Central team to start district tours

The State has sought a revised drought-relief assistance of Rs. 1,884 crore from the Centre. The revised claim was presented before a Central team which arrived here on Tuesday to start field trips to assess the drought situation in various districts.

The State revised its earlier claim for Rs. 1,468 crore after taking into account the additional loss sustained by the Kerala State Electricity Board from poor rainfall.

An Union Environment Ministry panel has recommended clearance for developing a Rs.2,000-crore international private airport at Aranmula.

The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Building Construction, Coastal Regulation Zone, Infrastructure Development and Miscellaneous projects has recommended the proposal for environmental clearance with conditions, officials said here on Thursday. The airport, planned to be built on about 500 acres of land at Mallappuzhassery in Aranmula, has been hit by a controversy after the Opposition Left Democratic Front and a section of local people alleged that it would have disastrous environmental consequences and cause displacement of families.

India’s first Connected E-Toilet Infrastructure (CETI) is coming up in Pathanamthitta.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Babu George, president, district panchayat, and P. Vijayama, vice-president, said Minister for Local Self-government M.K. Muneer would inaugurate the CETI project at a public function on the District Hospital premises at Kozhencherry on Thursday. Mr. George said the panchayat had set up 26 e-toilets in different parts of the district as part of its ongoing ‘Zero Waste Pathanamthitta’ project.

Landless dalits and adivasis have occupied parts of a corporate rubber plantation at Chengara in Kerala for five years. Despite being pressurised in various ways, they have held out, sticking to their demand of land for them to pursue livelihoods. None of the agreements so far reached with the state government has been satisfactorily implemented. Yet, the issues raised by the Chengara struggle have a social and economic significance that no government can afford to ignore.

The Revolutionary Youth Front has called upon the State government to implement the recommendations of the Assembly Committee on Environment to protect wetlands and paddy fields in Aranmula.

In a statement here on Wednesday, Saleem P. Chacko, secretary of the organisation’s State unit, alleged that the promoters of a private airport project proposed in the locality had managed to obtain various clearances for the project through the backdoor, violating the laws of the land.

Say over 90 acres of wetlands converted in the last one decade

The controversy over the proposed private international airport project at Aranmula has taken curious turns with the Cabinet decision to regularise conversion of paddy fields and wetlands that have taken place prior to 2005 as well as the clearances reportedly given by various government agencies for the project, allegedly violating prevailing laws, rules and regulations.

The rapid changes taking place in the forest eco system, mainly owing to excessive human intervention and climate change, has been leading to frequent straying of wild animals into human habitation in the forest areas of Konni and Ranni in recent times.

The sad fate of a male leopard that had strayed into the small hamlet of Iyravon nestling on the borders of the Kummannoor forests in Konni Forest division on Sunday was the latest in the series of man-animal conflicts taking place in this part of the State during the past six months.

Kochi: In the abode of Lord Ayappa, devotees seeking a darshan must take a dip in the Pampa.

The District Panchayat president, Babu George, said the district-level advisory committee of the Agency for

Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) has decided to request the ANERT director to set up 500 off-the-grid solar energy plants of 1 kw capacity each in the district, by including the same in its annual plan project. In a statement issued here on Saturday, Mr George said the district-level advisory committee meeting held here on Saturday has decided to ask the ANERT director to set up bio-gas plants as part of the ongoing waste disposal mission in the district.

PATHANAMTHITTA: The draft project report on the three new eco-tourism centres of Kakki, Anathode and Moozhiyar is ready for approval of the Forest Department authorities.