Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Ganja seized, 4 arrested

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 31: Acting on a tip-off a team of Cooch Behar Kotowali police station led by inspector-in-charge Mr Rajib Bhattacharjee nabbed four persons from Bhawal Morh area of Cooch Behar this morning. 30-kilogram dry ganja worth Rs 1.5-lakh was seized from their possession. Police said boarding in a car the four were going towards New Cooch Behar railway station. They had a plan to catch a train to go to Delhi to deliver the ganja there. Among the four two are residents of Mathabhanga and two of Suktabari, police said. Police are interrogating the nabbed four to ascertain their connection with any interstate drug peddler gang. []

Sankosh to Teesta padayatra starts

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 31: The 310-kilometre Sankosh to Teesta padayatra (march) organised by United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) started today. UTUC's central committee secretary Mr Abani Roy (MP) flagged off the padayatra at Shahid Baag of Sankosh Tea Estate in Dooars this morning. A colourful programme was also organised on the occasion.

 

Dooars Cha-Bagan Workers' Union (DCBWU) sources said that the padayatra being organised to highlight the situation of the closed and abandoned tea gardens of Dooars.

 

Representatives from 14 closed tea gardens participated in the padayatra. Alipurduar MP Mr Joachim Buxla, ex-minister Mr Dasharath Tirkey, Alipurduar MLA Mr Nirmal Das, Ms Kumari Kujur (MLA) and state UTUC secretary Mr Ashok Ghosh are too among the participants. The total number of participants is 203.

 

During the march to Jalpaiguri the participants will demand opening of closed and abandoned tea gardens of north Bengal, setting up of an office of Tea Board at Alipurduar, state government to take up the responsibility of the students of closed tea gardens, withdrawing of lease agreement of the closed and abandoned tea estates and punitive measures against the owners of the tea gardens who failed to extend basic amenities and all other facilities to their workers. The padayatra will end at Jalpaiguri on 9 August where the participants will submit a memorandum to the divisional commissioner, Jalpaiguri, Mr Behari Lal Meena.

 

UTUC leaders demanded that the Centre should not extend its Rs 2700-crore package for the benefit of tea garden owners only. The interest of the workers should also be kept in mind, they maintained. The state government should take all necessary steps to save the oldest industry of north Bengal. Only reopening of the closed and abandoned tea gardens can gear up the process to save the tea industry and the workers, a UTUC leader said. []

 

Flood situation improves in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 31: The overall flood situation has improved in Cooch Behar district. Water levels of all the major rivers are receding. Presently, the water levels of the rivers are flowing below the danger mark. District magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha said there were still a few relief camps operating in the district but the people started leaving to their places. No fresh warning of heavy rainfall arrived today, Mr Sinha added.

 

Cooch Behar District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh demanded a high-level inquiry into decaying of the embankments in every monsoon. He alleged that the 200-metre embankment of Kaljani at Baxir-kuthi Bhairaber-tari in Tufanganj-I block was constructed in last year. The embankment of Gadadhar river at Darikamari village in Natabari was also constructed with Rs 42-lakh. These two embankments were washed away within a year. Such an incident was occurred at Dawaguri too. He demanded arrest and punishment of the contractors and the officials concerned who were responsible for construction of the inferior embankments.

 

Submitting a memorandum to the additional district magistrate, Mr Ghosh alleged that Torsa might pose danger to the Cooch Behar Palace as well as entire Cooch Behar town. The town-saving dyke that was constructed in 1954 to save Cooch Behar town was never repaired since its construction. The government allots a huge sum of money every year to maintain the dyke but no work was done till now to maintain and renovate this dyke. Alleging misappropriation of fund he demanded inquiry into the matter.

 

Cooch Behar ADM Mr Pannalal Mahapatra said the members of business community and other organisations did come forward with relief materials including baby food and medicine. Industrial Federation of Cooch Behar (IFC) donated baby food for children of flood-affected families, said its secretary Mr Depak Mundra. Relief materials were distributed on behalf of Cooch Behar Municipality too among the distressed people today. []

 

Telephone exchange inaugurated

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 31: Cooch Behar DM Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha inaugurated the newly constructed Baburhat Telephone Exchange yesterday. A cultural programme performed by the students of Kendriya Vidyalaya and Government Blind School was also organised on the occasion at Kendriya Vidyalaya premises at Baburhat. Telephone district manager Mr MK Seth, KV principal Mr Dulal Chattopadhyay and other distinguished persons were present at the programme.

 

Mr Seth claimed that the new Baburhat Telephone Exchange would be able to cater better and faster STD service, better Internet service, less fault rate and easy access to the customers. []

Flood in Cooch Behar

 

It is the fate or destiny of Cooch Behar district as well as entire Dooars region of north Bengal to suffer from yearly floods and round-the-year river erosion. Flood is merely an issue to the political parties and it is evident from the fact that though the country got its Independence no permanent measures were taken yet to save the people and their properties from the annual calamity. No prolonged movement was ever organised to create pressure on the authorities to solve the problem.

 

Flood and river erosion are catchy topics of the media during the monsoon. Once the monsoon passes out no one takes any interest about these ordinary issues. Flood and river erosion bring opportunity to some contractors and their men in the government departments concerned to earn a lot of extra money every year. There are very few who questions why the embankments have a habit to wash out at the first few days of downpour every year. Why costly sandbags supplied during any breach of embankment go to the same river from where it was collected free of cost? And why promise to repair any damaged embankment never kept? There are such many questions but no one to give the right answer. Here we are presenting some flood pictures of Cooch Behar.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Flood situation grim in Cooch Behar, 4 dead

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 30: The overall flood situation is still grim in Cooch Behar district. Water level of all the major rivers is showing a rising trend from this noon. Additional district magistrate (general) of Cooch Behar Mr Pannalal Mahapatra said incessant downpour started at upper catchment areas of Bhutan and Sikkim from last night and following that the water level of the rivers were rising. Presently the water levels of the rivers are flowing a little below the danger mark. The ADM (G) said more than 1-lakh people were affected. About 30,000 flood-affected people are in the relief camps presently.

 

The floods claimed four lives in Cooch Behar district. This morning, an unidentified body of a man was recovered from the sandbank of Torsa at Madhupur. In Dooars the death toll is three till this afternoon.

 

A stretch of about 200-metre embankment of Gadadhar river at Darikamari village of Natabari in Tufanganj washed away last night. About 300 families were affected. The floodwater entered into the village and submerged about 3,000-bigha of farmland. Water is flowing over the Darikamari-Natabari road.

 

At Baxikuthi and Bhairaber-tari a 300-metre stretch of embankment was washed away yesterday. Ten dwelling houses were also washed away. About 1,000-acre farmland was affected by the floodwater. The area is a junction of three rivers – Kaljani, Gadadhar and Torsa. After visiting the area the president of district Trinamul Congress Mr Rabindra natha Ghosh alleged that the embankment was constructed last year with inferior quality of materials.

 

In another incident a 200-metre embankment of Torsa at Dakshin Dawaguri was washed away. The swelling river grabbed the graveyard of the area. Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad sabhadhipati Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda reviewed the flood situation in a meeting today. He instructed the irrigation division officials to repair the damaged embankments in war footing.

 

The situation of many areas in Tufanganj and Cooch Behar Sadar sub-divisions is still alarming. Two villages of Gitaldaha near Indo-Bangladesh border in Dinhata - Daribash and Jaridharla – are still lying disconnected by floodwater of Dharala river.

 

After visiting a number of flood-affected areas the district Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh demanded and high-level inquiry into diminishing of the embankments in every monsoon. He demanded arrest and punishment of the contractors and the officials concerned who were responsible for construction of the inferior embankments. He distributed relief materials among the distressed people yesterday and today.

 

ADM (G) Mr Mahapatra said that he sought help from the business community and other organisations for relief materials including baby food, medicines and water purifying materials. Meanwhile, Industrial Federation of Cooch Behar (IFC) donated baby food for 2,000 children today, said its secretary Mr Depak Mundra.

 

Rapist held

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 30: A man named Bimal Barman was arrested for raping an 8-year-old deaf-and-dumb girl at Kachamari village in Cooch Behar yesterday. Incidentally, the victim is a friend of the accused' daughter and he took that opportunity to commit the crime. Police sent the arrested man to the court today. []

 

Mahajot wins

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 30: Mahajot of Congress, Trinamul Congress and BJP won another Gram Panchayat in Cooch Behar. The Baneswar Gram Panchayat was a CPI-M dominated body with Ms Rina Ray as the pradhan. In the recent by-election Trinamul Congress candidates defeated two CPI-M candidates. Now the position of the parties are : Trinamul Congress – 3, BJP – 1, Congress – 5 and CPI-M – 7. Today, Congress candidate Ms Bina Ray won the pradhan's post by 9-7 votes. []

 

Timber seized

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 30: Acting on a tip-off Cooch Behar social forestry division officials seized sawn teakwood worth Rs 60,000 and arrested two persons from Rajarhat area yesterday. DFO (SF) Mr Apurba Sen and ADFO (SF) Mr SK Baroi led the operation. The arrested men were sent to court today. Mr Baroi said they seized two sawmills from Gouranga Bazar and Ghoksadanga a few days ago. Legal action was initiated against the owners of the illegal sawmills, he said. []

Sunday, 29 July 2007

1-lakh affected, 3 dead in floods in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 29: Water level of almost all rivers in Cooch Behar district is still flowing over danger levels. Water level of rivers like Kaljani, Raidak, Sankosh and Gadadhar is showing a rising trend. Yellow danger signal is still over the major rivers like Teesta, Torsa and Mansai. Though this district is still under "high flood situation" the situation is improving, officials claimed. Six blocks out of twelve in Cooch Behar district were affected by the flood situation.

 

State food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary claimed that about one-lakh people of this district were affected in the flood situation. He assured that there would be no dearth of relief for the flood-affected people. Arrangements will be made to meet the additional demand of kerosene, he added.

 

The flood situation took its toll in Cooch Behar yesterday. Cooch Behar DM Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha admitted that the floods claimed three lives yesterday. One Sahidul Islam (24) was drowned in swelling Torsa river at Damodarpur village under Takagachh Rajarhat Gram Panchayat in Cooch Behar Sadar sub-division at noon. In another incident one Sudhir Barman (50) was drowned in Mansai river at Paradubi village under Mathabhanga-II block on yesterday afternoon. Nripendra Barman (52) of Khagrabari Gram Panchayat area was washed away in overflowed Torsa last night.

 

A high level meeting was held at Cooch Behar over the flood situation today. Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad sabhadhipati Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda, state food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary, district magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha and others were present at the meeting. The CZP sabhadhipati said that Rs 2-crore was sought from the chief minister's relief fund to meet the flood situation.  

 

A few thousand distressed people took shelter both at government relief camps and highlands. Cooch Behar DM Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha said more than seventy-five relief camps were set up at different flood affected areas. Considering the gravity of the situation one Additional District Magistrate was deployed in each of the five sub-divisions to supervise rescue and relief operations, the DM said. He also said that the situation of some areas in Tufanganj sub-division was causing anxiety afresh today.

 

The rainfall recorded in the last 24 hours at Cooch Behar is 65.60-mm, at Tufanganj it is 30.80-mm and at Mathabhanga it is 10.60-mm. Total rainfall recorded in this season in Cooch Behar is 1547.10-mm, in Tufanganj 2045.50-mm and in Mathabhanga 1608.40-mm, Flood Control Room sources said today.

 

Following raise of water level in Raidak the flood situation worsened in villages like Rampur, Falimari, Jaldhoa and Baro-laukuthi near the Assam-West Bengal border. A few hundred families lying marooned in areas like Deocharai, Chilakhana, Balarampur, Notafela, Gitaldaha and Haldibari. It was reported that a section of about 100-metre of an embankment of Kaljani at Baxikuthi of Deocharai was washed away.

 

At Jorsimuli village under Kedarhat Gram Panchayat area in Mathabhanga 500 families turned marooned by floodwater. In Cooch Behar-II block, overflowed water of Torsa marooned about 500 families. Erosion also started to make the situation worse. About 50 dwelling residences were damaged due to erosion at Karisal village.

  

Following the flood situation the district authorities alerted all the residents of the villages adjacent to the rivers in protected and unprotected areas. All the SDOs, BDOs and others concerned were also advised by the district administration to keep constant watch on the situation. []

 

FB lifts bandh call

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 29: Forward Bloc withdrew its 12-hour bandh call over hawker issue that was to be observed on 2 August. State committee member of Forward Bloc Mr Udayan Guha claimed that the district magistrate assured them today that the demand for rehabilitation for the footpath hawkers would be considered. Following this assurance they lifted the bandh call, Mr Guha said. []

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Flood claims two lives in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 28: The ongoing flood situation started taking its toll in Cooch Behar today. One Sahidul Islam (24) got drowned in swelling Torsa river at Damodarpur village under Takagachh Rajarhat Gram Panchayat in Cooch Behar Sadar sub-division this noon. He was reportedly going to take shelter at a safer place leaving the waterlogged village when the river water washed away him. In another incident one Sudhir Barman (50) was drowned in Mansai river at Paradubi village under Mathabhanga-II block this afternoon. The body is still missing. Search operation is on to recover his body.

 

Following incessant downpour at the upper catchment areas and on the plains water level of different rivers is still flowing over the danger mark in Cooch Behar district. Yellow danger signal has been flashed on Mansai, Sankosh, Raidak, Jaldhaka, Teesta and Torsa. There is still a rising trend of water level in the rivers that are flowing through this district. It is feared that if the downpour continues at upper catchment areas, the water levels of all the major rivers would cross the Red danger mark very soon.

 

At Jorsimuli village under Kedarhat Gram Panchayat area in Mathabhanga 500 families turned marooned by flood water and they failed to come out to safer places. District administration sought Army's co-operation to rescue them. District magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha rushed to the spot this afternoon. In Cooch Behar-II block, overflowed water of Torsa marooned about 500 families. Erosion also started to make the situation worse. About 50 dwelling residences were damaged due to erosion at Karisal village.

 

About 50,000 people of six blocks in Cooch Behar district were affected by the flood situation. A few thousand distressed people took shelter both at government relief camps and highlands. Cooch Behar DM Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha said more than fifty relief camps were set up at different areas where about 10,000 flood-affected people took shelter.

 

The rising trend of water level of Torsa is causing concern to the residents of the nearby villages and also of Cooch Behar town. Seeing the water level's rapid rising trend a large number of dwellers of char-land of Torsa adjacent to Cooch Behar town started taking shelter on the town-saving dyke.

 

The rainfall recorded in the last 24 hours at Cooch Behar is 54.60-mm, at Tufanganj it is 153.80-mm and at Mathabhanga it is 48.80-mm. Total rainfall recorded in this season in Cooch Behar is 1481.50-mm, in Tufanganj 2014.70-mm and in Mathabhanga 1597.80-mm. A warning for more heavy rainfall during the next 24-hours reached at the district head quarter today.

  

Following the flood like situation the authorities alerted all the residents of the villages adjacent to the rivers in protected and unprotected areas in this district. All the SDOs, BDOs and others concerned were alerted by the district administration to keep constant watch on the situation. They were instructed to get ready with rescue operation facilities and relief materials including tarpaulin sheets and dry foods. []

 

Friday, 27 July 2007

Flood like situation in Cooch Behar : Red signal over Mansai, yellow on other rivers

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 27: Due to incessant downpour at the upper catchment areas and on the plains, the water levels of all the major rivers are rising in Cooch Behar district, causing concern to the residents of the villages near the rivers. Three blocks in this district are affected from the flood like situation. A few hundred dwelling houses were damaged and more than four hundred families were shifted to safer places.

 

Officials of all concerned departments were asked to ensure availability of their staff and officers at respective headquarters. District magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha issued an order today asking all officers not to leave their headquarters during the ongoing monsoon period without prior permission of the DM.

 

As the water levels of the rivers are rising, Red signal was imposed on Mansai at Mathabhanga upto Indo-Bangladesh border at 1-30 a.m. last night. Yellow signal was imposed on Sankosh at Tufanganj, Teesta at Mekhliganj and Torsa at Hasimara, according to Flood Control room sources at Cooch Behar.

 

Due to continuous downpour for the last ten days the lower areas of Cooch Behar turned water logged. Normal life was disrupted in Cooch Behar town. Seeing the water level's rising trend a large number of dwellers of sandbank of Torsa adjacent to Cooch Behar town started shifting on the town-saving embankment as they did in previous years. A warning for more heavy rainfall during the next 24-hours reached at the district head quarter today. It is feared that if the downpour continues for a few more days, the water levels of other rivers would cross the danger mark.

 

Following the flood like situation all the residents of the villages adjacent to the rivers in protected and unprotected areas were alerted about the rising water levels of the rivers by the authorities. All the five Sub-divisional Officers, the BDOs of the twelve blocks and others concerned were alerted by the district administration to keep constant watch on the situation. They were asked to be ready with rescue facilities and relief materials including tarpaulin sheets and dry foods.

 

District magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha visited Saldanga and other flood-affected areas in Tufanganj sub-division today. The flood like situation affected four hundred families, he said. The most affected areas are Sitai block, Saldanga and Daspara in Tufanganj-II block and Char Balabhut in Tufanganj-I block, the DM said. He ordered distribution of relief materials among the affected people and rescuing of the people from water logged areas. Mr Sinha also visited the condition of the flood shelters and reviewed rescue systems today.

 

The rainfall recorded in the last 24 hours at Cooch Behar is 23.50-mm, at Tufanganj it is 26.60 mm and at Mathabhanga it is 57.40-mm. Total rainfall recorded in this season in Cooch Behar is 1426.90-mm, in Tufanganj 1860.90-mm and in Mathabhanga 1549-mm. []

 

Bandh call on hawker issue

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 27: The SUCI and the CPI-ML (Liberation) offered their support to the 12-hour bandh called by the Forward Bloc on 2 August. The Forward Bloc called the bandh against the indiscriminate hawker eviction drive and demanding a permanent solution on the hawker issue.

 

SUCI leader Mr Kajal Chakraborty demanded finding of a way out of the hawker problem by opening talks with hawkers' representatives. The footpath hawkers should be allowed to run their businesses at the places from where they were evicted, he demanded. He also asked the administration, civic body and the police to stop evicting hawkers forcibly. []

Red signal over Mansai, yellow on other rivers

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 27: Due to incessant downpour at the upper catchment areas and on the plains, the water levels of all the major rivers are rising in Cooch Behar district, causing concern to the residents of the villages near the rivers. The water levels of Mansai at Mathabhanga, Torsa at Hasimara, Sankosh at Tufanganj and Teesta at Mekhliganj already crossed the danger mark. Red signal was imposed on Mansai at Mathabhanga upto Indo-Bangladesh on last night. Yellow signal was imposed on Sankosh at Tufanganj, Teesta at Mekhliganj and Torsa at Hasimara, according to Flood Control room sources at Cooch Behar.

 

Due to continuous downpour for the last ten days the lower areas of Cooch Behar turned water logged. Normal life was disrupted in Cooch Behar town. A warning for more heavy rainfall during the next 24-hours reached at the district head quarter today. It is feared that if the downpour continues for a few more days, the water levels of other rivers would cross the danger mark.

 

All the residents of the villages adjacent to the rivers in protected and unprotected areas were alerted about the rising water levels of the rivers by the authorities. All the five Sub-divisional Officers, the BDOs of the twelve blocks and others concerned were alerted by the district administration to keep strict watch on the situation. They were asked to be ready with rescue facilities and relief materials including tarpaulin sheets and dry foods. Already a few affected families were shifted to safer areas at Sitai, official sources said.

 

The rainfall recorded in the last 24 hours at Cooch Behar is 23.50-mm, at Tufanganj it is 26.60 mm and at Mathabhanga it is 57.40-mm. Total rainfall recorded in this season in Cooch Behar is 1426.90-mm, in Tufanganj 1860.90-mm and in Mathabhanga 1549-mm. []

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Though sanctioned no beds in health centre

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 26: Silbarihat Primary Health Centre in Alipurduar of Jalpaiguri district got the required approval about one year ago to run it as a ten bedded health centre but no bed was introduced here till now. Moreover, there is only one doctor to look after this health centre.

 

It was learnt that the state health department had sanctioned ten beds to Silbarihat Primary Health Centre in August last year. This centre is suffering from shortage of personnel and medical instruments. There are a doctor, a compounder and two nurses at the health centre to keep it functional. More than fifty thousand people of four Gram Panchayat areas of Alipurduar-1 block – Patlakhawa, Kathalbari, Salkumar-1 and Salkumar-2 – are dependant on this health centre.

 

As there is no indoor department the villagers have to rush to Falakata Rural Hospital or Alipurduar Sub-divisional Hospital with their patients in acute cases. Falakata is at a distance of about 12-kilometre from here while Alipurduar is 24-kilometre. It is hard for the villagers to carry their patients at emergency in night to shift them to Falakata or Alipurduar by rickshaw-vans.

 

The situation is still unchanged though the state health department approved ten beds to this health centre in August last year. It is very hard for the lone doctor of this centre to offer medical service to the patients coming from adjacent villages. Patients can get medicines for common diseases like ordinary fever or stomach disorders from here. Locals are getting aggrieved day by day but no visible initiative was taken to introduce the proposed beds or to improve the infrastructure of health service.

 

When inquired, health department officials in Alipurduar-1 block assured that initiative was taken to add the sanctioned ten beds in the health centre to launch the indoor department very soon. The health centre may also get an additional doctor to serve the people of the locality, the sources added. []

Govt farm workers' convention

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 26: Cooch Behar district unit of Pashchimbanga Sarkari Krishi Khamar Mazdoor Samity (PSKKMS) organised its district convention based on six-point of demands at Karmachari Bhavan in Cooch Behar today. Later, they submitted a memorandum containing the six-point charter of demands to the district magistrate.

 

District Left Front convenor Mr Chandi Pal, state co-ordination committee's district secretary Mr Pulak Kanti Biswas, joint convenor of 12 July Committee Mr Samyabrata Ray, district DYFI secretary Mr Mahananda Saha and other leaders spoke at the convention. District PSKKMS secretary Mr Nitai Chandra Pandit tabled the draft proposal at the convention.

 

At the convention the speakers demanded proper functioning of government seed farms and improvement of seed distribution system among the cultivators. They mentioned that there were 114 permanent farm workers out of 172 posts in nine seed farms in Cooch Behar district. They alleged that fifty percent cultivable land in the government farms was lying unused and no initiative was taken to modernise the infrastructures of these farms. These nine government farms are suffering from gross indifference, they alleged. The PSKKMS leaders warned that they would no more allow this situation in the greater interest of agriculture sector and the farmers. []

 

Mahajot brings Cong to power

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 26: By forming a mahajot (greater alliance) Congress won the post of pradhan in Ambari Gram Panchayat in Cooch Behar-2 block today. Mysteriously they secured a left vote too.

 

There are 14 seats in Ambari GP. The position of the parties is : CPI-M – 6, Forward Block – 1, Congress – 5, Trinamul Congress – 1 and BJP – 1. After the recent death of the CPI-M pradhan Dalendra Nath Ray the post turned vacant. Meanwhile, Congress called for a mahajot to drive away CPI-M from power. Today, election for the post of pradhan was held and the mahajot won by 8-5 votes. Another Mr Dalendra Nath Ray (Congress) was elected as the new pradhan of the GP.

 

General secretary of Cooch Behar District Congress Mr Sudha Ranjan Mukherjee said they won by forming the mahajot with Trinamul Congress and BJP. A left vote too came in favour of the mahajot candidate and it indicates that the people want change. Welcoming the outcome District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said their leader Miss Mamata Bannerjee was the first who called for the importance of a mahajot to pull down the CPI-M and it proved its worth at Ambari today. On the otherhand both CPI-M and Forward Bloc separately denied of any "sabotage" done by their men. Probes would be conducted to find out the truth behind the "unexpected" result, they said. []

Dropout problem deepens in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 26: The number of dropout school children is getting higher in Cooch Behar district. Though a large fund was allotted under Sarva Siksha Mission (SSM) scheme for lowering the number of dropouts, the required initiative to bring back the children to the schools is yet to start.

 

It was learnt that the number of dropouts in primary and upper primary levels is increasing. There are 1820 primary schools and 264 upper primary schools in Cooch Behar district. Earlier, a plan was adopted to bring back the dropouts to the schools at the beginning of the session to draw an end to the problem. The ongoing academic session began a few months ago but the plan is yet to be translated to reality. The SSM fund is being utilised for awareness programmes and trainings for the villagers and personnel concerned. This programme is expected to be completed by September.

 

A meeting was held last week to discuss the dropout problem and to find out ways to bring back the students to the academic arena. District Project Officer of SSM Mr Dipankar Pal, chairman of District Primary School Council (DPSC) Md Nuruddin Mian and other officials concerned were present at that meeting. Following the decision adopted at the meeting the Village Education Committees (VECs) were entrusted to identify the dropout children and prepare a fresh list of them. After preparation of the list the SSM will start a fresh drive to bring back the dropout students to the schools. There is also another plan under consideration to offer residential schooling system for the children of poor families to stop an end to the dropout problem, a SSM official said.

 

SSM sources said that there are about 69,000 students in this district who left their schools during the last academic session. The number of dropouts in primary schools was about 24,000 and that in upper primary schools was about 45,000. They had to leave schools due to different reasons including dire poverty. It was not possible for the authorities concerned to bring back them to the regular school education system. The problem is deepening.

 

Since the required action is yet to start to minimise the dropout problem it is feared that it would not be successful during this academic session too. DPSC sources claimed that work was on to ensure bringing back the dropout children with the fund extended under the SSM scheme. SSM officials too echoed the claim and said the SSM scheme to get the dropout children back to schools was going on. The programme may be completed by September, it claimed. []

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Kamal Guha stable

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 25: The physical condition of veteran Forward Bloc leader Mr Kamal Guha is a bit better today. He is now in the ICU of a private nursing home in Cooch Behar. His family physician Dr Bidyut Kamal Saha said Mr Guha's condition was stable today. No fresh problem occurred. The breathing trouble is also lesser than yesterday. "We are expecting the outcome of the check-up to be done by a senior cardiologist Dr Subhas Saha here. After that, if necessary, Mr Guha may be flown to Kolkata for better treatment", Dr Saha said. Mr Guha ate boiled rice today. Now he is not taking oxygen round-the-clock.

 

It may be mentioned here that the Forward Bloc's Bangla Committee chairman and former agriculture minister Mr Kamal Guha was shifted from Dinhata to a private nursing home in Cooch Behar on yesterday afternoon. He was suffering from cardiac and breathing problems. Mr Guha was in a private nursing home in his hometown Dinhata under Dr Bidyut Kamal Saha since 17 July. He was recovering there but suddenly his condition turned critical yesterday and so he was shifted to Cooch Behar. []

CPM to counter Mamata's rally

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 25: The women wing of the CPI-M, Pashchimbanga Ganatantrik Mahila Samity will organise a massive rally at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar on 2 September to counter the Trinamul Congress rally that is scheduled to be held on the previous day. Miss Mamata Bannerjee is to address that rally.

 

A few days ago Trinamul Congress announced that Miss Bannerjee would address a gathering at Shitalkuchi on 1 September. The gathering will be held to stage protest against the "forcible cremation" of a girl that was allegedly occurred at Dakshin Nalgram village of Sitalkuchi in Mathabhanga sub-division on 22 June. It may be recalled that Ms Sonali Guha (MLA), a close confidant of the firebrand leader visited that village with other leaders of the party on 30 June. They had submitted a detailed report to Miss Bannerjee. It is believed that after reviewing that report she agreed to attend a protest rally at Sitalkuchi to demand high-level inquiry into the gruesome incident and arrest of all the seven accused that are stated to be CPI-M activists.

 

Cooch Behar district CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal said today that they would organise a women's gathering at Sitalkuchi on 2 September to give a fitting reply to the false allegations and spreading of scandals against CPI-M leaders and activists. He alleged that Trinamul Congress was trying to malign the image of the CPI-M by vilifying some CPI-M men of Sitalkuchi block over the baseless "forcible cremation" issue. Terming the leadership of the party as aimless he said that Trinamul Congress was suffering from lack of political issues and so they took up the natural death of a sick girl as their issue to organise movement. It is nothing but a bid to destabilise the peaceful situation of this district, Mr Pal alleged.

 

On the otherhand, Cooch Behar District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said no one could ever able to suppress an act of sin. When people expect the members of Mahila Samity (of the CPI-M) to stand by the victims of rape and torture they were engaged in offering shelters to the offenders. These shameless people should form a party of rapists and villains, a sarcastic Mr Ghosh said. "We will not get away from our programme of 1 September because we cannot betray the oppressed poor people", he maintained. []

Hawkers' demand

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 25: Cooch Behar district unit of Sangrami Hawkers' Union demanded hawkers' representation during all meetings over the footpath hawkers' problem in Cooch Behar. SHU leader Md Mintu Ahmed said the administration started a drive to evict hawkers from the footpaths from June in the name of beautification of the town. That drive turned into a conspiracy to snatch the livelihood of poor hawkers, he alleged.

 

The SHU leader opined that without representation of hawkers no meeting would be fruitful to solve the ongoing problem. He suggested the authorities concerned to follow the Kolkata Municipal Corporation's steps in this regard.

 

Today, the SHU submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate in Cooch Behar. In that memorandum they mentioned some demands aiming to solve the hawker-problem permanently.

 

Mr Ahmed said the civic body and the district administration were considering a plan to allow hawkers to continue their business through mobile vans. But certain businesses like hair-cutting saloons, repairing of rickshaws and bicycles, signboard making and painting, small eateries and tailoring shops cannot be run on such vans regularly. These type of hawkers is about sixty-percent. "It is not possible to consider anything leaving these helpless people beyond the purview of the proposal", he said.

 

In the SHU memorandum they demanded demarcation of one-third of the footpath to allow them to run their businesses and formation of a supervising committee with hawkers' representatives in it. They also demanded allowing the affected hawkers to continue their businesses from the places from where they were evicted. []

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Kamal Guha serious

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 24: Veteran forward Bloc leader and former agriculture minister Mr Kamal Guha was shifted from Dinhata to a private nursing home in Cooch Behar this afternoon. His family physician Dr Bidyut Kamal Saha said Mr Guha was suffering from cardiac problems. He has breathing problems too. Dr Saha said Mr Guha was in a private nursing home in his hometown (Dinhata) since 17 July. He was recovering till yesterday and was under observation before release. But suddenly his condition turned serious and so he was shifted to Cooch Behar today. He is now in the Intensive Care Unit under Dr Falguni Das, Dr Saha said.

 

Hearing the physical condition of Mr Guha a large number of people gathered in front of the nursing home this afternoon but no one was allowed to meet him. His son Mr Udayan Guha is expected to reach Cooch Behar from Kolkata tomorrow. []

ABECA demands stop to power cut

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 24: Cooch Behar district unit of All Bengal Electricity Consumers' Association (ABECA) has started a movement in this district in support of different demands in the interest of power consumers. As a part of their movement they organised a rally in front of the office of the divisional manager of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) in Cooch Behar yesterday. They also submitted a memorandum containing a 13-point charter of demands to the divisional manager.

 

Secretary of ABECA's Cooch Behar district unit Mr Kajal Chakraborty said today that power cut became a regular feature. It occurs every now and then without any prior notice causing difficulties to students, businessmen and all other electricity consumers. He demanded immediate measures to stop power cut.

 

Mr Chakraborty said the WBSEDCL and all other power distribution companies made an appeal to increase electricity tariff for 2007-08 fiscal year. Following its claim the WBSEDCL reaped a profit to the tune of Rs 300-crore and so there should not be any reason to increase the tariff once again. It will only put additional burdens on the consumers, he opined.

 

Mr Chakraborty said ABECA wants Rs 10 only should be charged as rental for meters in agricultural sector. The proposal for hike in meter rent should be ignored and the consumers should be allowed to buy their own meters according to their choice. He hoped that power consumers from every walk of life would come forward to support the movement that ABECA initiated in the greater interest of consumers. []
Three "militants" arrested

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 24: Cooch Behar Kotowali Police yesterday arrested three persons who posing as militants tried to extort money from a businessman. The trio were produced in the court today and were remanded in police custody for three days.

 

Police said a local businessman of Baneswar named Mr Krishna Sarkar received a threat letter written in both Bengali and Assamese on 1 July. In the letter the senders demanded Rs 8-lakh from him. They claimed themselves as men of Tiger Force. Later he got a phone call too, by which the caller threatened him to part the money immediately otherwise he will have to face dire consequences. The caller even threatened him of abduction of his son. After receiving the letter and the threat call Mr Sarkar became panicky and leaving Baneswar he took shelter at Alipurduar for a few days.

 

Getting back to Baneswar Mr Sarkar disclosed the matter to the inspector-in-charge of Cooch Behar Kotowali Police Station Mr Rajib Bhattacharya yesterday. During inquiry the police found that the phone call came from a public call office in Baneswar. Police started keeping vigil on that PCO and when three persons came there to make a call to Mr Sarkar they were nabbed immediately. They were identified as Amal Ray, Shankar Dey and Ameer Khan. All are residents of Baneswar. Among the nabbed three, Amal was once worked as a driver of Mr Sarkar. Amal visited the trader's residence even after he received the threat letter. Police is interrogating the three men to ascertain whether they are actually connected with any militant outfit. []

 

PHOTO : Nabbed "militants" being interrogated at Kotowali police station. In Cooch Behar on Tuesday.

Demand for Central University at Alipurduar

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 24: Eminent citizens and different organisations are trying to woo the government to establish the proposed Central University at Alipurduar. State chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee recently declared that the proposed university may come up in Jalpaiguri district but he is yet to mention the actual site for it. His utterance inspired many to demand the university at Alipurduar.

 

Though the CPI-M is still to clarify its stand, its ally in the Left Front – Revolutionary Socialist Party – already started a movement over the issue. All the frontal organisations of RSP are demanding setting up of the proposed university at Alipurduar.

 

Alipurduar MLA Mr Nirmal Das, who is also a senior leader of the RSP, said Alipurduar is a backward zone in north Bengal and so the proposed university should be established here for the benefit of numerous students of Dooars and adjacent areas to provide them with the opportunity of higher education.

 

Mr Das argued that North Bengal University is the lone university for the 1.80-crore people of six districts of north Bengal. Dooars is a region where people of fifty-four linguistic varieties reside. Alipurduar is situated at the heart of Dooars and so the proposed Central University should be launched here, he opined.

 

On behalf of All India Progressive Students' Union, Mr Ramkumar Lama said the North Bengal University is at a distance of 50-kilometre only from Jalpaiguri town. Another university should not be come up on its vicinity. Alipurduar is the ideal place for the proposed university, he opined. Not only the students of Dooars but also the students of neighbouring areas will be benefited if the university comes up at Alipurduar, he maintained.

 

Alipurduar MLA Mr Das appealed to the chief minister to declare Alipurduar as the site of the new Central University as early as possible to wind up all speculations and controversies fuming over it. []

Monday, 23 July 2007

Tension at Kumargramduar

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 23: Following recovery of four bombs from Choudhurighat of Uttar Haldibari in Kumargramduar block under Alipurduar yesterday the locals turned panicky fearing fresh trouble in the region.

 

It may be mentioned here that four bombs were recovered from Choudhurighat on the bank of Sankosh river yesterday. Intelligence wing personnel of the Army recovered the bombs packed in an abandoned shopping bag. Alipurduar ASP Mr KB Dorjee and other senior officials rushed to the spot and the area was cordoned off. Later, bomb disposal squad men from Criminal Investigation Department came from Siliguri and after examining those bombs they defused those explosives. They reportedly observed that the bombs were not of very high powered.

 

It was suspected that persons connected with outlawed outfits like KLO brought in the bombs to use these for subversive activities prior to the Independence Day. During investigation the intelligence personnel reportedly came to know that two persons had left the most ordinary looking bag on the riverbank before crossing the river by that ferry-ghat. They are not winding up the connection of the ULFA with these bombs because the outfit's Raising Day is on the corner.

 

As no agency is releasing any information about the bombs and the men behind these, suspicion is growing high among the people. The place from where the bombs were recovered is not far from Bhutan and Assam borders and such a location is obviously fuelling various doubts. At the same time it is very hard for anyone to do any crime because of presence of huge paramilitary forces in the nearby areas. And so the question is : Who done it? []   

 

Choudhurihat bandh

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 23: A 24-hour bandh was observed at Choudhurihat in Dinhata today. The CPI-M has called the bandh demanding strict action against gamblers. The bandh was however passed off peacefully.

 

It was learnt that some local miscreants assaulted one Mr Upen Barman, a CPI-M activist, last night. CPI-M sources at Dinhata said that Mr Barman was leading a movement against gambling in the area for a long. Recently police conducted a raid at Choudhurihat and that caused trouble for the gamblers. Suspecting Mr Barman's presence behind the raid some gamblers allegedly assaulted Mr Barman yesterday. Following that incident the CPI-M called today's bandh. []

The Statesman


The enclave problem~II
 
By Brendan Whyte

What can India and Bangladesh learn from these foreign enclave cases? They have three main options. The worst is to maintain the status quo, each country refusing to properly govern its own enclaves while also forbidding the other to govern its enclaves across the intervening territory. This "dog-in-the-manger" attitude has reduced the enclaves to poverty and despair, countenanced violence and oppression, fostered corruption, and encouraged the problems of criminal dens and drug-cultivation in the enclaves.
The second option is an enclave exchange. Inhabitants should be given two independent options concerning citizenship and relocation. For up to two years after the enclave exchange, they should have the option to choose whether to retain their current citizenship or to become citizens of the other country. They should also have the independent option to remain owning and farming the land they occupy after its transfer to the other country, or of being resettled on land of equivalent value, size and productive capacity in their original country.

Dual nationality

There is no reason why they should not be able to choose to stay in situ and retain their old citizenship, nor why they could not hold both citizenships: dual nationality is an increasingly common occurrence worldwide.
The problems with this policy include a requirement for equivalent land for the resettlement of those wishing to relocate, and the need for each country to recognise the inhabitants of its enclaves as its own citizens before exchange. An imbalance in the numbers on each side desiring resettlement will cause difficulties. But it would only repeat the injustices of the 1947 Partition if an exchange was made without addressing the needs of the enclave inhabitants, and allowing them some input into the process. The enclaves also form the world's most complicated boundary, and include the world's only counter-counter-enclave: so another problem with exchange is heritage loss. Finally, an exchange of enclaves is also an admittance of failure.
Enclave exchange will remove a cartographic anomaly but it will not solve the underlying tensions in bilateral relations. The enclaves are not a problem in themselves but are simply a focus point for distrust and tension created elsewhere. Exchange may not improve the lives of the chhit mahalis, who may end up marginalised, landless and dispossessed by the exchange process. Even if able to remain on their lands, they will still be living in an economically and politically peripheral location. Therefore any exchange should be entered into only with the will of, and in full consultation with, the people involved, so as not to become a further injustice.
A third policy is to retain the enclaves but improve their situation. The 30 enclaves of Belgium and the Netherlands at Baarle, along with other enclaves of Europe and the Middle East, are a good model for this. The advantages are many. It would put the enclave dwellers in charge of their own destiny, leaving them on their lands, but able to engage fully as citizens of their own country.
The distances between each country and its own enclaves are small, often less than one kilometre, rarely more than two or three. Designated access routes, for foot, cart and motorised traffic, could be easily set up and policed. This would allow enclave dwellers to traverse the intervening country to reach the nearest schools and markets of their own country. The local district commissioners should be granted authority to meet frequently and at will to discuss any problems and work out local solutions, without having to refer to New Delhi or Dhaka. Officials such as teachers, doctors, district officials, electoral officers, census enumerators and police should also be permitted visa-free access on demand. Which country's currency, excise laws, and postal system, electricity and other services are used in an enclave should be based on principles of efficiency, not on chauvanistic nationalism.
There is no reason why exchange of enclaves for customs and excise purposes made in the 1930s could not be readopted. Indian enclaves could be alcohol-free like surrounding Bangladesh, and Bangladeshi enclaves could be prohibited from slaughtering cows as in India. This is no more a threat to the sovereignty of either country than is the differing alcohol and tax regimes of the Indian states and territories. The unique border situation of the enclaves would encourage tourism to this forgotten region in both countries, offering new economic possibilities to an area devoid of industrial capability and development.

Economic potential

India and Bangladesh are not alone in wrestling with the problem of enclaves. Similar problems have been solved in most other enclaves around the world. The long-delayed exchange of the Cooch Behar enclaves, mooted since 1910 and agreed upon in 1958 may simplify the border itself, but it is unlikely to improve bilateral relations, assist economic development of the area or improve the lives of the enclave dwellers. The needs and desires of the chhit-mahalis must be taken into account, but action must be taken to remove their current effective statelessness. The examples of successful enclaves elsewhere in the world suggest that even if relations between two countries are not completely harmonious, enclaves can exist and be beneficial to the economic potential of the area and the prosperity of its inhabitants. These two aspects are the raison d'etre of government, hence it behoves the governments concerned to ensure that any solution to the enclave problem addresses these issues and not merely cartographic simplification, which may only cement the 1947 division more firmly.

(Concluded)

Mamata to visit north Bengal to fuel tea stir

 

COOCH BEHAR, July 23: Trinamul Congress chief Miss Mamata Bannerjee plans visiting north Bengal to fuel the demand for reopening of the closed and abandoned tea gardens. The decision to organise a series of movement over the issue was adopted at the two-day meeting of the North Bengal Core Committee (NBCC) of the party held at Kolkata on yesterday and today. All the 13 members of the NBCC including its chairman Mr Gautam Deb, executive members Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh and Mr Mridul Goswami and senior state level party leaders were present at the meeting.

 

NBCC sources said that in a bid to gear up the movement for reopening of the closed and abandoned tea gardens of Dooars the party supremo Miss Mamata Bannerjee will address at a conference of tea garden workers at Malbazar on 30 August. She will also address at such conferences to be held at Bharnabari Tea Estate and Kathalguri Tea Estate on 31 August. During the next phase of the movement Trinamul Congress will organise Bhukha-michhil (hunger march) of tea garden workers and blockade of Tea Board office at Kolkata. As they want participation of a massive number of workers in these programmes they will initiate an extensive campaign in all the tea garden areas in Dooars. Miss Bannerjee will also attend party workers' conferences at Malda, Uttar Dinajpur and Dakshin Dinajpur on 15-16 September.

 

It may be recalled here that the Trinamul Congress chief had visited Shikarpur and Raipur tea estates on 17 June.

 

Cooch Behar District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said Miss Bannerjee would address at a gathering at Shitalkuchi on 1 September. The gathering will be held to stage protest against the "forcible cremation" of a girl that was allegedly occurred at Dakshin Nalgram village of Sitalkuchi in Mathabhanga sub-division on 22 June. It may be recalled that Ms Sonali Guha (MLA), a close confidant of the firebrand leader visited that village with other leaders of the party on 30 June. They had submitted a detailed report to Miss Bannerjee. It is believed that after reviewing that report she agreed to attend a protest rally at Sitalkuchi to demand high-level inquiry into the gruesome incident and arrest of all the seven accused that are stated to be CPI-M activists.

 

Meanwhile, a Trinamul Congress delegation led by the leader of the opposition in the Assembly Mr Partha Chatterjee submitted a memorandum to the Tea Board office at Kolkata today. Mr Mukul Roy (MP), Mr Shovandeb Chattopadhyay and the NBCC members attended the programme. NBCC sources said they demanded the Tea Board to take an initiative to draw an end to the stalemate that is prevailing in the closed and abandoned tea gardens in Dooars. Only a measure like reopening of the tea gardens can bring a permanent solution to the ongoing impasse, they opined. []