Central force to monitor airport security
500 evicted from hospital premises
Civic body rejects power project MoU
Behala boy tops IIT list
Environment axe falls on abattoir
Bill red mat for private funds
Mamata book to expose rigging
Five die in Contai bus crash
Drive to meet traffic rules in top gear

Calcutta, Oct. 6: 
Concerned over security lapses at the airport in the wake of possible terrorist attacks, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will take charge of civil aviation security from November.

The CISF take-over at the city airport, ahead of major metros like New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, comes at a time when loopholes at the airport are in focus. Repeated sneak-ins through the security barrier forced the Centre to take stock of the situation.

Two days ago, the Union ministry for civil aviation informed the state government of the decision to implement the long-standing proposal. The take-over, which was announced sometime ago, will formally take shape later this month when the first batch of security personnel arrives. The existing airport security staff will, however, continue with their duties and brief CISF personnel for the following three weeks.

Confirming receipt of a similar intimation from the Bureau of Civil Aviation, airport director Roshan Lal told Metro: “The formalities will be completed within the next few weeks. After Calcutta, the order will be implemented in Chennai and the other metros.”

The CISF take-over will mean relocating most of the 700-odd security staff posted at the airport for several years. After November, the state will only be in charge of traffic movement in the airport perimeter area, and law and order.

At present, the airport is operating on low manpower, making it difficult for security personnel to even post female constables for compulsory frisking of passengers, employees and visitors at the entrance. The CISF battalions will reportedly not face such problems. “They are well-trained. I am sure things will improve now,” a Bureau of Civil Aviation official said on Saturday.

Apprehending the post-CISF take-over scenario, a deputy superintendent of police (airport) said the strength of the existing staff could be reduced to around 250. “So many people won’t be required. But it is not clear where we will be relocated,” he said. Several airport employees, who have not been transferred for years, are anticipating a shift to other districts.

“There are cases, where some personnel have not been transferred for even 15 years. I wonder what will happen to them now,” a senior BCA official opined.

Doubts were raised about the existing security in a recent security-review meeting, too. Issues ranging from untrained personnel, low manpower and outdated gadgets were discussed. The last nail was possibly driven when a newspaper vendor managed to sneak in through the “security cordon” a day after the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed, threatened to hijack an aircraft.


Calcutta, Oct. 6: 
A joint drive was launched on Saturday by the health department, along with the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the police, to evict nearly 500 people from the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital premises. The move is part of a government scheme to remove encroachers from hospitals. Most of those evicted were retired employees, but had been staying in the hospital compound with their families for decades.

Amid protests, it took nearly 10 hours for the officials to carry out the drive. A few illegal constructions, including a Citu office, were also demolished.

The drive against illegal occupants comes in the wake of a report published in Metro on Saturday. Students of the main hostel had demonstrated on Friday in front of the principal’s room to protest against outsiders. They alleged that many rooms were occupied by those who were not entitled to the privilege, leaving the needy high and dry.

Sachidananda Sinha, hospital superintendent, said the drive was initiated as a number of hospital employees were being deprived of quarters. “We vacated 60 rooms of Group D and C quarters in the first phase of the drive. The drive will be continued in phases,” Sinha added.

Zulfiquar Hasan, deputy commissioner of police, central division, said altogether 150 policemen were engaged in the drive. “We are keeping a close eye on the law and order situation,” said Hasan.

The drive started around 6 am in the presence of senior health officials, including the director of the health department. Six illegal constructions in the hospital superintendent’s compound were first demolished.

“People, who do not have any connection with the hospital, built their homes on the premises. A notice, asking them to leave, was served on Thursday,” said Sinha.

Around 1 pm, the CMC men started demolishing the office of Medical College and Hospital Special Attendants’ Union, affiliated to Citu, on Eden Hospital Road. At this, union secretary Shyamal Chakraborty alleged: “This is a conspiracy hatched by the hospital superintendent. This union has government registration and we have been here for the past 30 years. Besides, the union office is not on the hospital premises. The health department is not demolishing the party offices in the hospital compound.”

The hospital authorities, however, said they do not have any idea about any party office on the premises. However, the union office on Eden Hospital Road was built on land owned by the hospital.

Later, the officials stormed the Group D staff quarters and vacated 52 rooms. Health officers stuck notices on the doors, which stated that trespassers would be prosecuted. The evicted families alleged that they were not given enough time to vacate the rooms. “They issued a notice only on Thursday evening. How can we vacate the rooms where we have been staying for the past 20 or 30 years within 24 hours?” asked Binda Debi Mallik.

The superintendent, however, said: “The occupants were asked to leave in 1997. But no one paid any attention then. This time, too, we gave them enough time to vacate.”


Calcutta, Oct. 6: 
The Trinamul Congress-run Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has rejected a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the former CPM-controlled civic board and a Canada-based company for generating electricity through garbage utilisation. The MoU had been signed by former mayor Prasanta Chatterjee.

The civic authorities have floated a fresh global tender for the project. It is learnt that five foreign companies have approached the civic body for the project. A committee, with chief engineer of solid waste management Arun Sarkar as the convenor, has been set up to negotiate with bidders and implement the scheme as early as possible.

Member, mayor-in-council (conservancy) Mala Roy on Saturday told Metro that the first meeting of the committee has been scheduled for Wednesday. Conservancy department officials said the previous MoU was rejected after the Canada-based company demanded remuneration for carrying garbage from various parts of the city to Dhapa. About 2,500 metric tonnes of garbage are produced in the city daily and around 30,000 conservancy workers are employed to dump the refuse at the Dhapa grounds.

Puja clean-up drive: The conservancy chief has announced a string of measures to keep the city clean during the Pujas. Around 20,000 conservancy employees will attend office from October 23 to 31. The CMC will also launch public awareness campaigns to this effect, Roy said. Two tableaux will be deployed to tour the city from Monday till Kali puja as part of the campaign. “Our control room will operate round-the-clock during the puja,” she added.

Body found: The body of a newborn was found in a vat at Shyambazar tram depot on Saturday. Police said the employees of the depot first spotted the body wrapped in cloth.

Soon, they informed the Shyampukur police, who rushed to the nearby hospital where the doctors declared the baby dead.


Kharagpur, Oct. 6: 
It was a dream come true for Krishnendu Chatterjee from Behala as he rose to accept the most prestigious students’ award in the country – the President of India Gold Medal— at the 47th annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology.

For the 22-year-old computer science and engineering student, who topped the merit list with a record 9.68 grade points, the achievement is a “reward” for his “hard work”. Krishnendu added, “My rank at the IIT entrance test (1218) was not that good as I took little interest in chemistry. But the focus areas in computer science are mathematics and number theory – my favourite subjects.”

The young techie, a 1998 pass-out from St Xavier’s College, Calcutta, has already chalked out his career plans. Despite clearing GRE this year, Krishnendu has put his Destination-US plans on hold as he is a key member of a Sun Microsystem-commissioned project on formal verification taken up by his department.

“I want to go to the US for higher studies. But, I will return to India and will remain in the field of research,” promised Krishnendu, who was accompanied by his mother at the convocation.

Earlier, the chief guest of the function, Dr C. Rangarajan, Governor of Andhra Pradesh, urged the students to combine idealism and ambition in the “right proportion” and contribute to the development process of the country.


Calcutta, Oct. 6: 
The state pollution control board on Saturday shut down a hi-tech abattoir and meat-processing unit in Howrah after a midnight inspection found it flouting pollution control norms.

Acting on persistent complaints from local residents that stench was emitting from the unit at night prompted the pollution control board to send a team to Mourigram on Friday.

“Four senior engineers and the deputy superintendent of police went to the factory after midnight to find that the complaints were not without substance,” a senior board official said.

On inspecting the unit, the officials found that the unit, instead of utilising its effluent treatment plant, was discharging dirty water directly into a nearby canal. “This was in blatant violation of the norms the board had laid down while issuing the unit the no-objection certificate,” the official stated.

The inspection team found out that the unit, despite possessing modern pollution control equipment, was going against the laws preventing water pollution.

The unit had earlier been pulled up by the board for starting production without getting the necessary environmental clearance. The unit was also shut for some time in 2000 after a gas leak in its refrigeration plant caused the death of a worker.

This is the first time that the board has conducted a late-night raid at an unit. According to board officials, the unit will be kept shut till the company could give firm assurance that it would rectify the situation.

Road mishaps: Three people were killed in separate road accidents on Saturday. An unidentified man in his 50s died when he was hit by a lorry on BT Road, in front of Rabindra Bharati University. He was rushed to RG Kar Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Bablu Das, 16, was run over on CGR Road by a private bus on route 12C. A private bus on route 214 knocked down an unidentified man on BT Road near Cossipore. The driver was arrested.


Haldia, Oct. 6: 
The state government is going to introduce a Bill in the winter session of Assembly to ensure participation of the private sector in infrastructure development.

Urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya said after a meeting today with representatives of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, Haldia Development Authority and Haldia municipality that infrastructure development was a prerequisite for industrial growth and this required considerable funds.

“However, it is not possible for the state government alone to undertake large-scale development of infrastructure, especially in places like Calcutta and Haldia. There is a funds crunch at the moment, but industrial development cannot wait. Hence we have decided to seek the help of private concerns without any further delay,” he said.

Bhattacharya said the proposed Bill would earmark certain “remunerative projects” for private partners. “We will provide them some commercial facilities and offer good plots at lower prices,” he said.

The minister said the Bill would be introduced keeping in mind the infrastructure requirements of both Calcutta and Haldia. “In Calcutta, we have decided to construct some important roads with private help,” he said.

The minister’s assurances came after industrialists pointed out the lack of infrastructure in the state.

“We can ask our friends to come and invest here and they will accept our suggestion. But we will be at the receiving end once they come and see the quality of power and the condition of roads. You should set a time frame to solve the power and communication problems,” said S.B. Ganguly, chairman of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. While a chamber representative talked about the “imminent closure” of the catamaran services between Haldia and Calcutta, another mentioned the rigours of the road journey from Calcutta to the port city.

Chief secretary Manish Gupta ruled out the government’s role in starting air services to Haldia, but said the private sector was welcome to start something on its own.

The urban development minister told the chamber representatives that the state government was serious about Haldia’s development. “Haldia Petrochemicals is being upgraded. We are augmenting water supply. Four-lane roads between Siliguri and Haldia will soon be constructed. The CMDA has also prepared a plan for management of solid waste in Haldia,” he said.


Calcutta, Oct. 6: 
If you can’t beat ‘em, “book” ‘em.

That’s Mamata Banerjee for you. In her fresh bid to highlight the CPM’s “rigging” in the May Assembly elections, the Trinamul Congress chief has decided to write a book book on the subject.

The book, Abiswashya (Unbelievable) will hit the stands in next year’s Calcutta Book Fair.

Mamata, back after a week in Delhi, told reporters this afternoon that the book would detail the malpractices committed by the CPM cadre to come to power for the sixth consecutive time.

“I have decided to pen the book to let people know that the elections this time were not at all free and fair. Had it been fair, we would have wrested power from the Marxists.”

She said the book will mention the role of the Congress and other parties in the elections.

The Trinamul leader was critical about the manner in which the CPM had carried out the Tolly’s Nullah eviction. “I want to make it clear that I am not against cleaning of Tolly’s Nullah to pave way for the Metro extension. But I wanted the government to rehabilitate the settlers before undertaking the eviction drive.”

Mamata said she would launch her month-long agitation after the end of the festive season. She criticised the Left Front for organising a maha micchil (grand procession) on October 14, only eight days before the Puja. “We don’t like to inconvenience people on the eve of Pujas by undertaking political programmes,” she said.

Mamata said the party would organise its first state conference in December to revamp the organisation.


Midnapore, Oct. 6: 
At least five persons were killed and four injured when a Digha-bound passenger bus collided with a trolley near Contai this morning.

The injured have been rushed to Midnapore Sadar Hospital. Their condition is stated to be critical. According to officials, those killed were travelling in the trolley.

Minutes after the accident, agitated local people blocked Digha Road for about two hours in protest against rash driving which leads to accidents. They also demanded the arrest of the bus driver. The blockade was lifted after senior officials from Contai police station assured people that they would look into their grievances.

Police said the accident took place when the speeding bus rammed into the trolley which overturned and fell into a roadside ditch. Those travelling in the trolley were trapped.

The local people rushed to the accident spot and rescued several passengers who were trapped. Five people died on the spot, while those injured were taken to Sadar Hospital.

Bangla rebels held: Two suspected Bangladeshi terrorists have been arrested from a place close to the India-Bangladesh border in North 24-Parganas, police said today, reports PTI.

Mamimul Islam and Rafiqul Islam were arrested from a house at Swarupnagar Hakimpur village yesterday. The owner of the house, Kutubuddin Mandal, was also arrested, police said. The police seized several documents from them.

They were remanded in police custody after being produced in the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate Shymal Gupta.


Burdwan, Oct. 6: 
The district administration has drawn up plans to enforce strict motor vehicle rules and stop misuse of cars meant for government officials.

District magistrate Manoj Agarwal said only MPs, MLAs, Sabhadhipatis and senior government and police officials like the district magistrate and the superintendent of police could use red lights on their cars. But now even sub-divisional officers and block development officers were using the red lights.

“We have tried to stop the misuse of red lights in the past but failed as we don’t have the required manpower to keep tabs. However, this time we are determined to stop it,” Agarwal said.

He also said steps would be taken to strictly enforce traffic rules. Drivers have been caught without their licences and cars have been spotted cruising without their number plates.

But the worst offenders are lorries. A senior police official said a large number of lorries do not have valid papers and ply illegally along the G.T. Road.

The police said private buses in the district are fitted with air horns, which have been banned.


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