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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.
 
NNN
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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.
 
IANS

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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.
 
IANS
 

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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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Actress Manju Warrier among Kerala film crew trapped in Himachal

Manju Warrier
Manju Warrier
Top Kerala actress Manju Warrier and a 30-member crew of Malayalam film "Kyttem" have been trapped in a Himachal village following rains and landslides, Union Minister V. Muraleedharan said on Tuesday.
 
The Minister of State for External Affairs confirmed this and said he has already spoken to Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
 
Warrier, along with director Sanal Kumar Sashidharan and other crew members, had been shooting in Himachal Pradesh for more than two weeks.
 
Reports that they have been trapped at Chatru village only surfaced late on Monday when the actress called up her brother using a satellite phone.
 
"It was yesterday that she called me and said they were trapped. The area they are trapped in has lost all connectivity. Along with the crew, there are many other people there who are also trapped. The call was very short," Madhu Warrier told the media.
 
Warrier is a hugely popular actress in the South.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala journalist's death: Doctors refute police charge

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The Kerala Government Medical Officer's Association (KGMOA) on Monday refuted the police charge in the accident case in which journalist K. M. Basheer was killed after being hit by a car driven by IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman here early this month.
 
The KGMOA office bearers have written to the Chief Minister and the state police chief alleging that the claim made by the Kerala Police's Special Investigation Team (SIT) in its interim report filed in court that the medical officer on duty did not take Venkitaraman's blood sample, despite being told to do so was wrong.
 
The KGMOA said the police neither verbally told the medical officer on duty to do so nor was there any written request in this regard.
 
Incidentally the doctor, who examined the IAS officer, did mention in the outpatient ticket register that he was smelling of alcohol.
 
This new development comes a day after the management of Siraj newspaper, where Basheer worked, pointed out glaring factual errors in the interim report filed by the SIT.
 
Meanwhile on Monday, officials at Volkswagen, the manufacturer of the car which hit Basheer, examined its crash data recorder to assess the speed of the vehicle when it met with the accident.
 
The State Motor Vehicle Department on Monday also cancelled Venkitaraman's driving licence.
 
Basheer, the Thiruvananthapuram bureau chief of Siraj, was killed after being hit by Venkitaraman's speeding car early this month. The IAS officer was returning from a late-night party with his friend Waha Firoz, who owns the car.
 
It is alleged that the police after coming to know that the accused was an IAS officer, delayed even the mandatory medical tests in case of a road accident.
 
IANS
 

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Centre sanctions Rs 52 crore to flood-hit Kerala, death toll rises to 93

Even as the death toll in flood-hit Kerala rose to 93, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 52 crore as immediate assistance to it while the state government has announced three months of free rations for the victims of the natural disaster.
An aerial view of flood hit Kerala's Malappuram on August 11, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
An aerial view of flood hit Kerala's Malappuram on August 11, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Even as the death toll in flood-hit Kerala rose to 93, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 52 crore as immediate assistance to it while the state government has announced three months of free rations for the victims of the natural disaster.
 
This was announced by Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan. Medicines worth Rs 4 crore would also be sent, he added. 
 
"I was told by the Union Minister of State for Home that when he asked the Kerala Chief Minister if he was happy with the Centre's response, Pinarayi Vijayan remarked, 'This is enough'," said Muraleedharan, who will be touring Wayanad and Malappuram on Friday.
 
According to the latest figures, the rain-induced death toll in Kerala has reached 93 and around 2.24 lakh people were staying at 1,243 relief camps.
 
Kerala Minister for Food and Civil Supplies P. Thilothaman said in the state capital on Tuesday that three months of free rations would be provided to flood victims. "Of course, the Centre has to provide supplies. But what we have in stock will be distributed," said Thilothaman.
 
The worst-hit districts include Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur, Kasargode, Idukki, Kottayam, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Palakkad.
 
The meteorological department has issued a red alert in Malappuram and Kozhikode for Wednesday and all educational institutions at Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kozhikode shall be closed on that day.
 
State Health Minister K.K. Shailaja after a review meeting said with people returning to their homes would be shocked to see the condition of their houses. "Special counselling sessions would be conducted and people are advised to follow medical professionals' advice," said Shailaja.
 
The health department has stated that people in direct contact with flood waters should take a dose of doxicycline.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala cops register cases for fake campaigns on flood relief

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The Kerala Police on Monday registered 19 cases related to fake campaigns on social media over relief work for floods that have ravaged the state.
 
State police chief Loknath Behra said the various cyber wings of the police have registered the cases and the probe has already begun.
 
"The cases have been registered for spreading false campaigns on the relief works and all such people would be arrested and proceeded against as per the law," said Behra.
 
This swift action comes a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that those engaged in these acts are anti-social elements.
 
Around this time last year, Kerala had witnessed the worst-ever floods in a century and since last week heavy rains in most districts of the state have left 83 people dead and over 2.60 lakh people holed up in around 1,500 relief camps across the state.
 
IANS

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Kerala gets temporary relief from rain on Monday

The rains appear to have reduced drastically on Monday in Kerala, providing relief to those engaged in rescue operations in the flood-hit districts even as the death toll has touched 77 and 2.87 lakh people remained in 1654 camps across the state.
An aerial view of flood hit Kerala's Malappuram on August 11, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
An aerial view of flood hit Kerala's Malappuram on August 11, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The rains appear to have reduced drastically on Monday in Kerala, providing relief to those engaged in rescue operations in the flood-hit districts even as the death toll has touched 77 and 2.87 lakh people remained in 1654 camps across the state.
 
With the weather turning sunny on Monday, various rescue teams are working hard in the worst-affected areas of Meppadi in Wayanad and Kavalapara in Malappuram.
 
State Minister of Higher Education K. T. Jaleel, who reached Kavalapara on Monday to oversee the rescue operations, said that whatever is humanely possible is being done to recover the remaining bodies, that are suspected to be lying under the mud.
 
"Initially, it was said 63 people in this area are missing, but later four of them were traced to their relatives' houses. Of the remaining 59, till now 14 bodies have been recovered. Today we have got more heavy earth-moving equipment which will be engaged in recovering all the remaining bodies. No efforts will be spared at all," assured Jaleel.
 
The maximum deaths -- 18 -- were reported from Wayanad, while Malappuram, Palakkad, Idukki, and Kozhikode have also reported casualties.
 
The meteorological department said that there is no red alert in any district on Monday, but more rains are predicted in the coming three days.
 
"Starting tomorrow, rains will be heavy in Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Idukki till Wednesday, while on Thursday it's going to be isolated rains," said the IMD official, here.
 
Like in the past few days, Monday also saw a few long-distance trains being cancelled for the day, but more trains that were cancelled earlier have been restored.
 
Meanwhile, Alappuzha district, which witnessed the worst ever floods last year, has more than 10,000 people in relief camps this year as several low-lying areas are submerged due to heavy rains.
 
Wayanad Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who has been touring his constituency since Sunday, has assured all help to the people who are suffering.
 
"We are all with you in this hour of crisis and I call upon not just Congress workers, but all the people to work to ease the sufferings of the people. You don't have to worry about your future as we will help you rebuild your lives," said Gandhi while addressing a relief camp at Thiruvampady.
 
According to preliminary estimates given by State Agriculture Minister V. S. Sunil Kumar, more than 18,000 hectares of various agricultural crops have affected about 81,000 farmers and the total estimated loss as of now stands above Rs 800 crore.
 
IANS

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Kerala rains: 42 dead, over 1 lakh in relief camps

The death toll in Kerala floods has reached 42 and more than one lakh people have been shifted to over 800 relief camps across the rain-battered state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Saturday.
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 death toll in Kerala floods has reached 42 and more than one lakh people have been shifted to over 800 relief camps across the rain-battered state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Saturday.
 
The 42 deaths, of which 11 are from Wayanad, have been reported in the past three days.
 
Addressing the media here after a review meeting on the floods, Vijayan said that 80 landslides, which have caused the maximum destruction, have been reported from eight worst-affected districts, including Meppadi in Wayanad and Kavalapara in Malappuram districts.
 
"Authorities are still not able to ascertain the actual number of missing in these two areas. According to unconfirmed reports, 41 are missing from Kavalapara," said Vijayan.
 
A red alert for heavy rain has been issued today in Ernakulam, Palakkad, Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Waynad and Kannur.
 
"In Wayanad, the Banasura dam is overflowing. People living in the downstream of the dam have been moved to relief camps. The dam gates will be opened today at 3 p.m.," said Vijayan.
 
"The biggest problem is that we are not able to conduct aerial operations due to inclement weather conditions in the worst affected places. It has been informed to us that as soon as the weather clears ups, the aerial operations will be carried out in those areas," said Vijayan.
 
He said that despite heavy rains, water level has gone up in only three dams. It continues to be low in Idukki and Pathanamthitta, he said.
 
"The rains in Ernakulam district have slowed down. All the government officials and offices are engaged in relief work and will be working on holidays. Cellphone towers on wheels are being set up in areas where communication facilities have been snapped," said Vijayan.
 
"The railways are working overtime to take stock of the damages and commence operations of trains. The Army's help has been sought for inspection of bridges," he said.
 
However, the Meteorological Department has predicted more rains in the state in the coming days.
 
Meanwhile, with rain subsiding in Ernakulam, water has receded from the Cochin International Airport and operations are likely to commence from Sunday afternoon.
 
Emirates Airlines on Saturday announced that they will operate additional flights from Thiruvananthapuram airport following cancellations of flights from Cochin airport over the past few days.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala rains: 28 dead, 64,000 in 738 relief camps

With incessant rain in Kerala, the death toll has reached 28 and over 64,000 people have shifted into 738 relief camps across the rain-battered state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Friday.
A view of a flood-hit area of Nilambur in Kerala on August 8, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A view of a flood-hit area of Nilambur in Kerala on August 8, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
With incessant rain in Kerala, the death toll has reached 28 and over 64,000 people have shifted into 738 relief camps across the rain-battered state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Friday.
 
So far, 20 deaths caused by the floods have been reported across the state. Eight deaths had been reported on Thursday.
 
"These figures are till 3 p.m . The major message that we have to send out to the people living in worst affected districts is please listen to the authorities when they come with the message asking people to move to camps," Vijayan said here addressing the media on Friday evening after chairing a review meeting on relief and rescue operations.
 
He said a red alert had been issued for Saturday in the worst affected districts of Ernakulam, Palakkad, Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur.
 
"Had the people in the outskirts of Nilambur in Malappuram listened, a big tragedy could have been averted. We are told that 19 families who were told to move out did so, and in the very same area, 40 people who failed to listen to the authorities are reported missing after it was hit by landslide. 
 
"Three bodies have been recovered and two were saved. This should not happen, please listen to the authorities," Vijayan said.
 
He also said that Wayanad district continues to be the worst affected, while the situation get tougher if the gates of the Banasura dam were to be opened.
 
"A team of ministers are in Wayanad overseeing the operations and by tomorrow (Saturday) morning all will get the required facilities at the relief camps that are being set up across Wayanad district," he added.
 
Earlier on Friday, Vijayan assured people there was no need to panic at all as things are under control.
 
"If one compares with the floods that took place the same time last year, this time it's not that serious. As a government, we have taken every precaution and there need be no panic, but just be alert. The need of the hour is people should cooperate with the authorities, if they are asked to move out from places which are likely to turn dangerous, they must comply," he said.
 
"At Mepadi, an entire hill has been washed away. The inclement weather is preventing aerial operations, even as the Air Force team is ready and waiting to reach there. The Centre has pledged all possible help.
 
"The meteorological department has predicted more rains in the next 24 hours, especially in the hilly areas of the state. Also, North Kerala is going to be affected by winds. The prediction is that from tomorrow the intensity of the rains is going to come down, but on August 15th, it's going to rain heavily," Vijayan added.
 
On the presence of the forces which are engaged in relief and rescue operations, he said there are 13 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and three teams each of the engineering task force and the Army.
 
"Two more columns of the Army are arriving. With the Cochin airport closed till Sunday, efforts are on to see if the Cochin Naval Base airport can be opened (it was open during last year's floods). The Centre is always in touch with us," he said.
 
He also said that the 67th edition of the Nehru Boat Race, to be held on Saturday at Alappuzha, has been postponed.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala rain toll touches 23, more than 22,000 shifted to relief camps

A view of a flood-hit area of Nilambur in Kerala on August 8, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A view of a flood-hit area of Nilambur in Kerala on August 8, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Incessant rains in Kerala have claimed 23 lives in the past two days. Over 22,000 people have been shifted to some 315 relief camps across the state, officials said.
 
Till late on Thursday the toll was eight, but a fresh count took the numbers to 23 on Friday. The worst affected districts include Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad, Kasargode and Idukki and the deaths have also been reported from these areas.
 
There has been 260 mm of rain in Wayanad -- the parliamentary constituency of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. A huge landslide has marooned around 2,000 people in Meppadi in the district. 
 
A temple, mosque and estate workers quarters have collapsed in the area. It's from this area that four bodies have been recovered from under the debris.
 
With the area still cut off, Gandhi has urged for help from the Centre. Authorities are trying their best to get the Air Force to begin rescue operations.
 
All schools, colleges and other educational institutions were shut in all the 14 districts on Friday keeping in mind the devastating rain and flood that had hit the state in a century last year.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sought the Indian Army's help in relief and rescue operations.
 
A dozen teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are already at the job.
 
The situation worsened as the pace of the rising level of water is causing serious concern in parts of Pathanamthitta and Thrissur with most of the rivers there in spate.
 
Around 500 of those marooned in Meppadi have been moved to relief camps, a medical professional of the state government who is giving the required medical attention told the media that even though there are no serious ailments, all of them are in a state of mental shock.
 
"We have assured all people, that they do not have to worry , as the state government will take care of their needs," State Education Minister C. Raveendranath said.
 
The railways have cancelled 12 trains and many had to be diverted. Road traffic has also been thrown out of gear with many stretches vanishing under water.
 
The Cochin airport has been closed till Sunday leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.
 
IANS

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Kerala HC slams police in IAS officer accident case

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The Kerala High Court on Wednesday criticised the way the police went about their job in collecting evidence against IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman who secured bail in a road accident case that caused the death of a journalist, even as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the guilty will not be allowed to go scot-free.
 
On Tuesday the IAS officer got bail from a lower court in the state capital and on Wednesday the Kerala government moved an urgent petition seeking to cancel the bail.
 
The High Court went to the extent of asking the prosecution if they expected the accused to come up with evidence against himself.
 
"Is this the way the police goes about collecting evidences in a road accident case? There is no excuse for this lapse when the required procedures were not followed," said the court.
 
The court however refused to stay the bail granted by the lower court and posted the case for further hearing on Friday.
 
Reacting to the day's developments, Vijayan said after the weekly Cabinet meeting in the state capital that none who are found guilty will be spared in the investigation.
 
"A special police team has already been appointed to look into all aspects of the case and it includes on how the mandatory procedures in such a case were not followed," said Vijayan.
 
"The society at large knows that Venkitaraman drove the vehicle in a rash manner and was under the influence of alcohol. The only person who says that he was not under the influence of alcohol is him. The local sub-inspector of police who erred in his duty in collecting evidence has been suspended. None need to be worried in this case, as all those who have erred will be brought before the law," said Vijayan.
 
Even though, two witnesses have said the IAS officer was seen under the influence of alcohol, the police team failed to take the blood samples on time, giving Venkitaraman enough space to wriggle out. The blood sample was taken nine hours later and the report came up negative for alcohol.
 
Venkitaraman is lodged at the intensive care unit of the state-run medical college hospital here.
 
On Tuesday, Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose ordered Venkitaraman's suspension. According to rules, if an officer is arrested he has to be suspended from the service within 48 hours.
 
Returning from a late-night party, an allegedly drunk Venkitaraman knocked down and killed K.M. Basheer, a journalist with a Malayalam daily, with his car on August 3. Venkitaraman was accompanied by a woman friend Waha Firoz to whom the car belonged.
 
As the police came to know that he was an IAS officer, they delayed even the mandatory medical tests in case of a road accident.
 
Meanwhile, state Congress president Mulappally Ramachandran alleged that all that has happened till now is a script that has been prepared by the office of Vijayan, the CPI-M and the state police which helped the accused to get bail.
 
"The court will only go by evidences and in this case, everything has been destroyed and all that Vijayan is doing now is an eyewash. The best Vijayan can do is to see that he gives up the Home portfolio," said Ramachandran.
 
IANS

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Kerala IAS officer gets bail in scribe road death case

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Due to delayed police action, IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman, arrested for causing death to a journalist in a road accident and charged under non-bailable sections, was granted bail, here on Tuesday.
 
When the bail plea came up before the Thiruvananthapuram chief judicial magistrate court, it asked for proof that the officer was drunk and told the police to produce the case diary and also the test report.
 
The police produced the required documents and demanded Venkitaraman's custody for further probe, but the court disallowed it and granted him bail.
 
Even though the two witnesses have said the officer was seen under the influence of alcohol, the police team failed to take the blood samples on time, giving Venkitaraman enough space to wriggle out. The blood sample was taken nine hours later and the report showed negative for alcohol.
 
Venkitaraman is lodged at the intensive care unit of the state-run medical college hospital, here. 
 
On Monday, Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose ordered Venkitaraman's suspension. According to rules, if an officer is arrested he has to be suspended from the service within 48 hours.
 
Returning from a late-night party, an allegedly drunk Venkitaraman knocked down K. M. Basheer, a journalist with a Malayalam daily, with his car on August 3. Venkitaraman was accompanied by a woman friend Waha Firoz to whom the car belonged.
 
As the police came to know that he was an IAS officer, they delayed even the mandatory medical tests in case of a road accident. Even though several ministers condemned the incident, the police 'failed' to act on time. It led to an outrage.
 
According to Firoz's statement recorded before the magistrate, Venkitaraman was driving the car when the accident took place. He was under the influence of alcohol and was driving at a high speed.
 
Meanwhile, following a huge public outrage, a new team has been constituted to probe into the case afresh and to see if there were any lapses by the local police.
 
The Siraj newspaper management on Tuesday filed a petition demanding that the court monitor the probe and also direct the accused to undergo a dopamine test.
 
Media critic Roy Mathew said it was a classic case of manipulation by the high and mighty to get away.
 
IANS
 

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Tourist arrivals in Kerala grow by 14% in second quarter

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Tourist arrivals in Kerala in the second quarter of 2019 have grown by 14.81 per cent as against the figures of the corresponding period in the previous year, Kerala Tourism said on Tuesday.
 
Figures released by Kerala Tourism reveal an increase of 639,271 tourists (both domestic and foreign) during April-June this year.
 
The total number of domestic tourists who visited Kerala during the second quarter of 2019 was recorded at 47,79,739 as compared to 41,49,122 tourists during the same period in 2018. A total of 1,82,320 foreign tourists visited Kerala in second of 2019 as compared to 1,67,666 during the corresponding period a year earlier.
 
In the first quarter (January-March), the total number of tourist arrivals was 46,12,937 as compared to 43,18,406 during the same period in 2018.
 
Of the 14 districts in Kerala, Ernakulam registered the highest footfall with an increase of 1.71 lakh, followed by Idukki with 1.35 lakh. The total number of visitors in Ernakulam was 10,70,613 in the second quarter of 2019 as against 8,98,784 in the second quarter of 2018 while the figures for Idukki were 5,27,311 and 3,91,674, respectively.
 
State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the positive growth rate in tourist arrivals was achieved by a string of measures that the state government undertook swiftly to repair the damage caused by the floods to tourism infrastructure.
 
"We also launched an aggressive marketing strategy in both domestic and foreign markets to bolster our presence in the highly competitive tourism marketplace. The results are now there for everyone to see," he added.
 
"This clearly indicates that Kerala has now fully overcome the negative trend in arrival of foreign guests, which was largely caused by the floods last year," the minister said.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala IAS officer suspended, bail plea to be heard on Tuesday

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IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman, charged with killing a journalist in a road accident and lodged at the intensive care unit of the state-run medical college hospital, here, on Monday was suspended from service.
 
Venkitaraman's suspension order was issued by Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose. According to the All India Service rules, if an officer is arrested he/she should be suspended from the service within 48 hours. 
 
On Sunday night, the IAS officer was shifted from a luxury private hospital to the district jail. But after two hours, he was sent to the medical college hospital's 'prison cell'.
 
Meanwhile, a local court on Monday posted the hearing on Venkitaraman's bail plea for Tuesday. Venkitaraman had re-joined the service and was posted Director of Surveys only last week after a year's study leave.
 
Returning from a late-night party, an allegedly drunk Venkitaraman knocked down K. M. Basheer, a journalist with a Malayalam daily, with his car on Saturday. Venkitaraman was accompanied by a woman friend Waha Firoz to whom the car belonged.
 
As the police came to know that he was an IAS officer, they played truant and delayed even the mandatory medical tests in case of a road accident. It led to an outrage.
 
As the outrage continued to swell, Industries Minister E. P. Jayrajan, a close aide of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said during a condolence meeting at the Press Club here, the best thing this irresponsible IAS officer could do was to submit his resignation. This sort of behaviour was not acceptable, he said.
 
"All those who had a role in allowing the accused to escape will be brought before law," said Jayarajan.
 
Health Minister K. K. Shailaja said a medical board had been set up to conduct a detailed check-up on Venkitaraman. "He will get no special treatment and will be treated like any other accused," said Shailaja.
 
State Congress chief Mulapally Ramachandran said the nightlife of some IAS and IPS officers was a reason for worry .
 
Electricity Minister M. M. Mani said a mere Sub-Inspector alone could not allow the law-breakers to escape. "There are powerful officials behind this goof-up. The state government will not spare any such person," Mani said.
 
According to Firoz's statement recorded before the magistrate, Venkitaraman was driving the car when the accident took place. He was under the influence of alcohol and was driving at a high speed.
 
Meanwhile, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists in a letter to the Chief Minister has sought Rs 50 lakh compensation for Basheer's family, which includes the widow and two young daughters. They have also demanded government job matching the qualifications for Basheer's widow.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala: Amid drama, IAS man in accident row now in govt hospital

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An IAS officer, charged with killing a young journalist in a road accident, was on Sunday shifted from a luxury private hospital here to the district jail but, after two hours at its gate, was sent to the Medical College hospital's 'prison cell'.
 
The developments came amid outrage over Kerala Police's handling of the case. 
 
Returning from a late-night party, IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman, who was allegedly drunk, knocked down K. M. Basheer, a journalist with a Malayalam daily, with his car early on Saturday. Venkitraman was accompanied by his woman friend, Waha Firoz, to whom the car belonged.
 
Venkitaraman was, however, allowed to get admitted to the luxury room at the KIMS hospital on Saturday morning.
 
With the media pursuing this case and highlighting the police's lapses, including taking delaying taking Venkitaraman's blood sample, police arrested the IAS officer.
 
He was then brought on a stretcher with his face almost masked to be produced before the local magistrate, who came into the ambulance to have a look at Venkitaraman.
 
After that, the magistrate went into his house and after some time, directed the police to send him to judicial custody. 
 
The ambulance then took him to the jail but stayed at its entrance for two hours.
 
In between, the jail doctor came and examined Venkitaraman and after discussions with the top jail officials, decided to shift him to the prison cell at the state-run Medical College hospital here.
 
The officer was sent to jail after Kerala Union of Working Journalists' Thiruvananthapuram President Suresh Vellimanagalem told the media that if Venkitaraman is not moved out from KIMS hospital with immediate effect, the journalist fraternity will begin a protest before the hospital.
 
Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, also demanded that a medical bulletin on the condition of Venkitaraman be released.
 
"According to the All India Service rules, now that his arrest has been recorded, he should be suspended from service... that has not happened. Also, a probe should be initiated to find out how crucial lapses occurred the way the police handled this case after the accident occurred and for this Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should act," the Congress leader said.
 
State Public Works Department Minister and senior CPI-M leader G. Sudhakaran said that IAS officers should be treated like common people. "If someone is IAS, it does not mean anything.... such people are not God," he said.
 
State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran said that when Venkitaraman did good when he was in service, the government appreciated it and now when he has done a wrong, the law will take its course, as everyone is equal before law.
 
Meanwhile, Venkitaraman will move a court here on Monday for bail.
 
IANS
 

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IAS officer in accident row sent to jail after protests

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An IAS officer, charged with killing a young journalist in a road accident, was on Sunday shifted from a luxury private hospital here to jail after outrage over Kerala Police's handling of the case.
 
Returning from a late-night party, IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman, who was allegedly drunk, knocked down K. M. Basheer, a journalist with a Malayalam daily, with his car early on Saturday. Venkitraman was accompanied by his woman friend, Waha Firoz, to whom the car belonged.
 
Venkitaraman was, however, allowed to get admitted to the luxury room at the KIMS hospital on Saturday morning.
 
With the media pursuing this case and highlighting the police's lapses, including delay in taking Venkitaraman's blood sample, police arrested the IAS officer.
 
He was then brought on a stretcher with his face almost masked to be produced before the local magistrate, who came into the ambulance to have a look at Venkitaraman.
 
After that, the magistrate went into his house and after some time, directed the police to remand him to judicial custody.
 
The officer was sent to jail after Kerala Union of Working Journalists' Thiruvananthapuram President Suresh Vellimanagalem told the media that if Venkitaraman is not moved out from KIMS hospital with immediate effect, the journalist fraternity will begin a protest before the hospital.
 
Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, also demanded that a medical bulletin on the condition of Venkitaraman be released.
 
"According to the All India Service rules, now that his arrest has been recorded, he should be suspended from service... that has not happened. Also, a probe should be initiated to find out how crucial lapses occurred the way the police handled this case after the accident occurred and for this Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should act," the Congress leader said.
 
State Public Works Department Minister and senior CPI-M leader G. Sudhakaran said that IAS officers should be treated like common people. "If someone is IAS, it does not mean anything.... such people are not God," he said.
 
State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran said that when Venkitaraman did good when he was in service, the government appreciated it and now when he has done a wrong, the law will take its course, as everyone is equal before law.
 
IANS
 

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