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Monday, August 16, 2010

30% less rainfall: 11 West Bengal dists identified as drought-hit

Kolkata, 16 August : The West Bengal government Monday identified 11 districts of the state as drought hit.
Announcing the decision after a high-level meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the state secretariat Writers' Buildings here, Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said these districts have received 30 percent less rainfall this year. The districts are Purulia, Bankura, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan, Hooghly, West Midnapore, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Nadia and Malda.
"We are giving total Rs.50 crore to these districts," Dasgupta said. The fund is to be used for repairing and redigging of tubewells and arranging of pumpsets. The chief minister is writing to union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to send a central team for assessing the situation in the 11 districts, he said. Agriculture Minister Naren De said paddy production in the state was 100 lakh tonnes last year, but had gone down by 27 lakh tonnes this year, due to drought. န A farmer plows a paddy field at Sonarpur in the outskirts of Kolkata. Photo : AFP

Tamang' murder main accused held
Darjeeling, 16 August : Nikal Tamang, one of the prime accused in the killing of Gorkha leader Madan Tamang, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, has been arrested by the West Bengal CID.
So far, ten people have been arrested. Nikal Tamang’s mobile was found from the murder site. Nikal is the member of the Central Committte of Gorka Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The FIRs have been registered against 23 people including the GJM President Bimal Gurung. The GJM has been accused of involvement in Madan Tamang's killing.
Gorkha leader Madan Tamang, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, was stabbed to death in Darjeeling on 21 May. File Photo
Agartala railway station to get 'Multi Functional Complex'
UNI, Agartala, 16 August : Indian Railway Ministry has decided to develop a Multi Functional Complex (MFC) at Agartala railway station, along with 92 others across the country.
Railway officials here today said the ministry had invited bids from private parties for development of MFCs in 93 beautiful stations of the country and Agartala was one of them for its aesthetic and natural splendour. The prospective partner would have to design, finance, construct, operate the market and maintain the MFCs at the stations where passengers would avail shopping, food marts and restaurants, book stalls, PCO booths, ATMs, medicine shops and variety stores.
Additionally, budget hotels, parking and other amenities would also be made available in the station complex, they said, adding that individuals or consortiums could bid for development and running of these MFCs.

Aasu critisises Jairam Rames's stand on mega dams proj
Guwahati, 16 August : Students body All Assam Students Union (Aasu) continues to criticise Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh for his stand on mega dams. It has accused Mr Ramesh of double standards pertaining to mega dam projects in Northeast.
According to Aasu, the expert committee constituted to study the downstream impact of the National Hydro electricity Power Corporation s (NHPC) 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric project in its report has recommended not to construct the mega dam at its present site.

Entire West Bengal under cloud of security threat : Sen
PTI, Kolkata, 16 August : Amid inputs that the Indian Mujahideen was trying to launch a possible attack on West Bengal, a top official today said the entire state is facing a security threat.
"The porous Bangladesh border is a serious security threat for West Bengal," state Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen said here and referred to inputs that the state was facing possible threats of attack by IM. Sen said the security position in Darjeeling was so delicate that it had the potential of disturbing harmony in many areas of north Bengal. "If the problem in Darjeeling was not resolved, then this may seriously disturb the co-existence of many tribes and castes living in areas in the north," he said at an interaction at the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce here.
Deccan Charters flights connects Kolkata and Jamshedpur
Kolkata, 16 August : Deccan Charters Ltd, general aviation services company, on Monday announced the commencement of three daily charter flights between Jamshedpur and Kolkata.
Deccans Charters will provide this service using a 19-seater turbo prop aircraft, between the cities of Kolkata and Jamshedpur. This initiative has been undertaken with an intention to provide much needed connectivity to India's first industrial city of Jamshedpur and provide impetus to the tourist inflow, said the airline. The service commenced with an inaugural flight on Monday with daily charter flights from Tuesday. The charter flights will run 6 days a week.
"This service aims at linking the people of Jamshedpur with the rest of the country in an effective manner. It will give the 'Steel City' immense support for further development and reiterate its presence on the country's air map," said Capt. G.R.Gopinath, Chairman of Deccan Charters Ltd.

BSF apprehends HUJI militant, seizes 151 cattle, boat
UNI, Shillong, 16 August : Indian BSF apprehended one Harkat-Ul-Jihad-Al Islami (HUJI) militant while he was trying to enter India from Bangladesh.
BSF sources said here today that on a specific information regarding the infiltration of the HUJI militant the troops laid an ambush and arrested the militant yesterday. He has been identified as Abdual Salam, resident of Ralakata village in Kurigram district of Bangladesh. One revolver, two mobile handsets and two SIM cards were seized from him, sources said. Besides, BSF troops (Assam and Meghalaya Frontier) in Dhubri district of Assam and hilly area of Meghalaya seized 151 cattle, one country-made boat and other contraband items while they were being smuggled out to Bangladesh. The estimated cost of the seized items was Rs 23,99,240.
Another key accused in Gyaneswari Exp mishap arrested
Jhargram, 16 August : Another key person allegedly involved in the 28 May Gyaneswari Exp derailment that claimed 148 lives was arrested today from a village in West Midnapore district, police said.
Lakshmikanta Ray, (42), whom CBI had named as one of the most wanted in the case and announced a reward of Rs 50,000 on his head, was picked up by the agency with the help of state police at Manikpur village in Jhargram police station area. Ray was involved in preparing the blueprint for the sabotage that caused the train derailment along with his accomplices, they said.

Bangladesh government seeks extradition of Mujib killers
IANS, Dhaka, 16 August : The Bangladesh government has asked countries, including India, where it suspects the killers of its founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman are hiding to track down and arrest the absconding men.
Dhaka suspects that at least two of them, former captain Abdul Majed and Risaldar Moslehuddin, are hiding in India and has written to New Delhi to seek their custody. "We have sought Indian assistance for tracking down and arrest the remaining killers... We asked India to return them if they really are staying there," Home Minister Sahara Khatun said.
Twelve Bangladesh Army officers were convicted for leading a putsch in which Rahman and most of his family members were killed 15 August, 1975. Five of the 12 convicts were hanged earlier this year. One of them has died while six are absconding.
Ruling Awami League general secretary and minister Syed Ashraful Islam told newspersons that the absconding killers "living particularly in western countries" could be extradited through court clearance from those countries.
A senior police official at the police headquarters told BSS, the official news agency last week, that ex-lieutenant colonel Khandaker Abdur Rashid was hiding in Libya and often travelled to Pakistan while S.H.B.M. Noor Chowdhury was in Canada but sometimes travelled to Britain. Ex-lieutenant colonel Shariful Haque Dalim is staying in Kenya and Rashed Chowdhury is in the US.

Ready for dialogue with HNLC : Meghalaya's CM Sangma
IANS, Shillong, 16 August : Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Monday welcomed the offer of political dialogue by the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and said his government was ready for talks to ensure lasting peace.
‘We welcome the gesture from the HNLC for a dialogue and my government will take keen interest to facilitate the dialogue to ensure lasting peace in the state,’ Sangma told IANS over telephone from New Delhi. HNLC General Secretary Cherishstarfield Thangkhiew Sunday offered to hold political dialogue with the government.
Transport workers' strike halts all Sirajganj bus routes
UNB, Sirajganj, 16 August : Bus transport on all Sirajganj routes remain suspended on Monday as transport workers stop working in protest of an assault on a worker and a demand for a ban on illegal three-wheeler vans.
Hundreds of passengers bound for Dhaka and districts of northern Bangladesh have had to face great misery as the union leaders and workers were also seen obstructing CNG-run auto rickshaws from plying on the roads. The local administration have yet not given them any assurances that their demands will be met, transportation leaders claimed.

Tea production in NE India to decline
IANS, Kolkata, 16 August : Heavy rainfall has taken serious toll on tea production in north India and the output may fall short of the 735 million kgs posted in 2009, the Indian Tea Association (ITA) said here Monday.
Production in Assam also declined in May and June this year due to a pest attack, ITA said in a statement. “The tea industry continues to see adverse weather and slow recovery of large areas in Assam which had been severely impacted due to Helopeltis pest attacks in the earlier months. July production - as revealed from quick estimates on the basis of reports from ITA members show a further decline of 2 million kgs during the month,” it said.
The crop situation particularly in Upper Assam (concentrated in the Doom Dooma area) has been severely affected with nearly all the major tea groups operating in that region namely Apeejay Tea, Assam Co, M.K. Shah Exports, McLeod Russell and Warren Tea reporting significantly lower production. “The decline of around 2 million kgs as reported by the membership of the ITA could translate to an overall decline in the north Indian crop by around 4/5 million kgs during the month.”
It is apprehended that with this decline and with the outlook in August also reportedly uneven - with poor weather persisting in several parts - it would be difficult to make up the already significant decline of 10 million kgs which has been registered to date in north India.