Kurinji: Bloom that attracted half a million people Thursday, Sep 18 2008 

Kurinjil flowers in bloom

Neelakurinji in bloom

The bloom that attracted half a million visitors to Munnar in 2006 is back.

The legendary Neela Kurinji has bloomed this time about 35 km from Munnar, on a hill by the side of the Kochi-Madurai national highway.

The flowers this time is not as abundant as in 2006 though gregarious. They are inter- spersed with grass and bunches of kurinji flowers stand out amid them. Because of this and lesser publicity, there are fewer visitors to the hill close to the Mathikettan Shola National Park this time. And the flowers will dry up in a few weeks from now.

Kurnji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) flowers once in 12 years. However, not every group of plants completes their flowering cycles in the same year. So, there will be more than one gregarious bloom within 12 years at different locations. The Muthuva tribe used to count their age by the cycle of kurinji plants in their locality. And kurinji and its flowering is interwoven with the tribal lore and romanticism.

More about kurinji at Kurinji.in

Worst performing Minister of LDF Cabinet Sunday, May 11 2008 

Chief Minister V. S. AchuthanandanThe New Indian Express is asking its readers to select the worst performing Minister in the LDF ministry. Well, hardly any Minister is up to the mark. However, the Chief Minister should be considered as the worst performing Minister in the Cabinet. He is their leader or at least first among equals.

As one who heads the Cabinet, he has failed to ensure collective responsibility. More than that he has failed to push forward hardly any of the agenda he had put before the people when he was Leader of the Opposition.

Look at the following:

  • No progress in action against plantation companies and others whom he accused of encroachment into Government land.
  • No action against encroachers of beaches at Kovalam and other places.
  • No progress in getting back Halcyon Palace, Kovalam.
  • No improvement in investigation of crimes against women. Though he boycotted an actor, he has been acquitted by the courts. Sari’s parents now accuse him of complicity in suppressing investigation.
  • No conviction in corruption cases highlighted by him.
  • No improvement in the conduct of forest cases. Prosecution still fails to argue cases properly.
  • No action against illegal/irregular lotteries and cheating by lottery mafia.
  • No solution to inter-State water disputes with Tamil Nadu. On the other hand, the Chief Minister agreed to bind Kerala to supply water from Neyyar.
  • Full-fledged rehabilitation of endosulfan victims is yet to become a reality (though some efforts had been made in that direction).
  • None had been punished in the kidney racket cases.
  • There is no notable improvement in the plight of tribals.
  • All tribals are yet to get land.
  • No action taken against encroachment at Pooyankutty.
  • Accidents rates increased in quarries that breached the law.
  • Conversion of paddy fields and leveling of hills continue.
  • Did not succeed in checking cost escalation of Kerala Transport Project.
  • All the mafias are at large.

Ana Koduthalum Asa Kodukkaruthu: Gift an elephant, but don’t give hope if you cannot fulfill it. The Chief Minister ignored that Malayalam saying and kept none of his election promises.

However, it ought to be acknowledged that he struck a better deal for Smart City and achieved some progress in introduction of free software in Government departments and agencies.

Finance and P. E. Usha Wednesday, Oct 24 2007 

Calicut University Selection grade assistant P. E. Usha of Calicut University continued to be harassed by the administration. She has been on deputation to the Attappady Hill Area Development Society, on her application, after she faced a vilification campaign at the University on her filing a sexual harassment case.

Now, the Finance Department is objecting to extension of her deputation despite a Supreme Court order that women who faced harassment should be given safe posting.
Earlier, she had been granted extension upon intervention by Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan. (Her salary had been withheld). This time also she got a no-objection certificate from the University for extension of the deputation after intervention by the Chief Minister.

The Finance Department is maintaining that there were legal objections to the extension of the term, as Usha had not cited any reason for seeking extension of deputation beyond five years. This looks strange because she would have mentioned the background in her petition to the Chief Minister.

Instead of sticking to technicalities, the Finance Department— or any Department for that matter— should be functioning with a purpose of helping people. May be the Department is trying to save a deputation allowance for the exchequer. However, it could save much more if it looks at the Attappady Hill Area Development Project itself.

A lot of money has been getting wasted on the Project, which had been delayed considerably. The tribals would have been better off if the money spent on projects for them in Attappady after independence was deposited in a bank and interest proceeds distributed to them on a monthly basis. (They would have been earning at least Rs. 10000 a month).