Monday, 23 August 2010


Cooch Behar-Kolkata : Deccan flights expected in September

After the visit of the five-member team of officials from Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) the hope for restoration of passenger flights through Cooch Behar airport is rising. It is expected that Cooch Behar-Kolkata flights may start in September.

Deputy Union minister for shipping services Mr Mukul Roy too took interest in the proposed re-launching of Cooch Behar-Kolkata air service. He came to Cooch Behar on Sunday to attend an organisational programme of the Trinamul Congress. Local leaders of his party conveyed him that the authorities were dillydallying over restoration of flights and different target dates have been differed by newer ones. A private aviation company had invited journalists to attend the inaugural ceremony of Cooch Behar-Kolkata air service on 16 August but that too proved false. Hearing the complaints the minister talked with Union civil aviation minister Mr Praful Patel over phone and requested him to take initiatives to start the flights as early as possible. He also inquired about the problems in commencement of air service at Cooch Behar airport.

On Saturday, a five-member team of AAI and BCAS officials visited the airfield and reportedly expressed their satisfaction examining the facilities added there. In the team there were AAI's regional executive director Mr Gautam Mukherjee and BCAS deputy commissioner Mr Subrata Lodh. Mr Sanjay Sehgal from Deccan Charters also accompanied them. They also attended a meeting with Cooch Behar DM Ms Smaraki Mahapatra and SP Mr Kalyan Banerjee. Later, Mr Mukherjee told reporters that the Cooch Behar-Kolkata service might commence by 15 to 20 September. It is expected that by that time the required green signal may come from the director general of civil aviation (DGCA).

It was learnt that the visiting team would submit a report to the BCAS authority in Delhi for its clearance. As security arrangement came up as the priority requirement prior to commencement of flights the clearance from the BCAS is important. The Cooch Behar SP assured to provide 30 police personnel for the security system at the airport. They would be sent for special training. In other airports CISF personnel are deployed for security but here the state police would take up the charge. Airport sources added that Rs 35-crore has been spent for modernisation of the airport and extension of the runway. According to an earlier plan 48-seater ATR aircrafts were to press on service but due to technical problems over the volume of the runway an 18-seater small aircraft of Deccan Charters would operate its flights through Cooch Behar airport. 

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


Stir plan at BD High Commission on enclave exchange

The India Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Co-ordination Committee will stage a demonstration at the office of the Bangladesh High Commissioner in Kolkata on 12 September demanding exchange of Chhitmahals (enclaves) between India and Bangladesh.

The IBEECC had observed Black Day at Indian and Bangladeshi enclaves on 14 and 15 August. They believe the enclaves were born on 14 August and their misery too started on and from that day. India had earned its independence 64 years ago but the miserable condition of the residents of the enclaves of India and Bangladesh is still persists, they argued.

Assistant secretary of the IBEECC Mr Diptiman Sengupta said they would stage a demonstration of enclave residents at the office of the Bangladeshi High Commissioner in Kolkata on 12 September. On 5 August, they pasted posters on the trains at New Cooch Behar railway station demanding exchange of enclaves. Mr Sengupta said they did it to draw attention of the governments of the two neighbouring countries, the ministers, government officials and also the general public about the need of exchange of Chhitmahals (enclaves) between India and Bangladesh. There are about 2.75-lakh people reside in the enclaves without any citizenship or any civic facilities offered by the governments.

Mr Sengupta said they would constitute a joint committee with members from India and Bangladesh to strengthen the movement to get the enclaves exchanged. In October they would organise a rally in Delhi where a huge number of enclave residents would attend to highlight their miseries and demand exchange of enclaves to draw and end to the painful saga.

According to IBEECC sources there are 129 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh territory and 95 Bangladeshi enclaves in Indian territory. About 2.75-lakh people reside in these enclaves.

Monday, 16 August 2010


Inauguration of air service defers

"Deccan Charters expands commitment to passenger air service – with new chartered flight services. You are invited. Please join us for the grand launch of India's first of its kind daily charter flight service, to be inaugurated on Monday, the 16th of August 2010 at 12-noon. Inauguration by Capt. Gopinath, chairman, Deccan Charters Ltd. Venue: Airport Authority of India, Cooch Behar Airport, Cooch Behar, West Bengal, Pin 736101."

The above text is an invitation recently sent through e-mail to media persons in Cooch Behar. On receiving it they got delighted because it meant that at last the air service was truly going to be revived. In the invitation the media persons were also advised to carry press identity cards at the inaugural ceremony for security reasons.

When asked the officer-in-charge of Cooch Behar Airport Mr Samar Kumar Biswas said he has no knowledge about inauguration of air service on Monday. The AAI official advised the media persons to contact the person who sent them the invitation. When contacted over phone on Monday morning, Ms Pamela Ghosh of Perfect Relations in Kolkata replied that they were conveyed of the postponement of the programme at the last moment and so they failed to convey it to the media persons she invited.  

It may be recalled here that in the past years a number of ministers and elected representatives and also many bureaucrats had announced probable dates of inauguration of resumption of air service between Cooch Behar and Kolkata. All that promises had vanished in the blue and newer promises came up to replace the old ones. The latest one was from Perfect Relations that was probably entrusted to do the public relations on behalf of Deccan Charters Limited. But, it too proved a barren promise.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Renovated Victor Palace inauguration differs

The inauguration of the proposed heritage guesthouse at the renovated Victor Palace has been postponed. According to an earlier plan, the state tourism minister was to inaugurate the luxurious guesthouse at the historic building on Monday. West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation sources said as the minister was busy with other schedules he would not find out time to come to Cooch Behar to inaugurate the renovated palace. It would be done in near future when the minister would be able to visit Cooch Behar. The date and time of the inaugural programme will be announced later, sources said.

District magistrate of Cooch Behar Ms Smaraki Mahapatra too is not aware of any information over the inauguration of the Victor Palace.

On the otherhand, Cooch Behar Nagarik Adhikar Raksha Committee said they expected setting up of an art gallery or a cultural centre at the palace but the government was trying to open a 'tourist lodge and bar' at the palace. The president of the organisation Mr Debashis Mukherjee claimed that according to the information available at the website of National Informatics Centre till last year the Victor Palace was to be treated as a cultural heritage centre but the government was not doing that. They already pointed out the matter to the attention of the district magistrate, Mr Mukherjee said.

The president of Cooch Behar Heritage Society Mr Dipen Chanda too turned disheartened after getting informed that the Victor Palace was going to house a luxurious guesthouse. "We are going to make an appeal to the tourism minister to reconsider the plan to convert the beautiful heritage building into a luxurious hotel-like guesthouse", Mr Chanda said. He however praised the government for the thorough renovation of the dilapidated building from being ruined down. 

Friday, 13 August 2010


Protest against launching of 'hotel cum bar' at Victor Palace

Cooch Behar district unit of the Trinamul Youth Congress came out against launching of a 'hotel cum bar' at the historic Victor Palace. They submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate and demanded setting up a cultural centre and an art gallery at the palace.

President of the district TYC Kumar Rajib Narayan said the Victor Palace situated on the west bank of Sagardighi was a historic building. Once it was a centre of culture and was famous in Bengal as well as in India. But, the ruling Left Front is trying to launch a hotel cum bar in this house. The state government has no right to make an attack on the sentiment of the people of Cooch Behar. He alleged that a deep-rooted conspiracy was going on to weaken the youth force of the state. The plan to set up a hotel cum bar is a part of the conspiracy, he alleged.

Mr Narayan said they demanded the district magistrate to stop the disgraceful initiative.  Instead, they should set up a cultural centre and an art gallery at the palace, he demanded. Otherwise, the TYC would organise a massive movement, he cautioned.

Mentionworthy, the state tourism department took an initiative to establish a heritage guesthouse with four luxurious suits at the thoroughly renovated two-storied palace. State tourism minister is expected to inaugurate it on 16 August. 

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Heritage guesthouse at Victor Palace

A heritage guesthouse is going to be launched in the historic Victor Palace. State tourism minister Mr Manabendra Mukherjee would inaugurate the thoroughly renovated palace on 16 August and a luxurious high-end heritage guesthouse would be roomed there from that day.

Till recent days Victor Palace was known as a dilapidated heritage building situated on the west bank of Sagardighi in Cooch Behar town. It has been renovated with financial assistance extended by the Union government in 2005. Sources said the Centre had sanctioned a fund of about Rs 75-lakh. The picturesque palace was named after Prince Victor Nityendra Narayan. His parents - Maharaja Nripendra Narayan and Maharani Sunity Devi – are considered the founders of modern Cooch Behar.

West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation sources said the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) was entrusted to renovate the palace and they did it within two years. The total cost of thorough renovation was about Rs 50-lakh. After completion of the job the CPWD handed over the palace to the WBTDC. Now, a heritage guesthouse is going to come up there.

A luxurious restaurant and a dining hall have also come up beside the palace for the VVIP guests. Other visitors can also taste delicious foods at the restaurant. WBTDC has spent about Rs 39-lakh to build up this facility. The guesthouse is meant for VVIPs especially foreign tourists. Rich Indians who can afford the cost may also get accommodation here. There would be only four luxurious suits. These are fitted with all modern cosy equipments, plasma TVs and star class bathrooms. Two suits are in the ground floor and two are on the first floor. Charge of a suit may be about Rs 4,500 but the rate may be lesser as introductory offer, sources said.

It is expected that Deccan Charters may launch its air service through Cooch Behar Airport within a few days and it may be helpful for the new heritage guesthouse to get the expected VVIP guests. -Debashis Bhaumik.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Furore over primary teachers recruitment

Different organisations came out against alleged 'faulty and corrupted' procedure in recruiting primary school teachers. They demanded the procedure should be kept aloof from clutches of the leaders of the ruling party (read the CPI-M).

Secretary of Cooch Behar district unit of West Bengal Primary Teachers' Association Mr Avijit Dutta alleged that the District Primary School Council (DPSC) is no more a legally valid body and so it has no right to recruit teachers for primary schools. They demanded suspension of the recruitment process and submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate in support of their demand. They also demanded presence of no member in the interview committee related in any manner with any candidate.

President of Cooch Behar district unit of Trinamul Youth Congress Kumar Rajib Narayan said they already staged demonstrations at the office of the chairman of the DPSC. He alleged that the DPSC is associated with corruption, appeasement of kin of leaders of the ruling party and irregular procedure in recruitment. Alleging lack of transparency in recruitment process he demanded releasing of candidates' names and marks obtained by them in written examination and viva voce test.

Cooch Behar district unit of Chhatra Parishad also came out against the 'faulty' recruitment system. President of the district CP Mr Rakesh Chaudhury said they also staged demonstrations at the DM office and the DPSC office. He said the viva voce test of the candidates would be held on 11-16 August. Prior to that a few dishonest persons are engaged in earning a huge sum by promising jobs to the candidates who already passed the written examination. On the otherhand the relatives of the leaders of ruling parties are getting unwanted and ill-motivated opportunities to be recruited, he alleged.

Cooch Behar district magistrate Ms Smaraki Mahapatra made it clear that she would initiate a probe if she gets specific complaints over the recruitment system. The DPSC chairman Mr Kanak Mohanta however denied any discrepancy or irregularity in the recruitment process and winded up the allegation of corruption. - Debashis Bhaumik.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


Smt. Smaraki Mahapatra
District Magistrate,Cooch Behar
Dear Madam,
Please accept my sincere regards.I am writing this e-mail to convey my concerrn over the callous and un professional approach by the Jenkins School Administration over the 150 year jubilee celebration.It is a high matter of regret that  instead of a high level of commiment by its all alumni through out India and in abroad, there seems to be no effort on the part of the authorities to celebrate the occasion, leaving its alumni disappointed as well as angry and the school authoity have failed to gear up the necessary momentum and enthusiasm to celebrate the cause with a high note.

As it is very well known that located in the heart of town, the government-run institution has been declared a heritage property. The school is among the most beautiful edifices in the town renowned for its architectural marvels left behind by the erstwhile princes of Cooch Behar.

I passed my Madhyamik and Higher Secondary exams from Jenkins School and I am proud to have studied in an institution that is a shining example of the education scene in Cooch Behar 150 years ago. I am really disappointed that no one is inclined to celebrate such a landmark year. Along with thousands of  former students, I do strongly feel that your intervention is heavily demanded in the following situation as the school authority did not seem to be interested in the matter for some unknown reasons.

Many alumni including me are willing to donate and contribute academically for our school.

Look forward to hear from you with much eager.


Amitava Rakshit


Dr.Amitava Rakshit Ph.D.(IIT,KGP), Diploma in Natural Resources(Greece)TWAS-Nxt Fellow, Biovision-Nxt Fellow(France)
Department of Soil Science & Agricultural Chemistry
& Principal Investigator :P26/69 (Council of Science &Technology)
Member, Editorial Board  '' INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURE ENVIRONMENT AND BIOTECHNOLOGY" and "Asian Journal of Agricultural Sciences "
Evaluator of Young Innovators' Awards Program (
Varanasi-5, UP, India
E mail:

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Jenkins School 150

The Jenkins School, one the best schools in north Bengal, is going to complete its 150 anniversary in February 2011. But the authorities are yet to take any initiative to celebrate the event. The 125th anniversary was also passed off without any celebration. Alleging this the president of Cooch Behar Town Block unit of Trinamul Chhatra Parishad Mr Manoj Roy and others submitted a memorandum to the head master of the school. They demanded immediate initiative to celebrate the completion of 150 year of the school. Mr Roy said the authorities were expected to take initiatives in February of this tear but they ignored the sentiment of the students and ex-students of the school.

Many eminent ex-students too demanded celebration of the 150 year of Jenkins School. On the otherhand, the school authorities said they would convey the demand to the higher authorities in state education department. - Debashis Bhaumik

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


A dream-bridge comes true in Alipurduar

The residents of Josodanga village under Alipurduar-II block constructed a bridge over Bamni river on their own. It is hard to cross the river during the monsoon. The swelling river causes damage to farmlands and dwellings too. As they failed to draw attention of the authorities concerned to make a permanent bridge over the river they made it in their indigenous technology. Now it became easier for the residents of villages like Sibkata, Dhalkar and Josodanga under Majher-dabri Gram Panchayat to go the block development office, block health centre, land reforms office and the lone high school by crossing the Bamni river through the bridge.

In winter months the villagers have to cross the river on foot, as the water level remains low. On behalf of block administration a bamboo made bridge also comes up there. This temporary bridge flashes out when heavy downpour inflates the river. During the rainy season the river turns dangerous. Country boats are the main mode of transport during the monsoon. It is risky for the students, farmers, patients and all others to cross the river by boat. But they have to do it, as there is no better alternative.

This year, the locals have decided to construct a suspension bridge on their own. The plan behind it is that such a bridge may not flash out even if the water level of the river rises. Following the plan they constructed the bridge by collecting subscriptions from the villagers. It took about Rs 20,000. They made it with bamboo, wooden posts and galvanised iron wires. The bridge is hanging at a height of about 10-feet from the river-level. "Earlier we made appeals to the authorities but all those gone to deaf ears but at last we proved our worth because we are now crossing the river without any fear of washing out", said a proud elderly villager.