Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sreedharan bids adieu to Delhi Metro

New Delhi: 'It was a very satisfying experience and I am very happy that Metro treads 190 km,' Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan said Saturday, his last day in office.

Till the last day of his work, 'Metro Man' Sreedharan was busy on an official tour and reached Metro Bhavan in central Delhi in the evening to bid adieu to the organisation and colleagues he has led for 15 years.

He retired from Delhi Metro Saturday passing the baton to his successor Mangu Singh. He met all the heads of departments to bid them adieu.

'Sreedharan was on an official tour to Chennai and came back today (Saturday) and reached the Metro Bhavan around 6 p.m. for a brief official ceremony,' a Metro official told IANS.

He was on the trip for the past one week. He had an eventful 15-year tenure as the Delhi Metro chief.

Sreedharan, then 65, joined the Delhi Metro in 1997. The first eight km stretch of the Metro opened in December 2002. Today, the network is spread over 190 km in Delhi and the national capital region towns of Gurgaon in Haryana and Noida and Vaishali in Uttar Pradesh.

Sreedharan formally handed over the Metro charge tom his successor Mangu Singh, a civil engineer, at a brief ceremony.

Mangu Singh was selected by a three-member panel consisting of union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna, Delhi Chief Secretary P.K. Tripathi and Sreedharan.

Mangu Singh, an Indian Railway Service of Engineers officer of the 1981 batch, also worked with Sreedharan on the Kolkata Metro project. He has been associated with the Delhi Metro since its inception.

Proposed high-speed rail corridor to boost Kerala’s economy: Sreedharan

Delhi Metro Corporation Ltd. (DMCL) Managing Director E. Sreedharan has said that the proposed high-speed rail corridor project linking the entire stretch from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod will give a boost to the State’s economy.

In his speech after accepting the 14th A.K. Nair Memorial Award instituted by the North Malabar Chamber of Commerce (NMCC) and the A.K. Nair Memorial Endowment Committee (AKNMEC) here on Thursday, Mr. Sreedharan said that the high-speed rail corridor project would have a carrying capacity of 15,000 people per hour. If the same number of people had to be carried on a road system, the State would require a motorway with a width of 70 to 80 metres, he said adding that such a road was impossible in a State like Kerala where availability of land was a problem. For the proposed 580 km-long rail corridor project with an estimated cost of Rs. 1 lakh crore (one lakh crore), land acquisition was not going to be a formidable problem, he said adding that the DMCL, which had been engaged by the State government to carry out a feasibility study of the project had commenced the work to prepare a detailed project report.

Terming the high-speed rail system as the safest mode of transportation, Mr. Sreedharan said that the proposed high-speed train could cover the 580 km-stretch in a matter of two hours. As the Japanese were the pioneers of the high-speed rail technology, the State could bring in the Japanese technology, he said adding that it was also possible for the project to obtain up to 85 per cent of project cost as linked loan from Japan. The State’s burden would be to mobilise Rs. 10,000 crore for the project, he pointed out.

Mr. Sreedharan said that the Public Investment Board meeting of the Kochi Metro project would be held soon and then the project would be submitted to the Central government. The DMCL, which has been entrusted to implement the project, was considering a proposal for bringing South Korean meglev (magnetic levitation) technology for the Kochi Metro. He said that he had requested the State government to develop the Kochi metro on this technology which requires no rails and allows soft and smooth riding with no vibration. The technology would allow a reduction in the capital cost by 50 per cent and operational cost by 15 to 20 per cent. Since the proposed Kochi Metro was an elevated metro, this technology would also reduce the requirement of land, he added.

The DMCL had also submitted a proposal to the State government a few years ago for introducing suburban train services for the entire State. At that time the prospect of such a service was not bright as track doubling was not over and electrification was incomplete. Now that that the doubling work was almost over and electrification of railway line was about to be extended, it was the most appropriate time to introduce the mainline electrical multiple unit (MEMU) suburban service in the State, he noted. As MEMU system did not require operation of many trains, it was for the State government to come forward for getting the system introduced as a public-private partnership scheme, he stated.

Referring to the proposed Thalassery-Mysore railway line, Mr. Sreedharan said that he was not very sure if the project would help Karanataka and the Malabar region. He said the detailed project report being prepared now would shed more light on the feasibility of the project.

Explaining his experiences as the architect of the 760 km-long Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro, he said that while the greatest challenge involved in the implementation of the former project was the raising of finances from the market at a time when the market was in a topsy-turvy condition, funds were not the constraints for the latter thanks to the Japanese aid. The Konkan Railway could be completed in an incredibly short period of seven years, while the first two phases of the Delhi Metro could be completed in time and comfortably within the budget, he said adding that the DMCL had now taken up the third phase of the Delhi Metro which was estimated to cost Rs. 40,000 crore.

Delhi Metro was also a financial success as the DMCL was now paying back the loan amount and able to generate sufficient operational profit. He said that the successful implementation of the two projects was the result of the team work of competent technical personnel, he said.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Efforts to find a solution to dam row to continue: Antony

Thrissur: The Centre would spare no effort to find a solution to the Mullaperiyar Dam row between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Defence Minister A K Antony said here Monday.

"The Centre's efforts to find an amicable solution to the vexed issue have not been fruitful so far. But that does not mean the government will lose heart and abandon efforts in that direction," he told reporters here.

Antony said it was painful that a solution acceptable to both states has been elusive and added that all political parties - big and small in the country feel the issue should soon be solved without harming cordial relations between the two states.

Asked whether the Centre would exert pressure on the two states to sit together to discuss the issue, he said the Union government would continue its earnest efforts to solve the issue amicably.

"The matter is before the Supreme Court. Let the court go ahead with its course of action. But other efforts should also be explored to settle the issue," he said.
Antony stressed on the need for the Centre to have the unstinted cooperation of both states to find an amicable solution to the issue.

Antony son set for film debut

Ajit Antony defence minister Antony’s younger son, is set to make his debut as hero in a multilingual thriller that he has also penned.

“The shooting is scheduled to begin in mid-January or early February,” the 22-year-old said.

The high-budget action movie, titled Oberoi, will be directed by Kerala-based filmmaker Aji John.

While it’s rare for an actor to be making his debut in a film he has scripted, Ajit isn’t resting on his achievements.

Far from it. He has been sweating it out, not out of nervousness but in the gym.

The junior Antony is busy working out at the Constitution Club multi-gym under the watchful eyes of two professional trainers.

The club, exclusively for MPs and their families, is a stone’s throw from Parliament.

“I have been working out in the gym for the past four months and have developed muscles and will soon have six-pack abs, too,” Ajit said, adding that he was also on a special diet.

The young man spends two-and-a-half hours every day at the gym and also pampers himself at the adjoining spa.

The 5-foot-8-inch budding hero, who graduated with history from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, was hooked to films — and acting — early in his life.

Despite his father’s initial opposition, Ajit was able to bring Antony around. “Of course, he was a bit shocked when I broke the news to him last year. But he agreed when I told him about my passion for films. It is natural for a person from a political family to carry on the political legacy but I always wanted to pursue acting,” Ajit said.

He now wants to make a name for himself in Bollywood like Riteish Deshmukh, the actor son of central minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag is also trying to make a mark in filmdom.

Ajit’s role model is Shah Rukh Khan. “SRK is my role model and I would love to act in romantic films as a lead hero. I like Salman Khan, too, as he is a perfect entertainer,” he said.

Politics does not excite the former vice-president of the St Stephen’s college union, but Ajit didn’t close that option entirely. “Right now, politics is not on my agenda…. It may be an option in the future because I don’t have any aversion to politics,” he said.

How does he rate his father as a politician?

“I think he is doing an excellent job as a politician,” he said. “He is also very supportive as a father.”

Antony’s wife Elizabeth recently retired from Canara Bank. His elder son, Anil, is a businessman based in America.

Business is also the theme of Oberoi. “I started writing the script in 2007 when I was in first year in college. The script is based on a business family and the struggle of the hero once he joins the business. Last year, I went to John with my script and he loved it. He also agreed when I expressed my desire to play the lead role,” Ajit said.

The film will be shot simultaneously in four languages — Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam — and most of the shooting will be outside India.

“Although I am not a born actor, I am confident of my acting skills,” said Ajit, who didn’t join any acting classes.

“I have got other offers from Bollywood, which I don’t want to disclose now,” he signed off, before hitting the gym again.

Kerala officials stay away from experts’ visit to dam

Idukki: Adding a new dimension to the raging Mullaperiyar reservoir row, Kerala officials Saturday stayed away from the visit of the Supreme Court-appointed empowered committee experts alleging that they had declined to properly hear the state's views on the dam's safety aspects.

The development comes against the backdrop of heightened sparring between leaders of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in recent weeks over building a new dam in place of the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar reservoir.

The Kerala team, comprising the state Mullaperiyar Cell Chairman M K P Nair, senior engineers and officials decided against joining the panel technical members, alleging they did not give due attention to their briefings, mostly concerning the safety of the dam, official sources said.

The two technical members on the panel - CD Thatte and DK Mehta - who began their inspection tour of dams in Idukki district Friday, visited the Mullaperiyar reservoir Saturday.

Official sources said there were also differences over the spot to be chosen for non-destructive sonic tests to be carried out on the dam to ascertain its strength.

The Empowered Committee under the Chairmanship of former Chief Justice of India A S Anand was set up in 2010 with the mandate of examining all aspects of the dispute over the dam between the two states.

Kerala wants a new dam to be built saying the existing structure was extremely weak and would put the lives of over three million people living downstream in danger in the event of a collapse.

However,Tamil Nadu has rejected this contention holding that the dam was as safe as a new one.

The apex court constituted the panel, which has one member each representing Kerala and Tamil Nadu, while considering Tamil Nadu's plea against the Dam Safety Authority bill passed by the Kerala Assembly, which empowered the state agency to decommission any dam in the state.

The Mullaperiyar dam is located in Kerala's Idukki district but managed under a 999-yearlease by Tamil Nadu whose five districts are fed by its waters for irrigation.

M K P Nair, a former chief engineer who has been heading the state Mullaperiyar cell for quite some time, told reporters later that a technical member did not even allow Kerala Chief Secretary (Irrigation) P Lathika to explain the state's views regarding the dam.

"This we felt quite badly," he said. It was quite natural on the part of two sides to present their views when the dispute involves two states, he added.

Karunanidhi seeks PM’s intervention on dam row

Chennai: DMK chief M Karunanidhi Monday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to end attacks on Tamils in Kerala in the wake of the Mullaperiyar Dam row and to ensure the neighbouring state abides by the 2006 Supreme Court order to raise storage level from 136 feet to 142 feet.

Karunanidhi submitted to Singh, who is on a two-day visit to the state, a memorandum, accusing Kerala of having created a situation where "people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been instigated to fight against each other like people of two different countries."

Alleging that the continued campaign by Kerala had resulted in many 'undesirable incidents' creating animosity between the people of the two states, the memorandum said it had forced Tamils living in Kerala to leave that state. The memorandum also referred to "sentimental outburst" of the affected people of southern districts of Tamil Nadu, whose irrigation needs are met by the Mullaperiyar Dam.

"This situation, unless contained and changed immediately, will lead to permanent strain and cleavage between the people of the two states," the memorandum by DMK, a key UPA ally said. It also said the dam issue was before the Supreme Court and any effort by Kerala government to reduce the water level and attempt to construct a new dam "has to be viewed as an attempt to subvert the judicial process and deny justice to the people of Tamil Nadu."

The memorandum said that even after works of strengthening the dam by Tamil Nadu government, Kerala continued to maintain the water level at 136 feet and seeking to reduce it to 120 feet, instead of abiding by the Supreme Court order. "If government of Kerala is persistent on its stand, at least five southern districts of Tamil Nadu will become deserts without water for irrigation," it said.
Waste issue: Harthal begins in Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram: The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by BJP in the state capital against the crisis in garbage movement evoked partial response. The protest was organised against the 'failure' of the city corporation and the state government to resolve the crisis concerning garbage movement, which has resulted in houselhold waste piling up in the city in the last five days. While shops and restaurants remained closed,the hartal did not seriously hamper bus and other public transport services. BJP workers took out a march accusing the government and the corporation of sitting idle while the entire city was

Emergency services like healthcare, milk supply and wedding parties had been exempted from the shut-down protest.
Garbage collection and disposal has come to a halt in the city following the stand-off between the city corporation and Vilapplil village panchyat on the outskirts, where the waste processing plant is located. People in village wanted the plant to be re-located,saying its presence caused serious health problems in the area. The village civic authorities had last week locked up the gates of the plant to stop the waste from being dumped there. Though Chief Minister Oommen Chandy held talks with the panchayat and corporation authorities last week, no solution could be found to the issue. PTI

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mullaperiyar row: MDMK blocks routes to Kerala

All the 13 routes from Tamil Nadu to Kerala remained sealed for hours on Wednesday disrupting the movement of goods and people after MDMK activists conducted an ‘economic blockade’ of Kerala protesting its stand on the Mullaperiyar dam issue.

The MDMK leader, Mr Vaiko, and the Tamil Nationalist Movement leader, P.Nedumaran, who led thousands of protestors to lay siege to the Kerala border at Kumily were arrested at Seelayampatti near Theni.

They were arrested while proceeding towards Uthamapalayam where prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPc were clamped.

MDMK had planned a meeting at Lower Camp earlier but as police denied permission, the party decided to shift the venue to Cumbum.

However, when Mr Vaiko, who commenced his journey from Theni in an open vehicle, was intercepted at Seelayampatti, hundreds of persons blocked the road and tried to prevent the police from arresting him. He finally persuaded them to disperse.

The MDMK leader accused the Congress-led Central government of betraying the interests of Tamil Nadu and its people and also criticised Kerala for refusing to heed the Supreme Court order to raise the water level in the dam to 142 feet.

More than 10,000 people gathered near Gudalur to protest Kerala’s stand on the dam issue. Traffic was completely disrupted in four border check posts in Idukki district following the protest.

Five check posts were closed down along the Palakkad border following protests from fringe outfits. On the national highway, K G Chavadi, Nadapunni, Meenakshipuram, Valanthai witnessed protests in which hundreds of people took part.

MDMK workers also organised protest at Aryankavu check post. Nanjil Sampath inaugurated the dharna.

Police blocked vehicles from Kerala at Aryankavu and those coming from Tamil Nadu were stopped at Tenkasi. The police swung into action and removed the protestors from the area by noon.

At Kalyikavila near Thiruvananthapuram, MDMK workers began the protest at 11 am and blocked the vehicles coming from Kerala. A large police posse led by the Kanyakumari SP, Ms Lakshmi and the Thiruvananthapuram rural SP, A. Akbar ensured there was no violence in the area.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Namukku Prarthikkam - 7.1-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea – An earthquake measuring 7.1 magnitude hit Papua New Guinea on Wednesday afternoon, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The tremor struck at a depth of 75 miles, about 137 miles north-northwest of the capital Port Moresby at 3:05 p.m. local time.

Witnesses in Port Moresby told AFP that people came running out of buildings, power lines swayed and parked cars rocked.

"It was pretty strong. Everybody felt it. I was sitting in my car when it hit and it was rocking, rocking, rocking," an AFP photographer said.

According to Geoscience Australia, the tremor was not expected to create a tsunami.

"It's not tsunamigenic," seismologist Clive Collins said. "That's the assessment on the basis that it's about 2 miles inshore and also it's about 74 miles deep and that's too deep really to cause any tsunami problems."

But Collins said the quake could cause other problems for the nearest largest town, Wau, about 12 miles from the epicenter, and Lae, 55 miles away.

"It's in a mountainous area so there may be issues of landslides and things like that. That's what's the main problem in that particular part of Papua New Guinea," Collins said.

Papua New Guinea is regularly hit by earthquakes due to its proximity to the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire," a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Delhi Metro chief Sreedharan not to head Kochi Metro

Delhi Metro chief E A Sreedharan, who demits office on 31 December, is not to head the proposed Kochi Metro Rail project, contrary to speculation in Kerala, his home state that he had been chosen for the job.

The Congress government in Kerala had been extremely keen on using the services of the 'Metro Man' who revolutionised the way Delhi travelled, for building a similar advanced transport system in Kochi.

Sreedharan replied in the negative when asked whether he would be heading the Kochi Metro, approval for which would be given by the union cabinet soon.

He said Kochi Metro would be handled by the Delhi Metro and he would be involved if he was at Delhi Metro but he would not be involved if he was not at Delhi Metro.

The 79-year old 'Metro Man's comments put to rest, all speculation about his heading the project, which envisages construction of a 20-km Metro network.

Speculation has been rife over the past few months that Sreedharan would head the Kochi Metro after he stepped down as the managing director of Delhi Metro on 31 December, 2011.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kerala will go ahead with new dam.:K.M.Mani

Kozhikode: The Kerala government Monday announced it will go ahead with the construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to "intervene strongly" in the dispute and make Tamil Nadu initiate "practical steps" on the issue. "The state government will not go back from its decision to construct a new dam at an estimated expense of Rs 600 crore," Finance Minister K.M. Mani told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

"Kerala has the right to construct a new dam in Kerala's land funded by the state for the safety of the people of the state," he said, adding about 45 lakh people living in five districts of Kerala are facing serious threat to their lives. It was due to the "non-cooperative attitude" of the Tamil Nadu government that the Mullaperiyar issue was being dragged on without arriving at a solution, he charged. Funds have been earmarked in this year's budget for the construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar, he said.

Urging Tamil Nadu to adopt a "compassionate approach" to the issue, Mani said Kerala was never against giving water to the neighbouring state. "A new dam is the only solution as we cannot play with the lives of over 45 lakh people living in the downstream area," he said.

Kerala has been pressing for immediate central intervention to persuade Tamil Nadu to agree to the proposal of a new dam at Mullaperiyar holding that the present 116-year-old structure posed a threat to nearly three million people, mainly in Idukki, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts.

However, holding a contradictory view, Tamil Nadu has opposed construction of a new dam, asserting that the present reservoir "is as safe and good as new" and accused Kerala of whipping up fear psychosis.

Online booking in Sabarimala a hit

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Police initiative - - to promote online booking for darshan at Sabarimala became a huge hit. The software was developed by constables without costing a penny. The number of devotees who have used the system crossed 3.5 lakh within 10 days of its launch. It was the idea of south zone ADGP P Chandrasekharan who had mooted this idea to control the rush by giving devotees the facility to book for darshan in advance.

The main advantage of online booking is that the devotees won't have to stand in queue anywhere other than the Sannidhanam, he said. The devotees, after covering Neelimala and Appachimedu, had to wait in long queues for hours in Sabaripeetom. Two years before, some age-old people who were unable to stand in long queues complained about it, he said.

Through online booking, devotees can find less crowded hours and opt for darshan. The aim is to provide darshan time for 1000 devotees and next year the number would be doubled to 2000.

As per the direction of the ADGP, the computer cell of State Crime Records Bureaus, arranged the programme Advance Queue Placement Facility. Mukesh MR constable is the developer of the software. Though not sophisticated, outside agencies charge a hefty amount to develop this but the group created the software without spending a rupee. It was on November 16 that the facility came into effect. Those who come with the printout of the booking can enter the Sannidanam through Chandranandan road without going through the flyover at Marakootam. If they show copies of ID card, they would be directly led to the Pathinettam Padi

Earthquake within 15 km of dam should be viewed seriously: CESS

Upputhara: Dr John Mathai, senior scientist from the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS), said a slight tremor within 15 kms of the dam should be viewed seriously. Also whether the dam can sustain this should be taken into account. The recent tremors occurred within 34 km surrounding the dam. He told mediapersons that the recent tremors centering Kannampadi, Venjoormoodu, Vellakkanam, Uluppooni are creating apprehensions.

John Mathai said the area is a category III quake-prone zone, which means that it could experience tremors with an intensity of up to 6 on the Richter Scale. He added that the need of the hour is to build quakeproof buildings as he noticed that the houses, which were not built to resist quakes, had be

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another tremor rocks Mullaperiyar dam area

Idukki: Just hours after Kerala Water Resources Minister P J Joseph warned that another earthquake could lead to the collapse of the dilapidated Mullaperiyar Dam, a low intensity tremor rocked the dam area and other places in this district early this morning, creating panic among 30 lakh people living downstream.

However, no damage has been reported from anywhere so far, according to sources here.

The tremor occurred between 0314 and 0320 hrs. The tremors were felt at Vandiperiyar, Upputhara, Velliyamattom, Valakode, Chappath and Moolamattom in Idukki district, and other places in Kottayam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam districts.

Many people were awakened from sleep early in the morning as they felt the shock and heard rumbling noises, the sources added.

This was the 21st tremor in the dam area for the last four months.

Ferry service between Kochi-Male from Jan or Feb next year

Kochi: The proposed cargo-cum-passenger ferry service between Kochi and Male as announced by Prime Minister Manmohan singh at the SAARC summit on November 11 would commence operations in January or February 2012.

A team of officers from Maldives Ports Limited, led by MPL Deputy CEO Hussain Naeem held discussions with the Cochin Port Trust authorities yesterday and today decided to structure the ferry serivce as a cargo-cum-passenger service, a CPT release said here today.

According to the decision, besides carrying 300 passengers, the vessel, to be operated weekly, would also carry about 15 to 20 containers and about 500 tonners of break bulk cargo, it said, adding the EOI would be floated by SCI soon after receiving confirmation from the Maldivian side that they were ready for the ferry service.

Stating that the ferry would be berthed at the BTP Jetty in the Cochin Port and would use the Cruise Terminal facility that was being developed at a cost of Rs seven crore, it said the work on the cruise terminal was expected to be completed by March 2012.

The Maldivian team expressed a desire to get the ferry to touch Kulhuduffushi Port also. However, since the port expansion work was yet to be completed, it was decided to start the ferry as a Cochin-Male-Cochin service and incorporate an option to extend it to Kulhuduffushi Port when the work was completed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kerala cabinet clears sops for Non Residents

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala cabinet Wednesday unveiled sops for the diaspora by clearing a special housing scheme for them and also lowered the minimum amount for equity in the proposed Kannur airport to allow mid-income diaspora to invest in it.

Unveiling the new housing policy, Finance and Housing Minister K.M. Mani said it is a wrong notion that all the Kerala diaspora are rich.

'There are so many diaspora whose dream of owning a house is yet to materialise and for that we have launched a trial scheme in Thrissur exclusively for the diaspora. It has been proved a success with many diaspora joining it. This scheme will now be replicated in other districts for the benefit of the not-rich diaspora,' said Mani.

The nodal agency for implementing the housing policy is the Kerala State Housing Board (KSBH) which extends subsidies to all the allotees who buy flats and houses build by the KSHB.

'The diaspora will now get the benefit of subsidy. When it comes to allotment, the average diaspora would get the preference in exclusive schemes which will now be floated,' said Mani.

A recent study by the Centre for Development Studies here found that 2.1 million Keralites work abroad with close to 85 percent in the Middle East, and of these close to 70 percent are not in the rich category.

After the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that following repeated demands from several quarters, the government has decided to lower the minimum amount for acquiring equity in the proposed Kannur international airport from Rs.200,100 to Rs.50,000. 'This was a long standing demand that the minimum amount be reduced so as to help many who want to invest in the Kannur airport. This was first cleared at the board of the airport and today the cabinet accepted the demand,' said Chandy.

Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL) has already been registered and the Rs.1,200 crore airport would be built under a public-private initiative in an area of 2,000 acres near here at Mattanur in Kannur district. It is expected to open in 2013.

There was a huge hue and cry from the diaspora when the previous Left government decided to fix the minimum amount at Rs.200,100 and when the Chandy government took over in May this year, they announced that they would ensure that even the ordinary diaspora can become an investor in Kannur airport.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sabarimala: Pilgrims discover Q-coupon booking appreciable

Sabarimala: Every year, Krishna Kumar used to spend a minimum of five hours in the queue to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple here. But this year, it just took him 15 minutes -- thanks to a new Q-coupon booking facility.

All he had to do was log onto, upload his picture and book the time of darshan.

A brainchild of Director General of Police Jacob Punnoose, the facility has come as a relief to thousands of pilgrims this season.

"For some reason we were not able to launch this facility during last few years. But this time, we decided to give it a try and it has been a huge success," Punnoose told IANS.

"On an average, we can provide advance booking to 1,000 pilgrims in an hour. The pilgrim can select his own time of darshan if time slots are available.

"At peak hours, no one will have to wait for more than an hour. They will be made to stand in a special queue located close to the 18 steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum," said Punnoose.

Though the temple is open throughout the year, the peak pilgrimage season begins on the first day of the Malayalam month in November (Nov 17 this time) and closes on the first day of the Malayalam month in January.

"We launched the website a week back. In the first week, we received just 3,000 bookings but the number rose to 40,000 and the number of hits on our site has crossed two lakh," said Punnoose.

Authorities are now planning to extend the facility to the special days in the two-month-long pilgrimage.

"We have not yet extended this facility for special days as the crowds are huge. Those who have made an advance booking might not be able to reach the special queue in time. We are working out ways to see what best can be done," added Punnoose.

As many as 100 people were killed in a stampede in January this year when pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the pilgrimage, from a hillock some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple.

Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometers uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district.

It is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrim centres in India.

The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.

The Sabarimala authorities have said the collection in the first two days crossed Rs.2.17 crore, Rs.37 lakh more than last year's figures.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Online advance queue booking for Sabarimala

The Kerala Police has launched an innovative e-queue system for Sabarimala darshan during the 2011-12 pilgrimage season. Using the online advance queue placement coupon, pilgrims can get preference in the queue for darshan, which the authorities believe will help avoid overcrowding and congestion. The system which was on a trial run for the last two weeks will be completely operational from November 16. As of now, this facility is limited to devotees who are coming to Sabarimala with Irumudikettu. However, the Q-Coupon does not assure a darshan at Sabarimala.

A pilgrim who registers on the Kerala Police @ Sabarimala website ( need not wait for hours for the darshan as the online advance queue placement coupon entitles the devotee to join the queue at ‘Nadapanthal’. After verifying the credentials, devotees will be put through the queue for darshan eventually along with those who are waiting in the queue. To avoid inconvenience, they will also be given a time when they can join a batch of pilgrims. This is a free service offered by Kerala Police for the purpose of crowd management at Sabarimala. There is no payment involved in this advance booking system.

Pilgrims will have to fill out the form and upload a scanned passport size photograph (jpg / jpeg format of less than 30 KB size). The print out generated after registration (Q-Coupon) and the Identity Card used for registration are to be produced for verification by Police officials while coming for Darshan.

It was in December 2010 that the Kerala Police launched the Kerala Police @ Sabarimala website ( to give information to pilgrims on Sabarimala and also to help the devotees in getting Police assistance. The multi-lingual website gives information related to the annual pilgrimage in English, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. The website has details like number of devotees waiting for darshan, movement of devotees through the hill route and other necessary arrangements regarding darshan. The website is being maintained by the Police Computer Centre at the State Crime Records Bureau of Kerala Police.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

M V Jayarajan jailed for contempt of court

Kochi: The Kerala High Court today sentenced CPI(M) leader M V Jayarajan to six months imprisonment on charge of committing contempt of court by making derogatory remarks against judges and the judiciary.

A division bench comprising justices V Ram Kumar and P Q Barkat Ali passed the order after launching suo motu contempt
proceedings against Jayarajan, a former MLA. Jayarajan, who was present in court, made an application to suspend the sentence, which was turned down by the court finding him guilty of criminal contempt.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2000 on Jayarajan, who had represented Kannur constituency.

The CPI-M leader had earlier told the court that he had only criticised the judgement of the high court as it
'violated' the right to conduct meetings on roadsides enjoyed by the public for centuries. There is no law preventing such
meetings, Jayarajan had submitted, claiming that there was widespread protest against the verdict.

The court had also recorded the statement of some media personnel also in the case.

Jayarajan had made some remarks against judges and the judiciary soon after the verdict at a public meeting at
Kannur on June 26 last year.

The court had on June 10 chargesheeted him in the case after finding that the terminologies used by Jayarajan to
describe judges were intended to 'humiliate, scandalise and lower the authority' of the court in the eyes of public and
also to interfere with the administration of justice.

In August this year, the court framed fresh charges against him.

The bench said in case of default in payment of fine, Jayarajan would have to undergo an additional month of imprisonment.

Though he was awarded rigorous imprisonment first, it was later changed to simple imprisonment by the court.

This is the first time that the court has awarded a politician the maximum punishment of six months imprisonment
in a contempt case.

Some CPI-M workers, who had gathered near the court, shouted slogans hailing Jayarajan.

With a huge gathering of media personnel waiting at the court's front entrance, police escorted the CPIM leader
through the back gate.

Jayarajan, who will be lodged in the Poojapura central Jail in Thiruvananthapuram, waved to supporters as the police
vehicle carrying him sped away. PTI

CPM leader M V Jayarajan Send to Jail by H C

Kochi: Taking a strong view of offensive remarks made against judges and the judiciary by CPM leader M V Jayarajan, the Kerala High Court today sentenced him to six months imprisonment for contempt of court.

The division bench held that by making the offending speech at Kannur last year, Jayarajan was ridiculing in public performance of two high court judges and making "scurrilous, offensive, vicious and malicious onslaught on the higher judiciary that too beyond controllable limits."

The bench comprising justices V Ram Kumar and P Q Barkat Ali held Jayarajan, a former MLA from Kannur, guilty under Section 12 of the Contempt of Court Act and noted during the trial, he had gone to the press justifying his act, including using the word 'shumban' (a derogatory term which in local parlance means a useless person) against the judges.

Jayarajan's plea to suspend the sentence to enable him to file appeal in the Supreme Court was turned down by the court.

Immediately after the order was passed, police personnel arrived at the court and took him to Thiruvananthapuram Central Jail.

CPI(M) and DYFI activists, present near the court, raised slogans hailing Jayarajan.

Jayarajan has been ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 2000 and in case of default, he will have to undergo an extra month's imprisonment.

CPM has a history of clashing with judiciary in Kerala

Conflicts between Left leaders and judiciary in Kerala are nothing new. Right from the first Communist chief minister E M S Namboodiripad, there have been instances of Left leaders making scathing remarks against judiciary and earning the wrath of judiciary.

On Tuesday Kerala high court sentenced CPI (M) secretariat member M V Jayarajan to six months of rigorous imprisonment for contempt of court, leading to a state-wide debate on the tussle between judiciary and people's representatives in the state. The case was initiated against Jayarajan for calling judges "sumban" in Malayalam which the court found derogatory.

The closest translation of 'sumban' into English is ''fool or idiot."

Earlier in 2007, the then CPI(M) minister Paloli Muhammed Kutty was also found guilty of contempt of court by the Kerala high court. Kutty was held guilty for saying "a time has come when courts deliver judgments according to the thickness of currency bundles."

Former chief minister Namboodiripad was pulled up by the court in 1970 for stating at a press conference held on November 9, 1967 that "Judges are guided and dominated by class hatred, class interests and class prejudices and where the evidence is balanced between a well-dressed pot-bellied rich man and a poor ill-dressed and illiterate person, the judge instinctively favours the former."

Though the Kerala high court held Namboodiripad guilty for making the remarks and imposed a fine of Rs 1000 or simple imprisonment for one month, the supreme court upheld the appeal filed by Namboodiripad against the high court verdict and reduced the sentence to Rs 50 fine.

Paloli Muhammed Kutty also escaped imprisonment after he approached the supreme court against the high court verdict, which had refused to accept his unconditional apology. The apex court allowed him to be exempted from the jail term after accepting his unconditional apology.

The Kerala high court on Tuesday sentenced CPI (M) state secretariat member M V Jayarajan to six months of rigorous imprisonment for contempt of court.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

KC(J) all set to demand berth for Jacobs son

With the wafer-thin majority of the UDF Government being narrowed down further to just one, serious thinking has dawned on all the top leaders in the front on how to plug the loose ends and hold ground. The strength of the UDF in the 140-member Assembly has come down to 71 with the demise of T.M. Jacob.

As for the Kerala Congress (Jacob), a crucial meet is slated for Tuesday after the funeral of T M Jacob. A formal demand will be made during the meeting to induct Anoop Jacob, the departed leader’s son and state president of Youth Front, as a minister.

The Kerala Congress (Jacob) has also resolved to launch Anoop as the party’s choice and UDF candidate in the Assembly bypoll from Piravom, which has to be held in six months.

The assessment is that the suave Anoop would be able to cash in on the sympathy wave and retain the seat held by his father for long, though the fact remains that he had scraped through in the 2011 polls with a majority of just 157 votes .

The prospect of the UDF Government positioned on a rickety wicket are sending jitters to many, especially with another senior legislator from its fold confined to a hospital bed for long time now.

“To move ahead with the support of the likes of Government Chief Whip P C George, who are perennial trouble-makers, is unthinkable,” a senior KPCC leader told Express.

The only breather for the UDF Government is that the Opposition LDF is not keen to topple the dispensation at the moment, despite rumours based on the recent statements of Opposition Deputy Leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan that a few UDF MLAs are waiting to cross over.

The LDF may not pursue a more vigorous political line in the Piravom Assembly bypoll either, since the choice is more or less stamped for M J Jacob, who lost the 2011 polls to T M Jacob, after routing the latter in the 2006 polls.

The lone convict in Jayakrishnan Master murder case also walked out into freedom before jail term

KANNUR: The lone convict in Jayakrishnan Master murder case Acharaparambath Pradeepan too walked out from the prison, Thanks to C.P.M led state government’s decision to release the prisoners who have completed 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. On 1st December 1999 at around 10.35am, the class teacher of Mokeri East U.P. School in Koothuparambu near Panur in Kannur district and vice- president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha Kerala State K.T. Jayakrishnan was conducting class for his 6th standard students. Suddenly, his bodyguard (provided by the state government to protect his life due to threats from communist criminals) disappeared and seven CPM activists entered the class room, shouted slogans and warned the students not to move, blocked the class room's entrance, took sword-sticks and razors in their hands, came near Jayakrishnan Master and stabbed him several times. Jayakrishnan Master fell on the floor, but the heartless communist criminals did not stop and continued to stab him. After more than 48 ante-mortem injuries all over the body, Jayakrishnan Master breathed his last within five minutes.

After confirming his death, a CPM man wrote a warning to the witnesses -- children and other teachers -- on the blackboard that if anyone gave evidence to the police or the court, they would be killed. They left the place in procession, walking along the public road brandishing the blood-stained weapons as if they were celebrating a victory. The most horrible murder was committed in front of students less than 11 years old. The young children were shocked as their most respected class teacher was brutally murdered in front of them. The incident created psychological problems for many children who had to undergo counseling.

Yes, this is exactly what happened in broad daylight in a school classroom seven years ago on 1st December 1999. The CPM once again proved they are ''professionals'' in murdering any person at any time at any place. The only ''sin'' committed by the Jayakrishnan Master was that he believed in an ideology which the CPM could not tolerate.

CPM hitman Acharaparambath Pradeepan is the lone convict undergoing life-imprisonment in the Jayakrishnan murder case who , was released early Saturday morning from the Kannur Central Prison. Pradeepan was one among the five, who were sentenced to death by the court in the murder case As the five convicts whose death sentences were confirmed by the High Court of Kerala lived in the shadow of the gallows at the Kannur Central Prison, the CPM launched an unprecedented legal battle mobilising more than Rs 1 crore and hiring the best legal brains in the country.

The CPM won the battle but sustained a minor injury as the Supreme Court acquitted four of the accused in the case while commuting the death sentence of Pradeepan to life in prison on the basis of an appeal filed with the support of the party. And that was how the hardcore CPM activist Pradeepan, happened to remain in jail.

An attempt had been made earlier by the government to release Pradeepan even before he completed 10 years of imprisonment. But this was objected to by the mother of K T Jayakrishnan.

News Archive 21/02/2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Minister T M Jacob passes away

Ernakulam: Kerala Food and Civil Supplies Minister T M Jacob (63) died in Kochi on Sunday. He was undergoing treatment in a private hospital here. His condition turned critical by Sunday evening and the end came at 10.30 p.m. Jacob is hailed as one of the best parliamentarians Kerala has ever produced.

He was representing Piravom constituency. He won the 2011 election with a slender margin of 157 votes, was the lone representative of his party Kerala Congress (Jacob) in the Assembly. Born on September 16, 1950, as the son of T.S. Mathew and Annamma, Jacob entered politics during his student days. In 1971, he was elected the general secretary of Kerala Students Congress. He was the president of KSC from 1972 to 75. He was first elected to the Assembly from Piravom in 1977 and had remained a member till 2006, representing Piravom and Kothamangalam. He suffered a defeat from CPM's M.J. Jacob in the 2006 election but came back to the Assembly by defeating the same candidate in this year's poll.

Jacob, who had served the state as a minister in four governments, was rated as one of the best ministers. His tenure as education minister during the K. Karunakaran government, between 1982 and 87 was eventful. During this term, he introduced the concept of Pre-degree board with an aim to delink 11th and 12th standard from colleges. Steps such as privatization of technical education were also initiated by Jacob during this period. He had also served in the ministries led by K. Karunakaran and A.K. Antony between 1991 and 1996 and in the A.K. Antony ministries of 2001. Apart from education, he had handled Water Resources and Food and Civil Supplies portfolios.

Jacob made a political gamble in 2005 by dissolving his party and merging with the Democratic Indira Congress floated by K. Karunakaran. Later, he quit the DIC and gave a rebirth to Kerala Congress (Jacob). Jacob was the mastermind of Oommen Chandy government's flagship project for distributing rice at Re 1/kg for BPL families.

He is survived by wife Annie Mathew, son Anoop and daughter Ambili.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

“The royal family must be complimented and praised”, L.K.Advani

The royal family had shown great responsibility, honesty and uprightness in looking after such a huge wealth, estimated to be worth Rs one lakh crore, he said.

Mr. Advani, in Kerala as part of his yatra, said it was all the more significant that the royal family preserved the treasures at a time when the country was concerned with the issue of corruption.

BJP leader L K Advani on Saturday said tradition should be maintained with regard to the huge treasures found in the vaults of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple here and praised the Travancore Royal family for keeping such an enormous wealth intact for centuries.

On suggestion from certain quarters that part of the wealth should be utilised for public welfare, Mr. Advani said, “Tradition of the state and the temple should be maintained in the matter.”

An inventory by a Supreme Court appointed panel a few months ago had found huge treasures in the vaults of the temple, managed by a trust under control of the Travancore royal family, erstwhile rulers of south Kerala.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Achuthanadan at the receiving end

Achuthanandan's son faces suspension
Thiruvananthapuram : Former Kerala chief minister and Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan's son V.A. Arun Kumar is likely to be suspended from a state-run institute due to alleged irregularities in his promotion, sources said Wednesday.

Officials in Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's office said an announcement is expected Thursday.

Speaking to reporters at Kollam Wednesday night, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) veteran Achuthanandan said his son will take care of whatever is in store for him.

Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb last week told the assembly that very strong action would be taken against Kumar.

He was replying to Congress legislator P.C. Vishnunadh, who pointed out that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the state Finance Inspection wing has found serious violations in the promotion given to Kumar in the Institute of Human Resource Development.

The vigilance department is already probing a few cases against Kumar, which include allegedly taking a bribe of Rs.7 lakh from the sandalwood mafia in 2004 and his role in scuttling a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the lottery scam.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Achuthanandan meeting ’dubious’ character raises eyebrows

Thiruvananthapuram: Former Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan's meeting in the wee hours of Sunday with a man being probed by three government agencies has begun to raise eyebrows.

The veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist leader, currently leader of opposition in the state assembly, is reported to have met a man called Nandakumar at a government guest house in Aluva, about 250 kms from the capital.

Youth Congress state president P.C. Vishnunadh told reporters here that NandaKumar's credentials was first questioned by eminent advocate Ram Kumar, who alleged that he managed Achuthanandan's cases and was known to influence judges.

"Nandakumar is currently being probed by the vigilance department, police and the income tax department," he said. "He is a known middleman for deals of multinational companies and has met Achuthanandan and was close to him when he was the chief minister."

The first to react was Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty, whose running feud with the CPI-M veteran is quite well-known. He said at Malappuram that the early morning meeting was really surprising.

"All who heard about this rendezvous are surprised because the meeting took place as early as 6 a.m.," he said. "People wish to know what transpired between the two because Nandakumar's credentials have already come under a cloud."

Vishnunadh endorsed the view. "It is quite surprising that Achuthanandan, who claims to hold the high moral ground, moves with such dubious persons."

Meanwhile, Nandakumar told the media that his meeting with Achuthanandan was purely personal. "All the allegations that are being aired are baseless," he said.

He agreed that various agencies are probing him and he was cooperating with them in all respects. "I have nothing to hide and I am not the person who is handling the various cases of Achuthanandan," he said.

"I agree that when Achuthanandan was the chief minister I met him because I was representing a company with business interests in the state," Nandkumar said. "What is wrong in that?"

He also denied of links with Achuthanandan's son, V.A. Arunkumar, currently being probed by the vigilance department on numerous counts, including the manner in which he got the post of a director in a state-run institution when his father was the chief minister.

Case against Channel MD over telephonic talk

Thiruvananthapuaram : A case was registered against Reporter Channel MD Nikesh Kumar and reporter of the channel Pradeep C Neduman, here today.

The case was in connection with telephonic conversations by jailed former Minister R Balakrishna Pillai, who is undergoing one-year imprisonment in the Idamalayar Graft Case, sources said.

Mr Pillai, currently admitted to a hospital here, was involved in conversations with the reporter over mobile phone, violating the jail norms.

The case was following a direction by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court here.

It was alleged the reporter prompted Mr Pillai to talk through the phone on September 29, violating the rules.

The conversations were in connection with the attack on a school teacher at Valakom. The school is under the management of Mr Pillai.

Though Mr Pillai had spoken to the reporter on condition that he would not be quoted, the channel later aired the telephonic talk.

Later, the jail authorities extended his jail term to another four days as a punishment for violation of the rules.

More trouble for Achuthanandan's son

Thiruvananthapuram : Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb Friday told the Kerala assembly that very strong action would be taken against V.A. Arun Kumar, the son of veteran CPI-M leader V.S. Achuthanandan in the wake of alleged violations in the promotion given to him in a state-run institution.

He was replying to Congress legislator P.C. Vishnunadh, who pointed out that the CAG and the state Finance Inspection wing has found serious violations in the promotion given to Kumar in the Institute of Human Resource Development.

'Yes, it has come to light that serious violations have taken place in his promotion and strict action would be taken against this; the chief minister will do the needful,' said Rabb.

A nine-member committee of legislators appointed by the Kerala assembly speaker, is also probing whether rules were flouted to appoint Kumar as director of a state-run IT institute early this year when Achuthanandan was the chief minister.

Later Vishnunadh told reporters in the media assembly press room that with even the CAG pointing out the violation in the promotion given to him, Kumar should now be suspended and a full fledged probe be launched.

The vigilance department is already probing a few cases against Kumar, which include 11 allegations, including his taking a bribe of Rs.7 lakh bribe from the sandalwood mafia in 2004, his role in scuttling a CBI probe in the lottery scam besides the allegations of corrupt deals that had arisen when he was managing director of a state run organisation during the E.K.Nayanar government time (1996-2001).

Audience cheer for Santhosh Says Times of India

Santhosh Sometimes, when you are offered something terribly bad, you can't help but go right back and see how bad it really is. Debutant director Santhosh Pandit, already known to be one of the worst actor and singer here, released his film Krishnanum Radhayum which has been reviewed to be quite bad, opened to packed halls amidst loud cheering and applause.

Youngsters, mostly, thronged the screens, while many others returned home as they could not get their hands on a ticket. The audience cheered on when the actor-director Santhosh made his entry on the screen. People also sang and danced along with many of the song sequences that they were already familiar, thanks to the Internet.

Needless to say, no other film has evoked such a response from the crowd in the recent past. Even though the film is said to be ridiculous, youngsters insist they will watch the film again, ''just to have some fun with friends.'' The film features Santhosh, the actor, director, script-writer, editor, music director, lyric writer, editor and playback singer, alongside five heroines!

Santhosh Pandit, a self-styled music composer and actor, rose to fame, or rather notoriety, with the music album he released online - Krishnanum Radhayum, which featured a song that he'd composed. In the video, he was also seen dancing clumsily with a very young girl. The album received nearly three lakh hits and hundreds of comments, and Pandit claims he is now getting paid for each click by a private company which has bought the rights for the video. As for his film, it is scheduled for release in Tamil and Hindi as well.


Santhosh Pandit’s success stuns critics / Deccan Chronicle

October 23, 2011 DC Kochi .aaa.Shareemailprint..Bewildering film industry pundits, Santhosh Pandit’s movie, Krishnanum Radhayum, has proved to be a huge hit with thousands thronging theatres and laughing their hearts out. Santhosh’s video songs, termed atrocious by mainstream critics, had earlier triggered lakhs of hits in the Internet. But the unexpected success of his equally ‘atrocious’ movie, — Krishnanum Radhayum — in which he has handled all departments except cinematography, has evoked mixed response among veteran filmmakers of the industry.

Hitmaker Lal Jose dismisses the movie’s success as evidence of Malayali’s taste for sarcastic pleasure. “In fact I had predicted the success of this movie much earlier,” he said. “People were curious to know what this unusual guy is going to do. But don’t take it to another level.” Aashiq Abu, another popular director, considers Santhosh not even a subject fit for discussion. “It is unworthy promotion to a man of his kind,” he said.

At the same time, Rajeev Pillai, leading model and actor, said, Krishnanum Radhayum is a worth watching just for the fun of it. But Santhosh takes it all in his stride. Mr. Pillai terms the criticism of industry bigwigs as just sheer jealousy evoked by his success. “I am sure none of these filmmakers who are condemning me have watched my film,” Mr. Pillai remarked.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rs 20 Lacs for kin of Modi bodyguards who died in mishap

GANDHINAGAR: Chief minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that the heirs of his security personnel, who died in a road accident on October 16 while going to Dwarka to attend his Sadbhavana fast, will receive aid worth Rs 20 lakh.

"Rs 20 lakh will be given to the heirs of both the security personnel of the state reserved police force - Vikramsinh Khatubha Parmar and Chimanbhai K Chaudhari," said an official note, quoting government spokesperson Jay Narayan Vyas.

Rs 10,000 will be given to the kin of each of the deceased from the welfare fund, Rs 1 lakh under the Bandhutva Sahay Fund, Rs 15 lakh under group accident insurance, and Rs 4 to 6 lakh, calculated as per the remaining years in the job of the commandos.

The announcement comes a day after opposition leader Shaktisinh Gohil attacked Modi for not showing "sadbhavna" to the deceased's kin

Maruthi to Set up Plant in Gujarat - Accepts Modi's Offer

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi may have just landed yet another major project for Gujarat. And that too from country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL).

The company is all set to build an additional manufacturing facility in Gujarat. It is understood that a decision to this regard will be taken by the Maruti management in its board meeting on October 29.

Maruti has said it along with vendors, could invest up to Rs. 18,000 crore in Gujarat as it looks to produce around 2 million or 20 lakh units in the long run. MSI is looking at a phased manner of starting car production in the state.

It proposes to invest around Rs. 4,000 crore in the first phase of the plant.

For the last few months, consultations have been held between the Gujarat government and Maruti officials.

Suzuki Motor Corporation chairman Osamu Suzuki and Maruti chairman RC Bhargava met chief minister Narendra Modi last month discussing the proposed plant in the state.

The state government has offered 500 acres at Bahucharaji in North Gujarat to the company . The company has explored other states also for the last four months.

The auto maker will benefit from Gujarat's established port infrastructure to export its cars worldwide. The state already houses plants of car firms like Ford and General Motors.

Maruti's manufacturing plants in Gurgaon and Manesar, put together, have production capacity of 1.7 million vehicles.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Speaker suspends T V Rajesh, James Mathew for 2 days

Thiruvananthapuram: MLAs TV Rajesh and James Mathew was suspended from Assembly proceedings for 2 days. The Opposition protesting against this went on a sit-in inside the Assembly. The suspension was given not for the manhandling incident that happened on Friday but for the sudden outburst against the speaker.

It all started when the Speaker G Karthikeyan called a meeting of the two MLAs and discussed the incident of the attack. He asked the two MLAs to offer an apology for manhandling a watch and ward staff and a consensus was reached there.

At 8 a.m. Monday,Karthikeyan began a marathon peace talks with the rival fronts that went on till 1.40 p.m.'Maybe what happened was not done purposely but the two legislators have apologised for their misbehaviour,' said Karthikeyan.

Hearing this, Mathew was on his feet and was seen shouting to the speaker that they had not apologised and what the speaker had said was against what was earlier decided.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy then got up and read a statement that in the light of what had just happened, the two legislators who questioned the speaker must be suspended. The resolution was adopted.

Opposition members were up on their feet and started shouting slogans and trooped to the well of the house as the speaker rushed through the proceedings of the day and adjourned the house.

Government chief whip P.C. George told newsmen later that what had happened in the house was unbecoming.

'It was really unbecoming,' he said. 'All the issues were resolved through the marathon talks since today morning. With James taking a stand like this, Rajesh also stood up and challenged the speaker and, hence, they were suspended.'

The opposition continued to remain in the house even after the adjournment.

Former food minister and Communist Party of India legislative party leader C. Divakaran said the suspension was a violation of the agreement reached.

'It is most unfortunate; the suspension came as a surprise to all of us because that was not what was decided at the talks,' said Divakaran

Federal Bank, Oriental Insurance launch NRI mediclaim policy

Mumbai: Kerala-based private lender Federal Bank has partnered with Oriental Insurance Company to launch a mediclaim policy for the NRI community, 'Fed Oriental Pravasi Insurance'.

The scheme will offer NRIs a cover for normal hospital expenses and unforeseen events such as repatriation and accidents. The policy also includes a legal/litigation cover, hospitalisation cover, personal accident cover and a medical floater cover for family members, besides maternity benefits.

"This amalgamation will help us achieve our growth objectives and also provide our existing clientele with better investment alternatives. This step will enable us to make the most of the strategic opportunities offered by a dynamic and evolving market," Federal Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Shyam Srinivasan said in a statement.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Police arrest evangelist Lee for breaking visa rules

Kochi: Police on Saturday arrested evangelist William Lee for breaking visa norms and propagating religious sermons. He was arrested on Friday night and would be produced before the Ernakulam First Class Magistrate Court on Saturday.

Lee had engaged in missionary activities at a programme organised by Faith Leaders Church of Lord, Tiruvalla the other day in Kaloor and police had interfered in that.

Earlier, Lee was absconding ever since police had told them to surrender their travel documents and leave the place. Police suspect that Lee would have absconded fearing police case against him and being put in the blacklist case. Also Lee would have feared a ban on his India visit.

A case has also been booked against members Daniel Mathew, Roy Daniel and James. The group had entered India on a tourist visa. Those entering on tourist visas are prohibited from conducting any religious prayer sessions. He would be blacklisted from visiting India, Police said.

CM moots live telecast of assembly proceedings

Thiruvananthapuraam; Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Saturday said the demand for judicial inquiry into the alleged manhandling of a female guard by LDF MLAs was an attempt to run away from the real issue.

Such allegations can be avoided if people are allowed to watch the assembly proceedings live, he said.

The protest by opposition members over alleged leakage of DGP's report on Kozhikode firing took an ugly turn when they tried to enter the well of the house. In the ruckus that followed a woman watch and ward was allegedly injured.

The guard Rajani who was later admitted to the general hospital here said that she was pushed by T.V. Rajesh, MLA.

The Speaker G Karthikeyan adjourned the House for the day following the disruption of proceedings after the Zero Hour. Coming out of the House, Rural Development Minister K C Joseph and Government Chief Whip P C George accused CPM members T.V. Rajesh and James Mathew of attacking a woman security personnel.

They demanded that the Speaker should initiate action against the two MLAs. Rajesh and James Mathew, however, refuted the charge and told reporters that in fact it was them who were manhandled by the guard staff.

A video examination held later did not reveal anything conclusive resulting in MLAs belonging to ruling front and the Opposition continuing with allegations and counter allegations.

Later while talking to media T.V. Rajesh broke down saying P.C. George and K.C. George insulted him and his family by levelling such allegations againt him

Friday, September 30, 2011

HC nod for vigilance probe against Arunkumar

Kochi: The Kerala High Court Friday said that Vigilance investigation can be held against son of CPM leader V.S. Achuthanandan, V.S. Anilkumar.

The court rejected a petition filed by Arunkumar against the probe. He had challenged the new government's decision to carry out a Vigilance probe, cancelling the Lok Ayukta investigation, ordered by the LDF government.

Arunkumar's plea was that the Vigilance probe was politically motivated and illegal.

The court in its verdict said the Lok Ayukta does not have the right to probe the charges against Arunkumar and that Vigilance probe was legal.

CM promises stern action against culprits

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today termed as 'brutal' the attack on a school teacher in Kollam district and said government would bring the culprits to justice.

Chandy was replaying to a submission in the state assembly on the manhandling of Krishnakumar (47), a teacher in the
private RVVHS School owned by the family of former state minister and Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai.

Krishnakumar was found in a serious condition on the roadside at Valakam near Kottarakkara in Kollam district in
the wee hours of yesterday. He was admitted to the Medical College Hospital here.

Krishnakumar's wife Geetha, who is also a teacher in the same school, alleged that her husband has, of late, been not
on good terms with the school management.

In her submission, Aisha Potti,CPI(M) MLA from Kottarakkara, alleged that a conspiracy was behind the attack and only a
comprehensive probe by a special police team would reveal the truth. PTI

No connection with attack on teacher: Pillai

Thiruvananthapuram: Former state minister R. Balakrishna Pillai Thursday said that he had no involvement in the attack on one of the teachers in a school owned by his family.

Pillai, Kerala Congress (B) leader, who is now serving one year imprisonment in a corruption case said that the allegation made by the leader of the opposition V.S. Achuthanandan was politically motivated.

Pillai's telephonic conversation with the Reporter TV channel has now become a controversy.

The teacher, Krishnakumar, was found on roadside in a serious condition at Valakam near Kottarakkara in Kollam district.

Pillai, Ganesh behind attack: VS

Thiruvananthapuram: Opposition Leader in the Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan today demanded an inquiry into the role of Forest Minister K B Ganeshkumar in the attack on a school teacher at Kottarakkara in Kollam.

Talking to newspersons here, Mr Achuthanandan said it was alleged that a quotation gang was hired by the Minister for attacking Krishnakumar and an investigation is necessary to know the truth.

CPI(M) State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that he had clear information regarding the persons behind the incident.

''But, I would not reveal the names now. The 47-year-old Krishnakumar was a teacher in a private vocational higher secondary school owned by the family of Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai, father of the Minister,'' he added.

Krishnakumar was found in a serious condition on a roadside at Valakam near Kottarakkara in Kollam district late last night.

Krishnakumar was first admitted to Kottarakkara Taluk Hospital, and later referred to Medical College Hosptal.

Police registered a case of attempt to murder in this regard.

His wife Geetha became headmistress of the school after winning a court case against the management.

Krishnakumar is also a prime witness in a vigilance case against people related to the management.

Earlier, Krishnakumar filed a complaint that he was getting death threats from the management.

However, Minister Ganeshkumar asserted that he had no connection with the school or the management.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kollam -Kottappuram Waterway by 2007 -V.S -By 2012- Oommen Chandy

Kochi : Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said the Kollam - Kottappuram Waterway would be commissioned by December 2012.

Though the work had started long back and expected to be commissioned in 2005, it was prolonged due to certain issues with the fishermen, he said while laying foundation stone for the Indian Maritime University Cochin Main Campus here.

However, the government found solution to their problems to a great extent and it was expected that the waterway would open for cargo movement by December 2012, he said.

Mr Chandy stressed on the need for encouraging and developing more waterways in the state for cheaper cargo movement in the wake of frequent hike of petroleum products' prices.

Regarding the proposed Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam-Kottappuram-Neeleswaram Waterways, the Centre had earmarked a sum of Rs 225 crore, he pointed out.
News Archives in June 2006
`Kollam-Kottapuram waterway by June 2007' V.S

Kovalam-Nileswaram waterway inaugurated

KOLLAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the Kollam to Kottapuram National Waterway-111 would be commissioned in June 2007.

Inaugurating the State-level launch of the Kovalam-Nileswaram Smart Waterway here on Saturday, Mr. Achuthanandan said the 590-km waterway would become fully operational by 2010. The National Waterway-111 is part of the Smart Waterway.

He said the opening of the waterway would be a major step towards development of the State. The Twelfth Finance Commission had allocated Rs.225 crore for revival of the waterway. Care would be taken to ensure that the funds do not lapse.

The Chief Minister, along with Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran and Minister for Food and Civil Supplies C. Divakaran, undertook a two-hour cruise along the National Waterway-111 from Kollam to Alumkadavu for an on-the-spot inspection of the condition of the waterway. Talking to presspersons after the cruise, the Chief Minister said there were some hurdles in developing the waterway to meet National Waterway standards. The main hurdles related to the livelihood aspects of people living on the banks. Increasing the width of the Travancore State Canal portion of the National Waterway would require rehabilitating those who had encroached upon the banks of the canal. This would be done within two months after talks with the people concerned and representatives of the people, he said.

With regard to the Kottapuram-Nileswaram portion of the Smart Waterway, new canals for at least 40 km north of Vadakara will have to be created. Inland Water Authority of India vice-chairman Sushil Kumar was present.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mohanlal escapes accident

The Malayalam superstar nearly fell off a bike which was six feet off the ground

Mohanlal, who has been shooting for his much-awaited film Casanova in Bangkok, narrowly escaped injuring himself during an action sequence. The actor was atop a superbike that had been suspended mid-air, when he lost balance and nearly fell off, says a source, who was present on the set. However, he managed to stay on the bike as it was lowered from a six-feet height to the ground.

"Mohanlal is perfectly fine and just has minor injuries, in terms of a few sprains. Had he fallen off the bike he could have been hurt badly. Following this incident pack up was announced for the day, but Mohanlal will be back in action tomorrow," adds the source.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gujarat CM Narendra Modi's open letter to citizens

My Dear sisters and brothers,

My Salutations!

Yesterday, the Apex Court of the country delivered an important judgment regarding the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat.

Everyone is interpreting this judgment in his own way. For political analysts it has one meaning and for legal experts it has another meaning. Someone is interpreting it as victory someone else as defeat. Everyone has his own point of view.

One thing is apparent from the Supreme Court's judgment. The unhealthy environment created by the unfounded and false allegations made against me and Government of Gujarat, after 2002 riots, has come to an end. For the past ten years, it has become fashionable to defame me and the State of Gujarat. These elements who could not tolerate any positive development of Gujarat have not left any stone unturned to defame Gujarat. It is difficult to say whether this campaign of defamation will stop even after the judgment of the Supreme Court. But one thing is certain that the credibility of those who have been spreading lies and defaming Gujarat has come to its lowest ebb. The people of this country will not trust such elements anymore.

After 2002, Gujarat has not spared any effort to march towards peace, harmony and progress even amidst false propaganda, lies, conspiracies and allegations.

'Six crore Gujaratis' has not remained merely a word. It has become the mantra of unity and human endeavor. Every citizen of Gujarat has internalized peace, harmony and development. Gujarat has experienced an unparalleled phase of peace, harmony, and development in the last decade. Gujarat is committed to march forward on this path only.

There is a famous saying, "Hate is never conquered by hate." The real strength of our country is its unity and harmony. Unity in diversity is the defining feature of India. It is our responsibility to strengthen unity in our social life. We have got an excellent opportunity to proceed with a positive attitude. Hence, let us come together and contribute in enhancing the dignity of Gujarat. I humbly submit before you that, as part of this responsibility to strengthen social harmony and brotherhood, I am thinking of starting a movement of "Sadbhavana Mission."

As part of this Sadbhavana Mission, I have resolved to fast for three days from, Saturday, the 17th September 2011. My fast will conclude on 19th September. I deeply believe that this fast will further strengthen Gujarat's environment of peace, unity and harmony.

Sadbhavana Mission is completely dedicated to the society and the nation. I hope that, our effort to take Gujarat to new heights of development through peace, unity and harmony will contribute immensely in the progress and development of the nation as well.

Always at your service,

Narendra Modi

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Not so Good News for Kerala Tourism Sector

Sri Lanka August tourist arrivals up 30 pct year/year

Sri Lanka tourism still booming with arrivals up 32 pct in July

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals jumped 29.6 percent in August from a year earlier with the visitors expect to hit a record high, as the island nation kept attracting more visitors and tourism-related investment since the end of a 25-year civil war.

Arrivals have risen every month on a year-on-year basis since the war's end in May 2009, and the government is targeting annual revenue of $2.5 billion by 2016 from 2.5 million expected visitors coming to see Sri Lanka's beaches, hills and religious and historic sites.

Visitors in August were 72,463, against 55,898 in the same month last year. Arrivals in the first eight months of 2011 have jumped 35.2 percent to 537,787, compared to the same period a year ago.

Sri Lanka has forecast a 20 percent growth in arrivals this year to more than 780,000 people, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has facilitated $1.2 billion in tourism investment so far in 2011.

The 654,476 arrivals in 2010 exceeded the previous all-time high 566,202 from 2004, when a peace accord was in place. Last's year's tally was 46.1 percent higher than the year before.

The government in July said it is expecting at least $1.5 billion in foreign investment into a proposed "tourist city" replete with hotels, shopping and a convention centre in Katana, a coastal town located 15 km north of the commercial capital, Colombo.

Tourism revenue rose 50 percent in the first seven months of this year to $451.4 million compared to the corresponding period last year after jumping 64.8 percent year-on-year to a record $575.9 million in 2010, the central bank's latest data showed.

Sri Lanka aims to attract $2.7 billion in investment to upgrade its post-war tourism capacity.

The hotel and travel index .CSEHT on the Colombo Stock Exchange has risen nearly fourfold since the end of the war.

Tourism is one of the main foreign exchange earners for Sri Lanka's $50 billion economy along with remittances from expatriate workers, garments and tea.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Piqued Chandy storms out of live TV interview

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen, miffed at aggressive questioning from the anchor of an interview being telecast live Thursday, walked out in a huff.

Forty-five minutes was the time slot for an interview granted to new Malayalam channel Reporter but the chief minister appeared to have had enough with 25 minutes still to go. The face-to-face was one of several granted to regional channels as part of his 100 Days Programme.

Chandy appeared to lose his cool after being grilled by anchor Venu on issues such as granting adivasi land to a wind power firm in Palakkad and changing a judicial commission probing a firing in Kasargode during the reign of the previous Left government.

Chandy's office said that all were stunned to see him walk out. "Normally, he is not one to lose his cool," an official said. "But right from the beginning, the interview appeared to be a courtroom trial and we could sense his discomfort. Maybe, he did not want to create a scene, so he quietly walked out."

Chandy is preparing a progress report on his 100 Days Programme, designed on transparency, and he will be making it public here Monday.

Petition against Kunhalikutty dismissed

Thrissur: A vigilance court has dismissed a petition seeking probe against Kerala Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty for alleged amassment of wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Judge V Jayaram, while dismissing the petition filed by Abdul Aziz, observed that there was no prima facie case against Kunhalikutty.

The petitioner also had not produced any evidence to substantiate the charge, the judge said. Aziz alleged that Kunhalikutty had purchased land in Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) and Gudaloor (Tamil Nadu) in the name of his wife and some other persons.

Kunhalikutty, in his reaction, said Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan and a group of persons were behind filing cases against him. "There is nothing new in the court dismissing petition against me in similar cases," Kunhalikutty added.

Shreyamskumar denies illegal land holding

Kozhikode: Socialist Janata (D) leader M V Shreyamskumar, MLA, today said he and his family were being haunted by his political adversaries on the allegation that 14.44 acre of ancestral land held by him in Krishnagri village in Wayanad district in Kerala, was illegal.

Talking to newspersons here he said, ''I am prepared to donate the land for charity if CPI (M) State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan proves his claim that the land was encroched by me.'' He said, ''I was not even born'' when the land was allocated by the erstwhile Madras government to his grandfather Padma Prabha in 1943 under ''grow more campaign.'' The land in question was bequeathed to his father M P Veerendra Kumar and subsequently to him in 1972 during the partition of ancestral property when he was only five years.

The government had allocated about 1575 acres of land to different persons in 15 villages in the district for farming. But he was being victimized for political reasons despite a court order against his eviction from the land.

Vijayan and his party had never raised such an issue when his party Janata Dal (Secular), the previous avatar of the SJD, was part of the Left Democratic Front.

He said he got a relief on September 1 from the Supreme Court which directed the Kerala High Court to hear expeditiously the appeal filed by him.

''The Constitution of the country ensured every citizen his her legitimate right to protect their property. I do not forefeit such a right for the sole reason that I am an elected member of the Assembly.'' he add

Kerala unveils draft land acquisition policy

Thiruvananthapuram:The Kerala cabinet cleared a draft land acquisition policy Wednesday to speed up the development process in the state.

The Kerala move coincided with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh introduving the National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, in the Lok Sabha Wednesday.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting that the highlight of the state's draft policy is that transferrable development bonds would be issued to people who do not want immediate cash for the land that they surrender.

'All those who wish to get transferable development bonds in lieu of cash for land surrendered can at any later date encash these bonds or can even sell these back to the government.

'This would enable the land owner to get the benefit of the increase in land value following development in the area,' Chandy said.

State Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan added that the draft has been given to all the political parties in the state and would be discussed in public fora.

'In two weeks, recommendations that come up in the open discussion would be taken into consideration. We expect that in a month the state would have a new path-breaking land acquisition policy, replacing the one which is in force now and waas formulated in 1894,' Radhakrishnan said.

'Over the years what we have seen is that due to the various delays in land takeover, the project gets delayed by five years, resulting in a huge cost escalation.'

'With this new policy, there will be no delays and all those who give land for development would get good value for the land and even get a maximum two percent in the equity of the project, and also one person from the family which loses land will get a job in the project,' he added.

Incidentally, this new policy is applicable for land taken over by the government for setting up new projects.

This scheme was included in the 100-day programme announced by the new Chandy government soon after it took office.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kerala CPM men wooed US capitalists: WikiLeaks

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: When the US political counsellor and staff of US consulate evaluated Kerala’s political and economic scene in conversations with political and business leaders a couple of years back, senior CPM leaders reportedly pleaded for assistance in attracting US private sector investment to Kerala.

A diplomatic cable sent by a top US diplomat to the US State Department and accessed by Express through WikiLeaks (166399, unclassified, dated August 2008), states that the openness with which CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and then ministers Thomas Isaac and M A Baby expressed their desire for US investment to American diplomats was startling. It goes on to say that the meeting demonstrated confidence that their reformist faction had the upper hand over the more dogmatic wing of the Kerala CPM led by the then Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan.

Revealing the details about a closed-door meeting the American political counsellor had with top CPM leaders and ministers, the American diplomat says, “CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan opened the meeting, which was held in his office underneath framed pictures of Stalin and Lenin, by telling the political counsellor that “we need your assistance” in drawing US investment to the state.Vijayan, who is a member of the CPM politburo, added that “we have no problems with American companies, no hesitation at all.” He explained the change in the Kerala CPM’s position on investment by saying that “the government does not have enough money to adequately develop the state. We need money from the private sector.”

News courtesy :Arun Jayan: 30 Aug 2011 (Indian Express)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

UDF Rice for Rs 1 scheme Inagurated by A.K. Antony

Thiruvananthapuram: Defence Minister A K Antony today called upon the people to take anti-corruption pledge as bribery was growing in the country. Launching Kerala governemnt's 'Poverty-Free' scheme for supply of rice at Rs one per kg to BPL families, Antony said it was a matter of grave concern that it had become a normal practice that people had to give bribe for getting benefits of government schemes. Without mentioning the ongoing fast by Gandhian Anna Hazare, the Congress veteran said people's anger against this danger generated in many forms in the country. 'So we should take a pledge against corruption', Antony said. He said the government should ensure that welfare schemes reached the targetted groups without any hitch. 'People have lost faith in announcements. They think that for getting government benefits, they have to grease the palm of someboy', he said.

Though India had achived progress in many fields after independence and had become a world economic power,the country still had two tiers- one shining India and the other where the people live in poverty, he said. Efforts of the UPA government was to ensure inclusive growth by taking steps to provide basic needs of the commonman while implementing development works, he said. Inaugurating the scheme of supplying free Onam kit to BPL famililes, Kerrala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the
government's aim was to have a permanent set up to check price rise of essential commodities. Under the scheme, 21 lakh BPL families would get 25 KG rice per month at Rs one per kg and 35 kg for families under Antyodaya Ann Yojana schem at Rs one kg. Speaking on the occasion, Food and Civil Supplies minister T M Jacob said necessary quantity of rice had already reached in the more than 14,000 rations to start the supply. Jacob said the Onam kit would contain rice and sugar
besides other essential articles. A total of Rs 19 crore had been earmarked for the scheme, he said.

Povery-free Kerala project of supplying one rupee per kg rice was one of the 100-days programmes announced by the Congress led UDF government. It completed 100-days in office on August 25. PTI

Friday, August 19, 2011

BJP-led Municipal Corporation of Delhi roll out the red carpet for Anna Hazare at Ram Leela Maidan

Some 250 workers of the BJP-led MCD are engaged in getting the Ramlila Maidan ready by Friday.Sensing an opportunity BJP's Delhi unit is leaving no stone unturned to roll out the red carpet for Anna Hazare and his aides at Ramlila Maidan. The historic grounds come under the jurisdiction of the BJP-controlled Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), giving the principal opposition an opportunity to be on the side of the popular anti-graft sentiment which has turned against the government.

Taking advantage of a cowed down Congress government, the MCD has turned all its forces towards preparing the grounds that are in a bad condition after incessant rains for the last two days. Six earth movers, 15 trucks which have made as many as 100 rounds to off-load the muck and 250 people who will continue to labour through the night have been pressed into service.

It was only in the early hours of Thursday that MCD was informed that Ramlila Maidan would be the venue for the anti-corruption crusade and BJP leaders in the MCD immediately started rolling out men and machinery towards Hazare's latest protest venue: the swift response starkly contrasting with the lethargic way in which the civic body ordinarily functions.

Leader of the House in MCD Subhash Arya told TOI that he reached the venue at 9 am and supervised work at the grounds till evening, leaving only for a few hours in the afternoon. Other important BJP leaders including state chief Vijender Gupta, Yogender Chandolia and Ramesh Bidhuri were also closely involved with the preparations.

Congress must be keeping a close watch on BJP's enthusiasm. The party has spoken of an "invisible hand" remote-controlling the Hazare campaign, as well as its infiltration by RSS. The Hazare campaign has taken pains to stress that it is not predisposed towards the opposition, and has tried not to let the government's opponents use their platform.

BJP and RSS, which have pledged their support to the anti-corruption movement, were conspicuous by their presence at Baba Ramdev's protest: something that was subsequently cited by the government to justify the midnight police action on the yoga guru's supporters.

The core group of Hazare's campaign has also decided to provide one lakh water pouches with "ISI mark" gratis to the protestors along with provisions for an ambulance and medical supplies.

When asked if the BJP supported Hazare's campaign, Arya said, "The issue was first flagged off by our leader L K Advani and we are willing to support anyone working on the anti-corruption campaign."

He also did not lose the opportunity to rub in the fact that the Congress-led central government had to buckle to the activist. "Congress has bowed down to Hazare. It is a moral defeat for them," he said.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Anna Hazare Arrested -Parliament reverberated

Parliament reverberated today with the repercussions of Anna Hazare’s arrest as the Opposition came out in unanimous support of the activist’s right to peaceful protest and rejected the government’s claim that the arrest was made to uphold parliamentary supremacy. It sought unconditional permission for Anna’s fast.

Leaders of Opposition in both Houses - Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitely in the Rajya Sabha - tore into Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s defence that the government was duty-bound to maintain peace when some sections (read Anna and team) challenged its authority and Parliament’s prerogative to make laws. “The issue is not whether a Lokpal Bill is necessary; the question is who drafts the law,” the PM said in a statement justifying Anna’s arrest. The Opposition dismissed his contentions that Anna’s campaign was a confrontation between Parliament and the civil society, with Jaitely asking if anyone had ever disputed Parliament’s right to make laws. “The question is not who drafts the law; the question is that people have the right to express views on those laws,” he said, ripping into PM’s arguments that the government arrested Anna to protect democratic principles which he was questioning by seeking to foist his version of the Lokpal Bill on Parliament and wanting to fast towards that end. The debate happened under Rule 193.

The PM’s statement merely listed events leading up to Anna’s arrest and snubbed the Gandhian saying those who believe their voice alone represents the will of 1.2 billion persons should reflect on that position. “Many forces will not like to see us realise our true place. We must not play into their hands,” the PM warned. In the LS, he was repeatedly disrupted and Speaker Meira Kumar had to request for calm.

His statement had the Opposition wondering who drafted it. Jaitely had an answer when he took a dig at P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khursheed. He said: “This is the problem with a government that has too many lawyers advising it. It invokes Section 144 of the CrPC for what is a political solution.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anna Hazare - A Profile -Know whom you are Supporting

Short Biography of Anna Hazare – Story of Army Driver becoming the Crusader of the Mass Movement

Name - Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare known as Anna Hazare

Birth date - 15 January 1940

Anna Hazare was born in Bhingar village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra state in western India to Baburao Hazare and Laxmi Bai, an unskilled labourer family
He was raised by his childless aunt in Mumbai but could not continue beyond VII standard and had to quit midway due to problems.
He has two sisters.

He is unmarried.

Anna Hazare started his career as a driver in the Indian Army.

During his 15-year tenure as a soldier, he was posted to several states like Sikkim, Bhutan, Jammu-Kashmir, Assam, Mizoram, Leh and Ladakh and braved challenging weathers.

Anna was greatly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings.

In the year 1965, Pakistan attacked India and at that time, Hazare was posted at the Khemkaran border. On November 12, 1965, Pakistan launched air attacks on Indian base and all of Hazare’s comrades became martyrs

In 1978, he took voluntary retirement from the 9th Maratha Battalion

After serving 15 Years in Army Anna took the voluntary retirement and returned to his native place in Ralegan Siddhi, in the Parner tehsil of Ahmednagar district.

Ralegan Siddhi falls in the drought-prone area with a mere 400 to 500 mm of annual rainfall.

There were no weirs to retain rainwater.

During the month of April and May, water tankers were the only means of drinking water.

Almost 80 per cent of the villagers were dependent on other villages for food grains. Residents used to walk for more than four to six kilometers in search of work

Hazare came across the work of one Vilasrao Salunke, a resident of Saswad near Pune who had started a novel project of water management through watershed development in a joint venture with the Gram Panchyat. Hazare visited the project and decided to implement it in Ralegan Siddhi.

He steered the villagers to begin working towards water conservation.

At the outset, they completed 48 Nala Bunding work, contour trenches, staggered trenches, gully plugs, meadows development and of forestation of 500 hectares of land. Thereafter, they constructed five RCC weirs and 16 Gabion Weirs.

This resulted in increase in the ground water level.

Hazare’s Ralegan Siddhi became the first role model of an ideal village from the worst village to an ideal village.

Anna rightly thought that Development is marred by corruption and started a new venture in 1991 called Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Aandolan (BVJA) or public movement against corruption.

It was found that some 42 forest officers had duped the state government for crores of rupees through corruption in confederacy.

Hazare submitted the evidences to the government but the latter was reluctant to take action against all these officers as one of the ministers of the ruling party was involved in the scam.

A distressed Hazare returned the Padmashree Award to the President of India and also returned the Vriksha Mitra Award given by then prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi.

He further went on an indefinite hunger strike in Alandi on the same issue.

Finally, the government woke up and took action against the criminal and corrupt officers as well as six of the ministers were forced to resign and more than 400 officers from different government offices were sent back to home.

Hazare raised the issue of alleged massive land purchase by Gholap's wife Shashikala in Nashik between April to September 1996.

He forwarded the available documentary evidences in support of his allegations to then Maharashtra Governor P. C. Alexander

On 4 November 1997, Gholap filed a defamation suit against Hazare for accusing him of corruption.

On 9 September 1998, Anna Hazare was imprisoned in the Yerawada Jail after being sentenced to simple imprisonment for three months by the Mumbai Metropolitan Court all political parties, every one from Maharashtra came in support of him
Later due to public protest, outcry the Government of Maharashtra ordered his release from the jail.

The state government has opened cooperative societies, credit societies & urban banks everywhere in states.

However, the directors of such societies do the corruption and failed to pay back the basic amount to the members of the societies.

Thus poor people get cheated when Anna saw this he again began his agitation against this.

Hazare agitated for over eight months.

The result was that more than Rs 125 crore was recovered from defaulters and the members of such societies heaved a sigh of relief.

Recovery of around Rs. 400 crores is in the pipeline.

After this Anna started to fight for the Right to information act.

Government ignored Anna.

In 1997 Anna agitated in Azad Maidan in Mumbai to create mass public awareness about RTI amongst the youth.

Anna started to travel across state.

Government promised Anna they will pass RTI act but in reality they never did it.

For this Anna agitated ten times for this law.

When Anna saw that Government is not willing to pass this law Anna went on an indefinite hunger strike at Azad Maidan in the last week of July 2003.

After 12 days of Hunger strike in Azad Maidan the President of India signed the draft of the Right to Information Act and ordered the state government to implement it with effect from 2002. The same draft was considered as the base document for the making of the National Right to Information Act-2005.

In 2003 Anna Hazare raised corruption charges against 4 ministers of the Congress-NCP government

Government ignored him

Then Anna started his fast unto death agitation on 9 August 2003.

He ended his fast on 17 August 2003 after then chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde formed a one man commission, headed by the retired justice P. B. Sawant to probe his charges.

The P. B. Sawant commission report was submitted on 23 February 2005, indicted Suresh Jain, Nawab Malik and Padmasinh Patil.

Suresh Jain and Nawab Malik resigned from the cabinet in March 2005

Jan Lokpal Bill –
Agitation and hunger strike at the age of 73 and great victory against powerful and rich government

India against corruption movement
N. Santosh Hegde, a former justice of the Supreme Court of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court along with the members of the India against Corruption movement drafted an alternate bill, named as the Jan Lokpal Bill (People's Ombudsman Bill) with more stringent provisions and wider power to the Lokpal (Ombudsman)

On April 5 2011 Again Anna started second freedom struggle in India.
Anna wrote to everyone regarding Jan Lok Pal bill but no one listened him
After that on 5th April 2011 Started fast unto death to wake up the government for India.
Anna started war against corruption in India.
Hazare has started a fast unto death from 5 April 2011 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, to press for the demand to form a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and the civil society to draft a new bill with stronger penal actions and more independence to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Ombudsmen in the states)

In beginning Government of India ignored him, many people said many things, but as First day was over Anna got the support from every corner of India and
No one has expected such a support Anna will get for this bill.

Over night table were turned and after 4 days of discussion with government of India servants .
Finally Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh realized that demand of Anna is right and government accepted all the demands of Anna.
Thus Jantar Mantar saved from becoming another Tahir Square.

Anna Hazare won the following awards –
1. Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra award by the Government of India on November 19, 1986 from the hands of Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi.
2. 1989 - Krishi Bhushana award by the Government of Maharashtra.
3. 1990 - Padmashri award, by the Government of India
4. 1992 - Padmabhushan award, by the Government of India
5. 2008 - On April 15 2008, Anna Hazare received the World Bank's 2008 Jit Gill Memorial Award for Outstanding Public Service
6. Care International of the USA, Transparency International, Seoul (South Korea)
7. He received awards worth Rs 25 lakh and donated the entire amount for the Swami Vivekananda Kritadnyata Nidhi (social gratitude fund). Out of the two lakh rupees received from the above amount, mass marriages are carried of at least 25-30 poor couples every year.

Anna Hazare has given his life for the benefit of India.

He got the home in his village but he has not entered in that house from last 35 years.

Anna Hazare and Properties –

Anna Hazare has declared he has got Rs68, 688 in bank balance and cash and three pieces of land
Hazare's lands were either donated to him or family owned
In his statement, Hazare said two land pieces measuring 0.07 Hectares and two hectares are in his native village in Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra while 0.46 hectare of land is in Pimpianer.
one of the pieces of land in Ralegan Siddhi was donated by Army to him which he has donated for village use
the Pimpianer land was donated to him by a villager.Hazare has further donated this land for village use.

Anna Hazare never got any grant from Government of India.

Appeal: Lets Support Anna Hazare.

Jai Hind....!