Big guns to get Bengal booming
A bitter dose: Justice denied for patient plight
Pigs die in children’s hospital
Catch ‘em young to sell your dreams
The City Diary
Sail-and-see Puja bonus
Bihar gang of dacoits trapped
Thriving zoo racket in rhino urine
Hospitals off party clutches
Two die a week after

 
 
BIG GUNS TO GET BENGAL BOOMING 
 
 
BY SUTANUKA GHOSAL
 
Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
Big names to sell Bengal in a big way. That’s the latest business strategy of Buddhadeb ‘do-it-now’ Bhattacharjee.

The chief minister has, according to sources, played the lead role in roping in corporate big guns Ratan Tata, Tarun Das, Sushim Mukul Datta and Rama Prasad Goenka as members of the State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB). The Board is being set up to improve “government-industry interface”.

“Ratan Tata and R.P. Goenka will bring their vast experience in running an industry to the table and provide valuable inputs about problems and solutions. Sushim Mukul Datta and Tarun Das will act as a bridge between the state and investors,” a senior government official said on Thursday.

According to industry sources, the presence of Ratan Tata in the CM’s dream team will be a huge “plus”. Tata, who is also a member of the Prime Minister’s industry and trade advisory council, “is expected to highlight the state’s case before the Central government”.

Tarun Das, who has taken over as non-executive chairman of Haldia Petrochemicals, is widely regarded as “an influential figure in Indian industry” and is expected to “contribute a lot to the industrialisation of Bengal”.

Bhaskar Banerjee, managing director of Duncans Industries Limited, reacted positively to the news. “This is a very good move by a government that seems serious about industrialisation of Bengal,” said the former president of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “As all members of the Board belong to the big league, it will help the state government lobby better at every business forum.”

The SIPB is being set up along the lines of Singapore Trade Development Board, which is credited with leading the South-East Asian country into the international trade arena and marketing its products and services around the world.

“The Board is expected to bring in more transparency between the government and industry and expedite the process of investment in the state. Besides industrial stalwarts, presidents of the leading chambers of commerce and industry will also be inducted as SIPB members,” said a senior industrialist.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has also decided to “strengthen” Shilpa Bandhu (the single-window agency) of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) and set up a state facilitation centre. The centre, with which Shilpa Bandhu will be merged, will be chaired by Somnath Chatterjee, chairman of WBIDC.

To expedite the process of investment, it has been decided that the empowered officers of the facilitation centre will be entrusted with the power to give “instant clearance” to the proposals it receives.

“At this juncture, the government has felt the need for expediting the entire process of investment. The delay between proposal and sanction is a common complaint in the industry circles. So, it has been decided that the powers be delegated to the officers to ensure that the potential investor does not have to run from pillar to the post,” an industry source added.

Looking beyond the city, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government is also in the process of “rejuvenating the district-level investment facilitation committees” and reconstituting the cabinet committee on industries.

   

 
 
A BITTER DOSE: JUSTICE DENIED FOR PATIENT PLIGHT 
 
 
BY TAPAS GHOSH
 
Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
Incident 1: Madhabilata Das, 25, resident of New Delhi, was suffering from a lower abdominal pain. Husband Dinabandhu brought her to Calcutta, as they knew a doctor here. On his advice, Madhabilata was admitted to Calcutta Maternity and Nursing Home, in Shyambazar, where a surgeon advised her to go in for surgery. A cardiologist called in to check the patient’s heart said she was “OK”.

Madhabilata died on the operation table. It was later revealed that her heart was weak. Her husband moved the West Bengal Medical Council. The cardiologist was censured by the council, but he continues to practise.

Incident 2: Ananda Das of Kanchrapara, a northern suburb, went to “eye specialist” Shivnath Das, who runs a nursing home there. Ananda’s sight deteriorated under treatment. His father lodged a complaint with the council. On July 31, the council struck Dr Das’ name off its register for six months.

Incident 3: After eight years of marriage, Tapati Sinha conceived. She was advised complete bed rest by her family physician. She was admitted to a nursing home in Lake Town in March. But for a USG scan, Tapati had to be taken to a clinic in Salt Lake. On the way, she suffered a miscarriage and was rushed back to Lake Town. Two days later, she died. Lake Town police refused to register a complaint against the doctor. The Medical Council, however, accepted the complaint.

These instances are just a few of the over-100 cases initiated against doctors for alleged negligence in the treatment of patients. In almost every case, the West Bengal Medical Council has taken note of the matter but let off the errant doctors. Lawyers dealing with such cases say that a growing number of people are coming forward to initiate proceedings against doctors and nursing homes. But very few are getting justice.

The medical council, which allots doctors their registration numbers after graduation, has 166 cases pending against doctors. Of these, after 10 long years, the council has arrived at a verdict on 16 doctors, said Saibalendu Bhowmick, the council’s lawyer. “As per the Medical Council Act, we have showcaused the 16 doctors.”

West Bengal Medical Council registrar D.K. Ghosh admits there has been a spurt in the number of complaints. “But the process is long-drawn. The aggrieved family has to file the complaint first. All prescriptions, diagnostic reports and hospital records have to be submitted. If there is a prima facie case, it is referred to the president of the council, then to the secretary. A penal and ethical committee then probes the case and, after several hearings, if two-thirds of the members agree that there has been negligence, a verdict is passed,” he said.

Chairperson of the Consumer Coordination Council, Mala Banerjee, said: “The medical council has to be shaken into some sort of action. Now that we know there are so many complaints lodged, we shall launch a movement for justice to the people.”

   

 
 
PIGS DIE IN CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
The death of nine pigs on the campus of the B.C. Roy Children’s Hospital, at Narkeldanga, in the past 48 hours has prompted the state health department to push the panic button.

“The issue raises questions on the level of hygiene at the hospital,” said Corporation officials.

Health department officials admitted that a section of the staff of all state-run hospitals-cum-colleges was guilty of flouting rules, which banned the rearing of domestic animals on campus.

With the deaths taking the CPM-led state government by surprise and resulting in all-round embarrassment, the Trinamul-controlled CMC tried to score a point on Thursday. Member, mayor-in-council (building) and local councillor Swapan Samaddar took the initiative in the past two days to have the carcasses removed.

The management made no effort to remove the carcasses or disinfect the spots for several hours before Samaddar, responding to appeals from Narkeldanga residents, had them removed, officials admitted.

“We can only hope the deaths on campus do not spark some epidemic,” a state health department official said. Finding the health department on a sticky wicket, the Trinamul upped the ante.

“Hundreds of pigs roam around on the hospital campus at any given time,” said Samaddar. “These pigs even cross the hospital boundary and enter residential areas in my ward,” he added.

“We have sent numerous letters to the hospital authorities, asking them to do something, but they haven’t bothered to reply even once,” Samaddar said.

B.C. Roy Children’s Hospital superintendent Anup Mandal, however, rubbished Samaddar’s allegations. All the pigs, found dead on the campus, happened to enter the hospital compound through numerous gaps in the boundary wall, he said.

Notwithstanding the hospital superintendent’s explanations, state health secretary Asim Barman has asked him to send a detailed report on the circumstances leading to the nine deaths.

   

 
 
CATCH ‘EM YOUNG TO SELL YOUR DREAMS 
 
 
BY MADHUMITA BHATTACHARYYA
 
Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
Mirror mirror, on the wall! Who is the cutest and cuddliest of them all?

That well-timed gurgle, the guileless grin can really pack in a ’dhishoom dhishoom’ (Pepsodent, of course). So, whether it’s the boy with a dhoonuchi singing ‘Dena dena’ for an Alpenliebe or the tiny girl in red for the Asian Paints kumari puja, there’s a baby at every remote click this festive season.

And, inspired by the tiny-tots in so many TV and print ads, parents seem to be grabbing the chance to catapult their kids into stardom. The numbers speak for themselves. Dream Merchants, a city-based modelling agency, has seen 1,500 children between the six months and 15 years crawl or strut into their studio in recent times.

“Kids, the younger the better, are major competition for even leggy female models nowadays,” feels Sanchita Kushari Bose of Dream Merchants. The “six-to-10 year-old segment” is the biggest draw for corporates with a message for the family.

Some stumble into the field, while others submit portfolios to agencies. Arjun and Sejal, a brother-sister modelling duo belong to the first category. Their mother, Mini, recalls their surprise break: “We were taking at walk at Victoria Memorial just over a year ago. An agency was shooting there, and they spotted Sejal, just 11 months at the time.” She started with a shoot for the Tata Steel calendar, went on to baby product promos. Then, at a Khadim’s shoot, they spotted Sejal’s brother Arjun, and roped in the eight-year-old.

Agencies such as Ogilvy and Mather prefer to scout around for a fresh face rather than go through a model co-ordinator. “We stop by schools and shopping centres and watch the kids interact, the way they smile, they way they move, the lines on their cheeks,” explains Jayatsen Bhattacharya, copy superviser, O&M.

How do the kids feel about the lights, camera and action? Sejal is “completely natural” in front of the camera, Arjun is more shy, says their mother. But both revel in the lights. The family is happy, “as long as it does not interfere with studies”.

According to Sanchita, some parents put “undue pressure” on the youngsters. “These days, we have newborns queuing up for a slice of the action. I got a call from a young mother who said she was having another child, whose portfolio would be coming along soon,” said Sanchita, who has seen many “lose their innocence along the line”.

For the time being, however, the kids seem to be enjoying life in the limelight. Take Kusumika Nagar. Quite a CV, this nursery student has: Singing and dancing, in addition to modelling for big brands, including Tata Indica. “I like modelling, it’s just like playing,” laughs Kusumika, who was introduced to the world of modelling, as an 18-month-old.

Kid competitions are fast becoming a fixture on the city’s social calendar. At a children’s product exhibition recently, a Sweet Baby Contest was held every day. “The response from parents was tremendous,” recalls T.S. Walia, organiser of the bi-annual fair at Ice Skating Rink. The baby beauty pageant, drawing around 50 contestants a day, found a ready sponsor in a nappy company and the flashbulbs didn’t stop popping.

Kids can be more than just a cute face on the screen. “We have seen parents in Calcutta lay stress on including kids in the family’s decision-making process,” adds Bhattacharya. “So, there has been a move to portray kids as choice-makers themselves.”

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
 

CMC to supply more water during Pujas

Calcutta Municipal Corporation has decided to extend the duration of daily filtered water supply in the city proper by 75 minutes on the Puja days. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said the Tallah-Palta network would supply nine million gallons of additional filtered water between October 23 and 31. The duration of supply has been increased during both noon and evening.

Eviction in Jadavpur

Around 200 shanties along Prince Anwar Shah Road and Raja S.C. Mullick Road were dismantled by the Jadavpur police on Thursday. Officer in-charge of Jadavpur police station Salil Bhattacharya said the eviction lasted for over three hours. There were no untoward incidents. The eviction process covered Deshapran Sashmal Road and areas around Sukanta Setu.

Factory gutted

A plastic goods manufacturing unit at Ghoshpara in Salkia, Howrah district was completely gutted on Thursday. The fire was caused by a short circuit around 6.30 am, fire brigade officials said. Twenty fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames in the unit, located in a densely populated area. The flames were brought under control by fire-fighters shortly after 2 pm.

Salt Lake taxi booths

A 24-hour taxi booth at Nicco Park and another pre-paid taxi booth at Karunamoyee were inaugurated on Thursday afternoon. The booths were inaugurated by the vice-chairman of Bidhan Nagar Municipality. The booth at Karunamoyee will serve residents of both Salt Lake and travellers from Bangladesh, who land at the International Bus Terminus, said Kalyan Bhadra, president of Bengal Taxi Association. Taxis at the Nicco Park booth, a Concern for Calcutta project, can be booked over phone.

Pandal inspection

City police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty inspected puja pandals at Mohammad Ali Park, College Square, Santosh Mitra Square and Kaiser Street on Thursday and asked the organisers to remove some stalls which might obstruct the passage of pandal-hoppers. He said except a few minor lapses, the pandals were erected following rules and regulations.

Mayor meeting

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee met municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya in his chamber at noon. This was in defiance of party chief Mamata Banerjee’s diktat against meeting Left Front ministers at Writers’ Buildings. The meeting, which lasted for half an hour, centred on the development of the city, sources said.

Festive specials

In order to meet the rush of passengers during the Pujas, Eastern Railway has announced special trains for Dehra Dun, Jodhpur and Delhi. The 231 Up/ 232 Down trains will make 43 additional trips between Delhi and Howrah either way, while the Jodhpur specials will make 11 trips and the Doon Special six trips. South Eastern Railway, too, will run additional trains. The Up Kurla Superfast train will make 14 trips, the Chennai Superfast 14, the Puri Special 6 and the Yashvantpur Special 13 trips. The number of bogeys in eight extra trains is also being augmented by AC-3 tier and sleeper class coaches. Eastern Railway will run puja specials between October 24 and 26 at night to help visitors from suburban sections. Howrah station will also be beautified.

Wanted for assault

The city police are on the lookout for Nathani Singh, a KS Roy Road resident, for allegedly beating up some labourers employed by Ghanashyam Kankaria. Police said trouble started after Singh stopped the labourers from carrying out repairs. Singh was reportedly wanted in connection with arson in the past.

Arrest order waived

Justice D.P. Sengupta of Calcutta High Court on Thursday set aside the warrant of arrest issued by the Alipore sub-divisional judicial magistrate against Sumita Sen and Promit Sen, wife and elder son of late Rabindrasangeet singer Sagar Sen. The SDJM had issued the warrant in connection with a case filed by Promit’s wife Swastika, alleging torture by her in-laws.

Best lion prize

IBP, the city-based oil company, has instituted the Shrestha Singha Purashkar for the most appropriately designed lion in puja pandals. The first prize will be a cash award of Rs 25,000, while the second and third prizes will be Rs 20,000 and Rs 15,000 respectively. Thumbs Up TO rotary club of calcutta cosmopolitan for distributing injections among thalassaemia patients    

 
 
SAIL-AND-SEE PUJA BONUS 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
Take a leisurely cruise down the Hooghly on Mahasaptami morning, hop into a Park Street restaurant for lunch and then take 40 winks, before preparing for a night-long pandal-hop in north and south Calcutta. This is no run-of-the-mill version of a typical Puja day, but a West Bengal tourism department package being introduced this year.

“We have taken some firm steps to promote Durga Puja and Calcutta during this year’s festivities,” said tourism minister Dinesh Dakua . About 1.5 million visitors are due in the city from its suburbs during the four festive days. The railways expect 100,000 tourists from other states. This year, the tourism department will set up giant video screens at Victoria Memorial and Deshapriya Park, which will beam major pujas. “We have tied up with hotels and restaurants, as well as tour operators, to promote package tours for visitors,” Dakua said. A Ganga heritage tour has been lined up for October 26 and 29, to take tourists on a cruise from the city upriver to Murshidabad.

Restaurants on Park Street have been ordered to put up illuminations. Buses and the Metro will ply till the late hours. And, to cap it all, the immersion ceremony will be beamed on a giant screen to be set up near Netaji Indoor Stadium.

   

 
 
BIHAR GANG OF DACOITS TRAPPED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
The police busted a gang of criminals from Bihar, which had looted traders and shoppers over the past year. Deputy commissioner of police, detective department, Soumen Mitra, said detectives masquerading as labourers were on the gang’s trail for the past month, before finally nailing them at Howrah station on Thursday.

The detectives nabbed two of the gang members while they were alighting at Howrah station.

Mitra said the duo was identified as Sashi Sahoo and Naresh Sahoo from Darbhanga. Last year, Sashi, Naresh and three others arrived in the city to try their luck. They were involved in six incidents of snatching and dacoity early this year in Posta and Burrabazar. With the police hot on their trail, they migrated to Patna and Mughalsarai. They returned in the middle of this year and took up jobs at a jute mill. “They were earning Rs 150 a day, but it was a ploy to look for prey,” said Mitra.

Mitra said the detectives picked up the lead after the gang looted a petrol pump at Phoolbagan. Meanwhile, the police went thrice to Bihar but the criminals escaped before the team arrived.

The gang was reportedly re-grouping in Darbhanga and planning a major operation in Calcutta. Detectives went to Bihar and, posing as villagers, tried to locate the house they were staying in.

They were tipped off that the gang might leave for Howrah, which is when the police started trailing them. As the train pulled into the station, detectives took the two criminals in custody.

   

 
 
THRIVING ZOO RACKET IN RHINO URINE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 18: 
The two rhinos at Alipore zoo appear to have become targets of an organised gang. The animals are reportedly being forced to relieve themselves, after which the urine is sold for Rs 250 a litre, the police said on Thursday.

According to joint commissioner of police, Raj Kanojia, the urine is stored in plastic bottles and kept in the staff quarters, where later they are sold in areas adjoining the zoo by quacks, who claim the liquid has curative powers. The buyers second that, claiming a rhino’s urine has medicinal value and is used in Unani and Chinese medicines.

However, director of Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve Atanu Raha said: “There is no medicinal property in the urine and faeces of the rhino, tiger or other animals. A section of unscrupulous people just make a packet out of such practices.”

Investigators were trying to ascertain whether the animals were being doped to make them urinate. According to sources, the operation takes place around midnight near the staff quarters opposite Alipore zoo.

An inquiry has been launched following a complaint lodged by the people living in the vicinity of the zoo.

Chief wildlife warden G.B. Thapliyal said sale of rhino urine is banned. “Rhinos are highly endangered. They are included in the red list of protected animals,’’ he said.

The zoo authorities said currently, there are two rhinos in the enclosure. Three people have been entrusted with the task of feeding and cleaning them.

They said the usual procedure of getting rid of about 10 litres of accumulated urine daily is to flush it down the drain. About a decade earlier, rhino urine was sold to the public at the zoo gate every morning, but the practice was stopped after the animals were declared endangered.

DC, port, Harmanpreet Singh, said the Watgunge police interrogated four people from Kidderpore on Wednesday. Preliminary investigations point the needle of suspicion towards zoo employees.

   

 
 
HOSPITALS OFF PARTY CLUTCHES 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Burdwan, Oct. 18: 
After dissolving the managing committees of state-run hospitals in Calcutta, the government today repeated the act in the districts.

The move is being seen as an attempt by the government to reduce the party’s influence in the day-to-day functioning of hospitals.

After a meeting in Burdwan to review the healthcare system, health minister Suryakanta Mishra announced that all managing committees of district hospitals in Burdwan, Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum and Hooghly and their district-level monitoring committees, had been dissolved.

The meeting was attended by health secretary Asim Barman and the director of health services, Sujoy Das, besides the district magistrates, sabhadhipatis, chief medical officers and block medical officers.

Mishra also expressed his displeasure over the functioning of health centres in these districts, said sources in the district administration. He directed the chief medical officers of these districts to restore work culture in hospitals and health centres. “We will not tolerate any indiscipline or shirking of duties. Take drastic action against employees who organise any kind of agitation inside hospitals. You will have to ensure that people get proper treatment when they come to a government hospital,” he said.

Mishra explained to officials that from now on the superintendents of respective hospitals would function as supreme authority, as they did in Calcutta. Apart from daily administration, the superintendent will look after matters relating to appointments and purchase of equipment and medicines, he said.

The minister, however, said the district-level hospital monitoring committee will be restructured. Sabhadhipatis would become chairpersons, district magistrates vice-chairpersons and the chief medical officers will become member-secretaries, he said.

Mishra directed health department officials to stop using private attendants in hospitals from November 1. He also indicated that polyclinics would be introduced in medical colleges all over the state.

The health minister also asked hospital superintendents to take immediate steps to free hospitals from illegal settlers and build up a patient-friendly atmosphere. “It is high time that we build up an atmosphere of competition among government hospitals,” he said.

Everyone will have to pitch in — from doctors to group-D employees. Otherwise, we will not be able to survive the onslaught of the private hospitals that are coming up,” he said.

In 42 primary health centres in Burdwan district alone there were no doctors, sources said, adding: “We have informed the minister that we need more equipment, medicines, ambulance and medical and para-medical staff. The minister has assured us our requirements will be looked into.”

In another meeting, Mishra reviewed the recent spread of anthrax in two villages in Burdwan district where at least 25 cattle had died. Symptoms of the disease had also been found in five persons. However, the panic that had reportedly gripped a vast part of the district has now been defused.

The minister asked Burdwan medical college principal Bijay Mukherjee to visit the two villages and submit a report. Meanwhile, a team from the School of Tropical Medicine in Calcutta has rushed to Burdwan to collect samples of anthrax-affected cattle. “We have urged people not to panic or listen to rumours,” said Burdwan superintendent of police B.N. Ramesh.

   

 
 
TWO DIE A WEEK AFTER 
 
 
FROM PROBIR PRAMANIK
 
Siliguri, Oct. 18: 
Two of the 140 women sterilised at a vasectomy camp in the Goshanimari block of Cooch Behar’s Dinhata subdivision died within a week of the operations. The deaths occurred allegedly after the women developed post-operative complications.

The sterilisation was carried out at the Goshanimari block rural primary health centre on September 26 under the state family welfare department’s female sterilisation programme. All the women were in their twenties.

News of the deaths created a sensation in the district with the local Socialist Unity Centre of India’s youth wing, the Democratic Student’s Organisation, alleging that there were more cases of women developing post-sterilisation complications after the camp.

The DSO demanded immediate treatment for the sick and compensation for the dead.

Admitting only one death from among those sterilised at the Goshanimari camp, district chief medical health officer Dr Tamasha Roy told The Telegraph that the allegations that most of the women sterilised had developed complications was an exaggeration.

“We have received the name of one woman, Geeta Burman, (27) of Mashanhat village who reportedly died four days after the vasectomy due to some complications,” Roy said, adding there were no further reports of death connected with the camp.

“Though there have been allegations that many of the other women operated upon had developed complications, we have not received any complaints from the women or their family members,” Roy said.

“Only last week, during the national pulse polio vaccination programme a team of experts checked several mothers who had undergone the sterilisation operation and nothing amiss was found,” Roy said, adding “if there are reports of any complication, the department is ready to send a team of gynaecologists” and provide treatment.

Army jawan arrested

An army jawan was arrested by the Nepalese authorities from Kakarvitta in Jhapa district yesterday evening.

Rajkumar Rai (31), a Nepalese national, was arrested for possessing a country-made pistol and several rounds of live ammunition, police said.

   
 

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