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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
 

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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
 

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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.
 
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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.
 
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Kerala Minister admits goof-up in tax notices

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Admitting that there were errors in the calculation of overdue taxes, State Finance Minister Thomas Issac on Friday told the Assembly that appropriate action will be taken and the errors will be rectified.
 
He was replying to an adjournment motion notice moved by senior Congress legislator V. D. Sateeshan regarding the suicide of a trader, Mathai Daniel, last month. Sateeshan said that Mathai committed suicide after receiving a penalty notice of Rs 27 lakh as the aggregate dues from previous year's default on the value-added tax (VAT).
 
"Officials had sent the notices based on the computer generated dues. It has been found out that there were errors and this will be looked into, and after due consultations with the Law department, appropriate action will be there," said Issac and added that no further action would be taken against the traders.
 
Daniel, a dealer in rubber sheets received an assessment of his dues pertaining to previous years. His family said he was shocked to see the penalty amount of Rs 27 lakh and on October 28  committed suicide.
 
This led to a statewide protest by the entire trading community, forcing Issac to take strict action against those responsible for the goof-up.
 
Leading the entire opposition out of the Assembly after the Speaker rejected the demand for a discussion on this issue, deputy leader of the Congress party K. C. Joseph claimed that the government knows it has goofed up and so has removed Commissioner of State Tax, Tinku Biswal, from the post.
 
IANS

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Congress tears into Pinarayi Vijayan over youths' arrest

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The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) on Monday criticised Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the floor of the Kerala Assembly over the arrest of two CPI-M youth workers and booking them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
 
Two students of law and journalism, Allen Shuaib and Thaha Fazil -- both full-time CPI-M members -- were arrested on Saturday at Kozhikode after police recovered Maoist propaganda leaflets, besides material condemning the Union government's action in Jammu and Kashmir from them.
 
Both of them were taken into custody, and after lengthy questioning the police registered a case under UAPA. A court at Kozhikode remanded the two to judicial custody.
 
Taking on Vijayan, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that a few years old video of Vijayan where he is seen strongly attacking UAPA has now gone viral.
 
"And now see, the way your police has behaved when they took into custody two youths who are your own party members and have charged them under UAPA. Just look into the views that have come from your own party members and they have strongly attacked your own police for this. For fear of you, they have not spoken against you, but for the first time your own local party committee at Kozhikode, where the two youths hail from, have slammed you and the way you handled this case," said Chennithala.
 
"Vijayan, you are behaving like Hitler," said Chennithala.
 
Vijayan, however, hit back by recalling the way the Congress party in the past resorted to declaration of Emergency, TADA and MISA to gag civil society.
 
Replying to senior Congress leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan's demand for an adjournment motion on levelling of UAPA charges against the two youths, Vijayan said the police found leaflets, a mobile phone and a laptop computer in the house of the two accused but under no circumstances would UAPA be misused.
 
"A detailed probe is currently on and only after that will the charges be looked into and we will see if UAPA is maintainable. Please don't forget that UAPA first came in 1967 and between 2004-14 when the UPA ruled the country, three amendments to UAPA were floated. And in 2019 when Union Home Minister Amit Shah further amended it, the only CPI-M Lok Sabha member from Kerala strongly opposed it, while 19 of the UDF members from Kerala voted alongside the BJP. It should also not be forgotten that eight cases registered when the UDF ruled ( 2011-16) under UAPA were cancelled by us. The Left has always taken a strong position against gagging the society and everything will be looked into carefully," said Vijayan.
 
Meanwhile the bail plea of the two youths came up before a court in Kozhikode and while the prosecution strongly opposed the bail, it demanded two days time to reply to the UAPA charges.
 
The court then posted the bail plea to Tuesday.
 
The mother of Allen, Sabitha Madathil told the media on Monday that it was foolish of the police to charge her son under UAPA.
 
"Ours is a family with a strong belief in the CPI-M and that's our strength. Just because the police has done this, we are not going to take a stand against the CPI-M. I know my son and what he does, said Sabitha.
 
The brother of the other arrested youth (Thaha) said the story being propagated about his brother by the police was baseless.
 
"In custody, my brother was beaten up by the police and was threatened that he would be implicated in drug cases," he said.
 
IANS
 

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Uproar in Kerala assembly over acquittal in girls death case

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The Kerala Assembly witnessed a protest over the acquittal of the key accused in a case of the death of two minor sisters, with the Congress-led Opposition seeking a discussion on the issue and a CBI probe.
 
Even as the noisy scenes continued in the Assembly, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan remained non-committal over the Opposition demand.
 
While denying the demand for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue, Vijayan assured the House that a humanitarian approach would be taken and the government will appeal against the verdict. He also said that his government may consider a CBI probe.
 
"We all expected that the accused would be punished, but the verdict was otherwise. We will look into all aspects and consider," said Vijayan.
 
Unhappy with Vijayan's statement, the entire Opposition protested in the Assembly forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day.
 
As the Opposition launched an attack against the government, the website of the Kerala Law department was hacked by Kerala Cyber Warriors with a hashtag surfacing 'Justice for our sisters'.
 
The case surfaced in January 2017, when an 11-year-old girl's body was found by her nine-year-old sister in her house in a village in the Palakkad district.
 
Two months later, the younger girl was also found dead in her home in similar circumstances.
 
Though the police arrested five persons, the accused were, however, let off last week by a court for want of evidence as the prosecution failed to prove the case against them.
 
Local legislator Shafi Parambil of the Congress slammed the government over the issue.
 
"When this case surfaced, you said the police will do their job and not let the accused off, and today what has happened and again you say the same thing. The victim's mother had publicly said that the CPI-M helped the accused and what have you done on that," asked Parambil.
 
When the court verdict came last week, the mother of the victims told the media that even with the autopsy report stating that sexual assault was carried out, the prosecution failed to do anything.
 
On Monday in Palakkad, the youth wings of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party took out protest marches to the district police office seeking justice for the victims.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala's Semi High Speed Rail to get connected with Kochi Metro at Kakkanad

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Kerala's proposed Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Semi High-Speed Rail (SHSR) will have an integrated station at Kakkanad near Infopark here with the second phase of Kochi Metro, for the benefit of people coming to the city from various parts of the state, State Chief Secretary  Tom Jose said here on Saturday.
 
Speaking at a presentation on SHSR,  called Silver Line, organised by Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) and Better Kochi Response Group (BKRG), Jose said the integrated station will enable  passengers to reach various parts of the sprawling city when the Kochi Metro is extended from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to Kakkanad.
 
The government is also planning to have a loop line for the Kochi Metro connecting Marine Drive and Boat Jetty for the benefit of commuters as well as tourists travelling from Fort Kochi and Vypeen Islands, he said. “The loop line will start from Madhava Pharmacy Junction and rejoin at Jose Junction via Menaka. The passengers can enjoy the real beauty of Kochi through this route”, he said.
 
The Silver Line project, a joint venture of Kerala Government and Ministry of Railways, is the most affordable solution for the transportation problems of Kerala as it will sharply reduce travel time from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod to four hours, he said.
 
“Even if we go for four-lane National Highways, we have to face vehicle congestion after five years. The only solution for this is the Silver Line project which will help a passenger to travel from the South to North of Kerala in four hours,” Jose added.
 
V. Ajith Kumar, Managing Director, KRDCL, who made the presentation on the Silver Line project, said 27 feeder stations are planned to the 10 major stations as part of the 532-km long rail line, so as to ensure that maximum number of people benefited from the project.
 
The KRDCL had prepared the feasibility report on the project, to be built at a cost of Rs 66,079 crore, and to be completed in five years.  The maximum speed of the train will be 200 kmph and the ticket fare is proposed at Rs 2.75 per km, he said.
 
A project that fully adheres  to green protocol,  the highlights of  its construction  include recycling of  steel and concrete, diversion of construction waste from landfills through reuse and recycling, use of new, low emission construction equipment and buildings based on the standard of Indian Green Building Council. Around 11% of the corridor will be elevated over the  cities, Ajith Kumar said.
 
Around 1,200 hectares of land has to be acquired for the project. The alignment of the rail will be finalised only after the aerial survey is completed, for which the State Government had already received the clearance from the Ministry of Defence, he said.
 
Between Thiruvananthapuram and Tirur in central Kerala, the line will pass by a stretch that is different from the existing railway line, since it has a large number of curves that limit the speed. From Tirur onward, the line will run parallel to the existing track up to Kasaragod. There will be underpasses for road traffic at every 500 metres, so that it will not hamper the movement of people in any manner.
 
By 2028, the project will sharply reduce road vehicles including trucks, thereby eliminating approximately 2,37,663 tons of carbon dioxide emission. The average number of travellers a day will be 82,266 by 2028, 116,681 by 2040 and 147,120 in 2051.
 
The project will create 50,000 jobs during the construction and 11,000 once it becomes functional.  Out of its estimated cost of Rs 66,079-crore project, Rs 34,454 crore will be raised as loans, and Rs 7,720 each provided by the Union and State Governments, said  Ajith Kumar.
 
The feasibility study, done by Paris-based Systra, had projected  the  internal rate of return from the project as 5.6 per cent and 8.1 per cent for 30 and 50 years, respectively. Planned urban development of the cities along the corridor and development of new cities down the SHSR line will expedite the socio-economic development of the areas served by the line, he added.
 
District collector S. Suhas and BKRG president S. Gopakumar and secretary  Shirly Chacko also spoke.
 
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Kerala Police probe seven deaths in a family

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Close on the heels of the 'Jolly' family murder trail, the Kerala Police have initiated probe into the deaths of seven members of a family here, with a distant relative on its radar as accused.
 
The deaths took place in the family of Gopinathan Nair between 2000 and 2017, and included Nair, his wife Sumukhi Amma and their children -- Jaybalakrishnan, Jayprakash, Jaysree -- and two nephews Unnikrishnan and Jaymadhavan.
 
The Nair family owned huge real estate. According to the complaint, of this Rs 30 crore properties have been swindled.
 
The police launched the probe after a complaint from a family member and a neighbour.
 
A special probe team has been set up. "The police have begun the probe. There appears to be a case after going through the preliminary complaint," said Kerala police chief Loknath Behra.
 
A distant relative of Nair, the caretaker of family assets, is suspected to be behind these deaths. However, he has denied any wrongdoing.
 
"The complaint has surfaced because I didn't yield to their demands. They tried their best to put me under duress. But I didn't give in. Now to harass me, they have filed a police complaint," the relative said.
 
IANS
 

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Veteran Marxist leader Achuthanandan admitted to hospital

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Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and former Chief Minister of Kerala, V. S. Achuthanandan, was admitted to a private hospital here on Friday after he reported high blood pressure.
 
He turned 96 last Sunday and according to sources close to him, his blood pressure has been erratic of late.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after hearing the news visited him at the hospital.
 
A seven-time legislator, Achuthanandan presently represents the Malampuzha Assembly constituency in Palakkad district.
 
He had campaigned for the 34-year-old Thiruvananthapuram Mayor, V. K. Prasanth, the CPI-M's candidate for the prestigious Vattiyoorkavu Assembly bye-election, which he won on Thursday.
 
Achuthanandan was the Chief Minister from 2006-11.
 
He is also the incumbent chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission, which has the status of a cabinet minister.
 
IANS
 

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It's even-steven for rivals CPI-M, Cong in Kerala

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It's even-steven for traditional political rivals CPI-M and Congress, which won two seats each in the Kerala Assembly bye-elections on Thursday, while IUML retained its Manjeswaram seat.
 
The ruling CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front wrested the Vatiyoorkavu and Konni seats from the Congress, but lost stronghold Aroor for the first time in half a century.
 
And on expected lines, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) retained Ernakulam and its ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) retained Manjesweram.
 
In the 140-member Kerala Assembly, the CPI-M-led LDF has 93 seats, the Congress-led UDF has 45 seats and the BJP has one seat.
 
The outcome is a shocker for the Congress as it lost two prestigious seats. In Vatiyoorkavu, Thiruvananthapuram mayor V. K. Prasanth of the CPI-M trounced former Congress legislator K. Mohankumar by a margin of 14,465 votes. And in Konni, CPI-M's K. U. Jenish defeated P. Mohanraj by 9,953 votes.
 
The Congress' loss in Konni is being blamed on party MP Adoor Prakash who has represented the seat since 1996. The party had shot down Adoor Prakash's candidate to field P. Mohanraj instead. However, the strongman ensured he didn't win either.
 
The silver lining for the Congress is its candidate Shanimol Usman wresting Aroor Assembly constituency from the CPI-M after almost five decades. Aroor was represented by CPI-M's A. M. Ariff since 2001. In her first election win, Usman defeated Manu C. Pulickal by 2,079 votes to become the first woman MLA from the UDF in the present Assembly.
 
In Ernakulam, where a heavy downpour on polling day resulted in a low voter turnout of just 57.90 per cent, Congress' T. J. Vinod won but with a reduced margin of 3,750 votes.
 
Vinod later said: "I dedicate this victory to my voters. The margin has to do with the heavy rains on the polling day."
 
UDF's second biggest ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) candidate M. C. Kamurdeen won the Manjeswaram Assembly constituency by 7,923 votes.
 
This is an improvement on IUML's 2016 performance. Its Abdul Razack had defeated his nearest BJP rival K.Surendran by a slender margin of 89 votes. The bypoll was necessitated by Razack's death last year.
 
The BJP has no reason for cheer in Kerala. Not only did it lose its number two position in Vatiyoorkavu, but in Thiruvananthapuram, its candidate and district President S. Suresh garnered a mere 27,453 votes down from 43,700 that Kummanem Rajasekheran got in 2016.
 
Thanking the voters, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who led the Left campaign, said they have rejected the politics of hate this time too.
 
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who led the UDF campaign, said the results are a proof that the voters have rejected both the Left and the BJP.
 
"The victory at Aroor for the Congress comes after almost five decades. The BJP has been routed and we, the UDF, will introspect on what happened in Vatiyoorkavu and Konni," said Chennithala.
 
State Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran said the results clearly show there was a tacit understanding between the Left and the BJP.
 
"If not for that, how do you explain the BJP candidate getting less than 15,000 votes as compared to the last polls in Vatiyoorkavu. And where have those votes gone? The Congress will sit down on October 27 to discuss where we lost out," said Ramachandran.
 
State CPI-M secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the political situation that prevailed during the Lok Sabha polls has changed to one favouring the Left.
 
"The RSS has no scope and space in Kerala politics. If you compare the bye-election results to the Lok Sabha poll results, we have come back strongly in all the five constituencies. We will examine what happened in Aroor," said Balakrishnan.
 
IANS

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Kerala bye-elections: UDF leads in 4 of 5 assembly seats

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Counting of votes to the five Assembly constituencies, where bye-elections were held on October 21, was underway today and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) was leading in four and the CPI-M in one.
 
In the Vatiyoorkavu Assembly seat in the state capital, young CPI-M candidate and Thiruvananthapuram Mayor V. K. Prasanth was leading by a slender margin of 226 votes against former Congress Legislator K. Mohankumar.
 
The Konni Assembly seat is also witnessing an intense fight between Congress candidate P. Mohanraj and CPI-M candidate K. U. Jenish. Mohanraj is leading by 540 votes.
 
At Aroor, which is the only sitting seat of the Left, its CPI-M candidate Manu C. Pulickal is trailing by 265 votes against Congress leader Shanimol Usman.
 
On the expected lines, at Ernakulam, Congress candidate T. J. Vinod is leading by 365 votes against Left supported independent candidate Manu Roy.
 
And, in Manjeswaram, the Indian Union Muslim League candidate M. C. Kamarudheen is racing ahead with a lead of 1,181 votes.
 
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Former Congress MLA Abdullakutty made Kerala BJP vice-president

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Congress lawmaker A. P. Abdullakutty who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in June this year,  was on Tuesday appointed as the vice-president of the BJP in Kerala.
 
This was announced here in the state capital by state BJP president P. S. Sreedharan Pillai who said the appointment has been made following a directive from the national party leadership.
 
Abdullakutty, 52, who is also a former member of the ruling CPI-M, began his political career from the CPI-M's student wing. He came into prominence by defeating current Kerala Congress chief Mullapally Ramachandran twice -- in 1999 and 2004 -- from the Kannur Lok Sabha seat.
 
In 2009, the CPI-M sacked him from the party amid mounting differences and also because he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Gujarat development model when the latter was the Chief Minister of the state.
 
Abdullakutty won the Kannur Assembly by-election in 2009 as a Congress candidate and repeated his victory in 2011, but in 2016, lost the polls from the Thalassery seat.
 
Since that time, he has been keeping a distance from the Congress, and in June this year, he joined the BJP describing himself as a "nationalist Muslim".
 
"This new appointment is a huge responsibility that has been bestowed on me. The BJP has a bright future in Kerala and will now be here always," Abdullakutty said.
 
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Sreekumar Menon says will cooperate with police on actress Manju Warrier's complaint

Manju Warrier
Manju Warrier
Malayalam filmmaker Sreekumar Menon on Tuesday assured actress Manju Warrier that he will cooperate with the police on her complaint against him. In a Facebook post, Menon said he came to know about her complaint from friends and the media.
 
"Soon after you gave the complaint against me, I was flooded with calls from the media. I wish to state that I am a law-abiding citizen and an ordinary person. I assure that I will cooperate with the police against your complaint and will tell them truthfully everything that I know about you," said Menon.
 
Warrier, also the first wife of superstar Dileep, had on Monday submitted a complaint with Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra alleging that Menon was trying to defame her and that she feared for her life. She also submitted digital evidence in support of her accusations. Behra has handed over her complaint to a special cell for preliminary investigation.
 
Menon has directed Warrier in Mohanlal-starrer 'Odiyan' as well as several advertisements films. In his Facebook post, he pointed out how he had been instrumental in Warrier's success in the Malayalam film industry.
 
"Over the years because of you, several big people became my enemies and with the passage of time, such people are now your friends, while they continue to have enmity towards me. This may be incidental," asked Menon.
 
"The loss I suffered across all fronts because I was your friend and helped you and besides that, all the success you enjoyed with my help, I feel you have forgotten all that in a jiffy," he added.
 
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Kerala voters beat rain to vote in good numbers

Women braving heavy rains and water-logged streets to cast their votes at a polling station in Ernakulam, Kerala on October 21, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Women braving heavy rains and water-logged streets to cast their votes at a polling station in Ernakulam, Kerala on October 21, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Despite heavy rains lashing most places in Kerala, where five Assembly bye-elections were held on Monday, people came out in good numbers to cast their votes, enthusing the three key rival political fronts which feared a postponement of the poll.
 
The counting of votes will take place on Thursday.
 
Even the worst affected constituency, Ernakulam, which in the first few hours registered only single digit percentage of votes polled, people came out braving rains and water-logging. Those who made it to the polling stations before 6 p.m. were given tokens to cast their votes.
 
The Congress demand to extend the voting time by two hours at Ernakulam was turned down by chief electoral officer Tika Ram Meena.
 
While the Congress and BJP appeared much concerned about the poor turnout in the afternoon, their faces lit up as the day wore on. The final polling figures are expected to come later, as in many booths, presiding officers are yet to give data on poll percentage. The final figures are expected tomorrow morning, officials said.
 
"Our demand to extend the voting time at Ernakulam was not accepted, though it was a genuine demand as many people were unable to get out of their homes because of flooding. However, the present voting figure is good enough," said senior Congress legislator V. D. Sateeshan.
 
Of the five constituencies which went to the polls, four were represented by the Congress-led UDF while the Aroor seat was with the CPI-M.
 
According to the latest polling figures, Aroor recorded the highest turnout with 79.24 per cent, Manjeswaram 75.65, Konni 70, Vatiyoorkavu 62.30 per cent and Ernakulam 56.88 per cent.
 
The CPI-M led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is determined to not only retain Aroor, but also expects a fair chance in Konni as well as Vatiyoorkavu.
 
The Congress expects its winning streak would not be altered and Ramachandran has said the party would wrest the Aroor seat also, giving it a clean sweep
 
Meanwhile at Manjeswaram, a woman, Nabeesa, was arrested and later released on bail for alleged impersonation, a charge she and her family denied.
 
A total of 9,57,509 voters, including 4,91,455 women, 4,66,047 men and seven transgenders were eligible to vote in the bye-elections which had 35 candidates in the fray.
 
IANS
 

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Heavy rains affect polling in Kerala

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Heavy rains dampened voting in bye-elections to five Assembly constituencies in Kerala on Monday morning and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted the showers would continue through the day.
 
The worst affected were Ernakulam and Konni constituencies, which recorded 4.9 per cent and 11.5 per cent voting till 9 a.m., respectively. Among the other three constituencies, Vatiyoorkavu witnessed 11.5 per cent, Aroor 12.8 per cent, and Manjeswaram 16.5 per cent polling till 9 a.m.
 
"A few polling stations have been shifted from the ground floor to the first floor in Ernakulam Assembly constituency. Around 500 officials, including police, are making the arrangements. We will wait for the reports from the district collectors of the constituencies. We have made arrangements to transport voters to the polling stations in some places. If needed, we will extend the polling time as well," said Tika Ram Meena, the Kerala's Chief Electoral Officer.
 
"In all these years, I have not lost the opportunity to cast my vote. I have never seen such rain on a voting day in my life, but I am determined to vote," said a 78-year-old nun, who arrived at a flooded polling station in Ernakulam.
 
In Konni, a constituency with a hilly terrain, voters living in higher areas are finding it hard to reach polling stations after flooding left several roads unmotorable.
 
A total of 9,57,509 voters, including 4,91,455 women, 4,66,047 men and seven transgenders, are deciding the fate of 35 candidates at 846 polling stations in Vatiyoorkavu, Aroor, Konni, Ernakulam and Manjeswaram.
 
Polling began at 7 a.m. and will go on till 6.30 p.m. in the state.
 
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Despite rain, good show by voters in Kerala bypolls

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All three political fronts in Kerala heaved a sigh of relief when they saw voters turning up on Monday morning, despite rains, for the bye-elections in five Assembly constituencies.
 
A total of 9,57,509 voters, including 4,91,455 women, 4,66,047 men and seven transgenders, will decide the fate of 35 candidates by casting their votes at 846 polling stations in Vatiyoorkavu, Aroor, Konni, Ernakulam and Manjeswaram.
 
Polling which began at 7 a.m. will go on till 6.30 p.m.
 
Barring Manjeswaram, there was moderate to heavy rain in the other four constituencies.
 
Barring Aroor, the other four seats were held by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
 
While the bye-elections to Manjeswaram constituency was necessitated by the death of UDF legislator P.B. Abdul Razack, the four other constituencies were vacated after their legislators won the Lok Sabha polls.
 
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Campaigning ends for bye-elections for five Kerala Assembly seats

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Campaigning for the bye-elections to five Assembly constituencies in Kerala -- Vatiyoorkavu, Aroor, Konni, Ernakulam and Manjeswaram -- ended on Saturday evening, with all three political fronts expressing happiness that things are looking encouraging for them.
 
Barring Aroor, the other four seats are held by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) at present.
 
While the bye-election in Manjeswaram was necessitated by the death of UDF legislator P. B. Abdul Razack, the four other constituencies were vacated after their legislators won the Lok Sabha polls.
 
The CPI-M has spared no efforts in its campaign and is hoping to retain Aroor and make giant strides in Vatiyoorkavu and Konni.
 
CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the media on Saturday that his party was confident that what happened in Pala Assembly seat (which the Left wrested from the UDF after 54 years) last month will happen in all the five constituencies.
 
"The Left government has proved it has fulfilled most of its promises and seeing this the UDF is jittery and has started playing the communal card. Helping them in this is the Nair Service Society (the socio-cultural body of the Hindu Nair community). The NSS members are attached to various political parties, but its general secretary Sukumaran Nair is behaving like a UDF worker," said Balakrishnan.
 
State Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran said he was confident his party was going to win all the five seats.
 
"Pala was an aberration and it happens at times. But this time we are supremely confident of the outcome and like the Lok Sabha polls when we won 19 out of 20 seats, this time we will win all the five Assembly seats," said Ramachandran.
 
Senior Indian Union Muslim League leader P. K.Kunhalikutty, who is overseeing his party candidate M. C. Kamarudheen's election campaign in Manjeswaram, said that they will win by a margin of over 10,000 votes.
 
"The fight is with the BJP candidate, as the Left has finished in third place in all recent elections," said Kunhalikutty.
 
BJP candidate K. Surendran is in a triangular fight against CPI-M's K. U. Jenish and Congress' P. Mohanraj in Konni.
 
"Factors are very favourable for me and it looks much better than when I contested the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha seat. This time we are getting support from certain sections, who were not with us during the Lok Sabha polls and hence things are quite encouraging," said Surendran.
 
In Vatiyoorkavu, the BJP had pinned its hopes on former Mizoram Governor Kummanem Rajaesekheran, but after the party failed to get his name cleared to contest the seat, it has fielded S. Suresh from the constituency.
 
"We have made giant strides in the campaign and nothing has been left to chance. I have covered every area in the constituency and the response seems to be favouring me," said Suresh.
 
The CPI-M has fielded local party leader Manu C. Pulickal against Congress candidate Shanimol Usman from Aroor.
 
"This time Usman is going to win and you wait and see, she will win with a sound majority. She is no stranger to the voters here as she has always been with them," said Congress strongman and Kannur Lok Sabha MP K. Sudhakaran, who was busy participating in roadshows with Usman on the last day of the campaign.
 
In Congress stronghold Ernakulam, party candidate T. J. Vinod is sitting pretty as he is also the deputy mayor of Cochin Corporation, while the CPI-M is leading the campaign of young lawyer and Left-backed independent candidate Manu Roy.
 
On Monday, some 9,57,509 voters, including 4,91,455 women, 4,66,047 men and seven transgenders, will decide the fate of 35 candidates by casting their votes at 846 polling stations.
 
IANS
 

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Congress announces candidates for four Kerala Assembly bye-elections

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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

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Kerala CPI-M announces candidates for October 21 bypolls

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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
 

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Tourism Ministers’ Conclave demands reduction in GST on hotel rooms

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Tourism Ministers from different states today made a strong case for reduction, simplification and rationalization of various taxes and levies, including Goods and Services Tax (GST), in tourism and travel industry to attract tourists and cushion stiff global competition.  
 
"The Tourism Ministers’ conclave 2019 at Kovalam, Kerala notes with concern that the GST Council of India has imposed 28% GST on hotel room tariff over Rs.7,500 and 18% tax on rooms with tariffs between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 7,500. This tax rate is high compared with other countries," said a resolution unanimously adopted by the conclave.
 
The resolution, moved by Karnataka Tourism Minister C. T. Ravi, said reduction in GST in hotel rooms is essential to attract more tourists.
 
The resolution also sought measures to reduce high airfares which posed tough competition from other global destinations.
 
"We express concern over the high airfares during peak season and festival periods, which are forcing holidaymakers to opt for economical destinations. Besides, the unexpected closure of certain airlines/carriers has led to increased airfares while minimal air connectivity with 2-tier and 3-tier cities has only compounded the problem," it stated.
 
The conclave also took note of the high and varied inter-state tourist vehicle taxes and called for its rationalization across all the states to ensure seamless travel.
 
In another resolution, the conclave proposed formation of Regional Tourism Councils and developing tourism circuits, which can be region-based and in neighbouring states. “We resolve to jointly promote our tourist attractions across the world in order to give a cutting edge to our campaigns,” it said.
 
The resolution, moved by Odisha Tourism Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi said setting up Regional Tourism Councils will facilitate the periodic interaction among different states and enhance collaboration.
 
The one-day conclave was inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel was the chief guest. Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran presided over the function.
 
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Sreedharan asked to take charge of rebuilding Kerala flyover

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Former Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan was on Monday asked to take charge of rebuilding the Palarivattom flyover in Kochi which was closed down 30 months after it opened.
 
Speaking to the media here, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that he met Sreedharan earlier on Monday and that the latter was of the opinion that it would be best to rebuild it, rather than going for repairs and maintenance.
 
"Sreedharan has submitted his report and we have also received other details from experts from IIT-Chennai. The overall opinion was that it was best the present flyover should be knocked down and a new one should be built. The design, estimate and overall coordination of the new flyover would be done by Sreedharan," said Vijayan.
 
The 750 metre-long Palarivattom flyover in Kochi, was built at a cost of Rs 42 crore during the previous Oommen Chandy government and was supposed to stand for over 100 years. It was opened in October 2016 but after it started crumbling from May 1, 2019, it has been closed for traffic.
 
Vijayan has ordered a Vigilance probe into the entire construction. Last month, the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau (VACB) arrested four top officials involved in the construction of the flyover.
 
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Adani seeks help from Kerala govt on Vizhinjam Port

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With the deadline for completion of the Vizhinjam Port project fast approaching in December, Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt Ltd (AVPPL) has sought support from the Kerala government as the work at the port site is moving at a slow pace.
 
AVPPL owner Gautam Adani at the time of the commencement of the project on December 5, 2015, had said that the first ship will berth there on September 1, 2018, in a record time of fewer than 1,000 days. But this deadline was missed. And with things moving at a snail's pace, meeting the deadline of December 4, 2019 also seems to be difficult.
 
As per the agreement, AVPPL is duty-bound to pay a specific sum for each day of the delay.
 
Sources have said that three letters written by AVPPL to the state government were ignored. After the fourth letter, the Kerala government has decided to set up a committee to look into the matter.
 
The AVPPL has told the Kerala government that it will commission the project in October 2020, but for that it wants help in a big way, as there is a serious shortage of limestone required for building the breakwaters.
 
While the total length of the breakwater is 3.1 km, all that has been constructed till now is a mere 640 metres. Even though there are 19 quarries, the required sanctions for operations have come only for three. The work at the port has also been hampered due to certain local issues and adding to the delay are the floods of 2018 and 2019.
 
Former State Ports Minister K. Babu said that, for some strange reason, the present Left government is not helping AVPPL.
 
"When I was at the helm of affairs, we used to hold regular review meetings and anything which the state government needed to do was taken up. As I was the Minister to ink the project, I took it up as my responsibility and till we were in office, things were smooth. But now this government has completed more than three years, things are not going as it should have happened in a major infrastructure project like this," said Babu.
 
According to the envisaged plan, this would be one of India's deepest ports and 80 per cent of the country's cargo trans-shipments will take place from here.
 
The international multi-purpose deepwater seaport project estimated to cost Rs 7,525 crore was planned by the Oommen Chandy government in 2015 which signed an agreement with AVPPL.
 
The AVPPL, which was the lone bidder for the project, had sought a Rs 1,635 crore grant for it.
 
The project also requires 360 acres of land, of which 130 acres have been reclaimed from the sea. Also part of it is a 10.9 km long railway line.
 
According to the agreement, Adani will operate the port for 40 years, extendable by 20 more years, while the state government will get a portion of the revenue from the port after 15 years.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala government to reinstate suspended DGP

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The Kerala government is set to reinstate the state's seniormost police officer, former Director-General of Police (DGP) Jacob Thomas, who has been under suspension since 2017.
 
But Thomas left everyone guessing when asked if he will return to service, as he has already applied for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS).
 
"Here, we have a government, which always abides by the rule of law. So let's be optimistic. Let the decision come, then it can be seen," said Thomas.
 
Thomas last month received the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order directing the Kerala government to immediately reinstate him. He has been under suspension since December, 2017.
 
The Kerala Home Secretary acting on the CAT directive has sent the file on the reinstatement of Thomas to the Chief Secretary who has put it up before Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
 
Thomas was appointed as Director General of Police (DGP) the same day Vijayan assumed office in May, 2016.
 
Thomas, who was considered close to Vijayan, was asked to go on leave and was later suspended after relations between the two soured. His suspension period was extended several times since then.
 
The suspension was due to a number of cases, including criticising the government on its handling of the Ockhi disaster, writing a book without permission and charges of corruption over buying a dredger when Thomas headed the Ports Department.
 
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BDJS chief arrested in UAE in cheque bounce case

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NDA ally Bharath Dharma Jana Sena's (BDJS) Kerala chief, Thushar Vellapally, who had contested against then Congress President Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad in the recent Lok Sabha elections, has been arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in connection with a cheque bounce case.
 
The BDJS chief was arrested in Ajman late on Wednesday, his father Vellapally Natesan said.
 
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Natesan, who is the General Secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), said his son was trapped and arrested.
 
"We are expecting that he will get bail today," he said.
 
The BDJS chief, who was the candidate for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from the Wayanad parliamentary seat, is currently lodged at a jail in Ajman. He was arrested after a businessman in UAE filed a case when the former's cheque bounced.
 
BDJS is the second biggest ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA in Kerala. Thushar Vellapally lost his deposit when he managed to get a mere 78,816, votes in the election which Gandhi won with the highest-ever margin in Kerala of over 4.30 lakh votes.
 
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