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Kerala

Trawl ban ends, but Kerala fishermen worried

The Indian Meteorological Department has warned fishermen from foraying into the sea for the next four days..reports Asian Lite News

Fishermen and fishing boat owners of Kerala are concerned after the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned fishermen from foraying into the sea for the next four days commencing from July 31.

Incidentally, the 52-day trawling ban which started on June 9 is to end on the midnight of Sunday, and around 3,600 boats including long liners were planning to venture into the seas.

“The IMD failed to issue properly and timely alert during the Ockhi cyclone leading to the loss of lives of several fishermen. After this, the IMD has been issuing frequent weather warnings leading to a blanket ban on fishing activities,” All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association General Secretary, Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal told IANS.

He said that in 2020 fishermen were allowed to fish only on 53 days and in 2021 only 52 fishing days were made available.

Kalappurackal added that fishermen would go to the sea from Sunday night if the Navy, Coast Guard, and the state fisheries department wouldn’t intervene.

He also said that during the initial days after the trawling ban, fishermen are hopeful of a good catch and that rains would have brought nutrients to the sea attracting a large volume of fish.

“Another major problem encountered by the fishermen in the state is the presence of fibre boats of Tamil Nadu on the Kerala coast. Many of these boats were present in the water during the trawler ban period,” Kalappurackal asserted.



Antony Joseph, a fisherman from Vypeen told IANS that he and his team of seven fishermen have made all preparations and were expecting a good catch from Sunday late night onwards but the warning from the IMD has dampened their spirits. “We don’t know how we will make up the 52-day ban period if we are not allowed to venture into the sea at least from Sunday night onwards.”

The IMD has issued a yellow alert for Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram districts.

According to the IMD, these districts will receive heavy to isolated rain in the four-day period.

Meanwhile, Kottayam and Idukki districts are under an orange alert for heavy rain on Monday.

The IMD said Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur districts will receive heavy to very heavy rain on Tuesday.

Although the state witnessed heavy rain this month, there is still a net 26 per cent deficit since the southwest monsoon was weak in June.

Despite the rain deficit, the dams have more than 60 per cent storage and are expected to be full when the southwest monsoon withdraws by September 30.

5 dead in heavy rains

At least five people were killed due to the heavy rain in Kerala.

While two deaths were reported on Sunday, a car while overtaking a bus on Monday, lost control and fell into a overflowing canal in Pathanamthitta district and moved in the waters for over 15 minutes before the fire department officials recovered the vehicle.

While two people were already dead by the time they reached a hospital, a third peron died later.

On Sunday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that heavy rain would lash Kerala for four days and issued a yellow alert for Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram districts.

Following the IMD alert,the district authorities have been given the responsibility to declare holidays for educational institutions in vulnerable areas.

ALSO READ: Kerala’s paddy cultivation dwindles

Categories
India News Kerala

Kerala’s paddy cultivation dwindles

While the landscape change keeps their fields flooded during the monsoon, the surrounding canals carry too little water post-monsoon, making paddy cultivation impossible throughout the year…writes Nisha Matamp

Farmers in Kerala are growing increasingly dependent on irrigation to grow paddy — despite the state receiving an average annual rainfall of 3,610.2 mm in 2021, far higher than the state average of 2,924.7 mm.

“Earlier, when labour wasn’t too expensive, paddy could be harvested twice a year. But by 2008, everyone around us began to level their fields to grow tubers and other perennial trees. We couldn’t because the new law (Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act 2008) prevented us from converting our land. By then, the landscape around us had already changed, and we were unable to grow paddy anymore,” says Pothanmaanayil Joseph, a farmer from Pothy, Kottayam district who now grows grass with his cousins on three acres.

While the landscape change keeps their fields flooded during the monsoon, the surrounding canals carry too little water post-monsoon, making paddy cultivation impossible throughout the year.

“Years later, if government irrigation projects reach our village, we may be able to resume paddy cultivation,” Joseph adds.

Government irrigation projects haven’t reached Elamdesam panchayat in Idukki either. But unlike Joseph, VS Kareem says his fellow paddy farmers irrigate their farm with water from their nearby pond.

“If the November rains falter, we have to look for irrigation sources. In 2019, we incurred losses because we had to hire diesel-run motors to irrigate our fields, which are more expensive than electric motors,” says Kareem, who only cultivates paddy once a year.

Irrigation a necessity due to erratic climate

The sixth assessment report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted an overall rise in demand for irrigation water by 2080, causing a further decline in rain-fed agriculture.

According to 2019-20 Kerala agriculture statistics, 75.69 per cent of the paddy grown in the state was irrigated. This loss in rain-fed paddy cultivation is evident all through the three paddy seasons in Kerala — autumn (April-May to September-October), winter (September-October to December-January) and summer (December-January to March-April).

In 2005-06, the rain-fed paddy cultivated in autumn and winter were 79.8 per cent and 22.5 per cent, respectively, which dropped to 68.7 per cent and 4 per cent. Only summer rain-fed paddy recorded a slight rise from 0.08 per cent in 2005-06 to 0.16 per cent in 2019-20.

Some 120km to the west of Idukki, farmers had requested for irrigation to grow Pokkali rice, a highly rain-dependent paddy crop. The rising salinity in the coasts post-monsoon limits paddy cultivation to just the rainy season, when the downpour lowers the salinity of the land.

“Although we lost around 15 per cent of our rice to post-harvest moisture, we are still happy with this year’s (2021) produce,” says KA Thomas, who suffered losses in 2019 and 2020 due to dry spells. Fearing similar losses in the future, Thomas and his fellow Pokkali farmers of Kadamakudy in Ernakulam district had requested for irrigation.

“Due to erratic rains and frequent dry spells, rain-dependent paddy cultivation is nearly impossible in Kerala. Paddy requires 100 per cent soil moisture. It is difficult to revive paddy if the soil loses even 10 per cent to 20 per cent of its moisture,” says Babu Mathew, a retired irrigation officer.

Can irrigation prevent food insecurity?

Despite Kerala spending Rs 9,645.7 million on irrigation till 1990-91, exclusively to boost its paddy cultivation and attain self-sufficiency in food supply, paddy produce declined steadily. Ironically, despite the annual expenditure on irrigation, several traditionally irrigated paddy farms that relied on natural canals and ponds have either been lying fallow or converted to grow other crops. In 2020-21, current fallow constituted 54,255.40 hectares and fallow other than current fallow accounted for 42,751.70 hectares.

“As much as 70 per cent of the fallow land you see today is forced fallow,” says Mathew.

Irrigation projects were meant to raise paddy production to 2.1 million to 2.7 million tonnes annually, but in 2019-20, Kerala could only produce 500,000 tonnes of rice, while importing the rest from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The IPCC report further estimates a 10 per cent to 30 per cent drop in rice production in India if the global temperature rises between 1 degree Celsius to 4 degree Celsius.

A thesis submitted by Basil Abraham, a research scholar from Kerala Agriculture University, Thrissur, predicts a further rise in irrigation needs through all cropping seasons in the future. The research placed special emphasis on Thrissur, which has the state’s second largest area under summer paddy.

The study also predicts a severe decline in rainfall in the coming years, which would raise the requirement for irrigation water by 200 billion litres to grow winter paddy and about 750 billion litres for summer paddy in Thrissur district.

The future of rice

While investing in irrigation may not be able to protect Kerala from food insecurity in the future, farmers and scientists have found different ways to grow paddy using much less water.

“In China, paddy is cultivated using drip irrigation. With proper technology, aerobic rice can be grown by ensuring that the ground is wet,” says Mathew, the retired irrigation officer.

“We tested the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) on several farms in Palakkad district; those farmers still grow paddy using this method. But other farmers (ones who practice traditional paddy cultivation methods) are unwilling to try SRI due to lack of schemes,” says Dr Karthikeyan, a scientific staffer at the Regional Agricultural Research Station, Pattambi.

“An acre of paddy can yield up to 2,800kg using the SRI method, while the traditional anaerobic cultivation means can only produce between 1,600kg and 1,700kg,” says P.K. Thankappan, a decade-old SRI convert in Palakkad. “But unlike the traditional methods, SRI doesn’t require the fields to remain flooded throughout the cultivation period, which results in rampant weed growth. It’s also difficult to find labourers for this method.”

Moreover, a closer look at the agriculture statistics report comparing 2008-09 to 2019-20 reveals that it’s the high-yielding varieties that demand more irrigation than the local varieties.

“If the local variety is cultivated scientifically, not only can it produce yield on par with high-yielding varieties, it also reduces the water required to grow paddy,” says Natarajan K., a retired agriculture officer who has been successfully cultivating a variety of local paddy in Palakkad on his 2 acres.

“I’ve never lost paddy to rains, except in the 2018 deluge,” says P. Bhuvaneshwari, a 62-year-old 2022 Karshakasree winner from Palakkad.

While her neighbours only grow paddy once a year, she still grows autumn and winter paddy. Around 12 years ago, she began with less than an acre of paddy farm. Today, her field spreads over 10 acres. She believes her chemical-free farming and rich soil biodiversity may have been preventing such losses.

ALSO READ: Kerala in Time magazine list of 50 extraordinary destinations

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Kerala Lite Blogs Travel & Tourism

Kerala in Time magazine list of 50 extraordinary destinations

The magazine said that just like the houseboat tourism promoted by the state, caravan tourism is also expected to follow suit with a similar promise of sustainable tourism…reports Asian Lite News

The Kerala tourism department is elated over TIME magazine shortlisting the state as one among the 50 extraordinary destinations in the world to explore in 2022.

Tourism minister Mohammed Riyaz told media persons that the recognition is a result of the hard work of the tourism department and the new policies and programmes in the sector.

Kerala is ranked ninth in the “World’s Greatest Places 2022” list as an eco-tourism spot. The US magazine wrote that Kerala has spectacular beaches and lush backwaters, temples, and palaces and is known as ‘God’s Own Country’ with good reason.

The new project of the tourism department ‘Karavan Meadows’ also finds a mention in the TIME magazine report which is considered by the department as a recognition of its caravan tourism project.

The magazine said that just like the houseboat tourism promoted by the state, caravan tourism is also expected to follow suit with a similar promise of sustainable tourism.

Ras al Khaimah (UAE), Park City (Utah, US), Galapagos Islands, Dolni Moravo of Czech Republic, Seoul, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Doha, and Detroit are ranked above Kerala in the TIME magazine report.

Last month, Kerala had launched responsible tourism clubs throughout the state. The state government wants to involve the local communities and ensure responsible travel. Apart from boosting tourism, the clubs reportedly aspire to preserve the local art and culture and implement green protocols.

Aligning with the previously launched Destination Challenge, the new initiative will be helping the state government to increase sustainability and responsibility. In the next four years, the Destination Challenge aims to identify and develop 500 tourism spots.

The state tourism department has already rolled out the first set of responsible tourism clubs at colleges and universities. This was done in collaboration with the state’s Higher Education Department.

Kozhikode, one of the state’s most prominent ports, is one of those destinations which will witness a Comprehensive Responsible Tourism Development. In three years, the government also reportedly aims to develop Beypore as an international tourism hub. The state-level initiative was rolled out in the presence of Kerala’s Tourism Minister PA Mohamed Riyas.

READ MORE-Kerala tourism back on track

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India News Kerala

Kerala village raises Rs 18 cr for treatment of 9-month-old

People of Chorode village in Kozhikode district conducted a massive convention at Athafy auditorium in Chorode on Monday for taking forward the collection initiative….reports Asian Lite News

A village in Kozhikode district of Kerala has come together to collect Rs 18 crore to treat a 9-month-old Siya Fathima who is suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

Medicine for this rare disease has to be imported from the United States and a single dose costs Rs 18 crore. Zolgensma is a gene therapy medicine and a single dose will cure the disease.

Siya, the daughter of Siyad and Fazeela of Chorode started showing difficulties in moving, three months after she was born. The toddler was taken to the Malabar Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS) where doctors diagnosed her as suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Subsequent tests at Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram confirmed that the infant was suffering from Type 1 SMA.

Siyad, the father of Siya, told IANS that the child is having difficulties holding her head up and is having trouble in eating and breastfeeding also.

People of Chorode village in Kozhikode district conducted a massive convention at Athafy auditorium in Chorode on Monday for taking forward the collection initiative.

A committee for fund collection is formed with Chorode gram panchayat president P.P. Chandrashekharan as Chairman and K.P. Abdul Azeez as convener.

ALSO READ: Panchayats in Kerala to decide fate of wild boars

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Environment India News

Reservoirs left with water less than last 10 years’ average

None of the reservoirs in the southern region are showing any deficit, not even Kerala that had minus 52 per cent deficit as on June 30…reports Asian Lite News

With the month of June witnessing erratic rainfall resulting in many states receiving deficit rains from the southwest monsoon, over 30 large reservoirs across India have not just lesser water compared to last year, but far less compared to the average of last 10 years.

The Central Water Commission (CWC) monitors 143 reservoirs on a weekly basis. The total live storage as on June 30 was 48.951 billion cubic metres (BCM), which is 86 per cent of last year’s storage and 118 per cent of the average of the last 10 years at the corresponding time. There are six reservoirs that have no live storage.

“The rainfall in June was erratic and the progress was slow. Twice there was a break when there was no advance in the monsoon. However, the last week of June more than compensated with heavy rainfall in the catchments of most of the reservoirs,” said an official from the agency under the Jal Shakti Ministry.

Data from India Meteorological Department (IMD) showed that Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and the UTs of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra, Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu and Ladakh, received deficit rainfall.

As per the CWC, in the northern region, three reservoirs in Himachal Pradesh have more water compared to last year but as much as minus 38 per cent compared to the average of last 10 years. Punjab’s lone reservoir too has a similar story, almost the same quantity of water compared to last year but as much as 37 per cent less compared to the last 10 years’ average.

In the eastern region, six reservoirs in Jharkhand have minus 19 per cent of last 10 years’ average while 10 reservoirs in Odisha have minus 39 per cent of last 10 years’ average water quantity.

In the Central region, Uttarakhand’s three reservoirs have minus 21 per cent less water compared to last 10 years’ average while for eight reservoirs in Uttar Pradesh and four in Chhattisgarh, it is minus 8 per cent of the last 10 years’ average.

Surprisingly, Gujarat and Maharashtra, which were in red (minus 30 and minus 54 per cent deficit) when it came to rainfall for the month of June, had only slightly less water compared to last year but far more than the average of the last 10 years.

None of the reservoirs in the southern region are showing any deficit, not even Kerala that had minus 52 per cent deficit as on June 30.

“Rangawan in Uttar Pradesh, Nanak Sagar in Uttarakhand, Mulshi and Bheema in Maharashtra, Watrak in Gujarat and Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh are the reservoirs that had no live storage as of June 30,” said an official of the CWC.

ALSO READ-India second largest country of birth for naturalised US citizens

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Lite Blogs Woman

A determined life ride for defence widows

With no sponsors, no crowd-funding, Krishna embarked on her solo expedition on April 11 from Kochi. Her Akashvani FM Rainbow colleagues have been helping her at most of the places with accommodation and, if needed, medical help…writes Nivedita Khandekar

 A quirk of fate changed her life and it had a Delhi connection!

Almost 25 years later, life came full circle for this single mother and RJ from Kochi who visited the building where her late husband, an Indian Air Force officer, had worked till his death due to an accident on a West Delhi street.

“The goal of my socially committed journey is to motivate and give strength and courage to the widows of the brave men in uniform, the guardians of our country,” said the 44-year-old gutsy woman, who has planned to visit 75 Akashvani FM Rainbow stations coinciding with the ‘[Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

But it was no routine visit for RJ Ambika Krishna, an Akashvani FM Rainbow artiste from Kochi. Solo biking on her Enfield Bullet, Ambika is on a mission to spread a word about the defence widows through her cross-country travel from Kochi to Shillong to Amritsar and back to Kochi.

Her arduous journey began from Kerala and on the very third day she met with an accident. It happened when she had just entered Chennai. In the accident, Krishna fell down and incurred a major ligament tear in her left leg, the same that is used to change gears of her bike.

However, determined not to let anything stop her, she continued with medication.

Moving onwards, she covered Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, and earlier this week she reached Delhi.

When asked about her journey so far, she said, “Nothing bothered me, except when I was caught in the middle of a Agnipath protest in Uttar Pradesh. Fortunately, it was a matter of minutes and I came out scratch-free.”

She narrated her voyage as how she survived the oppressive heat in the central Indian belt and the devastating rainfall in northeast India. How she survived long, lonely highways along the eastern coast and the dusty, undulating roads at many places.

Almost sticking to her schedule of 47-50 days, her journey through Uttar Pradesh was delayed a day or two as she had a fever that prompted an extra day halt in Agra.

First thing she did after reaching Delhi was to visit a doctor. Then, just like she has been doing at all her halting stations, she visited the AIR FM Rainbow station in Delhi and recorded two back-to-back live sessions and shared her adventurous journey and her inspirational story. She also visited the Air Force building where her husband had worked.

After a stay of three days in the national capital, the woman, determined to achieve her target, moved ahead to Haryana and Punjab.

The roots lie in her own struggle when she had lost her husband.

When IANS caught up with her in Delhi, Krishna was emotional as she was to visit the place where her husband was working then. Married in 1996, she lost him in a freak motorcycle accident, leaving her alone with their three-month-old daughter.

“Come to think of it, I was in Kerala after delivery. He had gone to book a train ticket for the two of us to return with the child. Imagine how happy he must have been. But fate had other plans!”

Thus, she started her real struggle that tested her grit and determination. She completed her studies that had stopped because of her marriage and child birth. With no support from her in-laws and only indirect support from her own parents, the single parent faced enormous hardships while raising the girl child.

An accountant’s job helped their survival.

“With nobody close to support me in my hardship, I know how I kept my morale high and today, when my daughter is 24 and recently hired by Infosys, I can proudly claim to have sailed through this,” Krishna said with a shine in her eyes.

Her troubles never deterred her but instead made her stronger. Her originally shy nature changed once she accepted a part-time job as an RJ in 2015 and within no time, became popular all-around Kochi.

For years, she nurtured her passion for photography and regularly went on photography tours. She is equally passionate about riding her bike and going solo on nearby trips as a regular. But the pandemic hit hard and made everyone sit at home.

“This year, after almost two years of sitting at home, it struck me that I had to do something. A trial motorbike expedition followed and I was very happy I could do it. That set the ball rolling.”

With no sponsors, no crowd-funding, Krishna embarked on her solo expedition on April 11 from Kochi. Her Akashvani FM Rainbow colleagues have been helping her at most of the places with accommodation and, if needed, medical help.

But she has managed fuel on her own. “But of course, if someone can sponsor, I am willing,” she said.

For now, she is deeply motivated with the choice of her purpose, a tribute to defence personnel and raising a voice to the cause of defence widows that resonated with her personal life.

“To it I decided to add my professional life. As an RJ, I think, I have a sense of communication. I can put forth a point properly. This made me choose to be a voice of those women who may face troubles if their husbands die on duty,” Krishna said, adding, “When I am back from this expedition, I am going to start the next phase of my mission — visiting all the defence widows in Kerala.”

ALSO READ-Inspirational Women participate in WIM Top50 Global Conference

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Kerala Lite Blogs

Panchayats in Kerala to decide fate of wild boars

While Raju’s family celebrated the licensed killing of the boar, there’s no respite for Thomas, as about 6,000 of the 9,000 households in his jurisdiction are incurring huge losses in agriculture due to wild boar attacks…reports Asian Lite News

On June 1, around 10.30 p.m., EP Raju, a licensed gunner empanelled with the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department, shot down a wild boar that had entered his father EP Yohannan’s farm in Kodancherry village in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, this was the first recorded incident of culling after the department empowered local self-governments to cull wild boar to curb their growing menace.

“I’m thankful to Kodancherry panchayat president Alex Thomas for granting me the requisite permission. I request all farmers to take quick action, otherwise, no crop will survive in any village located on the fringes of the forest,” said 94-year-old Yohannan.

Farmers who suspect that wild boar are attacking their farm now need to seek permission from the panchayat president, who can depute a licenced gunman to cull the animal. Earlier, the farmer had to procure this permission from the forest department, but the procedure was cumbersome and resulted in inordinate delay.

While Raju’s family celebrated the licensed killing of the boar, there’s no respite for Thomas, as about 6,000 of the 9,000 households in his jurisdiction are incurring huge losses in agriculture due to wild boar attacks.

“There are hundreds of boar here, and we have only five licenced gunmen to tackle them. I’m worried the farmers in my village will continue to incur more losses,” said Thomas. Under the new rules, he is the honorary Chief Wildlife Warden with the same powers as State Chief Wild Warden.

Panchayat heads like Thomas will see a need for more licenced gunmen, and already district collector offices, which have the authority to approve gun licences after obtaining clearances from the police as well as the revenue and forest departments, are seeing an increase in applications.

On May 25, after issuing an order to empower local bodies with culling rights, Kerala Minister of Forests AK Saseendran said, “This is a new experiment; there are bound to be some shortcomings. The government is trying to tackle the menace without violating the Wildlife Protection Act.”

A senior forest officer, on condition of anonymity, said they didn’t know the exact number of wild boar in Kerala, as no detailed survey had been conducted before the culling orders were issued. The last wild boar census was conducted in Kerala in 2011; it stood at 48,034.

Though the panchayat should bear the cost of culling, in most cases farmers might have to bear the initial costs, which is tough on those whose farms have already been affected by boar attacks, the forest officer added.

“To avoid poaching, farmers are even forbidden from selling the meat after the kill. We need to wait for at least a year before receiving feedback and rework the guidelines accordingly.”

Earlier, farmers dug trenches, erected walls and even resorted to using poison, electric traps and illegal shooting to control the menace. This often caused untoward accidents. For instance, on May 21, in Vithura gram panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram district, 57-year-old Selvaraj was electrocuted by an electric fence.

“Farmers are not resorting to illegal means anymore. I have already received more than 150 applications for culling rights,” said VS Baburaj, president of Vithura gram panchayat.

The panchayats intend to expedite the otherwise exhausting process of granting permission and connecting farmers with licenced gunmen. The applications are approved at the president’s discretion.

These applications give each farmer the standing right to ask for the culling of boar that enter their farms after they are verified as genuine by the panchayat. After this, the panchayat president can grant permission even over a phone call, deputing an available gunman for the task. Depending on the particular farmer’s financial standing, the panchayat may or may not accept the responsibility of paying the gunmen, who are compensated to the tune of Rs 1000 per culling.

Wild boar – a vermin or not?

In the past five years, wild boar attacks caused 21 deaths and 515 injuries among people. So far, the Kerala government has received 10,700 applications from farmers seeking compensation for the damages.

The compensation process, however, is laggard. According to a Kerala forest department official, around Rs 5 crore has been disbursed as compensation for crop loss against wild boar attacks in 2020-2021; Rs 3.53 crore in 2019-20; and Rs 4.6 crore in 2018-19.

According to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the culling of a wild boar is a criminal offence, involving three years imprisonment so farmers are in a dilemma about the legality of culling despite panchayat sanctions.

With the rise in man-animal conflicts, farmers’ organisations have been pressuring the Centre to declare wild boar as vermin.

“There are strict guidelines for declaring an animal ‘vermin’. They cannot be declared vermin unless they’re dangerous across the country, which wild boar are not,” said Bhupendra Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, on the sideline of the Anil Agarwal Annual Environmental Dialogue conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment in Nimli, Rajasthan. This was before the May 25 announcement in Kerala. He added that he was aware of the situation in Kerala, but declaring boar vermin would make them vulnerable to poaching across India.

According to P Basheer, a forest officer from Edathara sector in Kozhikode, who had overseen the first culling operation in Kodancherry village: “On the pretext of culling to save life and crop, hunting shouldn’t be permitted. We are duty-bound to ensure that after the culling, the carcass is buried properly.”

Culling not a panacea

A section of environmentalists and animal rights activists, including Maneka Gandhi, has, however, protested this move by the Kerala government.

“Wild boar is the only species that consumes bracken, an undergrowth that prevents seedlings from growing by blocking sunlight in forest,” Gandhi explained. “Besides, its habit of constantly scratching the forest floor clears the ground for fresh growth. The demand to cull wild boar was made by hunters and others who stood to gain monetarily through poaching, not by agriculturalists.”

The Kerala forest minister unequivocally denied these allegations, pointing out that the decision was aimed at finding a permanent solution for farmers and people residing on forest fringes, and that the government wouldn’t allow hunting.

However, farmers claimed the problem was not restricted to wild boar alone. P Vijayalakshmi, a farm woman in Kulappully village in Palakkad district, said, “I have suffered financial losses of more than Rs 1 lakh in a year due to animal attacks. Not only wild boar but also monkeys and peacock have been regularly raiding my crops. I can cull wild boar, but what about the others? Does the law permit culling them, too?”

People living on the fringes of forests have been facing attacks from wild elephant, tiger, leopard, monkey, bison and peacock on the regular. According to the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department, 1,048 people lost their lives to animal attacks in the past decade.

Shrinking forests and increasing urbanisation have forced the animals, including wild boar, out of the woods. They enter farmlands in search of plantains and tapioca. State-controlled culling may not offer any permanent solution unless measures are taken to preserve the forests and fight climate change.

“Water and food scarcity due to the degradation of forests and climate change are the main causes for man-animal conflict. Infact, we cannot find a permanent solution without addressing this root cause. But I support culling for the time being because no other option exists for farmers to save their lives and farms,” said Dr VS Vijayan, former chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board.

“Culling may bring temporary relief, but it cannot weed out the problem entirely,” said Vijayalakshmi.

ALSO READ-In this panchayat in Wayanad, tree banking scheme aims carbon neutrality

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Arab News Kerala

Aster DM Healthcare to launch advanced healthcare facility in Kerala

With the new hospital in Trivandrum expected to add 2000 jobs, Aster would be providing employment to over 10,000 professionals in the State…reports Asian Lite News

Aster DM Healthcare, one of the largest private healthcare service providers in GCC and India, announced the launch of its latest integrated advanced healthcare facility at Trivandrum in Kerala. The hospital will be a 550-bed unit and will enclose 5.76 lakh sq. ft built-up area excluding the provision for 1 lakh sq. ft for multi-level car parking space. The company’s investment will be in the tune of 500 crores+ for the entire project, with the first phase having a capacity of 350 beds is expected to be operational by FY26.

This super-specialty facility will house several centres for clinical excellence that will cater to the functions of Cardiac Sciences, Organ Transplant, Neurosciences, Orthopaedics, Oncology, Urology & Nephrology, Gastro Sciences, and Woman & Child wellness.  The hospital will offer OPD, IPD, ICU including high dependency units, NICU, PICU and transplant ICU, day-care support and 24 hours trauma & emergency response services. Robotics and new generation systems would be introduced gradually.

Commenting on the launch, Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare, said, “Aster Capital at Thiruvananthapuram has been conceived as a comprehensive facility that will deliver primary to quaternary healthcare to the people of the region. It has been a long-cherished dream of Aster DM Healthcare to be in the capital city to make quality healthcare at an affordable cost accessible to the population. There were large number of patients who were visiting our Aster Medcity at Kochi — and we thought it is our duty to bring the services to their doorsteps. This will increase our footprint not only in Kerala but across India with over 4500 beds in the country. We hope that the Aster Capital Hospital will become a destination for the highest quality healthcare in the country attracting medical professionals and patients to the state from abroad providing facilities at par with global standards.” 

ALSO READ:Taqdeer Award and Aster Hospital sign cooperation agreement

With 15 hospitals, 11 clinics, 131 pharmacies and 114 labs and PECs, Aster DM Healthcare remains committed to its promise of making quality healthcare affordable and accessible to people in India. With a large presence across 5 States – Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the Group has been introducing world class healthcare with state of art infrastructure, advanced clinical procedures and interventional methodologies to local patients in India. The Thiruvananthapuram project will illustrate the group’s commitment to the goal of remaining at the forefront of a health management system that aspires to be inclusive, uncompromisingly effective and powered by a culture of concern. The hospital will aim to maximize the benefit of providing cohesive units for diagnostic and pharmaceutical services. 

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Race for Raisina begins

The names of Vice President M. Venkiah Naidu, Tamilisai Soundararajan, Jagdish Mukhi, Anusuiya Uikey and Arif Mohd Khan and Draupadi Murmu are being taken on the government side for President’s post…reports Asian Lite News

With the Election Commission on Thursday announcing the schedule for Presidential election, the contest to choose the next occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan has picked up pace with both the government and opposition mulling over their candidates.

The names of Vice President M. Venkiah Naidu, Governors Tamilisai Soundararajan (Telangana), Jagdish Mukhi (Assam), Anusuiya Uikey (Chhattisgarh) and Arif Mohd Khan (Kerala) and former Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu are being taken on the government side,

While veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is considered a dark horse from both the sides, having decades of experience in government at the Centre as Union Minister and state as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who is from Scheduled Castes, may emerge as the Opposition’s candidates.

If Pawar throws his hat in the ring, then he could emerge as a joint opposition candidate, with his political experience – a three-time Maharashtra Chief Minister and Defence and Agriculture Minister at the Centre – and his relations across party lines, leaving the BJP on the backfoot.

President of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which he founded in 1999 after parting ways from the Congress, he is currently a Rajya Sabha member. Pawar was the Chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India BCCI from 2005 to 2008 and the President of the International Cricket Council.

From Congress, it could be Meira Kumar, who has been a Union Minister too and contested elections in the past too

On the government’s side, several names are doing the rounds, but with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s penchant for surprises – picking up Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind in 2017 – could be displayed again

Venkiah Naidu is another strong possibility. Beginning his career as an MLA in Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1983, he was elected a member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka in 1998. He has served as Union Minister both in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and then the Narendra Modi government, before being elevated as the Vice President.

Kerala Governor Khan could be a choice to display the government’s inclusive side, while he has been a vocal supporter of government policies on various issues.

Starting his political career as a student leader, he rose to become the President of Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union in 1972-23 before his political debut in 1977 when he was elected to the UP Assembly. He subsequently joined the Congress and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 from Kanpur and 1984 from Bahraich. In 1986, he quit Congress due to differences over the passage of the Muslim Personal Law Bill, nullifying the Shah Bano judgment, by the Rajiv Gandhi government.

Khan joined the Janata Dal and was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989 and served as Civil Aviation and Energy Minister in the V.P. Singh government. He subsequently joined the Bahujan Samaj Party and was again elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 from Bahraich. In 2004, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but only gained prominence after he was appointed Kerala Governor in 2019

If the Modi government decides to field a sitting Governor as a candidate like in 2017, probables range from Chhattisgarh’s Uikey, to Soundararajan if it seeks to choose someone from the South, while Mukhi could be the pick if it seeks to gain ground in Delhi.

However, there could be a dark horse candidates as either sides are keeping the cards close to their chest.

The favourites and dark horses

Two months ahead of the election, the contest to choose the next occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan has yet to pick up pace with both the government and opposition yet to clear the air on their candidates.

The names of Kerala Governor Arif Mohd Khan, Vice President M Venkiah Naidu, Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi, former Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu, and Chhattisgarh Governor Anusuiya Uikey are being taken on the government side and of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar among the opposition.

If Pawar throws his hat in the ring, then he could emerge as a joint opposition candidate, with his political experience – a three-time Maharashtra Chief Minister and Defence and Agriculture Minister at the Centre – and his relations across party lines, leaving the BJP on the backfoot.

From Congress, it could be Meira Kumar, who has been a Union Minister too and contested elections in the past too

On the government’s side, several names are doing the rounds, but with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s penchant for surprises – picking up Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind in 2017 – could be displayed again

Kerala Governor Khan could be a choice to display the government’s inclusive side, while he has been a vocal supporter of government policies on various issues.

Venkiah Naidu is another strong possibility. Beginning his career as an MLA in Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, he was in 1983, elected a member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka in 1998. He has served as Union Minister both in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and then the Narendra Modi government, before being elevated as Vice President.

If the Modi government decides to field a sitting Governor as a candidate like in 2017, probables range from Chhattisgarh’s Uikey, to Soundararajan if it seeks to choose someone from the South, while Mukhi could be the pick if it seeks to gain ground in Delhi.

However, there could be a dark horse candidates as either sides are keeping the cards close to their chest.

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Kerala Lite Blogs

Kerala’s kalaripayattu is a rage in Kashmir

Another reason for its growing popularity is the recognition given by the Central Government to the sport. They know if they win a medal, they will get a scholarship as well as a job…reports Asian Lite News

Kerala’s popular martial art form kalarippayattu has travelled all the way from the southernmost tip of India to the very top in the North to capture the hearts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The tiny state has steadfastly been training 1,000 young girls and boys in 13 districts and their very best have arrived for the Khelo India Youth Games here in Panchkula, aiming to grab at least a couple of medals.

They don’t have the advantage of traditional kalari centres, though, which need to be constructed according to specifications of size and direction.

So, in the absence of proper gurukulams, the enthusiastic kids practice kalari in parks, schools and open spaces.

“It is not very difficult to attract kids to our sport,” Tasreen Sharma, who is looking after the J&K Kalari team said.

“We simply tell them the truth, that kalari has given birth to all the martial arts that they watch in movies. Right from karate to kung-fu to taekwondo. And that is enough to motivate them,” Tasreen said.

“Our girls feel empowered when they play kalari. It’s also liberating for the young who have not got many opportunities in the past,” she said.

Another reason for its growing popularity is the recognition given by the Central Government to the sport. They know if they win a medal, they will get a scholarship as well as a job.

Kalaripayattu, of course, originated in the Land of Gods – Kerala – about 3,000 years ago. If myths are to be believed, it was created by Lord Parashurama, for 108 Kalaris, who were to destroy the demons who were causing havoc on earth.

The oldest martial art survived through the long march of history by remaining inextricable from the social and cultural fabric of Kerala. It is also the only martial art in the world that incorporates an entire system of medicine called kalari marma – to heal and cure the injured and wounded.

Different variants of the art evolved across Kerala from the 12th to the 17th Century. It played a pivotal role in the evolution of Kerala, with no religious, social or political event ever being complete without a kalari display.

All young boys were even sent for customary training to gain physical, mental and spiritual synergy. It is said the kings in Kerala didn’t keep armies; whenever required, the kalari centres provided the warriors.

During the Colonial rule, kalari was banned. Undeterred, the old masters took their art to the deep valleys and trained their young disciples in underground pits – away from the eyes of the British.

The suppression of this art made it more vigorous; post-Independence, kalari returned to the centre-stage of the cultural life of Kerala. In 1958, the Kerala Government recognised it as a sporting event.

In 2015, the Indian Kalaripayattu Federation was recognised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports as a National Sports Federation. Since then, the Federation has been conducting National Championships.

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