Friday, December 19, 2008

Record pilgrims, collection at Sabarimala temple

Earnings at the famed Sabarimala temple have crossed Rs.51 crore (Rs.510 million) at the end of the first month of this pilgrimage season. Devasom Minister G. Sudhakaran told that the main reason for the record earnings is the rise in number of pilgrims this year.

'Another reason is that the production of the temple prasadam -- aravana and appom (holy offering) -- have been streamlined and this time, the entire collection is managed by the Dhanalaksmi bank officials directly, who are entrusted with the counting and accounting process,' he said.

In previous years, it was the officials of the Travancore Devasom Board who counted the money and there were allegations that some used to swallow up to four Rs.1,000 denomination notes.

'This time, nothing of that sort happens because we have used technology and it is the bank officials who do this job,' the minister said.

Sabarimala temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, 914 metres above sea level, four km uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district of the state. One of the most famous Hindu pilgrim centres in India, it bars women who have attained puberty but have not reached menopause from entering it.

Even though the temple is now open throughout the year, the peak pilgrimage season begins on the first day of the Malayalam era month in November (Nov 17 this year) and closes on the first day of the Malayalam era month in January.

'We are happy that our work to make things transparent has earned its rewards. This is reflected in the earnings. During our first year (2006-07), the total collection was Rs.80 crore (Rs.800 million), last season it touched Rs.83 crore (Rs.830 million) and this time, we are confident it would cross Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion),' said Sudhakaran.

He added that on account of proper production facilities of the temple prasadam in the total collections, they expect its sales would come close to Rs.40 crore (Rs.400 million).

' Last season (November to January), close to four crore (40 million) pilgrims arrived and this time the number would cross 4.50 crore (45 million),' the minister added.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bus fares to be cut if diesel price lowered: Minist

Transport minister Mathew T Thomas said that if diesel prices are lowered by 14 %, the government will think of cutting bus fares too. He was speaking at the question hour session in assembly here on Thursday.

He also said that the monthly revenue from KSRTC has been raised to Rs 90 crore. He said that shopping markets would be set in 59 KSRTC bus stations.

While restructuring low profit bus roots, steps will be taken to hold discussion with people representatives. He aid that an amendment in Motor Vehicle Act is under the consideration of the government to regulate speed and illegal driving, he said.

CM and Opposition Leader to meet PM today

Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and opposition leader Oommen Chandy will together meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Thursdayand demand his intervention for setting up of a bench of the high court here.

They will also hold discussion on subjects related to the proceedings in the Metro Rail, Kochi. CM will also register the state's disagreement to the directives put forward by Central Planning Commission relating to Kochi Metro Rail.

The meeting with Singh is scheduled for 4 p.m.Successive state governments have been demanding a bench of the high court to be set up in the capital.The Kerala legislature has unanimously passed two resolutions in this regard.There was a high court in Thiruvananthapuram in 1947. It became a high court bench following the establishment of Kerala high court in Kochi after the formation of the state in 1956. But in 1957 it was wound up.

Achuthanandan and Chandy have on more than one occasion met Singh with this demand. To set up the bench, the central cabinet has to clear the proposal and send it to the president for approval. Prior to that, the Kerala governor and the chief justice of the Kerala High Court have to send their approval.

While the Kerala governor has sent his nod, a group of advocates after applying through the Right to Information Act have found out that the Kerala High Court has sent a negative reply for a bench.

Harthal begins at Shornur

The12 hour harthal called by CPM, who lost power in Shornur municipality in the by-poll, began here on Thursday. No violence and causalities were reported.

CPM called for a harthal alleging that the activists of Democratic Development Samithi (DDS) which won majority of the seats, pelted stones at local committee office. Stones were also pelted against the procession led by DDS leader M R Murali.

Abhaya case: HC rejects CBI's plea

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday rejected the application filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking transfer of the hearing of the bail applications of the three accused in the Sr Abhaya murder case.

CBI, which is investigating the case, submitted that the conduct of Justice K Hema, who was hearing the bail petitions, was ''quite unusual, which will affect the entire investigation.'' It requested the Chief Justice to post the case to another judge. The Court also asked CBI to furnish more evidences on the case.

Sr Abhaya was found dead in the well of the Pius Xth convent at Kottayam on March 27, 1992.

Shornur bypoll :CPM loses power

For the first time in history, the CPM lost power in Shornur municipality. In the byelections to nine wards in the Municipality, the Democratic Development Samithi (DDS) led by former Municipality vice-chairman M R Murali won eight wards and CPM bagged only one seat.

M R Murali was expelled from the CPM for anti-party activities and corruption charges. Murali, along with eight councillors, resigned and formed the DDS. He also won from the 26th ward with a majority of 323 votes. With that in the 30-member municipality the CPM has 14 seats, Congress-7, DDS-8 and BJP –1.

In the first ward, DDS candidate K Leela emerged victorious with a majority of 163 votes beating Unnikrishnan of the CPM. In the third ward B Vimala and in the fourth P Satheesan Master of DDS bagged victory.

DDS candidate P Govindan Kutty and K Sarala won the eighth and ninth ward. Though in the ninth ward CPM candidate's victory was announced first a recounting put Sarala the winner.

After being expelled from the CPM, Murali resigned from the post of municipal chairman and a bypoll was held. In the byelection Congress candidates did not contest in the election.

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