Bill Gates invites KarunanidhiCHENNAI: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has extended an invitation to Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi to visit Microsoft's facility in Seattle, United States. In a letter to the Chief Minister, a copy of which was released here, Mr. Gates congratulated Mr. Karunanidhi and Mr. Dayanidhi Maran on the DMK's recent electoral victory.

"We look forward to closer collaboration with your State in areas of education, e-governance and rural development. Should you happen to visit the United States, Microsoft would be pleased to host your visit to Seattle," Mr. Gates said in his letter. Special Correspondent

Consumer bodies' appeal to GovernmentMADURAI: The Federation of Consumer Organisations-Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (FEDCOT) has urged the State Government to ensure effective functioning of the State Consumer Protection Council.

In his presidential address at the inauguration of a seminar here on Sunday, federation chairman P. Duraisingam said the council had met only once in the last five years. He requested the Government to hold regular meetings at least once in six months and fill vacancies in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums at the earliest. "The Government should do away with political appointments in the forums and deserving candidates must be given a chance to perform," he said.

Staff Reporter

CPI welcomes Government moveCHENNAI: The Communist Party of India has welcomed the State Government's move to bring down the price of diesel by 45 paise by limiting the sales tax.

The Government should also intensify efforts at promoting alternative fuels, the party said in a press release on Sunday. Special Correspondent

IGNOU MBA programmeCHENNAI: The last date for receipt of entrance test form for the MBA programme of Indira Gandhi National Open University (batch commencing January 2007) is June 15. The student handbook/prospectus (cost Rs.500) is available at the IGNOU Regional Centre, Chennai and its study centres in Tamil Nadu. For details call IGNOU Regional Centre (Ph:22541919;22542727). The form can also be downloaded from IGNOU website

Water levelMADURAI: The level at Periyar dam stood at 121.70 feet with an inflow of 21 cusecs and a discharge of 1,168 cusecs. The level at Vaigai dam was 56 feet with an inflow of 546 cusecs and a discharge of 1,300 cusecs. The combined Periyar Credit stood at 5,109 mcft.

Call to fill vacanciesMADURAI: Tamil Nadu Post Graduate Teachers' Association on Sunday urged the State Government to fill headmaster/teacher post vacancies in Government schools immediately.

It also called for reducing the heavy syllabus burden for Plus-Two students in the interest of large number of rural students. Various resolutions were passed at the Madurai District Executive Committee meeting of the association where the office-bearers also urged that the working days of schools should not exceed 200 in a year.

SymposiumMADURAI: The District Disability Rehabilitation Centre, in association with All-Clinical Yoga Therapists and Yoga Psychologists Federation, will organise a one-day symposium on `Application of yoga therapy and yoga psychology in disability rehabilitation' on June 23. According to a press release, the programme will cover yoga therapy management of mental retardation, disability, autism, mind management and geriatrics. Those who are working in this field can register their names at MANASA - District Disability Rehabilitation Centre, Villapuram, Madurai, or dial 93603 13927 before June 20.

Forum gestureMADURAI: Kaviarasu Kannadasan Narpani Mandram distributed free notebooks and stationery items to 300 students at a function held here on Friday.

Youth killed in accidentNagercoil: One person was killed on the spot and his friend sustained injuries in a road accident on Sunday.

According to the police, Senthil (23) of Kattayanvilai near Vetturnimdam was going to the Suchindrum Temple along with his friend Rajesh in a motorbike, when a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation bus coming from the opposite direction dashed against the vehicle at Chettikulam near Nagercoil.

Rajesh was rushed to Kanyakumari Government Medical College Hospital at Asaripallam.

Five arrestedNagercoil: The police on Sunday arrested five persons in connection with a group clash. According to the police, a wordy quarrel erupted between a group led by Deva Muthu of Thazakudi and other group led by Edward of the same area, owing to enmity.

In this incident Deva Muthu, who sustained cut injuries, was admitted to the Government Hospital.

Power shutdownUdhagamandalam: In view of the proposed power shutdown at the Kotagiri sub-station there would be no supply between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on June 12 at Kotagiri and in Aravenu, Kodanad, West Brooke, Thattapalam and Kil-Kotagiri, according to a TNEB release issued in Kotagiri.

- Special Correspondent

Panther killedUDUMALPET: A six-year-old male panther was killed reportedly by a predator (presumed to be a tiger) in a fight at Avarakkodi Pallam - 30 km from here - in the Western Ghats.

The Forest Veterinary Officer, N.S. Manoharan, who conducted the post mortem in the reserve forests on Sunday, said that it was an adult, and that it could have died four days ago. It sustained deep wounds on the neck. After the post mortem, the carcass was burnt in the presence of Assistant Conservator of Forests, S. Soundararajan.

- Staff Reporter

NMR services hitCOIMBATORE: For the second successive day on Sunday, the Nilgiris Mountain Rail (NMR) services were hit by technical problems. Two services of the NMR on Saturday and one on Sunday from Mettupalayam here to Udhagamandalam were affected, inconveniencing passengers.

The regular train that departed Mettupalayam at 7.10 p.m. and the special service at 9.15 p.m. on Saturday were said to have stopped at Marapalam near Coonoor. The regular service on Sunday was stopped between Kallar and Aderly stations.

- Special Correspondent

ActionCOIMBATORE: The Department of Labour has initiated action against eight educational institutions and 11 stationery shops in Coimbatore, Pollachi, Udumalpet and Valparai for sale of notebooks and stationery items at rates higher than the maximum retail price.

A release said the checks were carried out in 38 institutions and 41 shops, and cases were booked under the Standards of Weight and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977.

- Special Correspondent

Action against bogus cardsPERAMBALUR: The State Food Minister, A. V. Velu, has directed the district officials to initiate action against those possessing bogus family cards.

Addressing officials at a meeting held here on Sunday, Mr. Velu asked them to keep a strict vigil against bogus ration cards for ensuring effective distribution of essential commodities to the eligible families. Bogus cards should be immediately withdrawn, he said.

The Minister also directed the officials to ensure that the kerosene and rice supplied through the ration shops was not misused. Diversion of rice meant for public distribution, to hotels should be severely dealt with.

Top priority should be given to ration-related complaints from the members of the public. Action initiated against salespersons of fair price shops should be immediately intimated to the authorities at Perambalur and Chennai.

Field workTiruchi:A total number of 106 teacher trainers working in 16 block resource centres in Tiruchi district will embark on field work to enrol drop-outs and never-enrolled children in the age group of 6-14 years in schools in order to ensure 100 per cent enrolment of children.

An official release issued here said the field work would begin on June 12 and end on June 24. The District Project Coordinator of the Sarva Shiksha Abiyan and the Chief Educational Officer, Tiruchi has appealed to the public to extend their full cooperation when the teacher trainers embark on the work.

Mettur levelTiruchi: The water level at the Mettur dam stood at 115.24 feet on Sunday. The inflow was 4,027 cusecs and the outflow 2000 cusecs. Staff Reporter