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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hills talks may be held next week.... Landslides damage houses, 1 injured... मूल्यवृद्धिप्रति क्रामाकपाको विक्षोभः... सावन राई क्रामाकपाको निम्ति मात्र होइन गोर्खाहरूको निम्ति नै गद्दार हुन्‌-क्रामाकपा.... Truancy warning to tea unions - Absenteeism rap follows wage hike.... Hills get succour.... Bagdogra IAF meet to discuss China threat.... Lady Govt driver joins duty ....

Hills talks may be held next week
TNN , Jun 29, 2011, NEW DELHI: The Centre is likely to call a meeting with GJM and Bengal government to sort out differences on the proposed pact for creating a Gorkhaland autonomous authority. The meeting is likely to take place next week.
Officials said GJM has requested the home ministry to convene a tripartite meeting to discuss the issues concerning the proposed agreement as the outfit wanted to review certain provisions.
The home ministry is awaiting the response of the Bengal government to the GJM's request.
"Once we get the nod of the state government, the meeting will be called. Hopefully, it will take place next week," an official said.
Resolving the Gorkhaland accord with the GJM was the first task that Mamata Banerjee took up after becoming chief minister last month. She, however, was keen to have the tripartite agreement foramlly signed between the three parties - GJM, Bengal government and the Centre - in Darjeeling. This, according to the CM, would have helped by sending out a positive political message to the people of the Darjeeling hills.
While she had communicated this to the Centre, home minister P Chidambaram, it is learnt, was not agreeable with the idea. The home minister reportedly was keen that the tripartite be signed in the Capital, but to resolve the matter, there was a suggestion that the agreement be signed in Kolkata, which would mean the Gorkha leaders would come down to the state capital and the Centre's representative would also travel down for the accord.
The GJM has been insisting on inclusion of more areas in the proposed Gorkhaland Autonomous Authority (GAA) than what the existing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council has i.e. only three subdivisions in Darjeeling.
The GJM wants that other areas such as Mal, Matiali, Nagrakata, Phansidewa and Birpara in Dooars should also come under the proposed GAA.
The divesting of certain legislative powers to GAA is another contentious issue. None of the bodies such as the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council have such wide-ranging powers which are being proposed by GJM.
The proposed agreement includes holding direct elections to the proposed GAA and vesting it with certain legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers.
Sources said the Centre was not going to accede to any "unconstitutional" demands even though Banerjee was in a hurry to resolve the Gorkhaland issue quickly.
Since its inception in 2007, GJM has been fighting for a separate state that includes Siliguri sub-division of Darjeeling district in the plains and contiguous areas in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district.

KalimNews: GJM is not satisfied with the draft MOU sent by state government. This draft is not in accordance to the talks we had in Kolkata with Mamta Banerjee, CM of West bengal, said Binay Tamang. For instance, the matter of  formation of a committee on the verification of Gorkha dominated areas of Dooars is excluded in the draft. We have noted it down and informed the Centre regarding it, Tamang added. In the letter sent to the center GJM has added six more demands. 
Meanwhile, all paramilitary forces deployed in the hills is withdrawn, confirmed D.P.Singh SP of Darjeeling police.
Landslides damage houses, 1 injured
SNS, KURSEONG, 29 JUNE: One person was injured and a house was damaged in a fresh landslide that occurred at Goethals Siding in the Kurseong sub-division, yesterday. Meanwhile, due to continuous rainfall, another landslide occurred at Lower Chaiteypani at 9 a.m., in which a shop and a portion of Mr Sukh Bahadur Diyali's house collapsed and at the same time, the debris further damaged a house below belonging to Mr Dhan Maya Chettri.
According to sources, incessant rainfall last night had triggered the landslide at Goethals Siding damaging the house of Mr Bishnumaya Thapa. A huge boulder from a height of 100ft came rolling down and crashed into Mr Thapa's house, injuring his sister Mrs Anu Thapa (60), who was inside the house. Four other persons were also residing in the house. Mrs Anu Thapa received injuries in her chest and thigh. She was immediately rushed to Kurseong sub-divisional hospital for medical treatment. Today, Kurseong deputy magistrate Mr Jyoti Kr Basu, officials and the GJMM leaders visited the site, and provided relief materials to the affected family members. 

Meanwhile, Mr Basu said that all the affected family members have been shifted to safer places and restoration work is on.
मूल्यवृद्धिप्रति क्रामाकपाको विक्षोभःप्रणव मुखर्जीको पुत्ला दहनः मोर्चालाई दियो धोकेवाजको संज्ञा
सावन राई क्रामाकपाको निम्ति मात्र होइन गोर्खाहरूको निम्ति नै गद्दार हुन्‌-क्रामाकपा

फोटो: मुकेश शर्मा
मनोज वोगटी, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 29 जून। क्रान्तिकारी मार्क्सवादी कम्युनिष्ट पार्टीले आजदेखि कंग्रेस सरकारले गरेको मुल्यवृद्दि, गोजमुमोले दिइरहेको धोकाबारे जनतालाई सचेत गराउन कालेबुङबाट कार्यक्रमको थलनी गर्‍यो। युपिए सरकारले जुन डिजल र ग्यासको मूल्य वृद्धि गर्‍यो त्यसको विरुद्धमा क्रामाकपाले कालेबुङमा विक्षोप प्रदर्शन गर्‍यो। सरकारमा जानेबेलामा गरीबहरूको निम्ति नीति तयार पार्ने अनि उनीहरूलाई सुविधा दिने बताएर सरकारमा आएपछि गरीबको चुल्हा चिसो पार्ने काम गरेको आरोप लगाउँदै वित्त मन्त्री प्रणव मुखर्जीको पुत्ला दहन गर्‍यो। सिमसिम झरी परिरहेको बेला पनि मुल्यवृद्धिका मूल नाइके मानेर क्रामाकपाले मुखर्जीको पुत्ला दहन गरेपछि पथसभालाई सम्बोधन गर्दै क्रामाकपा नेता मोहन पौड्यालले कंग्रेसको सरकार गरीबमारा सरकार रहेको आरोप लगाए। 
तिनले भने, कंग्रेसको सरकारले गरीबहरूको विरुद्धमा मुल्यवृद्धि गरिरहेको छ। यसको देशव्यापी विरोध भइरहेको छ। कंग्रेसको मूल्यवृद्धिले पहाड़का खटिखाने श्रमिक र गरीबीरेखामुनीका मानिसहरूलाई चपेटमा पारेको छ। यसकारण कंग्रेसको गरीबीमारा नीतिको घोर निरोध गर्न सम्पूर्ण पहाड़वासी अघि आउनुपर्छ। यसैक्रममा गक्रायुमो महासचिव अरूण घतानीले पनि मुल्यवृद्धिको निम्ति पहाड़बाट पनि वृहत आन्दोलन गर्नुपर्ने बताए। तिनले भारत सरकारलाई पहाड़वासी पनि जागरूक रहेको प्रमाणित गर्नुपर्ने बताउँदै कंग्रेसको सरकारले भ्रष्टचारीहरूलाई देशमा पश्रय दिइरहेको आरोप पनि लगाए। तिनले भने, अन्ना हजारे र बाबा रामदेवले भ्रष्टचार र कालोधनको विरूद्ध गरेको आन्दोलनलाई दबाएर कंग्रेस सरकारले भ्रष्टचारी सरकार रहेको प्रमाण दिइसकेको छ। 
यसरी नै क्रामाकपा उपाध्यक्ष जे.बी.राईले दिल्लीबाट भ्र्रष्टचारको बीजन पहाड़मा पनि लिएर आइरहेको बताए। तिनले भने, ममता व्यानर्जीले पनि त्यो भ्रष्टचारीहरूलाई पहाड़मा पश्रय दिने काम गरिरहेकी छन्‌। यसलाई रोक्न सबै अघि बढ्‌नपर्छ। क्रामाकपा महासचिव तारामणि राईले पनि भने, दागोपापमा भ्रष्टचार भएको कागजपत्र लानेहरूले कसलाई दण्ड दिलायो? बरू पहाड़का प्रशासक बी.ए.मिनाले केवल 35 प्रतिशत मात्र काम भइरहेको र व्यापक भ्रष्टचार भइरहेको छ भनेर कसलाई इङ्गित गरेका हुन्‌? दागोपापमा भइरहेको भ्रष्टचारमाथि जॉंच नभइ अर्को दागोपाप आउनु भनेको नयॉं बोतलमा पुरानो रक्सि जस्तो दल र नेताहरू, जो दागोपापको निम्ति राजनीति गरिरहेका छन्‌ उनीहरूलाई गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनको विरुद्धमा स्थापित गर्नुबाहेक अर्को केही होइन। 
केवल गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति गठित, गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति इमान्दार दल क्रामाकपाबाट निस्किएर गोर्खाल्याण्डको आवाजको घॉंटी निमोठ्‌ने दलमा जान्छ भने हाम्रो कुनै प्रतिक्रिया छैन-यसै पथसभालाई सम्बोधन गर्दै गक्रायुमो नेता अरूण घतानीले क्रामाकपा छोड़ेर गोजमुमोमा सामेल भएका सावन राईलाई इङ्गित गर्दै भने। 
तिनले अझ भने, जब गोजमुमोले पैसा र चौकी ल्याउने भयो तब राल काढ्‌दै पार्टी छोड्छ भने तिनको नियत के हो सबैले बुझ्न पर्छ। सावन राई क्रामाकपाको निम्ति एक गद्दार हुन्‌। जब कि तिनलाई थाहा छ कि क्रामाकपा पैसा र चौकीको निम्ति होइन केवल गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति अघि बढ्‌ने दल हो। जनतामा छर्लङ्ग नै छ कि गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति इमान्दार दल केवल क्रामाकपा मात्र हो। एक इमान्दार दलबाट एक गद्दार नेता अर्को पार्टीमा जान्छ भने त्यो पार्टी कस्तो पार्टी होला सबैले अनुमान गर्न सक्छन्‌। 
क्रामाकपा उपाध्यक्ष जे.बी.राईले पनि भने, सावन राईले क्रामाकपाबाट के चहान्थे, त्यो तिनको कुरा हो। क्रामाकपा त गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति कटिबद्ध पार्टी हो, पहाड़को समस्या समाधान गर्न होइन सम्पूर्ण गोर्खाहरूको चिन्हारीको सवाललाई अघि लिएर छुट्टैराज्यले मात्र सम्पूर्ण गोर्खाहरूको समस्याको समाधान हुनुपर्छ भन्ने दल हो। यहॉं तिनको इच्छा पुरा भएन होला। त्यसकारण मोर्चामा आफ्नो इच्छा पूरा गर्न गएका होलान्‌। तिनको इच्छा पुरा होस्‌ हाम्रो कामना छ। यद्दपि सावन राईको निर्णय व्यक्तिगत हुँदाहुँदै पनि नितान्तै अवसरवादी रहेको पनि तिनले जनाए। यसरी नै क्रामाकपाका नेताहरू मोर्चामाथि पनि खनिए।
गोर्खाल्याण्डको आन्दोलनलाई बिथोल्न पहिले राज्य सरकारसित मिलेर गोरामुमोको सुवास घिसिङले दागोपाप थापे अनि 20 वर्ष आन्दोलनलाई थन्काए। त्यसले पनि नपुगेपछि फेरि 2007 मा राज्य सरकारसित नै मिलेर छेटौं अनुसूचीमा सम्झौता गरे। जसको उद्देश्य थियो गोर्खाहरूलाई जातजातमा विभाजन ल्याएर आन्दोलनको शक्ति भञ्जन गर्नु। जनताले घिसिङको षड़यन्त्र र राज्य र केन्द्रको चलाकी बुझेपछि देशभरिबाट नै छैटौं अनुसूचीलाई रोक्ने काम गर्‍यो। छैटौं अनुसूचीलाई ढ्वाङमा हालियो। किन भने यसले देशभरिका गोर्खाहरूको चिन्हारीको सवाललाई पुरा गर्दैन अनि गोर्खाहरूलाई जातजातमा भक्ताएर छुट्टैराज्यको निम्ति लड्‌ने शक्तिलाई नष्ट गर्दैथियो। 
एउटा गद्दारलाई त जनताले तह लगायो तर फेरि अहिले राज्य सरकारसित नै मिलेर अर्को सम्झौता भइरहेको छ जसको उद्देश्य पनि आन्दोलनलाई धेरैपछिल्तिर धकेल्नु नै रहेको छ-क्रामाकपा उपाध्यक्ष जे.बी.राईले मोर्चाले पनि गोरामुमोले झैं सरकारसित मिलेर गोर्खाल्याण्ड चहाने जनतालाई धोका दिइरहेको जनाउँदै उक्त कुरा भने। तिनले जनतालाई मोर्चाले जनमत गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति मागेर एउटा असंवैधानिक व्यवस्थाको निम्ति प्रयोग गर्नु सम्पूर्ण गोर्खाहरूको आकांक्षामाथि छुरी हान्नु रहेको जनाए। 
अर्कोतिर अरूण धतानीले पनि भने, देशको संघिय प्रणालीभित्र गोर्खाहरूको समस्याको समाधान हुन्छ भने केवल छुट्टैराज्यले मात्र हुन्छ। तर यहॉं आन्दोलनलाई पछिल्तिर धकेलेर आफ्नो स्वार्थ पूर्ति गर्न पैसा र चौकीसित गोर्खाहरूको भविष्य साटिरहेको छ। यसरी नै क्रामाकपाका महासचिव तारामणि राईले पनि भने, वास्तवमा मोर्चाले जुन गुप्ती रिपोर्ट केन्द्रलाई पठायो, त्यो गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति थिएन। मोर्चाले क्रामाकपाले केवल विरोध गर्‍यो भन्दैछ, तर उनीहरूले नै 11 पल्टसम्मको वार्तामा गोर्खाल्याण्डको कुरा भएको बताएको हो। गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति कुरा भएको हो भने फेरि किन परिषद? यस्तै परिषद, पैसा र पावर देखाएर गोर्खाल्याण्डको आन्दोलनलाई पछिल्तिर पार्ने जुक्ति जुन राज्य र केन्द्रले गरिरहेको छ, उसैसित मिलेर जनता थाक्यो अब यो थाप्नुपर्छ, गोर्खाल्याण्ड त छँदैछ, पछि आन्दोलन गर्नुपर्छ भन्छ भने जनता र विपक्षले के बुझ्नु? यसै पनि मोर्चाले पठाएको गुप्ती रिपोर्टमा पॉंचवर्षको निम्ति बजेटको कुरा गरेर अनि सेटअपको मियाद चाहेको खण्डमा बढाउन सक्ने कुरा पनि उल्लेख गरेको छ, यसले नै मोर्चा गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति होइन पैसा र चौकीको निम्ति गठन गरिएको स्पष्ट छ। 
ममता व्यानर्जीले पहाड़को समस्या समाधान भइरहेको बारम्बार गर्दै आइरहेको सम्बन्धमा पनि तिनले भने, ममताले पहाड़को समस्या समाधान गरेको हुन सक्छ, तर हामीले पहाड़को समस्या होइन गोर्खाहरूको समस्याको समाधान हुनुपर्ने माग गरेको हो। मोर्चा र क्रामाकपामा यही भिन्नता रहेको जनाउँदै तिनले भने, मोर्चा पहाड़को समस्या समाधानको निम्ति अघि बढिरहेको छ अनि क्रामाकपा गोर्खाहरूको समस्या समाधान गर्न अघि बढिरहेको छ। तिनले सरकारको पक्षमा लागेर गोर्खाहरूको अस्तिमता र चिन्हारीको कुराको सौदाबाजी रोक्न नै क्रामाकपा अघि बढेको अनि अबका दिनहरूमा क्रामाकपाले डटेर परिषद्, मोर्चाको धोका र राज्य र केन्द्रको षड़यन्त्रको विरुद्ध अघि बढ्‌ने पनि तिनले जनाएका छन्‌।
Truancy warning to tea unions - Absenteeism rap follows wage hike
VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Darjeeling, June 29: Hill planters today sent a strong message to the trade unions that low productivity because of workers’ absenteeism and indiscipline would not be tolerated in the tea sector. The warning comes a day after the planters announced an across-the-board 33 per cent pay hike for the sub-staff of the Darjeeling tea industry.
The tea unions from the Darjeeling hills, especially the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated union, have been able to extract three major concessions for their workers and the sub-staff from the garden managements in the past six months.
The managements have been forced to pay an annual bonus to workers at the rate of 20 per cent to Grade A, B and C gardens and 17 per cent for Grade D estates in October 2010. According to the Plantation Labour Act, 1951, 20 per cent is the maximum permissible limit. The Darjeeling tea industry had last paid a 20 per cent bonus in 1991 when production reached an all-time high at 13.9 million kg annually.
In early March this year, the unions had managed to extract a daily wage hike of Rs 23 for the workers, which, too, is the highest hike in the industry’s history. Yesterday, the unions were once again able to bargain for an all-time high increase in the sub-staff salary at 33 per cent.
“We have given everything that was possible. However, everything will not be hunky-dory in the Darjeeling tea industry if core issues related to labour indiscipline is not immediately addressed. Absenteeism is as high as 30 per cent among the work force. Workers don’t even put in 8 hours and indiscipline is rampant,” said Sandip Mukherjee, secretary of the Darjeeling Tea Association.
In fact, the Singtam tea garden in Darjeeling had to withdraw its management in December last year because of high absenteeism among workers.
Mukherjee said tea production figures were plummeting but the cost of production was bound to rise because of the unprecedented hike in salaries and the rise in prices of other commodities. “Given the hike in the wages and in fuel prices we can safely assume that the cost price would now go up by Rs 100 from the present Rs 250 per kg on an average. The average selling price still stands at around Rs 400 per kg,” said Mukherjee.
The selling price of tea in gardens located in lower elevations is not so high. “The quality of tea depends on the elevation,” said Mukherjee. The wage hike has, however, not differentiated between gardens on the basis of their elevations.
“The unions must make an attempt to address and educate the workers. We are ready to provide logistic help to the union leaders like ensuring transport to reach their people in distant gardens and make them understand the need to put in quality hours in a labour intensive sector. Merely being in the field for eight hours does not mean that they are doing the required amount of work,” said Mukherjee.
Given the fact that there are 55,000 permanent workers and 16,000 temporary ones in the 86-odd tea gardens of the hills, the industry will have to bear an additional burden of more than Rs 40 crore per annum for paying the salaries of the workers and sub staff following the increment. With the increase in wages, bonus and provident funds are also expected to increase. “The returns show no signs of improving. If the workers put in proper effort we can expect production to go up by more than one million kg annually,” said Mukherjee. According to the officials, the annual production of made tea was around 8 million kg last year.
“We want the unions’ active involvement as workers listen to them. The management is represented by a manager and three to four assistants in a garden. The situation is such that every one is trying to be a union leader,” said Mukherjee.
Suraj Subba, general secretary of the Morcha-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, said his trade union had always extended co-operation to the management and would continue to do so.
“However, instead of only blaming the workers the planters should also admit that there is mismanagement in the garden. We have never asked labourers to work only for six or seven hours instead of eight hours and they should manage things well,” Subba said.
On low-productivity, Subba said: “Most of the gardens are converting into organic gardens and production is bound to come down by at least 30 per cent. The management should also start uprooting old tea bushes and start replanting to boost production.
Hills get succour
TT, Jalpaiguri, June 29: The Mamata Banerjee government today announced a special food package for the Darjeeling hills, doubling the amount of rice and wheat for those under the Antoday Anna Yojana and fulfilling the longstanding demand of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
At the Jalpaiguri circuit house today, food minister Jyotipriya Mullick said his department would allocate 30,000 tonnes of rice and wheat exclusively for Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong subdivisions under the AAY. He also announced that by March 31, 2012, eligible hill residents who had not yet come under the AAY, would be covered.
“I am making this announcement under the instructions of chief minister Mamata Banerjee who wanted a special package for the hills,” Mullick said.
“Each person used to get 800gm of rice and 700gm of wheat a week, we are now going to distribute 1.6kg of rice and 1.4kg of wheat to each person,” he said. People covered under the AAY, purchase rice and wheat at Rs 2 per kilo.
At the same time, the food minister expressed his concern at the huge number of fake ration cards in the state. “According to our estimates, there are about 1.4 crore fake ration cards in the state. We are trying to root them out so that the food supply to genuine people can be increased,” he said.
Mullick started for Darjeeling in the evening along with north Bengal development minister, Gautam Deb. “I will sit with my department officers in Darjeeling tomorrow and also tour the tea gardens there,” he said.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said an increase in the allocation of foodgrain was a long-standing demand of the hills.
“We had raised this demand with the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government earlier but nothing was done. We had also met Union food minister, Sharad Pawar, during one of our visits to Delhi. We welcome the step taken by the Mamata Banerjee government,” said Giri.
Minister SOS for food camps in shut gardens -Jyotipriya tours Dooars brew belt

From left: Ministers Jyotipriya Mullick and Gautam Deb talk to a resident of Dekhlapara garden during their visit on Wednesday. Picture by Biplab Basak

TT, Jalpaiguri, June 29: State food minister Jyotipriya Mullick today asked his department to immediately disburse foodgrains under a central scheme in the three closed tea gardens in the Dooars for instant relief of the nearly 3,000 workers.
Mullick has asked Jalpaiguri district food controller Utpal Roy to open camps in Dekhlapara, Kadambini and Red Bank so that rice and wheat under the Antoday Anna Yojana (AAY) could be disbursed. He told his officials that the process should be completed by the middle of next month.
Mullick, along with north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, visited the closed Dekhlapara Tea Estate around noon today amid heavy rain.
The visit follows a cabinet decision endorsed by Mamata Banerjee on Monday that Deb along with Mullick would visit the closed and sick gardens in north Bengal and submit a report to the government.
The two ministers, however, could not visit Kadambari and Redbank because of the torrential rain. Of the 158 gardens in the Dooars, these three are closed estates.
The Dekhlapara Tea Estate in Madarihat, 72km from Jalpaiguri town, shut down on March 11, 2002. Although the management reopened it in 2005, it closed down again after five months. The garden has around 650 permanent workers and their dependants. In Kadambini, there are 900 workers and in Red Bank, 1,200.
Among the workers narrating their problems, the most vociferous was an RSP member of the Madarihat panchayat samiti, Gyane Chhetri.
“The workers are eking out a living by breaking boulders in the riverbed, a backbreaking work. The workers have not been paid under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme since April either. Even the children are forced to break boulders instead of going to school,” Chhetri said.
Chhetri unabashedly blamed his own party that runs the Bandapani gram panchayat for not opening its office on a regular basis. “I had personally taken up the matter with former MLA of our party from Alipurduar, Manohar Tirkey, and the Madarihat MLA, Kumari Kujur, but they did nothing,” he said.
Ten-year-old Mukesh Malpahari showed Deb some pictures of his home that was rampaged by elephants. “In the past five years, elephants have destroyed our home seven times,” he said. Dasarath Tanti, a worker, said till now the panchayat had shown no interest in implementing the Indira Awas Yojana in the village.
Arati Balmiki, a casual worker of Dekhlapara, brought her five-year-old daughter, a thalasaemic patient, to the minister. Another worker, Ranjit Oraon, said there was no operating and management committees to run the gardens at a time they were closed.
“For plucking leaves during the season we get around Rs 32 a day on an average, please try to reopen our garden,” Ranjit pleaded. The workers sell the tealeaves and distribute the sales proceeds among themselves.
Mullick said he was horrified to see the condition of the workers. “Both of us are going to submit a report to chief minister Mamata Banerjee. AAY camps will be opened by the food department. I have instructed the district magistrate and the subdivisional officers to ensure that there is no shortage of food in tea gardens. If there is a problem it has to be solved within 72 hours,” the food minister said.
Bagdogra IAF meet to discuss China threat
Jayanta Gupta, TNN, Jun 29, 2011, KOLKATA: A two-day commanders' conference of the Eastern Air Command (EAC) will begin at Air Force Station Bagdogra from Wednesday. Air chief marshal PV Naik, IAF chief of air staff, and other officers from Delhi Air headquarters will hold meetings with officers from this part of the country at this conference, which is being hosted by Air marshal KK Nohwar, AOC-in-C, EAC.
"Several operational matters will be discussed in the conference, first-of-its-kind at Bagdogra. With China's aggressive moves along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) turning into a major cause for concern, Bagdogra has emerged as the most important air base in the EAC, which is in charge of operations in the North East. Bagdogra is situated at the 'chicken neck', which is a narrow corridor that connects the northeastern states to the rest of the country," an officer said.
Military strategists believe that should China decide to launch a full-fledged attack on India, it would send in troops through Bhutan to try and cut-off the North East. Under such circumstances, the role of Bagdogra will be crucial. No wonder, the base has been fitted with advanced radars and other long-range surveillance equipment. To counter any threat from across the border, air bases in the northeastern states are being upgraded on a priority basis. Su-30 MKI air-superiority fighters have already been stationed at Tezpur and Advanced Landing Grounds are being restored.
"It has been announced by Air headquarters that more assets will be stationed in the east and North East as China has turned into more of a concern than Pakistan in the last few years. The fleet of ageing Mig-21 Bisons - the mainstay of the EAC -are being gradually phased out and will be replaced by the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft that the IAF plans to acquire. But the deal is yet to be inked and it would take several years for the first lot of aircraft to arrive. Another problem is the non-availability of advanced radars to monitor the airspace across the mountainous LAC To keep Indian airspace free from incursions , the IAF has to use mobile radar stations. This has to be done as low-flying aircraft from China would be extremely difficult to detect should they follow the meandering course of the Brahmaputra," an officer said.
China maintains many more airfields, which can be made operational at short notice, close to the LAC than India does. Surveillance has revealed that the airfields across the LAC can be made operational at short notice.
Officials say that aircraft taking off from the Chinese airfields would have to compromise on fuel or armaments to maintain low weight in the rarefied atmosphere, as the bases are high-altitude ones. But this can hardly be considered an advantage with mid-air refuellers available.
Lady driver joins government duty

Prabin Khaling, KalimNews, Gangtok, June 29: Another male bastion has crumbled down in Sikkim with 30 years old Rajeshwari Rai clinching the post of a driver in State forests department making her the first woman government driver here.
Her name figured among the list published yesterday of ten drivers selected by the department following written, practical and viva voce. Three posts had been reserved exclusively for women of Most Backward Class (MBC), Other Backward Class and Scheduled Tribe.
Apart from Rajeshwari who belongs to the MBC, one lady had applied for the post reserved for ST woman but she could not clear the first hurdle of written examinations taken in December, it is informed. The two posts were subsequently passed to male candidates from the same communities.
Rajeshwari, a married woman with a two and half years old kid from Sawney village in West Pandam in East Sikkim, arrived today at the Forest Secretariat here at Deorali to sign a memorandum of terms and conditions.
After a period of twenty days within which she has to obtain medical certificate and police verification, Rajeshwari will be handed with a letter of appointment and a government vehicle belonging to the forest department to drive.
“In the written examination, we had to answer questions related with traffic rules and vehicle parts. Those who cleared the written exams had do a practical test where we had to drive a utility and also reserve drive a Mahindra Marshall over a steep incline”, said Rajeshwari to reporters here today.
Rajeshwari’s struggle to get a regular government job and to now become the first lady government driver in Sikkim all started with a ‘desire’ to learn driving way back in 2001. She got her driving license in 2002.
“I was interested in driving and learnt driving from an institute here in Gangtok in 2001. Never I though that one day I will get a government job due to my desire to drive a vehicle. I had appeared for several government posts and I was getting frustrated. This was to be last attempt to get a government job”, said Rajeshwari who daily drives her kid to school from her village to a private school in Singtam in her private vehicle.
Now, she urges all women to follow their desires with courage.
“Some women may not take chances to learn new skills because they feel shy or don’t have courage. They should have courage and do what they want and learn new skills which could prove beneficial in the long run. There will posts for women drivers in government sector in future and they can also drive taxis. The government has given us opportunity and we must make use of such opportunities”, she said.
Her husband, Kamal Gurung is a businessman.
Regarding the difficulties for a women driver, Rajeshwari said: “I had gone to work in Singapore for one year before and suffering immense hardships there, I am more than happy to work in any post here. What type of hardships would be in this job, I will see and adjust daily”.
I can change the tyre, Rajeshwari said.
The other nine male candidates also signed the memorandum of terms and conditions today in the Forest Secretariat. All the new drivers including Rajeshwari will be given the vehicles of the Forest department to drive after formalities are completed.
According to government officials, posts for women as drivers and conductors had been reserved as per rooster system since 2009 but could not be filled due to lack of female candidates.
However, of late, women in Sikkim have been coming forward for these posts and there are already two women conductors in State run city runners in Gangtok since this year.
PCS election held

KalimNews, GANGTOK, June 29: Bhim Rawat was elected unopposed as the new president of Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) during the elections held today here at the club premises.
Similarly Joseph Lepcha was also elected unopposed as the general secretary along with Baboo Tamang as treasurer, Kabita Sharma as assistant treasurer, Arjun Rai as
literary secretary, Sagar Chettri as culture secretary and Nirmal Mangar as publicity secretary.

फोटो : प्रविण खालिंग्
Among the posts for which votes were cast today by the PCS members, Vishnu Neopany was elected as the working president, Yuvraj Dahal, Arjun Piyush and Ballika
Chettri as vice presidents and Nandu Dutraj as sports secretary.
The election committee chairperson, Mala Rana Patro presented the certificates to the new executive members of the PCS. The polls were conducted by her along with election committee members Suman Gazmer and Vinay Raj Tiwari.
IPR joint director Gyaltsen T Lama was the election observer.
Thए outgoing PCS president Paras Mani Dangal and new president Bhim Rawat thanked the election committee and observer for conducting the election in a smooth and impartial manner.
Handing and taking over charges will take place on July 5 at the club office.
Who Is Making Them Cry?

Gladson Dungdung, 28 June, 2011, 
On June 24th, 2011, there was no ‘good’ in the ‘morning’ for me. As soon as I opened the Newspaper, a photograph of two old men appeared in front of me, which seems that they were crying endlessly. I was shocked to see their ugly faces. They are resident of Dhinkiya village situated in Jagadshingpur district of Odisha. Perhaps, they have been living in the vicinity before existence of the Indian state. Indeed, both of them had witnessed the formation of Indian State, which had promised them for the land reforms, elimination of poverty, illiteracy and inequality. Apart from that there was a promise to address the issues of food, clothing and shelter.
However, the tide turned; the 64 years of Indian independence has added more pains, sufferings and sorrows in the lives of majority of its people. The Indian state instead of healing the pains, sufferings and sorrows of the old-men, it turned their lives into a hell. Their cultivable lands were taken away from them by the ‘mighty state’ with the barrel of guns in the name of growth and development. The state claims that they were given compensation for their lands and betel vines. However, in these circumstances, the compensation is not an issue for them at all, but what matters is; they have lost the only heritage they had. They have lost their livelihood resources, which would have sustained their generations and cannot be exchanged with the money as they are not much habituated to work with the market economy. They cry because their lands were taken away forcefully from them and handed over to a Korean company POSCO. However, the Odisha government claims that it has acquired the land without use of force, which is entirely false.
I recall that when I was studying, we were taught in the schools that ‘India is a country of villages’, ‘agriculture is backbone of the country’ and ‘the soul of India lives in the villages’. The Indian state has been going against those beautiful phrases. In the case of Odisha, the farmers of POSCO project area rely on betel, fish and paddy for their food security and social security. However, the state government deployed the police and paramilitary forces for destroying the betel vines. According to the Odisha government, there were about 1800 betel vines and about 650 betel vines were already destroyed by the forces and villages are about to be vacated. “We plan to remove the rest in the coming weeks,” claims Paradeep’s additional district magistrate Sarojkanta Chaoudhury. The billion dollar question is can any country destroy its backbone, heritage and abode of its soul?
Needless to say that the Odisha government has been attempting to acquire 3719 acres of land for the Korean company POSCO, which had signed a MoU with the Odisha government for establishing 12 Mt steel plant near Paradeep in Jagadsinghpur district. It is the biggest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country with the proposed investment of Rs. 51,000 crore. Therefore, one can understand about the madness of the Odisha government for the project, who did not even hesitate to declare the Adivasis and other forest dwellers as none existing in the project area though these people have been living in the vicinity for generations. The most interesting thing is the MoU of the POSCO has expired a year back and the government didn’t renewal it yet but the land acquisition process has been in rampant. The Orissa government is ready to go to any extend for the POSCO project. It has already acquired 1800 acres of land of the total requirement of 3719 acres. The work for rehabilitation colony has already started and the government is confident of acquiring the required land without use of force.
The villagers have been protesting against the land acquisition for the POSCO since 2005. However, the resistance intensified recently, when the whole state machinery was engaged in land acquisition process. There is some unique in the mass movement. These villagers are not only protesting but also building up some betel vine, which were destroyed by the police forces. “We have started rebuilding betel Vines that the administration pulled down,” says Abhay Sahu of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS). The men, women and children are protesting endlessly against the land acquisition against the mighty state and corporate house.
Consequently, the prohibitory order under IPC section 144 was also imposed in the project area so that the agitators can be stopped to enter into the vicinity and land acquisition process can be done after destroying the betel vines. Another interesting factor is when the rights are to be recognized under the Forest Rights Act 2006, the Adivasis and local settlers were made non-existence and some of them were also brought under the purview of ‘encroachers’. However, when the lands and forest have to be given to the corporate shark POSCO, neither the environment nor the livelihood and social security makes sense for the state. What a lovely democratic system of governance we have in our country.
Interestingly, when the government failed to acquire land even after use of the police and paramilitary forces, it started threatening to the activists and villagers, using the tool of child rights. Since, more than 600 children from different villages had taken part in the agitation; the Odisha government suddenly woke up to see the violation of child rights in the protest. The Women and Child Development Minister, Anjali Behera sought a report from the district social welfare officer about the children. She said, “The DSWO will verify whether the children came to the agitation on their own or were forced into it”. “We will take action against the persons responsible for misusing children. Civil society will never tolerate use of children below 18 years of age in any agitation,” she added.
Ironically, the same government does not see any violation of the child rights by the corporate sharks or the state law enforcement agencies, who are constantly attempting to snatch away the land and livelihood resources of the villagers, which will have direct impact on children. When the parents lose their land and livelihood resources, how can children be sent to schools? Why should not the Odisha government respond it and so the centre? What kind of civil society is this?
The agitation got political support from the CPI, CPM, Samajwadi Party and Forward Block. However, the most stunning factor is the support of the BJP and the Congress Party to the agitation. The BJP is a party of the business men and its track record in the BJP rule states is obvious and the Congress is playing a double standards. The Union minister gives environment clearance on the one hand and also opposes the project on the other? The Environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, who gave the environment clearance to POSCO in January this year said, "However, I hope that the state government will not use this clearance as a license for forcible acquisition of land." What does it mean? And of course, one should ask that why the soldier of Adivasis, Rahul Gandhi is silent on the issue of POSCO?
In fact, both the center and state governments want the land for POSCO at any cost therefore one should not be overwhelmed after seeing halt to land acquisition for the time being. The Chief Secretary of Orissa BK Patnaik said, “Temporary suspension of land acquisition for POSCO project in the proposed plant site area near Paradip should not be considered as a ‘deadlock over the POSCO Project.” Obviously, the whole state machinery is working in the support of the POSCO Company. Has the POSCO bought the Odisha government?
The state of Odisha has established itself as an emerging industrialized state and it has signed 90 MoUs with the corporate houses including POSCO, Vedanta and Tata Steel. The most important question is whether the industrialization process is addressing the issues of malnutrition, poverty, illiteracy, ill-health and inequality of Odisha as the father of the modern India Nehru had envisages the outcome of industrialization? If the answer is “no” then we must stop the industrialization process immediately because we cannot allow the state to grab the land and livelihood resources of the villagers and hand over those to the corporate sharks in the name of growth and development.
Of course, today, it’s not the issue whether the land owners were given compensation in local or the market rate of their land but the issue is the corporate development model is converting the landowners into the landless in the country which had promised to give land to the tillers and landless. If it continues, the Adivasis and local land owners will become landless and the corporate will become the landlords. We should not allow the state to handover the ‘land to the corporate’ against the promise of ‘land to the tillers’. Do we want to make India as a corporate state?
Then the questions come into one’s mind are what should we do with the mineral resources? Should we let it lie beneath the land and also leave those in the mountains? If we want to address the issues of conflict on the issues of land, territory and resource, we must rethink on the present model of development. Our model of development should not be based on minerals only but it should be based on agro-forest, supported by horticulture and animal husbandry. And wherever there is a requirement of minerals, the community mining should be encouraged. Have you seen any farmer in the country who sells the orchards instead of mangos, guavas and Litchis? If the farmers sell the fruits not the trees then why the Adivasis and other land owners are asked to sell their lands to the mining companies instead of minerals? Why don’t we ask them to sell the minerals to the companies and let the land be with them forever? The tears of two old-men of Odisha is enough to remind the Indian state about its broken promises and alarms it against the forcefully acquisition of the resources from the tillers and handing over to the corporate sharks. If it continues, the inequality, discontent and extremism will grow. And of course, there would be results as a ‘civil war’ and one should only blame for it to the Indian state that made its people cry.
Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist, Writer and a member of “Assessment and Monitoring Authority under the Planning Commission of India. He can be reached

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