Sunday, August 30, 2009

Muthoot murder: Cong wants Home Minister out

29 August 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress Saturday demanded the resignation of Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, whose son has been linked by the opposition to the sensational murder of Muthoot business group scion Paul M. George.

"Balakrishnan has lost the trust of the people in the manner in which he has handled the home portfolio. (Chief Minister V.S.) Achuthanandan should take over the portfolio," senior Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran said here.

Sudheeran accused the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) of being in nexus with criminals, who get the support of corrupt police officials.

State Youth Congress president M. Liju also hit out at Balakrishnan, alleging that he was hiding leads in the murder of George, who was killed in Alappuzha Friday.

Liju demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the killing.

Balakrishnan denied allegations that his son Bineesh was in anyway involved in the murder.

Congress MP and former state minister K. Sudhakaran said the relation was well known between Bineesh and Om Prakash, one of the two people with known criminal records, who was with George when he was murdered.

George was travelling with Prakash and P. Rajesh Friday night when he was murdered.

The duo are absconding while 14 people have been arrested, including K. Satish, who police alleged stabbed George.

Curb goondaism: HC

29 Aug 2009

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Friday held that a sense of insecurity prevailed in people's minds due to the increasing incidents of anti-social activity by goonda gangs.

The court stated that it was the state government's duty to curb this menace and protect the common man.

Justice K T Sankaran said thi s while dismissing the bail application submitted by E R Saji alias Aayi Saji, a goonda gang leader in Pala who is a paraplegic.

Saji submitted his bail application on the eight cases charged against him at the Pala police station.

He submitted before the court that being a paraplegic since 2003, he was confined to his bed and the cases had been foisted on him. He also alleged he became a paraplegic after he "was brutally manhandled by the police".

Countering his arguments, the government pleader submitted that Saji was the leader of a goonda gang and several cases, including criminal assault and attempt to murder had been charged against him. "He uses eight mobile phones with connections in different names. He conducts operations with the help of various gang members,'' the pleader submitted.

Dismissing the petition the court said the allegations against the petitioner indicated that the physical invalidity had not affected his criminal activities in any way.

Federal Bank-CSB merger likely in 3 months

Mumbai, Aug 30: Long-awaited merger proposal of Kerala-based Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB) and Federal Bank is likely in the next two to three months with both lenders putting it on fast track.

30 August 2009

Federal Bank, which is one of the largest private sector banks in Kerala with a total business of around Rs 56,000 crore, has appointed three consultants to speed up the process, a source close to the development told PTI.

CSB is understood to have constituted a three-member committee headed by C K Gopinathan to look into the proposal and both banks are likely to start the due-diligence for the merger as early as next week, the source said. Federal Bank has 634 branches while CSB has 300.

CSB has around 120 branches outside Kerala. Its total business currently stands over Rs 11,000 crore and has around 3,000 employees. The combined entity would have a total business of around Rs 67,000 crore and nearly 1,000 branches. This will help the resultant entity to emerge as a major player in the country's banking sector. "A possible merger can consolidate our position in Kerala," Federal Bank, ED, P R Kalyanaraman said.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Muthoot case: Kodiyeri denies son's role

28 August 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan Friday dismissed opposition Congress charge that his son had links with those wanted in connection with the recent murder of Muthoot group scion Paul M. George, asserting that the government had nothing to hide in the case. "My son (Beenish Kodiyeri) has no relation with the case whatsoever," he said, adding the allegation that Beenish had connections with wanted gangsters was to create a 'mystery' over the case.

As more detailed probe was required into the August 22 murder, the investigation would be taken over by a special team headed by IGP Winson Paul, he told reporters here.

The case was now being probed by a team headed by a DySP. Rejecting the charge that the Home Department was trying to interfere in the investigation process, he said a deliberate attempt was being made by "vested interests" to hamper the probe and demoralise the police with allegations that 'higher ups in government wanted to protect the culprits'. The government had nothing to hide in the case and was open to "any sort of investigation", he added.

Balakrishnan also said Additional Director General of Police Sibi Mathew had been given the task of tracking down the wanted gangsters in the Goonda list including Om Prakesh and Rajesh, who accompanied George when he was murdered by a gang near Alappuzha but had been absconding since then.

The IGP-led team would also probe links of George with 'mafia and goons', Balakrishnan said.

George was the executive director of Muthoot M George group, a leading business group in Kerala with diversified interests, including financing and hospitality. On police theory that the murder was not pre-planned, but was due to 'sudden provocation' when George's car allegedly hit a motorcyclist, Balakrishnan said it was based on the "initial evidence". Probe would be conducted to ascertain whether there was any conspiracy behind the murder, he said.

Balakrishnan said the Goonda Act would be strengthened and the financial sources of the 'goons' would be probed. Steps also would be taken to confiscate the assets of wanted anti-social elements.

Asked whether the Muthoot Group had requested the government for a detailed probe into the murder, Balakrishnan said as the family was in mourning, it was better to avoid questions in this regard.

Muthoot murder: special team to trace goons

27 August 2009

The main accused, Kari Sathish being produced in the court.

Thiruvananthapuram: The weapon used to fatally stab Muthoot group scion Paul M George was recovered from the house of the main accused Wednesday, while a police team under a DySP has been set up to track down two absconding gangsters who had accompanied the victim.

Police said they seized a 26-cm long "S-Shaped" dagger from the house of Kari Satheesh, arrested Tuesday, in Paippad in Alappuzha, where he was being interrogated.

The special team had been assigned to trace Om Prakash and Rajesh, the two gangsters who were accompanying 32-year-old George when he was murdered by a criminal gang in a deserted place near Alappuzha in the wee hours of August 22.

George was the Executive Director of Muthoot M George Group, a leading business group in Kerala with interest in several areas including financing and hospitality industry.

The case assumed political undertones with the Opposition Congress and BJP alleging that some higher-ups in government and police were trying to "sabotage" it to protect Om Prakash and Rajesh.

Though preliminary assumption of police had been that George was murdered on a "sudden provocation" by the gang after his vehicle hit a motorcyclist, they are also under pressure to probe links of Om Prakash and Rajesh with George.

So far, 12 people, all members of a criminal racket known in local parlance as "quotation team", had been arrested in connection with the murder.

Police version, based on the leads so far obtained, was that George, Om Prakash, Rajesh and two others had come to Alappuzha from Kochi in two cars.

At a place called Pallathuruthy, Goerge's vehicle hit and injured a motorcyclist. A criminal gang, which was on its way to carry out an "operation", took offence as Goerge ignored the motorcyclist hit by his vehicle.

Some of them chased Goerge's car for about 2.5 km, waylaid and Satheesh stabbed him fatally after a scuffle. Om Prakash and Rajesh fled the scene in the car, which was found abandoned at Chavara in Kollam District the next day.

Meanwhile, mother of Satheesh, Vilasini, claimed her son had actually surrendered to the police and not tracked down and nabbed as claimed by the investigators. She said her son had conveyed to the police his willingness to surrender through some of his friends.

Woman dies of swine flu, Kerala toll two

28 August 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: A 44-year-old woman has died of swine flu in Kerala, taking the death toll in the state to two, an official said Friday. Nodal officer Amar S. Fettle said that the patient was being treated at a hospital and died Thursday at Kochi, about 250 km from here.

"The test results of the woman came from Manipal only Friday evening and she tested positive for the H1N1 virus. She was a patient at a hospital since Aug 24 and was under treatment," he said.

"As of now, 192 people have tested positive for HINI in the state, of which 35 are currently under treatment in various hospitals of the state," Fettle added.

The first swine flu death was reported early this month.

F S Nariman will appear for Pinarayi

28 August 2009

New Delhi: Senior advocate Fali S Nariman will appear for CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the Supreme Court for hearing in the criminal writ petition filed by him in the SNC Lavalin case.

In fact, before filing the criminal writ petition, Vijayan had sought advice of legal experts including Nariman.

Top advocate Harish Salve will appear for Kerala government in the case. The court will take up Vijayan's petition on Monday.

Viajayan has filed the petition arguing that the governor's decision to grant permission to prosecute him as unconstitutional; he also wanted to revoke the CBI's chargesheet framed against him in the case.

Lavalin case: Nariman to appear for Vijayan

28 Aug 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: BJP State general secretary M.T. Ramesh has said that the efforts of the CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan to link RSS was an effort to save the real culprits. Ramesh said in a statement here on Thursday that Paul when he was killed was accompanied in the car by Om Prakash and Puthenpalam Rajesh, who were goondas associated with the CPM.

Ramesh alleged that it was two police officials of Kollam district who had saved these goondas. No action has been taken against these officials as the real culprits were being protected by Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Muthoot murder case: notorious goon held

24 August 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: Police Sunday detained notorous goon Omprakash in connection with the murder of Paul M Muthoot. He was arreated from Kollam. IG Wilson M Paul stated that the investigation is moving in the right direction. All meterials recovered are being examined, he asserted.

Police had earlier took 11 persons into custody in connection with the murder of Paul M George, son of Muthoot Group chairman, M.G. George.

They were interrogated by IG Winson M Paul at the SP's office in Alappuzha.

Police has also taken into custody two tempo travellers which are believed to have been used by them. The vehicles are registered in the districts of Alappuzha and Kollam.

Meanwhile, investigations are also on about gangs based in Thiruvananthapuram. The investigation is currently focusing on two goons Omprakash and Puthan Palam Rajesh who are being trailed by the police in Thiruvananthapuram under Goonda Act. Their role in the crime has been confirmed by the police. However this has not been officially communicated as yet.

It is said that on the fateful day, Omprakash and Puthan Palam Rajesh were accompanying Paul in a car. After committing the murder they fled with the car and later abandoned it in Kollam.

The car which is believed to have been used by Paul while falling victim to the crime, was recovered from Chavara near Kollam.

The police has also recovered Omprakash's licence from the car it has been found that the car is owned by one John Baptist Shibu, TC 33912, Titanium Appan Pilla Road, Thiruvananthapuram.

Will probe conspiracy angle: DGP

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 24: DGP Jacob Punnoose Monday said the conspiracy angle in the murder of Paul George Muthoot will be probed.

A lookout notice has been been served for locating gangleader Omprakash. According to police sources the murder resulted from fight between two gangs over a bike knocked down by Paul's vehicle.

Police have arrested 11 persons, including the kingpin of a gang. The car of the businessman, Paul George, was found abandoned in Chavara in Kollam district, from which the driving licence of the gang leader was found, police said.

They are being questioned by the investigating team headed by Inspector General of Police Winson M Paul, officials said. George (32), executive director of the Kerala-based Muthoot M George group, was stabbed to death by assailants in a deserted spot on the Alappuzha-Changassery road in the wee hours yesterday

Kerala's work and education culture must change: Tharoor

Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor has called for nurturing a customer service-oriented and entrepreneurship-based culture in Kerala to address the lack of employability among the State's youth.

Inaugurating the Thaamath IGNOU Community College, affiliated to the Indira Gandhi National Open University and operated by the Thaamath and Universal Empire groups at Ambalapuzha here on Saturday, Mr. Tharoor said the State's youth had education and knowledge but lacked employability, which was why unemployment continued to haunt the State despite its hundred per cent literacy record.

Instead of acquiring knowledge and education that was best suited for coffee house discussions, the youth should aim at acquiring vocational strengths that would help them lead a productive life in today's globalised economy. For that to happen, a change in the work and education culture of the State was necessary, he said. Community colleges such as the Thaamath IGNOU institution were a concept that had to be applauded.

IGNOU vice-chancellor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai delivered the keynote address. Coir and Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran presided over the function. K.C. Venugopal, MP, Universal Empire Group chairman K. Balachandran Nair, IGNOU pro-vice- chancellor K.R. Srivatsan and others spoke

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pinarayi's petition lands in Civil Appeals Section

21 August 2009

The criminal writ petition, with regard to Lavalin case, filed by Pinarayi Vijayan has been moved to the Civil Appeals Section in the Supreme Court. Vijayan had filed the writ petition on the 10th of August.

In the petition, he had appealed that the governor's step of granting permission to prosecute him on Lavalin graft case was unconstitutional and demanded to revoke the CBI chargesheet against him.

However, the court had returned the petition on the grounds of some shortcomings in it.

Later, on 17th August, he filed it as criminal writ petition, including CBI as one of the opposite parties. According to which, the petition should have come under Section X, that deals with criminal writ petitions. But it is now lying in Section XV, which deals with Civil Appeals.

Legal experts are of the view that this change doesn't matter much in the prosecution process. The petition has been listed for 31st August hearing.

The CBI court has sent summons to Pinarayi Vijayan on Lavalin case. A CBI official went to AKG centre to hand Vijayan the summons, which was sent from CBI's Chennai unit. Vijayan has been directed in the summons to be present at CBI court in Kochi on 24th September.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Coconut harvesting machine operated with hydraulic system

Coconut growers plan mechanisation in plucking

CUMBUM (THENI): Coconut growers in Cumbum valley have plans to go for mechanisation in plucking coconut from tall variety of trees as they face acute shortage of labour and escalation of labour costs.

The valley has over 13 lakh trees and produce 3.25 crore coconuts. Normally, coconut growers pluck 22 to 27 matured nuts every 40 to 45 days from each tree.

They need a large number of workers to pluck coconuts.

But the number of workers engaged in this trade is approximately 1,400 persons only.

Such a small work force does not match the demand of labour for plucking nuts. With growing demand, workers too press farmers to scale up their wages. Above all, traditional plucking system has delayed harvesting process. When contacted, Cumbum Valley Coconut Farmers and Contractors Association Secretary K.M. Abbas said that each farmer had been paying Rs.137 as wages plus two coconuts to each worker. The new harvesting machine operated with hydraulic system will certainly speed up harvesting process. More over, skilled tree climber is not necessary.

With this machine, any person can go to the tip of tree and pluck coconut irrespective of tree height. This can be operated by any person without any difficulty, he added.

Farmers having big farms too can complete harvesting in a day or two. Time for climbing up and down from each tree too will come down considerably. One worker can harvest nuts in 300 trees without any hassle.

Several coconut growers in the valley have ordered this machine from Coimbatore district.

In Udumalpet area, workers have been using long stick fitted with sharp sickle to pluck nuts.

Design a coconut plucker and win Rs.1 mn

18 August 2009
Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 18: Kerala's industries department has called for innovative thinkers from across the country to develop a coconut plucking machine and win Rs.1 million as prize money.

Addressing reporters here Tuesday, state Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem said that even though there are a few machines that help a non-professional coconut tree climber go up a coconut tree and pluck ripe coconuts, it has somehow failed to click.

"So we call upon anyone to develop a product that can be used to pluck coconuts standing on the ground. Anyone wanting to go ahead with this should submit a design and if it is approved they will be given Rs.100,000 to develop the product," said Kareem.

The minister said such a product would become a huge hit because the demand for it would be huge.

The biggest problem facing those who own coconut trees in Kerala is that it is difficult to find a professional coconut tree climber to pluck the ripe coconuts -- an exercise that has to be done once every 45 days.

"This is something that will be a great boost for many who are at the mercy of these tree climbers who charge Rs.25 for one tree, especially in the cities. We all wish someone develops a product so we don't have to be at the mercy of these tree climbers," said Joseph Thomas when heard about the government's move to invite applications for a product to be developed.

Kerala's annual production of coconuts has been seeing a free fall in both the area under cultivation and the production.

The area under coconut cultivation in 2005 was 8.99 lakh hectares and it fell to 8.02 lakh hectares in 2008. Similarly, the total production of coconuts fell from 6,001 million to 5,564 million during the same period.

In contrast, the area under coconut cultivation in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka put together has increased from 29 percent in 1993 to 40 percent in 2007.

Inland container terminal inaugurated

Kottayam: A Rs 9.56 crore inland container terminal under public and private participation was inaugurated by Kerala Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem here Monday. The Port and Container terminal, set up on 10 acres of land at Nattakom here, and expected to handle 6,000 containers a year, will transport export commodities, especially spices, from central Kerala, comprising Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Idukki districts.

Setting up of this terminal would ensure that export of commodities, especially spices, would become hassle-free and cheaper compared to the present mode of freight movement through Kochi port, Kareem said.

Three new ministers sworn in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 17 (PTI) In an expansion and reshuffle exercise, three members, including Kerala Congress (J) leader P J Joseph, who had been cleared of the charge of misbehaviour towards a woman on a flight three years ago, were today inducted into the LDF ministry in the state.

Besides Joseph, Congress (S) nominee Ramachandran Kadannappally and JDS (Deve Gowda faction)'s Jose Thettayil were sworn in as members of the V S Achuthanandan ministry by Governor R S Gavai.

Joseph and Thettayil replace their respective party nominees Mons Joseph and Mathew T Thomas in the cabinet.

Mons Joseph had resigned as PWD minister yesterday to make way for P J Joseph, who is the KC(J) Chairman.

Thettayil comes in place of Mathew T Thomas, who had resigned in the wake of dispute between JDS and CPI(M) over allotment of Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat to JDS in the polls.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kerala govt allots Rs 2 Cr to fight H1N1

16 August 2009

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 12: A day after first swine flu death in the state, Kerala cabinet Wednesday took stock of the situation created by the spread of virus and decided to draw an action plan to check the disease.

The state cabinet was of the view that the spread of virus was creating concern and posing threat to people, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan told reporters here.

The government has decided to allot Rs two crore for arranging for flu treatment facilities at major hospitals, he said adding a special meeting of health officials will draw an action plan to deal with the emerging situation.

The Cabinet has also asked the Union Government to recognise the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology here as a centre for testing the virus, he added.

The cabinet meeting comes in the wake of 35-year-old Wilson Luckose succumbing to the disease at a private hospital in the city last night A total of 55 confirmed flu cases had been reported in the state. Of this ten were under treatment at various centres, Health officials said. Meanwhile, condition of a man who arrived from Dubai on August 11 with fever and suspected flu symptoms and is admitted at a private hospital in Kochi was serious, they said adding he was first admitted to Aluva taluk hospital and later shifted to the hospital after his condition turned critical. Reports of his throat swabs, which was sent to Delhi, are expected today, they added.

Pvt lab to conduct swine flu test for Rs.4,000

16 August 2009

New Delhi: Private diagnostic network Super Religare Laboratories (SRL) said here Friday that it is ready to conduct swine flu tests at Rs.4,000, while the government claims it spends nearly Rs.10,000 for testing a swine flu patient's sample.

"We are fully prepared for the screening of H1N1 in all our laboratories in the country and are only waiting for the green signal from the government. We have lowered our prices as we see this as an opportunity to serve the nation," said Sanjeev K. Chaudhry, chief executive of Super Religare Laboratories.

"We have adequate amount of testing kits available with us with a team of renowned doctors at both Mumbai and Gurgaon," he said.

Chaudhry added that some of the doctors with SRL have gone through an orientation programme at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in New Delhi.

Ashok Rattan, advisor to SRL diagnostic network, told IANS: "We are ready with all facilities to help people. We are in touch with the health ministry. Once the government gives us a go ahead, we will accept swine flu samples. We have fixed the cost at Rs.4000 per test."

"We will take all precautions. We have also requested the government to give us some Tamiflu tablets so that we can use them if our technicians need it at any moment due to exposure to the virus," Rattan added.

At present, SRL has about 1,000 swine flu testing kits available with it at the Mumbai and Gurgaon centres.

At the orientation programme, private labs were informed about the guidelines to be followed while conducting the tests, how to handle the transportation of samples, how to wear the mask, the goggles, the cap and other logistics relating to testing samples for swine flu

Kerala ministerial expansion Monday

15 August 2009

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 14: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala will expand its ministry Monday with three allies getting one minister each.

Left Democratic Front convenor Vaikam Viswan Friday said former minister P.J. Joseph (Kerala Congress-J), Kadannappally Ramachandran (Congress-S) and Jose Thettayil (Janata Dal-Secular-Gowda) will be sworn in.

"The decision on the portfolios for Ramachandran and Janata Dal-Secular-Gowda nominee would be decided later," Viswan told reporters.

Joseph was the public works minister and had to quit nearly three years ago after being accused of molesting a woman.

Last month, Joseph was given a clean chit by a court in Chennai. Minister Mons Joseph, who replaced Joseph, announced Friday that he would submit his resignation Sunday.

Mask imports go up, thanks to flu scare

15 August 2009

New Delhi: Cashing in on the swine flu scare in some parts of India, the few companies manufacturing it in the country have increased production while imports of the N95 face mask have also gone up.

"The supply of N95 masks has increased three-fold over the last three months compared to normal times. We have taken steps to import and supply eight times the usual quantity since the pandemic surfaced in India," Nagaraj M., vice president (safety, security and protection services), 3M India Limited, said.

US-based 3M is one of the leading manufacturers of the N95 respirators. At a global level, the company has announced an investment of $20 million to increase its global production capacity by 10 per cent.

"In order to ensure constant supply and to reduce shipment time, we are airlifting respirators from our global sourcing centres in the US, Europe and Asia. We are supplying the product through multiple channels so that it reaches all the people at risk, including healthcare workers, hospital staff, first responders and the general public," said Nagaraj.

Three types of face masks -- single-layered (surgical mask), three-layered and the N95 -- are available in the market. According to doctors, N95 masks are the safest.

"The N95 masks are considered to be the best as they offer 95 per cent protection from the virus," Randeep Guleria, head of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said.

Thea-Tex Healthcare, an N95 mask manufacturing company based in India, has also geared up to meet the demand.

"There has been a massive increase in the demand for face masks and we have diverted all our resources in manufacturing N95 masks," said a company official who sought anonymity.

The manufacturing companies are working closely with the government and healthcare institutions to deal with the H1N1 pandemic.

"We are working closely with the government and have been supplying face masks to them as best as possible to meet this extraordinary and unusual demand. In addition we are working closely with the state governments by helping them prepare for pandemic situations and to educate and build awareness about it," said Nagaraj.

3M supplies four different types of N95 respirators in India. The price of the N95 respirators varies from Rs.44 to Rs.227.

"While all of them conform to the N95 standard, they differ in terms of construction and features specific to usage," he said.

"For example, respirators featuring valves are intended for health workers to allow them to wear them for longer durations and ensure comfort but respirators without valves are intended for patients to prevent them from spreading the virus while exhaling."

Nagaraj warns that under no circumstances should an attempt be made to clean or wash a disposable respirator.

"Masks should be disposed of after use unless directed otherwise and it is recommended that they be replaced once they have been taken off after exposure to a contaminated environment," Nagaraj added.

India has so far reported 22 swine flu deaths while the H1N1 virus has affected nearly 1,100 people

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kerala loses a great actor

6 August 2009

Kochi, Aug 6: Kerala lost a great actor in the death of Murali who breathed his last at a private hospital in Thiruvananthauram Thursday night. He was 55.

Murali who was a diabetic was admitted to PRS hospital with symptoms of pneumonia after getting back to Kerala from a shoot in South Africa. H breathed his last at around 8.20 pm.

Murali was also the chairman of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy.

Murali first donned the grease paint on screen for the film 'Njattadi' which was directed by another actor of great calibre Bharat Gopi. Sadly the film never saw the light of the day. Aravindan's Chidambaram and Lenin Rajendran's 'Meenamasathile Sooryan' followed soon. But it was the small but impressive role in the film 'Panchagni', scripted by MT and directed by Hariharan that brought him to the limelight.

Murali bagged the national award for best actor for his role as Appumesthry in Priyanandan's 'Neythukaran'.

Murali debuted as a hero through George Kithu's 'Aardram'. The role of Bapputti in the film also won him his first state award for the best actor. The audience accepted him in all type of roles including villanaeus roles and it became easy for him to make the shift from a negative shade to lead roles. He has also acted in several Tamil movies.

Born on 25th May 1954 as the first child of P. Krishna Pillai and K. Devaki Amma in Kudavattoor, Kollam, he completed his schooling from Kudavattoor L. P. School and Thrikannamangalam S.K.V. High School. Murali was active in school theatre but his destiny as an actor was groomed by his contact with thespians Narendraprasad and poet Kadammanitta, whom he fondly referred to as Guruji, while he was a student at Law Academy in Thiruvananthapuram.

Murali grew up in a climate of left politics and always remained a faithful co-traveller of the Communist party in Kerala. He unsuccessfully contested the 1999 Lok Sabha elections as a CPM candidate from Alappuzha against V. M. Sudheeran of the Indian National Congress.

Murali is survived by wife Shailaja and daughter Karthika.

Kerala fire department to get helicopter

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Government would take a speedy decision on the purchase of a helicopter for the Fire and Rescue Service, the Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has said.

This would enable the service to operate with much greater efficiency in times of disaster, he said.

He was speaking after receiving a cheque for Rs. 10 crore-to be handed over to the Fire and Rescue Service-from the Revenue Minister K. P. Rajendran, here, on Wednesday. The fund is being given from the Disaster Management Department of the State government. The government hopes to give the Service such a fund every year for the purchase of rescue equipment, Mr. Balakrishnan added.

In his speech, Mr. Rajendran said a helicopter would be of particular use in rescuing those stranded in remote areas in situations such as a landslide or a flood. The Service would be able to rescue people or reach medicines and food to remote areas including tribal settlements,he said.

Speed boats, water tenders, underwater breathing apparatus, rubber dinghies, search lights, two excavators, hydraulic tools, chain saws, stretchers that can float in water, life buoys, life jackets,inflatable tents, tower lights and emergency lamps would be among the rescue equipment that the Fire and Rescue Service in the state would add to its armoury thanks to the Rs. 10 crore fund.

According to a handout prepared by Department, the Fire and Rescue Service was able to save 4493 persons and 1390 animals during various fire and rescue operations during the last five years. Property worth Rs. 1131.15 crores was also saved from destruction during fire andrescue operations during this period, the document said.

There are 89 Fire and Rescue Stations in the state. In order that all these stations become fully operational, equipment worth Rs. 50 crores need to be purchased immediately, the document noted.

Mr. V. Sivankutty MLA, the chief secretary Neela Gangadharan , the principal secretary (Revenue), Nivedita P. Haran and the Commandant General of the Fire and Rescue Service Alexander Jacob were among those who participated in the programme.