CAPTION: At the fire station construction site in Mirik by EOI
MIRIK, 4 Mar 2014: The long awaited construction of a fire station has finally begun in Mirik with a total budget of Rs3.21 crore. The amount allocated for the first phase of construction is Rs92 lakh and work is expected to be completed within eight months. With adequate supply of water from the lake, the fire station will help in saving human lives and property in and around the Mirik region, said residents.
Public water hydrants in Kurseong decreasing in number
KURSEONG, 4 Mar 2014: The public water hydrants or water taps installed by social workers and public administration has gone down in number in and around Kurseong. The hydrants which was supposed to be increased with the passage of time and as the population increases, has surprisingly decreased in numbers.
The public water hydrants have been reportedly gone missing or are being misused in the Kurseong Municipality area, which has resulted in increased problems for the people. Some public connections have reportedly been illegally encroached to be used for personal needs and almost all public connections that have been in service for the water requirements of the people have disappeared.
The decrease in number of hydrants in the area could be due to the negligence in timely and proper supply of drinking water and also due to improper upkeep of the hydrants. As water problem increases in Kurseong, the decreasing number of public hydrants has added to the problems faced by the public.
When asked, KM Water Works in-charge Subash Pradhan said that he does not have the exact information about the total number of public hydrants installed in Kurseong Municipality area. However, he acknowledged the fact that the some public hydrants have been misplaced or misused during the GNLG regime.
He further said most of the people in the area have their own private water connections, supplied by KM. However, keeping in mind the shortage of water and the growing population, he will emphasize on installation of public-water taps and also increase vigilance on illegal usage of public connections. He also informed that a survey will soon be conducted to know the number of hydrants that were installed and have gone missing.
Kalimpong police accused of extortion
PRADIP LOHAGUN, KALIMPONG, 4 Mar 2014: The butcher fraternity of the Haat-bazaar abattoir have accused the police of extortion. According to some members, an officer stopped a vehicle carrying buffaloes on Monday night and demanded money. When the driver refused to pay up, the officer seized the vehicle and as the weather was quite cold, one of the animals died, they alleged.
Angry over the death, the meat sellers today went to the police station and lodge a complaint. One of them named Bikram Baraily said the vehicle was carrying four buffaloes and the policeman kept did not let it go for nearly three hours, leading to a buffalo’s death and huge losses.
“The policeman initially demanded Rs10,000 and later came down to Rs7,000. As he kept nagging the driver for three hours, one of the animals died right inside the vehicle,” alleged Baraily.
The meat sellers asserted they have been paying all necessary taxes to the concerned departments including the municipality, veterinary department and Naxalbari GP from where the animals are brought. They said despite all this, the police unnecessarily harass them with demands for money.
The Kalimpong police have not issued any statement and IC Achinta Gupta also declined to comment on the matter.
Panighatta unit CP supports formation of UT
PANIGHATTA, 4 Mar 2014: Panighatta unit Chattra Parishad leadership today said they will support the formation of a Union Territory comprising of the Darjeeling Hills along with Dooars-Terai.
MN Sharma of CP Darjeeling District Samiti said the unit will pressurise the West Bengal government for the issue and will soon submit a deputation to the Darjeeling District Magistrate demanding the same. The Congress has always been in support of formation of a Union Territory, he added. (EOIC)
EVM shortage hitch to holding bypolls with LS elections
Kolkata, 4 March: The shortage of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) has cast a shadow on the holding of by-elections to the six vacant Assembly seats in West Bengal simultaneously with the coming Lok Sabha poll.
Santipur and Chakdah in Nadia, Kumargram and Maynaguri in Jalpaiguri, Kotulpur in Bankura and Galsi in Burdwan are the six Assembly seats in the state that fell vacant recently. The vacancies mostly came up due to switching of parties by sitting MLAs; in case of Chakdah it was because of the sudden death of the sitting Trinamul MLA. The state Assembly last week notified all the six vacancies, thus paving way for the conduct of by-elections in these seats along with the Lok Sabha polls.
But sources in the office of the West Bengal state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said that holding the by-polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections may not be possible due to the shortage of EVMs.
“We have about 1-lakh EVMs that just meet our requirement for conducting the Lok Sabha poll in 77,241 polling stations that are there in the state. To conduct by-polls in the six Assembly seats, there is a need for around 2,400 additional EVMs that we are unable to manage on our own,” said a senior official in the CEO’s office.
The CEO’s office has written to the Election Commission (EC) pointing out the matter so that the poll panel has all practical issues in mind while announcing the poll schedule. The communiqué has also pointed out that around 1,800 EVMs in the state are lying locked due to ongoing court cases filed by losing candidates in connection with the 2004 Lok Sabha polls for Nabadwip seat and the 2006 Assembly poll for Baduria constituency.
“These EVMs could have otherwise come handy for the by-polls now. Given the circumstances, we shall have no problem in holding a simultaneous Assembly by-polls only if the EC can facilitate us the additional EVMs from somewhere else,” the officer added.
The Bengal CEO’s office, however, is aware that getting the additional 2,400-odd EVMs from other states will not be an easy task. This is because the Lok Sabha polls are to be held throughout the country over a fixed period of time.
“There is a 45-day locking period before which an EVM used in an election cannot be reused for another poll. Hence, even though the Lok Sabha polls will be held in the country in phases, every state must have its own adequate stock as there is no scope for multiple use of one EVM,” said an EC official.
Besides this, keeping in mind the malfunctioning of EVMs, maintaining an EVM reserve of 20-25 per cent over the actual number of polling stations is a must. Going by this, the actual requirement for one polling station ranges between 1.4 to 1.5 EVMs.
“The only way out is if the EC can make some other state, where the EVM reserve is a little higher, to release some voting machines for West Bengal,” the official concluded.
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