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Chandy declares bar scam as a political conspiracy

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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy on Saturday dubbed the bar scam rocking the state as a “political conspiracy” and warned that those behind it “will have to pay a heavy price”. ooo

“The baseless allegations in the bar scam is nothing but political conspiracy. In all, 309 people were summoned as witness in the case. Nothing was brushed under the carpet. Those behind this case will have to pay a heavy price,” Chandy told the media during campaigning for the Aruvikara legislative assembly segment, where by-election will be held later this month.

Chandy’s statement came a day after it surfaced that legal opinion on vigilance department’s detailed probe – first against Mani and then against Babu – maintained that the case will not pass muster in a court of law. The legal opinion was also for the closure of the case “for want of evidence”.

This opinion has since been passed on by the probe team to vigilance department chief, Vinson M. Paul.

Home Minister, Ramesh Chennithala, who is in-charge of vigilance department, told reporters on Saturday he had “no clue on the contents of the vigilance report”, adding that it was one department where neither he nor the state government could ever interfere since it was supervised by a vigilance court.

“Anyone unhappy with the vigilance probe can approach a court of law. We have done nothing (illegal) in this case,” said Chennithala.

Leader of the Opposition in Kerala assembly, V.S. Achuthanandan, on Saturday cautioned ViOommen_Chandy

gilance Director Paul to see to it that he “does not spoil his clean image by dancing to the tune of those in power”.

“If the (vigilance) director plays into the hands of those in power, I will take up this case legally,” Achuthanandan said.

Meanwhile, bar owner Biju Ramesh – who created a political uproar in Kerala in October 2014 with his bribery charge – maintained that he would take the case to a logical conclusion by approaching the CBI and the courts.

Ramesh had last year claimed that hotel bar owners paid Rs. 1 crore as bribe to State Finance Minister, K.M. Mani to reopen closed bars.

Again in March 2015, he said Rs. 10 crore were given as bribes on the alleged directions of Excise Minister, K. Babu. (IANS)

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Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction

The department has pumped in almost Rs 500 crore in the area for tourism and infrastructure development

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Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction
Northern Kerala to Soon Emerge as Major Tourist Attraction. IANS

Are Kovalam and backwaters the first things that come to mind when thinking of Kerala? All that’s set to change as more places will soon be added to the bucket list from ‘God’s own country’ — at an outlay of Rs 500 crore.

The Kerala Tourism Department is taking new initiatives and expanding its horizons, not just in the southern belt but also the northern zone with new “must visit” destinations.

“Kerala has seen a strong tourism sector since two decades and we have been doing well domestically and internationally.

“We are starting new destinations in different geographical areas. We are widening our canvas and including new destinations,” P. Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism told IANS.

He added that the northern parts of the state like Wayanad, Kannur, Kozhikode, Thissur, Malapuram and Palakad are on the list of new tourism destinations.

“This will be a separate circuit which will be complementing the existing tourism circuit in south Kerala,” Kiran stated.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

While the peak season for visiting the state is mainly November to February, the Tourism Department is also chalking out plans to attract tourists round the year.

And for that, the department has pumped in almost Rs 500 crore in the area for tourism and infrastructure development.

“We are also planning out new ventures like introducing river cruise facility in Malabar, making a Kameshwari heritage project, Jatayu Earth Centre which will feature world’s largest bird sculpture and offering plethora of adventure and rejuvenating activities and others,” Bala noted.

The department is also focusing on alluring young tourists by offering multiple adventure activities — water-based sports like river rafting and kayaking as also trekking, paragliding.

Recently, Kerala also bagged ‘Best destination for families’ award through an online poll which was conducted by Lonely Planet magazine.

Bala added in the past one year, Kerala has witnessed tremendous growth in tourist arrivals — both domestic and internatinal.

Also Read: Infosys Donates Rs 2.50cr To A Hospital in Kerala

“In 2017 we had 1.09 million international tourists and 14.6 million domestic tourists which is roughly translating into a growth of 11 per cent in the last year,” he added.

Asked about the major challenges being faced by the Tourism Department, Bala pointed out that ensuring safety and security of tourists were the first priority followed by providing world class amenities to the visitors and streamlining the waste management system.

“Kerala government is setting up a Tourism Regulatory Authority which will be a statutory body with full legal powers to intervene and execute orders whenever there are complaints on tourist-related activities,” Bala noted. (IANS)

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