Cable cry for Crorepati
Tough checks on auto pollution
Army goes to war against golf body
A family of four in quest of killer cabbie
Murder sparks mob rampage
Prefects conduct junior classes

 
 
CABLE CRY FOR CROREPATI 
 
 
BY SUBHRO SAHA
 
Calcutta, July 4 
With the leading cable unions under the RPG Netcom umbrella continuing to stonewall STAR’s ‘package’ deal, the city’s satellite viewers, denied their choice, are finally voicing their protest.

Subscriber resentment, which has been building up ever since the five STAR channels were switched off on the night of June 14, reached a crescendo with large parts of the city denied a date with the Big B on the mega game show, Kaun Banega Crorepati? on Monday night.

Agitated viewers in RPG areas (which serves 70 per cent of the city’s six lakh cable homes) who had STAR Plus, News, Movies, World and National Geographic knocked off their menu 20 days ago, are now demanding immediate restoration of the channels. Some have even threatened a switch-over to the SitiCable feed, the other multi-system operator in town.

Subscriber pressure has driven a number of link operators to the doors of STAR, seeking decoders against refundable deposits. “We have been flooded with enquiries about boxes and at least 35 operators have queued up,” said Rajeev Sharma, area sales manager, distribution and marketing, News Television (India) Ltd.

While three operators have already resumed the entire package with their own decoders, many others are being held back by the unions with promises of an expeditious solution. “We can satisfy at least 50 per cent of the demand for decoders if the operators come back to us on Wednesday,” maintained Sharma.

STAR, which had blacked out the five channels after price-hike negotiations with cablemen fell through, has made it clear it won’t offer any discount on its Rs 16.75 rate fixed for the package and the various cable operators’ unions have failed to thrash out a solution despite meetings galore.

Meanwhile, after being deprived of a peek at the Crorepati show hosted by Amitabh Bachchan, the agitated subscribers are demanding their due. “Who are they (the cablemen’s unions) to decide on behalf of us what we want to watch?” fumed Arya Ghosh of Behala, who had got a call-up to the preliminary round of the Bachchan show in Mumbai, but was denied a chance to watch the first episode of the mega show.

“They never deemed it necessary to seek our opinion whether we want the channels or not, saying we don’t want to pay. What are a mere six rupees at the end of the month for those channels?” asked Swati Sanyal of Golf Green, who is equally upset over the HBO blackout.

RPG Netcom, too, seems keen on a “quick solution”.

“If the viewer is willing to pay, we see no problem in restoring the STAR channels. After all, it’s the viewers’ choice that matters,” said CEO Probir K. Bose.    


 
 
TOUGH CHECKS ON AUTO POLLUTION 
 
 
BY AVIJIT NANDI MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, July 4 
The 10-member expert committee set up by the chief justice of Calcutta High Court to recommend measures for controlling the alarming automobile pollution in the city has suggested some Draconian measures. Some of these are: limiting the validity of taxi permits to eight years; stopping registration of new three-wheelers; selling fuel only to vehicles with valid pollution control certificates and decentralisation and privatisation of work related to the issue of certificates of fitness (CF) to vehicles.

Sources close to the motor vehicles department said the member-secretary of the pollution control board and a key member of the committee, K.S. Ramasubban, submitted the confidential report to the chief justice on June 30.

Chief Justice A.K. Mathur had formed the committee on February 4 and directed it to file a report with recommendations within three months. The committee was formed after Green activist S.M. Ghosh moved court.

According to the confidential report, a copy of which is available with The Telegraph, the experts admitted that the present system of imposing fines on errant vehicles did not work. “Vehicles should be re-tested within the stipulated time of seven days in well-distributed centres, under the supervision of technical officers of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board and state transport department,’’ the report says.

Blaming the state transport department for the current situation, the expert committee suggested the government prepare an action plan to improve the functioning of auto emission testing centres.

The experts expressed concern at the sale of adulterated fuel and lubricants. According to the report, all refineries should implement the marker system for detection of adulterated fuel and lubricants from December 31, 2001. It should be made a cognisable, non-bailable offence.

The transport department should take steps to control emission from state buses and government vehicles, the experts said.

“All two, three-wheelers and petrol-driven vehicles should fit catalytic converters within two years in phases,’’ the report says, urging the state transport department to take necessary steps in this regard.

“The government may formulate a scheme for incentives to owners of taxis and auto-rickshaws to replace their old vehicles with new ones. Such incentives would be made available as a one-time measure for purchase of such new vehicles till December 31, 2001.”    


 
 
ARMY GOES TO WAR AGAINST GOLF BODY 
 
 
BY TAPAS GHOSH
 
Calcutta, July 4 
The army has stepped onto the golfing greens to raise a storm on the fairways.

Fort William Golf Club has taken the Indian Golf Union (IGU) to court, demanding equal representation with civilian members on the IGU council.

Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed the president, secretary and four other members of the IGU to be present in court on July 24 and show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for violating the court’s order to maintain status quo on the IGU council.

According to the army, although it controls 70 per cent of the 154 golf clubs under the IGU, it is denied “proper representation” and say in the tournaments conducted by civilian members of the IGU.

Fort William Golf Club had earlier demanded an election to pick the 13 members of the IGU council. The court’s interim order to maintain status quo was issued against this plea.

On Tuesday, before Justice D.P. Sengupta, representatives of the army alleged that the IGU had violated the court order and inducted two more members —- Lakshman Singh, RCGC captain and a top official in Williamson and Magor, and S.N. Kidwai of Tata Tea —- into the council.

The army counsel produced a letter in court, written by the IGU president, admitting that Singh and Kidwai were included in “interim vacancy”.

The new members, along with the other four members of the council —- K.N. Rajagopal, president, IGU; P.K. Bhattacharya, secretary, IGU; Anup Singh of ITC and Raghu Modi of the Rasoi Group — have been directed by the court to appear before it on July 25.

Colonel Arun Kumar Opal, on behalf of Fort William Golf Club, filed a suit against the IGU in November last year, demanding the court’s intervention in the matter.

Pratap Chatterjee and Debangshu Mondal appeared in court on behalf of the army and alleged that the apex body was keeping the army members in the dark about the functioning of the IGU.

For example, they claimed that the IGU was not ready to disclose where and how an amount of Rs 4 lakh was spent on the Indian team in a tournament in Malaysia. They had a right to know the fund flow, the army claimed.

According to a representative, Fort William is protesting “the monopoly that a group of industrialists has over the apex body of the game”.

Onthe other hand, the charge being levelled against the army is that it is meddling in the affairs of a civilian body.    


 
 
A FAMILY OF FOUR IN QUEST OF KILLER CABBIE 
 
 
BY DEBASISH CHATTOPADHYAY
 
Calcutta, July 4 
It’s been over two months since 62-year-old Mira Guha passed away. But her husband and three children have not been able to rest in peace, as the cause of her death continues to stalk the streets.

At 6 am, on April 20, 62-year-old Mira Guha, a resident of Dilkhusa Street, had stepped out for her routine morning walk. She had been doing so for the past four years, under instructions from her family physician, to combat cholesterol and diabetes. Only, that morning, she would not return home.

After picking up some sweets for granddaughter Sreyashi, she was on her way back when, at the crossing of Bridge no. 4 at Park Circus, she was hit by a speeding taxi coming from the ‘wrong’ direction. The taxi driver sped away as the elderly lady lay bleeding on the street.

She was rushed to Repose Nursing Home. But it was too late. Mira Guha died that morning.

“We were waiting for her because we used to have tea together after she came back from her walk. It was about 6.30 am when the phone rang... It was nothing but ill-fate,” laments husband Nitin. “She used to be very careful while crossing roads. But what could she do, with the taxi coming from the wrong side?”

Adds daughter Sarmistha: “An FIR was lodged with Karaya police station the same day by the nursing home, but since then, not a single policeman has turned up to conduct an inquiry into the accident that claimed my mother’s life.”

On that fateful April morning, locals had been quick to inform the family of the accident, but no one could take down the registration number of the taxi.

“It is not possible for us to give the progress report of the case because the FIR of such cases are initially lodged in the local police stations but then, for the follow-up, the family should contact the fatal squad of traffic police (FSTP) at Lalbazar,” was all that an officer at Karaya police station had to say when this correspondent inquired about the long-pending case.

When the FSTP at Lalbazar was contacted, the attitude was just the same: “It is not possible for us to give a prompt reply. At best, we can say the investigations are going on.”

An officer at the FSTP department even said: “People must be more conscious about traffic rules. Eight people have died in early morning road accidents, some due to the drivers’ mistake, the rest due to the pedestrians’ fault.”

Anup Kumar Chatterjee, joint commissioner of police (traffic) said: “People should be alert while crossing the road, especially early in the morning or late at night, when drivers tend to step on the accelerator.”

He, however, expressed surprise that no one had knocked on the door of the Guha family to inquire about the accident.

Now, husband Nitin, son Neelay and daughters Sarmistha and Sangeeta are dashing off letters to newspapers and going around conducting their own inquiries in the neighbourhood — all in a desperate bid to track down the killer cabbie who changed their lives forever.

Convicted for murder: Muhammed Jalil Ali Mollah was convicted on Tuesday by the sessions court judge of Alipore for the murder of Govin Manga in Ajanta Apartments, on Gurusaday Dutt Road, in March 1994.

Boy drowned:A 13-year-old boy, Chandra Kumar Pal, a resident of Taratala, was drowned in a pond near his house. His body was found on Tuesday.

Tangra explosions: Two blasts rocked D.C. Dey Road, in Tangra, early on Tuesday. Bomb disposal squad personnel rushed over to investigate, but found nothing.    


 
 
MURDER SPARKS MOB RAMPAGE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 4 
A crowded area of Dum Dum was rocked by mob fury on Tuesday after the brutal killing of a resident by a man freshly out of jail.

Residents of Japur, on the northern fringe of Calcutta, torched the house of a local criminal, Shyam Buro, who had on Monday night shot dead Shambhu Mondol, 34, a transport operator known in the area for his charitable work. Shyam fled after the killing. Police have failed to find the motive for the murder.

Police said the incident took place around 11.15 pm on Monday night, while the victim was washing his mini-truck. Shyam arrived and shot him from point-blank range. Two bullets pierced Shambhu’s chest.

On hearing the gunshots, residents rushed to the spot and saw Shambhu lying in a pool of blood. He was rushed to RG Kar Hospital. After an eight-hour battle for life, Shambhu succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday morning.

As news of the death spread in the area, residents turned violent and attacked the killer’s house. They dragged Shyam’s family members out of the house before ransacking it. Finally, they doused the house with kerosene and set it ablaze. A bandh-like stillness prevailed later, with shopkeepers downing their shutters and residents remaining indoors.

Dum Dum police station officer-in-charge Subhash Sen said Shyam was a notorious criminal and wanted in several cases, including murder. Neighbours said Shambhu’s mini-truck was doing well for its owner, and Shyam would often come over and extort money from the victim.    


 
 
PREFECTS CONDUCT JUNIOR CLASSES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 4 
Classes were affected at La Martiniere Schools for Boys and Girls on Tuesday due to a pen-down strike called by the staff associations.

A majority of the teachers and employees stayed away from work. The authorities, however, kept the schools open and student attendance was normal. Prefects of the senior classes were asked to monitor their juniors and take classes. Only the kindergarten section in the boys’ school was shut.

Dilip Bhattacharya and J. Dasgupta, general secretary and president of the staff association, said a majority of the staff had responded spontaneously to the strike. When contacted, the school authorities refused to comment.

This is the first time that teachers of La Martiniere are confronting the management. The staff association observed the strike protesting against the authorities’ refusal to implement the revised pay scales and other financial benefits to the teachers.

Trouble has been brewing over revised pay-scales that have not been implemented for a year in the two schools run by a trust headed by the Bishop of the Church of North India (CNI) in Calcutta.    

 

FRONT PAGE / NATIONAL / EDITORIAL / BUSINESS / THE EAST / SPORTS
ABOUT US /FEEDBACK / ARCHIVE 
 
Maintained by Web Development Company