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China dams worries APFEJ

A Correspondent
Guwahati, January 15: The Asia Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists (APFEJ) has ventilated concern at the ongoing construction of a number of hydroelectric dams in Brahmaputra inside Tibetan region of China. 

The umbrella organization of environmental journalists based in Asia Pacific region argues that once the dams on the 2,900 km long trans-boundary river will be commissioned; there will be massive ecological affect in northeast India and also in Bangladesh. 

Moreover, if the government at Beijing diverts some volume of water from Brahmaputra, Bangladesh will be severely affected, as the saline water of Bay of Bengal will enter to south Bangladesh and destroy the aquatic life and agricultural field.

The APFEJ, whose head office is based in Dhaka, also appealed to the Chinese government to officially disclose all relevant information about their dams in Tsangpo and if any plan to divert the water to fertile  the barren agricultural land in southern part of China to feed their huge population.

“The people of Bangladesh and northeast India must not be taken as granted for suffering because of the hydroelectric projects in upper riparian country (read China),” said APFEJ secretary Nava Thakuria. In a statement, he also added that as the mighty Brahmaputra crossed through all these countries, the benefit should be shared by every nation concerned without any discrimination.

Emotional Hasina conferred Doctor of Literature

A Correspondent
Agartala (India), January 12, 2012: Bangladesh Prime Minister who was conferred honorary Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) by the Tripura University Thursday expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for giving her shelter at New Delhi after 1975 bloody coup in Dhaka. She said Indians gave refuge to Bangladeshis during country's war of liberation in 1971 and she and her younger sister Sheikh Hasina had to take asylum in India after assassination of her father Bangabandhu Mujibar Rahman and that of 18 close members of the family on August 15 1975.

“I take the opportunity to thank Indira Gandhi and India as a whole for giving me and sister shelter in New Delhi where we stayed till 1981”, she said. She spoke at the university's Maharaja Bir Bikram auditorium after receiving the D.Lit from Vice President Hamid Ansari to mark 9th Convocation of the university.

Vice President Ansari, Prime Minister Hasina, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Governor Dinesh Nandan Sahay Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Chancellor Prof Amiya Bagchi and Vice Chancellor Prof Arunodhoy Saha with others joined Academic Procession at the university campus.

Hasina became emotionally charged when she gave an added speech in Bengali at end of her written speech in English. She recalled how largest human exodus of the last millennium occurred after occupation forces cracked down on people on March 25 in 1971.

“Tripura state was flooded with refugees more than its own population. Our freedom fighters received training support on this side of the border and fought with our Indian friends to the final surrender of the occupation forces”, she stated adding “how can we not remember with gratitude our friends in need in Tripura and India?”

She said, “As we touched down Agartala airport last evening, a flush of emotions overwhelmed me as I recalled the tremendous sacrifices during our glorious struggle for independence and the interesting role of your city at that time”. Sheikh Hasina went on saying that Agartala was known to them for the infamous 'Agartala Conspiracy Case' slapped on her father by Pakistani regime in 1966.

Union Minister Kapil Sibal in his speech underscored need for a transit facility through Bangladesh to accelerate process of development in northeastern region. He said time has come for India and Bangladesh to join hands for sake of mutual benefits and combating poverty.

Sheikh Hasina was later accorded a civic reception by Agartala Municipal Council at Assam Rifles ground before her departure with accompanying 100 members by a special flight of Bangladesh's national airliner Biman. Vice President Hamid Ansari also left for New Delhi on the day.

Bangladesh invited to power sector, gets nod from Hasina

A Correspondent
Agartala, January 11, 2012: India has invited investment from Bangladesh in power sector in northeast India. The external affairs ministry in a statement to commemorate visit of Sheikh Hasina in Agartala has reiterated India's liberal policy to permit 100 percent foreign direct investment in areas of projects relating to electrify generation, transmission and distribution.

Prime Minister Hasina has also shown interest in Bangladesh's partnership in power projects in the region. Speaking at the business conclave jointly organised by the CII and the business chambers of both countries in the evening after her arrival form Dhaka expressed serious willingness on joint venture in power sector.

“We are facilitating transportation of heavy equipments for installation of Palatana power project in South Tripura. But we also want some power from the plant and the partnership in this sector as well”, Hasina said. She said Tripura has huge stock of natural gas and can be potential for power generation on mutual benefits.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar also hinted that his government is not averse to export power from the state to Bangladesh. He said India should resolve some outstanding issues with Bangladesh without any complication.

Hasina also appealed India to work out solution on some matters with an open heart. “India is a great country and can solve some left out issues easily”, she asserted hinting at the imbroglio on Tista river water sharing.

Sheikh Hasina who came with a dozens of business leaders and politicians of her country mentioned that no country can progress alone, cooperation particularly at regional level is necessary. She felt need for expanding cooperation between neighbouring countries.

Bangladesh Prime Minister also talked about massive trade imbalance with India. She informed India has made 46 items tax free to facilitate more imports from Bangladesh, but said more needs to be done. She urged business leaders from Bangladesh and northeast India to explore more exports from Bangladesh.

The statement of the external affairs ministry in light of Hasina's historic visit to Agartala assumes significance. It pointed out that detail of cooperation can be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of the steering committee on power to be held at the level of secretaries of both sides.

Meanwhile union HRD minister Kapil Sibal who gave very short speech at the business conclave asserted that India is ready to set up education hubs and network to empower youths in Bangladesh. Sibal had accompanied vice president Hamid Ansari who presented President's Colour to the Tripura police for exemplary performance earlier on the day.

Bangladesh Prime Minister arrives in northeast India

A Correspondent
Agartala, January 11, 2012: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has arrived in Agartala Wednesday afternoon to begin her two days historic visit to the northeastern Tripura state. A big team of ministers, members of parliament, diplomats, officials and journalists accompanied Hasina Bangladesh liberation war attached city in their 20 minutes flight journey from Dhaka.

Prelude to her arrival Vice President of India accompanied by Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal landed at the Agartala airport at 1.30PM. Governor D.Y. Patel, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and other dignitaries received Ansari who was presented guard of honour at the airport before proceeding for the Raj Bhavan.

Sheikh Hasina who came with her younger sister Rehana Siddiqui, the other surviving member in the bloody coup of 1975 that killed their entire family inspected guard of honour presented by paramilitary Tripura State Rifles (TSR) at the state guest house where the Bangladeshi guests have been accommodated. The vice president would later moved to present President's Colour to Tripura police at the Arundhutinagar police ground.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina arrived in her special flight along with her sister, foreign minister Dr Dipu Moni, Ministers Dipankar Talukder and senior MPs like Rasheed Khan Menon. Sheikh Hasina is schedule to attend a business conclave co-organised by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and business chambers of both countries.

Vice President Ansari and Hasina would attend a cultural programme at Raj Bhavan and would attend a banquet at the state guest house later in the night. Main programme of both dignitaries is to attend 9th Convocation of Tripura Central University at Surjayamani Nagar Thursday morning.

Vice President Hamid Ansari would confer Hasina honorary D.Lit laurel on behalf of Tripura University. Hasina would also attend a civic reception programme before her departure to Dhaka Thursday afternoon.

Small tea growers get relief

A Correspondent
Guwahati, January 3, 2012: After tea has been declared as the state drink of Assam all set to gag tea companies from exploiting small tea growers in the state from next year onwards. Assam Industries and Power minister Pradyut Bordoloi recently announced that the state government plans to introduce a price sharing formula that will entitle small tea growers in the state to earn their right due.

The Tea Marketing Control Order which was introduced way back in 2003 never got implemented in its right earnest and with the small tea growers in the state apparently at loggerheads with the state government for failing to solve their concerns over the constant downfall of tea prices Pradyut Bordoloi while addressing the issue said that the emergence of a capitalist lobby of middlemen has ruined the small tea market making them the upper hand in taking advantage of government provisions.

All set to put a leash on exploiters, Bordoloi announced in front of newsman that the state government has already contacted the central government to allow a third party to carry out a certification process that will categorise and certify tea leaves on the basis of quality and production capability which in turn will fetch a better price at the market when the leaves are auctioned.

The minister further announced that the state government is all set to loan up to 2 crore rupees to small tea growers who fulfill the needed criteria set by the government to avail the loan which will also be available to Self help Groups, Co-operatives and even to registered societies given the right conditions are achieved. Bordoloi said that the state government would also aide small tea growers who have started cultivation in some other part of the state where tea cultivation is not the primary mode of income.

A total of 69,000 small tea growers exist in the state, however only 7 percent are availing the facilities laid down by the government forcing the small tea growers to rely on other means of manufacturing that costs a fortune for the not so well financed companies. If everything goes according to plans, not only it will be mandatory for tea companies to register with the state government, the implementation of the Tea Marketing Control Order will ensure that small tea growers receive their right dues.

ONGC CMD inspects operations

A Correspondent
Agartala, December 28, 2011: Sudhir Vasudeva, Chairman & Managing Director of oil giant ONGC, accompanied by K. S. Jamestin, Director (Human Resources), have arrived in the state Wednesday to oversee installations and operations.   

They visited Tripura Power Company Ltd (OTPC)'s site at Palatana to review work for installation of a mammoth thermal power project. The project has equities of ONGC, Central Government, Tripura government and Power Grid Corporation of India.   

They are expected to review other projects and initiatives of the ONGC and hold meetings with local asset officials before departing for New Delhi Thursday. ONGC has huge exploration activity in Tripura.

Bangladesh PM to visit Tripura

A Correspondent
Agartala, December 26, 2011: Ending all speculation Bangladesh government has finalised visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Agartala in Agartala on January 11 next to attend two receptions. Tripura University is to confer D Lit to her in an auspicious ceremony in the university campus and state government in liaison with city municipal council would accord her civic reception during her two day visit.  

Tripura University for past two years is persuading Bangladesh government through India's diplomatic channel to accept its invitation to bestow honorary doctorate laurel to Hasina. Meantime a delegation of erstwhile royal family of Tripura led by Rajmata Bibhu Kumari Devi that visited Dhaka on an official invitation some months back also requested her to visit the state.  

Sheikh Hasina's visit would mark first visit in the state by a prime minister of a foreign country. Sources said her visit plan in Agartala which was main operation centre of Indian army and Bangladesh liberators (Mukti Fouz) during war of liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 was cleared after long deliberations between two governments.  

India's vice president Hamid Ansari would also attend the programmes during Hasina's visit and would have a separate foundation stone laying engagement at the university campus at Suryamani Nagar in Agartala city outskirts. High level preparatory and security review are being held to pave visit of both dignitaries.

Ex rebels in agitation path

A Correspondent
Agartala, December 20, 2011: Police foiled attempts of former extremists to launch indefinite hunger stir in the main government office complex in Agartala Tuesday. The joint action committee (JAC) comprising militants from different underground groups surrendered to the authorities had announced agitation to pres six point demands.  

A strong contingent of Tripura State Rifles (TSR) and police were deployed in the office complex at Gorkhabasti, close to the Raj Bhavan. The security men prevented some 100 odd former extremists from approaching towards the venue citing prohibitory order.  

“Agitation is our right and the police have forcefully disallowed us. This is unacceptable and violation of our democratic rights”, JAC Secretary Sailen Kumar Bru told newsmen. Police held them confined at Stable Ground for hours before releasing them in batches.  

Extremists who surrendered sporadically between 1992 and 1998 are members of the JAC. They are raising demands on six issues like financial assistance to build house, continuation of monthly stipend and withdrawal of pending court cases against them.  

Sailen Kumar Bru informed that some 1,200 extremists surrendered during the period and many of them awaiting rehabilitation in accordance with the set peace package of the government. He said numerous extremists are gripped in acute financial crisis and many are suffering from mental distress for which state government has to be blamed.  

He warned they would take agitation programme afresh for sake of justice.

Naga dictionary completes 100 years

A Correspondent
Kohima, Agartala, December 19, 2011: Ao Naga dictionary, authored and published by Dr. E.W Clark, the first foreign Missionary to Naga Hills has completed hundred years. Dr Clark, an American Missionary, who came to Molungkimong village in 1872 for the first time with a vision to take the Hill people from darkness to light, published the Ao Naga dictionary in 1911 after years of hard work during his stay in the Ao region.

The Dictionary with 12,215 Ao Naga words explaining its meaning in English in 977 pages was revised by Education and Literature Board of the Ao Baptist Arogo Mungdang (ABAM) and the revised version was formerly released by Deputy commissioner, Mokokchung, Lithrongla G. Chishi at Mokokchung Town  Baptist Church on 18th December 2011.           

Releasing the Revised dictionary Lithrongla paid rich tribute to Dr. Clark for leaving his legacy of love and concern to the Aos and appealed to the Ao community and the ABAM to show their love and concern for others as Dr. Clark did for them. Walling, former Secretary, Education and Literature Board, ABAM, who single handedly took the pain to revise the dictionary, said the original Dr. Clark's dictionary was revised to make it more useful to the Ao speaking people.            

President, Ao Students conference and representative from Ao Senden Literature Board and their speech expressed their gratitude to ABAM for their tireless work. Executive Secretary, ABAM Rev. Dr. Mar Atsongchanger, who was the main speaker on the occasion, said the edited version of Clark's dictionary will be made available for sale as early as possible.           

Certificate of Appreciation was also awarded posthumously to Dr. Clark in recognition of his contribution and three Aos from Mulongyimsen village for helping Dr. Clark in authoring the dictionary.  

Officer faces rage over molestation charge

A Correspondent
Agartala, December 14, 2011: Opposition parties and employees unions have expressed utter sadness over left front government's apathy to initiate action against a senior officer accused of molesting a woman staff. Tripura Commission for Women led by Chairperson Dr Tapati Chakraborty has completed its fact finding inquiry into the complaint lodged by the victim.  

Main opposition Congress and employees federation leaders have been demanding stringent action against Urban Development Deputy Director SSSBP Misra (rpt SSSBP Misra). Even after five days of the incident no proceeding was set off against Misra who is allegedly trying to garner support from top brass of the administration.  

Sensation gripped official circles after 28 year old tribal woman complained that the earring officers called her in his chamber on plea of a work and molested her. The incident had immediate repercussion in urban development office with angry staffs roughing up SSSBP Misra and ransacked his chamber.  

“The left front government that speaks to protect right of women of all sections in fact allowing people outraging modesty of women to remain out of ambit of law”, said a senior Congress leader.  

He reminded report of the union home ministry which portrayed Tripura as top of list in cases of rape, molestation and kidnapping considering population ratio. Employees' federation owing allegiance to opposition warned that despite demands placed to the authorities no action has been taken against Misra.  

Meanwhile Tripura Commission for Women has completed enquiry into the molestation case and forwarded its report to the government for taking action. “We have found truth into the complaint of woman and we want authorities initiate action against him”, Chairperson Dr Tapati Chakraborty told newsmen.