Twin plant collapse snaps city power line
Metro suicide by student
State package for tannery shift
Fake candidate caught at exam venue
Anglo-Indian teachers to meet over pay cut
Rlys to wield platform eviction broom
Four held for Salt Lake heist
Simi state head trapped in Howrah station
Jaish Orissa trio in police net
State on overdrive to derail kar sevaks

Calcutta, March. 2: 
The city was plunged into darkness on Saturday evening following the collapse of the CESC’s Budge Budge power plant and its southern generating station in Garden Reach.

Vast parts of south, central and north Calcutta and Howrah remained in the dark well into the evening as CESC staff went about locating snags in the feeder lines caused by the collapse. The maximum deficit was to the tune of 600 MW, power department sources said.

The CESC’s Budge Budge thermal power plant and two units of 250 MW each broke down. In the Garden Reach generating station, only one 67-MW unit was running before the shutdown, CESC sources said.

Power supply in parts of south and central Calcutta was restored after CESC engineers fixed a fault in a 132-KV feeder line. The power utility had to borrow 200 MW from the West Bengal State Electricity Board to tide over the crisis.

Writers’ Buildings, Lalbazar, hospitals and newspaper houses had to do without power for nearly one hour before supply was resumed.

But extensive areas like Lake Town, Kalindi, Kasba, Ballygunge and Jadavpur reeled in the dark for over two hours. There was even an apprehension that normalcy would not be restored till well into the night. In some parts, power came back intermittently for a few minutes.

CESC managing director Sumantra Banerjee confirmed that the two generating stations had shut down around 5.15 pm. “The plants shut down as a safety precaution or else there would have been a major crisis,” Banerjee told The Telegraph.

However, he ruled out the possibility of a prolonged spell of darkness, stating that CESC engineers were “well on the way to getting things back on track”.

“We are back on the power generation track. The stations have already been fed start-up power and things should be normal by 8.30 pm,” the managing director assured.

State power department sources that the West Bengal State Electricity Board’s monitoring stations detected a sudden deficit of 600 MW from the CESC system which was running at a demand of 900 MW. Senior department officials contacted the CESC, who assured them that power supply to essential establishments would be restored as soon as possible.

“They could restore supply to all essential services by around 7 pm,” a power department official said.


Calcutta, March. 2: 
A 16-year-old student committed suicide by jumping in front of a Dum Dum-bound train at the Belgachhia Metro station around 1.18 pm on Saturday.

The train ran over the girl’s legs. She was rushed to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital where she died around 5 pm.

A suicide note was found near the body, Metro Railway sources said. Services were hit till 2 pm. Seven trains had to be cancelled, while four others were delayed for about 40 minutes.

With this, the suicide toll on Metro tracks has reached 75, sources added.


Calcutta, March. 2: 
The state industries department is preparing a fast-track, start-up package to relocate the tanneries from the city to the Calcutta Leather Complex (CLC) in Bantala for the Supreme Court’s consideration. The apex court is scheduled to take up the relocation issue again on March 5. Both the tanners and the state government are in a fix with the Supreme Court clamping an indefinite closure order on tanneries since March 1.

Faced with the crisis, the state government is expected to present a time-bound relocation plan which envisages a start of production at the CLC by October.

According to the schedule, the process will be set off on March 5. The tanneries, which had been allotted land at the CLC, are expected to apply for clearance from the West Bengal Pollution Control Board on the day.

The next steps would be getting building plans sanctioned by the urban development department, applying for power connection from the West Bengal State Electricity Board and getting the final no-objection certificate from the pollution control board. “These steps will be monitored by industry department officials. Minister Nirupam Sen has issued instructions to this effect,” a senior industries department official said on Saturday.

The court will also be told that the tanners might even set up their own, temporary pollution control systems till work on the common effluent treatment plant (CETP) is completed.

The CLC plans to have four mobile chrome recovery units as a stop-gap measure till the CETP is commissioned. However, the tanners claim that the mobile units were inadequate to tackle the discharge from the tanneries.

The proposed duration has also taken into consideration the time that will be taken, on an average, for the tanners to set up the buildings. “I can set my tannery on the 2,600 sq metre plot in three months,” an owner in Tangra said. Some time will be taken up to raise the level of the ground, he added.

The Union ministry of environment and forests is engaged in a brain-storming session to clear the CETP impasse. Ministry representatives have met state industries department officials, representatives of the state pollution control board and experts from Unido, which has provided the technical base for the construction of the CETP.

According to state industry department sources, the meeting on Friday was “positive”. It discussed the demand of partner M.L. Dalmiya and Company that the sewers laid in the CLC to transport the effluent be included in the CETP project. The CETP will be financed in part by the environment ministry of forests and the BOT party.


Berhampore, March. 2: 
In the first case of impersonation during the ongoing Madhyamik examinations, Debasish Halder was arrested for appearing as Sounak Ghosh at the Najirpur Eserpara High School on Saturday.

Debasish is a first-year student of South Calcutta Polytechnic and a resident of Falta, in South 24-Parganas. Sounak, a student of Hajidanga Yogamaya Vidyapith, and his father have been detained for interrogation.

They confessed that they had paid Rs 4,000 to Debasish in advance and would have paid him another Rs 6,000 after the completion of the examinations.

Debasish also confirmed that Sounak’s father had promised him Rs 10,000 to sit for the life science paper on his son’s behalf.

Ghulam Rabbani, a teacher of Najirpur Eserpara High School, said this was the first time their school was hosting the Madhyamik examinations. “We suspected something amiss since most of the candidates looked older than those who normally appear for such examinations. But we could not challenge them because the Yogamaya Vidyapith authorities did not pay heed to our doubts,” Rabbani said.

Headmaster of Hajidanga Yogamaya Vidyapith Samsul Alam said Sounak was not a student of the school.

“He studied in an institution which has no affiliation. He is appearing as a private candidate from our school. Naturally, we are not aware of his credentials,” he said.

Alam expressed ignorance of the doubts expressed by the Najirpur school authorities about the age of the other candidates.


Calcutta, March. 2: 
Over 5,000 teachers from Anglo-Indian schools in the city will meet on Sunday to discuss their future course of action in the wake of the government’s decision to slash financial aid to such institutions from March.

The teachers are worried that their salaries might be reduced by Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500 per month on an average if the government’s decision is enforced.

“Sunday’s emergency meeting is crucial for us since we may have to take a tough stand vis-à-vis the government decision,” said a teacher from a south Calcutta school.

The government informed about 69 schools — most of them run by Christian Missionaries — that the assistance given to them by way of dearness allowance (DA) would be reduced from 132 per cent to 41 per cent of the basic salaries of teachers and employees from March.

“We will have to work out a strategy to ensure that the employees are not affected by the government circular. The association leadership is determined to firmly deal with the situation,” said Ismail Nehal, president, Association of Teachers of Anglo-Indian Schools.

Representatives of the teachers’ body will seek an appointment with school education minister Kanti Biswas to demand the withdrawal of the circular.

The heads of the institutions have already met on Thursday to discuss the situation and decided to call on Biswas. Officials at Writers’ Buildings said Biswas is aware of the development.

The association members on Saturday expressed concern over the negligence of the authorities of some schools in upgrading the basic salaries of their employees.

They complained that the basic salaries of teachers and employees were not at par with their counterparts in state-aided institutions.

“Our association had repeatedly urged the authorities of the schools to revise the basic salaries after the implementation of the Fourth Pay Commission. But none of the schools agreed to our proposals. The teachers and employees would not have been affected by the circular if their basic salaries were upgraded earlier,” said the members.

Sources in the state school education department said the government had set April 30 as the deadline for sending their opinion on the matter.

According to them, the institutions have been also asked to submit the balance sheets to the government.

“We have repeatedly asked the schools to show their audit reports to us. Since the government provides a bulk of the employees’ salaries, it has the authority to look at the accounts. But the schools have never followed the directive,” said an official.


Calcutta, March. 2: 
Following the success achieved in evicting encroachers from Kalyani and Belghoria station premises, the railway authorities have decided to crack down on illegal occupants at other major stations, including Sealdah.

The drive has been named “Eviction Special” by the railways top brass. Divisional railway manager, Sealdah, Dulal Chandra Mitra said: “Initially our deadline to evict the encroachers was February 28 but since the vendors have not vacated on their own, we will have to call in security personnel.”

Officials said elaborate measures would be taken to ensure that there were no major disturbances caused due to protests by hawker unions during the drive.

A few days ago, services on the Sealdah division were disrupted for hours after hawkers squatted on the tracks at various stations.

“We are determined to clean the station premises. This time, we will not only take the help of the district administration, but also of the government. We have met officials at Writers’ Buildings and informed them of our decision,” Mitra added.


Calcutta, March. 2: 
Four miscreants, involved in a series of dacoities in Salt Lake, were rounded up from Entally and Sonarpur on Saturday. The hijacked taxi used in the operation, too, was impounded.

Police said the gang had hijacked the taxi from Shyambazar. They had looted a stationary shop in BE block around 3.10 pm on Friday. Later, they looted a gift shop in GB block and snatched the gold earrings of an employee. A constable, Subrata Deb, chased and caught one of them. The arrested goon tipped off the police about the other members.


Calcutta, March 2: 
In a hush-hush operation, the CID last evening arrested senior leaders of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi) from Howrah station.

Among them were Simi founder-member and chief of the Bengal unit of the organisation, Sayeed Shah Hasib Raza (33), and his close associate Amil Pervez (27), also a Simi member.

Raza was acting as a talent-spotter for the Hizb-ul Mujaheedin in India and handled terror assignments in the country.

The two have been charged with planning major terrorist strikes in the state. They had to drop their plans due to “last-minute hitches”.

Inspector-general of police (CID) Partha Bhattacharya today said the duo was picked up on the basis of an intelligence report that a three-member terrorist team had arrived in the city and was planning a “major disturbance on March 2 and 3 somewhere in the state before moving to Hyderabad.”

They apparently abandoned their Bengal plans after the Godhra killings and decided to move to Hyderabad for their next operation. They had gone to Howrah station late in the evening to purchase tickets for the Falaknama Express when CID sleuths surrounded them. Four packets of plastic explosives, timer-device detonators and batteries were found in their possession.

Several incriminating documents and a diary containing names of important Hizb-ul Mujaheedin and Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were also found from them.

“We are trying to find out what exactly caused them to change their minds and abort the operation here. They might have had plans to get off the train en route to Hyderabad,” Bhattacharya said.

Sleuths are also trying to find out whether the duo had any role in the Godhra carnage in which 57 people were burnt alive inside a train.

Both Raza and Pervez, originally from Phulbarisharif in Patna, had come to the city a few weeks ago. “They had been travelling to and fro for quite sometime,” Bhattacharya added.

Investigations have so far revealed that Raza, who had graduated from Patna University in 1986, opened a frontal agency called Al Qalam Tours and Travels, which served the dual purpose of planning subversive activities and recruiting home-grown jihadis. “Raza used to recruit cadre and take them to Doda and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for militant training in Lashkar camps before sending them to rest of the country,” said Bhattacharya.

Raza developed close links with a lot of terrorist outfits in a short period. He was acqainted to militant leaders like Fida Hussain and had founded outfits like Ahe-e-Ummet and Falha-e-Han, all frontal organisations of Hizb-ul Mujaheedin and Harkat-ul Ansar.

Raza also developed close links with people like Azhar Ghouri of Lashkar and Abdullah of Al Umma who was arrested for the serial bomb blasts in Coimbatore.

He also had close ties with the fundamentalist elements in Aligarh Muslim University, Bhattacharya said.

Khadim’s kidnap case

The CID brought four persons, including three Pakistanis, from New Delhi in connection with the kidnapping of Khadim’s owner Parthapratim Roy Burman. The Pakistani trio — Mohammed Nayeem, Mohammed Naveed and Mohammed Dilshad — and one Bangladeshi national, Sailendra, alias Rana, are “all part of the Aftab Ansari network,” Bhattacharya said.

“Both Nayeem and Rana were close to Asif Reza Khan. Nayeem had stayed in Hazaribagh with the other accused in the American Center attack case,” the inspector-general of police added.


Calcutta, March 2: 
Calcutta police arrested three persons, believed to be the local agents of a Pakistan-based terrorist organisation, from Cuttack last night. The trio was brought to the city this afternoon and will be produced before Bankshall court tomorrow.

Zulfiquar Hasan, deputy commissioner of police, central division, said the trail led to Cuttack after one Ajmal Khan, a cook in a Calcutta hotel, was arrested last Thursday. “We have arrested the three suspects based on the statement given by Ajmal during interrogation,” Hasan said.

Apart from this, the police came to know of Ajmal’s strong links with Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan-based terrorist organisation. “This man with terrorist links had been staying in Calcutta for the past few years. But we have not got any details about the roles he played in Calcutta,” a police officer said.

The city police team rushed to Jagatpur last afternoon. With the help of Cuttack police, they carried out an extensive raid and rounded up Tahir Khan, Niyamat Khan and Allauddin Khan. The three are Orissa-based. Police sources said the trio was allegedly in touch with persons suspected to have ISI links.

After searching the place where Ajmal had stayed for the past few years, police recovered some incriminating documents that prove his links with Jaish. They found a bunch of audio and video cassettes and some Urdu literature.

After examining the cassettes, the investigators found messages from top Jaish leaders. The literatures are on the goals of the militant outfit.

Sources said the three arrested from Jagatpur had reportedly received funds from Jaish to provide refuge to the outfit’s activists. “We have got some documents that indicate their financial involvement with Jaish,” said a police officer.

Police, however, are still in the dark about Ajmal’s activities in Calcutta. “It is possible that he was directed by the terrorist organisation to strengthen its network in Calcutta. He might have had a plan to use the cassettes and literatures to impress newcomers,” the officer said.

According to preliminary investigation, Ajmal had contacts with one Mohammed Selim, a suspected terrorist who had died in an encounter in Uttar Pradesh last April.

Sujay Chakraborty, commissioner of police, said this was “the biggest catch in recent times”.


Calcutta, March 2: 
The state government was firm in its decision to prevent any kar sevak from leaving for Ayodhya by train or otherwise.

“We are quite aware of the plans and programmes of the kar sevaks and all precautionary measures are being taken to stop them,” chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said at Writers’ Buildings.

The chief minister, who had cancelled his Delhi trip, went to his office this morning to monitor the situation with senior government officials.

Among those present were chief secretary Sourin Roy, home secretary Amit Kiran Deb, director-general of police Dinesh Vajpai and city police commissioner Sujay Chakraborty. All of them have been asked to be present tomorrow as well. Bhattacharjee will also attend office tomorrow.

The chief minister has cancelled all political appointments till Tuesday. He briefed former chief minister Jyoti Basu and state party secretary Anil Biswas — now in Delhi to attend the politburo meeting — about the situation in Bengal.

Talking to reporters, the chief minister said the situation in Calcutta and the districts remained, by and large, peaceful with no major untoward incident being reported till late this afternoon. He said leaves of all senior administrative and police officials have been cancelled.

As part of precautionary measures, senior officials have been camping in control rooms. The thana-level advisory committees have been asked to activate themselves.

Bhattacharjee directed Deb and the Chakraborty to keep a watch on important railway stations, particularly Burdwan, Malda and Siliguri.

The home secretary later sent an urgent message to all district superintendents of police to keep tabs on stations to stop kar sevaks from heading towards Ayodhya in trains. Deb said the railways had already cancelled their block-booking system to prevent kar sevaks from travelling in groups.

Officials at Writers’ Buildings said the police have identified Burdwan, Farakka and Malda as major railway stations from where kar sevaks might board Ayodhya-bound express trains. A large police contingent has been deployed at all the three stations.

They said policemen in the districts have been asked to intensify mobile patrolling in remote places and stop kar sevaks from even reaching the stations.

Murshidabad superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar confirmed that nearly 50 kar sevaks had assembled at Farakka station this morning to board Ayodhya-bound trains.

“The kar sevaks were waiting in small groups at the stations to avoid detection. But security forces smelled a rat and chased them away,” he said.

“Our men also drove away some kar sevaks from the same station yesterday,” Kumar added.


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