Monday, May 31, 2010

Victims of the Mangalore air tragedy should get at least 145,000 dollars in compensation - Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram: Victims of the Mangalore air tragedy should get at least 145,000 dollars in compensation apart from the amount sanctioned by the state and central governments, Kerala's Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said Monday. At least 158 people died in the tragedy May 22 of which 49 were Malayalis.

'According to the international aviation rules the compensation is USD 1.45 lakh. We will see that no dilution takes place in this and we are working with the centre on it,' Chandy told reporters here.

He also added that the civil aviation ministry has announced Rs.10 lakh, Kerala government Rs.3 lakh and Rs.2 lakh from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund as compensation for the families of those killed.

'So the family of a victim would get Rs.15 lakh plus USD 1.45 lakh. We are now working to see that this reaches the victim's family at the earliest. I personally visited the homes of more than 15 victims and all of them are in dire straits,' added Chandy.

Commenting on reports that a few victims were travelling on forged passports, Chandy, a former chief minister, said it will have no bearing on the compensation to be paid.

'We have found out that this compensation has no bearing on the status of the passport. It is given to those who die in an air crash,' Chandy said.

The IX 812 Dubai-Mangalore flight overshot the runway while landing at the Bajpe airport, about 20 km from Mangalore, and caught fire after plunging about 300 meters off a cliff.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vallarpadam ICTT to be commissioned in August

Kochi : The Rs.2,118-crore International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam near here will be commissioned in August, the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) said Tuesday.
Billed as the country's first global hub terminal, the ICTT is in strategic proximity to international sea routes.

'The CPT Board that met today (Tuesday) has taken a decision that ICTT, Vallarpadam, shall be competitive with international transshipment ports in the South/Southeast Asian region, and the vessel related charges shall match the tariff at these ports,' the CPT said in a statement.

DP World, formerly Dubai Port International, has developed ICTT. The container berth will be of 1,800m and have a depth of 14.5m.

ICTT is expected to alter the development map of Kerala through huge investment in the coming years.

It is set to launch a series of ventures, including an LNG terminal (Rs.1,600-crore), a port-based special economic zone (Rs.1,510 crore), a ship repair complex (Rs.315 crore), SBM (single buoy moorings) for Kochi Refineries Ltd (Rs. 720 crore) and a petrochemical complex for Gas Authority of India (Rs.7,000 crore).

A 4.62-km rail bridge, the longest in the country, connecting ICTT with the main land at Edapally has been completed.

Custody death: HC orders CBI probe

The Kerala High Court today ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the custodial death of Sampath, the key accused in the Sheela Murder Case.

Justice V Ramkumar, while issuing the orders observed this was a case where the public had lost confidence in police.

It is evident there had been manipulation in the case records and the police investigation was a 'farce' as there were attempts to save higher officials.

The court observed this was a fit case for the central investigating agency to probe.

The court had directed the State Police to hand over the case records to the CBI unit here.

Sampath (26), the first accused in the Sheela murder case, died while in police custody on March 29 at Puthur in Palakkad District.

The court also observed it was unfortunate that lock-ups in the State had turned into 'death rooms'.

The Crime Branch, which was probing the custodial death, had filed chargesheets against 12 police officials.

The court further observed that sensitive cases should be investigated by police officials with proven credentials.

Any police official who was directly or indirectly connected with the incident should be brought to book, the court said.

The court gave the order while allowing a petition filed by Murukesh, the brother of Sampath.

The court also observed that investigation into the Sheela Murder Case in which Sampath was an accused should not be influenced by the observation of the judgement.

The murder of Sheela Jayakrishnan took place on March 22, 2010, in the day light at her house in the heart of Palakkad. Her mother Karthiyayani (70) was also brutally attacked

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Air India crash in Mangalore: Black box found

May 23, 2010,

Investigators have recovered two out of the three parts of the Black Box from the wreckage of the ill-fated Air India Express which might provide vital clues about the cause of Saturday's crash.

Search is still on for the third critical part of the Black Box. The box, which records all flight information, will help investigators recreate the last moments of the flight to find out what exactly went wrong leading to the crash.

Altogether 158 people were killed and eight others miraculously survived after an Air India plane IX 812 overshot the runway by 2000 metres, going off the edge of Mangalore's table-top airport. The plane was flying from Dubai to Mangalore with 160 passengers and six crew members on board.

The Black Box, also known as flight recorder, is vital in finding information about key details like the last moments of the flight and whether there was any error from the pilot's side.

The box will be brought to the accident lab of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in New Delhi where the investigators will open it up and recreate last moments to find out what exactly went wrong.

According to sources, Boeing experts are also going to help in deciphering the Black Box.

Earlier, a forensic team had arrived from Hyderabad to help investigate the cause of the air crash. The team is conducting DNA tests on those bodies that have charred beyond recognition. More than 100 bodies have been identified so far from among the 158 victims.

Leaders seek higher compensation for crash victims

Mangalore: Congress leaders from Kerala today urged the Centre to enhance the amount of Rs 2 lakh announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as relief to the families of those killed in the Air India Express air crash here yesterday.

Singh had yesterday announced a financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of those killed and a compensation of Rs 50,000 each to those injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala who visited Wenlock Hospital here, where
victims' bodies have been kept, said many of those killed, especially Keralites, were bread-winners of their families,
which depend on their remittances from Gulf.

So apart from the personal and emotional loss, the families had been financially hit by the tragedy, the leaders said, adding they would take up the issue of enhancing the compensation with the Union Government.

All but eight of 166 passengers on board the Air India Express flight from Dubai were killed when the plane overshot the runway, veered off and plunged into a ravine before bursting into flames. PTI

Crashed Mangalore plane was one of Air India's best, claims CMD

May 23, 2010

Mangalore, May 23 (ANI): Air India on Sunday said that various comments on the condition of the AIR India Express IX-812 plane that crashed in Mangalore on Saturday were baseless, and that it was one of the newest aircrafts.

Addressing a press conference here, the Air India's CMD Arvind Jadhav said: "The aircraft was brand new, just a few years old."

Mr. Jadhav also said that both the pilots had three days of rest." and Captain Harbinder Singh Ahluwalia had put in 3,750 hours of flying hours of experience into the job."

"They were experienced, didn't violate any DGCA guidelines, they were well rested, " Mr. Jadhav further stated.

He also announced an interim compensation to the kin of the victims of the Mangalore plane-crash that left 158 persons as dead and eight persons injured on Saturday.

While announcing the interim compensation of rupees 10,00,000 for the deceased (adults), Rs. 500,000 (kids) and Rs 200,000 for the injured, Mr. Jadhav said: "What Prime Minister has announced is over and above this compensation."

He said that 128 bodies have been handed over to the families and 12 bodies have not yet been identified as they were charred beyond recognition.

The CMD said that the AIR India, as a family, felt overwhelmed by the response of all who came forward in the rescue work.

"We were overwhelmed by the response of villagers, young doctors, local administration, local people," said Jadhav while expressing his gratefulness to the local rescuers.

"They not only helped in recovering bodies but also helped take them to hospitals," he said while appreciating the local disaster management group's quick response (ANI)

There was no distress indication from pilot: AAI

Mumbai: Visibility at the Mangalore airport where an Air India flight crashed today was more than required and there was 'no distress indication' from the pilot of the ill-fated plane, officials said. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation will conduct a detailed inquiry into the incident, they said. The visibility was 6 kms, which is 'more than that required', when the ill-fated plane landed in Mangalore, Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman V P Agarwal told reporters in Delhi hours after the mishap. 'There was no distress indication from the pilot of the ill-fated plane,' he said.

Replying to a volley of questions, Agarwal said, 'No constructional defeciencies were noticed' and that authorities had conducted all necessary safety checks at the airport before the runway which has been operational since 2006. In Mumbai, Air India Director (Operations) Anup Srivastava said the plane overshot the runway after it landed at the airport, resulting in the mishap. Eight passengers of the ill-fated plane from Dubai survived the crash. 'There were 160 passengers, including four infants, and six crew on on board plane. Eight persons survived the crash,' he told reporters.

Agarwal said the visibility at the airport was 'very good' and situation deteriorated later. Srivastava said rainfall had started when the mishap took place. The Air India official said the commander of the plane was 53-year-old Z Glusica, a British national of Serbian origin. He had 10,000 hours of flying experience and his licence had been endorsed by the DGCA, making him 'capable' of flying in India. Glusica had been flying in India for last two years, Srivastava said, trying to dispel impression that he was not aware of the Indian conditions. The co-pilot H S Ahluwalia, who hailed from Karnataka,
was relatively new as he had begun flying here in April last year. He had 3,750 hours of flying experience. Glusica and Ahluwalia had last flown to Mangalore on May 17, Srivastava said.

The plane was two-and-a-half-year old and was air worthy, the Air India official said. PTI

Saturday, May 15, 2010

’Monsoon onset over Kerala likely by May 30’

May 14, 2010

New Delhi: Southwest monsoon, critical for the farm-based economy of the country, is expected to reach Kerala on May 30, two days before its normal onset date in the coastal state.

"The south-west monsoon is likely to arrive over Kerala on May 30 according to the forecast of India Meteorological Department (IMD)," Earth Sciences Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters here this evening. The much awaited seasonal rains are expected to bring showers to the Andaman Sea by May 20.

The onset of monsoon over the Andaman Sea sets the stage for the four-month summer rain season that powers the trillion-dollar economy with agriculture as its prime engine of growth. Last month, the IMD had forecast normal monsoon rains for the season beginning June one.

The normal monsoon forecast is expected to bring cheer to over 235 million farmers who had faced drought last year due to failed monsoon. A good monsoon could help sowing of rice, sugarcane, soybean and corn, and lead to a rebound in the agricultural output.

Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences claimed that the IMD has been issuing accurate forecast on the onset of monsoon over Kerala for the past five years using an indigenously developed statistical model. Another favourable parameter for a normal monsoon was the end of the El Nino event for the year. Australian Bureau of Meteorology had announced the conclusion of the El Nino event of 2009-10 saying that all the major indicators were now below El Nino thresholds.

The periodic warming of the equatorial to equatorial east Pacific is known to affect adversely the monsoon rains in India. The unusual warming of the Pacific water was one of the factors believed to have affected the monsoon season last year. Weather scientists now expect the La Nina conditions to develop which are known to be favourable to the Indian monsoon.

La Nina represents the exact reverse of El Nino, when the warming anomaly spreads westwards in the Pacific and has been largely known to favour an Indian monsoon. Historically, about 40 per cent of El Nino events are immediately followed by a La Nina, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

Dhathri chalks out plan for affordable ayurveda

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ayurveda major Dhathri has chalked out a strategy to make ayurveda affordable for the masses and take it to the rural populace.
Company officials said the initiative, titled Dhathri Gramodayam, was targeted at ensuring health and economic empowerment of the rural population across Kerala.

As part of the programme, the company plans to open Dhathri Ayurveda Vaidyasalas at 100 rural destinations.

Dhathri managing director S Sajikumar said the plan was to hold 100 free medical camps by the end of the year, covering all general diseases like diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, psoriasis and gynecological disorders, among others.

He said the objective was to address local health problems at concessional rates, and that patients would be referred to the Dhathri Ayurveda Vaidyasala or Dhathri’s Specialty Medical Centres, based on the diagnosis.

Under the Gramodayam programme, Dhathri will also encourage the cultivation of herbal and medicinal plants in home-based farms and gardens across rural areas, which will open up niche career opportunities in ayurveda for rural youth, officials said.

Sajikumar said the programme was also expected to revive the prospects of ayurveda in a big way.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Clash in Kinaloor, 50 persons injured

Kozhikode: Clashes were reported between natives of Kinaloor panchayat and the policemen when the locals prevented officials from conducting a survey for road development of Kinaloor KSIDC park. The mob pelted stones against the police who resorted to lathicharge and grenade attack to disperse off the crowd.

More than 50 people were injured, including police, mediapersons and locals. The protestors, including women and children, blocked the survey team and poured cow dung on the police. When the Thamarassery DySp Kuberan Namboothir's head was injured in stone pelting, the police used lathicharge.

The mob destroyed vehicles including a police van. The injured have been shifted to different hospitals. More police force which reached the spot cleared the air. The survey work has been resumed but the area still remains tense.

New IT Park to come up in Kozhikode

Kozhikode: Kerala IT Wednesday announced that the first phase of the state's newest IT Park, Cyber Park, here will be commissioned early next year.

Cyber Park is being developed as a hub-and-spoke model in the Malabar region (north Kerala). The hub is being built at 43 acres of land in Kozhikode. The spokes will be set up in Kannur and Kasaragod districts.

The park will provide a special economic zone (SEZ) and non-SEZ space for clients serving the domestic and international markets.

Kerala IT Wednesday got the project approved by the land revenue commissioner and the foundation would be laid this month-end.

'The project once completed is expected to generate around 30,000 direct jobs by 2015. We expect to start the construction work by July 2010,' said Ajay Kumar, principal secretary, Kerala IT.

The park will provide basic infrastructure such as a 110 kV substation, internal roads, rain water harvesting, waste water recycling and eco-friendly waste management.

Kerala IT is a state government initiative offering a single window to a world of opportunities to IT companies, professionals, investors and developers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Joseph group splits; rebels to stay with LDF

Kotayam: The Kerala Congress Joseph group has split and the rebel faction, headed by PC Thomas, will continue in the LDF. The decision was taken in the meeting of the rebel faction here on Friday. The meet also ousted P J Joseph from the chairman post of the party for anti-party activities.

The meet also accepted the resolution appointing P C Thomas as the new chairman of the party. The resolution stated that the party can't accept the move to head into the Mani group as it feels that it is aiming the next elections. Also, P J Joseph had cheated the party.

Apart form PC Thomas, V Surendran Pillai MLA, Scaria Thomas and George Sebastian attended the meeting. Surendran Pillai reiterated that there is no circumstance to think about a change in the front. P C Thomas alleged that for the sake of only four seats Joseph is trying to add the party to another front and the symbol and name of the party will not be given.

Lavlin: SC asks AG to explain Governor's version

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Attorney General to explain the stand of governor who gave the permission to prosecute CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in SNC Lavlin case. The court did not accepted the request of Pinarayi to stay the prosecution. Court made it clear that , if needed Pinarayi can approach the court again for stay. Court said that in the presence of an attorney general there is no other lawyer is needed to explain the stand of governor.

AG cannot appear for governor and CBI at the same time. Another person should be appointed to appear for the CBI. AG was present in the court on Thursday to appear for CBI to explain its stand on the request of Pinarayi to cancel the charge sheet. Meanwhile AG informed SC that after seeking permission from CBI its reply will be filed on appearing for Governor. The case will be considered again on fourth week of July . Pinarayi's lawyer forwarded two requests as to announce the decision of the governor who gave permission for prosecution by revoking the stand of cabinet , as unconstitutional and to cancel the charge sheet filed by CBI. The bench comprising justice R M Lodha and R V Raveendran gave the order.