Saturday, June 26, 2010

Karichal victorious in Champakulam race

ALAPPUZHA: The Karichal �chundan (snake-boat), rowed by the Jesus Boat Club (JBC), Kollam, won the Rajapramukhan trophy in the Champakulam Moolam Boat Race, a race that has a history dating back to 1545 A.D. and one that signals the beginning of the boat race season in Kerala.

The JBC, winner of the trophy last year and also of the prestigious Nehru Trophy Boat Race last year, was captained by Jiji Jacob Pollayil and won the race by reaching the finishing point well ahead of the nearest rival �Sri Vinayakan chundan, rowed by the Kumarakom Town Boat Club, Kottayam, which was captained by Joseph Philip.

The �Sri Ganeshan chundan, was rowed by the Kavalam Boat Club, Alappuzha and captained by Mathew Kuncheria.

The historic race, which began a good two hours behind schedule, overcame the challenge thrown by the hartal called by the ruling Left Democratic Front with thousands of spectators, including foreign tourists thronging the shores of the Pampa river.

Firms submit bids for Vytilla terminal

KOCHI: Fifteen contracting firms bidding for the proposed Vytilla bus terminal cum mobility hub project submitted their pre-qualification documents by Friday � the deadline fixed for the purpose.

Prominent players from across the country have submitted their documents and their individual verification would begin from Monday, said sources in KITCO, the implementing agency.

Tenders would be issued in July to those who satisfy the conditions specified by the agency.

The successful bidder would be decided by August, based on the price bids that they submit.

Work on phase one of the project would begin by Onam. To the question on the delay in initiating work on the two flyovers proposed at Vytilla junction, a KITCO official said that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that would execute the Kochi metro-rail project, has accepted the design proposed by KITCO. But the NHAI is yet to make its stand clear.

Government restrained from cutting trees

Kochi: The Kerala High Court has restrained the State government and the Forest Department from cutting any mature tree from the vested forest or other forests for three weeks.

The interim directive was passed on a writ petition filed by K.T. Santhosh of Alappuzha. According to him, the Forest Department had taken over large tracts of rubber plantations under the Kerala Private Forest Vesting and Management of Ecologically Fragile Land Act.

The department had also issued a notification for cutting and removing rubber trees in the rubber plantations taken over by the department.

As per the rules, only windfall and decayed trees could be cut and removed from the forest area.

However, the department was trying to cut and sell the rubber trees at a meagre price. According to a study by the Rubber Research Institute, the rubber trees, belonging to the rain tree category, were more effective in absorbing carbon dioxide.

Plea to halt raids on shops

KOCHI: The 33rd annual general body meeting of the Kerala Merchants Union has appealed to the government to stop sales tax raids on individual business establishments in the true spirit of the times when VAT and electronic filing of returns had made the operations of business establishments transparent.

President of the union K. M. John said that the general body meeting discussed the recent sales tax raids on optical outlets and manufacturing units across Kerala. The union felt that these raids would not yield the desired result of higher revenue for the government.

If the government felt that there was tax drain in any sector, offices of organisations like the Merchants Union could be taken into confidence to discuss the issue, he said. The entire sector should be taken into confidence to discuss the issues involved, he said and called on the government for a more friendly approach.

PNB to focus on NoRKs segment

KOCHI: Punjab National Bank (PNB) Chairman and Managing Director K.R. Kamath has said that the bank is keen to expand its business in the State.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, he said the bank had plans to attract more deposits, particularly from non-resident Keralites.

The NRE deposits in Kerala constitute around seven per cent of the banks total NRE deposits. The bank is targeting business of Rs.1,000 crore from the non-resident segment in Kerala during the current year.

The number of NRE accounts in the State has crossed 36,400.

The bank has presence in all districts.

Its 140 branches in the State function under two circles, based in Ernakulam and Kozhikode.

A festival of monsoon nostalgia

KOCHI: This is an invitation for all � Ministers, the Mayor, police officials, filmmakers, writers and the common man � to return to the childhood memories of launching paper boats in little streams created by rain.

The Vyloppilli Memorial Cultural Centre is organising a festival of poetry, stories, music and film songs to be in company with rain all through the day on Sunday.

The programme, titled Mazhayum Kadalasuthoniyum (Rain and paper boat) will start with the launching of a paper boat in a small stream created in front of the centres office at Judges Avenue.

M.A. Baby, Minister for Culture and Education; Benoy Viswom, Minister for Forests; Mercy Williams, Mayor; C.K. Manisankar, Deputy Mayor; B. Sandhya, Inspector General of Police, Ernakulam Range; Kamal, filmmaker; and writers D. Vinayachandran, A.V. Anil Kumar, M.V. Benny, Santhosh Echikkanam, S. Joseph, Susmesh Chandroth and Murukan Kattakada will be present.

Bringing people on the brink back to life

KOCHI: Maithri, a non-government organisation, which has been functioning in the field of suicide prevention since 1995, celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

�In the last 15 years, about 25,000 people have availed of its services. This includes people belonging to all age groups, different professions and socio-economic status, says C.J. John, chief psychiatrist at the Medical Trust Hospital and a board member of the Maithri Foundation Trust, in a communication issued to propagate the ideals of the organisation.

Listening to ones woes empathetically often helps to bring back people to life. But in the modern day when time is the most valuable commodity its not that easy to find many listeners around. �Thats where we come in. Our volunteers turn caring and empathetic listeners. Naturally, people confessing to suicidal tendencies dont like to reveal their identities. That our service can be availed of over phone and even through emails do help evoke confidence,� says Rajesh R. Pillai, director of Maithri.

VS to open new building complex of Infopark today

KOCHI: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan will inaugurate Athulya, the 5.5 lakh-sq.ft. new building complex in the Infopark campus at Kakkanad, on Sunday at 4 p.m.

He will also inaugurate the Infopark expressway, a four-lane road connecting the Cochin International Airport. Fisheries Minister S. Sarma will preside and Transport Minister Jose Thettayil will deliver the keynote address.

Set on 7.1 acres of land, Athulya has been designed as an energy efficient eco-friendly building. It houses a software development block with an area of 3.5 lakh sq.ft, a cafeteria and multi-level car parking for 111 cars with a direct connectivity to a four lane road.

Incubation centres, training rooms, a 35, 50 and 100-seater module with plug and play facility and a total seating capacity 4,000 are the other highlights.

The building also provides for maintenance teams, a large and efficient floor plate with flexibility for conversion into smaller modules, uninterrupted power supply as well as a treated water system, quality housekeeping and security and SEZ benefits for new IT units.

Accident

Thiruvananthapuram: A man sustained minor injuries when his motorcycle skidded on a patch of oil on the road near Palayam on Saturday. The police blocked traffic for some time and the Fire and Rescue Services cleaned the road

New milk price from Monday

Thiruvananthapuram: The revised prices of milk marketed by Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Milma) will come into effect on July 28.

This was announced by Milma Managing Director Sanjeeb Patjoshi in a press release here on Saturday.

Accordingly, the Milma toned milk (500 ml) pack will now cost Rs.11.50, while the Milma smart double toned milk (500 ml) will be priced at Rs.11.

The Milma rich milk will cost Rs.13 for a 500-ml pack while the Milma Jersey milk will cost Rs.12.50 for a pack of 500 ml.

Milmas curd will be sold at Rs.14.50 for a 500-ml pack.

Landslips throw rail traffic out of gear

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Railways diverted several trains to and from Kerala on Saturday and cancelled a few services scheduled for Sunday on account of two landslips between the Padil and the Thokur railway stations, near Mangalore.

Round-the-clock work is on to the clear the track and resume services by Sunday afternoon, Railways said in a press note here on Saturday.

Several long-distance mail and express trains from major stations in Kerala and those coming to the State were diverted.

Train no. 2431Trivandrum-Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express was diverted via Arsikere, Hubli and Madgaon; and 6338 Ernakulam-Okha Express via Palakkad, Dharmavaram, Gooty, Pune and Vasai Road.

Special package for tourists from Bengal

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Tourism and the Association of Tourism Trade Organisations (ATTOI) have joined hands to promote an initiative of the Indigo Airlines to promote Kerala as a tourism destination in West Bengal and to bring in more tourists to the State in the coming days.

The move comes in the wake of the introduction of a new flight from Kolkata to Kochi via Bangalore by the low-cost airline Indigo. The ATTOI has decided to organise a road show in Kolkata on July 30 in Kolkata to further popularise the destination and tourism products the State has to offer among the potential travellers and tour operators of West Bengal.

Driving tourist traffic into Kerala will be the key focus of the road show.

The show will consist of Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Client (B2C) meets.

The tour operators and tourism officials from Kerala will interact with the West Bengal tourism fraternity.

�We are trying to recreate Kerala under one roof in West Bengal for a day to popularise the destination. A 20-member delegation will be proceeding to Kolkata to participate in the road show and to celebrate the new air connectivity to Kochi, according to ATTOI secretary Anish Kumar

NGOs join hands for HIV palliative care

Thiruvananthapuram: The importance of giving palliative care to those living with HIV/AIDS is something that even these patients are yet to fully comprehend. As in the case of any chronic disease, palliative care has an important role in the care and support of them.

With even the National AIDS Control Organisation yet to come out with a clear policy or guidelines on this, Pallium India, a pioneer in the area of palliative care in the country, and Family Health International (FHI), an international non-governmental organisation working in the area of public health, are joining hands to develop an appropriate model of integrating palliative care with the governments HIV care programme.

Keralas unique model of community-oriented palliative care delivery system having caught worldwide attention, a 10-member team of FHI doctors and researchers had been in the State capital for several days in May, going on field visits with Pallium India health volunteers and holding consultations with experts here.

KSEB to ink pact with Korean firm

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Work on the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme, envisaged for providing better services to consumers and enhancing the power utilities in the State, is expected to go on stream by July-end.

Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) chairman Rajiv Sadanandan told reporters here on Saturday that an agreement with the Korea Electric Power Data Company selected for implementing the programme within a span of 18 months, would be signed by mid-July after the company submitted a technical implementation plan to the board. Work on the programme will commence by next month-end.

The initial part of the scheme is for implementing information technology in the distribution sector of power utilities and the thrust of the second part is on reducing aggregate technical and commercial loss to the minimum level of 15 per cent. On completing the programme within the specific time, the entire loan allotted for the initial component and 50 per cent of the loan for the second part will be converted into grant.

A (HINI) shifting to north Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram:Even as Influenza A (H1N1) spreads unabated in the community in Kerala, a shift in the pattern of the epidemic seems evident, with the epicentre of the infection now shifting to the northern districts.

Public health experts say the current wave of the infection is almost past its peak in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam and the number of cases will start dwindling in about two weeks in these southern districts.

More number of cases is now being confirmed in northern districts, indicating the shift. Nearly 70 per cent of the throat swabs sent to the labs these days have tested positive, indicating that the virus is widespread.

�We are testing only a fraction of cases because testing is a resource-intensive activity and in an epidemic situation, the numbers do not really matter. Hundreds are being infected by the virus daily, but much of it resolves spontaneously. The shift in pattern will indicate that almost all of the population down south has been affected by the virus, a public health expert says.

LDF hartal brings life to a halt

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Deserted roads and downed shutters said it all. The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in protest against the petroleum product price hike brought life in the street to a halt for a major part of Saturday.

One could count the vehicles plying on most roads and except for drug stores not too many shops were open at any point of time during the day. With public carriages staying off the road, most government offices and private establishments had a virtual holiday.

Passengers stage protest

KANNUR: Irate passengers who had reserved seats on trains that were diverted following a landslip in the Konkan route staged a protest at the railway station here in the evening. The passengers protested at the station on being informed that the trains were diverted following the landslip at Kankanadi in the Konkan route.

Station manager P. Rajan said the issue was settled after The passengers were refunded the train fare.

SmartCity meet not to take up contentious issues

KOCHI: A meeting of the board of directors of SmartCity Kochi will be held at Hotel Ramada on Monday at 4 p.m.

As in the case of the last director board meeting held on March 29, this meeting too is an exercise to satisfy the statutory requirements under the Companies Act. It was mandatory to hold the director board meeting once every three months.

The meeting was unlikely to take up the controversial issues that had withheld the implementation of the project for quite some time now.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Judicial meet inaugurated

KOCHI: A three-day National Judicial Academy South Zone Judicial Conference was inaugurated by Supreme Court Judge Cyriac Joseph on Friday.

Speaking at the conference, Justice Cyriac Joseph stressed the need for improving the performance of the judicial officers. He also said that the serving judges were criticised unnecessarily by retired judges.

The judicial officers should always have the urge to deliver justice on time. In fact, the attempt of the judicial officers must be to bring peace in society.

Presiding over the function, Chief Justice J. Chelameswar said that the judicial officers should work for delivering justice for all. They should be consistent in their rulings. Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair, Justice Pius C. Kuriakose, Justice V. Ramkumar and Mohan Gopal, Director, National Judicial Academy spoke.

3108 Lord Baltimore Drive, Windsor Mill, MD, 21224

KOCHI: Private buses in Kochi would keep off the road on Saturday, in support of the hartal called to protest against the fuel price hike.

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will operate its long-distance trip and normal trips only after 6 p.m. on Saturday, a KSRTC official said. The option of operating buses on convoy was not considered as there was no police protection for buses. The services would depend on Saturdays law and order situation, the official said.

It is doubtful whether services would resume even after 6 p.m., said M. B. Satyan, general secretary of the Ernakulam District Private Bus Operators Association. Two passenger ferry services of the SWTD from the city to West Kochi would ply before 6 a.m.

The other services would depend on the police protection given to them at the jetty and the number of passengers. They would resume after 6 p.m.

Superstars ruining industry: Vinayan

KOCHI: Film director Vinayan has said that the unchecked supremacy of �superstars is ruining the Malayalam film industry.

Speaking at the audio launch of his new movie, �Yakshiyum Njanum, he said the superstars should give way to new actors. They should be satisfied as they had already made crores from the industry. They should show the courage to take leave and give opportunities for the youth, Mr. Vinayan said.

Stating that leading film directors and producers had tried not to ensure a smooth release of his new movie, the director said that he had earned the wrath of such people for speaking against super stars and voicing support for the rights of the workers in the Malayalam film industry in his earlier capacity as chairman of Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA) Federation.Mr. Vinayan said that he would continue to speak against the ill-practices in the industry. Referring to the ongoing differences between the producers association and the State Film Exhibitors Federation, he said that many producers were making films even without spending a single penny thanks to the exhibitors who fund their projects by providing money as advance.

Such producers have to ensure that the exhibitors do not lose their money by investing in those projects, he said.

Infopark to set up BPO complex

KOCHI: Giving a boost to its phase two expansion, Infopark will set up a state-of-the-art BPO complex at an investment of Rs.200 crore over a period of three years.

Talking to The Hindu on Friday, Infopark Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Siddhartha Bhattacharya said the work on the BPO complex would begin later this year. He said the IT park at Cherthala being developed by Infopark under its hub and spoke model would be operational by December.

Mr. Bhattacharya said that 90 acres out of the 160 acres identified for the second phase expansion (at Puthencruz) had already been acquired and the rest would be acquired soon. �We will soon be submitting an application to declare 40 to 45 acres identified as Special Economic Zone, he said.

Cooperative hospital anniversary fete held

KOCHI: Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran has called for better professionalism in all sectors.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the 11 {+t} {+h} anniversary of the Thrikkakara grama panchayat cooperative hospital and the foundation stone laying ceremony for an annexe building of the hospital, he said that while striking work for a just cause is welcome, it was rather inhuman of the doctors to strike work frequently.

While professional education is important, social concerns need to be addressed too. The cooperative sector has achieved a landmark in the education sector by providing 16,000 seats out of the total 40,000 professional seats in the State. Compared to the seats available for professional education in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, which is about 1.75 lakh seats, the State is much too behind but it has certainly improved the position from what it was about three years ago, said the Minister.

The Minister also announced formally that the hospital would function as the Community Health Centre of the Cooperative Medical College, Kalamassery. Five house surgeons would be available at the Centre and arrangements would also be made to have house surgeons during night, he added.

Avoidable, says Chandy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has described as avoidable the latest hike in the prices of petroleum products.

In a statement here on Friday, Mr. Chandy urged the Centre to reconsider its decision. He also asked the State government to give up its additional revenue from the hike and provide that much relief to the people

Monsoon normal so far

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rainfall during the monsoon so far has been very close to the long-term average level over Kerala, according to the Meteorology Centre here.

Against a long-term average of 486.9 mm of rainfall for the period from June 1 to June 23, the State received an area weighted rainfall of 469.1 mm this time, the departure from normal being just four per cent on the deficit side. Six districts received above normal rainfall: Kozhikode recorded 769.4 mm of rainfall against a normal of 666.6 mm (15 per cent excess), Kasaragod 811.2 mm against 738.3 mm (10 per cent excess), Idukki 546.3 mm against 507.4 mm (eight per cent excess), Palakkad 373.2 mm against 353.7 mm (five per cent excess), Ernakulam 584.9 mm against 566.6 mm (three per cent excess) and Malappuram 475.5 mm against 471.6 mm (one per cent excess).

Minister calls for green practices

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The world has reached a stage where environmental concerns can no longer be ignored, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom has said.

He was inaugurating a seminar on �Green technologies, organised by the P.N. Panicker Foundation as part of the Reading Week celebrations, here on Friday.

�To be green is to be human. Green is the colour of life, he said. Sustainable development was gaining widespread acceptance. Leftist politics, he said, had a prominent role in bringing about green practices.

He recalled how the former Chief Minister Achutha Menon overcame hurdles to implement green technologies as early as the 1970s.

The headquarters of the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) was completed at a fraction of the estimated cost, utilising Laurie Bakers cost-effective and eco-friendly technologies. This was done braving stiff opposition from various quarters, he said.

Housing for all is the aim, says VS

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the aim of the State government was to achieve housing for all through the implementation of the EMS Housing Scheme and the M.N. Laksham Veedu scheme.

The Chief Minister was speaking after inaugurating the headquarters buildings of Neyyattinkara Municipality on Friday. The building has been named Swadeshabhimani Ramakrisha Pillai Memorial Building.

He said 5 lakh housing units would be built in the State under the two projects. The municipality should support these projects, which would give a fillip to development activities in the State. Likewise, the municipality should pay more attention to sanitation programmes, he said.

Mr. Achuthanandan said Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai had chosen a life of poverty and travails by becoming a journalist.

At a time when the Kings word was final, when the rule of the Dewan was at its zenith, Pillai stood his ground for the cause of freedom and showed the people the �dharma of journalism. All this and the fact that he introduced Marx and Gandhi to Keralites were historic actions, Mr. Achuthanandan said.

Cancer care to be strengthened

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy said here on Friday that the Department would strengthen community oncology activities across the State, modelled on the Community Oncology division at the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), with the cooperation of private sector hospitals as well as government hospitals. She was speaking after inaugurating the Silver Jubilee of the Community Oncology division at the RCC here on Friday.

She said one hospital in every district would be equipped as an early cancer detection centre, where the services of oncologists would be available at least once a week in the initial phase. This centre will coordinate with cancer treatment hospitals so that it will also function as a follow-up treatment centre for cancer patients.

Ms. Sreemathy said such early detection centres would be made a permanent feature as part of strengthening district-level cancer care and control activities. This was necessary as people often delayed seeking diagnosis and treatment due to the time and money they had to spend to reach specialised cancer treatment centres far away from their home district.

LDF: hike to hit family budgets

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Leaders of various LDF parties have accused the UPA government of having taken the decision to raise the prices of petroleum products and do away with the system of administered pricing in the petroleum sector to suit the interests of private oil monopolies.

In a joint statement here on Friday, CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI State secretary Veliyam Bhargavan, RSP State secretary V.P. Ramakrishna Pillai, Janata Dal (S) State president N.M. Joseph, Congress (S) State secretary N.V. Pradeep Kumar and Kerala Congress president P.C. Thomas said the decision to decontrol petroleum product pricing had been taken under the cover of the Kirit Parikh Committee recommendations.

The decisions to hike and decontrol the petroleum pricing system would hurt family budgets and have far-reaching consequences, they said.

Garbage collectors face health hazards

Thiruvananthapuram: Sreedevi, 43, starts her day as early as 2.30 a.m. She prepares breakfast, tends to her invalid husband and does other household chores before setting off to work at 4.30 a.m., clad in her green uniform sari.

She, like 872 other women, forms part of the citys garbage removal brigade. The Solid Waste Workers (SWW) have been grouped into 76 Klean Well units set up by the Kudumbasree Mission for the Capital City Clean City (CCCC) project implemented by the City Corporation in 66 wards.

Each Klean Well unit comprises 10 to 15 workers operating in an entrepreneur mode. Each worker earns salary of approximately Rs.3,000-3,500.

Most of the women are from financially backward families. Even though the majority are aware of the risks associated with their work, the steady source of income is a boon to them

Seized sand auctioned

AYYAPPANCOIL (Idukki): The Revenue Department auctioned eight loads of sands illegally mined from the Ambalakadvu sand-mining spot on the Periyar in the reservoir area of Idukki dam here on Friday.

The action follows the seizure of the sands after the Idukki Sub-Collector issued a conditional order banning mining of sands, earths and raw sands which affects the environment of the area and the biophysical system of a river.

The auction has fetched Rs.52,000 to the exchequer after a team led by Peerumade tahsildar C.M. Sebastian seized the sands at Ambalakaduvu, the main sand-mining spot on the Periyar where illegal mining was going on for sometime.

Since the area was close to the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary, the mining was going on even after the Travancore Cements, the company which was entrusted to mine sands in the reservoir of Idukki, Kallarkutty and Lower Periyar, has undertaken a survey here.

LDF calls dawn-to-dusk hartal

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) has called a dawn-to-dusk hartal on Saturday to protest against the hike in the prices of petroleum products and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments decision to decontrol petroleum product pricing.

The LDF State committee decided to organise the hartal at a hurried meeting held here close on the heels of the Centre announcing its decision to decontrol petroleum product pricing and to effect a sharp increase in the prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and kerosene.

Briefing reporters after the LDF panel meeting here on Friday, front convener Vaikom Viswan termed the UPA governments decision a major blow, particularly to the people of Kerala who were dependent on goods brought in from different parts of the country. He came down heavily on what he termed attempts of Congress leaders to justify the Central decision and their demand that the State should forego the additional revenue from the price hike so that the impact of the price hike could be made lighter.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NABARD launches awareness programme

KALPETTA: K.C. Sasidhar, chief manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), inaugurated �Nabard Vardhini, an innovative radio programme organised jointly by NABARD and Community Radio Mattoli, an initiative of the Wayanad Social Service Society, at Radio Mattoli Auditorium at Dwaraka, near Mananthavadi, on Wednesday.

Mar Jose Porunnedom, Bishop, Mananthavadi Dioceses, who is also the chairman of Community Radio Mattoli, presided.

The one-hour radio programme is aimed at creating awareness of farming practices, services of government, climate change adaptation, good governance and resource management.

The programme will be broadcast at 7.30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. daily.

More ganja found

KOCHI: In continuation of the discovery of 450 kg of ganja by the Railway Protection Force from near the parcel office at the Ernakulam South Railway Station on Wednesday, the Railway Police found two more bags of ganja, weighing around 208 kg, on Thursday.

The two bags were found lying unclaimed near the spot where ganja was found on Wednesday. As it was with the three bags found earlier, there were no markings pointing to the origin or destination of the consignment.

Police personnel honoured

KOCHI: Citations have been given to police personnel who led investigations of a couple of major crimes in the Ernakulam Range.

B. Sandhya, Inspector General of Police, Ernakulam Range, presented the citations to K.G. Babukumar, Circle Inspector, Paravoor; T.V. Shibu, sub-inspector; K.K. Jose, ASI; head constables P.T. Joy, P.D. Jayakumar and T.A. Pius; for cracking the ripper-model murder committed in Varappuzha, and to R. Jayachandran Pilliai, circle inspector; P.S. Subramanian, sub-inspector; M.T. Kurian, head constable and constables Gopakumar and Vijayakumar, Kidangoor police, for arresting the accused in the murder of an old woman.

Film exhibitors agree to assessment demand

KOCHI: Signs of a temporary truce between the warring sections in the Malayalam film industry emerged here on Thursday with the Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation (a combine of �A grade centres) agreeing to include the noon show collections while calculating the hold over percentage of a film. (Hold over is the assessment of collections before shifting a movie from a theatre).

The producers and distributors had wanted to take into account the noon show collections while fixing the hold over percentage for a film. But the exhibitors had earlier decided to restrict it to three screenings, excluding the noon show.

Federation general secretary M.C. Bobby said the body had rejected the demand for enhancing the share of publicity cost of the exhibitor.

He said exhibitors were now providing four per cent of the publicity cost. The producers and distributors associations had demanded that the exhibitors share be raised to nearly seven per cent.

Mr. Bobby urged the producers and distributors not to burden the exhibitors by demanding a hike in the publicity cost share.

IGNOU training for teachers

KOCHI: The Indira Gandhi National Open Universitys (IGNOU) Institute of Professional Competency Advancement of Teachers (IIPCAT) has come up with several programmes aimed at stepping up professional development of teachers.

The mission of IIPCAT includes competency advancement of teachers of all levels using multi-media technology. K.S. Divakaran Nair, Regional Director of IGNOU, said that the institute intends to develop itself as an effective vehicle to transform the role of teachers in educational institutions from being mere transmitters of information to facilitators of learning and construction of knowledge by students.

�To accomplish this mission, the IIPCAT will use multiple strategies such as organisation of in-service education, preparation of quality reference material and organisation of practical training in ICT and other relevant areas, Dr. Nair said

Heritage walk proposed for residents to know city better

KOCHI: A heritage walk helps residents and guests to know a city better. It also helps to maintain streets clean, Debashish Naik, who heads the heritage wing of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, said. Taking corporators and officials through an audio-visual presentation at the Kochi Corporation Council Hall on Thursday, he said that the heritage walk through old Ahmedabad is very popular, with even visiting dignitaries taking part in it.

�There are many national monuments in the area. Similar walks can be replicated in Kochi and need very little investment. They have a catalytic effect. Apart from ensuring cleanliness, the project helped renovate old buildings. Community spaces were upgraded in the walled portions of Ahmedabad city. They together resulted in higher living standards of the residents in the densely-populated area.

The municipal corporations heritage wing also provided engineering assistance to reinforce weak buildings and to renovate them. Care was taken to preserve the 120 bird feeders and bird pools in all neighbourhoods of the old city. The programme was titled �Getting the city back to the people. Care was also taken to have a pedestrian plaza and areas through which pedestrians could walk freely.

Project to popularise ornamental fish farming

KOCHI: Ornamental fish farming is growing to the backyards of households to venture into overseas markets.

The Kerala Aqua Venture International (KAVIL), the initiative of the State government, is planning to join hands with Kudumbasree and Self Help Groups to popularise the farming of aquarium fish varieties in the State. The scope is immense given the demand. But the supply is limited and efforts are on to increase the fish production, says A. Gopalakrishnan Nair, Managing Director of KAVIL.

It requires the space of just four cents, power connection and fresh water to become an entrepreneur in ornamental fish breeding.

Though it would cost around Rs. 1 lakh to set up the unit, half of the establishment cost would come as government subsidy to the entrepreneur.

Sanction for 52 roads by PWD in Ernakulam

KOCHI: No bill is pending in the Public Works Department (PWD) in Ernakulam district, which is unprecedented in the past 24 years, P.A. Hashim, Executive Engineer in the department, said here on Thursday.

At a press conference here in connection with the fourth anniversary of the State government, Mr. Hashim said that projects estimated at Rs.180 crore were to be taken up by the PWD (Buildings) section in the district.

He said Rs.50 lakh would be spent on constructing public toilets at General Hospital, the Collectorate, the civil stations at Thripunithura, Angamaly, and Perumbavur and the Kerala High Court. The work would be launched soon.

Renovation of old government buildings was under way in the district. Works estimated at Rs.23 crore had been completed. Works estimated at Rs.60 crore were progressing, while those at Rs.40 crore were near completion.

Residents protest against accumulation of waste

KOCHI: The rising heaps of refuse across the length and breadth of Thrikkakara have led the residents of Kunnumpuram, a residential locality in the panchayat, to hold a dharna in front of the panchayat office on Monday. Recently, Kunnumpuram area was flooded with waste, washed down in heavy rain.

Though the panchayat was forced to clear the debris, residents feel that the authorities have not done anything lasting to resolve the issue of dumping of waste at a location close to the panchayat office itself.

Secretary of Thrikkakara Residents Associations Apex Council Salim Kunnumpuram said that the practice of dumping waste behind the panchayat office has continued for too long. The waste is often washed down the hill to the Kunnumpuram area, he said.

Panchayat president Sabitha Kareem alleged that the recent incident in which large quantities of waste were washed into residential areas might be a deliberate act by somebody. She said that the breach through which the waste was washed down had been barricaded with strong iron grill, which would not have given away even in heavy rain.

3 more fever deaths in State

Thiruvananthapuram: Three more persons, including a 10-year-old and a pregnant woman, have succumbed to Influenza A(H1N1) infection in the State, taking the death toll due to the viral infection in its second spell to 31.

On Thursday, 41 persons were newly detected to be H1N1 positive in the State.

H1N1: schools conduct special assemblies

Thiruvananthapuram: Special assemblies were held in schools in the district on Thursday to create awareness among schoolchildren on H1N1 infection and to help them to be on the alert against the disease.

Assemblies were held as part of the district health administrations initiative to intensify awareness campaigns on H1N1 and to raise the level of alertness among school authorities, children and their parents so that a possible infection could be averted or taken care of in the early stages itself. The formal inauguration of the special programme on H1N1 in schools was inaugurated at the Manacaud Government Girls High School. As part of the initiative, all health, ASHA and Anganwadi workers are being given training to be on guard for any symptoms of H1N1 in the community. Tamiflu tablets are available at all primary health centres.

VS: drinking water, toilet facilities in all schools soon

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said the government will take immediate steps to make available drinking water and toilet facilities in all State-run educational institutions.

Inaugurating a new building of the Government Higher Secondary School, Kulathoor, on Thursday, the Chief Minister said instructions had been given to officials concerned to provide drinking water and toilet facilities in all educational institutions on priority basis and to take up other works later.

The Chief Ministers directive comes in the wake of the observation made by a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday over lack of toilet and urinal facilities in government and aided schools.

The Bench comprising Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice S.S. Satheesachandran had made the observation while hearing a petition filed by the State government to review a verdict directing it to provide basic amenities to all schools.

The Chief Minister said attempts were being made directly and indirectly to destroy the general education sector.

Mayor promises steps to minimise trouble

Thiruvananthapuram: The City Corporation will take all necessary measures to minimise the inconvenience caused to residents due to the day-long parking of loaded garbage vehicles in the city, Mayor C. Jayan Babu has said.

CPI(M) slams fiat on roadside meet

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The CPI(M) State secretariat has termed the Kerala High Court order banning roadside public meetings an assault on Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.

In a statement here on Thursday, the CPI(M) secretariat said that the Division Benchs order tended to infringe on the jurisdiction of the Legislature and the Executive and called upon the State government to take legal measures to get the order nullified. �Several of the orders issued by the High Court against agitations, strikes and campus politics were assaults on democratic rights. The ban on [roadside] public meetings is a dark verdict in the same direction, it said.

The CPI(M) leadership contended that roadside public meetings were being held without hampering traffic movement and that the authorities were taking alternative measures every time there was a large public meeting. The authorities normally gave permission for public meetings only subject to certain conditions. The High Court had issued the order banning roadside public meetings without taking all this into consideration and in gross violation of democratic norms and civil rights, the CPI(M) secretariat alleged.

e-tendering in PWD soon

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Public Works Department is gearing up to switch over to e-tendering of civil works within a fortnight. The new system, expected to streamline the execution of works by making it more transparent and efficient, will be implemented in phases.

Official sources told The Hindu here that in the first phase, submission and acceptance of tenders would go on stream. For the time being, the officials would have to verify manually the tender details. The remaining procedures would be incorporated into the new system at the earliest. Execution of works being a complex process, the new system could not be adopted at one go and could be integrated only in a phased manner.

Primarily, sources said, an e-payment facility will have to be provided to the contractors for buying the tender forms and remitting the earnest money deposit. Given the diverse nature of the works, the specifications and standards laid out for each work are different and these have to be verified against the details furnished by the contractors in the tender forms. Other than the road works, construction of buildings and other projects involve the use of different materials. Verification of details and tender approvals can be done in the new system only by computerising the department code and manual. Hence, a specific timeframe has been set for that.

Eco congress inaugurated

Thiruvananthapuram: Vice-Chairman of the Kerala State Planning Board Prabhat Patnaik has stressed the need for a new approach to development to ensure that everybody has the right to a minimum level of environmental facilities like clean air and safe drinking water.

Speaking after inaugurating the Kerala Environment Congress-2010 organised by the Centre for Environment and Development here on Thursday, he called for a rights-based approach to development for improved access to a minimum bundle of goods and services and environmental facilities. �Our consciousness of the environment must take the form of an overall campaign to ensure that everybody enjoys these rights, he said.

�The role of environment is continuously understated. Development is associated with a growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) under the presumption that production has only a positive impact,� he said.

Akshaya centres to accept bills

Thiruvananthapuram: The 2,200-odd Akshaya centres across the State would henceforth accept payment of taxes and bills issued by various government departments and agencies. They would be linked to the FRIENDS Janasevana Kendram network which functions solely for the purpose.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function held here on Thursday to launch FREES, an open source software developed by the National Informatics Centre for the FRIENDS (Fast Reliable Instant Effective Network for Disbursement of Services) single window facility, mission coordinator Rajeevan Chaladan said a system for online payment of bills was also being introduced.

�In the next two-three months, customers of the State Bank of Travancore will be able to make direct transfer of utilities payments through Net Banking. The payment gateway for other banks and credit / debit cards will be set up gradually, he added.

Hike in milk prices likely from June 28

Thiruvananthapuram: The milk price hike announced by the State government is expected to come into effect on June 28 or, at the latest, on July 1, though the Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Milma) is yet to take a formal decision in this regard.

It was on Wednesday that the government announced a price hike of Rs.3 a litre, thereby raising the consumer price of milk from Rs.20 to Rs.23 a litre.

Milma officials say that they are waiting for an official communication from the government before the price hike can be effected.

Milma had written to the government in April proposing a price hike of Rs.5 a litre as the cost of production was going up. And milk procurement was coming down with dairy farmers quitting the sector in large numbers.

Milma also proposed that it would not take any margin from the price hike and that 92 per cent of the hike (Rs.4.60) be given to farmers and the rest as incentives to agents and milk societies.

Medical camps to be organised

NAGAPATTINAM: Medical camps for cleft lip and cleft palate treatments would be organised in the district. In a release from the Collectorate, it has been stated that one child for every 800 births was affected with cleft lip and cleft palate. Over 400 such cases are presumed in the district.

Therefore, the department for the differently-abled along with the Kasturba Gandhi Kanya Gurukulam would organise medical camps to treat cleft lips and cleft palates.

Cleft lips and cleft palate medically known as cheiloschisis and palatoschisis is a condition where the upper lip and the roof of the mouth is deformed by birth.

According to the release, children from the age of three months to adults up to the age of 40 may participate in the camp.

Shortlisted persons would be taken for surgical treatment to Meenakshi Ammal Dental Hospital at Marudhavayal in Chennai.

Transport, accommodation and medical expenses would be made free of cost.

The release has called upon persons seeking to avail the treatment to register their names with the Office for the Welfare of the Differently-abled by the end of this month. Treatment would be provided in the month of July, the release stated.

Kerala Tourism website to go trendy

Close on the heels of releasing the Chinese version of the official website of Kerala Tourism (www.keralatourism.org), the popular travel website is all set to be branded and sport a contemporary look to cater to the changing profile of tourists from across the globe.

In addition to adding more content about Varkala, Kumarakom, Kochi, Bekal, Munnar, Periyar, Wayanad and Malabar, all information is to be made available to browsers at just three clicks.

The website is to be made available in Russian and Arabic too. A general introduction to the State and its major tourism destinations will be made available in the new versions initially. More content will be added after assessing the time spent by visitors on these sites.

With these two new versions, the official website will be available in seven international languages, apart from English, Malayalam and Hindi. The French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese versions are of immense help to tourists.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Arya Vaidya Sala factory at Nanjangud

Karnataka Minister for Medical Education Ramachandra Gowda inaugurated the factory. Minister for Urban Development and Law S. Suresh Kumar presided over the function.

Aryavaidyan P.K. Warrier, managing trustee and chief physician of Arya Vaidya Sala, welcomed the gathering. Leader of the Opposition in Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah was the chief guest on the occasion.

Arya Vaidya Sala general manager K.K. Warrier, chief superintendent P.M. Varier, additional chief physician K. Muraleedharan, and marketing consultant K.V. Ramachandran spoke. T.K. Sethumadhavan, project manager, proposed a vote of thanks.

The Rs.15-crore factory has been set up in 8.35 acres of land the Arya Vaidya Sala had bought from the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board

Resume ration card renewal: association

Kozhikode: The authorities should accept applications for renewal of ration cards, All-India Ration Dealers Association national general secretary Babychan Mukkadan said here on Tuesday.

Applications for correction should also be accepted. The decision to stop accepting applications at Civil Supplies Department offices, on an order by the Secretary for Food, is causing hardships to the public, he said.

All offices had recently displayed notices announcing that the services would be suspended. Nearly four lakh applications for new ration cards are pending. Of the 86 lakh families eligible for ration cards, about 70 lakh had been issued laminated cards, he said.

People would not be able to apply for gas connections and avail of various medical and education benefits without ration cards. The problems arising out of the delay in issuing new ration cards could be solved by issuing temporary cards and making corrections subsequently, he said.

Plantation Corporation\'s performance praised

Kozhikode: Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has called for greater stress on research to accelerate development in the farm sector, particularly plantations.

He was laying the foundation stone for a Rs.6-crore Malabar Cashew Divisional Office Complex of the government-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala Ltd. at West Hill on Tuesday.

Mr. Ratnakaran said public sector units (PSUs) under the Agriculture Department had made profits to the tune of Rs.244 crore in the past four years. Plantation Corporation alone had posted a profit of Rs.75.75 crore.

He said it had set an example for other PSUs by making profit and increasing production.

Mr. Ratnakaran said the corporation had posted a record profit. Its production had touched an all-time high.

More welfare measures would be introduced for the corporations staff, he said. �This year will be observed as Workers Welfare Year by Plantation Corporation, he said.

Complete all works before February next: Karim

Kozhikode: Industries Minister Elamaram Karim has asked government departments to complete all ongoing projects and welfare schemes before February 28, 2011.

Addressing a meeting to review the development projects in the district on Tuesday, he asked the departments to prepare a schedule to complete the projects in a phased manner. Each official should be entrusted with special authority to implement a project. They should chalk out a programme on a priority basis to implement the project within the next eight months, Mr. Karim said.

The official should mediate in case of any dispute in executing a project, especially if it was construction of roads. They should also utilise the service of elected representatives in this regard, he said.

City police launch redesigned web site



Kozhikode: The redesigned interactive website of the Kozhikode city police has been launched. The site www.kozhikodecitypolice.org has several features and links beneficial to the residents of the city.

The website, which has been defunct for nearly two years, is designed and developed by city-based Vedhya Technologies. Residents can log on to file complaints, submit applications for passport verification and obtain arms and mike licences online.

E-mail addresses and phone numbers of all police stations and mobile phone numbers of officers have also been posted on the site. The names of all officers have also been displayed. Residents can also put forth comments in the �suggestions link.

The new home page provides separate details on wanted persons, missing persons, unidentified dead bodies and arrested persons. Graphs of accident cases and accident death cases updated till 2009 have also been promptly displayed.

Phone numbers of nearest police station/control room (100), crime stopper (1090/2720090), womens helpline (1091/2724143), womens cell (2724420), highway alert ( 9846100100), highway patrol (9946500108), rail alert (9896200100), child helpline (1098) and SMS centre (949790000) have been given on the home page.

Sukumaran Nair is NSS secretary

KOTTAYAM: The budget session of the Nair Service Society (NSS) has elevated assistant secretary G. Sukumaran Nair, the power behind the throne, to the newly created post of secretary.

Mr. Nair, who joined the NSS as an accountant, has a record of 48 years of service and has been playing a crucial role in the resurgence of the organisation. The brain behind the �equidistance policy � through which he has successfully turned the organisation into a vote bank, Mr. Sukumaran Nair was also instrumental in the implementation of its successful experiment in micro-financing.

Mr. Sukumaran Nair, who has been president of the Changanassery taluk union of the NSS for the past two decades, brings with him the vast experience he had gained through his association with Mannathu Padmanbhan and three general secretaries, N. Parameswaran Pillai, Kidangoor Gopalakrishna Pillai and P.K. Narayana Panicker. For the past eight years, he has been functioning as assistant secretary.

A close relative of Valparambil Velayudhan Pillai, one of the founding fathers of the NSS, Mr. Sukumaran Nair credits the NSS for his rise in the organisation.

�I had no godfathers. But I could rise to this position because there is no organisation like the NSS which gives opportunity to those who are ready to work hard, he said.

MG University BA results out

Kottayam: Mahatma Gandhi University on Tuesday announced the results of the final year BA degree examinations held in March 2010. Among the 8,259 candidates, who appeared for the exams in the regular and private streams, 5,863 have passed and 1,516 of them secured first class. A total of 1,751 students passed in second class and 2,201 in third class.

The total pass percentage is put at 71 percent.

The following is the list of toppers in various subjects:

Malayalam Language and Literature: 1)Indu P. Nampoothiri, 683 marks out of 800, Maharajas College, Ernakulam; 2)Repsy Marium Mathew, 681, St. Thomas College, Kozhencherry; 3)Alphonsa Francis, 678, Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha.

Islamic History: 1)Nabeela Nasrin S., 566, Maharajas College, Ernakulam;

English Language and Literature: 1)Rajasree R., 693, Maharajas College, Ernakulam; 2)Betty Elsa Jacob, 641, B.C.M. College, Kottayam; 3)Sneha Suresh, 640, St. Teresas College, Ernakulam

DCC chief: focus on Azhakeshan

KOLLAM: The name of senior Congress leader N. Azhakeshan has emerged as a �favourite to replace Kadavoor Sivadasan as Kollam District Congress Committee (DCC) president.

Congress sources, however, told The Hindu that nothing could be finalised as a minority group in the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) leadership was in favour of maintaining status quo in Kollam by asking Mr. Sivadasan to continue as the president. Most of the other names for the DCC presidents post that was in circulation earlier had now been eliminated, sources said.

Both Mr. Azhakeshan and Mr. Sivadasan are from the �I group and interestingly the support for both of them comes from a divided �I group. Sources said the �A group in the district favoured Mr. Azhakeshan. Mr. Azhakeshan was earlier DCC president from 1985 to 1987.

Officials visit AKG\'s Peralassery house

KANNUR: Government officials visited the 70-year-old house of the late legendary Communist leader A.K. Gopalan at Peralassery here on Tuesday following a move for its demolition and the protest it drew from local Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers.

The team of officials led by Additional District Magistrate P.K. Sudheer Babu visited the house located at Vadakkumbad at Peralassery under the instruction of the State government following the protests by the CPI(M) workers against the move to demolish it by its present owner and nephew of the late leader.

The work to demolish the two-storied house located in a 26.75-cent plot was suspended on Monday following the party workers protest. The ADM and other officials who spoke to Mr. Sadashivan during their visit were assured by the latter that the suspended work to demolish the building would not be resumed.

Smooth ride for highway development

KANNUR: As the debate goes on in the State on the width required for the proposed four-laning of the National Highway (NH), the development of the existing stretch of the NH in the northern region into a four-lane highway with a stipulated width of 45 metres will hardly pose any problem, including large-scale displacement of people, as land is already available for upgrading most part of the stretch from Thalapady on the Kerala-Karnataka border in Kasaragod and Poozhikkara near Mahe.

The 160-km reach from Thalapady to Mahe covering the districts of Kasaragod and Kannur has been included in the NH Development Programme (NHDP) for four-laning and the alignment has been approved by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) which has relaxed its norm of 60 metre width and permitted the State to acquire land for 45 metre width considering the density of population. The land acquisition has been completed from Thalapady to Kasaragod (about 32 km) and four-laning has already been done in the Kasaragod town portion.

New centre

KALPETTA: The �Bhoomika Gender-based Violence Management Centre, a centre aimed at providing free counselling, medical and legal help to victims of domestic violence, will be inaugurated by P. Krishnaprasad, MLA, at Sulthan Bathery in the district on Friday. At a press conference here on Tuesday, District Medical Officer Neetha Vijayan said the centre would function under the Arogya Keralam project.

Father hacks twins, one killed

KALPETTA: A youth was killed and his twin brother injured when their father reportedly hacked them with a knife late on Monday night at Padinjarethara in the district.

The police said that Mohammed Rayin, 49, of Moongapurath at Padinjarethara hacked his son Abu Thahir, 21, around 10.45 p.m. on Monday night.

Though Thahir was rushed to the Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode, he died on the way.

His twin, Jalal, was admitted to a private hospital here with serious injuries.

The police say in a quarrel between Rayin and his wife Sainaba, the twins supported their mother. This apparently infuriated Rayin, prompting him to do the crime. Rayin is absconding.

Five escape unhurt as 120-year-old building collapses

ALAPPUZHA: Five persons, including two women, had a miraculous escape when a double-storied building, estimated to be over 120 years old and which was in the possession of a court-appointed receiver for the last 41 years, collapsed here on Tuesday.

The building, near the Municipal Council office, collapsed around 1.30 p.m. Three persons escaped while two women, Renuka, 40, and Sunitha Rani, 29, who were trapped inside the debris were rescued by the Fire and Rescue Services personnel. The women were employees of a tile and brick dealership located on the ground floor of the building. The others were present at a building designers office and at the AITUC Union office, situated on the first floor of the building.

. The 35-cent plot and building are currently in the possession of receiver P.S. Sreeja. While Ms. Sreeja told reporters that the tenants had been served a notice two months ago to vacate the premises, the tenants said they had warned the receiver that the building, without maintenance and repair works for the past several years, could come down any moment

Blood donation camp held

KOCHI: Tamil Aikya Sangam, in association with the Indian Medical Association (IMA), organised a blood donation camp at SN High School, Ayyappankavu, on Saturday. The programme was inaugurated by R.Sanarthanam, president, World Tamil Federation, Chennai.

L. Sappanimuthu, president of the Sangam, presided over the function. Special gifts were presented to the blood donors by Tamil Nadu Minister Pongalur Palanisamy. The blood donation camp was in connection with the World Tamil Semmozhi Conference to begin at Coimbatore on Wednesday. A.S. Babu welcomed the gathering and R. Raveendran proposed a vote of thanks.

1,865 acres of land to be acquired

Kochi: The Wayanad district administration has decided to acquire 1,865 acres (1 acre = 0.4 hectare) of land for rehabilitation of tribal people, the State government said in a petition filed before the Kerala High Court on Tuesday.

The petition, filed through K.R. Ganesh, Senior Government Pleader, sought to extend by four months the time given by the court to evict encroachers from land in possession of V.M. Sreyamskumar, MLA, and others in Wayanad.

Otherwise, the governments attempt at rehabilitation would be seriously prejudiced, the petition said. The Supreme Court, dismissing an appeal filed by the State against the High Court directive for eviction, had ordered that the government and the District Collector could approach the High Court to get the deadline extended.

The petition said authorities had inspected land proposed to be acquired at Mananthavady and Vythiri. The administration would negotiate with landowners the price of the property to be purchased.

The government said 34 huts each were removed from lands at Mupainad and Pozhuthana villages.

U.K. seeks more Indian investment

KOCHI: Opening up Indias higher education sector would enable foreign universities to offer their courses here, thus contributing to enhancing the quality of education in the country, British Deputy High Commissioner in India Mike Nithavrianakis has said.

Participating in an interactive programme organised here by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said there is plenty of scope for India and the U.K. to intensify cooperation in the education sector. There was a time when Indians studying in the U.K. were too focused on the MBA course. This trend is changing now.

He said that India was less affected by the economic crisis because of a relatively conservative banking sector. Urging more Indians to invest in the U.K., he said that his country has a system to help investors identify a location, to inform them about the tax system and labour rules. Kerala has the potential to attract investments in tourism, ports and IT, he said

Minister blames school managements

KOCHI: Education Minister M.A. Baby has blamed some school managements in the aided sector for the adverse comments made by the High Court regarding infrastructure facilities.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here on Tuesday, Mr. Baby, however, said the government would consider the High Court observation as a motivation to vigorously take forward its initiative to improve infrastructure facilities in schools.

He said the government was paying salary to the teaching and non-teaching staff in the aided sector. However, it was the responsibility of the managements to put in place toilets and other infrastructure facilities in such institutions.

Asked whether the government would initiate action against schools which failed to ensure infrastructure facilities, Mr. Baby said administrative sanction was not the solution to the problem. The government stand was to find a solution to the issue through consultations with the managements, he said.

State to aid NH repairs

KOCHI: The State government will fund the repair of national highways and the works will be implemented in two phases, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has said.

The road repairs will be completed before August 15. Engineers will be given an imprest fund of Rs.50,000 each to carry out timely repairs. Funds will also be allotted for resurfacing of roads, he said after a meeting with the officials concerned here on Tuesday.

Dr. Isaac said the tender for the resurfacing of roads would be issued in October and the work would begin in November.

The government had decided not to wait for the Centre to repair the roads. It was estimated that a sum of Rs.20 crore would be required for the work, he said.

The failure to undertake pre-monsoon repairs and the delay in carrying out regular maintenance had damaged large tracts of national highways in the State. The government was planning to allot the repair of 13 roads at Sabarimala on a long-term basis, Dr. Isaac said.

A proposal for creating drains on the flanks of the roads would be considered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The scheme would be launched after the monsoon. The lack of storm-water drains was one of the reasons for the roads getting easily damaged, he said.

Restrictions on holding demonstrations in city

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the police to ensure that the number of participants in a procession or a demonstration to be taken out in the Kochi city was limited to the number mentioned in the application seeking permission submitted by organisers.

The Bench comprising Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair and Justice P.S. Gopinathan also directed that the organisers should state in the application the approximate number of participants, the proposed ground and place where they would assemble. The ordered that the police commissioner should assess the seating capacity of the ground or place before issuing permission for holding demonstrations or processions.

Only the stated number of persons should be allowed to enter the place or grounds. The police could check the vehicles at the entry point to control the participants.

The court ordered that these directives be made part of the guidelines laid down by the Full Court.

Land acquisition for railway overbridges to begin soon

KOCHI: The land acquisition for the three railway overbridges in the city will begin shortly and the State government has allotted Rs. 135 crore for the projects, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has said.

The overbridges have been proposed at Atlantis, Ponnurunni and Pachalam. The Kerala Roads and Bridges Development Corporation (KRBDC) will initiate the land acquisition works using the Rs. 100 crore allotted by the government.

The tender works of the bridge at Ponnurunni will begin shortly. With development projects worth Rs. 50,000 crore being implemented in the city, infrastructure development facilities including development and widening of roads will have to be undertaken, Mr. Isaac told media persons.

The government will deposit Rs 156 crore with the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC), which is implementing the Kochi Metro Railway project, for restructuring the North overbridge. The restructuring is being undertaken as part of the preparatory works for the Kochi metro. Widening of at least 16 roads has to be undertaken in the city.

Forgery: police register case

Thiruvananthapuram: The Museum police have registered a case of forgery against a couple on the charge of fabricating the letter head of Union Minister of State for Railways E.Ahamed to facilitate the release of emergency quota seats on the Nagercoil-Kolkota Shalimar Express (Train no: 2659) on June 20.

Circle Inspector, Museum, J.K. Dinil, said the police registered the case against the suspects on the basis of a complaint filed by the Deputy Commercial Manager, Southern Railways, Palakkad.

The police suspect the forged letter was faxed from a BSNL telephone line in the city. The investigation into the case was at a premature stage, he said. No other person had been named as accused in the case so far.

Water supply disrupted

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The supply of drinking water to parts of the city, including Shanghumughom, the airport and Veli, was disrupted for a few hours on Tuesday following a leak in a 150 mm cast iron pipeline near Pettah. Normal supply in the line was restored by 2 p.m. Officials of the Kerala Water Authority said the leak was initially thought to be in a 450 mm concrete line originating from the reservoir at the Observatory Hill. Accordingly, water supply in that line was cut off by operating an underground valve at Pettah.

However, when KWA officials dug down to the pipe it was found that the leak was in the smaller line laid parallel to the concrete line. Had the leak been in the bigger line, restoration of water supply would have taken many hours more.

Rain to pick up later this week

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After the relative lull of the past few days the monsoon is likely to bring three-four days of good rainfall over Kerala from Thursday or Friday under the influence of a low pressure system expected to form in the Bay of Bengal close to the Bihar coast, according to the weather prediction models of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Director of the Thiruvananthapuram Meteorology Centre K. Santhosh on Tuesday said the expected low pressure system could intensify the monsoon flow from the southwest across the State during this period.

But the systems formation being very close to the Bihar coast, it might quickly enter the land and dissipate.

The evolving spell of rainfall might not be as intense as the one Kerala received in the middle of this month.

Second round of allotment on June 29

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Commissioner for Entrance Examinations will conduct the second round of allotment for professional degree courses on June 29.

A press note here on Tuesday said candidates can re-order their course-college options or cancel them from June 23 to 25. The list of option facilitation centres and helpdesks could be had from the web site www.cee-kerala.org.

Candidates who are satisfied with the allotment received in the first round should cancel their higher order options. The designated web site for submitting course-college options will open at 10 a.m. on June 23 and close at 5 p.m. on June 25.

Candidates allotted to all courses should remit fee, balance fee and deposit at the designated branches of the State Bank of Travancore from June 30 to July 2.

Steps to combat A(H1N1) in district

Thiruvananthapuram: The district health administration, as part of strengthening the precautionary measures against A(H1N1), has reached the drug Tamiflu to all primary health centres.

All field-level health workers, ASHA, anganwadi activists are being trained to look out for possible symptoms of H1N1 infection and inform the health authorities to take necessary measures , District Medical Officer N. Sridhar said.A meeting convened by Director of Health Services M.K. Jeevan and Additional DHS (Public Health) P.P. Aravindan here decided to coordinate special measures at the district-level to combat the rising incidence of H1N1 infection.

As part of a special scheme being implemented to educate schools to watch out for H1N1 infection among children, communications have been sent to all schools through the Deputy Director of Education to hold a special assembly on June 24 to disseminate information on H1N1 among children and make them more alert against the infection.

Hassle-free loans for students sought

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: District panchayat president Anavoor Nagappan has called upon banks to disburse education loans to all eligible students .

Inaugurating a district-level review committee meeting on banking here on Tuesday, Mr. Nagappan congratulated the banks for achieving the annual loan target of 2009-10.

George Mercier, MLA, urged banks to improve credit delivery to the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes and women and provide more banking facilities to the people in coastal areas.

N. Rajan, MLA, urged banks to conduct awareness programme on schemes for financial inclusion. J. Arundhathi, MLA, asked banks to consider disbursing loans to men self-help groups.

The meeting was informed that financial institutions in the district disbursed Rs. 4,944.44 crore under the priority sector against the target of Rs. 3,919.26 crore.

Under the agriculture sector, Rs.2,477.68 crore was disbursed against the target of Rs.1,546.44 crore; Rs.2,258.63 crore was disbursed in the service sector against the target of Rs.2,107.78 crore; and in the non-farm sector, which includes industrial credit, disbursement was to the tune of Rs.208.13 crore.

Empowering citizens against crime

Thiruvananthapuram: The police will soon enable civic-minded citizens with mobile phone cameras to send them photographs of traffic accidents, disasters and crime in real time.

Deputy Commissioner of Police C.H. Nagaraju said the proposed Social Intelligence Network for Crime and Information (Sinclair) would make it possible for the police to receive photographs with evidentiary value from citizens, members of the neighbourhood watch and coastal vigilance committees, including seagoing fishermen, quickly.

The informants could send photographs, text, video and audio recordings as multimedia messages (MMSs) to an email account operated by the police. The identity of the informants would be kept a secret.

Railway bomb detection squad starts functioning

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A bomb detection and disposal squad set up under the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in Kerala has started functioning at the Thiruvananthapuram Central station here.

The squad, first of its kind in the railway network in the State, will function round-the-clock.

With this, the Railways need not depend on the State security agencies for carrying out anti-sabotage checks in the wake of bomb threats in trains or in railway installations in the capital.

The squad comprising six RPF personnel trained in handling explosives and their detection and led by an inspector had been provided with the latest bomb detection and disposal equipment.

The unit was inaugurated by Divisional Railway Manager Rajiv Dutt Sharma in the presence of Additional Railway Manager Ashok Kumar and other officials on Tuesday.

Empty LPG tanker lorry rams shop

KANNUR: An empty LPG tanker lorry rammed into a shop here on Tuesday morning causing disruption of road traffic on the National Highway near the Thana junction.

The tanker lorry was on its way from Kozhikode to Mangalore when it slammed into the ground floor of a shopping complex at Thana.

The incident occurred at around 3.30 a.m. The vehicle stopped after hitting the shutters of the shop. The drivers cabin of the tanker lorry was damaged in the accident. The driver and cleaner of the vehicle were not injured.

It took nearly four hours to remove the tanker lorry from the spot. Road traffic on National Highway was hit for some time while the tanker lorry was being hauled out.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Clash at Vennala

KOCHI: . A police team is camping at Kottankavu, Vennala following clashes between activists of two political parties on Sunday over building a bus waiting shed near the residential quarters of a bank near Vennala.

National policy on pension sought

OCHI: Former judge of the Supreme Court, V. R. Krishna Iyer, has urged the government to evolve a national policy on retirement age and pension. Addressing a meeting of the SBI Pensioners Association (Kerala) here on Sunday, he said pension benefits were not charity and there should not be any discrimination or arbitrary decisions in respect of disbursement of pension.

The government does not have a standard policy on retirement age. The age of retirement varies in respect of various categories of employees such as IAS officers, High Court judges and Supreme Court judges. If Supreme Court judges are allowed to continue in service till the age of 65, is it justified on the part of the government to ask others to retire at an earlier age, he asked.

He also inaugurated a website of the association. B.S.Bhasin, Chief General Manager, State Bank of India, Kerala Circle, V.Ramamoorthy, General Manager, SBI, Local Head Office, Thiruvananthapuram, and others spoke.

Ayurveda Mandalam jubilee fete begins

KOCHI: The Kerala Ayurveda Mandalam would get the support of the Union Government in their project to cultivate medicinal plants.

This was stated by the Union Minister for State for Agriculture K. V. Thomas during the inaugural function of the golden jubilee year celebration of the Mandalam here on Sunday.

The district unit of the Mandalam announced the launch of this scheme during the function. The District Collector has also given the nod to utilise the 10 acres of the Civil Station premises to grow medicinal herbs, said the district secretary of the Mandalam, G. K. Menon.

The agenda for the year includes conducting medical camps in every taluk and to run campaigns for better awareness of ayurveda and growing medicinal herbs that would be given to every home.

Fishes from cage farming harvested

KOCHI: An experimental cage culture of Asian sea bass Lates calcarifer (Kalanchi/Narimeen) and wild-collected grey mullet Mugil cephalus (Thirutha) along Moothakunnam coast, near here, under the aegis of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) over the last six months has concluded on a positive note.

Fish from the experimental cage farming was harvested on Saturday with Syda Rao, Director of the Fisheries Research Institute inaugurating the event.

The cage farming experiment was put up for demonstration of the cage culture technology developed by scientists at CMFRI, said a press release here.

The indigenous cage, with a diameter of 6 m and made of high density polyethylene material is cost-effective.

A few numbers of pearl spots Etroplus suratensis (Karimeen) were also stocked for maximum utilization of the water area in the cage.

5-year guarantee clause for city roads mooted

KOCHI: Major city roads should be repaired with a five-year guarantee clause for providing quality motorable roads for the city dwellers, feel civic administrators.

The Kochi Corporation will make a proposal for including the Chittoor Road in the guarantee scheme. Presently, the Sahodaran Ayyappan road and the Edapally High Court road are being repaired and maintained under the scheme. The civic authorities are of the view that the system should cover more roads which handles high volume of vehicular traffic. However, the permission for the work should be given by the State government, said M. Anilkumar, chairman of the Town Planning Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation.

The road work can be implemented under the Peoples Plan programme and a proposal to this effect will be placed before the corporation council during its next session. The State government will not have to spend money for the project as the civic body would be able to meet the expense on its own, he said.

Telecom adalat

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The next sitting of the telecom adalat of the Thiruvananthapuram Telecom District will be held later this month.

Complaints and grievances that were unsolved by other redress facilities only can be represented in the adalat. The last date for submitting the complaints, with full particulars and relevant documentary evidence, to K.P. Ramesh, AGM (OP), Office of the PGMT, Uppalam Road, Thiruvananthapuram-695 001 is June 28, a release said.

A(H1N1) claims three more lives

Thiruvananthapuram: The Influenza A (H1N1) infection has claimed three more lives in the State, taking the total death toll during the second spell of the infection to 25. All three deaths were reported from Thiruvananthapuram

The deaths, confirmed as due to H1N1, are of Sreelakshmi (29), of Kazhakuttam, who died at the Medical College hospital here on June 18; Mini Rajesh (34) of Pallikkal who died on June 19 at Gokulam Medical College and Simi (22) of Edava, who had been pregnant and who died while under treatment at the Thiruvananthapuram MCH.

Thirty new cases of H1N1 were also confirmed in the State on Sunday.

These include 12 cases reported from Thiruvananthapuram, six from Kozhikode, two each from Kollam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Wayanad, three cases from Malappuram and one case from Idukki

Pallipuram CRPF firing range �under cover\'

Thiruvananthapuram: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has erected overhead wooden safety �baffles at its small arms firing range at Pallipuram, near here, to protect people living adjacent to the training facility from stray bullets.

CRPF Group Centre Deputy Inspector-General K.V. Madhusoodhanan said the structure would ensure that bullets fired within the 200-metre range were contained within its boundaries.

A steep earthen slope at the target end of the firing range is the primary impact area for the bullets fired in the facility. It prevents the projectiles from ricocheting off the impact area and straying outside the range.

The range is surrounded by tall impact-absorbing walls, which also muffles the sound of gunfire. The overhead safety structures are erected in a manner that the shooter, regardless of his position, cannot sight the sky downrange or fire bullets upward, inadvertently or otherwise.

Engineering students develop automatic cleaning robot

Thiruvananthapuram: An automated floor cleaner that can manoeuvre around a room without bumping into furniture while sweeping up dust and mopping the floor squeaky clean. Anyone used to household chores will not mind dishing out a fortune for such a gadget.

A team of final semester students of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the Lourdes Matha College of Science and Technology near here have developed an automatic cleaning robot as part of their course work.

The robot uses sensors to detect the presence of an object near it and steers clear. It collects the dust and dirt in a bag provided inside the machine. The machine is equipped with a timer that switches it on. It works on a rechargeable battery power pack.

Spells against global warming

Thiruvananthapuram: With a wave of his magic wand, P. Preeth replaced an incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and slashed the amount of a water bill from Rs.1,000 to Rs.90.

The 27-year-old magician, an animator by profession, was demonstrating how an eco-friendly lifestyle can not only save money but also help cool the warming globe. He won the first prize in the �Eco-Magic competitions organised here on Sunday under the auspices of the Magic Academy and the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment.

Speech and hearing impaired, Mr. Preeth relied upon mime and magical visuals to drive home his point. He won the first prize in the senior category.

Nursing student and magician Abhinraj used his skills to present symbolic images of the huge glaciers of the past, their depleted versions caused by global warming and the areas flooded by the rising sea level.

DPI officials pass the green test

Thiruvananthapuram: A lush green farm greets visitors to the sprawling campus housing the office of the Director of Public Instruction (DPI) in the city. Swaying banana palms share space with neatly planted rows of amaranthus and ladys finger.

Employees in the office are preparing for a bountiful harvest. They are proud of the farm they have created. It was in October last year that the project to develop a vegetable garden on the four-acre campus was taken up under the Clean Kerala Mission with encouragement from DPI A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish.

Changes in inland fishery Bill sought

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Bangalore-based Asoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment has said that the Kerala Inland Fishery Bill should lay emphasis on protection of the habitat and measures to increase fish resources.

In suggestions submitted to Fisheries Minister S. Sarma on the basis of a workshop conducted by the organisation here recently, it said the current emphasis of the Bill was on regulation and policing.

The trust said the section dealing with aquaculture should stress against culture and distribution of exotics species. Provisions to ensure this should be included in clauses dealing with inspection of seedlings and certification

Bid to bring down accidents on Kovalam-Kollam highway

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) will step up enforcement in those stretches along the Kovalam-Kollam stretch of NH 47 where people are most accident prone. This is in view of the mounting road accidents in the corridor. Awareness drives will also be taken up, sources said.

Four persons travelling in a car from the airport to their home were killed in an accident involving two cars at Kadambattukonam early on Thursday. Driver fatigue and attempt to overtake another vehicle at a sharp curve reportedly resulted in the head-on collision. The lack of medians along many vulnerable stretches, failure of motorists to maintain lane discipline and misuse of high beam lights are posing problems despite efforts to rectifying engineering defects of these roads.

The MVD will undertake continuous enforcement along the Kadambattukonam-Chathanpara stretch to check over speeding, rash and negligent driving, jumping of yellow lines, dangerous overtaking and other offences.

Dalawa\'s sword comes home

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The personal sword of Velu Thampi Dalawa, the ruler of erstwhile Travancore who fought against the British, will henceforth adorn the Napier Museum in the capital city.

The sword is placed inside a bulletproof enclosure which will be monitored constantly using nine security cameras. The enclosure will be monitored from a control room situated inside the Museum police station. Ten policemen will form the outer ring of security for the priceless sword.

It was playback singer K.J. Yesudas who placed the sword inside the special enclosure on Sunday evening. As part of a government initiative to spread awareness about the role of the Dalawa in the fight against British imperialism, school students will be admitted free to the Napier Museum and to the adjacent zoo on all Sundays.

Earlier, Culture Secretary V. Venu and Chief Secretary P. Prabhakaran received the sword from the representatives of the Centre led by Union Culture Secretary Jawahar Sarkar. The sword was then handed over to Minister for Culture M.A. Baby and to Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran.

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