Pathanamthitta Read latest news updates from Pathanamthitta District Kerala in English. Watch Videos and Photos of Exclusive Breaking News. Onmanorama en Tue, 25 Jun 2019 05:56:29 GMT Leopard sighted on Sabarimala forest path Pathanamthitta: An NRI and his family members are yet to recover from the shock of a close encounter with a leopard during a drive along a forest road in this Kerala district. The leopard was reportedly seen near Chelikuzhy on the Sabarimala route. The family of Sony George from Mylapra had a close shave with the beast when they were returning from a relative’s house during a vacation trip in their native land after returning from Australia, where they are based. They had taken the road via Angamoozhy and Plappally to return to their home at Mylapra, also in the same district. They had the terrifying encounter between Llaha and Plappally along the Mannarakulanji– Pamba-Sabarimala route. The animal was likely lurking in the shrubs close to the crash barrier on the curb of the road. Seeing their car, the leopard raised its head. The terror-stricken driver immediately switched off the vehicle and stopped. The leopard soon returned into the forest after lingering for a while. Meanwhile, the fear of leopard has spread to Meenkuzhi area, near Chittar too as one was sighted earlier. A leopard had also caught a buffalo in the area.The buffalo was found dead when the house owner Salim and his wife returned from a relative’s wedding. Two months ago, a leopard had caught a calf from the workers quarters of the Llaha plantation of Harrison Malayalam Plantation. It is doubted that the same leopard was sighted by Sony and his family. With the Forest Department issuing an alert, the local people in Llaha and Plappally are anxious. It has issued a warning for the two-wheeler passengers, particularly, following the leopard sighting. It has also urged motorists not to stop vehicles along the forest path to enjoy the natural beauty. The road passes through thick forest area from Rajampara till Pamba, the gateway to Sabarimala. Wild elephants are usually sighted in this area. As the Sabarimala temple is now closed after the monthly pujas, no pilgrims' vehicles are plying on this stretch, though two-wheelers and driving school vehicles are found. Sat, 13 Jul 2019 17:07:17 GMT Snake boat with foldable stern set for launch Thiruvalla: With changing times boat building too has changed in Kerala which is famed for popular races on its lakes and other waterbodies. A unique snake boat (chundan vallam) that is being built by the people of Venpala-Kadalimangalam here in Pathanamthitta district will be able to pass effortlessly beneath all the 16 bridges along the waterway to the Parthasarathy Temple at Aranmula. The new boat will have a foldable stern to make its passage under the bridges smooth. The snake boat regularly participates in the traditional ‘vallasadya’ (feast on a boat) of the temple and the Uthruttathi boat race on Pamba river at Aranmula. The innovative stern is 18 feet high and it could be folded to a height of 8 feet. In other words, a 10-ft section would be turned over to the rear using a steel mechanism. This facility can be set in motion when the boat arrives near a low-lying bridge. After the boat passes the bridge, the stern can be raised to its normal height. The present snake boat of Venpala-Kadalimangalam used to negotiate bridges by removing the wooden stern, which was a laborious process. It was to avoid this trouble that the new arrangement spending Rs 2 lakh was planned. During its trip from Kadalimangalam, the bridges at Eramallikkara, Kuthiyathode, Vanavathukkara and Venpala were difficult to pass. “The new boat will have a smooth ride below the low bridges,” said convener of the boat building committee Suresh G Puthenpurakkal. The technical know-how to fold the stern was developed by the snake boat architect Ayiroor Satheesh Kumar. He is installing the contraption to the boat now. The entire stern including the flag and other decorations would collapse to the rear side under the new mechanism. The controls for making this happen is fixed close to the place where the first oarsman stands at the stern. The snake boat of the Chennithala village has another arrangement to reduce the height of the stern. In that boat, the stern is slid backwards and brought down. However, the mechanism to fold the stern to the rear is being introduced for the first time in the Venpala-Kadalimangalam boat, said the office-bearers of the boat building committee. It has been decided to launch the new snake boat on July 18. The work is in full swing and 14 craftsmen are busy under the leadership of Satheesh Kumar. The iron and steel works are carried out by a team led by Unnikrishnan Anjilikkad. They have set up a smithy at the spot for the purpose. To improve safety, a 4-inch-wide strip of iron is being fixed all along edges of the boat. In addition, special decorations are being done on the platform, the pointed end at the front and stern. Meanwhile, the old snake boat of Venpala-Kadalimangalam will be shifted to the water on July 11. It will accompany the new boat during the trip to Aranmula on August 5. There, the old boat will be handed over to Varayannoor 'kara’. The residents of Varayannoor had lost their snake boat during the floods last year and the ‘palliyodam’ (boat) used by Venpala-Kadalimangalam so far is meant as a replacement. Several concrete bridges had come up over the waterbodies in Kerala in the second half of the last century. Sat, 06 Jul 2019 00:39:41 GMT This civic body in Kerala grants nod for businesses in a jiffy! Pathanamthitta: The recent suicide of a builder following the denial of ownership certificate for his convention centre located at Bakkalam in Anthoor municipality of Kannur district had brought the spotlight on the rampant red tape in Left-ruled Kerala. However, there are indeed places like Pazhavangadi Panchayath in Pathanamthitta district that are business-friendly! Jayan Varghese, an NRI entrepreneur, would vouch for this as he could start the trial run of his oil-processing unit in a record time of two and a half months. Jayan was made to run from pillar to post for two and a half years when he tried to open his unit in Kozhencherry Panchayath in the same district. After the ordeal to get the project sanctioned in Kozhencherry, Jayan approached Pazhavangadi Panchayath, in the same district and could complete the trial run of the project without delay. The entrepreneur was given an enthusiastic welcome by the members and officials of Pazhavangadi Panchayath, which is ruled by LDF, with the Panchayath secretary R. Sreelekha herself giving all necessary information for initiating the procedures. All the details on how to prepare the applications and what types of permits are necessary were given by the Secretary herself. Jayan says that the officials at Pazhavangadi were focussing more on getting the industry started as soon as possible. No objections were raised, instead, advice on legal solutions to overcome possible hurdles were given. The Panchayath members Anu T. Samuel, Betsy K. Oommen and Elsy Mathew, constantly provided all sort of support. Jayakrishnan, the Panchayath official in charge of licenses, helped to speed up the procedures. C. Gopakumar, additional industry officer, District Industries Centre, gave him the exact guidelines wherever necessary. Jayan said that even in Kozhancherry panchayath, District Industries Centre had offered extensive support. All necessary documents including building utilisation certificate, Dangerous and Offensive Trade Certificate, a certificate from Pollution Control Board and Health Department could be obtained within days. Now, only the license from Legal Metrology and the certificate of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) remain to be obtained. Since the website of FSSAI was out of order, the fee could not yet be paid. Meanwhile, the trial run at the oil production unit could be completed successfully. Production could be started in full swing once the two remaining certificates are also obtained. The unit also has the facilities for milling grains and for roasting flour. The Panchayath showed no delay in issuing the utilisation certificate for changing the purpose of the building from residential to industrial. Panchayath members and engineer visited the site immediately on receiving the application. The officials also supported to remind the applicant about filing certain applications which he had left out. The Ranni North Section of Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) made the power connection available within 48 hours. Assistant Engineer Sheela Jacob followed up the procedures till completion. The Health Department officials of Makkappuzha also issued the certificates without any delay. The Panchayath officials were not aware of the new rules that the documents from District Medical Office was not mandatory for non-medical industrial units, but the District Industries Centre had informed the Panchayath of the amended rules which sped up the procedures. All non-medical units needed only the certificate from the local Health Office. Jayan Varghese narrates the success story of how the people’s representatives and officials in a local body extended total support for starting a new industrial unit. He still cannot believe the change that happened when shifting from one panchayath to another. Tue, 02 Jul 2019 01:02:58 GMT Another overworked cop does the vanishing act Enath: It seems more and more cops in Kerala are getting fed up of their work. A few days after a Circle Inspector based in Ernakulam went missing after a spat with his superior, another made a vanishing act from his quarters in Pathanamthitta district, but only to be located within hours in Kochi city. Anandahariprasad, a Civil Police Officer (CPO) on duty at the Enath police station had gone missing from the police quarters in Adoor on Saturday midnight. He had left his home after sending a message to the district police chief alleging that he is fed up of life due to work overload. He had told his family members that he was going for Sabarimala temple duty. Luckily, he was found safe in Kochi by his relatives. The SP, who saw the message on early Sunday morning, informed the Enath sub-inspector (SI) through the special branch DySP. The Adoor police started an enquiry and later filed a case after taking the statement of Anandahariprasad's wife. Meanwhile, relatives got information that Anandahariprasad was in Kochi. They traced him after a search and put him up in a relative's house in Maradu. Enath police have left for Maradu. Anandahariprasad was not under any kind of work pressure or overload, said Enath SI S Santhosh. A CI of the Kochi city police, who went missing following an argument with his superior officer, was last week traced to Madurai in Tamil Nadu. He was later brought back to Kochi. Mon, 17 Jun 2019 09:03:24 GMT Women social workers stranded in forest rescued Seethathodu: Six female social workers who went to meet school dropouts from the tribal community staying in the Kakki forest lost way in the wild briefly after the car they were travelling in, met with a mishap on Saturday night. The women got stuck in the dense forest for a couple of hours were finally brought to Angamoozhy in the vehicle of forest guards. Angamoozhy is a remote village in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district. The team was led by Shalini, the district programme coordinator of a group engaged in social work. The women entered the forest to trace three tribal students who were enrolled at the premetric hostel of Chittoor Government Higher Secondary School last year, but did not turn up for classes last week as the current academic year commenced. The absentee students hailing from the forest regions of Kakki and Aanathodu. The vehicle of the social workers met with a mishap around 4 pm when their car was giving way for a Kumily-Pathanamthitta bus. They lost their way as they started walking. The frightened group somehow managed to reach the Aanathodu police outpost for help. Soon, the officials stationed at the Pachakanam forest station and cops at the Kakki outpost reached Aanathodu and transported the women to Pachakanam forest station beside the Kakki dam. Muzhiyaar police officials accompanied the women after rescue as the area is witnessing heavy rain and thick mist. Moreover, the region is notorious for attacks by wild elephants. An ambulance of Seethathodu Fire and Rescue Service was also deployed. Hours of uncertainty ended as the officers at the police outpost passed on the information about the rescue on their wireless set. Mon, 17 Jun 2019 00:48:21 GMT Pathanamthitta only behind an Assam town for clean air Pathanamthitta: Pathanamthitta in Kerala has retained the status of the second least polluted town in India, while Tezpur of Assam has also retained its place as India’s least polluted, according to the data from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The air pollution index (API) is determined according to the presence of fine Particulate Matter (PM) contained in the air. PM 2.5 is the standard level and it refers to PM less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. It is expressed in micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3). While the maximum allowed PM value is 100 µg/m3, Pathanamthitta has only 35–40 µg/m3. However, in New Delhi, one of the most polluted Indian cities, this reaches 150 µg/m3 even on ordinary days, shooting up to 400 µg/m3 on winter days. (A micron is one-millionth of a meter.) The air quality is measured using an instrument called High Volume Sampler which functions 24 hours. The instrument was placed at the District Pollution Control Board’s office near the General Hospital, Pathanamthitta. Such small particulate matter is contained in the exhaust from the vehicles, moisture content and the smoke that is released while burning plastic or dry leaves. This particulate matter can directly enter the bloodstream from the air we breathe, causing a multitude of health conditions including heart diseases. It is this dangerous potential of the particulate matter that has caused the organisations like World Health Organisation (WHO) to zero in on air pollution as a major health hazard. A rise in air pollution can lead to diseases like asthma and heart ailments in children. Normal air usually contains 20.95 per cent Oxygen, 78.09 per cent Nitrogen and 0.03 per cent Carbon Dioxide. Mon, 10 Jun 2019 00:51:24 GMT Invasive African snails threaten Ranni village Ranni: The menace of Giant African Snails has made life difficult for people in Pulloopram ward of Angadi panchayat here in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district. Hundreds of snails hatched as soon as the first rains were witnessed. The large land snails are also seen in the nearby wards 9, 11 and 12. The farmers growing elephant yam, colocasia, tapioca and vegetables are now suffering extensive damage. The snails also feed on the posters on walls. They come out in search of food after dusk. It is believed that the snails reached Kerala from Africa through imported wood. They feed on tender leaves that sprout during rain. During summer the eggs of the snail remain under the leaves fallen on the ground. During rains the eggs hatch. Soon the snails proliferate and their number rises to thousands. The threat has been present in Angadi panchayat for years now. Efforts to eradicate it have failed. Two weeks ago, a meeting was convened by the panchayat to discuss measures to guard against monsoon diseases. During the meeting an Anganawadi teacher had raised the issue of the snails. However, the health department officials replied that the African snails are harmless and should not be considered as a threat. Local people have been demanding eradication of the snails for years. Even though the MLA and other people’s representatives had promised action, nothing has materialized. The panchayat had set apart Rs 1 lakh for the purpose in 2016-17. However, there was a dispute between panchayat and health departments delaying the project. Finally the fund lapsed. Last year the project got going but was abandoned following the floods. This year too, funds are available but the Lok Sabha elections followed by a byelection in Nellikamon ward has delayed the implementation. By the time the election code of conduct is withdrawn, the snails would have invaded the entire Pulloopram ward. Giant African Snail (Achatina fulica) is considered one of 100 most invasive species in the world. Sat, 08 Jun 2019 19:19:47 GMT Scarcity of forest produce: Tribal villages stare at poverty Seethathodu: The acute scarcities of forest produce in the forest areas are hitting hard the tribal villages that depend upon the collection of these produce as a means of livelihood. Faced with the shortage of forest produce and the resulting penury, the tribal people are requesting the Scheduled Tribes Development Department to start employment opportunities based at Gudrikkal Range Office that would ensure some kind of permanent source of income for them. Around 100 tribal families are residing in the forest areas including Lahai, Plappally, Nilakkal, Attathodu, Chalakkayam, Veluthodu, Moozhiyar, Kakki and Gavy falling under the Ranni Forest Division and Periyar Tiger Reserve. The only source of income for these families has been the collecting of cane from the forest. Even though the tribal people have the permission to collect forest produce, they cannot depend upon that as a source of income due to the increasing scarcity of the produce, the tribals point out. Most of the families have at least five members including children. The provisions distributed through the ration shops under the public distribution system often could not meet the needs of the families. They also complain that the Tribal Welfare Department hardly extends a supporting hand. Only after making complaints for a long time that the Department takes any action, complains the tribal people. The tribal people are given the permission to catch fish from the reservoirs of the Sabarigiri Hydro Electric Project, but the middle men turn out to be the actual beneficiaries of these permits. The middlemen are yet to pay thousands of rupees to the tribal people as payment for the catch of fish sold to them. They are not also able to sustain the catching of fish in the absence of proper guidelines. In case they could be given the training to make cane products, that could ensure a steady income. The project can be made successful as cane is available from the Gudrikkal Range. The tribal people are also showing a keen interest in learning the cane craft. Certain villages have a tradition of working with cane which they have been continuing for generations. At present, the cane taken from Ranni Forest Division are taken to Parakkott at Adoor, for making products. The difficulty in ensuring a fair price for the forest produce, which they collect battling many odds, is also affecting the tribal people. Though some societies have come forward to collect the forest produce, the tribal people face further exploitation as some of them ditch making a fair payment. They point out that the outside buyers are often ready to give a better price than that of the society. Giving contract works for the tribal people at the Forest Department could also provide a support to them. Sat, 08 Jun 2019 01:00:44 GMT Expatriate dies after brawl with neighbours Pazhakulam (Adoor): An expatriate died after suffering a head injury in a scuffle with neighbours. Pazhakulam Aifa Manzil Sharafudeen (45) died as he suffered a serious head injury due to blows received during the brawl. The police arrested Sajeev, a resident of Kizhakethil House at Thadathivilayil, Pazhakulam, and his brother Najeeb of Zamzam Villa in the same locality. The accused had reportedly surrendered before the police following the incident which happened at 11 pm on Saturday at the Pazhakulam town. According to the police, Najeeb's son had hit the deceased's sister's son with his bike last Friday. Najeeb and Sharafudeen had an altercation over this. Next day at 7:30 pm, Najeeb even thrashed Sharafudeen's nephew at a petrol pump near Pazhakulam. Sharafudeen then approached Najeeb to ask about it. A war of words ensued. Later that night, outside a bakery in Pazhakulam, Sharafudeen exchanged blows with Sajeev and Najeeb. The accused hit Sharafudeen on his head with the name board in front of the shop. An iron rod attached on the board pierced through Sharafudeen's head. Though he was rushed to a nearby private hospital Sharafudeen could not be saved. Sharafudeen had reached his hometown on leave last month. He had been working in Saudi Arabia. He is survived by his wife Shoufi and children Aifa and Aakhil. Wed, 29 May 2019 03:46:08 GMT Nilgiri Langurs on the rise in the lush forests of Goodrikal Seethathodu: Timely and strict intervention by the state forest department against poachers, has ensured that the Nilgiri langurs are showing a positive annual growth in their figures. The langurs have been classified as 'vulnerable' due to habitat destruction and poaching for fur and flesh to make aphrodisiacs and medicines. Locally known as 'karingurangu', now more of them are being spotted in Goodrikal forest range of the department’s Kollam circle. They are moving to new areas across the range. The Nilgiri langur belongs to the genus Semnopithecus, which includes Old World monkeys native to Indian subcontinent. The primates, easily distinguishable for their bodies covered in glossy black fur and golden soft hair, inhabit evergreen forests. They move about in groups having five to fifteen members feeding on fruits and leaves. With a lifespan of 22 years, the male and female Nilgiri langurs turn into adults in three and two years respectively. Shy of humans, this monkey species are largely seen on the Gavi-Moozhiyar route, Pathanamthitta. They are also be found at Moozhiyar crossing, Aranamudi, Pachakanam, and Nalaam mile check posts. They are also frequent vistors at the IC Tunnel and Gavi-Minar roads. Mon, 20 May 2019 11:34:24 GMT Forest patch in Ranni town faces erosion threat Ranni: Soil erosion is a major threat and it intensifies during floods. Flooding also denudes forest cover as trees growing on banks of rivers are uprooted. With each copious rainfall, an overflowing stream is gobbling up a patch of forest in the middle of Ranni town in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district which was the worst hit in last year's floods in the state. And as the land gives way, the teak trees on the 90-cent forest land, which comes under the Kerala Forest Department, is swept away by the surging waters. The small forest, locally known as ‘Kuttyvanam’, is under threat. It is situated between Mamuk Kavala and Valiyapalam. For many years this forest, along with the forest land in Pulimukku, doubled up as timber depots when timber and bamboo were brought through the Pampa River. Later, the forest land was used for various farming purposes and now, teak trees grow on the land. Teak trees are uprooted when the water level of the stream adjoining the forest increases and water erosion eats into the forest land. The stream has gobbled up 20 cents of forest and the remaining forest cover is depleting at a fast rate with each flood. The land cannot be protected without building embankments, which comes at a huge cost, along the stream. The District Development Committee has directed the Department of Water Resources to protect the banks. But unfortunately no steps have been taken on that front. It seems that the government has turned a blind eye to the destruction of the forest land, which is worth crores. Sat, 18 May 2019 00:49:58 GMT Elephant runs amok: Six vehicles damaged Konni: Six vehicles were damaged here in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district after an elephant ran amok on Thursday midnight. Tension prevailed in the area till dawn with local residents coming out of their houses. The animal was finally brought under control by its mahout Manu who was alerted by the police. The 40-year-old elephant Neelakandan created panic after freeing himself of his chains. It was restrained in an isolated piece of land near Kurishumoodu, Kalleli. The jumbo created a ruckus on Pulinjani Road near Akkarakalappadi. It smashed a car and bike here. It hit another car near Maroorpalam. The elephant then proceeded to Chainamukku and smashed a car and went on to destroy an autorickshaw and a bike at Madathilkavu before reaching near Puthiyakavu Temple at Airavan. Manu, after arriving, tamed Neelakandan and then moved it to a yard at Airavan. Locals were on high alert since no one could spot the elephant or predict its movements in the dark of the night. It is unclear how Neelakandan got loose. Major incidents were averted since there was no traffic on the roads. Adoor DYSP KA Thomas, SI S Ashad, C Binu, members of the fire force and forest department were present at the scene. Fri, 10 May 2019 09:38:38 GMT Yellow algae in Achankovil Lake kills fish, fights cancer Pathanamthitta: A study has confirmed that the yellow hue that has been spreading on the water surface in the Achankovil Lake is a micro aquatic algae which belong to the family of euglenophyta. Euglena sanguinea, Euglena arcoverde and Phacus curvicauda, are the only species hitherto discovered from the same family. These algae produce a toxin called euglenophysin capable of destroying the flora and fauna in the lake. When this alga spreads on the surface of the water, the oxygen supply to the water would be completely cut off in the process of eutrophication. This results in massive death of fish which rely on the dissolved oxygen in water. However, as this alga has the capability to prevent bacterial growth, it has the potential to fight cancer. The rising temperature and salt density in the lake has aided the proliferation of this alga. Euglenophyta has earlier been found in the rivers of Brazil and Poland. The algae was previously found in water bodies rich in harmful chemicals like cadmium, thallium, zinc and lead in it. This alga would easily grow in the water bodies which get contaminated with phenol, and other chemical fertilizers and insecticides. The presence of the euglenophyta proves that the water in the Achankovil Lake has been severely polluted. However, the study stressed that the alga was not responsible for the various skin diseases reported in people who bathe in these waters. The Department of Botany at the Pathanamthitta Catholicate College, conducted the study. The research team led by Dr. Binoy T Thomas had Dr. VP Thomas, MV Bhagya and T Sharanyamol as its members. Fri, 10 May 2019 07:35:27 GMT This priest reaps a bounty from backyard farm Thiruvalla: Churches often have vast property which could be put to use for farming or drawing solar power. The CSI Church at Thukalassery in Pathanamthitta district today has a vegetable farm that yields plentiful crop of long beans. The cultivation of lady’s finger, tomato, chilli and spinach are in the preliminary stages. It is the priest here who developed the backyard garden and tends to it. The morning routine of Rev. Dr Sabu K Cherian is clearly chalked out. First the vicar visits his vegetable garden and then the church. From 6 am to 9 am, Dr Sabu will be at the garden. He harvests the long beans, if they are ripe, and distribute them among the families of the diocese. On some days the long beans bounty could be 23 kg. Many parishioners are treading the path of Dr Sabu and have started a vegetable garden of their own. Dr Sabu, who took charge as the vicar of the church a year ago, started cultivating long beans after clearing the wild vegetation on the vacant land between the church and the parsonage in January. After 12 weeks, a mulching sheet was put up as a cover and pipes for irrigation were installed. This meant that the soil had a uniform temperature and watering should be done only for 10 minutes. Three grams of manure would be used for each plant, and 400 kg of long beans were harvested in four months’ time. Dr Sabu is able to harvest long beans daily because of the uniqueness of the farming techniques followed by him. If there is any problem with the plants, he will treat them in his own way. Even when Dr Sabu lost 50 kg of long beans to ear-head bugs (chazhi), he never used chemical fertilizers to eradicate them. Dr Sabu used the potent effect of weaver ants (neer) to counter the menace of aphis (munja) in long beans. The priest is now planning to grow bitter gourd as the long bean season is over. His parsonage got the CSI church’s green building award. The church’s compound is replete with coconut trees, plantain trees and tapioca plants, and there are plans to cultivate turmeric on a small patch of vacant land. The Christian Agency for Rural Development, Thelliyoor, and the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra are providing the requisite knowhow for the cultivation of vegetables. The vegetable saplings are also sold at Rs 5 each. Mon, 06 May 2019 01:35:51 GMT Man and daughter killed as bus rams scooter near Konni Konni: A 52-year-old man and his teenage daughter were killed after a bus rammed their scooter at Eliyarackal junction near Konni in Pathanamthitta district on Friday. Prasad of Aruvappulam and his 18-year-old daughter Anu Prasad (Ammu) were the victims. Anu was a final year BSc student at St Thomas College, Kozhencherry. Prasad had just returned from South Africa a day before. The private bus, Venad, conducting services along the Punalur-Pathanamthitta route rammed their scooter at Eliyarackal. They were on their way back home after visiting Konni. The bus dragged the bodies for around 10 metres before coming to a halt. Anu died on the spot. Though Prasad was rushed to a hospital in Pathanamthitta, his life could not be saved. Fri, 03 May 2019 06:44:47 GMT Tribal children in Sabarimala forests go hungry Seethathodu: The forests adjoining the famed Sabarimala temple have been the abode of tribal communities for centuries. Like tribals elsewhere in the country, the lot of these communities here in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district too is miserable. There is nothing to cheer for tribal children residing in the Sabarimala forests this summer vacation as a a popular food-aid scheme of the government is in limbo. As a result, close to 75 children of Laha, Plappally, Attathodu, Nilackal and Chalakayam, who had ample food during summer vacations in the past few years, are left with no food this time around. The children are starving due to the inefficiency of the Pathanamthitta district child welfare department, say the tribals. Most days, the children are going hungry as the ‘Sundarabhalyam Subhakshithabhalyam’ scheme, through which food was provided to them, is not implemented effectively. The scheme had been implemented in April and May for the past two years under the aegis of the Social Justice Department in association with the district child welfare unit, the Scheduled Tribes (ST) Development Department and the Kudumbashree district mission. The funds for the scheme were earmarked by the ST Development Department after receiving requisite application from the district child welfare unit. The child welfare unit also collated information regarding the needy children in the area, and the food was prepared by the Kudumbashree units. There is uncertainty over the implementation of the scheme after the child welfare unit’s former district officer A O Abeen was transferred. There are allegations that the child welfare unit has done nothing to implement the scheme this year. The children used to get food from school when the classes were on, and their only hope to get a square meal during the summer vacation is the ‘Sundarabhalyam Subhakshithabhalyam’ scheme. But in the neighbouring Moozhiyar region, the scheme is being implemented without any hiccups with funds from Seethathodu panchayat. Sun, 28 Apr 2019 05:15:59 GMT Pampa running dry despite summer rains Ranni: Raising ecological concerns, the water inflow to the Pampa River has not increased despite copious summer showers here in the Pathanamthitta district. The flow of water near to the Puvathumudu Kadavu, the confluence of Pampa River and Kakkattaru, has dipped considerably. The water discharged from the power plants in the eastern region reaches the confluence, and this water is mainly instrumental in increasing the downstream flow from Puvathumudu Kadavu. The water flow from Pampa Triveni to Puvathumudu is negligible, and the minuscule flow, that too only in the morning, is maintained by the pools of water, which are used by local residents to bathe and wash clothes, found between the rocks. The flow will turn into a trickle as the temperature soars during daytime. A check dam had been built across the Idathikavu Naaveena stream as part of the Perunthenaruvi hydroelectric power project, and the water flow from the check dam to the pump house of the power project, a distance of 600m, has also drastically dropped. This has adversely affected the Vechuchira and Kudamurutty water projects. The water for the Vechuchira project is sourced from water in the rock crannies, and transferred to the project’s well through pipes. The pools of water between the rocks help in sustaining the water projects, and pumping would be stopped if the water level decreases. Sand dunes have formed and thick grass vegetation could be found in these dunes. Pockets of sludge have turned into banks and there are also instances of patches of land emerging in the middle of the river, posing danger to the river’s ecosystem. Sun, 28 Apr 2019 01:01:06 GMT Flood-hit Upper Kuttanad now in the grip of acute water shortage Thiruvalla: Keralites seem to be paying a heavy price for neglecting water bodies and not storing for a rainless season. Eight months ago, the residents of Upper Kuttanad had fled from the area after the worst floods in a century ravaged Kerala. Now, ironically, they may be forced to leave the place again over a totally contrasting situation – drought. The vast Upper Kuttanad area comprises parts of Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts. Worst-hit areas Already, all the streams and wells in Upper Kuttanad have dried up and the people here are entirely dependent on the water supplied by the Kerala Water Authority through its pipelines once a week. The areas where the most acute water shortage is felt are Peringara, Niranam, Nedumbram and Kadapra panchayats in Pathanamthitta district. Even perennial streams in the area and their springs have dried up. As a result, there is no water in the wells. There are, around 50 small streams, including Kolarayar and Areethodu, in Niranam,which is also in Pathanamthitta District; over 100 rivelets, including Vengalthodu and Edinjilamthodu, in Peringara while Kadapra is surrounded by the Manimala and Pamba rivers. All these streams have dried up and water shortage haunts residents. Incidentally, water level in all these streams had risen by 10-15 feet during the floods eight months ago. Locals say lack of measures to protect the streams was the main cause of the drought. The streams have been reduced to drains, carrying away rainwater during the monsoon and a fertile ground for weeds to grow in summer. Moreover, most streams and rivulets have been encroached upon, they pointed out. Situation may worsen Studies have shown that the water table in Upper Kuttanad has fallen by up to six metres. If it goes down any further, a tragedy awaits the residents of the area. Authorities fear that the situation would aggravate after the Thaneermukkom bund is opened on April 20. The water level in the Manimala river is at present below sea level. This has been the situation downstream of Edasserykayam in Kaviyoor since two months ago, when the level measured. When the bund is opened, the sea water would naturally flow into these areas, it is felt. However, the water level at Keecherikadavu, where the Manimala and the Pamba rivers merge, is about one feet above sea level. This is owing to the water released to the Pamba river from the Kakki reservoir. Tue, 09 Apr 2019 15:36:44 GMT Elephant herd stands guard for newborn calf Seethathodu: A rare sight from the wild was witnessed off the Angamoozhy-Gavi road here in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district. After an elephant gave birth off the Angamoozhy-Gavi road the other day, a whole herd stood guard for the calf. The mother elephant was also seen helping the newborn get up even as it fell frequently. Meanwhile, three jumbos stood on the 6-foot high mud wall on the roadside; four others and a calf was seen further off the street; and two others were spotted on the banks of Kakkat River. It is said elephants stand guard like this to protect the calf from tigers. Forest guards were meanwhile patrolling the area. The area falls under the Kochukoyikkal Forest Station under Goodrikkal Range in Ranni Division. Car attacked Motorists had spotted these elephants among the bamboos near the road. A family had to reverse their car for a long distance to escape an advancing elephant on guard. KSEB lineman Jamini and family had to face the wrath of one of the elephants on guard while returning from Moozhiyar. They had reached Chelikkuzhy from Moozhiyar quarters when the elephant charged at their vehicle. They reversed the car for over 200 metres and waited half an hour before proceeding. The driver of another car behind theirs showed the presence of mind to reverse too, helping Jamini’s family get out of the jumbo's way. Mon, 08 Apr 2019 01:55:01 GMT Youth held for opening Perumthenaruvi dam shutter; a habitual offender Ranni: He fits the stereotype of a drug addict and is revengeful to the core. If he has been wronged by someone, he would take revenge on that person by setting his/her properties ablaze. Ajeesh Jose alias Sunu, 24, who was arrested on charges of trespassing and damaging one of the shutters of the Perumthenaruvi hydroelectric dam, has several cases of vandalism pending against him. The accused, who let the water out by raising the shutter using the remote switch inside the centre, had also torched the boat owned by Roy of Pathakkal House, who lives in the vicinity of the reservoir. The incident took place around 10 pm on March 12. A case was registered against him for trespassing and damaging public property by the Perinad police. He was also booked by the Vechoochira police for allegedly setting the boat on fire. Ajeesh, a resident of Idathikkavu near Vechoochira, was arrested following an investigation carried out by the shadow police team under the Pathanamthitta district police chief. During interrogation, he confessed to have committed the crime, said district superintendent of police G Jaidev. The acts of vengeance by Ajeesh were under the influence of narcotics. A few years ago, he had been arrested for setting fire to his neighbour's house, the official said. Sat, 23 Mar 2019 06:40:03 GMT Kerala man dies in Saudi, family receives body of Sri Lankan woman Konni: The family of an expatriate who died in Saudi Arabia was shocked to see that the body flown back to them was that of a woman. The mix-up was realised only minutes before the burial. Rafeek, 29, from Kummannur near Konni died of a heart attack in Saudi Arabia on February 27. The family and friends of the deceased had been trying hard to fly the body back home for burial. The embalmed body was received at the Kummannur masjid on Wednesday evening for prayers. Razak, the father of the deceased, said when they opened the coffin just before the burial on Thursday morning, they found that it was of a woman and immediately informed police. Konni Circle Inspector told PTI the mix-up could have occurred at the cargo section of an airport in Saudi Arabia. "Rafeeq's body has reached Sri Lanka. We got a call from there and the caller said the body at Konni is that of Bendara Maneki, a Lankan woman," he said. The woman's body was brought to the Kochi airport on March 20 and taken to the couple's residence here. "We have requested the RDO to send the woman's body to her country and bring Rafeeq's remains to Kerala," the official said. The woman's body has been shifted to Kottayam Medical College Hospital. The mourning family has asked for immediate action to get the body back. Rafeek has been working in Saudi Arabia for several years. He has a wife and a child. His wife is expecting a second child, his mother said. The body of the Sri Lankan woman was shifted to the Kottayam Medical College mortuary. Thu, 21 Mar 2019 11:47:18 GMT Relief for sick woman as village builds approach road Karakkal: A 28-year-old sick and disabled woman here in Pathanamthitta district stands to benefit from a path being built to her house as part of the National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (NREGS). A 75-meter-long mud path is being built to her house situated in a low-lying area in the midst of paddy fields. The beneficiary of the scheme is Soumya Sadanandan of Thundiyil House at Idikkathara. For the past 26 years, Soumya’s parents had to carry her all the way from their home till the nearest motorable road, which reaches till Thamarachal Colony in Peringara Panchayath, whenever she was taken to hospital. Once the road is ready, an autorickshaw can easily reach until her plot. Soumya’s health was affected from the age of two years, when she suddenly developed severe headache. Soon, her head developed abnormally and lost sight. She cannot walk and faints frequently. A team of 53 labourers in three groups is now engaged in building a mud road by filling up the low-lying land. They are bringing loads of earth for filling up the low-lying path. Its borders are being strengthened by raising bamboo poles. According to Block Panchayath president Satheesh Chathankari and secretary Eappen Kurien, the panchayath is expecting to create 220 days of employment through this work at an estimated cost of Rs. 3.37 lakh. Soumya’s home was flooded during last year's floods, with water rising up to 5 feet within their home. The family kept Soumya dry by placing her cot on top of the table. The family lives in an old house built on 10 cents of land. NREGS is popularly known as 'thozhilurappu padhathi' in Malayalam. Mon, 18 Mar 2019 01:44:11 GMT Narrow escape for youth as elephant runs amok Pandalam: A young man here narrowly escaped from a tusker that went on a rampage on his plot and adjacent road at Nariyapuram here in Pathanamthitta district on Sunday. The elephant ran amok when it was being brought back from Kunnamkulam in northern Thrissur district after it was paraded at a temple for the Sivarathri festival. It was finally tamed by its former mahout who had reached Muttom, near Thumpamon, on hearing the news. It was sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Akhil belonging to Vadakkethil house, in Perumbral of Nariyapuram in Pathanamthitta district, was suddenly woken up by the strange barking of his dog. On opening the front door of the house, he was welcomed by the massive tuskers of an elephant which looked certainly hostile. It took him a couple of seconds to make sure he was not dreaming. Banging the front door shut, Akhil ran towards the back of the house as the elephant lunged towards him. Luckily, the tusks hit the metal sheets stacked up against the front wall. Hearing the noise of the sheets falling down, the elephant got scared and turned back. On the way back, it tore into the car which was in the front yard. The top of the car got mangled and the elephant dragged the car with its tusks to the other side of the road. The elephant, named Neelakantan, belonging to Koyippurath Gopalakrishnan Nair of Venmani, had also brought down the compound wall of Jyothi Bhavan, the house of one Yashodharan at Thattayil. Almost 15 meters of the wall got razed to the ground. Shocker at dawn It was around 4 in the morning when the lorry carrying the elephant reached Nariyapuram. The mahout, also named Akhil, and his assistant were trying to get the elephant down from the lorry when a street dog ran across, scaring the elephant so much so that it ran amok along the Panthalam– Pathanamthitta road. It then ran towards Muttom via Thumpamon. On the way the elephant tried to attack a KSRTC bus and upturn the electric posts and later trampled the compound wall of Yashodharan's plot. Reaching Muttam, the elephant took position right in the middle of the road, blocking the traffic. By that time, Manu, the former mahout, had reached the spot, hearing the news. He managed to control the elephant and got it tied down in the nearby rubber plantation. He also gave the elephant water, bananas and coconut leaves. Bringing water from the nearby wells, the ex-mahout cooled down the elephant, bringing relief to the local people who were kept on tenterhooks till then. Later the local police and Forest officer C S Prakash arrived on the spot. The Forest officer said that the elephant would be allowed to be untethered from the spot only after an examination by a veterinary doctor, even though there were no signs of musth, a phase in male elephants when it turns highly aggressive. Mahout Akhil said that the elephant was under musth from August 5 till the middle of October. It was taken to Kunnamkulam on March 4 for Sivarathri festival. Akhil, whose car was damaged by the elephant, had followed the tusker with his friends till Muttom, waiting there till it was controlled. Mon, 11 Mar 2019 01:48:34 GMT Hi-Tech classroom project at Pathanamthitta getting completed Thiruvalla: A total number of 1662 class rooms of 268 schools in Pathanamthitta district including 95 Government schools and 73 Government-Aided schools have now entered the Hi-Tech category under the Hi-Tech School Project which forms part of the General Education Protection Mission initiated by the State Government. The Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) has spent a total amount of Rs. 13.92 crores with the assistance of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). The Hi-Tech School Project of the State Government targets creating 45,000 Hi-Tech classrooms for classes from 8 to 10 in the Government and Aided schools in the State. The Hi-Tech classrooms in the district are provided with 2,192 laptops, 1,458 projectors, 1,467 speakers and 1,393 mounting kits. Apart from this, a total of equipments including 245 television sets, 257 DSLR cameras, 259 Full HD Web Camera are supplied to the Hi-Tech classrooms in the district. The majority of teachers have been provided with training in helping the students access the Samagra e-Resource Portal, the complete online learning management system that can be beneficial not only to students but to teachers, public and academicians. The KITES Open Online Course (KOOL) has also been initiated. A total number of 784 schools now have high speed Internet connectivity. The Little KITES IT Clubs, formed in 104 schools in Pathanamthitta district, have a total membership of 2,979 children. The AGM HSS, Thiruvalla, (16 Hi-Tech classrooms), MS HSS, Ranni, (16 Hi-Tech Classrooms) and SVGV HSS, Kidangoor (15 classrooms) are the Aided schools in the district with the highest number of Hi-Tech classrooms. Among the Government schools, Govt. HSS, Adoor (14 hi-tech classrooms) and Govt HSS and Chittan (10 hi-tech classrooms) top the list. All IT equipments supplied to the schools have an assured five-year warranty. The web portal and call centre for resolving hardware related complaints have already launched. The equipments will also be given insurance coverage. The project for setting up Hi-Tech Laboratories 662 schools in Pathanamthitta district which have classes from Its Standard to Viet Standard has already begun, according to K Invar Sadat, Chairman and Executive Director, KITE. With this, Kerala will become the first Digital State in the Educational sector, according to the Minister C Raveendranath. Fri, 08 Mar 2019 02:16:45 GMT Woman from Tiruvalla dies in Dubai road accident Dubai/Tiruvalla: A Keralite woman died when her husband lost control of his vehicle and rammed a truck while going to a church here, according to a media report on Sunday. Her husband, who was critically injured in the accident, was admitted to Dubai's Rashid Hospital. The couple, Reeja Varghese and her husband Varghese Koshy, hailing from Tiruvalla town in Kerala, was going to attend service at St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church's Dubai cathedral when the accident happened on Friday, the media report said. According to police, Varghese lost control of his vehicle and rammed a truck. Reeja, who died on the spot, and Varghese were extricated from the mangled remains of the vehicle after cutting it with the help of hydraulic cutters, they said. The body will be handed over to family after completion of legal and administrative procedures, the police said. Read more: Latest Pathanamthitta news Mon, 25 Feb 2019 05:33:03 GMT Ancient house gutted completely In a shocking incident, Varikkolil Tharavad, an antique house belonging to the Varikkolil family in Perumbulikkal near Pandalam got completely gutted in a fire that blazed up on Saturday night. The house was believed to be around 1200 years old. No one was living at the house when the incident happened. Located beneath the Pavvathu Hills in Perumbulikkal, the ancient house had a top to bottom wooden structure, completely made with teak and jackfruit. The house had all the components of Kerala's ancient ancestral homes like the ‘Ara,’ the ‘Nilavara,’ (the underground chamber), ‘Poomukham,’ (the patio), the Verandah, the ‘thirichu kettu,’ ‘chavadi’ (outhouse) and ‘thozhuthu’ (the cattle shed). The Nilavara or the underground chamber was made from polished laterite. Varikkolil Janaki Amma, a senior member of the family said that this was the first house to be built in that locality. The Varikkolil family has administrative powers over the Perumbulikkal Devi Temple, Thazhathundil Devi Temple and Poovathu Malanada Temple, which is believed to have been consecrated by Duryodhana. According to some local legends, the hill got its name from the belief that Duryodhana had divided gold to others on top of this hill. Thus, ‘Ponnu Pakutha Mala,’ later became Pavvathumalai. According to old timers, the Duryodhana Vadham Kathakali, in which Duryodhana was killed, is not performed here. The golden ornaments of the deities in theses temples were kept at the Varikkolil house till recently. Because of the presence of the divine ornaments, the ceremonial lamp was lit here every day. However, the ornaments were shifted out of the house considering security aspects. The Varikkolil family boasts of around 10,000 members spread over nine branches living both inside and outside Kerala. As the deities’ ornaments were kept at the ancient house, usually the family elders used to stay at the ‘Chavadi.’ However, after their life time was over, the responsibilities of lighting the lamp and taking care of the ancient house was vested with a caretaker, in return for which he was allowed to cultivate vegetables in the land belonging to the Tharavad, according to K.P. Jayaprakash and K.Gopakumaran Nair, office bearers of the family Trust. It was the members of that family who were responsible for lighting g the traditional lamp every day. The lamp was lit at the Poomukham even on the day when the house got gutted, according to Mahesh, a family member. The house was located at the foot of the 100 acre Pavvathumala, owned by the family. The family trust also owns more than 200 acres of paddy fields and other landed property. The trust has decided to rebuild the burnt down structure. A police enquiry was initiated led by the Sub Inspector of Police, Pandalam, following the complaint made by the Trust office bearers that the circumstances of the incident were suspicious. Assistance was also sought from the Dog Squad, which arrived on the site. Read more Pathanamthitta News Wed, 06 Feb 2019 01:45:00 GMT Two farmers who fell ill after spraying pesticide die in Thiruvalla Thiruvalla: Two farmers who complained of discomfort after spraying pesticide at a paddy field in Peringa, Upper Kuttanad, have died. The deceased were identified as Sanalkumar, 42, from Kazhuppil Colony and Mathai Isho, 68. Sanalkumar sprayed pesticides paddy fields at Vengal, Irukara, along with four others using motor pumps on Wednesday. Mathai Isho was merely watching them work. All of them were severely fatigued by evening and admitted to Changanassery Taluk Hospital. Four of them were discharged after first aid. Sanalkumar and Mathai Isho died Saturday morning. Postmortem were held at Kottayam Medical College. The farmers were using different kinds of pesticides. A high concentration of pesticide could have led to the deaths, said the police. The pesticides, applied in more than twice the prescribed dose on Wednesday, were not approved for use by the agriculture department. Sanalkumar is survived by wife Lavanya and children Sethu and Devika. He will be cremated at 10am at Thiruvalla SC crematorium. Mathai Isho is survived by wife Achamma, children Shaison, Vinci, Shaiji and son-in-law Biju. His funeral will be held at Bethany St George Orthodox Church in Vengal at 2pm. Read more: Latest Pathanamthitta news Sun, 20 Jan 2019 05:57:13 GMT Sabarimala pilgrim trampled to death while saving niece from wild tusker Sabarimala: The 35-year-old pilgrim from Tamil Nadu, who was trampled to death by a wild elephant on the traditional forest path leading to Sabarimala on Tuesday night, met with the tragic end while attempting to save his niece. The deceased, identified as Paramasivam, a native of Palapatti East Street in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district, was on his way to the holy shrine carrying the child on his shoulders when the gruesome incident occurred. The child, Divya, had a narrow escape as Paramasivam, before being attacked by the animal, threw her away to safety. The incident took place on the trekking route near Mukkuzhi between Kariyilamthodu and Karimala around 11pm. Pilgrims, who take part in the ceremonial 'Petta thullal', normally opt for this forest path to reach the Sannidhanam. The duo was part of a 40-member pilgrim group from Salem. Thirteen of them were resting at a makeshift shop during the arduous trek when the wild tusker charged at them. The pilgrims ran helter-skelter on sighting the animal. While the others in the group turned back and rushed in the opposite direction, Paramasivam, carrying the child, haplessly ran forward in an attempt to escape the rampaging jumbo. That proved fatal as the elephant chased and attacked him, killing him on the spot. His 10-year-old son Gokul was also part of the group. Upon hearing the tusker’s aggressive roars and the pilgrims’ cries for help, people running makeshift shops along the path rushed to the spot, and found the girl crying next to the body of her dead uncle. Immediately after being alerted to the incident, a team of forest and police officers, reached the spot with fire torches. With the help of Ayyappa Seva Sangham workers and other pilgrims, Paramasivam’s body was first carried to Mukkuzhi before being shifted the Mundakkayam Government Hospital where he was declared brought dead. Of late, sighting of wild elephants has been fairly common on the traditional trekking route. Following the tragic incident, the remaining members of the group abandoned the trek and went back. In the presence of forest officials, they received the body from the hospital and took it to Salem in an ambulance on Wednesday. Restrictions imposed In the wake of the incident, strict restrictions have been imposed on pilgrim movements after 5pm along the traditional trekking route via Karimala. Devotees will not be allowed to trek the forest path after 5 pm from Erumely and after 10pm from Moozhikkal, officials said. Pilgrims who head to Pamba from Erumely through the Karimala route are required to reach the base camp before 5pm. After 5, they would be advised to stay at camp centres set up at Azhutha, Mukkuzhi and Kariyilamthodu. Those coming via Uppupara will be stopped at Pullumedu after 1pm, added the officials. Read more: Latest Pathanamthitta news Thu, 10 Jan 2019 08:25:32 GMT Tamil pilgrim dies in elephant attack on Sabarimala path Sabarimala: A Sabarimala pilgrim from Salem has died in an attack by a wild elephant on the forest path to the Lord Ayyappa shrine. Paramasivam, 35, died after the elephant charged at a batch of pilgrims who were resting at a spot between Kariyilamthodu and Karimala. He was trekking along with a Tamil group on the forest path which thousands of people take during the Makaravillakku season. Paramasivam is the son of Gnanasekharan of East Street, Shooramangalam Main Road, Pallipatti, Salem. The pilgrims were relaxing at an EDC shop when the elephant was sighted. As they ran to a safer place, the elephant attacked. Forest guards and Ayyappa Seva Sangham volunteers carried an injured Paramasivam to Mukkuzhi. He was taken to the government hospital at Mundakkayam, but was dead on arrival there. The pilgrim's relatives will arrive at Mundakkayam. Wild elephants are entering the forest path almost every day ever since the pilgrimage started, but this is the first death from their attack since the pilgrimage season started. Wed, 09 Jan 2019 07:04:34 GMT Rocks turn canvas for talented forest officer Seethathode: A beat forest officer at Rajampara forest office is busy creating artwork on the rocks. His plan is to clear the vegetation and moss covering the rocks and paint pictures of wild animals. R Vipin, the artist-cum-forest guard, is a winner of the chief minister’s award. Painting has been Vipin’s hobby since childhood. Many of Vipin’s colleagues feel that his tiger painting is true to life. With his first painting earning appreciation, Vipin is planning to create more works of art on rocks around his office. He has already cleaned all the rocks nearby and applied primer. A resident of Kallara in Kollam, he had joined the police before shifting to the Forest Department. He was posted at Rajampara one-and-a-half years ago. During the Makaravilakku, the ornaments to be adorned on the Ayyappa idol at Sabarimala temple are kept for a day at a rest house attached to the forest station which is on the way to the shrine. When he started painting here, Vipin’s plan was to complete the task before the ornaments reached his office. Meanwhile, he spruced up the officials’ quarters and outpost with army colours. The other buildings also will get the same colours. The Rajampara station is under the Ranni range of Ranni Forest Division. Deputy range officer K Ratheesh and other senior officers are encouraging the artist in his unique endeavour. Vipin engages in the creative pursuit after duty hours. Wed, 02 Jan 2019 01:41:22 GMT Rare serpent figurines found at excavation site in Aranmula Kozhenchery: The excavation being conducted at Aranmula has led to the discovery of several rare items, including serpent figurines. The Archaeological Department is carrying out the work at the site where several artefacts where found after the devastating floods early this year. Its researchers are engaged in learning about the past by digging a plot at Koyiprath adjacent to the Anjilimoodu ghats of the river in Pathanamthitta district. Over the last one week, several sculptures were found when excavations were carried out up to a depth of one metre at the site. In addition, several figurines were seen arranged neatly underground at another spot near the Pamba river. Exploration will start in the area soon. Some of the sculptures found from the site resemble a figure with its tongue extended to touch the nose. Scientists engaged in the task said that such snake figurines had never been excavated from Kerala before. Such figurines were also not seen installed at the shrines where snake worship is practised in the state, said K Krishnaraj, who is heading the exploration team, and K R Sona, superintending archaeologist. The age of the items can be determined only after elaborate scientific tests, they added. Read more Pathanamthitta News Thu, 27 Dec 2018 01:42:21 GMT Aravanathoni, a slice of Sabarimala's rich heritage, lies abandoned now Sabarimala: The 'Aravanthoni', which was once used to cool the 'aravana prasadam' of Lord Ayyappa, lies in an abandoned state in front of the Annadhana Mandapam. Before the Aravana plant was built, it was in this boat-shaped structure that the Aravana was cooled. The plant now has steaming and cooling facility. In the olden days, the Aravanathoni played a crucial part in the making of the Aravana. Firewood was used as fuel to prepare the Aravana. It was a tedious process. When the Aravana was ready, it was poured in to the Aravanathoni, a boat-shaped structure made of 'kambaka' wood. The Aravana was then gently stirred till it attained room temperature. Then plastic containers were dipped in the boat manually for supplying Aravana to devotees. During all stages of the preparation, human effort was involved. But when the rush of pilgrims grew exponentially, the mechanized Aravana plant was set up. Modern facilities made things easier. Aravanathoni soon fell into disuse. Aravana is now mechanically filled in paper tins. Aravanathoni was dumped in a corner of the Aravana plant for many years. Later, to save space at the plant, the boat was shifted to the Annadana Mandapam where it lies now. Sadly, the Travancore Devaswam Board authorities are yet to realize the heritage value of the historic Aravanathoni. Read more District News Fri, 21 Dec 2018 01:52:59 GMT Bengali worker dies as porch collapses during renovation Pandalam: A casual labourer died and two others were injured when a part of house that was under renovation collapsed. The deceased has been identified as Samad (35), while the injured are Phool Babu (21) and Rajesh (25). All, including the deceased, are Bengal natives.. The incident took place at about 2.20 pm on Monday as the porch collapsed during the renovation of a house belonging to one Dr T C Cherian. The work, which was undertaken by a construction company based in Haryana, had commenced a week ago with 11 workers. Apart from the Bengal natives, there were workers from Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. Two workers who came under the debris were rescued by local residents, fire force personnel who came from Adoor and Pandalam police. But Samad, who was caught under a slab, could not be rescued. His body was extricated by the fire personnel using a JCB that had to be brought to the spot to lift the slab. The police said that arrangements will be made to take Samad's body to his hometown after a post-mortem is conducted. Tue, 18 Dec 2018 13:42:08 GMT Kerala nurse's husband, infant found dead in Jeddah Adoor/Jeddah: The husband of a Malayali nurse and their seven-month-old baby were found dead in mysterious circumstances in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Friday. The deceased have been identified as Srijith (30), son of Sasi of Sarovarathil House at Pazhamkulam, Alummood, and his child. Srijith was found hanging and the child was found lying dead, according to information received by relatives in Kerala. The incident took place at Sulaymaniyah in Jeddah on Friday afternoon. According to reports, Srijith banged the child on to the wall following a family dispute. Though wife Anisha took the child to the hospital, the child could not be saved. Anisha fell unconscious when she knew about the kid's death and is under treatment in hospital. Those who reached the flat after this spotted Srijith hanging. Anisha, a native of Nooranad in Alappuzha, is a nurse at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. Sreejith came to Saudi Arabia three months ago on a visit visa. Since their tiff had worsened, Anisha was planning to take emergency leave and fly back to Kerala on Sunday. Efforts are on to bring the bodies to Kerala. Mon, 17 Dec 2018 12:13:56 GMT Kidney donor in dire straits as husband, employer abandon her Adoor: A woman who donated one of her kidneys as a humanitarian gesture is in dire straits. Sindhu is now without a job or a house to live in, and has no money to take care of her health and three children. On top of all, the Mitrapuram native's husband deserted her and she lost her job. Sindhu made the organ donation on February 7, 2017, when she was working at an insurance firm in Kochi. She saved the life of her friend, one Sabah of Udumbanchola. But Sindhu soon lost her job, her only source of income. Three months after Sindhu donated her kidney, her husband left her. The Snehadeepam fraternity is the only source of solace for Sindhu, her three children and her ailing mother. Yet she is not able to pay the fee for her son, who is in the Plus Two. Her three-year-old daughter has an eye problem which remains unattended. Compounding the problem, she has to vacate her rented house next month. An account has been opened to help Sindhu and her family at the SBI branch in Pandalam in Pathnamthitta district. (Account number: 67279103807. IFS code: SBIN0070079. Phone: 8943753822.) Mon, 17 Dec 2018 07:03:51 GMT Tamil pilgrim overlooks crippling injury to make it to Sabarimala Pathanamthitta: Overwhelming devotion to Lord Ayyappa helped Chennaiyyan withstand the excruciating pain on his right leg, bones of which were crushed in an accident, as he travelled to Sabarimala to worship his favourite deity. He travelled with his plastered leg from Krishnagiri near Salem in Tamil Nadu to Sabarimala, with 110 other pilgrims to worship at Ayyappa's shrine. The pilgrim's eyes gleamed with joy on sighting the Ayyappa deity again. “I'm happy,” said Chennaiyan as he reclined to a chair near the temple complex. “I was worried I wouldn't be able to see the Swami this year. It's over. Now I need to relax. I'm getting back home though others in the group are hanging on for 10 days.” Chennaiyan, 39, is a textile dealer in Krishnagiri. He was observing the vow to visit Sabarimala when a vehicle rammed his two-wheeler last week. His right ankle was virtually pulverised. Doctors advised six weeks rest with a plastered leg. However, Chennaiyan wasn't willing to cancel his 10th consecutive pilgrimage to Sabarimala. The pilgrim had trekked to Sabarimala during all his past nine visits, but this time he needed support. Two friends lent him their shoulders to climb the pathinettam padi (18 holy steps) to the Lord's shrine at the end of the trip that lasted one-and-a half days. The police let him move ahead without waiting in the queue as he approached the sanctum sanctorum. Sat, 15 Dec 2018 09:20:19 GMT Ranni woman chases down chain-snatcher on scooter before daybreak Ranni: A woman here helped the cops to catch a thief who had intruded into her house and stole her 4.5 sovereign gold chain in the wee hours of Thursday. The housewife managed to bring the 35-year-old thief down from his scooter after she closed in on him 4 km away after a chase on her own vehicle. Though he managed to flee again after a fight, he was later picked up by the police on being alerted by locals who spotted him soon. The intrepid chase happened after Shoji had woke up around 3 am Thursday, and saw a man standing outside her window. She realised that the man, who had bent the bars of the window, had already snatched her chain. The thief, identified as Balesh, soon fled on his scooter at high speed. Shoji chased him on her own scooter, and spotted him at Madaman. He fell off the scooter as she kicked him, but picked up a duel with her. Shoji got a bit uneasy as her churidar was torn in the fight, and Balesh used the chance to take his scooter and flee. Shoji, however, had grabbed his mobile phone. She called her husband and returned home. Balesh was caught by the police after Aji Panikkar of Choorakuzhi, who was on an early morning walk, noticed him in a suspicious situation and called local people. They kept him under custody and summoned the police. The police recovered the stolen chain from the scooter that Balesh was riding, and Shoji identified him. Shoji is the wife of Thadathil Mathew Joseph (Shibu) of Mullanpara, Banglamkadavu. Balesh is from to Kollamparambu in Kacherithadam, Adichipuzha. Earlier, Shoji had chased a Bengali man who had stolen her mobile phone at dawn, and caught him some 3 km away. Shibu runs a chicken outlet at Vadasserikara. Read more: Latest Pathanamthitta news Fri, 14 Dec 2018 08:15:33 GMT This rare bird is now Thiruvalla civic body's signature Thiruvalla: A reclusive bird locally known as 'chuvanna nelli kozhi' will now be the signature bird of the Thiruvalla Municipal Corporation. The bird, chestnut bittern, was spotted in the bushes near the paddy fields at Kattukara by bird watchers. As many as 108 different species of birds, including 20 species of migratory birds and 4 species of endangered birds, were found in the corporation limits. Twenty-four bird watchers worked for four years to document the details. The Forest Department, Agriculture University and Bird Count India joined hands in spotting birds in select areas under the local self-government institutions in various districts, and released posters on their findings. Thiruvalla Corporation topped the list in the Pathanamthitta district. Forest Minister K Raju released the poster and was received by Corporation chairman Cherian Polachirackal, and bird watchers Anish Sasidevan and Hari Mavelikkara. Read more Pathanamthitta News Wed, 12 Dec 2018 01:46:55 GMT Kudumbashree workers build a house for destitute woman Pathanamthitta: A homeless woman residing in Erath panchayat is the beneficiary of a house constructed entirely by Kudumbashree workers. The 410 square feet house with two bedrooms, a hall and a kitchen was built in 53 days. Kala Venu had been living in a shed for long until the workers came forward to build the house. The panchayat had allotted Rs 4 lakh for the construction under the 'Life' plan. The foundation stone was laid on September 12. The task was assigned to Kudumbashree by its district mission as part of training them for construction work. Kudumbashree members R. Prasanna and G. Nalini of wards 5 and 16 led the construction, right from digging up the earth for foundation to plastering, plumbing and wiring. Mason D. Biju was on hand for assistance. Usha Udayan, the Kudumbasree head in the panchayat, selected the beneficiary. The workers were given a stipend of Rs 275 per working day. The Institution for Skill Extension Training, Karunagapally, is in charge of training Kudumbashree workers in building construction. Thirty workers from the panchayat were given training before they started working on Kala's house. Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:38:58 GMT Excavation on Pamba banks to unravel history of ancient terracottas Kozhenchery: The Pamba River banks near Aranmula, where terracotta figurines were unearthed in September, would be excavated in a bid to to trace the history surrounding these artefacts. A project has also been envisaged to build a museum at Aranmula and preserve these artefacts. These decisions were taken at a high-level meeting chaired by State Museum and Archaeology and Archives Minister Kadanapally Ramachandran on Monday following recommendations by a committee headed by Aranmula MLA Veena George. A team headed by archaeologist Krishnakumar will undertake more excavation and research work in connection with the terracotta shards which were found, post floods, near to the Anjilimoottil Kadavu Bridge across the Pamba River. An international workshop would also be held to facilitate a detailed study on the figurines, which were probably made between the 10th and 15th century. A decision was also taken to shift the artefacts, which are currently kept at the state-run Vasthuvidya Gurukulum near here, to a temporary museum under the guidance of Thiruvananthapuram Museum Director. The new museum will be built using the MLA Local Area Development Fund. The National Centre for Earth Science Studies has indicated the presence of many terracotta figurines at a depth of 1.5 m or more in the area which falls in Pathanamthitta district. Sun, 09 Dec 2018 01:48:10 GMT Cop returns Rs 2 lakh found on street, saves a marriage Pamba: His present duty is to provide assistance to devotees reaching the Lord Ayyappa Temple and ensure their safety and security. But R Suresh Kumar, a civil police officer based at the Karunagappally station, has won many hearts for a different reason. He recently returned a bundle of Rs 2 lakh to the man who had lost it. Suresh was returning home after visiting a jewellery in Kollam on November 30, a day before he went on Sabarimala duty, when he spotted wads of Rs 2,000 notes bound with rubber band lying on the street. He picked up the bundle and handed it over to the jewellery staff, presuming that the money was probably fallen off from the waist pouch of some elderly man. He also guessed that the person who had lost it might have come to the jewellery to purchase gold with borrowed money. His police instincts and deductive reasoning later proved to be true. Lucky father of bride Balachandran Pillai of Theruvilamukku Bungalow in Thekkumbhagam, near Chavara, was left heartbroken when he came to know that he lost all the money that he had been saving for years to buy gold for her daughter’s marriage. He entertained little hope of getting it back when he went to the jewellery as a last-ditch effort. He could not believe his eyes when the jewellery owner handed him over the cash, saying that it was left there by a policeman. Pillai heaved a sigh of relief and left the jewellery in a hurry in order to meet the noble soul in khaki and thank him. When the two met, he hugged Suresh and cried. He also invited the cop to the wedding of his daughter Paravathy which was scheduled for December 2. However, Suresh could not attend the function due to prior commitments. “I believe it was the blessing of Lord Ayyappa that I happened to spot the money and return it to the family. I think I’m being posted at Pamba to help devotees visiting the hill shrine as per Ayyappa’s wish,” said Suresh, who mans the area near the guard room at Pamba. Sat, 08 Dec 2018 11:00:11 GMT Call to save shrinking grove in Ranni Ranni: A mini forest at Mamukku in the heart of Ranni town may disappear if another flood hits the area, point out local people. Located by the side of the Valiyathodu canal near Valiyapalam bridge, the plot measures 90 cents according to official records. But the actual area may be less than 50 cents as the canal washed away parts of it during floods. The forested land lies on both sides of the canal and it was earlier leased out for tapioca cultivation. Later, the Forest Department cancelled the lease and planted teak. Now, teak and wild trees have grown in the area, turning it into a mini forest. When flooding occurs in the canal during the monsoon, the rising waters erode the land, reducing the area of the forest and uprooting many trees. Recently, some uprooted trees that fell into the canal were allegedly stolen. But, the Forest officials do not seem to care. In fact, the plot, worth lakhs of rupees, is neglected by the officials. The land can be retained by building protective walls along the canal, but no steps have been taken in this regard. Locals say that the Forest Department should hand over the grove to the local body, which can utilise the area for a public purpose. However, neither the panchayat nor people’s representatives are showing any interest. It has been pointed out that if a park come up at the place, it would provide a space for people to spend their evenings, apart from being a source of income for the panchayat. Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:44:47 GMT Bicycle gifted for siblings who helped flood victims Mallappally: A WhatsApp collective of Beersheba Theological College, Mallappally, presented a bicycle to two brothers who had donated their savings to buy notebooks for flood victims. Joshua and Jermiah had saved the amount to buy a new bicycle. Both were down with chicken pox during the floods and had saved the money gifted by kin to buy a new bicycle. When they came to know about the sufferings of flood victims, they broke open their money box and found Rs 700 in it. They bought notebooks for the full amount and handed it over to the school for distribution to the needy. When their story was shared on the WhatsApp collective, the members decided to buy a bicycle for them. Wards of Kothala IPC church pastor Aneesh and Kochumol, Joshua is a student of St Paul's High School and Jermiah of St Peter's School. They are also Nallapadam activists in their respective schools. Nallapadam is a Malayalam Manorama project that aims at nurturing compassion and service mentality among the student community. The money was handed over at a function held at St. Paul's High School on Tuesday morning. Wed, 05 Dec 2018 09:09:00 GMT Youth kidnaps teen cousin to avenge refusal of cash aid Pathanamthitta: The police have arrested a youth for abducting his teen cousin from his house in Manjanikkara in the district. Prompt action by the cops helped rescue the boy from Perumbavoor, about 125 km away, around 1 am Saturday. The police have also arrested a four-member gang from Karnataka who helped the youth in the crime. The Plus Two student, who was bundled into a car and taken away, sustained injuries all over his body, obviously in brutal thrashing. The police stated Avinash, 24, son of the abducted teen's maternal aunt, staged the crime because the family refused to oblige him with Rs 25 lakh that he had demanded. Avinash and his hirelinks had broke into the boy's house around 9.45 pm on Friday. He and his grandma were the only ones at home as his parents were away in Bengaluru for business purposes. Avinash had stayed with the teen cousin's home in Manjanikkara for long during his own student days. He had been there with his parents last week and had demanded Rs 25 lakh, which was refused. The kidnap is reported to be an act of revenge, but is yet to be confirmed. Avinash asked for the boy's parents as he arrived at the Manjanikkara house with his gang late Friday. Unable to find them, a furious Avinash assaulted the boy, tied him up and forced him into the car's boot. The grandma was attacked as she tried to resist the crime. Her gold chain was snatched and the house was ransacked. The house is located about 50 metres from the main road. The cars in which Avinash and his gang arrived were parked by the roadside. The boy was dragged all the way there. He was then stripped off his lungi which was used to tie him up. The gang left in two cars. Prompt action Local people, who had rushed to the house on hearing the grandma's loud cry, called the police in. They arrived by about 11 pm, and alerted all police stations. The police found the boy tied up and unconscious in the boot of one of the cars. He has injuries to his nose and bruises from assault all over his body. The police deserve kudos for their swift action, which helped track the student and the gang the very same night. Perumbavoor Sub Inspector P A Faisal said assault weapons like sword and cycle chain were recovered from the gang's cars. Circle Inspector G. Sunil Kumar said more suspects are being sought. Finger prints and photos of those in custody will be passed on to Karnataka police to find out if the arrested are regular offenders. Karnataka links Avinash had close links to Karnataka, where he was living until he completed his SSLC. He moved to the Manjanikkara house for further studies and later after he got a job. The boy's father had gifted Avinash an autorickshaw after he completed studies, and later arranged him a job abroad. However, he went away to a relative's house in Chayalod, Adoor, and returned to Manjanikkara only last week after several years. That was when he demanded the large sum and a confrontation ensued as his demand was refused. Avinash's father was also reportedly in the gang, but managed to avoid arrest. The arrested gang members came from Chikmagalur in Karnataka and have been identified as Premadas, 31, Haneefa, 33, Chandrasekhar, 22 and Alex John, 35. Sun, 02 Dec 2018 04:51:40 GMT Pilgrims walk 1,094 km from Hyderabad to Sabarimala Sabarimala: A 90-member group of Ayyappa devotees has completed a 1,094-km walk to the temple here all the way from Charminar in Hyderabad. The group, comprising natives of Telangana, was led by ‘guruswamy’ Balakrishna. They reached the Ayyappa shrine taking the Pullumedu route which passes along barren hills covered with grasslands and paths adjacent to deep ravines and wild streams. The group feels contended for trekking along the picturesque spots and considers the chance to view the stunning scenery as a divine blessing. The walk began from Charminar on October 22 and the group spent each night at a temple along the route. The devotees reached Sabarimala on Tuesday after visiting various temples in Andhra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. To avoid being hit by vehicles while walking along the national highways, all members of the pilgrim group wore reflector jackets. Read more Pathanamthitta News Fri, 30 Nov 2018 01:48:59 GMT Man held for theft; murder case solved! Pandalam: A man caught red-handed while trying to steal a traditional oil lamp turned out to be a murder accused evading the police for over five years. Christopher alias Shankar (43) of Aikkaravila, Kalkulam in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu was nabbed for the theft from Pandalam. He was later remanded for fatally clubbing a 40-year-old man on the head at Thakkalai in Tamil Nadu back in 2013. A traditional oil lamp is lit in front of a picture of Lord Ayyappa at the KSRTC bus depot in Pandalam during every annual pilgrimage season. Christopher, who was loitering on the premises of the bus station, tried to steal the lamp by covering it with a black ‘mundu’ (waist cloth) during afternoon time when the place was almost deserted. But a special police officer on duty at the bus station intervened and caught Christopher red-handed. Soon, a police team headed by Sub-Inspector B Sajeesh Kumar reached the spot and arrested Christopher. During interrogation at the police station, the officials found that he was an accused in a case registered at Marthandam police station. More grilling followed and details of the murder at Thakkalai emerged. The Pandalam police subsequently contacted their counterparts in Tamil Nadu and confirmed that Christopher was the accused in the murder case and that a warrant existed against him. After committing the murder, Christopher had escaped to Kerala and was living at Meykkad near Omallur as a labourer, said the Pandalam police. The accused was produced before the court at Adoor and remanded. Wed, 28 Nov 2018 01:49:45 GMT Why this announcer at Pamba bus halt is indeed a godsend! Pathanamthitta: Holding a cordless mic and sporting a face that betrays no emotion, Ibrahim Narampadi belts out announcements on bus arrivals and departures at the base camp of the famed Sabarimala hill shrine. What makes the stocky man’s assignment at Nilakkal bus-stand is his felicity in four languages, providing major help to the motley crowd of passengers. Ibrahim has been official deputed to make loud declarations on the time-table of vehicles at the location where state-run KSRTC buses arrive and depart. Basically a driver with the government-run transport corporation, he announces the bus movements in Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi, much to the advantage of the people around. What is more, the Ayyappa pilgrims find him extremely resourceful in getting travel details and getting their doubts clarified in their mother tongue. For, he also speaks Tulu and Tamil languages, besides English. Glimpses of his North Malabar dialect chip into his Malayalam, as Ibrahim hails from upstate Mulleria in Karadka panchayat of Kasaragod district that borders Karnataka. The nativity helps: it's a junction of spoken languages such as Malayalam, Tulu and Kannada traditionally. “It’s devotees from Karnataka who struggle the most when it comes to communicating locally,” noted Ibrahim, wearing a badge that hangs loosely above his paunch and standing outside the counter that has ochre-coloured carpets rolled out for the pilgrims. Whichever be the language in which Ibrahim makes announcements, the end bit is invariably the same invocatory twin-word: Swamiye Saranamayyappa. Tue, 27 Nov 2018 05:00:22 GMT 'Bahubali' horse back on its feet after surgery Panthalam (Pathanamthitta): Lakshmi, a horse that was cast in the epic film 'Bahubali', is slowly recovering from an illness after it underwent a surgery. The mare, owned by Chikku, the owner of Nandana Travels based at Peroor, fell ill soon after its second delivery and was sick for nine months. Chikku had bought the mare a year ago from Sathyamangalam in Tamil Nadu. However in three months Lakshmi fell seriously ill. It was taken to Kollam Veterinary Hospital where the animal was diagnosed with perianal fistula. Vets recommended surgery to which Chikku reluctantly agreed. Lakshmi is no ordinary horse but one groomed to be a star. It raced to fame in the blockbuster film 'Bahubali' and has also made a strong screen presence in other films, including 'Romans' and 'Charlie,' In 2017 Lakshmi gave birth to a male foal in Chikku’s stable. He was named 'Ayyappan’ as he was born on the day of 'Makaravilakku'. People, including horse lovers from outside the district, started flocking to Chikku's Nandanam Farm in large numbers to see Ayyappan and star Lakshmi. For several months after delivery, the mare had not been keeping well and started showing symptoms of the illness. The animal was subject to scanning and further examination before proceeding to surgery. A team led by surgeon Dr Ajith Pillai, Dr Sajaykumar of Mangad Hospital, Dr Sibi, house surgeons Ananthu, and Akhil and attender Vijayan administered anaesthesia to 'Lakshmi'. On regaining consciousness, Lakshmi displayed uneasiness initially but soon sprung back on its four legs and started eating and drinking, much to the relief of Chikku. Chikku also owns two more horses - Gowri and Bhim Shankar which he rents out for films, serials weddings, advertisements and campaigns. He also has collections of carts and chariots that are lend for shooting. His love for animals is not just confined to horses. Nandanam farm has a vast collection of emu, turkey, guinea fowl, pigeons, swans, dogs and ornamental fish which are looked after by caretakers Vijayan and Ponnayya. Read more Pathanamthitta News Mon, 26 Nov 2018 01:43:02 GMT Why Pathanamthitta breathes easy unlike toxic Delhi Clean air is in short supply owing to pollution. However, there is no dearth of pure air to breathe across the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. This distinction is another feather in the district’s cap as the region had earlier showed the way for the nation in polio and poverty eradication as well as literacy and population control. The place can only be a paradise on earth for people of Delhi who are huffing and puffing due to toxic air. Why the district is so clean? Pathanamthitta is still a typical village with abundant green cover and trees. The place is surrounded by hills. Intermittent rains and the cool sea breeze give a touch of serenity to the place. It is noteworthy to add that private vehicles are less in number, and there is no heavy industry in the region. But one concern is the mushrooming of quarries in recent times. 20 Pathanamthitta = One Delhi As many as 1.56 crore vehicles, including 31.7 lakh cars, 66 lakh two-wheelers and 2.25 lakh trucks, are plying in India’s capital city, Delhi. Interestingly, there are only 35,332 public buses on Delhi roads. The burning of stubble after harvest in the neighbouring states contributes largely to the poor air quality in Delhi. Some stats The total area of National Capital Region, which includes Delhi and parts of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, is 54,984 sq km. It has 19 districts with a population of 4.61 crore. The rate of urbanization is 62 percent. As many as 82 Boeing aircraft take off and land in an hour in Delhi. How Pathanamthitta district stands out? The total area of the district is only 2,642 sq km, meaning 20 Pathanamthitta districts are equivalent to one Delhi. Kerala's largest forest range – Ranni -- is in this district. Close to 50 percent of the district (1,385 sq km) is covered by forest. Population dips The district has a current population of 11.97 lakh. The figure was 12.36 lakh in 2001. Pathanamthitta is the only district in the country which registered a dip in population. Every 10 years, the region has logged a decline of -2.97 percent in the population rate. Urbanisation rate is 10.03 percent, and the poverty rate is just 1.17 percent in the district. Close to 89 percent people are staying in villages and the population density is 452 persons per one sq km. Crackers and air quality Delhi’s air quality worsened alarmingly recently as a fallout of a surge in fumes due to the bursting of firecrackers during Diwali. The air quality took a hit as people used crackers beyond the Supreme Court-prescribed time limit of 8 pm to 10 pm. The presence of 10 micron particles in one cubic meter of air was pegged at 999 micro gram. The Kerala Pollution Control Board too has gauged the air quality level of the Pathanamthitta district during the Diwali season, and the numbers will be made public on November 15. District Pollution Control Board engineer Alexander George said that tests were underway at the laboratory in Kochi as the presence of cadmium, nickel and iron should be found out. The air quality in the district was 35 micro gram in one cubic meter of air a day before the Diwali, and this is one of the best in the country. “It is an offence to openly burn garbage. The practice of burning plastic waste and dried leaves should stop in the villages. The dried leaves can be converted into manure by following the Thumboormuzhi compost model. The burning of stubble after harvest will also result in air pollution. Pathanamthitta will lose its tag of clean air district if adequate measures are not taken to curb unhealthy practices,” warned George. Thiruvalla and Pampa are exceptions There is air pollution at Thiruvalla town in Pathanamthitta district. A unit to measure the air quality will be installed in two months at the corporation building in Thiruvalla. Pampa has recorded presence of particulates in the air last year, when the air quality checks started, and the index was close to 400 micro gram, which is quite high. The authorities concerned should take measures to sprinkle water in the area to curb dust pollution during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season which starts this week, and the Pampa lab would be opened on November 16. Concerns over Pampa air The air over banks of Pampa River is polluted with loads of dust, a fallout of recent floods. The high level of dust particles in the atmosphere surrounding Ranni, Aranmula, Thottapuzhacherry and Upper Kuttanad are detrimental to the health of people. District Engineer has informed that the Pollution Control Board would be conducting a study at Thottapuzhacherry. Health issues Air pollution is linked to asthma and heart diseases. It also poses many health problems for children, pregnant women and aged people. A two-day seminar was held in Delhi last week. Of the 15 participants from various states, 12 returned home with fever and severe cough caused most likely by toxic air in the capital city. “More than 40 percent of patients in hospital are suffering from asthma. The air quality in East Delhi was 444 micron the other day. The safe level is between 50 and 100 micron,” said Prof Sakhi John of Jamia Hamdard Varsity. Wed, 14 Nov 2018 01:42:28 GMT Concerns over holy dip as Pamba river dries up Sabarimala: Lack of check dams and scarcity of water may rob the devotees visiting the hill shrine of a holy dip in the sacred Pamba river. The check dams were destroyed in the recent floods and the river bed level had risen due to accumulation of mud, and there is only ankle-deep water in the river. Tata Projects Limited, engaged in rebuilding activities at Pampa, has removed substantial amount of mud from the river, and has also put sandbags to demarcate the area. The river bed is exposed when the temperature rises in the region. The water resource department had built check dams at Sriramapadam, Triveni and Arattukadavu but these are now sunk in mud deposited by the deluge. No effort has been made yet to recover these check dams. The Travancore Dewaswom Board is carrying out repair works to two blocks of the comfort station complex, near to the bridge at Triveni, which were damaged in the floods. Repairs and removal of mud and stones are underway on the first floor but the ground floor is still in tatters. Half of the multi-storey hotel, which was built as per the Sabarimala master plan at Pampa, had been destroyed. The damaged portion should be removed from the rest of the building but Tata Projects won’t be undertaking this task. The Dewaswom officials said that it could be a daunting task to literally slice the building into two with the pilgrimage season due to commence in a few days’ time. But they have chalked out plans to keep the pilgrims away from the damaged building. Tiger scare for executive magistrates Ranni: Executive magistrates, who were trekking downhill after the closure of Sabarimala temple, had a narrow escape from a tiger on Tuesday night. Tahsildars Vijaya Kumar (AR, Pathanamthitta), C R Somanadhan Nair (Mallapally), Deputy Tahsildar Ajayan and driver Vinod found themselves in front of a tiger between Marakoottam and Sabarimala temple. The tiger jumped from the forest onto their path near to the Chandranandan road. The group created a commotion to distract the tiger and ran towards Marakootam, and escaped. Tue, 13 Nov 2018 02:56:29 GMT Thumbamon on a green mission post floods Pandalam: The garbage that accumulated at Thumbamon panchayat during the floods has been collected and handed over to Chris Global Traders at Thiruvalla, which has been recognized as a green help establishment by the Haritha Mission, Kerala. Items like plastic bottles, bags, footwear, tube lights, bulbs and electronic devices which were found at various spots in the panchayat after the floods were picked up by the Harithakarma Sena and cleaned. They were later given to the Thiruvalla concern. Panchayat president Zacharia Varghese said that three loads of garbage were handed over after strenuous efforts. In the next phase, non-degradable waste material will be collected from houses charging Rs 60. Harithakarma Sena will conduct inspections at houses engaged in management of biodegradable waste every two months and offer suggestions. A contract will be signed between the house owners and the panchayat consortium before this process. At regular intervals, paper, plastic, medicine packing, broken glass and leather items will be collected from houses by Harithakarma Sena members. Local body members will supervise this task. The panchayat president also said that the green protocol will be implemented at the auditoriums and marriage halls in the panchayat. Fri, 09 Nov 2018 02:02:32 GMT Sabarimala-bound roads in a shambles without timely repairs Pathanamthitta: The Sabarimala season, which sees millions of devotees undertaking the pilgrimage, is just a fortnight away. During the previous years, preparations were carried out much before the season began in the district. This year, with the aftereffects of the floods, the protests over the entry of women of all ages to the temple and the government’s efforts in readying the police for any eventuality, the arrangements for the pilgrimage have taken the back seat. It has come to such a pass that nobody is interested in the proper upkeep of the vital roads leading to the hill temple. In case of roads, the public works minister usually visits at least twice to inspect the repair works. This time, the minister has not turned up even once, and most roads are in a shambles. 17 prime roads Seventeen roads bound for the pilgrim centre are on the list approved by the high court. Out of this, except two roads, all other stretches are in the Pathanamthitta district. Though Rs 57 crore has been allotted for filling the potholes, no full-fledged repair is taking place anywhere. But in many places even potholes are not being covered. The Public Works Department (PWD) had invited bids for 106 works related to the pilgrimage; most of them are yet to be taken over by the contractors. Mannarakulanji-Chalakkayam road This is the main road to Sabarimala. And, this is the most damaged one. The sides of the road gave in during recent floods and are in a precarious condition. By the time the temple will be opened, the sides could be fixed but potholes won't be attended to. From Vadasserikkara to Madaman, the contractor had started the works r on his own but stopped later. Cherukolpuzha-Ranni road The is the traditional 'thiruvabharam' route where the annual procession carrying the sacred ornaments of Lord Ayyappa passes through. The 9-km stretch was measured and demarcated after an assurance by Raju Abraham, MLA, to develop the road. However, nothing has been done over the last three years. Local residents twice announced protests but retracted when the MLA told them that the detailed project report has been submitted to the government and the approval should come soon. Now, there is no talk about the project. To placate the local residents, the potholes have been covered. Athikkayam Bridge-Poovathumoodu road This road too is in a bad condition. It was dug up in the middle for laying the pipeline for the Perunad drinking water supply scheme. With even the pits yet to be covered, the stretch from Perunad market to Madathummoozhi is not motorable. The plan to develop the road using bitumen macadam and bitumen concrete has been approved but works won't get over before the pilgrimage season begins. Punalur-Muvattupuzha road This is another important road that is lying damaged. Since it is included in the second phase of the Kerala State Transport Project only repair works are carried out. The stretch from district border Kallukadavu to Plachery is in a sorry state; here too only potholes are being covered. Though potholes are being repaired at Vakayar, Konny and Mannarakulanji, it is done at a slow pace. Works are yet to start at Murinjakal, Koodal and Kalanjoor that fall under Adoor. The stretch between Mannarakulanji and Plachery that falls under Ranni subdivision too is yet to see any works. Nobody is willing to take up the contract to carry out the works. The devotees coming from other states through Chenkotta and Punalur take this route to reach Sabarimala and Erumeli. Chethomkara - Athikkayam road A contract has been signed to develop Chethomkara-Athikkayam road on global standards. But work is under way only at Mandiram-Vadasserikkara, Mukkada-Idaman-Athikkayam, Athikkayam bridge-Poovathummodu and Kozhanjery-Ranni stretches. Works are yet to be completed at Vadasserikkara-Chittar-Angamoozhy road. Adoor – Pathanapuram road Work is yet to begin on the Adoor-Pathanapuram and Adoor-Sasthamkotta roads that are under the Sabarimala project. The PWD is yet to give permission for changing the water pipeline on KP Road. The water authority has to pay the PWD Rs 5.5 core after which it will give the nod. The stretch from KP Road Adoor to Ilamannur is damaged. The Adoor-Sasthamkotta road is not in a great condition from Nellimoottilpadi to Kadamnad; here too work is yet to commence. Work has begun only on the Adoor-Thatta road. Ezhamkulam- Kaipattoor road Nothing remains of a road here. Work has begun to develop the road at a cost of Rs 20 crore. The areas that are completely damaged include those near Moonnam Kalunku, Chandanappally junction, Idathitta junction, Idathitta Kaavumpatu temple, Vazhavilapalam as well as the ones in front of the petrol pump, the Koduman Government LP School. The roads near the police station, veterinary hospital and Krishi Bhavan are also in a shambles. Repair work, mainly filling potholes, has begun on the Plappilly-Angamoozhy stretch. This is the road that takes devotees to from Plappilly to the Angamoozhy stopover. Other roads In Thiruvalla, seven roads have been allotted Rs 5.53 crore. They include Kaavumbagam-Muthur (Rs 3.5 crore), Thiruvalla-Mallapaly (Rs 1 crore), Thukalassery Anjilimood-TK Road Manjadi (Rs 45 lakh), Aarattukadavu-Othara (Rs 20 lakh), Chakrakhsalanakadavu-Kallunkal (Rs 20 lakh), Thondara-Eeradichira (Rs 10 lakh), and Kattod-Thirumoolapuram (Rs 8 lakh). On Thiruvalla-Mallapally road, potholes are being covered, after which tarring will be done. On Thrivuvalla-Mallappally road, from Deepa junction to Chilanka junction, and on Kaavumbagam-Muthur road the PWD is filling the potholes with rock dust and crushed rocks. Now, the road and surround areas are enveloped in dust. The Kaavumbagam-Muthur road works are yet to begin. On the Anjilimood-Manjadi road, the potholes have been covered. The roads under the Mallappally subdivision are yet to see any repair works. Repair works are being done on Kumbanad-Kallupara, Njalikandam-Kadamankulam, Kunnathanam-Kaviyoor, Mallappally-Thiruvalla roads. Work is yet to begin on Thannithod-Chittar road. The tarring on Neeli Pilav to Chittar raod has eroded, giving rise to potholes and cracks. Sat, 03 Nov 2018 05:14:25 GMT Ayyappa devotee found dead; BJP hartal in Pathanamthitta begins Pathanamthitta: Vehicles stayed off the road and shops remained shut after the BJP called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Pathanamthitta district on Friday to condemn the death of a Sabarimala pilgrim at Nilakkal. The hartal, from 6 am to 6 pm, has the support of Hindu Aikyavedi and Sabarimala Karmasamithi. Parumala church pilgrims have been exempted. The BJP has demanded that the mystery behind the death be cleared. Sivadasan, 60, a resident of Sarath Bhavan, Mulambuzha in Pandalam, was found dead in the forest near Kambathumvalavu in Plappally on Thursday. He had left his house for visiting the Sabarimala temple when it was opened for the rituals during the Malayalam month of Thulam. While the police claimed that Sivadasan’s death was an accident, the BJP alleged that he was killed during the police action that took place when the temple opened for the monthly rituals. Sivadasan, who visited Sabarimala temple on the first day of every Malayalam month, had started from his house on October 18 morning. When he failed to return, relatives filed a missing complaint at the police stations in Pamba, Nilakkal and Perunad on October 21 and Pandalam police station on October 24. Finally, his body was located during a search conducted by his relatives at the forest near Kambakathumvalavu. His two-wheeler was also found from the vicinity. Sivadasan had taken part in the Namajapa Yatra taken out in Pandalam against the entry of young women to Sabarimala. Police dismiss claim District police chief T Narayanan has refuted the allegation that Sivadasan went missing following the police action. “The police cracked down on protestors on October 16 and 17. But, Sivadasan started from his house only on October 18. He prayed at the temple on October 19 and informed his relatives at home about it. He went missing afterwards,” said Narayanan. “On October 25, a complaint was received at Pandalam police station that Sivadasan was missing. His body was found at Laha, but the lathi-charge took place at Nilakkal,” added the police chief. He also said that stringent action would be taken against those raising baseless allegations and circulating rumours. CM should quit Home: BJP Meanwhile, BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai demanded that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan hand over the home portfolio to someone else as it has become clear that police action had led to the death of Sivadasan. “The body of Sivadasan who was reported missing since October 17 was found at Plapally forest on Wednesday. He was riding a bicycle with the picture of Lord Ayyappa when the police attacked him and beat him to death,” alleged Pillai. He also said that the BJP had been demanding a judicial probe from the day Sivadasan was reported missing. The policemen involved in the incident should be charged with murder, said Pillai. Fri, 02 Nov 2018 07:10:53 GMT Ponthanpuzha is a private forest, HC rejects Kerala’s review petition Perumbetty (Pathanamthitta): The Kerala government’s attempts to declare the Ponthanpuzha-Valiyakavu forest as a reserve forest received a setback with the high court refusing to entertain a review petition. The court had ruled in January that the forest belonged to private individuals. The order comes as a shocker for about 1,200 families who have settled in the forest area without any title deed. These farmers now face eviction from their settlement because the court order means that the private individuals have ownership of the forest. The contentious forest area spans about 7,000 acres over Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts. A group of activists have alleged that the government pleader failed to produce the documents to prove the government’s ownership of the land at the final stage of the trial. The government erred in assigning the same pleader to file a review petition, the Vana Samrakshana Pattaya Samithi said. The forest was notified as a reserve in 1905 by the then Travancore dewan, Madhava Rao. The Kerala government reiterated the position through a notification in 1958. Though the Ezhumattoor Kovilakam argued that the land was gifted to them by Travancore king Marthanda Verma, various courts and settlement officers rejected the claim. Even a single bench and division bench of the high court ruled that the forest belonged to the government. The plaintiffs went in appeal to the Supreme Court, which asked the high court to reopen the case. The activist group smells a conspiracy involving the forest mafia. They said that outsiders were trying to stake claim over the forest, while the people who lived by the forest were denied their rightful ownership. They said that the rejection of the review petition was the result of a collusion between the forest department and the forest mafia. They said that they were exploring the possibility of approaching the Supreme Court. Thu, 25 Oct 2018 06:53:25 GMT Dispensary construction stalled as funds dry up Ranni: The Pazhavangadi panchayat is in a fix as the construction of the Government Ayurvedic Dispensary building has been stalled for many months following lapse of World Bank funds for the project. The funds got lapsed after work delay owing to the failure of the assistant executive engineer of the Local Self-Government Department (LSGD) to approve a part bill relating to the project. The World Bank has set aside Rs 23 lakh for the project and the work was underway at the location at Minarvapadi, close to the Veterinary Hospital. The part bill of Rs 13 lakh was raised after work relating to basement and roofing was over but the engineer concerned did not approve it. As a result, the contractor couldn't get money for the work done and the construction work had to be stopped for months. Due to the delay, the funds lapsed. Now, the panchayat has to allocate money for the project from its kitty and for that it has to make amendments in the annual outlay and get the nod of the district planning committee. Currently, the dispensary is run from a single room at Puzhikunnil posing undue hardship to patients. The new dispensary building with adequate facilities is expected to mitigate the problems of patients visiting the dispensary. Tue, 16 Oct 2018 05:47:51 GMT Heavy rain floods roads, triggers landslides in Konni Konni: An incessant bout of rain in Pathanamthitta district on Saturday caused flooding in at least five stretches of a state highway connecting Punalur and Muvattupuzha and held up traffic for more than three hours. Landslides were reported from Athirumkal. The Kollanpadi-Athirumkal road and the Pulinjani-Radhappadi road were flooded too, affecting traffic in the area. The incessant rain showed no sign of abating even on Saturday night. A house was damaged in the rain. The state highway was flooded at Vakayar Societypadi, Market Junction, Thannimoodu, Murinjakal and Nedumankavu. Traffic ground to a halt between Konni and Kalanjoor. Some of these areas were neck-deep in water, prompting the police to regulate vehicle traffic to avoid any accidents. The current was strong too. A landslide at Athirunkal showered mud and boulders onto the house of Kizhakkethil Sadanandan at Muttakkuzhi. Another landslide disrupted traffic on the Kollanpadi-Athirumkal road near the Chuvattupara temple. Many people were stranded due to the flood. Read more: Latest Pathanamthitta news Sun, 14 Oct 2018 04:01:32 GMT Chance of unearthing more Pamba-side artefacts: experts Aranmula: Ten days after villagers stumbled upon terracotta artefacts from along the Pamba river of south-central Kerala, experts from the National Centre of Earth Sciences Studies (NCESS) inspected the site to study its ecological aspects and predicted the possibility of finding more such historical objects. Three scholars from the environmental science department of the Thiruvananthapuram-based autonomous research centre arrived at Anjilimoodu Kadavu to primarily learn more about the post-flood geological changes that have occurred along the banks of Kerala’s third-longest river. The baked clay pieces were found by local people in end-September, one-and-a-half months after the deluge that had Pamba waters overflowing. The NCESS team was led by its environmental science head Dr D Padmalal, along with scientists Arun Bilaji and Jithu Shaji. Accompanying them was N K Sukumaran Nair, who is general secretary of the Pamba Parirakshana Samithi that is campaigning for the conservation of the 176-km river flowing westward from a hill in the Peerumade plateau of the Western Ghats and empties into the Vembanad lake. The team, after its first round of study on Tuesday, estimated the antiquity of the objects at no less than 500 years. They projected chances of more such artefacts lying in a depth of 90 centimetres to 150 metres. The terracotta pieces, at the caved-in portion of a bridge that is under construction, were found beneath a tree that had its roots exposed after the floods of August. The 1978-founded NCESS under the Kerala government carries out studies in environmental impact assessment, coastal and estuarine management and terrain analysis among other tasks. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 01:53:30 GMT Cops get short shrift as station readies for the disabled Thiruvalla: The police station here has become friendly to the disabled, even as it lacks basic facilities for its officers. A new building has been built in front of the station which will function as a shelter where visitors can wait, free from the hassles at the police station. Ramps and other requirements of the differently-abled people have been arranged in the new building, which includes the washrooms, but misplaced priorities have resulted in neglecting the needs of the cops. The new arrangements at the station have been set up spending Rs 7 lakh, even though the police officers working in the station are struggling without basic facilities. Space crunch has even forced the ASIs to occupy the room meant for the elderly people and women among the visitors. Severe lack of infrastructure has affected both the 41 male and eight lady cops here. They neither have a restroom nor separate washrooms. The common washroom of the police station is located outside the building, causing severe inconvenience to officers. Visitors to the police station also use the washroom. The tap in the washroom is always dry, except two days a week. The water needs of an entire week have to be managed with this small quantity. Police officers head to the washroom of Fire and Rescue Services station nearby for relieving themselves. A plastic sheet also serves as the roof of the station and water leaks from it during every rain, often drenching whatever is kept below. The women cops take rest in an area temporarily covered with a plastic sheet. There are now plans to make the police station child-friendly too, but the police officers, who toil round the clock, have to wait longer for even a restroom or a washroom. Sun, 07 Oct 2018 01:52:11 GMT More wild animals spotted on Gavi route Seethathodu: As the vehicular movement has been suspended on the Gavi route due to the landslides of August 15, more wild animals could be spotted near the road. And the only persons who have the luxury of devouring the beauty of wildlife are the KSEB officials. Elephants, wild buffaloes and different species of monkeys could be seen loitering near to the road connecting Gavi in the Pattanamthitta district to the outside, they said. Though traffic has been restored, only small vehicles can pass through the road, and the entry of visitors are restricted. Forest wardens said that animals could be seen on the road side as the place is silent with no vehicles plying. Fri, 05 Oct 2018 01:48:59 GMT Legendary caves face destruction from new crusher unit Konni: The people of Injappara in Pathanamthitta district are worried that the crusher mafia has set their eyes on the cave complex called Rakshasanpara which has been associated with many legends. They are wary that the crusher unit, which has secured a license from the administrative council of the Kalanjur panchayat, would soon start operations on this pristine land. The people believe that the kilometers long rock complexes, which include Pulipara, Thattupara, Kuavan–Kurathipara and Rakshasanpara, would be completely destroyed in rock blasting. The place holds a significant position in the culture and history of the area, and is a storehouse of a variety of rare flora and fauna, locals stated. The residents have also realised the importance of securing the animal species in their natural habitat. Public outcry The people in the locality have decided to protest against the new crusher unit peacefully and with legal methods. The administrative council led by the CPM has granted the license for the crusher unit. However, the party has also extended their support to the protestors as well. Political parties like the CPI, BJP and Congress too had openly declared their support for the people’s protest. History of protests Attempts to open crusher units at Rakshasanpara began decades ago. However, the local people have constantly resisted such attempts. It was noted sage Guru Nithyachaitanya who inspired the people to take a mass oath to fight against the crusher mafia. The people are resolved to fight against the new move even 25 years later. Destroyed ecology Rock mountains like Pothupara, Chakkutharapara and Pakkandampara, which once played a significant role in maintaining the ecological balance, have almost disappeared. The Padappara is on verge of destruction. The environmentally sensitive area cannot survive the harmful effects of another crusher unit here. The people allege that the authorities and the panchayat have granted license for a new crusher unit even though it may pose a threat to the ecology and the mankind alike. Read more from Pathanamthitta Sun, 30 Sep 2018 14:29:01 GMT Transgenders get a helping hand to become palm-tree climbers Thiruvalla: As part of efforts to integrate transgender persons into the mainstream, a training programme for the community members in coconut climbing and mushroom cultivation was organised near here. The event was conducted by the District Krishi Vigyan Kendra attached to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) at Thelliyoor in Pathanamthitta district as part of the Navodaya Movement, an initiative of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church aimed at the comprehensive development of transgender community. The five-day training programme involved training in mechanised palm-tree climbing, scientific coconut management, application of fertilisers, and hands-on training in coconut pest and disease management. The trainees were exposed to newer farming methods in mushroom cultivation and seed production, packaging and marketing as well. The sessions, led by Alex John and Vinod Mathew KVK programme coordinators, were attended by seven transgender persons hailing from different districts in northern Kerala. The patron of the Navodaya Movement is H. G Rev Dr Joseph Mar Thoma, the Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church , while Bishop Dr Geevarghese Mar Theodosius is the president of the project. A working transgender person has equal status as every citizen, said Mar Theodosius. Rev. Abraham P Varkey, Navodaya Movement organiser Preethi Kuruvila, and Krishi Vigyan Kendra head Dr. C P Robert spoke on the occasion. Two trainees were given a coconut climbing machine free of cost along with insurance coverage. Wed, 26 Sep 2018 05:33:50 GMT A survival craft as unique as that of Aranmula Kannadi Young master craftsman Murukan R was the first to resume work after the Pamba decimated the entire 'Aranmula Kannadi' trade along its banks. Murukan gathered his workers and began work just a week after the river pulled back. Even those in his trade were surprised. “What was there for him to start work on,” asked Balan, a craftsman's assistant at Aranmula, a temple town near Kozhencherry in Pathanamthitta district. Both Murukan's workshops, like the rest in the area, were fully destroyed. The unique tools used in the making of the mirrors – the 300-odd mud moulds and the 100-odd square wood blocks - were washed away. “There was nothing to be sold even,” Balan said. The 45 Aranmula mirrors Murukan had in his shop – framed, beaded, polished and ready to be sold, and each costing between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 - were also swept away by a river running amok. Two secrets He might have lost everything but Murukan said he was in possession of two secrets. One was the special ratio in which tin and copper are mixed to make a bronze-like alloy. “It is a 500-year-old secret, handed down by our forefathers. It is not something even the Pamba can take away from me,” Murukan said. At least 10 other traditional craftsmen in the area know the secret. Aranmula mirror is so unique to the area that it had been given UNESCO's GI (geographical indication) tag, which makes registered artisans in Aranmula the sole custodians of 'Aranmula Kannadi'. But what made Murukan alone resume work just a week after the flood was a secret others were not willing to believe. “Despite the promises, I knew the government was not going to do anything for us. Our craft is already dying and we alone can prevent it from total destruction,” he said. When Onmanorama visited his shop on September 21, 10 polished mirrors were already displayed in the showcase that faced the road leading to the Aranmula Parthasarathi temple. Inspired, two other craftsmen in the area have started to pick up the threads. Others are still waiting for the promised government supervision. “The District Industrial Centre has drawn up a list of our losses,” said Narayanan, a craftsman. “But the panchayat and village officials say that a decision on compensation for those who had lost their workshops was yet to be taken,” he said. It is estimated that the mirror craftsmen have together suffered a loss of nearly Rs 2 crore. Bun-shaped moulds Murukan took a small amount as loan from a local lender, and also pawned all his wife's jewellery. “She was fine with it as this craft is our only means of living,” he said. The larger issue for him was finding the right kind of mud to create the moulds. “It is the clay from the paddy fields around Aranmula that we use to make moulds. But now the river has deposited a thick layer of slush over the paddy fields. This new layer of clay is unsuitable for our moulds,” Murukan said. Still, he has managed to find the right amount of clay to make 20 moulds. These moulds are bun-shaped disks, and they are pressed together to form a larger mould. Nonetheless, the flat sides of the halves will not touch each other. There will be a narrow space, just enough for an ant to crawl through, in between. The round edge will be closed using mud. The molten alloy created by mixing tin and copper in a unique ratio is then poured into this narrow space through a mud funnel created at one edge of the mould. The entire mould is heated for some time, and left to cool. After a day, the two halves of the larger mould are removed and a circular metal that is almost dark in colour is taken out. (There are different moulds for different sizes.) This circular metal is then stuck, using wax extracted from medicinal herbs, on the flat surface of a square wooden block with a handle on top. Then, a worker starts scraping the metal on a hard sheet until it achieves a near-golden glow. It can even take a day or two to achieve perfection. The wood block will be heated to extract the Aranmula mirror, which will then be framed in various designs. Spitting image It is said that, unlike a normal mirror, an Aranmula mirror provides the spitting image of the person looking into it. An ordinary mirror is made of glass with a reflective coating at the other side. So the light first permeates the surface and gets reflected only when it touches the coated side at the back. An element of refraction (a deviation in the light ray's trajectory as it passes though the glass medium) distorts the image. In the case of the Aranmula mirror, the light reflects right from the upper surface. A small experiment will demonstrate the difference. Place the edge of one's index finger on top of an ordinary mirror. There will be a small gap in between the finger edge and its image. Do this on an Aranmula mirror. The gap will be erased. Mon, 24 Sep 2018 06:23:58 GMT Surplus flood-relief goods being donated to tribals Pathanamthitta: Excess overseas aid meant for distribution to the flood-affected will now be channelled to tribal colonies and Scheduled Caste families. A collector’s order issued to this effect is being implemented following distribution of the goods to the intended beneficiaries. The district administration's storage facilities for flood aid became full last month. It has curtailed the receipt of goods and delayed taking delivery of consignment that had recently landed at the airport in Thiruvananthapuram. Overall, they totalled goods in 812 boxes addressed to the Pathanamthitta district administration. All of them were brought to Pramadom village in Konni block of this district, 100 km north of the state capital. The boxes contained clothes, vessels, medicines and food material meant for those suffering from last month’s deluge and landslides. The administration had already distributed sufficient material to people who had stayed in flood relief camps. It had also disbursed 50,000 kits to them after such stopgap accommodations had wound up. Even so, there is excess relief material. In fact, such items stored at Pramadom’s Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium continue to get readied for segregation and distribution. It is in this context the administration decided to send out a portion of the relief material to those traditionally marginalised communities though not particularly affected by the August calamity. Simultaneously, efforts are also on to donate 30,000 textbook to the district’s school students (through the Deputy Director, Education Department), disinfectants, hand-wash and bleaching powder (Swachh Bharat Mission), medicines (DMO) and biscuits, baby food and clothes (Social Justice Department and SC/ST Department). Mon, 24 Sep 2018 03:24:11 GMT Flood unearths 1,600-year-old tree fossil Pathanamthitta: The Pamba river has thrown up many surprises after the floods. One of them is a fossilised tree that is about 1,600 years old. The subfossil buried in the riverbed has been unearthed after the strong currents washed away the mud and sand for three to four metres, noted P Padmalal, a researcher at the National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS). The fossil has turned into peat fossil, the stage before transforming into coal, as it was buried in silt all these years, he said. Subfossil is a bone or other part of an organism that has not fully fossilised. The discovery proves that Kerala was under the sea or submerged by other water bodies about 2,000 years ago. Rivers and their tributaries had taken different courses and the banks were covered under dense forests. Scientists have suggested that heavy rainfalls uprooted giant trees and buried them in silt in riverbeds. The theory is supported by the sand deposits and remnants of trees encountered by well diggers during their course of work. An ancient tree trunk dug up at Othara several years ago was carbon-dated to be from 1,650 years ago. The tree has not been identified so far. It could be extinct. The Pamba river and the Manimalayar river settled on their present courses after many years of flooding. Many of the paleo-riverbeds have been spotted with help from remote-sensing satellite technology. Many of them have turned into thickly populated areas. A paleo-riverbed is a remnant of an inactive river or stream channel. The rivers were just claiming back their original paths in last month's flood, Padmalal said. Similarly, the 2005 Tsunami that rocked the southern states had unearthed some stone remains and ancient sculptures from the coast near Mahabalipuram temple in Tamil Nadu. According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the stone structure could be the remains of an ancient port city. A granite lion and other two pieces of carved stones were found buried in the sand after the coastline receded after the Tsunami. Archaeologists claimed that the pieces date back to 7th Century AD. Sat, 22 Sep 2018 12:13:07 GMT The house in Thiruvalla which sheltered hundreds of flood victims Niranam: When the worst floods in close to a century submerged Thiruvalla and surrounding areas between August 8 and 16, Soosan Thomas did not think twice to offer her house to those displaced by the calamity. For over a month, the house of Soosan of Pothoopallil Thaynaril, near Thottadi, served as the relief camp for as many as 60 persons belonging to 12 families in Niranam - one of the worst hit areas in the district. These families, including women, children and the elderly, who were forced out of their homes, were given space to sleep inside her house, and she, along with her two children, Milan Jacob, an engineering student, and Mridula Jacob, a Plus One student, moved out to a relative’s house in Anjilithanam. Earlier, when the region witnessed massive flooding in mid-July, the family had thrown their doors open for marooned families, taking in as many as 119 people from 35 families. With floodwaters inundating the entire area, country boats were the only means of transportation to reach the house located in the middle of a paddy cluster bordering Alappuzha district, about 2 km away from the mainland. It is a single storey house with three-bedrooms, hall and a kitchen. She also arranged a temporary shed for the displaced to cook food and made sure there was enough grocery supplies for them. When the area experienced the second spell of incessant showers between August 8 and 16 causing widespread flooding, rainwaters entered the premises of her house. Heeding the advice of her husband Thomas Jacob who works abroad, she moved to a relative’s house, but not before opening the gates to house those in distress. Wed, 19 Sep 2018 01:58:47 GMT Two days in a flooded house: Annamma lost her son and husband Annamma Varghese has not had a smile on her face since August 15. The woman from Kallisseri Mangalam near Chengannur lost most of her family to the river which submerged entire neighbourhoods in the area. Her 39-year-old son Reni George had been bedridden for six years following a road accident. Her husband K G Varghese aka Baby was a diabetes patient. His mother Sosamma was 97 years old. All of them were drowned inside their house located half a kilometre away from the main road. Rescue teams heard the cries from the house only on the third day of the fatal flood. The men who rowed up to the house saw Annamma holding on to a metal grill and crying for her life. Memories float The house sitting smug in the shade of a rich green foliage wears a deserted look now. Even the road leading up to the house is eerily silent. The woman who tried desperately to save her bedridden son, sick husband and old mother-in-law is still in shock. She spent spent two days with the bodies of her loved ones, trying to keep afloat all the while. Annamma was a nurse at a community health centre in Uttar Pradesh. Her husband was a retired Indian Air Force officer. Baby returned to settle in Kerala in 2007 along with his mother. Annamma followed suit five years later. Her son Reni was already confined to bed but he partially recovered after they returned to Kerala. He was able to sit up and move himself about in a wheelchair. Her younger son David George is a teacher in Gujarat. August 15 Baby had gone for his daily morning walk on August 15. He found the path flooded. He cut short his routine and returned home after buying some biscuits from the nearby shop. The yard had turned into a river. The family had no idea what was in store for them. After an anxious day of heavy downpour, Annamma was cooking dinner for the family when she felt the water touching her feet. In a few minutes, she was knee-deep in water. She suddenly fed the others whatever she managed to cook and ran up to her bedroom, where the phone was ringing. She did not check who was on the other line. She implored the caller to save them. She then rushed to her son's room, negotiating the logs floating in the rising water. The water was rising fast, reaching up to the level of the young man sitting on his bed. Annamma supported him against her shoulder. Her husband and mother-in-law were in the room too. The four of them stood staring at each other. August 16 They stood in neck-deep water for the entire day, Reni leaning against his mother. He was scared. He kept asking if someone would come to rescue them. She tried to reassure him. All of them were starving and shivering in the cold. They had been standing in the water for a night and a day. The current was so strong that they had to struggle to stand firm. Annamma would cry out loud whenever she thought she heard voices outside. Nobody answered. By evening, Sosamma could not stand any longer. She just collapsed into the water without uttering a word. Annamma could not even offer her hand to save her mother-in-law. She was still carrying Reni. Baby, a diabetic, was tired too. He could not even move to nibble at the biscuits he had bought the previous day. He fell headlong to the water. Annamma can't remember when she lost hold of her son. She can't stop blaming herself for not staying awake through that horrible night. She felt Reni sliding into the water. She tried to grab him. But the water was too deep and the current too strong. It was pitch dark. August 17 The rescue operations had been stepped up. The boatmen finally managed to reach all the nooks and corners of the area, even to Annamma's house which was not immediately visible from the main road. They could save only Annamma. The rescue workers found three bodies in the house. Annamma was hoping for a peaceful retired life when she returned to Kerala eight years after three decades of service in Uttar Pradesh. What she is left with are horrible memories of a flood. She was attending the funerals of her son, husband and mother-in-law on the day when they were supposed to be relishing the Onam feast. She has not returned to her house. She found it hard to recount the two-day nightmare sitting in the house of a relative at Chengannur. Mon, 17 Sep 2018 01:50:26 GMT Police thrash aide to Anto Antony, MP Pathanamthitta: P Sanil Kumar, the secretary of Anto Antony MP, was seriously injured after being allegedly attacked by the Pathanamthitta circle inspector of police. He was admitted to Pathanamthitta general hospital. The police action followed some issues related to the elections at Catholicate College, Pathanamthitta. According to Anto Antony, the police barged into his office alleging that some students of the college were hiding there. Sanil, who was alone at the office, was severely thrashed by the police. The MP said that the attacker was C Sunil Kumar, the Pathanamthitta circle inspector. It is alleged that the police had beaten up some female students who were present on the road also. The district congress committee protested the incident. Fri, 14 Sep 2018 07:53:16 GMT Floods deposit Rs 4-crore worth sand at Pampa Thriveni Pathanamthitta: Sand worth around Rs 4 crore has piled up at the Pampa Thriveni after the recent floods. Meanwhile, sand is being removed from Hilltop at five spots near the river Pampa by TATA Projects Limited, which has secured the work to provide basic facilities in the area along with removal of garbage. The opinion of the Kerala High Court will be sought to identify the uses for the sand. Sand, some 10 feet high, had been deposited in the Pampa for a distance of 2 km. Unless this sand is removed and the depths of the river Pampa are restored, there will be flooding even during normal rains. Sand from Kakki Dam had been deposited even at Attathodu which is 19 km from Pampa. The officials has now decided to remove sand from near Thriveni. The Kochi-based firm has collected 1000 loads within two days. R Ajithkumar, executive engineer of Devaswom Board, felt that the sand could be used for the reconstruction of the facilities at Pampa, Nilakkal and Sannidhanam. The affidavit filed by the special commissioner of Sabarimala will be examined by the High Court, which will issue instructions on the tasks to be taken up by each department for reconstruction. It is based on the High Court order that further steps would be taken. Thu, 13 Sep 2018 06:31:58 GMT Siblings donate piggy bank savings for flood relief Vrindavanam: Moved by stories of misery that floated around in the wake of recent floods in Kerala, two siblings from Vellayil in Pathanamthitta district have donated the entire amount in their piggy banks to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund. Class-8 student Aiswarya and her brother Dhanush of Class 2 handed over their savings to headmaster K P Kaladhara Kurup of SCV Higher Secondary School at Kottanad, which comes under the Mallappally block of Pathanamthitta district. The donation was made during the assembly session. The school authorities had exhorted its wards to contribute to the fund. At a Parent-Teacher Meeting later, school manager Manoj Charalel reiterated the request. Back home, Aiswarya, a student police cadet, had proposed the handing over of the amount. At this, Dhanush insisted he, too, wanted to contribute. Their uncle P Ajith had gifted the money in 2015 ahead of the Vishu festival. Their parents, Sajeev and Anjana of Aiswarya Nivas at Vellayil, said they are proud of the students' gesture. Wed, 12 Sep 2018 14:54:44 GMT Common meals, one kitchen for 15 families that escaped floods Ranni: In a rare initiative, 15 flood-affected families at Aithala, near here, have opened a common kitchen as their houses are yet to become habitable. These flood-ravaged houses are double-storied and on the banks of the Pamba River in Pathanamthitta district. When the river breached its banks last month, these well-off people had escaped to safe places on tiny canoes and coracles. Later, when they returned to their houses after the flood waters had receded, heaps of mud had collected inside their residences. The common kitchen was initially started by Arun, who runs a grocery shop, for the benefit of the volunteers who had arrived to remove the mud as floods receded. The garage of O Thomas Kutty served as the kitchen and V Vijayan, whose house was completely damaged in the calamity, donned the role of the chef. Several other neighbours help with cooking. Dishes like rice, chicken, chicken biryani, fish curry, fried rice and sambar are prepared at the kitchen for this small community. Each day’s expenses are met by a householder on a rotation basis. Residents needing the food at home are supplied them at their doorsteps. Food is also served to labourers from other states who work at houses in the locality. Thomas Kutty’s neighbours Arun, Abhilash, Somasekharan Nair, Manu, Venugopla, Vimal and Suresh are active in the kitchen and in distribution. Local panchayat member and another neighbour, Binnitt Mathew, is also around to oversee the affairs. Wed, 12 Sep 2018 05:40:57 GMT Tribal delivers in jungle, health workers brave odds for rescue Konni: A tribal woman who gave birth to a baby deep inside the forest was rescued by a team of health workers on Sunday. The woman delivered the baby around 8 am in a thick forest, five kilometres away from her home in Kattathi tribal colony near Konni. Public health workers Sajitha and Sreelatha rushed to the colony as soon as they learned about the incident. They hired a car from Aruvappulam to the Kattathi colony and switched to a jeep to traverse the jungle roads that lay ahead. They travelled in the jeep for three kilometres and trekked the rest of the way to reach the woman and the baby. They were accompanied by the drivers and an old woman from the colony. They administered first aid to the woman and carried them back to the colony, where an ambulance lay in waiting for them. Dr Sreejayan, the medical officer of the Kokkathode primary health centre, was also present. The mother and the baby boy were admitted to the Pathanamthitta general hospital by 2.45 pm. They are doing well. Read more news from Pathanamthitta Tue, 11 Sep 2018 10:16:47 GMT Two TN electricians fix flood-hit circuits gratis, gifted famed mirror Kozhenchery: The August deluge in Kerala had witnessed the crucial role played by volunteers in rescue and rehabilitation works. The cleaning drive that saw mass participation has been touted as a 'revolution of volunteerism' by the international media. It was not just Keralites alone who chipped in for cleaning drives and relief activities at camps and houses. A father and son, both electricians, reached Aranmula from Coimbatore and was engaged in repair works at several houses that were being readied after waters receded. Electricians Ranganathan, 52, and his son Manikandan, 24, were moved by the visuals of the chaos that the flood caused in Kerala and decided to lend a helping hand. They offered their skills free for several days as the area struggled to recover from the devastation brought about by the recent flood. Ranganathan and Manikandan repaired the electric wiring and household equipment in 47 houses, staying on in a relief camp for two weeks and without accepting a single rupee for their work. Their journey itself had been rather long. The father and son arrived in Aranmula on a bike, via Thiruvananthapuram and Pathanamthitta, taking a circuitous route. Officials at Aranmula village office hosted them at the camp in the Mini Civil Station, where they slept on the floor like flood victims did, and shared the same food that was offered to the other inmates. The duo used to start work at 7 am at houses assigned by the panchayat and would return by nightfall. Aranmula Village Officer Anita Devi and panchayat members wanted to offer them some remuneration, but the men declined it. All that they accepted was an Aranmula mirror, the reputed traditional craft of the town. Tue, 11 Sep 2018 09:53:52 GMT Debris removal at Sabarimala going to be an uphill task Sabarimala: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the state government have a Herculean task at hand – restoration of the civic infrastructure and the reconstruction of the damaged road network leading to Pampa-Triveni in the foothills of Sabarimala. With just a little over two months left for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season, the civic authorities have to race against time to clean the Pampa Manalpuram and the bathing ghats, where the pilgrims congregate to have their customary holy dip, that are filled with slush and debris dumped by the floods. A major issue confronted by the authorities is the lack of space for dumping mounts of waste left behind by the devastating floods. The existing waste management system managed by the TDB is not sufficient to tackle the unexpected situation. Moreover, dumping of waste inside the reserve forests is against law. The officials of the Tata Project Limited, which has been entrusted with the task of managing the cleaning process in Sabarimala, visited the area the other day. The team was led by N Ramakrishna Raju, vice-president (engineering wing). The restoration of the footbridge across the Njunangar stream leading to river Pampa in the forest interiors of Appachimedu, which was washed away in the deluge, will prove to be another major challenge. As things stand, pilgrims will have to wade across the stream to reach Triveni. Since the holy hillock will witness a heavy influx of pilgrims, absence of at least a temporary bridge would affect crowd management during the 67-day annual event. Read More Pathanamthitta News | Plummeting Kallada river may turn brackish Tue, 11 Sep 2018 07:18:22 GMT Plummeting Kallada river may turn brackish Enathu: A dip in the post-flood water level of the Kallada river may result in the seepage of brackish water into it during high tide, experts warned. The water level in several wells on the river banks, too, have reportedly fallen at its several stretches here. The river, which was in spate last month amid heavy rain, has several irrigation projects on its banks. As of now these irrigation projects are unaffected, but it is likely that the saline water in the Ashtamudi Lake could seep into the river during high tide. The river had experienced such a phenomenon earlier. Water distributed through the Kadampanad freshwater distribution project was found saline before. Experts had suggested the building of a check-dam downstream the ghat at Bhagawati Temple to check the intrusion of saltwater as well as to protect the Munroe Island in the Ashtamudi Lake. Ecologists blame sand mining, which lowered the river's depth, for saltwater intrusion. Currently, water level has fallen considerably near where the well and pumping station of the Kadampanad water project are situated. The river has been even observed running eastward in the opposite direction during high tide, especially in summer. Kallada, which has a 121-km course along Kollam district in southern Kerala, empties into the Ashtamudi Lake after branching out near Parappar at Thenmala. Read more from Pathanamthitta Tue, 11 Sep 2018 09:20:00 GMT Konni people dig out flood marker from 1924 Konni: A stone column bearing the maximum water level from the devastating flood of 1924, Malayalam era 1099, has been discovered on the banks of Achankovilar River at Konni. People started looking for the column after last month's flood called into question Kerala's preparedness to deal with natural calamities. The August flood was the worst since 1924. The century-old flood has been the fodder of folklore but very few of its physical markers have survived across the state. The five-foot monolithic plaque found near the government lower primary school at Sanjayath bears the maximum flood level from 1924. The column was buried under a mount of mud, it was recovered during the construction of a road in the area. Konni panchayat vice president Praveen Plavilayil arranged an excavator to look for the lost monument. He said that the panchayat intended to keep it as a relic from the area's past. Some people have argued that the marker could be shifted to the proposed heritage museum in Konni, while the others want the marker to be preserved on its original location. Another marker was located opposite the house of one Aikkara Jayaprakash. The 71-year-old man said that he had heard about the flood from his late father, Krishna Panikker. He said that his house was submerged in the flood. The marker was installed by the road that was the main thoroughfare in the time of the kings. The plaque was eventually uprooted when a wider road was constructed. Mon, 10 Sep 2018 16:37:00 GMT How a preacher's foresight saved him, family in the two great floods Pathanamthitta: A few generations of a family here has survived both the great floods in 100 years – the one which occurred in Malayalam era ’99 as well as the present. What proved critical for its residents of the Moothampakkal House at Thuruthayi and other locals is its attic as it sheltered them from the rising floodwaters. In Malayalam Era 1099, equivalent to 1924 in the Gregorian calendar, the attic had safely sheltered the house owner Sadhu Kochukunju Upadesi, along with the 25 other families at Edayaranmula. Now, the third and fourth generations of Upadesi, known so as he was a gospel preacher, saved their lives by climbing up into the attic when the waters flooded the house in the August deluge. Aneesh Benjamin, belonging to the third generation after Upadesi, his mother Mercy, wife Reni, son Andrew and maternal aunt Joy Zachariah (88) were those who benefited from the attic during the latest flood. They spent nearly three-and-a-half days there before being rescued in a boat. All that the family had with them during the ordeal were a pot of drinking water, a packet of ‘kuzhalappam’ and some Bournvita. When Andrew got upset and asked father whether they would all die there, he was told that Upadesi had fasted at the same spot for 40 days. Living without food for a few days was nothing compared to that, Aneesh consoled his son. The family was finally shifted to the camp at Edayaranmula school on rescue boats. Aneesh and Reni teach at the same school. Later, after they returned to their house when the waters receded, Joy died. Upadesi had taught that evangelical work was not a means to earn a regular income, but was a mode of survival. After the flood of ’99, he raised the attic to six feet from the floor, foreseeing another similar calamity. This year, the flood waters had almost touched the attic, but the inmates were safe. However, the ‘Daivakarunya Hall’ where Upadesi conducted his prayers was submerged. After the tragedy of ’99, Upadesi had brought a boat to the house and kept it ready for use in an emergency. The boat is still there. It was in this attic that Upadesi had composed around 300 hymns and taught them to priests. Some of his notable songs include ‘Aswasame enikku ere thingeedunnu’, ‘Dukhathinte paanapathram karthavinte kayyil thannal’ and ‘Sadhuvenne kaividathe Nathan ennum nadatheedunnu’. Now Aneesh and family are singing paeans to the attic. Read more from Pathanamthitta Fri, 07 Sep 2018 06:10:34 GMT Floods destroy athlete’s hard-won achievements Pullad: Ananthu Vijayan overcame several hurdles in life with his achievements in sports. However, when the worst floods in a century engulfed his house, he was helpless. Ananthu’s house was mortgaged and his father was sick. But a resolute Ananthu ensured that the loan was paid back. The floods came two-and-a half months after he received the title deeds of the house. A swollen Pampa river submerged the house, Ananthu Nivas, at Ulloorchira. The roof was also damaged after a rescue boat rammed it. The boat had reached the spot to save the people trapped in a two-storey house nearby. When water began entering the house on August 15, Ananthu was away at the sports hostel in Vennikkulam. He rushed to the house and found that the water was knee-deep. Ananthu shifted his parents to a nearby relief camp. Though he tried to return to his house, the entire property had submerged by then. All that remained in his possession was the dress he wore. Ananthu gained access to his house only 16 days later. By that time, around 30 of his medals were swept away by the flood waters. They included the first state-level medal he won as an eighth standard student and six national medals. Mud had destroyed his certificates and the title deed of the house. Meanwhile, the sports hostel Ananthu stayed had also flooded , destroying his sports equipments and clothes. With athletic talent his only remaining asset, this promising athlete is staring at a hurdle which he does not know how to clear. Read more in Pathanamthitta Fri, 07 Sep 2018 01:49:05 GMT Boat abandoned by fishermen to turn flood memorial in Aranmula Kozhencherry: A damaged boat, abandoned by fishermen during the rescue mission in flood-ravaged Aranmula region in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district, will be turned into a memorial for the worst deluge Kerala witnessed in a century. The fishermen had left the boat near Punnamthottam Devi Temple as it developed cracks after hitting compound walls and trees. The boat was deployed to rescue people stranded at Mallappuzhassery and Aranmula areas. Aranmula MLA Veena George said several memorials were erected in the state for the deluge of 1924. “This boat would become a monument to remind future generations of the flood fury of 2018,” she said. The boat would be installed on a platform at a height till water level rose in the area, the MLA said. An appropriate site would be identified for the memorial on Kozhencherry–Chengannur road. The Public Works Department has already prepared an estimate for the project. The worst-ever floods in Kerala in August had claimed over 400 lives and destroyed property worth thousands of crores. Thousands of people are still stuck in flood relief camps as they lost their houses in the deluge. Fri, 07 Sep 2018 05:37:39 GMT District collector works incognito in Kerala flood relief camp Thiruvananthapuram: For ten days he worked in post-flood Kerala as a rehabilitation worker, but none quite knew that the young Malayali was a top bureaucrat from another part of the country. Kannan Gopinathan, who was active in the relief camps and collection centres in the state, is the district collector of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, a union territory in western India beyond the Deccan. The officer had first reached Thiruvananthapuram from Silvassa, which is his tiny administrative province sandwiched between Maharashtra and Gujarat, on August 26. That meant a journey of 1,830 km. From there, at the Kerala capital’s Nishagandhi auditorium that housed a collection centre, he took a state-run KSRTC bus northward to Pathanamthitta, not far from his native Puthuppally in adjoining Kottayam. At the headquarters of the semi-hilly district 100 km away from the state capital, Kannan reached the local collection centre. The camp coordinator welcomed him and said matter-of-factly: “Please keep your bag aside and start work at the earliest.” In no time, Kannan got busy with rehabilitation efforts with fellow volunteers. He, like the others, worked from day till sundown. At night, he would stay in a local lodge. It was a fresh chapter of gaining knowledge for the IAS officer, who was noticed for his educational work he had initially carried out in Aizawl as the district collector in the Northeastern hill state of Mizoram. It was in December last year that Kannan, an IAS officer of the 2011 batch, was posted as the collector of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. In fact, Kannan had met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on his day one in Kerala last month. That was to hand over Dadra and Nagar Haveli’s contribution of Rs 1 crore to the state hit by the calamity. Once that official mission was over, Kannan chose to plunge into manually doing relief work. He took personal leave, and engaged himself in helping people shattered by the deluge and landslides trigged by a week’s heavy rains. Eventually, when he reached the collection centre at Kochi, some of his fellow workers happened to know of the official identity of the youngster with them. For, at the collection centre at the KBPS Press of downtown Ernakulam, the local district collector Mohammed Y Safirulla recognised Kannan as a fellow professional. Today, Kannan, who is an alumnus of the Birla Institute of Technology in Mesra near Ranchi in Jharkhand, is back in Silvassa, back to his routine as the district collector of the 1961-established UT. Kannan had resigned from his job as a design engineer to prepare for the civil services examination and clear it, securing the 59th rank. An avid reader always, his optional subjects were sociology and public administration. Wed, 05 Sep 2018 07:16:36 GMT Floods bring precious soil to fields, farmers hope for bumper crop Pathanamthitta: Despite the destruction unleashed by the August deluge in the district, farmers in Pathanamthitta district hope to reap a bumper harvest next season as the mud deposited by the floods will turn their farmland fertile. The reason for their optimism is the information passed on by the agriculture department officials. The department is now spreading awareness among farmers to make them utilize the soil for agriculture. It is, in fact, a golden opportunity as this organic soil is formed after a long period of time, say the officials. According to the department, farmers should take steps to preserve this soil and make use of it. This mud increases the biotic components of the soil as well as retains the moisture content. Moreover, the presence of organic component ensures that the elements required for the healthy growth of plants are readily available. The agriculture department has appealed to farmers to use this soil to fill grow-bags and plant vegetable seeds. Necessary instructions have also been given in this regard to the three farms in the district – the Sugarcane Seed Farm at Pandalam and the Seed Farms at Adoor and Pullad, said principal agricultural officer M Preetha. Similar orders will be given to the Agro Service Centres at Vechoochira, Ranni and Konni. Tue, 04 Sep 2018 01:44:35 GMT 'Washed away' Triveni bridge found beneath rubble Sabarimala: The bridge across the Pamba river at Triveni, en route to the famed Sabarimala shrine, has been found buried under a mesh of soil, logs of wood, and large phalanx of roots. The Pamba had breached its banks in the devastating August floods. The water had displaced small structures and left a trail of damage on the banks. The salvage workers of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) could not locate the bridge and it was reported that the structure had been 'washed away.' As post-flood work progressed, the 'metallic pedestrian structure' showed up from under a mound of mud and debris. Workers took special care was taken to retrieve it. Reports said the structure had been dug out and 'retrieved.' The Pamba, Kerala's third-longest river flowing by its southeast, had changed its course on several stretches in the semi-hilly Pathanamthitta district during the August 15-22 deluge. Efforts were being made to ensure the 176-km river regained its original profile and course, which covers an area below the famed Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. The boulders and soil washed down by the river in spate had raised a new patch of land along the Pamba at Sabarimala. As the rubble gathered a height of 5.5 metre, the river diverted and assumed a new course. The altered bit of topography forced the authorities to infer that the floods had washed away the bridge and the point called Triveni (tri-junction or confluence of three rivers - Pamba, Kakki and Njunungar). Last week, amid a repair mission, five earth-movers were brought to the site and operated for three days. For, there was no way one could reach the other side of the river. Prior to the floods, the bridge stood ahead of the Triveni, where the Kakki river joins the Pamba. The Kakki river too brought down and deposited a huge mass of mud and stones. Today, the Pampa flows in between what were restaurants, hotels, public convenience complexes and dining halls of the pilgrim centre. The Pampa and the Kakki now meet further down the Triveni. Authorities managed to remove the soil between two pillars of the Triveni bridge to aid water in the Kakki river flow down seamlessly. Higher bridge likely A new bridge will come up at Triveni. The plan is to construct a bridge that can withstand flooding. The plan is to ensure connectivity between the fuel pump at Pamba and the Ganapati temple at the pilgrim site. The Tata group has already made a project assessment. The company will submit a report to the chief secretary. The engineering firm has been entrusted with rebuilding all the basic necessities that Sabarimala lost in the recent floods, sources said. Mon, 03 Sep 2018 05:17:16 GMT Repair Maniyar dam before next rainy season, expert team to govt Pathanamthitta: An expert team has urged the water resources department to repair the Maniyar dam before the northeast monsoon. Though the dam is safe for the time being, its condition can worsen if the damages are not attended to at the earliest, the chief engineer has warned. The team visited the dam on Saturday and submitted its report to the water resources minister soon after. The minister called for a meeting to review the findings and recommendations. Also read: Maniyar dam damaged in deluge, danger looms with next rain spell The dam’s trash rack, which prevents debris from entering, has moved and the protection walls of its bell mouth have collapsed, the review team reported. They wanted the government to restore the shutters and to repair the spillway and the guide wall. The left guide wall of the spillway has caved in, forming a 20-feet deep pit below it. Boulders have been dislocated from the top of the fourth spillway and are strewn in a 20-square feet area. The bogie wheels of the third and fourth shutters have been damaged. The retention walls on either side of the river have been damaged, the report added. The masonry gravity dam on the Kakkattar river is located at Maniyar, Pathanamthitta district. Read more: Latest Pathanamthitta news Sun, 02 Sep 2018 15:44:08 GMT LP school students set an example in relief work Vechoochira: A group of schoolchildren has been doing exemplary services here for the flood-affected, prompting elders to take the cue. They distributed relief material worth Rs 7 lakh over the past 10 days. What began as a ‘Nalla Paadam’ initiative by wards of the CMS lower primary school at Ennooramvayal here gathered momentum even as rains thickened and later water began to recede. Today, essential goods such as food, groceries, clothes, medicine and other daily-use items are reaching the needy. The students and teachers of the school continued with their good work even after the Onam holidays. The team managed to provide aid to relief centres at SCUP School in Cheruvazhakunthadam, YMCA Bhagavathikkunnu, Vaithala, MS School, ITI Chengannur, Pravinkoodu, Thalayar, Chanthankari, Podiyadi, Arayanjilimannu, Kurumbanmoozhi, Moolakayam and Kisumam in Pathanamthitta district and even in Changanassery, which falls under Kottayam district. It also supplied essential goods to a few houses in these areas. Further, at Ranni, Nalla Paadam volunteers held a day-long medical camp for immigrant labourers from other states.The team delivered essential goods to the remote Kurumbanmoozhi village by carrying them across forests as head-loads and then transporting them on rafts. PTA president Sreeja Biju led the parents’ initiative of cooking food and distributing them at several places in the area. Cleaning operations were taken up at the Pazhavangadi Krishi Bhavan at Ittiyappara, police aid post, offices of KSRTC station master and Agriculture Service Centre and the Government UP School at Pazhavangadi. The school had let its two buses for relief operation in the area. Nalla Paadam members Sonamol Siji, Ribecca Mariam, Ashq Rajesh and Albin Thomas led the activities locally. Malayala Manorama Nalla Paadam project aims at promoting social and cultural activities by schools and to channel the youth energy to constructive areas. The activities were spearheaded by a committee comprising Haritha Kerala mission district coordinator R Rajesh, Vechoochira Government Polytechnic College NSS coordinator Rafeeq Sirajuddin, CMS School former principal P T Mathew, PTA president Shinu Chacko, vice-president S Krishnakumar, Vechoochira Government Higher Secondary School teacher Jomon Thelliyil, BMC Hospital director Dr Manu Varghese, CSI Youth Wing secretary Jobin Thomas, Agriculture Service Centre secretary Shinu Malayil and Creative Youth Club Secretary M Ajmal. Fri, 31 Aug 2018 07:20:57 GMT Aranmula’s famed mirror makers stare at bleak future after flood Aranmula: The flash flood in Aranmula has taken its toll on the most celebrated product of the locality - the handmade metal-alloy mirror. The artisans rummaging through the muck left behind by the water could only pick a few of their creations from their devastated workplaces. Most of the metallurgists have lost their homes to the river that swelled for days. They also face a loss of livelihood as most of their finished products as well as raw materials have been washed away. As many as 22 units are engaged in the production of the ‘Aranmula Kannadi’. Of these, seven units at Aranmula, Malakkara, Kanjiraveli and Paramoottumpadi had been completely flooded. The others have also been damaged. The natural disasters came at the worst moment for the craftsmen, who had stepped up production to cash in on the Onam shopping. More than 300 mirrors have been lost from all the units. They had been made to orders from India and abroad on the occasion of Onam. Also washed away were thousands of moulds and raw materials including clay and charcoal. The equipment and furnaces have also been damaged. Together, the manufacturing units have incurred a loss of about Rs 1.5 crore, the artisans estimated. An association of artisans have petitioned the state government to compensate their losses and sent a memorandum to the central government to bail out the traditional sector, Vishwa Brahmana Aranmula Metal Mirror Nirman Society president K P Asokan and secretary P Gopakumar said. Wed, 29 Aug 2018 15:18:09 GMT Land erosion threatens houses on banks of Manimalayar Vennikulam: Many houses on the banks of the Manimalayar River are at grave risk owing to severe land erosion as waters gushed out of the dams upstream and subsequently flooded the areas far down in the recent natural disaster that struck most of Kerala. At places like Paduthodu Valankara Naduvilethumuri ghat and near Kavuginprayar Thrikkatil temple here, the river has pounded its banks and exposed the roots of the giant trees. Most of these areas falling within Pathanamthitta district were submerged in the flood waters in the August floods and experts say that this could have further loosened the soil triggering the sudden erosion of the river bank. Among those houses at an immediate risk are those of the likes of TR Vamadevan from Valankara. Vamadevan's house stands on a 4-cent plot that was granted by the government earlier. Apart from him nine other families were granted land in this area and four of them, including Vamadevan, had built their homes there. About 2 cents of Kavungumprayar Purushothaman Nair’s plot has already been washed away by the river. The residents say that it has become common during the monsoon seasons when the water level rises in the river. The people in the locality demand that their houses and property should be safeguarded by building stone walls or breakwaters on the river bank where land erosion is severe. Wed, 29 Aug 2018 03:33:37 GMT Kerala floods: A rescue act at knifepoint in Ranni People getting threatened at knifepoint is common in real life and someone being rescued at knifepoint, something seen only on sliver screen. Babu Namboodiri, native of Aythala in Ranni, had to, literally, draw a knife to guide some people back to life during the recent deluge that displaced nearly 14 lakh people and killed 230 in Kerala. It was a desperate act by rescuers, since people were reluctant to leave their houses despite water level rising menacingly. Babu and his friend M K Gopakumaran rescued some 100 people in Aythala area, the worst-affected in Ranni, in the wee hours of August 15. They used Babu's small fibre boat to move people to safer locations. Given the small size of Babu's boat, it was difficult to convince people to get on it. He threatened those who refused to take his helping hand. By the time he ended his operation, after two days, all the people in Aythala area was shifted to safe places. Surging waters came to the level of overhead electricity poles and had spared no house in the area. In fact, when floodwater came rushing in people were caught unaware. Most people thought that water wouldn't rise much. It took Babu a lot of coaxing and cajoling to get them on to his boat. Babu, who is a devaswom board employee, was on leave following the death of a relative. Once the rescue work was over, they started relief operations and distributed food to those who have been left behind in houses. They also went to the houses of undeserving people who took away food meant for the affected, took it back from them and distributed among the needy. Babu and Gopan, the two-man rescue army of Aythala, can be proud since their mission was a big success; no one died; no one even suffered any serious injury. If not for them, at least 60 people might have lost their lives, say villagers. Fri, 24 Aug 2018 02:03:11 GMT Child dies at Chengannur relief camp Chengannur: A two-and-a half-year-old girl has died at a relief camp at Thiruvanvandoor village in Chengannur taluk. Anavadya reportedly had fever when she arrived at the camp, which later turned into meningitis. Anavadya is the daughter of Sunil Kumar and Anupama of Thiruvanvandoor. Her funeral will be held on her house premises. Chengannur has been the worst-hit place in Kerala owing to recent flood. Latest reports suggest water has started receding from several areas of this place by the Pampa river which had swollen amid intense rains and subsequent release of water from a few dams upstream. Tue, 21 Aug 2018 07:29:44 GMT Close shave for family as Pampa flooded house Chengannur: Pradeep Kumar held his one-and-a-half year-old son high above the water as he and his family members spent three days and two nights in their flooded house. “It took three days for the rescue personnel to arrive,” recalls Pradeep, who belongs to Chakkittapadi at Malakkara. His mother Vijayakumari, wife Dhanya, sons Adwaith, 10, and Adik were trapped inside their home on the banks of river Pampa as flood waters gushed in on Wednesday. “By nightfall water reached up to my waist,” Pradeep recalls. Water reached up to the first floor by Thursday night. “It was pitch dark. I held Adik in my hand, above the waters. I was helpless, beyond words.” Water receded from the first floor by Friday morning. “Fishermen came in a boat by noon and took us out,” Pradeep reveals. “We were taken to the relief camp at the Christian College, Chengannur.” Pradeep, an NRI, had arrived in Kerala to finalise plans for the opening of his new shop in the Middle East. He could recover only his documents including the passport. “Lives were saved,” he says with great relief, though worried as to what the future holds. Sun, 19 Aug 2018 03:40:29 GMT Heavy discharge from dams adds to Central Travancore’s misery Pathanamthitta: The unprecedented flood situation in the Pampa river, the worst in nearly a century, was a result of the unusually high amount of rainfall in the catchment areas as well as the heavy discharge from the eight dams upstream that had dangerously breached their water levels. Massive landslides in hilly areas in the region induced by torrential rain also added to the flooding, wreaking havoc in many parts of Central Travancore. The opening of all the eight dams on the Pampa river - Kakki, Anathode, Moozhiyar, Kochupampa, Karikkayam, Allunkal, Maniyar, and Poonthenaruvi -and the increase in the water flow through the Achankovil river, are the major reasons attributed to the rising water levels at the three check-dams upstream of Triveni. The swirling waters from the dams as well as the intense rainfall in Pampa’s catchment area of 2,235 sq. km left the 176-km stretch along the riverbank heavily flooded. The rainfall in the Kakki dam area was 29 cm as recorded on August 14, while Peerumedu in Idukki received around 80 cm rain over the past week. A significant percentage of rainwater reached the river channel, causing the devastating flood. Landslips were reported in eight locations surrounding Chittar, Seethathode, and Sabarimala. The worst landslide occurred in Vayyattupuzha village in Ranni block, with the resultant deluge causing massive destruction in downstream areas. The situation in Pandalam on the MC Road turned grim overnight following a sudden surge in inflow from the swollen river Muttar which flows through the town. The last time Pandalam faced a similar situation was way back in 1992. Read more from Pathanamthitta Sat, 18 Aug 2018 07:01:18 GMT Family rescued from flooded house after plea on Facebook Live Ranni: A family in Ranni was rescued from a flooded house after one of them logged onto Facebook Live to send out an SOS message. Jeffy Jacob from Thottaman posted a distress video on Facebook Live on Wednesday morning after Ranni and surroundings were inundated overnight by the River Pampa. He was seen on the first floor of the house. Jeffy’s family and many of his neighbours were marooned in their houses after the water level rose in the river and its tributaries after midnight. Rescue workers in boats have relocated all of them to safety. The water level is alarmingly rising. The flash floods were caused by the opening of the shutters of the Anathode reservoir linked to the Sabarigiri hydroelectric project. The eastern stretches of the Pathanamthitta district, including Sabarimala, are still receiving heavy downpour. The Ranni town has been completely cut off. The Ranni town has been submerged. The bus stand, KSRTC station and the government hospital have been flooded. The Punaloor-Moovattupuzha state road and the Ranni bypass road have turned into rivers. Many of the houses and commercial establishments are under water. And the water keeps rising. Gracy Chuzhukunnil was electrocuted after water rushed into her house at Ittiyappara. Thu, 16 Aug 2018 04:52:43 GMT Frantic calls for help as Pamba breaches its banks Pathanamthitta: Several families in south-central Kerala are making frantic calls for help from rescue authorities and volunteers, failing which they try to contact even media houses on Thursday. “Rainwater is gushing into our second floor, please evacuate us somehow,” comes a call. Adds another: “We have old people with us. Some who are unwell.” A third call says they are in darkness as electricity lines have been snapped owing to the floods. “Please rush in earliest. Our mobile phones can die out any moment.” A chunk of such calls are coming from the belt along the Pampa river which has breached both sides amid the monsoon fury like never before in the past several decades. Many of the stranded suffer from hunger owing to shortage of stored food. Some are seeking refuge in even media houses after their near and dear as well as rescue operators failed to turn up. Quite a few, living in somewhat old houses, fear the possibility of the roof or walls caving in even if they are made of concrete. A chunk of such marooned houses are across the taluks of Ranni, Tiruvalla and Kozhancheri, where several families haven’t eaten for hours together. Some have fainted and taken ill. The fire force, police and disaster management teams are making efforts to access these houses and rescue its members. Overall, more than a 100 families are still marooned in the areas of Chakittapadi, Kozhipalam, Arattupuzha, Malakkara, Thuruthumala, Ayyankoyikkal, Vanchithara and Kulamakkuzhi. At the women’s hostel of the Cooperative Engineering College Hospital at Aranmula, several inmates are in no position to venture out. Two families are stranded on the top floor of the building that houses the Canara Bank at Aranmula’s Aikaramukku. The vicinity of Cherupuzhakkattu Devi temple has five families unable to move out owing to flood waters. No less than 35 families are trapped in Kariyilamukku, Pullad, Varayannur, Chathanpara and Ullurkavu under Koyipram panchayat. The Latin Catholic church at Maramon has reported a few families are stranded after they had assembled inside for a baptism ceremony. Most of them belong to Kaviyoor. At Aranmula and Cherukol, several families have been stranded on the top floor of their houses. In Cherukol, rescue operators have reached certain areas and are trying to save people stuck on the second floor, above the flood waters. Here, authorities said they might seek help from the army. Around 30 people in five houses behind the Thottapuzhassery panchayat office are stuck amid incessant rains, which have added to their misery amid total absence of rescue workers. Another five families are stranded around the Mullasery tank of Malapuzhasseri panchayat. Students in the hostel at Kozhipalam, too, find no way to escape. Anxious kin abroad Those working and living outside Kerala or the country are frequently calling families in their state to learn about the gravity of the situation. The state has a good share of old people, as the educated younger generation are either overseas or in other metros and cities upcountry. The latter hope that the senior members in their family, especially parents, will be aided by rescue workers who are in full swing in the state. Many such anxious people away from Kerala can only guess about the fate of their kin as rains, floods and wind have disrupted landline and cell-phones have conked out for want of timely battery recharge as power supply has went off in several areas. Thu, 16 Aug 2018 11:35:01 GMT Pampa flood: Pilgrims advised not to visit Sabarimala Sabarimala, Pathanamthitta: Ayyappa devotees have been advised by authorities not to visit the hill shrine in the coming days as Pampa River at the foothills is overflowing due to heavy rains and opening of dams upstream. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the shrine, district authorities and the police have issued alerts to devotees and decided to stop them at various points till the water level recedes. Large number of pilgrims are flocking to the famed Ayyappa temple as it will be opened for the niraputhari ritual and festivities of Chingam this week. The river, flowing on the foothills of Sabarimala, breached its banks at several places, submerging many shops, damaging buildings, flooding pathways and uprooting electric posts. Heavy rains in the catchment areas of the Sabarigiri hydroelectric project and opening of the shutters of the Pampa and Anathode dams caused overflowing of the river, authorities said. The shutters of Moozhiyar and Kakki, the other dams in Pathanamthitta districts, were also opened. Two bridges across the river at Triveni, which devotees use to cross to reach the shrine, were inundated, they said. "As the Pampa is overflowing and the bridges are submerged, pilgrims will be unable to cross them and reach Sabarimala," TDB president A Padmakumar said. "As a precautionary step and to avoid calamities, we request pilgrims to avoid travelling to the shrine till the water level dips," he said. The police said necessary alerts were being given to pilgrims, saying it would be difficult for them to trek to the shrine if the heavy rains continued. Barricades have been set up and ropes tied at Pampa to prevent people from travelling to the shrine,they said, adding that those who arrive there ignoring the alerts would be stopped and sent back. The Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple will be opened for the niraputhari pooja on Tuesday evening. The annual niraputhari ritual will be held on August 15. Mon, 13 Aug 2018 15:30:10 GMT Hospital ward to be named after singer Chitra's late daughter Chennai: One of the new wards at the St Gregorios International Cancer Centre at Parumala will be named after Nandana, the late daughter of renowned playback singer K S Chithra. Nandana had died at the age of 8 in a drowning accident in Dubai. Chitra had spearheaded a fund-garnering drive for the hospital located at Mannar in Pathanamthitta district. Chitra's fans in Bengaluru, along with one Ganesh Babu of Avadi, near Chennai, had collected the funds after they noticed a post of the singer on Facebook about the hospital. Orthodox church supreme head Catholicose His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose, II, announced he visited the celebrity to thank her for the money raised and donated to the facility by her fans on her initiative. The Catholicose was accompanied by Orthodox church diocese secretary Fr Jiji Mathew Vakathanam and Cherian Thomas. The Cancer Centre opened in 2016. Chitra had donated her gold ring once she knew about it and later conducted a fund-raising musical night for it. Mon, 06 Aug 2018 04:25:45 GMT KSRTC 'Sundari' that turns heads of many riders! Pathanamthitta: The public transport service of the KSRTC is indispensable for may commuters across Kerala, despite ample services of private ones. The KSRTC services are both hailed and criticised in equal measure. One such bus is so popular among its commuters it is dubbed as ‘Sundari’, meaning the pretty one, as if it is a film actress or beauty queen. The bus got its pet name thanks to its unusually neat and clean state. Sundari, which bears the bus number RSK 440 and registration no: KL-15 9913), conducts services on the Thiruvalla–Ranni route. KSRTC, which is often in the news for the wrong seasons, can be proud of this bus. It has achieved a record daily collection for an ordinary service – Rs 20,021. The KSRTC managing director had once presented an award for the bus on this achievement. The bus plies on four routes – Ranni, Thiruvalla, Chengannur and Changanassery. It offers facilities unimaginable for a government bus like music system and drinking water. It is thoroughly cleaned every morning before the first service of the day. On festival days, the bus is decked up in tune with the occasion. The arrangements are all done by the passengers, most of them regular commuters. The average daily collection of the bus is Rs 12,000–13,000. This is admirable, considering the fact the routes the bus takes witness severe competition between private buses. That passengers wait for ‘Sundari’ to arrive ignoring numerous private buses passing that way is its biggest endorsement. Wed, 01 Aug 2018 05:13:24 GMT Deepthi School wins Nallapadam prize Adoor, Pathanamthitta: Manakkala Deepthi Special School received the Nallapadam prize amid much cheer. The school won the prize for its creditable social service. Chittayam Gopakumar MLA presented the third prize trophy for last year along with a cheque for Rs 10,000 to headmistress Dr Susan Mathew, as students and teachers applauded. A Rs 5,000 cheque for co-ordinators was received by Libu Thomas and M R Dhanya. Administrator Dr Shibu Thomas presided over the function. Erath panchayat member Rosamma Daniel, Dr Mathew C. Varghese, Dr Vijayanath, PTA president Riji Thulaseedharan, Pastor Prince Koshy, Dr Susan Mathew and Nallapadam district co-ordinator Naseeb Karattil spoke. Nallapadam is a Malayalam Manorama project that aims at nurturing compassion and service mentality among the student community. Excellent work • Occupational training along with studies for the disabled above 18 • Job training for mothers • Sewing machines for disabled mothers • Adoption of a poor family • Fund-raising under “A rupee for us” scheme and utilising it for service • Handing over of a wheel chair to a disabled girl • Assistance for two children who are unable to walk • Medical assistance for those affected by kidney and cardiac ailments • Campaign against social ostracisation Read more: Latest Pathanamthitta news Sat, 28 Jul 2018 10:32:23 GMT Video hints elephant calf died after harsh handling Pathanamthitta: The death of an elephant calf that got separated from its herd in Moozhiyar forest in Pathanamthitta district had become news recently. The visuals that are doing the rounds of social media have opened up a new debate on its death. The images suggest that the calf died due to the unscientific manner in which it was dealt with by its rescuers and not due to insufficient nutrition as was reported earlier. Social media users hinted that the healthy calf could have died after it was tied on the neck with a rope and dragged. The video footage that is circulating on social media now strengthens this view. The mental shock of getting separated from the herd and the wrong approach of the untrained forest officers might have scared the calf, they claimed. The calf was first spotted near the lookout point at Moozhiyar-Kakki road on last Wednesday morning. It had injury marks on its right leg and face. Though forest officials reached the spot, the calf withdrew into the forest by afternoon. Since then, the calf was seen several times on the Moozhiyar-Kakki road. It tried to scare away people and motorists. After this, the calf was spotted in a weak condition at Aranamudi near Kakki on Monday evening after a search conducted by the forest department officials from Kochukoyikkal and Pachakanam stations. It died while it was being treated in the presence of Konni forest veterinary surgeon Dr Jayakumar in a hall next to the Goodrikkal range office on Monday night. Since there was water in its lungs, the calf was not in a position to consume milk. Officials admitted that though they tried to provide warmth and drip, the calf could not be saved. Since it got separated from the herd, the female calf that was about a year old was in a bad condition. Lack of milk resulted in loss of immunity, said Dr Jayakumar. The forest officials believe that had it been provided treatment at the right time, the calf could have been saved as it was in good health when it was first spotted. They now regret the decision to leave it back to the forest as the herd generally doesn't take back those that are separated. Even then, the decision to capture the calf and take it to Konni was taken days later. By then its health had deteriorated further. The carcass was buried after postmortem. Fri, 20 Jul 2018 11:04:25 GMT Stranded calf elephant dies despite rescue bid Pathanamthitta: A stranded calf elephant, which had strayed onto the Moozhiyar-Gavi road here on June 11, died. It had become weak as it couldn't drink milk owing to water in its lungs. Last week the calf had strolled down the road and caused a bit of panic among motorists. It is believed that the baby elephant was washed away by the flood waters in Sayippunkuzhi lake and got lost from a herd. It was caught and taken back to the forest by officials of the Goodrical Forest Range after being alerted by locals and tribals. As the playful elephant was again found on the road two days later, the forest department officials took it into custody. It was being treated for the injuries on its leg when it passed away. Often wild animals, including elephants, perish in monsoon as forests get flooded. Read more news from Districts Wed, 18 Jul 2018 06:07:23 GMT Western areas of Pathanamthitta in the grip of severe floods Pathanamthitta: The flood waters have receded in the eastern parts of the district, but the areas in the western side are now in the grip of severe water logging. Upper Kuttanad is also facing flooding. Life of people in these areas has turned hell. With water level steadily rising in Upper Kuttanad, the authorities have shifted people in the affected areas to relief camps. As many as 74 camps have been opened so far. With most of the roads under water, transportation has come to a halt. Almost all the rivers in the district, including Pamba, Manimala, Kallar and Kakkad, have breached their banks. Water level has risen dangerously in Achenkovil River also. Meanwhile, in Ranni taluk, flood waters have receded at many places. The shops on the banks of the Pamba River in Sabarimala which were flooded are now free of the water. Floods have withdrawn from Arayanjalimon and Kurambanmoozhi crossways. At Peringara, Niranam and Nedumbram in Upper Kuttanad, all the low-lying areas are inundated. However, the most severely affected area in the district is the Thiruvalla taluk. Niranam, Karakkal, Swamipalam, Peringara, Mepral, Nedumbram and Chathengeri are flooded. As many as 55 relief camps were opened in these areas till 4 pm on Tuesday. But the figure rose to 64 by 7 pm. Now 3,418 people belonging to 1,201 families have reached the camps. In the taluk, 48 houses have been fully damaged due to the floods. The Mepral area is entirely cut off from other places. Transportation affected The T K Road is submerged at Eraviperur, Nellad and Padathupalam. Similar is the situation at Thirumoolapuram on M C Road and Pulikeezhu junction on Thiruvalla-Kayamkulam Road. Vehicular traffic is hit on Thiruvalla-Ambalapuzha Road due to water logging at Nedumbram market. The Edathua-Harippad Road via Veeyapuram and the Niranam-Harippad Road are fully inundated. Several panchayat roads at Mepral, Niranam, Peringara and Nedumbram are flooded. Bus services have been cancelled to Mepral. KSRTC buses to Harippad via Chathangeri, Edathua and Niranam are not running. Situation in eastern areas The flood waters that receded from the eastern parts of the district have reached the low-lying areas like Aranmula, Kidangannur, Thottapuzhasseri, Koyipram and Arattupuzha, making life difficult for the local people. Traffic has been affected due to flooding at Aranmula Sathrampadikkal on Kozhencheri-Chengannur Road. Mallappalli-Anikode Road, Kottayam-Kozhencheri Road are also affected. Roads at Erumakad and Ezhikad are also submerged. Flood waters have partially submerged 25 houses at Ezhikode colony in Kidangannur village. A relief camp was opened here. Among those who visited the flood affected areas include minister Mathew T Thomas, Veena George MLA and district collector P B Nooh. Control rooms opened 24 X 7 control rooms are functioning at the Collectorate and all taluks. Their phone numbers are, Collectorate – 0468 2322515, 2222515 Taluk offices: Adoor – 04734 224826, 9447034826 Kozhencheri – 0468 2222221, 9447712221 Ranni – 04735 227442, 9447049214 Thiruvalla – 0469 2601303, 9447059203 Mallappalli – 0469 2682293, 9447014293 Konni – 0468 2240087, 8547618430 Rain havoc pictures from across Kerala: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 17:01:21 GMT TDB projects in Sabarimala on track, says minister Kadakampally Sabarimala: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) is working hard to shed the tag of a delayed starter, Kerala devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran has said. The state was taking steps to complete the Sabarimala development plan announced under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme (SDS) of the Centre and other projects of the state government ahead of the next pilgrim season, he said. Kadakampally made the statement while visiting the area identified at Pampa for the Rs 100-crore development works under the SDS. Under SDS, the traditional path from Pampa to Marakoottam will be improved at a cost of Rs 16.5 crore. Stones will be paved on the path making it more pilgrim friendly. A duct will be created on one side to lay water lines and cables. A shelter will also be built on the banks of the Pampa. The Kerala government expects to complete a shelter before the pilgrim season begins. The High-Power Committee (HPC) for implementation of the Sabarimala Master Plan held a meeting in Kochi to discuss the progress of projects and the newly allotted schemes, in the presence of union minister of state for tourism Alphons Kannanthanam. The work of Punyadarshanam Complex, foundation stone for which was laid by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan during his 2017 Sannidhanam visit, will start ahead of the pilgrim season. "The delay was caused due to a dispute between the devaswom and the forest department. A joint survey verified that the area identified for the construction is owned by devaswom board," said Kadakampally Surendran. Tue, 17 Jul 2018 16:07:19 GMT Ranni taluk marooned as rivers breach banks Ranni: Incessant downpour has almost submerged the entire Ranni taluk in Pathanamthitta district as the Pampa, Kallar and Kakkattar rivers are overflowing after incessant rain on Sunday night. All low-lying areas along the shores of the three rivers are under water. Karumbanmoozhi and Arayanjilimon areas have been isolated as water filled up the causeway. Fortunately, loss was limited as traders shifted goods in anticipation of floods earlier. The Karumbanmoozhi, Arayanjilimon, and Mukkam causeways in Pampa river are under water. Karumbanmoozhi and Manakkayam have been marooned. In Arayanjilimon, however, people are able to walk through the hanging bridge. Traffic has been affected as village roads got inundated as even local streams are also overflowing. Traffic has been crippled on the Punalur-Muvattupuzha road as the Chethonkara area got inundated. Traffic was hit in several other places like Thondikkayam in Maniyar-Mampara road, Neduman in Madhathumoozhi-Puthukada road, Kuthukallungalpadi-Mandiram Thiruvabharana route, Kalayilpadi in Cherukolpuzha-Ranni road, Pulloli in Chettimukku-Valiyakav road and Eettichuvadu. Nearly 100 shops beside Ittiyappara bus stand were flooded. The Pettah market is waterlogged. River water has touched Ranni-Vennikulam road, flowing through Pettah Upasanakadav road. Five families shifted to safety from Upasanakadav on the shores of Pampa. Crops are entirely submerged on the river shores. Plantain, tapioca farms etc have been inundated. Farmers are tense because the crops will be destroyed if water stays on for more than two days. As water levels rose, several wood pieces came floating in Pampa. People were seen picking them up, including precious teak pieces. Rain-hit Pathanamthitta | In Pictures Read more: Latest Pathanamthitta news Tue, 17 Jul 2018 12:27:56 GMT