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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

DGP arrived... Power loss in hill 60 crore...Tribal for Delhi

KalimNews: Deputy General of Police Bhupinder Singh arrived in Siliguri. He is on a visit of Darjeeling from 11th to 13th August. DGP will inaugurate Police Public Friendship Football Tournament at Dali Gound near Dali Police quarter, Darjeeling on 12th. The inaugurating match will be played between Dali Police line  and Jawahar Friends Club at 10 am. He will also inaugurate the newly constructed building of Bhaktinagar Police Station on 12th at 4 pm.On 13th he will return to Kolkata.
Plea for More forces
Bhupinder Singh in Darjeeling on Wednesday. Picture by Suman Tamang
TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 11: The state government has requested two additional companies of paramilitary forces for the hills, an indication that the authorities are apprehensive of a law and order problem even if a deal for an interim set-up is struck with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Director general of police Bhupinder Singh, while on a two-day day “routine” visit to Darjeeling, admitted that the request had been sent to the Union home ministry. “Yes, a request has been sent,” said Singh.
The ministry had earlier sent three companies of paramilitary forces largely to keep open NH31A, an arterial link for Sikkim with the rest of the country. Following the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang on May 21, the paramilitary forces were deployed in the Darjeeling hills also.
Observers believe the fresh request for additional forces is probably to stem any violence that may erupt if the Morcha and the government agree to the interim set-up for the hills. This is largely because the anti-Morcha outfits in the hills have already voiced their resentment over the set-up. Moreover, there is a possibility of police making more arrests in connection with the murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang.
However, the state government is looking at the August 17 meeting before drawing up a fresh policing policy for the hills. Officials of the Centre and the state are scheduled to meet the Morcha leaders in Delhi to firm up the interim set-up.
“The meeting is taking place on August 17 and there could or could not be a political agreement. After the meeting, we will redraw our policing strategy,” said Singh.
Till date, the state has adopted a non-confrontation policy in the hills. 
KalimNews: DG Singh said to the reporters that in no case GLPs will be allowed to occupy DGHC Tourists Lodge . But Police will wait till August 17.
Strike withdrawn
KalimNews: Indefinite strike called by transport unions of Jalpaiguri is withdrawn after receiving some assurances from the administration. Joint Committee of all transport unions met Vandana Yadhav DM of Jalpaiguri and reminded her of their 6 point charter of demands. Union was assured of remedial measures such as the NH 31D will be shortly repaired, Trial of drivers during accidents under Section 304 will be reviewed by the concerned department and their salaries will also reviewed by labour Commissioner.
TT, Siliguri: Employees of private buses, trucks and commercial light vehicles in Jalpaiguri district withdrew their indefinite strike on Wednesday evening after the administration promised to look into their demands. The strike began on Tuesday under the banner of the Joint Action Committee to demand the speedy repair of national highways in north Bengal, hike in wages and a stop to “harassment” of drivers after accidents.  
Under current in GJMM committee of Tindharia
KalimNews: GJMM Tindharia Block Committee is not happy with the decisions of Central and Subdivisional Committee Kurseong. It was evident from the meeting of 11th August in Tindharia  that there is a cold war amongst  the committees. Rajen Pradhan Vice President of DTDPLU a frontal wing of GJMM vehemently opposed the decisions of the upper tier committees and made his speech in favour of Bimal Darjee a pioneer of GJMM and Central Committee member. Recently some misunderstandings and controversy is cropped up amongst the committees regarding the activities of Bimal Darjee. In the meeting Bimal Darjee too said that he is ready to resign from the party.
Power revenue loss in hills clocks Rs 60 crore Electricity line snap ruled out

TT,Siliguri, Aug. 11: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s non-cooperation movement and boycott of government taxes and revenues have cost the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited Rs 60 crore and counting.
Malay Kumar De, the chairperson and managing director of the company, who was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on power organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, said the state government’s help had been sought to resolve the crisis as the loss increases with each passing month.
The Morcha had stopped paying revenue-related bills like telephone, power and other central and state levies since April 2008.
“Considering the present state of affairs in the hills, we are not in a position either to collect the money due to us or disconnect the power line of the defaulters. The amount due in the three hill subdivision of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling is Rs 60 crore since April 2008 and we have approached the state government to provide necessary support to realise the money,” De told reporters.
Without naming any individual or political party, he hinted that the situation in the hills was such that disconnecting lines to defaulting households would cause a law and order problem and also have adverse effects on the company staff and assets. At present, though the company carries out maintenance and repairs in the hills, all its bill collection counters continue to remain closed.
De avoided commenting on any specific reason why the department is unable to collect the amount and said: “Till March 2008, the collection in the hills was normal. Irregularities started only after that. But once we get the assistance from the government, it would be easier for us to collect the amount.” He, however, did not elaborate on the kind of assistance he expected from the state government.
According to officials of the company posted in the hills, there was no question of disconnecting electricity connections in the hills. “We maintain and repair the power lines on a regular basis and will continue to do so till further orders. If we start disconnecting lines there is a strong likelihood of a law and order problem,” a staff member of the company in Darjeeling said. He said the average monthly collection from electricity bills in the three hill subdivisions was Rs 2 crore.
De said the department would introduce pre-paid meter in all the major towns in the state very shortly for which no security deposit would be required.
“We have already introduced such meters in Salt Lake in Calcutta a couple of months back and within next five to six months we will also introduce it in Siliguri, Asansol and Durgapur,” he said.
The company has recently introduced round-the-clock maintenance services in all its zones including Siliguri that comprises Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts. Pradip Dey, the Siliguri zonal manager, said the toll free number for maintenance is 18003453206. 
Tribal outfit to bypass Bengal for Delhi 
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 11: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today said it would stop agitating to achieve its demands and would no longer sit across the table with the Bengal government. Instead, from now on, the outfit would negotiate directly with the Centre.
“We are fed up with empty promises of the state government. From now on, we will talk only to the Centre,” said Rajesh Lakra, the general secretary of the Terai Dooars regional unit of the Parishad at a news conference here this afternoon.
“Our workers and supporters in the Dooars and Terai are disgruntled and if we continue to bank on the state government which would do nothing for us, the movement we are leading might deviate from democratic means and take an ugly turn. We have thus decided to withdraw all agitation and demonstrations against the state and will no more sit for bipartite talks with the Bengal ministers. It is up to the state to decide as to what it would do for our people and has to prove its sincerity to win back our confidence.”
Although the Parishad leadership evaded questions on whether their new found intimacy with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had anything to do with their stand, the tribal leaders hinted that it did play a role.
The Parishad had set seven conditions for the Morcha against which it would support the hill party. The Morcha leaders have indicated they are likely to accept most of the demands.
This, and the Morcha’s stand to talk only to Delhi, might have encouraged the tribal outfit.
“It is natural that unless some specific and concrete assurances had been made, an organisation like the Parishad would not have taken the stand of virtually abandoning or bypassing the state to talk to the Centre,” a tribal leader said.
John Barla, president of the Dooars Terai unit of the Parishad, said he has not yet received any formal feedback of his letter to Morcha president Bimal Gurung.
“We want to reiterate that these are regional issues and it seems that our state leaders cannot perceive the true spirit of our decision,” he said.
“If our demands are not met, we have to think of alternative options, one of which is joining hands with the Morcha, particularly when we are fighting on similar issues and want peace and amity to prevail among the tribals and the Gorkhas.”
“We are aware that the next rounds of tripartite talks would be held on August 1. However, no invitation has reached us from the Morcha’s side so far to join the tripartite talks along with their delegates,” he added.
Pinak Priya Bhattacharya, TNN, SILIGURI: Adivasis in the Dooars may soon join hands with GJM to fight for the creation of a separate state comprising the Darjeeling Hills, the Terai and the Dooars in North Bengal.
This was indicated by two top Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) leaders, John Barla and Rajesh Lakra, in Siliguri on Wednesday. The duo told the media that they would drop their ongoing agitation against the state govt and opt for a new movement that would help them take their case to the Centre. Till now, the Adivasis have been fighting for issues like employment and educational facilities.
Barla and Lakra are president and secretary of ABAVP's Dooars-Terai unit, respectively. In May, GJM had asked ABAVP to join its statehood stir. To woo the tribals, it even renamed its proposed state, Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh.
"We've lost our faith in the the state government. It's pointless to go the the Bengal govt.
"It's because of the state government's step-motherly attitude that we are forced to look for other options. We're discussing ways to launch an alternative movement, which can be an agitation for separation from Bengal," Barla pointed out.
The hardening of attitude by the Adivasis indicated a possible emergence of a new political equation in North Bengal. Recently, responding to GJM's appeal for a joint stir, ABAVP's Dooars-Terai unit had said it wouldn't mind joining the statehood movement if the Gorkha party 
changed the "communal name" of Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh. "If GJM sheds that name, there remains practically no hurdle," Barla said on Wednesday.
On August 17, GJM will sit for another round of tripartite talks on an interim set-up in New Delhi. The hills party has demanded inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai in the proposed set-up along with the Darjeeling Hills.
Considering the latest change of stance by the Adivasis on GJM, tribal leaders in the Dooars and the Terai may not oppose the interim proposal. Earlier, the Adivasis had opposed GJM in the Dooars along with other non-Nepali ethnic groups.
On the other hand, ABAVP's state leadership claimed it had nothing to do with the stand taken by Barla and Lakra. "It's a decision taken by some individuals and ABAVP should not be linked to this. The press meet in Siliguri was convened without any consensus. ABAVP doesn't mean the Dooars and the Terai alone. It involves more than 10 crore tribals across the country. We'll investigate and take disciplinary steps, if required," ABAVP (West Bengal chapter) president Birsa Tirkywarned.
with our demands. It has cheated us time and again, the last example being the recruitment of primary teachers," Lakra said. changed the "communal name" of Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh. "If GJM sheds that name, there remains practically no hurdle," Barla said on Wednesday. 

Kalimews: Hill Congress will renew the demand of separate state with the formation of union territory. President KB Chhetri stated that it will meet the Central leaders as well as INC leaders. 
School job drive for STs
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 11: The state school education department has taken up a fresh drive to appoint ST youths as primary teachers in Jalpaiguri district and has also asked the district magistrate to look for land to set up Hindi-medium schools in Adivasi-dominated blocks.
The decision comes in the wake of a movement launched by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad that shut down block development offices in the Dooars last week, demanding recruitment of teachers from the tribal community to Hindi-medium primary schools.
In a letter to the district magistrate on August 6, principal secretary of the school education department Vikram Sen said the Parishad should be informed about the latest government move to make the cut-off marks for ST and general candidates equal. According to the government’s 100-point roster formula earlier, the cut-off mark for ST youths applying for primary teachers’ jobs was 62.7%. For general candidates, the cut-off mark is 56%.
“The principal secretary mentioned that the government was now relaxing the cut-off marks for ST candidates to equal that of the general category. They can now appear for a fresh written examination that will be conducted by the district primary school council,” an official of the district administration said.
He said the state government was ready with funds to construct new schools and expand existing ones.
The decision has been conveyed to the chairperson of the district primary school council and the recruitment test will have to be conducted within August. “Some posts of primary teachers has been kept vacant in the Hindi medium schools to accommodate the successful ST candidates,” the official said.
After the publication of the final list of successful candidates for 1,411 posts, there were protests all over the district with allegations of nepotism and corruption against the school council chairman and CPM leaders.
District magistrate Vandana Yadav wrote to John Barla, the president of the Parishad’s Terai-Dooars regional unit, on August 9, requesting the tribals to withdraw the agitation in block development offices and school inspectors’ offices as their demands were being addressed.
The Parishad claimed that it was yet to receive the district magistrate’s letter and wanted to see results first.
Gorkha identity
TT, Kalimpong, Aug. 11: The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisang, an apolitical organisation with a pan-Indian presence, has asserted that a Gorkhaland is the only permanent solution to the community’s identity issue, and that it will continue the fight for a separate state.
The Parisang’s policy cell and its taskforce on Gorkhaland held a joint meeting in Delhi recently in the light of the tri-partite negotiations for an interim arrangement to administer the Darjeeling hills.
The meeting concluded that formation of local bodies was only a temporary solution to the vexed issue of misconceptions about the political identity of the Indian Gorkhas. “In the absence of any other alternative to resolve this question, the only solution lay in carving out a new state comprising the Darjeeling district and the Dooars from the current state of West Bengal,” the Parisang said in a release.
The meeting felt that with no prejudice to political developments in Darjeeling and the Dooars, it has always been the dream of the Gorkhas to have a state of their own in India.
“It wasn’t out of whim or without elaborate deliberations that the Parisang adopted statehood for Gorkhas as one of the seven national issues of the community,” said Dil Kumari Bhandari, the president of the Parisang, who chaired the meeting.
In another resolution adopted at the meeting, the Parisang demanded that the killers of former ABGL president Madan Tamang be immediately arrested and brought to justice.
Sikkim Four lined up for divestment
TT, Gangtok, Aug. 11: A process to divest four PSUs in Sikkim, including two which had been set up before the state’s merger in 1975, has started. Sikkim government has agreed in principle to disinvest or privatise Sikkim Jewels Ltd, Sikkim Time Corporation, Government Fruit Preservation Factory, and Sikkim Precision Industries Ltd, a state notification issued in the last week of July says.
“A committee has been formed under my chairmanship to see how these units have been performing for the past seven-eight years. The emphasis will be on the last two years of the units, their products and demands. More or less, the units should be self-reliant but at the moment, they are not doing well,” said state chief secretary T.T. Dorji.
The other members of the high-level committee are additional chief secretary, finance secretary and law secretary. The industries secretary will be the committee secretary. The committee has been tasked to decide on the procedure to be adopted for the disinvestment. It will submit its recommendations to the state government within three months.
The chief secretary said that the PSUs are more or less dependent on the state government.
“We have to see how the units are faring and whether they should be disinvested or made into joint ventures,” he said.
“The products should have to be globally competitive or we have no choice but to discontinue (backing them). We will look into the products and see whether these have markets. We need to have a re-look and decide whether to go for privatisation or joint ventures.”
The 13th Finance Committee had recommended that all states draw up a roadmap for closure of non-working PSUs by March 2011 and consider their divestment.
“This is an issue that is discussed annually. Every year, the state government has been giving signals to the units that they have to be viable and self-sustaining. We cannot extend time every year. This time we are taking a re-look and will come up with a decision,” said the chief secretary.
Regarding the future of the employees in these units, Dorjee said the committee would be looking into every aspect while drafting its recommendations.
The oldest PSU in the state is the Government Fruit Preservation Factory (GFPF) based at Singtam in East Sikkim. It was established way back in 1956 and produces 40 odd items including pickles, juice, ketchup, jam and marmalade with most of the raw material procured from the local farmers.
There are 90 employees in the factory.
Spread over 10 acres, the GFPF is said to be in a financial mess for the past decade like the other three (see chart).
Sources said although the GFPF had shown tangible improvement in certain sections like reduction in cost of production, aggressive marketing, expansion of markets in the past eight-nine months, deeply ingrained problems remained and are expected to remain so till there is a complete re-haul.
There are two more PSUs under the state government, the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms established in 1957, and the Sikkim Khadi and Village Industries Board set up in 1978.
Nothing has been said about their disinvestment yet.
Armoury out of public view
Main Uddin Chisti, TT, Cooch Behar, Aug. 11: The Archaeological Survey of India, which took over the Cooch Behar palace in 1982, is yet to open the armoury for public viewing as a proper security plan has not been prepared for its protection.
As of now, the district magistrate of Cooch Behar is in charge of the armoury, where guns used by the erstwhile princes are stored. The armoury is guarded by armed policemen, who have a camp on the palace compound.
The president of the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party, Asutosh Barman, said the district administration had announced in 2000 that the armoury had been handed over to the ASI. “Later, we came to know from the ASI that the items in the armoury would be put on display. But nothing has been done so far and the weapons and the guns are still under lock and key,” he said.
Sources in the district administration said even after joining the Indian union in 1950, the Cooch Behar princes continued to use the armoury and went out hunting with their guns till about 1970.
After the keys of the armoury were lost in 1999, the district administration broke it open and prepared an inventory of the weapons, swords, shields, guns and other items and sent it to the Union home ministry as well as the ASI, the sources said. The ASI wrote to the ministry seeking permission to display the weapons in the palace, where a museum was opened in 2002.
ASI superintendent of the Calcutta circle Tapan Jyoti Baidya said: “A few years ago, the home ministry had granted us permission to display the weapons; I do not remember the exact year. We had written to our director-general for proper security so that the weapons could be displayed, but we have not yet got the clearance.”
Baidya said a reminder would be sent to the ASI’s Delhi office.
Tea insecticide kills 3 kids
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 11: Residues of an insecticide used in Naxalbari Tea Estate were found in the stomachs of three garden children who had died yesterday.
“We have found dark-coloured particles with a foul smell in the stomachs of all the three children during post-mortems. These are residues of either chlorinated hydrocarbon or organophosporous compound. The children died because of their consumption,” said Saibal Gupta, the head of department of forensic medicine at the NBMCH.
Hiralal, 6, his sister Karisma, 4, and Monjoy Goala, 4, had gone to the pond to play after lunch yesterday. They were taken ill while returning home and died within an hour.
Management of the Naxalbari estate admitted the use of the two insecticides, though in dilute form, in the plantation.
“We use these two insecticides in our garden but in dilute form. The insecticides can cause instant death only if they are consumed in concentrated form. All the insecticides are stored under lock and key and are not accessible to anyone, except the staff of the spraying department. None in the families of the deceased children works in this department and so, they do not have access to the insecticides,” said Partha Nandi, the tea garden manager.
According to experts, chlorinated hydrocarbon and organophosporous compounds were not approved by the Central Insecticide Board (CIB) for use in tea gardens or agricultural farms.
“Insecticides likes chlorinated hydrocarbon and organophosporous compound do not have the approval of the CIB because they are detrimental to our health if they remain in our bodies for too long. Although the two insecticides had been used in tea gardens previously, we advised the managements to withdraw them following the CIB’s recommendation. However, there is a possibility that some gardens are still using the insecticides, but instant deaths can happen only if they are consumed in lethal amounts,” said S. Vaishya, an advisory officer of the Tea Research Association.
The last rites of the three children were conducted at the tea garden, 35km from Siliguri, this evening.
Subir Bhowmik, the chief medical officer of health, Darjeeling, said there had been no fresh cases of children falling ill in the garden. He said a teenaged girl had fallen sick in the garden yesterday because of shock from the children’s deaths. 
Garden back to work 
TT, Jaigaon, Aug. 11: The management of Dim Dima Tea Estate in the Dooars has decided to lift the suspension of work from tomorrow.
The suspension was imposed yesterday after a worker stabbed an assistant manager on Monday. Today talks were held between the unions and the management at the office of the Dooars Branch of the Indian Tea Association (DBITA) at Binnaguri where the decision to resume work was taken. The secretary of the DBITA, P. K. Bhattacharya, said according to the agreement penned between the two sides, the labourers would not be paid for the two days during which work had been suspended.

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