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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

With polls in mind, Buddha, Didi rush to solve local issues ... WB CM meets Chidambaram, discusses security situation in state ...

INDIA-US-POLITICS-NUCLEARMohua Chatterjee, TNN, NEW DELHI: The competitive politics between arch-rivals — CPM and Trinamool Congress (TMC) — in West Bengal seems to have suddenly turned conducive as both parties are keen to resolve complicated issues like the land acquisition bill and Gorkhaland.
Interestingly, it may lead to a situation, which may appear like a consensus since both chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee are keen to find a solution to the issues. Both parties want to take credit for helping resolve the matters ahead of next year's assembly elections and ensure that the rival does not corner the glory.
Buddhdeb Bhattacharjee is keen to resolve the Gorkhaland problem. With the Gorkha Janmukti Morch (GJM) climbing down from its hardline demand for statehood, since the killing of popular Gorkha leader Madan Tamang and agreeing to accept a fresh autonomy formula, the Centre could work out an amicable settlement soon.
Sensing that CPM may emerge victorious if Gorkhaland is resolved, Mamata recently visited the Darjeeling hills and held meetings with GJM leaders and assured that she would also tell the PM to resolve the issue at the earliest. The TMC chief has also presented a CD of her visit to the PM. During his meeting with home minister P Chidambaram, the CM discussed the Gorkhaland issue on Tuesday, while discussing the security situation in the state.
The CPM is also keen to get the land acquisition Bill passed as it would help it in acquiring land for industry in Bengal as is the case in other states. While the Centre is keen on the Bill, it was Mamata who had opposed it earlier, as she had rebuilt her support base on the issue of farmers' land being acquired for industry.
But now with elections drawing close, and her chances of dethroning the Left Front government looking bright, Mamata realises she will have to go for industrialisation, if she becomes the CM. Hence, she has softened her stand on the bill. That the bill is likely to go the Parliamentary Standing Committee if introduced in the Winter Session of the House, where TMC members will also be present, is also an assurance for Mamata. Though she has not committed herself on it, Mamata is veering around to the view that the Bill could be introduced. In that situation, she would be more or less on the same page as rival CPM in helping the Bill pass, and CPM would not be able to walk away with the credit of supporting it.
WB CM meets Chidambaram, discusses security situation in state
Top News, Kolkata: On Tuesday West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met Home Minister P Chidambaram and discussed with him the security condition in the state in advance of the Assembly elections near the beginning next year.
For the duration of the 30-minute meeting, Chidambaram and Bhattacharjee are supposed to have discussed Trinamool Congress' claim for withdrawal of joint forces from Maoist-hit Jangal Mahal area.
According to the sources, both the leaders are implicated to have discussed the continuing operation in opposition to the Maoists.
The chief minister has been strongly supporting the joint anti-Naxal operation which was launched by the Central and state forces in Maoist-dominated areas of West Bengal.
The ongoing talks with Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha, which has been spearheading a movement on the demand for a separate Gorkha land comprising Darjeeling and some adjoining areas, also figured in the meeting.
In the 1980s the Gorkhaland Movement that began had ended with a treaty between the then-leader Subhash Ghising and New Delhi after he accepted limited self-rule in 1988 with a new Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).
The ongoing talks with Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha has been leading light a movement on the demand for a separate Gorkha land including Darjeeling and some adjoining areas, also figured in the meeting. 
Varsity panel for re-checks- Strike off in hill colleges after NBU assurance
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 5: The Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha today withdrew the strike in 11 hill colleges after North Bengal University agreed to consider some of its demands.
As a first step, the university will form a co-ordination committee to oversee the reassessment of the answer sheets of the Part I and II undergraduate exams, but stressed it would not entertain the applications of those who scored less than 25 per cent.
A large percentage of students in the hill colleges were unable to clear their Part I and II exams this year. Darjeeling Government College had recorded a failure percentage of about 70, triggering student outrage and the strike from September 30. Even college principals accused the NBU of doing a shabby job of checking the answer scripts.
Nima Sherpa, the media and publicity secretary of the Vidyarthi Morcha, said today: “We had raised a number of demands including the formation of a co-ordination committee, and permission for students to apply for reassessment even if they have scored less than 25 per cent in the respective paper. The varsity authorities have accepted our demands and we have withdrawn the strike.”
However Susanta Das, the controller of examinations at the NBU, said those who had scored less than 25 per cent would not be given a chance to get their scripts re-assessed.
“It seems they (Vidyarthi Morcha) have misunderstood one point. The laid-down rule that at least 25 per cent was needed to make a student eligible for reassessment in a paper would be followed in this case as well. There is no question of allowing reassessment when students have scored less than 25,” Das said. “But the varsity will form a coordination committee and consider the cases of the students who could not submit re-assessment applications before the last date.”
The university date for submitting applications for re-assessment was from September 17 to October 1. But many students in the hill colleges could not submit their forms on the last two days because of the strike. “We asked the authorities to consider their cases, and accordingly, we have informed the students and approached the principals of the respective colleges. The varsity will also pass on necessary instructions to the principals to ensure that those students are not deprived of reassessment,” a Vidyarthi Morcha leader said. 
Now, Asim promises fast NH repair
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 5: Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta today said the ongoing road repairs in north Bengal would be completed in five days and warned that contractors indulging in irregularities would be blacklisted.
This is the second time that the government has set a timeframe to repair different stretches of NH31, NH31C and NH31D in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts.
“The damaged roads in north Bengal will be repaired in phases. While the immediate maintenance work will be completed by the 10th of this month, full-fledged tarring will be finished before December 31. During the work, if any contractor is found indulging in irregularities, he will be blacklisted immediately,” Dasgupta told journalists after a meeting to review the repairs.
Public works minister Kshiti Goswami, backward class welfare development minister Jogesh Burman, urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya and officials of the PWD and the National Highways Authority of India attended the meeting held at the circuit house here.
On September 2, Goswami had promised after a similar meeting in Siliguri that the highways would be made pothole-free in 15 days, but he could not keep his word. The finance minister today attributed the delay in the completion of the repair to continuous rain in north Bengal.
The dilapidated roads have resulted in a number of accidents in the past one month.
Twenty-five people, mostly puja shoppers, were injured when the bus they were travelling in turned turtle on the damaged NH31D near Jalpaiguri on Sunday.
A Class X student was killed when a rickshaw-van fell on its side on NH31 at Odlabari on September 9. Two days earlier, a Guwahati-bound bus fell into a ditch to avoid a deep pothole on NH31C near Jaigaon, killing one passenger and injuring 11 others.
Dasgupta has asked officials to keep him and Goswami updated on the progress in the repair.
“I had been instructed by the chief minister on September 22 to check out the condition of roads in north Bengal. I visited the NH stretches between Siliguri and Fulbari and found their condition to be deplorable. I have instructed the district authorities to monitor the work and prepare reports on the progress every week. They were told to send the copies of the reports to me and the PWD minister on a regular basis,” he said.
Transporters have taken the minister’s assurance with a pinch of salt. “We have received similar assurances earlier also, but the highways were not repaired on time. We hope that the government will be able to complete the work this time,” said Pranab Mani, the secretary of the North Bengal Passengers’ Transport Owners’ Committee.
Private bus owners had gone on a 20-day strike in the worst-affected districts of Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts to protest the dilapidated condition of the roads.
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Enraged workers blocked NH 31
TT:A worker’s house that was damaged by elephants at Ranichera Tea Estate in Jalpaiguri on Sunday night. A herd of 70-odd elephants ransacked at least 10 houses in the labour lines of the estate near Malbazar. Angry workers set up a blockade on NH31 for five hours on Monday, demanding the intervention of the forest department and compensation for the damaged huts. “We were sleeping when the elephants started ransacking our quarters. Someone raised the alarm and we ran to safer places. Thankfully, nobody was injured and there was no casualty,” said Aruna Lakra, a resident of the garden. The forest department has arranged for some relief and asked the garden management to repair the houses. Text: Avijit Sinha, picture: Biplab Basak
Darjeeling hills find depth for tourists’ descent
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Oct. 4: Days are not far when tourists can glide with the floating cotton clouds across the rolling hills of Darjeeling.
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) have recently inked a memorandum of understanding to introduce paragliding for tourists in the hills.
“The initiative is expected to be the first of its kind in this part of the region and we expect to start flying from March onwards,” Col Neeraj Rana, the principal of the HMI, told The Telegraph.
In fact, Rana himself is the first man to paraglide on Mt Makalu from an altitude of 18,700 feet to 16,076 feet.
Tourists need not be so adventurous and take risk as Rana did.
“We have selected a spot at Rohini in Kurseong subdivision. We will first take six boys from the village and will train them for a year and half before certifying them as trained paragliders. The WBTDC will develop infrastructure at the spot,” said Rana.
In the Rohini area, the highest point is around 4,000 feet and there are enough open spaces to descend as low as 2,000 feet. “The place is ideal for paragliding. The valley-like area is surrounded by hillocks and the scenery is picturesque as fliers can also see the plains,” said Rana.
Even though the six boys are expected to complete their training in 18 months, tourists need not wait for so long.
“The HMI will be bringing in authorised instructors from various parts of the country. While one set will be training the locals, the others will be flying tourists across the hills,” said Rana. “Provisions will be made to accommodate one tourist on a glider. The instructors will take them around.”
Rohini is ideal for paragliding two times a year and they coincide with the tourism season. “The first flying season will be from March to May and the next will be from October to December,” said the HMI principal.
The HMI and the WBTDC will also start a centre at Melli to train 12 people in rafting.
According to the memorandum of understanding, while the WBTDC will develop the infrastructure for the flying, the equipment needed for the gliding will be procured by the HMI.
The WBTDC will also frame safety guidelines for the rafting and the gliding. 
AAGSU felicitates Gorkha achievers and socio-political activists
Amlighat, Morigoan (Gorkha News Bureau):- The All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU) on Sunday in its open session after the special delegate session felicitated the Gorkha achievers and various socio-political activists of the state. AAGSU every year felicitates achievers in annual delegate session or at the bi-annual conference or on any special occasion as and when central programs are held.
Amongst the felicitated achievers this year are renowned young Jr. World Boxing ‘Silver Medalist’ champion and Singapore Youth Olympian 2010 ‘Silver Medalist’ star Indian Gorkha boxer 17 years old Shiva Thapa. Thapa has represent boxing in highest form for the nation and bagged medals in all forms of international boxing arena, the world number two boxer was felicitated with a tradition Gorkhali khada, Dhaka topi, badge and a citation by AAGSU’s outgoing President Dil Bahadur Limboo in the Open Session in presence of distinguished guests, dignitaries and huge crowd. It is expected that AAGSU will pave the way for financial assistance of Shiva for abroad training before the 2012 London Olympics. Dil Bahadur Limboo in his presidential speech applauded Shiva Thapa’s feat that brought glory and laurels not only to the nation but also to the Gorkha community in particular. He appealed Government of Assam not to treat Gorkhas step brotherly at least to the international achievers like Shiva Thapa, citing examples of Jayanta Talukdar the Assamese archer who plays for Jharkand at national level and invitational body builder Mr. Universe Mahadev Deka who have been given huge sum of both cash and kind. AAGSU demanded announcement of financial assistance of atleast the most 10 lakhs  in the name of the youngest achiever in the history of Assam along with ace swimmer Fariha Zaman for training abroad in England  ahead of the 2012 London Olympics. Shiva’s personal manager and father Padam Thapa had earlier declared that he would sell his assets and train the rising boxer in England, one of the medal hope of India  for London Olympics. This had evoked sharp criticism against the government from walks of life for stepmotherly treatment to Shiva. It may be mentioned here that the Sikkim Government gave 1 lakh cash award  to Shiva Thapa honouring his feats for the nation.
Among others felicitated  by AAGSU the highest recognized Gorkha organization of Assam were Editor-In-Chief of the ‘Saparivar’ Nepali language monthly magazine from Guwahati Mr. Hemanta Kumar Saikia, its ‘Editor’ Mr. Rohit Goutam, Mr. Neeraj Chetri , 5th position holder at the HSLC 2010, Mr. Chakra Bahadur Chetri; Government Village Headman at Langpih of the disputed Assam-Meghalaya border, Dr. Jagganath Subedi and Manohar Sharma members of the 1966 Greater Guwahati Nepali Students Union and  Mr. Nanda Kirati Dewan socio-political Gorkha activist and Honorary Managing Editor of  Gorkha Times the only online news portal highlighting all issues of the North East and national at large  primarily focusing on over all development of the Gorkha community from the northeast operated by a group of young Gorkha professionals.
A  letter forwarded to the VC of University of Calcutta
Letter to the Vice-Chancellor, University of Calcutta
Support the cause of the Bhutanese refugees!
The Vice-Chancellor
University of Calcutta
We have come to know from media reports that the University of Calcutta has invited the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel
Wangchuck, to deliver the convocation address scheduled to be held on 5 October 2010.
You are perhaps aware that there are about 108,000 Bhutanese people living in seven refugee camps in Nepal and about 20,000 more are living as undocumented refugees in India, most of them in West Bengal.
The Bhutanese authorities have not allowed a single refugee to return. Moreover, the treatment of the Bhutanese government towards the rest of the people of Nepali origin and other ethnic minorities, who still live in Bhutan, suggests that the basic rights of this community cannot be guaranteed. The UNHCR camps at Jhapa, Nepal, fall terribly short in both material and psychological aspects of civil life. Already, the community has grown into the second generation, and maybe the third, and there is visible dearth of space, with its natural accompanying problems. There is little scope for the refugees to be involved in any productive work. Frustration and restlessness due to the lack of livelihood is acute among the younger generation. The young women in these camps are in a particularly vulnerable situation, and there are disturbing reports of gender-based violence and trafficking.
We would therefore request you to please forward this appeal to the Bhutan king to ensure the refugees’ right to return and protection of the life and livelihood of the ethnic minorities in Bhutan.
Yours sincerely
Santosh Bhattacharya,  Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Calcutta
Shubhendhu Dasgupta, Former Member of Faculty, Dept of South & South Asian Studies, University of Calcutta
Ronobir Samaddar, Director, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group
Meher Engineer, Former Director, Bose Institute, Kolkata
Amit Bhattacharyya, Professor of History, Jadavpur University
Kunal Chattopadhyay, Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University
Immanuel Ness, Professor, Brooklyn College, City University of New York
Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay, Professor of Film Studies, Jadavpur University
Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay, Faculty Member, Indian Statistical Institute
Mohiuddin Ahmed, Former Visiting Professor and Co- Director, Inter-Asia NGO Studies
(MAINS), Sungkonghoe University (SKHU), Seoul, Korea
Sujato Bhadra, Associate Professor,Shibpur Dinabandhu College
Ruchira Ganguly,-Scrase Convenor, Asia-Pacific Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
Steve Edwards, Senior Lecturer in Art History, Open University, UK
Soma Marik, Associate Professor of History, RKSM Vivekananda Vidyabhavan
Siddhartha Guha Roy, Associate Professor, Vivekananda College
Francis Adaikalam, Lecturer & Coordinator, Dept of Social Work, Loyola College, Chennai
Maqbool (Max) Babri, Visiting Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
Sourin Bhattacharya, Former Professor in Economics, Jadavpur University
Keya Dasgupta, Faculty Member, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Bodhisattva Kar, Faculty Member, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, Faculty Member, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Dipankar Das, Reader in Economics, Jaipuria College
Indranil Chakraborty, Researcher, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Sudeshna Banerjee, Reader in History, Jadavpur University
Manas Ghosh, Lecturer in Film Studies,  Jadavpur University
Subhajit Chatterjee, Lecturer in Film Studies, Jadavpur University
Shubhankar Roy Chowdhury, Researcher Scholar in Film Studies, Jadavpur University
Sanjib Acharyya, Reader, Dept. Of Mechanical Engineering, Jadavpur University
Dipten Misra, Lecturer, Dept. Of Mechanical Engineering, Jadavpur University
Salil Biswas, Former Lecturer, Heramba Ch College
Dr. Subrata Sarkar, Principal, College of Nursing RG Kar Medical College
Pranab Kumar Nayak, Former Lecturer, Kandi Raj College
Jishnu Dasgupta, Assistant Professor, Serampore College
Achan Mungleng, Independent Researcher
Kumar Rana, Researcher
and many others. (forwarded by Raja Puniani)

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