Saturday, April 17, 2010

Planters adopt new mantra - Expert aid sought to ensure tea quality

Guwahati, April 16: Local planters of Assam are seeking expert advice as part of a new strategy to produce quality tea and meet the requirements of the international market.In their bid to rub shoulders with global competitors, the planters have adopted a few new steps like having regular interactions with experts, exchanging views, besides seeking help from colleagues, among others.The move also comes in the wake of Dispur’s decision in December last year to de-register tea factories that failed to produce quality tea from this year.The industry department, through a communiqué last year, had conveyed that tea factories that did not perform well for more than eight months were likely to face de-registration. Industry minister Pradyut Bordoloi had said that the performance of a factory would be assessed on the basis of the price the tea fetched at the auctions.“We have to produce quality tea to keep the glory of Assam tea intact. And for that we need to get together and seek help from experts, otherwise it would be very difficult to survive in the international market,” Abhijit Sharma, chairman of Assam Tea Planters’ Association (ATPA), the apex body of indigenous planters of the state, told The Telegraph today.The association has nearly 180 member gardens that produce about 50m kg of tea annually. With Assam tea, having a good demand across the globe for its strong liquor, the planters were sitting pretty. However, with countries like Sri Lanka and Kenya coming up in a big way in tea production, the demand for Assam tea dwindled.This, according to experts, was because of the fact that the state’s planters concentrated more on quantity than on quality of tea .“Planters cannot afford producing medium category tea at this crucial juncture,” Sharma said.The association, for the first time, is organising a seminar on April 30 in Jorhat, where experts from Indian Institute of Plantation Management, will interact with the planters and provide help to produce quality tea.“We will continue to hold such interactions at regular intervals,” the chairman said.Sharma said that that these steps were necessary at this hour as Assam tea had fetched good prices in the last couple of years after over a decade-long crisis.“We cannot afford to commit past mistakes by compromising on quality,” he said.Sharma said the member gardens were being requested to seriously consider stopping manufacture of tea from the first week of December to March as tea produced from leaves plucked during the winter season lacked quality.“We are also advising our member gardens to go for artificial irrigation since we can no longer depend on rain during the peak production season,” he said.The chairman said that a few ATPA member gardens had been doing well of late.Halmari, Deha, Madhupur, Banamali, Oating, Dulojan, Muktabari and Lohpohia are a few ATPA gardens, which have fetched good prices at the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre in the last couple of years.“A few of our gardens had also topped the price list at the GTAC last year,” he said.

Celina Jaitley inaugurates international gay lesbian film festival in Mumbai

Mumbai, Apr 16 (ANI): Bollywood actor Celina Jaitley inaugurated the Queer Film Festival here on Thursday.The first GLBTQ (Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgedered-Queer) festival will be held at Juhu’s PVR theatre and Alliance Franchise auditorium in Marine Lines area from April 22 to 25.The film festival will feature 110 films from over 25 countries.Jaitley said that the films showcased depict the depth of human emotions.“Well, I only want to say this that these films are also attached to human emotions. You will get to see films not only from India but from abroad, also. I want to invite all of you and witness what human emotions and these movies are all about,” said Jaitley.“This festival is essentially related to gay and lesbian themes. It is all about people like you and me but it is just that their private lives are different; they are also human beings like all of us. It is really an emphasis on human emotions and relations which all films of the world are connected with,” said Meenakshi Shedde, a film critic and jury member of the Queer Film Festival. (ANI)

NASA’s satellite images show Icelandic volcanic ash moving into Germany

LONDON - Images taken by NASA’s scientific research satellite have revealed that Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano ash clouds are now moving into Germany.NASA’s Terra satellite flew over the volcano on Friday and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS instrument aboard Terra captured a visible image of Eyjafjallajokull’s ash plume over England and the Netherlands, stretching into Germany.Meanwhile, the ban on flights in British airspace has been extended until at least 7p.m. due to the threat posed by the volcanic ash.Restrictions have also been reapplied to Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool airports, having briefly been lifted.A Texas University researcher, who has explored Icelandic volcanoes for the past 25 years, said that if history is any indication, the erupting volcano and its immense ash plume could intensify.Jay Miller, a research scientist in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program who has made numerous trips to the region and studied there, said the ash produced from Icelandic volcanoes can be a real killer.“What happens is that the magma from the volcano is around 1,200 degrees and it hits the water there, which is near freezing. What is produced is a fine ash that actually has small pieces of glass in it, and it can very easily clog up a jet engine. If you were to inhale that ash, it would literally tear up your lungs,” Miller said. (ANI)

Ibobi vows to protect migrants

Imphal, April 13: Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today reacted strongly to the quit notice issued by the militant Revolutionary Peoples Front (RPF) to all non-Manipuris living in the state. The outfit had issued a statement last month asking all non-Manipuris who had come to Manipur after 1949 to leave the state by May 31. In the statement, it said that taking away of jobs by the non-Manipuris had resulted in discontentment among the local people, while use of migrant labourers as “agents” by the security forces had resulted in violence against them. Ibobi Singh said the government would not tolerate such designs. “We all are Indians. We will not remain silent to the quit notice issued by the militants. We will do whatever we can for their protection,” the chief minister said at the launch of a series of development projects in Churachandpur district today. This is for the first time that Ibobi Singh has reacted to the RPF’s quit notice. “If we drive them (non-Manipuris) out, imagine what will happen to all those Manipuris studying or living in other cities like Delhi. We should also think about them,” Ibobi Singh said. The quit notice by the militant group has sparked a fear psychosis among the non-Manipuris. The outfit has also asked landlords and shopowners not to accommodate non-Manipuris after the deadline. In an attempt to reassure the non-Manipuris, the chief minister said he would allot construction work of the mini-secretariat at the district headquarters of Churachandpur to an outside firm and migrants would be involved in it. Ibobi Singh laid the foundation of the mini secretariat building today. On the objections raised by various tribal bodies to elections to six autonomous district councils (ADCs), the chief minister said the poll would benefit the tribal people in the hills. He said the government had enough funds for the district councils and with it the latter could take up various development projects in the hills. An official source said that the 13th Finance Commission had provided a sum of Rs 51 crore for the district councils and local bodies in the valley. The state government is planning to hold the elections next month. Ibobi Singh also opened a radio station for Churachandpur and laid the foundation of a sports complex and an FCI godown.

Eye on snatcher brigade - Cops step up vigil as Bihu lures criminals from Bengal to Assam

Guwahati, April 13: Rongali Bihu — the biggest festival of Assam — has also brought a band of snatchers from North Bengal, giving police many a sleepless night. Given the influx of these criminals ahead of the festive season, incidents of chain snatching have gone up in the state capital with city police sounding a general alert directing all police stations and mobile patrols to step up vigil. Senior superintendent of police (city) Pradip Chandra Saloi said criminal elements from North Bengal and a few from Bihar were involved in the recent cases of snatchings in the city. “We are trying our best to curb such incidents by stepping up patrolling,” he said. Saloi said as a preventive measure, the officers-in-charge of police stations had been asked to draw up a list of persons who were arrested in the past for their involvement in such incidents and keep track of them. “The officers were also directed to carry out investigations into the snatching cases expeditiously and nab the culprits,” he said. Another police official, requesting anonymity, said a general alert had been issued today directing all the police stations and patrol vans to keep vigil to foil any such incident during Bihu. “The alert has been issued as these criminals may try to commit crimes during the festival. They usually target women wearing jewellery,” he said. Two motorcycle-borne goons had snatched a gold chain from a schoolteacher, Poly Borthakur, in broad daylight in the Bora Service area around 2.30pm yesterday. The police source said that involvement of criminals from north Bengal in the snatching cases has been established with the recent arrest of two such crimi- nals from Diphu in Karbi Anglong. They have been identified as Samir Roy, 22, and Vijendra Singh, 36, both hailing from Cooch Behar. “During interrogation, the duo confessed to their involvement in snatching cases in the city. They were brought to the city in connection with a Bharalumukh police station case last Sunday and were remanded in five days’ police custody after they were produced in the court yesterday,” the source said. The duo were allegedly involved in snatching a bag containing cash Rs 19.70 lakh from a businessman, Shiv Shankar Agarwal, in front of his hardware store at Athgaon here on February 22. The source said the two had also confessed that some members of their gang were still on the prowl in the city. He said that since Bihu was a time to splurge, snatchers and petty criminals gain ground during the season. “The run-up to the festive season also brings transactions worth several crores of rupees to the business hubs, which also attracts criminals from the neighbouring states. These criminals usually put up at rented accommodations in shanties and carry out their operations from there,” the source added.

Prabhakarn's mother arrives, deported to Malaysia

Chennai, Apr 16 (PTI) Slain LTTE chief V Prabhakaran's ailing mother, Parvati, who arrived tonight from Malaysia was deported immediately as the Central government did not give permission for her stay in India, police said here.Parvati, who was supposed to get admitted to a hospital here, arrived from Kuala Lumpur but policemen did not permit her to alight from the aircraft, officials said.Elaborate security arrangements were made and suburban police commissioner, Jahangir, was himself present to oversee matters as there was a crowd of over 150 persons including MDMK general secretary Vaiko and Tamil nationalist movement leader P Neduraman, both vocal supporters of the proscribed LTTE, at the airport.On May 18, 2009, the Sri Lankan government announced Prabhakaran had been killed while trying to escape advancing army troops in the north of the country and said his parents were found inside a camp for displaced people.

Rs 5 lakh ex gratia to jawan killed in Dantewada

Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 16 (PTI) The Kerala government today announced Rs five lakh as ex gratia for the next of kin of a CRPF jawan from Ernakulam district who was killed in Maoist attack in Dantewada.The decision to award compensation to K Rajesh's family was announced by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan after a state cabinet meeting.Rajesh was the only Malayali among the 75 CRPF personnel killed in the Dantewada massacre in Chhattisgarh on April 6.

Rooney is not moving to Real Madrid: Ferguson

London, Apr 16 (ANI): Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that his ace striker Wayne Rooney is not moving to Real Madrid and will be at Old Trafford.Rooney is prime target of Real Madrid this summer and is due to open talks over a new deal at United at the end of the season, with the club keen to replace the final two years of his existing contract, The Telegraph reports.Ferguson said that Real had no chance of prising Rooney from United. "It''s the silly season. It always happens at this time of the season, but Wayne Rooney will be here next year."Rooney returned to training on Thursday after a struggling with an ankle injury since limping out of the Champions League exit against Bayern Munich last week.Ferguson said that he is yet to make a decision on his availability for tomorrow''s game against Manchester City."Wayne has done some work for a couple of days now, but we will wait and see how he is before tomorrow''s game."Ryan and Rio are a bit behind Wayne with their work, though, because they were injured in the game a Blackburn on Sunday. They did some jogging on Thursday, but we will need to see how they progress," Ferguson said. (ANI)

SMS back in Kashmir, DoT withdraws its order

New Delhi, Apr 16 (ANI): The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Friday evening decided to withdraw its order imposing restrictions on SMS services in Jammu and Kashmir.In a statement issued here, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology stated : “The press release issued earlier during the day by PIB on the subject, “DoT ISSUES DIRECTIVES TO UAS/CMTS SERVICE PROVIDERS IN J and K”, therefore, stands withdrawn.”Earlier in the day, the DoT banned short message service (SMS) for post-paid subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir with effect from Friday midnight.The DoT’s decision left only prepaid customers to enjoy the SMS facility.The Government’s decision came in the backdrop of increased security concerns.The DoT had asked all the 12 operators including the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL),Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar, to withdraw text message service from their postpaid users in the State. "In case of existing post-paid users, the service should be withdrawn immediately," a statement from DoT said.In case of prepaid subscribers, the facility has been restricted to 10 SMSes per day per subscriber."SMS messages originated outside J and K service area in India and from the networks of International Long Distance (ILD) operators should not be delivered to mobile subscribers in J and K service area," the statement said.The DoT had also asked all operators to immediately stop tariff packages offering free SMS service. (ANI)