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19 Jan 2018

Judges' talks hit wall

Dipak Misra. File photo
R. Balaji, TT, Jan 18, 2018, New Delhi: The second round of talks between the Chief Justice of India and the next four senior judges hit an impasse on Thursday.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra is understood to hold that his administrative powers as "the master of the roster" cannot be diluted in any manner.

The issues raised by the four judges revolve around the allocation of cases, which is covered by the administrative powers of the CJI.

The roster is the list of cases prepared by the Supreme Court registry for the different benches. Although the list is computer-generated, the CJI has a certain degree of discretion in allocation. The four judges had earlier complained that senior judges had been ignored in the allocation of several key cases.

The second round of the meeting in the Supreme Court lasted around 20 minutes, following which the five judges dispersed to their respective courts for regular work.

The four judges are reported to have proposed an "in-house mechanism" in the form of a committee of senior-most judges who will determine the allocation of cases that have far-reaching consequences.

This view was reportedly turned down on the ground that established traditions could not be compromised.

The talks are expected to resume on Monday, especially since the CJI's power as the master of the roster had been upheld by a five-judge constitution bench in November last year.

The talks are unlikely to resume before Monday. Justice J. Chelameswar, one of the four senior judges, has left for Andhra Pradesh on a private visit and will be back on Sunday night or Monday morning.

The CJI is also said to be keen on consulting three other judges who are slated to be the top judge in the distant future. If the deadlock is not broken, a full court meeting may have to be convened.

Padmaavat's creative right

People holding a banner during a protest demanding ban over the screening of film Padmaavat directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, in Meerut on Thursday. PTI Photo
TT, 18 January 2018, New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the nationwide release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film Padmaavat, staying the bans imposed by four BJP-ruled states and observing that "creative content" is a constitutional right.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said that all the states and Union territories must ensure peaceful screenings of the film, scheduled for a January 25 release, and provide protection to its crew.
PTI reported that shortly after the verdict, sword-wielding activists of Rajput group Karni Sena had attacked a cinema in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, and torn down the movie's posters.
"Creative content is an inseparable aspect of Article 19 (freedom of expression) of the Constitution.... Exhibition of film is an expression of creative content," Justice Misra told additional solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre.
Senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the filmmakers, had argued the states lacked the power to ban the film once the Central Board of Film Certification had cleared it (with cuts and a name change from Padmavati).
But Mehta said the states alone could decide on the law-and-order situation and sought time till Friday for Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan to file their responses. The court did not agree.
"Once the parliamentary legislation confers the responsibility and power on the statutory board and that board grants certification, non-exhibition of it by states will be contrary to statutory provisions," Justice Misra said.
Mehta argued there was "distortion of history" by the filmmakers: "We can't let someone show Mahatma Gandhi sipping whisky."
Salve countered that a movie, Jesus Christ Superstar, had been made in the West but there were no protests there. "Let's have Indian standards," Mehta quipped.
Some Rajput groups claim the movie insults the community by falsely showing a romantic dream sequence between 13th-century Mewar queen Padmavati and Delhi sultan Alauddin Khilji. The filmmakers have denied any such sequence, while many historians believe Padmavati never existed.
The petitioners say the movie is inspired by the epic Padmavat, written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540. The four BJP governments had cited "popular sentiments" and "safety and security" to ban the movie.

18 Jan 2018

K'pong cops wrap up Road Safety Week

SNS, KALIMPONG, 17 JANUARY 2018: As the district traffic police wrapped up the Road Safety Week that it started a week ago hem today, the police distributed helmets to motorcycle riders and pillion riders riding without one.
Police officials said that despite them educating the masses on the importance of wearing helmets, they still take their safety for granted.
During the past week, police had recorded safety messages and played them through loud speakers around the town. However, sadly even as the loudspeakers played the messages like "Please do not speak on the phone while crossing the road" repeatedly, people were seen not giving two hoots to the pleas. They jay walked and they typed messages and talked on their phones as they walked.
" Here, people wear helmets just to show it to the police, so that they are not booked for the offence. Some carry the head gear on the motorcycles and hands, while they wear them only before reaching police check points," said a man here today.
As the concluding programme went on today, a scooter had a pillion without a helmet, while the cops stopped them and gifted a helmet and a khada (traditional scarf), and one policeman requested with folded hands: "Please wear it for your safety; it is your head and not the police's."
"We do not have the rule of both the riders wearing helmets in our place, We had no idea that it was a must for the pillion rider too," said the rider.
One traffic policeman said that it is often the pillion rider who dies if the motorcycle meets with an accident ."It is very important for both the riders to wear helmets," he said,
The police said they will impose a fine of Rs 1,100 on motorcycle riders who flout the helmet rule from tomorrow. Additional Superintendent of Police Amlan Ghosh later said that the aim of the Road Safety Week was to spread awareness on traffic rules and their safety among people who drive vehicles.

Phones, weapons recovered from jail

The Jalpaiguri correctional home
TT, 17 January 2018, Jalpaiguri: A number of smart phones, cannabis, sharp weapons and ropes were seized by authorities of the central correctional home in Jalpaiguri on Tuesday late evening as they conducted a surprise search in cells.
"During the search, we have seized 30 smart phones and five cellphones, 3.5kg cannabis, knifes and daggers, ropes and even spoons from the cells. The seizure indicates that there have been some lapses in vigilance. Officers have been instructed to take necessary steps to prevent entry of such items to the correctional home," said Kalyan Kumar Pramanik, the additional inspector general of state correctional services.
The seizure has left the authorities surprised, who are now planning to install CCTV cameras and start patrolling in the surrounding areas of the home.
A team of 40 guards posted at the prison was engaged to conduct the search in cells.
A source said there was a patch of vegetation behind the correctional home from where pouches containing cellphones and narcotics were tossed inside.
"There are some lapses and we have decided to start cycle patrolling in areas surrounding the correctional home. We will also take help from the police. Simultaneously, CCTV cameras would be installed at all points of the prison. Further, individual search of inmates, as they return from court or hospital, will be made strict," said Subhabrata Chatterjee, jailor of the central correctional home.
As of now, the jail has around 1,350 prisoners.
The seizure has also led to questions in administrative circles. "No inmate is allowed to keep cell phones. If they carry such items, even the security of the correctional home can get compromised. It is surprising that inmates are keeping narcotics and sharp weapons inside, which indicates the lack of proper vigilance," said a police officer.

Trip to gauge tour potential

The tourism hub coming up at Gazoldoba
Bireswar Banerjee, TT, Siliguri: Bengal tourism minister Gautam Deb said on Wednesday that over 50 travel industry representatives from different countries would undertake a familiarisation trip to north Bengal next week.

The visitors are slated to attend Destination East, the annual event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in Calcutta on January 18 and 19. The visitors, referred as buyers in the travel trade parlance (they buy tourism products in India or in other words, sent tourists), are from 30 countries. Besides 14 delegates from the US, 12 from the UK and 12 from Russia, will also arrive in Siliguri on January 21, Deb said.

"We feel the trip will help them get a field experience of the destinations in north Bengal, both in the hills and the plains. It would also encourage them to send more tourists to our state," said Deb.

The exercise, members of the local travel trade fraternity said, will help in promotion of tourism in multiple ways.

"First of all, those visiting the region will have a clear idea that the Darjeeling hills are ready to welcome tourists. It would disseminate a positive message among the international travel fraternity. about Darjeeling. Secondly, having so many international buyers together will create an opportunity to promote north Bengal," said a senior tour operator in Siliguri.

During the trip, the group will visit "Bhorer Alo," the mega tourism hub that the state has been developing at Gazoldoba, located close to Teesta Barrage and around 30km from here.

"We want to promote Bhorer Alo as a prospective destination for private investment," said the minister.

Rajiv Lochan, the chairman of the CII's north Bengal zonal council, said: "One of the primary conditions of a popular tourist destination is infrastructure and innovative products. It is good that state has already set up a robust infrastructure platform at Gazoldoba."

Teesta water test in dead fish probe

Officials of fisheries department examine the Teesta water samples in Jalpaiguri on Wednesday. (Biplab Basak)
TT, Jalpaiguri: Teesta river water was collected and tested from a Jalpaiguri pocket on Wednesday, days after shoals of dead fish were found floating along the stretch.

Officials of the district fisheries department and the Fish Farmers' Development Agency (FFDA), who collected the water from Mondalghat in Jalpaiguri Sadar block, said the samples would be sent to the department's laboratory in Calcutta.

The lab will determine whether the water was polluted amid suspicion that some unscrupulous fishermen put pesticides in the river, leading to the fish deaths.

"It is either a case of poisoning or electrocution. As we conducted the basic tests, we found no anomaly," said Somnath Chakraborty, executive officer of the FFDA.

During the visit, the officials also did not find any more dead fish. "This is because some people went on collecting the dead fish till yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon," said a resident.

Chakraborty said that to find out whether any poisonous substance was poured into the river, a test known as high performance liquid chromatography must be done. Also, tissue culture of dead fish samples can help detect such toxic substances, he added.

"Histopathology of some parts of the fish samples can also help in detecting poisons. But we cannot carry out such tests here and have to bank on our laboratory in Calcutta," said the FFDA official.

Since Monday, locals spotted dead fish floated along a 2km stretch of the Teesta. Some of them jumped into the water and started collecting the fish. It was also alleged that some of those fish were even sold in local markets of Jalpaiguri till Tuesday.

"If the fish have died due to poisoning, its consumption can lead to side effects. Also, fish which have got infected but are alive, will cause infection among other species, including fish, in the water. We are thus advising people to abstain from buying fish of local varieties which were found dead for some days," he said.

The official also mentioned that those involve in the act - of mixing poison or putting livewire in the river - had also blocked the river's water in the locality on Monday.

"Using earth, sand and stones, they had blocked a portion of the river water and then resorted to the illegal act. Later, they removed the blockage which led to inflow of fresh water in the stretch and removal of suspected toxic water. That is why, it seems, we have not found any anomaly in the basic tests."

Poachers in Buxa battle

The weapons seized in Buxa on Wednesday. Picture by Anirban
TT, 17 January 2018, Alipurduar: Foresters and poachers exchanged fire at the Buxa Tiger Reserve on Wednesday amid suspicion the gang could be from the Northeast where shoot-on-site orders are in force against such elements.
The poachers escaped but the foresters, helped by a sniffer dog, found a bow and arrow and two improvised guns left behind by the gang. The early-morning skirmish comes over a week after suspected poachers killed a bison in the north Bengal reserve bordering Assam.
Foresters suspect gangs from the Northeast have turned to north Bengal, forced by the crackdown in Kaziranga and other forests of Assam. Earlier, poachers from the Northeast had been arrested over rhino poaching in Jaldapara, north Bengal.
A bullet was recovered from the carcass of the bison killed last week. The suspected poachers could not take away the carcass.
Forest officials have complained about a shortage of staff in Buxa, saying the shortfall of 40 per cent had made it difficult to keep watch over the 760sqkm reserve.
In the face of such problems, Buxa field director N.S. Murali lavished praise on the dog, Karim. "Karim helps lot in investigations. Today (Wednesday), it led us to the second improvised gun. It also helped a lot in the bison case. We are trying our best to net the gang."

Hill business interest claim

Binay Tamang with Mamata at the summit
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Jan 17, 2018, Darjeeling: Binay Tamang has said top industrialists from within India and abroad showed keen interest in the Darjeeling hills and confirmed their participation in a business meet that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration is slated to hold here in February.

Tamang, the chairman of the board of administrators (BoA) of the GTA, met investors from around the world at the Bengal Global Business Summit held in Calcutta on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This is the first time that a man helming an autonomous authority in the hills has been invited by the Bengal government to a business session.

Tea and tourism are the mainstay of the hill economy but both the sectors are in tatters at present.

"We have received positive feedback from industrialists both from the country and abroad and they are keen to attend our business meet, which has been scheduled for February," Tamang said over the phone on Wednesday.

Tamang, who was accompanied by Anit Thapa, the vice-chairman of the BoA, said most of the industrialists had told them that they had never visited Darjeeling and were keen to explore the area. "When we invited the investors, most said they had not visited Darjeeling before. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee was with us when we extended the invitation to them," said Tamang.

Tamang didn't say which investor from what sector would attend the GTA business meet.

The exact date of the GTA event will be finalised after consulting all stakeholders and participants.

Apart from attracting investments to bring in high-end tourists to the hills, the GTA believes, there is ample scope to develop other sectors like floriculture, horticulture, food processing and medicinal plants.

In the past, not much effort had been taken by those in power in the hills to invite industrialists, whereas Sikkim has managed to get investments in the hill state over the years.

"We are now trying our best to streamline things in the hills so that we can attract investments, which will go a long way in addressing the unemployment issue," said Tamang, who attended sessions on health, tourism, agriculture and infrastructure during the two-day global business summit.

Aadhaar tool to stifle dissent, SC told

TT, 17 January 2018, New Delhi: A five-judge constitution bench that on Wednesday began hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar was told that the scheme enables the government to stifle dissent, influence political decision-making, was reminiscent of totalitarian regimes and reduced people to servitude.
Appearing for former Karnataka High Court judge K. Puttaswamy and some others, senior advocate Shyam Divan told the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the Aadhaar scheme had several glitches and improbables as at least 6.23 crore people were excluded from enrolment after they applied for duplicate cards.
Many people apply for such cards either because of change of address or loss of the original. However, when they apply for duplicate cards, the Aadhaar authentification process fails to acknowledge them, thus denying them various benefits as the government has made it mandatory to link Aadhaar cards with bank accounts, mobile phones and other services, Divan said.
"The petitioners are certain that if the Aadhaar Act and programme is allowed to operate unimpeded it will hollow out the Constitution, particularly the great rights and liberties it assures to citizens. A people's Constitution will transform into a State Constitution," the senior advocate told the bench, which also includes Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
"The government has rolled out a little-understood programme that seeks to tether every resident of India to an electronic leash. This leash is connected to a central database that is designed to track transactions across the life of the citizen. This record will enable the State to profile citizens, track their movements, assess their habits and silently influence their behaviour," Divan added.
"Over time, the profiling enables the State to stifle dissent and influence political decision-making. As the Aadhaar platform extends to private corporations, the degree of tracking and extent of profiling will exponentially increase. Several state governments have started using the Aadhaar platform to build profiles of residents that is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes," the advocate said.
Justice Chandrachud asked: "Can't the state implement the Aadhaar programme... in public interest?"
Divan replied: "Aadhaar destroys the identity of an individual and it has made the country a surveillance state, which is not permissible under the Constitution.
"The Aadhaar database compromises on national security as there is no free consent in permitting biometric information, and diminishes the rights of the citizens."
Divan referred to the recent judgment of a nine-judge bench of the apex court that recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right.
He complained that the government issues an Aadhaar number and then requires it to be embedded across service providers. Unless the number is seeded in the database of the service provider, the citizen is denied access to "these essential facilities", Divan said.
"The State is empowered with a 'switch' by which it can cause the civil death of an individual. Where every basic facility is linked to Aadhaar and one cannot live in society without an Aadhaar number, the switching off of Aadhaar completely destroys the individual," Divan said.
The counsel said that while the Constitution balanced the rights of individuals against the State's interests, Aadhaar completely upsets it and skews the relationship between citizen and State, enabling the government to totally dominate the individual.
"The Constitution of India is not a charter of servitude. Aadhaar, if allowed to roll out unimpeded, reduces citizens to servitude," Divan said.
The arguments will resume on Thursday. As there are 37 petitioners, the case is likely to be heard for over three weeks.

Delhi ducks but not Adani

ANOTHER A: Pranav Adani, a director of Adani Enterprises, rises to speak on the second day of Bengal Global Business Summit as chief minister Mamata Banerjee looks on. The Adani Group has held exploratory talks with the Bengal government to revive the Kulpi port project. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Devadeep Purohit, TT, Jan 17, 2018, New Town: A name trumped the number on the concluding day of Bengal Global Business Summit 2018.

The presence of Pranav Adani by Mamata Banerjee's side drew more eyeballs than the preliminary estimate of investment proposals - Rs 2.19 lakh crore - the chief minister cited at the close of the event.

Pranav is a key member of the $19-billion Adani Group and the nephew of Gautam Adani who is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"If you have a member of the Adani family on the dais with the most vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government, the name has to become a talking point," said an official.

The impact of the summit on the industrial front will take time to be evident but the political ripples were apparent. A Trinamul insider later said with relish that an "A" each stole the show on each day of the summit, referring to Mukesh Ambani's presence on Tuesday and that of Adani the following day. Both also happen to trace their roots to Gujarat, he added.

The "Gujarat factor" was hammered home because of the political undercurrents.

Suggestions had been made that some central ministers pulled out from this year's summit at the last minute because of the Delhi-Calcutta duel. "Still, the Ambanis and the Adani Group are showing interest in Bengal and showering praises on the chief minister," said an industrialist.

Some industrialists are adept at managing different environments but Trinamul leaders did not miss the chance to claim that the guest list this time was "proof of Mamata's growing political clout beyond Bengal".

A Trinamul veteran said Lakshmi Mittal was "on his way from London to Italy. But he came to Calcutta, spent 12 hours and went to Italy. He doesn't have any business interest in the state but still he turned up."

तीन दिवसीय श्रमिक मेला उद्घाटन .....सामाजिक सुरक्षा योजनाको लाभ उठाउनुपर्छ – जिल्लापाल डा. विश्वनाथ

डी.के.वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 17 जनवरी।  श्रम आयुक्त विभाग कालेबुङ जिल्लाको आयोजनामा तीन दिवसीय श्रमिक मेलाको आरम्भ भएको छ। अलगडा खेल मैदानमा सुरु भएको उक्त तीन दिवसिय मेलाको आज जिल्लापाल डा. विश्वनाथले उद्घाटन गरेका हुन्। 
यस अवसरमा जिल्ला पुलिस अधिक्षक अजित सिंह यादव, अतिरिक्त श्रम आयुक्त शर्मिला खटुवा, जीटीए बोर्ड अफ् एडमिनिस्ट्रेसनका सदस्य सञ्चबीर सुब्बा लगायत अन्य अतिथिवर्गको विशेष उपस्थिति रहेको थियो। यस अवसरमा जिल्लापाल डा. विश्वनाथले दीप प्रज्वलन गरेर श्रमिक मेलाको उद्घाटन गरेपछि अतिरिक्त श्रम आयुक्त शर्मिला खटुवाले स्वागत सम्बोधन राखेकी थिइन्। 
यस अवसरमा श्रम विभागद्वारा असङ्गठित क्षेत्रका कार्यरत श्रमिकहरूलाई प्रदान गरिने सरकारी योजनाहरूबारे अतिरिक्त श्रम अधिकारी प्रदिप तामङले जानकारी गराएका थिए। यस अवसरमा श्रम विभाग कालेबुङको पक्षबाट मोठ 7 जना लाभार्थीहरूलाई जिल्लापाल डा. विश्वनाथ, जिल्ला पुलिस अधिक्षक अजित सिंह यादव, सञ्चबीर सुब्बा अनि अतिरिक्त श्रम आयुक्त शर्मिला खटुवाको बाहुलीबाट चेक प्रदान गरिएको थियो। कार्यक्रममा लेप्चा विकास बोर्ड, लोक सांस्कृतिक संस्थान आदिका कलाकारवर्गले सांस्कृतिक प्रस्तुती दिएका थिए।
श्रम विभागद्वारा आयोजित श्रमिक मेलाको उद्घाटन पछि कार्यक्रमलाई सम्बोधन गर्दै जिल्लापाल डा. विश्वनाथले सरकारद्वारा प्रदान गरिने सरकारी सहुलियतको लाभ उठाउने आह्वान गरेका छन्।  ‘पश्चिम बङ्गाल सरकारको श्रम विभाग मार्फत् सामाजिक सुरक्षा योजना अन्तर्गत प्रदान गर्ने विभिन्न सरकारी सहुलियतहरूले असङ्गठित क्षेत्रहरूमा कार्यरत श्रमिकहरूको सामाजिक सुरक्षाको कार्य गर्दछ। यसकारण असङठित क्षेत्रमा कार्यरत श्रमिकहरूले उक्त सरकारी सहुलियतको लाभ उठाउने हामी आह्वान गर्छौँ’ जिल्लापल डा. विश्वनाथले भने। पश्चिम बङ्गालकी मुख्य मन्त्री ममता ब्यानर्जीको अनुप्रेरणामा श्रम विभाग मार्फत सामाजिक सुरक्षा योजना सुरु भएको बताउँदै उक्त योजनाले असङ्गठित क्षेत्रका श्रमिकवर्गको सम्पूर्ण सामाजिक सुरक्षा हुने बताए। उनले उक्त सरकारी योजनाहरूबारे जानकारी दिनका निम्ति श्रमिक मेलाको आयोजना गरिएको बताउँदै सम्पूर्ण योजनाहरूको विस्तृत जानकारी मेलामा उपस्थित अधिकारीवर्गबाट लिनुपर्ने बताएका थिए।
सोहीक्रममा कार्यक्रलाई सम्बोधन गर्दै जिल्ला पुलिस अधिक्षक अजित सिंह यादवले सरकारी रोजगार गर्नेहरूका निम्ति सामाजिक सुरक्षाको व्यवस्था सरकारी नोकरी मार्फत् भए पनि असङ्गठित क्षेत्रमा कार्यरत श्रमिकहरूको भने सामाजिक सुरक्षाको व्यवस्था नभएको कारण सरकारले श्रम वुभाग मार्फत् सामाजिक सुरक्षा योजना सुरु गरेको बताए। 
‘सरकारले असङ्गठित क्षेत्रमा रहेका श्रमिकवर्गलाई श्रम विभाग मार्फत् भविष्य नीधि योजना, स्वास्थ्य बीमा योजना, दुर्घट्ना बीमा जस्ता योजनाहरू दिएका छन्। सरकारी योजनाहरूबारे असङ्गठित क्षेत्रका श्रमिकहरूले आफ्नो नाउँ श्रम विभागमा पञ्जीकरण गरेर उक्त सुविधा लिन सकिन्छ। यसकारण असङ्गठित क्षेत्रमा कार्यरत श्रमिकहरूले उक्त सरकारी योजनाको लाभ उठानु आवश्यक छ’ जिल्ला पुलिस अधिक्षक यादवले भने। 
यता कार्यक्रमलाई सम्बोधन गर्ने क्रममा जीटीए बोर्ड अफ् एडमिनिस्ट्रेसनका सदस्य सञ्चबीर सुब्बाले श्रम विभागद्वारा प्रदान गरिने सरकारी योजनाहरूबारे जनतालाई जानकारी नभएको बताउँदै यस्ता श्रमिक मेलाहरूले धेरै लाभ पुग्ने बताए। सरकारले यस्तो कार्यक्रम आयोजना गरेर सरकारी सहुलियतबारे जानकारी गराउने पहलको प्रशंसा गर्दै दुर्गम क्षेत्रका मानिसहरूका निम्ति पनि यस्ता योजनाहरूबारे सचेतना कार्यक्रम गर्नुपर्ने सुझाव राखेका थिए। 

17 Jan 2018

K'pong Civic body 'yet to walk the talk'

Nisha Chhetri, SNS, 16 January 2018, Kalimpong: A little over a month after the Binoy Tamang-Anit Thapa camp of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) removed the Kalimpong Municipality chairman Suva Pradhan and installed Rabi Pradhan as the new chief, work on pressing issues in the town are yet to kick off.
The Morcha had removed Suva Pradhan, considered loyal to GJMM leader Bimal Gurung, for allegedly not working efficiently in the municipality, soon after the Gorkhaland agitation that began in June last year ended in September the same year. The Municipality and the town had to hear the brunt of the agitation and the 104- day shut down, when work in the civic body came to a grinding halt. Factionalism in the Morcha, after that, hit the same further.
The elected members then chose the new chairman and new vice-chairman, Bhim Agarwal, on 14 December, after Suva Pradhan finally resigned.
Suva Pradhan was accused of not working efficiently, but the new set of people in the civic body has done nothing until now, except for installing some LED street lamps of 45 Watts around the town," said Ankit Das, a resident of Main Road in the town.
-The drains in front of Cyber-Infotech are clogged for the past many weeks now, while the gully has not been cleaned since months," he said, and even shared photos of the dirty gully with this correspondent.
Mr Agarwal, the vice-chairman of the municipality, said the civic body has been focusing more on the street lights for now.
Another resident of the town, who requested anonymity, said, "Suva Pradhan was an educated man, while the civic offices were closed for three months because of the agitation. He didn't get a chance to work." Sources at the Municipality said they will now work on the traffic and parking in Kalimpong town, which are apparently in bad shape. They also said that the municipality is reeling under a shortage of funds presently "We have met the District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police and the Regional Transport Officer and talked about traffic problems. We will meet the drivers' unions soon. Resolving the problems may take some time," Mr Agarwal said. He added that they will also work to solve the water crisis in the town.
The chairman, Rabi Pradhan, meanwhile, said it is too early to comment on the municipality's work, as they have just submitted the list of projects to be taken up by the government.
'We have recently submitted the list to the government, and we are expecting a positive response. We are trying to hire more people as we are not able to work on waste management. Moreover, the operator of the waste disposal plant was arrested during the agitation, and labourers who segregate the waste also left at the same time. We will work on them soon," Mr Pradhan said.
However, residents said the civic body has not been able to walk the talk and has failed to deliver even when it comes to the basic services.
"I, along with some of my friends, had collected waste like tree twigs, papers, polythene bags strewn all over the road near my house and piled them up at the sides of the road some one month ago. The same pile lies there now" said a resident of ward-23 near East Main Road.
"The projects to be approved by the government are good, but the civic body should first ensure basic services like garbage lifting and clearing of the clogged drains, he said, adding that the last time he saw someone lifting garbage in his ward was more than a month ago.

Prativa Rai sworn in as Chairperson of Darjeeling

MP,  16 January 2018, Darjeeling: Finally the Binay Tamang–Anit Thapa faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha took control of the Darjeeling Municipality with Prativa Rai sworn in as the Chairperson and Sagar Tamang taking oath of office as the Vice-Chairman. 
Out of 32 Councillors, 30 had voted for Rai in the capacity of Chairperson. Former Chairman DK Pradhan of ward 10 is at present in judicial custody and Neera Sharma of ward 1 is absconding as she has been implicated in a case whereby she has been labeled as a Nepali citizen. Both were absent in Tuesday's special meeting.

Avik Chatterjee, the Darjeeling Sub Divisional Officer administered the oath of office to Rai on Tuesday. "After administering the oath of office, I handed over charge to her," stated Chatterjee. Ram Jung Golay of ward 17 tendered his resignation from the post of Vice-Chairman. The resignation was accepted. Rai after taking charge nominated Tamang as the new Vice-Chairman. "I was elected unanimously as the Chairperson. This also projects the policy of women's empowerment of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. We will work for bettering civic amenities and give priority to drinking water, sanitation and health," stated Rai.

The Chairperson stated: "Later this week we will decide on the department heads." A rally was taken out in the town bursting crackers with the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson appealing for cooperation and support from the residents. The Darjeeling Municipality has been in a near non-functional state following the 104-day long agitation since June 2017. DK Pradhan, who had been sworn in as the Chairman following the elections to the civic body in May last year. was been arrested on September 22, 2016 from Gurugram, Haryana in connection with a Darjeeling Sadar police station case pertaining to the agitation. He is at present in Judicial custody.

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