Officials prepare for the burial of birds. (Kundan Yolmo) Residents of Sukna army cantonment and visitors to Madhuban Park and Umrao Singh Lake situated inside the military area will no longer be able to have a glimpse of a major attraction thanks to the outbreak of bird flu. Over 200 ducks, swan and geese, which inhabited these recreational sites, have been culled as the deadly disease was detected just 500m from the cantonment.

Chicken has gone off the menu at many Siliguri homes with the Darjeeling district administration confirming bird flu in a village located just over 20km from the town. Culling operation in Poinikumari, the affected village, and areas within a 5km-radius started yesterday. "The team from the animal resource development department had culled 3,973 poultry birds yesterday. Another 7,000 are expected to be culled by 11pm today,' said Rajesh Pandey, the district magistrate of Darjeeling.

Lightning killed 11 persons in north Bengal as a Nor'wester raged through the region this afternoon. Ten of the victims, including a CPM panchayat poll candidate, were from Malda. Taking a break from a hectic campaign schedule, Habibur Rehman, 42, contesting from the Bhado gram panchayat, was sipping tea at a roadside stall, when a bolt from the sky struck him. He died on the spot. Jagannath Mandal, 55, was killed when lightning blew off the roof of his home in Kalichak, while a railway shed in Englishbazar collapsed on 17-year-old Prasenjit Saha.

Siliguri: The Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) will crack down on those who tap water illegally from underground supply lines in many of its wards, in a bid to give uninterrupted water supply to residents. As part of its drive to check the diversion of water, the civic body will conduct raids, slap fine on those found taking water without permission and even seek the help of police to seize their pumps. "In the past couple of weeks, we have received complaints regarding water supply,' said Sharadindu Chakraborty, member, mayor-in-council (water).

BM Birla Heart Research Centre is planning to expand its chain of hospitals in the city and abroad. "We have plans to set up multi-speciality hospitals in Rajarhat, Siliguri, Haldia and Jharkhand, and also in Dubai and Bangladesh,' said Suyash Borar, the chief operating officer of the centre. According to Borar, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has promised to provide the centre two acres in the proposed Rajarhat health city.

The Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) will generate power from organic waste with the help of the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency.

North Bengal University (NBU) will soon take up a slew of projects to explore non-conventional sources of energy. At today's meeting of the executive council, the highest statutory body of the university, a proposal to set up an energy park in collaboration with West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Authority (WBREDA) was formalised. "The park will generate awareness among students and common people of the use of renewable energy sources and energy conservation techniques,' said Arunava Basumajumdar, vice-chancellor of NBU. "We have earmarked a plot adjacent to Akshay Kumar Maitreya Heritage Museum for the park. Alongside the heritage museum, which already gets a good number of visitors everyday, the park will be an added tourist attraction for this part of Siliguri,' said Basumajumdar. The vice-chancellor added that it had also been decided that solar heaters would be provided to students' hostels so that they could heat water. "We have also tied up with WBREDA for illuminating campus streets, using solar power,' said the vice-chancellor. A bio-mass power generator will also be set up, the vice-chancellor said. He added that renewable energy sources were the best alternatives to meet the additional energy requirements. A major study that the university will be taking up is on the water table. "With funds from the state government, we will be undertaking a major study on the water table in the hills and the effects of global warming on it,' Basumajumdar said.

The Nano, whose projected Puja rollout is being greeted with a host of new showrooms Dealers of Tata Motors in the state are busy putting infrastructure in place for the Puja rollout of Nano. Lexus Motors, the largest Tata Motors dealer in West Bengal, has acquired land in Barasat, Chinsurah and Uluberia for opening outlets to showcase Nano, while RD Motors is preparing to launch showrooms in Baruipur and Chinsurah. The third dealer, KB Motors, is strengthening its network by opening outlets in Madhyamgram, Kalyani and Hooghly. Since Nano is expected to have a strong semi-urban and rural market, the company is looking to augment its distribution network in the districts. "We will add showrooms and also open dealerships in areas where we don't have a presence,' said a Tata Motors spokesperson from Mumbai. "The idea is to take Nano to the customer rather than make him come to Calcutta to buy the car,' said Anil Bagaria, the director of KB Motors. The new showrooms for Nano, as specified by Tata Motors, will be D-class outlets with floor space of about 1,000 sq ft. "These will be sales stores without workshops,' said Vinod Kumar Agarwal, the managing director of Lexus Motors. "The company is yet to give us an LoI (Letter of Intent) but is guiding us in opening the outlets. I am expecting the LoI within a couple of weeks,' added Agarwal. The company is laying a lot of stress on the rollout. "We are adding new dealerships every fortnight. Currently, we have 170 dealers across the country. We hope to appoint more distributors before the Nano arrives,' said the spokesperson. In addition to three distributors in Calcutta, Tata Motors has four others in the rest of the state, with eight showrooms in Siliguri, Malda, Kharagpur, Asansol and Haldia. "We are looking to add four to five showrooms through our existing distributors in Durgapur and Burdwan. We are also looking for a new distributor in Howrah,' added the spokesperson. The Lexus Motors Uluberia store will be for commercial vehicles but will also sell the Nano, said Agarwal. RD Motors opened a 1,000-sq-ft showroom in Krishnagar in November last year and is launching the two stores by April. "Yes, we are preparing for the Nano rollout,' said Pradip Jain, the proprietor. KB Motors is looking at a branch in Joka, said Bagaria. Tata Motors remained tightlipped about when bookings for Nano would start. Trial production is slated to start in June-July. The dealers expect bookings to open by August.

With a bird flu alert being sounded at the Indo-Bengal border, the city of Siliguri in West Bengal's Darjeeling district has reasons to worry. More than 2,500 chicken deaths have been reported

A novel referendum by the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (smc) spelt doom for 122 trees. The civic body asked people to choose between the trees and traffic jams. In the voting, the roads won by a