Category Archives: Amazing Feats

Doctor far-off, care close by – Satellite health unit set up at remote Rimbick

A patient being treated at the medical unit at Rimbick. Telegraph picture

Darjeeling :

An idea that bagged an award from the Acadèmia de Ciències Mèdiques, a forum of healthcare professionals in Barcelona, Spain, has blossomed into a fruitful project that is saving human lives in one of the farthest corners of Darjeeling district in Rimbick.

Plaban Das, a medical director of Planter’s Hospital in Darjeeling, during his advanced medical studies at La Santpau hospital in Barcelona, had through his Spanish friends proposed an idea in 2009 to create a satellite healthcare unit in remote areas.

The idea we bagged the Beques de Cooperacio Academia del Mon award that carried a prize money of 200 Euros in 2009.

“Anna Goma, a Spanish doctor, has presented the idea to the academy and it bagged the first prize. It was just an idea then and wanted to replicate the same in Rimbick, where I had conducted a medical camp in 2007,” said Das.

He mulled over the idea for long and once social media, more particularly WhatsApp, became common among people, he started working on the project.

“The basic idea was to ensure the people of Rimbick and its surrounding areas quick medical intervention during emergencies so that lives could be saved,” said Das.

Rimbick is about 90km from Darjeeling and one has to trek 6-7km further to reach the villages of Srikhola and Daragoan.

“With the help of local people, we formed a 12-member committee and set up the Rimbick Singalila Health Care Centre, a no-loss-no-profit venture which was inaugurated on September 13, 2015,” said Das.

Das made a personal contribution of Rs 2.5 lakh, along with the prize money of 100 Euros (the remaining 100 Euros was used in a project in Nigeria), while local people contributed around Rs 1 lakh. “Dr Hem Gosai, who practices in London but is from Darjeeling, later contributed Rs 1 lakh when he heard about the project,” said Das.

Two nurses, one para-medic and two technicians run the two-bedded centre at Rimbick with ECG, X-ray machine, nebuliser, oxygen cylinder and lab equipment.

“Whenever there is an emergency, the nurses contact me through WhatsApp. Primary tests are done there and they send the report on Whatsapp to me. Then I prescribe preliminary treatment right away, which is important in cases like brain stroke and heart attacks,” said Das.

Prakash Gurung, GTA Sabha member of the area, has also donated an ambulance to the centre.

In fact, this year, the centre observed a Stroke Survival Day, where five patient who had become paralytic and fully recovered because of immediate medical intervention were felicitated.

Shiva Rai, a hotelier, said: “I would not have been speaking to you had the centre not been there. I had gone to bed normally but in the morning, I found that my hands were paralytic and my face slanted. I could recover fully because of immediate medical intervention.

Binod Kumar Rai, a teacher of Rimbick Higher Secondary School, said: “I had a bee sting followed by fever and diarrhea. I recovered immediately. Importantly, my relative who had a stroke also recovered well.”

The centre needs Rs 30,000 on an average a month to function. “They charge a minimum amount. If we were to go and meet Dr Das in Darjeeling we need to spend anything between Rs 2000 to Rs 3000. But treatment is much cheaper and efficient at the Rimbick centre,” said Binod.

Das, along with other doctors visit the centre, once a month. A group of doctors from Zion Hospital in Nagaland held a free medical camp on February 15 there.

“People from Nepal also visit the centre now,” said Das.

Apart from the Spanish doctor, Anna, Martha Gallego, a nurse, Pau Casan Bonet, a pianist, and Begonya Crespo Bosque held a musical event in Barcelona to support the centre.

A similar project is being worked out for Badamtam tea garden, about 20km from Darjeeling.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> North Bengal> Story / by Vivek Chhetri / Monday- February 20th, 2017

Blind steer cars in rally

The Agarwals of Phoolbagan and Laxman Mondal, the navigator, with their amateur category trophies

On February 5, it was the sightless in the navigator’s seat as participants in a car rally made their way from Acropolis Mall to the Harley Davidson showroom in New Town.

The Exide Rotary Car Rally for the Blind was organised by the Rotary Club of Calcutta MidTown in partnership with Just Sportz & Turnstone Global in the TSD (time, speed and distance) format.

The TSD format requires each car to pass through several manned time control points in a specified time, failing in which one is penalised. The team with the least penalty points is declared the winner.

The blind persons guided the driver with the help of the route chart printed in Braille. The rally had about 300 participants with each team being paired with a visually impaired navigator. The route map in Braille was handed over to the teams just before the flag-off and could be deciphered only by the navigator.

There were trophies for professional rallyists, amateurs and all-women teams. Director general, fire services, Jag Mohan was present for the prize distribution ceremony.

The winner in the expert category was Avik Saha with Debargha Mukherjee as the navigator.

In the amateur category, the husband-wife duo of Sandeep and Mukti Agarwal won with Laxman Mondol as the navigator. “We were debutants but Laxman had won a rally before. He was so quick with the instructions that we won easily,” said Sandeep, a Phoolbagan resident.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> Salt Lake> Story / by A Staff Reporter / Friday – February 17th, 2017

Film on messiah of pavements to hit Kolkata screen tomorrow

Kolkata :

At 87, this doctor bends over to listen to heartbeats. He bends slightly more these days, but there is otherwise no sign of fatigue on his weather-beaten face. You may have not been lucky to come across Jack Preger — the healer on Kolkata pavements as, he is popularly called — at work, but here’s a film that captures the journey of the British farmer-turned-doctor who has been serving destitutes on Kolkata streets since the 70s.

The film, ‘Doctor Jack’, directed by French filmmaker Benoit Lange, is an 83-minute film that has already won a coveted international award and is likely to enter some more competitions this year.

It will be screened by Alliance Francaise for a select audience on Thursday and will open for public screening at a popular south Kolkata movie hall the next day.

The French/Swiss film released in those two countries in 2016 and won in the documentary section of the prestigious Solothurn Film Festival, Switzerland. Camerawork by renowned European cinematographer Camille Cottagnoud has received critical acclaim worldwide. The filmmaker has donated the entire amount of 20,000 Swiss Franc to Preger’s organization, Calcutta Rescue.

Born in 1930 in Manchester, Preger’s life has been extraordinary. After graduating from Oxford University with economics and political science, he took up a career in hill farming. It was during this time that he realised that he had a different call in life and that he should spend the rest of his life trying to take medical benefit to the poor who cannot afford structured treatment.

After training as a surgeon at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Preger decided to leave the first world for good and go to Bangladesh to treat war refugees.

Thereafter, he reached Kolkata and started his clinic on the pavements of Middleton Row. For years, he ran this clinic before Calcutta Rescue spread its wings crisscrossing pavements of the city.

“It took me four years to make the film, such is the mystery of the man. Where does he get so much strength from? I call him the Don Quixote of modern times — a farmer metamorphosing into a messiah. What an exceptional destiny,” said Lange.

Preger, however, in his characteristic humour explained, “Sometimes you don’t choose life…life chooses you.”

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey / TNN / February 16th, 2017

Now, Rs 5 wonder sachet to help you save teeth, bone

HIGHLIGHTS

. Scientists have developed an inexpensive kit to test the fluorosis level in the body

. The fluoride level detection kit that will soon be available in shampoo-like sachet
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Kolkata :

Scientists at a top-notch research institute in Durgapur have developed an easy-to-use, inexpensive kit to test the fluorosis level in the body so that one can take corrective measures before it causes teeth and bone deformity.

A team led by CSIR-CMERI scientist (surface engineering and tribology division) Dr Priyabrata Banerjee has developed the fluoride level detection kit that will soon be available in shampoo-like sachet. The sachets, to be priced around Rs 5 each, will contain two kits comprising two vials and a strip of colour-coded paper. While one vial will be empty, the other will contain a chemo-sensor liquid.

“All that a person has to do is spit into the empty vial, then pour the chemo sensor into it, close the vial and shake it vigorously. There will be an instant colour change, indicating the level of fluorosis in the body. If it is orange, it will indicate unsafe level of more than 1.5 ppm. Yellow indicates safe level of less than 1.5 ppm. The vial can be placed against the colour coded strip to match the colour and the fluorosis level it indicates,” Banerjee pointed out.

The Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) is a leading mechanical engineering R&D institute under the aegis of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) that has developed technologies to provide societal solutions.The folurosis level detection kit is one such that has already been provisionally patented and technology tranferred to small scale industry for commercial production. The institute showcased this and other technologies at the 31st Indian Engineering Congress organised by the Institute of Engineers (India) in Kolkata recently.

“We expect the kits to be available in health stores in rural Bengal, particularly villages in Purulia, Bankura and Birbhum where fluorosis is a problem,” said Banerjee, who is the key inventor. Fluorosis can be dental, skele tal or non-skeletal and cause motteled teeth or deformity of limbs.

Banerjee’s team has also developed a chemo sensor station costing around Rs 2,000 each that will be placed at the primary health centres in fluorosis-affected districts where people can get the samples electronically verified.

“The salivary fluoride level detection kit is the latest technology that our scientists have come up with. The patent for this product was filed on November18,” said CSIR-CMERI director Harish Hirani.

Another technology that the R&D institute demonstrated was a smart card operated and pluggable energy meter through which one can instantly measure the energy level of an electrical installation using a smart phone. “One only needs to have internet connectivity or bluetooth to link a smart energy meter with a smartphone,” said a scientist.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Suman Chakraborti / TNN / December 20th, 2016

There will never be another Indian soldier-diplomat like you, Ms. Ghose

C’est n’est qu’un au revoir

ArundhatiGhoseKOLKATA28jul2016

Journalist: “Ambassador, Madam Ambassador, is India walking out of the talks?”

Ambassador: “India is going to the loo.”

The journalist was a correspondent for a Japanese news agency. The Ambassador was Arundhati Ghose who passed away this week (1940-2016). She was the Indian Ambassador to United Nations (UN) in Geneva. The year was 1996 – she was negotiating the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on behalf of 900 million Indians. The diminutive lady with a cigarette in one hand, papers in the other and India in her heart single-handedly wreaked havoc on the Conference on Disarmament (CD). She did this for India.

Leading from the front and all guns blazing, she defended India’s decision to oppose the treaty. The talks hinged on India’s decision and pressure on New Delhi to sign the skewed and dishonest CTBT was multi-pronged and fierce. She didn’t blink – diplomats will tell you what blinking in such negotiations can mean. No she didn’t blink and ensured no one in India did either. That is an even more difficult task for an Indian diplomat to achieve.

I covered the talks. Staking out with hundreds of journalists at the UN became normal life if not at GATT-WTO, then at the UN. Has Ms. Ghose spoken to India, has Washington spoken to India, will India sign, do you know anything, what is she going to do next went the drift. I felt good – this was a great story.

More importantly, in all my years of reporting from abroad including from the UN, I had never seen an Indian diplomat defending India’s interests with such force, grit, grace and determination. At the GATT-WTO, down the road from the UN, India was conceding paragraph by clause on trade and market access to the demands of the very same P5 who were being dismantled by Ms. Ghose for their double-speak and hypocrisy at the CD.

Didn’t national interest include protecting trade interests? For a journalist, the contrast was stark and which each passing day, I admired Ms. Ghose. If she could do it, why not the other guys down the road? The answer was and continues to be simple – she was a committed Indian, India’s defence interests were not just a treaty, it was her soul and her substance. She walked and talked national security, especially South Asian security.

Picture this. Press conferences during the negotiations were held throughout the day with all of us chasing the P5 (United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia), sharing notes, placing each others’ tape recorders in strategic places – laptops and mobile telephones had just debuted. The more important CTBT press conferences were held in a large room, always jam-packed. What will India do or what do you think India will do was almost always the first question.

One such presser was called as the endgame neared. Sitting on the stage with the P5 manel, Ms. Ghose was unperturbed, taking notes, as Ambassador after Ambassador said New Delhi would be held responsible for the CTBT’s collapse. At one point a western P5 Ambassador said “…the people of the world want this treaty.” Ms. Ghose jumped in. Hello, she said. “Which people…I represent 900 million people and you will not ignore the wishes of my people. We are not signing the CTBT text on the table.” In a spontaneous gesture journalists were on their feet applauding Ms. Ghose. The logic was on India’s side – the world had failed its CTBT mandate. The air was electric.

In 1993 the UN gave the then 38-nation Geneva-based CD its first comprehensive mandate to negotiate a test ban treaty at the earliest. The scope of the proposed treaty quickly emerged as the most important and contentious aspect of the negotiations. Linked to the scope were verification and compliance protocols which obviously meant on-site inspections. An international monitoring system would check cheaters but fears grew that this was a fishing expedition in disguise.

Just ahead of the CTBT, India said that the indefinite extension of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) – a gift the then nuclear weapons states had given to each other to blow the world apart – was an act of bad faith. Given that reality, New Delhi said any meaningful CTBT could not be a standalone piece and must be part of a time-bound global disarmament process. That set the cat among the pigeons, then.

How did Ms. Ghose handle it? How many phone calls did the Indian Prime Minister take? It was a long way from Arkansas to Haradhanahalli – maybe the Indian Prime Minister was resting when the phone rang, maybe the two men just didn’t understand each other. All we knew was that Ms. Ghose had a mandate and she was going to work it for her people. Ambassadors are supposed to do just that. Serve their countries.

Ms. Ghose did all the heavy lifting and then there were moments that tugged at your heartstrings. She told me about a visit to a bank during one of her trips to New Delhi. The clerk looked at her name, jumped up, told her the entire nation was behind her as she negotiated the ‘NTPC’ in Geneva – such was the groundswell of support for her. There were other anecdotes, of people stopping her on the streets of India, Ms. Ghose and the journalists hanging out in Geneva over peels of laughter even as she scolded us for following her to the loo or not allowing her a peaceful moment for a puff at 3 a.m.

As I write this, I wonder if Ms. Ghose is not telling god what she thinks of the man with the yellow hair trying to make his way to the White House. There will never be another like you Ms. Ghose. This is but a goodbye.

source: http://www.thenewsminute.com / The News Minute / Home / by Chitra Subramanian / Wednesday – July 27th, 2016

IIT-Kharagpur to confer Distinguished Alumnus Award at the 62nd convocation

Kolkata:

Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur will confer the Distinguished Alumnus Award on the occasion of the 62nd convocation of the Institute which will be organized on July 30 and 31.

Seven eminent alumni have been selected for the award for their exceptional professional achievements in the industry, in the academia or as entrepreneur. The awardees are – Dr Anurag Acharya, Ajit Jain, Asoke Deyasarkar, professor Gautam Biswas, professor Indranil Manna, professor Supriyo Bandopadhyay and Professor Venkatesan Thirumalai.

Dr. Anurag Acharya (IIT KGP B.Tech./Computer Science and Engineering/1987 batch), Distinguished Engineer at Google USA. Dr. Acharya is key founder of Google Scholar which since its inception has become an indispensable service for the global academic and research community.

Ajit Jain (IIT KGP B.Tech./Mechanical Engineering/1972 batch), President of Reinsurance Division, Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group, USA. Shri Jain is a visionary in the global investment sector, having led Berkshire Hathaway to great heights. He is a well-known philanthropist as well funding the Jain Foundation with the mission is to cure muscular dystrophies.

Dr. Asoke Deysarkar (IIT KGP B.Tech./Chemical Engineering/1971 batch), CEO and Chairman, PfP Industries, USA. Dr. Deysarkar has blended his research with entrepreneurship in Chemical Engineering forming a billion dollar conglomerate of companies. The Deysarkar Family has helped establish the Trans-disciplinary Program in Petroleum Engineering at IIT KGP. Dr. Deysarkar is also known for his philanthropy activities.

Professor Gautam Biswas (IIT KGP Ph.D./Mechanical Engineering / 1985 batch), Director, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. Prof. Biswas has an illustrious academic career of 25 years having taught at IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur and in various international universities and known for his leadership at IIT Kanpur, Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, Durgapur and IIT Guwahati. His fundamental research on heat transfer phenomena is well recognised in the international academic community. He was the Founder Director of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), New Delhi.

Professor Indranil Manna (IIT KGP Ph.D./Metallurgical and Materials Engineering/ 1990 batch), Director, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. He has been an exceptional academician and researcher having a long-standing association with IIT Kharagpur as faculty and thereafter leading the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Kolkata and IIT Kanpur. His significant contributions in advanced material science and engineering have been well recognised by national and international bodies.

Professor Supriyo Bandopadhyay (IIT KGP B.Tech./Electronics and Electrical Communications Engineering/1980 batch), Commonwealth Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA. Recently he was named Virginia’s Outstanding Scientist and is known globally for his interdisciplinary research. He directs the Quantum Device Laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering which has been frequently featured in national and international media for exemplary research in nanotechnology.

Professor Venkatesan Thirumalai (B.Sc./Physics /1969 batch), Director, NUSNNI-NanoCore, National University of Singapore. He is known for his pioneering research in laser technology. Prof. Venkatesan was Founder of the PhD/MBA program in NUS and the Surface Center at Rutgers University.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is one of the highest recognition given of accomplishment and contribution of an alumnus/alumna from the Institute.

The awardees will be given a gold medal and a certificate.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kolkata / Somdatta Basu / TNN / July 12tj, 2016

A Kolkata Laundry Helps People With Special Needs Find Employment

Kolkata :

A laundry service launched at Kolkata’s Pavlov Hospital, ‘Dhobi Ghar’ is being called a laundry with a difference.

The service will be run by people who have suffered stigma and often been abandoned by their families due to mental illness and aims to provide them an opportunity to a live a life of dignity.

Health and Family Welfare Minister of West Bengal Shashi Panja told NDTV, “This is the first of its kind project taking off in West Bengal. This laundry project empowers these individuals who are going to work here who have been through mental illness and recovered. It is about empowerment, self-respect and hygiene.”

The West Bengal government says it wants to improve conditions at hospitals for persons with mental illness. The government says they will work with NGOs and private players to create more such opportunities to integrate them into the work force.

The laundry project was set up by Anjali in collaboration with state government’s health and family welfare department. It has Sparsh Foundation as a technical partner and is enabled by The Hans Foundation.

Executive Director of The Hans Foundation Dr G V Rao told NDTV, “We are going to continue to see how we can replicate this and take it to the next level in order to increase the numbers.”

Those who have found work at the laundry say they want to be independent. Gita Kundu, who is undergoing treatment at Pavlov Hospital, told NDTV, “We feel nice doing this work. I am ironing these days. I feel better.”

“If we can do what we have been told to do here, then I can call myself successful as being able to earn and live independently is a man’s first responsibility,” added Ratan Nandi.

source: http://www.ndtv.com / NDTV / Home> Kolkata / by Saurabh Gupta / May29th, 2016

Indian-American scientist wins Springer Theses Award

Mr. De has dedicated his PhD thesis to cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and his alma mater, Kolkata’s Presidency University.

An Indian-American scientist has received the prestigious Springer Theses Award in recognition for his outstanding research in which he developed transgenic mice to study a critical tumour-suppressor called A20.

Arnab De’s thesis was nominated by New York’s Columbia University. Before this, Mr. De, who has also developed peptide-based prodrugs as therapeutics for diabetes, had received the Young Investigator Award at the American Peptide Symposium.

The thesis prize is awarded by Springer, a leading global publisher of renowned scientific journals and books, to recognise outstanding PhD research.

Internationally top-ranked research institutes select their best thesis annually for publication in the book series: “Springer Theses: Recognising Outstanding PhD research”.

Additionally, winners also get a cash prize of 500 euros.

The research work was highlighted by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Reports.

Only research considered to be of ‘fundamental relevance to a general readership’ is chosen to be highlighted by EMBO.

Mr. De has dedicated his PhD thesis to cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and his alma mater, Kolkata’s Presidency University.

Mr. De said: “Two things that have influenced me the most is sports and education. This thesis is dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar not only for the cricketing joy he provided me, but also for being a constant source of inspiration to all Indian youth.”

Ole John Nielsen (University of Copenhagen), who shared the 2007 Nobel peace Prize as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change along with US vice president Al Gore, had in 2012 described the Springer award as an “insanely great honour”.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> International / PTI / Singapore – May 28th, 2016

Flower power pushes Kolkata Jewish population up by 1

CHRONICLER OF TASTE : Flower Silliman
CHRONICLER OF TASTE : Flower Silliman

Kolkata :

For 30 years, Flower Silliman lived abroad, keenly observing and recording Jewish life in the Middle East, Europe and the US.

Now, the 86-year-old is back in the city she was born taking the community count up by one. And, she has taken upon herself the onerous task of keeping the authentic Jewish flavours alive for her nine-member strong community. Yes, you read it right: nine.

Demographers put the strength of the Jewish community in the city at less than 20, but the members are rather strict about who they call “pure”. Those that have married “outside” the community are strictly not “pure” Jews.

“I have come back to the city because this is where the Jews have lived most safe and free, but unfortunately , this is where our numbers have dwindled the most…but I am keeping the flame alive,” she says.

Silliman also happens to be among the last keepers of the community’s ancient recipes and has decided to chronicle the unique tastes for posterity.

“Even the food that Jews here have today is not what we are permitted by our religion. There’s so much of mix and match that most of the authentic cuisine that is over 5,000 years old and has its roots in the Middle East, is lost. I am trying to keep the tradition alive by documenting the recipes and rustling up dishes for feasts,” says Silliman.

Jewish food is special because Jews just can’t eat cause Jews just can’t eat anything and everything, Silliman says.

Their food -kosher -has to abide by strict dietary laws which not only lay down what is forbidden but also the process of cooking, the ingredients and the kitchen specifications. Kosher, for example, does not permit meat to be mixed with milk or milk products.So, neither can you mix the two while cooking, nor can you consume milk or milk products after having meat.

Flower Silliman says: “Judaism has a great similarity with Hinduism so far as its antiquity and dietary specifications go.

It’s another matter that most followers of both religions have drifted away from these guidelines… perhaps because they have often found it difficult to cope with such restrictions. I am not saying this by way of criticism, but the fact is that cuisines, and even cultures, become extinct because of such interpolation.”

A traditional sit-down Jewish feast on Friday night can ideally start with beet khatta with koobah (beet soup with chicken or vegetable balls), followed by Jewish roast chicken, which is different from the European roast in the kind of marinades and spices used. “The authentic Jewish roast will be far milder, both in flavour and sharpness, compared to the European roast,” Silliman says.

Kosher allows Jews to only have fish that have scales, and not those with shells (prawns, crabs or lobsters). “So you have items like fish shoofta, which is minced fish skewers. Vegetable lovers have choices like vegetable mahashas, which is stuffed tomatoes and capsicum.But the magic is in the recipe for the stuffing. The authenticity of the dish is heightened when served with aloo makalla (a special potato fry), hulba (a sort of fenugreek, mint and coriander chutney) and cucum ber zalata. Another speciality is mutton or vegetable ingree -a layered meat dish baked with brinjals, tomatoes and potatoes -not unlike the Greek moussaka, but without dairy to keep within kosher limits,” Silliman explains with the lucidity of an expert.

And why not? While abroad, Silliman served as a souschef at the Plaza in Jerusalem and launched the world’s only kosher Jewish restaurant, Maharaja.

She taught cooking and ran masterchef shows in US and London and authored two books. “I have come back to Kolkata because this is where the Jews have lived most safe and free, but unfortunately , this is where our numbers have dwindled the most… but I am keeping the flame alive.”

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kolkata / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey / TNN / April 29th, 2016

Meet Annie Roy, the only woman tunnel engineer of country

AnnieRoyKOLK29apr2016

Bengaluru:

“She must be a visitor.” That’s the murmur she heard when Annie Sinha Roy walked into the construction site of Delhi Metro on the first day of her job. “There were about 100 men, most of them labourers and a few engineers. They thought I would not last long. There were no toilets, no place to sit and debris all around,” the country’s first and only woman tunnel engineer recalls.

“After a couple of hours, I was standing in front of a huge machine that had to break the ground but it was stuck. A German engineer and my boss asked me to get inside it and open a nut. Even before I realized what I was doing, my face was gushed by hydraulic oil. The colleague said my face would glow for the rest of my life. Today tunnelling is my life,” says Annie, 35, ahead of the inauguration of South India’s first underground Metro rail on Friday.

In Bengaluru, she alone steered Godavari, the tunnelboring machine that recently finished boring underground from Sampige Road to Majestic. She calls it her tunnel because the machine had got damaged just when she joined as assistant engineer in Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) in May 2015. After that, she used to spend eight hours in the tunnel every day. “Sometimes when people see me with the helmet and jacket and learn that I work for Namma Metro, they would only ask when the work will get over,” she says. Recalling her long journey, she said she wanted to pursue her masters after completing degree in mechanical engineering from Nagpur University.

“But I lost my father and I had to get a job to bail out my family from financial crisis. I got a job offer from Senbo, a contractor with Delhi Metro, and took it up in October 2007,” says Annie, who hails from a middle class family in north Kolkata.

In 2009, she joined Chennai Metro. And then went to Doha for six months in 2014. “My visa application was rejected thrice by Qatar because they do now allow unmarried women to go and work there. But the fourth time, I fought it out with them,” she laughs.

Annie is proud of her work in the tough male world around her, which has helped her “not bother about what is going to happen tomorrow”.

She wants women to break stereotypes and work in the male-dominated professions. “I want women to drive a tunnel boring machine. I want them to work in the tunnel,” said Annie who lives in HSR Layout with her husband, a techie.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Bangalore / by Aparjita Ray, TNN / April 29th, 2016