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Thiruvananthapuram

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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16th IFFK gets off to colourful start in Thiruvananthapuram

The 16th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK 2011) got off to a colourful start here this evening with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy declaring the event open in the presence of eminent film personalities and cultural leaders.

Bollywood actress Jaya Bachchan was the chief guest in the inaugural function held at the Nishagandhi Open air auditorium at Kanakakkunnu Palace.
 
A 23-minute cultural show, featuring 25 Kathakali artistes, was the main highlight of the inaugural function, followed by the screening of the Chinese film Under The Hawthorn Tree, set against the backdrop of the ancient Yangtze River.  
 
The week-long festival will feature 196 films from across 65 countries in 15 different sections. More than 100 delegates from abroad, including 50 eminent personalities, were attending the festival. 
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Eleven films from Asia, Africa and Latin American countries will figure in the competition section. In the retrospective section, films of Robert Bresson (France), Nagisa Oshima (Japan), Theo Angelopoulose (Greece), Adolfas Mekas (USA) and Djibril Diop
Mambety (Senegal) would be screened.
 
In the homage section, films of Raul Ruiz, Mani Kaul, Tariq Masood and Elizabeth Taylor, artists who passed away in 2011, will be screened.
 
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Mullaperiyar: Kerala Assembly passes resolution for new dam

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Political parties joined hands to unanimously pass a resolution in the state Assembly today calling for a new dam to replace the 116-year-old structure at Mullaperiyar and lowering the water level in the dam to 120 ft from the present 136 ft.
 
After a three-hour discussion on a motion moved by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the special Assembly session unanimously passed the resolution expressing serious concern over the safety of millions of people living downstream of the dam.
 
The Chief Minister said construction of a new dam to replace the existing structure was the only solution to solve the vexed issue with Tamil Nadu. Kerala was ready to give Mullaperiyar water to Tamil Nadu even after the construction of a new dam, he said, adding it was sad that the neighbouring state was not considering the safety of the people of Kerala.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the level should be brought down immediately in view of the dangerous situation.
 
If the Centre's intervention on the issue was delayed, the consequences would be disastrous, he said.
 
Members representing various political parties expressed serious concern over the safety of the three million people living downstream in view of the frequent earthquakes in the region. They pointed out that the dam was weak and it could not withstand a major earthquake.
 
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All-party delegation from Kerala to meet PM on Mullaperiyar

 

An all-party delegation, headed by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, will soon meet Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh to put forward the state's demand for lowering the storage level of the ageing Mullaperiyar dam to 120 ft from the present 136 ft and to construct a new dam to replace the 116-year-old structure.
 
Briefing newspersons after a meeting of the state Cabinet, the Chief Minister said the state government was taking all steps to ensure the safety of millions of people living downstream in view of the recurring tremours in the region and high water level in the dam.
 
A Cabinet sub-committee had been constituted to prepare a detailed affidavit to be filed before Kerala High Court on the safety aspects before December 15, he said, adding that the controversy relating to Kerala Advocate General K P Dandapani on the Mullaperiyar issue was a closed chapter as he explained before the Cabinet that he had not made any statement in the court to the effect that there was no link between the storage level and safety of the dam.
 
He said the state government would also file an interim application before the Supreme Court requesting steps to reduce the water level to 120 ft.
 
Stating that the government was in the process of preparing ground work to meet any eventuality, Mr Chandy said Water Resources Minister P J Joseph would be sent to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee to speed up the completion of the "dam break analysis" report.
 
Terming the stray incidents of violence over the issue as unfortunate, the Chief Minister said Kerala always wanted to maintain cordial relations with its neighbour Tamil Nadu. 
 
"Though Kerala was not against giving water to Tamil Nadu, it wanted to ensure the safety of its own people," he added.
 
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Former Kerala SEB chairman Ramabhadran Nair passes away

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Former Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) Chairman S Ramabhadran Nair, who was the sixth accused in the Idamalayar graft case, died here early today.
 
He was 81. He is survived by his wife Maya and two sons, Sunil R Nair and Dr Anoop R Nair. His other son, Satish  R Nair had pre-deceased him. 
 
Nair was sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court in the case along with Mr R Balakrishna Pillai, the former Kerala Minister and father of present State Forest Minister K B Ganeshkumar.
 
However, the court reduced his sentence considering his advanced stage of dementia. 
 
He was allegedly part of a conspiracy that caused loss of Rs 2 crore to KSEB by awarding contracts in connection with the Idamalayar Project.
 
The cremation would be held at Thycaud Crematorium here this afternoon, family sources added.
 
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Kerala: Opposition urges Chandy to remove Advocate General

 

Opposition leader in Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan today urged Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to remove Advocate General (AG) K P Dandapani from the post for his alleged statement against the state's interest in the Kerala High Court over the controversial Mullaperiyar Dam issue.
 
Addressing a press conference here, Mr Achuthanandan said Mr Chandy should clarify whether the statment by the AG in the court was personal or that of the state government.
 
"If the Kerala Government is taking a stand against lakhs of people living downstream of the weak dam, what is the use of convening an all-party meeting, and a special seession of the State Assembly on December 9?" Mr Achuthanandan asked.     
 
He alleged that the AG today made a statement before the High Court that there is no relation between the water level in Mullaperiyar and the safety of the dam.
 
"The AG also informed the Court that if the Mullaperiyar Dam met with a disaster, the water can be contained by Idukki, Cheruthoni and Kulamavu Dams. 
 
"The statement is against the interest of the state and lakhs of people in the area," he alleged.
 
The AG also blamed the media for creating panic and publising distorted reports on the safety of the dam, he alleged.
 
Mr Dandapani clarified that he had only stated that Idukki Dam had the capacity to contain the entire volume of water in Mullaperiyar, which was also a view held by the State Disaster
Mitigation Authority.
 
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Motor strike against hike in petrol prices hits life in Kerala

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The dawn-to-dusk motor strike jointly called by CITU, AITUC, BMS and other pro-Left trade unions in protest against the hike of petrol price hit normal life in many parts of Kerala today.
 
However, pro-Congress trade unions, including INTUC, STU and HMS, did not not support the 12-hour strike from 0600 hrs to 1800 hrs.
 
Private buses, taxis and autorickshaws stayed off the roads, reports from various places said here.
 
The state-run KSRTC buses operated their services from major cities and towns. Four people were taken into custody when they tried to disrupt the services of KSRTC buses in Kottayam town.
 
Essential services like healthcare, milk supply and media had been exempted from the strike by the agitators.
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Kerala Public Service Commission, Devaswom Board, Kerala University, Kannur University and Kalady Sanskrit University postponed many interviews and examinations due to the strike.
 
However, the interviews for the Public Administration lecturer's post and the final examination of Chartered Accountants were not postponed.
 
The Lower Division Clerk Examinations, scheduled to be conducted at Alappuzha, Kottayam, Thrissur and the Department test of Travancore Devaswom Board, have been postponed to November 10.
 
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Opposition walks out from Kerala Assembly over ex-minister's release

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The Opposition CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) members today staged a walk-out from the Kerala Assembly in protest against the release of former minister R Balakrishna Pillai from jail.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, the Opposition's deputy leader in the House Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged that the government had violated jail rules in releasing the former minister and the Kerala Congress (B) leader, whose son is a minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet.
 
Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan alleged that the Government did not show respect to the Supreme Court verdict, which convicted Mr Pillai and sentenced him to one year in prison in connection with the Idamalayar scam.

Phone calls to terrorists from prisons to be probed

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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today told the State Assembly that a high-level probe would be conducted into the telephone calls allegedly made by prisoners in the state to terrorist organisations abroad.
 
Moving an adjournment motion, Raju Abraham alleged that the calls were also found to be made to satellite phones, which led to the suspicion of prisoners being linked with terrorist organisations.  
 
It was beyond the financial capacity of prisoners to make international calls and satellite calls, he added.
 
In his reply, the Chief Minister said a detailed probe would be conducted in this regard by National Investigation Agency (NIA) or any other Central agencies, including RAW.

LDF submits memorandum to Kerala Governor, seeks judicial probe

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The leaders of the CPI(M)-led Opposition today submitted a memorandum to Kerala Governor M O H Farooq, demanding a judicial inquiry into the alleged violation of jail rules by former minister R Balakrishna Pillai, who made telephone calls from jail.

Talking to newspersons after submitting the Memorandum, Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said there should be an inquiry into the role of government also in providing facilities to the former minister in jail.

The Left Democratic Front was also planning to move the Supreme Court over the issue, if necessary, he added.

Death toll in Kerala school van mishap rises to 4

The death toll in yesterday's school van accident at Kadinamkulam, near here, rose to four with a 10-year-old girl succumbing to her injuries today.


3 students killed as school van plunges into river in Kerala

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At least three students were killed and ten others injured when a school van plunged into a river near Kadinamkulam, about 20 km from here, this evening.

Mata Amritanandamayi Math to train 10,000 home nurses in Kerala

The Mata Amritanandamayi Math will launch a new initiative in creating a cadre of 10,000 home nurses in Kerala as part of the 58th birthday celebration of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi on September 27.


The Home Nurse Initiative will be inaugurated by Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan at Amritapuri campus of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeethamin Kollam, Ashram sources said.


One of the distressing health trends that has emerged in Kerala is an increase in the number of aged people who are sick and disabled, but have nobody within the family to take care of them at home. This alarming social phenomenon has prompted Mata Amritanandmayi Math to launch a pioneering initiative to create a cadre of 10,000 home nurses in Kerala, out of whom 1000 would undergo professional training immediately, they said.


The training of home nurses will be imparted by the Amrita network of medical institutions. This will be a six-month free training program inclusive of stay and food, with a stipend to each trainee, they said.


The sources said another educational initiative is an online "Free All India Tuition Programme" for college students. The programme is supported by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD).


Initially, a pilot programme will be launched in Kerala and later extended to other States. The free tuition programme will be transmitted through Amrita University’s award winning E-Learning platform, A-VIEW (Amrita Virtual Interactive E-Learning World), developed by Amrita University.


The initiative will be inaugurated Union Minister for Science and Technology Vilasrao Deshmukh.


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High-speed Thiruvananthapuram-Mangalore rail corridor in five years

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The proposed high-speed rail corridor project, connecting Thiruvananthapuram, Kasaragod and Mangalore, is expected to be completed in five years.

6th vault of temple not to be opened till security is in place

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The Supreme Court today directed that the last of the six vaults of the Lord Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, should not be opened till adequate security arrangements were put in place.

Protest against petrol price hike turns violent in Kerala

Two government vehicles were set on fire as pro-Marxist youth wing activists, protesting against the hike in the price of petrol, engaged in a pitched battle with the police here today.


Film by Mammoottty on anti-narcotic activities released

Film star Mammootty handed over a CD of a short film on anti-narcotics activities to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here today.


The film was produced by the film star for the State Excise Department as part of a camapign against the use of drugs among the people.


Mr Chandy said the film would be screened in all the schools in the state and theatres as part of the campaign against the drugs.


Earlier, the actor assurred the Chief Minister during the observation of the Anti-Tobacco Day that he would produce a film for creating awareness among the people about the ill effects of narcotics abuse.


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Malayalees across world celebrate Onam

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Malayalees across the world today celebrated the colourful harvest festival of Onam marking the homecoming of the legendary king Mahabali.

Special prayers in temples, multi-coloured floral designs - called "athappookkalam" and elaborate traditional feasts with family members marked the celebrations.

According to legend, Kerala witnessed its golden era during the reign of "Asura" King Mahabali. However, he was banished to the nether world by Lord Vishnu, who took the incarnation of Vamana (dwarf), under pressure from "Devas", who were jealous of the King’s popularity.

Before his departure, the King secured an assurance from Lord Vishnu that he would be allowed to visit his subjects on "Thiruvonam" day of Malayalam calendar every year.

Onam being a harvest festival, importance is given to food. The grand vegetarian lunch called "Sadya" includes dishes like avial, red rice, tomato rasam, olan, kalan, mor kuzhambu and palada pradhaman.

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M O H Farook sworn in as Kerala Governor

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Mr M O Hasan Farook, a three-time Chief Minister of Puduchery, was sworn in here today as the 16th Governor of Kerala.

GAIL Gas, KSIDC to set up JV for city gas distribution in Kerala

GAIL Gas Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the public sector gas major GAIL (India) Limited, and Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) today agreed to set up a joint venture to pursue city gas distribution opportunities in the state.

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