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Monday, August 30, 2010

Yechuri for all party at hill talks.. 15 died in Bus accident

TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 29: CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury today said all political parties from the Darjeeling hills should be invited to the next round of talks on the interim set-up for the region and promised to raise the issue in Parliament in the next two days.
“The issue must be collectively taken forward and we would want all the political parties from the hills to be invited for the September 7 talks,” said Yechury while delivering the Ratanlal Brahmin Memorial Lecture at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club.
The CPM had once lorded over the hills because of Ratanlal Brahmin. He was among the first three communist MLAs in Bengal along with Jyoti Basu and Rupnarayan Roy.
On the sidelines of the lecture, Yechury said if “procedural” problems arose in raising the issue in Parliament, he would talk to the Prime Minister. “I will separately take up the matter with the Prime Minister tomorrow itself.”
The CPM leader added: “What should have been the priority (finding a permanent solution to the hill problem) has not been taken up by the government.
“We want maximum autonomy for the region under the framework of the state legislature. The local people must be given an opportunity to frame their own policies.”
KalimNews: It is learnt that CID has prepared a chargesheet to be produced in the court of ASDJM in Darjeeling on Monday. The memo of evidence may also include some names involved in the murder and conspiracy as well as some informations regarding the Tamang murder of 21st May. Though CID is suppose to produce Nickole now on remand, in the court may appeal for allowing further time to produce him declaring him as absconding.
KalimNews:Pawan Chamling Chief Minister of Sikkim has declared Rs. 50 thousand to each of the family of the victims died in road accident near Jorethang. Though 9 belong to the state of West Bengal the help is done in humanitarian ground as well as the accident happened in the land of Sikkim said a government official. Bimal Gurung President GJMM too has declared to provide schooling and hostel accommodation for the 3 orphan children of the victims of the accident.
KalimNews: A ABGL team led by Bharati Tamang will meet Rahul Gandhi today in Delhi. The team includes, SB Zimba, Dawa Sherpa, Manoj Dewan and Munna Tamang.
KalimNews: 2 people of Sikkim were attacked 15 thousand cash were looted from them at kalimpong. Rabindra Tamang came to Kalimpong for treatment of his wife admitted in the hospital and on his way at 10 mile some unknown miscreants attacked them and snatched the money and 2 cellphones from Rabindra and his friend Raju Rai. It is said that later some people came and returned their money and cellphones. 
Young lives lost as tyre-burst propels crowded bus into north Bengal pond

TT, Cooch Behar, Aug. 29: As many as 15 people, many of them school students and young job aspirants, died this afternoon when a suspected tyre-burst sent a minibus hurtling into a pond beside the Cooch Behar-Dinhata road.

Preliminary investigations suggested that the driver of the bus lost control around 1pm after its right front tyre burst. It is not clear yet if the tyre was old but worn-out accessories and ancillaries have been a bane of Bengal’s public transport system.
The tube within the tyre was visible through the burst layer when the bus was fished out of water two hours after the accident. The delay and alleged lack of preparedness of the administration triggered a backlash with a mob attacking police.
No one was inside the bus when it was winched out. Some people claimed the driver and the conductor had fled but the version could not be confirmed independently.
Officials expressed the fear that some people could have been trapped in the silt of the pond bed. The officials could not say with certainty if anyone was missing as no one knew how many passengers the “crowded bus” was ferrying. Such vehicles ferry around 50 persons, although they can seat only 25-30.
Around 1.45pm — 45 minutes after the accident — Dinhata subdivisional officer Chiranjib Ghosh and the superintendent of the Dewanhat block primary health centre, Nikhil Das, arrived at the accident spot to face angry demonstrations.
At the health centre, about 200 metres away, five persons were declared brought dead followed by four others. Two persons died on way to the Dinhata hospital. At MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar town, four persons were declared dead on arrival.
A crane was brought at 3pm and the bus was hauled out of the water.
An hour later, the mob that had gathered in front of the health centre began throwing stones at the police who retreated into the premises and burst tear-gas shells.
The people then smashed windowpanes of a police van parked some 50 metres from the health centre.
The mob attacked policemen with stones, injuring several of them, including the deputy superintendent of police (crime), Sandip Mondol.
Some people said they were taken aback by the lethargic response of the administration. “They have no quick response team and no plan on how to handle such emergencies. Moreover, these private buses are never inspected and allowed to be overcrowded,” said Anirban Dutta, who owns a roadside grocery at Dewanhat.
District magistrate Smarki Mahapatra said: “The police had to used tear-gas shells to disperse the crowd. Fifteen persons died in the accident.”
At the morgue of the MJN Hospital stood Dilip Barman, whose son, a Class XII student from Dinhata, had gone to Cooch Behar in the morning for a clerkship examination. “I have lost my son, but he had a friend with him, Tinku Barman, who also went for the test. We cannot find him,” Barman mumbled.
Ratan Barman, 25, and his nephew Bimal Barman, 23, both exam candidates from Dinhata, have also died. “They are gone and we had some other distant relatives, too, who had appeared for the test. They are missing,” said Benoy Ray Sarkar, a relative of Ratan and Bimal.
Sakina Bibi, 25, who was in the bus with her son, Sakin Haque, 5, and sister Shaunaz Parveen, 18, survived as she forced open a windowpane and scrambled out as the bus slowly sank into the pond.
Sakina Bibi, her five-year-old son Sakin and her sister Shaunaz Parveen, who had managed to climb out of the bus, at the house of Mozzammal Haque, a local farmer. Picture by Main Uddin Chistii
“We were all standing in the crowded bus after boarding it outside Cooch Behar town. Near Dewanhat, there was a loud bang and the bus that was going moderately fast fell into the pond. We screamed as the water gushed in. I clutched my son and broke open a window, clambered out and pulled out my sister and son,” Sakina said, sitting in the house of Mozammel Haque, a farmer who lives near the accident site.
Residents managed to rescue three men and send them to the Dewanhat block primary health centre, where they are recovering.
Chanchal Kanti Roy, who works for an NGO at Dewanhat, said minibuses ply the 24-kilometre Cooch Behar-Dinhata route on a regular basis.
“They often carry around 50 passengers. I heard a loud bang and then saw the bus fall into the pond that is nearly 12 feet deep. As we rushed towards it, we realised that it was slowly sinking into the water,” he said.
Bus Strike in Dooars
TT, Siliguri: The North Bengal Passengers Transport Owners’ Coordination Committee will go on an indefinite strike from Tuesday to protest the poor condition of national highways and state highways that pass through north Bengal. The decision was taken on Saturday. The members said no buses would ply in the region during the strike and it would continue until they received any concrete assurance from the administration that the roads would be restored at the earliest.
Tech tickets after 2012 print wind-up

An NFR employee at work in the press at Kurseong. (Kundan Yolmo) 
Mrinalini Sharma, TT, Siliguri, Aug. 29: Northeast Frontier Railway has started revamping its printing press at Kurseong and has plans to install a computerised ticketing system at the only facility of its kind that caters for the section extending from Tinsukia in Assam to Katihar in Bihar.
The computerised ticketing system for unreserved ticketing system (UTS) and passenger reservation system (PRS) will, however, take place after the ticket printing section of the press shuts down in 2012.
Currently the unit prints manually generated tickets for the entire NFR zone.
“The railway board has sanctioned Rs 4.30 crore for upgrading the unit. This amount would be used to install machinery and revamp the infrastructure at the press,” Keshav Chandra, the general manager of the NFR, told The Telegraph over phone.
The 62-year-old press has two printing sections.
While the general section prints books, forms and railway passes, the ticket section prints and supplies manually-generated tickets for the Tinsukia, Lumding, Rangiya, Alipurduar and Katihar divisions, under the NFR, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
“The ticket printing section will wind up in 2012 because manually generated tickets are being phased out,” said Chandra.
The press that was established in 1948 is the only unit in the hill railway section that does not come under the DHR. It is controlled from the NFR headquarters in Maligaon.
Currently, computerised ticketing facility is only available at the Darjeeling railway station.
The move to close down the ticket printing unit at Kurseong had evoked strong protests after it was announced by the Indian Railways in 2008 because it would stop the production of manually generated DHR tickets that are popular as souvenirs all over the world.
“We had submitted a memorandum to the general manager of the NFR with a proposal to upgrade the press on August 5. Chandra surveyed the press and announced the railway board’s decision to revamp it,” said Rajiv Rai, the NFR Employee Union’s joint secretary and an employee at the press.
According to NFR sources, the railway has already removed some of the machinery at the general printing section.
“Around four old equipment have been scrapped and three more which have become obsolete will be removed. These machines would be replaced by offset printing machinery. The press will require three to four such equipment,” the source said.
Almost the entire sum of the sanctioned funds would be used for installing the computerised ticketing machine. “The remaining amount will be used for purchasing offset printing equipment,” the source said. 

Highway to Sikkim opened for traffic - Sunshine helps BRO clear debris from NH31A q Mud blow to PSU

A bulldozer clears the debris near the Government Food Preservation Factory on NH31A on Sunday, shortly before the highway was cleared for traffic. (Prabin Khaling) TT,  Gangtok, Aug 29: Road connectivity between Gangtok and the rest of the country was restored this morning, three days after the vital link, NH31A, struck by landslides at seven places between 32nd Mile and Singtam.

Two days of sunshine helped Project Swastik personnel of the Border Roads Organisation, which maintains the highways of Sikkim, clear the debris and restore traffic. “The landslides were cleared before 11am and the highway is open for both light and heavy vehicles,” said A.K. Singh, the executive engineer of Project Swastik.
While five landslides had been cleared by the BRO, two near the Government Fruit Preservation Factory (GFPF), 28km from here, had been a major headache for the BRO. One of the two had breached about 15m of the road and the other had piled up huge slush on the highway. Fifty labourers and two excavators were engaged to repair the breach and sweep the slush.
Manav Prasad, the commander of 764 Border Roads Task Force, said his personnel had been clearing the debris near the GFPF for the past two days. “But three artificial ponds had been created by the slides about 200m uphill.”
The executive engineer said talks were on with geologists of the Sikkim government to “do something” about the ponds. “We have to wait till the weather clears up. Right now the only temporary measure is to clear the slush whenever it comes,” said Singh.
In the past two days before the traffic was restored on the highway, commuters to and from Gangtok had to depend on transshipment. They used to reach the troubled spot near the GFPF and take a 300m detour on foot and jump into the waiting taxis on the other side. Most of the vehicles from Gangtok used to take a detour from Ranipool, reach Pakyong (28km from here) and then drop 25km down to Rangpo to join NH31A bypassing the slides. Vehicles coming from Siliguri also took the similar route.
The BRO has sought three weeks from Sikkim High Court to file an affidavit on the time schedule for execution of the highway work. It was responding to a suo-motu public interest litigation initiated by the court in May on media reports on the condition of NH31A, North Sikkim Highway and Gangtok-Nathu-la road.
On August 25, A division bench of Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice S.P. Wangdi had directed the BRO to use the best technology in executing the repair within six months from September 1. “Similarly, the state government shall also identify the roads which are required to be repaired and maintained properly and make such roads fit for transportation,” the court had said. Senior advocates and members of of the Sikkim Bar Association have been asked to bring to the court’s notice the roads that are required to be attended. 

Back with Bayern memories - Siliguri players share dressing room experience

TT, Siliguri, Aug. 29: They flew to Germany, shared the dressing room of FC Bayern and posed with World Cuppers who did not offer any soccer tips.
But that did not dampen the spirit of the Siliguri Six. “So what (if they did not offer us tips)? Otherwise, it was a wonderful experience, as their grounds and stadium were picturesque and the training was systematic marked by sheer punctuality,” said Amit Thakuri, one of the six Under-17 footballers from Sliguri, after returning from a week-long dream tour.
The six players were selected for the overseas tour by FC Bayern when the German club visited the town for an exhibition match in January 2009. While the state government had paid the passage money, the German team had arranged for their food and accommodation during the trip.
Apart from posing with World Cuppers like Thomas Mueller and Frank Riberi, there was not much interaction. But the Siliguri players practised with the Under-17 team of the German club and picked up some vital tips.
“We reached Munich on August 19 and started our training at the FC Bayern ground the next day. The same evening, we visited the BMW headquarters in Munich,” Thakuri said.
On August 21, the players went to see the inaugural match of the Bundesliga (Germany’s premier football league) between FC Bayern and Wolfsburg which the former won 2-1.
After the match, the six players met their football heroes, Mueller, Schweinsteiger, Riberi, Mark Van Bommel and Miroslav Klose.
“We were taken to their dressing room and they obliged us with their autographs on the team jersey. Although we did not get the chance to interact with them, we got an opportunity to get photographed with the players,” said Abhishek Chhetri, another player.
“It was an experience, which we had only dreamt about. Watching a bunch of World Cup footballers from a handshake distance and visiting their dressing room and the ground are almost a lifetime achievement for us,” he added.
On August 22 and 23, the Siliguri players went for a local tour which included the famous Europa Park.
The budding players from Siliguri also enjoyed their training session with their foreign counterparts that continued from August 24 to 27 at Rust. They were surprised by the German club’s punctuality at the training programme.
“The second phase of our training started in Rust, which is a three-hour drive from Munich. We stayed with the Under-17 players of the Bayern team in Rust. During the four-day training, we got Stephan and Andreas as our trainers. The training was in two shifts. The first session started at 9am and continued till 11.30am, while the second schedule was from 1.30pm to 4pm,” said Sanjib Kerketta who hails from a tea estate.
Nishant Toppo, also from a tea garden, recounted how he was punished for being late. “I had to do six push-ups on the second day of our practice as I was late. But it was not a serious punishment, as they know that we were from abroad.”
The players said they were ready to utilise the techniques they learnt from the foreign team. “Whatever we have been doing here, the same thing we did there also but in a different way. We learnt how to tackle the ball, how to increase the power in our shots, dribbling and the movement. If we are exposed to such an organised training schedule throughout the year, we could play much better,” Dipu Burman said.
Litan Shil said if he got another opportunity like this in future, he would not miss it.
The six footballers will be felicitated here on September 3 by the Siliguri Mahakuma Krira Parishad.

Slush shuts down fruit factory
Mud flowing down to the fruit factory on Sunday (Prabin Khaling) TT, Gangtok, Aug. 29: The Government Fruit Preservation Factory will remain shut for at least 10 days because of muck and slush seeping down from the national highway above in Singtam.
The temporary shutdown comes at a time the state government has agreed in principle to disinvest or privatise four PSUs, the GFPF being one of them.
The factory, 28km from Gangtok, was set up in 1956 and produces 40-odd items including pickles, juice, ketchups, jam and marmalade with most of the raw material procured from the local farmers.
A landslide on Thursday night had peeled off the hillside and buried around 200 metres of NH31A just above the factory. But three days later, slush continues to flow down the hill into the factory. “Three ponds have been created in the hillside 300 metres above because of the accumulation of rainwater and supply from small streams. Slush continues to pour down even as we clear the existing muck on the roadside,” said 764 Border Roads Task Force commander Manav Prasad who is supervising the restoration of the highway.
The continuous flow of slush has threatened the staff quarters of the GFPF prompting the East district administration to evacuate 18 families.
“We shifted eighteen families yesterday to safer places,” said subdivisional magistrate (East) A.B. Karki. There are 90 employees in the factory.
The managing director of the GFPF, Karma Zimpa, said the unit had been shut since August 27. “The landslides above the factory were dangerous and slush continues to flow down into our premises,” he said. The Rani Khola flowing along the factory has also swelled and has damaged the retaining walls, said the managing director.
“This is a major blow. We are suffering a loss of Rs 1 lakh daily. There is no power and supply of raw material has been hit because of the road condition. The factory will remain closed for 10 to 12 days at the least,” said Zimpa. He also accused the BRO of sweeping down the slush into the factory from the road above.
Project Swastik chief engineer Brigadier Rajeev Sawhney, however, said he would see that the factory compound was cleaned.
The GFPF has been in a financial mess for the past decade. A committee has been formed to see how GFPF and three other state PSUs have been performing for the past seven-eight years and then submit its recommendations to the state government.
“This is a big blow for the factory caused by natural calamity and we hope for full support from the state government,” said Zimpa,

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