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Thursday, August 20, 2009

I’ll be last person to privatise Indian Railways : Mamata

Kolkata, 20 August : Rubbishing talk that efforts are on to privatise the Indian Railways, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday said she would be the last person to do so.
“In some quarters there is mischievous talk that we are trying to privatise the railways. I’ll be the last person to privatise the Indian Railways. There will be no privatisation or commercialisation of the railways,” Banerjee said at the 54th Annual Railways National Award Function here. “We’ll make the railways so strong that no one can undermine this organisation. We’ll ensure nobody can touch our employees as well. We are passing through an important stage. “It’s the railway employees who take care of the safety and security of this huge organisation,” she said. Reiterating her oft-repeated stand, Banerjee said: “Indian Railways is just not a transport organisation, it has social obligations too. Whenever there’s a natural calamity, we always reach there to help out people in distress.
She said the railways had already identified 112,000 acres of land which would be used for development work in the coming days. Mamata also gave away awards to eminent writers and artists of the city, including those who supported her in the anti-land acquisition movements in Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal. Photo : Avijit Mondal

Moynaguri, 20 August :
(L) Labourers remove jute fibres from stagnant rainwater at a roadside in Moynaguri village, about 66 km (41 miles) north of Siliguri. (R) A labourer ties a bundle of jute at a wholesale jute market in Moynaguri village Today.
India has raised the minimum support price for raw jute to 1,375 ($29) rupees per 100 kg for the financial year that began 1 April, from last year's 1,250 ($26) rupees, Palaniappan Chidambaram, Home Affairs Minister, said on 19 June. Photos : Reuters
B'desh court tells troops to exit from Chittagong Hills
Dhaka, 20 August : A court in Bangladesh ruled on Thursday that troops should withdraw from the insurgency-hit Chittacong Hill Tract. The order was passed despite pleas from some residents about militant attacks.
The Bangladesh army has begun pulling out the Chittagong Hill Tracts, where the government signed a peace treaty with the main militant group in 1997, but halted last week due to a court petition from a Bengali settler. Government figures show 2,500 people died during two decades of fighting before the peace deal, and deadly violence has continued between the settlers who moved to the area recently and indigenous tribal groups who seek autonomy.
The armed forces said 2,100 troops would be withdrawn and 35 security camps dismantled by September.

APCRPL plans mega chemical hub at Nayachar island
Kolkata, 20 August : West Bengal’s chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, commerce & industry minister Nirupam Sen and finance minister Asim Dasgupta on Thursday discussed the land-lease agreement of Nayachar island, where a mega chemical hub is proposed to come up.
Talking to newsmen after the meeting, Nirupam Sen said: "The lease deed for the Nayachar island has to be prepared shortly. Land will have to be leased out to Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy Petrochemicals Ltd (APCRPL), which will be settting up the chemical hub at Nayachar. This is required as a notification has to be made declaring Nayachar island as a PCPIR (petroelum, chemical and petrochemical investment region)." The chemical hub will be spread over ab area of nearly 12,500 acres.
At the meeting, it was also decided that a MoU will have to be entered between the state government and Central government for setting up the infrastructure in the PCPIR. "The draft of the MoU has already been prepared and has been sent to the Centre for their approval," Sen said.

Cash reward announced for eight stolen marmosets
Kolkata, 20 August : Eleven days after eight common marmosets were stolen from the Alipore zoo, a clueless Kolkata police today announced a cash reward for anyone giving information on them.
"We will give a cash reward of Rs 50,000 to anyone giving a clue about the theft of the marmosets. We are also in touch with Interpol," Kolkata Police Commissioner Goutam Mohan Chakraborty said who paid a visit to the zoo with Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty and Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen. The forest department has submitted a report about zoo's security system, chief secretary said, adding "Action will be taken on the basis of the report within two three days".
The security system of the zoo would be tightened and night vision cameras would be installed, Chief Secretary said. All cages would be covered with wire netting fitted with alarms and more guards deployed, the chief secretary added.

Kolkata bottle manufacturer eyes oversea acquisition
Kolkata, 20 August : India’s largest container glass manufacturer, Hindusthan National Glass and Industries (HNG), is looking at Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East for acquisition, a top company official said here Thursday.
“We are looking at these three countries for acquiring a bottle manufacturing plant. The investment will be between Rs.300 crore to Rs.400 crore,” company joint managing director Mukul Somany said at a media meet here. The capacity of the acquired company would be one-fourth of HNG’s installed capacity of 940,000 tonnes.
Three killed in landslides, Kalimpong & Sikkim cut off
Siliguri, 20 August : Three persons, including a couple, were killed and road link between Kalimpong and Sikkim cut off following a series of landslides triggered by incessant rains in Kurseong and Kalimpong sub-divisions of Darjeeling district.
"Condition of Darjeeling is grim as most of the roads have turned inaccessible after last night's landslides. The hill sub-division Kalimpong and Sikkim were cut off as the arterial road link NH-31A was hit with landslides in between Sevoke and Ranbhi," Darjeeling District Magistrate Surendra Gupta told Bengal Newz.
A couple was buried alive when a rock slided against their house last night at Okai tea garden under Mirik block, sub-divisional officer of Kurseong Dibyendu Das said. While in Kalimpong, the landslide has claimed one person, whose identity could not be immediately known, SDO of Kalimpong, Amiyesh Tsehering said, adding priority has been given to restoration of road and communication network.In Kurseong, slides in far flung areas of the sub-division are still being reported. At least 70 houses in the sub-division were damaged, Das said.
The DGHC and the highway authorities are trying to remove the rocks but the progress of work is slow as rains are still continuing.

Around Tk 38 lakh stolen from Agrani Bank in Tangail
Tangail, 20 August : Around Tk 38 lakh was robbed from the Agrani Bank's Karatia branch in Tangail.
Bank Manager Abdul Aziz said that he had left office around 7:45pm(BDST) on Wednesday after keeping the amount inside a vault. He, however, found the window-grills dismantled and door-locks and the vault broken when he came to the bank today. All money was stolen from the vault, he added. A team from Tangail Sadar Police Station rushed to the bank on information and recovered several tools used for breaking the vault.
Police said lack of security guard in the bank might have emboldened the professional robbers. The bank manager filed a case with Tangail Sadar Police Station in this regard.
Traffic stops on 'Jamuna bridge' as bus catches fire
Sirajganj, 20 August : A passenger bus caught fire on early Thursday on the Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge, congesting traffic movement across the bridge for about two hours.
Md Rafique Ahmed, the bridge authority's additional traffic officer in charge, said as the Dhaka-bound CNG-run Volvo passenger bus of Greenline arriving from Syedpur reached the middle of the bridge, it suddenly burst into flames as its gas cylinders caught fire. Tangail and Sirajganj firefighters were all assembled on the bridge following the fire accident. The bridge authority doused the blaze after two hours of efforts. The burnt-down vehicle was moved aside and the traffic movement was restored to normal.

Semi drought situation haunts eleven districts in WB
Production may drop by around 10% in West Bengal
New Delhi, Kolkata, 20 August : Its getting worse, the day Indian agriculture minister Sharad Pawar estimated rice production in 2009-10 to fall by around 10 million tonne because of low rains, West Bengal, the country’s largest rice grower for the first time estimated that production will drop by around 10% in the state.
West Bengal also declared 11 out of total 19 districts in the state as drought-affected, joining the growing list of states which now also includes more than half of Madhya Pradesh as being hit by the drought. “Our average production of rice (aman) is around 106 lakh tonnes but we will produce at least 10% lower this year.” West Bengal agriculture minister Naren Dey told Bengal Newz. Dey will be attending the meeting convened by Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Friday. Meanwhile, the state has submitted a detailed report of the situation in West Bengal and pointed out that 11 districts are facing drought conditions. The districts include high productivity district Nadia (production 2,705 kg/ha); medium productivity districts like 24 Parganas (N), Murshidabad, Bankura, Malda, Midnapore (West & East), Dinajpur (North & South) and Howrah, where productivity ranges from 2,000-2,500 kg/ha.
According to Dey, there’s a 30-46% rain deficit this year. Experts say shortage in rainfall is not the only parameter to declare drought. Incidentally, there has been considerable rain over the past three days in the state and the meteorological department has forecast heavy rains through the rest of the month. The total rice production in the state last year was 147.19 lakh tonnes and the target this year is 155.53 lakh tonne. “If we have sufficient rainfall for a few weeks, we will be able to overcome the situation. Last year, we brought 43 lakh hectares of land under cultivation,” Dey said.

The state is hopeful of cropping the entire tract of land as cultivation will continue till 30 August.

Siliguri railway bridge collapses due to heavy rains
ANI, Siliguri, 20 August : Railway services in the Siliguri-New Jalpaiguri region were affected following the collapse of a rail bridge in Siliguri on Thursday morning.
Heavy rains and strong river currents damaged the railway track and contributed to the collapse of the bridge. Heavy and relentless rains over the past few days has led to the water level of the River Balason and its tributaries flowing above the danger mark. The bridge was a part of the meter gauge unit, of the famous Darjeeling heritage rail service. The route attracts a lot of foreign tourist thanks to the beautiful landscape through which the route passes.
During the rainy season the river brings heavy loads of water down from the Himalayas to the plains. Photo At Side Bar

BDR in Bangladesh to have new Name and Uniform
Dhaka, 20 August : Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the country’s border guards whose troopers mutinied in February killing 73 people, will soon have a new name, uniform, insignia and a law to try those members who commit serious offences, a minister said.
The BDR, which traces its chequered history to the Bengal Regiment of the British India two centuries back, will become Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday picked the name and a brown combat coloured-uniform, changing it from the traditional khaki. While there will be slight changes in the insignia, the motto ‘Shimante Atondro Prohori’ (ever-awake guard at the border) shall remain unchanged. An improved pay packet and changed rules for promotion will help meet the ostensible reasons for the 25-26 February mutiny. The rebellion took place over poor working conditions and low wages.
Bangladesh has a 4,700 km largely riverine border over 4,300 km with India and 300 km with Myanmar.

20 missing after boat, carrying bridal party capsize in Arialkhan river
BSS, Madaripur, 20 August : A passenger boat carrying a bridal party of 40 clashed head-on with another sand-laden cargo boat on Wednesday night on the Arialkhan River near the old Arialkhan ferry station, leaving at least 20 people including the bride and the groom missing since, police said.
Shibchar police chief MA Jalil and local people said the cargo boat inadvertently ran over the engine boat carrying the bridal party at around 10pm(BDST). Police and the locals are carrying out search and rescue operation. No news of any casualty has been reported so far.


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