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Thiruvananthapuram | NetIndian
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Thiruvananthapuram

She Taxis to extend services to women in Kochi

The first She Taxis on the road in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on November 20, 2013.
The first She Taxis on the road in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on November 20, 2013.
She Taxi, a first-of-its-kind 24x7 taxi service owned and operated by women entrepreneurs for women travellers launched in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in November last year, will begin operations in Kochi from tomorrow.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will inaugurate the service here at a ceremony at the Ernakulam Town Hall tomorrow. Popular Malayalam film actress Manju Warrier, the goodwill ambassador of the service, will flag off the first trip.
 
Warrier volunteered to support the transport service after she herself had first-hand experience of the difficulties and worries of travelling in unfamiliar cities at odd hours.  
 
“As someone who has had first-hand experience of the difficulties and worries of travelling in unfamiliar cities at odd hours, I know how important a service of this kind will be to women. I also respect the women who have come forward to operate these taxis given the challenges they are expected to face in a male-dominated business,” she added.
 
The project, conceived and implemented by the Gender Park under the aegis of the Department of Social Justice, is being extended to Kochi after its success in Thiruvanathapuram.
 
Union Minister K V Thomas, Kerala Ministers M K Muneer, V K Ebrahim Kunju, K Babu and Anoop Jacob , and Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany will be present on the occasion.
 
The fleet operations and marketing will be handled by Technopark-based Rain Concert Technologies Ltd, which is setting up a 24-hour call center in Kochi for the purpose.
 
The Gender Park is an initiative by Kerala’s Department of Social Justice, with an objective of unifying all activities in the state aimed at attaining gender equity.  The service will soon be introduced in the city of Calicut and in a phased manner in other locations.
 
The pilot service introduced in Thiruvananthapuram last year with an initial fleet of five cars has now expanded to 25 cabs and has carried more than 9,000 passengers so far. The project helped generate more than Rs 15 lakhs in revenues in just five months of its launch.
 
The customized pink and white taxis, supplied by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., have collectively covered more than 2, 00,000 kilometres inside and outside the state. The She Taxi service has so far received 3,700 trip bookings, night time travel accounting for around 1,600 of these, a release from the company added.
 
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Premium superfast special trains to run between Trivandrum, Nizamuddin

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The Southern Railway will run premium superfast special trains between Trivandrum Central in Kerala and Nizamuddin, Delhi on May 10 and 17.
 
A press release from Southern Railway said the first train (Number 06314) will start from Trivandrum Central at 06.40 AM on 10.05.2014 and will reach Nizamuddin at 07.10 AM o­n 12.05.2014.
 
 It will have stoppages o­nly at Ernakulam Town, Mangalore Junction, Madgaon, Vadodara and Kota Junction.
 
 The composition of the train will be 3 coaches of 2AC, 2 coaches of 3AC,and7 coaches of Sleeper classes, it said.
 
Booking for 10.05.14 will commence today and booking will only be through e-ticketing till 4 hours before the departure of the train, the release added.
 
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CBI registers two cases on alleged multi-crore land fraud in Kerala

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had registered two cases on the directions of the Kerala High Court in two writ petitions relating to alleged multi-crore land fraud at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram in the state.
 
A press release from the agency said the first case was registered under sections 468, 471,511 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on April 24 against two then officials of the Revenue Department and three private persons on the allegations that they indulged in land grabbing, cheating, forgery and so on to the tune of approximately Rs. 25 crore.
 
The release said the case was initially registered at Kalamassery Police Station under sections 468,471,511 and 420 of IPC on 17.8.2013 on the basis of a complaint received from a private person. 
 
It was alleged that the accused persons criminally conspired with each other and prepared false forged and fabricated documents of the properties of complainant’s family with an intention to misappropriate his ancestral land measuring 116 cents at Pathadipalam, Thrikkakara North village, Ernakulam (Kerala) to the cost of approximately Rs. 25 crores.
 
The complainant further alleged that his family was having enmity with the said accused persons and a number of civil and criminal cases were pending in various courts and police stations. The case were subsequently investigated by CB CID, EOW-II, Kottayam (Kerala).
 
The second case was registered under section 120 B read with sections 420, 465, 468 & 471 of IPC and under sections 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on 24.4.2014 against 27 accused persons including certain revenue and other Government officials and private persons . 
 
This case was initially inquired into by Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau, Thiruvananthapuram and they had submitted a report before the High Court.
 
It has been alleged in the FIR that the accused persons had conspired to grab private land in Kadakampally village measuring about 44 acres at a cost of approximately Rs. 450 crores by fabricating and manipulating revenue records of Kadakampally village. The accused persons allegedly entered into illegal transactions including mutations in the records of the village office and thereby deprived the legal title holders of the land of their possession and ownership, the release said.
 
Further investigation in both the cases are continuing, the release added.
 
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MRVC submits feasibility report on Thiruvananthapuram-Chengannur RRTS project in Kerala

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The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has submitted its feasibility study report on the proposed Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS) from Thiruvananthapuram to Chengannur in Kerala.
 
MRVC had been appointed by the Kerala Government to carry out the feasibility study for the project on the 125 km route.
 
The existing system on this double line railway stretch 25 kv AC traction, broad gauge and multi-aspect colour light signaling (MACLS).  
 
An official press release said the tentative project cost of the proposed RRTS has been put at Rs 3330.78 crores and the funding for it is expected to come from the state government, multilateral funding, the Union Ministry of Urban Development, infrastructure and tax-free bonds, borrowig from Indian Railway Finance Corporation Ltd. and loans from banks and financial institutions.
 
The report said the daily average expense for journeys in the proposed RRTS will be Rs 87.77 compared to Rs 60.54 by bus and Rs 237.91 by car; based on journeys on 25 days a month. The minimum fare recommended is Rs 10 with a price range of Rs 0.80 to Rs 2 per kilometer.
 
The Kerala government has proposed the RRTS to ensure unhinderd movement on the route, which has many state government offices and currently witnesses heavy traffic congestion.
 
There is limited scope of road widening; high incidence of road casualties and inability to introduce additional train services with the existing infrastructure.
 
The survey conducted as part of the feasibility study shows that Thiruvananthapuram has a daily boarding of 43,472 passengers and daily alighting of 43,122 with Kollam 17,069 and 16,017 and Chengannur 2626 and 2210.
 
The present commuter profile includes students, government employees, IT sector professionals and daily wage labourers. The existing factors in favour of RRTS on the Thiruvananthapuram-Chengannur railway route are the 27 stations, including major ones like Thiruvananthapuram Central, Kollam, Kayamkulam and Chengannur; average inter-station distance of 4.65 km; bi-directional peak trips and a line leading to Ernakulam via Alappuzha (single line) and another line leading to Ernakulam via Chengannur.
 
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Further, the report points to the cost effective side of RRTS. It requires only the upgrading of existing railway network and does not recommend construction of a new rail corridor. Besides cost, other benefits of RRTS are that the corridor will develop a continuous urban segment, paving way for the emergence of service industries and development of integrated townships, accelerated regional development and job creation through improved connectivity.
 
The report has also identified certain existing challenges in the form of large number of level crossing gates (78); gradient of 1:100 posing a challenge to automatic signaling system; crowding during peak morning and evening hours; land acquisition/resettlement and rehabilitation; non-uniform platform heights and trespassing, especially at major stations.
 
As part of the project, the report has recommended augmentation of railway stations at Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam and also yard modifications at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochuveli, Kollam and Mavelikara. 
 
It has also recommended raising the level of 20 platforms to the standard height of 840 mm. 
 
The proposed signaling system will be Automatic Block Signaling (ABS) with Train Protection and Warning System for enhanced safety. 
 
The RRTS will have the railway line divided into series of sections or blocks of 1 km and the average speed would be 57 km/hour.
 
The proposed organizational models pertaining to Strategy for Institutional Structure for Creation / Augmentation of Infrastructure are: 1. Implementation of Project by existing Railway PSU 2. Formation of joint special purpose vehicle (SPV) between Government of Kerala and Indian Railways and 3. Implementation of project by Indian Railways through Southern Railway. 
 
And the proposed organizational models relating to Strategy for Institutional Structure for Operations and Maintenance are: 1. Operation and Maintenance by Indian Railways and 2. Formation of Special Purpose Vehicle by Government of Kerala.              
 
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Fahad Faasil, Lal share Best Actor award in Kerala Film Awards

Fahad Faasil and Ann Augustine in a still from the movie Artist.
Fahad Faasil and Ann Augustine in a still from the movie Artist.
CR No. 89, directed by P P Sudevan, bagged the Best Film Award in the 46th Kerala State Film Awards announced here today by Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.
 
Anil Radhakrishnan's North 24 Kaatham was chosen as the second best film, while Shyamaprasad won the Best Director Award for Artist.
 
Fahad Faasil (Artist and North 24 Kaatham) and Lal (Ayaal and Zachariayude Garbhinikal) shared the Best Actor Award while Ann Augustine bagged the Best Actress award for her role in Artist.
 
Suraj Venaramoodu, who has won a name for himself in comic roles and who won this year's Best Actor award in the National Film Awards, was chosen the 
Best Comedian for his roles in Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum.
 
Several of this year's awards went to younger artistes, Mr Radhakrishnan pointed out.
 
The awards were finalised by a jury headed by well-known Tamil filmmaker Bharathi Raja.
 
The following is the list of awardees:
 
Best Film: CR No 89, Director: Sudevan
Second Best Film: North 24 Kaatham, Director: Anil C Radhakrishnan
Best Actor: Fahad Faasil (Artist and North 24 Kaatham), Lal (Ayal and Zachariayude Garbhinikal)
Best Actress: Ann Augustine (Artist)
Best Director: Shayamaprasad (Artist)
Second Best Actor: Ashok Kumar (CR No 89)
Second Best Actress: Lena (Left Right Left)
Best Child Artist: Sanoop Santhosh (Philips and the Monkey Pen), Baby Anika (5 Sundarikal)
Best Comedian: Suraj Venjaramoodu (Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus, Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum)
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Best Story: Aneesh Anwar (Zachariyayude Garbhinikal)
Best Screenplay: Bobby-Sanjay (Mumbai Police)
Best Cinematography: Sudeep Vasudevan (Ayaal)
Best Lyrics: Prabha Varma, Madhu Vasudev (Nadan)
Best Music Director: Ouseppachan (Ottakku Padunna Poonkuyile - Nadan)
Best Background Music Director: Bijibal (Balyakalasakhi)
Best Male Playback Singer: Karthik (Janmandarangalil - Orissa)
Best Female Playback Singer: Vaikom Vijayalakshmi  (Ottakku Padunna Poonkuyile - Nadan)
Best Film Editor: K. Rajagopal (Oru Indian Pranayakatha)
Best Art Director: M. Bava (Amen)
Best Sound Recordist: Harikumar
Best Colourist: Raghuraman (Ayaal) 
Best Makeup Artist: Pattanam Rasheed
Best Costume Designer:  Siji Thomas
Best Dubbing Artist: Ambooty (male), Sreeja Ravi (female)
Best Choreography: Kumar-Shanti
Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value: Drishyam, Director: Jeethu Joseph
Best Children's Film: Philips and the Monkey Pen, Directors: Rojin Thomas and Shanil Muhammed
Best Debut Director: K. R. Manoj (Kanyaka Talkies)
Special Jury Awards
Aneesh Anwar: Direction, (Zachariyayude Garbhinikal)
Suresh Unnithan: Direction (Ayaal)
Kalabhavan Shajon: Acting (Drishyam)
Sanusha: Acting (Zachariyayude Garbhinikal)
Mridula Warrier: Singing (Kalimannu)
Afzal Yusuf: Music Direction (Immanuel, God for Sale)
 
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PM defends UPA record, urges people to counter BJP's "divisive ideology"

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today strongly defended the performance of his government in the last ten years and asserted that it was only the Congress party that could counter the divisive ideology of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
"I urge you to contribute to this cause," he said while campaigning for the coming Lok Sabha elections in Ernakulam in Kerala.
 
Referring to the various steps taken by his government over the past deade, he said that often, in the din of electioneering, facts are ignored and propaganda by some political parties seeks to mislead people.
 
He said that it was not possible to either banish poverty from the country or generate adequate employment opportunities for the youth withut rapid economic gowth.
 
"Our record in this area has definitely been better than that of any other Government in the past. The average annual growth rate that we have achieved in the last decade is better than that of any other ten year period. And we have achieved this despite facing two global economic crises," he said.
 
Dr Singh said that the government had also ensured that all sections of society, especially the weaker ones, and all parts of the country benefited from the process of development.
 
"Between the years 2004 and 2011, poverty has declined three times faster than earlier and the number of poor has gone down by about 14 crore," he said.
 
He reeled out figures and listed the steps taken by the government to showcase its achievements in the agriculture, human resource development, education, health, skill development, infrastructure, industry and other sectors.
 
He also spoke at length the steps taken for the development of Kerala and about the role played in this regard by Congress leaders from the state.
 
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He said the Centre had made an investment of nearly Rs 70,000 crore  in Kerala in the last ten years, helping it to achieve an impressive average growth rate that is higher than the national average.
 
Dr Singh admtted that, in the past, the government was not able to control inflation despite its best efforts. 
 
"However, in the recent weeks our efforts to curb inflation have shown good results.  A major cause for inflation has been the rising prices of food commodities. The permanent solution to this problem lies in increasing the supply of various commodities of mass consumption," he said.
 
At the same time, he stressed that, in the last ten years, the goverment had not even once increased the prices of commodities being made available to the poor through the Public Distribution System. 
 
He described as "completely false" the accusation that the government had not tried hard enough to check corruption and said the truth was that it had taken more measures than any other regime to contain the evil. He listed the various anti-corruption laws enacted by Parliament and said some more laws could not be passed because of a total lack of cooperation by the Opposition.
 
Dr Singh said voters in Kerala had proved time and again that the state had no space for a "divisive party like the BJP". He said the Left, which had on occasions ruled Kerala, had either been unable to or had refused to change with the times.
 
"The result is that their policies and programmes do not take into account the realities of the day and lead to a slow down of the processes of growth and development. The people of India have recognized this and that is why the Left parties suffered heavy losses in the 2009 General elections and also lost Kerala and West Bengal in the subsequent Assembly elections. I believe that the Left parties will continue to decline unless they show some willingness to change their dogmatic ways of thinking," he said.
 
He condemned the increasing incidents of political violence in Kerala and urged the people to outrightly reject this cult of violence.
 
Dr Singh said that the Congress, if voted back to power at the Centre, would speed up the processes of nation-building and work even harder for the well-being and prosperity of the people.
 
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First ever ‘GREAT British festival’ in Kerala at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi

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The first ever GREAT British Festival in Kerala will be held here tomorrow and in Kochi on March 14 to encourage new business partnerships as a follow-up of Prince Charles' visit to Kochi in November 2013.
 
The festival, organised by the British Deputy High Commission in Chennai, will showcase the United Kingdom's commitment to Kerala through its innovation and expertise in: infrastructure, creative and digital media/ICT, manufacturing, healthcare, education, financial services and retail.
 
More than 35 British companies will participate and encourage new partnerships in Kerala during the festival, a press release from the British Deputy High Commission said.
 
Mr Bharat Joshi, British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai said, "The royal visit was evidence of how much the UK values the relationship with God’s Own Country. The visit on 12 March in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and 14 March in Kochi will help build on even closer partnerships for the benefit of both our countries. And they give me another opportunity to visit this beautiful part of India."
 
Event partners include the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) for meetings with Government (B2G) and Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCCI) for Business to Business (B2B) meetings.
 
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Kerala Tourism launches “Food Championship” for food lovers

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Kerala Tourism has launched "The Great Kerala Food Championship", an international competition aimed at promoting the state's cuisine and style of cooking across the world.
 
State Minister for Tourism A P Anil Kumar said that the cuisine of the region was famous the world over for its unique taste and health benefits.
 
“Be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian, the dishes of Kerala are known for their taste, healthiness and traditional preparation procedures. The championship is aimed at spreading the uniqueness of our cuisine among the people within the country and world over,” he said.
 
Participants have to submit online a write-up on their favourite dish or any story directly related to their experience with Kerala food. The article should be submitted to the website of Kerala Tourism through the contest page using the login id and password received at the time of registration.
 
“The Great Kerala Food Championship is designed to encourage people’s experiences with Kerala’s food in the form of an article written in English. The participants can submit articles on their Kerala cuisine experience or the recipes they like most. While submitting their favourite recipe, they must also write why they like it,” the Minister said.
 
“Kerala’s traditional cuisine has strong cultural influences. Through this competition, we aim to make the variety of tradititonal Kerala recipes a hit among people across the world,” Mr S. Harikishore, Director, Department of Tourism, said.
 
The contest will close on March 15. It is open to people anywhere in the world who have completed the age of 18 years (born on or before 01.01.1996). 
 
There is no entry fee for the contest. Though a contestant is encouraged to send only one entry for the competition, he or she can send more than one entry, provided it is sent from the same login id. No individual will be allowed to register twice, a press release from Kerala Tourism said.
 
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A maximum of five entries can be sent through a single login id. All entries should be in English between 200 and 600 words long. The subject or theme of the article must be related to Kerala cuisine.
 
The tourism department has lined up a total 402 prizes for the championship, with 300 randomly selected participants getting T-Shirts. The first prize winner will get a three-night stay in a Kerala hotel for two people (between May and August) plus air fare to Kerala from any point within India to collect the prize. 
 
The second prize winner will be offered a two-night stay at a hotel in Kerala for two people (between May and August) plus air fare to Kerala from any point within India to collect prize. 
 
One hundred consolation prizes of household articles worth less than Rs 2,000 plus shipping Rs 500 will also be given to participants. 
 
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KSCSTE to undertake Karamana-Killi river clean-up project

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The Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) and the Trivandrum Development Authority (TRIDA) have joined hands for a pilot project aimed at reviving the polluted Karamana-Killi river system.
 
The Karamana-Killi River Scientific Management (Pilot) Project, estimated to cost around Rs 5 crore, will be implemented with the support of a number of other departments and organisations along six kilometres of the Killi river, from Myladikkadavu to Airanimuttam in Thiruvananthapuram, a press release from KSCSTE said.
 
State Minister for Water Resources P J Joseph will inaugurate the project at Valyasala-Nandavanam, near Killipalam on Wednesday. Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor will be the special guest at the function which will be presided over by Minister for Health V S Sivakumar.
 
The pilot scheme, approved by the State Planning Board, integrates nine sub-projects that will be implemented by agencies including the Trivandrum Cooperation, the Public Works Department, the Irrigation/Sewerage Departments and the Biodiversity Board and monitored by the KSCSTE and TRIDA.
 
A co-ordination committee, a technical committee and a monitoring cell have been formed for the smooth and seamless implementation of the project.
 
Among the sub-projects is increasing the depth of the Thiruvallam stream and construction of spillways along its banks to aid drinking water supply. The irrigation department has undertaken the work, expected to cost around Rs 50 lakh. The department is also planning to construct a spillway at Myladikkadavu at a cost of Rs 22.5 lakhs to increase water flow in the Killi river during the summer season.
 
The Biodiversity Board has proposed setting up of a biodiversity park at the bund between Myladikkadavu and Killipalam at a cost of Rs 18.5 lakhs.
 
Trivandrum Corporation is planning to take up Rs 52.5 lakh worth of projects including carrying out maintenance works, sealing and placing silt traps along the drains between Myladikkadavu and Airanimuttam. The PWD is also expected to invest around Rs 1 crore for improving the drainage systems in the area.
 
The Corporation is also planning to set up CCTVs in the vicinity of the Karamana river where solid waste including animal carcasses are being dumped illegally. This project is expected to cost Rs 55 lakh.
 
Separate sewage lines, water recycling projects, awareness programs about the need for conservation of the river are some of the other schemes in the pipeline, the release added.
 
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HLL Lifecare to acquire 74% of Goa Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals

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The public sector HLL Lifecare Limited will acquire 74 per cent equity stake in Goa Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Limited (GAPL) as part of its plans to give a boost to its pharma business.
 
A press release from the company said here today that the Goa Cabinet had, last Wednesday, approved a proposal to disinvest the 74 per cent equity held in GAPL by state-owned EDC Limited in favour of HLL.
 
Under the agreement, HLL will expand the GAPL facility for diversifying its pharma portfolio. Further, HLL will retain all the existing 205 employees of GAPL, it said.
 
“The acquisition of majority stake in GAPL shows HLL’s intent and seriousness to expand its footprint in the country’s booming pharma sector in a substantial manner,” HLL Chairman and Managing Director M. Ayyappan said.
 
“We are enhancing our pharma manufacturing capabilities to cater to the market potential. HLL wishes to strengthen its pharma segment through similar acquisitions. It is also in tune with our diversification plans across the health segment, including project management consultancy, manufacture of vaccines, establishment of diagnostic centers and generic medicine outlets,” he said.
 
HLL currently offers several women's healthcare products and has a strong distribution network, reaching out to over 30,000 medical professionals and over 3,500 hospitals in the country.
 
Apart from contraceptives and healthcare products, HLL has a hospital products division, which offers a wide range of critical hospital products in the field of transfusion services, wound care services and advanced patient care. The product range includes blood collection bags, surgical sutures, surgical and examination gloves and blood banking equipment.
 
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The company runs generic drugs retail outlets in various parts of the country. Through its retail medicine networks in AIIMS New Delhi and Haryana, HLL provides 147 generic medicines.  Recently HLL had set up a state-of-the-art hormonal formulation plant in Belgaum in Karnataka. HLL also has pharma production facilities in Belgaum and Indore.
 
Hindlabs and Life Care Centres (LCC), the two major brands of HLL, provide diagnostic services and retails pharma products, surgical implants to partner institutions under the PPP model, respectively. The company has been operating specialty diagnostics and pharmacy services in leading healthcare institutions in Kerala, Odisha and other states in collaboration with respective State Health Departments.
 
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Kerala govt. to acquire twin engine aircraft for aviation academy

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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that twin-engine aircraft worth Rs 6 crore would be bought for the Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy here.
 
Inaugurating a new hangar at Chacka here yesterday, Mr Chandy said the Government would make the academy a model institution.
 
He said an airstrip would also be constructed to help provide the best possible training for the students of the academy.
 
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Malayalam film actress Meera Jasmine gets married to Anil John Titus

Actress Meera Jasmine wedding
Well-known Malayalam film actress Meera Jasmine got married to Anil John Titus, a computer engineer working in Dubai, at the CSI Mateer Memorial church in Palayam here today.
 
The wedding was attended only by close relatives of the bride and the groom amidst tight security provided by the local police.
 
According to reports, Anil had moved a court seeking police protection because a former friend of his, whom he had planned to marry, and her father had threatened to stop the marriage.
 
The court had had yesterday directed the Kerala Police to ensure that there were no disturbances in the wedding ceremony.
 
Among those who attended the ceremony were actors Dileep, Kavya Madhavan and Mallika Sukumaran.
 
The reception was held later at the RDR Auditorium at Edapazhanji.
 
The couple had formally registered their marrage in front of a sub-registrar in Kochi on February 9. 
 
Born as Jasmine Mary Joseph, Meera, who won the National Award for her role in Paadam Onnu: Oru Vilapam in 2004, said her priority would be her family now, but she was open to any good roles that came her way. During a sucessful career, she has acted in some 65 films since making her debut in Soothradharan in 2001. She has also acted in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films.
 
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Kerala govt. decides to temporarily freeze Thiruvananthapuram master plan

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The Kerala Government has decided to temporarily freeze the draft master plan for the city of Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, because of the concerns and complaints from various quarters.
 
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told newspersons here after a meeting of the State Cabinet yesterday that it had come to the notice of the government that the master plan was prepared without carrying out proper studies and analyses.
 
He said a new master plan would be drawn up after hearing the concerns of various sections, especially of the common man.
 
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Kerala to procure rubber from growers in wake of fall in prices

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The Kerala Government has decided to procure natural rubber from farmers by paying them Rs 2 per kg above the prices fixed by the Rubber Board on a daily basis as part of its efforts to help growers in view of the fall in the prices of the commodity.
 
"Following the discussions held with officials of the Rubber Board and other agencies, the government has decided to procure RSS 4 grade rubber based on the last three years’ average price of Rs 171 per kilo," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told newspersons after a meeting of the State Cabinet here today.
 
"The procurement will continue till this price is attained. The government has decided to entrust the procurement to approved agencies like the Kerala State Rubber Marketing Federation, Market Fed and rubber producing companies under the Rubber Board," he said.
 
"These agencies will procure RSS 4 grade rubber from daily market by giving two rupees additional for a kilo of rubber. The agencies will be given Rs 4 a kilo as handling charges," he said.
 
Mr Chandy said the procurement would be closely monitored by the government and after procuring 10,000 tons, the government will review the process and if needed will go for a reworked strategy. 
 
He said the Cooperation Secretary would hold discussions with the procurement agencies and start the process soon.
 
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Mr Chandy said the state government would also appeal to the Union Government to suspend the import of rubber based on advance license for six months. In return, Kerala will supply rubber during the period of six months, at the price at which it is currently imported. 
 
"This mechanism would prevent further fall in price of rubber," he added.
 
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Coir Kerala 2014 to be held in Alappuzha from February 1-5

 
Coir Kerala 2014, the fourth edition of the world’s biggest trade event on coir and natural fibres, will be held in Alappuzha from February 1-5, 2014, with a line-up of new products and machinery designed to drive up production and exports.
 
The event will be inaugurated by Defence Minister A K Antony at a ceremony presided over by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the EMS Stadium in Alappuzha, State Minister for Revenue and Coir Adoor Prakash announced at a press conference here yesterday.
 
Around 160 foreign delegates from more than 46 countries and nearly 100 buyers from across India are expected to take part in the trade fair which targets export orders worth Rs 150 crores for the coir and natural fibres industry.
 
According to the organisers, the annual event has become a significant contributor to the increase in revenues from coir exports. In 2012-13, total coir exports were worth around Rs. 1,166 crore, up from Rs 1,052 crore the previous year – 70% of which was Kerala’s contribution.
 
“While production and exports have seen a definite increase, our primary focus continues to be improving the lives of the workers in the coir industry and to create more employment in this sector,” Mr Prakash said.
 
“The government has raised the income support scheme amount for coir workers from just Rs 150 three years ago to Rs 260 now, but we are aware that it is still below the earnings in many other skilled sectors and we are looking to address that disparity," he said.
 
At Coir Kerala 2014, which is being organised with the support of the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, there will be 250 exhibition stalls across the national and international pavilion showcasing a range of fibre products and the increasing product diversity in the industry.
 
Some of the newly developed products include a collection of handicrafts and souvenirs; sound-absorbing materials designed for architecture and interior designing; and environment-friendly coir geo-cells that prevent slope erosion and enable slope land cultivation at the same time.
 
Also showcased at the fair will be new machinery and technologies designed to improve productivity in the sector. Among them a pneumatic loom for weaving geotextiles and a revolutionary new defibering mill, developed by the National Coir Research and Management Institute (NCRMI), the coordinating agency for Coir Kerala 2014.
 
The defibering mill developed by NCRMI at its R&D facility in Thiruvananthapuram is designed to address the crippling shortage of raw material faced by the industry today. Fibre scarcity will be the discussion point at Coir Kerala 2014 with a series of seminars organised to help develop solutions for the problem.
 
For the first time in Coir Kerala, a committee consisting of exporters, policymakers and subject experts is being constituted to see how the recommendations at these seminars and workshops can be put to practical use to aid product diversification, Ms Rani George, Secretary, Coir, said.
 
She added that the department was in talks with the Coconut Development Board to create a mechanism where farmers’ societies from whom the board procures coconuts are able to supply coir fibre. ‘The husk usually goes waste for them, we are looking to see if we can supply defibering machines to these farmers’ societies and buy back processed fibre and pith from them,” she said.
 
The Coir Department has been already been actively taking steps to address the crippling raw materials shortage that the coir industry in Kerala today faces.
 
Between November 2013 and January 2014 the government procured 14,000 quintals of coir fibre and distributed them through Coirfed to coir cooperatives at the standard rate of Rs 20/kg of raw fibre at a time when the market prices had soared to between Rs 26 and Rs 28.
 
The Rs 12 crore worth of subsidisation has been instrumental in stabilising the prices of coir yarn and other end products in both the domestic market and for exports.
 
After being sidelined for decades by plastics and other synthetic material, coir and natural fibres are making a comeback, thanks to the growing emphasis the world over for sustainable living and increased focus on R&D to add value and find newer uses for these natural products.
 
It was in 2011 that the Government of Kerala initiated the Coir Kerala programme to revive the crisis ridden coir sector, by boosting production and exports. Coir Kerala has today morphed into an annual trade fair, facilitating not just buyer-seller interactions, but acting as a platform to showcase the newest products and latest technologies and machinery. 
 
The international event also brings together scientists, researchers and policy-makers to discuss strategies and new projects to create jobs, improve the conditions of workers, increase productivity and earnings across the industry.
 
But the most noteworthy aspect of Coir Kerala is the active participation in the event of thousands of coir workers in an around Alappuzha, which is the nerve centre of the coir industry in Kerala.
 
The preliminary stages of a number of skill contests and other competitions for coir workers are already underway. Coir Kerala will be a venue for the final rounds of many of these competitions and the winners will be given prizes at the valedictory function which will be inaugurated by Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi.
 
The key buyer-seller meet enabling one-to-one interactions will be held on February 3 and on the final day of the event on February 5, Mr Prakash will interact directly with coir workers at a morning session expected to draw more than 2,000 people.
 
Cultural and entertainment programmes, which have proven to be major crowd-pullers, will be held on all five days of the event.
 
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UST Global partners with ICTAK of Kerala for skill development

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IT services company UST Global today said it had a significant investment  in the newly constituted Information and Communication Technology Academy of Kerala (ICTAK), a public-private company set up by Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd. (KSITIL) to improve employability of graduates for IT and ITeS industries in the state. 
 
UST Global will also have two of their senior trainers on the Technical Committee responsible for refining the curriculum, with focus on soft skills and technical skills development, a press release from the company said.
 
The no-profit academy, based at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram,  will work in four broad areas —establishing state of the art facility for developing faculties for training in IT, providing specialized training to faculties for engineering, arts and science colleges, ITIs and polytechnics across Kerala, carrying out research and consultancy support for industry for capacity building and courses in IT, and developing and maintaining  a world class curriculum related to Information Technology industry and to function as a resource centre for curriculum and faculty development.
 
Mr Alexander Varghese, Chief Administrative Officer & Country Head, UST Global, who will be on the board of governors for ICTAK;  said, “As a responsible IT industry leader, UST Global is already impacting the employability of thousands of youth around the world with its extensive STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and workforce development initiatives. Through our investment in the new academy, we are hoping to make similar meaningful contributions and support State of Kerala in reforming the ICT capabilities of the state by empowering engineering and technology students with best of the resources to develop their industrial skills.”
 
“Kerala’s IT industry crossed $1 billion in turnover in 2012, and has the potential to add significant direct employment opportunities to expand its existing base of 80,000 in the next few years," Mr Jayasankar Prasad, former Director of the Kerala State IT Mission, who has been appointed its special officer, said.
 
"For the state to meet the growth prospects and help students leverage the tremendous employment possibilities, the setting up Information and Communication Technology Academy of Kerala (ICTAK) is a vital step. It will majorly augment the infrastructure development and skill enhancement programs of the state government. We are delighted to note the keen interest and commitment of IT corporates in partnering with us to support the objectives of the academy," he added.
 
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Former Kerala Minister, actor Ganesh Kumar marries Bindu Menon

Former Kerala Minister K B Ganesh Kumar and Bindu Menon at their wedding at Kottarakkara in Kerala on January 24, 2014.
Former Kerala Minister K B Ganesh Kumar and Bindu Menon at their wedding at Kottarakkara in Kerala on January 24, 2014.
Former Kerala Forest Minister and well-known film actor K B Ganesh Kumar married Bindu Menon, a senior executive with a Malayalam television channel and a native of Palghat, today.
 
The ceremony took place at Mr Ganesh Kumar's ancestral house at Vaazhakam in Kottarakkara near here.
 
Only members of his family, including his father and former State Minister R Balakrishna Pillai, and some close friends such as actor Dileep and director Shaji Kailas, were present on the occasion, which was kept a low-key affair.
 
It is the second marriage for both. Mr Ganesh Kumar, 47, has two sons from his previous marriage, while Ms Menon has a son from her earlier marriage.
 
Mr Ganesh Kumar had gone through a turbulent separation from his first wife Yamini Thankachi, which saw both trading allegations of domestic violence against each other and culminated in his resignation from his position as Minister.
 
Mr Ganesh Kumar is the only legislator from his party in the Kerala Assembly. The Kerala Congress-B is a constituent of the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the state and its support is crucial to the Oomen Chandy government, which has a very slim majority in the 140-member House.
 
Mr Ganesh Kumar represents the Pathanapuram constituency in the State Assembly.
 
He had earlier served as Minister of Transport in the A K Antony government during 2001-03. He was the first cinema artiste to be elected to the state legislative assembly. With his father, he was part of the first father-son duo in the Kerala Assembly.
 
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Kerala wins top UNWTO award for its "responsible tourism" project in Kumarakom

A view of Kumarakom, where Kerala Tourism has implemented its award-winning
A view of Kumarakom, where Kerala Tourism has implemented its award-winning "Responsible Tourism" project.
Kerala Tourism won the coveted United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday.
 
The UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism are the flagship awards for the global tourism sector, recognizing knowledge creation, dissemination and innovative applications. 
 
This is the first time that India has won this recognition, which is given to government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives. It is also the biggest international recognition so far for Kerala Tourism.
 
Kerala Tourism was chosen for the award for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.
 
The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.
 
"Kerala, a popular ecotourism destination, portrays responsible and sustainable tourism in an exceptional manner," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the awards ceremony.  “This recognition conferred upon the state is a great step towards creating a better understanding among other destinations of the principles we stand for,” he added, wishing Kerala Tourism “continued success”.
 
CNN’s Richard Quest was conferred the 2013 UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement, in recognition of his work as a business journalist reporting on the tourism industry.
 
Instituted in 2003 by UNWTO, the United Nations agency for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, the UNWTO Awards showcase innovation and application of knowledge in tourism with the aim of effecting governance and society. The awarded projects are in line with the UNWTO’s Code of Ethics for Tourism and standards set in the UN Millennium Development Goals.
 
UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation was given in four categories --- Publlic Policy and Governance, Enterprises, NGOs, and Research and Technology.  Two other categories – UNWTO Ulysses Prize and UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement recognize individual contributions.
Kerala Tourism faced tough competition from other international contenders in the Public Policy and Governance category.
 
 “We are humbled by the UNWTO’s decision to confer this highest international award on our state,” said Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar. “It is a recognition of our continuing efforts to sustain global tourism, which can progress only if we consider the local community as our biggest partner,” he said.
 
 “By building healthy private-public partnerships at the local level with the active involvement of the local community, we can create jobs locally, improve the lives of members of the local community and preserve its culture and ethos through sustainable tourism,” Mrr Anilkumar said.
 
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Launched in 2008, the Kerala Tourism’s ‘Responsible Tourism’ initiative in Kumarakom involves the Gram Panchayat, Kudumbashree, District Tourism Promotion Council and local hospitality industry besides the government departments of agriculture and health, to achieve sustainable tourism by creating job opportunities and practicing eco-tourism objectives.
 
 “We are delighted that Kumarakom has become a model for sustainable tourism to the world,” said Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa, who received the Ulysses Prize at a glittering awards ceremony. “Our ‘Responsible Tourism’ model shows that the future of tourism lies in initiatives at the grassroots level,” he added.
 
 "The UNWTO award also bestows upon us the added responsibility of working even harder in the future by achieving higher standards in practicing tourism," Mr Billa said.
 
 “The Kumarakom project has become successful because of the hard work by all its partners, from the local community to local hospitality organizations and local government departments to the state tourism department staff, and above all the support of our esteemed travellers from around the world,” said Kerala Tourism Director S Harikishore. 
 
The UNWTO has 156 countries as its member-states besides 6 associate members and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
 
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Kerala: NCRMI commissions new portable coir fibre extractor

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A new portable coir fibre extractor with built-in crusher, developed by the National Coir Research Management Institute (NCRMI), was commissioned by Kerala Minister for Revenue and Coir Adoor Prakash today.
 
“Technology interventions are the only way to help traditional industries such as coir survive the crisis of labour and raw materials shortage,” he said.
 
“As an R&D institute, NCRMI is doing a tremendous job helping this mechanization process with machines such as the fibre extractor," he said.
 
Mr Prakash demonstrated the ease-of-use of the new FEE 6.0C2 Fibre Extraction Machine by feeding green and dry coconut husk into the machine which processes these into high quality fibres, with a separate collection tray for the pith.
 
The FEE 6.0C2 is an improvement on the mini de-fibering unit that the NCRMI had developed and patented earlier. The newer, sturdier version comes with a built-in crusher that processes full green and dry husk, completely eliminating the labour-intensive step of manually breaking down the husk into smaller pieces. It also reduces breakage, yielding longer fibres.
 
The Minister said the Coir Department hopes to distribute the new machine to coir cooperatives to help them produce raw fibres. He said discussions are also on with the Coconut Development Board for distributing the fibre extractors directly to coconut producers with a buy-back arrangement for the fibre and pith produced.
 
“Kerala produces 600 crore coconuts annually; if we can convert even half of the husk from these to fibre we will easily be able to solve the raw material scarcity and reduce reliance on neighbouring states,” he said.
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The new machine is capable of processing 550-600 husks per hour yielding 44-48 kg of raw fibre, NCRMI Director Anil K R said.  
 
The extractor, which occupies a space of just 1.5 metres by 1.1 metres, weighs around 480 kgs and is fitted with a 10 HP motor that consumes significantly less amount of electricity per unit of production than large bulk processing machines.
 
Mr Anil said the machine can easily be operated by a single person. “The FEE 6.0C2 comes with built-in safety features and we have designed it to minimize physical stress on the user. It is primarily built for women who constitute more than 80% of the coir industry workforce in Kerala.”
 
NCRMI, a state-supported R&D centre, hopes to commercialize the machine after getting inputs from the cooperatives which will get the machines under the pilot scheme.
 
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CBI arrests absconding Malayalee on deportation from UAE in bank fraud case

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today arrested Joby Mathew, a resident of Etthumanoor in Kottayam district of Kerala who was absconding since 2007 in a case for allegedly cheating the State Bank of India (SBI) to the tune of Rs 2.95 crore.
 
Mathew, a private financier, was accused of cheating several people by obtaining their signatures on loan documents on the pretext that they were signing as guarantors for his loan from the bank's branch at Allappuzha.
 
He took the loan amount from the bank without the knowledge of the loanee, a CBI press release alleged.
 
A chargesheet was filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act, it said.
 
According to the release, the accused absconded immediately after the registration of the case. In 2013, a Red Corner Notice was issued against him. Based on the notice, he was traced by Interpol from Abu Dhabi in the UAE  and deported to India.
 
He was taken into custody from the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, the release said.
 
The accused was produced before the Special Court for CBI Cases, Thiruvananthapuram and was remanded to judicial custody till February 12, the release added.
 
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Chandy writes to Kejriwal on Kumar Vishwas' remarks on Malayalee nurses

Oommen Chandy
Oommen Chandy
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today wrote to his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal demanding that his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) colleague Kumar Vishwas withdraw his derogatory remarks against Malayalee nurses and seek their forgiveness.
 
In his letter, Mr Chandy said that it was most unfortunate that AAP was tight-lipped regarding the remarks made by Mr Vishwas.
 
"Malayalee nurses are a pride for Keralites. Their service is praised world over. Making such derogatory remarks about them is most unfortunate and not fit for the developed society," he said.
 
Mr Vishwas' remarks, heard in a video clip posted on YouTube, were reportedly made by him at a function way back in 2008.
 
The AAP leader, who is planning to contest against Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, has attracted criticism in recent times for similar remarks about other groups.
 
In the latest case, he has been roundly criticised by the nursing community as well as social activists.
 
The newly-opened office of AAP in Kochi was vandalized by a group of protesters yesterday.
 
"Kumar Vishwas should immediately tender an apology and the national leadership of AAP should intervene and come with a clarification on the issue. They should also state whether they support Kumar's remarks or not," activist Sara Joseph, who joined AAP recently, was quoted as saying in media reports.
 
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Kerala Tourism to webcast Nishagandhi festival live

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Kerala Tourism will webcast the Nishagandhi festival live for the first time in the history of the prestigious event that will feature seven days of dance and music.
 
The festival will be held at Nishagandhi open air auditorium here from January 20 to 26.
 
The three-hour long programmes to be held every day will be webcast in HD format on Kerala Tourism’s website.
 
Among other things, the festival will have daily performances by eminent Kathakali masters.
 
The programme will also feature Bharatanatyam performances by Kavya Madhavan and Navya Nair, both well-known Malayalam film actresses, Odissi recital by Rina Jana and group, vocal recital by P Unnikrishnan, and an evening of fusion music by santoor artiste Rahul Sharma, along with Avinash Chandrachud on the keyboard, Kenneth Rebello on bass guitar, Mukundraj Deo on the tabla and Vinayak Pol on drums.
 
Also on the cards are a Kuchipudi performance by S Divyasena, Bharatanatyam by Rajashree Warrier and Hindustani music by Suchi Das.
 
There will also be performances by well-known singers Jaswinder Singh and M Jayachandran, among others.
 
Added to all this will be a food festival, focusing on traditional Kerala cuisine and a handicrafts fair highlighting the state's crafts, including sculptures, jewellery and wood and metal crafts.
 
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PPPAC recommends projects worth Rs 7595.19 crores

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The Public-Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC), at its 62nd meeting held here yesterday, has recommended public-private partnership (PPP) projects of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways worth Rs 7595.19 crores.
 
An official press release said today that the Empowered Committee (EC) had, at its 19th meeting, also held yesterday, approved Viability Gap Fund (VGF) of Rs 1280.65 crores for PPP projects.
 
Both meetings were chaired by Mr Arvind Mayaram, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
 
Since its constitution in January 2006, the PPPAC has approved 272 Central Sector Projects worth of Rs. 296579.60 crore. These include national highways (223 proposals), ports (32 proposals), airports (2 proposals), tourism infrastructure (1 proposal), housing (8 proposals) and sports stadia (5 proposals).
 
In this year, till date, a total of 19 projects with total cost of Rs. 43903.30 crore have been approved by the PPPAC.
 
The EC accorded in-principle approval to four projects, including two from the Government of Maharashtra and two from the Government of Uttar Pradesh for VGF of Rs 695.20 crore and final approval to two projects from Uttar Pradesh for VGF of Rs 585.45 crore.
 
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The projects approved by the PPPAC include two laning with paved shoulder/ four laning of the section on National Highway (NH)-209 from Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border to Bangalore on toll basis.
 
The committee also cleared the four-laning of Kazhakkuttam-Mukkola section in Kerala.
 
The other projects include two-laning with paved shoulder of the Jabalpur-Mandala-Chilpi section of NH-12A in Madhya Pradesh, four-laning of the  Ambala - Kaithal section of NH-65in Haryana and the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (NH No. NE-II).
 
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Kerala Tourism to conduct global art contest for children in memory of prodigy

A painting by Edmund Thomas Clint.
A painting by Edmund Thomas Clint.
Kerala Tourism has announced an online painting competition for children worldwide in memory of Edmund Thomas Clint, a prodigy who created more than 25,000 works of art before he died one month short of his seventh birthday.
 
Clint’s prolific output consisted of paintings and drawings – created mostly on used paper with charcoal, pencil, ball-point pens, crayons and watercolours – that depicted Kerala’s rich cultural heritage, especially its religious festivals and temple art forms.
 
Clint, the son of Mr M T Joseph and Mrs Chinnamma Joseph, died on April 15, 1983 of kidney failure, but his masterful works continue to astonish art lovers and critics for their vibrancy, depth and maturity.
 
The Clint Memorial International Children’s Painting Competition was formally launched by Kerala’s Minister for Tourism A P Anil Kumar here yesterday at a function attended by Clint’s parents and Tourism Secretary Suman Billa.
 
“We hope this competition will become a lasting memorial to Clint, the magical talent who was with us for such a short time. It is a tribute to an artist whose drawings are as awe-inspiring today as they were when he first drew them,” the Minister said. “We also intend to showcase Kerala’s culture and its uniqueness as a destination.”
 
The competition, coordinated by Kerala Tourism’s IT solutions provider Invis Multimedia, is open to all children between the ages of 4-15 years.
 
The paintings can be on any theme related to the state of Kerala and the each participant can submit up to five entries online through the Kerala Tourism website http://www.keralatourism.org/clint. 
 
There is no entry fee for the competition which will be open from January 15 to May 31, 2014.
 
Mr Billa said the the idea of the competition is to let the world see ‘God’s Own Country’ through the eyes of a child. “Kerala is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and it was even more beautifully rendered on canvas by Clint. We want the world to be inspired by Clint and by Kerala.”
 
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Mr Joseph thanked the Kerala government for reviving his son’s memory and honouring his prodigious talent thirty years after his death. He and his wife said while they have preserved tens of thousands of Clint’s works on paper, the prolific child had also used every inch of space on the walls and the floor of their home as canvas. “We hope the world will know Clint better through this competition,” he said.
 
Children living anywhere in the world can register online for the painting competition. Upon registration they will be sent two e-books – one containing a portfolio of 30 works by Clint and the other with 100 photographs on Kerala to help them learn more about the region and its culture.
 
Additionally there are more than 3000 video clips on the award-winning Kerala Tourism website for the children to browse through.
 
The painting should be on paper and created manually. The participants can scan the painting and submit the image to Kerala Tourism website using the log-in id they receive at registration.
 
There are 125 prizes on offer. The top five winners (and their parent/ guardian) will each get a tour package to explore Kerala along with an economy class ticket to travel to the state.
 
Kerala Tourism is only the second organisation after the United Nations Environment Programme to conduct a global painting competition on this scale, a press release from the department added.
 
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Veteran Malayalam playback singer K P Udayabhanu passes away

K P Udayabhanu
K P Udayabhanu
Eminent Malayalam playback singer K P Udayabhanu passed away at his residence here tonight after a prolonged illness.
 
He was 77. He is survived by his son Rajeev. His wife Vijayalekshmi, who was also a gifted singer, predeceased him in 2007.
 
Family sources said he was ailing for more than a year and that he breathed his last around 8.45 pm today.
 
Udayabanu, who was one of the seniormost singers in the Malayalam film industry, was born on June 6, 1936, at Tharur in Palakad district of Kerala to N S Varma and Ammu Nethyaramma. He was a nephew of founder-chief editor of Mathrubhoomi newspaper, K P Kesava Menon.
 
He spent his childhood in Singapore, where his faher was a businessman. After losing his mother at the age of seven, he returned to India in 1944 along with his siblings, where they were looked after by their maternal uncle.
 
Udayabhanu learnt music at the Thyagaraja Sangeetha Vidyalaya in Kalpathy, where he was taught by such well-known musicians as Flute Krishna Iyer, Palakkad Mani Iyer and M D Ramanathan. Though he was trained in the classical traditons, he ended up making a career in light music and playback singing
 
He began his career as an announcer at the Kozhikode station of All India Radio in 1955, which brought him into contact with several well-known writers and musicians. This helped him enter the film industry and he went on to sing several unforgettable songs and compose music for some films.
 
Udayabhanu made his debut as a playback singer in 1958 in the film Nayaru Pidicha Pulivaalu, in which sang a solo and a duet with P Leela under the baton of composer K Raghavan.
 
He went on to sing several hits including classics such as Kaanana Chayayil (with P Leela in Ramanan), Anuraga Nadakathin (Ninamaninja Kalppadukal) and Thaamarathumbee Vaavaa ( with Leela in Puthiya Aakasham Puthiya Bhoomi ). 
 
He composed the music for a few films, including Samasya and Mayilpeeli. Kili Chilachu (Samasya), penned by O N V Kurup and sung by K J Yesudas, is one of his most memorable songs as a composer.
 
In 1984, he launched a group called "Old is Gold" for the revival of the golden era of Malayalam film music.
 
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During a chequered career, he was the chief conductor of Drums of India music programme at the Republic Day celebrations in 1985 which was appreciated by then President R Venkataraman and then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
 
He worked for some time as a teacher of Indian music in Lawrence School, Lovedale at Ooty in Tamil Nadu and also served as a public relations officer for then Kerala Chief Minister K Karunakaran.
 
Udayabhanu conducted choral groups in all Indian languages from Delhi Central Production Unit and Delhi Doordarshan.
 
He travelled with his music group to the United States, Canada, Europe, Singapore and all the Gulf countries. 
 
Udayabhanu was honoured by the Union Government with the Padma Shri in 2009. He had won the Central Sangeet Nataka Akademi Award for creative music 2002 and the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Fellowship 2004.
 
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