Ernakulam Read latest news updates from Ernakulam District Kerala in English. Watch Videos and Photos of Exclusive Breaking News. Onmanorama en Tue, 25 Jun 2019 05:56:59 GMT PhD holder plies an auto, now set for a teaching career Muvattupuzha: Inspiring stories often emerge from the campuses of our educational institutions. One such tale is of Dr K P Ajith, the first PhD holder of Thunchathu Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, Tirur. Ajith earns a living by driving an autorickshaw. Head to the autorickshaw stand at Anchalpetty, Muvattupuzha, in Ernakulam district and you may get an opportunity to travel in the vehicle driven by him. In fact, Ajith had led a difficult life since a young age and the auto had supported him during the worst days. He had bought the auto with the money he saved together carrying rock at quarries, selling fish in the market and peddling peanuts at festival grounds. This was after he failed in the Class 10 final exams. But the auto had helped him achieve his dream education. Now the doctorate holder is again at the auto stand looking for passengers, to buy a new laptop in place of the one he had lost. A faltering start “If you have a dream, all you need is a deep desire to achieve it and everything will fall in place,” attests Ajith who belongs to Puthenmadom, Kakkattoor. He, in fact, speaks from his life experiences. While he was a small boy, Ajith’s father left his mother Santha. Ajith then lived with his mother and grandmother Chinnamma. The only income for the family was the paltry wages they earned working as labourers on pineapple farms. From Class 8, Ajith joined his mother at the pineapple farm as well as worked as a tapper in rubber plantations, did painting jobs and helped at a catering firm. All these tasks affected his studies and he failed in the Class 10 final exams which he attempted while a regular student at Varappetty NSS Higher Secondary School. Ajith was then forced to work in rock quarries. During free time, he helped fish sellers in the market to earn an extra income. Meanwhile, Ajith felt a deep urge to continue his studies. He picked up his books again and cleared the Class 10 final exam under the SAY (Say a Year) scheme. The youngster subsequently joined Sivamkunnu Government Higher Secondary School for his Plus-Two course. His stream was Humanities, which he passed with 64% marks. Ajith had by now bought an autorickshaw with his savings and used the money earned from driving it to pursue higher studies. He soon joined St Peter’s College, Kolenchery, for his degree course. After plying passengers during the night hours, Ajith attended regular classes in the day. Ajith secured his degree with good marks and joined the Sree Narayana BEd College at Muvattupuzha. He also passed the BEd exam, securing 75% marks. Theatre and songs Even while leading a hand-to-mouth existence, Ajith enjoyed watching dramas. He often picked up the job of a peanut seller at venues of theatre performances which enabled him to watch the dramas along with earning an income. The topic of his PhD thesis was also related to drama, ‘Popular culture and drama songs’. Ajith often wondered why old Malayalam drama songs were still popular among Keralites while the songs in new theatre productions failed to make an impact. When he applied for joining the first MA batch of Malayalam University, the topic for his research had already taken a concrete shape. Ajith then earned this postgraduation in Literary Writing and enrolled for his PhD. His guide for the research project was Dr T Anitha Kumari. Four students of the first research batch, including Ajith, submitted their theses this year. Ajith made history becoming the first person to secure a PhD from the institution as the Malayalam University pickeed up his thesis first for scrutiny. Alongside, Ajith also passed the National Eligibility Test and is about to enter the teaching profession. “I will also set apart a portion of my income for the education of poor students,” he says. Sat, 20 Jul 2019 00:48:51 GMT Restoration of Chinese nets yet to gather steam Fort Kochi: A Kochi without the iconic Chinese nets dotting its shores is unimaginable. Skim through any travel brochure on Kerala and the glossy pictures portraying the charm of Queen of Arabian Sea will have silhouettes of Chinese nets against the backdrop of setting sun. So, the importance of preserving these centuries-old Chinese nets need not be overemphasized. But a project to spruce up the historic fishing nets, which have been attracting foreign tourists to Kerala for long thereby foreign exchange, had been dragging on for the past 5 years. The Rs 1.5 crore project to give a facelift to these age-old nets by retaining their heritage value had been finalized 5 years ago but unfortunately, there is no progress. The Thambakam wood (Iron wood of Malabar), a rare timber, worth Rs 10 lakh, bought to renovate the Chinese nets, had been lying idle at the Vasco da Gama square for close to one year. And it had been 9 months since adequate teak wood of the right size had been marked at the Kothamangalam forests to rebuild these fishing nets but nothing had been done beyond that. The first quantum of Rs 75 lakhs out of the total project outlay was disbursed to KITCO, the premier technical consultancy organization, 5 years ago. The project, which was started during the Congress-led UDF Government, did not make any progress even after the CPI (M)-led LDF Government came to power. The blueprint of the project was prepared to renovate 11 Chinese nets on the seafront here. The project was inaugurated by state Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran many months ago, and KITCO has the responsibility to execute the project that was prepared by the Tourism Department. The second instalment of Rs 45 lakhs was given a year ago, and the Thambakam wood was purchased for Rs 10 lakh. The owners of Chinese nets are happy that requisite wood for renovation had been finally sourced, but they are equally concerned over the inordinate delay in starting the work as the iron pipes used to build the cantilever structure had become rusty and brittle. Paucity of funds cited The work got delayed mainly due to the bottlenecks in procuring teak wood of the right size and age to revamp the Chinese nets. Finally, requisite wood had been marked at the Mullarigode forests coming under Kothamangalam DFO. A team of Chinese net workers and KITCO officials marked 415 logs of wood valued at Rs 80 lakhs as per the seigniorage rate fixed by the state Forest Department. The market value of the marked wood is Rs 1.3 crore. Citing paucity of funds, KITCO requested the Forest Department to release Rs 95 lakhs, but additional funds were not allocated resulting in a delay in executing the project. Cutting of trees marked for wood is getting delayed as the entire amount should be transferred to the Forest Department before sourcing the wood. The Chinese net workers are a worried lot as they apprehend that the markings on trees might have faded due to the long delay. Nod given for Rs 95 lakhs The Tourism Department officials said that an additional Rs 95 lakhs had been sanctioned for the project following a request from KITCO, and the process to transfer the funds to KITCO is in the final stage. Meanwhile, it is learnt that KITCO had given a letter to the DFO to cut more than half of the marked trees with the available funds. The remaining wood will be sourced after KITCO gets additional funds from the Tourism Department. Majority of Chinese nets in danger Centuries-old 11 Chinese nets are present here and the majority of them are non-operational before of soil deposits. Currently, 6 Chinese nets are being used and out of these 2 nets are in danger of giving way due to rusty pipes. Kennedy, an owner of Chinese nets, said that close to Rs 25,000 had to be pumped to repair the pipes as the nets could not be used. As the iron pipes would be replaced with wood structures under the project, the money invested in repairing the pipes would only go down the drain, said the Chinese net owners. The owners had to shell out lakhs of rupees to place the Chinese nets away from the shores to ward off the soil deposit menace, but the efforts went in vain due to fresh soil deposits. Water metro jetty and Chinese nets The Chinese net owners are concerned about the proposed water metro jetty as the nets may have to be shifted from the area. But the water metro officials had confirmed that the jetty had been designed not to disturb the Chinese nets. There are 4 Chinese nets, only 3 are being used, at the space opposite to the corporation zonal office here that had been earmarked for building the water metro jetty. It is learnt that the Chinese nets would not be shifted from here and they would only be repositioned to ensure that the nets are 20ft apart from each other. Mix of Chinese nets and hotels After the Chinese nets are renovated, restaurants will be opened on the platforms of these historic nets. The fish caught in these Chinese nets will be cooked and served to tourists and this facility is bound to be an instant hit among the travellers. The outlay to spruce up a Chinese net and open a food joint is around Rs 22 lakh. Teak wood, Thambakam wood, coconut timber and Anjili (Artocarpus Hirsutus) wood will be used to refurbish various parts of the Chinese nets. Earlier, there were 23 Chinese nets but now only 11 are in existence. The Chinese net is also known as society net, ‘karippu’ net, bank net, ‘Kochu’ net, ‘pangan’ net and American net. K J Maxi MLA “The funds set aside for the renovation of Chinese nets were transferred to KITCO in two instalments. The unavailability of teak wood had been sorted out. The Minister launched the project a year ago but the work is dragging on due to the inefficiency of KITCO.” Dominic Presentation (former MLA) “The project was started in 2014 and Rs 75 lakh was given to KITCO. The ineptness of KITCO resulted in the project getting delayed. People’s representatives should take the initiative to expedite the project.” Derson Antony (Coordinator of Cochin Chinese Net Owners Association) “It has been 9 months since trees in the forest had been marked for wood. Re-marking should be done if the earlier markings could not be spotted. KITCO has received Rs 1.20 crore in 2 instalments for the execution of the project. KITCO delayed sourcing of teak wood citing lack of funds despite having Rs 1.20 crore with them.” Thu, 18 Jul 2019 00:59:22 GMT Police foil bid to sell antique conch for Rs 35 lakh in dramatic fashion Aryanad: The illegal sale of antique items is not uncommon in Kerala. Cracking down on yet another such attempt in this regard, the police have seized a rare conch weighing around 2 kg. Some people had planned a fraud using the conch saying that its possession would bring wealth and prosperity. The Rural Shadow Police, Thiruvananthapuram intercepted three persons belonging to Uzhamalakkal in Pulimoodu while they were trying to sell the conch and took them into custody. The men were questioned by the Aryanad police but were let off. No cases have been registered in this regard. The conch that has been taken into custody by the police will be sent for analysis at the Archaeology Lab. Further action would be initiated after the lab files its report, said Nedumangad DySP Stuart Keeler and Aryanad police inspector Yahya. The Shadow team had launched a probe into the matter based on a tip-off received by the Nedumangad DySP. A cop posed as a buyer and approached the sellers of the conch. The price demanded by the men who had the conch was Rs 35 lakh. But after some bargaining, the amount was finally fixed at Rs 25 lakh. According to the police, the deal was struck on Thursday last. One among the vendors demanded that an amount should be shown to convince them that the buyer was genuine. The sellers were shown the money at a place near Kulappada and the cop acting as the buyer was taken to the house were the conch was kept. The sale was to take place in the bedroom of the house but a police team arrived at the spot and picked up the fraudsters. Mon, 15 Jul 2019 00:51:56 GMT School student kicked on chest, thrown out of private bus Muvattupuzha: That private bus operators in Kerala are not keen to take students as passengers is a well-known fact. Reports of bus crew misbehaving with students are also common. In yet another such incident, a plus-one student was kicked on his chest and thrown out of a private bus near here. The boy, who suffered injuries in the incident, has been admitted to General Hospital, Muvattupuzha. The victim is Anchal (17), a student at Ebenezer higher secondary school, Vittoor and the son of Suresh, residing at Pazhambillikkudy, Mangalath Nada. There is swelling on the boy’s chest. He has been asked to undergo a scan as fracture to the ribs is suspected. The incident took place around 4.30 pm near Ebenezer school on Friday last. While Anchal was boarding the bus along with other students to go home after his classes, the bus conductor suddenly kicked him. The boy fell on the road and was rushed to the hospital by his schoolmates and the local people. According to students, the person who kicked Anchal was Binoy, who worked in the private bus that conducted service on the Muvattupuzha - Ernakulam route. The police have registered a case against the bus staff. Private bus staff often halt the vehicle far away from the designed stop and start the bus before students get in. This leads to a number of accidents causing injuries to students. One month ago, a student had fallen from a bus plying on the same route and suffered grievous injuries. Several complaints have been raised regarding the excess speed of private buses along Muvattupuzha - Kakkanad route and the bad treatment of passengers by staff. Student organisations took out marches at various places in Ernakulam district in protest against the incident in which Anchal was injured. The Muvattupuzha Assembly committee of Kerala Students’ Union (KSU) demanded the arrest of the bus employees involved. Mon, 15 Jul 2019 00:51:02 GMT Man in the guise of football coach abuses students, arrested Kolenchery: A 47-year-old man, accused of sexually abusing school students under the pretext of football coaching, has been arrested here in Kerala's Ernakulam district. The fake football coach, identified as E V Shaji of Konthuruthy in Kochi, was nabbed by the cops. He was absconding so far. Claiming to be a Kerala Football Association coach, Shaji held selection trials at Wayanad, Malappuram and Kasaragod districts for school students. He assured them selection to a top football academy. He sexually abused the students while conducting combined training for classes 7 and 8 at a school that falls under the jurisdiction of the Puthenkurish police station. The abuse was revealed during a counselling session held for students at the school and subsequently teachers filed a complaint with the Child Welfare Committee on December 17. The complaint was then handed over to the Puthenkurish Police, who issued a lookout notice against the accused after he went into hiding. The police recently received a tip-off that Shaji would be coming to his home town from Chennai. During a recce the accused was held. Sun, 07 Jul 2019 05:38:57 GMT Cast your 'vote' for the best employee at the Collectorate Kakkanad: A unique employee appraisal method has been launched at the Ernakulam District Collectorate. The public seeking various services would now be able to cast their ‘votes’ to select the best employee of the month. On the day he took over, the new Collector S Suhas had promised to institute a ‘Collector’s employee of the month’ award by considering the views of the public approaching the Collectorate for various needs. True to the Collector’s word, an ‘award box’ has been placed at the Collectorate building in which the public can submit their choice for the best employee award. The award would be presented every month to inspire employees to provide quality service to the people and increase the efficiency of the work done at the Collectorate. Factors that would be taken into consideration for selecting the winner include exemplary behaviour, speed with which the files are moved and excellence in service. The feedback box is installed at the entrance counter of the Collectorate to enable public to record their experiences at the Collectorate and their views on the employees. On the last working day of every month, the box would be opened and the comments of the people checked. Based on the feedback, the best employee would be selected. Staff working in sections that do not deal with the public also will not be ignored. They will be selected for a special award considering how efficiently they close files, attendance and related matters. Sat, 06 Jul 2019 11:09:45 GMT Guppy is no small fry, national contest in the offing as Kerala eyes export Vypeen: Small tropical fish guppy has fascinated both scientists and children alike. In Kerala, guppy was earlier a fish reared by school kids for fun. Later, its abilities to control mosquitoes were recognised. But now some in the coastal state, realising that guppy is no small fry but a fish that earns millions as foreign exchange for countries like Thailand and Malaysia, are determined to follow that path and have planned major events to promote it. As a result of their efforts, Vypeen in Ernakulam district will be hosting an international guppy exhibition and India’s first national guppy competition under the aegis of the Indian Guppy Club. The date is September 13 and the venue Sahodaran Ayyappan Memorial at Cherayi. Fisheries Minister of Kerala Mercykutty Amma unveiled the poster of the national guppy contest recently. In the past, guppy (Poecilia reticulata) was known by its pet name ‘sari wala’ considering the shape of its tail fins and vibrant colours. School students purchased the fish in plastic covers and brought them home. Later, it was scientifically proved that guppy feed on mosquito larva. This discovery increased the demand for the fish in the pets market. However, Keralites were still ignorant about the real potential of guppy which is also known as millionfish and rainbow fish. A star in foreign markets Kerala subsequently stumbled on the fact that guppy earns significant amounts of foreign exchange for countries like Thailand and Malaysia. Internet research and follow-up measures made people like Saji Cherian of Cherayi an expert in guppy rearing. He and others pursuing the passion have enhanced the chances of Kerala becoming the export hub of guppy in India. Numerous varieties But even Siju is clueless about the number of guppy varieties available. “There are at least 100 different types of guppy. Moreover, breeders are introducing several new varieties regularly,” he informs. An oviparous fish, guppy varieties are distinguished by the colour of the tail and body. The ‘stars’ among the guppies are HB Blue, HB White, Albino Full Red, Moscow Blue, Blue Grass, Red Lace and Blue Topaz. More than the varieties, how they are bred and reared counts more in competitions, says Siju. Kerala ideal clime Earlier, school children were the ‘brand ambassadors’ of guppy. But now youngsters attending college have taken over the role. They not only buy and rear the fish but some also resort to breeding. “The conditions in Kerala are most suitable for breeding guppy. Even though they are a tiny fish, space is important for guppy. Moreover, Kerala’s climate and the availability of water here are an advantage,” points out Siju. Incidentally, Siju has won several awards in guppy contests, including that of the second runner-up at the Guppy Challenge hosted by Malaysia. Apart from Siju, other office-bearers of Guppy Club are P V Suvin, Siddique Jalal, K B Nijas and Dr R G Sooryakanth. Sat, 06 Jul 2019 10:50:42 GMT A new building for SIB nestles old vision – progress for all Kochi: One of the earliest banks that came into being during the Swadeshi movement, South Indian Bank was the fulfilment of the dreams of a group of enterprising men who joined together at Thrissur, now the cultural capital of Kerala. With the vision to provide for the people a safe, efficient and service oriented repository of savings and to free the business community from the clutches of greedy money lenders, the bank sought to make sweeping changes and be an agent of progress. On Monday, the foundation stone was laid for South Indian Bank's Administrative Block II at Rajagiri Valley, Kakkanad in Kochi. The foundation stone was laid jointly by VG Mathew, Managing Director & CEO of the Bank and Salim Gangadharan, Chairman, in the presence of Thomas Joseph K, EVP (Operations) and Raphael TJ, CGM & CIO. The new 2 lakh sq. ft facility will have more than 1500 seats and will house all the centralized processing centres operating from different premises in the state. Despite the passing of years and the advent of technology, South Indian Bank has been able to shield itself and their founding father's vision while adapting itself to be a vibrant, fast growing, and trendsetting intermediary in this competitive financial landscape. Tue, 02 Jul 2019 12:23:25 GMT African snails rear their heads again near Paravur Paravur: With the advent of monsoon season, the highly invasive giant African snails are rearing their heads again at a few places in Kerala's Ernakulam district. Hundreds of snails could be found on walls and open land after a spell of heavy downpour. They are seen at Peruvaarum, Thonyakavu, Nanthiattukunnam, Poosharippadi, Vazhikulangara and Kedamangalam localities near Paravur town. The snail menace can spread to other places if the rain intensifies. Snails could be seen sticking on to cots and utensils posing a serious health risk, especially to children. When the African snails were on a rampage two years ago, the health wing of the corporation had sounded a warning that diseases such as meningitis can spread through these shelled creatures. The African snails, which are bigger than the normal snails, can destroy agricultural crops, and an injury caused by snail shell can take time to heal. The snails can also adversely affect the cultivation of spinach, ginger, yam, arbi, long beans, ladies finger and bananas. Plantain trees can fall over, tapioca can change colour as snails are decimating standing crops at many places. The African snails were first found in the Paravur municipal limits 9 years ago. They were initially spotted at Thonyakavu region, and now they are a threat to people residing in 8 other wards. There is a strong demand to launch organised snail-eradication measures before the situation gets out of control. Antidote to menace Though there is a respite from the menace by sprinkling salt or tobacco water over the snails, the efforts to eradicate the snails are yet to achieve desired results. It has been found tobacco-copper sulphate mixture is the best bet against the shelled gastropod. Snails can be destroyed by sprinkling a mixture of tobacco and copper sulphate. About 25 grams of tobacco should be boiled in one-and-a-half litres of water for 10 minutes or 25 grams of tobacco in 1 litre of water should be kept overnight. 60 grams of copper sulphate should be mixed in 1 litre of water. Both the solutions should be mixed properly and sprinkled on the snails. Cabbage leaves and tapioca sticks could be kept over moist gunny bags to attract the snails and later they could be destroyed. Dos and don’ts Don’t touch snails without proper gloves. Stay away from snail secretions. Vegetables should be cleaned properly to wash away snails’ secretions and excretions. Boil water before drinking as snails could be found on the inner walls of the well. African snails are not edible. Wed, 26 Jun 2019 00:45:12 GMT Employer kills man for drinking leftover booze Kochi: The number of murders and attacks carried out by inebriated individuals have been on a dramatic rise in the state of Kerala in the past year or so. The latest on the list is the murder of a worker at a poultry farm at Pothanikkad in Kothamangalam. Prasad was found dead on the terrace of the farm owner Sajeevan's house on Saturday morning. A pistol used by Sajeevan was found from the spot in a damaged condition. The murder was cracked when the cops took Sajeevan into custody and questioned him. Though an employer and employee, there were no class differences between Sajeevan and Prasad. Prasad worked at Sajeevan's farm, but they were good friends. They often had a drink or two together. Last Friday, the two started having drinks and finished half-a-litre by evening. Insatiated, they bought half-a-litre more of liquor from town. After having a peg each from the bottle, Sajeevan asked Prasad to go home after keeping the bottle on the terrace. Later at night, Sajeevan returned to the terrace to continue drinking, only to find Prasad still there. On being asked why he returned, Prasad told him that he came back to finish the remaining booze in the bottle. When Sajeevan came to know that the booze that he had kept for himself was finished off by Prasad, he was furious. An argument followed. Sajeevan fetched an air gun from downstairs. Using the stock in the gun, he hit Prasad on his head and face. The man died immediately. The air gun broke into two. Sajeevan told the police that he did not intend to kill Prasad. After ensuring that Prasad had passed away, Sajeevan devised a means to escape. He decided to plant a story. Prasad, Sajeevan and another friend had decided to go to Sajeevan's farm at Rajakkad on Saturday early morning. They had booked an auto run by Ranjith who lives nearby. Without knowing about Prasad's death, Ranjith came to Sajeevan's house on Saturday morning. Sajeevan chose not to not tell Ranjith about what had happened the previous night. He told Ranjith to call Prasad and ask him to be ready for the journey. Ranjith called on Prasad's mobile. When the call didn't connect, Sanjeevan told Ranjith that Prasad might have slept on the terrace and they both reached there. Though Sajeevan was able to fool Ranjith, he broke down during questioning. He told th cops what had happened. The statements of Ranjith and Sajeevan's wife that she had heard disturbances from the terrace at night were the key clues. The probe was led by Aluva ASP M J Sojan and Pothanikkad CI Suresh Kumar. Mon, 24 Jun 2019 10:35:38 GMT Kochi's active libraries include one in a defunct waiting shed Kochi: Book reading as a habit still survives in the hinterlands of Kerala despite changes in entertainment modes brought about with the advent of television and internet. The success of a defunct bus waiting centre which was turned into a makeshift weekly library is testimony to this. The T S Murali Memorial Open Library is functioning near Vaduthala railway gate since the past eight months on Sundays. It was inaugurated on October 22, 2018 after the waiting centre became orphaned with a change in the bus route. Started with just 100 books, the library now has 600 titles. The first 100 books were purchased; the remaining 500 came as donations. Progressive Arts & Literary Organisation's Vaduthala unit workers are behind the library. The books are kept at the house of Sajan, who lives nearby. On Sunday morning, the books are brought to the bus stand. One can enter his or her name in the register and take home a book. When the book is returned, it has to be entered in the register. On average, 50 people borrow books from the library. “If there is a day when nobody turns up, we will close it," says one of the officebearers K R Muralidharan. But that day is not going to come soon. The library is expanding its reach by conducting literary quiz programmes, review contests, sharing reading experience and others. Sahridaya library Mundangamattom: When it started, the library had a small room with 150 books stuffed inside a crate. Now it is the cultural centre of Mundangamattom village. The library was set up in 1972 and is functioning out of half-an-acre land. The A-plus grade library has around 20,000 books and 750 members. The library has an e-vigyan kendra. Its groups for the elderly, women and children are very active. Two hundred and fifty elderly persons are provided lifetime pension by the library with the help of villagers. It also delivers books for women at the doorstep of their homes. Last year, it won the best library award from the Aluva taluk library council. Mulanthuruthy public library Mulanthuruthy: Not only for literary and history books, students can rely on this library for medical studies too. As part of the reading week, a medical library is being inaugurated here. Books that provide information regarding medical sciences will be available here. Sourced from several countries, the 150 books, which were used by the late Dr Johns P Mathews of Mulanthuruthy in Palakkad, are now available in the library. After the death of Dr Johns Mathews, his wife Dr Mary John donated the books to the library. Before that, the library had general, reference, English and children's sections. The library has hi-tech cataloguing and distribution systems. EMS Cooperative Library, Kakkanad Kakkanad: The data from EMS Cooperative Library shows that though teenagers go crazy after social media, they are not leaving behind reading. In the last one year, 800 students have become members of the library. However, more than books that help in studies, children go for general reading. Majority of the members are in the 12-15 age group. Established two decades ago under the aegis of the district cooperative bank, the library is a known cultural centre too. It has 15,097 members and 90,473 books. The custodian of the personal book collection of M Krishnan Nair, the library has a special section for them. It has hi-tech facilities, including audio formats of scanned books for visually challenged people. Letters that took a rebirth Paravur: Twenty-five out of 27 libraries that were destroyed in the floods last year have been renovated. Books that were destroyed have been replaced with new ones. It is estimated that books worth Rs 90 lakh were destroyed in the floods. Equipment like computers, mike sets, inverters and others were also damaged. The 85-year-old Chendamangalam Nair Samajam Library itself lost about 14,000 books. Some of those books included over 100-year-old ones and rare works. It managed to collect 3,000. The Gothuruthy village library lost 7,000 titles. It too has managed to collect 3,000 books. Libraries that suffered damages such as Vavakad Gurudeva Library, Kadungalloor Mangalodayam Library, Chathedam Thiruvathippuram Village Library, Sadgamaya Library Koottukad, Paravuthara Public Library, Kumaramangalam Asan Memorial Library and Moothakumman Asan Memorial Library all up and running now. Vayanamuttam Vayanashala Udayamperur Udayamperur: Kudumbashree and literature? Well, dispelling doubts about the literary leanings of Kudumbashree, the state's women empowerment and poverty eradication mission's Vayanamuttam Vayanashala has entered the second year of its successful existence. The library includes the Kudumbashree members of the ward number 18, four elderly neighourhoods and four children's groups. The library has about 600 books. The Vayanamuttam is led by ADS chairperson Praveena Sunil. A room in Praveena's house has been converted into the library. All Kudumbashree units in the ward have started reading books. Members can't just take books and return them without reading; because the monthly gatherings will discuss the books read by members. Tagore Library, Karuvelipady Mattancherry: Tagore Library, which had organised the largest number of activities related to reading and other people's issues, is one of the best libraries in west Kochi. The women's wing with its monthly women empowerment seminars, editor's forum with discussions on general issues and the children's wing with its general knowledge programmes are quite active here. Every week, children are introduced to new books that are launched and main news reports that appear in newspapers are taken up for discussion. Reports that appear in Malayala Manorama's Padippura and others are discussed at the general knowledge programmes. To inculcate awareness about literary works, it has a programme called 'Ezhuthupetti'. An Ezhuthupetti was set up at Thoppumpady St Sebastian's School during the Reading Day. Sahithyaposhini Vayanashala, East Kadungallur Aluva: Everything is 'cool' at East Kadungallur Sahithyaposhini Vayanashala. In the district, this is the only library that is air-conditioned. The installation of the air conditioner has resulted in a rise in the number of visitors, say office-bearers. The reading room was airconditioned when it was renovated at a cost of Rs 5 lakh after the floods. Since the library is under the cooperative bank, the fund was provided by the bank. Otherwise, the 75-year-old library might have become history with the floods. After the floods, publishers donated 2,000 books. Books were also bought using the grant from the library council. Weekly and monthly publications are sponsored by local residents. It also holds the honour of being the first library started under a cooperative bank in the state. Gramakshemam Library Manjapra Angamaly: Manjapra Gramakshemam Library offers enough avenues to read and grow. In order to boost reading habit, the library offers free membership for students up to class 10, holds reading contests, and provides home delivery of books. A 'kudipallikoodam' has been set up to promote Malayalam. Library committee members visit houses and collect books under its 'Love my library' project. A reading club was set up on the Reading Day. It will also start a weekly programme that will discuss a variety of topics this month. General Hospital Vayanakoottam There is a place to read at Ernakulam General Hospital. It has been set up under the leadership of a group of teachers and students of Maharajas College. The idea was proposed by the college unit of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, said the unit's secretary and history professor M H Ramesh Kumar. The NCC unit in the college too offered support. The aim of the initiative is to provide patients and those taking care of them some comfort in the form of books. The book shelf has been set up at the ENT OP section of the hospital. Books of Malayala Manorama Publications are also available here. It is planning to set up book cupboards in every ward. They are getting the support of the hospital superintendent and other officials in this initiative. In future, when the hospital gets a new building, space will be allotted for setting up a reading room. Children's books at a discount Kerala Book Mark will organise a reading week until June 26. As part of the function, books published by the Kerala State Institute of Children's Literature will be offered at 30% discount at the Book Mark's branch at Boat Jetty Revenue Tower. The timing is from 10 am to 6 pm. Secretary A Gokulendran said that books published by government establishments will also be available at a reduced price. (Ph: 0484-2374913.) Sun, 23 Jun 2019 01:08:48 GMT Youth livestreams suicide bid in video call, cops trace him Angamaly: A youth, who livestreamed his suicide attempt through a WhatsApp call to his lover, was found in bushes near a railway track with his veins cut. The police found the college student, hailing from Idukki, near a railway track between the Elavur railway overbridge and the Karukutty railway station. The youth called the Kottayam native girl and told her that he was going to die in the bushes. The girl ended the call and informed the Kottayam police. The cops identified the call location and alerted Angamaly police. Subsequently, a search carried out by the cops led them to the youth, who has been admitted to Little Flower Hospital. The youth, who studies in Kottayam, made the attempt on his life while returning after meeting his lover. The cops found him after a two-hour search around 8 pm in a critical condition. Though the cops passed by the area twice they could not spot the youth initially. The area is deserted and is one-and-a-half kilometre away from the Karukutty railway station. The cops had to carry him all the way till the railway station. Admitted to the ICU, the youth is now out of danger, said the hospital authorities. Thu, 20 Jun 2019 12:08:33 GMT Nothing to say, says Sreedharan after flyover inspection Kochi: A team led by renowned engineer E Sreedharan carried out an inspection of the Palarivattom flyover before the government takes a decision on its future. On Monday morning, Sreedharan and the team visited the flyover that has developed large cracks and potholes less than three years of its commissioning due to shoddy construction. The lapses during the construction of the flyover and its condition after the repair works were inspected by the team. After assessing the findings, a report will be submitted to the chief minister. Based on this report, the state government will take a final call on whether the flyover needs to be rebuilt. Every nook and cranny of the flyover was inspected by the team. They started from below. During a break, Sreedharan was seen seated on a chair speaking to the engineers. He gathered information regarding the structure, construction, technology used and other details from PWD engineers who were accompanying him. Questions were also raised about how much the flyover can be fortified through repair works. The inspection that started at 8 am continued for over one-and-a-half hours. However, Sreedharan refused to talk to the media regarding the condition of the flyover or the report that he is going to submit to the CM. He left the site saying, "There is nothing to say." The team included Sreedharan's former colleague and concrete expert at Kanpur IIT Dr Mahesh Tandon, and P Alagu Sundaramurthy from the IIT Chennai. The report regarding the repair works on the flyover was prepared by Alagu Sundaramurthy, who is the professor of the structural engineering department at IIT Chennai. After the inspection, the team also studied the project plan of the flyover. Tue, 18 Jun 2019 07:47:55 GMT Thrippunithura set for change with Kochi Metro extension Kochi: The Kerala Government has given administrative sanction to extend the Kochi Metro network from S N Junction to Thrippunithura railway station. The location of the Metro terminal would be the plot adjacent to the railway station where the municipality is planning to build a bus terminal. The Metro track will reach the terminal from S N Junction via Refinery Road, Milma dairy, across the overbridge and along the right side of the railway track. The Metro track will be laid along the road to the new bus stand. This alignment would enable land acquisition without much expense. About 2.75 acres would have to be acquired. A firm named Seguro Foundations has been entrusted with the task of building a road along the land already acquired. The government had earlier sanctioned an amount of Rs 123 crore for the development of Pettah-S N Junction road. The entire project is expected to change the face of Thrippunithura by transforming the transport sector in the area as the new bus station, Metro and railway station would be next to each other. Kochi Metro services are now in full swing from Aluva to Maharaja’s College ground. By mid-August, this year, the Metro services will be extended to Thaikkudam. Services could start from Pettah by February next year. The first phase of the Kochi Metro project will be completed when it reaches Pettah. However, it was earlier decided to extend the services up to S N Junction in Thrippunithura. After the government gave its sanction for the work, the preliminary steps were launched. The distance from Pettah to S N Junction is 1.2 km and the Metro will have two stations along the stretch. A new bridge will also be constructed at Pettah. The entire cost of the extension would be Rs 359 crore. The S N Junction-Thrippunithura railway station line and Pettah- S N Junction line of the Metro will be built directly by the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL). The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) will supervise the work only from Aluva to Pettah. Mon, 17 Jun 2019 00:48:19 GMT 7 get a new lease of life with organs harvested from brain-dead nurse Kochi/Kottayam: Organ donation is slowly picking up in India as irrational fears and taboos are overcome for a noble cause. Cadaveric donation is also increasingly reported as hospitals and authorities make organised efforts to utilise the organs and tissues of brain-dead and heart-dead people. South Indian states are way ahead in this respect when compared to other parts of the country. The other day the organs of a 25-year-old Keralite woman were harvested as soon as she was declared brain-dead following an accident on June 10 in which her father too had died. The organs from late Nibiya Mary Joseph would give a new lease of life to seven people, including a heart patient in Kottayam district. Her heart would now beat for Sanjeev Gopi, 30, of Changanassery in Kottayam. Car accident Idukki native Nibiya, who was undergoing treatment after she was grievously injured in a car accident at Perumbavur on June 10, succumbed to injuries on Friday. After brain death was confirmed at 7am, her relatives agreed for organ donation. Her father Joseph Chacko was also killed in the accident, while her brother Nidhin who drove the car was undergoing treatment for injuries. Joseph was the owner of Evergreen Enterprises at Chettukuzhi in Idukki. Nibiya, who had worked as a nurse for Apollo Hospitals in Chennai for two years, was trying to find a job abroad. The accident happened when they were heading to Kochi from a relative's house in Kothamangalam. A speeding car which first hit a bike, rammed their vehicle before hitting a school bus. Nibiya's funeral would be held at St Joseph Church at Pazhaya Kochara on Saturday evening. Nirmala is Nibiya's mother, while Nileena is her sister. The beneficiaries After she was confirmed brain dead at the Aster Medcity in Kochi on Friday morning, surgery to harvest Nibiya's organs began by 11am at Aster Medcity in Kochi. Dr Mathew Jacob, Dr Shejoy P Joshua, Dr S Romal, and Kottayam medical college Dr T K Jayakumar led the surgery. Nibiya's eyes were donated to Giridhar Eye Institute in Kochi, one kidney and pancreas to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Edappally; liver to Aster Medcity; heart and one kidney to Kottayam Medical College Hospital. Her heart was taken to Kottayam to be transplanted on to Sanjeev at the Kottayam Medical College Hospital. This was the fifth heart transplant surgery to be carried out successfully at this hospital. New heart for welder The ambulance carrying Nibiya’s heart left Aster Medcity by 2pm and reached the Kottayam hospital within an hour. The surgery led by Kottayam medical college superintendent T K Jayakumar began at 3.30pm and was by completed by 6pm. Sanjeev, suffering from dialectic cardiomyopathy that affects the heart muscles, had been undergoing treatment for five years. Health problems were first detected when he was working as a welder at a workshop in Ernakulam. He had sought treatment at Sree Chitra Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram and the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital. He had been undergoing treatment at the Kottayam hospital for two years. His condition worsened recently after he suffered a stroke. He had registered with the government's organ donation programme, Mrithasanjeevani. As Nibiya's blood group was AB+, it was found to be most suitable for Sanjeev. Sanjeev is the son of Changanassery natives Gopi and Thankamma. He has a twin brother, Sandeep, who works at Thiruvalla. Sandeep had been with Sanjeev after he suffered ailments. Sandeep was also present at the hospital as the surgery on Sanjeev progressed. Rs 11 lakh in one day About Rs 11 lakh was collected for Sanjeev's heart surgery by well-wishers in a single day. Payippad panchayat and Changanassery media village held a widespread campaign to source the money. Rs 2 lakh has been spent on the medical expenses so far. The rest of the money would be used for the heart transplant. His parents are worried about the medical expenses they would incur even after the surgery. 4 years, five hearts Five heart transplants have been carried out at the Kottayam Medical College Hospital so far. The first heart transplant surgery was held in October 2015 on Pathanamthitta native Podimon. Surgery on K K Balan, 51, of Pulpally in Wayanad was held in June 2016, while Basheer, 54, of Edavanakkad underwent surgery in July 2017. The fourth surgery was carried out P Subramanya Bhatt, 51, of Udayamperoor in October 2018. Donate organs Mrithasanjeevani is an initiative of the Kerala Network of Organ Sharing (KNOS) run by the government. Names of patients would be registered with Mrithasanjeevani by hospitals. The name of the beneficiary would be decided by the KNOS state-level committee, which would also consider the health condition of the patient. The hospital where the patient is admitted would be contacted and the procedures for organ donation would be followed. Sat, 15 Jun 2019 08:08:36 GMT Jellyfish influx bothers inland fishermen Palluruthi: Fishermen have been facing myriad problems of late. Apart from decreasing catch, those out in the seas have to be alert to rogue ships and unforeseen weather patterns. Even those resorting to inland fishing have their own set of problems and one being the influx of jellyfish. Fishermen active in the backwaters of Kochi have been facing the menace of jellyfish which damage their nets after getting trapped. The jellyfish or sea jellies have been found in large numbers for the past one month in the backwaters of Kumbalanghi, Edakochi and Palluruthi in Kochi. Jellyfish weighing from 1 kilogram to 6 kg are invading the backwaters on a large scale from the sea. These marine creatures pose a severe threat to fishing as they get caught in the fishing nets. The unlucky fishermen have to struggle for hours to release the jellyfish that get entangled in the nets. Both the Chinese fishing nets and the ordinary ‘neettuvala’ (seine nets) can get extensively damaged by the stinging tentacles of these sea creatures. The backwaters have already been facing an acute shortage of fish in this season. Along with that, the damage caused by the jellyfish has added to the woes of the fishermen. Jellyfish have tentacles as in octopuses to facilitate movement. Some species of jellyfish are consumed as delicacies in Asian countries like Japan, China and Thailand. The reason for this large influx of marine creatures into the backwaters is said to be the rise in the salinity of the backwaters during summer. The presence of jellyfish in the backwaters would decrease only with the decrease in salinity when the monsoon rains get stronger. Wed, 12 Jun 2019 01:04:55 GMT Hands-on panchayat member fixes faulty street lights on his own Vengola, Ernakulam: One complaint that often pesters a people's representative is a dysfunctional street light. And most often, they are not able to find technicians to fix it. But what if the panchayat member takes up the task all by himself? Vengola panchayat member C K Raheem climbed up the post and changed the bulbs. Even though panchayat officials were told several times about the faulty street light, no action was taken. And finally, Raheem had to take up the technician’s job too. Now, he is busy changing the faulty street lights in the ward. Raheem is being applauded from several quarters after his photos changing bulbs were posted on social media platforms. Raheem belongs to the Muslim League. Wed, 12 Jun 2019 01:07:07 GMT Another KSRTC bus takes off without conductor! Koothatukulam: A Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) superfast bus missed taking its conductor along the 18-km stretch of its journey. The Sulthan Bathery-Kottayam bus, RSK 444, travelled from Muvattupuzha to Koothattukulam in Ernakulam district without a conductor on Saturday night. The conductor had got off the bus at the Muvattupuzha around 10pm. Before he could be back on board, a passenger hit the double bell, prompting the driver to resume the journey, it was said. As the bus was full of passengers, neither the bus driver nor the travellers noticed that the conductor was missing. The bus was stopped twice on its way to Kottayam by the passengers who nonchalantly rang the bell for halting the bus and resuming the journey. However, the poor conductor, who was stranded, informed the depot officials about the situation. Before the bus reached Koothattukulam, the message was passed on that depot. The conductor was taken to Koothattukulam on a bike by another driver. If it had not been for the depot officials, who stopped the bus, the driver would have continued its trip from Koothattukulam without the conductor. The conductor finally managed to catch hold of the rogue bus that then resumed its journey to Kottayam. A similar situation was reported two days ago as well. A Kottayam-bound bus travelled for 7km without its conductor. Before the woman conductor who alighted at Muvattupuzha could return, the bus took off. It was only after the bus reached Meenkunnam that the driver realised that the conductor was missing. The bus was then parked by the roadside and resumed the journey only after the conductor got back on it. One of the passengers had inadvertently rung the double bell, prompting the driver to resume. Mon, 10 Jun 2019 06:37:05 GMT Piravom gets a facelift with a riverside park Piravom: To add grace to the morning strolls of local residents, an eco-friendly river-side park has been raised here in Ernakulam district. It has come up along the Kallidumbil Kadavu road at Pazhoor on the banks of Muvattupuzha. The riverbank beautification has been carried out with the assistance of the Kerala Tourism Department. About 500 m of the road adjoining the river was strengthened using concrete at a width of 5 metres. A jetty to promote river tourism has come up next to the park. Benches, e-toilets and pergolas have been provided for the convenience of the public. The entire work cost Rs 2 crore. There are plans to introduce boat services to Kochi as part of promoting village tourism. One may reach the park by taking a deviation of 500 m from Pazhoor Junction at Nadakkavu. As the Monippally-Amballoor road has been completed, those from Kottayam district can reach the riverside park in less time after crossing the Mulakkulam bridge. The idea of an eco-friendly park was presented by the Piravom municipal chairman Sabu K Jacob. An amount of Rs 1.5 crore was sanctioned for the project. Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran inaugurated the park on June 5 at a function presided over by Anoop Jacob, MLA. Prior to the inauguration, a half marathon was conducted from the Piravom bus station premises to the park at 6.30 am. Tue, 11 Jun 2019 06:04:41 GMT Poor upkeep of Chennai Mail sickens travellers Kochi: Grubby floors, stinking toilets and overflowing garbage bins – the list of woes of the passengers of Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram Mail never ends. They are a harried lot as the coaches of the train have not been properly scrubbed and cleaned for the past one year. The travellers are forced to bear with the onboard shoddy facilities ever since the maintenance work of the Chennai mail had been shifted from Chennai to Coimbatore in February 2017 due to its rake link with the Coimbatore-Chennai Cheran Express. It is a sorry state of affairs as one could enter the compartments only after covering the nose to ward off the overpowering stench. The garbage bins are overflowing, the wash basins mucky, and the bio-toilets are non-functional. To make matters worse, rats lurk around the coaches to the chagrin of the travellers. Minimal maintenance work is carried out at the Coimbatore coach depot, which comes under the Salem Division, due to disagreement between the railway officials and the contractor concerned. Railway officials told that they can’t do anything as a case, relating to the dispute, is being heard in a court. Moreover, the workers at the Coimbatore depot don’t have the expertise to handle the modern LHB coaches. The passengers are urging the railways to make alternative arrangements for the upkeep of coaches. Allegations are rife that the Salem Division is giving scant regard for the cleanliness of the train as the train service comes under the Chennai Division. It seems that the Chennai Division too has washed hands of the train service after the maintenance work has been shifted to the Coimbatore depot. The passengers are requesting the railways to delink the rake link of the Chennai mail and move the maintenance work to Chennai Basin Bridge. The Chennai mail is one of the most important train services from the Chennai Division to Kerala, but sadly it not getting due credit. Wed, 07 Nov 2018 10:51:17 GMT Sreedharan warns against quick fixes for badly built Kochi flyover Palakkad: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC)'s principal adviser E Sreedharan has said that the shoddily built Palarivattom flyover in Kochi should be rebuilt. "The quick-fixes currently being carried are out not tenable. The best solution is to rebuild the flyover. Girders have to be replaced with new ones. It is not proper to join girders that have developed cracks," Sreedharan pointed out. "Bridges have a longevity of more than 100 years. No point in trying to maintain the flyover with quick fixes," he added. The Metro Man pointed out that the very design of the flyover was faulty. "It is questionable if the authorities had properly supervised the construction. Not enough diaphragm was used while joining girders, causing the flyover to tremble while vehicles pass over it. It appears as if enough middle diaphragm was not used on the flyover," he explained. Sreedharan also sought to know if it was for the state government to build flyovers on national highways. "The National Highway Authority of India has a system in place. Just to give away contracts, projects such as construction of flyovers should not be started," he said. Noting that a Vigilance probe had been ordered against the officials, Sreedharan said, "When the flyover is in such a precarious situation, engineering experts should be contacted first not Vigilance. Vigilance cannot correct the flaws in the flyover. The same problem was reported on Thirunavaya and Perinthalmanna flyovers in Malappuram district. Still such a serious dereliction of duty has happened. This cannot be accepted," he asserted. The four bridges that the DMRC had built based on own design were completed on time in relatively low budgets. "The estimated cost of constructing Edappally flyover was Rs 54.23 crore. The bridge was completed using Rs 33.12 crore. The rest of the amount Rs 21.11 crore was duly returned," he explained. The bridge, which was opened to the public in October 2016, developed cracked soon at a few spots and subsequently traffic was banned after a month in service. Last month a team of experts from the IIT, Chennai, assessed its condition and advised to fix the flaws. The Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd was behind the project. Bangalore-based Nagesh Consultants, which had designed the flyover, claimed that the it became weak as a result of the wrong placement of its bearings. Sat, 08 Jun 2019 09:26:58 GMT World Cup Cricket: Manorama-Toyota roadshow begins Kochi: Adding excitement to the World Cup cricket, the Malayala Manorama-Toyota Glanza 'One Wicket Fun Wicket' roadshow began on Friday. It was flagged off at 10 am at Kalamassery Nippon Toyota showroom by Kerala cricket captain Sachin Baby, Nippon Motor Corporation directors Atif Moopen Nayeem Saheel, and Toyota Kirloskar Motor regional manager Suresh Puloor. A 'One Wicket' tournament too will be organised as part of the roadshow aimed at helping cricket lovers to relive the excitement. The tournaments to be held at various centres can be participated by people of all ages. Winners can take home exciting prizes. The roadshow will reach 80 centres in different districts in 20 days. Fri, 07 Jun 2019 11:43:35 GMT Navy personnel clean up Cherai Beach Kochi: Naval personnel from the Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology (NIAT) of Southern Naval Command (SNC) undertook a beach cleanup drive at Cherai Beach in Kerala. A total of 75 naval personnel participated in the expedition on Saturday, which got support from the local population and tourists, in ensuring a clean and green ecosystem for future generations, a Defence release said here Sunday. This would give a fillip to the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan campaign and awareness on the occasion of World Environment Day celebrated on June 5, it said. Earlier, the naval personnel conducted a cycling expedition, from Naval Base to Cherai beach and back. The cycling expedition was flagged off by Commodore Kunal Singh Rajkumar, Commodore in charge of Training at SNC. The aim of the beach cleanup and expedition was to promote awareness about environment conservation and to develop camaraderie, sportsmanship, physical fitness as also to encourage green initiatives such as cycling, the release added. Mon, 03 Jun 2019 03:02:58 GMT Broadway set to breathe easy with eviction of encroachers Kochi: The busy Broadway is the trade hub of Ernakulam city. Close on the heels of fire gutting four shops on this landmark road, the civic authorities have launched a clean-up operation to remove illegal extensions which are choking the city’s biggest business street. A civic body team led by Mayor Soumini Jain demolished illegal bunk shops and evicted encroachers. The parking of two-wheelers was confined to a single line to ensure that parked vehicles don’t eat into Broadway’s space. Soumini said that the inspections would be carried out with the help of police to discourage encroachments and illegal parking of vehicles in the coming days. In the backdrop of the fire breakout on Broadway, the authorities would also check whether the business units were following the instructions of the Fire and Rescue Services to ensure fire safety, she noted. The ‘Operation Broadway’ started at 10.30 am on Wednesday. A team of officials and workers from the health department came to Broadway with equipment, including gas cutters and vehicles, to remove the unauthorised structures. The encroachers from the Broadway entrance, near the CSI church, to the Market canal and the illegal bunk shops surrounding the corporation shopping mall were removed in the clean-up drive. Unauthorised extensions protruded from many of the business establishments. Many shops had planks and sheds on the flanks of the main road to hang their products for sale. Boards were also erected which protruded to the pathway causing great distress even for the pedestrians. Majority of these structures and extensions were removed during ‘Operation Broadway’. There were several illegal bunk shops around the corporation’s shopping mall. The bunk shops that were fixed using concrete were removed using gas cutters. Some of these shops functioned as food joints and served food in an unhygienic manner. The unauthorised shops surrounding the shopping mall were a hindrance to fire and rescue operations. The street vendors had decided to remove the bunk shops before the civic officials arrived to demolish the outlets. The civic authorities have decided to evict encroachers from Cloth Bazar road and other artery roads of the Broadway. Parking mess Apart from encroachment, another major issue that is plaguing Broadway is illegal parking. Steps are being taken to stop the practice of parking two-wheelers on different lines on one side of the main road. As banning parking on Broadway could raise serious practical problems, the authorities have decided to restrict the two-wheeler parking to just one line. Besides Mayor Soumini Jain, standing committee chairpersons A B Sabu, P M Haris, Shiny Mathew, councilor Gracy Babu Jacob spearheaded the drive. The clean-up drive would continue in the coming days. Traders upset Though there was protest from street vendors with the backing of certain political leaders, the eviction drive proceeded without any hindrance with the backing of the police. Associations of traders and those running bunk shops protested against the civic body’s clean-up drive. The leaders of the CPM, CITU and BJP supported the erring shop owners. There was altercation between authorities and political leaders. CPM Ernakulam area secretary P N Seenulal and BJP Ernakulam mandalam president C G Rajagopal were at the forefront of protest against ‘Operation Broadway’. They were protesting against the move to demolish shops without any prior notice or intimation. The civic authorities informed the agitating political leaders that the clean-up drive was conducted as per the directions of the Mayor and it cannot be suspended for any reason. More police personnel were deployed in the area following request from the Mayor to the city police commissioner. This prompted the leaders to approach the corporation. A delegation led by ‘Vazhiyora Kachavada Thozhilali’ Union (CITU) district secretary K A Usman, ‘Cherukida Vyapari’ Association district secretary P A Usman and BJP Ernakulam mandalam president C G Rajagopal gave a petition to the Additional Secretary at the corporation office. Mayor was not at the office when the team visited the corporation. The civic authorities alleged that the trade representatives mouthed intimidating slogans against the clean-up drive as they left the corporation office. Rehabilitation project Broadway and the Ernakulam market will get a new face under the projects envisaged as part of the Central Smart City initiative. Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for the restoration of Broadway and Rs 100 crore to revamp the market. A detailed blueprint of the project is being prepared and after that tender will be called for to execute the work. Plans are anvil to spruce up 500 m of main road between CSI church and market canal on Broadway. As part of refurbishing the street, tiles will be paved, street lights will be installed, resting places for customers will be arranged, power cables will be laid underground and basic facilities will be put in place, among others. Parking will be banned on Broadway and the space will be opened exclusively for pedestrians. Vehicles will be allowed to enter Broadway during specified periods to load and unload goods and merchandise. The buildings on Broadway won’t come under the restoration programme as they are owned by private individuals. But there are plans to demolish the buildings at the nearby market and build a multi-storey building with ample parking space. Plans are also on anvil to build a skywalk from the market to Menaka Junction. No bias: Mayor All encroachers on Broadway would be evicted without any notice and action would be taken against defaulters without any bias if the shop owners extend their businesses to pathways, said the Mayor. The parking of two-wheelers on a single line is a temporary arrangement and in future parking would be banned on Broadway. There would be periodic inspections in the future and strict action would be taken against law-breakers, she added. For this, a joint meeting of the police and traffic police would be convened and the help of district collector would be sought, Jain noted. Sat, 01 Jun 2019 06:29:31 GMT Mussels farming helps flood-hit Kerala village Kochi: Farmers, mostly women, of a Kerala village hit by last year's devastating floods have started re-building their lives by adopting scientific farming of mussels. Officials said farmers in Moothakunnam in Ernakulam district have had a bumper harvest of mussels under the guidance of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) - an institute under the Union Agriculture Ministry. Mussels are small, edible sea animals that has a dark shell with two parts that close tightly together. Moothakunnam, a village near Aluva, was one of the worst hit villages in the Kerala floods in August last year. Five self-help groups in the region have reaped a total yield of 6.5 tonnes of mussels in as many as five farming units, CMFRI officials said. The farmers, whose oyster units were destroyed in the deluge, turned to mussel farming in January this year as an additional livelihood option. The farming that lasted five months was carried out under the guidance of the Molluscan Fisheries Division of the CMFRI, a CMFRI release said here. According to officials, as there is no need for feeding, the bivalve farming is less expensive compared to fish farming. However, the initial capital to set up the farming units is the major expense. CMFRI said depurated mussel meat from the farms are now available for sale in the CMFRI. A 250-g packet costs Rs 175, officials said. Mussels are rich in protein, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals (calcium, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus) and vitamins. Thu, 30 May 2019 00:44:43 GMT 'Unlucky' lottery ticket vendor finally becomes crorepati Muvattupuzha: Tamil Nadu native Chellaya never considered himself lucky when most of the customers shrugged off his desperate pleas to buy his lottery tickets, minutes before the draw of Kerala State Vishu Bumper. An unhappy Chellaya had to return home with two unsold tickets. Finally, when the results were out one of the two tickets bearing the number UB 532395 proved to be the game changer. The lottery ticket vendor from Kotai in Tirunelveli became the winner of Rs 5-crore jackpot of the Kerala State Lottery Department! Chellaya, who sells lottery tickets at Vazhakkulam here, was initially scared to let the cat out of the bag and kept the news of the stroke of luck to himself. Though it was known by Thursday evening that the ticket for Vishu Bumper first prize was sold at Vazhakkulam, all were clueless about the lucky owner of the ticket. Only after Chellaya entrusted the ticket to the Vazhakkulam branch of State Bank of India, did even his close friends come to know of the unexpected news. Chellaya, who migrated to Vazhakkulam 10 years ago as hotel worker, stays at a rented house at Kalloorkadu Junction with his wife Sumathy and children Sanjeev and Selva Namitha. He took to lottery business only a year ago. He purchases the tickets from a lottery agency at Vazhakkulam. So what are his plans with jackpot win? “I wish to build a house and make the future secure for my children,” smiles crorepati Chellaya. Tue, 28 May 2019 01:07:02 GMT Meet the couple behind bizarre agitations in Kerala Kalady: Jeppy Velamannoor is not just a person; but he is an institution himself. An office assistant at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, Jayaprakash or Jeppy Velamannoor, as he is better known, had been striving towards creating a better world even by donating his own land for an old-age home. The 19 cents of lands and his home at Velamannoor in Kollam district was given to Gandhibhavan Snehasramam without any rent for ten years. His mother, Jagadamma, continues to live with the members of the old age home that the Snehasramam runs there. Along with his wife, Sreekala, Jeppy had been continuously making campaigns for making the public toilets free of cost. The couple had conducted marches on foot throughout the State, wearing placards showing this request around their necks. They also approached all the 140 MLAs in the State with this request. In 2017, Jeppy crawled around the State Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram tying to his back a mass petition with this request which was signed by some MLAs as well. Later, he also conducted a ‘Samadhi Struggle,’ in front of the Secretariat with his wife, placing cotton swabs in his nostrils and a wreath of flowers on his chest, imitating a dead body. He had also conducted a Kerala Cycle March raising these demands all by himself. The Kerala Yathra was conducted in 2002 demanding a Conflict-Free Kerala and in 2013 for the Conservation of the Western Ghats. When he became a victim for the mass retrenching in the Sanskrit University in 2000, Jeppy conducted a ‘Thendi Yathra’ (Beggar’s March) with his wife and two children. He had been contributing Rs. 11,111 as prize money for a collection of poetry in the name of Prof. P.Meerakkutty for the past 11 years. The mini magazine that he started in 1986 with the title, ‘21st Century,’ is being published still under the title, ‘Bhoomikkaran.’ When his father N. Kuttan Nair, who was an ascetic, passed away, he converted the Anandasramam that his father was running back home into a Bandhuthva Jeevithanda Asramam for those who were non-believers. He had also conducted an ‘Alillakkada,’ (Shop Without Shopkeeper) where people could buy stuff by dropping the cost of the things into a box, checking with the prices pasted outside the shop. He had also conducted many activities like interest-free loans, anti-suicide campaigns, buying books for libraries, planting saplings along the roads and distribution of seeds. He organises a ‘Parasparananda Koottayma’ at Kalady occasionally where people can gather and discuss on various topics. His wife Sreekala Poothakkulam who offers all support for his activities, is also a poet, having published a couple of volumes of poetry. She is conducting a mini magazine, ‘Ujjwala Jwala,’ and is a temporary staff at the Sanskrit University. Mon, 27 May 2019 00:43:07 GMT Gang behind Aluva gold heist arrested Kochi: The police have nabbed all the accused in the gold robbery case at Edayar near Aluva in Ernakulam district. However, efforts are still on to recover the 20 kg of stolen gold. The accused were taken into custody from Munnar. A former employee of the gold refining firm at Edayar, Bipin George, was the mastermind of the heist, the police have found. The police suspect six people, including Bipin who is in custody, were involved in the crime. Thodupuzha native Bipin was a former driver at the Edayar unit. Though he plotted the heist, he reportedly did not take part in the robbery. It was suspected that Bipin did not take part in the heist to avoid being recognised by those accompanying the gold. The police have found that the culprits had conducted trial runs of the robbery even on the eve of the crime. The police have slapped charges of conspiracy and theft on Bipin. He was presented in court and remanded in custody. A two-member gang had robbed a vehicle that was transporting 25 kg of gold to the refining unit at Edayar in Aluva in the first week of May. Sat, 25 May 2019 12:10:34 GMT Cyberfraudsters target Cherai hotels Munambam, Kochi: The police have asked hoteliers to stay guarded against attempts to steal money from bank accounts after booking food via online or over the phone. Owners of hotels and restaurants which take orders via phone and the bill amount is transferred to bank accounts have been asked to be more cautious. The police issued the alert after such cyber frauds were reported from Cherai-Paravur region. These hoteliers give details, including account number and debit number, to the customers for transferring money online, making them easy targets. Munambam SI A Shafeeq said that it would be better if the hoteliers took such orders from familiar people. The police recently received a complaint that Rs 25,000 was siphoned off the bank account of a hotelier in Cherai. Some people called up and ordered for food worth Rs 3,000. The gang asked the food to be delivered at a resort in Cherai. They introduced themselves as Navy personnel and spoke in Hindi. And the account number and debit card number to transfer money was given. Sometime later, the hotel workers were stunned to see a message that said Rs 25,000 was withdrawn from the account. That's when they realised that they had been cheated. The food was also wasted. The hotel workers then filed a complained to the Munambam Police, who said the investigation was on. Sat, 25 May 2019 02:52:56 GMT Just swim and get two points for class XI admission Kochi: What about two points in your kitty if you are applying for class XI admission? Sounds great, isn’t it? Then that’s what you get if you know how to swim. As many as 69 students out of 71 students cleared the swimming test and garnered two points for their admission to class XI of the higher secondary curriculum the other day. This is part of an initiative to encourage swimming, a skill that could save lives, among the students. The students who came with a letter from the local people’s representative were allowed to prove their proficiency in swimming. Sports Council swimming expert P Unnikrishnan judged the swimming skills of the students at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here in Ernakulam district. District Sports Council secretary J R Rajesh said the schools would grant two points based on certificates given to the successful pupils. Mon, 20 May 2019 10:27:20 GMT Police officers provide moments to cherish for boys home inmates Parappuram: Police personnel took time out of their busy schedule to enthral the inmates of Alukkal Antony Mariamma Memorial Snehajyothy Boys Home by singing and reciting poems. A team of police officers led by Kalady police SHO M Hemalatha IPS visited the home near here in Ernakulam district and entertained the children with their artistic excellence. Tamil Nadu-native Hemalatha was all praise for the boys’ home which provided superlative facilities. “Tamil Nadu doesn’t have a home for boys of this quality and this is the first time I am seeing a boys’ home of this kind,” said Hemalatha, who hails from Erode. Hemalatha, who crooned for the inmates, also sang along with the children and had some great time with them. While some civil officers sang others recited verses for 40 children at the home. Hemalatha said that she realized that the civil police officers of the Kalady police station had good artistic skills. The police team paid a visit following invitation from the home’s authorities. The home’s sister concern Child Home for girls at Pulluvazhy houses 98 children. The children at both homes are aged between 10 days and 15 years, and majority of them are orphans. Director Sister Jisa Piyappilly said that the home gets children through the courts. Sun, 19 May 2019 01:00:51 GMT 2 arrested at Cochin airport over smuggling 3 kg gold Nedumbassery: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized 3.286kg of gold, and arrested a passenger and a ground handling staff at the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery on Friday. Malappuram native Muhammed Ashraf who landed from Dubai in an Emirates flight, and Paul Joseph, an employee of Bird Worldwide Flight Services, were the arrested. After getting a tip off that a passenger would try to smuggle gold, the DRI sleuths conducted searches and caught them. They seized 10 gold pieces, including two gold biscuits each weighing 1kg, two biscuits of 116 gm each and four gold coins. After the immigration checks, Ashraf handed over the gold to Joseph at the washroom. Joseph was already waiting for Ashraf at the washroom. Ashraf had hidden the gold in packets and carried them in his handbag. Seizure at Karipur too About 1.4 kg of gold worth Rs 45 lakh was seized from two passengers at the Kozhikode international airport located at Karipur. They tried to smuggle the gold by hiding it in the body. Both the passengers are from Karnataka - Muhammed Emra of Bhatkal and Nisar Ahmed of Mangaluru. Sat, 18 May 2019 08:33:32 GMT Manorama 'SportOn' fair now on in Kochi Kochi: Malayala Manorama’s ‘SportOn’ fair, featuring wide-ranging sports and fitness equipment as well as fun events, has kicked off at the Kaloor International Stadium here. The first-of-its-kind event in South India was inaugurated by actor Anushree. Entry is free to the fair open from 2 to 9 pm until May 20. Global sports and fitness brands are featured in different stalls. The fair also includes interesting contests, one of which – iron man and iron woman – was held on Thursday. Arm-wrestling will be held on Friday and a Strongman event is scheduled for Saturday at 6pm. Register for run A 5km fun run will be held on May 19 morning. Register for the run at, or at the Sport On venue or at Manorama offices in Kochi or Kottayam. Participants can also choose to register at the venue at 5am on May 19. Registration fee is Rs 500. Winner takes away Rs 72,000 cash prize. All who complete the race win a t-shirt, medal and certificate. Breakfast is also available. Martial arts exhibition A training and exhibition of martial arts forms by Kerala Kicking Boxing Association will be held on May 19 evening. A sports fashion show will be conducted at 6 pm on May 20. The main attraction at the fair is a 9,000 sqft game zone. Jain University is the prime sponsor of the event. Aster Medicity (health partner), Royal Enfield (2-wheeler), Decathlon (sports), Dark 1 Fitness (fitness) and SMRI (games) are the co-sponsors. Fri, 17 May 2019 08:54:24 GMT Manorama 'SportOn' kicks off in Kochi from Thursday Kochi: A five-day sporting extravaganza celebrating sports, fitness and health - Manorama SportOn - will begin at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium at Kaloor in Kochi on Thursday. People can enter the venue free from 2 pm till 9 pm during the fest that ends on May 20. Iron Man-Iron Lady contests will be held from 6 pm on Thursday. Arm wrestling is from at 6 pm on May 17, while Strongman contest will be held at 6 pm on May 18. There will be a sports fashion show for children on the final day at 6pm. A 5-km Fun Run will begin at 5.30 pm on May 19 and those interested can register at till May 18. You can pay the fee via or at the Kochi/Kottayam offices of Malayala Manorama. The sporting festival would also include athletic games, dare contests, Zumba dance, self-defence classes, work-outs, kick-boxing training and an exhibition. You will also be introduced to tricycle race for adults, cycle assembly and freakathon. Jain University presents the fest, while Aster MedCity is the health partner. Other event partners are Royal Enfield (two-wheeler), Decathlon (sports), DARC 1 Fitness (fitness) and SMRI (games). For admission, sponsorship and stall booking, contact 9526707576, 7356606921/23/24. Wed, 15 May 2019 11:54:43 GMT Hi-tech system to alert cops about break-ins in real time Kochi: The Kerala Police will set up an advanced monitoring system in Kochi to immediately alert the cops if robbery attempts were made at house and other establishments. The Central Intrusion Monitoring System (CIMS) that will come up in Kochi will be the first such initiative in the country. If a robbery attempt or other criminals incidents were detected at houses and business establishments fitted with the CIMS, alert messages would be sent within 3-7 seconds to the special control room at the police headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram. Regional control rooms and police stations will also be alerted. The direction of reaching the place would also be given. The information regarding the owner's details, including phone number, would also be provided. Live visuals would also be transmitted. Even the attacker's actions can be continuously viewed, giving the police a clear idea on the situation at hand. They also plan to include a feature that would help them identify criminals who are already under the police radar. The system complete with cameras, sensors and control panel will help the police in 24-hour surveillance. The visuals would be stored for three months. Keltron would be in charge of the highly advanced technical project. Apart from houses, banks, ATMs and jewelry stores too can get the CIMS service, authorities have said. The service cost for houses would be Rs 400 every month. Mon, 13 May 2019 09:06:58 GMT When a peon took Rs 30,000 as bribe for stamping documents Kochi: Bribe to ease red tape is normal, but paying Rs 30,000 to a peon for just stamping documents is not often heard! It has come to light that peon B Arun, who is an accused in the Choornikkara documents forgery case, has allegedly received Rs 30,000 as bribe. Arun, in his statement to the police, said that he stamped the seal on the documents when the superintendent was out for lunch. A favourable order was then issued using the receipt number of the application to get the nod to convert a wetland. Arun was taken into custody based on the statement given by Abu, who acted as a middleman in forging the documents. Arun, a native of Aryanad Meenangal, works as an office attendant in the Land Revenue Commissioner’s office in Thrivananthapuram. The illegal conversion came out after the Choornikkara village officer noted the bid to convert the 25 cents wetland, located adjacent to the national highway, into commercially valuable dry land using forged documents. According to the police, Abu had promised to convert the wetland into a commercial dry land and was paid Rs 7 lakh by Thrissur Mathilakam native Hamsa. The investigating team reportedly has more clues about the officials who played part in the controversial land scam. Read more District News Sat, 11 May 2019 09:49:25 GMT New rules could triple Kochi metro's land acquisition cost Kochi: New land acquisition rules could land Kochi Metro in a mess. One-fifth of the total expense for the project was allocated for land. Out of the entire project cost of Rs 5,181 crore for the stretch from Aluva to Petta, Rs 1,000 crore was spent on land acquisition. However, after acquisition rates were revised upwards to Rs 1.7 crore for a cent, hundreds are coming forward with claims for more compensation. Going by the rate at which land prices are spiralling, even selling off metro coaches will not be sufficient to cover these compensations. This will also hamper the first stage extension of the metro to Thrippunithura and the second stage to Kakkanad. Before the central rule came into existence, value for acquired land was fixed by Collector after due consideration of several factors. Those who had complaints could approach the court, which would set a price considering all factors involved. This changed after a more land-owner friendly law, Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARR) came into being. An average of the three highest prices registered for adjacent land in the last three years, a 100 per cent solatium (compensation offered in consolation for emotianal pain and suffering) on market value and 12% interest from the time of notice of acquisition has to be paid now. A small portion of land in MG Road was valued at Rs 21 lakh earlier. The amount of compensation coupled the solatium and 12% interest came to a final settlement of Rs 52 lakh. But the owner approached LARR authorities, who found a similar plot went for Rs 47 lakh. This takes the total amount payable by KMRL to Rs 1.7 crore. KMRL is set to challenge this in High Court. Though the land was acquired before LARR, the amount was sanctioned after it came into existence. 400 more cases The new acquisition law came into effect in January 2014, the rules for which were introduced in Kerala only in September 2015. This has put many transactions between these dates in jeopardy. District-level purchase committees have to shell out the extra amount if those who settled for compensation during this period approach LARR. 230 cases for a higher price have been filed against the Metro already. Then there are the 170 others with whom a deal has been signed – a total of 400. The rule is such that even those in Vytilla can seek compensation equal to those on MG Road. If one plot is allowed LARR amount, other ‘adjacent’ plots will deserve the same. Thus the total amount for land acquisition from Aluva to Petta will go from Rs 1,000 crore to 3,000 crore. Stage two worries The second stage to Kakkanad will be jeopardy if the current acquisition problem is not solved. The stretch from Kaloor stadium to Infopark is 11.2 kms. Road widening requires acquiring 8.55 acres of land. 362 families will be affected, 6 houses and 46 shops taken over. 254 shops will be partially affected. Total cost of the project is Rs 2310 crore, including land acquisition charges of Rs 135.72 crore. But if new LARR rules are applied, that will go up three to four times, hampering the whole project. Fri, 10 May 2019 11:45:06 GMT Peace shattered at Shantivanam sacred grove as KSEB resumes piling work Vazhikulangara: The Kerala State Electricity Board has resumed the construction of a huge power transmission tower at the ecologically rich grove called Shantivanam at North Paravur in Ernakulam district. Fearing local opposition, the help of police was sought as piling work restarted here at a private property that is home to both flaura and fauna. Meena Menon, who owns the property, and environmentalists protested when the authorities and workers came to carry out the piling work of a 110 KV transmission tower. The protestors staged a sit-in as the work went on. Environmentalists such as Prof Shobeendran, Sivan Madathil, Saleena and Prof M K Prasad visited the controversial spot the other day. V D Satheesan, MLA, lashed out at the KSEB for the environmentally hazardous work. “KSEB's action was highly improper. It did not keep its word of confining the construction to half a cent of land, but went on to destroy large portion of land for the piling work. The minister, on the other hand, also made it clear that there won't be any change in alignment. For a minister who has given the nod to destroy over 1,000 acres of forest land at Athirappilly, causing damage to a two-acre man-made forest this could be a non-issue," Satheesan stated referring to Kerala Power Minister. "Shantivanam is the result of effort and energy taken by a family over four generations. I am not dead against setting up a transmission tower. But the alignment was chosen towards Shantivanam to satisfy vested interests. Hence I would give my wholehearted support to the agitation launched by the mother and daughter, who lives inside the man-made forest in Kottuvally panchayat of North Paravur," he added. Earlier, the stakeholders were called for talks at the district collectorate twice. But no consensus could be reached as the government made it clear that it would go ahead with the project at all costs. As against the earlier plan, the height of the tower will now be increased to 22.4 m from 19.4 m. The environmentalists, on the other hand, are planning to strengthen their protests in a bid to protect Shantivanam, a sacred grove with ponds. They are also planning to take legal course to stop the construction activities. In order to retain the serene atmosphere of Shantivanam, the greens have called for an alternative mechanism to draw power lines and suspension of construction activities until a detailed study is conducted by experts. They also sought a clarification from the KSEB as to why the power grid that is bound to follow a straight path takes an abrupt deviation at Shantivanam. To bring out less damage to the ecologically fragile area, the KSEB authorities have said that they would be cutting down only three trees from the biodiversity-rich plot, and trimming the branches of a few trees that are over 13.5 m of height. They have also promised to make up the loss by planting new trees at their expense. Moreover, it has been decided to wind up the daily construction activities inside the man-made forest, which is home to birds, butterflies and snakes, by 6.30 pm so as to not disturb the ecosystem. Fri, 10 May 2019 04:29:29 GMT Three-member panel to oversee repair of Palarivattom bridge Kochi: A high-level expert panel will be formed to oversee the repairing of Palarivattom Bridge. The panel comprising three chief engineers will provide technical help to the agencies strengthening the bridge. The panel will ensure that repairs are carried out scientifically. It will work in collaboration with the IIT, Chennai. A few days ago a team of experts from the IIT had estimated that at least three months would be required to fix the flaws of the bridge. Kerala PWD Minister G Sudhakaran has warned contractors and engineers to be careful as recent reports exposed the shoddy construction of bridges in Palarivattom as well as at Enath in Pathanamthitta district. The strength, aesthetics and longevity of bridges should be ensured. The overseer too has this responsibility, the minister stated. Contractors should build bridges properly and on time by rectifying any errors that might happen in consultations with engineers, he added. The PWD will consider slapping non-bailable charges on contractors who compromise on quality, Sudhakaran added. The matter is being discussed with the Law Ministry. The shoddy construction of the Palarivattom flyover in Kochi has put the spotlight on the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd (RBDC) which was behind the project. The shoddy construction of the Palarivattom overflyover in the heart of the city has put the spotlight on the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd (RBDC) which was behind the project. A team of experts from the IIT, Chennai, has estimated that at least three months would be required to fix the flaws of the flyover located at Palarivattom. The engineers assessed the condition of the flyover after removing the bitumen top laid earlier. Poor quality of construction is obvious, the IIT team led by Prof Alagu Sunadaramoorthy noted. Moreover, the design and construction too were faulty, the team added. The IIT team handed over its report to the Public Works Department (PWD) and RBDC the other day. The PWD has said it will carry out every work detailed in it step by step. Initial work will be done within a month, but no timetable has been provided to carry out the rest and the work on the bearings, said RBDC authorities. Flawed from the start It has been assessed that problems during the initial stage of construction led to the instability of the flyover. Internal problems of RBDC, the company that won the construction contract, contributed to this flaw. There were issues right from the start of the project, said sources who were involved in the building. The Kochi operations of the RBDC, an autonomous body of the Government of Kerala, were reportedly headed by an MBA graduate who had no engineering background. He was later transferred to its administration section. Meanwhile, quality was compromised as vested interests allegedly cut corners to seek higher profit. Cracks in pillars and girders resulted from the poor construction. All these indicate there was widespread corruption aided by Kitco, a technical consultancy, and RBDC. The representatives of Bangalore-based Nagesh Consultants, which had designed the flyover, now claim the flyover became weak as a result of the wrong placement of its bearings. These should have been replaced in the first place, they told Manorama. They refrained from making further comments. However, it is intriguing why the other authorities chose not to address this issue when the flyover designer pointed it out years ago. It has also come to light that there was no urgency in repairing the flyover. It took safety reports from three agencies for the authorities to take action. There was severe political pressure to complete the flyover within a deadline, it is alleged. The construction company had left the work half way because of cash crunch. They were called back hastily to complete it. Several top RBDC officials are not associated with the agency now. It has had at least three Managing Directors in the last couple of years. Tue, 07 May 2019 05:57:11 GMT Faulty design, shoddy work glaring in Palarivattom flyover: IIT experts Kochi: Shoddy construction of an overflyover in the heart of the city has put the spotlight on the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd (RBDC) which was behind the project. A team of experts from the IIT, Chennai, has estimated that at least three months would be required to fix the flaws of the flyover located at Palarivattom. The engineers assessed the condition of the flyover after removing the bitumen top laid earlier. Poor quality of construction is obvious, the IIT team led by Prof Alagu Sunadaramoorthy noted. Moreover, the design and construction too were faulty, the team added. The IIT team handed over its report to the Public Works Department (PWD) and RBDC the other day. The PWD has said it will carry out every work detailed in it step by step. Initial work will be done within a month, but no timetable has been provided to carry out the rest and the work on the bearings, said RBDC authorities. Flawed from the start It has been assessed that problems during the initial stage of construction led to the instability of the flyover. Internal problems of RBDC, the company that won the construction contract, contributed to this flaw. There were issues right from the start of the project, said sources who were involved in the building. The Kochi operations of the RBDC, an autonomous body of the Government of Kerala, were reportedly headed by an MBA graduate who had no engineering background. He was later transferred to its administration section. Meanwhile, quality was compromised as vested interests allegedly cut corners to seek higher profit. Cracks in pillars and girders resulted from poor construction. All these indicate there was widespread corruption aided by Kitco, a technical consultancy, and RBDC. The representatives of Bangalore-based Nagesh Consultants, which had designed the flyover, now claim the flyover became weak as a result of the wrong placement of its bearings. These should have been replaced in the first place, they told Manorama. They refrained from making further comments. However, it is intriguing why the other authorities chose not to address this issue when the flyover designer pointed it out years ago. It has also come to light that there was no urgency in repairing the flyover. It took safety reports from three agencies for the authorities to take action. There was severe political pressure to complete the flyover within a deadline, it is alleged. The construction company had left the work half way because of cash crunch. They were called back hastily to complete it. Several top RBDC officials are not associated with the agency now. It has had at least three Managing Directors in the last couple of years. Mon, 06 May 2019 05:37:47 GMT Man kills wife, child and then commits suicide in Kochi Kochi: A man allegedly killed his wife and a year-and-a-half-old son by setting them ablaze at their house on the outskirts of the city before committing suicide during the wee hours of Sunday. P Saji, 40, a hotel worker, poured kerosene or petrol over his wife Bindu, 29, and their toddler son Sreehari, who were sleeping on the floor of their house in Kalamassery, and set them on fire. Hearing the commotion, Bindu's mother Ananadavally, 55, rushed into the room and Saji set her on fire too. He then hanged himself in the bathroom. The screams of Anandavally, who ran out of the house, alerted the neighbours and they informed the police. The horrifying incident happened around 2am at the Pottachal Nagar near Cochin University in Kalamassery which in Kerala's Ernakulam district. The cops found the charred bodies of Bindu and the child on the floor. Anandavally has been admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital. She has suffered more than 60 per cent burns and her condition is said to be critical. It is suspected that Saji committed the heinous crime in an inebriated state. The police have received information that Saji and Bindu frequently had domestic squabbles. Anandavally and Bindu are natives of Pattimattom in Ernakulam, while Saji was from Kollam. They had been living at the rented house in Kalamassery for more than a year. The police have begun a probe into the incident. Sun, 05 May 2019 07:37:50 GMT KSEB project endangers biodiversity at Shanthivanam Kochi: Environmentalists and nature enthusiasts are battling against KSEB project to install towers in Shanthivanam which may prove destructive to the rich flora and fauna that the 1.98 acres grove at Vazhikulangara in Ernakulam district holds. The Mannam-Vypeen power line of 110 KV will pass across the groves and a electricity tower will be constructed right in the middle of Shanthivanam. Five pits extending to a depth of 50m have to be dug and some 30 cent land will be covered in sludge on which no vegetation will grow. Further, the safety area on both sides of the power line will take up 11 metres land each and will be kept bare of trees and plants. Opposition to the project arises due to the blatant destruction of the ecologically important space which rather deserves protection and conservation. Bountiful with Nature’s creations A rich diversity of trees and creepers alike, migratory birds and butterflies, Shanthivanam groves is the ideal spot to experience Nature at close quarters. The patch of land houses 124 kinds of trees and medicinal herbs, some ancient and rare. Of the 138 species of birds spotted here, three species have been found only in the Western Ghats and 8 other kinds listed to be on the verge of extinction. Unchecked encroachment of forest lands has forced birds, insects and snakes to take refuge in the groves, itself located near a national highway. The hotspot also boasts of 49 varieties of dragonflies and butterflies species numbering to 147.The figures were verified by a study conducted by Kerala Forest Research Institute, Shanthivanam- A community forest and heritage site Comprising of three naturally rich groves, the 200 year old biodiversity site is the ancestral property of the renowned environmentalist P R Ravindranath’s wife. Ravindranath who was part of the Save Silent Valley Project and Kakkakuttam ( a children’s drama group) has conducted many a classes in Shanthivanam instilling awareness about ecology and nature. He is fondly remembered as Shanthivanam Ravi. The ecological site is today owned by Ravindranath’s daughter Meena Menon who lives with her daughter within Shanthivanam premises. KSEB atrocities, unhelpful administration: Meena Menon The initial demand for land was 0.62 cent to erect pillars but as the project progressed approximately 30 cent land came under sludge. The KSEB had promised only one tree would be axed but now the expected numbers are to go beyond 48, with already 11 being cut. “I came to know about the power line only when the KSEB officials came to earmark the area for the tower in 2013. A complaint was lodged with the District Collector but there was no relief from the district administration. Later, I filed a petition before the High Court which was rejected on April 5 this year. The very next day, the KSEB started construction work at Shanthivanam without asking for permission,” says Menon. She also remarks how her application to the Panchayat to include Shanthivanam on the biodiversity list met with cold enthusiasm. Menon is also unaware of any alternative plans that the KSEB may have. Menon adds that she was informed that the power alignment had been altered to suit the needs of some people and wonders why the same cannot be done to protect Shanthivanam. She plans to discuss the issue with the district collector. KSEB’s justification KSEB remarks that maximum precautions have been taken to execute the project with minimum damage to Shanthivanam. The power lines will be aligned at a height of 19.4 m to protect the trees. A smaller foundation has been designed to save maximum land and instead of the usual 3 cent land for the tower only 0.62 cent will be used. The KSEB argues that even the alternative plan proposed to change the alignment of the lines towards the north side of Shanthivanam was rejected by the complainant. The project had got government approval way back in 1999 and the work had commenced only after receiving confirmation from the district collector and high court, remarked the Board Officials. Unrelenting KSEB puts future ecology in danger Shanthivanam can be saved provided the KSEB agrees to make a slight change in the alignment of the power lines and more discussions with the organisation is needed, opines Dr V S Vijayan, former head, State Biodiversity Board. Further studies by the Kerala Forest Research Institute can help identify more species in the groves and also make it an important site for environmental research. The sludge and debris resulting from the construction work will ruin chances of vegetation growth in the place, warns Dr Vijayan. Urgent Need to Conserve Menon and other enthusiasts hope to leave behind the enriched diversity and nature spot for future generations to enjoy. Menon considers it a prized possession and can never think of selling the plot. Sat, 04 May 2019 00:45:24 GMT Railway cops nab the ‘respectable’ thief of AC coaches Kochi: The Railway Police have arrested an Ernakulam native who had been carrying out robberies on trains, especially in AC coaches, for long. The modus operandi of Nasar, aka Pambu Nasar, of Palluruthy was to pose as a white-attire clad ‘respectable’ passenger on trains. During the journey, he would get acquainted with the train ticket examiner (TTE) and upgrade his second-class ticket to get a berth in the AC coach. The man then vanishes along with some of the valuables of other passengers. NABARD DGM Ranjith Kumar too fell victim to Nasar’s antics as he lost his laptop, passport and mobile phone. Apart from him, several people complained of robbery on trains to the police in the past few months, prompting railway police superintendent Merin Joseph to issue strict instructions to nab the culprit. A special squad was formed to trace the robber. Nasar mainly targeted trains, running along the Mangalapuram- Thiruvananthapuram route. Once he commits the crime, he flees by jumping off the train as it slows down. Nasar’s escapades paid for his luxurious life. Several cases of fraud have been registered against him at the West Kochi police station. The team led by Ernakulam railway DySP KM Gigimon was in charge of the squad. Railway circle inspector Aji G Nath, SI Antony, ASI Ajayakumar, G Manoj, SCPO Anil Sebastian, CPOs Shyam, Vilas, Suresh, Ansil, RPS officers Vipin and Shaji were also part of the team. Fri, 03 May 2019 07:03:12 GMT Kochi's dark underbelly is below its railway overbridges too Kochi: The city is notorious for increasing incidents of crime and a few films have captured its seamy side well. Four railway overbridges in the city are bases of antisocial elements as the city police and the Railways turn a blind eye to them. Meanwhile, drug peddling, pickpocketing and assaults in the vicinity of these overbridges are rising. The bridges are near the Ernakulam Town (North) railway Station, Ernakulam Junction (South) station, at Pullepady and on the M L Jacob Road. Fear around North Commuters to the North railway station refuse to use the foot overbridge and instead cross the railway track, be it any time of the day. Walking underneath the bridges after dusk is a risky affair as lack of proper illumination makes the environment favourable for the antisocial elements. Passengers who get down at Town Hall bus stop, Lissie Metro station or North station mostly take the dangerous path to reach the other side the bridge. Police are at a loss to guarantee the security of people who walk down the bridge which is like a shelter for beggars and gypsies in the evenings. The annoyed residents have been constantly demanding to convert the entire space into a parking lot or develop a garden there. Mobile-phone thieves Of late, new-age miscreants with a penchant for mobile phones have surfaced in the Pullepady area where trains from Kottayam deviate towards the North railway station. The gang armed with rods targets passengers who sit on the footsteps of the coaches with their phones. When the trains slow down at this point, the hooligans strike the unsuspecting travellers and flee the scene with the gadget. Apparently, the culprits are aping similar lines of crimes portrayed in the films. These spots have turned out to be a haven for anti-socials for more reasons than one. Firstly, the robbers can escape easily by easily crossing the railway track. Erecting a wall or fence beside railway tracks to protect the commuters from anti-social elements may act as a hurdle. Though the Railway Protection Force has come up with a similar proposal, no action has been taken so far. The easy access to platforms has put the North railway station on high security risk. Constructing a foot overbridge from Lissie Metro Station to the North station can be a solution to some extent. It will benefit the commuters and also drastically bring down the number of persons crossing the tracks. The footbridge was constructed alongside North railway bridge, but very few pedestrians make use of the facility. There can be a change in the situation unless restrictions are imposed on railway track crossings. Pullepady is close to the North station as it is popularly called. High-handedness of transgenders The ceremonious extortion of money by transgenders, though not common in Kerala, is now rampant at South railway station. On Tuesdays they make routine visits on the Ernakulam-Howrah Antyodaya Express that leaves the station at 12.20 am with mostly migrant workers. By 9 pm the platform would be crowded with these labourers who come to board the train. It is alleged the Railway Protection Force (RPF) is not discharging its duties well as the train is patronised by migrant workers. The transgenders, who prefer to target migrant workers to Malayali passengers, demand money anywhere from Rs 30 to Rs 100 from a single passenger, and abuse and assault those who refuse to give in. They also annoy the passengers on board Alappuzha-Dhanbad Express that leaves the station in the morning. Teen gangsters Passengers from Ernakulam South railway station who have to reach KSRTC terminal or otherwise, are targeted by a set of teen gangsters when they pass by the M L Jacob bridge near the bus terminal. The miscreants mainly attack travellers who proceed to the bus station through Vivekananda Road or walk beside the rail track. Even goons from outside the locality are part of the gang that station next to the culverts beside the bridge. They hit people using stones and rods and loot their valuables and mobile phones. Strangely these routine attacks occur in close proximity to Central Police station. However, inadequate police raids have made the stretch dangerous for commute. If at all police reach the crime spot, the miscreants will vanish into the darkness close to the bus terminal. Immoral activities of transgenders Transgenders from outside the state who gather underneath the North, South railway overbridges and at Kalathiparambu Road are giving headache for the police. Their accomplices mainly attack and loot young men who approach the transgenders. Such assaults by the community are very common in the area as they are pretty much sure that the victims will not lodge a police complaint against them, say Railway police. The community also indulges in immoral activities at two unoccupied buildings near South railway bridge. Intense patrolling could bring down the menace of transgenders in the Valanjamblam area, but it is now back to square one. Risky crossings Apart from crime, accidents are likely as passengers, who would be in a haste to reach the South railway station, choose to avoid the main roads and cross railway tracks. Shunting is mostly on at the South station and the tracks are never found without trains or engines here. As dusk sets in shunting will get noticed only when rail workers blow the whistle from the last coach. The risk of trains running over public crossing tracks is high as a fast-approaching locomotive won't be audible from a distance. Unlike the North station, the South railway station does not have a separate overbridge for pedestrians. This has to be addressed by the Corporation or the Public Works Department. Moreover, the open area connecting the end of the platforms to railway tracks has to be permanently shut down. A hapless RPF The Railway Protection Force is unable to set in a place a constant monitoring mechanism as most of the bridges are situated outside the station compound. It had put forward a proposal to erect fences extending from North to South stations to enhance the security system. Though there were plans to introduce security system on the lines of airport, it had to be abandoned after noting that the stations had multiple points of accessibility. Scanning machines worth lakhs of rupees were purchased 5 years ago but not a single baggage has been scanned at South station until now. The lone security gadget installed at the station was CCTV camera. Read more District News Wed, 01 May 2019 08:54:35 GMT Panic spreads after mercury, cyanide detected in well water Chottanikkara: The dangerous levels of mercury and cyanide detected in well water of Kureekkad area, near Chottanikara has set off panic among residents of the 20 households in the region. It is feared that a private gold jewellery manufacturing unit nearby is the source of contaminants. After the residents complained of soreness and allergic reactions to water, especially amongst children, the officials of the Pollution Control Board found the presence of heavy metal elements in levels higher than the safe limit. Wells within a 100-metre radius of a private gold jewellery manufacturing unit were tested after complaints were lodged. The normal levels of mercury and cyanide in water are 0.001 and 0.05 mg per litre respectively. Tests revealed that wells in the Kureekkad locality, which is in Kerala's Ernakulam district, had 0.12 to 2.25 mg mercury and 0.07 mg cyanide. Residents say neither the panchayat nor the health department had responded to this crisis. They allege chemicals from jewellery manufacturing unit are the reason for the pollution. The residents have decided to stage a protest in front of the unit on April 25. The presence of mercury in water can cause kidney damage and will affect the nervous system. Cyanide severely damages brain and heart and may even cause death. Tue, 23 Apr 2019 03:01:49 GMT It's jackfruit time folks! Kakkanad: They come from different backgrounds but they have one thing in common – love for jackfruits. They worked their way up the trees to pluck jackfruits, though some of them never mastered the skill of tree climbing. The ripe fruits were cut open and the group had the tasty fruit bulbs with glee, and the unripe ones were made into various dishes. The jackfruit lovers, who came together at an orchard near to Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK), not only served delicacies made of jackfruits but also praised the tropical fruit to no end. The get-together of jackfruit lovers was organized under the aegis of the Adventures and Natural Trekking Society. The gathering, which was made possible through social media, was an effort by T Mohandas to find a solution to the hazards of overripe jackfruits falling off the trees and flies feasting on them. Dr Manoj, who has a doctorate in chemistry and is involved with the project to maintain gardens near to the metro train pillars, first climbed a jackfruit tree and showed the way. Thiruvananthapuram-native Suresh Kumar, who is a medical representative, and his wife Revathy, helped Manoj in his jackfruit plucking endeavor. The jackfruits were lowered to the ground with the help of a rope. The jackfruit lovers left with the promise that they would meet at another orchard with ripe jackfruits next week. Those who want to part of this venture can call – 9447498430. Tue, 23 Apr 2019 03:02:29 GMT Youth arrested for Facebook post on Mangaluru newborn's transit to Kochi Kochi: Police have arrested a youth who made a communal remark on his Facebook page on a newborn's transit from Mangalore to Ernakulam Amrita Hospital. Binil Somasundaram from Kadavoor, Ernakulam, was arrested for hate speech. The Ernakulam Central Police had registered a case against him. City Police Commissioner S Surendran had ordered an inquiry after the post surfaced. The arrest comes after Cyber Cell’s initial inquiry. The 16-day-old was brought to Ernakulam on Tuesday. Binil identifies himself as Hindu-state activist on his Facebook page. The post was deleted later. Binil also claimes his account was hacked. Fri, 19 Apr 2019 07:05:08 GMT Elephant injured in freak accident Maradu: An elephant sustained injuries when its head hit the concrete roof of a petrol pump here in Ernakulam district. The incident happened when the truck carrying the jumbo, Thrissivaperoor Karnan, reached a petrol bunk at Petta near here for refueling. The driver came to know about the accident only when the petrol pump staff and others raised an alarm. The elephant couldn’t bend down as it was tightly fastened to the wood logs on the lorry. The driver averted a major accident by immediately reversing the truck. People and police rushed to the spot, and the driver was taken to the police station. Later, the jumbo was given first-aid treatment at the Kottaram temple here. The elephant, which was bleeding from its head, standing under the scorching sun was a heart breaking sight for the onlookers. The pachyderm ate watermelons given by the people. The elephant was shifted to Thrippunithura where a veterinary surgeon provided medical care to the jumbo. Police said that a case would be slapped against the truck driver. Thu, 18 Apr 2019 07:10:24 GMT Baby rushed to Kerala hospital still critical, decision on surgery awaited Kochi: The 15-day-old infant brought to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Kochi from Mangaluru has been kept under observation for 24 hours. According to hospital authorities, the damage to the baby’s heart was serious and a decision on conducting the surgery would be taken only after a detailed examination. Though the initial plan was to take the infant to Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences in Thiruvananthapuram, Health Minister K K Shailaja intervened after the trip of the ambulance received live coverage. A decision was soon taken to admit the baby to Amrita Hospital in Kochi. The ambulance covered the 400 km distance from Mangaluru to Kochi in five-and-a-half hours. The minister said that each moment was critical for the infant and the journey up to Thiruvananthapuram would be too risky. “So I spoke to the baby’s parents and the authorities at Amrita and it was decided to admit the infant to the Kochi hospital,” she said. “Moreover, the treatment will be provided free of cost under the ‘Hridyam’ initiative,” Shailaja added. The initiative to transport the fortnight old newborn was taken by the Kerala Child Protection Team (CPT) under an ‘Ambulance Mission’. The CPT had urged all people using the road till Thiruvananthapuram to clear the way if they noticed the ambulance via its Facebook page on Tuesday. Members of the CPT were stationed all along the route. The team also urged local people to provide all support to its members. The infant belongs to Sania - Mithah couple of Kasaragod. The trip was scheduled during daytime to take the child to any hospital along the way in case of an emergency. Wed, 17 Apr 2019 10:59:06 GMT Ambulance driver who rushed critical infant from Mangaluru to Kochi wins Kerala's heart Kochi: Hassan Deli is the man of the hour in Kerala. The ambulance driver covered 400 km in a span of 330 minutes to bring a 15-day-old infant from Mangaluru to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi for an emergency heart surgery. Following the endeavour, Hassan has won wide-spread appreciation for his big heart and unwavering confidence. Hassan, 34, a native of Mookkunnoth in Uduma, regularly drives an ambulance with registration number KL-60- J 7739 belonging to the C H Memorial Centre, Uduma. The trip with the 15-day-old baby was the second major long trip Hassan willingly took up. Earlier, in December 2017, he brought another patient from A J Hospital in Mangaluru to Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram in 8 hours and 45 minutes. The patient belonged to Thalangara in Kasaragod. On Tuesday, the state of Kerala and its people stood together to make this endeavour a success. Though the initial plan to deliver the child to Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, the timely intervention by the Health Minister K K Shailaja resulted in the transfer of the child to Amrita Institute, Kochi. The treatment will be provided free of cost under the government initiative, 'Hridayam'. Wed, 17 Apr 2019 09:22:57 GMT Man who tried to immolate women on bike arrested Kochi: The Ernakulam South police have nabbed a young man who had allegedly doused two young women with petrol at Panampilli Nagar in the the heart of the city recently. The accused Manu (24) of Poovathingal, Thachambara in Palakkad had escaped to Abu Dhabi after the crime, but was coerced into returning to Kerala and was picked up from Nedumbassery airport by the police. The youth had reportedly carried out the attack on the girl who had spurned his advances and another young woman on March 14. The girl, a native of Ooty, and her friend were riding a scooter when Manu, who arrived on a bike, intercepted their two-wheeler and poured petrol over them with the intention of setting them on fire. The panicked girls jumped out of their scooter and ran away from the spot. Manu had attacked the young woman who was studying in a private institution in Kochi. She was also working in a mall. The assailant's identity couldn't be ascertained then as he was wearing a helmet. Elaborate plot Manu had reached Kerala from Abu Dhabi with the intention of carrying out the crime without even informing his close friends. He landed in Thiruvananthapuram after failing to obtain a ticket to Bengaluru. He headed to Coimbatore, took a bike on rent and reached Kochi, where he checked in at a hotel in Chittoor Road. On the way from Coimbatore, he had purchased petrol in a bottle from Palakkad. Though he followed the girl, he could not carry out his plan initially. However, on the fateful day, Manu succeeded in finding the woman at an isolated spot in Panampilli Nagar while she was returning from work. However, after his plan failed, the youth returned to his hotel room and stayed there that night. Without arousing anybody’s suspicion, he started for Coimbatore the next day and returned the bike. He then travelled to Bengaluru and took a flight to Dubai. Victim's bid to cover up The victim had told the police that she had entered into an argument with some youths at her house in the morning on the day of the crime, but she did not indicate that Manu was the culprit, even though she admitted that there existed some problems between them. The police zeroed in on Manu after a thorough probe. During the early stages of the investigation, the police did not suspect Manu as he was abroad. As many as 200 persons were grilled, the phone records of 1,200 persons were examined and visuals from around 100 closed-circuit television cameras were examined. Clues from all these sources led to Manu, said Ernakulam city police commissioner S Surendran. Bid to mislead police According to the police, the accused had tried to lead them on to the wrong track by leaving a paper in which it was printed ‘Don’t play with us’ at the crime spot. This was an attempt to create an impression that several persons were involved in the attack, said the police. However, the police came to the conclusion that no gang was behind the incident. Spurned lover Manu and the girl were in love since they were 15, said the police. This fact was known to relatives and friends. However, when the girl came to Kochi, she developed new friendships, which Manu detested. He asked her to avoid the new friends and marry him. Some weeks ago, he came to Kerala from Abu Dhabi and proposed to her. However, the girl turned him down. An enraged Manu hatched the plan to attack her after this incident, said the police. Police Commissioner buys ticket The police identified Manu as the attacker, but they had a tough time bringing him to Kerala. Though the youth initially denied his involvement, he finally admitted to his role after the police showed him the evidence. Still, Manu remained in Abu Dhabi, saying that he had no money for the flight ticket. The police commissioner sent him the money and he booked the ticket twice, but cancelled the journey. Following which, the Kochi police contacted their counterparts in Abu Dhabi. The employer in Abu Dhabi soon sacked Manu and he was forced to head to Kerala. The police also issued a look-out notice for him at the airports and took the youth into custody as soon as he landed at Nedumbassery airport on Tuesday morning. Those who were part of the investigating team included Kochi city deputy police commissioner Dr Himendranath; Thrikkakkara SP Stewart Keeler; Special Branch SP S T Suresh Kumar; Ernakulam South CI Abhilash; SIs Santhosh, N S Roy, Vinoj; Shadow SI Jospeh Sajan; ASIs Vinayakan, Suresh, Madhusoodanan, Josy, Anil; SPOs Anil Kumar, Suresh, Hari, Dinil, Anil, Sunil; and Cyber Cell police officers Pramod, Delfin, Mathew and Ratheesh. Wed, 17 Apr 2019 09:11:27 GMT Here's a banker who made his mark as a cartoonist Kochi: Kerala has produced several noted cartoonists. Many amateur cartoonists who are not known widely also belong to this state. One such artist is bank manager-cum-illustrator A Satheesh Kumar. He has over 2,000 cartoon strips to his credit even as he has the responsibility as the chief manager of State Bank of India's Liability Central Processing Centre (LCPC) in Kochi. Satheesh nurses an innate passion for drawing cartoons even though he is intersted in painting and acting as well. Satheesh inherits the rich creative lineage from his father Sreevarahom Achuthan Nair, a versatile theatre artist who had won the state awards for the best actor and director a number of times. Ever since his childhood Satheesh had been seeing people designing theatrical scenes and get training in staging plays. So no wonder at the age of 12 little Satheesh drew a Taj Mahal on a white cloth for the veteran dramatist Jagathi N K Achari’s play ‘Taj Mahal athava Rajasilpi’. Since then he made his strong presence felt in theatre by setting the backdrop of a palace or hut or forest or meadow to suit the context of scenes being enacted. Satheesh was not someone who left his artistic musings to rust once he got a new job. He was active as a painter and designer for theatrical performances. He tried his hands in cartoons after a friend who was impressed with his paintings asked him. The earliest comical strips won the appreciation of many, including Lalithakala Akademi executive member Karakkamandapam Vijayakumar who said the works were worthy to be published. They were featured in a magazine fetching him a remuneration of Rs 25. Later on he drew the funny strips for a couple of publications. In 2002, Satheesh got the opportunity to draw regular cartoon strips in the business page of an English newspaper. The bank officer was honoured at the All-India Cartoon Contest conducted by the Hindustan Times in 1995, and was presented the Millenium Award of the SBT. So how does Satheesh balance art and profession successfully in the midst of a hectic banking career? "In those days I was not a bank manager. I was into painting, poster writing and acting. One day trade union leader K G James had asked me to design a banner which proved to be a turning point in my life. Unfortunately I could not meet the deadline. On hearing my silly excuse of not getting time, James corrected me with a thought-provoking statement that “it was not because of lack of time but due to lack of finding time that you could not design the banner’,” Satheesh said. Since then Satheesh always made it a point to dedicate 2 hours daily to brush up his artistic skills. Despite being active as an artist he never compromised on his banking profession, which is why he had won accolades on numerous occasions for excelling in career. Satheesh was adjudged the ‘Kalaprathibha’ nine times at the national-level Bank Fest of the SBI. His cartoons were featured in several national dailies as the ads of SBI. Through his live caricature shows, the bank manager has also made his strong presence felt at numerous international fairs, including Krithi Book Fair of the state government. The caricatures are also noted for their captions written in his own hallmark handwriting. Satheesh’s family comprises wife Jayashree and son Arjun who is an officer with the Union Bank of India. Saraswathy Amma is his mother. Mon, 15 Apr 2019 08:18:39 GMT 900 ready to take a plunge in Periyar this summer Aluva: This summer vacation as many as 900 children are gearing up for swimming lessons in the Periyar under ace trainer Saji Valassery. The coaching lessons are given in the shallow part of the river enclosed by iron pipes. He has set aside life jackets, rubber tubes and ambulance as classes progresses from 6.45 am to 9 am in three batches. The training session that lasts for 20 days make the children competent enough to swim across the Periyar. Swimming classes are imparted to 300 children in batches of three for 60 days. A batch of ‘seniors’ comprising those employed in the Armed Forces, Fire and Rescue Services besides doctors and teachers had started their swimming lessons in January. Saji Valassery took to swimming training in the Periyar nine years ago. So far he has given coaching to 2,250 students. Four hundred and twenty six children and 176 adults have braved the Periyar currents and crossed the river single-handedly. Twelve-year-old visually-impaired Navaneeth, LKG girl Nivedita and polio-afflicted Roji Joseph are among a few in the elite list who have trained under Saji. He can be contacted at 94464 21278. Thu, 04 Apr 2019 00:38:29 GMT Kochi Metro to generate more solar power Kochi: Adding a renewed energy to the future Kochi Metro, a solar field capable of generating 2,719 KW of power has been commissioned at Muttom Yard. The project helps to develop 44 per cent of power required for the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL). The solar panels were installed in the four hectares of swampy land of Muttom Metro Yard. With the new development, Kochi Metro, which used to generate 2,670 Kilo Watt of solar energy, has now been raised to 5,389 KW. From next year 60 per cent of power consumption of KMRL will be taken from the sun. A P M Mohammed Hanish, Managing Director of KMRL, while launching the facility at Muttom, said that it was not just about making profit out of the initiative. “In fact the project drives home the message that all institutions and households can attain self-sufficiency in generating the electricity of their requirement. The project is implemented in association with AMP Solar Ventures Private Ltd for a contract of 25 years. It is expected that the solar project would pocket an annual profit of over Rs 1 crore. Once the projects are completed the profit margin is likely to go up. The Kochi Metro also has plans to install solar panels atop the ramp towards Muttom Metro yard, beside the track at the Muttom and on the compound walls. In future the remaining portion of four hectares at Muttom Yard would also be utilised for solar project. Thu, 04 Apr 2019 00:43:14 GMT When a jailbird sets free his creativity Kakkanad: Prison cells have long been potential spaces of creativity for political leaders and literary figures. They have given birth to several literary masterpieces opening doors to freedom of expression. Even decades later the picture is more or less the same at the District Prison here that boasts of a handful of inmates who are more into art and literature. The creative bend of 'criminals' blacklisted by judiciary and society gets a pat as they indulge in painting, art and music. One such example is remand prisoner Ajayan, whose painting exhibition was held at the prison. Ajayan's works are byproducts of an isolated life trapped inside the four walls of the cell. R Sreelekha, Director General of Prisons, who attended the event, purchased a painting of Ajayan. In return he gifted an oil painting of the woman IPS officer. Many visitors were impressed by the prisoner's artistic acumen and bought some of the works that were the end result of his incarcerated life. The exhibition was the fruition of a long-standing demand of Ajayan's fellowmates who were first to spot the creative acumen of the remand prisoner from Kollenchery. It is not the first time an inmate of the jail is gifting his work of art to an elite guest. A prisoner here has presented an oil painting of Cardinal George Alencherry, the Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church, when the Cardinal visited the prison some time ago. Likewise, during the tenure of the previous state government another prisoner had gifted his painting to the then home minister. Thu, 04 Apr 2019 00:37:09 GMT Turning CUSAT campus clean with ‘Trash tag challenge’ Kalamassery: In a path-breaking initiative to rid the CUSAT campus of garbage, a 20-member collective of students launched ‘Trash tag challenge’ recently. They clicked photos of the garbage dumps before and after cleaning and posted them on social media. In fact, the challenge seeks to spread awareness against dumping of waste in public places. The students have chosen the road to the Radar centre on the campus for the challenge. Anti-social elements had turned the road and its sides into a huge garbage dump. The students conduct the challenge between 6.30 am and 8.30 am every day. On the first day itself, they collected 150 sacks of waste items from the area. The items were sorted and packed into three groups - plastic materials, plastic bottles and bottles made of glass. With a good response on the opening day, the challenge attracted more students on the following days. Several more sacks of garbage were removed on the subsequent days. The photos of each day were tagged on social media. The students also traced some of those who had dumped the garbage and gave awareness classes. The culprits realized their mistake and promised not to repeat it. “This assurance gave us much satisfaction,” said Rameez Rahman, a research student who is leading the challenge. However, some people panicked over the challenge and set fire to the shrubs in the area. Fire and Rescue services and the students doused the fire. The municipal authorities have agreed to take away the garbage every week. The students have also urged the Vice-Chancellor to set up surveillance cameras and bins on the campus. Mon, 01 Apr 2019 00:56:11 GMT A ‘hanging’ rail overbridge to nowhere Mulanthuruthy: There is definitely a curious element to the Chengolapadam rail overbridge near here in Ernakulam district. It seems that the bridge hangs in the air without any approach road and one can’t blame the residents if they ask, “should we fly into the bridge?” Those travelling on the Chottanikara-Mulanthuruthy road pull up their vehicles to take a snap of this ‘unique’ rail overbridge that stands on pillars without any approach road. This bridge is trending on social media too. Though the bridge was completed more than a year ago, it will take many more years before the first vehicle could enter the bridge. The bridge could be opened for traffic only if the approach road to the structure is laid. Unfortunately, the authorities concerned have not initiated any effort to acquire land to lay the road. In the last meeting, the officials promised people, whose land would be acquired for the project, that land acquisition would be completed by November, 2018. But still there is no progress on that front. The plan was to acquire 142 cents of land from 21 people for the construction of road but to date land from only 4 people, who gave land on their own will, had been taken by the authorities for the project. It was decided that land from remaining people would be acquired as per the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act of 2013. But the delay in land valuation slowed the whole process of acquiring land. The authorities had now assured that land acquisition could be completed in two months’ time. Great Hardship The traffic on the Chottanikara-Mulanthuruthy road goes awry when the railway gate is closed. The gate has to be closed quite often for five to 10 minutes resulting in traffic snarls as 3 trains pass through the area in an hour. The traffic on the road is heavy, even at night, as it is used by people travelling from Kottayam to Nedumbassery international airport. Funds to build the bridge were set aside in the 2014 budget, and the central government had allotted Rs 6 crore to construct the bridge, and the state government earmarked Rs 29 crore to acquire land and lay the approach road. The funds set aside for the road were transferred to the Roads and Bridges Corporation. The construction of the bridge started in November, 2016, and the promise was that the bridge would be opened for traffic after 18 months. But the wait is still on for the residents even after close to three years. Will take another two years It would take another two years to complete the road works, said officials of the Road and Bridges Corporation. After acquiring the land, it would take four months to get the technical clearance and complete the tender process for the project. The road could be constructed in 20 months, added the officials. The approach road would be built as a flyover without disturbing the natural stream flowing in the area. The commuters and local residents appeal to the authorities concerned to complete the road works without much delay. Mon, 01 Apr 2019 00:56:28 GMT 'Chaaya,' a play on wheelchairs, staged in Kochi Kochi: A special drama was staged at Town Hall here this week. Each of the actors arrived on wheelchairs, but when the play began, their performance was so perfect that the audience hardly noticed the locomotor aids. The first play on wheelchairs titled 'Chaaya' was organized by Suvarna Theatres, Valayanchirangara. All the actors of the drama were differently abled people. Nine such persons, by demonstrating their acting prowess, apt expressions and perfect dialogue delivery on stage, reflected the odds they overcame in their own lives. The performance indeed thrilled the audience. Actor Jayasurya and wife Saritha lit the lamp marking the first performance of the play, which was staged with the cooperation of Cochin Shipyard. 'Chaaya' deals with the life of an artist and the mental conflict he undergoes. Presented with a tinge of humour, the play was greeted by the audience with a loud applause. The play was written and directed by V T Ratheesh, who has been active in the rural amateur theatre scene over the last 15 years. N M Rajesh, secretary of Suvarna Theatres, had suggested the idea of the unique drama to provide a stage for ‘Thanal freedom on wheels’, a music group of wheelchair-bound artists. The actors who gave life to the characters on stage were Sarat Padippura, Martin Nettoor, Unni Max, Jomet Madakkathanam, Sunil Muvattupuzha, Saji Vagamon, Biju V Thankappan, Dhanya Gopinath and Anju Rani. According to the actors, their intention was to display their talents rather than highlighting the problems they faced. The organisers now hope to present the play on other stages in the country and abroad. The stage arrangements were done by R L V Ajay and Anoop Pune, while the costumes were designed by Yakob Allapra. An inaugural function was held before the staging of the play. District Collector Muhammed Safirulla, actor Vishnu Unnikrishnan, actor-director Sohan Seenulal and Dr R Geeta Devi spoke. Fri, 22 Mar 2019 01:52:34 GMT Kode Kochi Kode hackathon to tackle deep problems Kochi: One of the most popular technical festivals in the country, Abhiyanthriki 2019 hosted by Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology (RSET) will also include one-of-a-kind hackathon, 'Kode Kochi Kode'. The two-day contest which begins from March 15, Kode Kochi Kode will have students working together to find practical solutions to obstacles facing “Future Generations” and “Smart Cities”. This 24-hour uninterrupted event will focus on contemporary themes such as smart healthcare, innovative applications of chat bots, personalizing digital content, modern technologies and finance. Practicality, ergonomics, and feasibility are what students have been encouraged to be mindful of. The themes were provided by leading online survey firm Survey Sparrow in association with IT and media services experts HiFX, customer engagement platform venture Agreefy, and investment management solutions provider RedBlack. In addition to Kode Kochi Kode, there are parallel sessions like Auto Show and Band Slam, and sessions where jobs, internships, and mentoring opportunities are offered live. This promising tech-festival was inaugurated by renowned Malayalam and Tamil actor Sunny Wayne on March 11. Thu, 14 Mar 2019 10:12:22 GMT 13 arrests so far in Kochi honour killing case Kakkanad: Six more persons were arrested yesterday in connection with the murder of Jibin Verghese (34), who was found dead by the roadside near Palachuvadu bridge at Vazhakkala last Friday. The arrested persons include Kunduveli Olikkuzhi Salam (42) Olikkuzhi Padannat Azeez (47), Manappadath Aneez (34), of Sreebhoothapuram near Sreemoolanagaram, Kunduveli Olikkuzhi Hassainar (37), Ullampilly Shihab (33) from Olimukal and Kannankeriyil Nisar (30) from Chittethukara. Seven persons were already arrested by the Thrikkakkara Police in connection with this case. Aneez is the son-in-law of Azeez, whose younger son Manaf was already under police custody. The rest of the arrested persons are Azeez’s relatives or neighbours. The murder had allegedly taken place at Azeez's residence. One more person, who had travelled along with the gang in a car behind the autorikshaw in which Jibin’s body was taken to be abandoned on the roadside, is yet to be arrested. It is not clear whether he had directly participated in the assault. The death of Jibin, whose body was found by the roadside, would have been written off as another hit-and-run case had it not been for some CCTV footage which showed his body being taken into an autorikshaw by the accused. There was tension between Jibin and Azeez's family over his alleged affair with a woman belonging to Azeez’s family. According to the case registered by the Thrikkakkara police, Jibin was lured to the house on Friday night after which he was brutally attacked and killed. All the accused whose arrest was recorded on Tuesday were already under police custody from Monday onwards. Jibin begged for his life Jibin is reported to have begged for his life till the last moment, according to the police. He had begged the attackers to take him to a hospital and that he would not reveal he was beaten up but was injured in some accident, but the attackers never listened. The assault had lasted almost for two hours. Jibin who had reached the house at Kunduveli was received with a kick which sent him rolling down the staircase. Even though quite healthy and strong, Jibin could not resist the unexpected kick and he was dragged and tied to the grill beneath the staircase. The details of the brutal assault were revealed by the accused on being questioned individually and in group by the police. The statements given by the woman who was witness to the assault had provided valuable evidence to the police. Eleven out of the accused persons are neighbours and the remaining three are relatives who were summoned to the spot. Wed, 13 Mar 2019 11:51:06 GMT Brain-dead youth dies, turns life saviour for four sick people Kochi: A 19-year-old welder who passed away here has given the gift of life to four people as his organs were harvested when he was declared brain-dead. Ajay Johny from Cheranallur was seriously injured in an accident on Varappuzha Bridge last Saturday. Though he was rushed to Aster Medcity in the city, he was declared brain-dead on Tuesday morning. His organs were donated under the government's organ donation program, Mritasanjeevani. A patient at Aster MedCity, where he was admitted, received his liver while patients at Amrita Hospital received his pancreas and a kidney. The other kidney was sent to Kozhikode Medical College. Ajay's organs were procured by multi-organ transplant surgeon and consultant at Aster Medcity, Dr Mathew Jacob. He was assisted by Dr M Naushif, Dr A Nisha and Dr Nidhin. Ajay was the only son and the sole support of couple Naduvilapparambil Johny and Sherli, who are both labourers. Sun, 10 Mar 2019 01:39:09 GMT Kochi-Kottayam barge service begins Kochi: The Kochi-Kottayam barge service has finally begun in a huge impetus to inland freight movement. The barge 'KPACT-1' will move four 40-feet containers on its inaugural journey along National Waterways 3 and 9. The inaugural service was flagged off by Cochin Port Trust chairman-in-charge AV Ramana on Saturday. This new service comes as a big boon to the business community who had been pressing for a similar service to improve the ease of transporting goods in the state. Logistics account for 18 per cent of business costs in India. As it is more cost-effective in moving goods along the river, businesses are likely to see a substantial drop in expenses. Building up the waterways is a key agenda for the ministry and it has borne majority of the costs save for the land acquisition. It is expected that with this cost-effective mode of transport, Indian goods could be made more competitive in the global market. Given how Kerala has an extensive network of rivers and canals, there is immense potential, not to mention how it would declog our roads and reduce pollution. Sat, 09 Mar 2019 09:51:48 GMT Thykoodam stretch of Kochi Metro to be ready soon Kochi: Soon the services of the Kochi Metro will be available till Thykoodam which is on the outskirts of the city. The Maharaja’s College Ground –Thykoodam stretch of the Kochi Metro is expected to be ready for service on June 30. However, the Metro will reach Pettah, which lies a few kilometers from Thykoodam only by March, 2020. The new extension will connect the South Railway Station and Vyttila Mobility Hub with the metro route. With this, the public can make use of the metro trains to traverse the city from one side to the other without getting caught in traffic jam. People can leave their private vehicles at Aluva or Vyttila and use the metro to reach the heart of the city quickly and get their business done without getting caught in the endless rows of traffic. However, the Kochi Metro can completely fulfill its aim only when the route reaches Tripunithura. For the Kochi Metro to be made truly useful to the public, it has to provide connectivity with the important centres in the city. At present, the metro trains run from Aluva till Ernakulam Maharaja’s College Ground station. New stations At present, the Kochi Metro issues tickets only to 16 stations located along the 18 km between Aluva and Ernakulam Maharaja’s Ground Station. From June 30 onwards, six new stations will added to this list – Ernakulam South, Kadavanthra, Elamkulam, Vyttila and Thykoodam. By next March, the Metro will cover Pettah as well, extending the total length of the rail to 25 km from Aluva. Train tests on A total number of 25 trains are required for the daily service rom Aluva to Pettah, out of which 13 trains are required for the Maharaja's College Ground-Pettah route alone. Six rakes have already arrived, with the test drive of four of them already over. The test drive of the rest two rakes is taking place now. The remaining six trains are expected to arrive soon, and with that Kochi Metro will have 25 trains in all. Challenging work over Watching the slow pace of work, it was doubted whether the Maharaja’s–Thykoodam stretch could ever be completed by June. However, the considerable progress made in the work recently ensures that the Metro will reach Thykoodam on June 30. With the construction of the balanced cantilever bridge at Ernakulam South getting completed on time, the most challenging part of the construction is over. Another major challenge was the completion of the Vyttila overbridge and the laying of the Metro rails along the overbridge and this work is also nearing completion. The remaining work could certainly be finished on time. There are 273 pillars between Maharaja’s College Ground and Pettah and 271 till Thykoodam. The 18-feet-high crossover viaduct will soar over the Vyttila Junction carrying the rails across the hectic traffic. The work of the pillars is 75% done and the laying of the bridges almost 40% over. The interior works in station buildings have progressed almost 50%, and 40% work of the roof is over. Almost 70% construction of the 5.94 km of Metro Rail from Maharaja’s College Ground station to Pettah has already been completed, without counting the interior decoration. However, that too is expected to be over soon as all the works are getting done simultaneously. Pettah– Tripunithura After the metro rail reaches Pettah, it will be extended 2 km to S.N. Junction, Tripunithura, by December, 2020. There will be two stations in this stretch – North Fort Gate and S.N. Junction. There is also a proposal to extend the Rail till Tripunithura Railway Station, but no final decision has yet been taken on this proposal. The Pettah – Tripunithura Route will cost Rs. 335.56. But the construction of a new bridge at Pettah will not be an easy task as the river at Pettah is broader than at Chambakkara. The present Pettah Bridge is not broad enough, which will also cause a problem during construction. The Pettah–Tripunithura stretch will be the first independent responsibility of the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), while the work till Pettah so far was conducted by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). ‘More passengers, more income’ With the Kochi Metro reaching Tripunithura, an increase of 20,000 passengers, which will increase the revenue, is expected. This will be the first step for making the Metro profitable. The first phase of the Kochi Metro is from Aluva to Pettah. Only when this whole stretch is competed will the full impact of Metro Rail in Kochi’s traffic could be experienced. With the public transport getting streamlined, the unending traffic jams in the city is expected to be alleviated, providing better traffic options, Muhammed Hanish, MD, KMRL said. Chambakkara Bridge The major reason for the holdup in completing the rail to Pettah is the delay in the construction of Chambakkara Bridge. The new bridge, now getting built near the old Chambakkara Bridge is getting completed. This will be an arch bridge like the Marthandam Bridge at Aluva. The concreting of the bridge will begin soon. The approach roads are getting completed. The construction of the arch is over. Most probably, the bridge will be ready for traffic by next month. The metro rail work in this section could be started only after diverting the traffic through the new bridge. The old bridge has to be used for the work. After the metro work is completed, the old bridge will make way for a new one, creating a four-lane-bridge like the Ernakulam North Railway Over Bridge. This will greatly alleviate the traffic snarls at Chambakkara and by that time the metro is also expected to reach Pettah. Sat, 09 Mar 2019 01:40:57 GMT Unique Biennale installation conveys survival beyond decay Kochi: The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which is on here for the last couple of months, has so far showcased several items of contemporary art. An installation from degenerating substances also stands out among the items on display at various venues. Artist Veda Kolleri is behind this unique piece. Veda has used materials that decay when exposed to the elements. She started using biodegradable items in her works as a Master’s student of Fine Arts at the Shiv Nadar University, Noida. Decayed wood, mud, dry leaves, grass, animal bones, thorns and honeycombs were used for this art work. It was made from items she had collected during her journey from Noida to Kochi. Rain in Kerala too has influenced my work, Veda revealed. At the Biennale venue, she has been successful in creating a unique atmosphere with short videos, images, drawings and writings. Her installation creates a feeling of walking with death. Veda says it represents life’s survival beyond degeneration. Veda's installation is displayed at Pepper House, Kochi. Tue, 05 Mar 2019 01:46:54 GMT Now use Kochi Metro card on buses too Kochi: A prepaid card launched for convenient ride on the Kochi Metro can now be used in the city bus services as well. Initially, the facility is available only on 50 buses, but it will cover 1,000 buses in a couple of months. The Kochi1 Card was launched by the Kerala Metro Rail Limited in association with the Axis Bank earlier. A discount of 5 per cent on bus fare is available. For metro train riders, the card offers a 20 per cent discount. Bus passengers need to tell the conductor about their destination and number of passengers. The conductor will use a handheld scanner to read the card and the amount deducted will be paid to the account of the respective bus owners associations who are members of the scheme. The member owners can then divide the amount among themselves. Though the prepaid card facility for travel on city buses was unveiled two months ago, it came into effect only on March 1. The inauguration of the facility for bus service was held at the Taj Hotel the other day. The Kochi1 Card also offers 15 per cent discount in select city restaurants. Free entry to the lounge of the Cochin International Airport Limited is available eight times per year. Mon, 04 Mar 2019 01:58:25 GMT Consult doctors for free at this police station! Kalady: The police station at Kalady wears a busy look every Tuesday evening, but the people are crowding there not to file complaints, but for free medical checkups and for getting medicines. This is a unique project initiated by a group of doctors in Kalady with the support of the Kerala Police. Both the treatment and medicines are given for free. The free clinic functions from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm every Tuesday. The Police have offered the services of three or four police officers including a woman cop to support the functioning of the clinic. It was inaugurated two weeks ago by Rural SP Rahul R Nair. A large number of patients are turning out at the clinic every week. The treatment is being offered under the auspices of Cliff, a group of doctors, who had had taken the initiative to offer support to the people of Kalady during the 2018 floods. Cliff started giving free treatment in a rented building at Kalady five months ago. As the number of patients went on increasing, more doctors joined the project. When the first floor room from where they were functioning turned out to be inadequate, it was Saji Markose, the local Circle Inspector of Police, who offered the unoccupied old CI office in Kalady Police Station. The CI took the initiative to speed up the procedures to open the free clinic at the station. Dr. Najeeb Ummar, Dr. J S Siju, Dr. Lakshmi Siju and Dr. Sunil Elanthatt are the associated with the Cliff. Apart from them Dr. Vinitha Sunil, Dr. Rajesh Raju George, Dr. P M Joseph, Dr. Josey Kallarakkal and Dr. Smitha Rani are available for consultation at the clinic. CI Saji Markose recalled that a former teacher had distributed sweets to all the staff of the police station, congratulating them for the novel project which was a model for all other police stations. He said that it was proof of the growing public support for it. Cliff is now planning to rope in the support of psychological experts so as to benefit the police. Sun, 03 Mar 2019 01:35:08 GMT Fire at Brahmapuram plant doused Kochi: The fire at Brahmapuram waste management plant was doused after 48 hours on Sunday. All fire units in district and 70 firemen from Idukki and Kottayam were pressed into action at the plant. Parts of piles were removed with earthmovers and water pumped in. Ten high-pressure motors brought from neighbouring districts were installed to pump water onto the waste piles. Many firefighters experienced uneasiness while trying to contain the fire. Smog enveloped the plant and adjacent areas Sunday too. The smog had spread to Irumpanam and Thrippunithura, triggering panic among people. People in Lakshamveedu Colony, Bhaskaran Colony, Karshaka Colony, Pedikkattu Quarry and Paruparambu Colony in Irumpanam left home for relatives’ places to avoid smog. Many were treated at Thrippunithura Thaluk Hospital for breathing trouble. Lack of timely help from health department agitated the people. The Infopark Police have started investigating the conspiracy angle in the incident. Four incidents of fire were reported from the same plant in the last couple of months. Piles of dry garbage are prone to catch fire and all the fire incidents were reportedly from the waste pile. A small spark would trigger a huge fire as the garbage, including plastic waste, is lying under the hot sun. It is said the latest fire is the most severe. Read more: Latest Ernakulam news Mon, 25 Feb 2019 08:22:13 GMT This Aluva man gives free veggies to cancer patients Aluva: Chekkanat Jeffy, a vegetable vendor at Pulinchode Junction in Aluva, has set a rare example of compassion by offering vegetables free of cost for cancer patients from his shop. Cancer patients or their relatives can pick up vegetables for one or two days without paying a dime. Jeffy, who had been running a vegetable shop by the side of the National Highway, has started giving free vegetables to cancer patients since last Monday. He was prompted by the sight of some people rummaging around the heaps of spoiled vegetables that he had thrown out at the end of the day. On enquiring he came to know that those people were cancer patients who could not find even money for their treatment. Struck by the dire need of the patients, Jeffy had decided to make this awesome offer even though his own financial condition is not at all stable. He has even placed a flex banner announcing his willingness to offer free vegetables to cancer patients. In the beginning, there were not many patients coming forward to make use of the offer. But on Thursday, there were 14 people, says Jeffy. Tue, 26 Feb 2019 04:52:46 GMT Smog continues to envelop Kochi Kochi: Smog caused by a fire at Brahmapuram waste treatment plant continued to envelope the city for the third day Sunday. Efforts to douse the fire were called off because of poor light Saturday night. Air quality was affected in Kadavanthra, Vyttila, Maradu and Ambalamugal with several residents complaining of eye and throat irritations People continued to experience breathing problems because of the smog Sunday. With no respite in sight, people protesting by blocking roads in Irumpanam. Collector Muhammed Safirulla said smog would be contained by Sunday evening. Special arrangements have been made to treat those with related difficulties, authorities have said. The corporation has temporarily stopped collecting plastic waste in the city in the wake of the fire. Four incidents of fire were reported from the same plant in the last couple of months. Piles of dry garbage are prone to catch fire and all the fire incidents were reportedly from the waste pile. A small spark would trigger a huge fire as the garbage, including plastic waste, is lying under the hot sun. It is said the latest fire is the most severe. Read more: Latest Ernakulam news Sun, 24 Feb 2019 07:48:29 GMT This honesty shop will test your conscience Kochi: A shop with no salesgirl nor billing counter nor a surveillance camera; but a money box to drop the cash for the article you purchase. Tucked away beside the 5th Cross Road at Panampilly Nagar, this Utopian store thrives on the dictum honesty is the best policy. As you step into the Sathyam Stores, the recently opened outlet run by the Sathya Sai Orphanage Trust, you won't miss the board with a message: ‘This shop is a place to measure honesty in society.' Most of the products on sale are made by the inmates of Sai Gramam run by the Trust and vegetables cultivated at the Sai Krishi Bhoomi. The store also has handloom products manufactured by the inmates of the orphanage. The price of the product is displayed on each item. One can take away the item of their choice after dropping the cash equivalent to the price of the product into the box kept at the store. The shop has a notice specifying that the name of the shop is ‘Sathyam’ (truth) and that there are no salespersons or staff to give you the change in case you don't have the exact amount for the article purchased. Each rupee dropped into the box is being directly utilised for the children of the orphanage. The shop, the second one to be launched by the Sathya Sai Orphanage Trust, is open for business from 10 am to 5 pm. The first Sathyam Store was opened in Thiruvananthapuram in 2017. The idea behind such a store was conceived from the fact that no one will dare to deceive one's own conscience. Film director Major Ravi, who inaugurated the store the other day, said students should be brought to this shop to imbibe the values of honesty. Sathya Sai Trust executive director K N Ananthakumar, coordinator Baby Kireedathil, district president Ramesh Menon, CEO of Sai Krishi Bhoomi Satheesh Vasudevan Nair, K V Paul were present at the inaugural function. Sun, 24 Feb 2019 01:56:51 GMT Smoke envelops parts of Kochi after fire at Brahmapuram waste plant Kochi: Several parts of the Kochi city in Kerala are enveloped in smoke likely emanating from a fire at Brahmapuram waste treatment plant. Air quality has been affected in Kadavanthra, Vyttila, Maradu and Ambalamugal with several residents complaining of eye and throat irritations. Mayor Soumini Jain has asked for an inquiry to ascertain if the fires were lit deliberately. Some protesters posing as locals are suspected to be behind it. A complaint with the police after a previous fire yielded no result. The district collector will be asked to lead the probe now, the mayor added. Four incidents of fire were reported from the same plant in the last couple of months. Piles of dry garbage are prone to catch fire and all the fire incidents were reportedly from the waste pile. A small spark would trigger a huge fire as the garbage, including plastic waste, is lying under the hot sun. It is said the latest fire is the most severe. It has been found fire engines could not reach easily the source of fire amid heaps of garbage. Moreover, machines that are used to prevent the spread of fire through waste could not be brought on time. The mayor has asked for clarification on these too. Fire engines were stationed near to the main entrance of the treatment plant and water was pumped 300 meters away with the help of hoses to douse the fire during a fire in January. Earlier too the residents had alleged that some miscreants had set the waste mounds on fire. They had said that a small fire was found at the middle of a vast expanse of garbage and strong winds fanned the flames to other areas. Ernakulam collector Mohammed Y Safirulla had visited the spot in January following a fire. Read more: Latest Ernakulam news Sat, 23 Feb 2019 05:43:00 GMT Police release photos of clothes to identify woman dumped in Periyar Aluva: The police are still groping in the dark in establishing the identity of the woman whose body was fished out of the Periyar River though the sleuths found CCTV images of a white hatchback car that was used by the accused and identified the shop from where a bedsheet was bought, probably to wrap the body. The photos of the dead body were circulated among people who had lodged woman-missing complaints in the past one year and in areas where the crime might have been committed. The police have released photos of the clothes worn by the woman when she was allegedly murdered. The images show a green three-fourth lower garment, which has ‘Apple’ etched in English through embroidery, of ‘Dara’ company, and a blue top manufactured by ‘Oakvalley’ company. The bottom of a churidhar was found stuffed in the woman’s mouth. The woman’s decaying body, wrapped in clothes and tied to stones, was found floating in the Periyar near Vincentian Vidhyabhavan next to the UC College here. Anyone with vital information can contact Rural SP at 9497996979. Thu, 21 Feb 2019 11:23:23 GMT Cops come to the rescue of witness nun in Franco case Muvattupuzha: Sister Lissie Kurian, one of the nuns who had given statement against rape accused bishop Franco Mulakkal, has been shifted from her convent here to a Thodupuzha hospital by cops. She was shifted from the Jeevajyothy Convent located at Vazhapilly, Thrikka, on Monday afternoon after her brother complained to the police that she was not being allowed to meet her ailing mother and family members. Police had come to her aid after her brother Jimmy approached the police alleging that she was being held captive at the convent. Sr Lissie was presented in the court after her statement was taken. Later, as she wished, she was shifted to a Thozupuzha hospital where her mother is under going treatment. On the basis of her statement, the Muvattupuzha police have registered a case against four people including the Mother Superior of the convent. Sr Lissie has been based at the convent at Thrikka in Muvattupuzha for the last 14 years after returning from Vijayawada where she was deputed. She was engaged in evangelical work and counselling at various convents in different provinces of the church. Sr Lissie appeared as a witness in the sensational nun rape case in which Bishop Franco of the Jalandhar diocese is the accused. Thereafter, she was taken to the Vijayawada centre by the church authorities, but she was allowed to return to Kerala to meet her ailing mother. She was accompanied by two nuns on this trip, but she reportedly went missing after she was allowed to proceed to Thodupuzha to meet her mother. Soon, Jimmy filed a complaint with the Kottayam police. Franco was arrested on September 21, 2018, on charges of rape, unnatural sex, criminal intimidation and illegal confinement, three months after a complaint by the assaulted nun and protests by her other Sisters of her order last year. In the complaint filed on June 28, 2018, Franco was accused of raping her 13 times from 2014 to 2016 at a convent in Kuravilangad. Franco returned to Jalandhar after securing bail on October 15. Tue, 19 Feb 2019 09:39:57 GMT Kochi woman doctor robbed of gold, diamonds Kochi: A woman doctor near Kochi was robbed of gold, diamonds and Rs 60,000 in cash on Friday night. Dr Grace Mathew, the medical officer at the Chengamanad government hospital, said that two masked men broke into her house and threatened to kill her and made away with the valuables. The doctor was alone in the house at the time of the incident. She said that she suspected the robbers were Malayalam speakers. The intruders broke open a door behind the house. While one of them forced the doctor to sit quiet, the other went about opening the cupboards and collecting the ornaments and money. Dr Mathews could call up the police only after the robbers fled around 2 am. The police immediately combed the area but they could not find any suspects. The investigation took to a slow start because the house was not equipped with surveillance cameras. The robbers even forced Dr Mathews to part with the ornaments she was wearing. Only the thali (Mangalsutra) was left behind because she had kept it elsewhere. Read more: Latest Ernakulam news Sat, 16 Feb 2019 09:49:06 GMT Actor plays MUDRA card to dupe artistes, arrested Muvattupuzha: A serial actor has been arrested for defrauding film producers, directors and junior artists of lakhs of rupees under the pretext of availing them loans under the the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY). Vijo P Johnson, 33, hailing from Thrissur district's Pazhayangadi, was held for swindling Rs 10.5 lakh from a woman hailing from Manjarippadi, Maradi South, here. Police said Vijo befriended the complainant woman, who is also associated with the entertainment industry, at a film set. On coming to know of her financial needs, Vijo convinced she would arrange money by securing loans from the MUDRA - the Micro Unit Development and Refinance Agency. The serial actor gained the woman's trust by filling the documents for her all by himself and even paid the sum that was required to complete the process. But soon after the loan was passed, Vijo made off with the entire amount, the woman said in her complaint. It is learnt that the con man had served imprisonments in the Viyyur central jail several times under similar scam charges. He had also carried out three loan frauds under the Peravoor police station limits in Thrissur, and was issued an arrest warrant for duping another person, Salam of Muvattupuzha, of Rs 5 lakh over land deals, police said. Fearing attacks from the victims who were duped of several lakhs of rupees, Vijo chose to sleep on the terrace of his house at night. The victims had even hired quotation gangs who would often come to his house during night, Vijo told the police. So he would take his car at the break of the dawn and would go for a long drive to remain outdoors all throughout the day. He won't stay at a single place for a long and would keep changing his phone numbers and went about with his fraudulent ways with impunity. When the police cordoned off his house, Vijo who was on the terrace, sneaked out and took to his heels, but was soon apprehended. Vijo had made small appearances in a couple of serials and films. MUDRA Scheme Under the PMMY loans are disbursed to small-scale units by the Micro Unit Development and Refinance Agency. It aims to provide low-interest loans to help micro business/ industrial startups of the country. The loan is credited through nationalised and private banks. Shishu, Kishor and Tarun schemes under it offer loans up to a maximum of Rs 10 lakh. Shishu covers loans up to Rs 50,000, Kishor is for loans above Rs 50,000 and up to Rs. 5 lakh and Tarun is for loans above Rs 5 lakh and up to Rs. 10 lakh. Read more Ernakulam News Sat, 16 Feb 2019 01:42:58 GMT Munambam beach to become disabled-friendly Munambam: The physically-challenged people would shortly get an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the river-mouth up close from the Munambam-Muziris beach here in the Ernakulam district. District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirula and other officials reviewed the construction of a ramp, which would provide hassle-free access to the beach for the differently-abled people. The project is backed by UN Habitat Global Public Space Programme with the support of ESAF, Livable Cities India and District Tourism Promotion Council. The Munambam beach, situated at the northern end of the Vypeen Island, has a pier paved with tiles that takes the visitors from the shore to the sea, and they can enjoy the charm of the river-mouth, where River Periyar flows into the Arabian Sea. The ramp, which is 19 meters long and 2 meters wide, would be inaugurated in the near future and would help the disabled to reach the one of the quaint spots in the district. Before the project was launched, a ‘Mind Craft’ programme involving 30 persons, including people’s representatives, was organized in a bid to find ways and means to develop the beach. One of the suggestions that was raised in the programme was to build a ramp for the benefit of the physically-challenged people. The officials concerned said that the project was a role model for other local self-government institutions in the state. Sat, 09 Feb 2019 01:47:43 GMT Case against principal, HM after ugly fracas with students' parents Muvattupuzha: The police have registered a case against the principal and headmistress of a private school for verbally abusing and threatening the parents of two children who faced disciplinary action. Seventh standard student Vince Benny and his mother Dolly Benny (42) from Pallithazath, Valayam, have been admitted to a private hospital owing to unease due to mental stress. Vince reportedly has high fever and Dolly is experiencing fatigue following the quarrel. Police version: Vince and classmate Madhava Mohanraj of Bright Public School, Valayam, were removed from class by the principal for repeatedly failing to bring a prescribed book. Their parents were asked to report at school immediately. Vince’s mother Dolly and Madhav’s father Mohanraj came to school by noon. The principal and headmistress verbally abused and threatened the parents, the complaint stated. The teachers even tried to manhandle Dolly. The abuse intensified when they questioned the attitude unbecoming of a principal. The children too were petrified. Though the principal was summoned to the police station for a statement, he refused and created more ruckus. This resulted in the filing of the case. Statement from Dolly and Mohanraj were recorded. The parents have written to the education minister and the chief minister saying that the students and teachers are under stress owing to the principal's conduct. They urged the authorities to give counseling to students under police protection and take action against the principal. Read more Cricket News Mon, 04 Feb 2019 01:54:15 GMT French lessons on turning waste items into pieces of art Kochi: Creating art from discarded items is a passion for Veronica Fillette from France, a visitor at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. She passed on her knowledge to youngsters at the Art by Children (ABC) programme held as part of the biennale at Cabral Yard. Veronica sees art in every object and often picks up items, which we consider waste, from the streets. She turns these apparently useless items into pieces of art. The children who took part in the programme were amazed by the transformation of these materials. Among the interesting creations were earrings and handicraft items made out of cola tins. Veronica felt that Kochi Biennale provided a platform for cultures of various continents to come together. “I don’t create fancy jewellery from waste items to sell it, but to come closer to people. If people have their own ideas, they can create other pieces of art and make money from it. But the profit so earned has to be used for the good of society,” she said. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, various other programmes were held at the Biennale. They included a calligraphy workshop from 10 am to 5 pm at Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi; a sister library symposium at the Pepper House and screening of the film ‘The Garden of Forgotten Show’ directed by Avijith Mukul Kishore at the Fort Kochi pavilion in the evening. Read more Ernakulam News Sun, 03 Feb 2019 04:02:30 GMT Rahul impressed by young ‘fighter’ Asim Kochi: As Congress president Rahul Gandhi was leaving the house of late parliamentarian MI Shanavas in haste for the party meet at Marine Drive on Tuesday, he paused on hearing a call. "Rahulji… please, come here," said a voice from near the mosque gate. It came from the physically challenged boy Mohammed Asim. As Rahul walked up to the boy, neglecting security arrangements, Asim made his demand for a school where he can study after the eighth standard. He made the same demand to the government the other day at the inauguration of a protest held by a group for the physically challenged in front of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. Rahul listened to the boy and took the 12-year old in his arms and posed for a picture with opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala. He shared a short video on the social media later saying, "Asim is a fighter. We are proud of him. I’m sure about that." Asim, who won last year’s ‘Ujwala Balyam’ award, hails from Velimanna in Kozhikode. Son of Said Yamani, Asim is a student of Velimanna School, which was upgraded to upper primary during the last UDF government. As an order to make it a high school is yet to be implemented by the government, Asim can't attend the school. Asim and family were waiting for Rahul Gandhi in front of the house hearing about his visit. Asim, who has 90 per cent physical disability, has launched an agitation last year demanding a high school near his house. Born without both arms, Asim is a bright student and has completed his seventh standard. He wants the Government Mappila UP School at Velimanna where he studied till Class 7 to be upgraded as a high school. The boy, who draws pictures with his toes, had been attending classes and carrying out his other academic activities with the help of his parents. Velimanna is an underdeveloped area in Omassery grama panchayat. There is no high school in a radius of 5 km and if the school is upgraded, students in six other wards in Omassery as well as four wards in nearby panchayats will benefit, local leaders had claimed. Thu, 31 Jan 2019 01:41:31 GMT A feather in the cap of Kalady police station Kalady: The Kalady police station has been adjudged one of the three best stations in the rural districts of the state, the other two being Kodanad and Chottanikkara stations. This is the first time Kalady station is getting the honour for the best police station. CI Saji Marcose received the trophy during the Republic Day celebrations held at the Police Headquarters on January 26. The station excelled in terms of keeping a well-maintained building, amenities, clean and hygienic surroundings, speedy closure of cases, and maintenance of records. The beautiful garden in front of the station, and the adjoining vegetable farm are a few things that made Kalady station stand out. Bittergourd, lady’s finger, snake guard, cabbage, tomato and cauliflower are grown here. The police officers themselves get into the shoes of gardeners and maintain the garden, and they harvested the first yield of vegetables. The station has a total of 52 staff, including a Circle Inspector, 2 Sub-inspectors, 15 ASIs and women civil police officers. A vast area from Kuttampuzha panchayat to Nedumbassery panchayat falls under the jurisdiction of the station. The prominent spots that come under the limits of the station are Malayattoor mountain ranges, Kurissumudy, Sree Sankara birth place, Kanjoor Church pilgrimage centre, Thiruvairanikulam temple which draws lakhs of devotees for its 12-day nadathurappu festival, the adjoining areas near Nedumbassery international airport, Sanskrit University, the tourist spot of Mulankuzhi Mahagonythottam. The present building of the station was constructed in 1978. The government has sanctioned Rs 2 crore to set up a new building on its premises. Shijo Varghese is the Principal ASI of the station. Read more Ernakulam News Wed, 30 Jan 2019 04:01:35 GMT A hapless Nimisha’s parents stare at unkept promises Kizhakkambalam: It has been six months since the cold-blooded murder of Nimisha, of Anthinattu House, of Pookattupady, has rocked the village, but her parents are striving hard to come to terms with the emotional loss despite the huge financial crisis they are immersed in. On July 30, last year, a migrant worker slit her throat when she resisted his move to steal her grandmother’s chain. Soon after the tragedy struck the village of Edathikkad in Kizhakkambalam panchayat, a host of dignitaries including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, union minister Alphons Kannanthanam, ministers J Mercykutty Amma and Kadannappally Ramachandran had flocked to Nimisha's house. Hundreds of well-wishers have promised help to the financially backward family, but none was fulfilled. Nimisha's father Thampi, an autorickshaw driver, is neck deep in financial crisis. Six months after the tragedy, the family is yet to get any government aid. Thampi has built a house with the help of bank loans but owing to constant loan defaults the house is on the verge of recovery proceedings. He also has to repay the educational loan taken for Nimisha's BBA studies. The authorities have promised to take necessary action to arrange the compensation for the family as soon as the reports from police station and village office are ready. The report would be submitted to the government after fixing the compensation amount, the authorities said. Tue, 29 Jan 2019 08:20:12 GMT Cochin Gujarati school turns 100 in style Kochi: The Gujarati school here has completed 100 years of glorious service. The institution, which was established as a centre to teach Gujarati language to girls of families who had migrated to Kerala from Gujarat, has come a long way in the past 100 years. The centenary celebrations of the Cochin Gujarati LP and UP School will be inaugurated by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on January 31. The centre, which came into existence in 1904, became a regular school in 1919. It was functioning from a rented space since 1904, and the school moved to the present building, which was inaugurated by then Cochin Dewan Vijay Raghavachari, in 1919. The school got government recognition in 1957, and eventually became a government-aided educational institution. It also got the nod to teach lessons in English medium from class I to class VII in 1962. Padmanabha Menon was the head master and Babubhai Jayaram the manager when school became an aided institution. English medium in the high school section was started in 1962, and a new high school building was opened by then Kerala chief minister R Shankar the next year. The school was expanded into a higher secondary school in 2003, and the kindergarten division was started in 2009. The institution which began functioning in 1904 with 57 students, now has 2,500 students and 115 teaching and non-teaching staff. People from Gujarat migrated to Kochi for business purposes and later settled down over here. As many as 812 families, comprising 4,500 members, come under the Cochin Gujarati Mahajan. Out of these 812 families, 650 families are based in Mattancherry and Kochi regions in Ernakulam district. Close to 8,000 Gujaratis are settled in Kerala. The three-day centenary celebrations will be held at the Kuruva Ground on Gujarati Road here from January 31. The cultural festivities will be inaugurated by Kerala Education Minister C Raveendranath on February 1, and the programmes of February 2 will be opened by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac. Film actor Mammootty will also be part of the function. An alumni meet will be held on February 2. Read more from Ernakulam Mon, 28 Jan 2019 01:46:54 GMT On her fingertips: Visually challenged IAS officer experiences Kochi biennale Kochi: Ernakulam Assistant Collector Pranjal Patil enjoyed the installations at the ongoing Kochi biennale with a difference – by touch. Patil, the country’s first visually-challenged woman IAS officer, came calling at the art carnival and spend more than five hours at the event. Marina Thayil, one of the 20 art mediators at the venue, walked her through the art works of the ongoing fourth edition of the Kochi biennale. “I am visiting an art exhibition of this scale for the first time. The art mediators are doing a good job as they gave a ringside view of the installations and artists before steeping into each exhibition space,” said Patil, who hails from Maharashtra. Marina, who accompanied Patil during her visit to the Aspinwall venues, said, “Patil’s disability never stood in her way to appreciate the installations, and she was very interested in art.” “I was totally exhausted after five hours, but she was brimming with energy and left for the next venue with another art mediator,” she added. Sat, 26 Jan 2019 01:55:12 GMT Why Clint’s father did not want to be buried with his son Kochi: Child prodigy Edmund Thomas Clint's father did not want to be a burden on his son's grave. M T Joseph (74), who died on Thursday due to old age-related ailments, had given directions to hand over his body to a medical college at Kolencherry because he did not want to disturb his son’s final rest by breaking open the family tomb. Joseph’s wife Chinnamma has also left directions to donate her body to a medical college when she dies. Joseph and Chinnamma spent much of their lives preserving and promoting the artworks by their son who passed away at the age of 7 in 1983. Clint made a mark as a talented artist before his life was cut short due to an illness. Clint used to draw and paint in the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology quarters at Thevara in Kochi. Joseph tried to retain the memory-filled house even after he retired from the central government institute but official rules were against his wish. He later shifted to a house at Kaloor and named it after his son. Memories came flooding back when Clint’s life was made into a movie by director Harikumar. Joseph and Chinnamma broke down when they met the artiste who played their son’s part. They hugged the child actor, Alok, and wept for their son. They said that they felt like their son had returned. The movie featured many of Clint’s works as well as his chair and toys. Read more Ernakulam News Wed, 23 Jan 2019 01:45:36 GMT Green chemists, including Nobel laureate, test Kuttanad fields A group of foreign scientists practising green chemistry, including a Nobel prize winner, plunged into the paddy fields of Kuttanad to have a close look at its greenery. The team, which includes Nobel winner Dr. Robert Grubbs, is here to study the possibilities of green chemistry. They were shocked at the sight of heaps of garbage in various locations of Kuttanad and wondered why there are no plans to make tourism ecofriendly. Dr Shiju Raveendran, a Kozhikode native who teaches at the Amsterdam University, said a project to generate fuel from biowaste is at the research stage in the Netherlands. “Kerala can also think of this,” he said. Netherlands has geographical similarities with Kerala. Dr Bruce Lipschutz is leading a research to replace chemical solutions with water in several complex chemical reactions. A visitor once prompted Lipschutz into this research as he posed a question: “Do you have any idea as to how much chemical pollution your labs generate?” The idea ‘Don’t create waste’ originated thus. He said it was an Indian chemical firm that first used his green research, first published in 1998. In Kuttanad, Dr Lipschutz was fascinated by pong pong (Cerbera odollam), the suicide fruit and took it for mango. Once it was explained to him that many people have ended their lives consuming the fruit, he cautioned: “It looks like mango, but don’t eat.” As the boat parked in R. Block, some in the team asked why the paddy field is at a lower level than the backwaters. They were told the area is in fact below sea level. Great man Dr Grubbs stands tall among others not only because he is the 2005 Nobel winner. The tall man, who had to take extra care about his head inside a luxury boat, is noted for his simple ways. Grubbs, 76, was befriending everyone around, and joined a game of carroms on the boat. Asked for his comment on Kerala, Grubbs said: “Beautiful lakes.” He only offered a smile when it was pointed out that the pollution is quite high. What is green chemistry? Green chemistry, also called sustainable chemistry, aims at developing products and processes that curtail the use and generation of hazardous substances. The concept of green chemistry was born out of the fear that chemistry causes more harm than benefits to nature by generating harmful chemicals. Visiting Kuttanad and hearing its agonies, they have now realised that green chemistry is more absolutely relevant now. Read more Ernakulam News Wed, 16 Jan 2019 02:01:04 GMT Wheelchair artistes take the stage Perumbavoor: A play with a difference will be staged here. Its cast is exclusively made of people on wheelchair. The organisers of the unique play claimed this is the first stage play involving entirely wheelchair artistes. Nine artistes on the stage will show to the world what survival means. Suvarna Theatres of Valayanchirangara will be presenting the play ‘Chhaya’ with the cooperation of the Cochin Shipyard. Suvarna secretary N M Rajesh said he was inspired by the group’s orchestra ‘Thanal Freedom on Wheels.’ He held discussions with Thanal leader Sarath Padippura and the drama evolved. They first decided not to have a play with sympathy as the theme. The play runs in a light vein, dealing with the tensions of a painter under certain circumstances. V T Ratheesh has written and directed the play which is crafted to suit wheel-chaired artistes. The artistes are: Martin Nettoor, Sarath Padippura, Unni Max, Saji Vagamon, Anjurani Joy, Dhanya Gopinath, Shanu Navas, Sunil Muvattupuzha and Ranjith Piravam. The Samrudhi auditorium at Vengola was chosen to rehearse the drama as it suited the disabled cast. Dr Binoy Peter, the director of Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, and Shipyard Project Officer M K Yusuf offered all assistance. Tue, 15 Jan 2019 11:22:02 GMT Bollywood star Jacqueline lends a hand to Kerala rebuilding project Nedumbasseri: Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez is lending a hand to post-flood rebuilding project in Kerala. The Sri Lankan native, who has made a big name in Bollywood, arrived in the Thuruthu village in Chengamanad panchayat to participate in the ground breaking for two houses, which is among 500 such houses that the Habitat for Humanity India is building. Jacqueline, brand ambassador for Habitat, travelled to Kerala as part of the groups 'Jacqueline Builds' campaign. One of the houses, built in cooperation with Muthoot M George Foundation, goes to K C Anil Kumar and Sreedevi of Thuruthu, who lost their home in the flood. Jacqueline laid stones for the house and said she is proud to join Kerala's rebuilding, which has attracted the world's attention. The houses are designed to survive even an earthquake. An additional five pillars apart from the normal ones is a special feature. The houses are built at three metres from ground level, in a bid to ensure that flood waters do not enter. The event was attended by Anwar Sadat, MLA, Habitat India managing director Rajan Samuel, Muthoot group CGM K R Bijimon and actress Swetha Menon. Mon, 14 Jan 2019 01:45:32 GMT Two schools show the way how to beat strikes Nedumbassery: Two schools are a model to other institutions that are shutdown during the frequent hartals and other strikes that paralyse Kerala. The school authorities and the parent-teacher associations of St. Joseph's High School here came forward and vowed to keep it open during the recent two-day nation-wide strike. Our Lady's Convent Higher Secondary School at Thoppumpady in Kochi too also showed the way how to face shutdown calls. “We are not doing this to score brownie points against anyone, but to make sure that our students score good marks in exams,” said PTA office bearers of the Poovathussery St. Joseph’s High School near here on the decision to keep the school opened during the two-day general strike. The school, situated on the banks of the Chalakudy River, was ravaged by the floods last year and had to be closed for several days, and the students lost 36 academic days. The school came back to life many weeks after the flood waters receded from the school premises. The teachers and students are in distress as there is limited time to complete the syllabus of this academic year. But unfortunately, the new year, 2019, dawned with more shutdowns, and the school authorities decided to ensure that the students don’t lose any more classes. The PTA called an emergency meeting on January 7, and took a decision that the school would function as usual on the days of general strike on January 8 and 9. The students, who used public transport on normal days, were ferried to the school in school buses. PTA office-bearers travelled with the students on the bus and the Chengamanad police station provided security cover to the students and teachers. The school, which has close to 1,100 students, held classes for pupils from class V to class X, and the attendance was 95 percent. At Thoppumpady, the Our Lady’s Convent Higher Secondary School also functioned on the days of strike. The school authorities decided to conduct classes as the students lost many academic days. The school buses plied with police protection and the attendance was a healthy 65 percent, said school principal Sister Lissie Chakalakkal. Read more Ernakuam News Sat, 12 Jan 2019 01:47:27 GMT Home nurse kills alcoholic youth who attacked bedridden mom Kochi: A male home nurse who was taking care of a woman killed her alcoholic son when he tried to attack her. The deceased has been identified as Kollambarambil Thobias, 34, of Pallissery House at Palarivattom. The caregiver, Thrissur native Lawrence, 52, has been arrested by the police. The incident took place at 11.45 pm on Monday. Thobias was admitted to hospital with serious injuries but succumbed by 2 am. Lawrence was employed as a home nurse to look after the 72-year-old mother of Thobias. He had been working there for the past one year. Thobias used to pick up fights with others quite often, said the police. He also used to argue with family members. On Monday too he created a ruckus. He tried to attack his mother when Lawrence intervened and stabbed him with a kitchen knife in the melee. Thobias suffered five stab wounds on his back and below his right chest. He was profusely bleeding when he reached the hospital. Thobias suffered a cardiac arrest while doctors were giving him emergency treatment, the police added. The inquest has been completed by Palarivattom SI and the body was handed over to relatives after post-mortem on Tuesday. Thobias, a bachelor, was staying with his mother and sister. Wed, 09 Jan 2019 08:27:59 GMT Police file case after school girl's 'marriage' video goes viral Ernakulam: The police have registered a case against a person who had filmed the 'marriage' of a class X girl with him and uploaded the video on social media. The video shows the youth 'tying the knot' with the girl, who was in her school uniform, and putting sindoor on her forehead as part of the 'wedding ritual'. It is alleged that the youth lured the girl with a marriage proposal and recorded the video on his mobile in the presence of several friends. The girl is a student of a school under Muvattupuzha educational sub-district in Kerala, and the symbolic wedding took place a month ago. The school authorities came to know about the incident from other students and subsequently informed the girl’s parents. The parents lodged a complaint with the police after seeing the video clip, which became viral on social media. The Cyber police is probing the case. Some persons linked to the incident claimed that the 'marriage' was part of a telefilm shooting. Read more: Ernakulam news Sat, 05 Jan 2019 07:41:34 GMT Five BJP workers in custody for attacking woman cop Ernakulam: The Paravur police on Thursday took five BJP workers into custody in connection with the attack on a woman police officer at Thuruthipuram. P N Sheeja, a special branch officer attached to the Vadakkekara police station, was assaulted by a group of BJP workers on Wednesday during a protest march over the entry of two women of child-bearing age into Sabarimala. She was manhandled by the gang when she attempted to click photographs of them blocking a KSRTC bus during the march. The protesters grabbed her and took away her mobile phone before slapping and pushing her down. Sheeja’s husband, a KSRTC employee, who reached there by chance, was also assaulted by the gang. Two persons, Adichal Santhosh, 42, and Kalappattu Unnikrishnan, 35, both natives of Kodungallur, had been arrested soon after the incident. The police confirmed that the 10-member bike-borne gang that unleashed violence in the area hailed from Kodungallur. The mobile phone is yet to be recovered. The bus stopped by the protesters was operating on the Guruvayoor-Cherthala route. They had earlier blocked the same bus near the Kottapuram bridge, but the Kodungallur police’s intervened and allowed the bus to proceed. The agitators got angry when they were booed by a section of passengers. They chased the bus in their motorbikes and staged a blocked when it reached near the petrol bunk at Thuruthipuram. Before that incident, the same group of protesters had allegedly smashed the windshield of another KSRTC bus near Chakkumarassery. The woman cop was on her way to the police station after recording a video of the incident when she came under attack for clicking photos of the road blockade. She is currently undergoing treatment at the Paravur Taluk hospital. Fri, 04 Jan 2019 04:21:05 GMT Fire at Brahmapuram plant; No lessons learnt Kizhakambalam: A massive fire broke at the Brahmapuram waste treatment plant sending shock waves to residents on Tuesday. The local people were panic stricken as huge heaps of garbage, including plastic, dumped near to the plant caught fire at 3 pm filling the areas surrounding the facility with toxic smoke. Ten units of fire tenders from Thrikkakara, Eloor, Pattimattom, Tripunithura and Gandhinagar toiled hard for close to four hours to douse the inferno. Residents said that a small fire was found at the middle of vast expanse of garbage and strong winds fanned the flames to other areas. More fire tenders were pressed into service as the fire started to spread alarmingly to other areas. The situation became grave as the fire engines could not go near to the burning junk. The fire engines were stationed near to the main entrance of the treatment plant and water was pumped 300 meters away with the help of hoses to douse the fire. The cause of the fire is unknown. A small spark would trigger a huge fire as the garbage, including plastic waste, is lying under the hot sun. Meanwhile, the residents alleged that some miscreants had set the waste mounds on fire. Ernakulam district collector Mohammed Safirulla and deputy collector T Sheeladevi visited the spot. Read more Ernakulam News Fri, 04 Jan 2019 01:41:55 GMT How a thief who nicked expensive phone was made to return it ASAP Nedumbassery: Surveillance cameras played cop and helped CISF officers nab the man who nicked an expensive mobile phone that had accidentally fallen off from a passenger at the Cochin International Airport here. The thief was called back to the airport and made to return the phone to its owner by the alert security staff. The phone belonged to Shaji Paul from Muvattuppuzha who had landed at the airport in a Sri Lankan airlines flight from Colombo in the morning. It had accidentally slipped out of his hands while waiting outside the terminal for his ride. Shaji discovered the loss only after he had left the airport. But he complained to the Terminal Manager and the Nedumbassery Police immediately. He also informed the CISF’s CCTV surveillance unit. When the surveillance team took a look at Shaji’s movements within the airport, they noticed the phone had slipped out of his hands and fallen under the seat. They also saw a man, who was with a group, pick it up. The group soon left in a vehicle. Just as the airport security staff were about to trace the vehicle owner from its registration number, the contact number of the owner was found displayed on the vehicle itself as the cameras had captured it. The vehicle had reached Kalady when they contacted the driver after getting his phone number from the owner. With some forceful talk, the pilferer who was from Perumbavoor accepted his guilt. As instructed by the CISF, he returned to the airport and handed over the phone to its owner. He had switched it off as soon as he nicked it. More than 3,000 high-definition cameras have been installed throughout the airport and are monitored 24x7 by a CISF unit. Read more Ernakulam News Fri, 28 Dec 2018 03:38:27 GMT MBBS students copy en masse during internal exam in Kochi Kalamassery: Mass copying has been detected during the internal exam of final-year MBBS students at Ernakulam Government Medical College. The college authorities have reportedly not taken any action against students so far. Students used mobile phones to copy in the exam held on December 19. Mobile phones from 34 students were seized and the exam cancelled. Ninety-two students had taken the exam. The mass copying came to the notice of the authorities when a student captured the visuals of the incident on his mobile phone and sent it to parents who in turn filed a complaint by email. An inspection was carried out and 34 mobile phones were seized. Though this is an internal exam, its marks have to be sent to the university. The University of Health Sciences has strictly prohibited the use of mobile phones inside exam halls. It has also directed installation of mobile jammers inside the halls. Though the Ernakulam Government Medical College has a mobile jammer installed, the authorities came to know that it is not functioning only when the mass copying was came to light. No official complaint has been received and the department head has postponed the exam, said vice-principal Dr Jayashri. Dr Jacob K Jacob and Dr Joe Joseph from the medicine department have been entrusted with submitting a report on the incident, said department head Dr Jils George. Read more: Latest Kerala news Sat, 22 Dec 2018 06:28:56 GMT Ordeal for disabled as doctors skip camp Varappuzha: Negligence of the Health Department officials and doctors caused misery to several differently abled people at a camp organised by the panchayat for their benefit. The panchayat had set apart Rs 6 lakh in the previous budget for buying aids for such people. Many people had submitted applications with the panchayat for such equipment and the camp was arranged to decide on the appliance needed for each person. Hundreds of differently able people reached the Panchayat Community Hall where the camp was held early on Thursday morning. However, only the medical officer of the panchayat and a doctor from the Pallururthy Hospital arrived to examine the intended beneficiaries. Several people with different disabilities like blindness, deafness and locomotor disabilities had arrived. However, no specialist doctors turned up and the two doctors present could not examine all the disabled people. Finally, almost all the handicapped left the venue empty handed. Panchayat president K S Muhammed said that the District Medical Office had informed the panchayat that at least five doctors would be deployed for the camp. A complaint will be submitted to the District Collector and the Health Minister against the shoddy attitude of the health department officials, he said. An agitation will also be staged in front of the District Medical Office. Read more District News Sat, 22 Dec 2018 01:41:47 GMT Ummer's space odyssey with ISRO continues He had just a few tools, including hammers, and a forge around 40 years ago, but his confidence was sky high. K K M Ummer had the gumption to walk into Thiruvananthapuram ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), which was then taking baby steps in space technology, and declare that he would help in making rockets. And that made a huge impression on, none other than, A P J Abdul Kalam. Eighty-year-old Ummer's invaluable contributions stood in good stead for ISRO while it made giant strides in space science research and planet exploration. His modest engineering workshop, Navabharath Metal Industries, at Edappally in Ernakulam had produced more than 10,000 components for ISRO’s rockets, and the association still continues. How did Ummer, who loved history and geography, get into this vocation? There is an interesting or a rather funny story behind it. Everyone looked down on Ummer during his childhood days for two ‘ill-starred’ reasons – he used to stammer, and was a leftie. His family members and religious leaders tried hard to make him right handed but in vain. After completing his pre-university, he got a job as a teacher at a time when teachers were held in high esteem in the society. But soon he lost interest in the job because of his stammering. After that, Ummer started to work as a blacksmith to the chagrin of the family members and neighbours. ISRO, in its formative stages, called for applications from interested persons to produce components for experimental rockets, and that brought Ummer to the space research organization and before an interview panel comprising doyens such as A P J Abdul Kalam, A E Muthunayagam and C R Sathya. ISRO’s condition then was worse than Ummer’s as Abdul Kalam and Muthunayagam used to work sitting on stools. The interview board showed a technical drawing to Ummer, and asked him whether he could make the component as per the specifications. He couldn’t make head or tail of the drawing and thought of giving up. Later, they gave him a smaller technical drawing to Ummer and he couldn’t understand that too. “I can’t do it Sir. I am not able to figure out the drawing,” Ummer said. “Don’t say that you can’t do it. Just give it a try,” said Abdul Kalam while patting Ummer’s shoulders. Ummer’s teacher Unni Menon also used to give similar words of encouragement. The teacher used to tell Ummer to execute a work, whatever be the task, with great sincerity, and that had urged him to work as a blacksmith against all odds. The ISRO scientists guided Ummer on the metal to be used to make the component with the condition that the metal shouldn’t give way during the tempering process. Ummer followed their instructions and the scientists found that the component made by him can withstand high pressure. And that opened a door of opportunity and many orders from ISRO followed. The moulds of Apple and SPD antennas used in ASLV, SLV 3 and PSLV rockets were made at Ummer’s workshop. Ummer got a letter from the US space agency NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) on October 6, 1994 stating that it came to know about his association with ISRO and his component technology, and was interested in associating with him. But Ummer never cared to reply to NASA. Ummer never believes that money is everything, and that’s why he hasn’t scaled greater heights. His illustrious clientele includes ISRO, Kerala State Electricity Board Limited and French company Alstom, which manufactures coaches for Kochi metro, among others. Ummer’s workshop, which had a humble beginning, now boasts of boring and milling machines, lathe and grinding machines, and has grown into a medium scale engineering workshop. The octogenarian still has both feet on ground with an air of confidence. Thu, 20 Dec 2018 01:38:02 GMT Ernakulam family robbed on train, RPF refuses to accept complaint Moovattupuzha: A Malayali family was robbed on a train near Nagpur as they were going home for a death anniversary. The victims said that the coach was not guarded by Railway Protection Force personnel and the railway authorities in Nagpur and Kochi kept turning him back without accepting their complaint. Manu Sebastian, a nurse working in a hospital at Mahroni in Uttar Pradesh’s Lalitpur district, was on his way to Aluva along with his wife, child and mother to attend his father’s first death anniversary when two youngsters robbed them on the S8 coach of the Nizamuddin-Ernakulam Millennium Express on December 11. The robbers struck within 10 minutes of the train leaving the Nagpur station. The train had stopped for want of the green signal when the duo snatched a bag from Sebastian’s wife, Priyanka. The family lost Rs 40,000, gold ornaments of two sovereigns, four mobile phones and a watch. They had to ask around for money to carry on with their journey home. The robbers struck on the next coach on the same day. Bharatiya Dalit Sahitya Academy southern secretary Radha Prabhakaran was robbed of Rs 2,000, two mobile phones, ATM cards and other documents. Babu George, who accompanied Prabhakaran, said that the RPF guards were missing in action on the coach. Sebastian also said that there was no one to guard the coaches at night. Repeated calls to the help line went unanswered. When the train reached the next station, Balharshah, Manu rushed to lodge a complaint but the RPF authorities refused to accept it, saying that he was supposed to raise the issue at his destination station. When he got down at Aluva and approached the station authorities, he was told to go to Ernakulam, the final stop of the train. At Ernakulam, he was told to lodge a complaint at Nagpur. Read more: Latest Ernakulam news Sat, 15 Dec 2018 08:37:49 GMT How the Biennale changed a budding artist's life Kochi: The renowned Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan remained shut for a talented youth who aspired to study art at the renowned institution founded by Rabindranath Tagore. He dreamt of becoming an artist of great repute after completing his school education and tried in vain twice to gain admission to the art school there. During his third bid, he got a chance to work as a volunteer at the first edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012 and that proved to be a game-changer for him. Vipin Dhanurdharan, who didn’t give up despite the odds, is set to exhibit his art creations in the current edition of Biennale, which opened on Wednesday, after being an employee with it for the last two editions. “The first biennale was an eye-opener for me and learnt a lot from it,” said Vipin. The art exhibition encouraged cultural interface and art discourses, and my aim was to interact with noted artists from India and abroad in the first three editions of the Biennale, he noted. And this experience augured well for Vipin, and finally he landed up as an artist in Biennale 2018. His works for the fourth edition of Biennale take inspiration from the philosophy of social reformer Sahodaran Ayyappan. Vipin puts focus on Sahodaran Ayyappan’s ‘Panthibhoganam’ (communal feast), which was a powerful statement against the crippling caste system that prevailed in Kerala. Vipin was selected to Biennale 2018 after successfully completing a training programme conducted by the Kochi Biennale Foundation. Eleven artists participated in the training module, known as Mattanchery, and Vipin presented a video documentary by the name of ‘Petrichor’ in which he told the story of canals in and around Mattancherry. Biennale 2018 curator Anita Dube was full praise for Vipin as his work detailed the sorry state of affairs of the polluted canals, which were once used for taking bath and drinking water, and their social ramifications. Anita has an open mind towards novel artistic ideas, noted Vipin. After the first Biennale, Vipin continued with the Biennale Foundation and was part of the residency programme of the Fort Kochi Pepper House. Vipin said that he would be returning to the creative side once the exhibition starts. Thu, 13 Dec 2018 01:41:36 GMT 3 youths escape after car falls into water-filled trench dug on road Kothamangalam: Three youths travelling on the Palamattam-Neryamangalam road had a miraculous escape when their car fell into a trench dug as part of the renovation of a bridge at Cherupara. Isahak, Mustafa and Gokul had set off from Vadakkancherry in Thrissur when the accident took place at 2 am on Friday. They were reportedly heading to Munnar from Kothamangalam by following Google Map. The 30-foot deep trench had at least 10-foot water and the men were not familiar with the ongoing work at this stretch. Two of the youths managed to get out of the car swam to safety. Gokul, who did know swimming, climbed on to the submerged car and stood there until help came. Caught inside the trench not knowing what had happened, the youths spent about 10 minutes inside. They were rescued by workers who were returning from the night shift from a rubber factory at Pothumpara. Though there was a diversion for small vehicles to pass, there was no signs warning motorists about the trench in the middle of the road. A plastic ribbon pulled across the road served as a warning. Local residents staged a protest alleging that it was the contractor's negligence that caused the accident. Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:28:47 GMT Murals adorn public walls ahead of Biennale Kochi: If wall paintings are the most effective way to announce the approach of the subcontinent’s biggest contemporary art festival, then the murals coming up in different parts of the city best exemplify the spirit of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Foundation, which is organising the popular event. Providing an unexpected visual treat, huge and colourful street murals are getting ready in the run-up to the fourth edition of the Biennale beginning on December 12. These works of art are part of an ongoing global graffiti project called Pepper House Residency, named after the eponymous heritage structure in Fort Kochi. The two-month endeavour gives street artists an opportunity to engage the public through their art, as well as bring often discarded spaces to notice. Eight young graffiti artists from across the world are researching and creating street art in public spaces all over the neighbourhoods of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. Massive wall paintings have been part of the Foundation’s efforts since the Biennale’s first edition in 2012, but this is the first time they have formally invited graffiti artists for the assignment. The project began on October 25 and will conclude on December 20, a week after the start of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018, curated by artist Anita Dube. While most of the art will be complete by the Biennale’s opening, early visitors might be able to see the talented artists in action. The paintings are in response to the artists’ experience of the surrounding areas, according to Foundation president Bose Krishnamachari, who co-curated the first Biennale. The graffiti artists-in-residence are Shanto Antony, Nikhil K C, Kiran Maharajan, Luanna Senna, Tito Senna, Parag Sonarghare and Do and Khatra (Siddharth & Nikunj). Shanto, who is Kerala-based, is painting on the western wall of Santa Cruz School, while Nikhil is working at the ESI Hospital Wall and M K Mattancherry Wall. Kiran, from Nepal, is painting ‘Hands’ on the walls of the Warehouse opposite to Mohammed Ali Warehouse in Mattancherry. Portuguese artists Luanna and Tito are working on colourful geometric patterns on the walls of the Mohammed Ali Warehouse. Parag Sonarghare, a Maharashtrian, is painting on the wall near Fadi Auditorium on Bazaar road and on the wall of T K Krishnan Nair Shop also on Bazaar road. His painting includes the picture of ‘Eyes’ that banks on realism. Do and Khatra, comprising Gujaratis Siddharth and Nikunj, are painting on the walls of Fort Kochi Police Quarters. The graffiti projects will enhance the city’s engagement with the fourth Biennale that features 94 artist-projects, said Nibedita Mishra, programmes coordinator of the Foundation. “These paintings on the walls of the Biennale city bring Kochi-ites closer to the world of art. They will not just be visually attractive, but thought-provoking as well,” she added. “Some of the works will fit well with the theme of the upcoming Biennale as well.” Sat, 08 Dec 2018 01:50:01 GMT