Kerala Cabinet granted Rs. 25 crore additionally to the State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Wednesday to tide over its financial problems.

With this the total grants to the KSRTC during this financial year rose to Rs. 100 crore, in addition to the original Budget provisions. The Cabinet authorised Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to appoint a one man commission to study the problems related to backwardness of Nadar community.

District panchayat chief says allocated sum insufficient

District panchayat president S. Jayamohan has said that in the backdrop of Kollam being declared drought hit, the State government should make an emergency allocation of Rs.50 crore to solve the district’s drinking water problem. In a statement here on Tuesday, Mr. Jayamohan said the amount was urgently required to meet the expenses for transporting drinking water, pipeline extension, cleaning of freshwater wetlands, compensation to farmers who had suffered crop loss on account of the drought, renovation of the Kallada Irrigation Project (KIP) canals, and repair of pumps owned by the Kerala Water Authority.

The calving season of Nilgiri tahrs is under way at the park

The Eravikulam National Park, abode of the highly endangered Nilgiri tahr ( Nilgiritragus hylocrius ), will remain closed to visitors till April 4.
Chief Wildlife Warden V. Gopinathan said the two-month closure was an annual affair during the calving season of the tahrs. The closure was ordered on the basis of a report submitted by K.V. Subramanian, Field Director (Project Tiger), that the calving season of these mountain goats had begun at the park. Mr. Subramanian told The Hindu that kids were seen from the later part of January. Many of the female tahrs were heavily pregnant.

Dumping to invite prosecution; all plastic waste to be cleared

The Forest Department is initiating strong measures to get rid of plastic waste left behind by visitors to forest areas. The measures include prosecuting those found dumping plastic and other waste in forests and wildlife sanctuaries. Chief of the Forest Force R. Raja Raja Varma told The Hindu that dumping of plastic waste in certain forest areas with a heavy flow of visitors had assumed ominous proportions.

Alarmed by this year’s scanty rainfall and the drying up of water reserves in several parts of the State, the office of the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority has forwarded a recommendation to the State government to this effect.

The scarce northeast monsoon has failed to make up for the shortfall in the southwest spell during the past two years. The southwest monsoon’s share of rainfall this year was the lowest in the last seven years.

Stringent action against encroachers

District Collector P.G. Thomas has said that a monitoring committee has been constituted as part of the measures aimed at ending unauthorised granite quarrying and sand-mining in the district. He informed this after presiding over a meeting on Friday to discuss the problems posed by such activities.

Now it is official.

Adviser to MoEF visits Sasthamcotta, Ashtamudi lakes

Siddharth Kaul, adviser on wetland conservation to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), has said that a comprehensive management action plan (MAP) is vital for the effective conservation of the Sasthamcotta and Ashtamudi lakes, both Ramsar sites, in Kollam district. Interacting with officials, environment activists and representatives of the people here on Tuesday after assessing the condition of the lakes earlier in the day, Dr. Kaul said he was particularly shocked to see the Ashtamudi lake. “But it is not late; the lakes can definitely be saved.”

Elaborate arrangements have been made to monitor restaurants, hotels and other food businesses within the State and also the inflow of food items from outside the State during the festival season, Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar has said.

Special surveillance squads had already been deployed for the purpose in all districts. Checking had been made more stringent in the border check-posts of Amaravila in Thiruvananthapuram district, Aryankavu in Kollam district and Meenakshipuram and Walayar check-posts in Palakkad district, the Minister said on Sunday.

Clinical labs, dental clinics main sources of infection

There has been a considerable increase in the number of hepatitis-B cases reported in the district, according to a study. A report on the six-month study conducted by Rakesh P.S., an epidemiologist attached to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) in Kollam, has been submitted to the District Medical Officer here.