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Darjeeling Rising Star final on July 28,29
Darjeeling: Thousands were auditioned and judged by celebrities over a period of four months and the wait for the rising stars of Darjeeling hills is finally over.
Darjeeling police has decided to hold the finals of the biggest talent hunt contest next week. "The finals of Darjeeling Rising Star will be held on July 28 and 29. Chowrasta has been selected as the venue of the finals," said a police source.
The biggest talent hunt contest in Darjeeling included three categories, singing, dance and instrumental music. While 5000-odd participants had lined up for the singing and dance competitions, nearly 200 artists turned up for the instrumental round, which was organised through this month.
The event, which carries a total prize of more than Rs 25 lakh is conducted by the police as part of their initiative to strengthen bonds with citizens. The contest, which started from April 1, had two categories - one for the age-group of 10-17 and the other for 18-31 years in singing and dance competitions.
Instrumental was an open category. Ten finalists from each category have already been selected for the finals. The winners of the senior category will be taking home a cash award of Rs 2.5 lakh, while those winning the junior category will win Rs 1.5 lakh apart from gift vouchers.

"A similar prize amount will be given to the winners of the instrumental competition ," said the source.
The finals were initially scheduled to be held in mid-May. However, the event was postponed due to panchayat elections. In the meantime, the instrumental category was also introduced.
Over 5000 participants had participated in the dance and singing competition, while nearly 200 participants had turned up for the instrumental category.
The event is being supported by celebrities from India and Nepal.
Adrian Pradhan, a household name in Nepali music and Kaviraj Ghataraj, a well-known choreographer from Nepal's film industry, judged the semi-finals rounds.
Darjeeling Police plans to bring in celebrity artists for the finals. The contest also has the support of Bollywood big names like John Abraham, singer Mohit Chauhan, TV star Karanvir Bohra, hair stylist Aalim Hakim and Yogeshwor Amatya, a singer from Kathmandu, among several others.

The Telegraph

Housing scheme by Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA)
Siliguri: The Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) will build flats for people of medium and lower income groups near North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH), the SJDA chairman Sourav Chakraborty said here on Thursday.
The houses are part of a plan to expand Siliguri town. NBMCH is located on the outskirts of the town.
"We will build a housing complex near the NBMCH. In total, there will be 60 MIG flats and 40 LIG flats. Population is on the rise on the outskirts of Siliguri and to provide accommodation to some of them, these flats would be built and sold," said Chakraborty.

"The SJDA will also take up projects of around Rs 46 crore which will include, construction of roads, drainage and beautification, in many wards of Siliguri and its surrounding areas," he added.
He also mentioned about his recent visits to different areas of Siliguri sub-division and adjoining areas of Jalpaiguri.
"Based on our visits, we have decided to illuminate all major junctions which are outside the civic area (in Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad area and under Jalpaiguri). High mast lights will be installed in these locations. Also, on the new Hindi college campus at Hatighisha (in Naxalbari block), we will develop the ground and built more classrooms by spending Rs 50 lakh," the SJDA chairman said.

The Telegraph

Bathing in Dooars rivers baned
Jalpaiguri: The Jalpaiguri district police have imposed a ban on bathing in rivers and streams which flow through tourist destinations in the Dooars after a youth was feared drowned in the Murti early this month.
On July 10, a 34-year-old youth of Jalpaiguri had feared drowned in the Murti river. He had visited the tourist spot with his friends.
Superintendent of Jalpaiguri police Amitabha Maiti said: "We have imposed a ban on bathing in the Murti and some other rivers and streams which descend from the hills and move through tourist spots in the Dooars. During monsoons, water level rises in these rivers and it is unsafe for the people to bathe in it."
"All the police stations have been informed about the decision and have been asked to keep a check on whether the people are bathing at any of these water bodies," the SP added.
Sources said Bappa Saha, who drowned in Murti on July 10, is yet to be traced.

At Murti, Ramsai and Dhupjhora, common tourist spots in Western Dooars on the bank of Murti river, the police have decide to post civic volunteers and also start patrolling using motorcycles.
"Those visiting the tourists spots will be alerted by civic volunteers. They will be informed about the sudden rise in water levels due to rainfall that makes the rivers precarious. Local people will also be stopped from getting into the rivers. Our men will be moving around these areas in motorcycles to keep a tab of the situation," said Debasish Chakraborty, the subdivisional police officer of Malbazar.
The Murti flows through the Gorumara National Park.
On Thursday, a team of policemen and civil defence volunteers, including Chakraborty, moved along the river in a raft to find out the missing youth. "We will continue the search. The restrictions have been made to prevent such incidents," the Chakraborty said.
The incident has also put stakeholders of the tourism industry on alert.

The Telegraph

Sevoke-Rangpo rail route: Forest dwellers seek land rights
Siliguri: Forest dwellers along the proposed Sevoke-Rangpo rail route have demanded an early implementation of the Forest Right Act, 2006 that would provide them with rights to the land they live.
Also, once they have the land rights, they would be eligible to apply for compensation in case they have to part with the land for the rail project.
On Wednesday, representatives of the Himalayan Forest Village Organisation (HFVO) that has been working on the issue said here that around one lakh people, residing in 168 villages which are in forest areas, would be affected for the railway project.
"We have been living in these villages for generations but so far, land rights have not been granted to us. We are not against the rail project and are always ready to cooperate with the government and its agencies. But the state has to take necessary initiatives to grant us land rights. People of around 100 such forest villages of Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts have got their land rights a couple of years back," said Nilkumar Mangar, the convener of the HFVO.

According to him, residents of these villages earn living by farming or by working as drivers and daily-wage earners.
Administrative sources said work has started to provide land rights to forest dwellers.
"We have been hearing individual claims and some of these have been accepted on principle. The concerned persons have been asked to come with some documents like land maps, which they can get from blocks, so that the issue can be resolved. There is no question of displacing any person or family," said an official posted in Darjeeling.
The railway project that was initiated on 2009 by then then railway minister Mamata Banerjee has suffered a setback due to a number of reasons, one of which is the land issue of forest dwellers.
For the project, railways need 98.94 hectares land. Only 2.77 hectares of this land is privately owned, while 18.4 hectares is with the government and around 8.49 hectares with the forest department for which the railways have got approval from necessary quarters.
"The remaining 77.77 hectares is where the forest villagers live. It is clear that they do not want to leave their land without compensation. There were some other issues which have been delaying the project but most have been sorted. It is not the task of the state and the administration to resolve this issue," said an observer.

The Telegraph

Directorate of Sikkim Lotteries
The Directorate of Sikkim Lotteries has issued a notification banning locals from entering online gaming zones. “In order to safeguard the interest of the local people, only persons having a photo identity card, either Voter Identity Card or Aadhaar Card, or Passport issued from outside the State of Sikkim will be permitted for entry Into the Gaming Zones,” reads the notice. No licencee or his operator shall allow or admit or register person below the age of eighteen years to play online games specified in these rules. If the any licencee is found violating the rule, the licence of the operator will be cancelled.(EOIC)

Tea garden worker demands Minimum Wage Act
Expressing satisfaction with the decision of the West Bengal Government to intervene to finalize the implementation of the Minimum Wage Act in the tea gardens of the hills of Darjeeling, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-backed tea trade union and those of other political parties have decided to hold gate meetings on July 20 to make workers aware of the development.
 
The Joint Forum, a conglomeration of over 23 trade unions of tea gardens of North Bengal including those in the hills and which also includes the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU), affiliated to GJM, have been demanding implementation of the Minimum Wages Act among others.
A series of meetings have been held between the tea garden management and trade unions with participation of the State Government. A minimum wage advisory committee has also been formed which has representation of the unions, the management and the State Government.
There was a meeting of the advisory committee in Kolkata which failed to yield desired results. There was also another on July 12 at Uttarkanya in Siliguri attended by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “We have got positive response from the State Government. It was with our effort that we forced the State Government to become proactive on the demand. We are of the belief that after the July 17 meeting of the advisory committee, the next meeting on July 30 will be the final, on the issue of implementation of minimum wage act in tea gardens of the Hills,” said Bharat Thakuri, the DTDPLU, general secretary.
Interestingly, the GJM being one of the member trade unions has refused to back the Joint Forum’s agitation programmes like call for general strike in tea gardens in the plains, gate meetings, stopping dispatch of made-tea leafs and dharna in gardens in the hills. “We are
part of the Forum but refuse to support agitations like strikes. We have already suffered during the 104-day bandh. And after all, every issue has to be settled on the table come what may,” Thakuri said.
The JF members of the hill gardens on Wednesday also asserted that they would hold gate meetings to make people aware of the development.“Everyone knows who has done what to achieve the demand. We have put in all our effort and worked on a common platform for the same cause. We feel our effort will pay dividend very soon. We have to tell workers what has transpired. And that an announcement could possibility made on July 30 for implementation of the Minimum Wages Act,” said convener of the Hill Sub-Committee of the Joint Forum JB Tamang and general secretary of the Himalayan Plantation Workers Union (HPWU), affiliated to the Gorkha National LiberationFront.
With the State Government giving out positive vibes, Tamang who had earlier threatened an intensified agitation for the Minimum Wages Act demand, on Wednesday said the decision had been kept in abeyance. “We did announce our agitation programmes. The State Government has taken a step forward and so we too must back-down. This is how things are negotiated. However having said that, we will go ahead with our pre-announced agitation if the July 30 meeting does not yield the desired result,” Tamang said.
On the question of the amount to be fixed as the minimum wage, the trade unions said it should be implemented as per the Plantation Labour Act of 1948. The unions said they had not fixed an amount and that help of experts were being sought.(EOI)

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