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Ex CPI(M) ministers face CBI


Agartala, April 26, 2018: Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI has questioned two former ministers of CPI(M) led left front government in connection with several thousand crore worth Rose Valley scam. 

The agency questioned Bijita Nath and Badal Choudhury on Wednesday and Thursday respectively at MLA Hostel No 2 here. Despite CPI(M)’s massive defeat to BJP-IPFT coalition in assembly elections held in February last, the duo got elected to the assembly.

BSF receives ultra-marathon runner Samir at Kohima


Agartala, April 26, 2018: 93 Battalion BSF gave a warm welcome to the ultra-marathon runner Samir Singh, 45, of Kanaheda Village in Madhya Pradesh at Kohima. Samir has been running the marathon from Wagha border since December 1 2017 which was flagged off by K.K. Sharma, DG BSF and sponsored by Bollywood actor, Akshay Kumar.

Singh covered the coastline and the entire borders of the nation in commemoration of martyrs of BSF “Bharat Ke Veer”.

BSF officials said DG BSF has decided to support the run and provided necessary assistance, boarding and lodging, to Samir Singh and his team of 5-6 members enroute, wherever BSF is located. Samir will be running 80-100 kms per day including night hours. He has covered Amritsar, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Abohar, Sriganganager, Sirsa, Hissar and Rohtak, till Delhi in one week.

He reached Aizawl on April 16 evening and further reached Tuvai under Churachandpur district on April 21 and then to CC Pur town on April 23, Imphal on April 24 and reached Kohima on Wednesday. His next destination will be Itanagar, Guwahati, Gangtok, Patna, Bareilly, Dehradun, Shimla, Manali, Leh, Kargil, Srinagar, Jammu and will culminate at Wagha after five months.

NDMA conducts mock earthquake exercise in NE


Guwahati, April 26, 2018:  A multi-State mock exercise on earthquake was conducted by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in three North Eastern States of Tripura, Nagaland and Mizoram today for assessing the preparedness and response mechanism of the State Governments in a disaster situation. The exercise was conducted in collaboration with the respective State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs).

The exercise simulated the 1897 Shillong earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale, which had devastated the entire Shillong plateau and affected the whole of northeast.

The simulation exercise was conducted simultaneously in all districts across the three States at select locations, including hospitals, shopping malls, schools and high-rise residential buildings to assess and improve the administration’s capacity in mobilising resources and reaching out to the affected communities swiftly.

The exercise started with sirens indicating the occurrence of tremors. Everybody ducked under the tables while covering their heads. Once the tremors stopped, evacuation drills were conducted. Soon afterwards, State Emergency Operation Centres (SEOCs) were activated.

Simultaneously, EOCs at the districts also got activated, assessed the damage, formed rescue teams under Incident Commanders and dispatched them to the respective locations. Rescue drills were conducted in coordination with various agencies, such as Traffic control, Fire Fighting department, Ambulances, Police and Civil Defence. People buried under the rubble were rescued and sent to hospitals after administering first aid and triage.

Afterwards, NDMA experts carried out post-exercise analyses, wherein independent observers from the Army shared their feedback and suggested ways to further streamline response mechanisms.

"Mock exercises strengthen the capacity and response mechanisms of all stakeholders. These also help improve coordination among various agencies, which is the key to a successful post-disaster response," said Lt. Gen. N.C. Marwah (Retd.), Member, NDMA.

Today’s exercise was preceded by orientation-cum-coordination conferences and tabletop exercises in all the participating States to ensure the smooth facilitation of the exercise.

This exercise is significant as the entire North East is located in the seismic zone V. n earthquake can cause major damage in terms of lives and infrastructure. This mock drill will ensure better response in the event of a disaster to reduce loss of lives. It will also generate awareness among the local population who are the first respondents in case of any disaster.

Measures to promote heritage hill railways


Maligaon, April 26, 2018: The Railway Ministry has decided to give more powers to Divisional Railway Managers and Directors of the five iconic Heritage Hill Railways of Indian Railways for enhancing their tourist potential and scientific preservation. In a directive issued by Executive Director/Heritage of the Railway Board, Subrata Nath has said that local communities within the operational area of these railways should be encouraged to participate in promoting tourism by providing them opportunities to showcase their art, culture, cuisine etc.

The five Hill Heritage Railways are - Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), Kalka Shimla Railway (KSR), Kangra Valley Railway (KVR) and Matheran Light Railway (MLR).

According to the new directive, the respective Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs), under whom the concerned Hill Railway operates, can treat these Hill Railways as separate activity and profit centres of the Division concerned. The DRMs are empowered to approve all regular and seasonal train services  i.e. Joy Ride trains, Charter trips and Holiday Special train trips etc. to meet tourist and local demand.

The division concerned can engage any suitable agency for designing, packaging and marketing of tourist packages on these hill railways.

It may be mentioned that, the Chariman Railway Board Ashwini Lohani during his visit to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway last month had instructed for empowering Directors of Hill Railways to process and grant permission for film shooting and publicity of these railways for attracting more tourists.

CBI grills ex Minister Bijita Nath


Agartala, April 25, 2018: CBI interrogated former CPI(M) Minister Bijita Nath – second in past four months – in connection with Rose Valley chit fund scam. A team of the agency grilled her at the MLA Hostel No 2 on Wednesday afternoon. 

Nath faced the questioning for almost two hours. Her advocate Haribol Debnath was present.

The former minister was earlier questioned in January this year. CBI would grill CPI(M) stalwart and former PWD Minister Badal Choudhury tomorrow in connection with same case.

Earthquake Mock Exercise in Northeast


New Delhi, April 25, 2018: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) conducted table-top exercises at Tripura and Nagaland on Wednesday and at Mizoram on Tuesday. These exercises were held in the run-up to the mock exercise on earthquake preparedness to be held in these North Eastern States on April 26.

Concerned officers from all districts and stakeholder departments participated in the exercise. The districts confirmed that their Disaster Management Plans (DMPs) had been updated. Response Teams identified and other preparations for the exercise had been put in place. This was followed by presentations by various stakeholder departments.

The table-top exercises were conducted based on scenarios created in collaboration with State Departments as per seismic mapping and other related hazards.

Independent observers were briefed about their role and standard feedback forms were given to them. Sites for the mock exercise and administrative arrangements were finalised.

Earlier, Coordination-cum-Orientation Conferences were also held to ensure the smooth facilitation of the mock exercise, which is being conducted by NDMA in collaboration with the State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs).

The National Disaster Guidelines significantly focuses on Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness for a disaster situation. In its efforts towards improving the management of a disaster situation, NDMA has so far conducted more than 600 mock exercises across the country on various disasters.

CBI accepts probe plea in scribes’ murder


Agartala, April 24, 2018: The Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI, accepted recommendation of new BJP-IPFT alliance government to conduct probe in brutal murders of two journalists last year. A team of the central agency is expected to arrive here soon to commence investigation, official sources said on Tuesday. 

Tripura government earlier appraised the High Court about process to invoke probe by CBI in murder incidents. Advocate General Arun Kanti Bhowmik made the statement before the Division Bench in public interest litigation (PIL) to call the central agency in murder enquiry.

Santanu was killed while covering tension between supporters of the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the CPI(M) at Mandwai, 25kms east of Agartala. Within two months another journalist senior crime reporter Sudip Datta Bhowmik was shot dead in headquarters of 2nd battalion of Tripura State Rifles (TSR) at Radha Kishore Nagar near Agartala.

While father of Santanu moved a PIL in High Court of Tripura for a CBI probe, family of Sudip also clamoured for CBI. The demand was supported by ten media organisations that spearheaded stir against murder of two journalists while discharging professional obligations.

In first meeting of council of ministers of BJP – IPFT coalition government adopted a resolution to refer murder cases of both the journalists to the CBI. State government officials said process almost completed to engage CBI in the gruesome murders that invited condemnation from across the world.

CBI advances in Rose Valley probe in Tripura


Agartala, April 24, 2018: Ending months of reluctance, CBI has finally directed its investigation against political bigwigs of Tripura in connection with Rose Valley scam. After former Social Welfare Minister Bijita Nath, CPI(M) stalwart and former PWD Minister Badal Chouhdury received notice from the central agency which already made considerable progress in other states like West Bengal, Assam and Odisha.

CBI has in a letter approached Speaker Rebati Mohan Das seeking his sanction to question Nath and Chouhdury. The ponzi company Rose Valley mastered several hundred crores during its 15 years operation in Tripura.

A number of ministers, some prominent leaders of CPI(M) and officials of immediate past government had a nexus with the Rose Valley. The company allegedly extended financial benefit in lieu of support.

Last year CBI briefly grilled Minister Bijita Nath and CPI(M) strongman Gautam Das. Both denied their involvement in the scam.

AFSPA removed from Meghalaya, eased in Arunachal


Agartala, April 23, 2018: Meghalaya has become third state in northeast India to have completely withdrawn the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). The central government revoked the stringent law in compliance with recommendation of new rainbow coalition government of the state.

Mizoram and Tripura earlier vacated AFSPA. The centre also relaxed the act in Arunachal Pradesh where now eight police station limits come under its authority.

AFSPA however continues to remain enforced in Manipur and Nagaland states, and larger areas of Assam.

Spl audit in MGNREGA begins in Tripura


Agartala, April 23, 2018: Special MGNREGA has on Monday begun in Tripura as incumbent BJP-IPFT incumbent government has resolved to eradicate corruption in Tripura. Four of eight districts were taken in phase one of the audit and rest of the districts would be conducted in the second phase.

Jishnu Debbarma, State’s Deputy Chief Minister in charge of Finance, recently alleged of Rs 140 crore corruption in the central flagship programme during CPI(M) left front regime in the state.