Govt to set up plant for leather complex
‘Median’ wages for campus jobs
Clinic classes for mothers
HS nod for scientific calculators
Court stays bail of theft accused
Naxalite hurdle to elephant haven
Nod for special HS schools
Ally silent, others roar
Negligence charge on hospital

Calcutta, March 16: 
The state government announced on Saturday that it will set up the common effluent treatment plant (CETP) at the Calcutta Leather Complex (CLC) on its own. M.L. Dalmiya and Company, the build-operate-transfer partner of the complex, was, so far, in charge of constructing the treatment plant.

Finance minister Asim Dasgupta made the announcement at the Assembly while presenting the West Bengal Appropriation Bill. “My department was not happy with the progress of the CLC. We had expressed our reservations about the developers. We have now decided to develop the land and set up the effluent treatment plant ourselves,” he said.

Though construction of the CLC began about four years ago, work on the CETP is yet to start.

The decision comes in the wake of M.L. Dalmiya and Company’s inability to get the leather complex ready within February 28 — the deadline set by the Supreme Court. Consequently, 500-plus tanneries in the Tangra-Tiljala-Topsia belt had to down shutters from March 1, after the apex court refused to extend the deadline despite a state government plea.

The crisis prompted chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industry minister Nirupam Sen to intervene in the matter.

State industry department sources said the government had “run out of patience” and was forced to take a decision before April 2 when the Supreme Court reviews the case.

The promoter had got involved in a financial dispute with the government. It wanted the state to foot the bill for the effluent transport system for the complex. The state refused to do so as it challenged the promoter’s claim that the transport system was a part of the CETP. The dispute over the total project cost of the CLC was delaying the process of relocation, sources said.

The state government had expressed its desire before the Supreme Court to get the CLC ready and the tanneries relocated within a year. It had set up a monitoring committee a year ago to look into the progress of the construction.

The state industry minister had also announced in the Assembly last week that the government was committed to get the CLC ready by October.

With the state government taking up the work on the CETP, a tranche of Rs 12 crore, which had already been sent by the Union government, can now be put to use.

The CETP is expected to handle 30 million litres of effluent by processing 1,000 tonnes of leather daily. The Union environment and forests ministry is expected to release 50 per cent of the cost of setting up the plant as a soft loan. Each module will take eight to 10 months to be completed.


Calcutta, March 16: 
The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) released the results of campus recruitment for the batch of 2002 on Saturday, a week after the institute’s annual convocation in Joka.

In a significant departure from its earlier practice, the institute didn’t spell out the maximum, minimum and average salary figures this time. The note circulated by the IIMC placement cell claimed setting “a new trend” by giving only “sectoral median values” of salaries on offer.

Explaining the rationale underlying the decision, it was mentioned that the “overall average salaries tend to send confusing signals to two of our important constituencies — potential students at IIMC and potential recruits at IIMC”.

Around 247 students graduated this year from the premier business school and despite the “near-recessionary” economic conditions, the “best firms and best jobs” came to the Joka campus with 88 companies shopping for business graduates.

The list of recruiting companies this year included Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank, Barclays Capital, The Boston Consulting Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers, HCL Technologies, Glaxo SmithKline, Ernst & Young, British Gas and Dr Reddy’s, among others.

The ‘median’ annual salaries offered by Indian companies in consulting, finance, systems and marketing were Rs 10.6 lakh, Rs 6.4 lakh, Rs 5.3 lakh and Rs 6.1 lakh, respectively.

This means, for example, half the students who got jobs in consulting would earn more than Rs 10.6 lakh. The median dollar salary at this year’s placement was US $ 92,000. But from 70 in 2000 and 84 in 2001, the number of foreign offers have come down to just 20 this year.

New A-I flights

Air India has decided to commence operations on the Calcutta-Bangkok route from April 4 with twice-weekly services. The flights, operative on Mondays and Thursdays, will also stop over at Guwahati with a view to promote tourism in the Northeast. “The decision to operate on the Calcutta-Bangkok route was taken in view of the rise in passenger traffic,” said S.N. Biswas, manager, eastern India, Air India.


Calcutta, March 16: 
In a bid to educate women on pregnancy-related problems, Belle Vue Clinic, near Minto Park, has decided to conduct pre-natal and post-natal classes.

The classes will be conducted by the clinic’s physiotherapy department once a week for two months beginning March-end.

Shabnam Agarwal, consultant physiotherapist at Belle Vue, said the eight-day course, spread over two months, would cost around Rs 1,400.

“During pregnancy, women have to adjust to physical changes which cause stress and anxiety. Our course will help women overcome myths and false notions about this critical stage of motherhood,” she said.

According to Agarwal, every woman undergoes physical, psychological and behavioural changes during pregnancy, which result in mood swings, too.

“If an expecting mother attends the course, she will be relieved of problems like back pain, muscular tension, nausea, vomiting, urinary stasis, swelling in the breasts and unusual weight gain,” she added.

Highlighting the course, she said women would be taught breathing exercises and positioning methods during labour pain. They will be informed about the ambience of the labour room, placement of foetus in the womb and the growth of the uterus.

“We will educate the would-be mothers on relaxation of muscles during labour. They can also bring their husbands or guardians to attend such classes,” said Agarwal. The classes will include audio-visual presentations, lectures and practical sessions.

The clinic will also conduct classes for executives on how to overcome back pain. “The course will especially help those with desk jobs,” said an instructor.

A physiotherapist will teach correct sitting postures to avoid spinal disorders. Consultation charges will be around Rs 300 per class.

Open-air carnival

An open-air carnival will be held in front of New Market on Sunday. The fair, named Kolkata! Kolkata, will offer visitors an opportunity to rediscover the city’s heritage in the arts, crafts, cuisine and entertainment. Anjan Dutta and Cactus will perform on the occasion while Dutta will be joined in adda session by Victor Banerjee, Ashok Vishwanathan, Chuni Goswami and Dr Partha Ghose. A quiz on Calcutta will be conducted by Barry O’Brien.


Calcutta, March 16: 
Students will be allowed to use scientific calculators for the first time in this year’s Higher Secondary examinations, beginning on March 20. So far, only ordinary calculators had been given the nod.

However, use of programmable electronic communication instruments, like mobile phones and pagers, will be restricted for examinees inside the examination halls, Jyotirmoy Mukherjee, president, West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, said.

As many as 3,86,531 candidates will appear in the examinations this time. The written tests will continue till April 13, while the practical papers are scheduled to end on May 3.

The tests will be held at 1,050 venues across the state. This year, 26 visually challenged, 17 physically challenged and two undertrials of Presidency correctional home will take the test.

On the examination days, the Council will run a control room between 7 am and 6 pm to receive complaints over telephone at the following numbers — 337-4945 and 337-4984/5/6/7.

According to Mukherjee, like in previous years, the government will ply special buses for examinees on various routes in Calcutta. Special buses will ply in some districts as well.

The Council has approached the CESC and the state electricity board to ensure uninterrupted power supply till the completion of the examinations.

The president said to ensure timely publication of results, the Council will organise a camp in Calcutta where examiners will sit together and evaluate answer scripts. Of the 45-lakh answerscripts, nearly 1.5 lakh will be examined at the camp.


Calcutta, March 16: 
They had been granted bail in the morning and would have walked out of custody. But within hours, the bail order passed by the magistrate was stayed and the four persons, accused of dacoity, were remanded in police custody for three days.

The decision of the additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM) of Sealdah court on Saturday came as a shot in the arm for the city police, which had moved court against the bail order. ACJM Anita Debnath will hear the case again on Monday.

The four were arrested eight days ago for a dacoity committed at a godown in Chitpur on February 18. Three of the seven gang members had been netted within a week of the dacoity. The booty was recovered after interrogation.

The four men were kept in police custody for eight days. On Saturday, public prosecutor Krishna Gobindo Ganguly prayed that they be remanded in police custody for four more days “for the sake of investigation”. But magistrate of the first court, Shovan Mukherjee, turned down Ganguly’s plea and granted bail to all four.

The order came as a shock to the city police as, according to legal experts, dacoity is a non-bailable offence and the accused are generally kept in custody for at least 180 days. The police also had a strong case as the loot had been recovered from the accused.

The bail order prompted the public prosecutor and the police to challenge Mukherjee’s order at the ACJM. “We are working on the case on the basis of leads provided by the accused,” said DC, DD, Soumen Mitra.


Calcutta, March 16: 
Naxalites operating in the jungles of south Bengal have put the forest department in a fix over declaring the area an elephant sanctuary.

The CPM has asked the department not to go ahead with the notification as the Naxalites are likely to turn it into a political issue.

“These groups operate out of the common jungle tracts in Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura. They have an influence on villagers there,” a senior government official said.

Members of committees looking after the forest regions feel once declared a sanctuary, they would have no say over the forests. They fear the Naxalites would take the opportunity to instigate villagers.

But the Union forest ministry’s Project Elephant has been insisting that the area be declared a sanctuary so that it can send more funds for its development.

Sources in the forest department, however, said a meeting of the wildlife advisory board, held recently in north Bengal, decided instead to go ahead with an “intensive habitat management” programme at Mayurjharna.

Mayurjharna is one the most sensitive areas so far as Naxalite activities are concerned. There are frequent encounters between the activists and the police. In fact, late last year, the state government had to beef up police presence in the area.

PWG strike

PWG activists struck again in Midnapore, critically wounding the Salboni anchal pradhan and a CPM local committee member near Sundarpur early today, reports our correspondent from Shalboni.    

Calcutta, March 16: 
The state government has decided to encourage private entrepreneurs to open self-financed institutions that would exclusively teach higher secondary courses.

Jyotirmoy Mukherjee, president, West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education, said unlike other higher secondary schools, which also teach Madhyamik students, these institutes will have only classes XI and XII.

They can be opened anywhere in the state. But they will need to pay a higher fee to the council.

To get recognition, these institutes will have to fork out Rs 20,000. This will have to be renewed every year by paying Rs 5,000. State-aided schools, however, pay only Rs 200 as renewal fee. Mukherjee also said the council had raised the annual renewal fee of English-medium higher secondary schools from Rs 200 to Rs 5,000.

Schools such as South Point, Modern High, St Xavier’s and some branches of Loreto will be affected by the decision.

Mukherjee said the government is also considering a proposal to allow existing private engineering colleges to run the proposed higher secondary institutions.

According to the proposal by the All India Council of Technical Education, the higher secondary units in the private engineering colleges would function as model schools for training students who want to take up engineering courses.

“At least half a dozen entrepreneurs have sent their applications to us…. The applicants are mostly owners of newly set-up private engineering colleges in the state,” Mukherjee said.

According to him, the council will soon begin visiting the institutions and examine their infrastructure.

“We will give our final approval only if the institutions are found suitable to teach the courses,” Mukherjee said. The government has published a gazette notification announcing the decision.

Mukherjee said the government took the decision after the technical education council approached it, saying some private engineering colleges were making losses and it would be a big help to them if they were allowed to start teaching higher secondary courses.

Sources in the school education department, however, added that the government took the decision because it could not upgrade a sufficient number of Madhyamik schools.


Calcutta, March 16: 
All but the Trinamul Congress today condemned the “dubious role” played by the NDA government yesterday at Ayodhya “in the name of defusing tension in the country”.

Members of the ruling Left Front and the SUCI rose as soon as the House sat for the day and demanded a debate on the Ayodhya issue. Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim, who had yesterday turned down an appeal to adopt a resolution condemning attorney-general Soli Sorabjee’s plea for granting permission f or puja at the “so-called undisputed site”, relented to the members’ pressure today and allowed a debate.

Intervening in the debate, the Speaker wondered whether what happened yesterday was the end of the controversy or just the beginning of another in a bigger way. “We should keep in mind that ours is a democracy. No one should exploit religious sentiments for short-term political gains. Problems, religious or political, should be resolved across the table amicably,” he said.

Halim said: “Taking a cue from one unethical act of some individual or individuals we cannot justify another misdeed.” The inauguration of Somnath Temple by Pandit Nehru does not justify that a temple should be allowed to come up at a disputed place, he contended.

Kanika Ganguly of the CPM argued that the developments at Ayodhya have landed NDA ally Trinamul in a tricky situation.

“The party’s chief hopes to have a berth in the Union Cabinet. She is in a dilemma. She has been trying hard to keep Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee happy. At the same time she has to project a secular image for herself and her party,” she said. Had the party really believed in secularism it would have severed all relations with the NDA government, said Tapan Hore of the RSP.


Chinsurah, March 16: 
A week after she was discharged from a government hospital, Kalpana Das was back as a patient. The 36-year-old woman had been given the discharge certificate of her namesake — a 10-year-old girl.

Both were admitted to the same ward of the Chinsurah Imambara Sadar Hospital on March 9 and released two days later — with the wrong certificates.

Family members of the older woman alleged that she began to vomit blood the moment she began taking the medicines prescribed on the back of the certificate that she was mistakenly given. On March 13, she was brought back to the hospital.

Trinamul Congress activists gheraoed the superintendent of the hospital, Siddhartha Neogi, to protest the negligence. The chief medical officer of the hospital, M.A. Mannan, admitted that the prescriptions had been swapped and assured that “suitable action” would be taken against the negligent staff.


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