Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lakhs witness Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur: Lakhs of people thronged the Thekkinkad Maidan in the heart of the city on Saturday to soak up the joys of Thrissur Pooram.

Religious ardour mingled with carnival spirit to whip up an event that honoured tradition and propped up a culture of camaraderie unique to the land.

Pooram offered something for everyone. Animal-lovers never got tired of watching their favourite pachyderms weaving through the crowds while drumbeat pounded out a pulsating rhythm. You could not walk through the streets without bumping into herds of elephants, their ears flapping as though they were keeping the beat for the ensembles.

For aficionados of ensembles, there was plenty to choose from � Panchavadyam led by Annamanada Parameswara Marar; Pandimelam with Mattannur Sankarankutty at the helm; and a thunderous, free-floating Ilanjithara Melam, staged near an Ilanji tree in Sree Vadakkunathan temple by veteran Peruvanam Kuttan Marar and his assistants. Each ensemble had a few hundred drummers and pipers, all shirtless and covered in a sheen of sweat as the music worked up to a crescendo.

To the joy of fireworks enthusiasts, the sky shimmered with heat and light as tonnes of explosives went off.

Tremendous loss of Biodiversity if Athirapally Project happens

TPURAM: Even as there are arguments for proposed Athirapally hydroelectric project against the backdrop of projected power-shortage that the State will face, Kerala State Biodiversity Board has indicated that the value of biodiversity at the region that may immerse under water once the project is materialized is more than Rs 500 crore per year.

Athirapally hydroelectric project aims at generating 163 MW. The expense calculated is Rs 385 crore. Such a project demanding huge amount will in no way be a substitute for the existing forest and water ecosystems.

This 500 crore rupees is considered as the expense that would have to be met through services such as the distribution of drinking water, irrigation, dumping of waste materials, controlling water erosion, raw materials, food production and the availability of traditional resources.

The State Biodiversity Board in its note to the State government stated that this amount is calculated as per the criterion recognized globally put forward by �Nature�, a world famous British scientific journal.

KSEB may hike power surcharge

TPURAM: The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has decided to approach the Electricity Regulatory Commission to report its Rs 105 crore debt formed by buying power from last October to December. Hence, it is almost certain that KSEB may recommend hiking power surcharge across the State.

The Commission had announced a new condition that the Board should submit its recommendation once in every three months with records on the expenses of buying power by taking into account the price of fuels. According to this condition, the Board has reckoned its expenses from October to December.

The Board is mulling to compensate its indebtedness from the consumers by increasing the surcharge

Virendra Sharma nominated for V.K. Krishna Menon award

TPURAM: The V.K.Krishna Menon Institute has nominated Virendra Sharma MP for The V.K.Krishna Menon Award 2010. This is in recognition of the huge contribution made by Hon. Sharma to the economic, political, and social and advancement of the deprived sections of the community as well as his contribution to community cohesion and civil liberties within the UK.

The award will be presented at a function hosted by the V.K. Krishna Menon Institute later in the year and he will be delivering The V.K.Krishna Menon Memorial Lecture

Sreenath�s body cremated

TPURAM: Popular Malayalam film and TV actor Sreenath�s dead body has been cremated in Thycaud Shanthi Kavadam. His body was brought home at his residence in Thiruvananthapuram, Friday.

Sreenath was found dead in a hotel room Friday morning, police said.

His body was discovered by the hotel staff at about 8.30 am, a police official said. Police have not ruled out the possibility of suicide as his wrist was found slashed, he added.

Sreenath had been in Kothamangalam in Ernakulam district for the past two days. His body was kept in VJT hall to pay homage.

Man succumbs to injuries

TPURAM: An old man, who was injured after a car struck him, died at the medial college hospital. He was struck by a maruti swift car Friday night on the Pettah-Pallimukku road while he was crossing. The identity of the man has not been ascertained. The body has been shifted to the mortuary of the hospital.

IUML to submit \"chargesheet\" against LDF Govt

KOZHIKODE: The Indian Union Muslim League Saturday said it would submit a chargesheet against the ruling Left Democratic Fronts failure to initiate any development activities during its four year tenure.

IUML has received overwhelming public support in its campaign against the misrule of the LDF Government and will submit a chargesheet at a public function here on April 26, party State Secretary M K Muneer said.

Addressing a press meet, he said Kerala was witnessing an unprecedented situation where Cabinet members are levelling serious allegations against the government and Chief Minister.

He said the statement of senior IPS officer Tomin J Thanchankary, suspended for allegedly flouting rules by going abroad, that the action against him was part of factional feud within CPI-M, should be viewed with all seriousness.

There was no clear cut agenda on developmental issues as schemes like the Smart City, Vallarpadam freight container terminal and Vizhinjham port project had not taken off despite the LDF Ministry completing four years, he alleged

Elephant collapses during Pooram

THRISSUR: An elephant identified as Erattupetta Ayyappan collapsed during the Ilanjithara melam, a unique event held during the Thrissur Pooram.

The incident happened during the procession at Paramekavu. Doctors attended on him said the elephant collapsed due to severe heat.

It got up after cold water was poured on its body and was later shifted to a safe place.

The melam was stopped for some time.

Armed sandalwood smuggling gang busted in Kerala

IDUKKI: An armed sandalwood smuggling gang was busted Saturday in Keralas Idukki district with the arrest of five persons, forest officials said.

This is the first case of an armed gang being busted in forests in Kerala, Divisional Forest Officer N T Sajan said.

Acting on a tip off, a forest team surrounded the gang, comprising five members, inside Nachivayal sandalwood reserves in Marayur forests.

The gang threatened to open fire and whipped out knives, but were overpowered, sources said.

A country-made gun, ammunition, hatchets, barbed belts and saw-blades used to fell trees were seized, he said.

We suspect that the gang has inter-state connections, considering their preparedness and modus operandi, Sajan said.

The same gang is suspected to have attempted to chop off sandalwood trees in the area about a month back. Their attempt was foiled but they managed to escape.

India\'s first Marina commissioned

KOCHI: Giving a new impetus to Marine leisure activity, Indias first World class Marina, built at a cost of Rs 8.21 crore, was Saturday commissioned by Union Defence Minister A K Antony here.

In his inaugural address, Antony said though the project was put in cold storage for some time, it has been completed within two years on a war footing.

Tourism sector provides immense opportunities which should be tapped...The state needs to have better infrastructure, especially good roads and waste disposal facilities, which would go a long way in attracting tourists to the state, he said.

Kerala Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the Marina has opened new doors to Indian tourism and would attract high sea travellers.

During the last one year, 50 luxury ships have touched Kochi, he said.

The Kochi International Marina has been designed and developed by Ocean Blue Marinas.

Shashi Tharoor gets a warm welcome in Thiruvananthapuram

TPURAM: Former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Saturday arrived in his home constituency and said that he feels powerful on witnessing such a big support of people.

On arrival, Tharoor was accorded a warm welcome by his supporters. Large number of people gathered near the airport to express their support to the former minister.

This is Tharoors first visit to his home state after resigning from the Union Cabinet.

I am very happy after coming here and receiving all your support. Seeing your support makes me feel powerful, said Tharoor.

Addressing Congress workers after arriving at the airport he said, I am glad that my resignation has led to thorough probe into the corrupt practices in IPL and many truths are coming out. I joined politics to serve the people and I will continue doing that. I am happy to be back among my people. You are my strength. I used my personal contacts to work in the interest of Kerala.

Tharoor was taken to the District Congress Committee (DCC) office where he addressed Congress workers drawn from Thiruvananthapuram district

Caparisoned elephants steal the show at Thrissur Pooram

THRISSUR: Thirty elephants vying with each other in a colourful display of umbrellas, including some that looked like a seven-storied building, Saturday enthralled lakhs of people who gathered at the Thrissur Pooram, considered the mother of all festivals in Kerala.

The two most important events in the 30-hour-long Thrissur Pooram include the parading of 15 caparisoned elephants each between the Krishna Temple at Thiruvambadi and the Devi Temple at Paramekkavu.

They vie with each other in Kudamattam, a colourful display of umbrellas that are raised by the mahout sitting atop the elephant.

Fifteen people stand besides every elephant and hand over the umbrellas to the mahout. The beauty of this is the design of the umbrellas, said veteran elephant expert Jacob Cheeran, who has seen more than 50 Poorams.

The colour and design of the umbrellas are top secret and very few people know about it till they are raised, he added

Karunakaran names daughter Padmaja political heir

TPURAM: Veteran politician K Karunakaran, who has rejoined the Congress, Saturday named his daughter, Padmaja Venugopal, his political heir.

This was announced at a meeting of well-wishers of the veteran at his house here. A resolution was read out saying that Padmaja will be the political heir of Karunakaran.

The meeting was attended by Congress leaders close to Karunakaran.

Though the meeting was held at his residence, Karunakaran did not personally attend the conclave.

Reacting to the development sharply, Karunakarans son K Muraleedharan, who is still under suspension from the Congress, rubbished reports that his father had endorsed Padmaja as his political heir.

The Aurangazebs of our times, who try to usurp power by holding father captive and doing away with siblings, will not survive for long, Muraleedharan told reporters in Kozhikode.

He said Karunakaran was still healthy enough to decide who should be his political successor.

Just to get power, the father has been taken a hostage, but this cannot go on for long, said Muraleedharan.

With the latest development, Padmaja seems to have won the battle between the siblings.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, asked about the renewed factionalism in the state unit of the party, said it was best that everyone stood united.

If we are united then we can create wonders. All have to introspect if we want to perish or to reach newer heights, he said.

Tharoor Looking Forward To Thorough Probe

Ex- minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor has tweeted that he is looking forward for a thorough inquiry into the Twenty20 cricket tournament. The minister had to resign from his post over his alleged links to the Kochi Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise.

Tharoor tweeted late Friday, Looking forward to a thorough inquiry into the IPL. If my resignation leads to real reform, it will be worthwhile. Our cricket should be clean.

He added that he now looks forward to going back to his constituency in Kerala and working there.Its been a rough week but am looking forward to returning to Thiruvananthapuram. Lots of work needs to be done in the constituency.

He also replied to queries on Twitter. To one who wanted to know how much money he had made from IPL, Tharoor said, �None, not one paisa. Thats the point. Just wanted a team for Kerala.

I have not done anything wrong: Tharoor tells his supporters

HIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Shashi Tharoor who quit as Minister of state for External Affairs in the wake of IPL controversy today insisted he has not done anything wrong and that he used his office only for the benefit of his constituency and state.

I havent done anything wrong and nobody is going to believe the allegations hurled at me, Tharoor told party workers as he arrived here on his first visit to his Lok Sabha constituency after being caught in the IPL storm.

I have used my office and personal influence only for the benefit of my constituency Thiruvananthapuram and the people of Kerala, Tharoor, whose exit came over the IPL Kochi franchise controversy, said.

DR. Manmohan Singh Inaugurates National Panchayati Raj Day

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today called on the States to take more steps for strengthening the Panchayati Raj Institutions so that the Panchayats in country could play a more effective role in inclusive development and providing access to the masses in the Government programmes. Dr. Manmohan Singh was inaugurating the The National Panchayati Raj Day Function at Vigyan Bhawan New Delhi Today.

Bouquets, brickbats greet Tharoor in Kerala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Waving cricket bats, hundreds of Congress activists gave a roaring welcome to former minister of state for external affairs Shahshi Tharoor as he arrived here Saturday on his first visit to his home state after quitting over the IPL row.

K Manju to launch two new films

April 24, 2010: Producer K. Manju has just finished filming two major films Shankar I.P.S and Kichcha Huchcha, which will be releasing in May and June respectively. But the director has no time to rest. He will be launching two new films in the coming few months.

Shankar I.P.S., which stars Vijay and Raagini and is directed by M.S. Ramesh, will be releasing on May 7 or May 14 while Kichcha Huchcha, which has completed its shoot except for a days patch work from Sudeep, will be readied for release in June.

K. Manju will now be launching two films shortly. The first film will be a bilingual titled Shikari, which will be directed by award winning director Abhay Simha where Mammotty will be playing the lead. The heroine for the movie is yet to be finalized.

The second film is still entitled but it is based on the Tamil film Charlie Chaplin, which is directed by Shakthi Chidambaram. The remakes of the film starring Sivaji Prabhu and Prabhudeva in the lead in Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam have been super hits. The movie�s Hindi version No Entry was made by film producer Boney Kapoor. Manju has decided to depend on the narrative of the Hindi film for which he has already selected some of the leading stars. Ramesh Arvind, Sudeep and Diganth will be playing the lead roles while the heroine is yet to be chosen. Manju is now looking for a suitable director for the film.

I was beaten up, says train passenger

A Kerala-bound railway passenger alleged Friday that three security personnel assaulted him at the Thivim station but that police refused to register a complaint.

Issac Louis said a Goa policeman and two Railway Protection Force (RPF) constables thrashed him Thursday when he protested the way they searched his bags for liquor, littering his clothes in the process.

(When) I complained to the station master (Yamini Karapurkar), they got angry and beat me up, Louis said. He said he was hit on his eyes and private parts.

When I complained to the police at Mapusa, they refused to register my complaint, asking me to contact the railway police station more than 40 km away, he said.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Three-day dharna ends

KOLLAM: A three-day dharna staged by electricity workers and officers at the Power House compound here demanding a new pay agreement for the workers and the dropping of any moves to convert the KSEB into a company concluded on Friday.

The dharna was under the banner of the AITUC affiliated Kerala Electricity Workers Federation and the Kerala Electricity Officers Federation.

Train frequency increased

PALAKKAD: The frequency of Train No. 2997/2998 Tirunelveli-Hapa-Tirunelveli Express will be increased to twice a week from a weekly service with effect from May 4.

Train No.2997 Tirunelveli-Hapa Express will now run on Tuesdays in addition to Mondays. In the return direction, Train No. 2998 Hapa-Tirunelveli Express will run on Saturdays in addition to Fridays.

Music concert

PALAKKAD: A Carnatic music concert by Trichur brothers Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan will be organised by the Palghat Fine Arts Society here on April 25. They will be accompanied by Mullaivasal G. Chandramouli on violin, Trichur R. Mohan on mridangam and D.V. Venkatasubramaniyam on ghatom

T\'PURAM: Kerala government had set apart Rs One Crore this year for diversifying the training programme for prospective emigrants to foreign countries, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said on Friday. Speaking after distributing certificates to the new batch of job-seekers who got trained by `ROOTS,\' an organisation under the Non-Resident Keralite Affairs (NORKA) department, he said the training would equip job-seekers with new skills and help them survive the competition in Gulf and other foreign countries. The government had evolved several welfare measures for Non-Resident Keralites through the non-resident Keralite (NRK) Welfare Board. NORKA cells under various district collectorates had been strengthened enabling NRK kin to get official help to settle their relatives\' problems abroad. NORKA-ROOTS would also start a recruitment drive in a professional manner along with the training programmes, the Chief Minister said.

Much prior to Vijays 50th film Sura would hit screens, the actor has already completed the first schedule for Kavalkaran. Followed by Vettaikaran, Vijay has once again chosen the title of yesteryear MGR film Kavalkaran. The actor reasserts that choosing the yesteryear titles of superstars� films gains more prominence for his films. As known earlier, Kavalkaran is a remake of Malayalam film Bodyguard (Dileep and Nayantara in lead roles). The film is directed by Siddique and marks the comeback of Asin in Tamil film industry. The first schedule has been shot across the locales of Kumbakonam, Kaaraikudi and Pollachi. According to the buzz, yesteryear actors Raj Kiran and Roja seem to have been signed for this film for enacting the role of Asin�s parents. Followed by the grand success, Ghilli and Kuruvi, music director Vidyasagar has scored music for this Vijay�s film.

NORKA Training programmesto be diversified: Kerala CM

TPURAM: Kerala government had set apart Rs One Crore this year for diversifying the training programme for prospective emigrants to foreign countries, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said on Friday.

Speaking after distributing certificates to the new batch of job-seekers who got trained by `ROOTS, an organisation under the Non-Resident Keralite Affairs (NORKA) department, he said the training would equip job-seekers with new skills and help them survive the competition in Gulf and other foreign countries.

The government had evolved several welfare measures for Non-Resident Keralites through the non-resident Keralite (NRK) Welfare Board. NORKA cells under various district collectorates had been strengthened enabling NRK kin to get official help to settle their relatives problems abroad.

NORKA-ROOTS would also start a recruitment drive in a professional manner along with the training programmes, the Chief Minister said.

Hydel project: Kerala Minister alleges `conspiracy\'

TPURAM: A Kerala Minister has alleged there was conspiracy behind the move to deny clearance to proposed Athirappally hydel project in Thrissur district after Union Environment Ministry sought fresh explanation from the State Electricity board (KSEB) on the areas biodiversity.

In a statement here,Electricity Minister A K Balan on Friday said he had sent letters to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking their intervention on the issue.

Balan alleged that Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had been making unilateral statements that his ministry had decided not to clear the project.

The Expert Appraisal Committees letter to KSEB saying more studies should be conducted on the biodiversity of the region itself shows that no final decision has been taken by the Ministry on the issue, Balan said.

Even before the Expert Committees decision, the Union Minister had instructed the Ministry to cancel the earlier clearance given to the project during the previous UPA rule, citing reports of NGOs and Environmental fora, he said.

Security along backwater Tourists spots need to be tightened

KOCHI: Security along the Tourist resorts in the backwaters of Kerala need to be strengthened, a top Naval officer said on Friday.

This is a new area we have gone as part of the exercise, Commodore M R Ajay Kumar, Naval Officer-in-charge (Kerala) said briefing reporters about the just concluded Triton-2 series of exercises along the Kerala coast.

The first exercise was held in October last.

We know about our strengths and it is equally important to know our weaknesses, Ajay Kumar, also Commanding Officer of INS Venduruthy, said adding the three-day exercise from April 19 had been successful.

What we wanted to achieve, we have achieved, he said.

Two such exercises will be held every year-- along the Kerala and Lakshadweep coasts. The Lakshadweep exercise would be held in July, he said.

Coastguard ship Lakshmibai, INS Bagaram, INS Sutlej, Navys Dornier and Chetak aircraft and UAVs were among those which participated in the exercise in which at keast 1000 personnel drawn from Indian Navy, Coastguard, Fisheries department, Police Customs, Port and various state agencies took part

CRPF trainee struck dead by lightining, 15 hurt

KANNUR:A Central Reserve Police Force trainee jawan was struck dead by lightning and 15 others injured at the CRPF camp near here on Friday.

Police identified the deceased as Pankaj Kumar, who hailed from Uttar Pradesh.

The incident happened while the trainees were undergoing physical training at the Peringom camp.

The injured had been admitted to the Medical College hospital at Pariyaram in the district.

The condition of the injured was not serious,police said.

Fisherman drowns in sea

KASARAGOD: A fisherman drowned when his fibre boat capsized in the Arabian Sea off Adukkathbayal beach near here on Friday, police said.

Four others, who were on board, managed to save themselves, they said.

They had put to sea this morning.

Thrissur spruced up for Pooram Feast

THRISSUR: The city is spruced up for the 212th year of Thrissur Pooram which falls on April 24 and the 134th year of the Feast of Saint Josephs Shrine at Pavaratty near Guruvayur in the district to be held the same day and the next, third Saturday and Sunday after Easter every year.

Pooram and the Feast are the two important religious and cultural events of the district with the scintillating phantasmagoria of pyrotechnics display along with a grand spectacle of sound, colours, music and pageantry.

The sample fireworks display held recently in connection with Pooram was witnessed by a large number of people including foreign nationals.

A large number of people had visited the exhibition of elephants accoutrements organised by the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu devaswoms, the main promoters of the Thrissur Pooram over two centuries.

Doctors on strike in MCH

TPURAM: Post graduate students and house surgeons are staging a strike at the medical college hospital in protest against the attempt to manhandle a lady doctor by relatives of a patient.

The clash started after a person seriously injured in an accident at Kollam was brought to the hospital last night. He in an unconscious state became violent and the lady doctor on duty slapped him. Relatives of the patient tried to manhandle her for denial of proper treatment and took him to a private hospital.

Film-serial actor Sreenath found dead

KOCHI: Popular Malayalam film and TV actor Sreenath was found dead in a hotel room this morning, police said.

His body was discovered by the hotel staff at about 8.30 am, a police official said.

Police have not ruled out the possibility of suicide as his wrist was found slashed, he added.

Sreenath had been in Kothamangalam in Ernakulam, around 250 km from Thiruvananthapuram, for the past two days and was shooting for Malayalam film Shikar starring Mohanlal.

Sreenath, who was in his early 50s, began his film career in the 1980s but faded out after an initial burst of movies. After a hiatus, he went on to become a popular television actor though he continued to act in films occasionally.

His popular films include Salini Ente Kootukari, Ethu Njangalude Katha, Oru CBI Dairy Kurippu and Kireedom, among others.

Sreenaths last film was Kerala Caf�, a movie that had 10 short films woven around a common theme, which released late last year.

At the start of his film career, he worked with actress Shantikrishna in a few hit movies and later married her. But the marriage didnt work and the two parted ways.

He wed again a few years back and has a nine-year-old son.

CAT stays suspension of Tomin Thachankary

KOCHI: The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Friday stayed the suspension of Tomin Thachankary.

The government suspended him from service on the basis of an inquiry report of the DGP that he had breached service rules by going abroad without the permission from the government.

The CAT directed the government to inform them by April 28 if they have any clarification on the stay. In the order, the court has asked the government to decide on the post to be given to the official.

Court allows CBI to conduct further probe in Lavalin case

KOCHI: A special court on Friday permitted the CBI to conduct further investigation in a graft case in which CPI (M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is an accused.

The case relates to award of contracts to renovate three hydel projects to Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin in 1998 when Vijayan was Power minister.

Judge K P Jyothindranath allowed the CBI to carry on the investigation while dismissing a petition filed by Crime magazine editor T P Nanda Kumar.

The court also issued summons to S N C Lavalin and a non-bailable warrant to Claus Trendl, the vice president of the company.

The petitioner had raised several allegations against the accused in the case, particularly Vijayan, who is the seventh accused.

When the case came up, three accused -- K Mohanachandran, Siddharthan Menon and A Francis were present. Vijayan, who is in Dubai, was not present in the court.

The court directed the CBI prosecutor to furnish the office address of the Lavalin Company in India, if any.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Protest mounting against four-lane corridor project

KOZHIKODE: The vigilante committee that is opposing the plan to build a four-lane corridor on the Kinalur-Malikkadavu route has alleged a misleading campaign to drum up public support for the project was going on even though the satellite town project for which the four-lane road project was originally mooted had been abandoned. The committee alleged that the four-lane road project would be used as an excuse to take over land and properties of farmers and other poor people. The four-lane project was proposed to facilitate the satellite town project at Kilanur that was proposed to be established by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) with the support of the Malaysian government

Explosives seized from two places in Malappuram

MALAPPURAM: The Kerala Police on seized explosives in a pre-dawn raid conducted on Thursday from Pandikkad and Thenjippalam.

The raid was conducted by Pandikkad CI and others. 12.30 kg ammonium nitrate, 22 metre safety fuse and 100 detonators were seized from a quarry owned by Hydose. A case has charged against him.

UDF meet tomorrow at Kochi

TPURAM: The high power meet of the United Democratic Front (UDF) will be held tomorrow at Eranakulam Rajiv Gandhi indoor Stadium at 6.30 pm.

State ruled by quotation teams, says Gowri Amma

KOLLAM: Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithy (JSS) leader K R Gowri Amma Thursday said the State is being ruled by quotation teams. The government has lost its face of working class or of the Left. It behaves irresponsibly towards the citizens. There is no talk in between ministers. Each department does not know what to do. Party and Chief Minister are on two sides. The CPI (M) is teaching the people the lesson that Communism is on the path of capitalism, Gowri lampooned.

Thrissur Pooram tomorrow

THRISSUR: The Stage is set ready for the smooth conduct of the Thrissur Pooram in the cultural district tomorrow.

The centuries old festival will attract large number of people from across the country besides foreigners because of its parading elephants, colourful parasol exchanges between two temple, Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu devaswoms

Kerala Legislative Assembly Day festival on 26 and 27

TPURAM: Kerala Legislative Assembly Day festival will be conducted on April 26 and 27. The festival programmes will be inaugurated by Chief Minster V S Achuthanandan at Banquet Hall at Assembly complex

Oommen Chandy holds talks with Karunakaran

TPURAM: Opposition leader Oommen Chandy on Thursday held talks with senior Congress leader K. Karunakaran.

The meeting was held at Karnunakaran�s residence here in the morning. They are believed to have discussed the party�s organisational polls.

The meeting comes in the wake of the warning issued by the party�s high command against the meetings organised by the I-Group and the A-Group.

Train services restored

TPURAM: Train services Thrissur- Ernakulam sector was restored in the wee hours Thursday. Some long distance trains are running late Thursday and some local trains stands canceled. Railway authorities informed that services are expected to regain normalcy by Thursday evening.

Trains are now operating using both the tracks in the sector and the present delay is a continuation of the re-scheduling of timings which was implemented on Wednesday.

Normal traffic got effected as a goods train de-railed at Puthukkad, near Thrissur on Tuesday. A good section of the track was damaged in the accident and repair works where in full swing.

Malayalee student commits suicide in Bangalore

BANGALORE: A Malayalee student was found dead by hanging in his hostel room in Bangalore here on Thursday. The deceased is Mithun (19), second year Electronics Diploma student at Technical Training foundation in Electronic City, Nettoor. Mithun hails from Wayanad.

Students took out a march against college management inside the campus. They alleged that Mithin committed suicide out of mental persecution from College authorities.

Mithuns relatives have complained to the police on his death. The dead body was carried away to his native place after post mortem at Victoria Hospital

Varkala Radhakrishnan injured in accident

TPURAM: Former MP Varkala Radhakrishnan has been injured in a road mishap on Thursday morning. He was hit by a milk van when he was on his morning walk.

He has been admitted to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital. The injuries are not serious.

Scene set for Mani-Joseph merger

TPURAM: Setting a nurtured platform for crystallization in Kerala Politics, the Kerala Congress under the blessings of P J Joseph has moved its �pawns of mergence with that led by K M Mani group.

It is learnt from reliable sources that the mergence is mediated by some bishops. Although there had been move to merge Kerala Congress (Joseph) into Kerala Congress (Mani) even before Lok Sabha elections, it became a standstill. But the leaders of the two parties have recently met unofficially to discuss on the merger.

The formula put forward is that K M Mani would become the chairman of the party to be formed after the merger; P J Joseph would be its working chairman.

At first the faction led by P C Thomas inside the Joseph group was dissenting against the merger, but things have now become favourable.

It has been a long cherished wish of some Christian religious heads that all the Kerala Congress parties should merge together.

The Kerala Congress parties led by Mani, Balakrishna Pillai, T M Jacob and P C George had earlier tried to get combined, and even a State committee meeting was held at Kottayam to realize this. But the meeting was unsuccessful after a quarrel arose over the post of convenor. It was after this meeting that the religious heads started procedures to merge other groups with Kerala Congress (Mani).

If the Mani-Joseph merger takes place, then the resulting party will become the second powerful one in the UDF side. Then P J Joseph, who at present is the Minister for Public Works, will have to resign from the Left Democratic Front.

P Rajeev appointed chairman of RS assurance committee

NEW DELHI: P Rajeev, MP, has been appointed as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha assurance committee. Rajya Sabha president Hameed Ansari appointed him to the post. Rajeev has been made a member in the General Purpose Committee of Rajya Sabha also.

India\'s Reliance Comm. launches voice portal with kid\'s stories

Indian telecom operator RELIANCE COMMUNICATIONS (BSE:532712) on Tuesday said it has launched a voice portal that will enable users to listen to popular childrens stories on their mobile handsets. The voice portal will offer some of the most popular stories and users can also opt these tales as their caller tunes, RCOM said in a statement.

* Mobile customers would be charged a browsing fee of Rs 3 per minute, it added and they would be charged Rs 10 per tune if they choose to set one of these tales as their caller tunes.

Volcanic ash puts strain on supply

The grounding of aeroplanes by a volcanic ash cloud raised concerns over medicines supply this week, and pharmacists have reported an influx of queries from travellers.

As C+D went to press, there were no drugs shortages reported as a result of the eruption in Iceland, but the RPSGB warned that if flight restrictions continued for weeks or months there could be problems with medicines transported by air.

The vast majority of medicines used in the UK are transported by ferry or freight from mainland Europe, so air restrictions are not expected to cause major problems.

Regarding medicines transported by air, an RPSGB spokesperson said: �[There is] a system in place which will allow regional transfers to be made if medicine shortages are experienced, where drugs can be transported from one region to another to satisfy need.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nafed to export food products to Gulf and Europe

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India will enter into the Gulf and European markets with food products catering to the Indian diaspora.

We have decided to source India-specific products, process and package and export them to the Gulf and Europe. We will be sending quality products at affordable prices, Nafed Managing Director C V Ananda Bose said.

Nafed will export Kerala-specific products to the Gulf using the Kochi Port, as a large number of Keralaites live in the region. The first shipment is likely in two months.

The cooperative was in advanced stages of negotiation with traders to market India-specific products in the European market, Bose said, adding that depending upon the demand and requirement, a variety of products would be chosen and sent from different parts of the country.

We want to cater to both retail chains and food service companies in these two markets, Bose said.

Mass rally to welcome Tharoor back home

People from across the social spectrum will greet the former MoS at the Tpuram airport on his first visit to constituency since ouster; the beleaguered MP will also meet key Congressmen to drum up support

Though eased out of office on account of the Kochi scandal, Dr Shashi Tharoor, the erstwhile Minister of State for External Affairs, will have a 1,000-odd crowd of Malaya-lees from across the social spectrum waiting to welcome him in his home state when his Indian Airlines flight touches down at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on Saturday.

Coca-Cola and Its No. 1 Anti-Fan

Into every shareholders meeting, some rabble-rousers must fall. Sometimes, its the same one again and again. On Wednesday, for the seventh time in as many years, Amit Srivastava, of the India Resource Center, plans to speak up at a Coca-Cola shareholders meeting in Atlanta to draw attention to what he says is a pattern of water over-use in India.

Mr. Srivastava has been on Coke�s case since at least 2002. This year he�s got some fresh material. In March a government-appointed committee in Kerala recommended that the state claim the equivalent of $48 million in environmental damages from Coca-Cola India. The state government shut down a bottling plant there in 2004 after still-unproven complaints that the facility was using up local groundwater supplies.

Malayalam film Industry crisis continue, exhibitors join to shut theatres from May 1

Thiruvananthapuram, 22nd April: The Malayalam film industry, riding past a string of box office crashes, With the Kerala Film Producers Association already on boycott, another important stakeholder in the entertainment industry the Exhibitors Wednesday threatened that if the present crisis is not solved, they would close down all theatres from May 1

\'Samman Rashi\' presented to Sanskrit scholar P K Jose

THRISSUR: In recognition of his efforts to propagate Sanskrit language, 84-year-old scholar and writer P K Jose has been awarded a yearly grant of Rs 24,000 for lifetime.

The grant is under the scheme of Samman Rashi to eminent Sanskrit Pandits who are indigent.

A communication received by Jose from the Deputy Rgistrar of the Rahtriya Sanskrit Sansthan under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, said the Samman Rashi would also continue in favour of the widow of the recipient until her death.

Jose had served for the erstwhile Sahitya Deepika Sanskrit College in the district (now Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan Guruvayur, Campus), founded by his late father, P T Kuriakose Master, for over 43 years.

8500 litres of spirit seized

THRISSUR: About 8500 litres of spirit was seized at Kodakara in Thrissur district Wednesday and one person has been arrested in this connection.

The contraband was being transported to Angamaly from Palakkad without valid documents, the sources said.

The driver of the vehicle was arrested.

28 Sacred Groves to be protected

KOCHI: In an effort at protecting and preserving them, 28 Kavus (sacred Groves) in Kerala would be brought under a Centrally Sponsored scheme.

Rapid urbanisation and a steadily growing population have placed these kavus, which are oasis of biodiversity, under tremendous pressure. Apart from bio diversity, the kavus provide habitat to animals and birds, including snakes.

Kerala Forest Minister, Binoy Vishwam, will inaugurate the state level launch of the scheme-- Intensification of Forest Management-Protection and Conservation of Sacred Groves on Apr 23 at Iringole Kavu at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Sujit R, told reporters here

During the first year, the 28 kavus belonging to Devaswoms and Trusts would be protected. Another set of kavus would be selected for protection in the coming two years, he said.

The scheme supports protection and conservation efforts

Malayalam film industry needs new blood: Sibi Malayil

KOCHI: The crisis-ridden Malayalam Film Industry needs new blood in various fields, including acting and direction, well-known film director Sibi Malayil Wednesday said.

There is need for new directors, technicians, actors in Malayalam cinema. New promising directors, who venture into the field, are not being given enough encouragement, Malayil told reporters here.

In Malayalam, there are very few good artistes, unlike in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. They have 10-20 good actors to choose from, he said asking the media to promote enterprising directors and young actors.

Malayil, said T D Dasan STD VI B, by debutant director Mohan Raghavan, was different from routine films which should be encouraged. Very few Malayalam films are becoming a hit now. This is a film which is different and has received positive response from the audience, he said.

The Malayalam film industry needs these types of films to survive, he said adding the film had a unique screenplay and a different treatment.

Hindu outfits in Kerala plan \"Hindu Parliament\"

TPURAM: Seeking to foster unity among various sections of the Hindus, several community outfits in Kerala have joined hands to call a Hindu Parliament next month to discuss issues concerning the community.

According to the organisers, a reform proclamation convention would be held here on April 23 ahead of the larger meet planned for May 23.

This is an initiative to bring together various Hindu outifts on a single platform to address the common concerns of the community, the organisers said in a release Wednesday.

A Parliament is a form where you can take up issues, debate them, strive to arrive at conclusions acceptable to all, and, on occasions agree to disagree. The Hindu Parliament is also an idea like this, they said.

Head of Travancore Royal house Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma would be the Parliament Chairman and tantris (traditional high priests) of Sabarimala and Guruvayur temples its patrons. The meet would be inaugurated by Udupis Pejawar Mutts Viswsa Theertha Samigal

Keralite dies in Abudhabi

ABUDHABI: A 33-year-old youth was killed and three seriously injured, when a pickup van overturned at the Seer Baniyas Island in Abudhabi. The dead identified as Vijaya Kumar, son of Vijayadharan Pillai of Kollam, was working as a technician in Wade Adams Company in Dubai.

P Prabhakaran new chief secretary of state

TPURAM: The state government has decided to appoint P Prabhakaran as the new Chief Secretary of the state, said Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan.

Briefing on weekly cabinet meeting to reporters here, he said the cabinet had given its approval to give charge of Chief Secretary to Prabhakaran, as incumbent Neela Gangadharan was deputed to the Centre.

VS also said the cabinet decided to exempt stamp and registration duties on land acquired for the proposed coach factory at Palakkad.

TN nominates representative to committee on dam issue

CHENNAI: Reversing its stand not to participate in the five-member empowered committee constituted by Supreme Court to resolve the long pending dispute on the Mullaperiyar dam with Kerala, Tamil Nadu government Wednesday nominated former Chief Justice of India Justice A R Lakshmanan in the committee.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi made this announcement in the state assembly Wednesday. The Apex Court, while hearing petitions by Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments on the dam issue, had constituted a committee headed by Justice A S Anand, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to resolve the dispute.

The committee consisted of two representatives of the Centre, one each from Tamil Nadu and Kerala besides Justice Anand. Kerala government has already nominated Justice K T Thomas, former Supreme Court Judge, as its nominee

Train services disrupted as good train derails

TPURAM: Train services were disrupted all over the state following the derailment of a goods train between Puthukad and Irinjalakuda in Thrissur.

Five trains have been cancelled and four partially cancelled. The time of four trains has been re-scheduled.

Passengers had a tough time following the cancellation of trains and the trains which operated were delayed for hours. Passengers were stranded in many stations without knowing about the cancellation.

The goods train which derailed was carrying wheat. Crane of 140 tonne weight brought from Erode is trying to lift the wagons. Authorities hope that the train services will resume by evening.

State to reply on governor\'s address controversy

TPURAM: The state government will soon reply to Governor R S Gavais letter on allegations by the opposition that his address to the assembly in February had not been approved by the cabinet, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said Wednesday.

Gavai had last week written to Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan seeking a clarification after a group of opposition legislators met him to point out what they termed a serious lapse on the part of the cabinet.

They said the cabinet failed to approve the address before Gavai delivered it in the assembly Feb 24.

See, we checked and found out that there have been precedents in the past and if the chief minister puts his signature, it is as good as the cabinet has approved it. There are no issues in this and we will soon write to the governor, Achuthanandan said.

VS justifies call for hartal on April 27

TPURAM: Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan Wednesday justified the Left parties call for a hartal in the state on April 27 to protest Centres failure to contain price rise of essential commodities.

The call for hartal is a protest against price rise that has made the life of people miserable, Achuthanandan, a veteran CPI-M leader, said when asked whether the hartal itself caused misery to people.

It is a protest by people to express their solidarity.

Only people who have money will ask questions like this that hartal call against price rise is a misery, he added.

CPI-M state secretariat has appealed to people to avoid train journey on April 27. The party has also asked people not to use private vehicles and urged business establishments to down shutters to express solidarity.

Karat seeks comprehensive probe into IPL

KOCHI: The CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat said IPL was a �sordid profiteering big-business enterprise in the name of cricket. He said the allegations raised were too serious and that an investigation by a joint parliamentary committee would be ideal.

Contending that the standing down of Shashi Tharoor or Lalit Modi would not address the issues thrown up by the IPL controversy, Karat has called for a �comprehensive investigation into the �sordid profiteering big-business enterprise in the name of cricket.�

Commenting on the statement made by Tharoor that he was only trying to bring cricket to Kerala, Karat said IPL model of cricket was not Kerala or Kochi needs. He also noted that the IPL model was not a worthwhile model for cricket and I wont regret that IPL Kochi in the present form does not take place. When the report of the investigation was ready, it would be clear how the ground rules for the tournament could be framed, he said.

New IG takes charge in Kannur

KANNUR: Inspector General of Police (Kannur Range) Sudhesh Kumar took charge at the IGs Office here on Wednesday.

Mr. Kumar, who is a 1987 batch IPS officer, replaces Tomin J. Thachankary, who was placed under suspension for going abroad allegedly without taking the governments permission.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Kumar said he was confident he could perform his duties with the full co-operation of the people. His experience of serving in the district as police officer earlier would also stand him in good stead, he added.

District Superintendent of Police K.P. Philip was also present when Mr. Kumar took charge. Mr. Kumar had earlier served as IG State Crime Records Bureau.

No clean chit to any accused in Lavalin case: CBI

KOCHI: CBI Wednesday said it has not given clean chit to any of the accused in the graft case, in which CPI (M) Kerala secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is an accused.

A statement in this regard was made by CBI counsel in the special court here on a petition filed by T P Nandakumar, Crime Editor.

Vijayan, who is the seventh accused in the case, was the Power Minister when the renovation contract of the three hydel projects was awarded to Canadian multinational company S N C Lavalin in 1998.

Charges under 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (Cheating) of the IPC and 13 (2) and 13(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been filed against Vijayan.

The Lavalin company had got illegal benefit of Rs 86 crore through the deal, CBI said.

CBI counsel said the petitioner cannot dictate to the investigating agency on how the probe should be conducted. If valuable evidence is received, the CBI will probe it, it was stated.

The agency will also examine the veracity of a letter written by a person from Thiruvananthapuram alleging that the accused had received pecuniary benefits from the deal.

3 Tons of Ammonium Nitrate seized in Manjeri; two held

MALAPPURAM: In the States largest explosives hunt, about three tons (2925 kg) of Ammonium Nitrate and detonators were seized from a fertiliser shop and its godown at Manjeri near here and two persons were arrested in this connection on Wednesday, police said.

Following a tip-off, police raided the shop at Manjeri in the district and seized 125 kg of Ammonium Nitrate, 195 detonators, 60 metres long fuse wire and three boxes on Wednesday morning

Kuwait: KKMA Elects New Office Bearers for 2010-12

Kuwait, Apr 21: Kuwait Kerala Muslim Association (KKMA) has got new faces to lead for the year 2010-12.

Abdul Fattah Thayyil is the new president and A P Abdul Salam is the general secretary. The eighth General Council Meeting held at Abbasiya K K M A auditorium formed a well organized new central committee as follows. K Siddique as chief patron, Sageer Trikaripoor as chairman, P K Akbar Siddique and N A Muneer as vice-chairmen, Muhammed Ali Mathra as chief financial officer, Ibrahim Kunnil as working president, B M Iqbal, K C Rafeeque, A V Mustafa, Muneer Kodi, Mustafa Hamza Payyanoor and H Ali Kutty Haji as vice-presidents, K Basheer as organizing secretary, Shukoor Maniyanodi as administraton secretary, Rayin Kutty Haji, Basheer Meladi, Razak Meladi and Muneer Thuruthi as secretaries, Sayyed Rafeek as treasurer, C K Sathar as finance secretary and Subair Haji as investment secretary were elected.

TN nominates representative to committee on dam issue

Reversing its stand not to participate in the five-member empowered committee constituted by Supreme Court to resolve the long pending dispute on the Mullaperiyar dam with Kerala, Tamil Nadu government today nominated former Chief Justice of India Justice A R Lakshmanan in the committee.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi made this announcement in the state assembly today.

The Apex Court, while hearing petitions by Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments on the dam issue, had constituted a committee headed by Justice A S Anand, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to resolve the dispute.

The committee consisted of two representatives of the Centre, one each from Tamil Nadu and Kerala besides Justice Anand.

Kerala government has already nominated Justice K T Thomas, former Supreme Court Judge, as its nominee.

Inter-State meeting on vector-borne diseases

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An inter-state meeting between Kerala and Tamil Nadu on the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases will be held here on April 23.

A �Four Plus Campaign for the prevention and control of four diseases; chikungunya, malaria, dengue fever and leptospirosis in the border areas is the purpose behind the meeting.

The Kerala delegation will be headed by Health Secretary Manoj Joshi and the Tamil Nadu delegation will be headed by S Elangoan, director, Public Health. The meeting will share information on diseases and activities undertaken by both States in the prevention and control of the diseases. Both the States will also formulate a joint action plan to face any eventuality in future.

Nine trains cancelled in Kerala

Kochi: Nine trains were cancelled Wednesday after a goods train derailed at Puthukkad.

The trains are Ernakulam-Kannur Intercity (to and fro), Ernakulam-Bangalore Intercity, Shornur-Ernakulam passenger (to and fro), Ernakulam-Guruvayur passenger (to and fro) and Guruvayur-Thrissur (to and fro).

The trains that have to stop midway: Thiruvananthapuram-Shornur Venad Express will end its journey at Ernakulam.

While the Thiruvananthapuram-Mangalapuram Parasuram Express will stop its journey at Ernakulam, Mangalapuram-Thiruvananthapuram will do so at Shornur.

The Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode Janasadabdi Express will stop its trip at Ernakulam Junction.

The Yaswantpur-Kochuveli Express will end the journey at Coimbatore.

Here is a list of the trains that are rescheduled:

Thiruvananthapuram-Kurla Express to start journey at 12 noon.

Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi Kerala Express to start from Thiruavananthapuram at 11.15.

Thiruvananthapuram-Hyderabad Express to start at 1.30

Ernakulam-Nissamuddin Mangala Express will start its journey at 3.30.

Meanwhile, the Railway officials have said that the reason for the goods train to derail was the crack in the rail.

The work is on to move the derailed bogies from the track. The rail traffic is expected to get back to normal by Thursday noon.

Need to modernise air bases stressed: PV Naik

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Air Chief Marshal PV Naik today said air bases in the country has to be modernised with state-of-the-art equipment to meet any contingency which might arise.

Commanders should keep strict vigil and maintain operational preparedness of the highest order at all times, Naik said at the annual SAC commanders conference, which concluded at the headquarters of Southern Air Command in Thiruvananthapuram.

The two-day conference deliberated on issues such as security threats, defence preparedness and coastline security.

Air Marshal Sumit Mukerji, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Air Command also addressed the commanders of various units under SAC on the occasion.

Kerala to reply on governor�s address controversy

Thiruvananthapuram, April 21 � The Kerala government will soon reply to Governor R.S. Gavais letter on allegations by the opposition that his address to the assembly in February had not been approved by the cabinet, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said Wednesday.

Gavai had last week written to Chief Secretary Rudra Gangadharan seeking a clarification after a group of opposition legislators met him to point out what they termed a serious lapse on the part of the cabinet.

They said the cabinet failed to approve the address before Gavai delivered it in the assembly Feb 24.

Tharoor Gets Incessant Support From Netizen Followers

Shashi Tharoor resigned on Sunday but still he is being supported by his chain of netizen followers who are loyal to the ex-minister.

The netizens also started a support website and started collecting signatures from all of Tharoors supporters on a petition against his resignation. The support petition already gathered 9,000 signatures.

Tharoor is mainly supported by the cities in Kerala Ernakulam, Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, and Thrissur. The�s petition is collecting support signatures from last Sunday.

I-League Preview: Pune FC - Viva Kerala

Pune FC have been one of the most professional teams in the I-League so far, yet their luck on the field has not been that good at all times. Despite dominating the game against Salgaocar for the most part, they had to settle for a draw at home, thanks to Ekenes late equalizer.

Facing the team from south Pune FC will be looking to take full advantage of their current form after getting the bashing from JCT. Derrick Pareira however will have some key players doubtful for the match citing injuries.

With Brazilian striker Edmaar and Indian wonderkid Jeje teaming up well as striking partners one can hope that Pune take an attacking approach for the match against Viva Kerala.

Kerala CM justifies call for hartal on April 27

hiruvananthapuram, Apr 21 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan today justified the Left parties call for a hartal in the state on April 27 to protest Centres failure to contain price rise of essential commodities.

The call for hartal is a protest against price rise that has made the life of people miserable, the veteran CPI-M leader said when asked about the impact of hartal on normal life.

It is a protest by people to express their solidarity.

India water crisis laid bare by clash with cola giants

NEW DELHI � A pollution fine for Coca-Cola and an order for PepsiCo to cut water use at factories in India have highlighted an intensifying conflict between big business and farmers over natural resources.

Last month, a report commissioned by the southern state of Kerala ordered Coca-Cola to pay 47 million dollars in compensation for polluting agricultural land and extracting too much groundwater at a bottling plant.

A similar report submitted at the same time instructed PepsiCo to cut groundwater use by two-thirds at its plant also in Keralas Palakkad district.

The twin investigations were ordered by the Kerala government after years of protests by farmers who say industrial projects like those run by the soft drinks giants leave just a small fraction of water for irrigating fields.

Operating water-guzzling bottling plants in drought-hit areas where farmers do not have access to water is highly unethical and criminal, said R. Ajayan, who is spearheading the campaign in Kerala.

Love for Kerala doesn\'t absolve Tharoor: BJP

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Unimpressed by Shashi Tharoors emotional defence in parliament on the IPL row, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday said his love for Kerala doesnt absolve the former minister of wrongdoing.

His love for Kerala, that was the highlight of his speech, doesnt absolve him of corruption charges, BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde told IANS.

Tharoor, forced to quit over his alleged links to the controversial Kochi Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, spoke for the first time after he quit as minister of state for external affairs. He said his conscience was clear and he had done nothing wrong.

I have done nothing improper or unethical, let alone illegal... I have requested the prime minister to have these charges against me thoroughly investigated, Tharoor, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram, told the Lok Sabha

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dubai friends to Tharoor\'s rescue

alling out of favour with the government and party, after

In the line of fire: A file pic of Shashi Tharoor

consistently embarrassing both by his tweets and

In the line of fire: A file pic of Shashi Tharoor

remarks, Shashi

Tharoor still remains the darling of netizens.

The former minister of state for external affairs, who attracted a lot of publicity for his comments on micro-blogging website Twitter has a whopping 7.3 lakh people following him. So, while the whole Opposition, including the BJP and Mandal satraps were baying for his blood, friends based in Dubai were deciding on the course to save him, over a cup of coffee.

Shiraz Gidwani, Chief Executive of Dubai-based Iktara World has launched the Save Shashi Tharoor campaign on various social networking websites and a dedicated site with the same name in support of the beleaguered Kerala politician.

Vimala Raman�s dancing ability to help portray her character in Amrapali

April 18, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): Versatile South Indian actress Vimla Raman be playing Amrapali, which is set during the advent of Buddhisim. The actress trained in Bharatnatyam says that her dancing skill will help portray the character, too. The film was announced in a huge gathering recently. The film Amrapali will be going on the floors soon.

Elephant census in south on May 15, 16

BANGALORE: The much anticipated elephant census in the southern states will be held with a delay of 10 days on May 15 and 16. The two-day census was earlier scheduled to be held on May 5 and 6. But due to the disagreement over dates with wildlife wardens of other states, it was put off by 10 days, informed chief wildlife warden BK Singh.

The census is being carried out under �Project Elephant wherein forest officials of Karnataka with their counterparts in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh will estimate the number of elephants.

Some of the methods used in the census to count the pachyderms in the state will be dung count (also referred to as indirect estimation), block count and through direct sighting.

The elephant population in the state has been estimated to be around 6,000.

Cheriyan hurls a �hartal stone� at Left

HIRUVANANTHAPURAM: CPM fellow traveller and KTDC Chairman Cheriyan Philip has come out against the hartal called by the Left parties on April 27. The lone sane voice that came from the Left front against the hartal requested the government and the people to be cautious and not cause any trouble to the tourists on that day.

Whoever conducts hartals and strikes must exempt the tourism sector from it,� Cheriyan Philip said in a statement here on Tuesday.

``Like electricity, water supply, milk and newspaper, tourism should also be treated as an essential service,�� he said.

Cheriyan Philip said he was against the idea of organising hartals for petty causes.

Thachankary: CM has no power to suspend me

KOCHI: Settling scores with Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, suspended Kannur Range IG Tomin J Thachankary has said that the CM had no power to suspend him by invoking Section 3 of the All India Service(Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1960.

Thachankary raised the charge in the appeal filed before the Central Administrative Tribunal(CAT) against his suspension. He also says in the petition that he was made scapegoat of rival groups of a major party in the LDF. The CMs action was self-evidently actuated by ulterior motives and malafides,�� he alleges.

RPT-India pepper up; may swing higher on lower stocks

MUMBAI, April 20 (Reuters) - India pepper futures ended higher on Tuesday and may extend gains on Wednesday on limited supply in the market as farmers await better prices amid low stocks, analysts said.

Prices are moving up due to lack of delivery pressure in the April contract, which is expiring today. Traders are covering their short position to avoid giving delivery as stocks are low, said an analyst from a Kochi based brokerage.

Demand is slow but may pick up once the prices stabilise.

Spot pepper gained 48 rupees to end at 14,986 rupees per 100 kg in Kochi, a major trading hub in Kerala.

Yasin Bhatkal was on Kerala police radar

KOZHIKODE: Ahamed Yasin alias Yasin Bhatkal alias Wasim, the main suspect behind the blasts at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and the explosion at the German Bakery in Pune, has been on the radar of the Kerala police for more than a year.

The Kerala police had alerted the Central agencies about the activities of Yasin before the Pune blast, sources said. The police suspect that Yasin had come to Kerala and met bomb-making expert E T Sainudheen in 2007.

After the detailed interrogation of Thadiyantavide Nazeer, the Kerala police have come to the conclusion that it was Yasin who came to Kuttippuram to meet Sainudheen, Abdul Rahim and Nazeer seeking help to make bombs. Earlier, the assumption was that it was Riyaz Bhatkal who came to Kuttippuram

�Wounded� Tharoor says probe me, invokes Kerala

A day after he was forced to tender his resignation in the backdrop of the IPL bidding controversy, former minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor told Parliament on Tuesday that he had requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to thoroughly get charges against him investigated as he had done nothing improper or unethical.

Turning down suggestions by the Congress leadership that perhaps it was best for him to remain quiet, Tharoor decided to place on record his stand on the matter by reading his statement in the Lok Sabha. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had on Monday asserted that a minister who stepped down had a right to explain his position in Parliament if he wished to do so.

7 Malayalees in local council election of May 6

LONDON: Seven Malayalees are prepared to contest in the election to Londons local council.

Balan N Sisupalan, Omana Gangadharan, Nanoo Rajendran, Manju Shahulhameed, Jose Alexander, Biju Gopinath and Binoy Gopinath are the Malayalee candidates for the local election to be held on May 6.

Omana Gangadharan (present Councilor), Nanoo Rajendran, Manju Shahulhameed are the candidates of Labour Party. The new face Jose Alexander is also a Labour Party candidate.

Biju Gopinath and Binoy Gopinath are contesting for the Conservative Party.

Balan N Sisupalan is the candidate of Liberal Democratic Party. He is a senior Malayalee politician who was a councillor of Haringey council for 1994-98 and was the chairman of Environment committee.

Omana Gangadharan who has been the councilor for the last two years is contesting for the third time. She is also a writer hailing from Changanassery. She had worked as a civic ambassador to New Home Council.

Nanoo Rajendran hails from Edava near Varkala in Kerala. Having been the councilor of Croydon in East London for the last two years, Nanoo is for his third chance there.

KSRTC employee, son run over by KSRTC bus

TPURAM: A bike-born father and a son were killed on Tuesday when a KSRTC bus ran over them after they fell to the road after collision with another bike coming in the opposite direction at paaroorkuzhi near Balaramapuram.

The driver of the second bike, Sanal Kumar (40) of Maruthoorkonam, was fatally injured and was admitted to a private hospital here.

The deceased were identified as Santhosh Kumar (45) and his son Vaishakh (17) of Nellimoodu. Sanal Kumar was a conductor at KSRTC Central depot. It was on Monday that he got promoted to the post of Station Master. It was a sorrowful happenstance that he was run over by the bus under the Corporation (Kerala Road Transport Corporation) which he works.

The accident happened at 2.15 pm. The jeep driver of Balaramapuram Police Station who passed the spot took them to hospital but they succumbed to injuries

Explanation sought from govt on Thachankary�s plea

KOCHI: The Central Administrative Tribunal sought an explanation from the government on Thachankarys plea questioning the state for suspending him from the post of Kannur range IG. The tribunal has asked the government to offer an explanation on Friday.

First Malayalam playback singer and yesteryear actress M K Kamalam dies

KOTTAYAM: The first Malayalam playback singer and the actress who acted in the first Malayalam talkie Balan, M K Kamalam (86) died Tuesday evening here at Kottayam Medical College.

She had been under treatment for the last two weeks and also got her leg fractured after she fell from her cot.

Having become a theater artist at a tender age of 10, Kamalam entered the Malayalam film industry when she was 14 through the first Malayalam Talkie Balan (1938) directed by Shewakram Nottani, popularly known as S. Nottani.

She also acted in films Bhootharayar and Shayanam.

All party meet stops land acquisition for National Highway

TPURAM: The Kerala government has decided in an all party meet convened here that it has halted land acquisition for national highway.

Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said about 30 metre width would be sufficient for the development of national highway. Representatives of all parties will leave for New Delhi for recommendation soon.

The width of national highways of other states is 60 metres. Following Kerala�s plea it was altered to 45 metres. Even then there arouse public rage against acquiring land. It was on this circumstance that the all party meeting was convened.

Congress workers picket government offices in Kerala

TPURAM: Hundreds of Congress workers Tuesday picketed government offices in different parts of the state as part of the partys agitation against LDF governments failure to check price rise and collapse of law and order.

Inaugurating the state-wide stir at nearby Nedumangad, Kerala PCC President Ramesh Chennithala said the LDF government was a total failure and wanted Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan to resign.

Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said the common people were forgotten by the LDF government. Development activities in the state had come to a standstill due to the governments wrong priorities, he said.

No untoward incident was reported from any part of the state, police said.

Workers dispersed themselves in most places but in some areas they courted arrest, they said.

The Congress plans a Secretariat blockade next month as the next phase of stir against the LDF government.

Achuthanandan government like �Ali Baba and 40 Thieves�: Congress

TPURAM: The Congress in Kerala Tuesday organised a statewide protest campaign against the �anti-people policies� of the ruling Left led by V.S. Achuthanandan and likened the government to the tale of �Ali Baba and 40 Thieves�.

Inaugurating the campaign in the city suburbs, state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala said never before had the state seen a government that did nothing for the people.

�The Achuthanandan government is like the tale of �Ali Baba and 40 Thieves�. It does nothing for the people and everything for the mafia,� Chennithala said.

It has come to a stage that neither the people, nor his (Achuthanandan�s) party nor the LDF (Left Democratic Front) require him and best is that he quits,� he added.

Tharoor now to concentrate on Lok Sabha constituency

NEW DELHI: Tharoor, who quit as junior minister for external affairs on Sunday over the IPL Kochi franchise row, was earlier unable to spend much time in his Lok Sabha constituency due to his ministerial work. He is expected to arrive here Saturday and his fans are planning to give him a rousing reception, the aide said.

�Now his agenda would be to take forward a few projects that are close to his heart, like the twin city project with Barcelona, and of course the mega Vizhinjam port project, said a close aide of Tharoor who did not wish to be identified.

Tharoor won handsomely from the seat during the general elections last April-May - he was two votes short of a lakh majority in beating his rival Communist Party of India candidate

AIR to celebrate 60th anniversary from Friday

ALAPPUZHA: The 60th anniversary celebrations of the All India Radio (AIR) will begin here on April 23 and continue with a �Farm Fest till April 25.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, AIR Alappuzha Station director K.M. Muralidharan said Governor R.S. Gavai would inaugurate the celebrations at the DBHS Grounds in Cheriyanadu near Chengannur at 5 p.m. on Friday. Chengannur MLA P.C. Vishnunath would preside over the function, which would also have Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas launching the �Farm Fest�. G. Jayalal, Deputy Director General, AIR, Thiruvananthapuram, would deliver the keynote address.

On Saturday, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy would inaugurate �Anyonyam�, an agriculture seminar, which would have NABARD chief general manager K.C. Shashidhar delivering the keynote address. On Sunday, a festival themed on the Onattukara region, �Paithrukam�, would be held and be followed by an interaction with State award-winning farmers

Tharoor quotes Vallathol in his defence

NEW DELHI: Former minister Shashi Tharoor quoted lines from well-known Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayana Menon while making his defence in parliament Tuesday on the IPL Kochi franchise controversy.

Tharoor, who quit as minister Sunday, told the Lok Sabha that he had done nothing improper in mentoring the Kochi franchise. He quoted from the works of Vallathol, whose poems inspired the nationalist and independence movement in the state.

When you hear the name of India, your heart must swell with pride. When you hear the name of Kerala, the blood must throb in your veins, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said while reading out the English translation.

Tharoor praised Keralas contribution in various fields including education.

Vallathol, popularly known as Mahakavi (1878-1958), was deaf. He had established the Kerala Kalamandalam, now a deemed university, and raised the traditional dance form of Kathakali to a great art form

Vallarpadam trans-shipment terminal will be ready by August

NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Shipping and Ports G. K. Vasan on Tuesday informed Parliament that the Vallarpadam trans-shipment container terminal near Kochi in Kerala would be completed by August.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Vasan said the Rs.2,118-crore International Container Trans-shipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam, being developed by Dubai Port International, was scheduled to be commissioned in the first half of 2010 but now it would be completed by the end of August. The construction of the terminal would allow berthing of mother vessels � large ships carrying containers � at Vallarpadam. Shippers now use trans-shipment hubs such as Colombo and Dubai.

The National Ship Design Research Centre, set up to promote and design research activities for shipping and shipbuilding, has been merged with the Indian Maritime University in Chennai. The IMU also has campuses in Kolkata, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam

Monday, April 19, 2010

Call to exempt tourism sector from hartal

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Various organisations working in the tourism, hospitality and travel trade have demanded that the tourism sector should be exempted from the hartal called by the LDF on April 27.

The hartal will affect tourists who arrive in the State during the peak domestic tourism season, a statement here said.

Nafed sees a market in tapping Gulf, Europe expats

TPURAM: The largest farmers� co-operative in the country, National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation (Nafed), is eyeing a new business opportunity abroad, in the form of the large numbers of Indian expatriates in the Gulf countries and Europe.

Nafed feels that food products from India that are preferred by the expatriate community there, would be a boon for the expatriates and an opportunity for Nafed.

In the Gulf region, Nafed will focus on Kerala-specific food products, considering the large number of expatriates from the state there. Officials said the first consignments were expected to be shipped within two months.

Tharoor\'s constituency backs him on IPL controversy

TPURAM: People of Thiruvananthapuram have extended their full support to former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor in connection with the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise row and termed his exit unfortunate and a set back for Kerala.

Tharoors resignation is a setback for Kerala. He just wanted a team from Kerala in IPL and that could have helped in the development of the state. If he had taken the team to any other state, it wouldnt have harmed him personally, said A Arun.

Many thought that his lack of experience in Indian politics led to his resignation

Air Chief Marshal Naik to inaugurate Commanders\' conference

TPURAM: Chief of Air Staff P V Naik will inaugurate the Southern Air Command Commanders conference here on April 21.

After his arrival in the city today, he would call on Governor R S Gavai, according to an official release here Monday.

He would address commanders of all units under Southern Air Command and interact with air warriors and civilians at the Air Force station in Akkulam.

Naik would be accompanied by his wife Madhubaala Naik, President of Air Force Wives Welfare Association

Seven gets bail in Paul murder case

KOCHI: Seven persons including Kaari Sathish have been granted bail in the Muthoot Paul murder case. The Ernakulam special CBI court Monday granted bail to the seven accused

Giving voting rights to NRIs not easy, says Chawla

TPURAM: Even though the Manmohan Singh government is keen to give voting rights to non-resident Indians (NRIs), Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla says it appears this may not be an easy task.

Interacting with reporters here, Chawla said the Election Commission wrote to the government last month about the issues involved in NRI voting.

NRIs are settled all over the world. They come from various states and various constituencies. In big countries, there would be quite a number of places where votes may have to be cast, said Chawla.

The Election Commission will need to carry the voting machines to all these places and bring them back safely, said Chawla.

He added that the commission will have limited time - from the date of announcing the list of candidates till the polling date - to complete the process.

The current rule dealing with a voters minimum stay in a constituency before being eligible to vote may also require changes, said Chawla.

Three held for attacking police station

KOZHIKODE: Three youths have been arrested in connection with the recent attack on Chombala police station in the district, police said.

The trio, all in their 20s, were picked up by a police team near the Mahe railway station premises Sunday as the accused confessed to have hurled around six explosives on the police station on Thursday last to target a senior official there.

However, no one was injured in the attack in which the building suffered partial damage.

The attack was said to have been committed to retaliate the police for dispersing a five-member group for allegedly bursting crackers and indulging in unruly scenes in the Kallamala locality during the Vishu festivities.

Police had registered a case under IPC section 307 (attempt to murder) and provisions of Explosive and Substance Act

Cochin Port Registers Record Cargo Throughput in 2009-10

KOCHI: Cochin Port has achieved an all time high cargo throughput of 17.43 Million tons in 2009-10, a 12.5 per cent growth over the previous year and is targetting 19.11 million tons for 2010-11.

This record throughput is almost two million tonnes more than the throughput of 15.49 Million Tonnes in 2008-09, a port press release said Monday.

Though traditional cargo like coal, fertilizers, industrial salt recorded a 10 per cent fall, the deficit was compensated by higher volumes in liquid bulk, especially petroleum products and in general cargo like cement, iron scrap and timber logs.

Container traffic registered about 11 per cent increase. A total of 289817 TEUs containers were handled in the year, as against 260784 TEUs in 2008-09. Vessel traffic registered an increase of 18 per cent in 2009-10, while the average turn around time of ships showed an improvement of 3 per cent. The average ship berth day output also registered an improvement of two per cent.

The increase in cargo throughput has brought in additional revenue of about Rs 6 crore in terms of wharfage alone.

FACT, HIL to share drinking water cost of Eloor panachayat

KOCHI: Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) and Hindustan Insecticides Limited, (HIL) Udyogamandal, Monday entered into an agreement for sharing the cost of free drinking water being supplied to residents of the nearby Eloor Gramma Panchayat.

The water supply has been effective since January last year.

According to this scheme, 1.6 million litres of water is made available every day by the Companies free of cost to Kerala Water Authority (KWA) for free distribution among more than 3000 households of the panchayat, an FACT press release said Monday.

C K Sasikumar, Deputy General Manager, FACT and K K Dhar, General Manager, HIL, signed the agreement representing the respective organisations at a function at FACT.

M S Mythili, Chief Environmental Engineer, Kerala state Pollution Control Board chaired the function.

V G Sankaranarayanan, Director (Technical) FACT, who spoke about the scheme and said this was part of the Corporate Social Responsibility of the companies and hoped that other companies would join the scheme.

Cochin Port was moving towards progress: Ramachandran

KOCHI: Cochin Port Trust Chairman N Ramachandran Monday said it was a good feeling that the port was moving towards progress and good times are ahead of us.

Speaking after inaugurating a seminar by Cochin Port staff Association here he said it is a good feeling that we are definitely moving forward and there is no doubt about it. We are moving towards progress and good times are ahead of us.

Cochin Port is moving in the right direction and it is poised for progress and prosperity, he said, adding it had achieved an all time high cargo throughput of 17.43 million tonnes in 2009-10.

Pointing teamwork as the reason for the progress, he said there is a magic in teamwork and that magic has shown by the employees of the port and cited the success of the Volvo Ocean Race, which came to India for the first time

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Six more premium buses to join city fleet today

KOCHI: On Monday, six more air-conditioned premium buses will join the fleet of seven Volvo buses that the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is operating in the city.

Two of them will operate on the Poothotta-Aluva route through Menaka, two on the Fort Kochi-Infopark-Aluva route through M.G. Road and the other two on the Willingdon Island-Infopark-Aluva route through Padma, said the District Transport Officer, G. Jayaraj.

Nine low-floor non-AC Asok Leyland buses meant for Kochi have arrived in Thiruvananthapuram and are awaiting permits. They will begin service by month end. Three of them will ply on the Chottanikkara-Aluva route; three from Panangad to Aluva and the rest three from Poothotta to Njarakkal, all through Menaka

Kochi IPL row: Shashi Tharoor resigns, PM accepts

NEW DELHI: Shashi Tharoor tonight resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs after the high-level Congress Core Group decided that he should quit in the wake of controversy over the IPL Kochi franchise, capping a week-long drama that threatened to suck the government and the party into it.

54-year old Tharoor, a newcomer to politics from international diplomacy, was summoned by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Artist Karunakaran chosen for Raja Ravi Varma award

KOCHI: Renowned artist C N Karunakaran has been chosen for the states prestigious Raja Ravi Varma award for his contribution in the field of art.

This was disclosed to reporters here on Sunday by culture and education minister M A Baby.

S G Vasudev, Chairman of the five member committee, which selected Karunakaran, said he had developed his own intresting style of work.

The award carries a cash prize of Rs 1.25 lakh.

Baby said the award would be presented to Karunakaran next month at a function here

Philatelic exhibition on wheels in city

TPURAM: A philatelic exhibition on wheels arrived here on Sunday as part of an entire tour of the South, showcasing the history, growth and heritage of Indian Railways.

The three-coach exhibition reached the parcel office at Thiruvananthapuram Central station this afternoon. The exhbition would be on till April 20, an official press release said.

Fees in govt owned self financing colleges to be reduced

KOCHI: The kerala government had decided to reduce the fees in government owned self financing colleges, education and culture minister M A Baby said here yesterday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function, he suggested that the Kerala Self Financing Engineering College Managements Associations, which have demanded an increase in fees, do likewise

The function was got up to announce conferring of the raja ravi varma award by the state governemnt on renowned artist C N Karunakaran.

IPL misusing Indian passion for cricket: Yechury

ALAPPUZHA: CPI (M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury has said that the Indian Premier League (IPL) had nothing to do with cricket and that it was misusing the Indian passion for cricket.

Inaugurating a symposium on �EMS and the Media, held in connection with the birth centenary of former Chief Minister E M S Namboodiripad here on Sunday, Yechury said the IPL was actually being used a backdrop for shady ventures that ran into thousands of crores of rupees. The entire IPL funds, from where the funds were originating and where they were going to had to be probed thoroughly, he said.

Kodiyeri withdraws from resort inauguration

PALAKKAD: Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Sunday withdrew from the inauguration of a resort built illegally in the midst of an adivasi colony of the Silent Valley.

An investigation on the resort constructed by private parties will be conducted. The minister said a detailed probe will be held on many things including whether it was built on special protected areas.

Forest Minister Binoy Viswom said action will be taken against the concerned after the getting the report of the CSF, who started investigation. The name of silent valley cannot be used for other business purposes

Decision to suspend IG was with my knowlege, says Kodiyeri

TPURAM: Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Sunday made it clear that the decision of suspending Kannur Range IG Tomin J Thachankary from service pending enquiry was with his knowledge.

During a chat with media people at Palakkad, the Home Minister said Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had consulted the issue before issuing suspension order to the senior police official.

2 seminary students drown in T�puram

TPURAM: Dominique Varghese and Sebin Joseph, two seminary students studying in Mar Ivanios College, Thiruvananthapuram died of drowning. The incident happened when they were taking bath in the pond situated inside the college campus.

The dead bodies are kept in the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College mortuary