Bengali to English

Bengali to English – where vanity & hegemony had its kickbacks, much to the advantage for the Darjeeling Gorkhas ?!!


Good Morning ... all !!



The Left Front policy of banning English from primary school boomeranged to produce young Bengalis with little Bengali, says Anasuya Basu

My daughter has read all of Maugham and Hardy already. She is an avid reader of English literature and tops her class in the subject,” boasts a mother of a 12-year-old. Then she adds with an indulgent smile: “But I just can’t get her to read Bangla books.”

The lady in question was speaking recently, but middle class and upper middle class Bengali mothers, and fathers, have been making this statement for decades now. It increased in frequency after the Left Front government banned English from junior school in 1982.

Bengali is steadily losing ground to English. A generation of Bengalis from Calcutta, sent to English-medium schools following the government decision, has grown up without much Bengali. Much less Bengali, at least, than the English-medium educated Bengalis of previous generations possessed. It is not uncommon for someone from this generation to call a Kumartuli idol-maker “mritoshilpi” instead of “mritshilpi”, though the former would mean a dead artiste and the latter someone who makes clay idols.

Later generations are following suit. It will be interesting to survey how many young Bengalis going to English-medium schools know the Bengali alphabet well.

How many English-speaking Bengalis today read Bengali books? “I cannot read Bengali at the same speed I do English,” says 27-year-old Kaberi Das, a content writer. She has studied in an ICSE school. “If I had to read a Bengali novel I would read it in the original but it would take a long time,” she confesses. She is used to reading English newspapers and magazines and her Bengali “is just out of practice”.

Many read Satyajit Ray’s Feluda series in English translation. The vast repository of Bengali literature is out of bounds for many of this generation.

And sometimes, the entire Bengali family converts to English. At a sabeki Durga puja this year in a north Calcutta household, a sabeki lunch of khichudibegunilabdaluchi,phoolkopir torkari and chatni was served by women from the family in sabeki wear, but in English. “Can I serve you one more luchi? A little more torkari?” a lady wearing a red-bordered taant the traditional way kept entreating.

School shutdown

That Bengali will be replaced by English to some extent is expected. “The Bengali language is being cornered by English,” agrees poet and teacher Sankha Ghosh. This is somewhat inevitable in the age of globalisation. Adds Ghosh: “The same trend can be observed in Bangladesh, where Bengali is the official language.”

But for Bengal, Ghosh also blames the policy of banning English from classes I-V for the current predicament. At that time scholars like Nihar Ranjan Ray, Sukumar Sen and Pramathanath Bishi had voiced their protest.

Soon Bengali-medium schools saw a dip in enrolment as there was a scramble for English-medium schools because of the Left Front policy. “Bengali-medium schools witnessed a 50 per cent dip in enrolment, about 250 Bengali-medium schools shut down in Calcutta in a hurry. Till date 2,500 Bengali-medium schools in the state have closed because of low enrolment,” says Kartik Saha of West Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association, an SUCI-affiliated primary teachers’ body.

Consequently, the standard of teaching Bengali started to decline, feels Ghosh. In the English-medium schools, where Bengali mostly enjoyed second-language status, the importance of the vernacular seemed to lessen as the stress on learning English became greater. Parents wanted to keep up with the times and see that their children had the advantage of English.

Teachers contradict this. Says Devi Kar of Modern High School: “We have been under the West Bengal board till recently and Bengali has always been taught with a lot of care here. Even after switching to ICSE, we put a lot of stress on the vernacular languages and encourage children to use them.” Attributing the declining standards to the common perception that Bengali was a “useless language”, Ghosh says: “Bengali was not a language that would come into much use. So what was the point of teaching it well?”

Bengal was always in favour of learning English and following its example. Writer Nirendranath Chakraborty points out how English had started influencing written Bengali even before Independence. “Way back in 1946, a Bengali newspaper wrote ‘Swadhinata ekhon koromordan durotte’ . That is a poor Bengali transliteration of ‘Independence is just a handshake away’. The correct expression should have been ‘swadhinata ekhon nagaler moddhe’.” Chakraborty speaks of another Bengali report that used the word “kumirasru”, a literal translation of “crocodile tears”. “The correct usage is ‘maya kanna’,” he adds.

But from the Eighties there was no stopping the takeover by English. Ironically, erstwhile education minister Kanti Biswas points out that the state government’s English ban, based on the recommendations of the Himangshu Bimal Mazumdar committee constituted during the Congress government in 1975, was “in the interest of the young minds for whom the study of two languages simultaneously would be unscientific and tortuous.” A number of committees had been formed since Independence to formulate English language studies in the state. “Starting from the Harendranath Choudhury commission in 1948 to the Ashok Mitra commission in 1991, all had recommended that the study of English should not start before Class VI. Even a Unesco report says the medium of instruction for primary teaching should be the mother tongue,” says Biswas.

The same Left Front government turned its own decision on its head in 1999 on the recommendation of the Pabitra Sarkar commission and started teaching English from Class I. Today, the government has even started opening English-medium primary schools of its own, says Biswas. “It was for the sake of globalisation and the age of computerisation so that our children could retain the competitive edge,” he says.

In the intervening years, students got away without learning Bengali. Since there is no enactment by the government making it compulsory to study Bengali, students in ICSE and CBSE schools can choose not to study Bengali at all.

Low on the ladder

Bengali was socially downgraded. A hierarchy of languages grew in the state where English was established as the language of power and Bengali, a “subaltern” language.

The story is different in the villages. Bengali still survives and survives well beyond the urban precincts, in the mofussils and villages. Says Pabitra Sarkar, the erstwhile vice-chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University: “The English bias pertains to a very narrow segment of society, the upper middle class, which can afford to go to English-medium schools. Only 15 per cent of the schools in the state are English-medium,” he says.

The real story, Sarkar believes, lies with the vernacular media. “Look how Bengali channels are proliferating, there are more of Bengali newspapers. The channels are being viewed internationally.”

And the NRIs are doing their bit to preserve the language. There are 13 Bengali magazines that are published from New York. Australia and Toronto, too, have a fair share of Bengali papers. Ghosh feels this was a result of identity crisis among the NRIs. “The Banga Sanskriti Sammelan and such things are attempts to cling to their roots. They are caught in a dilemma, not belonging there and also not belonging here,” says Ghosh.

He concurs with Sarkar that Bengali is thriving outside the city. But it goes on to justify his view of the urban-rural divide in the language practice. He recalls an incident in the city that shows how Bengali is viewed in the city.

“I was at a bookshop in front of Lighthouse. There were two youngsters browsing books. They conversed in English between themselves but when they turned to the bookseller, they switched to Bengali,” recalls Ghosh. It was another thing that the bookseller was not a Bengali.

Even in social dos, Bengali and Bangaliana seem to lose out to English. Wedding venues proclaiming the marriage of a Bengali groom and bride are written in English rather than Bengali. So is born the legend Chandrani weds Santanu. “Why can’t we have Laboni Akhil er biye at least at a biye badi,” asks Ghosh. “Look at the road signs and directions in the city. They are in English. The other day I found the police hauling up two very poor citizens for not following the directions in English,” he adds.

“There is no contradiction in learning both English and Bengali. Why does one have to learn one language at the cost of the other?” asks Nirendranath Chakraborty.

Bengal is unlike places that grow on the strength of their own language. Countries like Japan, China, France and Germany have been able to progress without the help of English, but it is the legacy of colonialism that has stood in the way of Bengalis respecting themselves.

Bengal is unlike some other Indian states as well. In Tamil Nadu, English and Tamil are both compulsory in schools. In Maharashtra all schools must teach both Marathi and English. But Bengal does not have a dual language policy. “When we asked the government to make it mandatory to learn Bengali as second language in these schools, the government couldn’t succeed in implementing it,” says Ghosh.

As Ghosh says in one his poems: “Banglae ek Kolkata achhe bote, she Kolkatae Bangla kothao nei”. Roughly translated, it means there’s a certain Calcutta in Bengal, but in that Calcutta there’s hardly any Bengali (the language).


MADAN TAMANG MURDER INVESTIGATION: Attach drive to stall CBI handover

MADAN TAMANG MURDER INVESTIGATION: Attach drive to stall CBI handover – but heaven’s sakes, Why ?!! when all the injured parties are demanding it ?!! will lead to CPM involvement as always suspected ?!!


Mother and wife (front row) of Nicole Tamang at Sadar Police station (Rabin Rai, DT) - how much more harassment will an obdurate Bengal bring down to bare upon the innocent victims ?!!



Darjeeling, Oct. 22: The promptness shown by Darjeeling police to attach the properties of absconders in the Madan Tamang murder case is a move to pre-empt a directive from Calcutta High Court to transfer the investigation to the CBI, lawyers and opposition parties said here today.

The CID, a state agency, is now handling the case.

The drive to attach the properties of absconders began yesterday with police swooping down on the homes of three accused in the Tamang murder case, attaching their trunks full of clothes and some chairs.

Today, too, the drive continued with the police attaching the personal belongings, including television sets, of Kismat Chhetri, the president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s student union, and Kesar Rai, a former commissioner from Ward 30 in Darjeeling.

According to the ABGL, the party had filed a writ petition in the high court praying that the Tamang murder case be handed over to the CBI since the state police were dragging its feet in cracking down on the killers. It had also asked the court to ensure that till such time that this was done it should monitor the progress made by the state police in the case.

In response, the court had directed the state police to produce before it a status report, within four weeks of the court reopening after the Puja vacation, on the progress it had made in tracking down Tamang’s killers.

A couple of days ago, Samar Kumar Bose, the lawyer representing the ABGL in the high court, sent letters to all the respondents to the case, including the state home secretary, the director-general of police and the additional director-general of police (CID), the investigating officer (CID) and the Darjeeling superintendent of police, telling them that the deadline for submitting the “status report” was drawing near.

“This was the wake-up call for the state police, especially with the court set to reopen soon,” said a prominent Darjeeling lawyer. “To me it is clear that the police have suddenly been stirred into action to show the court that they are taking all possible steps to crack the case and arrest the culprits so that the court does not direct the CBI to take over the case.”

According to Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL, it appears that that the police have swung into action so that they can tell the court that they are not “sitting on the case”.

“They can then argue that the CID is properly handling the case.” Sherpa said the ABGL’s decision to file the writ petition in the high court was beginning to have the “desired effect”.

“Even if they are attaching the trunks and clothes of the absconders, at least the legal process is being taken forward.”

WILDLIFE: Tag without safety

WILDLIFE: Tag without safety – now will the situation change with a National trumpet call ?!!


Danger still for jumbo on tracks (TT) - raising the national awareness ?!!



Siliguri, Oct. 22: The Union government today declared the elephant the National Heritage Animal of India, exactly a month after seven of the animals were mowed down by a train in the Dooars.

However, not much has been done to protect elephants from speeding trains on tracks in Dooars forests.

“It is strange that till date, no perceptible initiative has been noticed on the part of the state forest department, the Union ministry of environment and forests and the railways to stop elephants from being hit by trains in north Bengal,” said Animesh Bose, a member of the state board for wildlife.

“A month has passed since the deaths of the seven elephants and even Union minister Jairam Ramesh has visited the site. But the animal is vulnerable to accidents even today.”

The seven elephants, including a calf, were mowed down by a Guwahati-bound goods train near Moraghat level-crossing, 79km from Alipurduar, around 11pm on September 22. It was the highest single-day death toll of elephants in recent memory.

The 160km-long Alipurduar Town-Siliguri Junction tracks turned into a grave for elephants ever since the line’s conversion into broad gauge in 2004. Excluding the September 22 incident, 19 elephants have been run over by trains in the Dooars since 2004.

The elephant was given the tag on the recommendation of the Elephant Task Force which had been entrusted by the Union environment and forest ministry to survey the status of the animal, its habitats and threats to the species. The task force submitted a report on its findings to the ministry on August 10.

Following the September 22 incident, Ramesh visited north Bengal and suggested measures like the erection of watchtowers along railway lines to keep track on elephant movement.

Asked about the progress in the implementation of the measures, Kalyan Das, the divisional forest officer (Jalpaiguri division), said: “We do not have information on any initiative for the safety of elephants in the Dooars. We have identified locations where watch towers could be set up, taking into account probable time of elephants’ crossing of a particular stretch everyday.”

Too many tigers leads to death of 1 – time for expansion of Tiger Lands ?!!


Tiger crossing a path at Ranthambore National Park - a rare sight indeed ?!!



Jaipur, Oct. 22: A male tiger was today found dead in Ranthambore National Park after a territorial fight with another, prompting wildlife officials to complain that the core area of the reserve is too small to hold 34 adult tigers.

The three-year-old T-36, which wore a radio collar, was found dead two days after wildlife officials lost its signal.

Ranthambore’s deputy forest conservator R.S. Shekhawat said the tiger was believed to be fighting for territory with another three-year-old male, T-42, for the past few days. “Today we found T-36 with a broken neck and severely bruised body. Perhaps he had died two days back,” he said.

Shekhawat said the dead tiger’s mother was killed in a territorial fight in September 2008. T-36 was then released in the area with a radio collar to keep constant track of his movements.

Wildlife observers say the 274.5sqkm core area is not large enough for 34 tigers. Because of overcrowding, the tigers either fight it out among themselves or stray out of the park. In 1973, when Project Tiger began, there were six to eight big cats in Ranthambore.

Rajpal Singh, a tiger expert and member of the state government’s Empowered Committee for Wildlife and Forests, said there is a dominance of male tigers in the park. He added that the core area is only capable of holding 20 to 22 tigers. If the Sawai Mansingh sanctuary to the park’s southwest and Kailadevi sanctuary to its north are included, there would be space for 30 to 32 tigers, Singh said.

Earlier, the forest corridors stretching into the sanctuaries provided the tigers shelter even if they strayed out of the core area. But now with the forest depleted, they become easy prey for hunters. Besides, the prey base is minimal in Kailadevi and with lot of human interference because of villages in the area, tigers are not able to stay put there.

Singh says there is an urgent need to increase the prey base in the buffer region and extend the core area of the park, which has 34 tigers left after five were moved to Sariska.

Many tigers have strayed out of the park to form their own territories. At present, at least three are out of the park but their movements can be tracked by their radio collars.

At least 1.5 lakh tourists visit the park annually, earning it Rs 60 crore in revenue. The park permits 15 jeeps and 20 canters at a time, accommodating 460-475 visitors during one safari, leading to considerable vehicular pollution.

There are more than 50 hotels around Ranthambore, which are almost fully booked in the October to February peak season.

To add to the chaos, there is the Katy Perry-Russell Brand wedding at a luxury resort on the edge of Ranthambore tomorrow. With the American singer and her British comedian fiancé opting for a big fat Indian wedding with elephants, camels, horses and singing and dancing, the animals will bear the brunt.

EDUCATION: Panel push on medical education

EDUCATION: Panel push on medical education – innovation & excellence against the grain of the obdurate Indian mindset ?!!


New Delhi, Oct. 22: A task force set up by the human resource development ministry has suggested bringing medical education within the ambit of an overarching higher education commission.

Disregarding opposition from the health ministry, the task force has drawn up a draft bill for creation of a National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) that would “holistically” look after higher education. It has also suggested that legal education be brought under the commission’s ambit but the Bar Council of India (BCI) has opposed it.

The task force has, however, said that agriculture education should remain outside the NCHER purview as agriculture is a state subject and bringing it under the commission would require a constitutional amendment.

“We have finalised the draft NCHER bill. We have stuck to our stand that legal education and all branches of medical education should be brought within the NCHER ambit. Agriculture education should be kept out of NCHER as it is a state subject,” a member of the task force said.

The task force members included professors Mrinal Miri, M. Anandakrishnan, Goverdhan Mehta and N.R. Madhava Menon.

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and secretary Sujatha Rao have opposed the HRD ministry’s proposal. They have decided to set up a National Council for Human Resource in Health (NCHRH), which would regulate all branches of medical education, including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and physiotherapy.

The health ministry has already prepared a draft NCHRH bill, which has been sent to different ministries for consultation.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal has said the draft NCHER bill will be discussed with all “stake holders” before it is finalised. The draft bill will be sent for inter-ministerial consultation before it is taken to the cabinet. If the cabinet clears it, the bill will be introduced in Parliament.

The BCI, which regulates legal education, has opposed the task force’s suggestion and boycotted one of its consultation sessions.

“We have prepared the bill as per the recommendations of a committee on higher education under professor Yashpal. The committee had said that all branches of higher education should be brought under one overarching body,” the task force member said.

The basic objective of the NCHER is to give autonomy to universities to innovate and experiment. Bringing all types of education under one body will break barriers between different branches of education and promote excellence, the member said.


TOURISM: Spots that ache for attraction

TOURISM: Spots that ache for attraction – only to be short-circuited by bad roads, infrastructure and  poor promotion by a smug Bengal ?!!


How to get there - if one is willing to risk it ?!!



Islampur, Oct. 22: Century-old mosques, palaces, houses of zamindars, temples, forests, tea estates and water bodies — these are some key attractions in North Dinajpur district, although only the Kulik Bird Sanctuary can be spotted on the state tourism map now.

“A number of historical, religious and picturesque places are spread across the district but unfortunately, the district administration has taken no initiative to develop these areas as tourism destinations and to ensure amenities for visitors,” said Brindaban Ghosh, a historian.

“The district is neglected by the state tourism department as well. Never in my life have I heard of the department doing something to exploit the tourism potential of these sites and thereby create employment opportunities.”

According to Ghosh, a number of historical sites are in ruins because of lack of maintenance.

Islampur subdivision is blessed with two forests — one at Haptiagach in Chopra block with the Mahananda and the Teesta flowing on either side and the other at Sapnikola in Ramganj with a sprawling lake.

“Both these sites can be developed. Facilities like boating and angling can be arranged in the water bodies and people can spend a good time,” said a resident. “The Sapnikola forest is located only 6km from NH31 and felling of trees has become rampant there because of the nonchalant attitude of the authorities.”

The district has also on offer places of worship for people interested in religious tourism. Among them are Sonakhoda mosque in Islampur built during the Mughal regime, and Bhairavi and Vishnu temples located at Bindol near Raiganj and at Karandighi. “There are age old temples on the islands in Karandighi and Hosendighi lakes and in the Nagar river,” said Ghosh.

All these religious sites have worn away because of lack of maintenance. Age old palace, villas of zamindars (land lords) and bungalows of British indigo farm owners are no exception.

The house of the Choudhury family of Islampur is in a dire state and walls of the palace of Bhupal Chandra Roy, the erstwhile king of Churaman in Itahar constructed during the British era, are collapsing one after another. A British era bungalow at Karandighi has turned into rubble.

“For the descendants, it is not possible to repair and renovate these huge buildings. So, we have requested the National Heritage Commission to take over the properties for their maintenance,” said former MLA Abdul Karim Choudhury, a member of the Choudhury family of Islampur.

Most of the sites are located in rural areas, away from Raiganj and Islampur towns.

People want the state tourism department to launch a campaign to popularise the spots. They also want pictures of these places and allied information to be exhibited in public places like bus stands and railway stations to let more people know about the attractions in North Dinajpur..

“Recently, a number of tea estates have come up in the Islampur subdivision in serene and picturesque locations. The district administration, in association with tea companies, can promote residential stay in the gardens,” said Partha Sen, a former principal of Islampur College.

“The historical places and forests can definitely attract tourists but what we need is renovation of these properties and infrastructure development before embarking on an aggressive campaign. The administration has a key role to play here,” said Joynarayan Somani, the secretary of the North Dinajpur Merchant Chamber of Commerce.

“The district administration, on its part, has held talks with the Archaeological Survey of India. Now, we plan to take up the matter with the state tourism department,” said Sunil Dandapat, the district magistrate.

HEALTH WATCH: Salt spoils tea belt heart

HEALTH WATCH: Salt spoils tea belt heart – negating the benefits of tea ?!!


Watch what you drink (TT) - and smoke ?!!



Jorhat, Oct. 22: Poor diet, tobacco usage and high salt intake — usually mixed in tea instead of sugar — have resulted in a significant rise in strokes and cardio-vascular diseases among the tea garden population in Dibrugarh district.

A study conducted by Tullika Goswami Mahanta, associate professor of community medicine, Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh, said the tea community people in the district, on an average, take four times more than the prescribed level of salt. Nearly 75 per cent of them, irrespective of gender, use tobacco in some form or the other, and hypertension prevails among 33 per cent of the population.

She said the research was conducted after she found a large number of patients belonging to the tea community taking admission to the Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh, with hypertension and heart disease.

“The World Health Organisation recommends that the daily salt intake of a person should be 5gm. But it was found that among the tea community, 20gm of salt was being consumed per person. The high salt consumption is also because of the fact that the workers usually drink two to three mugs of tea into which salt is added before setting off for work. Their breakfast also mostly comprises rice to which salt and pickles have been mixed,” the doctor said.

“Likewise, 75 per cent of the sample population surveyed took tobacco mostly in the leaf form (khaini) and through other means like paan masala, besides cigarette and bidis,” she said.

She said 33 per cent of the sample tea community population surveyed suffered from hypertension, while the figure was 27 per cent among the rural population — both of which were high. In other states, the rural hypertension figures were between two and eight per cent only.

The physician said significantly the entire population was non-obese. “There has been an overall rise in heart diseases in the country but this has been linked to the rise in obesity levels. Among the population studied here, it was found that obesity was not the risk factor but poor dietary knowledge with almost no intake of fruits and vegetables, increased use of tobacco and salt as well as locally prepared alcohol which resulted in quarrels and indirectly increased stress,” she said.

Goswami Mahanta is the only one invited from India to present her research paper on Prevalence of Cardiovascular Risk Factors among Tea Garden and General Population in Dibrugarh at the Global Health Initiative steering committee meeting in Washington to be held from October 27 to 29.

CORRUPTION WATCH: Society under consumer scan

CORRUPTION WATCH: Society under consumer scan – caveat emptor, buyer beware ?!! trend just a tip of the iceberg ?!! An imported culture from Bengal ?!!


An idol of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, at a Siliguri house where it was worshipped on Friday. (Kundan Yolmo) - early bird doesn't always catch the worm, different from the general Hindu Traditions worldwide ?!!



Kalimpong, Oct. 22: A father-son duo from a Kalimpong village have lodged a complaint with the Darjeeling district consumer forum against a local cooperative society for not returning their deposits three years after maturity.

Shanti Ram Ghimirey and his son Bhupen from Dalapchand, about 10km from here, had deposited their hard-earned savings with the Dalapchand Gram Panchayat Sahakari Krishi Union Samiti, a registered society in the village.

When the Ghimireys deposited the money, mostly by way of fixed deposits, they were told that they would get their returns at the interest rate of 10 per cent on completion of the maturity period of a year.

However, more than three years after the maturity, the Ghimireys have only received a tiny part (Rs 46,000) of their six deposits worth Rs 1,33,000. The samiti is yet to refund Rs 87,000 in fixed deposits and Rs 5,856 in savings account, totalling Rs 92,856, to the duo.

The samiti is affiliated to the Darjeeling District Central Cooperative Bank Limited based here.

According to the terms of agreement between the samiti and the bank, the samiti is required to put 70 per cent of the amount of each deposit in the bank. However, a bank official told The Telegraph that the Dalapchand samiti did not seem to have followed the rule book.

The Ghimireys, however, do not want to listen to any such explanations but simply want their money back.

They, in fact, approached the Darjeeling District Consumer Distress Redressal Forum yesterday, seeking refund of their deposits with interest calculated at the rate of 12 per cent from the date of their maturity till the time of payment.

“We have also sought an additional amount of Rs 15,000 as compensation for the mental harassment caused to us by the samiti,” said Bhupen.

Bhupen said in their effort to get back the money, they had even approached the bank on many occasions but to no avail. After running for pillar to post for the past three years, the Ghimireys finally approached the Kalimpong Consumers’ Forum (KFC), an NGO, which after making inquiries advised them to lodge a complaint with the consumer redressal forum.

“There are many more Ghimireys in the village. Many of them, because of ignorance, have almost given up their life-long savings,” said Praful Rao, the KFC secretary.

When contacted, the Dalapchand samiti’s manager Dhurba Rai admitted that the Ghimireys were to get their entire money back. “We will eventually pay them their entire dues but unfortunately are not in a position to do that in one go,” he said.

Rs 5 lakh for power overdraw – without Laxmi’s Blessings ?!!


Siliguri, Oct. 22: The West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited’s Siliguri circle has collected Rs 5.92 lakh as fine from different Puja organisers in five north Bengal districts this time. Power department sources said 490 organisers were fined for overdrawing electricity during the four-day festivity.

The irregularity in the power supply to pandals was noticed during an inspection.

“Our staff found that 490 organisers had flouted the norms and over drawn the power, which is more than they were permitted while obtaining permission from our department,” said Abhijit Maitra, a senior manager of the power major’s Siliguri circle.

The circle consists of the five districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur. Along with permissions from the fire and police departments, it is mandatory to obtain permission from the electricity department as well while setting up Puja pandals.

“During the Durga Puja, we gave connections to 3,352 organisers in different districts of the region. From them, we collected Rs 71,76,936 lakh as security deposit,” he said.

Maitra said permission to use power was given to respective organisers after they submitted their requirements. But during the inspection of the premises, it was found out that some of the organisers had drawn more power than they had applied for.