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Monday, July 4, 2011

Morcha’s land faith in govt - Govt to consider territory demand, not Parishad: Gurung- Gurung in Jaigaon... Apple adulterated, vendors let off

Morcha’s land faith in govt
- Govt to consider territory demand, not Parishad: Gurung- Gurung in Jaigaon
Anirban Choudhury, TT, Alipurduar, July 3: Bimal Gurung today said it was up to the state — and not the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad — to consider his party’s demand to bring some plains mouzas under the proposed administrative unit for the hills, indicating his faith in the state government for the first time.
“It does not matter what the Parishad wants. Who is the Parishad to give us (or not give us)? A high-level government committee is doing the survey. We made our demands to the state government. The committee will look into our demand,” Gurung said.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief also said had the committee been formed earlier, the Sibchu firing could have been avoided. On February 8, police opened fire when Morcha supporters camping under Gurung in Sibchu broke through a barricade and attacked a woman constable. Three Morcha supporters were killed in the firing.
The Morcha president repeatedly praised the Mamata Banerjee-led government, which had given him permission to hold a rally in the Dooars today, the first since the Sibchu incident.
Gurung assured the Adivasis, the dominant population in the Dooars, that the new administrative set-up would bring peace. Around 5,000 people had assembled at Gopi Mohan Ground to listen to Gurung. Earlier, more than 2000 Morcha supporters took out a procession to celebrate the victory of Wilson Chompromary, the Independent MLA from Kalchini. The Morcha had backed Chompromary during the Assembly election.
Later Gurung told reporters: “After the Sibchu firing, this is my first Dooars visit because the earlier CPM government did not allow me to enter the region apprehending violence. But our party had always been in favour of peace. We have a lot of expectation from the new government. The Centre has given us Rs 43 crore but it is not sufficient to make the hills Switzerland. We have already appealed to the state government for more.”
During her visit to Darjeeling in September, Mamata, who was then the railway minister, had said she would transform the hills into Switzerland if she came to power in Bengal.
The Morcha chief said there was a difference in the functioning of the CID under the two governments. “We had earlier demanded a CBI inquiry. But Madam (Mamata) promised us that the CID would do its job well. We have complete faith in her. A CID under this government will be different from the CID under the Left government,” he said.
“Here, the daily wage of garden workers is only Rs 67. In the hills, they get Rs 90. I have asked the trade unions here to organise a strong movement. I had also requested the food minister to provide rice at the rate of Rs 2 per kg to the poor people of the Dooars just like in the hills.”
John Barla, the president of the Dooars Terai Co-Ordination Committee of the Parishad, said not “an inch of land” would be allowed to be brought under the hill set-up. “If the chief minister does not meet us, we will appeal to the Centre,” he said.
Apple adulterated, vendors let off
TT, Kalimpong, July 3: The Kalimpong municipality has let off vendors selling adulterated apples on the ground that they were unaware of their offence, a claim that has been rubbished by consumers specially when all it needs is a light scratch on the fruit’s surface to prove the quality.
The subdivisional officer of Kalimpong, L.N Sherpa who is also the administrator of the civic body, said the traders were not competent enough to know that apples polished with wax were adulterated. Lawyers said a conviction under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act could fetch a minimum imprisonment of six months and a maximum of seven years.
Consumers have refused to buy Sherpa’s claim that vendors unknowingly sold apples coated with wax, specially since fruit sellers polishing apples with a cloth is a common sight across the country. The polish to the wax coating brought a shine to the apple.
“It is hard to believe that the traders were not aware of the fact that the apples they were selling were coated with wax. It is a normal sight, vendors polishing the apples with a piece of cloth... The civic body should not have let the guilty go easily, and instead, made an example out of them,” said Ujjal Rai, a resident of the town.
Yesterday, the civic body’s health department carried out raids on fruit stalls here and seized 32kg of apple coated with wax which gives extra glaze to the produce. The vendors sold the apples for Rs 150 a kg, claiming that it was a special variety imported from Chile and New Zealand.
“We carried out the raids after we found out that the apples being sold as imports from Chile and New Zealand were coated with wax. It was easy to establish the adulteration. Scratch the surface of the apple with a knife and small layers of wax come out. This sort of apples is harmful to the humans’ health. If one eats such fruits, he might face problems like indigestion, gastritis and even diarrhoea,” said Dr Sangay Zimba, the health officer of the civic body.
Zimba said the raids had been carried out on 16 stalls, 14 of which were illegal, in places like DS Gurung Road, Ogden Road, Main Road, Rishi Road, Haat Bazaar and CK Chowk. “The apples were being sold to customers for Rs 150 a kilo. Most of the vendors did not have trading licence of the municipality. We let off them with a strong warning. In future, strong action will be taken against anyone operating without the licence and found selling adulterated and spurious stuff,” said Zimba.
The vendors, many of whom were operating without licence for as many as 10 years, pleaded innocence. “We get all our fruits from Siliguri and sell them as they are brought here. Had I known that they were adulterated, I wouldn’t have sold them,” said a vendor.
SDO Sherpa said the vendors had pleaded innocence. “The traders are not competent to know whether the apples are adulterated or not. They sell them as they come from Siliguri. Since this is the first time, they have been let off.”

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