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The Government has declared 11 districts as completely drought-affected and the remaining three districts as partially drought-affected. The fully drought-affected districts are Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad, Palakkad, Kannur and Kasaragod.
Several villages in the remaining three districts of Kollam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam have also been declared as drought-affected.
Treasury restrictions lifted
Treasury restrictions are being lifted partially from tomorrow and fully from March 24. The Finance Minister, K. Sankaranarayanan, today said that it would be possible to draw stipend, allowances and scholarships of students belonging to the Scheduled Communities, and funds sanctioned to the departments subject to the monthly ceiling from tomorrow. From March 18, the drawing of the local bodies plan PD cheques, electric and water charges, service postage, the full expense of the police and the Fire Force and the food expenditure of hospitals, prisons and zoos would be allowed. All the restrictions would be lifted from March 24.
Record for TTP
The Travancore Titanium Products (TTP), the State Government-owned public sector unit, will achieve an all-time high annual production of over 16,000 MT of titanium dioxide pigment this year. It crossed the existing annual production record of 15,241 MT attained in 1999-2000 today. The first sack of pigment after crossing the record was filled by the chairman of the company, K. Mohandas, at a function held on the factory premises. The Managing Director, Eapen Joseph, the Director, K. J. Raju, the general manager, A. M. Bhaskaran, trade union leaders and employees were also present. The company is poised to set an all-time record in sales and turnover also this year. The sales are expected to cross the 17,500 MT mark, the existing record being 15,041 MT also achieved in 1999-2000. The turnover is set to cross the Rs. 122 crores mark and the profit would touch Rs 10 crores.
Concern over vacant posts
The Kerala Revenue Department Staff Association has expressed concern over the large number of posts of Tahsildars that are remaining vacant. Its general secretary, C. R. Jose Prakash, said in a statement today that it was affecting major works such as water supply. It was the Revenue Department that was handling work such as the inclusion of names in voters' lists and the issue of voter identity-cards. Inspite of it, the task of supplying water had also been handed over to it. The Tahsildars were supposed to lead these works. Unfortunately 68 posts were lying vacant, especially in the districts of Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha. There was no list approved by the Departmental Promotion Committee for making promotions to these posts. The Chief Minister had the authority to promote senior personnel to these posts in times of emergency. He asked the Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, and the Revenue Minister, K.M. Mani, to do so taking into consideration the importance of the election-related work and water supply to drought-affected places.
Bank branch opened
The Federal Bank proposes to take modern banking facilities to the rural areas. This was stated by the chairman of the bank, K. P. Padmakumar, while presiding over the function at which a fully computerised branch with ATM facility of the bank was inaugurated at Pappanamcode in Thiruvananthapuram today by N. Shakthan Nadar, MLA. He said that hi-tech facilities that were being made available to rural areas were Internet, mobile banking, `anywhere banking', ATM services and global credit card.
Army recruitment result
The result of the common entrance examination held at the Branch Recruiting Office (BRO), Thiruvananthapuram on February 29 has been published. Some 101 candidates have been provisionally selected. More details can be had from the BRO.
Federation opposes ban
The State coordination committee of the Headload, Construction, Artisans Federation has opposed the move to ban sand-mining altogether in five rivers. Its convener, K. M. Sudhakaran, said in a statement today that such a ban would only help the sand mafia. He felt that the regulation of sand-mining was the need of the hour. Unauthorised sand-mining should be stopped. He wanted the loopholes in the law to be plugged and workers representatives to be included in the committees meant for regulating sand-mining.
Plea to file contempt case
The Kerala High Court Advocates' Association today requested the Acting Chief Justice of Kerala, N. K. Sodhi, to initiate contempt of court proceedings against B.N. Kirpal, former Chief Justice, for his statements on a recent High Court interim order in the Coca-cola case. A resolution adopted by the Association, while condemning the statement, said that it amounted to interference in the judicial process.
Assistance for crop loss
The District Collector, Sanjeev Kaushik, has said that Rs.6.5 crores was distributed to farmers in the district as compensation for loss of crop. He said that another Rs.5 crores would be required to pay compensation to farmers who had lost their crop. He said that 400 borewells were dug and 700 water pump sets repaired as part of drought relief measures. More than 350 ponds were conserved under the scheme, he said.
Melsanthi of Guruvayur temple
Koottanad Thekke Vavannoor Pottakkuzhi Manayil Divakaran Namboodiri, 43, has been selected as the new Melsanthi of the Sreekrishna Temple at Guruvayur, near here. Divakaran Namboodiri, brother of the present Melsanti, Narayanan Namboodiri, was selected by draw of lots.
Man who evaded arrest for six years held
The CBI today arrested a person who had been evading arrest for six years in connection with a purchase scam worth over Rs. 20 lakhs in the Indian Oil Corporation. B.K. Menon was picked up from Thiruvananthpuram in Kerala, CBI sources said here. Menon was working as a Deputy Manager (Systems) in Indian Oil Corporation in Kolkata in 1992-93. He, along with another official, allegedly cheated IOC to the tune of Rs. 22 lakhs by colluding with some suppliers of UPS systems, who were paid the money even though they never delivered the equipment. He had been declared a proclaimed offender by a Special Judge in Kolkata in 1999, the sources said._ PTI
Pensioners' State meet
. The 12th annual State meeting of the Kerala State Service Pensioners' Union (KSSPU) will be held in Pathanamthitta from May 17 to 19, according to the union district president, K.K.Cherian.
NGO Union office-bearers
K.M. Ravi and P.R. Suresh have been elected the president and secreatry of the Kerala NGO Union district committee, according to an official release of the union here today. O.M. Babu and P.V. Sundaresan were elected vice-presidents while A.C. Surendran Pillai is the new treasurer.
. The High Court Judge, Justice K.A. Abdul Ghafoor, will inaugurate a legal workshop at Chemanthur, near Punalur, on March 20. The workshop is jointly organised by the Pathanapuram Taluk Legal Service Committee and the Elikode Pothujanavakasha Upabokritha Samithy. The workshop would comprise classes on human rights protection laws, the Panchayati Raj laws and the Consumer Protection Act.
Consumer Day observed
The Kerala State Consumer Protection Forum organised a seminar and a quiz competition for students here on the World Consumer Day. The Kozhikode District Consumer Protection Committee organised a meeting at the Town Hall here today to deliberate on safety of food items, law relating to weights, among others. The committee president, Kappil V. Sukumaran, and the general secretary, V. Raghavan Nair, among others participated.
Gold ornaments weighing 90 sovereigns were stolen from the house of Vadakkekara Muhammed Kunhi in Bevinja near here on Sunday night. The police said the thief entered the house by removing the roof tiles. Since the key of the almirah, in which the ornaments were kept, was placed on its top itself, the theft became easy, the police said. Recently 120 sovereigns of gold were stolen from a house on the Periya Road in Pallikkara near here.
The Superintendent of Police, P. Vijayan, today inaugurated a police control room in the district. A Sub-Inspector will be in charge of the control room, which will function round-the-clock. The telephone number of the control room is 100.
The former president of the Kasaragod district panchayat and IUML leader, C. Ahemd Kunhi, has joined the CPI(M). He was suspended from the IUML for anti-party activities. The CPI(M) leader, C. H. Kunhambu, gave the party membership at an election convention of the CPI(M) held in Manjeswaram on Sunday evening.
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