Gastro outbreak in camps
City schools sweep stakes
Chaos signal in Mamata roadshow
A yen for Hrithik and research
Funds-cut threat over civic bodies
Driver blamed in heist case
Basu prod for canal revamp
Man poisons three children

Agartala, July 20 
The outbreak of gastroenteric diseases and malaria due to consumption of contaminated water has taken a heavy toll in the six Reang refugees camps in Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura.

According to official statistics, 937 people, mostly children, have died of various diseases since October 1997, when Reang tribesmen entered North Tripura as refugees from Mizoram.

Nearly 66 people have died in Santipara and Naisingpara refugee camps during the past three months. Official sources said the list of the deceased was still being compiled.

However, the nine persons who died in Naisingpara refugee camp during the past month have been identified as Gatherung Reang, Saindyabati Reang, Jouchhuama Reang, A. Reang, Udati Reang, Chantrinomoi Reang, Rinchhana Reang, and Kansimohan Reang.

Of those who died in the Santipara camp, three persons were identified — Lalsingama Reang, Buddhijay Reang and Purnijay Reang. Official sources said most of the deaths occurred because of consumption of contaminated water.

Leader of the refugees in Gachhirampara camp Vansangamsa Reang said malnutrition caused by lack of food and contaminated water had resulted in the deaths. “Of the 35,000 refugees sheltered in the six camps of North Tripura, over 2,000 have not been given ration cards yet. The other inmates have to share their ration with these people to save them from starvation”, he added.

Relief and rehabilitation minister Pabitra Kar recently said Rs 15 lakh have been spent on providing potable water to the camp inmates. However, Kanchanpur sub-divisional officer Uttam Chakma recently admitted that water supply for the camps was inadequate.

Besides, sources in Kanchanpur said lack of medicare was also responsible for the high death toll. Though a medical team is supposed to visit the camps once a week, it visits the camps once in a blue moon, they added.    

Calcutta, July 20 
Better-known schools in the city excelled in this year’s Higher Secondary (HS) examinations, the results of which were published by the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education on Thursday.

Unlike the merit list of the Madhyamik examinations, dominated by institutions from the districts and suburbs, the better-known schools of the city topped the HS merit list, thereby indicating that the academic standards of such institutions were superior to those in the backwaters.

Ramakrishna Mission-run schools at Narendrapur and Rahara dominated the merit list. Seven out of the 38 students placed in the first 20 ranks are from them, followed by South Point School.

“Students both from the city and the districts have done well this time,” said the council president, Sudin Chattopadhay.

The pass percentage in the examination is 64.30 per cent, against 64.77 per cent last year. The examination, taken by 361,983 students, was held in March. The results were declared within 43 days of its completion. Sayak Ray, of Hindu School, stood first, scoring 970 out of a total of 1000 marks.

Barna Saha, of Siliguri Girls’ High School in north Bengal, came a close second, scoring 965 marks.

Priyanko Mitra of South Point School, in south Calcutta, stood third,with 948 marks.

The marksheets were distributed to students by their respective institutions in Calcutta and elsewhere in the districts on Thursday. The provisional merit list released by the Council at the time of announcement of the results showed that altogether 38 students were placed in the first 20 ranks.

While Ramakrishna Mission, Narendrapur and Rahara, held pride of place on the merit list this year, five students from South Point School alone figured on the list. Other than South Point and Hindu School, nine other city schools, including Bethune Collegiate, Patha Bhavan, Hare School, Jadavpur Vidyapith, Gokhale Memorial and Laban Hrad Vidyapith, too, have made it to the merit list.

Many well-known schools, however, could not make it to the merit lists. But a high success rate was recorded in most of the good schools like Modern High, St Lawrence, St Xavier’s, Loreto House, Jodhpur Park Girls’ School and Carmel Convent. In most of these schools, the success rate was hundred per cent.

According to Chattopadhyay, this year, more students secured first division marks than last year. This time, 32,630 candidates have bagged first division marks, against 25,889 in the 1999 examinations.

The number of examinees who secured second division marks, too, has risen this year, Chattopadhyay said. In all, 83,787 students have secured second division marks, against 67,914 last year.

Chattopadhyay said apart from the complete state-level merit list, the Council had for the first time released a district-wise merit lists of students.

“We have distributed the pass certificates to every student along with their marksheets,” the Council president said.

Results of the HS vocational courses, too, were announced on Thursday. The president expressed concern over the number of failures in the examination this time.

The overall success rate was slightly higher last year. The number of failures has increased this time because more students had enrolled to appear in the examinations. In 1999, the number of failures was 42,948. This year, the figure has risen to 77,708.    

Calcutta, July 20 
The city is likely to witness the formation of an anti-CPM mahajot on Friday, with Trinamaul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee formally inviting key state Congress functionaries, including PCC chief A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury, to attend her mass rally at Esplanade.

In the process, traffic in the city centre will be thrown completely out of gear from noon, with eight processions converging at the Dharamtala Street-Jawaharlal Nehru Road crossing.

DC headquarters, Calcutta Police, Nazrul Islam said “no official permission” had been sought for the rally. But Trinamul youth wing chief Sanjoy Bakshi claimed that the party had “written to the Calcutta Police in January”.

Adequate police arrangements will be in place to “maintain peace and order” during the meeting. All Esplanade-bound traffic will be diverted to ease congestion.

While Ghani Khan will be arriving from Malda, a number of state BJP leaders, including Union minister of state for telecommunications Tapan Sikdar, and all major Trinamul members will be present at the rally.

Mamata will formally launch her party’s campaign for next year’s Assembly polls at the rally. The railway minister, who will tour the state after the monsoon session of Parliament, will meet all district party leaders on Saturday to finalise her campaign plans.

Justifying the party’s decision to invite state Congress leaders, Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy said: “We have to prove that an anti-CPM grand alliance already exists after the civic polls. We are determined to strengthen it to remove the CPM from power in the forthcoming Assembly elections.”

State Youth Congress chief and MLA Paresh Pal has reciprocated the gesture by inviting his Trinamul counterpart, Sanjay Bakshi, to a proposed rally in the city on August 9.

The move assumes special significance in the wake of the Congress councillors’ decision to extend “unconditional support” to the Trinamul-BJP board in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.

Meanwhile, Mamata led an 18-member delegation to Raj Bhavan on Thursday afternoon to apprise Governor Viren J. Shah of the “alarming law and order situation in the state” and request him to “invoke constitutional provisions to ensure security of the people”.    

Calcutta, July 20 
Two of the top three share a common hero: Hrithik Roshan.

All three share a common goal: pursuit of a career in academics after graduating from Jadavpur University.

For Sayak Ray of Hindu School, Barna Saha of Siliguri Girls’ High School and Priyanko Mitra of South Point School, who bagged the first three slots in the Higher Secondary examinations, “scientific research” or “teaching” is the preferred profession.

Sayak has obtained 970 out of 1000 marks. Surrounded by relatives at their Hari Ghosh Street residence in north Calcutta, a smiling Sayak said: “I will study computer science at Jadavpur University. While I would like to go to the US for research, I have no ambition at this stage to work in a multinational firm and settle abroad. I have a strong desire to stick to academics and become a teacher.”

Son of a Calcutta Port Trust employee, Sayak had stood second in Madhyamik two years ago.

He has bagged the eighth position in the joint entrance examination for engineering and the 24th spot for medical.

While expressing “gratitude” to his parents for getting him “good tutors for all subjects” and to “all school teachers” for backing him all the way, Sayak regretted that Hindu School “lacks modern facilities like computers, proper laboratories and a library”.

Barna Saha, who stood second with 965, aims to become a research scientist in “pure chemistry”.

In the city to attend a counselling programme for admission to engineering and medical colleges, Barna said: “I came to know about my results from some newsmen of a television channel, who rang me up at my uncle’s Beleghata residence.”

Her parents, recuperating after surgery, had to stay back in Siliguri.

“I would have been happier if my parents had been by my side in this hour of joy,” Barna said softly. She has qualified in the joint entrance examination and will soon join Jadavpur University, but it’s her love for chemistry that is the driving force.

Barna’s mother teaches chemistry in a Siliguri school, and her father is a teacher of mathematics in North Bengal University.

Unlike Sayak, who has no time for films, Barna is a “huge fan” of Hrithik Roshan.

So is Priyanko Mitra of South Point, who stood third with 948. “I have seen Kaho Na... Pyar Hai thrice,” confessed Priyanko. “I really liked Hrithik and I loved the music.”

Priyanko’s passions are music — from Bollywood chartbusters to the sound of Yanni — and cricket.

A keen cricketer himself, and a regular member of his para team, Priyanko laments the fact that “cricket is no longer a gentleman’s game”. “All the villains in the match-fixing scandal should be exposed,” he declares.

Son of an electrical engineer, the South Point boy will take up electronics and information technology at Jadavpur University, after bagging the 24th spot in the state joint entrance examination of engineering.    

Calcutta, July 20 
The government will not disburse funds to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) unless it forms ward committees to streamline urban governance.

State urban development minister Asoke Bhattacharya said on Thursday that ward committees were mandatory bodies under the Constitution and a notification to that effect would be issued shortly. The minister said his department will write to mayor, Subrata Mukherjee to draw up the ward committees within two months. Congress councillors had stalled the formation of these committees in the last council of the CMC.

“We want a better and transparent civic administration,” Bhattacharya said, adding that the CMC must set the example for the rest of the state.

Bhattacharya said funds will be disbursed up to 70 per cent of the allotted amount in exchange of proper utilisation certificates. “The ward committees, which will have people from all political parties, can ensure that money is properly spent,” Bhattacharya said. “It is people’s participation we are looking for, not bureaucratic sloth,” he added.

Bhattacharya said 30 per cent of the funds will be disbursed according to productivity. “The civic bodies will have to step up tax collection and tap other revenue sources to become self-sufficient,” he added.

Councillors, chairmen and even civic officials would be trained by experts from the Institute of Local Governance and Urban Studies, the minister said.    

Calcutta, July 20 
The woman accountant of a stock-broking firm who masterminded an operation to loot Rs 2 lakh from the company coffers at gunpoint with her son, told detectives during interrogation that her driver, Kusari, had floated the idea of the robbery.

Fifty-year-old Padma Krishnamurthy, her son Ranjan and another youth were caught while escaping from the sharebroker’s office off India Exchange Place on Wednesday. Deputy commissioner of police (DD) Narayan Ghosh said the driver contested the allegations and said Krishnamurthy had conceived the plan herself and asked him to drive the car and get some toughs as back-up in case of trouble. “She agreed to a 50-50 share of the loot,’’ Kusari told the police.

Krishnamurthy told detectives that her son had suffered a loss of several lakhs in his stock-broking business recently. “To offset that loss, she planned the robbery,’’ a detective said.    

Calcutta, July 20 
Chief minister Jyoti Basu has directed the state transport department to start revamping the 30-km canal network touching Bagbazar, Shyambazar, Beleghata, Ultadanga, Baguiati and VIP Road.

At a meeting with transport minister Subash Chakraborty, Basu stressed the need for “immediate implementation” of the Rs 80-crore project to desilt and beautify the canal. The project will be carried out by the Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation (TIDC), with technical assistance from British Waterways.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee and Chakraborty will meet shortly to identify “areas of cooperation” in the programme, which involves relocation of a few thousand encroachers from shanties along the canal to 10 acres of land off Bantala, in east Calcutta. “What is now referred to as ‘pochakhal’ will turn into something Calcuttans have neither seen nor imagined,” said Chakraborty.    

Ranchi, July 20 
A 45-year-old man, unable to bear his grinding poverty, fed his three minor children poisoned food before eating it himself.

All four were admitted to Nagarmal Modi Seva Sadan. While the children died in hospital, doctors said the condition of the father, Vishnu Prasad, is stable.

Prasad, a resident of the Chulia area of Ranchi worked at a gaddi in Upper Bazar which fetched him Rs 1,500 per month. However, he was finding it difficult to make both ends meet.

To add to his troubles, his wife died leaving him to care for the children.

Fed up with the situation, Prasad cooked khichri which he laced with poison and served the food to his children, Subhash, Shradha and Shweta. Soon all four began to vomit. Neighbours, hearing the children’s cries, rushed to the hut and took them to the hospital. The children’s bodies have been handed over to their relatives after a post mortem.    


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