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News Reports - 2011

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Malayala Manorama - 06-03-2011

Balakrishna Pillai challenges his sentence in Idamalayar dam case

Society to hand over Actor Srividya’s assets to govt.

Society to hand over Srividya's assets

UDF decides to stay ahead in election race

High drama on court premises

Balakrishna Pillai to surrender today

Balakrishna Pillai arrives in Kottarakaraa

I’m innocent, claims Pillai

NSS condemns SC ruling against R Balakrishna Pillai

News Reports - 2010

Wastage burial by KB Ganesh Kumar

Wildlife organization introduces alternative elephant training techniques

News Reports - 2009

NSS

KB Ganesh kumar boycotts budget speech

News Reports - 2008

Indo-US nuke deal came at the right time

State TV awards for Ganesh Kumar and Meera Vasudev

K.B. Ganesh Kumar, Meera Vasudev who were adjudged the best actors

Kerala legislator bags Television best actor award

Modelling an aerospace career

Meera Jasmine presented the Sri Vidya Award

Tele-film conveying a message, subtly

Ganeshkumar with fire escape

Frame Media awards announced

Ganesh Kumar’s letter to Krishna Iyer

Police Cane charge Sabarimala pilgrims

New group floated in Malayalam cinema

Kerala superstars back new film organization

Support extended

Guidelines to ensure wellbeing of elephants

Guidelines to manage elephants in Kerala

Book on elephant management

A season of woes for elephants

Citizens’ charter soon in Transport Department

News Reports - 2007

Ganesh Kumar’s house attacked; CPI(M) role alleged

Joint Hartal by UDF & BJP

UDF MLAs begin indefinite fast

Land deal: Oppn MLAs begin indefinite fast

State tuskers find space on the Web

Chief Secretary’s decision to quit prompts walkout

UDF takes out MC Road march

Toddy kills two in Kollam district

News Reports - 2006

Balakrishna Pillai and son aim to repeat winning feat

LDF romps home with two-thirds majority

Tributes to Sri Vidya

Srividya loved life, and loved to live

Actor in the fray

Natesan predicts 85 seats for LDF

Political offspring are now OK

Reel gimmick vs real politick

Minister promises measures to solve drinking water problem

News Reports - 2005

The role of women

News Reports - 2004

Ganesh Kumar turns against Pillai

Pillai, Jacob to wait and watch

Ganesh Kumar hits out at Balakrishna Pillai

News Reports - 2003

Kerala in Talks with GIC Cos for Golden-hours Trauma care

KSRTC Repaying Dues To IOC

Decision on Pillai joining the Cabinet on March 6

State ups ante in war against pollution

Pillai to replace son as Minister

Pillai to be sworn in on Monday

KSRTC improves finances: Minister

MVD to crack down on parallel services

The war with the pollutant

 

News Reports - 2011

Balakrishna Pillai challenges his sentence in Idamalayar dam case

New Delhi: In an unusual step, former Kerala Minister R. Balakrishna Pillai has questioned through a writ petition, a judgment of the Supreme Court on February 10 sentencing him to undergo one year imprisonment in the Idamalayar dam case.

In the petition filed through his counsel E.M.S. Anam, he has also challenged the Supreme Court Rules 1966 which provided for hearing a review petition by the judges in the chamber instead of in the court.

‘Deliberate step'

Mr. Pillai said the non-production of entire evidence had prejudiced the accused and the suppression of the documents by the State was deliberate. The appeal by V.S. Achuthanandan (the present Kerala Chief Minister, who was then leader of the opposition in the Assembly) was for political gain, as [is] evident from the public speeches and statements made by the appellant.

He alleged that there were several errors of law, jurisdiction and facts in the February 10 judgment which infringed the petitioner's fundamental right under Article 21 (right to life and liberty). There was no statement in the judgment “which does not record a finding of guilty.” He maintained that his personal liberty had been deprived violating the procedure established by law.

“The petitioner has a right to know under which Act and under what provision of law he is sentenced” as these mandatory requirements were lacking in the judgment. He said, “The core question which had to be decided by the court was whether the Chief Minister of a State was entitled to continue an appeal preferred by him when he was the leader of the opposition and to take a stand contrary to the stand taken by the State government, which was implicit of the fact that no appeal had been filed by the State.”

Mr. Pillai asked, “Would he [Mr.Achuthanandan] be having the status of a person interested? Was his interest in the administration of criminal justice or was his interest in putting down a political opponent and thus seeking to win elections based on his prosecuting the case in the Supreme Court?”

Mr. Pillai, while seeking a declaration that his confinement in prison was illegal and not in accordance with law, has sought a direction that he be produced in the court and released forthwith. An opportunity for hearing of the review petition was also sought.

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Society to hand over Actor Srividya’s assets to govt.

The Srividya Charitable Society, formed in memory of the late actress by friends to carry out her last wish to set up a dance and music school using the proceeds from the sale of her property, has decided to hand over its assets to the State government.

Addressing reporters here, the society chairman and cine actor K B Ganesh Kumar MLA, said the decision was taken in view of allegations from certain quarters against the functioning of the society.

He said Ms. Srividya’s assets had been entangled in financial issues with the Income Tax department. For safeguarding the assets worth lakhs of rupees, the government should take the initiative to settle the issues with her debtors and the Income Tax department.

The society had taken a decision to hand over the assets to the State government’s Culture Department and wanted the latter to use the proceeds from their sale to institute an endowment to promote art and culture in her memory.

Two months before her death on October 10, 2006, Ms. Srividya had executed a will and entrusted Mr. Ganesh Kumar, cine actor and MLA, to register a charitable society to ‘start a music and dance school for efficient students who could not get ample opportunities due to lack of money or to give away scholarship to such students to continue their studies and to extend financial assistance to deserving ailing artistes.’

“I am bequeathing all my properties except some payments mentioned elsewhere in this bill. An appropriate body with eminent persons, registered under Charitable Societies Act should be formed and the realised value of all my assets should be transferred as a nucleus fund,” she said in the will entrusting Mr. Ganesh Kumar to register the society.

She had also left Rs 5 lakh each to her brother’s children and Rs One lakh each to her servants in the will, executed on August 17, 2006.

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Society to hand over Srividya's assets

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Srividya Charitable Society, formed in memory of the late actress by friends to carry out her last wish to set up a dance and music school using the proceeds from the sale of her property, has decided to hand over its assets to the state government.

Addressing reporters here, the society chairman and cine actor K B Ganesh Kumar MLA, said the decision was taken in view of allegations from certain quarters against the functioning of the society.

He said Srividya's assets had been entangled in financial issues with the Income Tax department. For safeguarding the assets worth lakhs of rupees, the government should take the initiative to settle the issues with her debtors and the Income Tax department.

The society had taken a decision to hand over the assets to the state government's Culture Department and wanted the latter to use the proceeds from their sale to institute an endowment to promote art and culture in her memory.

Two months before her death on October 10, 2006, Srividya had executed a will and entrusted Ganesh Kumar, cine actor and MLA, to register a charitable society to `start a music and dance school for efficient students who could not get ample opportunities due to lack of money or to give away scholarship to such students to continue their studies and to extend financial assistance to deserving ailing artistes.'

"I am bequeathing all my properties except some payments mentioned elsewhere in this bill. An appropriate body with eminent persons, registered under Charitable Societies Act should formed and the realised value of all my assets should be transferred as a nucleus fund," she said in the will entrusting Ganesh Kumar to register the society.

She had also left Rs 5 lakh each to her brother's children and Rs One lakh each to her servants in the will, executed on August 17, 2006.
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UDF decides to stay ahead in election race

Thiruvananthapuram: The United Democratic Front (UDF) has got into the election mode, with its high-power committee meeting here on Thursday deciding to launch a pre-election campaign and to complete the seat-sharing discussions much ahead of nomination time. The bilateral discussions between the Congress and its partners will begin on March 8.

Talks will be held with the Indian Union Muslim League and the Kerala Congress(M) in the first round.

The UDF leaders have agreed to complete the process at one stretch as per a consensus at the meeting that the exercise should be wound up by the time filing of nominations begins.

Preliminary round

The Congress leaders will hold a preliminary round of discussions with the Janadipathiya Samrakshana Samithi leader K.R. Gouri on March 3

The meeting also decided to hold three regional meetings on March 1, 3 and 7 in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, respectively.

Allegations

The UDF would also organise campaigns focussed on the allegations against the Chief Minister and his son, V.A. Arun Kumar.

According to one UDF source, the coalition might even petition the Governor seeking an investigation. The committee has appointed a sub-committee to oversee the coalition's pre-election campaigns. Its members are M.M. Hassan, T.M. Jacob, E.T. Mohammed Basheer, K.B. Ganesh Kumar, Shibu Baby John, C.P. John and Joy Abraham and Rajan Babu.

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High drama on court premises

KOCHI: High drama unfolded at the Idamalayar Special Court in Kochi on Friday. Hundreds of party activists and locals were seen thronging the court building and compound right from early morning.

A large contingent of police force, including the Quick Response Team (QRT) of the city police, was deployed at the court complex. Posters and flex boards were prominently displayed supporting R Balakrishna Pillai. A bunch of cameramen and TV channels had been camping on the court premises since 10 a.m. Curious passersby were seen entering the compound to know what these hullabulloo was all about.

Exactly at 10.30 a.m., Pillai arrived at the Idamalayar Special Court from a relative's house here, along with son and newlyappointed chairman of Kerala Congress (B) K B Ganesh Kumar MLA and soninlaw T Balakrishnan, Principal Secretary, Industries Department. Though the police tried to control the crowd, the party activists surrounded the vehicle as if in a protective cover. Party activists were seen raising slogans in support of Pillai.

Cameras went on clicking while the TV crew struggled to capture the crowd and Pillai. Some journalists managed to reach up to Pillai and asked about the review petition to be submitted before the Supreme Court. "I trust the judiciary," Pillai said. Soon he entered the court room on the third floor of the court complex. By 11.20 a.m. it was heard that the court had adjourned and the case would be considered at 12 noon.

In the meantime, some party workers suddenly formed a procession and started shouting slogans. Soon, Ganesh Kumar came out and asked them to be quiet. Then it was time for debates and discussions. Mediamen, party workers and even police officials began chatting on Pillai's requests before the court, including those about his health conditions.

By 12.50 p.m the visual media journalists started giving voiceover and live telecast that the court had ordered to send Pillai to the Poojappura central jail. Then there was a flood of cameras and mediamen at the close chamber in front of the special court.

By 1.30 p.m pillai came out. Amidst heavy police cover, Pillai entered the police vehicle.

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Balakrishna Pillai to surrender today

KOLLAM: The former Minister and Kerala Congress (B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai left for Ernakulam from his house at Kottarakara, near here, on Thursday evening to surrender before the Idamalayar Special Court on Friday.

Mr. Pillai who was sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.10,000 in the Idamalayar case by the Supreme Court had been directed to surrender before the special court by Monday or face arrest.

Talking to presspersons from his house at Kottarakara, Mr. Pillai said while he respected the judiciary, he had every right to criticise the verdict against him in the case. He termed the verdict “totally unjustified” and said the case itself was “politically motivated.”

Mr. Pillai said he was moving a review petition through his lawyers against the verdict.

“I am not scared of going to jail. I had been in jail with EMS. But my age is a problem now. I am also suffering from serious health problems.” He said the review petition was being submitted citing these problems.

He said since he had earlier held the jails portfolio, he was hopeful of some kind of privileges while serving the sentence. He said that if proper medical care was denied, his life would be in danger. He wished to serve the sentence at Poojappura Central Jail in Thiruvananthapuram, but where to lodge him was for the court to decide.

He said nowhere had it been said in the judgment that he had accepted bribes or that there was corruption. It was the Kerala State Electricity Board that had the right to award such dealsMr. Pillai said en route to Ernakulam, he would pray at Mannathu Padmanabhan's tomb at the headquarters of the Nair Service Society at Changanaserry.

He said his son, K.B. Ganesh Kumar, MLA, who vice-president of the party, had been empowered to lead the party and take decisions.

Mr. Pillai said in the coming Assembly elections, a candidate from his party would contest from Kottarakara.

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Balakrishna Pillai arrives in Kottarakara

KOLLAM: United Democratic Front activists, supporters and friends accorded a rousing reception to the Kerala Congress (B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai in his hometown Kottarakara on Saturday evening when he arrived there for the first time after being sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a year by the Supreme Court in the Idamalayar corruption case.

Among them were Peethambara Kurup, Kodikunnil Suresh and K. Sudhakaran, MPs; the former Minister T.M. Jacob; K.B. Ganesh Kumar, Pathanapuram MLA and Mr. Pillai's son; and the Mahila Congress leader Shahida Kamal. Many of those in the crowd went into a frenzy as Mr. Pillai arrived.

Shouting slogans, the UDF activists offered him moral support. Mr. Pillai was then taken by his supporters to the Althara maidan grounds for a public reception. Leaders who spoke alleged that the sentence was the result of a political hounding unleashed against Mr. Pillai.

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I’m innocent, claims Pillai

Kerala Congress (B) chairman and former minister R Balakrishnan Pillai, who was on Thursday sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment in a corruption case by the Supreme Court, said he was innocent and was “prepared to go to jail for the state”. “I am innocent. I am a victim of the Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan’s revenge,” he said.

Responding to the apex court verdict, the Chief Minister, who fought the case for the past two decades, said, “This is a warning to all those who plunder public wealth and misuse power.” At the same time, the Congress-led UDF in which Pillai’s party was a minor partner could not take a firm position as the verdict in the corruption case came just when the Assembly polls are imminent.

The case pertained to a contract awarded for the maintenance of the Idamalayar hydel project in Kerala back in 1982 which, according to findings, had caused a loss of Rs 2 crore to the Exchequer. The apex court found Pillai and two others guilty on an appeal filed by Achuthanandan challenging a 2003 High Court order acquitting the accused.

The Supreme Court verdict against Pillai, a heavyweight and strategist of the UDF, has come as the second massive blow to the coalition after the recent revelations against PK Kunhalikutty, general secretary of front partner Muslim League, in an infamous sex scandal. Observers say that these two incidents could reverse the fortunes of the UDF, which was till two weeks ago tipped to win the Assembly election.

Pillai said he would not file a review petition though his son KB Ganesh Kumar MLA said the party wanted him to take the legal step. Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said the UDF would file a review petition in the apex court for Pillai while lawyers disputed the effectiveness of such a move.

“I am not going to jail for any of my crimes. Even the court has not said I have made money. I am going to jail because I wanted to do something for the State. This is the reward I get for sacrificing so much for the country as a politician,” Pillai said adding that he had never complained that the UDF had not supported him in the case.

However, Pillai did take an indirect dig at the Congress for not supporting him. “I wouldn’t be in this position if I had not taken the initiative for renovating the Idamalayar project as per Indira Gandhi’s call,” he said. It is entirely possible that I may die in the prison. I am 76 now and so it is a possibility,” he added.

Pillai termed Achuthanandan as a man guided by his lust for revenge. “He trapped me in this. He is behind the efforts to “cage” CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan (in the SNC Lavalin corruption case). He would even want finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac to be sent to jail,” he said referring to the Chief Minister’s call to Centre for a CBI probe into the illegal lotteries scam.

Achuthanandan said that the apex court verdict was the result of his relentless legal battle that lasted for two decades. “I had to receive a lot of criticisms and several allegations were leveled at me for this. The verdict is a fitting reply to all those allegations,” he said, adding that a former minister from the State would now be going to the prison for corruption for the first time.
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NSS condemns SC ruling against R Balakrishna Pillai

Kottayam, Thursday, February 10, 2011: The Nair Service Society (NSS) today condemned the Supreme Court ruling on Idamalayar dam corruption case in which former Kerala Power minister R Balakrishnan Pillai was found guilty and was awarded one year rigorous imprisonment along with two others on Thursday.

While KB Ganesh Kumar MLA has termed the Idamalayar case against his father as part of political vengeance. “VS Achuthanandan has been haunting Balakrishna Pillai for long and this is part of a personal vengeance”.

He added the party wants to file a review petition, but a decision would be taken considering the opinion of Balakrishna Pillai. Ganesh Kumar added there is not much hope left as the same judges would be hearing the review plea, if filed.

A bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan convicted the former minister while reversing the acquittal order passed by the Kerala High Court.

The apex court upheld the prosecution plea that Pillai, who formed the Kerala Congress (B), had entered into a criminal conspiracy that caused a loss of over Rs 2 crore to the Kerala State Electricity Board by awarding contracts for construction of a power tunnel and surge shaft of the Idamalayar hydro electricity power project to contractor Paulose (now deceased) at extra ordinarily high rates.

Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan, had earlier approached the Supreme court challenging an HC verdict acquitting R Balakrishna Pillai. In a reply to the query from the court, the counsel for Achuthanandan informed the court that the court had earlier given permission for his client to join the case. Earlier the SC had questioned the right of Achuthanandan to challenge the HC order in the case.

The Kerala government also moved an appeal requesting permission to be added as a party in the case. The division bench dismissed the plea pointing out the hearing on the case has already been finished and as such the plea lacks significance. The court also pointed out a decision can be taken based on the plea by Achuthandnan. The final verdict is expected within one month.

There were as many as 11 accused in the case. Eight of them were acquitted by the Special Court and Pillai and two others were sentenced to five-year rigorous imprisonment.

The High Court in October 2003 allowing the appeals filed by Pillai and others had held that there was no legal evidence to connect the accused with the crime. The prosecution had “miserably failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a shadow of doubt,” the court had observed. The other accused who were acquitted were Ramabhadran Nair, former Chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and P.K. Sajeev, a close friend of Pillai.

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News Reports - 2010

Wastage burial by KB Ganesh Kumar

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Wildlife organization introduces alternative elephant training techniques

Thiruvananthpuram, Mar 25 (ANI): In an attempt to introduce an alternative to traditional elephant training methods in India, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is organizing a series of workshops.

Australian animal trainer Andrew McLean is supervising workshops.

According to WTI, the initiative is supported by the Working for Animals, Australia which aims to sensitize concerned authorities on the need and availability of a new elephant training methods throughout the World.

The first workshop was organized on Wednesday in Triruvananthapuram, in collaboration with the Kerala Forest Department.

McLean demonstrated the "Positive Learning Method," on captive elephants to over 70 participants including forest department officials, veterinarians, elephant owners among others.

"Elephant training like the teaching of any species involves capturing their motivations and rewarding correct responses. Science gives us an enlightened toolbox with which we can teach elephants to do what we want in a much faster and safer way than traditional methods," McLean said.

"My experience in Nepal showed that change could occur so swiftly that the Nepalese Government committed a five-year plan for us to prove our positive learning method. If successful, our method would be made mandatory throughout Nepal," he added.

The WTI claimed that currently, there are about 4000 captive elephants across India and all of these elephants have undergone traditional training methods, which are considered, by many, a painful exercise for the animals.

"These training methods have continued to thrive for lack of awareness about availability of alternative methods," said NVK Ashraf, Director, Wild Rescue Programme, WTI.

Addressing the workshop, the Kerala Elephant Owners' Federation, president K B Ganesh Kumar, opined that there is a need for establishing elephant training facility to popularize better training methods among trainers.

In a statement the WTI said the workshops target authorities within the government and non-governmental institutions as well as other stakeholders including elephant owners, trainers and experts concerned with captive elephant welfare, to prompt favorable changes in the traditional training methods.

The WTI said that in addition to Kerala, the workshops would also be conducted in Assam, which has the highest captive elephant population and in Delhi to introduce the concept to relevant policymakers.

The Asian elephant has been associated with various aspects of Indian culture and religion for thousands of years. Taming and training of elephants for war, temple festivals and timber yards has been a tradition in India since time immemorial.

There are ancient texts and scriptures that deal in depth with matters of trapping, training and treatment of elephants. This tradition is especially strong in the states of Assam and Kerala.

Trapping and training elephants is an ancient art and science in India but has been found to be risky to the trainers involved. (ANI)
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News Reports - 2009

KOLLAM: United Democratic Front activists, supporters and friends accorded a rousing reception to the Kerala Congress (B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai in his hometown Kottarakara on Saturday evening when he arrived there for the first time after being sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a year by the Supreme Court in the Idamalayar corruption case.

Among them were Peethambara Kurup, Kodikunnil Suresh and K. Sudhakaran, MPs; the former Minister T.M. Jacob; K.B. Ganesh Kumar, Pathanapuram MLA and Mr. Pillai's son; and the Mahila Congress leader Shahida Kamal. Many of those in the crowd went into a frenzy as Mr. Pillai arrived.

Shouting slogans, the UDF activists offered him moral support. Mr. Pillai was then taken by his supporters to the Althara maidan grounds for a public reception. Leaders who spoke alleged that the sentence was the result of a political hounding unleashed against Mr. Pillai.

News Reports - 2009

NSS

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KB Ganesh kumar boycotts budget speech

Thirvananthapuram, Friday, February 20, 2009: Pathanapuram MLA KB Ganesh kumar boycotted the assembly disrupting the budget speech today protesting the state government’s negligenc towards Kollam and Thrissur districts in budget.

KB Ganesh kumar alleged that the government, which has neglected its states, has no right to speak about the central government’s disregard towards the state.

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Indo-US nuke deal came at the right time

MUSCAT - The nuclear deal with the United States will help energy-starved India a great deal, and the Indians by and large support the controversial deal, claimed K.B Ganeshkumar, a regional party leader in the state of Kerala in India. In an exlusive interview, the actor-turned-politician, wjho is in town said the deal would help in shoring up the shortfall in energy in India. “Many of our plants are now starved off uranium. There is no other way to get uranium except by entering the mainstream,” he said, adding that the political positions taken by parties, particularly the Communists, do not represent the mood of the country. “Such political leaders do not necessarily represent the mood of the nation. I strongly belive that Indains support the deal”, he said adding that the deal would certainly help states like Kerala that needs energy in large quantities. “If you take Kerala for instance, the amount of power required is huge and this deal will certainly help the state of overcome the crisis,” said the gentle , likeable and friendly former transport minister. Criticising the Communist partiies for their stand on the deal, Ganeshkumar said the Communists had been opposing every step taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Sing. “It has now become a hobby of the Left to oppose everything. They were against the deal with the US but did not raise a word against France when India signed a very similar deal with that country. We cannot understand their ideology. Left parties are not the nationlists we thought they were,” he said. Ganesh alleged that the Left parties had one set of parameters for their government in West Bengal and Kerala and another for the contry. He claimed the ruling Congress party-led government was instrumental in building a string infrastructure for the country which was the reason for its development. “Now students from abroad are coming to India for higher studeis while a few years ago it was vice-versa,” he said. Asked what had forced him into politics suddenly, the veteran actor who became the youngest minister at the age of 34 in the A.K. Antony’s Cabint, said it had not been a sudden decission and he had always wanted to serve the people. I always wanted to do something good for the people and I thought politis was the best way for it I cound use my position for the benefit of the people. That is what I am doing now. I am doing charity through politis.” Son of veteran politician K. Balakrishna Pillai, Ganesh started his film career in 1984 in the movie “Irakal”. Asked why, unlike other actors he had not got a hero image in the state, Ganesh pointed out that Mohanlal and Mammooty had already established themselves as ultimate heroes when he came in, and during his early days and there was no scope for publicity as it was against the law.
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State TV awards for Ganesh Kumar and Meera vasudev

Thiruvananthapuram: Opposition legislator K.B. Ganesh Kumar, who has acted in 126 films and 38 television serials, Friday was selected as the best actor in the television awards announced by the ruling Front government. Meera Vasudeav was selected for the best actress award.

Kumar, 42, a former Kerala transport minister, received the news while shooting for blockbuster Malayalam film 'Red Chillies', starring Mohanlal.

Kumar told IANS he was elated because this is his first award.

'I always used to tell my friends and well wishers that when the present opposition to which I belong rules the state, an award for me is certain to invite criticism. But I am all the more happy that I have got my first award when I sit in the opposition benches, when the Left rules the state,' said Kumar in a lighter vein.

The awards were announced here Friday by state Culture Minister M.A. Baby. Kumar bagged the award for his stellar performance in the TV serial 'Madhavam' which is aired on Surya TV.

Kumar, son of Kerala Congress (Pillai) party chief R. Balakrishnan Pillai, became a minister in the cabinet of A.K. Antony in 2001-03 before he made way for his father to take over as the transport minister.

Kumar since 1984 has acted in 126 films and 38 TV serials.

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K.B. Ganesh Kumar, Meera Vasudev who were adjudged the best actors

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ‘Daya’ has won the award for the best tele-series, ‘Typewriter’ for the best tele-film and ‘16 mm: Memories, Movements and Machine’ for the best documentary in the 2007 State TV awards announced here on Friday.

Actor-turned politician K.B. Ganesh Kumar and Meera Vasudev have been adjudged the best actors of the year. John Brittas (Kairali TV) and Johny Lukose (Manorama News) have shared the award for the best anchor/interviewer.

R. Sreekantan Nair (Asianet) has been adjudged the best compere, S. Saratchandran (Kairali TV) the best news reader and Manjush Gopal (Asianet News) the best investigative journalist. P. Shajahan (Asianet News) has won the award for the most socially relevant current affairs programme and Raj Kalesh (Amrita TV) for the best anchor.

The awards were announced by Cultural Affairs Minister M.A. Baby. The awards in the feature category were decided by a jury chaired by John Sankaramangalam, former director, FTII, Pune, and that in the non-feature category by a jury headed by K. Mohan Kumar, deputy director, C-DIT.

In the feature section, T. Deepesh has won two awards, that for the best director and the director of the best tele-film.

The other winners are: Best tele-series: Daya (Kairali TV, director: Saji Surendran), best tele-film: Typewriter (director: T. Deepesh), second best tele-film: Annayude Lillippookkal (Surya TV, director: Ansar Khan), best scriptwriter: Valsalan Vathussery (Typewriter), best story writer: Satheesh K. Satheesh (Pookkalil Manjuveezhumpol, Asianet), best actors: K.B. Ganesh Kumar (Madhavam, Surya TV) and Meera Vasudev (Kanalppoov, Kairali TV), best supporting actors: Irshad (Madhavam), Meera Nandan (Veedu, Surya TV), best child artiste: Baby Gouri Pramod (Annayude Lillippookkal), best cinematographer: Jaleel Badusha (Typewriter), best editor: Rajesh Thrissur (Annayude Lillippookkal), best music director: Sanand George (Danny, The Mandrake, Asianet), best sound recording: C.R. Chandran (Veedu), best art director: J. P. Chittarikkal (Typewriter), special jury award for actor: Balakrishnan Pappinissery (Typewriter).

In the non-feature section, K.R. Manoj has won two awards, that for the best documentary and for the best documentary maker, for his documentary on the film society movement in the State.

The award for the second best documentary has been won by Madhu Eravankara for his documentary Punarakhyanam.

The other winners are: best commentator: Ambutty (Jalam Kondu murivettaval, Jaihind TV) and best children’s programme: Vinu Abhilash Noyal (Kuttikkattil dot com, Asianet). The jury has given special awards to R.S. Vimal (Jaihind TV) for direction of Jalam Kondu Murivettaval, to R. Subhash for best anchoring (Padamudra, People TV) and N.K. Ravindran for journalistic vigilance evident in different programmes (Asianet News).

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Kerala legislator bags Television best actor award

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 14 (IANS) Opposition legislator K.B. Ganesh Kumar, who has acted in 126 films and 38 television serials, Friday was selected as the best actor in the television awards announced by the ruling Front government.

Kumar, 42, a former Kerala transport minister, received the news while shooting for blockbuster Malayalam film ‘Red Chillies’, starring Mohanlal.

Kumar told IANS he was elated because this is his first award.

‘I always used to tell my friends and well wishers that when the present opposition to which I belong rules the state, an award for me is certain to invite criticism. But I am all the more happy that I have got my first award when I sit in the opposition benches, when the Left rules the state,’ said Kumar in a lighter vein.

The awards were announced here Friday by state Culture Minister M.A. Baby. Kumar bagged the award for his stellar performance in the TV serial ‘Madhavam’ which is aired on Surya TV.

Kumar, son of Kerala Congress (Pillai) party chief R. Balakrishnan Pillai, became a minister in the cabinet of A.K. Antony in 2001-03 before he made way for his father to take over as the transport minister.

Kumar since 1984 has acted in 126 films and 38 TV serials.

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Modelling an aerospace career

Thiruvananthapuram: Former Transport Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar, MLA, is a man on a mission. He has set out to promote aero-modelling, a pet passion of his, as an educational hobby among rural school children in his constituency, Pathanapuram. He has tied up with U.S.-based aero-sports enthusiast Richard alias Radhakrishnan Menon and veteran aero-modeller S. Vinod Madhavan for the non-profit venture.

Aeroplanes and flying is more than a mere pastime for the actor-turned-politician who holds a private pilot’s license with over 150 hours of flight time on single-engine propeller aircraft. The only thing he rues about flying is the death of his instructor Captain D. Rajkumar and fellow pilot Sathish in an air crash involving a Cessna aircraft in Bangalore in 1997. He has flown only rarely ever since.

The tragedy prompted him to take to aero-modelling. He has a collection of radio-controlled aero-models which he plans to use for teaching students. The growing aviation and aerospace industry offers a lot of scope for them. “I want to popularise among rural children what was once perceived as a rich man’s hobby,” he says. Richard says aero-modelling improves the applied intelligence of students. It helps them acquire basic designing, carpentry and mechanical skills. Apprentices will learn to read engineering drawings, use tools, measuring instruments and shape an array of materials (mostly wood, foam and acrylic) into desired forms, says Vinod.

Students will be taught to make and fly models of gliders, control line and radio-controlled aero-models. Ganesh’s dream is to introduce microlite flying in at least one rural school in Pathanapuram. But lack of space for a 400-metre airstrip is standing in his way.

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Meera Jasmine presented the Sri Vidya Award

Popular South Indian actress Meera Jasmine was presented the first Srividya award for the best actress in Malayalam films by minister N.K.Premachandran at a function in Thiruvanthapuram on the second death anniversary (October 19) of actress Srividya.

Meera Jasmine got this award for her performance in the Mammootty starrer Ore Kadal, directed by Shyamaprasad. Earlier, she also won the Filmfare awards (2008) for her performance in the same movie which examines the extra-martial relationship between an intellectual economist and a housewife.

K.B. Ganesh Kumar M.L.A, popular Malayalam actor and the chairman of the MLV Srividya Charitable Society, who was with Srividya during her last moments, said that Srividya was a person who helped many without expecting any publicity or reward.

Ganesh Kumar also revealed that from next year, cancer patients from poor families, especially women who come for treatment at Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvanthapuram, would be given financial aid from the foundation. Srividya Music award was given to young musician N.J. Nandini. Director K. Madhu and Principal Secretary T. Balakrishnan attended the function.

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Tele-film conveying a message, subtly

Staff Reporter

KOZHIKODE: A campaign to highlight the evils of tobacco can transcend the set paradigm – to tug at your heartstrings, and leave lasting imprints in the mind.

The tele-film ‘Agnisakshiyay’ is one such initiative that conveys a host of sentiments, while harping on the signature message ‘Tobacco is poisonous, keep off the item, do not be a slave to it’ subtly, and through symbolism such as the Great Fire Escape magic feat.

On ill-effects

The Malabar Branch of Indian Dental Association has produced the tele-film with subtle hints of the ill-effects, and trauma brought about by addiction to tobacco. The film is the outcome of the highly developed sense of social consciousness of a group of young persons who seek to launch the awareness campaign, intermingled with finer human sentiments.

The majority of the characters in `Agnisakshiyay,’ including the protagonist Dasan Madathil, are addicted to smoking and ‘pan masala.’

The story

A magician, the Great Fire Escape is Dasan’s choice feat. The ticket shows of his dare-devil act are primarily to fund the Upasana Arts and Sports Club, in a nondescript village. The director, P.K. Baburaaj, weaves the story round the village bonded by strong human relationships, and the under currents of tragedy. Concern for fellow human beings, especially those from the lower echelons of society such as the rag-picker Manian’s family, or Syed Alavi, the harmonist who dies of oral cancer, provides touching scenes. The all-pervading camaraderie is the leit motif.

Moments of suspense, as the Great Fire Escape feat is to be performed, add to the value of the portrayal.

Cast

K.B. Ganesh Kumar as magician Dasan showcases a brilliant and emotive portrayal supported ably by Vasutty (Binu Purushothaman) and Basheer (Dr. Shaju), among others. Child actor Abhiraj as Maniyan is natural and convincing.

Dr. Binu Purushothaman has penned the story, screenplay and dialogue and musical score comes from Kanesh Punoor.

Dr. C.C. Joseph is the executive producer. The photography of Sivakumar and music of Dr. C.V. Ranjith deserve commendation.

The appearance of Mr. Ganesh Kumar, MLA, as magician Dasan Madathil, and M.K. Muneer, former Minister, as doctor in the film adds a dash of glamour.

P.V. Gangadharan, vice-president, Federation of International Film Producers, performed the switch on ceremony of the 45-minute film, at a programme held at the Indian Dental Association hall here recently.

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Ganesh Kumar with fire escape

Tuesday, 13.05.2008, 12:24pm (GMT)

Kozhikode: Amidst the hues and cries of the burning illusion planned by Mohan Lal, Mr. K B Ganesh Kumar has successfully completed a fire escape for the requirement of film. He performed this successfully for the home cinema ‘agnisakshiyay’ as part of the campaign against tobacco. Ganeshkumar plays the role of a magician in the cinema. He did the adventurous performance in the presence of a huge crowd at Mavoor Cheruppa ground

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Frame Media awards announced

Monday March 17 2008 13:11 IST

Express News Service

THE Frame Media Gallup poll Award 2008 for the Mediaperson of the Year 2007 will be presented to Kairali Managing Editor John Britas.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs 10,000, a citation and a sculpture designed by Deepak Mauthatil.
The visual media awards by Frame Media were also announced with Melody, aired in Surya TV, bagging the award for the most popular music programme.
Raj Kalesh of Amrita TV has been selected for the best compere(male) award while Tara bagged the award in the female category.
‘Ente Manasaputri’ (Asianet) has been selected as the best serial. For his performance in ‘Aliyanmarum Penganmarum’ (Amrita TV), K.B.Ganeshkumar has been adjudged the best actor while Sreekala Sasidharan has been selected for the best actress award for her performance in ‘Ente Manasaputri.’
‘Pravasilokam’, aired in Kairali TV, has been adjudged the best socially-committed programme. ‘Nere Chovve’, telecast in Manorama News, has been declared the best interview show.
Anupama (India Vision) and Venu Balakrishnan (Asianet) bagged the awards for best news anchoring female and male respectively.
‘Malayali’, an album by Vineeth Sreenivasan which was aired in many channels, has been selected as the best album.
‘Cinemala’ aired in Asianet has been ajudged the best hilarious show and `Janak Janak’ the best dance show.
The awards will be given away at a function to be held in the city in April.
It was a jury with S.R.Sakthidharan as the chairman who selected the award winners. The media awards carry a cash prize of Rs 5,000, a citation and a sculpture.

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Ganesh Kumar’s letter to Krishna Iyer

The New Indian Express

Saturday March 15 2008 10:38 IST

ENS

T’PURAM: In a tit-for-tat, Kerala Congress (B) leader and former Transport Minister K B Ganesh Kumar MLA has written an open letter to Justice V R Krishna Iyer accusing him of taking several steps for personal gains.
Quoting several news reports, Ganesh has alleged that Krishna Iyer has played several tricks to escape from the clauses of the Land Reforms Act.
“As a cultural ambassador of the state, you have made several comments against various leaders. Once you had criticised former minister Gowriamma for accepting the pension of an MLA and also the family pension of T V Thomas. You had made this comment at a time when you were receiving the pension of an MLA and also the pension of a retired Supreme Court judge,” Ganesh Kumar said in his letter.

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Police cane charge Sabarimala pilgrims

The Hindustan Times

Police cane charge Sabarimala pilgrims

-Asian News Service

Thiruvananthapuram, January 05, 2008

Problems continue to besiege the famed Sabarimala shrine since the festival season began on November 17 last year. In the latest instance, policemen cane charged devotees to control the surging crowd at the shrine on Friday night.

Former minister and opposition legislator KB Ganesh Kumar on Saturday said that he had filed a complaint against a policeman whom he had stopped from caning the devotees.

Kumar said: "I am 41 now and have been going for the pilgrimage since I was six. But this is the first time that I witnessed such police brutality on pilgrims. Last night, I caught hold of a policeman using a stick. He resisted and I filed a complaint to his superior and he has now been suspended."

Around 60,000-70,000 people visit the temple every day during the festival season.

"It is sad that this happens because normally anyone who turns a pilgrim is treated with utmost respect by all," said Kumar, adding that the situation at Sabarimala had never been so grave before.

With the season peaking, the crowds have also increased dramatically.

Last season an estimated three million devotees visited the temple and collections were over Rs 10 million. This time, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) expects a 30 per cent increase.

Trouble has been brewing at the Sabarimala temple due to the serious difference of opinion between the president of the TDB CK Guptan and two other board members, P Narayanan and Sumathikutty Amma.

While Guptan has been the nominee of the Communist Party of India-Marxist and is also the son-in-law of legendary Communist EMS Nampoothiripad, Narayanan is a former Communist Party of India legislator and Sumathikutty is a nominee of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

The problems began ever since the TDB took over the production of the prasadam following the failure of the contractor to meet the demand. The daily production of prasadam is around 125,000 cans and due to shortage of cans the authorities have been forced to restrict the supply.

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New group floated in Malayalam cinema

Khaleej Times

New group floated in Malayalam cinema
By our correspondent
17 June 2008

TRIVANDRUM — The split in the Federation of Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (Macta), the only trade union in the Malayalam film industry, became official yesterday with the dissidents floating a parallel forum.

Majority of the members of the Directors Union resigned from the Macta in the wake of its decision to clamp a ban on actor Dileep for refusing to act in a film to be directed by Thulsidas after giving the call sheet.

An ad-hoc committee for giving an organisational shape to the new body has been constituted with noted director Siddique as chairman, B. Unnikrishnan as general convenor and Aroma Mohan as Treasurer. They were elected at a meeting of the dissidents held at Cochin yesterday.

The organisers claimed that over 2,700 film workers, including prominent actors Mohanlal, Mammootty, Innocent, Ganesh Kumar and P Sreekumar, directors Siddique and Fazil and producers P V Gangadharan, G. Suresh Kumar and Rajan Mathew, had taken part in the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, Mohanlal described the formation of the new body as a culmination of the cleansing process going on in the Malayalam film industry for some time now.

Ganesh Kumar, who is a legislator, said that the new body will get the support of the government. "I have talked to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Cultural Affairs Minister M.A. Baby. They will not allow anybody to prevent us from making films", he added.

Siddique said that the new body will function in a democratic manner. "Everybody associated with the film industry will have voice in the organization. Our aim is to promote cinema", he added.

Like Macta, the new organisation will give affiliation to 19 unions representing all those associated with filmmaking, from drivers to directors. The other categories of film workers have been asked to form their unions within two weeks. The meet elected convenors for all the 19 categories.

Reacting to the development, Macta general secretary Vinayan described the meet as a mega show of super stars. "Will the super stars, who earn millions of rupees, spend time for the ordinary workers?" he asked.

He said that the new body will not affect Macta in any away. Fifty or 60 persons cannot destroy an organization of 4000 members", he added.

The Indian Film Employees Confederation (IFEC) and Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI) have made it clear that they will not recognise the new body and cooperate with the films to be made by them.

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Kerala superstars back new film organization

The Peninsula - Qatar’s Leading English Daily

Web posted at: 6/17/2008 1:59:45
Source ::: The Peninsula

by John Mary

Kochi — Super stars Mohanlal and Mammootty today presided over the formation of a new organization for the Malayalam industry, which has been caught in a swirl of dissident activities in recent weeks.

A 19-member ad hoc committee has been set up with director Siddique as the chairman and B Unnikrishnan as the convener, to draft a full-fledged, well-represented organization for all sections of the industry.

At the meeting in Kochi, Mammootty assured directors, scriptwriters, singers and technicians, who left the Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA), that the industry would function free of the malcontents who had tried to exploit the organization for their personal gains.

Speakers, including Mohanlal, were at pains to portray the event as an assembly of workers, united by trade union solidarity. This was because the majority of MACTA members belong to various unions of technicians and workers as opposed to the minority of creative artistes.

Hence the numbers are still with Vinayan, the general secretary of MACTA Federation.

What led to today’s development was the rift between director Thulasidas and actor Dileep. The former accused the actor of refusing to act in his film after taking the advance. MACTA sided with the director, arguing that Dileep was being unethical in not acting after accepting the payment.

MACTA split on June 10 as the directors union decided to walk out. Indian Film Employees Confederation (IFES) and Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI) efforts to broker peace also failed.

Interestingly, the MACTA split had its political echo, with former Minister K B Ganesh Kumar, an actor, assuring the meeting that he had got the assurance of the Chief Minister and the Culture Minister on full Government backing for the new organization.

However, trade union leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the second largest ruling coalition partner, had thrown their weight behind MACTA the other day, vowing to stand by ordinary workers. Thus, the political rift between the CPM and the CPI has been reflected in their support to the rival organizations in the film industry.

Mohanlal said he was sure that it was the beginning of a cleanup in the industry. “This is the climax of the process, inevitable for the industry to sustain itself. As a film worker for the past 30 years, I will always be with you,” he said.

Vinayan, despite witnessing the star-studded effort to counter him, said MACTA enjoyed the support of both IFES and FEFSI and the industry would go on with the support of the workers

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New Malayalam film organisation launched

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Malayalam film industry yesterday witnessed the launch of a new organisation with the blessings of superstars Mammooty and Mohanlal at a star-studded convention in Kochi.
A meeting of directors, scriptwriters, singers and technicians who quit the Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA) elected a 19-member ad hoc committee to give final touches to the new organisation.
“The forum, which will come into being in three weeks, will be an apex body of 19 organisations representing people working in different areas of the industry,” director Renji Panicker said after the meeting.
“We will ensure that there will be no bans and blockades anymore and that industry functions smoothly. For us, the trade needs to be protected first for trade unions to function.”
Though the MACTA led by directors Mohan and Vinayan enjoys the support of most of its members, almost all leading directors and technicians are in the rival camp supported by stars and producers.
The trade union leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the second largest ruling coalition partner, attended a convention of MACTA held in Kochi on Sunday and said they would stand by the ordinary workers.
The MACTA comprises 19 organisations.
However, speaking on behalf of the Association of Malayalam Movie Actors (AMMA), actor-turned-politician K B Ganesh Kumar said the government had promised support to the new organisation.
“I have been in touch with the chief minister and the culture minister and both have promised their support,” said Kumar, a former minister and Kerala Congress (B) leader, who is still active in films.
Addressing the convention, Mammooty said he was confident the new organisation would help the industry to sustain and grow. He also came down heavily on Vinayan for criticising fellow star Mohanlal for his support to the dissidents.
Mohanlal said the setting up of the new organisation would take the industry to new heights.
“This is the climax of the purification that was inevitable for the industry to sustain. As a film worker for the past 30 years, I will always be with you,” Mohanlal said.
The meeting of the dissidents elected director Siddique as the chairman of the ad hoc committee and B Unnikrishnan as its convener.
The row started after director Thulasidas accused popular actor Dileep of refusing to act in his film after taking advance. The MACTA defended the director and decided not to co-operate with the actor and to boycott him.
The MACTA split on June 10 with the directors union announcing its decision to quit after conciliatory talks held by representatives of the Indian Film Employees Confederation (IFES) and the Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI) failed.
The MACTA has the support of both IFES and FEFSI.

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Support extended

The HINDU online

15th June 2008

Thiruvananthapuram: The Association of Television Media Artistes has extended its support to the new organisation being set up by artistes of Malayalam cinema, said K.B. Ganesh Kumar, president of the association.

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Guidelines to ensure wellbeing of elephants

Gulf Times – Qatar

Published: Wednesday, 18 June, 2008, 08:56 AM Doha Time

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Elephant owners, mahouts and veterinarians are getting together to frame guidelines for the management of captive elephants in Kerala to ensure the animals are not overworked and ill-treated.

The Elephant Welfare Association of the state will hold a meeting on June 29 in Thrissur, about 300km from here, to draw up a set of rules for the owners and handlers of captive elephants.
“We expect around 400 people to take part in the day-long seminar where about six papers will be presented,” elephant expert Jacob Cheeran said.
“There will also be a discussion and guidelines for proper elephant management will be drawn up by the end of the day. These will be submitted to the government.”
There are about 800 captive elephants in Kerala, and temples and churches vie with one another to have elephants dressed up for their festivals.
There have been cases of the animals running amok and trampling spectators. Over 18 people were killed by rampaging elephants this year.
“Elephants run amok either because mahouts are not able to handle them properly or they are ill-treated. The elephants should be fed properly and allowed adequate rest. They become violent when they are overworked,” said Cheeran.

K B Ganesh Kumar, president of the Kerala Elephant Owners Federation, said: “The festival season in Kerala lasts about six months and people make money by overworking the elephants. There have been instances when elephants have been made to work for more than 100 days in a six-month period, which is dangerous.”

An elephant owner gets about Rs50,000 for leasing out his animal for six months.
“There are rules for managing captive elephants but they are inadequate. We are glad that the seminar will come out with a comprehensive guideline,” said Kumar,
who owns a 19-year-old tusker valued at about Rs500,000. – IANS

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Guidelines to manage elephants in Kerala

THE TIMES OF INDIA

17 Jun 2008
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Elephant owners, mahouts and veterinarians are getting together to frame guidelines for the management of captive elephants in Kerala to ensure the animals are not overworked and ill-treated.
The Elephant Welfare Association of the state will hold a meeting June 29 in Thrissur, about 300 km from here, to draw up a set of rules for the owners and handlers of captive elephants.
Elephant expert Jacob Cheeran said: "We expect around 400 people to take part in the day-long seminar where about six papers will be presented. Following the presentations, there will be a discussion and guidelines for proper elephant management will be drawn up by the end of the day. These will be submitted to the government."
There are about 800 captive elephants in Kerala, and temples and churches vie with one another to have elephants dressed up for their festivals. Sometimes the animals run amok and trample spectators. Over 18 people have been killed by rampaging elephants this year.
"Elephants run amok either because mahouts are not able to handle them properly or they are ill-treated. The elephants should be fed properly and allowed adequate rest. They become violent when they are overworked," said Cheeran.
K.B. Ganesh Kumar, president of the Kerala Elephant Owners Federation, said: "The festival season in Kerala is close to six months and people make money by overworking the elephants. There have been instances when elephants have been made to work for more than 100 days in a six month period, which is dangerous."
An elephant owner gets about Rs.50,000 for leasing out his animal for six months.
"There are rules for managing captive elephants but they are inadequate. We are glad that

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Book on elephant management

OMAN TRIBUNE

June 20th 2008

Thiruvananthapuram: Elephant owners, mahouts and veterinarians are getting together to frame guidelines for the management of captive elephants in Kerala to ensure the animals are not overworked and ill-treated.
The Elephant Welfare Association of the state will hold a meeting June 29 in Thrissur to draw up a set of rules for the owners and handlers of captive elephants.
Elephant expert Jacob Cheeran said: "We expect around 400 people to take part in the day-long seminar where about six papers will be presented. Following the presentations, there will be a discussion and guidelines for proper elephant management will be drawn up by the end of the day. These will be submitted to the government."
There are about 800 captive elephants in Kerala, and temples and churches vie with one another to have elephants dressed up for their festivals. Sometimes the animals run amok and trample spectators. Over 18 people have been killed by rampaging elephants this year.
"Elephants run amok either because mahouts are not able to handle them properly or they are ill-treated.
The elephants should be fed properly and allowed adequate rest. They become violent when they are overworked," said Cheeran.
KB Ganesh Kumar, president of the Kerala Elephant Owners Federation, said: "The festival season in Kerala is close to six months and people make money by overworking the elephants.
There have been instances when elephants have been made to work for more than 100 days in a six month period, which is dangerous."
An elephant owner gets about Rs50,000 for leasing out his animal for six months.
"There are rules for managing captive elephants but they are inadequate. We are glad that the seminar will come out with a comprehensive guideline," said Kumar, who owns a 19-year-old tusker valued at about Rs500,000.

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A season of woes for elephants

 

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM APRIL 6. The Government's financial crisis should never stand in the way of the development of Medical Colleges in the State, which cater to the not-so-affluent and the poor sections of society, the Transport Minister, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, has said.

He was inaugurating an open house on `Epilepsy and cerebral palsy', organised by the Child Development Centre, Medical College and the Departments of Neurology and Paediatrics, as part of the on-going International Paediatric-Neuro conference here on Saturday.

Though the Government was facing an economic crunch, it was no excuse to ignore the need for life-supporting equipment in the ICUs in Medical Colleges. Most of the MCHs in the State did not have adequate life-supporting equipment like ventilators or diagnostic devices like scan machines, he said.

Even the new machines acquired by Medical Colleges had mysteriously developed snags and stopped functioning within a few days of its installation, forcing the people to approach private diagnostic centres. There was a powerful lobby working behind this, the Minister pointed out.

The Kerala Transport Development Finance Corporation, which made a profit of Rs.1 crore this year, will give Rs. 50 lakhs to the SAT Hospital to buy life-supporting equipment. The KTDFC would offer more assistance to the SAT Hospital in future too, Mr. Ganesh Kumar said.

The KTDFC was also thinking about the possibility of setting up an MRI scan centre, which could be made use of by the public at a nominal charge, he said.

He also called for a change of attitude and approach, both on the part of the hospital authorities and those visiting the hospital as by-standers, so that the doctor-public relationship was not affected.

The Minister was all praise for the interactive session, as it was important that parents of children suffering from neuro problems were fully aware of the diseases. Epilepsy, especially, had a stigma attached to it and most parents of epileptic children tended to treat them like permanent invalids, isolating them from society, he said.

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Citizens’ charter soon in Transport Department

Wednesday 02/07/2008, The Hindu

Thiruvananthapuram: Transport Minister Mathew T Thomas has said that his department proposes to issue a citizens’ charter to tackle graft and middlemen.

He also announced a series of measures to improve the functioning of his department focussing on induction of interceptors, speed radars and smoke meters, utilising the Road Safety Authority funds.

Replying to the debate on demands for grants for Transport, Printing and Stationery in the Assembly on Tuesday, the Minister claimed that the KSRTC’s performance had improved since the induction of new buses, with earnings per bus going by from Rs.6,600 to Rs.7,030 and the kilometre per bus going up from 3.84 to 4.16, registering total savings of Rs.27.39 crore.

The Minister maintained that the government had not given any assurance to bus operators about increasing the fare for students.

The Minister came in for criticism on the floor of the House, with Opposition members maintaining that the transport offices were infested with agents and middlemen who took advantage of the delay in issuing various documents, including driving licences, RC books etc.

The most clinical criticism came from the former Transport Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar who pointed out the delay in issuing RC books and driving licences despite computerisation and levying of service charge.

He used government figures to contend that the KSRTC was not performing as projected. He had inducted 500 new buses but the overall collections came down drastically, he said. The House was unanimous in its concern at the increasing road accidents. The Minister said the Road Safety Authority was examining the road safety action plan and once this was implemented there would be better focus on the issue.

The authority started work six months ago and he hoped that it would be able to constructively contribute once the staffing and procedural issues were settled.

Maintaining that his department had improved motor vehicle tax collections, he said enforcement of the laws would be made more stringent to prevent drunk driving and other offences.

With regard to the KSRTC, he proposed to induct more new buses in the coming years.

 
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News Reports - 2007

Ganesh Kumar's house attacked; CPI (M) role alleged

Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Friday, Oct 12, 2007
The HINDU
Staff Reporter

KOLLAM: The house of the Kerala Congress(B) leader and Pathanapuram MLA K.B. Ganesh Kumar came under attack in the early hours of Thursday. The house currently functions as his office.

The police said that a group of persons threw stones at the house. Windowpanes and a van parked in front of the house were damaged.

The MLA was at the house till 9 p.m. on Wednesday. The attack was around 2 a.m. on Thursday. A hartal from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. was observed by the UDF in Pathanapuram taluk on Thursday in protest against the attack.

Mr. Ganesh Kumar alleged that the CPI(M) was behind the attack. He said that since the time he had been exposing the involvement of the CPI(M) in the Avaneeshwaram liquor tragedy, he had been targeted by that party.

Several UDF leaders arrived at the house on hearing the news. Tension erupted there when a group of CPI(M) leaders also arrived to see the house. UDF activists blocked the CPI(M) leaders. The police intervened following which the CPI(M) leaders left. In the evening, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy arrived there and addressed a public meeting held in protest against the attack.

In a statement, CPI(M) district secretary K. Rajagopal denied the involvement of the party in the attack. He said the attack appeared to be stage-managed by Mr. Ganesh Kumar himself. CPI district secretary Prakash Babu too echoed the allegation.

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Joint Hartal by UDF & BJP - 30-08-2007

Pathanapauram
A 12-hour total hartal was called by the UDF and the BJP over the deaths that happened concerning spurious liquor, in Pathanapauram taluk of Kollam district on Aug.29, Wednesday.UDF workers ransacked the toddy shop, a portion of which was destroyed by the agitated local people on Tuesday.
Congress workers alleged that the police had beaten up party mandalam secretary Sukumaran Nair when he asked them take into custody the spirit and arrack seized from the toddy shop by UDF workers. However, the police said that the workers had tried to pour spirit on the police jeep which led to tension.Opposition leader Oommen Chandy who addressed a protest meeting at Avaneeswaram on Wednesday evening called upon the government to close down all toddy shops which were opened after the LDF Government came to power.
Action demanded
KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala and Kerala Congress leader and former Minister R Balakrishna Pillai, who visited the spot, demanded action against the guilty officials and toddy shop owner. Balakrishna Pillai said that the link between the CPM leadership and the illicit spirit lobby was exposed.The attempt by some DYFI workers to prevent Pathanapuram MLA K B Ganesh Kumar from visiting the spot also created tension at Avaneeswaram and Vilakkudy areas on Tuesday evening.

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UDF MLAs begin indefinite fast

Tuesday September 18 2007 00:54 IST

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

T’PURAM: Five UDF MLAs began an indefinite fast in front of the Assembly on Monday to protest against the failure of the State Government to order a comprehensive probe into the controversial ISRO land deal.

The MLAs who began the fast are Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Joseph M Puthussery, KB Ganesh Kumar, UC Raman and KK Shaju.

Earlier, Opposition walked out of the Assembly over the issue. Raising the issue through a submission, Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said that Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan had said in the Assembly the other day that the amendment made by the UDF Govt in the Vesting of Ecologically Fragile Land Act resulted in over 15,000 acres being encroached upon. This was false, he said. He wanted the government to order a CBI probe. He challenged the government to conduct an inquiry into any irregularities connected with the land deal during the previous UDF Government.

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Land deal: Oppn MLAs begin indefinite fast

MSN India

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thiruvananthapuram: Five Opposition MLAs in Kerala today began an indefinite fast on the foyer of the assembly, demanding a comprehensive probe into the Merchiston estate land deal at Ponmudi for ISRO's Space Institute and the resignation of the forest minister.

The fast began after Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said in the assembly that it was the 2003 Amendment Act brought in by the previous UDF government which enabled a person identified as Xavie Mano Mathew to get possession of the Ecologically Fragile Land (EFL) at Ponmudi, which he later sold to ISRO.

Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy, who brought the issue in the House through a submission, said the government was trying to protect a 'corrupt' minister. The rules of the 2003 Act were framed only this year by the present government, which enabled Xavie proceed with the land transaction, he said.

He said the probe could also cover the lapses during the previous government's tenure. Announcing the indefinite fast by five MLAs, Chandy led the entire Opposition out of the House.

Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan (Cong), Joseph M Puthussery (KC-M), U C Raman (IUML), K B Ganesh Kumar (KC-B) and K K Shaj (JSS) are the members observing fast.

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State tuskers find space on the Web

Sunday, Nov 04, 2007, The Hindu

KOCHI: A brief history of the nearly 1,000 domesticated elephants and their pictures in the State will soon be available on the worldwide web thanks to the efforts of Kerala Elephant Owners’ Federation, a newly-formed organisation of elephant-lovers.

K.B. Ganesh Kumar, chairman of the federation said that work to upload these details was on and the web site would soon be launched.
Solving issues

The federation had its formation meeting in the city on Saturday. Mr. Ganesh Kumar said that the organisation aimed at addressing issues facing elephants and their owners. The organisation, he said, would bring under its umbrella the smaller forums formed in different districts to address issues on a common platform.

The federation hopes to bring about a code of conduct for elephant-owners in the State, said Babu Namboodiri, cine artiste and an elephant-lover and owner. Mr. Ganesh Kumar said that about 250 elephant-owners turned up at the meeting. Nearly 200 of them expressed willingness to join the federation, he said.
Better health facilities

The new organisation will join hands with research bodies, veterinarians and elephant-lovers to provide better health care for these animals used widely in temple and church festivals.

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Chief Secretary’s decision to quit prompts walkout

Saturday, Sep 15, 2007, The Hindu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Secretary Lizzie Jacob’s decision to seek voluntary retirement on being dragged into the controversy over the Ponmudi land deal sparked off an Opposition walkout from the Assembly during zero hour on Friday followed by a day-long sit-in by four UDF members in the Assembly foyer for the second day running to press a probe into the land deal.

The Opposition accused the Government of having tried to make officials, including the Chief Secretary, scapegoats in order to shield Ministers who were involved in the land deal.

They took particular exception to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s remark that the Chief Secretary had kept him in the dark about the construction of a helipad for the anticipated VVIP visit and alleged that if there was a failure, it was on the part of the Chief Minister and the Ministers.

The Opposition deputed a new four-member MLAs’ team comprising Babu Prasad (Congress), M. Jayaraj (KC-M), M. Ummer (IUML) and K.B. Ganesh Kumar (KC-B) for the sit-in.
Chief Minister’s stand

Earlier, opposing the notice for an adjournment motion given by K. Sudhakaran (Congress) and others, the Chief Minister said he had always held the Chief Secretary in high regard as an efficient officer, but had never hesitated to point out her failures.

She had also taken such criticism in a cordial manner. The Government had, in general, taken this stand with regard to all its officials and employees, including IAS officers. The Opposition, he said, was trying to blow the issue out of proportion for political gain.

The Government would be only ready to accept constructive criticism from the Opposition, but would not give credence to ill-motivated attacks, Mr. Achuthanandan said.

The Chief Minister also accused the Opposition of having tried over the last several days to divert the focus of the Assembly from the legislative business before it by raising Kiliroor ‘VIP’ issue and other similar issues.

This, he said, was nothing but part of a bid by the Opposition to make it appear that there was administrative failure under this Government after their having allowed big shots to plunder the State..
‘No basis for criticism’

Before leading the Opposition members out of the House, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy said there was no basis for the Chief Minister’s criticism of the Chief Secretary as the primary responsibility of keeping the Chief Minister posted about anticipated VVIP visit lay with the General Administration Department, which coordinated VVIP visits and which was under his control.

The file relating to VVIP visit had originated in the General Administration Department, which had done all the coordination with the other departments.

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Toddy kills two in Kollam district

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2007, The Hindu

KOLLAM: Two persons were reported killed in Kollam district on Tuesday after consuming “excessive amounts” of toddy of dubious quality. The incident took place at Avaneeshwaram, near Punalur. Eleven person who consumed the toddy were admitted to Government Medical College Hospital (MCH), Thiruvananthapuram and eight others to Punalur Government Hospital.

Sources said the toddy was served at a shop at Avaneeshwaram to regular customers as an Onam gift. The deceased were identified as Sudhakaran, 35, and Georgekutty, 54. The death of a third person, Mohammed Sherief, 55, who also consumed liquor from the same shop, has been officially attributed to cardiac arrest. Minister for Excise P.K. Gurudasan told The Hindu that he had directed the police to arrest the owner of the toddy shop. Mr. Gurudasan said that according to medical reports given to him, the deaths were due to excessive consumption of the toddy. The Minister visited the victims at the hospital late on Tuesday night.

Following reports of the death, a mob descended on the scene and set fire to the shop. A police posse under the supervision of Kollam SP M.R. Ajith Kumar is camping at the site. There was a skirmish between a group of DYFI activists and Pathanapuram MLA K.B. Ganesh Kumar when he arrived at the shop on hearing the news. The police brought the situation under control.
Preliminary finding

Our Staff Reporter writes from Thiruvananthapuram: According to doctors at Thiruvananthapuram MCH, after preliminary investigation there was no trace of formaldehyde in the blood sample of the victims. Those admitted to the MCH are Samuel, 55, and Prasannakumar, 28, residents of Vilakkudi, Santhan, 70, from Elambal, Ramchandran, 55, Gopi, 45, Sureshkumar, 27, Anil kumar, 27 and Gopi Pillai, 60, all from Avaneeswaram, Anandan, 36, Subair, 54, and Saludeen, 46 from Kunnikkode. The condition of Samuel and Shantan is reported to be critical.

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UDF takes out MC Road march

Friday, Feb 02, 2007, The Hindu

KOLLAM: Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala has said that the showdown between the Chief Minister and the Ministers plus the tiff between the Ministers and the bureaucracy was hampering the development activities in the State.

Inaugurating the United Democratic Front (UDF) march from Chadayamangalam on Thursday for speeding up the repair works on the Main Central (MC) Road, Mr. Chennithala said since the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government came to power not a single rupee worth of development activity had taken place in the State.

He said that the UDF march is for registering protest against the LDF Government's attitude of ignoring development of the State. The plight of the MC Road is proof of the approach of the LDF Government towards the State, he said.

The Ministers poking their noses into everything is the main reason why repair work on the MC Road came to a standstill. Mr. Chennithala inaugurated the march by handing over a flag to march captain K.B. Ganesh Kumar, MLA.

DCC president and chairman of the district UDF committee Sooranad Rajashekaran presided over the inaugural function.

The march was from Chadayamangalam to Kottarakara through the MC Road. At Ayur, Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran addressed the march.

In the evening a parallel march from Chengannur led by Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, MLA, joined the one led by Mr. Ganesh Kumar at Kottarakara where a public meeting was held. Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy inaugurated the meeting. UDF leaders R.

Balakrishna Pillai, Thalekunnil Basheer, Kodikunnil Suresh, Hidur Mohammed and A.Yunus Kunju, addressed.

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News Reports - 2006

Balakrishna Pillai and son aim to repeat winning feat

GULF NEWS
By Akhel Mathew, Correspondent
Published: April 17, 2006
Kollam: Former Kerala chief minister K. Karunakaran and his son and president of the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran), K. Muraleedharan may well be the best-known father-son political duo in Kerala, but the state is presently concerned about another father-son pair that is under some stress to maintain the political status quo.
Kerala Congress (B) chief R. Balakrishna Pillai, many-time minister in the state and identified strongly with the Kottarakara constituency, and his son K.B. Ganesh Kumar are in the fray once again, hoping to repeat their winning performance of 2001.
Those were the heady days for Pillai and Ganesh Kumar when both were elected from Kottarakara and Pathanapuram respectively and both went on to become ministers in the A.K. Antony cabinet, one after the other.
First it was Ganesh Kumar's turn to be transport minister in the Antony government when his father was embroiled in a legal tangle and once he was absolved of that, Pillai himself took over the transport ministry.
Since then, however, it has been bitter times for them, as well as for the Kerala Congress (B). When Oommen Chandy took over the mantle from Antony, Pillai did not find a place in the cabinet and since then he has been left in a political wilderness of sorts.
The fall has been so stark that Pillai is even talking about the irrelevance of the Kerala Congress itself and about the likelihood of merging his party with the Congress after the assembly poll.
But at the moment, what Pillai and his film star-turned politician son Ganesh Kumar have to face is an electoral battle each in his respective constituency.
Pillai had annexed both Kottarakara and Pathanapuram for himself and his son even before the United Democratic Front had given its final word on seat allocations, but such confidence is not visible in terms of political upper hand in the constituencies.
For a change, Pillai faces a strong candidate in Kottarakara in the form of advocate Aysha Potty of the Communist Party of India Marxist, a former village council president and considered an able leader.
Another advantage seen for the CPM candidate is that Kottarakara is one constituency where the party does not face any opposition from any of the coalition members of the Left Democratic Front.
Ganesh Kumar, on the other hand, is banking on the developmental works he had done in his constituency to repeat his victory. However, unlike in 2001 when the UDF was riding an anti-LDF wave in the state, Ganesh Kumar will have to win on his own merit this time. He is pitted against K.R. Chandramohan of the Communist Party of India.
If both do manage to beat back their LDF opponents, it could well signal the emergence of another long-playing father-son political story in Kerala.

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LDF romps home with two-thirds majority

The Hindu Business Line
Friday, May 12, 2006
Our Bureau
Thiruvananthapuram , May 11

The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has returned to power winning two-thirds majority over the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) in the Assembly elections held in three phases between April 22 and May 2.

LDF won 98 of the 140 seats in the House, while the Congress-led UDF had to be content with 42 seats, a sharp fall from the 100 seats it secured in the last Assembly elections. Thus, it was almost a reversal of fortunes for the two fronts. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) yet again failed to find its way to the Assembly.

The elections saw several of the incumbent ministers and prominent leaders of the UDF biting the dust. Mr V.S Achuthanandan, Opposition leader and widely talked of as the next chief minister, won from Malampuzha constituency in Palakkad district with a margin of more than 20,000 votes, while the Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, romped home with almost a similar margin from his traditional Puthupally constituency in Kottayam district.

Setback for IUML

The ministers who lost the race are: Mr E.T. Mohammed Basheer (Education); Dr M.K. Muneer (Public Works); Ms K.R. Gowri (Agriculture); Mr M.V. Raghavan (Cooperation and Ports); Mr Dominic Presentation (Fisheries); Mr Babu Divakaran (Labour); and Mr. A. Sujanapal (Health).

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a dominant constituent of the UDF, suffered its worst setback in the history of the Assembly elections bagging just seven seats this time as against 16 it won in 2001. Apart from the ministers Dr M.K. Muneer and Mr E.T. Mohammed Basheer, the party General-Secretary and former industries minister, Mr P.K. Kunhalikutty, lost the electoral battle from Kuttipuram constituency in Malappuram district.

DIC-K setback

The Democratic Indira Congress-Karunakaran (DIC-K), which broke away from Congress and later became part of the UDF in an electoral adjustment, also ended up in a void with only one of its 18 candidates in the fray touching the tape. The party President, Mr K. Muraleedharan, tasted defeat from Koduvally constituency in Kozhikode district.

Among the notable losers are the former union minister and BJP leader, Mr O. Rajagopal at Palakkad; the former transport minister, Mr R. Balakrishna Pillai at Kottarakara; and the former water resources minister, Mr T.M. Jacob, at Piravam. Mr Pillai's son and noted film actor Mr K.B. Ganesh Kumar, who also had a stint as the transport minister in the UDF ministry, however, was elected from Pathanapuram constituency.

The LDF Convener, Mr Paloli Muhammed Kutty, won with a thumping majority from Ponnani constituency, while his counterpart in the UDF, Mr P.P. Thankachan, narrowly lost from Kunnathunad constituency. In all, the LDF asserted its supremacy in 10 districts of the State. The UDF, on the other hand, could have an upper hand in only three districts, while in Kottayam district, the two fronts drew even.

Projects in limbo

A slew of development projects in the State are awaiting decisions by the new government. The Smart City project in Kochi proposed by Dubai Internet City, which was mired in controversy mainly on the issue of land transfer, is one of them.

Another major project in the pipeline is the Vizhinjam international container trans-shipment terminal for which the tendering process is over. The project is awaiting security clearance from the Centre as two Chinese companies are part of the consortium that won the tender.

Besides, the new government will have to pay urgent attention to the struggling public sector enterprises in the State. The various measures attempted by successive governments to turn them around have failed and they have continued to be a drag on the State's finances.

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Tributes to Sri Vidya

The Hindu
Friday Review 27th October 2006
K.B. Ganesh Kumar

I met Srividya on the sets of `Adaminte Variyal' as a star struck fan. Later, in my debut film `Erakal' I had to act with veterans like Srividya, Thilakan and Nedumudi Venu. I was terribly nervous but Srividya went out of the way to make me feel comfortable and encouraged me. That was the beginning of a bond between us. We continued to keep in touch.

It was during the shoot of `Olympian Antony' that we became close. She went through a legal crisis and I was able to help her and guide her. Finally, it was perhaps because of our bond that she decided to settle in Thiruvananthapuram. She used to say that I was her father, mother, brother and friend.

She had tremendous will power that helped her overcome many of the setbacks in her life. Her greatest desire was to begin a school of music in her mother's name. I intend to see that her desire is fulfilled. But it will be in her name and her mother's too. We plan to start the school in her house in the capital city.
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'Srividya loved life, and loved to live

Rediff News
Shobha Warrier
Srividya

When Sreekumaran Thampi, a veteran Malayalam film director whose most prolific period was the seventies, cast Srividya in the title role of the television serial Amma Thampurati, he was hoping against hope the veteran Malayalam actress would triumph over adversity and live long enough to complete the mega serial.

That hope came unstuck Thursday night, when Srividya passed away at the Sri Chitra Thirunal Hospital, Trivandrum, having completed just 35 episodes of the planned mega-serial; she stopped shooting two months ago, as her final battle with cancer consumed her time and energy.

'She was one person who loved life, and loved to live,' Thampi said in tribute over various television channels. 'When I met her at the Sree Uthradam Thirunal Hopsital in Trivandrum two days before her death, she was being given a blood transfusion.

'At that moment too, she spoke of going home and eating good food. She survived the last few years only because of her will power and desire to live.'

She has in her time played the sufferer from acts of god and man in umpteen films, but in real life, she refused to martyr herself to the disease that consumed her. Thus, she never revealed that she had cancer, never asked for sympathy, never looked for flocks of VIP visitors or the homage of nostalgic fans.

Only two people were with her during her final battle - actor and former minister Ganesh Kumar, the son of former minister Balakrishna Pillai, and his mother. She didn't have a flock of relatives around her bedside either; as for friends, the only constant was Thampi, who was almost like a sibling.

Though born to ML Vasantha Kumari, one of the most illustrious of Carnatic singers, it was dance, not music, that captured Srividya's early interest.

Though she did learn classical music, it was as a classical dancer that she earned an early reputation. Her interest was fanned by the fact that when young, her mother often left her in company of the famed Travancore sisters Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini, actresses and dancers all.

She was 13 when she broke into Malayalam cinema; three years later, she first captured the popular imagination with her role in Chattambikavala (1969), opposite the then 60-year-old Satyan, who by then had won a national award for his role in Chemmeen and was firmly installed as Malayalam cinema's most iconic star.

K Balachander, the doyen of Tamil cinema, brought her to the Tamil marquee opposite Kamal Hassan and 'Major' Sunderrajan in the 1972 film Apoorva Raagangal. Though she was 19 at the time, she played the older woman for whom the young Kamal falls; it is a different matter that she went on to play Kamal's mother in Apoorva Sahodarargal (Appu Raja, in Hindi).

She has been paired opposite the leading actors of two generations. She has played mother to the likes of Mammootty (with whom she has also been paired as wife, lover and sister), Mohanlal (she has also played his sister), Nagarjuna, Chiranjeevi et al.

Her heyday was the seventies, and though she acted in Tamil and Telugu as well, it was Malayalam cinema that saw her at her best. She won a Kerala State acting award for her role in Sreekumaran Thampi's Jeevitham Oru Gaanam.

Life doled out the good and bad in uneven measure. Thus, while in her profession she made the transition from star to top quality character actress with ease and grace, her personal life was marked by a series of traumas.

At the peak of her career, she married businessman George Thomas, only to end up in an abusive marriage that lasted nine years. She ended up losing her money and assets; it took a prolonged court battle, which ended in the Supreme Court, before her home and other properties were restored to her in the late nineties.

And by the time she resolved that trauma, illness claimed her. It was while she was bereft of her earnings and her property that she moved back to Trivandrum from her home town Chennai, and began focusing on television serials, in which she quickly made a mark, starring in several well received ones.

Through it all, she retained her interest in dance and not too long ago, performed the first full dance recital of her life, in Kozhikode, Kerala a performance that lasted three hours.

Kaithaprom Damodaran Namboodiripad, a Carnatic singer and popular lyricist, was responsible, and the event had its genesis in a chance meting on a train.

Kaithaprom asked her, 'Why hasn't the daughter of ML Vasantha Kumari given a single kacehri in her life?'; the ensuing discussion ended with him persuading Srividya to make her dance debut.

He later remembered that she was extremely grateful to him for his persuasion.

Srividya's body has been taken to her residence at PTP Nagar, in Trivandrum; it will lie in state at the VJT Hall, for public homage from 10 am Friday (October 22). At 12.30 pm, she will be cremated at the Karamana Brahmana Samaja crematorium.

'Life did not give her anything to smile about, because she was always battling against something or the other,' her close friend Ganesh Kumar said of her.

Perhaps it is a mark of her character that Srividya's smile, warm, ever present, is the final memory those who knew her, and admired her on screen, will cherish as the final keepsake.

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Actor in the fray

Tuesday, Apr 18, 2006, The Hindu

Unlike Tamil Nadu, Kerala is a place where cinema and politics do not mix. Many film stars have tried their luck at the elections without success. They included a matinee idol, who contested the Assembly election at the height of his career. He barely managed not to forfeit his deposit. K.B. Ganesh Kumar is probably the only known film star to win a battle at the hustings. He won the last Assembly election from the Pathanapuram constituency in Kollam district defeating his CPI rival and ex-MLA K. Prakash Babu by a comfortable margin of around 10,000 votes. He became a Minister and handled the Transport portfolio creditably till his father, the Kerala Congress (B) leader, R. Balakrishna Pillai, overcame a legal hurdle to take over as Minister. Mr. Ganesh Kumar is again contesting from the same constituency. The CPI has fielded a stronger candidate against him this time. Popular Malayalam film stars are campaigning for Mr. Ganesh Kumar. If he wins a second time, he could well set a trend in Kerala politics and inspire other Malayalam stars to try their luck too.

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Natesan predicts 85 seats for LDF

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006, The Hindu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Electing the Chief Minister is the prerogative of the CPI(M) and the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam will not intervene in such issues, Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan has said.

Participating in a Meet-the-Press programme organised by the Kesari Memorial Journalists Trust here on Thursday, Mr. Natesan said the Yogam had extended support to the LDF, but would never insist on anyone's candidature for the Chief Minister's post. It was the privilege of the CPI(M). There was a wave in favour CPI(M) Polit Bureau member V.S. Achuthanandan and that would work to the advantage of the LDF. Leader of the Congress and the UDF need not bother about the Chief Minister candidate of the LDF. It would be too early to comment about Mr. Achuthanandan's administerial skills. His differences of opinion with Mr. Achuthanandan had been sorted out, Mr. Natesan said.

Predicting 85 seats for the LDF in the Assembly elections, Mr. Natesan said that but for two UDF candidates K.B. Ganesh Kumar and yet another candidate (whom he did not name) the LDF would have clean sweep in Kollam district. Even if the LDF comes to power, the Yogam would not stake any claim about its role in the victory of the front, he said.

Disciplinary action would be taken against the Yogam office-bearers who were working against its official stand in the Assembly elections. Certain specific instances including those in Varkala had come to the notice of the Yogam and action would be taken against those who violate the official decision.

Since the Yogam was a conglomeration of the leaders of various parties, it was not against such leaders contesting in their party ticket, but indiscipline of office-bearers would not be tolerated.

The Yogam had unanimously decided to support the LDF, Mr. Natesan said.

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Political offspring are now OK

Tuesday April 4 2006

PALAKKAD: As in previous years, this edition of the Assembly election also has its share of ‘son-rises.’ But one distinct feature this time is that there is lesser resistance to the trend.

The Nehru family had come in for much ridicule by the Opposition when Indira Gandhi and later Sanjay and Rajiv were brought into electoral politics.

The statement by K. Karunakaran that the name of his son K. Muraleedharan had come up for candidature when he had gone out to pass urine had sparked off an intense debate a few years ago.

The CPM was also taken to task when the late E.M.S. Namboodiripad announced the candidature of the late E.M. Sreedharan from the Sreekrishnapuram Assembly segment and later from the Mukundapuram Lok Sabha constituency.

But irrespective of the fact that sons of politicians seeking tickets do not evoke much debate now, the people of the state do teach some hard lessons to the leaders as seen in the last Lok Sabha elections.

The defeats of K. Muraleedharan and Padmaja in the Wadakkancherry Assembly segment and in the Mukundapuram Lok Saha seat respectively were cases in point.

Similar was the defeat of Jose K. Mani, son of Kerala Congress (M) supremo K.M. Mani, who was relegated to the third position in the Muvattupuzha Lok Sabha constituency.

However, the voters have recognised the children of politicians who have carved a niche through their independent work.

The victory of A. Sampath from the Chirayankeezh Lok Sabha constituency, which was once represented by his father Anirudhan of the CPM, stands out.

Sampath had come out of the shadows of his father Anirudhan, who had emerged a giant killer by defeating former Chief Minister R. Shankar.

This time, the father-son duo contesting the elections is R. Balakrishna Pillai from Kottarakkara and his son K.B. Ganesh Kumar from Pathanapuram. Ganesh Kumar has already made a mark in the tinsel world and as a minister.

Out of the eight seats allotted to the Janata Dal by the LDF, the party has decided to field children of leaders in two seats. K.P. Mohan of the Janata Dal (S), who is in the fray in Peringalam, is the son of former forest minister P.R. Kurup. Shreyamskumar, son of M.P. Veerendrakumar MP, is the Janata Dal (S) candidate for the Kalpetta Assembly segment, which was represented by his father in 1987.

Shibu Baby John, son of veteran RSP leader Baby John, will be fighting the elections as the UDF candidate from the pocketborough of his father, Chavara, against another high-profile candidate N.K. Premachandran.

M.K. Muneer of the IUML, son of former Chief Minister C.H. Mohammed Koya, is pitted against a formidable Manjalamkuzhi Ali in the Mankada Assembly segment.

The sentiments towards his father have to be worked to the hilt if Muneer is to romp home from here. Babu Divakaran, son of former PWD Minister T.K. Divakaran, is fighting a hard battle against P.K. Gurudasan of the CPM in the Kollam Assembly segment.

K.P. Rajendran of the CPI, who is the son of former Minister K.P. Prabhakaran, is in the fray from Kodungalloor. IUML candidate P.K. Abdurabb, son of former Deputy Chief Minister Avukkaderkutty Naha, is in the fray from Manjeri.

Benoy Viswom, deputy parliamentary party leader of the CPI, who is fighting from Nadapuram, is the son of veteran CPI leader C.K. Viswanathan. Adoor Prakash contesting on the Congress ticket from Konni is the son of the late CPI leader Adoor Kunhiraman.

There are a few unlucky ones too. P.K. Basheer, a Youth League leader and son of former Chief Whip the late Seethi Haji, made it up to the final list from Kondotty, but could not get the ticket.

Similarly, P.S. Supal, son of the late CPI leader P.K. Sreenivasan, was denied a ticket by the CPI from Punalur on the rule that those who had served two terms need not be fielded again.

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Reel gimmick vs real politick

Monday April 17 2006

Soap is the password of this avant-garde to hearts. And none needs to give this chip off the old political bloc lessons in translating fame into votes with the inherited shrewdness sharpening his skills.

The second episode looks more thrilling as the hero is fighting an anti-incumbency bogey. And it’s time for K.B.Ganesh Kumar to give way for the reel gimmick than real politick.

And what better ersatz than actor Dileep who travelled meandering roads of Thenmala in Pathanapuram constituency to lure rural voters; to inscribe the note book, Ganesh’s symbol, in their hearts.

The entry was indeed grand. High-decibel sound boxes atop jeeps plastered with smiling mugshots of the actor-politician announced the cameo role of Dileep hours before the campaign.

Echoes travelled through the dense foliage of Thenmala inviting men and women, boys and girls to have a glimpse of the star duo.

And for these poor labour voters it was a dream day out: A star campaigner for a star candidate; celluloid possibility turns real-time show in a rural theatre to present them a lore for tomorrow to be told and retold to generations to come.

And the comedian performed the act true to his virtuoso status. Sowing quotable quotes among the voters, the duo proceed to the next stage leaving the crowd in a trance; a smile dawns on every face and the bliss gives credence to the script.

But this is no cachet for Ganesh. In spite of the development initiatives, Ganesh is away from a carte blanche mandate.

“But the fight here is not political. It’s his personality vs politics. We’re sure that voters will acknowledge the good things that he had done for this constituency,” says Ramakrishna Pillai, one of the office managers.

The same mood is visible kilometres away on the face of Jose, a timber merchant: “He has done a lot of good things. He deserves to win. But it’s politics and anything can happen,” he says. And that’s why Ganesh has to take help from a reel colleague.

There are so many Tamil voters in this constituency. And for them the presence of Dileep will make all the difference. The laughter mystique posing a solution to arcane voter psyche.

The image also mounts an interesting fame. Perhaps, Ganesh is the only candidate gambling on the possibility of flaunting star value for scoring a second win.

The savior faire acknowledges that more than concrete bridges and overhead power lines, it’s a face with grease that can launch a thousand votes.

Well, some lessons for the father sweating it out in Kottarakkara?

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Minister promises measures to solve drinking water problem

Date 23/05/2006, The Hindu

KOLLAM: A high-level meeting here on Monday decided to take urgent measures to address the drinking water problem in the district.

The meeting was chaired by Labour Minister P.K. Gurudasan and attended by ministers C. Divakaran and Mullakkara Ratnakaran.

Mr. Gurudasan told mediapersons that the Government would be taking effective measures to solve the shortage of drinking water. It was following a decision of the Cabinet that district-level meetings were being called to address the drinking water problem in the State, Mr. Gurudasan said. The Cabinet meeting slated for May 24 would announce the programmes intended to be taken in this connection.

The meeting was attended by MLAs K.B. Ganesh Kumar, Kovur Kunjumon, B. Raghavan and N. Anirudhan, Mayor N. Padmalochanan, District Panchayat president K. Devaki, Paravur Municipal Chairman K.P. Kurup and Punalur Municipal Chairman Suresh Kumar in addition to the office-bearers of the local bodies and officers of the Water Resources Department.

At the meeting, the MLAs alleged that many of the drinking water projects in the district could not be completed in a time bound manner because of the negative attitude of a section of the officers in the Water Resources department.

The MLAs even wanted the drinking water distribution to be entrusted to the local bodies.

The meeting decided to convene emergency taluk level meetings at 11 a.m. on Tuesday to assess the gravity of the drinking water shortage in each area and suggest ways to overcome the same.

The expenditure needed for the purpose will also be computed at the meeting.

Collector B. Sreenivas directed all tahsildars to submit reports by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

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News Reports - 2005

The role of women

Thursday, Aug 11, 2005, The Hindu

Women from different walks of life assembled at the Pavakkulam Mahadeva Temple Auditorium at Kaloor on Saturday to discuss the role of women in different media.

The seminar was organised as part of the 4th Ponkala Festival to be held at the Pavakkulam Temple on September 30.

The seminar was inaugurated by the former chairperson of Kerala Women's Commission D. Sreedevi. The participants included eminent women from the State who had made their mark in various fields, including journalism, television, cinema and publishing. There were also some men, including the former Transport Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar and journalist Moncy Joseph, as participants.

The participants urged the media to highlight the power of womanhood and to avoid portraying women in an undignified manner.

Journalist Leela Menon, Malayalam writer K.B. Sreedevi and film actress Kukku Parameswaran were among those who spoke at the seminar.

Ms. Sreedevi condemned vulgarity being highlighted in the mass media in the name of fashion channels and other television programmes. She said the Cable Television Regulation Act clearly stated that the programmes shown on television should uphold the dignity of women. She called upon people working in various areas of the mass media to come out with works that projected the power of women.

Ms. Sreedevi called upon young women writers to draw inspiration from the tradition of Vedic culture.

Ms. Menon called upon the women to develop their sense of responsibility and the capacity to react to any situation.

Ms. Parameswaran demanded that a Censor Board should be constituted to control the contents aired through the television channels.

Mr. Ganesh Kumar said mothers could play a great role in empowering their daughters. Mothers can inculcate strength of character in their daughters, which will help them save themselves from precarious situations, he said.

Mr. Joseph highlighted the role of women's magazines in empowering women.

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News Reports - 2004

Ganesh Kumar turns against Pillai

The Times of India
4 Oct 2004

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Congress-B MLA K B Ganesh Kumar on Monday sprang a surprise by openly criticizing his father and party leader R Balakrishna Pillai for taking action against his followers in Pathanapuram constituency which he represents in the assembly.
Pillai had initiated disciplinary action against partymen loyal to Ganesh Kumar and did not invite them for a meeting of KC-B workers at Pathanapuram the other day.
Ganesh Kumar, KC-B general secretary, told reporters here that he would not approve the meeting convened by party chairman Pillai. Ganesh said he was deeply hurt when the chairman took action against his well-wishers.
Ganesh said he was not in favour of Pillai's stand against the official UDF candidate at Adoor in the last Lok Sabha elections. To a question, he said he would not leave politics and would contest again from Pathanapuram.
Ganesh Kumar had been Transport Minister in the A K Antony government, a post he vacated for his father after the latter was exonerated in a case pending against him. Pillai was not included in the Oommen Chandy ministry after Antony resigned as Chief Minister.

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Pillai, Jacob to wait and watch

Newindpress.com

Saturday September 4 2004

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It appears that R. Balakrishna Pillai and T.M. Jacob may wait and watch for the time being rather than precipitating a crisis in the UDF over their non-inclusion in the Cabinet.
Reacting to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's statement, Pillai said that he never had any expectations. But Jacob reserved his comments.
Chandy made it clear in Delhi that neither of them would be given berths in his Cabinet.
Pillai told this website’s newspaper that he ``never had any expectations''.
`Chandy's decision was not unexpected. We never approached anyone asking them to include us in the Cabinet,'' he said.
When asked about his future association with the UDF, Pillai said that he was still part of the front. `A decision with regard to the long-term association with the UDF would be taken by the party later,'' he said.
On the issue of his son K.B. Ganesh Kumar joining the Cabinet, Pillai said that only the party had the power to take a decision in that regard.
Jacob said that the party working committee would take stock of the situation and take an appropriate decision on Saturday. He said that none had told him that his party would not be included in the ministry.
Giving enough signs of serious differences with his father, Ganesh Kumar said in Kochi that some forces were trying to oust him from the party. He said that a lobby of private bus operators was behind the decision to keep him away from party meetings.
He said that he had spoken to the Chief Minister and expressed the party's desire to include his father in the Cabinet. ``I prefer to be in the UDF,'' he said.

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Ganesh Kumar hits out at Balakrishna Pillai

Tuesday, Oct 05, 2004, The Hindu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, OCT. 4. The affairs of the Kerala Congress(B), led by the former Transport Minister, R. Balakrishna Pillai, hit a new low when his son and party general secretary, K.B. Ganesh Kumar, came out openly against some of his actions as party leader.

Mr. Ganesh Kumar, addressing a press conference, rejected Mr. Pillai's action disbanding the Pathanapuram Assembly committee of the Kerala Congress(B). He claimed that a majority of the workers in Pathanapuram were with him and did not recognise the party leader's action.

According to news reports, Mr. Pillai had disbanded the committee and installed a new one with a new president. This apparently seems to have irked his son, who represents the constituency. Mr. Ganesh Kumar has not been sharing cordial relations with his father for quite some time now and has been an open critic of some of Mr. Pillai's action as Minister and party leader. He alleged that Mr. Pillai had installed people who had no following and termed the action as "unilateral and against all democratic norms". He said that he had been silently enduring Mr. Pillai's actions and did not propose to put up with it any further.

UDF candidate

He criticised Mr. Pillai for openly campaigning against the United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate from Adoor in the recent Lok Sabha elections. "There is nothing wrong in expressing one's opinion about a particular candidate. But once the UDF clears his name, then all are bound to accept it," he said.

Mr. Ganesh Kumar also made it clear that he would not resign as MLA and would continue to be in the UDF till the ruling coalition threw him out. In reply to a question, he said that he was not sure whether Mr. Pillai would join hands with parties, particularly the CPI(M), which had carried out a campaign of political vendetta against him.

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News Reports - 2003

Kerala in Talks with GIC Cos for Golden-hours Trauma care

The Financial Express
Posted online: Saturday , February 08, 2003 at 0000 hrs IST

Thiruvananthapuram, February 7: Kerala government is in negotiations with GIC Companies for insurance cover for the goldenhours (first 48 hours) traumacare bills for road accident victims. This will be the first traumacare insurance in the country, according to Kerala transport minister K B Ganesh Kumar.

Claims, under the proposed insurance, could be made not based on the first-two-days bill actuals, but on the basis of pre-fixed slabs, to which the bills approximate to. Apart from government hospitals, private hospitals and NGOs have come forward with support for the insurance set-up. "While the vehicle-owner and family members may have immediate resources to cater to traumacare, employees like car driver are too often left to bleed without the right first-aid or timely critical care. It is to correct such an anomaly that any-accident-victim insurance is being put to shape," Mr Ganesh Kumar said.

Private hospitals in the Salem-Aluva route have already offered 25 per cent discount for traumacare for road accident victims. This will soon be extended to Aluva-Thiruvananthapuram and Malabar region, the minister said. State government has also plans to set up traumacare centres on the highway, he added.

This has been in response to the latest road accidents tally in Kerala, which showed that although the number of accidents had fallen marginally, the number of deaths was up by 118 in 2002. In number of road accident deaths, Kerala is third in the country. "State government will usher road saftey Bill in the current session of the Assembly to tighten the saftey screws in the present motoring system. Patrolling system agaist motor offenses will be made mobile to improve the swoopdown on violators," Mr Ganesh Kumar said.

As part of the measures recommended by the state road safety council, it was proposed to make speed-governor chips mandatory for vehicles on road in Kerala. This has already been tried in Kerala State Road Transport Corporation with success. The use of automated fuel system has eased KSRTC revenues by Rs 6 crore, he said.

Of the 720 buses to be added to KSRTC fleet in an year through the Rs 100-crore Hudco assistance, 20 had already been brought in. Most of these are air-buses. KSTRC had been going for fleet-building with urgency to phase out all over ten-year old vehicles.

KSRTC Repaying Dues To IOC

Financial Express

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Thiruvananthapuram, March 10: The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has started repaying its Rs 30-crore fuel bill dues to IOC (Indian Oil Corporation) from this week at the rate of Rs 1 crore per day, Kerala's newly sworn-in transport minister K Balakrishna Pillai has said. This is a far cry from the deadlock last year when IOC had refused to supply fuel unless the bills were paid up.
If the US-Iraq war clouds had not send up the diesel prices, the corporation would have scored up better on its creditworthiness much earlier, Mr Pillai said, after he took charge of the state transport ministry from his son Mr K B Ganesh Kumar. Mr Pillai was ready to take over as minister as soon as he was exonerated by a Supreme Court judgement on Graphite case.
Despite the diesel price hike, the corporation's daily collection had increased to Rs 184 lakh per day from Rs 135 lakh per day 20 months ago. The monthly losses had fallen from Rs 15 crore to Rs 5 crore, he said, in a meet-the-press organised by Trivandrum Press Club, here, on Monday.
Further measures to effect KSTC turnaround will be accomplished not by imposing bus charge hike, but by trimming down dead mileage and by allowing privatisation initiatives in amenities in bus stations in prime property.
Despite overstaffing problem, excess staff will not be drastically pruned. However, unproductive labour will not be replaced on staff retirement, he said.
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Decision on Pillai joining the Cabinet on March 6

4 Mar 2003, 2315 hrs IST,PTI

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A decision on Kerala Cong (B) supremo R Balakrishna Pillai, who was recently acquitted in a corruption case by the Supreme Court, joining the Cabinet by accepting the resignation of Transport Minister K B Ganesh Kumar, has been left to the party's secretariat.
Talking to reporters after a party secretariat meeting here, Pillai said however, a final decision on the issue would be taken at the party state committee meeting on March six.
The decision would be announced at the UDF meeting to be held on March seven, he added.
Ganesh Kumar had offered to quit from the Cabinet to pave the way for his father and party Chairman Pillai to join the ministry after the Supreme Court acquitted Pillai in the 'Graphite-Electricity sale' case last week.
Kumar, the lone Kerala Cong (B) nominee in the Cabinet, submitted his resignation to Pillai after the Supreme Court acquitted him in the case.
The actor-turned-politician joined the A K Antony cabinet when the UDF came to power in 2001 as his father had been found guilty by a special court in the case, relating to sale of electricity allegedly without the cabinet approval to a Karnataka firm when Pillai was Power Minister in the 1980s.
The High Court had later confirmed the Special Court order. However, the Supreme Court had acquitted him in the case.

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State ups ante in war against pollution

Thursday, Feb 06, 2003, The Hindu

WITH THE State Transport Ministry finally setting the deadline for phasing out commercial vehicles that are over15 years of age, and making the Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates mandatory, it is no longer going to be all quiet on the State's roads. The departments concerned with the implementation of the `new project' are pulling all the stops out to accelerate the `anti-pollution drive' in the State. There are murmurs of protest from owners of commercial vehicles regarding the rules being enforced.

Meanwhile, the Transport Commissioner is planning to issue notices to the commercial vehicles over 15-years old, whereby they would be scrapped within a stipulated period.

The Minister for Transport, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, said that the new vehicular pollution control method in the State has been modelled on the one adopted by the Transport Ministry in Andhra Pradesh. "We have plans to install web cams at each pollution control testing centre in the State. These centres will be computerised soon to enable efficient monitoring of pollution," he said.

The new machine is equipped to gauge the emission levels of the vehicles. If the emission level proves to be beyond that prescribed by the norms, the web cam would fail to capture the photograph of the particular vehicle. The PUC certificate would carry the colour photograph of the vehicle and its license plate. "Contrary to the belief that the department would be incurring a huge expense by installing the new equipment, the expense will be considerably low. It's an Indian software that serves our purpose, but very few States have adopted it," said the Transport Minster.

Directives have already been issued to the concerned departments regarding the new project and it would be implemented within three months at all pollution testing centres in the State. "As far as phasing out old private vehicles is concerned, we are yet to decide on this issue. We are not concentrating on private vehicles at present, because we hardly find extremely old models of two wheelers and four wheelers on our roads. The owners of vehicles that do not carry a valid PUC certificate would be fined. We want to impose fines so that it serves as a deterrent and people are compelled to adhere to the rules," Ganesh Kumar added. He pointed out that `fines' would "certainly be an added income " for the Motor Vehicles Department.

Fifteen year old commercial vehicles, including stage carriages (KSRTC) and private buses, would be phased out before 2005. It is mandatory for every vehicle owner to carry valid PUC certificates and maintain the vehicular emission within the prescribed norms, as per the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. Delhi and Mumbai, which have received directives from the Supreme Court regarding control of vehicular pollution, are phasing out over eight year-old taxis and auto rickshaws or converting them to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) engines. "So far, we have not received any court directives regarding the change over to compressed natural gas," Ganesh Kumar said.

It may be recalled that the Regional Transport Authority (RTA), in Kannur, had implemented the Government order setting the deadline for scrapping vehicles over 15-years of age, some two years back. When the deadline for phasing out ended, the motor vehicles operators approached the High Court, which granted a two-year extension. The present Government has extended this deadline by an additional three months, which lapsed in January. The cabinet has eventually decided to allow the operators to be given an extension of six months, but this would be granted only on an undertaking from the vehicle owner concerned. "All the 12 R.T.A.s in the State have taken similar decisions, and by the end of 2004, the phasing out programme would be complete except in Pathanamthitta, which will complete its phasing out programme by early 2005 (since Pathanamthitta took the decision regarding phasing out at a later stage)," said K. P. Somarajan, Transport Commissioner.

The recent meeting of the Transport Development Council, chaired by the Union Transport Minister, held in Delhi, deliberated on issues of common importance, said the Transport Commissioner.

Discussions were held on various issues such as designing of the body of buses, actions to be taken to control vehicular pollution, ensuring the enforcement of the standards of emission as per the norms, taxation structure, decision on overloading of vehicles and rationalising road tax.

"The modality of one time payment of vehicle tax was also discussed. When a vehicle owner pays the life tax for his vehicle, a certain rebate could be offered on the amount paid. Often life tax paid in one State is not acceptable to another State. So discussions are on to reach a consensus regarding many such matters including taxation of tourist vehicles, especially those with national permits," Somarajan pointed out.

Talks are also on with the Society of India Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) regarding the purchase of software that would enable the computerisation of all pollution testing centres.

"There are around 200 such centres in the State, and there has been no restriction on issuing licences to these centres. But regular monitoring will be done at such pollution testing centres," said Somarajan.

According to the Joint R.T.O., D. Chandrasekharan Nair, the department has received directives to tighten the pollution control monitoring. "We have a mobile pollution control enforcement squad and are in the process of implementing the steps taken by the Transport Ministry in making PUC certificates mandatory along with colour photographs of the concerned vehicle," said the Joint R.T.O. Whether Kerala will succeed in following the footsteps of Andhra Pradesh remains to be seen.

It would be fairly safe to deduce that the Transport Minister's attempts to bring about change in the department's functioning would gradually gather momentum, despite the initial hiccups.

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Pillai to replace son as Minister

Friday, Mar 07, 2003, The Hindu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM MARCH. 6. The Kerala Congress(B) today completed the formalities of nominating its leader, R. Balakrishna Pillai, as Minister in the Antony Cabinet in place of his son, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, who resigned soon after Mr. Pillai won a favourable Supreme Court verdict against his one-year conviction in the Graphite case.

Consequent to this decision, the party forwarded Mr. Ganesh Kumar's resignation letter to the Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, along with a letter informing him about Mr. Pillai's nomination to replace his son as Transport Minister. The two letters were handed over to the Chief Minister by the party general secretary, K. G. Kuttan Nair, after the KC(B) State meeting in the afternoon.

The UDF would discuss and take a formal decision accepting Mr. Ganesh Kumar's resignation and the nomination of Mr. Pillai, but this is more or less just a formality. The swearing-in ceremony is likely to be held on Monday.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Pillai said it was for the Chief Minister to fix the date for the swearing-in ceremony.

He was all praise for his son, who, he said, had established his credentials as a Minister.

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Pillai to be sworn in on Monday

Saturday, Mar 08, 2003, The Hindu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM March 7. The Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, today forwarded to the Governor, Sikander Bakht, the resignation letter of K.B. Ganesh Kumar, who is making way for his father, R. Balakrishna Pillai, to the Antony Cabinet as Transport Minister.

With the UDF formally accepting him into the fold, Mr. Pillai's swearing-in ceremony is expected at 10 a.m. on Monday.

The resignation letter was forwarded to the Governor soon after the UDF High Power Committee meeting this morning at which Mr. Pillai was given a warm welcome by leaders of the constituent parties. Mr. Pillai made his appearance at the meeting only after the UDF completed the discussion regarding his entry into the Antony Cabinet.

Mr. Ganesh Kumar, who attended today's UDF meeting, would soon take over his new assignment as general secretary of the Kerala Congress(B). Mr. Pillai could not hide his happiness at the turn of events.

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KSRTC improves finances: Minister

Thursday, Feb 27, 2003, The Hindu

THE public sector Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has improved its financial position and has actually registered a cash balance of Rs 2 crore during the last two months.

Disclosing this in the State Assembly in reply to a calling attention motion on Tuesday, the Transport Minister, Mr K.B. Ganesh Kumar, said that it, however, did not mean that the corporation, burdened as it is with huge accumulated losses, had started making profits.

The corporation does not propose to either sell its real estate property or privatise the nationalised routes. The daily collections have improved from Rs 1.48 crore to Rs 1.82 crore and the corporation is also able to make a neat saving of Rs 1.50 crore on a monthly basis due to a well thought-out fuel needs strategy.

Mr Ganesh Kumar clarified that there was no move to privatise any of the bus stations. He said there was a proposal to modernise bus stations with privatise participation under a BOT agreement.

He also sought to justify the introduction of the luxurious Volga fleet of buses, which, he said, proved more profitable than running the service with ordinary buses.

Unruly scenes: The House witnessed noisy scenes over the indefinite fast undertaken by the former Minister and member, Mr K. Radhakrishnan, in the Assembly premises in protest against the alleged police excesses on tribals. The fast entered the second day today.

While seeking to assuage frayed tempers, the Chief Minister, Mr A. K. Antony, said the State Government was committed to providing land to the landless tribals and had already distributed 1,747 acres to 831 families. Another 1,800 acres are being readied for distribution, he added.

It has also been decided that the tribals arrested subsequent to the police action in the forest areas of Wayanad district would be treated with sympathy. The Chief Minister later called on Mr Radhakrishnan and appealed to him to end the fast.

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MVD to crack down on parallel services

Thursday, Feb 06, 2003, The Hindu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM FEB. 5. The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) has decided to intensify the crackdown on parallel services operating in the State capital city and suburbs in the wake of the High Court ruling against illegal services.

The four flying squads constituted by the department have started taking rounds of the stretches where the parallel services have been operating and initiating action against those flouting rules.

The squads, which are under the direct control of the Transport Minister, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, would check the entry of mini buses into the city.

The attack on the mini buses of the KSRTC allegedly by the parallel service operators near Vembayam last month has also put pressure on the department to curb the illegal services.

A mini bus of the KSRTC was attacked and glasspanes smashed by miscreants. Two persons have been arrested in connection with the incident by the Venjaramood police in this connection.

The KSRTC had introduced mini buses in the Vembayam-Medical College and Vembayam-Palayam stretches last month following their successful operation in the Neyyattinkara-East Fort sector.

Despite the drive, the mini buses are operating freely from the Asan Square to Shanghumughom, East Fort to Beemapally and from Bakery Junction to Peyaad right from the wee hours of the day, hoodwinking officials of the MV department. Illegal services are also operated in the Peroorkada-Palayam-Thampanoor and Attingal-Medical College-Thampanoor stretches in the morning and evening.

At the Asan Square and Bakery junction, the parallel service operators stop the vehicles at the bus stop minutes before the KSRTC and private buses arrive and collect the passengers.

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The war with the pollutant

Monday, Feb 03, 2003

The State Transport Ministry has finally decided to acknowledge the gravest problem facing our roads -- pollution. It has set the deadline for phasing out commercial vehicles that are 15 year old, and made the Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates mandatory.

With the State Transport Ministry finally setting the deadline for phasing out commercial vehicles that are 15 years old, and making the Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates mandatory, it is no longer going to be all quiet on the city's pollution front. The departments concerned with the implementation of the `new project' are pulling all the stops out to accelerate the `anti-pollution drive' in the State. There are murmurs of protest from owners of commercial vehicles regarding the rules being enforced.

Meanwhile, the Transport Commission plans to issue notices to the commercial vehicles starting with the oldest vehicles (15-year-old), whereby they would be scrapped within a stipulated period.

The Transport Minister, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, said that the new vehicular pollution control method in the State has been modelled on the one adopted by the Transport Ministry in Andhra Pradesh. "We have plans to install web cams at each pollution control testing centre in the State. These centres will be computerised soon to enable efficient monitoring of pollution," he said.

The new machine is equipped to gauge the emission levels of the vehicles. If the emission level proves to be beyond that prescribed by the norms, the web cam would fail to capture the photograph of the particular vehicle. The PUC certificate would carry the colour photograph of the vehicle and its license plate. "Contrary to the belief that the department would be incurring a huge expense by installing the new equipment, the expense will be considerably low. It's an Indian software that is being used, but very few States have adopted it," said the Transport Minster.

Directives have already been issued to the departments concerned regarding the new project and it would be implemented within three months at all pollution testing centres in the State. "As far as phasing out old private vehicles is concerned, we are yet to decide on this issue. We are not concentrating on private vehicles at present, because we hardly find extremely old models of two wheelers and four wheelers on our roads. The owners of vehicles that do not carry a valid PUC certificate will be fined. We want to impose fines so that it serves as a deterrent and people are compelled to adhere to the rules," Ganesh Kumar added. He pointed out that `fines' would "certainly be an added income " for the Motor Vehicles Department.

The 15-year-old commercial vehicles, including stage carriages (KSRTC) and private buses, would be phased out before 2005. It is mandatory for every vehicle owner to carry valid PUC certificates and maintain the vehicular emission within the prescribed norms, as per the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. New Delhi and Mumbai, which have received directives from the Supreme Court regarding control of vehicular pollution, are phasing out eight year-old taxis and auto rickshaws or converting them to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) engines. "So far, we have not received any court directives regarding the changeover to compressed natural gas," Ganesh Kumar said.

It may be recalled that the Regional Transport Authority (RTA), in Kannur, had issued an order setting the deadline for scrapping 15-year-old vehicles, some two years back. When the deadline for phasing out ended, the motor vehicles operators approached the High Court, and it granted a two-year extension. The present Government has extended this deadline by an additional three months, which ends in January. The cabinet has eventually decided to allow the operators an extension of six months, but this would be granted only on an undertaking from the vehicle owner concerned. "All the 12 R.T.A.'s in the State have taken similar decisions, and by the end of 2004, the phasing out programme would be complete except in Pathanamthitta, which will complete its phasing out programme by early 2005 (since Pathanamthitta took the decision regarding phasing out at a later stage)," said K. P. Somarajan, Transport Commissioner.

The recent meeting of the Transport Development Council, chaired by the Union Transport Minister, held in New Delhi, deliberated on issues of common importance, said the Transport Commissioner.

Discussions were held on various issues such as designing of the body of buses, actions to be taken to control vehicular pollution, ensuring the enforcement of the standards of emission as per the norms, taxation structure, decision on overloading of vehicles and rationalising road tax.

"The modality of one-time payment of vehicle tax was also discussed. When a vehicle owner pays the life tax for his vehicle, a certain rebate could be offered on the amount paid. Often, life tax paid in one State is not acceptable to another State. So discussions are on to reach a consensus regarding many such matters including taxation of tourist vehicles, especially those with national permits," Somarajan pointed out.

Talks are also on with the Society of India Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) regarding the purchase of software that would enable the computerisation of all pollution testing centres. "There are around 200 such centres in the State, and there has been no restriction on issuing licences to these centres. But regular monitoring will be done at such pollution testing centres," said Somarajan.

According to the Joint R.T.O., D. Chandrasekharan Nair, the department has received directives to tighten the pollution control monitoring. "We have a mobile pollution control enforcement squad and are in the process of implementing the steps taken by the Transport Ministry in making PUC certificates mandatory along with colour photographs of the vehicle concerned," said the Joint R.T.O. K. P. Mohanadas, environmental engineer, State Pollution Control Board, said the department has undertaken to monitor pollution in Thiruvananthapuram. The report on the same would be submitted by June. "We are attempting to quantify air pollution, the levels of carbon monoxide being emitted by vehicles, the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) in the air. We will get a concrete idea of the current situation by March," Mohanadas added.

There are 20 stations in the city wherein monitoring is being carried out twice a week. The monitoring centres comprise 10 traffic stations, five residential cum commercial zones and five sensitive areas (schools or hospitals). The present project is an attempt to examine in detail the various issues involved in controlling the vehicle pollution in the city.

Whether Kerala will succeed in following in the footsteps of Andhra Pradesh remains to be seen. However, the Transport Minister's attempts to bring about change in the department's functioning may gradually gather momentum.

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