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23 Jul 2014

College and high school fees off

TT, Gangtok, July 22: Chief minister Pawan Chamling today said no fee would be charged in government schools and colleges from the academic session starting August 1.
Under the central Right to Education Act, children from six to 14 years are entitled to free schooling. This means from kindergarten to Class VIII, parents whose wards are in government schools in Sikkim did not have to pay any fees.
In Class IX and X, the annual fee was Rs 1,200, which worked out to Rs 100 a month. In Classes XI and XII, the fee was Rs 1,500 yearly.
Around 1.19 lakh students in schools and 7,000 in college are going to benefit from the announcement. Sikkim has five government colleges and 776 government schools.
Chamling’s announcement has come just after days of agitation by college students against rise in fees.
“I want to make education free for all students in Sikkim so that everyone gets an opportunity to go to school. Our government is determined to work in the field of education,” Chamling told a gathering at the inauguration of a building and an auditorium of Yangang Government Senior Secondary School in South Sikkim.
The chief minister said the semester fee of government colleges would be returned. “There are some students who have already paid the semester fees. I want to assure them that the government will return the fees very soon,” he said.
Some college students had already paid the hiked half-yearly fees ranging from Rs 1,200-1,700.
Chamling did not say anything on returning the annual school fees that are normally paid in February.
Last week, students of government colleges blocked NH10 demanding a rollback of the hiked semester fees. Later, the government relented.
Chamling’s announcement means the state government will have to take care of the electricity, water, and Internet bills and the maintenance of schools and colleges.
Earlier, the institutions paid for themselves from the money collected through admissions.
The HRD department gets Rs 90 per college student per semester.
The department does not get any money from the schools.
Today, without naming any political party, Chamling said: “There are few people who are playing politics on the pretext of helping students. I urge students to be alert about such forces and concentrate on studies.”
The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha has questioned the timing of the decision. “The decision of the government is in the interest of students but we would have been happier if the announcement had come much before the students’ protest,” party spokesperson Kunga Nima said.
Government schools and colleges were declared closed from July 15 to 23 following violence in Gangtok over college fee hike last week.
The reopening date has been extended.
Principal secretary of human resource development department and education secretary, Thomas Chandy, said: “Educational institutions will be open from August 1.”
Most private institutions in Sikkim are also following the government order.
The principal of Tashi Namgyal Academy, a private school in Gangtok, K.S. Heran said the institution would follow government order an it would re-open on August 1.
Sikkim Teachers’ Association, a government body for school teachers, has welcomed the government decision to waive off fees. “Fee will no longer be an issue when it comes to pursuing studies,” said a member of the body.
SP Transferred
East district superintendent of police Manoj Tewari has been transferred as SP vigilance, Gangtok, and West district SP D.B. Giri will take charge as the new East district chief from Wednesday. College students were demanding Tewari’s suspension after the alleged lathicharge on student last week.

Jumbos damage more than 50 quarters - Garden workers say no foresters came to drive away the herd

A circus elephant being taken from Batasia in Darjeeling to Chanchal in Maldaat Siliguri More in Raiganj.
Picture by Nantu Dey
TT, Siliguri, July 22: Two elephant herds of around 60 elephants entered Bamandanga-Tondu Tea Estate in Nagrakata block of Jalpaiguri early this morning and damaged more than 50 labour quarters and partially damaged the bungalows of the manager and assistant manager.
A boundary wall of the factory and a wall of the ration godown were also partially damaged. However, no one was injured.
According to a garden source, the elephant herds entered the tea estate from the adjoining Diana Forest and the Gorumara National Park.
“Around 3am, the elephant herds entered our estate. It was raining heavily and we could not realise that the animals had entered our quarters. However, as the elephants started ransacking our quarters, we could understand that many herds had entered the garden. We fled our homes with our families and took shelter in the garden factory,” said Kailash Gope, a garden worker.
It was later in the morning that the workers returned to their quarters, only to find that over 50 quarters, spread across seven labour colonies, had been completely damaged by the elephant herds.
Rajat Mahali, another worker of the estate, said the herds entered from different sides. “The herds entered from different directions, cordoned the estate and attacked our quarters,” said Mahali.
After damaging the quarters, some of the herd members also reached near the bungalows of management staff and the factory.
“The herd has damaged a boundary wall of the factory and a wall of the ration godown. Also, my bungalow and the assistant manager’s bungalow have been partially damaged. The elephants, after rampaging through the garden for over three hours, left around 6am. We have informed the forest department about the attack,” said Chandrashekhar Dubey, the manager of Bamandanga-Tondu.
A section of workers has blamed the forest department for not showing up despite repeated requests. “We had informed the forest officials immediately after the elephants had entered the garden. None of them, however, turned up to prevent the elephants from damaging our quarters and steer them back into the forest,” said a worker.
Forest officials in Jalpaiguri, said they lacked adequate staff.
“We lack enough staff members. Even then, we put in our best efforts and work round the clock to prevent elephant depredation. Our staff will inspect the affected quarters and in due course, appropriate compensation would be paid for the damage,” a senior forester said.

Suspected viral outbreak kills 106 - 40 patients in NBMCH under treatment for Japanese Encephalitis

The leader of the Opposition, Surjya Kanta Mishra, at NBMCH in Siliguri . Picture by Kundan Yolmo
TT, July 22: One patient who had tested positive for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and three with symptoms of the disease died in the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll across the region to 106 since January.
Since July 6, over 50 people have died in north Bengal’s biggest government hospital, of which 22 were confirmed patients of Japanese Encephalitis.
According to hospital sources, most of the patients were from Jalpaiguri district, but some had also come from treatment from the Darjeeling hills as well as neighbouring Bihar. The hospital was unable to give a precise break-up on where patients had come from.
“One person who had tested positive for Japanese Encephalitis and three others suspected to be suffering from the disease died at NBMCH in the past 24 hours,” said hospital superintendent Amarendranath Sarkar.
At present, 40 patients, among them seven children, are under treatment at the medical college with symptoms of the disease. “At least seven of them are in critical condition and three are on life support,” Sarkar said.
Two of the patients who died today were 57 years old and the two others were in their forties.
Manish Kakkar, a microbiologist and faculty member at the Public Health Foundation of India, said: “In northeastern India, a large proportion of JE patients are adults. This has been observed in the last few years.”
While Bengal is among states where the disease has been circulating over the past several years, public health experts are concerned about the emergence of a strain of the virus called genotype-1 in Bengal and other states.
The earlier strain of the virus circulating in JE-affected districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal was genotype-3. But the genotype-1 strain appears to have emerged the dominant strain.
“The emergence of this new strain raises issues of whether the currently-used JE vaccine is effective against genotype-1,” said Kakkar. All current vaccines against JE are based on genotype-3 strains.
JE outbreaks have claimed thousands of lives across India’s eastern states over the past decade. In 2006, the Union health ministry introduced a Chinese-made vaccine against JE, but encephalitis cases have continued, virtually unabated.
While JE is caused by a virus spread through mosquito bites, scientists with the National Institute of Virology, Pune, have in recent years also detected evidence of water-borne enteroviruses that can also cause encephalitis.
Public health specialists have in the past expressed concern that India’s poor health surveillance network and its inability to detect early warning signs of impending outbreaks are allowing infections to flare into outbreaks.
Yesterday, Biswaranjan Satpathy, the state director of health services, had said 102 people with Japanese Encephalitis symptoms had died in north Bengal since January. Of them, 21 were diagnosed with Japanese Encephalitis. With the deaths today, the overall toll climbed to 106, and the number of confirmed Japanese Encephalitis deaths to 22.
Today, an expert from the Pune-based National Institute of Virology arrived in Siliguri to take test samples from patients suspected to be suffering from JE.
“We will collect samples, visit some of the affected areas and talk to officials and doctors on the encephalitis outbreak. Various tests will be conducted on the samples and then. We will submit our report,” said B.V. Tandale, a scientist from the epidemiology department of the NIV.
He was accompanied by Rahul Jagtap, a technician at the Pune institute.
Hospital superintendent Sarkar said health authorities in all seven districts of north Bengal have been instructed to start awareness drives on preventive measures, particularly in rural and remote areas. “In most of the cases, patients have been late in starting medication, which is one of the reasons for the deaths,” he said.


22 Jul 2014

नेपाली भाषाको भाँडभैलोमा भाषाप्रेमीहरू मौन

डी के वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ 22 जुलाई 2014। नेपाली भाषाले भारतीय संविधानको आठौँ अनुसूचीमा मान्यता पाएको 22 वर्ष पुरा गर्न लाग्दा नेपाली भाषाको अवस्था भने दिन दिनै अवनतिको बाटोमा अग्रसर बन्दै गईरहेको छ। 
एक समय नेपाली भाषामा “पोलियो’को बिज्ञापन गलत छापिन्दा सबैतिर् बिरोध प्रदर्शन र धर्ना भएको थियो भने अहिलेघरी नेपाली पाठ्य पुस्तकमा नै गलत छापिन्दा समेत नेपाली भाषीहरू मौन बस्नु एउटा रहस्यकै बिषय बनेको छ। अरु तके नेपाली भाषा शिक्षक शिक्षिकाहरुलेनै नबोले कसले बोल्ने भनि पालो पर्खा पर्खी गरेको जस्तो पनि भान भएको छ। 
नेपाली भाषाको लापारवाहीको पोल यसपल्ट ‘पश्चिम बङ्गाल काउन्सिल अफ हायर सेकण्डरी एजुकेसन’ले प्रकाशित गरेको एघारौँ अनि बाह्रौँ श्रेणीको नेपाली पाठ्य पुस्तकले खोलीसकेको छ भने अर्कोतर्फ नेपाली भाषाकै चर्चित नेपाली दैनिकमा ‘जर्ज टेलिग्राफ’ले प्रकाशित गरेको बिज्ञापनमा नेपाली भाषाको अर्को लापरवाहीको पोल पनि खोलीदिएको छ। ‘
पश्चिम बङ्गाल काउन्सिल अफ हायर सेकण्डरी एजुकेसन’ले गत वर्ष 2013मा प्रकाशित गरेको एघारौँ अनि बाह्रौँ श्रेणीको आवरण पृष्ठमा नै गलत छापिएको छ। उक्त पुस्तक बिभागले 2013मा प्रकाशित गरेको हो भने यसवर्ष देखी एघारौँ अनि बाह्रौँ कक्षामा पठन पाठन शुरू भईसकेको छ। पुस्तकको आवरण पृष्ठमा एघारौँ श्रेणीको स्थानमा ‘एथारौँ’ अनि बाह्रौँको सट्टा ‘बाघ्रैँ’ लेखिएको छ। उक्त भूललाई ट्ङ्कन गलत भएको मान्न सकिन्छ भने ‘बोर्ड अफ स्टडीज इन नेपाली’का सदस्य उज्ज्वल बम्जनले प्रेसबाट गलत छापिएको स्पष्टिकरण दिईसकेका छन। यद्यपी उक्त भूलले पुस्तक प्रकाशन अघि यसको फाइनल प्रुफ या प्रिंट प्लेट्को‘सत्यता जाँच’ भने गरिएन ? भन्ने टट्कारो प्रश्न खडा भएको छ। 
यसका साथै पुस्तकको भित्री पातोमा उपन्यास ‘जुनेली रेखा’ को लेखक ‘प्रकाश कोविद’ लेखेर नेपाली भाषा माथीको लापरवाही सबैको अघि उघारिदिएको छ। नेपाली भाषाको लापरवाही नेपाली पाठ्य पुस्तकमा नै भईरहेको पोल खोलीएपछि यता चर्चित नेपाली दैनिक समाचार पत्रिकामा प्रकाशित ‘जर्ज टेलिग्राफ’को बिज्ञापनले नेपाली भाषीहरूलाई घात पुर्‍याईदिएको छ। 
“केन्द्रे र राज्ये को नया स्थायी सरकार देश मा पूरण करने चले 10,00,00, शून्यपद-सफलता की बयान्टि दे रहा है जर्जकी जीएससीई मा” चर्चित नेपाली दैनिकमा प्रकाशित बिज्ञापनको नेपाली रूप यस्तो छ। यसका साथै “सरकारि नौकरी को प्रशिक्षणमा जीएससीई सवसे पहले किउ हुनेछ” जस्ता नेपाली भाषाको प्रयोगले नेपाली भाषाकै खिल्ली उडाईरहेको छ। शब्दहरुको अर्थ समेत लगाउँन गाह्रो पर्ने उक्त बिज्ञापनमा अझ लेखिएको छ – “बिभिन्न प्रतियोगितामूलक परीक्षा के लिए साम्प्रातिक तथ्य सरवराह”। 
यस लगायत उक्त बिज्ञापनको अन्य भागहरुमा पनि नेपाली भाषाको लापरवाही प्रयोगले समाचार पत्रकै गरिमालाई समेत खिल्लि उडाएको छ। नेपाली भाषाको यस्तो लापरवाही प्रयोग हुँदा समेत नेपाली भाषा प्रेमीहरू मौनता साँचेर बस्नुको घट्नाले भाषा प्रेमीहरुको भाषा प्रेममाथी पनि शंका खडा भएको छ। “ज्यान दिन्छौँ प्राण दिन्छौँ नेपाली भाषा लिन्छौँ लिन्छौँ” स्लोगान लगाउँदै 36 वर्ष आन्दोलन गरेर आखिरमा संवैधानिक मान्यता प्राप्त गरे पछि नेपाली भाषाको अपेक्षाकृत बिकासको साटो अहिले बिनास नै भईरहेको छ। भाषा परिवर्तनशिल भएको कारण यसको स्वरूप पनि समय समयमा परिवर्तन हुने गर्छ। 
यसरी परिवर्तन हुने क्रममा नेपाली भाषाको स्वरूप भने नेपाली भाषीहरूले नै पढ्न समेत नसक्ने अवस्थामा पुग्दै गईरहेको छ। बिगतका दिनहरूमा नेपाली भाषा प्रेमीहरू भाषाको गलत प्रयोग हुँदा सडकमा निस्केर बिरोध गर्थे, धर्ना प्रदर्शन गर्थे। तर अहिले भने नेपाली भाषाको गलत प्रयोग मात्र होईन बुझ्नै नसक्ने गरी प्रयोग हुँदा समेत भाषा प्रेमीहरू मौन बस्नुको घट्नाले सबैलाई आश्चर्यचकित बनाईदिएको छ।

Ghisingh in Siliguri for check-up

HT, SILIGURI, 22 July 2014: The doctor who attended to Subash Ghisingh, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) president and the former chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, said on Monday that the veteran leader was okay and there was no reason for alarm. Dr Sandip Sen, however, recommended a few tests, including an ultrasonogram.
Ghisingh had left Darjeeling on Sunday evening, sparking speculation that he has once again left the Hills to settle down elsewhere. Some local dailies even went to the extent of saying that Ghisingh left the Hills after realising that he has become irrelevant in the region’s politics. The GNLF condemned such reports.
Mahindra Chettri, a senior GNLF leader, said, “Ghisingh is in Siliguri for a regular health check-up and will be back in Darjeeling soon.”
Sen said, “He (Ghisingh) has been asked to undergo some regular blood tests and a USG for his swollen feet.”
The GNLF chief, who was seriously ill in October, 2013, had not seen any doctor for the last four months. Sources said he had also suffered from a kidney infection.
Ghisingh’s departure from the Hills came two days after chief minister Mamata Banerjee had a one-on-one meeting with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling.

‘CM nervous about BJP’... CPM state secretary Biman Bose questions Mamata’s political morality

SNS, Kolkata, 21 July 2014: Responding to Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's trenchant attack on the BJP today, its state president Rahul Sinha said Miss Banerjee appeared to be visibly nervous about the BJP.
“The CM should have spared a thought what would happen after the state Assembly elections two years hence instead of predicting that the BJP won't get a single seat in the next parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held five years later,” Mr Sinha said.
He also questioned her secular credentials relating to her charge that the BJP was a communal outfit. “Miss Banerjee has insulted the nation's population as people cutting across the Hindu-Muslim divide have voted for the BJP. How should she be branded for ending her speech with the words “Khuda hafiz" and “Inshallah" to pamper Muslim voters today. Clad in a hizab, Miss Banerjee goes for namaz despite being a Hindu,” Mr Sinha said.
Taunting Miss Banerjee’s declaration that she would resume her painting and writing for mobilising election funds, Mr Sinha said: “I wonder how her paintings would fetch money with Kunal Ghosh, who reportedly arranged the sale of her paintings, and Saradha group chief Sudipto Sen, who reportedly purchased the paintings at a fabulous price, both being behind bars.” On the other hand, CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose, said party MLA Chhaya Doloi was ‘'forced' to join the Trinamul during the day. “The Trinamul put enormous pressure on her to desert our party,” he said.
‘'I would like to ask Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee what type of political morality it is to create such a situation for an MLA to leave her parent party and join another,” Mr Bose said.
“We have come to know that she was not allowed to attend her school and kept confined to her house. A situation was created to force Doloi to take such a decision,” he added.
‘'She (Trinamul chief) talks of ethics. But do you call it ethical to encourage or force anyone to leave their parent parties by holding out threats?” Mr Biman Bose asked.
Ridiculing Miss Banerjee's claim that she would take penal action against errant Trinamul leaders and workers, Mr Bose wondered: ‘'What action will she take ? This is nothing but cheap political statement at a public rally. Has she taken action against her party MP Tapas Paul for his depraved speech or against leaders like Anubrata Mondal or Manirul Islam ? She even warned of steps against financial irregularities .”
The CPI-M leader slammed the Chief Minister for her speech that she refused financial aid from outside to support her party's campaign expenses for the last Lok Sabha polls.
“She campaigned in helicopters but did not disclose who provided the funds for hiring helicopters. It was for sure that funds were made available to charter such flights,” Mr Biman Bose alleged.
“There was a huge enticement for the three Congress MLAs to defect to the Trinamul Congress,” PCC chief Adhir Chowdhury said today.

102 ‘encephalitis’ deaths in NB ring alarm bells

SNS, Siliguri, 21 July 2014: The director of health services (DHS), Biswaranjan Satpathy, today said 102 persons have died of the acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in seven districts of north Bengal so far this year (as of yesterday). He termed the outbreak as alarming as the number of persons who died of Japanese encephalitis (JE) was abnormally high than the usual rate and as compared at the national level.
Expressing concern over the increasing death rate, Mr Satpathy said the outbreak could take epidemic proportions in the region if it is not controlled immediately.
“The rate of JE is 20 to 25 percent on the total AES cases. We are just standing on the border line of an epidemic, because 24 per cent cases have been diagnosed as JE,” he told reporters here.
According to him, 344 cases were detected since January 2014 and of them, 83 have been diagnosed as JE. Of them, 21 persons died of JE, while of the 344 cases, 261 were termed as AES, and 81 persons died of this. Five more persons died of the AES in the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) today.
According to the DHS, 385 AES cases were detected in 2013, based on a report of the NBMCH, while 115 persons died, and five more died of JE. At the NBMCH, 36 persons died of AES between 7 July and 13 July, and 11 died between 14 July and 17 July. Two persons died of the AES on 18 July, three on 19 July and eight on 20 July. Mr Satpathy held a review meeting with top health officials, including chief medical officers of this region at Uttarkanya, the north Bengal branch secretariat, today. He visited the NBMCH after the meeting. Talking to reporters, Mr Satpathy said that the health department had detected AES and JE cases in this region since 2001 and had urged the Union government to set up a centre for testing the diseases.
“The NBMCH is the only testing centre for AES and JE in north Bengal, where testing began in December 2011. We used to depend on test reports from the National Institute of Virology in Pune earlier. Though we are planning to start AES and JE testing in the Malda Medical College and Hospital too, we are right now in no position to do so due to lack of experts there,” Mr Satpathy said. The malaria-prone Jalpaiguri district has been identified as badly affected by the AES and JE, and health officials detected some places of ‘transmission’ of the diseases in this district. According to the DHS, ‘fever clinics’ would be set up in six districts of north Bengal, except South Dinajpur, which is not affected so much.
In Jalpaiguri, such clinics will be set up at Dhupguri, Malbazar, Maynaguri and other affected areas. Health officials have been asked to conduct door-to-door screening for the AES, JE and Malaria virus. Mr Satpathy disclosed that his department is in no position to keep a close watch on water birds, but that it would continue surveillance on pigs which carry the AES and JE virus. “After returning to Kolkata, I will talk to the Animal Resources Department and launch a vaccination drive in piggeries if the civic bodies cannot shift the sties from localities,” he said. He further pointed out that the JE vaccination drive, which has started in AES and JE affected regions, covered part of the population. “But the positive sign is that vaccinated persons who were between 0 to 15 years of age were not affected so much this time,” he said.

Observers feel TMC may leave Darjeeling local polls to GJMM

SNS, Kurseong, 21 July 2014: To maintain a cordial relationship with the dominant party in the Hills, the Trinamul Congress is likely to leave the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) to have a say in the local polls in Darjeeling, observers in the Hills have said. Importantly, chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement she made at Chowrasta in Darjeeling on 17 July that she will not seek votes but people’s cooperation, is now being interpreted by observers as meaning that the Trinamul may not participate in the upcoming panchayat polls or any other local polls in the Hills. They also say that even if the TMC does take part in the polls, it may strike an alliance with the ruling GJMM.
The observers feel that earlier too, to make a cordial relationship with the GJMM, TMC candidates in the Hills, under the directives of Miss Banerjee, had withdrawn their nominations in the last minute in the first elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
“In a bid to have a good bonding with the hill dispensation, the TMC chief and the CM had sacrificed her party organization and that had left party activists in the Hills fuming. It was then that the GJMM was able to easily sideline other opposition party candidates had won all the 45 seats of the GTA,” an observer said.
The observers believe that the same scenario may repeat in the upcoming elections.
They further say that the frequent spat between the state government and the GJMM, and the Hill party’s move to support the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha elections have “mounted pressure” on the state government.
“As such, under these circumstances, the government is trying to find ways to keep the GJMM happy. Therefore, when the TMC has already tasted the election waters in Darjeeling even after fielding a candidate of the stature of Bhaichung Bhutia, the party knows that the GJMM should be left to fight the other elections, which will ultimately benefit the Hills and the TMC-led state government,” another observer said.
When asked, a senior Hill TMC leader, NB Khawas, however, said it is not election time at present, “and that is the reason why our chief said that she has not come here to ask for votes but as the chief minister of the state and also not as the TMC chief.” “When the time comes, we will, as members of the TMC, fight the elections,” he added.

MINIMUM WAGE ACT FOR TEA WORKERS Trade unions unite on demand

EOI, Darjeeling, 21 July 2014: Trade unions of the hills and plains comprising the United Tea Workers’ Forum, the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers and the Defence Committee for Plantation Workers’ Rights today united under a single platform to demand the implementation of the Minimum Wage Act in the region’s tea gardens and threatened to launch an agitation if the state government fails to take heed.
Twenty-one trade unions from the Darjeeling hills and the Terai and the Dooars barring those of the TMC and the GNLF convened a joint conference in Darjeeling that was a follow up of the June 21 meeting in Chalsa.
“There are myriad problems plaguing the tea industry, but the primary one is that of workers’ pay, which is out of sync with the present times. We have already held four bipartite and tripartite meetings with the state government and garden managements, but nothing has materialised so far,” said Zia-ul-Alam, general secretary of the CPM-affiliated Chia Kaman Majdoor Union.
The trade unions said they will hold gate meetings for an hour at their respective gardens on July 24 and 25 to press forward the demand.
“We hear that the fifth round of the talks has been postponed and we condemn this because it is part of the state government’s ploy to create friction between unions. If we don’t get a positive response from the state government after the gate meetings, we will be forced to take recourse to strikes,” threatened Alam, adding their demand will also be placed in Parliament through the respective parties of the trade unions.
Accusing the state government of aligning with the garden managements, the trade unions demanded theminimum wage be fixed on a systematic basis for all worker categories.
“After the deaths of workers due to starvation in six closed tea gardens, the state government has finally accepted gardens have problems. The state government must work for the “majdoor” and not the management,” said Alam.
He added, “A pattern has to be followed while fixing the wage of workers. We want a basic pay system along with VDA, which is presently not being followed.”
The unions want the basic wage of workers to be fixed at Rs322 per day with ration facilities unlike the negotiable Rs90 and Rs95 the hills and plains garden workers are getting at present, respectively. However, the TMC-affiliated
Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress wants the basic wage to be kept at Rs206.
“What the TMC trade union is demanding applies to the agriculture sector, but we fall under the industrial skilled sector and therefore, the rate of Rs206 cannot be applicable to us,” said PT Sherpa, president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labor Union.
Incidentally, INTTUC president Dola Sen on her maiden visit to Darjeeling on July 15 had made it clear that any rate above Rs206 may not be possible even as she admitted the amount was low. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently announced in Darjeeling the state government would give Rs1,500 to each worker of closed tea gardens till the time the gardens reopen.

Ghisingh leaves Darjeeling with son - GNLF leader out of hills unannounced

Vivek Chhetri, TT, , Darjeeling, July 20: Subash Ghisingh left Darjeeling unannounced this afternoon with his son, days after he directed his supporters to start rallies across the hills demanding revival of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council till a new administrative set-up under the Sixth Schedule was formed.
Sources said Ghisingh checked into a hotel in Bagdogra in Siliguri this evening and the GNLF chief is likely to leave for Delhi tomorrow.
Ghisingh, who was staying at his Dr Zakir Hussain Road residence in Darjeeling after his return to the hills on March 19, left with his son Mohan around 3.45pm today.
“Our leader keeps his cards close to his chest. There is word that he is going for treatment and he might also go to Delhi as we have started reviving our organisational activities because of specific reasons,” said M.G. Subba, convener of the GNLF Darjeeling branch committee. He, however, did not clarify the “reasons”.
Since July 5, GNLF supporters have been organising rallies across the hills every Saturday demanding revival of the DGHC till a new set-up under the Sixth Schedule was formed.
The rallies started after Ghisingh, who has spent almost three years in the plains, announced on his 80th birthday on June 22 that he was “not yet (politically) finished”.
During his absence, the party was mostly dormant. Political activities were revived only after Ghisingh decided to stay in Darjeeling.
The GNLF leader left Darjeeling for Jalpaiguri on July 26, 2008, after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha activist Pramila Sharma was killed by a bullet allegedly fired from the house of a GNLF leader in Darjeeling. Ghisingh returned to Darjeeling on April 8, 2011, to campaign for his candidates in the Assembly elections. All three GNLF contestants from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong lost.
Ghisingh decided to leave the hills on May 16, 2011, after Morcha activist Rabin Rai was killed allegedly by GNLF supporters in Sonada. On March 19 this year, when Ghisingh returned to Darjeeling, he told his supporters that he had come to stay permanently.
Soon after that, GNLF decided to support Trinamul candidate Bhaichung Bhutia from Darjeeling seat in the Lok Sabha elections. Bhutia lost to BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia who was backed by the Morcha.

सुभास घिसिङ सिलगड़ी जादैमाँ बिपक्षीले पहाड़ छोड़यो भन्नु उचित होइन् – मनि गुरुङ

राजेश शर्मा, कालिमन्युज, दार्जीलिग 21 जुलाई । दार्जीलिङको गोरामुमो प्रमुख सुवास धिसिङले आज पहाड़ छोड़ेको खबरले पहाड़मा हलचल मचिएको छ। तिनले आज दिउसो पहाड़ देखी मधेस प्रस्थान गरे पछी पहाड़मा रहेका गोरामुमो पार्टी समर्थकहरुको अनुहारमा निरासाको लहर छाएको वा दुखको लहर देखिएको छ । 
हालैमा भएको 16 औ लोकसभा चुनाउको समयमा गोरामुमो सुप्रीमो सुभाष घिसिङले पहाड़ चढेर दार्जीलिङ्को डा0 जाकिर हुसेन रोड स्थित आफ्नो निजि बासस्थानमा रहल समय् बिताउदै पार्टीमा राजनैतिक भूमिका पनि निभाउदै थिए अनि साथैमा गोरामुमो पार्टीको केन्द्रिय कार्यलय पनि स्थापित गरेका थिए । तर पहाडमा ममताको भ्रमण पश्चात ममता ब्यानर्जीले बिमल गुरुङसंग पुन: भेट गरे पछि पहाड़को राजनैतिक माहौलमा हलचल हुने संकेत आरम्भ भएको थियो। तर आज अचानक बेलुकी पख लग-लभ चार बजेतिर गोरामुमो प्रमुख सुभास घिसिङले दार्जीलिङको आफ्नो निजि बासस्थानदेखी दार्जीलिङ छोड़ेको खबर फैलन साथ विभिन्न प्रकारका अड्कल काटिएकोछ। 
यस सम्बन्धमा घिसिङ संग केही समयदेखी संगै बस्दै आएका मनि गुरुङसंग सम्पर्क गर्दा तिनले भने फैलिरहेका विभिन्न प्रकारका अफवाह पहाड़मा रहेको बिभिन्न राजनैतिक पार्टीहरुले बदनाम गर्ने प्रयास मात्र हो जब कि सुभास घिसिङ एक वृध्द अवस्थामा पुगेका मानिस हुन उनलाई घरि घरि डाक्टरी जाँचको आवस्यक पर्छ जसको निम्ति तिनी दार्जीलिङदेखी सिलगड़ी डाक्टर जाँचको निम्ति गएका हुन। तिनले भने अब सुभास घिसिङ्ले दार्जीलिङदेखी गाड़ी चड़ी हिड़दैमा यस्तो अफवाह फैलंन्छ भने गाडीमा हिड्दै नहिड़ुन पर्ने समय आएको रहेछ भनि तिनले भनि तिनले हास्दै उत्तर दिए। 
यसै सन्दर्भमा एक सुत्रबाट प्राप्त जानकारी अनुसार् सुभास घिसिङको बिमारको चिकित्सा कलकत्तामा चल्दैँ आइरहेको थियो यसैले तिनी चिकित्साको निम्ति कलकत्ता तिर लागेको हुन सक्ने अड़कल लगाइएको छ। तर अर्कोतिर बिमल गुरुङ अनि ममता ब्यानर्जीको बैठकले सुभाष घिसिहको मनमा हलचल मचाएकोत होइन् भन्ने प्रश्न पनि उठेकोछ ।
कतै बिमारीको चिकित्साको बहाना बनाई सुभास घिसिङ ममता ब्यानर्जीसंगै भेट गर्नको लागी हिडेका त होइनन भन्ने पनि प्रश्न उठेको छ । या त 16 औ लोक सभामा चुनाउमा सुभास घिसिङ्को पार्टी गोरामुमोले तृणमूललाई समर्थन दिएको थियो यसै सम्बन्धमा कतै ममताले नै घिसिङ्लाई बोलाएका होइनन भन्ने प्रश्नको चपेटमा पहाड़ गुंजन लागीरहेको छ ।

20 Jul 2014


Amitava Banerjee, HT, 20 July 2014, DARJEELING: Mamata Banerjee was in the mood to spoil herself sweet when she walked into Darjeeling’s favourite bakery shop, Glenary’s, on Friday evening.
The landmark eatery houses a confectionery, a coffee shop, a restaurant and a resto-bar.
“I couldn’t believe it when she arrived in her traditional white saree. She ordered cappuccino, black coffee and coconut macaroon for herself and the officers accompanying her,” said Ashok Tamang, who served the CM.
“Since it was late, we had run out of macaroons. So we suggested she try our plain cake,” he added.
Interestingly, the chief minister ran into singer and director Anjan Dutta there.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see the CM. She invited me for coffee. She had heard a lot about Glenary’s but never got a chance to visit it earlier. This time she made it a point to do so,” Dutta told HT.
The confectionery that was established in the early 1910s, was first named Vado, after its Italian owners. Later, a tie-up with Austro-Hungarian Adolph Pliva, led to it being re-christened the Vado-Plivas. After the Vados returned to Italy, it came to be known as the Plivas. In 1959, when the Pliva family left for England, AT Edwards, the manager of the confectionery, bought the property and renamed it Glenary’s, after the building that housed it.
Despite the continental restaurant, the confectionery with its authentic recipes, is the USP of the food joint.
Margarethe Pliva, then in her 80s, had reminisced in an article in 2001, “Plivas even produced its own brand of chocolates. It sold bread, confection, cold meat, icecream, and even a popular local delicacy called the camel hump.”
“I can swear by the banana walnut cake and the apple and meat pies. They don’t even taste so good in London,” vouched Anjan Dutta. The CM made sure she bought a packet of the world famous Darjeeling tea.
“She loved the flavour of the tea that was being served at the Richmond Hill Government Guest House and bought a packet of second flush muscatel tea. I feel privileged that she visited my store,” said Sailesh Sarda, proprietor, Nuthmulls, Sun Set Lounge, Darjeeling. The CM left the hill town on Saturday.

Climate Change: Will A Disaster Wake Us Up?

John Scales Avery, Countercurrents.org, KalimNews, 19 July, 2014: In a 2011 interview in The Guardian, Sir David Attenborough was asked: “What will it take to wake people up about climate change?”. He replied “Disaster. It's a terrible thing to say, isn't it? And even disaster doesn't always do it. I mean, goodness me, there have been disasters in North America, with hurricanes, and one thing and another, and floods; and still a lot of people would deny it, and say it's nothing to do with climate change. Well it visibly has to do with climate change!”
The disasters continue: In recent weeks the drought has deepened in the southwestern part of the United States, and it has reached completely unprecedented severity. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/ The drought will have consequences, not only for the United States, but also for people throughout the world who are dependent on exports of grain grown in that region. The pumping of water from the Ogallala Aquifer has traditionally been used to supply irrigation water to the region, but over the years, the aquifer has been seriously overdrawn, and soon it will be useless.
Throughout the world, water shortages produced by a combination of climate change and falling water tables threaten the food security of large portions of the world's population. At the same time, in other regions, climate change will produce more and more disastrous floods. http://www.countercurrents.org/cc170714.htm
But are these disasters enough to wake us up to the grave dangers of runaway climate change? Or are we so addicted to the use of fossil fuels that we cannot give them up?
Is there a difference in the attitudes of ordinary people and those of corporate-controlled governments? It is certain that the fossil fuel giants are determined to convert their coal, oil and gas holdings into cash. But ordinary citizens are more responsible, as was shone by the massive popular demonstrations at COP 15 in 2009.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited heads of state and governments to a 2014 Climate Summit, which will take place in New York on 23 September, 2014. Many thousands of ordinary people plan to march in New York on that day, to show their concern for the future of our planet, and to demonstrate how much they desire to give future generations of humans, animals and plants a world in which survival will be possible.
In order to prevent a tipping point, after which human efforts to prevent drastic temperature increases will become ineffective, it may be necessary for ordinary people to replace their oligarchic governments with true democracies

John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004.http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm. He can be reached at avery.john.s@gmail.com

Subrata Mukherjee admitted to clinic after asthma attack

SNS, KOLKATA/BAGDOGRA, 19 JULY: Minister for Panchayat and Rural Development, and Public Health and Engineering, Mr Subrata Mukherjee, who suffered a bronchial asthma attack in Darjeeling yesterday, was admitted to Belle Vue clinic after arriving in the city from north Bengal.
Medical tests are being done, said hospital sources.
Mr Mukherjee earlier in the day left Bagdogra for Kolkata along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. A senior cardiologist and one of his sisters also accompanied him in the flight, official sources said.
Mr Mukherjee was discharged from the Darjeeling district hospital today and brought to Bagdogra Airport in an ambulance, while two doctors and a nurse accompanied him in the Chief Minister’s convoy.
Miss Banerjee instructed officials to move slowly from Darjeeling to Bagdogra, while she was in constant touch with the officials about Mr Mukherjee’s health condition throughout the journey, sources said.
Mr Mukherjee boarded the flight on a wheelchair. The flight took off at around 4.45 pm.
Before leaving the Darjeeling hospital, Mr Mukherjee talked to his wife in Kolkata over telephone.
He also asked doctors to disconnect the oxygen supply on his way to Bagdogra, after he felt some comfort, officials said. However, while waiting for the flight in the first aid room at the Bagdogra Airport, he again felt uneasy and was administered oxygen immediately.
“He has chronic bronchial asthma. He fell ill in Darjeeling just after the end of the developmental meeting. He is now stable. A specialist doctor and a nurse have been asked to accompany him and they will take care of him in the flight,” said Darjeeling district chief medical officer (Health), Dr Subir Bhowmik.

Meet with Bimal Gurung positive: Mamata

Deep Gazmer,TNN | Jul 19, 2014, DARJEELING: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung held a closed-door meeting at the government guesthouse at Richmond Hill in Darjeeling on Friday.
The GJM president did not attend the CM's function at Chowrastha on Thursday. Neither did any of the senior party leaders, including the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabhasads.
After the meeting with the GJM chief, the CM said, "The meeting with Gurung was good and positive. However, he (Gurung) will not be able to attend the review meeting because of prior engagements." The GJM leader only said: "The meeting with the CM was good. I will not make any further comment."
After the review meeting held at the DM's office, the CM also termed it good. "We had a very good meeting with the GTA members and the municipality chairman and discussed in details how best to develop Darjeeling," she said, adding that the state would work in tandem with GTA. She also said henceforth review meetings would be held every six months.

Encephalitis spreading alarmingly... 47 deaths in last 11 days

EOI, SILIGURI/JALPAIGURI, 19 Jul 2014: The outbreak of Japanese encephalitis in Siliguri and parts of Jalpaiguri district is gradually taking the form of an epidemic. Experts from the School of Tropical Medicine, who today visited Jalpaiguri to inspect the infected areas, have directed the district health department to take specific measures to check the breeding of the culex mosquito, the vector of the fatal virus.
Domestic pigs and migratory birds are considered to be responsible for the spread of the virus. The experts suspect the culex mosquito, which breeds in stagnant water at pig firms and paddy fields, are more likely to carry the deadly virus. Nearly a hundred people have been suffering from encephalitis in various parts of Jalpaiguri district.
“Cases of encephalitis have been reported from various parts of the district. Most of those suffering are from interior areas of Nagrakata, Chamurchi, Banarhat, Moinaguri and Paharpur," Chief Medical Officer of Health of Jalpaiguri Jagannath Sarkar said. 
STM virology department head Nimai Bhattacharya said they expect the spread of the disease will be under control by September.
The deadly disease has already taken 47 lives in the last 11 days at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. NBMCH superintendent Dr Amarendranath Sarkar said, "So far 47 patients have died of Japanese encephalitis in the last 11 days. The patients were from Siliguri and adjoining districts of north Bengal and showed symptoms of encephalitis."
Another 36 patients have been admitted at the hospital and the condition of ten of them is been critical, he added.
Meanwhile, North Bengal Development Department minister Gautam Deb including CPM veteran Ashok Bhattacharya today visited the hospital to meet the patients and their relatives.
Speaking to the press later, Bhattacharya said he is strongly disappointed seeing the inadequate resources at the hospital. He alleged the state government has not taken proper measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
 Contrarily, Deb said the state government is committed to protect the people from the deadly disease and hence is undertaking various preventive measures under the guidance of experts.