THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The 24-HOUR general strike called by various trade unions in the state in protest against the Union Government’s decision to extend fixed-term employment in all sectors has begun. The strike began at 12 midnight on Sunday and will end at Monday midnight. The strike has been called by sixteen trade unions in the state. BMS, the trade union of the BJP, has decided not to participate. Employees of the state and Central government offices such as banks and BSNL are expected to take part in the protest. KSRTC, private buses, autorickshaw and taxi services will stay off the roads on Monday.

The strike, under the aegis of a coordination committee of trade unions, will see the unions take out a march from near the Museum police station to Raj Bhavan at 11 am. In a statement, CITU state president Ananthalavattam Ananthan said that CITU, INTUC, AITUC, STU, HMS, UTUC are among the major unions that have joined the protest call. Workers of the BMS too had been urged to take part in the strike. Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala University, CUSAT, University of Calicut, Kannur University and Kerala University of Health Sciences have postponed all examinations scheduled for Monday.

 
 
 

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a major relief to the cash-strapped KSRTC, the government and the public transporter signed an agreement with the consortium of banks and the KTDFC for a long-term loan worth Rs 3,127 crore. The SBI, South Indian Bank, Canara Bank and KTDFC  are the financial institutions providing the bailout to the corporation.

While the SBI will provide Rs 1,000 crore, Canara Bank and  South Indian Bank will each chip in with  
Rs 500 crore. All the three banks will charge interest at the rate of nine per cent.  However, unconfirmed reports say the KTDFC is providing loan worthRs 1,127 crore at the rate of 11.8 per cent. Transport Minister A K Saseendran told Express the average interest rate will be around  9.2 per cent only and the interest burden on the KSRTC will come down from over Rs 3 crore to just 78 lakh  daily.

“It will help to address the KSRTC’s financial burden to a great extent. The KSRTC can manage its fund constraints once the funds at lower interest rate become available. The KSRTC could have  an additional Rs 65-70 crore at its disposal every month. The major gap between the revenue and expenditure can indeed be bridged,” he said.

Earlier, the government had claimed the consortium of banks will be providing loan at 9 per cent interest  for a period of 20 years.

 
 

It should be noted here the KTDFC, which was constituted to service the KSRTC’s financial requirements, had in a way turned out to be its liquidator by forcing it to avail huge loans at  higher interest rate.  The KTDFC  has again been made part of the consortium granting loans at a higher interest rate.

KOCHI: Buoyed by the increase in domestic air traffic in recent years, the Cochin International Airport on Tuesday touched the magical figure of carrying one crore passengers in a single financial year. The Cochin Airport, the first in the country built under PPP model, has crossed the milestone of 10 million passengers in a single fiscal in its 19th year of operations when the Indigo flight 6E 563 from Chennai docked at its terminal -2 at 12.20 pm.

CIAL Managing Director V J Kurien said it is a unique record in the history of the airport that handled around 5 lakh passengers in its nascent stage and rose to handle 10 million passenger in a year in a matter of a few years. He also said domestic traffic has been registering robust growth as it clocked a 22 per cent increase in domestic passenger volume, touching 4.84 million compared to that of 3.94 million in FY 2016-17. The international sector also witnessed an increase of four per cent with 5.16 million passengers compared to 4.98 million in FY 2016-17.  

Though the passenger figures of international traffic have increased when compared with the figures of previous years, the growth rate is not robust as expected, he said. The slump in the Middle East market might have bearing on the international traffic, he said. However, CIAL is hopeful of coping with the extraordinary growth being witnessed in the domestic aviation sector, he said.  

“We are now renovating the existing terminal-1 for the domestic operation, which will have 6 lakh square feet built up area and will feature all modern amenities. This will be added up to the existing 16 lakh square feet of terminal space. We expect that renovated terminal will become operational in May 2018,” said Kurian.  As a gesture of gratitude, the airport company also gifted one sovereign gold coin to the representative of the passenger who disembarked from the aircraft on Wednesday. A C K Nair, Airport Director, A M Shabeer, Executive Director, Sunil Chacko, Chief  Financial officer were present at the function.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A sting operation by a leading Kerala-based TV channel claims to have exposed an "unholy alliance" between the Revenue Department officials and real estate brokers with the active support of ruling CPI's Wayanad district unit.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) is the second largest ally of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.

On hearing the news, party's state secretary Kanam Rajendran, who has been quite vocal about the alleged corruption of previous Oommen Chandy government and projecting the CPI's tough stand on corruption, said he would ask for a detailed probe into this.

As soon as the news spread, Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran on Monday ordered a probe and asked Wayanad District Collector S. Suhas to suspend the Deputy Collector, who is alleged to have facilitated usurping of the government land in the district.

The expose shows an Asianet TV channel team posing as a group of businessmen looking for a particular piece of land in the district to build a resort. They first approach Kunju Mohammed, a real estate broker, who takes them to Wayanad Deputy Collector T. Somnathan and some CPI district leaders, including its Wayanad unit secretary Vijayan Cherukara.

Mohammed connects them with Somnathan and Cherukara, and the latter using his influence gets access to the state secretariat.

The visuals -- besides the audio of conversation between Mohammed, Somnathan and Cherukara -- try to establish that there is an unholy alliance between them to allegedly usurp the government land.

Chandrasekheran told the media that the probe had already begun into the expose.

"There will be no let-down in the probe and anyone found guilty would not be spared," said the Minister.

Suhas, on his part, has decided to seal the two revenue offices in Wayanad to see that the probe is not hampered.

Putting up a brave face, Cherukara denied of any such deals and termed it as a conspiracy.

"Let there be detailed probe into this... This is a fake news to defame the present Left government," said Cherukara.

 
 

As soon as the news broke out, angry youth wing activists of both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took out protest marches to the Wayanad Collectorate, while the youth wing of the CPI-M demanded a thorough probe into the whole episode.

Former state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran said it was most unfortunate.

"While the state government and the Revenue Department have been saying that there is paucity of land to be given to the landless, we now hear that land is being usurped and sold illegally.

"Only suspending a government official will not suffice... The need of the hour is to expose the unholy alliance between the political setup and the administration," said Sudheeran.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) regional office here has announced the schedule to seek direct admission to class X and XII in CBSE-affiliated schools. The last date for the receipt of the request is April 15, 2018, the CBSE regional officer has said.
Students who have done class IX or XI from ICSE, State Board or an equivalent foreign board can take admission in CBSE Board schools in class X or XII.

Parents may approach the CBSE school in which admission is being sought with following documents. a) Reason or ground on which the parents sought the admission with proof (original affidavit) (b) Valid proof of shifting of residence from one place to other place or present residential address proof. (A copy of Aadhaar, ration card, passport, residential certificate etc.) (c) Registration details (if registered online with

CBSE) (d) Progress report card or result of previous class indicating that candidate has passed.
Marks on A4 or school letterhead will not be accepted (e)School transfer order from the previous school (TC).

Schools will forward the application to the CBSE for approval of the regional officer. A monitoring desk is available for the benefit of parents shifting from foreign countries. Contact no is 0471-2987403.
For details, parents can contact the school in which admission is sought.

‘Expats put to much hardship’

 
 

T’Puram: The CBSE’s decision to conduct a re-examination for the Class X Mathematics and Class XII Economics paper in the wake of reports of question paper leak reflects the Centre’s  inefficiency and callousness, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has said.

The decision has put students and parents, especially those in the Gulf countries, in distress. Many of the NRKs had reserved air tickets to the home country in accordance with the previous examination schedule. Chennithala asked Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar to conduct a comprehensive probe and initiate strict action against those behind the leak.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Signalling the emergence of a new, secular Kerala, as many as 1.26 lakh school students in the state do not belong to any particular religion or caste. According to the statistics submitted by Education Minister C Raveendranath in the Assembly the other day, a total of 1,24,147 students -  from Class I to higher secondary classes - have sought admissions without specifying religion.

Of this, 1,23,630 are studying in Classes I to X, 278 in first-year higher secondary and 239 in second year higher secondary classes. No student admitted to the vocational higher secondary schools left the religion column blank.

The minister’s revelation was in reply to a question by Vamanapuram MLA D K Murali. “This is a happy news. Our country provides for the freedom to live without joining any religion or caste. I didn’t know that a significant number has utilised that freedom,” he said.

The Left legislator feels a secular young generation is on the rise, who wants to give freedom of religion to their children. “I congratulate these parents who have a positive outlook in grooming children. Let the children select their own religion or remain religion-less after they become mature enough,” he said.