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Monday, June 20, 2011

Darjeeling agreement likely in a week: Pillai..... Hills dark & dank since Friday Sikkim road link cut off again.... Song and signs soften Anurag - Crew to leave from today but Basu keeps comeback option open .... Landslide in Kurseong .... Kurseong goes without power....Bhaichung picks up plot for soccer school

Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay, IE, Kolkata, 19 June: The Centre, the state government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will sign the agreement to set up the Darjeeling Gorkha Interim Council by the end of this month, Union Home
Secretary G. K. Pillai said on Sunday.
“The chief minister is coming to Delhi on Monday and this issue will crop up in her meetings. The state government is sending the draft agreement to us by Tuesday evening and after all the studies, I hope the act is going to be signed in a week’s time,’’ Pillai told The Indian Express.
According to the Union Home Secretary, neither Union Home Minister P Chidambaram nor he himself will go to Darjeeling to sign the agreement. Instead, an additional secretary of the Ministry Home Affairs will represent the Union government. The state government delegation is most likely to be headed by Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh.
State Land Reforms Commissioner R D Meena, who chairs the committee that will to decide how many tea gardens out of 103 demanded by GJM could be included in the new council, is currently in Darjeeling. On Tuesday, he will file his report to the state government.
According to state government official, while the former Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) had 27 departments, the interim council will be much more powerful with 57 departments.
“Except for a handful of departments like home, excise, motor vehicles and elections, the remaining will go to the council. It will also have the power to frame rules on Acts passed by the State Assembly,’’ the official said.
On the GJM’s demands for the inclusion of Nepali-speaking areas of Terai and Dooars in the council, Pillai said a committee will look into the issue. The GJM has demanded 235 such villages from the Dooars area and 195 villages in Siliguri-Terai area. The state government is yet to name the chairman of the committee.
As soon as the agreement is signed, a Bill to pass the Act will be moved in the current session of the Assembly and after it gets the President’s nod, the state government will start the process of elections to the council.
“From next month, it will take about six months to get the new council formed. Till then, the old DGHC will be run by an administrative board headed by Anil Verma, IAS, and comprising four other members — three GJM MLAs and the district magistrate of Darjeeling,’’ the official further said.
“The details of the tripartite agreement are being worked out. This much I can tell you,’’ Roshan Giri, GJM general secretary, told The Indian Express from Darjeeling.
Hills dark & dank since Friday Sikkim road link cut off again.
TT, Darjeeling, June 19: Large parts of the Darjeeling hills have been without power since Friday’s rain which has been followed by heavier spells in the next two days, hampering the repair of power lines snapped because of strong winds and uprooted trees.
Kurseong has been in darkness for the past three days except for a one-hour relief today, while most parts of Darjeeling were without electricity for more than 15 hours.
A landslide at Birik on NH31A around 8.30pm today cut off Sikkim’s only road link once more. The road had shut down on Friday night after boulders came tumbling down at the same spot, 40km from Rangpo in Kalimpong subdivision. It had reopened around noon yesterday.
Dipen Khawash, assistant engineer of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited that supplies power to the Darjeeling hills, said: “There have been power breakdowns at more than 20 points across the Kurseong subdivision. The breakdowns have occurred mostly on the outskirts of Kurseong town.
“The electricity department has formed teams that are fanning across the hills to carry on repair. Huge trees have fallen on power lines in Sepoydhura and Makaibari,” said Khawash.
He said though the Kurseong teams had been working till 9pm, repair was being hampered because of incessant rain. “Restoration work would largely depend on the weather. There are problems on seven points in the main line (33KV),” said Khawash. Electricity
In Darjeeling, strong winds along with torrential rain yesterday evening disrupted life. Officials of the electricity department in Darjeeling said there had been disruptions in many areas of the Happy Valley tea estate and Patlabas. A huge tree also fell on an electricity line near the Darjeeling Motor Stand area in the heart of the town. Employees were trying to saw the tree throughout the day.
Electricity department sources said power was restored in the upper parts of Darjeeling town around 3pm. In the next three hours power came back in other parts of the town, including Chowrasta and Chowk Bajaar, in a phased manner.
In Kalimpong town, power was disrupted from around 10.30am this morning. Despite the rains no major landslides were reported from across the hills. “There have been a number of small landslips in various places but no casualties have been reported till now,” said a district official.
Traffic was less than normal and most people including the few tourists who are still here preferred to stay indoors. “We were supposed to go sightseeing but we decided to remain indoors because of the weather,” said Anup Ghosh, a tourist from Bankura.
Sources at the regional meteorological station in Jalpaiguri said Darjeeling had received 101.5mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours.
However, more rain has been predicted for the region in the next 24 hours. Indranil Sengupta, assistant meteorologist at the Jalpaiguri station, said they were expecting 26mm to 36mm of rain in the Teesta catchment area that includes the Darjeeling hills. “There is a depression over Dhanbad in Jharkhand which is causing the rainfall and the strong winds that have been blowing across the region,” Sengupta said.
KalimNews: An early morning reported road blockade at Birrik Danra near Reang in NH31A due to landslide.
Song and signs soften Anurag - Crew to leave from today but Basu keeps comeback option open

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 19: The Barfee crew will start leaving the hills days ahead of schedule from tomorrow but the bitterness has ebbed and the possibility of a return has been kept alive following “humbling” signs of contrition and a gesture from a music band.
“I feel humbled as everyone in town is feeling sorry about the incident (Thursday’s spat at the Mall). Yesterday, I was at the Buzz (a resto-bar) and the band sang a song to say sorry. Even during the shoot, the crowd listened to us (and moved out of the frame) unlike earlier times,” director Anurag Basu said today.
Musicians from various bands playing at the Buzz inside Glenary’s had crooned a Bob Dylan for the visiting crew of Barfee after they saw Basu. “We just thought of singing Dylan’s I shall be released. We thought it would be just right for the moment,” said Lipok Jamir, the drummer of Baraka.
The lyrics of the 1967 prison song has some parallels with the unfortunate incident at the Mall, where Basu said he was misunderstood when he chided his own security team for blocking a group of students.
A stanza in the song goes: “Standing next to me in this lonely crowd/ Is a man who swears he’s not to blame.
“All day long I hear him shout so loud/Crying out that he was framed.”
Later, the musicians told Basu over the microphone how sorry they were about the events and urged him to stay on.
Basu did not rule out a return. “I have found out that we cannot shoot in some places here. Accordingly, we will make our plans (the next time),” the director said.
“I will have to compromise a lot if I don’t shoot in Darjeeling. I don’t want to show Shimla as Darjeeling.”
The film team had shot across Darjeeling town at night to steer clear of crowds. Basu, who shot from 9pm yesterday till early this morning with Ranbir Kapoor, said: “Shooting at night is dangerous. We use lots of lights and things can go wrong with the heavy rains.”
The shots for the film starring Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and southern star Ileana D’ Cruz, were taken at the Capitol Hall, along Gandhi Road and around the Mall.
They will be used as day shots in the film. “We don't get to see the landscapes at night and it is difficult to get a sense of the place,” said Basu. “We were constantly asking ourselves, ‘Is it looking like Darjeeling?’”
The team has plans to shoot along Nehru Road late tonight, attempting some daylight shots tomorrow. “Let’s see how it works out tomorrow,” said Basu.
The Barfee team also carried out “guerrilla shooting”. “We took a small unit in two cars and went about town with Ranbir in a guerrilla shooting spree, not staying for more than 20 minutes in any location,” said Basu.
The director, however, seemed satisfied with what he had filmed so far. “I am satisfied with the shots I have got so far. But I have only got two or three shots of Darjeeling in day light and since they could not be completed, I don’t think they can be used in the film,” he said.
Basu had cut short his shooting in Darjeeling on Thursday because of unmanageable crowds and a war of words between his crew and some spectators at the Chowrasta. Following the incident, Basu had said the next day that he would not shoot in Darjeeling and had advanced his Tindharia schedule so that he could leave the hills early.
“Since we could not get the tickets for all the crew members, the team will leave in batches from tomorrow,” said Basu who is expected to fly out on June 22. Earlier, the team was scheduled to leave only after June 26.
Basu has completed about 50 per cent of the shoot planned in Darjeeling. Ranbir will either leave tomorrow or the day after, depending on the shooting that has been scheduled for tonight and early tomorrow morning.
Barfee crew to leave hills from today
SNS, DARJEELING, 19 JUNE: Bollywood director Anurag Basu today completed the first phase shoot of his upcoming movie Barfee in the Darjeeling Hills. The crew members were scheduled to leave the hills today, but they will leave the hills in batches from tomorrow onwards, Basu confirmed.
The director has decided to leave the hills earlier than scheduled due to the turn of events that led to a spat of words between Basu and onlookers who had gathered at Chowrasta to witness the shooting of the film on 16 June.
Asked whether the incident had prompted the director to cut short the shooting scenes in the hills, which was considered a major boost for the Hills given the fact that two major stars of Bollywood ~ Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra ~ were part of the film, Basu said: “It is partially because of the incident that we have decided to move out of the hills starting from tomorrow. The weather condition here right now is also not favourable for shooting.”
With the onset of the moonsoon and heavy torrential rainfall in different parts of Darjeeling, the movie crew are facing difficulties. The production team, however, has not been facing any problems in the past two days of the shoot. “The shooting was excelled in the past two days. The crowd is at least listening to us when we ask them to move a little further. Earlier they used to get stuck giving the opinion that it was their birthright to be there,” said Basu. The director, however, seems to have had a change in mind after the incident. While an angry Basu had maintained that they would be cutting short their shooting in Darjeeling, the director today gave enough indications that the team might come back after the monsoon. “I do not want to go and shoot in Shimla and show it as Darjeeling in the film. The people too are very apologetic wherever I go in town and I am feeling humbled. In fact, a band at Buzz also played a song for us yesterday to say that there were sorry for the incident,” said Basu.
The director expressed satisfaction with the shooting in Darjeeling for the past two days. “We also shoot with Ranbir Kapoor in various places early in the morning taking only about 20 minutes to complete the shots,” he said, adding “Most of the shooting is taking place in the night but there are problems as it is difficult to show the landscapes at night.” Basu also maintained that they would not use the Chowrasta scene in the film as they had not completed the shoot on the fateful day.
The Barfee team was earlier scheduled to leave Darjeeling after 26 June but the team will start leaving from tomorrow with Ranbir scheduled to leave either tomorrow or day after, said Basu.
Landslide in Kurseong
SNS, KURSEONG 19 JUNE: Due to last night’s incessant rainfall, fresh landslides were reported from St Mary's Hills in Kurseong sub-division in Darjeeling Hills today. The landslide has affected and damaged several houses in the same area where four persons had been killed on 17 June, following a devastating landslide. The people of the region started to shift to safer places.
Residents of the area alleged that a building just above the landslide zone is the reason behind the landslides. Mr Mahesh Chettri, a resident of the area, alleged that the drainage system of the building is such that its sewage pipes have been laid underground, resulting in water mushing the soil and landslips appearing everywhere near the area that killed four last time and damaged houses today.
The Kurseong SDO, Mr Suden Tshering Bhutia, said that at present, preliminary relief works are on. “We are distributing tarpaulins and other aids to the affected family members through panchayat and municipality officials,” said the SDO.
“Keeping in mind the monsoon ahead when more landslides will occur, we are going to hold a meeting with different departments along with the newly-elected Kurseong MLA on 22 June to discuss matters pertaining to future landslides so as to be ready to face such calamities by offering relief and rescue in time.”
The north Bengal development minister, Mr Gautam Deb, will visit the St Mary's Hills landslide-affected area. Fot the past one decade there have been frequent landslides every monsoon mainly in Kurseong.
Kurseong goes without power
TNN, Jun 20, 2011, DARJEELING: For the third consecutive day, Kurseong subdivision remained engulfed in darkness, as continuous rain accompanied by heavy winds uprooted trees and electricity poles at more then 20 places, disrupting power supply.
Employees of the electricity department in Kurseong are working overtime to restore power in the town. "We have not been able to restore the mainline yet because of continuous rainfall. However, we have formed teams to restore the smaller lines in and around the town," said Dipen Khawas, assistant engineer in the Kurseong unit of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL).
Since Friday night, Kurseong has been receiving heavy rainfall, causing landslides at various places, that led to the loss of four lives at St. Mary's Hill, around 3 km from the town. There have been landslides at various stretches of NH-55 as well. The alternative routes at Rohini and Pankhabari have also been badly affected.
Huge pine trees and electricity poles were uprooted at more then 20 places in the three days of torrential rainfall that Kurseong witnessed. "It is really scary. I have not slept for the past few days fearing the same fate as that of the four who died at St. Mary's Hill," said Pasang Sherpa, a town resident.
The power cut-off has hampered normal life in Kurseong causing inconvenience to the public. "I have not been able to charge my cell phone which has hampered communication with my clients," said Mahindra Allay, an executive in a multinational company. While, for people like Durga Prasad, not being able to watch the television is depriving him of keeping in touch with what is going in other parts of the country. "I either read the papers or watch the television to get updated with what is happening in the country. But that I have not been able to do for few days," he said.
Though the incessant rainfall did not do much damage to Darjeeling sub-division but trees uprooted at several places yesterday night have disrupted power supply for more then 16 hours. "We have been able to restore the main lines. But several lines have been damaged due to uprooted trees tearing the lines. We are trying our best to restore power supply by evening," said an employee of the power grid station at Happy Valley in Darjeeling.
Rainfall also affected vehicular movement in the Hills. Vehicles have been diverted through the Mirik route to reach Siliguri and other plains areas. NH 55 and 31A is still closed as restoration work is in progress in war-footing.

Know your Army held in Pedong
Bhaichung picks up plot for soccer school
TT, Gangtok, June 19: Bhaichung Bhutia has chosen 30 acres of land at Assam Lingzey, 45 minutes’ drive from Gangtok, for his proposed football academy to train budding soccer talents in Sikkim.
“We went to Assam Lingzey with officials from the urban development and housing department and identified the land for my football academy. The officials will now do the paper work. I have asked for 30 acres of land,” said Bhaichung.
Bhaichung had been asked by the state government to select and finalise the required land at Pakyong for the academy. “We have 600 acres in the Pakyong area and asked Bhaichung to see and select the land for his academy. We will give him the land and that will be our support to him,” chief minister Pawan Chamling had said at a media conference recently.
Assam Lingzey, 20km from here, falls under Pakyong subdivision in East Sikkim.
The player said the soccer school would be developed in a phased manner. “I will be developing the academy in a phased manner since around Rs 5-6 crore is needed to set up high quality infrastructure with two football grounds, gym and hostel. One ground will have an artificial turf. I also need to find sponsors for my academy. I will start with two training grounds and one dressing room at an initial cost of Rs 1 crore,” said Bhaichung.
He added that the academy would be developed in partnership with United Sikkim, a club of which he is a co-owner.
The Indian football captain is planning to develop the academy on the European model where talented boys in academies graduate into professional football clubs like Wayne Rooney did when he first played for Everton.
Budding talents in Sikkim and neighbouring Darjeeling hills and the Northeast will be spotted and given training at the academy for induction into professional football clubs.
“For example, Sikkim has highly talented football kids but without a school, they cannot be trained and play in national tournaments like Santosh Trophy to attract the attention of clubs. United Sikkim will give a platform to local children to hone their skills and make them play in national tournaments of different age categories,” said Bhaichung.
“The most talented players will be definitely recruited by United Sikkim or other football clubs.” He expressed his gratitude to Chamling for allocating him the land for the soccer school.
Constable body found
TT, Siliguri, June 19: The body of a woman constable of the Sashastra Seema Bal was found shot dead the Atmaram camp this evening. Police and SSB sources said the body had marks of bullet injuries.
The deceased has been identified as Ramya Aiyar, 22, a resident of Kerala. The police said a rifle was found near the body in the SSB barracks near the India-Nepal border, 40km from here.
The police said preliminary investigation suggests that the constable of the 22nd battalion was shot at the chest from the point blank range.
TT, Siliguri: Relatives of a patient, who died in a nursing home on Sevoke Road on Sunday morning, ransacked the facility alleging negligence on the part of the authorities. Subal Roy, 35, was admitted to the clinic on June 3 after he was injured in an accident. His relatives alleged that the nursing home authorities did not inform them about his deteriorating health. After Subal’s death, his relatives ransacked the reception area of the facility. The authorities, however, denied the charges and said the patient was critical and his family was informed about his deteriorating health.
Three injured
TT, Siliguri: Three persons were injured in a clash between members of the INTUC and the INTTUC at New Jalpaiguri on Sunday. Members of both the Congress and the Trinamul Congress trade unions have lodged separate complaints with the NJP police outpost. The injured persons were taken to the Siliguri district hospital and were released after first-aid.
Jumbo kills 1
TT, Jaigaon: Rupsa Oraon, 37, was trampled to death by an elephant at Hilajhora in Gorumara National Park on Sunday. The resident of Dhupjhora was going to Nagrakata on a bicycle when the animal attacked him.

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