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Kochi

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. 
 
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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.
 
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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
 
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Malayalam actors Dileep, Kavya Madhavan get married in Kochi

 
Malayalam actors Dileep, Kavya Madhavan get married
Well-known actors Dileep and Kavya Madhavan, one of the most popular screen pairs in Malayalam cinema, got married at a ceremony at a hotel in the city this morning.
 
Dileep, 48, born as Gopalakishnan Pillai, had married another popular actress Manju Warrier on October 20, 1998 but they got divorced on January 31, 2015. They have a daughter, Meenakshi.
 
Kavya, 32, was earlier married to non-resident Indian businessman Nishal Chandra on February 9, 2009. She moved to Kuwait with him, but returned a few months later and did not return. The couple agreed for a mutual divorce, which was granted by a court on May 30, 2011.
 
Only close friends and relatives of the couple were present at the wedding ceremony, which took place at a hotel here.
 
Among those present on the occasion were Malayalam superstar Mammootty, actors Jayaram and Janardanan, and actresses Meera Jasmine, Menaka, Chippi, Jomol, Kaviyoor Ponamma and K P A C Lalitha.
 
The couple was due to leave for Dubai later today, sources said.
 
Dileep and Kavya were often linked together in the media in the past few years, mainly because of their excellent on-screen chemistry. The two have appeared together in about 20 movies, most of them big hits.
 
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Dileep told newspersons today that Kavya had nothing to do with the breakdown of his previous marriage. "The only crime we have committed is that we have acted together in some 20 movies," he said.
 
He also said that he had decided at some stage that, if he ever got married again, it would be to Kavya in view of the pain she had suffered because of all the unfounded rumours about them. He had also made it clear several times in the past that his marriage plans would depend entirely on his daughter.
 
Meenakshi, who was present at the wedding, told reporters that it was she who persuaded her father to marry Kavya.
 
Dileep, who started out as a mimicry artiste, is also a singer, film producer and entrepreneur. He has acted in more than 130 Malayalam films.
 
Kavya had made her debut as a child artiste in Pookkalam Varavayi (1991) and is now one of the top actresses in Malayalam cinema. She has won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress twice. She also writes poetry and is a singer and a trained dancer.
 
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French funding agency AFD to provide 175 m euro loan for Phase II of Kochi Metro

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Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), the French funding agency, has agreed to provide a loan of around 175 million euros for Kochi Metro Rail’s extension from the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to Infopark via Kakkanad.
 
A press release from Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) said that, as a very special case, AFD had also agreed to give the loan for a longer tenure of 25 years, at an interest rate of 1.35% (linked to EURIBOR).  
 
The normal tenure for such loans for urban infrastructure is presently 20 years, the release said.
 
“ It is a matter of pride for Kochi Metro Rail Limited that AFD has agreed to this offer. This is an indication of the funding agency’s faith in KMRL’s capabilities and its objectives,” said Mr. Elias George, Managing Director, KMRL.
 
The loan also includes a component of 22 million euros for non-motorised transportation works at 20 stations; pedestrianisation of M.G. Road; and junction improvement in Alwaye, Edapally and Vyttila, the release said.
 
The 7th Annual Negotiation Meeting between the Ministry of Finance, Government of India and AFD took place in Paris, France on November 9-10.
 
The meeting was attended by Mr. Elias George and Mr. S. Selvakumar, Joint Secretary (ABC), Ministry of Finance.  The meeting included a review of the present status of the Kochi Metro Rail project, which is funded by AFD, as well as the proposed extension from JLN Stadium to Infopark via Kakkanad, over a distance of 11.2 kms, at a cost of Rs. 2024 crore.
 
The Urban Transport Expert of AFD’s Head Office stated at the meeting that, in AFD’s assessment, the Kochi Metro Rail project is, as of now, the lowest cost metro rail project worldwide, while at the same time adhering to global quality standards.
 
It was also decided in the meeting that, even though the Kakkanad extension proposal is yet to be formally approved by the Government of India, AFD would, as a very special case, to procure all their formal Board approvals even before the extension proposal is administratively sanctioned by the Government of India, so that no time is lost in launching the implementation of the project.  
 
It is expected that AFD’s Board will clear the proposal in December 2016, the release added.
 
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Kerala only state from India listed in Nat Geo's Around the World in 24 Hours

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Kakkathuruthu, a tiny spectacular island in Kerala’s tangled backwaters, finds a place among select stunning destinations across the world that hold appeal to the adventurous traveller. 
 
Nestled along the Kerala coast, the emerald-fringed "Island of Crows" has been listed in National Geographic's 'Around the World in 24 Hours', a photographic tour of travel-worthy spots across the world. 
 
"Kerala is known for its rustic beauty and an incredibly picturesque landscape, verdant hills and quiet backwaters, which attract tourists from across the world. It is a matter of pride for us to be listed by Nat Geo, which is among the leading magazines in the world," said Kerala Tourism Minister A C Moideen. 
 
The charm of the small island with sea green waters, lush coconut groves and absence of tarred roads, located in Alappuzha, has been captured by the magazine's photographers during the time of dusk when "the shadows lengthen and the sky shifts from pale blue to sapphire."
 
In a graphic description, the magazine says the sunset in Kerala is greeted by a series of rituals — sari-clad women head home in skiffs, fishermen light lamps and cast nets into the lagoon and bats swoop across the horizon snapping up moths.
 
"If dawn is awakening and daytime illumination, then twilight is transcendence, a final burst of vitality before darkness falls," said NatGeo Expeditions. 
 
Beginning with hunting the aurora borealis in the northern lights zone in Norway at 12 midnight, the list includes photos of Hawaii at 5 am, Paris at 6 am, San Francisco at 7 am, Abu Dhabi at 8 am, Melbourne at 9 am, New York at 8 pm, Budapest (Hungary) at 10 pm and Kerala at 6 pm, among others, offering a peek into how different places in the world look like.
 
"The recognition is rewarding and will add to our efforts to introduce and showcase different destinations in the nature-endowed state," said Principal Secretary (Tourism) Dr Venu V.
 
Situated not far from the ancient port city of Kochi, the island of Kakkathuruthu is connected to mainland only through traditional boats. The quiet island, surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, offers a haven for birdwatchers. 
 
Kerala Tourism Director U V Jose said, "It is absolutely exhilarating to see the small island included in the travel recommendations. It is not only a reaffirmation of Kerala’s natural endowments but also a huge recommendation to international tourists for a tryst with the coastal state.”
 
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Kerala govt. working to ensure minimal disruption to tourism: Vijayan

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today said that, while it was not feasible to avoid hartals in the state outright, his government would do its utmost to ensure there was only minimal disruption to tourism activities.
 
Inaugurating the ninth edition of Kerala Travel Mart (KTM), the Chief Minister was responding to a request for tourism-friendly policies with regards to hartals and excise regulations made by KTM Society President Abraham George during his welcome address at the Le Meridien Convention Centre.
 
Noting that it was important that visitors leave with the best impression of the state, Mr. Vijayan also said mechanisms to stop open defecation were being implemented with a stated deadline of November 1 – the official start of the tourist season.
 
“By November 1, it is expected that the policy would be fully implemented in districts across the state,” he said, voicing the benefits of destination-friendly initiatives like waste management to the state’s tourism enterprises – known for professionalism and high quality of service delivery.
 
To preserve Kerala’s reputation as the Ayurveda capital, the Chief Minister said, “Only trained professionals should be permitted to work in such an important sector. The government is mooting proposals to bring out an Ayurveda training centre under its purview.”
 
Terming KTM a shining example of a public-private partnership, Mr. Vijayan said it was a matter of pride that an initiative started in Kerala by the government is counted among the best of its type. 
 
He made a special mention the state’s award-winning ‘Responsible Tourism’ initiatives and the Muziris and Spice Route projects – two important sectors for Kerala’s tourism industry and the themes for KTM 2016.
 
Stating that Kerala had followed a special path in tourism, Mr. Vijayan said, “Our industry is dominated by small business owners who have successfully presented the different products and experiences of Kerala before the world and KTM brings under one roof almost all tourism stakeholders in the state.”
 
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“The main aim of KTM is to help the tourism sector raise earnings by about Rs 5,000 crore in the coming five years. In this respect, it is encouraging to hear that the Mart is expected to witness around 25,000 business meetings between buyers and sellers. I hope that this Mart will enable buyers to make new relationships and partnerships, create new packages and bring more visitors to Kerala,” the Chief Minister said.
 
The ceremony was presided over by State Minister for Tourism and Co-operation A.C. Moideen who said the Mart was important to distribute the benefits of tourism across the state – a stated goal of the government.
 
“Tourism can become a major catalyst for social change by providing opportunities for employment, preserving traditional ways of life and engaging with local communities,” he said, expressing hope that KTM would open new avenues for success for both the state and its people. 
 
Citing the importance of tourism to the state – accounting for 10 per cent of the state’s GDP and providing employment to three million people, Principal Secretary (Tourism) Dr Venu V. said, “The Mart is seen as the spearhead for inclusive, accessible growth for tourism in the state as well as a showcase for the vibrancy of Kerala as a tourist destination.”   
 
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First call of a car carrier ship at Cochin Port

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The first call of a car carrier ship, M. V. Dresden, took place at Cochin Port today.
 
The ship, registered in Cyprus, has obtained license for coastal run between ports in India. Operating on the Ennore-Cochin-Kandla-Cochin-Ennore route, the ship connects the automobile production hubs in Tamil Nadu in the East coast and Gujarat and Haryana in the West of India.
 
The ship has 13 decks with the capacity to carry 4,300 cars. It will be landing 500 cars at Cochin.
 
The operator of the car carrier is SICAL Logistics based in Chennai, which is a leading player in bulk operations in many ports and operates a coal terminal at Ennore.
 
The car carriers, which are roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ships, are highly productive with automobiles being driven in and out of the ship.
 
The operator will be carrying the vehicles of Renault, Ford, Hyundai and Toyota from Tamil Nadu and Honda and Ford from Gujarat. The operator is also targeting Maruti. The steamer agent of the car carrier at Cochin is Neo Logistics.
 
Car handling requires clean surroundings and storage area of high quality. Cochin Port has identified the Q7 berth at Ernakulam Wharf for handling the ship, and a clean yard of 4,000 sq m area at Q7 is allotted for storage of cars until delivery to the dealers, which is normally expected in a week’s time.
 
Car handling is highly prestigious, and at adequate volumes could be a steady source of income of about Rs.3 to 6 crore per annum to the port in addition to the significant contribution in environmental safety by eliminating thousands of trucks from the road and the resultant emission savings.
 
Kerala is a major consumption centre of cars with annual sales of about 1,50,000 to 1,80,000 units, which is highly significant in determining logistic patterns.
 
The present mode of movement of automobiles for internal consumption in India is dominated by huge car carrier trucks plying on congested roads, and Kerala is no exception.
 
Therefore, the potential coastal transport market segment could be strong; 50 ship calls a year with 1,000 cars per call will be required if 30% of the Kerala market shifts to the coastal transport mode.
 
The prospect of Cochin Port attracting coastal movement of cars, with major automobile manufacturers moving cars to dealers in Kerala from factories in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Haryana, assumes significance in this regard.
 
The new business is the culmination of sustained efforts by Cochin Port. The port has offered rebates in port charges in advance towards attracting the business; concessional wharfage of Rs.500 per car and Rs. 900 per truck, and 50% rebate in the notified vessel related charges, an official press release said.
 
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SiGNS short film and documentary festival to begin in Kochi on September 28

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The 10th edition of the SiGNS short film and documentary festival, oganised by the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI), Kerala in association with the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF, will begin here on September 28.
 
The five-day event will screen 200 short films and documentaries at the Ernakulam Town Hall, a press release from the organisers said.
 
Meanwhile, as part of effort to promote the festival, two-day touring talkies have started at college campus and other venues in and around Kochi.
 
Touring talkies were held at Union Christian College Aluva,  Amritha College, Edappally, Ernakulam Public Library, and Changampuzha Park, Edappally on Thursday. Screening will be held at St.Alberts college, Government Law College, Maharajas College, Sacred Heart College, Thevara and Vasco de Gama Square,Fort Kochi on Friday.
 
The guest of honour during the screening at UC College was Shanavas K Bavakkutty, director of  the movie Kismath.
 
The 10th edition of SiGNS festival will feature a retrospective on the works of Rakesh Sharma and Pramod Pati, a homage section to Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami , litterateur Mahasweta Devi and film-maker Bala Kailasam, a lengthy documentary series named ‘Director’s Pick’ , a package of documentary films from Africa named ‘Artists Cinema ’, a short fiction package curated by  Premendra Majumdar and ‘Best of Insights’, a collection of award winning short films from Haiku film Festival.
 
Short films and documentaries from 25 Indian languages will be screened under the Competition and Focus sections. Seminars and open forums with filmmakers from around the country will also take place on the sidelines, the release added.
 
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Ansari voices concern over decline in state funding in key social sector programmes

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Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari yesterday expressed concern over the decline in State funding in the key social sector programmes, including education.
 
Inaugurating the 4th phase of the ‘Vidyadhanam’ project here, Mr Ansari said that, in addition to increasing the government investments in education, it was also essential to maintain the funding levels of other social welfare schemes, especially those operating in the rural sector.
 
This would ensure that that falling incomes of parents do not impact the educational prospects of school children, he said.
 
The Vice-President said the Vidyadhanam, piloted by Prof. KV Thomas, MP, is a unique project, as it not only provides financial incentive and scholarship to bright students from Government and aided schools, but also encourages cultivation of life skills, such as thrift and financial inclusion.
 
He said Prof. Thomas, throughout his public life and in his various capacities, has championed the cause of the socially and economically disadvantaged sections, particularly by enhancing equitable access to education.
 
“I am informed that in addition to the present Vidyadhanam project, Prof. Thomas has also spearheaded several other projects aimed at improving the quality and accessibility of education in the district of Ernakulam. One of these includes setting up of a digital library to make available online journals and books to the needy students of the district,” he added.
 
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“I am informed that in the fourth phase of the project, some 2,000 school children who pass their higher secondary school examinations with a grade of A+, will be provided with a corpus amount of Rs. 2,500 each, which would be deposited in an account in their name with the State Bank of India.
 
"The students are then encouraged to save and augment this seed amount, which in turn, becomes available to them when they seek to pursue higher education,” he added.
 
Mr Ansari noted that the spread of education in Kerala has led to enhancement of individual freedom, created a better climate for gender equity and led to much faster reduction in income poverty than in many other States.
 
The remarkable performance of Kerala on the various socio-economic indicators, which approximate more those of the developed countries than developing ones, is a testimony to the transformative power of mass education, he added.
 
Kerala Governor Justice (Retd.) P. Sathasivam and Minister for Forests, Animal Husbandry and Zoos K. Raju were among those present at the ceremony.
 
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Railways cancel more trains, divert others following Kerala derailment

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The Southern Railway today cancelled some train and diverted others following yesterday's derailment of 12 coaches of the 16347 Thiruvananthapuram - Mangaluru Express near Karukutty station, near Aluva, in Kerala.
 
No injuries or casualties were reported in the mishap and all passengers are safe.
 
According to a press release from Southern Railway, the following are the changes made in the pattern of train services today:
 
Trains fully cancelled :
 
1.      Train No.56370Ernakulam-Guruvayur Passenger scheduled to leave Ernakulam at 06.00 Hrs on 29.08.16.
2.      Train No.16305 Ernakulam–Kannur Express scheduled to leave Ernakulam at 06.45Hrs on 29.08.16.
3.      Train No.56362 Ernakulam-Nilambur Passenger scheduled to leave Ernakulam at 07.20Hrs on 29.08.16.
4.      Train No.16341Guruvayur – Trivandrum Express scheduled to leave Guruvayur at 03.15Hrs on 29.08.16.
5.      Train No.16342Trivandrum -GuruvayurExpress scheduled to leave Trivandrum at 17.30Hrs on 29.08.16
6.      Train No.56361Shoranur- Ernakulam Passenger scheduled to leave Shoranur at 04.20 Hrs on 29.08.16.
7.      Train No.56365Guruvayur – PunalurPassenger scheduled to leave Guruvayur at 06.00Hrs on 29.08.16.
8.      Train No.56371Guruvayur – ErnakulamPassenger scheduled to leave Guruvayur at 06.45Hrs on 29.08.16.
9.      Train No.66611Palghat – ErnakulamPassenger scheduled to leave Palghat at 08.15Hrs on 29.08.16.
 
Trains partially cancelled:
 
1.      Train No.16308 Kannur - Alleppey Express scheduled to leave Kannur at 05.00Hrs on 29.08.16 is partially cancelled between Shoranur – Alleppey and will return back as Train No.16307 from Shoranur.
2.      Train No.16307Allepey-Kannur Express scheduled to leave Allepey at 14.50Hrs on 29.08.16 is partially cancelled between Alleppey and Shoranur.
 
Rescheduling of Train Services:
 
1.      Train No.12977 Ernakulam – Ajmer Marusagar Express  originally rescheduled to leave Ernakulam at 10.00 Hrs on 29.08.16 is  further rescheduled to leave  Ernakulam at 20.00 Hrs on 29.08.16 due to late running of pairing train..
2.      Train No.22648 Trivandrum Central –Korba Express originally rescheduled to leave Trivandrum Central at 16.30 Hrs on 29.08.16 is further  rescheduled to leave Trivandrum Central at 21.00 Hrs on 29.08.16 due to late running of pairing train..
3.  Train No.  12625 Trivandrum Central – New Delhi Kerala Express  scheduled to leave Trivandrum Central at 11.15 Hrs on 29.08.16 is  rescheduled to leave Trivandrum Central at 23.00 Hrs on 29.08.16 due to late running of pairing train..
4.   Train No.12617 Ernakulam – Nizamuddin, Mangala Express scheduled to leave Ernakulam at 10.45 Hrs on 29.08.16 is  rescheduled to leave  Ernakulam at 22.30 Hrs on 29.08.16 due to late running of pairing train..
 
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Kerala train derailment: Several trains cancelled, diverted, delayed

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The Southern Railway today cancelled, diverted and short-terminated several trains following the derailment of 12 coaches of the 16347 Thiruvananthapuram - Mangaluru Express near Karukutty, near Aluva, in Kerala early this morning.
 
According to a press release from Southern Railway, the following are the detailments of the cancellations and diversions:
 
CANCELLATION OF TRAIN SERVICES
 
1.      Train No.56352 Ernakulam-Shoranur Passenger on 28/8/16
2.      Train No.56361 Shoranur-Ernakulam Passenger on 28/8/16
3.      Train No.56379 Ernakulam-Alapuzha Passenger on 28/8/16
4.      Train No.56384 Alapuzha-Ernakulam Passenger on 28/8/16
5.      Train No.56376 Ernakulam-Guruvayoor Passenger on 28/8/16
6.      Train No.56603 Thrissur-Kozhikode Passenger on 28/8/16
7.      Train No.56370 Ernakulam-Guruvayoor Passenger on 28/8/16
8.      Train No.56371 Guruvayoor- Ernakulam Passenger on 28/8/16
9.      Train No.56365 Punalur-Guruvayoor Passenger on 28/8/16
10.  Train No.56366 Guruvayoor- Punalur Passenger on 28/8/16
11.  Train No.56373 Guruvayoor- Thrissur Passenger on 28/8/16
12.  Train No.56374 Thrissur- Guruvayoor Passenger on 28/8/16
13.  Train No.56375 Guruvayoor- Ernakulam Passenger on 28/8/16
14.  Train No.56043 Guruvayoor- Thrissur Passenger on 28/8/16
15.  Train No.56044 Thrissur- Guruvayoor Passenger on 28/8/16
16.  Train No.16305 Ernakulam-Kannur Inter City Express on 28/8/16
17.  Train No.16308 Kannur-Alapuzha Inter City Express on 29/8/16
18.  Train No.16307 Alapuzha- Kannur Inter City Express on 29/8/16
19.  Train No.16306 Kannur-Ernakulam Inter City Express on 30/8/16
20.  Train No.16341 Guruvayoor-Thiruvananthapuram Express on 28/8/16
21.  Train No.16342 Thiruvananthapuram- Guruvayoor Express on 28/8/16
 
SHORT TERMINATION OF TRAIN SERVICES 
 
1.      Train No.16343 / 16349 Thiruvananthapuram-Palakkad Town / Nilambur Amritha/Rajyarani Link express will terminate its service at Ernakulam Town on 28/8/16
2.      Train No.16127 Chennai Egmore-Guruvayoor Express will terminate its service at Ernakulam Jn on 28/8/16
3.      Train No.16606 Nagercoil-Mangaluru Eranad Express will terminate its service at Ernakulam Jn on 28/8/16
4.      Train No.12076 Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode Janshatabdi Express will terminate its service at Ernakulam Jn on 28/8/16
5.      Train No.16302 Thiruvananthapuram-Shoranur Venad Express will terminate its service at Ernakulam Jn on 28/8/16
6.      Train No.16650 Nagercoil-Mangaluru Parasuram Express will terminate its service at Ernakulam Town on 28/8/16
 
 PARTIAL CANCELLATION
 
1.      The service of Train No.16343 / 16349 Thiruvananthapuram-Palakkad Town / Nilambur Amritha/Rajyarani Link express will be partially cancelled between Ernakulam Town and Palakkad Jn(Pollachi Jn)/Nilambur Road on 28/8/16
2.      The service of Train No.16605 Mangaluru-Nagercoil Eranad express will be partially cancelled between Ernakulam Jn and Mangaluru Central on 28/8/16
3.      The service of Train No.12075 Kozhikode-Thiruvananthapuram Janshatabdi express will be partially cancelled between Kozhikode and Ernakulam Jn on 28/8/16
4.      The service of Train No.16301 Shoranur-Thiruvananthapuram Venad express will be partially cancelled between Shoranur and Ernakulam Jn on 28/8/16
5.      The service of Train No.16649 Mangaluru- Nagercoil Parasuram Express will be partially cancelled between Mangaluru Central and  Ernakulam Town on 28/8/16
 
 DIVERSION OF TRAIN SERVICES
 
1.      Train No.12512 Thiruvananthapuram-Gorakhpur Rapthisagar Tri-weekly express will be diverted via Tirunelveli on 28/8/16
2.      Train No.17229 Thiruvananthapuram-Hyderabad Sabari express will be diverted via Tirunelveli on 28/8/16
3.      Train No.16382 Kanyakumari-Mumbai CST express will be diverted via Tirunelveli on 28/8/16
4.      Train No.16525 Kanyakumari-Bengaluru express will be diverted via Tirunelveli on 28/8/16
5.      Train No.13352 Alapuzha-Dhanbad Tatanagar express will be diverted via Tirunelveli on 28/8/16
 
RESCHEDULING OF TRAIN SERVICES
 
1.      Train No.16346 Thiruvananthapuram-Lokmanya Tilak Netravathi Express will leave Thiruvananthapuram Central on delayed timings on 28/8/16
2.      Train No.12625 Thiruvananthapuram-New Delhi Kerala Express will leave Thiruvananthapuram Central on delayed timings on 28/8/16
3.      Train No.12515 Thiruvananthapuram-Guwahati Express will leave Thiruvananthapuram Central on delayed timings on 28/8/16
4.      Train No.12202 Kochuveli-Lokmanya Tilak Garibrath bi-weekly Express will leave Thiruvananthapuram Central on delayed timings on 28/8/16
5.      Train No.19261 Kochuveli-Porbandar Express will leave Thiruvananthapuram Central on delayed timings on 28/8/16
 
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Thiruvananthapuram-Mangaluru Express derails in Kerala, no casualties

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As many as 12 coaches of the 16347 Thiruvananthapuram - Mangaluru Express derailed near Karukutty station, near Aluva, in Kerala early this morning.
 
No injuries or casualties have been reported and all passengers are safe, the Southern Railway said in a press release.
 
The train had left Thiruvananthapuram at 2040 hours last night and the derailment occurred near Karukutty station, after it had passed Aluva, at 0255 hours today, it said.
 
Since both tracks have been affected by the derailment, all train services passing through Ernakulam and Alwaye are likely to be delayed until the rescue operations are completed, the release said.
 
Mr. P.K.Mishra, Additional General Manager, Southern Railway, Mr. Prakash Butani, Divisional Railway Manager, Trivandrum and other senior officials have rushed to the spot to oversee the relief and rescue operations.
 
Buses have been arranged to transport passengers from Karukutty to Chalakudy from where they will be taken to their destination by special trains. 
 
The Southern Railway has set up helpline numbers 9746769960, 9746761072 and 0471-2320012. 
 
The cause of the mishap could not be immediately ascertained.
 
Tickets will be refunded, the release added.
 
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CCEA okays waiver of penal interest on GoI loans availed by Cochin Port

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved the waiver of penal interest on Government of India (GOI) loans availed by Cochin Port Trust to the tune of Rs. 897.23 crore. 
 
The CCEA also gave its approval for freezing the liability on account of GOI loans, interest thereon and penal interest @ 0.25% as on 31.3.2016 amounting to Rs.557.16 crore (Rs.258.14 crore + Rs.281.45 crore + Rs.17.57 crore), an official press release said.
 
The CCEA, further approved the rescheduling of repayment of the amount frozen in 10 years commencing from 2018-19, it said. 
 
The Cochin Port Trust availed loans for various developmental activities from Government of India amounting to Rs.168.15 crore between1936-37 and 1994-95. Non-repayment of these loans has attracted penal interest to the tune of Rs. 914.80 crore. 
 
The port could not repay the loans since the projected revenue from the capital investment done was not sufficient to cover the interest component.
 
The release said the decision has come in the backdrop of a series of remedial steps taken by Cochin Port to improve its financial conditions.
 
The Government had also ordered it to take some measures such as ban on recruitments, stoppage of vehicle purchases and the like.
 
The measures adopted by the port include steps unprecedented in other Major Ports, like freezing of Variable DA for all employees and Dearness Relief for pensioners, stoppage of HBA, conveyance advance, and LTC, stoppage of overtime posting for non-operating areas, reduction of uniform allowance to single set basis, and deferment of Leave Encashment. 
 
With these recent initiatives taken by the Cochin Port, several income streams, long awaited by the port, are now beginning to bear fruit and this would improve the financial status of the port in future and its ability to repay the loans in future, the release added.
 
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AFD commits to financing Phase 2 of Kochi Metro, releated project

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Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French development agency, has announced its commitment to financing Phase 2 of the Kochi Metro and other city improvement initiatives proposed by Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), including junction improvements and place making. 
 
The AFD team also expressed its satisfaction on the progress of the project, a press release from KMRL said.
 
AFD is a financial institution and the main implementing agency for France’s official development assistance to developing countries and overseas territories.
 
The AFD team consisting Ms. Priscille De Coninck, Urban Transport Expert, AFD Head Office, Mr. Nicolas Fornage, Director, AFD Regional Office, Delhi; Ms. Marine Karcher, Geographical Coordinator of Asia Department and Ms. Juliette Le Pannerer, Project Coordinator, AFD Regional Office, Delhi were in Kochi yesterday and today as a part of an official supervision of the progress of Kochi Metro Phase I.
 
"We were here as a part of a review of the progress on Kochi Metro Phase I. Since our last visit in April this year there has been a great deal of progress with regard to the construction work and we were even able to carry out a trial run of the coaches on potential routes. We are confident that the commercial operational deadline will be met. We are committed to fulfilling KMRL's request to fund the second phase of the Kochi Metro and the improvements of major junctions like Edappally and Kalamassery. KMRL's city improvement projects will receive our whole-hearted support and we plan on drawing up and approving a formal agreement for funding the same by the first half of 2017." said Mr. Fornage.
 
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“The Kochi Metro phase 1 and 2, the Water Metro and the Smart City project will bring in a total investment of around Rs.11,000 crore to the city, of which Rs.9000 crore will be set aside for mobility related projects alone. Once complete these infrastructural developments will transform Kochi into a smart, efficient and sustainable city,“ said KMRL Managing Director Elias George.
 
The release said AFD and KMRL held discussions on revamping of the Vyttila Mobility Hub and additional support for city improvements and place-making projects.
 
"AFD's 'Kochi Project' is much more than facilitating the creation of a metro line, but the implementation of a vision to transform Kochi into a smart and efficient city, with the metro and its related infrastructural developments functioning as a backbone to the city," said Mr. Fornage. The Rs. 100 crore project for city improvement and junction development was approved in last meeting of the Board of Directors of KMRL.
 
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CCEA approves construction of new dry dock at Cochin Shipyard

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday gave its approval for the construction of a new dry dock within the existing premises of Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) at Kochi in Kerala at an estimated cost of Rs. 1799 crore.
 
An official press release said the project is expected to augment the shipbuilding and ship repair capacity essentially required to tap the market potential of building specialized and technologically advanced large vessels such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vessels, Indigenous Aircraft Carriers of higher capacity, Jack up Rigs, Drill ships, large Dredgers and repairing of offshore platforms and larger vessels. 
 
This big sized dry dock is a critical requirement of CSL to promote ship building and is a step in the direction of "Make in India" initiative of the Government, it said.
 
The release said there would be no financial outgo from the Government on account of the construction of the new dry dock as it will be funded through internal and extra budgetary resources (IEBR) of CSL and the funding requirements were fully tied up. 
 
Apart from direct employment of 300 personnel, about 2000 personnel would be indirectly employed when the project becomes fully operational, it added.
 
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Kerala: Puttingal fireworks tragedy accused granted bail

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All the 41 accused in the Puttingal Devi temple fireworks tragedy were granted bail by Kerala High Court after the police failed to file the chargesheet within the 90 day limit.
 
Justice P Ubaid, in his order, noted that the police had not filed the chargesheet in the case, even after 91 days had passed after the incident that took place in Kollam district on April 10.
 
The bail conditions stipulated all the accused, including the temple office bearers surrender their passports and not to leave the state.
 
A massive explosion during a fireworks display at the Puttingal Devi temple at Paravur in Kollam district of Kerala had left at least 116 people dead and more than 380 injured.
 
In the wake of the tragedy, the local police and district administration were blamed for their failure to enforce the rules regarding a ban on competitive display of fireworks that resulted in the tragedy. The fireworks display was held in the early hours of April 10 even after the additional district magistrate had denied permission for the event.
 
Meanwhile, police sources denied that the filing of chargesheet was deliberately delayed. With as many as 43 accused in the case and more than 100 witnesses in the case, the statements of the accused and witnesses ran into at least 2,000 pages.
 
As each of the accused has to be given a copy of the final report, the investigating team needed to take at least 100,000 copies.
 
Soon after the tragedy, the High Court, severely criticising the police and local administration in allowing the fireworks display to go ahead without obtaining proper permission, said even during daytime, fireworks display should not exceed 140 decibels.
 
At that time Additional Director General of Police Anantha Krishnan, who had carried out initial investigation by the crime branch, said the fireworks competition was held after misleading the local administration which had denied permission earlier. The temple committee claimed that verbal permission was granted on informing them that it would only be a fireworks display.
 
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Kochi set to become India's next real estate hotspot: JLL India report

A view of the under-construction Kochi Metro rail project.
A view of the under-construction Kochi Metro rail project.
Kochi is likely to become one of India's next highly-preferred real estate destinations, with expected investments of Rs. 2076 crore, a report by real estate services provider JLL India has said.
 
"All potential drivers such as IT development for employment generation, Metro rail for intra-city connectivity, the Smart City tag for basic infrastructure, port-based development for industry and commercial growth, airport terminal for international connectivity and foreign investment and tourism for the hospitality industry are emphasized in Kochi," the report, authored by A. Shankar, National Director & Head of Operations - Strategic Consulting, JLL India, said.
 
"This will ultimately boosts demand for housing and make it one of the next highly-preferred real estate destinations in India," it said.
 
According to the report, the six reasons why this would happen shortly include its inclusion in the top 20 Smart Cities identified by the Ministry of Urban Development under the Smart Cities Mission through a competitive process.
 
"Kochi ranks 5th and expects an investment of INR 2,076 crore for pan-city solutions and area-based development. E-governance and water management are focus areas as part of pan-city solutions which will help Kochi to access improved and planned infrastructure with assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity, etc.," it said.
 
The report said Kochi-Mattancherry-Central City, which is selected as the area for development, will witness intense development in the coming years. Numerous developers are trying to acquire land for real estate development in and around this area. The "Smart City" tag is expected to boost prices exponentially, it said.
 
The report pointed out that Kochi was the first Indian Tier-II city to propose a metro rail project.
 
"Metro rail connectivity in Kochi is under various stages of construction and is expected to be operational by 2017. In Phase I, the Kochi Metro Rail Corporation has proposed an elevated route spanning approximately 25.25 km from Aluva to Pettah. Once completed, the metro will improve connectivity and reduce travel time from Aluva to the key micro-markets of Kochi. Real estate will be greatly influenced once the metro becomes operational. 
 
"Areas like Companypady, Ambattukavu, Kalamassery, Edapally, Palarivatom, Ernakulam South, Elamkulam, Vytilla, Panampilly Nagar and Kadavanthara will be the main beneficiaries and some of them have already started to witness increased development.
 
"The future expansion of the metro will also benefit areas like Menaka, Kakkanad and West Kochi. Metro rail stations exert influence up to a buffer of 1 km radius, with maximum influence in the areas within a 500 m radius. Land prices along metro rail corridors have increased by 10%-15% after announcement, and are expected to increase further after operations," it said.
 
The report noted that Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) was constructing a Rs. 1,100 crore international terminal with a built-up space of 15,00,000 sq ft.
 
"It is designed to handle 4,000 passengers per hour and will be commissioned by 2016. Once operational, the new international terminal will have a very positive economic impact and uplift the real estate market in the whole region. The catchment will witness development of new retail and commercial spaces along with a good supply of residential and hospitality developments to cater to the increasing demand," it said.
 
JLL said the increased international connectivity would also pave the way for global companies and cargo-based businesses to deploy and expand operations nearby. The completion of the international terminal, along with an operational metro, will give significantly boost the city’s real estate market – and the catchment itself is expected to witness 15-20% rise in property prices.
 
The report highlighted the fact that Kochi is the location for one of two submarine cable landings in India.
 
"Kochi is one of the venues for ‘SEA-ME-WE-3’ (South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 3) and ‘SAFE’ submarine cable landings, and is the second Indian location along with Mumbai to have two submarine cable landings. This fact highlights Kochi as an important destination for IT enabled services. Presently, the Government of Kochi is keen on developing IT/ITeS, as the entire Kerala state is promoting this sector heavily," it said.
 
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The major thrust on IT/ITeS development will eventually boost real estate development in the city, as it creates demand for residential properties, Grade A office spaces and retail developments, it said.
 
It also pointed out that Kochi is home to India's first global hub terminal -- the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam.
 
"This makes Kochi the premier port gateway to South India. Warehouses and other port-based industrial developments will see growth in these areas and lead to vastly increased port-related activities," it said.
 
"Kochi is known for its high heritage value, and contributes significantly to Kerala’s tourism industry. It sees an annual tourism influx that equals about four times its population, of which 14% accounts for foreign tourists, and reflects an annual increase of about 6%. The city’s vision of transforming itself into a tourist hub paves the way for steadily increasing demand for the hospitality sector and its allied industries.
 
"In short, Kochi – which was earlier struggling to recover from an oversupply scenario – will see a massive revival due to creation of demand from these initiatives. Sustainable growth in real estate prices is now assured in the city, and this has incited new interests from numerous real estate developers from all over India who are keen to launch residential, commercial and hospitality projects there," the release added.
 
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KMRL to sign agreement with KfW for Kochi water transport project

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Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. (KMRL), the Government of Kerala (GoK) and German funding agency KfW will sign an agreement in New Delhi tomorrow for implementing the Integrated Water Transport project for the Greater Kochi region in Kerala.
 
The agreement will be signed in the presence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan by Mr. Elias George, Additional Chief Secretary (Transport) on behalf of GoK,  Mr. Abraham Oommen, Director (Finance) on behalf of KMRL and Mr. Peter Hilliges, Director on behalf of KfW. 
 
A press release from KMRL said that this is the first time in India that such a significant level of investment is being brought in for improving urban water-borne passenger traffic.  The city of Kochi will also be the first city in India to have water connectivity as a feeder service to the metro.  As a matter of fact, the new boats under the project will provide the same transportation experience as the metro, and will be called `Water Metros’.
 
The project would be financed by the Indo-German Bilateral Cooperation, under the ‘climate friendly urban mobility’ plan.
 
The total cost of the project is Rs. 747 crore, excluding Rs. 72 crore for land acquisition, of which KfW would give financial assistance to the extent of 85 million Euros, approximately Rs. 597 crore, as a long-term soft loan.  The Kerala Government will contribute Rs.102 crore.
 
The major part of the project is procurement of modernised boats. Two variants of air-conditioned and wi-fi enabled catamaran passenger ferries, with passenger capacity of 50 and 100, respectively are envisaged. The boats would operate at an optimal speed of 8 knots, with the potential to increase up to 12 knots, once the dedicated water transit corridor is established, the release said.
 
Apart from the development of the ferry service, the project also proposes development of the existing and new access roads providing increased accessibility to the jetties and enhanced mobility within the islands, infrastructure for ensuring safety and security to all its users by way of active and well-lit streets and CCTV cameras, promoting use of small occupancy feeder modes such as mini/midi feeder buses and electric rickshaws to access the jetties, promoting property development around the jetties and place making, non-motorised transport infrastructure, facilities and infrastructure enabling smooth disabled-friendly mobility, and public bicycle sharing schemes including development of bicycle docking stations at all the jetty locations.
 
The major jetties or the main boat hubs shall be developed with wi-fi enabled social recreational opportunities around the jetty locations. Tourism is also proposed to be promoted as part of the project. As many as 16 out of 38 jetties would be developed in the first phase, it said.
 
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Intelligent Navigation System and Operation Control Centre (OCC) are proposed to be integrated with the city’s intelligent transportation system. The Automatic Fare Collection system being implemented by the Kochi Metro would be extended to the water transport system.
 
"The ultimate objective of KMRL is to make the entire public transportation system one seamless entity, with a single ticketing, a single network and a single `command and control’ over all modes of transport, including the metro, the buses and the boats.  KMRL is confident that with the implementation of this Integrated Water Transport project over the next four years, with the creation of the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA), and with seamless interchange between the metro, the buses and the boats, people will migrate from using personal transport like cars towards public transportation, as is the practice in most modern cities across the world," the release added.
 
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Kerala: Assamese labourer arrested in Jisha murder case

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A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Kerala Police has arrested an Assamese migrant labourer as a suspect in the rape and murder of Jisha, a young law student at Perumbavoor near here on April 28.
 
The brutal nature of the murder and mutilation of the body had led to nationwide revulsion and condemnation, raising questions about women's safety in Kerala, long considered to be progressive in education and social mores.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his campaign tour of the then poll-bound state, had referred to the murder in his campaign speeches and even deputed Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot to visit the victim's family and look into the issue.
 
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) B. Sandhya, who was heading the murder probe, told reporters here yesterday that Amir ul Islam, 23, was taken into custody from Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu two days ago. He was brought to Alwaye near here for interrogation after the arrest.
 
The mud encrusted footwear that the accused left behind near Jisha's makeshift dwelling proved to be vital as it had traces of blood and cement pointing to the involvement of someone connected with the construction industry.
 
According to police, on the day of the murder, Amir had gone to Jisha's house in the morning and picked up an argument with her. He left when she threatened to slap him with her slippers. However, he returned later in the evening, allegedly in a drunken state, overpowered and stabbed her to death, subsequently mutilating the body, the police said.
 
During the struggle, Jisha bit him and he had also bitten her. The victim's fingernails had traces of his skin and after a DNA test of the blood and skin samples, the police, who had been tracing his movements, zeroed in on the suspect.
 
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After the murder, Amir had reportedly gone to Alwaye and after spending the night in the town, left for Assam. He tried finding a job in West Bengal, failing which he came to Tamil Nadu. 
 
Meanwhile, after throwing away the SIM card he was using in his mobile phone at the time of the murder, he got another SIM card for the phone. As soon as he started using the phone, police managed to trace his location through the IMEI number.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had accused the previous Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government of going slow with the investigations and changed the police probe team soon after coming to power, described the arrest as a feather in Kerala Police's cap.
 
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, however, said it has now been proved that the police had been on the right trail from the beginning. The accused had been arrested on the basis of clues and evidence gathered by the first team of police investigators, he added.
 
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Mega luxury cruise vessel "Ovation of the Seas" arrives in Kochi

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Mega Luxury Cruise Vessel “M.V. Ovation of the Seas” called at the Cochin Port yesterday for a two-day stop-over in its circuit of Dubai-Muscat-Kochi-Penang-Singapore.
 
The vessel with 4000 passengers and 1649 crew was given a warm and colourful reception at the Cochin Port in ethnic style with flowers, sindhoor and chendamelam.
 
“M.V. Ovation of the Seas” is a new ship of the Royal Caribbean Lines floated out in April this year. It is 348 m long and is in the seconnd largest class of cruise vessel. While 90 passengers from Dubai/ Muscat disembarked at Cochin Port, 80 passengers will embark from the port.
 
A brief plaque exchange ceremony was held to commemorate the inaugural call. Mr G.Senthilvel, Chairman, Cochin Port, Dr. C. Unnikrishnan Nair, Traffic Manager, Cochin Port, Mr Sethuraman, IPS, FRRO (Bureau of Immigration), Mr M.M. Haseeja, Ministry of Shipping, Mr Mohamed Farouk, Asst. Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Mr Thomas Korah, Joint Director, Kerala Tourism Department and other officials participated.
 
Senior officials from Kerala Tourism and India Tourism were present to help the tourists for the local visits. Officials from the Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Tourism had specially come from New Delhi to welcome the cruise vessel as part of the Union Government's measures to promote Cruise Tourism.
 
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A new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Cruise Shipping was notified by the Ministry of Tourism during the Maritime India Summit held during April, 2016. The port had arranged pre-paid taxis and auto rickshaws for the tourists. The state police regulated the safe passage of the tourists to the city.
 
The port facilitated setting up of 30 stalls displaying and selling ethnic items including exquisite coir carpets, paintings, metal ware and cotton goods from Erode which caught the fancy of the tourists. A special stall was dedicated for selling products by Tribal Welfare Department.
 
The tourists visited various parts of Cochin and about 500 tourists went to Alleppey for a house oat ride. The vessel is casting off at 5 pm today.
 
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Artist Bose Krishamachari to curate Yinchuan Biennale in China

Bose Krishnamachari
Bose Krishnamachari
Well-known artist Krishnamachari Bose, who is co-founder of the much-acclaimed Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), will curate the inaugural Yinchuan biennale in China, shaping the city’s first foray into the global art scene along a roadmap set by India’s only biennale.
 
The biennale is titled "For An Image, Faster Than Light" and Krishnamachari has already chosen 40 out of the 80 international artists who will showcase their works within the dramatic environs of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Yinchuan from September 9 to December 18 this year/
 
The featured artists will explore a range of contemporary issues, in keeping with the breadth of Krishnamachari’s creative vision and the cosmopolitan ethic that is also the hallmark of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The extensive and pluralistic list of participating artists includes Ai Weiwei, the iconic Chinese dissident artist; Anish Kapoor, Riyas Komu, co-founder of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and Sudarshan Shetty, curator of the 2016 edition of the Biennale in Kochi. 
 
Speaking of his curatorial concept, Krishnamachari said, “This biennale in China can postulate different themes, including spiritual and social consciousness, an examination of political narratives and critical global engagement and an acknowledgment of a collective responsibility therein.”
 
“A light to be seen through art’s eyes. It is indeed a circle in which we seek, from beginning to end, a light to hold within the image of a finger bowl,” he added, noting the potential of a cultural extravaganza to create discourse and frame conflicts confronting the modern world.
 
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The biennale will also see a host of cultural activities like music programmes and seminars on the various aspects of the concept note.
 
Krishnmachari’s oeuvre includes drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, design, installation and architecture. His works have shaped the direction of contemporary Indian art. He has exhibited in several important solo and group exhibitions in Amsterdam, Norway, Denmark and Rome. He has also undertaken many curatorial projects apart from being the artistic director of the first KMB in 2012.
 
The Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan is the first contemporary museum along the Yellow River in the northwest of China. It is considered among the best new museums in China. Many of the site-specific works will involve artistic residencies in MOCA Yinchuan’s International Artist Village.
 
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KBF hosts Open Studio on notions of space and movement

Anja Kempe
Anja Kempe
The exploration of the unknowns of physical space and probing the potential for movement and displacement inform Anja Kempe’s art. In Kochi’s dynamic environs, its architectural changes and tensions, the German installation artist found no dearth of inspiration.
 
Over her six-week sojourn in the city under the Pepper House Residency programme hosted by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), Kempe staged photographic interventions in its nooks and warrens to explore the notions and perceptions of space and its occupation.
 
The threads of her work came together at an Open Studio at Pepper House, Fort Kochi on Saturday. Her project, titled ‘Inner Grid’, features the photographic corpus situated around a structure built from local materials like bamboo and wood.
 
“What kind of inner grid do we bring to understand a space and how can an artwork shift this grid?” Kempe asked, during an accompanying talk on her project and practice.
 
The installation is in keeping with the site-specificity that marks Kempe’s oeuvre: It is an architectural extension that seeks to alloy fiction to her milieu’s existing spatial conditions, its interactions with its people in order to provide expansive choreographies for the viewer.
 
“My works concentrate simultaneously on both genders,” said Kempe, whose work situates the dichotomy of male-female interactions within the frameworks of movement and memory. “This is an examination of both the individual memory of the body and the collective memory of movements.” 
 
The Pepper House Residency programme, run in collaboration with HCL, Pepper House, Goethe Institute, and Malabar Escapes between editions of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, is an international residency opportunity for artists from all disciplines to work, engage and collaborate.
 
Kempe, based in Dresden, has exhibited internationally in group shows and solo exhibitions including at z33, Hasselt; Ars Electronica Campus, Linz; Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart; Museum Schloss Moyland; Halle14 Leipzig; NGBK Berlin; Young Artist Project, Daegu and ISCP New York.
 
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Spices Board to set up India’s first Spice Museum in Kochi

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In a first of its kind in the country, theSpices Board will set up a Spice Museum at Willingdon Island here to attract and educate tourists and seafarers about the fascinating history and growth of the Indian spices industry.
 
The museum will showcase the entire gamut of spices industry, beginning with cultivation and processing to the finished product, besides its history, usage, storage and quality assessment. Over 30 raw spices and culinary herbs will be displayed at the museum.
 
It will display the history and development of Indian spices industry through an array of paintings, pictures, brochures and books, a press release from the Spices Board said.
 
The museum will also have a signature stall to facilitate the tourists to purchase authentic Indian spices as presents and souvenirs of Kochi, the land of spices.
 
Dr A Jayathilak, Chairman, Spices Board, will lay the foundation stone of the museum on Thursday in the presence of Cochin Port Trust Chairman Paul Antony. 
 
“The museum will be an information centre on quality spices to attract sailors and overseas tourists,” Dr Jayathilak said. 
 
“The signature stall at Willingdon Island, the fifth in India, is a pioneering initiative of the Spices Board, and we intend to leverage it for promoting spices in a big way in both India and abroad,” he added. 
 
Cochin Port Trust has allotted 15 cents of land adjacent to Cochin Heritage Museum at the North End of Willingdon Island for setting up the Spice Museum.  The land has been leased to the Board for 30 years on a yearly rent of Re 1. 
 
Mr. Antony said, “The museum will give opportunity to international tourists coming via cruise liners to experience the serenity of Spice industry as they do not have the time to visit Spice plantations."
 
The objective of the museum-cum-signature stall is to facilitate the tourists for sourcing authentic Indian spices to prepare flavoured dishes and buying them as presents and souvenirs of Kochi, famous for its wide variety of spices. It will also update the knowledge on spices industry besides touch and feel of major spices.
 
Spices and value added products will be sold at the stall, which has been set up in a state-of-the-art infrastructure so as to create in the minds of the customers a sustainable brand image of Indian spices as a premium product.
 
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3rd Annual International Bunker Meet to be held in Kochi

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The third Annual International Bunker Meet “Destination Cochin” hosted by Cochin Port will be held on May 13.
 
The Cochin Port has been focusing on bunker trade for the last three years and registered 47% growth in this trade in the FY 2015-16. 
 
An official press release said the Cochin Port had established a very conducive ecosystem for bunker trade. The port has single window facility operating round the clock. The bunker facility is operational during monsoon as well as non-monsoon seasons as the vendors have arranged MS class barges which facilitate outside port limit supply to vessels transiting by the off shore shipping channel.
 
The Cochin Customs also facilitates 24-hour permissions for bunker supply. The VAT rate at 5% for supply to coastal vessels makes Cochin the most economic vending station in India, it said.
 
The meet will be attended by investors from South Asia and the Gulf who are basically established vendors in these areas. The speakers for the sessions include trade experts in bunker quality, infrastructure and commerce from Singapore, UAE and India. 
 
Top officials of oil majors IOCL, BPCL and HPCL and Indian market leaders will also participate in the meet, the release added.
 
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Kochi-Muziris Biennale announces 25 artists for third edition in December

Sudarshan Shetty
Sudarshan Shetty
The third edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) will feature internationally reputed writers, musicians and theatre-persons along with a host of visual artistes from across India and the world. 
 
Among them will be iconic Chilean poet Raul Zurita, who was announced as the first artist at KMB’16 on December 15, 2015.
 
This year's biennale will host works by artists working across a range of media – in keeping with its mandate to broaden and blur the labels and lines attributed to art, according to KMB’16 curator Sudarshan Shetty.
 
“It is going to be an admixture of styles, schools and sensibilities,” said Shetty, long recognised as one of his generation’s most innovative artists.
 
Shetty was unanimously chosen as curator by an Artistic Advisory Committee appointed by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), which organises the Biennale. KMB’16 will be Shetty’s first curatorial project.
 
The largest event of its kind in South Asia, KMB’16 will run for 108 days from December 12, 2016, to March 29, 2017, and will comprise the main art exhibition and an ancillary programme of talks, seminars, workshops, film screenings, and music sessions across a range of venues in Fort Kochi and Ernakulam.
 
Talking about developing a project on this scale and his curatorial vision, Shetty said, “I see the KMB as naturally embodying and carrying forward the multiculturalism of Kochi that is nurtured by both history and myth. The biennale creates a space for cross-cultural interactions – something that is a fundamental aspect of Kochi’s historical and mythical identity – and can also be viewed as a means of connecting the past and the present, without looking at them in binaries. It is important that we look at this Biennale as part of that larger flow (from the past) that comes down as a great waterfall to the present and flows through our contemporary realities and artistic practices in the form of many streams or rivers.”
 
“I see my role as the curator of the biennale as tracing the trajectories of those streams. Incorporating this idea of the streams or rivers into my curatorial approach allows me to see the biennale as a force and flow that continues beyond its own physical time frame and space,” said Shetty, whose work was featured in the debut KMB in 2012.
 
The following are the First 25 artists chosen for the event: 
 
Raul Zurita (poetry/installation, Chile), Ouyang Jianghe (poetry/installation, China), Sophie Dejode and Bertrand Lacombe (sculpture/installation, France), Caroline Duchatelet (video, France), Achraf Touloub (drawing/video, Morocco/France), Sharmistha Mohanty (poetry/installation, India), Avinash Veeraraghavan (embroidery/video, India), Orijit Sen (graphic arts, India), Anamika Haksar (theatre, India), Praneet Soi (drawing/sculpture/installation, India/Holland), T.V. Santhosh (painting, India), Desmond Lazaro (painting, India/UK), Daniele Galliano (painting/performance, Italy), Yuko Mohri (installation, Japan), Katrina Neiburga and Andris Eglitis (installation, Latvia), Valerie Mejer (poetry/painting, Mexico), Camille Norment (sound installation, USA/Norway), Pedro Gomez-Egana (installation, Colombia/Norway), Hanna Tuulikki (sound/word/video, UK), Charles Avery (drawing/public space installation, UK), Gary Hill (video, USA), Dana Awartani (drawing/painting, Saudi Arabia), Erik Van Lieshout (performance, Netherlands), Naiza Khan (video installation, Pakistan/UK) and Pawel Althamer (performance/sculpture, Poland).
 
A second list of artists will be announced in the coming months, a press release from KBF said.
 
The past two editions of the biennale used heritage properties, public spaces, and galleries in Fort Kochi and Ernakulam. KMB’16 venues will include Aspinwall House, Pepper House, David Hall, and Durbar Hall.
 
The largest and primary setting in Fort Kochi is Aspinwall House, a sea-facing heritage property with warehouses, a residential bungalow, and an office building. Aspinwall House has been loaned to the KMB by DLF Limited in association with the Gujral Foundation.
 
Other venues include the historic Durbar Hall in Ernakulam, renovated by the KBF; David Hall, a restored Dutch bungalow in Fort Kochi; and Pepper House, a colonial-era spice warehouse that now serves as a venue for exhibitions, artist residency studios and art workshops. 
 
The KBF is an artist-led non-profit institution founded by renowned artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari in 2010. Since its inception, the KMB has established itself as a catalyst for artistic engagement and dialogue in India, becoming a repository of ideas and ideologies, an occasion to reimagine both past and present, and reflect upon the notions of diversity and cosmopolitanism as represented by the pluralism of Kochi itself. 
 
Previous editions of the KMB, in 2012 and 2014, showcased the works of 183 artists from around the world, and had a combined draw of nearly a million visitors.
 
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In addition to the biennale, KBF also manages several education and outreach activities to augment art education, and foster wider debate and discussion on the topic of contemporary art.
 
The biennale’s third outing will present a multifaceted programme that also showcases the results of the KBF’s outreach efforts among students of all ages such as the ‘Students’ Biennale’, a nationwide outreach project involving 60 Indian art colleges and curated by 15 young curators, and ‘Art by Children (ABC)’, India’s first children’s-only art event, a project aimed at initiating youngsters into art and art appreciation with children as both artist and audience.
 
Shetty is one of the most significant figures of contemporary Indian art.  Originally trained as a painter at the Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai, he moved early on to sculpture and installation and more recently into film. 
 
He is well known for enigmatic, large-scale installations in which physical objects, composed and joined in unfamiliar ways, become the media for contemplating loss, absence, death, emptiness and regeneration.  His work rigorously explores dualisms and polarities as they are articulated through the binary oppositions of human being and object being, life and death, absence and presence, seeking and revealing their immanence in all forms of being.
 
In his recent work, Shetty has actively engaged with other artistic forms, including poetry and writing, music and architecture to consider the distinctions between action on-screen and off-screen, the real and the imagined, tradition and the contemporary.
 
An artist who came of age in India before the liberalisation of its economy and the internationalisation of its art world, Shetty’s career highlights a struggle with approaches that are conditioned by another’s vision and with the global canons of art history. 
 
In this spirit, his work is rooted in the knowledge that remains tacit and taken for granted in his own experience of music, poetry and storytelling traditions in Indian idioms, but which refuses to be positioned as elucidating a foreign worldview or a specific point of view on empirical reality – instead creating experiences that can be shared by viewers everywhere, drawing on their own resources.
 
In a career spanning nearly three decades, Shetty has exhibited widely, at some of the most prominent and prestigious international and Indian venues, most recently at the 20th Sydney Biennale.
 
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