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.

Reel glow to Purulia beauty

RAGHUNATHPUR (Purulia): Noted film director Mr Buddhadeb Dasgupta drew attention to the scenic beauty of drought-prone Purulia district in his inauguration of the third Joychandipahar Paryatan Utsab at Raghunathpur Stadium, which takes place over a period of four days, 42 km from Purulia town.
Mr Dasgupta said: “Purulia's scenic beauty has always attracted me, which is why I have set four of my films here”. He recollected that the legendary director Mr Satyajit Ray was similarly drawn to the region, and called to mind Ray's two films set in and around Joyachandipahar. The famous film actress, Mrs Supriya Debi, seconded Mr Dasgupta's passion for Purulia, remarking upon the district's exceptional beauty.
Basudeb Acharia, local MP and president of the Joychandipahar Paryatan Utsab Committee, said: “Joychandipahar is well-known by tourists for its scenic beauty and will soon be easily accessible by rail, making it a highly desirable stop on the tourist circuit. The region's tourist appeal ensures sufficient scope for the planned economic development”. A highly modern station will be built at Joychandipahar in the style of Cooch Behar's Rajbari, to be ready by the end of the coming December, just before the fourth Joychandipar tourism festival. Purulia government officials are already considering the revenue to be gained by films shot in the area. Ayodhyapahar and Panchyatpahar, on the West Bengal-Jharkhand border, are also very attractive to tourists, as long as they remain free from the Maoist influence in the area.
The 23rd Purulia district book fair ended its week-long duration in Purulia town last week. In all, 60 publishers from Kolkata, Patna and Ranchi participated.Mr Karuna Sindhu Das, former Vice-Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati, was the chief guest. He expressed his passion for the book fair and highlighted its significance for the district.

Create right atmosphere for talks, Governor told Morcha

KOLKATA: West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Thursday reiterated, before Gorkha Janamukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung, the need for maintaining an atmosphere in the Darjeeling hills and the Dooars conducive to the ongoing tripartite discussions on the political situation in the region.

Mr. Gurung along with nine associates called on the Governor here, a day after talks with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on the GJM’s demands related to its Statehood campaign in the Dooars area.

Mr. Gurung’s demand for holding rallies in the Dooars was not acceded to by Mr. Bhattacharjee on the ground that such public meetings by any political outfit in the region should be put on hold as it could exacerbate ethnic tensions there.

“The Governor was informed of the State government denying the GJM permission for rallies there and we were assured that he would take up our various demands with the Prime Minister as well as the Chief Minister,” Roshan Giri, GJM general secretary, who was present at the meeting, told mediapersons.

Mr. Gandhi also indicated to Mr. Gurung his distress over a fast being observed by GJM supporters at Gorubathan in the Kalimpong sub-division.

The Governor, through Mr. Gurung, appealed to the fasting persons to give up their protest as he was taking up the issues raised by the GJM leader.

The “fast-unto-death” would continue until the State government met the GJM demands, Mr. Giri said.“We will not move even an inch away from our demand for Gorkhaland,” Mr. Giri said.“We do not believe in an arms struggle to achieve Statehood. Our struggle is democratic and on Gandhian principles. There is a conspiracy to malign the democratic image of the GJM; what we are asking for is a separate State within the framework of the Indian Constitution” he added.