Thiruvananthapuram: No guns are missing from the Special Armed Police (SAP) camp at Peroorkada, a team led by Crime Branch chief Tomin Thachankary confirmed after carrying out checks on Monday, disputing the contention of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report.

Out of the 660 INSAS rifles that were procured by SAP, 647 were on display here at the camp. The remaining thirteen is with the battalion stationed in Manipur, the police informed. 416 rifles, which were with various battalions, were deposited at Peroorkada camp on Monday for the inspection.

Earlier, a CAG report had stated that 25 INSAS rifles and over 12,000 live cartridges had gone missing at Peroorkada.

While admitting that several bullets were missing, the police dismissed any malice behind the incident. This a regular occurrence, not just at Peroorkada, police said.

An initial report put together has 13 civil policers listed as suspects. An investigation is underway and a more detailed report will be submitted in two months and strict action will be taken against all behind the lapse, police said. CAG officers too will be questioned on how they came to the conclusion that the guns were missing.

However, a plea submitted in Kerala High Court on Monday questioned the efficiency of the police to conduct the investigation on the matter of the missing bullets.

The police will be trying to protect their officers and no real investigation will be carried out, the plea contested. It asked for the case to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The stock register which accounts for all the bullets' details should be handed over to the High Court, the plea asked.

The High Court will hear the plea Monday afternoon.

Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau will interrogate the former Public Works Department (PWD) minister Ebrahim Kunju over the Palarivattom flyover scam on Saturday.

The vigilance team led by DySP Syam Kumar will question Ebrahim Kunju on the basis of the evidence collected. The interrogation will happen at the Poojapura office on Saturday morning.

The irregularities in the Palarivattom project that likely caused the shoddy construction of the structure built over an arterial road in Ernakulam was brought to light a few months ago.

The vigilance believes that the advance amount of Rs 8.25 crores was released to the flyover builder under the recommendation of Ebrahim Kunju. He might be added to the list of accused after the interrogation on Saturday.

The former minister was also questioned in connection with the case last September.

Former Public Works Secretary TO Sooraj, former Kitco MD Sumit Goyal, RBDCK company GM P D Thankachan have been arrested in connection with the case earlier.

Last year Sooraj, the fourth accused in the case, had raised charges against Ebrahim Kunju in the Vigilance court.

Implicating the former minister Sooraj stated the order to release the advance amount without interest to RDS Projects was issued by the then PWD minister Ebrahim Kunju after Mohammed Hanish, the MD of the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK), had made a recommendation in this regard.

 

RDS Projects was the flyover builder and Hanish's RBDCK was the agency implementing the project.

Thiruvananthapuram:This is perhaps not as scary as rogue elements stealing nuclear warheads from unstable countries. Even then, this is unsettling.

There is a shortage of 25 INSAS rifles and 12,061 bullets from the armoury of the Special Armed Police Battalion (SAPB), Thiruvananthapuram. The 5.56mm INSAS assault rifles are the standard infantry weapon of the Indian Armed Forces.

Here is the shocking part: The police department was aware of the shortage in ammunition but still
had attempted to cover up the shortfall instead of tracing the lost rifles and bullets.

This was revealed in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on general and social sector, which was tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday. The CAG has asked the government to urgently trace the missing bullets and rifles.

The lost bullets include 1578 used in AK-47 rifles and 1835 used in INSAS rifles. Most of the missing bullets (8398) are used in self-loading rifles.

There was also a shortage of 250 drill cartridges (bullets used for training). The CAG audit noticed that the shortage was sought to be covered by replacing the missing bullets with dummy ones, hollow metallic items made of brass and similar in shape and size to drill cartridges.
The SAPB was aware of the shortage of bullets used in AK-47s, the 7.62 mm bullets, way back in September, 2015. As many as 200 bullets were then reported missing by the officer commandant of  SAPB's B Company. An investigation board was then quickly constituted to conduct verification of all ammunition in the SAPB. Shortage of an additional 200 bullets was reported by the board.

Thiruvananthapuram: In further relief to Kerala, a student treated for the novel coronavirus in the state was discharged on Sunday after two consecutive test results returned negative, becoming India's second patient to recover from the infection, health authorities said.

The patient from Kasaragod district, one of the three positive cases of coronavirus detected in the country on their return from China, would, however, remain under home quarantine for ten days, the state health department said.

"Two consecutive results of the patient came negative and was then discharged today morning. The patient will have to remain under home quarantine for ten more days," a senior health official told PTI.

More than 2,000 people are still under observation for the novel coronavirus in the state, which had accounted for all three positive cases in the country.

Earlier on Thursday, a student from Alappuzha was discharged after his two consecutive samples sent for testing at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune turned out to be negative.

India's first coronavirus case, a woman medico from Thrissur, is awaiting test results from Pune NIV after samples screened at the Alappuzha centre of the institute had returned negative last week.

"Now, we are waiting for the test result of the student admitted to Thrissur Medical College Hospital. Once the negative result is received, we can proceed to discharge," the official said.

Both the discharged students, studying in a university in Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly virus that has claimed over 1,600 lives in China, had earlier tested positive for the infection and were treated in isolation wards set up in medical college hospitals in Alappuzha and Kasaragod.

Of the 2,210 people under surveillance in various districts, as many as 16 were in isolation wards in hospitals and the remaining 2,194 are in home quarantine, Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja said.


Thiruvananthapuram: The Food Safety Department of Kerala has issued stringent guidelines on drinking water distribution using tankers in the state.

As per the norms, only water that has been disinfected through chlorination should be distributed. The vehicle should have a chlorine test kit and a person, who knows how to use it, should also be present.

Only permissible chemicals should be used in the inner coating of the tanker. Not just the tankers, the distribution hoses and pumps should also be disinfected.

 If water is collected from sources other than those of the Water Authority, these need to have a Food Business Operator (FBO) licence. Also, it should be certified every six months that the water from the source is safe.

Only those with licences should distribute water in the tanker lorries and vehicles attached to tank.

Licence for distribution should be taken only after registering the number of each vehicle.

These vehicles should display a board that says 'drinking water'. Other vehicles should say 'water
for other uses'. Licence number should also be displayed.

The vehicles and tankers should have the Food Safety Department's licence, a report from an accredited lab that says the water is safe, mentions tanker's capacity, and a certificate on the coating in the tank.

 Food Safety Commissioner A R Ajayakumar said that the consumers should also be cautious and buy water only from licenced distributors.

Hotels, restaurants, flats, hospitals, houses, and entrepreneurs, who need potable water, should keep a register on the details of the distributors.



Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala government has been annually taking the headcount of students in order to keep a tab on dropout rate as well as to ascertain the number of schools with low strengthOver time, government school authorities resorted to malpractices such as showing inflated numbers of students in order to avoid shutdown by authorities. Following widespread complaints about malpractices, the present system of assessing the number of students through a single-day verification process will be replaced by a scientific biometric attendance system.

So far student strength was assessed with a casual headcount on the sixth working day of the academic year. The verification formed the basis of fixing staff for the academic year.

The verification process gave rise to large-scale malpractices in several public schools across the state. Students from nearby unaided schools were being brought into aided schools to inflate the number of students during the headcount. School authorities resort to such malpractices to ensure that existing posts are retained and also for creating additional posts.
The General Education Department aims to end such tricks with the introduction of a biometric attendance system.

As malpractices went on despite the deployment of supercheck squad to crosscheck verification that day itself, the government is also planning to bolster this supervisory wing.

At present the supercheck wing has only two zonal offices, one at Thiruvananthapuram and other at Kozhikode. Its zonal office has minimal staff comprising a deputy secretary, assistant supercheck officer and two clerks. It is impossible to conduct superchecks in all schools with low staff strength. Additional personnel could be recruited as per the latest plan.