Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lalu Prasad announces `Garib Rath' to Kerala

`Garib Rath,' a fully air-conditioned train which will make journey between Thiruvananthapuram and New Delhi possible for Rs.600, will start service within two months, Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has said.

He said this after commissioning of the electrification of the Ernakulam-Thiruvananthapuram line and laying the foundation stone for the Kochuveli second terminal in the city on Saturday. He also laid the foundation stone for the modernisation of the Thiruvananthapuram Central station.

The Minister said `Garib Rath'-type services would be launched from all State capitals to New Delhi. The fare would range between Rs.550 and Rs.600 and it would take two months to get sufficient number of coaches, he said.

Sanction would be accorded for electrification of Thiruvananthapuram-

Kanyakumari and Thrissur-Guruvayur lines. The central station would be developed with world-class facilities. Accent was being given on developing passenger amenities. Scarcity of land was the main reason for the delay in executing new projects in the State. He asked Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Minister in charge of Railways M. Vijayakumar to sort out all developmental issues with senior railway officials.

In a bid to secure fair price to farmers, the railways would provide container services and also facilities to sell their produce. This would help to generate more jobs. He reiterated that the railways would not be privatised.

Union Minister of State for Railways R. Velu allayed fears over the bifurcation of the Palakkad division. This would help increase the efficiency and make the division a compact unit. The offices in the Palakkad division would not be closed. Mr. Vijayakumar said the Government would submit pre-budget and long-term proposals for railway development to the Minister.

Mr. Achuthanandan urged Mr. Prasad to accord sanction for setting up a coach repairing factory at Nemom, suburban services in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode and new services to Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore among other things. Kerala was yet to figure significantly in the railway map, he said.

Southern Railway general manager Thomas Varghese welcomed. R. Mohan Doss, general manager, CORE; Ramesh Chandra, member, electrical, Railway Board; district panchayat president Anavoor Nagappan; V. Sivankutty, MLA; Varkala Radhakrishnan, Thennala Balakrishna Pillai, Panniyan Ravindran and Varkala Radhakrishnan, all MPs; and Mayor C. Jayan Babu offered felicitations. Thiruvananthapuram divisional manager S. Vijayakumaran proposed a vote of thanks.

BSNL aiming at wider broadband connectivity: CMD

Aiming to widen its broadband map, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited will be adding five million Port capacity to its existing network of one million with plans to extend the service from 600 cities to more than 1,000.

Apart from the broadband connectivity, the BSNL would also provide two crore mobile connections each in the next three years, BSNL chairman and managing director a K Sinha, who was here, told a press conference.

Sinha said of the five million broadband connections, 1.84 million would be provided in rural areas.

Pointing out the BSNL wanted to make broadband services more affordable, he said the downloading limits under home 250 and business 700 plans would be enhanced to one GB and four GB from 400 MB and two GB respectively from next year.

This would mean that a plan 250 customer would get a benefit of Rs 840 per month and the business 700 plan customer would benefit up to Rs 2,400 a month.

The broadband speed would be increased from 256 KBPS (Kilobits Per Second) to up to two MBPS (Megabits Per Second) at the existing tariff of Rs 250 per month, from next year, thus upgrading all its 8.2 lakh broadband users.

In addition, the free download limit will be enhanced from 0.4 gigabyte to 1 gigabyte and the rates for further downloads have been decreased from Rs 1.40 per megabyte to 90 paise.

Sinha said all the grama panchayats would have broadband coverage by 2008.

All secondary and higher secondary schools and public health centres would come under broadband coverage by the end of next year.

He also said the BSNL was in the process of launching broadband access through Wimx technology in about 1,000 block headquarters.

Apart from this, Sinha said the BSNL would start online gaming services over broadband very soon besides launching location based services in GSM segment.

In an attempt to connect the whole of India, digital satellite network would be made use of in villages where even wireless connectivity could not reach. About 14,000 villages would come under this plan.

Meanwhile the Kerala telecom circle on Saturday introduced Personalised Ring Back Tone (PRBT) facility for post-paid customers of the state on Saturday.

The Kerala circle also introduced missed call alert service by which a customer could get the information about incoming calls whenever the mobile is switched off.

Chief general manager of Kerala circle, S A Thomas, who would be retiring on Sunday from service, was also present.

Saddam village in Kerala in mourning

Saddam Hussein is dead and gone forever. But for the people of a village, now known as Saddam Beach in Kerala, the deposed Iraqi leader has always been revered as a hero.

The people of "Saddam Beach" village near Malappuram staged a protest and shouted anti-US slogans to condemn the execution of Saddam.

"The news came as a shock for the fishing hamlet of about 500 families, though it has been in the air since yesterday evening. The protests that followed were spontaneous," a resident of the village, Kadavath Saidalvi, was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.

The village, originally known as Puthan Kadappuram, came to be called Saddam Beach after some youths put up a signboard bearing their hero's name at a ramshackle bus shelter in the area in 1992, shortly after the Kuwait War.

Overcoming their initial shock, people came out of their homes, put up black flags on the beach and voluntarily lined up to take out a march.

Some of those who had put out to sea quite early in the morning returned to shore when they learnt that Saddam had been sent to the gallows.

The Iraqi leader was regarded as an icon in the hamlet and there are at least 60 boys named Saddam in the area, a local journalist Ahammadunni was quoted by PTI as saing.

Even today, the villagers here don't buy or use American products. Coca-Cola, Pepsi and chocolates are all a strict no no for them.

All this has made the beach village so popular that even the government documents recognise the name now.

Keltron joins hands with SAP India

The Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation (Keltron) has signed an agreement with SAP India to address the automation needs of PSUs as well as put the e-governance initiative of the state government in top gear, reports Business Line.

The agreement outlines plans for co-operation on various enterprise applications including ERP, human resources, finance, portal and collaboration applications.

According to Mr Alan Sedghi, president and CEO, SAP, Indian sub-continent, public sector institutions are leveraging IT more than ever to quickly adapt to and support the challenges of shrinking budgets and increasing expectations for better service delivery and transparency.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kerala seeks to improve public hygiene

The Kerala government has adopted a new step to improve public hygiene.

It has issued an order following another High Court directive asking people to refrain from spitting or blowing their nose in public.

Moreover, the order says that one can't even sneeze or cough in public without covering one's face. Strangely, it needed a government order to make people understand this.

In fact, people still continue to smoke at public places like bus-stops in Thiruvananthapuram, openly violating a ban imposed on smoking in public places by the Kerala High Court in 1999.

The government order also has its opponents - among them is 67-year-old watchman Karunakaran.

"Suppose a 70-80 year old man develops coughing and he has to spit. Where will he go? You can't walk with the phlegm in the mouth. It is not practical," said Karunakaran, Watchman.

However, there are also those who support the order.

"Sometimes one feels that certain court orders are out of touch with reality. But this is necessary. In public places such behaviour is unacceptable," said Paloli Mohammed Kutty, Local Self-Government Minister.

The rationale is that public hygiene is as important as personal hygiene.

To implement the order, the government will provide spittoons in all public places, install boards and banners asking people to desist from such behaviour, place advertisements in the media and start sensitizing schoolchildren.

"We should start with children. That will also help in making the parents conscious of civic sense," said Paloli Mohammed Kutty, Local-Self Government Minister.

While the government is fully aware of the practical difficulties involved in implementing such a decision, it is at least attempt to impart some kind of basic civic sense to the man on the street.

Kerala woman represents India at SAARC IT workshop

A woman from Kerala working in the Karnataka telecom department is representing India at a three-day IT workshop organised by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad.

Geetha Paul, comptroller of communication accounts, Department of Telecom Karnataka Circle, left for Islamabad on Monday to represent India at the international workshop on 'Access to Information and Intellectual Property Rights Issues' that began Tuesday.

The workshop is organised by SAARC Documentation Centre. A 1980 batch civil servant, Paul hails from Kerala's Kottayam district.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Security tightened in Kerala in view of President's visit

Security has been tightened in Kerala in view of the two-day visit of President A P J Abdul Kalam from December 19, with about 7,000 police personnel being deployed for security.

A high-level meeting of top police officials chaired by DGP Ramon Sreevastava was held here today and discussed the security arrangements during Kalam's visit.

In Kochi, where Kalam will attend two functions, at least 1,500 police personnel have been deployed, DIG Revada Chandrasekhar told PTI.

The President is scheduled to attend various functions at Thrissur, Chalakkudi and Kollam before he leaves for Delhi on December 20.

The Coast Guard and police patrol boats will be keeping the coastal structures near Kochi under surveillance.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

“Fireworks Wednesday” lights up Kerala

The Iranian family drama “Fireworks Wednesday” (2006) won the Best Film Award of the 11th International Film Festival of Kerala at the closing ceremony of the Indian gala on Friday evening.

Also known as “Chaharshanbeh-Suri”, the movie is about a family in which the wife doubts her husband’s loyalty. Everything seems to indicate that the wife suffers from melancholia, but things turn out differently.

Starring Iranian superstar Hedyeh Tehrani along with Hamid Farrokhnejad and Taraneh Alidusti, "Chaharshanbeh-Suri" was awarded Crystal Simorghs for best director, best editing, and best actress at the 24th Fajr International Film Festival. The film also won the audience favorite award at the festival, which was held in Tehran in late January.

In addition, the movie won the Best Film Gold Hugo of the 42nd Chicago International Film Festival and the Junior Jury 3rd Prize of the 59th Locarno International Film Festival.

“Full or Empty”, “The Gaze”, “Cease-Fire”, “It’s Winter”, “Offside”, “Scream of the Ants”, and “From Afar” were the other Iranian films that competed in the Kerala festival.

Several Iranian films by prominent filmmakers such as Abbas Kiarostami, Bahman Farmanara, Sohrab Shahid-Sales, Dariush Mehrjuii, and Amir Naderi were also screened in the festival’s Early Iranian Cinema section.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kerala, Red Hat ready for free software tango

Linux and open source software provider Red Hat appears to have found a strong ally in Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan in promoting the free software concept. A three-member team from the open source major met the CM here on Wednesday and has got the CM’s nod to work together with the state government in the coming days.

Kerala IT Mission director K.R. Jyothilal told ET that it was likely that Red Hat would set up a state centre, either at the Technopark here or in Kochi, though a final word on the matter is awaited.

The three-man Red Hat team was led by Nandu Pradhan, president and managing director of Red Hat India, and included Bhaskar Varma and Venkatesh Hariharan.

Mr Achuthanandan has been an avid supporter of open source software and the state government has a game plan to have free software usage across the board for school education in the state.

Mr Jyothilal said Red Hat and the state IT Mission officials had discussed possibilities like faculty training, introduction of low-cost PC with Linux and Red Hat certification programmes in the state. Red Hat’s global training program operates in about 60 centres worldwide, featuring RHCE, the global standard Linux certification.

According to estimates there are about 15 lakh students in the 2,600-odd government and government-aided high schools in the state, who will have the option to make use of open source software for computer education.

Free software is presently used in computer teaching in Classes 8 and 9 and there are plans to extend it to Class 10 next year. Recently, when free software guru Richard Stallman visited the state, he had expressed happiness that Kerala had seriously embraced free software

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

NHRC notice to Kerala

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent notices to the Kerala Government, following a news report that five HIV-positive children were thrown out of school in Kottayam.

Taking suo motu cognisance of the report, the Commission said it raised a serious issue of violation of human rights. The news item said theaction against the children, in the age group 4-10, was taken after parents of other pupils threatened to pull out their wards because of the stigma attached to HIV.

The Commission asked the Secretaries of Health and General Education to look into the matter and send a factual report in two weeks.

All-Kerala Carnatic Music Contest

The All-Kerala Carnatic Music Contest, conducted by Sree Poornathrayeesa Sangeetha Sabha for Augustine Joseph Memorial Award and other endowment awards, will be held on January 7 at Kalikkotta Palace.

The contest will be conducted in two sessions - Junior (below 14 years) and Senior (between 14 and 20 years). Separate competitions will be held for boys and girls. The school or college which bags the maximum number of points will be awarded the Augustine Joseph Memorial Ever-Rolling Trophy.

The contestant who scores the highest marks will be awarded special prizes instituted by celebrated singer K J Yesudas in the name of Augustine Joseph. The winners will also get cash awards. Those who had bagged the awards in the previous years are not eligible for contesting in the competitions.

Interested candidates should submit their filled in application forms on white paper, together with the certificate showing their age, from the respective colleges and schools.

The address is: Secretary, Sree Poornathrayeesa Sangeetha Sabha, C/o Karakulathu House, Vaikom Road, Tripunithura-682301, before December 21.

Kerala film industry for ban on Riyan studio

The Kerala film industry has decided to boycott Riyan studio in Kochi, which is being probed for video piracy.

Honchos of various organisations, including Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (Amma), Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (Macta) and Kerala Film Chamber, said the boycott would remain in force until the studio was out of the clouds.

Superstar Mamootty said the meeting had decided to stage protest rallies from one end of the state to the other immediately to focus on the threat posed by video piracy, undermining the very survival of the film industry. One of the drawbacks in the fight against audio-video piracy was the absence of stringent provisions to incriminate racketeers. All activities associated with piracy should be brought under the purview of the proposed Goonda Act, said Mamootty.

The meeting lauded Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan for his bold stand, especially his taking up cudgels on behalf of Inspector General Rishiraj Singh, the anti-piracy nodal officer, who was prevented from raiding Riyan Studio, owned by Anita Thachankary, wife of IG Tomin Thachankary. Although it was a rare show of unity by the industry at the meeting in Kochi, there were a few discordant voices, wondering whether the meeting had decided on the boycott.

Film Chamber leader Seyad Kokker clarified that there was no ambiguity in the decision to boycott Riyan Studio. He demanded that Tomin Thachankary be relieved of his duties during the course of the investigation.

Anita Thachankary approached Kerala High Court to intervene and prevent the police from harassing her and her staff and allow her to complete the studio’s contractual obligations with its clients.

The court ordered notice to Rishiraj Singh and the Kochi police chief to submit their response to allegations leveled by the petitioner.

Meanwhile, even the high-tech cell of the State police has drawn a blank in its efforts to find anything incriminating at the studio. Studio gadgets were too sophisticated, leaving the high-tech team clueless on what precisely transpired at the studio. Rishiraj Singh had anticipated this and arranged for experts from Mumbai before launching the raid. But the state police chief, Raman Srivastava, shunted out Rishiraj Singh in the midst of the raid on Thursday evening, throwing a spanner into the works. By the time the Chief Minister intervened and the police resumed raids all over the state, the team lost precious time, lending the studio authorities a privileged interval to whatever it wanted.

However, the heat is on the studio. Achuthanandan said the other day in Palakkad: Let no one think that such deliberate roadblocks would dissuade me from my commitment to ensure a free and fair administration.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kerala’s eating sensation takes his last bow

Kerala’s eating sensation K P Rappai died of obesity-related ailments at a private hospital in the central Thrissur district of Kerala yesterday morning. He was 67. A victim of hypothalamus dysfunction that triggers an insatiate urge for food, the 140kg Rappai, clad in white dhoti and slack kakhi shirt, ambling along roads with a sachet of errand items, was a mobile landmark of Thrissur. Archbishop Mar Jacob Thoonkuzhy offered funeral prayers at the residence of Rappai before a large procession of mourners accompanied the body to the local Lourde’s Church for burial.

Rappai, a bachelor, had been living with his mother, Thandamma, at a small house in Thrissur. He was admitted to hospital about a week back and was shifted to the ICU after his diabetes and blood pressure shot up.

Rappai was hospitalised in July when the doctors warned him that unless he cut down on the food, he would encounter serious health problems. At hospital, his intake had come down from one hundred idlis to a just dozen, from two buckets full of rice to a plateful.

For the past six months, he has been on a normal diet, though frugal by his standards.

Kizhakkumpattukara Painadanveettil Rappai’s first and unbeaten record was 700 idlis at an eating contest in Kasargod in 1997. His exploits on the table are unending. He once inaugurated a bakery at Kochi eating five kilos of ‘halwa’ and 50 idlis besides drinking enormous amount of water.

He had also lunched a club at Palakkad eating 50 baked bananas and 50 laddus. On both the occasions, he was given Rs10,000 in cash as prize.

In December 2001, at Chalakudy in Thrissur, he ate a bunch of bananas, drank 35 glasses of Horlicks and earned Rs15,000 in cash inaugurating a restaurant. With the small sums he got as rewards, he married off three sisters and set off debts. But smalltime hoteliers in Thrissur lived in mortal fear of the monster eater. His debut was at a hotel in Thrissur, some 40 years back, when he took a full meal coupon and downed three basins of rice, three buckets of meat, and one bucket of fish curry. He went on indulging his appetite that the hotel owner had to call in the police.

If the hoteliers suffered from Rappai-phobia, there were many who would sponsor all-you-can-eat buffet contests mainly for the thrill of seeing Rappai in action. He had his friends in the police.

His trademark slack kakhi shirts were used ones gifted to him by police officers.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Heavy turnout in Kerala by-election

More than 80% voters turned up to vote in the Thiruvambady assembly by-election which is considered the first litmus test for the six-month-old Left Democratic Front government in Kerala.

The main rivals, LDF’s George M Thomas and the United Democratic Front’s V M Ummer Master exuded confidence.

The polling was peaceful. Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy also expressed satisfaction over the conduct of "free and fair election". Digital cameras installed in all booths recorded the proceedings.

The polling was held under heavy security, with the deployment of five companies of the Central Reserve Police Force, four battalions of the Armed Reserve Police and one battalion of the Malabar Special Police. The counting will begin at 8am on Thursday.

The LDF had won the seat in May for the second time since the constituency was formed in 1977. The election was necessitated after the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Mathai Chacko died in October.

Also in the fray are Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gireesh Thevally and three independents. The stakes are high for both the LDF led by the CPM and the Congress-led UDF.

Tamil Nadu, Kerala fight ad war on Mullaperiyar dam

After the Centre-mediated talks between the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala on the Mullaperiyar dam issue went amiss, the states have now taken the row to the public forum through newspaper advertisements.

The two states have been fighting over the water level in Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala’s Idukki district, but administered by Tamil Nadu, following an agreement between Madras Presidency and the Travancore state in 1886.

Tamil Nadu, which gets the diverted Mullaperiyar waters to irrigate its southern districts, wants to increase the storage level to 142 feet, while Kerala says it would damage the dam, putting at risk 35 lakh people living downstream.

Even as the Supreme Court has asked the two states to settle the dispute through talks, Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi initiated the new campaign on Saturday, releasing half-page advertisements in English, Tamil and Malayalam newspapers in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

With excerpts from his speech at the chief ministers’ meet in Delhi, the copy strikes a cordial note, extolling the camaraderie the people of the two states have historically shared. But it maintains that Tamil Nadu will not go back on its demand to raise the water level.

He also questioned Kerala’s concern over the safety of the dam. “The dam has been designed to withstand the effect of earthquakes anticipated… we are not doing any justice by thrusting an opinion in the minds of the public that the dam may burst if water level is raised to 142 ft. No gravity dam has ever burst…,” the message beneath the picture of a beaming Karunanidhi read.

Kerala chief minister V S Achudanandan retorted the very next day with similar advertisements arguing the safety points. “We wish to convey the grave threat that is being faced by the 35-lakh people in Kerala… This 111-year-old lime and surkhi is unsafe for the people living downstream,” the advertisement read.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Houseboats, backwaters becoming 'USP' of Kerala's tourism industry

Kerala's houseboats, lakes and backwaters are once again posing to be the ultimate brand ambassadors of the state's tourism industry by generating huge foreign exchange and employment.

The popularity of houseboats has returned as major tourist attractions in the state. Many find these beautiful flotels as an ideal means of exploring the beauty of the Kerala backwaters.

The number of houseboats in the Alleppey and Kottayam backwaters has increased drastically. In Alleppey alone it has increased from just 150 odd one to more than 350 in two to three years.

Houseboats or Kettu-vallams, which were once used in Kerala waterways for transporting goods from once place to another famous as rice boats, have now changed as the most wanted tourist attraction not only for domestic tourists but also for the foreigners who never miss a chance to take a 24-hour timeout in the backwaters of Kerala.

With these years tourist season remaining there from November till March, the houseboat operators and travel agents are well prepared and are looking forward for a good volume of tourists from various countries to book their houseboats and hope it will be much more than the last year.

Kerala tourism is aiming at a 20 percent increase in foreign tourist arrivals this season, while in the domestic tourists, an increase by five percent are expected this season.

Tourism that has emerged as a major sector in the State provides employment to over one million people in Kerala, which is the fastest growing tourist destination in the world. The World Travel and Tourism Council has predicted 11.6 pc growth rate for Kerala's tourism sector by 2013.

The tourism sector here hopes to get Rs. 100000 million revenue while investments to the tune of Rs. 10000 million are also expected in this sector.

The Kerala Government recently put forward a multi-crore project to utilize the inland waterways for cargo and tourism purpose. The project to be completed in four years, which according to the officials, will ease the road traffic for a large extent and can reduce the level of pollution and also will be an economical mode of transportation for the state.

Officially, the inland waterways in Kerala stretch to a length of 1,687 km, corresponding to 11.6 percentage of a total of 14,544 km in the country. The major stretch is the West Coast Canal connecting Hosdurg in the north and Poovar, near Thrivananthapuram in the south, which has a length of 560 km.

Presently, this sector directly employs between 1.5 lakh and 2 lakh people in the operation and maintenance of boats, and for each person directly employed, at least two others are indirectly employed in allied activities such as boat building, servicing of boats, tourism and so on.

The operators of private boats, including houseboats, generated 17 lakh man-days in the last year, according to a recent study. Another 1.5 lakh man-days of employment were generated last year by boat manufacturers, with 311 man-days of employment per lakh of rupees invested.

However, despite these seemingly healthy figures, all is not well with the Inland waterways sector. The full potential for movement of people and goods has not been utilised.

The absence of navigational aids, and the lack of modern Inland craft terminals and cargo handling facilities are some of the infrastructural constraints.

Several blockages continue to exist, including the lack of depth, the absence of any maintenance of navigation system, poor protection for the banks, the use of outdated crafts and engines, which creates environment threats like water and air pollution.

Recently, to promote houseboat tourism, the local tourism department has come out with plans to implement single window clearance to the boat operators as earlier they had to wander three different government departments to get the canal, transportation and pollution clearance. It will also be taking stringent actions against the workers and operators who carry out any malpractices in this industry, said the Secretary S. Vinu Kumar of DTPC, Alleppey.

Proper dress to workers in the houseboats, number plates like road vehicles to identify them from far places to avoid accidents, proper licensing system and pollution control methods will be in action from this month, added the DTPC Secretary Kerala, with its 44 rivers, ranging in length from 15 kms to 245 kms, flow across this small stretch. With two monsoons, rainy water pours down every year, replenishing the rivers and watering the entire flora. These factors have created Kerala as the 'God's own garden country' and one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Now e-learning campaign in Kerala prison

After achieving success in several rural hamlets in Kerala, the Akshaya e-learning initiative would now be introduced to inmates of a prison here.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan would inaugurate the e-literacy campaign for prison inmates at the Kannur Central Prison premises Sunday, a statement said. The prison has around 1,350 inmates.

The project is currently operational in eight districts of the state. It was launched in the state in 2002.

The Akshaya centres provide IT training to one member in every household at a cost of Rs.120, of which the student has to put in Rs.40 and the village council chips in the rest. Each person is given a 15-hour lesson in computer basics.

For the prison project, five computers and ancillary equipment have been set up.

New areas for gold mining spotted in Kerala

The Bangalore-based Deccan Gold Mines (DGM) has identified new areas for gold mining in Kerala.

DGM has been engaged in exploration activities in the tribal heartland of Attapadi in Palakkad district during the past year, said V.N. Vasudev, the chief geologist at DGM.

'After obtaining the license, we took forward the exploration work that was initially done by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in Attapadi. We have found new areas of potential zones of gold occurrence,' Vasudev told IANS.

The company proposes to take up reconnaissance drilling to locate the primary sources of gold zones. 'Our geologists are on the job,' said Vasudev.

DGM is also involved in gold exploration activities in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.

According to GSI, Kerala's gold reserves, first identified in 1962, are centered in and near Nilambur forests in Malappuram district and at Attapadi in Palakkad district.

Studies have revealed that Kerala's gold content is 13.88 grams per tonne of ore. This is happy news for the cash-strapped Kerala government.