Cops want orderly system scrapped
Water crisis spectre over Salt Lake
Buddha seeks private help in city planning
Polluting factories to be relocated
Gajapati tribals block highway
Tripura CM calls for end to militancy
Judicial probe into Orissa liquor deaths
CBI launches inquiry into Ranchi scam
N-E hydel project clears hurdle
Mawlong asks officers to be efficient

 
 
COPS WANT ORDERLY SYSTEM SCRAPPED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 17: 
Taking a cue from chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s advice not to be the “slaves” of seniors, members of the CPM-controlled Calcutta Police Association on Saturday criticised some senior police officers for not doing away with the orderly system. At a gathering of policemen at Lalbazar in January, Bhattacharjee had said that some senior officers still treated constables like domestic helps.

“We will socially boycott officers who treat us like servants,” said Pradyut Mondal, the association’s general secretary. He said that “drastic measures” would be taken if officers continued their “inhuman treatment.” The association threatened to launch a more intense movement if its demands were not met.

House collapse: A portion of a three-storeyed abandoned building on Jamunalal Bazar Street in Burrabazar collapsed on Saturday morning. No one was injured.

   

 
 
WATER CRISIS SPECTRE OVER SALT LAKE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 17: 
Salt Lake may face a severe water crisis this summer, with the Calcutta Municipal Corporation considering discontinuation of filtered water supply.

“We may have to stop supply to Salt Lake in view of the water crisis in the city,” mayor Subrata Mukherjee said on Saturday. A marathon meeting with all the mayor-in-council members, chief engineers and department heads was held at the Corporation headquarters on Saturday afternoon.

According to Trinamul Congress sources, the meeting was held at the instance of party leader Mamata Banerjee who talked to the mayor over the telephone on Saturday morning.

Mukherjee said the decision of the previous CPM-controlled civic board to supply 10 million gallons of filtered water to Salt Lake daily was imposing a burden on the Corporation. “When we cannot supply filtered water to our own tax-payers, how can we afford to provide water to the municipalities?” he said.

The decision to supply 10 million gallons of water to Salt Lake every day was taken after the water treatment plant at Palta with a capacity of 20 million gallons was commissioned.

Mukherjee claimed that the Palta water treatment plant was defective and was not equipped to produce even two million gallons of water a day.

Mukherjee will write to urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya to review the agreement in the light of the water crisis in the city. Funds will be sought from the state government to revive the Palta plant.

Sovan Chatterjee, mayor-in-council, water, said the CMC is planning to set up two more water treatment plants of a daily capacity of 20-million gallons each. Seven deep tubewells will be sunk and 18 others repaired.

Orders have been placed for sinking nearly 900 hand tubewells across the city.

Laxmi Sen dies

Veteran CPM leader and former party MLA Laxmi Sen died in Calcutta on Saturday. He was 82. Sen was taken to SSKM Hospital on Friday night after he complained of severe chest pain.

Sen was a member of the CPM state secretariat and was elected to the Assembly four times. He was associated with the party’s Calcutta district committee till his death.

   

 
 
BUDDHA SEEKS PRIVATE HELP IN CITY PLANNING 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 17: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has stressed that his government wants greater involvement of the private sector in city planning.

Speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Rs 80-crore City Centre in Salt Lake on Saturday, Bhattacharjee said such joint enterprises should be “the model to follow to take Calcutta forward”.

Earlier, unveiling the foundation stone for the Charles Correa signature project, former chief minister Jyoti Basu hoped this would be a “landmark in Calcutta when complete” and can become “a destination in itself”.

Later in the evening, Bhattacharjee, like most others present at the show, was “taken by surprise” at the inauguration of Swabhumi, the six-acre heritage park opposite Subhas Sarobar.

The park has been developed by Ganapati Parks Ltd, a joint-sector enterprise of Ambuja Cement and Calcutta Municipal Corporation.

“Swabhumi celebrates India with a focus on the East and will provide a year-round experience of diverse arts, crafts, cultures, music, folklore, pastime, entertainment and cuisines from all over the country,” explained Harshavardhan Neotia, who had conceptualised this venture.

“I think this will become a major tourist attraction in the city,” said Bhattacharjee.

“It’s unbelievable what they have done on this garbage dump within such a short span,” mayor Subrata Mukherjee said.

Swabhumi comprises the Sambhar, an urban plaza which provides shopping, stage shows and a mini-theatre, the Shilpagram offering crafts, entertainment, music, astrology and a banquet, and Santusthi, a multi-cuisine food court which also has a Coffee House, a Cha Ghar, an ayurvedic restaurant and a paan shop.

The park opens to the public on Monday.

   

 
 
POLLUTING FACTORIES TO BE RELOCATED 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Feb. 17: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said on Saturday that the state has formulated stringent guidelines to regulate and gradually shift industries out of the Calcutta Metropolitan Area. He was speaking at a seminar on ‘Environment: Dimensions and Issues’, organised by Nature Environment and Wildlife Society.

“We are earmarking polluting industries in the congested areas for relocation,” the chief minister said. The government would grant financial help to industries that were trying to clean up their act.

Environment minister Manab Mukherjee said there were inadequacies in the legal structure. “We are trying to introduce the Environment Protection Act to give teeth to the pollution control board,” Mukherjee said.

Issues related to urban pollution, forest and wetland depletion as well as conservation of bio-diversity were discussed at the seminar.

   

 
 
GAJAPATI TRIBALS BLOCK HIGHWAY 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Berhampur, Feb. 17: 
Tribals of three remote panchayats in Gajapati district blocked the state highway 17 at Birikote yesterday, disrupting traffic for over nine hours.

Among those caught in the traffic snarl cause by the blockade were four collectors and a deputy inspector-general of police, who were returning from a two-day conference on the problems of tribals living in the remote areas of south Orissa, held at the office of the revenue divisional commissioner (southern division) here.

Nearly 2,000 tribals from Guluba, Mandimera and Birikote panchayats started converging at the site since morning. They were demanding better civic amenities, a problem discussed at the conference here a day ago.

The detained officials tried to talk with the tribals, but the protesters demanded the assurance of Gajapati district officials in solving their problems.

Initially, officials from Mohana and then the subcollector of Gajapati tried to pacify the tribals, but they did not relent. They lifted the blockade at 6 pm, only after Gajapati collector Pradeep Panda reached the site in the evening and held talks with them for over two hours, promising to visit the panchayats today.

   

 
 
TRIPURA CM CALLS FOR END TO MILITANCY 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Feb. 17: 
Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar yesterday called for an early end to insurgency for economic development and uplift of backward tribals in the Northeast.

The region has been affected by insurgency since Independence due to economic backwardness, deprivation and unemployment, Sarkar said in the inaugural address of the 3rd north-eastern youth festival.

Describing militancy as a suicidal path, the chief minister said, “The misguided youth have become terrorists mainly out of frustration. We must take the responsibility to convince and bring them back to mainstream.”

“We, the chief ministers of all seven north-eastern states, appeal to the misguided youth operating under various insurgent outfits to give up the path of violence and return to normal life through peaceful negotiations,” he added.

He urged the insurgents not to act as surrogates to anti-national forces. The centre should treat insurgency in the Northeast as a “national problem” at par with Kashmir, he added.

The 3rd north-eastern youth festival, featuring sports and programmes by cultural troupes, comprising ethnic groups, got off to a colourful start. Tripura is represented by 19 tribal groups in the cultural programmes. A colourful procession by representatives from all seven states marched through the main thoroughfares of Agartala yesterday.

Three killed: Two youth, Biswakumar Singh and Tondonsana Singh, were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Manipur’s Churachandpur district late last night while the bullet-riddled body of an abducted youth was recovered from Bishenpur district yesterday, reports PTI.

   

 
 
JUDICIAL PROBE INTO ORISSA LIQUOR DEATHS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Bhubaneswar, Feb. 17: 
The Naveen Patnaik government today ordered a judicial probe into the recent liquor deaths, but ruled out any ex gratia to the families of the victims. Nineteen people in Bhubaneswar and Puri have died so far.

Though the government had ordered an administrative probe by the revenue divisional commissioner of the central division on Thursday, all Opposition parties including the Orissa Gana Parishad demanded a judicial probe.

The chief minister ordered the probe, to be conducted by a sitting Orissa High Court judge, after discussions with officials at his residence this evening. The government will write to the chief justice to appoint a judge for the purpose.

The death toll in the hooch tragedy in Bhubaneswar rose to nine with five more succumbing to the killer brew. Most of the deceased are villagers of Naharkanta, located on the outskirts of the city.

About a dozen others, who had consumed the brew, are being treated in the Capital Hospital after they complained of uneasiness.

The government has made it clear that no ex gratia would be paid to the next of kin of those who died. Excise minister Ananda Acharya told The Telegraph that there was no precedence to order any ex gratia to the families of the victims. “There have been such tragedies in the past. But there are no instances of any kind of ex gratia,” he said.

In the Cuttack hooch tragedy in 1992, the then chief minister Biju Patnaik had also refused to give any ex gratia to the families of the deceased.

Prasanna Acharya, Biju Janata Dal secretary general and brother of Excise minister Ananda Acharya, was the Excise minister during the Cuttack tragedy. Acharya said raids in illegal liquor outlets have been intensified all over the state. More than 100 people have been arrested in this connection. In Khurda and Puri districts, police and Excise officials arrested more than 60 people, allegedly involved in the illegal trade.

The government also suspended three more Excise officials including an inspector. Six Excise officials of Puri were suspended on Thursday for negligence of duty. The chief minister has ordered that the collectors and the superintendents of police would be held responsible for hooch deaths in their individual districts.

New Chief Justice: Justice N.Y. Hanumanthappa was today sworn in as the new Chief Justice of Orissa at a simple function here today, adds PTI.

   

 
 
CBI LAUNCHES INQUIRY INTO RANCHI SCAM 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Ranchi, Feb. 17: 
A team from the New Delhi unit of the CBI today launched a probe into the multi-crore Ranchi municipal corporation scam.

The scam involves under-assessment of municipal tax, unadjusted advances to employees worth over Rs 1 crore, registration of tribal lands located outside the Ranchi municipal area and undervaluation of property causing reduced revenue collections over a 10-year period since 1991.

Sources said early last year, following a reference by the Ranchi deputy commissioner, the then Ranchi bench of the Patna High Court (now Jharkhand High Court) had directed the Ranchi unit of the CBI to conduct an inquiry into the financial irregularities and corruption prevailing in the Ranchi municipal corporation for over a decade.

The sources said the Ranchi unit had pleaded its helplessness citing inadequate staff strength vis-à-vis the increasing number of cases and the absence of necessary infrastructure. However, following the insistence of the court, the New Delhi headquarters of the CBI agreed to transfer the case to itself. A crack team arrived here from New Delhi yesterday to launch an investigation.

The sources said the ambit of the CBI probe covers investigations into a huge unadjusted advance of Rs 1.4 crore given by the corporation to its staff for carrying out various kinds of developmental work, underassessment of municipal taxes to benefit private unit holders and wrongful declaration of business holdings as domestic holdings to reduce incidence of municipal taxes in favour of private parties.

The sources added that the CBI has also been asked to inquire into a particular case in which the municipal corporation, acting beyond its powers, had granted mutation of tribal land located outside the municipal command area in favour of a non-tribal in violation of the provisions of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act.

The sources added that the base year for the CBI probe has been fixed at 1991 when the last known assessment of all holdings located within the municipal area was carried out by the Ranchi municipal corporation.

Ramgarh bypoll

Electioneering for the byelection to the Ramgarh Assembly constituency from where Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi is contesting came to a close today. All the major political parties — the BJP, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the CPI and the Congress, wound up their campaigning by 5 pm. Polling would be held on Monday.

Though a total of six candidates is left in the fray, the contest is mainly between the chief minister of the BJP, CPI candidate Nadira Quereshi and JMM candidate Arjun Ram. The others in the fray are Congress candidate Yamuna Prasad Sharma and two Independents, Udai Krishna Singh and Rajendra Prasad. Nearly 1.97 lakh people of Ramgarh are scheduled to exercise their franchise.

Jharkhand director-general of police T.P. Sinha said all preparations have been made to ensure peaceful polling in Ramgarh.

   

 
 
N-E HYDEL PROJECT CLEARS HURDLE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Silchar, Feb. 17: 
Another hurdle in the way of the 1500-MW Tipaimukh hydel power project has been removed with tribal leaders spearheading a movement against it agreeing to the project.

The Rs 3,200-crore project is the largest ever multipurpose scheme in the Northeast.

Tribal leaders of a vigilante group named the Tipaimukh Hydro Electric Power Project Affected Villages Welfare Association, who had earlier opposed the project, have now veered round to put their seal of approval on it.

Association president Chaltonlien Amo and association secretary S.L. Gangte, in a letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee recently, said the mammoth project, which has been hanging fire for the past 15 years, should now be expedited as tribals have waived their objections to it.

The ire of the tribal organisations along with the resistance by the Manipur government had stymied the implementation of the project. But the uncertainty dogging the project was substantially removed when the Manipur government relented. The Manipur Assembly had passed a unanimous resolution in the House on February 15, 1999, clearing the project.

   

 
 
MAWLONG ASKS OFFICERS TO BE EFFICIENT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Shillong, Feb. 17: 
Chief minister E.K. Mawlong has called upon state bureaucrats to be efficient, disciplined and competent.

Addressing the annual conference of the Meghalaya Civil Service Officers’ Association today, Mawlong said an able leader was one who is exemplary in his or her own field, equipped to take quick decisions.

“Officers ought to be punctual, disciplined, efficient and accountable.” The chief minister said their job as heads of departments was nothing short of a sacred trust reposed upon them to serve the people of the state.

The officers had to ensure that people at the grassroots get the benefit of development. The chief minister admitted that most of the rural development schemes, which are routed through the block development offices, did not benefit the people because of the inefficiency of the officers.

“The government is considering posting senior officers to head the blocks so that schemes could be properly implemented and funds properly utilised,” he said.

Meeting with HNLC: Headman of Malki locality H.P. Oflyn Dohling has agreed to a meeting with the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, which it had sought two weeks ago.

In a press statement today, Dohling said, he had received phone calls from persons identifying themselves as a members of the HNLC. The callers had requested a meeting with the headman to which he agreed.

Centenary celebrations: St. Anthony’s Higher Secondary School, is set to celebrate its centenary year. The school is run under the Roman Catholic Don Bosco education system. The historic school was set up in 1901 as an orphanage by the Salvatorian Fathers.

   
 

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