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West Bengal

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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BHEL bags Rs.3,500 crore order for supercritical thermal power plant in West Bengal

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had won, against stiff international competitive bidding (ICB), a major order for setting up a 660 MW supercritical thermal power plant in West Bengal.
 
Valued at approximately Rs. 3,500 crore, the order for setting up the 1x660 MW Sagardighi Thermal Power Project Extension Unit-5 at Manigram village in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, has been placed on BHEL by West Bengal Power Development Corporation (WBPDCL). 
 
A press release from the company said BHEL’s scope of work in the project includes design, engineering, manufacture, supply, erection, testing and commissioning of the Main Plant Turnkey Package, comprising supercritical boiler and turbine generator along with its auxiliaries, electricals, controls & instrumentation, switchyard, flue gas desulphurization (FGD) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, coal handling plant and ash handling plant.
 
"The supercritical technology based project would significantly contribute to the nation’s quest for clean and eco-friendly power and would cut fuel consumption by employing high efficiency equipment working at higher operating parameters. The project will further limit emissions by utilizing state-of-the-art emission control equipment - FGD and SCR systems to capture pollutants like SOx and NOx, aimed at meeting revised emission norms, notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change," the release said.
 
BHEL has so far contributed over 80% of the total coal-based generating capacity of WBPDCL. 
 
The key equipment for the project will be manufactured at BHEL’s Tiruchirapalli, Haridwar, Bhopal, Ranipet, Hyderabad, Jhansi, Thirumayam and Bengaluru plants, while the company's Power Sector - Eastern Region division will be responsible for construction and installation activities on site. 
 
IANS
 

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'Iconoclast' filmmaker Mrinal Sen passes away at 95

Mrinal Sen (File photo: IANS)
Mrinal Sen (File photo: IANS)
Legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen famed for his ability to put searching questions before the society -- especially the middle class, died at his south Kolkata residence on Sunday following old age complications, family sources said.
 
Sen, 95, a widower, is survived by his only son Kunal.
 
Sen, who was ailing for a long time, breathed his last at his Bhowanipore home around 10 a.m. after a cardiac arrest, his family physician said.
 
His demise brings the curtains down on one of the most glorious chapters of filmmaking in India, where Sen and late directors Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak are revered as the 'trinity' for giving birth to the parallel (or new) cinema movement in the country.
 
The "trinity" gave a new direction to the idea of filmmaking in India, displaying spontaneity, aesthetic sense and deep knowledge of the medium, that made the world look up in wonder and respect at their creations.
 
Born on May 14, 1923, at Faridpur (now in Bangladesh), Sen made his first Bengali film "Rat Bhore" (The Dawn) in 1953, but it was his second directorial effort "Neel Akasher Niche" (Under the Blue Sky) that received acclaim in the country for its lyricism and humane qualities.
 
Sen followed it up with "Baishey Shravan" (Wedding Day), that earned him plaudits from the critics beyond Indian shores.
 
In 1969, Sen worked on a small budget provided by the Central government to direct "Bhuvan Shome" (Mr. Shome) -- a film regarded as an important milestone in the new cinema film movement in India.
 
A lifelong Leftist, who, however, never took the membership of any communist party in India, Sen has left behind a rich repertoire of 27 feature films, 14 shorts and four documentaries during a career spanning six decades.
 
Among his other venerated films are "Interview" (1971), "Ek Adhuri Kahani" (An Unfinished Story, 1971), "Calcutta 71" (1972), "Chorus" (1974), "Mrigayaa" (in Hindi - The Royal Hunt, 1976), "Oka Oori Katha" (in Telugu - The Outsiders, 1977), "Ek Din Pratidin" (And Quiet Rolls the Dawn, 1979), "Akaler Sandhane" (In Search of Famine, 1980), "Chalchitra" (The Kaleidoscope, 1981), "Kharij" (The Case Is Closed, 1982), "Khandhar" (The Ruins, 1983), "Genesis" (1986), "Ek Din Achanak" (Suddenly, One Day, 1989).
 
His last film "Aamaar Bhuvan" (This, My Land) came in 2002.
 
An intellectual par excellence and a great conversationist, Sen regaled in calling himself an "iconoclast" and "By accident, a maker of films".
 
Widely feted, Sen received the Padma Bhushan in 1981, the Dadasaheb Phalke -- the highest award in Indian cinema -- in 2005, the French government's Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et letters (Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters) in 2001, and Order of Friendship from the Russian government in the same year.
 
He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1997 to 2003, and president of the International Federation of the Film Societies for some time.
 
Respected across the globe, Sen served as a member of International Jury at various film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Tokyo, Tehran, Mannheim, Nyon, Chicago, Ghent, Tunis and Oberhausen.
 
He came out with his autobiography "Always Being Born" in 2004.
 
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Condoling Sen's death, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said "it is an irreparable loss to the world of filmmaking".
 
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: "Mrinal Sen no more... a most amiable, distinguished creative cinematic mind, contemporary of Satyajit Ray and Rithik Ghatak. I did my first ever voiceover in his film 'Bhuvan Shome'. Prayers and condolences."
 
Famous Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta termed Sen's death as "the end of an era".
 
Acclaimed Bengali actor-filmmaker Aparna Sen, who worked in three films made by Sen, said more than a director and a colleague, he was like a family member.
 
Film and stage actor Kaushik Sen, who debuted in Sen's film "Ek Din Pratidin" as a child actor, was at a loss for words.
 
"My relationship with Mrinal Sen was very personal... cannot say much at this point. I learnt a lot of technical things about acting and filmmaking from him. I first acted in front of the camera because of him and my first film was also directed by him. I have also acted in the last film made by him," Kaushik said.
 
Veteran actor Ranjit Mullick, who also made his acting debut under Sen, grieved at the "painful news".
 
"Mrinal Sen's name is pronounced with stalwarts like Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak in the same breath. I cannot believe he is no more. It is a painful news. He had a great sense of humour," Ranjit said.
 
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Filmmaker Mrinal Sen passes away at 95

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Legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen died at his south Kolkata residence on Sunday following old age complications, said a member of his family.
 
Sen, 95, a widower, left behind his only son Kunal.
 
Sen, who was ailing for a long time, breathed his last at his Bhowanipore home around 10 a.m.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has condoled Sen's death.
 
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Forty injured in Kolkata Metro train fire

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At least 40 people were injured after an air-conditioned rake of a metro train in Kolkata caught fire on Thursday evening disrupting metro services partially for four hours, West Bengal ministers and police said.
 
Panic gripped the passengers as thick smoke was seen coming out of the second compartment of a Dumdum-bound metro rake between Maidan and Rabindra Sadan metro station around 5 p.m. on Thursday.
 
"We saw a fire on the track outside the rake. The compartment was filled with smoke. The train was moving in that condition. It was like the film Burning Train (a 1980 Bollywood action thriller in which the Super Express catches fire on its inaugural run and continues to move at full speed)," said a passenger.
 
Senior officials of Kolkata Metro, city police and personnel of West Bengal fire service and the disaster management team rushed to the spot and carried out immediate evacuation of the stranded passengers. The metro authorities have ordered a high-level probe.
 
"Forty (passengers) were brought to the hospital for treatment. Five of them were admitted in the SSKH Hospital," state public works minister Aroop Biswas said. But an official of the hospital said seven people have been admitted.
 
Biswas said chief minister Mamata Banerjee, now on tour at Gangasagar in South 24 Parganas district, was monitoring the situation.
 
"One passenger has a fracture in his leg. Some others are under oxygen support," said city mayor Firhad Hakim.
 
A Kolkata police officer said all the passengers and staff have been evacuated from the rake.
 
The metro authority confirmed the fire has been successfully put out and urged people not to panic.
 
"We disconnected the power supply on the track and the train and stopped the train inside the tunnel as soon as we heard about the smoke. The fire on the outside was put out. Some glass window panes had to be broken to rescue the passengers. We are happy that a major accident could be averted," Kolkata Matro CPRO Indrani Banerjee said.
 
The official said the metro railway was running a truncated metro service between Noapara and Central and New Garia to Tollygunge.
 
She said the evacuation was started at 5.20 p.m. and completed by 5.50 p.m.
 
However, many commuters who were evacuated from the train, complained that they were stranded for more than half-an-hour after the fire broke out while some alleged no announcement was made by the motorman of the train.
 
They claimed some of the passengers fell ill due to the smoke and alleged that the rescue operation was delayed.
 
"According to primary investigation, it seems that a spark in the TRCC third rail that supplies power to the trains might have caused the fire. The situation is under control. We are probing the matter," said Jag Mohan, Director General of West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services.
 
State Fire Services Minister Sujit Bose claimed that the metro railway's alarm system did not function causing panic among the passengers.
 
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Fire in Kolkata metro coach, 16 injured

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At least 16 people were injured after an air-conditioned rake of a metro train in Kolkata caught fire on Thursday evening, police said.
 
Panic gripped the passengers as thick smoke was seen coming out of the second coach of a Dumdum-bound metro rake between Maidan and Rabindra Sadan metro station around 5 p.m. on Thursday.
 
Senior officials of Kolkata Metro, city police and personnel of West Bengal fire service and the disaster management team rushed to the spot and carried out immediate evacuation of the stranded passengers.
 
"According to our reports, 15 passengers sustained minor injuries in the incident while one person has got a fracture in his leg. Everyone has been successfully evacuated from the rake," a senior officer of Kolkata Police said.
 
The metro authority confirmed the fire has been successfully put out and urged people not to panic.
 
"We disconnected the power supply and stopped the train inside the tunnel as soon as we heard about the smoke. The fire on the outside was put out. Some glass window panes had to be broken to rescue the passengers. We are happy that a major accident could be averted," Kolkata Matro CPRO Indrani Banerjee said.
 
However, many commuters who were evacuated from the train, complained that they were stranded for more than half an hour after the fire broke out while some alleged no announcement was made by the motorman of the train to pacify them.
 
They claimed some of the passengers fell ill due to the smoke and alleged that the rescue operation was delayed.
 
"According to primary investigation it seems that a spark in the TRCC third rail that supplies power to the trains might have caused the fire. The situation is under control. We are probing the matter," (DG) of West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Jag Mohan said.
 
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KCR meets Mamata, says his mission is to form non-Congress, non-BJP front

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Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, on Monday met his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee and said his mission was to form a non-Congress, non-BJP front and that a concrete plan would be unveiled soon.
 
"That's what is the mission of KCR," Rao said after the meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna, when a mediaperson asked him whether he was still looking for a non-Congress, non-BJP front.
 
When a mediaperson asked what exactly his mission was, he replied "That is what you said. That's my mission... I will continue my effort. Don't be in such a haste. This is not a small thing... taking a decision across the table."
 
Rao said they discussed matters of mutual interest and "also matters of national politics".
 
He hoped "very soon" they would come up with a concrete plan.
 
"Our dialogue will continue. Very shortly I think, we may come out with a concrete plan.. wait for the appropriate time... You will see things happening very shortly. We will give you good news. We will let you know," Rao said, as Banerjee was seen nodding in agreement.
 
"My discussions with didi (elder sister, as Banerjee is affectionately called) are always good. We had a discussion. We will continue our dialogue. The results will be visible," he added.
 
KCR, who became the chief minister for Telangana for the second consecutive time after winning the recent assembly polls, mentioned that Banerjee had congratulated him for Telangana Rashtra Samithi's victory.
 
Rao had also met his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Sunday as part of his series of meetings with regional leaders for forming a federal front of regional parties.
 
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Former Bengal Minister Nirupam Sen dead

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Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and former West Bengal Commerce and Industries Minister Nirupam Sen died early on Monday, party said. Sen was 72.
 
The former politburo member succumbed to multi-organ failure around 5 a.m. at a private hospital in the satellite township of Salt Lake.
 
Sen, who handled the industrial reconstruction, planning and power portfolios in the erstwhile Left Front regime under Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, was suffering from neurological and kidney related ailments.
 
Sen was elected to Bengal state assembly in 1987, 2001 and 2006 from Burwan South seat. He lost to Trinamool Congress candidate Rabi Ranjan Chattopadhyay in 2011.
 
He was survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
 
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HC division bench quashes order permitting BJP's Rath Yatra rallies

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The BJP's plans to take out Rath Yatras christened 'Save democracy rallies' in West Bengal again hit a roadblock, with a Calcutta High Court division bench on Friday quashing the order of a single bench that gave a conditional go-ahead to the programme.
 
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar sent the case back to the single-judge bench with a directive that the latter consider the intelligence inputs provided by the state agencies.
 
The Mamata Banerjee government had moved an appeal at the division bench against Thursday's single-bench order and sought urgent hearing.
 
While setting aside the single-judge bench's order, the division bench directed it to study afresh the 36 intelligence inputs from 31 police stations and five police commissionerates submitted by the state government before it.
 
The ruling came after state advocate general Kishore Dutta argued that the single bench had not considered the intelligence inputs and returned to the government without opening the sealed cover in which the inputs were given.
 
Dutta said the intelligence inputs had apprehended communal disturbances if the BJP's proposed programme was given the green light.
 
In an interesting development, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi pleaded as a counsel of the Director General of Police and the additional director general (law and order) and argued that the rally and the reception part of the programme would lead to huge traffic bottlenecks, inconveniencing commuters.
 
Sanghvi said with the BJP submitting that 1,500 people would take part in each of the three Rath Yatra rallies in the state, there would be a kilometre long bus convoy in each case, jeopardising vehicular movement. He said the police have no objection to the holding of meetings, and pointed out that nearly 2,100 such political meetings called by the saffron outfit in the last two years have got the nod in the state.
 
The police's objection was about the rally and reception part of the programme that could cause traffic chaos, he argued.
 
On Thursday, acting on a petition filed by the BJP against the government refusing permission for the rallies, the bench of Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty had given conditional permission to the programme, saying the organisers will be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property.
 
The state government had last week rejected BJP's plea to hold the 'Rath Yatra', arguing there was "grave apprehension of major breach of peace and communal violence during and in the aftermath" of the programme.
 
The BJP had moved a single-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court on December 17 after the Bengal government's decision and proposed December 22, 24 and 26 as fresh dates for the three Rath Yatra rallies.
 
The BJP was originally scheduled to hold three Rath Yatra rallies from north Bengal's Cooch Behar, South 24 Parganas district's Gangasagar and Birbhum district's temple town of Tarapith, flagged off by party president Amit Shah on December 7, 9 and 14, respectively. These rallies were meant to touch all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state before converging at Kolkata in January.
 
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Senior Kolkata journalist arrested by CBI in chit fund case

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday arrested Suman Chattopadhyay, editor of a leading Bengali daily, in the I-Core Group chit fund scam, an official said.
 
Chattopadhyay had allegedly received money in his bank accounts from the chit fund firm, the agency's spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.
 
Chattopadhyay, also a director in Disha Productions and Media Private Limited (DPMPL), was arrested after several hours of questioning at the agency's office at the CGO complex in a case registered against the I-Core Group.
 
"The investigation has revealed that funds collected illegally by the I-Core Group were allegedly diverted in the accounts of DPMPL as well as personal account of Chattopadhyay," the spokesperson said. 
 
"He will be produced before a special Chief Judicial Magistrate's court in Odisha's Bhubaneswar on Friday," he said.
 
"The investigation is continuing," he added.
 
The CBI in 2014 started its probe into the affairs of the I-Core Group following a Supreme Court order asking the central agency to investigate all non-Saradha (Group) fund mobilising companies.
 
The Managing Directors of I-Core E Services Limited, Anukul Maity, and his wife Kanika were arrested in 2017 by CBI on charges of cheating. 
 
The couple was earlier taken into custody by the Criminal Investigation Department of West Bengal police in cheating and other fraud cases.
 
The company had mobilised funds, mainly in Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal, through its ponzi schemes that promised returns at rates much higher than those prevailing in the market.
 
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Calcutta HC gives conditional nod to BJP's Rath Yatra

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The Calcutta High Court on Thursday gave conditional permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party's Rath Yatra rallies, saying the organisers will be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property.
 
Acting on a petition filed by the BJP, Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty said the organisers have to inform the police superintendent of the district concerned 12 hours prior to taking out the yatra.
 
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Legendary classical singer Arun Bhaduri passes away

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Legendary classical singer Pandit Arun Bhaduri, known for his deep and sonorous voice, passed away at a city hospital on Monday following age-related ailments and respiratory distress, family sources said.
 
Bhaduri, 75, is survived by his wife, son, daughter-in-law and a grandson.
 
Born in West Bengal's Murshidabad on October 7, 1943, Bhaduri received his initial lessons in Indian music from Mohammed Abu Daud, before fine-tuning his knowledge on the nuances and embellishments of the Hindustani Classical Music from Mohammed Sagiruddin Khan.
 
Later, he was also taught by the late Ustad Ishtiaq Hussain Khan of the Rampur-Sahaswan gharana, and Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh.
 
Greatly influenced by Ustad Ameer Khan, Bhaduri imbibed his aesthetic qualities, and successfully created a style of his own by fusing the various styles he learnt from the stalwarts.
 
He joined the ITC Sangeet Research Academy as a musician scholar and rose to become one of its most venerated Gurus.
 
A top grade radio and television artiste, Bhaduri received invitations from music festivals in the UK, the USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
 
Bhaduri is also known for his excellent rendering of Bengali songs and bhajans.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed grief at Bhaduri's demise.
 
Recalling that the state government had conferred on him the state's highest civilian award, Banga Bibhusan, in 2014 for his outstanding contribution to music, Banerjee said his passing away would "create a big void in the world of music and culture".
 
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West Bengal: Former LF minister Abdus Sattar joins Congress

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Former West Bengal minister Abdus Sattar, who severed his long association with the CPI-M last year, on Monday joined the Congress, calling it the only party capable of challenging the communal policies of the BJP.
 
Sattar, who served as Minister of State for Minorities Development during the Left Front regime, was welcomed into the Congress by state party chief Somen Mitra and in-charge of Bengal Gaurav Gogoi.
 
"I decided to join the Congress after I became convinced it is the only party that can stand up to the communal onslaught launched by the BJP across the country," Sattar told mediapersons at the state Congress headquarters Bidhan Bhavan.
 
Sattar had not renewed his membership of the Communist Party of India-Marxist in 2017. Since then, he had not been associated with any party.
 
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Opposition to meet before winter session of Parliament: Naidu

 
Chandrababu Naidu meets Mamata Banerjee in Howrah
The much-talked about meeting of parties opposed to the BJP to strategise against the saffron party in the next Lok Sabha elections has been postponed and may now be held after the current Assembly elections and before the start of the winter session of Parliament, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee said after a meeting between them here.
 
Claiming that democracy in the country was in danger, Naidu, who is also the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief, said on Monday that there is a "democratic compulsion" for the senior opposition leaders to join hands to protect the nation. 
 
Echoing his views, Banerjee said the meeting of anti-BJP parties would be held after campaigning in the Assembly elections and before the start of the winter session of Parliament.
 
"The meeting to be held on November 22 has been postponed due to the ongoing election campaign. We want to meet before the next parliamentary session. We are in discussions about it. The date of the meeting will be announced soon," Naidu told reporters following the meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna here. 
 
"Democracy in the country is in danger. So there is a democratic compulsion for us to join together. It is the responsibility of us, the senior leaders to protect the nation. Those who are opposing BJP will join together, discuss everything and chalk out a programme to go forward," he said. 
 
Naidu, whose TDP was earlier an ally of the BJP, has met a spectrum of leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP's Sharad Pawar, DMK's M K Stalin, National Conference' Farooq Abdullah, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and BSP chief Mayawati to forge a front against the ruling party and had proposed a meeting of opposition parties to be held in New Delhi on November 22. 
 
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Terming the meeting with Banerjee as successful, Naidu said fighting together has become necessary as all major institutions in the country including the CBI, the Income Tax Department, the RBI are under threat while the nation's economy is at a standstill. 
 
"We have to protect the institutions... you name any institution, they are under severe pressure and threat. Be it the CBI, Income Tax, RBI every institution is under threat. Even the petrol and diesel prices are increasing, there is inflation, the whole nation's economy is at a standstill," he said. 
 
Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo, said she has invited Naidu for her proposed opposition party meeting here in January next year, which was confirmed by the TDP chief.
 
"We are grateful that he has come here. I invited him also for the January 19 meeting. We are discussing the matters for the country's interest and earlier, we also discussed so many things. Today, we discussed in detail about the next future plans. When the meeting will be decided, we will discuss the plan of action. We are working and speaking together," Banerjee said. 
 
When asked about the face of the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties, Banerjee said, "Everybody will be the face of this Mahagatbandhan (grand alliance)."
 
Naidu interjected to say that "all of us are senior to Modi".
 
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One coach of Dhauli Express derails near Panskura, no injuries reported

A coach of the 12821 Howrah-Puri Dhauli Express got derailed between Bhogpur and Panskura stations in the Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal this morning but none of the passengers was injured, official sources said
 
The derailment occurred at about 7.10 am when one wheel of the AC Chair Car (D3), sixth from the engine, got derailed on the middle line of the section in Kharagpur division of South Eastern Railway. The  Up and Down lines were unaffected and free, the sources said.
 
Panskura is located about  67 km from Howrah in West Bengal and 416 km from Puri in Odisha.
 
The guard of the train had reported that there were no injuries to any passengers, the sources said, adding that senior railway officials had left for the spot.
 
Arrangements were being made to detach the affected coach  and run the rest of the train soon, they said. Passengers of the derailed coach would be adjusted in other coaches.
 
"The front and rear portions of the train will be amalgamated at Panskura station very shortly. Passengers of D3 coach will be suitably adjusted in other coaches. Passengers will be served tea and snacks at Panskura. General Manager of South Eastern Railway P. S. Mishra is personally monitoring the situation from the control room," the  sources added.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines: 
 
Howrah Station 03326377197
Kharagpur:  03222255897 & 03222255751
Balasore: 06782265767
 
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Amitabh Bachchan to inaugurate Kolkata International Film Festival

Amitabh Bachchan (Photo: IANS)
Amitabh Bachchan (Photo: IANS)
Australia will be the focus country of the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival, slated to be inaugurated by Bollywood's living legend Amitabh Bachchan in the presence of a galaxy of superstars of Indian cinema including Shah Rukh Khan here on November 10, the organisers announced on Saturday.
 
A carousel of 171 feature films, 150 shorts and documentaries from 70 countries will be on show at 16 auditoria in the city and Howrah with the 1967 Bengali classic 'Antony Firingee' being the inaugural movie of the eight-day festival.
 
Besides Bachchan, venerable Iranian director Majid Majidi, and Australian directors Simon Baker, Jill Bilcock and Philip Noyce will grace the opening ceremony, to be presided over by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
 
Actors Sanjay Dutt, Jaya Bachchan, Waheeda Rehman and Nandita Das would also be present at the opening ceremony, said state youth and sports minister and KIFF chief advisor Aroop Biswas.
 
The best film would be given an award of Rs 51 lakh, and the best director Rs 21 lakh, with both receiving a golden trophy christened "Royal Bengal Tiger".
 
He said Antony Firingee, with Uttam Kumar and Tanuja in the lead, was chosen as the inaugural film to mark the 100 years of Bengali cinema.
 
Twenty six films from Australia will be on show, with Philip Noyce being honoured with a retrospective.
 
Four popular works of Iranian film maker Majidi will also be screened.
 
A Bengali film directory giving details of the major celluloid ventures in the language will be published during the festival.
 
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Two dead, 12 injured in stampede at Bengal railway foot overbridge

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Two persons died and a dozen others, including two children, injured in a stampede at a railway foot overbridge at Santragachhi station in Howrah on Tuesday, police said.
 
"Two persons have died and 12 others injured in the incident. One person is critical," West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
 
The stampede occurred around 6 p.m. when the commuters hurriedly tried to cross the foot overbridge between two platforms following an announcement of two trains coming simultaneously on two adjacent tracks, a senior South Eastern Railway official said.
 
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Ten injured in stampede at Bengal railway foot overbridge

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At least 10 people, including two children, suffered severe injuries on Tuesday in a stampede at a railway foot overbridge at Santragachhi station in Howrah, police said.
 
The stampede occurred around 6 p.m. when the commuters hurriedly tried to cross the foot overbridge between two platforms following an announcement of two trains coming simultaneously on two adjacent tracks. 
 
"10 people have been injured and they are being treated in the hospital," said a senior officer at the Santragachhi police station. 
 
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Five killed, 22 hurt in Bengal bus accident

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A bus accident in West Bengal's Hooghly district on Tuesday left five people dead and 22 injured, police said.
 
"The bus overturned and fell into the Dakatiya Khaal (a canal) on Haripal Road this morning. Around 22 injured were rushed to hospital," a police official said.
 
An eyewitness, who helped in the rescue operation, said: "We saw the bus hitting the cement fencing of the bridge, before toppling over and falling into the canal. We broke the window glasses and helped the injured come out of the bus."
 
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