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Thursday, September 9, 2010

GJMM ready for elections on condition ... GJMM rejects Jaswant offer... 3 more ABAVP stalwarts resigned... Pastor cancels Quran burning plan

TT, Siliguri, Sept. 9: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it was ready for elections to the proposed interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills if the Dooars and the Terai were included in the new arrangement.
“We have no problem with elections to the set-up, provided it has jurisdiction over the entire Darjeeling hills, Siliguri, Terai and Gorkha-dominated areas of the Dooars,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha. “We have demanded that 196 mouzas (a mouza is a cluster of areas identified by the state land and land reforms department) of the Dooars and 65 mouzas of the Terai, including Siliguri, be made part of the territory to be under the set-up.”
Chhetri also said Morcha president Bimal Gurung had decided that no front line leader of the party would be at the helm of affairs in the interim authority.
“The party will, however, select the people who will be in charge of the authority in case it is formed through nomination,” Chhetri told journalists at the Bagdogra airport upon his return from Delhi.
As tripartite talks on the formation of the interim set-up progressed, the Darjeeling district CPM had demanded that the authority be run by elected representatives and not by nominated people. But the Morcha was adamant that a nominated body should rule the interim set-up and Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri had opposed the CPM demand even before departing for the tripartite meeting in Delhi on Monday.
Although Chhetri did not divulge more, political observers said his comments indicated that in case the set-up had jurisdiction over only the three hill subdivisions, as had been insisted by the Centre and the state government, the Morcha would oppose elections and settle for a nominated body comprising the lesser known leaders of the party.
Darjeeling MP and BJP leader Jaswant Singh also supported the Morcha’s call for a nominated body to run the authority and said representatives of all political parties in the hills should be included in the set-up.
Asked about Jaswant’s pitch for the presence of all parties in the interim arrangement, Chhetri said: “I don’t know in what context he made such a comment. All I can say is that we are leading a movement for a separate state in the hills and we will decide who will be included in the set-up.” 
GJMM rejects MP proposal
SNS, SILIGURI, 9 SEPT: The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha today rejected the Darjeeling MP Mr Jaswant Singh's counsel to nominate members to the proposed interim council from all the political parties with presence in the hills and in accordance with the Reservation policy prevailing in the country.
Visibly embarrassed, the GJMM media secretary, Dr Harka Bahadur Chhetri said in Siliguri on return from New Delhi today that Mr Singh had not been authorised by the party to comment on crucial policy matters. “A BJP veteran, he seems unaware of the stand my party has taken on the matter. What he said is his personal stand and maybe, it is the stand of the party he belongs to,” Dr Chhetri said.
Mr Singh's comment crated flutters in the political circles yesterday when he categorically stated that the nominated council should involve not just the political parties with presence in the hills but all socio-economic categories listed in the Reservation schedule including the SC, ST, OBC and the women.
Rejecting Mr Singh's assertions, Dr Chhetri said that being the true representative of the hill populace his party should have the right to nominate members to the proposed interim council.  “None from the party central committee would be nominated. We would remain absorbed in carrying on with the statehood struggle as the interim council being envisaged for the hills would be a mere revised version of the much-hated Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council,” he said.
He further said that his party was ready to support elections provided the Centre and the state government agreed to incorporate Terai and the Dooars within the geographical contour of the interim council.  “We would go for elections tomorrow if the Centre and state accept our boundary demands.  We have demanded 64 moujas spread over the Terai and the Dooars apart from 96 moujas in the hills where the Gokha community is in a demographic majority,” Dr Chhetri added. Asked why the principal hill-based party was fighting shy of elections, the GJMM leader said that his party would remain focused on the territorial aspirations of the Gorkha people. “Realising these long- suppressed aspirations are more important than contesting elections,” he said.
Charging fusillades at the state government, Dr Chettri said that the Marxists looked determined to stall the council- formation process.  “Adept in the divide and rule stratagem, they are bent on driving wedge amongst different sections of the hill people,” he said. 

3 more ABAVP stalwarts resigned
TT, Jaigaon/Siliguri, Sept. 9: Three more office-bearers of the Dooars Terai Regional Unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today resigned from their posts to protest the alleged autocratic functioning of the outfit’s leadership in the plains.
The unit’s secretary Sanjiban Kuzur, adviser Robin Baghowar and a member of the party’s state and regional committees Sanchita Bara handed over their resignation letters to the Parishad’s state president Tez Kumar Toppo in Malbazar this afternoon.
The senior leaders quitting their posts is a major blow to the Parishad which was already reeling from the resignation of the unit’s secretary Rajesh Lakra on Tuesday.
The Telegraph had reported yesterday that at least five leaders would follow in Lakra’s footsteps.
In their resignations, the three leaders expressed anguish at the style of functioning of the unit and alleged that the laid down norms of the Parishad were being violated by some leaders heading the outfit.
“When a leader and social worker like Rajesh Lakra has stepped down from his post, there is no question of us remaining. So, we resigned today,” said Kuzur. “There is no democracy in the unit and some leaders are working according to their whims and wishes, without thinking of the well-being of the tribal populace which stands behind them.”
Kuzur brushed aside Parishad leadership’s claim that they were deserting the organisation to join the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and contest the coming Assembly polls. “There is no question of joining the PPP. Considering the instability in the Parishad, we had no other option but to submit the resignations as we cannot simply sit idle and watch these people ruin the organisation,” he said.
Tezkumar Toppo, the state secretary of the Parishad, said the three leaders had fallen prey to the “lure of the PPP”. “We don’t think that their absence will have any impact on the Parishad.”
However, chairman of the Parishad-backed Progressive Tea Workers’ Union Shukra Munda said he would try to get back Lakra and the other three leaders. “They are important for our organisation and we will soon meet them to resolve the problem,” he said.
Parishad leaders hinted that certain changes would be effected in the regional unit during the state committee meeting in Malbazar on Saturday. “The exit of three-four leaders has no impact on the Parishad so far. But if the trend continues, there is no doubt it will create problems for the outfit,” said a leader. “We hope the state committee will take some decisions to ensure that the regional unit functions at its best.”
Prakha, Gangtok@JNM road was made through for all kinds of traffic @ 1500 hrs on 9 Sep 2010 due to untiring and dedicated efforts by OC 130 RCC Mr. Manoj Kumar and his team. The workshop team led by Lt Col Aniruddha Sen was also successful in recovering the vehicle which was stuck between two slides. However the road is still one way and traffic regulation is required. About 75 Army/Civil vehicles crossed the new cut stretch without any difficulty. However a bench cutting is being done about 20m above the existing road in order to obtain a more stable alignment .
Another time another place
Highest race course in the world? subrata chowdhury talks of Lebong and memories that refuse to die (SNS)
BACK in 1971 was when I first got to savour the experience of being in mountain country and, prophetically enough, it happened to be in Darjeeling, which epitomised a mysterious comeliness that earned it the sobriquet, “Queen of the Hills”. Young but largely unwise to the ways of the diehard traveller, I had somehow chosen that town to honeymoon in, my choice made the more pleasant because of a chance encounter with an old school friend who happened to be promenading his newly married wife in the Mall. Having exchanged pleasantries, he suggested we visit Lebong Race Course because, as he went on to explain, without being in there the trip to Darjeeling would remain incomplete.
   So we rode a Landrover and were soon past the hill that fronted Lebong. It was a race day and people of every indigenous origin as also tourists were converging on the three ticket counters at the entrance. Inside it was nothing short of theatrical – an oval of velvety green turf surrounded by white wooden barriers but definitely smaller than the courses one normally comes across in big towns, green galleries and a grandstand that was adequately filled with a colourful crowd, most of them armed with binoculars. Such is the pull of pedigree.
   Incidentally, at the end of the day I lost and my friend won. I still remember the ponies ridden by diminutive jockeys vying for lead in a most animated way as they went round skirting that white barrier and rushing for the finishing line. The crowd bayed in unison.
I came to learn that Lebong was the highest race course in the world (above 6,000 feet). It now all seems so nostalgic because the race course is defunct, the last race having been run in the middle of the mid-’80s.
   I had read about legendary jockey Dawa Tshering Bhotia, who had won the prestigious Governor’s Cup in front of a crowd busting at the seams in 1952. As the record goes, he has won it five times in all. If you were out for an early morning walk across the Mall in Darjeeling, you might have chanced on finding that bespectacled octogenarian slowly making his way with a walking stick. Conversation struck up, the “Dawa Jockey” as he was popularly known to locals, might tell you about the ’50s and ’60s when he was busy steering winners on that lush turf track that was kissed by a mellow sun and drew moisture from the clouds, cheered on by the crowd around him. He might also add that one should have heard the crowd roar when the vivacious animals made their way to the starting stalls. In fact, back then virtually all of Darjeeling would be at Lebong on race days, the crowd comprised of Lepchas, Gorkhas, Tibetans, Sherpas, Bengalis, North Indians, rajas, maharajas, the Governor himself, government officials, Army personnel and fashionably dressed men and women from every walk of life. Hoards of people could be seen walking down CR Das road with water bottles, tiffin boxes, brollies, babies and racing guides on race days. Those who were regular punters would pray to the goddess of luck by dropping coins into gagris (copper vases) filled with water and flowers kept at waysides by well-wishers.
   But not every punter was affluent. Some would thumb lifts along Lebong Cart Road in junky Jeeps, Landrovers, Austin A40s and Ambassadors, huddled like cattle and excitedly discussing jockeys, horses and tips. Bhotia might also tell you many more interesting anecdotes if you deigned to sit with him on one of those iron benches along the side of the Mall for a little while more. You could, with a little luck, meet Naswan Madan, another gentleman in his early 80s at the Chowrasta Store. He was certainly another champion jockey of the ’50s and ’60s, competing in the races every week and on all Derby occasions simply for the love of it.
The Lebong I’ talking about might have see more glorious days but for the circumstances the hill town had to go through since the later half of the last century. It was in the vicinity of the race course that Dr Cambell, British surgeon and researcher in phytogeny, planted the first sapling of the present Darjeeling tea trade in 1850.
   A visitor to Darjeeling now can have an aerial view of Lebong Race Course from the edge of the town itself, but it’s an Army camp at present. With a stretch of the imagination you could visualise chestnut ponies being reined in by jockeys in lively livery, pushing at each other to get ahead.
The scenic beauty, the topographic magnificence and the milestones are being recast in this panoramic set-up at the footfalls. The present opens a window on history, with glimpses of a past that will never die.
   Lebong is nearly 1,000 feet below Darjeeling town and about eight kiolometres from the Mall. The place derives its name from the Lepcha word Alebung, meaning “the tongue-shaped spur”. 

7-day deadline to chalk out tea wage draft
- Minimum pay warning for garden managements
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Sept. 9: The state government has asked tea garden managements to submit within seven days a fresh draft on an interim wage hike after the proposal to pay a one-time “recoverable allowance” of Rs 400 to each worker was summarily rejected by the trade unions.
The CPM-led government, which has its eyes on the Assembly polls next year, also warned the garden managements that failure to draw up the new pay structure for the 3 lakh tea workers in the state would compel it to announce a minimum wage for the sector. Earlier, the planters had said the tea industry was under extreme pressure from the government to accept the workers’ demand for interim wage hike although the agreement on salary expires only next year.
The government set the deadline at a meeting attended by managements and trade unions in Calcutta today. The meeting was chaired by labour minister Anadi Sahu.
Sources said Sahu had proposed that the managements increase the wage to Rs 100 per day from the existing Rs 67. “The management expressed its inability to go in for a wage revision as an earlier settlement is valid till March 31, 2011,” a source said. Instead, the managements proposed to pay a recoverable allowance of Rs 400 to each worker. “Recoverable allowance means that the workers would have to pay back this amount after a mutually accepted date,” said a representative of the planters.
Following the stalemate, the source said, Sahu asked the managements to draw up a fresh proposal on the interim wage revision, failing which the government would start the process of implementing the minimum wage for tea garden workers. “The minister said he would visit Siliguri on September 16 to hold another round of discussions,” said Samir Roy, the convener of the Defence Committee for Plantation Workers’ Right, an umbrella association of labour unions.
“We have demanded that the managements pay a need-based minimum wage along with dearness allowance and variable dearness allowance to the workers. These allowances were there until the Left come into power,” Roy told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta.
Need-based minimum wage essentially means a salary structure worked out taking into consideration the All India Consumer Price Index. One of the factors that determine the minimum wage is the amount spent by a worker on food containing 2,700 calories per day.
Trilok Roka, adviser to the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, an affiliate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said: “Whatever decision the state takes, the workers have to get an interim relief to tide over the inflation till the new wage deal is worked out after the expiry of the current agreement on March 31, 2011.”
To implement the minimum wage in tea gardens, the government would have to first come out with a notification, set up a committee that will decide on the wage and get it passed in the Assembly.
In Bengal, the minimum wage varies from Rs 96 per day to Rs 193.50, depending on whether the worker is unskilled, semi-skilled or skilled and the sector he is employed in. Sikkim which has laid down a minimum wage for tea garden workers — the state has only one garden, Temi Tea, owned by the government — pays Rs 100 for unskilled, Rs 115 for semi-skilled, Rs 130 for skilled and Rs 150 for highly skilled workers. The garden owners said the government must, before taking a decision on wage revision, consider the many benefits like housing, medicine and rations that are provided by the industry.
Sandeep Mukherjee, secretary of the Darjeeling Tea Association, said: “The industry cannot afford a wage revision but following the government’s directive we will have to do a rethink.”
Torch light Rally of GJNM  in Kalimpong
DoNER to support youths
Prakha, GANGTOK, September 9: DoNER minister BK Handique today assured the State government that the North East Development Financial Corporation (NEDFi) will have a ‘much bigger presence’ in Sikkim for providing financial support to enterprising Sikkimese youth. “From now on, NEDFi will have a much larger presence and bigger role to play in Sikkim. Once we show the way, other financial institutions will also come”, said the DoNER minister during the inaugural session of a seminar on ‘Development of Manufacturing and Services Sector in NER’ organized by NEDFi here at Gangtok. Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, industries minister Neeru Sewa, chief secretary TT Dorji, senior government officials and representatives from financial institutions and entrepreneurs from Sikkim and other NE States attended the function. The Chief Minister in his address had asserted the NEDFi needs to be more visible and aggressive in promoting the interest of the local people. He had urged the NEDFi to upgrade and increase the funds to its office here at Gangtok. Chamling also presented six issues specific to Sikkim and requested the personal intervention of the DoNER minister for their speeding solution. He requested a one time grant of Rs. 50 crores for acquisition of land in Sikkim so that the State government is able to provide land to investors on lease basis.
“If we are successful in this effort, we can expect investment over Rs. 5000 crores which will create employment opportunities to our people”.
The Chief Minister also demanded revision of trade items for the Nathu La border trade between Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region. He further demanded a Central Public Sector Undertaking in Sikkim and financial assistance for training facilities at Directorate of Handlooms & Handicrafts.
Another demand placed by Chamling was a one-time financial assistance and scientific and technological support for rejuvenation and re-plantation of cardamom and orange in Sikkim.
Responding to the demands, the DoNER minister assured all possible help to Sikkim in fields of floriculture, horticulture and tourism.
“I will discuss with Centre to see whether a Central Public Sector Undertaking can be set up here”, said Handique.
Regarding the one-time grant of Rs. 50 crores demanded by the Chief Minister for land acquisition for industrialization, the DoNER minister later told reporters that he has to go back and look into the demand more carefully. “I have to go back and see. As per rules we cannot give but we will see and find out a way because other Northeastern States are also making similar demands. We will soon take a call on yes or no”, he said.
Handique also assured to look into demand of revision of Nathu La trade items.
In his interaction with media, the DoNER minister laid stress on promotion of Buddhist circuit between Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast with the adjoining Southeast Asian nations.
“I was toying with this idea for some time. I have already talked with both Myanmar and Thailand governments”, said Handique. His idea of Buddhist circuit was ‘Sky to Earth’.
“Tawang has the highest monastery and from there, tourists can drop down to other monasteries in the Northeast. Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh are Buddhist pilgrimage destinations on their own right and only thing that is required is air connectivity”, said the DoNER minister. He said that he has already taken up the issue of inter-connectivity in Northeast region through air with the Indian Airlines. ortheast region. I am suggesting air connectivity between these two States with Guwahati being a halting point for the easy accessibility for tourists”, said Handique.
The DoNER minister also disbursed loans to small scale entrepreneurs from Sikkim on the occasion.
NEDFi chief managing director B Paul Muktieh and DoNER joint secretary Dr JP Sharma also addressed the gathering.
NBU digitises Nepali for India
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 9: Work on digitising Nepali is currently underway at North Bengal University (NBU), a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country taken up by the Union ministry of communications and information technology.
The three-year project is being executed in collaboration with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune. The work that commenced at the university in June 2008 is being funded by the department of information technology (DIT) as part of its project to digitise four major languages in the Northeast — Assamese, Bodo, Manipuri and Nepali.
“The Nepali department at the NBU has been assigned the task of the digital development of Nepali. Work on Bodo and Assamese is in progress at Gauhati University, while Manipuri is being digitised at Manipur University,” said Ghanashyam Nepal, one of the two chief investigators of the project and the head of the Nepali department at the NBU.
The other chief investigator is Pushkar Parajuli, also a lecturer at the Nepali department.
A group of experts in Nepali has been working extensively on compiling a Nepali corpus, collecting and morphologically analysing each and every word, their meanings, grammar and spellings. These are sent at regular intervals as raw material to the C-DAC where the software is being developed after the final consolidation.
“A software for Nepali has already been developed in Nepal. But the project being undertaken at the NBU is the first-of-its kind for the Nepali language in India. Published material available in the country is used to develop the software. It is a commendable step taken by the government for the Nepali language,” said Sharad Sinha, the core investigator of the project.
“We have collected and compiled around three million words from written material like novels, drama, newspapers, prose and wedding and visiting cards. All these will be compiled and used in the software,” said Kumar Pradhan, the chief language expert of the project.
“Spell-check, grammar check, and dictionary are some of the features of the software. The real challenge lies in compiling grammatical aspects, especially verbs because there are several ways to express an action in Nepali. We are also developing templates for verbs and actions,” he said. “The software will be useful for anybody who is interested in Nepali, especially research scholars. It will also be a basis for high-tech computation of the language later,” Kumar added.
Compensation unpaid as snakes make merry
kanchan siddiqui,BURDWAN, 9 SEPT: Even as more and more people are falling prey to snake bite everyday, cash compensation worth more than Rs 50 lakh, meant for the next of kin of the victims, remains unpaid in Burdwan.
The compensation was supposed to be disbursed as part of a disaster management programme, to assist the families of the deceased.
Burdwan alone witnesses more than 300 snake bite cases annually and it records an average 50 casualties each year. The victims are mainly farm land labourers. The recent casualties, mostly reported from within residential areas ~ following an unprecedented attack by snakes ~ have district administration concerned. The zoological and forest division experts, especially after the snake bite toll reached 14 in just six days in September, have blamed the sudden change in weather conditions for the rise in the attacks.
The state government now provides Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of snake bite victims as compensation.
The figure was a meagre Rs 5,000 in the 1980s which has been enhanced 20 times in 30 years. Since 2008-09 till August 2010, the district Disaster Management Cell under the Social Welfare Department in Burdwan recorded 93 deaths due to snake bite in different villages across the district.
The department gave Rs 44.40 lakh as relief to the next of kin of the victims. According to Mr Kumud Ranjan Saha, District Disaster Management Officer: “Till last August, 53 cases were pending and we required an additional fund of  Rs 47.90 lakh to meet the final disbursement. But, we haven’t received the sum yet.”
Meanwhile, 14 fresh cases were reported between 3 and 8 September. Mr Saha said: “The requisition will be enhanced proportionately.”
The outstanding amount was Rs 61.90 lakh till 8 September.  The Cell officials said: “We have no idea when the funds will reach us.” The district, however, is well prepared to combat the situation, say district health officials.
Dr Abu Ershad, Chief Medical Officer of health, Burdwan said: “We have purchased antidote worth Rs 80 lakh this year which is sufficient to deal with the cases. But, since the rural and block hospitals neither have neuro-physicians nor dialysis facilities, the rural patients are often referred to Burdwan Medical College which takes up a lot of time and delays treatment. We are helpless in this matter.” 

Affair whiff in girl ‘kidnap’
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 9: A five-year-old girl was today found abandoned in a forest on the outskirts of the town with local people alleging that she had been left there by a man, who was allegedly having an affair with her mother.
The girl’s father who has arrived from Gangtok is yet to file any complaint, police said.
“Around 4pm some people found the girl wailing alone in the Hatiadanga forest. They took her to the nearby locality and handed her over to residents there,” said an officer of New Jalpaiguri police outpost.
Saroj Roy, a panchayat member from Hatiadanga bazaar, 12km from here, then took charge of the girl. “We first tried to comfort the girl and offered her milk. A little later, we took her to the NJP outpost,” Roy said.
At the outpost, the girl told the police that she lived in Purba Sipahipara village, next to Hatiadanga forest, with her mother. “Her father Robin is a carpenter and stays in Gangtok. Local people alleged that her mother was having an affair with a person of the area for sometime,” the officer said.
The police suspect the man had intended to harm the girl in the forest, but fled when she started crying for help. The girl’s mother and the man have both escaped from the area. “We have contacted the girl’s father in Sikkim. Once he arrives, we will hand over her to him,” the officer said earlier in the afternoon.
The father reached the police outpost late in the evening.
Achintya Gupta, the circle inspector of Jalpaiguri Sadar, however, said the police were yet to receive any complaint and were trying to verify the allegations levelled by the villagers. “It is not possible to comment on the incident right now. We are trying to verify the various charges and claims made by the villagers,” Gupta added. 
Death again on potholed road
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 9: The potholed road of Jalpaiguri today claimed the life of a Class X student even as the 10-day-old indefinite bus strike started affecting around 2,000 vehicle workers besides more than a lakh of passengers.
Kaushik Tamang of Odlabari was on way to Bagrakote Nepali High School, around 10km away, on an auto-rickshaw when the vehicle turned turtle on NH31, killing the 15-year-old on the spot. Twenty-two others were injured in the accident.
Two days ago, a Guwahati-bound bus fell into a ditch to avoid a deep pothole on NH31C near Jaigaon, killing one passenger and injuring 11 others.
“The students were travelling in an over-loaded auto in the absence of private buses. As the vehicle left Odlabari, its front wheel fell into a pothole and turned on its side,” said Sujit Das, an Odlabari resident. “The injured students were rushed to Malbazar Subivisional Hospital.”
Around 1,500 buses in Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Darjeeling districts are off the roads since August 31 as part of the strike called by the North Bengal Passenger Transport Owners’ Coordination Committee to protest bad thoroughfares.
According to the bus owners, around 5,000 people eke out a living from the vehicles.
“Of them, nearly 3,000 are permanent employees and the rest are day labourers. It is true that because of the strike, the casual labourers have not been getting any remuneration for the past 10 days,” said Pranab Mani, the committee secretary. “We are aware of their problems but helpless. We will hold a review meeting on Saturday to decide whether the strike will be continued or not.”
The casual workers are, however, waiting for the strike to end. “Passengers are facing inconvenience but somehow they are reaching their destinations, may be by forking out extra money. But we have no option other than sitting around and consuming our little savings or doing some odd jobs,” said Rakesh Mahato, who works as a helper in a private bus.
Others like Jatin Roy are collecting passengers for small vehicles that are on the roads in Siliguri. “I am getting some money as commission from the drivers as we have no clue when the strike will end,” Roy said.
At Odlabari, local people set up a blockade at the accident spot blaming the administration for bad roads. Malbazar police persuaded the protesters to lift the blockade after nearly three hours at 12 noon. The driver fled but the vehicle has been seized.
Fest to celebrate bloom boom- Food stalls to add colour to flower show
Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, Sept. 9: Aroma added to colour is expected to draw more visitors to the bloom fest this time.
So, local delicacies will be an integral part of the second edition of the Kalimpong flower show to be held on the premises of Vrindavan School at 12th Mile early next month. The organisers also plan to host several competitions during the three-day fest from October 8.
Last year, the flower show was hosted by the Kalimpong-based Dansberg Club to celebrate the hill town’s success in the floriculture sector.
“Kalimpong has around 50 flower nurseries and is considered the floriculture hub of the region. Today it prominently features in the floriculture map of the world,” said Manoj Kumar Pradhan, the co-ordinator of the club.
The event will have a wide variety of flowers like orchids, palms, pines, bromeliads, on display.
“Some of the exhibits will be up for sale. Kalimpong is like a natural green house where different kinds of plants from cactus to pine are grown,” said Pradhan.
According to him, almost 15 per cent of the town’s population is dependent on floriculture.
Over 100 participants including flower nurseries, schools and individuals will take part in the three-day show that will end on October 10.
“We have invited participants from Sikkim and even Calcutta for the event,” said Pradhan.
The organisers have lined up “best flower” and “best flower arrangement” contests for different categories.
“The best participating school will be awarded the Lilawati Pradhan Memorial inter-school flower display trophy,” said the coordinator.
A sit-and-draw competition for students, and a photography and painting exhibition have also been lined up by the organisers.
The food stalls will sell momochas and choila prepared by the local women at the venue, 4km from here. 
Training Center
TT, Siliguri: A new training centre was inaugurated at the Prerana Educational Centre run by the North Bengal Council for the Disabled at Demdima Basti in Salugara on the outskirts of Siliguri on Thursday. The centre was built with money sanctioned from the MPLAD funds of Bimal Jalan. Besides the new infrastructure, a new ramp to facilitate the movement of special children has also been constructed with assistance from the Calcutta-based Apeejay Trust, said Rita Sengupta, the director of the centre.
Trinmully Rally
TT, Balurghat: Trinamul Congress workers organised rallies and meetings at Buniadpur, around 55km from here, on Thursday, demanding steps against policemen who were allegedly responsible for the death of a school student, Jayanta Sarkar, in lock-up on Sunday.
Health Raid
TT, Cooch Behar: Health officials conducted raid on 10 illegal pathology laboratories and two X-ray clinics in Dinhata town on Thursday. The raid was led by subdivisional officer Chiranjib Ghosh. The illegal diagnosis centres were closed by the health authorities after the raid.
Power protest
TT, Siliguri: The BJP organised a demonstration at the north Bengal zonal office of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd here on Thursday to protest the revision of tariff and frequent power cuts. They also submitted a memorandum to the deputy zonal manager, seeking intervention.
JU firm on CCTV stand
SNS, KOLKATA, 9 SEPT: Jadavpur University (JU) has decided to go ahead with the installation of CCTVs, despite continuing protests from a section of the students who gheraoed the university authorities for the second day today.
Members of the Executive Council (EC) have been confined to a room in the main building of the university since yesterday afternoon while students busied themselves shouting slogans against the authorities outside the main building. A few teachers also alleged that they were prevented from entering the building today, though students denied the allegation. They also claimed that an EC member was allowed to leave last night since he was unwell.
Prof. PN Ghosh, Vice-Chancellor of JU, held a Press conference this morning and said that the students could continue their movement as long as they wished, but the authorities would go ahead with their decision. He said that discussions will not be held unless the students withdrew their agitation.
Last night, the EC had decided to set up a committee to finalise the locations where the CCTVs would be installed after consulting with students. Threatening to go in for an indefinite strike, students today said they will continue their agitation unless the authorities relented.
Mr Manmatho Roy, chairperson of Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students Union (Fetsu), said: “The authorities should have first spoken to us before deciding to install CCTVs. We have submitted a memorandum to the V-C in this regard,” said Mr Roy.
It is illogical to spend Rs 16 lakh on this project, while the facilities in the hostels are yet to be upgraded, he said.
Incidentally, Jadavpur University’s EC members had been gheraoed overnight at least five times since 2008 and in all the instances students had been forced to withdraw their movement after the authorities refused to relent.

Pastor cancels Quran burning plan
GAINESVILLE, Florida: A Christian pastor on Thursday canceled a plan to burn copies of the Quran at his obscure Florida church, which had drawn international condemnation and a warning from President Barack Obama that it could provoke al-Qaida suicide bombings.
US defense secretary Robert Gates called Terry Jones, an obscure minister who heads the tiny Dove World Outreach Center church in the Florida town of Gainesville, to urge him not to go ahead, the Pentagon said.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Gates had expressed "grave concern" in the brief telephone call with Jones that the Quran burning "would put the lives of our forces at risk, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan." Jones later told journalists outside his church that he was calling off his plan, which had caused worldwide alarm and raised tensions over this year's anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington.
He confirmed Gates' call but linked his decision to what he said was an agreement by Muslim leaders -- which they denied -- to relocate an Islamic cultural center and mosque planned close to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York. The proposed location has drawn opposition from many Americans who say it is insensitive to families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
"The imam has agreed to move the mosque, we have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday," Jones said.
He said he would fly to New York on Saturday with Imam Muhammad Musri, head of the Islamic Society of Central Florida to meet the New York imam at the center of the controversy, Feisal Abdul Rauf.
But Rauf said in a statement he was surprised by the announcement. "I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Qurans. However, I have not spoken to Pastor Jones or Imam Musri. I am surprised by their announcement," he said. "We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we going to barter. We are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony," he said.
Sharif el-Gamal, the project developer for the New York mosque, said in a statement: "It is untrue that the community center known as park 51 in lower Manhattan is being moved. The project will proceed as planned. What is being reported in the media today is a falsehood." Musri conceded to reporters: "This is not a done deal yet. This is a brokered deal," he said. He said he had no fixed time for him and Jones to meet Rauf in New York.
Earlier, world leaders had joined Obama in denouncing Jones' plan to burn copies of the Islamic holy book on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The international police agency Interpol warned governments worldwide of an increased risk of terrorist attacks if the burning went ahead, and the US State Department issued a warning to Americans traveling overseas.
Jones has said Jesus would approve of his plan for "Burn a Quran Day," which he called a reprisal for Islamist terrorism. The United States has powerful legal protections for the right to free speech and there was little law enforcement authorities could do to stop Jones from going ahead, other than citing him under local bylaws against public burning.
Many people, both conservative and liberal, dismissed the threat as an attention-seeking stunt by the preacher. "This is a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaida," Obama said in an ABC television interview. "You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities."
The US president, who has sought to improve relations with Muslims worldwide, spoke out in an effort to stop Jones from going ahead and head off growing anger among many Muslims. Insults to Islam, no matter their size or scope, have often been met with huge protests and violence around the world. One such outburst was sparked when a Danish newspaper published a cartoon mocking the Prophet Mohammad in 2005.
Pentagon spokesman Morrell said earlier in the day that there was intense debate within the administration over whether to call Jones. Officials feared of setting a precedent that could inspire copy-cat "extremists." Jones' plan was condemned by foreign governments, international church groups, US religious and political leaders and military commanders.
It also threatened to undermine Obama's efforts to reach out to the world's more than one billion Muslims at a time when he is trying to advance the Middle East peace process and build solidarity against Iran over its disputed nuclear program. 

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