Market mission, business boom
Ratings roster for college credentials
It’s big, it’s a bus, and it’s back
The City Diary
Mother points to foul play
Doctors fret over spurt in male breast cancer
Two held for trader murder in apartment
Plug the leaks to turn taps dry
BE College election snub for SFI
Criminals enjoy bail boon: Cops

 
 
MARKET MISSION, BUSINESS BOOM 
 
 
BY DEVADEEP PUROHIT AND ANIEK PAUL
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
They are our Men in Black, on Mission not Impossible. Top-notch officials from the government have teamed up with IIM graduates working with McKinsey to sell the state to India Inc.

The brand new B-team of Bengal has decided to keep it simple — do your homework, set a date, knock on the door on the dot, surprise the ‘sceptical’ corporate with your smart look and slick show to seal the deal.

Be it Delhi or Bangalore, Mumbai or Hyderabad, the marketing men from Calcutta, armed with laptops and loaded with attitude, are criss-crossing the country to boost business in Bengal. In eight weeks, they have already made “25 calls” to some of the biggest business houses in the country. And the “woo them with facts and figures” drive has only just begun.

The composition of each group of four doing the rounds varies on a case-to-case basis. Normally, three slots are rotated between the six McKinsey-employed IIM graduates, dedicated to Bengal’s business dream. The last man, the anchor, is from a formidable list of five — industries and commerce secretary Jawhar Sircar, IT secretary D.P Patra, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) managing director Gopal Krishna, WBIDC executive director Atri Bhattacharya and West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation managing director S. K. Mitra.

“Selling the state as a hotspot for investment is the primary focus of these meets,” said Atri Bhattacharya. But selling the state is easier said than done. “People have all kinds of wrong notions. They don’t refuse a request for an appointment, but initially, they do appear reluctant. We have, however, seen that less than half-way into the presentation, things start changing and we are flooded with various questions, often culminating in talk about specific policy favours to consider West Bengal as a possible destination,” he added.

From 18-year tax deferrals to prime land in Calcutta on concessional rates, sops in power supply to favourable transport tariffs — the list of demands reaching the tables that matter at Writers’ Building is long. “We have forwarded the specific requests to the ministries concerned and urged them to take decisions in a time-barred fashion,” said Bhattacharya.

With this investment hunt, the McKinsey-Bengal government partnership has hit its stride. The McKinsey team prepares the customised presentations in consultation with state government officials. “While showcasing the strengths of the state, we borrow data from credible sources like Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE),” explained Bhattacharya, who is co-ordinating with the McKinsey team on behalf of WBIDC.

Besides organising 25 high-profile meeting with big-league CEOs, the consultancy major has independently called on 80 other companies from the agriculture and IT sectors. According to Bhattacharya, the results of the exercise will start showing from August-September 2002.

   

 
 
RATINGS ROSTER FOR COLLEGE CREDENTIALS 
 
 
BY SUNANDO SARKAR
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
Ratings for educational institutions have finally arrived, courtesy the Salt Lake-based West Bengal University of Technology (WBUT).

The university, which has 37 technical or management institutes in its fold, is the first in the state to get off the block, as far as ranking the colleges under its jurisdiction is concerned.

The results of the computerised rating, on the basis of data from the first-semester examinations (the first exam conducted since inception in the academic year 2001-2002) has already been sent to the colleges.

Most are privately-run institutes, based in and around Calcutta, which teach engineering, management and technical subjects, with a few older colleges of leather, textile and ceramic technology also included.

With almost all the engineering and management colleges that are to come up slated to join WBUT, it is likely to have more than 60 colleges under its jurisdiction by the academic year 2003-2004.

“The university analysed the performance of every college in the first-semester exams,” said WBUT controller of examinations Samir Bandopadhyay.

“It was done with the help of computers to remove any risk of the assessment turning subjective,” he added. “We sent teams out to every college and the data computed were based on their observations.”

The ratings were not just meant to be a gradation of quality, officials explained. Every college was told, on the basis of the results, which areas needed special focus, which subjects needed better teachers and how to improve on the perceived areas of weakness.

“The ratings should not be interpreted as the basis for discrimination,” said one official. “The university has kept the ratings secret so as not to affect the morale of the colleges,” a senior WBUT official said. The purpose was to keep the colleges on their toes.

He said, however, that St Thomas’ Engineering College and the Salt Lake-based Engineering Institute of Management had finished at the top of the heap, based on their performances in the first B.Tech and MBA exams.

The examination system, too, has been given a thorough overhaul, say officials.

Question papers and answer scripts were transported with “utmost secrecy” and none of the 37 centres got the questions before the day of the exams and none kept the scripts after the exams, a senior university official said.

Most of the 42,000 answer scripts reached the Salt Lake headquarters within 24 hours of each exam and the evaluation started the day after.

The evaluation was in-house, with all the examiners being put up at Salt Lake-based guest houses and lodges, from where they returned every morning to have a go at the scripts again.

The reforms had something for the examiners, too: No one was given more than 100 papers to correct and everyone received their remuneration before leaving the centre — another first in West Bengal.

   

 
 
IT’S BIG, IT’S A BUS, AND IT’S BACK 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
In Calcutta, they were labelled slowcoach monstrosities belching black — something right out of Jurassic Park — and withdrawn from the streets. But in London, they enjoy right of road, for traffic and tourism.

But double-deckers are on the comeback trail in Calcutta. This winter, the city will regain some of its old-street charm, with the government deciding to bring back the buses that have sparked both romance and road rage.

“Double-deckers were part of the city’s image and heritage and we want to bring them back,” said state transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on Friday.

The reintroduction plan has been slowed down by technical hitches. “The main hurdle was procuring spares for the engines. Most of the buses were built by Ashok Leyland and the company was unable to send us the parts,” explained a senior Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) official.

The double-decker once plied along all main thoroughfares in the city and even crossed Howrah Bridge to link the twin towns. The buses were phased out in the mid-1990s, when the CSTC ran into maintenance trouble. The only double-decker seen in the city at present — a green one — runs between Ultadanga, Science City and Nicco Park. What was once a public transport utility, now serves the purpose of a joyride for children and adults visiting these theme parks.

There are about 150 double-deckers in the CSTC’s various depots. It has chosen about 50 that will be ‘retro-fitted’ with new engines and spares and made roadworthy again.

Advertisements on the buses will bring in much-needed revenue for their maintenance, CSTC sources said.

Chakraborty said about Rs 20 lakh will be required to redo each bus — not only to overhaul the engines for them to conform to the new emission standards, but also to get them painted and their seats properly cushioned.

“All new buses will conform to the Bharat Stage II standards, set by the Union environment ministry on emissions from the engine,” said the minister.

“A proposal to introduce some air-conditioned double-deckers for travelling comfort at a price is being studied. We as a city must offer high standards for passengers so that we are more attractive to tourists,” Chakraborty stated.

The new double-deckers will also provide “much more room” than their single-deck counterparts and reduce traffic load on roads. The re-introduction of the double-decker will also ease pressure on the CSTC to buy more buses at regular intervals, sources in the transport department said.

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
 

Medical students back in hostel

seat of action: Calcutta Medical College Nearly 300 students of Calcutta Medical College were compelled to return to the main hostel “under duress” after signing a bond promising that they would not participate in disruptive activities on campus. The students were aggrieved over the “biased attitude” of the authorities towards the seven students charged with triggering trouble at Medical College earlier this week. The principal was allegedly injured in the violence that broke out on campus. A large number of students who were forced to vacate the hostel on Thursday night had to take refuge in the common room. “We had nowhere to go. With the final exams coming up, we have no choice but to to stay on campus,” said a student.

Woman found dead in flat

The police recovered the decomposed body of a 73-year-old woman, Basanti Mukherjee, from her Galiff Street residence on Friday morning. Neighbours had informed the police after being alerted by a stench emanating from the flat on the third floor. According to the police, the woman must have died on Wednesday afternoon, since newspapers of the past two days were found lying in front of the main door. Preliminary investigation revealed that Mukherjee, a former professor of the Calcutta Women’s College in Chitpur, had gone to a nearby market with a friend last Wednesday. Police said circumstantial evidence did not indicate any foul play. “We suspect that the woman died of a cardiac arrest,” police added.

Suicide

A 31-year-old man committed suicide by jumping from the fourth-floor balcony of his Ballygunge Circular Road residence on Friday night. Police said Kaustav Roy died on the spot after the fall. Police recovered a note which said no one was to be held responsible for his death. An investigation has been started to find out why the youth took took his life.

Taxi strike threat

Taxi associations of the city will go on an indefinite strike from April 29 if their demands are not met. This was decided at a joint meeting held on Friday. Their demands include stopping private and company cars from illegally taking on passengers on a shared basis. Bimal Guha, general secretary of the Bengal Taxi Association, said the movement was also against “corruption” in the Public Vehicles Department (PVD).

Bypass accident

A middle-aged unidentified man was seriously injured when a speeding private car knocked him down on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass on Friday morning. A traffic sergeant who was patrolling the area admitted him to Nilratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital. The driver managed to flee with the vehicle.

Gujarat march

About 1,000 sex workers from various parts of the city will march from College Square to Rani Rashmoni Avenue on Saturday to protest the continuing violence in Gujarat. Activists of several NGOs will also take part in the rally.

Howrah roadblock

Trinamul Youth Congress members put up a roadblock on Chowrasta at Salkia, Howrah, on Friday morning to protest the ongoing drinking water crisis in the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) area. The demonstrators alleged that the HMC authorities had failed to supply adequate drinking water. Later, at least 100 demonstrators were arrested for obstructing vehicular movement.    

 
 
MOTHER POINTS TO FOUL PLAY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
Fed up of waiting for two years to be told the cause of her only son’s death, a middle-aged widow from Beleghata, in east Calcutta, has approached chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission Mukul Gopal Mukherjee for justice.

In a letter, dated April 9, Saraswati Mondal, the widow, has sought to be told why she was kept in the dark about the murder of her son, Uday, 28, for the past two years.

The victim, who used to work in a private nursing home as an electrician, was reportedly killed on December 28, 1999. Though the body did not bear marks of external injuries, it was recovered from a bush in Salt Lake.

“I am aware that the autopsy report is with the police but no one is telling me how or why Uday died. I have made the rounds of police stations for months but no one listens to me. I suspect foul play,” she said.

Irked by the callousness of the police department, Mukherjee said on Friday that he had asked his office to look into the matter and initiate steps to speed up the investigation.

Saraswati had alleged that on December 27, 1999, an employee of the nursing home came to her house to inform her about Uday. “My son’s colleague told me that Uday will have to stay back at the nursing home for some official work. I became anxious when Uday did not return the next day. Later, when I contacted the nursing home authorities, one of the employees told me that my son had left the premises in the morning. After several hours, another employee of the nursing home asked me to contact the South Bidhannagar police station, as the body of an unidentified youth was reportedly lying there. I rushed to the police station to find the unclaimed body was Uday’s,” she wrote in the letter to the chief minister.

According to Mondal, though the South Bidhannagar police had recorded a case of unnatural death (case no. 15/99, dt. 28.12.99) it did not show enthusiasm in rounding up the killers.

“I suspect that my son was murdered. I had even hinted about the killer to the police, but they refused to investigate matters. With my only son gone, I do not know how to run the family. All I seek now is justice,” Saraswati is reported to have told rights panel officials.

Following the complaint, the superintendent of North 24-Parganas has been asked to look into the case and start an immediate investigation. He has also been asked to submit the report to Mukherjee at the earliest.

   

 
 
DOCTORS FRET OVER SPURT IN MALE BREAST CANCER 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
January 2002. Radheyshyam Mukherjee, 72, was detected suffering from cancer. A month later, he was treated for cancer in the lungs, but it soon spread to other parts of the body. However, the primary source of the cancer continued to elude doctors. A few weeks later, the case was taken to Prof Subir Ganguly, head of department, radiology, Calcutta Medical College, who found that Mukherjee had a lump on his left breast, which was the primary location of the cancer. Mukherjee had not thought it serious enough to report. Two weeks later, he died of stage-four breast cancer.

Alarmed at the growing rise of breast cancer among males and the extremely low level of awareness among the people and a large section of doctors, leading oncologists of the city are planning a first-ever study into the subject. In the past year, 10 cases were reported in city hospitals, against only four in 2000-2001.

“The scenario has changed dramatically. The most worrying factor is that patients tend to ignore the lump in their breast. It fails to register even in the minds of educated patients when told they are suffering from breast cancer,” says Dr Diptendra Sarkar, leading oncosurgeon and clinical tutor at Institute of Post-Graduate Medicine and Educational Research.

Though men do not have pronounced breasts like women, they do have a small amount of breast tissue, consisting of a few ducts, and also produce estrogen, the female hormone believed to cause breast cancer in women. Men with an abnormal enlargement of their breasts (known as gynecomastia) in response to drug or hormone treatment or infections are also more susceptible to breast cancer, feel city experts.

“The nature of the cancer, which shows in the form of a lump, is similar in both men and women. But, from all the cases I have studied so far, breast cancer in males has definitely shown a worse prognosis than in women,” according to Prof Kalyan Bhattacharya, head of department (radiology), NRS Medical College and Hospital.

Doctors estimate that patients in the age group off 62-70 are more prone to breast cancer, though in 30 per cent of the cases, the disease is congenital. Frequent exposure to X-rays, infections and regular consumption of alcohol (causing more hormone secretion) are also causes of breast cancer in males.

A lump in the breast, followed by changes in shape of the aureola and bleeding from the nipple, in some cases, are indications of breast cancer.

“If detected at an early stage, patients can survive after undergoing a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, in men, the tumour tends to attack the inner muscles quicker and spreads to the lymph nodes, making successful treatment at a later stage very difficult. The awareness level is poor among men and most patients even refuse to go for a biopsy,” Dr Sarkar added.

   

 
 
TWO HELD FOR TRADER MURDER IN APARTMENT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
The killers of 60-year-old Satyendra Prasad Singh, a businessman from Strand Road, were arrested on Friday. Singh’s accountant Rakesh Srivastav and a mutia (porter), Om Prakash, confessed to the murder at the Strand Road apartment.

Deputy commissioner, detective department, Soumen Mitra, said the duo was picked up early on Friday and interrogated.

“During interrogation, they broke down and confessed to the crime,” he said. According to the police, the duo had planned to rob Singh after they came to know that he would wind up business and settle down in Patna.

Mitra said that Srivastav was sacked by Singh in January on charges of misappropriation of funds. Srivastav, however, remained in touch with Om Prakash and came to know that Singh had kept cash to the tune of Rs 1 lakh in the house.

“On the evening of February 7, Prakash had gone to Singh’s apartment with Srivastav. As the businessman opened the door, the duo stormed into the room and forced him to open the locker. But it was empty. Later, the cash was found inside an almirah. After taking the money, the duo tied Singh up and slit his throat with a razor,” added Mitra.

To mislead the police, Prakash told Srivastav to make a phone call at his neighbour’s house on Strand Road, where he would watch television. “Srivastav told the neighbour that he was calling from Midnapore to inform Prakash that his wife was ailing,” said Mitra.

According to the plan, Prakash went to his neighbour’s house and then left for Midnapore. “We started suspecting him when the Midnapore police found out that Prakash’s wife was not ill. Besides, there were a number of contradictory statements by the duo. After sustained interrogation, both of them confessed to the crime,” said Mitra.

   

 
 
PLUG THE LEAKS TO TURN TAPS DRY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
As the city braces for a drinking water crisis with the onset of summer, member, mayor-in-council in charge of water, Sovan Chatterjee, has drawn up grand plans to reduce the sufferings of citizens.

Chatterjee says the crisis in water will be due to repairs in the 62-inch pipeline between Tallah and Palta. Initially, the entire pipeline was videotaped to locate the leaks. The tapes were then shown to municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya and minister of state (municipal affairs) Anju Kar. Tenders for the repairs will be floated next week.

“It will take around two months to repair the damages,” said Chatterjee. “I am aware that in two months’ time, summer will be at its peak. To tide over the problem, from April-end, arrangements will be made so that the 62- inch pipeline can provide 10 million gallons of water a day. At present, we get 170 million gallons from Palta. After the repairs, this pipeline alone can provide 80 million gallons daily,” he added.

Despite Chatterjee’s promises, neither the councillors of his party nor the Opposition are happy with the performance of his department.

Already member, mayor-in-council, parks and gardens, Hridayanand Gupta, who is also a councillor from Burrabazar, has presented a bleak picture of the water supply condition in B.B.D. Bag and other areas.

He has reportedly said that the water supply department is more interested in major projects than minor repairs, which could solve the present crisis. Among others not in agreement with Chatterjee is Paresh Pal, MLA from Maniktala.

Chatterjee, however, defended his plans. “The issue at B.B.D. Bag is quite different. Since repairs can be conducted only at night, the water crisis there will take some time to solve. I will definitely speak to the MLAs who are not agreeing with me on this account,” he added.

He rubbished Pal’s allegation that in ward no. 14, tubewells were not sunk, even after being inspected by the engineers. “Already, five tubewells have been sunk and if necessary more will be provided,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition and CPM councillor Nirmal Mukherjee criticised Chatterjee’s department for inept handling of a severe problem. He said: “Chatterjee is always talking about repairs to the 62-inch pipeline. But how long will people go on believing such stories? Even now, fifty per cent of the people in Calcutta Municipal Corporation areas are not getting water. I don’t know what will happen in May and June.”

   

 
 
BE COLLEGE ELECTION SNUB FOR SFI 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
The SFI’s attempts to control students’ unions in premier educational institutions suffered a setback with the Chhatra Parishad set for victory in the Shibpur Bengal Engineering College (Deemed University) union elections on Friday.

Officials said of the 21 seats, the Chhatra Parishad had already bagged 15 seats, the results of which were declared on Friday. The SFI, which established a lead in last month’s election at Presidency College, has managed to win only one seat so far. The SFI has only three representatives in the 21-member board.

Shyamal Mitra, president, Chhatra Parishad, said the students had reposed faith in them to protest hooliganism by the CPM on the college campus in December. “We have been voted to power since there was a united protest about the manner in which some CPM-backed outsiders forced their way into the college and harassed innocent students,” he added.

   

 
 
CRIMINALS ENJOY BAIL BOON: COPS 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 19: 
The state government has initiated a move against 87 criminals, allegedly controlling the city for the past 10 years. The criminals had reportedly obtained bail from different courts and were back to their lives of crime.

The city police have handed over a list of such criminals to advocate-general Balai Ray recently. Ray will meet Chief Justice A.K. Mathur over the need to dispose of the cases involving the criminals at the earliest.

Earlier, the police had expressed concern over the courts granting bail to these criminals. According to police sources, some of the criminals were back to operating in different areas.

“We wish judgments on such cases are delivered fast, so that some kind of action can be taken against them. While on bail, most of these criminals are back to their activities,” police sources added.

   
 

FRONT PAGE / NATIONAL / EDITORIAL / BUSINESS / THE EAST / SPORTS
ABOUT US /FEEDBACK / ARCHIVE 
 
Maintained by Web Development Company