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ON SALE
19 decimal private land with a House
at Sabitri Ghising Road, Bong Busty Kalimpong.
Single storied house has 3 Bedrooms,
Living room, Kitchen & Dining room,
3 Bathroom-cum-toilets
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18 Jul 2018

लिला कुमार गुरुङको स्थान्तरण पश्चिम बङ्गालको उच्च शिक्षा विभागले गरेको हो – विनय तामाङ

डी.के.वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ 17 जुलाई। कुमाई हाई स्कुलका शिक्षक लिला कुमार गुरुङलाई स्थान्तरण गरिएको घट्ना सम्बन्धि चलिरहेको विवादबारे जीटीए, बीओए अध्यक्ष विनय तामाङले आफ्नो स्पष्टिकरण दिएका छन्। कालेबुङ न्यायालयमा चलिरहेको मुद्दाको सुनवाईको क्रममा आफ्नो उपस्थिति दिन आइपुगेका तामाङले उक्त स्थान्तरण सेन्ट्रल स्कुल सर्भिस कमिशन कोलकोताबाट गरिएको स्पष्टिकरण दिएका छन्।

‘लिला गुरुङको स्थान्तरण जीटीएको शिक्षा विभागले गरेको होइन। उनको स्थान्तरण सेन्ट्रल स्कुल कमिशनले गरेको हो। यसकारण यसबारे कमिशनलाई नै सोध्नुपर्नेछ’ विनय तामाङले भने। यसक्रममा उनले गुरुङको स्थान्तरणलाई लिएर आफुलाई प्रश्न उठाइरहेको भन्दै यसबरे कमिशनले नै जवाब दिनेछ भनि अझ बताएका छन्। उनले लिला गुरुङको स्थान्तरण भएर विवाद बढेपछि आफुले पनि यसबारे छानबिन गरेको भन्दै छानबिन पछि उक्त स्थान्तरण पश्चिम बङ्गाल सरकारको उच्च शिक्षा विभागले गरेको थाह लागेको बताएका छन्।

अर्कोतर्फ केही दिन अघि गोरामुमो नेता सी.के प्रधान हत्याकाण्डको मुद्दा सीबीआई समक्ष उठाउने घोषणा गरेपछि के कस्ता प्रगति भइरहेको छ भनि प्रश्न गर्दा तामङले पीडित परिवार पक्षले न्याय पाउनुपर्छ भनेर आफुहरूले न्यायको निम्ति पहल गरिरहेको जानकारी दिएका छन्। सीके प्रधानको दिउँसै हत्या भएपनि आजसम्म पीडित परिवार पक्षले न्याय नपाउनु दुखद रहेको भन्दै यसबारे कानुनी प्रक्रिया हेरेर उचित पहल गरिने जानकारी दिएका छन्। जसको निम्ति परिवार पक्षसम्म पनि सम्पर्क गरिने उनले बताएका छन्। यसैक्रममा तामाङलाई यता निरज जिम्बाले लगाएका आरोपबारे प्रश्न गर्दा ‘सम्पूर्ण आरोपहरू निराधार हुन्’ भन्दै यसबारे केही टिप्पणी गर्न चाहन्न भनि बताएका छन्।
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विनय तामाङलाई न्यायलयले गर्‍यो आरोपमुक्त;... भने – ‘न्यायालयको सम्मान गर्दछु’

डी.के वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 17 जुलाई। दुईवटा भिन्न-भिन्नै मुद्दाहरूमा आज जीटीए बीओए अध्यक्ष विनय तामाङले कालेबुङ न्यायालयमा आफ्नो उपस्थिति दिएका छन्। उक्त दुईवटा मुद्दाहरू मध्ये एउटा मुद्दाबाट तामाङलाई न्यायालयले आरोप मुक्त गरेको छ भने अर्को मुद्दाको सुनवाई जारी रहेको छ।

छुट्टै राज्य गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनको समय राष्ट्रिय राजमार्ग 10 अन्तर्गत किर्ने नजिक एउटा वाहनमा आगो लगाइएको घट्नाको आरोपबाट जीटीए, बीओए अध्यक्ष विनय तामाङ मुक्त भएका छन्। सन् 2013 मा चलेको गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनको समय राष्ट्रिय राजमार्गमा एउटा वाहनमा आगो लगाइएको थियो। जसमा विनय तामाङलाई पुलिसले मुख्य आरोपित् बनाइएको थियो। उक्त घट्नाको आज कालेबुङ जुडिसियल म्याजिस्ट्रेट (प्रथम श्रेणी) असिमानन्द मण्डलको खण्डपिठमा सुनवाई भएको थियो। न्याधिशले तामाङलाई दोषी प्रमाणित नभएको कारण स-सम्मान छुटकारा दिँदै उनलाई आरोपमुक्त गरिएको छ। उक्त घट्नाको आरोपमा तामाङ विरुद्ध भारतीय दण्ड संहिताको धारा 147, 435 अनि आर डब्ल्यु सेक्सन 8(बी) सँगै राष्ट्रिय राजमार्ग बाधित बनाइएको विरुद्धमा मुद्दा दर्ता गरिएको थियो। अघिबाटै सुनवाई चलिरहेको उक्त मुद्दाको आज अन्तिम सुनवाई भएको हो। जहाँ तामाङ घट्नामा संलग्न नभएको कारण न्यायालयले स-सम्मान आरोप मुक्त गरेको छ।

अर्कोतर्फ कालेबुङ न्यायालयकै चिफ ज्युडिसियल म्याजिस्ट्रेट अघि पनि आज तामाङले अर्को मुद्दामा आफ्नो उपस्थिति दिएका छन्। तामाङ सँगै पूर्व सभासद सतिस पोख्रेल लगायत अन्य आरोपीहरू उक्त मुद्दाको सुनवाईमा उपस्थित बनेका थिए। सन् 2013 मा नै वर्तमान पर्याटन मन्त्री गौतम देवको कालेबुङ आगमनको समय गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनकारीहरूले उनलाई कालो झण्डा देखाएर विरोध गरेको आरोपमा तामाङसँगै अन्य आरोपित् हरूले न्यायालयमा आफ्नो उपस्थिति दिएका हुन्। मन्त्री गौतम देवलाई कालो झण्डा देखाएको आरोपमा पुलिसले उनीहरू विरुद्ध भारतीय दण्ड संहिताको धारा 143, 341, 353, 427, 511, 506 मुद्दा दर्ता गरेको छ। उक्त मुद्दाको आज चिफ ज्युडिसियल म्याजिस्ट्रेट अघि सुनवाई भएको थियो। सुनवाईको क्रममा न्यायालयमा गवाहीको उपस्थिति नभएपछि आगमी 21 अगस्तका दिन अर्को सुनवाई हुने न्यायलयले तय गरेको छ।

यता न्यायालयमा उपस्थिति दिन कालेबुङ आइपुगेका जीटीए बीओए अध्यक्ष विनय तामाङले दुईवटा मुद्दाहरूमा उपस्थिति दिएपछि एउटा मुद्दामा आफु आरोपमुक्त भएको बताएका छन्। ‘सन् 2007 देखि 2017 सम्म चलेको गोर्खाल्याण्डको आन्दोलनको क्रममा विभिन्न न्यायालयहरूमा मविरूद्ध 219 वटा मुद्दाहरू चलेको हो। जसमध्ये अघिबाटै 5 वटा मुद्दा सकिएको छ भने आज एउटा मुद्दा समाप्त भएको छ’ विनय तामाङले अझ भने –‘म कानुनको सम्मान गर्छु।’ यसक्रममा तामाङले आफ्नो मात्र मुद्दा सक्ने कार्य नगरेको भन्दै सबैको मुद्दा न्यायालय मार्फत् समान रूपले समापन होस् भन्ने चाहेर आफु प्रत्येक न्यायालयमा सुनवाईको क्रममा उपस्थिति हुने गरेको पनि स्पष्ट पारेका छन्।

अर्कोतर्फ यता तामाङका मुद्दा लडीरहेका अधिवक्ता राजीव पराजुलीले पनि पत्रकारहरूसँग बोल्दै राष्ट्रिय राजमार्ग 10 अधिनस्थ किर्ने क्षेत्रमा वाहन जलाएको घट्ना सम्बन्धि चलेको मुद्दामा जीटीए बीओए अध्यक्ष आरोपमुक्त भएको जानकारी दिएका छन्। यसक्रममा उनले अब कालेबुङ न्यायालयमा तामाङ विरुद्ध केवल एउटा मुद्दा मात्र छिनाफाना हुन बाँकी रहेको अनि अन्य मुद्दाहरू अघिबाटै समापन भइसकेको पनि जानकारी दिएका छन्।
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Ghatak to announce revised minimum wage on July 30, tea unions defer agitation

Ghatak to announce revised minimum wage on July 30, tea unions defer agitationAmitava Banerjee | MP | 17 July 2018 | Darjeeling: The minimum wage amount calculated by the state government will be announced from Uttar Kanya by Labour minister Malay Ghatak on July 30. 
This assurance led to the deferring of agitation programmes, including tea estate shutdowns and a general strike by the Joint Forum of tea unions earlier slated for July 23, 24 and 25. 
Tripartite talks were held between the state government, Joint Forum and associations representing the management at Uttar Kanya, the mini secretariat in Jalpaiguri on Tuesday.
"We communicated the progress in implementation of minimum wages and the details on how it is being calculated. On July 30, Labour minister Malay Ghatak will make an official announcement on the amount that has been fixed as minimum wage. As we have made much progress, we would request the Joint Forum to lift their agitation programmes, thereby maintaining peace and tranquility in the gardens," stated Jawaid Akhtar, labour commissioner.
The Joint Forum (a conglomeration of 26 operating tea unions), demanding the implementation of minimum wages in tea gardens, had called for a closure of all tea gardens in North Bengal on July 23, 24 and 25, along with a general strike in the tea belt on July 24. 
Though the unions operational in the Hills had decided not to enforce the bandh, they had called for stopping tea dispatch from the Hill gardens.
Following the tripartite talks, the Joint Forum went into a huddle to decide on the fate of the agitation programme. "As the state government initiative is positive, we have decided to defer the 3-day strike. This will be announced in all the tea gardens on July 20, before the workers go to work. We will attend the meeting on July 30 at Uttar Kanya. However, if the announcement on that day is anti-worker, we will draw up our future course of action which will include a more severe agitation after July 30," stated Zia Ur Alam, convenor of the forum. 
Alam stated that though the government was positive, the attitude of the management is clearly anti-worker. 
Towing the Chief Minister's line, Dola Sen, president, INTTUC, stated: "Bandh will not resolve anything. It is the workers who suffer in a bandh. Our government is pro-worker. After coming to power, the daily wage of workers that stood at Rs 66 in 2011, has been incremented to Rs 159 at present." 
The minimum wage is being calculated taking into consideration various components including cost of food, clothing, housing and the 1:3 composition (3 dependents per worker). Disbursement of PF, gratuity and filling up of vacancies in the gardens were also discussed in the tripartite meeting.
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Forum agrees to puts off tea strike

BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Jul 18, 2018, Siliguri: Representatives of Joint Forum, the apex body of tea trade unions excepting Trinamul, announced on Tuesday evening that they have postponed the three-day tea industry strike and the 12-hour general strike, much to the relief of tea planters.

The decision was made after senior officials of state labour department and members of the tea planters' fraternity mentioned to them at a meeting that was held here in Uttarkanya, that discussion is in progress for fixation and implementation of minimum wages for tea workers serving in the state.

Since July 2, the Forum has launched a series of agitations on the issue of minimum wage and had also called a three-day strike in the industry from July 23 to July 25. Also, on July 24, they had announced a 12-hour general strike in tea producing areas of north Bengal.

The announcement had left tea planters perturbed, as production is in the peak across the industry in the current month.

"The state labour commissioner assured us that state labour minister Moloy Ghatak will announce a proposed rate of minimum wage for tea workers at meeting to be held in Uttarkanya on July 30. We considered it as a positive move from the state's side and thus decided to postpone the strike till that date," said Ziaur Alam, convener of the Forum.

On July 20, constituent unions of the Forum will hold meetings in each of the tea estates to apprise workers and their families about the development.

"However, if the state's proposed rate is not accepted by workers, we will resume our movement," the trade union leader added.

The planters expressed a sense of relief at the decision.

"We appreciate the decision of Joint Forum to keep on hold the strike. It would help the industry to maintain its production that is in the peak during this season," said R. A. Sharma, secretary of the Dooars branch of Tea Association of India.
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Revamp clock ticks on bypass in Siliguri

A stretch of Eastern Bypass in Siliguri. File picture
AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Jul 18, 2018 , Siliguri: The state PWD has decided to widen and improve Eastern Bypass, an 11km road that skirts Siliguri and connects the north-eastern end with southern end of the city.

The decision has come as a major relief for Siliguri residents and also those living in the surroundings as once this road is four-laned, it can largely help in movement of traffic while bypassing the arterial roads of Siliguri, which get clogged with vehicles every day.

Built by the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) couple of decades back, the road connects NH-31 near Bhaktinagar police station on the north with Gora More, a tri-junction near New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station.

Around nine months back, the road was handed over to state PWD. "After the handover, it was decided that the entire 11 kilometre-long stretch would be widened and would have made a four-lane road to ease the movement of traffic. Recently, tender process for the work has been initiated," said Chandan Jha, the executive engineer of North Bengal Construction Division of the state PWD.

According to him, a sum of over Rs 15 crores would be spent for the project. "The road would be two-lane on each side, with dividers in the middle. We would also build drains all along the stretch. Work is likely to commence in another three-four months," added the official.

Sources in the Jalpaiguri district administration - it is under Jalpaiguri district - said no land has to be acquired for the project.

"There is adequate government land on both sides of the road. We will not have to acquire any land for widening of the road," said a source.

As of now, most stretches of the bypass are in bad shape, particularly after the recent monsoon rainfall. The bitumen cover has wiped, there are innumerable potholes and even craters in some places.

"Some repair works would be carried out in the damaged stretches but the main construction would be done as a part of the four-laning project," said a source in the state PWD department.

The move has been welcomed by residents of the city.

"Several vehicles which enter the city from Sikkim, Kalimpong and parts of Dooars and vice-versa, go to NJP station through Hill Cart Road or Burdwan Road every day. Only a few uses Eastern Bypass. Once the road is four-laned, this traffic can be diverted along the bypass. This would ease the load of traffic in Siliguri," said Jayanta Majumdar, a transporter based in Siliguri.

The four-lane road would also help in movement of vehicles to Jalpaiguri and beyond, pointed the residents.

This is because from Gora More, the southern end of the bypass, NB development department has developed an alternative road that heads for Jalpaiguri, cutting across the canal road that heads to Gazoldoba, site of the mega tourism hub.
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HC asks unions to justify DA parity plea

TT, Calcutta: A division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday observed that it could be presumed that dearness allowance (DA) was the "fundamental right" of the state government employees, asking unions to furnish legal provisions that substantiate their claim to DA on a par with central employees.

The bench, comprising Justices Debasish Kargupta and S.B. Saraf, observed that since DA of state employees was announced on the basis of a constitutional rule, the court could preliminarily observe that DA is also a "component of emolument of the pay, like basic".

Appearing for Left-dominated employees' union, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya argued before the court during the hearing on Tuesday. he state government is giving DA on the basis of Article 309 of the Constitution. Since the DA is announced on the basis constitutional provisions, it has become a right of the employees," Bhattacharayya said.

In January last year, the state administrative tribunal (SAT) had issued a verdict that to give DA to its employees was the discretion of the state and the employees could not claim DA as their right. The employees' unions, backed by the Left Front and the Congress, had appealed before the division bench.

In the high court, appearing for the state, advocate-general Kishore Dutta had supported the view taken by the SAT.
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SC warns against rule of mob... ARE YOU LISTENING, PRIME MINISTER?

TT, New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reminded the government of its "sacrosanct duty" to protect its citizens from lynch mobs, and called upon Parliament to enact a special law against vigilante violence.

"No act of a citizen is to be adjudged by any kind of community under the guise of protectors of law," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as a three-judge bench laid down guidelines for the Centre and state governments to nip vigilantism in the bud.

The judgment, on a batch of petitions seeking a crackdown against lynching in the name of cow protection, comes days after a controversy erupted over Union minister Jayant Sinha honouring seven men convicted of beating to death a meat trader in BJP-ruled Jharkhand on the suspicion of possessing beef.

It also coincided with a mob attack on septuagenarian social activist Swami Agnivesh, who was punched, kicked and pushed to the ground by a 200-strong group of alleged BJP Yuva Morcha workers in Jharkhand. Some residents said Agnivesh was dubbed "an agent of Pakistan" before being thrashed.

More than two dozen lynchings have been reported across the country over just a few weeks, with a 32-year-old call centre employee killed in Karnataka this weekend after rumours spread that he was a child-kidnapper.

"The horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be permitted to inundate the law of the land. Earnest action and concrete steps have to be taken to protect the citizens from the recurrent pattern of violence, which cannot be allowed to become 'the new normal'," said the bench that also included Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said on Twitter: "The PM and the central government should be ashamed after the judgment of the Supreme Court on lynching today. It has shown the mirror to the ministers and the PM under whose watch these crimes are being committed."

According to IndiaSpend, the country's first data journalism initiative, 97 per cent of cow-related violence (61 of 63 attacks) in the period between 2010 and 2017 occurred after May 2014, when Modi came to power.

But the Prime Minister, while he has referred to "anti-social elements" making "cow protection a medium of spreading anarchy", has stopped short of unequivocally condemning the lynchings.

On Monday, the Prime Minister's office had tweeted: "Where the power of hope prevails over mindless hate. Where 125 crore Indians write their own destiny. This is our New India: PM @narendramodi."

But ministers in his government have publicly come out in support of the accused. While Jayant Sinha garlanded the convicts and treated them to sweets, his colleague Mahesh Sharma had visited the home of an accused in the lynching of Mohammed Akhlaque, killed by a mob in his own house in Uttar Pradesh's Dadri in 2015.

The court said there could be no shadow of doubt that the authorities "have the principal obligation to see that vigilantism, be it cow-vigilantism or any other vigilantism of any perception, does not take place".

"Lynching is an affront to the rule of law and to the exalted values of the Constitution itself. We may say without any fear of contradiction that lynching by unruly mobs and barbaric violence arising out of incitement and instigation cannot be allowed to become the order of the day," the bench said.

"Such vigilantism, be it for whatever purpose or borne out of whatever cause, has the effect of undermining the legal and formal institutions of the State and altering the constitutional order. These extrajudicial attempts under the guise of protection of the law have to be nipped in the bud; lest it would lead to rise of anarchy and lawlessness which would plague and corrode the nation like an epidemic," it warned.

"Unless these incidents are controlled, the day is not far when such monstrosity in the name of self-professed morality is likely to assume the shape of a huge cataclysm. It is in direct violation of the quintessential spirit of the rule of law and of the exalted faiths of tolerance and humanity," Chief Justice Misra, writing the judgment, said.
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17 Jul 2018

Bengal govt issues transfer orders to two Hill teachers for ‘anti-govt’ activities

Bengal govt issues transfer orders to two Hill teachers for ‘anti-govt’ activitiesRavik Bhattacharya | IE| Kolkata | July 16, 2018 : The West Bengal government has issued transfer orders to two government employees for allegedly indulging in “anti-government activities” and “trying to stir up unrest”.

This comes after the district administration wrote to the state school education department, accusing the teachers of “trying to stir up unrest” in the Hills, and requested their transfer to Presidency, Midnapore or Burdwan divisions. The Indian Express is in possession of the letter from the district administration to principal secretary, School Education Department.

Political parties in the Hills, including the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), have slammed the move.

Joyoshi Das Gupta, district magistrate, Darjeeling, told The Indian Express, “There are government servants in different departments, including teachers, who have stayed back in Darjeeling for years without transfers. A section of such officials neglect duty and services, and welfare schemes do not reach the people. Moreover, it has been found that they have been involved in acts unbecoming of government employees and stirring up locals. Action is being taken according to rules. This is to ensure that people get the benefit of government initiatives.”

“In the recent case, the teachers have been found to stir up unrest by making false promises to locals in the name of forest rights. In one case, a teacher was also found spreading misinformation through social media,” she added.

“In the past one year, six or seven such people, comprising teachers and nurses, have been transferred for acts unbecoming of a government employee,” she said.

A senior government official said, “We are keeping an eye on government officials. In a surprise visit, it was found that a school was shut on a working day. We are also following up on cases against government servants during the 105-day shutdown here.”

Meanwhile, one of the teachers who faces action plans to knock on the court’s door.

“I received a transfer letter on Saturday from the state school education department. I will have to go to court. I was involved in a democratic agitation for rights of forest land. I spoke with the local residents and we demanded that Forest Rights Act 2006 be properly implemented in Darjeeling. I think that is why I am being transferred. Education is under Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), but the letter has been sent by the school education department,” Lila Kumar Gurung told The Indian Express.

Gurung, who is also general secretary of Himalayan Forest Villagers Association, has been transferred from Kumai High School in Kalimpong to Rimbik High School, near the Nepal border.

A government official said, “He (Gurung) has been found to stir up local residents. Despite being a government employee, he has been found to make anti-government statements on social media. In a surprise visit, it was found that he stayed absent from school on many occasions. He has been transferred within the Hills. But he wants to stay in the same area.”

GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba criticised the move and targeted GTA chief Binay Tamang. “The transfer order of Sri Lila Kumar Gurung is part of Binay Tamang’s political dealings as openly declared by him in public meetings. For the first time in the history of Gorkha politics, we have seen a nominated stooge openly declare from a public platform that he will politically victimise all those who do not support him. All should protest against this,” Zimba said in a statement on social media.

Despite repeated calls, Tamang could not be reached.
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Deeds for land to forest dwellers in process in Darjeeling

EOI, DARJEELING, 16 Jul 2018: The first steps have been initiated for the plan to provide title deeds for land to forest dwellers.
The Darjeeling district administration on Monday said it had taken up claims of villagers, dwelling in different forest areas in the hills for providing them with title deeds.
In June, the West Bengal government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) had taken up the initiative to provide land right to forest villagers under the Forest Right Act of 2006.
“Implementation of Forest Right Act has not been done in the hills in the right earnest. In June, we (GTA) and officials of the concerned departments of the State Government held a meeting to take up the issue,” said GTA chairman Binoy Tamang after a meeting with the
Darjeeling district administration and other officials.
On the directive of the State Government, the GTA also formed committees at the sub-division level and the district level on June 20. “Today a district level committee meeting was held to review claims, clearance and updates of surveys that are in progress,” Tamang said.
Apart from implementing the “Nijer Griha Nijer Bhumi” scheme of the State Governemnt, the GTA is also keen to implement the Forest Right act in the hills.
The GTA chairman said out of the 168 forest villages in the hills, 149 have been registered and 19 are unregistered. The registering process for these villages is in progress.
Elaborating on the details of the claims of forest villagers, Darjeeling District Magistrate Joyoshi Das Gupta said: “Today we cleared 36 claims under the Rangli Rangliot block after verification. Out of the four forest village in Rangli Rnagliot, one is registered and thre are not. We have started the process to register them. We will not leave anyone out.”
The Darjeeling DM said 189 claims were received from the Sukhia Pokhari block on Monday which would be verified. “We have received the claims. On principle the claims are oaky but we still send then back to have the map drawn correctly which is very important when providing title deeds,” Das Gupta said.
The District Magistrate said it was clearly mentioned in the Forest Right Act that names of the beneficiaries and area of “ghareri” (dwelling) and cultivation area along with a map had to be correctly drawn. “Two types of claims are admissible as per Forest Right Act of 2006. First “ghareri” and second is self cultivation. Till the map is drawn correctly we cannot
provide title deeds,” she said.
Das Gupta also said that in Monday’s review meeting, claims of other forest villagers from Kalimpong district were also taken up. She said a nodal officer would be appointed very soon who would provide all the information relating to the Forest Right Act. “We cannot deny people their right. However, people must be aware that land that belongs to the government cannot be sold. It cannot also be achieved by giving or taking bribes. It is imperative that rules are followed,” she said.
The District Magistrate said that review meetings would be held as and when required as claims, survey and verification were an ongoing process. 
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DM warns hills against WhatsApp 'teachers'... Clarification on land rights

Joyoshi Das Gupta 
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Jul 17, 2018 , Darjeeling: GTA chief Binay Tamang and Darjeeling district magistrate Joyoshi Das Gupta on Monday appealed to the hill people to verify information with government officials and refrain from believing in "rumours" being spread through social media.

In the changing political landscape of the hills, Tamang had publicly spoken on "negativity" being spread in the social media and the DM poke on similar lines on Monday.

Following a meeting of a district committee on granting land rights to forest dwellers, Tamang on Monday said: "Many are saying that work (on land rights) has not started. They should find out details from backward class welfare department and other offices. One should not just stay outside and talk in the social media."

Tamang said district and subdivisional committees had already been formed and land claims sanctioned.

Dasgupta was more forthright.

"My appeal to all, lot of rumours are being spread in the social media and we are aware of it. For information, Facebook and WhatsApp are not the source of information. If you want to find information, read the forest Act, everything is written clearly and we cannot go against it," said Das Gupta.

Sources said 36 claims to land rights in Runglee-Rungliot had been cleared at the Monday meeting, apart from 189 in Sukhiapokhri block.

"Sukhiapokhri land claims were approved in principle but we have sent them back to the block for drawing a map. Everything, including details of land for household and cultivation, along with the map, has to be mentioned in the document given to the dwellers," said Das Gupta.

The DM said messages were being posted in the social media that forest villages had to be first converted into revenue forest.

"Individual and community claims will first have to be settled and then the villages will be automatically converted into revenue villages," clarified Das Gupta who then added: "Please read the forest act first, Facebook teacher, WhatsApp teacher, they are not our teachers."
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Siliguri auto smokescreen lifts

TT, Siliguri: Siliguri's auto owners and drivers have launched protests against an order that requires them to go through fresh emission checks only at the transport department's testing centre in the city.

Around 1,250 autos run in the city, serving as its transport lifeline. "Most of these autos have become old and are compliant with BS I or BS II standards on (emission). But right now, the state has moved into BS-IV standards and machines used in pollution have also changed. That is why it was decided by authorities of the transport department to check the air pollution level of these vehicles," said a source in the administration.

The source also revealed that there were reports that a section of these autos get certificates which show that their pollution levels are under control from private testing centres.

"The PUC certificate is necessary to renew the certificate of fitness. As such reports reached the administration, it was decided that all these autos should be checked at the testing centre in Paribahan Nagar," added the source.

As some of the autos went for tests, it was found that the pollution caused bythe smoke of these vehicles is above the stipulated BS-IV standards.

"It is not that we have started imposing fines on these vehicles or have stopped running. But the fact that some of these vehicles are causing pollution above the stipulated levels, has been proved," said an official.

The test results have led to protests by the owners and drivers. On Monday, they took out a rally under the banner of Siliguri City Auto Operators' Welfare Society, protesting the administration's move.

"We apprehend that the state is planning to stop running these autos by declaring the vehicles unfit. The administration and the transport department should come out with rules mentioning whether we can run our vehicles. If we are told about pollution issues, we could have carried out necessary repairs to ensure that our vehicles meet the standards," said Nirmal Sarkar, general secretary of the society.

Such move by the administration has evoked a mixed reaction among residents living in and around the city.

While a section of them want the autos to be immediately replaced by newer ones to check air pollution, another section feel the state should not act in haste.

"In Siliguri and surroundings, city autos are the principal mode of communication in local routes. If these are suddenly stopped from plying, it would cause huge inconvenience for people. The administration, in consultation with the owners, should explore alternatives, bring such vehicles here and then replace the city autos," said Sarat Roy, a schoolteacher.

Officials said they would soon hold talks with the auto owners.

"The autos have to be replaced in phases and the state might extend some assistance to these people. But the fact remains that no vehicle can move along the road without meeting the standard levels of pollution. We are in touch with them and hope the issue would be resolved," said a senior official.
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Govt wings to repair roads

TT,  Siliguri: Trinamul leaders at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation said on Monday that the north Bengal development department and the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority would spend funds to repair roads in the town.

"All major roads in Siliguri are maintained by the state PWD or the SJDA. But other roads in all 47 wards of the SMC are to be taken care of by the civic body. However, most of the SMC roads are in worst conditions and dotted with potholes. There are even stretches where there is hardly any metal cover," said Ranjan Sarkar, the leader of opposition at the Left-run SMC. "It is disappointing that so far, no step has been taken by the civic board to initiate the repairs. Minor accidents occur every day."

Sarkar said a few weeks back, north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh and SJDA chairman Sourav Chakraborty had announced that they would allot around Rs 30 crore for infrastructure development of Siliguri. The decision was taken after Trinamul councillors approached them and alleged that the civic body was not taking up road repairs.

"A major portion of the funds would be used to repair the roads. It is due to the civic body's failure that the state departments and agencies have to step in," said Krishna Pal, a senior Trinamul councillor.


Rambhajan Mahato, the deputy mayor of SMC, said: "We have already chalked out a plan to carry out the road repairs. But what we lack is adequate funds. A proposal of around Rs 15 crores has been sent to the state municipal affairs department last week. We are waiting for the funds."

Since 2015, when the Left came to power at the SMC, the mayor and the Left councillors have time and again blamed the state for not allotting funds under different schemes. The plan to allot funds to repair the SMC roads is yet another attempt by Trinamul to show that the civic body, led by Siliguri MLA and CPM leader Asok Bhattacharya, could not provide basic services.
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Cottages in hill garden

The botanical garden in Darjeeling. File picture
TT, Siliguri/Darjeeling: Visitors to Darjeeling's Botanical Garden may soon have the option of staying in cottages, officials have said, a week after chief minister Mamata Banerjee stressed the need to boost tourists' lodging facilities.

State tourism minister minister Gautam Deb, who toured Darjeeling last week to oversee tourism projects, said the plan was to develop tourist infrastructure even in lesser-known tourist spots of north Bengal to offer visitors a bouquet of choices.

"The chief minister wants more destinations, with appropriate accommodations and other facilities, to come up in the hills. That is why we checked out some lesser-known sites which can be improved to boost tourist footfall," said Deb.

This year, the hills have witnessed an unprecedented flow of tourists during summer, and even after the monsoon started on last month. The hill residents - a large section of them are dependent on the industry and were badly hit during the shutdown of last year - could make brisk earnings this time.


The push is seen as an indication that Trinamul will play the tourism card in next year's Lok Sabha polls to drive home the message that the state's initiatives to restore peace have revived and, in fact increased, tourist flow to the hills.

Last week, Deb first went to the century-old Lloyd Botanic Garden, spread over a sprawling 40-acre area.

"The minister discussed how the garden, set up in 1878, can be improved to attract tourists. There are also plans to build cottages so people can stay in the garden," said an official of the state forest department that looks after the garden.

During his trip, the minister also went to Jorepokhri, a tiny hilly hamlet located around 20 km from Darjeeling. "We have come to know that the state tourism department has plans to renovate the existing government accommodations in Jorepokhri. It is a lesser-known site but can draw travellers," said a tour operator based in Siliguri.

He also went to Rangbhang, which is on the outskirts of Mirik and named after a local stream. "Development works are in progress at Mirk. Work is also going on at the bank of Sumendu Lake. With Mirik getting an infrastructural boost," said a source.
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