February 28, 2009

Tata Nano all set to hit the road on 23rd March

Kolkata, 27th February: FINALLY THE long wait of the middle class people for the Rs one lakh Tata Nano car seems to be coming to an end. On Thursday (February 26), Tata Motors announced that the Tata Nano will be launched at a glittering function in Mumbai on March 23, 2009.
According to company sources Tata Nano cars will be on display at Tata Motors dealership from the first week of April 20009. From the second week of April 2009 people can book the dream car. Tata Motors said that the booking process and other details of the Rs one lakh car will be announced on the day of the launch.
Meanwhile, the company is making arrangements for the widest possible network to book the car, so that interested customers can conveniently avail booking facilities at their locations, across India. Touted as the world’s cheapest family car, Tata Nano car was first unveiled at the auto expo in Delhi on January 10, 2008. Since it’s unveiling, the car has evoked unprecedented interest in the country.
The official website of Tata Nano has recorded over 30 million hits in the past one year and at the same time over 6,000 interest groups and communities have been created. However, due to rift between Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress Party and West Bengal government, Tata Motors had to relocate its manufacturing plant from Singur to Sanad in Gujarat.
Tata Motors ambitious project Tata Nano has became the centre of attraction for middle class people, who were earlier not able to buy four wheelers. Let us see, how much interest people show n buying the car, as the whole country has been badly hit by recession.

No decision yet on post-poll support to Cong.: Basu

KOLKATA, 27th February, 2009 : The Leftfront may face a tough battle in West Bengal if the Congress and Trinamool join hands in the coming Lok Sabha elections, party patriarch Jyoti Basu on Friday said while maintaining that it has not taken any decision on extending support to the former after the polls.

"We cannot say it at this stage. No decision has been taken by the party in this regard," 95-year-old Basu said when asked if the CPI(M) would extend support to the Congress after the parliamentary polls.

Basu, who came to attend the CPI(M) State secretariat meeting at the party's Alimuddin Street headquarters, told reporters that the party would face a tough battle if Congress and Trinamool Congress forged an alliance in the LS polls in West Bengal and might get less seats compared to what it had won in the 2004 election.

Asked what strategy the party would adopt in the coming election, he replied, "We will go to the people and explain". The State secretariat meeting assumed significance as it was authorised by the CPI(M) State committee to approve the party's list of candidates for the LS polls.

West Bengal, Emami in pact for pulp, paper project

Kolkata, Feb 27: West Bengal Industrial Development Corp (WBIDC) and the city-based Emami Group Friday inked a pact for setting up a greenfield integrated pulp and paper project at an investment of Rs.22 billion (Rs.2,200 crore).The proposed project at Kutikri in West Midnapore district will be part of a Paper and Allied Products Park being developed by WBIDC.
“There will be a high-end printing and writing paper plant with a capacity of 200,000 tonnes per annum. The plant will be developed using the state-of-the art technology from Scandinavia and Germany,” state Industries Minister Nirupam Sen said at the signing of the pact, where Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was also present.

R.S. Agarwal, joint chairman of the Emami Group, said around 1,415 acres will be required for the project, which is likely to be commissioned 42 months after the company got possession of land.

Asked whether acquiring land could pose problems in view of the recent controversies over land acquisition, the chief minister said “No”. The project is expected to generate captive power of around 40 MW and employ around 1,000 people directly and 4,000 indirectly.

“To conserve energy, the plant will utilise the spent liquor from the process to generate steam and power for their captive use,” Agarwal said. The project also envisages setting up of social infrastructure, including hospitals, school and market facilities, for the employees and the local population.

BDR mutiny hits India-Bangladesh trade

Kolkata, Feb 27 : At least 500 trucks ferrying goods to Bangladesh, were stranded at the India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal’s Petrapole Friday as exporters feared a loss of Rs.2 billion ($38.83 million) following the mutiny by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) troopers. “As of now, at least 500 trucks with both perishable and other goods are stuck at the border,” Raja Roy, general secretary, Calcutta Goods Transport Association, told mediaperson.

West Bengal Exporter Coordination Committee secretary Ujjal Saha said: “In north Bengal, there could be a loss of Rs.2 billion. Vegetables and fruits are becoming stale”. India shares a 4,095 km-long border with Bangladesh, of which the longest stretch - 2,216 km - is in West Bengal.

After the mutiny, vigil was stepped up all along the border. The Border Security Force asked people to keep distance from the border and the authorities restricted movement of vehicles. The administration on the Indian side suspended operations at the three land customs stations (LCS) in West Bengal - at Mehadipur in Malda district, Hili in south Dinajpur and Chengrabandha in Cooch Behar districts.

The international check post at Petrapole had remained closed for about six hours Thursday following fears that the Bangladesh army personnel could be arriving to take over the outposts at Benapole on the Bangladesh side from the BDR.

The stalemate continued till 3 p.m., and even the two Dhaka-bound buses from Kolkata had to wait. Later on, the buses were allowed to cross over to Bangladesh. “But till now trucks are not being allowed to go by the customs authorities,” Roy said, adding he hoped something positive will happen in a day or two and the normal pace will be restored. As per a rough estimate, trade worth Rs.3 billion takes place with Bangladesh through West Bengal daily.

An official at Mehadipur said 200 trucks carrying perishable goods were still stranded at the border. Gunfights broke out inside the BDR headquarters in Dhaka Wednesday morning as BDR troopers mutinied to protest poor wages and frequent transfers.

The government held talks with a delegation of the mutineers Thursday and an agreement was reached but by that time, the mutiny spread to other BDR camps located all over the country. The revolt ended in the face of an imminent attack by the Bangladesh Army which moved tanks into position outside the BDR headquarters. The mutineers then laid down their arms.

Eighty-two percent polling in West Bengal by-election

Kolkata, February 26,2009: Eighty-two percent of the electorate cast their votes in Thursday’s by-poll to West Bengal’s Bishnupur (West) assembly seat, officials said.They said there were no untoward incidents and polling in in the constituency in South 24 Parganas district passed off peacefully. The votes will be counted March 1.

Trinamool Congress nominee Madan Mitra is pitted against Communist Party of India(Marxist)- CPI(M) candidate Dr. Iskandar Hussain. The Congress had withdrawn its candidate in favour of Madan Mitra.

The election has assumed importance as it would be the last trial of strength between West Bengal’s ruling Leftfront and the opposition before the April-May Lok Sabha polls. The death of CPI(M)’s Rathin Sarkar, who won the seat in 2006, had necessitated the by-election.

February 26, 2009

Centrotherm To Build 50-MW Thin-film Plant

KOLKATA: Centrotherm photovoltaics AG has received an order to construct a thin-film plant. Illies Renewables GmbH, Hamburg, has ordered a 50-megawatt (MW) production line for thin-film modules based on CIGS technology for its production location at Magdeburg-Rothensee, Germany.

The order value is in excess of €60 million. Delivery of the lines will begin prospectively in the first half of 2010. Illies Renewables is a project development company active in the renewable energies area.

"It gives us great pleasure to support Illies Renewables in their entry into thin-film technology," said Hans Autenrieth, member of the board of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. "This order provides further confirmation that we have backed a pioneering technology in CIGS."

Last year, Renewable Energy World Magazine reported that centrotherm plans to set up a 5000 tonne capacity polysilicon processing factory in the state of West Bengal in eastern India at an investment of US $3.18 billion. The factory is likely to be the first such plant in India and the state government has already allotted a quarter of the land needed for the 790-acre project. The factory will produce both electronic and solar grade silicon and will be equipped with a 100 MW captive power plant.

FDI inflow from NRIs steady despite recession

NEW DELHI: Global recession had no impact on Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from Indians abroad as it has registered a rise in the current fiscal, the Lok Sabha was informed. Highlighting investment figures from the states, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said: "There has been no decline in investment due to global recession during 2008 as compared to 2007." Goa and West Bengal figured as the highest investment attracting states with the former receiving Rs 30 crore and the latter Rs 20.3 crore in FDIs.

NRIs, Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Corporate Bodies (OCB) accounted for FDIs and Foreign Technology Cases (FTC) worth Rs 70 crore during January to September 2008 in comparison to Rs 65.8 crore for the period January to December 2007, Ravi told the Lok Sabha.

Paramount Airways to fly to Kolkata by June

Kolkata: After entering the southern and western markets of the country, private carrier Paramount Airways is now planning to launch services to the eastern sector by June. “We are looking at June to begin operations to and from Kolkata,” the Chennai-based company’s managing director M. Thiagarajan told the media here Wednesday. Thiagarajan said initially the airlines will operate two to three flights between Chennai and Kolkata. “Later, we will connect Kolkata with all the southern cities via Chennai.”

He said his company was ready to get into the northeast too. “For instance, we can launch a service to Dibrugarh.” Thiagarajan met West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Wednesday. “He requested me to operate services from Coochbehar, and promised all support.”
The airline now operates from three destinations in western India - Pune, Goa and Ahmedabad, and is the market leader in the south, with a 26 percent share.

He said by 2010, Paramount will operate flights in the northern and northeastern parts of the country. “Post-2011, we will look at flying on international routes,” Thiagarajan said. The company now has five aircraft, and has plans to buy three more by March-end. By 2009-end, the total number of aircraft will go up to 11.

“We will buy 10 numbers of either Boeing 787 or Airbus 350 once we start operating on the international route,” he said. Thiagarajan claimed that while the other airlines lost 8-10 percent of their passengers last year due to the slowdown, the number of Paramount’s passengers increased 5-6 percent.

Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) in West Bengal cleared by Union Cabinet

New Delhi : With the union cabinet clearing proposals of the West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat governments for setting up Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Regions (PCPIRs) in their territorial domain, a major hurdle has been removed in the way of investment worth more than Rs 4,50,000 crore in PCPIRs, chemicals minister Ram Vilas Paswan said today.

“With the cabinet clearing the proposals for three PCPIRs, I believe investment would now start flowing in these regions. Going by their (the states’) estimates, investment worth Rs 4,50,000 crore should start happening there,” Paswan said. The PCPIR policy notified in April 2007 seeks to ensure adoption of a holistic approach to the development of global scale industrial clusters in the petroleum, chemical and petrochemical sectors in an integrated and environment-friendly manner. “They would have high-class infrastructure, and provide a competitive environment conducive for setting up businesses. They would thus result in a boost to manufacturing, augmentation of exports and generation of employment, all needed to counter the effects of the global economic downturn,” the minister said.

As per the policy, 40 per cent of the area would be a processing zone, while the remaining would be the non-processing area consisting of residential, commercial and other social and institutional infrastructure. In terms of the policy, the state government is only required to notify and not acquire the entire area. A PCPIR includes SEZ(s), Free Trade and Warehousing Zones, Industrial Parks and existing industrial clusters. All existing labour laws would be applicable in the PCPIR and SEZs, in the region, if any, would be governed by special laws.

Of the three proposals approved, the Andhra Pradesh government has proposed to set up a PCPIR at Vishakhapatnam-Kakinada-Rajahmundry belt covering an area of 603.58 sq km. The total industrial investment in it is estimated at Rs 343,000 crore including committed investments of Rs 1, 63,890 crore and the envisaged direct and indirect employment in the PCPIR is estimated to be about 5.25 lakh and 6.73 lakh persons respectively. The state has identified HPCL and GMR-led consortia as the two anchor tenants for this project. Similarly, the Narendra Modi administration in Gujarat has proposed to set up a PCPIR at Dahej spread over blocks of Vagra and Bharuch in south Gujarat, covering 453 sq km at an estimated investment of Rs 50,000 crore.

West Bengal had proposed to host a PCPIR in Haldia in Purba Medinipur district covering the existing Haldia Municipal Area and the adjoining areas of Haldia Development Authority (including Nayachar Island), covering an area of 250.19 sq km. The government has estimated a total investment of Rs 93,180 crore in the proposed PCPIR, including a committed investment of Rs 48,180 crore.

West Bengal: Trinamool seeks tie-up with Congress

KOLKATA: A small section of Congress leaders in West Bengal may be more than keen to strike a deal with Trinamool Congress to fight the Lok Sabha elections jointly, but this cross-section has no role to play in finalising the deal with Mamata Banerjee. The Congress high command will finally decide on the issue.
"We can’t decide on fighting the coming Lok Sabha elections jointly with Trinamool Congress. We have already informed our party high command that we want an adjustment with Trinamool Congress. But a final decision in this regard will be taken by our party high command," leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) Manas Bhunia said on Wednesday.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is also aware of the situation which reasons her not attaching too much importance to hold talks with West Bengal Congress leaders. It is learnt that Mamata is holding talks with AICC leaders in Delhi regarding striking the deal with the Congress to take on the CPI(M) in the coming parliamentary elections. Mamata is maintaining silence on the issue and has reportedly assigned some of her trusted leaders to keep a close watch on state Congress leaders to gauge how many of them are serious about the alliance.
The AICC will hold a two-day session in Delhi from March 2 which will be attended by all state Congress presidents, legislative party leaders and party spokespersons. It is expected that the issue of a poll alliance in West Bengal will surface at the meeting and senior AICC leaders will try to ascertain from the West Bengal Congress leaders the electoral gains the Congress could achieve by striking a deal with Mamata Banerjee.
Meanwhile, second-ranking leaders of both the Congress and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal are continuing to run each other down. "Mamata Banerjee may be interested in striking a deal with our party to fight the elections jointly. But, her lieutenants are putting in all efforts to ruin the possibilities of finalising the seat-sharing. I request Mamata to identify her own party leaders who are on a mission to destroy the chances of a deal," Mr Bhunia said on Wednesday.
Mr Bhunia’s target was Partha Chatterjee, the opposition leader and Trinamool Congress MLA, who has made a scathing attack against external affairs minister and West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Pranab Mukherjee, holding him responsible for helping out the CPI(M) in getting central funds for various developmental projects in West Bengal.

Maoists attack railway station, kill one RPF personnel

Purulia: A Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel was killed and three others were injured, two of them critically, when Maoists attacked the Biramdih railway station in this West Bengal district, opened fire and fled after snatching their rifles.

S R Majhi (24) was critically injured and died at the Bokaro hospital in Jharkhand, where he was shifted along with the other two from Purulia sadar hospital for treatment, Railway sources said.
About 10 Maoists took the RPF personnel by surprise by suddenly opening fire from sophisticated weapons at the station, 20 km from here in the Adra division of South Eastern Railway, Divisional Railway Manager Om Prakash Choubey said.

There would have been more casualty had the station been crowded, sources said, adding luckily for the passengers there was no train in the station when the Maoists struck. The attackers escaped through the common border with Jharkhand minutes after the operation. The leaflets and hand bills left by them were seized by the police.

WB Govt accepts Fifth Pay Commission recommendations

Kolkata: With Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the West Bengal Government today announced the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission with certain improvements, which will be effective from April 1 this year.

"The state government has accepted, by and large, the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission, constituted by it, with certain improvements," Finance minister Asim Dasgupta said.

Beneficiaries will include ten lakh government employees, teachers and other staff, while the government has to incur an additional expenditure of about Rs 5,700 crore annually, he said.

Dasgupta said that replacing the existing pay scales, a revised pay structure with five Pay Bands and distinct Grade Pay for each of the unrevised pay scales have been introduced.

Giving an example, Dasgupta said a Group-D employee now drawing a basic pay of Rs 2,600 plus dearness pay of Rs 1,300 would get Rs 6,600 as basic pay in the revised pay structure. The highest basic scale in Pay Band-5 will be from Rs 37,400 to Rs 60,000, he said.

Govt announces bank loans for unemployed

KOLKATA, Feb 26, 2009: People who are unemployed have a reason to cheer as the state government of West Bengal has announced bank loans of Rs 50,000 for the unemployed youth. The state government announced the scheme on February 24th with a view to help the unemployed youth who want to start their own ventures. Labour Minister Mrinal Banerjee discussed the loan granting procedure in a meeting with the representatives of RBI, Bank of Baroda, SBI and other banks.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Banerjee said, "We have worked out a new scheme, Udiyaman Swanirbhar Karmasanstan Prakalpa 2008, for unemployed youth who set up small business ventures in the state. We are looking at businesses where the minimum investment will be Rs 50,000 and maximum investment Rs 5 lakh. The state government will provide a 25% subsidy for these business ventures."

He stated that, "Youths, between 18 and 45 years of age, would be given Rs 50,000 each. Of this, the state government will pay Rs 12,000." The minister said that if ten individuals joined together to prepared a scheme, then they would get loan of Rs 5 lakh and the government would pay Rs 1.25 lakh of that amount.

This scheme will be available to those people who have registered with employment exchanges and have not received any job through the exchange in the past one year. "We plan to launch the scheme in the current financial year. A screening committee will be set up with representatives from the labour department, district administration, banks and chambers who will scrutinise the business proposals."

Further the state government is in discussions with the some public sector banks to lend loans for the purpose. "We have spoken to eight nationalised banks today on this issue. We plan to meet these banks next month again," said the labour minister.


Press Information Bureau,
Government of India
Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ministry of Urban Development has given approval to three new JNNURM projects in Kolkata, West Bengal. The Central sanctioning and monitoring committee for the sanctioning of projects under submission-1, Urban infrastructure and governance (UIG) has sanctioned Transmunicipal surface water supply scheme for Dum Dum, North Dum Dum and South Dum Dum municipality, Municipal solid waste management project of 13 municipal towns of Kolkata (Halisahar, Kanchrapara, Kayani, Gayeshpur, Nalhati, Bhatpara, Khardah, Barasat, Madhyamgram, Mahestala, Pujali, Baruipur and Uluberia) and construction of flyover from Parks Circus to Parama Island.
The first project will improve the deteriorating ground water supply, both in quality and quantity by augmenting the existing water treatment plant at Kamarhati from 140 MLD to 280 MLD by utilizing the water from existing source. After implementation of the project 24Hrs connectivity will be provided to 100% households. The project will reduce the wastage of water by replacing the leaky pipe and installing water meters to measure the actual consumption. The project will be implemented in 30 months by Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Regarding the solid waste management project for 13 municipal towns, it would cover 251.40sqkms of area and a population 24.90lakhs. The project will address the problem of source segregation of solid waste, street side storage in open masonry vats, open dumping in low lying areas, designing of sanitary landfill site with requiste infrastructure facilities treatment of MSW through Vermi/Mechanical composting. The Construction of flyover from Parama Island will ease traffic congestion at Park Road due to 7 roads meeting at the intersection. The project would be completed by March 2010.

The details of the projects are as under:
Sl. No.
Mission City/State
Project Cost (in Lakhs)
Approved Cost (in Lakhs)
Central Share
ACA Proposed to be released

Kolkata, West Bengal
Transmunicipal Surface Water Supply scheme for Dum Dum, North Dum Dum and South Dum Dum Municipalities
2616.04 (1st installment)

Kolkata, West Bengal
Municipal Solid Waste Management of 13 municipal towns for Kolkata (Halisahar, Kanchrapara, Kayani, Gayeshpur, Nalhati, Bhatpara, Khardah, Barasat, Madhyamgram, Mahestala, Pujali, Baruipur and Uluberia)
979.69 (1st installment)

Kolkata, West Bengal
Construction of Flyover from Park Circus to Parama Island
2552.04 (1st installment)

The CSMC also sanctioned 2nd and 3rd installments in respect of 5 ongoing projects as under:-
Kolkata, West Bengal
Construction of Flyover between E.M. Bypass and Kazi Nazrul Islam Sarani
332.67 (2nd installment)

Kolkata, West Bengal
Surface Water Supply scheme within added areas of Howrah Municipal Corporation
793.53 (2nd installment)

Kolkata, West Bengal
Development and management of water supply and sewerage systems of Sector-V under NDITA at Salt Lakh (Phase-I)
228.08 (3rd installment)

Kolkata, West Bengal
10MGD water treatment plant at Uluberia Municipal Town under KMDA
398.83 (3rd installment)

Kolkata, West Bengal
Underground water reservoir-cum-booster pumping station at Gandhi Maidan Akra
93.28 (2nd installment)


KOLKATA: The West Bengal government has drafted an ambitious textiles policy with the vision to create ten lakh jobs by 2012. The state government has identified 100 acre land for the textiles park in Howrah district , which will be alloted to Chamber of Textile Trade and Industry (Cotti). The proposed textiles park by the Cotti, will bring in an investment of Rs 500 crore.

The policy also aims to create a "robust textile infrastructure in the state by setting up 20 integrated textile/apparel/hosiery parks, three jute parks, 50 additional handloom clusters, silk parks together with one Integrated Silk Processing and Printing Complex (SPPC) and an ultra-modern integrated textile township in the state, the first of its kind in the country, during the next five years.

The infrastructure will be developed in public-private partnership." The policy also aims to double the existing handloom output and attain an export level of 10 per cent of fabric turnover, enhance the number of active powerlooms in West Bengal to 20,000, thereby increasing the powerloom output by at least 300 per cent to reach 180 million meters by the year 2012. The policy also aims to increase the existing readymade garments output of 400 million pieces of woven wear and 90 million pieces of knitted garments in the state by 300 per cent, and to double the readymade garments export from West Bengal.

The land identified for the park, which, has been stuck due to litigation, said sources. It has been stalled for almost two years in the wake of land related issues. Cotti will not get Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP) grant from the Union government, unless it has the land in its possession. If approved, the park will get a maximum of 40 per cent infrastructure cost, or Rs 40 crore, whichever is lower, as grant.

February 24, 2009

Union Cabinet approves establishment of National Institute of Biomedical Genomics at Kalyani, West Bengal

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet monday gave its approval to the establishment of National Institute of Biomedical Genomics ( (NIBMG) at Kalyani in Nadia District of West Bengal as an autonomous institution under the aegis of Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology with the budgetary provision of rs.210 crores. The institute will be a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, and will be governed by the Governing Body.
The Institute has emphasis towards enhancement of knowledge on human health & disease through genomics and translate the knowledge using appropriate technologies for promotion of well being and improvement of genomics-based health-care in India. NIBMG will create necessary physical infrastructure and build capacity to serve as the expert base for the establishment of principles and practice of biomedical genomics and promote cutting-edge research in biomedical genomics for better understanding and reduction of public-health burden in India. The grand vision is to provide personalised, predictive, preventive and therapeutic healthcare through the use of genomic knowledge.
NIBMG will usher in the genomics era explicitly in the areas of medicine and public-health. It will undertake novel research, translational, educational & training programmes, network with relevant institutions through star alliance, and seed biomedical genomics activities in hospitals, medical school and other health-care institutions.(PIB)

14th Leather Goods Intl Fair begins in Kolkata

KOLKATA:There is an urgent need to increase domestic as well as export markets for leather goods, so said the West Bengal Finance Minister, Mr Asim Dasgupta, at the inaugural ceremony of the 14th Leather Goods International Fair, in Kolkata.Exports from the leather goods sector has been registering a steady growth in the last few years, but they have been hit by the global recession caused due to the economic meltdown, he added by saying.
Speaking on the occasion, the President of Indian Leather Products Association, Mr Satyabrata Mukherjee, said, during the last few months there has been a 40 percent drop in leather exports from the country and was likely to dip further.Around 40 exhibitors are show casing their leather products at the fair like handbags, wallets, portfolios, belts and accessories, which will continue till February 24. Visitors from Spain, Bangladesh, Singapore and Netherlands are expected to visit the fair.

MCC restructures PTA business, will shift HQ to Singapore and Haldia

TOKYO (Japan), February 24, 2009: Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation( MCC) will shift a part of headquarters operations of its terephthalic acid business from Japan to Singapore and India to reform the business structure in Asia. According to a MCC press release, the details are as follows:

MCC’s terephthalic acid business is developed under a basic policy of locating production sites in customer regions such as Indonesia, India, China, and South Korea, with overall business management based in Japan. In addition to that MCC has decided to shutdown production facilities in Japan, a state-of-the-art terephthalic acid production facility in India, on which construction started January 2006, will be completed at the end of February 2009 and start commercial operation by the end of June 2009.
Therefore, the terephthalic acid business will be developed mainly in Asian countries outside Japan.At that time, MCC plans to move headquarters operations for the business to Singapore in June 2009 and for the technology to India (Haldia, West Bengal) at the end of 2009 , in order to establish a new business model (the final responsibility of the total terephthalic acid business remains in Japan). While ensuring mobility in terms of purchasing raw materials, sales, and technology and localization of human resources, MCC will further promote the reformation of its business structure.

Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation also announced plans to shut down a terephthalic acid production facility at the Matsuyama Plant and a production facility at the Mizushima Plant that makes paraxylene, a raw material of terephthalic acid. The terephthalic acid production facility at the Matsuyama Plant started operation in July 1987. The terephthalic acid produced at the Matsuyama Plant is supplied to domestic manufacturers of polyester fibers and films as raw materials. The paraxylene production facility at the Mizushima Plant started operation in December 1968, and its entire output is used as raw material for terephthalic acid production at the Matsuyama Plant.MCC has taken various steps toward rationalization from every perspective. However, we concluded that there are no prospects to restoring profitability, and decided to shut down the facilities due to a trend of decreasing domestic demand for terephthalic acid.
The terephthalic acid production facility at the Matsuyama Plant and the paraxylene production facility at the Mizushima Plant are scheduled to be shut down in December 2010 and May 2010 respectively. Production of isophthalic acid will continue at the Matsuyama Plant, based on an operation agreement with AG. International Co., Inc.

February 23, 2009

Kolkata Metro extension to be completed by 2014

Kolkata February 23: Continuing with his announcements of heavyweight infrastructure projects over the past one week, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today laid the foundation stone of the Rs 4,874.58-crore East-West Kolkata Metro corridor project, the first ever in the country to run under a river.

The central government will invest Rs 1,169 crore for the project through equity and subordinated debt, while the state government will spend around Rs 1,452.58 crore. The remaining Rs 2,253 crore will be funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as a senior-term debt loan.The 13.77-km corridor would run from Salt Lake Sector V, the IT hub of the city, up to Howrah Maidan. Of this, around 8 km will be underground with six stations and the balance 5.77 km will be on an elevated track.

The underground corridor starts from Howrah railway station and will cross the river Hooghly at a depth of 60 feet from the water level. The proposal to extend the metro alignment up to Howrah Maidan from Howrah station covering an additional 900 metres at an added cost of Rs 198.58 crore was sanctioned by theCentre’s committee of empowered ministers last Thursday.

“The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) has been registered as a joint venture company with equal equity participtation from the Centre and the state government in July last year,” Bhattacharjee said. “It has already started issuing work orders and tenders,” he added.Tender for the elevated corridor at Salt Lake was awarded to Gammon India Ltd on February 20, informed state Transport Secretary Sumantra Chowdhury, who is also the managing director of KMRC.He added that KMRC aims to make the Salt Lake-Sealdah stretch ready by 2012. The deadline for completion of the entire project is October 2014.

Pranab asks Mamata to keep development out of politics

KOLKATA: Taking a dig at the Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said development should be kept above party politics. He was referring to Banerjee’s criticism that he was strengthening the CPI(M) by sharing the dias with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at various occasions.
Mukherjee was speaking at the foundation ceremony of the East West Metro Corridor project near Yubabharati Krirangan at Bidhan Nagar on Sunday. He was the chief guest while Bhattacharjee laid the foundation stone of the project.

“All developmental work should be kept out of narrow political interests. Some people oppose development for their selfish gains. This is most unfortunate,” said Mukherjee. At the Jangipur rally in Murshidabad district on Saturday, Mukherjee had slammed Banerjee that she could face the same opposition for development projects once she became the chief minister. “Kolkata got the first Metro in the country. This 15 km-corridor will also be the first in the country. History does not forgive people who oppose development,” Bhattacharjee said on Sunday.

Later in the day, Partha Chatterjee, the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, said Mukherjee was siding up with the CPI(M) against the people of Bengal. Chatterjee was speaking to media at Banerjee’s Kalighat residence, where, incidentally, the Trinamool chief was not present. “Bengal’s hero (Mukherjee) is acting as the votary of the CPI(M). Where was he when people were killed in Nandigram or Tapasi Malik was killed in Singur? He is not with the people of Bengal but with the CPI(M),” said Chatterjee.

Labeling Mukherjee as CPI(M)’s mouthpiece, he said both Mukherjee and the CPI(M) are rushing to lay the foundation of various projects before the elections. “In the 32 years of CPI(M) rule how many projects have materialised? The Bengal’s hero and Bhattacharjee are going on laying the foundation of one project after another,” he added. “Mukherjee did nothing for the revival of Dunlop and Basumati and did not help PTTI students. But he is keen on helping the CPI(M),” Chatterjee added.

He claimed that the East West corridor project will be a disaster and said: “20 lakh people will be displaced in Kolkata and greater Kolkata by the project. Who will take care of their rehabilitation?” Chatterjee added. When asked whether Mukherjee’s actions will hamper the prospects of Trinamool’s alliance with the Congress, he said: “We will cross the bridge when we come to it.”
Interestingly, Congress workers shared the dias with their Trinamool counterparts while campaigning for the Bishnupur West by-elections on Saturday. In Bishnupur West, the Congress has recently withdrawn its candidate in favour of the Trinamool.

Asian brown cloud has robbed West Bengal of winter

KOLKATA: Winter wear hardly got out of cupboards this year in West Bengal, as it never really got cold. Environmental experts feel a blanket of pollutants in the air, called the Asian Brown Cloud, could be responsible for the climate change.

"For the past few years we have not been experiencing winter in West Bengal. This environmental change is caused by the formation of the Asian Brown Cloud," environmentalist Pranabesh Sanyal, who is also a member of the World Conservation Union, told IANS. "The cloud has been formed due to increasing automobile pollution in the air, carbon soot (or particulate carbon) and chemicals used in the agriculture sector."

According to Sanyal, the Asian Brown Cloud is the main reason behind the apparent climate change in India. "It's also causing delayed winter and absence of chill factor in West Bengal." "Massive use of inorganic fertilisers and automobile byproducts lead to nitrous oxide emission in the air. This has caused the formation of an atmospheric brownish haze layer over a vast portion of South Asia," he said.

As far as the brown cloud impact is concerned, India ranks first in the entire South and Southeast Asian region with Malaysia and Indonesia in second and third positions respectively, he added. In satellite images, the cloud appears as a giant brown stain hanging in the air over much of Asia and the Indian Ocean every year between January and March.

Sanyal said considering the disastrous environmental impact, many countries in Europe have already stopped using chemical fertilisers in agriculture. "Use of chemical fertilisers in agriculture contributes almost 50 percent of nitrous oxide to the nature while airborne pollutants from combustion and carbon soot have a contribution of 30 and 20 percent respectively."

Other experts on ABC, like V.S. Ramanathan of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California, have however said soot - caused by burning fuelwood and dung for cooking - is the main culprit in the formation of the brown cloud. Agreeing that the brown cloud affects the laws of nature, South-Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE) director Dipayan Dey said: "It's (brown cloud) one of the major reasons behind the erratic climate change syndrome," Dey told IANS.

"This apart, unplanned industrialisation, rapid urbanisation, eroding coastal flood plains and fast dying out of wetlands are reducing the carbon sequestering ability of our nature. "The trend is very prevalent in the developing world. It's randomly casting a negative impact on our environment and affecting the resilience of our ecosystem," Dey pointed out.

He said the use of biomass or organic fuel, especially in the rural belts, significantly adds sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and some amount of methane to the air which ultimately leads to the formation of atmospheric brown cloud and greenhouse impact.

"These components arrest infra-red rays from being reflected back by the earth's surface and helps to increase temperature," he said. Emphasising on the environmental protection strategies, he said the policy makers should always think about the long-term impact before setting up any developmental projects in the country.

"We must focus on community-based awareness campaigning programme and mitigate the use of fossil fuel in our surroundings," Dey said, adding the irregularities in the Indian climate is the fallout of the brown cloud. According to a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the brown cloud stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Yellow Sea. The study also identified 13 cities as brown-cloud hot spots - including Bangkok, Cairo, New Delhi, Seoul and Tehran. "This climate change syndrome - specially the effects of delayed winter, untimely rainfall and abnormal temperature rise - disturbs agricultural productivity, nature and wildlife loss and over all it hampers the ecosystem," the report said. (IANS)

World famous toy train resumes run in West Bengal

Siliguri (WB), Feb 22: The world famous toy train in Darjeeling hills is back on track after it was suspended for 10 days following agitation for a separate Gorkha state.The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) is on a roll to attract as many tourists as possible across the globe. The train, listed among UNESCO’’s World Heritage Sites, passes through a number of picturesque locations including ”Batasia Loop” (the valley of storm), the tea gardens of the Darjeeling Himalayas, the world’’s highest rail station ”Ghoom” and many other locations covering the forest lands of Terai.
The operation of the train has been severely curtailed in the last three years in the wake of the agitation by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM).The train chugged again since February 19 after being closed down on February 9. Despite the turmoil, the magnetic charm of the world famous toy train brings back the tourists.“It is a very famous train, and very well known train in England. People know about it,” said Mark James, a tourist from United Kingdom.Ever since the GJM agitation rocked the Darjeeling hills, the tourism industry in the region received a major setback. Last year 16 charters and eight-winter safaris had to be cancelled due to the agitation and strikes in the hills.There has also been a steady drop in the number of tourists.
The DHR reports project a drop of 28 per cent in volume with mounting losses of rupees two million.“Last year, I brought 42 people from all over the world. We were unable to run because of the Gorkha strike. One of our people comes back this year. I now know that there was another strike last week. But we better be sure we run for the next two days,” said Andrew Nil, the tour conductor from U.K. The DHR toy train was started in 1896 by the then British Lieutenant Governor Ashley Eden, offering riders an opportunity to enjoy the majestic beauty of nature along the Darjeeling hills.At the beginning, this railway was named as the Darjeeling steam Tramway Co. Later when India gained independence in 1947, the railway was named as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR).DHR was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO on December 5 at their 23rd session. (ANI)

NSG chief holds talks over force hub in West Bengal

KOLKATA: J.K. Dutt, chief of the National Security Guard (NSG), Friday held talks with West Bengal home secretary Ardhendu Sen over selecting land for a proposed hub of the anti-terrorism crack force in the state.“I had a discussion with home secretary Ardhendu Sen regarding land to set up the NSG hub and an anti-hijack squad in West Bengal. I have told him about our land requirements and he has assured all possible help,” Dutt told reporters at the secretariat Writer’s Building here. Dutt, however, declined to give details of the meeting.

“Nothing has been finalised yet, so there is no point in discussing it with the media. I will be having another meeting with Sen on Feb 25. Hopefully, I will be in a position to talk after that,” the NSG chief said. “All I want to say is that no matter where we get the land, the state will get its NSG hub and anti-hijack squad soon,” he added.

According to a source at the secretariat, Dutt has asked for 1,200-1,400 acres of land for the NSG hub and a comparatively smaller land near the city airport for the anti-hijack squad. “There are proposals for three lands - near Kalaikunda Air Force Station in West Midnapore district, at Barrackpore town in North 24 Parganas district and at Kaikhali near the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Sangeet Natak Akademi to set up National centre for Chhau soon

Bhubaneswar, 22th February : The Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) will set up a national centre for Chhau at Jamshedpur soon. Sangeet Natak Akademi secretary and Kathak exponent Jayant Kastuar announced this while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the first edition of the ‘Chhau Parva’ (national Chhau dance festival) at the Utkal Mandap here on Friday.

Mr. Kastuar said, and added that the facility for Chhau would give the much needed boost to the Chhau culture of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. The four-day festival, conceived as an annual affair, was planned for Jamshedpur but the SNA decided to host it in Orissa as a mark of respect to eminent scholar Dhirendra Nath Patnaik of the State who significantly contributed to the performing arts traditions of Orissa – Odissi and Chhau in particular. The festival was dedicated to Patnaik, Mr. Kastuar announced.

Commissioner of Culture B.C. Jena, who inaugurated the festival, revealed that efforts were on to convert the State-owned Odissi Research Centre as a national centre of Odissi. The festival, the first of its kind for the State, would feature 28 troupes from Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal and New Delhi representing the three styles of Chhau – Mayurbhaj, Sareikalla and Purulia.

“We have to help small units too” : Buddhadeb

Kolkata,22th February: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said he would seek the help of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who holds additional charge of Finance, to mitigate the sufferings of the small sector in these recessionary times.
“It is not enough to save only Satyam – I will talk to Pranab da when I meet him at the inauguration of the East-West Metro Railway project on Sunday – we have to try to help the small industries too who are suffering badly due to the recession,” he said while inaugurating a project at Durgapur.

Mr. Bhattacharjee kicked off two projects on Saturday, which are being implemented in phases. Together, they entailed an investment of over Rs. 500 crore for the units inaugurated on Saturday. He said that had the Left not blocked the Congress’s proposals on opening up several sectors of the economy, India too would have been in as big an economic mess as the U.S. finds itself in now.

Speaking at the inauguration of an alloy and steel unit by JaiBalaji Steel, he said the State government was committed to providing job opportunities for the youth.

Buddhadeb inaugurated Jai Balaji Group steel plant

Durgapur, Feb 22, 2009: Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today lambasted the Opposition for its criticism of the proposed chemical hub in Nayachar and rubbished fears of environmental hazards. The chief minister also lashed out at the Centre for playing “little brother” to the US which he blamed for the economic slowdown.

The chief minister was speaking at the inauguration of the alloy and stainless steel division of an integrated steel plant at Banskhopa in Durgapur owned by the Jai Balaji Group, which is expected to pump in Rs 425 crore in the next 18 to 24 months in Durgapur.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had recently announced she would agitate against the chemical hub to be set up in Nayachar for its “negative environmental impact”. “Some people are opposing industrialisation and development in Bengal. Do they know the meaning of petrochemicals? Butadin means rubber, polymer means textiles. What harm will be done? In which country has there been any harm?” said Bhattacharjee.

“They are opposing even a power plant in Katwa. They are opposing it just for the sake of it. This has just become a fight between the ruling party and the Opposition. But we need industry for jobs,” he added.

The CM targeted the Centre for siding with the US, which he held responsible for the economic slowdown. “America is the root cause for the economic recession. They have drowned and they are dragging others along with them. In fact, Delhi is playing little brother to big brother America. Why should we beg to America? We should look towards China for a model. They are fighting America on equal terms,” he said.

“We will set up a coke oven plant and a ductile pipe plant at our facility at Banskopa in Durgapur,” said Aditya Jajodia, chairman and managing director of Jai Balaji Group. The group has inaugurated a 0.45 million-tonne alloy and stainless steel division with an investment of Rs 225 crore today.

The company has already invested Rs 2,000 crore for five of its manufacturing facilities in West Bengal. It has also lined up Rs 16,000 crore for setting up a 5-million tonne integrated steel plant, a 3-MT cement plant and a 1,215-MW captive power plant at Raghunathpur in Purulia district.

West Bengal annual plan 2009-10 finalized

NEW DELHI: Annual Plan of West Bengal for the year 2009-10 was approved today at a meeting between the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. The Annual Plan size was agreed at Rs.14150 crores. This includes additional Central Assistance of Rs. 50 crores for projects of special importance to the State.
In his opening remarks the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia complimented the State for plan performance. He said appreciable efforts are visible in expediting implementation in the social sector. Human development indices is improving. The State Government’s efforts to set up land bank to meet requirements of investments in the industrial sector were appreciated. He said the Planning Commission was keen that time lack in operationalising the initiative listed in the stimulus packages is reduced as far as possible. The State Government should join hands with the Central Government in early implementation of the stimulus packages.
The State was advised to accelerate the process of purchasing buses for mission cities of the State. The Planning Commission was willing to review the guidelines of the Centrally sponsored schemes if States were finding some difficulties in implementation. It was pointed out that the Central Government has finalized guidelines on the implementation of national programmes which will be communicated to the State shortly.
The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mr. Buddhadeb in his comments on the performance of the State said that the consequences of the global economic crisis were affecting State’s and wanted Centre to give a grant of Rs.20000 crores to the States. He said the State Government was increasing budgetary allocation to the sectors which are employment intensive so that its impact is minimized at the lowest level. Allocations to roads, bridges, irrigation & drainage are being increased substantially for this purpose.
Emphasis on vocational education will continue as despite slow down investments in sectors like steel and cement were coming. To overcome the problem of providing land to the investors, the State Government was actively considering setting up of a land bank with initial provision of 5000 acres of land. More houses for poor in rural and urban areas would be constructed.

February 20, 2009

Buddha ready to lend a hand and land to Pachauri

Kolkata, Feb 20, 2009: West Bengal is all set to get a research centre dealing with climate-related issues under the guidance of Nobel laureate R K Pachauri. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) will be starting its Kolkata chapter as soon as the state government allots land for the project.

“We will be setting up an institute to look into the prospects of bio fuel, renewable energy and create more energy-efficient buildings in the state,” Dr Pachauri said. He said about five acres of land will be required for the institute.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said: “West Bengal has been working closely with Dr Pachauri for a long time now. We will be happy to give them land at Baruipur to set up their institute.” The chief minister and Dr Pachauri were speaking on the sidelines of an environment summit at a city hotel on Thursday.

TERI is already working on a project on the Sunderbans delta, a fragile ecosystem now threatened by rising sea-levels. “West Bengal has a delta as well as snow capped mountains and thus, the effects of climate change here, will also be equally diverse,” said Dr Pachauri.

The study, which is partly sponsored by the West Bengal government, will take another year for completion. “We are already working in the Sunderban region and would like to extend our study to the entire state,” he added.

According to Dr Pachauri, one of the major environmental challenges in the state is that 94 per cent of Bengal’s power comes from thermal sources. “We need to form a strategy and develop alternative sources of energy for the state,” he said.

Bhattacharjee also stressed on the fact that auto emissions, drinking water, medical wastes and depletion of greenery and water bodies were the major challenges facing the state. “We need to move away from petrol and diesel — towards bio fuel and electricity-run vehicles,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Pachauri had launched a scheme for green-rating of environment-friendly buildings in the city. This rating, being introduced for residential as well as corporate buildings, would be given by the TERI in partnership with the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Green Power Corporation, the corporate entity of the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency, which is headed by S.P. Gonchaudhuri.

Jyoti Basu attends CPI(M) meeting after six months

Kolkata, Feb 20: Former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu, 94, surprised everyone at the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) headquarters at West Bengal, when he turned up to attend their weekly party meeting Friday after a gap of six months. Basu had last attended the CPI-M state secretariat meeting at the party headquarters in Alimuddin Street in 25th August, 2008. He had a fall at his Salt Lake residence early September(4th) and a blood clot was detected in his brain.

After the accident, he had stopped visiting the party headquarters due to ill-health. Also, for the first time since the CPI(M) led Left Front came to power in West Bengal in 1977, he could not attend the Brigade Parade Rally on Feb 8.

“Basu was anxious to attend the party meetings. Hence, he could not stop himself from coming to the weekly meeting,” CPI(M) Central Committee member Shyamal Chakraborty told mediapersons here. Basu told the meeting: “I can’t live without the party and if I don’t attend the meetings, won’t be able to know what’s happening here. That’s why, I decided to come to Alimuddin Street (party headquarters).”

Top CPI(M) leaders, including Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and state secretary Biman Basu, said they were only too happy to have Basu at the meeting and discussed with him not only his health but party activities. Basu was chief minister from June 1977 to November, 2000.

Emami Biotech Limited Signs MoU With Calcutta Tramways Corporation

KOLKATA, February 19, 2009: Emami Biotech Limited has signed up Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) as their first prestigious client for the supply of 250 Kilo Litre of bio diesel per month to CTC. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Emami and CTC,at Emami Towers.The MoU signing ceremony was attended by Mr Aditya V Agarwal and Mr. Manish Goenka, Director, Emami Group Of Companies, Mr Rajdeo Gowala, Chairman, CTC, Mr P K Chattopadhyay, Managing Director, CTC, Mr. S K Mondal, Director, Emami Biotech Limited and other dignitaries. CTC has already started procuring bio-diesel from Emami Biotech from February 1, 2009.

“It is indeed a red-letter day for Emami Biotech as, finally, we feel that our dreams of meeting the energy and environment needs of India and West Bengal in particular are yielding positive results. The agreement with CTC marks the formalisation of the supply of bio-diesel by Emami Biotech to the state government undertaking. It also reflects the government’s willingness to try and provide a pollution free environment to its citizens.” said Mr. Aditya V Agarwal, Director Emami Group Of Companies.

Buoyed by the certification from Singapore based SGS Group for acknowledging their bio-diesel sample as among the best in the world Emami Biotech has aggressive plans to promote this eco friendly fuel.

“We have the capacity to produce 300 tonnes of bio diesel per day at our Haldia plant. We intend to build a green economy, meet the country’s energy needs by providing an alternative fuel and at the same time protect the earth’s environment and its citizens. We are hoping that the Union Government will come up with some firm policies in terms of pricing and distribution post which can market our product to the best of our abilities. ”, said Mr. Manish Goenka, Director, Emami Group Of Companies.

The Emami Group is spearheading the process of developing Haldia in West Bengal as India’s bio-diesel hub through Emami Biotech. Emami Biotech has come up with a state-of-the-art bio-diesel production facility at Haldia, set up at a cost of Rs 150 crore. The bulk of the production equipment has been supplied by Desmat Belstra, an Italian Belgian joint venture company. An additional amount of Rs 100 crore has been invested at the same facility for producing edible oil. The production residue of edible oil will be used for preparing bio-diesel.

However, Mr Agarwal stressed the fact that Emami Biotech is presently selling bio-diesel at a lower price compared to normal diesel. This is contrary to international practice where consumers buy bio-diesel at a premium to use it in their vehicles. He said unless the government modifies its price mechanism on selling bio-diesel, its production will become unviable. Emami Biotech has also appealed to state run organisations like WBSTC, KMC, and Kolkata Police among others to procure bio-diesel from the company for running their respective fleet.

“Since CTC has started purchasing bio-diesel from us after a trial run, we feel that the other government organisations should now feel confident in using our product and play a pro-active role to ensure a pollution free environment. Besides, we also urge the bus and taxi associations to take similar initiative. Moreover, since pollution is the main issue for scrapping the 15 year old vehicles, use of bio-diesel will undoubtedly, minimise air pollution level”, said Mr Goenka.

The most significant aspect of Emami’s bio-diesel sample is its hugely low sulphur content, far out-performing the industry standards. Against the BIS Limit of 50mg/kg and the EN (European Union standard) Limit of 10mg/kg, Emami’s product has recorded a sulphur count of 0.83mg/kg. Besides the sulphur index, Emami’s product has also out-performed the industry benchmarks in ash content, moisture content, total contaminations and carbon residue indicators.

About bio diesel

Bio diesel is a diesel-equivalent, processed fuel derived from biological sources (such as vegetable oils), which can be used in unmodified diesel-engined vehicles. Diesel engines require no modification to have a 20% bio-diesel blend with normal diesel just like water blends with water. Air pollutants primarily include nitrogen oxides, particles, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, having a damaging impact on human health, vegetation and even on animals. Vehicles are the worst polluters, especially the old ones.
They tend to emit more pollution during the first few miles of the journey when the engine warms up. Use of bio-diesel can off-set these problems, bringing a significant change in the SPM (suspended particulate matter) and RPM (respirable particulate matter) or sulphur dioxide in the air and make it fresh. The use of bio-diesel also helps lower health hazards like asthma, bronchial diseases, eye irritation, skin diseases and even cancer.

The low emissions of bio-diesel make it an ideal fuel for heavily polluted cities. Moreover, as an alternative fuel, it also fulfils the environmental and energy security needs. A significant amount of air and environmental pollution can be reduced by using 100% bio-diesel in gen-sets, which are a major air polluter. Besides, use of bio-diesel in construction equipment, earth-moving equipment, power-equipment and heavy engineering equipment will minimise the air pollution levels to a significant extent.

Emami’s bio-diesel plant will also help in boosting the agricultural economy since the company plans to produce the product from jatropha cultivation as well as out of edible oil manufacturing residues that includes soya and palm oil.


KOLKATA, 19 February, 2009: The city's Light Rail Transit (LRT) system will cover a 40-km stretch from Joka to Barrackpore in two phases and have 31 stations. It will be ready in five years. The country's first LRT was launched by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd and the government of West Bengal during the inauguration. The Rs 6,000-crore project will be implemented by a consortium led by Srei. Czech-based Amex International will be the technology partner and West Bengal Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (WBTIDC) will be one of the consortium partners.
"Work on the project will start from 2010. The coaches will move at 40 km per hour and a journey between Joka and Barrackpore will take 90 minutes. There will be four coaches per rake to accommodate 1,250 passengers. Initially, the system will cater to 1.2 lakh passengers a day. Later, the figure will go up to 4.8 lakh. The East-West Metro will terminate at Howrah Maidan. The E-W Metro and LRT will meet at Sealdah where passengers can make a changeover if they so want. Other Asian countries have already changed over to this mode of mass rapid transport. In Kolkata, the LRT can gradually replace buses and trams. People will have to realise that this is inevitable," Bhattacharjee said.
State transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury said that the tendering process had started in Aug-Sep 2004. After the Centre refused to provide funds for the project from the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, it was decided to launch a special purpose vehicle for the Kolkata LRT. "Srei will be the senior partner and it has entered into a joint venture with WBTIDC. The detailed project report (DPR) should be finalised by September 30, 2009. Hopefully, both the LRT and East-West Metro will be completed by 2013-14," Chowdhury said.

Hasina seeks Basu's blessings to realise Sonar Bangla dream

Kolkata, Wednesday, February 18, 2009: Newly elected Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina has sought nonagenarian Marxist and former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu's blessings for a successful tenure at the helm in Bangladesh.

In an emotional letter written to Basu in Bengali, (a copy of which is available with us), Hasina writes, "Bless me so that we can fulfil the duties set upon us, honour the verdict of the people and truly work for developing my country as the Shonar Bangla (Golden Bengal)."

Hasina also expressed concern over the failing health of Basu, 94. "I am quite worried to know that you are ill. I wish you quick recovery and am looking forward to meet you in future," Hasina wrote to the longest-serving chief minister of West Bengal.

She also expressed confidence that the friendship between India and Bangladesh would be strengthened in the coming days.Basu had openly congratulated Hasina immediately after the Awami League's landslide victory some time ago.

In a congratulatory speech, Basu recalled the role of Hasina's father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and described him as the architect of Bangladesh. He also recalled his association with Hasina during her earlier tenure as prime minister of Bangladesh.

The two leaders had last met in 2006, when Hasina, then opposition leader in Bangladesh, visited Basu's house in Kolkata. They met for around 40 minutes, where Hasina thanked Basu for his role in signing the Indo-Bangladesh Ganges water sharing accord.

WB govt to list temporary employees

KOLKATA: In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, The West Bengal government on Wednesday initiated a process of listing the temporary employees who have been working in several departments for more than 10 years. It is believed that the move has been initiated to offer these temporary employees permanent jobs.
State irrigation minister Subhas Naskar had raised the issue of offering permanent jobs to temporary employees of his department during the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday. After Naskar raised the issue, many other ministers also informed chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who presided over the state cabinet meeting to consider the plight of those permanent employees working at their department for more than ten years.
It is learnt that Mr Bhattacharjee eventually asked the ministers to prepare a list of those temporary employees who have been working for more than 10 years and submit it to state finance minister Asim Dasgupta. It is learnt that more than 5,000 temporary employees are working in various state government departments.
The state cabinet has also decided to extend the East-West Metro project up to Howrah maidan instead of Howrah station. It was earlier decided that Rs 4500 crore would be required to complete the East-West Metro upto Howrah station. But now another Rs 198 crore would be required to extend the project up to Howrah maidan.

Bengal snake charmers stage a protest

KOLKATA, 17th February: More than a thousands snake charmers from all over West Bengal took to the streets of Calcutta protesting against a law that has made snake charming illegal under the banner of Bedia federation of India.

Laws came to force in India in 1991 banning shows featuring cobras and other snakes but the snake charmers say that the laws have deprived them of their livelihood. However, despite the laws, many snake charmers continue to perform. Head of the snake charmers organisation, Raktim Das has told mediapersons: "We are being consistently harassed by the police for keeping snakes, which are snatched away without paying us compensation."

Animal rights groups say that the laws should be kept in force to prevent snakes from being abused. Generally, snake charmers rip out the snakes’ fangs and feed them milk which means when they are returned to their natural habitat they are unable to catch prey and die. Snake performers usually release the snakes after six months of performance.

Charm offensive: Why India’s snake men (and their serpents) are taking to the streets

A 1,000-year-old tradition is at risk as police start to take the law seriously and animal welfare activists want the music to stop. Andrew Buncombe reports from Delhi
Thursday, 19 February 2009, The Independent

For many people who close their eyes and dream romantic thoughts of India, amid the imagined scenes of desert palaces and colourful chaos is that of the snake charmer – a man playing his flute while a dancing cobra rises and twists from its wicker basket.

In truth, there are fewer charmers than one might imagine. Government legislation dating back almost 35 years gives police the right to apprehend (or more likely, in many cases, take a bribe from) anyone using a wild animal for such entertainment purposes. The charmers that do operate in tourist centres and large cities, live a largely furtive existence, bothering a few coins out of passers-by whom they confront with their anguine companions.

But now the snake-charmers are fighting back. A newly created union for the men and their snakes has been established to demand that the legislation banning them from their “birth right” be overturned and that alternative employment for the snake charmers be provided.

In a sign of strength, around 5,000 snake charmers from the Indian state of West Bengal this week took to the streets of Calcutta demanding action and claiming that their generations-old profession is on the brink of death. Many were carrying their snakes with them as they marched.

“It’s our birth right to charm snakes. No can deprive us of that,” said 35-year-old Langra Bede, one of the charmers. “Our forefathers charmed snakes. We grew up with this. It’s basically all we know.”

Snake charmers have been part of India’s landscape for many hundreds of years. Traditionally the charmers were called on by villagers to help gather and remove poisonous snakes that represented a danger to them. Because snakes are considered sacred in Hinduism, people would not kill snakes but would rather call on these men and their special skills – traditionally handed down from father to son – to remove them.

The charmers would then keep the reptiles and “train them” for performances. (While snakes are deaf, it is believed that their “dancing” movement is a self-defence response to vibrations they perceive as threatening.) In more recent years tourists have been charged a small fee to be photographed with the exotic creatures.

But the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act made it an offence to use wild animals for such commercial purposes or to keep them as pets. Activists pointed out that in order to remove the threat from the snakes, which have the potential to be fatal to humans, the charmers usually rip out the creatures’ fangs rather than regularly draining them of the poison. They then feed the snakes milk. But within a year most charmers release their animals, which, without fangs, are unable to feed themselves. Since the late 1990s, the authorities have markedly increased efforts to enforce the law. Yet campaigners for the estimated 800,000 snake charmers say they are being persecuted.

The majority of India’s snake charmers belong to the nomadic “Bedia” tribe or clan, which speaks Bengali. Many of them live in West Bengal. Raktim Das, a founder of the Bedia Federation of India and an organiser of this week’s march, said the Bedia people, whose tradition dates back more than 1,000 years, had long been persecuted by the authorities and the police. He said that more than 100,000 Bedia families were suffering intense economic hardship as a result of the increased enforcement of the 1972 act.

If the government is unwilling to overturn the legislation, he said, it should establish official snake farms specialising in venom and snake skins which could provide employment to the Bedia people. “This has happened in other countries such as China and Vietnam,” said Mr Das. “This would not harm the snake population and it would provide a sustainable source of income.”

Mr Das claimed that a snake venom “mafia” operated in India and was behind government efforts to clamp down on the Bedia. He said that in a single strike a snake can release about 12g of venom, and that venom could fetch £130. A venomous snake could live up to eight years, which would be highly profitable, and private companies still pay snake charmers for any venom they can collect. The companies sell on venom to drug companies, harvesting significant profit margins.

He added: “In addition, we don’t think that snakes are really wild animals. They only exist where there are rats and rats live in places close to human civilisation. Also, if there are no snakes in an area it will increase the number of rats.”

Yet animal rights activists are adamant that the law is vital to protect all wildlife – not just snakes but bears and other animals – from exploitation. “Even now there are still snake charmers … The problem has been to find alternative livelihoods,” said Shakti Banerjee, director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. “The dancing bears have largely been gotten rid of but not the charmers.”

GJM agitation hits Darjeeling tourism

KOLKATA:The ongoing agitation in the hills by the Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for a separate state has hit the North Bengal hospitality and tourism industry hard and is estimated to cause revenue losses of more than Rs 12 crore.

Although according to the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) hotel bookings are down by atleast 10 per cent in the last two months in Darjeeling with the average occupancy hovering around 40 per cent, Business Standard spoke to a few of the leading hotels in the region, and found that almost all the premium and three star or the heritage properties were running on 50-60 per cent losses for the last three months.

Rupam Das of Fortune Resort Central said, “Although the political situation is better now, the damage is done, with maximum business loss in the month of June-July, the peak season. The occupancy at Fortune Resort slipped to as low as 10 per cent in the month of January compared to 35-40 percent witnessed in the year ago period at the premium four star property in Darjeeling.”

Although this was a slack season, the average occupancy in December to January period hovered around 39 per cent at practically all the premium properties with sometimes no guest for more than two weeks at a stretch, said Das who is also a member of the local Hotel Owners Association.

"In terms of revenue loss, it could be to the tune of Rs 35-40 lakhs for a premium property if the present occupancy situation continues," he said. Navin Suchanti, managing director and CEO of Sinclairs Hotels Limited, which runs three properties across North Bengal said, "We have been badly affected because of the political turmoil, as its business is down because of the recessionary trends.” However, he refused to give any figures about the hotel occupancies across Sinclair's properties.

“Domestic tourist inflow, which accounts for the bulk of the business, had been badly affected. Last month occupancy was less than 50 per cent compared to 70-80 per cent in the same period last fiscal, in terms of quantitative loss in business, it will run into some lakhs, ” informed a spokesperson from Windamere hotel, a heritage property located at the heart of the Darjeeling mall.

Many small budget hotels which cater to the mid-segment were also forced to shut down because of low tourist inflow and heavy business losses. Recession had affected the foreign tourist inflow, but in Darjeeling compared to Goa and Kerala, foreign tourist arrivals contribute only 18-25 per cent of the total tourism revenue, bulk of the comes from domestic tourists, which were affected after June last year.

According to Zahid Rafique, regional manager of makemytrip.com, one of the largest domestic online travel portal, domestic bookings for Darjeeling have been low compared to last year and in the last two months physical bookings for Darjeeling had been practically nil. Bookings started dropping since July last year, but in the last few months, starting December onwards physical bookings were completely nil, in online booking segment, more than two lakh revenue is estimated to have been been hit , said Rafique.

Rafique pointed out that compared to last year December-February period when makemytrip.com managed 280 odd transactions or travel bookings from all across India this year same period the travel portal could only manage 200 transactions or bookings, causing huge loss to domestic business and revenue collection. Due to government's leave travel concession, almost 90 per cent of the place is occupied during the peak season and thereafter by domestic travellers, but this year this too failed to churn good business.

When contacted, Manabendra Mukherjee, state minister of tourism admitted that North Bengal tourism industry had been badly hit by the ongoing turmoil but he failed to provide any concrete measures to be taken by the ministry. "We have been hit by this disturbance going on in the hills. We expect a negative growth this fiscal, however coming out with any specific detail about the quantum of loss and is difficult, that will be possible only after the end of this quarter. We are trying to help the authorities of those districts to bring back normalcy,” he said.

TVN Rao, managing director of West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation(WBTDC) claimed that the occupancy rate and revenue have been hit by 30 per cent in the 24 tourist lodges run by WBTDC in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, which is WBTDC's main source of revenue of WBTDC To counter the fall in occupancy rate WBTDC is spending close to Rs 6 crore towards advertisements and promotional activity also, he informed.

Rhino population in West Bengal forest goes up

Kolkata: The rhino population in a national park at the Himalayan foothills has gone up. Elated officials of the West Bengal forest department are now getting ready to carry out a census in another reserve forest.

During a census last November in the Gorumara National Park, located in the Himalayan foothills area of West Bengal called the Dooars, the officials found the number of the one-horned giants had increased to 35 from 27, the state's Forest Minister Ananta Roy told mediapersons. Now the officials are getting ready to carry out a rhino census in the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, also in the Dooars. The census will start later this month.

"We'll begin the rhino census in the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in the last week of February. The census will also collect specific information about the male-female ratio," Roy said. According to forest department officials, the census will also point out all information about each rhinoceros that will be required to identify it in case of emergency.

"The number of rhinos in Gorumara rose to 35 from 27 recorded in 2006," the minister said. The officials say the main reason for the increase in rhino population in Gorumara is that forest guards as well as local residents are "extremely vigilant" against poachers.

Most of the one-horned rhinos, found only in India, are in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, where about 1,700 are estimated to be grazing in the vast marshy grasslands on the banks of the Brahmaputra river.

"We're trying to emphasise on increasing rhino habitat in both the Jaldapara and Gorumara forests. We're working in tandem with the state forest department towards achieving this goal. But it's a great sign the rhino population there is increasing through a natural process," said Animesh Bose of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation (HNAF) - a Siliguri-based wildlife welfare organisation.

Bose agreed: "The forest management has been very good in protecting the lives and livelihood for this animal (rhino). We have also given a few suggestions to the state forest department to click photographs of all the rhinos in the forest and give them specific identification marks on the basis of their physical differences."

Rhinos face the danger of poaching due to the mistaken belief that their horns yield a "medicine" that acts as an aphrodisiac. In the illegal international market, a kilogram of rhino horn fetched $60,000 in 1994.

February 17, 2009

Interim budget failed to address meltdown issues: Bengal finance minister

Kolkata, Feb 16 :The interim budget presented by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee did not address the problem of rising unemployment in the country due to global economic crisis, West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said here Monday.

“The budget failed to address consequences related to global economic crisis,” he told reporters at the Writers Buildings - the state secretariat. He said the central government need to “seriously” review the economic policies formulated by it.

Though the government has declared its plans for National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, irrigation and other rural development schemes, that could not address the problems faced by the state governments on these accounts, he added.

“We know there are certain limitations of the interim budget. We hope all these problems will be addressed properly when the full budget is done after elections,” Dasgupta said. “We hope the main budget will be done more democratically.”

West Bengal optimistic over Infosys plant Should be set up this year

KOLKATA, February 16, 2009: The Government of West Bengal is bullish about Infosys' plans to set up in the state in FY 2009, in spite of repeated delays. The recent Nano pull-out owing to strong political opposition has worried some major IT companies, including Wipro, which were headed towards West Bengal.

Speaking to media at the ISA Vision Summit, Bengal's minister for information technology and biotechnology, Debesh Das, reassured his audience that the government was planning to provide the required land to Infosys, probably this year.

Das said, "Last year, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Bengal government. They have already planned for a set-up in Kolkata and the proposal still exists. We need to provide the land. We are trying to get though some private initiatives and we are in the process of getting it. There is some 1,200 acres of land. We have shown Wipro and Infosys what is the exact area of land, what is the exact place and also what is the government’s actual plan. The site we have chosen near the airport. We will give the land to them and I hope, within few months, it will be done. They still have the interest."

Das added, "There is no such pull-out in West Bengal IT industry. In FY 08, 33 companies set up their stores in the state." The minister firmly believes that FY 09 will witness a bigger number. Wipro has also expressed ts interest in the West Bengal project. The state government is also offering incentives to SMBs as well as the biggies.

The minister seems to be unconcerned by worries from corporates about the state's disturbed image in regard to the Nano pull-out. He said, "This is just a perception. There is no impact on the IT industry."

Meanwhile, he stressed his view that India should develop its own specialities, rather than following other nations in the semiconductor front. Das said, "We need to focus on our own research. Scandavinian nations have been focusing on wireless and South Korea in memory. India should have a similar focus and bring out something unique, for example, medical science."
Das warned companies about the deep state of concern about job safety among employees. Das said that once the industry comes out of recession, companies will find it tough to get resources, as repeated layoffs have put people off a career in IT.

MPs oppose British Airways' decision to pull out of Kolkata

New Delhi, Feb 13, 2009 : Concerned over British Airways closing down its Kolkata-London flights from March, several MPs from West Bengal today asked the government to check this trend and also make Kolkata a gateway for East-bound flights.
A delegation of Left MPs from the state today met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and gave a memorandum demanding government's intervention in the matter, saying the decision to pullout of Kolkata by some international carriers was a "terrible setback" to the government's Look East Policy.
While it was natural that global meltdown had affected airports and the aviation sector, they said air traffic from Kolkata to London is also affected.
"Government is duty bound to stop this trend of winding up" of operations by global carriers from the country, they said, adding that the decision of British Airways to close down its Kolkata operations from March 28 had come as "a bolt from the blue".
The signatories to the memorandum included Basudeb Acharia, Mohd Salim, Tarit Baran Topdar, Anil Basu, Basudeb Barman, Susmita Bauri, Sudhansu Sil and Amitava Nandi.

CPI(M) ministers meet to work towards rural development

Kolkata: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) ministers in West Bengal met here Monday to discuss ways to strengthen coordination between state government departments and to focus on rural development.

The meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose, was held at the party’s state headquarters on Alimuddin Street. “The meeting was called to discuss our internal issues within the ruling Left Front (LF) government. It was also aimed at strengthening coordination between all the state government departments that are working towards the development of the state,” CPI-M politburo member and West Bengal Industry Minister Nirupam Sen told reporters later.

“In the meeting, we’ve taken a decision to focus on the rural issues and village development. The state government will start implementing that at the block level in the coming days,” Sen said, adding that some sectors have been selected for further developmental works. Sen said it was a routine meeting among the CPI-M ministers and had no connection with the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Rs 5 crore for Subhas Sarobar revamp

KOLKATA: The state has received money to implement a green project that was long overdue. The Union ministry of tourism has just sanctioned Rs 5 crore to revamp Subhas Sarobar, the lungs of east Kolkata. The lake, an eyesore for years, is all set to turn into a beautiful landscape in the next 20 months.
After lobbying for nearly two years with the Union ministry of urban development, the state government highlighted the rejuvenation of Subhas Sarobar as a key tourism project while seeking funds from the Union ministry of tourism (MoT). Result? MoT has now sanctioned Rs 4.91 crore to rejuvenate the lake, which has been included in the National Lake Conservation Programme, but has been crying for attention all these years.
The waterbody has been suffering, thanks to everyday bathing, washing and cleaning by slum-dwellers. Well a sea change is about to take place. And a visit to the sprawling sarovar (41.61 acres of waterbody and 49.99 acres of land) will transport you to lush green grounds dotted with a children's park, rockery, French shelters, joggers' track and other related landscaping accessories. The water will also be treated in a scientific manner. The area around the shimmering water will be lit up in the most fascinating manner to create a romantic ambience after dusk. A lot of recreational activity will take place, especially in the amphitheatre, the water sports complex and food courts. Security will be a key issue: the complex will be closely guarded and visitors monitored through electronic gates.
The sarobar is currently used haphazardly by swimming and other clubs the inner pathways originally meant for morning-walkers are now used for traffic movement between Narkeldanga Main Road and CIT Road-Beliaghata Main Road.
"We just cannot allow this prime waterbody in a crowded city area remain an eyesore forever. So, we decided to send a comprehensive project report, prepared from the original KIT plan, to the ministry. And, we developed it as per the Centre's guidelines to attract funds," said TVN Rao, director of the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation and the concept creator.
The rejuvenation plan also provides for a proper solid waste management and underground stormwater drainage systems. "Currently, there is a huge dump yard in the sarobar premises. We will remove it and implement a scientific solid waste management," said Biswanath Sen, chief engineer-in-charge of KIT, the implementing agency. But since the project has been prepared by West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation, a must-do is a tourism facilitation centre to highlight the other tourism destinations around the sarobar. These stop-overs include Science City, Milan Mela, Nalban, Nicco Park and Salt Lake stadium.