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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cyber cell plea after MMS scandal

TT, Siliguri, Nov. 16: Darjeeling cops have proposed to the director-general of police to set up a cyber crime cell in Siliguri, nearly 20 days after a polytechnic student here circulated among friends an MMS on intimate moments with his girl friend prompting her to commit suicide.
Ranbir Kumar, the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, told journalists that if approved, the cell would cover six districts of the region. Sources in the police said the proposed cell would be the second of its kind in the state and the first in the region.
“The Darjeeling district superintendent of police has recently sent a proposal to the DG for a separate cyber crime cell, which will monitor cyber crime in different districts of north Bengal. As we don’t have any specific wing in this regard, we have requested the police chief (DG) for a separate cell,” Kumar said today.
“Once the cell begins to function, it will provide necessary guidelines on specific cyber laws and their implementations.”
The proposal comes after an MMS scandal prompted a second year student of Siliguri Government Polytechnic to hang herself. Her boy friend, Anindya Garai, had circulated intimate moments between the two of them among friends. Despite an FIR she filed 10 days before she killed herself, the police failed to arrest Anindya. He was arrested after her death and the case was forwarded to the CID, which has a separate cyber crime cell.
“Lack of experts who can handle cyber crimes forces us every time to take help from the CID which has such a cell. Considering this, we proposed to the state police chief to set up a separate cyber cell here in Siliguri, so that it covers the six districts of north Bengal,” a police officer said.
“We have also requested training sessions for our personnel before setting up such cell here, so that they can be recruited there,” he added.
Earlier, the IG met the district magistrates and the police chiefs of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri to discuss restrictions and guidelines on performances in bars in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri.
“Any live performance has to be stopped by 10.30pm and all bars should be closed by 12 midnight. Apart from that, both the district administrations will hold a meeting with the bar owners’ association here on Thursday, where they will be briefed on the guidelines. The district police officials will also intensify their monitoring to check irregularities in the bars,” the IG said.
Tusker takes food after treatment
TT, Siliguri, Nov. 16: Foresters today darted a wild tusker to treat the injuries of the animal that was hit by a goods train in Mahananda wildlife sanctuary yesterday.
The elephant has responded to medicines and has started taking food, the foresters said.
“The tusker was tranquillised around 9.15am and it remained in a standing position. We were on two pet elephants — Surya and Silabati — which reached here (Chumukdangi) from Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary yesterday with two vets. While examining the elephant, we found that it had a severe wound near the shoulder and on the left hind leg,” said Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer (wildlife I) who oversaw the entire operation.
“The animal has injuries on other parts of the body also. The vets provided the elephant with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic drugs and eight bottles of IV fluid, along with other medicines. The treatment was over by 12pm and soon, the animal regained it senses,” said Das.
The elephant lost one of its tusks when it was hit by the goods train on way to Alipurduar on the stretch between Gulma and Sevoke stations, where tracks run through the Mahananda forest.
Das said once the elephant regained consciousness, it had started consuming banana plants kept within its reach. “It was a sign that the medicines had started working, as the animal had not consumed any food after the accident. A team has been posted to keep the tusker under observation,” said the DFO.
While the tusker was being treated for its wounds, foresters in Jalpaiguri were busy with the post-mortem and the cremation of a makna (male elephant without tusks) which had been mowed down by Mahananda Express last night. The accident took place near Rahimpur Tea Estate, located between Binnaguri and Dalgaon (Birpara) stations.
The makna’s body was lifted by a crane from the spot and taken to Khuttimari forest —around 10km away — where the post-mortem and the cremation took place.
“The autopsy showed that the elephant had suffered a severe injury on the femur with the spinal cord being divided into pieces. Further, both spleen and intestine had burst under the impact of the accident,” said Kalyan Das, the divisional forest officer (Jalpaiguri division).
The train hits have set off a blame game between the foresters and the railways.
“Although drivers of both the goods wagon and Mahananda Express saw the elephants, they could not stop the trains running at high speed,” said a forest officer. “Unless the speed is regulated, there will be recurrence of train-animal collisions.”
S. Singh, the divisional railway manager of the Alipurduar division of Northeast Frontier Railway, denied the charges. “Trains run at lower speed after darkness. Yesterday also, both the trains were moving at less than 50kmph,” he said.
“In the case of the accident near Birpara, the elephant panicked when it saw the train and stepped on the tracks. The driver, despite his best attempts, could not stop the train. It was a passenger train and foresters know its schedule.”
Raj Basu, a member of the state board for wildlife, has singled out the forest department in his criticism. In a letter to principal chief conservator of forests Atanu Raha, Basu said: “These people (forest officers) have spent government money to observe wildlife week, but have pathetically failed to protect animals. As a member of the board, I demand their immediate resignation.”
National Press Day observed
KalimNews, GANGTOK, November 16: State IPR minister CB Karki today assured the media fraternity of Sikkim that the State government is serious towards their pending demands.
“There are demands lying with the State government from the media fraternity of Sikkim. I assure the media fraternity that the State government is serious towards their demands”, said the minister during the National Press Day celebrations here at Nepali Sahitya Parishad Bhavan, Development Area today.
The programme was organized by Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) and sponsored by the State IPR department.
Regarding the announcement of the Chief Minister to present Rs. 5 lakhs to the Journalist Welfare Fund of the PCS last year, Karki said that the amount could not be given till date due to some delay. However, the department has been directed to implement the Chief Minister’s announcement expeditiously, he said.
Highlighting the rapid development of media in Sikkim during the 17 years of the Sikkim Democratic Front government, the minister said that the government is proposing to set up a media study centre in Sikkim from the Rs. 50 lakhs amount allocated in the budget for media development. “We want to set up the media centre so the local educated youths can learn about journalism and we are talking with the PCS for this. I appeal the PCS take swift initiatives in this regard”, he said.
PCS chief advisor CD Rai, who chaired today’s function, supported the demand from the media fraternity that the government advertisement bills should be cleared by the State government as early as possible. The government should clear the advertisement bills of the media as soon as possible, he said.
Earlier, PCS general secretary Bhim Rawat, while presenting the welcome address, highlighted the pending demands of the Sikkimese media with the State government. The Chief Minister himself had given assurances three years ago that all such demands would be fulfilled but till date, it has not materialized, he said.
Rawat said that the main demand of the media was enhancement of advertisement rates by the State government.
Sikkim Now! editor Pema Wangchuk presented a well appreciated talk on ‘Media and Corporate World-Challenges and Opportunities’, the theme given for this year’s National Press Day celebrations by the Press Council of India.
Journalists Club of Sikkim general secretary Ratan Gurung, Sikkim Mahila Patrakar Sangh president Radha Pradhan and Sikkim Weekly Editors Forum president Dhiraj Bantawa also spoke on the occasion.
The State government also presented positive journalist grants to five media persons of Sikkim-Parasmani Dangal, Narayan Joshi, Deep Pradhan, Indira Chetri and Rajen Chettri. They received Rs. 10,000 and a certificate each from the chief guest.
Dangal, who is also the PCS president, announced to donate his positive journalist grant to the Journalist Welfare Fund of the PCS.
Army flags down team to Sanglaphu - Peak changed midway in expedition

TT, Gangtok, Nov. 16: A 21-member team on an expedition to Mt Sanglaphu in North Sikkim returned to Gangtok disappointed after being pushed back by the Indian army posted on China border for “absence of permission” from the military.
However, the climbers from the North East Adventure Foundation (NEAF) found a substitute challenge and scaled Lama Wangden peak (5,868m) in North Sikkim on November 7 and 8.
The team had set out on the expedition to acclimatise themselves to high altitude conditions as part of an exercise before their planned trip to Mt Everest.
“On our way up to Mt Sanglaphu (21,000ft), we established the base camp at 17000ft on October 28. We had taken permission from the state government for the expedition and reached the base camp after going through formalities at all check posts along the way,” said Everester Kunzang Bhutia, who led the team.
However, the mountaineers were told to leave the base camp by the army on October 31.
In its letter to the climbers, the army acknowledged that they had permission from the civil authorities concerned for the expedition.
“However, no sanction has been sought from the army. Whenever such expeditions had taken place in the past, they had been duly approved by the military authorities, which is not the case this time,” the army said in its order.
However, the climbers quickly regained their enthusiasm and got nod from the government for an expedition to Lama Wangden peak. “We lost a lot of time, money and resources because of the unexpected exit from the base camp of Mt Sanglaphu. We are thankful to the government for giving us permission swiftly to scale Mt Lama Wangden,” said Kunzang, who is from Sikkim.
The team set up base camp at Lachen and raced to the summit camp at 16,200ft on November 5. Two groups consisting of nine members each reached the summit on November 7 and 8. Two persons did not climb the mountain because of fatigue and health problems. .
Despite the Sanglaphu misadventure, the mountaineers said, the scaling of Lama Wangden had prepared them for the Everest expedition.
The climbers believe a communication gap between the government and the army had led to their eviction from the base camp of Sanglaphu.
“We are hugely disappointed that we could not make it to Mt Sanglaphu. We are all Indians. While the government gave us permission to undertake the expedition, another wing of the government pushed us back. We suffered a lot because of communication gap and such things should not happen in future,” said Henry David, another climber.
He was speaking at a flag-in programme at the residence of Sikkim animal husbandry minister Dawchoo Lepcha in Gangtok.
The minister asked Kunzang to submit a report on the incident to the state home and tourism departments. “We will look into the matter and ensure that such problems do not arise in future,” said Lepcha.
Apart from Kunzang, the team consisted of two other Sikkimese mountaineers. They were Sagar Rai and Tshering Eden Bhutia.
The NAEF, based in Guwahati, will organise its first expedition to Mt Everest in March. “Although mountaineers from the Northeast have climbed Everest before, they were part of other expeditions,” said David.
According to Kunzang, selection of team members for the Everest expedition will be done by an NEAF committee in the first week of December. “The team will have 14 or 16 members,” he said.
David said the NAEF would approach the DoNER ministry, all Northeastern states and corporate houses for funds for the Everest climb.
Indians urge Trade upgrade
IANS, Nathu La (Sikkim), 16 NOV: Indian traders have urged the government to review the list of items tradable with China to boost business through the fabled Silk Route.
"The present list of import-export should be amended and widened to meet the need of the present age. The list of goods notified for transaction was list prepared decades ago and has to be upgraded if we are to increase the volume of trade between the two nations," T. Bhutia, a trader in Sikkim, told IANS. India and China in 2006 reopened trade across the 15,000-ft Nathu La Pass, 52 km east of Sikkim's capital Gangtok, as part of a broader rapprochement. The move marked the first direct trade link between the neighbours since a bitter border war in 1962.
PIC in Sikkim
KalimNews, GANGTOK, November 16: Press Information Bureau (PIB) principal director general Neelam Kapur today expressed her satisfaction over the response from the local people to the Public Information Campaign (PIC) at Kabi in North Sikkim.
“The response was excellent. We had a gathering of around 800 people and I personally interacted with the people and the panchayats”, said Mrs Kapur who attended the first day of the PIC at Kabi organized by the PIB.
Speaking in a press conference here in Gangtok, the PIB director general also added that there is no confusion among the people launched by the Centre in Sikkim. “There is no confusion on the programmes launched by the Centre. The State is the implementing agency. There are roles for both Centre and State government. The programmes here are moving smoothly, I feel”, she said.
Mrs Kapur said that the PIB would be happy to host an Editor’s Conference at Gangtok as the PIB has expanding the venues for such programmes in the country where Union Ministers are invited to brief the media about the various developmental works of the Centre. We will be happy to host an Editor’s Conference here in Gangtok, she said.
She explained that the PIB is organizing 150 PICs in the country. We hope to increase the number in coming years so that we reach each district, she said.
Explaining the rationale behind PICs, the PIB director general informed that the PICs were initiated by the Centre as it felt that information regarding its developmental and welfare programmes were not reaching the people through traditional media. So the PICs were initiated where information flagship programmes of the Centre under Bharat Nirmaan were directly presented to the people and feedback received from them, she said.
Regarding the impasse over the inauguration of Gangtok Doordarshan Kendra, the PIB director general assured to convey the information to the Union Information & Broadcasting minister on the issue.
The press conference was also attended by State Information & Public Relations minister CB Karki, secretary MG Kiran and Gangtok PIB in-charge J Namchu.
Gorkha Gaurav
Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh of Sikkim is honouring Dr. Mahendra P. Lama, Vice Chancellor of Sikkim University and Ugen Chhopel as Gorkha Gaurav on the occasion of Gorkha Gaurav Diwas on 25th November in Ranipul.
Snowfall in Tshongu
KalimNeews, PK, GAngtok: A cold wave swept Sikkim from Friday as the mercury dipped to 11.0 degrees Celsius of Gangtok during the daytime today with reports of Heavy snowfall in the Indo-China Border Nathula (14300 Feet), Sheratheng Trade Mart (13,600 feet), Kupup ((13,500Feet)) and Tsomgo Lake  ((12400 feet))area. according to met office information. The maximum temperature of the State capital, Gangtok, was recorded at 11.0 degrees Celsius while the minimum was 6.0 in the last 24 hours. Snowfall started form Friday afternoon till today. As infromed by local sources 6 to 7 inches snow fall in this  area was recorded,  informed  meteorologist Dr. Sitaram, Gangtok Meteorological Department. Today's temperature  of Gangtok was 11 degree Celsius Minimum and maximum 16 Degree Celsius.
In picture  Tsomgo lake under snow cover and sherathang trade mart in 13,600 feets at near Nathula pass (PK). 
Sikkim' to be shown at film fest again
TNN, KOLKATA: Four days after being withdrawn following a court order, Satyajit Ray's controversial documentary film Sikkim' was cleared for screening on Tuesday.
The film will be shown at Nandan at 6.30pm on Wednesday, the last day of the festival, much to the delight of film buffs who had been waiting to see it but were left disappointed after the Art & Culture Trust of Sikkim moved court to stop the screening last Friday. The trust had claimed that they hold rights to the film and that the festival authorities had not sought their permission for showing it. The film festival committee had initially announced that it was going to contest the order in court but later decided on an out-of-court settlement.
Banned by the Indian government in 1975, the documentary had been lying canned ever since. The ban was revoked in September this year. "We are happy to declare that the Art & Culture Trust of Sikkim has responded positively to our request and given us permission to screen the film once on Wednesday. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has appreciated their gesture. Even though the trust did not ask for money, the festival committee has paid `20,000 to them for screening permission," said Nilanjan Chattopadhyay, director of the festival committee.
The trust expressed satisfaction at the settlement. "We have given them permission to screen the film keeping the sentiments of Kolkata film-lovers in mind. Also, they have adhered to all our terms and conditions for showing the film," said an official of the trust. The amicable settlement came as a face-saver for the festival committee.
"All's well that ends well. Let's hope the committee will make sure to avoid such embarrassments in future," said a former member of the festival committee.
Meanwhile, the penultimate day of the festival saw a lively discourse by American "independent" film-maker Jon Jost. Known for his short films which mostly have static shots and no definite storyline, Jost has shunned conventional form throughout his chequered career spanning 50 years. He often draws his inspiration from small-town America, he said. "Films need not have a conventional story or format so long as it conveys something. Nothing should necessarily move on the screen. To me it is more important to make things move in the audience's head. I make films for those who want something to challenge them while they are watching it on screen. And I urge my audience not to press hard for a meaning behind every single frame. You will get clued in if you keep watching," Jost explained.
Winner of numerous awards, the 67-year-old director has made 20 short and 14 feature-length films. Since 1996, he has been making films only on digital video. The maverick director works without a script or a storyline. "My films evolve while I am shooting. So, I begin with an open mind and have no idea how it's going to shape up. Technology has made it possible to make films on a shoestring budget. So, there is definitely a bright future for my genre of film-making," said Jost

Pragya Shri/Sushri ramp
TT:A model at a fashion show in Darjeeling on Tuesday. The three-day event, Pragya Shri/Sushri Pahari Pratik, that began on Monday has “tradition” as its theme. The Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha, which organised the show to mark its foundation day on November 15, has tied up with the Academy of Broadcasting and the St Michael’s Youth Centre for the event. Picture by Suman Tamang

1 injured in bison attack
TT, Alipurduar, Nov. 16: A villager was gored by a bison at Mandal Para near Salkumarhat this morning.
Budhiram Oraon was working in a field near his house when the animal attacked him. Villagers chased the bison to the nearby Jaldapara forest from where it had come. Budhiram was admitted to the Falakata Rural Hospital. He was later shifted to MJN hospital in Cooch Behar. Sukhranjan Sarkar, the doctor at the rural hospital, said: “He suffered injuries on the chest and left leg.” Omprakash, the divisional forest officer of wildlife III, said the department would bear the cost for the treatment of the villager.

Shops robbed
TT, Siliguri: Four shops were burgled in Bidhannagar area on Monday night. Police said the robbers entered the shops after breaking the locks of their main entrance and fled with the valuables worth around Rs 3 lakh. Shibes Bhowmik, one of the traders in the area, alleged that lack of proper police patrolling was the reason for such incidents. The traders also threatened a movement if the robbers were not arrested immediately.

Poush Mela
TT, Siliguri: The Uttar Banga Poush Mela Organising Committee will hold Poush Mela at Baghajatin Park here from December 24 to January 3. Exhibitions on different cultures of north Bengal will be held during the fair that will begin at 3pm everyday.

Carron meet
TT, Jaigaon: A meeting between the management and the workers’ union of Carron Tea Estate held at the Malbazar SDO’s office on Tuesday ended without any agreement. The garden in Nagrakata block of Jalpaiguri district has been shut since October 2. N. Biswas, the subdivisional officer of Malbazar, said the management had agreed to pay bonus to the workers in three installments. But the workers have refused to accept it. The authorities will talk to the SDO on Thursday and a meeting will be held after that to discuss the re-opening of the garden.

Drum to keep away big cats - Leopard scare in Kalchini

TT, Alipurduar, Nov. 16: Residents of Kalchini Tea Estate today woke up to the sound ofdhak as it reverberated across the garden but the drumbeats were not part of any festival. Rather, they were meant to keep away leopards as the workers plucked leaves.
Yesterday, a worker was mauled by a leopard in Section 8 of the garden, 35km from Alipurduar town. Sonia Munda was admitted to the Alipurduar subdivisional hospital with injuries on the back, chest and hand.
Early this morning, Shib Munda, who serves water to the pluckers, spotted two leopards in the same section.
More than 300 panic-stricken workers who were to pluck in Section 95, adjacent to Section 8, refused to work fearing leopard attacks.
The leader of the group, Gokul Chhetry, then asked Nital Rabi Das to play thedhak to scare the wild animals away.
Later in the day, a squeezing cage was set up in the area by foresters of the Buxa Tiger Reserve (west division) to trap big cats.
Das has been working in the garden for almost 15 years. The 37-year-old man walked around the estate throughout the morning playing the dhak. Crackers were also burst to scare away the animals.
Plucking was delayed for an hour at the garden.
“We refused to go to work today. Then Das came and played the dhak for around three hours. Crackers were also burst. Only after that, we started plucking,” said Sairabanu Ansari, a worker.
She added that children who carry lunch to their parents working in the garden, are not venturing out fearing animal attacks. “Leopards have become a terror in the garden. Our children would get lunch for us but now we have told them not to come. We are now working all day without food. We have lunch only after 4pm after the day’s work.”
The pluckers also performed a puja after the trap was set up. “We are performing the puja so that leopards do not harm anybody. This morning the manager gave us crackers to scare away animals that may be roaming in the area. They have also said Rabi Das will be given a full day’s wage for playing the dhak. The garden has reopened after 5 years but the leopard menace is hampering work,” Chhetry said.
Music fest to help footballers

TT, Siliguri, Nov. 16: Comedian Raju Srivastava and actress Rakhi Sawant will attend a musical programme to be organised here on December 4 to raise funds for budding footballers from underprivileged families.
Players who contributed to different games in the past will be felicitated at the fest in which Bollywood singers Shan and Shreya Ghoshal will participate.
“Popular singers Shan and Shreya Ghoshal have already agreed to perform here. Comedian Raju Srivastava and actress Rakhi Sawant will also attend the programme,” said Pijushkanti Ghosh, the president of Vivekananda Club, the organiser of the event.
The club regularly participates in football and cricket matches conducted by Siliguri Mahakuma Krira Parishad and has won several titles.
Niloy Chakraborty, the general secretary of the club, said the event would be held at Kanchenjungha Stadium and tickets would be sold from 24 centres across Siliguri.
“The money raised through the programme will be used to sponsor five budding footballers from financially backward families in and around Siliguri. We will offer them proper coaching and take care of their education for 10 years,” said Chakraborty.
“A panel of experts will hold a trial to select the players. We might later consider increasing the number of children for the sponsorship,” he said.
The club will also honour yesteryear’s players, who will be chosen by eminent personalities from sports and media.
“We have come to know that a lot of people, who contributed their best in the field of sports, are presently living in dire straits. We would like to express our solidarity with such players and offer them some financial help,” said Chakraborty. “They, too, will be selected by a panel.”
Poll tool to regulate hotel tariff - Elected body of hoteliers to put leash on arbitrary rates Realtor to invest Rs 100cr
TT, Gangtok, Nov. 16: The Sikkim Hotels and Restaurants Association has decided to elect a new committee on November 23 to regulate the “arbitrary” tariff charged by the hotels here.
Set up in 1985, the SHRA currently has 270 members. It had been lying idle for nearly five years and an ad hoc committee has been constituted five months ago.
According to the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim, an apex body of tour operators, around 6 lakh tourists have visited Sikkim this year which account for more than 600 medium and large hotels in Gangtok.
“The SHRA was lying idle for nearly five years. We wanted to revive it. Over the past five months (when the ad-hoc body was formed), we have reached out to the other districts and increased our members. Now, we have prepared a list of priorities for the SHRA which will be taken up by the new executive committee,” said SHRA acting president Bhanu Pratap Rasaily.
One of the priorities listed by the SHRA is the regulation of hotel tariffs, which is arbitrary and which fluctuates during the peak season.
“We are aware that some hotels change their tariffs without any notice during the tourist season even though the tour operators and visitors have done their bookings at earlier rates. This practice tarnishes the image of the tourism industry of Sikkim. We are sensitising our members and after the election, the executive body will work closely with the tourism department to regulate hotel tariffs. We will set up units in each district to ease out the problems faced by tourists,” said SHRA general secretary Vivek Pradhan.
Members of the ad hoc body will contest the November 23 elections in their efforts to revive the SHRA as a powerful organisation in the state. “Otherwise, the hotel industry worth more than Rs 5,000 crore will be in danger,” said Rasaily.
The SHRA admitted that hotel tariffs were not properly regulated, though the state tourism department does have a set of guidelines for the hotel sector in Sikkim.
“We will include the management of those hotels that are given on lease to outsiders in our body and work with them to cut down arbitrary change of tariffs,” said Rasaily.
Another thrust area where the SHRA will be involved is the development of village tourism. “We will adopt selected villages in the state. We have already adopted Darap village in West Sikkim and will start working there after the election,” said Rasaily.
Under the village tourism programme, 10 hotels affiliated to the SHRA will adopt a village and convince the tourists to visit the place for at least a night. “Suppose a tourist has a five-day itinerary in Gangtok, we will send him for at least one day halt to the particular village we have adopted,” said Pradhan. The SHRA will also help the villagers build their capacity and train them to provide good service to the tourists.
The SHRA has decided to encourage more local youths to take up hotel business in Sikkim. “The state government wants to discourage the practice of hotels being leased out to outsiders and we support this move. We want local people to run the hotels and we will provide our support and share our experience with the youths,” said Rasaily.
Since the formation of the ad hoc body, the SHRA has gained prominence. It is often consulted by the state tourism department on tourism related issues.
Gorumara turns away tourists - Commercial licence brake on forest safaris
TT, Jalpaiguri, Nov. 16: Uncertainty looms over the entry of visitors to Gorumara National Park and the tourism industry with police cracking down on safari vehicles plying without commercial number plates.
Since yesterday afternoon, visitors cannot enter the park, famed for its one-horned rhinos and herds of bison, as the police banned the plying of petrol-driven cars which do not have commercial number plates. The counters at the park were open but no entry tickets were issued.
Nearly 170 tourists had been at the resorts dotting the fringes of the park in Jalpaiguri district — 115km from here — till yesterday but sources said by this morning, 40 boarders had left. The resorts earn around Rs 3 lakh everyday during the peak season.
The forest department had banned diesel cars inside the park on June 15 this year. Petrol-run vehicles were introduced from September 16 when the park reopened after monsoon. Since then, the cars have been using licences meant for private vehicles.
Sources in the transport department said most safari car owners bought their vehicles from Sikkim.
“They have to pay Rs 17,000 for conversion to Bengal number plates. For commercial licence, they have to pay Rs 17,000-Rs 22,000 more, to ply their vehicles for five years,” a source said. He added that a vehicle owner also had to pay Rs 4,000 as road tax every year besides Rs 100 per week for route permit renewal. “Around Rs 1,800 also has to be paid to register with the regional transport office in Jalpaiguri. An NOC from the forest department that it has no problems if the vehicles plied on its land has to be submitted too.”
According to the source, besides money, the hassle of going through all the procedures prevented most car owners from switching to commercial licences.
The private resort owners in Lataguri — the gateway to Gorumara and its surrounding forests — are now worried that the licence fiasco may force tourists to cut short their Dooars trip and head for destinations like Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan.
Mitu Sarkar from Behala in Calcutta was part of a 10-member group that reached the park just before 9am today. “We had heard that there was some problem yesterday but we did not know that we would not get the cars. We have decided to cancel our booking that was till tomorrow and go back to Siliguri,” he said.
Subir Mondol from Golf Green, also in Calcutta, said he and his group were supposed to spend two more days in north Bengal. “We had bookings in a Lataguri resort till day after tomorrow. Since we have found out that we cannot enter the forest, we will return to Siliguri and then decide what to do till we catch the train back on Thursday evening,” he said.
The ticket counters at the four entry points to Gorumara — Chulsa, Murti, Lataguri and Ramsai— were open but no tickets were issued.
“Tourists come here solely to see the park and climb the watchtowers for a glimpse of wild animals. But you cannot enter the park without a car. If the ban on vehicles continues, we will face problems. From November 22 till December 28 we have full bookings. Those will be cancelled,” said Kamal Bhowmick, the secretary of the Lataguri Resort Owners’ Association.
Explaining the tourism economy in Lataguri, Bhowmick said the 30 resorts accommodated 275 tourists at a time during the peak season. “We had about 170 tourists till today. But a number of them left when they found out they would not be able to enter the park for sometime,” Bhowmick said. “These resorts earn around Rs 3 lakh daily in the peak season.”
But members of the Lataguri Light Commercial Vehicle Owners’ Association are willing to convert their private vehicles into commercial ones. “We will tell our members tonight to convert their licences as fast as they can in the interest of the tourism industry here. We hope that the administration, particularly the motor vehicles department, will help us secure the licences at the earliest,” said Bapi Chanda, the secretary of the association.
Asked why the switchover had not taken place yet, Chanda said: “We had been told by the forest department, which helped us buy the vehicles, that it would help us procure the commercial licences.”
The owners of the two vehicles that were seized by the police yesterday afternoon for plying with private licences had to pay a hefty fine in court to secure the release of their cars, Chanda said.
The conservator of forests, northern circle (Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar), V.K. Sood, today said he had instructed the district administration to see that the licence problem was solved on a priority basis. He was visiting the nature interpretation centre in Lataguri.
The police had also arrested two forest guides from Lataguri yesterday for wearing army fatigues. “We had given these uniforms to the forest guards and the guides two years ago. If there is any legal problem we will rectify it. As far as the vehicles are concerned we are equally affected as we are losing revenue. We are trying to make things move as quickly as possible,” Sood said.
Round the Bush
Sumanta Sen, SNS: Nepal has no king. Nepal has no prime minister, no government, no constitution. All that Nepal has is a number of political parties, none of which commands majority support and hence cannot form a government on its own. Nor can they form a viable coalition because of the basic differences they have with one another. And Nepal has a huge population, which, only the other day, had overthrown the old order, hoping that a new future will follow. That has not happened, and nobody can say with any degree of certainty that a sizeable section of the same population will not shake their heads and say, “Let’s go back to royalty. Our problems will not be solved but at least we will have somebody to blame for our sufferings. ”
It is a situation not ideal for Nepal but very much so for two countries — China and Pakistan. Both countries had always been anxious at Nepal being, for geographic and historic reasons, tied to India more firmly than they would have liked. Now, in this situation of flux, both have the opportunity of unitedly egging on the anti-India forces that have always been active in the former Himalayan kingdom. This will not help bring any solution in Kathmandu, but New Delhi will have to suffer the continuous discomfort of having a restless and increasingly hostile neighbour.
The Maoists, with the largest number of elected representatives, have never had any love lost for India, which they see as an imperialist force. The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) does not go to that extent but also feels that Nepal has always had a raw deal from India. And then there are the groups of intellectuals who are once again demanding that the boundaries with India be re-drawn.
Second revolution
The specious argument is that since the Treaty of Sugauli no longer exists — the Indo-Nepal agreement of 1950 made all past treaties with the colonialists redundant — there should be a new look at the boundaries. Such an attitude can spell danger, especially since the forces in Nepal that cannot join hands to form a government are having no problems in coming together for India-baiting. This may well be the plank on which the Maoists and the CPN(UML) choose to unite, a process that will be aided if Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, agrees to make himself scarce. The other parties, of course, will not like this, but they are in no position to provide an alternative. As for New Delhi, with its limited options, it will perhaps be happier to see a government rather than no government, which encourages irresponsibility.
It is difficult to imagine that any such arrangement will last for long. The Maoists have their own agenda, which they cannot be expected to shelve for too long. Actually, the trouble lies squarely with them — they cannot be fitted into a scheme that they are dead against. They themselves know their problem, but how can they change themselves and their ideology? Right now, they are also trying to find a way out of the impasse but that will have to be, as far as possible, on their own terms. The CPN(UML) may agree upto a point, but what about the central demand that Maoist cadres be inducted into the army? Prachanda is unlikely to budge from this position unless his friends in Beijing tell him to do so.
Unlike the political parties and their leaders, the man on the street is eager for a solution to the current troubles in Nepal, since all government functioning has come to a stop. As the political class goes round and round the bush, may he not in exasperation want to break out and give Kathmandu its ‘second revolution’ to restore monarchy? That possibility cannot perhaps be entirely ruled out. Particularly since he is not without friends in high places.

1 comment:

  1. Prasanta Mallik
    SHARE CUP - the Unique Soccer Fest for villages under constituency no 24 (Klm Block I) . The SHARE CUP first began in 2005, then it covered only two Gram Panchayet Areas of Pabringtar and Nimbong . This Football Tournament began with the sole aim to promote budding Talents from far flung Areas under Kalimpong Subdivision. Infact this tournament is the only tournament to unite and bring together people all places . This year over 70 teams from 9 Gram Panchayet Areas are expected to participate .

    The Tournament will be staged at SIX different venues - Sinjee , Samthar , Kaffer , Nimbong , Borbat and CHUIKHIM . The Final round ( from Qtr.Final) of the tournament will be held at CHUIKHIM , the Alcohol Free Village , from 16th Nov. to 21st Nov.

    Every year after the conduction of the tournament Best Players are selected by the Special panel of selectors consisting of Expert Football Personalities . Last year we were able to send 4 selected players to Kolkata Maidan Super Divn. Club . Out of 4 players 2 are playing successfully in Kolkata Super Divn level .

    Former Indian Stars like Debjit Ghosh (ex - captain , INDIA ) , Basudev Mandol ( ex- captain , India ) , Dulal Biswas ( National Player ) , Kalyan Choubey ( National Player) , Arun Sengupta ( Sports Editor , Daily News Paper ) will act as selectors through out the Final Round of the Tournament till Final on 21st Nov .

    Kindly support this noble cause to promote the Hidden Talents of Himalayan Villages this Community Based Soccer Fest is being Organised .

    Thank You ,

    Prasanta Mallik
    S H A R E Coordinator .