GE Capital comes a-calling
Health, hospitality at press of button
Cloth dealer gunned down in Watgunge
CM brushes off kidnap case bail
Malaria count busts bite myths
The City Diary
Buddha flays cops for Salt Lake landfill
Tax interest waiver treads shaky ground
B.Sc,BA results deferred, blame on examiners
Road racket cashes in on blind faith

Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
It’s made its mark in Gurgaon and Hyderabad. And if things go ac cording to plan, GE Capital, India, could soon set up its third call cen tre in Calcutta.

Pramod Bhasin, president of the Indian outfit of GE Worldwide, attending the ICE (information, communication and entertain ment) summit in town, was clearly on a recce. He spent most of Mon day getting a .firsthand feel. of the infrastructure, work atmosphere and quality of manpower in the city.

After holding forth on .global uncertainty. at the CII meet, he was escorted by senior govern ment officials on a conducted tour of the Salt Lake Electronic Com plex. Striking a governmentcor porate balance, Bhasin met the top brass at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cognizant Technology Solutions and Tata Consultancy Services, before head ing for Writers. Build ings in the evening. Bhasin met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, and, according to sources, discussed GE’s plans for setting up a call centre in some detail.

Earlier in the day, Bhasin told Metro: .I studied in Calcutta and I am really inter ested in checking out how things have changed in the city. Besides, the company is always open to ex ploring opportunities in various places and I am keen to study the facilities here.. Refus ing to elaborate on GE’s eastern India plans, Bhasin explai ned that the Calcutta connection was noth ing new. .We already recruit handsomely from here,. he smiled.

According to the state’s IT secretary Jaya Dasgupta, efforts have been on for some time to bring GE Capi tal to the state. .IT minister Manab Mukherjee had a discussion in this regard with Bhasin during his recent visit to Delhi. It’s heartening that he has shown interest in checking out fa cilities in the city,. Dasgupta said.

Government officials, on condi tion of anonymity, admitted that they had been instructed to roll out the red carpet for GE, India, boss. The ITservices major had, after all, recruited over 6,000 young peo ple this year in an atmosphere of general economic gloom.

If Monday was reserved for business counterparts and gov ernment officials, Bhasin plans to devote Tuesday to college stu dents. He will be visiting at least three leading city colleges.

.The call centres in Gurgaon and Hyderabad, where around 9,000 people are employed, are manned by freshers just out of col lege. He probably wants to assess the Englishspeaking skills and computer proficiency of the stu dents in Calcutta, before finally de ciding on a call centre in the city,. observed a government official.


Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
Imagine picking up the telephone, dialling a number and getting all relevant information on availability of beds and doctors or details of treatment in any government hospital in town. All this on a voice response system to be updated on the hour, every hour. If the government gives the goahead, this could soon become reality.

This is just one of the massbased IT applications that NRI businessman Milan Kumar Awon has envisaged for Calcutta and West Bengal. Next week, the 45yearold New Jerseybased entrepreneur begins India operations with headquarters in .his city.. It took 10 years since his first venture in pharmaceuticals to build an emerging global IT company, with an annual business volume of $20 million. Now, he is all set to .return to motherland. with proposals aplenty.

Awon,who passed his HS exams from Baranagar Ramakrishna Mission in 1974, and graduated from Goenka College of Commerce,went to the US for higher studies. By 1987, he had a degree in business administration and an MS in IT and finance from New York University.Within four years, he set up his first endeavour in medicine, but his focus shifted to IT three years later,when he started Innovative Solution Systems (ISS), to provide .integrated IT solutions and applications..

Awon’s company has offices in Pennsylvania, Silicon Valley, New York,Brussels, the UK and Sydney. And now, in Calcutta, after a school classmate persuaded him about a move he had been mulling for some time. .The Chandrababu Naiduled Andhra government had approached me to set up our Indiaoperations hub in Hyderabad. But I chose Calcutta, backed by a strong hope that the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjeeadministration would welcome our proposals.

. ISS has drawn up an investment plan of $5 million for the next one year in the Asian arena..We have already established a small setup at Benfish Bhavan in Salt Lake, employing about 50 people,. said Gurudas Sarkar, the company’s CEO in India.

The company is in the process of providing database for health cards being issued through agents of National Insurance Company. The cards would entitle members to free treatment once admitted in any of the empanelled hospitals in the private sector.

Other than health,Awon plans to promote Bengal and India’s tourist spots through a portal,, in five different global languages, to highlight Indian handicrafts and other traditional skills. .India provides tremendous opportunity and scope for business expansion. Skilled personnel are available at rates lesser than what must be paid in the US. And now, a proper IT environment is being created by various states, including Bengal,. said Awon,who was invited to the President’s Dinner in June, a prestigious honour given to those who have contributed to American society.

With the intention of contributing to society back home,Awon has met WBIDC chairman Somnath Chatterjee, IT minister Manab Mukherjee and cottage and small scale industries minister Bangsagopal Chowdhury.


Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
There was blood on the waterfront on Monday morning, with the murder of a Fancy Market shop owner. Mohammed Wasim Ashraf, 30, was gunned down at pointblank range at his Circular Garden Reach Road residence, in the Watgunge area, allegedly by four armed assailants. The area wore a deserted look, with most of the shops shut throughout Mon day. The unidentified killers es caped with more than Rs 1 lakh.

Ashraf was a dealer in clothes and had been running his busi ness from a shop in Fancy Market, which he had taken on lease three months ago. A bachelor, he lived with friend Ghulam Haider, also a cloth merchant.

According to Ghulam, who was not present in the room, four men barged into the house at around 7.45 am. The intruders ap parently claimed to be officers of the Central Bureau of Investiga tion ( CBI).They said they had spe cific information that Ashraf was smuggling gold biscuits into the city.When Ashraf refuted the alle gation, an altercation ensued and gunshots were heard. Minutes later, recounted Ghulam, the four men ran out of the house.

Ghulam, also a bachelor who had come down from Jehanabad in Bihar, told the police that he entered the room to find Ashraf’s blood splattered body on the floor. He, along with some neighbours, rushed Ashraf to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Naseem Ali, officerincharge of Watgunge police station, arrived on the spot and interrogated Ghu lam and other residents. Harmen Preet Singh, deputy commissioner (port), said: .Ghulam supplied us with some details, but his state ments are full of contradictions..

Ghulam, say the police, is the only one who appears to know every detail of Ashraf’s business deals. The two had started out as smalltime merchants, but, of late, Ashraf had hit a purple patch. He had recently taken Rs 80,000 from a bank to invest in his business, a transaction that Ghulam was aware of. .We have taken Ghulam into custody for interrogation,. Ali confirmed.


Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
Two more accused in the Khadim’s abduction case were granted bail by the subdivisional judicial magistrate at Alipore court on Monday, even as chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattachar jee stated that investigation will proceed and the bail blitz will not affect the outcome of the case.

Jameel Ahmed, husband of Swati Pal, and Pawan Maheswari were picked up by the Criminal In vestigation Department (CID) from Mumbai three months ago for their alleged involvement in the abduction of Parthapratim Roy Burman.

Reacting to the spate of bail ap plications being granted due to the CID’s inability to submit char gesheets within the stipulated 90 days from the date of arrest, Bhattacharjee said at Writers. Buildings: .This will not stop us from following up the case to its end..

State police chief Dinesh Vaj pai echoed the chief minister’s viewpoint, saying: .It will be prop er for the police to draw up flaw less chargesheets rather than sub mit incomplete ones..


Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
Sixtysix per cent of blood samples collected from Tiljala test positive for malaria. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhatta charjee’s locality, Palm Av enue, a kilometre or so away, registers a 16 per cent count. Neighbouring Topsia scores even better . around nine per cent . on the malaria count.

Twentythree per cent of blood samples collected from Girish Park has malaria; Bagbazar, a 15 minute walk away, has a 14per cent malaria count; Ultadanga is far safer at seven per cent.

The city’s first .comprehen sive areawise study on malaria . with suggested solutions. . is complete. Involving a samplesize of 300,000 Calcuttans, developed in the GIS mode and funded by the state environment department, it is ready to reach the Calcutta Mu nicipal Corporation on Tuesday. This could trigger a change in malariacombat strategy.

The findings proved that a sin glepronged approach to control ling the disease is .virtually im possible.. With Tiljala differing widely from Topsia and Ultadanga scoring over Girish Park, the study smashes many a malaria myth.

Ward no. 87, for instance, is one of the more affluent ones in Cal cutta. Officially, it does not have even a single slum.Awareness lev els,predictably, are very high, with only six per cent of the population in the ward not aware of the dis ease. But 53 per cent of respon dents in this ward . which sends mayor Subrata Mukherjee to the CMC headquarters . do not use a mosquito net, despite the CMC’s expensive campaign against malaria. Not surprisingly, the Lake Market area is one of the most malariaprone zones in town.

.This is where the study can come in handy,. feels Jayanta Basu, project chief of the Envi ronment Governed Integrated Or ganisation, which . with help from the CMC . created the data base for the software called Macro Area Malaria Control Strategy. .Strategies must be aimed at neighbourhoods to yield results,. he added.

So, for instance, campaigning in the Deshapriya Park area must involve computers and education al films, but the malariaoffensive in Kalabagan must stick to the tra ditional tools of sitanddraw com petitions and health camps.

The target audience, too, will differ from place to place. In Ward 87, for instance,women determine health issues in 75 per cent of the households. But in Ward 85, men determine health issues in more than half the households So, while the combatmalaria cam paign in the Lake Market area can be conducted in the afternoon, north of Deshapriya Park it will be effective in the evening, when the men are back home.

The software has a detailed mapping of every road of the four wards . 43 (KalabaganColooto la), 66 (Topsia), 85 (Deshapriya Park area) and 87 (Lake Market) . covered under the pilot project. Every doctor living on the road, with his/her timings and area of specialisation, and every nursing home, clinic and medical shop will be available to the civic bosses at the click of a mouse.


Calcutta, Nov. 19: 

15 women beaten up in immersion row .

.At least 15 women were beaten up when members of two local clubs at Regent Park clashed on Sunday night over the im mersion of Kali idols. Members of Netaji Sangha allegedly stormed the pandal of rival Abhijan Club while the women were conducting the concluding rituals.A scuffle broke out and the women were forced to flee.

.Trouble erupted afresh around 10 pm,when both clubs brought out their immersion processions and came face to face on Congress Nagar Road. Neither was ready to allow the other party right of way,. said Rajesh Kumar Singh, additional su perintendent of police, industrial.An exchange of words led to fisticuffs and blows.On hearing of the incident, policemen from Regent Park thana rushed to the spot and pacified the mob.No arrests were made as the rival clubs dispersed without lodging a complaint.

Duo in net for twin murders

North 24Parganas police arrested two persons in con nection with the twin murder case in Baguiati during Durga puja. Biswajit Majum dar and Babu Majumdar were picked up during a mas sive manhunt. The duo had fled the spot immediately after the incident, police said.

Bustaxi collision

At least 16 persons were in jured after a private bus hit a taxi on Jawaharlal Nehru Road on Monday afternoon. The bus has been impounded and the driver arrested.

Jute mill lockout

A lockout was declared at National Jute Mill on Convent Road, in Entally, on Monday. About 1,500 mill employees, who have been staging demonstrations in front of the mill gate for the past few weeks, continued with their movement to protest the an nouncement.

Freetrippers held

Eastern Railway (ER) has detained around 43,569 free trippers in October with the help of RPF personnel. Among the detainees, 438 per sons,who failed to pay the railway dues,were prosecut ed.A sum of Rs 37.10 lakh was realised from the others.

In addition to this, the RPF has arrested 2,129 per sons and convicted 1,821 of fenders under different sec tions of the Railways Act.An amount of about Rs 2.24 lakh was realised from them. Alto gether 36 touts were rounded up in October.

Metro inspection

Arvind Sharma, general man ager, Metro Railway, inspect ed the Noapara car shed on Monday. He also visited vari ous construction sites of the proposed extension of Metro Railway from Tollygunge to New Garia and held discus sions regarding the plan and progress of the construction.

Burn milestone

Mackintosh Burn, the pre mier civil construction com pany, has crossed a milestone of Rs 100crore turnover and earned a Rs 2.5 crore profit during 20002001. The occa sion was celebrated at a func tion at Rabindra Sadan, where five ministers of the Left Front Cabinet lauded the efforts of the management and employees in turning around the state public sector company, once declared sick. The 167yearold company is the maker of landmarks like the St Paul’s Cathedral, Dak shineswar Kali temple,Na tional Library, Grand Hotel, Shahid Minar and the Nakho da Mosque, Metropolitan In surance Building and the Cal cutta Municipal Corporation.    

Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
Any attempt to fill up wetlands will be firmly dealt with, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattachar jee said at Writers. Buildings on Monday.

Lashing out at the manner in which a waterbody, covering over 100 bighas in Salt Lake, had been filled up, the chief minister said: .It is surprising that neither the police nor the Salt Lake Municipal Corporation had any knowledge about it..

The issue has put the govern ment as well as the ruling party in an embarrassing situation espe cially when the hue and cry over the filling up of a wetlands at Bar ranagar is yet to die down.

Law has it that anybody found guilty of destroying wetlands could be fined up to Rs 2 lakhs or face imprisonment up to six months.

Bhattacharjee said that he had asked home secretary Sourin Roy to submit a report to him. State fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda met the chief minister dur ing the day and briefed him about the steps initiated by his depart ment. .We shall take stern action against such people irrespective of their political or social back grounds. We took action against the culprits in Baranagar and Dum Dum in North 24 Parganas. We will also pull up the guilty for filling up the wetlands in Salt Lake,. the chief minister said.

Bhattacharjee admitted that the police were not conversant with the laws relating to wetlands and promised to convene a meet ing and initiate an awareness campaign among officers.

The Salt Lake fillup came to the notice of the government only after someone called up the fish eries minister on Kali puja. An FIR was lodged at the instance of the minister on Thursday. But by that time, threefourths of the wa terbody had been filled up by the promoters.

Housing Infrastructural De velopment Corporation (HIDCO), has been entrusted with the job of dredging out the portion, already filled up by the promoters.


Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
The collapse of mayor Subrata Mukherjee’s muchpublicised tax interest waiver scheme is immi nent. Around 76 per cent of the 22,027 applications received from defaultee landlords is yet to be processed by the revenue depart ment. The number of defaultee landlords in the city is more than 1,20,000.

According to the government order, defaultee landlords in Cal cutta would be allowed to pay their outstanding property tax, free of interest, if they deposited the sum by December 31.

From January 2002, the Calcut ta Municipal Corporation (CMC) will have to collect outstanding ar rear property tax by charging in terest and penalty as usual, even if the landlords had applied to the CMC by September 15.

Mukherjee has decided to re quest the state government to ex tend the time period of CMC’s waiver of interest scheme on out standing property tax beyond De cember 2001. Revenue department sources in the CMC said merely six weeks were left to process more than 16,000 applications, when the department could process only 5,800 applications in the past twoandahalf months.

It is the second time that Mukherjee has decided to request the state government to extend the period for the waiver of interest scheme. Earlier, he had requested the government to extend the last date for applications from August 31 to September 15 and the munic ipal affairs department agreed to his request.

According to the mayor, more than Rs 350 crore as house tax is outstanding and if 50 per cent of the defaultee houseowners could avail themselves of the opportuni ty of paying up without interest and penalty, the income of the civic body would have been Rs 150 crore and more.

The CMC charges interest at a rate of 15 per cent on the outstand ing principal up to Rs 1 lakh. The rate of interest is 18 per cent if the outstanding principal crosses the lakh mark.

Penalty is charged as onetime payment at a rate of 15 per cent on the principal amount.

However, the rate of sponta neous response so far received from the defaulters and the pace at which they are being processed in the revenue department are en couraging..We have received over 20,000 applications between Au gust and September,. said deputy municipal commissioner (rev enue),N.K. Roy.

Of the total 22,027 applications, revenue officers in the CMC could process only 5,800 and raised de mand notices, totalling about Rs 27 crore. But more than 4,000 land lords did not cough up their dues even after getting demand notices because of dispute over the amount, claimed as outstanding by the CMC.


Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
Calcutta University’s B.Sc Part I examination results,which were slated to be published within this week, are being deferred once again.

University officials said the date of announcement of the re sults might be pushed back to Novemberend if the examiners fail to submit the marks of the candidates by Wednesday.

The B.A. results are not likely to be published before the second week of December, they said.

The delay is, reportedly, due to the marks of a large section of examinees,who had taken a sub ject from the humanities group as one of their main elective pa pers, being held up.

The delay has upset the stu dents since it would affect their practicals that are slated to begin soon. .Such uncertainties have a direct effect on our ca reers, which I hope the authori ties understand,. complained a student.

The results of both B.A. and B.Sc were supposed to have been published last month. But it was noticed that though the marks of B.Sc examinees had arrived at the university, a bulk of examin ers, who were engaged in cor recting B.A. answer scripts, had failed to complete their work till the last week of October.

In the interest of the B.Sc stu dents, the authorities had then decided to publish their results first.

It had announced that the B.Sc results would be published after Kali puja. The authorities had decided to publish the B.Sc and B.A. results separately even though the university had al ways been publishing them to gether.

However, sources in the uni versity said on Monday that stu dents under Calcutta Universi ty’s B.Sc courses could opt for combination of science and arts subjects.

For example, a student can choose from a combination of physics, chemistry and political science.

.It is because of this facility the publication of the results has become uncertain. There are a large number of examinees among the B.Sc candidates, who had appeared in humanities sub jects. But the marks of these pa pers have not yet reached the university,. said an official of the university.

For example, at least 1,500 B.Sc examinees had political sci ence as one of their compulsory paper and most answer scripts in this subject have not been exam ined yet.

Nearly 600 B.Sc examinees had history as one of their main subjects and the marks of this paper have not reached the ex amination department till date.

According to Onkar Sadhan Adhikari, controller of examina tions, it was not possible to pub lish the results until all marks reached the university. .

The number of incomplete results will be high if we publish them without including those whose answerscripts in the hu manities paper have not yet been corrected,. an official said.


Calcutta, Nov. 19: 
The authorities of two well known institutes for blind in Cal cutta are concerned over a racket in collecting donations and selling incense sticks, spices and other products using their names.

The authorities of both the in stitutions, Calcutta Blind School, Behala, and Blind Boys. Academy, Narendrapur, have lodged com plaints with the police and sought necessary measures to stop the .rising menace..

In their complaint, Calcutta Blind School authorities said that young boys were often seen selling incense sticks and spices at vari ous places in the city and in the districts .

The youth, reportedly, ap proach customers saying that the incense sticks are made by the stu dents of Calcutta Blind School or the Blind Boys. Academy in Narendrapur.

But according to officials of the two institutions, none of the schools has any unit for manufac turing incense sticks.

Ashoke Choudhury, principal, Calcutta Blind School, said the name of the schools often drew sympathy from the customers, who would buy the products with out verifying their authenticity. .But we cannot allow the miscre ants to cheat people using the name of our school,. said Choud hury.

According to him, his school had evidence that such a racket had been raising funds using the name of their institution.

.A wellwisher even showed us the false receipts bearing the name of our institution. Seeming ly, they were given these receipts after they donated handsome amounts. We never raise funds this way,. Choudhury said.

The officials of both the insti tutions cautioned people not to do nate funds without verifying the identities of those who ap proached them.

An official of the blind school at Narendrapur, which is run by the Ramakrishna Mission, said that spices are the only products, manufactured by the students of their institute. .But we do not ask our students to sell it on the streets. Nor have we employed anyone to do the job for us.We sell spice through our own units,. said an official of the school.

The police are on the lookout for the cheats.


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