The demolition of the illegal construction on the banks of the Periyar marks the successful conclusion of a prolonged battle for environmental protection

When workers began demolishing the Rainbow restaurant on the banks of the Periyar with sledgehammers, it marked the successful conclusion of a prolonged legal battle for environmental protection.

It was in 2006 that S. Sitaraman, the frail, tall, Chemistry teacher involved with the Association for Environmental Protection, began his battle against the illegal construction carried out by the then district administrators.

The fight began with a series of petitions to the authorities including the district collector in the first phase.

When no one heeded his petitions, Prof. Sitaraman chose the legal route and approached the High Court of Kerala with the support of lawyer P.B. Sahasranaman.

Though the High Court turned down his plea, the fighter in Prof. Sitaraman refused to be discouraged.

He dutifully followed up the case with a review petition with the help of Sivan Madathil, a lawyer. The review too didn’t yield any desired result. At this stage, the venue of the battle was shifted to New Delhi as he went in appeal to the Supreme Court.

In a landmark judgement, the apex court, which was convinced of the illegality in the construction of the restaurant, reversed the decision of the High Court and ordered that the illegal structure be razed.

Even after the apex court issued an ultimatum for the demolition, it required a contempt of court petition and a notice from the court for the State authorities to implement the order.

Prof. Sitaraman’s attention is now focused on some major constructions in the city, which, he argues, have come up in complete violation of the law.

No star-studded campaigns

Voters in Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency will miss the much-expected turnout of Mollywood stars campaigning for senior actor Innocent, who is contesting as an Independent candidate supported by the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

The grapevine has it that both the LDF and the actor seem reluctant in rallying popular actors fearing that it might backfire. The Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), which had initially announced that it would campaign for Mr. Innocent, later decided to change its plan.

A senior executive committee member pointed out that it might not be ideal, as the organisation has members owing allegiance to various political parties.

Rumblings within the film fraternity on Mr. Innocent’s candidature also came as a bolt for those who wanted to campaign for the actor, who has been AMMA’s president for the past 13 years.

The LDF was reluctant to field actors on the campaign trail based on the assessment that the likely huge turnout in such meetings would not translate into votes.

Friends of Mr. Innocent also recollected the bitter experience of a few actors, who received flak for joining the election campaign of actor K.B. Ganesh Kumar, MLA, during the previous Assembly election.

Helping Nini, before it’s too late

Several prominent civil society members, including former Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer, actor Mammootty, and businessman Kochouseph Chittilappilly, have expressed their support for the efforts of 36-year-old Nini Monsi to find a stem cell donor.

They have signed a petition informing the public about Nini, who is undergoing treatment for leukemia in Bangalore.

Her doctors have said that a stem cell donation is her only hope.

After going through hundreds of potential donors, doctors zeroed in on one donor who was a perfect match, only to see him withdraw from the transplant. Nini is now fighting against time as her family looks for another donor.

Nini’s situation highlights the need for more awareness regarding stem cell donation. The petition signed by prominent Kochiites reiterates the fact that the donation process has no adverse effect on the health of the donor.

Despite this, there have been several instances of donors backing out of a transplant request. A leading Malayali academic died last year after more than one stem cell match backed out of donating bone marrow. It is not too late, however, for potential donors to come forward to help Nini.

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