Tannery shift hits fast track
State foists teachers on church schools
Police leave put on hold
Joint action plan for aches’ sake
The City Diary
Civic staff in hygiene hoax
Spurned teen commits suicide
Learn & intern at B-school
Consumer court in the dock for fee slap
Tension after attack in Keshpur

 
 
TANNERY SHIFT HITS FAST TRACK 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, March 4: 
With the Supreme Court cracking the whip and additional pressure being exerted from the top echelons of the government, the Calcutta Leather Complex juggernaut has picked up speed at last.

Officials of several state government agencies, like the West Bengal Pollution Control Board, the South 24-Parganas zilla parishad and the state directorate of industries, propelled by the twin pressure, have started clearing more files in the past week than they have in the project’s six-year shelf-life.

“Work has definitely picked up since the last Supreme Court hearing last month,” admitted a senior commerce and industries department official.

The apex court will hear on Tuesday a state government plea, made in tandem with the leather industry and M.L. Dalmiya and Company, the build-operate-transfer partner of the project, to extend the relocation deadline till October this year. The 500-plus tanneries in the Tangra-Topsia-Tiljala belt had been ordered by the court to wind up operations after February 28.

With chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and state commerce and industry minister Nirupam Sen taking a “very strict” view, files have started moving at “amazing” speed in at least two zones — the no-objection-cum-consent-to-establish certificates, essential for relocation at the Bantala-based complex, and the sanctions for building plans for the units there.

Till the Supreme Court order, the pollution control board had cleared around 110 no-objection certificates. On Monday, the number stood at 200, officials say.

“As the certificates are absolutely essential for relocating a unit, we are giving utmost importance to this aspect,” a senior official said. Tannery-owners and related associations concur.

“Attitudes have undergone a sea-change,” said the Chinese owner of a Tangra tannery. There was no harassment from officials, another tannery-owner agreed. “Rather, there was hardly any checking of antecedents and intentions,” he added.

Another office now racing against time is the South 24-Parganas zilla parishad, working from the district headquarters at Alipore. Asked by the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority to take care of the plan sanction procedures, the employees have been working till late into the evening, clearing files.

Even the allotment of land has gained speed, say officials. The India Tanning Industry is one firm that got lucky. “Not only has our application for relocation been processed, we have even been granted an additional 3,400 square metres,” a senior executive said .

But there remain some grey areas, like the common effluent treatment plant, which can take care of around 6 million litres of industrial waste daily. Setting this up is likely to take a couple of years and the government reportedly wants its main component — the effluent transport system — not to be considered as a basic infrastructure.

This will take a considerable financial burden off the government’s shoulders, explain officials, adding that there are plans to have four mobile chrome-recovery units, each with a daily capacity to handle 20,000 litres, before the CETP is in place.

   

 
 
STATE FOISTS TEACHERS ON CHURCH SCHOOLS 
 
 
BY MITA MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, March 4: 
After its unsuccessful attempt to dictate terms to the Ramakrishna Mission-run primary schools three years ago, the state government is now threatening to impose its writ on institutions run by Christian missionaries.

Around 10 such schools in the city, followed by several in the districts, find themselves in the line of fire for not abiding by the government’s directive to employ teachers appointed by the CPM-controlled primary councils.

The provident fund and other post-retirement benefits of the headmistress of Ushagram School, in Asansol, have been blocked by the government after the institution refused to employ a teacher appointed by the Burdwan district council.

At least half-a-dozen Bengali-medium primary schools, all run by Christian missionaries, have complained of “inordinate delay” on the part of the government in releasing funds, in the wake of the institutions’ refusal to accept teachers appointed by district primary councils.

Institutions where the government has sent circulars to have teachers appointed by the primary councils include St Anne’s Primary School, St Gabriel Primary School and Keorapukur Missionary Primary School, in South 24-Parganas, and Narayanpur Missionary Primary School in Birbhum. Sources in the school education department said “around a dozen more schools” will soon receive circulars asking them to employ council-appointed teachers.

The Telegraph had reported in 1998 a move by the state government to stop grants to some Ramakrishna Mission-run primary schools, following their refusal to replace monastic heads with teachers appointed by primary district councils. Another move by the government to make it mandatory for the Ramakrishna Mission-run secondary schools to appoint teachers through the state school service commission had sparked a controversy last year.

The present move has triggered trouble among the Bengali-speaking Christian community across the state. Describing the move as an “attempt to usurp powers from the institutions”, they said though the Bengali-medium primary schools are run by various Christian missionaries, they avail of government funds for payment of salaries and meeting maintenance expenses. But unlike state-aided institutions, Christian schools are governed under special rules which empower them to control the process of appointing teachers.

Hirod Mullick, senior teacher of Scottish Church School and general secretary of Bangiya Christiya Parisheba, said the organisation would launch an agitation if the district councils continued to “victimise” missionary schools. “The missionaries had set up these 150 Bengali-medium schools to provide quality elementary education to children from poor and lower middle-class families. The schools now have over 40,000 students and we will not allow the councils to take away their administrative powers,” said Mullick.

Jyoti Prakash Ghosh, president, West Bengal Board of Primary Education, said: “Decisions on some important administrative matters, like appointment of teachers, are taken by the primary councils. So, the councils’ move to ask the Christian missionary schools to employ teachers appointed by them is in accordance with the government’s plans.”

   

 
 
POLICE LEAVE PUT ON HOLD 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 4: 
The state government has cancelled the leave of all police officers from Monday. The force has been asked to “stand by for any eventuality”, said a circular.

Director-general of police D.C. Vajpai said “in view of the current situation in the country”, policemen have been asked to postpone their leave.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has directed Vajpai and police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty to handle the communally-sensitive incidents with a firm hand.

Central security agencies have warned the state government that terrorists are trying to sneak into the city through the Bihar and Bangladesh borders.

“We have told the Border Security Force (BSF) to be on high alert and urged the state government to beef up its network near the sensitive areas,’’ said a home ministry official from Delhi.

State home secretary Amit Kiran Deb has been appraised of the areas where the anti-national forces might foment trouble.

Tiljala, Topsia, Narkeldanga, Rajabazar, Kidderpore and Garden Reach are among the areas in the city being monitored regularly by the law-enforcers.

“We appeal to the people to fight the trouble-makers,’’ police chief Chakraborty said.

   

 
 
JOINT ACTION PLAN FOR ACHES’ SAKE 
 
 
BY AMIT UKIL
 
Calcutta, March 4: 
The age-old problem is almost inevitable — a pain in the joints, especially the knees. Now, a regime of treatment is prescribing a combination of oral medication, joint injection, physiotherapy, diet and exercise to provide relief to people suffering from osteoarthrosis.

With average life-expectancy crossing 65, specialists stress the need for such a regime to battle the erosion of the soft-tissue cartilage and the drying up of the lubricants between the joints. At a public symposium organised by the recently-formed Joint Care Society (JCS), orthopaedists, physicians, anaesthetists and physiotherapists addressed various aspects of the issue.

“The objective of the meeting, and one of the main aims of the Society, is to prevent a person with ‘mild’ osteoarthrosis going to ‘moderate’, and from moderate to a ‘severe’ condition, which may require joint replacement surgery,” said JCS secretary and orthopaedic surgeon S.P. Das. “This we plan to do by building awareness and providing guidelines on treatment and lifestyles.”

The JCS “will share scientific knowledge and the latest developments in treatment.” Medication can now regenerate worn out cartilage, while injections can provide lubrication to replace the dried up hyaluronic acid in the joints, said Das.

The exercise regimen depends on the degree of osteoarthrosis. “For moderate and severe conditions, the exercise must not add to the load on the joints,” say specialists. Maintaining the correct body weight is crucial. Excessive weight puts a “major overload” on the joints and damages the cartilage faster.

Dairy products, fruits and vegetables can build bone stock (calcium) till the age of 30, after which the intake of these maintains this stock. “Cartilage-repairing food, like green vegetables and fruit, especially papaya and pineapples, have tissue-restoring power and should be a part of the regular diet.” Soyabean, besides being a high-protein food, also has the best calcium binding or retention capacity.

Factors like alcohol consumption “beyond 21 pegs a week”, chronic steroid use and continued blood pressure medication contribute to the degeneration of the cartilage. Excessive sodium or salt intake, excessive consumption of fatty food, potatoes, rice, sugar, sweets and animal protein also leads to calcium loss.

The Society, headed by Prof B.K. Dutta, former head of the orthopaedics department at SSKM Hospital, also provides counselling to chronic osteoarthrosis patients suffering depression.

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
 

Security net over Howrah

Special security arrangements have been made in and around Howrah following the arrest of three Simi activists at the station on Saturday. In addition to the normal deployment of law-keepers, plainclothesmen have been posted around the Howrah station, the Howrah bridge, the court and important offices of the district. A senior district police officer said the arrangement was a precautionary measure in the wake of the revelation that two of the arrested activists had planned to blow up the Howrah bridge.

Lakh looted in shop heist

Dacoits looted a shop in Maniktala on Sunday night. Police said they entered the shop by breaking the door. According to the shop-owner, the dacoits took away valuables worth about Rs 1.5 lakh.

SDO hospitalised

The injured sub-divisional officer of Barasat, Ajit Sarkar, was transferred to a city nursing home on Sunday. He was injured on March 1 after being attacked, allegedly by bandh supporters, with iron rods and bamboo sticks. He was admitted to a local hospital at first, but his condition deteriorated.

House adjourned

The Assembly was adjourned on Monday after paying tribute to Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi. No business was transacted. Balayogi was killed in a helicopter crash in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. The condolence message was read out by Assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim. Two minutes’ silence was observed as a mark of respect.

Saha death case

Kaushik Nandy, a plastic surgeon associated with the Advance Medical Research Institute (AMRI), was cross-examined by the chief judicial magistrate of Alipore court in the Anuradha Saha death case. CJM Ananda Kumar Raha asked Nandy whether Anuradha was treated by Sukumar Mukherjee and Abani Roy Chowdhury at AMRI. The surgeon said he had heard from Anuradha’s husband, Kunal Saha, and a colleague, Balaram Prasad, that the team treating Anuradha was led by Mukherjee and Roy Chowdhury. Nandy also said he had heard that Saha had made Prasad a respondent in another case filed with the National Redressal Commission, claiming a Rs 77-crore compensation from the doctors who attended to his wife at AMRI. “But I am not aware of any other case in another court filed against Prasad by Saha,” said Nandy. The cross-examination will continue on Tuesday.

Land dispute

Sambhu Das, 20, was beaten up on Monday over a land dispute at Chatterjeehat in Howrah. Police said Das owned a plot on which local residents wanted to build a club building. A complaint was lodged by Sambhu’s mother Mangala Devi.

Voice message

Command has introduced VoiceXpress, a voice messaging service that allows users to send messages to any phone in the US or Canada. The messages can be sent to both cellular and land lines at Rs 5.95 a minute. The service will be available to both pre-paid and post-paid subscribers and does not require an STD or ISD connection. Messages can also be replied to and are delivered as return voice messages.    

 
 
CIVIC STAFF IN HYGIENE HOAX 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
Calcutta, March. 4: 
The civic authorities have busted a racket in which a section of health officials and food inspectors are issuing licences to eateries without inspecting their hygienic conditions.

Sources said that a trade licence had recently been issued to Grain of Salt, a restaurant coming up on Camac Street, belonging to M/S PKD Shenaz Hotels Private Limited. “Construction is in progress and I hope to start the restaurant on Poila Boisakh. I have obtained trade and health licences from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) with the help of Rajibda (Rajib Deb, member, mayor-in-council),” said Nitin Kohli of PKD Shenaz Hotels.

When contacted, Deb said: “The restaurant was opened in December and renovation is on.”

Deb’s statement was corroborated by Kohli, who said after completion of construction, he would have to obtain licences from other agencies.

“Since it is an allegation against an officer of my department, I have asked officer-on-special duty, health, Atanu Mukherjee, to inspect the construction site on Camac Street and seek an explanation from the executive health officer of Borough VII,” said member, mayor-in-council (health), Javed Ahmed Khan.

The document reveals that the inspection was undertaken by C.K. Bose and on the basis of the report, the executive health officer of Borough VII, Tapati Saha, also a former CPM MLA, was “pleased to sanction the issue of a licence under Section 421 of the Calcutta Municipal Act of 1980 for 2001-2002” on December 15.

When Metro contacted Bose, he wanted to know who had provided his residence telephone number. “My boss knows everything,” he added.

   

 
 
SPURNED TEEN COMMITS SUICIDE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March. 4: 
A 13-year-old boy, Babu Halder, killed himself late on Sunday at Maniktala, after being spurned by a 12-year-old girl. The victim’s family found Babu hanging from the ceiling. He was taken to R. G. Kar Hospital, where the doctors declared him dead.

Babu had reportedly fallen in love with a girl from the neighbourhood and had even proposed to her but she rejected his proposal. According to the police, the girl later eloped with another boy of the area, also a minor.

When the runaway couple returned to their Bagmari Road home on Sunday, Babu went into his room and hanged himself.

“We think Babu lost his senses when he saw the couple return,” said the police. An unnatural death case has been registered. “We will interrogate the parents. In case of foul play, we will prosecute both minors in juvenile court,” the police added.

   

 
 
LEARN & INTERN AT B-SCHOOL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March. 4: 
After intelligent workplace Infinity and software finishing school TechnoCampus, the Globsyn group has taken the plunge into management education. Bikram Dasgupta, chairman of the Calcutta-based company, launched Globsyn Business School on Tuesday.

To tailor the academic programme “to the needs of the ever-changing corporate world”, the institute has roped in D.N. Ghosh, ex-chairman, SBI, Nitish Sengupta, director-general, International Management Institute, Delhi, and Arjun Malhotra, former head of HCL, Pradeep Kar, chairman, Microland Group, and Pravin Gandhi of Infinity Investments.

The institute will offer both full-time and part-time post-graduate diploma programmes in management. The first academic session, “with at least 60 students”, will start on July 22, 2002, at the TechnoCampus in Saltlec.

The objective of the institute is to provide “real-life management education” in Bengal. “It’s our effort to fill the vacuum of branded business schools in Calcutta and build 21st Century entrepreneurs,” said Dasgupta.

Besides tying up with International Management Institute, Delhi, the Saltlec-based B-school will also have partner institutes in US.

The course fee for the full-time two-year and the part-time post-graduate diploma programmes are Rs 250,000 and Rs 95,000, respectively.

Besides providing the opportunity to “learn and intern”, the students will be offered placement assistance.

The “needs of the competitive corporate world and the true perspective of private business and public policies” will be the focus of the course curriculum.

   

 
 
CONSUMER COURT IN THE DOCK FOR FEE SLAP 
 
 
BY SUNANDO SARKAR
 
Calcutta, March 4: 
The government has decided to initiate a high-level probe into complaints that the Barasat-based consumers’ redress forum has been fleecing consumers who go there to seek justice.

State consumer affairs department minister Naren De admitted receiving complaints against the North 24-Parganas District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum working from Barasat.

“We have decided to look into the matter,” the minister told The Telegraph. “The allegations are of a very serious nature and cannot be ignored,” he added.

The Consumer Protection Act rules state that no disputes redress forum can force consumers — who go to court after feeling they have been duped —and defendants to pay court fees in any manner.

Even the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and the state commissions are barred from making the process of delivery of justice any costlier for the harried consumer.

But, according to the complaint lodged with the state consumers affairs department, the Barasat-based forum has been doing exactly that. The process of fleecing consumers, defendants and their lawyers worked in two stages at the forum, officials added, quoting from the complaint.

The first stage occurred during the filing of the wakalatnama, some forum officials said. “We have been asked not to accept any wakalatnama without the payment of the court fee,” they added.

The second stage occurs during the filing of affidavits. “All affidavits here must be filed on non-judicial stamp-papers worth Rs 10,” a forum official admitted.

Though the amount a consumer or the defendant has to cough up is not much, the earnings of the forum are “not insignificant” if one considers the volume of cases a forum in the state has to settle, say officials.

Officials at Writers’ Buildings divulged that the complaint that forced the department to take the matter seriously was filed by an advocate fighting a suit of medical negligence. The forum “directed the advocate to affix the court fee on the wakalatnama”, officials quoted from the written complaint.

“The Consumer Protection Act is a piece of social legislation enacted to achieve economic and social justice by relieving consumers from exploitation,” the complainant added.

But the practice at the particular forum defeated that very end, he went on to say, disclosed officials.

Though Barasat forum president Ratan Lal Mukherjee refused to comment on the matter, the departmental minister was more forthcoming.

“This is the first complaint of this sort that we have received,” De admitted. “No other forum in the city or elsewhere in the state has been complained against for this kind of practice,” he said, before adding that he would personally follow up on the complaints.

   

 
 
TENSION AFTER ATTACK IN KESHPUR 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Keshpur (Paschim Midnapore), March 4: 
Tension ran high in Keshpur after the police rescued a badly-injured Srijan Sanyal, a CPM supporter and an employee of Vidyasagar University, from a nearby forest.

Sanyal was found lying unconscious with gaping injuries in his throat and head.

Sanyal, also the secretary of Krishti Samsad, the cultural wing of the CPM, left home on Sunday afternoon to attend a rehearsal.

When he did not return, his family members informed the police this morning.

Villagers and the police launched a search operation. In the afternoon, villagers spotted an unconscious Sanyal lying in Indkuri forest, about 25 km from here. He had multiple injuries in his throat and head.

Sanyal was immediately taken to the district hospital. His condition is stated to be critical. Doctors attending on him said Sanyal did not return to his senses till late in the evening.

Senior police officials in the district said hooligans might have kidnapped Sanyal and then hit him with sharp weapons, leaving him to die in the forest.

   
 

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