ADVERTISEMENT

Kerala

Kerala flood toll hits 67; over 2.54 lakh in camps

The heavy rains that lashed Kerala over the last few days have lessened in intensity, even as the toll rose to 67 while over 2.54 lakh displaced people were in relief camps, the state government said on Sunday.
The scene at Puthmula village, Mepaddi, Wayanad district of Kerala where a landslide caused large-scale destruction, on August 9, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The scene at Puthmula village, Mepaddi, Wayanad district of Kerala where a landslide caused large-scale destruction, on August 9, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The heavy rains that lashed Kerala over the last few days have lessened in intensity, even as the toll rose to 67 while over 2.54 lakh displaced people were in relief camps, the state government said on Sunday.
 
All the 14 districts in the state, except Kollam, have people taking shelter in over 1,600 relief camps. Malappuram district with over 54,000 people has the largest number of people in the camps.
 
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that compared to last year's floods which ravaged the entire state, the intensity this time is not that bad and has affected fewer districts.
 
"In a big relief to those engaged in rescue efforts, the rains today appear to have come down," he said.
 
The worst-affected areas are Meppadi in Wayanad and Kavalapara in Malappuram. Various rescue teams are working hard to recover bodies of those trapped.
 
"As of now, eight people are still missing in Meppadi and with the rains subsiding, the rescue works are going on well. However, more rains are predicted in the coming days. All should be on high alert and be receptive to warnings," Vijayan said.
 
Earlier in the day, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who is the MP from Wayanad, reached Kozhikode and drove first to Kavalapara and visited a church where 360 people were taking shelter. He listened to their woes and assured them of all possible help.
 
Gandhi will be touring Wayanad on Monday where he is expected to visit a few relief camps and affected areas.
 
Meanwhile, Vijayan expressed anguish at the manner in which some sections are spreading rumours about contributions to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.
 
"This fund will be used only for the needs of the affected and not for anything else. Knowing well about this, it's unfortunate that some negative campaigns are currently on... what we have found out is that the origin of this is from outside our state. The media also has a role in this to ensure that these anti-social measures are curbed," he said.
 
"We have not yet asked for funds from the Centre and they are providing us all the support for the ongoing relief and rescue work," added Vijayan.
 
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told the media that he has called on everyone to contribute to the fund generously.
 
The maximum deaths --  18 -- were reported from Wayanad, while Malappuram, Palakkad, Idukki, and Kozhikode have also reported casualties.
 
"Today (Sunday) there is a red alert in Kannur, Kasargode and Wayanad and orange alerts in six other districts," Vijayan said.
 
The Chief Minister said despite heavy rains, the water level had increased only in three dams while water level at dams in Idukki and Pathanamthitta continued to be low.
 
Even as a few long-distance trains were cancelled for the day, Railways were able to operate short-distance ones in several sectors while in a few other sectors, operations are expected to begin soon.
 
The Cochin International Airport that was closed a few days back, was also opened for service Sunday afternoon when the first flight landed.
 
"Operations have resumed and passengers can come for check-in according to the schedules," said an airport official.
 
IANS
 

60 killed in Kerala flood; 2.27 lakh in relief camps

Even as the heavy rains that lashed Kerala in the past few days abated, the death toll stood at 60 on Sunday, according to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The scene at Puthmula village, Mepaddi, Wayanad district of Kerala where a landslide caused large-scale destruction, on August 9, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The scene at Puthmula village, Mepaddi, Wayanad district of Kerala where a landslide caused large-scale destruction, on August 9, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Even as the heavy rains that lashed Kerala in the past few days abated, the death toll stood at 60 on Sunday, according to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
 
Compared to last year's floods which ravaged the entire state, this time it is not that bad and has affected fewer districts, Vijayan said soon after chairing a meeting of the disaster response team that functions from near his office here.
 
"The rains today appear to have come down and have been a big relief for those engaged in the rescue and relief operations in the worst affected areas. Today there are 1,551 camps operating in which 2,27,335 people are housed," said Vijayan.
 
The worst affected places are near Meppadi in Wayanad and Kavalapara in Malappuram districts and those are the places where the various rescue teams are working hard to recover bodies of those trapped under a huge pile of mud.
 
"As of now, eight people are still missing in Meppadi and with the rains subsiding, the rescue works are going on well. The forecast, however, appears that more rains are predicted in the coming days and hence all should be on high alert and the need of the hour is all should be receptive to warnings and alerts and should listen to what authorities ask," added Vijayan.
 
He also expressed anguish in the manner in which some anti-social elements are taking to social media spreading canards about contributions to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.
 
"This fund will be used only for the needs of the affected and not for anything else. Knowing well about this, it's unfortunate that some negative campaigns are currently on and what we have found out is that the origin of this is from outside our state. The media also has a role in this to ensure that these anti-socials are curbed," said Vijayan.
 
"We have not yet asked for funds from the Centre and they are providing us all the support for the ongoing relief and rescue work," added Vijayan.
 
The maximum deaths -- 18 -- were reported from Wayanad, while Malappuram, Palakkad, Idukki, Kozhikode have also reported casualties.
 
"Today there is a red alert in Kannur, Kasargode and Wayanad and orange alerts in six other districts," he said.
 
The Chief Minister said despite heavy rains, the water level had increased only in three dams while water level at dams in Idukki and Pathanamthitta continue to be low.
 
Even while a few long-distance trains were cancelled for the day, they were able to operate short-distance ones in several sectors while in few other sectors, operations are expected to begin soon.
 
The other good news was that the Cochin International Airport that was closed a few days back, was opened for service Sunday afternoon when the first flight landed.
 
"Operations have resumed and passengers can come for check-in according to the schedules," said an airport official.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Kerala floods toll 55, over 1.5 lakh shifted to relief camps

The Kerala floods death toll has reached 55 and over 1.5 lakh people have been shifted to around 1,300 camps across the rain-battered state even as the Meteorological Department has predicted more rains in the coming days.
The scene at Puthmula village, Mepaddi, Wayanad district of Kerala where a landslide caused large-scale destruction, on August 9, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The scene at Puthmula village, Mepaddi, Wayanad district of Kerala where a landslide caused large-scale destruction, on August 9, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The Kerala floods death toll has reached 55 and over 1.5 lakh people have been shifted to around 1,300 camps across the rain-battered state even as the Meteorological Department has predicted more rains in the coming days.
 
The maximum deaths -- 15 -- were reported from Wayanad, while Malappuram, Palakkad, Idukki, Kozhikode were other badly-hit districts, officials said here on Saturday. A red alert for Sunday has been issued in Kasargode, Kannur and Wayanad. More rain is predicted in a few other districts.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday took stock of the situation. Officials informed him that the maximum number of relief camps had been set up in Kozhikode, followed by Wayanad.
 
Vijayan had earlier said 80 landslides had been reported from eight worst-hit districts. "Authorities are yet to ascertain the actual number of missing in the landslides at Meppadi in Wayanad district and Kavalapara in Malappuram district.
 
According to unconfirmed reports, 41 were missing in Kavalapara, he added.
 
Stating that no aerial survey could be conducted due to inclement weather, he said as soon as the weather cleared ups the aerial survey could be carried out.
 
The Chief Minister said despite heavy rains, water level had increased only three dams and continued to be low in Idukki and Pathanamthitta. 
 
Floodgates of the Banasura dam, which was overflowing, were opened as per the announcement and no damage was reported as those living downstream had been shifted to secure places.
 
He said all the government officials and departments engaged in relief works would be working on holidays as well. "Cellphone towers on wheels are being set up in areas where communication has snapped," said Vijayan.
 
The railways were working overtime to start trains' operations and army's help had been sought for inspection of bridges, he said.
 
Earlier in the day with rain subsiding in Ernakulam, water receded from the Cochin International Airport and air operations are likely to start on Sunday. But officials are keeping their fingers crossed as rain started again on Saturday afternoon.
 
Emirates Airlines on Saturday announced that it would operate additional flights from Thiruvananthapuram airport, following cancellation of flights at Cochin airport over the past few days.
 
Meanwhile, while former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is expected to arrive at Kozhikode on Sunday to proceed to Wayanad, his parliamentary constituency, senior BJP leader V. Muraleedharan said Kerala had no funds shortage as around Rs 1,400 crore provided to the state as part of the Rs 2,047 crore flood relief last year had remained unused.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

SC opens Sabarimala gates to women of all ages

The Supreme Court on Friday opened the gates of the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala dedicated to Lord Ayyappa to women of all ages, lifting the prohibition on women in the age group of 10-50 saying it was violative of their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantees.
The Supreme Court on Friday opened the gates of the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala dedicated to Lord Ayyappa to women of all ages, lifting the prohibition on women in the age group of 10-50 saying it was violative of their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantees.
 
In a majority 4:1 judgment, the top court also read down the provision of Kerala laws that protected the prohibition and said it could not be covered under practices essential and integral to religious practice. 
 
Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge in the five-judges bench, gave a dissenting judgment.
 
Chief Justice Dipak Misra reading out the judgment, also on behalf of Justice A. M. Khanwilkar, said that subversion of women's rights under the garb of physiological phenomenon cannot be allowed.
 
"All devotees are equal and there cannot be any discrimination on the basis of gender," Misra said.
 
Justice Rohinton F. Nariman in a separate but concurring judgment said that people of all faiths visit the temples -- worshipers are not of separate denomination.
 
"Religion cannot become a cover to exclude and deny women their right to worship," Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also said in a separate but concurring judgment.
 
Holding that the Sabarimala temple is not a denominational temple peculiar to any sect, the court said that the Ayyappa temple belongs to Hindus and does not constitute a separate entity. 
 
The apex court also read down the provision of Kerala laws that protected the practice of prohibiting the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years.
 
Justice Indu Malhotra said: "What constitutes essential practices of religion is to be decided by worshippers and it is not for the judiciary to adjudicate.
 
"It is not for courts to decide if such practices should be struck down. Rationality cannot be used to judge faith. All followers must be allowed to follow their own faith as per their own beliefs in a secular polity."
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.
 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, gale winds, with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Congress wrests Gurdaspur in Punjab from BJP, its ally IUML retains Vengara in Kerala

In a morale booster for the party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has wrested the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat from the BJP by a huge margin and its ally, the IUML, retained the Vengara Assembly seat in Kerala in bye-elections held on October 11.
 
Congress' Sunil Jakhar wins Gurdaspur LS bye-election
In a morale booster ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has wrested the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha  seat from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by a huge margin and its ally, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), retained the Vengara Assembly seat in Kerala in bye-elections held on October 11.
 
Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar drubbed Mr. Swaran Singh Salaria of the BJP by a record margin of 1,93,219 votes in Gurdaspur.
 
In Vengara, Mr. K. N. A. Khader, the candidate of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), who is a member of the IUML, won from Vengara, defeating his nearest rival, P. P. Basheer of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), by a margin of 23,310 votes in the October 11 bye-election.
 
Counting of votes was taken up in both constituencies this morning, and the results were out by noon.
 
Gurdaspur had fallen vacant following the death on April 27 of well-known Hindi film actor Vinod Khanna, who represented the constituency in the Lok Sabha as a candidate of the ruling BJP.
 
Mr. Jakhar polled 4,99,752 votes against the 3,06,553 votes secured by Mr. Salaria. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Suresh Khajuria got just 23,579 votes.
 
Considering the fact that Mr. Khanna had won the seat by an impressive margin of 1.35 lakh votes in 2014, the bye-election ended up being a cakewalk for Mr. Jakhar, 63, the Congress Punjab unit chief and son of late Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar.
 
In between, in March this year, the Congress won a resounding victory in the elections to the Punjab Legislative Assembly and its leader Amarinder Singh returned as Chief Minister of the state. The bye-election had turned into a battle of prestige for both sides.
 
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had ended up on the losing side in all the nine Assembly segments in Gurdaspur. Mr. Jakhar has managed to turn this around, winning from all the nine segments this time.
 
Gurdaspur was considered a Congress stronghold for long years, with its candidate Sukhbuns Kaur Bhinder winning the seat five times in a row from 1980 to 1996 before the BJP brought in Khanna, a top Bollywood actor, as its candidate in 1998. The actor-turned politician was re-elected from the seat in 1999, 2004 and then in 2014. In 2009, former Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa by a thin margin of 8,359 votes.
 
Mr. Jakhar described the bye-election result as a "referendum" on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's government at the Centre and said the people of the constituency had sent a "strong message of resentment" over its policies.
 
"Congratulations to @sunilkjakhar ji for his impressive win in #Gurdaspur bypoll, it's a victory for @INCPunjab policies & development agenda," Mr. Amarinder Singh on microblogging site Twitter.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"Assure people of #Gurdaspur that every single promise made by @sunilkjakhar will be fulfilled and all development works will be fast-tracked," he added.
 
Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu said, "This is a beautiful Diwali gift, packed with a red ribbon, for our would-be party president Rahul Gandhi."
 
In Vengara, Mr. Khader polled 65,227 votes against 41,917 secured by Mr. Basheer, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the main constituent of the ruling LDF in the state.
 
Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) candidadte K. C. Naseer ended up third with 8,648 votes while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee K. Janachandran  Master, finished fourth with 5,728 votes in the results announced today.
 
The bye-election in Vengara was necessitated by the resignation of IUML leader P. K. Kunhalikutty, who was elected to the Lok Sabha on April 12 from the Malappuram seat that fell vacant following the death of former Union Minister E. Ahamed.
 
While the UDF celebrated the victory, the LDF drew satisfaction from the fact that they had reduced the IUML candidate's victory margin from 38,057 votes in the 2016 Assembly elections, when Mr. Kunhalikutty had won, to 23,310 votes in this bye-election.
 
Today's results have come just three days after the Congress swept the municipal elections in Nanded-Waghala in Maharashtra, considered a stronghold of the party. The party won 67 of the 81 seats, while the BJP won four and its ally Shiv Sena got just one.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Mukherjee says tragic to see universities caught in vortex of violence, disquiet

Declaring that there should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday that the country's premier institutions of higher education must resound with creativity and free thinking.
President Pranab Mukherjee delivering the 6th K.S. Rajamony Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘India@70’ at Kochi in Kerala on March 2, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee delivering the 6th K.S. Rajamony Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘India@70’ at Kochi in Kerala on March 2, 2017.
Declaring that there should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the country's premier institutions of higher education must resound with creativity and free thinking.
 
"Those in Universities must engage in reasoned discussion and debate rather than propagate a culture of unrest. It is tragic to see them caught in the vortex of violence and disquiet," he said while delivering the 6th K.S. Rajamony Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘India@70’ in Kochi.
 
"India was a world leader in the field of education when our Universities like Nalanda and Takshshila were at the height of their glory. Nalanda and Takshshila are not mere geographical expressions but representations of the idea for free thought which flourished in these great Universities of the past.  Our premier institutions of higher education are the vehicles on which India has to propel itself into a knowledge society.  These temples of learning must resound with creativity and free thinking," he said.
 
"There should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian.  India has been since ancient times a bastion of free thought, speech and expression.  Our society has always been characterized by the open contestation of diverse schools of thought and debate as well as discussion.   Freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution. There must be space for legitimate criticism and dissent," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee began by speaking about Kerala, which has been the gateway to India for traders and religious missionaries from different parts of the globe. He said the people of Kerala were known for their progressive thinking and the State's impressive achievements in the field of literacy, education, health, gender equality, tourism and culture had brought it global acclaim.
 
Turning to the topic of the lecture, India@70, he said that for 50 years before independence in 1947 the economic growth rate of India was 0% to 1%. "In the fifties, our growth rate rose to 1 – 2%, the sixties 3 – 4% and in the 90s, with economic reforms, to 6 to 7%.  In the last decade, our growth rate has averaged around 8%, making us the fastest growing large economy of the world," he said.
 
"India’s population in 1950 was 360 million. Today, we are a 1.3 billion strong nation.  Our annual per capita income has gone up from Rs. 7,500 at the time of independence to over Rs. 77,000. GDP growth rate has risen from 2.3 percent to 7.9 percent in 2015-16.  Poverty ratio has declined from over 60 percent to less than 25 percent.  Average life expectancy has gone up from 31.4 to 68.4 years. Literacy rate has gone up from 18 to 74 percent. Food grains production has gone up from 45 million to an estimated 272 million tonnes in 2016-17," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee spoke about the progress achieved by the country in the field of food and industrial production, as well as in areas such as space, information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. He said that, in the last 70 years, India had transformed itself from a poor, under-developed nation into the third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity.
 
He said equally important was India's success in consolidating the unity of its nation and democracy in the midst of extraordinary challenges and tremendous diversity.  
 
"We have firmly established within our country the rule of law, an independent judiciary and vibrant media as well as civil society.  We have also created strong institutions like the Election Commission and the CAG who stand as pillars of our political system.  Every known religion in the world, over hundred different languages used in everyday life, 1600 dialects and multiple cultures are united under one flag and one Constitution. Around 553 million people voted in the 2014 General Elections, an exercise matched in scale and scope by none else in the world," he said.
 
The President said the most important legacy bequeathed to the nation by its founding fathers was its Constitution.
 
"A Constitution is a charter for the governance of a nation. The notion of what is good governance must be defined by the need of the times and enriched by the experience of the decades. Yet, the Constitution enshrines certain timeless values that should never be compromised. It is against the touchstone of these values that we must constantly measure our performance," he said.
 
"The Preamble records the resolve of the people of India to secure to all citizens justice - social, economic and political as well as liberty, equality and fraternity.  It also establishes the principle of secularism. Justice - social, economic and political - is in the life of any nation a journey more than a destination. To achieve social justice requires not mere governance but a recasting of mindsets and the transformation of social ethos.  That is the job not just of the legislature, the executive or the courts, but of each one of us.
 
"The ultimate goal of any democracy is the empowerment of the individual, irrespective of his economic, religious or social standing. This may appear to be a utopian dream for many, but the strength of a system lies in its capacity to ceaselessly work for its accomplishment.  The goal of political justice requires the continuous empowerment of marginalised sections of our society. We owe ourselves to create a system in which access to politics is not limited to a privileged few but an average Indian also feels empowered enough to contribute," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said economic development was vital to good governance but stressed that this must be imbued with the principle of equality on which there could be no compromise.
 
"An egalitarian society can only be created when growth is inclusive. It is important to ensure that there is justice and equality of opportunity and the state does not create conditions in which the privileged few gain at the cost of the multitudes who suffer endemic poverty. A sustainable society can only be based on the principles of equity and justice," he said.
 
He said democracy required constant nurturing and at no cost should the exploitation of fault lines be allowed. In this context, he underlined the importance of protection and safety of women and children.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Mr. Mukherjee said the country's leaders and political activists must listen to the people, engage with them, learn from them and respond to their needs and concerns. "Our law makers must never take the people for granted. They must focus on the fundamental task of law making and raising of issues of concern to the people as well as finding solutions to their problems," he said.
 
"Legislation is the first and foremost responsibility of a Parliamentarian. It is most unfortunate that time devoted towards legislation has been gradually declining in our Parliament," he said, citing figures for time lost due to interruptions and adjournments.
 
"No one who holds any elected office has been invited by the voters to occupy that office.  Each one has gone to the voters and pleaded for their votes and support.  The trust placed by the people in the political system and those elected should not be betrayed. Our Legislatures and Parliament must not turn into arenas for combat.  Floor tests are not meant to be muscle tests.  The opportunity to represent the people is not a right or entitlement but a moral obligation and duty.  Our elected representatives owe it to the people of our country to act as models of exemplary conduct," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies were central pillars on which the edifice of democracy   rested. 
 
"They are the supreme institutions comprising of members directly elected by our people.  It is through them that governments are held accountable by the people.  If they become dysfunctional, it results in not just paralysis of those institutions but creates an adverse impact across the system.  The debate and discussions which ought to take place in the open in the House of Parliament and Assemblies cannot be replicated elsewhere.  When they cease to function effectively, issues spill out onto the streets.  The very basis of our democracy gets undermined," he said.
 
The President said the time had come for collective efforts to re-discover the sense of national purpose and patriotism that alone can lift the nation on to the road of sustained progress and prosperity.
 
"The nation and the people must always come first.  Let us strive to arrest the moral decline in our society and ensure that our core civilisational values find firm root.  Let us exert ourselves to strengthen India’s pluralism and diversity.  Let us be uncompromising in rooting out violence, prejudice and hatred.  
 
"Let us strive for rapid progress but even as we do so, ensure that the benefits of economic progress percolate down to the poorest of the poor and those living in the furthest corners of our country.  Let us make the poorest in our land part of the story of a rising India.  Let us embrace education, skill development and innovation which will enable us catapult India into the future and build a knowledge economy, riding the technological wave of the 21st century.
 
"I see a very bright future for India. Our Constitutional values, young population and entrepreneurial abilities as well as capacity for hard work provide us the fundamentals required for rapid progress as well as the building of a caring and compassionate society. India has changed dramatically in the last 70 years.  I am confident that in the next ten years, we will see even greater progress as we steer our nation, focused on further strengthening our open, democratic and inclusive society," he added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Kerala: Court orders probe against CM Oommen Chandy, Minister Aryadan Mohammad

A Vigilance Court in Thrissur on Thursday ordered registering of an FIR and initiating a probe against Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleague Aryadan Mohammad on the bribery allegations raised against them by Saritha S Nair, main accused in the "solar scam".
 
Kerala solar scam: FIR ordered against CM; protestors lathicharged
 
A Vigilance Court here today ordered registering of a first information report (FIR) and initiating a probe against Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleague, Electricity and Transport Minister Aryadan Mohammad, on the bribery allegations raised against them by Saritha S Nair, main accused in the "solar scam".
 
Saritha and her associate Biju Radhakrishnan are accused of having cheated several businessmen and non-resident Indians (NRIs) of large sums of money promising them partnership in a company floated by them, Team Solar Renewable Energy Solutions Pvt Limited, which offered solar energy solutions to institutions and households. 
 
They had also boasted of close connections with Mr Chandy and other ministers and even produced letters on official letterheads to support their claims. The scam came into light when an NRI, Sajad, filed a police complaint accusing them of having defrauded him of Rs 40 lakh. Subsequently, 33 cases were registered against them on various complaints.
 
Saritha, while deposing before the Justice Sivarajan Commission in Kochi yesterday, had alleged that she had paid a bribe totalling Rs 1.90 crore to an aide of the Chief Minister and Rs 40 lakh to Mr Mohammad. Both have denied the charges.
 
However, Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge S S Vasan, taking cognisance of a private complaint, asked the Vigilance Director to file an FIR and complete the probe as early as possible. The court rejected the contention of the government counsel seeking a quick probe into the allegations before initiating proceedings against the Chief Minister. Justice should be equal for all, for the common man as well as Chief Minister, the court observed.
 
The judge said he was not looking into the merits of the complaint against the Chief Minister which is to be considered by the investigating officer. The report is to be submitted to the court on April 14. The court also rejected the submission of the state counsel regarding jurisdiction of the court since the alleged bribery took place in Thiruvananthapuram. However, the court upheld the contention of the complainant P D Joseph, a social activist, that it had also occurred in Kochi, which fell within the purview of the court.
 
Reacting to the court order, Mr Chandy told reporters in Kozhikode that he was prepared to face any inquiry and rejected the opposition demand for his resignation. “My conscience is clear and both of us have done nothing wrong,” he said, speaking on behalf of his ministerial colleague, too.
 
In a related development the Kerala High Court stayed the Thrissur Vigilance Court order of registering an FIR against Mr K Babu, who had resigned his post as Minister following the court order. 
 
Passing the order, High Court Judge P Ubaid observed that the vigilance court had acted in unnecessary haste without waiting for the order of the division bench of the High Court. The stay will be applicable for two months. In the meantime, the court directed the Vigilance Director to conduct a quick probe and submit a report within ten days.
 
Earlier, on January 25, Mr Chandy had deposed before the judicial commission. The deposition, that went on into the night, was completed only in the early hours the next day. He reportedly told the commission that he had met Saritha only three times and came to know about the financial dealings only after her arrest. He had acknowledged receipt of a contribution of Rs 2 lakh to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund in a letter drafted by his office under his letterhead. The letterhead was later found to be misused. He also denied that he had met Saritha in his office along with Sreedharan Nair, a quarry owner and one of the complainants in the scam, as stated by Intelligence ADGP A Hemachandran.
 
The Chief Minister later told reporters that he had refused to undergo a lie-detector test as he had not lied or acted against his conscience. Neither has the state exchequer incurred any loss nor the accused obtained any monetary advantage, he added. 
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Kerala: Four female rowers attempt suicide in SAI hostel; one dead, three hospitalised

A 15-year-old rower died and three female athletes were hospitalised in a serious condition after they consumed poisonous fruit on Wednesday in an alleged suicide attempt at their hostel at the Sports Authority of India's Water Sports Centre at Alappuzha in Kerala.
 
Kerala suicide attempt: DG SAI says priority to save lives of girls
A 15-year-old rower died and three female athletes were hospitalised in a serious condition after they consumed poisonous fruit yesterday in an alleged suicide attempt at their hostel at the Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Water Sports Centre at Alappuzha in Kerala.
 
The decased was identified as Aparna Ramachandran, a resident of Avalookunnu in Alappuzha district, official sources said. The three others are also from Kerala, they said.
 
The four athletes allegedly consumed the fruit of cerbera odollam (Othalanga in Malayalam) sometime during the afternoon yesterday and were rushed to the Alappuzha Medical College Hospital, about 150 km from here, in the evening after they started showing symptoms of food poisoning.
 
While Aparna failed to respond to treatment and breathed her last around 4 am today, the other three girls were said to be in a serious condition.
 
The reason for the extreme step taken by the rowers could not be ascertained immediately, but parents and relatives of the girls said they were subjected to mental and physical harassment at the hostel in recent times.
 
The hostel authorities, however, denied these allegations and said there were no complaints of any harassment. Media reports quoted them as saying that the girls had recently been caught consuming beer and were questioned about it, and they must have resorted to the extreme step fearing further action.
 
The State Government as well as the Sports Authority of India have ordered inquiries into the incident.
 
Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chenithala told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that he had asked Inspector General of Police (Kochi Range) M R Ajithkumar to conduct an inquiry into th incident and the officer would reach Alappuzha later today.
 
In Delhi, SAI Director General Injeti Srinivas said SAI had taken an extremely serious view of the incident and he had submitted an initial report to Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. He said SAI would conduct a probe into all aspects of the incident.
 
Mr  Sonowal said in a statement later that he had asked the Director General of SAI to rush to the spot and give a factual report on the incident.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
“I am deeply aggrieved by the incident that has happened in Kerala. The young girl who has died was a very promising sportsperson. It is a big loss to the country in general and Sports Authority of India and sports fraternity in particular. I convey my condolences to the bereaved family. We will give all possible help to the bereaved family," he said.
 
"Three girls are still undergoing treatment. I pray for their speedy recovery. To provide them the best possible treatment is our top priority," he said.
 
"Local police is investigating the matter. I have also directed the Director General of SAI to rush to the spot and give me a factual report. I have specifically directed him to ensure that the best possible treatment is made available to the three girls who are undergoing treatment. 
 
"While law will take its own course, at this stage I would only like to say that if anyone from Sports Authority of India is found guilty in connection with this tragic incident, strictest possible action will be taken against him or her," he added.
 
Mr Srinivas told newspersons in Delhi that it was the most shocking and tragic incident in the three-decade-old history of SAI, which is tasked with nurturing sports talent in the country.
 
He said he had been informed of the incident around midnight last night and has been in touch with Kerala government and local SAI officials since then.
 
"Our immediate priority is to deal with the medical emergency, to save the lives of the three trainees" he said. He said he had been told that there was no real antidote for the poisonous fruit and that, since the entire matter came to light only after some hours after they had consumed the fruit, the poison appeared to have entered their bloodstream and complicated matters.
 
Mr Srinivas said the four girls had reportedly left a suicide note jointly signed by them. One of the three girls in hospital, who is conscious and is able to speak, has deposed before the sub-divisional magistrate, he said. "All these matters will be investigated," he added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 

See News Videos

 

10 dead, 50 hurt as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails near Hosur

At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed on Friday morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.
 
10 dead, 50 injured as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails
At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed this morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.
 
The mishap occurred at around 7.45 am between Anekal Road and Hosur stations on the Bangalore-Salem section of South-Western Railway, they said.
 
Prima facie, the derailment occurred after the train hit a boulder that had rolled down onto the tracks in the ghat section, the sources said.
 
The train had left Bangalore at 6.15 am for Ernakulam in Kerala. Nine coaches and the engine of the train went off the rails, and one coach in particular, D8, a second class chair car, was badly affected, they said.
 
The derailed coaches included two air-conditioned chair cars and six second class chair cars, but they did not suffer much damage.
 
A pantry car and four second class chair cars were not affected by the derailment, the sources said.
 
South-Western Railway spokesperson Chandrasekhar Gupta told NetIndian over the telephone that ten bodies had been extricated from the mangled coaches.
 
He said 18 of the injured passengers had suffered severe injuries and were undergoing treatment in the Narayan Hridalaya, Sparsh and Anekal General hospitals nearby.
 
Police and emergency personnel, including railway officials and staff, from nearby areas in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka rushed to the spot with ambulances and medical equipment. The Railways rushed medical vans and accident relief vans to the spot.
 
Efforts were being made to restore rail traffic on the section at the earliest, the sources said.
 
In Delhi, Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu said he was rushing to the scene of the accident and that he had directed the Chairman of the Railway Board, the General Manager of South-Western Railway and other senior officials to reach the spot.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
He said all possible help would be rendered to the affected passengers and families. He also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 200,000 for the next-of-kin of each of those killed in the accident, Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured passengers and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.
  
Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, a former Minister for Railways and former Karnataka Chief Minister, was among those who reached the scene of the accident. 
 
"I am personally monitoring it and in touch with State and local administration. All Sr rail officials are directed by me to be on job," Mr Prabhu said.
 
"Condolences to all the  unfortunate members of the families who lost lives. Directed to provide best possible medical care to the injured," he said.
 
"Ordered enquiry to fix responsibility and for corrective action to prevent such unfortunate accidents. Monitoring action regularly," he added.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines to provide information and assistance to victims and their relatives: 0948090599,  08022371166, 09731666751.
 
Besides, the Railways have set up the following helpline numbers in Kerala:
 
Trivandrum: 0471-2321205, 2321237, 09746769960
Ernakulam Jn.: 0484-2100317, 0813699773
Ernakulam Town: 0484-2398200
Trichur: 04877-2424148, 2430060
Aluva: 0484-2624143
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

See News Videos

 

Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit resigns, may return to Delhi politics

Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit said on Tuesday she had resigned from her position, amid reports that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was planning to shift her to the North-East and indications that she might return to active politics in Delhi.
 
Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit resigns
Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit today said she had resigned from her position, amid reports that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was planning to shift her to the North-East and indications that she might return to active politics in Delhi.
 
Ms Dikshit, 76, who was Chief Minister of Delhi for 15 years over three consecutive terms, had taken over for a five-year term as the 22nd Governor of Kerala only on March 11 this year after she and her Congress party suffered a humiliating defeat in the December 4, 2013 elections to the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
 
She had lost in her own constituency of Gole Market by a huge margin to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, who went on to serve as Chief Minister of Delhi for 49 days before he resigned. The Congress had managed to win only eight seats in the 70-member house.
 
Ms Dikshit was among the Governors appointed by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre who had refused to heed clear signals from the new Modi government, which assumed office on May 26, that they should hand in their papers.
 
There were also reports in the media suggesting that she might be shifted to a North-Eastern state if she refused to quit.
 
Ms Dikshit met President Mukherjee and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh here yesterday. 
 
"I have only one thing to say. The news flashing on television channels is correct. I have submitted my resignation yesterday," she told newspersons.
"This is what I wanted to say, and I wanted to say it myself."
 
"I don't have anything more to say right now. After my resignation is accepted, I'll say whatever I have to say," she said.
 
To repeated queries about her views on the way the Modi government had handled Governors and about her future plans, Ms Dikshit said that she would not like to say anything further.
 
"Let my resignation be accepted, after that I promise you that I will talk to you," she added.
 
Asked if she had been under pressure from the Modi government to resign, Ms Dikshit said, "I have nothing to do with all that. I did what my heart told me to do."
 
She is now expected to plunge back into active politics in Delhi, where Assembly elections may be held in the next few months if it is not possible to form a viable government within the present Assembly in which no party has a clear majoirty.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
With this, eight of the Governors appointed by the previous government have resigned so far, while two were sacked.
 
Soon after the new government started nudging them, five Governors -- B L Joshi in Uttar Pradesh, M K Narayanan in West Bengal, Ashwani Kumar of Nagaland, Shekhar Dutt of Chhattisgarh and Bharat Vir Wanchoo of Goa, all of whom are former police officers -- resigned.
 
Mr Vakkom Purushothaman, a senior Congress leader from Kerala, who was shifted from Mizoram to Nagaland after then Gujarat Governor Kamala Beniwal was moved to Mizoram, resigned in protest against the manner in which he was transferred without consulting him.
 
Ms Beniwal, who had a few run-ins with then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Minister, was sacked on August 6. Earlier, on July 11, Mr Virendra Kataria had been removed as Lt Governor of Puducherry.
 
On Sunday, another senior Congress leader from Kerala, Mr K Sankaranarayanan, resigned after he was transferred as the Governor of Mizoram from Maharashtra.
 
The Governor of Uttarakhand, Mr Aziz Qureshi, has meanwhile filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging that he had received calls from the Union Home Secretary suggesting that he resign. He contended that only the President could remove him.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

See News Videos

Kerala: Tropical Titans back to winning ways at Kottappuram leg of CBL

Tropical Titans winning a nail-biting finish in Race Six of the Champions Boat League at Kottappuram, near Kodungallur, in Thrissur district of Kerala on October 12, 2019.
Tropical Titans winning a nail-biting finish in Race Six of the Champions Boat League at Kottappuram, near Kodungallur, in Thrissur district of Kerala on October 12, 2019.
The thrill quotient around the Champions Boat League (CBL) registered a massive surge halfway through the three-month event, as the sixth of the 12-round League saw Tropical Titans regaining their winning track with a timing of 3:44.51 amid a sustained trend of close results.
 
In the first and only CBL leg in this district, Backwater Knights apparently came a surprise second in the evening’s final, but were subsequently declared third after judges imposed an additional five seconds on the team for track violation. Thus, Raging Rowers were officially declared the runner-up, clocking 3:47.56 along the 900-metre track at the Kottappuram backwaters near Kodungallur.
 
The revised timing by Backwater Knights in the day’s final was officially put at 3:50.53.
 
Drenched in the afternoon drizzle, the crowd at Kottappuram was impressive, enabling the CBL spectators’ number to cross the 10-lakh mark going by their total so far since the start of the league on August 31.
 
Tropical Titans had been winners in the first four legs of the pioneering championship, but could finish only second last weekend at the CBL Kochi leg, where Coast Dominators had emerged victors.
 
At Kottappuram, Tropical Titans also won the ‘Nerolac Excel Fastest Team of the Day’, clocking 3:27.16 in the heats and earning five extra points. The team, thus, remain atop the overall table with 83 points in the IPL cricket-like pioneering championships being organised by Kerala Tourism.
 
At the end of CBL round-6, behind Tropical Titans stand Raging Rowers with 41 points. Mighty Oars stand third with 40 points. Coast Dominators, who had scored an upset win at Ernakulam Marine Drive in the previous leg, stand fourth now with 37 points.
 
Standing fifth down the overall table now is Pride Chasers with 30 points. Backwater Knights (26 points) stand sixth, while Backwater Warriors (18) and Thunder Oars (17) are on the seventh and eight spots, respectively. At the bottom stand Backwater Ninjas (13).
 
Today’s results further changed the dynamics within the CBL teams. Taken aback this evening was Coast Dominators, who had at Kochi put brakes on the winning streak of Tropical Titans. In a neck-and-neck final on October 5, Tropical Titans were the runner-up, while Raging Rowers had come third just an inch or two behind the evening’s victor and the runner-up.
 
This evening at Kottappuram, Coast Dominators were judged to have made an error in the heats and penalised with an addition of five seconds to their score. Protesting against this, they boycotted the loser’s final of the evening.
 
Today’s race was inaugurated by Kerala Agriculture Minister V S Sunilkumar, and attended by local MLA V R Sunilkumar, Muziris Heritage Project MD Nowshad P M, Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran, KSFE Managing Director A Purushothaman and Municipal Chairman of Kodungallur K R Jaithran.  
 
The fifth leg at the placid Ernakulam backwaters had its spirit no different from what the CBL teams displayed at the previous edition, rowing upstream along the Moovattupuzha river in semi-hilly Piravom, also of Ernakulam district. The trend of high-suspense continued in Kochi as well, what with the first three teams decided within a range of mere 42 microseconds.
 
The three-month CBL being organised by the Kerala Tourism is slated to hold its finals on November 23 at Kollam. The inaugural race was at Alappuzha on August 31. Today’s event was held at the Muziris Kottappuram Waterfront, where the CBL helped the traditional boat race come back after a gap of four years.
 
The Kottappuram round also held competitions for the smaller iruttukuthi boats. It also hosted cultural activities including the classical Mohiniyattam dance and Biblical Chavittunatakam dance-drama.
 
The day’s topper secured Rs 5 lakh, followed by Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh for the second and third finishers. All participating teams are entitled to Rs 4 lakh per match.
 
The overall winner of the championships is entitled to Rs 25 lakh, followed by Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for the second and third prize winners. 
 
The CBL (www.championsboatleague.in), billed as a game-changing initiative, seeks to professionalise Kerala’s largely scattered snake-boat races, while commercialising them without losing the conventional spirit. Tickets can be booked online through ‘Book my Show’ platform, besides 20 outlets that facilitate spot purchase of tickets. The prices range from Rs 200 to 2,000.
 
The schedule goes thus from now: October 19 (Ponnani, Malappuram), October 26 (Kainakari, Alappuzha), November 2 (Pulinkunnu, Alappuzha district), November 9 (Kayamkulam, Alappuzha), November 16 (Kallada, Kollam district) and November 23 (Kollam, President’s Trophy Boat Race).
 
NNN
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Kerala startup ecosystem clocks high growth, says report

ADVERTISEMENT
Kerala has emerged as one of the country’s top startup destinations marking an impressive compound annual growth of 17 per cent since 2012, taking the total number of ventures based out of the state to 2,200 and displaying high competence in netting funds, says a report compiled by digital media platform Inc 42 in association with TiE Kerala.
 
In a single year since 2018 alone, the number of startups set up in Kerala marked a steep increase of 35 per cent, says the report, unveiled at the valedictory function of the TiECon Kerala 2019, at Kochi on Saturday. 
 
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, MP, released the report titled ‘Kerala Startup Ecosystem 2019’ in the presence of Dr Saji Gopinath, CEO, Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM).
 
Kerala-based startups kept up their competence in getting funds by raising $89 million till date, and compared to 2018, till September this year startups clocked an 18 per cent uptick in securing funds. In 2019, startups netted $44 million in funding spread across 13 deals. As many as 47 startups have raised funds from outside and 13 startups received funds in 2019.  
 
“KSUM has designed and executed a set of programmes and schemes as per the revised Kerala Startup Policy (Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy) to identify and support technology startups in the State. In the last six months alone, KSUM incubated and funded over 200 startups,” said M Sivasankar Secretary, Electronics and IT, Government of Kerala.
 
“Many of the key policy interventions formulated by the Kerala Government to support startups and measures to ensure inclusivity in innovation are now being adopted by other State Governments as well,” Sivasankar added.
 
“To ensure investment opportunities, KSUM has come out with an innovative Fund of Fund scheme to invest in Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs). A combined corpus in excess of Rs 1,000 crore of investment capital has been made available for startups through this scheme by committing less than 10 per cent of this amount into various AIFs,” said Gopinath.
 
“Investments worth more than double the deployed amount has already happened into Kerala based startups in the last one year. It is heartening to note that this early-stage fund has enabled some startups to grow substantially during last one year,” he added.
 
According to the report, of the 2,200 startups based in Kerala, as much as 13 per cent were registered in the first three quarters of 2019. Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram are top choices for startups in setting up their headquarters as about 59 per cent of startups are located in these two cities. Kochi accounts for 36 per cent of them, followed by Thiruvananthapuram with 23 per cent.
 
“In 2019, the Indian startup ecosystem recorded 553 funding deals, which together crossed the $9 billion funding mark. Interestingly, it is Kerala which has emerged as one of the top startup destinations of the country,” says the report.
 
“Around 75 per cent of the Kerala-based startups are product-driven companies and 25 per cent of startups are service-driven. Sector-wise, 28 per cent of startups offer IT and consulting services followed by health tech and edtech with 8 per cent and 7 per cent respectively,” it says.
 
About 41 per cent of the startups have two founders each while 39 per cent startups have a single founder. However, only five per cent of the startups have female founders. Moreover, 14 per cent of startups have parity in number of male and female employees.
 
“Kerala Government has earmarked investments of over Rs 1,000 crore in the state startups over the next four years,” it added.
 
NNN    

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Coast Dominators score upset win in Kochi leg of Champions Boat League

Coast Dominators (United Boat Club) on Chambakulam snakeboat win Race 5 of the Champions Boat League held at Kochi's Marine Drive in a nail-biting finish on October 5, 2019
Coast Dominators (United Boat Club) on Chambakulam snakeboat win Race 5 of the Champions Boat League held at Kochi's Marine Drive in a nail-biting finish on October 5, 2019
Cheered by a surging crowd of people from various parts of the globe, the fifth round of the Champions Boat League (CBL) in the tourist city of Kochi put the brakes on Tropical Titans’ winning spree, with Coast Dominators emerging first today.
 
Tropical Titans, which had topped in all the four previous legs of the pioneering CBL, finished second here in the race where all three finalists rowed neck-and-neck from the starting point to the end, much to the thrill of the 83,000 spectators. At the end of the photo-finish, Raging Rowers were declared third.
 
The three heats, too, by the shallow stretch of the Arabian Sea saw the nine snake-boats setting afire the 960-metre track along upscale Marine Drive. Coast Dominators (3:17.99) finished an inch or two ahead of Tropical Titans (3:18.16), while Raging Rowers clocked 3:18.41.
 
The fifth leg at the placid Ernakulam backwaters had its spirit no different from what the CBL teams displayed at the previous edition, rowing upstream along the Moovattpuzha river in semi-hilly Piravom, also of Ernakulam district. The trend of in high-suspense continued along the fringes of the Arabian Sea this evening, what with the first three teams decided within a range of mere 42 microseconds.
 
The Kochi round saw Tropical Titans timing the day’s best score at 3:12.14 to win the coveted ‘Nerolac Excel Fastest Team of the Day’ besides five extra points. At the end of CBL round-5, Tropical Titans continue atop the overall list with 68 points, followed by Coast Dominators (37 points) and Mighty Oars (34). Raging Rowers occupy the fourth position on the table with 33 points.
 
The three-month CBL being organised by Kerala Tourism began is slated to hold its finals on November 23 at Kollam. The inaugural race was at Alappuzha on August 31. Today’s races were between the first Goshree Bridge and Marine Drive boat jetty.
 
Standing fifth down the overall table now is Pride Chasers with 26 points. Backwater Knights (19 points) stand sixth, followed by Backwater Warriors (16) and Thunder Oars (12). At the bottom stands Backwater Ninjas (12).
 
The IGBR at Kochi also held a kayaking competition alongside the CBL-5, which had host a variety of entertainment activities like popular music by the famed Avial and a local band of college students, besides classical Bharatanatyam dance and the ritual performing art of Theyyam from upstate Malabar.
 
The day’s topper, secured Rs 5 lakh, followed by Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh for the second and third finishers. All participating teams are entitled to Rs 4 lakh per match.
 
The overall winner of the championships is entitled to Rs 25 lakh, followed by Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for the second and third prize winners.
 
Today’s prizes were given away by Kerala Tourism Secretary Rani George and film actor Mr Tovino Thomas, whose presence invited thunderous cheer from the gathering. Among those present at the function was Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran.
 
Just as the evening’s final got over, 200 volunteers of Tourism Professionals Club cleaned up the entire venue in a tacit message to avoid the use of plastic.
 
The CBL (www.championsboatleague.in), billed as a game-changing initiative, seeks to professionalise Kerala’s largely scattered snake-boat races, while commercialising them without losing the conventional spirit.
 
The schedule goes thus after the October 5 stage: October 12 (Kottappuram, Thrissur district), October 19 (Ponnani, Malappuram), October 26 (Kainakari, Alappuzha), November 2 (Pulinkunnu, Alappuzha district), November 9 (Kayamkulam, Alappuzha), November 16 (Kallada, Kollam district) and November 23 (Kollam, President’s Trophy Boat Race).
 
NNN
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Kochi leg of Champions Boat League to be held on October 5

ADVERTISEMENT
The Kochi leg of the trend-setting Champions Boat League (CBL), which will be the fifth of the 12-match series organised on the lines of IPL cricket, will be held here on October 5.
 
Kerala Tourism, which is organising the all-Saturday CBL with nine snake-boats that are vying for huge prize monies, expects a strong urban crowd at the October 5 round in downtown Ernakulam. 
 
With the weather finally clearing after a long bout of rains, spectators from various parts of the country and abroad are poised to converge at the 960-metre track along upscale Marine Drive of Kochi, known for its surge in tourist influx after monsoons.
 
The spirited performance of the CBL teams too has added to the curiosity quotient of the October 5 matches. The last two races of the league, especially, had seen the finals conclude in photo-finish for the snake-boats to enter the top three positions.
 
At the September 28 races in hilly Piravom, 30 km east of here, the competitors had to paddle vigorously upstream the gurgling Moovattupuzha river. That leg had Tropical Titans yet again finishing first, leaving Mighty Oars and Raging Rovers in second and third spots, respectively. The heats, too, were thrillers: in fact, the first six teams at the 900-metre Piravom track were decided within a range of just six seconds.
 
That has lent added suspense to the Kochi leg, amid Tropical Titans topping the overall list with 55 points, followed by Mighty Rowers (29 points) and Coast Dominators (27). 
 
Ahead of the Piravom league, at Karuvatta in Alappuzha district, the top winners (Tropical Titans) finished just a fraction of a second ahead of Coast Dominators. Mighty Oars ended third in that round held along the Leading Channel (near Harippad) on September 14.
 
“With the passage of each leg, the CBL is getting increasingly exciting,” says a top Kerala Tourism official. “The races are no more just about reviving some of the dysfunctional traditional races; they are proving to be ground for neck-and-neck competition.”
 
The innovative CBL, which was launched alongside the illustrious Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alappuzha on August 31, will have its final at Kollam on November 23, overlapping with the President’s Trophy Boat Race. The 10 races in between are spread across six districts of the coastal state.
 
The Kochi leg marks the end of a 27-year-old wait for the return of the Indira Gandhi Boat Race (IGBR). Tracing its origin to the year after the assassination of the then prime minister in 1984, the IGBR subsequently held random editions before coming to a standstill in 1992.
 
Come October 5, the nine CBL snake-boats will vie for honours along the stretch of the backwaters between the first Goshree Bridge and Marine Drive boat jetty. It will also host a variety of entertainment activities like popular music by the famed Avial and a local band of college students, besides classical Bharatanatyam dance and the ritual performing art of Theyyam from upstate Malabar.
 
The topper of the day will secure Rs 5 lakh, followed by Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh for finishing second and third, respectively. All participating teams are entitled to Rs 4 lakh per match.
 
The overall winner of the championships is entitled to Rs 25 lakh, followed by Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for the second and third prize winners, respectively.
 
The races are being broadcast live on Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Asianet Worldwide, Asianet Plus, Hotstar, ETV Andhra Pradesh and ETV Telangana beam the event for an hour from 4 pm.
 
The CBL (www.championsboatleague.in), billed as a game-changing initiative, seeks to professionalise Kerala’s largely scattered snake-boat races, while commercialising them without losing the conventional spirit.
 
Tickets can be booked online through ‘Book my Show’ platform, besides outlets that facilitate spot purchase of tickets. The prices range from Rs 200 to 2,000.
 
The schedule goes thus after the October 5 stage: October 12 (Kottappuram, Thrissur district), October 19 (Ponnani, Malappuram), October 26 (Kainakari, Alappuzha), November 2 (Pulinkunnu, Alappuzha district), November 9 (Kayamkulam, Alappuzha), November 16 (Kallada, Kollam district) and November 23 (Kollam, President’s Trophy Boat Race).
 
NNN
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

MPEDA opens Seafood India signature stall at Kochi airport

ADVERTISEMENT
The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) opened today its second signature stall at the Cochin International Airport under its "Seafood India" project launched ten months ago.
 
The new stall at the airport premises in Nedumbassery, 40 km north of here, will sell ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat value-added products from 10 exporters, a press release from MPEDA said.
 
MPEDA had started the Seafood India signature stall in December last year when Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu had inaugurated the 1700-square-feet facility at Panampally Nagar in Ernakulam.
 
Today, that endeavour found its second chapter with the opening of the stall at the airport. MPEDA Chairman K S Srinivas said that the signature stall is opened in the Cochin airport as a part of MPEDA’s brand promotion campaign for Indian seafood, considering the airport’s importance in the traffic of international tourists as well as non-resident keralites.
 
“Moreover, MPEDA signature stall helps the domestic consumers also get familiarised to export quality value added seafood products.”
 
The stall at the Panampilly Nagar ‘Seafood India’ facility currently displays around 100 value-added products of various companies across India. The items for sale span a range of ready-to-eat, ready-to-fry and ready-to-cook items.
 
MPEDA will set up similar signature stalls in other international airports as well, Srinivas added.
 
‘Seafood India’ stall in the MPEDA headquarters at Panampilly Nagar, exhibit products developed by prominent fisheries research institutions such as CMFRI, CIFT and NIFPHATT besides selling and displaying value-added marine products of exporters. It also provides literature on the activities of MPEDA and its societies such as NETFISH, RGCA and NaCSA. Enabled with information kiosks to browse the details about each product, the stall provides information ranging from its production, processing, cooking and nutritional content.
 
MPEDA, established in 1972 as a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry, coordinates with different central and state government establishments engaged in fishery production and allied activities. It works for increasing the exports of marine products through interventions in fishing, aquaculture, processing, marketing, extension, quality  assurance, R&D and training in various aspects.
 
NNN
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Artist A Ramachandran’s 27-day Kochi show to begin on October 5

A Ramachandran
A Ramachandran
Select paintings and sculptures of world-renowned artist A Ramachandran will be on display at a 27-day exhibition hosted by the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi (KLA) here from October 5-31, with a focus on the octogenarian’s latest works.
 
The show, titled ‘The Mahatma and the Lotus Pond’, in Ernakulam will feature 91 works of the master. The event, coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, is being organised by Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery (VAG) and curated by art scholar R Siva Kumar.
 
The venue will be the KLA-owned Durbar Hall Gallery, which had held in 2013 Ramachandran’s first-ever exhibition in his state. The artist-author, born in Attingal near Thiruvananthapuram, is a Padma Bhushan awardee living in Delhi for more than half a century, after having done his studies at the famed Santiniketan in West Bengal.
 
Lotus ponds have been a recurring theme in Ramachandran’s works since the mid-1980s, and the Kochi show will feature the latest in that series during the past three years. It will also feature a sculpture of Gandhi that the artist did in 2016, according to Prof Siva Kumar of Santiniketan.
 
“The journey of a serious artist like Ramachandran is a constantly evolving project,” notes the curator. “In a sense, it is incremental growth in his depth of engagement and enrichment of the original ideas rather than dramatic shifts that mark his work.”
 
Overall, the exhibition will have eight oil paintings, 56 watercolour-on-paper, 25 drawings and two sculptures.
 
 VAG’s earlier Ramachandran show in Kochi was in August 2013, when the gallery had brought 100 of his ‘Selected Works from 1964-2013’, with Prof Siva Kumar as the curator.
 
The Monsoon wind; Oil on canvas by A. Ramachandran; 78” x 192”; 2019
The Monsoon wind; Oil on canvas by A. Ramachandran; 78” x 192”; 2019
Ramachandran, 84, did his Masters in Malayalam literature before leaving for West Bengal in 1957 to pursue the study of art at Visva-Bharati University under masters such as Ramkinkar Baij, Nandalal Bose and Benodebehari Mukherjee.
 
The artist shifted to Delhi in 1964, and went on to teach at Jamia Millia Islamia in the national capital for 27 years before taking voluntary retirement. In 2002, he was elected a Fellow at the Lalit Kala Akademi.
 
The next year, he was awarded the Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram and, in 2005, conferred the country’s third-highest civilian honour, Padma Bhushan.
 
NNN
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Maradu flat owners' eviction may take time as issues surface

ADVERTISEMENT
The residents of the Maradu flats complex, set for demolition, had promised to move out latest by October 3 but now it might be delayed for a while as they claim that the alternate places to which they were to be moved are not available.
 
Speaking to the media here on Monday, the flat residents complained that they were given a few contact numbers where the district authorities had arranged for their accommodation, but none exists.
 
"We were shocked to be told when we contacted the numbers given to us, that there are no such flats to be given. Some of them even threatened us not to call again. If this is the response, then the October 3 deadline will have to be extended," said angry residents.
 
The 240 families who occupy 356 flats in the four buildings in the Maradu complex, had promised the district authorities on Sunday that they will be moving out latest by Thursday.
 
The apex court had on September 6 ordered demolition of the complex by September 20 for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone rules.
 
On Sunday morning, the flat residents had begun an indefinite protest, but called it off at around 3 p.m. after talks with top district authorities led to an amicable solution, which included moving them to alternate accommodations.
 
Yet another issue that has now surfaced is that when the Maradu flats complex is demolished, would the neighbourhood suffer any damage. If so, they should be given adequate compensation and it should come in the form of an order from the authorities.
 
Following this demand, Kochi Sub-Collector S. K. Singh, appointed as special officer in charge of the demolition, will be discussing the matter with the concerned people in the second week of October. He will first finalise the tender for the demolition to one of the more than two dozen companies who have come forward to do the job.
 
The Supreme Court has directed the Kerala government to disburse Rs 25 lakh as interim compensation to each flat owner within four weeks and recover it from the builders.
 
The top court also appointed Kerala High Court's retired judge K. Balakrishnan Nair to head a three-member committee which will include a technical and civil expert to decide on any increase in the compensation amount, and to oversee the demolition.
 
According to the affidavit submitted by the Kerala government in the top court, the demolition will be completed in 90 days and the debris will be cleared in another 30 days.
 
NNN

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Kochi flats demolition on schedule, residents to move out

ADVERTISEMENT
The residents of the Maradu flats complex, set for demolition, on Sunday decided to move out of their homes after a meeting with Ernakulam district authorities, paving the way for the implementation of the Supreme Court directive.
 
The total of 240 families who occupy 356 flats in the four buildings in the Maradu complex, will be moving out latest by Thursday.
 
The apex court had on September 6 ordered demolition of the complex by September 20 for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone rules.
 
On Sunday morning, the flat residents had begun an indefinite protest, but called it off at around 3 p.m. after talks with top district authorities, who had reached the spot, led to an amicable solution.
 
Talking to the media after the meeting, a representative of the flat owners said that they had decided to end their protest and move out.
 
"The discussions were fruitful and most of our demands have been agreed to by the district authorities, who will find suitable alternate accommodation for us besides paying the rent. Hence we have decided to end our protest and cooperate with the authorities so as the Supreme Court orders are adhered to," one of the representatives said.
 
Following the agreement, the district authorities made arrangements to restore the electricity and water connections to the complex.
 
The Supreme Court has directed the Kerala government to disburse Rs 25 lakh as interim compensation to each flat owner within four weeks and later recover it from the builders.
 
The top court also appointed Kerala High Court's retired judge K. Balakrishnan Nair to head a three-member committee which will include a technical and civil expert to decide on any increase in the compensation amount, and to oversee the demolition.
 
Kochi Sub-Collector S. K. Singh , appointed as special officer in charge of demolition, confirmed that several companies who have expertise in demolition, have expressed their willingness to participate in the tender process and it will be done soon.
 
Meanwhile, Crime Branch chief Tomin Thachenkery arrived at the complex on Sunday, as the Kerala government have entrusted it with  the probe into the entire episode.
 
According to the affidavit submitted by the Kerala government in the top court, the demolition would be completed in 90 days and the debris would be cleared in another 30 days.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Tropical Titans win Piravom leg of Champions Boat League

ADVERTISEMENT
Rowing vigorously against the flow of water in the only such round of the three-month Champions Boat League (CBL), nine snake boats splish-splashed the Moovattupuzha river today, with Tropical Titans yet again finishing first, leaving Mighty Oars and Raging Rovers in second and third spots, respectively.
 
The fourth leg at the bustling semi-hilly Piravom saw further hotting up of the 12-match series akin to IPL cricket, where this weekend’s races had the first six teams decided within a range of mere six seconds. The topper timed 3:11.08, followed by the second and third finishers clocking 3:13.33 and 3:13.50 respectively, along the 900-metre track in the evening’s final.
 
Tropical Titans clocked the leg’s best timing with 3:07.80, thus earning the coveted ‘Nerolac Excel Fastest Team of the Day’ and five extra points in the league that is slated to hold its finals on November 23 at down-state Kollam. Only at Piravom, 30 km east of Kochi, the boat league has the racers rowing upstream, drawing huge participation from the local populace.
 
The CBL, being organised by Kerala Tourism, has all its coming Saturdays packed with races coinciding with the state’s traditional water festivals. Today’s overlapped with the 1958-initiated Piravom Boat Race, and also saw competitions between the smaller odivallam canoes.
 
The next leg is in the state’s biggest city of Kochi — on October 5 at Marine Drive in downtown Ernakulam, bringing the CBL to a cosmopolitan population.
 
At the end of today’s Piravom CBL round, Tropical Titans continue atop the overall list with 55points, followed by Mighty Rowers (29 points) and Coast Dominators (27).
 
Coast Dominators finished fourth (3:14.66) by topping the second losers’ final. Backwater Knights put up an unexpectedly brilliant show (3:15.10) to finish fifth, while Pride Chases stood sixth(3:17.91).
 
In the losers’ final, Thunder Oars (3:36.87) finished first, thus making it to the seventh position. Backwater Ninjas (3:28.35) now stand eight and Backwater Warriors (3:29.67) ninth.
 
The previous CBL round at Karuvatta in Alappuzha district had the top finalists finishing the race with the difference of a fraction of second. The victors Tropical Titans had then timed 4:12.11, inches ahead of Coast Dominators (4:12.90) and Mighty Oars (4:13.80) who emerged second and third, respectively along the one-km track.
 
Tropical Titans, as today’s topper, secured Rs 5 lakh, followed by Rs 3 lakh (Mighty Oars) and Rs 1 lakh (Raging Rowers) for finishing second and third, respectively. All participating teams are entitled to Rs 4 lakh per match.
 
The overall winner of the championships is entitled to Rs 25 lakh, followed by Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for the second and third prize winners.
 
Prizes were given away to the winners of the CBL fourth round, which was inaugurated by Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran. Present at the function were Thomas Chazhiyadan, MP and Anoop Jacob, MLA besides ex-legislator M J Jacob, functionaries of the local civic body and Arjuna awardee volleyball player Tom Joseph and filmmaker Sajeev Pazhoor.
 
Tropical Titans (traditionally Pallathuruthi Boat Club, rowing the Nadubhagom snake boat) had won the first round of the CBL on August 31, also finishing first in the 67th Nehru Trophy Boat Race held that evening at Alappuzha’s sprawling Punnamada Lake. They repeated the show on September 7 at the Thazhathangadi Boat Race in Kottayam and a week later at Karuvatta near Harippad.
 
The races are being broadcast live and will continue to be so during the rest of the legs. Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Asianet Worldwide, Asianet Plus, Hotstar, ETV Andhra Pradesh and ETV Telangana beam the event for an hour from 4 pm.
  
The CBL (www.championsboatleague.in), billed as a game-changing initiative, seeks to professionalise Kerala’s largely scattered snake-boat races, while commercialising them without losing the conventional spirit.
 
Tickets can be booked online through ‘Book my Show’ platform, besides 20 outlets that facilitate spot purchase of tickets. The prices range from Rs 200 to 2,000.
 
The schedule goes thus after the October 5 stage: October 12 (Kottappuram, Thrissur district), October 19 (Ponnani, Malappuram), October 26 (Kainakari, Alappuzha), November 2 (Pulinkunnu, Alappuzha district), November 9 (Kayamkulam, Alappuzha), November 16 (Kallada, Kollam district) and November 23 (Kollam, President’s Trophy Boat Race). 
 
NNN
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Congress announces candidates for four Kerala Assembly bye-elections

ADVERTISEMENT
The central Congress leadership on Saturday cleared four names for the Kerala Assembly bye-elections, scheduled on October 21.
 
While K. Mohankumar, ex-MLA, will contest the Vatiyoorkavu seat, Kochi deputy mayor T. J. Vinod has been named for the Ernakulam constituency, senior party leader Shanimol Usman for Aroor, and former Pathanamthitta district party chief A. P. Mohanraj for Konni.
 
At the Manjeswaram constituency, the fifth seat, the Congress ally Indian Union Muslim League is contesting and its candidate has already begun campaigning.
 
The bye-elections were necessitated because of resignation of three sitting Congress MLAs -- K. Muraleedharan, Hibi Eden and Adoor Prakash -- as well as CPI-M leader A.M. Ariff. They were elected to the Lok Sabha in May.
 
Usman had contested against Ariff in the Alappuzha Lok Sabha constituency. She had garnered more votes in the Aroor Assembly segment.
 
Monday is the last day for filing of nominations. The CPI-M has already named its candidates, but the BJP-led NDA's list is yet to be announced.
 
IANS

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Kerala Left breaks K. M. Mani's 5-decade legacy with Pala win

ADVERTISEMENT
The "Pala Wall" built in this assembly constituency by legendary Kerala Congress (Mani) leader K. M. Mani was finally broken on Friday by the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF)-backed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Mani C. Kappen who won the Pala bye-election by a margin of 2,943 votes.
 
The bye-election was necessitated by the death of K M Mani, the sitting legislator, who passed away in April. Mani had represented Pala since 1965 and the constituency will see a new MLA after a gap of over five decades.
 
During the hectic election campaign, Kappen had often said: "One Mani will replace another Mani".
 
Kappen had maintained a lead right from the start of counting, which at one point crossed 5,000, only to see the Congress-led UDF candidate Jose Tom Pullikunnel lowering it to below 3,000.
 
Kappen ended up securing 54,137 votes, Pullikunnel got 51,194 and the BJP saw its votes drop below 20,000 to touch 18,044.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan thanked the electorate of Pala for giving an excellent victory to the Left-backed candidate.
 
"This result is going to give us a good impetus in our efforts of serving the people here and will help us to serve the people even better," Vijayan said.
 
CPI-M State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the media in the state capital that the result is a reward for Kappen who has been with Pala all along.
 
"In the recent Lok Sabha polls, the UDF candidate secured over 33,000 votes lead from Pala assembly constituency. The political foundation of the UDF has been shattered. If you look back, Pala was one constituency which has never been won by the Left. I call upon all our supporters to be more humble and work hard for the coming five assembly bye-elections," Balakrishnan said.
 
Former Chief Minister and Congress veteran Oommen Chandy, whose home turf is Kottayam and who led the UDF campaign, said that from the first information coming from the counting showed that the BJP's vote share had dropped considerably.
 
"This was not what we or any UDF supporter was expecting, but now that the results are out, we will introspect seriously on what happened. But, what is glaring is the BJP's vote share has dropped considerably," said Chandy.
 
Surrounded by supporters at his home, a beaming Kappen said he was certain of his win and history had been created.
 
"The trends are as expected and the political slavery of Pala of 52 years has ended. Everyone was wanting a change and I got votes from all parties. This is the pointer for the five assembly bye-elections and this is a vote for the governance of the Chief Minister," said Kappen.
 
The Kerala Congress (Mani) is the third-largest ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and had named Pullikunnel as its candidate. However, differences within the party led Pullikunnel to opt out and contest as an Independent supported by the UDF.
 
The vanquished party has seen differences of opinion between Mani's son, Jose K. Mani, a Rajya Sabha member, and senior party legislator P. J. Joseph, both of whom have been vying for the post of the party chairman since the death of Mani.
 
"We accept the verdict and our party got the full support of the UDF. We will come back strongly, as, during elections, victory and defeat are common. We will bounce back with more vigour," Jose K. Mani said.
 
Sitting at the residence of the late Mani, a dejected Pullikunnel said: "The thief is inside our ship," hinting that he had failed to get votes from the areas he expected.
 
"I accept the verdict and I would say, this is what God had wanted and I accept it. We will see what has happened," said Pullikunnel.
 
Of the total 1,79,107 electorate, 1,27,939 cast their vote on Monday to decide the fate of 13 candidates.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Kerala CPI-M announces candidates for October 21 bypolls

ADVERTISEMENT
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Thursday announced its candidates for the October 21 bye-elections to five Assembly constituencies in Kerala.
 
The five candidates are Thiruvananthapuram Mayor V. K. Prasanth (Vatiyoorkavu), Manu Roy (Ernakulam), K. U. Janish Kumar (Konni), Manu C. Pulikan (Aroor) and M. Shankar Rai (Manjeswaram).
 
Roy is being fielded as a Left-backed Independent candidate. He is a lawyer by profession and son of veteran journalist K. M. Roy.
 
While announcing the list, CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that they were not a party which decides candidates by their caste, community or other such things.
 
"The result of these bye-elections is not going to make any impact on the present Left government," he said.
 
In the 140 member Kerala Assembly, the ruling Left government has the support of 90 MLAs, the Congress-led opposition has 43 with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having one legislator, while six seats were currently vacant.
 
The October 21 bypolls were necessitated after three sitting Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) MLAs, K. Muraleedharan (Vatiyoorkavu), Hibi Eden (Ernakulam), Adoor Prakash (Konni) and CPI-M MLA A.M. Ariff (Aroor), won the Lok Sabha elections in May and resigned from their respective Assembly seats.
 
Muraleedharan won from the Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency, Eden from Ernakulam, Prakash from Attingal and Ariff secured the Alappuzha seat.
 
Manjeswaram Assembly seat fell vacant due to the death of its MLA and senior Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader P.B. Abdul Razack in 2018.
 
At present, except the Aroor Assembly constituency, the rest are with the Congress-led UDF.
 
While the IUML has announced M. K. Kamaruddin as its candidate for the Manjeswaram seat, the Congress and the BJP are yet to name theirs.
 
The last date for filing nominations is September 30.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Water, power suppply to Maradu flats snapped, residents begin protest

ADVERTISEMENT
Electricity and power supply to the unauthorised Maradu housing complex here was snapped in the wee hours of Thursday forcing irate residents to launch a protest. The residents refuse to leave the complex come what may.
 
The Maradu complex houses 240 families in 343 flats constructed by four builders in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. The Supreme Court had set a deadline of September 20 for the demolition of the flats and it will pass its final order in this regard on Friday.
 
According to the plan of action presented by Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose to raze the complex, the eviction of residents will start Sunday and will end on October 3. The complex demolition would begin October 11 and is expected to end by February next year.
 
Under the plan, families living in one square kilometre of the complex, would be rehabilitated till the demolition is complete. It has also been decided to register criminal cases against the builders.
 
Kochi Sub-Collector S. K. Singh has been appointed Special Officer to oversee the demolition.
 
Meanwhile, the hapless residents have written to the Chief Justice of India and the Human Rights Commission about their situation.
 
"We are not going to go anywhere and what they did in the middle of the night is a violation of all human rights," said an angry housewife.
 
"We are human beings, why are the authorities behaving so inhumanly?" said another resident.
 
"They earlier said the connections would be snapped last evening. But see what they did. They cut the supplies in pitch dark," grieved another.
 
Former Congress minister and local resident K. Babu, who arrived at the premises, said the government had a moral obligation to protect the residents and they should be treated with empathy.
 
"Snapping of utilities is an inhuman act. The state government should see that the wrongdoers in this construction should be taken to task. The poor residents have done no wrong," said Babu.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

SC raps Kerala over Maradu flats, residents hopeful

ADVERTISEMENT
Even as the Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government in Kerala for inaction in the Maradu flat demolition case, the flat residents are hopeful of getting a reprieve on Friday.
 
The Maradu complex comprises 356 flats in five buildings and houses 240 families. The apex court had on September 6 ordered its demolition by September 20 for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.
 
On Monday, the Kerala government sought the help of top lawyer Harish Salve hoping that it could swing things in the residents' favour, but it failed to have any impact.
 
However, reacting to the happenings in Delhi, a flat resident expressed hope for a positive outcome. "We are waiting to hear what the court will say on Friday," said a resident.
 
Meanwhile, Kerala Local-Self Government Minister A. C. Moideen said the state government had nothing but to abide by the apex court directive. "The due process of law has set in and we have nothing else but to abide by the apex court directive and will now wait for it," said Moideen.
 
But Ernakulam Lok Sabha member Hibi Eden blamed the Kerala government for letting the issue reach this stage. "This has now become a humanitarian issue for the residents. But there was a lapse on the part of the government. It did nothing to get compensation for residents," said Eden.
 
The top court linked the loss of lives in Kerala floods to the situation, saying the natural calamity was due to the government failing to act against illegal structures. "You are playing with nature, even in high tide area, nothing is left," observed the Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra.
 
At one stage, the court said it could ask for a survey of the entire Kerala CRZ areas to ascertain illegal structures. "We will not spare any one responsible for killing people all over Kerala," said the court.
 
The court also noted that devastation, due to natural calamities, was taking place all across leading to loss of lives. It's duty of the state to protect the people, it added.
 
The court told Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose, who appeared in person, his affidavit didn't indicate the government's intent to implement the demolition order. Apparently, it looked the state government was acting in defiance, it added.
 
"This can't happen in a civilised country, this is colossal loss. It's a patent breach of law," said the court making a strong observation on the conduct of the state government.
 
"Thousand of crores of properties were lost and so many people died due to flood in Kerala. Still so many structures were coming up in the coastal region in Kerala," said the court.
 
The court has set Friday for the next hearing, but pointed out that it might pass a detailed order earlier.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 
Syndicate content
© Copyright 2012 NetIndian. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of NetIndian content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of NetIndian Media Corporation. Write to info[AT]netindian[DOT]in for permission to use content. Read detailed Terms of Use.