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Gourmet gig at Guwahati

  • Mother's Kitchen, Paltan Bazar serves veg platter
    Mother's Kitchen, Paltan Bazar serves veg platter

Guwahati is emerging to be a food capital of world cuisine in Assam. New year is a good time to take stock of the old tastes and the new flavours of the month. It is a paradise for food lovers of all denominations. Some of my all time favourites which provides the comfort food defining the essence of the city are chicken rolls at J-14, momos at silk route, Chinese cuisine at China town and Chung fa, Assamese thali at Paradise, Hilsa Fish Curry and Joha Rice at Maa Manasha Hotel in Pandu, Chicken Patties and pastries at Eggs O tic, South Indian food at Woodlands, Unlimited Marwari Thali at Fancy Bazar, Naga food at CBCNEI canteen, Smoked pork at Naga Kitchen, Biryani at Sunflowers, Slice of Heaven and Food Ex, Pizza and Continental Food at (erstwhile) Pizzeria, Puri and sabji, kachori at Uzan Bazar Morning Shop which is open only till 7.30am.

Some favourite during the 90s were Goja and nimbu chai at Cotton College Canteen, Rolls at Feeds Pan Bazar, Chow at Reboti, Sweets at Gauhati Dairy, Queens cake and stuffed parathas at Shaikh Brothers, street food in front of Cotton college, Indian delights in The Dhaba, Momos at Momo ghar and Ambees. Such flavours are slowly fading in this city of possibilities devoured by world chains and fast food joints popping at every corner of the city. Even pan was a favourite cuisine in Ambari pan shops which served pan in style. Mishtimukh in Ulubari, Jagadamba in Silpukhuri, Rookman Sweets in Fancy Bazar were some of the old time sweet shops catering to the city’s sweet flavours. Birthdays and parties were incomplete without bakery items from Diamond Bakery, Kamrup Bakery, Shaikh Brothers, Lakhi Cabin and Eggs-O-Tic. Popularity of food joints in Guwahati was through word of mouth communication, proximity from home, schools, colleges and workplaces and most importantly due to company of friends and family. Sometimes we also enjoyed promoting the budding food entrepreneurs who happened to be from the family and friends’ circles as well.

In recent years some tastes have remained with me worth mentioning for the New Year cheer. Assamese Fish Tenga, Pork with bamboo shoot and Aromatic Joha Rice at Delicacy, Maihang and Khorika, Afghani Chicken and Shawarma rolls at Grill Republic, Shami Kebab Rolls at Little Chef, Kebabs of all kinds at Mughal Garden, Veg momos at Kiranshree, Chicken Quiche at Fab India Cafe, Chicken Voluvent and Mini Brownie at Loyans, Momos and meal combos at Hotpot, Idli, dhokla and sweets at JBs, Sitaphal Ice cream at Naturals, Dahi puchkas at Mirch Masala, Jalebi at Rookmans and Kanha Sweets, Chocolate Coconut barfi at Gokul Sweets, Moroccan Mint tea with hummus and pita breads at Mocha, Chocolate Waffle at Fab India Cafe, Tuna Sandwich and momos at Brown Bean Cafe, Dal Makhni at Three Guys Restaurant, Filter Coffee, idli platter and pav bhaji at Dosa Plaza, Bengali Food at Kasturi, 16 Ballygunj and O Maago, Continental delights at Ziya and Terra Maya, Cup cakes and Baked Savoury at The Bakehouse, Spinach Corn Sandwiches at Repose, Chinese soups, egg wrapped rice and any veg or non veg main course with caramel walnuts at Red Pepper Hot Chilli, Railway Mutton Curry, Dab Chingri and Assamese delights at Ambrosia and very recently flavourful aromatic tea, tuna sandwiches and amazing host at Back Bencher’s Cafe, Rajgarh Link Road.

Some food places are more memorable for their ambiance, location and sense of space. The Zouk Cafe in Beltola, Mocha, Mother’s Love, Red Pepper Hot Chilli, The Bakehouse, Eggs-O-Tic -The Pastry Shop, Maihang, Crackling Mustard, Cafe Coffee day at Housefed and Dighalipukhuri, Leaves and Weaves at The Guwahati Address, Shanghai Salsa, Terra Maya, Strawberry Fields, Frequency, Fab India Cafe, Alfresco, Green Wood Resort, Food Villa.

All these places have interesting menus and price charts which fluctuate yearly. Some have been experimental with flavours, some with the items and very few with their location. Gourmet cuisines are also delightful in the regular restaurants inside the major hotels like Pragati Manor, Landmark, Gateway Grandeur, Radisson Blu, Taj Vivanta and Brahmaputra Ashok in Guwahati city but such places cater to a few. I am happy that variety is the spice of life and Guwahati has a range of aromas to offer apart from the latest craze of multi-national brands like Pizza Hut, KFC, Subway and Dominos which dominate branded, mono-cultured food tastes at reasonable rates with year round offers for all pockets.

Rather an early morning tea, kettle pitha on the roadside, samosas and patichapta sweets with tea near latasil, rice meal near kharguli for Rs 40 and momos from the mobile vans, handi biryani and pakoras from the roadside, chana, muri, peanut and bhutta from every nook and corner, home cooked comfort food from small nameless joints actually fuels Guwahati everyday with the thrills of a city. Hope this New Year finds you with good food, authentic flavours and awesome taste till then let me dig into my morsel of crunchy cuisine.

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Foodie and Travel Writer.

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Railways’ electrification may result in losses

17 Feb 2009 - 7:02pm | Daya Nath Singh
Indian Railways have planned early electrification of entire tracks in the country without imagining the problems to be faced by the people in future. So long the government’s scheme to electrify all the villages of the country is not properly implemented and most of villages are still waiting to see the light of electricity. Side effects of the Railway’s hasty decisions may put the country in great problems. The government should re-think about the plans and programmes and should not try to implement it for political gains.

It may be noted that every electric locomotive of 4.5 MW (6000 HP) deprives 15,000 households of their electricity needs and 14.7 percent villages in the country are yet to get electricity.

Every electric locomotive of 4.5 MW introduces 4,500 highly inefficient small generating sets, which cause more pollution and consume six times more fuel than a diesel locomotive.

World’s modern and advance economies like USA and Canada have less than one percent electrification against Indian Railway’s 41.7 percent.

All profit making Railways of the world are having predominately diesel traction, while all loss making Railways are predominantly electric traction Railways.

Diesel loco hauled passenger trains are 41 percent cheaper than electric hauled trains.

Electric traction requires huge capital investment of Rs.63 crore per loco in overhead wires, Transmission lines, and power plants as against Rs.3 crore only on diesel traction.

Energy bill of Railways for the year 1998-99 was more than Rs.2800 crore for hauling about sixty percent freight traffic and fifty percent passenger traffic against fuel bill of about Rs1500 crore for the balance BG traffic.

As per Executive Directors’ Committee set up by the Board in 1996, the Break even level is 49.72 GMT (Gross Million Tonnes) per annum. Sections currently being electrified have 5-10 GMT of traffic density.

For the price of 100 energy units (kWh) one could buy10.9 liters of HSD in 1963 against 41.2 lures in 1999. This amounts to a 16 times hike in diesel prices while electricity prices have gone up by 60 times in the same period.

Gujral Committee of 1990 recommended 214 kilometers of electrification per year. Current rate is 2.33 times.

Electrification projects are being justified based on inflated rate of return (ROR) worked out on the basis of wrong assumptions- benefits are overstated and costs understated.

As per Railway Board’s norms, projects with a minimum ROR of 14 percent should be undertaken (Railways are borrowing money through IRFC at about 17-18 percent). Electrification projects such as Ludhiana-Amritsar and Patna-Gaya which are now being undertaken are having RORs of only 4 percent and 6 percent respectively, even as per calculations made by the Central Organization for Railway Electrification taking wrong data. The actual RORs calculated on the basis of correct figures for expenditure as well as benefits turn out to the highly negative. In the case of Ludhiana-Amritsar electrification project, Planning Commission had also commented that such projects are likely to eat into the national wealth rather than generate additional wealth.

No post-complexion evaluation of benefits was ever done on any of the electrification projects. World Bank report of 1995 concluded that the rate of return on two of the busiest sections of Indian Railways i.e. Vijaywada-Balharshah and Jhansi-Itarsi was on two percent and nine percent as against the projections of 41 percent and 23 percent respectively.

Fifty three percent of total price of HSD goes to the government exchequer in the form of various levies-Customs/Excise, Cess etc.

If the losses of SEBs are amortized, the cost of energy to the consumer including Railways will be much higher.

Indian Railways are losing Rs.1900 crore per year on account of electrification, Rs.600 crore per year as running losses (due to higher operating costs on electric traction as compared to diesel traction), besides Rs1300 crore per year as the interest on capital cost of electrification.

Unviable electrification is resulting in crippling of railways fiancés. The operating ratio (expenditure divided by earnings) for Indian Railways, which was 82.5 per cent in 1995-96 has deteriorated to 98.8 percent for 2000-01 (as budgeted) even while Railways will be deferring their dividend payment to the Central Government during the year. In case dividend is paid, operating ratio would be beyond 100.

When electrification projects have ceased to be justified based on breakeven level of traffic of 49.7 GMT as well as 14 percent ROR, other reasons are being given to undertake these projects. For instance, electrification of Ludhiana-Amritsar section is sought to be justified for security reasons. The truth is that overhead wires as well as other traction installations, such as sub-stations etc; are highly vulnerable to attacks by terrorists. Similarly, electrification of Patna-Gaya section is ostensibly being done to cater for suburban passenger traffic. This section, which is a single line section, hardly has any traffic and carries only five pairs of passenger trains everyday and just one goods train in a day. Diesel traction in any case is cheaper for passenger services.

Contrary to popular perception electric traction is more polluting than diesel traction.

The ‘green house’ gases emission in case of power generation from coal is 26 percent higher than that for a diesel locomotive for the same amount of power generated (UNDP study). Considering the transmission losses associated with the distribution of power, electric traction is about 65 percent more polluting as compared to diesel traction.

Generation of one MW of power requires ten tones of coal everyday. Since coal in India has an ash content of 40 percent, this results in generation of 4 tonnes of coal ash everyday. Thus, one electric locomotive requiring 4.5 MW of power is responsible for generating of 18 tonnes of coal ash everyday.

NEC clears Rs 13 lakh cr Vision 2020 for NE development

14 May 2008 - 2:35pm | editor
The North Eastern Council has finalised the roadmap for development of the region with the Vision 2020 at its plenary session at Agartala.

Aiming at rapid development at per with other states, the docoument has featured maximizing self governance, good governance and poverty elevation, capacity building of the people, infrastructure and connectivity development.

The North Eastern Council is in the need of a huge Rs 13 lakh crore to ensure all round development of the region in the next 12 years as it is there in the vision 2020 document. The document is being finalised after a series of sectoral summits and meetings undertaken during last three years.

NEC chairman and DONER minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said restoring the region's position in the national importance is the aim of the document and it would require a sum of Rs 13 lakh crore to realize the cherished goal by 2020.

Talking to reports hours after it was finalised, Mr Aiyar said the Centre the state governments of the region will go neck and neck through this vision document to ensure rapid realization of the goal.

For Tripura Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar its a historic one. He said that the main aim is to remove the disparity still remained in the society.

Tripura Governor Dinesh Nandan Sahay on behalf of the governors of the region congratulated all concern who contributed in formulating the document.

Wild tusker kills 1 more in Udalguri

20 Aug 2014 - 6:53pm | Jayanta Kumar Das

One Surya Gauria (45) has been trampled by a loner wild tusker at Dangalbasti near No.2 Ghagra (Hatigarh) on today afternoon at 4 pm while trying to chase away the wild tusker. It needs mention that wild elephants have so far killed 16 person and injured many more in Udalguri district during this year.Elephants on the Line and Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society of the district appeal government to take early preventing measures so as to minimize casuality of both man and elephant. In the meantime it has been reported by villagers that one young wild elephant ( age 7-8 years) has been seen limping on back foot due to injury.