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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

6.8-magnitude quake hits Andaman and Nicobar Islands

AP, New Delhi, 30 March : Officials say a 6.8-magnitude earthquake has hit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal but no damage has been reported.
Indian Meteorological Department adviser R. Bhattacharya says the epicenter was north off the coast of the islands. Local police official Shabbir Ahmad in Port Blair, the main city in the region, says no damage has been reported so far. Vivek Ray, a senior Port Blair official, told NDTV news channel no tsunami warning has been issued. He says two people have been hurt after jumping off a building when the temblor struck. The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake was 6.4 magnitude and hit about 10:25 p.m. local time Tuesday.

From Afghanistan to Arakans, militants converge on B'desh
Dhaka, 30 March : At least 15 foreign militant organisations were active or are still operating in Bangladesh since 1991 using the country as a safe shelter or transit to infiltrate neighbouring countries.
The organisations are Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Tehrik-e-Jehad-e-Islami-Kashmiri (TJI), Harkat-ul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jehadul Islami, Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HuM), Hezbe Islami, Jamiatul Mujahideen, Harkatul Ansar, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), India-based Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), Myanmar-based militant groups Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) and National United Party of Arakan (NUPA).
This was revealed from the statements of several detained foreign and local militants and insiders of different intelligence and law-enforcement agencies dealing with militancy.

Infosys to get 50 acres in NewTown on fringes of Kolkata
Kolkata, 30 March : The West Bengal government will allot 50 acres of land to software major Infosys in New Town on the northeast fringes of the city in the next 10 days, Housing Minister Gautam Deb said here Tuesday.
"Infosys have agreed to take land in the state. We will sit with the IT minister (Debesh Das) and Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation officials to finalise the modalities. It will be done in 10 days," said Deb.

Pranab Mukherjee for fresh impetus to revert to 9% growth
PTI, New Delhi, 30 March : Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday pitched for imparting fresh impetus to economic recovery to quickly revert to the nine per cent growth rate and cross the double-digit growth barrier.
"First challenge before us is to quickly revert to high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of nine per cent ... And then to cross the double-digit growth barrier," he said, while addressing a convocation of the Hamdard University in New Delhi. Reverting to the high growth rate of nine per cent, the Minister added, "calls for imparting fresh momentum to the impressive recovery gained in the past few months".
Although India's growth story is going through "exciting phase", Mukherjee said, the country has challenges which are needed to be addressed.

Bangladesh government barred AC use from 6pm to 11pm
Dhaka, 30 March : The government has directed all households, public and private offices, businesses, shopping malls and shops in city to keep their air conditioners switched off from 6:00pm to 11:00pm until further notice.
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Syed Yusuf Hossain announced the order with immediate effect at a press conference at the commission’s conference room on Tuesday. The authorities also decided to disconnect the electricity connections if any consumer was found defiant to the order. Hospitals, hotels and restaurants will remain outside the purview of the order.
The BERC chairman also asked the consumers to keep the air conditioner temperature below 25 centigrade during off peak hours. He said the decisions were taken to reduce strain on electricity and ensure uninterrupted power supply during boro farming and SSC examinations. Photo : Anisur Rahman

3 water jet fast attack crafts launched in GRSE, Kolkata
Kolkata, 30 March : Three exclusive combat ships, known as water jet fast attack crafts (WJFACs), were launched for the Indian Navy by the Ministry of Defence managed Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE) at its Rajabagan Dockyard near Kolkata.
The three WJFACs will join the Southern Naval Command fleet for both coastal and high seas patroling. The crafts have been christened INS Kabra, INS Koswari and INS Karuva after the names of picturesque islands in the Arabian Sea.

War crimes trial : Bangladesh drops lawmakers from panel
Dhaka, 30 March : The Bangladesh government has dropped two ruling party lawmakers from a panel of public prosecutors aiding the "war crimes trial" to avoid criticism of the process being considered partisan.
Nurul Islam Sujon and Sanjida Khanam were dropped from the twelve-member prosecution team as questions regarding their eligibility had been raised. Both are lawyers and lawmakers of the ruling Awami League, a media report said. The change was made barely three days into announcement of the panel of prosecutors for the trial of those alleged to have killed unarmed civilians in the run-up to the 1971 freedom movement. "We have taken the decision, so no controversy may arise," said Law Minister Shafique Ahmed who is piloting the trial process.
Ahmed said the investigation team aiding the tribunal has been tasked with studying the International Crimes Tribunal (Act) 1973 and the 1971 government gazettes.

Maoists again kill villager at Salboni in W Midnapore district
Midnapore, 30 March : In yet another killing in the 'jangalmahal' area, suspected Maoists today shot dead a villager at Salboni in West Midnapore district.
The body of Binod Mahato was recovered by joint security personnel from Kalsibhanga jungle, with his hands tied to the back side and bullet holes in head, police said. Mahato had earlier received threats from Maoists who accused him of being a police informer, police said.

I refused to be a party slave : Kabir Suman
Kolkata, 30 March : A day after expressing a desire to quit the Trinamool Congress and the Lok Sabha, singer-turned-parliamentarian Kabir Suman Tuesday said he took the decision as he refused to be a slave of the party.
"I am not a party slave. I am an elected people's representative. I have not been elected by the party. I can only be a slave of the people," an angry Suman told a media meet here. The popular singer-poet said the party had no business to dictate to him about how he should spend his MPS' local area development fund (MPLAD). "They don't have any right to dictate to me. Only the people can, because it is their money. The administrative officials like the district magistrate are there to supervise it. The government accounts people are there to see whether the money is being utilised properly," he said.
"Some party leaders only tried to put obstacles in my efforts to implement development projects. I was told 'you don't have to do anything, you should only sign the files'," he added.
Assam opposition stages sit-in against Tarun Gogoi govt
PTI, Guwahati, 30 March : A day after it accused the ruling Congress of indulging in horse-trading during Friday's Rajya Sabha election, the Opposition today staged a peaceful sit-in demanding dismissal of the Tarun Gogoi government.
Almost the entire Opposition sat with placards at the main entrance of the Assam assembly as soon as the House assembled in the morning. Some of the placards read: 'Save democracy', 'Democracy has been murdered', 'Chief minister Tarun Gogoi resign', 'Dismiss Tarun Gogoi government', 'Disqualify the dissident MLAs'.
Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench ready, waits for High Court’s nod
Jalpaiguri, Kolkata, 30 March : The Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench of the Kolkata High Court is ready for inauguration and awaiting a nod from the HC to start functioning, state’s Judicial Department Minister Rabilal Moitra said in the Assembly, on Monday.
“We have already completed the infrastructural work for the Circuit Bench. But the High Court is yet to give the required nod for commencement of work,” Moitra said, adding the state government has even appointed the required employees. Earlier, a High Court team had visited the premises and identified 15 lapses. The government refurbished the building as per the HC report. “I had a discussion with the Chief Justice who will visit the place once again,” Moitra said.
Debaprasad Roy, Congress MLA from Jalpaiguri, said he had received a letter from Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily on the proposed Circuit Bench that said the opening of the Bench could be announced if the Kolkata High Court gave its nod.

Nagaland's legislators resolve to meet underground leaders
PTI, Kohima, 30 March : The Joint Parliamentary Working Committee (JPWC) of Nagaland Assembly has resolved to meet leaders of different underground groups for consultation to find a 'common Naga voice' towards finding a lasting settlement to the vexed political conflict.
At a meeting chaired by speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie on Monday, the committee members discussed the current Naga peace process and adopted a few resolutions asserting that as elected representatives of the people they should facilitate the talks between the Centre and the underground groups. The resolution, signed by Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and opposition leader Tokheho Yepthomi, said the meeting welcomed the efforts of the UPA government and the NSCN in resuming the political dialogue.

UK visa application centre in Chittagong closed from 1April
UNB, Dhaka, 30 March : The UK Border Agency on Tuesday announced closure of the UK visa application centre in Chittagong with effect from 1 April (Thursday).
All the customers in Chittagong have been requested to apply for the UK visas at the visa application centres in Dhaka or Sylhet, said a press release. Full contact details and addresses for both visa application centres are to be found on the VFS website:
www.vfs-uk-bd.com. The VFS office in Chittagong will continue to provide UK visa application forms and information.
Dolphin habitat in coastal rivers : Six species in Sundarbans
UNB, Bagerhat, 30 March : A dolphin habitat has been located in the coastal rivers of the Sundarbans and swatch of no-ground areas of the Bay of Bengal.
At least six species of dolphin and a species of porpoise move around there safely as water and environment of rivers of the world's largest mangrove forest are suitable for dolphins. This was revealed in the report of a survey jointly conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project (BCDP). Fifteen experts led by wildlife expert Brian D Smith of the US-based WCS carried out the survey.
Jahangir Alam, BCDP coordinator and researcher, told UNB recently that they found 225 Gangetic river dolphins, 6,000 irrawady dolphins, over 1,000 bottlenose dolphins, about 1,400 finless porpoises, and significant number of Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphins, Pan-tropical spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins in the Sundarbans and adjacent water bodies and swatch no-ground areas. Besides, they found several Bryde's whales and a dead sperm whale during the observation, he said.
Jahangir said dolphins move around mostly in the rivers of Dhangmari, Chandpai, Andharmanik, Dudhmukhi, Betmore and Patakata of the Sundarbans East Zone under Khulna and Bagerhat districts. Dolphins are also seen in the rivers of southern region, including Brahmaputra, Jamuna, Meghna, Karnaphuli and Sangu rivers.