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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Center plans Hill Union Territory...Nickole remanded for Police custody...Conflicts on talks..

Delhi Model option
Archis Mohan, TT, New Delhi, Aug. 18: The Centre, in what could be a trial balloon, is looking at the option of granting Union territory status on the lines of the Delhi model to the Darjeeling hills after the expiry of the proposed interim authority’s tenure.
The term of the interim authority, according to the Union government’s proposal, ends on December 31, 2011.
The Centre is looking beyond that for a more permanent solution to the statehood problem, particularly with the Bimal Gurung-led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha unwilling to extend the life of the proposed authority to December 2012.
The Centre feels there is little possibility of the Bengal government agreeing to Morcha demands for additional territory — the party wants the Dooars and Terai besides the Darjeeling hills — or statehood.
Even the Centre has reservations about the two demands considering the strategic location of the region.
Under the circumstances, granting Union territory (UT) status to the hills is being seen as a face saver for the stakeholders with all sides compromising a little on their stand on additional territory, say officials in New Delhi.
The proposed plan, based largely on the National Capital Territory model of Delhi, will offer an elected Assembly with sizeable legislative powers to the hills. At present, only two of the seven UTs — NCT of Delhi and Puducherry — have elected Legislative Assemblies.
The Darjeeling hills will become a centrally administered UT with the Bengal governor playing the role of the lieutenant governor for the set-up. This is similar to the Punjab governor who also acts as an administrator for the UT of Chandigarh.
And just like Delhi, the new UT’s Legislative Assembly may not be empowered to legislate on crucial subjects under the state list.
The Delhi Assembly cannot legislate on state list’s entries 1, 2 and 18 that relate to maintenance of public order, police and land. These powers rest with the Union government through the lieutenant governor. Thus important agencies like the Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Police, New Delhi Municipal Council and Municipal Corporation of Delhi are out of the Delhi government’s jurisdiction.
On the flip side, an UT status would also mean that the Bengal cadre officials will no longer run the administration. They will be replaced by AGMUT cadre officers who run administrations in the existing seven UTs along with the states of Goa, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Officials have asked the Morcha leaders to read the Delhi Administration Act of 1966 that governed Delhi till it was granted partial statehood in 1991 as the interim authority will be based on that act.
However, for the moment, the Centre’s plan needs to cross several hurdles including convincing the new government at Writers’ Building post April-May.
Interim set-up still a few meets away- More areas of dissent
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 18: The chances of resolving all issues related to the proposed interim set-up for the hills by September 7 appear remote as more areas of disagreement have emerged. Telegraph had reported yesterday that no consensus had been reached on the three contentious issues of territory, tenure and composition of the new body to be known as the Gorkha Autonomous Authority (GAA).
Documents reveal that there are also differences between the Centre and the state on one, and with the Morcha on the other, over elections to panchayats and the powers and functions of the district magistrate and the superintendent of police.
“We will need at least another two-three meetings more to sort out the differences,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri.
The Union home ministry, however, has been hoping to clinch the deal on the interim set-up latest by September 7.
The documents prepared by Delhi — after the Bengal government and the Morcha submitted their observations on the draft proposal — reveal that the hill party wants the office of the district magistrate to be stripped of its jurisdiction over all development work. The Morcha wants the responsibility to be handed over to the new body. This is something unacceptable to the state government.
The Bengal government said in its observation that the “office of the district magistrate and the superintendent of police and also those of the subdivisional officers and subdivisional police officers, etc, shall be kept outside control of the GAA”.
The Morcha, however, maintained that “all development oriented functions of the district magistrate along with officers and staff should be brought under the GAA”. It wants the district magistrate to be in charge of only law and order and magisterial responsibilities.
“This is because the GAA should be in a position to carry out development work unhindered,” a Morcha leader said. “Besides, at the moment funds of the MPs and MLAs for local area development, just to cite a few examples, are being directly sent to the DM’s office. This should not happen under the new arrangement.”
The Morcha has also said that police in Darjeeling should be upgraded to the status of a “commissariat”, along the lines of Calcutta police with a commissioner at the helm. However, the Morcha has not mentioned whether or not it wants the police under the purview of the GAA. Both the state and the Centre have clearly mentioned that law and order will not come under the purview of the new body.
The documents reveal that the Morcha also wants a three-tier panchayat system with a zilla parishad heading it. But in 1988, under a new arrangement worked out during the formation of the DGHC, the zilla parishad was scrapped for the hills and a separate Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad created for the plains.
The Bengal government is unlikely to agree to a zilla parishad for the three hill sub-divisions.
No Consensus on GAA
PTI, Kolkata, Aug 18 : A meeting among representatives of the Centre, West Bengal government and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the Darjeeling problem failed to arrive at a consensus on the composition, constitution and tenure of the proposed interim authority.
State Home Secretary Samar Ghosh, who attended the meeting in Delhi yesterday, said the Centre wanted panchayat elections to be held before forming the interim authority so that the political parties can send their representatives to the interim set-up in proportion to the seats won in the panchayats.
The GJM, on the other hand, wanted to nominate all 55 members for the interim authority.
"Both these suggestions are not acceptable to the state government. It wants members of the interim authority to be elected directly by the people," Ghosh said.
ABAVP keen to join talks
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 18: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today asked the Centre to invite it to the next round of tripartite talks in Delhi to resolve the territory issue — one of the stumbling blocks to the finalisation of the interim set-up in the hills.
“Both the Centre and the state are focussed on the Darjeeling hills only and seem to forget the Terai and the Dooars, even though the governments are yet to arrive at a consensus with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the territory issue,” said John Barla, the president of the Dooars Terai regional unit of the Parishad.
It is not possible for both the sides to forge an agreement unless we are involved in the process. We, therefore, want the Centre to invite us to the next round of talks. Otherwise, we presume, the deadlock will continue, provided the Morcha does not backtrack from its territory demand,” Barla said.
At yesterday’s official-level talks, the discussion over territory remained inconclusive.
This assumes significance as the Parishad, in its letter on August 9, had expressed its willingness to join hands with the Morcha and stay within the ambit of the interim set-up or separate state covering the entire Terai and the Dooars — if the hill party accepts the seven demands of the tribal outfit.
“We want to ask the Morcha leaders to involve us in the negotiation. Unless we express solidarity with them before the government, it is unlikely that the officials or ministers will buy their story that they enjoy our support as we are in the majority in the Terai and Dooars,” Barla said.
   Nickole on remand

KalimNews: Nicole Tamang prime accused in Madan Tamang's murder is remanded of  12 days' police custody. As prayed by CID of West Bengal Police Nickole was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Darjeeling today. During the hearing the CID appealed for  grant of remand for 14 days police custody of Nickole, but the court granted 12 days remand by the CJM. Nicole will be produced before the court on 30th August 2010. It is presumed that CID will take Nickole to Alipore, the headquarter of CID for further interrogation. 
KalimNews:The others absconding are Kismat Chhetri, Keshavraj Pokhrel, Aloke Kantamani Thulung, Dinesh Subba, Tenzing Khambachay, Puran Thami, Dinesh Gurung, Sanjay Tamang and Suraj Singh. As of now the arrested so far are Nickole Tamang, Sudesh Raimajhi , Prashant Chhetri, Subash Tamang, Ashis Tamang, Tilak Tolangi, Puran Rai and Sunil Rai. 
TT, Darjeeling, 18 Aug: Nickole Tamang, the prime accused in the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang, was today remanded in police custody by the court of the chief judicial magistrate in Darjeeling.
Manik Saha, the assistant public prosecutor, said: “The CID had prayed for 14 days police remand but the court has granted a remand for 12 days.”
On Monday, Nickole had been sent to judicial custody since the CID had not asked for police remand then. The investigating agency had, however, applied for a production warrant yesterday following which Nickole was once again produced in court today.
Defence lawyer Taranga Pandit said: “We maintained that he was already in custody for the last couple of days and that the police remand should be less than 14 days. We also told the court that Nickole Tamang is a chronic diabetic and should be treated well.”
KalimNews: Nickole was seen driving Bimal Gurung's vehicle on 10 July 2008 at Kalimpong
ABGL team to Delhi
TT: Meanwhile, a six-member ABGL delegation today left for Delhi to seek an appointment with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. “The delegation wants to discuss the Madan Tamang murder issue and also the interim set-up,” said an ABGL leader. 
KalimNews: ABGL team constitute Bharati Tamang, Pratap Khati, HB Zimba and Prof. Sushma Gurung.
'And once again' premiere misses Yuden
Prakha, Gangtok, Aug 18: Amol Palekar’s film ‘And Once Again’ which has already generated  buzz over the role of Antara Mali as Buddhist monk with a shaven head will be premiering at Pune tomorrow but Yuden Zongtenpa, Sikkimese child artiste who has an important role in film, will be engrossed in tackling her English literature paper for second term examinations here at Tashi Namgyal Academy which begins from tomorrow.
We had been invited to attend the premier show at Pune tomorrow but we cannot make it as the second term exams of Yuden starts from tomorrow, said Yuden’s mother, Rebina Rai.
Yuden (7) is studying in Class III of Tashi Namgyal Academy here in the capital and had bagged the role in Palekar’s film which is based on relationships with an emotional, intense storyline and runs over 94 minutes.
Yuden had walked the red carpet of adulation and applause for her wonderful performance in the film when it was screened on November 29 last year at the 40th International Film Festival, Goa. She and her mother had gone to Goa for the screening.
When asked how she feels about the movie now set to hit the silver screen, Yuden replied: “Proud”. I liked my character a lot when I saw the film at Goa and right now, I am preparing for the exams which start from tomorrow, she said.
Yuden’s first paper tomorrow is on English Literature.
According to her mother, Yuden is playing the role of an orphan in Sikkim.
“She is still unaware about the fact that she has actually acted in a movie though she liked what she saw in the movie during the screening at Goa. Right now, she is pretty engrossed her school activities and her hobby of reading”, said Rebina. She said that the acting skills of Yuden were much appreciated by those who attended the Goa screening.
In the movie, Antara Mali, who plays the role of a monk, come across Yuden and is attached to her and takes the responsibility for her upbringing. The character played by Antara Mali is of a woman who lost her husband (played by Rajat Kapoor) during a war in Yugoslavia and she comes to Sikkim and becomes a monk to find solace.
Both believe that each other were dead in the attack at Yugoslavia.
Years later, Kapoor’s character comes to Sikkim with his new wife (played by Rituparna Sengupta) and finds Antara Mali who is now deeply attached with Yuden.
When asked about her favourite scene during the shooting of the film, Yuden remembered the ‘kite scene’ and ‘a wheel barrow scene’ shot in West Sikkim.
Major parts of the movie have been shot in South and West districts of Sikkim in the first quarter of 2009. The film projected as Sikkim Tourism’s entry into the Bollywood sector is written by Palekar’s wife, Sandhya Gokhale
Rebina said that Yuden sported traditional dress in some scenes and modern wear in other scenes during the film shooting which was done in Jorethang and Geyzing earlier this year in the month of March.
Yuden, who was raised in California where her father Tashi Namgyal Zongtenpa is an IT professional, had no problems with the dialogue as the film was shot in English.
Palekar was very glad to have Yuden in the film and the whole team was amazed with the acting ability of Yuden, recalled Rebina. The director used to tell her about the scene and she would do it right away, she said adding that Yuden was the toast of the whole crew during the shoot.
Yuden, who is enormously talented, was selected from a lot of other aspiring child artistes who had auditioned when Palekar and his wife were at Sikkim in February last year to spot local talents for the new production.
Rebina further informed that the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of Sikkim was very well portrayed in the film. A little bit of everything of Sikkim like culture, orchids, monasteries and locales have been shown in the film, she said.
2 die in Landslide 
TT, Gangtok: Ram Maya Biswakarma, 17, and her brother Sher Bahadur Biswakarma, 13, were buried alive under debris when a mudslide hit their house at Amok near Geyzing, the district headquarters of West Sikkim. 

Jumbo halts traffic--After trains, elephant targets national highway
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 18: An elephant came out of a wildlife sanctuary this morning and disrupted traffic on NH31 for 45 minutes, less than 24 hours after another one had blocked railways tracks at Gulma.
The makna (a male without tusks) walked out of the Chapramari forest around 9.30am and blocked traffic between Chulsa and Nagrakata.
“I was riding a motorbike to Malbazar when I saw the elephant standing beside the highway. Suddenly, it stepped on the road and stopped. I immediately slammed the brake,” said Dambar Bhujel, a resident of Nagrakata.
“As the animal showed no signs of moving, I took a U-turn and went few metres back to stop other vehicles which had been approaching the spot,” he added.
The elephant, Bhujel said, was standing in the middle of the highway near a culvert over a stream.
“Sometimes, it moved to the sides and pulled down tree branches and devoured them. There was no other option but to wait for the animal to return to the jungle,” he said.
Rafiqul Islam, a resident of Malda, was going to Nagrakata from Malbazar on a bus. He got down at Khunia More —a kilometre from the spot where the elephant “raised the blockade” — and went to the forest beat office.
“Vehicles had lined up at either end of the spot. I took no risk and disembarked from the bus to go to the forest beat office,” said Islam. “I had heard about elephants but have never seen a wild one and preferred to stay with foresters.”
Foresters from Khunia range under Gorumara National Park rushed to the spot to ensure that the makna did not cause any harm to people or damage to the vehicles. After around 45 minutes, the animal moved back to the forest. Khunia is 65km from Siliguri.
Local sources said around 200 vehicles had been left stranded on the highway because of the elephant.
Sumita Ghatak, the divisional forest officer (wildlife II), said: “The elephant was alone and somehow came out of the forest in the morning, disrupting the traffic. After about 45 minutes, it returned to the forest. Our men had been to the spot but no untoward incident happened,’ he said.
Another makna which was suspected to be on mast blocked railway tracks near Gulma station in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary two times yesterday. It pounded the engine of a passenger train with the trunk in the morning and halted a long-distance express train in the afternoon. On both occasions, the foresters had to drive it out of the tracks.
“After yesterday’s incident, we had kept tabs on that elephant. It seems to have entered the core areas and was not spotted near the tracks today,” said Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer (wildlife I).
Plan to stop track deaths
TT, Alipurduar, Aug. 18: The railways will soon construct guard walls and underpasses and erect fences to avert the deaths of animals on the tracks passing through forests in the Dooars.
Nineteen elephants, one leopard and four bison have been mowed down by trains on Alipurduar Junction-Siliguri section since January 2007.
Keshab Chandra, the general manager of Northeast Frontier Railway, today said the project had been prepared on the instruction of railway minister Mamata Banerjee.
“Railway engineers in consultation with forest officers have prepared a project to put in place precautionary measures to avoid collisions between trains and animals. We will construct guard walls and erect fences in the spots where animals are likely to cross the tracks. There will be underpasses also for the animals’ movement,” said Chandra.
Swollen rivers triggers alert
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 18: An alert has been sounded in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts following the rise in the water level of the Teesta after heavy rain lashed the region for 24 hours. In Siliguri, panic struck after earth from the base of the last pillar of the Mahananda Bridge was washed away.
About 200 affected families have taken shelter on the embankment of the Teesta after water inundated Saradapally, Vivekanandapally and Sukantapally on the right bank of the river in Jalpaiguri town.
Following the landslip near the bridge in Siliguri that connects both ends of the town near Airview More, the foundation of the concrete pillar, usually covered with earth and the cemented stairs leading to the embankment stood exposed. The mark left by the receding water on the pillar bears testimony to the fact that the river had spilled over into its banks last night.
The earth below a portion of the temple — just where the bridge ends and the road starts — had also been washed away. Datta, the mayor of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, visited the spot today. “A bulldozer has been engaged on an emergency basis to cover the area with soil to prevent further erosion and to save the temple. Stones put inside wired cages have been placed to prevent the river from hitting the pillar and further eroding the base,” she said.
According to India Meteorological Department, Siliguri recorded 118.8mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. The rainfall caused by a vigorous southwest monsoon since yesterday evening is likely to continue for at least another 24 hours.
“Rain or thundershower will occur at most places in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts of Sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim and at many places in Malda, North and South Dinajpurs in next 24 hours,” IMD sources said.
The rainfall, which was above 100mm in several places (see chart), particularly in the catchment areas of the Teesta, has increased the water levels in most rivers, prompting the North Bengal Flood Control Commission to sound a secondary (red) alert for the unprotected areas on both banks of the Teesta. The area under alert stretches from Domohoni on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri to Bangladesh border at Mekhliganj in Cooch Behar district.
Primary (yellow) alert has also been sounded for the protected areas on both the banks, NBFCC sources said.
The repair on NH55 and NH31, two key highways in north Bengal, also got affected because of the rain. 
“We are finding it extremely tough to carry out the repair on NH55 and have to stop the work as debris are coming down continuously from Paglajhora and nearby areas because of the rain,” said Dhruba Chakraborty, the superintending engineer of the state PWD (NH Division IX). “On NH31, through which small vehicles are moving towards the Dooars, we have temporarily stopped all work, also because of the rainfall.”
KalimNews: Land erosion near Coronation Bridge on NH31 swept the embankment made to protect the road has disrupted the traffic since one month. Due to landslide the road is slided about 15 ft down.
 Landslide at the initial point in the bank of River Teesta
 A temporary protection from swelling Teesta
Machines used for filling up of the deep gorge caused by land slide that resulted to the fall of the road to about 15 ft below the original height  (Pix:AK Rai - 18.08.2010)
Mirth miss stares at hill rail on B-Day
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 18: Darjeeling Himalayan Railway turns 129 this Monday, but unlike previous years, authorities of the Unesco world heritage property have no plans to organise any sort of celebration this time.
“We have not finalised any programme to celebrate the day and even if something is done at the last moment, it will be a low key affair,” admitted R.K. Roy, assistant divisional mechanical engineer at the DHR’s Tindharia workshop.
Although Roy refused to say why the DHR was uncertain about the celebrations, other officials hinted that a major landslide at 14th Mile near Paglajhora, 35km from here, on June 16 was the reason.
“Services are suspended between New Jalpaiguri and Kurseong because of the landslide and all our attention is focused on the restoration of the tracks,” said a DHR official. “We will sit for a meeting on August 20 to plan something for the anniversary,” said another official.
The line between Siliguri and Kurseong was inaugurated by the viceroy of British India Lord Lytton in March 1880. He and other guests went up to Tindharia on the first toy train pulled by steam locomotive, Tiny. But August 23 is observed as the hill railway’s anniversary as the Kurseong station, which is the DHR headquarters now, was inaugurated on this day in 1880.
A grand ceremony is held at Kurseong every year and all stations along the line are decorated as part of anniversary celebrations every year.
In the past few years, there have been significant events to mark the anniversary. While a week-long photo exhibition on the DHR was organised at the North Bengal Science Centre in Siliguri last year, the diesel-driven Himalayan Princess was added to the services in 2007. Vintage steam trains were run simultaneously on three gauges from Siliguri Junction station in 2006.
Tour operators are not ready to buy the excuse given by the DHR authorities. 
“The landslide should not be a factor because the DHR has said time and again that they will start restoration only after the PWD repairs NH55 (tracks are parallel to the highway).So, there is no question of DHR officials being busy at Paglajhora (as the highway repair is not over yet). Last year, too, the New Jalpaiguri-Kurseong service was disrupted because of a landslide and still, the anniversary was celebrated,” said Pradeep Lama, the secretary of Darjeeling Association of Travel Agents.
Jyoti Rai (13) from Lower Paren of Jaldhaka from 11th August 2010. A student of class VII. Jyoti left home after the school in the afternoon without informing her parents. Her slippers and shorts were found near River Jaldhaka under mysterious condition. Information is sought by the Police.

Applications are invited by West Bengal Police for 4767 constable recruitment from candidates possessing qualifications and fulfilling conditions as stipulated below.
  1. Name of the Post – Constables (Male)
    Vacancies – likely to be 4767
    Pay-Scale – Rs. 5400 – 25200 (PB-2) + Rs. 2600 (Grade Pay) with admissible allowances and prospect of future promotion as per West Bengal Government Rules issued from time to time.
    AGE – Not less than 18 years and not more than 27 years as on 01-01-2010. Upper age limit may be relaxed by 5 years for S.C. / S.T. candidates and by 3 years for O.B.C. candidates of West Bengal. S.C. / S.T. / O.B.C. candidates not belonging to the State of West Bengal shall be treated as General
  2. Educational Qualifications – Must have passed Madhyamik Pariksha of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education or equivalent examination under any Board recognized by any State Government or the Central Government.
Application forms for the post of Constable (Male), will be distributed from Darjeeling Police Lines, Dali and from the following offices from 08:00 AM on 16.08.2010 till 10.09.2010 (every day counter will close at 05:30 PM).

(i)    Addl. Supdt. of Police Office, Kalimpong.
(ii)    Siliguri Emergency Force Line, Mallaguri          Siliguri.
(iii)    Sub-Divisional Police Office, Kurseong.

Last date of receipt of applications at The Office of West Bengal Police Recruitment Board, Kolkata on 10.09.2010 (05:30 PM)
Qualification     :    Madhyamik or Equivalent Exam Pass.
Hight        :    0167 Cm. (for Gorkas, Rajbanshis, S.T, Garwarliis – 160 cm).
Chest        :    78 cm. with 5 cm expansion (Relaxation for Gorkas, Rajbanshis, S.T, Garwarliis @ 76 - 81 cm ).
Weight        :     Proportionate to height and chest.
Age         :    As on 01.01.2010 – not less then 18 years and not more then 27 years. Upper age limit to be relaxed by 05 years for SC/ST and by 03
Application fee (for General and OBC candidates) : Rs. 150/- (one hundred fifty) payable by crossed demand draft / crossed postal order. Payable to the West Bengal Police Recruitment Board (no fee for SC / ST on production of Caste/ S.T Certificte).

Application forms  will be distributed only on production of  crossed demand draft/ crossed postal order payable to the West Bengal Police Recruitment Board (in cas postal order payable at Kolkata GPO. In case of demand draft payable at Kolkata. SC/ST candidates to produce copy of Caste/ ST certificate attested by a Gazetted Officer.

There is no shortage of application forms. Please do not buy application form  except from the centres mentioned above. Duplicate forms / unauthorized forms will be rejected by the computer while checking the form.
Application forms and Information Brochures will be available from 16/08/2010 from the offices of the Superintendents of Police of the districts on payment of Rs.150(One Hundred fifty) only by Demand Draft / Postal Order drawn in favour of the West Bengal Police Recruitment Board for the General and OBC Category Candidates and free of cost for the SC / ST category candidates on production of original Caste / Tribe certificate issued by the competent authority.
All candidates from States other than West Bengal will be treated as general candidates and they will purchase such forms and brochures from the office of the Superintendent of Police, district South 24 Parganas at Alipore, Kolkata. 

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