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Debabrata Saikia

Guwahati, Jan. 17: Assam’s leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia has written to the Union civil aviation ministry demanding better facilities at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport here.

Saikia, leader of the Congress Legislature Party, had sent a letter to Union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati yesterday, stating that though a large number of flights had been introduced at LGBI Airport in recent years, the present infrastructure and arrangement for security checking were not sufficient.

He said the airport had a capacity for 2,000 passengers but had to take the load of 5,000 passengers daily, hence the Airports Authority of India should create more space in its arrival and departure areas.

Saikia said there were only three or four doorframe metal detectors at the airport. The existence of manual screening facility forces passengers to wait in a long queue for security clearance. So there is an urgent need to enhance the security screening facility at the airport.

LGBI is the largest airport in the Northeast, handling over 70 domestic and international flights daily. Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had held a meeting with the Union civil aviation ministry last year to press for improvement in infrastructure and facilities at the LGBI on a par with top international airports in the country.

According to the plan, Dispur will construct a full-fledged cargo station near LGBI, while the Airports Authority of India will construct a new runway to make the airport of a truly international standard.

Dispur has also urged the Union civil aviation ministry to take immediate steps to resume international flights from LGBI Airport, especially to all the South Asian countries.

 
By A STAFF REPORTER

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Guwahati, Jan. 17: The National School of Drama’s Repertory Company will stage five plays at Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra here from Thursday.

The group, comprising 40 artistes, musicians and technicians, has been touring the state staging plays and claimed that Assam has great potential for quality theatre.

“We have visited different places of Assam and received a good public response for our performances. We have seen that mobile theatre is very popular here. Theatre has good potential here and new talents should be exploited,” said Suresh Sarma, chief of the repertory company.

“We staged five plays in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Dergaon and Nagaon. We will now perform in Guwahati. We have tried to include different commercial elements, music and choreography in our plays which depict different social situations and carry a strong message. We hope Guwahatians will appreciate them,” he said.

The five plays to be staged here are Ghashiram Kotwal, written by Vijay Tendulkar and directed by Rajendra Nath, Ghazab Teri Ada and Laagi Lagan, written and directed by Waman Kendre, Aadha Chand, written and directed by Tripurari Sarma and Taj Mahal ka Tender written by Ajay Shukla and directed by Chittaranjan Tripathi.

Ghazab Teri Ada is inspired from a Greek play and Laagi Lagan is an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

“Plays no doubt should be commercially successful but they should also move people. A play with a strong message can throw light on different situations and make people think,” Sharma said.

 
By A Staff Reporter

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Guwahati, Jan. 17:Saar, etiya buji paisene ami ki bhugi ahiso … (Sir, now can you understand our suffering …?)” hooted an onlooker when Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was caught in a traffic snarl, for around 20 minutes, on the Saraighat bridge here this evening. Sonowal chose not to step out, or roll down the window, of his vehicle to respond to the suffering citizen.

Traffic jams on the bridge continued to disrupt life for the fifth straight day today, days after a pregnant woman had died on the bridge after her attendants failed to get her to the hospital on time, thanks to the infamous Saraighat bridge jam. Sonowal’s companion at 6 this evening was visiting Union minister of state for textiles Ajay Tamta, who then went on to just about miss a meeting with the media, scheduled 22km away at Taj Vivanta in the city.

Sonowal was returning from Nalbari by road instead of a proposed helicopter ride this evening only to get caught in the jam. It took policemen and his security men 20 minutes to plough a way for his convoy to pass. Others on the bridge and the jam had to wait for the usual two hours after the chief minister had left.

Tamta, who was returning from a visit to Sipajhar about 70km away on the north bank of the Brahmaputra is on a two-day visit to the state to take stock of his ministry’s cluster projects. By the time Tamta got to his news meet this evening most of the journalists who had gathered had left, after having waited for nearly two hours. The news meet was scheduled to start at 7.30pm but started only around 9.10pm.

This evening’s developments on the bridge came a day after Gammon India, which is constructing the second bridge at Saraighat, deferred, once again, the opening of the bridge by another 10 days. The government had earlier this month announced that the second bridge would be opened on January 15, a deadline it missed once again.

Apologising for the delay at the news meet, Tamta this evening said the situation on the bridge was “difficult traffic to negotiate”.

 
By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

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Ranjit Dutta and Kameng Dolo in Seijosa on Tuesday. Picture by Pranab Kumar Das

Seijosa, Jan. 17: Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are seeking the Centre’s assistance to control erosion by the Pakke river that damages crops and properties in both the states.

The Inter-State Brahmaputra Tributaries Basin Affected People’s Forum – a committee comprising members from Seijosa in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and Itakhola in Biswanath district of Assam – has submitted a memorandum to Union minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, demanding the Centre’s intervention.

The committee members yesterday met Rijiju, who was here to inaugurate the annual Pakke-Paga Festival, and urged him to take immediate measures, including setting up of embankments along the river.

Representatives of the panel also inspected the erosion-affected area yesterday.

A team comprising Assam irrigation minister Ranjit Dutta, Seijosa MLA Kameng Dolo and Sootea MLA Padma Hazarika, along with members of the Brahmaputra Board, also took stock of the damage in the area.

Seijosa is nearly 80km from Tezpur and 130km from Itanagar.

The residents of the area, bordering Biswanath district, have witnessed large-scale erosion for the past couple of years.

Dutta later urged Rijiju in a meeting to sanction funds immediately to solve the problem that is affecting the people of the two states.

The Union minister said erosion and floods needed to be tackled like a national problem. He said the matter would be placed before central government authorities.

Pakke, known as Bor Dekorai in Assam, has a history of being both a boon and a bane for the people settled along the stretch in Seijosa and adjacent areas in Assam. Climate change coupled with population pressure on the banks and its catchment areas have led to flooding and erosion.

The president of the committee, Techi Hemo, told The Telegraph that every monsoon farm lands and infrastructure were damaged.

Techi added that the presence of an irrigation project barrage in Assam obstructs the smooth flow of the debris carried by the river during floods resulting in backwater swelling at the upstream of the barrage.

A cloudburst in 2004 had resulted in water overflowing from 200 metres upstream of the barrage resulting in damage to public and private property along the road, built by the North Eastern Council, connecting Itakhola with Seijosa.

He said if immediate measures were not taken then people living in the Balijuri, Itakhola, Sootea and Jamugurihat areas of Assam would be affected by the calamity, which could also damage railway lines, National Highway 15 and the Pakke-Seijosa-Itakhola road.

“There is a need to construct a guard wall along the upstream of the barrage,” he said.

 
By PRANAB KUMAR DAS

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Guwahati, Jan. 17: The Assam Real Estate Industrial Development Association (Areida) has urged Dispur to amend the building bylaws of Guwahati metropolitan region as well as other urban areas of the state, alleging that the rules were operating with numerous errors.

Areida president P.K. Sharma said the current bylaws, notified in 2014, had some “serious” errors and it is imperitive that the Model Building Bye Laws 2016 published by the government of India be followed across the state.

He said the 2016 central bylaws were far improved and conducive to ease of doing business besides making housing affordable.

The state government last month notified a technical committee to revise the building bylaws of Guwahati metropolitan region and make it on a par with the Model Building Bye Laws 2016.

The committee, which has held several meetings, is of the opinion that complete amendment of the existing bylaws in accordance with the central guidelines will take some time.

“However, it has recommended immediate interim measures to correct the errors in the existing bylaws so that projects stalled due to defective regulations be cleared without further delay,” Sharma said.

The additional commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation is the committee’s chairman. Its members comprise representatives from the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority, GMC, Pollution Control Board Assam, State Fire Services, Assam Engineering College and the forest department, besides presidents of Areida and the Architects Association of Assam.

 
By A STAFF REPORTER

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Guwahati, Jan. 17: Deepsikha Foundation, a leading non-profit voluntary organisation for cancer care, has lined up a slew of events – from a concert by singer Javed Ali, a walk and a cycle rally – to raise funds for cancer care and awareness here this weekend.

The concert at the ITA Centre Machkhowa on Saturday will feature Javed Ali, famous for numbers like Kajra re (Bunty aur Babli), Tu jo mila (Bajrangi Bhaijaan), Guzaarish (Ghajini), Kun faya kun (Rockstar), Jab tak hai jaan (Jab Tak Hai Jaan) and Nagada Nagada (Jab We Met).

Tickets for the concert have been priced at Rs 1,000, Rs 700, Rs 500 and Rs 300, the proceeds of which will go towards cancer care programmes of the organisation, maintenance of the hospice at Mirza and setting up of a centre for cancer-affected children at Six Mile in the city.

There will also be a walk against tobacco and cancer from K.C. Das Commerce College, Bharalumukh, and Zoo Road to Nehru Stadium at 8am on Sunday, along with a cycle rally at the same time from B. Borooah Cancer Institute to Nehru Stadium.

The foundation has been at the forefront of cancer care organisations trying to add meaning to the lives of cancer-stricken people in Assam and the Northeast.

Moved by the plight of cancer patients and their families running out of resources and the lack of awareness about cancer, the members of the trust conducted awareness camps in the villages of the northeastern states with a small band of musicians and health workers.

The Northeast has the highest incidence of cancer compared to the rest of the country, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

A nationwide cancer-tracking programme conducted by ICMR has revealed thatAssam’s Kamrup (metro) district has the fourth highest incidence of cancer in the country among men and third highest among women.

 
By Ali Fauz Hassan

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Sarbananda Sonowal confers Shilpi Bota, 2017, to vocalist Mridula Das at Borghuli Pathar in Biswanath district on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Tezpur, Jan. 17: Singer Mridula Das and music director Ramen Choudhury were conferred with Shilpi Bota (award) by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Shilpi Divas today, which marks the death anniversary of cultural icon and freedom fighter Jyoti Prasad Agarwala.

The duo were honoured for their outstanding contribution to the field of Assamese art and culture at a function at Borghuli playground in Biswanath district today.

Sonowal announced that his government would take steps for preservation of Chitraban Studio located at Bholaguri tea estate, which was set up by Agarwala for shooting his film Joymoti in 1933, in a bid to acquaint the young generation and take his work to the world.

He said the government would also preserve the old Gohpur police station, which witnessed the supreme sacrifice of freedom fighters Kanaklata Barua and Mukunda Kakoti during the Quit India Movement in 1942.

Sonowal said his government would institute an award in the name of Vaishnavite cultural icon Sonit Konwar Gajen Baruah from this year.

The chief minister urged the youths to emulate Agarwala’s ideals and described him as an artiste par excellence whose immense contribution had enriched Assamese art and culture.

He unveiled a statue of Agarwala at Bholaguri and visited the Chitraban Studio. Sonowal also laid the foundation stone of Kanaklata Baruah auditorium to be constructed at Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala Memorial Park and a circuit house at Gohpur to be constructed by the public works department.

State irrigation minister Ranjit Dutta, cultural affairs minister Naba Kumar Doley, labour minister Pallab Lochan Das, Tezpur MP R.P. Sarmah and MLAs Utpal Bora, Pramod Borthakur, Padma Hazarika, family members of Agarwala and senior government officials were present.

 
By PRANAB KUMAR DAS

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Guwahati, Jan. 17: The fight against rhino poaching received a major boost with Assam setting up 10 fast-track courts to expedite wildlife crime cases.

A government source said setting up of fast-track courts to exclusively deal with wildlife offences will ensure prompt trial of poachers. “The move is expected to improve the conviction rate, which has been abysmally low, in wildlife crime cases,” he said.

The courts have been set up in Golaghat, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Cachar, Darrang and Udalguri districts where national parks and most of the wildlife sanctuaries are located.

The source said the courts came into being recently with Gauhati High Court designating the seniormost additional sessions judge in the 10 districts for faster disposal of cases under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and other offences related to forests, which can be tried in a sessions court.

The high court notification says that if any district does not have an additional sessions judge, the sessions court can become a fast-track court for wildlife crimes. “It is a welcome step as wildlife cases remain pending in court for years. With the setting up of fast-track courts, the cases will get preference and speedy disposal,” former public prosecutor Ziaul Kamar said.

He hoped that setting up of fast-track courts will work as a deterrent to poaching. Nearly 240 rhinos have been killed by poachers in Assam since 2001.

 
By Pankaj Sarma

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EYE ON TEACHERS

Guwahati, Jan. 17: Teachers of nearly 50 per cent of Assam’s government and provincialised colleges have come under the scanner following Dispur’s decision to take action against them for rendering their services in private institutions.

The government has set a February deadline for the erring teachers to quit such institutions or face action.

The department of higher education yesterday came out with an official memorandum stating that the practice of engagement of some college teachers as well as principals in private educational and non-educational institutions, either on voluntary or paid basis, had created conflict of interest.

Part-time engagement of these teachers with other agencies has also adversely affected the academic environment of government and provincialised colleges where they are not able to devote themselves fully and dedicatedly to the primary task of teaching, the memorandum said.

It warned that the state government had decided not to tolerate this practice. It categorically stated that the teachers or principals who are currently on the panel of private educational institutions or non-educational institutions must immediately resign from such post or engagements within 30 days of the memorandum. Non-adherence to the instruction will invite strict disciplinary and punitive action against erring teachers, it added.

Sources in the education department today said the government was compelled to issue an official memorandum following a rise in the number of teachers from government and provincialised colleges engaging in private institutions.

Assam has 300-plus government and provincialised colleges. Sources said teachers of nearly 150 colleges deliver their services in private institutions. Teachers of even some of the leading colleges in Guwahati are involved in promoting private institutions.

The Assam College Teachers’ Association (ACTA) welcomed the move. It, however, maintained that the government must also prevent mushrooming of private educational institutions in the state by setting up a large number of public institutions with quality infrastructure and facilities.

ACTA general secretary Biswajit Bhuyan said the government must also put in place an effective mechanism to monitor such erring teachers. “The ACTA has always opposed promotion of private educational institutions,” he said.

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) expressed concern over the development and said it would not tolerate any injustice to students pursuing higher education in public institutions. The AASU general secretary, Lurinjyoti Gogoi, said teachers of government and provincialised colleges must engage in producing good quality human resources from their institutions. He said it was high time for the government to hunt hidden talents from colleges and educational institutions situated in the rural and remote areas of the state.

Dispur had last month issued a memorandum expressing serious concern over the engagement of several government schoolteachers as chairmen or members in the management committees of private schools.

 
By DAULAT RAHMAN

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The Germany-bound Manipur footballers. Telegraph picture

Imphal, Jan. 17: Young Ipham and Tennyson from Manipur have dribbled their way, along with 13 other soccer players from their state, to Bitburg in Germany, where they will undergo extensive professional training with 20 other under-15 footballers from the Northeast for six years, courtesy the Tata Trust.

The programme in Germany also envisages links with feeder programmes to the Bundesliga, initially with the Hoffenheim team.

Tata Trust, partnering U Sports, picked 17 boys from Mizoram, 15 from Manipur, two from Meghalaya and one from Assam after extensive talent hunt in July last year for the premier collaborative football training programme.

Interacting with reporters here along with the parents of the young footballers, Tata Trust associate director Biswanath Sinha said: “We have partnered with U Sports to develop a one-of-a-kind skill enhancement programme that offers talented young children a unique opportunity to pursue a career in football and gain recognition not only at home but also on international platform. The objective is to identify talent at the tender age of 13 and offer international training, academic and infrastructure support to help them advance as professional footballers.” He added that in comparison to academics, sports often takes a back seat.

“However, with the schools of talent in the Northeast, we hope that the right mix of academics and sports training will nurture children to scale new heights in football and other sports. This will not only make communities recognise sports as a means to diversified livelihood but also understand its significance as a catalyst for sustainable development. Apart from football, we have been focusing on other projects, including a milk processing unit in Thoubal district (Manipur) for the last eight years,” Sinha said.

The 15 Manipur boys, who landed in Germany at 3 this morning, are Ipham Imtiyas Khan, N. Bidyananda, L. Tennyson, S. Robert, Chingkhosiam Dimngel, Ng. Rakesh, T. Saphaba, Ginlianhau Tungnung, C.H. Neilianthang Aimol, N. Kishan, Md Jakir Khan, Golmei Apu Kabui, A. Sanathoi, S. Punshiba and Ng. Suraj Singh.

The Mizoram players are Emmanuel Lalchhanchhuaha, Lalchungnunga Chhangte, Lalhmingmawia Royte, Lalhriatpuia, Lalmalsawma, Lalmuanzova Khawlhring, Lalchhanchhuaha, Lalramdinsanga, Lalramhmachhuana, Lalramzailawma, Lalremliana, Larry Lalrinawma, Moody Lalawmpuia, Moses Lalrinpuia, R. Lalrinpuia, Ramhlunchhunga and Vanlalpeka. The 16-year-old left-winger Ramhlunchunga hails from Kolasib and has dreamt of becoming a professional footballer since he was in primary school. Winning the most valuable player title in the Subroto Cup Iin 2014 gave him the belief that he could go on to achieve his dream.

The Meghalaya duo are Badonlang Rapsang and Charles Lyngdoh.

Nine-year-old Chandan Boro is the representative from Assam. He called on Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati before leaving and Sonowal assured him of all possible help and support from the state government.

Ch. Neilianthang Aimol from Pallel in Chandel district expressed his happiness at making it to the group and hoped to give his best effort in his chosen field. He idolises Cristiano Ronaldo and dreams of joining Real Madrid.

Additional reporting by Nilotpal Bhattacharjee

 
By Robert Sapam