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Thursday, April 15, 2010

North Bengal's storm death toll rises to 43, injured 200

Victims complain against relief services
Raigang, Kolkata, 15 April : The devastating storm which hit West Bengal on Tuesday night killed 43 people and injured more than 200 people. The storm was strong enough to bring down 100,000 houses and blew cars, cattle along with people. The storm continued for 30 minutes affecting thousands of people residing in the five blocks of West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district along with Jalpaiguri.
The wind blew at a speed of 120 km per hour. The most severely affected blocks were that of Raigang, Karandighi, Kaliaganj, and Hemtabad. The rescue officials had a tough time in making the affected people receive the medicines, milk powder, dry food, Clothes and blankets. It has been reported that many people demonstrated in the district against the poor relief service or at some places there was no relief service. Hospitals had to carry on the relief operations in candlelight as there was no power supply. Manab Mukherjee, Minister for Tourism admitted, "There is some problem in reaching relief." The government will be providing Rs.2 lakh as compensation to the victims' families. Mukherjee also told Bengal Newz, "Those whose houses have been fully destroyed would get Rs.10, 000. Those whose houses have been partially damaged will get Rs.2, 500." Photos : AP, Reuters
Verdict on 'Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Counci'l stayed
Dhaka, Chittagong, 15 April : The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed for six weeks the High Court verdict that declared illegal and unconstitutional the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council Act 1998.
Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division Justice Md Muzammel Hossain also asked the government to file a regular leave-to-appeal petition with the SC against the HC verdict within this period. The judge passed the order upon a petition filed in the day seeking stay on the HC verdict. The HC bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury on Tuesday declared the act illegal following a writ petition filed in 2000. It however rejected another writ petition filed in 2007 for declaring the CHT Peace Accord illegal too.
In 2000 and 2007, Bangalee settler M Badiuzzaman and pro-Jamaat-e-Islami lawyer Tajul Islam filed the two writ petitions. The HC issued separate rules following the petitions, asking the government to explain why the CHT Peace Accord should not be declared illegal and the provisions of the related laws illegal and unconstitutional.
Leopard rescued near Guwahati city
PTI, Guwahati, 15 April : A female leopard was today rescued by the Assam forest department from Channdrapur area in the outskirts of the city.
The locals spotted the leopard trapped inside a well and informed the forest department. "The forest guards went to the spot, tranquilised the animal and brought it to the zoo", Zoo Director Narayan Mahanta told PTI. Mahanta said that the animal will be kept in an enclosure as it cannot be released in the Chandrapur area which is human-inhabited.
The leopard, approximately aged seven, had strayed from the nearby forest area, he said. Photos : Chinmoy Roy

CPI(M)'s local committee's member killed by Maoists
Jhargram, 15 April : Maoists killed a CPI(M) worker whose body was found today in West Midnapore district, police said.
Swapan Das(40) was forcibly taken away from his in-laws house at Jhargram last night by a group of Maoists. The bullet-ridden body of Das, who is the Dharampur local committee's CPI(M) member, was found lying early today a few metres away from the house, police said. Maoists' posters were also found from the spot, along with a letter which said that Das was killed because he was supporting the operation by the joint security forces against the Maoists.
Trinamool Congress, Congress no deal in Tripura election
IANS, Agartala, 15 April : Despite an electoral pact with the Congress in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress will fight against both Congress and the ruling Left parties in next month's politically important elections to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), party leaders said hear.
The elections to the 30-seat (28 elective, two nominated) TTAADC, which facilitates the socio-economic development of the tribals, would be held 3 May. The council, which has jurisdiction over two-thirds of the state's geographical area, was constituted in 1985 after amending the sixth schedule of the constitution.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) Tripura unit chairman Arun Chandra Bhowmik said it has put up 22 candidates in alliance with a tribal-based party National Conference of Tripura (NCT).
Pranab stays mum on demands to look into IPL franchises
PTI, New Delhi, 15 April : Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today refused to comment on demands to look into the franchise system of IPL and financial transactions involved in it, saying it was his not his "job".
"No, that is not my job," Mukherjee told reporters outside Parliament House. He was asked about demands to look into the entire system of IPL francise and the financial transactions involved in it.
India to receive $4.5 mn US assistance to fight Terrorism
PTI, Washington, 15 April : With India requesting for higher-level training from the United States in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the Obama Administration has asked the Congress to double its anti-terrorism budget to India to $4.5 million for the fiscal 2011.
Testifying before a Congressional committee, Coordinator for Counter-terrorism in the Department of States Daniel Benjamin on Wednesday said such a decision by the Obama Administration follows a request from India in the aftermath of the Mumbai-terrorist attack that killed more than 166 people, six of whom were Americans. "Under our FY 2011 request, India's ATA bilateral budget would almost double, to $4.5 million, to meet the increasing political will on the part of the Indian government, which has requested more and higher-level training in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack," Benjamin said.

Bangladesh PM Hasina mourns storm casualties in India
Dhaka, 15 April : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mourned the deaths of over 100 people in eastern India in a violent tropical storm that partly devastated parts of this country's northwestern region.
A storm packing speeds of over 125 km per hour swept across West Bengal, Bihar and Assam early today killing at least 110 people and leaving a trail of destruction. In a message sent to her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, the Premier expressed her deep shock at the loss of lives and property and prayed for the eternal peace of the departed souls.

Shunt fault disrupts internet service in some part of Bengal
Kolkata, 15 April : Internet traffic performance has been degraded in some parts of Bengal since 12:48pm on Wednesday due to a shunt fault in the Segment-4 of SMW4 between Alexandria and Marseilles localised at approximately 1,886km from Alexandria towards Palermo.
The submarine cable repair ship has completed all preparations for the cable restore operation of the damaged cable segment as per update information of the upstream Thursday morning.
Seaplane service to Andaman and Nicobar by next October
New Delhi, Port Blair, 15 April : Come October and Indians won’t need to go abroad to fly a seaplane - the ones that take off and land on water.
Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL) along with the Andaman and Nicobar administration is getting the country’s first seaplane for island hopping in the archipelago by tourists. The two government bodies last week agreed to equally share the cost of this programme that will, to begin with, be launched as a pilot project for six months in October and then extended depending on the response.

“We are going to issue a global tender to take a helicopter on wet lease (hired from a company that looks after its maintenance and provides the crew). Seaplanes are available in the range of eight to 18 seaters,” PHHL chief R K Tyagi said. Operating the seaplane will cost about Rs 1 crore a month, including lease rental and operational expenses, that will be equally shared by the two government agencies.
The Andaman administration has chosen some of the most beautiful islands for being linked by the seaplane with capital Port Blair. These include Havelock (rated among the best beaches globally), Barren Island (an active volcano that most recently came to life five years ago), Neil and Diglipur.
The local administration will provide the infrastructure like maintenance units and passenger jetties in different islands where the plane will fly. The aviation ministry has long been pushing for introduction of seaplanes in India.
It feels that seaplanes have a huge potential in India that has a coastline of over 8,000 km and dotted by several beautiful islands. In fact, PHHL was asked to get the first seaplane on its own but given the expenses involved, the PSU was looking at getting partners.

Four killed, more than 20 injured in Assam thunderstorm
IANS, Guwahati, 15 April : At least four people were killed and more than 20 injured in a thunderstorm that lashed several parts of Assam Wednesday, devastating homes and agriculture and uprooting trees, electric and telephone poles, officials said.
A government spokesperson said Kamrup, Nalbari, Dhubri, and Nagaon districts were worst hit by the thunderstorm, which was accompanied by howling wind and hailstorm, late Tuesday and again Wednesday.

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