After the test, triumph
‘Net’ gains in Council exams
Deficit touches new high
Prove yourself and stay mobile
The City Diary
A touch of green to bridge the gap
An eye on Tollywood’s past
Arrest busts extortion ring
Salt Lake litter trips on road to Rajarhat
Sterilisation scalpel cuts short two lives

Calcutta, May 22: 

City quartet on star list

The results of Madhyamik 2002 were announced on Wednesday, and Calcutta had something to cheer about: four city students in the Top Ten list.

While it is still too early to shrug off the label that district schools score over the city ones — details of results will only become clear on Thursday, when the marksheets reach the schools — having four of its students on the star list is something the city has not seen in several years. In the past two years, there were only two city students each in the Top Ten list.

“Calcutta schools have fared much better this year; their presence has doubled on the merit list,” said president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education Haraprasad Samaddar.

What did come as a surprise to many was the absence of any of the English-medium schools on the Top Ten list. South Point, Modern High, St Lawrence and St Xavier’s were conspicuous by their absence this year.

Instead, it was students from Labanhrad Vidyapith for Boys, Hare School, Baranagar Ramakrishna Mission and Nava Nalanda that made it to the top. Said Debaprasad Chakraborty, headmaster of Hare School: “We are very happy with the results this year. We believe institutions such as ours will continue to figure on the merit list in future.”

But for some students, there were no surprises at the press conference addressed by Samaddar to announce the results. They had already tracked it on a Calcutta Telephone website, before it was stopped by the Board authorities.

With the publication of the website in the press on Wednesday morning, there was a rush of students at several cybercafes. But the authorities there had disappointing news for them. They were told that they would not be able to access it, as the facility had been withdrawn early in the morning.

The confusion had arisen apparently due to an arrangement between Calcutta Telephones and the Board authorities on posting the results on the website. According to chief general manager of Calcutta Telephones, S.K. Chakraborty, he received a compact disc on Tuesday from the Board, containing the results. He directed his office to post it on the CalTel website. Around midnight, the results became available to all candidates.

However, as soon as news filtered down to Samaddar, he took “strong exception” to this, as he had expected the results to be posted only after the official announcement at 3 pm on Wednesday. “The CalTel authorities have violated the contract and we shall take legal action,” he said.

But Chakraborty blamed it on the Board. “They never told us they wanted the information posted only after the results were officially announced.”


Calcutta, May 22: 
For the first time, the results of the ISC, ICSE and Madhyamik examinations were out on the same day. The ISC (Class XII) and the ICSE (Class X) results were available on the Net since late on Tuesday. School authorities downloaded their respective institution’s performance and put the printouts on the school notice boards.

Most schools in the city are, however, yet to receive the packets containing the official results from the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations in Delhi. Gauging from the reactions of institution heads, based on results on the Net, the performance in general has been good. “It is, perhaps, better than last year’s,” said one principal.

Unlike the Madhyamik Board, the Council does not rank the students with the best results. “We get to know who’s got the highest marks by comparing the toppers of each school and through newspaper reports,” said Vishnu Adhikary, an ISC candidate who has secured a high first division.

From preliminary information gathered so far, Samudra Dasgupta of St James’ School has secured the highest marks in the ISC exams. He has 96 per cent in his best four subjects. Addala Bhargav of St Xavier’s Collegiate School scored 95.7 per cent, Saket Todi of the Assembly of God Church School 95.25 per cent, Suryadipta Sarkar of Calcutta Boys School 95.17 per cent and Krishna Kumar Mehra of Don Bosco, Park Circus, bagged 94.5 per cent. Among the girls, Rajasree Banerjee of La Martiniere for Girls has scored 93.6 per cent marks.

A La Martiniere girl has topped the ICSE exams, according to reports available till now. “Anisha Sharma has secured 95.3 per cent in her best five subjects,” said Hilda Peacock, principal of La Martiniere for Girls. “Of course, this is based on the results available on the Net.”

Three boys share the tentative second place. Rahul Sangvi and Saurav Nair, both of St James’ School, and Sahayak Burman of St Xavier’s have all secured 95 per cent.They are followed by Sahil Poddar of La Martiniere for Boys (94.6 per cent), Rahul Biswas of Don Bosco Park Circus (94.4 per cent) and Soubhik Banerjee, again of La Martiniere for Boys (94.2 per cent).

The results of the 25 Council-affiliated schools in Howrah had reached the region’s convener, Father George, on Wednesday evening. The principal of Don Bosco, Liluah, said the school had done better than last year.


Calcutta, May 22: 
The mercury dropped, and so did the megawatts. The city and adjoining areas reeled under massive power cuts throughout Wednesday, as the shortfall in the CESC-served areas rose to a staggering 220 mw in the evening peak hour — the highest so far this summer.

Salt Lake and the northern and southern fringes of the city, too, suffered widespread power cuts because of low generation by the Bandel thermal power plant.

In the CESC-supplied areas, the shortfall touched about 205 mw in the morning peak hours, as the giant 250-mw unit at the Budge Budge plant has been lying inoperative since Monday night. The unit is expected to be lit up on Thursday.

“It will take some time before the Budge Budge unit picks up generation. So, widespread power cuts are unavoidable on Thursday too,” a senior CESC officer said.

Wild fluctuations in the frequency of supply in the CESC system, too, was causing the power cuts, he added.

The power crisis in Calcutta since Tuesday was at its worst on Wednesday as power cuts, ranging between two and four hours, plagued the city.

CESC sources said the cuts were more intense in south Calcutta and its neighbourhoods as the state electricity board supplied about 60 mw less to the CESC grid from its sub-station at Kasba both in the morning and evening.

The situation was compounded by a sharp increase in the number of faults due to the heat wave.

“The heat has become so intense over the past few days that our equipment, including the metallic transformers and pillar boxes, has developed more snags. It becomes difficult for engineers to repair faults quickly, as the transformers and pillar boxes become too hot to touch,” a senior officer said.

As dusk set in, vast areas of north, central, south and east Calcutta were plunged into darkness. Power cuts lasting between two and four hours were reported from Ballygunge, Park Street, Golf Green, Jadavpur, Lake Gardens, Kasba, Jodhpur Park, vast stretches of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, Chittaranjan Avenue, AJC Bose, APC Roy Road, Belgachhia, Lake Town Patipukur, S.K. Deb Road and Kankurgachhi.

Salt Lake, Baguiati, Keshtopur and other fringe areas of the city, served by the state electric board, too, were not spared. In these areas, the shortfall rose to over 150 mw on Wednesday evening.

The deficit was mainly due to the inoperative 210-mw fifth unit of the Bandel thermal power plant. The state-run power generating units generated about 2,000 mw, against the usual 2,200 mw.


Calcutta, May 22: 
Want to be ‘in command’ or ‘touch tomorrow’? Simple, just walk into a corner cellshop, say ‘yes’ or ask for some ‘magic’, fill your phone and forget about not being connected.

Not any more. The hassle-free route to a pre-paid connection has been blocked — and beware, the Big Brother is watching. A Central government directive ordering cellphone operators to ask for particulars regarding the identity of pre-paid cardholders has sent both Usha Martin Telekom and Bharati Mobitel scurrying after subscribers. Submit proper proof of identity and address at once, or find yourself disconnected — that’s the message from both Command and AirTel to pre-paid SIM card-holders. And the disconnection drive is well underway.

The Central home ministry order was prompted by the “random use of pre-paid cards by terrorists and extortionists” to escape the police net. The circular directs cellphone service providers to maintain records of all subscribers — post and pre-paid — complete with photo-identification cards, for the sake of ‘national security’.

The Calcutta Police top-brass had written to Bharati Mobitel and Usha Martin Telekom, soon after the attack on the American Center, urging them to devise a method of keeping tabs on pre-paid card-users. Now, responding to the government order, both the cell companies have swung into action.

Deepak Gulati, chief executive officer of Bharati Mobitel, said: “We have no intention of harassing our subscribers. We are just following the government’s order. And all this is being done for the sake of our country’s security and everyone should cooperate.”

Refuting consumer complaints that they had been not been given enough time to furnish relevant documents and avoid disconnection, Gulati said: “We had spread the message through advertisements and posters. We had also sent messages to all our pre-paid customers.”

Sanjoy Mukerji, CEO of Usha Martin Telekom, also played down the aspect of customers being hassled. “It is a simple procedure. People can easily submit documents like their driving licence or voter identity card to renew or get back their connections. Our customer-care unit is handling numerous such cases every day,” said Mukerji.

The new stricture on pre-paid card-holders will enable the law-enforcement agencies to keep track of all cellphone users through telecom services. “Most criminals and people engaged in subversive activities use pre-paid cards. It was almost impossible for us to trace them as, unlike post-paid users, they did not have to submit any documents proving their identity to the cellphone companies. Now, tracking down these criminals will become easier,” said Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of police, detective department.


May 22: 

Wife, lover held for labourer’s death

Two persons were arrested in Howrah on Wednesday in connection with Tuesday night’s murder of a daily- wage labourer. Police said Salil Das and the victim’s wife Mahela Bibi were arrested on charges of killing Fakir. The two are being interrogated. Rajesh Kumar, superintendent of Howrah police, said an affair between Das and Mahela Bibi led to Fakir’s murder. According to Kumar, Das took Fakir and Mahela Bibi to the house of a relative and wanted to spend the night on the terrace. Around midnight, when Das and Mahela tried to leave, the relative became suspicious and informed the police. “Das and Mahela had murdered Fakir on the terrace and dumped the body into a pond nearby. A sharp weapon was recovered from the pond,” Kumar said. A police picket has been posted in the area.

Mayor in court for contempt

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Wednesday was present at Calcutta High Court in connection with a contempt of court rule against him. Justice Pratap Ray, who is hearing the case, dispensed with the personal presence of the mayor in future. The court had directed the mayor to attend the hearing for violating an order asking him to disburse the pension of Ramesh Chowdhury, a former employee of Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC). Chowdhury had filed a case against the CMC, alleging that he had not been paid his dues. CMC counsel Alok Ghosh on Wednesday told the court that the civic body had already sent the pension to the petitioner, which the petitioner’s lawyer denied having received. The court asked the mayor to file an affidavit in this regard. The mayor was accompanied by almost all the members of his council. As Mukherjee had not turned up on the first day of the hearing, the court had directed the city police chief to ensure his presence. On Wednesday morning, joint commissioner of Calcutta Police Sandhi Mukherjee went to the mayor’s residence at Gariahat and served the order on him.

Twin fires

Two fires broke out in the city on Wednesday. No lives were lost in either incident. A fire broke out in a chemical laboratory at Customs House on Kiron Shankar Roy Road around 8 pm. Five fire engines brought the blaze under control in an hour. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained. Another fire broke out in a transformer on Bentinck Street on Wednesday evening. Two fire tenders put it out. Police said a short-circuit caused the blaze.

HC vacation

Calcutta High Court will remain closed for summer vacation from May 25 to June 10. Only the vacation bench will hear cases during the period. Normal proceedings will resume on June 11, officials of the Chief Justice’s secretariat said.

Mob attack

Trouble broke out in Raja Subodh Mallick Square on Wednesday afternoon when a mob stormed the office of a private company to demand Rs 20,000. They assaulted the durwan and left after company officials refused to pay up. No one was arrested.

Held for murder

lThe Tiljala police rounded up three criminals in the area on Tuesday night. They were wanted for murder. Thumbs Up TO eastern railway for inaugurating a station building including booking counters and other passenger amenities at Park Circus    

Calcutta, May 22: 
Green Club is an organisation of the children and for the children. Its aim is to bridge the gulf between the privileged and the underprivileged. Numbering more than 2,000 students from 55 schools in the city, the members are passionate about the environment and the welfare of the less fortunate among their generation. They go on nature study excursions and march for a greener city, take part in contests and interact with needy children, all for a cause.

Working towards that end, they have adopted Model High School on Landsdown Lane as their next project. They have already organised a free medical camp on May 18 for the students, and are in the process of collecting money for various other schemes. Some fund-raisers — through plays or dance programmes — are organised by students from Model High, and members of Green Club. The next event, a mime show, is on July 9.

Their work with the children focuses on four areas — health, hygiene, culture and education. As there is an exchange of information among the children, the club members and the Model students learn and grow together.

The innovative club is also involved in SNAP — Save Nature Avoid Plastic. The member-students collect old newspapers and hand them to destitute families to make paper bags, which they sell. The money finds its way back to the women and children who make the bags. They are even provided insurance coverage to give them a rare sense of security.

The objectives of these environmental revolutionaries-cum-social workers include protection of child labourers, providing employment opportunities to those in need, controlling the use of plastic and increasing social awareness among other students, families and friends.

Another project involves providing accident insurance to poor children and ensuring their proper treatment in the event of an emergency. In February this year, insurance worth Rs 25 lakh — Rs 10,000 each — was handed out to 250 kids of the Rainbow project, in which 200 children from different schools took part.

The funds are raised by the club through donations, fund-raisers by concerned people and programmes —like inter-school ‘green’ quizzes, fetes, musical extravaganzas, dance, drama, debates and theatre — organised by the children and the club. The rewards for the children include prizes like holiday trips, sponsored by various companies.

Each member-student pays an annual fee of Rs 150, half of which is used for the development of “one underprivileged child”. In addition, each member is given personal accident coverage worth Rs 25,000 and a green card, which gets them discounts at various shops and establishments in Calcutta.

The resourceful youngsters produce a quarterly newsletter and an annual magazine. Working with other organisations in the city, like Unicef and Rainbow, they also have schemes like sponsoring a child.

“We take our message straight to the children in schools,” says Kaushik Dasgupta, secretary of the organisation. “The response has been so good that we are overwhelmed. Our present centre at Beltala Road is not sufficient anymore. We need a bigger place. The space constraint has stopped us from taking any more members.”

A cornerstone of the club is its hands-on approach, says Dasgupta, so the children know exactly what is happening and can see how their work makes a difference.

From planting trees to donating money raised by NGOs fighting for the same cause; from collecting and giving away old textbooks, clothes and other necessities to those who can’t afford them, the children are the ones doing all the work.

“All we do is provide them guidance and direction,” Dasgupta smiles.


Calcutta, May 22: 
What was Tollywood like half a century ago? A documentary, the first of its kind, retraces the history of the Calcutta film industry in the 1950s and 1960s. It is being made by the government’s Technicians’ Studio.

The shooting of the film, Studio Parar Adda, begins from May 27 at Technicians’ where sets of Calcutta as it looked in the 50s will be recreated. The film is expected to be completed by June.

“Few veterans are living. People like Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha, Ajit Bandopadhyay, Haridhan Mukherjee and Bharati Debi are still around. If we don’t preserve the history of Tollygunge studio para now, it may be too late,” said Apurba Chatterjee, administrator of Technicians’ Studio. He said the documentary would find a valued place in the state’s film archive.

Among others short-listed for the documentary are artistes like Soumitra Chatterjee, Supriya Choudhury, Sabitri Chatterjee, Geeta Dey, Shobha Sen and Tarun Kumar, editors Dulal Dutta and Mani Adhikary, and sound recordists Satyen Chatterjee and Santu Bose. It will be directed by Santu Bose.

Cinematographer Ramananda Sengupta, who assisted French film-maker Jean Renoir when he made River, will also feature in the documentary.

An attempt is being made to involve Suchitra Sen, the legend who lives in self-imposed exile. “We know that the documentary will attain a different dimension if we can include Suchitra Sen in it. We are trying to reach her through some veterans,” said Chatterjee.

“There are some actors and actresses who have become very old and infirm like Haridhanbabu. They acted in a number of Satyajit Ray films and are now well past 90. We will have to speak to him at his home,” said Chatterjee.

Two of the most charismatic personalities of Tollygunge studios, Satyajit Ray and Uttam Kumar, are, of course, missing.

“That is why stock lengths of both Uttam Kumar’s and Manikda’s (Satyajit Ray) films will be widely used. Manikda and Uttam Kumar will also figure prominently in the musical score. During discussions, the scores of Pather Panchali, Saptapadi and Pathe Holo Deri came up repeatedly,” said the studio administrator.

Some of those who are expected to be interviewed felt that such a film should have been made much earlier.

“Today we have lost many stalwarts of the Tollygunge studio para. Among the old film-makers only a few are alive today like Mrinal Sen, Aurobindo Mukherjee and Tarun Mazumdar,” said cinematographer Soumendu Roy, most of whose career has revolved around Ray films.

“I feel really excited to participate in the film and narrate my experiences with Manikda. Ashani Sanket was the first colour film I handled in 1973. We were shooting in Bolpur, and Manikda wanted the shot of a village during dusk. While shooting I checked my light meter and told him that the shot would be under-exposed. But Manikda insisted on it, and when the film finally arrived after being processed in a Madras laboratory, I was surprised that the shot was perfect. Manikda had a better understanding of light than the light meter,” said Roy.

The film will also trace the influence of Hollywood on Bengali cinema, and cover the famous studios like New Theatres. There, Prithvi Raj Kapoor made films under the banner of Prithvi Theatre in 1930s with his sons Raj and Shammi.


Calcutta, May 22: 
An organised racket in abduction and extortion was busted with the arrest of a criminal from Ekbalpore on Wednesday.

Riyaz, alias Mohammad Siddiqui, 23, was wanted for a series of abductions and extortions in central Calcutta in the past few years.

Riyaz had forged an alliance with criminals like Chikna Raju and Mohammad Naseem and dominated Colootola Street, Mechua Bazaar and other areas of central Calcutta.

On January 25, Riyaz had picked up an Ekbalpore businessman and held him captive for three days, before releasing him for an undisclosed sum. Since then, the Port police had been on his trail.

After a crackdown on city criminals, Riyaz had fled to Mumbai and stayed there for several months to escape the police dragnet, before staging a comeback. But his luck ran out on Wednesday, after a few policemen challenged him in Ekbalpore, when he had gone to visit his relatives.

“We are questioning him on what he was doing in Mumbai after fleeing the city,” said deputy commissioner of police, port, Harman Preet Singh. Sources said Riyaz was in need of funds, for which he had to return to Calcutta.

“From extortion to blackmail, Riyaz and his men were earning lakhs through illegal means. His arrest is a big relief to us,” said an officer. Riyaz was also involved in several extortion cases in Alipore, Sealdah and Jorasanko.


Calcutta, May 22: 
Come monsoon and the garbage dumping system in Salt Lake may collapse if the two-and-a half-kilometre stretch of road, completely destroyed by heavy trucks carrying earth to fill up the Rajarhat township, is not repaired immediately.

Mahishbathan Road, between wards 14 and 21 in Sector V, under Bidhannagar Municipality, was used by Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) nearly two years ago for carrying earth cut from the fisheries in the added areas of Bidhannagar to Rajarhat township. The road is being used by trucks of the municipality for dumping garbage in Mollar Bheri, the dumping ground of Bidhannagar.

“We gave them (Hidco) permission to use the road and their officials had assured us that they would repair the road damaged by the movement of the heavily-loaded trucks,” a senior official of Bidhannagar Municipality said on Wednesday.

According to him, a foot of silt has accumulated on the concrete, which will make the road impossible to navigate by trucks.

“Every day, 60 to 70 tonnes of garbage accumulates in Salt Lake and if the road is not repaired before the monsoon, the dumping system will collapse,” said Dilip Gupta, chairman of Bidhannagar Municipality. The municipality has written to minister for housing Gautam Deb and the managing director of Hidco to ensure immediate repair.

Ramesh Bar, chairman in council, conservancy, of the municipality, said that though Hidco has been asked time and again to repair the road, nothing has been done so far. “Residents of the area have told us the condition of the road will worsen if it is not repaired before the rains set in,” Bar stated.

When contacted, Hidco officials said the road was repaired twice but since that was inadequate and the potholes were not filled up properly, they will repair it again.

“We have received the letter from Bidhannagar Municipality and our management has instructed us to start the repairs,” an official said. He, however, denied that Hidco used the road for two years. “We have used Mahishbathan Road for not more than 60 days,” he claimed.


Tamluk (Purba Midnapore), May 22: 
Two women died last night after undergoing laparoscopic surgery at a sterilisation camp organised at the Gokhuri primary health centre near here at the behest of an eminent gynaecologist from Calcutta.

The deaths triggered violence with angry residents ransacking the camp, heckling a team of doctors sent by the district health department to the clinic late last night and smashing their cars. When police rushed to the spot, they met with a hail of stones. The force brought the situation under control and dispersed the mob after a mild lathicharge.

Behula Giri, 28, and Geeta Karmakar, 37, developed complications soon after undergoing the operation. They were rushed to the Tamluk sub-divisional hospital in a serious condition along with 40 other patients who complained of pain. Altogether 104 women underwent the laparoscopic operation at the camp.

District magistrate Anil Verma has ordered a probe into the deaths. “We are trying to find out the circumstances leading to the women’s death and the post-operative complications developed by others,” he said.

Verma said the two housewives had died on their way to hospital. Preliminary investigation showed that the deaths were not due to any medical or surgical error, but due to possible dehydration after the operation, the district magistrate added.

Sources reported that another housewife, a resident of Bhupati Nagar village, was also on the casualty list. The district administration, however, confirmed only the two deaths.


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