A yen for a green corridor
Inter-state racket busted in slum swoop
Confession twist to Das murder
Sell off old plots to set up new campus
Water war over plant shutdown
False data draw top cop rap
Bodies found on unlit street
Rapid force route to stop Naxalites
Rs 5-lakh fine for delivery death
Body blow to NRI-funded college

 
 
A YEN FOR A GREEN CORRIDOR 
 
 
BY SHANKAR MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, Sept. 2: 
Calcutta is ready to hit the fast lane. That’s the message chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will carry to Tokyo next week. Proof of the promise: A 151-km ‘green’ corridor cutting across the city – from Kalyani to Kakdwip – with a three-tier elevated stretch” of 16 kms between Cossipore and Jadavpur.

In a bid to rope in Japanese expertise and funding for “Calcutta’s largest transport project”, Bhattacharjee will meet both bankers and engineers.

The chief minister will place the proposal for the Rs 2,400 crore project before the Japanese Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC). He will also hold discussions with officials from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Yachiwo Corporation for undertaking the project on BOT basis.

The mega project, a brainchild of transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, envisages the ‘zip zap zoom’ corridor from Kalyani to Barrackpore through the Kalyani Expressway; Barrackpore to Cossipore through B.T. Road; Cossipore to Jadavpur through an elevated road; Jadavpur to Joka, Diamond Harbour and Kakdwip through Diamond Harbour Road.

“There will be no intersection and so a vehicle will not have to encounter a single red light,’’ explained G.G. Bhattacharya, managing director of Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation (TIDC), the nodal agency for implementing the project.

“The corridor will connect industrial zones of Nadia, North 24-Parganas, Calcutta and South 24-Parganas. It will save a lot of travel time. We are determined to implement the project for which I feel the funds will be available,’’ Chakraborty said.

The 16-km ‘elevated’ stretch between Cossipore and Jadavpur, starting near Tala Bridge, will be the “longest in the country”, the planners claim. It will pass along Chitpur canal, crossing Canalside Road, A.J.C. Bose Road, Syed Amir Ali Avenue and Gariahat Road.

The traffic on this stretch will follow a three-tier pattern – vehicles on the elevated road, “overhead trams” underneath, and vehicles again on the surface. “An Australian company has already submitted an offer to run a cable car-like tram,” Chakraborty confirmed.

According to the present proposal, a two-lane stretch will be “carved out of the existing roads, repaired, given guard rails on both sides and mini flyovers built at existing intersections”.Consulting Engineering Services (I) Ltd of New Delhi, appointed by the transport department, has submitted its feasibility report.

The transport minister and senior officials of the department have had “extensive talks” with the chief minister who has given the green signal for the green corridor. “The chief minister has said that the first phase will begin with the stretch between Joka and Kakdwip, as the zone around diamond Diamond Harbour is developing into a busy industrial zone with the Kulpi port, Falta trade zone and export processing zone,” Bhattacharya said.

“The entire project will be implemented in four phases. Preliminary work on the first stretch has already begun. Except the construction of the elevated stretch, which will be taken up in the second phase, it will not take long to complete the project as there is no need for land acquisition,’’ TIDC engineers added.

According to transport department officials, private promoters will be invited to participate in the grand transport project.

To ensure a smooth passage for the project and build up transport infrastructure in the city, Chakraborty has proposed “an alternative fund source” to the chief minister.

“I have shown him how a cess of even 50 paise per litre on diesel and petrol can help us implement many more infrastructural projects without having to beg for funds,’’ the transport minister explained.

   

 
 
INTER-STATE RACKET BUSTED IN SLUM SWOOP 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 2: 
An accomplice of Manoj Singh, arrested last week in Sonagachhi for alleged links with inter-state gangs organising abductions in north and west India, was picked up from a central Calcutta slum on Sunday afternoon. The arrest of Raj Kumar Chaudhuri, alias Bel, has brought to light an extortion-dacoity-murder racket originating in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Bel was the “chief organiser of the Manoj Singh gang’’ and “dutifully carried out orders from the boss’’, deputy commissioner of police (central) Zulfiquar Hasan said. He is named in a dozen extortion and attempt-to-murder cases. “Though Bel masterminded some extortions and dacoities, he mostly acted at Manoj’s behest,’’ Hasan added.

Policemen were tipped off that Bel, with the help of some Bihar-based accomplices, had targeted a business concern, operating from an address on Mahatma Gandhi Road. Bel came to know after keeping tabs on the firm for three weeks that three employees would carry cash to a local bank every Monday, and he planned a hold-up on the basis of the information. Bel admitted this to the police after sustained grilling. He had also called up three Burrabazar and Posta businessmen demanding “protection money’’, police said.

Bel’s arrest in the slum has put policemen on the trail of Bihar and UP-based criminals who were involved in five extortion, three unsuccessful murder attempts and half-a-dozen dacoities in the Jorasanko-Burrabazar areas in the past two years.

Bel was one of Manoj’s men who fled the city, first to Lucknow and then to Patna, but came back to Calcutta to pull off a “big job” to boost the gang’s dwindling financial fortunes, officials added. “He arrived in the city on Friday with three other accomplices and was staying in a slum,’’ an officer said.

Bel had organised the stay of UP-based don Manjit Singh, alias Mange, and his accomplices in Calcutta last year. He was introduced to Mange by Manoj and four Patna and Dhanbad-based criminals.

“We have evidence to suggest that he hosted these criminals when they were in the city to rob traders,’’ an official said. Police have succeeded in establishing their involvement in three hit-and-run cases in Burrabazar and Posta, in which Bihar-based criminals snatched bags containing lakhs of rupees from employees of business concerns who were on their way to local banks.

Calcutta Police will get in touch with its Bihar counterpart to flush out criminals holed up there. “We have managed to extract valuable information from Bel about some Bihar-based criminals and their hideouts,” an officer said.

   

 
 
CONFESSION TWIST TO DAS MURDER 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Sept. 2: 
The Sailen Das murder case took a decisive turn late on Saturday with two of the accused recording confessional statements in front of a judicial magistrate.

Copies of the confessional statements will not be available with the police before Tuesday. But it was learnt from sources that Ibrahim, who had supplied the motorbike used in the murder of the Dum Dum municipality chairman, and Dilip Seal recorded confessional statements at the sub-divisional judicial magistrate’s court in Barrackpore.

The duo, apparently, stated that “they regretted being part of the conspiracy” and “would assist the police in investigation”. Additional superintendent of police, North 24 Parganas, Rahul Srivastava, said: “We have yet to receive copies of the confessional statements given to the magistrate. Therefore we cannot comment on the contents at the moment... But most of the accused persons gave statements willingly.”

The confessional statements came after the police convinced the culprits that “there was strong evidence against them” and co-operation could ensure “lighter sentences” for them.

Earlier, the district police found evidence that the August 13 operation was planned at the residence of Ibrahim.

“In the beginning, Ibrahim said he had only supplied the motorcycle to Biswajeet. But later, he confessed to being in the room when the killers were briefed about the operation a few days before the assassination,” said a senior police official associated with the probe.

The district police unearthed vital clues about the murder while grilling Mumtaz and Hussain, brothers of Ibrahim. “Both identified Biswajeet as the man who used to meet their brother occasionally,” the officer said.

Meanwhile, former Dum Dum municipality chairman and alleged murder mastermind Sudhir Bhattacharya is still “unwell” and has not been interrogated further. He had earlier denied giving Amitabh Bachchan Fans’ Association secretary S.P. Kamat the money to kill Das. Instead, Bhattacharya claimed he had loaned Kamat Rs 1.10 lakh to buy a car. “So far he has not been able to furnish any evidence to prove this claim,” a senior police official opined.

Earlier, Babulal Sharma, one of the arrested promoters, Mrityunjoy Ghosh and Tapas Bhattacharya told police during interrogation that they had been informed by Kamat of the “plot to eliminate Das a few days before the murder”.

“Kamat promised us big projects once Sudhir Bhattacharya was reinstated as municipal chairman,” said Sharma. “At one point I wanted to opt out of the plan and inform the police. But by then orders had already been given to Biswajeet to kill Das,” he continued.

Debasish Ghatak, who had been picked up from his Baguiati residence on August 24, told interrogators that he had “agreed to let Biswajeet spend the night at his house on the eve of the murder” as he was “a long-time friend”. “I tried to tell him that the consequences of a political killing were serious, but he wouldn’t listen,” confessed Ghatak. The police also picked up Mithun, a friend of Biswajeet, but released him after interrogation revealed that he was not aware of the plot.

   

 
 
SELL OFF OLD PLOTS TO SET UP NEW CAMPUS 
 
 
BY TAMAL SENGUPTA
 
Calcutta, Sept. 2: 
For sale. That’s the sign which will soon be posted at some property belonging to Calcutta University. Cash-strapped CU has been forced to fall back on its Rs 800-crore property to fund its modernisation moves. The syndicate has taken a policy decision to sell off part of the university’s realty in order to set up a separate technology campus in Salt Lake.

Two plots – 32, Rowland Row and 13, Jhamapukur Lane – have already been identified by the syndicate. The university senate is expected to okay this move on Monday. “We have floated tenders in newspapers to sell some of our property and have shortlisted two applicants,” said university pro-vice-chancellor (business affairs and finance) Hiran Banerjee.

“We have already got the land for the technology campus from the government. But the absence of a commitment to sanction funds for setting up the campus has forced us to take this drastic step,” university officials added.

The university has not carried out a valuation of its property spread over the city and its suburbs. “But the property should be worth more than Rs 800 crore,” officials said.

If the decision to sell its Rowland Row and Jhamapukur Lane property has been prompted by modernisation plans, funds for maintenance are also scarce. “The university is struggling to meet its overhead costs and various financial obligations. Forget expansion, maintenance is proving to be a huge problem. The sale of property can give the university a new lease of life,” officials admitted.

Banerjee had drawn the attention of the senate, during its budget session earlier this year, to the “heavy financial burden” the university was having to bear in paying its staff leave allowance, gratuity and pension. “Some 1,400 pensioners are also pressing hard for the release of arrears,” he had said. “These are additional liabilities for which we have not received anything from the government.”

Governor Viren J. Shah, who is also the CU chancellor, had asked the authorities during the same budget session to seek “alternative sources of income” to meet some of their expenses. The move to increase tuition, examination and other fees were all directed towards that end, officials explained.

Meanwhile, three NRIs, after learning that CU was passing through an acute financial crisis, have decided to donate Rs 50 lakh each to set up chairs in neuroscience, physiology and radiophysics. The senate will also discuss these proposals at its meeting on Monday.

   

 
 
WATER WAR OVER PLANT SHUTDOWN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 2: 
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) will despatch a team of water supply experts to Uttarpara on Monday to revive the municipality’s treatment plant, which was shut down by the environment department without testing water samples from there.

The plant was shut down on Tuesday following reports of a large number of Hepatitis-A cases in Uttarpara over the past two months.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Sunday said CMC experts would collect water samples from the area and the municipal waterworks for tests in the CMC laboratory. The experts will also examine whether the supply from the 84-year-old plant was contaminated.

Chairman of Uttarpara-Kotrung municipality Pinaki Dhamali sent an SOS to Mukherjee, as more than 50,000 people were facing an acute water crisis, following the plant shut-down.

Admitting the outbreak of jaundice in Uttarpara over the past two months, Dhamali said the disease was limited to three wards served by the Central Municipal Water and Sanitation Authority-run water-treatment plant at Serampore. But the government never closed down that plant.

“Instigated by the local CPM leadership, the government is playing politics with the Trinamul Congress-run Uttarpara-Kotrung municipality over the jaundice issue,” said Dhamali.

He stressed that no jaundice case was reported from the area served by the Uttarpara waterworks.

However, the deputy secretary of the environment department said that the chairman was present at the meeting where the decision to shut down the plant was taken.

   

 
 
FALSE DATA DRAW TOP COP RAP 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Sept. 2: 
A rap on the knuckles for “suppression of truth”. That’s what a section of officers has received from police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty recently.

In the “first step to weed out corruption from the force”, Chakraborty has warned all officers-in-charge of police stations to stop “suppressing crime” and “register cases under correct sections” or face “stern action”. The warning follows an inquiry that found some OCs “deliberately concealing the seriousness of crime” and registering cases under “wrong sections”.

Last week, Chakraborty summoned all OCs to Lalbazar. “I told them that all cases should be recorded under the correct sections in order to renew people’s faith in the police force and help build a relationship based on mutual trust,” he later said.

The police chief had, apparently, singled out a few officers after careful scrutiny of police station records had exposed their “wrongdoings”. What sparked the inquiry was the fact that criminal cases “registered in black and white” in some police stations were on a downslide. “When crime is increasing throughout the country and the city, how can the scenario be opposite here?” Chakraborty demanded of his officers.

Chakraborty also pulled up officers for failing to arrest “repeated offenders” in crime-prone zones. When he was informed that some ‘wanted’ criminals were being allowed to roam free on the grounds that they were “not indulging in criminal activity at present”, the commissioner urged his officers to carry out “preventive arrests” under Sections 109 and 110 CrPC in “sensitive areas”.

Directing his men to be “extra-careful” in the face of rising incidence of kidnappings for ransom, Chakraborty said: “Police stations should keep a watch on new tenants in every locality and question suspicious-looking individuals, whenever required.”

Calling for “better co-ordination” between police stations and Lalbazar, the commissioner told his officers that “in any sensitive case” junior officers should not wait for the arrival of the officers-in-charge. “They should immediately contact the detective department or senior officers at the headquarters,” Chakraborty added.

   

 
 
BODIES FOUND ON UNLIT STREET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 2: 
Tension ran high in the Park Street area after residents of Mcleod Street spotted two bodies lying near a factory in the locality on Saturday night.

The murdered youth, with tonsured heads, could not be identified till Sunday evening. One of the dead had a broken arm. The factory-owner was detained for interrogation and the area has been cordoned off.

Officer-in-charge of Park Street police station P.K. Das said the bodies were sent for post-mortem. “The murderers seem to be professionals as the bodies bore no traces of injuries,” a police officer said.

Sewram Sau, a local resident, said the youth might have been murdered elsewhere and dumped near the factory at night. “The area, nearly 50 yards from the main road, becomes dark in the evening, as the streetlights are out of order,” he said. Residents have decided to submit a memorandum to the Corporation, demanding streetlights in the area.

   

 
 
RAPID FORCE ROUTE TO STOP NAXALITES 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
Calcutta, Sept. 2: 
Hooghly district police plan to raise a rapid action force armed with self-loading rifles and AK-47s following infiltration of People’s War activists into the Arambag area from the forests of Bankura and Midnapore.

A proposal has reached Writers’ Buildings, said a senior state home (police) department official. The move comes in the wake of a meeting of director-general of police D.C. Vajpai with the Hooghly and Midnapore police superintendents, where he had sought proposals on steps needed to bring lasting peace in the disturbed pockets of the districts.

The Arambag-Goghat-Khanakul belt shot into the limelight after a series of clashes between Trinamul Congress and CPM activists in the run-up to the Assembly polls. Alarmingly, it was discovered that the political parties had involved People’s War, a Naxalite faction, in their skirmishes.

There were 111 clashes between Trinamul activists and CPM cadres in Arambag sub-division between January and October last year, intelligence reports said. Fifteen people died — nine Trinamul supporters and the rest from the CPM. One hundred and thirty-seven people were injured.

The Hooghly police are going to set up an emergency force line (EFL) in the Arambag belt as part of their initiative, district superintendent of police N. Ramesh Babu said. A force of 100 men, equipped with radio-telephony and vans, would be kept in readiness. Besides, 30 members from the district force have been selected to undergo training for the core RAF group.

The jurisdiction of Goghat and Dhaniakhali police stations, which share densely-forested district borders with Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan in the Arambag sub-division, will be bifurcated for better vigil.

The Goghat police station keeps track of 378 sq km with a population of more than three lakh. “We have decided to bifurcate it into Goghat and Badanganj police stations,” said Ramesh Babu. Similarly, Dhaniakhali, which borders Burdwan and has to maintain law and order in a 274-sq km area, will be divided into Dhaniakhali and Gurap police stations. Thus, the district will now have 24 police stations areas.

Officials, however, claimed that the disturbed areas were now calmer.

   

 
 
RS 5-LAKH FINE FOR DELIVERY DEATH 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Chinsurah, Sept. 2: 
The Hooghly district consumer disputes redressal forum has directed a gynaecologist to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to Prabhat Banerjee of Debipara for the death of his wife and her foetus.

Dr Shyamal Baran Mandal, whom Banerjee and his wife, Subhra, were consulting during her pregnancy, asked her to get admitted to a nursing home owned by his wife, Abriti. Accordingly, Subhra got admitted to the nursing home on 20 December, 1998.

Despite repeated assurances about the health of the foetus, it was found dead the day Subhra was admitted to the nursing home. Dr Mandal left for Kalna soon after informing Subhra.

Subhra, whom relatives last spoke to around noon that day, was found dead at 4 pm on the same day. The gynaecologist then apologised to Subhra’s husband and told him the nursing home would take care of her last rites.

Banerjee filed a case against Mandal on 16 March, 1999. The doctor did not appear in the court but sent a written reply, which did not specify the cause of Subhra’s death or that of the foetus.

After examining witnesses and documents, the three-member forum of N.K. Saha, Kalipada Basu and Bula Koley unanimously decided to direct Mandal to pay Rs 5 lakh with interest as compensation to Subhra’s husband. Banerjee, though satisfied with the verdict, said nothing could compensate what he had lost.

   

 
 
BODY BLOW TO NRI-FUNDED COLLEGE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Midnapore, Sept. 2: 
An acclaimed academic, running a college at Hijli with NRI funds, today said he was contemplating resignation after being heckled by teachers and non-teaching staff in the college’s governing body meeting yesterday.

Former director of IIT-Kharagpur G.S. Sanyal said he sent in his resignation as president of the college governing body to Ananda Mohan Mukherjee, vice-chancellor of Vidyasagar University to which the college is affiliated. Mukherjee, however, refused to accept the resignation.

The vice-chancellor said stern action will be taken against those involved in manhandling Sanyal. “I am surprised to learn about Sanyal’s harassment in the hands of teachers and non-teaching staff. He is a man of international repute and I shall request him to take back his resignation. Such untoward incidents will be firmly dealt with in future.”

Witnesses said trouble erupted in the meeting between teachers and non-teaching staff on one side and the Vidyasagar University-nominated representatives on the other over the selection of new subjects to be introduced in the college from the next academic session. While the former wanted traditional subjects like history and philosophy to be chosen, the latter asked for physics, chemistry, computer application and business management. Sanyal sided with the latter, saying they are job-oriented courses.

Angered with his refusal, the teachers and non-teaching staff attacked Sanyal and the other nominees, including IIT teachers. The agitating members also turned down Sanyal’s proposal to appoint guest lecturers from IIT, who would provide free service.

In the melee, the teachers pushed Sanyal, who fell and hurt his right knee. He then postponed the meeting. At this point, members of the CPM-controlled Students’ Federation of India joined the teachers and non-teaching staff and gheraoed Sanyal.

Soon members of the students’ union, affiliated to the Trinamul Congress, intervened and a free-for-all ensued. The meeting room was ransacked and furniture damaged. Two IIT teachers whisked Sanyal away.

Recounting that he had joined the IIT 50 years ago when it was started, Sanyal said: “I am disillusioned and disgusted today... My dream is shattered and that is why I have sent my resignation letter to the V-C.”

   
 

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