Five professors trip at university degree bar
Union blames bad blood
Civic body slaps suits in clean-kitchen campaign
Traders split over bandh
Businessman found murdered
Strangers, snoops and a house asunder
Tongs scarce, strays get a breather
Government panel picks Parkomat faults
Cyber firm targets 500 schools
Foes join hands on industry

 
 
FIVE PROFESSORS TRIP AT UNIVERSITY DEGREE BAR 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
For the first time in several decades, the CPM-controlled syndicate body of Calcutta University has cancelled the appointment of five professors to the radio physics and electronics department at Rajabazar Science College. The reason: Their educational qualifications do not conform to the stipulations of the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

Sources in the university said the syndicate was “forced” to make the decision under pressure from some teachers, who said that none of the five candidates selected had the requisite qualifications for the post.

Monday’s development has caused resentment among teachers of the university, as never before in the recent past has the syndicate overturned the recommendation of the university’s selection committees on appointment of teachers.

Tapan Kumar Mukherjee, university registrar, however, refused to divulge the reason behind the syndicate’s move. “The syndicate has simply referred back to the selection committee the five cases for consideration. We were not forced to make the decision,” he said.

The selection committee had held the interview and selected the five professors on July 2. The syndicate on Monday directed it to “reconsider preparing a fresh panel for filling up the posts.”

University teachers alleged that two of the five candidates selected for the post were simply M.Sc degree-holders. This was a gross irregularity, as all five incumbents would teach B.Tech and M.Tech, which are post-graduate courses under the technology faculty. According to AICTE rules, only candidates with M.Tech degrees are eligible for teaching such courses.

Syndicate members said it is necessary for the university to “strictly” adhere to the AICTE rules on teacher appointment for courses in the technology faculty, as the AICTE might “derecognise” the courses if the university violates its norms. This, according to the members, could inconvenience students in seeking jobs. As in engineering institutions, all the engineering and technology courses of the university are recognised by the AICTE.

Pointing out another irregularity, some syndicate members said the five teachers were appointed in the absence of the dean of the engineering and technology faculty. The dean was abroad at the time. This, the members alleged, was a “gross irregularity,” as the presence of the dean of the faculty is a “must” when teachers of the faculty are selected.

“The post of professor is the topmost rank for college and university teachers. We are shocked to find that the university did not bother to follow the stipulations for filling up vacancies in such important posts. Higher education is bound to be blighted if irregularities in teacher appointments are not checked,” said a senior teacher.

University sources said a four-member committee interviewed the five professors. The members were Calcutta University’s vice-chancellor, the pro vice-chancellor (academic) and two experts on the subject from other universities.

   

 
 
UNION BLAMES BAD BLOOD 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
After battling for life for more than 72 hours, Subir Dutta, manager of Antarctica Limited, a packaging company in the Falta Export Processing Zone, in South 24-Parganas, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday at Calcutta Medical Research Institute. He was 45 and single.

Dutta was seriously injured when he was attacked by Muzzafar Mollah, a former casual worker of the organisation, while he was returning to his Calcutta home on Friday.

Mollah, a carpenter, was sacked a few months ago. He blamed Dutta for this and threatened revenge. He had been absconding after he and his accomplices attacked Dutta.

Sixteen of Mollah’s accomplices were rounded up from different places, while the man himself was arrested on Monday at his relative’s home in Shib Bari, Uluberia, in Howrah.

When news of Dutta’s death reached his home at Charu Chandra Place (East) at about 6.20 a.m. on Tuesday, both his family members as well as his neighbours were grief-stricken.

Shyamal Dutta, a relative, said: “We were asleep when the news of his death reached us over the telephone.”

Sunil Patra, a neighbour, said: “They were two brothers and seven sisters and Subir was the most popular.”

Some of the people who gathered at his home could not come to terms with the manner in which Subir lost his life.

Citu, the CPM’s labour arm, caught on the backfoot over yet another industrial death, on Tuesday condemned the attack. It urged the government to take strong action to stop the recurrence of such incidents.

Citu secretary Mrinal Das said an emergency meeting of the secretariat has been convened on Thursday to discuss the problem of militant trade unionism, which was the primary hurdle in the path of industrialisation.

“We will launch a statewide campaign to improve management-employee relations. The growing mistrust between the management and the staff has to be cleared for better industrialisation of the state,” he added.

Trinamul Congress general secretary Mukul Roy said the party will soon launch a statewide protest to highlight the communists’ “irresponsible unionism.”

The police are continuing their search for the rest of the culprits involved in the attack. Rajesh Kumar Singh, additional superintendent of police (rural) said: “We are interrogating Mollah and hope to arrest the rest of the culprits soon.”

But back at Falta, the mood was anything but optimistic. As a hotel-owner of the industrial area put it: “I started my business here with a lot of expectation. But if such incidents keep recurring, it will be difficult for us to carry on business here. Not only will entrepreneurs think twice about opening shop here but customers, too, will be scared away. It is up to the administration to restore order.”

   

 
 
CIVIC BODY SLAPS SUITS IN CLEAN-KITCHEN CAMPAIGN 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
The clean kitchen campaign has taken a turn towards the courtroom with the civic authorities initiating legal proceedings against a prominent south Calcutta restaurant and a star hotel. This follows food samples collected from the two eateries being labelled “adulterated” and “capable of causing poisoning” in lab tests.

Javed Khan, overseer of civic health in Calcutta, said on Tuesday that suits under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954, have been filed against Shehnaz restaurant, on Middleton Row, off Park Street, and The Kenilworth on Little Russel Street.

“The legal action has been initiated on the basis of the food laboratory report. Our public analyst found a large presence of bacteria, as well as use of banned colouring agents, in the food samples,” Khan said.

Civic health inspectors had raided nine hotels and restaurants last month. The Kenilworth kitchen has been raided after a group of doctors attending a seminar organised by pharmaceutical major Johnson & Johnson at the hotel had been taken ill. The doctors had blamed it on the dessert served after lunch.

The lab test of soufflé samples revealed “an alarming presence of E-coli bacteria — a factor (faecal coliform) capable of causing food poisoning — in them. The Kenilworth management contested the report, citing “delay” in collection of the sample and its “track record” over the years.

“Yes, the doctors were served soufflé that day, but the civic report cannot be used to prove that it was contaminated. After all, the officials had collected samples some 25 days after the alleged incident. So, you cannot say that the samples were the same as served to the doctors,” said M.S. Bharat, Kenilworth chairman and managing director.

He accused the civic authorities of “maligning the image” of Kenilworth, adjudged the best hotel in the four-star category in the eastern region by the ministry of tourism for three consecutive years.

At Shehnaz, pulao samples revealed “poor quality of ingredients, like chilli powder, and banned colouring agents like Sunset Yellow and Tartajine”. This, said Khan, drew penal action under Rule 29 of the PFA Act, 1954. When contacted, all that Nirmala Kohli of Shehnaz had to say was: “There is no point calling me for my opinion on this, because I don’t have one.” In the same vein, Hotel and Restaurant Association’s spokesperson Rupali Talukdar said: “We prefer not to comment on the inspection of eateries by the civic authorities.”

Subrata Mukherjee, meanwhile, has thrown his weight behind Khan’s crackdown.

The mayor has also decided to write to the state municipal affairs department, pressing for “appropriate amendments to the PFA Act” to ensure that eateries display civic report cards at the entrance, along with the date of the last Calcutta Municipal Corporation inspection of its kitchen.

   

 
 
TRADERS SPLIT OVER BANDH 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
A section of shop-owners in the city is set to down shutters on Wednesday in support of the all-Bengal trade bandh called by the Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations to demand pro-tenant changes in the West Bengal Premises Tenancy (Amendment) Act.

Confederation president Feroze H. Ali said the bandh has been called to draw the government’s attention to its long-standing demands, which had been ignored while negotiating terms of the Act with other trade bodies.

“Several representations have been made to the MIC, land and reforms, Abdur Razzak Molla. A delegation has met industries minister Nirupam Sen and a memorandum has been submitted to the chief minister. After all this, we have decided to organise a ‘call-attention, 24-hour, all-Bengal trade strike on Wednesday,” said Ali.

Among the Confederation’s demands is restoration of the tenant’s right to go to civil courts and the high court in case of any dispute with the landlord.

But the Federation of West Bengal Trade Associations has opposed the bandh call, dubbing it a “gimmick”. There are reportedly “more than 500,000 traders” in the city affiliated to the Federation.

“All markets in the city and in the districts will remain open on Wednesday,” claimed Mahesh Singhania of the Federation.

“We have decided to oppose the Confederation’s bandh call as the government has already agreed to review the Tenancy Act before implementing it,” he added.

The Confederation has organised a trade convention on Saturday to “decide on the next course of action”.

   

 
 
BUSINESSMAN FOUND MURDERED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
Unknown assailants murdered 34-year-old businessman Achintya Karmakar, a descendant of Uma Charan Karmakar, the man who popularised the dari-palla (weighing scales), at his Narkeldanga Main Road residence on Tuesday. The victim was found in bed with multiple stab wounds on the back.

Karmakar was a bachelor and police suspect business rivalry could be a motive behind the murder. They are interrogating Karmakar’s friends, who visited him regularly. Sniffer dogs have also been pressed into service.

Karmakar lived on the ground floor of a two-storeyed building, the first floor of which is occupied by his parents and his elder brother. Karmakar had friends dropping in on him regularly, and some would stay back for the night.

Septuagenarian Sib Sankar Karmakar, the victim’s father, said: “The business was looked after by Achintya and my elder son Jayanta. Achintya would travel to different states on business. He had a number of friends visiting him frequently. But I cannot say who had come on Monday night. Besides, none came back after the incident.”

Jayanta, Achintya’s brother, said: “Today, around 6.20 am, when I came to see my son off, I discovered something red trickling out of his room. I thought it was some kind of paint and since I was in a hurry, I decided to check it out after seeing off my son.

“On returning, I found that the wooden door to Achintya’s room was half-open. I found him in bed with several stab wounds on his back, from which blood had oozed out. I raised an alarm and my wife and parents rushed down. Beleghata police were informed. They came and took charge of the body.”

A relative of the Karmakars felt there were rifts and heartburn in the clan over the family business. “Not everyone was happy with the way Achintya’s grandfather had divided the business. Of late, Achintya himself was doing quite well for himself, which the others resented,” maintains the relative, convinced that the family is keen to divert attention from the internal business rivalry.

Neighbours, though, were not quite approving of Achintya’s recent ways. “Of late, he was thick with some shady characters who stayed with him for nights together,” complained a neighbour.

S. Bhattacharya, investigating officer from Beleghata police station, said: “We are interrogating family members and trying to locate Achintya’s close friends.”

   

 
 
STRANGERS, SNOOPS AND A HOUSE ASUNDER 
 
 
BY SUNANDO SARKAR AND PRONAB MONDAL
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
“Ektu kichhu bolun (Please, say something)!”

Khadim’s spokesperson Raja Banerjee gets off the Maruti 800. His boss, Khadim’s vice-chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman, was abducted six days ago. The half-a-dozen TV cameras and booms zoom in on Banerjee, sending him scurrying to the gates of BH-164, Salt Lake, where Roy Burman’s family is now staying.

“Bolar kichhu nei (There’s nothing to say),” he replies politely. The reporters, however, pester him for more. Finally, some guards come out of the house to rescue him. Roy Burman’s mother sits up in her bed. “Has a fight broken out outside?” she asks daughter Jayashree.

Two hours earlier, an elderly gentleman, who identifiedhimself as Prasadbhai, had an experience similar to Banerjee’s. He flees from the scene as the media grill him about the “state of the Roy Burmans”.

BH-164 is now the latest spectacle in Salt Lake. The tastefully-done-up house is the stake-out point for the media and curious onlookers. They are all parked outside the gates, latching on to every move made by a family that is praying for its son’s return — and for the outsiders to leave it alone. “It’s unfortunate that so many people are camping here through the day and night,” Jayashree told Metro.

But it’s not the Roy Burmans alone who are bearing the brunt of the abduction fallout. Their neighbours, who’ve spent their life in a quiet Salt Lake bylane, have now had their lives turned upside down.

S. Kundagrami has a “severe” headache every night. He blames it on the passing cars, the banging doors and the “near-vandalism” that continue till daybreak.

And it’s not just the mediapersons at the job or passersby with little else to do. Constant vigil outside the Roy Burman residence has meant steady traffic of police vans and jeeps.

The Ghosh family, which lives in BH-157, opposite the Roy Burmans, has given the campers shelter from rain in their front verandah. On Tuesday, one intrepid cameraman tried to scale their boundary wall for a better view of BH-164. He stepped on a water pipe and snapped it. Grumbles from the Ghoshes later, a plumber was called in and the pipe repaired.

   

 
 
TONGS SCARCE, STRAYS GET A BREATHER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
It’s a breather for the city’s rabid and violent stray dogs. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation is gripped by an acute scarcity of dog-catching tongs.

Member, mayor-in-council (health), Javed Ahmed Khan, said supply of tongs from the CMC’s Entally workshop had stopped in November 2000. And with each passing day, the number of complaints with the CMC’s health department about rabid strays is rising. “But our dog squad is helpless,” Khan admitted.

Deputy chief municipal officer of health R.N. Sanyal said years of use had rendered the tongs “practically useless”. Some supplies received from the Entally workshop were of sub-standard quality, he added.

“The dog squad badly needs at least a dozen tongs immediately,” he admitted, as the stray menace rises in the monsoon.

The CMC has its own smithies and a foundry at the Entally workshop for manufacturing iron implements for conservancy services and other purposes. The inadequate supply of raw material from the CMC’s central stores, near the Moulali crossing, was causing difficulties for the workshop, a supervisor at the Entally workshop explained.

   

 
 
GOVERNMENT PANEL PICKS PARKOMAT FAULTS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
The government will ask the civic authorities to “rectify discrepancies” that have crept into the agreement between the Corporation and Simplex Projects Limited over the multi-tiered car parking lot under construction on Rawdon Street.

A statement prepared by urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya, and placed in the Assembly by minister of state for municipal affairs and urban development Anju Kar on Tuesday read: “We have asked the Corporation to modify the agreement in tune with the CMC Act.”

The government move comes in the wake of the controversy over the automated parking lot. Bhattacharya’s statement was based on the findings of the committee his department had set up to investigate the charges of “irregularities” levelled by a section of the Left Front against the Trinamul Congress-BJP combine running the CMC.

The probe committee, led by the urban development secretary, identified four areas where irregularities could be said to have taken place in violation of the original Parkomat project agreement. The civic authorities had reportedly allowed a Rs 3-crore loan at zero interest to Simplex Projects. “There is no deadline for recovery of the loan which was originally meant to be sanctioned at a low rate of interest and on easy repayment terms,” the statement said.

Second, mayor Subrata Mukherjee did not place the Parkomat project and the related agreement for approval in any meeting of the mayor’s council since last December.

Third, the civic authorities’ granting of Rs 2 crore by way of a zero interest loan from government aid was deemed to be a violation of the injunction on any disbursal of funds given to the CMC for non-plan expenditure.

Finally, allowing Simplex Projects to repay the loan to develop the land for construction of Parkomat is a departure from the original proposal.

Mukherjee, however, told Metro that he was confident about the “transparency of the agreement between CMC and Simplex”.

   

 
 
CYBER FIRM TARGETS 500 SCHOOLS 
 
 
BY ALOKANANDA GHOSH
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
Advance Educational Technologies (AET), promoters of the Mighty Mouse brand for child education in IT, has outlined a project to provide IT education to children in 500 schools in West Bengal. The company plans to submit a proposal to the state government in August to set up a network of laboratories for training in government and government-aided schools from Classes I to VIII.

Says managing director Dinesh Nambiar: “The project has been launched in five states. We have chosen around 500 schools in each state, covering four lakh students, and appointed three faculties for each school.” These projects will also create job opportunities. “We will require at least 1,500 tutors in each state,” he adds. The company will offer its facilities for a monthly fee of Rs 30 per student.

The AET plans to set up seven Mighty Mouse centres in the city by mid-August. “Mighty Mouse is an IT finishing school for children between 4 and 14 years,” says Nambiar. “We will set up 12 centres in the east in another two months.”

AET already has 54 centres and plans to set up 50 more by March 2002. The company has tied up with InfoSoft International, Australia. It also has an exclusive marketing arrangement with Microsoft India. Under this agreement, Microsoft and Mighty Mouse will jointly conduct various corporate and centre-based events for children. Each centre will hold 12 events round the year, like quiz, painting and IQ development.

Children will be able to avail of the facilities at the Mighty Mouse centres for two hours every week at Rs 600 a month or Rs 7,000 a year.

   

 
 
FOES JOIN HANDS ON INDUSTRY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 31: 
The CPM and the Trinamul Congress joined hands today, along with other legislators, to adopt two resolutions on the closure of industrial units and arsenic poisoning in the state and decided to send an all-party delegation to Delhi to highlight these issues.

CPM MLA Rabin Deb, supported by Sougata Roy and Sobhandeb Chatterjee of the Trinamul, moved the resolution against the Centre’s move to close down 27 public sector undertakings.

Deb said six PSUs had already been closed down in Bengal by the Centre, which had plans to close down the rest in phases, as well as 10 of the 12 mills under the National Textile Corporation. Closure of the PSUs would render about 2.6 lakh people jobless, he said.

The Centre was also planning to close down a number of coal mines in West Bengal, according to the CPM legislator. About 1.5 lakh workers, who were directly dependent on the coal industry in the state, would lose their jobs once the mines are closed, Deb said. He added that the job cuts would prove a major setback for the state’s economy.

The resolution on arsenic poisoning was moved by Roy, who was supported by Unus Sarkar of the CPM and other Left Front MLAs. The Opposition leader criticised the Central government’s decision to stop providing financial grants to West Bengal to fight the arsenic menace in eight districts of the state.

All the political parties agreed to convince the Centre that they should not stop sanctioning grants to check arsenic contamination of drinking water. Public health engineering minister Goutam Deb urged Trinamul MPs to join the Left in sending a delegation to Delhi to protest against the Centre’s decision.

   
 

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