Monday, April 30, 2012

Presidential polls: Congress seeks consensus, BJP ‘will not support Pranab Mukherjee’

NEW DELHI: Congress, which has begun talks with allies to decide on presidential candidate, on Monday, said it was for "widest possible consensus" and "maximum consultations" on the issue and disfavoured any speculation about names.

Party spokesperson Manish Tewari at the same time ducked queries on whether Congress finds itself averse to the idea of an "apolitical" President, a demand raised by various parties.

"There is no question of A political or B political or non-political President. Our choice like everybody's choice will be subscribed by the constitutional provisions required for election of a President ... Congress is always for a President that fits the bill as per the provisions dealing with the election of a President," party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

Noting that that the term of the present President expires in July, the Congress spokesperson disfavoured speculations about the highest constitutional authority of the country.

"Let us not speculate ... Let us not second guess if a preliminary consultation process is underway. The President of India is an extremely august office. This is not an office which should be brought into the realm of unnecessary speculation," he said, adding that the process should instead be allowed to be fructified.

Tewari said that in matters related to election or appointment of constitutional heads, Congress has followed a policy that "whatever happens should have widest possible consensus. Whatever happens should have largest possible consent."

Asked whether Congress favours another term for former President Abdul Kalam, he said it was "extremely immature to start speculation about names. We should keep in mind the dignity of the highest constitutional office of the country".

Tewari also dismissed BJP's criticism on Congress' relations with its allies saying "we have always behaved with dignity with our allies" and reminded BJP of the desertions of constituents from NDA.

Won't support Congress candidate: BJP

Earlier Monday, senior BJP member Sushma Swaraj told reporters that her party wouldn't support either finance minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice-President Hamid Ansari for the president's post. She said, "We will not accept any Congress candidate, including Pranab Mukherjee, for the President's post."

The names of Mukherjee and Ansari have been doing the round as being among the probables in the presidential election. Asked about Ansari, Swaraj said he does not have the stature to be President and hence BJP will not support him. She also categorically said there will be no understanding with the Congress under which NDA would support UPA's presidential candidate and get their support in return for the Vice-President's post.

"We are looking at the 2014 elections and do not want to give the impression that we have any truck with the Congress," Swaraj said. She said BJP was gauging the mood of the UPA allies on the presidential elections. On whether a non-Congress candidate like APJ Abdul Kalam, Swaraj said BJP is open to the idea. "We can have an understanding with non-Congress parties where we support their presidential candidate and they support our vice-presidential candidate," she said.

"We will contest to win. We will work out an arithmetic," she said.

SC seeks Italian Govt’s stand on release of ‘Enrica Lexie’

 Monday, April 30, 2012: The Supreme Court today sought the Italian government’s stand on a plea for release of its vessel Enrica Lexie whose two marines allegedly had shot dead two Indian fishermen, Jalastine and Binki, in February.
A bench of justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale reserved its order on vessel’s owner Dolphin Tankers’ plea for release of the ship for 10.30 am tomorrow, by which time the Italian government too was asked to file its reply.
Earlier during the two-hour-long argument, the apex court questioned the Kerala government as to why it did not oppose the compromise reached between the families of the deceased fishermen and the Italian vessel’s owners, who reportedly paid Rs one crore to each victim’s family.
Referring to the compromise, the apex court bench said, “This is a challenge to the Indian judicial system, this is impermissible. It is most unfortunate.”
The apex court also indicated that it was not in favour of detaining the vessel crew and the two marines unless their presence was required by the investigating authorities.
The bench made it clear that not only the citizens of this country but even foreign nationals, present in the country are entitled to the protection as per Article 21 which grants right to life and liberty to everyone in India.
Earlier on April 23, the court had sought the response of the Centre and the Kerala government on Italian government’s plea to quash the criminal cases against its two merchant navy personnel.
The court is also hearing a petition challenging the seizure of Italian vessel Enrica Lexie by the Indian authorities after two of its onboard marines allegedly gunned down two Indian fishermen on February 15.
The special leave petition was filed by Enrica’s owners, Dolphin Tankers questioning the Kerala High Court’s order staying the release of the vessel.

Kerala seeks higher Hajj quota

Monday, April 30, 2012: Kerala has requested the Centre to enhance its Hajj quota by determining the number of pilgrims to be flown to Mecca on the basis of total number of applicants from each state.
In a request to External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, Industries Minister PK Kunhalikutty had said only a fraction of the total applicants from Kerala would be able to perform the pilgrimage under the present system of deciding each state’s share on the basis of its population.
This year, a record 49,868 people had applied to the state Hajj Committee. A vast majority of them would not be able to go to Mecca under the present system of awarding state quota based on population, Kunhalikutty said. Last year, Kerala had 42,156 Hajj aspirants but only 8,893 people were selected.
There are states where the total applicants would be much less compared to Kerala despite they having a higher quota. This anomaly could be rectified if the number of applications was made the basic criterion for deciding the quota for each state, he said.

City turns into a dumpyard

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A peaceful Sunday it should have been; but Mayor K Chandrika received the shock of her life early in the day when she saw how a mammoth march had reduced the main stretch at Palayam and the Chandrasekharan Nair stadium into a dump yard.
Bottles, thousands of them, plastic glasses, covers, paper plates, left-over foodstuff, packets of snacks and what not, abandoned in the street and stadium after the concluding march of the Kerala Yatra led by Kanthapuram A P Aboobaker Musaliyar the other day greeted the Corporation officials on Sunday morning.
 “The stadium workers were burning the bottles on one side and there were heaps of garbage stuffed on the other. We did not know what to do or where to take them. When we say this is a city of a huge floating population, government lends no ears. But this is what happens. What does the government expect us to do by keeping our waste plant locked and the keys in their pocket?” asks Mayor.
  The Corporation employees collected and landfilled the garbage from the street at a place in Palayam while the garbage inside the stadium was disposed of by the stadium employees. The Corporation officials however have no idea how.
  According to Mayor K Chandrika, the city with its share of religious centres, that too places of worship frequented by thousands from other places-creates waste in big volumes.   
 “Comparing a capital city where a huge floating population visits and dumps garbage, with a village where only the living population generates waste is ridiculous. Kitchen waste could be treated through pipe composts or bio-gas plants. But the case of garbage from public spaces is a problem nobody wants to see and expects the Corporation to look after,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Corporation is all set to meet the Ministers concerned and DGP on Monday asking them to lend their support in implementing the Supreme Court verdict. The apex court had given a go-ahead to the Corporation to open the plant and resume its operations provided it treats only 90 tonnes of waste per day.

''Be cautious while joining for courses'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the wake of misleading campaigns conducted by some unauthorised institutions in the name of issuing Central Government accepted NCVT certificates, the training director of industrial training department has advised parents and students to be cautious while joining for courses in institutes.
 Only NCVT approved government and private ITIs  are authorised to conduct NCVT course. Students who pursue courses in these affiliated ITIs/ITCs alone are eligible for the NCVT certificate, a release said. Meanwhile, the certificate is also issued for people who have passed MES course. Only institutions that are selected as vocational training provider (VTP) are permitted to conduct such courses.  
 The assessing bodies and testing centres appointed by the Indian Government are not eligible to conduct MES course. Details regarding the authorised government/private ITIs and VTPs are available in all ITIs in the state and the office of training director at Thycaud. Details can also be accessed from the site

‘Increasing gold prices a bane for NRKs’

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ever-increasing in the gold prices have come as a bane for the Non-Resident Keralites, said Reji Thazhamon, former vice-president of Overseas Indian Cultural Congress.
Addressing media persons here on Friday, he said that the NRKs who arrive at the Indian airports wearing nominal ornaments had to remit duty now. According to the Customs and Central Excise Rules 1967, a man and woman can bring gold ornaments worth Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively. But owing to the rise in prices a woman wearing a chain worth two sovereigns or a man wearing a ring or a chain worth one sovereign have to pay duty.
Though amendments were made to the rule in 1998, no relaxation was given to the limit of ornaments. Reji urged the Chief Minister and Central Ministers from the state to intervene in the issue.

HC restraint on cops

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court, in the late 199os, had held that unless proper rules are framed or orders or directions issued by competent authorities, the use of the tinted safety glasses should not be restrained by the city police.  A Division Bench had passed the order on an appeal filed by two car owners in the city.
The petitioners challenged the validity of Rule 100 and sought a directive to quash the decision regarding the enforcement of the ban of using tinted glasses on motor vehicles.
They also prayed for an order to the state to permit the use of tinted windows on motor vehicles and also prayed for a directive restraining the respondents from insisting on the removal of colour glasses and sun control films on wind screens and windows on vehicles.
The Single Judge had earlier ordered- “The State Government is directed to issue necessary instructions to the authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act and to the Police Department to see that motor vehicles registered and plying have wind screens and windows maintained in such a condition as to be clearly transparent and allow the clear vision outside from inside and inside from outside.
They must take effective and urgent steps,” The petition was moved challenging this appeal.  
However, the Division Bench restrained the move of the police.  and observed that the steps taken by the police were not on the basis of any written or executive order.

SIT invokes law to nail Italian marines

KOCHI: Taken aback by the Italians’ recent strategy to free themselves from the clutches of law by reaching a compensation settlement with the victims’ kin and the prime witness in the Enrica Lexie case, the Special Investigation Team has unsheathed the final tool in its kitty to nail the marines.
The SIT has invoked the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act 2002 (SUA Act) against the marines. The move gains significance with the Supreme Court set to consider the case on Monday.
Though SIT has decided to invoke the Act, the Centre’s stand will be  crucial to proceed with the charge. The two marines - Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - are presently in judicial custody after being charged under section 302 of IPC. Now, the police are invoking Section 3 of the SUA Act.“The SIT filed a report before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court saying that the SUA Act has been invoked,” investigating officer Sam Christy Daniel told Express.
According to the SIT, the prosecution side will be stronger so as to restrain the accused to flee from the clutches of law. Legal experts think this would be a major breakthrough in the Enrica Lexie case. After invoking the SUA Act, the legal proceedings against the marines will be toughened making it difficult for them to escape from legal hurdles.
“The report has been also sent to the Director-General of Police for further proceedings. The DGP will forward the report to the Union Home Ministry to obtain sanction from the Centre which is essential to institute a prosecution for an offence under the SUA Act. We expect to get the sanction before the given time limit,” sources said.
“This is a crucial development in the Enrica Lexie episode. Charging the marines under IPC and CrPC without invoking either SUA Act 2002 or the empowering provisions under the Admiralty Offences (Colonial) Act, 1849 would lead to a situation where, after a point, the  courts will be compelled to acquit the accused. The SUA Act defines the term ‘ship’ as a floating craft. Thus, both Enrica Lexie and the fishing boat, St Antony, are ships/floating craft and are thereby amenable to the SUA Act,” marine law expert V M Shyam Kumar said.

Kerala seeks SIMI ban extension

NEW DELHI: The Kerala Government in its affidavit filed before the Special Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act Tribunal, headed by Justice V K Shali, has requested the Centre to continue its ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
In February, the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had extended the ban for two years under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1963.
The Central Government in March 2012 constituted a committee headed by Justice Shali to examine if sufficient evidence exists against SIMI to extend the ban. As per Unlawful Activities Act 1963, the ban has to be approved by the tribunal.
 Kerala Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan confirmed the state government move. “The Central Government had already extended the ban in February. We are just endorsing it. SIMI is still spreading propaganda in the state through various front organisations.The state government wants the ban to continue. We are facing a lot of problems because of SIMI activities.
I will try and meet Justice Shali when he is in Kerala next week and convey our stand,” Radhakrishnan said.
Radhakrishnan also hinted at various front organisations floated by SIMI in Kasargod district that have been active in organising seminars and symposium.
“The state government will soon convene an all-party meeting to discuss the problems in Kasargod and parts of Kozhikode. It is important to put a curb on propaganda circulated through various NGOs by organising symposium,” he said.
Home Ministry sources said there are at least 15 front organisations of SIMI in Kerala and intelligence input received by the Centre over the years clearly indicate SIMI links with Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba. “Some non-governmental organisations are acting as messenger. There are reports indicating that these NGOs are receiving funds from abroad,” sources said.

Kerala: Tiger killed by cows

THRISSUR: In a rare incident, a tiger was  kicked to death by cows at Periyanagar near Urulikkal estate in Valppara. It was early morning on Friday that the local residents found a tiger in the neighbourhood.
The exhausted tiger was lying near the house of Njanasekaran. It was obvious that the tiger was in a bad shape after the attack of cows and was struggling to even move forward. Forest Officials were informed and the by evening, they took the tiger to the nearest veterinary hospital in Valppara after tranquillising it. However, by Saturday night, the tiger died.

Top cops unhappy over Idukki conference row

THODUPUZHA: The top brass of the police have taken serious note of the differences that had surfaced during the Idukki district conference of the Kerala Police Association the other day.
The confusion has tarnished the image of the police and a report in this regard has been sent to the top officials.
The special branch conducted a probe and have sent a report to the higher authorities. The Special Branch DySP George Koshy has handed over the report to Ernakulam Range IG K Padmakumar.
The confusion started over circulation of the report of the meeting following which a group owing allegiance to the Left walked out of the two-day meeting held at a resort near here.
The association sources denied charges that it had collected donation in the name of holding the event.

Police escort to convict kicks up a row

THODUPUZHA: The Kalamassery AR Camp Police have kicked up a controversy after they allegedly took a convict sentenced to life imprisonment in a private car here without handcuffs.
The police allegedly let Chembakapara Marukkattu Madhu, 47, travel in the car in which the latter’s relatives had come to the district and sessions court for completing some formalities.
After that, the police accompanied the convict in a car to a nearby hotel to have food. He was later taken to the Poojapura Central Jail.
Madhu was convicted for murdering Shaji Mathew of Udumbanchola. He was under custody in the Muvattupuzha sub-jail. The Kalamassery AR Camp was answerable on the issue, according to top police sources in Idukki. When contacted, top officials in Kalamassery AR Camp failed to give a convincing reply.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the police have taken up the matter seriously and an investigation into the issue  has been ordered.

Attack on scribe: Remand period of accused extended

Monday, April 16, 2012: A special Court here today extended the remand period of N Abdul Rasheed, Crime Branch cell DYSP, who was arrested in connection with the brutal attack on VB Unnithan-a reporter of a Malayalam daily at Kollam last year.
Rasheed’s remand period has been extended till May 14. Rasheed is the second Crime branch DYSP to be arrested in the case after Santosh Nair. The case had been handed over to CBI after the Kerala Union of Working Journalists appealed to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in this regard.
Mathrubhumi reporter V B Unnithan was attacked by a gang of hired criminals on April 16 last year while he was returning home from work. He was allegedly targeted for writing a story in the daily about some police officers having attended a party thrown by a liquor contractor in the government guest house at Kollam on October, 2009.
The crime branch had earlier investigated the case. Five persons had been arrested in the case. Unnithan, who was seriously injured, was hospitalised for nearly eight months following the attack.

Jewellery shop looted near Balaramapuram

Monday, April 30, 2012: Miscreants broke open into Sona fashion Jewellery opposite to Balaramapuram police station and looted the showroom.
The loot was noticed when the owners and employees opened the shop. The shop is owned by Ayub Khan and Babujan of Balaramapuram. The ornaments displayed on the showcase were looted. The locker of the shop has been untouched. The miscreants got inside after breaking the grill of the shop.
The display boards were found abandoned after removing the ornaments from it. Almost two kilograms of gold were looted from the shop.

Rs 100 cr science city project to come up in Kottayam

Monday, April 30, 2012: A Rs 100 crore Science City project, to be jointly set up by the Centre and Kerala governments, would come up in Kottayam district of Kerala.
The project would have state-of-the-art science,technology, knowledge, research and entertainment facilities available in developed countries, local MP Jose K Mani said in a statement.
The project would be implemented in two phases. The first phase includes setting up of a regional science centre incorporating biotechnology gallery, nanotechnology gallery and popular science gallery by making use of latest technologies in animation, graphics, multimedia and interactivity. It will also have a planetarium, he added.
A central team from the National Council for Science Museum, led by its director K G Kumar had visited two sites at Kozha and Kaduthuruthy in the district. The project, fourth of its kind in the country, after Kolkata, Jalandhar and Ahmedabad, is expected to attract two million visitors a year, he said.

CM assures compensation to Endosulfan victims

 Monday, April 30, 2012: Chief Minster Oommen Chandy today said that the Government is exploring various means to help the victims of Endosulfan.
‘Our effort is to get compensation for the victims.The NHRC has also called for reparation. The amount should be huge and should make up the damages. We are considering who to impose it on. So, the data we produce should accommodate that purpose,’ he said.

Cash, gold ornaments looted from house in Tvm

Monday, April 30, 2012: A group of unidentified robbers decamped with 100 sovereigns of gold ornaments and cash worth Rs 25, 000 from the house of a drug store owner, Anil Kumar, near Thycaud here on Sunday evening.
The incident came to light when the family returned to the house after attending the funeral of a relative and found the wardrobe opened and various items strewn around the room. According to police the robbery took place between 2 and 4 pm.
The robbers had gained entry into the house after breaking open the kitchen door. The Thycaud police have launched an investigation into the incident.

Security tightened ahead of Thrissur Pooram

Monday, April 30, 2012: Security in the city has been tightened ahead of Thrissur Pooram, to be celebrated tomorrow. As many as 3,000 police personnel will be deployed for security.
Commissioner of Police told reporters here that as part of new tactics to crack down on criminals, the Shadow Police would be pressed into service. “As many as 100 police officers of the Shadow Police will mingle with the crowds to check offences.
Closed Circuit Television systems, an important weapon to fight crime, will be used. The police department plans to introduce surveillance cameras in key zones in the city,” he said.
Described as the ‘cultural capital’ of Kerala, Thrissur is all set to host on Tuesday the annual ‘Thrissur Pooram’ – the state’s temple festival that attracts tens of thousands of people.
The parade of caparisoned elephants accompanied by captivating percussion support – the ‘melam’ – by teams of top professional artists will culminate with the famous ‘kudamaattam’ – the display of colourful umbrellas moved in rapid succession across the top of the lined-up elephants.
The festival will conclude with a magnificent display of fireworks that lasts for over an hour. According to the festival authorities, everything is in place for the ‘big day’.
With small Poorams from neighbouring temples in Thrissur joining the ceremonies from early morning, the festival is a day-long affair that leads to the fireworks late night.
The Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi Devaswoms will hold a ‘sample vedikettu,’ the first round of fireworks, as part of Thrissur Pooram celebrations. Thousands will throng the Swaraj Round and nearby lanes to witness the mighty display of pyrotechnics.
The pyrotechnicians of the Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu Devaswams are busy preparing innovative patterns and varieties of fire works, which make spectators, go into raptures.
Preparations for Thrissur Pooram, to be celebrated on May 1, are on in full swing. The district administration has tightened security in the town.

CM rules out judicial probe into Varsity land scam

Monday, April 30, 2012: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has ruled out a judicial probe into the Calicut Varsity land scam.
He said that no land will be allotted to anyone against the interest of the State Government.
‘The cabinet has to decide on whether to give away the land or not and the cabinet has not taken such a decision so far.The Govt will not lose even an inch of land’ , he added.

Two youth killed

KOCHI: Two engineering students were killed after the bike they were riding hit the rear of a trailer of a container lorry that was parked near Eloor on the Container Terminal Road. The dead are Shobinath K P, Arayankuzhi House, Thavanoor Road, Malappuram and Jain K Joseoh, Kooran House, Poikattussery, Chengamanad, Aluva, the Edapally Traffic Police said.

Rlys to charge Rs 5 for platform ticket from May 1

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The increased rate of Platform tickets in Railways will come into effect from May one. Ministry of Railways has increased the rates of platform tickets from Rs three Rs five, according to a railway press release. The increased rate of platform tickets will be charged on tickets issued from May one, it added.

UDF will win by-poll

PATHANAMTHITTA: Leaders of various UDF constituents should function in a way that makes the people believe that there is unity in the ruling coalition, instead of just making claims on those lines, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John said. Inaugurating the district meeting of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (B) here, he said squabbles and public comments made by leaders had dented the sheen of the UDF. John said the situation was much different during the Piravom by-election. The government could display good governance as everybody concentrated on the performance of their respective departments and the victory in Piravom was a public recognition for it, said the minister.

Nursing student commits suicide

GANDHINAGAR: A nursing student, who was undergoing treatment at the Medical College Hospital after she tried to commit suicide following denial of educational loan, died here Monday. She has been identified as Shruthi alias Athira of Kudamaloor. She was 21.

She was a first year student of a nursing college in Tamil Nadu. The college had ousted her for not paying fees as a bank denied her loan and depressed over it, she took this extreme step.

Two Keralites among six killed as boat capsizes in Indore

PATHANAMTHITTA: Two Keralites among six persons were killed after a boat capsized in the Narmada River in Indore.
The dead has been identified as Sourav Mohan and Prem Kiran, natives of Pathanamthitta and Ernakulam.
The two were probationary officers of the SBI Bank in Kesavadasapuram, Thiruvananthapuram. Search is on to trace the missing persons.

Air India flight makes emergency landing due to engine snag

KOZHIKODE: An Air India flight made an emergency landing after it developed a technical snag. The aircraft to Dubai from Karipur developed a technical snag in the engine following which the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing at the airport, the AI spokesperson said.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

TN argument on dam row not acceptable: Minister

April 30, 2012: Kerala Water Resources Minister PJ Joseph on Sunday said Tamil Nadu’s argument that the 119-year-old Mullaperiyar dam could be sustained by carrying out repair works was not acceptable to the state.
In a brief chat with reporters here, Joseph said he would give an elaborate response to the report of the Supreme court-appointed Empowered Committee on Mullaperiyar dam dispute after knowing more about its contents.
The minister expressed confidence that the state would be able to present its contentions to the apex court when the case comes up for hearing.
He termed as “good”, media reports claiming the committee had recommended a new dam after taking into consideration the risks posed by the present structure.
The five-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India A S Anand was set up in February 2010 to look into all aspects of the dam, over which Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been at loggerheads for long.
While Tamil Nadu has contended that the dam is safe and its water level should be raised from 132 feet to 136 feet, Kerala has been pressing for construction of a new dam to replace the existing structure, built during the British colonial rule.

Ration outlets across Kerala to down shutters today

Monday, April 30, 2012: Ration outlets in the country would be closed on April 30 and observe a ‘protest day’ against the Union Government’s policy of ‘crushing’ the public distribution system, All India Ration Dealers Association said.
Informing this at a news conference, Association National General Secretary Babichan Mukkadan and State Secretaries Antony Palakkuzy and N B Sivadasan said the ration dealers would boycott all programmese of Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs, Prof K V Thomas, to express their protest in this regard.
If the Centre cancelled its earlier order stopping the distribution of wheat and distribution of ration items through Supplyco, the association would campaign against the UDF candidates in the Neyyattinkara bypoll and would convert the ration shops into election offices in the area, they said adding that they would organise agitation against Thomas and Kerala Food and Civil Supplies Minister.
Alleging the State Government was selling 25,32,000 liter of kerosene, out of one crore liter kerosene provided by the centre for families, to fishing boats, they said though the Centre had informed the state government to apply a special kerosene quota for fishing boats on the lines of Tamil Nadu, the state government miserably failed to do so.

‘Malayalam Wikipedia could be emulated’

KOLLAM: From the seven-year-olds Achu Kulangara, Aswin and Sai Ram to the 70-year-old A J Johnson, all delegates were busy attending sessions.

The Malayalam wikipedia community’s meet, ‘Wikisangamotsavam’, saw the get together of wikipedia enthusiasts cutting across age, educational and professional barriers.

 The man most excited about the meet was perhaps Barry Newstead, Chief Global Development Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation, who flew down to attend the two-day programme which began at the District Panchayat Hall here on Saturday.  

Barry Newstead was all praise for the Malayalam Wikipedia Community for sticking on to quality and education oriented content.

 “The good thing about Malayalam community members is that they don’t focus on politics or personal gains and instead are volunteers who engage productively. They build these projects with the prime motive to share knowledge with the next generation,” he said.

‘Parties deviating from people’ V M Sudheeran

KOCHI: Senior Congress leader V M Sudheeran on Saturday said that political parties should evaluate if it was good for them to be subdued by religious and communal forces. Inaugurating the ‘Rashtriya Vichara Sathram, 2012’ organised by the Save Kerala Movement he said the situation where political parties are forced to unite with extremist forces is unfortunate. The political parties have now deviated from the common man, Sudheeran said and added that all parties were equally responsible for the destruction of the values of Indian democracy.

P Rajeev MP, Benny Behanan MLA, former minister Binoy Viswam and Save Kerala movement president P R Padmanabhan Nair were present.

Bypoll: KPCC reaches out to community bodies

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  The UDF has geared up for ensuring the support of various community organisations in its characteristic style in the Neyyatinkara Assembly segment, with KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala himself leading the drive and visiting the Neyyattinkara Latin diocese and the VSDP offices.

 The parleys with VSDP leader Vishnupuram Chandrasekharan led to the toning down of protests and threats from a key organisation, which derives strength from the dominant Nadar community in the area.

“The VSDP will not oppose the UDF,” declared Chandrasekharan after  talks with the KPCC president.

 Prior to the meeting with the VSDP leaders, Ramesh had paid a visit to Neyyattinkara Bishop Dr Vincent Samuel and sought support for UDF candidate R Selvaraj. The KPCC president also had discussions with the local leaders of the NSS and the SNDP. The KPCC president told mediapersons here on Saturday that the UDF was keen to ensure the support of all groups while going to a bypoll on June 2. “We’re hopeful of getting necessary support from all sections,” he said.

The attempt  to curry favour with the local leaders assumes significance since the Central leadership of the NSS, in a constituency where around one-fourth of the voters belong to the Nair community, is still at logger-heads with the Congress.

Health Minister V S Sivakumar, N Sakthan and A T George MLA, were also with Chennithala during the discussions.

On the various demands raised by the VSDP, Chennithala said that the grievances would be there in the mind of the UDF leadership.  The VSDP raised a ten-point demand including, awarding ministership to Deputy Speaker N Sakthan, the Nadar community member representing the Kattakada constituency, in the wake of the IUML fifth minister controversy. The outfit had taken a stance that the UDF candidate  will be defeated at any cost. It had threatened to block the Chief Minister and minister if they ventured to step into the segment.

 The Congress initiative is to prepare the ground in Neyyatinkara for an all- out campaign for Selvaraj and wrest the segment which it had lost in the 2011 polls,  after granting him membership and the hand symbol to contest the bypoll. The moves are ahead of the UDF election convention slated for May 3, which will be inaugurated by CM Oommen Chandy.

Terrorist organisations trying to enter political parties, says Aryadan

KOZHIKODE: Minister Aryadan Muhammed said terrorist organisations like SDPI, SIMI and Jamaat-e-Islami are trying to find a place in political parties. Talking at a function in the district, he said the political parties who have accommodated these organisations have suffered blows in their own way.

Aryadan asked political parties not to accommodate such organizations even if there are not much activists in their parties. Try to avoid such people even if the parties do not obtain municipal and corporation seats. I’m a disciplined congress activist and if anybody attacks me, I’ll not sit idle.  

The minister said the government has not decided to increase power tariff for additional power consumption users. The regulatory commission has permitted to increase the tariff. The final decision will be taken by the government. The commission permitted to increase the charge for additional power consumption after the electricity board proposed for it, he said.

No decision yet on wheat sale in PDS

KOCHI: Making it clear that the Centre had not taken any decision to stop the supply of wheat through the ration shops in the state, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs Prof K V Thomas Sunday said it had only given permission to convert the surplus wheat into atta. Clarifying his stand on the issue, he told reporters here that the decision and approval by the centre given to the state government was based on their request allowing them to convert surplus wheat into atta and distribute though civil supplies corporation outlets.

'The centre had received a request from the state government that it could not be possible for them to distribute all the wheat allotted to Kerala through Public Distribution System, and sought the centre's permission to convert the surplus wheat into atta,' he said adding that the centre did not take any decision to stop supply wheat through PDS and it was granted approval to the state government's request in this regard.

Ration outlets to remain closed tomorrow

Sunday, April 29, 2012: Ration outlets in the country would be closed on April 30 and observe a ‘protest day’ against the Union Government’s policy of ‘crushing’ the public distribution system, All India Ration Dealers Association said.
Informing this at a news conference, Association National General Secretary Babichan Mukkadan and State Secretaries Antony Palakkuzy and N B Sivadasan said the ration dealers would boycott all programmese of Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs, Prof K V Thomas, to express their protest in this regard.
If the Centre cancelled its earlier order stopping the distribution of wheat and distribution of ration items through Supplyco, the association would campaign against the UDF candidates in the Neyyattinkara bypoll and would convert the ration shops into election offices in the area, they said adding that they would organise agitation against Thomas and Kerala Food and Civil Supplies Minister.
Alleging the State Government was selling 25,32,000 liter of kerosene, out of one crore liter kerosene provided by the centre for families, to fishing boats, they said though the Centre had informed the state government to apply a special kerosene quota for fishing boats on the lines of Tamil Nadu, the state government miserably failed to do so.

Singapore expresses interest to invest in Kerala projects

Sunday, April 29, 2012: Singapore has expressed interest in forging trade and technology partnerships with Kerala in key projects, including Vizhinjam Port and Kochi Metro Rail.
Singapore Consul-General in Chennai Ajit Singh held discussions with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Industries and IT Minister P K Kunhalikutty and senior officials on the possibilities of forging partnership between the two sides, according to an official release.
The investment areas covered by discussions included trade, infrastructure development, water technologies, waste management, logistics and the knowledge sector, it added.
A South-east Asian powerhouse, the city-state of Singapore already has strong ties with India being the second biggest foreign investor in the country.
Showcasing the state to global investors and inviting them to become partners in inclusive, rapid and sustainable economic development is one of the prime objectives of the Emerging Kerala 2012 Global Connect scheduled in Kochi from September 12-14.
In the run-up to the event, Chandy and his key cabinet colleagues recently met diplomats, heads of multilateral agencies and chiefs of trade missions, corporate leaders and business tycoons in New Delhi.

Action sought against DMO in e-mail scandal case

Sunday, April 29, 2012: Disciplinary action has been recommended against Homoeo District Medical Officer-P.A Dasthakeer, who is named as the second accused in the controversial e-mail snooping case.
The crime branch probing the case had found out that Dasthakeer had provided medical certificates to the accused Biju Salim (first accused) whenever he had gone on leave for conspiring. It also said that the accused doctor was aware of the plan of the SI and had issued certificates through the junior doctors on several occasions.
Madhyamam, had reported that email ids of leaders, activists, professionals, students and journalists from the minority community in Kerala were subjected to surveillance by the Special Branch of Kerala Police.
The report alleged that it was an attempt at religious profiling as out of the 268 e-mail accounts, 258 belonged to Muslims. It is said that none among them had any previous criminal backgrounds and so there was no clarity as to why they were put under surveillance.

Three held for fake Army march in Kasargod

Sunday, April 29, 2012: The police have arrested three persons in connection with the incident in which about 50 people dressed in military uniform had participated in the Milad-e-Sharief rally organised by the local masjid committee Kanhagad on February 5.
The persons have been identified as Arshad, Aarif and Junaid, police told. The police had earlier registered a suo motu case against 100 persons for unlawful assembly. The marchers wore military camouflage fatigue and the white glove of the Army used during the ceremonial parade, and marched in platoons of 60 persons each. The trainers and participants of the march included foreign nationals.

K Muraleedharan demands judicial probe into land scam

Sunday, April 29, 2012: Congress MLA K. Muraleedharan today demanded a judicial investigation into the alleged Calicut University land scam. Addressing the mediapersons here on Sunday, Muraleedharan added that the guilty must be punished at any cost.
The scandal pertains to an aborted move by a section in the University administration and syndicate to assign vast tracts of land forming part of its central campus to some private trusts with academic and sporting interests.
Following the allegations Calicut University syndicate had decided to annul its land allocation to some private trusts with academic and sporting interests, which opposition alleged headed by Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) ministers.

ID cards for migrant labourers soon, says Minister

Sunday, April 29, 2012: The State government will soon provide identity cards for migrant labourers in the State, according to Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.
Speaking to mediapersons, he said the government would take measures to ensure that the contractors who brought migrant labourers to the State adhered to the procedures that would ensure the safety of both the natives and the migrants.
The identity card would also contain details of the contractor

Bid to encroach Cheruvally estate

Sunday, April 29, 2012: Attempts were made to encroach Cheruvally estate and build dwellings on Sunday morning.
A gang of 46 members, including 26 men and 20 ladies, of the Kerala Boosamara Janakiya Vedi attempted to build huts here. The agitators reached the place with all needed equipment.
Police arrested them on charges of intimidating the estate employees, illegal encroachment, etc.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

'Chattakari' in 25 days

The new version of 'Chattakkari', which is under production, has completed its shoot. The movie which was completed in a record 25 days was shot at Koonnoor and Thiruvananthapuram. Directed by debutante Santhosh Sethumadhavan, the movie features Shamna Kassim and Hemanth in the lead roles. Innocent, Suvarna and Renuka are also in the cast lines of the movie which will get to theatres by the months of June. The movie will have four songs set to music by M Jayachandran.

'Chattakari' is produced by Sureshkumar in the banner of Revathy Kalamandhir.

Integrated security scheme likely by July in S Railway

Sunday, April 29, 2012: The integrated security scheme (ISS), aimed at strengthening vigil in railway stations in the wake of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, is expected to be commissioned in 14 major stations in Southern Railway by July.
The surveillance cameras–based ISS would be put in place in ten railway stations in Tamil Nadu, three in Kerala and one in Karnataka and hopefully it would be ready by July, RPF Chief Security Commissioner, Southern Railway, VK Dhaka said here.
The surveillance cameras, constituting the main component of the ISS, would be subjected to different types of testing under simulated weather conditions by officials of the Research Design and Standards Organisation before clearing them for procurement and installation, he said. Dhaka also said that RPF had supplied advanced AK-47 and INSAS assault rifles to its personnel.
Southern Railway had been allotted about 400 AK-47 rifles. He said RPF personnel trained in commando operations were made part of the RPF Bomb Detection and Disposal Squads (BDDS) at Chennai and Tiruchirappalli.

llegal sale of sedatives rampant in Kerala

KOCHI: The recent haul of a large consignment of cough syrup from a wholesale drug store in Kozhikode sheds light on the illegal sale of such syrups and tablets as sedatives targeting the younger generation.
Apart from the cough syrup, Nitravet (an inducing agent for treating insomnia), Trica (used against anxiety and nervous disorders), Frisium (used in the management of anxiety, agitation or tension) and Spasmoproxyvon (pain killer) are the most common tablets and capsules that the younger generation prefer.
 An official with the Drugs Control Office said on condition of anonymity said that it was estimated that drugs worth Rs 15 crore were sold in a month in the state.
He said that the dealers stock these medicines in large quantities aimed at illegal trade.
“The pharmacies stock such sedative medicines beyond the prescribed quantity, which is sure targeted at the younger generation. These drugs are prescription drugs but medical stores sell them as over-the-counter medicines, he said.  
 Drugs Controller of Kerala C S Satheesh Kumar said that cough syrups containing codeine phosphate, which is an opioid drug closely related to morphine are being widely misused by schoolchildren and youth. Codefine phosphate containing cough syrups like Cofcare, Corex, Mitts Linctus Codeinae and Tossex are available in most of the medical stores. Its use is rampant in social gatherings, where alcohol is a taboo, as it has a sweet taste and leaves no smell, he said.   Codeine phosphate will be converted to morphine in the human body and hence produces the same euphoria as that of morphine. Long term use of it could lead to physical and psychological dependence.
An over dose and its simultaneous use with alcohol can lead to respiratory depression and even death.
 The codefine phosphate cough syrup seized from Kozhikode would cost around `25 lakh in the market. The dealers would have stocked these medicines only for selling illegally, Drugs Controller said. We will intensify the drive against dealers who stock more than the allowed quantity of drugs, he said.

Home raided at night; four of a family hurt

THODUPUZHA: Four persons suffered injuries after they were allegedly attacked by the police at their home on Thursday night.
Nawas, 37, his mother Sainaba, 59, Nawas’ wife Zeenath, 35, and daughter Alfia, 14, have been admitted to the Kanjirappally Taluk Hospital following the incident. According to Nawas, a Congress worker, the Elappara police barged into his house on Thursday night and attacked him and his family members. He said that the police action was on the basis of a complaint filed by the Congress for denying a donation of `1,000 to organise the party’s ward meeting.
Nawas said that he refused to give the donation in protest against the party’s decision not to name the venue of the meeting after his late brother R Shanawas, who was the Peermade block secretary and an active party worker. The Congress had lodged a complaint with the police, alleging that Nawas had damaged the flex board erected in connection with the meet. Acting on the complaint, the police reached Nawas’ house to take him to the police station at 10.30 pm on Thursday.  “When the family members tried to prevent it, they were taken to task by the police,” Nawas said.   Soon people gathered and summoned E S Bijimol MLA, who reached reached the spot and took them to Kanjirapppally Taluk Hospital as they expressed fear to get admitted at Peermade hospital which is nearest to them. Bijimol told ‘Express’ that the police had no business to go to the house during night time.
 She said that Nawas was undergoing treatment for depression and the whole family was in a state of panic on seeing the police team.

PSC on fast mode upsets candidates

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Aspiring candidates for the posts of Secretariat Assistant are a worried lot. This time, they are worried over the undue haste being shown by the PSC in issuing notification for the post, despite the government’s directive to provide sufficient time for the candidates to complete the DCA course to make them eligible for the post.
It was in 2011 that the government had revised the eligibility for the post as Degree with 45 per cent of marks and DCA. Following the confusion over the DCA qualification, the PSC had notified the list of authentic institutes offering the course, through its official bulletin in February. But the official confirmation  was given only to the DCA courses, offered by the LBS and IHRD. Following this, a large number of students had joined for the course in the institutes, which require six months to complete the course. But the PSC is showing undue haste in the issuance of the notification for the posts.
But according to sources in the Personnel And Administrative Reforms Department (P&ARD), the PSC had sent a note in this regard to the Government.
Based on the information from the P&ARD, a group of candidates brought the issue before the attention of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister also had asked the P&ARD to provide enough time for the candidates to complete the course and not to deny opportunity to any one. But when the P&ARD sent a file proposing enough time for the candidates to complete the course or include the provision that the candidates would have to submit the certificate only during the time of interview, the Chief Minister’s office returned the file rejecting the proposal.
Pradeep, an aspiring candidate from Attingal, said that there was no clarification whether the DCA course offered by C-DIT would be acceptable and equivalent to the course from the IHRD or LBS. “We have already joined for the DCA course offered by the IHRD and LBS. But if we don’t get enough time to complete the course, we will be losing the chance to appear for the exam,” he said. Pradeep said that they were planning to move the court seeking justice if needed.
Ajeesh from Kochuveli, another aspiring candidate, said that their demand was either to delay the issuance of the notification or to include the provision in the notification that candidates would have to produce the DCA certificate only during the time of Interview.
During an interaction immediately after assuming his office, PSC chairman Dr K S Radhakrishnan had made it clear that candidates would be given sufficient time to get the DCA qualification.

Minister-son ‘implements’ father’s order

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a rarest of rare case, an order issued 15 years ago by the then Labour Minister has been implemented by his son, who now holds the same portfolio. And the ‘heroine’ of this otherwise sordid tale of bureaucratic red tape is P K Aminath of Karunagappally.
 In an order last month, the Labour Department regularised the service of Aminath as Pharmacist Grade II in the Insurance Medical Service (IMS), 26 years after she was appointed to the same post on a temporary basis.  Fifteen years ago, then Labour Minister Baby John had issued orders for regularising her service, but Aminath had to wait until now to see it implemented. Eight months ago, Aminath and her husband A Shajahan, a homoeo doctor, had approached Baby John’s son and the present Labour Minister Shibu Baby John with the documents. ‘’He said he will look into it. The order was issued last month,’’ a thrilled Aminath said.
 It was on July 20, 1986, that Aminath was appointed Pharmacist Grade II in IMS through the Employment Exchange. The next year, Aminath’s father Nooruddin Kutty petitioned Baby John for regularising his daughter’s service. The late RSP doyen was then Water Resources Minister but held temporary charge of the Labour portfolio.
 Aminath’s temporary service ended in June 1998, but was allowed to continue on the strength of a High Court order. But two years before that, Nooruddin had again petitioned Baby John who now held the portfolios of Labour and Water Resources. Baby John issued orders for regularising Aminath’s service 15 years ago, but after that the file was caught in red tape. Last March, Shibu Baby John had taken up the matter as a special case and issued necessary orders. There is one sad fact. The regularisation is applicable only from the date of the present order.  On the one hand, this is one red tape tale that ended on a sweet note. Shibu is predictably elated that he has been able to fulfil his father’s promise. But he himself points out how Aminath’s case has exposed the defects in the system, Shibu said.
 ‘’The file originated in 1987. It circulated until 1997 when the orders were issued. What happened in between I don’t know. And all these years later, the file comes before me,’’ he said. ‘’This is an example of how the system has become insensitive to the needs of the people. Fortunately Aminath is still in service,’’ he said.   

Money made you forget everything’

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Friday came down heavily on the Enrica Lexie victims’ kin for agreeing to withdraw all charges against the Italian marines after accepting  Rs 1-crore compensation each.  “So, when you got their (the Republic of Italy) money, you forgot everything?” it commented.
Justice P S Gopinathan made the remarks while considering an application filed by the fishermen’s kin seeking to withdraw the affidavits and submissions made by them against Italy’s plea to quash the FIR in the case.
“You have completed your arguments on the petition and now you are withdrawing it. Wasn’t it a pressure tactic for a forced settlement with Italy? This amounts to wasting court’s valuable time and you are liable to pay a heavy cost. The petitioners’ stand is not suitable for the criminal justice. Why did you insist on getting impleaded in the criminal case,” the court asked.

Car thieves nabbed

KOTTAYAM: The Kottayam police have busted a car lifting network by arresting two persons who had stolen four cars from town.
Ismail, 27, of Perrakkapalli house, Muvattupuzha and his accomplice Remya, 30, were nabbed during vehicle search on Thursday night by Kottayam West CI A J Thomas and SI Tomy Sebastian.
The search was conducted on the directives of SP C Rajagopal. The four cars stolen by the duo have been recovered.
Ismail, who is married, allegedly used Remya as cover during the car lifting operations to avoid suspicion, Kottayam West CI A J Thomas said.
Ismail and Remya would dress expensively and go in search of cars. The couple used to carry out the operations during night, Thomas said.
Ismail had a master key which was used to open the stolen cars. Low budget cars of a particular make was preferred, as there was little risk of the loser pursuing the matter seriously, the police said. Ismail sold the stolen cars at places like Muvattupuzha, Erattupetta, Kanjirapally and Gandhinagar. Ismail had previously served jail term in ganja case. Remya also has a shady background.
The incidents of car lifting had increased recently in Kottayam town, which had made the police doubly alert.

Four years in jail for Bangaru Laxman, fined Rs. one lakh

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Saturday awarded four year in jail to former BJP President Bangaru Laxman, convicted for accepting Rs. one lakh bribe in a fictitious arms deal case. He has also been fined Rs. 1 lakh. Earlier today, Laxman sought leniency on the ground of poor health, while the CBI sought the maximum punishment of five years for him.

72-year-old Bangaru, who was yesterday held guilty in the case, was produced from Tihar Jail before Special CBI Judge Kanwal Jeet Arora. The court after hearing arguments on quantum of sentence in the case reserved its judgement for 2.30 pm.

Bangaru was convicted for taking bribe from fake arms dealer to recommend to the Defence Ministry to award them a contract to supply thermal binoculars to the Army.

He is convicted under Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act which relates to "taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant" and entails a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and a minimum of six months.

VSDP will support Selvaraj: Chennithala

Saturday, April 28, 2012: KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala today said that the backing of all allies, including VSDP , would be there for R Selvaraj.
He said this after his meeting with VSDP president Vishnupuram Chandrashekar on Saturday. Meanwhile, Chandrashekar said that the VSDP has taken a stand of not opposing the UDF in the Neyattinkara by-polls.
‘VSDP will block the chief minister when he visits Neyyatinkara for campaigning to express their protest in not giving a ministerial berth to the Nadar community but obliging to the League and offering the post of a minister’, he added.

Kerala to host national tribal festival

Saturday, April 28, 2012: A five-day national tribal festival, showcasing the country’s rich tribal culture and traditions, will get underway in Wayanad district on April 30.
Festival ‘Gothrayanam’ will see participation of around 500 tribal artists, artisans and delegates from all states, Kerala Youth Affairs and Tribal Welfare Minister P K Jayalakshmi said.
The festival, to be inaugurated by chief minister Oommen Chandy, will be held at tribal village Valliyoorkav near Manathawadi town in Wayanad. Valliyoorkav tribal temple is the venue of biggest annual festival of tribes in Wayanad for centuries.
There would also be an exhibition-cum-sale section to promote tribal medicines and ethnic food.

Muttathu Varkey award for N Prabhakaran

Saturday, April 28, 2012: Noted writer N Prabhakaran bagged this year’s Muttathuvarkey award for his overall contribution to literary sector. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 33,333, a plaque and a certificate.
He has published as many as 20 books of stories, novel, travelogue, poetry, screenplay and literary reviews. His noted works were Tiyoor Rekhakal, Pulijanmam, Bahuvachanam, Janthujanam, Rathrimozhi, Janakatha. The award will be presented on May 28 .

Fishermen’s death: VS suspects conspiracy in payment of damages

Thiruvananthapuram, Saturday, April 28, 2012: Opposition leader VS Achuthanandhan alleged conspiracy in the compromise formula reached in the fishermen shooting incident.
There are moves going on to sabotage the case. VS also said that without the knowledge of the central or the state govt, this kind of compromise would not be reached and sought a detailed probe into the conspiracy entered with the Italian officials.
The Kerala govt prepared an FIR favouring the Italian marines. The change of stand of the defendant is a shame for India and the state should make its stand clear.
VS also condemned the Health Ministry’s statement to speak to the officials of the insecticide company when preparing the report on the Kasargod endosulphan issue. The state should be prepared to oust those officials who lobby with the endosulphan officials and the minister should clarify if the letter was sent with his knowledge.
The row erupted when the Health dept sent out a letter to the Kozhikode Medical College Community medicine Department, which prepared the report.

Kerala to set up Malayalam Varsity: Minister

Saturday, April 28, 2012: Minister for Rural Development, Planning and Culture KC Joseph had said that the Malayalam University would be set up this year.
Disclosing this while inaugurating the third branch of the Kerala Bhasha Institute here, he said once Chief Secretary K Jayakumar submitted his report to the government, the process of establishing the university would begin.
He also said the Centre would soon grant Classical Language status to Malayalam. Joseph also said the institute should publish more science and technology books in Malayalam which was essential for younger generation without giving importance to commercial considerations.

All set for Kerala’s iconic Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur, Tuesday 10 May 2011: Described as the ‘cultural capital’ of Kerala, Thrissur is all set to host on May 1 the annual ‘Thrissur Pooram’ – the state’s temple festival that attracts tens of thousands of people.
The parade of caparisoned elephants accompanied by captivating percussion support – the ‘melam’ – by teams of top professional artists will culminate with the famous ‘kudamaattam’ – the display of colourful umbrellas moved in rapid succession across the top of the lined-up elephants.
The festival will conclude with a magnificent display of fireworks that lasts for over an hour. According to the festival authorities, everything is in place for the ‘big day’.
With small Poorams from neighbouring temples in Thrissur joining the ceremonies from early morning, the festival is a day-long affair that leads to the fireworks late night.
The Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi Devaswoms will hold a ‘sample vedikettu,’ the first round of fireworks, as part of Thrissur Pooram celebrations. Thousands will throng the Swaraj Round and nearby lanes to witness the mighty display of pyrotechnics.
The pyrotechnicians of the Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu Devaswams are busy preparing innovative patterns and varieties of fire works, which make spectators, go into raptures.
Preparations for Thrissur Pooram, to be celebrated on May 1, are on in full swing. The district administration has tightened security in the town.

DYFI hartal against Endosulfan in Kasargod on Saturday

Saturday, April 28, 2012: DYFI has decided to observe a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the endosulfan-affected panchayats of Kasargod on May 5 to press for a total ban on production and use of Endosulfan.
Hartal would be observed in 11 panchayats. The DYFI blamed the govt for trying to modify the expert commitee report.

Several injured as school bus overturns in Malappuram

Saturday, April 28, 2012: As many as 30 children were injured when a school bus in which they were travelling overturned near Kottakkal here on Saturday morning.
Local police informed that the school bus had toppled over after ramming into a divider. The injured children were immediately shifted to a nearby hospital with the held of the local residents.

Friday, April 27, 2012

SC bans use of tinted glass in vehicles beyond permissible limit

Friday, April 27, 2012: The Apex Court on Friday banned the use of tinted glass, restricting visions beyond permissible limit as fixed under the Motor Vehicles Act, in vehicles.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, however, made it clear that tinted glass can be used in vehicles of government officials for security purposes and asked the state governments to frame guidelines regarding this.
The Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, say the glasses of windscreen and rear windows of vehicles should have a visual light transmission of 70 percent and for side windows it should be at least 50 percent. The court passed the order on a plea seeking complete ban on use of dark films on car windows, including the vehicles used by VVIPs, alleging that many crimes in cities were committed by people using such cars with tinted windows.
The petitioner, Avishek Goenka, had contended that he had 25 RTI query replies from various police stations to back his claim that many crimes, including sexual assault on women, were committed by offenders who used cars with tinted glasses to evade public gaze and conceal their identity.

Actress Kalpana and Anil Separated, Divorce News

Another account of separation springs up in Mollywood. Actress Kalpana and her husband Anil also a filmmaker, are on the verge of divorce. It is reported that Anil has filed a suit against Kalpana for divorce and for the right of protection of their only daughter Sreemayi and court will issue the order granting divorce on 14th April. Kalapana hailing from a family of film stars had out rightly rejected the news past when some media reported it. But now it is being said that Anil has approached the court for divorce.

The divorce of Kalaranjini and Urvasi, Kalpana’s sisters, were also in news earlier .

Chennithala to meet VSDP leaders today

Saturday, April 28, 2012: KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala will meet leaders of the Vaikundaswami Dharma Pracharana Sabha (VSDP) here today for discussions over the Neyyanttinkara bypoll.
VSDP Chairman Vishnupuram Chandrasekharan had earlier said that the UDF will face defeat in the Neyyatinkara bypoll if the demands of the Nadar community including the ministership to Deputy Speaker Sakthan Nadar, are not met before the bypoll.
The meeting is expected as a step towards building a consensus on the Neyyattinkara bypoll.

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Actors don't fit into politics, says Sanjay Dutt

Sanjay Dutt, who was associated with a political party for a short period, feels that actors do not fit into the world of politics "as they are innocent people". Sanjay Dutt had entered politics as a Samajwadi Party candidate for the Lucknow Parliamentary constituency. The Samajwadi Party later appointed him as its general secretary. However, barely a year after, expressing sadness over the way his 'mentor' Amar Singh was treated in the party, Sanjay had resigned from the post and subsequently quit the party.

"I learned one got to go there and speak and promise so many things. If you do that then you have to fulfil so many things. I don't think it ever happens. It is a different world. Who will give lecture and all.. I don't know all that. I don't know why I entered politics...what happened. I did a mistake. I don't think any actor fits there completely," Sanjay Dutt said.

There are several B-town celebrities, who have joined politics like Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha, Dharmendra, Jaya Prada, Raj Babbar and few others.

"As far as actors are concerned like Dharamji couldn't do it (politics). Hemaji is there, but still not there. Shatru saheb is there, but seems he has not got his dues. Shatru saheb would have been a Cheif Minister by now...what work he has done... and what a good human being he is. I feel actors are very innocent people. Everyone will try and get their work out of them," Sanjay said.

Sanjay is also all praises for the newly-elected Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav from the Samajwadi Party.

"I respect Mulayam Singh and even Akhilesh, he has studied educated boy, he has new ideas, he is innovative and he will make a difference," Sanjay said.

His father Sunil Dutt was a Congress MP. "He was a good man. Even Priya (sister) is there so that is enough," he said.

Sanjay's sister Priya, a Congress MP, had expressed disappointment at her brother's decision to contest elections on Samajwadi Party ticket saying that their father, Sunil Duttt, was a Congressman and the family had always been associated with Congress.

NH-widening to be Major poll issue

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A number of issues, from the fifth Minister of the IUML to horse-trading of MLAs, will come up during the campaign at Neyyattinkara, which is heading to the poll booth on June 2. Among other issues, the lethargic attitude of the authorities in the development of the Karamana-Kaliyikkavila stretch of the National Highway will be a major campaign issue that will put both the UDF and LDF camps in a Catch-22 situation.
 The foundation stone was laid for the widening of the National Highway connecting Karamana and Kaliyikkavila in November 2010. The demarcation works soon came to halt following protests against land acquisition. Though so may agitations took place in the past one-and-a-half years demanding the development of the stretch, nothing happened.
Recently, MLAs of Nemom, Kovalam, Kattakkada, Neyyattinkara and Parassala formed a consensus on the alignment. The revised alignment was released, but the roadblock has not been removed yet.
Taking the leverage of election, the National Highway Action Council organised a mass agitation at Neyyattinkara bus stand on Friday.
When asked about the action council’s stand on the candidates, its secretary Mannankal Ramachandran said the council did not support any particular party. “BJP leader O Rajagopal was very supportive and was a part of agitations organised by the action council in the past. R Selvaraj, though his party was not cooperative, stood by us. F Lawrence is a relatively a new person,” he said.
 The action council is also planning to arrange a meet-the-candidate programme to know about their stand on the NH-widening issue.
 A major portion of the NH passes through Neyyattinkara, which makes the issue a major one for the constituency. The stretch from Vazhimukku to Kaliyikkavila, the development of which is planned in the second phase, is in the Neyyattinkara constituency.
 The proposal was to develop the 30-km NH connecting Karamana to Kaliyikkavila into a four-lane road at a width of 30.2 m. Of this stretch, the first phase will cover almost 12 km, from Karamana to Vazhimukku.

Applications invited for Jindal Prize

KOCHI: Applications have been invited for the prestigious S R Jindal Prize, given to individuals or organisations who have rendered exceptional service of current significance  for the welfare of Indian citizens.
There are seven prizes of Rs 1 crore each, to be conferred annually. The categories under which the prizes will be awarded are agriculture, rural development and  poverty alleviation; healthcare including drugless healing and nature cure; education with emphasis on moral upliftment; science, technology and environment; peace, social harmony and social development; crusade against corruption; and exemplary service to mankind in any field.
The prize aims at promoting moral values, peace, harmony, health, education, patriotism, national integration and religious tolerance besides inspiring individuals to serve without motive of personal gain, social or political mileage.
Government organisations and government servants working under any of the mentioned divisions can also nominate names.
Further details and the nomination form can be downloaded from The last date for receiving the nominations is May 16.

Postal field staff to wear khaki again

KOCHI: Remember those days when a khaki-clad postman used to carry a bunch of letters to your house. Such days will be back soon as the Department of Posts has speeded up the procedures to distribute khaki uniforms.
According to the authorities, though the department had sanctioned the reversal of blue uniform to khaki two years ago, it could not be implemented as some inconveniences cropped up. Most of the postmen and postwomen seemed to welcome the decision as the khaki uniform had earned them respect and identity once.
“The respect which we got through khaki uniform was immense. We were considered as part of the family by the public. But with the blue uniform, they could hardly differentiate between a postman and other private firm workers. Nowadays, many private organisations have the same dress code for their security personnel too,” said a postman of the Ernakulam head post office.  They also needed a change in colour for the current uniform gets easily soiled. “We get only one uniform per year with a logo and it is not that easy to maintain it with the light colour. Khaki is a better alternative. Hence we welcome the move,” said a postwoman.
K Ravikuttan, state president, National Federation of Postal Employees, said the uniform for the field staff was changed to light blue shirt and dark trousers in 2004 and it invited a lot of criticism from various quarters.
“We did not approve of it right from the start as it marred the distinct identity which the khaki uniform ensured. The change was implemented as part of the department’s emphasis on corporate look. But unlike it, khaki denotes a government identity. Hence we decided to back the khaki uniform. We are happy that after a long wait, khaki will be our identity once again,” he said.