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Darjeeling Toy Train to introduce joy rides, dining coaches during puja seaseon

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway steam smoke
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has decided to introduce additional joy rides, dining coaches and chartered evening services, to pamper tourists expected to visit the hills during  the Puja season that will set in from mid-September. Rides on the UNESCO-conferred heritage DHR toy train service have always been a hit with tourists who flock to the hill station all year round. And, going by last year’s tourist footfalls, DHR officials are hopeful of a bumper season this Puja and do not want to risk inconveniencing visitors.
Foremost, the DHR plans to introduce three new round-trip rides in the steam engine from Darjeeling to Ghoom. Coaches have already been freshly painted and renovated for the upcoming season.
“At present we have six round-trip joy rides (three each in steam and diesel engines). We want to increase the services by introducing three more rides from September 15. Tourists come to the hills primarily to take rides in the DHR. We don’t want to upset or dishearten them due to of non-availability of seats,” said Narendra Mohan, the DHR area officer.
The DHR charges Rs 1,095 and Rs 625 for steam and diesel engine joy rides, respectively for the to and fro Darjeeling-Ghoom ride. Similarly, to and fro evening chartered trains in steam engines will also be pressed into service from Darjeeling to Ghoom. On the same route, trains will have dining coaches to pamper tourists. The Jungle Safari from Siliguri to Rongtong- a round trip- with stoppage in
Sukna station, will also be introduced. “Presently, the Jungle Safari is operating on a daily basis. But we have decided to curtail the ride to two days on Saturdays and Sundays priced at Rs1,100 in steam  and Rs 605 in diesel engines,” Mohan said, adding in the last financial year there were 56 charter services taken.
Coaches have been improved and upgraded, seats have been re-structured and bigger windowpanes have been installed for better viewing, among the many changes introduced by the DHR to make the toy train service visitor friendly. “The whole exercise is to make the service presentable to the people who pay substantial amounts to take rides on the services that are on offer. Passenger amenities especially cleanliness is our focus. In Darjeeling station, we will have a manual window to sell tickets besides the online system for reservation. We will outsource work to keep the Darjeeling and Ghoom stations clean,” the DHR area officer said.
Plans are afoot to install Victorian style clocks at some stations along the 87km route from Darjeeling to New Jalpaiguri station. Electronic signboards will also give way to blackboard signage to share information about a particular station, to give tourists a heritage feel. A new idea of handing souvenirs at the time of purchasing tickets personally from the counter will also be introduced.
The official also said that some tour operators from Germany have shown interest in hiring goods chartered services in November of this year for which trial runs would be conducted soon.
“We will be doing trial runs next month. We had stopped goods chartered services in the 1980s. However, we have again decided to take this up and also want to see if it can be viable,” said Mohan.
The DHR is hopeful of a bumper season going by the previous financial year's footfalls. “There has been substantial increase in tourist flow. Last year we had 1 lakh tourists against the previous year’s 60,000 to 65,000. This year we are targeting 2 lakh tourists. Our revenue for the year 2015-16 has increased to Rs5.45 crore from Rs3.24 crore in 2014-15 and Rs1.84 crore in 2013-14,” Mohan said.
The DHR presently has 13 steam (including the famous B class) and four diesel engines for pulling 62 coaches. Some of these coaches date way back to the 1930s, the official informed. (EOIC)

Cases filed against Bimal Gurung with yuwa morcha leaders

Bimal Gurung GTA chief
The Darjeeling police have slapped cases against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung and a host of youth leaders of the party for making provocative speeches and  inciting the public. The police have also withdrawn permission to the GJM’s youth wing to hold weekly rallies and public meetings to raise awareness about the statehood demand.
The Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha (GJYM) has been organiing a rally and public meeting every week on Thursdays. The next meeting was scheduled on September 1 at Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling. Police officers including Darjeeling superintendent of police Amit Javalgi refused to comment, but informed sources confirmed that a case has been started against 14 GJM youth leaders while another has been filed against Gurung.
The sources could not specify the sections under which the cases have been lodged against the GJM chief and youth leaders, but they said, “A case has been lodged against the GJM president relating to the provocative speech he made on August 7 at Tukvar. A similar case has been lodged against 14 youth leaders for making inciting and provocative speeches on August 25."
Addressing a youth meeting at Tukvar, the GJM chief had told the gathering that time had come to talk about the community, land and about raising arms for the Gorkhaland agitation. The very next day however, senior GJM leaders issued a clarification saying the party president’s remarks had been misconstrued. “What our president was trying to say was that the state government, through continuous interference in the functioning of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, was creating such a scenario. We have always believed in democratic agitation and will continue to do so,” a central committee leader had clarified.
But the police say they have collected evidence against the GJM chief and youth leaders who have made provocative speeches. “At Tukvar, Gurung had called for an armed struggle for achieving statehood and the need to shed blood. Further, the GJM’s youth wing leaders have publicly spoken about severing heads of anti-Gorkhaland people. This amounts to enticing people. Also, no permission was sought by the GJM youth organisation to hold a public meeting at Tukvar,” said a senior police official not wishing to be named.
Among the 14 names, the prominent ones are those of GJYM general secretary Priyabarden Rai and Amrit Yonzon, the front’s spokesperson, said a police source. The GJYM general secretary could not be contacted, but Yonzon countered that the police were trying to curb the democratic rights of citizens and that they would go ahead with their statehood movement.
“Why is the police only targeting us? TMC leaders are also giving provocative speeches in their public meetings, threatening to burn down the house of our party president and even asking us to join their ranks. We have proof of this and if required we will provide them,” the GJYM spokesperson said.
Regarding the threat of going ahead with the statehood agitation in spite of being denied permission to hold rallies and public meetings, Yonzon said, “Our agitation is for a Gorkhaland state; we are following Gandhian principles and we are ready to court arrest if the need arises. By denying us permission, the police department is trying to curb our democratic right to raise our just demand,” said Yonzon.
One senior officer said the police had no problem in allowing the GJM youth wing to hold rallies and public meetings if an undertaking was given promising not to make provocative speeches. “First of all, we do not have evidence to prove that TMC leaders have made provocative speeches. But if we do so, we will definitely take necessary action. As far as granting permission to the GJM youth wing is concerned, we can consider the case if an undertaking is given,” he said, adding the police did not have problems in allowing other GJM frontal organisations to hold political programmes.
The women's wing of the GJM will be holding a public meeting on Wednesday at Chowk Bazar and permission has been granted to them. In the evening, the central committee of the GJM held an indoor meeting and a decision was taken to form a committee which would go to Delhi to meet the Union home minister and pursue the statehood demand. (EOIC)

मङपु विभागमा शहीद कप फुटबल टुर्नामेन्ट हुने

Shaheed cup football tournament in shardha school ground
बिगत आठवर्ष देखि शहीद सुजित थापा अनि संजय राईको स्मृतिमा सम्पन्न हुँदै आएको शहीद कप फूटबल टुर्नामेन्टको नवौं वर्षको खेल आउँदो अक्टोबर महिनाको पहिलो सातादेखि खेलाइने संचालन समितिले निधो गरेको छ | समितिको सभाति प्रेमछिरिंग भोटियाको अध्यक्षतामा सम्पन्न भएको सभालाई लिला बहादुर छेत्री अनि संजोक लेप्चाले संचालन गरेका थिए | सभामा यसवर्ष देखि सिन्कोना बिभागका मजदुरवर्ग सेक्सन ए,बी,सी, चौकीदार तथा सिजनल लेबरहरु माझ पनि फुटबलको लिग म्याच गराउने निर्णय लिएको छ | यस शहीद कप फुटबल टुर्नामेन्टको बिजेता दललाई शहीद कपको आकर्षक ट्रफी संगै रुपियाँ चालिस हजार अनि पराजय दललाई रुपियाँ २५ हजार सहित ट्रफी प्रदान गरिने भएको छ | मङपु विभाग स्थित शारदा उच्च बिधालयमा सम्पन्न हुने यस फुटबल टुर्नामेन्टको प्रवेश शुल्क समितिले रुपियाँ १५०० तोकेको छ भने इच्छुक दलहरुले प्रवेश शुल्क बुझाउने अन्तिम मिति १९ सितम्बर सम्म राखिएकोले दलहरुले अहिले देखि नै समितिसित सम्पर्क गर्न सक्ने जानकारी पाइएको छ ||

Anit Thapa addresses public meeting first time in kurseong urges Morcha to discard GTA

Anit Thapa addresses public meeting first time in kurseong
A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader addressed a public meeting for the first time today in Kurseong where the organisation had received a jolt following the departure of Bhupendra Pradhan.
Anit Thapa, the undisputed Morcha leader in Kurseong, started his speech with a "Jai Gorkha" slogan and did not get into the customary mode of referring to other speakers. "Everyone is wondering what I would say. I haven't come here to deliver a speech but to make a promise," he said.
"I have come here only to promise you that I will not step back from Gorkhaland (demand)," Thapa said and added that he had "happily gone to jail for six months during the last phase of Gorkhaland agitation (in 2013)".
He urged the Morcha leadership to discard the GTA. "We have to discard the GTA for Gorkhaland. There will be challenges during an agitation but we must face them," said Thapa. "Trinamul will never be able to take control of municipalities as the people of Kurseong town will not accept Bengal's voice."
He admitted that this was his first public speech and said he was not a great orator.
"For nine years, I never spoke. Media personnel would always ask me and I always said I believed in work and not in speeches and I would speak when Gorkhaland was formed. However, the situation brought me before a microphone today," said Thapa.
Thapa spoke for a little over 12 minutes, during which he sipped water five times - the first was when he was 2.45 minutes into his address, followed by sips at 3.28 minutes, 5.10 minutes, 6.17 minutes and 10.48 minutes.
Thapa, a Morcha central committee member, decided to change from a stand-held microphone to a hand-held microphone 3.58 minutes into the speech. A towel was provided to him when he was 9.57 minutes into his speech.
Thapa was elected to the GTA Sabha from Kurseong-Giddepahar unopposed in 2012.
The Morcha organised the public meeting as a show of strength following Pradhan's switch to the Trinamul Congress on Wednesday.
When the Morcha was formed in 2007, Bhupendra was considered the Morcha's top leader in Kurseong but soon the mantle was passed on to Thapa whose leadership is unquestionable in Kurseong subdivision as of today.(TT)

मङपुलाई खण्ड बिकास अनि नगरपालिकाको दर्जा दिलाउने – शान्ता छेत्री खरसाङ जिल्ला माग गर्दै मङपुलाई महकुमा बनाउने – प्रदिप प्रधान

Rajen Mukhia, Shanta chhetri, Sardha Rai subba, Pradeep Pradhan in Mungpoo
मङपुको जनताले दीर्घ दिनदेखि भोगिरहेको समस्या साथै बड्दो आवादीलाई विचारेर यहाँ खण्ड बिकाश अनि रेशेप बजारलाई नगरपालिकाको दर्जा दिलाउन पहल गरिदिने कुरा नर्थ बेङगाल स्टेट ट्रान्सपोर्ट कर्पोरेशन भाइस चेयरमेन शान्ता छेत्रीले आज यहाँको रङबी विभाग स्थित सार्वजनिक भवनमा दार्जीलिंग जिल्ला त्रिनामुल महिला कांग्रेस द्वारा आयोजित अभिनन्दन कार्यक्रम मंचबाट भनेकी छिन् | हिल टीएमसीका दुई जना नेत्रीहरु उतर बङ्गाल परिवहन निर्देशक शारदा राई सुब्बा अनि नर्थ बेङगाल स्टेट ट्रान्सपोर्ट कर्पोरेशन भाइस चेयरमेन शान्ता छेत्रीलाई मुख्यमन्त्रीले दिएको पदहरुको कदर गर्दै शुभकामना जनाउन यस अभिनन्दन कार्यक्रमको आयोजन गरिएको हो | कार्यक्रमलाई सम्बोधन गर्दै छेत्रीले आफु पहिले गोरामुमोको बिधायक हुँदा पनि मङपुको निम्ति धेरै नै कार्यहरु गरेको बताए जसमा त्यसताक भालुखोपको बाटोले मङपुबासीलाई धेरै नै समस्यामा पारेर सिलिगुडीसित जोडिन बन्चित गर्ने गर्थ्यो र त्यसलाई मैलेनै त्यसको समाधान गरिदिएको हो भनी बताए | यसरी नै मङपुमा अहिले स्थापित भएको कोर्टको माग पनि मैले नै गरिदिएको हो अनि मङपुमा बस स्ट्याण्ड नहुँदा मैले नै माग गरेर स्ट्याण्ड बनाई डीजीएचसीलाई सुम्पेको कुरा स्पष्ट पारिन | यसको साथै मङपु एउटा ठुलो क्षेत्र भएकोले अनि यहाँको जनतालाई तक्दाह ब्लक जान टाडो पर्ने हुनाले अब यहाँ आफ्नै ब्लक हुनपर्ने जरुरी रहेकोले आज सरकार हाम्रै छ र हामी यस बिषयमा पहल गर्ने छौँ भनी बताएका छन् | साथमा यहाँको ब्रिटिशकालिन रेशेप बजारलाई पनि नगरपालिकाको दर्जा दिलाउने दिशामा पहल गर्ने बचन दिए भने यी मुद्दाहरुमा अब मङपुको समस्त जनताले सचेत भएर साथ दिनु पर्ने जरुरी रहेको उनले बताए | यही कुरालाई अझ जोड दिंदै आजको मुख्य अतिथि साथै जीटीए चेयरमेन प्रदीप प्रधान जो केही दिन अघि मोर्चा त्यागेर टीएमसीमा सामेल भएका थिए उनले पनि मङपुको निम्ति मुख्यमन्त्री ममता ब्यनार्जीसित यो भन्दा ठुलो कुरा मागिदिएको बताउंदै उनले मुख्यमन्त्रीलाई खरसाङ जिल्लाको माग गरेर यसै अन्तर्गत मङपुलाई यसको एउटा महकुमा बनाउने माग गरेको बताए भने ममता ब्यनार्जीले पनि म जे बोल्छु त्यो पुरा गर्छु भनी आफुलाई बचन दिएको खुलासा गरेका छन् | यसको साथै सिन्कोना अनि चिया बगानबासीहरुको निम्ति पर्जा पट्टाको माग पनि मुख्य मन्त्री समक्ष राखेको उनले बताए | मोर्चामा प्राय: एक डेड वर्ष निष्क्रीय भएर अन्तमा टीएमसीमा सामेल हुन पुगेका प्रधानले यतिका वर्षसम्म मनभित्र पालेको कुण्ठालाई जनता समक्ष खोल्ने काम गरेको छ | मोर्चा अनि जीटीएको खोइरो खन्दै आफुलाई जीटीएको चेयरमेन सभासदहरुले बनाएको हो र यसको नियामुनासर मेरो पदलाई उनीहरुले खारेज गर्न सक्छ तर मलाई सभासद जनताले बनाएको हो जसलाई मोर्चाका नेताहरुले खारेज गर्न नसक्ने बताउंदै उनी मुख्यमन्त्रीकै निर्देशमा सभासद पद नछोड्ने बताए | जीटीए अनि मोर्चाभित्र केवल ढाँट र भ्रष्टचारको राजनीति चलेकोले आफू बाउ बाजेको पालोदेखि नै जनता अनि पार्टीको एक पैसा नखाने इमान्दार खुनको छोरा रहेकोले यस्तो भ्रष्टचार आफुले सहन गर्न नसकेकोले मोर्चा छोडेको उनको भनाई छ | केवल जनतालाई ढांटेर उनीहरुको हकमा आएको पैसाले केवल मोर्चाका नेताहरु मात्र धनी भएको अनि जनता भने त्यही पुरानै मर्कामा परेको उनको अडान छ भने बिमल गुरुङलाई मैले नै नेता बनाएको हो र हाम्रो चिन्हारीको निम्ति छुट्टै राज्य गोर्खाल्याण्डको आन्दोलन गरौँ भन्ने व्यक्ति पनि मै हुँ तर जीटीएमा हस्ताक्षर गरेर गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति उर्लेको समस्त पहाडको जनताको नै पसिना चुस्ने काम मोर्चाले गरेको प्रधानले जनाएको छ | मुख्यमन्त्री ममता ब्यनार्जीले पहाडलाई स्वीजरल्याण्ड बनाइदिन्छु भन्दै जीटीए मार्फत करोडौ रुपियाँ दिने गरेपनि जीटीएका पदाधिकारीहरुले यसलाई दुरुपयोग गरेको बुझेर नै मुख्यमन्त्रीले जनतालाई प्रत्यक्षरुपमा सहुलियत दिन बोर्डहरुको गठन गरेको उनले स्पस्टिकरण दिएका छन् | यता बिमल गुरुङले जताततै घोषणा मात्र गर्दै हिंडेको सम्बन्धमा खरसाङमा मल्टी फेसिलिटी हस्पिटल बनाइदिन्छु भन्दा प्रधानले स्वयले आफ्नो ९ ऐकर जमीन दिएको भएपनि आजसम्म सिन्का भाँची काम नगरेको उनले आरोप लगाए भने यसरी नै खरसाङको गिद्देपहाडदेखि रोहिणी सम्म अनि रोहिणी देखि मिरिक सम्म रोपवे खोल्छु भन्दै उद्घाटन गरेर आजसम्म एउटा काँटी सम्म नठोकेको बताए भने कालेबुंगमा पनि करोडौं रुपियाँको स्टेडियम बनाइदिने घोषणा गरेर एक बेल्चा बालुवा सम्म नलगाएको उनले आरोप लगाए | यसरी पहाडको विभिन्न ठाउँहरुमा बिमलले केवल घोषणा गर्दै जनताको भोट खोस्ने र उनीहरुको सोझोपनको फाइदा उठाउने काम मात्र गरेको बताए भने डिजिटल राशन कार्ड मार्फत जनताले आफुले पाउने राशन कुनै घोटाला बिना पाउने बुझेर अब हामीलाई कुनै फाइदा नहुने बुझेर यसको बिरोध गरेको उनको भनाइ छ | यहाँसम्म कि जीटीएका सभासदहरुले आफुले चड्ने गाडीमा पाउने तेल धारीको घोटाला गरेको उनले आज जनता समक्ष खुलासा गरेका छन् भने यस्तै घोटालाहरुले गर्दै पहाडको बिकास नहुने बुझेपछि अब म खरसाङलाई मात्र भएपनि बिकशित पार्छु भन्ने उदेश्य राखेर नै आज टीएमसीमा सामेल भएको जनाए | प्रदिप प्रधान टीएमसीमा सामेल भएकोमा बिरोध गर्दै आज खरसाङमा मोर्चाले पचास लाख खर्च गरेर घर घर गएर जनता थुपार्दै सभा गरेको छ भन्दै आउँदो अक्टुबर महिनामा म एक रुपियाँ खर्च नगरी आज मोर्चाले भेला गरेको जनताको चार गुना बेसी जनता भेला गरेर देखाइदिने छु भन्दै मोर्चालाई चुनौती दिएका छन् |

यसरी नै टीएमसी नेता बिन्नी शर्माले पनि आफ्नो सम्बोधनमा मोर्चाले केवल फलरहित आन्दोलन गर्दै कंगाल बनाएको पहाडलाई हामी बिकाश गर्ने उदेश्यमा अघि आउँदा माटो बिरोधी, गोर्खाल्याण्ड बिरोधी भनेको बताउंदै पहाडमा मोर्चा मात्र माटोप्रेमी पार्टी हो किन भने पीएमजीवाइएस, एनआरजीएस, आरवाइडीएफबाट माटो खनेर बाटो बनाउने काममा घोटाला गर्दै यस्तै माटोको काम मात्र रुचाउने पार्टी मोर्चा हो भनी व्यंग्य कसेका छन् | कार्यक्रमलाई हील त्रिनामुल अध्यक्ष राजेन मुखिया लगायत टीएमसी नेतृत्वहरु लक्की तामांग, सिखा राई, पवन बल आदिले पनि सम्बोधन गरेका थिए भने कार्यक्रममा नोमिनेटेड सभासद मिलन डुक्पा, सपना तामांग, पेमु भुटिया, बीएस राई, नील कुमार गुरुङ, बिन्ध्या राई सुब्बा, सरद थापा लगायत मङपु लाब्दा समष्टिका विभिन्न शाखाका टीएमसी पदाधिकारीहरु पनि उपस्थित रहेका थिए |
मिङमा भुटियाको सभाध्यक्षतामा सम्पन्न आजको कार्यक्रमलाई रेजिना गुरुङले संचालन गरेका थिए भने टीएमसी मजदुर युनियनका किरण ब्लोनले पनि सिन्कोना बिषयलिएर एकपल्ट मुख्यमन्त्रीलाई मङपु ल्याउदिने उपस्थित टीएमसीका उच्चपदस्थ नेतृत्वहरुलाई निवेदन गरेका छन् | आज टीएमसी पार्टीगत कार्यक्रमकै अवसरमा यहाँको रेशेप विभाग, रङबी विभाग अनि सिकसिन फरेस्ट बस्ती गरेर जम्मा ६८ परिवार टीएमसीमा सामेल भएको जानकारी गराए भने सामेल हुन आइपुगेका जतिलाई अध्यक्ष राजेन मुखिया, शान्ता छेत्री, शारदा राई सुब्बाको बाहुलीबाट झण्डा दिंदै स्वागत जनाएको छ ||

Resolution passed to remove Pradeep Pradhan as GTA chairman

Bimal Gurung with Bhupendra Pradhan (Pradeep Pradhan)
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha members today voted and unanimously passed a resolution to remove Bhupendra Pradhan (Pradeep Pradhan) as the GTA chairman. Pradhan is also the GTA Sabhasad of Pandam-Phoobshering constituency and hails from Kurseong sub-division.

He had kept the suspense of his decision to join the Trinamool till he attended a TMC programme on August 24 in Kurseong and received the party flag from state minister Arup Biswas.
A day earlier, Pradhan met with chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the Sukna forest guest house where she had put up. That morning the same day, GJM president Bimal
Gurung had visited Pradhan at his house, apparently to persuade him to not leave the party after word of Pradhan's possible exit starting doing the rounds.
And even as Pradhan spoke at the TMC programme in Kurseong on August 24, GJM leaders had convened an emergency meeting in Darjeeling to remove him from the post of GTA Sabha chairman. Thirty-five Sabhasads submitted a written request to GTA Sabha deputy chairman Lopsang Lama to call a special meeting to take the decision to remove Pradhan as per the provisions of the GTA Act. A special meeting was convened today.
“On August 24, 35 Sabhasads placed before me a request to convene a special meeting to remove Pradeep Pradhan from the post of GTA Sabha chairman as he had defected to another party.
Accordingly, I issued notices to all the Sabhasads including Pradhan to attend the meeting today,” said the GTA deputy chairman.
Today, 40 Sabhasads attended the special meeting at the Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan in Darjeeling and cast their vote seeking the removal of Pradhan from the chairman's poat.
“As per Section 37 and sub-section 3C of the GTA Act, one-third majority is required for such a move and this was achieved with a unanimous decision to remove Pradhan,” Lama said.
Five Sabhasads could not attend today's meeting due to various reasons. Neither Pradhan nor the nominated TMC Sabhasads were present even though notices had been sent to them to attend the emergency session. The GTA Sabha has 45 elected and five nominated members. All the 45 elected members are from the GJM and two others are nominated, while three  more nominated Sabhasads are from the TMC.
When contacted, Pradhan said he had no issue with being removed as the GTA chairman but said he would not resign as a Sabhasad. “Let them chose a new chairman. I welcome the new incumbent.
However, I will not resign as a Sabhasad because I have been directed by the chief minister to stay put. As far as development of my constituency is concerned, I will do so through the district administration if they (GJM) do not cooperate to target me politically,” he said.
Roshan Giri, Sabhasad in-charge of the GTA education department and the GJM general secretary, placed the proposal in favour of removing Pradhan as the chairman and it was endorsed by Sabhasad R.B. Bhujel. The Sabha however, did not choose a new chairman as the day’s proceedings had to be first placed before the GTA principal secretary. “We will have to send today’s proceedings to the principal secretary who will subsequently call a meeting to choose the new chairman,” Lama said. (EOIC)

Campaign on National Food Security Act held in Darjeeling

campaign on National Food Security Act
The state has started campaigns to provide information on the National Food Security Act, days after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said it had a "hidden agenda" behind including hill residents in the Antodaya Anna Yojana meant for the poorest among the Below Poverty Line people.
Today, the district administration held awareness campaigns at St Joseph's College (North Point), Darjeeling Government College and Southfield College, along with Chowrasta and Motor Stand, to "dispel wrong information" and highlight the provisions of the National Food Security Act.
Sources in the administration said similar programmes would be held in Kursoeng and Kalimpong subdivision but added that no such campaigns had been planned for Siliguri subdivision "as of now".
A senior administrative official said: "We are trying to disseminate correct information and dispel wrong information that is being circulated. Apart from disseminating information on the Food Security Act, we are also trying to educate people about the ban on smoking in public places."
Explaining the need to start campaigns only in the hills, the official said: "In the hills, the PDS (public distribution system) has been different. While the pan-Bengal campaign in different media is expected to cover Siliguri subdivision, we thought it was necessary to go to the hill people directly and inform them about the details of the Food Security Act. If the need arises, such a campaign will also be undertaken in Siliguri subdivision."
The Morcha had accused the state of trying to prove that the hill people were landless to allegedly "dilute" the statehood demand and assigned the party's Study Forum with the task of "finding out the real motives" of the government in implementing AAY in the hills.
Later, the forum had said the "hidden agenda" of the state to include the population of the region under the AAY was to cut down on the foodgrain that the ruling Trinamul had promised before the Assembly elections.
Under the AAY, a family is entitled to 35kg of foodgrain (15kg of rice and 20kg of fortified atta) at Rs 2 per kg a month.
The Morcha had claimed that state had announced 11kg of foodgrain per person per month before the Assembly polls, of which 6kg was to come from the state government.
D.K. Pradhan, a Study Forum member, had alleged that the state was not willing to bear the additional expenditure of the 4kg rice and 2kg atta, and therefore decided to bring the entire hill population under the AAY so that the supply came from the Centre.
Pradhan had said a notification issued by the directorate of district distribution, procurement & supply, food supplies department on January 22, 2016, said the hill population would be allotted 6 kg of rice and 5 kg of fortified atta per head per month at Rs 2 a kg.
According to Pradhan, the 11kg foodgrains were to be drawn under the Centre's National Food Security Act and the special scheme of the state government.
He said: "A family of four and above will now get less. According a special package announced just before the state assembly elections, a hill family of five is entitled to 55 kg of foodgrains. The hidden agenda behind getting the hill population under the AAY is to ensure that the state does not have to bear the additional cost as then they are having to pay for 6 kg of foodgrains per family per month."
The Morcha central committee member said it was fine for the hill party if the state provided 35kg of foodgrains to a family under the AAY and the remaining 6kg per head per month.
The AAY has become a much talked about issue in the hills after Bhupendra Pradhan, popular as Pradip Pradhan, while joining Trinamul in Kurseong on Sunday, criticised the Morcha for trying to oppose the scheme.
Earlier this month, the Morcha had demanded that since the state government had decided to include the entire population in the Darjeeling hills under the AAY, the Mamata Banerjee administration declare the region a "backward area" and provide other benefits meant for the category, like exemption from income tax, subsides in transport, fuel, gas connections and electricity.(TT)

Nepali singer Khem Raj Gurung passed away

Khem Raj Gurung
KATHMANDU, Aug 25: Singer of popular Nepali song, ‘Wari Jamuna Pari Jamuna’, Khem Raj Gurung passed away on Thursday.

Singer Rajesh Payal Rai told Republica Online that Gurung, who was undergoing treatment at the Chabahil-based Medicare Hospital for jaundice, breathed his last this evening.

Although the family members were preparing to airlift Gurung to New Delhi, India for further treatment, the doctors attending to the singer had kept him on a ventilator life support citing critical health conditions.

“All the attempts to airlift him to the Indian capital failed,” said Rai, “Khem Raj brother is no longer with us.”  

He added that preparations were underway to take the dead body to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

Gurung is survived by two daughters and a wife .

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com

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