KERALA

Briefly

Tsunami rehabilitation

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM MARCH 17. An official conference, convened by the Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, to review the progress in the rehabilitation of victims of the tsunami, resolved to complete the works by the end of May, as scheduled earlier. Department heads were authorised to acquire land identified for settling people who had lost their property also. Voluntary agencies have already been allowed to build houses for others as per specified design. The Chief Minister told presspersons after the conference that work on the temporary shelters for the displaced at all places were nearly complete. For permanent homes, the plan to build flats had been dropped. Instead one or two-storeyed buildings would be built. The two-storeyed house would only have a room in the upper floor. He said that of the Rs.100 crores allocated by the Centre, Rs.94 crores had already been allocated to various departments for relief and rehabilitation.

Re-examination on March 29

The re-examination for the higher secondary students who could not appear for the examination held on March 10 because of the trouble in some parts of Kannur district will be held on March 29, according to a statement from the Director of Higher Secondary here today. The examination centre is the Kannur Pala Government Higher Secondary School. The students of the other examination centres also should report at this school with their hall tickets. The examination will be from 2 to 5 p.m. The students who wish to appear for the re-examination should inform the Chief Superintendent of the Pala School of their register number and subject through the Chief Superintendents of their respective examination centres before March 22.

Trains partially cancelled

Train services will be stopped for four hours from 10 a.m. between Thuravur and Kumbalam from March 19 to April 19, except Sundays, to undertake urgent engineering maintenance work between Thuravur and Kumbalam on the Ernakulam-Alappuzha stretch. According to the railways, the 6346 Thiruvananthapruam-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express will stop for 25 minutes at Thurvur during the period in view of the work. The 6307/6308 Alappuzha-Kannur-Alappuzha Expresses will be partially cancelled between Ernakulam Junction and Alappuzha. The 335/334 Ernakulam-Kayamkulam-Ernakulam Passenger trains will also be partially cancelled between Ernakulam and Shertalai during the period to undertake the work.

Programme for panchayat chiefs

The Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, is holding a three-day programme on fiscal issues and panchayats for panchayat presidents of southern States here from March 18. The participants are coming to study the Kerala model of fiscal decentralisation. The resource persons of the programme include M.A. Oommen, S.M. Vijayanand, K.K. George, Joy Elamon and George Mathew. After a two-day programme at the State Planning Board, the participants will visit Karakulam panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram district for a field study. The programme is being organised as a part of building a National Resource Centre for panchayats and forming an Association of Local Government Institutions.

Auto drivers warned

The Controller of Legal Metrology has warned of stringent action against autorickshaw drivers who collect additional charge by tampering the meter. In a press note here today he asked the people to bring such cases that came to their notice to the department's attention. The warning has been issued in the light of complaints that some autorickshaw drivers are collecting 50 per cent additional fare between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. by getting the additional fare shown on their electronic meters with the help of optional clock mechanism and some others are collecting the additional fare at other times also with the help of a night switch installed on the meter.

Traders for stir

KOCHI MARCH 17. The Ernakulam Merchants Union demanded that the Government withdraw the decision to implement value added tax (VAT) this year. The Union decided to go ahead with the agitation against implementing the proposals in the present form. The annual meeting of the Union urged the Government to conduct discussions with representatives of the traders. There were several proposals in the proposed Act harmful to the traders and these needed amendment. The proposals were not simple or transparent, the Union said in a statement. The Union pointed out the drawbacks in the proposals, but no corrective steps were taken, the statement said.

Country-made bombs seized

KANNUR MARCH 17. The police today seized 11 country-made bombs and some weapons from the violence-hit Punnad under the Iritty police station limits. The police said that the explosive devices were found in a plastic bucket left abandoned in a narrow lane at Purappara in Punnad in the morning. The police defused the bombs. A sword and a hatchet were seized from a house compound at Purappara.

`Parallel DCC' condemned

KOLLAM March 17. The `parallel DCC' formed by the `I' group in the district has drawn flak from the other three groups in the party.

In a joint statement here today, leaders of these groups wanted all the DCC office-bearers who are members of the `parallel DCC' to be suspended from the party. The signatories to the statement are secretaries of the Kollam DCC — A. Shahnavas Khan, C.R. Najib, Thodiyur Ramachandran, A.S. Nauld, M. Bhaskaran, Nedungolam Reghu, Karikathil Prasenan, Kaikara Nawab and Rema Rajan. According to them, the `parallel DCC' forms part of a conspiracy hatched by the former KPCC president K. Muraleedharan and the CPI(M) State secretary, Pianrayi Vijayan. The aim is to pawn the KPCC with the CPI(M). True Congressmen in the State will oppose any such move, they said.

BSNL staff strike hits work

PATHANAMTHITTA MARCH 17. The three-day old indefinite work-to-rule agitation launched by the officers of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has affected the State's telecommunication network. The strike has affected the mobile and land phone network of the BSNL as well as private phone operators in the State. The functioning of internet service providers, including Sancharnet and Sify, too was affected with frequent interruptions. The cellular service of private operators too faced frequent signal failures as their inter-connectivity point was through the BSNL network.

VHP shibiram

KOLLAM March 18. The district shibiram of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will be held at Madhava Sadanam Auditorium here at 10 a.m. on March 18. The VHP district president, S. Nalinakshan, said the shibiram would be inaugurated by the VHP's national prachar pramukh, Vishweshwar Dwivedi.

Legal workshop

A legal workshop for advocates organised by the district unit of the All India Lawyers Union (AILU) here on March 19 will be inaugurated by the Kerala High Court Judge K.T. Shankaran. The AILU district president, E. Shahnavas Khan, will preside. The academic session includes classes on criminal trial and civil trial.

Hailed

KOZHIKODE MARCH 17. The Kerala Private Pharmacists Association (KPPA) has welcomed the decision of the Cabinet to set up a welfare scheme for providing pension and other welfare measures to pharmacists working in private medical shops. In a statement here on Thursday, the KPPA general secretary, Jayan Koroth, said the welfare fund was a long-standing demand of the association. The KPPA demanded that the Government initiate measures to end the deadlock in the pharmaceutical sector in connection with the imposition of VAT. Owing to the month-old protest by pharmacists, there was scarcity of immunisation vaccines and drugs for asthma, blood pressure and other ailments, it said.

Medical camp

Immunisation against jaundice will be provided free for those suffering from blood-related ailments under the aegis of the Malabar Childhood Cancer Thas and Haemophilia Society. The camp in this connection will be held at the Vypara Bhavan complex here on Sunday. Awareness classes will also be conducted for the participants on the occasion, the president of the society said.

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