GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha to take up tribal points after talks – systematically and thoroughly ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Aug. 16: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is waiting for tomorrow’s tripartite meeting to be over for a threadbare discussion on the seven conditions set by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad to extend support to the hill party.
As a seven-member team led by Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri flew to Delhi from Bagdogra this afternoon, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the party, said: “As we have said earlier, discussion among our party top brass is necessary on some of the demands of the Parishad. We are yet to hold the discussion and will approach the Parishad, preferably after our delegation returns from Delhi. Since there might be some developments during the talks with the central and state governments, it is better that we take a stand on the Parishad’s letter after the Delhi meeting.”
The Dooars and Terai regional unit of the Parishad had expressed a desire to work closely with the Morcha provided the seven conditions were accepted. Except for one condition that all Gorkha communities should not be included in the Scheduled Tribe list, others are likely to be accepted by the Morcha.
“In tomorrow’s meeting, our delegates will definitely mention the issue of the tribal populace and their expression of support to us, obviously on the basis of certain demands and conditions, along with other issues,” said Chhetri.
“We feel the issue of territory needs to be discussed at length. At tomorrow’s meeting, the delegates will focus on powers to be conferred on the interim authority, the departments to be handed over and some other basic issues.”
In that case, Morcha insiders said, the territory issue was likely to take a backseat tomorrow and that was why no representative from the Parishad had been included in the delegation.
Earlier, there was speculation that Parishad leaders would be accompanying the Morcha team to Delhi to prove that the tribals wanted the Dooars and the Terai to be included in the interim set-up.
On eve of talks, top GJM man held for Tamang killing – timing that Bengal exposes or disposes for political advantage ?!!
From The Financial Express
By Subrata Nagchoudhury
Kolkata, Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010 at 2218 hrs IST: Nicole Tamang, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) central committee member and a key accused in the murder of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) president Madan Tamang, was arrested on Sunday night from a hideout in Bijonbari in Darjeeling.
The arrest comes ahead of the tripartite meeting in Delhi on Tuesday between the Centre, West Bengal government and the GJM. The killing of Tamang on May 21 is being investigated by the West Bengal CID.
Nicole’s arrest has embarrassed the GJM, which was hoping to bargain for a settlement at the talks, seeking an interim council.
Benoy Tamang, one of the GJM spokespersons, said: “Yes, Nicole has been arrested. He is one of our central committee members. If the police have evidence against him, well and good. But we think it is a fabricated case to weaken the movement for Gorkhaland. We do not wish to say anything more on this.”
According to Benoy Tamang, the GJM delegation at the talks will be led by Roshan Giri, its general secretary—incidentally, Giri is one of the accused in the Madan Tamang case and his phone conversation forms part of police intercepts for the probe. West Bengal home secretary Samar Ghosh and Union home secretary GK Pillai will be attending the talks.
The police intercepted phone conversations between Nicole Tamang and other senior GJM leaders on the day Madan Tamang was killed. The ABGL chief was to address a public rally in Darjeeling town on May 21 morning but the GJM was against it.
GJM cadres assembled near the venue of the Tamang rally and there were detailed instructions over phone from GJM leaders not to let Tamang hold the rally. According to police, telephone intercepts recorded one of the GJM cadres saying “Madan Tamang has been assaulted… one of our men has done it.”
Stike called in Siliguri by CPM sponsored anti-Gorkha groups – no communal repercussions anytime in the future ?!!
By our Special News Correspondent
Siliguri, Aug 17, 2010: Anti-Gorkha, CPM sponsored groups such as Amra Bangali and Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Samity (Bobbbc) have called for a 24-hour Siliguri bandh to protest against the Tripartite Talks on the Gorkhaland issue being held in New Delhi on August 17, 2010, today.
Meanwhile, a 7 member team to be led by GJM Secretary Roshan Giri already left for Delhi on August 16, 2010. The team members, mainly from the study forum on the Gorkhaland Issue from Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars as well as the Gorkha Ex Indian Army Servicemen’s Association consist of Trilok Dewan, L.B Pariyar, S.B Pradhan, Mesh Acharya and Ratan Thapa. Rtd Col Ramesh Alley will be representing the Indian Army Gorkha Ex Servicemen’s Association.
Doctors shut health unit for 72 hours – Medical staff flee centre after assault by villagers – Dooars mob on lynch mode ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
Raiganj\Islampur, Aug. 16: Doctors and nurses of a block primary health centre in Goalpokhor that treats about 100 patients a day have kept the facility closed since Friday after they were allegedly beaten up by villagers.
The violence took place when the doctors of the 30-bedded Lodhon primary health centre referred two patients to the subdivisional hospital. A police picket has been posted at the health centre. Subdivisional officer of Islampur Partho Ghosh said the facility would reopen tomorrow.
Chief medical officer of health of North Dinajpur Parthasarathi Bhattacharjee condemned the “growing tendency” to beat up hospital staff on slightest pretext.
“But the closure of a health centre without any notice also cannot be supported. I have requested the subdivisional officer to ensure the safety and security of the medical staff,” Bhattacharjee said.
Himanshu Mahato, the medical officer of the health centre, said two youths injured in an accident were brought to the facility on Friday night.
“After preliminary treatment, we had referred them to the Islampur subdivisional hospital because of its better infrastructure,” Mahato said. But the decision had angered the relatives of the patients who assaulted the medical staff of the unit.
Mahato said the mob threatened them to return with more villagers to teach them “a lesson”. “Without taking any chances, we temporarily discharged the small number of patients admitted to the health centre, locked the building and fled to safety.”
The medical officer said a complaint was lodged with Goalpokhor police station the next day demanding security for the health staff.
The closure of the health centre for over 72 hours had created problems for the local people. Mohammed Asraful, a youth, alleged that his father had fallen ill on Saturday evening and had to be taken to Islampur, 50km away, in a hired car.
SDO Partho Ghosh said a round-the-clock police picket had been posted at the health centre since this morning. “The health centre will reopen tomorrow.”
Ghosh said he had started an inquiry into the charges of the doctors and the staff of the health centre.
The Indian Medical Association and the West Bengal Doctors’ Health Service Association today brought out a procession in Islampur. Both the bodies submitted a memorandum to the SDO demanding arrest of those who had assaulted the doctors and nurses at the health centre.
The doctors in Islampur also closed their private chambers and wore black badges to condemn the assault.
Congress sabhadhipati of the zilla parishad Moqtar Ali Sardar said he had asked the SDO to take action against the doctors and other staff for closing the health centre for more than 72 hours without informing the higher authorities.
CPM asks for early hill polls – the electoral ruse to gain sympathy ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Aug. 16: The Darjeeling district CPM today demanded immediate elections to the civic bodies and the panchayats in the hills which would be a step towards restoring democracy in the region.
“Considering the present state of affairs in the hills, we believe that conducting elections to the two-tier panchayats or the four municipalities (Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik) in the three hill subdivisions is essential to restore democracy. We will raise the demand before the state government as well as appeal to all other political parties to support it,” said Asok Bhattacharya, the district CPM leader at a media conference.
“Several other political parties and organisations are claiming that democracy should be restored and peace should be the first priority in the hills. We agree with them and considering the fact that the elections are long due, we, too, have the same demand,” he said.
Bhattacharya, also the state urban development minister, said the panchayats elections in the hills were due since 2007, while the municipal polls were last held in 2004.
On the bureaucratic-level talks scheduled to be held with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Delhi tomorrow, the CPM leader said the Centre should also invite other parties from the region to know their opinions on the statehood demand as had been done by the Bengal government earlier this month. “Whenever the demand for a separate state is raised, we are the only party to protest. Despite enjoying so-called huge support in the state, the Trinamul Congress, Congress or other parties have never been vocal on the issue.”
Workshop for civic bodies – garnering consensus long lost with no austerity now ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Aug. 16: The municipal affairs department has started conducting workshops for civic bodies across the state to provide better services in urban areas. One such workshop was held at a tourist lodge here today.
“The total population of the state is 2.25 crore which is expected to be around 3.66 crore by 2026,” said municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya. “To ensure that the civic bodies do not succumb to this pressure and continue to improve services, we have decided to conduct the workshops.”
Siliguri mayor Gangotri Datta, who attended the workshop, said: “We welcome the holding of workshops for better service. But keeping the present situation in mind it is necessary to execute pending projects on housing, roads, drinking water and development of slums.”
Bagdogra Air Traffic Goes Up… But growth eludes ground – natural mismanagement without overall picture ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Aug. 16: Bengal government’s lackadaisical attitude to land acquirement is impeding the development of Bagdogra Airport that is witnessing rapid growth in passenger traffic and cargo movement, says the Airports Authority of India.
“We have witnessed a substantial rise in air traffic in Bagdogra with around 62 flights operating every week. Keeping this in mind, the AAI is in the process of upgrading the infrastructure at the airport by introducing the ILS (Instrumental Landing System) for planes to land at night and during inclement weathers,” said Praveen Seth, the member (operations) of the AAI.
He also said a master plan had been approved by the AAI to develop an integrated building wherein both international and domestic flights would arrive and depart.
“All ancillary facilities needed for a modern airport will also be there. However, despite several correspondences, we are yet to get the necessary land from the government,” said the official.
Seth was at the airport on Saturday to inaugurate a new administrative building. The three-storied structure was constructed with Rs 2.21 crore and has a carpet area of 1,807sqm. It has an elevator as well as a fire protection mechanism.
People of north Bengal and Sikkim have been demanding for long that international status be conferred on the Bagdogra Airport. Although the state government raised the demand many times, the AAI is yet to get hold of the land needed for the modernisation of the airport.
According to the AAI, 12 acres of land are needed to increase the length of the runway and to introduce the ILS, while another 23 acres are required to implement the master plan.
“As the airport is a civil enclave (located inside an Indian Air Force base), we have obtained a no-objection certificate from the air force about a year back to improve the infrastructure. A portion of the land was also acquired. But it is the responsibility of the state government to provide the additional land,” said an airport official.
“We have witnessed a 25 per cent increase in the number of passengers and 37 per cent rise in cargo movement (see chart). If the trend continues and we cannot put in place additional facilities, the airport will be choked by passengers in the coming years, as the terminal is crowded even now in case of a delay in one flight,” said the official.
The total area of the terminal is only 6,600sqft, with 3,690sqft on the ground floor and 2,910sqft on the first floor.
The new building caters for some needs of the passengers
“We are setting up 22 new stalls at the terminal. My office was earlier on the first floor of the terminal and it has now been shifted to the new building opened on Saturday. The vacant space will now be used for commercial purposes,” said K.K. Bhowmik, the airport director of Bagdogra.
The building has also a conference hall and three rest rooms for VIPs and common passengers. Offices of employees associated with operation of flights are also located there. Bhowmik said charges for the rest rooms were yet to be fixed.
Surendra Gupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, said the government had started the process of acquiring land for the airport.
“We are aware that the air force has already granted NOC to the AAI. On our part, we are in the process of acquiring the land but it would take some time as there are certain factors,” he said.
State hikes subsidy on diesel – and empties its coffers ?!!
A STAFF REPORTER
Calcutta, Aug. 16: The state government today doubled the subsidy on diesel for bus, minibus and taxi operators to Rs 2 per litre and lifted the cap on the total subsidy offered to each operator in a bid to avoid a fare hike.
For a taxi, up to 20 litres of diesel was being subsidised per day. The limit for buses and minibuses was 50 litres.
Now, the subsidy will be available on whatever quantity of diesel the vehicles consume, provided the operators can produce the bill.
At the end of each month, Rs 2 will be deposited in the bank accounts of the transport operators for each litre of diesel they buy.
After the state government had announced the Re 1 per litre subsidy in July, transport operators threatened a strike demanding a fare hike.
The three-day strike planned from August 10 to 12 to press for higher fares or more subsidy was deferred in the first week of the month.
“We have done everything to accommodate the demands of the transport operators. Now, the Centre must also do something to reduce their burden,” said state finance minister Asim Dasgupta today.
“After this, there cannot be a demand for a fare hike. We have done everything we can,” transport minister Ranjit Kundu said.
According to Dasgupta, the state government had decided to forego Rs 100 crore of sales tax income annually to offer the first subsidy. The government would have to shell out Rs 100 crore from its coffers to pay the enhanced subsidy.
The transport minister will meet the transport operators at Writers’ Buildings on Wednesday afternoon.
Sources in the operators’ lobby said a strike was unlikely now. “Most of us did not want to go on a 72-hour strike in the first place. Now there is little reason for one,” said a leader of bus operators.
Trinamul Congress MLA and a leader of transport operators, Swarnakamal Saha, said they were satisfied with the government’s “gesture”and “method” but would still try and negotiate for a higher subsidy.