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Man killed in lightning in Kochi

The Hindu 22 May 2024 10:06 pm

Heavy downpour throws life out of gear in Kochi

Low-lying areas flooded; Edappally-Palarivattom stretch witnesses serpentine queue of vehicles; IMD scales up orange alert for Ernakulam district to red along with Alappuzha and Kottayam districts

The Hindu 22 May 2024 10:02 pm

Study reveals surging confidence in financial well-being

Hyderabad/New Delhi: Home Credit India (HCIN), a local arm of the leading global consumer finance provider, released the second edition of its in-house annual consumer survey The Great Indian Wallet Study: Consumer behaviour towards key financial aspects. The Great Indian Wallet study was conducted across 17 cities including Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Lucknow, Jaipur, Bhopal, Patna, Ranchi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Ludhiana and Kochi. The sample size was approx. 2500 in the age group of 18-55 years, with an annual income between Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs. Speaking on the findings, Ashish Tiwari, Chief Marketing Officer, Home Credit India, said: The Great Indian Wallet study serves as our compass, guiding us through the intricate landscape of consumer financial behaviour each year. By delving into the underlying behavioural trends, we gain valuable insights into household financial stability and the potential risks associated with technology in financial transactions. This years study reflects an upswing in the overall Financial Well-Being among urban and semi-urban consumers due to the strong economic growth, providing a clear insight into consumer sentiments, spending patterns, and saving habits among various demographics and segments. As per The Great Indian Wallet study, the Financial Well-Being Index among urban and semi-urban consumers has increased over last year, both in terms of current status and future perception. 52% of the consumers said that their income increased in the current year over last year, while 74% of consumers expects their income to increase by the coming year. About two-thirds claim that they would be able to save more (66%) and invest more (66%) in the coming year. This buoyancy in consumer sentiment is fuelled by the upward growth trajectory in the economy, an increase in earning capacity, and a positive perception of income growth. Region wise, in 2024, Hyderabad sees a rise in the average personal monthly income to 44k from 42k in 2023, with 68% of respondents reporting increased savings. However, fixed monthly expenses also escalated to 24k from 19k in 2023. Hyderabad retains its status as the best city for urban lower-middle-class living in India for the second consecutive year. Grocery and rent remain primary monthly expenses, comprising 21% each, followed by children's education at 17%. Discretionary spending trends reveal a preference for local travel and sightseeing (35%) and dining out (28%). Over the last six months, 57% indulged in purchasing clothing and accessories. Hyderabad's significant contribution to household expenses (79%) underscores its financial significance among metros, surpassing even Mumbai's (75%). 41% expressed awareness of online financial frauds, with 27% falling victim to such online scams. Interest in financial services like 'Credit on UPI' remains at 16%, though 87% assert they would discontinue using UPI if it incurs charges. Meanwhile, on national level, the study further shows that the average of Personal Monthly Income in 2024 stands at 35k for Metros and 32k for Tier 1 & 2 cities, showing an increase from 33k (Metros), 30k (Tier 1), and 27k (Tier 2) in 2023. Among Metros and Tier 1 cities, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Pune emerged as pivotal hubs, offering newer and better prospects for consumers seeking advancement. These cities witness rise in income levels, with Bangalore and Hyderabad leading with incomes 15% and 33% higher than the national average, respectively. The study also provides an overview of the income and expenses among lower-middle-class individuals in 2024. On average, the personal monthly income of lower-middle-class individuals is around 33K, while monthly expenses stand at 19K in 2024. The growth in income over the past year has kept pace with the increase in expenses. In terms of Wallet Share, the study revealed that Grocery (26%) and Rent (21%) continues to be the primary expenses dominating the wallet share of the average lower-middle-class Indian. This is followed by Commute (19%), Childrens Education (15%), Medical Expenses (7%), Electricity Bills (6%), Cooking Gas (4%), and Mobile Bills (2%). As for Discretionary Spends, distinct spending patterns among different demographics could be seen. Chennai leads in local travel/sightseeing (59%), eating outside (54%) and watching movies outside (55%) when compared to other metros. Lucknow, on the other hand, is the lowest spender on local travel/sightseeing (17%) and eating outside (14%). Chennai also pays the highest rent (29%), while Kolkata and Jaipur pay the lowest (15%). Ahmedabad and Dehradun spend the least on fitness (1%). Bengaluru & Kochi spends the most on childrens education (23%). Dehradun tops in medical expenses (13%) but spends the least on childrens education (10%). The study also indicates that in the last six months, almost 60% of people had purchased fashion products like apparels and accessories, with Gen Z showing a greater inclination towards purchasing fashion products and electronics. Household Expenses witness a notable uptick, with an average increase of 6%. In households with more than one earning member, the chief wage earner (CWE) contributes ~80% of the total household expenses, while non-CWE contributes ~20%. In the study, 42% of the women are CWE in their respective households. In terms of Savings, ~60% of consumers prioritise building a cash reserve to address emergency expenses after covering their monthly fixed expenses. According to the study, Men (62%) outpace Women (50%) in savings. Similarly, Gen Z (68%) demonstrates a stronger inclination towards savings than Millennials (62%) and Gen X (53%). Regionally, consumers from the East exhibits higher savings rates (63%) compared to those from the West (61%), South (59%), and North (59%). Furthermore, metros led in savings, with 62% of urban consumers prioritising savings over Tier 1 (61%) and Tier 2 (54%) cities. As per the study, one-fifth of consumers; (21%) have been victims of Financial Fraud. Cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Pune report a higher prevalence of financial fraud incidents. Men, Gen Z, and consumers from the North recalled receiving frequent fraudulent calls and messages over the past months. The study also revealed that 19% of consumers store their financial data on their smartphones, while 24% shared such sensitive data with their friends and family, indicating a complacent approach to data security. Interestingly, Women, Gen Z, and residents of the South region exhibit higher levels of complacency in this matter. In the realm of digital transactions, UPI (Unified Payments Interface) remains a focal point, warranting heightened vigilance and security measures to mitigate the risk of financial fraud. The study indicates that 72% are current users of UPI, with most usage among men, Gen Z, and metro residents. Notably, UPI usage is the highest in Chennai (90%) and lowest in Ahmedabad (58%). Furthermore, the study shows that 42% of consumers, especially men, Gen Z and Tier 1 consumers, expressed interest towards using Credit on UPI. Interestingly, the reasons to use Credit on UPI includes reduced timeframe in taking loans (53%), ease of payments at retail stores (44%), probability of getting better offers (23%), and lesser charges (16%). With highest personal monthly income (44K) Hyderabad retains the top spot for urban lower-middle class living, boasts highest incomes and savings rates among major cities. 69% of respondents in Hyderabad were able to save more in 2024. When it comes to monthly discretionary spends, people in Hyderabad prefer to spend on local travel/sightseeing (35%), eating outside (28%), movies (19%), fitness (6%), OTT apps (10%). 41% affirmed that they hear/see online financial frauds happening around, 27% have been victims of online fraud, 37% receive hoax calls/messages that are triggered with an intent to commit financial fraud. 74% of consumers expect their incomes to increase by next year, and about two-thirds claim that they will be able to save more (66%) and invest more (66%) in the coming year. Some consumers wouldnt prefer using Credit on UPI as they feel the chances of falling into a debt trap is easier (31%), and apprehensive about overspending (28%), higher interest rates (24%), higher processing and other charges (7%). 64% will stop using the UPI service if it becomes chargeable.

Deccan Chronicle 22 May 2024 9:50 pm

Kerala HC seeks report on steps taken to comply with guidelines on safe handling of sexually explicit materials by courts

High Court also asks Kerala government to inform it about steps taken to implement courts guidelines on safe handling of such materials by police and investigation officers

The Hindu 22 May 2024 5:00 pm

Irate farmers throw rotting fish into Kerala pollution control board compound to highlight their plight

KOCHI: Irked by the failure of Kerala Pollution Control Board (PCB) to take action against factories emptying effluents into the Periyar river that led to the complete annihilation of fish and losses worth crores, cage fish farmers along with people's representatives of the affected areas on Wednesday laid siege to the PCB engineer's office at Eloor in Ernakulam. The protesters wanted the PCB to take immediate action against the factories allegedly illegally dumping effluents containing harmful chemicals into the river. We have been bearing the brunt of the inaction of the PCB officials for many years. Time and again we notified authorities about pollutants in the river water. The bad smell and the water's changing colour indicate that it's contaminated with effluents. But the PCB has been turning a blind eye to our complaints, says Remya Thankachan, a member of Cheranelloor grama panchayat. She said that residents, cage fish farmers and people's representatives of each panchayat situated along the 10 km stretch of the Periyar river came together for the protest. People and farmers from Varapuzha, Kadamakudy, Cheranelloor, Mulavukad, Eloor, Alangad, Kunnathukara and other areas came with baskets filled with rotting fish to highlight the seriousness of the situation, she adds. Pollution kills spirit of cage fish farmers The protesters, who had gathered before the gates of the Eloor PCB office, were so agitated by the lackadaisical attitude of the PCB officials that they even threw the rotting fish into the office compound. We wanted the officials to smell the rotting fish. The rotten smell symbolises our plight! It symbolises our rotting fortunes. We have lost money amounting to crores. This will continue to happen if authorities don't take the erring industries to task, says Gratus, owner of Gratus Fish Farm at Cheranelloor. On Wednesday, a meeting of the presidents of all the affected panchayats, MLA, Chief Environmental Engineer and other officials was held at Eloor PCB. Even though the PCB has been claiming that the fish deaths happened due to the depletion of oxygen content in the river water following the opening of the Pathalam regulator cum bridge, the protesters and people's representatives claimed otherwise. As per a communique issued by the Chief Environmental Engineer, during the meeting which also had the Kerala State Pollution Control Board chairperson in attendance, it has been decided to submit a report regarding the losses suffered by the farmers. The step is being taken to ensure adequate compensation to the farmers who have incurred huge losses due to the mass fish death. The report will be submitted in seven days, says the communication. It has also been decided to submit a recommendation to the state government seeking free rations for six months to the traditional inland fishermen who have been affected by the pollution. It has been decided to take immediate steps to remove the decaying fish from the river and dispose of it. The board chairman has assured that an investigation will be conducted against the officials who have been negligent in doing their duty and action will be taken as per the probe report. The PCB chairperson also assured that factories located along the Periyar river will be investigated and those found dumping effluents in the river will be dealt with seriously that would including invoking all the clauses in the rule books.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 3:33 pm

Mass fish death in Periyar river sparks protests in Kochi

KOCHI: Thousands of dead fish were found floating in the Periyar river, sparking protests from local farmers and residents here on Wednesday. They claim that illegal discharge of chemical waste from nearby factories was to blame for the incident. Local fish farmers, particularly those involved in cage farming, reported significant losses amounting to several lakhs due to the mass fish deaths. The dead fish were found in large numbers in fish farms across panchayats such as Varapuzha, Kadamakkudy, and Cheranalloor near here since Tuesday. The widespread protests prompted the district administration to take action. District Collector N S K Umesh has ordered the state Pollution Control Board to urgently investigate the cause of the fish deaths, according to official sources. The government also formed a special committee under the aegis of Fort Kochi Sub-Collector to study the developments and submit a report in this regard within a week, they said. Pollution Control Board officials have already collected samples of water and dead fish from the incident site and sent them to the laboratory of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) here for a detailed examination. As per the preliminary assumption by the board officials, fish might have died en masse due to a sudden and significant decrease in the oxygen level in the water. As it is an industrial area, the District Collector also entrusted the environmental engineer of the Pollution Control Board to report whether the mass fish death had happened as a result of chemical effluents being discharged into the river. CCTV visuals should be examined, and stringent action should be taken against such establishments, if any, at the earliest, the Collector has said. State Industries Minister P Rajeeve said on Wednesday that all necessary steps have been taken in this regard to address the concerns of local people. A committee has been formed to study this, and it has been instructed to submit a detailed report. The water samples were collected and sent to the KUFOS lab for examination, he told reporters here. It would be revealed during the examination whether the decreasing level of oxygen or the discharge of effluents was the reason for the mass death of fish, he added. Meanwhile, the local Pollution Control Board office at Eloor here on Wednesday witnessed huge protests by fish farmers, local people, environmental activists and Congress workers. The protesters put dead fish in front of the office and raised slogans against the board officials, alleging they were not taking stringent measures against the factories that allegedly discharge chemical effluents into the River Periyar.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 3:33 pm

Indian Coast Guard rescues vessel in distress off Chavakkad in Kerala

Vessel IFB Guruvayoorappan sends SOS after water ingress in engine compartment 31 nautical miles off Chavakkad

The Hindu 22 May 2024 1:35 pm

India hosts Antarctic Treaty Consultative meet in Kochi

Kochi, May 22 (UNI) India is set to play a pivotal role in facilitating the first-ever focused discussions on regulating tourism in Antarctica at the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and 26th Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). The ATCM and CEP are high-level global annual meetings conducted in accordance with the []

goachronicle 22 May 2024 1:12 pm

Under UNICEF-backed project, rain gauges to be installed with community participation in Kerala this monsoon

100 rain gauges to be installed and operated with community participation along Periyar and Chalakudy river basins in Kerala

The Hindu 22 May 2024 12:17 pm

Divine reflections

KOCHI: Elaborate costumes, vibrant makeup, and towering headgear the sacred ritual practice of theyyam whirls and twirls, their energy embodies deities, ancestral spirits, and heroes from folklore. Onlookers are transported into an almost ethereal experience one that simultaneously invokes fascination and reverence. The effect of my first theyyam experience was profound. I wondered about the theyyam artists consciousness when their external presence was so remarkable, says British-born writer, photographer, and filmmaker Pepita Seth, who, with her latest work, In Gods Mirror: The Theyyams of Malabar (Scala Arts Publishers; `5,485), offers an intimate and insightful exploration of the nearly 2,000-year-old practice. Drawing upon her decades of personal experience and deep fascination with the practice, Pepitatakes readers on a journey through the world of theyyam, showcasing the intricate rituals, vibrant costumes, and deep-rooted beliefs that make the tradition so unique. Theyyam, which translates to God or incarnations of God, involves rituals where deities are believed to possess the bodies of designated individuals, known as theyyam artists. These theyyam artist undergo a transformative process, adorned with elaborate costumes and intricate makeup, becoming vessels for the divine. My introduction to theyyam came from an article I read in a now-defunct magazine which had a handful of photographs. Intrigued, I cut them out and used them to press people for further details, says Seth. She adds, While the word theyyam is a corruption of daivam, meaning God, it refers to both a deified individual and a particular style of worship in which a formless deity is said to be called down from heaven. The concept is that this deity occupies the body of a designated individual, a man from a particular family who has undergone a preparatory process enabling the deity to act with and see his or her devotees. With a photo on nearly every page of the book, Pepita captures the essence of theyyam through personal anecdotes and insightful observations, shedding light on the dedication, skill, and faith that underpin this ancient tradition. In effect, the artist must possess a whole host of skills, including knowledge of kalaripayattu (martial arts) and the ability to sing, act, and dance, she says, adding, He must be an expert at exorcising and giving blessings, playing various drums, making costumes, doing face painting, and above all, knowing the songs associated with individual deities, some of which can last for 15 hours. In Gods Mirror, Pepitadelves into the challenges faced by theyyam in a rapidly modernising world. When people first encounter a theyyam, they often ask how many exist. The default answer is that there used to be around 450 theyyams, of which roughly 250 are still honoured. However, when I decided to list every theyyam I heard about, I finally stopped at 897. While convention dictates that the divine cannot be counted, some theyyams are known by different names in different places. Recently, someone suggested that when not enough people know how to make the costumes, the tradition might end. This suggests a darker reality: just like face painting, everything must be done properly, or it simply isnt the deity, she says.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 9:00 am

Healing the world

KOCHI: That Earth, which ancient verses describe as clothed in oceans and with mountains and forests as her body. The one who is worshipped as the divine. The duty it is of her inhabitants to care for her so that she remains vibrant. Ecology is a symbiotic setup. And the world is realising that no matter how great the technical advances, earths inhabitants are dependent on the health of ecosystems for survival. In December 2022, the world congregated to adopt the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework aka The Biodiversity Plan a global effort to reverse whatever we have lost to indiscriminate gnawing at the roots of nature. May 22 is observed as the International Day for Biological Diversity and, this year, the theme is Be part of the Plan, a clarion call to local participation to work towards a healthier earth. Here, we look at some silent eco-warriors who have been striving to conserve the fragile ecosystem of the state. They care for nature, just as it cares for us. The tree doctor It all started with the sight of a raintree burning as he travelled to his mentors place in Aluva, where he was to participate in a meeting to save Keralas rivers. Watching the flames scorch the trees trunk, he flinched as if he could feel its pain. I asked my mentor, Prof S Seetharaman, what needed to be done. He told me to douse the fire with water he gave me a bucket of water with some herbs mixed in it, recalls Binu K, a UP school teacher from Kottayam. He then asked me to wrap the scorched part with a cloth. After some days, the tree fully healed. Binu was fascinated by the science, and there began his journey as a Vrikshayurveda physician. I delved into Vrikshayurveda texts. Trees and plants also are susceptible to ailments. I found the healing process to be similar to the way a human is treated, he says. Almost all acharyas such as Charaka, Sushruta, and even Vatsyayana have recorded this. Binu and his team have treated about 200 trees across Kerala. His venture in Thiruvananthapuram in reviving a tree jasmine (Indian cork tree) near Saphalyam complex was a major success, with flowers in full bloom now. His next project near Agasthyarkoodam is to help retain old trees even as construction works progress. Many laurels have come Binus way, and a film (Adachayi) has him playing the eco-warrior he is. A forest in her backyard One sapling, every day, for decades. This has been Kollakkayil Devaki Ammas routine after a car crash changed her life. During long walks around her home at Muthukulam in Alappuzha, Devaki Amma began planting trees not only as a way to heal from the memories of the accident but also to engage in an activity she loved: farming. Now, her 5-acre plot has transformed into a vibrant micro-forest, home to over 3,000 trees. It is also a sanctuary for various birds including Amur falcons, bluethroats, black-winged stilts, paradise flycatchers, and emerald doves. The 90-year-olds backyard now called Kollakal Thapovanam is a thriving ecosystem. Its no wonder then that this woman-made forest has been attracting a large number of students, researchers, and tourists. My mother continues this routine even today, says Devaki Ammas daughter D Thankamoney, whos a former environment engineering professor at CET, Thiruvananthapuram. Today, Kollakal Thapovanam stands as a reminder of how individual actions can have a profound impact on the environment. Devaki Amma, who has difficulty speaking due to age-related ailments, has been honoured with several awards, including the Nari Shakti Puraskar and Vrikshamitra Award, among others. Recently, her life story was captured in the documentary Amma Maram (Mother Tree), Notably, last year, a National Biodiversity Board, after a visit to Kollakal Thapovanam, recommended turning the place into a Biodiversity Heritage Site. Sacred service P K Ramachandrans life has been deeply intertwined with nature. He grew up on the premises of the four-acre Ponnakkudam Kavu, a centuries-old sacred grove owned by his family at Thevakkal in Ernakulam. Back in the day, to avoid any human disturbances, forests were given the tag of a sacred grove. Attaching religious connotation was key to conservation, says Ramachandran, former district coordinator of Kerala State Biodiversity Board. The 70-year-old, who has been a guiding force behind the groves conservation, reminisces about his childhood connect with nature, which eventually inspired him to become a botanist. As kids, we used to play with monkeys near the grove, and rush back to our homes once the mooted wood owl arrived on the scene. We were terrified by the bird, he smiles. Currently, the grove is home to 398 plant and 63 bird species. Ramachandrans conservation activities have also managed to sustain around 19 of the IUCN red-listed plants, including vella pine and cherumaram (Holigarna grahamil). Researchers and students visit the grove for academic purposes, and workshops and seminars are held to impart knowledge on biodiversity. Not everyone who comes here leads conservation efforts. But I believe its great if we can inspire others. Even small changes can make a big difference, he says. Sea saviour His wait has all the elements that an expectant mother has towards her to-be-born child. I havent slept for the last 41 days since the turtles came ashore to hatch their eggs. We have made a nest for them and they may come out any time soon, says fisherman Ajith Shankhukham about the olive ridley sea turtles that have been cared for by him on the Shankhumukham beach in Thiruvananthapuram. He laments that these turtles do not receive sufficient attention in Kerala, considering the stardom they have in the ecology world. Elsewhere, they are treated with much care. So, this time, we took up the case. We are caring for them and once the eggs hatch, we will personally take them to the sea, he gushes with anxiety-laced excitement. Ajiths trust with marine ecology has not been this alone; his work for whale sharks has been commendable, having saved about 22 of those titans from washing ashore and perishing. I started off with the whale shark during my fishing expeditions, when the mammals used to get entangled in our nets. At times, the rescue efforts have gone as long as 18 hours in mid-sea, he says. My efforts are for the health of the sea, for posterity as well as for Mother Nature who has given us so much. I am grateful that my work is backed by the Wildlife Trust of India. Urban crusader Study the trees of Kochi. That one wish of Aswathi Jerome became a small but important green movement. It was Covid time, and people were indoors, when she decided to study the trees around her.And I didnt want all the information I collected to remain in my notebook, says Aswathi, a research scholar. So, she started the Insta page Trees of Cochin, which details the familiar trees around the city, their location, characteristics, flowering season, fruit season, and the squirrels who live there. She details them through pictures and tidbits of text. Within a year, the idea grew to tree walks, nature workshops and more. When you get to know someone, you start caring about them. It is the same principle. The trees and the ecology around them are always like background elements for us. But when you pay attention, and get to know the trees, you will start loving them, Aswathi smiles. A Walk in the Neighbourhood is one of her pet projects, which was also part of the previous edition of the Kochi Biennale. In these walks, she takes small groups to places like the Childrens Park, where they discuss the local biodiversity and the nature of human interaction with it. I am not an activist, she asserts, and requests TNIE that this article be more about Trees of Cochin than her. She just wants to make people, especially children, care about nature. Lets hope we will have a generation that would think twice before axing a tree down, she says. Welded to nature His silhouette emerges as the sun rises in the backdrop of the Vellayani lake in Thiruvananthapuram every morning. On his jugaad hand-pedalled boat, Binu Punchakkari would traverse the length of the second largest freshwater lake in the state, collecting plastic and the wastes dumped indiscriminately over the lake. I started this daily routine during the Covid lockdown times. So far, I have scooped out over 1,400kg of plastic and other waste from the lake, says Binu, who is a welder by profession. It hurts to see how people are so little for the very nature that sustains them. Cruising on his self-made boat, Binu has also been striving to clear the lake of the invasive species Salvinia auriculata aka African payal, which, actually, has American origins. Binu wishes that he be given the full-time work of being able to take care of the lake. The authorities employ contractors for cleaning up the African payal. The team will only discard the plants on the banks of the lake, rather than curb its spread. If given the responsibility and support, I will launch myself into caring for the lake all through my life. I grew up here, this is my land. It hurts to see the lake turn into a dumping yard, he says. The quantity of coliform bacteria and microplastics has crossed the limits, and soon the Vellayani will be another Parvathy Puthanar, a drain. Compiled by Aparna Nair with inputs from Krishna P S, Ronnie Kuriakose and Mahima Anna Jacob

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:58 am

The art & prose of The Pig Flip

KOCHI: [To Joshy] What led you to create a graphic novel? Joshy: I used to draw from a young age. I guess, the interest bloomed then. However, doing a graphic novel wasnt even on my radar at that time. I had many ideas apt for graphic novels, but the yearning then was to see them all turned into short films. When did you become accustomed to graphic novels? Joshy: It was in the early 2000s, during my stint with Toonz in Thiruvananthapuram. It is one of the earliest animation studios in Kerala. I was introduced to many graphic novels as part of the work. It opened my eyes. Yet, I didnt imagine doing one myself. So, when did you conceive the idea to do one? Joshy: In the 2012-13 period. I had returned home then and had a lot of time on my hands. I wanted to do something creative. So when I struck upon a story idea (which eventually became The Pig Flip), I thought why not do it as a graphic novel? An abundance of time was a big enabler; it allowed me to think clearly. For an artist, the thought process is as important as creating art. Why a graphic novel? And what were the steps? Joshy: Because, unlike cinema, which requires an array of people, I could finish this work by myself. That was its biggest allure. First, I sat down to write a good story. Line by line, not caring to think that this was eventually going to be a graphic novel and, hence, could do away with meticulous text. This process took three months, and several drafts. The next step was to draw. I sketched rough ideas. That helped me understand how many pages it would take, how the illustrations should be, etc. Later, I refined each page. Water-coloured the works and digitised them.This took seven months. The work (in Malayalam) was published in 2015. How was the response? Joshy: The work garnered positive responses and this buoyed me. But it was the 2018 Indie Comix Fest, which happens annually in Kochi, that helped the work become the graphic novel it is today. When the organisers contacted me about the fest, I didnt have this work in a book format. It was the fest team that encouraged me to print digital copies ahead of the event. I did two copies. These were immediately bought, and requests poured in for more. So, I decided to print a set. Naturally, there also came a desire to see the work reach a wider audience. Was that why you decided to get the work translated into English? Joshy: Yes, I didnt know how to market the book, save for occasional posts on social media. It was then that a friend suggested to me to get the work translated into English. Another friend connected me to K K Muralidharan. He was very taken to the work, and translated it astonishingly quickly. Translating it to English was a turning point. [To Muralidharan] Did your Kerala background help in translating the work? Muralidharan: Yes, its safe to say that I knew Joshys characters well. There are real-life characters like those in the place where I grew up. That certainly helped. You seem to abandoned English syntax here Muralidharan: I think translating graphic novels of this nature is more like subtitling for films. Also, a big chunk of writing in The Pig Flip is conversational. Tiny fractions like grunts, nods, scoffs, laughs and shrugs carry loads of information and piece together complex meanings. I have played around with these notions, making it sound almost un-English. My hope was that it would constantly remind readers that the characters they see are not speaking English.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:51 am

A saga about the male ego

KOCHI: You must read The Pig Flip at least thrice. First, to blitz through the pages and enjoy the story. Second, as graphic novels mandate, to pay close attention to the illustrations, which augment the story by telling the reader more than what the text does. Third, and this is perhaps what distinguishes the work from others, to appreciate the marriage between the text and the illustrations to render this story as one quintessentially rooted in Kerala, and the work, hailed as a significant milestone in Indian graphic novels. The story is not unfamiliar at its core, its about gambling addiction. The protagonist Babychan cant help but sneak away most nights to an abandoned island to play panni malarthu [pig-flip], a popular card game in Kerala, with fellow no-do-gooders. Its likely you know a similar character in your surroundings. However, readers are careful to not dismiss Babychan as a social reject just yet. Under Joshys draftsmanship, we glimpse redeeming qualities in him. We know the perils that seem to cling onto him are only circumstantial. Also, unlike regular depictions of gambling, the illustrations of games dont hint at perversity or profligacy. Interestingly, they take on spiritual dimensions of sorts with these elements: the sanctuary of darkness punctuated by golden light, the waning candle, the putrid scent of rotting cashews, unsaid prayers and profound hope for a good hand. Whats also evident early on is that theres a defiance to Joshys work, in not sticking to the norm. Perhaps this is illustrated best in how each frame seamlessly blends into the next (physically and metaphysically), offering the reader an uninterrupted experience. For example, a tree in one frame branches out to offer a canopy in another. The ripples of water hover over the face in a frame underneath to convey the frantic state of a characters mind. Its noteworthy how each frame feels fresh and original. Each offers a different perspective. It is as if a cinematographer is moving their lens about and telling the story in ways that the reader had not envisioned it could be told. Perhaps it is an unfamiliarity with the norm that has helped the artist achieve this, as Joshy tells TNIE that he was introduced to graphic novels quite late into his career. However, his rich experience with colours is on display aplenty in the work. The colours, too, play a pivotal role in portraying the story and also unfolding an idyllic village. One frame in particular is noteworthy a birds eye view of the island. In a smattering of yellow and green, Joshy seems to have effortlessly conveyed the intensity of the monsoon. To continue the story: we are then introduced to Paulikutty, Babychans better half, who is quietly tolerant of her husbands self-indulgence with the cards. However, his mother is not quite so, admonishing him for his wayward lifestyle. In a quick flashback, we are introduced to a young Babychan being lambasted by his father for the same. He belongs in a pigsty, the elder said of his son. Here, Joshys draftsmanship once again comes to the fore. The mention of the father is accompanied by a single, siloed illustration of a traditional armchair, followed by a hand resting on its handle. We can immediately gauge the social dynamics of the house and our presumptions are immediately rewarded: the father is at one end of the verandah while the mother and her daughters huddle at the far end, the son between them and looking away as they discuss his life. K K Muralidharan, who translated the work to English, has abandoned the rigid English syntax to make the dialogues read Malayalam. Also, the text used is very economical. The dialogue boxes, too, are also not in your face; instead melding seamlessly into the background. Though Babychan had promised to give up gambling then, he finds it, as one can imagine, challenging. Even more so when he is lured in by local thugs, Money-Thommi in particular. It is incredible how easily a characters quirks are reflected by their name. Joshy tells TNIE that portions of these are derived from faces he sees or has seen in his life and surroundings. Their caricatures, too, are emblematic of these quirks, and each character is easily distinguishable even amidst crowds. The story is fairly simple when Babychans gambling is at its height and when it is clear that Money-Thommi will snatch his property, Paulikutty and his mother devise a plan: to send him away to the hills, to stay with his in-laws for a while. Here, we are introduced to Tommy, Paulikuttys brother, a get-stuff-done guy who made life easier for himself and his family by raising pigs. Babychan is also encouraged to start a pig farm. Though our protagonist is aghast at the very idea, we see the same church-like golden glow (this time, of dawn) soaking him, thus hinting at a change on the horizon. Two pages later, Babychans pig farm is complete, and the illustration that accompanies takes up an entire page. This is interesting, given how the pages that narrate the portions where his gambling problem got out of hand have a certain hurriedness to them. There are no white spaces, and invariably, no space to think even, possibly reflecting Babychans state of mind. However, addiction is, as we know, not an easy thing to overcome. Soon, backhanded insults from Paulikutty on how she has tamed the husband, his mothers growing reverence of Tommy (which comes at the cost of Babychan being overlooked), and his fathers words (that he belongs in a pigsty) has our protagonist slinking back to his old ways. However, this time, he is put to the stake by Tommy, who had spent money and days to reform his brother-in-law. The ensuing tussle between the two ultimately reduces Babychan in this saga of the male ego. The story does not end here. Well, on the pages it does. But we are not certain if Babychan will change his ways. There are signs that he might. But how can we be sure? Like this vagueness, the illustrations, too, have a slippery-ness to them. I wanted the readers to fill in the blanks, Joshy tells TNIE. The Pig Flip is a tremendous work that teaches us as much about gambling and Kerala settings as it does about how to write a good story and create a graphic novel. A must-read, and must-have at every artists home. STRONG POINT Observe closely how Joshy has drawn hands and legs (reportedly the most difficult of tasks when it comes to drawing) and used them to depict emotions the quiet fall of Paulikuttys hand on her husband, the concerned fist of the mother, the lazy way how the fathers hand rests on the armchair, Money-Thommi placing a leg on the verandah to imply he means business, the flick of the wrist to snuff out the lamp, among others.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:48 am

Organ trafficking racket: Small fries apprehended, key players still elusive

KOCHI : The investigation into an international human trafficking racket involved in organ harvesting is under way, but so far, only minor players have been arrested, while the main perpetrators remain elusive. The racket is allegedly based in Hyderabad, with the police receiving leads about the masterminds from the statements of Sabith Nasar, 30, from Valappad in Thrissur.Sabith, a member of the racket, was arrested at Kochi airport on Sunday. The investigation team faces challenges due to the rackets international connections. However, the police are actively searching for Shameer, a youth from Thirunellayi in Palakkad, who donated a kidney about six months ago. Sabith has confessed to his involvement in Shameers donation. Shameer, facing severe financial crisis and heavy debt, had told his neighbours that he planned to sell his kidney to repay his debts. Witnesses corroborated that Shameer may have donated his kidney to settle his debt. While there are reports suggesting that Shameer went to Bangkok, the police have not confirmed this. His parents told officers that they have had no information about his whereabouts for the past year. The investigation team is also examining Sabiths digital footprint on social media and tracking his banking transactions. According to officers, it is still too early to determine the number of victims or whether more people from Kerala, have fallen prey to the racket. The Ernakulam Rural police have set up a 10-member special investigation team (SIT) under Rural SP Vaibhav Saxena to probe the case. Nedumbassery SHO Murugan T C is the investigation officer, and Aluva DySP A Prasad is overseeing the probe. Sabiths close associate from Kochi has also been taken into custody, although no further arrests have been recorded. Saxena said that he could not divulge details at this stage. Central agencies such as NIA may be brought in, said officers. It is learnt that the NIA conducted a preliminary probe after Sabith was detained at Kochi airport on May 19. The Nedumbassery police have filed an application seeking his custody, who is currently under judicial custody, before Angamaly Judicial First Class Magistrate Court on Tuesday.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:16 am

Pollution kills spirit of cage fish farmers

KOCHI: The day dawned presenting a grizzly sight for the people residing in the industrial stretch of Ernakulam district, comprising places like Edayar, Eloor, Varapuzha, Kothad, Kadamakudy, Cheranallore and Kottuvally, with tonnes of dead fish floating in their fish farms and Periyar river nearby. Though fish kills have been common over the past several years because of the pollutants released by industries along the banks of the river, the magnitude of the fish kills this time is huge. And, the fish farmers losses have run into crores of rupees. Most of the affected farmers are those who had taken up cage fish farming buoyed by the subsidy that the state government had promised to promote captive fish farming. Pointing towards the dead baramundi, sea bass and pearl spot, Jolly V N, whose daughter and son-in-law had 13 cages of fish almost ready for harvest, says, The total loss suffered by the cage fish farmers along the Periyar will amount to crores. We ourselves have suffered a loss of Rs 14 lakh. For Gratus Fish Farm, which is in its third year of farming, the fish kill couldnt have come at a worse time. This was our only source of income. We have been doing this for the past five years, says Jolly, the owner. The farmers are blaming the authorities for their failure to take measures to prevent the pollution of a river which is also the major source of drinking water for the city of Kochi. According to Hamin Joseph, a cage fish farmer from Varapuzha, he received information about fish leaping out of the water from his workers stationed near his cages. That happened around 8.49pm on Monday. When I reached the cages, I could see the water turning milky white and a strong smell emanating from the river. When I collected some water in my palms, my skin started to itch, says Hamin, who suffered a loss of Rs 9 lakh. All the fish were dead by 9.30pm, he points out. We have suffered some loss in the past too. However, that used to be around 10 to 20%. And we used to be notified about the opening of the Pathalam regulator-cum-bridge. However, this time, no such information was passed on, says Hamin, who has lodged a complaint with the police. Fish lying dead at Edayar There are more than 150 farmers engaged in cage fish farming in the Periyar, he says. In Varapuzha alone, there are 30 farmers. Cage fish farming became a hit after the state government began giving a subsidy, he adds. Hamin has lost around 4.5 tonnes of fish while Gratus Fish Farm has lost around 8 to 10 tonnes. Jolly blames the industries operating along the riverbank for the pollution. Unless the authorities, including the Pollution Control Board, take strong steps to check whether the factories, which include those manufacturing pesticides and weedicides, are adhering to the environment guidelines, fish kills will continue to happen in the Periyar, he says. Farmers take a look at the polluted water Sajeesh V G, a cage fish farmer from Kottuvally says, Every time the irrigation department releases the water, it coincides with high tide and there is ample rain too. So, whatever pollutants flow in from the stagnant water upstream get diluted. This time, it was low tide and the rain was not copious enough. All these factors worked towards spelling doom for our farms. The effect is most severe in areas like Cheranallore, Varapuzha, Kadamakudy and Kothad near the regulator cum bridge. In the case of Kottuvally, the high tide brought in the polluted water, he adds. Another factor that has placed these farmers in troubled waters is that none of them are insured. The situation is such that many of us might stop this venture altogether since there is no guarantee that this might not happen next year too, says Sajeesh. According to Jolly, Hamin and Sajeesh, the cage farmers had been preparing for the December harvest, which is the peak sales season for them. Though we do sell fish in intervals from June, the biggest sale and revenue generation happens during the Christmas and New Year season. But all that has become moot now, they add. We buy juvenile fish at a rate of Rs 50 to Rs 60 per fish. Imagine having to sell at Rs 100 per kg. And after this news who will buy the fish? ask the farmers. Jolly says, For us, the only way is to bury the dead fish. It is like watching our money getting buried in dirt! Collector tells PCB to act against errant factories The district collector on Tuesday ordered the Pollution Control Board to conduct an emergency inquiry into the fish kills in the Periyar and initiate action quickly. Besides, he also initiated the formation of a committee comprising officials from PCB, KWA and the irrigation, industries, health and fisheries departments to probe the incident. Kerala Mastya Thozhilali Aikyavedi demands strict action against culprits Highlighting how the sudden release of pollutant-laden water from the regulator-cum-bridge at Pathalam has led to the mass killing of fish in the Periyar, the fishermens union has sought action against the errant industries. It has also demanded measures to prevent such incidents. This has been happening every year. The chemical-laden water, courtesy of the chemical-leather-bone meal factories located in the upper reaches of the bund, is being pumped into the river through many illegal pipe outlets. It is an open secret, says Charles George, president of the union. To date, no step has been initiated by PCB to shut these pipe outlets or set up sewage treatment plants, he says. It is happening when the fish population in the river has gone down drastically, he adds.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:13 am

Kerala HC exonerates Sudhakaran in EP murder bid conspiracy

kochi : The Kerala High Court on Tuesday discharged Congress state president K Sudhakaran from a case related to the alleged conspiracy to kill three CPM leaders including LDF convenor E P Jayarajan due to political enmity in 1995. According to the FIR in the case, following criminal conspiracy, the first accused, Sudhakaran, procured four revolvers and gave them to the fourth and fifth accused. Later, knowing that E P Jayarajan was travelling from Delhi to Kerala on Rajdhani Express, the fourth and fifth accused boarded the train, and when it was passing through Chirala in Andhra Pradesh, they fired at him. Jayarajan was injured in the attack, the FIR stated. Justice Ziyad Rahman issued the order on a petition filed by Sudhakaran and the third accused, Rajeevan of Thalassery, seeking to set aside the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, Thiruvananthapuram, which declined to discharge them from the case. The proceedings were initiated based on a complaint filed by Jayarajan before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Thiruvananthapuram. Registration of 2nd FIR by police not justifiable In the plea filed before the JFCM court, Jayarajan had alleged that the accused persons, including Sudhakaran, conspired at Thycaud Guest House, Thiruvananthapuram, to murder him, out of political rivalry and an attempt was made to murder him and two other CPM leaders inside the train. Jayarajan was the CPM Kannur district secretary when the incident happened. Sudhakaran argued that no conspiracy was committed as alleged. Though a discharge petition was filed before the Sessions Court, it was dismissed on the ground that he had not faced trial, without adverting mind to the fact that the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and the Supreme Court had dealt with the matter. Chirala police, Andhra Pradesh has already investigated the case against Sudhakaran under Section 120 B, but nothing happened in the investigation. So he cannot be tried for the same offence on the same set of facts. The second FIR is not permissible in law, he argued. The court said the registration of the second FIR by Kerala Police was not at all justifiable and the further proceedings are also not legally sustainable. Jayarajan argued that there was no proper investigation by the Andhra Pradesh police regarding conspiracy. The court said that it was evident from the records that an investigation was indeed conducted in respect of the conspiracy. Though further investigation was proposed by Sudhakaran and the other accused, they were never chargesheeted by the Andhra Pradesh police. However, even if the same is treated as an instance of lack of proper investigation, still, the same would not justify the registration of a second FIR, said the court.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:10 am

Hepatitis outbreak grips Vengoor

KOCHI : A devastating outbreak of Hepatitis A that has gripped several areas of Vengoor panchayat in Ernakulam district is showing no sign of subsiding, with a husband-wife duo reporting critically ill on Tuesday. The crisis, which has primarily affected the residents of wards 10 through 13, has already claimed three lives and infected approximately 250 individuals, overwhelming the regions healthcare infrastructure. The outbreak has taken a grim toll on the residents of Vengoor and the nearby Mudakuzha panchayat. The deceased have been identified as Karthyayani M C (51) and Jolly Raju (51) of Vengoor and K K Sajeev (48) of Mudakuzha. Among the critically ill is a couple, Anjana and Srikanth, undergoing treatment at separate facilities. While Anjana has shown signs of recovery, Srikanths condition remains grave as he battles renal complications and remains unconscious, undergoing dialysis. Harish, Karthyayanis son, one of the familys primary breadwinners, expressed deep frustration over the health centres negligence in controlling the outbreak even after several days. No health official visited our home or the hospital to check on my mother, he said. Harish said he plans to file formal complaints against the health centres and the authorities concerned if the situation does not improve. Raju, the husband of Jolly who died at the Kottayam medical college hospital, blamed broken and contaminated water pipes for the spread of the disease. He also expressed his disappointment with the authorities poor management and response to the crisis. The reason behind the spread is the improper chlorination of water by the authorities, lamented Baiju Paul, a ward member, highlighting the root cause of the outbreak. The authorities have traced the origin of the crisis to the inadequate chlorination of the local water supply, which facilitated the rapid transmission of the highly contagious Hepatitis A virus. The lapse in water treatment has impacted the core areas and spilled over to wards 8 and 9 where a decreased water supply has resulted in lower cases. Vengoor, one of the largest panchayats in Kerala, spanning an area of 248.01 square kilometres, is located approximately 10 kilometres from the town of Perumbavoor. The first case was reported on April 17, with more cases emerging in the following week. In response to the crisis, the government medical college hospitals in Kottayam and Kalamassery have been at the forefront of the efforts to mitigate the outbreaks impact, admitting patients and providing essential care. The incubation period of Hepatitis A is usually 1428 days, and we will have to wait till then for signs to show. So, currently, we cannot say anything, cautioned Peter P V, another ward member, emphasising the need for vigilance. Governmental bodies have initiated several countermeasures, including the thorough cleaning and super chlorination of water tanks and a robust public awareness campaign using notices, posters and public announcements. Free medical testing and camps have also been organised. Preventive measures by health dept The health department has issued a comprehensive set of precautionary measures to curb the spread of jaundice in the district. In a statement, the district medical officer emphasised the importance of adhering to strict hygiene practices, citing contaminated drinking water, consumption of outside food and soft drinks, and the lack of personal and environmental hygiene as major contributing factors. Serving welcome drinks prepared with unboiled water and mixed with hot water can aid the transmission of the disease, said a health department official. To combat the outbreak, the department has issued the following preventive measures: Use only boiled water for drinking and avoid mixing it with unboiled water Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before cooking, serving, eating, and after using the toilet and going out Avoid eating uncooked food, soft drinks, and stale and contaminated food from unsanitary sources Use fruits and vegetables only after washing them properly Always keep food and water covered tightly Avoid open defecation and ensure safe disposal of baby faeces through toilets Refrain from sharing food, drinking water and utensils used by infected individuals

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:06 am

Eatery shut down at Edachira after three children suffer food poisoning

KOCHI: The health wing of the Thrikkakara municipality on Tuesday closed down a takeaway eatery at Edachira near Kakkanad after three children of a family residing at EMS Colony in Edachira exhibited symptoms of food poisoning after eating the items ordered from the outlet. Sources said the father of the children, who are aged 10, 5 and two-and-a-half years, had bought five porottas, two packets of pathiris, and two plates of chana masala from Rahath Pathirikkada on May 18. After consuming it, the youngest girl suffered from vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever. When her condition improved, the other two children fell ill with similar symptoms. They were taken to the hospital where food poisoning was confirmed. Following an intimation from an ASHA worker, a team led by M Madhukumar, first-grade health inspector, inspected the shop on May 21 and ordered its closure citing unhygienic conditions. The team also seized unlabelled packets of chapati and appam from the outlet. Of the three children, the five-year-old was taken to the Public Health Centre in Kakkanad on Monday and referred to a child specialist, said Madhukumar. We instructed the shop owner to fulfil the sanitary requirements within five days, he said, adding that reopening of the shop and further actions will follow after considering the childs condition. Officials from the food and safety department collected samples of food items from the eatery late Tuesday. The health wing will continue with inspections of eateries in the coming days, Madhukumar said. The squad also seized stale food from nearby shops, Harsh Dhabha, Jino Bar Hotel, and MM Bakery, and destroyed it.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:04 am

Kerala HC asks collector to expedite steps to complete Mullassery Canal work

KOCHI: Expressing concern over the delay in the reconstruction of Mullassery Canal in the city, the Kerala High Court directed the district collector to look into the issue and file a status report indicating the specific time-frame he can gather from the authorities for its completion, or at least for the smooth flow of water. The reconstruction of Mullassery Canal does not appear to have reached its ultimate goal, said the court. The court also directed the collector to seek the assistance of the committee formed by it to solve the issue. Justice Devan Ramachandran said, This surely poses a great risk, especially to the citizens residing in its vicinity, and hence the imperative nature of the completion of the canal work cannot be overstated. Look at Thiruvananthapuram now. The city witnessed heavy flooding recently. If we were not careful, similar situation would have happened in Kochi also, said the court. The government pleader informed that though there was a proposal for the construction of a drainage canal from the South Railway station to the backwaters, administrative sanction for this has not been accorded so far. The court said it was unaware as to why the sanction has not been granted, particularly, given the fact that if the drainage canal is constructed, the distance for the transfer of water from the South Railway station area would be less than one-third of what is now. This would provide a solution to the accumulation of water in those areas frequented by a large number of people. The court directed to take up the issue with the authorities concerned and inform it as to when the sanction for the work can be obtained. On the mitigation of flooding near the High Court, the government pleader said that the work has not even commenced. Hence the funds for the same will now have to be either surrendered orre-appropriated.The suggested work for mitigation of flooding near the High Court is an essential work, which ought to have been completed within strict time-frame, said the court.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 8:00 am

Believers Church head Mor Athanasius Yohan I laid to rest

PATHANAMTHITTA: The Believers Eastern Church bid a tearful farewell to its head Metropolitan Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan I (Dr K P Yohannan) as he was laid to rest with full state honours in Tiruvalla on Tuesday. Paying scant regard to the heavy rain, thousands of people gathered at the Church headquarters, Kuttapuzha, to bid farewell to Yohan I, who passed away on May 8 following a car accident in Texas, US. The body was brought to the Kochi airport early on Sunday, from where it was taken in a mourning procession that passed through Niranam, his birthplace, around 6.30 pm. The mortal remains were kept at the Believers Convention Centre in Tiruvalla on Monday for the public to pay homage. After public viewing, the mortal remains were taken in a procession to St Thomas Believers Eastern Church Cathedral from the Convention Centre. As the eighth stage of the hours-long prayer service led by Chennai Diocese head Samuel Mar Theophilos Episcopa concluded by 1.30 pm, the metropolitan was laid to rest in a special tomb near the churchs madbaha (inner sanctum). Metropolitan Yohans son and US Diocese head Daniel Mor Timotheos, and other bishops, assisted in the service. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Goa Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai, Ministers V N Vasavan, Saji Cherian, P Prasad, deputy speaker Chittayam Gopakumar, MPs K C Venugopal, Anto Antony, A M Ariff, and Dean Kuriakose, besides MLAs were among those who paid last respects to the metropolitan. Born in a Syrian Marthomite family, Yohan began his spiritual journey as an evangelical preacher through his radio broadcast before turning as the Metropolitan of the self-founded Believers Church based on Eastern Orthodox customs.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 7:53 am

With 21 retirements, female inspector numbers to decline to six

KOCHI : Further emphasising the negligible presence of mid-ranked women officers in Kerala police, the number of female inspectors with the force is set to drop to just six, with 21 of them set to retire on May 31. Women IPS officers in various departmental positions, however, number around 10. The junior-most position that an IPS officer in the state is assigned is as assistant superintendent of police (ASP). There is currently not even a single female among the 289 DySPs of the squad, after the last officer retired last month. As per sources, there are now 668 inspectors including 27 women in the state force posted in various stations and on special units like crime branch, vigilance, coastal police, etc. A senior civil police officer (SCPO) with the state women cell lamented the declining number of women inspector-ranked officers. The entire force, including the women cell, will have to function with six inspectors from June. As per records, an officer with the Wayanad women cell will assume charge as DySP, but just for a month, as she will retire in June, the officer said, on condition of anonymity. Of the remaining six officers, four will superannuate in December. This will leave the force with just two women officers of the 1995 batch. And their tenure lasts up to 2029, which means that just two women officers will be eligible to make DySP in the interim, she added. Women police was formed as a separate wing. Officers appointed to the branch had the opportunity to attain the office of superintendent through seniority or promotion. But with the introduction of regular seniority promotion lists, appointments and promotions of women officers also happen through the general wing, which has impacted their prospects, the officer said. Civil police officers (CPOs) appointed through the first female recruitment through PSC in 1991 have now become inspectors. A good number of sub-inspectors were also recruited in 2018, but they were unable to be promoted as inspectors, said another SCPO-ranked officer with the state womencell. Bureaucratic delays in selection, appointment and timely promotion have also depleted the number of women inspectors in the force, she added. Women officers IGs: 1 (police headquarters) DIGs: 2 (TPuram & Thrissur range both IPS officers) SPs (IPS officers): 7 (including TPuram Rural, Alappuzha and Kannur district police chiefs) DySPs: 0 Inspectors: 27, which will drop to six after May 31 Holding the port 564 Total number of police stations (including special branches) Of these, 484 are law and order stations Officers retirement wont affect functioning of police force Chiming in, a head constable with the women cell of Thiruvananthapuram Rural police, said her branch now operates without inspectors and sub-inspectors. A graded assistant sub-inspector (ASI) is leading the wing. The two former sub-inspectors transferred to Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha promotion are now on the list of retiring officers, she said. Three pink police units -- in Varkala, Attingal subdivision, and Neyyattinkara -- function attached to the women cell. Excluding pink police officers, the arm has six women ASIs and three women SCPOs. We are managing the station and deputation duties with these nine officers, she said. Responding to the issue, E V Pradeepan, general secretary of the Kerala Police Association, said, Of the 564 police stations in the state, 484 are law and order stations. Except for a few stations that are headed by sub-inspector-ranked station house officers (SHOs), most of them have inspector-ranked officers in charge. This will ensure the smooth functioning of the force. The newly formed Special Womens Battalion and the 190 posts created for drivers last month will also prove beneficial, he added. Suneesh Kumar IPS, the superintendent of police who led the women and children cell, said the functioning of the force will not be affected by the retirement of a batch of officers appointed through separate recruitment. We have a large number of women sub-inspectors, who are also responsible for station duty, he said.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 7:44 am

State paying heavy price for forest department's blunders

KOCHI : The forest department has cancelled the order allowing Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) to replant exotic pulpwood species eucalyptus in its plantations, following protests from environmentalists. However, the controversy over the May 9 order has triggered a debate on the departments role in the degradation of Keralas forests over the past few decades. While the discussion surrounds the monocrop cultivation on the 7,000 hectares of land under the KFDC, the fact that the forest department manages 1,56,204 hectares of plantations is ignored. The department is cultivating 33 species of trees including teak, mangium, acacia, eucalyptus, pine,, albezzia and wattle in these plantations. In an order issued in 2017, the department had announced the decision to remove all exotic species and invasive plants from the forests by 2032. However, the slow progress of the project has invited criticism. Farmers living in forest fringe areas allege that monocrop plantations managed by the forest department have led to degradation of the forest. Besides, the spread of invasive species like Senna spectabilis, Hypoestes phyllostachya, Maesopsis eminii, Mikania micrantha, Lantana camara, Eupatorium cannabinum, Siam weed or Chromolaena odorata known as communist pacha have led to the destruction of natural habitat for wild animals. The farmers allege that the spread of the exotic species has led to scarcity of food and water in the forest, forcing herbivores to enter farmlands in forest fringes for food. And, carnivores stray into human habitations following the prey, they say. Degradation of forest and overpopulation of wild animals are the reason for the rising human-animal conflicts. The department should expedite the removal of exotic species to restore natural vegetation in the forest. Steps should be taken to control wild animal population as per the carrying capacity of the forest, says Kerala Independent Farmers Association chairman Alex Ozhukayil. While opposing the proposal for culling of wild animals, environmental activist M N Jayachandran expresses concern over forest degradation. The forest department is the main accused for the degradation. Steps should be taken to fell trees of exotic species and plantations should be converted into natural forest. We are facing the consequences of the departments decision taken in the previous decades for commercial cultivation of softwood in the forest. The leaves of eucalyptus, acacia, wattle and other species are inedible and these species destroy natural vegetation in their surroundings, he said. Notwithstanding the role of grasslands for a healthy ecosystem and harbouring wildlife, the forest department had formed a Grassland Afforestation Division in Periyar Tiger Reserve in the 1980s and an assistant conservator was appointed in charge of planting acacia in around 50 sqkm of grasslands. After decades, the department realised the damage it caused and started felling eucalyptus trees. The planting of wattle in shola forests of Munnar was another blunder. In Wayanad, exotic species planted on the premises of the forest office and along the Sultan Bathery-Muthanga road has now spread across 33% of the Wayanad sanctuary and the department is now uprooting the trees after realising its mistake. Senna spectabilis (Manja Konna), which was growing in 16 sqkm of the forest area in 2013, spread to 123 sqkm in 2023 posing a threat to the native species of trees. Creepers like Lantana are also destroying the vegetation causing scarcity of fodder for the herbivores. We have started uprooting senna and removing other exotic species in the Wayanad forest. Around 2,000 hectares of senna have been removed and we are involving the local community for the extraction. We have around 27,000 hectares of monoculture species and steps have been taken to remove them under the governments eco-restoration policy in 2021. In another six years, we will remove exotic species like eucalyptus and acacia and convert the plantations into natural forest. We are trying to avail funding from NABARD for the extraction of invasive and exotic species. The Tamil Nadu Papers Ltd has expressed interest in buying the timber, but there is demand to give it to Kerala Paper Products Ltd at a concession, said a senior forest official. The officer said around 7,000 hectares of exotic species have been removed under the eco-restoration project. In Munnar, the department has involved local community for removal of wattle. The wood will be used to construct biomass checkdam. Around 2,000 hectares of wattle plantation in Munnar will be converted into grassland. Merge KFDC with forest dept, says ex-principal CCF The KFDC was formed for commercial cultivation of softwood and since the government has decided to stop the cultivation of exotic species, it should be merged with the forest department, said former principal chief conservator of forests Prakriti Srivastava, who also served as the KFDC MD. When I joined KFDC, it was a completely loss-making organisation. We turned it around in just one year. At the time, we got permission to sell eucalyptus at the market rate. We made a profit of `6.3 crore in the year I left. We decided to stop cultivating eucalyptus and acacia in KFDC plantations. After felling acacia, we plant native species like Melia dubia (Malabar neem), teak bamboo and Vatta (Macaranga peltata). In Munnar, we removed eucalyptus from 500 hectares of land and planted natural species. We ensured restoration of the shola forest and the shola grassland, Prakriti told TNIE. Melia dubia is a very good commercial species, is preferred by plywood industry and is a much better option compared to eucalyptus. It grows fast and can be harvested within nine to 12 years. The only problem is that it is a bit prone to pest. While eucalyptus has a survival rate of 90-95%, melia dubias survival rate is 65-70%, which is not bad considering its ecological value, she said. Prakriti said she had forwarded two proposals to the government for revamping KFDC. One was to merge the corporation with the forest department. When I joined there was loot and mismanagement in KFDC. Both KFDC and forest department are doing the same work. The field staff of KFDC have a uniform. The body can be made a wing of the forest department and tasked with the maintenance and felling of trees in plantations. They didnt consider my proposal for reasons best known to them, she said. Prakriti had invited the wrath of the political leadership when she opposed the proposal to allow trade unions in KFDC. How can we allow trade unions in a uniformed force? They have the same duties as forest staff and are given all benefits of the uniformed staff. I got legal opinion against the move but they implemented it, she said. Responding to the controversy over the proposal to plant eucalyptus in KFDC plantations, its MD Georgi P Mathachan said it was a suggestion to ensure the self-reliance of the corporation. We are getting revenue through extraction of eucalyptus every year. I submitted the proposal to ensure KFDCs self reliance in future. There are around 400 workers in the plantations. We give them salary using the revenue from timber sales, Georgi said. The KFDC was planning to plant eucalyptus on 50 hectares of land. According to the corporation, the survival rate of eucalyptus is high as it is inedible. Though KFDC has planted native species on 250 hectares in the past four years, their survival rate is less than 50%. The corporation has 10,000 hectares of plantation and it cultivates coffee, tea and cardamom on 3,000 hectares. The KFDC has eucalyptus plantation on 1,500 hectares. Plantations under KFDC - 10,000 hectares Tea, coffee, cardamom: 3,000 ha Eucalyptus: 1,500 ha Rotation years Eucalyptus: 9 years Acacia: 18 years Mangium: 7 years Albizia: 7 years Bamboo: 8 years Teak: 60 years Plantations under forest department - 33 species Area: 1,56,204 ha Teak: 76,776 ha Teak and softwood: 13,455.93 ha Mangium: 2,820.75 ha Acacia: 7,728.06 ha Eucalyptus: 6,821.03 ha Cane: 3,435 ha Bamboo: 5,231.99 ha Medicinal plants:3,181.03 ha Pine: 546 ha Albizia: 202.29 ha Anjili: 589.6 ha Wattle: 2122.57 ha Cashew: 4,397.16 ha

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 7:37 am

AI traffic cams: Rs 365cr collected in one year as fines

KOCHI : Industries Minister P Rajeeve on Tuesday said that the state government has collected Rs 365 crore in fines since the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) cameras aimed at curbing road accidents a year ago. Though the government implemented the AI system to bring down the number of traffic mishaps, a section of people moved the court against the move, the minister said at the inauguration of a workshop on emergency responses to road accidents organised by Medical Trust Hospital. The AI camera system was introduced in the state on June 5, 2023. As part of the Safe Kerala Project, 726 cameras were installed throughout the state, enabling the motor vehicle department to impose penalties for traffic violations. The cost of the project was Rs 232 crore. With the figure now revealed by Rajeeve, the government has fully recovered the cost and made a gain of Rs 133 crore through the AI camera project within the first year itself. Rajeeve emphasised the need for such measures, particularly in a state where one in four households owns a car. There are around 1 crore two-wheelers in the state and two lakh vehicles are being registered annually. In such a situation, the government is bound to take care of the publics safety on the road. However, it is unfortunate that most of the news are about shortcomings of the systems introduced by the government to curb accidents, said the minister. At the function, Rajeeve released the MTH Trauma helpline number (9846244444) set up by the Medical Trust Hospital to offer expert medical assistance round the clock, spanning from road accident to snakebite. The minister said that the Medical Trust Hospital, which was allowed to handle the medico-legal case for the first time in Kerala in 1976, is providing unparalleled service to the community in the healthcare field. Medical Trust Hospital managing director Dr P V Louis presided over the function. by with contributions from Medical and Commercial Director Dr. P V Thomas, Financial Director Dr. V Xavier, and the Head of Trauma Surgery Department, who shared their insights during the proceedings. Medical and commercial director Dr P V Thomas, financial director Dr V Xavier, head of trauma surgery department also spoke.

The New Indian Express 22 May 2024 7:29 am

As authorities dilly-dally, Eloor-Edayar stretch of the Periyar in peril

PCB is yet to act on its earlier inferences that effluents were being discharged in violation of norms through stormwater drains in the industrial area into the river

The Hindu 21 May 2024 11:08 pm

NTPC to withdraw from TELK partnership

The Hindu 21 May 2024 11:00 pm

Kochi takeaway eatery shutdown after food poisoning complaints

KOCHI: A takeaway eatery at Edachira near Kakkanad in Kochi was closed down by the health wing of Thrikkakara municipality on Tuesday after three children of a family complained of discomfort after they ate parcel food comprising porattas , pathiris and two plates of chana masala from the outlet. The children received treatment at Government Medical College, Ernakulam as the youngest girl aged two-and-a-half years developed vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever. As soon as her condition improved, the other two, aged 10 and 5 respectively, developed similar symptoms. They were taken to hospital and were diagnosed with food poisoning. The shop 'Rahath Pathirikkada' was shut down by a team led by M Madhukumar, the first-grade health inspector ordered the closure after citing the unhygienic sanitary conditions of the eatery. The father of three children, aged nine, five, and two-and-a-half-years, who resides in EMS Colony, Edachira bought five porattas , two packets of pathiris , and two plates of chana masala from the outlet on May 18. Following the intimation from an ASHA worker, the health inspector and the team inspected the shop on May 21 and cited the unhygienic conditions of the eatery. The team seized unlabelled packets of chapati and appam from the outlet during the inspection. Following the inspection, the health wing was ordered to close down the eatery and will resume functioning only after meeting the stipulated conditions. Among the three children, the five-year-old child was taken to the Public Health Center, Kakkanad on Monday and referred to a child specialist, said health inspector M Madhukumar. We instructed the shop owner to fulfil the sanitary conditions within five days, he said, adding that the reopening of the shop and further actions will follow after considering the condition of the child. The officials from the Food and Safety Department collected the sample of food items from the eatery late Tuesday. The health wing will continue the inspections in the coming days, Madhukumar said. The squad also seized stale foods from nearby shops namely Harsha Dhabha, Jino Bar Hotel, and MM Bakery. The stale food items were destroyed after being displayed in the municipality. Kakkanad jail sees 2-fold increase in food sales

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 9:38 pm

Kerala HC quashes Guv Khans nominations to University of Kerala senate

Kochi: In a blow to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, the High Court here on Tuesday quashed the nominations made by him as Chancellor of Universities to the senate of the University of Kerala and directed him to select fresh nominees within a period of six weeks. The court, however, did not interfere with the nominations Get the latest updates in Hyderabad City News , Technology , Entertainment , Sports , Politics and Top Stories on WhatsApp & Telegram by subscribing to our channels. You can also download our app for Android and iOS .

The Siasat Daily 21 May 2024 9:09 pm

Man found dead in well in Kadavanthra

The Hindu 21 May 2024 8:44 pm

Kerala High Court quashes Governors nominations to KU Senate

Chancellor directed to make fresh nominations, considering the petitioners claims within six weeks

The Hindu 21 May 2024 8:17 pm

Quality of life better in Kochi, Thrissur as compared to major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad: Oxford Index

In terms of factors such as livability and attractiveness influencing migration patterns, major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru have scored lower than Kochi and Thrissur, according to the Oxford Economics Global Cities Index. The Quality of Life category evaluates indicators measuring the advantages of residing in each city and residents' well-being, encompassing financial and health outcomes, as well as access to amenities. Mumbai, the financial capital of India, ranked 915, while the national capital, Delhi, secured the 838th position. Bengaluru, known as the IT hub, was rated at 847, while Hyderabad received a score of 882.

The Economic Times 21 May 2024 6:17 pm

Kerala's revenue soars to Rs 77,000 cr

Kochi: The Left government in Kerala has achieved a record revenue increase from Rs 47,000 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 77,000 crore in 2023-24, helping to mitigate financial challenges posed by the BJP-ruled Centre, according to state Finance Minister K N Balagopal. We've managed a record increase in the state's own revenue even as the Centre financially squeezes us. The state's own tax revenue rose from Rs 47,000 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 77,000 crore in 2023-24, Balagopal said. He pointed out that this represents a 60 per cent increase in the state's own tax revenue over just three years. Without this increase, Kerala's economy would have collapsed due to the central government's anti-state policies. The minister also noted that the state government is doing everything it can to handle the crisis caused by the Centre's reduction in tax allocations and debt limits. Balagopal, who is also a senior CPI(M) leader, said that Kerala successfully brought national attention to the Centre's alleged discriminatory approach by mobilizing the state's people and organizing a protest in New Delhi, led by the Chief Minister and including ministers and people's representatives. In the FB post, he also mentioned the state government's legal battle in the Supreme Court to secure its rights from the Centre. Other states also followed suit and filed similar cases in the Supreme Court, highlighting the importance of this issue for federalism, Balgopal said. The minister claimed that national leaders have acknowledged Kerala's stance on the issue. Through the last three budgets, the government has initiated several crucial projects for Kerala's future. These multi-pronged schemes aim to boost production, income, and employment opportunities, the minister said.

Deccan Chronicle 21 May 2024 5:24 pm

Kerala HC discharges KPCC chief in conspiracy case to kill LDF's Jayarajan

Kerala High Court Kerala High Court Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday discharged KPCC chief K Sudhakaran from a case accusing him of conspiring to kill some senior CPM leaders, including present LDF convener E P Jayarajan back in 1995. The High Court discharged Sudhakaran and another accused in the case, Rajeevan, saying that the allegations of criminal conspiracy against them were already investigated by Andhra Pradesh police and therefore, a second FIR registered in Kerala on the same accusations was not justified. A case of criminal conspiracy and attempted murder was initially registered in Andhra Pradesh as Jayarajan was shot at and injured when the train he was traveling in was passing through Chirala area of that state. Justice Ziyad Rahman A A said that as the prosecution stories in both FIRs shared a single platform and the allegations were against the same persons, therefore, the case registered in Kerala has to be treated as a second FIR which is barred under the law. The Kerala High Court order came on a plea moved by Sudhakaran and Rajeev against a 2016 decision of a Judicial First Class Magistrate (JFCM) court rejecting their prayer to discharge them from the case. Allowing their appeal against the JFCM court order the Kerala High Court further noted that since there is a specific bar in instituting the second FIR, the prosecution against the petitioners (Sudhakaran and Rajeev) are vitiated, as it violates the rights of the petitioners including their fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, it has to be held that the registration of FIR in Crime No. 148/1997 (in Kerala) was not at all justifiable, and consequently, all further proceedings pursuant to the same are also not legally sustainable, the HC said. It also said that from the case records of the proceedings in Andhra Pradesh, the conspiracy charges were investigated and while a further probe was proposed against the petitioners, they were never chargesheeted. However, even if the same is treated as an instance of lack of proper investigation, still, the same would not justify the registration of a second FIR, but on the other hand, at the most, it could be a case where orders for further investigation in Crime 14/1995 of Chirala Railway Police Station should have been sought, it said. The second FIR in Kerala was registered on Jayarajan's complaint alleging that Sudhakaran and other accused met at Thycaud Guest House in Thiruvananthapuram back in 1995 and conspired to do away with the leaders of the CPI(M). In furtherance of the alleged conspiracy, revolvers were procured and one of the guns was used by one of the accused to shoot Jayarajan, the prosecution had claimed. One of the two accused, who were arrested by Andhra police in the case, was initially convicted by a Principal Assistant Sessions Court there for conspiracy and attempted murder. But an appellate court there had later found him not guilty of conspiracy and attempted murder and only convicted him under the Arms Act. The other accused, who allegedly shot at Jayarajan, in that case, died before he faced trial.

Deccan Chronicle 21 May 2024 3:20 pm

Kerala HC acquits KPCC chief K. Sudhakaran of conspiracy in E.P. Jayarajan firing case

Sudhakaran approached Kerala High Court seeking to quash the case after Additional Sessions Court had dismissed his plea

The Hindu 21 May 2024 1:17 pm

Kerala HC discharges KPCC chief Sudhakaran from case of conspiring to kill E P Jayarajan

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday discharged KPCC chief K Sudhakaran from a case accusing him of conspiring to kill some senior CPI(M) leaders, including present LDF convener E P Jayarajan back in 1995. The High Court discharged Sudhakaran and another accused in the case, Rajeevan, saying that the allegations of criminal conspiracy against them were already investigated by Andhra Pradesh police and therefore, a second FIR registered in Kerala on the same accusations was not justified. A case of criminal conspiracy and attempted murder was initially registered in Andhra Pradesh as Jayarajan was shot at and injured when the train he was travelling in was passing through Chirala area of that state. Justice Ziyad Rahman A A said that as the prosecution stories in both FIRs shared a single platform and the allegations were against the same persons, therefore, the case registered in Kerala has to be treated as a second FIR which is barred under the law. The Kerala High Court order came on a plea moved by Sudhakaran and Rajeev against a 2016 decision of a Judicial First Class Magistrate (JFCM) court rejecting their prayer to discharge them from the case. Kerala: Sudhakaran started bomb culture in Kannur says EP Jayarajan Allowing their appeal against the JFCM court order the Kerala High Court further noted that since there is a specific bar in instituting the second FIR, the prosecution against the petitioners (Sudhakaran and Rajeev) are vitiated, as it violates the rights of the petitioners including their fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, it has to be held that the registration of FIR in Crime No. 148/1997 (in Kerala) was not at all justifiable and consequently, all further proceedings pursuant to the same are also not legally sustainable, the HC said. It also said that from the case records of the proceedings in Andhra Pradesh, the conspiracy charges were investigated and while a further probe was proposed against the petitioners, they were never chargesheeted. However, even if the same is treated as an instance of lack of proper investigation, still, the same would not justify the registration of a second FIR, but on the other hand, at the most, it could be a case where, orders for further investigation in Crime 14/1995 of Chirala Railway Police Station should have been sought, it said. The second FIR in Kerala was registered on Jayarajan's complaint alleging that Sudhakaran and other accused met at Thycaud Guest House in Thiruvananthapuram back in 1995 and conspired to do away with the leaders of the CPI(M). In furtherance of the alleged conspiracy, revolvers were procured and one of the guns was used by one of the accused to shoot Jayarajan, the prosecution had claimed. One of the two accused, who were arrested by Andhra police in the case, was initially convicted by a Principal Assistant Sessions Court there for conspiracy and attempted murder. But an appellate court there had later found him not guilty of conspiracy and attempted murder and only convicted him under the Arms Act. The other accused, who allegedly shot at Jayarajan, in that case died before he faced trial.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 1:13 pm

Another mass fish kill in Periyar River in Kerala after suspected effluent release

Dead fish was found floating on a large-scale on the river from near Pathalam bund and downstream in Ernakulam district

The Hindu 21 May 2024 11:32 am

New Seltos replaces my BMW X3 for a 1250 km road trip: 5 observations

BHPian krishnan76 recently shared this with other enthusiasts. Hello everyone, This is my second post after buying a Kia Seltos GTX+ (Pewter Olive) in early January. The first piece was about my initial impressions of the car, and this one is after my first long trip with it-from Bengaluru to Kochi and back. The total distance covered during the trip was around 1250 km over four days in early April. We wanted to try this car for a long drive, giving our usual companion-the BMW X3-some rest. I will make this post in a semi-listicle format.Drive impression on highway: Seltos, from hereon the Ranger, is a super smooth vehicle with oodles of power on tap. The 160 bhp, 253 NM turbo petrol engine is a stonker as it pulls, pulls and pulls on. We never had to worry about a quick overtake of a long truck or a slew of slow-moving vehicles. The DCT-Engine combo is near perfect.AC performance: While we were quite happy with its performance in the city, we wanted to see how it works on a hot day on the highway. Wife was a bit sceptical because of the all-black interior of the car. But to our delight, the AC kept us very cool throughout the journey while operating generally around the 18-19 degrees range. Imagine the outside temperature was a scorching 36 degrees on our drive day. We didn't feel any of it inside the Ranger.ADAS: The driver assist systems worked well, particularly the lane-keeping assist and blind spot monitoring system. But you have to remember to turn the indicators on (right or left) before you change lanes for an overtake, or else the car will nudge you back to your original lane. The adaptive cruise control, too, worked nice, even though I didn't keep it on for very long.Headlight: We didn't drive too much at night, but the general feeling was that the throw could have been a tad better. By no means is it insufficient, but at times, you need a brighter flame to spot a speed-breaker or a curve along the road that bit better.Mileage: We managed to eke out between 15-17 km/l on highways around the trip. Of course, now the overall mileage across 3600+ kms stands at around 11 km/l. Good for us.Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Team-BHP 21 May 2024 10:38 am


KOCHI: As a nutritionist and wellness coach, I often get queries about the teas and its infinite variants. So, without rambling around much, here is a quick chai pe charcha for the day: Tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant There are numerous types of tea, based on how the leaves are processed green, white, black, oolong, etc. There are herbal teas as well that are made of dried flowers, fruits, herbs, etc. Benefits Tea is rich in antioxidant compounds such as catechins (mostly seen in green tea), theaflavins, thearubigins, and flavonoids. These antioxidants can neutralise free radicals and also help in reducing oxidative stress on our body. Tea polyphenols, particularly catechins in green tea and theaflavins in black tea, have been shown to lower LDL levels and improve the lipid profile. Some studies suggest that regular tea consumption is associated with a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases. L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea, can cross the blood-brain barrier and promote alpha wave production in the brain. This can help in achieving a state of relaxed alertness and improved attention. L-theanine, along with caffeine, can enhance cognitive function. Does tea contain caffeine? Yes, tea contains caffeine, although the amount varies depending on the type of tea and its preparation. Black tea has the highest amount of caffeine, while white tea has the least. The amount of caffeine can vary based on how long we brew the tea. Certain varieties, such as Assam black tea, naturally have higher caffeine levels compared to others varieties like Darjeeling. Coffee has 2 to 3 times more caffeine than tea. Note that herbal teas are caffeine-free, as they are made from flowers, fruits and herbs and not from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. How much tea is too much tea? While moderate tea consumption is generally healthy for most individuals, excessive intake can cause negative side effects such as anxiety, headaches, digestive problems,and sleep disturbances. Most people can safely enjoy 3 to 4 cups (710950 ml) of tea per day without issues, although some may experience side effects even at lower amounts. Individuals with higher sensitivity to caffeine may experience side effects like insomnia, jitteriness, increased heart rate, and digestive issues at lower levels of tea consumption. Such people need to consume fewer cups of tea, or switch to white/ decaffeinated tea that has lower caffeine content. Does tea help lose weight? Weight loss happens when you consume fewer calories than what you spend. Some studies suggest that certain compounds in tea can help reduce appetite, potentially leading to lower calorie intake. Catechins in tea may help boost metabolism, enhance fat oxidation, and improve insulin sensitivity. However, one should never consume tea as a means of losing weight or improving health. Effective weight loss and health improvement requires a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced and nutritious diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. The writer is CEO of NuvoVivo Centre for Obesity, Lifestyle Disorders & Research and SOLVEMyHealth, and author of The Midriff Crisis

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 9:09 am

Rain, rain.. blow away!

KOCHI: Summer showers are in full swing, serving as a prelude to the monsoon season just weeks away. While the rhythmic pitter-patter of rain offers reprieve from the sapping heat, it also calls for a fashion switch. Yes, fashion is not anymore the last thing on peoples minds when stepping out on a rainy day. Though not as popular as the spring and summer lines of clothing, designers and stylists assert that this is the season to experiment and brighten up your rainy wardrobe. The rainy season deserves a spot in fashion. Theres a lot of scope for experimentation, says fashion stylist Ammu Varghese. Malayalis are slowly moving beyond the priority of staying dry. Playing with colours and the fabric can be exciting even as dark clouds loom over the skies. For many, this is the best time to bring out the bright and neon prints. Hot pinks, red, orange, indigo, blues, fuchsia and tie-dyes, can help break the mundane. No matter how dampening the rains could get, theres always scope for an element of fun, says popular designer and Rouka founder Sreejith Jeevan. In one of his earlier monsoon editions, Sreejith brought out prints that evoke a sense of nostalgia paper boats, grandpa umbrellas, a cyclist balancing while pedalling, and leaf motifs were some of the prints. One can never go wrong with bold colours during the rainy season, he adds. Theres a free spirit during this season, and a style statement could be brought with creative use of colours and quirky prints. Orange is one of the flattering colours, and it gives a cheerful look. Darker shades of yellow exude warmth and vitality, and can take a bit of stains as well. Shades of blues would go well with the grey clouds blocking the clear skies out. Aquamarine can be a great pick, sure to please ones senses. Metallic shades like silver, copper, and gold, too, have takers. Well, the weather also demands functional fashion. Translucent raincoats allow one to show off outfits even when its pouring. Though not so common in Kerala, donning a trench coat, pocketable parka, and puffer jackets, can keep one warm and the outfits safe. Denim jackets, and denim fabric in general, can stay in the wardrobe. Denim takes forever to dry. It also gets heavy and uncomfortable once wet. Fabrics such as cotton, nylon, and polyester work well this season, says Mayzaideh Khalid, creative fashion stylist. Let your outfit speak for itself Oversized clothing, baggy jeans and mom jeans are going to be in vogue for some time and they fit well for this season, too. As casuals, parachute pants can be a constant for this season. Pairing it with a T-shirt or a loose fit tip and a funky cap, you are good to go, says Mayzaideh. She notes that co-ord sets have become a go-to choice for fashion enthusiasts. When paired with stylish boots, they can give a sophisticated evening look, and with clogs, a casual vibe, says Mayzaideh. Besides co-ord sets, knee-length dresses and Kaftans are also top choices. Jebin Johny, founder of clothing brand Jebsispar advises to avoid lengthy clothes. In Kerala, the majority dont dress according to the season. Though saris can be bothersome during rain, one can always drape them in chic ways like knee-length saris. When styled with boots, or peppy coloured crocs, it can make one stand out, he says. Sreejith also says that normal saris arent a good option for this weather. Put the pallu over your neck, and the pleats could be loose. Crop sweatshirts, cold shoulder tops, layering with jackets there are lots of possibilities with saris, he says. Accessories: Umbrellas to pashmina Umbrellas, of course, are one of the best accessories to level up any look during the rainy season. While vintage black umbrellas with wooden handles remain a classic choice, coloured ones neon shades, solid colours, polka dots can pep things up. Transparent umbrellas are another option for those who want it wacky yet simple. Even if you are not experimenting with the outfits, it is necessary to have at least one element to stand out. Umbrellas can do the trick, says Ammu. A pashmina shawl can be another great addition that can complement any look. Mayzaideh recommends accessories like clear and transparent bags work well for women. Puffer bags dry quickly, and also give a chic look, she adds. For men, Sooraj says, leather bags are an all-time classic. Woollen and synthetic ones with fine texture and designs also work well, he adds.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 9:06 am

This colony near Mattancherry is a melancholic ode to Mehboob

KOCHI: Established 20 years ago, Mehboob Park Colony in Kunnumpuram near Mattancherry, is named after the legendary playback singer H Mehboob, whose songs continue to enchant us even today. Mehboob was born in Pattalam nearby, and grew up in this region of Kochi. Mattancherry and Fort Kochi have several Mehboob fan clubs, and annual programmes are run to honour Bayi, known for songs such as Akaale aarum kaividum from the film 'Jeevitha Nouka' and Manennum vilikkila from 'Neelakkuyil'. Notably, Mehboobs songs were later remixed and featured in Malayalam films such as 'Usthaad' (1999), 'Annayum Rasoolum' (2013), and 'ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi' (2013). Originally a barren landmass, it was initially converted into a childrens park (Mehboob Park) before being turned into a colony, says former mayor K J Sohan. Hence the name Mehboob Park Colony. The place provided a community for people previously affected by homelessness and economic struggles. There are 68 families residing here. A K Abu, one of the colonys early inhabitants, says, Most of the communitys founder population belonged to the canoeists community who migrated from the Vanam colony due to financial and economic debts and insecurities. Currently, the inhabitants, including men and women, engage in daily wage occupations such as construction work, housekeeping, etc., to make a living. Mehboob Each colony resident occupies a 300sq.ft space and is responsible for paying their taxes and bills, except for water, which is provided free of charge by the government. Hassina Faizal, a fellow colony resident, says, The members reside under the guidelines of a drafted contract, which restricts them from leaving and selling their property. Even though the implementation of this colony initially provided solace to many in the area, a surge in population, lack of space and modern facilities have created a tumult of woes. A C Biju, a representative of the colony, highlights the need for better access to health care, and better atmosphere for children to grow up. Residents have pinned their hopes on the assurance of being relocated to new apartment complexes being built by the corporation and the Smart City Mission. Kochi MLA K J Maxi says, The corporation has initiated the construction of two apartment complexes through the schemes of CSML and RAY (Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana). Whats in a name Weekly column on the history of place names. Got any suggestions? Write to xpresskochi@gmail.com

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 9:04 am

Thousands pay tributes to Believers Church Metropolitan Yohan I

PATHANAMTHITTA: Braving the heavy rain, thousands gathered in Tiruvalla on Monday to bid farewell to Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan I, the Metropolitan of Believers Eastern Church. Metropolitan Yohan (formerly K P Yohannan) passed away on May 8 following a car accident in Texas, US. The body was brought to the Kochi airport early on Sunday, from where it was taken in a mourning procession that passed via Niranam, his birthplace, around 6.30pm. The mortal remains were kept at the Believers Convention Centre in Tiruvalla on Monday for the public to pay homage. Resident Bishop Joshua Mar Barnabas, Nepal Diocese Bishop Titus Mar Osthathios, Believers Eastern Church secretary Fr Danies Johnson and spokesperson Sijo Panthappallil were among the thousands of people who accompanied the funeral procession. Mondays public viewing was followed by late-night prayers and third-stage funeral services at the Church synod led by Chennai Diocese head Samuel Mar Theophilos Episcopa. Metropolitan Yohans son and US Diocese head Daniel Mor Timetheos, and other bishops, assisted the services. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Goa Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai, Ministers V N Vasavan, Saji Cherian , P Prasad, deputy speaker Chittayam Gopakumar, MPs K C Venugopal, Anto Antony, A M Ariff, Dean Kuriakose were among those who paid respects to the metropolitan. Funeral today Funeral of Mor Athanasius Yohan to be held on May 21 in Kerala At 9am on Tuesday, the seventh stage of funeral services will get underway. The procession with the metropolitans mortal remains to the St Thomas Believers Eastern Church Cathedral will begin at 10am, and the metropolitan will be laid to rest in a special tomb near the churchs madbaha (inner sanctum) at 11am. The funeral will be held with state honours.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 8:36 am

Hepatitis A claims third life in Ernakulam

KOCHI : The death toll from hepatitis A in the district has risen to three with the passing of 51-year-old Karthyayani on Monday. A resident of the 11th ward of Vengoor grama panchayat, Choorathodu, Karthyayani was undergoing treatment at the Kottayam Government Medical College Hospital. Earlier on May 7, Jolly Raju, another resident of Vengoor, also fell victim to hepatitis A. An official said that another hepatitis A-related death was reported in a neighbouring village. Kerala: Containment efforts shored up in Vengoor following spread of hepatitis A Meanwhile, the number of confirmed hepatitis A cases has now surged to 229 in Vengoor, with 33 patients currently undergoing treatment, said Silpa Sudheesh, panchayat president. The spike in cases is part of an unusual surge seen across the state this summer, attributed to contaminated food and water sources. This year alone, Kerala has reported a staggering 5,918 suspected cases, 2,116 confirmed cases, and 15 deaths from hepatitis A. With a month passed since the outbreak, affected residents find themselves grappling with financial strain. The local authorities and organisations have rallied to provide financial aid to the families of people affected by the disease, particularly those with members hospitalised. Over the past few days, weve conducted door-to-door fundraising efforts. Additionally, numerous non-governmental organisations, individuals, and associations have extended their support. We aim to distribute aid to affected families this week, said Silpa. The panchayat reported the first case of hepatitis A on April 17 and more cases were reported in the next week.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 8:29 am

Kerala: French MNC officials return as Left unions stage protest

KOCHI: At a time when the Pinarayi government is wooing big investments into the state, the officials of a French multinational company (MNC) which won the bid for a mega drinking water supply project in Kochi had to face the wrath of the Left trade unions. The company representatives, who arrived for discussions with Kerala Water Authority (KWA) in Kochi on Monday, were forced them to return without holding talks following protests. Representatives of Suez India, the Indian arm of Suez Group that won the Rs 2,511-crore project jointly implemented by the Asian Development Bank, Union government and KWA, faced protests from CITU and AITUC members, who alleged that the private firms business model would make drinking water unaffordable for common man. The project involves overseeing the water supply network and replacement of pipes in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. The trade union workers raised slogans and staged a blockade at the superintendent engineers cabin when three representatives from Suez India arrived at the office of the Ernakulam Water Authority executive engineer for discussions. Meeting aimed to negotiate rates We protested and blocked the managements attempt to hold talks with the company representatives keeping the corporation and public representatives in the dark, said M M George, CITU workers coordination council general secretary. The protest ended after the superintendent engineer promised that consultations would be held with the trade union workers, said George. Through the project, the company aims to make the drinking water supply a business. This will put the common man in trouble as drinking water will become a costly affair in future, he said. Meanwhile, a KWA official said the government has not approved the rates the company has quoted. Therefore, as per the state-level empowered committees direction, an initial negotiation meeting was supposed to be held with the representatives of Suez India. The meeting aimed to negotiate with the company and reduce the rates. However, the meeting couldnt be conducted after the trade union workers protested and the Suez representatives left the premises, he said. In November 2023, ADB approved a $170 million (Rs 1,416 crore) loan to support the modernisation of water supply services in Kochi. While the ADB loan will constitute 70% of the total amount, the remaining 30% will be borne by the state government. The project, titled Kerala Urban Water Supply Improvement Project, will be initially implemented in Kochi and will be later extended to Thiruvananthapuram. By entrusting it with a private company for 10 years, the project aims to modernise the water supply network and ensure uninterrupted drinking water, with a promised reduction of the water authoritys losses by 20 %.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 8:25 am

Red alert in three districts in Kerala on May 21

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state continues to be on high alert as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for three districts --- Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki --- until Tuesday. These districts are expected to receive extremely heavy rainfall of above 204.4mm. An orange alert has been issued for Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts till Tuesday. These districts are expected to receive rainfall between 115.6 mm to 204.4 mm. Kerala: Heavy rain in store as red alert in four districts till tomorrow Yellow alerts have been issued for Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod districts until Tuesday with an expected rainfall ranging between 64.5 mm and 115.5 mm. The IMD has advised fishermen not to venture into the sea till May 24. As per the IMD forecast, a cyclonic circulation lies over north Kerala and its neighbourhood between 1.5 km and 5.8 km above mean sea level. According to IMD, strong westerly/south-westerly winds at lower levels are likely to prevail over Kerala until May 24. Under this influence, widespread rainfall activity, including heavy to very heavy rainfall with isolated instances of extremely heavy rainfall, is highly probable over Kerala until Wednesday (May 22). On Wednesday, heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected in isolated areas, followed by heavy rainfall in isolated regions on May 24. The IMDs forecast also warns of thunderstorms accompanied by lightning and gusty winds, reaching speeds of 30-40 kmph, likely to occur at one or two places in the state on Tuesday. Similar thunderstorm activity, accompanied by lightning, is anticipated at one or two places in Kerala from Wednesday to Friday. Vehicles pass through a slushy waterlogged road in Kochi on Monday. As drains have not been cleaned, even arterial roads get inundated Rain forecast till May 24 RED ALERT Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki (till May 21) Pathanamthitta (May 22) ORANGE ALERT Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur (May 21) Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Idukki (May 22) Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta (May 23) YELLOW ALERT Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod (May 21) Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode (May 22) Kottayam, Ernakulam, and Idukki (May 23) Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kannur and Kasargod (May 24)

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 8:10 am

A monument of flopped policy, Vyttila flyover in Kochi fails to bridge aspirations

KOCHI: Vyttila flyover, hailed as a lasting solution to the traffic woes of one of the states busiest junctions, continues to fail to keep its promise, even three years after its inauguration. The junction is a major intersection that connects Ernakulam to two other districts Kottayam and Alappuzha. Despite its importance, it remained blighted by traffic congestion for a long time. The six-lane flyover was opened in 2021 promising to make life easier for the general public. The only thing the flyover has done so far is exacerbate the traffic congestion in and around Vyttila junction, especially during peak hours. People have to wait for more than 25 minutes to cross the 2km Ponnurunni-Vyttila stretch of Sahodaran Ayyappan road during peak hours, especially after 5pm. Once you cross the junction, the journey isnt made any easier, since the vehicles then have to tackle the bottlenecks along the Vyttila-Tripunithura stretch, till Thykoodam, says Gopakumar, who has been commuting from Tripunithura to Padma junction, via Vyttila, for around a decade. The congestion increased due to the provision of free left turns onto the Vyttila-Palarivattom stretch. While this could have been a suitable solution to ensure the free flow of traffic, the two-lane roads arent wide enough for vehicles on the main lane to adjust to facilitate the free left, he added. Moreover, the flyover itself sees very little traffic, even during rush hour. Francis, an auto rickshaw driver, who has been plying the route since 2016 says, Very few motorists use the flyover. As a result, the issue of traffic congestion at the junction has remained unresolved. Along with this, motorists who travel under the flyover rarely adhere to rules. The flyover has done nothing to sort out the traffic problems. Rather, it feels like the issues have been magnified. Vyttila junction was better without the flyover, he added. Following complaints and public uproar, there have been attempts by authorities to address the concerns. Traffic has been a longstanding issue in Vyttila. There have been attempts to sort it out. PWD, NHAI and local self-government authorities came together to conduct a joint study last month. The report has been submitted to the government, Kochi deputy commissioner K S Sudarsan said.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 8:02 am

Parking headache: Visitors to Kochi corporation, general hospital grapple with fines

KOCHI : Visitors to the Kochi corporation and the General Hospital are struggling to find parking space, often resulting in fines for parking in restricted areas. Inadequate signage and unexpected restrictions further complicate the situation. P Sujith Menon, a resident of Giri Nagar, recently received a fine for parking his scooter in front of the corporation office. Expressing frustration, he questioned the effectiveness of traffic control methods in the absence of proper signage.There is no signboard indicating a parking restriction. Most vehicles parked on the footpath under no-parking signs are not fined. Is this a new method of traffic control, he asked. Despite raising concerns with the city police commissioner and the deputy commissioner overseeing the traffic department, Sujith received no concrete solution. However, Traffic Circle Inspector S Nissam refuted claims of unfair fines, emphasising the importance of using designated parking spaces to maintain a smooth traffic flow.Considering the area is busy, most institutions functioning here provide their own parking slots. Failure to use these or choosing street parking may result in a fine. It is our duty to enforce regulations, he said, pointing out the parking on the Kaloor-Kadavanthra road. S Shankar Ganesh, an employee with a private firm in Edappally, highlighted congestion issues at key junctions like Edappally, Kadavanthra, Kalamassery, Vyttila and Panampilly Nagar. Even one vehicle parked improperly can cause significant delays, especially near traffic signals, he pointed out. Kochi Mayor M Anilkumar acknowledged space constraints at the corporation office. The building was constructed around 67 years ago and must accommodate the vehicles of staff and councillors. The issue may be resolved after relocating to a new office building, he said. The Mayor recommended reducing unnecessary visits to the corporation office and using public transportation to help alleviate the problem. Excessive reliance on private vehicles contributes to the citys traffic issues, he added.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 7:59 am

Sudhakaran appears before Kerala High Court

KOCHI : State Congress president K Sudhakaran on Monday appeared before the Kerala High Court in a contempt case initiated following his controversial remarks against a division bench which was quashed by a single judges order directing a CBI probe into the murder of Youth Congress leader Shuhaib. Sudhakaran, while inaugurating the Congress Chavakkad police station march, had said that the judge who set aside the order lacked sense. He also alleged that such a disgusting and below-standard order had never been issued. When the contempt case came up for hearing, the division bench directed Sudhakaran to file an affidavit on or before June 24. A division bench comprising Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice Harishankar V Menon issued the order on the petition filed by advocate Janardhana Shenoy K seeking to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the Congress leader. Shenoy argued that any statement against the judge has to be viewed seriously as it is tantamount to raising an imputation against the judicial system.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 7:55 am

Jisha murder: Kerala High Court confirms death sentence to Assam native

KOCHI : Observing that the rape and murder of Jisha, an LLB student, at Perumbavoor in 2016 was a cold-blooded murder without provocation, the Kerala High Court on Monday confirmed the death sentence awarded to Muhammed Ameer-Ul-Islam, an Assam native. Jisha murder case: Kerala High Court confirms death penalty to Assam native Ameer-Ul-Islam While upholding the capital punishment, a division bench comprising Justice P B Suresh Kumar and Justice S Manu said, The facts are deeply disturbing and represent an egregious violation of human dignity and sanctity of life, for after committing rape in an inhumane manner, the victim has also been murdered horrendously. Its impact on society was profound and far-reaching as it instilled not only fear but also a sense of vulnerability, particularly amongst women. The Bench also said the incident eroded the trust reposed in institutions responsible for ensuring public safety. The judges concluded the 112-page verdict with Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyns statement Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole humanity. Jisha, a 30-year-old law student from a Scheduled Caste family, was found raped and murdered at her house in Kuruppampady near Perumbavoor on April 28, 2016. Ameer-Ul-Islam, a migrant worker from Assam, was arrested on June 16 that year. The postmortem report revealed that Jisha was raped before being killed, with 38 wounds found on her body. Muhammed Ameer-Ul-Islam Special Public Prosecutor N K Unnikrishnan, who succeeded in proving the rape and murder before the court by producing documentary and material evidence, argued that the sentence of death was warranted and rightly awarded by the trial court. The Bench said the acts of brutality committed by the accused on the body of the victim to cause her death can only be regarded as acts committed out of frustration, aggression and vengeance as also to evade the law and get rid of the criminal liability. In a case of this nature, society would certainly approve the awarding of the death sentence, especially since the victim was a young lady who was forced to live in a structure on the side of the public road on account of her impoverished social background, and the crime was one committed within the premises of her shelter. Needless to say, the death sentence awarded to the accused is liable to be confirmed and we do so, the Bench said.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 7:52 am

Gangster roams free after turning massive mob against Kerala cops to flee

KOCHI: Police are groping in the dark on the whereabouts of a gangster 10 days after a 150-strong mob made an audacious attack on three police officers from Kochi in Poolenkara, Kozhikode, and freed the accused, who is a member of a car theft gang. For the police team -- sub inspector Dharmarathnam A K and two other policemen of Njarackal police station in Kochi -- it was a terrifying one-hour experience after the mob held them hostages when they reached Poolenkara on May 9 to nab an accused in a vehicle theft case.By the time the mob realised that it was a police operation, the accused who was a member of a car theft gang managed to give cops the slip. The events unfolded in the afternoon of May 9 when the three-member police team led by Dharmarathnam reached Poolenkara to nab a person named Shiyas, who is a co-accused in a caseaboutthe theft of a car taken on lease from Arattuvazhi beach near Njarackal on April 28. We first reported our purpose of visit at Pantheerankavu police station as Poolenkara came under its jurisdiction. Later, based on the information regarding the presence of Shiyas in Poolenkara, we reached there by 7 pm. I was in uniform and the other two members were in civil dress. We saw Shiyas standing at a junction in Poolenkara. We reached him and asked him to accompany us to the police station as part of the probe. However, as we were shifting him to the police vehicle, he made a loud cry for help, said Dharmarathnam. What unfolded later at Poolenkara junctionwas unprecedented for Dharmarathnam and the other two cops in their police career. People came from all directions and gathered around us. There were nearly 100-150 people who circled us. We told them that we were policemen from Ernakulam and we wanted to take Shiyas to Njarackal as part of the investigation in a theft case. But they were not ready to listen. Then they started questioning us. They repeated questions on our purpose of visit and whether we were real policemen. We were completely cornered by the group, he said. Meanwhile, themob thrashed a civil police officer Bimal Raj who resisted the mobs efforts to free Shiyas from custody. They did not touch Dharmarathnam as he was in police uniform. Initially we tried to make people understand that we were policemen. But when we realised that they wouldnt hear us, we decided to stand calm. We stood there for about 45 minutes after which the striking team from Pantheerankavu police station arrived. With the help of additional policemen, the mob was dispersed within 15 minutes. The injured Bimal Raj was later shifted to a police station. In recent years, incidents related to intolerance towards policemen are rising. There are frequent incidents of disrupting police personnel from performing their duty. What disappoints us most is that Shiyas managed to escape when the mob rounded us. We dont know whether the mob knew that he was involved in a criminal case. We came to know that Shiyas is likely to surrender before court soon, he said. Jayarajan Mavoli, councillor of Olavanna panchayat representing Poolenkara ward said that the incident took place after people mistook cops for goons. He said an all-party meeting was held at Pantheerankavu police station after the incident and a decision was taken to cooperate with the investigation conducted into the mob incident. We did not know that the person for whom the cops came here was involved in a criminal case. He was a driver by profession. When three men forced Shiyas into their vehicle, people mistook it for an abduction attempt. It was when policemen from Pantheerankavu reached the place that people realised that it was a police operation. People were saddened that due to their irresponsible response, a person wanted in a criminal case managed to escape, he said. The turn of events A Gulf returnee, Sajeesh, 32, of Cherai, had taken a car on lease from a Ponnani native for Rs two lakh in December 2023 to use the vehicle for journeys as part of his marriage. Just a day before the marriage, the car parked at Arattuvazhi beach was stolen between 9 am and 9.30 am. There was a gold ring and Rs three lakh inside the vehicle, according to him. Following a complaint, Njarackal police registered a case the same day and started a probe. During the probe, police found that the stolen car was taken towards Kozhikode. On the way to Kozhikode, the vehicle stopped in front of a shop in Munambam. A person who was in the car handed over a mobile phone to the shopkeeper telling him that his friend would pick up the mobile phone later. From the CCTV footage collected as part of the investigation, we found that Shiyas had reached the shop and collected the mobile phone. It was later confirmed by the shopkeeper. Thus we reached Poolenkara to nab Shiyas, a police official said. Police are also in search of the Ponnani native who leased the car to Sajeesh.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 7:36 am

Kathakali is riding the winds of change

KOCHI : Kathakali, the classical dance that portrays stories from the epics through facial expressions, hand gestures and complex footwork, to the accompaniment of music, has for long remained an esoteric art form. However, a group of artists is trying to democratise the traditional dance drama by making it more dramatic and interactive. This is besides a new league of poets attempting to contemporise it with their verse. Kathakali has the image of being abstruse. We have to make it more interactive to make it relevant, says Kerala Kalamandalam dean K B Rajanand. Characters like the carpenter of Bakavadham have been created to make it enjoyable for people who are not well versed with the intricacies of the art. Recently, there is the trend of staging Sampoorana Ramayanam, incorporating various scenes from around eight plays based on the Ramayana. Sri Rama Pattabhishekam is being staged as part of Ramayana month in some places involving around 10 characters. There is more demand for Kuchelavritham as it is being staged as part of Bhagavata saptaham. I think bhakti is a way for kathakali to stay connected to the common man, he noted. A scene from Sundopasundam kathakali Impressing with improv Kottakkal Devadas, a star performer of red-beard characters, has been acclaimed for his improvised portrayal of Dushasana of Duryodhana Vadham, Sugreevan and Bali of Bali Vadham, Kali of Nalacharitham, Narasimham of Prahlada Charitham and Jarasandha of Rajasooyam. His performances as the carpenter of Bakavadham and Mallan of Keechakavadham have won him much praise. He mimicked a crow while playing Sugreevan of Bali Vadham recently. It was mind blowing. While performing the visit of Dushasana to Indraprastha, he demonstrates the performance of percussion artists, which was also mesmerising, says Sivaprasad, a kathakali enthusiast based in Gujarat, who regularly visits Kerala to witness performances. While improvising, one must ensure that the performance does not spoil the dimensions of the situation and the character. The art form should change according to the time and the taste of people. The youth never used to enjoy watching kathakali. Now, more young women are coming forward to learn the dance form. Even if they dont continue as artists they will at least be admirers of the art. Thadi purappadu, the synchronised performance of red-beard characters, has gained much popularity. It was introduced by Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboothiri in 2008. Such changes will make kathakali more interesting, says Devadas. Among the new plays is Gurudeva Mahatmyam, written by Kalamandalam Ganesan. If kathakali was seen as the art of Brahmins and Nairs, Gurudeva Mahatmyam has taken the art to the Ezhava community, as it is based on the life of Sree Narayana Guru. The play is being staged in the southern districts at temples owned by the SNDP Yogam. It tells the story of the Gurus fight against social evils and the installation of a Shiva idol at Aruvippuram temple. It has had such an emotional connect that people even approach me to touch my feet seeking blessings, says Pallipuram Sunil, who has donned the role of the Guru on more than 50 stages. A scene from Mohini Vijayam kathakali Caste bias misleading The allegation of caste discrimination in kathakali is misleading. There are artists from all communities. Kalamandalam John runs a kathakali school at Cheruthuruthi and Kalamandalam Ebin Babu is a prominent actor in central Kerala. He has been actively promoting plays like Magdalana Mariam and Divya Karunya Charitham, says Kalamandalam Prasanth, who has played the Guru on more than 100 stages. A new kathakali play was staged at Pallipuram Thiruvairanikulam Kalathil temple on May 5 which was widely appreciated. Sundopasundam is based on the story of Sunda and Upasunda, two powerful asura brothers who shared a strong bond. They spent years in penance and received a boon from Brahma that their death can only be at each others hands. Brahma proceeds to create Thilothama, a celestial nymph, and the two brothers fall for her beauty and kill themselves in the fight to win her hand. I wrote Sundopasundam during the pandemic. The story is dramatic and has more theatrical impact as two kathi (evil) characters perform simultaneously on stage. I am working on two more verses based on Jalandharan and Mayoorasandesam by Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran, says Pallipuram K Ramachandran, author of the dance drama. Fresh approaches Among the new stories, Malis Karna Sapadham is a huge hit while Vaikom Rajasekharans Arjuna Vishadavrutham is gaining popularity. Mohini Vijayam, a new story also penned by Rajasekharan, explores the ragas in Carnatic music that have not been used in kathakali till date. It speaks about Bhasmasura who was granted the boon reduce people to ashes by merely touching their head. The story in which Vishnu incarnates as Mohini to eliminate the asura is the basic theme. The verses are rich in poetic quality and there is enough space for the artist to display his talent. There is a reluctance among kathakali enthusiasts to accept new stories. But if the story is rich in poetry and has musical quality, it will survive. I have taken care to make the story unique by providing much space for improvisation, says Rajasekharan.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 7:26 am

Cops expose international racket with Kerala links, say youths flown to Iran for kidney harvesting

KOCHI: Police have exposed an international organ trafficking racket with Kerala links, with the probe finding that several youths from Hyderabad and Bengaluru were trafficked to Iran for kidney transplantation. The shocking revelations followed the arrest of a Thrissur native and the detention of another in Kochi over the past two days. The racket is believed to have lured scores of people from financially weak sections to donate organs abroad. As per the statements of the arrested person, a few people who were taken to Iran for organ donation died there. Central agencies, including NIA, are also investigating the case, and they have completed the preliminary probe, said sources. While Sabith Nasar , 30, of Valapad in Thrissur a suspected member of the organ trafficking racket was arrested from the Kochi airport on Sunday, another youth, a Kochi native, who allegedly assisted Sabith, was taken into custody and interrogated by the police on Monday. Sabith, who has been remanded in judicial custody, reportedly confessed to police that he took 20 people from India to Iran for organ harvesting. As per the remand report in possession of TNIE , Sabith told the police that he was part of a racket recruiting people from India for kidney transplantation illegally. Youths from Hyderabad and Bengaluru were recruited to Iran as kidney donors, said the report produced by the police before the Angamaly Judicial First Class Magistrate Court on Monday. Irans legal backing motivates traffickers The recruited youths were admitted to a private hospital in Iran, where they donated kidneys to suitable recipients. They were then treated for three days at the hospital. Subsequently, the donors were provided a 20-day stay at a flat and then flown back to India, the report said. The donors are paid up to Rs 6 lakh for the donation. He confessed that Shameer, a youth from Thirunellayi in Palakkad, had donated a kidney this way about six months ago, said the report. Shameer was facing a severe financial crisis and may have donated a kidney to settle his debts, it said. Meanwhile, officers said more arrests are likely in connection with the case. Accuseds fin dealings under scanner The Nedumbassery police, who interrogated the youth taken into custody, have not recorded his arrest yet. According to sources, the police will also interrogate a Valapad native, who was a roommate of Sabith in Kochi. Investigators said the financial dealings and links of Sabith in Kerala will be investigated in detail, considering the international implications of the case. Though Sabith confessed that he recruited 20 people from the country to Iran for organ donation, the police are looking into whether more people were lured by the accused. Sources said the racket also included some people from Hyderabad.Sabith told the police that he first acquainted himself with a Hyderabad native in connection with kidney donation for a Delhi native, and subsequently met others who took him into the organ trade. The police have begun an investigation into these suspected persons.The police also suspect that Sabith recruited some migrant workers arriving in Kerala with fake Aadhar and other identity cards to Iran for the organ deal. Sabith has been charged under Section 370 of the IPC (human trafficking) and Section 19 of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (commercial dealings with human organs). He was arrested upon his arrival from Iran via Kuwait on Sunday. Officials from the Bureau of Immigration detained him on suspicion of being part of network trafficking vulnerable individuals for organ harvesting and transplantation and handed him over to police.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 7:21 am

Irans legal backing motivates traffickers

KOCHI: The Iranian governments compensation scheme for organ donors and the legal backing it provides could have motivated organ trafficking rackets to transport people from weaker sections in India to Tehran, say experts. In 1988, Iran legalised living non-related donation (LNRD) of kidneys and established an associated transplantation system. This government-organised system regulated and funded the transplantation process and compensated donors, mentions Paying kidney donors: Time to follow Iran? a 2008 study published by Rupert WL Major in McGill Journal of Medicine. Iran is the lone country to have passed the LNRD scheme. From bakeries to organ trade: Sabiths story stuns sleuths Regulated paid donor kidney transplants in Iran number around 1,500 per year, and constitute 70% of the total transplants. Graft survival rates are similar to those for living-related donors. The donors are paid $1,200, and additional monies are negotiated between the recipient-donor pair, says another journal, Regulated compensated donation in Pakistan and Iran, published in 2009. A senior health department official says the LNRD scheme was a result of increasing demand for organs. There is organ shortage worldwide, including in developed countries. Several recipients are on the waiting list. The situation is similar in India as well as Kerala, said the official. The LNRD scheme, said another official, is likely to have encouraged organ traffickers too. In India, commercial dealings in human organs are prohibited under Section 19 of The Transplantation Of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994, and punishes people involved in commercial trade of human organs with at least two years in jail and a fine of at least Rs 10,000.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 7:13 am

From bakeries to organ trade: Sabiths story stuns sleuths

KOCHI: The transformation of Thrissur native Sabith Nasar, who was recently arrested from Kochi airport, from a bakery worker in Kerala to a key player in an international organ trafficking racket in Iran has astonished probe officers. As per the information collected by the officers, Sabith, 30, of Korukulathu house at Edamuttam in Thrissurs Valapad, had been working in bakeries since 2017, after securing a diploma in civil engineering. He later moved to Kochi and took up various jobs before relocating to Iran in 2019 to assist patients with organ transplants at a hospital in Tehran. Sources said during his time in Iran, Sabith began arranging donors for kidney transplants and got involved in the organ trade network. He then established connections with a Hyderabad native for kidney trade in Sri Lanka and a Kochi resident, they said. Sabith is learnt to have told the police that financial difficulties forced him to try donating his kidney in 2019. However, upon realising he could make more money by recruiting other donors, he became an agent for the racket. It was his frequent journeys to countries like Iran since 2019 that triggered suspicion among Bureau of Immigration officials, who then placed him under surveillance of central agencies. Sabith is suspected of luring financially distressed persons to donate organs abroad, after making them believe that the entire process is legal. The donors received meagre amounts compared to the huge sums that racketeers collected from recipients abroad. The police have recovered documents from his mobile phones corroborating organ trade reports. Sabith himself confessed to recruiting and taking 20 people, one from Palakkad and the rest from north Indian states, to Iran. Officers said though Sabith moved out of his house in Valappadu in 2019, he continued to list it as his permanent address. After his wife left him following a family feud, Sabith frequently rented houses at various locations and stayed with his sister, travelling in and out of the state before moving abroad, they said. As per his statement, people from eight states were recruited to Iran. He has been staying there for the past five years. He took a commission of Rs 5 lakh per donation, while the donor received only about Rs 10 lakh. He also allegedly used a forged passport and Aadhaar documents to transport the donors. An inquiry is under way, said an officer. The police said a detailed interrogation of Sabith is required. They said they will also probe how he obtained a passport using the address in Thrissur despite not living there. The police said an organ trade deal is finalised for between Rs 50 lakh and several crores, even as the donor receives just Rs 5-10 lakh.

The New Indian Express 21 May 2024 7:06 am

Fishermen warned against venturing into sea

The Hindu 20 May 2024 9:08 pm

Death sentence will serve as deterrent to rapists and murderers and provide a sense of security to women: Kerala HC

Bench endorses view of principal sessions court that rape and murder of law student at Perumbavoor was a rarest of the rare case warranting death sentence

The Hindu 20 May 2024 8:46 pm

Hepatitis A claims one more life in Vengoor

The Hindu 20 May 2024 8:05 pm

Kerala HC dismisses AAP plea in Kodakara case

AAP had sought directive to Centre and ED in black money case allegedly involving BJP leaders

The Hindu 20 May 2024 6:38 pm

Rain lashes Kochi city, suburbs

The Hindu 20 May 2024 6:29 pm

Shifted to Bangalore with Jimmy: Adventures with mountain goat contd.

BHPian blueberry recently shared this with other enthusiasts. I moved cities to Bangalore this month. Had the Jimny sent over in a car carrier. Loaded the car with some household stuff I wanted shipped. Went ahead with a trusted Packers & Movers service. They handle movement for BPCL officers on transfer. They do quality work & are very professional. I was charged Rs 23K for transporting the vehicle from Gurgaon to Bangalore.Daily updates on where the vehicle had reached.I could drive the vehicle into the carrier myself & got to pick the spot inside the car carrierTotal journey time = 6 days.P.S. My only relation with these folks is that I'm a happy repeat customer. No commercial relationship whatsoever. 3 of our recent relocations have been done with them, we have only wonderful things to say about these guys. Kochi based: Woodpacker Relocation. They recommend local players in other states as well & I only had to deal with the Woodpackers folks. Number: +91 9339498899 The Jimny was unloaded at a dusty yard and needed a wash before I could journey from Bangalore. The car looks blue only under the sun, when freshly washed. Else it's got more of a blackish tone.Wish the Jimny had a higher blue colour content and less of the black.I was surprised to see water being used for washing cars in Bangalore. With the current water scarcity, makes more sense to go the water-less wash route from the next time.I drove down to Coimbatore. The first long distance highway drive with the Jimny. I decided to take the Mettur dam route for a bit of sightseeing.After the recent rains, the dam has 52ft water (capacity of 120ft). Eastern ghats on one side The Kaveri river on the other side This was downstream from the Mettur dam. The outflow is much higher than the inflow. (50 Cusecs inflow v/s 500 Cusecs outflow) My hypothesis is, the discharge is for drinking water consumption downstream What I enjoyed on the highway:80Kmph is easy to reach. Though the 80-100 acceleration is slow.Comfortable cruising speed is 90Kmph - with enough reserve to go till 100-105 for overtakes.The suspension is comfortable over rumble strips - can hardly feel them. There is no need to slow down for road imperfections.Body roll is controlled at high speed corners if the steering inputs are measured and smooth.15 Kmpl efficiency while cruising at 90-100KmphWhat bothered me on the highway:Cruising at 120Kmph on the new highways are not possible with the Jimny. It needs 50hp more and a taller 6th gear.The lesser power also means overtaking long vehicles on 2 lane roads requires planning.Lack of storage space for water bottles & snacks.Absence of rear parcel tray - constant worry when the car is parked with luggage in the boot.One doesn't normally pick the Jimny for highway runs - unless the road leads to a bit of off-roading or to the hills. Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Team-BHP 20 May 2024 4:40 pm

Air India plane forced to make an emergency landing after its engine erupted into flames, with 179 passengers on board

An Air India Express aircraft carrying passengers from Pune to Kochi caught fire in Bengaluru, resulting in an emergency evacuation of 179 passengers, including six crew members, who were stranded in the Karnataka capital for almost thirteen hours. Smoke was seen coming from the engine, leading to an evacuation with slides being deployed.

The Economic Times 20 May 2024 4:12 pm

Travel tips: These unknown tourist places of India give an exciting feeling of travelling, make a trip here

Whenever it comes to traveling somewhere, people like to choose places where everything like peace, beautiful views, adventure, and entertainment come together, and can enjoy the food, culture, and history there. In such a situation, people reach famous tourist places at the behest of others. But nowadays it is seen that there is a lot of crowd in such places due to which the fun of traveling gets spoiled. In such a situation, today we are going to tell you about some unknown tourist places in the country where very few people go and you can spend time freely here. The beauty of these tourist places will force you to come here again. Let's talk about these unknown tourist places... Nagtal, Uttarakhand Nagtal district, situated amidst dense forest three km above Phata in Kedarghati of Uttarakhand, is emerging as a new center of tourism. A plan has been made by the Tourism Department for the promotion of this beautiful place. Besides, the Phata-Jammu-Nagtal trekking route is also being developed. The ancient ashram of Maharishi Jamdagni and the temple of Nantoli Devi are also on this trekking route. It is believed that Lord Parashuram was born at this place. From here, the Himalayan mountain ranges can be seen in person. To reach Nagtal, tourists will have to reach Phata via Rudraprayag-Gaurikund Highway. At a walking distance of about three kilometers from here, there is Nagtal filled with clear water throughout the year. Also, there is a dense forest of cedar and other species of trees all around. Jukhu Valley, Nagaland Along with its natural beauty, Jukhu Valley located in Nagaland is famous for adventure. People once considered Jokhu Valley lifeless and uninhabited. But now looking at the lush green mountains, blue sky, and the river running through the middle, it feels as if we have reached heaven. This is a great place for those who want peace. Agatti Island, Lakshadweep Agatti Island is located about 250 kilometers away from the coast of Kochi. This island, about 7 kilometers long and spread over an area of 3.84 square kilometers, is a wonderful gift of nature. The blue water spread far and wide, the sun shining in the sky and the colorful fishes add to its beauty. From Chennai, Kochi, and Bengaluru you can take direct flights to Agatti Island of Lakshadweep. Kaas Plateau, Maharashtra Kaas Plateau is situated at a distance of about 137 kilometers from Pune. It is one of the most peaceful places in the country. Various types of colorful flowers grow automatically on this plateau. You will be mesmerized after seeing this view. Thousands of migratory birds can also be seen in Kaas Lake. Here you can also see the Theseghar Falls falling from a height. If you want to see the Valley of Flowers from above, then you will have to trek to Sajjangarh. Tosh, Himachal Pradesh Tosh is a small village in Himachal Pradesh, which is becoming a tourist destination. The beauty of this village situated in Parvati Valley is worth seeing. There are many places to visit around it also. There are beautiful views all around and a cup of tea or coffee, what could be better than this. It is present everywhere in Tosh. Chatpal, Kashmir No one would have described the beauty of Chatpal village. This is one of the most beautiful offbeat tourist places in Kashmir. It is located in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the best place to spend some quality time with family and friends in the lap of nature, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Apart from this, a short trek into the forests around Chatpal can be a pleasant experience for adventure lovers. If you want to enjoy snowfall, then coming here can be a good option. Auroville, Puducherry Puducherry is known as a peaceful place. Auroville, located in Puducherry, is an experimental township spread over an area of 20 square kilometers. This place teaches a long-term lifestyle with communal living. Those searching for spirituality must visit here. Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh Kalpa is one of those places in North India where there is no dearth of offbeat destinations. Kalpa in Kinnor district in the upper region of Himachal Pradesh is a place that is great for summer holidays. This city of Satluj river that is surrounded by apple orchards and dense pine forests. There are many treks around this city of Himachal Pradesh that you can enjoy. (PC: Lifeberrys)

Kalam Times 20 May 2024 4:03 pm

Kerala HC upholds death sentence in 2016 Dalit law student rape-murder case

Kerala High Court Kerala High Court Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the death sentence given by a sessions court to the perpetrator, Ameerul Islam, in the 2016 rape and murder of a 30-year-old Dalit law student in the state. A division bench of the high court upheld the death penalty, dismissing the appeal filed by the convict challenging the sessions court verdict. The confirmation of the capital punishment was also made based on the death sentence reference from the sessions court. Islam was charged with raping and murdering the woman at Perumbavoor on April 28, 2016. He brutally assaulted the woman, who hailed from a poor family, using sharp-edged weapons before murdering her at her house. In 2017, the Ernakulam Principal Sessions court awarded the death penalty to Islam, a migrant labourer from Assam, for committing the murder. Islam was found guilty by the sessions court under various sections of the IPC, including 449 (house trespass to commit an offence punishable with death), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 302 (murder), 376 (rape), and 376 (A) (causing death or causing the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state while committing rape). The Special Investigation Team that probed the case used DNA technology and verification of call record details to prove Islam's role in the crime. Islam, who had left Perumbavoor soon after committing the crime, was arrested from Kancheepuram in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, 50 days after he committed the gruesome crime. More than 100 police personnel questioned over 1,500 people in the case. Fingerprints of over 5,000 people were also examined by the SIT personnel, who went through over 20 lakh telephonic conversations before tracing Islam.

Deccan Chronicle 20 May 2024 3:28 pm

Jisha murder case: Kerala High Court confirms death penalty to Assam native Ameer-Ul-Islam

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the death sentence awarded to Muhammed Ameer-Ul-Islam, a convict in the LLB student, Jisha rape-and-murder case. The order was passed by a division bench of Justices PB Suresh Kumar and S Manu. The gruesome murder of the Dalit law student took place at Perumbavoor in 2016. About a year later, the Ernakulam principal district and sessions court awarded the death penalty to Ameer ul-Islam on December 2017. He is the sole accused in the case. The Division Bench termed it as the 'rarest of the rare' cases. It also dismissed the appeal filed by the convict against the death sentence. Jisha, a Dalit law student was found dead in her house on April 28, 2016, around 8.30 pm with grievous wounds and her intestines pulled out, at her residence at Kuruppampady near Periyarvalley canal bund 'Purampokku'. According to the prosecution, the girl had studied up to LLB, despite hailing from a poor family. She was living with her mother, who worked as a casual labourer. Her house was made of unpolished bricks and roofed with asbestos sheet, located on the side of an irrigation canal owned by the Government. While she was alone at her residence and waiting for her mother, the accused barged into her residence fully drunk, with a bottle of liquor and a knife to commit sexual assault and eventually ended up murdering her. After committing the murder, he escaped to his home state, Assam, by train from Aluva railway station. Whenthe accused was proceeding to Assam by train, he also threw away the bloodstained clothes worn by him at the time of occurrence and thereby destroyed one of the pieces of evidence connected with the crime. Later, the Kerala police arrested him and produced him before the court on June16, 2016. The trial court found guilty for the offence under Section 342 (trespass), 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (rape), 376 (a) causing death or resulting in the persistent vegetative state of the victim), and 302 (murder) of IPC. The prosecution had argued that the crime was committed so brutally and it shocks not only the judicial conscience but even the conscience of the society. The prosecutor cited the Dhananjoy Chatterjee case and the Nirbhaya case to substantiate its contention. The Perumbavur rape and murder case is considered similar to the Nirbhaya case, going by its brutality. It's similar to the Nirbhaya case. Piercing of the weapon on the victim's genitals reveals his perverted mindset. Hence the accused does not deserve any sympathy or leniency, the prosecution argued. Here's the timeline for high-profile rape and murder case: April 28: Jisha found murdered at her residence in Iringole near Kurrupampady at 8 pm April 29: Autopsy done at Alappuzha medical college and body cremated at public crematorium April 30: Special investigation team formed to probe murder May 4: Postmortem report reveals that Jisha was raped before being killed and there were 38 wounds on her person; four persons taken into custody May 8: From bite marks on the body of Jisha, police find there were wide gaps between front teeth of murderer May 14: Police get DNA samples of murderer from samples collected from objects including Jishas dress May 26: Investigation team reconstituted June 2: Sketch of suspect released June 10: Police team gets video footage from a CCTV camera near a fertilizer shop in which Jisha and a person wearing an yellow shirt were seen June 13: Cyber cell tracks IMEI number of murderers phone, team deployed to trace him June 16: Accused arrested

The New Indian Express 20 May 2024 3:23 pm

'Should Bengaluru, Kochi get back everything they contribute?': Sitharaman calls tax revenue distribution narrative 'absolutely distorted'

In February this year, Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal said the southern state got only Rs 21 for every Rs 100 collected by the state in tax revenue while Uttar Pradesh was getting Rs 46.

Business Today 20 May 2024 2:50 pm

As LDF Govt hits 3-yr mark, CM highlights feats of Kochi Water metro, highways, industrial growth

Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, leading the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, celebrated the state's three-year progress. Achievements include advancements in the IT sector, startup industry, and public welfare schemes, showcasing Kerala as a model for governance and quality of life.

The Economic Times 20 May 2024 2:35 pm

Overseas demand lift orthodox tea prices in Kochi auctions

Of the offered quantity of 1,14,678 kg, the sold percentage was 91, the auctioneers Forbes, Ewart & Figgis said

The Hindu Businessline 20 May 2024 12:41 pm

Residents demand underpass at Nettoor ahead of rail doubling

KOCHI: Amid the rising demand for an underpass at the Nettoor railway gate, barely a kilometre from the NH 66, the mobility of people living in the nearly 600 houses in the Ambalakadavu and North Colony wards of Maradu municipality continues to be severely restricted. Coupled with the frequent closure of the railway gate, the absence of the underpass has been making lives difficult for the numerous people for whom the path through the railway gate serves as the main link to the city. Other than the ferry service, the Ambalakadavu Road that reaches NH 66 provides the main access to the city for residents sandwiched between the railway track and the backwaters. However, frequent closure of the gate makes travelling a tough task for us, said V V George, who resides near the railway gate. The residents said the proposed doubling of the Ernakulam-Alappuzha coastal railway line will compound their problems owing to the spike in the number of train services. George said the situation turns especially bad during a medical emergency, as they have to go for a alternative route, which is 2km longer, to another junction. The other exits available are narrow, meaning there will be a traffic block if two cars approach each other at the same time, he said. Nettoor West Residents Association secretary Abdul Salam said the Ambalakadavu area comprises temples and churches, one of which has over 1,500 parishioners. Ferry passengers from Thevara and nearby areas mainly depend on the railway gate route, he said. Stressing the need for an underpass, Ambalakadavu councillor Jaya Joseph said the area will soon be covered under the Kochi Water Metro service. The work is in progress. However, unless there is an underpass, the movement of those arriving or departing from the water metro jetty will be affected, she said. Jaya said a 25-member action council comprising the MP, MLA and the Maradu municipality chairman was formed following an all-party meeting to resolve the issue. In the first meeting of the council, it was decided to raise the issue before the railway minister, divisional railway manager and other authorities concerned, she said. Former Maradu municipality vice-chairman Boban Nedumparambil said once the coastal railway line becomes a reality, the closure of Nettoor-Ambalakkadavu railway gate will become more frequent, increasing peoples challenges. An underpass is immediately needed to resolve the travel issues of residents as well as passers-by, Boban said. He said the civic body, while he was its vice-chairman, had initiated efforts to relocate the railway gate. A sum of Rs 1.10 crore was sanctioned for the same, but the efforts proved futile.

The New Indian Express 20 May 2024 8:53 am

Kochi: Major canals and drains yet to be desilted, say Opposition councillors

KOCHI: With heavy rain predicted over the next few days, the Kochi corporation is yet to intensify measures to prevent flooding in the city, Opposition councillors have alleged. Canal and drain cleaning measures have just begun. The mayors statement that the corporation began flood prevention works in March and has completed 80% of the work is contrary to the facts. The flood prevention work commenced only by early May. Major canals, including the Thevara-Perandoor Canal, have not been desilted, said Antony Kureethara, the Opposition leader. According to municipal law, the responsibility of maintaining and cleaning the drains on roads less than 14 metres wide lies with the corporation, he said. The mayors response, claiming that MG Road is under the public works department (PWD), is an attempt to shirk responsibility. Blocked canal mouths, leading from beside major roads to larger canals, will exacerbate flooding, said M G Aristotle, UDF councillor. On the other hand, the pre-monsoon cleaning programme withthe participation ofpeople was held on Sunday. Local residents and members of the KeralaMerchantsChamber of Commerce participated in the cleaning drive at the Ernakulam market.The monsoon cleanup led by the EDRAC Elamkulam Regional Committee was carried out on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, Kumaranasan Nagar, Chemmath Road and Maveli Road areas were cleaned, Mayor M Anilkumar said. The Opposition councillors urged the mayor to inspect the condition of the main canals and allocate funds for flood prevention measures. Meanwhile, Kochi corporation officials said pre-monsoon work on major canals is expected to be completed by the end of May.

The New Indian Express 20 May 2024 8:47 am

Kerala: Around 5,000 arrested statewide in Operation AAG and D-Hunt

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Around 5,000 people have been arrested in the state-wide crackdown against gangsters for three days. The statewide operation, combining Operation AAG, aimed at cracking down on gangsters and D-Hunt focused on drug mafias, has been going on for three days. State Police Chief Dr Shaik Darvesh Saheb assessed the situations in each district. Persons involved in goonda activities, those involved in serious crimes and those with warrants have been arrested. Many have been placed under preventive detention. Fingerprints and other information of the arrested individuals are being collected to create a database of habitual offenders, said police sources. As part of the continued crackdown, the actions taken each day are being evaluated under the leadership of the police chief. The police chief instructed strengthened vigilance to curb gang violence in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kozhikode. Operation AAG and D Hunt, which began after criticism that goonda attacks and drug use were on the rise, will continue till May 25. Regarding the prevention of the increasing cybercrimes in the state, the head of the cyber division, ADGP H Venkatesh, held discussions with district police chief. He instructed to expedite actions to recover money lost in cyber cases and to intensify awareness efforts.

The New Indian Express 20 May 2024 8:21 am

Kerala: New party or merger? JDS state unit exploring options to stay with LDF

KOCHI: Should a favourable political scenario emerge at the national level, the state unit of the Janata Dal (S) is considering the formation of a new party by merging with small, like-minded political groups that have a local base. The move, planned to be set in motion after the declaration of the Lok Sabha election results, aims to keep the state unit within the Left front. Insiders indicate that the state unit of the NCP Sharad Pawar faction may also join the new party. Fears of disqualification have held back the Janata Dal (S) state unit and its two MLAs Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty and Mathew T Thomas from moving ahead with the new party plans. However, recent controversies involving national president H D Deve Gowdas grandson, Prajwal Revanna, have accelerated the Kerala units efforts to float a new party. The state unit had already severed ties with the national leadership following its poll alliance with the BJP. Party leaders believe they can no longer continue under the current name and symbol in the state, even if national president Deve Gowda ends the BJP alliance. In a recent meeting in Thiruvananthapuram, the state leaders reviewed the political situation and decided to proceed with the formation of a new party. Reports indicate that former minister Jose Thettayil is being considered for the post of the new partys president. To avoid disqualification, Krishnankutty and Mathew Thomas will not join the new party immediately. But the state unit will eventually merge into it, ensuring the legislators positions do not come under the purview of disqualification. Additionally, the party is exploring mergers with small parties that have a political base, such as the Kerala Congress Scaria Thomas faction, Democratic Kerala Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). However, the party leaders said, as of now, there is no plan for a merger with any constituent of the LDF or any other party. Thettayil told TNIE that no decision has been taken on either merger or the floating of a new party. We will decide the future course of action after the Lok Sabha poll results are announced, he said. The Janata Dal (S) is also aiming a realignment of Socialist groups and exploring a possible merger with the RJD, an LDF constituent. Although leaders considered merging with the Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav, that particular partys state unit is aligned with the Congress-led UDF in Kerala. Previously, the Janata Dal (S) had planned to unite with the state unit of the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), but despite several rounds of talks, the merger did not materialise. Last year, the LJD merged with the RJD. In another political development, the state unit of the Sharad Pawar-led NCP faction is aligning itself with the Janata Dal (S)s plans for a new party. Reports of a possible merger of the NCP with the Congress after the elections have motivated the NCP state unit to seek a new direction. Sources indicate that state president P C Chacko and Forest Minister A K Saseendran prefer to remain part of the LDF rather than merge with the Congress. Thettayil considered for new party prez post Recent controversies involving JDS natl president H D Deve Gowdas grandson, Prajwal Revanna, have accelerated the Kerala units efforts to float a new party. Reports indicate former minister Jose Thettayil is being considered to the post of the new partys prez

The New Indian Express 20 May 2024 7:56 am

Colouring the white revolution

KOCHI: The Ernakulam Regional Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd (ERCMPU) is milking the potential of diversification. And with its finger in many pies, ERCMPU has been remarkably successful in all its forays. But to what end? The cooperatives various efforts are directed at providing dairy farmers with incentives and assuring them their financial well-being. Now, adding another milestone on its journey to becoming a role model in the country, ERCMPU is set to become the first dairy cooperative with a milk-processing unit running fully on solar power. Set up in 1985, ERCMPU transformed itself from a cooperative supplying milk and curd to one that produces value-added products from milk, and owns restaurants, tea shops and even bakeries. We have come a long way and are in the process of planning more projects for the future, says M T Jayan, chairman. One of the more prestigious projects that is set to become a reality in June is the 2MW solar-power project, he adds. The Rs 14-crore project has been financed with a loan from the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). The solar plant at Tripunithura dairy farm will help us save a great deal on our electricity bill. All the money that we are trying to earn will go towards the uplift of dairy farmers in four districts Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kottayam and Idukki, he said. ERCMPU is one of the three regional unions that make up the Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF), known by its trade name Milma. Laying claim to be the first dairy cooperative in the country to have a unit completely running on solar power, Jayan said, We would like to expand the project to other units in Ernakulam region. That would be one for the future. But the solar project alone is not what sets the union apart. Restaurants & supermarkets The realisation that supplying milk and milk products wouldnt be enough to boost revenues forced ERCMPU officials to consider other avenues. We have developed many value-added dairy products. This also gave rise to the idea of running a supermarket to sell all Milma products. The supermarket in Edappally has been well received, says Jayan. After the supermarket, Milma branched out into restaurants. Making the case for opening an eatery chain, Jayan points out, We have all the necessary ingredients needed for running a restaurant. So, we thought why not. The first restaurant under the trade name Milma Refresh was set up at Kottappuram, in Thrissur district. It is a vegetarian restaurant. The success of the venture saw the cooperative drawing up plans to open similar restaurants in Edappally, Tripunithura and Muvattupuzha, and Ramapuram, in Thrissur. Building on the success in Thrissur, Jayan says, ERCMPU has been inviting expressions of interest to grow Milma Refresh as a franchise. There is one running successfully in Thrissur. Our franchisee fee is Rs 1.45 lakh. The franchisees will have to run the restaurants based on the rules and guidelines laid down by Milma. All these restaurants must use milk and milk products, such as butter and ghee, besides other Milma products in the food that they serve. ERCMPU also came up with the idea of setting up mobile tea shops. There are around 5 to 10 such shops in Thrissur district. We are planning to introduce these in other districts, too, Jayan stresses. Milma booths in schools Another interesting initiative has been the Milma booth. Under this project, we set up milk booths in schools by tying up with managements. We have set up 16 booths in schools in Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kottayam, he adds. More schools have approached us on setting up booths, says Jayan, adding the schools considering the project are in the aided and unaided sectors. Bakeries & value addition Rather uniquely, ERCMPU has also successfully made a mark in the bakery and confectionery sector. This was, however, achieved without any major investment. We didnt have to invest in the infrastructure, which was available in the form of chilling units that had gone defunct, says Jayan. These plants became obsolete when, with the advent of technology, every dairy unit got its own chiller. So, it was decided to convert them into bakeries. The one in Chalakudy has already started functioning. The breads and buns baked at this bakery have been a hit, prompting us to start bakeries at the former chilling plants in Muvattupuzha and Marangattupilly, Kottayam, he says. The cooperative is now developing other products such as pudding cakes, vanilla cupcakes, milk rusk and different types of cookies. We are testing the market and once we are convinced of the demand, we will venture into producing other bakery items as well, he says. The farmers collective has, of late, also come out with chocolates, pulissery and other value-added milk products. On tying up with corporates, Jayan says, We got a huge order for the supply of sambharam to the offices of NeST. We have been receiving such offers from many other companies and establishments.

The New Indian Express 20 May 2024 7:52 am

Spending patterns are leaving Malayalis overleveraged

KOCHI: Talking about an employee who earns around Rs 13,000 a month who took a Rs 50,000 interest-free loan to buy a mobile phone, Nikhil Gopalakrishnan, a Kochi-based investment advisor, says, The cost of the mobile was Rs 58,000. He put down Rs 8,000 and the remaining as loan to procure the iPhone, He failed to realise is that his monthly income will decline substantially due to the purchase, Nikhil said. The consumption levels of Keralites seem to be reaching worrying proportions with many taking loans from banks, NBFCs, unregulated entities such as chit funds, kuris, and, even the neighbourhood money lender to finance their purchases. From lavish ceremonies to foreign trips, purchase of expensive cars and motor bikes to high-end mobile phones, Malayalis are spending beyond their means, increasingly depending on high-interest loans to do so. Last week, Mumbai-based stockbroker Elara Capital published a report which said overleveraging was very visible among borrowers in Kerala. The report, titled Parivartan - Capturing Change 2024, has chapters on 18 states. Elara sent its 100-plus analysts to 22 states, 77 districts and 96 villages to understand the character and grit of India, coinciding with the general election. While the report said that India was racing ahead, it did not paint a rosy picture of Kerala. The penetration of leverage in Kerala was sharp. Overleveraging can be gauged from the fact that on an average, loans per customer rose from three lenders to six to seven (without considering the unorganised sector). We saw cases where customers with a CIBIL score of 300 were running four active loans, with two overdue, wrote Elara Capital analysts. A good CIBIL score, which is between 700 to 900, improves the chance of a borrower getting loans at a lower interest rate. With household savings stagnating, leverage has risen. We also noticed instances of suicides in small border areas amid the stress, Elara said. Rundra Sensarma, professor of economics at IIM Kozhikode, pointed out that overleveraging was not just a Kerala phenomenon, but an all-India trend. It is the result of easy access to credit due to fintechs and new mobile apps, he said. Last November, the RBI expressed concern about the growth of personal loans and overleveraging, which was leading to regulatory tightening of lending norms. The problem in Kerala, as I view it, is two-fold. First, the dominance of NBFCs. In February this year there was a report showing that NBFC lending growth was the highest in Kerala (16.2%). It suggests that exposure to NBFCs is higher than to commercial banks. Ideally, NBFCs should be filling the last-mile gap and not acting as the first option for financing. Second is the high reliance of borrowers on land as an asset, Prof Sensarma said. A research paper, jointly authored by Prof Sensarma, research scholar Remya Tressa Jacob and Gopakumaran Nair of Nabard and published in the journal Oxford Development Studies in 2022, found that rural households in Kerala (based on a survey of three districts) are in a debt trap due to the illiquid nature of land assets. According to Nikhil, the rise in borrowing is part of the lifestyle of Keralites, most of whom have exposure to chit fund kuris, which they do not consider a loan. The moment you call the kuri (or capture the money), it becomes a loan, he explained. Another trend that Nikhil notices is gold loans. Most of the people who take gold loans dont take back the gold. If the price of gold shoots up, they just renew the loan, he said. The 2019 All India Debt & Investment Survey, conducted by the National Statistical Department, found that the debt-asset ratio in rural Kerala, at 9.7%, is highest among all states. Urban Kerala ranked second, at 7.3%, after Andhra Pradesh. Even in 2012, a rural credit survey found that Malayalis have the highest debt, says economist Mary George.

The New Indian Express 20 May 2024 7:41 am

Close shave for 179 on board as AI Express aircraft catches fire

An Air India Express plane, IX-1132, flying from Pune to Kochi faced a fire scare after taking off from Bengaluru stopover, leading to an emergency evacuation of 179 passengers. The incident stranded passengers in the Karnataka capital for nearly 13 hours with six crew members on board. This marked Air India's second recent fire scare.

The Times of India 20 May 2024 12:33 am

Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd former CEO O Thomas Passes Away

Hyderabad: O. Thomas, a former CEO of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd, passed away in Kakkanad in Ernakulam district on Sunday. He was 78. Thomas served Deccan Chronicle for over 50 years and was involved in various aspects of management and publishing as the newspaper rose into a multi-edition organisation. Thomas, who was also the publisher of Deccan Chronicle for several years, had joined Deccan Chronicle in his early 20s and retired in the year 2021. Thomas worked with three generations of the Deccan Chronicle management. He is also credited with streamlining union activities. Employees and former staff fondly recalled his personal engagement with them and the interest he took in their welfare and the time he gave them despite his busy schedule as he dealt with various aspects for managing and publishing a newspaper. He would turn up at personal functions of staff members, including the most junior employees. Thomas also had a personal engagement with the community. Fr Michael Selvaraj, parish priest of Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health, Khairatabad, who was associated with Thomas at the St Sebastian Church, Sainikpuri from 2014-2020 recalled how he was instrumental in building the church at Sainikpuri. Thomas helped us in getting clearances from the Army officials and civic authorities. He also used to render help to the poor anonymously and was involved in various charities, said Fr Selvaraj. Thomas strived a lot in setting up the Syro Malabar Archdiocese in Shamshabad and was the contact person for priests and nuns in Hyderabad. He was also instrumental in creating an organisation called Action Renewal that used to annually conduct spiritual retreats for Malayalis. A prayer service will be held in Thomas memory from 9 am to 12 noon on Monday at his residence, 2B-1, B Block, Kent Hail Garden, Stadium Link Road, Kaloor, Kochi. His mortal remains will be taken to Secunderabad after the prayer service. In Secunderabad, his body will be kept at his residence, House No. 1-2-180/31, Sai Baba Officers Colony, 3rd Avenue, Sainikpuri, Secunderabad-500084, from 6 pm onwards on Tuesday (May 21) for the people to pay their respects The prayer service will be held at St Mother Teresa Syro Malabar Church, Yellareddyguda, Kapra, Secunderabad, at 12.30 pm on Wednesday (May 22), which will be followed by a service from 1 pm to 2 pm The final memorial service will be held at St. Sebastian Church, Defence Colony, Sainikpuri, Secunderabad at 2.30 pm on May 22. The burial will follow after the memorial mass at Valerian Cemetery by 3.30 pm where he will be laid to rest as per his last wishes. Thomas is survived by his wife Susan Thomas, his children Sebastian Thomas who is in Australia, Dr Sneha Thomas in Kuwait, daughter-in-law Ramya Sebastian, son-in-law Dr Mohan Mathew and grandchildren Zoe and Isabella. He will be deeply missed by family and friends and everyone who knew him, but his spirit will live on in our hearts forever, his son Sebastian Thomas said in a message.

Deccan Chronicle 19 May 2024 11:05 pm

Air India Express flight passengers recall harrowing moments after engine fire in Bengaluru

Passengers on a Kochi-bound Air India Express flight encountered an engine fire, prompting an emergency landing at Bengaluru. Despite delays in baggage retrieval, all passengers and crew were safely evacuated.

The Economic Times 19 May 2024 10:38 pm

Keralite behind international organ racket arrested at Kochi airport

Keralite behind international organ racket arrested at Kochi airport Thiruvananthapuram: The main accused behind an international organ network racket in Kerala was arrested by the Nedumbassery Police at Kochi International Airport on Sunday. The accused has been identified as Sabith Nasser from Valappad in Thrissur district. Sources said that he was the main accused [] The post Keralite behind international organ racket arrested at Kochi airport appeared first on Mangalorean.com .

Mangalorean 19 May 2024 10:20 pm

Antarctica meetings begin in Kochi on May 20

The 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting begins in Kochi on Monday under the shadow of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, an issue that has been affecting the discussions for the past two years. The 10-day deliberations among signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty are expected to focus on collaboration between parties on research and exchanging information on plans for sustainable management of resources in the icy continent. Also on the agenda for the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) is the development of a framework for regulating tourism in Antarctica, given the pristine and delicate nature of the continent, and applications by Belarus and Canada for consultative status at the deliberations. We expect the Ukraine conflict to figure in the talks and we have to ensure that it doesn't affect the meeting in a big way, a senior official closely involved in the ATCM's organisation said. Russia and Ukraine have consultative status or full decision-making roles at the ATCM, which takes all decisions by a consensus. Russia's increase in surveys of the Antarctic region for oil and gas reserves has also caused some anxiety among the partner nations, some of which believe that Moscow may stake claim to large swathes of the continent. Union Earth Sciences Minister Kiren Rijiju is scheduled to formally inaugurate the ATCM at the Lulu Bolgatty International Convention Centre in Kochi on Tuesday. The ATCM and the 26th Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection is hosted by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences through the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research. The meeting is also expected to deliberate on the development of a framework for tourism in Antarctica -- the only continent without any indigenous population. For the 2022-23 season, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators reported 32,730 cruise-only visitors, 71,346 landed visitors and 821 deep-field visitors. The ATCM has 56 member-nations, of which 29 have consultative status or decision-making powers. The remainder have non-consultative status. Canada and Belarus are seeking consultative status but their petitions have run into opposition. Officials said the argument against Canada's candidature is that the North American nation does not have a research station in Antarctica while the scientific output of Belarus is not considered to be adequate for granting consultative status.

The Economic Times 19 May 2024 5:22 pm