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Monday, April 12, 2010

Water ration in Kalimpong

TT, Kalimpong, April 11: The water scarcity in Kalimpong has forced villagers to ration water to suppliers pumping it out from springs and restaurants to restrict their sales.
The hill subdivision has received little rain since October 15. The commercial supply of water to Kalimpong — after collecting it from springs and jhoras in the nearby Upper Dungra — had been stopped for two days following a feud between the villagers and drivers of water-carrying jeeps.
The main grouse of the people was that the commercial pumping from the springs was affecting the local people’s source of water, especially at a time the water sources were fast drying up.
Most of the residents in the town depend on these springs to meet their daily requirements. The suppliers charge between Rs 150 and Rs 200 for 1,000 litres of water.
“The jeeps resumed supplying water from today after we worked out an amicable solution with the Dungra residents. Henceforth, a jeep will be allowed to carry water from the three springs in the village not more than six times a day. Commercial establishments will also have to make do with restricted supply of water. If water has to be supplied from sources located much away from the town, the prices will go up,” said Dorji Tshering Bhutia, the president of the Chalak Mahasangh, affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Restaurant owners are worried that if the water scarcity persists for some more time, they may have to wind up business. “I require 2,000 litres of water a day to run my hotel. If there is a shortage of supply, my business will be severely hampered,” said Kumar Gurung, the owner of Shikhar Restaurant.
Some hotels have already restricted sales. “I had to shut down my restaurant yesterday, as there was no water. The hotel is open today, but limited food items have been prepared as I could manage to get only 1,000 litres of water,” said Manohar Chourasia, the owner of Hotel Aditya.
Smatter of drops, but a great relief
TT, Siliguri, April 11: A 10-minute shower in the evening today brought the much-awaited relief to the people of Siliguri from the sweltering heat.
The rain, however, was devoid of its characteristic gusty wind prevalent at this time of the year and weather experts have ruled it out as a Nor’wester which, they said, will take another week to arrive.
“This is a scattered rainfall caused by incursion of some amount of moisture in the air. Some areas in Sevoke, Jalpaiguri and Sikkim have been receiving such showers for the past few weeks. We can expect few more such showers before the Nor’wester finally arrives,” said G.N. Raha, an official of the Regional Meteorological Office at Jalpaiguri.
Subir Sarkar, the in-charge of North Bengal University’s weather station, said the four to five millilitre rainfall in the evening was the result of local phenomenon. “This is definitely not a kalbaishaki which has not arrived in the region as yet,” he said.
With the average temperature in north Bengal reaching 35 degrees Celsius, rain has remained elusive since October except for a smattering here and there. Added to the heat is the regular power cuts.
Raha said: “Normally an anti-cyclonic circulation that forms over the Bay of Bengal pushes the moisture-laden winds towards north and south Bengal. Such a condition will form after one week. We can expect Nor’westers after that.”
The official, however, ruled out a heat wave-like condition in north Bengal like the one that has gripped south Bengal. “Although, westerly winds are blowing in the region, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts will not experience a heat wave-like condition,” he said. The strong westerly winds blowing from north and western parts tend to push away rain-bearing clouds, causing the air to be dry and dusty.
Cops kill leopard to save officer- Big cat mauls 11 villagers
TT, Siliguri, April 11: Policemen today gunned down a leopard when it tried to attack their officer who had gone to a Jalpaiguri village to assist the forest department in capturing the animal that had mauled 11 people.
The leopard is an endangered species under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The act says that in case of shooting, tranquillising or translocating the animal, permission needs to be obtained from the chief wildlife warden of the state.
The foresters said the male leopard aged around seven years had sneaked into Shikaripara village in Dhupguri block from the nearby Khuttimari forest around 9.30am today.
“The leopard attacked one villager after another. Hearing the news, guards from the wildlife squads of Binnaguri and Malbazar reached the village to tranquillise and capture the animal,” Atanu Raha, the principal chief conservator of the state, said over the phone from Calcutta.
The officer said as the day rolled, the animal mauled a few more residents. “Our guards were taking appropriate steps to tranquillise the animal when it made a bid to attack the inspector-in-charge of Banarhat police station,” said Raha.
N.K. Majumdar, the inspector-in-charge who had reached the village to assist the foresters, reportedly had a close shave. As the carnivore poised to spring, which the police claimed was aimed at the officer, he fired one shot at its leg, followed by five more rounds by constables standing nearby.
Wildlife NGOs have blamed the forest department for the incident. “Man-animal conflict has become a regular feature in north Bengal districts, particularly in the fringe villages. Still, there has been no initiative on the part of the foresters to create awareness among people on the precautions to be taken if a leopard enters their locality,” said Animesh Bose, a member of the State Board for Wildlife.
“The competency of the foresters who went to capture the leopard is questionable as they failed to net the animal even though it mauled 11 people,” he added.
The 11 people with deep scratch marks on different parts of the body were admitted to Jalpaiguri District Hospital.

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