Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Updates (December 7, 2010)

1) Rail connectivity: Linky

The jinxed Lumding-Badarpur broad gauge railway track is expected to reach Agartala by 2013, while the ongoing track laying work up to Sabroom, Tripura’s southernmost town bordering Bangladesh, will be completed by 2014. Announcing this during an interaction with reporters, the general manager of Northeast Frontier Railway, Keshav Chandra, said the broad gauge track-laying work between Lumding and Badarpur was making rapid progress and would be completed soon. He said by 2013, the broad gauge railway line would be extended up to Agartala.
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Though official sources in the NF Railway here described the general manager’s visit as the head of officials as “routine visit”, state government officials here said Chandra had come to personally take stock of the situation at the ground level following frequent complaints over the quality of service provided by the railway in Tripura.

Tribune adds more on the history: Linky

Realising the communication difficulties in Barak Valley, Tripura and Mizoram as well as Manipur, the then Railway Minister Ramvilas Paswan laid the foundation stone of Silchar-Lumding BG in 1998. Former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav declared it as a national project and said that it would be completed by 2009. But the construction work has now been suspended due to extremists attack in NC Hills. This railway line is regarded as the lifeline of supply for not only Barak Valley but also Tripura and Mizoram, the Shuruwat memo said.

2) Transit fees: Linky

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday said an official exercise is in progress to set the tariff for the overland transit facilities to India under a deal signed to carry over dimensional consignments (ODC) for a power project at Palatana in Tripura through Bangladesh. “Although the rates are fixed for the existing protocol for river transit with India, now we will have to set the amount of fees for the new deal," she said when asked if Bangladesh allowed transit to India without any fees or charge.

3) India-BD border survey: Linky

The Co-ordination Committee on International Border — a pressure group comprising several NGOs engaged in finding a solution to the border dispute with Bangladesh — yesterday criticised home minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh for the government’s failure to include it during the inspection and survey of the border areas by the India-Bangladesh JBWG. The committee comprises the Khasi Students’ Union, Federation of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo People, Hynniewtrep National Youth Front, Synjuk ki Seng Samla Shnong and the Federation of War Mihngi and War Jaintia, a conglomerate of landowners and heads of villages along the India-Bangladesh border. The committee said Lyngdoh expressed his inability to do anything since the issue falls under the purview of the revenue department.

4) Mobile connectivity along the border area: Linky

State-run service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is improving its network on the Indo-Bangla border by setting up towers and common service centres, which would be unusable from across the neighbouring country. “Three operators – Aircel, Reliance and BSNL – have been assigned to execute connectivity to enable support for mobile services and broadband connectivity in rural and border areas of the three States of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura”, Chief General Manager (CGM) North East, Telecom Circle-1 Rajesh Gupta said. “We have erected four towers in border areas of Meghalaya at Tikrikilla, Rongjam, Mawsynram and Baghmara,” Gupta said at a media briefing here yesterday.
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The CGM said the BSNL began the process of erecting BTS Towers near the borders after the Centre relaxed its directive of setting up towers from 10 km to 500 metres from the border. “Earlier, there was a restriction by the Union Home Ministry to set up towers within 10 km from the international border. Now the restriction has been reduced to 500m. The new towers will be erected shortly,” he said.

5) Dato Seri Sami Velu quits, finally: Linky

Samy Vellu on Monday stepped down as president of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) after 31 years at the helm. MIC sources told The Hindu the party's central working committee appointed G. Palanivel (61), until now deputy president, as successor to the 74-year-old Mr. Samy Vellu. Malaysia's Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam was given the mantle of MIC deputy president. Mr. Palanivel is Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities. Devamany, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, was appointed the party's new vice-president (1).

6) Regrouping of the Kachin rebels: Linky

Many observers believe it is only a matter of time before war breaks out between the KIO and the Burmese armed forces. Tensions between the KIO and the Burmese Army have increased significantly since mid-October when the regime’s official newspaper the New Light of Myanmar used the term “insurgent” to describe the KIO. Normally the regime only uses insurgent to describe rebel groups such as the Karen National Union that have refused to sign an official ceasefire agreement. This was the first time since the ceasefire began in 1994 the KIO had been so labelled by the Burmese regime.
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The KIO and its KIA armed wing were established in the Kachin-inhabited area of Shan State in February 1961 in response to Kachin grievances with Burma’s central government then led by the mercurial Prime Minister U Nu. Overwhelmingly Christian, many Kachin were infuriated by U Nu’s declaration during the April 1960 election that if elected, he would make Buddhism the state religion, a promise he fulfilled in August 1961.

The Kachin were also angered that the Burmese government had never implemented a pre-independence agreement brokered by General Aung San, father of the recently released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with representatives of Kachin, Shan and Chin ethnic groups that outlined the autonomy of those living in Burma’s ethnic “frontier areas”. The February 1947 Panglong Agreement was an important precursor for Aung San’s goal of Burma’s full independence from Britain. Clause 5 of the deal gave the ethnic groups represented the right to local self-government and declared that Burma’s central government “will not operate in respect of the Frontier Areas in any manner which would deprive any portion of these areas of the autonomy which it now enjoys in internal administration. Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas is accepted in principle”. U Nu, who took over the reins of Aung San’s Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League party following the latter’s assassination in July 1947, did little to actually implement the Panglong compact after Burma received independence in January 1948. His failure to live up to the promise of Panglong left the Kachin and other ethnic minorities in Burma feeling betrayed.

7) Baburam Bhattarai interview: Linky

To make the constitution on time and to implement the Comprehensive Peace Accord it is important to mobilise the masses. Unless there is pressure from the people, the old parliamentary forces will not go for a progressive constitution and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord.

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