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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Trains cancelled to allow gauge conversion

Special Correspondent

The Southern Railway will take up gauge conversion from Villupuram to Mayiladuthurai and between Tirunelveli and Tiruchendur starting December 1. Consequently, traffic on the section will be suspended. The conversion of the Villupuram-Mayiladuthurai section (122 km) will be done by Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL), while the construction wing of the Southern Railway will execute the conversion between Tirunelveli and Tiruchendur (62 km).
The following trains will therefore be cancelled from December 1: Train No: 814 Mayiladuthurai-Tambaram fast passenger, 862/814 Karaikkudi- Mayiladuthurai -Tambaram slip coach service, 6854 Mayiladuthurai -Tambaram Cholan Express, 6876 Nagore-Tambaram Express, 6702 Karaikkudi-Tambaram Express, 815/816 Villupuram-Mayiladuthurai Passenger, 817/818 Villupuram-Mayiladuthurai Passenger, 819/820 Villupuram- Mayiladuthurai Passenger, and 821/822 Villupuram- Mayiladuthurai Passenger.
The following trains will be cancelled from December 2: Train No: 813 Tambaram-Mayiladuthurai Fast Passenger, 813/861 Tambaram-Mayiladuthurai- Karaikkudi slip coach service, 6853 Tambaram-Mayiladuthurai Cholan Express, 6875 Tambaram-Nagore Express, and 6701 Tambaram-Karaikkudi Express.

The following services will be terminated at Tirunelveli from December 1: Train no 741 Tirunelveli-Quilon Passenger, 742 Shenkottai-Tirunelveli Passenger, 744/745 Tirunelveli-Quilon Passengers, 747 Tirunelveli-Shenkottai Passenger, 748 Quilon-Tirunelveli Passenger and 6383/6384 Tirunelveli-Quilon Expresses, according to a Southern Railway press release.

Engineering and medicine are not the only options

THINKING BIG: Students at the counselling session on higher education, organised by the Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre at the Birla Planetarium Students showed great enthusiasm in knowing more about the possible courses they could pursue after schooling, at a counselling session organised by the Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre on Monday.
Over 100 Plus-Two students from rural schools in Cuddalore, Villupuram and Thiruvannamalai districts took part in the event.

Five bonded child labourers( Five boys belonging to Villupuram district) escape from Mumbai factory

Five boys belonging to Villupuram district escaped from a bangle-making unit in Malad, Mumbai, where they have been employed as bonded labourers for the past five months. They were spotted at Pallavaram on Wednesday night and handed over to their relatives by personnel of the Railway Protection Force. The boys, aged between 12 and 16, were seen loitering around at the Pallavaram railway station. The RPF personnel of Tambaram quizzed the boys, who, in turn, narrated their tale of woe.

The boys were sold to one Saravanan by their parents for Rs. 3,000 in June this year. They then headed for Malad in Mumbai, where they have been working since then.
They said they were among the seven boys employed in the bangle factory. They used to be woken up at 7 a.m. and would sit down near the machines for work at 7.30 a.m. Their breakfast was just small quantity of porridge, that too, stale. They would work non-stop till midnight and in the process, each of them would have made, decorated and packed 500 bangles.
The gold-plated bangles were all meant for the export market. While they were promised Rs. 2 per bangle, not even once were they given any cash. They were given Rs. 10 once in 10 days or once in a fortnight so that they could buy toothpaste and soap. They did not even have a proper change of clothes. Two days ago, Saravanan, whom they called `Seth', asked the boys to take care of the factory as he was going out to make some purchase.

Seizing the opportunity, they fled from the shop, managed to find the way to the Malad railway station and took an electric train to Dadar station, the boys said. From there, they boarded the Dadar Express and reached the Central Station in Chennai without ticket. From there, they walked across to the Park station, boarded a suburban electric train and got down at Pallavaram, not knowing how to reach their hometowns.

The boys — A. Thangam, 14, A. Arumugham, 14, S. Arulmani, 16, R. Sathish, 14, and R. Vijay, 12, — are all school dropouts and their parents have failed to convince them to go back to school. The boys' relatives said the boys were sent to Mumbai in the hope that they would get a decent job and good food, which could not be provided at home.
The police said they managed to contact one of the boy's relatives and passed the information on to the rest.

The boys said that their request for provision of essentials only elicited assault from the factory owner. ``There are several other factories where there are hundreds of young boys like us suffering at the hands of their employers,'' Arulmani said.
The boys said they were initially excited at the prospect of travelling to Mumbai for job, but now want to get back home and to their school, which they discontinued more than six months ago.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Heavy rainfall warning

Waking up to a monsoonish sky with incessant drizzle is apparently going to be a regular scene for Chennaiites in the coming days, according to weather experts.

Not only in Chennai, but moderate to rather heavy rain is likely to occur at many places over all the districts of Tamilnadu and Pudhucherry.Isolated heavy to very heavy rain is likely to occur coastal Tamilnadu and Pondicherry during the next 48 hours. The same level of downpour is also expected to occur over interior Tamilnadu and Kerala during the same period.

Also, isolated heavy to very heavy rain is likely to occur over Cuddalore, Villupuram and in Pondicherry. district registered 5 cm each. Isolated heavy rain is also likely to occur over the remaining district of Tamilnadu during the same period. Overall outlook for subsequent two days also suggests that there would be no significant change in the weather scenario. It may be recalled that many parts of Tamilnadu received rain ,thanks to the persistence of a trough of low pressure over the southwest bay off the State.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Incessant rains claim 9 lives in VILLUPURAM

Incessant rains in Tamil Nadu for the past few days, has claimed the lives of 17 people in the state. The victims, which included nine women, were mostly killed by wall collapse, lightning and flash floods, police sources here said . Villupuram district bore the brunt of the rain fury as six people were killed in rain-related incidents.

While four died after being struck by lightning, a woman was washed away in flash floods in Gomuki river. A fisherman, who set out for fishing, was found dead in his boat near Marakkanam coast in Villupuram district, after he was struck by lightning, sources added.

While three people died in Tiruchirapalli district, two died in the nearby Karur district and one each in Perambalur, Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamali, Tiruvallur, Erode and Cuddalore districts, the sources added.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Repoll in villupuram districts

State Election Commissioner D. Chandrasekaran has announced re-poll in 27 stations in nine districts that went to local body elections in the second phase on Sunday.

The State Election Commission office here, Mr.Chandrasekaran said the overall voting in the second phase was expected to be around 70 per cent. "Till 3 p.m., the voting percentage was around 55 per cent. But we expect that number to go up to 70 per cent."
Repoll will be held 3 booths in Villupuram ,The repoll will be conducted on Monday and Tuesday. He claimed that the elections were by and large peaceful throughout the state.

The State Election Commission also declared that the overall voting percentage in the first phase was 72 per cent. Counting of votes is scheduled to start on October 18 and the results would be declared by October 19 afternoon. The winning candidates will receive their certificates on October 25. The indirect elections to the posts of Mayors, Deputy Mayors, Municipal Chairmen and other heads would be conducted on October 28.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

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Meeting regarding the Local Body Election

The District Collector Thiru Ashish Chatterjee, I.A.S., conducted a All Political Parties meeting regarding the Local Body Election at District Collectorate, Viluppuram. Thiru K. Periaiah, I.P.S., Superintendent of Police also facilitated the meeting.

"Two Acre Land Scheme" to the public at Villupuram

Thiru M.K. Stalin, Minster of Home, Govt. of Tamilnadu., has inaugurated the "Two Acre Land Scheme" to the public at Viluppuram. K. Ponmudy, Minister of Higher Education and MLAPushparaj ,Ashish Chatterjee, I.A.S., also facilitated the function.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tamil Nadu Weekly Roundup Candidates outwit EC

SEVERAL men have nominated their female relatives as candidates for the October 13 local body polls in Tamil Nadu to counter the Election Commission’s recent directive to allot seats only to women in some places.
According to a report in Nakkeeran magazine, Tilakar, who has won several times from Thevanampettai village in Villupuram district had no female relatives. A bachelor, he hurriedly married a Dalit girl and filed her nomination on the same day.

Similarly Murugesan, an All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) councillor of Ramanathapuram panchayat (village), about 50km from Madurai city, is fielding his daughter-in-law. Another councillor in Dindigul district is fielding his secretary’s wife.
In Thanjavur, one of the oldest municipalities established in 1866, 17 out of 51 wards have been reserved for women. Three candidates are fielding their wives in previously male-dominated wards.

In Salem, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Veerapandi Arumugam is fielding his daughter-in-law for the Veerapandi panchayat post.
Most of the women candidates are illiterate housewives who expect to win with the support of their husbands or male sponsors.

India: Temporary shelter, permanent pain

During the last rainy season when her temporary shelter was flooded Elanji had to spend the night standing up, holding her baby, in ankle-deep water.
This year again Elanji and her neighbours in this tsunami shelter cluster in Puthukuppam, Nagapattinam - seven hours drive from Chennai - are awaiting the rains with fear.
Most of the people living in 178 temporary shelter sites still left in Tamil Nadu live in such fear of rain, notes a study by the prestigious Loyola College in Chennai.
People line their leaky roofs with tarpaulin sheets and lay corrugated metal sheets to cover the floor, knowing well that water will still flood in. "Last time we often had to spend the night sitting on a single cot so as not to get wet," said another resident.

The first rains of the north-eastern monsoon have already hit parts of India’s eastern coast in Tamil Nadu. Hectic repairs are on at Nagapattinam, where bulk of the remaining shelters are located. It is a daunting task.
The Loyola study notes that in Tamil Nadu 76 per cent of shelters need repair or replacement of roofs; and 78 per cent need wall repair.

Officials said that the shelters - each costing Rs 8000 - were meant initially to be used for only three to five months of residence. But they are still around 21 months after the tsunami, as the government so far could finish only one-fifth of the 54,620 tsunami rehabilitation houses proposed to be built for those displaced by the Asian tsunami.
A tour along the study areas in Kanyakumari, Nagapattinam, Kancheepuram,Cuddalore and Villupuram revealed a striking picture - blown-off roofs, damaged walls, low-lying floors and the sheer helplessness of people.

"The findings were striking indeed," said Gladston Xavier, a social work lecturer at the Loyola who led the study team with the support of Oxfam America. "There was no adherence to Sphere standards (of humanitarian relief).
Officials acknowledge that there is a big problem. "In Nagapattinam it is a matter of concern, as many shelter sites are located in lowlands," said C V Sankar, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer on special duty, who supervises the tsunami rehabilitation in Tamil Nadu.
"These sites face the risk of flood, and it can be very bad when it rains," Sankar said. "The district collectors have been instructed to make the repairs before the rainy season," he said in an interview.

Garbriel Britto, former policy and advocacy advisor of Oxfam International who was part of the study, said that Tamil Nadu still fared better compared with the response to earlier disasters elsewhere. "Systems were functional here unlike in, say, Kutch, a forlorn place (where an earthquake struck in 2001). The people here got basic services fast."
"There was an initial rush of goodies, often at unmanageable levels - I found someone who got nine stoves for instance; then everybody seems to have gone into a slumber."
The Loyola study is a response to this slumber. Its context: "…in 2005, practically all the sites were flooded four times; the roofs leaked; food grains got soaked; fires gutted the shelters in over eight places; chicken pox spread in several settlements, and over time the temporary shelter materials had degraded. It was urgent that an appraisal be done…"
Most of the houses were damaged in earlier floods and needed repairs, he study noted. One-third of the houses needed overall repairs and nother one-third needed outright replacement. Worse, in about 80 per cent of the shelters, there is no provision for storm drains.

People living in more than half the shelter sites suffered mosquito bites. In the case of Salavankuppam of Kancheepuram District almost all families reported cases of Chickungunya a disease, spread by mosquitoes and marked by high fever and body-ache.
At Selavankuppam, the people are stuck in cluster of shabby shelters close to the East Coast Highway, as the government could not find a good place for their rehabilitation. "Here it (chikungunya) attacked everyone. I could not even walk, said Susheela, a resident.
Under the original tsunami rehabilitation package, 54,620 houses need to be built - 22,060 by the government in Chennai and Thriuvallur districts and the rest by NGOs. The Government has handed over 8,077 houses and 3,179 more houses were ready by 30th August.
Another 17,542 houses are under construction, still leaving 25,822 houses yet to be built. Finding adequate, acceptable land is a problem, officials said.
In the meanwhile, the rains are gathering strength and the situation ahead looks rather grim.

High Court upholds discharge of Ponmudi in wealth case

The Madras High Court has upheld the order of a lower court, discharging DMK Minister K Ponmudi and four others in the Rs 3.08 crore disproportionate wealth case.Mr Justice S Ashok Kumar upheld the order of Chief Judicial Magistrate/Special Judge, Villupuram on July 21, 2004 while dismissing the revision petition filed by DSP, Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, Cudallore.Mr Ponmudi and four of his relatives and friends, Saraswathi, Visalakshmi Ponmudi, Manivannan and Nandagopal, were charged for offences under section 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (3) of Prevention of Corruption Act. Saraswathi, Manivannan and Nandagopal are trustees of Siga Educational Trust.

According to the prosecution when he was the transport minister between May 1996 and March 2001, Mr Ponmudi had amassed wealth to the tune of Rs 3.08 crore in his name and in the names of his relatives and friends, which was disproportionate to his known sources of income.In his order, the judge said in view of the well settled position of law and enunciated by various courts that there was no concrete material to frame charges against tje accused. The expenditure was within the known sources of income of Mr Ponmudi as found by the trial court. Therefore, no interference was called for with the order of discharge passed by CJM/Special Judge, the judge observed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Job scheme: State pulled up for slow funds utilisation

Rs. 98. 89 crore released to Tamil Nadu, only 5 per cent had been spent

Chennai: The pace of utilisation of funds, allotted by the Union Ministry of Rural Development under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, is found to be below average in Tamil Nadu.

So far, the State had utilised only 5 per cent of the funds allotted and the State had been asked to improve its performance.

Tamil Nadu is not the only State where the pace of utilisation is slow. Twelve other States were also pulled by the Centre for slow implementation. To improve the performance, the Union Government had released Rs. 205 lakh to these 13 States for imparting training for the scheme's functionaries.

The scheme is being implemented in six districts — Tiruvannamalai, Cuddalore, Sivaganga, Villupuram, Nagapattinam, and Dindigul.

A PIB release here said the Ministry released Rs. 98. 89 crore to Tamil Nadu for implementation of the scheme. Of this, only 5 per cent had been spent.

Social audit

Meanwhile, the Ministry is contemplating to involve experienced NGOs in social audit for the scheme and had drawn the attention of State Governments towards the mandatory requirement of having social audit on highest priority.

MTC receives 30 chassis

A total of 230 new buses will be available in the first phase

  • Yellow and Blue Line services planned
  • No vestibule buses in the latest lot
  • New buses will have poly-urethene paint

  • CHENNAI : The Metropolitan Transport Corporation has received 30 chassis, which are to be sent to various Transport Corporations , including its own unit in Chromepet.

    Fleet strength

    MTC sources said that as part of its efforts to increase the fleet strength, the Corporation would get a total of 230 new buses in the first phase and it has received the first lot of 30.

    All of them would be regular buses and there are no vestibule buses in the latest lot, the sources said.

    A total of 15 chassis have been sent to the MTC's bodybuilding unit at Chromepet, where the deluxe bus versions are being built.

    The remaining half in the first lot would be sent to the bodybuilding units of other State Transport Corporation services in Villupuram, Kancheepuram, Salem, Karur and Vellore. In order to complete the work quickly, the chassis are being sent to other corporations, they said.

    The new buses would be painted with poly-urethene paint, which does not fade easily.

    The duration for building the body for a bus depends on the availability of materials such as mild steel channels, angles and aluminium side sheets and tops.

    Once the materials are on hand, the bus can be rolled out in 30 days.

    However, in the present scenario, it would take a little longer to complete the bodybuilding works within a month as the arrival of required materials would take sometime, the sources said.

    In the existing conditions the new buses would roll out of the bodybuilding units in the first week of November only, the sources said.

    autonomy move in JIPMER

    JIPMER EMPLOYEES AND political party leaders opposed to the autonomy move court arrest on the Institute campus on September 20.

    THE Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), the pride of Puducherry, is at the centre of a controversy following an announcement on September 7 that the Union Cabinet had approved a proposal to alter the status and administrative set-up of the Institute, the oldest, and possibly one of the best, of its kind in the country. The proposal, which intends to convert JIPMER into "an autonomous institution through an Act of Parliament" with a view to bringing it "on a par with similarly placed institutions" such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi and the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, drew immediate responses. The employees protested against the move at an urgent meeting and announced their decision to go on an indefinite strike. The next day, nearly 2,000 of the 2,500 employees launched an agitation. While the nurses participated in full strength, the doctors kept off the strike.

    "The employees' protest was spontaneous," observed JIPMER Staff Struggle Committee (JSSC) general secretary R. Arochiam Kalaimathi. The convener of the JIPMER Anti-Conversion People's Committee (JACPC), representing a number of political parties and public organisations in the Union Territory, T. Murugan, also announced a series of agitations, which would culminate in a dawn-to-dusk bandh on September 26.

    Both Kalaimathi and Murugan assailed the government for attempting to rush through the proposal, without caring to consult the employees or members of the public, for whom it would have far-reaching implications. On September 20, the 13th day of the strike, the police arrested the striking employees, including Kalaimathi and Murugan.

    Critics of the move say it would not only rob JIPMER employees of their present status as Central government staff, but also deprive large sections of people of the free and efficient health care provided by the JIPMER hospital. (This is in contrast to the practice in the AIIMS and the PGIMER, which charge services by issuing Outpatient Ward entry tokens.) Besides the people of the Union Territory, the beneficiaries include poor patients who come to the hospital from Villupuram, Thiruvannamalai, Kanchipuram and Cuddalore districts in Tamil Nadu. Super speciality departments in the hospital attract patients even from Karnataka and Kerala.

    Critics of the proposal also say that autonomous status would lead to political intervention in the day-to-day administration of the Institute. They fear that JIPMER, which now provides quality medical education at affordable charges, may have to go in for steep fee hikes once it is forced to fend for itself. "Our boys and girls now get quality medical education paying a total fee of less than Rs.20,000 for the entire five-year course. Puducherry candidates also have a quota in the all-India merit-based selection by JIPMER," said Murugan, who is also a member of the Tamil Nadu State Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Some fear that even the quota for Puducherry may suffer. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and the Revolutionary Socialist Party are among the parties supporting the agitation.

    The move has been in the air for about eight years now. Interestingly, two Union Health Ministers, both from the Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Dalit Ezhilmalai (1998-99) and N.T. Shanmugam (1999-2000), in the two coalition governments headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had shown an interest in the proposal. But it did not reach any definite stage during their terms in office. (Incidentally, Villupuram district, which is under the sphere of influence of PMK founder-president S. Ramadoss, is close to the border of the Union Territory.)

    Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss also of the PMK, took up the initiative once again in March 2005 and has now succeeded in getting Cabinet approval for the plan. When Anbumani sought the support of political parties at an all-party meeting he convened at the Puducherry Secretariat, the Congress, the ruling party in the Union Territory, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, the principal Opposition party, and the two Left parties reportedly opposed the move. The Minister announced that he would continue his efforts towards a consensus. During the 2006 Assembly elections, Chief Minister N. Rangasamy insisted that no decision should be taken without consulting the people of Puducherry. He has not come out with any statement on the latest initiative.

    The origin of JIPMER can be traced to 1823, when the French rulers of Pondicherry (Puducherry) established a medical school named "Ecole de Medicine". In November 1956, the Government of India took over the school following the de facto transfer of Pondicherry. In July 1964, the college was upgraded as a regional centre and named Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research. JIPMER includes a tertiary care referral hospital with a bed strength of 1,200. On an average, 4,000 patients call at the Outpatient Ward every day.

    The September 7 press release on the Cabinet meeting simply said that the Union government would "soon" bring a Bill in Parliament and did not give any indication of the new administrative structure of the institution. Explaining the need for a change, it said that JIPMER, which is at present "an attached and subordinate office of the Director-General of Health Services [DGHS]", lacked, "in view of its status", financial power under the rules of the government. "The rules also do not provide for further delegation of powers. Therefore, for every major work - be it a construction/expansion of hospital buildings or residential quarters, renovation of wards, creation and filling up of Group "A" and "B" posts, the prior sanction and approval of the DGHS is required," the press release said.


    It asserted that autonomy would enable JIPMER to create an environment conducive to high standards of medical education. It would allow JIPMER to formulate its own policy for recruitment. "JIPMER will thereafter be able to create its own standards of medical education and research as is being done by AIIMS and PGIMER," the release said, adding: "An Act of Parliament will enable JIPMER to get the status of a University and not a deemed University. It will give more freedom and benefits to the institution in terms of better fund mobilisation and organisational development initiatives."

    The thrust of the proposal, therefore, is that the status of JIPMER will be elevated "on a par with the AIIMS and PGIMER" so that it is able to mobilise funds better after it is freed from government control. An academic said that the government seems to have proceeded on certain assumptions, such as that JIPMER's functioning needs to be toned up; that the institution must mobilise its own funds; and that the AIIMS, with its autonomous status, can serve as the role model. "That JIPMER needs elevation is indisputable, but the other assumptions are flawed," he said.

    The irony is that AIIMS is being projected as the role model for JIPMER at a time when the Delhi-based institute's reputation has reached its nadir. The havoc wrought by political interference in its functioning in the past three years is there for all to see. The strained relations between Ramadoss and AIIMS Director P. Venugopal (whose summary removal from service was stayed by the Delhi High Court) have only brought centre-stage the erosion of the AIIMS' autonomy over the years.

    There have been several instances to show that autonomy is only a tool used by the political establishment and the bureaucracy to protect and promote their own interests (Frontline, July 28). About 25 eminent Professors have reportedly left the AIIMS during the last three years. "Going by precedents," said a strike leader, "our fears that the Centre's move would only lead to frequent political interferences and reduce JIPMER to a centre of political power play are not ill-founded." "It is to be noted," said an academic, "that at no point of time had the faculty or, for that matter, anybody interested in the development of JIPMER, demanded autonomy for the institution." Even within the existing arrangement, the government could provide funds to improve its infrastructure and fill the 600-odd vacancies, he said.

    Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi member of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, D. Ravikumar, said any harm done to JIPMER would harm the poor and marginalised people in Tamil Nadu. He appealed to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to protect JIPMER.

    Special trains to Tiruchi, Bangalore

    Southern Railway will run the following special trains in order to clear the extra rush of passengers:

    Tiruchchirappalli - Chennai Egmore – Tiruchchirappalli Specials:

    Train No.0610 Tiruchchirappalli - Chennai Egmore Special will leave Tiruchchirappalli at 21.45 hrs on October 2 and arrive Chennai Egmore at 04.45 hrs the next day.

    In the return direction, Train No.0609 Chennai Egmore – Tiruchchirappalli Special will leave Chennai Egmore at 23.00 hrs on October 3 and arrive Tiruchchirappalli at 06.00 hrs the next day.

    The trains will stop at Srirangam, Ariyalur, Vriddhachalam, Villupuram, Chengalpattu and Tambaram, Train No. 0610 will stop at Mambalam also.

    The composition of the trains will be 2 AC 2-tier, 2 AC 3-tier, 10 Sleeper Class, 2 General Second Class and 2 luggage-cum-brake van coaches.

    Special trains between Chennai Central and Bangalore:

    Bangalore – Chennai Central – Bangalore Weekend Specials:

    Train No.0684 Bangalore – Chennai Central Weekend Special will leave Bangalore at 21.30 hrs on Fridays from October 6 to November 24 and arrive Chennai Central at 03.55 hrs the next day.

    Train No.0683 Chennai Central – Bangalore Weekend Special will leave Chennai Central at 23.30 hrs on Saturdays from October 7 to November 25 and arrive Bangalore at 05.55 hrs the next day.

    The composition of the trains will be 1 AC 2-tier, 2 AC 3-tier, 11 Sleeper Class, 3 General Second Class and 2 Luggage-cum-brake van coaches.

    The trains will stop at Bangalore Cantt, Krishnarajapuram, Whitefield, Bangarapet, Jolarpettai, Ambur, Katpadi and Arakkonam. T.No. 0684 will stop at Perambur also.

    Special train from Chennai Central to Coimbatore:

    Chennai Central – Coimbatore Special:

    Train No.0623 Chennai Central – Coimbatore Special will leave Chennai Central at 22.20 hrs on October 2 and arrive Coimbatore at 07.15 hrs the next day.

    The train will stop at Arakkonam, Katpadi, Jolarpettai, Salem, Erode and Tirupur.

    The composition of the train will be 1 AC 2-tier, 2 AC 3-tier, 10 Sleeper Class, 3 General Second Class and 2 Luggage-cum-brake van coaches.

    Advance reservation for the above trains commenced, according to a Southern Railway press release. (Our Correspondent)

    Southern Railway to install CCTV

    The Southern Railways has planned to install 'London-type' close circuit television cameras to monitor the platforms and entrance of all the divisional head quarters, SR General Manager Thomas Varghese said here today.

    "The cameras would be monitored round the clock by RPF personnel. The new system would also have the facility to retain three days' recordings, which would help to locate criminals in case of any blast incident or otherwise", he said.

    Varghese said the ongoing replacement of the distressed bridges and rails at select points had significantly reduced the number of accidents involving the Indian Railways.

    "There was not a single accident involving Southern Railways in the last 13 months", he added.

    He told reporters that the Railway had totally allotted Rs.17,000 crore for replacing the distressed bridges and the programme was expected to be completed this year.

    If it is not completed this year, it would be extended to next year and completed by March, 2008.

    The Railway's experiment with Panchayat Unions asking them to appoint and pay salary to a person to guard unmanned level crossing gates, did not work well as some Panchayats failed to pay salaries.

    He said there was a proposal to increase the average speed of the super fast trains from 56.5 km to 60 km per hour.

    The Southern Railway has planned to install National Train Enquiry System at Madurai, Dindigul, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin.

    Besides, there would be IVRS system at 10 more stations in the division that would help the passengers know the location of the trains. The unreserved ticketing system would also be commissioned at Kodairoad, Sattur, Rameswaram, Ramanathapuram and Paramakudi shortly.

    The coach guidance system using Global Positioning System would be introduced in Pandian and Pearl city express trains by which people would know the name of the station they were passing.

    The Railways has also planned to introduce IT-based facilities including cyber cafes under passenger amenities programme in Madurai station. The Union Minister for state for Railways, R Velu had sanctioned Rs.27 crore for increasing the passenger amenities in SR this year.

    Madurai division would get three model stations, including Dindigul, Kovilpatti and Virudhunagar under the programme.

    The introduction of low-cost airlines did not affect the Railways in any way and the number of passengers travelling by train has increased from Rs 23.4 crore to Rs 26.3 crore.

    The total earnings of the SR from April-September 20 this year has increased to Rs 1,400 crore from Rs.1,226 crore, reported the same period last year.

    He hoped the doubling of track between Madurai and Dindigul would be completed by March 2008 and this year the railway would be spending Rs.30 crore for the Rs.130-crore project.

    The electrification of Villupuram-Tiruchirappalli section would start immediately and the Central Organisation of Railway Electrification (CORE) would take up the work from Villupuram to Virudhachalam immediately. The work would be over by March 2008, he said. The BG conversion of Rameswaram-Manamadurai, Tiruchi- Karaikudi would be completed by 2007. The Tenkasi-Shencottah mixed-track work also would be completed by next year.

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