MCD: Mentally Challenged Department: Coffee Houses in Loos

Only MCD can come up with such convoluted ideas, against the basic culture of Indians.

Eateries in Toilets indeed.

Cafes-cum-toilets dumped?

Abantika Ghosh | TNN

New Delhi: The controversial coffee house-cum-toilet project of MCD has drawn the lieutenant-governor’s ire. In the face of criticism from residents and legislators and allegations of procedural lapses, the office of the LG has asked all the seven prototypes to be reviewed and the one at Defence Colony to be scrapped immediately.

LG Tejendra Khanna — who was flooded with letters and memoranda opposing the project — has asked the civic body to go back to the drawing board on the Defence Colony building as it is the one which has caused the maximum outrage among residents, traders and elected representatives.

MCD commissioner K S Mehra was not available for comment despite repeated attempts till late in the night. A senior MCD official, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that the projects were in the process of being reviewed but added that he was ‘‘not aware of any direction from the LG to scrap any of them’’.


Eatery over loo bad idea: Residents

New Delhi: After MCD’s  coffee house-cum-toilet project faced opposition from residents and legislators, sources in the LG’s office said the commissioner was told about the public outcry over the Defence Colony structure and he reportedly said that if people did not want it, there was no point in going ahead with the project. This, however, could not be confirmed.

MCD has plans to construct 200 such structures across the city. In a bid to finalize the contractors, the agency had invited five companies to build seven prototypes in Greater Kailash, Kotla Mubarakpur, Chittaranjan Park, East of Kailash, Defence Colony, ITO, Model Town and Kailash Colony. These companies paid MCD Rs 40 lakh for each structure.

The plan was that once a technical committee had looked at the structures and chosen one, the others would be razed and that one company would be given the task of building and operating all the 200 outlets for 30 years in lieu of a payment of Rs 1,000 crore to MCD. In some of these areas, rentals can be as high as Rs 75,000-1,50,000 per square feet a month.

Residents and traders have described these structures as ‘‘monstrosities’’ constructed in the middle of markets that would only add to congestion. ‘‘There were objections about the concept of eating above a toilet. Soon, there were allegations of financial bungling with the money and the period for which the lease was to be given being too much for too little,’’ said a source.

New Delhi MP Ajay Maken, Kalkaji MLA Subhash Chopra and Jangpura MLA Tarvinder Marwah had joined the chorus.

A senior official in LG secretariat said: ‘‘The LG felt that with local area plans in the offing, it was not in the interest of anybody to plan and execute projects that led to such tough resistance from locals for whom the idea was originally designed. The prototypes will be demolished.’’

Mamata Banarjee: Brave lady takes Political Solution to Lalgarh

End The Violence

Mamata Banarjee, laughed at by many for her simple attaire and no nonsense lanuage has managed to rally the people of Lalgarh, which has seen much violence in the recent past and is considered a den of Maoists.

First and foremost Mamata deserves to be congratulated for her bravery, to walk in to the den of Maoists, and call themto accept the  democratic path.

Maoists with their fixed ideas of governance democracy may or may not accede to her call, but the fact remains that she has gone in to the tiger’s den boldly, a place  where other politicians were too scared  to set foot on.

India needs more Mamatas.

Do we have a single politician in this entire country who will dare to do what she has done?

May be Kashmir Valley should be her next stop.

Mamata makes a pitch for peace in Lalgarh

Trinamool Congress chief and Union railway minister Mamata Banerjee has stirred controversy with a “peace” rally at Lalgarh on Monday. A significant part of her address was aimed at the Maoists whose presence loomed over the meet. She called on them to abjure violence and talk to the government. She suggested that the government could withdraw security operations in the region if the Maoists agreed to a ceasefire. She stressed a political dialogue to end the violence and usher in development.

he rally was important because it marked the return of normal politics to this strife-torn region since violence engulfed it, following an attack on the West Bengal chief minister in 2008. Though dubbed an apolitical meet, the crowd was made up of three distinct political streams active, and sometimes overlapping, in the region. Activists from Trinamool Congress were expectedly there. But a majority of the crowd belonged to the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), which has pro-Maoist leanings. Some of its leaders are in jail facing charges of engineering the attack on the Jnaneswari Express. The CPI (Maoist), reportedly, had asked its cadre to make the rally a success. T

he challenge before Mamata is to build on what she said at the rally. The PCPA may have started out as a mass movement, with focus on the concerns of a largely impoverished tribal population. It is necessary to disengage the Maoist cause from that of tribal welfare.

If Mamata’s overtures mean that tribal activists can be persuaded to disavow violent means and join the political mainstream, then that is to be welcomed. But for that to happen, the PCPA needs to be told that the tribal cause figures in the scheme of Maoists only as a passing moment in their struggle to capture state power. Mamata will need to impress upon PCPA leaders that issues of development and political representation could be addressed through democratic institutions and without coercion.

A turnaround in Lalgarh and its neighbourhood is possible only if political forces active there abandon the use of force to build their organisations. T

he CPM, though currently at the receiving end, is hardly innocent of using violence for the benefit of the party. Each of these forces – the Trinamool, the CPM and the PCPA – must recognise that the ultimate beneficiaries of a coercive political environment are the Maoists. An essential part of building a new Bengal has to be about doing away with the existing culture of intolerance towards political differences. Another part must be stressing development, about which Mamata has been notably ambiguous in recent times.

PCPA steals the thunder at Didi’s roadshow

Jnaneswari Sabotage Accused Defy Police, Lead Processions

Caesar Mandal | TNN

Lalgarh: As expected, Mamata Banerjee’s Lalgarh rally turned out to be a PCPA show, every mile of the way. The Maoist-backed outfit showed its might and reach, marshalling foot soldiers from the remotest of villages, teaching the famed Trinamool Congress machinery a thing or two about crowd management.
The white-and-green PCPA flags far outnumbered Trinamool flags in the 60,000-strong rally.
What’s more, wanted PCPA leaders — including Asit Mahato, who carries a reward of Rs 1 lakh for the Jnaneswari Express carnage, and spokesperson Manoj Mahato — led huge processions to the venue, sending police into a flutter.
Busloads of PCPA supporters, shouting ‘Mamata Banerjee zindabad’, streamed into Lalgarh all day and well into the evening, even after Mamata had finished her speech and the rally had wound up. Trinamool leaders went into a tizzy on seeing their supporters hopelessly outnumbered. Party MP Subhendu Adhikary was heard announcing in a desperate manner: ‘‘This is an apolitical rally. We ask everyone to lower their party flags and banners.’’
In the morning, police had done their best to corner the PCPA. Villages were raided to prevent PCPA from mobilizing villagers. Teams went looking for Asit and Manoj but the duo was already in Purnapani village by then, hardly 2km from the venue. Trinamool leaders waiting at the school grounds got a shock when they saw the PCPA flags in the first procession to reach the spot. That was just the beginning.
With their big drums, the Jangalmahal locals announced their resounding presence. The Trinamool crowd had been mainly brought in from East Midnapore and other South Bengal districts, but most of them were caught in a massive traffic jam in Jhitka forest, caused mainly by the flood of PCPA supporters.
It was almost surreal to see jhitka, a Maoist den that has seen much bloodshed, jam-packed with honking vehicles. The road through the forest is generally deserted all day, or sometimes dotted with burning trucks.
Police managed to stop some of the rallies, mainly in Jhargram. PCPA worker Sushil Mahato was arrested near Lodhashuli while organizing a procession. Three others were rounded up near the rally venue. ‘‘Sushil was nabbed in Nischintapur village. He was arrested earlier but had fled from custody. The three others were picked up from Gohmidanga village.
They are accused of extortion,’’ West Midnapore SP Manoj Varma said.
Manoj Mahato accused police of trying every means to thwart the rally. ‘‘In areas where police cannot find anyone to arrest, they are asking vehicle owners and drivers not to provide us cars,’’ he alleged when TOI spotted him in Purnapani.


Congress left red-faced but puts up brave face


New Delhi: Though stung by Mamata Banerjee casting doubts on the encounter killing of top Maoist leader Azad, Congress on Monday chose to put up with the latest embarrassment inflicted on it by the Trinamool chief.
Mamata’s decision to hold the meeting in the Maoist stronghold of Lalgarh despite opposition from CPM and reservations of security forces was controversial enough. But her slamming of Azad’s encounter virtually stunned Congress into silence.
The statement went against Union home ministry’s stand that Azad was a prized scalp in the anti-Maoist campaign and the view in Congress was that the railway minister had compromised the Centre’s position.
Congress decided against commenting on the issue.
While it disagrees with Mamata, there is little it can do. Besides coaliton compulsions at the Centre, the party is deterred by the cost of annoying an ally who has emerged as the vehicle of the growing popular clamour for a regime change in West Bengal. “This is a trouble we have to live with,” a Congress leader said.
Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed, in fact, tried to dispel the perception that the party had reservations about the Lalgarh rally where Maoist sympathisers made up most of Mamata’s audience. “Congress has extended moral support to the rally. Intellectuals, writers, artists and others are working for restoration of peace in the area,” he said.
Mamata made an unabashed attempt to woo Maoists in a region where Trinamool cannot boast of enough strength of its own. Congress sees Mamata as focussed on wresting West Bengal from the Left bloc and knows that she will go “to any extent” to realise her ambition. Her position as the largest UPA ally makes her indispensable to the coalition.
Condemnation of the encounter death of Azad “who was talking peace” is seen as an attempt to send out a message that Leftists are targetting messengers of peace. While the encounter was done by Andhra police, Trinamool has reportedly been saying that Bengal police had tipped off its Andhra counterpart.
Congress does feel Mamata’s statement could lead to trouble.
This can compound Congress’s inhouse problems as AICC has been working hard to rein in a strong difference of opinion on the issue, as manifested by general secretary Digvijay Singh locking horns with home minister P Chidambaram on his “police centric” policy. “It will create confusion about Centre’s policy on naxalites,” a leader said. But that may be a small price for the trophy of West Bengal that Mamata is promising to deliver.