Bandh trips city power supply
Airport alarm over daily haul of banned items
More muscle for CM in party
Waterbodies in law clash
Bargain plea after job raid

Calcutta, May 18: 
A bandh at Budge Budge and a snag at Salt Lake dragged vast areas of the city through several hours of power cuts in the middle of a sweltering summer on Saturday. The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation’s (CESC) Budge Budge unit fell short of its generation capacity, while the Kasba-Salt Lake distribution line tripped. As a result, residents of Kasba, Jadavpur, Ballygunge, Dhakuria, Wood Street, Shyambazar, Belgachhia and Salt Lake suffered prolonged spells of power cut.

The CESC was compelled to slash generation at its Budge Budge plant due to disruptions by workers of a local jute mill who had called a bandh in the area on Saturday.

The bandh supporters stopped a truck carrying fly-ash out of the power utility’s Budge Budge unit. As a result, the authorities were prevented from clearing the ash that had accumulated at the plant. This forced generation to be slashed by about 100 MW and the CESC managed to release only about 850 MW into the grid, resulting in a deficit.

The CESC, which expected to draw around 285 MW from the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB), had to overdraw to the tune of 350 MW to meet the shortfall. State power minister Mrinal Banerjee said he had instructed the state electricity board to supply “unrestricted power” to the CESC. “We expect the situation to normalise by the evening,” he added.

The Damodar Valley Corporation also supplied 25 MW to the CESC, while the state-run power units at Kolaghat, Bakreshwar, Bandel and Santaldih generated about 2,200 MW.

The power situation in the city improved later in the evening with the Budge Budge unit functioning to capacity.

Salt Lake was plunged under a seven-hour spell of darkness after the 132-KV Kasba-Salt Lake transmission line of the WBSEB tripped due to a technical fault around 3.30 pm. Residents of the township, including politicians and senior bureaucrats, remained without electricity through the afternoon and evening.

The Lalbazar police control room was informed of the power cut in Salt Lake by a call from chief secretary Sourin Roy’s house around 5 pm. WBSEB engineers worked overtime and supply was restored around 10 pm.


Calcutta, May 18: 
A gunny bag full of items capable of blowing up an aircraft or effecting a hijack. This is what the Central Industrial Security Force personnel (CISF) at the Netaji Subhas International Airport are seizing every day from airline passengers at the security check.

From knives to blades and matches to gas-lighters — the long list of banned items seized from passengers travelling on various airlines over the past one month has been disconcerting enough for the CISF top brass to call a co-ordination committee meeting of all airlines and law-enforcing agencies.

“Thirty gunny bags full of banned articles every month — this is indeed a great cause for worry for us. We have seen that passengers try to take chances, despite being aware of what they can carry and what not. They feel they can get away with it. We have told the various airlines that they must be stricter with their rules. There should be a greater uniformity in airline rules on what passengers can carry with them,” said a senior CISF official on Saturday.

The CISF has also despatched a detailed report to the various airlines in this regard and tightened security in and around the city airport.

The alert comes on the heels of a Thai Airways passenger, carrying knives and axes in his hand baggage, managing to clear the security check. Sanjay Kumar, a passenger flying to Bangkok on Wednesday, was eventually caught while boarding the aircraft.

The CISF has decided to dismiss a sub-inspector who allowed Kumar in with the weapons. Investigation revealed that Kumar had earlier shipped such weapons through registered baggage, but this time he failed to get his luggage registered in time and therefore, took his chances with the hand baggage. “He kept the weapons hidden under a bunch of flowers, which fooled the guard. He is currently under suspension and we will take stern action against him,” said a senior official.

Earlier, it was supposed that the outdated X-ray machine had failed to detect the weapons inside the bag, but an inspection carried out by airport director Roshan Lal and senior CISF personnel revealed that the machines were functioning properly.

“We hid firearms, knives and other weapons inside a bag, but the X-ray machines revealed all of them. Everything depends on the person manning the machine. He must be able to figure out what the machine is pointing at,” Lal said.

He said the Airports Authority of India had procured three new X-ray machines, which would replace the obsolete ones shortly. Two aerobridges were a lso being built for smoother flight operations, Lal added.

Arms supplier arrested: Kausar, an inter-state arms supplier, was arrested in Dum Dum on Saturday. He was carrying a gunny bag containing 16 revolvers. Kausar is being interrogated.


Calcutta, May 18: 
In a bid to streamline party activities before the panchayat elections, the CPM leadership has entrusted chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee with additional responsibilities. Sources said Bhattacharjee has been asked to manage party affairs in Darjeeling and Murshidabad districts.

Earlier, labour minister Mohammad Amin and former transport minister Shyamal Chakraborty assisted Bhattacharjee in managing party affairs in Darjeeling and Murshidabad, respectively.

Insiders say several hard-liners in the newly-formed CPM state secretariat have been sidelined to allow the chief minister more flexibility in managing party affairs.

Hunt for peddler: Police are on the lookout for a woman suspected to be involved in the murder of a trader in Lake Town on Wednesday. Pungia, a drug peddler, was involved in a string of dacoities in the Lake Town-Dakshindari belt. On Saturday, two more youths were arrested in Salt Lake in this connection.


Calcutta, May 18: 
The state departments of fisheries and environment have come up with contradictory proposals for the “protection” of waterbodies.

The fisheries department plans to introduce amendments to the Inland Fisheries Act to restrict filling up of waterbodies.

On the other hand, the environment department has proposed a legislation to allow landfill in urban waterbodies for further development.

Both the proposals are being reviewed by the state judicial department. Chief secretary S.N. Roy is preparing a note for the chief minister to help him strike a balance between the two proposals.

The state fisheries minister today announced the proposed amendments to Inland Fisheries Act.

“We have to protect our waterbodies from being filled up so that the environment and fisheries do not suffer. So we have decided to make the existing law stricter,” Kiranmoy Nanda said.

The Inland Fisheries Act prevents the filling up of waterbodies over an area of five cottahs but the proposed legislation of the environment department leaves room for landfill, especially in urban areas.

Though environment minister Manab Mukherjee was not available for comment, sources in his department said the new rules proposed to give way to projects in municipal areas where there was no scope for fishery development.

Nanda did not comment on the environment department’s proposals. “They could be doing it to serve their purpose. I have nothing to comment,” he said.

Nanda said though the fisheries Act was amended twice with the provision to fine up to Rs 2 lakh and impose imprisonment for two years in case of violation, there were still instances of filling up of ponds and tanks, especially in urban areas.

“We have received 78 complaints from Calcutta, 112 from South 24-Parganas, 218 from North 24-Parganas, 104 from Howrah and 23 from Hooghly since 1998,” the fisheries minister pointed out.

The amendments, which will be placed before the Assembly slated to convene on June 7, will include:

The power on the government to acquire any waterbody, partly of wholly filled.

The offender will have to pay the value of two years’ fish in the filled tank or pond to the government before the latter acquires the land and

The government can acquire any waterbody not being used for pisciculture and hand it over to cooperatives.

The fisheries minister said that once the law was amended for the third time, the government would have enough powers to fully utilise the water resources in the state.


Calcutta, May 18: 
A day after raiding a dairy unit in Hooghly for jobs, local CPM activists today sought to “negotiate” a settlement with its owner.

However, Kanpur-based entrepreneur Arindam Nath has ruled out their demand. “I have set up the plant to do business, not to get into unnecessary trouble,” he said.

CPM state legislator Bhaktaram Pan led some residents to the unit of Indian Dairy Products Limited at Chanditala yesterday and demanded that the owner sack the present employees and recruit local people. They also allegedly threatened to close down operations.

This morning, the activists sought a settlement on a makeshift platform in front of the Indian Dairy Products Limited unit at Chanditala.

“The protesters have left and we understand that a week’s time has been given to the owner for some settlement,” said N. Ghosh, officer-in-charge of Chanditala police station. The chief minister’s office has directed a police team to the factory site.

Nath has named CPM legislator Bhaktaram Pan as responsible for the protests in his FIR, which he lodged with the Chanditala police.


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