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West Bengal

Mamata meets Modi with sandesh, seeks his help

Meeting the Prime Minister in New Delhi on Wednesday after a 15-month gap amid heightened political speculations, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged Narendra Modi to revive certain stalled projects in the state.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee calling on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on September 18, 2019.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee calling on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on September 18, 2019.
Meeting the Prime Minister here on Wednesday after a 15-month gap amid heightened political speculations, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged Narendra Modi to revive certain stalled projects in the state.
 
Terming the meeting with the Prime Minister good, Mamata said changing the name of the state topped her agenda. "We discussed changing the name of West Bengal to Bangla and he promised to do something about it."
 
The state has been trying to change the name of the state primarily to get central assistance early as West Bengal's turn comes right at the end.
 
The stalled projects taken up at the meeting related to railways and mining, and disinvestment of certain public sector units also figured at the meeting.
 
She also invited the Prime Minister for inauguration of the coal project in Birbhum.
 
Mamata carried a bouquet of yellow flowers and multiple packets of sandesh for Modi from a well known Kolkata shop.
 
Interestingly, during the heat and dust of the 2019 general elections, she had said, "I'll send Modi roshogollas made of mud, pebbles so that he loses his teeth".
 
The meeting comes at an interesting time, just a day after Modi's 69th birthday that drew criticism and formation of a 14-member Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) crack team to trace Rajeev Kumar, former Kolkata top cop and Mamata favourite, in the Rs 2,500 crore Saradha chit fund scam.
 
Bengal Congress chief Somen Mitra has accused Banerjee of making desperate attempts to ensure an "escape route" for Kumar.
 
"It's anybody's guess as why is she seeking a meeting with Modi all of a sudden," Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP's Bengal in-charge, said, recalling Banerjee's sharp criticism of Modi during the 2019 general elections.
 
IANS
 
 

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Extremely severe cyclone Fani to hit Odisha coast on Friday afternoon

The extremely severe cyclonic storm, Fani, over westcentral Bay of Bengal, was very likely to cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri, on Friday afternoon, the India Meteorological Department said on Thursday.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm, Fani, over westcentral Bay of Bengal, was very likely to cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri, tomorrow afternoon, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said here today.
 
The IMD has already issued a cyclone warning for the coastal areas of Odisha and West Bengal and Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh.
 
In a bulletin issued at 1230 hours today, the IMD said Fani had moved further north-northeastwards with a speed of about 16 kmph in the previous six hours and lay centred at 1130 hours IST near latitude 16.7°N and longitude 84.8°E, about 360 km south-southwest of Puri (Odisha), 190 km south-southeast of Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and 550 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal). 
 
"It is very likely to move north-northeastwards and cross Odisha Coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri by the afternoon of 3rd May with maximum sustained wind speed of 170-180 kmph gusting to 200 kmph," the bulletin said.
 
The cyclone is being tracked by Doppler Weather Radars Vishakhapatnam & Machilipatnam.
 
The bulletin said light to moderate rainfall would occur over most places in North Andhra Pradesh with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram districts and isolated heavy to extremely heavy falls (>20 cm) over Srikakulam district today.
 
There could be heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over Srikakulam district tomorrow, it said.
 
In  south coastal and adjoining interior Odisha, the IMD said there could be light to moderate rainfall at most places today, with heavy to very heavy rainfall and extremely heavy falls over Ganjam & Gajapati districts at isolated places.
 
"It is likely to increase with moderate rainfall at most places and heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places over coastal Odisha and adjoining districts of interior Odisha on 3rd. Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places over Balasore, Mayurbhanj districts of north Odisha on 4th May," it said.
 
The bulletin also forecast light to light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places very likely over coastal and adjoining districts of West Bengal tomorrow; and heavy to very falls at isolated places over Gangetic West Bengal on May 4.
 
"Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy falls at isolated places over sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim on 4th May," it said.
 
The bulletin said Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya would experience light to moderate rainfall at most places, with isolated heavy to very heavy falls on May 4 and 5. There could be isolated extremely heavy falls over Assam and Meghalaya on May 4.
 
There could also light to moderate rainfall at many places over Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura on May 4, with isolated heavy falls.
 
The bulletin said gale winds, with speed reaching 180-190 kmph, gusting to 210 kmph, were very likely to prevail over westcentral Bay of Bengal around the system centre during the next 24 hours and decrease thereafter.
 
It said squally winds, with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, were very likely to prevail along and off north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Coasts and become gale wind, speed reaching 60-70 kmph gusting to 85 kmph, from tonight. It is very likely to become 170-180 kmph, gusting to 200 kmph, along and off south Odisha and adjoining north Andhra Pradesh (Srikakulam district) coasts; and 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph along and off remaining districts of coastal Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh (Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram Districts) by tomorrow forenoon for the subsequent 12 hours and decrease thereafter.
 
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"Squally wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph is very likely along & off West Bengal coast from 2nd May evening. It is very likely become gale wind speed reaching 60-70 kmph gusting to 85 kmph from 3rd May afternoon and become 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph from 4th May early morning for subsequent 12 hours and decrease thereafter," it said.
 
The sea condition will be phenomenal over westcentral Bay of Bengal, off north Andhra Pradesh coasts, till tomorrow and over northwest Bay of Bengal off Odisha and West Bengal till May 4.
 
Sea conditions are very likely to be very rough to high off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, along and off south Andhra Pradesh coasts till May 3.
 
The bulletin warned that storm surge of 1.5 metre height above astronomical tide was very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha at the time of landfall.
 
Fishermen were advised not to venture into deep sea areas and those out in deep sea in the above aeas were advised to return to the coasts.
 
The bulletin said the cyclone could cause extensive damage to kutcha houses and old pucca and badly managed pucca structures in Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha.
 
It said there could be extensive uprooting of communication and  power poles. There could also be disruption of rail and road links and extensive damage to standing crops, plantations and orchards. Large boats and ships may get torn from their moorings.
 
The IMD suggested total suspension of fishing operations, extensive evacuation of people from coastal areas, and diversion or suspension of rail and road traffic. People in affected areas have been advised to remain indoors.
 
The cyclone could also cause damage, on a lesser scale, in Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Balasore districts of Odisha and east and west Medinipur, south and north 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogli, Kolkata districts of West Bengal and Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh, the bulletin added.
 
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Opposition slams Modi government at Mamata rally, calls for BJP ouster

Leaders of more than 20 opposition parties attended a massive rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and joined her in giving a clarion call for the ouster of the BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre in the coming elections.
 
TMC rally: Opposition unites in a show of strength
Leaders of more than 20 opposition parties attended a massive rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chairperson Mamata Banerjee and joined her in giving a clarion call for the ouster of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre in the coming elections.
 
All the leaders who were present at the "United India Rally", which attracted thousands of people, spoke of the problems being faced by the poor and vulnerable sections across the country because of the present regime's policies and measures and urged the people to vote it out in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Ms. Banerjee also said the question about the Prime Ministerial candidate could be decided later, stressing the immediate task was for all of them to come together and oust the BJP from power.
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not attend the rally but sent their representatives. Mr. Gandhi also sent a message in which he extended his support to "Mamata Di" on the show of unity and hoped that they send a powerful message of a united India together.
 
"Across India, there are powerful forces afoot. Forces that are fanned by the anger and disappointment of hundreds of millions of Indians who have seen through the false promises and lies peddled by the Modi government," he said in the message.
 
"These forces are moved by the hope of a new tomorrow; a tomorrow filled with the idea of an India in which  the voice of every man, woman and child will be heard and respected no matter what their religion, economic status or region.
 
"The entire opposition is united in our belief that true nationalism and development can only be defended on the tested pillars of democracy, social justice and secularism, ideas that the BJP and Mr. Modi are intent on destroying.
 
"We commend the great people of Bengal who have historically been at the forefront of defending our ideas," he said.
 
Those present at the rally included former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) chief H D Deve Gowda, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Singhvi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, Karnataka Chief Minister and JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmy Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav,  former Union Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang.
 
Others present included Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) chief Sharad Yadav, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M K Stalin,  Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, former BJP Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Ram Jethmalani, dissident BJP MP and actor Shatrughna Sinha, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren.
 
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"A new dawn is coming. We have taken the pledge to work together," Ms. Banerjee told the huge crowd.
 
"Some people are trying to destroy the country. As Arvind Kejriwal said, what Pakistan could not do in 70 years, the Government at Centre managed to do in just five years. They have managed to drive a wedge between communities. They have destroyed all the institutions. They have started politics of hate. They have destroyed the country’s economy," she said.
 
"Jan Dhan, NPA, Rafale, insurance are big scams. There are other big scams as well. Those who are dishonest are preaching about integrity. They are talking about honesty? How much money did they have five years ago and how did their wealth increase? I don’t want to make personal comments but they initiated it. I believe in politics of courtesy but they do not care about it. They crossed the Lakxman Rekha. They tried to implicate Sonia ji, Lalu ji, Akhilesh, Mayawati ji and even me. Why will they expect to be spared?" she asked.
 
"People are asking who will be the leader. There is no dearth of leaders here. Their party is leaderless, so there is just one Prime Minister. In our gathbandhan, we all are leaders, we all are workers, we all are the subjects and we all are the kings. This is democracy. We will later finalise who will be the Prime Minister. The time has not yet come," she said.
 
"Enough of Achhe Din, it is time to bid goodbye to BJP. It is time for change at Centre. For the sake of youths, farmers, labourers, and people of the country, we have to defeat the BJP," shhe said.
 
"We are against divisive politics. We are against hate. We do not want bloodlust. We are against discrimination. We want constructive politics, not destructive agenda.
 
"Hindu stands for sacrifice, Muslims represent integrity. Christians stand for love and Sikhs represent validaan. This is our country. A person who can work for all, without discrimination, will be the leader of the nation," she said.
 
Addressing the rally, Congress leader Kharge appealed to all parties to unite to save the Constitution and democracy. He said the BJP had promised two crore jobs every year, but has only helped its corporate friends.
 
"A rainbow of 22 parties is replacing dark clouds hovering over the country," Mr. Abhishek Singhvi said.
 
Mr. Chandrababu Naidu said Mr. Modi and BJP president Amit Shah had betrayed the nation. He said the public mandate that brought them to power also had the strength to overthrow them.
 
"If BJP tries to victimize our leaders and harass the public, it will pay a heavy price. We will fight fearlessly to save democracy," he said.
 
"All the leaders forming the Mahagathbandhan have one ambition, ‘Save India, Save Democracy'. Since coming to power, the BJP govt has used every strategy to divide the people. We have united India and a new Prime Minister will rise out of this union," he said.
 
Mr. Kumaraswamy said the government at the Centre was headed by "undemocratic persons". He said demonetisation had hit the poor in the country hard, especially in the rural areas. He said it was sad that the Union Government had turned a deaf ear to the needs and woes of the people.
 
Mr. Stalin said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be the second war of independence. He said Mr. Modi was sure that he would not get a second term as Prime Minister and that is way he was fiercely attacking the Opposition at every opportunity.
 
"He is afraid of our unity. We must come together to protect India," he said.
 
Dr. Farooq Abdullah said there was a need to save India from the BJP, which  was dividing people on religious lines. He said the parties present must fight the elections together, pointing out that the question of who should become the Prime Minister could be decided later.
 
Mr. Tejashwi Yadav said the opposition parties were united in their diversity and would not be scared by the government's intimidation tactics.
 
Mr. Arun Shourie said no Government had said so many lies or undermined institutions as the Modi regime had done. "We all should have one aim, of removing BJP from the Centre," he said. He said the Opposition must ensure a single candidate against the BJP in all constitutuencies and urged them to hold rallies in every corner of the country.
 
Mr. Yashwant Sinha said it was not about removing one man from power but about coming together to defeat an ideology.
 
Shatrughan Sinha said people kept asking him why he spoke against the BJP when he was still in the party. "The mood of the nation is for 'parivartan' (change). People want a new leader," he said.
 
"If speaking truth is rebellion then you should consider me a rebel. Along with truth, I also don't compromise with principles," he said.
 
Mr. Jayant Chaudhary said Ms. Banerjee had united the Opposition and said it was imperative to get rid of Mr. Modi from the Centre.
 
Hardik Patel, who was invited to be the first speaker, said, "Subhas Chandra Bose had given a slogan to fight against ‘goro’ (Britishers), we are fighting against ‘choro’ (thieves),” he said.
 
Mr. Jignesh Mevani said the country was facing an unprecedented crisis with the exploitation of the poor, minorities and Dalits under the present regime.
 
Mr. Pu Lalduhoma of Zoram Nationalist Party of Mizoram said minorities felt unsafe under the BJP-led NDA government.
 
Mr. Hemant Soren said the BJP must be uprooted from not just the Centre but the States, too.
 
Thousands of people turned up for the rally. The TMC put up flexes and posters with photographs of the visiting leaders on roads leading to the venue of the rally from the airport.
 
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Kolkata bridge collapse: Rescue operations on, suo motu case lodged

Rescue operations continue on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier, even as a suo motu case has been lodged against the persons responsible for the accident. Two persons are still reported missing.
 
Kolkata bridge collapse: rescue efforts on
 
 
Rescue operations continue on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier, even as a suo motu case has been lodged against the persons responsible for the accident. Two persons are still reported missing.
 
A part of the Majherhat Bridge between Taratala and Mominpur collapsed around 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday in south Kolkata, crushing a person to death and injuring 19 others.
 
"Two persons are still missing and a suo motu case has been lodged under IPC 304 and 308 against responsible persons," police said.
 
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), fire brigade and personnel of disaster management teams are at the spot.
 
Cranes have been deployed and gas cutters are being used for the rescue operation. Three columns of army personnel are also present at the spot.
 
"Our team is still working on the rescue. Overnight and this morning, we tried to dig holes in the concrete slab decks that caved in to find out whether anyone is still trapped underneath.
 
"Cameras are also being used to find out what remains below the debris. Removing the rubble would take more time," a member of the rescue team said on Wednesday.
 
The West Bengal government has initiated a probe into the incident. "Investigations are going on. At this point, we cannot come to any conclusion regarding the possible reasons behind the accident," a member of the forensic team said.
 
Pedestrians and commuters in buses and cars who were on the collapsed structure were rescued.
 
The bridge was the main connector between central and southwest part of the city. Due to the partial collapse of the bridge, traffic has been diverted. Tram services on some routes have been withdrawn, a Kolkata Traffic Control official said.
 
Goods vehicles' movement has been restricted on some of the arterial roads between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
 
State government will pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Soumen Bagh, who died in the accident.
 
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State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said on Tuesday that heavy construction work of the metro project beside the collapsed bridge could have weakened its pillars.
 
City metro railway authority, however, ruled out any such possibility.
 
Amid blame game over the partial collapse of the bridge, the Eastern Railway said it was not conducting any maintenance work at the accident site.
 
However, experts said the bridge was very old and as such structural defect or use of inferior quality material cannot be cited as the reason for the collapse.
 
They said the bridge has been withstanding heavy vehicles for more than 40 years and that the only reason that may have triggered the collapse could be "lack of maintenance".
 
According to a state official, the 40-year-old bridge was constructed by the Kolkata Port Trust and maintained by State Public Works Department.
 
However, a Kolkata Port Trust official said it does not have any records that show the bridge was constructed by it.
 
IANS
 

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Heavy turnout of voters in first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam

More than 80.92 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assembly of West Bengal and 78 percent in Assam amidst tight security on Monday.
More than 80.92 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assembly of West Bengal and 78 percent in Assam amidst tight security today.
 
Polling was by and large peaceful in both the states, with no major untoward incident reported from anywhere, official osurces said.
 
In West Bengal, voting was held today in 18 constituencies in Phase IA of polling. They include six seats in Paschim Medinipur, nine in Purulia and three in Bankura district.
 
These constituencies have a total electorate of 40,09,171 voters, including 20,47,202 men and 19,57,453 women. There are 4500 service electors in these constituencies.
 
There were a total of 133 candidates in these constituencies, including 11 women.
 
The Election Commission had set up 4945 polling stations and made elaborate arrangements to ensure a smooth poll in these constituencies.
 
As many as 65 constituencies went to the polls in the first phase of voting in Assam. There were 566 candidates in all, including 44 women. Prominent candidates in the fray included Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress, who is seeking a fourth conseccutive term, and Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
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16 dead, 63 injured as under-construction flyover collapses in Kolkata

At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata on Thursday.
 
Kolkata: 10 dead in under-construction bridge collapse
 
At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata today.
 
Police sources told NetIndian that the 16 dead included 14 men and two women, all of whom were crushed under the tonnes of concrete and steel that came crashing on them around 1215 pm today without any warning.
 
They said nearly 60 others had been taken to various hospitals in the city for treatment of injuries.
 
Officials feared the number of casualties could increase as search and rescue teams made their way through the mangled steel and concrete through the night.
 
Army personnel and teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) joined the local police, the fire brigade, other agencies and hundreds of volunteers in a massive rescue effort with specialised equipment, sniffer dogs and so on.
 
Several people were feared trapped below the debris of the bridge and frantic efforts were being made to reach them without loss of time. As people dug through the rubble, they found cars, taxis and other vehicles trapped under the concrete.
 
Hundreds of people of the locality and passers-by rushed to the spot and began trying to remove the debris with their bare hands, using whatever equipment they could lay their hands on, even as the authorities made arrangements to rush cranes, gas cutters and other machinery as well as ambulancesto the scene. 
 
Scores of witnesses told journalists at the scene that they heard a loud rumble and then a massive thud as the huge bridge suddenly came down without any warning.
 
Footage from a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera in the area showed people going about their normal business and traffic moving as usual under the flyover when it suddenly came crashing down.
 
Traffic in the entire area came to a total standstill and there were traffic snarls in several nearby areas as a consequence.
 
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was campaigning for the state assembly elections outside Kolkata, rushed back to the state capital and visited the scene of the tragedy.
 
She said stringent action would be taken against officials of the construction company, the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Limited, or any others found guilty of negligence.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in the United States on an official visit, took stock of the situation and expressed shock and grief over the incident.
 
“Shocked and saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation and rescue operations. 
 
"My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was touring West Bengal as part of the BJP's election campaign, asked the Director General, NDRF, Mr. O.P.Singh, to rush rescue teams to the spot.
 
An official press release said seven NDRF teams had been deputed to the site and two more teams were being mobilized for the rescue operations.
 
"I am deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident," he added.
 
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Modi invokes spirit of Team India; says Centre, states must work together

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.
 
Delhi alone will not run nation: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.
 
Addressing a public meeting after dedicating to the nation the 2.5 million tonne modernised and expanded IISCO steel plant at Burnpur in West Bengal, he mentioned various instances of cooperative federalism of recent months, including the setting up of the NITI Aayog, and the devolution of additional revenues to the States through acceptance of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. 
 
He also mentioned that the decades-old land boundary issue between India and Bangladesh had been successfully resolved through the same spirit of Team India, with all state governments concerned and political parties coming together to support a solution of the problem.
 
He said the nation would move ahead faster when the Centre and the states worked together.
 
"Sadly Centre-State relations were tensed for a long time. I have been Chief Minister for a long time and I know that such behaviour will not be good. We have brought in a change, we focused on co-operative federalism. Delhi alone will not run the nation," he said.
 
"India will not change without a 'Team India'. The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers are one team that will take India ahead. The nation is bigger than any party," he said.
 
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Mr Modi said the time had now come for India to address the issue of "geographical imbalance" along with the economic and social imbalances. He said that eastern India, too, should develop as fast as western India is developing, and for that, development of West Bengal is essential. 
 
"The eastern part of India has immense potential. The people are also skilled," he said.
 
He said District Mineral Foundations would be set up to help speed up progress and welfare of the poor in mineral-rich districts. He said that, within a year, the atmosphere of gloom in the country had lifted, and all global rating agencies were now agreed that India is among the world's fastest growing economies.
 
"A year ago the world had a different perception about India. Now the world says in one voice that India is a fast growing economy," he added.
 
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Modi "deeply concerned", asks for report on Nadia nun's gang-rape, Hisar church attack

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
 
"PM is deeply concerned about the incidents in Hisar, Haryana and Nadia, West Bengal," the Prime MInister's Office (PMO) said on micro-blogging site Twitter today.
 
"PMO has asked for immediate report on facts & action taken regarding the incidents in Haryana and West Bengal," it added.
 
A 71-year-old nun was allegedly gang-raped by dacoits at a convent in Nadia district in the early hours of Saturday. The incident has triggered protests in West Bengal and the state government has ordered a probe by the CID in the case.
 
In the second incident, a church under construction at Kaimri village near Hisar in Haryana was vandalised by a group of people on Sunday.
 
Both the incidents have evoked widespread condemnation across the country, with the Christian community expressing serious concern about the safety of churches and other institutions.
 
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Polling underway for 41 seats in final phase of LS elections

Polling was underway on Monday amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
Ninth phase of 16th LS polls underway
Polling was underway today amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
Thousands of voters turned out to exercise their franchise in these constituencies and long queues of voters  were seen at many polling stations despite the sweltering heat,
 
All eyes were, however, on Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the second constituency from which BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is trying to make his maiden entry into the Lok Sabha. His main rivals in Varanasi are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal and local Congress leader Ajay Rai.
 
Mr Modi is also in the fray from Vadodara in Gujarat, where polling was held on April 30.
 
Around 1.6 million people are eligible to cast their votes in Varanasi in what is clearly the keenest contest of the 2014 elections. There were long queues of voters outside polling stations in most areas of the city.
 
The authorities have deployed around 45,000 security personnel to ensure free and fair polls in the constituency. More than 12,000 polling booths were put under surveillance with CCTV cameras and proceedings at more than 300 polling stations were being videographed.
 
The Election Commission has deployed Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar as a special observer for the constituency following complaints of bias against the local election officials by the BJP. Several senior police officers of Uttar Pradesh are also camping in the city.
 
The constituencies that voted today included 18 in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in West Bengal and six in Bihar. They have a total of 66.13 million voters and there were 606 candidates in the fray.
 
The first phase of polling in the long drawn out election process was held on April 7. Counting of votes for all constituencies will be taken up on May 16 and all results are expected by that evening. Two members in the 545-member Lok Sabha are nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community.
 
Other prominent candidates in the fray in Uttar Pradesh include Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav from Azamgarh and UP Legislative Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey from Doomariaganj.
 
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Union Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh is contesting from Kushinagar and popular Bhojpuri film actor Ravi Kishan from Jaunpur, both on the Congress ticket. Veteran BJP leader Kalraj Mishra is contesting the Deoria seat. Quami Ekta Dal (QED) leader Mukhtar Ansari, who withdrew from the contest in Varanasi and later announced his support for the Congress, is in the contest from Ghosi.
 
In Bihar, the prominent candidates include well-known Hindi filmmaker Prakash Jha, who is trying his luck yet again, this time as a Janata Dal (United) candidate, and former Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
 
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has fielded former Union Ministers Sudip Bandopadhyay, Dinesh Trivedi in Barrackpore and Sougata Roy in Dum Dum and actors Dipak Adhikari (Dev) from Ghatal and Tapas Paul in Krishinagar.
 
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has put up Ms Subhashini Ali against Mr Trivedi in Barrackpore, while the BJP has fielded well-known magician P C Sorcar (Junior) in Barasat. West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury is the party's candidate in Berhampore.
 
The TMC had won 14 of the 17 seats that went to the polls today in West Bengal in the 2009 elections, while the CPI, SUCI and Congress had won one each. The TMC and the Congress were in an alliance then. The CPI (M) had not won a single seat from these in 2009.
 
There are a total of 328 candidates, including 18 women, in the 18 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, which have a total electorate of 31.6 million voters.
 
In Bihar, more than 8.8 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the six constituences which have a total of 90 candidates in the fray.
 
The 17 constituencies that went to the polls in West Bengal have a total electorate of  25.61 million and 188 candidates in the fray.
 
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Golf: Ridhima grabs chances on final hole to win fifth title on Hero WPG Tour

Ridhima Dilawari
Ridhima Dilawari
Ridhima Dilawari managed to keep her nerves steady in the closing stages to claim her fifth title of the season as she won the 15th and final leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour  at the Royal Calcutta Golf Course on Friday.
 
Ridhima, who trailed Diksha Dagar by three shots after 36 holes, had three birdies between 12th and 15th and then parred the rest for a round of two-under 70. Ridhima totalled one-under 215 as Dagar (74) finished second.
 
The win took Ridhima to the second place on the Hero Women’s Order of Merit at the end of the season. The Order of Merit was won by Gaurika Bishnoi, who topped the honours despite having to miss the final event on account of medical reasons.
 
She earned Rs. 11,09433 for her efforts while Gaurika won Rs. 11,84,100 and Amandeep was third with Rs. 10,55,933. They were the only ones to cross the Rs. 10 lakh mark for the year.
 
Dagar, who had an error-filled day, actually started with birdies on first and fourth. She then faltered with a double bogey on Par-4 seventh and another bogey on ninth. At that stage, Diksha was still two shots ahead of Ridhima, who turned in even par as against Diksha’s one-over.
 
On the back nine, the duo playing together bogeyed the 10th. Ridhima birdied the 11th to reduce the lead to one. The drama continued as both parred 12th and 13th and then both birdied Par-4 14th and Par-5 15th. Two more pars each brought them to the 18th tee, where Diksha held a one-shot lead.
 
On the final hole, Diksha hit out of bounds on the left side, while Ridhima stayed calm and parred out. The second double bogey of the final day saw Dagar drop from one ahead to one behind and handed Ridhima a fifth title in 2019.
 
Ridhima’s whopping fifth success this season is the best since Vani Kapoor registered seven wins in 2016. 
 
Amateur Pranavi Urs shot three-over 75 and finished in a tie for third with Vani Kapoor (76), while Tvesa Malik (74) was fifth and Amandeep Drall (78) slipped to sixth at 12-over 228.
 
Astha Madan (70) had four birdies against two bogeys for the day’s best card but following 79-80 on the first two days, she was only tied seventh with Khushi Khanijau (74).
 
Gauri Karhade (76), who had one win in her rookie season, was ninth and Thailand’s P Supakchaya (80) was tenth.
 
As Gaurika, Ridhima and Amandeep took the top three places on the Hero Order of Merit, Neha Tripathi (Rs. 9,47,583), Gursimar Badwal (Rs.7,85,733) and Tvesa Malik (Rs.7,34, 334) took the fourth to sixth places at the end of the season.
 
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Golf: Diksha pulls away to open 3-shot lead in 15th leg of Hero WPG Tour

Diksha Dagar
Diksha Dagar
Diksha Dagar pulled away from the rest of the field with two birdies in the last three holes in the 15th and final leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club on Thursday. 
 
Dagar, looking for her first win on the domestic Tour as a professional, is now in sole lead. She carded her second straight one-under 71 to get to two-under 142 and open up a three-shot lead over overnight co-leader Ridhima Dilawari (74). Ridhima, looking for her fifth win this year, is one-over 145 for 36 holes.
 
Diksha won the final leg of the 2017 season, but as an amateur. She turned pro at the start of this year and won the Women’s South African Open on the Ladies European Tour, but she is yet to win on the Indian Pro Tour this year. 
 
In her three previous starts this season, she was third in the first leg, Tied-second in the 13th leg and was fourth last week in the 14th leg.
 
Vani Kapoor (72) moved into third place at 146 and was one shot ahead of amateur Pranavi Urs (72) at 147. Amandeep Drall had an up-and-down round with three birdies, four bogeys and a double in her 75, and is fifth at 150. 
 
Dagar opened with a birdie on the first and then dropped bogeys on eighth and 12th, but birdied 16th and 18th for a 71. Dilawari birdied fourth but dropped bogeys on fifth, sixth and 11th for her 74.
 
Tvesa Malik, the second most successful player on the domestic Tour this year with three wins, had a terrible start and never recovered from it. She began bogey, bogey, double-bogey to be four-over through the first three holes. She did not drop any more bogeys and picked one birdie on the Par-3 13th for a total of 75, to go with her first-round 76 and a total of 151 in Tied-sixth alongside Thai girl P. Supakchaya (73-78).
 
Gauri Karhade (78-76) and Khushi Khanijau (75-80) were eighth and ninth, while Neha Tripathi (76-80) and Siddhi Kapoor (74-82) were Tied-tenth.
 
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Golf: Ridhima, Diksha share lead in 15th leg of Hero WPGT

Ridhima Dilawari
Ridhima Dilawari
Ridhima Dilawari birdied the 18th hole to finish the day with one-under 71 to share the lead with Diksha Dagar, who was playing in the first group of the day and had contrasting front and back nines in the 15th leg of Hero Women Pro Golf Tour here on Wednesday.
 
Thailand’s P. Supakchaya had two bogeys and a birdie in between in the first three holes, and then parred the remaining 15 holes for 73 and was lying third, while Vani Kapoor and Siddhi Kapoor shot 74 each to be Tied-fourth. 
 
Three players, amateur Pranavi Urs with Amandeep Drall and Khushi Khanijau, carded 75 each in Tied-sixth place, while Neha Tripathi and a disappointed Tvesa Malik rounded off the Top-10 with 76 each.
 
Dagar, the only Indian to have won on the Ladies European Tour this year, was four-under for the front nine with birdies in the first, fourth, fifth and ninth, but then dropped three shots on the back nine to fall to 71.
 
Ridhima, looking for a fifth title to round off a successful 2019 Hero Women’s Pro Tour season, had a roller coaster of a round with a birdie for starters and added two more on fourth and fifth, but dropped shots on third and sixth and yet another on ninth to turn in even par 36. 
 
She bogeyed the 10th but birdies on 12th and 15th brought her back to red numbers. Yet again she dropped a shot on 17th only to get it back on the 18th.
 
Vani Kapoor had three bogeys and just one birdie, while Siddhi had three bogeys on the front nine and one birdie on the back nine.
 
Amandeep had five bogeys and a double against three birdies, while Khushi had two bogeys, a double and just one birdie. Amateur Pranavi Urs had a stunning finish, as she was seven-over after 13 holes with five-over for the front nine. She closed with four straight birdies to jump to three-over.
 
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Police use batons, tear gas on BJP protestors in Kolkata

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Police made a baton charge, lobbed tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse hundreds of belligerent BJP youth wing leaders who tried to march to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation headquarters on Wednesday protesting against a host of issues including the civic body's failure to control the dengue menace in the city.
 
Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists flung water bottles, and threw stones at the police who had put up guard rails and steel barricades near Chandni Chowk in central Kolkata to prevent the agitators from reaching the KMC headquarters during the march, organised as a means of swaying public opinion months ahead of next year's civic polls.
 
The protestors set ablaze tyres and tried to dismantle the barricade with sticks, rods and metal plates, as police personnel used their physical strength to protect it.
 
Some BJYM workers were then seen climbing the barricade, as a couple of them snatched sticks from police personnel after jumping to the other side of the barricade.
 
The police retaliated by wielding their sticks, and using the water jets on the protestors before lobbing tear gas shells and successfully dispersed them.
 
The BJYM later claimed 60 of their workers, including state President Debjit Sarkar were hospitalised after they were "mercilessly beaten" by the police. Thirty five activists, including a dozen women, were arrested.
 
A police officer said a number of security personnel were also injured.
 
Led by BJP state President Dilip Ghosh, General Secretary Raju Bandopadhyay, Sarkar and actress and BJYM leader Rimjhim Mitra, the protestors started off from Central Avenue, raising slogans against the civic authorities' negligence in containing the spread of dengue in the city.
 
They carried posters and banners targeting state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and asking her to reply to the charge that the authorities were hiding facts about the vector-borne disease, which has affected 44,000 people in the state.
 
Ghosh, who participated in the march for some time at the start, accused the state government of issuing a firman to the doctors not to write dengue in the prescription.
 
"For the last three years, Dengue has emerged as a serious problem in Kolkata. When they couldn't control the disease, they came out with a firman that doctors cannot write dengue in the prescription. The doctors were forced to write 'unknown fever' instead.
 
"The government tried to act too clever. It has only led to the spread of the disease. Even a KMC official has died from the disease. People are in panic," he said.
 
Before he was taken to hospital, Sarkar alleged the police had "attacked the rally" without any provocation from his workers. "They rained batons, lobbed tear gas on our peaceful march. Heavens would not have fallen had we reached the KMC headquarter," he said.
 
Mitra accused male police personnel of manhandling women BJYM workers. "Why did they stop us? We had permission to march further. The police acted ferociously." 
 
The BJYM also demanded a corruption free KMC, and a cleaner Kolkata, with less number of cable wires, posters and hoardings and better civic services.
 
The BJP, which has positioned itself as an alternative to the Trinamool Congress, is eyeing the Kolkata Municipal Corporation elections to be held mid next year. As per the results in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year, the BJP was ahead in 50 of the 141 KMC wards.
 
IANS
 

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Three killed, two injured in Kolkata car accident

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Three persons died and two others were battling for life after their car overturned at Newtown in Kolkata's northeast fringes on Tuesday, police said.
 
The accident occurred when the driver of the NSCBI Airport-bound car lost control while taking a turn and the vehicle hit a pillar of an under-construction Metro railway project before overturning.
 
Three of the occupants were declared brought dead at a city hospital. The two others including the man at the wheel have been admitted in a private hospital.
 
IANS
 

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Cyclone Bulbul: Seven dead, 2.97 lakh affected in Bengal

Vehicles wade through a water-logged road during rains triggered by severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul', in Kolkata on November 9, 2019. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
Vehicles wade through a water-logged road during rains triggered by severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul', in Kolkata on November 9, 2019. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
Severe cyclone Bulbul has left behind a trail of destruction in West Bengal, taking seven lives in three districts, affecting 2.97 lakh people and damaging over 28,000 houses, senior ministers said on Sunday.
 
The storm also uprooted hundreds of trees and affected power supply in the state.
 
Five deaths were reported from Basirhat sub-division in North 24 Parganas district, while South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts recorded one death each in the storm which crossed the Bengal coast close to Sundarban Dhanchi forest between 8.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. on Saturday.
 
Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan said here 2.97 lakh people were affected, while 1.78 lakh persons were sheltered in 471 relief camps.
 
"The storm fully damaged 2,473 houses. 206 houses suffered severe damages, while the number of partially damaged houses is 26,000," Khan told media persons.
 
State Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said that in the worst-hit Basirhat sub-division alone, 3,100 houses suffered damage.
 
Mullick, who toured the Bulbul-hit areas in Basirhat on Sunday, said the condition of Sandeshkhali was "very bad".
 
"There has been massive damage to agricultural land. We have to meet the crisis on a war footing," he said.
 
Six teams of National Disaster Response Force and four State Disaster Response Force teams alongside 15,000 volunteers were carrying out relief and rescue operations in the affected areas, Khan said.
 
So far, 46,000 tarpauline sheets have been distributed, and 373 group kitchens were operating.
 
"We are still awaiting information from some of the remote areas. Only then we will be able to collate the total damage," said the minister.
 
According to the Regional Meteorological Centre here, Canning in South 24 Parganas recorded 20 cm rainfall in the 24-hour period till 8.30 a.m. on Sunday. Contai and Digha in East Mindapore district received 16 cm and 10 cm rains respectively during the same period.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to take stock of the situation.
 
In the telephonic conversation, Modi assured Banerjee of all possible assistance from the Central government.
 
Banerjee, who led from the front by stationing herself in the special control room set up at the secretariat Nabanna till the early hours on Sunday, announced she would make an aerial survey of the Bulbul-hit areas around Namkhana and Bakkhali in South 24 Parganas district on Monday and review relief and rehabilitation measures in Kakdwip with the district administration.
 
She plans to visit Basirhat on Wednesday.
 
IANS
 

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Modi speaks to Mamata over cyclone Bulbul, assures assistance

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A day after cyclone Bulbul wreaked havoc in the coastal areas of West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday spoke to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to take stock of the situation.
 
In the telephonic conversation, Modi assured Banerjee of all possible assistance from the Central government. "Spoke to WB CM @MamataOfficial regarding the situation arising due to Cyclone Bulbul.. I pray for everyone's safety and well-being," he tweeted.
 
The Prime Minister also reviewed the situation elsewhere in eastern India, where the cyclone conditions and heavy rains have caused massive damage of crop and property.
 
Meanwhile, Banerjee said her administration had rescued 1,64,315 persons from the low-lying areas in the coastal districts and at least 75 passengers of a cruise ship in the Bay of Bengal.
 
She said there was no report of any human casualty in the coastal districts. Banerjee said a major part of the cyclone had crossed the state and appealed to the people not to venture outdoors till the situation stabilises completely.
 
IANS
 

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3 dead in WB, Odisha; Cyclone Bulbul moves to Bangladesh

Three people died in West Bengal and Odisha after the "very severe" cyclone Bulbul weakened into a "severe" one on Saturday evening, wreaking havoc in the coastal districts of both the states and causing damage to thousands of houses, uprooting trees and affecting hundreds of phone towers.
Vehicles wade through a water-logged road during rains triggered by severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul', in Kolkata on November 9, 2019. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
Vehicles wade through a water-logged road during rains triggered by severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul', in Kolkata on November 9, 2019. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
Three people died in West Bengal and Odisha after the "very severe" cyclonic storm Bulbul weakened into a "severe" one on Saturday evening, wreaking havoc in the coastal districts of both the states and causing damage to thousands of houses, uprooting trees and affecting hundreds of phone towers, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said on Sunday.
 
As the centre of the cyclone has moved to Bangladesh, high winds with speed up to 80 kms in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas continue to rage, said the Ministry, citing a preliminary report received from West Bengal and Odisha.
 
One person died in Basirhat city in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district when a tree fell on him.
 
Two deaths were reported from Odisha's Kendrapara district -- one while drowning and the other in a wall collapse case.
 
A total of 7,815 houses were damaged and 870 trees were uprooted after the landfall of the cyclone in West Bengal, said the Ministry, adding 950 phone towers were also affected causing power disruption in the state.
 
"The restoration work of power and telecommunication services has started in West Bengal where one ICDS centre based in Paschim Medinipur district also got damaged."
 
Four districts in Odisha were severely affected due to the impact of the cyclone that uprooted several trees and damaged roads as well as communication and power lines, the Ministry said.
 
"Power line restoration is going on on a war footing in Odisha. More than 70 per cent connections are already restored and the remaining will be restored by today evening," it said.
 
The Ministry said that almost all the roads have been cleared of the fallen trees and the traffic flow was normal.
 
There is a report of extensive damage to crops in Odisha, said the Ministry, adding house and crop damage assessment was going on.
 
A total of 20 Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, six National Disaster Response Force and 226 Fire Services Teams were engaged in the operation and they were helping in the faster restoration of road and power connections, said the Ministry.
 
IANS
 

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1 dead as severe cyclonic storm Bulbul lashes Bengal coast

Vehicles wade through a water-logged road during rains triggered by severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul', in Kolkata on November 9, 2019. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
Vehicles wade through a water-logged road during rains triggered by severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul', in Kolkata on November 9, 2019. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
One person died when a tree fell on him in Kolkata, as the very severe cyclonic storm Bulbul weakened into a severe cyclonic storm on Saturday evening and started its landfall near Sagar Island in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district with a gale wind speed of 115-125 km per hour, gusting to 140 km per hour.
 
Khejuri, Nandgram, Nayachar and Ramnagar in East Midnapore and Kakdweep and Bakkhali in South 24 Parganas districts in the state's coastal region were worst-affected, as trees got uprooted, roofs gave way and houses and shops suffered damage. Power supply was also disrupted in many areas.
 
"The very severe cyclonic storm Bulbul has weakened into a severe cyclonic storm and started its interaction with the land. The whole process starting with the entry of the forward sector of wall cloud, followed by the centre and the wall cloud at the rear will take three hours to complete," said Regional Meteoroogical Centre director G.C. Das.
 
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been personally monitoring the situation along with top officials from the control room at the secretariat Nabanna, said 1,64,315 persons have been evacuated from low-lying areas on the coast.
 
Bakkhali was ravaged as the rain and storm snapped internet links and telephone lines, while power supply was disrupted from early in the morning. "We are operating a generator. We can provide this service till midnight as all petrol pumps are closed," said a hotel owner.
 
The fishermen have been barred from venturing into the sea adjoining the Sundarbans delta on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Hotels in the coasal tourist resorts of Digha, Bakkhali, Mandarmoni, Talsari, Shankarpur and Bakkhali have been largely emptied of tourists.
 
In south Kolkata's Ballygunge, a youth died when he was crushed under a falling tree. Another tree fell on a car in Regent Park area, but the occupant escaped unharmed.
 
Flight operations in the city's NSCBI airport have been suspended from 6 p.m. on Saturday to 6 a.m. on Sunday to prevent any damage.
 
Suburban train services in Lakshmikantapur-Namkhana section of Eastern Railway were halted as a precautionary measure since 7 p.m., while train movement in Baruipur and Diamond Harbour sections were disrupted after an uprooted tree fell on the railway track near Rasulpur.
 
The South Eastern Railway has also cancelled several trains including Howrah-Panskura Digha local and Panskura-Digha local.
 
The met office said light to moderate rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely to continue over East Midnapore, West Midnapore, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas during the next 12 hours.
 
The RMC update expressed apprehension of a storm surge of about one to two metres height in North and South 24 Parganas districts and 0.5 to 1 m height in East Midnapore district above the astronomical tide which is likely to inundate low-lying areas.
 
The maximum extent of inundation is likely to be around two kilometres over the two Parganas.
 
The weather office predicted that gale wind speed reaching 110-120 km per hour gusting to 135 km per hour is likely to prevail along and off East Midnapore, West Midnapore, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts during the next six hours and decrease thereafter.
 
IANS

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Cyclone Bulbul: Flight ops suspended, 1.2 lakh moved in Bengal

Vehicles wade through a water-logged road during rains triggered by severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul', in Kolkata on November 9, 2019. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
Vehicles wade through a water-logged road during rains triggered by severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul', in Kolkata on November 9, 2019. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
All flight operations in Kolkata airport have been suspended for 12 hours, and over 1.20 lakh people evacuated from the vulnerable coastal areas of West Bengal, as the very severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul' increased its ferocity with a wind speed of 125-135 km gusting to 150 km, and could make landfall between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturday triggering a storm surge, officials said.
 
"Due to impact of Cyclone Bulbul with strong crosswinds and likely wind shear in approaches, flight operations at Kolkata airport will be discontinued from 6 p.m. on Saturday to 6 a.m. on Sunday," an airport official said.
 
In its latest update, the met office said Bulbul now lay centred around 185 km south-east of the eastern metropolis and 85 kilometres south of Sagar island in South 24 Parganas district.
 
The storm is likely to weaken gradually and move northeastwards and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Sagar island and Bangladesh's Khepurpara across Sundarban delta between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. as a severe cyclonic storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 110-120 km per hour, gusting to 135 km per hour.
 
Light to moderate rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is continuing over coastal districts of the state. Canning recorded three centimeters, Kolkata, Diamond Harbour and Haldia two centimeters, and Digha one centimeter of rainfall between 8.30 a.m. and 11-30 a.m. during the day.
 
The Regional Meteorological Centre said that, during the time of landfall, there could be a storm surge of about one to two metres height in 24 Parganas North and 24 Parganas South district and 0.5 to 1 m height in East Midnapore district above the astronomical tide which is likely to inundate low lying areas.
 
The maximum extent of inundation is likely to be around two kilometres over the two Parganas.
 
State chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who monitored the preventive measures from the special control room set up at the secretariat Nabanna, said "more than 1 lakh 20 thousand people have already been rescued from the vulnerable coastal areas".
 
She asked people not to panic.
 
"Please do not panic. Kindly remain calm and co-operate with the administration in its rescue and relief efforts. Be alert, take care and stay safe," Banerjee tweeted.
 
As a safety measure, the state government on Saturday declared closed schools, colleges and anganwadi centres.
 
"Our State Administration is closely monitoring the situation 24x7. We are taking all measures to tackle any contingency. Special Control Rooms have been set up and NDRF-SDRF teams are deployed", she said in another twitter post.
 
A high alert is on in the coastal districts, amidst apprehensions that the storm may impact parts of 24 Parganas North, 24 Parganas South, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Howrah, Kolkata and Jhargram.
 
Ferry services on various rivers were suspended for the day. With evening descending, buses and cabs disappeared from the city roads, which looked deserted.
 
"Kolkata is away from the core area of Bulbul. The impact will be limited to a wind speed of 50-70 kilometer along with heavy rainfall after 7 pm," RMC director G C Das said.
 
The river traffic police personnel were seen patrolling near the ghats of river Hooghly.
 
Another special control room has been opened at the city police headquarters Lalbazar, for maintaining contact with various departments.
 
The police authorities were coordinating with Kolkata Municipal Corporation officials on alerting dwellers of old houses and also to ensure express removal of uprooted trees as a likely effect of the storm.
 
The disaster response teams have been kept ready with relief and rescue materials to tackle any calamity in the wake of the storm. The central government has been in constant touch with the senior figures of the state administration.
 
People have been warned not to come close to the sea in the coastal districts.
 
Fishermen have been barred from venturing into the sea adjoining the Sundarbans delta on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Hotels in the coastal tourist resorts of Digha, Bakkhali, AMandarmoni, Talsari, Shankarpur and Bakkhali have been largely emptied of tourists.
 
IANS
 

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Bulbul storm: Rainfall, gale-force winds in coastal Bengal

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Amidst a high alert declared in the coastal districts, moderate to heavy rainfall with gale-force wind speeds of 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph were reported from the coastal areas of southern West Bengal, as the very severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul' lay centred 140 km south-southwest of Sagar island on Saturday morning, the Met department said.
 
In an update on the cyclone at 10.10 a.m., the Regional Meteorological Centre here said the storm was now located 100 kilometres south-southwest of the coastal resort of Digha in East Midnapore district.
 
The storm is likely to weaken gradually and move northeastwards and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Sagar island and Bangladesh's Khepurpara across Sundarban delta by Saturday midnight as a severe cyclonic storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 110-120 kilometres per hour, gusting to 135 kilometres per hour.
 
According to the update, light to moderate rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is continuing over coastal districts of the state. Digha reported seven cm and Canning three cm rainfall till 8.30 a.m. over the past 24 hours.
 
Gale wind speed 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph per hour is prevailing along and off East Midnapore, 24 Parganas North and 24 Parganas South districts.
 
The forecast said the gale wind speed is likely to increase gradually becoming 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph along and off East Midnapore, West Midnapore, 24 Parganas North and 24 Parganas South districts from Saturday afternoon for the subsequent nine hours.
 
As a precautionary measure, the state government has declared a high alert in the coastal districts, amidst apprehensions that the storm may impact parts of 24 Parganas North, 24 Parganas South, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Howrah, Kolkata and Jhargram districts.
 
The state government has declared a holiday in all schools in the seven districts, and asked private school authorities affiliated to various boards to do the same. Launch services on various rivers have been halted.
 
The disaster response teams have been kept ready with relief and rescue materials to tackle any calamity in the wake of the storm. The central government has been in constant touch with the senior figures of the state administration.
 
People have been warned not to come close to the sea in the coastal districts.
 
Fishermen have been barred from venturing into the sea adjoining the Sundarbans delta on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Tourists in the coastal areas of Digha, Mandarmoni, Talsari, Shankarpur, Bakkhali and Sagar island have also been asked not to take part in any sea-related activities till Sunday.
 
IANS
 

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Sahitya Akademi awardee Nabaneeta Dev Sen passes away

Nabaneeta Dev Sen
Nabaneeta Dev Sen
Sahitya Akademi awardee writer Nabaneeta Dev Sen died at her south Kolkata residence on Thursday after battling cancer, family sources said.
 
Dev Sen, 81, left behind two daughters. She had married in 1959 economist Amartya Sen, who won the Nobel prize in economics 1998.
 
Dev Sen, ailing for some time, was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. Her condition deteriorated and she could not speak for the last few days. The end came at 7.35 p.m.
 
According to her family sources, her last journey will start at 11 a.m. on Friday from her residence Bhalo-basa.
 
A poet, novelist and short story writer, Dev Sen won the Sahitya Akademi award for her book Naba-Nita in 1999, and a year later was honoured with the Padma Shri.
 
The immensely talented Dev Sen, known for her life force, wit and humour in both personal life and creations, wore multiple feathers in her cap -- she was a brilliant student, internationally-acclaimed academician, linguist, polyglot, thinker, liberal, curious globe trotter, mesmerising speaker, and one who fearlessly expressed herself on issues affecting the society and the polity.
 
Born on January 13, 1938 to the poet-couple Narendra Dev and Radharani Devi, Dev Sen graduated from Presidency College and obtained her M.A. degree from Jadavpur University, before proceeding to Harvard University to do Masters. She completed her PhD from Indiana University and did her post-doctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley and Newnham College, Cambridge University.
 
Dev Sen joined the comparative literature department of Jadavpur University and retired as a professor in 2002.
 
Away from the Indian shores, she delivered the Radhakrishnan Memorial Lecture series on epic poetry at Oxford University in 1996-97 and held the Maytag Chair of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at Colorado College in 1988-89.
 
Her first collection of Bengali poems 'Pratham Pratyay' was published in 1959. She has to her credit close to 100 books across literary genre -- Bengali poetry, short stories, plays, novels, literary criticism, essays, travelogues, humour and translations.
 
She also delved into children's literature, churning out popular and engrossing fairy tales and adventure stories, with girls as protagonist.
 
She researched for years and analysed "Ramkatha" from Sita's viewpoint. "Chandrabati Ramayan" is one of her notable works.
 
Widely feted for her genius and literary contributions, Dev Sen won the Mahadevi Verma award in 1992 and the Kamal Kumari National Award in 2004.
 
Condoling her death, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, Dev Sen's death was an irreparable loss to the literary world.
 
Speaking from the USA, Amartya Sen paid tributes to her. "She was an extraordinary talent, writer, thinker and researcher, with great humane feelings. Her absence will be felt," he said.
 
IANS

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Principal Secretary to PM holds meeting on Cyclone 'Bulbul'

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P K Mishra, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, held a high-level meeting today with the States of Odisha, West Bengal and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, to review their preparedness to deal with the approaching cyclonic storm "Bulbul".
 
The meeting reviewed the situation arising due to movement of the cyclone in the last few hours.
 
The Director-General of India Meteorological Department (IMD) gave a detailed forecast on Bulbul, its projected track and accompanying wind speed and rainfall in the sea and along the coasts of Odisha and West Bengal. 
 
He informed the meeting that coastal Odisha is likely to witness wind speed of 70-80 kmph gusting up to 90 kmph tomorrow, accompanied by heavy to very heavy rain.
 
A similar situation is likely to prevail in coastal West Bengal on November 9. Sea conditions will be very rough and fishing operations should be completely suspended, the IMD said.
 
The State Chief Secretaries informed the meeting that all precautionary measures had been taken in the coastal regions and that the situation was being monitored round the clock. Fishermen have been advised to not venture out to the sea and those at sea have been advised to return.
 
The Director General of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told the meeting that its teams were fully prepared with all the  required equipment like tree cutters and pole cutters and are on standby. Indian Coast Guard is also on alert and advising fishermen and merchant ships not to venture out to the sea.
 
Mishra advised them to take all possible measures to ensure that casualties and loss to property are minimised. He also assured the States of all the necessary central assistance required in the developing situation.
 
The meeting was attended by the Principal Adviser to the Prime Minister; Secretaries of Home Affairs, and Information and Broadcasting; Member, NDMA; and senior officers from PMO and the Ministries of Home Affairs and Defence. The  Chief Secretaries/ representatives from West Bengal, Odisha and Andaman & Nicobar Islands joined the meeting through video conference.
 
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West Zone TT: Preyesh, Suhana corner glory

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Preyesh Raj Suresh of Tamil Nadu defeated Aadil Anand of Maharashtra 4-0 while Suhana Saini of Haryana downed Lakshita Narang of Delhi 4-2 to claim gold in the sub-junior boys and girls sections, respectively, at the UTT National Ranking (West Zone) Table Tennis Championships which ended at the Sulochana Devi Singhania School here on Sunday.
 
Preyesh, who won his second title, put it across a tentative Aadil, who was troubled by the Tamil Nadu southpaw's deceptive service. The Maharashtra boy did show some resolve but it couldn't last against the guile of Preyesh as the score-line indicates.
 
Suhana was down 0-2 in the final against Lakshita. With a second title of the season at stake for both, it was Suhana who turned the table on Lakshita by winning the next four games to seal an emphatic win.
 
In a thrilling all-PSPBA cadet boys final, Priyaunj Bhattacharyya beat Divyaj Rajkhowa Roy 4-0 to lift the title. It was Priyanuj's second singles title after his triumph in the South Zone meet.
 
IANS
 
 

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Veteran CPI leader, former MP Gurudas Dasgupta passes away

Gurudas Dasgupta (File photo: IANS)
Gurudas Dasgupta (File photo: IANS)
Veteran communist leader and trade unionist Gurudas Dasgupta, considered a very capable parliamentarian, died at his south Kolkata residence on Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 82.
 
Dasgupta, deputy general secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), passed away at 6 a.m., family sources said.
 
"He was admitted to Tata Medical Centre, where he was on ventilation also for some time. On Monday he was released from the hospital and brought home," Dasgupta's grand daughter and party state secretary, Swapan Banerjee told IANS.
 
Dasgupta, a three-term Rajya Sabha member, was also elected to the Lok Sabha twice --from Panskura in 2004 and Ghatal in 2009.
 
He began his long parliamentary career following his election to the Upper House of Parliament in 1985, and made his mark with his erudition, fearless abd articulate oratory, speaking out with a crusader's zeal against corruption, capitalism and what he always termed as the "neo-imperialist policies".
 
He was twice re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1988 and 1994.
 
Dasgupta lost the bye-eleciton to the Panskura constituency in West Bengal in 2000, but won the seat in the general elections four years later as a Left Front-backed candidate.
 
Dasgupta was one of those parliamentarians who repeatedly highlighted the Bofors scandal that came into the public domain in the late 1980s during the prime ministerial stint of Rajiv Gandhi. He also served on the joint parliamentary committees formed to probe the securities scam and the 2G spectrum scandal.
 
One of the tallest leaders of the Indian trade union movement, Dasgupta served the All India Trade Union Congress in various capacities including as its general secretary and vice-president.
 
"He was one of those leaders who successfully brought all trade unions under a common platform in the interest of the workers. The strong joint trade union movements that we see nowadays is the result of that effort," said Banerjee.
 
Born on November 3, 1936, in Barishal (now in Bangladesh) of undivided Bengal, Dasgupta was baptished into politics through the student movement, and served as the president and general secretary of the undivided Bengal Provincial Students' Federation between 1958 and 1960.
 
He was detained under Defence of India Rules in 1965 and went underground on several occasions during the Congress rule in West Bengal.
 
He visited various countries including Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, South Africa, the UK and erstwhile Soviet Union.
 
Condoling his death, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Dasgupta will be remembered for his contribution to the nation as a Parliamentarian and trade union leader.
 
Dasgupta is survived by his wife, a daughter and a grand daughter.
 
IANS
 

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Veteran CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta dead

Gurudas Dasgupta (File photo: IANS)
Gurudas Dasgupta (File photo: IANS)
Veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and trade unionist Gurudas Dasgupta, considered a very capable parliamentarian, died here on Thursday following a long battle with cancer. He was 82.
 
The Left leader passed away at around 6 a.m., family sources said.
 
Dasgupta was a three-term Rajya Sabha member. He was also elected to the Lok Sabha twice in 2004 and 2009.
 
Condoling his death, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Dasgupta will be remembered for his contribution to the nation as a Parliamentarian and trade union leader.
 
IANS

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