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Monday, June 14, 2010

Chamling is behind the SC petition: GJM Baseless allegations, asserts petitioner......Fire in operation theatre.., Gangtok: Following the contempt notices issued by the Supreme Court to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung and joint secretary Binay Tamang on the basis of contempt of court petition filed by Sikkimese advocate OP Bhandari, the party has claimed the involvement of Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling behind the whole legal affair.
The Chief Minister of Sikkim is behind the petition filed in the Supreme Court by OP Bhandari, said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri to media in Darjeeling over the contempt notices issued to the party chief.
According to reports published by two Siliguri based newspapers, the GJM general secretary further accused Chamling of being ‘anti-Gorkha and anti-Gorkhaland’.
 Oxygen cylinders trigger panic in NBMCH
TT, Siliguri, June 13: A fire broke out from an AC in the operation theatre of the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital’s emergency ward today, triggering panic because of the presence of 10 oxygen cylinders. Local people joined in a prompt evacuation drive in the adjacent wards and brought out 30 patients.
At 11.30am, Anil Ghosh, a visitor, who was standing near the main door leading to the emergency ward, noticed wisps of faint black smoke coming out of the OT. By the time he reached the OT door, the smoke had thickened and had filled the entire room and had started to billow out into the corridors and the male and the female casualty wards.
“Some people standing next to me, too, noticed the smoke. In no time, the smoke had spread all over the building. Nurses and relatives were running here and there to evacuate the patients from the emergency ward. We also started helping them,” said Ghosh, who had come to see his wife admitted to the gynaecology ward.
Swapna Bishnu, a nurse at the NBMCH, had just finished cleaning the OT and was in the adjoining room stowing away surgical masks, when the relative of a patient informed her of the smoke coming out of the OT. “I had left the OT around 11.15am. The floor of the OT had just been mopped. So, I had left the AC on so that it would dry. We rushed in to see that the AC had caught fire and thick smoke was emanating from it. I immediately called the ward master who informed the NBMCH authorities,” Swapna said.
Soon the local people rushed in and started helping the hospital staff in evacuating the patients. They had to break the lock of an alternative exit of the male casualty ward since smoke had filled the main exit.
“There was no way we could take the patients out of the main exit and so we broke the lock of the alternative exit. The patients were frail and weak and it took us some time to take them out but all are safe,” said Pallav Sarkar, a resident of the area.
Altogether, 30 patients were in the male and female casualty wards and the burns unit at the time of the incident. The patients were kept on the verandah for around 20 minutes before they were accommodated in the female orthopaedic ward and male surgical ward on the instruction of the superintendent of the NBMCH, Samir Ghosh Roy.
“Smoke had filled our ward and I started panicking and called out for my mother in despair. Soon some men came, put me in a wheelchair and took me out of the building,” said Suparna Biswas, who had been admitted to the female casualty ward with a fractured right leg.
Two fire tenders reached the hospital from the Matigara fire station, 8km away, around 11.45am and doused the flames within one hour.
“We took out nearly 10 oxygen cylinders from the OT in time. If they had burst, the fire would have spread and the damage caused would have been very serious,” said Sudhansu Majumdar, a fire officer.
Asked about fire fighting arrangements at the NBMCH, the superintendent said: “We have fire protection arrangements but they were not adequate to deal with this kind of blaze.”
“Excess electricity had flowed into the plug point of the AC which caused the fire. There is no proper fire protection and prevention mechanism at the NBMCH. On several occasions earlier, we had recommended the installation of proper fire protection arrangements and regular check-ups of the electrical system but got no response from the authorities,” said U.N. Adhikari, the deputy director of the fire department (north Bengal)
Tea gardens in India watered by Bhutan
TT, Jaigaon, June 13: If dams are modern India’s temples, a group of eight tea gardens in Jalpaiguri district have been the new religion’s outcastes.

Six decades after independence, these gardens have never tasted Indian water, their 60,000 residents perhaps alone in the country in being denied a necessity that even parched Rajasthan can claim by right.
But now these tea estates, which have for almost a century drunk and bathed in mountain water imported from neighbouring Bhutan, are ready to enter India’s water supply map in six weeks’ time, thanks to a central scheme.
Ever since they came into existence a century ago near the Bhutan foothills, these gardens have been drawing water for their households from the Himalayan streams and lakes across the border, through pipelines built with the garden authorities’ own money.
The surplus water went into the tea bushes and factories, which otherwise made do with the local groundwater — unfit for drinking or household use — pumped out by tube wells.
But from the middle of July, deep tube wells will start pumping clean water from several hundred feet under the Indian soil to these gardens in Nagrakata block under the Sajal Dhara scheme.
After these tea gardens came up, their owners had approached the local authorities in Bhutan’s Samtse district and requested the use of their water, which they had in plenty, a senior Bhutan government official said.
The gardens then laid pipes, some up to 5km long, through Bhutan’s forests and hills and erected high reservoirs in that country, employing local Bhutanese labour.
“It was an agreement between the tea gardens and our people that epitomises the friendship between the two countries,” the official said.
The arrangement continued even after Independence, when the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, highlighted the importance of public water supply by terming irrigation dams the “temples of modern India” along with power stations.
In the 1980s, Thimphu told the Samtse administration to levy a “water rent” on the eight gardens as a “commercial token”.
The tax was nominal considering the 36 lakh litres the gardens drew every day, and ranged between Rs 3,000 and Rs 6,000 a year, the official said. The agreement, renewed annually or biannually, allowed Bhutanese farmers to enter the “adjacent Indian territory” to “graze cattle, collect fodder” and forage for “wood and thatches during the day time”.
That pact will come to an end when work under Sajal Dhara, which started on May 28, is completed. District public health engineering (PHE) sources said the pumps would supply 8,000 to 12,000 litres of water an hour to each of the eight gardens: Carron, Changmari, Gatiya, Bandapani, Chamurchi, Lankapara, Jiti and Makrapara.
“We are looking forward to getting our own water. Now, when supply is disrupted, we have to walk up to a kilometre to fetch fresh water. Also, the water often becomes muddy during the rains and we have to strain it,” said Sabitri Baraik, a worker at Carron.
The Centre is funding 90 per cent of the deep tube-well project, with the gardens providing the rest of the money. Each garden will need to pay between Rs 9 lakh and Rs 20 lakh, the assistant engineer of the Jalpaiguri PHE department, Aniruddha Bhattacharya, said. Carron will need to cough up Rs 20 lakh.
“We had to bore more than 300 feet deep to get water in Carron tea estate,” said Prabhas Barman, a supervisor with the private company boring the tube wells.
Under the agreement with Thimphu, renewed the last time on November 30, 2008, the gardens were to build pucca water channels and water locking gates to prevent soil erosion in Bhutan. They had to “build strong bridges/covers over the Channel at path/passage for safe crossing” of humans and live stock and “prevent pollution of the water supply”.
In Calcutta, Bhutan consul-general Tsering Wangda welcomed the development. “This is a very good development that water has been found on the Indian side. Therefore, as far as water resources are concerned, both sides will be independent of each other. Moreover, the Bhutanese people will have more water to use,” Wangda said.
He said Bhutan’s decision to let these gardens use its water was based on the “mutual trust and friendship the two countries enjoyed”.
Survey nod for three Teesta projects- CSlearance after changes in barrage height
TT, Gangtok, June 13: The Centre has given permission for the resumption of survey and investigations for three power projects with a combined potential of 709MW on the Teesta and its tributaries in North Sikkim.
The projects had been put on hold following an adverse report submitted by the University of Delhi’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environment (CISMHE) last year.
The CISMHE, in the report on the carrying capacity of the Teesta in Sikkim, had recommended that six power projects proposed above Chungthang in North Sikkim should not be considered because of ecological sensitivity of the area. Based on the recommendation, the ministry of environment and forests had ordered the state government to stop all activities at the six sites.
The projects were Teesta Stage I (280MW), Teesta Stage II (330MW), Lachen (120MW), Bop (99MW), Bimkyong (99MW) and Lachung (99MW).
However, the Sikkim government and the developers approached the ministry with their own reports and got permission to resume the survey and the investigations for Teesta Stage I, Teesta Stage II and Lachung, said state power department officials here.
The ministry gave the go-ahead for the survey after some modifications had been made in the technical requirements for the project. The modifications mainly related to the height of the barrages and the area that the reservoirs would cover, the officials said.
The nod was given after reports had been submitted by experts from the ministry who had inspected the power sites in March.
In its order on May 31, the ministry told the developers of Teesta Stage I that the nod was only to facilitate geological investigations and hydrological studies and the project authorities should get back to it before they prepared the Environment Impact Assessment/Environment Management Plans.
Similar permission has been given to the Teesta Stage II and the project on the Lachung, a tributary of the Teesta, said state power secretary Pema Wangchen. “Survey and investigation are important for preparing detailed project reports which need to be approved by the Central Electricity Authority and then sent to the ministry for environmental clearance,” he said.
The state government and developers are yet to receive similar clearances from the ministry for the projects on the Bhimkyong, Bop and Lachen — other tributaries of the Teesta

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