Pro drive for putt revival
Teachers rue admission rule
Bomb hoax
House with a past and bleak future
The City Diary
Mayor wields revamp broom
Woman link in driver’s killing
Boy beaten up, three arrested
Twin cures for medical colleges and hospitals
RSP frowns at Big Brother’s crime Bill

 
 
PRO DRIVE FOR PUTT REVIVAL 
 
 
BY SUBHRO SAHA
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 

City in Royal route return to golf map

Watch out, Delhi. Calcutta is gearing up for a long shot at the lost title of India’s golf capital. IMG, “the world’s largest sports, leisure and entertainment marketing company”, is ready to tee off in town to revive Calcutta’s lost glory on the greens.

“True, Delhi, with its new swank courses and allied developments, has pulled away from the rest of the country in being the golf destination. But Calcutta has a dedicated golfing fraternity and Calcutta has the Royal (Calcutta Golf Club), the second-oldest golf club in the world outside the British Isles. All Calcutta needs is funds,” Rishi Narain, director, golf business (South Asia), IMG, said on Monday.

Narain, who was in town to reiterate IMG’s commitment to the sport, expressed willingness to “contribute in every possible way” to put Calcutta back on the international golf map. As proof of its commitment to the city, IMG has already entered into a five-year association with RCGC for the Royal Challenge Grand Prix Calcutta leg and added the city to the Mercedes-Benz tour as the seventh stop for the next three years.

In its Calcutta push, IMG — which manages, among others, Tiger Woods — has “strong backing” from Shaw Wallace, new title sponsors for the Indian Open. The liquor company, which has stepped in to fill the hole left by ITC in golf sponsorship, has committed to spend Rs 50 crore in the next five years to promote the sport in the country.

RCGC — the 7,169-yard, 18-hole course — lies at the core of the duo’s revival plans for golf in the city. “The Royal course, in terms of its length and layout, with its huge, old raintrees (as opposed to the Delhi courses which just have shrubs) and natural water hazards, is one of the finest in the world. All it needs is proper maintenance and manicure,” said Narain, Asian Games gold medallist in 1982 and national champion two years later. “Also, you can’t take away the historical edge from Royal. Having grown up in this city and played all my golf at the Royal, I would love to be involved in a holistic development of the sport in Calcutta, with this heritage club as the spine, linked to all major golfing destinations in South Asia.”

IMG is ready to offer technical assistance for the course through its consultant wing in Singapore, IMG Golf Course Services, involved with 150 courses across Asia, and boasting Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Vijay Singh as ‘consultant designers’. The club can also be helped to generate additional cash flow by putting up a “resort-type” facility so that deluxe guestrooms, premium food and beverage and allied services can subsidise golf, its “core competence”.

’Bunny’ Lakshman Singh, ex-officio, RCGC, welcomed the move. “The one reason why we have fallen behind is the lack of funds. We have one-tenth of the latest equipment Delhi has and hence, have been left behind in course maintenance. Besides, development plans have been moving at a snail’s pace, thanks to a poor funds flow. So, if IMG and Royal Challenge are genuinely interested in a composite project, it can do wonders not only for the Royal, but for the city in general,” said the Arjuna awardee.

Royal’s former golf captain also explained how six acres of land, opening on to Golf Green, “can house 20-25 luxury villas and support infrastructure to make the club a self-sufficient golfing destination”.

The IMG drive comes at just the right time for the club, busy drawing up grand plans for its 175th anniversary in 2004.

“We will do anything to bring back the glory days of golf in Calcutta, our home turf, and a golfing resort around RCGC is a wonderful idea,” said Amar Sinha, director, Shaw Wallace Distilleries Limited.

Brandon D ‘Souza of Tiger Sports Management, who has done more than his bit to professionally market the game in India, warned there was much ground to be covered before comparisons with Delhi were drawn.

“It is vital to to lure back the corporates who have fled the city. Golf is still the cheapest in Calcutta and to sustain itself, the game needs to find a formula to generate enough funds. Blue chips don’t look at feel-good business any more and every dime is accounted for. But a quality development, with Royal as the axis, can excite corporates and, hopefully, turn things around,” said Brandon.

   

 
 
TEACHERS RUE ADMISSION RULE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
Principals and teachers of prominent Anglo-Indian schools on Monday challenged the Church of North India (Calcutta diocese) move to deprive them of the responsibility of admission in CNI schools. They described the Church action as a blow to the “dignity” of the institutions.

The principals and teachers under other churches, represented by two influential lobbies — the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools and the Association of Teachers of Anglo-Indian Schools — decided to condemn the CNI’s act.

N. McNamara, principal, St Joseph’s School and general secretary of the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools, said the lobby would take up the issue if the CNI school principals formally approached the association and asked it to intercede on their behalf.

“We are aware of the resentment caused by the new CNI admission policy. The principals and teachers of schools under other churches are also unhappy (over the act). We expect them to convey their sentiments to the churches they are under,” said McNamara.

The CNI apart, Roman Catholic and Methodist churches run a number of Anglo-Indian schools. According to knowledgeable sources, the two lobbies will meet soon to finalise separate resolutions condemning the CNI’s act.

The CNI authorities have framed a uniform admission policy for all the schools controlled by the Church, apparently for “transparency” in the admission system.

It justified the new policy by claiming that it has been receiving complaints of corruption relating to admission.

Till now, principals enjoyed the powers to control admission in their respective schools. The CNI has introduced a new system, whereby three members appointed by the Bishop of CNI (Calcutta diocese) will be inducted in the admission panel. Their decision will be final regarding admissions.

The Association of Teachers of Anglo-Indian Schools criticised the CNI decision. “We welcome transparency in admissions. But we do not support the manner in which the Church has attempted to cast aspersions on the heads of institutions,” said Dilip Bhattacharya, general secretary of the association and a senior teacher of La Martiniere for Boys.

The teachers demanded introduction of a lottery system to ensure “transparency.” They stressed the need to include more teacher-members in the selection committees.

The heads of CNI schools were even more incensed on Monday after they received letters from the CNI Bishop, seeking an explanation for their opposition to the new admission policy. Reverend P.S.P. Raju, Bishop of CNI, was not available for comment.

   

 
 
BOMB HOAX 
 
 
BY OUR AIRPORT REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
A bomb hoax held up an Indian Airlines flight to Agartala for more than three hours on Monday morning. An anonymous caller told the airlines’ airport office that a bomb was planted on the aircraft. Securitymen and officials of the bomb disposal squad combed the aircraft, but nothing was found on it.

Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee, with party MPs Ranjit Panja, Bikram Sarkar and Akbar Ali Khondokar, and MLA Tapas Pal were among the passengers.

   

 
 
HOUSE WITH A PAST AND BLEAK FUTURE 
 
 
BY DEBASHIS CHATTOPADHYAY
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
100A, Garpar Road. The house where Upendrakishore Roy Choudhury edited Sandesh; son Sukumar Ray died; grandson Satyajit Ray was born. It is also where Rabindranath Tagore penned Achhey dukkho achhey mrityu, by Sukumar Ray’s deathbed. The north Calcutta building, which now houses a school, is struggling to stop the cracks from triggering a collapse.

Built by Upendrakishore in 1911, the three-storeyed building is now the address of Atheneum Institution, a Higher Secondary school. Teachers and students — well aware of the building’s place in Calcutta lore and anxious about the cracks on the walls and floors that need immediate repair —have been clamouring for its “proper maintenance”. Though the civic authorities have promised, in principle, to declare this a heritage building, no steps have been taken to repair it. In desperation, the Atheneum authorities have turned to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

After Sukumar Ray died in 1923, his widow moved out with two-and-half-year-old Satyajit. The Mullicks of Calcutta purchased the house with 16 rooms, on a 16-cottah plot. The school rented the building in 1930. “Atheneum Institution was founded by Atul Krishna Nandi in 1894 and later shifted here. We now have about 300 students and 17 teachers. We are proud to be lodged in a building with such a remarkable history but maintaining it has become a real problem,” said headmaster Manoranjan Swar.

The school is desperately short of funds. “In August last year, we received a letter from municipal commissioner Debasis Som approving the site, in principle, as a heritage building. Then, a team of CMC officials visited the school, followed by a team from the CMDA. They came and assured us of help, but no steps were taken to repair the building,” added Swar.

The headmaster wrote to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee earlier this month, requesting him to take immediate steps to ensure that repairs were taken up. “Some time ago, portions of the building caved in and we had a miraculous escape,” said Debiprasad Haldar, who teaches English in the school. “The government should respond positively before it is too late,” added some students.

Swar remains optimistic: “We even have plans of building an exhibition hall and library with the works of Upendrakishore, Sukumar Ray and Satyajit Ray, once the building is repaired.”

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
 

Taxi hits patrol van, three cops injured

Three policemen were injured when a taxi hit a patrol van, parked on the eastern slope of Aurobindo Setu, in Maniktala, early on Monday. The taxi driver was also hurt. The driver, Ajit Das, was arrested for driving in an inebriated state. All the injured were admitted to SSKM Hospital. N.C. Pramanik, head constable, is reportedly unconscious.

Clash over damage to idol

Members of two clubs clashed at south Garia, in Sonarpur, on Monday morning over Saraswati Puja. At least 10 persons were injured. Police said the clash broke out when members of one of the clubs found their pandal and idol damaged. Police officials went to the spot and brought the situation under control. Local residents, however, alleged that the clash was the result of infighting between two groups of Trinamul Congress workers. Five persons were later detained for interrogation, additional superintendent of police (industrial), Rajesh Kumar Singh said.

Doctor defence

J.C. Dutta, a city-based physician accused of negligence in treating a patient who died in the operating table, has claimed that the patient’s family members had levelled “false charges” against him. The physician said he had not taken anticipatory bail, as reported by the patient’s family, as no cognisable offence was mentioned in the FIR lodged with the Lake Town police station by Arun Chowdhury, brother of deceased Sriparna Thakur. Dutta said he had lodged a diary against the family members as they had refused to conduct a post-mortem. The relatives had filed a case in the consumer court, demanding Rs 20 lakh as compensation from Lake Town Nursing Home, where she died on June 4, 2001.

Teenager drowns

Manish Singh, 13, drowned in the Hooghly at Sarbamangala Ghat on Monday morning. The boy, a resident of Chitpur, had gone to take a holy dip on Saraswati Puja.

Fire at bank

A fire broke out in a branch of Central Bank of India in the BBD Bag area on Monday morning. Fire brigade sources said an air-conditioning machine sparked the blaze. Two engines were deployed to put out the flames. Many employees were stranded inside the bank for hours but no one was injured.

Hurt in explosion

A bomb exploded beside the railway tracks between Agarpara and Sodepur stations, about 15 km from Sealdah. Railway employee Shri Bhanu, who was clearing bushes nearby, had his fingers blown off. He has been admitted to BR Singh Hospital in a critical condition.

Man killed

A retired army officer was killed in an accident at Asokenagar, in North 24- Parganas, on Monday. Police said the accident occurred when the 45-year-old man was trying to board a train to come to Calcutta.    

 
 
MAYOR WIELDS REVAMP BROOM 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said on Monday he will introduce organisational reforms in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC). “I would like to make the CMC more responsive to the developmental challenges taking place across the world,” he said.

He feels modern times demand a well-knit and financially-smart organisation, capable of delivering the goods promptly.

He has set a six-point programme to achieve this goal:

Extended working hours

Punctuality

Responsibility

Restriction on employment

Less holidays

Check on drain to the coffers

The directive on working hours has already been sounded out, and the number of annual holidays has been reduced from 26 to 19. To enforce punctuality, computerised ID-card punching machines will be installed and a day’s casual leave will be deducted for late arrival or early departure for three consecutive days in a month.

Employees will face action for undue delay in processing files and harassing a citizen.

“The practice of passing on employment to the next of kin of an employee, who dies in harness, requires recasting. It is not logical that the CMC provides pension to a dead employee’s wife and employment to his son simultaneously,” Mukherjee said. According to him, employment will be provided only in case the worker dies in course of official duty.

The mayor has also planned to stop the practice of providing uniforms, shoes, sweaters and umbrellas to Group-D employees and mazdoors. “It will save about Rs 10 crore annually,” he said.

   

 
 
WOMAN LINK IN DRIVER’S KILLING 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
Nantu De, a 30-year-old taxi-driver, was shot dead in Thakurpukur on Monday morning. One person was arrested and another detained in this connection.

De, a resident of B.N. Roy Road, had been plying the vehicle for the past five years. Preliminary investigations revealed a woman’s involvement in the alleged murder.

“Neighbours claimed De had recently come in contact with a woman whose husband, Ashish Das, would often come to De’s house and threaten him,” the police said.

On Monday, Das and one of his friends were seen entering De’s house. Some time later, the neighbours heard the trio arguing and then the sound of a shot. “We even saw two men fleeing the house,” the neighbours said.

De was taken to a local hospital, where he was declared dead. The police detained Das and his accomplice.

Rajesh Kumar Singh, additional superintendent of police (industrial), said: “We are looking for the revolver.”

   

 
 
BOY BEATEN UP, THREE ARRESTED 
 
 
BY A CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
Three men were arrested at Lake Town on Sunday for beating up a boy over Saraswati Puja subscription. The boy has been admitted to a nursing home in a serious condition.

Lake Town police said the miscreants were arrested on the basis of a complaint lodged by the boy’s father. They confirmed that all three were drunk while beating up the boy. “We feel they nursed a grudge against the boy and his father,” the police said.

Ajoy Ranade, additional superintendent of police, Barrackpore, said on Monday that the miscreants had also beaten up the boy’s father when he came to rescue his son. “We are investigating whether there is any other motive for the assault,” he said.

Lake Town residents plan to submit a memorandum to chairman of the South Dum Dum municipality Srihir Bhattacharya, and superintendent of police M. Harisena Verma, demanding immediate action against the miscreants.

“Repeated complaints to the police have yielded no results,” alleged an elderly resident of the S.K. Deb Road area.

   

 
 
TWIN CURES FOR MEDICAL COLLEGES AND HOSPITALS 
 
 
BY UTPAL BANERJEE
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
In a move aimed at improving medical teaching, the state government has decided to bring government-run hospitals, which are not educational institutions, under the control of the nearest medical college.

The arrangement is going to be “mutually beneficial”. It is expected to improve the condition of the non-teaching hospitals. This, in turn, is expected to take the load of ordinary cases off medical colleges, allowing them to concentrate more on teaching.

Once this is implemented, Lady Dufferin, Howrah and Hooghly state general hospitals will be brought under Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, while the Bijoygarh and Baghajatin hospitals will come under Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital. A senior official said this will happen “soon”, but did not specify a time frame.

“The main objective is to relieve the medical colleges of the pressure of general wards and ordinary cases. As a result, the medical colleges will be able to pay more attention to education,” Dr Chittaranjan Maity, director of medical education, said.

“We want to impress upon medical colleges the fact that they should concentrate more on education and research. The standard of education in medical colleges has fallen largely because of the manifold responsibilities the teachers and professors have, which includes attending ordinary cases,” he added.

Health minister Suryakanta Mishra has been harping on this problem and wants to ensure that medical education in the state gets proper support with teachers concentrating on students’ development.

The superintendents and principals of medical colleges often complain that as the other state hospitals lack basic infrastructure, they have a tendency to refer even simple cases to medical colleges, which creates tremendous pressure on the latter. If these state hospitals are linked to the four city colleges and hospitals, they will be replenished in terms of basic infrastructure and even resources, health officials feel.

“We have already chalked out plans for a mutual exchange of doctors and expertise,” said health secretary Asim Barman.

Specialists from medical colleges will be sent to the state hospitals on a regular basis on consultation assignments and to treat cases, Barman said.

The specialists of the state hospitals will also get the opportunity of enjoying the facilities, allowances and the brand name of the parent body.

The state has also decided to train doctors and staff before buying sophisticated equipment. Doctors not below the rank of assistant professors will be sent to renowned medical institutions to learn how the country’s best hospitals with state-of-the-art technology function.

In the past, machines were bought at random without any assessment of the expertise available to handle them. “As a result, gadgets worth croress gathered dust and virtually met with natural death because there was no one to use them,” a senior official said.

   

 
 
RSP FROWNS AT BIG BROTHER’S CRIME BILL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
The RSP, an important partner in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Left Front government, today said it would oppose any effort to present the Bill for Prevention of Organised Crime Ordinance in the budget session of the Assembly, beginning February 27.

“We cannot accept any law or Act which will help establish a police raj in our state,” former minister and party central committee member Kshiti Goswami said.

Borrowing one of George Bush’s pet phrases, he said: “Make no mistake… we will actively oppose on the floor of the House any move to present the Bill so long as the chief minister and his party explain the differences between their Ordinance and the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance being used by the BJP at the Centre. As long as the confusion persists, we will oppose all moves in this regard.”

Goswami said the RSP regarded the state Ordinance as anti-people.

A large number of delegates at the twentieth national conference of the RSP at Salt Lake stadium today asked the leadership to pull the party out of the government. People are being let down, they said.

The delegates, most of them from Bengal, however, felt the party should stay within the Front to strengthen its unity.

State RSP secretary Debabrata Banerjee said: “Though some of our delegates suggested the leadership to give a second thought on whether they should continue in the government, a majority of the party leaders think it is not time yet to withdraw.”

The RSP had joined the front during its inception in 1977 and has held key ministries like PWD, jail and irrigation. Banerjee himself had been a minister from 1977 to 2000. He did not contest the last Assembly elections.

At the meet today, dissent within the party surfaced as well. The delegates were critical of some important state leaders as they had refused to give up ministerial portfolios and shoulder organisational responsibilities.

“Many of you were asked by the central leadership of the party to quit the ministry as it wanted you at the national level. But it is a matter of great regret that most of you did not want to quit the ministry to join the central leadership,” a delegate said.

The government has failed to carry out development schemes for people in remote areas of Bengal, the delegates alleged.

“As a result, many people in remote areas are joining militant organisations like the People’s War Group (PWG). The Left Front government’s failure to work for the people living in backward areas is responsible for the growth of forces like the PWG,” delegates pointed out.

However, when asked whether the party will invite other front partners to join in criticising the CPM for the government’s failure, Goswami said: “We have no plans to create another front within the Left Front to isolate the CPM.”

   
 

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