KOZHIKODE MARCH 24. The annual general body meeting of the Wayanad and the Kozhikode units of the Central Government Pensioners Association (CGPA), Kerala was held at Town Hall here on Tuesday. The State general secretary of the Association, T. A. Sudhakaran, inaugurated the meeting.

The meeting noted that the tax burden of the pensioners will increase manifolds as per the new budget.

The meeting demanded sanctioning of Rs. 1,000 as festival allowance and formation of the sixth pay commission. P. Sekharan Nair presided.

AITUC union threatens strike

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM March 24. The AITUC-led All India Federation of Electricity Employees has threatened to launch an indefinite strike if the Government goes ahead with the decision to bifurcate the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and form two companies. In a statement here today, the Federation regional secretary, A. N. Rajan, urged the State Government to cancel its decision to bifurcate the Board and approach the Central Government for clearance to keep the Board in its present shape. Bifurcation would only result in privatisation of the KSEB, he alleged.

Youth development centre

The State-level inauguration of the Rural Information Technology Youth Development Centre (RITYDC) being set up in 13 districts of the State by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will be held in Ernakulam on March 28. The zonal director of the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, R. Cheluvaraj, and the regional coordinator, S. Satheesh, told a press conference here today that the centres were being set up to provide information to the rural youth on the development and welfare schemes of the Government and on education and employment opportunities. The application forms of all Union Ministries will be made available at the centre. The centre will conduct educational guidance programmes for the youth. A financial assistance of Rs.1.20 lakhs has been made available through the Nehru Yuva Kendra to each centre. The Government has sanctioned 146 centres in the country and all districts, except Pathanamthitta, in Kerala will have the centre.

Fall in water level

When compared to last week, the water levels of the three major reservoirs of Kerala - Idukki, Idamalayar and Kallada - recorded a decline. At Idukki, the level declined from 2334.34 ft. to 2331.50 ft., at Idamalayar from 469.13 ft. to 464.70 ft. and at Kallada from 340.49 ft. to 334.97 ft. However, when compared to last year, the water levels of two reservoirs were higher. According to the figures released by the Central Water Commission, the water levels at Idukki was higher by 11.08 ft. and Idamalayar by 8.34 ft. The water level was down by 1.12 ft. at Kallada.

Call tariff revised

The tariff of calls from local Public Call Offices (PCOs) has been revised with effect from April 1. For CCB type PCOs, pulse within SDCA to basic services, pulse within circle to BSNL cellular mobile and pulse within circle to other cellular mobile number will be 60 seconds. In other local PCOs, pulse within SDCA to basic services will be 90 seconds, pulse within circle to BSNL cellular mobile will be 60 seconds and pulse within circle to other cellular mobile number will be 45 seconds.

`95' level will be barred for all types of local PCOs. Call charges a pulse will be Rs.1.20 for push button type PCOs and Re.1 a pulse for CCB type PCOs as well as PCOs provided to handicapped persons. Franchisee commission will be 30 paise a pulse for all types of local PCOs.

DYFI to organise human chains

PALAKKAD MARCH 24. The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) will organise two human chains, one from the Coca-Cola plant at Plachimada and the other from the Pepsi plant at Kanjikode to the Collectorate here, on March 29 to protest against the exploitation of groundwater by these companies. In a statement here today, the former DYFI president N.N. Krishnadas, MP, said that when people were not having drinking water, the soft drink companies are illegally drawing huge quantity of groundwater in the area. This deprives the local people even of their drinking water. Prominent personalities from different walks of life will join the human chain. The meeting at the Collectorate will be addressed by the Leader of Opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan, and the writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair. The meeting in front of the Coca-Cola unit will be addressed by Subhashini Ali, former MP, and the writer Sara Joseph and the meeting in front of the Pepsi plant by green activists Medha Patkar, Sugathakumari and others.

Bus operators threaten stir

KOCHI MARch 24. The Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation has threatened to strike work from April 1 in case of another hike in diesel price. In a statement here on Thursday, the Federation president, Khalid Mundappilly, pointed out that the price of diesel had been increased by Rs.2.35 in two instances after the last hike in bus fares. The concession given to students has been increased to 80 per cent from 75 per cent, disregarding the bus operators' demand to cut it down to 50 per cent. The authorities have not considered the request of the bus operators to reduce the tax and fine rates.

The request that the sales tax on diesel be reduced has also been ignored. Apart from all this, the bus operators have also to deal with the corruption prevailing in RTO offices, he said.

Temple ritual

PATHANAMTHITTA MARCH 24. The `kettukazhcha' ritual, which is part of the annual `Uthrasreebali' festival, was held at the famous Sree Vallabha Temple in Thiruvalla today.

The `kettukazhcha' procession began from the Aerankavu Devi Temple at Kavumbhagom, near Thiruvalla, this afternoon. It reached the Sreevallabha Temple around 4.30 p.m.

`Uthrasreebali' will be held at the temple in the early hours of Friday, according to the Tantri, Akeeramon Kalidasa Bhattathiri.

Programme inauguration

KOTTAYAM March 24. The NSS general secretary, P. K. Narayana Panicker, will inaugurate the micro finance credit programme of the Kaduthuruthy SNDP Union here on Monday. The Kaduthuruthy Union, the youngest and 100th Union of the SNDP Yogam, would also celebrate the `Guruvarshom 150' on the occasion. More than 4,000 families who are members of the Yogam branches, family units, vanitha sanghom, youth movement and self-help groups will be the beneficiaries of the Rs.50 lakh project.

IOB's micro-credit

ALAPPUZHA MARCH 24. The Mavelikara branch of the Indian Overseas Bank sanctioned a loan of Rs 1.27 lakh to the Jyothi Swayam Sahaya Sanghom working under the Punalur Social Service Society today as a part of the IOB's initiative at providing loans to self-help groups of women, said a bank release.

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