by the minimum charge had been reduced from 4 km to 3 km for taxis and from 1.5 km to 1.25 km for autorickshaws. The per-km charge had been increased by 50 paise to Rs.7.50 for taxis and by the same rate to Rs.6 for autorickshaws.

The Minister said a committee would be set up to conduct a scientific study into the rounding off of fares while fixing the fare stage, the distance which could be covered at the minimum rate and the steps which should be taken for the survival of the industry.

Kalam captivates future scientists

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Exhorting youth to decide on what they wished to be remembered for, the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on Thursday inaugurated �Conscientia 2010 the annual science and technology festival of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) here.

In order to become a developed nation by the year 2020, India should initiate integrated action in sectors like agriculture, food processing, education, health care and information and communication technology.

The 6,00,000 villages in the country would have to be given physical and knowledge connectivity which in turn would ensure economic connectivity, he said.

For accelerating economic growth, the nation had to establish a societal grid consisting of a knowledge grid, a health grid, an e-governance grid and a PURA grid. The IIST could consider inter-connecting institutions which were participating in Conscientia as a first step towards facilitating knowledge sharing and mission mode inter-disciplinary research on issues such as energy, water, climate change and food security, Dr. Kalam, who is also the Chancellor of the IIST, said. The Hindu is a media partner for �Conscientia 2010.

Earlier Dr. Kalam stopped by the hall where the institutes students had exhibited telescopes, robots and an unmanned aerial vehicle which they had designed. �There are spy planes so small that they can do into the house of the enemy and come out,� he told the team that had designed �skyliner an �autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle made of balsa wood and styrofoam.

He also examined an amphibious robot, a personal transport vehicle and reflector telescopes designed by IIST students. On being introduced to a professor of the IIST, Dr. Kalam asked her whether dark matter was not a fascinating phenomenon. �Ninety-eight per cent of the universe they say is made up of dark matter. Still no one has seen it,� he pointed out.

Kerala achieves growth rate of 6.98%

Despite fears of the global recession having an adverse impact on Keralas economy, the state has registered GDP growth rate of 6.98 per cent, slightly higher than national growth rate of 6.7 per cent, according to the states economic review.Though there was an apprehension that Keralas growth rate would be low in 2009-10 due to world economic crisis, \"things certainly have not been as bad as feared at one stage, the Economic Review-2009, tabled in the assembly today, said.Continuation of capitalist crisis and signing of Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN countries by the Centre are the two specific features that would have a bearing on the Kerala economy during 2010-11, the review pointed out.With inflationary recession to affect the world economy and India in particular in the coming months, the review predicts a bleak employment prospect, subdued prices for cash crops and escalating prices for foodgrains in the state.Referring to the fiscal position of the state, the review said Kerala was on the path of fiscal consolidation since 2004-05 and fiscal position has witnessed significant improvement in the recent years.Total revenue receipts are estimated to increase by Rs 3641.72 crore in 2009-10 as against Rs.3405.39 crore last year. Total revenue estimated for the current year is Rs 28,154 crore.However, a major concern of Kerala is its debt burden, which was Rs 67,180 crore in 2009-10, up from Rs 15,700.27 crore in 1998-99.