Doc alert on Calcutta waistline
University set to declare Part I results by month-end
‘Disturbed’ tag on Kasba
Passengers robbed on auto, trader shot
CM pledges filtered water for entire city
Campus row over space reshuffle
Doctors cease work, medicine shops closed
NLFT man killed by rival outfit
Precise tiger survey in N-E difficult: Expert
Political crisis in Manipur may worsen

Calcutta, Nov. 24: 
Calcuttans, watch that waistline! For ‘Syndrome X’ is here, and growing. Eating habits and lifestyles are leading to obesity and a host of other diseases that are collectively clustered by the medical world as Syndrome X. And if any one of these diseases strikes, it almost invariably leads to others, point out doctors disturbed by the trend.

Syndrome X covers central obesity (fat in abdomen, as opposed to generalised obesity), heart disease, hypertension, lipid disorders and Type-II diabetes.

There may be no statistics as yet, but the trend clearly shows that big is bad. Consider these:

The nutrition and metabolic diseases department of the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine has started focussing attention on over-nutrition. The school proposes to carry out a multi-centric study on the problem;

The School of Tropical Medicine and other centres in the private sector are treating more and more centrally-obese patients;

The nutrition department of the Calcutta-based All-India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health has found that obesity and over-nutrition-related diseases are on the rise;

There has been a mushrooming of slimming and health centres as well as gyms all over the city;

For the first time ever, the Indian Medical Association has decided to observe an Anti-Obesity Day (November 26) to create awareness about the syndrome.

VLCC will be holding an awareness meet along with the IMA on November 25.

A prominent endocrinologist in Calcutta had to bring in a special scale some months back, a scale that could measure weights of more than 120 kg. The specialist is getting at least three patients a month who are grossly overweight and need this special scale. Besides this, it has become normal for him to attend to two new patients a day who approach him with obesity and related diseases.

That Calcuttans are becoming overweight is also clear from the rapid rise in the number of slimming centres and gymnasiums around the city. One such centre, VLCC, has treated 2,500 patients in one year alone and has another 1,523 on its current roster.

Doctors say that there has been a significant jump in overweight problems over the past four or five years, even among schoolchildren. “The problem is becoming so prevalent that we estimate between 20 to 40 per cent adults and 10 to 20 per cent children have obesity,” says Dr Prem Aggarwal, general secretary of IMA headquarters. “Obesity can occur at any age and increases with age. Men gain excessive weight between 20 and 35, while for women it is usually between 45 and 49.”

Says Dr Debashis Majhi, endocrinologist: “Everyone is buying food items from the open market and the propensity to eat has gone up. Calorie intakes are far higher than what they were even 10 years back.”

Says Prof. P.S. Chattopadhyay, head of STM’s nutrition department, “As a person’s affluency increases, his intake of fatty, refined and rich foods increases. The growth of fast-food centres, where fat, sugar, salt and oil are in abundance and fibre hardly finds a place is doing a lot of harm.”

Doctors are stressing that obesity, a chronic disease, can lead to a number of complications like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease, gall bladder problems, even certain forms of cancer. “Obesity because of other diseases, like thyroid, are occurring much less,” doctors say.

Says Preetam Mukherjee, a young health instructor who runs a gym in south Calcutta: “Most Calcuttans have grown up having dinner at 9.30-10. And soon after dinner, they go to sleep. This is not right for the body, as calories get converted to fat instead of food. The best digestion takes place between 8 am and 4 pm,” he adds.

Doctors are, at the end of the day, putting it down to “sedentary lifestyle, wrong diet, and lack of exercise”. The bottomline: Calcuttans are eating more than they should and exercising less than they could.    

Calcutta, Nov. 24: 
The results of Calcutta University’s B.A. and B.Sc. Part-I examinations will be announced on November 29 or 30. Nearly 80,000 students appeared for the examinations held in May and the results have been due since September.

The examiners have submitted the marks this week, university officials said. “We are now preparing the marksheets,” said an official of the university’s results section. A gazette containing the results will be released simultaneously.

“Our employees are working round-the-clock to ensure that the results can be announced by Thursday. The results will be declared by the end of the month unless there is a sudden, unforeseen problem, like disruption in power supply or a fault in our machines,” said Onkar Sadhan Adhikari, controller of examinations.

Publication of this year’s results was delayed due to “non-availability of an adequate number of examiners”. The situation worsened after the floods with many college teachers in the districts, recruited by the university to examine answer-scripts, failing to meet the deadline.

With students getting restive, and even taking to the streets demanding “no further delay” in publication of results, vice-chancellor Ashis Kumar Banerjee took up the matter. Earlier this months, he summoned all head-examiners and directed them to complete correction and tabulation “as soon as possible”.

But many examinees fear that it’s “too late” already. “We just have four months to go for our Part-II examinations. The wait for our Part-I results is dragging on and on. How can we be expected to start preparations?” demanded a student of a central Calcutta college.    

Calcutta, Nov. 24: 
Five days after twin dacoities rocked the Kasba-Purba Jadavpur area, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee decided on Friday to declare the entire area “disturbed” after a meeting with senior officials in the morning.

Expressing displeasure at the tardy pace of progress in cracking the cases, the chief minister reportedly told top police officials that “everyone else but the criminals” are being arrested by the police.

It was following this dressing-down that inspector-general of police Ajoy Prasad issued a memo declaring the area as “disturbed” and asked the superintendents of police of the adjoining districts to rush in additional forces to combat crime in the dacoity-prone area. With police checkposts being set up at all major entry points to this area, the police on Friday hoped that the criminals would soon be caught. However, Bhattacharjee has not been impressed by this. With growing allegations of a criminal-police nexus, he had asked for a detailed report of specific cases where policemen were known to be hobnobbing with criminals.

After receiving the report he has asked for the following cases to be investigated:

Choto Selim, a crimelord of South 24-Parganas and prime accused in the Regent Park dacoity case, is known to be close to officials of the detective department.

A few months ago, when officials of the South 24-Parganas police went to his house to look for him, his wife apparently told them not to bother him as Selim had been offered “protection” by these officials after he had given his word not to commit any crime in the city police areas.

A Sonarpur police station officer used to “employ” some local toughs to extort money from lorries and trucks plying through his area.

A criminal of the Bishnupur-Poilan area enjoys the patronage of the local police station. Recently, during a raid conducted in the area by the detective department, the Bishnupur police station was kept in the dark, fearing a possible tip-off to the criminal.

An officer of Purba Jadavpur police station is known to frequent the residence of criminal Sheikh Vinod.

A senior officer overseeing anti-crime operations in the Kasba-Tiljala area is known to be close to the wife of Halim Sheikh, a criminal of Joynagar, involved in several dacoities.

A criminal of the Kasba area, known as “Anilda”, is known to be “friendly” with the local police, who frequented a liquor den run by him at Sahid Smriti. Only after they realised that the dacoits of the area also were regular visitors to the joint did they arrest Anil.

Meanwhile, the police carried out extensive raids in slums on either side of the EM Bypass after residents of Metropolitan Housing Cooperative, Tagore Park and Gold Park complained these slums were the “breeding ground” for criminals.

At the end of the exercise, 12 persons were arrested and some arms and ammunition recovered from them.

Dr T.D. Bhattacharya, who lives in Metropolitan Housing Cooperative and in whose house there have been four dacoities in the past two years, feels these are “futile” exercises unless permanent pickets are set up there. “I have a feeling the police action will vanish once news of the dacoities disappear from the pages of the newspapers,” Bhattacharya said. “I hope the new chief minister at least keeps to his promise of a better law and order situation.”    

Calcutta, Nov. 24: 
After Kasba, Baruipur. Two armed men robbed passengers of an autorickshaw late on Thursday and shot a businessmen who refused to hand over the cash he was carrying.

Police said the two goons boarded the auto at Sitakundu, in Baruipur town, after 9 pm.

When they reached a deserted spot, the dacoits put a gun to the driver’s head, forcing him to stop the vehicle. They then proceeded to rob the passengers of cash and valuables.

But Harilal Saha, 30, refused to part with the money he was carrying back home. In the scuffle, the two armed men opened fire. As Saha fell to the ground, bleeding from the head, the dacoits decamped with Rs 8,000.

The auto-driver sounded the alarm and then, along with some local residents, rushed Saha to the nearby Baruipur Sadar Hospital. From there, he was shifted to SSKM Hospital.

On Friday evening, doctors at SSKM said “Saha’s condition is grave” as the bullet which entered his head is yet to extricated.

The police said no arrests have been carried out so far though a number of people were detained for interrogation during the day.

In a related development, local businessmen submitted a memorandum to the Baruipur police station, demanding adequate security. Local Trinamul Congress leader Samir Chakraborty said: “Of late, the incidents of dacoity and robbery have increased alarmingly in the area but the police is not taking any action.”    

Calcutta, Nov. 24: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has promised filtered water for the entire city “very soon”. Bhattacharjee was inaugurating the Calcutta water supply management project at a function in a city hotel on Friday.

The project to improve the drinking water supply system in the city and stop leaks will be implemented jointly by French company Vivendi Water and Seureca Space. Fifty per cent of the funds will be provided by the French company under Indo-French Protocol Cooperation and the rest will be borne by the CMC.

The project also includes a detailed survey and mapping of the underground water pipeline, monitoring the flow and pressure of the water, installation of water meter for industrial, commercial and institutional customers, development of water-management software, detection of leaks and repair facilities, stopping wastage of water and improving supply.

Speaking on the occasion, at which mayor Subrata Mukherjee was also present, the chief minister said his government was giving top priority to the improvement of the city’s drinking water supply and the sewerage system.

“Residents of Jadavpur, Behala and Garden Reach do not get filtered water through the pipeline. We are determined to meet their demand,” Bhattacharjee said, urging the mayor to speed up work on this project.

Promising all help to the CMC, Bhattacharjee told the mayor that political colour should not influence development progress.

“We may belong to different political banners, but our object is to provide better civic amenities to the people of Calcutta,’’ the chief minister told the mayor.    

Calcutta, Nov. 24: 
A Calcutta University decision to cut into excess space in some departments at Ballygunge Science College has sparked a row between supporters of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and a section of the university’s teachers, who have refused to give up their rooms.

The SFI activists on Thursday threatened that they would break open the doors of the extra rooms in each department if the teachers did not hand over the keys immediately. The teachers are unwilling to give up the rooms, which they claim had used for years.

The university plans a thorough reshuffle of space to meet the requirement of extra rooms for expansion of some of its post-graduate courses and the opening new courses in more subjects.

Post-graduate courses in new subjects have become a necessity now, following a strong demand from a large number of honours graduates who could not get berths in the university’s post-graduate courses this year due to shortage of seats in its colleges.

Post-graduate courses in subjects like micro-biology, bio-technology and environment science have already started on the Ballygunge Science College campus.

As a part of its “space management” scheme, the university will ask some departments to run “unauthorised” societies on the campus. Some departments like geology, geography and botany have their own society offices on the campus. These societies are mainly engaged in carrying out activities like organising seminars and publishing journals.

The students, who are backing the authorities’ move, said departments like geology, geography, anthroplogy, statistics and mathematics had been occupying extra space for decades. They claimed some teachers had converted spacious rooms into personal offices.

“We want a rational distribution of space. Why should the authorities allow such luxury to teachers when several hundred students are sitting idle without any facility for higher education?” asked Manan Mondal, leader of the SFI-dominated students’ union of Calcutta University.

The teachers are irked by the “aggressive” stance of their students. “It is unthinkable that we have to act according to their whims. It is more suprising that the authorities are listening to them,” said a geology department teacher, preferring anonymity.    

Calcutta, Nov. 24: 
Nearly 100 doctors observed a day’s cease-work on Friday to protest Tuesday’s assault on a physician. Altogether 300 medicines shops in the Behala, Thakurpukur and New Alipore areas were closed during the strike called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Aloke Chatterjee, an employee of Behala Balananda Hospital, said patients admitted to local hospitals and their relatives had to face a tough time on Friday as there was no medicine shop open in the area.

Uday Sarkar, a shop-owner, said: “Patients’ kin urged me to keep my shop open but it was not possible for me. We admit it is inhumane, but it was our organisation’s decision to protest the attack on a doctor,” Sarkar added.

Sanker Banerjee, secretary of IMA’s Behala branch, said the day’s ceasework passed off peacefully. “All the shops will reopen on Saturday,” he added.

Trouble began on Tuesday when Sanjib De Sagar, the physician,was assaulted after the death of a 19-year-old boy, Kausik Dutta. Kausik, a heart patient, was admitted to Balananda Hospital and was being treated by De Sagar.

“After receiving anonymous calls threatening him with ‘dire consequences’ for the past two days, we called the cease-work on Friday,” Banerjee said.    

Agartala, Nov. 24: 
The outlawed All-Tripura Tiger Force militants gunned down a National Liberation Front of Tripura collaborator yesterday.

Sources said the killing raised possibilities of clashes between the two rival outfits in the Sadar (north) area.

Police sources said a jeep carrying tribal passengers to Barkathal was stopped by Tiger Force rebels at 2 pm in Kutnabari. They dragged out NLFT collaborator Sudhan Debbarma and killed him.

Sources said Bangladesh-based Tiger Force leaders have allegedly sent a heavily-armed group to Sadar (north) to extort money and abduct affluent Bengalis from semi-urban areas to earn hefty ransom money.

The outfit suffered setbacks recently following desertion from its ranks and Jamatya hoda okra Bikram Bahadur’s call to abstain from paying “tax”.

Sources said the police today identified the body of the tribal recovered from Ghilatoli Cherra on Wednesday as that of Puniram Debbarma of remote Watilong village under Kalyanpur police station.

The motive behind the killing and the identity of the culprits were not clear, the sources added.    

Guwahati, Nov. 24: 
An accurate estimate of the tiger population in the Northeast is difficult due to the inaccessibility of certain areas, according to director of Project Tiger, P.K.Sen.

A major part of the Manas National Park — famous for its tigers — is still inaccessible due to various reasons, including militancy.

Sen, who was in the city to discuss the progress of Project Tiger in the Northeast, told The Telegraph that the tiger population in the Northeast could increase as conditions in the region were good for its survival.

However, he said it had become virtually impossible to keep track of the tiger population in Manas and certain other wildlife habitats.

“There are not enough personnel who are ready to go deep inside Manas. There is also a shortage of vehicles,” a park official said.

During his discussions with forest officials, Sen noted down the problems faced by the northeastern states in implementing Project Tiger.

The officials told Sen that apart from insurgency, a major problem was the attitude of wildlife conservation staff who come to the region on deputation.

There are four tiger reserves in the Northeast — Manas in Assam, Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh, Dumpa in Mizoram and Pakoi-Nameri in Assam-Arunachal Pradesh. The last one is an inter-state tiger reserve.

The total tiger population in the region is estimated to be at least 220.

According to a forest official, not more than 1,500 square km of the Manas National Park, which has an area of 2,857 square km, is accessible. “The park area near Haltugaon in Kokrajhar district is not accessible at all,” he said.

Apart from Manas, tigers are found in Orang, Dibru-Saikhowa and the Jeypore reserve forest.

Sen said Rs 292.77 lakh had been sanctioned for conservation work in four tiger habitats in the Northeast. He claimed that of the Rs 1 crore that was sanctioned for Manas, Rs 70 lakh had remained unutilised.

However, a source said money had not been released for conservation work in Manas since 1997-98. “Not a single penny has been released for recurring expenses over the past three years. The park has been subsisting solely on money released from the eco-development fund,” he said.    

Imphal, Nov. 24: 
The war of attrition between Manipur chief minister W. Nipamacha Singh and Speaker Sapam Dhananjoy is set to spark a constitutional crisis in the state.

Backed by the Opposition, Dhananjoy is planning to oust Nipamacha Singh by using the defection cases against nine legislators to split the United Front of Manipur. However, the ruling coalition appears to be ready to stave off a possible crisis. The chief minister has announced that he would move a no-confidence motion against the Speaker during the winter session of the Assembly.

Dhananjoy, who seemed to be testing the waters by disqualifying horticulture minister Thangminlen Kipgen from the Assembly last week, received a jolt when the Guwahati High Court stayed his order yesterday.

However, all is not lost for the Speaker as cases against eight other members of the ruling coalition are still pending with him. He could also use a constitutional aberration by his predecessor, K. Babudhon Singh, to turn the tables on Nipamacha Singh.

Babudhon Singh had put his seal of approval on the defection of Kipgen and eight of his colleagues to the Manipur State Congress Party despite ceasing to be the Speaker after losing the Assembly elections.

Veteran Congress leader and former chief minister Rishang Keishing today said Dhananjoy could very well interpret the step taken by Babudhon Singh as a precedent and initiate proceedings against Nipamacha Singh for “wrongly splitting” the Congress in 1997. “If the previous Speaker can recognise a split in the present Assembly, the current Speaker can also take steps against errant legislators of the last Assembly,” Keishing told newspersons here today.

Babudhon Singh continued to function as the Speaker even after Keishing was nominated as pro tem Speaker after the Assembly elections.

“If Babudhon Singh’s order is considered legitimate, Dhananjoy can also initiate steps against Nipamacha Singh, who wrongly split the Congress in 1997,” said Congress leader Nimaichand Luwang.

He said if the ruling UFM continued to interpret the Constitution in a manner that suited its objectives, the Opposition could take the cue and press for Nipamacha Singh’s disqualification from the Assembly on charges of illegally engineering a split in the Congress.

Blaming Nipamacha Singh for the political turmoil in Manipur, Keishing said he had no right to continue in office any longer. The veteran Congressman was today seen in the Speaker’s bungalow for the first time since the oust-Nipamacha campaign was launched.

Asked whether the BJP and Congress could stick together in the event of the UFM ministry being dissolved, Keishing said, “It is like hunting. Please do not ask how to eat the meat even before the animal is killed.”

He said despite fundamental and ideological differences, the two parties would support each other to achieve the common goal of ousting Nipamacha Singh. “I am sure we can strike a mutually-beneficial deal as and when we have to form an alternative government,” he added.    


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