To contact us CLICK HERE
View Kalimpong News at
Citizen reporters may send photographs related to news with proper information to

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blast in Kalimpong... House gutted in fire..... मादक पदार्थसितै युवक पक्राउ.... .Morcha ‘martyr’ rally in Sibchu today - Permission for firing site meet... Banika felicitated during Basibiyalo.... जेलेप्लाले नै बनायो कालेबुङ..... Double whammy for gardens - Embargo on tea despatch begins, fear of further dip in prices... SENSITIVE ISSUES ... NOC received for CM’s secretariat... Telangana solution can’t be forced: Chidambaram

Blast in Kalimpong
KalimNews:A blast damaged a NBSTC bus in Kalimpong motorstand. The device was planted under the Eicher bus WB76 5668 and blasted in between 2 to 3 am in the morning. When the blast was heard the NBSTC Office guard was alerted and saw fire starting inside the bus. He however managed to extinguish the fire. 
The blast possibly devised in a stove was blaced under the Bus body. Though it couldnot damage much the incident has alerted all. DP Singh SP Darjeeling visited the spot with Jacquline Dorjee Kalimpong ASP and Prasad Pradhan IC Kalimpong. Addressing the media SP Singh said that CID and bomb squad team is arriving Kalimpong this evening to investigate the blast. 
बसमा विस्फोटःसीआईडी जॉंच हुने
 मनोज वोगटी, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 26 जुलाई।  मोटर विसाउनीमा बिहान लगभग 3 बजी एउटा विस्फोट भयो। विस्फोट निक्कै जोरसित भएकोले केही क्षणमा नै त्यहॉं मानिसहरू थुप्रिए। पछि सबैले थाहा पाए उत्तर बङ्ग परिवहन निगमको एउटा सरकारी बसमुनी त्यो विस्पोट भएको थियो।
एसपी डीपी सिंहले जनाए अनुसार यो घटनालाई पुलिस प्रशासनले निक्कै गम्भीररूपले लिएको छ। 
तिनले भने, घटनाबारे एफएसएललाई जनाइ सकिएको छ। घटना निक्कै गम्भीर देखिएकोले यसको जॉंच सीआईडीले गर्ने छ। यो घटना सामान्य हो कि यसको उद्देस्य ठूलै छ, त्यसको छानबिन अनिवार्य बनेको छ। घटनाको जानकारी पाउने वित्तिकै एएसपी ज्याक्लिन् दोर्जी अनि एसपी सिंह घटनास्थलमा आइपुगेका थिए। घटनाबारे जानकार रहेका चौकीदार पदम सुब्बाले जनाए अनुसार ठूलो आवाजमा विस्फोट भएकोले आफू व्यूझिएको अनि हेर्दा बस मुनी आगो लागेको देखेपछि तिनले आगो बोराले निभाए। विस्फोटले बसलाई सामान्य क्षति पुर्‍याएको छ। 
तिनले भने, पहिले त केही थाहा भएन के भएको हो भनेर, पछि हेर्दा एउटा स्टोभ गाड़ी मुनी देखियो। एसपी सिंहले पनि भने, गाड़ी मुनी स्टोभ देखिएको छ, जसलाई विस्फोट गराएर बस उड़ाउने कोशिष गरिएको अनुमान गरिएको छ। यसो किन गरियो, कसले गरे, यसकोपछि कुन उद्देश्य छ? यही कुरालाई अघि राखेर जॉंच प्रक्रिया अघि बढ्‌ने छ। डिपो निरिक्षक शेखर  बराइलीले पनि भने, घटनाबारे थानालाई अवगत गराइयो।
कालेबुङ थानाका आईसी प्रसाद प्रधानले निरीक्षण पनि गरे। हामीले थानामा प्राथमिकी पनि दर्ता गरेका छौं। यसप्रकाको घटनाले सरकारी बस र कर्मचारीहरूलाई असुरक्षित बनाएको छ। यसकारण थानालाई सरकारी वाहनको सुरक्षाको अपील गरिएको छ। किन भने यी यस्ता वाहनहरू हुन्‌ जससले सस्तोमा सुरक्षित यातायात सेवा दिन्छ। बसमा विस्फोट भएको  हल्ला फैलिने बित्तिकै केही क्षणमा नै कालेबुङमा बम नै पडि्‌कएको अफवाह पनि फैलिएको थियो।
Kerosene stove blast dents bus floor
TT, Kalimpong, July 26: The floor of a North Bengal State Transport Corporation bus parked at the motor stand in the heart of town was damaged in a minor blast caused by a kerosene stove apparently kept beneath the rear portion of the vehicle early this morning.
The ventilators of the corporation’s ticket counter right behind the bus were also shattered in the explosion.
It is not clear yet if the stove was lit by somebody or burst because of any other reason. A police officer said the blast was a minor one and was unlikely to cause injuries even if it had occurred during the day.
A night guard, Padam Subba, engaged by the NBSTC from a private agency was woken up by the blast around 2.45am.
“I was inside the ticket counter when I heard a loud explosion outside. I rushed out and saw flames at the bottom of the only bus parked there. I immediately used the floor mats in the ticket counter and flung them over the flames. Water was also used to douse the flames. The blast caused a dent in the rear floor of the bus. The stove was lying all twisted and mangled,” said Subba.
The guard soon informed the police station that is just about three minutes’ walk from the motor stand. “I did not see anyone in the vicinity when I came out of the ticket counter,” he said.
The superintendent of police of Darjeeling, D. P. Singh, visited the spot around 10.30am.
“It is a stove that exploded and we have asked the Central Forensic Laboratory in Calcutta to send experts to find out more about the nature of the explosion. The forensic team will be here either tomorrow or the day after to inspect the remains of the stove that are kept at the Kalimpong police station,” said Singh.
The district police chief said an investigation had started to find out who had kept the stove under the bus. He also said the police would patrol the area from tonight.
A senior Kalimpong police officer said the stove that had exploded at the bus stand was one with a wick.
“I have heard of kerosene stoves that can be started off with pumps bursting, but never a wick one exploding. It is still a mystery as to how and by whom the blast was caused,” said the officer.
The officer said had the explosion taken place even during the day, the damage it would have caused to humans would have been very minor. “It looks like that a metal part of the stove perforated the floor of the bus. But that could not have caused any serious injuries as the intensity of the blast was not big enough,” he said.
The explosion, however, has caused some concern among people.
Neel Kamal Chhteri, an education consultant who uses public transport, said he felt scared when he heard about the incident.
“It is scary that the blast took place at a spot that is used by the public. Such spots are always chosen by trouble-makers all over the world. Railway stations, bus termini, trains — all are targeted by these people,” said Chhetri. He said the police should be more vigilant as far as public places were concerned.
House gutted in fire
Accidental fire totally turned a residential building of Dawa Bhutia near Sadhudhara to ashes in Kalimpong. In the accident the fire destroyed the belongings of the three tenant families residing in the building.
घर जलेर स्वाहा
मनोज वोगटी, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 26 जुलाई।  कालेबुङको लोवर साधु धारा नजिक दावा भोटियाको घर जलेर स्वाहा भएको छ। मोठ पॉंचवटा कोठा भएको दावाको घरको दुइ कोठामा उनीहरू बस्थे भने तीनकोठा भाड़ामा दिएका थिए। ती मध्ये दुइवटा कोठामा अलगअलग विवेक सुब्बा अनि सरस्वती राई बस्थे। दुवै जना आफन्त रहेकोले विवेक सरस्वतिको घरमा कोठामा नै खाना खाने गरेका थिए । 
हिजो भने सरस्वतिको कोठामा नै सुतेका विवेकले विजुली गएकोले आफ्नो कोठामा मोमबत्ती जलाएका थिए। मोम बत्ती त्यतिकै छोडेकोले खिड्‌कीको पर्दाबाट आगो सल्किएको थाहा लागेको छ। आगो लागेको अर्को कोठाका भाड़ादारले थाहा पाए पनि होहल्ला मच्चियो त्यतिबेला आगोले घरलाई पूर्णरूपले आफ्नो अधिनमा लिइसकेको थियो। दावा भोटियाले जनाए अनुसार मोठ डेड़ लाख रुपियॉंको क्षति भएको छ भने 60 हजार रुपियॉं खरानी बनेको छ। दुइवटा ग्यास सिलिण्डर बाहेक कुनै पनि सामाग्री निकाल्न नपाएको पनि तीनले जनाएका छन्‌। 
मादक पदार्थसितै युवक पक्राउ
मनोज वोगटी, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 26 जुलाई।  कालेबुङ पुलिसले कालेबुङलाई ड्रग्स मुक्त गर्न अनेकौं पहल गरे पनि अनि दोषीहरूलाई पक्राउ कार्य जारी राखे पनि मादक पदार्थ बेचविखन र सेवनमा कुनै पनि परिवर्तन देखापरेको छैन। अहिलेसम्म धेरैलाई पक्राउ गरिसकिएको भए पनि उनीहरूलाई उचित दण्ड नदिइएको कारण ड्रग्स तथा मादक पदार्थ वेचविखन कार्यले निरन्तरता पाइरहेको छ। हिजो पनि टिस्टा ब्रीजबाट  राती 9.30मा कालेबुङ थानाले मादक पदार्थ बेचविखन गर्ने  ओल्ड टिस्टा ब्रीज निवासी दिपेन थापा उर्फ राणालाई पक्राउ गर्‍यो। राणालाई राती नै कालेबुङ थानामा ल्याइयो भने तिनलाई ड्रग्स एण्ड कस्मेटिक्स एक्ट अनुसार मुद्दा दर्ता गरिएको छ। दिपेनबाट कालेबुङ पुलिसले 50 बोतल रोकोडेक्स अनि 54 फाइल एसपी फेला पारेको थियो।
Morcha ‘martyr’ rally in Sibchu today
- Permission for firing site meet

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Darjeeling, July 26: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to observe “martyrs’ day” tomorrow at Sibchu, where three party supporters were killed in a police firing on February 8. But unlike earlier times, police have given permission to the Morcha to go ahead with a rally at the firing site.
The subdivisional police officer of Malbazar, Arindam Sarkar, said he had received an appeal from the Morcha for tomorrow's programme in Sibchu.
“I have forwarded the appeal to the block development officer to allow the Morcha to observe the martyrs’ day at Sibchu,” the SDPO said.
Sibchu in the Malbazar subdivision of Jalpaiguri is one of the entry points to the Dooars. The firing took place when Morcha supporters forcibly tried to enter the region as part of party chief Bimal Gurung’s padayatra from Darjeeling to the Dooars.
Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang said: “The party has decided to observe martyrs’ day at Sibchu tomorrow. I, along with Kalchini MLA Wilson Chompromary, will be present at the spot to pay homage to three of our martyrs who were killed in a police firing on February 8, 2011.”
The Morcha has been observing martyrs’ day on July 27 since it’s inception, just like the GNLF used to do until Subash Ghisingh and the top rung leaders were forced to flee the hills. On July 27, 1986, 13 people were killed when a GNLF procession — on its way to the Kalimpong motor stand to burn the 1950 Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty — was fired upon.
The rally had been brought out as Ghisingh, the president of the GNLF, wanted the government to scrap Article VII of the treaty, which allowed free movement — along with other rights, except voting — between the citizens of Nepal and India. Ghisingh was of the opinion that the article was blurring the line that divided Nepali-speaking Indians from Nepali citizens.
Like in the past three years, the Morcha will be observing the day at Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik too.
“Martyrs’ family members from the Dooars, Terai and Darjeeling will come to Darjeeling,” said Tamang. Party president Gurung will be present at the programme in Darjeeling, sources said.
Gurung had earlier said that six “martyrs”, who died since the party launched the statehood agitation in 2007, would be given jobs once the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was in place along with an LPG agency. The party has already given Rs 3 lakh to each of the families of the “six martyrs”.
Apart from this, the Morcha has also bought a flat for the family of Pramila Sharma, the first Morcha activist to be killed in the agitation on July 25, 2008. Pramila died from a bullet fired allegedly from the house of a GNLF leader in Darjeeling.
“We are not treating our martyrs as the GNLF had done. They only gave Rs 8,000 to the families and there was corruption even in distribution of this amount,” Gurung had said at Chungthung earlier this week.
Apart from Pramila, the others who have died in the agitation are Neeta Khawash, Bimala Rai, Vicky Lama, Akbar Lama and Rabin Rai.
Gurung had also said after the CID probe into the Sibchu firing was completed, the state government was likely to announce compensation for the families of Bimala, Neeta and Vicky.
While Bimala and Vicky died on the spot in Sibchu, Neeta had breathed her last a couple of days later at a nursing home in Siliguri.
Today, a three-member CID team visited Gorubathan where 12 Morcha supporters submitted a written statement on the firing.
“I, along with 11 others, gave a written statement about the incident before the team at Gorubathan in Kalimpong subdivision. The 11 people also included two Morcha activists, Roshini Rai and Karuna Tamang, who were injured that day,” said Tamang.
The Morcha has also submitted “video footages and photographs” of the Sibchu incident to the CID. “I had sent the material to CID almost a week ago,” said Tamang.
On July 6, the Morcha team had also met C.V. Muralidhar, the additional director general of police of the CID.
GJM Kalimpong will not celebrate the Vijay Utsav on 28 July due to some reasons. Dipen Thapa  a drug peddlar from Teesta was arrested by Kalimpong police with several files of spasmoproxyvon and bottles of Ricodex.

Banika felicitated during Basibiyalo
PR, KalimNews: Suresh K. Lama Debut Music Album “SAMMAN” Singing Superstar Himalayan Idol Banika Pradhan was felicitated during BASIBIYALO” of Singtam, East Sikkim by Chief Guest of the function  Shri. B.B. Lopchan, Advisor, STCS, Government of Sikkim. Basibiyalo is  one of the Sikkim biggest Art & Culture promotion Group.
The local FM 91.9 will highlight the monthly  literary programme Basibiyalo organized by Singtam Basibiyalo family while speaking as a Guest of honour, Deputy Programming head Miss Rajshree Subba informed the gathering here today. In the 36th functions of Basibiyalo held here at community centre, she further added that in every Saturday evening at 6.30 P.M,  in their program ‘ my song, my music’, the promotion of Basibiyalo will be aired regularly.
Besides that Chief Guest handed over the memento to Rajshree Subba on behalf of Basibiyalo, Singtam. On the occasion a monthly English Newletter “ Basibiyalo” too was released.
Speaking on the occasion, Himalayn Idol Banika Pradhan praised Shri Suresh K. Lama for his creative concept on producing his debut music album ‘ SAMMAN’ and giving honor to all the Nepalese Idols. Other singers singing in this album is Indian Idol 3 Prashant Tamang, Indian Idol 4 Kapil Thapa, Zee TV Saregama Singing Superstar Karma Sherpa, Star Plus Chote Ustad Pragriti Giri, Himalayan Idol Banika Pradhan, South Asian Super Star Asushen Lama (Kathmandu , Nepal) & Introducing Sikkimese sensation Ganga Mukhia.
Prominent poets, distinguished guests and a large numbers of people were present on the occasion who presented their poems as well. There was presentation of cultural programme too. Poet Mohan Pradhan Niraj conducted the programme while T.B. Pradhan presented the welcome address. 

जेलेप्लाले नै बनायो कालेबुङ
मनोज वोगटी, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 26 जुलाई। जेलेप्लाले नै कालेबुङ बनाएको हो। यसैकारण कालेबुङ सुनियोजित छैन। व्यापार केन्द्र भएकोले कालेबुङ व्यापारको निम्ति बनियो।
बाटो, घरहरूको निर्माण पनि व्यापारिकरूपले नै बनियो पछि त्यसैलाई विकास गरेर वर्तमान कालेबुङ बनाइयो-चीन-भारतको युद्ध हुन अघि पुर्खासित व्यापार गर्न कालेबुङ आएका टिवेट ट्रेडका साक्षी बज्रङ अग्रवालले यसो भने। तिनले भने, फेरि यो मार्ग खोलियो भने कालेबुङ र सिक्किमलाई व्यापारिक र आर्थिक फाइदा प्रचुर हुनेछ। तिनले जनाए अनुसार जेलेप्ला मार्गबाट व्यापारीहरूले ल्याउने कॉंचो माल राख्ने गोदामकोरूपमा कालेबुङ स्थापित भयो। कालेबुङमा दुइदर्जन भन्दा धेर यस्ता गोदामहरू थिए जहॉं ऊन लगायत अन्य व्यापारका सामाग्रीहरू  राख्ने अनि यहॉंबाट भारत र भारतबाहिर निर्यात गरिन्थे।
तिनले फरर गोदामहरूको नाम लिँदै भने, नन्दुराम, भाजुरत्न, छोगमल, कोडामल, जेठमल, श्रीराम अर्जुन दास, श्रीराम नन्दलाल, लिखिमचन्द, कालूराम...यिनीहरू मुख्य गोदाम थिए। ऊनको कारोबार हुन्थ्यो। घोड़ामा नै लादेर सामान ल्याइन्थ्यो। पछि मार्ग बन्द भयो। व्यापारमा घाटा हुने देखेर 60 प्रतिशत व्यापारीहरूले कालेबुङ छोड़े। नेपाली, भोटे, टिवेटन,मारवाडी, विहारीले व्यापार गर्थे। ती गोदामहरू अझ पनि कतिवटा छन्‌। जो कसैलाई स्कूल बनाइयो कतिलाई अन्य दोकान र कतिलाई घर बनाइयो। जेलेप्ला मार्ग खोलिए अनि पहिले जस्तै मार्ग बाधारहित बनाइए कालेबुङको रूप नै परिवर्तन हुने अनि कालेबुङ, सिक्किम, सिलगढ़ी अनि भुटानसम्म नै आर्थिक बहाली हुने अनुभवी अग्रवालले जनाए। तिनले भने, रोलेक्स घड़ी बोरामा हालेर लगिन्थ्यो, केजीको हिसाबमा बेचिन्थ्यो। अहिले परिस्थिति अर्कै भयो व्यापारको तरिका बद्लिनु सक्छ तर फाइदा भने उस्तै नै रहने छ।
एकपल्ट ज्योतिबसुले नरसिंह रावलाई जेलेप्लाले कालेबुङ सिक्किम लगायत भारतलाई पुर्‍याउने व्यापारिक फाइदाबारे सम्झाउँदै यो मार्ग खोल्न पत्र लेखे पनि अझसम्म खोलिन्छ, खोलिन्छ बन्ने हल्ला नै चलिरहेको छ। माकपा नेता तारा सुन्दास अनुसार यो मार्ग खोलिए साना-ठूला व्यापारीहरूलाई मात्र फाइदा नपुगेर यहॉंको पर्यटनलाई पनि चुलीमा पुर्‍याउनेछ। जेलेप्ला मार्गले नै कालेबुङको निर्माण गर्‍यो। कालेबुङको निर्माण व्यापारको निम्ति नै भएकोले यहॉं टिवेटनकला पनि व्यापारसित नै हुर्किएको थियो। आरसी मिन्त्री रोडमा अझसम्म पनि मारवाडीहरू टिवेटन भाषा बोल्न सक्छन्‌। खदामाला, लुङ्‌दर, टिवेटन पोषाक, बुद्धका मुर्ति तथा धार्मिक सामाग्रीहरूको निर्माणको पनि कालेबुङ केन्द्र नै बनेको थियो। एक पसलेले भने, कालेबुङमा बनिने भोटे धुप नेपाल, सिक्किम अनि भुटान समेतले अझ पनि यहीँबाट किन्ने गर्छ।
तारा सुन्दासले जनाए अनुसार व्यापारिक दृष्टिकोणबाट भारत चीनलाई नै यो मार्गले फाइदा पुर्‍याउँछ। स्थानीय मात्र होइन राष्ट्रिय अन्तराष्ट्रिय व्यापारीहरूलाई पनि फाइदा पुर्‍याउँछ। यसको निम्ति डामडिममा रेलमार्ग स्थापित गरेर गोदाम केन्द्र डामडिमलाई नै बनाउन सकिन्छ। कालेबुङमा स्टोर घरहरूको निर्माण हुने मात्र होइन ससाना रोजगारहरूको अवसर पनि निर्माण हुनेछ। विश्वभरिका व्यापारीहरू कालेबुङ- सिक्किम आउने हुनाले यहॉंको पर्यटन र यातायात पनि आर्थिक उन्नयनको राम्रो मेलो हुन सक्नेछ। रिनोक -रङ्लीको पनि विकास हुनेछ। घोडामा होइन वाहनमा नै व्यापार चल्ने भएकोले कालेबुङ र सिक्किम दुवैलाई भारतको व्यापार केन्द्रको प्रावधानले विकास गरिन सकिनेछ।
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has opened up the possibility of resuming trade through Jelep-la, a pass close to Kalimpong

A shop selling Tibetan items at the 10th Mile near Kalimpong. Picture by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha
TT, Kalimpong/Darjeeling, July 26: The signing of the tripartite agreement to set up the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has opened up the possibility of resuming trade through Jelep-la, a pass close to Kalimpong on the India-China border that was last used nearly 50 years ago.
The hope brews all the more as the agreement states that the GTA will take up the issue with the Centre and the state, once it is in place.
“Jelep-la (easy pass in Tibetan) was the preferred pass since, unlike Nathu-la, its gradient is not so steep making it easier to negotiate even during the winter months. I am certain once it is opened, it will be a thriving trade route and help rejuvenate the long dormant economic activity in Kalimpong,” said Karma T. Pempahishey, a member of the Public Grievances Redressal and Welfare Society, Kalimpong. The society has long been lobbying for the reopening of border trade.
At 14,500ft, Jelep-la is 100 feet higher than Nathu-la and 160km from Kalimpong. But the distance from Siliguri to Jelep-la is 235km. From Siliguri, the Sikkim pass is 15km further away, a significant difference in the hilly terrain.
Trade through the all-weather route, unlike the Nathu-la that remains closed during winters, had once turned Kalimpong into a major trade hub. Jelep-la was an important pass for export and import from India till the Chinese aggression in 1962. Kalimpong was the main station for dumping commodities brought from Tibet and also for packaging and re-shipment of export commodities from India to Tibet.
The 10th Mile which used to be the main business centre when the Jelep-la trade route was used. Picture by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha
“While mostly raw wool and silver coins came from Tibet, just about everything was exported from here,” said Satyanaryan Agarwal, a veteran of the Indo-Tibetan trade through Jelep-la who still owns a shop at 10th Mile, which used to be the main trading centre then.
The Kalimpong Chamber of Commerce (KCC) said it would welcome any move to reopen the Jelep-la trade route.
“The closure of Jelep-la has severely impacted the local economy. The trade route is far more feasible than Nathu-la. However, more items should be allowed from Tibet through the point (than it was earlier) to make it economically viable in today’s context,” said a member of the KCC.
Trade through Jelep-la had started way back in 1871, but inland business flourished after Colonel Young Husband’s visit to Tibet via Kalimpong in 1904, when the route started functioning as a full-fledged passage for exchange of goods.
Following improvement in the ties between colonial India and Tibet, a British agent was stationed at Shigatse in Tibet for the purpose of transit.
In fact, former Darjeeling MP Dawa Narbula had also raised the issue of Jelep-la in Parliament while the KCC had submitted a memorandum to Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then prime minister, during his visit to Gangtok in 2004. A memorandum had also been submitted to Pranab Mukherjee when he had come to Kalimpong as the finance minister in 2008.
Even current Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh has strongly advocated for the opening of the Silk Route.

The 10th Mile which used to be the main business centre when the Jelep-la trade route was used. Picture by Chinlop Fudong Le
Singh had earlier told The Telegraph that the quest for peace and amity with neighbouring countries could not be treated like “traffic lights”.
“It cannot be treated like traffic lights, stop, go, green, amber, red. It has to be a constant effort…We must permit free movement of goods and encourage as much trade as possible,” said Singh. “We would very seriously consider the opening of Jelep-la.”
The tripartite agreement states that the GTA will take up the matter of reopening the trade route through the Jelep-la with the state and the Centre soon after the body comes into existence.
“Easy access from the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) through Jelep-la will eventually make it more popular with Chinese traders wanting to reach the ports in Calcutta or Bangladesh. Besides trade, the opening of the Jelep-la route is likely to provide a boost to the tourism industry in the region,” said Pempahishey. 

Double whammy for gardens - Embargo on tea despatch begins, fear of further dip in prices
TT, Siliguri, Jaigaon, July 26: The tea union of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today started an indefinite embargo on the despatch of tea from gardens in the Dooars and the Terai to demand a revision in workers’ wages, the agitation coming at a time the price of the produce has plummeted because of over-production this year.
There are fears that the price will come down further as the market will be awash with manufactured tea if the embargo is lifted after a prolonged period.
The Progressive Tea Workers’ Union had announced earlier that it would stop the despatch of tea for only today and tomorrow and a decision would be taken on July 29 whether to continue with the embargo.
The union, which is dominant in almost 208 gardens in the Dooars and the Terai, wants the daily wage to be increased from Rs 67 to Rs 250.
“Our supporters have started halting the despatch of tea from gardens across the plains. We have decided that the agitation will continue for an indefinite period unless our demand is met,” said Baijnath Naik, the general secretary of the Progressive Union.
“A general strike will be observed in the Dooars and the Terai on July 28 as we announced yesterday. We want to clarify that no vehicle carrying tea will be allowed to leave the estates. If vehicles loaded with tea are found outside the gardens, it would be stopped at the very spot. We will not allow the vehicle to move an inch till the wage is hiked,” said Naik.
The planters fear the embargo would cripple the tea sector, already hit by a higher production and less exports. “Tea price is coming down by Rs 4-5 at every auction because of a surge in the supply and dip in exports. In case the embargo continues for a fortnight, the garden owners will face a financial crisis. We are apprehensive about law and order problems as some planters might find it difficult to pay the labourers their wages,” said K.K. Mintri, a planter and a member of the Tea Association of India.
Leaders of the Parishad union, however, refused to buy the theory. “Workers get regular payments even during the lean season (winter months). If any unpleasant situation crops up because of the non-payment of wages, the management will be held responsible,” said the Progressive Union general secretary.
The stakeholders of the tea sector said business worth Rs 20 crore would be hit everyday during the embargo.
The traders pointed out that the price of the produce would come down further once the embargo was withdrawn. “The market is flush with CTC tea now because of higher supply and less exports. As there is a halt in the supply because of the embargo now, the excess tea might be sold off. But once the strike is withdrawn, each garden will desperately try to clear its stock and earn money. This would lead to accumulation of tea in the market and further decrease in the price,” said Ankit Lochan, a tea merchant and exporter based in Siliguri.
Figures with the Tea Board of India show that the total production in the Terai and the Dooars was 47,560 thousand kg during January-May period in 2010. During the same period this year, the production has been 50,491 thousand kg, of which, 32,284 thousand kg accounted for April and May. Exports, on the other hand, are less compared to last year.
When the auctions began this season, 1kg of CTC tea was sold at Rs 130-135. But the price gradually came down and the brew fetches Rs 120 now.
Frequent demonstrations organised by two apex bodies of more than 30 other trade unions for the wage hike have already put pressure on the planters. They have already called a strike from August 10 to 12 t
The state labour department has decided convene a tripartite meeting — the fourth rounds of talks — in Calcutta on August 4. “All trade unions have been asked to defer their agitation till that date when the issue of wage can be resolved,” said a labour official.
TT, Fifth Column -Sumanta Sen: As could be apprehended beforehand, the Gorkhaland agreement has led to fissiparous tendencies coming to the surface elsewhere in North Bengal. The demand for a Greater Cooch Behar is again being heard, and it may only be a matter of time before the Kamtapuris in Jalpaiguri become active in a big way for a ‘homeland’ of their own. Like the Nepalese, these people also do not have any valid reason to back their claim — it is all a matter of sentiment. But if sentiment is taken note of, even partially, in one case then it becomes difficult to ignore it in other areas. Particularly so since the chief minister, in her avatar as the Opposition leader, had always seemed to have a soft corner for these agitationists who, in the last year or so, have also become close to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
At first sight, the Cooch Behar agitationists would appear to be on a fairly strong ground. Cooch Behar was a ‘native’ state. When it acceded to India in 1947, it became a mere district and not a state on its own. “Unfair”, has been the call raised shortly after that by those who ruled the roost during the princely regime. What is not being taken into account is that most other such states also became districts — as in Rajasthan, for example. The Hyderabad of the Nizam did not become a separate state and in the Northeast, Tripura did not have to become a small part of any region because Cyril Radcliffe gave Comilla to Pakistan. So how can Cooch Behar have any special claim? The protagonists of Greater Cooch Behar are fully within their rights to bemoan the loss of status but they have to accept the reality. Granting them their demand — as also that of the Kamtapuris — will bring into play the Assam government, and Dispur cannot be expected to have time for such an exercise. Just as it has no intention of ceding a part of its territory for the realization of the demand for a Greater Nagaland. As for the Kamtapuris, the demand that the ancient glory of the Rajbanshis be restored to them is too wild to be voiced in this day and age. But, unfortunately, in India, ancient history tends to remain valid as there are always a few takers for it with ulterior motives.
Pandora’s box
Hence the complications. Successive state governments failed to firmly put their foot down and label the demands as pure nonsense. Instead, there have been efforts at arguing with the other side when there exists no scope for argument. The former chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, had even attempted a scholarly discussion on the Rajbanshi language to prove its affinity to Bengali. Why? Reasoned arguments certainly have their place but only when the other side is reasonable.
Also, there is the question of demography. In today’s Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri, the Bengalis far outnumber the Rajbanshis, and this must be taken into account. Particularly when, in the hills, the numerical superiority of the Nepalese has always prevailed over the interests of the Bhutias and the Lepchas — which, ideally speaking, should not have happened but, then, ultimately, it is numbers that matter. Also, it is not that the Rajbanshis are not allowed to play any role in the public life of the region.
Now they have smelt blood. If the state government has accepted the nomenclature, ‘Gorkhaland’, can the real thing be far behind? Ethnicity is a sensitive issue. And by now, it has been realized that if properly handled, it can bring in the goodies to a fair measure. The current line of thinking clearly is, demand statehood and at least autonomy will come your way. Indeed the way things are going, the demand for a Greater Jharkhand may once again be raised in South Bengal. Particularly if the tribals in the Terai and the Dooars are made to hand over a part of their lands to the Nepalese. Pandora’s box has now been truly opened wide.
NOC received for CM’s secretariat
SNS, SILIGURI, 26 JULY: To fulfil chief minister Miss Mamata Benerjee’s wish of setting up her secretariat, close to Uttarayan, a housing complex, at Matigara in Siliguri, the Chandmoni Tea Estate authority has agreed to offer its land to the state government.
The CM, during her recent visit to Siliguri, herself selected the site for her office, ignoring protests that had erupted in the area in June 2002 after the CPI-M took the initiative to set up a “satellite township” on the tea estate. Following the CM's instruction, the Darjeeling district magistrate, Mr PMK Gandhi, had put up a board there mentioning CM's secretariat and branch secretariat, north Bengal development affairs department, and on 21 July he asked the land and land reforms department to begin inquiry to know the status of the land.
Studying land records the land and land reforms department, came to know that the land is owned by the Chandmoni Tea Estate. The department yesterday asked the estate authority about the state government's plan and sought ‘no objection certificate’ from them. When contacted one of directors of Chandmoni Tea Company Ltd, Mr TK Choudhury, said: “The land and land reforms department yesterday asked about our opinion. We have informed them that we do not have any objection if state government wants to set up the CM's secretariat here.”
A senior administrative officer in Darjeeling said that the tea estate authority had already submitted a NOC to the state government. Miss Banerjee had asked the Darjeeling DM to acquire at least five acres of land there.  

Telangana solution can’t be forced: Chidambaram
PTI, NEW DELHI, 26 JULY: Union home minister Mr P Chidambaram has said political parties in Andhra Pradesh must help the Centre find a solution to the Telangana issue but they are divided and a solution cannot be thrust down their throats.
“This is a unique situation where political parties in Andhra Pradesh are divided down the middle. Congress, Telugu Desam, CPI, CPI(M) are all divided. The only party which claims to be undivided is BJP because it has only one member,” he said.
Therefore, he said, the political parties were divided and “we cannot thrust the solution down the throats of political parties who represent the people.
Mr Chidambaram said so far as the Congress party was concerned, the effort was to unite the party and find a solution that was acceptable to all Congress MPs and MLAs. This was what was being tried by his colleague and Union minister Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad.
“The other parties must all do the same thing. For example, Telugu Desam must try to do the same thing. Unite all Telugu Desam members to find an agreed solution. It is easy to say you have not found a solution but anyone who tells us we have not found a solution has no solution either,” he said.
Asked about some critics accusing him of “going back” on the promise of Telangana, the minister said the government took a position as the home ministry and as home minister I made the statement on behalf of the government on 9 December, 2009 and then when protests broke out in other parts of Andhra Pradesh, government reconsidered the matter and revised its position and I made the second statement on 23 December, 2009.
“I was speaking on behalf of the government.
So if it is anyone's case that the home minister can unilaterally announce or withdraw an announcement, one must be very naive to think so,” he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment