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Highflyers in south
rate city airport low
No Early Morning Arrivals From Bangalore, Hyderabad

2008-09 2009-10

11.30am, 12.15pm, 1.10pm, 2.10pm, Bangalore 3.30pm, 3.55pm, 7pm, 8pm 11.50am, 1.30pm, Hyderabad 5.05pm, 6.05pm, 7.20pm

No solution yet to end nurses strike

Domestic Passengers International Passengers Domestic Aircraft International Aircraft

13,52,687 20,10,114 22,125 19,047

17,13,757 22,32,346 23,476 18,068

George Adimathra | TNN

andeep Lengade, a Bangalore-based entrepreneur, cannot forget last New Year eve. And he cannot forgive Kochi’s air connectivity for that. Lengade’s company Maverick Turf Corporation got a last minute call from the organisers of the 35th National Games to participate in a bid on December 31 morning for laying a synthetic track. Lengade found the first flight from Bangalore


would reach Kochi only at 11.30am. With another one-anda-half hour drive from Nedumbassery, there was no way he could reach Kochi before 1pm. He lost it. “It was the biggest blow in my career,” says Lengade. “I will remain wary of doing business in Kochi as long as the present schedule of flights continues. Businessmen, executives and officials who constitute a large number of air passengers to Kochi from Bangalore and Hyderabad find the flight timings unfriendly The schedules don’t al. low them to attend morning meetings, and often force them to stay overnight—something that irritates people who prefer to do business through the day and get back to their cities by night. Airlines say there are financial constraints to expanding fleets, but a cursory look at the flight timings show the prob-

Aji Chellam

Kochi: The strike by nurses in two hospitals in the district will continue as the mediatory talks failed once again to put an end to the issue that has been going on for over a week. With the managements and the nurses unions unrelenting, the hospitals are set to witness tumultuous moments in the coming days. With the talks with the labour department officials failing to find a solution, the management of Lakeshore Hospital has asked the department to suggest two or three payment packages. The director board of the hospital will discuss these packages and find a suitable one in consensus with other private hospitals, said Dr Philip Augustine, managing director of Lakeshore. The management is sticking to its decision that a revised payment package would be announced only after the strikers called off the agitation. They also called the emergency board meeting scheduled for February 9 say-

ing that the union was not responding positively to its initiative to end the problem. “We have given all statutory benefits, and are ready to do more. But the union is not accepting this goodwill gesture, and is only maligning our reputation. So we are waiting for the suggestions from the labour department and will arrive at a package,” says Dr Philip Augustine. With the recruitment of 125 new nurses, the hospital conducted 11 surgeries on Monday and has scheduled a major one for the coming days. Meanwhile, the striking nurses performed a ‘sayanapradakshinam’ around the hospital to register their protest. The labour department officials held talks with the representatives of the Kolenchery Medical College Hospital management and nurses union on Monday, but nothing concrete came out of it. The next meeting will be held on February 9. See special report on P6

lem is more because of clustering of arrivals than shortage of aircraft.For instance, the first flight from Bangalore reaches Kochi at 11.30am. In the next four hours, five flights from Bangalore arrive, followed by one each at 7pm and 8pm. There are fewer flights from Hyderabad. The first one touches down at Kochi at 11.50am and the next one at 1.30pm, followed by two more in the evening. There is no direct flight to Kochi from Coimbatore, another business centre in the south. Congestion cannot be a reason for not having flights at the right time since the Kochi air por t has just about 60 flight movements a day, compared to the more than 400 movements at airports in the southern metros. “Airlines have not woken up to passenger demands,” says S Sanjay a manager with Bharat , Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) who shuttles between

DELAYED For business visitors, a one-day schedule in Kochi is a difficult proposition

Kochi and Hyderabad on work. Most of his trips that can be wrapped up in a day extend to a second day just because there are no flights at the right time. Airport officials and airlines say flights from Bangalore and Hyderabad are not high on the airport’s priority list because of the low patronage. Cochin International Airport Limited director A C K Nair said initially it was very difficult to get passengers from these cities, but domestic traffic grew by 15% last financial year. “With the increasing traffic, we are trying to convince airlines to add more services,” he says. While Jet Airways spokeswoman Ragini Chopra feels the airline is meeting its customer demands, Kingfisher Airlines spokesman Prakash Mirpuri says the airline had to withdraw an earlier morning flight because of shortage of aircraft. Kochi is growing, says Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industries president P N a r aya n , a n d a i rl i n e s should rework schedules so that the city can attract more investments.

Sandeep Lengade | BUSINESSMAN

Unlit boat jetty turns into a crime spot

A C K Nair |

Kochi: The unlit areas of the Ernakulam boat jetty have become a haven for eve-teasers and pick-pockets, making it an unsafe place for tourists and commuters. The streetlights have been out of service since 2008. A single flood lamp, fixed by the KSRTC, is the only arrangement that helps the commuters. Jannani Iyer (28) from Bangalore shared her bitter experience near the jetty . “I was coming back from the islands on a Sunday. I felt that two guys were following me. They started tugging at my bag. I broke into a run,” said Jannani, who was in Kochi two weeks ago. Rashid Yusop from Indonesia in the city claims that his wallet was stolen while waiting for the boat to Fort

Kochi. The KSRTC bus depot and the current Ernakulam boat jetty complex sits on an area of 50 odd cents. The tourism department, which oversees the facilities of Ernakulam boat jetty tells that its , hands are tied. “We cannot do anything about it for the department doesn’t own the land. The department even got funds for a new transformer but will not be able to make any change until the revenue department gives us our title deed,” said an official at the tourism department. Central sub-inspector A Ananthalal said that it has come to the notice of the police department that eveteasers and anti-social elements were creating problems for passengers in the boat jetty . He, however, said that no case has been registered so far.

Stay away from politics, top cop orders state police

Text a ticket an instant hit among state youth
George Adimathra

Santhi Yathra for a new dam begins

Corporation collects `27 lakh on first day of tax collection drive

Kochi: The state police chief has come down heavily against police personnel who have dabbled in political and other organizational activities, thus violating Article 33 of the Indian Constitution which restricts the right to freedom of speech and expression of members of the police force. Director general of police (DGP) Jacob Punnoose has issued a directive proscribing police personnel from associating with any trade union, labour union and political association. The directive specifies that “no member of the police force shall participate or address any meeting or take part in any demonstration organized for any political purpose or for such other purposes as may be prescribed.” “Public must perceive the police to be politically neutral with regard to the activities of political parties. This is essential for maintenance of law and order and for upholding the rule of law,” the directive said. It also imposed a ban on police personnel displaying banners, posters or using a website to address any matter concerning or involving the police department without the permission of the unit head.

Kochi: The Railways (IR) has introduced a paperless mode of ticket vending, by which vital details regarding reservation will be sent to a customer via SMS. The latest option that was launched on February 1, by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Department (IRCTC) has become a hit among young Keralites. The SMS sent by the IRCTC will contain all important ticket details like PNR number, train number, date of journey class, name and num, ber of passengers, coach and seat number and the fare paid. The SMS, combined with a valid photo identity card in original, will be treated on par with the electronic reservation slip (ERS). If the passenger is unable to produce the SMS in case of loss or discharged mobile or laptop, he can continue with the journey after showing proof of identity and paying a penalty of Rs 50 a ticket. A senior IRCTC official of the south regional office told TOI that the SMS facility is a ‘green initiative’ by the Railways. “With our website registering nearly 9 million visitors in 2011, it is unimaginable the amount of

The SMS will contain ticket details like PNR number, train number, date of journey, class, name, number of passengers, seat number and the fare paid. This combined with an original valid photo ID, will be treated on par with the electronic reservation slip
paper wasted as printouts. Through the SMS facility we expect to pave way for an environment friendly approach and reduce paper usage,” the official said. Edwin Thomas, an HR professional in the UAE Exchange in the city is excited , about the new option. “Some months ago when the Railways allowed treating the screenshot of an e-ticket, displayed through laptops, palmtops or mobile phones as equal to the print-out of the ticket, I stopped carrying printed tickets. The new option has taken it a step further and I believe that the definition of ‘e-ticket’ is complete now,” he said. Santhosh Iype, aPGDM student of SCMS, Kochi, believes that the initiative will help reduce the usage of paper while booking e-tickets. However despite the wide recognition of SMS facility among youths, senior citizens like Sankar Menon, a former state government employee, prefer to wait in queue and get printed tickets. “I am also tech savvy but previous experienc, es have taught me that IRCTC’s e-services are not reliable. It is a common phenomenon for the website to hang just when we book tickets. It is too early to say that the SMS option will be hassle-free and so for the time being I prefer the good old paper method,” he said.

Kochi: The Kerala Congress Anti-Merger Group has started an agitation demanding that a new dam be constructed in Mullaperiyar. Santhigiri Mutt joint secretary Gururatna Jnanathapasya flagged off the ‘Santhi Yathra’ to Mullaperiyar from Rajendra Maidan at a function in Kochi. The Kerala Congress faction led by P C Thomas has taken up the issue at a a time when almost all political parties have put the issue in the backburner. All political parties had earlier extended support for the new dam, but most of them withdrew from the agitation citing various reasons. The pro-dam campaign had gathered momentum with the announcement of the Piravom poll and the issue seemed to pose threat to the existence of the UDF led government. But after some verbal duels between leaders of Kerala Congress Mani group and Congress, both of them backed out from supporting the cause. After the Central leadership asked the CPM to stop the agitation, the party also stepped back. The Santhi Yathra which will be passing through Muvattupuzha, Kottayam and Erumely route will conclude at Kumaly on February 18.

Kochi: The second phase of the tax collection drive launched by the Kochi Corporation began on Monday with the local body collecting Rs 27 lakh on the first day Mayor To. ny Chammany launched the drive at the Vennala division which falls under Edappally . The civic body hopes to collect Rs 55 crore through this drive, to achieve the tar-

get of Rs 100 crore as tax for the current financial year. For the purpose, the corporation has decided to set up tax collection centres in 74 divisions, which will be open on holidays and weekends. “The target amount includes dues from property tax, professional tax and rent,” said C A Thajudeen, revenue officer, Kochi Corporation. He added that special squads had been formed to in-

spect buildings within corporation limits to identify tax defaulters. The civic body has identified 159 unauthorized constructions which include hospitals, hotels and commercial establishments. It has also been found that some residential areas have been used to build commercial buildings. The corporation has decided to re-assess these buildings and collect taxes accordingly .

Govt moots new aquaculture policy for state

FRIENDS VIRTUALLY: Actor Mammootty and Susheela George, correspondent, Sherwood International School, Abu Dhabi, exchange pleasantries during the celebrations marking the number of friends of the actor crossing 1,23,456 figure in Kochi on Monday

Kochi: The state government proposes to come up with a state aquaculture policy to enhance cultured fish production in the state. The fisheries department has put forth the proposal for cabinet approval. It has also come up with a government order notifying the setting up of a 11-member expert panel to propose recommendations for an effective policy. The names of international aquaculture expert M N Kutty as the chairman of the panel and the fisheries joint director as the panel convenor has been proposed. The other names have

not been finalized but experts from universities and fishery institutions will be among the members. “A policy is needed to look at ways to enhance fish production in the state, which has a high potential for aquaculture. Yet Kerala’s contribution is less than 2% of the country’s production,” said fisheries minister K Babu. He said there were a lot of pokkali farms (paddy cultivated in water with low salinity) that also had aquaculture and added, “We need to promote inland fisheries culture”. The government is also looking at the resources, fields that can have only one


UNCHARTED WATERS: At present, Kerala’s contribution to aquaculture is less than 2% of the country’s production

crop at a time and also the leasing policy for fish farming. “At present, the land can

be leased for just one year. But no bank lends loan for such a short lease period. So,

the policy will look into such issues,” said Ajayan, joint director, fisheries department, Thiruvananthapuram. He said there were factors of pollution and inland fisheries development that needed to be looked into, and rules formulated accordingly. “We have to look at the zonation of water bodies and Kol wetlands to identify where aqua farming can be done,” said C Mohanakumaran Nair, pro-vice-chancellor, Kerala Fisheries University. On the problems of aquaculture in the state, he said there were several environmental and socio-economic aspects that would need serious discussions.

1,23,456 for Mammootty on FB

Kochi: Superstar Mammootty touched the unique figure of 1,23,456 friends on his Facebook page on Monday To ex. press gratitude to his friends, he will have a screen shot in his upcoming film that reads “Special thanks to my Facebook friends’. Mammootty’s website will soon get a facelift with more prominence being given to Facebook. “The posts on Mammukka’s page are getting huge response. Last day we got 4,000 , likes and 1,000 comments after he posted a remembrance

on Cochin Haneefa. There are many such occasions which testify to the importance of Facebook,” said Abdul Manaf, CEO, Easy Software, designers of Mammootty’s website. “It is the cheapest means to get maximum attention. When Mammookka made an appeal to support poor children who required heart surgery he received Rs one crore , from Susheela George of Sherwood International School, Abu Dhabi the next day Such was the response.” . After the number of Mammootty’s friends touched one lakh mark, there has been an

addition of 1,000 friends each day Manaf said. As the num, ber touched the magical figure of 1,23,456, his fans organized a ceremony on Monday to mark the occasion. It was at 11 am. By evening the number had crossed 1,36,000,” said Robert Kuriakkose, president, Mammootty Fans and Welfare Association. The actor, meanwhile, has decided to join hands with an Abu Dhabi based NGO to facilitate heart surgery for deserving children in under-developed countries in Asia and Africa. His pictures will be used for promotion of the endeavour.