Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dimapur brick kiln explosion toll increases to 8


The death toll of Thursday’s brick kiln chimney blast near Dimapur has increased to eight with the death of three more victims succumbing to their fatal injuries on Friday. The incident occurred when the upper conical portion of the brick kiln chimney fell on the people gathered near it to witness first time ignition of the kiln at L Hotovi Village near Dimapur.
This is the Star Brick factory at L Hotovi Village near Ekranipathar in Dimapur where at least eight people, all labourers were killed on Thursday. These people were killed after a chimney of the brick kiln collapsed due to an explosion in the kiln. The collapsed portion of the chimney, belongings of the injured and killed in the explosion are still lying at the site a day after the tragedy struck the village. At least eight Labourers mostly immigrants employed in the Star brick kiln and also from the nearby brick kilns gathered near the chimney to participate in the lighting of the furnace of the kiln for the first time. The moment the fire was lighted using fuel, the pressure of the fire mixed with the smoke could not come out freely of the upper portion of the conical shaped chimney caused a deafening explosion. The pressure was so heavy that the explosion caused cracks on the walls of the chimney. People gathered near the chimney sustained fatal injuries mostly in the head when the upper portion caved in on them due to the impact of the explosion.
The kiln was lying closed for almost 5 years and on Thursday the new owner had planned to start production. Since it was the first occasion of lighting of fire in the kiln for the season, a large number of people from the neighborhoods had gathered to witness how the kiln operates. After all the bricks were laid inside the kiln to be baked and ignited, the pressure built by the fire caused the 5-year old 110-feet chimney to crack, ultimately leading it to cave in and along with it, several thousands of bricks fell atop people gathered to witness the event. Two persons died on the spot due to head injuries, while more than 25 were shifted to Zion, Civil and Referral Hospitals at Dimapur with most of them in critical conditions. Another injured succumbed to his injuries on the way to Civil Hosptial while one passed away at Referral Hospital and another succumbed to injuries at Civil Hospital. Among the injured was one of the owners of the kiln, who was identified as one Akahoto. He was admitted in the ICU of the ZHRC in a critical condition. Seventeen of the injured were admitted at the ZHRC and the rest admitted to the district hospital.
The incident is an eye opener for the concerned departments of Nagaland government along with the state’s pollution control board. It shows that the industries department’s rules were violated by the brick factory’s proprietors thus putting the lives of the workers at stake. What action the industry department and the Pollution Control Board take against the brick factory’s authority will remain to be seen in the coming days.

Bihar polls: Voting begins for final phase


Patna. Nov.20 (ANI): Polling for the sixth and the final phase of Bihar elections began in 26 of the 243 assemblies on Saturday morning.
The 26 constituencies are spread over Rohtas, Aurangabad, Buxar, Kaimur and Gaya districts of which 18 have been declared as Maoist-hit. Over 60 lakh electorates will cast their votes.
A total of 426 candidates, including 43 women, are in the fray in the last phase of elections.
Prominent candidates in fray include Speaker and Janata Dal-United leader Uday Narayan Choudhary (Imamganj), Bharatiya Janata Party Minister Awadhesh Narayan Singh (Dehri), Janata Dal -United ministers Chhedi Paswan (Mohania) and Anil Kumar (Tekari).
Polling is being held between 7.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m., while in the rest of the seats it will be held between 7.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m.
Director-General of Police Neelmani said: "Around 35,000 security personnel and four helicopters have been deployed as part of unprecedented security arrangements for the elections."
He further added, four BSF helicopters, including MI-17 and a Dhruv, are keeping air surveillance in Gaya, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar and Kaimur districts with Special Task Force commandos on board.
There would be a 100 per cent deployment of the Central Para-Military Force in Gaya and Aurangabad districts. The other districts would have between 90 and 95 per cent deployment.
The remaining districts will be covered by regular armed forces.
Four BSF helicopters, including an MI-17 and a Dhruv, would be stationed at Gaya, Aurangabad, Rohtas and Kaimur districts with STF commandos for air surveillance.
BSF sniffer dogs and CRPF bomb detection and disposal squads would also be present.
The State is in the process of electing a new 243-seat assembly. 
Counting of votes will take place on November 24. (ANI)

Siju Expo to replace A’tong Festival in South Garo Hills


TURA: The Siju Eco-Tourism and Conservation Society of south Garo Hills, has decided not to hold the colorful A’tong festival at Karukol early next year and has instead agreed to hold the first ever ‘Siju Expo 2011″ at Siju.
Previously, A’tong Festival was held for two days between January 29 and 30 and drew large numbers of tourists both foreign and local inspite of the freezing temperatures.
The Siju Expo 2011 is slated to be organized in collaboration with other NGOs like the Southern Youth and Cultural Organization (SYCO), and the district administration of south Garo Hills,” informed Siju Eco-Tourism and Conservation Society.
A five-member delegation representing different NGOs of South Garo Hills called on Meghalaya Governor, R S Mooshahary at Raj Bhawan, Shillong, on Monday last to invite him to inaugurate the festival which will be held on February 8 at Siju Do’bakol Captain Williamson Memorial Park.
During the two-day expo the Governor is expected to inaugurate the first ever Siju Eco Tourism Campus set up by the Siju Eco-Tourism and Conservation Society in support of Samrakshan Trust. He will also attend the Dabat Wari Billa’ or community fishing and take part in savouring Siju’s special tribal and A’tong food fest.
There will also be traditional music and A’tong cultural show and a Reality Live Drama Show on “Hills State Demand from 1950s to 1970s- led by Captain Williamson A Sangma” which will be hosted by traditional artistes. Exploration of the Siju Tourst spots are the other highlights of event.
Tourism Minister of Meghalaya, Ampareen Lyngdoh, and former former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma have also been invited as special guests.
Local Artist Dilseng R Sangma will present the theme song of the A’tongs and Governor Awardee 2010 Mona R Sangma is expected to present some memorable ‘Cheraa and Gonda’ to the delight of the audience, informed Mr Inden R Sangma, Secretary of Siju Eco-Tourism and Conservation Society.

12 die in IAF helicopter crash


Guwahati, November 19: An Indian Air Force helicopter carrying 12 officers crashed near Tawang in northwestern Arunachal Pradesh Friday afternoon killing all the occupants of the aircraft. Reports said an explosion barely three minutes after take-off is said to be the cause of the crash at 12:05 pm.
Eyewitnesses said the helicopter ‘burst like crackers’ after ascending from the army helipad near the Korea Brigade headquarters in Tawang.It crashed at Bomdir, 10 km downhill by road, and at an elevation of 11,000 ft. Tawang’s civilian helipad is located at Bomdir. “We saw the helicopter go boom like a massive firecracker,” said local trader Sonam Thinley from Tawang.
IAF officials ruled out weather as a factor in the crash – Tawang was sunny on Friday. But they were reluctant to attribute it to an explosion. “Technical fault is a possibility but everything will be clear after the commission of inquiry set up to probe the crash submits its report,” said a senior IAF officer.
“The bodies of all the officers and crew have been recovered. They included 11 IAF personnel, two of them flight lieutenants and an army officer (lieutenant colonel),” said Lt Col Rajesh Kalia, spokesman of the army’s 4 Corps based at Tezpur in central Assam.
Tawang sector is under the jurisdiction of the 4 Corps. The eastern Himalayan belt from Tawang to Mechuka in West Siang district (central Arunachal Pradesh) is considered aviation-unfriendly. But IAF choppers and army’s AN-32 aircraft often have to operate in this belt to service defence personnel in forward posts along the border with China.
Friday’s mishap, though, is the first in 13 years not blamed on weather. On May 14 last year, 14 army personnel died when the AN-32 they were traveling in from Mechuka to Jorhat (Air Force base, central Assam) crashed soon after take-off from an advanced landing ground.
In May 2001, Arunachal Pradesh minister Dera Natung and five others died when their Pawan Hans aircraft crashed near Tawang due to poor visibility. On 14 November 1997, minister of state for defence NVN Somu and Major General Ramesh Nagpal and two others died when their four-seater Cheetah hit a 1300 ft peak 40 km from Tawang. General Nagpal was the chief of 5 Division at Tenga, midway between Tawang and Tezpur.

Chandel district bandh on Nov 23


Imphal, November 19: All tribal Chiefs and Public Grievances Forum, Chandel district has called for Chandel district bandh on November 23 in protest against DC Chandel, H Deleep ignoring the issues of development in the villagers of Chandel district.
The Forum informed all sub-divisional offices to remain closed till an amicable solution with the state government is found, but all essential services will be exempted from the bandh.
The Forum also warned the state government not to ignore the voice of Chandel people against sheltering the surrendered cadres of KCP (MC Lallumba).