Thursday, 31 March 2011


Free for all footpaths at Mathabhanga town

Encroachment of footpaths along different streets and roads is a major problem in Mathabhanga sub-divisional town in Cooch Behar district. At many places the hawkers and small stallholders occupied the footpaths to run their business. As the footpaths are being used for other purposes the streets are narrowing. Occupying the footpaths and even encroaching the roads a number of constructions came up in this town.  Now, it is hard for the pedestrians and even vehicles to pass through the roads safely and easily. Citizens complain that the municipal authority is not looking after the problem. Students are the worst sufferers, as many of them have to go to their schools on foot.

Many shops along the Bazar Road came down to the road from the footpath. A shopping complex also came up adjacent to the road. The condition of the busy Immigration Road from Shani Mandir to Minibus Stand is also similar. The footpath along this road is under control of the encroachers. The civic body constructed a footpath with railings but ignoring it the hawkers are using the railings to hang their merchandise to attract buyers. It also turned a problem for the pedestrians. Eateries came up on the newly built footpath in front of the police station. The footpath along Manimala Road is also under the encroachers. They have occupied almost all footpaths along the streets in the town like Sitalkuchi Road, Boarding Road, BN Road, Manomohan Road and Ashutosh Road.

A number of citizens alleged that the Mathabhanga Municipality conducts its duty by mere public announcement asking the encroachers to leave the footpaths. These announcements fall in deaf ears and no one was found eager to leave the footpath. The authorities are not interested in evicting the encroachers and take any action against the illegal constructions, they alleged.

When asked, the chairperson of Mathabhanga Municipality Ms Kokila Sinha admitted that due to different reasons it is not possible for them to evict the illegal encroachers. She however assured that the issue would be tabled in the next meeting of the municipal board.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


West Bengal forest minister Mr Ananta Roy during a poll campaign at Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar.


NOC for two colleges to lure voters

State forest minister Mr Ananta Roy is contesting again from Mathabhanga Assembly segment as a CPI-M candidate. According to his supporters he will get votes from the people, as he was able to bring no objection certificates (NOC) for establishment of two colleges in a single block.

It is hard to get two colleges in a block in any district. But, Mr Roy did the impossible. And now he is expecting votes in return of his effort. The CPI-M is using the college issue in its electioneering in favour of Mr Roy's candidature.

In the recent past the ruling party was in an awkward position due to the popular demand for setting up a college in Mathabhanga-II block. When the demand rose to its height Mr Roy came out as saviour and brought NOC for establishment of a college at Ghoksadanga. Following the development, locals of Nishiganj turned agitated and demanded another college in their area. That demand was also met with another NOC. Thus, the Mathabhanga-II block received two NOCs for two colleges. In return, Mr Roy is hopeful of getting the voters' support. Not only NOC, financial approval was also issued for setting up the two colleges, Mr Roy claimed. He also assured that after the election the Left Front government would play its role to build up the proposed colleges.

The opposition camp is however, not pleased. They termed the NOCs as lollypops to lure voters. It is nothing but poll politics, they said.

The Trinamul Congress candidate of Mathabhanga, Mr Binay Krishna Barman alleged that the forest minister failed to satisfy the people of Mathabhanga from where he won in 2006. He is now trying to lure the common people. Taking it granted that the Trinamul Congress is going to form the next state government, Mr Barman said they would build the proposed two colleges, as it is impossible for the Left Front. The NOCs have been issued under condition that these colleges are to be run by own financial support and then it is nothing but a stunt to claim votes by showing those NOCs, he retorted. 


Rebel candidates jeopardise poll patterns

Official district unit leaderships of the Congress and the Trinamul Congress are on the same boat. They are facing a similar problem and that is the rebellion inside their organisations. The aggrieved rebels have gone so far that they dared to field independent candidates against the official candidates. At least Dinhata and Mekhliganj already witnessed it.

A resident of Dinhata, Dr Fazle Haque is a senior Congress leader. Once he was in the ministry led by the then chief minister Siddhartha Sankar Ray. In the 2006 Assembly election he won from neighbouring Sitai constituency as a Congress candidate. This time he expressed his eagerness to contest from Dinhata as the Sitai seat has been declared as a reserved one. The rebel camp in the Congress, the Youth Congress came out with a decision to support Mr Haque. A large section of Trinamul Congress supporters also expected to support him. Many supporters of the Greater Cooch Behar movement may also support him aiming defeat of the Left Front sponsored Forward Bloc candidate, Mr Udayan Guha.

But, Dinhata is the winning seat of the Trinamul Congress. They replaced the outgoing MLA Mr Ashok Mandal with its state unit general secretary Mr Mihir Goswami. Since then rebels became more active.  Later, the Dinhata seat was gifted to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) that is almost a non-entity here.

District Congress president Mr Shyamal Chaudhury said according to the PCC's instruction they would campaign in favour of the alliance supported candidate. If anyone comes up to campaign against the official candidate or tries to contest as independent candidate the matter will be conveyed to the PCC.

The Youth Congress leadership also made it known that they are not pleased with the official Congress candidates, Mr Jayanta Roy at Mekhliganj and Mr Keshab Roy at Sitai. It may affect the polling pattern of the Congress-Trinamul Congress alliance.

Mekhliganj is one of the two seats that the Congress got from the alliance. Here, a local Trinamul Congress leader, Mr Sunil Roy came up to contest and it is believed that a large section of the supporters of the Congress and the Trinamul Congress may support him, as he stood second in the previous election against the FB candidate. The local Congressmen are not happy with their official candidate, Mr Jayanta Roy. They wanted Mr Mrintunjay Singha Sarkar as the candidate and the district YC leadership also spoke in favour of him. Local Trinamul Congress activists wanted the seat for a Trinamul candidate but it was allotted to the Congress. Following the development they fielded Mr Sunil Roy. Here, the Left Front sponsored Forward Bloc candidate is the food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary.

Perturbed with the situation, the district Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said, the seat sharing was done by the state unit leaderships of the two parties. "We should abide by the instructions laid down by the state leadership. We must report all matters to them related with the situation that can disturb the unity of the alliance", he said. 

Monday, 14 March 2011

Tough fight for FB to retain Cooch Behar Uttar seat

Cooch Behar town is known as the stronghold of the Congress for a long. Cooch Behar Municipality was a Congress-run body till the previous civic election. But, the Trinamul Congress is a partner in the existing municipal board. After delimitation of the Cooch Behar Uttar Assembly constituency the town has been excluded from this constituency.

In the previous two Assembly polls the Forward Bloc's candidate won from this seat. But after delimitation it is no more a safe one for them. Due to change of status of this seat from 'general' to 'reserve' the Forward Bloc fielded a new face to contest from this constituency.

In the previous two elections Mr Dipak Sarkar won from this seat defeating ex-MLA Mr Mihir Goswami (Trinamul Congress). In 2001, Mr Sarkar bagged 57,170 votes while Mr Goswami got 38,813 votes. In 2006, Mr Sarkar pulled 67,997 votes and Mr Goswami got 36,325 votes. This time it is difficult for the Forward Bloc to use the image of the outgoing MLA as a 'wind of change' is blowing all over. The leadership of the Forward Bloc however not ready to admit their fear and so they are expressing their confidence in wining the seat again with a new candidate from scheduled caste community.

Cooch Behar Uttar Assembly segment is made of 13 Gram Panchayat areas under Cooch Behar-II block. After two consecutive terms of Mr Dipak Sarkar, this time the Forward Bloc fielded here a new candidate, Mr Nagendra Nath Roy.

In 2006, twenty wards of Cooch Behar Municipality were also in this Assembly segment, but this time these wards have been excluded due to delimitation. Though the stronghold areas the Congress got excluded, the Forward Bloc is not in a happy mood. Because, as a whole the votes in favour the leftists are going down considerably in recent times. In 2001, Mr Sarkar had acquired 46.88 percent votes and in 2006 he got 48.40 percent votes. In the Lok Sabha election of 2009, the Left Front candidate bagged only 43.08 percent votes from this Assembly segment. In the three-tier panchayat elections held in 2003, the leftists were able to capture 12 Gram Panchayats out of 13 Gram Panchayats in this Assembly constituency area. But, in 2008 they were able to retain six GPs only. Though the influence of the leftists is decreasing in this area the Forward is not ready to admit it. They are trying to woo the voters by pointing out that the opposition-run panchayat bodies are not functioning well and transparently. As a result, the Forward Bloc candidate has a greater chance to win from this segment again.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Construction of Railway Heritage Museum starts

Construction of a new building to room the Railway Heritage Museum is going on in Cooch Behar. The new building is coming up adjacent to Cooch Behar Railway Station. It is expected that construction of the new building may be completed by the end of the year.

According to practiced norms the railway museums are erected following the model of a local heritage building. In Cooch Behar the proposed museum building is being constructed following the structure of the historic Madan Mohan temple.

Additional divisional railway manager (ADRM) of North East Frontier Railway's Alipurduar division, Mr Indrajit Singh said the proposed building is being constructed at about 1000 square-feet area adjacent to Cooch Behar Railway Station. He expects the work to be completed by September of this year if no major problem comes up. A fund to the tune of Rs 7.62 crore has been allocated for the purpose, he said.

NF Railway sources said, historic articles and documents of the then Cooch Behar State Railway, Eastern Bengal Railway, Bengal Dooars Railway, old instruments, ticket box, drawings, furniture, trolleys, water columns and many other materials are to be displayed in the gallery of the museum. A library room will also be there, where books on railways and its history and also of cultural heritage of North-eastern India would be kept for curious readers and researchers. In the auditorium there will be facility for screening of documentary films and staging of cultural programmes.

Laying of railway tracks began in Cooch Behar in 1883 in a bid to connect the then princely state of Cooch Behar with railways of other parts of Bengal. But, prior to that, a railway station came up at Haldibari, on the western side of the Cooch Behar State in 1876. The new railway museum may throw light to that closed chapter of history again to the present generation believe many. Union railway minister Ms Mamata Banerjee laid the foundation of the proposed Railway Heritage Museum in Cooch Behar on 29 October in 2009. From that day a museum came up in a small room in Cooch Behar Railway Station with a few age-old articles, artefacts and documents. After completion of the new building the museum would be shifted to spacious rooms with many more objects for exhibition.

Secretary of Cooch Behar Heritage Society Mr Arup Jyoti Majumdar believes it will attract tourists and visitors to Cooch Behar from outer places and may act as a booster to develop the tourism industry in this region. Mr Shibendra Nath Roy of Concern for Cooch Behar also expressed his pleasure over the decision of the railway ministry to establish a full-fledged railway heritage museum in the heritage town of Cooch Behar.