Saturday, August 7, 2010

Title deeds for all Adivasis in Wayanad by October

KALPETTA: Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran said here on Saturday that Wayanad would be the first district in the State to complete the distribution of land deeds under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 by the end of October.

Inaugurating �Pattaya Melas held at Mananthavadi and Sulthan Bathery, Mr. Rajendran said the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had distributed land deeds to 4,025 applicants under the Forest Rights Act so far and the remaining 602 applications were in the final stage of processing.

The applicants will be given the title deeds by October-end, he added.

The Minister complimented the officials concerned for achieving the goal within a short span of time.

He said the State would set a model for the country by enacting the Forest Right Act.

State should stop blaming Centre: Ravi

ALAPPUZHA: Union Minister for Indian Affairs Overseas Vayalar Ravi has said that the State government, instead of blaming the Centre should initiate steps to reduce the impact of price rise, an inevitable fallout of a nations growth.

Inaugurating the Alappuzha district convention of the Mahila Congress here on Saturday, Mr. Ravi said the Centre was making efforts through various schemes to reduce the impact on the common man. However, the Left Democratic Front government in the State was doing nothing except pointing a finger at the Centre.

Concern over delay in rail factory project

ALAPPUZHA: With the proposed Kerala Rail Component Factory project at Cherthala getting delayed inordinately, employees of the steel fabrication unit (SFU) of the Steel Industrials Kerala Limited (SILK) here have expressed concern over their future, and that of the project itself.

As per the agreement signed between the Railways and the State government, a joint venture company (JVC), taking over the steel fabrication unit and then the Autokast factory in a phased manner, was to be set up. However, even after a memorandum of understanding was signed in June 2008, the company is yet to be registered, say the employees of SFU, which has already been detached from SILK.

If the company is not registered as per the terms agreed to between the Railways and the State, Kerala might lose the Rs.85 crore that was sanctioned for the purpose in the railway budget, the employees fear. The capital investment for the new company is Rs.36 crore, out of which the States share is 49 per cent. After the value of the land and assets owned by the State, a sum of Rs.2.7 crore has to be deposited with the Railways. Apart from this, the provident fund arrears of about 40 SFU employees, the electricity bill dues of the SFU and other arrears, which are to be paid by the State, come up to Rs.6 crore.

Do not criticise judiciary unfairly\'

Kochi: Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas on Saturday said that criticism of the judiciary beyond all limits would destabilise the democratic system of the country.

Inaugurating the silver jubilee celebrations of the Central Administrative Tribunal, organised by the Ernakulam Bench and CAT Advocates Association, he said that the duty of the judiciary was to analyse and interpret the laws enacted by the legislatures. The judiciary delivered its verdicts after considering the merits of the law. Therefore, criticism of the judiciary would only weaken the democratic system.

The Minister said that instead of debating the bills and helping enact flawless laws, the members of Parliament and Assemblies often indulged in creating uproarious scenes and rushing to the well of the Houses. He said that the judiciary could not be blamed for delivering a verdict based on a law enacted by the legislature unless the legislature made flawless laws. The judiciary is one of the pillars which strengthened the democratic system in the country.

A milestone for green building movement

KOCHI: The Indian Green Building Council, an organisation pioneering the green building movement, has reached a significant milestone of having 100 fully functional green buildings across the country.

The 100 certified green building projects amounts to over 26 million sq.ft. of green building footprint. Of these, over 20 green buildings have installed one or more renewable energy technologies like solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and onsite and offsite wind energy.

The functional green buildings will annually abate over 0.31 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and save energy by 30-40 per cent and water by 20-30 per cent as compared to conventional buildings. Other intangible benefits include improved day lighting, enhanced indoor air quality and health and well-being of the occupants. Many of the 100 certified buildings are naturally-ventilated.

The 100 operational buildings of various types spread across six climatic zones include Legislative Assembly, government buildings, airports, corporate offices, educational institutions, hospitals, banks, IT parks, individual houses, factories and special economic zone.

This milestone has put India in the international map of green buildings, according to S. Raghupathy, head of the Green Business Centre, which has offices in various States.

Amateur drama awards announced

KOCHI: Yakshikkathakalum Naattuvarthamanangalum won the best drama award and Makkalkoottam was adjudged the second best at the amateur drama competitions conducted by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi at Valancherry from August 1 to 6.

At a press conference here on Saturday, Mukesh, actor, who is the Chairman of the akademi, said the best drama, presented by Suvarna Theatres, Valayanchirangara, Ernakulam, also won for its director, K. Vinod Kumar, the best playwright award and Surabhi C.M the best actor (female) award.

Makkalkoottam, directed by Pramod Payyannoor and presented by Prakash Kalakendram, Neeravil, Kollam, won the second best actor awards for Rajesh Sharma and Sreeranjini.

C.R. Rajan was selected the best actor (male) for his role in Nrutham.

The second best playwright award went to Mehamood Parassinikkadavu for Muhammadali Eesa Thakroni Adhava Oru Jeevithanatakam.

C.V. Sudhi won the best director award for Anungalillatha Pennungal. Asokan Kathiroor, director of Athmavinte Idanaazhi, won the second prize

International theatre festival

KOCHI: The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi will organise an international theatre festival in December in Thrissur. Troupes from the U.K., Japan, Australia and Latin America will participate.

Announcing this at a press conference here on Saturday, the akademi chairman and actor Mukesh said efforts were underway to revitalise theatre. The reasons behind the decline in the standards as well as the response from the people were being discussed at various forums.

The amateur drama competitions held by the akademi brought several aspects of the contemporary theatre to the fore.

58 cases settled at mega-adalat

NEYYATTINKARA: One hundred and fifty seven disputes involving issues ranging from dowry harassment to cheating were taken up for hearing at a mega-adalat organised by the Kerala State Womens Commission here on Saturday. Of these 58 cases were settled, the Commission chairperson D. Sreedevi said

Vanasree shop

Thiruvananthapuram: The Forest Department has opened a chain of shops selling value-added forest herbal products. The �Vanasree outlets will be opened in different parts of the State soon.

Rice, sugar seized in raids

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Large quantities of rice and sugar were seized from two shops at Kaniyapuram in raids conducted by revenue officials on Saturday.

A pressnote issued by Taluk Supply Officer B. Vijayakumar said 6,641 kg of rice and 1,150 kg of sugar were seized from the Aiswarya Supermarket and the Margin Free Kaniyapuram which were operating without a licence. Raids were held in 15 shops in the Kaniyapuram and Kazhakuttam areas by a team of revenue officials led by the taluk supply officer. The raids were conducted as part of the activities of the Onam Monitoring Cell.

�Haritha Keralam\' to be launched

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Forest Minister Benoy Viswom will inaugurate �Haritha Keralam on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) campus at Pallippuram, near here, on Monday, Quit India Day.

The Social Forestry division of the State Forest Department and the Central Reserve Police Force are jointly launching the Haritha Keralam scheme.

Saplings to be planted

Over 5,000 saplings of different varieties of trees will be planted on a single day.

Each CRPF trainee will plant three saplings and tend to them to ensure cent percent survival.

K.V. Madhusudhanan, Deputy Inspector-General, will preside over the function. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Social Forestry) V.K. Sinha will be present on the occasion.

The saplings will be provided by the State Forest Department.

Vegetable sales festivals all over the State

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Agriculture Department will organise vegetable sales festivals at the district and the village levels all over the State to help prevent the prices of vegetables from going up during the Onam season, Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has said.

At a press conference here on Saturday, he said mega festivals would be held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Ernakulam and Kottayam districts. The programme would be inaugurated at the State level at the Cantonment Ground in Kollam on August 15. The festivals would be on till noon on the eve of Thiruvonam.

The Horticulture Corporation, Kerala Agriculture University, the State Horticulture Mission and the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK) are associating with the department in conducting the programme. In addition, the corporation and the VFPCK are setting up their own independent vegetable stalls in various centres in the State.

Local body polls: two phases likely

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The elections to the local self-government institutions in the State will in all probability be held in two phases. This is mainly on account of the High Court verdict against the reorganisation of block panchayats. The State Election Commission (SEC) had informed the government on Saturday the problems in holding the elections at one go.



But a change in the election schedule will necessitate bureaucratic governance in the local bodies and also throw up a host of issues. As the five-year tenure of the existing committees expires in September, the new batch of elected members will have to assume office on October 2. Once the Panchayati Raj Act came into force, the State government will be deprived of the powers for conducting the elections.



It will lose the authority for fixing the tenure of the committees. Earlier, there were instances of the government delaying the elections by 16 years.



The model code of conduct will be imposed with the announcement of the first phase and it will be in force till the completion of the entire election process in the second phase.

Special trains to Bangalore

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Southern Railway will run special trains in the Ernakulam- Bangalore-Ernakulam sector from August 19 to August 27 to clear the extra rush of passengers during Onam.

Advance reservation for the special trains will commence on Sunday.

0653 Ernakulam Junction-Bangalore Special will leave Ernakulam Junction at 9.30 p.m. on August 19 and August 26 to arrive at Bangalore at 10 a.m. the next day.

In the return direction, 0654 Bangalore-Ernakulam Junction Special will leave Bangalore City at 6.50 p.m. on August 20 and August 27 to arrive at Ernakulam Junction at 6.30 a.m. the next day.

The trains will have one AC 2 tier, one AC 3 tier, seven sleeper class, two general second class and two luggage-cum-brake van coaches. 0654 will stop at Ernakulam Town also. 0657 Ernakulam Junction-Bangalore Superfast Special will leave Ernakulam at 9.30 p.m. on August 20 to arrive at Bangalore at 10 a.m. the next day.

In the return direction, 0658 Bangalore-Ernakulam Superfast Special will leave Bangalore City at 5.15 p.m. on August 21 to arrive at Ernakulam at 4.20 a.m. the next day.

Gujarat handicrafts expo has a pan-Indian touch

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ongoing Gujarat Handicrafts and Handloom expo at Jawahar Balabhavan in the city has on display a variety of ethnic handloom and handicraft items from different parts of the country.

Organised by Gujarat Emporium, the exhibition directly brings to the public, products made by traditional weavers and craftsmen at reduced rates. Some of the items on display are colourful dresses, jewellery, gift items, leather bags, purses, gloves, puppets made of cloth and wood, valuable Rajasthani jewellery made of precious and semi-precious stones, candle stands and rare idol collections.

Saris, churidars, dress materials, ladies tops and bed sheets from Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are also available at the expo. Also available are carpets, doormats, mats made of lace works and saris with Phulkari design works from Warangal.

Ordinance guards patient rights too

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Health Services Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Ordinance proposed to be issued by the State government, while proposing that all violent acts committed against a hospital and its staff be made a cognizable and non-bailable offence, has included provisions to ensure patients rights also. The ordinance proposes that any person or persons committing acts of violence against a hospital and its staff is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a period of up to three years with fine up to Rs.50,000.It also proposes that the rights of patients to receive complete information about the medical treatment received at the respective hospital be ensured and that the patients right to redressal of any grievances regarding any lapse in medical treatment or service provided by a hospital be ensured.

All healthcare institutions, including those under the State, Centre or run by local bodies, private hospitals, private maternity homes, private nursing homes, clinics and residences and consulting rooms of all doctors will be covered against violence under the ordinance.

Minister to open check-dams

MANNARKAD (Palakkad): Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran will inaugurate the check-dams constructed across Kunthipuzha, a tributary of the Bharathapuzha, at a function on the premises of Pothozhikavu Temple at 2 p.m. on August 11.

The check-dams have been constructed at Arukutti, Arattukadavu and Poothozhikavu-Changalerykadavu.

Mullappally lays stress on slum-eradication schemes

Kasaragod: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre has initiated comprehensive programmes to eradicate slums across the country, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran has said.

Kannur college comes under attack

KANNUR: Over 200 windowpanes of the S.E.S. College at Sreekantapuram here were smashed and windscreens of two cars parked at the nearby house of a teacher there were damaged in a pre-dawn attack on Saturday by an unidentified group barely a day after the college union election.

The attack on the cars parked on the compound of the house of college lecturer and election returning officer Jose J. Edavur raised the suspicion that the attack was linked to the college union election in which the Students Federation of India (SFI) had won all the seats except one, a repeat of the last election.

NDRF team arrives to help clean up river

KANNUR: A 28-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team reached Alakkode here on Saturday to help remove pesticides illegally dumped in the Rayarom river. The team has arrived in response to interventions by the authorities to recover the huge quantities of pesticides dumped on August 1. The personnel, accompanied by revenue officials, visited Rayarom and Neduvode.

They will start work only after experts from the Gwalior-based nuclear, biological and chemical emergency wing of the Defence Ministry, expected here on Sunday, examine the pollution level.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Online facility for building permits

KOCHI: The online facility for obtaining building permits from the Kochi Corporation was inaugurated on Friday. Mayor Mercy Williams inaugurated the facility. Deputy Mayor C.K. Manisankar, Town Planning Standing Committee chairman E.M. Sunilkumar, Opposition leader in the corporation A.B. Sabu and corporation secretary Ajith Patil were among those who were present on the occasion. The facility was introduced in the city as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission programme.

Brahmapuram fuel plant opened

KOCHI: The Kochi Corporation has succeeded in converting waste into wealth through the waste management programmes introduced in the city, said S. Sarma, Minister for Fisheries.

He was speaking after inaugurating the Refuse Derived Fuel plant at a function held at the Kochi Corporation council hall on Thursday. There was a time when the city was full of garbage heaps. But the civic authorities succeeded in overcoming the crisis through the establishment of the waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram, he said.

The Minister also inaugurated the distribution of the bio-manure produced at the plant. Members of Kudumbasree units and agriculturalists received the bio-manure packets from the Minister.

Cyber security meet held

KOCHI: The third edition of Cocon, global cyber security and hacking conference that ended here, highlighted the different serious security aspects in present online scene.

Cocon, previously known as Cyber Safe, is the two-day annual international conference organised by the Information Security Research Association along with Matriux Security Community to mark the International Information Security Day. Kochi City Police is hosting the conference.

Delivering the keynote address on the last day, Alok Vijayant, Director, Information Dominance Group, National Technical Research Organisation, said that the cyber threats to the official machinery are on the rise. There had been an increase in attempts to hack into the official government websites. In another presentation, Nirupa Calvin, an investigator associated with Google, explained the present cybercrime trends from Googles perspective

PFI leaders to be questioned

KOCHI: The Special Investigation Team probing the assault on T.J. Joseph, Malayalam teacher at Newman College, Thodupuzha, has issued summons to leaders of the Popular Front of India (PFI) for questioning in connection with the case

Miss Kerala loves to work for social causes

KOCHI: Indu Thampy, the winner of Miss Kerala 2010 contest, wants to do a lot to elevate the deprived sections of society in general and women in particular. Talking to The Hindu here, she said she would consider suitable projects as and when the opportunity arises.

�I see beggars on the streets and old women without a shelter. I would be glad to take up projects for their welfare, she said.

The day after winning the contest, it was all excitement far beyond her expectations. The contest went past midnight and she could get only a few hours to take rest. The contest was fair enough to remove all her apprehensions. There are a lot of misconceptions about beauty contests which have been proved wrong, she said. In fact, the court had to intervene last year to ensure decency and decorum after certain complaints came to the fore.

Acknowledging that endorsements were part of the entire show, she said she would chalk out plans for doing something worthwhile for the betterment of the society. Will she be aspiring for the Miss India crown? �That is a different contest; one has to go to the contest at the South India level prior to the national contest,� she observed.

Disaster management control room opened

KOCHI: Inspector General of Police, Ernakulam Range, B. Sandhya has emphasised on the need to intensify awareness programmes on disaster management among school students.

Delivering the inaugural address at the opening of the disaster management control room as part of the disaster management cell set up by the Corporation, Ms. Sandhya said that it was the lack of knowledge in dealing with the situation that often heightened the scale of disasters. She offered all assistance on the part of the police in the operation of the cell.

Mayor Mercy Williams presided. Kochi Corporation had been included in the Urban Risk Reduction programme implemented jointly by the United Nations Development Programme and the State government. The disaster management cell had been set up under this programme.

The primary objective of the cell was to equip the public to effectively deal with a disaster. It would lend guidance to the public on ways to face a disaster, the precautions to be taken in such an event etc. Public could avail of the information through a toll free number (1800-425-9117).

Appointment of SIC challenged

Kochi: The Kerala High Court was on Friday approached seeking to quash the appointment of Sony Thengamam as State Information Commissioner (SIC).

The petition challenging the appointment was filed by D.B. Binu, High Court lawyer and general secretary of the RTI Kerala Federation.

The petitioner pointed out that Mr. Sony was the assistant secretary of the Kollam district committee of the Communist Party of India (CPI). He had been involved in activities of the CPI in various capacities for long.

The petitioner said the Right to Information Act disqualified MPs or MLAs or a person who holds any other office of profit or connected with any political party or engaged in any business or any profession, from being appointed as State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner.

Mr. Sony, being a political activist, could not have considered for appointment to the post of State Information Commissioner. Besides, he did not have the qualification as prescribed by the Act. As per Section 15(5) of the Act, a person of eminence in public life with knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and government should alone be appointed as State Chief Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioners.

Job scheme for destitute women planned

KOCHI: The State employment department has given shape to a self-employment programme named �Saranya for destitute women.

The benefits of the scheme would be available to jobless destitute widows who had registered with the employment exchanges, women who had been left alone by their husbands, those legally separated, women aged above 30 years and still remaining spinsters, and unwed mothers from Scheduled Tribe communities.

It is also aimed at lending assistance to women who had to take charge of their wards and extended family in the event of the death of their husbands, or in cases where the husbands leave them to fend for themselves or just disappear.

Though individual endeavours were being given prominence under the programme, group entrepreneurial initiatives would also receive assistance. A beneficiary would be eligible for a maximum loan of Rs. 50,000 and it would be extended up to Rs. 1 lakh depending on the nature of the proposed initiative. While assistance up to Rs. 50,000 would be given free of interest, help above it would attract an interest rate of 3 per cent.

Experts rack brains to scare away birds

KOCHI: Ornithologists, considered the staunchest supporters of birds, will now be thinking of ways to scare them away � from airports.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has sought the help of some of the best ornithologists and wildlife experts in India to rein in avian population in and around airports to prevent bird hits of aeroplanes.

The AAI has approached 15 ornithologists across the country to devise �action plans for effective control of bird population and minimise ornithological interference with air traffic through extensive survey of inside and surroundings of the airports.

The experts approached by the AAI include A.R. Rahamani, Lalitha Vijayan, K. Sivakumar, Dhananjay Mohan, Ataman Athreya, P.O. Nameer and Usha Ganguli.

Corporation to process waste of Thrikkakara

KOCHI: Thrikkakara Panchayat and the Corporation of Kochi have reached an agreement under which the Corporation will process biodegradable waste from the panchayat at its centralised facility at Brahmapuram.

President of Thrikkakara Pachayat Sabitha Kareem told reporters here on Friday that the Corporation and the Panchayat had signed an agreement to this effect.

Under the agreement, the Panchayat will have to separate biodegradable waste from plastic and other hard substances to be taken to the Brahmapuram plant.

The Corporation will charge Rs. 1,000 a tonne from the panchayat for the service, said Ms. Kareem.

She said that the agreement was part of a comprehensive drive in the Panchayat to find a permanent solution to the problem of growing heaps of waste in the panchayat area.

Three bio-gas-based electricity generation facility will also be set up at three locations in the panchayat.

Ration card distribution today

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: New ration cards will be distributed from the taluk supply office at Kaithamukku from Saturday to all those who have been given dates up to August 31.

The ration cards for those who were given dates after August 31 is being printed and the dates of distribution will be intimated later, an official release said.

Mass marriage in November

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kottarakkara-based Ashraya Charitable Society will organise the marriage of 140 girls from indigent families in the 140 Assembly constituencies in the State.

The marriages would take place at single venue at Thiruvananthapuram in the first week of November, Ashraya general convener Kalayapuram Jose and chief executive officer Gopinath Madhathil told a press conference organised here.

Each couple would be given Rs.50,000 in bank deposit and jobs in companies run by Ashraya patrons, besides money for marriage-related purchases, they said.

16 children taken ill at school

Thiruvananthapuram: Sixteen children from SSPB High School at Kadakkavoor, who were taken ill on Friday afternoon, were rushed to the Chirayinkeezhu hospital after school authorities suspected food poisoning.

Initially, medical teams from Chirayinkeezhu and Vakkom community health centres were rushed to the school after the school authorities raised alarm about children complaining of uneasiness and nausea. Later they were kept under observation at the Chirayinkeezhu CHC and discharged.

Hike in bonus, allowance

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government has announced an increase in the Onam bonus and festival allowance for its employees and teachers. In a press release on Friday, the Finance Ministers office said the bonus this time would be Rs.2,750 and the festival allowance Rs.1,500. Onam advance has been increased to Rs.7,500.

Part-time contingent employees and non-muster roll (NMR) workers would get an advance of Rs.1,000 in place of Rs.750 last year. Employees and teachers drawing a monthly salary of up to Rs.10,750 are eligible for bonus. Contract workers and temporary workers too would receive festival allowance at the revised rate.

Pensioners and Anganvadi teachers and helpers too will be given an increase of Rs.50 in the festival allowance this time

A horror that won\'t die down

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Hundreds of children from city schools were among those who observed Hiroshima Day on Friday and paid homage to those who lost their lives to the first atomic bombs used in the history of modern warfare.

Close to 5,000 children gathered at the Cotton Hill Government High School to take a peace pledge and to watch Forest Minister Benoy Viswom join a group of people in releasing doves and white balloons as a symbol of world peace. A photo exhibition was also organised at the school highlighting the horrors of nuclear war. The Minister distributed prizes to students who emerged toppers in the essay writing competition held in connection with Hiroshima Day. Representatives from Japan were also present for the programme organised by the Alumni Society of the Association of Overseas Technical Scholarship, Japan.

Research centre for cardio vascular diseases

Thiruvananthapuram: The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) has entered into a strategic partnership with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), an independent research organisation working in several key areas like thrombosis, cancer and degenerative neuro disorders, to set up a state-of-the-art research and knowledge centre for Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD) here. The proposed centre is expected to be operational by December this year.

Government departments face power disconnection

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has started issuing power disconnection notices to all defaulters, irrespective of whether they are government departments, public sector undertakings or power consumers of any other category.

A top official told The Hindu that KSEB officials handling the management of receivables had been given targets to optimise collection of arrears and they were doing their job.

The Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC), which monitors the functioning of the power sector in the State and issues directions as per the Electricity Act on all matters including the fixation of tariffs, had been cracking the whip these past few months to persuade the KSEB to get tough with the defaulters.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had intervened on Thursday to restore power connection to the installations of Kerala Water Authority (KWA), which had not paid the power bills even after a concessional settling of huge old arrears through a one-time-settlement (OTS) formula in 2008. It became clear on Friday that many other power consumers in the public sector too were facing power supply disconnection.

Corporation seeks more employees

Thiruvananthapuram: The City Corporation Council has appealed to the government to sanction additional posts in all categories to handle the increased workload following the proposed merger of five suburban panchayats with the capital city.

Moving an official resolution at a meeting of the council here on Friday, Mayor C.Jayan Babu said the current staff strength was insufficient to handle the added burden. The resolution proposed more than 200 additional posts in the supervisory, administrative and technical categories, as well as 1,300 in the contingency workforce.

The Mayor said the new post of a Public Relations Officer had become imperative in the light of the need to provide inputs for the media. The resolution also proposed an IT Officer to head the computer division of the civic body. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Security alert at Cochin airport

Nedumbassery: Security was tightened at the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) after its authorities were alerted to a message, received at the Chennai airport, that a bomb has been planted in an aircraft flying in to Kochi from Chennai on Friday evening.

Airport director A.C.K. Nair said that details of the aircraft or the time of its arrival here were not mentioned in the message. �However, we cannot afford to take chances. A red alert has been issued and the security apparatus, strengthened, he said.

According to him, the passengers screening system has been intensified. All the baggage and cargo consignments will be screened thoroughly. It has also been decided to keep a close watch on the employees entering the operational areas. They have been asked to report to the terminal manager any unattended baggage on the airport premises.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Brahmapuram fuel plant opened

KOCHI: The Kochi Corporation has succeeded in converting waste into wealth through the waste management programmes introduced in the city, said S. Sarma, Minister for Fisheries.

He was speaking after inaugurating the Refuse Derived Fuel plant at a function held at the Kochi Corporation council hall on Thursday. There was a time when the city was full of garbage heaps. But the civic authorities succeeded in overcoming the crisis through the establishment of the waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram, he said.

The Minister also inaugurated the distribution of the bio-manure produced at the plant.

Representatives of the residents associations, Kudumbasree units and agriculturalists received the bio-manure packets from the Minister.

The documents related to the plant were handed over to Babu Ambat, executive director of the Centre for Environment and Development, which was running the plant for Kochi Corporation.

Port unions called for talks

KOCHI: The Regional Labour Commissioner has called for a meeting with leaders of the Trade Union Coordination Committee, representing the nearly 4,000 private sector workers serving the Cochin Port Trust, on August 9 after the committee served a notice of strike from August 11.

Coastal police station opened at Fort Kochi

KOCHI: The Union government has agreed to the States request for ten more coastal police stations as part of its effort to enhance coastal security, said Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Home Minister. The Minister was speaking after inaugurating the coastal police station at Fort Kochi near here on Thursday. This is the sixth of eight coastal police stations being installed during the first phase. Two more at Kannur and Alappuzha will be completed in three months, he said.

With the commissioning of all the 18 police stations, the coast of the State will be fully secured against threats of attack, the Minister said. The coastal police have a jurisdiction of 12 nautical miles off the coast.

V.K. Ebrahim Kunju, MLA, presided. N. Ramachandran, chairman, Cochin Port Trust (CPT), was the chief guest. Commodore M.R. Ajayakumar, Naval Officer-in-Charge, Kerala and Commanding Officer, INS Venduruthy; B.K. Loshali, DIG, Coast Guard, District Headquarters-4; B. Sandhya, Inspector General of Police, Ernakulam Range; Manoj Abraham, City Police Commissioner; P.H. Ashraf, Deputy City Police Commissioner; Pusp Khetartal, vice president, Petronet LNG; K.K. Krishnadas, CEO, India Gateway Terminal and Hasina Noushad, Corporation councillor, spoke.

Call to save Western Ghats rivers

KOCHI: Rivers are facing a major threat from indiscriminate human interference and pollution, V.S. Vijayan, member of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, has said.

In his address at the seminar on �rivers and biodiversity held as part of a meeting in memory of P. S. Gopinathan Nair, renowned environmentalist, at Aluva on Thursday, Dr. Vijayan said that rivers play a major role in the ecological map of the country. He said that efforts should be made to protect the rivers from domestic and industrial pollution.

Dr. Vijayan said that rivers in the Western Ghats region should be protected, as part of the ongoing efforts to save the region from extinction.

He said that Western Ghats is one of the four biodiversity hotspots of the country, housing thousands of species of flowering plants and various species of birds.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest had formed the 14-member Western Ghats Ecology Expert panel for recommending measures and assisting the government in the preservation of Western Ghats.

Dr. Vijayan said that the authorities should come up with a comprehensive law to regulate the use of pesticides. He said that there were several loopholes in the use and transportation of pesticides.

Cusat firm against merger of departments

KOCHI: The special senate meeting of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) held here on Thursday passed a unanimous resolution opposing the merger of its School of Marine Sciences and School of Industrial Fisheries with the proposed Fisheries University.

H. S. Ram Mohan, Director of School of Marine Sciences, who presented the resolution against the merger, pointed out that the move will jeopardise the research excellence and development of Cusat. Dr. Mohan said that the departments on the lakeside campus generate one-third of the total research output of the university. He said that the departments have produced around 400 doctorate degrees during the last 10 years.

Ramachandran Thekkedath, Vice-Chancellor, who presided over the meeting, said that the higher education policy of the State should be revised every 10 years considering the rapid progress in the field of science and technology and other knowledge related areas.

Several members who participated in the discussion on the higher education policy drafted by the State Higher Education Council suggested that the appointments in aided colleges should be done by the Public Service Commission. Members also recommended stringent clauses in the policy document for checking the commercialisation of higher education.

New boat services launched

KOCHI: Minister for Transport Jose Thettayil said on Thursday here that the government was working to improve inland water transport as a solution to the growing traffic problems in the State.

The Left Democratic Front government has emphasised the need to improve water transport.

One of the steps has been to order for new vessels and to repair the old ones, he said.

Awareness programme for parents

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The IT@School Project district resource centre, in association with the Pattom Government Girls Higher Secondary School Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), organised a parental awareness programme recently to create awareness among parents of information technology (IT) learning tools introduced in schools to teach Class VIII students.

IT@School Project district coordinator K.K. Sajeev inaugurated the programme. PTA president G. Balachandran presided. Principal Suryanarayana Kanjurayar and headmistress J. Valsala Bhas were present

PWD tender forms only through website

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the first step towards introducing e-tendering in the Public Works Department (PWD), the government has decided to publish the tender notice, form and schedule on the official website.

A notification issued by the government said contractors should download the tender notice, form and schedule from the website. Along with the completed tender and other documents, the cost of the tender form should be submitted to the office concerned as demand draft. Cheques will not be accepted and the tenders and drafts will be accepted in the office by courier only.

The government has issued orders to complete the works in a time-bound manner to avoid cost escalation due to delay in completing the projects. Extension of time frame will be given only once. If it is extended for the second time, the penalty will be levied from the contractor. The contract will be cancelled and fresh tenders will be invited if it is not completed on expiry of the second extension.

Call to conserve natural resources

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) executive vice-president C.T.S. Nair has urged students to adopt corrective measures to prevent exploitation of natural resources.

He was inaugurating a State-level workshop for selection of best National Green Corps (NGC) school at the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) here on Thursday.

R.V.G. Menon presided over the inaugural session. CESS director-in-charge T. Radhakrishnan, National Green Corps Thiruvananthapuram district coordinator K.G. Ajit Kumar, State Nodal Officer, National Green Corps, Kamalakshan Kokkal and KSCSTE scientific officer P. Harinarayanan spoke.

As many as 150 participants, including teachers, students and NGC district coordinators, from select schools in 14 districts in the State are taking part in the two-day workshop. The district-level and State-level winners for the premier prizes instituted by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment will be decided in the workshop. The awards will be declared at the valedictory session to be held on Friday.

Housing scheme for NRIs

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Housing Board will implement a housing scheme for overseas Keralites in Kozhikode with assistance from the government, Minister for Forest and Housing Benoy Viswom said here on Thursday.

The foundation stone for the project, being taken up as part of the Kozhikode Medical College Scheme, would be laid on August 13. The government had earmarked Rs.1 crore for the project in the budget. The total cost would be Rs.16.5 crore.

The Minister told reporters that the project envisaged three buildings with 88 flats with two and three bedrooms. The two-bedroom flat (780 sq. ft.) would cost about Rs.17 lakh while the three bedroom flat (948 sq. ft.) would cost Rs.21 lakh.

The complex would have facilities for car parking, recreation, water harvesting and fire fighting besides centralised gas system, lifts and generator

Vizhinjam project work to begin this month

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Work on the first phase of the Vizhinjam international container transhipment terminal project will be launched this month, Minister for Ports and Youth Affairs V. Surendran Pillai has said.

Addressing a meet-the-press programme at the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club on Thursday, Mr. Pillai said the first phase would lay thrust on developing infrastructure facilities. Road and rail connectivity were imperative for developing the port. Works costing Rs.450 crore would be taken up in the first phase.

He said nearly 120 acres of land would be needed for developing the port. About 30 acres would be needed for laying roads. The expression of interest for the project had so far elicited 50 enquiries. Already two bidders had come forward, he said.

Five of a family killed in accident

Thiruvananthapuram: Five of a family, including a three-year-old boy and his parents, were killed when the car in which they were travelling collided with another car on Main Central Road at Kilimanoor, nearly 45 km from here, on Thursday evening.

Four persons, including two children, were also injured in the collision, which occurred around 6 p.m.

The dead were identified as Naushad, 37, a Gulf-returnee, his wife, Shyamna, 27, mother, Harisa Beevi, 58, sister, Haseena, 37, and son, Jabar, 3, all residents of Nilamel in Kollam district.

The injured included Naushads mother-in-law, Nazeera Beevi, and her two grandchildren, Nazia, 12, and Afsal, 8, and Anish Muhammad, 25, driver of the second car involved in collision. The police said Anish was Naushads relative and neighbour.

Bonus hiked for Supplyco employees

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The regular employees of the State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) will each receive a bonus of Rs.7,600 this year as against Rs.7,050 last year.

The benefits of employees of Supplyco and four other companies under the departments of Food and Civil Supplies, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, payable before Onam, were decided at a conference of officials and representatives of the employees here on Thursday.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran, who presided, told the media after the conference that higher bonus was being provided to its staff as Supplyco had turned the corner. Besides bonus, they would each be eligible for an Onam kit priced at Rs.800 and a recoverable advance of Rs.10,000. Government employees deputed to the corporation would each get Rs.6,500 as bonus against Rs.6,000 last year. Employees not eligible for bonus on account of higher salaries would each get an allowance of Rs.4,550 against Rs.4,050.

The employees of Kerala Feeds Ltd. would each be given performance allowance of Rs.14,000 against Rs.12,500 last year, besides festival advance of Rs.15,000.

Online system for issuing certificates

Thiruvananthapuram: Local Self-government Minister Paloli Mohammed Kutty, on Thursday, inaugurated an online system for accessing and issue of birth, death and marriage certificates from local bodies at the City Corporation office here.

The system has been installed by the Information Kerala Mission (IKM), an e-governance cell under the Local Self-government Department. The Sevana Civil Registration software developed by the IKM will enable online verification of birth, death and marriage certificates registered at local bodies.

The public will also be able to download and print the certificates from the Sevana web site using the facility.

Mr. Mohammed Kutty said at the function that the State had made a giant leap in e-governance by becoming the first in the country to have an online system for issuing birth, death and marriage certificates.

Minister calls for campaign to protect public health

Thiruvananthapuram: Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy has called for a major campaign to protect and strengthen public health, on the lines of the total literacy campaign that had taken Kerala by storm in the late Eighties.

Coordinated efforts by academics, health planners, public health activists, and community participation were crucial to reviving the floundering public health scenario in the State. More than the curative side, the States priority should be preventive medicine and scientific research, she said, while inaugurating a symposium on �Health policy and planning, organised by the Kerala University of Health and Allied Sciences (KUHAS), here on Thursday.

The high burden of morbidity owing to mental illnesses should be another priority area for the State. �We do not want to fill our mental health centres and hospitals with patients. Rather, we need a community-based approach wherein the health workers should go to the community, identify and treat people with mental illnesses, Ms. Sreemathy said.

She suggested that the KUHAS and the State Planning Board take the lead in devising a major campaign, by involving health and allied sectors, to revive and protect the States public health.

Planning Board vice-chairman Prabhat Patnaik presided over the inaugural session.

Meet on molecular cardiology

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in association with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is organising a three-day workshop on Translating Molecular Cardiology into Clinical Practice in Thiruvananthapuram.

The programme will begin on August 6. Sixteen scientists from the Oklahoma foundation and 15 invited participants from India will rub shoulders with 100 other scientists and students at the meeting, which is expected to lead to the creation of an Indo-US Centre for Translational Cardiovascular Medicine.

KSEB puts on hold move to cut supply to KWA

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) on Thursday temporarily withdrew its decision to discontinue power supply to the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) for not paying power bills.

Electricity Minister A.K. Balan told The Hindu that the Chief Minister had assured the KSEB that the mounting bill arrears of the KWA would be discussed at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers.

With the KSEB, which is bound by the Electricity Act to function on commercial lines, cutting power supply to certain installations of the KWA, some parts of the State had started experiencing a disruption in water supply over the last few days. The issue had naturally led to public protest.

�We are in an unenviable situation in this issue. How can the KSEB function if it does not receive the payments for power supplied, Mr. Balan said.

He expressed the hope that the next Cabinet meeting slated for August 13 would come up with some solution to the issue.

Over 50 per cent of the total outstanding receivables of the KSEB was against the name of the KWA in 2008. The KSEB bartered a one-time-settlement (OTS) of arrears with the KWA then and, with the governments assistance, received Rs.250 crore from the KWA against an outstanding sum of Rs.824 crore.

Opportunity to recast school system

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The shortfall of 2.5 lakh students in Kerala schools � determined as the difference between the number of students shown in the rolls and the numbers present during a subsequent one-day verification by government officials � this academic year may well turn out to be a golden opportunity for the State government to recast the school system in terms of the number of schools, infrastructural facilities and the redistribution and retraining of teachers.

This year, the one-day verification in schools revealed that a total of 40.92 lakh students were studying in government and aided schools from Class I to X.

Forest laws violated: Viswom

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Minister for Forest and Housing Benoy Viswom said here on Thursday that an inquiry by the Chief Conservator of Forests (Vigilance) had detected some violations of forest laws by wind energy companies at Attappady. However, no major encroachments had been found.

In his preliminary report, the Chief Conservator had said that high tension lines had been drawn over forest areas and 12 posts had been erected in forests for transmission of electricity. Besides, a road was cut through forests for transport of equipment.

The Minister said the Conservator had recommended a detailed survey.

His report had been submitted to the committee headed by the Chief Secretary which was considering the matter.

�The government would not countenance any encroachment on forests or alienation of tribal lands.

Mr. Viswom said the notification of more than 17,000 acres as reserve forest would be done without much delay.

The Secretarys committee had found that there were no settlers in the area in question. The area was in possession of the Forest Department from the eighties.

Kudumbasree fairs from August 19

Kasaragod: The Kudumbasree Mission will set up 46 Onam fairs in the district with a view to providing quality products at cheaper rates to consumers.

The fairs will begin from August 19 to 23 at two centres at the municipal level, one in Kasaragod and the other in Kanhangad, an official release said here on Thursday.

Nileshwaram, Cheruvathur and Manjeshwaram will have one centre each at the block panchayat level, it said.

The Kudumbasree products marketed at the fairs included curry powder, pickles, vegetables, sanitary wares, honey, cashew nuts and host of other consumer products, it said.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New boats from today

KOCHI: Minister for Fisheries S. Sarma will inaugurate the Ernakulam-Fort Kochi- Mattancherry boat service of the State Water Transport Department at the Fort Kochi boat jetty on Thursday at 8.30 a.m. Transport Minister Jose Thettayil will flag off the service. V.K. Ibrahim Kunju, MLA, will preside. Mayor Mercy Williams will deliver the keynote address. Dominic Presentation, MLA, and District Collector M. Beena will also attend.

Bank branch partly damaged in fire

KOCHI: The Panampilly Nagar branch of the Canara Bank was partly damaged in a fire that broke out on Tuesday. The office furniture, computers and counters of the bank, located at the first floor of the Anjiparambil Buildings adjacent to the South overbridge, were destroyed in the fire. However, the records room and locker room were safe. A short-circuit is suspected to be the reason for fire, said Joe Kuruvila Easow, Divisional Fire Officer.

Exhibition showcases India\'s achievements in space

Kochi: A three-day exhibition on �India in Space jointly organised by Toc-H Institute of Science and Technology (TIST) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) began at the institute campus at Arakkunnam, near here, on Wednesday.

C.V.K. Prasada Rao, senior scientist at the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), who inaugurated the exhibition, said oceanographic research invariably required help from space science and that the two shared a special relation. Later, during an interaction with students, he urged them to study pure science in-depth. The exhibition, open to school and professional college students and the public, features replicas of ISROs launch vehicles and sounding rockets, models of the Vikas engine (liquid engine used in PSLV and GSLV) and cryogenic engine, a concept model of the proposed Reusable launch Vehicle (RLV), models of the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) of Chandrayaan�I and the like. Featured in this category are the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment and the proposed Chandrayaan-II, to name a few. Saira Banu, the Science Club Coordinator of the institute, said that the exhibition would expose engineering students to pure science

Poor catch disappoints boatmen



KOCHI: In their first foray into the outer sea after the 47-day fishing vacation, mechanised fishing boats from the Kochi region, who hoped to catch prawns and cuttlefish in abundance, got disappointed.

Instead of these high-value species, they had to contend with kilimeen (red snapper) which fetch low prices on the market. However, kilimeen were available fairly abundantly. One boat, after two days of fishing got a catch of kilimeen valued at Rs. 80,000. But most boats could make around Rs. 30,000 to 40,000.

Infopark expansion picks up steam

KOCHI: The second phase expansion of Infopark has gathered momentum with 115 acres out of the 165 acres of land identified for the project being already acquired. Only those stretches of land that are bogged down in court cases remain to be acquired now. The presentation for selecting the master plan consultants for the second phase would be held in the third week of this month, Infopark sources said. The selected consultant would then be placed before the board for approval. The project had received a boost last month when the Board of Approvals of the Union Ministry of Commerce granted Special Economic Zone status to 31 acres of land earmarked for the expansion.



Fresh applications could be filed in the future to secure SEZ status for more contiguous lying areas. The park to be developed in the second phase would offer the first plug-and-play BPO facility in the State. It is aimed at creating cost-effective infrastructure for the BPO industry.



Besides domestic parks, it would house SEZs for IT and ITES. When fully completed it would generate about 80,000 jobs in the IT and ITES in addition to the large number of jobs in the service sector.



Meanwhile, Athulya, the recently opened 5.5 lakh sq.ft-building complex of Infopark, has evoked interest in the industry. Not less than 14 companies had already taken up space in the new building. Internal designing of the many of the allotted spaces was under way, sources said.





Pookkalam contest on August 19

KOCHI: The fourth edition of The Hindu-Metroplus pookkalam (floral pattern) contest will be held in Kochi on August 19.

Only 50 teams will be allowed for the competition on a first-come-first-served basis.

Each team should have five members, of whom at least three should be women.

All the members should be above 15 years of age. Each institution can send a maximum of three teams.

The pookkalam should be prepared in two and a half hours, including the time for drawing the outline and flower arrangement.

Teams should register themselves in advance. For registration, call Priya on Ph: 2301653/mob: 99474 06266 or email priyashiju@thehindu.co.in.

The contest will be held between 9 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. at Gold Souk, Vytilla, Kochi. The refundable registration fee is Rs. 100 per team.

The first three winners will receive cash prizes of Rs. 20,000, Rs.12,500 and Rs.7,500 respectively.

The fourth, fifth and sixth prize winners will get an Olympus camera each.

Teams from the seventh to the 16th place will receive consolation prizes of Rs.1,500 per team.

Innovation varsity to promote world-class research

KOCHI: Kochi is among 14 places across the country identified by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for setting up a world class innovation university.

The other centres are Amritsar, Greater Noida, Jaipur, Patna, Guwahati, Kolkata, Bhopal, Gandhinagar, Coimbatore, Mysore, Pune, Visakhapatnam, and Bhubaneswar.

The Ministry had circulated the draft legislation for comments by various stakeholders. According to the draft Bill, the innovation universities are aimed at making India a global knowledge hub. Each one to be built around a theme or subject, these unique universities will enjoy total autonomy in appointments, collaborations, resource generation and nomenclature of degrees.

The universities will be open to all, irrespective of nationality, gender, ethnicity and disability, provided at least half the students admitted to any programme are Indians. There is, however, no mention of caste-based reservation.

Each university for innovation will have to establish a university endowment fund but will have the freedom to receive donations, contributions from alumni and other incomes as long as 80 per cent of the annual income is used for development of research infrastructure

KSERC plans classes for consumers

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC) proposes to organise seminars and study classes among power consumers to enlighten them about their rights.

In a press release on Wednesday, the commission said it proposed to conduct such awareness programmes at local levels. The commission requested individuals, consumer forums, residents associations and non-governmental organisations keen on coordinating such programmes to write to the Secretary, Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission, KPFC Bhavan, C.V. Raman Pillai Road, Vellayambalam, Thiruvananthapuram before August 31. They can also e-mail the details to kserc@erckerala.org.

Plant nutrient management plan launched

Thiruvananthapuram: Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has stressed the need to step up soil-related studies in Kerala.

Speaking after inaugurating a workshop on soil-based plant nutrient management plan for the agro ecosystems in the State, Mr. Ratnakaran called for a participatory approach to the project.

He directed officials to complete the soil investigation of paddy fields this year. He also released the draft technical document of the project.

The workshop was organised by the State Planning Board and Department of Agriculture.

Online system for issuing certificates

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An online system for issue of birth, death and marriage registration certificates from local bodies will come into effect on Thursday, a press note issued by Local Self-government Minister Paloli Mohammed Kutty has said.

With this, Kerala will become the first State in the country to have online facility for issuing birth, death and marriage certificates in every local body, Mr. Mohammed Kutty said in the statement.

In the first phase, birth and death certificates registered from the year 2006 and marriage certificates registered from 2008 onwards will be made available online. Registration data since 1970 of the Guruvayur municipality and Vellanad, Thalikulam and Thanaloor grama panchayats will also be available online.

The new system will enable online verification and printing of certificates, enabling people to make use of the facility from their homes

Ordinance to protect patients\' rights too

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The draft Kerala Health Services Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Ordinance, approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, seeks to protect the rights of patients, besides prohibiting violence against doctors and hospital staff.

Admit merit list candidates: BJP

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded that the government take steps to admit students to self-financing medical colleges from the merit list and complete admissions in the management quota in a fair and transparent manner.

Party spokesperson George Kurien told reporters here on Wednesday that in the wake of the High Court verdict cancelling the entrance examination conducted by the managements, both the government and the managements were using the students in the merit list as a bait to challenge the verdict. The examination was conducted in violation of the directions of the Supreme Court and the Indian Medical Council. There was an attempt to scuttle the admission of students in the merit list, he said.

As per the Supreme Court direction, the examination should be conducted in May and the first batch should be admitted on July 25.

The stance of the P.A. Mohammed Committee which failed to take a decision till the High Court pronounced its verdict is mysterious.

Steps to control price rise: Minister

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has made elaborate arrangements to keep prices under check during Onam and Ramzan, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies C. Divakaran said here on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference, the Minister said the State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) would run four types of Onam fairs during the festival season.

Onam metro peoples bazaars would be organised in the city corporations and town peoples bazaars at other district headquarters. In addition, Onam markets would be opened at district centres so that there would be one Onam market in an Assembly constituency. All Maveli stores and supermarkets would function as Onam mini-fairs.

Metro bazaars would start on Thursday in Thiruvananthapuram, on Friday in Thrissur and on August 11 in the other cities. Town bazaars would open in Kottayam, Palakkad, Kannur and Karunagappally on August 11 and at other places on August 14.

DYFI plans campaign against communalism

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The youth organisations of Left parties are planning to conduct campaigns denouncing communalism and religious fundamentalism.

Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) State secretary T.V. Rajesh said here on Wednesday that the DYFI would hold rallies raising the slogan of �Secular Kerala, people-friendly development at 1,000 centres in the State on August 15. He said communal and terrorist forces were making deliberate attempts to wreck Keralas secular heritage and communal amity.

He accused the National Development Front (NDF) of trying to foment hatred among people professing different religions and thereby create a communal divide in society.

He accused the Muslim League of having played a major role in the formation and growth of the NDF. The Joseph P. Thomas Commission that probed the Marad riots had recommended a probe by the CBI. Even though the State government had taken up the issue with the Centre several times, the CBI probe did not materialise due to the Muslim Leagues objection to it.

Pookkalam contest on August 21

Thiruvananthapuram: The fourth edition of The Hindu-MetroPlus Pookkalam contest will be held here on August 21.

Only 50 teams will be allowed for the contest on a first come, first served basis. Each team should have five members, including the team captain, of which three should be women. All the members should be above 15 years of age. Each institution can send a maximum of three teams. The �pookkalam should be prepared in two-and-a-half hours, which includes the time for drawing and flower arrangement.

The teams should register in advance. For registration in Thiruvananthapuram, call 2502001 or e-mail to girishkr@thehindu.co.in The registration fee is Rs.100. It will be refunded after the event. The contest will be held between 9 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. in the auditorium of Government College for Women, Vazhuthacaud.

Parties begin process to identify women candidates

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The increased participation of women in local governance following the reservation of 50 per cent seats will make political parties identify about 12,000 women to contest the local body elections in September.

Mobilising a legion of educated women candidates will be a daunting task for the parties, which have already taken the civic polls as an acid test to the 2011 Assembly elections.

Three corporations, 30 municipalities, seven district panchayats and about 490 grama panchayats will be headed by women. Political parties have already begun the process of identifying candidates for the reserved divisions, and choosing women with administrative experience and leadership acumen to head the civic bodies.

There were 988 graduates and 256 postgraduates among the elected women representatives in the previous elections.

As many as 693 graduates and 157 postgraduates got elected to the grama panchayats. While 119 graduates and 35 postgraduates were elected to the block panchayats, it was 46 and 12 respectively in the district panchayats. Among the women municipal councillors, there were 101 graduates and 36 postgraduates. The corporations had the lowest number, 29 graduates and 16 postgraduates.

Congress seeks judicial probe

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress has demanded a judicial probe into the Attappady tribal land alienation issue. The party has also come out against the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for defending the windmill company by �misquoting some of the provisions of the Kerala Scheduled Tribes (Restriction of Transfer of Lands and Restoration of Alienated Lands) Act, 1999.

Addressing a press conference here, Congress Legislature Party secretary Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who brought up the issue in the Assembly, said the Minister for Electricity and Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Communities A.K. Balan cannot evade responsibility on this issue. The 1999 Act provides protection only for agriculture and not for industrial uses and the CPI(M) State committees hasty and premature responses even before the Chief Secretarys Committee began work can be seen only as an attempt to bail out the windmill company, Suzlon, he said.

Palakkad District Collector K.V. Mohan Kumar had, in his report, clearly brought out the extent of land alienation in Attappady. He said some of the members of the Chief Secretarys Committee had failed to take any action when complaints of land alienation came up before them in their official capacities.

Model dairy farm project runs into rough weather

Thiruvananthapuram: The Department of Dairy Development has been forced to shelve a project to establish a model dairy farm at Valiathura here following resistance from the local people.

Families in the neighbourhood of the proposed site fear that effluents from the farm will aggravate the environmental pollution caused by the old sewage farm. The department, however, maintains that the concerns are unfounded.

Officials said the project was scientifically-designed with effluent treatment facilities and a green belt to avoid pollution.

Kerala to raise two companies of Special Forces commandos

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said here on Wednesday that the State police would raise two companies of Special Forces commandos trained in anti-terrorist operations.

Inaugurating the newly constructed family quarters for Special Armed Battalion policemen here, Mr. Balakrishnan said the elite special weapons and tactics police units would be attached to the proposed India Reserve Battalion. The government would provide all station houses in the State with barracks for policemen. It has modernised police training in tune with the times.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Protesters block garbage-laden lorries

Kozhikode: An agitation being staged by the Njeliyanparamba Samara Munnani (agitation front) intensified on Tuesday with protesters attempting to block garbage-laden lorries of the City Corporation bound for the controversial waste-disposal yard in the area and the police intervening to break up the demonstrations.

The situation became tense as slogan-shouting protesters, including women and children, resisted the attempts to remove them. The police quickly brought the situation under control. Many demonstrators were arrested and removed.

The indefinite agitation was inaugurated by K.C. Abu, president of the District Congress Committee, on Sunday.

P.C. Rajan, president of the Cheruvannur-Nallalam panchayat, ruled by the Left Democratic Front, where the Corporation-run waste disposal yard is situated, described the agitation as a political stunt organised with an eye on the coming elections to the local bodies.

Call to promote communal amity

KOTTAYAM: Catholicos Baselius Mar Thoma Didymos I, supreme head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, has called upon the Church to take the initiative in forming associations that would maintain communal harmony in the nation.

He was speaking during the managing committee meeting of the Church at the old seminary here on Tuesday.

In his presidential address, the Catholicos said the formation of such groups, which should comprise leaders of various religious beliefs, assumed importance in rooting out the growing evil of religious extremism and terrorism.

He also said the Church would support every effort of the State government and other organisations in promoting agriculture in barren lands. Seven Bishops were consecrated during the course of the meeting.

Plea for more PHCs

KOLLAM: The Kerala State Health Inspectors Association urged the State government to seriously view the recent observation of the Union Ministry of Health that the State lacked sufficient number of primary health centres (PHCs) and family welfare sub-centres (FWSCs).

Association general-secretary Asramam P.R. Balagopal said that as per the Ministrys calculation there is a shortage of 94 PHCs and 186 FWSCs. Among the southern States the highest shortage of such centres is in Kerala.

The State government should sanction the required number of PHCs and FWSCs in proportion to the increase in population, he said

Ramayana mural show draws crowds

KOLLAM: An exhibition of 36 murals depicting the Ramayana at the Sopanam Kalakendram here is drawing crowds.

The work is a creation by 18 artists led by Prince Thonnakkal. The endeavour began in the Malayalam month of Karkkidakam last year at the Pattathanam Sree Krishnaswamy temple and was targeted to be exhibited during Karkkidakam this year.

The show which began on Monday concludes on Wednesday.

The work begins with Ma Nishada and ends with Sreerama Pattabhishekam. It includes Puthrakameshti, Santhanalabdi, Gurukulam, Ahalyamoksham, Sitas youth, Sita Swayamvaram, Sumitropadesham, Panchavadi, Rama-Ravana Yudham and Agnipravesham.

The paintings have been created using acrylic on canvas. The sketches were finished by Mr. Prince and the colours were provided by the others of his team. The paintings have also been brought out as a book titled �Mural Ramayana. The book and the print of each painting are available at the venue.

Raid on shops: 68 traders fined

KOLLAM: Officers of the Legal Metrology Department raided meat, fish, vegetable and fruit stalls in the city as part of a to ensure that traders do not cheat customers on weight and price.

Assistant Controller of the department Venu Kumar said that 68 cases, mostly pertaining to manipulation in weighing machines, were registered.

He said that public markets from Polayathodu to Shakthikulangara, the evening fish bazaar near the Benziger Hospital and fruit stalls in the vicinity of the Chinnakada clock tower were raided. Six cases of weighing machine manipulation were detected at the evening fish bazaar alone.

Almost all the mutton stalls at the Polayathodu public market had their weighing machines manipulated. Most of the footpath vegetable vendors were also using manipulated weighing machines. The raids were conducted with support from a police team.

Blueprint of constituencies

KATTAPPANA: The number of constituencies of Idukki district panchayat has gone up from 14 to 16 after the delimitation process.

The blueprint of delimitation has been released by the District Collector, who is also the chief electoral officer. Complaints and suggestions regarding delimitation will be accepted till August 5, according to a statement here

Boy\'s hand crushed under private bus

KANNUR: A 13-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when his left hand was crushed under the front tyre of a private bus here on Tuesday. The boy was rushed to a hospital in Kochi.

The boy, Abhishek, studying in Sreepuram School here, met with the accident when he fell from the two-wheeler he was riding pillion on with his mother Raji near South Bazar here in the morning.

The boy was thrown off the two-wheeler when it was hit by the private bus. The front wheel of the bus ran over his hand. He was immediately rushed to the nearby AKG Hospital and from there to the Specialists Hospital in Kochi.

Probe into dumping of pesticides into river begins

KANNUR: The police here began investigation into the dumping of bags of insecticides and pesticides into the Neduvode river at Alakkode here that caused health problems to the people.

The pollution of the river was revealed when some local people who went to swim in the river on Monday developed exhaustion and itching. It was then found that the pollution was caused by the large quantities of insecticides and pesticides dumped into the river from a nearby bridge.

At least six local youths who assisted the Fire and Rescue Service personnel in removing the bags of insecticides and pesticides from the river had been hospitalised after they developed some health problems.

Ban illegal lotteries: MLA

KOCHI: The State government must ban lotteries that do not have legal sanction, V.D. Satheeshan, MLA, said here on Tuesday. Referring to a report submitted by Siby Mathews, Additional Director-General of Police, on the operation of illegal lotteries in the State, Mr. Satheeshan said a businessman with a shady past was controlling the illegal lottery business.

Doctors to continue stir

KOCHI: The Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA)has said that doctors who are on a non-cooperative strike will continue their agitation. Reacting to the High Court verdict upholding the Kerala Health Services rule, Joy George, KGMOA president, said the association was not a petitioner in the case.

�We had raised the issue with the government for creating posts in various hospitals where there are no doctors in specific specialty and transferring of doctors when they are near their retirement age, he said.

Suspension of official revoked

KOCHI: The suspension of one of the two employees of Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) was revoked by the chairperson of the GCDA, .M.C. Josephine.

S. Vijayakumar, Estate Officer and A. Imamin Mubin, Section Assistant/Section Officer were suspended from duty with effect from July 31, in connection with the allegation of improper sale of a five-cent plot owned by the Authority in the city.

During the inquiry it was found that Mr. Mubin had assumed charge at the section concerned only on April 3, 2010, and the controversial transaction occurred before that. Following this, his suspension was revoked, said a press release issued by M.C. Josephine.

Lorry owners threaten strike

KOCHI: The Kerala Goods Transporters Federation has threatened to go ahead with the indefinite strike called from Friday, August 6, if the government does not redress their grievances.

Addressing mediapersons here on Tuesday, federation president N.A. Muhammed Kutty said that lorry owners in the State could not raise fares, despite increase in operational costs and workers wages. He alleged that agents and brokers in many northern districts of the State had formed a cartel, imposing �turn system on goods transporters. The agents demand a share of the transporting charge. Though customers are thus forced to pay more for the produce, farmers, goods manufactures, traders and lorry owners do not benefit.

Court dismisses petitions against wall construction

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed two writ petitions filed against the proposed construction of the boundary walls around the property belonging to the Naval Armament Depot (NAD) at Kalamassery.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Chelameswar and Justice P.N. Ravindran while dismissing the petition observed that in the light of the prevailing security scenario and the NAD being a defence establishment, the plea of the petitioners could not be allowed.

The petitions were filed by the Kerala Prathikarana Vedi and Kalamassery Municipal councillor Mujeeb Rahman.

Assault case: lookout notice issued

KOCHI: The police have issued another lookout notice in connection with the assault on T.J. Joseph, teacher at Newmans College, Thodupuzha.

The notice issued on Tuesday sought information on Manzoor of Kanjirathinkal Veedu, Kunnatheri, Choornikkara, Aluva; Manaf, Valiyaparambil Veedu, Choice Road, near Puthiyathodu Bridge, Palluruthy, and Moideen Kunju, of Paliyathu Veedu, Kunjunnikkara, Aluva.

A case of sedition was registered against Moideen Kunju after the police confiscated material in print and in CD, believed to have been collected for use in their camps, during a search at his residence last week. � Staff Reporter

Seminar on �re-reading\' the works of poet

KOCHI: A two-day seminar on �re-reading the works of poet G. Sankarakurup organised by the Ernakulam cluster of colleges began at the Maharajas College here on Tuesday.

S. Rajasekharan, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, inaugurated the programme.

In his keynote address on the occasion, Dr. Rajasekharan said that G. Sankarakurup was able to map the nuances of nature through his immortal works.

He could also effectively capture the myriad moods of the ecology in his poems, Dr. Rajasekharan said.

Tree count in Kochi

KOCHI: Donning white caps and t-shirts, students of various educational institutions including engineering, social work and human resource management courses will go out on to the streets of Kochi on August 7 to take stock of its green cover.

It is estimated that around 2,000 students belonging to nine educational institutions of the Sacred Heart province of the CMI missionary congregation will cover every street of the city on Saturday as part of the tree census planned by the Kochi Corporation. For every street in the city, two students will be deputed. They will collect details regarding each tree, said Joshi Varghese, the public relations officer of the Rajagiri Outreach Centre.

The survey teams will be flagged off at four zones in the Kochi Corporation area. The student surveyors will record details of trees and plants on the streets including their species, height and girth and whether they were planted or naturally grown. The potential risks or threats faced by them and the availability of protective measures like tree guards will also be recorded.

Pre-paid phone connections hinder probe

KOCHI: Suspects involved in serious crimes are found to have exploited a flaw in the process for verifying identity of users purchasing pre-paid mobile phone connection.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the assault on T.J. Joseph, Malayalam teacher at Newman College, Thodupuzha, allegedly by activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI), has found that all the suspects used pre-paid connection.

A senior official of the SIT said the modus operandi adopted by the group was to take pre-paid mobile connections using copies of identification documents, often forged or fake ones, and start using the phone straightaway. The suspects exploit the grace period of up to four days provided by some leading mobile companies for their customers to submit the original documents for personal identification. As the connection is automatically discontinued at the end of the period, the police are finding it hard to track the suspects using mobile phone records

Cusat opposes move to hive off two departments

KOCHI: The Syndicate of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) will oppose the move to merge the School of Marine Sciences and Industrial Fisheries now under the varsity with the proposed Fisheries University.

Reliable sources at the university told The Hindu on Tuesday that the next Syndicate meet will request the government not to go ahead with the proposed merger. It is learnt that senior Syndicate members had met Education Minister M.A. Baby and requested him not to remove two major schools from the university.

The move is part of the ongoing efforts against the merger with the proposed �Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Students of the School of Marine Sciences and Industrial Fisheries have also stepped up their agitation against the merger move.

Sources said that the bifurcation of the departments including marine biology, atmospheric science, marine geology and geophysics, physical oceanography and chemical oceanography will deprive the research status owned by Cusat. According to official estimates, nearly 40 per cent of the research under the university is being carried out by these departments.

Court upholds special rules

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday upheld the provisions of the Kerala Health Services (Medical Officers) Special Rules 2010 governing seniority, placement and promotion of medical officers in specialty, administrative and other cadres.

Justice Antony Dominic upheld the provisions of the rules while dismissing a batch of writ petitions filed by doctors with postgraduate degrees and super-specialty qualifications.

The petitioners contended that the rules ran contrary to the objective of implementing the specialty and other cadre systems. The diploma holders would steal a march over postgraduate doctors in placement and promotion if the rules were implemented. They submitted that the point system had been adopted for fixing seniority and for promotion.

Murder bid: interim plea rejected

Thiruvananthapuram: Principal Sessions Judge K. Ramakrishnan on Tuesday rejected an interim plea filed by six persons, including four proclaimed gang leaders, to suspend a sub court sentence against them.

Last week, Sub Court Judge Ajitha. K. Hassan had found them guilty of attempt to murder a 73-year-old man as part of an underworld effort to extra judicially evict a tenant from a valuable commercial space at Peroorkada in 2004.

The main accused in the case are Om Prakash, Puthenpalam Rajesh, Goondukadu Shabu alias Prabudhan and Kannadi Shaji, all proclaimed gang leaders under the provisions of the Kerala Anti Social Activities Prevention (Act) (KAPA).

Dutch envoy visits State

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Consul-General of the Netherlands in India Marijke van Drunenlittle is in the State as part of the Dutch endeavours to strengthen economic relations with all parts of the country.

Addressing an interaction with the business community, organised by InKEL Forum of Excellence in association with the National Institute of Personnel Management (NIPM) here on Tuesday, she said the Netherlands had deep experience and technological strength in sectors such as ports, shipping, ship building, food processing, infrastructure, life sciences, health care, education, water management and sanitation.

Kerala had several instances of successful cooperative ventures with the Netherlands and her country looked forward to a further strengthening of relations, she said.

Additional Chief Secretary T. Balakrishnan was the guest of honour at the function. Managing Director of InKEL (Infrastructure Kerala Limited) G.C. Gopalapillai, Chairman of the Public Sector Restructuring and Internal Audit Board John Mathai and Chairman of Thiruvananthapuram chapter of NIPM Joseph Varghese spoke.

Honey harvest turns bitter in State

Thiruvananthapuram: Climate change has a direct impact on the production of honey from rubber plants in the State, recent research carried out by a team from the College of Agriculture, Vellayani, has revealed.

The team, led by S. Devanesan, analysed the incidence of rainfall and honey yield in different districts. They found that untimely rainfall affected the production of honey, resulting in severe economic loss to beekeepers. The results of the study were presented at an international workshop on climate change and rubber cultivation held at Kottayam in July.

Dr. Devanesan said unseasonal rainfall resulted in fungal infection of tender leaves, resulting in unnatural leaf fall. �Commercial production of honey in Kerala is totally dependent on rubber plantations. The honey flow in rubber usually begins during the period from January to February in northern Kerala and March to April in the southern districts.

He explained how rainfall affected the honey production. �On the one hand, it washes away the nectar from the leaves, leaving nothing for the bees to collect. Unseasonal rain also leads to powdery mildew and consequent shedding of the young leaves that secrete nectar.�

College students develop hybrid car

Thiruvananthapuram: Students of Travancore Engineering College at Oyoor in Kollam have developed an add-on hybrid system that will enable a fossil fuel-powered car to work on electricity also without compromising on performance.

A team comprising S.Suvi, A.Sabith, Adel Iqbal, Rahul B.Ranj, Rakesh Krishnan, Rijaf Hussain, L.Baby, Gopakumar, Y.Mouhammed Fawas and N.Nahas claims that the bi-fuel hybrid car is affordable, fuel efficient and less polluting.

The final year students of Mechanical Engineering modified a Maruti 800 without changing the engine components.

They mounted an 8 HP electric motor powered by an array of six batteries.

While the Maruti engine drives the front axle, the electric motor powers the rear wheels through an additional clutch, gearbox and differential borrowed from a Maruti Omni.

The batteries of 12 volts and 100 ampere each can be charged from a plug point. The prototype developed by the students ran 60 km on a full charge.

Surendran Pillai sworn in Minister

Thiruvananthapuram: V. Surendran Pillai, the lone MLA of the Kerala Congress led by P.C. Thomas, was on Tuesday sworn in Minister in the V.S. Achuthanandan Cabinet. Governor R.S. Gavai administered the oath of office and secrecy at a solemn function at the Raj Bhavan.

The 54-year-old Surendran Pillai will hold the Ports and Youth Affairs portfolios.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, Speaker K. Radhakrishnan, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Law Minister M. Vijayakumar, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom, Devaswom Minister Ramachandran Kadannappally, Transport Minister Jose Thettayil, Mayor K. Jayan Babu and former Member of Parliament and Kerala Congress leader P.C. Thomas were present.

The Opposition was represented by Congress Deputy Leader in the Assembly G. Karthikeyan. Legislators representing Thiruvananthapuram were also present along with hundreds of Mr. Pillais supporters who were accommodated in a special enclosure in the Raj Bhavan grounds to witness the swearing-in ceremony.

Mr. Pillais swearing-in ceremony was the seventh that the Raj Bhavan was witnessing after the Achuthanandan Ministry assumed office.

He is the 16th Kerala Congress leader to be sworn in as Minister.

Corporation plans slew of projects

Thiruvananthapuram: The City Corporation is gearing up to launch a package of projects in the run up to the elections to local bodies. Beginning this Thursday, the civic body has chalked out a series of inaugural functions.

The modernisation of the wholesale fish market at Pangode would be the first project off the block, Mayor C. Jayan Babu told a press conference here on Tuesday. The project, at a cost Rs.5.96 crore, included the construction of 50 stalls, cold storage, freezer, toilets, auction platform and generator. Work on an effluent treatment plant had already been completed. Mr. Babu said the National Fisheries Development Board had sanctioned an assistance of Rs.250 lakh for the project. The modernisation work was expected to be over in a year, he said.

The second project to be inaugurated on Thursday is the online system for issue of marriage, birth and death certificates. Provided by the Information Kerala Mission, the facility is designed to speed up the issue of certificates to the public. The inauguration of the renovated Pattarath Thuruthikulam pond in the Pappanamcode ward is the third function scheduled for Thursday.

Speciality rice strain losing ground

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: �It is close to extinction, says Narayanan Unny ruefully, surveying the speciality grain �Njavara rice crop cultivated on his farmland along the banks of Chittur River in Palakkad.

It has been over 30 years since Njavara rice began its decline, with farmers choosing to cultivate more lucrative cash crops. �We are trying vigorously to promote it but a lot of work needs to be done,� he says.

Known for its use in Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapies, Njavara continues to struggle in spite of strong conservation efforts. As another sowing season approaches, this unique strain of paddy remains imperilled despite the best laid plans of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and speciality rice farmers like Mr. Unny.

The Community Agro-biodiversity Centre (CAbC) in Wayanad run by the MSSRF has spent years courting markets and persuading farmers to embrace the medicinal crop. Two molecular studies conducted in the past 20 years have pointed to Njavaras unique qualities, particularly its high amino acid content and the presence of a protein reported to have anti-carcinogenic properties, especially against breast cancer. But clinical trials to validate the rices physiological benefits remain in limbo.

Meanwhile, the foundation has made an attempt to market the speciality rice through value-added products. But �Njavara baby powder and �pappadum have not been big sellers.

�Its an extraordinary rice,� says P. Prajeesh, a research associate at the MSSRF, �but value-added products are more expensive, so most local people wont buy them.�

Monday, August 2, 2010

Put cooperative funds to proper use: Sudhakaran

KANNUR: Funds mobilised by the co-operative sector should be deployed in diverse sectors including education and agriculture, Minister for Co-operation G. Sudhakaran has said.

He was speaking after laying the foundation stone for Raidco Tower, the headquarters of Regional Agro Industrial Development Co-operative of Kerala Ltd., (Raidco) here on Monday.

Raidco, started with the aim of strengthening agricultural engineering activities in the State, should take up new projects for modernising agriculture, he said.

Disclosing that the co-operative sector in the State had disbursed Rs.55,000 crore as loans last year, Mr. Sudhakaran said the sector was now playing a role in professional education. Over 16,000 students were now studying in professional colleges under the co-operative sector, he said.

Mangrove park: report soon

KANNUR: The Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) will submit its final report on the mangrove theme park at Pappinissery to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in a week, authority Chairman C.T.S. Nair has said.

He was talking to mediapersons on Monday after a visit to the park as part of the authoritys �assessment of damage caused to the fragile mangrove ecosystem in the area due to the setting up of the park. The park, run by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-backed Pappinissery Eco-Tourism Society, had been closed following an order of Central Ministry on July 19 citing violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.

The park, on a 4.86-hectare mangrove plot, is on the northern bank of the Valapattanam river. The order was based on the findings of a two-member team.

Haripad accident was bound to happen

ALAPPUZHA: The ugly accident that claimed three lives in an explosion at an illegal firecracker manufacturing unit near Haripad on Sunday was one waiting to happen.

And if a May 2010 report from the Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives on the State-wide status of such units is any indication, the forthcoming festival season may witness several more such mishaps.

The unit at Haripad was the venue for a similar accident six months back, claiming one life, and another accident 10 years back, claiming two lives.

Following the second accident, a social worker from Thrissur, V.K. Venkitachalam, had lodged a complaint with the Chief Ministers Public Grievance Redressal Cell, pointing out that there were several such illegal units in other parts of the State, particularly Thrissur.

Ivory, horns seized

KOCHI: The Department of Revenue Intelligence stopped an attempt to export ivory and other wildlife articles from the city on Monday.

On the basis of a tip-off, the DRI team confiscated a pair of elephant tusks, weighing 10 kg each, four deer horns, one bison horn and one tahr horn. Except for the elephant tusk, all other items were found to have been prepared as trophies, with horns still attached to animal heads.

The objects were recovered from a car parked in a �pay-and-park spot at Palarivattom at around 1.30 p.m. and one person named Eldho of Mararikulam was also detained. The DRI officials put the value of materials confiscated at around Rs. 10 lakh in the domestic market.

The objects and suspect were later handed over the Department of Forests officials at Kodanadu for further investigation

Let merit be the criterion\'

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Monday observed that the appointment of public prosecutors/district government pleaders should be made on the basis of their qualification, reputation, character and not on the basis of their political philosophy.

Justice V. Ramkumar made the observation while allowing Harish Kumar of Thalassery to engage a private lawyer in a case relating to the murder of his brother. The court said that merit alone should be uppermost in the mind of the Sessions Judges while recommending names for inclusion in the panel. The role of District Magistrate was only to include those names in the panel and forward it to the government. Now, if the names were not to the liking of the party-in-power, the panel was returned by the government or the District Magistrate with a request to send fresh names

NIA files charge sheet in Kozhikode blasts case

Kochi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), on Monday, filed a charge sheet against seven accused in the Kozhikode twin bomb blasts case before the NIA Special Court here.

This is the first case taken over by the NIA in the State. It took up the case following the suspected links of the accused with other terror cases in the country.

The blasts took place on March 3, 2006 at two bus stands in Kozhikode city. Two policemen and a porter were injured in the blasts. T. Nazeer, a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative was the first accused.

Fisheries schools in State to be revamped

KOCHI: Fisheries Minister S. Sarma said on Monday that the government has initiated steps to implement the Rs. 10 crore package for revamping 10 fisheries and technical schools in the State.

In his address on the occasion of the distribution of educational and sports awards instituted by the State Fishermen Welfare Board here, he said that the assistance is part of the total Rs. 38 crore allotted to the Fisheries department under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund.

The Minister said that the fund will be used for renovating the 10 technical and fisheries schools in the State. He said that the government will also consider stepping up the daily food allowance for students in fisheries and technical schools. Mr. Sarma said that he will discuss the issue with Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac and take necessary steps to hike the assistance.

Leadership award for SCMS chairman

KOCHI: Kerala is not able to reach the top in the area of higher education, �as we are not able to produce centres of excellence, T. K. A. Nair, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has said.

In his address at the presentation of the Kerala Management Associations management leadership award 2010 to G. P. C. Nayar, chairman of SCMS Group of Educational Institutions, here on Saturday, Dr. Nair encouraged higher educational institutions in the State to step up quality of education being offered to the students.

Pointing out that the higher educational institutions in the State do not figure anywhere in the map of renowned higher educational institutions across the country, Dr. Nair wondered why Kerala is behind in having centres of excellence in higher education.

He said that standards and quality of higher education are the issues plaguing the higher education in the State.

Vallarpadam dredging work to be completed by September

KOCHI: Union Secretary for Shipping K. Mohandas, who reviewed the progress of the work on the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) here on Sunday issued orders for the completion of all dredging work for the project to be completed by the end of September.

Preliminary works of metro hit by paucity of funds

KOCHI: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is unable to begin work to widen narrow roads and bridges in the city, reportedly because the State Government is not providing the funds that it had promised for the purpose.

The inordinate delay by the PWD and the Corporation of Kochi in acquiring land to widen roads and bridges, is another issue stifling the execution of preliminary works of the project. Over half-a-dozen roads and the Ernakulam North overbridge have to be widened (as per a report submitted to the State Government by N. S. Sreenivasan, chairman, Transport Advisory Forum), so that the movement of vehicles and pedestrians is least affected when work on the project is on.

CRPF recruitment

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The CRPF will organise a recruitment programme during August and September to fill 298 vacancies in the Constable GD (Male) and 20 vacancies in the Constable GD (Female) categories from Kerala.

The educational qualification of the candidates is a pass in matriculation or Class X and the age limit is between 18 and 23 years as on August 1, 2010. The application in OMR sheet can be had from all district head post offices. Completed applications should reach the Office of the DIGP, GC, CRPF, Pallippuram, Thiruvananthapuram on or before August 25.

Directive on minority medical college admissions

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Commissioner for Entrance Examinations will soon begin allotments to private self-financing medical and dental colleges, said a press note here on Monday. Of the 50 per cent of the seats in colleges with minority institution status to which the commissioners office would make allotments, 30 per cent would be reserved for students from the community of the college management.

Chullikkad lauds film as a powerful political satire

Thiruvananthapuram: The movie Sakudumbam Shyamala is, perhaps, the best political satire in Malayalam to have come on screen after Panchavadippaalam in 1984, directed by K.G. George, Balachandran Chullikkad, poet and actor, said here on Monday.

Mr. Chullikkad, in the cast of the movie, was addressing a press conference here on Monday, along with its director, Radhakrishnan Mangalath, and scriptwriter, Krishna Poojappura.

Mr. Mangalaths debut movie has Urvashi in the central role as Shyamala, a foolish yet ambitious housewife, whose unexpected tryst with politics and the power that comes with it forms the focal point of the film. Mr. Chullikkads portrayal of a straightforward and uncompromising comrade in the film has come in for much appreciation.

Police on a drive against road accidents S. Anil Radhakrishnan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: To bring down the number of road accidents and to enhance road safety, the Kerala Police are planning some major initiatives.

The prime aim is to bring down accidents from 66 for one lakh motor vehicles at present in Kerala to 30 per lakh as in developed countries, official sources said. Another target is to convert the vicinity of all schools into accident-free zones.

Officials feel that by ensuring better road discipline and enforcing rules strictly in the coming days, deaths due to road accidents in the State can be brought down to below 2,000 a year from the present 3,500.

The police plan to convert accident-prone areas in the State into accident-free zones by December this year. For this, they intend to reduce, through better traffic management, at least one death due to road accident in each police station limit this year compared to 2009

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