Slide show for city schools
Skies open up, sewer lines choke
Decomposed body found
Dirty deals for classroom clean chit
The City Diary
Silver lining: Tollywood gets corporate call
Doll helps doctors on critical call
Cong leader son in assault net
Shift order sparks boycott
Principal wins reprieve

Calcutta, July 2: 
The battle for Madhyamik has long been lost. And now, the city has lost out to the districts in the Higher Secondary (HS) merit list as well. The results of HS 2002, announced on Tuesday, marks a district drubbing for Calcutta’s English-medium schools.

Among the 31 students in the Top 20, just five are from Calcutta. And only three are from the English-medium schools. This has sparked speculation in academic circles that the HS results, like the Madhyamik merit lists of the past few years, have been programmed to suit the Left Front’s rural bias.

Two from South Point (Anita V. and Kaushik Sengupta) and one from St Lawrence (Arin Ray) are the three English-medium students in the Top 20, standing ninth, 15th and 19th, respectively. Two from Jadavpur Vidyapith (Aritra Bandyopadhyay, 15th, and Dipankar Mitra, 18th) round up the metropolitan contribution to the list.

Ramakrishna Mission Residential College of Narendrapur has, again, managed to live up to its star billing by contributing six names to the Top 20 list (Abhik Ranjan Bhattacharya, Avradip Santra and Tirtha Pratim Purkait are third, fourth and sixth, respectively).

Though sources close to the Left said the districts’ surprisingly strong show pointed to the fact that the government had succeeded in giving the long-ignored schools high-grade infrastructure and better teaching methods, Calcutta-based academicians alleged that the merit list was “surprisingly” in keeping with the government’s approach to populism.

South Point Education Society spokesperson Krishna Damani was among the sceptics. “Our overall result has been as good as the previous years’ but the merit list shows just two South Point students,” he said. He added that the school would have to “find a solution” if the trend continued.

Shree Shikshayatan teacher-in-charge Dipali Mukherjee admitted she did not have a ready explanation for the absence of her girls on the merit list.

But West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education president Jyotirmoy Mukherjee said he was happy with the merit list. “The trend is a clear indication of how the schools in the districts are improving their standards. It’s a good trend, as it will change the tradition of dependence on Calcutta schools for high-quality education,” he said.

The merit list students, however, were in no mood to discuss such matters. “I was confident of doing well but not as well as this,” said Anita V. who, besides ranking ninth in HS, has come second in the Joint Entrance Examination. The other city success stories also chose to savour the moment, rather than engage in any urban-rural debate.


Calcutta, July 2: 
Several city pockets resembled scenes straight out of Waterworld as the skies opened up for the second successive evening on Tuesday. And the weatherman warned of more to come.

R.N. Goldar of the Alipore Meteorological Office said: “This is an active monsoon condition. A trough of low pressure over south Bengal and north Bay of Bengal caused the showers on Monday and Tuesday. The rain over the past 24 hours has been the heaviest this season. And the showers are likely to continue over the next 48 hours.”

With the rains on Monday and Tuesday came waterlogging, and with the waterlogging came traffic snarls. Several thoroughfares and bylanes in north, central and south Calcutta were flooded.

The complete failure of the sewerage system to cope with the flooding was evident at Paikpara, Belgachhia, Ultadanga, Mechhua, Deshbandhu Park, Balaram Bose Street, Simla Street, Bagbazar, Doctor Lane, Akrur Dutta Lane, Bowbazar, Chitpur, Thanthania, Southern Avenue and Lake Gardens, where water came surging out of manholes.

But the collapse of the civic system after the downpour was most evident in Park Street. With the underground brick sewer network under Park Street choking and rapid repairs ruled out, the entire belt could spend much of the monsoon under water, warned a section of civic officials.

“The underground sewer lines have silted and there is back pressure due to the choking at some points,” explained an executive engineer of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

“The outflow channels have lost their capacity to take the load of the monsoon. The irrigation department did not scoop out silt from them. So, the water on the streets is receding very slowly,” said member, mayor-in-council (drainage and sewerage), Rajiv Deb.

The sewerage system on Park Street collapsed when the stretch in front of the post office was under knee-deep water on Tuesday night. The police stumbled upon the cave-in and sent an SOS to the civic control room. “To ease traffic movement, the police filled the ditch with bricks and alerted the Corporation,” said deputy commissioner, traffic, M.K. Singh.

“We will take up repair work from Wednesday on a war-footing as Park Street is a vital thoroughfare of the city,” said Deb. About 175 km of brick sewers form the mainstay of Calcutta’s drainage system. Deb admitted that the “century-old brick sewers were in a precarious condition” and often collapsed under water pressure. Such a collapse blocks the flow of water and causes waterlogging, he added.

According to a senior official in the drainage department, the ripples of the Park Street sewerage collapse will be felt on Ripon Street, Ripon Lane, Elliot Road and in the New Market area.

The rains and a faulty sewerage system had another fallout — a mini outbreak of diarrhoea in east Calcutta. Fifteen people had been admitted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Beleghata till Tuesday afternoon. The blame fell on water contamination caused by the faulty supply line. The civic health department sent a medical team to the affected areas of Tiljala and Topsia, where local residents staged a demonstration to protest the flooding.


Calcutta, July 2: 
Police recovered the decomposed body of a 71-year-old man, D.L. Dasgupta, from Jadavpur on Monday night. The cops broke open the door of his house after neighbours complained of a foul odour emanating from it.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Dasgupta lived alone in the house on Anjuman Ara Road. “His wife and daughter had shifted to Bagha Jatin a few months earlier,’’ police said.

Neighbours said they last saw Dasgupta on a morning walk on Sunday near Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College, on Prince Anwar Shah Road.

Police suspect Dasgupta died of a heart attack but his body has been sent for post-mortem. Documents found in his room indicate that Dasgupta had retired from the Indian Air Force.

Guard suicide: A 25-year-old guard of a highrise in New Alipore, Dharma Shetty, hanged himself on Tuesday.


Calcutta, July 2: 
One fraud led to another, with the victim agreeing to another fraud till he realised that all along he had been taken for a ride. The police are now unravelling a con game and figuring out exactly how many people had been “trapped” by the tricksters. The object: no-objection certificates (NOC) for primary educational institutions in the city aspiring to become full fledged schools affiliated to state and Central boards.

The police on Tuesday got to the bottom of Blue Bell primary school case, with the arrest of two kingpins behind the racket. “This was an eye-opener for us,” said Sanjay Mukherjee, DC, eastern suburban division. “From them, we learnt how principals of primary schools fall prey to these cheats simply because they want no-objection certificates from the state education directorate quickly.”

The police now say that the Blue Bell school case is representative of what is happening in various other such institutions in the city.

About six months back, Ashok Sau, a small-time businessman, started a primary school in Ultadanga. With students in fair numbers joining his school, he became more ambitious and drew up plans to convert it into a secondary school.

This is where his problems began. He had applied for a no-objection certificate from the state education directorate, but it was taking long in arriving.

Behind the scenes, in the education department, a few unscrupulous people decided to cash in. Getting “insider information” on schools applying for the NOC, a clerk in the department, along with a few friends, hatched a plot to make a few quick bucks. The protagonists: Dilip Singh, education directorate clerk, and his friend, Rajesh Kumar, a tout. One day last month, Rajesh Kumar went to Sau’s office and offered to help him obtain the NOC. He explained that for an NOC to be issued, the school’s principal had to be a doctorate. This put Sau, a commerce graduate, in a spot. Kumar then suggested “a way out”. He told Sau that for a consideration, he could arrange for both: a doctorate degree as well as the NOC. The first would cost Rs 14,000, the second Rs 11,000. Sau agreed: within a few days, the money was handed over to Kumar.

Within a week, Kumar came back to the school, but this time accompanied by Singh, who was introduced as a school inspector. Singh took a round of the school, inspected the premises and told Sau that he would provide him first with the doctorate and, once the degree had been submitted to the directorate, the NOC.

On June 29, the ‘degree’ was handed over to Sau. It was an MBBS degree from the Institute of Alternative Medicine, which was also a fake. One look at the degree and Sau realised that he had been cheated. The complaint with the police followed, after which both Singh and Kumar were arrested. “We are sure others have been cheated similarly,” Mukherjee said.



Sports channel beam deadlock

The impasse over the switched-off sports channels, ESPN and STAR Sports, could not be resolved even on Tuesday despite sustained pressure from the state administration and the police top brass for an early settlement. RPG Netcom and SitiCable, the two service providers, met representatives of the Joint Action Committee of Cable Operators throughout the day to discuss ESPN Software India’s demand for increased connectivity. “We asked the operators to spell out their absolute stress capacity and they have agreed on a five to six per cent upward revision, which we have communicated to the broadcaster,” said a spokesperson on behalf of the two service providers. ESPN Software India, in a press release, accused the service providers of “not showing interest in resolving the problem”. The company, which had initially sought a “65 per cent raise” in numbers, will respond to the new offer by the service providers on Wednesday. With India’s next match in the NatWest triangular series slated for Thursday, both Writers’ and Lalbazar are keen on a “quick rapprochement”. Representatives of the two multi-system operators will meet top cops and bureaucrats on Wednesday to keep them abreast of the development.

Ansari in court on July 15

The chief judge of the city sessions court on Tuesday directed the city police to produce Aftab Ansari and the other accused in the American Center shootout case on July 15. The case was initiated in the court and the judge gave the formal go-ahead to start the trial. In the meantime, a Delhi Police team had come to interrogate Ansari in connection with other cases. The team met DC (DD) Soumen Mitra to collect the necessary documents.

Road mishap

An unidentified person, aged around 25, was killed in an accident near Ultadanga station on Tuesday morning. Police said a goods truck overturned and hit the man. He was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced brought dead. Trouble broke out soon after as traders from the local market tried to block the road. Police intervened and brought the situation under control.

Waqf case

The city police are looking for two more persons in connection with the waqf scandal. The deputy commissioner of police (detective department) Soumen Mitra, said that the names of the two fugitives cannot be revealed at present “for the sake of investigations”. So far, only one person, Hamimul Huda, has been arrested.

Three held

The Behala police arrested three criminals on the basis of a tip-off near Sarsuna on Monday night.

Talk on dams

The Centre for Development and Environment Policy (CDEP) at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) organised a day-long dialogue on dams and development on Tuesday. Attended by public policy-makers, academicians, environment activists and experts on dams and water resource management, the meet focused on the evolution of a comprehensive guidelines for decision-making on dams in India.

Biz plan contest

The finals of the second ‘Global Business Plan Competition: Ideas to Implementation’, organised by the Entrepreneurship Cell of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, will be held at the Oberoi Grand on July 6. Thumbs Up TO padma sarkar, a visually challenged inmate of the Liluah Home for Destitute Women, for clearing the Higher Secondary examinations    

Calcutta, July 2: 
In a business boost to tinsel town, city-based industry association Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has joined hands with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to “corporatise” Tollywood. At a recent meeting organised jointly by the two Chambers, the various stakeholders of the local film industry discussed their problems and the probable solutions.

From producers and distributors to directors and government officials, around 20 representatives from the local film and entertainment industry attended the meeting. The list included Biswajit Banerjee of ATN World, Jatin Sarkar, director, SRFTI, Soumendu Roy, cinematographer, Arijit Dutta of Priya cinema, Ravindra Agarwal, president, EIMPA, Nitindra Ganguly, deputy director, Nandan.

“Entertainment and film industry is a critical component of the service sector. We want to complement the state government’s endeavours in promoting the service sector by helping the growth of this industry. The potential here is enormous but it is plagued by a number of problems. We, along with FICCI, will try to help the industry in tackling some of the problems,” said Nazeeb Arif, secretary general, ICC.

According to estimates, Tollywood produces around 40 films annually with a paltry budget of Rs 30 crore and the state’s share in the Rs 15,000 crore entertainment industry is “minuscule”. Lack of financing options, poor infrastructure and absence of marketing skills have been cited as the main reasons for the poor performance of the local film industry.

The FICCI–ICC team proposes to address some of these by “raising awareness” among various stakeholders of the industry. “There are certain areas where the state government will have to take the lead. From our side, we would like to give the industry a forum. We would also help them learn the latest production techniques and financing and marketing of films by organising workshops with experts from various fields, ” said Siddhartha Dasgupta, in-charge of the FICCI entertainment committee.

The entertainment committee of the apex Chamber, headed by veteran director-producer Yash Chopra, has been trying to lend a corporate touch to the entertainment industry at the national level. Besides persuading the Union government to grant industry status to film-making, FICCI has conducted studies by Andersen Consulting, Amarchand Mangaldas and Rabo Financing to explore the potential of the entertainment industry, the legal issues surrounding it and financing options available to the industry.

“While the film industry down south is hardly facing any problems with regard to finance and production, Tollywood is in dire need of funds and modern production facilities. Though the state government gives subsidy for processing of films at Rupayan, most filmmakers go to south for post-production processing. Given the quality of content here, we expect availability of better facility here and more quality movies,” he added. “Recently, banks like IDBI and Bank of India have set up film funds, but it’s difficult for smaller productions to access these funds. So, we have started discussions with private sector investment bankers to extend financing opportunity to such ventures,” said Dasgupta.

The FICCI–ICC move has been welcomed by the local industry. “Despite the various sops given by the state government, the entertainment industry in the state has lagged behind other states. The move will at least help us in getting heard,” said Arijit Dutta of Priya cinema.


Calcutta, July 2: 
With more and more doctors being dragged to consumer courts and evidence emerging that many practising medics and fresh pass-outs are committing “elementary mistakes” while dealing with critical cases, it’s time to go back to the basics. A serious attempt is being made, for the first time in Calcutta and eastern India, to simulate the real thing while training doctors, interns, paramedics and medical students. The latest tech tool — Interactive Manikin.

The lifesize computer-programmed gadget, made of a special silicon rubber, has been fitted with all artificial internal body parts resembling the human organs. The organs are fitted with hi-tech sensors connected to a computer, enabling a doctor to try out various treatments under simulated conditions and check out the results on a computer screen. The Interactive Manikin has several key features like 2,500-plus variable cardiac rhythms, several advanced cardiac life-support system scenarios, over 4,000 rhythm simulators, accompanied with sounds of vomiting, moaning and spontaneous breathing to make it more real.

The gadget has been imported from Norway at a cost of Rs 5 lakh by the National Medical College Alumni Association (NMCAA), “to provide doctors and interns a chance to try out critical cases under simulated conditions, before they try a treatment procedure on a patient”. Said director of medical education Chittaranjan Maity: “The Manikin treatment will definitely help doctors try out difficult cases which can prove to be dangerous on a critical patient… The government will wait to see the response before deciding to introduce this facility in all medical colleges and hospitals in the state.”

The Manikin will equip doctors to treat patients suffering from cardiac arrest, electrocution, toxic gas inhalation, drowning, trauma and accidents. “The doctors and students will also be given hundreds of different critical-care cases to treat. Imagine a new doctor being asked to treat a patient who is choking on some foodstuff, resulting in no breathing or heartbeat. With further complications like lung obstruction and no blood flow to the brain, the patient has a slim chance of survival. But the Manikin gives the doctor a second chance to figure out exactly what to do in an emergency,” said Dilshad Kumra, director of Delhi Surgical and Dressings Pvt Ltd and supplier of the Manikin manufactured by the Norwegian company Laerdal.

Cardiologist Dr Subrata Maitra, who has had access to such hi-tech training under simulated conditions, said this facility should be made available in all hospitals. “This will definitely help doctors to make fewer mistakes. One must remember that practice makes a man perfect,” added R.R. Ghosh Roy, NMCAA organising secretary.


Calcutta, July 2: 
The son of a Pradesh Congress Committee secretary threatened the police when they went to arrest him on charges of molesting the 23-year-old relative of a state coordination committee leader.

The incident occurred late on Monday at Madhyamgram, in Barasat. Ramnandan Roy, 25, whose mother Mita Roy is also one of the councillors of Madhyamgram municipality, stormed a house in Bidhanpalli, where the girl (name withheld) lives with her parents around 10.30 pm.

“Ramnandan was drunk. There was no one in the girl’s family to obstruct his entry,” said an official at Madhyamgram Investigation Centre. “The girl’s bed-ridden father watched helplessly as the goon pounced on his daughter. He dragged her out of the bedroom and assaulted her. When the mother tried to intervene, Ramnandan threatened her with a kitchen knife.”

Hearing the din, neighbours rushed in and caught Ramnandan. They informed the local police, who took the culprit away. Later, the mother of the girl lodged an official complaint at the local police station.

The youth turned aggressive at the investigation centre. He threatened the force with dire consequences. “He was behaving like a mad man, spewing foul language. He refused to be grilled, warning us that he would get away with all this,” said an official, who later interrogated the culprit on Tuesday.

Rahul Srivastav, additional superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas, said: “We have booked Ramnandan under five sections, including molestation and attempt to murder. We are trying to find out where he got the kitchen knife. Officials are investigating his record.” The accused was produced in the court and remanded in police custody.

PCC member Mita Roy, when contacted on Tuesday, denied that her son had attempted to molest the girl. “Ramnandan was involved with the girl for a long time. On Monday, he went to seek her family’s consent to marry her. I think the police have framed my son under political pressure,” she said, adding: “Police are saying my son was drunk but they did not conduct a medical check-up. If he is guilty, then I have no objection to his being punished.”


Calcutta, July 2: 
The only court in the city that had stayed away from strikes as a mode of protest — the two units of the Calcutta District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum and the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission — struck work on Tuesday. Consumers and their lawyers refused to attend court to protest the government’s decision to relocate the premises.

The two units of the city forum are being shifted to Brabourne Road and Lindsay Street, according to a government order issued last month. But the State Commission is going to function from Bhabani Bhavan, as in the past.

Consumers, arguing that the shift does not help their cause, came to Bhabani Bhavan on Tuesday, but decided not to appear in court.

Jayanta Ganguly, who had come from Sonarpur, fighting cases against a furniture-seller in one unit and a jeweller in another, said it would not have been possible for him to attend both the cases if the “illogical” government order had been implemented by now.

Alok Pal of Howrah, fighting a case against CESC, rubbished the order. “My lawyer has told me he will not be able to represent me if the court is shifted to Brabourne Road,” he said.

Lawyers and consumers said they would not attend court on Wednesday as well.


Calcutta, July 2: 
Half the battle is won, the other half is still being fought.

For Purabi Mukherjee, headmistress of Belghoria Jatin Das Vidyamandir for Girls, who was hounded out of her school by her colleagues, a favourable court order on Tuesday marked the half-way mark in her “fight for justice”.

Hours after receiving a Calcutta High Court order that, by implication, condemned her colleagues for making false allegations against her and asked them to bear her legal expenses, Mukherjee told Metro: “I have waited for the past 30 months to get my name cleared… I still cannot return to my own school, enter my own office or teach my own students, as I am haunted by what happened two years ago.”

She recounted the horrors of April 20, two years ago, when she was beaten up by local goons after being accused of “misappropriation of funds” by a section of teachers and warned not to enter the school premises.

Mukherjee filed the case alleging that, despite earlier court rulings directing that she be allowed to attend school, she was being threatened “with a repeat of the thrashing” if she dared go near the school campus.

Tuesday’s high court ruling was based on an audit report filed by Ashish Mukherjee, appointed by the North 24-Parganas District School Council.

The judge observed that no defalcation of funds had taken place and the headmistress had done the right thing by diverting the entire amount collected from local residents towards the development of a school building, and not donating a portion of it to the party fund, despite pressure from a section of teachers and local CPM leaders.

The court also directed the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education to remove the current administrator of the school.

Purabi Mukherjee, Justice Barin Ghosh decreed on Tuesday, must be paid Rs 2,000 as legal expenses by her colleagues.

Thirty-four of them had accused her of defalcation of funds and, according to local police investigations, had also plotted the assault on her.

The teachers were “angry” with the headmistress as she had pipped “the wife of a very influential North 24-Parganas district CPM secretariat member” to the post, admitted a senior Belghoria (East) CPM local committee member.

Mukherjee also earned the ire of some of her colleagues as she was “the first headmistress who tried to instil some amount of discipline among the staff”, added local councillor and Kamarhati municipality vice-chairman Prabir Mitra.

A section of the local CPM leaders admitted that Mukherjee had refused to “entertain requests” for donating a part of the local collections to the party fund or ordering stone chips, cement and other building material from a particular set of promoters backed by the party.

Without a salary for the past two-and-a-half years, Purabi Mukherjee is now pinning all her hopes on the court.

“I am waiting for the day the court decides on my contempt suit against my colleagues,” she concluded.


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