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Briefly

Foreign trade policy hailed

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM SEPT. 2. The Thiruvananthapuram Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the new foreign trade policy announced by the Centre. In a statement here today, the Chamber said it would enable the export sector of the State to make big achievements. It welcomed in particular the importance the policy gave for export of agricultural produce, the setting up of free trade zones by foreign investors and the setting up of special zones by foreign companies. The Chamber appreciated the support that the policy announced for export of fruits, vegetables, flowers and minor forest produce, for the handloom sector in Kannur and for the marine products processing sector in Aroor. The exemption for export units from service tax and exporters with a revenue of up to Rs. 5 crores from bank guarantee would also promote the sector's growth, it said.

RSP warns of stir

The general secretary of the RSP, K. Pankajakshan, has protested against the removal of port restrictions on the import of rubber and the reduction of interest on the employees' provident fund. Mr. Pankajakshan, who was inaugurating the 31st State conference of the All Kerala Plantation Labour Union at Mundakkayam today, said that while the former adversely affected farmers, the latter affected the workers. He warned of a united struggle by the farmers and the workers against the Central and the State Governments if these decisions were not reversed. The meeting re-elected him as the president of the organisation. It also elected T.J. Chandrachoodan as the working president and K.K. Neelambaran as general secretary.

`Review change in train timings'

The NGO Association has come out against the changes made in the departure time from Thiruvananthapuram of the express trains to Mumbai and Bangalore. Its president, Kampara Narayanan, said in a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, that it would adversely affect Government employees who commute daily from Nagercoil to Thiruvananthapuram and from there to Kottayam. He urged the Chief Minister to take up with the Railway Minister the restoration of the old timings and halts of these trains.

Two berths sought for Dalits

The Kerala Dalit Panthers has demanded two berths for Dalits in the new Ministry. The State secretariat of the organisation said today that Dalits were not given a fair deal by either the UDF or the LDF in the last 18 Ministries. The political leaders who came up from these sections were either given unimportant portfolios or confined to the Department for the Welfare of the Scheduled Communities. They had succeeded in becoming the Chief Minister and in holding key portfolios like Finance, Home, Industries and Education in the other States which were ruled by the Congress such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

NCC naval unit wins prize

The 1 (Kerala) Naval Unit NCC bagged the overall championship in the All Kerala NCC Competition for the Education Minister's Banner, which concluded in Kollam today. The unit also won the gold medal for pulling, sailing and line area competition and the silver medal for cultural events. Teams representing all the five NCC Groups in the State participated in the 12-day Pre-Nausainik Competition. The Thiruvananthapuram NCC Group Commander, Col. V.R.R. Pillai, felicitated the unit, which is led by Lt. Commander N. Prem Kumar.

AI steps to clear rush

Air-India has made arrangements to provide 1,600 additional seats from the three airports in the State to Dubai up to September 7 to clear the heavy rush of those returning after Onam. A release from the airline said efforts were also on to provide extra seats and flights to Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The additional seats are over and above the daily scheduled flights from Thiruvananthapuram, Nedumbassery and Kozhikode airports to Dubai.

Stoppage for Kerala Express

The 2625/2626 Thiruvananthapuram-New Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram Kerala Express will stop at Ernakulam Town railway station for two minutes till October 10, according to a railway press release.

FAS drama awards announced

KOLLAM Sept. 2. `Ammathottil', staged by the Thiruvananthapuram Sopanam Theatres, and `Indraneelam' by Geetha Communications have been selected for the Kollam Fine Arts Society (FAS) Drama Awards. This was announced at a press conference here today by the FAS secretary, Palazhi Bhaskaran. Thombil Rajashekaran is the best actor for his role in `Indraneelam' and Sethulakshmi the best actress for her role in `Dravidvritham'. Francis T. Mavelikara has been adjudged the best script writer and Meenambalam Santosh the best director for the drama `Napoleon'. Chathannur Mohan wins the award for best lyricist. The FAS has also decided to honour the noted dramatist, Kavalam Narayana Panicker, with a special award for his contributions to Malayalam theatre. He will be honoured at the award distribution function to be held at the Sopanam Auditorium here on September 12. The film actor, Bharat Gopi, will give away the awards.

Census of mosques

KOZHIKODE Sept. 2. A census of mosques in the State is in the process of being compiled under the aegis of the State Census Directorate, the Census Operations Director, Sheela Thomas, said. The data collection will commence by the end of September. A zonal meeting held at the Collectorate here today as a prelude to the initiative was presided over by the District Collector, Rachna Shah.

Ms. Sheela said a census of Christian churches too would be carried out and a booklet published. A booklet on details of temples has already been released, she added.

Prisoner escapes from custody

KANNUR SEPT. 2. A life sentence prisoner in the Central Jail here who had been absconding after his release on parole escaped when he was brought here today by two Karnataka police personnel to hand him over to the jail authorities.

According to the police, K. Ravishankar Sharma, hailing from Karnataka, who had been sentenced to life term in a murder case by the District and Sessions Court at Kanhangad in 1995, gave a slip to the police personnel accompanying him all the way from Madikkeri in Kodagu district while they were having their lunch in a restaurant here at 12-45 p.m. He escaped after the handcuff was unlocked from his right hand to enable him to take meals.

The police said that the Karnataka police had found that Sharma was undergoing a three-month prison term in Kushalnagar in connection with another case registered by the Kushalnagar police after it was alerted by the police and jail authorities here following his failure to return to jail after his parole period was over.

Women's panel seeks law for emigrants

THRISSUR SEPT. 2. The Women's Commission Chairperson, M. Kamalam, has demanded enactment of separate law for the protection of women working abroad.

During a sitting held here today the Chairperson said that if men were repeatedly absenting from DNA tests, then the Commission would have to assume that there were grounds in the allegations of paternity against them. Among the 64 cases considered by the Commission today 48 were disposed of while 14 were deferred for another date.

The Commission also received 50 new complaints today and among them 12 were related to dowry disputes.

Boat race at Kottappuram

Kochi Sept. 2. A boat race will be organised at the KottapPuram backwaters near Kodungalloor on September 5.The race is being organised by the Kottappuram Boat Club. Office-bearers of the club said here today that the boat race would be inaugurated by the former Minister, M.A. Kuttappan. Umesh Challiyil, MLA, would preside over the function.

Temple forum

State meet

ALAPPUZHA SEPT. 2. The 38th State conference of the Kerala Kshetra Samrakshana Samithy would be held at the Thiruvambady High School, here on October 30 and 31, the samithy president, K. Balakrishna Warrier, has said. A meeting would be held at the school on September 5 to form a reception committee for the conference.

Study group formed

KOLLAM SepT. 2. A study group aimed at conducting research and spreading the ancient history of Christians in Kollam has been constituted. The group, Christian Council for Historical Research, Kollam, will conduct seminars, debates, and exhibitions and publish study reports as part of the activities planned. The Kollam Bishop, Stanley Roman, is the patron of the council. The other office bearers are P. Jacob, president, Francis Thangasseri, vice president, Johnson P. Kailian, secretary, Jose Nelson, joint secretary and F.Antony, treasurer.

Ghazal nite

The Bank Employees Entertainment Society (BEES), Kollam, is organising a ghazal programme by Umbayee. The programme will be held at the Sopanam Kala Kendram here at 5.30 p.m. on September 4 and is being organised as part of the 24th anniversary celebrations of BEES.

Boat race at

Kottappuram

Kochi Sept. 2. A boat race will be organised at the Kottappuram backwaters near Kodungalloor on September 5.The race is being organised by the Kottappuram Boat Club. Office-bearers of the club said here today that the boat race would be inaugurated by the former Minister, M.A. Kuttappan. Umesh Challiyil, MLA, would preside over the function.

State meet

ALAPPUZHA SEPT. 2. The 38th State conference of the Kerala Kshetra Samrakshana Samithy would be held at the Thiruvambady High School, here on October 30 and 31, the samithy president, K. Balakrishna Warrier, has said. A meeting would be held at the school on September 5 to form a reception committee for the conference.

Law sought

THRISSUR SEPT. 2. The Women's Commission Chairperson, M. Kamalam, has demanded enactment of separate law for the protection of women working abroad. During a sitting held here today the Chairperson also said that if men were repeatedly absenting from DNA tests, then the Commission would have to assume that there were grounds in the allegations of paternity against them. Among the 64 cases considered by the Commission today 48 were disposed of while 14 were deferred for another date. The Commission also received 50 new complaints today and among them 12 were related to dowry disputes.

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