Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kochi on alert after Lashkar threat

KOCHI: The Union home ministry has asked Kerala Police to step up security in Kochi following Intelligence inputs that Lashkar-e-Taiba militants may attempt to strike the coastal city.

Following the inputs, Union home secretary Gopal K Pillai spoke to Kochi police commissioner Manoj Abraham and asked him to beef up security in and around the city, official sources said.

The commercial capital of Kerala hosts Southern Command of Indian Navy, a famous Jewish synagogue, Kochi Shipyard and some other sensitive installations.

The Kochi backwaters frequented by foreign and domestic tourists, are also believed to be under the radar of terror groups. International cruise ships and yachts are often anchored at the Kochi harbour.

When contacted, Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that in Thiruvananthapuram that the state DGP received some information from the Centre and steps have been taken on that basis.

High alert machinery has been put on active mode following the receipt of the information, sources said. The security at the nearby Nedumbassery International Airport and coastal surveillance had been increased, they said.

The Kadaloram Jagratta samitis, a committee of fishermen, have been asked to be on the lookout for any suspicious movements on the coastal stretches. The Centre had recently put on alert Bangalore, Mumbai and Union territory of Puducherry about possible terror attacks

Security stepped up at Jewish Synagogue, church in Kochi



KOCHI: Commandos have been posted at the Jewish Synagogue at Mattancherry, the oldest place of worship of the Jewish community in the Commonwealth region, and St Francis church at Fort Kochi following a Union Home Ministry alert about a possible terror strike in the city.

Police said 10 commandos each have been posted at St Francis church and the Synagogue. A Quick Reaction Team of Kerala police are among those manning the two heritage sites in the light of intelligence inputs that Lashkar-e-Toiba militants may attempt to strike in the city.

The remains of Potuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama was first buried at St Francis church before it was taken to his country.

Police said sea patrolling has been intensified and vehicles are also being checked.

Kochi Police Commissioner Manoj Abraham convened a meeting of officials of Cochin Port, Cochin Shipyard, Navy, Coast Guard, Central Industrial Security Force and five star hotels Saturday and asked them to heighten security.

Kochi houses various important installations, including Southern Naval Command and Cochin Shipyard Ltd, where Indias first indigenously developed aircraft carrier is being built.

Security has also been stepped up at Kochi airport and High Court premises, as also at two Hotels of the Taj group.

Union Home Secretary G K Pillai had Friday informed the Kochi Police Commissioner and asked him to beef up security in and around Kochi.

KSRTC bus catches fire, driver killed

KOLLAM: Bangalore bound Kottarakkara deluxe bus caught fire near Dharmapuri Saturday morning killing the driver. The bus had caught fire when it collided with a halted lorry.

Dharmapuri is a place which is 80kms away from Selam .Sixteen passengers including the bus conductor sustained with burn injuries .A team of KSRTC officials have rushed to the spot.

Officials confirmed the death of the driver, K. Ajith of Kuzhimathikadu, Kundara. He belonged to Kottarakkara depot. The deluxe bus, which had started from depot Friday noon, caught fire Saturday morning around 4am.

Four among the injured were hospitalized at Dharmapuri and the rest were taken to a hospital at Selam.



DYFI activists beat S.I

EDAKKARA: Pothukal Sub Inspector of Police C.N Sukumaran was allegedly beaten up by DYFI activists including M.Swaraj, the DYFI Joint Secretary for checking the goods auto rickshaw of the husband of C.P.M Panchayat member. The auto rickshaw was alleged to have illegally collected sand in it. The SI is admitted to the primary health centre at Vandannoor

Balagopal, Seema to be CPI-M\'s RS nominees

TPURAM: Chief Minister V S Achuthanandans Political Secretary K N Balagopal and CPI-M womens wing leader T N Seema will be the partys nominees for the Rajya Sabha elections later this month.

The names were finalised Saturday at a meeting of the state secretariat of CPI-M, a party release said. Going by the ruling partys strength in the state Assembly, CPI (M)-led LDF can win two of the three Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant.

The Opposition Congress-led UDF is expected to re-nominate Defence Minister A K Antony for the third seat.

Antony is one of the three members retiring from the Rajya Sabha, while the other two are A Vijayaraghavan (CPI-M) and P V Abdul Wahab (Indian Union Muslim League). Rejecting the demand of RSP, the LDF had Friday approved the claim of the CPI-M to contest both the seats the front could win.

The KPCC election committees decision to propose Antony as the candidate was unanimous. Considering his national stature as the countrys defence minister, his continuance in the Rajya Sabha is inevitable, state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala told reporters.

Balagopal, a former All-India President of CPI-Ms youth wing DYFI, is now the political secretary to Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan. State president of the partys women outfit AIDWA, Seema has been a prominent woman face of the party in the state for the last few years.

Rejecting the demand of front partner RSP, the LDF had Friday approved the claim of the CPI-M to contest both the seats.

The State Planning Board member and the editor of �Chintha weekly, C P Narayanan will become the new political secretary to Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan

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People in the southern state of Kerala are the heaviest drinkers in India

People in the southern state of Kerala are the heaviest drinkers in India, and sales of alcohol are rising fast. The BBC's Soutik Biswas examines why.
Jacob Varghese says he began drinking when he was nine years old, sipping on his father's unfinished whisky and brandy in glass tumblers.

It's a terrifying story of a descent into alcoholism for this 40-year-old health inspector.

At school, he consumed cheap local liquor. He lived in a haze of alcohol through his teens and dropped out of college.

He lost a job, cut his wrists twice trying to end his life, landed up in rehabilitation centres and at the age of 32, was reduced to begging on the streets to fund his alcohol habit.

'Lost respect'

"Drinking is a disease in Kerala," he says, his voice dropping to a whisper.

"I lost my kin, my respect and all my money chasing alcohol. Everyone encourages you to have it - your friends, the government."

This was before he was dragged to the local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter by friends. This, after 17 years of drinking had reduced him to a mental wreck and a pauper.
Mr Varghese has been sober for the past eight years, and is now married with children and holds down a job.

"Many of my friends have not been as lucky. So many of my drinking buddies died, and others landed up in mental asylums," he says.

Kerala is India's tippler country. It has the highest per capita consumption - over eight litres (1.76 gallons) per person a year - in the nation, overtaking traditionally hard-drinking states like Punjab and Haryana.

Also, in a strange twist of taste, rum and brandy are the preferred drink in Kerala in a country where whisky outsells every other liquor.

Alcohol helps in giving Kerala's economy a good high - shockingly, more than 40% of revenues for its annual budget come from booze.

A state-run monopoly sells alcohol. The curiously-named Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) runs 337 liquor shops, open seven days a week. Each shop caters on average to an astonishing 80,000 clients.

This fiscal year the KSBC is expected to sell $1bn (£0.6bn) of alcohol in a state of 30 million people, up from $12m when it took over the retail business in 1984.

Similarly, revenues from alcohol to the state's exchequer have registered a whopping 100% rise over the past four years.

The monopoly is so professionally run that consumers can even send text messages from their phones to a helpline number to record their grievances.

"If we delay opening any of our shops by even five minutes, clients send us text messages saying that they are waiting to buy liquor," says KSBC chief N Shankar Reddy.

That's not all. There are some 600 privately run bars in the state and more than 5,000 shops selling toddy (palm wine), the local brew. There is also a thriving black market liquor trade.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Restrictions on treasury withdrawals

Thiruvananthapuram: The Finance Department has imposed curbs on the withdrawal of funds from treasuries during the end of the financial year coming to a close on March 31.

The curbs have been imposed to prevent last-minute rush by government departments to utilise their Plan funds and meet expenditure under various heads.

The State usually witnesses frenetic treasury withdrawals on the final day of the financial year as departments, in their attempts to prevent Plan funds and budget provisions from lapsing, resort to the practice of withdrawing huge amounts in cash and in demand drafts. Most often, funds are withdrawn in the name of incomplete works or purchases in violation of the Finance Code. Some departments present delayed bills, cheques and challans.

Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) P. Prabhakaran has directed all department heads and local bodies to ensure full utilisation of budget provisions for their Plan schemes by presenting their final bills on or before March 31. Since the banks and the treasuries have become fully computerised, banking transactions will end by March 31 midnight.

New Melsanthi for Guruvayur temple

Thrissur: Unnikrishnan Namboodiri was on Friday selected as the new Melsanthi of the Guruvayur Sreekrishna Temple.

He was selected by a draw of lots at the temple from five priests shortlisted for the post.

Interview

In all, 58 priests had applied for the post, of whom 56 appeared for interview.

Tanthri Chennas Vasudevan Namboodiripad, Ooralan Mallissery Parameswaran Namboodiripad, Administrator K.N. Raji, and managing committee members T.R. Haari, K.V. Babu and A.V. Chandran were present.

Unnikrishnan Namboodiri, 36, who hails from the Thekkumpurathu Mana in Karalmanna, was Melsanthi of the Sastha Temple at Cherpulassery for 10 years.

The six-month term of the new Melsanthi begins on April 1.

Public cautioned against heat exhaustion

KANNUR: Health officials here on Friday urged the people to take precaution against heat-related illness in view of the reports of heat exhaustion in different parts of the State.


The District Medical Office here cautioned that adults and children should take adequate precautionary measures to prevent sun stroke and heat exhaustion as many parts of the State, including Kannur district, recorded high temperature. Seven students of a school attached to an orphanage near Irikkur here developed signs of heat exhaustion on Friday. They developed skin rashes and showed signs of exhaustion, giddiness and nausea.


Those working outdoor for hours without break were advised to schedule their activities so as to avoid sunstroke and heat exhaustion. People working in hot environment should take adequate rest in a shady place amidst work.


Children should avoid playing in the sunlight. The public should increase their fluid intake during travel and work. Pedestrians should wear caps and sun glasses and carry umbrellas, the release said. Anyone experiencing sudden dizziness, headache, skin rashes and muscle cramps should seek medical treatment, the release said.


Public cautioned against heat exhaustion

KANNUR: Health officials here on Friday urged the people to take precaution against heat-related illness in view of the reports of heat exhaustion in different parts of the State.

The District Medical Office here cautioned that adults and children should take adequate precautionary measures to prevent sun stroke and heat exhaustion as many parts of the State, including Kannur district, recorded high temperature. Seven students of a school attached to an orphanage near Irikkur here developed signs of heat exhaustion on Friday. They developed skin rashes and showed signs of exhaustion, giddiness and nausea.

Those working outdoor for hours without break were advised to schedule their activities so as to avoid sunstroke and heat exhaustion. People working in hot environment should take adequate rest in a shady place amidst work.

Children should avoid playing in the sunlight. The public should increase their fluid intake during travel and work. Pedestrians should wear caps and sun glasses and carry umbrellas, the release said. Anyone experiencing sudden dizziness, headache, skin rashes and muscle cramps should seek medical treatment, the release said.

Corporation to acquire land for expo ground



Kozhikode: A meeting of the Corporation Council, on Friday, decided to acquire 6.12 acres at Puthiyangadi village on Beach Road for setting up a permanent exhibition ground.

The agenda was passed through voting after the Opposition (UDF) went up against it. While 34 councillors of the LDF voted for the proposal, 10 UDF members voted against and four, including an NCP member, abstained from voting.

The council had set in motion a proposal to acquire land for establishing a permanent exhibition ground at Puthiyangadi on February 23. But the councillors belonging to the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) objected to the proposal saying that the area was near the Varakkal temple and would lead to the displacement of 40 families.

The agenda on Friday was brought for the consideration of the council with an amendment reducing the land area to 6.12 acres and sparing the 40 families there from displacement. The councillors belonging to the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) objected to the proposal.

Congress councillor P.K. Mamukoya asked the Mayor to verify if the proposed area was adequate and appropriate for the purpose.

Janata Dal (S) councillor P. Kishanchand, who opposed the agenda, said there was �clear mystery in bringing down the area from 10 acres to 6.12 acres. NCP councillor K. Mammed Koya and Muslim League councillor A.T. Moideen Koya, among others, spoke against the proposal. Mayor M. Bhaskaran said the Kerala Urban and Rural Development Finance Corporation was willing to allot fund for acquiring the land.

Honeybees found infected with rare fungus

Thiruvananthapuram: Scientists attached to the All India Coordinated Research Project on Honeybees and Pollinators at the College of Agriculture, Vellayani, have reported the presence of a rare fungus in specimens of dead bees of an unidentified species collected from Aanadu in the Nedumangad taluk.

The honeybee colony was found dead inside the well in a house on February 24. The bees were found with two to three filamentous structures growing out of their bodies. �It is for the first time the fungus is seen to attack honeybees in India, said S. Devanesan, Professor and Principal Scientist. The bodies of the infected bees were stiff and hard due to the fungus replacing the host tissues inside the viscera.

The fungus, identified as Cordyceps, attacks insects like caterpillars, beetles, bees, ants and other arthropods. The genus has a world-wide distribution and approximately 750 species have been reported so far from Asia, China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. Of this, Cordyceps sinensis is known as caterpillar fungus and is used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicines. It is considered to have anti-tumour, anti- aging, anti-diabetes, immuno modulating, hypoglycaemic, aphrodisiac and anti-malarial properties. Experiments have revealed that Cordyceps sinensis is capable of protecting the bone marrow and digestive systems of mice from whole body irradiation and preventing liver damage � Cordyceps species thrive in humid temperate and tropical forests. An insect host is required for the growth of the fungus. This ensures the pathogens requirement of optimal temperature and humidity and maximal distribution of the spores,� Dr. Devanesan said.

TV channel journalists attacked



KOCHI: A journalist and cameraman of a Malayalam television channel were reportedly attacked while they were covering the CPI-M agitation against price rise near here Friday.

In a release, N Srinath, Secretary, Ernakulam Press Club, said that B J Pradeep, special correspondent and Sherin Joy, the cameraman of Jeevan TV channel, were shooting the agitation against price rise on the main road at Kothamangalam junction and this had provoked CPIM activists.

The attack occurred in front of the police and the cassette was taken away forcibly, he said.

This was the second time such attacks on journalists were taking place while discharging their duties, he said.

He also demanded that Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, IG B Sandhya and Aluva Rural SP Vikram take stringent action against those involved in the attack.

Ernakulam Press Club and District Unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists protested the attack.

Over 4.5 lakh students to appear for SSLC exam in Kerala

TPURAM: A total of 4,56,518 students would appear for this years Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination in Kerala scheduled to be held from March 15 to March 27.

All arrangements for the smooth conduct of SSLC examination were completed, Director of Public Instructions Muhammed Haneesh told reporters here Friday.

There would be 2721 centres. Out of this 11 would be gulf countries and nine in Lakshadweep. Centralised valuation camp would begin on April 5 in 41 camps. The results would be announced in the first week of May, he said.

Out of the total students appearing for the examination, 4.50,167 were regular students, whose number was 3541 more than the previous year.

Examinations of higher secondary and Vocational Higher Secondary also would begin on March 15.

In view of the severe heat condition prevailing in the state, students have been permitted to carry bottled water inside the examination halls, Haneesh said.

New chief priest for Guruvayur temple



GURUVAYUR: T M Unnikrishnan Namboodiri was Friday chosen as the melsanthi (chief priest) of famous Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple for a period of six months from April 1.

He will be succeeding the outgoing chief priest Pazhayth Subramanian Namboodiripad.

The selection was done by draw of lot from a list of 51 short listed candidates, temple authorities said.

The melsanthi, appointed for six month period, will preside over all important poojas and rituals of the temple from the wee hours till late in the night.

There are about 30 sub-priests to assist the chief priest in conducting rituals and ceremonies of Guruvayur temple, the richest Hindu shrine of Kerala, visited by thousands all through the year.

Unninkrisnnan Namboodiripad is now the priest of the Ayyappankvu temple at Cherplassery in Palakkad District.

AICTE gives undertaking in HC

KOCHI: AICTE Friday gave an undertaking in the Kerala High Court stating its new norms for professional self-financing colleges in the country will not be made applicable during the 2010-11 academic year.

The new norms were not intended to be made applicable for existing colleges for their renewal of approval and would be applicable to only new colleges intended to be established this year, AICTE counsel told the court.

An undertaking in this regard was recorded by the court.

Justice T R Ramachandran Nair, before whom the petition by Federation of Associations of Managements of Unaided Professional Educational Institutions in India and Kerala Self-Financing Engineering Managements Association came up challenging the new norms, posted it to March 22.

As per the new norms brought in January, AICTE has enhanced the infrastructural facilities required for the self-financing engineering colleges and has also changed the qualification of teachers and staff strength

Nazir in Kerala Police custody

KANNUR: Suspected LeT operative T Nazir was Friday remanded in Kerala Polices custody in connection with placing of an explosive device close to the busy stadium complex here in September 2008.

The Kannur native was produced before a magisterial court of judge V Unnikrishnan, who remanded him in 11 days custody, police said.

Nazir had planted the explosive to stop Muslim women from coming out and shop on the occasion of Id-ul-Fitr believing it to be un-Islamic, but it did not explode, police said.

Nazir, who allegedly masterminded a network in Kerala to recruit youths for LeT, is believed to be involved in various terror-related cases in the state, including the burning of a Tamil Nadu transport bus in Kalamassery near Kochi in 2005.

Unprecedented security measures were in place as he was produced before the court here Friday evening on the basis of production warrant issued by it Thursday.

RSP denied Rajya Sabha seat

TPURAM: The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) in Kerala was denied Rajya Sabha seat by CPI (M), its powerful coalition ally in the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).

The decision not to take into account the demand of the much smaller RSP insisting on getting one of the two seats that the ruling LDF is sure of winning, was taken at the LDF meet held here Friday.

The CPI (M), which has been eyeing both seats, made it clear at the very outset that both seats were rightfully its.

The meet convened on Thursday to settle the dispute was indecisively dispersed.

The RSP State Secretary V P Ramakrishna Pillai who stepped out the meeting place did not respond to the questions of the media persons at first. But later he stressed his party would not go out of the Front.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Injury-time goal helps Churchill hold Viva Kerala

Substitute Vimal Pariyars injury-time goal helped reigning champions Churchill Brothers, Goa [ Images ], escape defeat and hold a spirited Viva Kerala [ Images ] to a 1-1 draw in thier ONGC [ Get Quote ] I-League football match in Kozhikode on Thursday.

Viva Kerala were hoping to cruise through the match thanks to an early 1-0 lead, but Pariyar scored the all-important equaliser much to the disappointment of the home crowd that was rooting for their side to score what would have been their second straight win after they beat Dempo team in their previous outing in Kozhikode.

Rahul P seized the initiative for the host team, neatly connecting a pass from their Nigerian star player Reuben Senyo in the 37th minute.

The Kerala outfit had quite a few chances in the second session but failed to capitalize on them.

Viva Kerala have 19 points after 19 matches while Churchill Brothers are placed third with 26 points.

Viva Kerala takes on Mahindra in the next home match on March 22.

Kerala\'s love affair with alcohol

People in the southern state of Kerala are the heaviest drinkers in India, and sales of alcohol are rising fast. The BBCs Soutik Biswas examines why.

Kerala has the highest per capita consumption of alcohol in India

Jacob Varghese says he began drinking when he was nine years old, sipping on his fathers unfinished whisky and brandy in glass tumblers.

Its a terrifying story of a descent into alcoholism for this 40-year-old health inspector.

At school, he consumed cheap local liquor. He lived in a haze of alcohol through his teens and dropped out of college.

He lost a job, cut his wrists twice trying to end his life, landed up in rehabilitation centres and at the age of 32, was reduced to begging on the streets to fund his alcohol habit.

Nanotechnology centre for MG varsity

KOTTAYAM: Mahatma Gandhi University has bagged a Rs.4-crore project from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to start a Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, the largest single project being extended to any University in the State under the Nano Mission of the Central government.

Formally announcing the project, which has already been mentioned in the annual budget of the university, here on Thursday, Vice-Chancellor Rajan Gurukkal said the centre would promote and coordinate large scale inter-disciplinary research programmes; provide a centre of educational excellence for training researchers in the field, serve as a bridge between Universitys nano research and industrial application of the technology; provide consultancy services; and study the social, ethical, legal and environmental issues related to nano-science and nanotechnology.

P.K. Chitrabhanu, member of Syndicate, Sabu Thomas and Nanda Kumar Kalarickel were present.

Restaurant employee arrested

Kozhikode: The police have arrested a youth on the charge of placing a hidden video camera in the ladies toilet of a multi-cuisine restaurant in the city.

The accused, Akhil Jose, 23, an employee of the restaurant on the Mavoor Road, was charged under various Sections of the Information Technology Act. The Nadakkavu police would produce him before the Kozhikode Judicial First Class Magistrates Court- IV here on Friday, the police said.

Visitors to the restaurant had detected the hidden video camera in the toilet. They raised an alarm and informed the police.

Meanwhile, several political parties and its feeder organisations took out a march to the hotel in protest against the incident. Activists of the Youth Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Democratic Youth Federation of India took out separate marches to the hotel in the evening. Protestors threw stones at the hotel. Cases were registered in connection with the incident.

Music concert

PALAKKAD: The Palghat Fine Arts Society will organise a Carnatic music concert by Pudupppariyaram Unnikrishnan at the Society Auditorium at Tharekkad here on March 21. Chembai Venkitaraman (violin); Kadakkavur G.S. Rajeshnath (mridangam) and Attingal M.R. Madhu (ghatom) will render the instrumental support.

UDF hartal in Wayanad today

KALPETTA:The Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi (KVVES) district committee and the United Democratic Front (UDF) district committee will observe a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the district on Friday in protest against the ruling of the Karnataka High Court upholding the ban on night traffic on the Sulthan Bathery-Gundlepet stretch of National Highway-212.

The Farmers Relief Forum, a farmers organisation, had also given a hartal call on the same day in the district in protest against the alleged anti-farmer policies of the Central government and alleged revenue recovery measures adopted by financial institutions against the farming community by invoking the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act.

KVVES district committee district general secretary K. Usman and vice-president K. Kunjirayin Haji told reporters on Thursday that the KVVES would intensify the agitation to reinstate night-time traffic.

Apart from this, fruits and vegetables supply from Karnataka to Malabar area would be blocked at the border check-posts in the district by the middle of April.

The decision of the Kerala ministry to challenge the ruling of the Karnataka High Court in the Supreme Court would not solve the issue, they said.

Instead, the State government and MPs from the State should press the Central ministry to issue an ordinance against the night ban after a detailed study. The Centre should efectively intervene as the issue involves three States.

Deer horns seized

KOCHI: Ernakulam Town Central Police arrested one person on charges of keeping deer horns at home.

The police team had found two deer horns in an abandoned bag near the KSRTC bus stand.

While inquiring about the incident, Sunil Jacob, Assistant Commissioner of Police, received a tip-off that similar horns are kept at the home of one Ramachandran of Poonithura.

The police team then searched the home and took into custody more deer horns, said an official press release.

The police have booked the accused under the Wildlife Protection Act. The horns recovered from the bus stand and from the accused were handed over to the Kodanad Forest Officer.

IGNOU convocation on March 15

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The regional convocation of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will be held at the Mascot Hotel here on March 15.



Director of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology B.N. Suresh will be the guest of honour.



This is the first regional convocation of the university after establishing its regional centre here.



As many as 241 students of the university, including 147 who studied courses in management, would be awarded degrees on the occasion

IGNOU convocation on March 15

: The regional convocation of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will be held at the Mascot Hotel here on March 15.

Director of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology B.N. Suresh will be the guest of honour.

This is the first regional convocation of the university after establishing its regional centre here.

As many as 241 students of the university, including 147 who studied courses in management, would be awarded degrees on the occasion.

Jet Airways to start daily flight to Dammam

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Jet Airways will introduce daily flights from the Thiruvananthapuram international airport to Dammam, its third daily service from India to Saudi Arabia, from March 28.

The airline at present conducts daily service from Mumbai to Riyadh and Jeddah. The airline will deploy a Boeing 737-800 aircraft for its operations to Dammam. The introduction of the new service will further strengthen the airlines presence in the Gulf. Dammam will be the 10th destination in Jet Airways Gulf network.

The 9W 566 will depart Thiruvananthapuram at 8.30 p.m. to arrive in Dammam at 10.50 p.m. local time. In the return direction, the 9W 565 will depart Dammam at 11.50 p.m. local time to arrive in Thiruvananthapuram at 7.15 a.m. the next day.

Rising heat leaves House jittery

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The rising mercury and the drought conditions being experienced in different parts of the State have got the lawmakers worried. The Assembly on Thursday saw several Ministers and Opposition leaders putting their heads together to reach relief to the drought affected and mitigate the impact of the dry spell.

The discussion on the subject arose from a submission by M. Hamsa (CPI-M), who wanted urgent steps to provide relief to those who had suffered sunstroke on Wednesday in his constituency in Palakkad. The mercury in the district had risen to 42 degrees Celsius on Wednesday. What ensued was a veritable short-duration discussion on the subject.

Replying to the submission, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said he had got in touch with the Palakkad Collector immediately on getting information that some six persons had suffered sunstroke. He had also directed the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) to Palakkad to make an on-the-spot study.

Deputy leader of the Congress Legislature Party G. Karthikeyan suggested that since farm workers and those who must spend a major part of the day would not be able to work under the severe sun, the government should consider giving them free ration and treatment. The government should also consider setting up a crisis management cell at the Secretariat, he said.

Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran said the dry spell was causing serious damage to all drinking water supply schemes based on groundwater. A second study conducted by the Groundwater Department had shown that there was a 38 per cent fall in groundwater over the last fortnight, he said.

Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran said a team of the Disaster Management Authority would visit Palakkad. The government had already released funds for drinking water supply in all areas experiencing water shortage. It would provide additional funds for Palakkad if the need arose, he added.

Forest Minister Benoy Viswom said that though short-term measures were crucial, the Forest Department would use the opportunity to promote long-term afforestation campaigns which alone could provide a long-term solution to the problem.

KOZHIKODE: Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been named as the \'Woman of the Decade\' in an online survey conducted by leading Malayalam daily, the Mathrubhumi\'s women\'s online site on the occasion of the world\'s Women�s Day. Sonia Gandhi secured 53% votes in the survey conducted by the daily\'s \'mb4eves.com\' followed by Mayilamma, the woman activist who spearheaded the agitation against soft drink major Coca Cola over the exploitation of underground water at Plachimada in Palakkad district of Kerala. While Mayilamma received 13% votes, Indian-American astronomer Sunita Williams bagged the third spot with 9% votes, according to the website. The \'iron lady\' of Manipur, Irom Sharmila, pooled 8.5% votes and President Pratibha Singh Patil with 6% votes came fourth and fifth respectively. Among those who secured a place in the list are badminton champion Saina Nehwal (4%), Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai (3%) and tennis star Sania Mirza (2%).

There is something different about Mamta Mohandas. Not only does the svelte actor ooze style and sophistication in front of the camera but going by the number of hits she has had on the top of the charts in Tamil and Telugu, she has also proved her talent as a singer. And the year 2010 could well be the year when she finally gets her due in Malayalam cinema. Lined up are three films that have her in the lead, including an untitled one directed by Satyan Anthikad that will hit theatres next month.

�I am looking forward to the release of Sathyans film. I am there in almost every scene and it is a role that any leading heroine in Malayalam cinema would have jumped at the chance to do, says Mamta in an interview to Friday Review, while in Kozhikode for the shooting of the film.

�I play the role of Vidya Lakshmi who goes through some tough experiences in life only to fight back and succeed. I portray two stages of her life � as a young girl and as a mother of a four-year-old. The film has shaped up well and I am sure my efforts will be noticed. Sathyan is one of the Malayalam directors I have always wanted to work with,� adds Mamta.

Rs 25 lakh in fake currency seized in Kerala

In Kerala, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence officials on Thursday seized fake currencies worth 25 lakh rupees from an air passenger at the Cochin International Airport Thursday morning. The passenger, Gopinathan of Alappuzha, who arrived from Dubai, has been arrested.

He was later produced before the Economic Offences Wing Additional Chief Judicial Magistrates court at Ernakulam and was remanded. r the US Department of Energy (DoE) reported a large drawdown in gasoline and distillate

Birla Kerala Vaidyashala Launches Mobile Spine Clinic

Birla Kerala Vaidyashala (BKV), a JV between Kerala Vaidyashala and Yash Birla Group offering ayurvedic medi-spa, launched Indias first mobile spine clinic to provide relief to the overstressed executives and celebrities. The mobile spine clinic will come at a place of convenience for the patient. The treatment may include one or combination of therapies. The following special treatments are available at the Mobile Spine Clinic: muscle relaxing fomentation therapy, muscle stimulating fomentation therapy, phyto anti-inflammatory therapy using bolus dipped in hot medicated oil, advanced spinal bio-muscular toner therapy using muslin bags filled with hot medicated mixture, sacro therapy where specially prepared warm medicated liquid is kept over the lower back with medicated paste boundary and spinal neuro therapy. BKV provides advanced spine care treatment based on indigenous Indian system of medicine.

Said Yash Birla, In this competitive world, people have to run at a fast pace to achieve their goals. In this process, they tend to overlook their health. The main reason is the time constraint. Just to overcome this problem, we have launched the BKV Mobile Spine Clinic.

Grim summer tanning Kerala, power and water crunch in store

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Though the summer season has not yet touched half-way point, Kerala has been reeling under severe heat.

Even as mercury soared to unprecedented levels of up to 40 degree Celsius in some pockets of the state in the last few days, weathermen forecast that days ahead could be hotter till the equinox (when the sun crosses the plane of the earths equator and day and night are of equal length) on March 21.

While the highest levels of temperature were recorded from Palakkad district and Punalur town in Kollam district, mercury level has been averaging between 33 and 35 degree Celsius in most parts of the state in the last few days.

Since the rise in temperature is seen by the scientific community in the larger perspective of climate change and global warming, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is planning to conduct a comprehensive study into the seasonal variations in Kerala, IMD officials said.

According to some experts, lack of summer rains and absence of moisture laden north westerly wind have contributed to the present situation. Things could become grimmer if the dry winds from across the land through Andhra and Tamil Nadu hit Kerala in the coming days, they said.

If the present scenario continues, the state would head to serious drinking water and electricity crisis with rivers, rivulets, wells and tanks fast drying up and storage in hydro power reservoirs dwindling.

Isaac cites two key measures

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said fiscal consolidation measures would get a huge boost if the state was able to achieve two objectives.

One, net Rs 400 crore from the sale of sand dredged from Malampuzha, Chulliyar and Neyyar dams within the next two months, before the rains.

Two, issue an official order this March itself to regularise the conversion of paddy land in revenue records prior to 2008.

``If this happens, I assure the members in this august House that there would be no dearth of funds for their constituency- related projects, Isaac said while replying to the general discussion on the budget in the Assembly on Wednesday.

``Fees will be levied on the basis of newly-fixed fair value.

By conversion of such land the owners of the property have made consider- a b l e gain. Part of such economic gain will be mobilised for public good,�� Isaac said about the regularisation scheme in the budget. About gains from dam de-silting, Isaac said this scheme could be expanded to the level of extracting 30,000 to 40,000 cubic metres of sand and silt per day before May 2010

Govt moots Malayalam varsity

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government was committed to making Malayalam the official language in all departments and courts in the state. The government would also seriously consider the demand for establishing a University of Malayalam, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan told the Assembly on Wednesday.

While replying to a calling-attention motion by C P Mohammad on the necessity to accelerate the implementation of Malayalam as the official language, the Chief Minister said the government was taking all steps to achieve the target. ``The Official Language Act on the matter was passed way back in 1969. Even after 40 years, we are not able to achieve the goal.

More than 50 percent files in the Secretariat have been made Malayalam, he said.

Steps taken on the Justice Narendran Commission report to convert court languages into Malayalam was also progressing, he said. To promote the language among Non-resident Keralities, the government had launched �Malayalam Mission� by setting up Malayalam education centres outside the state, Achuthanandan told the Assembly.

Jet Airways to launch Thiruvananthapuram-Dammam flights



Private sector airline Jet Airways today said it would introduce from March 28 daily flights from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala to Dammam, its third daily service to Saudi Arabia from India.

The airline currently flies daily from Mumbai to Riyadh and Jeddah, it said in a press release. It said the flight would be operated with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Dammam will be the airlines tenth destination in the Gulf. Apart from Riyadh and Jeddah, it also flies to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Doha, Kuwait, Muscat and Sharjah from different cities in India.

The new flight, 9W 566, will depart Thiruvananthapuram at 2030 hrs, arriving in Dammam at 2250 hrs. On the return sector, 9W 565 will depart Dammam at 2350 hrs, arriving in Thiruvananthapuram at 0715 hrs, the following day.

Jet Airways has already established itself as a prestigious brand in the intensely competitive Indo-Gulf sector in a relatively short period of time, on accord of the warmth of its service and quality of its in-flight product, Mr Nikos Kardassis, CEO, Jet Airways, said.

NIA opposes relaxation of Soofiya\'s bail terms

KOCHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing the Kalamassery bus burning case, on Wednesday submitted before the CBI Special Court that Soofiya Madhani was the main conspirator in the case and should not be granted any relaxation of her bail conditions.

Soofiya had submitted a petition for relaxation of the bail condition that she should not leave Ernakulam district. Soofiya submitted that she wished to visit her sick mother and her husband Abdul Nasar Madhani, undergoing treatment at Thiruvananthapuram.

The NIA submitted that as Soofiya was highly influential any such relaxation would adversely affect the course of investigation.

New nature cure hospital in city

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Nature Life International will start its fifth hospital in the State in Thiruvananthapuram. The hospital that will offer nature cure will be inaugurated by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan at Poojappura at 10.30 a.m. on March 14.

Addressing a news conference here on Wednesday, Nature Life International chairman Jacob Wadakkanchery said the hospital would focus on a cure method that will help patients learn about the disease and cure it naturally. The hospital will function at Lanka Lane, Kesavan Nair Road, Poojappura. At present, Nature Life is operating Naturopathy Hospitals in Kozhikode, Mannarkkad, Ramanattukara and Ernakulam in Kerala and in Thailand

SLEC okays land value for track doubling

KOCHI: Giving a fillip to the track doubling along the Mulanthuruthy-Kuruppanthara stretch, the State-Level Expert Committee (SLEC) has approved the price of land to be given to the land owners earlier fixed by the District- Leve l Ex p e r t Committee.

Around hundred families have given over their land for the purpose. With the SLEC approving the value of land, it will be easy for the Revenue Department to acquire the land. The delay in land acquisition had been one of the major hurdles to completing the doubling work.

The Railway Budget 2010-11 has earmarked Rs 2 crore for the Kayamkulam-Mavelikkara, Rs 5 crore for Mavelikkara- Chengannur, Rs 20 crore for Mulamthuruthy- Kuruppanthara and Rs 20 crore the Kuruppanthara-Chingavanam stretches

KOCHI: The Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on Wednesday dismissed the bail applications submitted by nine accused in the controversial Paul M George murder case. CJM N Leelamani said that bail could not be granted considering the present status of the case. The court rejected the argument by the accused that they deserve bail since they were in custody for the last six months. �It is true that accused should be considered innocent till they are found guilty. But they are being kept in custody for proceeding of investigation in the right direction and also for the safety of society. The custody of the accused in this case can be justified, considering their criminal and anti-social background,� the court said. The CBI, which is investigating the case, submitted that more evidence had to be collected and releasing them on bail would affect the progress of investigation

KOCHI: A week after the BSNL launched its WiMax network - Indias first commercial urban mobile WiMax network - in Ernakulam, there are major security concerns over the possibility of infiltration into the network. IT experts pointed out that already there were a number of unsecured WiFi networks in many parts of the city. The BSNL officials are of the view that since only authentic users will be able to access the WiMax network, there is no room for security concerns. However, chances are there for WiMax networks to be hacked and misused by unauthorised users. Unlike the case of open WiFi networks which are available in many parts of the city currently, a WiMax network needs a specific authentication from the user.

Sameera is in love with Kerala!

Sameera Reddy just cant stop gushing about Gods own country where she�s currently shooting for a Malayalam film titled Oru Naal Varum.

Writing on her micro-blogging page, she describes Kerala as a �breath-taking place. While her last Tamil release was Aasal, Sameera was also seen in a blink-and-miss shot in the Simbu-Trisha starrer Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa.

�That shot you see is from my upcoming Tamil thriller that�s being directed by Gautham Menon, states the actress, who has earlier worked with the director in Vaaranam Aayiram, which also featured Suriya, Simran and Divya Spandana. Sources tell us that the actress will soon be in the city to continue work on her untitled thriller.

Big B to become Kerala tourism\'s brand ambassador

Amitabh Bachchan has accepted Keralas request to become the states brand ambassador to promote tourism, state Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Thursday.

As soon as Big B expressed his willingness to become a brand ambassador to promote Kerala tourism last month, a letter to this effect was written to him, Balakrishnan said.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I got his letter stating that he is willing to become the brand ambassador and for that he is prepared to start a dialogue. I have asked the tourism director to have a discussion to this effect, said Balakrishnan.

Big B was in the state for a few functions last month. It was then, during an interview to a TV channel, that the actor said he would gladly accept the offer to become Kerala tourisms brand ambassador.

I tried to get in touch with him, but I was told he was out of station. The government is willing to go ahead with him and the final decision to this effect will be made after knowing all the conditions he puts forward, said Balakrishnan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another accused in twin bomb blasts grilled

Kozhikode, Mar 10 (PTI) The National Investigating Agency, probing various terror-related cases in Kerala, today took Shafas, a key accused in the March 2006 twin bomb blasts here, to three spots in the city as part of evidence gathering in the case.

The team led by NIA Superintendent T K Rajmohan took Shafas, a close accomplice of T Nazir, who plotted the blasts reportedly to avenge the 2002 Marad communal clashes in which five persons were killed, to spots close to the Markas mosque complex, Palayam mosque and the KSRTC bus station amid tight security, NIA sources said.

Two persons, including a police constable, were injured in the blasts in the private bus and the KSRTC bus stations here on March 3, 2006.

Shafas, brought here from Viyyur Central Jail in Thrissur, was subjected to sustained interrogation yesterday

Pvt bus operators withdraw strike call



THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The private bus operators in the state have withdrawn their decision to go on an indefinite strike from Thursday after the Government assured that a permanent regulatory commission would be constituted to look into all issues pertaining to bus operators.

Transport Minister Jose Thettayil told reports after talks with the bus operators here on Thursday that a three-member regulatory committee would soon be constituted. The committee would comprise of a judicial member, an expert in the field of transport and an expert in economics.

A government official would be the member-secretary of the commission.

All issues pertaining to bus operations, including fare revision and student concession, could be taken up before the regulatory commission.

It has been a long-pending demand of bus operators to constitute a permanent commission to deal with the issues. Earlier, the bus operators had decided to go on strike from Thursday demanding further increase in the fares.

Meanwhile, Thettayil said that the State would approach the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court order upholding the ban on vehicular traffic through Kozhikode - Bangalore highway. The Karnataka government had earlier assured that the matter would be sorted out, he said

\'Parallel\' college pioneer Nair sees opportunity in micro dairies

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: College kids and cattle are as different as chalk and cheese, but the pioneer of �parallel college education in Kerala,

Achuthan Nair, is proving that he can help make cheese as well as he could handle chalk.

For many decades when the licensing system put a constraint on the availability of regular college seats, Achuthan Nair and his friend Balakrishnan Nair pioneered the �parallel college education in Kerala. That experiment shook the higher education model in the state, enabling thousands to graduate through the duos �Our College�, which at one time had over 10,000 students spread across its different campuses in the state.

Achuthan Nair�s family continues to have an interest in the education sector, with his son AL Pradeep taking over as managing director of Our College which now runs two regular colleges, but Nair sees a new prospect in micro-dairy farming.

From June 1, tobacco packs to carry scarier pictures

NEW DELHI: Its a picture that 98% people polled in seven states of India said will repulse tobacco users, in turn helping them to quit smoking or chewing tobacco.

A new pictorial warning will appear on every tobacco pack sold in India from June 1 and it sure isnt pretty.

The health ministrys latest notification, made on March 5, has chosen a gory picture of a rotting cancer-stricken mouth to appear on tobacco packs. In field tests in Orissa, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh by the Voluntary Health Association of India, 98% of the 734 people polled found the picture repulsive and perfect to help smokers quit.

B S Bhasin takes charge of chief GM of SBI

TPURAM: B S Bhasin took charge as the chief general manager of SBI Kerala circle

Twin bomb blasts: Another accused Shafas grilled

KOZHIKODE: The National Investigating Agency, probing various terror-related cases in Kerala, Wednesday took Shafas, a key accused in the March 2006 twin bomb blasts here, to three spots in the city as part of evidence gathering in the case.

The team led by NIA Superintendent T K Rajmohan took Shafas, a close accomplice of T Nazir, who plotted the blasts reportedly to avenge the 2002 Marad communal clashes in which five persons were killed, to spots close to the Markas mosque complex, Palayam mosque and the KSRTC bus station amid tight security, NIA sources said.

Two persons, including a police constable, were injured in the blasts in the private bus and the KSRTC bus stations here on March 3, 2006.

Shafas, brought here from Viyyur Central Jail in Thrissur, was subjected to sustained interrogation Tuesday.

Kerala sizzles under heat; 5 treated for sun stroke symptoms

TPURAM: With summer advancing in Kerala, five persons were treated for sun stroke symptoms in Palakkad District where mercury soared to 41.5 degree celsius Wednesday.

The victims -- taxi drivers and vegetable venders -- were treated at a primary health centre at Pathiripala and sent home after first aid, officials said.

According to officials of Integrated Rural Technology Centre at Mutoor in Palakkad, average temperature in the district varied between 30 to 40 degree celsius during February-March.

Normally, Kerala experiences summer from the end of March but this year the heat has been intense since the last two weeks.

Water table in all the major rivers and dams in the state have started receding resulting in drinking water problems.

The water level had also come down in the famous tourist spot of Thekkady lake.

NIA opposes Soofiya\'s petition for relaxing bail conditions

KOCHI: The National Investigation Agency has opposed the petition filed by Soofiya Madhani, wife of PDP leader Abdul Nasar Madani and the 10th accused in a Tamil Nadu bus burning case in 2005,seeking relaxation of her bail conditions.

Earlier, the Ernakulam Sessions court had granted her conditional bail after she was arrested in December 2009. It had directed her not to leave Ernakulam district and appear before investigating officials as and when required.

Soofiya, in her petition filed before the CBI Special Court Ernakulam, which is considering terror-related cases in Kerala, sought relaxation of the bail conditions to enable her visit her ailing husband in Thiruvananthapuram and her mother.

Opposing Soofiyas petition, NIA said she is the wife of a prominent leader of a party and that if the bail conditions were relaxed, she might influence witnesses and tamper with the investigations. She is the main conspirator in the case, NIA alleged in their written objection.

University staff seek removal of Registrar

MALAPPURAM: Employees and teachers organisations at Calicut University on Wednesday demanded that Sanskrit professor T.K. Narayanan, who is currently Registrar of the university, be removed from service in the light of a High Court verdict, followed by the Chancellors order, ratifying the appointment of a rival candidate.

Leaders of the Calicut University Staff Organisation, Calicut University Teachers Association, Solidarity of University Employees, Calicut University Employees Forum, and Calicut University Employees Centre demanded that Dr. Narayanan step down from the Registrars post honouring the Chancellors order giving �notional appointment and all benefits to B. Karunakaran as Sanskrit professor at the university.

The Chancellors order marked the finale of a prolonged legal battle over the appointment of a Sanskrit professor in 1989, for which Dr. Karunakaran and Dr. Narayanan were candidates.

The selection committee in 1989 preferred Dr. Karunakaran to Dr. Narayanan for professors post.

The Syndicate, however, refused to appoint Dr. Karunakaran, who appealed to the Chancellor Dr. Swaroop Singh against the Syndicate move.

When the Chancellor favoured Dr. Karunakaran, his rival candidate Dr. Narayanan moved the court. Although the court asked the Chancellor to take an appropriate decision, no decisive move was made. Dr. Narayanan was appointed professor in 1997.

Court ruling

The High Court on November 24, 2009, ratified the appointment of Dr. Karunakaran and asked the Chancellor to take a final decision in the matter. The Chancellor ordered on February 19, 2010, that Dr. Karunakaran should be given �notional appointment and all benefits.

Dr. Karunakaran had retired from teaching in 1999 as head of the Department of Sanskrit, S.N. College, Kollam. If he had been appointed professor at the university in 1989, he would have been eligible for many benefits, the Chancellor observed.

Red Ribbon Express to arrive in Kollam today

KOLLAM: Phase 2 of the Red Ribbon Express (RRE), flagged off by Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance from New Delhis Safdarjung railway station on December 1, 2009 will arrive in the district on Thursday. Its halt is at the Karunagapally railway station.

Labelled as the worlds largest social mobilisation campaign against HIV/AIDS, the RRE, with ten coaches, is an exhibition-cum-education train that is scheduled to halt at 152 stations to spread awareness on AIDS at 10,000 villages in 141 districts of the country.

The train began its Kerala campaign on February 23 at Kasaragod

Medical college festival ends

KANNUR: The Government Medical College (GMC), Thrissur, emerged overall champions at the All Kerala Inter-Medical College Festival that concluded at the Academy of Medical Sciences (ACME) at Pariyaram here on Wednesday.

The four-day cultural and sports events hosted by ACME ended on the campus with a valedictory function inaugurated by Kerala Medical University Vice-Chancellor K. Mohandas.

Youth stabbed to death

ALAPPUZHA: A youngster was stabbed to death in front of his mother by a group of persons after an altercation in a toddy shop at Chungom near the Stone Bridge here on Wednesday.

Manilal, 24, who used to run a tyre re-treading business in Maharashtra, had recently joined his mother Nalini to supply food items to the toddy shop.

Last Sunday, the same group had a squabble with another group in the toddy shop and Manilal had intervened to stop the fight.

UDF plans new policy on education

Thiruvananthapuram: The United Democratic Front (UDF) has taken another step towards formulating a new education policy for schools based on the keyword �peoples curriculum.

The basic idea is to hold a series of workshops on education across the State, spearheaded by the Opposition coalitions Expert Committee on Education set up a few months ago.

The workshops will focus on the various problems Keralas school education sector is facing and come up with a policy framework, according to G.V. Hari, member-secretary of the expert committee.

The first of the workshop series will be held at Indira Bhavan, headquarters of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), here on March 12.

The State-level workshop, to be inaugurated by former Education Minister T.M. Jacob, will be followed by 14 district-level workshops. The workshops will discuss two general issues related to school education, four core issues and 11 theme topics.

The core issues include topics related to the primary, high school, higher secondary and vocation school sectors.

Woman arrested on charge of daughter\'s murder

Thiruvananthapuram: The Rural police have arrested a 33-year-old woman in connection with the murder of her 13-year-old daughter, Jazna.

Nedumangadu Circle Inspector A. Pramod Kumar identified the suspect as Rejina Begum. He said the accused and her lover, Sreekuttan alias Harshakumar alias Tajuddin, had killed Jazna to hide their extra marital relationship from Rejinas husband who is working in the Gulf.

Mr. Pramod said Sreekuttan committed suicide by consuming a lethal pesticide on March 2 after he learned the police were investigating him in connection with Jaznas death.

The case came to light on February 28 when Rejina roused her neighbours and told them that her daughter had committed suicide by hanging. The neighbours and later the police found Jaznas lifeless body lying on the bed. Rejina impressed upon her neighbours that she had cut Jazna down when she found her hanging by the neck from a shawl tied to an elevated window bar.

Kerala IT gearing up for IndiaSoft 2010

Thiruvananthapuram: A team representing the Department of Information Technology, government of Kerala, will be participating in the 10th edition of �IndiaSoft 2010 � Indias exclusive international IT event taking place in Jaipur, Rajasthan, from March 10 to 12.

�Kerala IT eyes an opportunity to interact with and attract IT buyers across the globe at the IndiaSoft 2010. The event is also an opportunity for us to network with buyers from other countries and showcase our State to the international delegates. In fact, Thiruvananthapuram has featured as the fourth hottest IT destination in India after Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai and we fully intend to capitalise on this stature, said Binu Pazhoor, CEO, Cyberpark.

Award for Yesudas

Thiruvananthapuram: The first Karikkakathamma Award instituted by the Karikkakam Sri Chamundi Temple Trust has gone to singer K.J. Yesudas.

Office-bearers of the trust told a press conference here on Wednesday that Mr.Yesudas was selected for the award for his contribution to the world of music. The award consists of a purse of Rs.10,001, citation and a statuette.

The award will be given away at a meeting to be held on the temple grounds on March 21, the first day of the week-long annual Pongala festival of the temple.

Woman killed in accident

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A 50-year-old woman was killed when the autorickshaw in which she was travelling was hit by a lorry near the Siva temple, Panagode near Venganoor, on Wednesday night. The accident took place around 9.30 p.m. The deceased was identified as Santha, a resident of Kalluvettamkuzhi.

Volvo, private buses collide

.KOCHI: A KSRTC Volvo bus on Tuesday collided with a private bus which halted abruptly to pick a passenger at Pandikudi on Tuesday, police said. The driver of the private bus Jayaraj, 30, was arrested under Section 279 of the IPC for rash driving, police said.

The private bus which overtook the KSRTC bus at high speed halted suddenly leading to the mishap, police said. However, no body was injured.

The KSRTC bus was operating on the Fort Kochi-Nedumbassery route while the private bus was conducting service between Kochi and Perumbadappu.

District Transport Officer Jayaraj said that an amount of Rs 80,000 would be needed to repair the bus

Sameera is in love with Kerala

Sameera Reddy just cant stop gushing about God�s own country where she�s currently shooting for a Malayalam film titled Oru Naal Varum.

Writing on her micro-blogging page, she describes Kerala as a �breath-taking place. While her last Tamil release was Aasal, Sameera was also seen in a blink-and-miss shot in the Simbu-Trisha starrer Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa.

�That shot you see is from my upcoming Tamil thriller that�s being directed by Gautham Menon,� states the actress, who has earlier worked with the director in Vaaranam Aayiram, which also featured Suriya, Simran and Divya Spandana. Sources tell us that the actress will soon be in the city to continue work on her untitled thriller.

Kerala Feeds in expansion mode

THRISSUR: The state-owned Kerala Feeds Ltd based at Kellattumkara is on a major expansion path. KFL chairman S Sivasankara Pillai and project manager M P John told reporters on Tuesday that the company was in the process of setting up a Rs 35 crore, 300-tonne-a-day cattle feed unit at Karunagappally in Kollam on a 10-acre plot.

The plant and machinery were now being put in place for the unit whcih is scheduled to be functional by December. KFLs annual cattle feed production will go up from 1,95,000 tonnes to 2,85,000 when the new unit becomes operational. KFL�s market share in Kerala will then be nearly 30 per cent (it is 20 per cent at present).

Another project being implemented is the Rs 2.50-crore, 15,000-tonne-a-year densified fodder unit (compressed hay and molasses cake) at Muthalamada in Palakkad district. The KFL officials said it was for the first time a densified fodder unit is being set up in South India. The main raw material will be paddy hay, a substantial portion of which is either burnt or left to decay by farmers.

As per a survey done by the company, nearly 50 tonnes of hay required by the unit would be available in Palakkad and neighbouring districts. This unit is also expected to be functional by the year-end.

The third unit slated to begin operation around the same time to produce mineral mixture and goat feed will come up at an investment of Rs 3.83 crore at Athavanad in Malappuram district.

It will produce 1,200 tonnes of mineral mixture and 30,000 tonnes of goat feed. Pillai said cattle feed in the form of pellets produced by KFL was in great demand in the state and the present daily production of 650 tonnes was insufficient to meet the demand.

As against a net profit of Rs 1 crore in 2008-2009, KFL is expected to generate Rs 2.5 crore this fiscal

\'Vaaranam Aayiram a turning point in my life\'

Actor Sameera Reddy talks about her debut in Mollywood, as Saraswathy Nagarajan listens

�Kerala � gods own country� Its so lush and peaceful... Beautiful morning! gushes Sameera Reedy on Twitter. The tall and willowy actor has been in the city for the last one week as she plays the female lead (opposite Mohanlal) in T.K. Rajeevkumars film Oru Naal Varum.

�I have been following my heart for the last two years and things have really fallen into place, says Sameera who has been winning the hearts of the cast and crew of the film with her non-filmy attitude and lack of airs.

Sameera even got a heros welcome after she walked to her location when her car got stuck in a traffic jam. �I knew that the entire crew and a senior actor like Mohanlal were waiting on the sets and it was just a short walk to the location. So, I walked to the sets followed by my entourage. There were gasps of surprise when I reached the location,� says a pleasantly surprised Sameera, a familiar face in Kerala thanks to director Gautham Menons Vaaranam Aayiram (VA).

Our families in India being harassed: UAE-settled Keralites

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A group of Keralites settled in the UAE have complained to the union home minister and the Kerala chief minister that their families in India are being harassed over delayed payments of credit cards issued in Dubai.

Due to the financial crisis in recent times, many of us lost jobs and some are working on reduced salaries, hence some of us could not pay on time. It cannot be considered a willful default, said the letter addressed to union home minister P.Chidambaram and Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan.

The credit card companies, through their call-centres, are making calls to our relatives, including women, in our native places. The services of goons are also being used to threaten the women at home. This is a serious violation of human rights, said the complaint that has been signed by more than 50 people.

Copies of the letter have been marked to Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy and the director general of police here. Balakrishnan said he is yet to receive the complaint.

Certainly, I will look into the matter when I get the complaint. Already rules here are very clear that the law cannot be taken into their hands by anyone. Recovery proceedings if done against the prescribed laws amounts to violation. That law is already in place here on how recovery proceedings can be conducted, Balakrishnan said.

The state government last year came out with stringent laws after several complaints surfaced of people being harassed by agents over delayed payments.

Malabar on canvas

KOCHI: Facets of nostalgic Malabar memories have been reproduced on canvas in all their vividness by a group of artists from across the country. Kala Kendra, a Delhi-based forum of artists, in association with Centre for Heritage Studies, is conducting an artists workshop at the Hill Palace complex. The workshop began on March 4 and will conclude on March 10.

�We have been working together for the past few years under the banner �Kala Kendra� in Delhi, and this workshop is our first venture. It aims to provide maximum exposure for upcoming artists, said Shaji Punchathu, chairman of Kala Kendra. We have been charting various projects like seminars and get-togethers of artists from entirely different cultural arenas and the documenting of the languishing fine art forms spread over India,� he said.

�A theme-based painting workshop may clip the creative wings of an artist,� Shaji observes.

�But here we are trying to explore entirely different views and angles of artists on a particular cultural scenario of Kerala rooted in tradition - the landscape of Kannur and nearby remote villages.� The works progressing in the workshop depict the visual magic evolved from the aesthetic views of a handful of artists. As the theme revolves around the Malabar belt, a common element is evident in all the works, irrespective of whether they are abstract or realistic in treatment - the intensity of the colours, which is the identity of North Malabar. In his work Suresh Koothuparambu tries to depict the conventional concept of North Malabar through an abstract work. Sculptor Suresh has tried to create the gigantic image of a traditionally dressed Malabar woman using the flat surface technique in painting

Guwahati man wins WagonR challenge

NEW DELHI: Neeraj Sharma, a member of infrastructure cell at IIM-Shillong, has won the WagonR Think Big Challenge, an initiative to give people a platform to present their ideas before industry stalwarts.

Sharma, a resident of Guwahati, proposed setting-up a 1.25 mw biomass gasifier-based renewable power generation system in the acute power-deficient industrial area of Byrnihat in Meghalaya, using biomass waste generated by industries in the region.

He was handed the keys to a WagonR car and a cheque for Rs 10 lakh as prize by actor R Madhavan at a ceremony held on March 5 in Delhi.

Other finalists were Vineet Devaiah from Lucknow, Sidharth Srivastava from Mumbai and Ananda Sendhil from Cochin � all three had won the zonal rounds of the challenge.

Sebi suspends 73 brokers for default fee payment

Sebi has passed two orders... Suspending the certificates of registration of 17 and 56 stock brokers respectively of various stock exchanges till the time outstanding registration fees are fully paid, the Sebi said in a release.

These brokers include those from BSE, NSE, OTCEI, Cochin and Vadodara.

Consequently, the certificates of registration of these stock brokers operating as sub-brokers of subsidiaries of Stock Exchanges... Shall also remain suspended accordingly, the regulator said.

The order was passed on March 8 and would come into force on the expiry of 21 days.

Airtel Introduces New Own Net Calling Packs in Kerala

Indias largest GSM mobile service operator Bharti Airtel announced the launch of tow new Own-Net calling Pack to provide cheapest Airtel to Airtel Local callings to its prepaid subscribers in Kerala telecom circle.

Airtel�s New Own Net calling pack will cost at Rs.14 and Rs.80. With the Pack of Rs.14 Airtel subscriber can make all local calls to any Airtel mobile number at 30 paisa per minute for 30 days. The another Own Net Calling Pack of Rs.80 will provide cheapest own net callings wherein subscriber can make all local A2A calls just at 10 paisa per minute.The tariff validity will be 30 days from the date of recharge.

Ban on night traffic through Bandipur park to remain

BANGALORE: The Karnataka Forest Department, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts won a decisive round of battle before the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday when Keralas plea for lifting the ban on night traffic through the Bandipur National Park in Chamarajanagar district was rejected.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.S. Patil passed the order on a petition by the Kerala Government filed on August 14, 2009, and F.R. Fravesh and others seeking to lift the ban on night traffic on Muthanga-Gundlupet road.

While one of the roads passing through the park, National Highway 212 is from Mysore to Kalpetta via Sultan Bathery, the other, National Highway 67, is from Mysore to Gundlupet. With both roads being closed at night (from 9 p.m., to 6 a.m.), transporters had to choose alternative roads, Kerala said in its arguments.

Kerala cited the problems being faced by people living in and around Wayanad. The application, filed by advocate Suman, said Wayanad got its daily supply of vegetables from Gundlupet and adjoining areas in Karnataka. It said vegetables were generally transported at night. The ban had affected the supply of vegetables. It said people were now forced to take a longer route to reach their destinations. It urged the court to vacate the interim order granted by it on August 5, 2009, banning movement of vehicles through the park at night.

Kerala: IAS list stayed

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Division Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal in Kochi has stayed all the proceedings regarding the IAS conferment list prepared by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The interim order was issued on Tuesday in a petition filed by P N Premachandran, MD, Small Farmers Agri- Business Consortium, who was one among the short-listed candidates.

The Government of Kerala and the UPSC had almost finalised the list to confer IAS to M Girish Kumar, additional secretary, Finance and V Ratheesan, deputy development commissioner, DRDA, Palakkad. A file regarding this has been cleared by the Chief Minister. Premachandran, who was ranked fourth after the interview, approached the CAT challenging the entire selection procedure.

On Tuesday, a CAT Bench comprising Justice Thankappan and Justice George Joseph found that there was prima-facie evidence to prove the petitioner�s argument.

Premachandran�s cousel Sumathy Dhandapani argued that there had been manipulations in the selection procedure.

Girish, Ratheesan and K K Ramani, who is additional secretary-Home, were ranked one to three by gifting marks against norms, she argued.

Premachandran, by producing the documents sourced through an RTI petition, said that Ratheesan was given marks for good service entry and Ramani and Girish for new initiatives, though they were ineligible for the same. The CAT Bench observed that even if the list needed to be frozen for a year, they wanted a transparent procedure for deciding such important matters.

�In the light of the contention of the petitioner, we need to find out whether the allegations are true or not by perusing all the records, noted Justice Thankappan, Justice George Joseph.

Kerala may start sea plane service for tourists

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala may have a sea plane service to boost tourism if a study suggests that such a project is feasible, tourism minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Tuesday.

The proposed project will become a reality only if the feasibility study looks into areas of pollution and whether inland water transport and fishing will be affected by the service, he said.

The minister was replying to a calling attention motion moved by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) legislator V.N. Vasavan, who said that sea plane service were now run in Canada, the Maldives and the Philippines.

Let the feasibility report come, then a new company can be formed. After that the marketing can begin, he added.

Vasavan said that if sea planes were introduced, tourists can arrive in any major airport and fly to any district.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ban on night traffic through Bandipur park to remain

BANGALORE: The Karnataka Forest Department, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts won a decisive round of battle before the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday when Keralas plea for lifting the ban on night traffic through the Bandipur National Park in Chamarajanagar district was rejected.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.S. Patil passed the order on a petition by the Kerala Government filed on August 14, 2009, and F.R. Fravesh and others seeking to lift the ban on night traffic on Muthanga-Gundlupet road.

While one of the roads passing through the park, National Highway 212 is from Mysore to Kalpetta via Sultan Bathery, the other, National Highway 67, is from Mysore to Gundlupet. With both roads being closed at night (from 9 p.m., to 6 a.m.), transporters had to choose alternative roads, Kerala said in its arguments.

Sanction for mining sand from Idukki rivers



KATTAPPANA: The district administration has given sanction for mining 848 tonnes of sand per day from the sand-mining spots (kadavu) of rivers in the Vellathooval, Kodikkulam, Marayur, Konnathadi, Upputhara and Adimaly grama panchayats. The Kadavu Committees formed as per the Kerala Riverbank Protection and Control of Sand-mining Act will supervise sand mining.

The sand mined by recognised labourers in accordance with the conditions set by the tahsildar will be supplied to the needy.

Kadavus will be sanctioned in other grama panchayats after verifying the official data regarding the quantity of sand available and the demand in the area.

Year-long golden jubilee celebrations for Payyannur Fine Arts Society

KANNUR: The Payyannur Fine Arts Society (PFAS) will organise year-long programmes from May this year to celebrate its golden jubilee.

Various literary and cultural programmes would be conducted as part of the celebration, PFAS president U. Narayanan and secretary E. Ramachandran said.

Theatre competitions, dance programmes, literary gatherings, poetry recitation, folk arts festival and musical events would be held, according to them

Seminar on Parkinson\'s disease

KOCHI: The Parkinsons Society of India, an organisation for the welfare of those afflicted with Parkinsons Disease, will hold its 26 {+t} {+h} seminar and check-up camp here on March 27, says Divakar D. Deo, chairman.

Dewaswom Minister Kadannapally Ramachandran will open the seminar to be held at Ernakulam Town Hall. Dr. P. Wadia, an eminent neurologist from Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai, will be the key speaker. Patients and their relatives can register by calling 0484-2226903, 2224196.

FEFKA to keep off Thilakan

KOCHI: The Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) will not cooperate with actor Thilakan, if he does not apologise for his alleged remarks against the federation. Addressing a press meet here on Monday, Sibi Malayil, FEFKA chairman, said Mr. Thilakan had made baseless statements against the organisation. He had also refused to express regret for these remarks, Mr. Malayil said.

Rejecting reports that FEFKA had agreed to include workers affiliated to the MACTA Federation in the production work of the movie, �DAM 999, progressing in Alappuzha, Mr. Malayil said the FEFKA had never held any talks with the MACTA Federation regarding issues related to the production of the movie. He alleged the Federation was forcibly collecting money from the producer of the movie for not disrupting the shooting work in the name of labour issues.

Magic to the aid of Bharathapuzha

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Department of Forests and Magic Academy will jointly organise a special magic show on the banks of the Bharathapuzha near Ottappalam on March 13 to create environmental awareness. Titled �Nilackai�, it will be prelude to a series of shows to be held in the districts from August 1 to 14 in connection with the International Biodiversity Year.

Forest Minister Benoy Viswom and magician Gopinath Muthukad of the Academy told the media here on Tuesday that �Nilackai� would be based on the poem �Bhoomikkoru Charamageetham, written as an elegy for dying Earth by O.N.V. Kurup. It would draw attention to the dismal state of Bharathapuzha which once had plenty of water.

They said that shows would be held in August at two venues in each district

SBT celebrates women\'s day

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Womens Day celebrations were held at the head office of the State Bank of Travancore on Monday.

Inaugurating the function, A.K. Jaganathan, Managing Director, said that the bank had increased its advances to women entrepreneurs, which constituted 9.33 per cent of the total advances and came to Rs.3,286 crore. The benchmark fixed by the RBI was 5 per cent.

Project to widen highway stretch

Thiruvananthapuram: A high-level meeting convened by Public Works Minister P.J. Joseph here on Tuesday approved a Rs.650-crore project to widen the stretch of National Highway 47 from Karamana to Kaliyikkavila into a four-lane road.

Rejecting the proposal for a greenfield highway, George Mercier, V.J. Thankappan, R. Selvaraj and N. Sakthan, MLAs, argued that it would entail a huge expenditure on land acquisition.

They said widening the highway was a more feasible option.

The meeting decided to widen the road to 30.2 metres. The 39-km road will have a 1.5-metres-wide median at the centre and footpaths and cable ducts on either side.

�The meeting decided to construct 46 segregated bus bays on either side. As many as seven junctions along the stretch will be scientifically designed to regulate traffic flow, Mr. Mercier said.

The meeting also resolved to grant administrative sanction for the project within a week and to fast-track the land-acquisition process. �The land acquisition will be over in 18 months and the project is to be completed in two years,� Mr. Mercier said

Four priests to be consecrated as bishops

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Four priests of the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church will be consecrated as bishops at a ceremony at the Mar Ivanios College ground here on Saturday.

Mar Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop of the Church, will lead the rites. Vincent Kulappuravilai, Samuel Kattukallil, Sthephanos Thottathil and Antony Valiavilayil are the bishop candidates. After the consecration, the bishops will take on new names.

Mar Cleemis said at a press conference here on Tuesday that the Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Gregory III Laham, and the Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate at Antioch, Archbishop Denys Raboula Antoine Beylouni, would be among the senior prelates who would participate in the rites. The Patriarch would arrive in Kerala on Wednesday for a five-day visit

City student wins all-India essay contest

Meena Pradeep, a Class IX student of Delta Study, Fort Kochi, was among the regional winners of an all-India essay writing competition on the topic �My city, my history, conducted for students from Classes VI to IX by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage in collaboration with the Fox History Channel.

\'CPI-M agitation against Centre causing hardship to people\'

TPURAM: Opposition leader Oommen Chandy Tuesday alleged in the House that the five-day sit-in launched by CPI-M Monday in front of Central Government offices against the UPA Governments policies was causing hardship to common people.

Agitation against price rise of essential commodities has actually become a stir against people of the state.

Protestors were not allowing anybody to go inside Post Offices. In many places, roads have been blocked causing problems to people, he said taking up the issue as a submission.

Police personnel posted near the venue of agitations were helping the protesters instead of common people who came to Central Government offices for various purposes, he said.

Replying to the submission, State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said instructions have been given to police to see that office work was not disrupted by protesters.

However, Balakrishnan justified the agitation and said the stir has become a peoples movement and was part of nationwide agitation planned by the party.

Private Bus strike withdrawn

TPURAM: The private bus strike intended to be launched on March 11 has been withdrawn after talks between Transport Minister Jose Thettayil and the co-ordination committee of private bus owners.

A decision to formulate a regulatory commission, comprising four members including a representative of the government, to study the problems of bus owners was taken in the meeting.

The regulatory commission would hand over the report to the government detailing reasons whether the bus charge should be hiked or not.

More Sabari stores will be opened, says Minister Divakaran

TPURAM: Minister C Divakaran said in the Kerala Assembly that more Sabari stores would be opened in the State. He was replying to a questioned posed by K V Abdul Khader

Muthoot Group warms up to fresh IPL tender

TPURAM: Business conglomerate Muthoot Pappachen Group (MPG) of Kerala is planning to own a cricket team in the Indian Premier League

(IPL) after the leagues governing council relaxed conditions and invited bids to buy two new franchises.

MPG initially planned to own an IPL team but then decided against it because of the high financial involvement.

A top company official told IANS on condition of anonymity that the agents of film director Priyadarshan and actor Mohanlal had approached MPG to join the two to own an IPL team.

We were interested and the initial deal was that we would own two-thirds and the film duo would hold one-third and on that lines the capital was to be pumped in. But when we read the fine print, we decided that it was too expensive and backed out, said the Muthoot official.

MPG is one of the largest family-run business houses in the state with presence in areas such as banking, finance, hotels, resorts, real estate, automobile sales, power generation and IT Infrastructure.

Now with the conditions having been relaxed, we would be interested. We are now waiting for the details of the fresh tender. If it suits us, we will certainly be there to take part in the bid process and it would be a new joint venture company, added the MPG official.

The IPL, an arm of the BCCI, has decided to invite fresh tenders for two locations to own and operate teams from 2011 onwards.

One dies in Mookambika temple rush

UDUPI: Tragedy struck the grand finale of the Maharathotsava at the famous Kollur Mookambika temple on Tuesday evening. One person died and another suffered serious injuries when the wheel of the Ratha (Brahmaratha) ran over them during the massive rush at the temple entrance. Both devotees were from Kerala.

Police sources said Babu, 45, who died en route to hospital, is a library assistant in Madapalli College, Vadakara, Calicut district. Haridas, 45, who is seriously injured, hails from Mele Chovva of Kannur. The authorities are probing the lapses in security which led to the accident.

The Rathasanchalana and Ratharohana ceremonies were at 9 am after the rituals and special poojas held under the leadership of temple chief priest and Tantri Manjunath Adiga. In the evening, the tantri and other archakas conducted the pooja. The devotees then pulled the florally decorated Ratha till the Olaka Mantapa, a kilometre from the temple and returned. A large crowd of devotees witnessed the event. The Maharatthostsva began on March 2, 2009 and culminated on Tuesday with special offering and poojas to Goddess Mookambika. This is the first such accident during any rathotsava at this temple

29,646 women harassed after LDF came to power

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as 29,646 women, including children, have been harassed in the state after the LDF came to power in May 2006.

According to a written reply by Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan in the Assembly on Monday, those who became victims of harassment include 158 girls below the age of 10 and 644 girls between 10 and 15 years.

Around 13,879 females between the age of 15 and 29, 14,549 in the age of 30 to 65 and 389 above 65 years were victims of harassment. The victims also include 609 belonging to the SC/ST communities.

A total of 29,555 cases were registered by the police in connection with the incidents, of which the accused were held in 25,423 cases, the minister said in his reply to K Sivadasan Nair.

Kodiyeri also informed the House that 1,435 persons were murdered in the state during the period, 483 of whom were women and 44 owing to political reasons.

The maximum number of murders was reported from Palakkad (153).

DHRM workers accorded reception

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The DHRM activists, who have been granted bail by the High Court in the Varkala murder case, were accorded a reception here on Monday.

Hundreds of DHRM activists took part in the reception accorded to the eight DHRM activists in front of the Secretariat in the afternoon.

Those who released on bail alleged that they were tortured severely by the police while in custody.

The arrested activists had got admitted to the General Hospital here alleging torture after getting bail. However, they left the hospital on Monday without even collecting the discharge cards.

Sivadasan, a native of Varkala, was murdered and another person was hacked allegedly by the DHRM workers in the early hours of September 23 last year

Kerala may start sea plane service for tourists

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala may have a sea plane service to boost tourism if a study suggests that such a project is feasible, tourism minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Tuesday.

The proposed project will become a reality only if the feasibility study looks into areas of pollution and whether inland water transport and fishing will be affected by the service, he said.

The minister was replying to a calling attention motion moved by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) legislator V.N. Vasavan, who said that sea plane service were now run in Canada, the Maldives and the Philippines.

Let the feasibility report come, then a new company can be formed. After that the marketing can begin, he added.

Vasavan said that if sea planes were introduced, tourists can arrive in any major airport and fly to any district.

A giant step towards women�s empowerment: Manmohan

Describing the Womens Reservation Bill as a �giant step towards the empowerment of women, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said in the Rajya Sabha that the measure is not anti-minority or anti-Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes.

Mr. Singh also expressed �profound apology� to Chairman Hamid Ansari for disrespect shown to the Chair by members in the House over the past two days.

�On behalf of the Government I owe you a profound apology,� Mr. Singh said to Mr. Ansari while intervening in the debate over the landmark Constitution Amendment Bill that provides for 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

He also stressed the need to �reflect� how to ensure that such incidents do not recur and the House functions smoothly.

Seven members of the House, mostly from SP and RJD were suspended and had to be marshalled out for their unruly behaviour while opposing the Bill.

The Prime Minister maintained that the �near unanimity� between the Government and the opposition reached on the bill is a �living proof that the heart of the Indian democracy is sound and in right place.�

Mr. Singh also thanked leaders of the opposition parties for their support.

Referring to the concerns of members about minorities and OBCs, he said while minorities in general have not got an adequate share of the fruits of development, his government is committed to work sincerely for their uplift through several other measures.

Recognising that women of the country have faced �enormous difficulties� in terms of benefits of economic and social development, Mr. Singh hoped the passing of this �historical and path-breaking legislation� will prove a �giant step forward� for their empowerment and emancipation.

He said all kinds of discrimination faced by them in education, healthcare and other areas have to end if India has to realize its full potential.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dowry-free village website launched

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ``The protest against Womens Reservation Bill must be seen as a campaign against social progress,�� Chief Minister V.S. Achutanandan said here on Monday.

He speaking after inaugurating the website www.

dowryfreevillage.com, an initiative of the Nilambur grama panchayat against dowry.

He said even though Kerala boasted of having high social indicators, it had failed to root out social evils like dowry.

Lauding the Nilbumar grama panchayat and the Kerala Mahila Samakya Society (KMSS) for their initiatives to spread anti-dowry measures, he said: ``The decision to work against dowry in a place where it was prevalent should be appreciated.

Dowry is actually commercialising marriage,�� he said.

Nilambur panchayat president Aryadan Showkat said that a mass marriage ceremony was planned to be held by this month-end to propagate the message of dowry-free marriages.

KMSS, with the support of Nilambur panchayat, is organising a series of campaigns against dowry, child marriages and ostentatious marriages.

G. Karthikeyan, Aryadan Mohammed MLA, V. Sivankutty MLA, Supreme Court advocate Keerti Singh, Justice D. Sreedevi, KMSS state programme director Seema Bhasker and Lida Jacob were among those who spoke at the function.

IFFI-Keralam welcomes Budget allocation

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Federation of Film Societies of India - Keralam (IFFI-Keralam) has lauded the State Government especially, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac for allotting Rs 25 lakh for strengthening film societies and another Rs 25 lakh for regional film festivals.

In a statement here on Monday, IFFI-Keralam has said that the move should be a model for the whole country and that all the film lovers and members of the film industry has warmly welcomed the decision.

The statement also said that Government support had always been important in improving the quality of cinema using digital technology and holding of contemporary film festivals at regional levels and film appreciation camps.

Walkout over attack on estates

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Opposition UDF members staged a walkout in the Assembly on Monday accusing the government of adopting a casual attitude towards the attack on rubber plantations near Thiruvalla in which around 1,500 rubber trees were felled allegedly by CPI(M) activists.

The walkout came after the government rejected the Opposition demand for adjournment of the proceedings to discuss the attack.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said a special squad would investigate the attack. .

CBI sets 1-yr deadline to probe cases

CHENNAI: In a bid to restore some of the image it lost in cases like the Aarushi murder in Noida and the Sister Abhaya killing in Kerala, the CBI has set a one-year deadline to complete any probe. At a recent meeting of its law officers, branch heads and zonal heads in Delhi, the agency also decided to speed up procedures so that trials could begin in two years.

As the first step, it has been decided that all cases under investigation for more than a year will be disposed of by March 31. The meeting took stock of inordinate delays that drag important cases for long.

With regard to the probe into the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar, daughter of a dentist couple in Noida on May 16, 2008, the agency is yet to come up with conclusions. On January 5, it moved the court for a narco analysis of Aarushis parents.

I-League: Dempo Didn\'t Get Any Openings - Viva Kerala\'s A.M.Sreedharan

A win over Dempo SC would bring a smile on every coachs face and make him so proud that he will make boasting about it in almost every press conference. We have seen that in the past and there�s nothing wrong in it before you begin to think that we are passing a judgement here.

But Viva Kerala�s coach A.M.Sreedharan is his humble self even after the 1-0 victory over �the number one team as he described Dempo on the eve of the clash.

�We are the only team from southern India and that adds an extra bit of responsibility on us. We have to remember that our job is to survive in the league. There�s still a long way to go for us,� said Sreedharan.

Viva Kerala defence bottled up the likes of Ranti Martins, Sunil Chhetri and others and Sreedharan credited his backline for the victory, which is one of the highest points in Viva Kerala�s history

Kerala: AMMA goes soft on Thilakan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA), which had recently warned of decisive action against Thilakan, went soft on the thespian and gave him a space of another two weeks to respond to its notice. When the AMMA disciplinary committee met last time and suspended Thilakan, it had set March 8 as the deadline for Thilakan to come before it.

AMMAs executive committee did not even respond to Thilakan�s letter in which he had expressed his reservations about the disciplinary committee.

The letter was delivered to the AMMA office at Thycaud here by Thilakan�s daughter, Sonia. AMMA, instead of kicking up another verbal duel, decided to send Thilakan a new letter, one that perhaps reflects the association�s new stance.

��Thilakan is not a kind of actor who can be easily distanced from AMMA. So we are giving him more time to explain his actions,�� AMMA general secretary Mohanlal told reporters after the AMMA executive meeting held here on Monday

CBI sets 1-yr deadline to probe cases



CHENNAI: In a bid to restore some of the image it lost in cases like the Aarushi murder in Noida and the Sister Abhaya killing in Kerala, the CBI has set a one-year deadline to complete any probe. At a recent meeting of its law officers, branch heads and zonal heads in Delhi, the agency also decided to speed up procedures so that trials could begin in two years.

As the first step, it has been decided that all cases under investigation for more than a year will be disposed of by March 31. The meeting took stock of inordinate delays that drag important cases for long.

With regard to the probe into the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar, daughter of a dentist couple in Noida on May 16, 2008, the agency is yet to come up with conclusions. On January 5, it moved the court for a narco analysis of Aarushis parents

Congress, Muslim League broker deal

NEW DELHI: Papering over their differences over the lone Rajya Sabha seat that comes to the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the coming biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha from Kerala, the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) on Monday agreed on the candidature of Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

The stalemate was broken at a meeting between leaders of the two parties at the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The IUML wrested an assurance from the Congress that it would get the next Rajya Sabha vacancy that falls into the UDFs kitty.

As to whether there was a written agreement to this effect, IUML State general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty told The Hindu: ��We have a long-standing alliance with the Congress. We trust the Congress to keep its word; we do not need any written undertakings.

Viva Kerala beat Dempo 1-0 in I-League

KOZHIKODE: Nigerian Reuben Senyo scored the all important goal as Viva Kerala stunned table topper Dempo of Goa 1-0 in an I-League football championship match on Monday.

Desperate for an outright win, Viva Kerala, which has 15 points after 14 matches, staged a spirited all round display to beat Dempo, leading the table with 29 points after 14 games, to boost their spirits before another tough match against Churchill Brothers.

The vital breakthrough came in the 41st minute when their Nigerian import Senyo, who later adjudged man of the match, headed in a pass off substitute Nishad.

The second-half saw Viva Kerala totally outclassing Dempo but wasting umpteen chances and putting up an iron defence to thwart their rivals attack.

Seminars, rallies mark women\'s day

MALAPPURAM: International Womens Day was observed by various organisations in the district on Monday.

About 1,000 women attended a meeting organised by the Central Field Publicity Directorate in association with the Puzhakkattiri grama panchayat. Inaugurating the celebrations, Family Court Judge K.V. Mohanan said women should try to solve on their own without external help. �You should not wait for others. You can solve your own problems, he said.

A seminar was organised on �Equality in rights, opportunities, and progress. �Goodbye dowry, a play was also staged.

Beena Sunny, president of Puzhakkattiri grama panchayat, presided over the function.

Sujata Varma, lawyer; C. Udayakumar, Field Publicity Assistant; and V.P. Ayyappan, panchayat vice-president; were among those who addressed the gathering.

The girl students of G.M.U.P. School, Chemmankadavu, took out a cycle rally to spread the message of equality.

School Headmistress M. Fousiya flagged off the rally. The Citizens Forum of Thanikkal welcomed the rally and accorded a reception to the students.

KSEB plans three hydel projects



Kozhikode: Three hydro-electric projects that would conform to the stringent norms for environmental preservation laid down by the United Nations are in the pipeline. Officials of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) are keen on ensuring that these projects meet the standards of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change. KSEB authorities are looking for a validation agency of the three small hydro-electric pilot projects being taken up for implementation under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) prescribed by United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) in its Kyoto protocol.

SMEC International of Australia has already been appointed to render advisory services for registration of the projects under the CDM. The validation by an independent agency accredited by the UNFCCC is mandatory for registration of the projects under the CDM.

The pilot projects are in Chathankottunada, near Vadakara; Vilangad; and Kakkayam. The Chathankottunada-II project near Vadakara is proposed to have an installed capacity of 6 MW and an annual generation potential of 14.76 million units. The Vilangad small hydro-electric project will have an installed capacity of 7.5 MW to generate 22.63 million units annually.

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