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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

RELEASE OF ADDITIONAL 120 CRORE RUPEES TO WEST BENGAL APPROVED FOR EARTHQUAKE RELIEF EXPENDITURE...INDIA: Manipur on the verge of a breakdown- A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission...CM: Appeal before land panel - Say no to bandhs, Mamata tells tribals in Dooars ...CM mum on tribal autonomy plea Mamata plays development card...Govt houses for Sikkim...'Modern’ but not renovated enough

PIB, KalimNews, New Delhi, October12, 2011: An earthquake of magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale took place at18:11 hrs. on 18th September 2011 which affected five districts viz.Darjeeling, Cooch Behar,Jalpaiguri, Uttar Dinajpur and Malda of North West Bengal adjoining the epicenter of the earthquake near the Indo-Nepal border in Sikkim. It had caused loss of nine human lives besides extensive damage to properties and standing crops.
For assessing the damage, caused by the earthquakein West Bengal, an Inter-Ministerial Central Team which was constituted, hasvisited Kalimpong, Darjeeling and other affected areas and made an on-the-spotassessment. The team leader also met the Chief Minister, West Bengal. Upon receipt of the team report, it would be fast-trackedfor consideration of the High Level Committee (HLC) and release of admissiblesupport from the National Disaster Response Fund.
On the verbal request made yesterday i.e.11.10.2011, through the Central Team visiting the State of West Bengal, releaseof the 2nd instalment of Central share of State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF), in advance,amounting to 120.025 crore has also been approved. This will bein addition to around 554.55 crore available with the State Government inSDRF for relief expenditure.
Rs 120-crore quake grant
NISHIT DHOLABHAI,TT, New Delhi, Oct.12: The Centre today released Rs 120 crore for earthquake-ravaged north Bengal, within 12 hours of Mamata Banerjee requesting a Union home ministry team for Rs 500 crore.
The money released is the remaining portion of the Centre’s share in the Rs 320 crore earmarked for Bengal under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) this year.
During the meeting with the central team led by Shambhu Singh in Kalimpong last night, the chief minister had requested for Rs 500 crore for relief and rehabilitation work in Darjeeling, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur and Malda. The 6.8 quake on September 18 had caused damage to life and property in these districts.
The Centre had given Rs 120 crore in August and another instalment of the same amount was due in December. The central team requested Mamata to apply for this instalment. The chief minister made a verbal request last night and the state government sent it in a written format this morning. The Centre then disbursed the amount in advance.
Sources in the Union home ministry said the request for Rs 500 crore would be “tough to accept”. “The Bengal government’s quota under the SDRF is Rs 320 crore this year. Of this, the state has to shell out Rs 80 crore. The Centre has already released its share of Rs 240 crore. It is tough to accept the request of Rs 500 crore,” a home ministry official said.
The sources said the quake assessment report submitted by the state government was not in the format laid down by the Centre. “The team that met Mamata Banerjee yesterday told her that the report has to be sent in the official format,” the official said.
Another reason why it was “tough” to disburse more funds, the official said, was that the Bengal government already had unutilised funds under the SDRF to the tune of Rs 554.55 crore. “Unless the state submits an utilisation certificate, more funds can’t be released immediately,” the official said.
During her visit to Darjeeling yesterday, Mamata had said the state government had asked for Rs 495 crore for quake-hit north Bengal and added that she would ask for an additional Rs 500 crore since Darjeeling was “worse affected” than Sikkim.
After the Centre disbursed Rs 120 crore today, industries minister Partha Chatterjee said at Writers’ Buildings: “I have heard about this. But unless I see the report, I will not be able to comment.”
The central team set up to assess the damage caused by the quake consists of officials of the Home, agriculture, rural development, water resources, health, power, roads and drinking water departments. The team visited Kalimpong, Darjeeling and some interior areas before returning to Delhi via Calcutta.
INDIA: Manipur on the verge of a breakdown- A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission
AHRC-STM-143-2011, KalimNews, October 12, 2011:If the economic blockade organised by the Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC) is to continue further, it has the potential to develop into an ethnic conflict in Manipur. The SHDDC, has been organising a blockade of national highways 2 and 37 since the past 72 days. The two highways are the lifeline of the state's economy and the blockade has literally chocked the state out of its fragile economic life. The two highways, the jugular veins of the state's economic life are preferred targets of protesters inside and outside Manipur. It is reported that the state government is yet to find an amicable solution to the problem.
SHDDC has been spearheading the demand to convert Sadar Hills into a full-fledged district, a demand allegedly pending since 1992. On the contrary, Naga outfits and Naga political parties, like the United Naga Council (UNC) are also agitating against the possible division of what they consider as 'Naga areas', should the new districts are formed. Indeed, it is for the government and the protesting parties to find a solution to the issue. However, that does not mean that the state administration can absolve itself from its responsibility of attending to the daily needs of the ordinary citizens who find life miserable in Manipur.
It is reported that ordinary commodity prices in Manipur have skyrocketed since the blockade to such levels, that for instance to buy fuel, people have to pay several times the actual price. Many hospitals in the state have already stopped undertaking surgeries or even admitting patients due to the lack of medical oxygen. Commodities that trickle into the state have to be escorted with heavy security due to threats from the protesters. This not only delays movement of the commodities and affect perishable goods, but also causes a heavy dent upon the country's and the state's expenses, which at the end of the day is taxpayers' money. Various factions of the protesters burned several trucks during this strike, for which the state government today has decided to pay compensation. There is no guarantee however, that no more trucks would be burned or property destroyed.
What stands out however is the apathy of the state and central government in finding means to end the present impasse. Indeed there are shortsighted political benefits by suffocating the people for everyone who have thrown their hats upon the table in Manipur. Driving the people to the verge of an ethnic conflict, which the present blockade has the potential for, given the already volatile environment in the state and in its neighbourhood, is the last curse the state and central government with the connivance of warring fractional interests could deliver to the people living in the region.
In a state like Manipur where the term 'accountability' and 'responsibility' makes no sense for its government, an ethnic violence would be additional reason for the corrupt state administration to milk more money from wherever it can in the name of security. Understanding this, it must be for the people living in the region to show their intellect and not fall prey to fractional interests. 
None can save and serve a community better than the people who make it.
CM: Appeal before land panel - Say no to bandhs, Mamata tells tribals in Dooars
ARNAB GANGULY,TT, Malbazar (Jalpaiguri), Oct. 12: Mamata Banerjee today appealed to the tribals in the Dooars and the Terai to take their case to the committee formed by the state government to look into the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha demand of bringing the Gorkha-dominated areas of the plains under the hill set-up.
The tribals are opposed to the Morcha demand and have threatened protests and demonstrations if the state government accepts it.
“A committee chaired by Justice (Retd) Shyamal Sen is looking into the matter (the demand to include Gorkha-dominated areas of the the Dooars and the Terai in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration). They (Morcha) have the right to make a demand, and so do you. They will plead their case. You plead your case before the committee. Don’t listen to what others are saying. Tell the panel what you have to say,” the chief minister told a gathering at the National Club grounds here.
Mamata requested the Adivasi Vikas Parishad not to create “tension and disturbances” in the plains. “The people of the Dooars and the Terai should not worry. There was some tension between the people of the hills and the Dooars. We don’t want any tension. Nobody should quarrel. We want the people of the hills, the Dooars and the Terai to live in peace. It is our commitment not to allow any disturbance in these places. I will appeal to my brothers in the Adivasi Vikas Parishad not to take the law into their hands.”
The chief minister expressed her displeasure with the series of bandhs in the Dooars and the Terai to protest the Morcha demand. “From now on, say no to bandhs. Ask those calling bandhs to provide food first,” Mamata told the rally.
Mamata announced a series of development packages for the Dooars and the Terai, driving home the point that the plains were as important to her as the Darjeeling hills. She promised the people of the Dooars and the Terai that she would visit the region often and announce more development schemes. The chief minister also made it clear that she wanted peace in return. Mamata flagged off a DEMU rail service between New Jalpaiguri-Siliguri and Aluabari Road. She also handed over scholarships to Madhyamik pass-outs from tribal families and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe certificates. She said her government was trying to settle minimum wage for tea garden workers. The chief minister announced a raft of projects to boost tourism, health and education in the Dooars and the Terai. She urged the people to have patience so that the projects can be implemented successfully.
Speaking on her plans to boost tourism in the Darjeeling-Dooars-Terai region, Mamata said she was using Switzerland as a “model”. “A detailed project report is being prepared. Mega-parks will come up. Once my Switzerland project is complete, there will be no dearth of jobs in this region. I can create jobs. It is for you to make use of the opportunities. We want schools, hospitals and colleges to come up, but it will take time.”
The chief minister assured the residents that drinking water would be available in most areas by 2012. “The public health engineering department is working on a number of projects, which will be complete by December next year,” she said.
In her visits to north Bengal, Mamata had tried to reach out to the people to show how much she “loved and cared” for them. In Darjeeling yesterday, she repeatedly spoke about her three visits to the hills in the past four months.
In Malbazar today, she stressed that those trips covered the plains too. “In the past four months, I have come to Darjeeling… north Bengal three times. My ministers have come at least 15-20 times.”
CM mum on tribal autonomy plea Mamata plays development card
ARNAB GANGULY, TT, Chalsa (Jalpaiguri), October 12: The Adivasi Vikas Parishad today placed before chief minister Mamata Banerjee a demand for an autonomous council on the lines of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
Sources in Trinamul said the chief minister has not made any commitments on the demand placed before her.
At a meeting with Mamata at Chalsa’s PWD inspection bungalow this afternoon, Parishad leader John Barla and his team demanded the creation of an Adivasi Territorial Administration, whose jurisdiction would extend over the entire Terai and the Dooars.
“We want the Adivasi Territorial Administration under the 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. This will be a Scheduled Tribe autonomous council in the Terai and the Dooars region. If we can get this area, then the development process can be intensified,” said the Parishad leader after the meeting. The Parishad and the West Bengal Bodo People’s Forum, another tribal body, jointly met Mamata. The chief minister was closeted with the leaders for nearly 30 minutes but did not give any assurance on their demand.
Instead she asked for time to bring development to the region, a Trinamul leader said.
In public, Mamata did not comment on the demand of the tribal leaders. Neither did she refer to the demand for an autonomous council during her public address in neighbouring Malbazar. Instead she focussed on playing the development card as she had done with the tribal leaders in the meeting.
“Mamatadi told the Adivasi Vikas Parishad leaders that she had many plans for the development of the region and sought time for the same,” a senior Trinamul leader said.
Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, junior minister for shipping Mukul Roy, state ministers Gautam Deb, Hiten Barman and mayor Sovan Chatterjee were present at the meeting.
The tribal leaders also insisted on the need to preserve their cultural identity.
“When the GTA was proposed we didn’t object. Now when we are making a similar demand, there shouldn’t be any problem,” Barla said.
Tezkumar Toppo, the state general secretary of the Parishad, echoed Barla. “We too deserve our own autonomous region,” he said. “But we will listen to the chief minister and not resort to any violence over the issue. We are happy that she has promised development for the region and has many plans for the Dooars and the Terai. We are willing to wait.”
The Parishad leaders have also made it clear to the chief minister that taking away mouzas from the Dooars and the Terai to be brought under the new hill authority was not acceptable to them.
State Parishad chief Birsa Tirkey said the tribals were not happy with the government’s move to form a committee that would look into the Morcha demand. “All the indigenous tribals in the region will hold a huge rally to protest against it in November,” Tirkey said. The Bodos of the region have decided to support the Adivasis and take part in the rally. “We are the sons of the soil and we are afraid of losing out on our land to settlers from outside,” said Arun Narzinary of West Bengal Bodo People’s Forum.
Adivasi leaders want GTA-like body
SNS, CHALSA (WB), 12 OCT: Adivasi leaders of the Dooars and Terai today met chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee and said they would not allow any area from the two tribal regions to be included in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration formed recently.
The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha had demanded at the time of the GTA agreement that some mouzas of the two adivasi regions be included in the authority. While the Dooars has 98 mouzas, Terai has 123.
The Dooars lies on the foothills of the eastern Himalayas around Bhutan while Terai is the area near the Siwalik range, the lowest outer foothills of the Himalayas.
Representatives of various adivasi organisations like the Toto Kalyan Samiti, Bodo People's Forum and Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad in a meeting with the chief minister here put forward three alternatives.
Either an authority on the lines of the GTA to be named as Adivasi Territorial Administration for the two regions be formed, an Adivasi Autonomous Council be created or both the regions be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. They also submitted some memoranda containing their demands to the chief minister.
Miss Banerjee said she needed some time to consider their demands.
CM tries to woo adivasis, sops galore
SNS, Dipankar Bose, MALBAZAAR (Jalpaiguri), 12 OCT: Chief Minister Miss Mamata Banerjee in her maiden visit to the Dooars after taking charge, asked the people of both the Terai and the Dooars, “not to worry.”
“Some vested quarters created tension between the Hills and the Dooars-Terai region, but I want peace. We will not allow disturbances in the area and it is our commitment to the people of this region. I have already requested the leadership of Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) not to take law and order in their own hands. The Terai-Dooars and the Hills will have to stay together. It is easy to ignite a fire, but very hard to douse the flames. We will never strike the matchstick, rather we will always be ready to sprinkle water,” said Miss Banerjee today while addressing a gathering in Malbazar, where she distributed stipends and caste certificates among schedule caste and schedule tribe students, announced a bouquet of projects for the region and inaugurated the New Jalpaiguri-Siliguri-Aluabari Road (Ring Rail) DEMU service.
Directing all parties concerned to the high-power committee, constituted by the state government on the issue of inclusion of Terai and the Dooars mouzas to the GTA, the chief minister said: “Anybody can place a demand before the committee and we are encouraging it. The ABAVP will approach the committee with their specific concerns. We want wide representation from all sections. Please keep faith in me and I will ensure that there is no dispute between the Hills and the Terai-Dooars. If the garden (Terai-Dooars) burns, I will feel the heat. If the Hills burn, I will again feel the burns. We have to save Bengal from burning and we don't have to play with fire.”
Training her guns on the CPI-M and the erstwhile Left Front government and tacitly blaming them for fomenting unrest in the Hills and the Dooars-Terai region, Miss Banerjee said: “They looted tribal land and left us with a huge financial debt. They continued to deprive common people from their daily livelihood by calling bands and putting up road blocks. This has to stop. We have to do politics of creation, not destruction.”
Sending a message to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre on the issue of the state's fiscal management and financial aid, Miss Banerjee said: “They (Central government) had been providing financial assistance to successive LF governments and we are now left with the debts on our shoulders. We have repeatedly appealed to the Centre to suspend collection of debt repayments for three successive years, but we are yet to get a positive response. However, I will continue my work with my head held high and rather quit everything than bowing down.”
The chief minister assured the people of the Dooars that she would be back soon with more projects for the area and signed off with, “Long Live Adivasi-Hills Unity.”
Projects for Dooars & Terai
A holistic tourism-based package for the entire area, including the Hills, the Dooars and Terai focussed on tourism and keeping Switzerland as a theme to determine yardstick. Detailed project report under preparation.
Tourism mega-parks in Gajoldoba, Saili and Kunjanagar.
Tourism Centre in Murti.
Tourism research centre in Tilabari
Renovation of Buxa Fort.
Permanent tent accommodation in three select locations of Dooars
Rs 1 crore for remodelling of Malbazaar bus stand
Rs 16.50 crore for specialised units and overall development of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital
Rs 8 crore for upgrade of primary health centres across Terai and the Dooars
Raghunath Murmu boarding school in Satali, Kalchini to be set up with Rs 8 crore.
12 schools with hostel facilities
52 schools to be upgraded to higher secondary schools, 18 new primary schools in Jalpaiguri, 5 model schools to be set up in Dooars-Terai, 37 new upper primary schools in Jalpaiguri
500 minor irrigation projects to be sanctioned across North Bengal
All vacant teaching posts in the Dooars-Terai region to be filled up in next five months
2230 new teaching posts, including 328 for Hindi teachers
District institute of education and training in Alipurduar
Govt houses for Sikkim
TT, New Delhi, Oct. 12: The Centre has decided to construct at least 14,000-odd houses in quake-hit Sikkim. The constructions will be carried out by Hindustan Prefab Limited, a government firm under the ministry of housing and poverty alleviation.
HPL had constructed over 600 houses in Leh in 85 days after it was hit by cloud burst. The HPL is planning to redo this feat in Sikkim. A majority of the grant — Rs 1,070 crore — that Delhi had allotted to the Sikkim government for rehabilitation will be given for housing.
A central team has visited the earthquake affected areas to assess the situation and the requirements. Although the state government has not been able to give a clear estimate of the number of houses required, the Prime Minister’s office has fixed the figure at 14,000 housing units.
“Our team visited four places in Sikkim to carry out technical investigation. Once the roads are cleared, we will have an explicit idea about what sort of design we should have and the other ways we can help,” said Jaiveer Srivastavaa, CMD of Hindustan Prefab Limited. North Sikkim was the worst hit in the quake.
The HPL is still debating on what raw material to use for the construction, since most of the houses are multi-storeyed. Most of them had come up flouting height restrictions in a seismic zone. The HPL specialises in construction of housing using “puff panels”. Puff panels are known to be good for insulation, especially in extreme temperatures. They are also said to be as strong as concrete and have a life span of 25-30 years. But constructing multi-storeyed buildings with puff panels can be expensive.
“The roads have not been cleared in most of the places. Our team visited the areas using helicopters. We will be able to begin work only in another two or three months,” Srivastavaa added.
Parts of North Sikkim are still cut-off.
The HPL’s engineers will also be consulted for the extensive damage in the secretariat and the Sikkim Assembly. Both the buildings developed cracks in the earthquake.
'Modern’ but not renovated enough
TT, Siliguri, Oct.12: Employees of the Northeast Frontier Railway are disappointed with the state of the “modernised” printing press at Kurseong that was inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee from Darjeeling through remote control yesterday.

According to sources, the railway board had sanctioned around Rs 5 crore for the renovation and modernisation of the 61-year-old press in 2008 but only two printing machines have been installed at the unit so far.
“The railway board had sanctioned around Rs 5 crore for the infrastructure renovation (of the press) in 2008 and that included the installation of modern machinery. Although the funds have been approved, the process of implementation has taken very long and we are very disappointed by the delay. Last year, two printing machines were installed after nearly two years since the money was approved and that is all we can boast of in the name of renovation,” an employee of the press said.
Apart from inaugurating the press, Mamata, who held the railway portfolio before Dinesh Trivedi took over in July, also unveiled a number of railway projects including a basic training centre at Kurseong, a filter manufacturing plant at Tindharia workshop and a multi-functional complex building at Siliguri.
“The chief minister inaugurated the modernised printing press from Darjeeling yesterday but we want the revamp in actual terms and for that more machines have to be installed. We are very disappointed with the present state of affairs and want the ministry of railways to initiate the renovation at the printing unit immediately,” said another employee.
The Kurseong press has two sections, the general printing section and the ticket printing section.
While the former prints books, forms and railway passes, the latter prints and supplies manually generated tickets for toy trains and passenger trains in the Tinsukia, Lumding, Rangiya, Alipurduar and Katihar divisions under the NFR.
According to the employees, the two printing machines that were installed last year are not sufficient to handle the volume of work.
“The press is responsible for printing bulk material like books, forms and railway passes throughout the year for the entire NFR section. We need modern machines to save time and produce quality material and the two printing machines are not enough for that. We need at least three more machines. The old press building also needs some renovation while maintaining its features as it is a heritage building,” said a source.
The press that is located adjacent to the DHR station at Kurseong is controlled directly from the NFR headquarters at Malegaon.
The building that houses the printing unit was established in the 20th century and the press was set up around 1950.
“Computerised ticketing system has been installed in most of the stations under the NFR. The press was supposed to print computerised tickets for the entire section but no machine has been installed in the ticketing division for the process to start. The railway authorities procure the tickets from private printing press,” said an employee of the press.
Tips on how to handle visitors to Northeast - sikkim trains seven states in tourism management

BIJOY GURUNG, TT, Gangtok, Oct. 12: Sikkim has taken the role of uniting the Northeast through tourism so that it benefits all eight states. As a first step, nearly 30 youths from across the region participated in a short course on setting up travel agencies.
The course on “tour operators” started on September 24 and concluded today. Three youths from Manipur, six from Arunachal Pradesh, one from Meghalaya, two from Nagaland, one from Assam and 13 from Sikkim took part in the course conducted by the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim (TAAS) in Gangtok.
The course is the first of the 10 such programmes outlined by TAAS, an apex body of tour operators in the state, to share its tourism promotion skills with stakeholders of the industry in the seven northeastern states.
The programme is being held under the “capacity building training for tourism stakeholders of Northeast region” funded by the North East Council (NEC) for Rs 1.46 crore and supported by the Sikkim government. All the courses will be held in different parts of Sikkim and the final programme has been scheduled for January 31 next year.
Experienced members of TAAS, along with the other resource persons who had been invited, shared with the participants some of the basic knowledge on different aspects of tourism, promotion, handling clients, hospitality and marketing. The participants were taken to West Sikkim for field lessons on eco-tourism and homestays.
“We came to know that tourism uplifts our culture and benefits the state. We will fully use the wonderful training we received here when we go back home. It is just the beginning of a long journey and while we thank TAAS for the training, we want them to continue to train us and help us promote tourism in our state,” said Likha Talu from Arunachal Pradesh during the valedictory programme in Gangtok.
Menbi Riddi who is also from Arunachal Pradesh said he wanted more youths from his state to join the programme.
For Nagaland participant Lanumeri, it was the homestays that caught the attention.
“When I go back, I will start homestays in my village. Nagaland has rich potential not only in terms of homestays but also in adventure sports, the basics of which I learnt here,” said Lanumeri
The next batch of 40 students is already in Gangtok. Their classes started yesterday.
With Sikkim being the leading tourism-driven state in the region, TAAS had been selected by NEC to conduct the capacity building training for the interested candidates. Some 300 youths will be trained in different avenues of tourism like trekking, hospitality, homestays, cook, eco-tourism, marketing and air ticketing.
“We need to work together to promote the whole region. Most of the participants of the first batch will start their tour agencies and I have told them to link up together so that the whole region is promoted,” said TAAS president Lukendra Rasaily.
TAAS vice-president Sailesh Pradhan said he had impressed upon the participants the fact that tourism is not an isolated activity. “Promotion must be done linking up with neighbouring areas. We need to work together,” he said.
Adviser to TAAS and senior tour operator Paljor Lachungpa assured the tourism stakeholders from the other states that TAAS would support them. “If everybody in the Northeast promote tourism together then global tourists will come to the region. You can send surplus tourists to Sikkim and we can send our excess visitors to your states,” he said.
Saturday hope for water supply
RAJEEV RAVIDAS,TT, Kalimpong, Oct. 12: Water supply to the town will be restored by Saturday after temporary repairs are carried out on the damaged pipelines, officials of the Neora Khola Water Supply and Maintenance Division and the PHE have promised.
Residents of the hill town are having to go without regular drinking water supply after pipelines on a 32-km stretch between Neora and Lava were hit by landslides triggered by rains and the earthquake.
In normal times, the town gets water for half-an-hour either on every alternate day or every third day. However, since the middle of September, potable water is being supplied only once in five-six days.
Today, Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri held a meeting with the officials of the Neora Khola Water Supply and Maintenance Division and PHE (water works) department that are responsible for supplying water to the town.
“I have been told that the temporary restoration work will be completed by Saturday and normal supply will be restored after that,” he said.
The municipality today distributed water in jeeps and pick-up vans in some areas of the town. With the monsoon over, the residents are not being able to tap rainwater as a supplement and they are compelled to buy potable water at high rates. A 1000-litre of water costs anywhere between Rs 200 and Rs 300, depending on the distance of a house from the source. Kalimpong requires almost 7 lakh gallons of water everyday.
Chhetri said to some extent the water scarcity was because of illegal tapping. “Illegal tapping takes place right from the source (the 94.5km-long pipeline that carries water from the Neora to the reservoir at Deolo) to the distribution end. Water is released from Neora at a volume of 9inches but by the time it reaches Deolo reservoir, the volume is reduced to 5inches. If there is no loss of water en route to the reservoir we would not be facing problem,” he said.
The PHE officials today submitted an estimate of Rs 2.4 crore to the MLA for temporary repairs of the pipelines.
“I am going to Calcutta today and I will try to meet the PHE minister tomorrow (to discuss the issue ) …I have also apprised the chief minister about the problem,” Chhetri said.
Officials of Neora water supply said Rs 10.5 crore is required for the permanent restoration of the affected pipes.
Residents of Kalimpong have faxed a mass petition to governor M.K. Narayanan, seeking his intervention to solve the water crisis.
Digital track on Bhutan rivers
TT, Jalpaiguri, Oct. 12: The governments of India and Bhutan will jointly prepare a digital map of the rivers that originate in the neighbouring country and flow through north Bengal to track their course, primarily to check floods and erosion in the region.
Chairperson of the North Bengal Flood Commission, Narayan Chatterjee, said the decision to prepare the map was taken at a meeting held in Shillong earlier this month.
“During the monsoons, several areas of Bhutan — Phuentsholing, Pagli Bhutan, Samsi, Gomtu and the adjacent areas of Totopara — are flooded by rivers like the Torsha, Raidak, Sankosh, Reti, Sukriti, Basra, Gabur Basra, Diana, Hollong, Muznai and Dima that originate from Bhutan. The rivers also carry boulders and debris with them that gets stacked in different parts of the Dooars in Jalpaiguri district,” said Chatterjee.
He said the digital map would indicate the areas that are affected by erosion caused by the river, damaged portions of embankments and siltation.
“The committee has decided to prepare the map to get a clear picture of the course of the rivers and inform the engineers who will take necessary steps to avoid damage,” said Chatterjee, who is also a member of a joint technical committee that monitors the movement of the rivers in the region.
“We will take help of the previous surveys conducted by the engineers in this regard and if required, there will be fresh surveys. These things will be decided in our next meeting that will be held in Siliguri later this month. The meeting will be attended by the irrigation officials from both the Central and the state governments and engineers from the Brahmaputra River Division and the central water commission,” said Chatterjee.
He added that the digital map is expected to be ready by next year.
“We would like to complete the map before the next monsoon so that we can take necessary steps to control floods in north Bengal and neighbouring Assam next year,” he said.

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