90-day deadline on green status
What women want: Husbands in navy blue
Rally alert for passengers
Basu’s Baradi beckons Mamata
The City Diary
GAIL strikes gas off Digha coast
CM clean chit to Writers’ cops

 
 
90-DAY DEADLINE ON GREEN STATUS 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, Oct. 12: 
Concerned over the delay in implementing pollution control norms for vehicles, a division bench of Calcutta High Court on Friday set a 90-day deadline for the state government to report on steps it had taken to phase out old cars.

The Green bench, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice G. Gupta, issued the directive during the hearing of a petition filed by S.M. Ghosh, an environmental engineer, seeking implementation of Bharat Stage II norms in the city. The court has also sought a report within three months from the government on the measures taken to control non-fuel pollution in the city, including creation of a dust-free environment, digging and filling of roads by various agencies, and hawker-free pavements.

Environmental activist Subhas Datta, amicus curae in the case, said the issues raised in the petition were “serious”, as the recommendations of an experts committee appointed by the court had not been implemented for two years. Datta described as “a hoax” the present system of issuing of pollution-free certificates to vehicles.

The experts committee report states that permits of taxis more than 17 years old should not be renewed, followed by 15-year-old taxis being phased out. By July 2005, only taxis a maximum of eight years old should be allowed to ply. Taxis that have converted their engines to conform to Bharat Stage II norms or are run on LPG are exempted.

The committee also recommended that no private, non-commercial vehicle, including two-wheelers, manufactured prior to 1975, be allowed to ply in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area from January 1, 2002, unless they convert to LPG or Bharat Stage II-compliant engines. From January 1, 2003, such curbs would apply to all 25-year-old vehicles, and by January 1, 2005, the age limit would be scaled down to 20. The committee also recommended that new registration of three-wheelers be stopped.

Environment minister Manab Mukherjee said on Friday that Bharat Stage II norms would be applied to all new vehicles from September 1. “But we have not received any order on phasing out of old vehicles,” he added.

   

 
 
WHAT WOMEN WANT: HUSBANDS IN NAVY BLUE 
 
 
BY MADHUMITA BHATTACHARYYA
 
Calcutta, Oct. 12: 
The jury is out; the verdict is in. Men in Calcutta need a crash course in style.

’Conservative’ is the operative word for the Calcutta male when it comes to clothes. Third-year students of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) have just concluded a survey on “buying trends and preferences in the menswear industry” that confirms the buzz in the clothes business.

The findings of the survey, conducted over three weeks by eight separate groups from the fashion design department with a sample size of around a hundred each, indicate that men prioritise VFM (value for money) over both quality and brand name.

“Not only do most men not care if their clothes are rip-offs or the real thing, they do not display a significant brand loyalty. Comfort, not style, remains the main factor,” says Aditi Sarkar of NIFT.

Noel Tata, managing director of Trent Ltd, agrees: “Girls at our Westside store on Camac Street buy the same trendy clothes as in Delhi or Mumbai, but the guys here are more conservative and stick to basic colours and simple cuts.”

The names that sell in the city’s readymade segment, says the survey, range from Allen Solly to Colour Plus, Louis Philippe to Parx. But in what the industry calls its biggest seller — suitings and shirtings — the highest brand value is attached to Raymonds.

For suits, most men prefer tailored, single-breasted, three-button styles. Trousers of choice are single-pleated, with flat fronts gaining a little ground of late. The hottest shirts are still half-sleeved and cotton. There are a few trends for accessories that come as a surprise. Socks are the highest on the list of must-haves for men, “even with ethnic outfits”. Belts are next on the list.

“Though it is usually considered to be more fashionable to wear a tie in a shade similar to that of a suit, Calcutta men usually prefer a contrast,” says Smita Bhandari, part of the four-student team that identified former US President Bill Clinton as the ‘style icon’ for guys, and Aamir Khan’s character Akash in Dil Chahta Hai for girls.

The NIFT study throws light on the colours that are cool. Women, it was found, like to see their husbands in navy blue; boyfriends in bright colours of all kinds; fathers in beige; sons in pastels; brothers in navy blue and black; colleagues in brown.

Colour, confirms designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee (or Pepsi, if you please), is something that the conservative Calcutta male is loath to experiment with. “Men here do not let their hair down. They still believe that certain colours make them look like a sissy,” he feels. But there has been a marginal shift towards brighter colours and new-age fabrics recently. “This is a positive indicator, and the time will soon be right to launch a menswear line.”

Kishore Biyani of Pantaloons feels that the sartorial tide has turned. “Menswear is the biggest seller right now, and the most popular colour this season has been orange, followed by lavender,” he explains.

Sharbari Datta, who has made ethnic meanswear in the city her preserve, argues that the Calcutta male is “as receptive” as any other. “When I first introduced coloured dhotis in 1991, everyone thought they were saris. But soon they were widely accepted,” she recalls. The fastest movers off her shelves these days are kurtas, from mauve and red to black and yellow.

The survey, say NIFTians, has left the final-year students itching to invade the Calcutta menswear market. “The Calcutta man may have miles to go when it comes to style, but that’s exactly why there’s so much we can do,” summed up the budding designers, raring to change the way the Calcuttan carries himself.

   

 
 
RALLY ALERT FOR PASSENGERS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 12: 
Watch your watch to catch that flight. That’s the message from the airlines to all passengers headed out of town on Sunday. With the CPM promising to add another feather to its ‘anti-imperialist’ cap on Sunday with a mahamichhil to protest the US attack on Afghanistan, Indian Airlines, Alliance Air, Jet Airways and Sahara have requested passengers to reach the airport well ahead of time.

A joint Indian Airlines and Alliance Air communiqué on Friday warned of widespread “dislocation of transport facilities and road communication” as the ruling party takes over the streets. Both Jet and Sahara officials say they are calling up passengers, urging them to leave for the airport well in advance on Sunday.

Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway officials expressed the fear that many passengers could miss their trains if they got held up in traffic. Metro Railway, too, has made emergency arrangements for Sunday. Responding to a plea from the School Service Commission (SSC) authorities, Metro officials have decided to start operations from 12.30 pm — instead of 3 pm — at 15-minute intervals for the benefit of SSC examinees.

Commission officials confirmed on Friday that it was the spectre of the ruling party’s mahamichhil on Sunday that had prompted them to approach the Metro Railway with the request.

Sunday’s proposed CPM rally may be the biggest, but it is certainly not the first anti-war rally the city has witnessed and will certainly not be the last.

The rally raj, compounded by the daily dose of downpour, has hit office-goers and Puja shoppers hard. Also at the receiving end has been the trading community, banking on pre-Puja sales.

   

 
 
BASU’S BARADI BECKONS MAMATA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 12: 
It’s a time-tested route to the top of the heap in the awards for the best Puja. You turn a part of a city road into a village, doll it up with paddy fields and hyacinth-filled ponds and presto! You can be almost certain of winning a prize for ‘promoting’ Bengali culture during Durga puja. Suruchi Sangha, a club in New Alipore, will tread that route this year.

But the village that the organisers, led by Trinamul Congress leader Arup Biswas, have picked to recreate is sure to plunge the party into a fresh round of controversy.

The village to be re-created is Baradi. It lies in Dhaka district in Bangladesh. It is the birthplace of Lokenath Baba, one of the most revered gurus of Bengal. No inkling of any controversy there.

But there’s one catch. Baradi is also the village from where Jyoti Basu hails. And Basu is the man who denied the Opposition the pleasures of office for over 24 years. The replica of the village where Trinamul Congress’ bete noire hails from is going to be inaugurated by none other than Mamata Banerjee, also the local MP, who has spared no occasion to tear into Basu over the past decade.

But Biswas, also councillor of ward 81 and chairman of Borough X, does not see any problem there. The club is paying tribute to Lokenath Baba and not Jyoti Basu, he avers.

“Ram and Ravan may live in the same place,” he told Metro. “We will be ignoring Ravan and worshipping Ram,” he said, when asked whether Mamata’s inauguration of the Jyoti Basu village model would create another round of controversy for the party.

The press release issued by the club promises quite a spectacle. “Come to the magical world of moonlit Baradi village, in Dhaka district,” the invitation reads, offering Calcuttans a “pollution-free world” within the pandal.

Pre-recorded calls of birds and frogs and crickets will help recreate the sylvan surroundings. But the draw, most certainly, will be a four-ft-by-one-and-a-half-ft fish. Weighing 22 kg, it will swim around in a ‘hyacinth-filled, shadowy pond’ which is likely to be the local tank deliberately de-glamourised to give it a rustic look.

There will be cattlesheds and granaries and temples to Lord Shiva and Lokenath Baba to complete the rural effect. But, the organisers will have to wait till Dashami to find out whether the Trinamul-backed club’s Puja ends up being remembered as an ode to Jyoti Basu as well.

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
 

Court refuses referee role in cable war

Down memory lane: Students of GD Birla Centre for Education visit the inmates of Navanir, a home for the elderly, for a programme organised by HelpAge India on Friday. Picture by Aranya Sen The consumers’ court has dealt a body blow to cable television subscribers by refusing to play referee in the operator-subscriber war. The consumers’ court is “not the competent authority” to determine the price of a service, the Calcutta District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ruled, thereby overturning subscribers’ plea to the court to bind down cable-operators to a “fair and logical” price-structure. Santi Ranjan Saha, a resident of AH block, took his cable operator to court after the monthly fees were hiked from Rs 150 to Rs 200 for individual houses and from Rs 130 to Rs 180 for housing complexes. Saha collected comprehensive material, showing the different price-structures prevalent in various parts of Calcutta. Linkmen, the lone operator linking up Salt Lake homes with RPG Netcom, countered by arguing that the revised price-structure was necessary. The court, comprising president H.K. Roy Basunia and members R. Acharyya and A. Agnihotri, upheld the operator’s plea.

Taxi rates for pandal-hopping

Taxis will be available at a concessional rate for pandal-hopping during the Pujas, an official of the Bengal Taxi Association said. People wanting to book a puja-special taxi for a minimum of four hours will have to pay Rs 320 and Rs 80 for every subsequent hour. They may book taxis at the central cell that has begun to function for the purpose at 475-3505 or 474-2249 between 10 am and 5 pm. The enquiry number of the association’s north Calcutta centre at 182/B, APC Road is 555-4049 while the south Calcutta centre at 63/3B Sarat Bose Road can be reached at 475-3505.

Agitation at varsity

Activities at Jadavpur University were disrupted on Friday as teachers stayed away, protesting the authorities’ decision to introduce a five-day-week. Some arts faculty teachers, who support the move, however, attended work. The ceasework was organised by the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association. Examinations were kept out of the purview of the agitation.

Khadim’s arrest

The CID and the Delhi Police raided a house in the Jama Masjid area in Delhi to arrest Rashid, 30, on charges of involvement in the kidnapping of shoe magnate Parthapratim Roy Burman. Police said Rashid is an associate of Dubai-based gangster Safique, alias Raju, who is believed to have kidnapped Roy Burman. Rashid is reportedly aware of Raju’s whereabouts. Detectives were on Rashid’s trail for the past month. A crime branch officer speaking over phone from Delhi said Rashid had arrived in the city last week and was staying in Karol Bag. He shifted to the Jama Masjid area recently. Rashid is being brought to the city from Delhi on Saturday.

Back on beam

ESPN and STAR Sports, which had been blacked out in several parts of the city covered by SitiCable operators, are now back in one of the control rooms which had suffered following rate dispute with the broadcaster. Cal Com, which caters to large sections of north and east Calcutta, got the channels restored on Friday while the signals remain off at the other control room, Purvi, which filed an application for restoration on Friday.

CMC ceasework

Work at Calcutta Municipal Corporation and its offices was affected when a large section of the employees responded to a pen-down strike called by the CMC Clerks Grade union, a Citu affiliate.    

 
 
GAIL STRIKES GAS OFF DIGHA COAST 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 12: 
Industrial resurgence in Bengal received a boost after Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) said it had found a vast offshore gas reserve some 150 km from the Digha coast.

GAIL chairman Prosanto Banerjee met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today at Writers’ Buildings and apprised him of the company’s findings as well as its plans for a joint venture collaboration with a Russian company for commercial production.

GAIL has proposed “unending supply” of industrial gas to Haldia and other parts of Midnapore district through a pipeline.

A smiling Bhattacharjee told reporters that the GAIL project will help the Haldia industrial zone grow at a much faster rate.

Talks between the gas major and the Russian company have reached an advanced level, he said. But officials did not divulge details or even the name of the Russian firm.

GAIL has also found a reserve in Myanmar, which is much larger than the one at Digha. The GAIL chairman is understood to have told the chief minister that it has plans to lay an undersea pipeline from Myanmar to Bengal.

Bhattacharjee said GAIL has taken up the proposal with the Myanmar government and so far the response was positive.

Besides the downstream projects of Haldia Petrochemicals, the gas supply will help the power sector.

GAIL, which is working with the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation in the coal-based methane project at Ranigunj and Asansol, has also proposed to lay pipelines via Hooghly, Howrah and Kulpi to Haldia.

Hope for IISCO

Hopes rekindled at the ailing Indian Iron & Steel Company (IISCO) with its parent, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), working on a Rs 1,080-crore revival proposal which it will submit to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.

SAIL chairman Arvind Pande said at a meeting with central trade unions here today that the steel major was keen to revive IISCO either through a joint venture with Russian firm TyazPromExport (TPE) or by itself.

   

 
 
CM CLEAN CHIT TO WRITERS’ COPS 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Oct. 12: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today turned down the home department’s recommendation to punish policemen on security duty at Writers’ Buildings who had stopped Trinamul Congress MLA Sougata Roy from entering the state administrative headquarters on October 9.

Bhattacharjee told reporters that the security personnel had not stopped Roy but only enquired about his appointment as the Trinamul MLA’s visit was not mentioned in the list of visitors kept with the security staff.

Bhattachrjee said: “I have personally talked to Roy over the telephone expressing my sincere regret over Tuesday’s incident. I have explained to him that Writers’ security staff might have overreacted after Trinamul MLA, Paresh Pal’s, agitation and squatting outside my office in the protected area on Monday. It seems to me that Roy had accepted my regret as he agreed to forget the incident.”

He regretted that the very next day the Trinamul Congress demanded a public apology from him for preventing Roy from entering Writers’ Buildings.

Describing the Trinamul Congress’ demand as unfortunate and uncalled-for, Bhattacharjee said: “It will be a mistake to interpret my regret to Roy as my weakness. I am a perfect gentleman to another gentleman. But at the same time I know how to behave in a situation like this.”

   
 

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