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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Opposition parties 36 hours 'Hartal' hits Bangladesh, Many hurt

Anis Ahmed, Ruma Paul, Reuters, Dhaka, 12 June : A general strike called by opposition parties on Sunday over election procedures disrupted transport and businesses across Bangladesh and sparked clashes with security forces.
Opposition leaders said over 100 of their followers were injured in clashes with law enforcers, and around 150 others, including two former ministers, were detained. Most businesses in the capital Dhaka were shuttered at the beginning of the 36-hour stoppage and public transport was virtually at a standstill, though trains continued to run.
Armed police and members of the elite Rapid Action Battalion fanned out in Dhaka and in the port city of Chittagong, guarding key government buildings. Clashes broke out between police and activists at nearly a dozen places including Dhaka and Chittagong. In coastal Bhola district, activists attacked several buses operating in defiance of the strike.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia said police broke up attempts to stage demonstrations and many of its leaders were rounded up and detained. "It seems like we are in a forbidden city," BNP secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told party workers.
Politics in impoverished Bangladesh has been dominated for decades by often violent rivalry between Khaleda Zia and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Sheikh Hasina took office in early 2009 and general elections are due in 2013 as the government grapples with discontent over high prices, high unemployment and inadequate public services.
The BNP called Sunday's strike, the second in a week, to denounce a government proposal to rescind constitutional provisions under which government is temporarily handed to a non-party administration before an election.
Under the system, in place since 1996, the ruling party hands power to a non-party caretaker authority which must oversee an election within three months. Power is then handed back to the newly-elected government. But in 2007, an army-backed interim government held on to power for two years before holding an election.
Sheikh Hasina has called for the abolition of the system since the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional last month. But the court also said the system could remain in place for two more elections to avoid the political turmoil and violence associated with campaigns that prompted its introduction in the first place.
The BNP and allies want the caretaker system to stay unchanged to guard against what it says would be an attempt by the prime minister's Awami League party to steal the election. The Awami League dismisses the opposition charges.
Analysts said the conflicting stance of Hasina and Khaleda over the issue could lead the country back to turmoil and disrupt an uneasy political lull existing for years. Photos : Pavel Rahaman, Munir uz Zaman

Singur, Nandigram proved costly but Left still relevant: CPM
IANS, Hyderabad, 12 June : The CPI(M) Sunday admitted that mistakes on Singur and Nandigram led to its 'big' defeat in the West Bengal assembly polls but did not agree that the Left has become irrelevant politically.
The central committee of the party, which concluded its two-day meeting here, reviewed the election results in West Bengal and Kerala. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters Sunday evening that the prolonged rule of the Left Front for 34 years in West Bengal led to accumulation of some negative factors
'Notwithstanding the big achievements of the Left Front governments over the last three decades, there were shortcomings and weaknesses in some of the policies and measures adopted for the welfare of the people. The mistakes with regard to Singur and Nandigram proved costly,' said a statement issued by the party.
The review also identified the organisational defects and shortcomings which have alienated various sections of the people.
The central committee did not agree that the electoral defeat in West Bengal has rendered the CPI(M) and the Left politically irrelevant.
'There has been unity from extreme right to extreme left forged under the TMC (Trinamool Congress) combine. It also had its impact on our performance,' asserted Karat. He pointed out that since May 2009 till assembly elections, 388 Left Front and CPI(M) activists were killed, a large number of them by Maoists. Photo : PTI

Congress launches campaign, takes on Ramdev, Anna,BJP
Kolkata, 12 June : Senior Congress leader and Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today hit out at Anna Hazare and Ramdev over the civil society's anti-corruption movement, accusing them of undermining democratic institutions and did not spare the BJP either.
Mukherjee while announcing Congress' plans to launch a nationwide anti-corruption campaign took on BJP saying it was backing Hazare and Ramdev to gain support of people after its debacle in the recent Assembly polls and accused the party of providing "logistical support" to their agitations and resorting to "unconstitutional practice".
"The Constitution has given the power to legislate only to Parliament and the state Assemblies. If 5,000 or 6,000 people dictate from outside what the Parliament ought to do, this will weaken democracy," he told a press conference. The campaign is seen as a bid by Congress to counter the movement by Hazare and Ramdev. Photo : PTI

Fake currency of Rs four lakh seized at Malda Rail station
Malda, 12 June : Fake currency with face value of Rs four lakh was seized tonight from Malda Town railway station, GRP sources said.
GRP personnel noticed a youth moving suspiciously on platform no. five at about 9pm and chased him. The youth left his bag and fled. The bag was found to be containing fake currency with face value of Rs four lakh. All the notes were in the denomination of Rs 500, the sources said.

Parliament begins debate on revised budget for fiscal '10-11
UNB, Sangsad Bhaban, 12 June : Bangladesh Parliament today (Sunday) began general debate on the revised budget of Tk 1,30,019 crore for fiscal 2010-11 which will end on 30 June.
However, the debate was virtually a one-way show without the absence of opposition from the House.

Trinamool Congress not to "ally' with Congress in Tripura
Agartala, 12 June : Trinamool Congress will not form any alliance with the main opposition Congress in Tripura to fight against the Left Front government, party leaders said in Agartala on Sunday.
"Congress has no reliability in Tripura. People also have no confidence with the party. Their internal feud is never-ending," Tripura Trinamool leader Manik Deb told reporters in Agartala.
'During the previous elections, Congress told the people that they are comning to power, but they failed miserably. Trinamool Congress on its own strength will come to power in the 2013 assembly polls,' Manik Deb also said. According to Deb, many Congress leaders, former ministers and legistors are willing to join the Trinamool after the West Bengal poll verdict.
"We would accept those Congress leaders into Trinamool Congress who has clean image and are dedicated to work for the people," party leader Arun Chandra Bhowmik said. Over 1,000 Congress and other party members have joined Trinamool Congress in Tripura after the West Bengal assembly election results in May, he added.
The Congress has, however, rejected the Trinamool accusation. "It would help the ruling Left Front if the opposition parties do not form any alliance or do not fight unitedly against the Left parties," Congress spokesman Tapas Dey told reporters. "Congress is the main political force in Tripura. How can the smaller parties ignore the Congress," Dey also asked.
Congress Sunday organised a day-long sit-in across Tripura to protest the alleged 'misrule of the Left Front government.' File Photo
Four pilgrims from West Bengal killed in Uttaranchal state
PTI, Dehra Dun, 12 June : Four pilgrims from West Bengal undertaking Chardham yatra were killed and three others injured when a tree fell on their mini-bus at Raiwala area near here in Uttaranchal today, police said.
The incident occurred this morning when the tree was uprooted during a squall and fell on the vehicle which was on way to Garhwal region, they said. All the four died on the spot and included two brothers - Dipesh Samanta (37), Dipendu Samanta (42) and Dipendu's wife Pampa (38) and Pradip Manna (40), police said. They were all residents of Singur area of Hooghly district in West Bengal, they said adding that the injured have been admitted to a nearby hospital.

1-H Rhino killed by poachers in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Guwahati, 12 June : Suspected poachers shot dead a one-horned male rhino in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, officials said.
The rhino was shot at from a .303 pistol by a gang of poachers at around 2.30am and they escaped with the prized horn of the endangered species, they said. This is the first instance of poaching in the Park, located about 52 km from Guwahati, which boasts of the highest density of rhinos in the world.
Vote Sundarbans, urges B'desh Environment, Forests Min
UNB, Dhaka, 12 June : Bangladesh State Minister for Environment and Forests Dr Hasan Mahmud on Sunday urged the countrymen to vote Sundarbans into one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the world.
He made the call at a press conference at his Secretariat office in the morning after a meeting with Seven Wonders Foundation director Jean Paul de la Fuente.
Dr Mahmud said the Sundarbans is taking 2-5 places in the list of the World`s Natural Seven Wonders and we have no alternative to up publicity in favour of Sundarbans in order to provide vote for the largest mangrove forest in the region.
He informed that the voting period in electing natural 7 wonders will be concluded in November. ``I am requesting all to vote Sundarbans through SMS or internet within November``.
Dr Mahmud also informed that Bangladesh and India has been continuing publicity respectively to elect the Sundarbans as a 7 wonders and India will arrange a mega cultural program involving Indian top celebrities in this regards.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

10 Buses burnt in Dhaka,RAB guarding street in combat fashion

UNB, Dhaka, 11 June : Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and riot police were guarding the streets in the capital as pre-hartal violence marked by burning buses seemingly marred the normal life late Saturday afternoon.
Police and fire brigade sources confirmed that at least 10 vehicles, including passenger buses, auto rickshaws and yellow cabs, were burnt in different parts of the capital since Saturday afternoon to 10:00pm allegedly by hartal activists to create panic among the city dwellers and force them to stay inside. Fire Brigade sources said 10 vehicles were set to afire at Motijheel, Chawkbazar, Agargaon, Pallabi, Bangla College, Badda and Kakrail areas in between 1:30 pm to 10 pm.
Opposition BNP and its allies including Jamaat-e-Islami called for 36-hour marathon hartal across the country from Sunday morning to protest the government move to cancel the system of non-party caretaker government to oversee the general elections. The shutdown was also called to protest the price-hike of essentials, deteriorating law and order situation and the government’s failure to resolve gas-electricity-water crises and its failure to make the share market stable.
Witnesses said most private buses and cars went off the streets after the burning of buses in the afternoon. RAB and riot police in combat fashion either took positions at different strategic points or patrolling the streets in a bid to maintain order. Police said so far 54 pro-hartal activists were arrested from different parts in the capital including Ramna, Tajgaon, Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Adabar, Shahbagh and Sabujbagh areas and punished them with one month to three months in jail on charge of ‘obstructing police duty.’
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has alleged that police have started searching and raiding the houses of BNP leaders and workers across the country. He claimed more than 100 opposition leaders and workers were arrested till Saturday afternoon.
The 36-hour shutdown would be the first of its kind by the opposition party against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s two and a half years old government. Sunday-Monday hartal comes within a week as BNP enforced the last hartal on 5 June on the same issue. File Photos : AP

Mamta's cabinet to meet on Monday to discuss Singur 'bill'
Kolkata, 11 June : The West Bengal state cabinet will meet on 13 June to discuss the Singur 'Bill' before it is tabled in the Assembly, with the draft submitted to the Chief Minister's Office today, state Law Minister Maloy Ghatak told Bengal Newz over phone.
The Bill, being prepared by the Industry Department, would seek to revoke the lease agreement between the Tatas and WBIDC by virtue of which nearly 1,000 acre would be reclaimed by the state at Singur, the site of the abandoned Tata Motors Nano project.

UNFPA approved Bangladesh's $70 M Country Programme
Dhaka, 11 June : A country programme for Bangladesh has been considered and approved today during the Executive Board meeting of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The purpose of the programme is to continue UNFPA's work in the areas of population development, reproductive health and gender equality, according to a release of Bangladesh Permanent Mission in New York.
The programme will focus on reducing inequalities, improving health human resources, improving the quality of emergency obstetric care and providing youth friendly services. It is based on the situation analysis, the programme evaluation and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), 2012-2016.
The approved country programme is $70 million, of which $40 million from regular budget. This is in line with the Bangladesh government's commitment to double the percentage of skilled birth attendance, reduce the rate of adolescent pregnancies and to halve the unmet need for family planning by 2015.
The USA, Sweden and Tanzania appreciated the work being done in Bangladeshand reiterated their support for the country programme. The US delegate stressed the need to work with vulnerable groups such as commercial sex workers and drug users in order to tackle the problem of HIV/AIDS. Sweden emphasized the need to involve all stakeholders to be more effective.

Grenade explodes in front of Assam Rifle unit in Meghalaya
Shillong, 11 June : A grenade blast occurred in front of the main gate of an Assam Rifles unit here today but there was no casualty.
An Assam Rifles spokesman said a 42-year-old civilian, apparently in inebriated condition, allegedly lobbed the grenade at a drain in front of the unit gate located at Madanriting in the city this evening.

Let black money flow : Dhaka Stock Exchange's chief Rizvi
Dhaka, 11 June : Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) wants the provision to legalise black money to stay for the companies listed in the share market.
“The opportunity to invest unaccounted income in government treasury bonds should be given to the companies listed in the share market,” DSE president Shakil Rizvi told a post-budget press conference on Saturday.

73,000 villages to have banking facility by 2012: FM Pranab
Raghunathganj, 11 June : Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said 73,000 villages in the country would have banking facility by next year.
"By 31 March, 2012, banking facility will be available in 73,000 villages across the country going by the current pace of work," Mukherjee said after inaugurating a Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch at Talai under Raghunathganj police station area in Murshidabad district.
Mukherjee said the government wants to enable every citizen of the country to avail banking facility in future. He said Talai was among the 117 villages of the country to have been chosen by the PNB to mark its 117th year, where branches were being set up and local development projects undertaken.
Pranab Mukherjee also inaugurated an agri-training centre in the village and hoped it would help farmers acquire modern farming skills for better yield.

PM Hasina inaugurates two power plants at Meghanaghat
UNB, Narayanganj, 11 June : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated a 100 MW furnace oil-fired Quick Rental Power Plant at Meghnaghat today.
She also laid the foundation of a 335-MW duel-fuel combined cycle power plant at the same place. Hasina inaugurated the 25.17 MW captive power plant, set up by Everest Power Generation Company, a sister concern of Meghna Group.

It's a good decision : Min Pranab on the bill on Singur land
Kolkata, 11 June : Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today made light of the criticism being faced by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for first announcing an ordinance and then saying a bill would be moved in the assembly to reclaim the 400 acre at Singur.
"So what? It's a good decision," Mukherjee told reporters in reply to a question before leaving for his Jangipur Lok Sabha constituency in Murshidabad district.

Khaplang issues counter expulsions, splits in NSCN group
PTI, Kohima, 11 June : Two days after his expulsion from Khole-Kitovi group of NSCN, its former chairman has come up with counter-expulsion orders against senior functionaries of GPRN/NSCN terming it as an "unification group", indicating further splits in the Naga insurgent outfit.
Using the nomenclature of National Socialist Council of Nagaland and addressing himself as its chairman, S S Khaplang yesterday issued two expulsion orders -- one for general secretary N Kitovi Zhimomi and the other for 'kilo kilonser' (home minister) Azheto Chophy and six other functionaries of GPRN/NSCN.
The expulsion orders, issued to the media through P Tikhak who termed himself as "spokesperson of NSCN(K)," described the expelled functionaries as "members of the unification camp" and said they were expelled for their "anti-party activities".

Monsoon likely to advance to Indian North-east in two days
Kolkata, 11 June : Conditions are favourable for the Southwest Monsoon to advance to the northeast and some parts of north Bengal in the next two days, the weathermen said today.
Director of the regional meteorological centre G C Debnath told Bengal Newz that radar watch of the monsoon current confirmed the existence of favourable conditions for its advance to the northeast and north Bengal.
Thereafter, Debnath said, the flow would somewhat weaken causing delay in its arrival in eastern India. However, good rainfall activity will continue along the west coast and northeastern states.

Manipur fixes urea price at Rs 400 per Bag to help farmers
PTI, Imphal, 11 June : In a move to help farmers, Manipur government has decided to provide them urea at Rs 400 per bag of 50 kg, official sources said today.
The decision to reduce the price from about Rs 600 per bag was taken during a cabinet meeting presided over by the Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh yesterday, sources said. The amount of Rs 2 crores, sanctioned by the state cabinet, would be used in giving subsidy to 10,000 metric tonnes of urea to ensure urea to farmers at Rs 400 per bag, the sourced added.

Amitav Ghosh comes out with second of his Ibis Trilogy...
PTI, New Delhi, 11 June : The Ibis after its tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean to the Mauritius Islands has now moved to Canton in China in a fascinating build-up to the Opium Wars.
Three years after the internationally-acclaimed beginning to his masterful epic, the Ibis Trilogy with the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted "Sea of Poppies", author Amitav Ghosh returns with another engrossing novel depicting the further adventures of those aboard the Ibis.
"River of Smoke" is second of the trilogy of Ibis, is published by Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin.
In September 1838, a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, having a motley array of sailors and stowaways, convicts and indentured labourers and moving from Kolkata to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared - two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers.


Friday, June 10, 2011

BNP announces countrywide 36 hrs 'Hartal' from Sunday on CG

Dhaka, 10 June : Bangladesh's opposition BNP on Friday announced a 36 hours countrywide hartal from 6am (BDST) on Sunday protesting the government’s move to scrap the caretaker government system from Constitution.
The hartal was also called protesting the government’s move to delete the phrase "absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah" from constitution and abolish the provision of maintaining good relation with the Muslim world from the Constitution.
The other issues include price hike of essentials, deteriorating law and order situation and the government’s failure to resolve gas-electricity-water crises and its failure to make the share market stable.
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced the 36 hour hartal programme at a press conference at the party’s central office at Nayapaltan at 11:30am (BDST).
The 36 hours hartal would be the first of its kind by BNP against the AL government during its two and half years tenure. All the last five hartals enforced by BNP were daylong hartals. File Photo

Singur Ordinance replaced with Bill, govt advances session
PTI, Kolkata, 10 June : In the wake of the opposition CPI(M)'s objection, West Bengal government today decided that it would place a bill in the Assembly next week, instead of the ordinance it had promulgated earlier, to reclaim 400 acres land at the abandoned site of Tata Motors in Singur.
Speaker of the assembly Biman Bandyopadhyay told PTI that a instead of the ordinance promulgated yesterday, a bill would be placed in the Assembly to reclaim 400 acres land and return it to unwilling farmers of Singur. The move came on a day when a Left delegation led by leader of the opposition Dr Surya Kanta Mishra met governor M K Narayanan and said it would not be proper to promulgate an ordinance when the assembly was in session.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said only one bill would be passed in the ''new session'' and that was in the interest of the helpless farmers of Singur. The first session of the newly-elected West Bengal assembly has been advanced by 12 days to enable the government to adopt the bill on Singur land.
The session would now start on 13 June instead of 24 June, assembly secretariat sources said. "It will be a totally new session of the House.... we attach utmost significance to the people of Singur who are in distress having lost their land. We can''t waste valuable time and therefore the date of House session has been advanced," she told reporters at the Writers Buildings.
Mamata Banerjee yesterday announced promulgation of the ordinance, signed by Governor M K Narayanan, for reclaiming 400 acres of land at Singur. File Photo
PM urges to keep essential prices stable ahead of Ramadan
Dhaka, 10 June : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the businessmen to keep prices of essentials within the reach of the commoners and market stable during the coming holy month of Ramadan.
Prime Minister made the call at a meeting with the businessmen at her official residence Ganobhaban on Friday night. Following the Prime Minister’s call, the businessmen promised to keep the market prices within the reach of the people during the Ramadan.

Work on 2nd rail link to Bangladesh to start soon in Tripura
Agartala, 10 June : India will construct an 18-km-long railway line at a cost of Rs 267 crore to connect Agartala with Akhaura via Gangasagar in Bangladesh, a top railway official said today.
B N Rajsekhar, additional member of the Indian Railway Board, said here that the project, second after the Kolkata-Dhaka line, would be completed in two and a half years.
A six-member delegation, led by Rajsekhar, yesterday saw the alignment of the railway line and gave a final nod to it.
Rajsekhar said the project was held up for a long time and got a fresh lease of life only after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi last year.
"Two months ago the Planning Commission had asked the Railway Board to finalise the alignment of the railway," he said. Photos : Parthajit Dutta
IIP growth plunges to 6.3%, FM Pranab finds it "disturbing"
PTI, New Delhi, 10 June : Industrial output growth in India plunged to 6.3% in April due to a dismal show by manufacturing and mining sectors, which prompted the government to term the situation as disturbing.
According to the government data with base year of 2004-05, the factory output in 2010-11, as measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is higher at 8.2%. This prompted Chief Economic Adviser Dr Kaushik Basu to suggest that growth numbers for 2010-11 may be revised upwards from the provisional 8.5%.
Prop. tax rate at source on export to hinder growth : FBCCI
Dhaka, 10 June : Expressing a mixed reaction on proposed budget for next fiscal, FBCCI president AK Azad on Friday said it reflected government’s sincere efforts for a growth, industry and business-friendly budget, but industrialization will be impeded if their proposals are not accepted.
“We welcome the budget… though it lacks specific guidelines in some areas. We’ll soon sit with the government for discussion. If our proposals are not accepted, industrialization will be impeded,” he said adding that there is no specific guideline to encourage private sector.
The president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry came up with the observation at a press conference at the FBCCI conference room to give the apex trade body’s official reaction over the proposed budget for fiscal 20111-12. Photo : Nashirul Islam

Climate change to have large-scale effect on NE biodiversity
PTI, Guwahati, 10 June : The impact of climate change is likely to result in large-scale changes in the biodiversity of the Northeast, a study has revealed.
The study, sponsored by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), has warned that change in temperature and quantum and intensity of rainfall coupled with extreme weather conditions would have a long-term impact, particularly on the structure and composition of forests in the region.
The impact is likely to be more severe in areas where other pressures are deemed to be high, including stability of the natural systems affected due to socio-economic pressures such as encroachment on forest areas, over-grazing, felling of trees for jhum cultivation, etc.
With the impact not being uniform across the region, it is expected to be higher in certain areas and on certain communities because of various factors.
They include physio-geographic and topographic features, degree of association with climate-sensitive environments and ecosystems, socio-economic, political and cultural characteristics of the region and communities, the study pointed out.
The study seeks to understand the factors that determine the vulnerability of the Northeast in terms of the effect of the climatic change and identify measures to reduce the impact.
The study asserted that despite its rich natural resources, the region lagged behind others in terms of social and economic development.

CPI-M leaders slams Government ordinance on Singur land
Kolkata, 10 June : Opposition CPI(M) today criticised promulgation of ordinance by the West Bengal government for reclaiming 400 acres land at the abandoned site of the Tata Motors in Singur, saying an ordinance could not be passed when the Assembly was in session.
"Assembly session was on. Assembly was not prorogued. When assembly session was on, ordinance cannot be promulgated," leader of opposition Dr Surya Kanta Mishra said commenting on the ordinance. Similar voice was also raised by the former speaker of state Assembly Hasim Abdul Halim.
An estimated over 70,000 children infected with HIV in India
PTI, Kolkata, 10 June : An estimated 70,000 children are infected with HIV in India and the ailment is caused to most of them by parent-to-child-transmission (PTCT), according to a recent finding by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
Participants of a UNICEF-state AIDS Prevention and Control Society seminar here said, quoting NACO estimates, that a small proportion of these children are infected by unsafe injections and blood transfusions.
"UNICEF supports the government in its effort to halt and reverse the HIV/AIDS outbreak in India to reduce the transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their children," the country chief of UNICEF, HIV and AIDS, Ivonne Camaroni told PTI on the sidelines of the seminar yesterday.
With 21,000 children infected every year through PTCT, the UNICEF wanted to provide strategic supplies of drugs and commodities, improve the capacity of staff by developing innovative communication approaches for prevention and care and helping to improve monitoring and reporting systems.
The possible factors behind infection of children were mother-to-child transmission, blood transfusion and HIV positive mothers not having availed prevention facility during pregnancy, Camaroni said.
Total 49 illegal firearms seized in West Midnapore district
Medinipur, 10 June : A total of 49 illegal firearms were recovered from the house of a CPI(M) leader and a place near the riverbank at West Midnapore district, police said.
According to police, 15 illegal rifles were seized from an well of the local CPI(M) leader Nandulal Pal at Manidaha village in the district headquarters town here. Police also recovered illegal guns from the char of the Kansabati river.
ULFA, govt resolve to stay away from violence: Tarun Gogoi
PTI, Guwahati, 10 June : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said that though there was no official declaration of ceasefire with the banned ULFA, the government and the militant outfit have decided to use restraint and refrain from violence when the peace talks have been continuing.
"There is no official declaration of ceasefire, but the government and ULFA led by pro-talk chief Arabindo Rajkhowa have decided to refrain from violence," Gogoi said in his first press conference after assuming office for the third consecutive term. He said efforts have been on to bring ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, known for his anti-talks stance, into the discussion table.

Women’ home resembles inferno: Minister to suspend chief
Special Report , Malda, 10 June : The missing of an inmate from the women’s home in Malda under the social welfare department has bared its inferno like state and the inhuman environment amidst which 26 inmates mostly minor are spending the days under inexplicable agony. The state women and child and social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra was speechless seeing the abominable condition of the home during her visit after learning from sources that the missing girl might have been fallen a prey of trafficking.
It was seen that all the inmates were accommodated in a single room. There was no adequate cot nor did the cots have at least a bed sheet. The helpless inmates are compelled to lie on the bare cots. The inmates of different ages have been put together without paying least heed to the psychological effect. Even the mentally challenged inmates are put with the other inmates and those poor girls receive no special care from the home authorities as was visible during the minister’s visit.

They were made sit like cows on the bare cots before the minister decided to visit the home. Their mute faces were expressive of mixed feelings fear and helplessness, agony and emptiness. It was hard to believe that the socially abused or immorally trafficked women could be accommodated in such a mean environment. “Instead of providing solace, such an environment would rather perish their mental state further,” said Dr C Roy, a psychiatrist.
“We are subjected to all sorts of torture here. We are beaten so brutally that we have lost the words to protest,” said Sunita (name changed) a Hindi speaking inmate aged around 15 years. While Sunita was narrating before Bengal Newz the tortures incurred upon them allegedly by the super of the home, another minor inmate was reminding her by pinching about the probable dire consequence.
Rama Ghoshal (name changed) said: “I cannot tell you who torture us here but once you leave, our agony would be doubled and we would be beaten from pillar to post for yawning our mouths.” Rama was visibly fumbling while her friends sat bowing their faces.
Another inmate whispered: “We are served scanty amount of food and if we protest, they would tease us initially and later the torture would begin. In the same breath she said: “The super of the home punishes us physically if we protest against her dictatorship.”
A former employee, who was removed by the super of the home said on the condition of anonymity: “I apprehend the some of the inmates were forced to indulge in flesh trade.” “The super receives salary for her job and collects rent as the home is lodged at her building,” she said.
The entire scenario prevailed in the home was enough for any person with minimum intelligence the abhorrent state of the inmates. In response of the minister’s pertinent question, the accused super was trying to hide her faults feebly and thereby exposing herself all the more. Minister Sabitri Mitra said: “I have understood everything and I would take stern action against the home authorities including suspension after I go Kolkata.” Photos : Uday Mondal


Thursday, June 9, 2011

WB government passes ordinance to reclaim part of Singur land

Ritwik Mukherjee, Kolkata, 9 June : The West Bengal government on Thursday passed an ordinance for reclaiming 400 acres of land at Tata Motors’ abandoned site at Singur, which in turn will be returned to farmers who were not willing to part with it.
The state government also announced that it was ready to pay compensation to Tata Motors through a court-appointed arbitrator if the Tatas wanted to move out of the remaining 600 acres in the same compound. According to state government officials, this was a prelude to the amendment to the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, which the state government was planning to introduce during the ensuing session of the assembly.
“Since the state assembly is not in session, we have promulgated the ordinance. Later, we will take clearance from the assembly,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said. The ordinance, signed by governor MK Narayanan, is a government decree issued as a stop-gap arrangement before a proper law can be passed by the legislature. Most ordinances are valid for six months, after which they have to be either re-issued or endorsed by the legislature.
The chief minister said the ordinance would be placed in the next session of assembly, and said, “It is a historic day for the people of Singur.” However, a Tata Motors spokesperson said, “We are not aware of such a development and we do not want to make any comment unless we have studied the ordinance.”
The chief minister on her part said the remaining 600 acres would be kept open for industry and added that Tatas could set up industry if they wanted. "If they (Tata) demand compensation without going in for industry on this 600 acres, we will give them compensation through legal means by appointing an arbitrator," she added. File Photos : Reuters

Bangladesh budget takes aim at energy shortages, poverty
Ruma Paul, Reuters, Dhaka, 9 June : Bangladesh's government unveiled a budget for fiscal 2011-12 year on Thursday which increases spending on key sectors by nearly a third to tackle power shortages which are curbing growth and deterring investment.
Spending on key development needs such as power and transport will increase by 31 percent from this fiscal year to 460 billion taka ($6.3 billion), of which 60 percent would be provided by the government and the rest by overseas lenders, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith told parliament as he presented the 1.6 trillion taka ($22 billion) budget.
Overall spending will increase 23 percent in the year from 1 July to 1.6 trillion taka, he said. The government aims to cap its deficit at 5 percent of gross domestic product in 2011-12, up from a revised 4.4 pct of GDP in 2010-11.
It is targeting a 27 percent rise in tax revenue to 1.18 trillion taka in the coming fiscal year, largely due to improvements in tax collection and crackdowns on evasion.
Bangladesh aims to bolster economic growth to a record 7 percent in the coming year, from 6.7 percent targeted in 2010/11, and expects inflation to ease slightly to 7.5 percent against a revised target of 8 percent this year, he said.
Price pressures are a major concern for the government as nearly 40 percent of the country's more than 150 million people live on less than $1.25 a day.... READ MORE

Opposition CPI-M slams WB govt ordinance on Singur land
Kolkata, 9 June : Opposition CPI(M) today criticised promulgation of ordinance by the West Bengal government for reclaiming 400 acres land at the abandoned site of the Tata Motors in Singur, saying an ordinance could not be passed when the Assembly was in session.
"Assembly session was on. Assembly was not prorogued. When assembly session was on, ordinance cannot be promulgated," leader of opposition Surya Kanta Mishra said commenting on the ordinance. Similar voice was also raised by the former speaker of state Assembly Hasim Abdul Halim.

BNP, its allies likely to simultaneously call hartal next week
UNB, Dhaka, 9 June : BNP and it’s alliance partners are likely to again simultaneously call hartal next week (Sunday or Monday) on caretaker government issue and amendment of the constitution.
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia Wednesday night held meeting with partners of the four-party alliance to discuss the next course of action.
Before meeting with the alliance leaders she had a meeting with her party’s standing committee, BNP’s highest policy making body.
A leader of the four-party alliance told UNB that they have decided in principle to call hartal and it would be announced on Friday.
He further said the duration and date will be finalized today (Thursday) after reviewing the national budget. He hinted the hartal may be called on Sunday or Monday.
On 5 June BNP and partners of the four-party alliance Jamaat, BJP and Khelafat Majlish called countrywide dawn to dusk hartal against the govenrment move to cancel caretaker government provision embodied in the constitution.

Tripura police launches action against eve-tease of Agartala
Agartala, 9 June : The Tripura police has launched a special operation against eve teasers of Agartala city under project 'Prayaas', an initiative of people-friendly policing.
According to a report, a police team headed by Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Princee Rani conducted a special drive in different places of Agartala town against the eve-teasers and arrested six in front of MTB Girls’ and BK Girls’ Higher Secondary schools yesterday. Earlier, as many as 11 eve-teasers and, 45 others involved in various criminal activities, were arrested from here in separate raids, police said.

West Bengal govt to clear land for 'K Nazrul Islam Memorial'
Kolkata, 9 June : The West Bengal government will clear encroachers from a plot of land which was meant for setting up a memorial of rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave an assurance in this regard to the poet's granddaughter Khilkhil Kazi when she called on her Thursday at the secretariat.
Khilkhil said that the plot, in the city's Kestopur area, was given to her grandfather by the United Front government. The land is now illegally occupied.
"We have the documents relating to the land. The occupants are not willing to vacate it. We requested the chief minister to see that the land is freed and a Nazrul Centre is set up there. The chief minister has said steps will be taken after examination of the documents," Khilkhil said.

West Bengal govt stops research trial of "Transgenic Rice"
Kolkata, 9 June : The West Bengal government today ordered to stop research trial of transgenic rice that started in March this year.
Briefing reporters here, state Environment Minister Dr Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar said the isolation distance for the transgenic research trial was normally 300 metres from normal paddy fields.
However, in this case the isolation distance was 10 metres.
The botany department of Calcutta University was conducting the research trial at Rice Research Station at Chinsurah in the state.
Dr Ghosh Dastidar said an expert panel would be formed to study the matter and the government would look forward to the suggestions made by the panel.
He said cultivation of transgenic seeds was bio-hazardous and could threaten food security.

Maradona to receive invitation for Kolkata's friendly match
New Delhi, 9 June : Football legend Diego Maradona will be accorded a special invitation for Argentina's international friendly against Venezuela, scheduled to be held at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on 2 September.
"We will be inviting Maradona. I will try and meet him when I go to Argentina during the Copa America next month," said Bhaswar Goswami, chief of Celebrity Management Group (CMG), the firm who bought the hosting rights of the match from Argentina Football Association.

Former Chief Minister Buddhadeb to skip politburo meeting
Kolkata, 9 June : Former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will stay away from the CPI(M) politburo meeting beginning in Hyderabad tomorrow, apparently to avoid discussions on party's debacle in the Assembly polls in the state.
Party sources said Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is a member of the Politburo, would also not attend the central committee meeting on 11and 12 June. Bhattacharjee had skipped the last politburo meeting in Delhi on 15 May. In recent past too, he did not attend some crucial meetings of the party citing certain grounds.

Silk with Singapore Airlines offers daily flights from Kolkata
Kolkata, 9 June : Silk Air, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines (SIA), together with the parent airline would operate daily flights from Kolkata to Singapore from 1 August.
Announcing this here today, Silk Air chief executive Marvin Tan said that together with SIA's three weekly flights to Kolkata, the two airlines would now operate seven round-trip services per week. The all-inclusive round-trip fare from Kolkata to Singapore would be Rs 14,999 per passenger by both the airlines, which was against about Rs 21,000 by SIA at present.
This has been possible as Silk Air has agreed to operate four-times-weekly services from Kolkata to Singapore from 1 August.
The SIA flights would be on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, while Silk Air would operate its flights on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, Tan said.

ONGC on big exploration drive for gas extraction in Tripura
PTI, Agartala, 9 June : ONGC has launched a massive exploration drive for gas extraction in Tripura to meet the requirement of 726 MW gas-based thermal power project at Palatana in South Tripura, which is scheduled to start power generation by December 2012, official sources said today.
Recently, company director U N Bose had reviewed the progress of activities and visited the Palatana project site. The company has set a target to produce six million metric standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) of gas by 2012, to meet the requirements of the project and has also decided to drill two more gas well within the stipulated time (2012). Last year, ONGC had discovered two major gas wells.
ONGC-Tripura Power Corporation (OTPC) is trying to install heavy equipments for the 726 MW mega thermal power plant at Palatana despite heavy rains and communication bottlenecks, sources said.
Two makeshift bridges, commonly known as bypass, which were built on the rivers Hawra in Agartala and Gomati in South Tripura district, were washed away due to heavy rains last week, creating bottlenecks for transportation of the turbines and heavy equipments to the project site.
Due to the collapse of the bridges, transportation of 280 tonne turbine has became difficult but ONGC is trying to rebuild the bridges before the monsoon sets in, in order to start generation by the end of December 2012, sources said.
The initially estimated project cost of nearly Rs 8,000 crore has already gone up to Rs 9,000 crore because of the delay, sources added. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone for the project in 2005.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

PM Hasina invites Khaleda Zia to help figure out caretaker issue

UNB, Sangsad Bhaban, Dhaka, 8 June : In a significant political overture, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday in Parliament invited opposition leader Khaleda Zia to sit together and help figure out what is to be done to resolve the dispute over the system of caretaker government.
In a soul-searching retrospection, Hasina wanted to know from her arch political opponent as to why she is trying to heat up the political situation and at whose instance.
The Leader of the House was giving reply to the supplementary question of independent lawmaker Mohammad Fazlul Azim (Noakhali-6).
Making a flashback on the ordeal the opposition leader and she herself had to face including going to jail during the previous army-backed caretaker government, the Prime Minister asked Khaleda as to why she would give them a second chance taking advantage of the rule by the caretaker government.
“They (force behind the last caretaker government), came to the power on the pretext of the caretaker government. They will come to the power and label us as corrupt and thief, it cannot be acceptable. Let us sit together and do everything on our own,” she said.... READ MORE

West Bengal government to recruit 46,000 primary teachers
Kolkata, 8 June : The West Bengal government today decided to recruit 46,000 primary teachers to improve the school education system, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
"We have decided to appoint 46,000 teachers in primary schools. This has been done with the approval of the finance department," Mamata told after a cabinet meeting. She said that 10% of the recruitment will be made from the state Primary Teachers Training Institutes and para-teachers.

Economist Kumar appointed advisor for Human Dev Report
PTI, Gangtok, 8 June : Development economist A K Shiva Kumar has been appointed as an advisor by the Sikkim Government for formulating the second State Human Development Report.
Kumar, who is a development economist and adviser to the UNICEF- India, teaches economics and public policy at Harvard University''s Kennedy School of Government. He works on issues of poverty, health, nutrition, education along with women and children rights. He is also a founding member of the International Development Evaluation Association, officials said.

"Int’l initiative could bring permanent solution to Rohingya"
UNB, Dhaka, 8 June : Food and Disaster Management Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque Wednesday sought US support to permanent solution to the Rohinga issue, which has put burden on Bangladesh’s resources.
“It’s (Rohingya issue) now turned into an international problem. It has a political perspective too. An international-level proactive role could help bring permanent solution to the issue,” Razzaque told reporters at his ministry after meeting with US Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Eric Schwartz.
US Deputy Under-Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Kelly Clements and US Ambassador in Bangladesh James F Moriarty were present at the meeting.
Razzque said the western countriers should play more proactive role in resolving the Rohingya problems by sending them back to their homeland or through proper rehabilitation.
“Due to the presence of Rohingya, burden is gradually increasing on resources of Cox’s Bazar and it has been creating many social problems,” he said.
The Minister said though Bangladesh is a poor country with vast population, the government has been helping the refugees over the years.
There are some 24,000 registered Rohingyas while the number of unregistered Rohingyas is over 2 lakh living in different parts of the country.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Darjeeling issue settled, claims chief minister Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata, 7 June : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that the 15-year-old Darjeeling issue was “settled” but the GJM was mum on whether there was any decision on its original demand for a Gorkhaland state.
“Today is a historic day. The Darjeeling issue which has been lingering for a long period is settled at the official-level talks. I have informed Union Home Minister P Chidambaram,” Mamata Banerjee told reporters at the Writers’ Buildings.
Asked about the ‘magic formula’ that clinched the agreement, Mamata Banerjee, who had earlier stated that she would solve the Darjeeling problem within three months, said, “It is our heart and good intention. The magic formula for reaching this agreement is development.”
Noting that Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh would announce details of the nitty gritties, she said, “I have asked him to talk to the Centre so that the agreement can be formalised at Darjeeling where I will be present.” Asked if a financial package will be given to Darjeeling, she retorted, “Shall I attend a wedding without a gift? We love the people of Darjeeling.”
Later GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told reporters that transfer of ‘tauji’ or the right over tea gardens and resolution of the problem of casual employees of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council were reached at the meeting. Asked about the GJM’s original demand for Gorkhaland, Roshan Giri declined to comment. File Photos : AFP, Avijit Mondal

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao calls on Dipu Moni
Dhaka, 7 June : Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao called on Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni at the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tarek Karim, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Raji Mitter and high officials were present. Both the Foreign Secretaries explained to the Foreign Minister on the outcome of the consultations which covered the whole gamut of bilateral relations.

Argentine Football superstar to play in Kolkata and Dhaka
Kolkata, 7 June : Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi and his teammates are playing a FIFA official international friendly against Venezuela at Salt Lake's Yuba Bharati Krirangan on 2 September. The official confirmation came on Monday when Celebrity Management Group along with the state government, All India Football Federation and Indian Football Association made an announcement.
“The Argentina Football Association had indeed signed a contract to bring in the full-strength squad including Messi and Carlos Tevez among others. So the contract guarantees their participation," said Bhaswar Goswami of CMG. The city-based sports management firm that had earlier brought football legend Diego Maradona in 2008 would also organise another international friendly match between Argentina and Nigeria in Dhaka on 6 September.
“We were given the match in condition that we have to buy another. We did not think twice and bought both the matches just to make Messi play in Kolkata," Bhaswar Goswami said. Giving brief details about the itinerary, he said Messi and Co. would stay here for four days, beginning 30 August. Tickets are to start from Rs 1,000. File Photo : AFP

Tripura' iconic Communist figure Baidyanath Majumder dies
IANS, Agartala, 7 June : Baidyanath Majumder, an iconic Communist father figure of Tripura, died here early Tuesday. He was 88. His death was condoled by politicians cutting across party lines.
The last of Tripura's first generation Left leaders, he breathed his last at the Gobinda Ballabh Pant Medical College and Hospital here, senior physician Pradip Bhowmik told reporters Tuesday. Majumder suffered multiple brain strokes, chronic liver disease and septicemia besides other old age ailments.
A bachelor, he had a simple lifestyle and perfect political career. Majumder was regarded by all, irrespective of their political ideology. 'With the death of this legendary Communist, we have lost a real guardian,' Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said.
'Majumder was a real political monk in India. He was a role model for present generation politicians for his supreme honesty and undemanding life,' said veteran Congress leader Tapas Dey.
Popularly known as Baidyanath Da and also Sital Da, he was elected to the state assembly five times between 1977 and 1998.
CPI(M) leader Badal Chaudhury, Bijon Dhar and leaders from various parties lines expressed grief over his death. It was in the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) that Majumder began his political career in 1942 and got the party membership the next year.
In 1993, Majumder, also a firebrand trade union leader, was inducted as the member of the CPI(M)'s central committee and became secretary of the party's Tripura unit in 1998. One of the founding members of the Communist movement in Left-ruled Tripura, Majumder supervised various portfolios in the state for several years and was the deputy chief minister of Tripura from 1993 to 1998.
Guided by legendary Communist leader and former Tripura chief minister Nripen Chakraborty, a maverick, he spent more than five years in different periods in different jails in India, including the Tihar jail in Delhi and the Hazaribagh jail in Jharkhand.
Baidyanath Babu was the fourth son of Bijoy Chandra Majumder and Sunitibala Devi. He was fluent in several languages, including Hindi and tribal language Kokborok.

Ershad to support BD govt in abolition of caretaker system
UNB, Dhaka, 7 June : Bangladesh Jatiya Party chairman H M Ershad would stand by the government in its venture to scrap the system of caretaker government but not oppose keeping it if the grand alliance wants.
The assurance from Ershad, a partner of the Awami League led grand alliance, came when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her parliament office this evening.
Sources close to the meeting said during the hour-long meeting from 7 pm (BDST) Hasina referred to Supreme Court verdict on the caretaker system. She told the JP chief that caretaker government system should not stay anymore.
About the observation of the court Hasina said the system could be kept for the next two elections, but the immediate past Chief Justice could not be made the chief adviser of the caretaker government.
The Prime Minister said alternative to the caretaker government system can be initiated by anyone in parliament.

Four people killed and 10 injured in Tangail road accidents
UNB, Tangail, 7 June : Four people were killed and 10 others injured in three separate road accidents in the district early Tuesday.
Two people were killed and 10 others injured in a head-on collision between a bus and a truck at Kandila in sadar upazila on Dhaka-Tangail highway early in the morning.

West Bengal minister visits Amlasole village for first time
PTI, Jhargram, 7 June : The Sabars and Bhumijs of Amlasole village, which hit the national headlines in 2004 following four starvation deaths, were surprised when a West Bengal minister dropped in for the first time in many years.
West Bengal Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriya Mullick found that the villagers did not have ration or BPL cards and no irrigation facilities were there for the small quantity of paddy grown.
Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriya Mullick, who yesterday visited the village, surrounded by the Dalma range in remote and difficult terrain in West Midnapore district, told reporters that many of the villagers did not have ration or BPL cards.
The minister found that the nearest ration shop was three kilometre away and announced that a ration shop would be set up at Amlasole so that villagers did not have to trek three kilometre to Kankrajhore to buy essentials. Photos : Mitul Das
Monsoon may be delayed in West Bengal: Alipur Met office
Kolkata, 7 June : The monsoon which arrives in West Bengal between 8 June and 12 may be delayed this year with the temperature today hovering between 37 degrees and 39 degrees celsius.
The humid and sultry conditions, which have added to the discomfort, would continue for some more days since rainy conditions have not yet fully developed, an official of the Regional Meteorological Centre said.
To a question, the weatherman said thundery conditions with isolated rain might develop.
Meanwhile, eight students of the Bidya Bharati Institution here were hospitalised after they became unconscious while rehearsing for a programme in the heat outside.
Guardians alleged that students were made to rehearse in the open for at least four hours each day in the heat, however school authorities were unavailable for comment. File Photo : Reuters

Third new Air Conditioned rake of Kolkata Metro Rail arrives
Kolkata, 7 June : The third violet coloured air conditioned rake for the Kolkata Metro Rail arrived at Noapara car shed here today fulfilling a long standing demand.
Manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Perambur, the new AC rake was claimed to befree from any technicalsnag. According to Metro Rail sources, the new AC rake would be commissioned sometimes next monthafter thorough checkup and trial run. Two more new AC rakes were expected to arrive hereby the end of July, the sources said, addingof 13 rakes to be delivered by next year, two prototype AC rakes had beeninto commercial services since October, 2010.
GM Ziaur Rahman shares fourth place in Indian chess meet
UNB, Dhaka, 7 June : Bangladeshi Grand Master Ziaur Rahman shared the 4th place in the International Grand Masters Chess Tournament that concluded on Monday in the Indian city of Bhubaneshwar.
He shared the 4th slot in the Indian chess meet along with 10 other players securing 7.5 points.
Two other Bangladeshi Grand Masters Niaz Murshed and Enamul Hossain Rajib shared the 5th place in the tournament along with 18 other players collecting seven points each.
Besides, Bangladeshi FM Mehedi Hasan bagged 6.5 points, FM Javed 6 points, IWM Rani Hamid, Siam and Sharif 5.5 points each, Hasan, Hafizul and Mokaddes bagged 5 points each, Joynal 4 points and Saif 3.5 points.
A total of 220 chess players, including 14 Grand Masters and 29 International Masters took part in the eleven-round Swiss League basis meet. File Photo