Thursday, 31 January 2008

Woman sentenced to 3-yr RI

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 31: The judge of second fast track court of Cooch Behar, Mr KK Kumai today sentenced a woman of three years rigorous imprisonment for possession of forged Indian currencies worth Rs 5,550. She will have to suffer imprisonment of an additional one-year in default of submitting a fine of Rs 10,000 that was slapped on her.

 

The government pleader of the case Mr Chanchal Kumar Chakraborty said acting on a tip-off a team of policemen from Mekhliganj police station had raided the residence of one Mahima Bibi at Pashchimpara in Mekhliganj on 6 November 2004 and recovered eleven forged currency notes of Rs 500 denomination. After inquiry the investigating officer Mr Prasanta Das submitted the chargesheet against her. Today the judge sentenced the accused of rigorous imprisonment for three years, Mr Chakraborty said. []

 

CM inquires about bird flu situation in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 31: Today, the chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee held a videoconference and discussed the situation aroused of bird flu in Cooch Behar district with ADM (D) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra, CZP sabhadhipati Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda and deputy director of Animal Resources Development department Dr Tapan Kumar Roy. The ADM (D) apprised the CM of the latest position of culling in this district. The chief minister asked them to form a district level committee immediately to monitor the situation.

 

The CM also asked the officials to form block level committees to prepare lists of the affected persons and the number of birds culled and killed. The proposed committees will have to be constituted within a week and these are to be activated as early as possible. The lists will be used to disburse compensation to the affected families. Not only the declared amount of Rs 500 per family will be distributed but also different schemes related to animal husbandry will be launched for their benefit, The ADM (D) said.

 

The CM made it clear to the officials that no member of the RRTs involved in culling should be allowed to go back to their houses right now. They should be kept under surveillance for at least one week.

 

Meanwhile, culling of domestic birds in the selected villages of Dinhata-I and Dinhata-II declared completed. The total number of chickens, ducks and pigeons culled in the area is 49,595. Yesterday, eight Rapid Response Teams were deployed to cull remaining birds but no culling was done, as they found no birds for the job. The mop up drive was also completed in these two blocks.

 

In Mathabhanga-I block 10,492 birds were culled till last night. Cooch Behar ADM (D) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra hoped that culling might be completed in the villages of this block by tomorrow. After that mop up drive will be launched.

 

On the otherhand, fifty surveillance teams were formed. These teams will visit the villages from where abnormal deaths of birds were reported. They were instructed to report any case of influenza or similar ailments immediately to the authorities.

 

It was learnt that the district administration already paid Rs 15,08,750 in Dinhata and Rs 1,19,910 in Mathabhanga as compensation to the villagers whose chickens and ducks were culled during the drive. []

 

Two border villages in problem

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 31: Two ordinary and remote villages situated very close to the Indo-Bangladesh border in Gitaldaha under Dinhata-I block appeared in the news columns recently because of unnatural deaths of a large number of chickens in those villages. The residents of Jaridharla and Daribash are Indian citizens but they have to depend almost on Bangladesh to run their daily lives though these are not Chhitmahals (enclaves). The name of Jaridharla was included in the list of fifty-two backward villages but the residents are yet to get any benefit out of it. Both the villages are truly backward from all aspects. The district administration is yet to find out why these two villages still suffering from huge problems.

 

Two rivers - Dharala and Giridhari made the boundaries of both the villages from three sides. Bangladesh is on the remaining side. Due to presence of rivers the barbed wire fencing was not laid here along the border. Country boats are the lone mode of transport of the area. Incidents of boat capsizing and drowning are routine during the rainy season every year. As there is no specific border to prevent infiltration the villagers have to carry EPIC cards to prove their identities to the jawans of Border Security Force. Those who are still to get EPICs have to depend on certificates issued by local Gram Panchayat office.

 

As mainland of Bangladesh is nearer to the villages the residents have to depend on the neighbouring country to get medical care at the health centre at Mogulhat on the other side of the border. The nearest Indian health centre is at Okrabari that is at a distance of about 12-kilometre from the area and in any case of emergency it is next to impossible to carry a patient to Okrabari crossing the rivers. Villagers however said that the jawans of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) never resist them from entering into that country on humanitarian ground.

 

There are two primary schools but the nearest high school is at Gitaldaha that is at a distance of about 10-kilometre. It is hard to attend the school during the monsoon and so almost all the girls of the area never got an opportunity to carry on studies beyond primary level. In government records both the villages are Indian ones but they are no better than enclaves or islands.

 

When asked, a senior official of Cooch Behar district administration assured that they will try to minimise the problems the villagers are suffering from. []

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

 

First in NB : 2 Panchayat Samities to get Nirmal Gram awards

  

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 30: There are sixteen Gram Panchayats out of 128 GPs in Cooch Behar district that were awarded with Nirmal Gram (total sanitised village) status. Now, another twenty-three Gram Panchayats and two Panchayat Samities are going to achieve the similar status. There is no Panchayat Samity in north Bengal that received the Nirmal Gram award till now, claimed the sabhadhipati of Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda.

 

Successful implementation of the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) programme in Mathabhanga-II and Sitai blocks made them eligible to get the Nirmal Gram awards. As per government norms a village or a Gram Panchayat or Panchayat Samity can be declared as a Nirmal Gram if ninety percent of the latrines of the area concerned turn into sanitary toilets, said the TSC district co-ordinator, Mr Amalendu Naha.

 

The TSC programme was started in this district in 2000. There are 12 Rural Sanitary Marts but five turned defunct. There are 27 approved clubs who are doing as Production Centres. The objective of the programme is to extend sanitary toilet and safe drinking water facilities to all residents. Following a survey that was done in 2002 the number of target households was fixed at 4,30,122. Already the TSC scheme achieved success by extending sanitary toilets to 2,00,060 residences. While Mathabhanga-II block is on the top position in implementing the TSC scheme by extending sanitary toilets in 37,006 households the position of Haldibari block is at the bottom. Here the achievement is 2,549 only.

 

Not only the residences, the TSC programme is also bringing primary schools, high schools, madrasas, Shishu Shiksha Kendras (SSK), Madhyamik Shiksha Kendras (MSK) and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) centres under its activity. All schools will be brought under the sanitation programme, the TSC district co-ordinator said. Following a unique plan the students of different schools are being asked to collect data on regular practice of health and hygienic habits and using of sanitary facilities in their families and neighbourhood. This awareness drive may boost up healthy habits among the students and the members of their families, Mr Naha hoped. []

 

WHO team visited progress : Culling almost completed in Dinhata

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 30: The culling drive that was undertaken to combat the spreading of bird flu disease almost completed in Dinhata-I and Dinhata-II blocks. 49,595 domestic birds were culled in the villages of these two blocks till last night. Today, only eight Rapid Response Teams were deployed to cull remaining chickens, ducks and pigeons. Mop-up drive started from today in the villages and it will continue for ten days. The members of the RRTs will not be able to get back to their residences for seven days. They will be kept under observation for the period.

 

In Mathabhanga-I block, 3,710 birds were culled till last night in the villages. Culling also started in Sannyasir-danga village today. It may be recalled here that local people of Sannyasir-danga village attacked the RRT men on Monday evening. A vehicle was also damaged. The frightened RRT men had to go back without doing their scheduled job. A number of meetings were held from that night to chalk out plans to restore normalcy in the troubled village. Additional police forces were also deployed for the security of the RRT men. But, the RRT men failed to do any culling in that village on yesterday too. After adequately convincing the villagers the situation restored to normalcy today.

 

Meanwhile, a five-member WHO team comprising of experts from New Delhi, Pune and Kolkata visited the progress of culling in this district. They also visited the arrangement in the isolation wards that were made in Dinhata and Mathabhanga sub-divisional hospitals to combat any case of infection in human beings. They expressed their satisfaction after visiting the facilities offered in the isolation wards claimed the ADM (D) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra.

 

On the otherhand, fifty surveillance teams comprising of two members in each team were formed with ICDS and health department personnel. These teams will visit the villages from where abnormal deaths of birds were reported. They were instructed to report any case of influenza or similar ailments immediately to the authorities.

 

It was learnt that the district administration already paid Rs 15,08,750 in Dinhata and Rs 1,19,910 in Mathabhanga as compensation to the villagers whose chickens and ducks were culled. []

Need for consumption of iodised salt stressed in NSS camp

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 30: The programme officer of National Service Scheme (Unit-I) of Dinhata College, Md Saukat Ali today declared closing of the special camp that began at Panchanan Chhatrabas in Dinhata on 21 January. The theme of the NSS camp was "healthy youth for healthy India".

 

One hundred student-volunteers of the camp were oriented by Dr Bijay Roy (ACMOH), Dr Dr Suvendu Roy and Prof Asit Chakraborty regarding different aspects of health awareness attaching special importance to AIDS, bird flu and iodine deficiency diseases.

 

Two consumer welfare officers, Mr G Goswami and Mr TK Pal made the camp volunteers aware of rights, duties and responsibilities of consumers.

 

After being properly oriented the student-volunteers took part in health awareness programmes and tested presence of iodine in salts in different corners of Putimari-I and Putimari-II in addition to cleaning drives, socio-economic survey and consumer awareness programmes.

 

Dr Samarpan Saha attended two medical camps that were organised during the ten-day special camp. []

 

PHOTO : NSS programme officer Md Saukat Ali demonstrates testing of presence of iodine in salts before the student-volunteers. At Dinhata College in Dinhata.

 

Blood memory

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 30: Trinamul Youth Congress organised a blood donation camp in association with MJN Hospital Blood Bank at Nilkuthi in Cooch Behar where 31 persons donated blood. TYC leader Mr Shiben Roy said the annual blood donation camp was organised in memory of the demised Trinamul leader Nabiuddin Mian. []

 

Damage control

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 30: Cooch Behar district received a fund of Rs 4.44-crore from the state government against a disaster management scheme. The scheme was sent in an aim to repair damaged roads and bridges that were damaged during the floods in the last monsoon. Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad sabhadhipati Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda said the CZP is now preparing plans to start restoration work. No other agency but the CZP itself will implement the plans, Mr Chanda said. []

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

 

Civic action programme

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 29: The deputy inspector general of Border Security Force Mr PJ Rao distributed blankets among the poor people of the bordering area at a function organised at Choto Madhusudhan village in Sitalkuchi yesterday. He also distributed various sports items to a few schools of the area including Maheshmari High School, Ratanpur High School, Gosairhat Girls high school, Chota Madhusudhan Primary School, Gautam Primary School and Gadopota Primary School. As a part of their civic action programme the 13 Bn BSF organised the programme.

 

The DIG-BSF, Mr Rao said the BSF is always committed to maintain better relation with bordering people by helping them in various means like organising medical check up camps, sports and games, recreational activities and other development works under Border Area Development Programme.  Commandant of 13-Battalion BSF Mr KS Rathore also spoke on the occasion and assured of maintaining cordial relations with local people through such programmes in future. []

 

Conference

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 29: 41-st biennial state conference of Pashchimbanga Group-D Sarkari Karmachari Samity will be held in Cooch Behar from 9 February to 12 February. 877 delegates from all the districts will attend the four-day conference, said secretary of the reception committee Mr Sekhar Pal. A veteran trade union leader Mr Sukomal Sen will inaugurate the conference. To make the conference a spectacular one the organisers are now busy in decorating the town with large sized gates. []

Culling teams face problems in Dinhata and Mathabhanga

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 29: Twenty Rapid Response Teams (RRT) comprising of five members in each team started culling of domestic birds including chickens, ducks and pigeons in a few villages including Baro-Khalisamari village under Kursamari Gram Panchayat in Mathabhanga-I block from yesterday afternoon. Earlier it was planned that the culling will start from today but to complete the job speedily and to stop the spreading of the avian flu disease in newer areas the district administration differed the decision and ordered culling from yesterday afternoon. About 500 chickens were culled there yesterday.

 

The RRTs did their duties without any problem in most of the villages in Mathabhanga-I block but resistance came from local people at Sannyasir-danga village. In this village the locals pelted stones to the RRT men on yesterday evening. A vehicle was also damaged. The frightened RRT men had to go back to Mathabhanga-I block office without doing their scheduled jobs. A number of meetings were held from last night till this noon to chalk out plans to restore normalcy in the troubled village. Additional police forces were also deployed for the security of the RRT men.

 

It was decided that intensive awareness drive would be conducted among the residents of Sannyasir-danga village and after convincing the villagers about the need of the culling the work will be resumed. Several meetings were held today among officials concerned and leaders of different political parties, panchayat functionaries, representatives of non-government organisations and local people. But, no culling was held in this village today. It is expected that the RRTs may be able to resume work in this village from tomorrow morning.

 

On the otherhand, labourers recruited from the localities in Dinhata-I and Dinhata-II blocks denied to work since last night. They were recruited to assist the RRTs. As per government norms they were appointed against Rs 70 per day as unskilled labourers. But as they have had to work for about 12-hours they demanded Rs 200 per day. Today, the additional district magistrate (development) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra and other senior officials visited the area and assured of considering the demand for hike of wage. Getting assurance the labourers joined their duties and culling drive resumed. It may be mentioned here that about 43,300 chickens, ducks and pigeons were culled in Dinhata-I and Dinhata-II till last night. []

Monday, 28 January 2008

 

Culling begins in Mathabhanga today

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 28: Twenty Rapid Response Teams (RRT) comprising of five members in each team started culling of domestic birds including chickens, ducks and pigeons at Baro-Khalisamari village under Kursamari Gram Panchayat in Mathabhanga-I block from today. Earlier it was planned that the culling will start from tomorrow but to stop the spreading of the avian flu disease in newer areas the district administration differed the decision and ordered culling from this afternoon.

 

Additional district magistrate (development) of Cooch Behar Mr Pannalal Mahapatra said adequate policemen were provided with the RRTs to make the culling drive trouble free in Mathabhanga. The target of culling is 35,000 in five-kilometre radius of Baro-Khalisamari village. The deadly virus was detected in the samples sent from this village.

 

Before launching of the culling drive the villagers were asked to keep their pet birds at home. They were advised not to set these animals free on tomorrow morning too so that the RRT men can do the job smoothly. He claimed that the compensation at the rate of Rs 40 per bird is paid on the spot and so no resistance came from anywhere during the culling drive so far.

 

Meanwhile, about 28,000 domestic birds were culled in Dinhata-I and Dinhata-II blocks till last night, the ADM (D) said. Fifty RRTs are conducting the culling drive there in four Gram Panchayat areas. The drive will continue for a few days more to fulfil the target of 70,000. []

Sunday, 27 January 2008

PHOTO : NO FLU - A pet laying hen in a residence on Sunday. -DB

 

R-Day celebrated in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 27: The 59-th Republic Day was celebrated with due respect in Cooch Behar. The main programme was held at Cooch Behar Stadium. Here, the district magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha hoisted the National flag. Display of colourful march past, tableau and cultural programme made the programme a successful one. Police, home guard, NCC and students of different educational institutions participated in the parade. The DM took salute from the jawans of Armed Police Force. Superintendent of police Mr Anil Kumar and other distinguished persons were present at the programme.

 

Border Security Force too observed the day. DIG-BSF Mr PJ Rao hoisted the National flag in the premises of the Cooch Behar Sector Headquarters. The officers and jawans of the sector attended the programme. The BSF also organised a civic action programme at Gitaldaha on the occasion. A free medical camp was held there and free medicines were distributed among the people of the bordering area. The DIG-BSF Mr Rao, Commandant of 127 Bn Mr KC Jat, Dr Subhasini Besra and Dr Kadambini Rastogi attended the programme. Books, school uniform and sports items were distributed among the students of the area. A cultural programme was also held on the occasion. []

 

PHOTO : DIG-BSF (Cooch Behar Sector) Mr PJ Rao at the Republic Day flag hoisting ceremony at the Sector Headquarters in Cooch Behar on Saturday.

 

PHOTO : DIG-BSF (Cooch Behar) Mr PJ Rao presents gifts to a village girl on the occasion of Republic Day. At Gitaldaha in Cooch Behar on Saturday.

 

Culling to begin in Mathabhanga from Tuesday

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 27: Samples taken from dead chickens collected from Baro-Khalisamari village of Kursamari Gram Panchayat in Mathabhanga-I block tested positive of bird flu virus. When culling operation in Dinhata is going smoothly and the officials concerned are getting ready to heave a sigh this news came as a heavy blow to them this afternoon.

 

The district magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha said as the samples from Baro-Khalisamari village tested positive of the deadly virus the rapid response teams will start culling operations in that area from Tuesday. At present fifty RRTs are working in Dinhata and thirty were kept reserved. These thirty teams will be deployed tomorrow in Mathabhanga-I for culling of about 25,000 domestic birds, the DM said.

 

On the otherhand, about 13,500 chickens, ducks and pigeons were culled during the first two days in Dinhata-I block. Here, the target of culling is 70,000. Fifty RRTs are doing the job in Gitaldaha-I and Gitaldaha-II blocks. Culling operation was completed in Jaridharla and Daribash villages yesterday, claimed Cooch Behar ADM (D) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra. Samples sent from these two villages were tested positive of avian flu virus.

 

The ADM (D) said the RRT men are now conducting culling in four Gram Panchayat areas including Okrabari and Gobrachhara in Dinhata-I and Dinhata-II blocks within five-kilometre radius of the two affected villages today. Achieving of the target may take two or three days more, he said.

 

It may be mentioned here that a report arrived here yesterday confirmed that no samples sent from this district except from Jaridharla and Daribash tested positive. But today the situation turned otherwise.

 

Meanwhile, Anasristi, an organisation of science conscious youths, started an awareness drive on bird flu at Kalabagan and Khagrabari in Cooch Behar today. As many residents of these areas keep chickens and ducks the members of Anasristi conveyed them the dos and don'ts to avoid the deadly disease and what to do in case of its outbreak. Secretary of Anasristi, Mr Sumanta Saha said they requested the residents to maintain cleanliness. They also sprayed lime and bleaching powder in the drains. []

Saturday, 26 January 2008

PHOTO : From Monarchy to Democracy. School children perform dance on the occasion of Rupublic Day at Cooch Behar Stadium adjacent to Cooch Behar Royal Palace (in West Bengal) on Saturday.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Culling begins in Dinhata with police help

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 25: Though delayed for non-availability of adequate quantity of masks, aprons and other necessary materials the culling of domestic birds started this noon at Jaridharla, Daribash and adjoining villages within five-kilometre radius. The area is adjacent to the Indo-Bangladesh border. Many elderly women were found with tears rolling down their cheeks when the animal resources development department men culled the ducks and pigeons but no one resisted them to commit the job.

 

District magistrate of Cooch Behar, Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha said fifty rapid response teams (RRT) were deployed today. Medical test of the members of the RRTs was done and they were administered with preventive medicines before sending for the culling operation. As consuming of any food and water is prohibited during the procedure they consumed food and water prior to begin work of culling. The RRT men were trained yesterday about the process of culling and a senior official Dr Vijay Kumar who came from New Delhi supervised the training. The DM hoped that culling in the affected area is expected to be completed within two days but if necessary the period may be extended.

 

The RRTs will keep the affected area under surveillance for an additional ten days. Spraying of lime and other disinfectants will be done from tomorrow to prevent spreading of the deadly virus.

 

On the otherhand, Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar said culling is being done peacefully and no resistance came from the villagers concerned. Adequate number of policemen were deployed with the RRTs. Police are keeping watch over the situation to maintain peace, he added.

 

Mr Kumar said vehicles and markets are being checked to stop transportation and trading of chickens. Police are keeping constant contact with Border Security Force to prevent smuggling of chickens through the border. The BSF already beefed up vigilance along the international border to stop spreading of the bird flu disease, the SP said. []

 

Auto-rickshaw stir

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 25: Members of CITU affiliated Cooch Behar Auto-rickshaw Union took out a long rally with their vehicles today to protest against practice of corruption during extending licences and route permits. Later, they submitted a memorandum containing five-point charter of demands to the secretary of Regional Transport Authority at Sagardighi Square. Due to the agitation the commuters of different routes had to suffer for a long. []

Thursday, 24 January 2008

State Bhawaiya festival begins

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 24: State health and family welfare minister Dr Surya Kanta Mishra inaugurated the 19th state Bhawaiya competition and fair at Baneswar Khabsa High School premises in Cooch Behar today. The festival will continue till Saturday. Backward classes welfare minister Mr Jogesh Chandra Barman, forest minister Mr Ananta Roy, Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad sabhadhipati Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda, two MPs – Mr Tarini Roy and Mr Hiten Barman, ex-chief justice of Bangladesh Md Mustafa Kamal Abbasi and other guests spoke on the occasion. Dr Mishra termed the festival as a cultural platform of all the people of this region. []

Culling to begin tomorrow, isolated ward ready at hospital

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 24: Fifty rapid response teams (RRT) consisting of five members in each team are ready for deployment for culling of all domestic birds in Dinhata-I block in Cooch Behar district. Culling will start from tomorrow in the affected villages especially Jaridharla, Daribash and adjoining areas within the radius of five kilometres. Other villages within radius of ten kilometres will be kept under intensive surveillance. Culling may be completed by Saturday but the period may be extended if necessary.

 

District magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha said Cooch Behar was declared as an avian flue affected district yesterday. As H5N1 virus was confirmed in samples of some dead chickens at the laboratory at Belgachhia the district administration is in no mood to take any chance. The samples that tested positive of avian flu were collected from Jaridharla and Daribash villages in Dinhata-I block. The area is very close to the Indo-Bangladesh border.

 

The BSF already stopped plying of ferryboats in Dharala river in the most affected area to stop spreading of the disease to this side.

 

Meanwhile, a joint secretary from the Centre, Dr Vijay Kumar arrived here today to supervise and monitor the culling operations and combating of avian influenza disease. He will stay here till completion of the process, Cooch Behar ADM (D) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra said.

 

The DM said all possible precautionary measures were taken to combat the disease and it's spreading to newer areas. Steps were taken to meet any adverse situation, he said. Eighty RRT were formed for committing culling of birds. Fifty teams will be deployed in Dinhata-I block and the remaining thirty will be kept as reserve ones, the DM said. The members of these teams and all persons concerned with the culling will be administered with medicines to protect them from the deadly virus. Policemen will also be deployed to ensure peace during culling, the DM said.

 

An isolation ward demarcated at Dinhata sub-divisional hospital with adequate beds for use if situation arises. Sufficient medicines also kept ready to deal with any situation, Mr Sinha said. Two medical teams were formed to examine the health of the RRT personnel.

 

The district administration is keeping contact with the Border Security Force. The DM Mr Sinha talked with the DIG-BSF Mr PJ Rao today about maintaining strict vigil along the border to stop crossing of any poultry bird from Bangladesh. Transportation and selling of chickens and eggs were banned. Serving of these items in midday meals in schools were also prohibited, the DM said.

 

On the otherhand, animal resources development (ARD) department sources in Cooch Behar said that they got information of birds' abnormal death from seven blocks out of twelve so far. These are Dinhata-I, Cooch Behar-I, Mathabhanga-I, Tufanganj, Sitalkuchi, Sitai and Mekhliganj.

 

In Haribhanga of Cooch Behar-I bodies of ten migratory birds were recovered on Tuesday. These birds used to take shelter in that area on tall and old trees. The samples of dead migratory birds were sent for test to Kolkata but test results are yet to confirm the cause of their death by the deadly virus, the DM said.

 

In Baro-Khalisamari of Mathabhanga-I abnormal death of a few hundred chickens were reported to the ARD officials. In Dinhata-I, more chicken deaths were reported from several villages including Jaridharla and Daribash, ARD officials said. They were intimated of death of some chickens at Votebari in Mekhliganj too. []

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

No entry in Assam : GCDP rally returns

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 23: The bicycle rally of Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) that was organised yesterday had to come back from the Assam-West Bengal border near Baxirhat last evening. When the long rally of GCDP supporters arrived at the border near Baxirhat in Tufanganj and tried to proceed towards Golokganj in Assam a large contingent of Assam Police resisted them.

 

GCDP president and also the general secretary of Greater Kamta United Forum (GKUF), Mr Ashutosh Barma said senior administrative and police officials of Assam came up at the border and requested them to go back. As there is a statewide prohibitory order by proclaiming Section 144 in Assam the officials told them that they couldn't extend adequate security coverage for the cyclists. Considering the situation the GCDP supporters held a meeting there and then came back peacefully, Mr Barma said.

 

It may be mentioned here that the GCDP organised yesterday's bicycle rally programme following a decision of the GKUF to highlight their demand for proper implementation of the merger agreement that was accorded between the then Maharaja of Cooch Behar and Government of India in 1949, formation of a separate state and recognition of their mother tongue. []

 

Hindi questions demanded for Hindi medium students

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 23: Hindi Bhasa Prasar Samity, Pashchim Bangal, raised demands for introduction of question papers in Hindi for the Hindi-speaking students of the state from the next Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examinations. The students of Hindi medium schools have to answer questions set in Bengali or English in the examinations of Madhyamik and Higher Secondary boards and this deprives the Hindi-speaking students of actual test of their merits.

 

HBPS sources claimed that at present more than one-lakh Hindi speaking candidates appear every year in Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examinations in this state. In Cooch Behar district the Hindi speaking population is about fifteen percent of the total population. There are only three high schools and nine primary schools for them. In the five sub-divisions of this district the high schools are in Cooch Behar, Dinhata and Mathabhanga. The total number of students of these schools is about ten thousand, HBPS sources said.

 

Convener of the Hindi Bhasa Prasar Samity, Pashchim Bangal and also the secretary of Cooch Behar Sree Hindi Vidyalaya, Mr Rajendra Kumar Baid said they submitted memorandums to the chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and school education minister Mr Partha Dey several times to set up twenty Higher Secondary and sixty primary schools in Cooch Behar for the benefit of the Hindi speaking students of this district but no steps were taken yet.

 

Introduction of question papers also needed but the government did nothing. It should be considered as a fundamental right for the Hindi-speaking students to get questions in Hindi. The presence of Kendriya Vidyalaya and Army School is a relief to some extent but these schools are meant for the students of families from high society. Commoners have no such facility to avail and so the government should introduce Hindi questions in the Hindi medium schools to help the Hindi speaking students, Mr Baid argued. []

Cooch Behar declared bird flu affected district

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 23: Cooch Behar turned into an avian flue affected district. As H5N1 virus was confirmed in samples of some dead chickens at the laboratory at Belgachhia the district administration is in no mood to take any chance. The samples that tested positive of avian flu were collected from Jaridharla and Daribash villages in Dinhata-I block. The area is very close to the Indo-Bangladesh border. Today the district administration declared this district as bird flu affected district.

 

When asked, the district magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha said following the state government's directive the district administration declared this district as an avian flu affected one. All possible precautionary measures were taken to combat the disease and it's spreading to newer areas. Steps were taken to meet any adverse situation, he said.

 

The district administration will start culling operations from tomorrow. Eighty special teams are ready for committing culling of chickens, the DM said.

 

On the otherhand, animal resources development (ARD) department sources in Cooch Behar said that they got information of birds' death from four blocks out of twelve so far. These are Dinhata-I, Cooch Behar-I, Mathabhanga-I and Mekhliganj.

 

In Haribhanga of Cooch Behar-I bodies of ten migratory birds were recovered yesterday. These birds used to take shelter in that area on tall and old trees. The samples of dead migratory birds were sent for test to Kolkata but test results are yet to confirm the cause of their death by the deadly virus.

 

In Baro-Khalisamari of Mathabhanga-I abnormal death of a few hundred chickens were reported to the ARD personnel yesterday. In Dinhata-I, more chicken deaths were reported from several villages including Jaridharla and Daribash, ARD officials said. This morning they got information from Votebari in Mekhliganj that some chickens have died there. []

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Assembly standing committee visits industrial complex

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 22: The members of the Assembly Standing Committee on commerce and industries led by Mr Sudip Bandyopadhyay visited functioning of three units at Chakchaka Industrial Growth Centre (CIGC) in Cooch Behar today. The team members also met entrepreneurs at the CIGC complex and heard their problems and demands. On behalf of Industrial Federation of Cooch Behar (IFC) a memorandum was submitted to the team. They held a meeting with officials of district administration at the Circuit House here and inquired about the present situation of industrialisation in this district.

 

Secretary of IFC Mr Depak Mundra said during their discussion with the members of the standing committee on continuation of load shedding free zone status and night mobile service for fault repair at CIGC the divisional engineer of WBSEDCL confirmed that these facilities have become permanent.

 

The owners of several industrial units demanded provision of basic amenities at the CIGC complex like streetlight and drainage system and improvement of road and tele-communication system.

 

In the IFC memorandum it was mentioned that there were two water reservoirs at CIGC but those were demolished during renovation of Cooch Behar Airport for safe landing of aircrafts. CIGC will have to suffer from water crisis if no water reservoir was provided at the complex. As there is no fire fighting arrangement the IFC demanded installing of a Fire Service Station at the CIGC complex. To prevent environment pollution they also demanded demarcation of a land for use as dumping ground in or around the CIGC complex.

 

Mr Mundra said the members of the standing committee heard their points and assured that those will be recommended to the appropriate authorities for early implementation. []

GCDP's cycle rally held

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 22: The supporters of the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) organised two bicycle rallies in Cooch Behar today. The first rally started from Harinchawara and the other from Patlakhawa. Getting united in front of the gate of Cooch Behar Palace they left for Tufanganj. From there they are to proceed towards Golokganj in Assam where the activists of All Koch Rajbangshi Students' Union (AKRASU) will took over the responsibility of the rally to arrive at Lakhimpur.

 

When the bicycle rally entered in the town curious onlookers gathered beside the streets. Normal traffic movement was disrupted till departure of the slogan-shouting cyclists. Not only youths but also elder persons participated in the rally. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere during the cycle rally, police said.

 

The president of GCDP, Mr Ashutosh Barma said today that the plan behind today's programme was to highlight their demand for proper implementation of the merger agreement that was accorded between the then Maharaja of Cooch Behar and Government of India in 1949, formation of a separate state and recognition of their mother tongue.

 

On 4 February the umbrella organisation of three similar minded organisations including the GKUF will observe Rail Roko programme and from 3 March they will organise a dharna (sit-in demonstration) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, Mr Barma said, who is also the general secretary of the GKUF. On 15 April they are to organise a central rally at Maynaguri, he added. []

Monday, 21 January 2008

Revised electoral roll published : 23,000 claims rejected

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 21: The revised electoral rolls of all the nine Assembly constituencies in Cooch Behar district were published. Now, the total number of electors is 16,02,280. While 52,158 new claims were admitted the net addition is 42,643 in the revised rolls. The increase of voters is 2.73 percent comparing with the draft electoral rolls of nine constituencies. In the draft rolls that were published in March 2007 the total number of electors was 15,59,637. In Mekhliganj (SC) constituency the increase is 4.33 percent.

 

According to the Summary Revision of Electoral Rolls-2008, 11,227 applications were submitted claiming inclusion in the electoral roll in Sitai constituency. Sitai is a bordering area and very close to the Indo-Bangladesh border. Examining the relevant documents the authorities have rejected 5,788 claims and admitted 5,439 claims only.

 

President of Cooch Behar district unit of BJP, Mr Nityananda Munsi said today that they were complaining of large-scale infiltration from Bangladesh for a long and rejection of so much applications in Sitai proved the allegation. He demanded that the district administration should look into the matter seriously because inclusion of foreigners in the voters' list can change the voting pattern and it is harmful for the country. On the otherhand, a senior government official admitted that many of the applications were rejected in Sitai and other constituencies because the claimants failed to submit adequate proof in support of their claims. These persons may have come from Bangladesh, he suspected.

 

Not only in Sitai, 10,248 applications were submitted in Dinhata that is also a bordering constituency. Here 3,979 claims for inclusion in the electoral roll were rejected. The total number of rejected claims in the nine Assembly constituencies is 22,594 and total number of deletion from the rolls is 9,515. Names of 9,363 dead and shifted voters were stroke off from the voters' list.

 

When asked, the officer-in-charge of election cell, Mr Sanjay Mukherjee said preparation of 98.41 percent of Elector's Photo Identity Card (EPIC) was completed in this district. Photographing of new voters and whose names were mismatched in the electoral rolls and EPIC cards for different reasons will be held from 1 February to 10 February. []

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Bird flu alert in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 20: Following information of death of about two hundred chickens a team of Animal Resources Development department officials led by deputy director Dr Tapan Kumar Roy visited Jaridharla and Daribash villages in Dinhata sub-division today. The area is very near from the Indo-Bangladesh border. The ARD team collected samples of dead chickens and blood and swab samples from living ones of the locality. These are being sent for test to Belgachhia in Kolkata, Dr Roy said.

 

Observing the symptoms it was suspected that the chickens might have died of Ranikhet disease that is not unnatural, Dr Roy said. But, as the ARD department is not ready to take any chance they are sending all samples for laboratory test to ascertain the actual cause of death, he added. As the villagers are not aware of bird flu or Rarnikhet disease the ARD department are to arrange awareness programme in the villages especially along the border, he said.

 

The death of the chickens along the bordering areas made the district administration and the animal resources development department cautious enough about the deadly disease. A high level meeting will be held on Tuesday to discuss the situation and the precautionary measures taken to halt the spreading of the disease in case of its large-scale outbreak. District magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha convened the meeting.

 

The ARD deputy director Dr Roy said the blood serum and swab samples that were sent earlier for test to Bhopal were reported negative. These were collected from different areas of the district. Teams of ARD personnel are engaged in surveillance in all the twelve blocks in the district. Meanwhile, droppings of migratory birds collected from the area adjacent to Rasik-bil tourist complex in Tufanganj were also sent for test to the laboratory at Belgachhia in Kolkata. Some other serum and swab samples collected from different poultry farms are being tested at the Belgachhia laboratory, he said.

 

On the otherhand, the BSF is keeping constant vigil on the Indo-Bangladesh border so that no one can bring in chickens or eggs from other side of the border. At the International Check Post at Changrabandha the vehicles that are entering India from Bangladesh are being disinfected as a mandatory measure to stop spreading of the viruses of the deadly disease. []

 

PHOTO :  FLU FEAR – Not only chickens but also laying ducks are under observation at the Government Poultry Farm in Cooch Behar. – Debashis Bhaumik

 

Census of irrigation facilities in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 20: Minor Irrigation Census (MIC) is going on in all the 1208-mouzas in twelve block areas of Cooch Behar district. It started in November and expected to be completed in the next month. Planning of minor irrigation policy of the government depends on this survey.

 

Normally, the minor irrigation census conducted in every five years. All minor irrigation facilities including Riverwater Lifting Irrigation (RLI), ground water, sallow tubewells and deep tubewells come under this survey. Examining the outcome of the survey the agencies concerned can chalk out plans for adding more minor irrigation facilities to bring more cultivable lands under irrigation coverage.

 

Assistant engineer of agri-irrigation division of water resources investigation and development department, Mr Raja Ghosh said thirty percent of agricultural land was under irrigation coverage in this district according to the third MIC that was held in 2001. Since then different agencies including Uttar Banga Unnayan Parshad, Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samities and others did a lot to improve the irrigation scenario of the district. The result of their efforts will come to light after completion of the survey, he said.

 

According to the census of 2001 the irrigated areas in Mathabhanga-I block is at the bottom of the list while Dinhata-I is on the top. Out of 28,422-hectre lands in Dinhata-I block the agri-irrigation division brought 46.17 percent land under irrigation cover. In Mathabhanga-I 19.34 percent of 32,276-hectre lands was extended with irrigation facilities. Not only the agri-irrigation division did the job but also other agencies did it. The Minor Irrigation Census is going on to learn the actual position of irrigation facilities that are being done by different agencies in the district.

 

As there is no system of co-ordination about implementation of different irrigation schemes among the agencies it is difficult for the government and others to know the actual situation, Mr Ghosh said. The survey report may iron out the problem, he hoped. []

Friday, 18 January 2008

AIYL demands agricultural school

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 18: Members of Cooch Behar district unit of All India Youth League (AIYL) took out a protest rally in Cooch Behar today. Later they held a gathering at district agricultural training centre premises. The speakers demanded immediate setting up of an agricultural school in Cooch Behar to improve the agricultural scenario of the district. They also submitted a memorandum containing six-point charter of demands to the principal of the agricultural training centre.

 

In his address at the gathering the general secretary of AIYL's Cooch Behar district unit, Mr Gopal Dey said there is a large volume of surplus lands in the nine seed farms in this district. These lands should be brought under farming and used for production of seeds of high yielding varieties of different crops. These seeds should be distributed among the poor farmers of the district free of cost. The proposed agricultural school will be of much help to the farmers, he opined.

 

Mr Dey also demanded introduction of proper infrastructure for seed production and research at each of the nine seed farms and use of uncultivable lands of these farms for plantation of trees. []

 

Turtle census at Shiv Dighi

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 18: The Debottar Trust Board (DTB) is considering a plan to conduct census of the tortoises of the Shiv Dighi of Baneswar. The DTB is the guardian body of the temples and religious places of the erstwhile princely state of Cooch Behar. The tortoises of Shiv Dighi are known as 'Mohan' to the devotees and locals.

 

The plan for conducting the census was adopted following mysterious deaths of the Mohans since 29 October 2005. The death toll is more than fifty-four during the period, claimed the activists of the Save Mohan Committee.

 

Following deaths of a number of tortoises of the Shiv Dighi locals got agitated and demonstrations including road blockades were also held. The issue also rolled to the courtroom. Several investigations and tests were conducted but the actual cause behind the deaths is still shrouds under mystery. On 30 October 2006 the principal chief conservator of forests sent a twelve-point recommendation to the Debottar Trust Board as measures to stop the death toll but most of the recommendations were not implemented so far.

 

It may be mentioned here that during examining the water of the pond and its surroundings the experts had identified pollution of the water of the pond, over population of the turtles and concrete banks of the waterbody as some of the causes behind the problem. Pisciculture at the pond was also held responsible. They however opined that 10 to 20 percent death might be taken as natural especially during mating season. Netting of the fishes of the pond and removal of the concrete banks were done following recommendations but that failed to stop the menace.

 

Cooch Behar SDO Mr Jayanta Kumar Maity said the DTB is to entrust the forest department to conduct the census of the tortoises of Shiv Dighi. After the census the experts will think over the matter whether the number of tortoises is more than the natural ratio of those in a small pond like Shib Dighi. []

Jana Adhikar Yatra for children's right

 

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 18: Aiming to make the world habitable for the children the West Bengal Education Network (WBEN) is organising a march named Jana Adhikar Yatra in five provinces of eastern India. According to the plan the central rally will start from Manipur on 23 January. It will arrive in Orrisa on 9 March.

 

As a part of the programme two rallies will be organised in West Bengal. The first one is to start from Cooch Behar tomorrow and the second one from Purulia on 28 January. These two rallies will go through different districts of the state.

 

Convener of Cooch Behar district unit of WBEN, Mr Partha Nath Sarkar said WBEN is a partner organisation of National Alliance for Fundamental Right to Equity (NAFRE). From the very beginning it is fighting in fourteen districts in this state to get equal right and education for all children.

 

Mr Sarkar said WBEN wants to bring all children under a common school education system, midday meal for students up to Class X, budget allocation of ten percent for education sector, end of commercialisation of education system and rescue and rehabilitation of all child labourers. "We want to build up a social system that is founded on social justice and equality of education for all children", he said. []