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Thiruvananthapuram

Ansari inaugurates K M Mani Centre for Budget Studies in Kerala

Vice-President M Hamid Ansari delivering the inaugural address at the K.M. Mani Centre for Budget Studies, in Thiruvananthpuram on February 17, 2013.
Vice-President M Hamid Ansari delivering the inaugural address at the K.M. Mani Centre for Budget Studies, in Thiruvananthpuram on February 17, 2013.

Vice-President M Hamid Ansari today inaugurated the K M Mani Centre for Budget Studies of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) and desribed it as a timely initiative which seeks to fill an existing gap in the scientific and technical understanding of budget accounting and analysis.

He said the setting up of the centre was particularly relevant at a time when fiscal imbalances in government finances were being globally blamed for most of the ills of national economies.
 
He also said it was befitting that the centre had been named after Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani, describing him as a distinguished public servant and political leader who has created history of sorts by presenting ten budgets in the State Legislative Assembly.
 
Mr Ansari stressed that the budget is not merely a statement of financial receipts and expenditure of the government but a significant political statement of government policy and its priorities for the economy.
 
"The budget reflects either the country’s or the state’s or the panchayat’s economy and shapes the direction in which the government of the day wants to take it as per its policies and priorities," he said.
 
"It is also a government’s plan for raising revenues through taxation, borrowing and incurring expenditure under the relevant heads. The government channelizes its financial resources thus raised in the various sectors of the economy and government. Given the finite nature of financial resources, budget making is an exercise in achieving a fine balance between competing objectives and priorities of the government, within the budgetary constraint," he said.
 
Mr Ansari said the importance of research and analysis in the technical and political aspects of budget making can be gauged from the fact that besides the Union and state governments, there are around 2.4 lakh local self government bodies, including panchayats and municipalities, which are in dire need of better budgetary management for financial viability and sustainability. 
 
"They would be important beneficiaries of advanced research and training in this area. Especially, at a time, when there aren’t many institutions in the country dedicated to the study and research related to budget making and management," he said.
 
He noted that the major objective of the K. M. Mani Centre for Budget studies is to promote research in the theory and practice of public budget and budget-making, as well as classification, analysis, accountability and management of budgets in democratic countries, with special focus on India’s fiscal federalism. In due course, the Centre would also endeavour to start a post-graduate course in budget and budget management.
 
It also proposes to undertake other areas for study, such as local government budgeting, with focus on Kerala and state, sub-state level fiscal relations.
 
It also proposes to establish an archive of Travancore, Cochin, Travancore-Cochin and Kerala Budgets from 1957-58 till present; institute a long-term project on the political economy of budgets and budget making in Kerala; create cadre of experts on budgets and public budget making; and establish a State Budget Observatory which provides detailed findings of studies and research concerning the state and local finances of Kerala.
 
"The Centre opens a whole range of opportunities for learning and research in the area of budget studies. I hope that the Centre will initiate a new chapter in the annals of public finances research, with emphasis on sub-national finances, thereby, laying the foundation of a new centre of excellence in budget studies and related policy formulations, for the benefit of Kerala and the entire country," Mr Ansari added.
 
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Kerala to generate 10 MW solar power through rooftop systems

Kerala has launched an ambitious programme to generate over 10 MW of solar power through more than 10000 roof-top solar power systems of I kw each to be installed at individual houses.

The programme was formally launched by  Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah here today in the presence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
 
This is the biggest solar power programme sanctioned to Kerala so far with an overall expenditure of over Rs 175 crores and budgetary support of over Rs. 80 crores from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). 
 
The aggregated and complete project is expected to generate 15 million units of electricity annually.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Abdullah promised his Ministry’s support for the second phase of the project aimed at reaching over 50,000 households with a subsidy support of over Rs. 200 crores. 
 
The project has been sanctioned by MNRE under the Solar Off-Grid Photovoltaic programme of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The Mission, launched in 2010, aims to achieve a target of 200 MW of off-grid solar applications to be achieved by the end of March 2013. This target is apart from 20 Million Solar Home Systems to be installed by 2022. 
 
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Kerala: Startup Village, KSEB team up to power innovations in energy sector

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The Kochi-based Startup Village, a telecom incubator, has tied up with the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to set up a platform -- Energy Innovation Zone -- that will power new ideas and innovations in this sector.

KSEB chairman M Sivasankar and Startup Village chairman Sanjay Vijaykumar signed a memorandum of understanding in this regard here on January 16 in the presence of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and state Electricity Minister Aryadan Muhammed.
 
“Kerala has superior talent in the technology sector and our kids are in the front everywhere from Silicon Valley to technoparks. Startup Village came up as a revolutionary idea to tap these young talents in the State and groom them into global leaders. The Government on its part is giving full support by way of student entrepreneurship policy and pro-active logistics,” Mr Chandy said on the occasion.
 
“The government also wants to take advantage of the power of this young brigade and see that they develop new solutions and technologies for the welfare and betterment of our society. This landmark collaboration between KSEB and Startup Village marks an auspicious beginning. We will explore possibilities of setting up more innovation zones like this for other sectors too,” he said.
 
“It is an attempt to institutionalize and scale up energy economy of our State. Through the innovation spaces created out of the partnership, our youth can work on the latest technology and build solutions to the energy problems not only for our State, but also for the country and the world tomorrow,” Mr Muhammed said.
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Startup Village, the first public-private partnership incubator in the telecom sector of the country, has already roped in world leaders like Blackberry (RIM) which set up its first innovation zone in APAC region. Talks are on with major corporate and government organizations to set up similar zones which will explore new ideas for solutions and provide better eco-systems for innovations. 
 
The Energy Zone will be housed within a 2500 square feet pallet rack structure.
 
“Apart from the real research for energy solutions, the partnership will also give a platform to showcase the ideas of young people and pitch them for funding for further development or scaling up. It will also bring in development from around the world in the sector so that the KSEB can learn from the real-time experiences.” Mr Sivasankar said.
 
"The innovation zone will work in line with the National Electrical Mobility Mission 2020. The zone will give practical exposure to entrepreneurs to work together with KSEB to find out industry problems faced by power sector, develop indigenous technology solutions and utilize the domain expertise of KSEB to build home grown solutions which can then be deployed in other states and countries. Besides, thought leadership, it will be make solid effort in further building up energy conservation among the new generation entrepreneurs”, Mr Vijayakumar said.
 
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Kerala government gives sanction for Aranmula airport in Kerala

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy addressing mediapersons after a meeting of the State Cabinet in Thiruvananthapuram on January 10, 2013
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy addressing mediapersons after a meeting of the State Cabinet in Thiruvananthapuram on January 10, 2013

The Kerala government today gave formal sanction for the first private international greenfield airport project proposed to be built by KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd at Aranmula in the Pathanamthitta district of the state.

"They have already acquired all the necessary licenses from the Central Government. The state government only had to give a formal sanction," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters after a meeting of the state Cabinet.
 
He said the state government would have 10 per cent share in the project and would have its representative on the Board of Directors of the company.
 
He said the state government would provide land for the project at market value.
 
Aranmula, a major pilgrimage centre is located about 130 km away from the Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi international airports.
 
It is about an hour's drive from the famous Sabarimala shrine. It is also the venue of a famous boat race on the Pampa river. It is also close to tourism destinations such as Kumarakom and Thekkady.
 
The airport is planned to be built on about 700 acres of land at a cost of about Rs 2000 crore. It will primarily serve the four districts of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki and Alappuzha, which account for significant percentages of the foreign and domestic tourists visiting Kerala. It also accounts for a significant proportion of the non-resident Keralites, especially in the Gulf countries.
 
KGS has interests in property development, construction, healthcare and infrastructure sectors. 
 
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Kerala Cabinet okays implementation of contributory pension scheme

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The Kerala Cabinet today decided to implement the National Pension Scheme in the State with effect from April 1, 2013.
 
Briefing newspersons after a meeting of the Cabinet, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said there was no going back on the decision to implement the contributory scheme in the state.
 
He said the scheme would not affect existing employees and new recruits would be eligible for minimum pension and family pension.
 
Mr Chandy said the Government had responded positively to the demands put forward by different employees' organizations and it was not fair on their part to go on indefinite strike. He urged the organizations to withdraw the strike.
 
He said a minimum pension would be guaranteed to those who enter service from April 1 and they would also be entitled for family pension. If they are willing then the Government will start GPF, he said.
 
Mr Chandy said the Cabinet had given approval for bringing in necessary amendments to the existing building rules in the state.  The Cabinet has also approved the recommendations of the sub-committee appointed for the same.
 
The employees of Kerala Press Academy and State Institute of Rural Development will avail the benefits of the existing pay revision, the Cabinet decided.
 
Through another decision, the accident insurance amount of school children will be increased. In case of death the amount is increased to Rs 50,000 from Rs 10,000. The amount of insurance to those children who receive injuries in accidents has also been increased up to a maximum of Rs 10,000. This scheme will be implemented through State Insurance Department, he added.
 
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Justice Arun Mishra appointed Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court

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The President has appointed Mr Justice Arun Mishra, Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, as the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court.

An official press release said the appointment would be with effect from the date he assumed charge of his new office.
 
Mr Justice Mishra, 57, graduated in sience and then obtained a Master's degree in Arts and a degree in Law.
 
He practised from 1978 to October 1999 in constitutional, civil, industrial, criminal and service matters in the Bench of High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Gwalior. He worked as part time Lecturer in Law during 1986 to 1993 and was a Member of Faculty of Law of Jiwaji University, Gwalior from 1991 to 1996.
 
He was chairman of General Council of National Law School of India University at Bangalore from 15.05.1998 to 24.10.1999.
 
He was appointed as Additional Judge of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh on October 25, 1999 and Permanent Judge on October 24, 2001.
 
He was transferred to Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur and took oath there on 12.09.2010. He became Acting Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court on 1.11.2010 and became the Chief Justice of Rajasthan on 26.11.2010.
 
The President has also appointed Mr Justice N. K. Balakrishnan, Mr Justice V. Chitambaresh and Mr Justice A. M. Shaffique, Additional Judges of the High Court of Kerala, as Judges of that High Court with effect from the date they assume charge of their office. 
 
Mr Justice Arvind Kumar, Additional Judge of the High Court of Karnataka, has been appointed as a Judge of that High Court with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office, the release added.
 
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Veteran CPI (M) ideologue P Govinda Pillai passes away

P Govinda Pillai Photo: Courtesy: Fotokannan at ml.wikipedia
P Govinda Pillai Photo: Courtesy: Fotokannan at ml.wikipedia

Veteran Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and ideologue P Govinda Pillai passed away at a private hospital here late last night after a brief illness, party sources said.

He was 86. He is survived by his wife, Prof Rajamma, son M G Radhakrishnan, a journalist and daughter Parvathi, a writer, journalist and activist.
 
Mr Pillai had been ailing for some time and had been admitted to the hospital about a week ago. He breathed his last around 11 pm last night, the sources said.
 
His body was brought to the A K Gopalan Centre here to enable people to pay their last respects to him, where several senior CPI (M) leaders, including former Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, and hundreds of his admirers were present.
 
Later, the body will be taken to the VJT Hall for some time before the cremation is held at 4 pm today at the Shanti Kavadam at Thycadu here, the sources said.
 
Known popularly as "PG", Mr Pillai became a major influence in the political and cultural spheres in Kerala during a six-decade career as a front-ranking Communist, journalist and writer.
 
His scholarship and intellectual abilities won him admirers from across the political spectrum all over the state.
 
Born on May 23, 1926, Mr Pillai entered politics as a worker of the Congress before joining the Communist Party of India in 1945. When the party split, he opted to go with the CPI (M).
 
He represented Perumbavoor constituency as a CPI member in the first Kerala Legislative Assembly and the third assembly as a CPI (M) member.
 
He had served as chairman of the Kerala Press Academy in 1981-82. A well-known writer on the fine arts, he had served as the chairman of the Kerala State Film Development Corporation and as a founding director of the Centre of Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT).  
 
He was the editor of Deshabhimani newspaper the official organ of the CPI (M) in Kerala, for nearly two decades. He was a member of the party's state committee for many decades.
 
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AISATS appointed by Maldivian for ground handling services for Trivandrum flights

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Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd (AISATS), a joint venture between Air India and Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS), a leading provider of gateway services and food solutions, has been appointed by Maldivian, the national carrier of Maldives, for ground handling services for its flights from Male to Trivandrum in Kerala.

A press release from AISATS that the company would be providing ground handling services to Maldivian's flights operating twice daily.
 
Mr. Willy Ko, CEO of AISATS said, “We congratulate Maldivian on the launch of its A320 flight services to Trivandrum International Airport. This partnership represents a prestigious addition to our customer base. We look forward to adding more value to the airline’s services as well as contributing to the seamless experience at the Trivandrum airport. It is our endeavour to ensure smooth tourism between the two destinations by enhancing passenger experiences at the Trivandrum airport.”
 
As part of their India expansion plan, Maldivian has enhanced their connectivity to include Mumbai and Chennai, while increasing passenger capacity from Trivandrum with an A320 
narrow body aircraft. 
 
The transition from the 50-seater Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft to the 152-seat A320 will add more than 50% additional air seats to the route to accommodate the growing tourism demand. 
 
AISATS’ ground services for the Maldivian includes ramp handling, aircraft cabin cleaning and baggage handling for the new generation aircraft.  Unlike the normal narrow body aircraft, Maldivian’s A320’s baggage compartment is containerized, and is also wider and deeper.
 
Mr. Abdul Haris, Managing Director, Maldivian said, “India has been an important market for us since the inception of our first international operation to Trivandrum. We are very pleased to extend our commitment towards quality services with AISATS as our partner for ground services at Trivandrum International airport. Going forward, the Maldivian plans to expand its aircraft fleet as well as the destination network in India to support the ever-growing tourism demand.”
 
Maldives, famous for its spectacular beaches and incredible marine life, has been high on the list of favourite destinations for people in India. The Maldivian launched its first international flight operations on the Trivandrum route in 2008. Witnessing an upswing in tourism from India, it has now increased its seat capacity and chosen to professionally manage its ground handling services with AISATS. Maldives targets to achieve a two per cent growth in arrivals from Indian tourists by December 2012.
 
AISATS provides ground handling services at the Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mangalore and Trivandrum airports.
 
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Renowned Malayalam actor Thilakan passes away

File photo of Thilakan
File photo of Thilakan

Well-known Malayalam film and stage actor Surendranatha Thilakan, who was one of the most talented artistes in Indian cinema, passed away at a private KIMS Hospital here in the early hours of today.

He was 77. He is survived by two sons and two daughters. The funeral is slated to be held later today.
 
His body was kept at the VJT Hall here to enable his fans and admirers to pay their last respects.
 
Thilakan had been admitted to the hospital on August 23 after suffering two heart attacks and had been battling for life since then. He was on a ventilator for much of this period. He had an attack of pneumonia in the past few days and breathed his last at 0335 hours today, sources said.
 
Born on July 15, 1935 at Ayroor in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, Thilakan, who had an outspoken nature, began his acting career with various theatre groups, including the well-known Kerala People's Arts Centre (KPAC) before making his debut in films in 1973 with 
Periyar" directed by P J Antony. It was, however, his role in 1979 in Ulkadal that got him noticed.
 
During his illustrious career, he acted in more than 200 films and won the hearts of movie lovers with an amazing variety of roles, including some very moving and powerful portrayals of strong characters. He was equally good in serious, comic roles and negative roles.
 
He won the National Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1988 for his role in Rithubhedam and several other awards at the national and state levels over the years. The Government honoured him with the Padma Shri in 2009.
Actor Thilakan's sons and others at the VJT Hall in Thiruvananthapuram, where his body was kept for people to pay their 
last respects, on September 24, 2012
Actor Thilakan's sons and others at the VJT Hall in Thiruvananthapuram, where his body was kept for people to pay their last respects, on September 24, 2012
 
He got his first State award for his role in Yavanika. His other notable roles were in Kireedam, Sphadikam, Moonnam Pakkam, Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal, Mookkilla Rajyathu, Chenkol, Randam Bhavam and Kaattu Kuthira. He had also acted in several Tamil films.
 
Many of Thilakan's popular roles were those in which he teamed up with superstar Mohanlal and the two played a father-son duo. His comical roles in Nadodikkattu and Pattanapravesham, Mookkilla Rajyathu and Naaduvazhikal will remain memorable. He played the lead roles in movies like Ekantham, Perumthachan, Santhanagopalam, My Dear Muthachan and Mukhamudra (a double role).
 
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Second field trial of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail system for EVMs held

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A simulated poll was conducted yesterday at 28 polling stations each in East Delhi and Thiruvanthpuram as a part of the second field trial of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems in electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Chief Election Commissioner V. S. Sampath and Election Commissioner H S Brahma, along with members of Technical Expert Committee (Prof. D.T. Shahani and Prof. Rajat Moona) and other senior officers of Election Commission visited several polling stations and witnessed the trial of the VVPAT system in actual field conditions.
 
A large number of people participated in the exercise and cast their votes with enthusiasm and zeal for the trial. 
 
The Election Commission had invited the representatives of all political parties were invited and many of them including representatives of Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress participated and witnessed the field trial. 

Kerala govt. waives sales tax on increased petrol price, provides relief of Rs 1.63/litre

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government in Kerala today decided to waive sales tax on the increased petrol price, which will bring down the cost of petrol in the state by Rs 1.63 per litre.

Briefing journalists about decisions taken by the State Cabinet, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the move would provide some relief from the fuel price hike.
 
He said he had already sent letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister S Jaipal Reddy to reconsider yesterday's decision to hike petrol prices. He said the State Government would convey its protest in this regard to the Centre.
 
"By withdrawing the additional tax, the Government would have a tax revenue deficit of Rs 218 crores," he said.
 
He said the Government had decided to introduce various austerity measures and check the use of petrol by Government offices.
 
Petrol prices went up by around Rs 7.50 a litre with effect from midnight last night as the public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) effected the steepest hike in fuel prices since the Government decontrolled petrol prices in June 2010.
 
A press release from Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) said it had increased the price of petrol by Rs 6.28 per litre, exclusive of sales tax/value added tax (VAT), with effect from midnight last night.
 
Given that the rate of sales tax/VAT varies from 15 per cent to 33 per cent in the States, consumers will have to pay an additional sales tax of between Rs 0.94 and Rs 2.07 per litre, the release said.
 
The new price in Delhi would be Rs 73.10 per litre (against the earlier price of Rs 65.64), while it will be Rs 77.89 in Kolkata (Rs 70.03),  Rs 78. 57 in Mumbai (Rs 70.66) and Rs 77.53 in Chennai (Rs 69.55).
 
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RBI cautions public against depositing money with Muthoot Estate Investments

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today cautioned members of the public to note that acceptance of deposits by Muthoot Estate Investments, which is a partnership firm, is prohibited in terms of Section 45-S of the RBI Act.

A press release from the central bank said Muthoot Fincorp Ltd, Kerala is a registered non-deposit taking Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC).
 
"It has come to the notice of Reserve Bank of India that a partnership firm with the name of Muthoot Estate Investments in which the promoters of Muthoot Fincorp Ltd are partners has collected and has been collecting deposits in the form of fixed deposits, cumulative deposits and special public deposits from the public. These deposits are collected through the branches of Muthoot Fincorp Ltd located at different places in Kerala," the release said.
 
"In terms of Section 45-S of the RBI Act, acceptance of deposits from the public by Muthoot Estate Investments, which is a partnership firm, is prohibited. Members of the public are hereby cautioned to note that acceptance of deposits by the company or Muthoot Estate Investments is punishable with imprisonment and those who deposit money with the company or Muthoot Estate Investments may do so at their own risk," the release said.
 
The RBI has also directed Muthoot Fincorp Ltd to stop allowing the use of its premises/branches or officials, in any manner by Muthoot Estate Investments for accepting deposits from public, the release added.
 
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Kerala CPI leader C K Chandrappan passes away

C K Chandrappan
C K Chandrappan
Veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader C K Chandrappan who was the secretary of its national council as well as its Kerala unit, passed away at a hospital here today.
 
He was 77. He is survived by his wife.
 
Chandrappan was the general secretary of the All India Youth Federation (AIYF) and was elected to the Lok Sabha thrice in 1971, 1977 and 2004. He was also a member of the Kerala legislative assembly for a term from Cherthala in Allapuzha district.
 
During his third term in Lok Sabha, he had played an important role in drafting the Forest Act, granting rights to forest dwellers on forest produce. He led the All India Kisan Sabha as its president.
 
Chandrappan was the youngest to be elected to the Central Executive of the CPI at its Kochi conference in 1971. He was re-elected secretary of the Kerala state council at its recent state conference.
 
The CPI said in a statement that it had lost a very dynamic and energetic leader. "It will create a great void in Kerala itself," it said.
 
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World Bank signs agreement for drinking water, sanitation project in Kerala

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The Legal Agreement of the World Bank-aided Rs 1022 crore Second Kerala Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Project was signed yesterday in the presence of State Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in Thiruvananthapuram. 

Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance for Government of India, Hubert Nove Josserand, Operations Advisor on behalf of the World Bank, V.J. Kurian, Principal Secretary Water Resources Department on behalf of Kerala Government and Ashok Kumar Singh, Executive Director on behalf of the Project were the signatories. 
 
According to an official press release, the project envisages potable drinking water facility and sanitation interventions to about 1.84 million rural people covering 200 village panchayats in a period of five and half years at a total cost of Rs 1022 crore.
 
The first phase of the project implemented from 2000 to 2008 covered a population of 1.3 million people in 112 village panchayats. The project was awarded position of first runner-up in the "People First Award" competition by the World Bank in the year 2008. 
 
The second phase is designed to provide more benefits to the communities than in the first phase. 
 
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Five accused sentenced to 10 years' RI in Killiroor sex scandal case in Kerala

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Five accused persons were today sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for five years by the Special Judge for CBI Cases, Thiruvananthapuram in the sensational Killiroor sex scandal case, involving the gang rape of a minor girl, which had rocked Kerala in 2004.
 
The five were also asked to pay fines ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 each. The total fine amount of Rs 1 lakh will be given to the parents of the victim for the welfare of her minor child.
 
A press release from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) here today identified the five as Praveen; Manoj; Latha Nair; Binu @ Kochumon and Prasanth.
 
The release said the CBI had taken over the investigation of the case on the request of the Kerala Government and registered a case on January 27, 2005 against accused Omanakutty, Praveen; Manoj and Latha Nair.

Kerala Governor M O H Farook passes away in Chennai

File photo of M.O.H. Farook
File photo of M.O.H. Farook
Kerala Governor and three-time Chief Minister of Puducherry M O H Farook passed away at a hospital in Chennai last night after ailing for some time, sources in the Raj Bhavan said here today.
 
He was 74. He is survived by his son M O H F Shahjahan and daughters F Malika and F Yasmin.
 
His body will be flown to Puducherry for the funeral later in the day, sources said. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Legislative Assembly Speaker G Karthikeyan and several State Ministers and officials are expected to attend the funeral, they added.
 
Farook, who had assumed office as Governor of Kerala on September 8, was admitted to the Apollo Hospital in Chennai on December 4, where he was being treated for cancer. For the last many days, he was on medical leave and Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj was holding additional charge as the Governor of Kerala.
 
Farook, who hailed from Karaikal, had participated in the struggle for liberation of Pondicherry (as Puducherry was known then) from France during 1953-54 when it was a French colony.
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He served as Chief Minister of Puducherry thrice from April 9, 1967- March 6, 1968, March 17, 1969 – January 3, 1974 and from 1985 to 1990.  Earlier, he had served as Speaker of the Puducherry Assembly at the age of 27.
 
He was elected three times in 1991, 1996 and 1999 to the Lok Sabha from the Union Territory and had served as Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Tourism between June 1991 and December 1992.
 
In September 2004, he was appointed as the Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and in 2010 as Governor of Jharkhand. Last year, he was transferred to Kerala for the remainder of his term.
 
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ASB and CII to organize masterclass in Kerala on building alumni network

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For the first time, the Asian School of Business (ASB) here in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is bringing the concept of "masterclass" to Kerala.

The masterclass programme, that will train the heads of institutions and faculty members on fine-tuning their skills in different streams of management and technology, is scheduled at the ASB campus in Technocity, Pallipuram, here on January 23.
 
Similar master classes, that are gaining popularity among the B-schools across the world, have been successfully held earlier in Gurgaon, Delhi and Pune.

Bharadwaj assumes additional charge as Governor of Kerala

Karnataka Governor H R Bharadwaj today assumed additional charge as the Governor of Kerala in place of M O H Farook, who has proceeded on leave, citing health problems.

Bharadwaj was administered the oath of office by acting Chief Justice of Kerala High Court Manjula Chellur at a ceremony in Raj Bhavan.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, his Cabinet colleagues and top officials of the state government were present on the occasion.

Earlier in the day, Bharadwaj was given a warm welcome by Chandy and his colleagues at the airport. He was also accorded a guard of honour.

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FIR filed against Achuthanandan in land allotment case

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The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) today registered an FIR against Opposition leader in Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan in connection with allotment of land to his relative in Kasargod.
 
The FIR was registered by the Kasargod unit of Vigilance. It was to be submitted before the Inquiry Commissioner and Vigilance Special Judge Kozhikode this afternoon.
 
VACB Director Venugopal K Nair yesterday ordered the Vigilance officials to register the case against Achuthanandan.
 
Achuthanandan was the first accused in the case as charged by the Vigilance officials.

Kerala: Achuthanandan offers to quit following vigilance case

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Opposition leader in Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan today sought permission from the CPI(M)'s Central leadership to resign from the post in connection with a vigilance case filed against him.
 
Party sources said the opposition leader contacted the Central leaders and sought their permission following the inclusion of his name as the first accused in an FIR registered by the vigilance department in Kasargod today.
 
The FIR was in connection with his alleged involvement in allotment of 2.33 acres of land to one of his relatives.
 
Though Achuthanandan offered to resign, the Central leadership refused to give permission for his resignation.

Kerala ready for joint control of new Mullaperiyar dam

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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said a joint mechanism involving Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Central governments could be considered for the control and management of the new dam proposed by the state to replace the 116-year-old structure at Mullaperiyar.

Briefing newspersons after a meeting of the state Cabinet here, the Chief Minister said Kerala was ready for joint control as a similar mechanism was already in force in the case of Siruvani dam water sharing agreement between the two states.
 
Stating that Kerala would not claim water from the new dam, he said the state wanted an amicable solution with the neighbouring state.
 
"Every moment is crucial for the safety of people living downstream of the dam and at the same time people in the neighbouring state should also get water," he said.
 
He pointed out that when a new dam was constructed, both the states could enter into a fresh agreement.
 
"We have an open mind to discuss any issue with Tamil Nadu. If there is any dispute, either state can approach the Supreme Court," he added.
 
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Chandy writes to Karnataka CM over Madani issue

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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has urged his Karnataka counterpart D V Sadananda Gowda to take steps for proper medical treatment of People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Abdul Nasser Madani, an accused in the 2008 Bangalore serial blasts case and lodged in a jail there.
 
Official sources today said the Chief Minister, in his letter yesterday, urged Gowda to speed up the trial of Madani who had been in jail since August 2010.
 
Earlier, the State PDP leaders submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, demanding proper medical care to Madani, following which Chandy wrote the letter, the sources added.

Mullaperiyer row: Kerala to lodge complaint before Empowered Committee

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The Kerala government will lodge a complaint before the Empowered Committee in New Delhi today about the alleged "unilateral" approach by the two technical experts on the Mullaperiyar dam issue when they visited the dam on December 23 and 24.
 
Today's meeting of Empowered Committee will discuss the issue of bringing down the water level in the dam to 120 ft.
 
Kerala's counsel Rajeev Dhawan would file the complaint before the Committee regarding the "negative approach" by the expert team, comprising C D Thatte and D K Mehta, during their Mullaperiyar dam inspection last week, official sources said here.
 
The decision was following legal advice in this regard from advocate Harish Salve.
 
It was alleged that the expert team did not hear the views of Kerala on the dam's safety aspects in connection with repeated tremors in the area.
 
Later, Mullaperiyar cell Chairman M K Parameswaran Nair, member James Wilson and Irrigation Chief Engineer P Lathia submitted a report in this regard to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
 
The report would be lodged as a complaint before the Committee in New Delhi, the sources added.
 
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Heavy rains lash south Kerala districts

A flooded road after heavy showers in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on December 31, 2011. UNI PHOTO

A flooded road after heavy showers in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on December 31, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Read story.A flooded road after heavy showers in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on December 31, 2011. UNI PHOTO

Heavy rains claim four lives in Kerala

A flooded road after heavy showers in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on December 31, 2011. UNI PHOTO
A flooded road after heavy showers in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on December 31, 2011. UNI PHOTO
At least four people were killed and two others reported missing as heavy rains battered the southern districts of Kerala during the past 12 hours, inundating the low-lying areas, disrupting rail and road traffic and damaging several houses in the coastal areas.
 
Thousands of pilgrims were stranded at the famed Sabarimala Ayyappa temple as heavy rains continued to lash the hill shrine and Pampa since 1800 hrs yesterday.
 
Police sources said a three-year-old boy, Adithyan, drowned in flood waters at Vayalikada in this district, while a woman Sumathi died in an incident of wall collapse.
 
Two people were reportedly electrocuted at Attingal this morning. A search operation was launched to trace two people who were washed away in flood waters at Vayalikada and Vattapara in this district.
 
Sources said many rivers in Thiruvananthapuram were flowing above the danger mark, posing a threat to people living in low-lying areas.
 
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