Monday, July 26, 2010

Protest against bomb threat staged at Sagolband

Imphal July 25: With no heed to the people hue and cry against bomb threats for extortion, a hand grenade was deposited today at Modern Auto and Steel Industries at Sagolband Tera Akham Leikai under Lamphel police station in Imphal west district.Denouncing the bomb threat, residents of the area, mostly womenfolk carried out by sit-in protest at the locality.The hand grenade was deposited at the Modern Auto and Steel Industries at Sagolband Tera Akham Leikai in the early morning today. A team of Imphal West Police Commandos later defused the China make hand grenade with no explosive material in it and taken into their custody.Decrying the act of threatening to the people with bomb, around 100 residents of the locality, mostly womenfolk, staged a sit-in protest starting from 10 am till 4 pm. They demanded not to cause panic to the people with bomb.Protestors related the deposition of the bomb to the industry unit with a woman who came and asked the price iron almirahs produced there on July 23 last.The woman later taken away a contact number saying that any of the products display there is of her choice and she wanted to come again when new designs are ready and before leaving she handed over a demand letter of the KCP (MC) – Lanheiba group to the men at the industry.They group is demanding Rs 30 lakh from the proprietor of the industry, Laiphrakpam Babuchand of Sagolband Tera Akham Leikai. The letter while demanding to pay the amount by 10 am of July 24 also threatened to close the industry in case the proprietor failed to meet the same. After then, the bomb was deposited at the industry, they added.

‘Dry’ Mizoram to produce wine after 13 years

AIZAWL – After 13 years of prohibition, grape cultivators in Mizoram are expected to produce quality wine by September this year.To pave the way for the manufacture of wine, the stringent dry law in force since February 20, 1997 was relaxed by an amendment made in the Prohibition Act, April 2007, allowing upto 16 per cent of alcohol in it.Managing Director of the Grape Growers Society Vanlalruata Chenkual said that wine-making would be monitored by experts from wine major Shaw Wallace.The wine to be manufactured in the two wineries at Hnahlan and Champhai, he said, would contain 14 per cent of alcohol volume by volume.The wine to be made from Lubrusca variety of grape also known as Bangalore Blue would have a brand name of ‘Zawlaidi’ meaning love potion in the Mizo language.He said that the fermentation of the grapes in the two wineries would begin on July 16 and Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) imported from Uttar Pradesh would be used to neutralise the sour taste of the grapes.“We expect that we will be able to produce at least one lakh 750 ml bottles of premium grape wine this year, he said, adding that they would only be sold in Mizoram.In Hnahlan village 80 per cent of the total population of 670 families were engaged in producing grapes and 325 in Champhai area.“To make the wine competitive and conform to international standards, experts from Shaw Wallace would train and guide the local wine makers,” Samuel Rosanglura, the State Horticulture director said.The price of a bottle of ‘Zawlaidi’ was yet to be determined as it was still not yet decided how much the State Excise and Narcotics department would levy excise duty, he said.“We are appealing to the State Government to give exemption on excise duty as the wine is to be made from horticulture produce,” he said.He said that it would be a good incentive for the grape growers if the government arranged a tax holiday for a few years at least. – PTI

Manipur for special court on economic blockades

Manipur legislators have unanimously resolved to form a House Committee to set up a special court that deals exclusively with bandhs and economic blockades. The House Committee includes Th Debendra, minister of law and legislative affairs, Radhabinod Koijam, Opposition leader and state NCP president, O Joy of Manipur Peoples' Party, RK Anand, L Nandakumar, Kh Loken and Kh Ratankumar.Alarmed by the trend of numerous civil organisations resorting to economic blockades and bandhs as weapons in Manipur, the State Assembly on Saturday found it necessary to formulate legislation in consultation with legal experts. A report in this regard will be submitted within two months.Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh had on July 8 disclosed in the Assembly that Manipur state experienced at least 524 bandhs and 104 economic blockades in the last 15 years (1995-2010). Ibobi also revealed that Manipur loses Rs 5-6 crore per day due to bandhs and Rs 2-3 crore per day due to national highways blockade.Manipur is yet to shrug off the hangover induced by the 69-day blockade of national highways 39 and 53 that the All Naga Students' Association Manipur had imposed from April 11.Most of the filling stations or fuel depots are yet to function normally. Whenever some of them open, one has to queue up for several hours to get rationed petrol and diesel.On the brighter side, the rate of fuel in the black market has dropped by 60-70 per cent from a high of Rs 200 per litre of petrol and Rs 150 per litre of diesel.

Frequent flight cancellations trouble Mizoram

Frequent cancellation of flights is leaving many air travelers in Mizoram grounded. More than the inclement weather, the absence of instrument landing system (ILS) in the state's lone airport is the problem. The ILS was installed a couple of years ago, but the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has not yet approved its commissioning. Reason: Lengpui, Mizoram's lone airport, is yet to meet some civil aviation technical rules. At least 25 flights in and out of Lengpui – this table-top airport is 40 km from State capital Aizawl – were cancelled in May and June this year. Besides, many flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati were delayed for a total of 150 hours. Air travel is the only 'fast' option for Mizos to visit other parts of the country. The alternative is an uncertain, circuitous road trip on National Highway 54. The highway connects Guwahati – it is Northeast India's communication hub – through southern Assam and Meghalaya. This highway is prone to landslides during the monsoon months. According to Lengpui Airport officials, the problem for air travelers has been compounded by the DGCA's inaction. The airport handles four flights every day besides a need-based small aircraft operated by a regional service provider. "The ILS will ensure landing even when the visibility is 1,500 metres. Consequently, no flight will be cancelled," said an official on condition of anonymity. "The visibility at Lengpui never goes down below 2,500 metres, however bad the weather," he added. As of now, an Airbus can land with visibility of 5,000 metres while the smaller ATR-42 needs 3,500 metres. Lengpui Airport is included among the 11 critical airports in India due to the geographical location. To ensure flights take off and land here even in bad weather, the airport authorities spent Rs 1.68 crore to install the ILS. To meet the technical rules as specified by DGCA, the top of the hills around the airport may have to be shaved off. This, airport officials say, is next to impossible. The airport's runway was renovated a few weeks ago for Rs. 14.9 crore. Plans are also afoot to upgrade the runway for which Rs 55 crores has been sought from the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region.

100-day countdown to Sharmila 'fasting decade' begins

Exactly 100 days from completing 10 years of fasting, Irom Sharmila Chanu has renewed her demand for the repeal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1958. Sharmila, 40, is the face of anti-AFSPA protest in the Northeast. She began her hunger strike on 2 November 2000 after Assam Rifles personnel gunned down 10 civilians in an "encounter" at Malom on the outskirts of Manipur capital Imphal. "I will fast for another 10 years if this draconian Act is not lifted from Manipur," said Sharmila after the Imphal-based Just Peace Foundation kicked off its "100-day countdown" campaign on Sunday. Sharmila is set to complete her 10 years of fast-unto-death agitation on November 1. Ever since she began her fast, Sharmila has been in and out of a security ward in Imphal's Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital. Arrested occasionally on charges of attempting to commit suicide, she is being nose-fed with liquid diet. Among those who launched the countdown were Babloo Loitangbam of Human Rights Alert and noted Manipuri filmmaker Aribam Syham Sharma.