Puff in public gets penalty or prison
Bypass blood trail leads to love nest
Danseuse dies at 66
‘Guiltless’ sheriff will not step down
Bank okays multi-crore civic development plan
Vigil on garden night life

 
 
PUFF IN PUBLIC GETS PENALTY OR PRISON 
 
 
BY SHANKAR MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, June 6 
A few months ago, a government employee merrily puffing away on a biri had to stub it out in a hurry when finance minister Asim Dasgupta hauled him up for smoking in the corridors of Writers’ Buildings.

Then, the ‘no smoking’ writ was an unwritten code. But soon, everything will be official about it. Alarmed at the rise of cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases related to smoking, the government is working on an Act prohibiting the puff at public places.

The Bill, being drafted by the health department, will be placed before the Assembly in the next session.

Health department sources said smoking will be prohibited at government offices and establishments, in public vehicles, educational institutions, cinema halls, cultural centres, parks, gardens, sports galleries, bus terminals, railway stations and the airport.

Smoking at these places will be treated as a cognisable offence, punishable with fine and/or imprisonment.

Even selling or advertising cigarettes and other tobacco products will be banned in the no-smoking zones.

“We know that smoking cannot be stopped by either applying force or through any Act. So, apart from bringing in an Act, we are taking up programmes to make people aware of the ill-effects of smoking. For this, we shall soon launch a massive campaign in and around the city,’’ said Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, principal secretary in the health department.

The anti-smoking campaign will be launched with the help of NGOs and business bodies through hoardings, posters, banners and films.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a report last month, warned the state government on the alarming rise in smoking-induced diseases and advocated a ban on advertising and promotion of tobacco.

The Centre has also asked the government to initiate moves to reduce smoking, with the Union health department pledging funds for the awareness programme.

The government will soon hold a meeting with the chambers of commerce, urging them to prohibit smoking in their offices and establishments. “We shall also interact with employees’ unions and associations to caution employees on dangers of smoking,’’ said a senior health department officer.

State officials will hold talks with filmmakers and TV serial directors as well.

Welcoming the initiative, Dr Ashok Kar, professor of cardiology, SSKM Hospital, said: “I treat hundreds of cardiac patients daily and find the main cause of cardiac problems is smoking. Before prescribing any medicine, I first write ‘Stop smoking’. This Act can save thousands of lives.”    


 
 
BYPASS BLOOD TRAIL LEADS TO LOVE NEST 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 6 
The police have cracked the case of the brutal murder of computer professional Kunal Bose on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass on May 26.

A set of letters recovered from Bose’s Bansdroni flat on Tuesday confirmed an extra-marital relationship between Aparajita, or Munmun (Kunal’s wife), and his promoter- friend Nantu Roy.

Officers from Tiljala police station investigating the case interrogated Kunal’s widow in the afternoon and took her to the flat to recover the documents.

Sources said letters ,written by both Munmun and Nantu, were found. According to the additional superintendent of police, S.N. Gupta, Munmun, in her letters to Nantu, had mentioned that she was unable to carry on with her marriage with Kunal.

The police team also carried out raids at different places, including Diamond Harbour and Falta in South 24-Parganas, in a bid to track down the elusive Gautam, Nantu’s driver.

Nantu had told his interrogators at Behala police station on Sunday night that Gautam was having an “affair’’ with Munmun.

The murder appears to have been masterminded by Munmun, Nantu and Gautam on May 23 at Kunal’s Bansdroni flat, which the three frequented.

“Munmun urged us to finish off Kunal as she was unable to bear the torture any more and was desperate to get out of the relationship. I initially refused, but Gautam and Munmun insisted that it was the only way out. She hated him (Kunal),’’ Nantu told interrogators.

On May 26, Nantu and Gautam took Kunal to a deserted spot on the Bypass, attacked him with a chopper and threw him out of the car.

“We thought that he would be run over by speeding vehicles,’’ Nantu told the police.

But Kunal stayed alive to whisper “please save me, I have two children, Nantu and Gautam are trying to kill me’’, to the three local boys who had rushed to rescue him.

Meanwhile, Kunal’s family and friends have alleged “deliberate mishandling of the case” by the police.

“Nantu used his influence with a political party and the police to ensure that Kunal’s body was disposed of in a hurry,” said a close friend. “How else can we explain the police cremating his body without handing it over to his parents?”    


 
 
DANSEUSE DIES AT 66 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 6 
Award-winning danseuse Manjushree Chaki Sirkar died at a south Calcutta nursing home on Tuesday following renal failure.

She was 66. Her daughter Ranjabati, also a danseuse, had committed suicide last year.

Chaki Sirkar, who won international acclaim with her creative choreography, was admitted to the nursing home on Monday. She collapsed on Tuesday afternoon during dialysis, family sources said.

Born in 1934 at Pabna, in erstwhile East Bengal, she had matriculated from the Beltala Girls’ School in Calcutta, graduated from Presidency College in 1952 and completed her Masters from Calcutta University.

Later, she did her PhD from Columbia University on Manipur’s Laiharoba dance form.

“I learnt to dance almost before I could walk. There is not a single day when I did not practise some form of dance,” she had written not long before her death.    


 
 
‘GUILTLESS’ SHERIFF WILL NOT STEP DOWN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 6 
Sheriff of Calcutta, Pankaj Roy, has refused to relinquish his post in the wake of the tax evasion scandal at his liquor shop in Salt Lake, putting the state government in a spot of bother.

The former Test star met deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya at the Writers’ Buildings on Tuesday and requested him to hand back his liquor licence.

Echoing his earlier statement, Roy denied all charges of corruption levelled against him. “I knew nothing of this malpractice. My employees are involved in this and I have filed an FIR against one of them,” he told Bhattacharya.

The deputy chief minister turned down Roy’s request and told him that “the inquiry is on and a decision will be taken only after the report is submitted”. Bhattacharya also informed the Sheriff that he had sought a report from North 24-Parganas district magistrate Alapan Bandyopadhay. “I cannot commit anything before going through the reports,” the minister said.

Later, Roy said: “I have told the minister I am innocent... I haven’t committed any grave crime that I should quit my post.”

But Roy’s alleged tampering with excise papers has put the administration in an embarrassing situation. His name for the Sheriff’s post, after all, had been recommended by the government.

The liquor licence of Roy’s shop, the only liquor outlet in Salt Lake, was cancelled by the excise department on June 3 on charges of forging and tampering with government documents to evade taxes. According to sources in the excise department, Roy’s shop used to regularly evade taxes by producing false documents, charge exorbitant rates and sell liquor in the black market.

The corruption was first unearthed by a group of officials from the excise department while conducting an audit. It was found that the sales figures and tax submission figures didn’t tally.

Apprehending stern action, Roy promptly deposited the original amount with the excise department. But the excise department ordered an inquiry into the matter and sealed his shop.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Roy was “keen to put the blame on his employees to protect himself”.

“Every chalan and forged document bore Roy’s signature,” said an investigating officer. The state government then cancelled Roy’s liquor licence.    


 
 
BANK OKAYS MULTI-CRORE CIVIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
Calcutta, June 6 
The Asian Development Bank has put its seal of approval on the survey report which will form the basis of the Rs 1,575-crore project for the development of the city’s environment.

On Tuesday, ADB team chief Graham Jackson signed the survey report prepared by the Australian firm, Egis, to improve the city’s basic infrastructure, enabling it to cope with the pressure due to the high rate of economic growth expected in the next 20 years. Jackson expects the state domestic product to grow at an annual rate of 6.7 per cent, higher than the projected national growth of 5.8 per cent. If this growth rate persists for the next 20 years, the city’s per capita income should be at least two-and-a-half times the current figures.

To cope with the pressure, the city should adequately equip its water supply system, drainage and sewerage networks, solid waste management and air emission. The report, which Egis prepared in association with Consulting Engineers India and Sinclair Knight Merz, pointed out that in terms of quality of air, water and noise, the city environment had deteriorated drastically over the last 10 years.

The foreign experts held the Calcutta Municipal Corporation responsible for the rising pollution levels. The report said more than 50 per cent of the city’s 45-lakh population lived in the slums where environment-related diseases were rampant.

The financial status of the CMC holds the key to independent, effective environment management. In recent years, the budgetary gap between own source income and total recurring expenditure has varied between 33 and 45 per cent.

The ADB has laid a number of conditions, including the imposition of fresh taxes, before it releases any further funds to CMC for infrastructure development. The bank recently announced a loan of Rs 1,557 crore to the civic body, but may withhold the amount unless its conditions are met. The funds are to be utilised for the construction of underground sewer lines, solid waste management and revamping of outfall channels and canals.

Among the conditions that the ADB has set are optimal utilisation of the infrastructural facilities that will be created and imposition of taxes on all users of these facilities.    


 
 
VIGIL ON GARDEN NIGHT LIFE 
 
 
BY MITA MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, June 6 
A white Ambassador screeches to a halt by a broken wall of the sprawling garden campus on the Bakultala side of Howrah. Four young men get off, with heavy bags slung over their shoulders and make their way stealthily to the western bank of the Hooghly, where a mechanised boat is lying in wait to ferry the loot across the river. After the usual exchange of flashing torch-lights, the bags are hurled into the boat which melts into the darkness.

Welcome to the Botanical Gardens by night, a haven for criminals. Alarmed at the growing instances of smuggling and other criminal activities, authorities at the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have sought the Howrah district administration’s help to beef up night vigilance in the garden.

BSI deputy director Madhusudan Mondal said the existing police camp and the Botanical Gardens’ own security team are incapable of curbing criminal activities in the 200-year-old garden.

“Researchers often find rare species of plants vandalised during study tours in the morning. We have also heard of various criminal activities being carried out in the garden at night. So, we have decided to seek additional police assistance,” said Mondal.

An entry fee of Rs 3 per head will be slapped to cut down on visitors to the garden, which has a daily footfall of over 25,000 and is a great research aid for botany students.

The 63-acre green, situated on the west bank of the Hooghly, besides being a shelter and escape route for criminals at night, has also become a haven for smugglers and drug peddlers. Prostitution is said to be rampant on the grounds.

In meetings held by the BSI authorities with state chief secretary Manish Gupta and the Howrah administration, it was decided that police will conduct a survey and and chalk out a security blueprint for the garden.

“The raiders-by-night come from Metiabruz, crossing the Hooghly. We are yet to introduce night vigil, but have deployed plainclothes securitymen during the day,” said Rahul Srivastav, DSP, Howrah (South).    

 

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