Howrah, 27 December : The foundry industry of Howrah is all set to make a turnaround with Jadavpur University's Research, Development and Innovation Centre for Foundry Cluster in Howrah coming forward to help them in attaining better productivity and superior energy management. The principal scientific adviser to the government of India, Dr R Chidambaram, inaugurated the centre yesterday.
"A university researches while an industry delivers. Both can play a complimentary role for each other. This centre would be an ideal platform for the industry-university interface. Unless that happens, there is every chance that the industry gets stuck in the beaten track and the research organization gets away from the ground reality," said Dr Chidambaram, an eminent scientist and chairman of Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC). The council has funded the centre in a major way.
The Howrah foundry cluster was the first organized modern industrial cluster in India. It was set up in British days, when Kolkata became the political and commercial capital. The history of the foundry cluster, along with the jute industry, is synonymous with the rise of British mercantile colonialism in India. The cluster used to be considered the Sheffield of India.
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BANGLADESH VOTE :
Ershad's motorcade convoy attacked in Rangpur
Rangpur, 27 December : The former Bangladesh president's and Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad was attacked in Rangpur on Saturday morning, the attackers smashing the windows of seven to eight vehicles in the former president's convoy.
The assault was carried out around 11am, minutes after Ershad's motorcade headed for Dinajpur's Parbotipur after the end of a street rally at Badarganj. The JP chairman took refuge at the roadside residence of former state minister and Awami League leader Anisul Islam Chowdhury as the attackers shouted anti-Ershad slogans and hurled brickbats at the vehicles.
Police arrived at the spot at around 11.30am, forced the attackers to retreat and the motorcade again started for Parbotipur. A number of journalists accompanying Ershad's campaign tour were among those injured in the attack.
Thousands trapped in snowstorm in East Sikkim
Gangtok, 26 December : A trip to the snow-laden Changu Lake turned into a nightmare for more than 3, 500 tourists including hundreds of children on Friday. They were trapped in snowstorm conditions with the temperature dipping to minus 15 degrees at a killing altitude of 13,300 feet before the army pulled them to safety.
The majority of those trapped were from Bengal. Hundreds fell ill, shivering in the icy cold as their vehicles remained stranded near Changu and Baba Mandir for hours. Clad in just jackets and scarves, the holidayers were hardly prepared, mentally or physically, to encounter a blizzard. The Indian army rescued them and took them to military camps, where warm soup and loads of blankets helped revive most of them. Many had to be admitted to the army medical units for treatment.
With the weather showing no signs of letting up, Changu Lake could remain out of bounds for tourists this week.
The day was also observed at the southern islands, the areas worst affected by the natural calamity.
India government clarified that the vessel, owned by the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, was touring block 14 and very much within Indian waters.
Bangladesh government had made the allegation on Thursday. There is no clear maritime boundary demarcation between the two countries yet. Bangladesh had earlier also asked India to stop all oil and mineral exploration activities in the region till the boundary issue is settled.
The committee has asked Indian Railways to lay another track beside the existing one from NJP to New Bangaigaon, and convert it into a double line. All goods trains that run through the NJP-Alipurduar junction, through the Dooars, should then be shifted to these tracks. This, the committee felt, was the only way to save wildlife, especially elephants.
The NJP-New Bangaigaon track passes through Jalpaiguri, bypassing the Dooars forest lands. The committee felt that if the line were converted into a double track, to where goods trains could be shifted, it would curb elephant deaths due to train accidents, reported every year from the Dooars.
"We have also asked them to follow the speed guideline while driving trains through the Dooars forests,The New Cooch Behar-Dhubri line will start functioning from September next year " said Railway Standing Committee chairman Basudeb Achariya, who was in Jalpaiguri to attend the 14th state conference of Central Government Workers' Coordination Committee, on Friday.
About 39 elephants have so far been killed on this track.
BANGLADESH VOTE :
Bangladesh Boosts Security Ahead of Poll
Tight security aims at trouble-free polls
Dhaka, 26 December : The government of Bangladesh says it has stepped up security ahead of a crucial election scheduled for Monday following the arrest of two members of a banned Islamist group.Over 600,000 law enforcers will be strategically deployed across the country ahead of the election on 29 December, in the home ministry's security measures for a trouble-free vote.
The Home Affairs Advisor M.A. Matin told reporters in Dhaka that the government is increasing security nationwide. Authorities had already boosted security following threats against Ms. Zia and her main rival, Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina. Capital Dhaka will get 'five-tier security' this year, The home ministry and law enforcing agencies had earlier assured that a three-tier security system, at least, would be ensured countrywide. The largest single force throughout the country will be 466,000 Ansar, in addition to 80,000 police, 50,000 armed forces, 25,000 BDR and 6,000 Rapid Action Battalion personnel.Some 284 judicial and some 715 executive magistrates have also been appointed with the power to hold summary trials.
A total of 35,216 vote centres and 177,107 voting booths will serve 81,058,698 registered voters around the country. The EC had renamed voting centres in the lead up to polls this year as 'normal' and 'critical' from the previously 'non-risky' and 'risky' categories. A total of 18 striking forces combining Navy and Coastguard will work across the coastal districts says commissioner Nayeem Ahmed.
The poll should return Bangladesh to democracy after near two years of emergency rule. The military intervened in January of 2007 to stop months of violence between supporters of the BNP and the Awami League. Those same two parties are seen as the front-runners in the upcoming poll.
The decision comes a day after the party announced its intention to attend the talks. But while going public with the decision to join the talks on Wednesday, GJM chief Bimal Gurung had made it clear that the strike would be on. "But we decided to call off the strike at government and DGHC offices to make the atmosphere conducive for the Delhi talks, However, NTPC, NHPC, the billing sections of the telephone and electricity departments and tax and revenue collecting offices will remain closed. These will be brought out of the purview of the strike if the talks prove to be fruitful. "Decision in this regard will be taken only after the tripartite talk yields some results," GJM press and publicity secretary Benoy Tamang told Bengal News.
As part of GJM's non-co-operation movement, all WB state government and DGHC offices have been closed since 8 December.
SM Moniruzzaman, Gaibandha police superintendent, told reporters that RAB, Detective Branch and local police jointly arrested the four, based on information from the three alleged JMB members arrested Wednesday night from Gaibandha villages. During Wednesday night's hauls, police retrieved huge quantities of bomb ingredients, electronic equipment, batteries, grenade casings, chemicals and books from the raids. Police said at least 55 grenades could be made using the seized materials. The arrestees are being quizzed at Govindaganj Police Station.
SM Moniruzzaman had said, without elaborating, that the grenades were being made possibly for some 'special mission'. Police seized books and leaflets from their houses.
On Wednesday night police picked up three suspected JMB activists from Bhatparha Gopalpur in Gaibandha and Talukkanupur and Parhakachua villages in Govindaganj.
BANGLADESH VOTE :
Khaleda takes campaign to Jamalpur, Sherpur & Netrokona
Dhaka, 25 December : BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia was out on Thursday to take her election campaign to Jamalpur, Sherpur and Netrokona.
On her way back to Dhaka, the former prime minister is scheduled to join a number of street rallies. Khaleda, who launched her campaign on 12 December by visiting the shrines in Sylhet, will round her electioneering outside the capital off with Thursday's trip.
She exchanged Christmas greetings with the Christians early in the day at Kakrail central church on her way back home after participating in a rally in Narayanganj. She cut cake and exchanged greetings with the people of the church.
The leader of BNP led four-party alliance will address a rally at Paltan ground in Dhaka on 27 December, the last day of election campaign.
BSF had apprehended two Bangladeshi nationals on Monday last and handed them over to police and on the basis of the interrogation report police raided the brick field, they said. Investigations are on to ascertain whether the arrested had any kind of criminal links.
Earlier, an alert was sounded by the state Home department along the entire Indo-Bangla border and BSF was asked to intensify vigil in view of the upcoming Bangladesh elections.
Kurigam, 25 December : Bangladeshi authorities say they have slaughtered nearly 10-thousand birds in five districts, as the country faces a fresh outbreak of the deadly avian flu virus.
An official in the Department of Fisheries and Livestock says poultry in the northern district of Kurigam have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain. The district is the fifth to report the virus since bird flu reemerged in Bangladesh in recent months.
Earlier this year, Bangladesh culled more than one million birds after authorities discovered bird flu in nearly 50 of the country's 64 districts. Bangladeshi officials say they are stepping up monitoring and preventative measures
Chittagong, 24 December : Army backed Bangladesh chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed has lauded the armed forces for doing a great job by helping out the civil administration in running the affairs and mainitaining the continuacy of democracy.
They have always come forward in times of diaster and other difficult times, said Fakhruddin at a combined parade by army, navy and air forces at Bangladesh Military Academy at Bhatiari in Chittagong on Wednesday. He termed the military as sleepless guards of independence and sovereignty.
He pointed out that military academies were set up in the country shortly after independence in 1971 to have skilled armed forces and noted that cadets from friendly countries also learn here.
BANGLADESH VOTE :
America's NDI observers arrive for polls
International community's interest for democratically-elected government
Dhaka, 24 December : A 33 member observers of Washington based National Democratic Institute arrived in the capital Wednesday to monitor the 29 December polls. The delegation is co-led by former US ambassador in Bangladesh Howard B Schaffer and a former MP of Canada Audrey McLaughlin, said a statement from the NDI's local office.
"The 33-member group includes political and civil leaders, regional and election experts, media specialists, and human rights activists from 10 countries in Asia, Europe, and North America," said the statement. "The purpose of the delegation is to demonstrate the international community's interest in Bangladesh's return to a democratically-elected government," it added.
The NDI had fielded a pre-election delegation to Dhaka from 16 November and has had long term observers in Bangladesh since 20 November to assess the political environment and preparations for the general elections, according to the statement.
BANGLADESH VOTE :
284 judicial magistrates appointed for polls
Dhaka, 23 December : The Bangladesh law ministry has appointed 284 judicial magistrates to settle cases of electoral crimes in the 29 December general election , EC officials said on Tuesday.
"On approval of the Supreme Court the law ministry has already appointed 284 judicial magistrates," EC joint secretary (law) NI Khan said. The ministry sent a letter on Tuesday to the EC, which will take decisions on the issue on Wednesday, he said.
The magistrates are empowered to dispose cases off-hand through summary trial and punish the violators, Khan said. "Meanwhile, over 700 executive magistrates have been appointed in two phases," he added.
The EC empowered some 396 administrative cadre officials and assistant commissioners (land) as executive magistrates, EC officials said.
West Bengal CM to meet Amartya Sen on Global Economic Crisis
Kolkata, 23 Desember : WB Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will discuss the global economic crisis with Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who is in town. Inaugurating the 22nd Industrial India Trade Fair, organised by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in association with India Trade Promotion Organisation at the Milan Mela ground on Tuesday, Bhattacharjee said the crisis has had its impact on the country and West Bengal was no exception.
"I met the Reserve Bank of India Governor a few days ago and discussed the issue. The growth rate has come down to 7%. The crisis will badly hit the manufacturing and IT sectors. Amartya Sen is in the city. I have fixed an appointment to meet him. I want to discuss the issue with him," the CM said.
No solution to Bengal's trainee teacher impasse
Kolkata, 23 December : WB Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is worried about the impasse over the Primary Teachers' Training Institutes (PTTI) students in the state. He asked school education minister Partha De in the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday whether the Centre had informed him of any development in this connection. De told him that there had been no development neither was there any denial that a solution could not be provided.
It has been more than a month since the high court derecognised the private primary teachers' training colleges that were running a one-year course flouting Central norms. The West Bengal Primary Teachers' Training Students' Union has already threatened to launch a widespread agitation all over the state if the state government failed to eke out a solution from the Centre.
The state government is seeking regularisation of 146 PTTIs in West Bengal, which have been termed illegal by the high court.
Rajshahi, 23 December : The Rajshahi unit of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee on Tuesday formed a human chain in the city demanding that people should boycott war criminals, militancy patrons and criminals in the forthcoming polls. They urged the voters to vote for the candidates who acted for the independence of the country in 1971.
Haldia, 23 December : Kolkata is on the threshold of a bio-fuel revolution. Very soon, buses and diesel taxis may stop belching toxic smoke, and Kolkatans may again breathe fresh air. That is, if the government changes its policies to put this green fuel in top gear, as several countries have done.
Emami Biotech Limited has started commercial production of bio-fuel at its Haldia plant from today. The fuel of the future is not only eco-friendly but it will also save foreign exchange for the country by cutting down the need for crude oil import.
2004 Sylhet Blast :
HUJI commander & 2 other sentenced to death
Sylhet, 23 December : Mufti Hannan the opeartion commander of Harkatul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and two other militants were sentenced to death on Tuesday for the 2004 grenade attack on former British high commissioner Anwar Choudhury in Sylhet.
The Sylhet divisional speedy trial tribunal judge Shamim Md Afzal also sentenced two others found guilty to life terms, special public prosecutor of the tribunal Fakhruddin Ahmad told reporters. Three policemen were killed and over 50 were injured, including the former UK envoy, in the grenade attack on 21 May, 2004, that was said to have targeted Choudhury as he was visiting the shrine of Shah Jalal in the north eastern city.
Tight security measures were taken in and outside the court premises since morning. Polile searched people and their baggage on the entrances. The accused were taken to the court from Sylhet Central Jail at around 2:17pm and the verdict was delivered at 3:30pm BDST.
Police gun down by suspected Maoists in Purulia
Purulia, 22 December : Two policemen were killed when over 30 suspected Maoists, dressed as ordinary villagers, opened fire during a change of the guards’ shift at the construction site of a Purulia community hall today.
A jeep carrying four WB state armed police personnel had just arrived around 4.30pm to relieve their colleagues when “30-40 people”, who had merged with hundreds of others at the bazaar at Raidiberada village, struck. The daylight attack at a time the weekly haat (bazaar) was in full swing took the policemen so much by surprise that they apparently could not fire a single shot in response. Some of them had their bodies in shawls and could not free their arms in time. Two of the assailants picked up the Insas rifles of the dead and injured cops as the others in the gang provided covering fire.
District superintendent of police Rajesh Yadav said Maoists from Jharkhand, only 6km from the scene of the bloodshed, were behind the attack. “There were 30-40 of them, most of whom came on motorbikes. They took advantage of the crowded market, mingling with the villagers. When the policemen arrived at the construction site, they surrounded them and opened fire,” he said.
BANGLADESH VOTE :
Reaching 'FINAL STAGE' before power handover : CA
Chittagong, 23 December : Bangladesh Chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed has said the caretaker government has reached the final stage in its objective to handover power to elected representatives by holding a free, fair and acceptable election.
The CA on a visit to Chittagong Tuesday reiterated, as on previous occasions, that no negligence or bias would be tolerated by those on election duty. Speaking to government officials assigned to the general election, Fakhruddin told them to act with honesty without yielding to any pressure. He asked them to be careful so that "ill forces" including banned organisations could not carry out any violence during the election.
Pointing to the districts near the border area, he directed authorities to increase vigilance so that terrorists could not cross the border before or after the election.
Kolkata among 4 metros to get NSG hubs
PTI, New Delhi, 22 December : Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai will soon have full-fledged units of the National Security Guard (NSG) with the Indian Government on Monday deciding to set-up regional hubs of the crack commando force in these four cities to cut its response time in future.
The idea to set up such hubs was mooted in the wake of last month's Mumbai terror attacks when NSG; which is stationed at Manesar near Gurgaon in Haryana, took over nine hours to begin its operation against the terrorists. Since Manesar does not have an airstrip, the commandos had to travel to Delhi by road and fly to Mumbai, wasting precious time.
The four regional hubs, which will also have facilities for regular training, will help the NSG in cutting its response time substantially in future. "Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai are the four places identified to establish the new NSG hubs. These hubs will be manned by the existing force of NSG as of now," director general of the elite force J K Dutt told reporters after meeting Indian home secretary Madhukar Gupta.