Saturday, March 27, 2010

Padmapriya: Super cowgirl of South!

n the few Tamil films she has done, Padmapriya has proved she is great eye-candy and an even better actress! Her biggest asset is her readiness to try different characters, irrespective of the lack of glamour or otherwise. While she had no qualms in the glam role in Pattiyal, she was equally happy to don the burkha in Pokkisham. Now the dusky beauty is back with her cowboy flick Irumbukottai Murattu Singham (Super Cowboy in Telugu).

Kerala takes to UK streets to promote tourism

NEW DELHI: After the innovative marketing strategy of wrapping up the Rajdhani Express to New Delhi with scintillating mystical images of Gods on Country, Kerala Tourism has launched a similar initiative abroad.

The cabs of Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham in the United Kingdom are now plying the streets with images providing a feel of the nature and culture of the state. The initiative is a part of the state Tourism Department�s strategy to woo tourists from the UK, one of the biggest foreign markets for Kerala tourism.

�The year 2009 saw close to 7 lakh foreign tourists to the state, 90 percent of them from Europe, and the UK is our biggest market in Europe, State Tourism Director M Sivasankar told

Disaster management action plan soon: Minister

Thrissur: The State government will soon come out with an action plan for disaster management, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran has said.

He was addressing a State-level workshop for officials of district administrations and heads of various departments held here on Saturday with the objective of coordinating district disaster management plans.

The State-level preparedness plan, which is at the final stage of preparation, will be discussed at a meeting of the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority to be held in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday, the Minister said.

�Pre-disaster planning is a vital part of preparedness. A disaster management plan focusing on hazard, risk, vulnerability and resource assessment improves the efficacy of rescue operations, he said.

IMezhathur celebrates its master physician

Thrissur: Mezhathur has a special place in Keralas socio-cultural history. Greats such as social critic V.T. Bhattathiripad and Ashtavaidyan Vaidyamadham Valia Narayanan Namboodiri, an authority in Ayurveda, hailed from this village located between Koottanad and Thrithala on the Thrissur-Pattambi route.

On Friday, the quaint village was all decked up to celebrate the 80th birthday of another famous son � Ashtavaidyan Vaidyamadham Cheriya Narayanan Namboodiri, the chief physician of Mezhathur Vaidyamadham. Valia Narayanan Namboodiri had bequeathed his skills and knowledge to this grandson of his.

Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan and State Health Minister P. K. Sreemathy are expected to take part in the three-day celebrations.

Increase in milk price proposed

PATHANAMTHITTA: The Thiruvananthapuram Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union (TRCMPU) has urged the government to raise the milk price by Rs.3 a litre with a view to reviving dairy farming.

Addressing presspersons here on Saturday, union chairman Kallada Ramesh and managing director Baby Joseph said the hike was essential to retain the farmers in the dairy sector.

Mr. Ramesh said 83 per cent of the sales revenue of Milma went to the farmers. A sum of Rs.4 crore would be given as incentive to various cooperative societies.

The union had drawn up an action plan to boost milk production in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha by adopting 5,000 cows on a yearly basis. The scheme envisaged adoption of 25,000 cows in the next five years.

He also stressed the need to launch new schemes to increase milk production and procurement.

Sand prices will come down soon, says Isaac

PALAKKAD: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said here on Saturday that sand prices were expected to come down within a month as sand mined from the Malampuzha, Chulliyar and other reservoirs would hit the markets in a couple of weeks.

He was addressing an all-party meeting called by the government to discuss issues relating to the removal of sand from the Malampuzha and Chulliyar Dams. The Minister said sand from the reservoirs would be auctioned every fortnight. In the next two months, about 2 lakh cubic metres of sand would reach the market from Malampuzha. The price would be fixed as per market conditions, he said.

Kondattam\' project from April

PALAKKAD: The first cluster of the �Kondattam production and marketing project, jointly implemented by the district panchayat and Kudumbasree Mission, will be inaugurated next month.

There will be 20 clusters in the Rs.2.18-crore project to manufacture 22 �Kondattam (dried vegetable fries) varieties. The project, to be marketed under the brand name Sunfresh, intends to manufacture 715.5 tonnes of the product annually. The varieties were selected on the basis of a survey done among the public.

�Terrorism can be fought only with people\'s support\'

PALAKKAD: Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan has said that terrorism and militancy can be fought only with the cooperation of the people.

Inaugurating the seminar on �National security and role of people, organised by the Community Police project of the Town South police station and the Deya Charitable Trust at Town Hall here on Saturday, Mr. Sankaranarayanan said: �Terrorism is a world phenomenon affecting people of every village, state and country. Innocent people are killed everywhere by terrorists and militant groups.

�This is the biggest challenge the world now faces and everybody should be concerned about it. Even if all forces in our command think that they can fight terrorism and militancy, it is not possible without the support and cooperation of the people,� he said

Varsity Senate meet disrupted

MALAPPURAM: A meeting of the Calicut University Senate held here on Saturday was disrupted over the continuation of T.K. Narayanan as acting Registrar.

Vice-Chancellor Anwar Jahan Zuberi, who chaired the meeting, had to adjourn the meeting when members owing allegiance to the United Democratic Front (UDF) stalled the proceedings over the issue.

The problem started when P. Mohanan sought a point of order seeking the removal of Mr. Narayanan from his post as Sanskrit professor and as the acting Registrar of the university in the light of a recent notification of the Chancellor to this effect following a High Court verdict.

More M.Tech. courses promised

Kozhikode: More M. Tech. courses will be sanctioned in government engineering colleges, Education Minister M.A. Baby has said.

He was inaugurating two buildings for the Electronics and Chemical Engineering Departments at the Government Engineering College at West Hill here on Saturday.

The Minister said the government would take steps to improve research facilities in its engineering college. Mr. Baby also released an e-journal at the function.

The West Hill college started functioning in 1999 in the hostel building of the government polytechnic there. Work on a ladies hostel and civil block would begin soon as funds had been made available from the Malabar package this financial year.

Oil seed factory

KALPETTA: Oil Palm India Ltd, will set up a palm oil seed processing factory at a cost of Rs.5 crore at Mananthavadi in the district in next financial year, V.B, Binu, chairman, has said. Addressing presspersons at Mananthavadi on Saturday, Mr. Binu said that six acres of land for the proposed factory had been identified for the factory.

Train traffic along Kottayam route restored

KOCHI: Passenger and express trains began to ply along the doubled Ernakulam-Mulanthuruthy route on Saturday, after the Railways completed the doubling works on the 18-km route. Goods trains will ply later. Since some overhead-line work was pending at Tripunithura, some south-bound trains from Ernakulam through Kottayam were routed through Alappuzha. But north-bound trains through Kottayam plied as usual. A few trains were delayed. Normal traffic through the Kottayam route will resume on Sunday. The delay in completing doubling works had thrown traffic along the route had gone in the last two days.

Kochi joins Earth Hour observance

KOCHI: With the dangers of climate change looming large, individuals and organisations came together on a unique platform, Earth Hour, for the larger cause of saving the planet, on Saturday evening. The observance of the �hour demonstrated the will of the people to reduce consumption of power in a bid to rejuvenate the planet.

Southern districts get welcome downpour

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Temperatures over most parts of Kerala fell appreciably on Saturday following overnight rains in many parts of the State.

Bringing welcome relief from the unusually hot weather of the early part of this summer, very heavy rainfall, measuring 18 cm on the gauge, occurred in Thiruvananthapuram during the 24 hours ending at 8.30 a.m.

Heavy rainfall was recorded at Kayamkulam (12 cm), Cherthala (8 cm) and Haripad (8 cm) in Alappuzha district and Varkala (7 cm) in Thiruvananthapuram district, according to the Meteorology Centre here.

The evening downpour on Friday was fairly widespread and substantial in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam, with many stations recording between 5 cm and 2 cm of rainfall

Raktha Rakshass\' to revisit capital

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kalanilayam Drama Vision, a theatre enterprise launched in 1963 at the Putharikandam grounds in the city, will stage its popular play �Raktha Rakshass on Monday. Kalanilayam is coming back to Thiruvananthapuram after an interval of 31 years.

A venture of Kalanilayam Krishnan Nair, the venture had changed the concept of theatre performances by introducing huge, expansive stage, luxurious sets and exhilarating light effects.

Five children rescued

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as five children working at a restaurant in the city were rescued in a lightning inspection conducted by Labour Department officials here on Saturday.

The five boys hail from West Bengal. The raid was conducted by a team led by District Enforcement Labour Officer C.K. Sreekumar as per the directions of Labour Commissioner C. Raghu. The boys were handed over to Juvenile Home authorities, an official statement released here said. It said action would be taken against the restaurant owner.

CFL distribution

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Distribution of CFL lamps in the Pettah electrical station limits under the �Budget Lamp project of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) will be held at the corporation community hall at Palkulangara on Sunday.

Survey counts 169 bird species

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, the Great Indian Pied Hornbill, the Rock Bush Quail, the Red-winged Crested Cuckoo and the Malabar Parakeet were among the 169 species of birds spotted in a three-day survey conducted in the Shenduruni Wildlife Sanctuary by the Thiruvananthapuram-based nature lovers group Warblers and Waders along with the Forest Department.

The survey was conducted from March 12 to 14. Direct sightings of birds and identification of calls were the methods used to finalise the data. �Peak observation of birds was done during 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Last year, 165 species were recorded at Shenduruni.

KTDC tops tourism corporations in country

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) has become the number one tourism corporation in the country, both in terms of the number of hotels at tourism centres and growth rate.

He described the 14 Tamarind Easy Hotels for middle class customers as a big achievement.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Three quizzed over crude bomb in flight



BANGALORE/TPURAM: Three former employees of the Kingfisher airlines have been questioned in connection with the detection of an explosive device on a flight at Thiruvananthapuram March 21, police said Friday.

Three people who were former employees of the airline were asked to appear before the Kerala police and they did. Right now we dont have anyone in custody but investigations are going on, Inspector General of Police A. Hemachandran told IANS.

The three, all from Kerala, were taken into custody at Bangalore International Airport Thursday when they were to take a flight to Dubai. They were then taken to Kerala and then let off, he said.

Bangalore north-east division Deputy Commissioner of Police Basavaraj Malagatti told IANS that the three told police that they were working with Kingfisher airlines but had left the company as they got jobs abroad.

The explosive device was found in the cargo section of the Kingfisher plane after it landed in Thiruvananthapuram from Bangalore. The flight had 27 passengers and four crew members.

After the passengers and the crew deplaned, a routine security check of the aircraft led to the detection of the device wrapped in school question paper and Malayalam newspaper.

Elephant runs amok

Thrissur: An elephant brought to the festival at the Ala Sankara Narayana Temple, near Kodungalloor, ran amok on Friday, causing tense moments.

One person was injured in the accident. The elephant Cherayi Vinayakan turned violent at 7 p.m. while it was preparing for the parade. The traffic on the National Highway was disrupted for more than three hours

Shankaranarayanan to open seminar

PALAKKAD: Governor of Maharashtra K. Shankaranarayanan will inaugurate a seminar on �National security and role of people organised jointly by the Kerala Police Officers Association and Daya Charitable Trust at Town Hall here on Saturday at 11 a.m.

The seminar will be presided over by K.K. Divakaran, MLA.

The key note address will be delivered by Deputy Speaker Jose Baby.

The subject will be presented by Alexander Jacob, Additional Director General of Police.

�Kondattam\' project from April

PALAKKAD: The first cluster of the �Kondattam production and marketing project, jointly implemented by the district panchayat and Kudumbasree Mission, will be inaugurated next month.

There will be 20 clusters in the Rs.2.18-crore project to manufacture 22 �Kondattam (dried vegetable fries) varieties. The project, to be marketed under the brand name Sunfresh, intends to manufacture 715.5 tonnes of the product annually. The varieties were selected on the basis of a survey done among the public. The machinery required for vegetable cutting, packing, branding and drying have been installed. The buildings were provided by grama panchayats.

Chess coaching for students

Kozhikode: K.R.M. Chess Academy, Chalappuram, is conducting a month-long vacation chess coaching for children from April 5.

Fide- rated national-level chess player K.R. Madhusoodhan will be conducting the classes.

Those interested may register their names with the academy before March 30. Ph: 9387110498, 9349155869

Milk bandh in Wayanad

KOZHIKODE: Milk societies in Wayanad have decided to observe a �milk bandh on Monday demanding action to resolve the problems faced by milk producers in the district.

Representatives of the Primary Milk Societies Association of Wayanad demanded to increase milk procurement price to Rs.25 and to give 50 percent subsidy for cattlefeed since high input costs and low returns had made dairying non-remunerative.

University employees plan march

Kozhikode: Members of various employees unions, including the Calicut University Teachers Association and Calicut University Staff Organisation, will take out a march to the venue of the Senate meeting of the University of Calicut on the campus at Thenhipalam on Saturday.

Representatives of employees organisations at a press conference here on Friday said the march was planned demanding the removal of T.K. Narayanan from his post as Sanskrit professor and as the acting Registrar of the university in the light of a recent notification of the Chancellor to this effect following a High Court verdict. General secretary of the Calicut University Staff Organisation (CUSO) U.V. Rajagopal said what was going on at the university in the case of Mr. Narayanans appointment was �completely illegal and unheard of. �The Chancellor and the High Court were convinced of the blatant anomaly involved in the appointment of Mr. Narayanan,� he said.

Calicut University Teachers Association secretary K.V. Lazar, member R. Surendran and CUSO president P. Premarajan among others were present

Violence in Thodupuzha

KATTAPPANA: Idukki Collector Ashok Kumar Singh clamped Section 144 on Thodupuzha on Friday after a section of the people who took out a protest march to a local college turned violent, destroying shops in the town.

The march was taken out in protest against an alleged inflammatory reference to a community in the question paper for the second year B.Com. internal examination held in the college two days ago.

The protesters conver- ged on the campus and threw stones at the college building even as a large number of policemen were camping there.

There were allegations that there was only a thin presence of the police in the town when the protestors attacked shops in the town.

Woman\'s body found in well

KANNUR: The body of a woman was found in an open well on the premises of her house at Peringome, near Payyannur, on Friday.

The police identified the deceased as Thankamma, 50, who had been living alone in the house located behind the Central Reserve Police Force Training Camp situated at Peringome. The police said the house was found locked from outside.

The badly decomposed body was found floating in the well by local people at around noon when they searched the area to find the source of a foul smell.

The police also said that a few blood stains were found near the well.

Real life role for Mohanlal

KANNUR: Actor Mohanlal, in his new avatar as a soldier, appeared every bit a battle-ready jawan as he underwent weapons training at the 122 Infantry Battalion unit here on Friday.

Lt. Col. (Hon.) Mohanlal mingled with the soldiers and officers of the Territorial Army unit here as he joined them for a two-day training programme that began at 6 a.m. on Friday. Wearing camouflage uniform, Lt. Col. Mohanlal was given training in the use of a family of infantry arms belonging to the Indian Small Arms System.

Battalion Commanding Officer Col. Davidson Kolath, Lt. Col. Karan Bhagat, Major Muneesh Bharadwaj and Subedar Major H. Vijayan were present when Lt. Col. Mohanlal was given training in the use of assault rifle, light and medium machine gun, among others. He was also given training in the use of 81-mm mortar, signal radio communication, day-time and night-time firing.

Sanitation drive in Wayanad

KALPETTA: A comprehensive pre-monsoon sanitation drive as part of implementing the total sanitation project will begin in the district on Saturday. Collector T. Bhaskaran will inaugurate the programme on the civil station premises at 8.30 a.m.

The programme is being organised by the Health Department in association with government departments and NGOs in the district to combat infectious diseases such as chikungunya, malaria and dengue fever. All government offices, educational institutions, hospitals and other institutions will be cleaned and Saturdays will be observed as dry day.

Matsyafed\'s ice plant opened

KOCHI: Steps should be taken to exploit the export potential of tuna resources available in our seas, said S. Sarma, Minister for Fisheries, here on Friday.

He was speaking after inaugurating the diversification programme of Matsyafed ice and freezing plant at Kochangadi near here.

The cooperative sector can support efforts to promote deep sea fishing for increasing the tuna catch, he said

Track doubling: trains cancelled, rerouted

KOCHI: All passenger trains except one on the Ernakulam-Kottayam route were cancelled and 22 pairs of express trains diverted through Alappuzha on Friday because of the final phase of track doubling works on the 18-km Ernakulam-Mulanthuruthy route.

This follows Thursday nights chaotic situation in the Ernakulam Junction railway station and at Ponnurunni here when trains had to be detained for long hours following uncertainty over the doubling works getting over.

Technical and cultural festival at college

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A three-day technical and cultural festival �AD-10 is being held at the Musaliar College of Engineering and Technology, Pathanamthitta.

It was inaugurated by film star Bala. Various departments of the college have organised exhibitions. The cynosure of the exhibition is a section in space research

Award for best farm

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has instituted an award by name �Haritha Keerthi award for the best farm under the Agriculture Department. Factors like the functioning of the farm, crop care, production of seeds and planting materials, utilisation of land, productivity, model gardens, efficiency of officers and workers, their knowledge in farm-related matters, the cooperation of the farm in implementing the departments schemes and the farms relationship with the farmers in the vicinity, will be taken

into consideration

Train services cancelled, rescheduled

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: All trains going from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam direction via Kottayam will run on its normal route on Saturday.

However, all trains from Ernakulam to Thiruvananthapuram direction via Kottayam will be diverted to run via Alappuzha up to 5 p.m. on Saturday in connection with the restoration of down line.

Train number 6303 Ernakulam-Thiruvananthapuram Vanchinad Express and train number 6301 Shoranur-Thiruvananthapuram Venad Express will run via Kottayam.

Train number 341/346 Ernakulam-Kottayam passenger trains have been fully cancelled on March 27 while train number 343/344 Ernakulam-Kayamkulam passenger trains are partially cancelled between Ernakulam and Kottayam. This train will run between Kottayam and Kayamkulam.

Temples to be greened under Devaranyam scheme

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A high-level meeting, attended by Forest Minister Benoy Viswom and Devaswom Minister Kadannapally Ramachandran, has decided to implement the Haritha Keralam � Devaranyam scheme in 6,000 temples under the Travancore, Kochi, Malabar, Guruvayur and Koodalmanikyam devaswoms. The scheme involves the planting of saplings in the compounds of, and the paths to, temples.

Interest-free loans for farmers

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government is planning to provide interest-free loan to vegetable cultivators, Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has said.

While replying to questions in the Assembly on Friday, Mr. Ratnakaran said interest-free loan was now being given for paddy cultivation. This would be extended for vegetable cultivation too. A commodity market network with a corpus of Rs.10 crore would be formed to ensure the price stability of various crops, including pepper, ginger, coffee, cocoa and vanilla.

State may let PSC recruit varsity staff

: Education Minister M.A. Baby has said the government is ready to consider favourably the demand that appointment of administrative staff in all affiliating universities in the State should be left to the Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC).

Responding to a calling attention motion from M. Ummer (IUML) in the Assembly on Friday, the Education Minister said the government was awaiting the report of the Anantha Krishnan Committee on revision of university statutes to take a decision in the matter.

Survey counts 169 bird species

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, the Great Indian Pied Hornbill, the Rock Bush Quail, the Red-winged Crested Cuckoo and the Malabar Parakeet were among the 169 species of birds spotted in a three-day survey conducted in the Shenduruni Wildlife Sanctuary by the Thiruvananthapuram-based nature lovers group Warblers and Waders along with the Forest Department.

The survey was conducted from March 12 to 14. Direct sightings of birds and identification of calls were the methods used to finalise the data. �Peak observation of birds was done during 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Last year, 165 species were recorded at Shenduruni.

According to C. Susanth, a group member, significant sightings included those of the Great Black Woodpecker, the Broad-billed Roller, the Blue-bearded Bee-eater, the Red winged Crested Cuckoo, the Indian Black Crested Baza, the Lesser Fishing Eagle, the Malay Bittern, the Open bill Stork and the Black-naped Oriole.

Noel Builders - Pioneering green housing in Kerala

Noels latest project Greenature is the first residential project in Kerala and nineteenth project of its kind in India to be pre-certified in Gold Rating by IGBC. Green building uses less energy, water and natural resources, creates less waste, is built with little impact on the land and is healthier for the people living in it.

Through Greenature Noel addresses the national priorities like water conservation, waste management, energy conservation and an eco friendly atmosphere.

Green homes encourage use of water in a self sustainable manner through reducing, recycling and reusing strategies. Greenature is designed in such a way that health and wellbeing of occupants gets the top priority

The latest IT smart space in Kerala

The building boasts a range of energy-efficient features that help save power and water. T. NANDAKUMAR says IT/ITES companies have shown interest to take up space there.

It is billed the latest smart space in Keralas information technology (IT) sector. The Athulya complex nearing completion on the Infopark campus in Kochi offers a blend of intelligent workspaces, state-of-the-art infrastructure, support facilities and lifestyle amenities, designed to create a business environment for high-technology companies

Japanese official studies investment potential of State

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A four-day visit of the State by Ayoko Kondo, Adviser - Economic Affairs, Consulate-General of Japan, Chennai, to study various aspects relating to investment opportunities in the State concluded on Friday.

The key areas of her study were the investment potential of the State, industrial development, government initiatives in terms of policy measures to promote industries and the foreign investment flow to the State. Ms. Kondo held discussions with T. Balakrishnan, Additional Chief Secretary (Industries); Alkesh Sharma, Managing Director, KSIDC; and senior officials

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Expert defends Plachimada report



TPURAM: Ecologist S. Faizi, who was a member of the high-power committee on Plachimada, said here yesterday that the committees report was built on robust data, meticulously gathered from numerous research studies conducted in the area by different agencies and scholars at various points of time. Taking objection to the contention of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages that the report was based on an �unproven assumption that the company had caused environmental damage in Plachimada, Dr. Faizi said in a statement that the voluminous data established the depletion of groundwater and its pollution, besides extensive heavy metal pollution of the soil.

Minor balst at police HQ



TPURAM: A minor explosion at the office of bomb squad situated at the police headquarters building yesterday created a scare. According to sources, about two grams of potassium chlorate that was kept for training purpose exploded owing to the rising temperature. The bomb squad�s office is on the sixth-floor of the headquarters building .There was no major damges.The fire was put out using the fire extinguisher.

Bail for Bineesh Kodiyeri



TPURAM: Judicial First Class Magistrate here yesterday garanted bail to Home Minister Kodiyeri Bal Krishnan�s son Bineesh Kodiyeri in two assault cases in which he is accused. The court granted Bineesh bail in two cases which took place in 2000 while he was a student of Mar Ivanios College here. The cases relate to assaulting two persons following political rivalry . Assistant Public Prosecutor Nagesh Kumar had earlier filed a withdrawal petition to dismiss the cases citing the incidents took place when complaints and the accused where students and there were presently no rivalry between them.

Inter-locking tiles for pavements on SA Road

KOCHI: The Sahodaran Ayyappan road would be free of trenching works for at least five years. A proposal of the Kochi Corporation to lay inter-locking tiles on the pavements of the road to avoid trenching was cleared at a meeting of the State-level Empowered Committee for Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission projects held at Thiruvananthapuram yesterday The proposal was made as no cable ducts could be constructed along the road for carrying pipelines and cables of various service providers including the Kerala Water Authority and the Kerala State Electricity Board. The civic body could not find additional funds required for constructing the duct along the road. As the road is being constructed with a five-year maintenance contract, trenching would not be permitted. The inter-locking tiles can be easily removed and re-laid for laying the cables and pipelines. Tiles would be laid along the pavement at a distance of seven metres from the central median of the road on both flanks, Mercy Williams, Kochi Mayor, said.

High Court seeks details of quarries



KOCHI: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday orally directed the State government to file a statement regarding details of licensed and unlicensed quarries functioning near Phantom Rock and the Edakkal cave in Wayanad district. The Bench comprising Chief Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice P.R. Raman also directed the government to state about the actions taken against unlicensed quarries, if any. The directive came on a writ petition filed by Dharmaraj, an environment activist in Wayanad.According to the petitioner, the unbridled granite quarrying in the region would affect the Edakkal cave and the Phantom Rock. As many as 154 quarries were functioning in the district. Of these, only 20 had licences. The remaining quarries were unauthorized ones The heavy blasting in the quarries posed a threat to the cave and the Phantom Rock. It would also causedamage to the biodiversity of the region. In fact, these areas were part of the Nilgiri biosphere. The petitioner

�IT can leverage Ayurveda\'



KOCHI: S. Gopalakrishnan, deputy chairman, CII Southern region and managing director, Infosys Technologies Limited, said IT can be leveraged in Ayurveda. Addressing the inaugural session of the three-day Global Ayurveda Summit here, he said modern technology needed to be incorporated in such a way as to help integrate with the health care systems of the rest of the world. Renaissance of traditional medicine was happening. Rediscovering Ayurveda would make an impact globally, he said.

Hotelier moves High Court



KOCHI: The Kerala High Court yesterday adjourned to March 25 the hearing on a writ petition filed against the Kozhikode District Collectors order directing a hotelier to close down shop following the detection of a hidden mobile phone with camera placed in a womens toilet. In the petition, K.T. Abdul Gafoor, managing partner of the hotel, said the hotel remained closed since March 12, 2010. The Collector asked him not to reopen the hotel until further orders. The petitioner claimed that it was the hotelier who had informed the police of the incident. The Collector and the City Police Commissioner had been approached seeking to allow them to reopen the hotel. The petitioner sought a directive to allow the hotel to function.

Management plan for wildlife sanctuary ready



KOZHIKODE: The Chief Conservator of Forests (Northern Region) has forwarded the management plan for the Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary to the Chief Wildlife Warden for final approval.The management plan is a comprehensive document detailing every aspect of the proposed sanctuary, including its history, flora, fauna, current status, threats like forest fires, etc. Based on the plan, the Union government will provide annual funds for running the sanctuary. A team of experts who had been studying the regions flora, fauna and water resources was included in the plan drafting and it was submitted for public review during a workshop at Mathottam on November 12, 2009. The views of the public and local bodies were ascertained and incorporated.Results of the preliminary studies gave a big boost to hastening the announcement of the sanctuary. The study revealed at least 680 species of flowering plants, including 226 species endemic to the Western Ghats, 41 species of mammals, including six Western Ghats endemic, 179 birds, including 10 Western Ghats endemic, 36 reptile species with 12 Western Ghats endemic, 38 amphibians with 26 Western Ghats endemic and 52 fishes with eight Western Ghats endemic

Teacher suspended



KOZHIKODE:: A high school teacher has been suspended from service by the District Education Officer (DEO) on the charge of taking pictures of girl students on his mobile phone camera during the SSLC examinations at the Chorode Government Higher Secondary School, near Vadakara, here.Abdul Nazar, 35, teacher at the Kadameri RAC Higher Secondary School, who was deputed for SSLC examination duty at the Chorode school, was accused of taking pictures of the girls during the examinations last week

One killed, 3 hurt in accident



KOZHIKODE: One person was killed and three were injured when a bus and a mini-lorry collided at Pookad, near the Chemancherry Registrar Office, on NH-17 on Wednesday morning.The deceased was identified as Rajesh, 35, hailing from Tamil Nadu. The bus was bound for Vadakara from Kozhikode and the mini-lorry was coming to Kozhikode from Koyilandy.The condition of the driver of the mini-lorry, Monichan, 35, hailing from Alappuzha, is said to be critical. The other injured are Velayudhan, 57, of Atholi, and Prasad, 20, of Ariyangad, Koilandy. The injured have been admitted to medical college hospital here.

College teachers to get new UGC scale



TPURAM: College teachers in Kerala would new UGC scales with retrospective effect from January 2006, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said Thursday.

The decision would put an additional burden of Rs 400 crore on the state government, he told reporters here after a cabinet meeting.

The arrears from January 2006 and 2010 would be paid to them once the 80 per cent grant from the central government was made available, he said. The teachers would be given the new salary from April this year, he said.

Thazhathangadi Tragedy: Driver remanded to 14 days� judicial custody

KOTTAYAM: The driver of the private bus which plunged into a river at Thazhathangadi here on two days back, killing 11 persons, was remanded to 14 days judicial custody by a local court here Thursday.

The driver, who was arrested Wednesday, was shifted to the sub-jail here.

Following the mishap, the government had ordered a probe by Transport Commissioner (Central range) P K Stephen and directed him to submit his report within a week.

The driver has alleged that the steering system of the bus had developed a technical snag. However, a preliminary report after examination of the vehicle found that the brakes and steering system were functioning properly.

Meanwhile, the bodies of 11 victims were handed over to the next of kin Wednesday, after completing legal and medical formalities.

CBI conducts raid in T�puram Airport

TPURAM: CBI Thursday conducted a surprise raid at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport after receiving complaints that smuggling through the airport was on increase, CBI sources said.

A 15 member CBI team carried out the raid early Thursday morning during the arrival and departure of International flights, sources said.

The luggage of some passengers was searched, they said.

However, CBI officials declined to divulge details.

Youth wanted for posting fake pix of CPI-M\'s leader house held

TPURAM: A man wanted by the Cyber Crime Cell here for posting a picture of a palatial home on the internet, stating it was owned by CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was arrested at Chennai airport Thursday.

According to Cyber Crime Cell of the state police, Shan Shamsuddin (23) was detained by Emigration authorities at Chennai airport Thursday morning while he was about to board a flight to Qatar, where he was working.

Police said he is the eighth accused in the case and that a look-out notice had been issued by Kerala police as he had been absconding since March 16 after coming home from the Gulf

A circle inspector of Kerala police left for Chennai on receiving information and arrested him. He would be produced before in a court here today, they said.

The case was registered in November 2009 on the basis of a complaint by Vijayan that the posting of the fake picture in was meant to tarnish his image.

On investigation, it was found that the picture which was posted on the internet was the house of an NRI in Kerala.

Firoz produced in court, sent to Viyur jail

KOCHI: Shammy Firoz, one of the main accused in the Kozhikode twin blasts cases, was Thursday produced before the CBI special court here by National Investigation Agency.

The CBI court judge, S Vijaykumar, sent him to viyur jail.

Firoz had earlier been remanded to 15 days judicial custody and allowed him to NIA custody for three days.

The accused also filed a petition seeking to make him an approver in the case. The petition will come up before the court on Mar 30.

The NIA had arrested Firoz when he arrived at the Kochi Airport last week from Abu Dhabi.

Govt to form State Youth Commission

TPURAM: The state government proposes to form a State Youth Commission to protect the youths rights in the state.

Law, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister M Vijaya Kumar said this in the state Assembly Thursday in reply to a question. He said the State Youth Commission would be based on the National Youth Commission. The Commission would be formed with judicial powers, he said, adding the government would bring in legislation in respect of the State Youth Commissions statutory powers

Five held with tiger skins in Palakkad

PALAKKAD: Officials of the forest department seized tiger skins and took into custody five persons in Palakkad. Those taken into custody have been identified as Sivaraman, Anil Kumar, Sujith, Vinu and Thomas.

The case of the mysterious minister

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union Minister Shashi Tharoors involvement in the Kochi IPL team has raised eyebrows, and a number of questions.

Tharoor initially tried to distance himself from the Rendezvous consortium on the day it won the bid for the Kochi IPL team, but now he seems to be finalising things if his words are any pointer.

Tharoor said in Kochi that he was only a mentor or adviser to this consortium.

But the very next day, at a private function in Thiruvananthapuram, he said that the team was not just for Kochi but for the entire state and matches would be held in Thiruvananthapuram also. He went to the extent of saying that matches would be played in the to-be-built stadium in Kariavattom

CPM meet explores chance of forging secular front

NEW DELHI: CPM politburos two-day meeting began on Thursday with the review of current political situation and the likelihood of forging a secular alternative in which parties with socialist background can play a pivotal role.

The meeting, also to review the ongoing rectification campaign, will decide the venue of partys extended central committee meeting to be held in August and who all to be invited for it. The extended CC is taking place in lieu of next years party congress that has been postponed to 2012 due to crucial assembly election in West Bengal and Kerala next year.

Poor Muslims enjoy quotas in four states

NEW DELHI: While the SC order on Muslim quotas will open doors for many poor deserving Muslims in AP, reservation for backward Muslims in government jobs has long existed in Kerala, Bihar and Karnataka, and is also in force in Tamil Nadu. And while West Bengal added 10% quota for backward Muslims, Uttar Pradesh, the state with the largest Muslim population in the country, has no such quota.

SFI wins university union elections

MALAPPURAM: Students Federation of India (SFI) candidates won all the seats in the Calicut University Campus Department Students Union (DSU) elections, held on Thursday.

Awards distribution

Kozhikode: The State and district-level awards for the best small and medium level entrepreneurs instituted by the Industry and Commerce departments for 2007-08 and 2008-09 will be distributed in Kozhikode on Saturday.

Industry Minister Elamaram Karim will distribute the awards during a public function at 3.30 p.m. at Calicut Tower at Mavoor Raod here.

MG University to set up biomedical research centre

KOTTAYAM: The Mahatma Gandhi University will take the lead in setting up an inter-university, inter-disciplinary biomedical research centre on the School of Medical Education campus at Thalappady near Puthuppaly.

The decision was taken after a brainstorming session organised by the university to chalk out the detailed project for the proposed super specialty hospital project being implemented on the Thalappady campus.

12 lakh CFLs given away

KOLLAM: The Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) distribution scheme launched by Chief Minster V.S. Achuthanandan on March 15 in the southern region of the Kerala State Electricity Board is receiving huge patronage from KSEB domestic category consumers.

The southern region comprises the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam. So far, over 12 lakh CFLs have been distributed in the districts through the scheme

Elephant deaths in PTR: steps needed to trace violent tusker

KATTAPPANA: The death of two female elephants in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) within two weeks allegedly after being attacked by of a wild tusker in musth has raised concern among conservationists here.

Fourteen elephants, including a calf, had died of wounds caused allegedly by the attack of a lone tusker in the reserve in the past three years. Last year, nine female elephants and a calf died following attack by the tusker. In 2008, three female elephants died in a similar manner.

The Forest Department officials and experts said that all deaths were caused following attack by a violent tusker, which turns violent during the summer season. Minister for Forest Benoy Viswom had also directed the Forest Department to take immediate action to rein in the wild tusker. A forest guard and two watchers were put on duty for tracing the tusker and it was finally spotted.

Four injured in clash

KANNUR: Four people, including a woman, were injured in clashes between members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) at Poyilil near Taliparamba here on Thursday.

The trouble broke out on Wednesday night when a flag pole of the IUML and a bus shelter erected by CPI(M) workers were destroyed by rival party workers.

Actor at ease in officer robes

Kannur: Actor Mohanlal looked comfortable in his Army uniform as he was received as a Commissioned Officer at the station of the 122 Infantry Battalion here on Thursday to undergo his post-commission training. It was a different experience for the officers and jawans of the battalion, the only Territorial Army (TA) unit in the State, to welcome the superstar as one of them on his reaching the TA station here.

The actor, for his part, was true to his status as a Commissioned Officer in the battalion with the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He looked impressive in his olive green attire as he was taken in an open jeep from the entrance of the battalion station here to the barracks.

Ayurveda expo showcases new products

KOCHI: The Ayurveda product expo at the Global Ayurveda Summit 2010 is a revelation of the leaps and bounds that the Ayurveda products have made from their earlier forms. Packaged in attractive packs are various products by Ayurveda hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, NGOs, spas and resorts, among others.

There are tablets and capsules of Ayurvedic medicines, which are easy to consume. The big names in Ayurveda, the Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala, Oushadhi, the Ayurveda medicine maker under the government sector, have on display various products for diabetic patients, or those with higher cholesterol levels. Different grades of products are now available to suit the lifestyles of people

Distress alert beacon for fishermen

Kochi: S. Ramaratnam, Deputy Director (Avionics), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), has said on Thursday that a technology spin-off by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will soon come to the aid of fishermen in distress.

�By merging radio frequency and signal processing technology, a search and rescue beacon was developed at VSSC and its technology transferred to Keltron. It will deliver a few thousands of this on order from the State Fisheries Ministry. In all, the Ministry has ordered 7,000 units for distribution to fishermen. [During accidents, the beacon goes off to water and transmits a distress signal through satellite to the shore-based disaster management team. Its built-in GPS helps locate the accident site], said Mr. Ramaratnam after inaugurating a national conference on �Emerging Trends in RF and Signal Processing organised by Federal Institute of Science and Technology (FISAT), Angamaly.

Touch-screen facility at varsity

Thiruvananthapuram: It is an ordeal for students visiting the Senate House campus of Kerala University to gather information on courses and examinations. They have to stand in long queues, jostle with others and strain hard to catch the attention of the official manning the counter.

But now all that will be a thing of the past. Thanks to a major modernisation of the public relations section, getting information on university courses and exams is as simple as a touch.

The building housing the public relations section on the campus has been equipped with a touch screen facility for easy access to information without hassles. Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran inaugurated the new facility at a function on Thursday.

The university has installed two touch screen kiosks. The kiosks and the wireless link have been provided free by the Kerala State IT Mission with technical support by Keltron. The screens can be used to get information on examination dates, results, notifications, , approved colleges and courses and fees.

50 industrial centres planned

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government propdses to set up 50 multi-storey industrial centres in the State as part of its efforts to promote small-scale industrial units in the State, Industries Minister Elamaram Karim told the Assembly on Thursday.

Replying to a calling attention motion moved by Saju Paul (CPI-M), the Industries Minister said the first of these multi-storey industrial centres would come up at the Edayar industrial belt in Ernakulam soon. The second would come up in Thrissur, he added.

Food processing

Responding to another calling attention motion moved by Adoor Prakash (Congress), Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran said the State government had submitted a proposal to the Centre to set up a Rs. 50-crore food processing centre at the Food Research Institute at Konni in Pathanamthitta district.

Train schedules to be revised

PALAKKAD: No. 2601 Chennai Central-Mangalore super-fast mail will leave Chennai Central at 8.25 p.m., instead of the present 8 p.m., with effect from June 1. The arrival times at the stations on the route will thus change.

Subsequently, No. 2257 Yeshwantpur�Kochuveli Garib Rath Express will arrive 10 minutes later than the present time between the Salem and Ernakulam Town stations. The schedule of No. 6527 Yeshwantpur-Kannur Express will also change. The new arrival times are: Palakkad 4.20 a.m.; Shoranur 5.10 a.m; Tirur 6.05 a.m.; Kozhikode 7 a.m.; Vadakara 7.50 a.m.; Thalassery 8.20 a.m.; and Kannur 9.20 a.m.



Leopard gives up, finally

TIRUR: A leopard that refused to walk into the trap set up by the forest authorities for over a week at the Koottayi coast, near here, finally gave itself up in the early hours of Thursday, bringing cheers to the local people and the forest officers who tried their best to capture the animal alive.

The leopard was later taken to Wayanad and released into the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary.

The big cat had hidden in the gaps of the Koottayi breakwaters, making it difficult for the forest authorities to reach it. The animal, which used to come out at night, had surprisingly got accustomed to the coastal habitat.

Divisional Forest Officer M. Sreedharan Nair, who led the operations to capture the leopard, said the animal had arrived at Koottayi at least two months ago. �It had become used to the surroundings. It never attacked any animal or human beings in the area, despite the presence of large crowds of people and vessels, Mr. Nair said.

India should look beyond Kerala

Kochi, Mar 25 (PTI) India will have to look beyond Kerala and find advantages of traditional systems of medicine in other states as well, Union minister of state for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said today.

Kerala is a superb place for wellness tourism and the Centre wants to replicate this model in other states, he said in a video message at ongoing the Global Ayurveda summit here.

Himachal Pradesh with its mountains, yoga retreats and its holiday packages has received good response, he said, adding Gujarat and Karnataka are also attempting this

\'Law and order has collapsed in Kerala\'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Congress led UDF Opposition in Kerala Assembly today alleged the law and order situation in the state has collapsed and the people were in the grip of fear.

Seeking leave for an adjournment motion on the recent brutal murder of a 41-year old house-wife by a gang of robbers in Palakkad, C P Muhammed (Cong) said the number of murders for gain and political killings in the state have increased after CPI-M led LDF government came to power in 2006. People in the state are in a grip of fear, he said.

Replying on behalf of Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Law Minister M Vijayakumar assured the members of the House that police would nab the persons responsible for the murder of Sheela, wife of a businessman at Puthoor soon.

Police have set up two special squads to probe the case and Thrissur Range IG was supervising the investigation

HDIL\'s subsi gets Govt nod to develop IT SEZ in Kerala

MUMBAI: Construction firm HDIL today said its subsidiary Bluestar Realtors Private has received the governments approval for setting up a sector

specific special economic zone for information technology (IT) in Kerala.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the company has received permission from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (SEZ section) on March 10 for setting up a sector specific zone at Kalamassery, Kochi, Kerala with an area of 28.32 hectares, HDIL said in filing to the National Stock Exchange.

Amitabh Bachchan reacts sharply to Kerala LDF govt backtracking from invite

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Reacting sharply to the LDF government in Kerala developing a cold feet after initially inviting him to become the states brand ambassador, Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan has said it is a petty act of cheap political convenience.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Woman electrocuted

Thrissur: A woman was electrocuted at Valapad on Wednesday after she came into contact with a snapped power line.

The deceased was identified as Sindhu, 30, wife of Babu of Kargil Colony in Valapad. The incident occurred around 6.15 a.m. Quoting doctors, the police said that she died on the spot.

Earth removed from converted paddy fields

Thrissur: The government on Wednesday started removing earth from converted agricultural land at Chandippuli in Koorkkenchery village. The district administration had issued orders to remove earth following a controversy over the conversion of about 26 acres of paddy fields at Chandippuli. The issue was raised by V.S. Sunil Kumar, MLA, and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had reportedly intervened

A team, led by Revenue Divisional Officer C.V. Sajan and Thrissur tahsildar K. Muralidharan, implemented the Collectors orders. Three excavators and seven vehicles are being used. �About 100 loads of earth excavated so far will be used for government works. Earth to be removed on Thursday will be given to the Public Works Department, Kerala Land Development Corporation, Nirmithy Kendra and panchayats. The request of the Railways for earth is also under consideration, Mr. Sajan said.

Management plan for wildlife sanctuary ready

Kozhikode: The Chief Conservator of Forests (Northern Region) has forwarded the management plan for the Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary to the Chief Wildlife Warden for final approval.

The management plan is a comprehensive document detailing every aspect of the proposed sanctuary, including its history, flora, fauna, current status, threats like forest fires, etc. Based on the plan, the Union government will provide annual funds for running the sanctuary. A team of experts who had been studying the regions flora, fauna and water resources was included in the plan drafting and it was submitted for public review during a workshop at Mathottam on November 12, 2009. The views of the public and local bodies were ascertained and incorpor

Search in Meenachil called off

KOTTAYAM: The search for bodies of the victims of Tuesdays bus accident in the Meenachil river at Thazhathangadi was called off on Wednesday evening.

According to district authorities, the decision to call off the search was made after the divers muddied the bottom of the river at the accident site using propellers to ascertain whether any more victims were caught in the muddy depths of the river. The experiment produced no results. In addition to divers from the Indian Navy, a team from a private agency, Inter Dive, participated in the search operations.

Remand prisoner escapes from jail

KOLLAM: An accused under judicial custody escaped from the District Jail here on Wednesday morning. Raju, 34, was arrested by the Kollam East Police in January on charges of robbery and remanded in the jail.

Jail authorities had put him on kitchen duty. Early on Wednesday, he went to fetch firewood from a shed near the kitchen and escaped. Jail authorities believe him to have scaled the wall and escaped.

Man who posed as CBI officer held

KOLLAM: A man who posed himself as an officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was nabbed by the Punalur police on Wednesday morning.

The accused was identified as Rajesh Chandran of Pathanapuram, residing near Kottarakara. He was seen in Punalur town since the last one month getting himself introduced to rich businessmen by flaunting a CBI identity card and sometimes whipping out a pistol too. The identity card with photo showed his name as Sudesh Sankar Iyer, CBI officer in the rank of Superintendent of Police.

He kept telling the businessmen that his mission was to find ideal candidates from Kerala to join the CBI. But he should be paid for getting the candidates appointed. The demand was Rs.2.5 lakh for each appointment

Drive to promote paddy cultivation

KATTAPPANA: The Agriculture Department is on a major drive to promote paddy cultivation in fallow lands, with special focus on upland (modan land) cultivation in the district.

Principal Agriculture Officer K.K. Chandran told The Hindu that 400 hectares of fallow land would be brought under cultivation by the next season during May-September.

He said that Rs.112 lakh would be spent in the district under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for bringing more areas under paddy cultivation.

He said that the major problem faced by paddy farmers was water shortage..

Pariyaram college to offer free treatment

KANNUR: The Pariyaram Medical College will offer free medical treatment to 1,000 patients with pre-existing ailments hailing from poor families in Kasaragod, Kannur and Wayanad districts.

T.K. Govindan, chairman of the cooperative society controlling the medical college, said at a press conference here on Wednesday that the patients from poor families in the three districts would be offered free in-patient treatment at the medical college hospital as part of its scheme launched on the occasion of the third anniversary of the election of the present director board of the society.

Those who wanted to avail of the free treatment could register their names till April 3. Dates of treatment would be announced later.

Agitators block NHAI officials at Ambalapuzha

ALAPPUZHA: Tension prevailed at Valanjavazhi near Ambalapuzha here on Wednesday after police resorted to a mild lathi charge to disperse protestors who were agitating against the acquisition of land for the expansion of National Highway � 47.

The agitation, which has been gaining momentum over the last couple of months, on Wednesday saw a joint action council taking out a protest march from Ambalapuzha against the National Highway Authority of Indias attempts to acquire land for the expansion of NH 47.

National meet at FISAT

Kochi: A three-day national conference on �emerging trends in radio frequency and signal processing will begin at Federal Institute of Science and Technology (FISAT), Angamaly, on Thursday.

S. Ramaratnam, Deputy Director (Avionics) at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, will inaugurate the conference at 9.30 a.m.

He will also declare open a project exhibition, Agnitio 10.

Back-up policy to meet cyber disaster

Thiruvananthapuram: The State government has announced a back-up policy for applications and databases being created as part of its e-governance programme to prevent loss of electronic data in the event of equipment failure or physical and cyber disaster. Taking this initiative one step forward, it has notified all computer resources in government offices, government undertakings and boards as protected systems under the Information Technology Act, 2000. In addition, it has issued another notification authorising certain officials to access the protected system.

Energy centre waits for kick-start

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A proposal to set up a Centre for Excellence in New and Renewable Energy and Conservation and a residential model polytechnic, mainly for SC/ST students, has been left in limbo due to lack of inter-departmental coordination and bureaucratic laxity.

With a total outlay of Rs.30 crore, the project was to be set up at Kuzhalmannam in Palakkad.

The centre was to proactively work with local self-government institutions mainly in the realms of decentralised power generation. This was projected to offer practical solutions to crisis in power sector.

Making elephant training painless

Thiruvananthapuram: Conventional methods of training captive elephants involve pain and punishment and often border on brutality, leading to bouts of violence by the animal, with disastrous effect. An alternative system of training that makes the animal respond to application and release of pressure on particular points of its body was highlighted at a workshop organised by the Forest Department, in association with the Wildlife Trust of India, here on Wednesday. Explaining the Positive Learning Method, Australian animal trainer Andrew McLean said it was based on capturing the elephants motivations and rewarding correct responses. Science, he said, offered a toolbox that could be used to teach elephants in a faster and safer way than conventional methods

40 govt schools to get biogas plants

KOCHI: To make Ernakulam district a �clean district the District Sanitary Mission (DSM) in association district panchayat is planning to build biogas plants at 40 government schools in the district. The project cost of Rs 48 lakh will be shared by the two equally

Kerala to move SC

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Government on Tuesday decided to move the Supreme Court against a Karnataka High Court verdict rejecting the states plea to lift the ban on night travel through the Bandipur National Park.

The State Government is also planning to ask the Centre to intervene in the issue. A team led by Ch i e f M i n i s t e r V. S .Achuthanandan will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other ministers concerned in New Delhi on April 11 or April 12. This was decided at an allparty meeting convened by the Chief Minister here on Tuesday.

Karnataka had banned night travel on the road after many animals were run over by vehicles

Whither entrance exam reforms?



The Kerala Department of Higher Education is preparing a draft Bill to give a legislative spine to the proposals made by the R.V.G. Menon Committee.

In 2009, when it became clear to educationists, parents and students alike that the engineering / medical entrance examinations of 2010 would not witness any makeover, the question that popped up in the minds of many people was �what about 2011? Would the entrance reforms planned by the State government be implemented then?

Though no one�the Education Department, the members of the R.V.G. Menon committee which drafted the reforms and Mr. Menon himself�is willing to hazard a guess on this issue, the answer to this question can perhaps be discerned from among ongoing developments on this front.

The Department of Higher Education is busy these days crafting a draft Bill to be presented in the Kerala Assembly. The idea is to give a legislative spine to the proposed reforms in the entrance examinations. Sources in the government told The Hindu-EducationPlus that once the Bill is finalised by the Education Department and is vetted by the Law Department it would be placed before the State cabinet�possibly during the second half of April.

Kerala bank opens PAN services for expatriates

Kochi: Extending a slew of services to depositors, including NRIs, South Indian Bank (SIB) has tied up UTI Technology Services to provide permanent account number (PAN) to depositors who will be charged 20 percent tax deduction at source on interest in the absence of a PAN. As per the stipulations of the Federal Government, an outright deduction of 20 percent tax would be levied on interest in respect of deposits starting April 1. However, depositors will be levied only 10 percent tax deduction at source if their transactions bear PAN.

SIB managing director V A Joseph said the bank was recently permitted to enter into a PAN service facility with the UTI Technology Services Ltd, which would operationalize the PAN allotment to applicants from Wednesday.

The SIB, Keralas fastest growing private sector bank, will launch the PAN Service Agency (PSA) at 25 selected branches. The NRI division of the bank would be the nodal office for PSA services to all NRI clients.



Kerala house adjourned after tribute to accident victims

The Kerala assembly was adjourned Wednesday after legislators paid tribute to the 11 people killed in a bus accident near Kottayam the day before.

Speaker K. Radhakrishnan moved a resolution, which was immediately accepted by the treasury and ruling benches and the house adjourned without going into any other business.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan announced that the government would decide soon on the compensation to the victims and also those injured in the accident Tuesday afternoon.

About 40 people were on their way from Shertallai to Kottayam in the bus when it hit an electric post and fell into the Meenachil river, just three kilometres from Kottayam.

Most of the passengers were tourists, who had boarded the bus from the tourist town of Kumarakom, witnesses said

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

House wife killed and gold looted by gang

PALAKKAD: A 47 year old housewife Sheela was brutally murdered by an unidentified gang Tuesday and gold looted from her house. Sheela is the wife of eminent industrialist of the city Jayakrishnan. Sheelas mother Karthyayani (70) was hacked and was admitted to Kovai Medical Center Coimbatore. Her condition is serious.

The body of Sheela had a deep wound in the neck and also a scar possibly after she had been strangled. Both the ears of Sheela have been cut apart. The police believe that the miscreants cut her ears in order to grab her earrings.

Both the bodies of Sheela and Karthyayani were first seen by Jayakrishnan who came to the house in the noon to have meals.

The murder and theft are believed to have happened in between 9 in the morning and 1.30 in the noon.

There was no one else in the house except Sheela and her mother

Kerala�s water resource development schemes lack

KOZHIKODE: A delegation of Hindi-speaking farmers from Haryana sat around a table with their Malayali counterparts on the World Water Day on Monday at the Centre for Water Resource Development and Management (CWRDM) here, curiously quizzing each other about the water resource development and management in their respective regions.

Both the delegations interacted with the assistance of the officials of Command Area Development Authority (CADA) and the farmers from the North were virtually awe-struck to learn about the dilapidated condition of irrigation systems in Kerala for want of funds.

The farmers from Haryana had toured the rural areas of the state for about six days prior to their interaction and had visited various irrigation projects such as Banasurasagar and Kuttiyadi apart from exploring the different methods of farming done in Kerala.

On Monday, the Haryana farmers spelled out their voluminous profiteering in agriculture using the scare water resource in their state, which was 10 times less than the average water productivity of nearly 3,000 ML annually in Kerala.

The spellbound Malayali Water Users Association (WUA) members admitted that they were unable to raise a part of the funding required to develop the water systems in their region. It was learnt that the WUAs here were reluctant to collect just 10 per cent of funding needed to upgrade the water systems in their locality that would, then, be assisted by the remaining 90 per cent apart from technical support from the government.

It is this reluctancy that has devastated the numerous irrigation projects in the state. All they have is to register by depositing Rs 100 and raising the 10 per cent amount.

Eleven killed after bus plunges into river in Kottayam

KOTTAYAM: Eleven passengers, including four women and a child, have been killed after a private bus with about 40 persons on board plunged into Meenachil River in Thazhathangadi, Kottayam Tuesday afternoon.

Local residents rushed to the spot and launched rescue operations within minutes of the accident and are understood to have rescued 17 persons.

Only the identity of fours persons has been ascertained. They have been identified as Babu Damodar, native of Kawdiar in the capital city, bus conductor Kochumon and Divya, native of Cherthala and a student of S N College. One person died during rescue operations and he has been identified as Sathish, native of Kummanam. The death toll is expected to rise again.

The District Collector said the help of Naval divers from Kochi has been sought for the rescue work.

Eyewitnesses say the bus was crowded with more than 40 passengers and most of them were students who had boarded it from the tourist destination of Kumarakom.

Jyothilekshmi, a college student who was saved, said all the passengers were sitting at the time of the incident.

The bus suddenly hit a post and fell into the river. As soon as the bus fell into the water, it sank and some of us somehow came to the top of the bus and swam. Then we were picked up by locals, said Jyothilekshmi.

Full-fledged rescue machinery including a crane which reached the scene is trying to lift the fully submerged bus.

Most of the passengers in the bus that was running in the Kottayam-Cherthala route were students who were on their way to see the �pakal pooram in Thirunakkara.

Although the reason for the accident is not immediately known, according to unconfirmed reports, the bus plunged into the river after hitting an electric post.

Road blockade against traffic ban

KALPETTA: Hundreds of people, including women, from Kozhikode and Wayanad districts participated in an eight-hour road blockade organised under the aegis of an all-party action council on the National Highway 212 at Muthanga in the district on Tuesday in protest against the ruling of the Karnataka High Court upholding the ban on night traffic in the Sulthan Bathery-Gundlepet stretch.

Inaugurating the blockade, C.K. Saseendran, CPI(M) district secretary, called for Centres intervention to revoke the ban. Mr. Saseendran said though the three States involved were opposed to the ban, the Karnataka High Court had imposed the ban.

Addressing the gathering, P.V. Gangadharan, president, Malabar Chamber of Commerce, and coordinator of the council, said considering the seriousness of the issue, the Attorney General should appear before the Supreme Court to solve the issue as it would adversely affect the public in three southern States.

The night traffic ban had further increased the prices of essential commodities, especially vegetables and fruits, he said. Mr. Gangadharan also called for public support on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi (KVVES) district committee, on Tuesday, decided to intensify the agitation against the night traffic ban.

As part of the agitation, all vegetable and fruit procurement from Karnataka for the State would be discontinued from April 15, K.K. Vasudevan, president of the Samithi district committee, told The Hindu after a meeting. He said the procurement of essential commodities would also be discontinued.

Ayurveda conference from today

Kochi: Ways to increase Indias share in the 100 billion U.S dollars herbal medicine market and integrating Ayurveda with Health Tourism besides wooing large private investment will be discussed at a three-day global Ayurveda Summit beginning here on Wednesday.

Chinas corners 85 per cent of the world herbal medicine market and India should aim for at least 25 per cent share, R. Sathish, Director and Head CII Kerala, and Dr. Joy Verghese T., Chief Executive officer, Confederation for Ayurvedic Renaissance (CAReKeralam) told reporters here.

Indias export turnover in herbal medicine is presently Rs. 4,200 crore. The summit is being jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry, in association with the Kerala Government and Department of AYUSH, Government of India. Dr Sajikumar, Managing Director Dhathri Ayurveda Pvt ltd, stressed the need for global recognition for Ayurveda

Navy carries out rescue operations

Kochi: The Southern Naval Command on Tuesday deployed a Seaking Mk. 42 C helicopter and two Chetak helicopters � one from the Navy and the other from the Coast Guard� with divers on board to carry out search and rescue operations at Thazhathangadi, near Kottayam, where a private bus fell into the Meenachal river.

The Seaking, launched at 3.50 p.m., less than half-an-hour after the Navy was called for help, carried five divers and an officer, Lieutenant Commander A.S. Patankar, on board. Although high-tension wires prevented its landing near the site of accident, the divers were airdropped. The chopper later landed at the Nehru Stadium from where their rescue gear was transported to the site by the police.

The naval Chetak, with two divers on board, was mainly used for coordination between the headquarters and the diving team. The Coast Guard chopper was despatched as stand-by. In the meantime, six divers led by Commander V.K. Chaudhary, left for the site by road at 4.20 p.m.

Athirappilly project: KSEB plea hearing on March 30

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday posted for March 30 the hearing on a writ petition filed by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) challenging the order of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests revoking the environment clearance given for the proposed Athirappilly hydroelectric project.

Justice T.R. Ramachandran Nair adjourned the writ petition to enable Assistant Solicitor-General T.P.M. Ibrahim Khan to get instructions from the Central government .

In its petition, the KSEB said the decision of the Union Ministry was arbitrary. The environmental clearance for the project was granted by the MoEF on July 18, 2007, after considering several studies done by various expert bodies, including the Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley and Hydro Electric projects under the MoEF.

The KSEB pointed out that the High Court was yet to dispose of a writ petition challenging the environment clearance granted earlier. In fact, the MoEF had never raised any objection to the proposed project at any point of time. The clearance was revoked when the matter was under the active consideration of the High Court. The decision to revoke the clearance was taken without any basis or material. Now a show cause notice was issued to the KSEB to make it appear that the principles of natural justice was complied with.

It was understood that the MoEF had ordered revocation of the clearance on the basis of a letter received from an individual. The clearance was given after following the statutory procedures.

The Ministry had taken the decision in a hasty manner. In fact, the Union Minister could not interfere with the decision of a statutory authority. The attempts of the Ministry were to interfere with the administration of law, the petitioner alleged.

The Ministry had no power to review its own order. Even if it was assumed that it had the power, such a review could be undertaken only after reporting the matter to the High Court.

The letter by the Union Ministry to the State government did not mention who made the complaint against the project or what were the allegations against the proposed project.

Plan to revive Akkulam Lake

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has drawn up a Rs.30-crore project to revive Akkulam Lake and the Akkulam tourist village.

Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Sports M. Vijayakumar said here on Monday that lake would be dredged and cleared of waste as part of the plan. Protective walls would be constructed along the banks with footpaths and lighting. The Kerala Maritime Development Corporation, Travancore Cements Limited and the Inland Navigation Corporation would undertake the work which would be inaugurated on Wednesday.

In addition, the Harbour Engineering Department had tendered work for constructing two breakwaters, at a cost of Rs.12 crore, to prevent formation of sandbar at the Veli estuary after monsoon. Environment clearance is awaited for the project. The Irrigation Department is undertaking a Rs.8-crore project to clean up Amayizhanchan Thodu which drains into the lake.

Mr. Premachandran said no environmental impact study had been conducted regarding the construction of the breakwaters.

Three in custody for placing cracker in plane

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Thiruvananthapuram police have taken three persons into custody in connection with the recovery of a firecracker from the Kingfisher Airlines aircraft that arrived here from Bangalore on Sunday.

The suspects are a loader, hailing from Nedumangad, engaged by the agency handling the ATR-72 aircraft, a scrap dealer from Palode and another person from Palode who had a licence to sell firecrackers. However, the police were not ready to confirm that they were detained.

Sources said the police had been questioning them since Monday night to unearth the mystery. The loader was picked up by the investigation team based on clues received from the airport. Sources said already over 70 persons had been questioned.

The needle of suspicion is on the loaders at the airport here as they are the only ones, along with designated airline staff, who have access to the aircraft in the operational area. The Bangalore police have informed their counterparts here that the chances of keeping the firecracker in the rear cargo hold area of the aircraft at the airport there are fewer as the aircraft was not cleaned on arrival there.

HC directive to Centre on Athirapally project

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court Tuesday directed the Union Government to inform its views regarding the issue of clearance to the Athirapally Hydel project of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).

The direction was issued by Justice C R Ramachandran Nair on a petition by KSEB company secretary against the steps of the Central Government to revoke environmental clearance to the hydel project.

According to the petitioner, the action by the Centre was arbitrary, not based on reasons and in a fair manner as the environment clearance was given to the project on July 18, 2007 after studies by experts.

The Ministry of Environment and Forest and expert appraisal committee for river valley and Hydro electric project did not raise objections against the clearance granted, the petitioner pointed out.

Kerala police arrest man on suspicion of planting crude bomb

BANGALORE: The Kerala police have identified a person, suspected of planting a crude bomb in Kingfisher flight IT-4731 at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. Unconfirmed reports said that the man had been detained.

Meanwhile, the Kerala police also the found that the newspaper in which the bomb was wrapped was circulated in Nedumangad, about 18 km from the state capital. A senior police officer in Kerala said that the bomb was probably placed before passengers had boarded the flight on Saturday night. It was learnt that an interrogation of the cleaning staff had not yielded any results.

The flight, which reached the Bengaluru International Airport on Saturday night, returned to Thiruvananthapuram the next morning with 27 passengers and four crew members.

A Kerala police team, headed by Thiruvananthapuram city police commissioner MR Ajith Kumar had, on Sunday, interrogated more than 20 people who were on duty at the Bangalore airport.

The investigating team also grilled airline officials before returning. The Bangalore police also questioned those on duty at the cargo section and security check points of the airport.

�We suspect the involvement of outsourced employees (caterers and loaders) as nobody else � with the exception of the cabin crew � has access to the galley at the rear of the aircraft, an airport official said. Ruling out the possibility of passengers or other airport workers being involved, he said, �Nobody else is allowed to enter that area of the aircraft. We are only looking at people who have access to that section.�

Meanwhile, deputy commissioner of police (north-east) Basavaraj Y Malagatti said that the fact that the bomb was wrapped in the Thiruvananthapuram edition of a Malayalam newspaper, dated March 17, 2010, and a Kerala SSLC question paper suggested that the crude bomb was placed into the aircraft at Thiruvananthapuram.

Malagatti said that the city police were waiting for their Kerala counterparts to complete their part of the investigation. �We have formed five teams to probe the case from the Bangalore side. We will be sharing information with our Kerala counterparts,� he said.

Eleven killed after bus plunges into river in Kottayam

KOTTAYAM: Eleven passengers, including four women and a child, have been killed after a private bus with about 40 persons on board plunged into Meenachil River in Thazhathangadi, Kottayam Tuesday afternoon.

Local residents rushed to the spot and launched rescue operations within minutes of the accident and are understood to have rescued 17 persons.

Only the identity of fours persons has been ascertained. They have been identified as Babu Damodar, native of Kawdiar in the capital city, bus conductor Kochumon and Divya, native of Cherthala and a student of S N College. One person died during rescue operations and he has been identified as Sathish, native of Kummanam. The death toll is expected to rise again.

The District Collector said the help of Naval divers from Kochi has been sought for the rescue work.

Eyewitnesses say the bus was crowded with more than 40 passengers and most of them were students who had boarded it from the tourist destination of Kumarakom.

Jyothilekshmi, a college student who was saved, said all the passengers were sitting at the time of the incident.

The bus suddenly hit a post and fell into the river. As soon as the bus fell into the water, it sank and some of us somehow came to the top of the bus and swam. Then we were picked up by locals, said Jyothilekshmi.

Full-fledged rescue machinery including a crane which reached the scene is trying to lift the fully submerged bus.

Most of the passengers in the bus that was running in the Kottayam-Cherthala route were students who were on their way to see the �pakal pooram in Thirunakkara.

Although the reason for the accident is not immediately known, according to unconfirmed reports, the bus plunged into the river after hitting an electric post.

Police to tighten monitoring

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In view of the security and media reports regarding the chances of explosives being illegally diverted for terrorist and fundamentalist activities, the police are tightening the monitoring mechanism of explosives.

A detailed verification of the persons to whom explosives are sold as well as the purpose for which the explosives were purchased have to be examined by a police officer, says a directive issued by DGP Jacob Punnoose the other day.

�Express had recently reported that there were serious loopholes in the present monitoring mechanism on the use of explosives.

The police officials have been directed to conduct raids on the residential or other premises of an explosive licensee if it is suspected that there was a tendency to store the explosive in such places.

An eight-point guideline on carrying out checking for explosives was also issued.

The police officers have also been directed to recommend cancellation of licence in case of serious violation of the norms.

Satellite rocket with indigenous engine to be launched in April

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: India will join an elite club of five nations in April when a rocket carrying a satellite blasts off using an indigenous

cryogenic engine, an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) official said.

So far we had been using engines from Russia, the official attached to ISROs Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) here told IANS.

An indigenous cryogenic engine will power the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for the first time, he said. The US, France, Japan, Russia and China have developed their own engines.

The satellite launch vehicle to be used next week, GSLV-D3, will carry the countrys advanced communication satellite GSAT-4. The vehicles assembly is in final stages and the date of launch at Sriharikota will be known in a week, the VSSC official said on condition of anonymity.

According to ISRO, the 49-metre-tall GSLV-D3 rocket will have a lift-off weight of 414 tonnes. It will propel GSAT-4 into orbit about 36,000 km above the earth.

The VSSC official said arrangements were also on for the launch of another satellite vehicle, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C-15), in the first week of May.

It will carry an Algerian satellite, two Canadian satellites and a satellite from a college in Karnataka.

Crude awakening for Thiruvananthapuram

Bangalore: A high-level committee headed by a deputy commissioner of police, Jolly Cherian, will probe the low-intensity country-made bomb found in Kingfisher flight IT-4731 that landed at the Trivandrum International Airport from Bangalore on Sunday morning.

The Government of Kerala ordered security agencies to conduct a thorough probe into the lapses at the airport.

�It is a serious security lapse. We have directed the security agencies to look into this, Keralas law minister M Vijayakumar said.

The �country-made bomb like object� of the size of a cricket ball containing 30gm of gunpowder was found wrapped in two layers of paper: a page from the Thiruvananthapuram edition of a Malayalam newspaper and an SSLC model examination question paper.

Taking serious note of the issue, a three-member team led by Thiruvananthapuram city police commissioner MR Ajith Kumar visited Bangalore on Sunday to view the close circuit television camera recordings at the airport to ascertain details of the passengers who flew in the flight and ground-handling staff, including cargo loaders. The team returned on Monday.

IPL investors look for profits, sports gets lost: P T Usha

CHENNAI: Keralas cricket may have received a shot in the arm with little-known Rendezvous Sports World Limited adding commercial hub Kochi to the

Indian Premier League, but legendary sprint queen P.T. Usha sees it as pure business and a dampener to the efforts to revive the states glorious past in athletics.

Those who invested money in the IPL look for profits. The players will never feel that they are representing the country. If I invest my money, I will surely look for ways to recover the investment, Usha told media.

The love for sports gets lost, she added, pointing out that the investments made by the IPL team owners are close to budgets of small states and three-fourths of the investment for the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Kerala student joins Geneva experiment

MALAPPURAM: A Kerala college student, who had disputed the famous black hole theory of noted scientist Stephen Hawking, has become part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment. The LHC, a gigantic instrument placed near Geneva, is studying the impact of particle collision.

C.V. Midhun, a second semester B.Sc. Physics student of the Majlis Arts and Science College at Puramannur in Valanchery, is taking part in the LHC experiment online from his home at Naduvattom.

Midhun was given online access to the experiment by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the worlds largest particle physics laboratory, following the �relativity theories put forth by him. He had claimed that there would be no black hole when protons collide. He made his point by measuring the energy generated by the cosmic rays coming out of particle collision and comparing it with that of the cosmic rays from the sun.

�The energy of the suns cosmic rays has been found much more than that of the cosmic rays from particle collision,� he says. �As there is no black hole in the sun, it is unlikely that there will be a black hole when subatomic particle beams collide at very high energy inside the circular accelerator.�

Midhun, son of Vallabhan Namboothiri, a temple priest, and Sreedevi, a teacher, first sent his theory to the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) in Bangalore. The IISc scientists, realising the significance of his theories, directed him to the CERN.

Impressed by his theories, the CERN authorities inducted him into the LHC experiment. They made him part of the ATLAS collaboration, one of the six particle detector experiments of the LHC.

On Saturday, the Malappuram District Panchayat felicitated Midhun at a function. Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed presented him with a memento and he was congratulated by a host of political leaders and peoples representatives.

Will Kochi host an IPL?

KOCHI: Winning a slot in the Indian Premier League opens up huge possibilities of branding the city as a hot destination.

With the excitement of Twenty20 becoming a rage across the globe, Kerala, at the crossroads of development - socially, financially and from a sporting perspective - could not have asked for a better platform to raise its profile.

It is Kochis growth potential, notwithstanding Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, that has drawn the investors to the city.

Now, the onus is on the government agencies to provide the infrastructure necessary to host such a high voltage event. The IPL is not just about cricket. It is more about opportunities; to market the place, its tourism potential and the multifarious talents of its citizens.

The IPL is no less a phenomenon as the European Champions League or the English Premier League in brand image. The images reach out to 200 countries and the shortest form of cricket has been earmarked to join the Olympics bandwagon in 10 years� time.

Kerala police arrest man on suspicion of planting crude bomb

Bangalore: The Kerala police have identified a person, suspected of planting a crude bomb in Kingfisher flight IT-4731 at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.Unconfirmed reports said that the man had been detained.

Meanwhile, the Kerala police also the found that the newspaper in which the bomb was wrapped was circulated in Nedumangad, about 18 km from the state capital. A senior police officer in Kerala said that the bomb was probably placed before passengers had boarded the flight on Saturday night.It was learnt that an interrogation of the cleaning staff had not yielded any results.

The flight, which reached the Bengaluru International Airport on Saturday night, returned to Thiruvananthapuram the next morning with 27 passengers and four crew members.

Monday, March 22, 2010

KSEB releases water into Pampa

PATHANAMTHITTA: The Kerala State Electricity Board released water into the Pampa from the Kullar dam on Sunday night in view of the acute water scarcity in the foothills of Sabarimala.

The Kullar dam waters reached Pampa by Monday forenoon. It was a relief for the Ayyappa devotees visiting the temple during the 10-day annual festival.Devotees had to forego their customary holy dip in the Pampa as the water level in the river had come down drastically.

The release of water was following the intervention of Chief Commissioner of Travancore Devaswom Board K. Jayakumar

Memorial for Vallathol at Chennara

MALAPPURAM: The district panchayat will construct a memorial for Malayalam poet Mahakavi Vallathol Narayana Menon at his birth place at Chennara, near Tirur. The civic body has kept aside Rs.7 lakh for the memorial in its budget for 2010-2011, presented here on Monday by vice-president P.K. Kunhu.

�We are ready to give Rs.3 more lakh for it, if needed, said district panchayat president Arimbra Mohammed.

The district panchayat has an estimated inflow of Rs.154.86 crore and an expenditure of Rs.154.74 crore for the coming fiscal. The Rs.15.44 lakh surplus budget has identified projects aimed at the comprehensive development of the district.

The Central funds for rural development programmes, including MGNREGS and PMGSY, will bring an inflow of Rs.111.94 crore to the district panchayat. Contributions from the States Plan funds will be Rs.29.62 core, and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan Rs.1.3 crore.

Camera case: police seek custody

KOZHIKODE: The complainant in the mobile-phone camera case, Rahul, who was admitted with injuries to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital after he was alleged assaulted by Nadakkavu police personnel, was on Monday discharged from the hospital. The case relates to the recovery of a mobile-phone camera from the womens toilet in a city hotel.

The State Human Rights Commission and the Kerala State Womens Commission have taken up separate cases. Sub-Inspector G. Sunil Kumar was placed under suspension in connection with the assault charge.

Nadakkavu Circle Inspector Jaison K. Abraham, who is investigating the case, on Monday moved a petition before the Kozhikode Judicial First Class Magistrate Court seeking custody for two days of Akhil Jose, the accused in the case of placing the camera in the toilet. The Magistrate G. Mahesh will consider the affidavit on Tuesday. The accused, in judicial custody, moved a bail plea before the District Sessions Court.

Drive to promote paddy cultivation

KATTAPPANA: The Agriculture Department is on a major drive to promote paddy cultivation in fallow lands, with special focus on upland (modan land) cultivation in the district.

Principal Agriculture Officer K.K. Chandran told The Hindu on Monday that 400 hectares of fallow land would be brought under cultivation by the next season during May-September. He said that Rs.112 lakh would be spent in the district under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for bringing more areas under paddy cultivation.

He said that the major problem faced by paddy farmers was water shortage, forcing them to shift to plantain or vegetable cultivation.

Tribal man allegedly manhandled

KALPETTA: A tribal man was admitted to the Mananthavady district hospital on Monday after he was allegedly manhandled by Forest officials.

Karunakaran, 37, of Mangalassery tribal colony at Vellamunda, was admitted to the district hospital at Mananthavady with an injury on his hand and bruises on his body after he was assaulted by the forest officials, said his wife Sunitha.

She said the Forest officials had allegedly registered a case against her husband, who was employed in a ginger field in Karnataka, in connection with felling a rosewood tree from forest land at Vellamunda. He appeared before the First Class Judicial Magistrate court at Mananthavady on March 18. The court remanded him and released him to the custody of Forest officials the next day for further inquiry.

Mr. Sasikumar, divisional forest officer, North Wayanad Forest Division, Mananthavady, said Mr. Karunakaran was admitted to the hospital after he allegedly attempted to cut a vein on his hand when he was in the custody of the Forest officials

IPL to be a boon to business environment

KOCHI: On the face of it, the city being allotted a team to play from the 2011 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) should be of interest to cricket fans alone. But give a closer look and it becomes clear that the team and its fortunes evoke interest far beyond the boundary lines.

�It is self-evident that it (the presence of a Kochi team in the IPL) presents the State with a great opportunity to tap into our tourism potential, V. Venu, Tourism Secretary, told The Hindu on Monday.

Environment Congress begins

Thiruvananthapuram: Forest Minister Benoy Viswom has highlighted the need to take environmental factors into consideration while formulating development projects. He was delivering the inaugural address on the first day of the fifth Indian Environment Congress at a college here on Monday

Most quarries in State illegal: panel

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Most granite quarries in operation in the State are illegal or do not have the required clearances from all the authorities concerned, the Assembly Committee on Petitions has found.

The committee, which submitted its report on the functioning of the granite quarries to the House on Monday, said not even Revenue officials, who were primarily responsible for monitoring the quarries, were aware of the actual number of quarries in operation.

Licences issued by five departments were mandatory for the quarries, but the large majority of them had either none of these licences or only a few.

�The quarries are operating with the support of revenue and local self-government officials and the local level politicians, committee chairman V. Surendran Pillai and members told a news conference after submission of the report.

In its report, the committee recommended a ban on all illegal quarries and steps to ensure that those which had the basic licences also obtained all the other clearances

Devaswom Bill tabled in assembly

TPURAM: The Thiruvananthapuram-Kochi devaswom bill was on Monday tabled in the Kerala Assembly.

Devaswom Minister Kadannappally passed a resolution to leave the bill for the consideration of the subject committee. Opposition leaders staged their strong protests in tabling the bill. K M Mani said the government has no right to increase the number of members from the present three to seven.

Decision to make Bachchan ambassador not yet taken, says govt

TPURAM: The state government on Monday said it has not yet taken a decision to make Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan the brand ambassador of state tourism.

The matter would be taken considering the controversy over the issue triggered by certain resistance from different quarters in the state as the actor was also the promoter of Gujarat and other states, Home and Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the Assembly while replying to a query by K Babu of Congress.

Babu wanted to know the stand of the government in making Bachchan tourism ambassador of the state.

Kerala government changed its position after CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechurys remark that LDF Government would not make a person its brand ambassador who was also a brand ambassador of Gujarat under Narendra Modi Government, Babu said.

Balakrishnan said the state showed interest in making Bachchan the brand ambassador after he (actor) expressed his wish in an interview to a Malayalam TV channel.

The government also wrote to Bachchan expressing its gratitude for his views on Kerala tourism and its readiness to make him the brand ambassador, he said.

It had not discussed any terms and conditions with Bachchan on the issue. Meanwhile a row over the issue erupted on the matter, the Minister added

State\'s panel moots realisation of Rs 216 crore from Coke

TPURAM: In a setback to soft drink major Coca Cola, an experts panel set up by the state government on Monday suggested legal steps to realise Rs 216.26 crore as compensation from it for the multi-sectoral loss caused by its plant at Plachimada in Palakkad district.

The 14-member Committee, headed by Additional Chief Secretary K Jayakumar, also recommended setting up of a tribunal to take the legal process forward since it would not be possible to the affected people to individually fight the legal battle.

The panel report, handed over to state Water Resources Minister N K Premachandran here, held that besides heavy withdrawal of ground water, the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Ltd plant had inflicted harm to the farming and environment in the area by dumping solid waste.

It quantified the damage suffered by various sectors due to the functioning of the plant from 1999 to 2004 as agricultural loss (Rs 84. 16 crore), pollution of water resources (Rs 62 crore), cost of providing water (Rs 20 crore), health damage (Rs 30 crore), wage loss and opportunity cost (Rs 20 crore).

Receiving the report, the minister said it would be placed before the state cabinet to take appropriate steps.

The LDF Government had set up the high-level panel to assess the socio-economic damage allegedly caused by exploitation of ground water by the plant. The report incidentally came on a day which is being observed as World Water Day.

Mata Amritanandamayi�s father dies

KOLLAM: Mata Amritanandamayis father Sugunanandan passed away. He was 87. Cremation will take place only after the return of Mata, who is in Kolkata. He leaves behind his wife Damayanti and Amritanandamayi is his fifth daughter.

UPA Govt trying to scuttle PDS through ration shops, says Pinarayi

KANNUR: CPI (M) state unit Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday alleged the UPA Government at the Centre was trying to scuttle Public Distribution System (PDS) through the ration shops and recent recommendation for revising prices of rice and wheat were its evidences.

Addressing a gathering in connection with AKG Centenary Day at Caltex Junction and Deshabimani unit here, he alleged that first the UPA Government separated APL/BPL categories without any guidelines and later cut the ration quota.

He said on April 8, the CPI (M) would organise a Jail Bharo to protest against the wrong polices of the UPA Government

Welfare fund for immigrant labourers

TPURAM: A welfare fund will be implemented for immigrant labourers in the state from next month, said Minister P K Gurudasan in the assembly.

A lack of qualified labourers in various employment sectors is witnessed in the state, he said

Schemes to produce power from wind: Minister

TPURAM: More schemes will be started to produce power from wind in the state, said Minister M Vijaya Kumar in the assembly.

Revenue land will be given for lease to private parties to start the windmill project.

The minister, who spoke for Minister A K Balan in the assembly, said it will be established at Ramakkalmedu.

Parlour owner, aide held for sexual assault

TPURAM: The police on Monday arrested the owner of a beauty parlour and his aide for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old-girl.

Those arrested have been identified as Prathish (25), native of Mulayara and owner of Royal Beauty Parlour and his friend Jayan of Kattakada. The police have so far arrested three persons in connection with the incident.

Police have got evidence that six more persons including the owner of an ayurveda research institute in Kumarapuram have assaulted the girl. One youth identified as Sameer assaulted her many times after posing as her lover

DYFI wants Central legislation to nullify night traffic ban

KOZHIKODE: The pro CPI (M) Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in the state would block traffic on National Highway 212 on April 1 demanding a Central ordinance to nullify Karnataka High Court order justifying night traffic ban on NH 212 passing through Bandipur Reserve Forest (BRF).

Talking to newspersons here DFYI state unit Secretary T V Rajesh said his organisation would stop vehicular traffic on the NH 212, till Muthanga from 1700 hrs to 1730 hrs demanding immediate Central intervention on night traffic ban as it badly affected tourism and trade in Kerala and Karnataka.

He said the DYFI suspected the involvement of certain vested interests behind banning traffic on the NH 212 and 67, which was open since the British era. Uninterrupted vehicular movement was being allowed on many similar highways which also passed through reserve forest areas in other parts of the country.

He accused union environment minister Jayaram Ramesh for supporting the Chamarajnagar District Collectors order on May 3, 2009, banning night traffic which allegedly hampered free movement of wildlife along the BRF.

He also blamed Congress MPs representing Wayanad and Kozhikode for adopting a lackadaisical approach on the issue.

They also did not extend proper support to agitations launched by various organisations in the region to get the order revoked, he alleged.

The road block stir would also be held in other affected areas if the Centre fails to take immediate remedial measures on the issue, he added.

The District Collectors order, which was later nullified on the intervention of the state governments however, came into force after the Karnataka High Court order justified the ban.

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