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Showing posts with label Kolkata. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kolkata. Show all posts

Power outage across Bengal after grid collapse

Written By kvarthaksd on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | 2:52 PM

Kolkata, July 31 (IANS) Power outage hit all the districts of West Bengal after the collapse of the Eastern Grid Tuesday, a minister said.

"The Eastern Gird has collapsed today (Tuesday). It is going to have a severe impact. All the districts of the state are going to face power shortage and outage today," said the state's Power Minister Manish Gupta.

"We have started the repair work. But normalcy can't be restored before tonight as repair work will take at least 10-12 hours."

According to Gupta, apart from some parts of Kolkata, all the districts would be severely affected due to the collapse of grid.

Train services on the South-Eastern Railway have also been severally affected due to the outage.
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Women Maoist cadres surrender in Bengal

Written By kvarthaksd on Monday, July 30, 2012 | 3:59 PM

Kolkata, July 30 (IANS) Weeks after Maoist top gun Bikram alias Arnab Dam was arrested, two female members of his squad Monday surrendered with their arms at the West Bengal state secretariat.

Shikha Hansda and Champa Hembram, both in their thirties, surrendered before Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee at the Writers' Buildings. They also gave up two rifles and a few rounds of ammunition.

Both Hansda and Hembram were members of the Ayodhya Hills squad of Purulia district, led by Bikram, and were active along the West Bengal-Jharkhand border.

They were suspected to be involved in several incidents of violence and a number of cases were pending against them, police said.

Bikram was arrested July 16.
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'Chalo Delhi' if no moratorium on interest payment: Mamata

Written By kvarthaksd on Saturday, July 21, 2012 | 4:26 PM

Kolkata, July 21 (IANS) Issuing a stern warning to the central government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday said her party MPs and legislators will go to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh if their demand for a three-year moratorium on interest payments on central loans was not met soon.

"If Delhi continues to deprive us, we won't bow our head. Bengal knows how to extract its demand. During the past one year, we have told them at least 50 times about our problem," Banerjee, also the chief of the Trinamool Congress - the second largest constituent of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance - told a party rally here.

She said while the state earned Rs.22,000 crore annually, its outgo was Rs.25,000 crore on account of loan repayments.

"How can we make both ends meet? It is not our fault. The centre allowed the erstwhile Left Front government in the state huge loans."

Asking Delhi not to neglect Bengal, she said: "If need be, the people of Bengal will give a clarion call for 'Delhi chalo' (go to Delhi)."

The chief minister said her state neither wanted a financial package nor a grant.

"We only want a three-year moratorium on interest payment. I will wait for a few more days. If I get it, I will be indebted to them."

"Otherwise, we'll take all our 28 MPs, 186 MLAs (legislators), and four lawmakers of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to the prime minister. I will tell him we don't want any charity or favour.

"When the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front took loans, why did you (central government) allow it? If we are to make a turnaround, we need money for development. We won't pay this interest," Banerjee asserted.
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More from Bengal schools: Two girls asked to disrobe

Written By kvarthaksd on Saturday, July 14, 2012 | 3:45 PM

Kolkata, July 14 (IANS) A high school teacher in West Bengal was arrested Saturday after she allegedly made a Class 8 student take off her uniform to check if she was hiding Rs.50 a classmate had accused her of stealing, police said.

"Rupali Dey, a teacher of Gopalnagar Giribala Uchcha Balika Vidyalaya, was arrested Saturday morning. She has been booked for strip searching a class 8 student," a police officer said.

The incident happened Wednesday in Gopalnagar in North 24-Parganas district, some 75 km from Kolkata.

The teacher allegedly strip searched the 13-year-old girl following an allegation that she was hiding Rs.50. Following this, the girl's parents lodged a police complaint Friday.

In a similar incident, another Class 8 girl at Derokrishna Banitirtha Balika Vidyalaya in Haldia in East Midnapore was asked to disrobe and use her uniform to wipe out the water which she had spilled on the floor.

However, according to the girl, she had not spilled the water. She said her principal Sandhya Jana had ordered her to disrobe and had even beat her up.

The girl fell sick after coming home and her family members lodged a complaint with the school's managing committee Friday.

However, Jana denied the allegation.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Bratya Basu has ordered probe into both incidents.

The incidents come barely a week after hostel warden Uma Poddar of Patha Bhavan in Visva-Bharati in Shantineketan allegedly made a Class 5 student lick her urine as a punishment for bed-wetting.

Poddar was arrested and later granted bail.



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Pinki alleges harassment in police custody

Written By kvarthaksd on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | 3:53 PM

Kolkata, July 11 (IANS) Asian Games gold medallist athlete Pinki Pramanik, who was accused of being a male and committing rape, was Wednesday released after 26 days in a West Bengal jail. She alleged harassment in police custody and said everything was "pre-planned" and that she was "framed".

Pinki came out of a correctional home in North 24-Parganas district after getting bail a day earlier. "An MMS clip of my medical examination, showing me in the nude, went viral online. All was pre-planned," the athlete said.

Pinki, in judicial custody since June 15, was granted bail by the district and sessions judge of North 24-Parganas.

"Even Sita Mai had to give agnipariksha (test by fire). So, I thought I was also undergoing an agniparksha," Pinki told media persons soon after coming out of the correctional home, as jails are called in the state.

Asked who all were involved in the conspiracy, Pinki said: "I was in jail. I don't know. I will talk to my lawyer first". She will consult her lawyers for taking a legal course of action.

Fellow Asian Games gold medal winning athlete Jyotirmoyee Sikdar gave a welcome hug to Pinki. The mood was of relief and joy as Pinki was garlanded.

Pinki was arrested June 14 and remanded in judicial custody by a court the next day after the athlete's live-in partner, a divorcee and a mother of one, filed a police complaint accusing the sports person of being a male who repeatedly "raped and tortured" her.

"I was framed. She (the complainant) used to do my chores. She had demanded money from me long back, but I did not give. So, all this was done in connivance with the police," the athlete said.

Accompanied by her father Durgacharan Pramanik and Sikdar, the athlete exuded confidence of returning to normal life.

Durgacharan was emotional as he narrated the travails his family had to go through.

"All the family members went through agony. As a father I was unfortunate enough to see my daughter's nude clip. It was an absolute shame. At the same time, we are determined to fight back. Hope someday truth will come out and the real guilty will be punished," said Durgacharan.

"Let me see, I will think about it. Let me talk to my lawyers first," Pinki replied when asked whether she was planning to knock at the door of the legal system for getting justice.

Pinki thanked the sports persons who had held protests against the treatment meted out to her by the authorities.

"I thank all of them for doing so much for me. I read about their protests in the newspaper while in jail. I will now go to my flat," the athlete said and later went to the Baguiati police station to get its keys.

The district and sessions judge (North 24-Parganas), while granting bail to Pinki on a personal bond of Rs.5,000, based on medical reports, held that the athlete was physically incapable of committing rape, the sports person's counsel Tuhin Roy said.

He said that the court accepted their argument that the petitioner women who had alleged that Pinki had raped her, was in a live-in relationship with the athlete for nearly three years. So, the relationship between the two was consensual in nature.

Meanwhile, the report of a chromosomal test to determine Pinki's gender has been submitted before the court by the premier state-run SSKM Hospital. An 11-member medical board was constituted to conduct the tests.

The demand for Pinki's release and protests against the way the athlete was moved from one hospital to another for determining gender and the circulation of an MMS featuring the athlete in the buff had become shriller by the day.

Pinki, who retired from athletics three years ago, won gold in the 4x400 metres relay at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha in Qatar. Pinki was a silver medallist at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games the same year.
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Pinki Pramanik released from jail

Kolkata, July 11 (IANS) After spending 26 days in jail, Asian Games gold medal athlete Pinki Pramanik was Wednesday released from a correctional home in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district. Pramanik, who after being accused of being a male had been in judicial custody for alleged rape, was given bail Tuesday.

She had been housed in the Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. Pramanik had been in judicial custody since June 15.

Pramanik, who retired from athletics three years ago, won gold in the 4x400 metres relay at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha in Qatar. The runner was a silver medallist at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games the same year.
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Emami to open plants in Bangladesh and Egypt

Written By kvarthaksd on Friday, July 6, 2012 | 2:05 PM

By Mithun Dasgupta 
Kolkata, July 6 (IANS) Emari, the Indian personal and healthcare consumer products company, will open two manufacturing plants, one each in Bangladesh and Egypt, in the current financial year, expanding its international footprint.

"Our two overseas plants - one in Bangladesh and another in Egypt - will be operational from this fiscal. The plant in Bangladesh near Dhaka will be operational first," Emami Group Chief Executive Officer (finance, strategy and business development) N. H. Bhansali told IANS.

Both the plants would produce personal and healthcare products.

Bhansali said the Bangladesh plant was a subsidiary. "It is our own plant. We will invest Rs.15-20 crore (Rs.150 million/$2.7 million to Rs.200 million/$3.6 million) in Bangladesh over the next two years."

In Egypt, the company acquired the plant last fiscal.

The Kolkata-based company expects decent growth in its international business in 2012-13. "We expect our international business to grow by 20 percent to 25 percent in this financial year," said Bhansali.

In 2011-12, its business was impacted in a few African markets such as Kenya, Angola, Morocco, Algeria and Libya due to lack of growth.

Emami's international business currently accounts for about 13 percent of its total turnover.

The company, however, said even after opening the two overseas plants, share of its international business might go up marginally or remain the same as the domestic business is also increasing.

Bhansali expects that the company's business from domestic operations would expand 17-20 percent this fiscal.

The company, which clocked a turnover growth of 16.6 percent in 2011-12, is expected to post a growth of 17-18 percent.

The FMCG major, which had a turnover of Rs.14.54 billion ($265 million) last fiscal, continued to record substantial growth from its power brands like Navratna Oil, Boroplus antiseptic cream, Zandu Balm, MenthoplusBalm and Fair and Handsome.

Emami Group had reported a consolidated net profit of Rs.723.70 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, as compared to Rs.545.70 million in the same period last year - a jump of 32.6 percent. The total income of the group increased to Rs.4,238.20 million for the quarter from Rs.3,623.30 million for the corresponding period last year.

Note: One US dollar equals Rs.55, approximately.
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Opposition walks out of Bengal assembly on price rise

Written By kvarthaksd on Monday, July 2, 2012 | 3:35 PM

Kolkata, July 2 (IANS) The opposition Left Front members Monday staged a walk-out from the West Bengal assembly in protest after an adjournment motion brought by them on spiralling prices was disallowed by the speaker.

Leader of Opposition and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) heavyweight Surjya Kanta Mishra, along with other Left Front members, proposed to bring in an adjournment motion with a view to engage in a dialogue on the rising prices of essential commodities.

But the motion was not allowed by Speaker Biman Bandyopadhyay, following which the opposition members trudged to the speaker's podium shouting slogans, and later walked out of the house.

The members also wore garlands made of vegetables and carried posters condemning the government for its failure to control the sky rocketing prices.

"The state government has completely failed in checking the prices of essential commodities. Through the motion we wanted to discuss the issue and give our views, but the government does not want to hear us," Mishra later told media persons.

Mishra accused the state government of violating assembly procedures and said the central government alone cannot be blamed for the rising prices.

"In the last few months, the electricity charges have been raised four times. Prices of milk, potato and other household items have been steadily rising. One cannot put the blame only on the centre, the state is equally responsible," added Mishra.
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One hurt in blast at Kolkata hospital

Written By kvarthaksd on Saturday, June 30, 2012 | 10:31 AM

Kolkata, June 30 (IANS) One person was injured Saturday in a blast at a state-run hospital here, said an official.

The blast occurred in the National Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) when sweepers were cleaning the outdoor area, said West Bengal Minister of state for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya.

"One sweeper was injured. He has been admitted to the eye ward of the hospital. But no patients were injured," said Bhattacharya.

"It seems some miscreants kept an explosive substance outdoor, which went off. The police and bomb disposal squad personnel are at the spot. They have conducted a thorough search and given us permission to open it," she said.

The minister said the hospital authorities have been asked to hold an inquiry and give a report by Sunday.

"If it is found that somebody attached with the hospital is involved, we will take the strongest possible action," she said.

NMCH principal Siddhartha Chakraborty said when sweepers were cleaning the outdoor area they found one green packet lying on the floor. "As they threw it out, it hit the wall and exploded."

Sweeper Amit Das suffered splinter injuries in his hand, leg, eye and stomach.
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I believe Singur's farmers will win, says Mamata

Written By kvarthaksd on Friday, June 22, 2012 | 3:09 PM

Kolkata, June 22 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday said her government was committed to the cause of the farmers of Singur and hoped they would win.

Banerjee's comment came in the wake of the Calcutta High Court's verdict striking down as unconstitutional and void, the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, by which the Trinamool Congress government sought to scrap the land lease of Tata Motors and return the acquired lands to farmers and give them a better compensation and rehabilitation package.

"I do not want to comment on the court's verdict. But we are committed to the cause of the farmers of Singur and will continue to stand by them. I believe, ultimately the farmers will win," Banerjee said at the state assembly.

The division bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Mrinal Kanti Chaudhuri, declaring the Singur land act as void, said the sections of the act dealing with compensation were in conflict with the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

The judges also said the legislation had been enacted without obtaining the assent of the president.

Automobile giant Tata Motors had moved the division bench against the Calcutta High Court's Justice I.P. Mukerji's Sep 28 ruling, which upheld the Act.

The court has suspended for two months its order to enable the West Bengal government to appeal before the Supreme Court, but has barred the state from disbursing reclaimed land in the interim period.

The Mamata Banerjee government passed the act soon after assuming office, and scrapped the land lease given to Tata Motors by the earlier Left Front regime to set up an automobile factory in Hooghly's Singur.

The automobile major had to shift its Nano small car plant to Sanand in Gujarat from Singur in 2008 because of protests by farmers led by the Trinamool Congress. The party sought the return of 400 acres taken from farmers, who were reportedly unwilling to part with their lands.

Reacting to the verdict, Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said the government is paying the price for not heeding to the opposition's plea to desist from making any discrimination between those farmers who were unwilling to part with the land and those who gave their land willingly.

Congress leader Abdul Mannan questioned Banerjee's intent to give back the land to the farmers.

"She never had the intention to give the land back to the farmers; it was only posturing on her behalf. Otherwise, she would not have hastily passed the law but would have taken time and help of experts to draft a comprehensive law," said Mannan.



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You need passion to become an actor: Boman Irani

Written By kvarthaksd on Monday, June 18, 2012 | 3:29 PM

Kolkata, June 12 (IANS) Boman Irani, who started his film career at the age of 44, feels it is the passion for the art of acting that has helped him in establishing himself as an actor even after crossing forty.

"To become an actor, you need to have passion. You need to have fire in your belly. It's true that you need talent to become successful, but if you don't have the passion for the job you are doing, you will never succeed," said Boman, who was in the city to attend an educational programme.

"If you have the passion and the fire in your belly, you will get noticed one day," he added.

Boman's one of the first films was 2001 release "Everybody Says I Am Fine" and after more than a decade, he is one of the most renowned names of the B-town thanks to his versatility and brilliant performances in "3 Idiots", "Lage Raho Munna Bhai", "Don-2", "Housefull-2" and "Eklavya".

His latest release is "Ferrari ki Sawaari", which deals with the concept of small guys with big dreams.

"What I need right now is a good night's sleep. For the last few days, it has been a hectic schedule regarding the promotion of 'Ferrari ki Sawaari'," he said.
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Latin American states keen on investing in Bengal: Mamata

Written By kvarthaksd on Saturday, June 16, 2012 | 3:44 PM

Kolkata, June 16 (IANS) Latin American countries like Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay are interested in investing in West Bengal's tourism, information technology, and food processing industries, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Saturday.

"They are interested in tourism, IT, and food processing industries. We are happy to hear that they will invest in West Bengal," Banerjee told media persons after a meeting with the ambassadors of these countries at the state secretariat here.

The chief minister said these countries would organise a food and cultural festival in Kolkata in November this year.

Banerjee said she requested the ambassadors also to organise a football match in the city before the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

"I told them that we will love to see a football match of the players from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Costa Rica. I also told them that people of West Bengal will love to see their players playing here...they have agreed," she said.

State Finance Minister Amit Mitra and Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee were also present at the meeting.



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Kolkata engineer designs wonder rickshaw

Written By kvarthaksd on Friday, June 15, 2012 | 1:05 PM

By Sourabh Gupta 


Kolkata, June 15 (IANS) A Kolkata engineer has designed a cycle-rickshaw that uses passenger load to push the vehicle and reduces the puller's drudgery by using bumps on the road for propulsion.

Pratik Kumar Ghosh's wonder vehicle, which promises to improve the lives of thousands of rickshaw pullers, is easy to make and is also cheap.

"The rickshaw resembles conventional rickshaws and can be assembled with the same parts which are currently in use," Ghosh, 55, told IANS about his design that won a union government innovation award.

The innovator, who works as an assistant general manager with Shriram EPC Ltd, said his design would make bumps and unevenness of the road favourable to the rickshaw puller -- converting the shock and vibration to a propulsive force.

"No parts need to be redesigned. The design of the rickshaw is very simple and its manufacture will be equally easy. The cost of production will be close to the existing ones," he said.

Ghosh's idea won the National Innovation Council's Innovation Challenge to Reduce Worker Drudgery, along with six other ideas, in April.

"The rickshaws in vogue were designed to carry load without keeping in mind ways to enhance puller's ease. In the long history, the vehicle only underwent cosmetic design changes," he said.

In conventional rickshaws, the chassis is horizontal and the load acts as dead load without any forward component, he said.

"In the proposed rickshaw, the chassis is at an angle of 10 degrees to the ground leaning to the front. Any load on the chassis will have a forward component to assist propulsion. These two forward forces will concur and make the muscle power requirement of the puller minimum when the vehicle will start to move," he said.

Also, the chassis currently is fixed at all three points with the triangular frame, and requires more power to propel.

"But in this design, the chassis is hinged at the pedal hub and the two other points are fixed with the frame. Since the hinged point acts as pivot, the shock generated by the road is transmitted as a force to the frame and makes the hostile road favourable to the puller," he said.

Also, the passenger weight in current rickshaws falls directly on the axle, he said.

"But here, the seat frame will be tubular and the rear two legs will not swing and remain pressed to the bearing box horizontally, converting the downward passenger load to horizontal forward propulsive force," he said.

"More the passenger weight more will be the push."

Ghosh's design is different from the soleckshaws (Solar-Electric Rickshaws) designed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which require new parts and major structural changes.

"I'm an innovator, not entrepreneur. I can't manufacture the rickshaws when more than eight million existing rickshaws are to be replaced. Since the production requirement is huge, I wish big cycle and rickshaw manufacturers come forward and manufacture the rickshaw," Ghosh told IANS.

"Since the rickshaw pullers will be able to travel long distances with high speed effortlessly, it is presumed that these rickshaws will be able to replace autos to some extent and reduce dependence on fuel-based vehicles," he said.

Ghosh, who is hoping that manufacturers and state governments looking to help rickshaw pullers will pick up his design, said the drawings could be taken from the National Innovation Council.

The other winners of the council's contest, from the 468 proposals, are a human powered motor by professors and students of IIT Madras; a vessel desk for construction workers by Maharashtra student Raghunath P. Lohar; a display unit for street vendors by IIT Guwahati student Manjunath Butta; a low cost cycle for physically challenged by working professionals from Chennai Ajith T. Alex, Aanand Ganesh and Mahesh P.V; and a picking grab for sanitation workers by retired Kolkata engineer Jitendra Nath Das.
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Woman killed over a goat in Bengal

Written By kvarthaksd on Thursday, June 7, 2012 | 3:48 PM

Kolkata, June 7 (IANS) Enraged over a neighbour's goat nibbling some plants in his garden, a man battered to death the owner of the animal in West Bengal's south Dinajpur district, police said Thursday.

"Khojamani Das, 42, was beaten to death and her daughter Mamuni was injured by one Bimal Mondal. He was arrested Thursday," said an officer.

Das' goat entered Mondal's garden Tuesday evening and nibbled some of the plants. When Mondal went to Das' house to complain an altercation ensued, following which the man pounced on the woman, battering her to death, police said.

Das' daughter who tried to intervene was also injured in the attack.
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Trinamool scores in civic polls, loses near Nandigram

Written By kvarthaksd on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | 12:15 PM

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress stole a march over its opponents, bagging four civic bodies, while the Left Front and the Congress clinched one each in results announced Tuesday.

The elections to the six civic bodies were held Sunday.

The Trinamool snatched Dhupguri municipality in Jalpaiguri district in the north from the Left. It was a major gain as the Left retained Dhupguri assembly seat last year despite losing the state.

The Trinamool also won Burdwan district's Durgapur Municipal Corporation, which the Left Front lost for the first loss in 15 years.

The Trinamool retained the Panskura municipality in East Midnapore district, but more importantly it triumphed in the Nalhati municipality in Birbhum district.

It was hearbreak for the Congress as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit, the party legislator from Nalhati, and had played an active role in the election campaign.

The Congress had won Nalhati in 2007 but lost control of the board after some of its councilors switched over to the Trinamoool.

The Trinamool and the Congress, allies in the central and state governments, fought separately in the civic polls for the first time after the assembly polls.

The Left Front, however, retained East Midnapore district's Haldia municipality.

This is located close to Nandigram, where Banerjee led a successful protest movement that helped it to rally the rural voters in the state and unseat the Left from power.

For the Congress, the sole consolation was its success in retaining Cooper's Camp municipality in Nadia district.



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Is overfishing killing the hilsa in Bengal?

By Rajat Ghai 

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) It is the ultimate in Bengali cuisine and Bengalis in both India and Bangladesh swear by the delicate taste of this premium fish. But the hilsa, or ilish as Bengalis know it, may soon disappear from Bengali homes due to man's greed.
In the past few years, the population of the silvery white fish has been steadily declining in West Bengal's rivers - all due to human beings upsetting the natural balance.

Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) is an anadramous fish - it mainly lives in the ocean but travels to rivers to spawn. After spawning, it travels back to the sea and is caught by fishermen.

However, over the past few years, fishermen have been catching adult fish as they travel from sea to river. They also catch juveniles ('khokha' in Bangla) on their way back to the sea as well as the fish eggs, considered a delicacy.

The results are there for all to see. "The dwindling population on the Bengal coast for the last decade has made everybody anxious whether the availability will be more or less sufficient or not," Shib Das from the West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences in Kolkata told IANS.

Not just the fishermen, the consumers too are to blame. Earlier, many Bengalis would not eat hilsa in the season when the juveniles would swim from the river to the sea. But now, most people, especially those with disposable incomes are eating it out of season.

But there are conscientious consumers of the hilsa too. "I myself completely avoided bringing the hilsa for a few years. But consciously avoiding eating or catching hilsa on an individual level won't help," Paloma Ganguly, a Delhi resident and a hilsa aficionado, told IANS.

Would a blanket ban by India and Bangladesh help in conservation? Overfishing of the Atlantic bluefin tuna has resulted in some European countries now recommending a blanket ban on commercial fishing of the tuna.

But most agree that a blanket ban is not the answer. "Nowhere in the world are people as passionate (and crazy) about a fish as they are in Bengal. Football matches between arch rivals Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will have to be called off if there's a ban," says Delhi-based food critic Rahul Verma in a lighter vein.

Ganguly feels that "A blanket ban won't be feasible. Hilsa is a major export item for Bangladesh. I feel that there should be a collective government ban during a particular season when the eggs are hatching and the young are growing up."

Because of its anadramous nature, hilsa cannot be reared commercially. "It is a purely marine species that migrates to fresh water to spawn and then goes back to the sea. Its breeding biology, physiology and migration behaviour are all very complicated. Culturing the fish in manipulated conditions will be very difficult," said Das.

Das feels India could learn from Bangladesh in limiting harvesting of the hilsa. "Bangladesh has implemented minimal size of harvesting very effectively. There are similar regulations by the West Bengal government too; but the implementation and adherence to these by coastal fishermen is not worthy to be mentioned. People's participation and motivation to conserve this species is still lacking along with the lack of enforcement and vigilance by the institution at both the landing site and marketing places," said Das.

Hilsa always fetches a high price, especially during the monsoons. "The demand is not much in summers. It spikes during the monsoon. So much so that we have to get hilsa from Bharuch in Gujarat and Baleshwar in Odisha," Shivjit Singh of Gujarat Fisheries, a seafood store in Delhi, told IANS.

"An adult hilsa usually weighs up to 1.5 kg and is 7-8 inches long," says Singh. "Juveniles weighing up to 700-800 gm cost around Rs.400-450, while adults weighing 1 kg or more cost around Rs.500-550."

In a doomsday scenario where the hilsa goes extinct, could it be substituted by another? In expatriate Bengali communities in North America, the hilsa is often substituted with the shad fish (a type of river herring).

"No way. There's nothing that can replace the hilsa. 'Jamai Sashti' (a festival when the son-in-law of the house is feted and fed varied fish dishes) will never be the same again if the hilsa goes extinct," says Verma.

"There is really no parallel to the taste of a hilsa... I can't imagine a world without hilsa," says Ganguly.
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PM lays foundation stone of second campus of Bose institute

Written By kvarthaksd on Saturday, June 2, 2012 | 12:34 PM

Kolkata, June 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday laid the foundation stone for the new campus of the hallowed Bose Institute - founded by famous scientist Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose in the early 20th century - in the satellite township of Salt Lake here.

Manmohan Singh, who is on a three-hour visit to the city, arrived Saturday with cabinet minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh.

During his brief stay at the venue, the prime minister was shown a small documentary film revolving round the life of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose and the history of the institute.

The Bose Institute, founded in 1917, is a renowned research institute in the fields of physics, microbiology, chemistry and biochemistry.
12:34 PM | 0 comments

Mamata to felicitate IPL champs KKR

Written By kvarthaksd on Monday, May 28, 2012 | 3:15 PM

Kolkata, May 28 (IANS) Elated at the Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title, the West Bengal government will felicitate the victorious city franchise in a ceremony at the Eden Gardens, said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday.

"This is a big achievement. The team from the city has won and we are all proud of that. Shah Rukh (Khan) is our brand ambassador and his team has won, so we want to felicitate the winners on behalf of the state government," Banerjee said at the state secretariat.

The IPL champions will also participate in a road show Tuesday starting from Hazra Crossing in the south of the city and going to the state secretariat, the Writers' Buildings. The show will culminate at the Eden Gardens where the felicitation ceremony will be organised.

The road show, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Tuesday, will witness the participation of many state ministers.

"I will personally welcome the victorious team at the Writers' (Buildings) and then we all head to the Eden Gardens where in a ceremony the team will be felicitated," added Banerjee.

A big cake with KKR's slogan "Korbo, Lorbo, Jitbo re" (We will do it, we will fight it out, we will win it) written on it will be cut, while Bengali band Chandrabindu will perform.

The felicitation ceremony will be open to all and entry to the stadium will be free.

KKR defeated Chennai Super Kings by five wickets Sunday to lift their maiden IPL title.
3:15 PM | 0 comments

As Left Front plans, quick-footed Didi acts

Written By kvarthaksd on Saturday, May 26, 2012 | 11:25 AM

By Sirshendu Panth
Kolkata, May 26 (IANS) Despite the negative publicity she has been receiving for her various antics as West Bengal chief minister, the feisty Mamata Banerjee's ability to lead lightning fast movements on any issue can never be doubted.

The Left Front (LF), which held power in the state for 34 years from 1977 to 2011, discovered the fact to its peril as Banerjee led a series of intense movements to unseat it from power. The LF, now the main opposition, got a taste of Banerjee's quick reflexes yet again on the recent petroleum price hike issue.

Even as the LF and the various mass organisations of its constituents were busy chalking out details of a strong mass movement after the central government- owned oil companies raised petrol prices sharply, Didi's men were already on the street protesting the hike.

Within an hour of the announcement Thursday by the Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) labour arm, the Centre of Indian Trade Union, that demonstrations would be held outside the district magistrate offices, Trinamool leader and railway minister Mukul Roy was leading a large procession from South Kolkata's Hazra Crossing despite a scorching sun.

A day later, LF partners held a meeting and decided its frontal organisations would protest from May 26 to May 31 in all districts of the state.

Again, no sooner had LF chairman Biman Bose finished his media conference than news trickled in from Trinamool Bhavan (Trinamool Congress headquarters) that Banerjee herself would lead a protest march Saturday. Alongside other Trinamool bigwigs, Banerjee is set to walk seven kilometres from Jadavpur to Hazra to put pressure on the union government to roll back the hike.

Banerjee has a twin mission. If, bowing to the countrywide protests, the central government announces a partial cut in the raised prices, she can claim that it was due to the pressure applied by the Trinamool, the second largest partner in the Congress-led central dispensation United Progressive Alliance.

Second, not prepared to concede any political space to her arch-rivals communists, adept at whipping up mass sentiments on such issues, Banerjee also wants to take the wind out of the sails of the opposition that has been mocking at her protests.

"She wants to have the best of both worlds. She is taking people for a ride," CITU state president Shyamal Chakraborty said, referring to Banerjee's comment that her party would rail against the hike but not pull out of the central government.

Banerjee on her part has said the protests will continue.

But even while fast out-manoeuvring the opposition on an important political issue, the Mamata government had to beat a retreat on renaming Indira Bhawan - a government guesthouse in posh Salt Lake - after poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.

The sprawling Indira Bhawan - built in 1972 primarily to lodge then prime minister Indira Gandhi during an All-India Congress Committee session - had served as the residence of chief minister Jyoti Basu since 1989.

Even after Basu retired in 2000, he continued to stay in the bungalow in lieu of Rs.8,800 as rent paid by the party leadership. It was Basu's home till his death in January 2010.

Months after taking over the reins of the state, Banerjee had announced her plans to convert it into Nazrul Bhavan - to honour the revolutionary Bengali poet. The building was to house a research centre and a museum on Nazrul, regarded as the national poet of Bangladesh.

But the move enraged the Congress, a partner also in her government. The Congress organised a series of protest meetings and rallies against the decision.

"It is part of Banerjee's effort to erase any public memory of Indira Gandhi and the Congress in the state," alleged Congress MP Deepa Dasmunshi.

Finally, the Banerjee government announced earlier this week that the nomenclature of Indira Bhawan will not be changed and the Nazrul museum and research centre would come up at Rajarhat, another satellite town.
11:25 AM | 0 comments

US has no answer to Iran issue: Historian Allan Lichtman

Written By kvarthaksd on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | 12:15 PM

Kolkata, May 23 (IANS) Observing that America cannot afford a war against Iran, American historian and author Allan J. Lichtman said the US had no answer to the oil rich country's issue.

Iran is suspected of running a nuclear programme aimed at building an atomic bomb.

"Frankly speaking at this point of time there is not going to be a war on Iran as the US cannot afford it. The Americans have this illusion that they can control the world but the fact is they don't have an answer to the Iran issue," said Lichtman Tuesday on the sidelines of a programme here.

"Neither Mitt Romney (presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for the 2012 presidential elections), nor (US President) Barack Obama have a clue of what is happening in Iran," said Lichtman.

While the US has approved a package of new economic sanctions on Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barakhave repeatedly said Iran must be prevented from building nuclear weapons.

They have not ruled out military action to disrupt Tehran's nuclear programme.

Lichtman, the author of "The Keys to the White House" - a system for predicting the popular vote result of US presidential elections based on the theory of pragmatic voting - forecast that Obama would retain his office in the next elections.

"Going by my predictions based on my system, Obama will come to power again in the next elections to be held in November this year."

Lichtman developed his "13 Keys" in 1981, which test the performance of the party that holds the presidency. If six or more of the 13 keys go against the party in power, then the opposing party wins.

The "Keys" system has correctly forecast the popular vote for all seven presidential elections from 1984 to 2008.

About the US getting its first woman president, the author said: "I think we will get a woman president soon. If we can get an African-American president (Obama) long before we had anticipated, there is no reason why we can't have a woman president soon, but for that it is important that we have more women participation in other important offices."
12:15 PM | 0 comments

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