May 27, 2009

'AILA' BATTERED KOLKATA





DEVASTATION MADE BY CYCLONE 'AILA'














West Bengal cyclone death toll mounts to 82

Heavy rain triggers landslips in Darjeeling; Aila weakens into depression and causes downpour

KOLKATA,26th May: The city and some districts, devastated by cyclone Aila on Monday, are yet to come to terms with the reality, even as the death toll shot up to 82. Fresh areas in the north were reeling under the impact of the cyclone’s after-effects on Tuesday. More than 2.2 million people have been affected.

Heavy and incessant rain in Darjeeling triggered landslips, which claimed nine lives. At least six people are reported missing. The highway connecting the hills to the rest of the State was blocked at several places.

“Cyclone Aila has weakened into a depression,” said G.C. Debnath, director, weather section, Regional Meteorological Centre. “It caused very heavy rainfall in north Bengal on Tuesday.”

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has apprised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the situation.

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who is in Darjeeling, was in constant touch with Mr. Bhattacharjee. He visited three areas worst hit by the landslips and met the injured who were admitted to the district hospital. He appreciated the locals for their help in clearing the roads of debris.

While Kolkata limped back to normal, vast areas of the districts hit by the cyclonic storm on Monday were under water that gushed in through breaches in the embankments.

Army and Border Security Force personnel are assisting in rescue operations in Darjeeling and North and South 24 Parganas districts. Two MI-17 helicopters of the Air Force are airdropping relief materials and carrying out evacuations in inaccessible areas in South and North 24 Parganas.

More than 41,000 people, who have lost their homes, have been put up in 109 relief camps. Around 61,000 houses have been destroyed and 1.32 lakh partially damaged, Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said here.

Certain areas, including Patharpratima in South 24 Parganas district, remain inaccessible.

The Chief Minister visited some of the worst-hit areas in the district. So did Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee later in the afternoon.

Mr. Bhattacharjee spoke to a section of those sheltered in the relief camps in the Nimpith area. Rescue and relief operations were being undertaken on a war-footing, he said. Attempts were being made to restore power and drinking water was also being supplied in pouches.

Ms. Banerjee suggested that a master plan be drawn up for flood and erosion control. She criticised the State government for not opening adequate relief camps.

Kolkata, much to the relief of its residents, woke up to clear skies in the morning. Though traffic was back on the roads, several stretches continue to remain blocked by uprooted trees.

Buddhadeb visits cyclone relief camps

KOLKATA, May 26: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday visited cyclone relief camps in Nimpith in South 24 Parganas, the area worst hit by `Cyclone Alia’.

Bhattacharjee talked to people who have taken shelter in the relief camp.

About 24000 people have been rendered homeless in South 24 Parganas district.

The cyclone-affected victims have been provided with dry food.

The district administration has set up about 100 relief camps across the disaster zone and launched relief and rescue operations at the block level.

In the Sunderbans Delta zone, large areas, including several villages, within the Kakdwip Sub-Division have been inundated and thousands have been forced to quit home and hearth and leave for relief camps.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that West Bengal capital Kolkata is limping back to normal a day after `Cyclone Aila’ brushed past it at a distance of 50 km.

At least 35 people have been killed across the state, 15 of them in Kolkata and Howrah and 20 others in South Bengal districts. Over 1500 trees lie uprooted across the main thoroughfares in the city, several electric poles have keeled over, electricity, water supply and cable connections have been disrupted in several pockets across the metropolis. The storm which started around 1.30 p.m. Monday and lasted till 8.30 p.m., with a couple of hours lull around 3 p.m., rendered Kolkata immobile.  Roads were blocked, public transport collapsed, all to and fro flights were cancelled and even the dependable metro crashed.

BENGAL LEFT FRONT CALLS FOR RELIEF AND REHABILITATION OF DISASTER-AFFECTED PEOPLE

KOLKATA,25th MAY: Bengal Left Front has called for a massive statewide collection of funds and relief materials from 28 May to 3 June 2009 for the relief and rehabilitation of the hundreds of thousands of people of Bengal, especially south Bengal, in the aftermath of the cyclonic storm and typhoon Ayela.

 

The storm struck the coastline of Bengal after suddenly making a left turn even as everyone including meteorologists thought that it had taken a right turn as such storms usually do to invade coastal Bangladesh.  This effectively prevented evacuation of people from areas that were subsequently affected.

 

As we file this report, we have received news of 40 dead including three in the city itself as uprooted trees and electricity and other service poles keeled over, killing people, and destroying houses.  Large area had to have electricity shut off for fear of electrocution.  Snapping of cable lines meant the Bengal left Front government could not utilise the TV channels to issue warnings and other relevant information to the coastal districts in particular.

 

In the affected districts, more than several lakh of people are affected, shelterless, and dependent on the dry food and tarpaulins that the LF government has hastened out to the importunate. The worse of the storm damage was done on 25 and 26 May although we hear from north Bengal that rain has restarted in places like the dooars and the terai and in great earnest.

 

The Left Front has called upon all of its units and the units of the component political parties to go forth into the midst of the affected people and help the process of rebuilding of their shattered lives.  LF chairman Biman Basu visited several flood-affected areas of Kolkata and the surrounding districts. 

 

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee went to Nimpith in south 24 Parganas to take a meeting with the local people to gauge the depth and width of the damage and the measures necessary to relieve the people in their dire stressful conditions.  Finance minister Dr Asim Dasgupta visited both north 24 Parganas and east Midnapore as last reports came in.

 

The Bengal LF has appealed to the people irrespective of political affiliation to come forward with help for the affected.  It has also urged upon the union government to offer help to the state in its hour of crisis.

BENGAL CPI (M) CALLS FOR WIDENING MASS CONTACT THROUGH SPECIFIC MEASURES

INTROSPECTION ON ORGANISATIONAL WEAKNESSES PERCEIVED

KOLKATA:The state committee of the Bengal unit of the CPI (M) sat for a one-day session at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan on 24 May.  Central committee member Benoy Konar presided.  The primary albeit analytical observation of the Bengal CPI (M) on recent developments including the elections, past and forthcoming, plus the emergent tasks ahead was identified by Bengal state secretary and PBM Biman Basu.  PBM and Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took part in the discussions that followed.

 

The state committee was of the opinion that the Congress-led coalition/alliance achieved unexpected success at the all-India level of the Lok Sabha polls garnering 61 seats more than it had done in 2004.  The percentage increase in votes won was less than impressive, up from 26.50 to 28.50.  Congress won 205 seats, with allies the tally reached 262. 

 

There was a remarkable and welcome decrease in the electoral strength of the BJP and the NDA it leads in terns of seats won and voting percentage.  NDA won 159 seats.  BJP lost 02.90% of votes from 2004.  The combined total of voting percentage of BJP + Congress (at 48.70%) remained below the figure obtained in 2004.

 

Despite winning with √©lan, both seats in Tripura inclusive of every Assembly segment there, the Bengal and the Kerala CPI (M) lost 25 seats it had won in 2004.  The CPI (M) won a total of 16 seats but the CPI (M) vote share has lessened but from 05.66% to 05.52%.  The total seats won by the Left this time lessened from 61 the last time around to 24. 

 

The Bengal unit believes that the electorate did not accept the slogan for the Third Front.  The Third Front won 78 seats with a voting percentage of 21%.  However, none of the three political sides in contention could anticipate the results that came out.  The so-called surveys carried out by the media were a miserable failure in this regard as well.

 

There is need for deep-rooted surveys and analyses at the all-India and the state level in a wide manner to identify the reasons why such electoral results were obtained.  This will take some time to go through.  Primarily, the Bengal state committee has highlighted two issues in this regard. 

 

First, despite the exceptions obtaining in several states as far as results were concerned, the nation’s electorate especially the secular part being conscious the terrorist threat in particular, regarded the Congress as the more reliable vehicle for the setting up of a stable government as against a hung parliament and instability. 

 

The people were also eager to prevent a return to office of the communal BJP and this is a contributory cause why the support of the secular vote behind the Congress platform increased.  It is true that it was the pressure from the Left that saw the passage of legislations like the NREGA, the adivasi and forest rights bill, and other social welfare programmes.  Nonetheless, the electoral benefit was reaped by the Congress as a party.

 

The Left fought the election in different states in conjunction and in alliance with a number of ‘non-Congress, non-BJP’ political parties.  This was necessary to build up a ‘non-Congress-secular’ electoral alternative at the all-India level.  The people did not accept as a stable, reliable alternative such an alliance that grew up immediately prior to the elections in some states.

 

The state committee believed that the all-India trend of results played a decisive role in election results obtaining in Bengal.  Yet even if one took that into calculation, there was no denying the importance of resolving the errors of omission and commission in organising the Bengal CPI (M), the Bengal Left Front government, the Panchayats, the municipalities, and the programme of deep mass-contact. 

 

The Bengal CPI (M) shall identify these lacunae in a specific way and attach more importance to rectification of the political-organisational fault-lines.  The Bengal CPI (M) shall learn the necessary lessons from the verdict cast by the mass of the people of Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections, earnest and eager as the Bengal CPI (M) is to introspect deeply and to look forward to critique and advice from the people.

 

A large number of comrades have taken a huge risk, and have struggled to the cost of their lives in the run up to and during the elections., and 34 have been martyred by the enemies, bringing up to a total of no less that 353 members of the Bengal CPI (M) who have had to lay down their lives in the line of pro-people struggles and movements.  In an ambience of animosity and attack on the part of the enemies and their running mates, a vast number of the mass of the people have come forward to support the Bengal Left Front with a steeled resolve. 

 

The people devoted themselves heart-and-soul in a struggle that involved standing face-to-face before the combined enmity and might of the attack being centred on this Left bastion with the active participation of US imperialism’s conspiracy, the use of money and muscle power, and the constant attacking mode of the media.  Their contribution and support will form the edifice on which the struggle in the days ahead would be built up and mobilised.  

 

It does not carry with the ideological stance of the CPI (M) and the historical experience to ponder about the long-lasting character of the elements that make up the present situation.  Newer sections of the society would be pulled into the main stream of resistance and struggle because of the insistent transfer of the burden of the worldwide economic crisis onto the shoulders of developing nations like India, the surrender of the Indian ruling classes before imperialist pressure-tactics, the consequent price rise, unemployment, closure, and lay off affecting India and her people.  People across the board of political affiliation shall be the victims of the process of economic and social dysfunction.  

 

In the circumstances that have appeared before the nation, it is the Left and the Left alone that can organise in a broadest platform, all the ‘non-Congress secular’ forces in the country based on a common minimum programme.  The struggle towards this a target must be kept up relentlessly.  The unity of the Left Front must be continued with and further improved in every sense.  One of the primary tasks before the Bengal CPI (M) comprised making the Party units and the supporters and sympathisers of the CPI (M) more and more pro-active.

 

There may well be attempts made in the days to come to create limitless opposition against the ongoing and continuous attempt by the Left Front government to implement pro-people programmes.  At the same time, the Bengal CPI (M) must stand prepared and ready to face such attempts as might well be made to hold the Bengal LF government responsible for non-performance in implementation of programmes, and create an anarchic situation by creating a series of law-and-order violations.

 

CPI (M) workers, sympathisers and the mass of the people must initiate attempts step-by-step to build up a most massive movement of the people to defend the democratic situation in Bengal, to guard the integrity and solidarity of the state, and to protect with care the programmes of development.  Lost allies must be brought out of their present position.  Newer allies must be found.  This is possible once the way is cleared for further consolidation of the struggle for defending the democratic rights of the mass of the people.

 

Political mass contact must be made in a deeper and wider manner.  The relentless flood of misinformation, lies, and slandering against the CPI (M) and the Left, in the corporate media must be nailed.  There should be no attempts to either create aggravation or fall into the trap of provocation.  There is need now more than ever, for patience, toleration, control, and intelligence. 

 

The people must be reposed trust in and the trust of the people in the CPI (M) must be further enhanced.  The task of deepening mass contact must be augmented through appropriate reorganisation of the ongoing tasks.  Specific measures must be taken to up to increase the believability, trustworthiness, acceptance, and credibility of the CPI (M) amongst the mass of the people.

              

MAOISTS, TRINAMULIS KILL THREE CPI (M) WORKERS


KOLKATA: Maoists assisted by Trinamuli goons killed comrade Dinesh Mahato at the Kedua village in Balarampur, Purulia in the evening of 23 May.  Comrade Dinesh was a member of the Ghatbera-Kedua local committee of the CPI (M).  Comrade Dinesh (43) leaves behind his two sons, three daughters and his widow.  He earned his keep running a small soldering/welding shop in the locale.

 

Comrade Dinesh was on his way to his shop he was surrounded by three or more miscreants of Maoist and Trinamuli affiliation.  He was then shot repeatedly from a point blank range with sophisticated firearms.  He died on the spot.  The assailants flaunting guns and knives made good their escape on two motorcycles that they had parked nearby as getaway vehicles. 

 

Earlier in the month comrade Dinesh had led a resistance to the Maoists’ demand of the CPI (M) workers not to vote at all or if they did, to cast their franchise for the opposition candidates everywhere.  It is noteworthy that the CPI (M) and the Left won all the seats in the laterite zone of Bengal in the recent Lok Sabha elections, Birbhum being a lone exception.

 

Elsewhere far away in south 24 Parganas at Bishnupur, the attempt by Trinamuli goons to kill Nityananda and his brother Parthajit Naskar was foiled by their father comrade Monoranjan Naskar (76) -- at the cost of his own life.  Frustrated at the resistance thrown up by an infirm but determined old man, the hooligans attacked him with large meat-cutting choppers and left him dead, a bloodied mess.  Parthajit, too, was injured when he came to the rescue of his dying father.

 

At Khara-Balarampur at Nadia near Krishnagar, a school-going young boy was killed in the cruellest manner imaginable for having been associated with the CPI (M).  The young comrade Apurba Ghosh (15) who had just been promoted to class IX in the school he read.  Comrade Apurba was first abducted, had his hands tied behind his back, throttled and finally had a long sharp instrument stabbed into his left ear penetrating his head, a wound that must have cause excruciating pain to the young comrade before he would die.

 

This is not the first time that school going students have been martyred at the Trinamulis in the aftermath of the polls.  On 19 May, at Bherbheri village at Manabari in Coochbehar, SFI organiser Bibek Burman (17), a student of class XI, was speared to death in the most horrible manner imaginable after being abducted. 

 

They also attacked women of the area who were all CPI (M) workers, leaving no less than 30 injured.  Earlier still on 8 may, a young lad of ten, Sheikh Babua was blasted to death with a shower of bombs as he played on his roof of the single-storey family house at Baksi in Bagnan, Howrah.