New Site coming up at

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tiruchendur temple gets two new elephants

 The Subramaniyaswamy temple at Tiruchendur has two new elephants.

Kumaran (3) and Deivayanai (6) were donated to the temple on Monday by a Chennai-based businessman.

The temple did not have an elephant ever since Shanti (40) died a year ago.

The businessman, Devadas Sundaram, purchased the pachyderms from Sukumaran at Samayapuram in Tiruchi district. He brought them to Tiruchendur on September 9.

On Monday morning, the decorated pachyderms were brought to the temple premises after performing "gaja pooja" at a Siva temple.

The businessman, along with his family members, handed over the elephants to T. Pitchandi, Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, in the presence of P. Ramaraj, Joint Commissioner of HR&CE.

The family members also handed over Rs. 10 lakh to the temple authorities for food and medical expenses of the elephants.

The HR&CE sources said two mahouts attached to the department would guide the elephants during festivals.

Training programme for fishermen begins at Tuticorin

A five-day training in `value-added fishery products' organised by the Fisheries College and Research Institute (FCRI) for the tsunami-affected fishermen commenced on its premises here on Monday.

As part of the programme, training was first imparted to eight `master trainers' on the subject, who, in turn, would disseminate the information to larger number of fisherfolks along the Tamil Nadu coastline later.

The project was sponsored by the Development of Humane Action (Dhan) Foundation, a professional development organisation.

Under it, trainees were taught methods of fish preservation, hygienic handling of fish catch, preparation of value-added fish products and marketing of various fishery products, by a team of instructors headed by P. Velayutham, Head, Department of Fish Processing Technology, at the institute.

Venkataramani, Dean, said an in-depth information on fish preservation using salting, drying, freezing, canning and smoking techniques was passed on to the trainees.

Similarly, the importance of hygienic handling of the fish was taught so that the fishers could extend the shelf life of their catch.

"It is to be understood that proper handling of fish can fetch better unit value realisation to fishermen," the dean said.

The training was also highlighting the importance of fish consumption, since the species offers vitamins, essential amino acids and Omega III polyunsaturated fatty acid, to the humans.

"Moreover, fish could reduce blood cholesterol," the Dean said.

On the preparation of value-added fishery products, he said practical lessons on the manufacture of fish pickles, fish cutlets, and fish wafers would be imparted.

"The training would thus equip the fishermen, who were affected by the tsunami, to enhance their lifestyle through value-addition to their profession," he said.

Source: The Hindu

Training programme on poll procedures conducted at tuticorin

 A training programme for block-level resource persons, in the rank of a Block Development Officer of block and village panchayats, Deputy BDO and Extension Officer in panchayats, on the procedures that needed to be followed for the smooth conduct of the local body elections was held here on Sunday.

In all, 148 officials attended the training.

The Collector R. Palaniyandi, who convened the programme, explained to them the pre-poll, polling date and post-poll arrangements that needed to be done in the district for the elections to 408 village panchayats, 19 town panchayats, 12 panchayat unions, two municipalities and a third grade municipality.

He taught them the methodology of setting up polling stations and preparation of various forms connected with the polling, prior to the election date.

The `trainees' were also told how to handle the ballot boxes and ballot papers and the procedures that needed to be followed to fill certain official forms while the polling was under way.

Mr. Palaniyandi also explained the guidelines set by the State Election Commission for the transportation of ballot boxes from the polling stations to the counting centres.

The Returning Officers appointed for the elections to the district panchayat, M. Madasamy, Project Officer of Mahilar Thittam, and A. Palanisamy, Project Officer of DRDA, and the 12 ROs for the election to as many number of panchayat unions were present.

Mr. Palaniyandi said those who underwent training on Sunday, would, in turn, pass the `messages' to other polling personnel to be involved in the civic polls through a series of trainings at the lower level from October 4.

He said that 2,174 polling stations and 22 counting centres would be set up for the civic polls.

Sub-Registrar held in Tuticorin for taking bribe

 Chinnathambi (50), Sub-Registrar at Melur, was arrested by Vigilance officials, here on Friday evening, when he allegedly took bribe from Jyothimani (53) for the transfer of patta.

Official sources said Jyothimani decided to sell his 3.87 acre land at Koramballam to two persons. Hence he approached the Sub-Registrar to get the patta transferred, who in turn demanded Rs.1,000 to set the documents ready for sale.

On the request of officials from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, Jyothimani handed over the money to the Sub-Registrar at his office, who then was arrested.

Source: The Hindu

MUTA urges Centre to extend reservations in higher education

The 18th Conference of Madurai-Kamaraj and Manonmaniam Sundaranar University Teachers Association (MUTA), which concluded at Kovilpatti on Sunday, has passed a resolution urging the Government to stop commercialisation of education in the country.

The colloquium urged the Centre to withdraw GATS ( General Agreement on Trade-related Services) immediately, which, otherwise, would allow uncontrolled invasion of foreign educational managements and institutions in the higher education sector.

The association further asked the Centre to extend reservations in the higher education to unaided and private colleges too.

The other demands included raising the pay-scale of lecturers at self-financing colleges on a par with the University Grants Commission scale and withdrawal of proposed amendments to the Pension Regulation Act.

Delivering the keynote address at the valedictory, Vijender Sharma, ex-president of Federation of Central Universities' Teachers Association, said the Government should allocate at least six per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to education.

"Now a meagre of 3.7 per cent of the GDP was spent on education, which was far from sufficient, if the potential in the higher education sector needed to be tapped," he added.

Mr Sharma said the State funding in the education sector should be increased and the private participation brought under the legislative control.

"The Government should bring in a legislation to regulate the admission, fees, examinations and contents of the course in the private educational sector," he added.

Geetha Jeevan, Minister for Animal Husbandry, P. Maruthamuthu, Vice-Chancellor, Madurai Kamaraj University, James William, secretary of All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation, and V Ponraj, general secretary of MUTA, spoke at the valedictory.

Source: The Hindu

Ballot papers arrive in Tuticorin

Ballot papers meant for local body elections in the district have arrived here on Saturday.

The papers are now kept inside a strong room at the panchayat union office at Pudukottai, near here, amidst tight police security.

The Collector, R. Palaniyandi, said that 17,75,600 ballot papers had been received for the elections of village panchayat presidents and village panchayat ward members.

"For the elections of town panchayat ward members, panchayat union ward members and municipal councillors, the administration had received 121 bundles of ballot papers from the State Election Commission," he added.

The ballot papers for the election of village panchayat ward members were coloured white and those for the election of the village panchayat presidents were pink in colour.

Similarly, ballot papers for the election of panchayat union ward members were green and the papers meant for district panchayat ward members were yellow.

"The State Election Commission had allotted 35 symbols for the candidates seeking elections as village panchayat ward members and village panchayat presidents in the district, which were to be conducted on non-party basis," official sources said.

Hence, all the 17,75,600 ballot papers which were received for the elections pertaining to these posts, had the allocated symbols of the candidates in the fray, printed on it.

The ballot papers for the election of village panchayat ward members were coloured white and those for the election of the village panchayat presidents were pink in colour.

Similarly, ballot papers for the election of panchayat union ward members were green and the papers meant for district panchayat ward members were yellow.

"The State Election Commission had allotted 35 symbols for the candidates seeking elections as village panchayat ward members and village panchayat presidents in the district, which were to be conducted on non-party basis," official sources said.

Hence, all the 17,75,600 ballot papers which were received for the elections pertaining to these posts, had the allocated symbols of the candidates in the fray, printed on it.

Source: The Hindu

Dasara fete starts in Tuticorin

 The 10-day Dasara festival at Mutharamman temple at Kulasekarapattinam commenced with pomp and gaiety on Saturday.

It began with a flag-hoisting ceremony at 6 a.m. The sanctum sanctorum was opened at 4 a.m. and special pujas were conducted.

Thousands of devotees gathered to worship the deity on the opening day of the Dasara.

Of 55 lakh Mt tender for wheat, 15.12 lakh mt touches ports

Against tender of import of wheat for 55 lakh MT, a quantity of 15.12 lakh mt has touched Indian ports as on date.

Four vessels are currently at Chennai, Tuticorin and Mundra ports, having a total quantity of 3,55,657 MT of wheat, out of which 1,08,476 MT has been discharged by September 21, 2006.

Six vessels have arrived with 2,94,252 MT of wheat at Mundra, Chennai, Kandla and Vizag ports and are under fumigation, quality-check and berthing.

Of the eight vessels that have sailed to Indian ports with 4,32,539 MT of wheat, five vessels are scheduled to arrive by the weekend. The remaining three vessels are expected to arrive at Indian ports by October 20, an official release said on Monday.

Two vessels with a total quantity of 92,000 MT of wheat were received in April/May, 2006.

Sixteen vessels with a total quantity of 7,69,791 MT of wheat have been received by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) by September 24, 2006.

Hello FM to be launched in Tuticorin on October 2

Hello FM (106.4) radio is to be launched in the city on October 2. This news was announced at a function at Park Sheraton on Sunday.

Hello FM, part of Malar Publications Limited, would be initially available round-the-clock for listeners within a 40-km radius of the city. The radio service would be extended to Madurai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Pondicherry, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin soon. Sivanthi Adithan of The Daily Thanthi conveyed his wishes to the Hello FM team, headed by Balasubramanian Adithan.

Producers AVM Saravanan, R.B. Choudari and Ramkumar; lyricist Vairamuthu; actors Radhika Sarath Kumar, Satyaraj, Suhasini Maniratnam, Madhavan, Vijayakumar, Sinni Jayanth, Silambarasan, Dhanush and Ramesh Kanna participated.

19th SPIC Trophy FIDE-rated chess tournament held at Tuticorin

As many as 33 players, including the second-seeded International Master R.R. Laxman of Chennai, the third-seeded IM Balasubramanian Ramanathan of ICF and the fourth-seeded former champion M.B. Muraleedharan of Kerala, were in the lead with two points each at the end of the second round of the 19th SPIC Trophy FIDE-rated chess tournament, organised by the Tuticorin District Chess Association and SPIC Central Sports Council, at the SPIC Nagar Community Hall, Tuticorin, on Monday.

Important results (second round): R.R. Laxman (2) bt Ad. Jaya Anantharam (1); P. Lokesh (1) lost to Balasubramanian Ramanathan (2); M.B. Muraleedharan (2) bt P. Rajasekaran (1); K.A.D. Victor (1) lost to P. Shyam Nikil (2); C. Natarajan (1) bt J.B. Vigneshwara (1); D.V. Surjeet (1) lost to Syed Anwar Shazulli (2); Vinoth Kumar (2) bt H. Azeezuddin (1); V.G. Srinivasan (1) lost to P. Phoobalan (2); P. Maheshwaran (1.5) drew with Venugopalan (1.5); R. Ashok Kumar (1) lost to S. Nitin (2); R. Pounraj (2) bt N. Dinakaran (1); M. Dusthageer Ibrahim (2) bt K. Premraj (1); V.S. Sivakumar lost to T. Gowtham (2).

S. Naveen Hegde (2) bt C. Praveen Kumar (1); K.K. Karthik Babu (2) bt M.V. Lakshmi Narayanan (1); Venkat Sundaram (2) bt A. Asmathulla (1); T. Vinothkumar (2) bt M.J. Noohu (1); M.A. Alaguraja (1.5) drew with S.S. Manigandan (1.5); T.V. Subramanian (1) lost to V. Ram, Kumar (2);N. Surendran (2) bt R. Nanduja (1); S. Kamala Kannan (0) lost to D.P. Singh (1).

The results:

Under-25: 1. Se. Meenu Priya 4/4, 2. B. Vignesh (MMM HSS) 3, 3. S. Sairam (Thiagarajar College) 3.

Boys: Under-14: 1. M.B. Giri Selvam (Jacees, Sivakasi) 5/5, 2. R.M. Subramanian (Dolphin) 5, 3. L. Venkatesh (Mahatma) 4; Under-11: 1. V.S. Sakthivel Pandian (Lions MHSS, Sivakasi) 5/5, 2. Neeraj Kumar (MSP Sopi Nadar MHSS) 4.5, 3. Vasanthraj (Vikaasa) 4; Under-9: 1. Senthil (Lakshmi MHSS) 4.5/5, 2. R.P. Subramanian (GBMHSS) 4.5, 3. Sivaa Shaanth Suman (Maharishi) 4; Under-7: 1. Sukirthi (NGVA, Tiruchi) 4/4, 2. Gurudakshina Moorthy (Vikaasa) 3.5, 3. M.Aravind Sundar (Jaycees MHSS, Sivakasi) 3.

Girls: Under-14: 1. P. Kiruthiga (Velanganni MHSS, Chennai) 4/4, 2. M. Vallikkannu (AVMS) 3, 3. T. Priyanka (KV, Karaikudi) 3; Under-11: 1. C.R. Aasha (Lions MHSS) 4/4, 2. K. Indhusa (Jaycees, Sivakasi) 3, 3. G. Varshini (MAVMM) 3; Under-9: 1. C.R. Varsha (Lions MHSS) 4/4, 2. Lakshmialagappan (Muthiah Alagappa) 3, 3. P. Priyanka (Jaycees, Sivakasi) 3; Under-7: 1. R. Nandhini (Jaycees) 4/4, 2. M. Harini (Jaycees) 3, 3. S. Anitha (Jaycees) 2.5.

Source: The Hindu

Saturday, September 23, 2006

CDAT elects new team for 2006-07

Computer Dealers Association - Tirunelveli (CDAT) is all set to expand its role in the region. The association which recently went in for fourth annual election and elected new set of office bearers, has resolved to promote a conducive business environment in the region, by closely working with the vendors, distributors and channel partners. “We have prepared a five-point charter to achieve the objective set and reach the goal. CDAT will grow its profile from a local association to a regional body, covering the nearby districts and down south markets in Tamil Nadu,” said MV Shankar, who was re-elected as president for the second term, this year.

With Shankar (Mosfet Power Systems), R Mohan (Sky Networks) got elected as secretary and D Vijayakumar (Superb Systems) as treasurer, CDAT. “We have only three posts in the association and the election process started early this month, soon after our AGM. Firstly, we invited members to file their nominations for the various posts and election was conducted during last week. I got re-elected to the president post as there were no candidates to contest and the other two office bearers (R Mohan and D Vijayakumar) were elected unanimously by the members of the association,” he elaborated.

CDAT has 54 resellers registered with it as members and now, looking at expanding its role beyond Tirunelveli. So far, it has been only a local association in Tirunelveli and now, will cover nearby districts such as Tuticorin and Nagercoil. “It is a long-time plan to address the neighboring markets,” quipped Shankar. However, CDAT will entertain only resellers who have registered themselves with TNGST and paying income tax as its members. It is also collecting an annual membership fee of Rs 1,000.

CDAT assures to provide a common platform to all its members to air their views and issues against anyone. “We assure all our members an equal and fair treatment whenever there is some issue. In fact, CDAT will focus only on solving the issues amicably and promote the trade in the region. The association will be instrumental in forming Vendor-Disty-Reseller triangle and strengthen their relationships in business,” he detailed. CDAT has recently intervened and solved an issue between LG and a local channel partner in Tirunelveli.

The association is planning to conduct many programs (such as technical workshops and tax consultation series) for the benefit of channel community. It will also actively involve in public service initiatives like blood donation programs and emergency care (trauma) services.

“Finally, we will have some get together events for our channel partners and their families. Soon, we are planning for a trip to Kodaikanal,” added Shankar.

The association will meet every second Saturday of the month to discuss the issues and future plans.


Exhibition on aquaculture in Chennai

The third edition of 'Indaqua', an exhibition on aquaculture sector, will be held in Chennai for three days from January 11, Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) assistant director N Chandrasekaran said.

In a release from Tuticorin, he said the expo would focus on present status and future prospects of ornamental fish exports. Seafood processors, fish farmers, hatchery owners and machinery manufacturers from all over the country would participate in the expo and display their products.

Technical sessions on matters of interest to the stakeholders would be organised. Resource persons would throw light on the world aquaculture scenario.

Tuticorin port project gets environment clearance

The Rs 685-crore Inner Harbour Development Project at the Tuticorin port has got environment clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The projects main portion is a dredging component of Rs 440 crore to improve the draught in the port to 12.8 metres from the present 10.7 metres. This will enable the port to handle panamax size vessels, which are of the maximum dimensions that will fit through the locks of the Panama Canal.

The Tuticorin Port Trust has invited applications from dredging companies for pre-qualifying for deepening the channel and basin. The port had sought Rs 221 crore budgetary support from the Union Government for dredging, and the rest of the amount would be funded by the port trust, which would consider institutional financing, he said.

During 2005-06, the port handled all-time record cargo traffic of 17.14 million tonnes exceeding the previous years 15.81 mt. Container handing was 3.21 lakh TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) compared with 3.07 lakh TEUs in the previous year. The Indian Ports Authority did an independent study of traffic potential for the project and the National Institute of Ocean Technology gave the techno economic feasibility report. L&T Ramboll did the mathematical model study to widen the port entrance.

The project will also include construction of cargo berth number 9 at a cost of Rs 36 crore and dredging the dock basin in front of the proposed berth 9 at an estimated cost of 46 crore. Both these schemes will be taken up simultaneously and entrusted to two different contractors.

Source: Jim News

Tuticorin port offers incentives for raw cashew import

Competition between various domestic ports seems to have been hotting up with the offers of various concessions to shipping lines to attract cargo to the respective ports.

This was evident from the recent notification in the Web site of the Tuticorin Port Trust offering special incentive schemes for raw cashew.

In one of the schemes, the port trust is offering up to 10 per cent concession in marine charges to vessels bringing raw cashew from Africa provided these vessels did not call at the Cochin Port Trust.

The trade information on Web site says, "As far as raw cashew in container is concerned, direct calls by the container vessels from Africa shall attract marine charges with 10 per cent concession provided the particular vessel does not call at the Kochi port during the same voyage and at least 80 per cent of the containers carrying raw cashew are destined for the Tuticorin port."

The offer is part of the special incentive for raw cashew import offered by the Tuticorin port, which is part of the incentive scheme formulated for the year 2006-07 to attract more volume of cargo and vessels to the port.

The Tuticorin port is also offering 50 per cent rebate in wharfage to the whole quantity of imported raw cashew as break bulk cargo.

"The concession which was hitherto extended for storage of raw cashew nut allowing free days from 5 to 10 days shall continue to exist until it is modified by the Board," says the Web site.

Source: The Hindu Businessline

Direct service to China and Singapore from Tuticorin

PSA SICAL Terminals Limited-operated Tuticorin container terminal is now directly connected to China and Singapore through China Middle East service of Wan Hai Lines. The first ship to call on the Tuticorin container terminal under this service is MV Wan Hai 302 on 14 June, 2006.

This is the third direct mainline service to call at Tuticorin after the India-US Express, which commenced last month and the Round-The-World mainline service which kicked off in the year 2004.

The China Middle East service would see the deployment of six vessels with capacities ranging from 2,200 to 2,400 twenty foot equivalent unit (TEUs). The port rotation would be Tuticorin, Port Klang, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Xing Ang, Ningbo, Shekou, Hongkong, Singapore, Port Klang, Jebel Ali, Bander Abbas and Karachi before returning to Tuticorin.

Commenting on the new service John Quok, general manager, PSA SICAL Terminals, said, "With these direct mainline services and an extensive network of feeder services, we will be able to send this article to a friendmeet the growing demand for connectivity not only between important cities in the China Middle East sea route but also with the other key international ports."

The Tuticorin container terminal is not linked to a total of 35 destinations across the world including ports in Europe, US and China.

Source: domain-B

NDIA: AICCI urges for apparel park in Thoothukudi

he Tamil Nadu government has been asked to take necessary steps to set up an apparel park in Thoothukudi by All India Chamber of Commerce and Industries (AICCI), president of AICCI, JP Joe Villavarayar said here on September 08.

The district has been crowded with new industries after the declaration of the Tuticorin Port as one of the major ports in the country.

Also many more new industries were likely to come up in and around Thoothukudi due to the outstanding performance of the port and upcoming Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project.

JP Joe Villavarayar pointed out that government should develop the periphery covering 50 km around Thoothukudi by providing adequate power, water and communication facilities.

The provision of incentives and concessions from government would attract the industrialists here and outside, to pump in money as they had the advantage of the availability of cheap labour.

The president pointing out existing ready-made garment units at Puthiyamputhur at Ottapidaram taluka in the district said that the creation of an apparel park would, certainly, give the industries a boost.

Source: Bharat Textile

Lankans will be benefited by Sethu project, says Jaffna geographer

Most Sri Lankans, whether Sinhala or Tamil, flay India's plan to dig a shipping canal through the Palk Strait. But some leading Tamil academics support the project on the grounds that it will benefit Sri Lanka as well as India.

They point out that the project will specially help the economic development of the impoverished and war-devastated Sri Lankan North, which is predominantly Tamil.

The first to speak out in Sri Lanka, in defence of the controversial project, was Prof Pathmanathan of Peradeniya University. And now comes Prof P Balasundarampillai, leading geographer and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna.

In an interview to Hindustan Times in Colombo on Monday, Prof Balasundarampillai said that the ship canal would bring business not only to the many small ports on the Tamil Nadu coastline, but also to the currently languishing northern Sri Lankan ports of Mannar, Thalaimannar, Kankensanthurai (KKS), and Point Pedro.

He shot down the argument that Colombo port would suffer as a result of the canal. He said that the kind of shipping now coming to Colombo would not be using the canal, at least in the near future. Colombo receives ships of 65,000-dwt capacity (the Panamax class carriers or mother ships), but the canal will not be able to take ships larger than 20,000 dwt, unless it is deepened considerably more than envisaged so far.

Ships coming from the Suez Canal and heading for Australia and the Far East would not be using the Sethusamudram canal at all, but would either continue to touch Colombo or go to the new port of Humbantota. The only ships from the West that will be using the canal are the ones which have to call on ports on the eastern Indian coast, or in Bangladesh.

It will take a long time for the canal to be made deep enough to take the mother ships. Colombo port will thus continue to receive all such ships, and trans-shipment, which constitutes 70% of Colombo's business, will continue to be brisk here.

Colombo has reached limit of expansion

Colombo's problem is not lack of business, but overcrowding, and the solution for this lies in developing other ports in the island, such as Humbantota and Trincomalee, and not in opposing the Sethusamudram project, Prof Balasundarampillai says.

Humbantota and Trincomalee are ideal for receiving the kind of big ocean going vessels and containers now calling at Colombo. Trincomalee is one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Humbantota is on the main East-West shipping route. Trincomalee will get big business because Sri Lanka's trade with East Asia and the Far East is increasing. Tuticorin, and other Indian ports served by the canal, are not as well situated as these Sri Lankan ports.

In fact, the government fears that the crunch as regards Colombo will come in 2008 when over crowding will have become unbearable. The port has no room to expand, Prof Balasundarampillai points out. Government therefore thinks that it is very important to start work on the Humbantota harbour by 2006. A Chinese company has already been asked to do the project.

The Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC), in collaboration with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), is developing Trincomalee as a major bunkering port using the refurbished giant oil tanks at China Bay. There are 99 of them, but only 15 are currently in use. The scope for expansion is therefore enormous. The infrastructure in Trincomalee has to be developed. But given its economic and strategic importance, there will be no dearth of international parties wanting to participate in projects there.

No adverse impact on environment

Prof Balasundarampillai says that the environmental aspects of the project have been looked into in-depth through over 30 studies. He himself has seen in the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, and another institute in Taramani, amazing facilities for computer simulation of ocean conditions.

The Indian government is satisfied that the project is environmentally safe. Scientifically worked out safeguards, as per national and international norms, have been included to make it an environment-friendly project, the Lankan geographer notes.

Taking the environmental issues one by one, he says that there is no truth in the allegation that the coast of Jaffna will be eroded, and that hundreds of islets off the coast will be sunk, and marine life will be washed away by waters rushing into the Palk Strait and Palk Bay from the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, as a result of the digging of the canal.

According to Prof Balasundarampillai, the major currents in the seas off the West and East coasts of India, and South Sri Lanka, are too far away from the canal area to affect water flows in it. Because of this, the depth of the canal will continue to be shallow and the water flow, low, he says.

"At any rate, for ships to move, the currents and the water flow will have to be regulated and this will be done by the design of the canal," he points out.

According to him, much of the criticism of the project is due to ignorance of new and advanced canal building and dredging technology now available in the world. This is the not the first time in the world that a ship canal will be dug he points out. There are ship canals in Europe and in Japan too. A whole tunnel, linking England and France, has been dug, and the English Channel is none the worse for it.

Dredging of the sea is necessary for building and maintaining harbours and this is constantly done with no harm being done to the adjacent coastline. There is offshore oil rigging all over the world. And India has ample experience of it through digging in Bombay High.

"Sometimes the wells go up to 300 to 400 metres deep into the sea off the coast," the geographer points out.

The North Sea is full of oilrigs and there has been no adverse impact of these on the Scandinavian countries or Great Britain, he says.

As for the disposal of the dredged material/waste, there are tried and tested ways and means to dispose them off. The government of India has assured that the Gulf of Mannar biosphere will be unaffected by the canal.

There are indeed fears about pollution and oil slicks due to increased shipping in the narrow sea. But Prof Balasundarampillai says that effective pollution control measures exist, and that these have been factored into the project. Apart from economic and technical feasibilities, any project now will have to get clearance from pollution control agencies. India has very strong and vocal environment protection groups and government is not unaware of the trouble that these can create. There are international laws to be adhered to also.

Fisheries will not be affected

The geographer debunks objections based on the fear that fishing will be adversely affected by the increased shipping in the narrow sea. He points out that increased shipping has never affected fishing even in the busiest seas in the world like the English Channel and the North Sea. There has been no adverse impact on either the environment or fishing, by digging a tunnel linking the UK and France under the English Channel, Prof Balasundarampillai says.

The ships coming to the canal will be moving in single file, one up and the other down. They will not be dispersed. Thus, they will not be a hindrance to the movement of fishing boats in the area, he says.

Moreover, the influx of fresh water from the India Ocean and the Bay of Bengal due to the digging of the canal will actually bring in more fish and newer varieties of fish into the Palk Strait, Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar area.

"Fishing in Sri Lanka is adversely affected by bad fishing practices and other causes. In the Sri Lankan north, fishing is affected by massive poaching by Indian fishermen and years of disruption and government restrictions because of the war. The Sethusamudram project, as such, will not have an adverse impact on Sri Lankan fisheries," Prof. Balasundarampillai argues.

Why India is pursuing the project now?

Tracing the 145-year history of the Sethusamudram canal idea, the geographer says that there are three reasons why the project seems to be seeing the light of day now, at long last:

(1) The tremendous economic development that India is now undergoing has made the project affordable;

(2) The increasing awareness in India of its security requirements and its bid to be a regional power with a blue water navy;

(3) The shrill demand from Tamil Nadu that the long delayed project be started forthwith.

"India is now able to afford the project which is to cost Rupees (Indian) 2,427.4 crore or $400 million. It is going to fund it from its own resources," the Jaffna-based don points out.

India also wants to be a regional power with sway over the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. The canal will help its ships and submarines go from coast to coast without circumventing Sri Lanka and thus save 254 to 424 nautical miles in distance, and 21 to 36 hours of sailing time.

Indian coastal trade will get a boost, even as Indian naval ships will be able to patrol the long peninsular coastline more effectively. Criminal and other undesirable activities in the Palk Strait can be monitored and checked better if it is made navigable.

Then there is the domestic political compulsion to carry out the project. Two of the leading members of the ruling coalition in New Delhi at this point of time, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) led by the veteran Tamil leader M Karunanidhi, and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) led by the firebrand Tamil nationalist Vaiko, have been pushing hard for the project at the Central government level. They are in positions of power thanks to coalition politics.

The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu is scared that the DMK and the MDMK is going to walk away with prizes for establishing the project. And according to the DMK, the AIADMK government is putting spokes in the wheel. But even the AIADMK cannot stall the project, given the fact that it is an emotive issue in the state.

The Congress, which is the leader of the coalition in the centre, is also interested. Congressman and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who represents Sivaganga constituency in south Tamil Nadu, is very keen that the southern districts of his state make rapid strides in economic development. Chidambaram sees the development of ports on the south Tamil Nadu coastline as a necessary pre-requisite for the development of the hinterland. As he himself told parliament, the Sethusamudram project is a "long cherished dream" of the people of Tamil Nadu.

The thickly populated but backward areas of Ramanathapuram, Dindigul, Sivakasi, Pudukkottai, Thirunelveli, and Kanyakumari, besides Tuticorin, will see economic development with the development of ports in the area and the arrival of sea borne business opportunities.

Sri Lanka should see project positively

Prof Balasundarampillai says that Sri Lanka would do well by taking advantage of the Sethusamudram canal and developing the northern and northwestern ports. Simultaneously, it should develop Trincomalee and Oluvil in the East, and Humbantota in the south.

It is India, which is going to spend the money and develop the Palk Strait as a sea-lane. Sri Lanka should take advantage of this fully, and develop its own ports in the region to share the additional business that will flow into the region.

Kankesanthurai will join ports servicing South Asia, which has a population of 1.5 billion, if the Sri Lankan government seizes the opportunity thrown up by the Sethusamudram project and develops it into a major port, and a trading and industrial centre.

And if channels from the canal to the northern Sri Lankan ports like Thalaimannar and Kankesanthurai are opened, Sri Lankan coastal shipping will also benefit. Sea freighting is any day cheaper that using other modes of transport. This holds good for India and Sri Lanka, Prof Balasundarampillai says.

He points out that India is not infringing Sri Lanka's rights in any way by digging the canal, because the canal is entirely in Indian waters. Since the canal is only 300-metre wide, ships will have to go single file and therefore there is no chance of encroachment into Sri Lankan waters.

"Sri Lanka should see the project positively and it should be pro-active in making use of it for its own benefit," he urges. Perhaps, as the Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe put it, Sri Lanka should see the Sethusamudram project as an "opportunity' and not as a "threat".

Addressing the concern of the Tamils specifically, Prof Balasundarampillai said in a recent article in the Tamil daily Sudar Oli that the primary, major and immediate beneficiaries of the Sethusamudram project will be the Tamils of Tamil Nadu and the Tamils of North Sri Lanka, because it is the ports in their areas which will prosper immediately.

Source: Hindustan Times

Government may open up cruise shipping to FDI

Government may open up cruise shipping to foreign direct investment as part of its efforts to promote tourism and also amend the Merchant Shipping Act to simplify registration procedures for foreign cruise companies.

An exclusive policy for cruise tourism is being evolved which is likely to spell out details of FDI regime besides measures to upgrade ports and other related infrastructure.

A high power steering group under the chairmanship of Minister of Shipping and the Minister of State for Tourism as its co-chairman has already been set up to finalise a cruise policy, an official statement saidon Wednesday.

The Government might consider liberalising FDI norms and also have a re-look at Section 21 of the Merchant Shipping Act to relax registration procedure for foreign cruise companies, it said, adding the objective of all these efforts is to make India an attractive cruise tourism destination.

The Shipping Ministry has already relaxed cabotage to allow foreign flag cruise vessels do coastal legs without hassle in the absence of Indian flag vessels in this segment.

"The Government is working on simplifying the cruise shipping affairs and this invites greater interest among global cruise operators," Shipping Minister TR Baalu had said recently.

With the Indian economy growing at an impressive rate of over 7 per cent annually, Indians can spend more on travel and tourism. A large number of Indians go every year for cruise shipping in South Asian region, the statement said.

The government is also contemplating developing seven ports as cruise shipping stations. These are - Cochin in Kerala, New Mangalore in Karnataka, Marmugao in Goa, Mumbai in Maharashtra, Kolkata in West Bengal, Port Blair in Andaman & Nicobar and Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, the statement said.

Besides this, small berthing places will also be developed at various sites for small vessels. Special tourism circuits pertaining to each port will also be prepared keeping in view local cultural heritage, it said, adding Cochin could be linked with health circuit-ayurvedic massage and extended to backwaters, beaches and Munnar in Kerala.

Similarly, New Mangalore could be linked with tourism circuit of Bangalore, Bellur, Helebid and Hampi while Mumbai can have the destination Ajanta-Ellora, Elephanta in the package available to the tourists landing there. Tuticorin can be linked with the circuit of temples.

Cruise shipping in the country has not been fully exploited so far. The number of cruise vessels and passengers carried calling on Indian ports has been fluctuating during the past five years. A total 45,521 cruise passengers arrived in ports like Mumbai, Cochin and Mormugao in 2000-01 but the figure declined to 15,784 in 2001-02 and further to 11,850 in 2002-03.

Source: Hindustan Times

Tuticorin Container Terminal (TCT) sets record in India

A Singapore-owned freight terminal has set a new productivity record in India by moving containers off a ship at an average rate of 103 an hour.

Tuticorin Container Terminal (TCT), majority-owned by PSA International, set the record on December 21 when it cleared the Evergreen Marine vessel Hatsu Prima.

Operations at the south Indian port of Tuticorin started at 11.55 pm local time and ended at 9.45 am the next day with a total of 1,500 20-foot equivalent units of containers moved, the Straits Times said.

"This is the first time we have crossed the 100 moves per hour mark with three cranes deployed on one vessel," John Quok, general manager of the PSA subsidiary that operates the terminal, was quoted as saying.

"We are confident that this will set TCT apart and reinforce its position as one of the leading container ports in India," he added.

The slow clearance of container terminals has been a major challenge facing Indian port operators, analysts said.

Tuticorin is one of the fastest-growing container ports in India and is well connected by road and rail to industrial centres such as Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, Coimbatore and Madurai.

It also has direct shipping services to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and China, and feeder connections to Singapore, Colombo and Salalah in Oman.

Source: Hindustan Times

Crab farming gets a push up

Finally, the crabs are getting the push they deserve. Or, rather, mud-crab farming is. After depending on bamboo and wooden cages for centuries, coastal crab farmers are now being introduced to fibreglass-reinforced plastic technology, which is expected to give a major boost to the Rs 100-crore industry.

Better known as FRPs, the sturdy, sophisticated mud crab cages and pens have been already introduced in Tamil Nadu. The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), an autonomous society under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, which designed the contraptions, is planning to take them to all the 12 states where mud-crab farming is the mainstay for thousands of families.

Describing the entry of FRP in crab farming as “revolutionary”, NIOT group head R Venkatesan said crab farmers usually depended on locally available material like bamboo, nylon and other synthetics to manufacture cages, which called for repeated investment. “With FRP, crab farmers will be able to derive maximum benefits, since the material is sturdy, non-corrosive and can last upto 10 years even in sea water with periodic cleaning,” he said.

“These cages have to be buried upto 60 cm below the sea bed to prevent crab burrowing through the sand and escaping,” Venkatesan explained. “Open FRP cages are also conducive to lobster-fattening.”

A few months ago, he said, NIOT designed and set up seven mud crab pens (cages are smaller than pens), measuring 100 sq m and made of corrugated FRP sheets, in the Pulicat lake near Chennai. Lobster-fattening cages have been deployed at Tharuvaikulam, near Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.

Besides their longevity, the cages also offer the option of add-ons; that is, they can be expanded, depending on need. A standard cage, suitable for netting 1000 crabs, is 6 metres in length and 4 meters wide. At Rs 100,000 for a standard cage, it’s not exactly cheap, but various state governments are offering 50 per cent subsidies to popularise the improved structure.

The sole manufacturer, the Bhosari-based Suvarna Fibrotech—it donated two FRP houses to tsunami-hit Kerala last year—is also chipping in with concessions. “We have already supplied seven modules of the pen, worth Rs 6 lakh; further production is in process,” said P I Varghese, CMD of the small-scale industrial unit, adding that according to NIOT, this was the first such application of FRP.

Source: Indian Express

NIOT Tuticorin Project Likely To Go On Stream this Year

The one MW ocean thermal power project designed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) with technical inputs from Saga University of Japan, at Tuticorin is likely to be commissioned early next year. The project envisages generation of power from the difference in seawater temperature at a depth of 1000 meters and on the surface.

NIOT, an autonomous institute under the department of ocean technology, has been working in this project with an allocation of Rs 35 crore. The project cost has gone up to Rs 60 crore, informed sources said.

The project at Tuticorin is only a demonstration project. The technology can be commercialised by setting up all weather power generation units. But it may take years to reach that stage.

NIOT has already set up a small demonstration project (55 kw) to generate power from wave energy in the Kerala coast. The project was initiated by ITT, Madras and then taken over by NIOT.

Now NIOT is moving to its own premises, in the outskirts of the City.

Ramesh Flowers Plans To Set Up Candle Unit

Tuticorin-based Ramesh Flowers (P) Ltd, one of the leading dry flower exporters in the country, is planning to set up a candle manufacturing unit in Tuticorin. The company is investing close to about Rs 5 crore for the project.

Mrs Manju Singhwi, director of the company told òf48óFEòf45ó that "there is huge demand for candles in the international market especially in the US and Europe. We already have presence in these countries through huge departmental stores like `Walmart' and British Home Stores. Leveraging on this, the company will start exporting candles."

The company exports potpourri and fragrance products, bouquets, topiaries, floral accessories and incense sticks to international markets with major presence in the US and Europe.

She said, the project is still on the drawing board stage and would be finalised soon. "We are planning to set up a state-of-the-art facility in Tuticorin with an investment of Rs 5 crore. The facility will focus only on the export market as the domestic market is still nascent," she added.

Talking about the IT initiatives of the company, Mrs Manju Singhwi said, Ramesh Flowers was the first to implement Navision financials, an ERP based financial software to run the business more efficiently. The whole process of the company right from buying to exporting, payroll system, attendance is under ERP. The company has also brought smart card interface under this system.

"We are in the process of upgrading our ERP software and it should be completed by March 2004," she said adding the company has invested close to about Rs 15 lakh in the initiative.

Tamilnad Mercantile Bank net rises to Rs 82.4 crore

Tuticorin-based Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Ltd has reported a net profit of Rs 82.35 crore during the year ended March 2005, registering a marginal growth of about 2.06% over the previous year’s Rs 80.68 crore. Operating profit increased to Rs 174.21 crore (Rs 169.89 crore). The board has proposed a dividend of 250% for the shareholders subject to approval of the members at the annual general meeting.

The business volume of the bank went up by 14.34% to reach Rs 7,453 crore with deposits of Rs 4,826.88 crore and advances of Rs 2,626.24. Cost of deposits has come down to 6.15%. Capital adequacy ratio was at 19.74%. Net NPA has come down from 5% to 2.95%.

According to a bank statement, in order to sustain the credit growth, the bank had given greater thrust to retail lending. The bank had also fine-tuned its existing retail products and introduced new products to suit customers requirements.

On the technology front, TMB has brought a paradigm change in its information technology initiatives. It has brought all the 172 branches and the service branch in Chennai under core banking solution. The seven regional offices and head office are also connected to net.

The bank plans to augment its branch network by opening more number of branches at potential metro and urban centres. It has obtained permission from the RBI to open a branch at Gingee in Tamil Nadu. TMB, according to the statement, has strengthened its risk management system and taken a number of steps to meet the challenges of Basel II norms.

Plan To Develop Tuticorin Port As Asian Hub

Tuticorin hub port development council, promoted by Shippers and Chambers of Commerce at Tuticorin, is to prepare a viability report for developing Tuticorin Port as the South Asian hub port.

The council president T Johnson told a press conference here on Tuesday that council would engage two international consultants to prepare the report at a cost of Rs 20 lakh.

The report would be ready in another eight to 10 weeks and would be submitted to Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa to be forwarded to the centre to take action on the matter, he said.

He said if draught of the Tuticorin Port was developed to 16 meters from the present 11 meters, bigger vessels could call on the port, enhancing the revenue for the port.

He said a study conducted by AF Ferguson and Co had revealed that if Rs 7,800 crore was invested in the port, it could overtake the revenue of the Singapore Port by 2020.

Another study by Consulting Engineering Services India had stated that Rs 3,000 crore could be spent on developing the infrastrcuture in the port, which could generate more revenue as traffic to Colombo Port could be diverted to Tuticorin, he said.

He said Tuticorin Port had all qualfications to become the South Asian hub port. It was close to international sea route, had an all weather port and vast area of land was available for development of major and minor industries, he added.

Tuticorin Port awaits nod for Rs 840 cr capex

The Tuticorin Port Trust is awaiting the Centre’s approval for three major inner harbour development projects estimated to cost Rs 840 crore. The cargo traffic in the port has been growing at a rapid pace and it is expecting substantial increase in the traffic in the east coast after the completion of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project. The port hopes to win a good share of the new traffic and attract more cargo.

The projects include dredging the harbour basin to a depth of 14 metres and channel to 14.6 metres, (estimated to cost Rs 460 crore), constructing five more berths, (Rs 230 crore) and converting berth No 8 into a container terminal on build, operate and transfer basis (Rs 150 crore).

The Union minister for shipping and transport Mr TR Baalu said recently in Chennai that the shipping ministry would support the investment plans of the Tuticorin Port Trust. He said all professional decisions for the development of port infrastructure would be considered very favourably and backed by the ministry.

The Tuticorin Port Trust Chairman NK Raghupathy told FE the ministry has forwarded the proposal to Public Invest-ment Board (PIB). After PIB approval they will go for the clearance of the Cabinet Com-mittee on Economic Affairs.

To meet the increasing container traffic and to attract the mainline vessels, the harbour basin and approach channel have to be deepened. This was one of the major proposals of the Indian Ports Authority which had conducted a study on the development needs of the port.

Source: Finiancial Expresss

IDBI spikes Spic, TAC merger move

Lady luck seems to be playing truant with the AC Muthiah controlled Spic group of companies. Bearly six months after the group’s hopes to revive its jinxed petrochemical venture, Spic Petro, were dashed when the proposed suitor, Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), developed cold feet about the alliance, the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), one of the key lenders to the group, had reportedly put a spoke on the wheels of its plans to amalgamate one of its subsidiaries Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals and Fertilisers (TAC) Ltd with its flagship company Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation Ltd (Spic).

Board of directors of both companies had cleared the merger proposal a couple of months back. Spic holds 45.15% stake in TAC.

Sources in the financial circles told FE on conditions of anonimity that the proposed merger of Spic and TAC is likely to be called off soon as the IDBI led consortium of lenders are opposing the move. “IDBI has been opposing the move citing the fact that Spic has turned sick and is being referred to the BIFR following its networth erosion while TAC is in the process of a turaround and has started making profits,” sources said.

Source: Financial Express

Two arrested for graft

Sleuths of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, on Thursday, arrested a clerk and a peon working at Tuticorin municipal office on the charge of taking bribe from a retired municipal employee.

The clerk, Nagoor Hassan, demanded Rs. 500 from Thengaraisamy to release the pension arrears due to him.

On the instruction of DVCA officials, Thengaraisamy handed over a currency note dipped in chemicals to Hassan. Soon after receiving the money, Hassan, with the help of Ramasamy, hid it somewhere in the room.

But the duo denied taking any money from the complainant when the DVAC officials entered the room and questioned them.

Hence the DVAC officials dipped the hands of all present in the room in a chemical solution, which confirmed the involvement of the duo.

Source: The Hindu

Rain lashes Tuticorin

Sudden downpour on Thursday afternoon brought cheers to the people reeling under hot and humid conditions for the past few weeks.

Accompanied by a mild thunder and lightning, rain lashed the town for almost an hour.

Within minutes after the skies opened up, low-lying residential areas and roads in the town got inundated owing to poor drainage facilities. The normal flow of traffic was affected even on arterial roads such as George Road, after they were flooded making it difficult for the drivers to negotiate potholes. On many of the roads, garbage was floating posing hardship to pedestrians.

Even after the rain stopped, the sky remained overcast for the remaining part of the day.

CEO assumes office

B. David Balasingh, assumed charge as Chief Educational Officer and District Program Coordinator of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan here on Wednesday, vice D. Hariharan, who was transferred as CEO, Sivaganga.

Girl students to be trained in life skills, Under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scheme

The Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) under the Department of Elementary Education and Literacy plans to impart training in `life skills' to girl students at a cost of Rs. 3 lakh during the current financial year.

Under the project, girls studying Standard VIII at various schools will be trained in life skills through 26 residential camps to be conducted at 13 blocks in the district, as part of a capacity-building exercise.

In all, we plan to train 1,206 girls (92 children from each block) to help them develop their personality and positive thinking, which will result in the girls overcoming gender disparities and become matured persons, according to S.G. Kumaradoss, Assistant District Program Coordinator of SSA.

The trainees would be given necessary aids such as track suits/dresses and handbook on life skill development, which deals with time management and stress management techniques.

The girls would be taught to cope with depression, loneliness, shyness, fear, and criticisms from peers and adults, by teachers (woman), who have been trained by SSA-deployed `key resource persons.'

The students would be given tips on self-actualisation, self-acceptance, self-esteem and self-understanding, besides inputs on personality development.

Mr. Kumaradoss said the entire training will be in two modules spanning three days each, with the first leg to commence on October 4. The final leg is slated for October 11.

Source: The Hindu

Performance of banks reviewed

A district-level review committee meeting convened by the State Bank of India, the lead bank, here on Wednesday evaluated the performance of banks during the first quarter of the current financial year.

The Collector, R. Palaniyandi, who chaired the meeting, said the performance of the banks was mixed during the first three months of the current year vis-à-vis benchmarks set by the Reserve bank of India.

He said the credit to deposit (CD) ratio stood at 80.29 percent, which was more than the RBI norms of 60, showing a healthy trend in ground level disbursements.

It reflected that the deposits were utilised for entrepreneurial ventures within the district itself and that there was no `flight of capital.' Similarly, priority sector advances to total advances ratio and direct agricultural advances to total advances ratio stood at 42.17 and 18.81 percent, more than the RBI norms of 40 and 18 respectively.

However, weaker sector advances to total advances ratio and priority sector advances ratio were below the RBI norms.

Differential Interest Rate (DIR) advances to total advances also was below the RBI benchmark of one percent, to stand at 0.01 percent, indicating that the economically backward sections were not getting the benefits of DIR. Dr. Palaniyandi said that the banks in toto had received deposits to the tune of Rs. 200 crore during the first quarter.

Of this, commercial banks received Rs. 157 crore, regional rural banks got Rs.5 crore and cooperative banks Rs. 38 crore as deposits.

In the same period, the banks had lent Rs. 235 crore as advances.

Under Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), loans worth Rs. 22.94 lakh were sanctioned to 71 beneficiaries.

A. Desingu, lead bank manager, and R. Bharat Kumar, Assistant General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) were present.

Source: The Hindu

Thirty-five nominations filed in Tuticorin

A total of 35 nominations were filed in the district for the civic polls, after the filing of nominations process commenced here on Wednesday.

Of them, 30 nominations were for the election of village panchayat ward members, one for the post of municipal councillor under the Kovilpatti municipality, one for village panchayat president at Alwarthirunageri and the remaining three for the post of ward members at various town panchayats.

Speaking to media persons, the Collector R. Palaniyandi said that 48 Returning Officers and 590 Assistant Returning Officers had been appointed.

He said a total of 2,174 polling booths would be established for the elections to the 12 panchayat unions, 19 town panchayats, two municipalities and one-third grade municipality.

"We had decided to deploy additional police force to the booths which were identified as `sensitive'," he said.

Source: The Hindu

Unidentified gang hurls country bomb at car in Tuticorin

An accused in a murder case was allegedly killed by a group of unidentified persons here on Tuesday while he was returning from the court here to his house at Kurumbur.

The police said Subramanian (32), an accused in the murder of an industrialist in the district on September 4, 2005, was returning home with his friend Perumal and relative Thomas, in a car, after appearing before a judicial magistrate.

While the car was negotiating a culvert near Mullakadu on Tuticorin-Tiruchendur State highway, six persons jumped in front of the car and hurled a country bomb at the vehicle.

Though the bomb did not injure anyone inside the car, the group attacked Subramanian with a sickle. He died on the spot. Perumal, who escaped unhurt, rushed to the nearby Muthiapuram police station and reported the matter.

A team led by Superintendent of Police John Nicholson launched an investigation.

Source: The Hindu

Tips to protect lungs, Offered at a lecture programme held in Tuticorin College

A lecture on `You and your lungs — A bird's eye view' was organised on the premises of Annammal College of Education for Women here recently.Delivering the keynote address, K. Krishnamoorthy, Pulmonologist, explained the causes for various diseases like pneumonia, allergy, asthma, cancers due to smoking, and tuberculosis, with the help of illustrations.

He also listed the precautions that needed to be taken to prevent lung diseases and the treatment available to combat the ailments, if they were affected by it.

Source: The Hindu

Farmers to get enhanced credit

The State Bank of India aims to bring in more number of farmers functioning in niche agricultural segments in the district under the thrust areas of bank finance with the help of various departments and agencies, during the current fiscal.

X. Arulsamy, Regional Manager, State Bank of India, said an enhanced credit would be extended to the farmers who wanted to take up the cultivation of tissue culture banana and high-value horticultural activities.

To promote the cultivation of tissue culture banana, the scale of finance would be enhanced from Rs.25,000 per acre, which was extended to ordinary banana cultivation, to Rs.34,000 for every acre of tissue culture banana.

"Our aim is to convert more wasteland into cultivable land," he added.

The enhanced credit would be offered towards establishment of rural godowns also to help the farmers store their agricultural produces till they get remunerative prices.

"It would help them avoid distress sale," he added.

Under `Produce Marketing Loan' scheme, the bank would extend credit to a maximum of Rs.five lakh to the farmers to store their produces at their houses, who, otherwise, found it difficult to transport their produces to godowns situated at distant places, till they find a conducive market.

He said that loans were extended for technology upgrading of conventional industries situated in the `match and matchbox cluster' at Kovilpatti under a scheme called `Match Plus.'

"We provide sub-prime lending rate of interest under the scheme, which was calculated using a modified `risk matrix pricing' system," he said.

For the salt industry in Tuticorin, the bank has come out with a `salt pan' scheme, which offers credit as term loan and working capital, towards preparation of field, manufacturing and trading of salt.

"So far, the bank had extended Rs one crore in the current fiscal under the scheme," the Regional Manager said.

Mr. Arulsamy said the bank would be financing 20 self-help groups near Tiruchendur for setting up seaweed cultivation using `monoline culture'.

"We would give Rs 74.40 lakh as loans in toto to the 20 groups," he said.

Source: The Hindu

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The friends now learn to handle communal crisis

A three-day multimedia training for Friends of Police (FoP) and police officials organised by the district police concluded here on Monday.

Uma Maheswari, criminologist, and Usha Rani, psychologist, both trainers at the Police Training College in Chennai, were the resource persons. In all, 200 personnel from the Police Department and 200 from FoP were trained.

Ms. Maheswari said that various topics such as the role of FoP, community policing, equilibrium thinking for attitudinal change, team building skills, crime prevention, rapport building and problem solving were covered. The members of FoP were taught about methods to solve communal problems in an amicable manner.

Besides, inputs on disaster management techniques to combat situations in post-terror strikes would be given to them, she added.

The multi-media training conducted at 29 police districts and six Commissionerates helped the FoP and the police to solve crime quickly.

"The Government had allocated Rs. 40,000 to conduct each leg of the training," she said. The introduction of FoP movement in 1993 bridged the communication gap between the public and police, Ms. Maheswari said. At the inaugural , Superintendent of Police John Nicholson and Deputy Superintendents of Police Mohammed Ghori and Natarajamoorthy spoke.

Source: The Hindu

Two `base trans-receiver stations' commissioned in Tuticorin

The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited has commissioned two Base Trans-receiver Stations (BTS) at Kovilpatti and Authoor to improve the cellular service in the district, N.R. Natarajan, General Manager, BSNL, has said.

Speaking to media persons here on Monday, he said that to enhance the quality of coverage, 14 more cell BTS would be established before the end of the current fiscal.

Of this, five BTS at Puthiyamputhur, Threspuram, Tiruchendur, Alanthalai and Pudhugramam would be commissioned before September 30, while the work on the remaining nine stations was under progress.

"At present, 69 cell BTS, including the 49 stations established under the Indian Mobile Personal Communication System project, were functioning in the district."

On the Broad Band Services, he said the service would be extended to subscribers at Kovilpatti before the month-end.

"We now have the capacity to offer only 120 connections at Kovilpatti, though there are 150 persons figured in the waiting list."

The BBS would be extended to Tiruchendur and Kayalpattinam too in a phased manner shortly.

The GM said broadband connections were now available `on demand' to the customers in Tuticorin, provided the customers were ready to purchase `Digital Subscriber Loop modem' on their own.

He said the security deposits for STD and ISD Public Call Offices had been reduced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 3,000, to facilitate setting up of more STD/ISD booths.

Similarly, activation charges for post-paid cellular services were reduced from Rs 200 to Rs 100.

Close on the heels of the launch of the telephone directory a few days ago, which was updated till June 30, 2005, the BSNL now plans to release a supplementary directory before October 31.

"It would have the telephone numbers updated as on September 30, 2006," the GM said.

Bid to get ISO certification

Mr. Natarajan said that efforts were on now to obtain ISO 9001 certification (quality management) for the Tuticorin telecom district through enhanced customer satisfaction and continual improvement of performance.

"With quality management in place, we expected to reduce the customer migration to other service providers," he added.

Later, Mr Natarajan held an interface with the customers to listen to grievances.

Source: The Hindu

Monday, September 18, 2006

Shipyard planned for Tuticorin

Tuticorin Port Trust plans to establish a shipbuilding yard on its premises, to be built on build-operate-transfer (BOT) or lease basis.

Korea Maritime Consultants Company Limited, which conducted a feasibility study, submitted its report to the port authorities

The yard would have a building dock of 1,279.5 ft. in length, 213 ft. in breadth and 32.8 ft. in height and five berths with a total length of 3,937 ft

About 60,000 to 66,000 tons of steel meant for shipbuilding would be handled at the yard in a year

UNICEF to set up salt testing units in Tuticorin

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) will establish 38 mobile salt testing units in the State during the current fiscal at a cost of Rs. 3 lakh, to ensure that adequate quantity of iodine is present in the salt meant for human consumption.

Speaking to The Hindu , Eric-Alain Ategbo, Project Officer (Nutrition), UNICEF, said the units would be established with the help of the Salt Department, Government of India, in major salt producing districts such as Tuticorin, Ramanthapuram, Nagapattinam, Villupuram, etc.

"Apart from bearing the entire expenses towards establishment of the units, we will extend support to train the technicians appointed by the consortia of salt manufacturers at these units," he added.

Mr. Ategbo said the testing units would help the manufacturers confirm that salt at the manufacturing site contains 30 ppm (parts per million) of iodine.

"The tests, in turn, will ensure that the salt available at the consumer-end will have, at least, 15 ppm of iodine, even after the losses during transit, which is the minimum iodine content required for the human consumption to overcome the iodine deficiency disorders (IDD)," he added.

The UNICEF plans to join hands with Micronutrient Initiative, a Canadian organisation that fights for the elimination of mineral deficiencies, to create awareness among the small-scale manufacturers to sell the salt for human consumption in consumer packs, rather than in bulk packages.

"Iodine can be preserved better in small packs, which also increases the profitability," he added.

Mr. Ategbo said talks are on with the Salt Corporation of Tamil Nadu to orient the staff of Public Distribution System and Civil Supplies' outlets on the importance of selling iodised salt.

Source: The Hindu

Opinion sought on new projects in Tuticorin

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) conducted a public hearing at the Collectorate here on Thursday, to elicit the views of the public on the proposed multi-crore projects to be taken up by three private firms in Tuticorin on an outlay of Rs.1,583.79 crore.

The Collector, R Palaniyandi, chairman of the Public Hearing Committee, recorded the opinions on the Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (REIA) report presented by the Sterlite Industries (India) Limited, Ind-Barath Power Gencom Limited and DCW Limited, on their projects.

The DCW Limited plans to upgrade its plant at Sahupuram, near here, at a cost of Rs.475.79 crore, including establishment of a plant to convert mercury cell to membrane cell at a cost of Rs.160 crore to avoid pollution, a reverse osmosis nanosystem and synthetic grade iron oxide plant at a cost of Rs.125 crore and a co-generation power plant on an outlay of Rs.175 crore.

The remaining amount was earmarked for other development works.

The Ind-Barath Power Gencom Limited proposes to establish a 3X63 mw thermal power plant at Keezha Velayudhapuram at an estimated cost of Rs.598 crore. Presenting the REIA, the company officials said the power generated would be distributed to the State grid and to industries situated near the plant.

The Sterlite Industries proposes to establish 2X60 mw coal based power plant to generate power to meet its captive requirements and export a share to the State power grid at an estimated cost of Rs.510 crore.

A group of social activists led by Anton Gomez of National Union of Fishermen walked out from the public hearing, expressing dissatisfaction over the pollution control measures taken by the Sterlite Industries in their previous ventures.

Refuting the allegations, A. Thirunavakarasu, General Manager of Sterlite, stated that adequate amount was earmarked to combat pollution in the proposed project too.

Dr. Palaniyandi asked Tagore De Rose, another activist, to confine his views to the project, when he tried to praise previous projects of Sterlite Industries as a counter to the allegations made against the company by a section of the public. Tension prevailed for a while when members of various NGOs, who supported the DCW's project and those who opposed it, got engaged in verbal duels. S. Shanmugasundaram, District Environmental Engineer, TNPCB, was also present.

Source: The Hindu

Chamber for BG line to Kottayam soon

The Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry has sought early implementation of the Madurai-Kottayam broad gauge line.

In a memorandum submitted to the Union Minister of State for Railways, R. Velu, its president S. Rethinalvelu said that the line would enhance freight traffic and trade between Tamil Nadu and Kerala and boost earnings for the railways.

The proposed line would also link the Tuticorin harbour with Kochi port.

The chamber had conducted a survey on the project and submitted its findings to the Chief Operations Manager (Survey and Construction), Southern Railway.

The need for opening a computerised reservation centre on the eastern parts of Madurai, expediting the construction of road overbridges at Ellis Nagar, Sellur and Koodal Nagar and introduction of escalator facility at Madurai railway station were emphasised.

The chamber urged the Railway Minister to speed up the Madurai-Dindigul broad gauge doubling work, as it would enable introduction of new trains.

Adequate funds should be allocated to the project since the utilisation of the existing single BG line had crossed 140 per cent.

Source: The Hindu

Tuticorin-Ramanathapuram highway to be upgraded

The State Highways Department plans to upgrade the 117.9-km road stretch between Tuticorin and Ramanthapuram to national highway standards by December 15, 2008, on an outlay of Rs. 132.91 crore. This stretch is a component of the `eastern corridor,' connecting Tuticorin with Nagapattinam.

Speaking to The Hindu , V. Yesu Dhas, Divisional Engineer of Highways (Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project), said that the crust thickness of 17 district and village roads on this stretch would be raised uniformly to 70 cm. It would facilitate in bearing heavy volume of traffic envisaged in the sector once upgraded. The road would be widened to seven metres from the present 3.7 metres to facilitate two-lane traffic movement; 124 culverts and seven bridges would be reconstructed.

Preliminary works such as soil testing commenced recently. Wherever subsoil was found expansive in nature with higher clay content, it would be replaced by gravel sand to strengthen the base, Mr Dhas said.

Pre-construction activities such as shifting of water supply lines and electricity poles, resettlement of houses, besides land acquisition, is under way.

Mr Dhas said that 37.5-km long water pipes were shifted at a cost of Rs. 143.96 lakh with assistance from the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board.

Besides, 465 electricity poles and three transformers were shifted to facilitate widening of the road.

The remaining 130 poles and a transformer would be shifted before this month-end, Mr. Dhas said.

Under resettlement and rehabilitation component of the project, 15 houses and four shops were constructed in Tuticorin district and three houses in Ramanathapuram district, to rehabilitate those who were shifted from the roadside.

Mr. Dhas said the upgradation of the road between the two towns would act as a catalyst for the development of 22 revenue villages (11 villages in each district).

Source: The Hindu

Chamber for better coaches in trains to and from Tuticorin

All-India Chamber of Commerce and Industries has urged the Centre to attach coaches in a better condition to the Pearl City Express running between Tuticorin and Chennai.

Its president J.P. Joe Villavarayar said that invariably all the air-conditioned, sleeper and unreserved coaches attached to the train were old and ill maintained whereas the coaches of trains operated to nearby places from Chennai were new and neat. The authorities concerned should end this `step-motherly' attitude, considering the fact the Railway was collecting the same fare as charged for similar trains with better coaches.

The departure time of the Pearl City Express should be changed from 6.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. to benefit a larger section of the passengers.

Mr. Villavarayar urged the State Government to establish new industrial complexes around a 50-km radius from Tuticorin to meet the exponential industrial growth in the region. He said the infrastructure development of the peripheries was essential to create a conducive investment climate. Moreover, the Government should offer incentives to agro-based industries.

The SIPCOT and SIDCO industrial estates in Tuticorin should be expanded.

Steps should be taken to establish an apparel park in Tuticorin to give an impetus to the readymade garment cluster at Puthiyamputhur near here. Proper support from the government would catapult the industry to greater heights.

Source: The Hindu

Demonstration against Sethusamudram project

Members of various non-governmental organisations staged a demonstration in front of the municipal office here on Friday, demanding the authorities to stop the implementation of Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project.

They alleged that owing to the dredging activities under way, fishing nets worth Rs. 1.5 crore had been damaged till date.

The agitators said that ever since the dredging operation affected fishing activities in the Gulf of Mannar and the project was harming the coral eco-system in the region.

They pointed out that a good part of the soil and silt, which were dredged, were flowing back to the channel owing to improper techniques adopted, thus wasting the taxpayers' money. About 150 persons took part in the demonstration.

Source: The Hindu

Baking course for women held at Tuticorin

A six-day course on `Baking and Food Processing' organised by the Holy Cross Home Science College for the benefit of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe women belonging to self-help groups, will commence on the college premises here on September 18.

The training is sponsored by the Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology, Chennai, to empower women and help them establish business ventures. The training will be given to 30 women on methods to manufacture biscuits, cakes, pickles and other value-added items. Interested candidates should report at the venue at 9 a.m.

Another training programme on fashion designing for 50 SC/ST women, which started last month, will come to a close on September 16.

Source: The HIndu

Entire work for Dredging Corporation

The Tuticorin Port Trust, the nodal agency to implement the Sethusamudram project, has decided to hand over the entire work of executing the project to the Dredging Corporation of India.

It has also started mobilising dredging equipment to the Rameswaram coast to start dredging in the third week of October.

Port Trust Chairman N.K. Raghupathy told The Hindu that the international competitive bids quoted by the foreign companies for three packages of the dredging were higher than the estimated total cost of the project. Moreover, the performance of the Dredging Corporation of India, given the last stage of work (package D), was satisfactory. It had completed six million cubic meters of dredging out of the allotted 13.5 million cubic meters. The DCI would also undertake dredging in the Adams Bridge and the Palk Strait.

Mr. Raghupathy said dredging equipment had started moving to Dhanushkodi. The Port Trust planned to start dredging at the Adams Bridge during the first week of November. However, chances were bright for starting the work in the third week of October. An office established by the Port Trust at Rameswaram had started functioning.

Source: The Hindu

On the art of writing judgements

A workshop on `Appreciation of evidence' and `The art of writing judgement' organised by the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy was held at the district court premises here on Saturday. J. Prabhudas, Chief Judicial Magistrate, said the art of writing judgement is always an important quality required for a judge or any other judicial officer, to excel in service.

"Every judicial officer should render foremost attention to acquire perfection during the rendition of judicial pronouncement as the judgements are always a decision of proclaiming rights of the parties in respect of the claim involved," he said. To improve the art of judgement writing, a judge should develop a style conducive to him but within the boundaries of law and available evidence. "The judgements should always be in simple language so that even a man with ordinary abilities can understand it," he said, adding "brevity in writing judgement is a virtue."

On `Appreciation of evidence,' Mr. Prabhudas said the extra judicial confessions should always be subjected to rigorous tests. "If it passed the test, such confessions could be the basis for conviction though it's a weak type of evidence." R.V.R Deenadayalan, subordinate judge, S. Ramamoorthy, Additional District Judge, G. Anuradha, Additional District Munsif and T. Sambath Kumar, District Munsif, spoke.

Source: The Hindu

Youth arrested on murder charge

he police on Saturday arrested Venkatesh (22) on the charge of murdering Suresh Kumar, a salesman at a private firm, and seriously injuring Abbas Ali (26) at Kovilpatti on Friday night. The Superintendent of Police, John Nicholson, said the accused, who came in a car stopped the van in which Abbas Ali and Suresh Kumar were travelling to Nalatinpudur from Kazhigamalai. In the pretext of asking the tool kit, Venkatesh attacked the duo with a sickle. While Venkatesh died on the spot, Abbas Ali was admitted to Tirunelveli Medical College and Hospital with injuries. The accused took away Rs 25,000 kept inside the car.

Mr. Nicholson said, Babu (29), who was an accused in another murder that took place at Srivaikundam a month ago, too was arrested on Saturday.

Infrastructure Development - DELL Manufacturing unit

The infrastructure development in and around Tuticorin is essential to create a good investment climate.
Incentives to Hardware manufactuing unit should be provided.Similarly more incentive should be given to agro based industries as well.Also , to tap the potential of pudhiyamputhur , an apprael park should be established.

Recently DELL announced to set up its Manufacturing unit near Chennai.Though Tuticorin has excellent infrastructure facility, it is unfortunate that there is not much encouragement from the state government to consider/recommend Tuticorin for DELL's investment.

Continuous improvent in the infrastructure facility is required.Tuticorin Port should be connected with Cochin Port through rail .

Existing industrial estate has to be expanded.Tuticorin-Madurai should be made 6 lane soon.

Hope the Government takes notice of this and take the necessary actions immediately.

NHRC urged to intervene

Presidents of 30 panchayats in Vilathikulam constituency in Tuticorin district have requested the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to take action to stop illegal sand mining from Vaippar river bed in the district.

In a memorandum to NHRC member R S Kalha, they said the water table had depleted considerably and sea water had seeped into their borewells making water undrinkable and unfit for irrigation purposes. Illegal sand mining was affecting the livelihood of more than 250 villages, they said.

The quarries violated all government guidelines and had been operating from the check dam site and also from near the borewells which get recharged during rainy seasons.

They said their plea for another check dam near the coastal area to prevent water from going waste into the sea had also been put on hold, though the government had sanctioned Rs 7 crore. Drinking water now cost Rs 2 per pot in the area. The government, they said, could get a bad name if the sand mining was not stopped immediately.

Meanwhile, People's Watch, an NGO and human rights organisation, which sent a fact-finding team to the area, said that the panchayat presidents also charged the police with terrorising them and protecting the sand miners.

Police had clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144. The police, instead of helping people get water, were harassing them, the release alleged.

Source: Chennai Online

93 colour TV sets distributed in Tuticorin

Tamil Nadu Animal Husbandry Minister P Geetha Jeevan inaugurated the free color television scheme today and distributed 93 sets to beneficiaries at Lingampatti Samathvapuram (colony of all communities) at Kovilpatti in Tuticorin district.

A total of 527 beneficiaries have been identified in the first phase in six Samathvapurams - Lingampatti, Pudur, Nagalapuram, Alankanallur, Perurani, Kedayaneri, Tiruchendur. The remaining television sets would be distributed before March 2007.

She said that a total of Rs 750 crore had been alloted for the programme this financial year, to benefit 25 lakh families.

District Collector Palaniyandi and other top officials participated in the function.

The revenue divisional officer of Kovilpatti, Sudarpandian, welcomed the gathering.


Govt to change port projects bid norms

The ministry of shipping is planning to make changes in bidding norms for port projects to avoid delays caused on account of security clearances.

Privatisation of two major ports — Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), Chennai Port Trust (CPT) — and Vizhinjam port in Kerala have been delayed by six to 18 months due to delays in obtaining security clearance for foreign bidders.

In the case of MbPT and Chennai Port, security clearance was denied to Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings — the largest independent port operator in the world — that had bid along with Larsen & Toubro (L&T).

In Vizhinjam, Kaidi Electric Power Company and Chinese Harbour Engineering (along with Mumbai-based Zoom Developers) were also denied permission. Realising that security clearance was delaying the projects, L&T replaced foreign partner Hutchison with Manila-based International Container Terminal Services in May.

L&T's request for Chennai port was scuttled and the Rs 495 crore contract finally went to PSA-SICAL combine which currently manages the Tuticorin container terminal.

Mumbai Port, however, accepted L&T's request and has postponed the deadline for submission of financial bids to October 9 to accommodate the company and its new partner.

MbPT expects ICTSI to be given clearance by the cabinet committee on security meeting on September 20. New norms will clarify issues such as the point at which security clearance for the project should be sought. Currently, ports follow varying norms.

For instance, Mumbai Port decided to first wait for the security clearance and then proceed with inviting financial bids while Chennai Port decided to invite financial bids first but the award of contract was made subject to security clearance.

Here L&T lost its chance. While a legal opinion from Mulla & Mulla gave an okay to the company to change its foreign partner (while it retained other terms and conditions of the financial bid), the issue was directed to the shipping ministry for the final approval.

Before ministry of shipping took a decision, the security clearance was denied to Hutchison which was L&T's initial partner.

"As Hutchison was denied clearance, L&T's bid was rejected," said a Chennai port official. But no one from the Chennai Port or the shipping ministry wants to clarify on what happened to L&T's request for the change in partner.

While L&T officials were tight-lipped about the issue, Mumbai Port has no recourse but to extend its bid submission dates as the delays has already turned away many bidders.

Currently, bidders participating in port projects can change consortium partners three weeks before submission of financial bids.

In case of Vizhinjam port which is to be developed as trans-shipment port giving direct competition to Dubai port, Singapore port and Colombo ports, the issue is different.

Financial bids were opened six months ago and the three-company consortium was declared winner. However, final award was subject to security clearance which was denied to the two Chinese companies one of which was the main bidder holding 26% stake in the port.

While the Indian partner, Zoom Developers is trying to salvage the project that will cost Rs 1,800 crore in the first phase itself, by proposing to change the partners, there is no clarity from the government on the issue.

The state government along with the support from the opposition parties is first trying to put pressure on the Central government to give security clearance.

But, as industry experts say, the damage has already been done to Indian ports including the 13 major ports which are planning investments of over Rs 61,000 crore in future.

Source: Times of India

Friday, September 15, 2006

Nafed may lose monopoly over Lankan vanaspati import

ndia may expand the list of state trading entities which can import vanaspati from Sri Lanka. It is also considering allowing private traders to import the commodity.

At present, these imports can be routed only through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed).

The relaxation comes on the back of Sri Lanka agreeing to India’s proposal to limit its vanaspati imports, including bakery shortening and margarine, to 2.5 lakh mt.

Officials said the proposals would be finalised only after consultations with the Sri Lankan government. A high-level team is scheduled to hold discussions with their Lankan counterparts next week.

The proposal to allow other state trading enterprises to import vanaspati is being considered in the wake of concerns raised by Lankan vanaspati manufacturers over the lack of clarity on norms outlined by Nafed for distribution and the quantity of imported vanaspati.

Officials said there was another proposal to allow private traders to import vanaspati by applying to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. “Private traders who have legitimate purchase agreements with Lankan vanaspati manufacturers could be allowed to import,” an official said.

The government is also mulling restricting imports of pepper at certain ports. “Ports like Tuticorin or Cochin could be restricted on pepper imports in order to protect the domestic pepper industry’s interests,” an official said.

Sri Lanka has agreed to consider India’s suggestion for a tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 2,500 mt for pepper imports from the island nation. The TRQ for pepper will be applicable to imports outside the advance licence scheme. Such imports have a re-export clause.

Similarly, the island country has agreed to a TRQ of 500 mt for desiccated coconut at a concessional duty of 30 per cent. The normal import duty on the item is 60 per cent.

Under a TRQ, imports from another country are allowed usually at a reduced import duty up to a fixed limit in a year.

Source: Economy & Policy

Steps to improve amenities by Tuticorin Collector

The Collector, R.Palaniyandi, presiding over a mass contact programme at Umarikottai, coming under Tuticorin taluk, on Wednesday appealed to the public to come out with suggestions to improve basic amenities in villages.

Totally 126 petitions were received during the programme, of which 52 were accepted and the rest were rejected by the Collector.

Dr. Palaniyandi redressed the grievances pertaining to 14 petitions on the spot. Of this, 11 sought patta transfers and the rest demanded free house site pattas.

V.P.R. Suresh, Chairman of Tuticorin Panchayat Union, S Karunanidhi, RDO, and Mariammal, President of Umarikottai village panchayat, were present.

Source: The Hindu

Development works planned on 99 highways in Tuticorin

Development works on 99 highways will be carried out in the district at a cost of Rs.4,568.66 lakh in the current fiscal, said the Minister for Highways, M.P. Saminathan

The works include strengthening of existing roads, laying of new stretches and construction of three bridges, all over a stretch of 219.447 kms.

Mr. Saminathan told this at a review meeting of the road development works taken up in the district during the current fiscal as well as in the previous financial year, held here on Tuesday.

He said that besides development of highways, 24 rural roads would be strengthened during the current fiscal at a cost of Rs.380 lakh.

The Minister said that of the 162 road development works taken up at a cost of Rs.5,998.67 lakh during the last fiscal, 56 works to the tune of Rs.2,647 lakh were completed before March 31, this year.

The remaining 106 works would be completed before February 2007.

Mr. Saminathan said that the Government had upgraded Tuticorin-Tiruchendur Road, as a State Highway.

Till now, the road was classified as a Major District Road (MDR).

He said that the remaining widening works on Tuticorin-Tiruchendur highway on a stretch of two km, would be completed soon.

To bring down fatal accidents, speed breakers would be put up on highways.

The Collector, R. Palaniyandi, and senior officials from the State Highways Department attended the meeting.

Source: The Hindu

Enquire allegations against VAOs, Bench orders Collector

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the Tuticorin District Collector to enquire into the allegation that the village administrative officers of Pandavarmangalam, Kilavipatti and Manthaithoppu villages were illegally quarrying red sand from the hills situated in their locality.

Passing interim orders on a public interest litigation filed by one of the villagers, the First Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice K. Venkataraman directed the Collector to submit a report within two weeks.

Earlier, during arguments, the Special Government Pleader said that no such quarrying took place. But the petitioner's counsel produced a few photographs to prove his claim.According to the petitioner, M. Santhanapandi of Pandavarmangalam, the VAOs, in collision with a few private parties, were permitting quarrying of red sand without any permission from the Government. Though he brought the illegality to the notice of the Collector and officials, they did not initiate any action.

Source: The Hindu

Employment of child workers to be banned in Tuticorin

The district administration will prohibit employment of children below 14 years of age from October 10 as domestic workers or servants and in hospitality sector such as dhabas (roadside eateries), resorts, spas and other recreational centres.

M. Nallaperumal, Project Director, National Child Labour Project (NCLP), said the ban was necessitated since the children in these occupations were forced to work for long hours without proper sleep.

Moreover, they were not given proper toilet facilities and were forced to undertake various activities, which are hazardous in nature.

While got employed, the children will have to stay far away from the parental care and were at the mercy of the employers.

"Under such conditions, the health and psyche of the children would be affected and hence the decision," Mr. Nallaperumal said.

At times, the children were even subjected to physical and sexual abuse, which mostly went unreported since it had taken place within the confines of a household or dhaba.

The Project Director said the ban on employment of children as domestic workers and in the hospitality sector would be an important step towards the elimination of child labour in the district before the end of 2007.

He said an action plan would be prepared by the administration in association with the civil society to impose the ban effectively in the district.

Source: The Hindu