The census shows that Kerala has a literacy rate of 94 per cent. The child population in Kerala has shown a declining trend.

A simple initiative to recharge the open wells using rainwater harvesting techniques seems to be yielding dividends in enhancing ground water levels in several parts of Thrissur district.

About 8,110 wells of households and institutions have been recharged under the project, with the support of the government, ever since it was launched in 2008. But another nearly 10,000 private wells have also been recharged by their owners using the same methodology, but without government aid.

Kerala has dominated the National Plant Genome Saviour Awards for the second successive year by grabbing the community award as well as the newly-introduced individual awards.

While the Plant Genome saviour Community Award for 2012 was bagged by Palakkad Rice Farming Community, Ciby Kallingal of Pattikkad, Thrissur, and N Vasavan of Pachapoika in Kannur, have won the individual awards for plant genome conservation.

Syzygium travncoricum, a tree endemic to Kerala, is no longer ‘critically endangered’ as classified on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Field studies conducted by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) in the wake of the IUCN classification suggest that the tree can now move to the ‘endangered’ list.

Known locally as kulavetti or vadhamkolli, the tree entered the IUCN’s ‘critically endangered’ list on the basis of a Conservation Assessment Management Plan (CAMP) workshop conducted under the Biodiversity Conservation Prioritisation Project India in 1998. The IUCN had then suggested periodic updating of the classification based on information provided by authoritative agencies.

A parched paddy field at Puzhakkal near Thrissur.— PHOTO: K.C. Sowmish
Many places in the district are facing acute water shortage as the mercury level is soaring.

Around 60,000 sq km of Western Ghats, spread across six states, should be turned into a no-go area for commercial activities like mining, thermal power plants, polluting industries and large housing plans, the high-level working group headed by Planning Commission member K Kasturirangan has recommended.

The committee has not recommended an outright rejection of the Athirappilly hydroelectric project in Kerala and Gundya dam in Karnataka. It has warned that the state government must assess if the Athirappilly dam is viable and if the trade off against the loss of irreplaceable biodiversity is beneficial.

Check dams will be constructed on various water bodies in the district for conservation of water, District Panchayat President K.V. Dasan has said.

Addressing a district-level seminar on water conservation organised jointly by various departments and local bodies here on Wednesday he said the dams would be constructed in co-operation with the gram panchayats.

A comprehensive drinking water project with international standards will be implemented for Ottappalm Assembly constituency, M. Hamsa, MLA, has said.

He was addressing a seminar on formulating a development master plan for Ottappalam constituency at Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) on Monday. “Under the project, the purity of water will be tested every two hours. The project will be implemented before 2016,” he said.

Urban sewage, hospital waste, and pesticide residues are polluting kole lands, the ecologically fragile wetland ecosystems in Malappuram and Thrissur noted for the integrated farming of rice and fish.

An expert committee appointed by the State government has found that sewage pollution from urban areas was being directly discharged into the main canals in the kole lands. This, it observed, often led to mass mortality of fish. Organic waste from urban areas, hospital waste, and pesticide residue from paddy fields were identified as other sources of pollution.

Directorate Of Health Services Admits More Deaths In Reply To Paediatrician’s RTI

The directorate of health services (DHS), which has been defending the administration of the pentavalent vaccine, has admitted that four infants had died within a week of administering the vaccine in the state till June 2012. The admission came in a reply to a right to information (RTI) application filed by paediatric physician Dr Jacob Puliyel, dated July 27, 2012.