Govt. to seek judge from outside State

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, NOV. 15. The Government will be seeking the services of a sitting High Court judge from outside the State for the probe into the recent liquor tragedies.

The Cabinet on Wednesday authorised the Chief Minister, Mr. E. K. Nayanar, to contact the Supreme Court and High Courts in other States to see whether a sitting judge would be available for the probe.

The Chief Minister told presspersons after a Cabinet meeting that he and the Law Minister, Mr. E. Chandrasekharan Nair, had talked to the Acting Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, Ms. K. K. Usha, on sparing the services of a judge for the inquiry. However, she had written that it would not be possible to spare the services of a judge as many cases were pending disposal before the court.

Mr. Nayanar said the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. A. K. Antony, had sought a campaign against consumption of liquor through educational institutions. Mr. Antony also wanted such a campaign to be made part of the People's Plan Campaign. This had been approved by the Cabinet and the task entrusted to the Education and Local Administration Ministers.

The Chief Minister said that reports about the involvement of the Revenue Minister, Mr. K. E. Ismail, in the Periya timber scandal were untrue.

Asked about the closure of the Travancore Titanium Products, Mr. Nayanar said the factory was closed temporarily as several rounds of talks had failed. Further attempts would be made to resolve the issue through talks.

He said the demand of the local people for 25 per cent reservation for them in all jobs at the factory could not be conceded. Already 25 per cent of jobs in some categories were being given to the locals.

On the torture of the KSU(I) leader, Mr. Nishad, by SFI workers at the University College, the Chief Minister said the college unit of the SFI had been dissolved. Police had registered a case. Mr. Nayanar said he was not aware of the case of an SFI student beating up a teacher.

The Chief Minister said Rs. 129.95 lakhs would be granted for the Onattukara Drainage and Flood Protection Scheme Phase I. The Kerala State Wood Industries would be allowed to draw Rs. 165 lakhs from the Consolidated Fund of the State for clearing its liabilities with the State Bank of India.

The benefit of ex-gratia pension scheme would be extended to teaching and non-teaching employees of aided and private schools, employees of local bodies and permanent employees with retrospective effect from October, 1999.

The Cabinet decided to give five plots at Bakel to hotel groups such as Obroi and Taj. A committee has been constituted to work out the details. The committee will consist of the Secretaries for Tourism, Expenditure and Revenue, the Kasaragod District Collector and the Managing Director of Bakel Tourism Resorts Limited. The lease rent will be 8 per cent of the money spent for development of the plots and infrastructure at Bakel. The hotel groups will be required to build hotels within 18 months.

The Palakkad Chembai Smaraka Government Music College will be upgraded and affiliated to the Calicut University. The existing courses will be restructured. The income limit applicable to trainees of Vocational Training Centres for getting stipend will be increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 24,000 a year.