Archive for April, 2010

Noah’s Ark FOUND? Evangelist Group Says It’s In Turkey

April 28, 2010

Noah’s Ark has been found atop a mountain in Turkey, a team of Turkish and Chinese evangelical explorers said Monday, April 26.

The 15-person team claims to have recovered fragments of wood and pieces of rope from a structure on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey that carbon dating has put at 4,800 years old, roughly coinciding with the time the biblical flood was said to have been occurred.

UPDATE: Scroll down for photos of the supposed ark, posted to the group’s Web site, and you be the judge of the evidence.

The team is a joint effort between Hong Kong-based Media Evangelism, Noah’s Ark Ministry International and the Turkish government.

Yeung Wing-Cheung, a member of the team, told AFP, “It’s not 100 percent that it is Noah’s Ark but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it.”

He said that the structure at the site featured wooden beams and several compartments that were believed to house animals.

Wing-Cheung added that local officials will ask the Turkish government to apply for UNESCO World Heritage status, to protect the site while further archaeological excavation is carried out.

However, the group has not revealed the location of the site beyond saying that it is 12,000 feet up the mountain. It has also failed to produce exterior photos of the structure.

Nicholas Purcell, a lecturer in Ancient History at Oxford University, called the claims “the usual nonsense,” according to the Daily Mail.

“If floodwaters covered Eurasia 12,000 feet deep in 2,800 BC, how did the complex societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, already many centuries old, keep right on regardless?” he said.

[ via Huffingtonpost]

SKorean is 1st Woman to Conquer 14 Highest Peaks

April 28, 2010

By Binaj Gurubacharya

super climber Katmandu, Nepal : A South Korean mountaineer became the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest mountains, crawling on all fours Tuesday as she reached the last summit.

Oh Eun-sun, 44, arrived at the final, steep stretch of Annapurna in the Himalayas 13 hours after she left the last camp to beat a Spanish rival to the record. Her feat was broadcast live in South Korea by KBS television.

At the top, she pulled out a South Korean flag, waved, and then wept before throwing up her arms and shouting, “Victory!”

Annapurna was the last of the 14 peaks above 26,247 feet (8,000 meters) Oh needed to climb to set the mark. She reached the summit – 26,545 feet (8,091 meters) above sea level – 13 years after she scaled her first Himalayan mountain, Gasherbrum II, in 1997. She scaled Everest in 2004.

The whole team was in good health and was making its way down to the base camp, expedition coordinator Song Hea-kyong said in the Nepalese capital. They were expected back in Katmandu by the weekend, Song said.

Oh narrowly beat Edurne Pasaban of Spain to the record. After reaching Annapurna earlier this month, Pasaban, 26, has only the 26,330-foot-high (8,027-meter-high) Mount Shisha Pangma left on her list.

Oh also tried to summit Annapurna last year but turned away just hundreds of yards (meters) from the top because of bad weather. Snow and wind also stopped her from making the trek last weekend.

“I gave it up because of a sudden ominous feeling that something bad would happen to either me or my peers, including the sherpas, on my way back to base camp,” she told The Korea Times newspaper last month.

She said this trip would be different, adding that she would be carrying a photograph of Ko Mi-young, a lifelong rival who fell to her death last year while descending from Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth-highest peak.

On Tuesday, KBS footage showed Oh breathing heavily after each step in minus-20 Fahrenheit (minus-29 Celsius) temperatures on snowy Annapurna.

“I’m so happy, and I would like to share this joy with the South Korean people,” said an emotional Oh, murmuring, “Thank you, thank you.”

President Lee Myung-bak sent a congratulatory message, saying South Koreans were “awakened to her great spirits of challenge,” according to his office.

“She is really great and I’m proud of her,” he said.

Oh’s quest has met with some controversy, after some questioned whether she had in fact summited one of the peaks on the list: Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest. Photos taken of that trek did not clearly prove she had reached the summit. She dismissed the criticism.

“I can say that I have stood at the summit of Mount Kanchenjunga,” she told reporters in Seoul late last year, according to Yonhap news agency. “It was bad weather. Three sherpas told me that I reached the top, and one of them took the picture.”

Oh has described mountain climbing as an addiction.

“For a while after a successful climb, I seriously consider quitting,” she told The Korea Times. But “I find my heart longing for the exhilaration I had on the top of a summit.”

Associated Press writer Jean H. Lee contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea.

The Associated Press

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

/ AP
In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

– AP

FILE- In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 file photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son, right, looks on as she moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. The South Korean climber has become the first woman to scale 14 of the world’s highest mountains. Seoul broadcaster KBS television showed live coverage Tuesday, April 27,2010, of Oh Eun-sun reaching the summit of Annapurna and affixing a South Korean flag to the peak. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK, FILE)

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

– AP

FILE-In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 file photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son, foreground, moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. The South Korean climber has become the first woman to scale 14 of the world’s highest mountains. Seoul broadcaster KBS television showed live coverage Tuesday, April 27,2010, of Oh Eun-sun reaching the summit of Annapurna and affixing a South Korean flag to the peak. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK, FILE)

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

– AP

South Korean watch TV live broadcasting that South Korean climber Oh Eun-sun reached the summit of the Annapurna in Nepal, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 27, 2010. Oh made history in the Himalayas on Tuesday by becoming the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest mountains, beating a Spanish rival for the record.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

– AP

South Korean watch TV live broadcasting of South Korean climber Oh Eun-sun reaching the summit of the Annapurna in Nepal, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 27, 2010. Oh made history in the Himalayas on Tuesday by becoming the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest mountains, beating a Spanish rival for the record.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

– AP

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son, foreground, moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

– AP

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 photo released by BLACKYAK, South Korean female climber Oh Eun-son, right, looks on as she moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal. Oh plans to conquer the 8,000-meter peak of Annapurna. Oh has climbed 13 of the world’s highest mountains, with only Annapurna remaining on her list. (AP Photo/BLACKYAK)

Travel Allowance To Northeast India Extended

April 28, 2010

air-india New Delhi, Apr 28 : The scheme of relaxation of leave travel allowance (LTA) rules allowing central government employees to travel to the northeastern region by air has been extended by two years with effect from May 1.

The department of personal and training issued a notice pertaining to the extension on April 20. The scheme was the brainchild of former DoNER minister Mani Shankar Aiyar that the current minister has expanded.

In February, DoNER minister Bijoy Krishna Handique appealed to Union minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pension Prithviraj Chauhan to extend the scheme “in view of the tremendous enthusiasm generated among the central government employees”.

The relaxation had resulted in a large number of families visiting the region in the past year and a half.

Handique mentioned that the extension would give necessary fillip to the tourism potential and economy of the region.

According to the available data, the inflow of domestic tourists to the eight northeastern states recorded a growth of 21 per cent in the past two years. The year 2009 saw a growth of 11 per cent in the inflow of domestic tourists compared to the previous year.

“This growth is chiefly attributed to the huge increase in LTC tourists since introduction of the scheme initiated by the DoNER ministry in May, 2008. There was a total domestic inflow of 5.7 million tourists in the year 2009,” a DoNER release said today.

Handique appealed to all the state governments and the people of Northeast to avail this opportunity to give a boost to the tourism and create more employment avenues in the region.

Bogey of Indigenous Identity Fuels Assamese Militancy

April 28, 2010

By M. Burhanuddin Qasmi

militants The Census 2011 has begun nationwide on 1st April 2010. Though the Schedules for Census of India 2011 and National Population Register have no columns to enroll one’s language or religion this time, yet it had fuelled past differences of Assamese and Bengalis in Assam. Following is an historic account of this language dispute in Assam, a north-eastern state of India.

The six year long Assam Movement between 1979 and 1985 by All Assam Students Union (AASU) was initially against all ‘outsiders’. Slogans like, “Assam is for the Assamese, “Drive out Indian dogs from Assam” were dominantly inscribed in public places in parts of upper and central Assam. The direction of the agitation was, later, diverted against linguistic and religious minorities – both Bengali Hindus and Muslims and then gradually poor Bengali Muslims become an only easy target.

On February 18th, 1983 Bengali-speaking Muslims alone had to pay the cost of ‘saving democracy’ during infamous Nellie massacre. Both the State and Central governments but miserably failed to protect around 2000 innocent Muslims from extremist butchers at Nellie in Nagoan district of Assam who dared to come out for vote against AASU’s diktat. Even after 27 years a proper enquiry has not been constituted into the pogrom, let alone compensation to the victims or to bring the culprits to justice.

So-called Identity Crises of Indigenous People

The entire propaganda machinery for the Assam Agitation was based on two hypotheses – one majority Muslims are coming from across the open borders of Bangladesh and silently settling in Assam and two because of the unabated infiltration of huge number of Bengalese – both Hindu refugees and Muslims settlers from Bangladesh, the ‘indigenous’ Assamese were being linguistically reduced to a minority and losing their socio-cultural identity in their own land.

The two propositions are totally baseless and falsely propagated to fuel violent separatist and militant movements such as the – United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and instigate a political party – Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) by the AASU leadership 30 years ago. We should shortly analyze the second proposition only in this column that the Bengalis of Assam are not indigenous people of the state and their growing number is endangering Assamese language and culture.

The question of Assamese speaking – the so-called indigenous people becoming a minority in Assam does not arise in the first place because the Assamese speaking people, as a race were never a majority in Assam at any point of time in the history of Assam. As a matter of fact Assam, being a natural place of abode of different linguistic, ethnic, cultural and religious groups of people, has always been a composite state since its inception. Assam is very much like a miniature India, where different races of people lived together and maintained their own identities.

Genesis of Assamese Language

Going by the pre-colonial history, part of present Assam was under Mughal rule through nawabs of Bengal and by their instructions the peasantry from Bengal migrated from East to West Bengal to settle on both sides of the river Brahmaputra for fishing, cultivation and as a way of fighting regular floods that ravaged the area they were then inhabiting. The areas where immigrant Bengali Muslims live for centuries is now known as lower Assam.

The British annexed the remaining parts of Assam (then Ahom) – present upper and parts of central Assam in 1826 and brought it under the provincial administration of Bengal. They also brought English knowing educated Bengalese, skilled farmers and labourers particularly Muslim for assisting in administration, cultivation and construction of public infrastructure which again resulted in large scale migration from the densely populated East Bengal to Brahmaputra valley.

Bengali was the language of the courts and Government schools of Assam in 1837. As per pre-independent census in 1931 the Assamese speaking people constituted only 34 percent of the state population.

In 1951 their number shot up to 64 percent of state population and that is only because of recording of Assamese as the mother tongue in the census by the Bengali speaking Muslims of the Brahmaputra valley.

It is notable that during the period of 20 years from 1951 to 1971, the percentage of growth of Assamese speaking people rose to 80 percent of the state population. An obvious question arises, then where the Assamese had migrated from? The only logical answer is that the Bengalese, especially Muslims, who migrated from lower to upper valleys of the Brahmaputra River till 1971 have largely contributed to the Assamese language and culture and they recorded Assamese as their mother tongue in the census.

But factually the Assamese speaking people do not constitute a majority race in Assam even today. Thus, despite the fact that Assamese language is not a majority language in the state, there is preponderance of the Assamese language and culture with voluntary concurrence and cooperation of Bengali Muslims alone.

Assamese language is a newly evolved offshoot of rich Bangla itself with the minor changes in the script and pronunciation and keeping intact the original Bangla vocabulary.

Bengalese residing in the lower and central regions of Assam in districts like – Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup, Darrang, Udalguri, Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Morigaon and Nagaon have converted their official mother tongue to Assamese, thus making the language spoken by the majority in one of the states of India after independence only.

Assamese language became an official language of the state through the Assam Official Language Act, in 1960 only. (Published in the Assam Gazette, Extraordinary, dated the 19th December, 1960)

Bangla Language Movement of Assam

The Bengalese of Barak Valley – both Hindus and Muslims set off a language movement (Second Bangla Bhasha Andolan) demanding due recognition of Assam’s former official Bangla language and their mother tongue following the Assam Legislative Assembly’s introduction of a bill to make Assamese the only official language of the state in early 1960.

The movement reached its climax in 1961 when the Assam Government, under the then chief minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha, issued a circular to make Assamese mandatory, in all parts of Assam to which Bengalese of Barak Valley strongly objected.

On 19th May, 1961, Assam Police opened fire on unarmed protesters at Silchar Railway Station in Cachar district where 11 youth were killed and many more wounded. Coming under intense pressure following the bloodbath in Silchar and ensuing popular revolt, the Government of Assam withdrew the circular. And later through a separate legislation Bengali was given an official status in the three districts – Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi of Barak Valley.

The issue of Bangla language came to the forefront once again when Gauhati University sought to introduce Assamese as the only medium of instruction at University level. This led to another mass movement at Barak Valley which saw similar repression and killing. Two youths in Karimganj were killed by police on 21 July 1986, many suffered jail confinement while many more were injured and rendered incapacitated.

An Eye-opener for the Cultural Chauvinist

Going by the present demographic condition in Assam, out of total 27 districts of the state only six districts of upper Assam – Golaghat, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia can be counted as culturally Assamese populous region with a special note, however, that the tea-tribe people who have their own Hindi or Bhojpuri language and culture live in these areas too.

In at least nine districts – Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon and Nagaon Bengalis form the majority. Four more – Karbi Anglong, N.C. Hills, Kokrajhar and Baksa have different tribal cultures and languages of their own. The remaining eight districts – Nalbari, Kamrup city, Kamrup rural, Darrang, Sonitpur, Dhemaji, Udalguri and Chirag have mixed population of Assamese, Bengalese, tribals and tea labourers.

With the aforementioned details, the obvious conclusion of this linguistic and cultural debate in Assam should be that the Bengalis in Assam are losing their age-old and rich linguistic and cultural grip in the state to newly evolved Assamese language and culture with the voluntary conversion of some Bengalis living in lower and central parts of the state, and not the visa versa at all.

Nonetheless, because of the undue stress on the ‘identity crisis’ of Assamese by some politically astray and chauvinistic youth, the voluntary and natural process of different tribals and Bengalese assimilation into Assamese language and culture in post-independence India has got a big jolt. It rather became counter productive.

Different linguistic, ethnic and cultural groups living in the state are fighting to save their own identities. This not only has disturbed the natural progress and growth of the state along with its language and culture but also endangered the state’s own unity, sovereignty and multicultural fabric.

The north-eastern states of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram have fought and got separate statehood primarily on the issue of cultural identity. On 20 February 1987 Mizoram got the formal recognition as the last independent state that was broken away from Assam by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Thanks to the lingual and cultural chauvinism; in the name of saving the ‘indigenous identity’ it is helping the mushrooming of new independent state seekers. At least three more regions – Bodo Autonomous Council, North Cachar Autonomous Council and Karbi Anglong are now following militant ways for their independent statehood to break away from Assam.

I am afraid, if things continue like this, Bengalis of the Barak Valley may seek their separate state to save their culture and language. Then Bengalis living in the lower Assam may follow their democratic right of living by using their own language and culture rather than becoming unwanted members of an Assamese culture? And then present Assam will be reduced into Ahom once again!

**M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is editor of Eastern Crescent magazine and director of Mumbai based Markazul Ma’arif Education & Research Centre. He can be contacted at manager@markazulmaarif.org

AMSU Too in ‘Migrants Leave Manipur’ Chorus

April 28, 2010

Manipur-Imphal Imphal, Apr 28 : Following the expression of support by some proscribed underground organizations of Manipur to the public announcement by the Revolutionary People’s Front that all migrant workers who had come to the State after 1949 should leave by May 31, the All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) has joined the chorus saying it is for the preservation of the distinctive character of the indigenous people.

The union reminded the people that it had been demanding the deportation of the foreigners since 1980. Two students had been killed during the agitations. The AMSU said it launched the ‘migrants leave’ campaign on April 17, 2007 and added that the drive shall continue.

Ibobi : No Eviction

In a delayed reaction to the orchestrated demand for the expulsion of the migrant workers, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, also in charge of Home, said that the government shall not remain a mute spectator if non-local workers were forcibly evicted from Manipur.

The drive amounted to disintegration of the country, he said. Meanwhile some representatives of the migrant workers submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention.

Manipur Sugar Diverted to Assam

April 28, 2010

FCI diverts Manipur State’s sugar

sugar Imphal, Apr 28 : Despite the fact that Nagaland police have been providing security escort to all goods laden trucks bound for Imphal till Mao Gate with the State police taking over form there, the Food Corporation of India, Dimapur, under the pretext of the ongoing economic blockade on NH-39 has diverted 22,000 quintals of sugar to Tinsukia, Assam.

Disclosing this to The Sangai Express an official source from the Consumers Affair, Food and Public Distribution said that the State’s share of 22,000 quintal of sugar stocked at the FCI godown in Dimapur was diverted to Tinsukia on April 20.It takes about 220 trucks to ferry 22,000 quintals of sugar.
The IG (Armed Police and Operations) of Manipur had earlier intimated to the FCI Department that security escorts are provided three days in a week to goods laden trucks.

Nagaland police escort the vehicles from Khatkhatti till Mao Gate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the State police taking over the security aspects from there, said the source further.

The report of diverting the State’s share of sugar to Tinsukia was conveyed to the State Government by the General Manager of FCI (Nagaland and Manipur), MK Gogoi.

The General Manager contended that no official report was sent to his office that the Government of Manipur would provide adequate security to escort the goods laden vehicles and hence it was diverted to Tinsukia.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the FCS Minister of Manipur, Y Erabot has written to the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Sharad Pawar about the diversion of the State’s share of sugar to Tinsukia, said the source.

Pointing out that Manipur perennially facers shortage of sugar due to the inaction of the FCI, Erabot informed Pawar that it is the duty of the FCI to transport all PDS items to the FCS godown of the State at Sangaiprou.

Commissioner of the State Consumers Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, P Vaiphei has also written to the General Manager of the FCI, Dimapur, yesterday.

In the message, Vaiphei made it clear that the State’s share belongs to Manipur and it should not be diverted to any other place, said the source.
The Commissioner also made it clear that the State Government has taken a serious view of the matter while urging the FCI authority to faithfully deliver the State’s quota to the FCS godown here.

[ via The Sangai Express ]

CBI Yet to Start Probe Into NC Hills Scam

April 28, 2010

cbi Sinlung Says:
This are the angles of allegation which CBI should pursue, how much money was paid off for the renaming of NC Hills district using the scammed monies? Which Cachar Minister was involved in the payoff in the renaming of the district? Which bureaucrat and officials in the Central government were involved in kick-offs?
Our RTI will follow next….

By R Dutta Choudhury

Guwahati, Apr 28 : Though Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced the Government’s decision to hand over the case of misappropriation of huge amount of funds in the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after a hue and cry was raised in the State on the issue, investigation by the Central agency is yet to start. Interestingly, most of the organizations which launched movements demanding a CBI probe into the scam in NC Hills are also keeping quiet over the issue.

Official sources told The Assam Tribune that the case is yet to be formally handed over to the Central investigating agency and till date no one is sure as to when the probe by the CBI would start to ensure action against those involved in the financial irregularities. Sources pointed out that normally the State Governments approach the Centre seeking probes by the CBI, but in this particular case the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) wrote to the State Government advising it to go for a CBI probe, following which the State wrote to the Centre. But instead of directly asking for a CBI probe, the buck was virtually passed to the Centre.

In fact the Chief Minister , at one point of time was on record saying that there was no need for a CBI probe even after the National Investigating Agency (NIA), which probed into a case relating to politician-militant nexus in NC Hills, recommended a probe under the Prevention of Corruption Act into the misappropriation of funds by public servants in NC Hills. But the MHA wrote to the State Government on February 22 advising it to recommend a CBI probe. The MHA letter clearly stated that the letter was written with the approval of the Home Minister.

After receiving the letter and following a meeting with the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Gogoi announced in New Delhi that the State Government would go for a CBI probe into the scam and the State Government wrote a letter to the Centre in this regard on March 2.

In the letter the State Government said that during the investigation by the NIA it came to light that public servants in NC Hills were involved in misappropriation of funds, while the MHA also advised it to go for a CBI probe. “In view of the above and careful consideration of the matter, the State Government has decided to refer the matter to the Government of India for investigation of the matter of misappropriation of government funds by public servants of NC Hills and to take action as per law,” the letter said. However, official sources pointed out that instead of directly asking for a CBI probe, the State Government virtually passed the buck to the Centre.

Meanwhile, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), which launched a movement demanding a CBI probe into the scam, said that it would be forced to resume the movement if the case is not handed over to the Central agency immediately.

AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said, “the Chief Minister, after a discussion with the Union Home Minister assured that the case would be handed over to the CBI. Now he should make public whether the CBI has started investigation into the case. If the CBI has not taken over the case as yet, the Chief Minister should make clear the reasons for the delay.” He said that huge amounts of public funds were siphoned off in NC Hills and the State and Central Governments must institute a thorough probe into the same to take action against those responsible. He warned that the AASU would be forced to launch a fresh movement if immediate action is not taken against those responsible.

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) also met the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister demanding a CBI probe and party spokesman Atul Bora said that the delay in launching of a probe raised doubts on whether the Government has something to hide. He said that the issue would be discussed in the party forum soon to chalk out a future course of action.

[ News via Assam Tribune ]

ADB Funded Aizawl Project Will Take Off Soon

April 27, 2010

adb Aizawl, Apr 27 : The Asia Development Bank-funded infrastructure development in Aizawl will take off soon as ADB inception mission team arrived here today.

The team, comprising Shigehiko Muramoto, PAU head, ADB’s South Asian urban development division and Febe Valencia Bebedel, ADB’s assistant project analyst, will meet the state finance commissioner, UD&PA secretary, planning advisor and project director of State Investment Programme Management and Implementation Unit (SIPMIU).

A tripartite loan agreement in this regard had been signed between Mizoram government, the Union government and the ADB in New Delhi on August four, 2009 to enable sanctioning of ADB loan under the North Eastern Region Capital Cities Development Investment Programme (NERCCDIP) to the state.

Officials here said the first tranche of the project had been readied for execution with M/s Gherzi Eastern India, New Delhi having been awarded the contract.

About Rs 330 crore has been allocated for Aizawl, of which Rs 26 crore is expected in the first tranche to address water supply infrastructure.

”Supply and installation of chlorinator supply is expected to complete at the cost of Rs 40 lakh in August this year. Meanwhile, the tender for supply and installation of water metre is being evaluated,” an official source said.

The first tranche of the project includes renovation of all PS tanks in the city and construction of two chowkidar quarters and a site office.

Currently, SIPMIU is carrying out a survey for second tranche of the project that includes renovation of water distribution line, sewerage system and waste disposal system.

The ADB has provided upto 200 million dollar to improve infrastructure in five state capital cities of Northeast, the first time it has extended large scale assistance for urban sector development in one of the country’s most underdeveloped regions.

The North Eastern Region Capital Cities Development Investment Program will upgrade basic infrastructure, such as water supply and sanitation in the state capitals of Shillong (Meghalaya), Aizawl (Mizoram), Kohima (Nagaland), Gangtok (Sikkim) and Agartala (Tripura), benefiting an estimated 1.2 million people.

The loan facility from ADB’s ordinary capital resources will be made available in three or more tranches over the duration of the program implementation from 2009 to 2015.

The Government of India and state governments will provide an additional 85.7 million dollar equivalent for a total estimated program cost of 285.7 million dollar, sources said.

Indian Govt. Releases Rs. 22.50 crore For Anti-terrorism Schools

April 27, 2010

Counter Insurgency and Anti-terrorism School New Delhi, Apr 27 : The Union Government has released 22.50 crore rupees for establishment of Counter Insurgency and Anti-terrorism Schools (CIAT) Schools in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, said: “During the 11th Plan period a scheme was approved for setting up of 20 Counter Insurgency and Anti-terrorism Schools (CIAT) four each in the States of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa,

So far, the Govt. of India has released Rs. 4.5 crore to each of these States for establishment of three CIAT Schools in each of the State.”

The minister informed that the funds released in the last three years are as: 2007-08 (Nil), 2008-09 (Rs. 12 Crore), 2009-10 (Rs. 10.50 Crore).

“In total Rs. 22.50 crore has been released for establishment of 15 CIAT Schools,” Mr. Maken said.

“So far, 226 police personnel have been trained and 224 personnel are undergoing training in one CIAT school at Chandka, Orissa,” he further stated in his written reply.

Veterans Remember Comrades Who Fell in Epic WW2 Battle

April 27, 2010

ww2 Veterans of one of the most vital and hard-fought battles of the Second World War remembered their comrades who never returned today.

The battle of Kohima effectively ended the Japanese plan to invade India and was describe by Earl Mountbatten as “probably one of the greatest battles in history”.

Kohima is a hill town in Nagaland, 5,000 ft above sea level in the middle of the Naga Hills, and between April 4 and June 22, 1944, Allied forces brought the Japanese hordes to a halt.

Despite being hampered by monsoon rain and treacherous terrain, they succeeded in taking Kohima during hand-to-hand fighting that famously culminated on the District Commissioner’s tennis court.

But victory came at a horrifying cost in men’s lives – more than 4,000 British and Indian soldiers died together with nearly twice as many Japanese troops.

Today remaining survivors that could make the journey, many in their 90s, held their annual memorial service and wreath-laying at York Minster and at the Kohima Memorial in the Minster Gardens.

Those that fell in the battle 66 years ago were remembered by a minute’s silence and a bugler from the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band sounded the Last Post and Reveille.

The service was conducted by the Reverend Peter Eagles, the Assistant Chaplain General of the 2 Division. Readings were given by the commanding officer of 2 Signal Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Knott and Regimental Sergeant Major Alastair Combe.

[ via thenorthernecho ]