West Bengal

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).

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.
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.

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.
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.
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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Need for expansion of metro transportation in tier-II cities: Mangu Singh

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Managing Director Mangu Singh today stressed the need for expansion of metro transportation in tier-II cities of the country.
“It is not necessary that every city has a metro system, rather it should be based on the requirements of each city,” Mr Singh said delivering the inaugural address at the first regional conference on ‘Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) for Urban Areas – Opportunities and Challenges’.
In this regard, he pointed out that the DMRC has recommended an alternative transport mode for Dehradun, capital of Uttarakhand.
Mr Rakesh Ranjan, Adviser, NITI Aayog said the MRTS which is beyond metro rail, has a critical role in regional connectivity. However, issues of under-investment in MRTS needs to be addressed. He also spoke at length on the financial viability of metro railway system in the light of investment requirement in an urban transport system which amounts to Rs 100,000 crore.
Mr Soon-Sik Lee, Senior Transport Specialist at ?Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said the AIIB was enhancing the quantum of loan to India from existing US $ 1.7 billion to US $ 2 billion. India is a founding member of the AIIB.
Dr Kumar V Pratap, Joint Secretary (Infrastructure, Policy & Finance), Ministry of Finance stated that the MRTS was necessary for its efficiency and environmental benefits. It causes less pollution and congestion thus providing more efficient and cost-effective services, which is in tune with the mantra of the Government.
With the MRTS, more people per unit of energy can be transferred as compared to personalized transport, he said. Hence, MRTS is economically more viable in comparison to other modes of transport. Mr Mukund Kumar Sinha, Joint Secretary, Urban Transport, stated that the investment requirement for MRTS would be around 4 billion US dollars in the next five years.
Mr Mangu Singh said a good transport system was necessary for the social, economic and cultural growth of India, provided with matching resource and developmental facilities to keep technology updated. A sustainable urban transport system is the need of the hour in the present green field scenario of India. Urbanisation is the natural centre for growth.
Investment in the MRTS will decrease pollution and accidental rates. The DMRC is growing in its role as a nurturing hub for other metro rail aspiring cities. With an enhanced emphasis on renewable energy, it is providing consultancy to Bangladesh and Indonesia for their metro rail projects, he added.
Mr Parashuram Singh, Managing Director, Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation, mentioned the impediments faced in the extension of Metro Rail in Kolkata, including the reality that Metro Rail has to take into account the heritage buildings lying in alignment with the proposed lines as well as the burden of removing 1000 hutments lying along the alignment.
The other dignitaries who spoke on the occasion included Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., Deepa Kotnis, Executive Director, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. and Prof. Sanjay Gupta, School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi among others.
The conference was jointly organized by Ministry of Finance, AIIB, ASSOCHAM and Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS).
Before the third annual meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to be held in Mumbai from June 22 to 27 this year, eight such regional conferences will be held on the issues relating to infrastructures development, sustainable infrastructure, mass rapid transportation  system, port and coastal infrastructure, urban development and the like in eight different cities of India, an official press release said.
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Football: FC Goa looking for first ever win against ATK

FC Goa go into their final home league game of the season against defending champions ATK tomorrow with an excellent opportunity to move one step closer to making it to the semi-finals of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL).
Sergio’s charges rallied to take a point from the defending champions away in Kolkata after a series of unfortunate events in January, but their campaign took a disastrous turn following that. 
Irish marquee signing Robbie Keane scored the opener early on and it was cancelled out by Manuel Arana mid-way through the first 45 minutes. For the home side, a win will take them into the top four and give them an advantage going into the final league game of the season against Jamshedpur FC.
Naveen Kumar has been a revelation since making his debut for the club. He kept the team’s first clean sheet of the season in 16 games against an in form FC Pune City and will definitely continue in goal for the side. Bruno Pinheiro has been struggling with injury in the last couple of weeks and looks unlikely to be fit in time to face the Kolkata franchise.
Sergio Juste has stepped into his shoes and has done a good job for the team alongside Ali Mohammad. Seriton Fernandes and Narayan Das will continue to occupy the full back positions.
FC Goa will be without the services of midfield anchor Ahmed Jahouh who is suspended for this match. Pronay Halder deputized for Edu Bedia who was absent in the last match and did a fine job for the team. Edu will be back for Goa against ATK and will most likely partner Pronay in midfield. Brandon Fernandes was also absent from the last fixture through injury and it will be interesting to see if Sergio gives the Goan winger a start against Kolkata. 
Mandar Rao Dessai will start on the left side along with Moroccan attacker Hugo Boumous who has netted twice in two starts so far. Manuel Lanzarote took his goal tally to 9 for the season after his goal against the Stallions and will be looking to increase that number against Kolkata. Up front, Ferran Corominas will resume his attending duties after adding two more goals to his tally in the last match.
The Gaurs have never beaten ATK in the history of the competition and will be looking to change that statistic going into this encounter. With the men in red and white struggling for form, the Goans will hope they can finally get one up on their rivals.
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Tri-Nation JK Tyre Himalayan Drive 6 Rally to be flagged off on Friday

India’s only Tri-Nation TSD (Time, Speed & Distance) rally, the J K Tyre Himalayan Drive 6, presented by Biswa Bangla, will be flagged-off from here on Friday.
The 1,650 kilometres long rally over five days will traverse through the Dooars and Darjeeling Hills in North Bengal, and various picturesque routes in Bhutan and Nepal.
Being held in association with West Bengal Tourism, this unique rally aims at promoting motorsports, showcasing the enormous tourism potential of North Bengal and the contiguous areas of Bhutan and Nepal, and boosting people-to-people connectivity and drive tourism between the three neighbouring countries.
The rally is distinct from other TSD rallies since it covers a wide variety of terrain, ranging from tarmac, river beds, dirt tracks, forest roads and mountainous roads. It will skirt steep slopes that will not only present a tough challenge to the participants but will also offer a lot of thrill to them as well as to spectators.
More than 100 participants, including top rallyists from the country, will take off from Silliguri on Friday morning and will journey through North Bengal’s lush forests that are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including the Royal Bengal Tiger, the one-horned rhino and the Asiatic elephant. It will go through picturesque tea gardens too before entering Nepal trough the Kakarbita border hitting the East West highway to the famous jungle paradise Chitwan in Nepal.
On Day 3, the participants will journey to the famous jungle roads on the fringes of the Chitwan Reserve Forest areas through the gravel and dirt tracks before coming back to Chitwan for a well deserved rest.
The rallyists drive back from Chitwan through the Dooars on Day 4 and after driving through the heart of Terai region in Nepal will enter India through the Kakarbita border en route to Murti in the Dooars for the night halt.
The participants spend the next day driving through the Dooars region going through serene terrain with its tea gardens, jungle tracks and river beds before entering the Bhutan at Phuntshoeling.
For the fifth and final leg, they will leave Phuntshoeling through amazing and adventurous hill tracks and climb up the hills to reach Darjeeling, the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ where the rally finishes. 
The gala prize distribution ceremony will take place in Darjeeling on February 28.
The fifth edition of the hugely successful Himalayan Drive Car Rally, which has become a landmark event in India’s motorsports calendar, saw more than 100 participants last year.
Biswa Bangla is the presenting sponsor while JK Tyres is the Title Sponsor and West Bengal Tourism with its “Experience Bengal” theme while Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and North Bengal Development Department are the Principal Sponsors along with Techno India Group, City Centre Silliguri, Club Montana Vista, Neotia Getwell Hospital and Bisleri who have joined in as associate sponsors. Radio Misty is the radio partner of the event.
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Raje suffers setback as Congress wins 3-0 in Rajasthan, TMC wins in Bengal

Congress sweeps all three seats in Rajasthan bye-elections
The Congress won two Lok Sabha seats and one Assembly seat from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in bye-elections in Rajasthan in what is being seen as a major setback for Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje ahead of the elections in the state due later this year.
In West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) won emphatic victories in the Uluberia Lok Sabha constituency and in the Noapara Assembly constituency but the BJP was in the limelight after pushing back the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to third place and finishing second in the bye-elections for both seats.
In Rajasthan, Raghu Sharma of the Congress won the Ajmer Lok Sabha seat, defeating Ram Swarup Lamba of the BJP by a margin of 84,427 votes. The party also picked up the Alwar Lok Sabha seat, with its candidate  Karan Singh Yadav trouncing the BJP candidate by a margin of 196,496 votes. The Congress won the Mandalgarh assembly seat,where its candidate Vivek Dhakar won by a margin of about 13,000 votes.
"Well done Rajasthan Congress!  Proud of each and every one of you. This is a rejection of the BJP by the people of Rajasthan," Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Ms. Raje and several of her Cabinet Ministers had campaigned hard for the bye-elections but the BJP appeared to have run into anger among farmers, Rajputs and Government employees.
The results will boost the confidence of the Congress, which could win only 21 seats in the last Assembly elections and did not win a single seat from the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
"The bye-election results clearly show the undercurrent, what people think. In these bye-elections, not just rural, urban and farmers supported the party, but the youth, which was misguided by the BJP, came with the Congress," Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot said.
In Uluberia, TMC candidate Sajda Ahmed won by a margin of 474,510 votes over the BJP candidate Anupam Malik. In Noapara, Sunil Singh of the TMC defeated Sandip Banerjee of the BJP.
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42 dead, 9 injured as bus crashes off bridge into canal in West Bengal

42 dead as bus falls into canal in West Bengal
At least 42 people died and nine others suffered injuries when a speeding bus crashed through the railing of a bridge and plunged into the Gogra Canal at Balirghat in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, about 230 km north from here, on Monday morning.
Search and rescue teams, including personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had recovered 36 bodies and rescued nine people from the wreckage of the bus and the water in day-long efforts yesterday.
Six more bodies were recovered after rescue operations, which were suspended at nightfall yesterday, resumed early this morning, they said. The search operations were again suspended this evening and the district authorities will take a decision about continuing them or not tomorrow.
The deceased passengers included 11 women and two children, official sources said. The injured were admitted to the hospital for treatment, they said.
The bodies of the victims were kept in the morgue at the Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital, pending identification by relatives. 
The accident occurred at around 6 am yesterday when the North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) bus was on its way from Karimpur in Nadia district to Malda.
There was no clarity on the number of passengers in the bus, but it was more than 50, the sources said. 
District Magistrate P. Ulaganathan and senior administration and police officials were at the scene supervising the search and rescue efforts, in which local people joined in.
NDRF teams and others had to work hours before they were able to lift the bus out of the deep water with  the help of five hydraulic cranes.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the mishap, Rs. 1 lakh for the critically injured and Rs. 50,000 for those with minor injuries.
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GAIL begins work on West Bengal stretch of Prime Minister Urja Ganga pipeline

Public sector natural gas major GAIL (India) Limited has started pipeline construction work in West Bengal for providing gas supply to Matix Fertilizers at Durgapur. 
The project is being executed on a fast-track basis as part of the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga Pipeline project -- the Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) project.
A press release from GAIL said the 555 km pipeline, with an approved cost of approximately Rs. 2700 crore, would pass through eight districts of West Bengal -- Puruliya, Bankura, Burdwan, Nadia, Hooghly, Howrah, East Medinapur and 24 North Paragana.
Further project activities for execution of pipeline in the state of West Bengal upto Haldia and City Gas Distribution in Kolkata are also expected to commence shortly, it said.
The prestigious 2655 km long JHBDPL project was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2015.Hon’ble Prime Minister of India in July’2015. The project is progressing in full swing. The pipeline will pass through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
The release said the project is being executed in a phased manner. Phase I consists of pipeline network from Phulpur – Dobhi with spurlines to Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Patna and Barauni (755 Km) and is scheduled to be completed by Dec ‘18. Phase II of the project beyond Dobhi (Gaya) towards Durgapur Haldia & Bokaro – Ranchi and Angul – Dhamra (1900 Km) is scheduled to be completed progressively by Dec’20.   
The project will usher in industrial development in the eastern part of India by supplying environmentally clean natural gas to fertilizers and power plants, refineries, steel plants and other industries. Further, the arrival of the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga will provide direct and indirect employment to thousands of people, the release said.
The project will also provide clean energy to households and transportation in the cities on the pipeline route. City Gas Network laying activities in Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi and Cuttack have already commenced and activities in other cities such as Patna and Jamshedpur will start by next month. 
The pilot project in  Bhubaneshwar for providing piped natural gas (PNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) has already been inaugurated in October 2017 and December, 2017, respectively, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan.
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Celebrations begin to mark 125th birth anniversary of eminent physicist S.N .Bose

Our scientists make lives easier by giving out of box solutions: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday set the ball rolling for a year-long celebration to mark the 125th birth anniversary of eminent physicist Satyendra Nath Bose who was born on this day in 1884. The celebrations are being spearheaded by S.N.Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata.
A theoretical physicist, Bose is known for his path breaking work on foundations of Quantum Statistics, laying the basis for the modern atomic theory. His name is immortalized in the history of science by concepts and terms like Bose Statistics and Bose Einstein Condensation. 
Einstein’s biographer, Abraham Pace, had considered Bose’s work as one of the last revolutionary papers on Old Quantum Theory. Bose was also a crusader for teaching of science in vernacular languages, besides being an accomplished musician.
Paying tributes to Bose, the Prime Minister noted that the country had a lot to learn from his life and works. “He was a self-taught scholar. He succeeded despite many constraints. These included lack of formal research education and little connectivity with the global scientific community,” he observed in his speech via video conferencing.
Urging the Indian scientific community to emulate Bose, he called for efforts to promote science communication in a big way to promote understanding and love of science in the youth. “Language should not be a barrier but a facilitator in this task”. He further called upon the scientific community to not work in silos and to strive to collaborate with fellow scientists from other institutions and laboratories.
“To reach our true potential and to take Indian science to its rightful glory, we should be like a quantum particle that escapes its confinement. This is even more important today as science becomes hugely multidisciplinary and requires concerted efforts," he said.
The Prime Minister noted that Indian science and technology has grown with great speed in recent decades, helping the country make a mark for itself in the world in IT, space technology and missile technology and expressed confidence that scientists would continue to work and come out with creative technology solutions for the benefit of the common man.
Referring to an effort by scientific departments to develop a portal for sharing of scientific infrastructure and resources as well as promoting collaboration, he urged all laboratories and institutions to participate to make it a success. He said scientists must keep pace with emerging technologies and innovations such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, cyber-physical systems, genomics and electric vehicles. “For various reasons, we missed the first industrial revolution. We cannot miss similar opportunities today."
Mr. Modi recalled that the government had launched a plan to help 20 institutions in the country to become world class centres with financial assistance of Rs. 1,000 crore and said laws and rules are being amended to make this happen. “I request S.N.Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences and other such institutions in the country to draw up plans to become top ranking institutions and work in that direction.”
He called upon scientists to adopt at least one student each and motivate them to take up a career in research.
As parts of the celebrations, SNBNCBS has planned to organize over 100 outreach lectures in schools and colleges, hold national and international conferences on various themes of national importance and conduct competitions on solutions to 125 scientifically challenging problems.
(India Science Wire)
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Bye-elections to be held in Rajasthan, West Bengal on January 29 for three LS, two Assembly seats

The Election Commission of India (ECI) today said it would hold bye-elections on January 29, 2018 to fill three vacancies in the Lok Sabha – two from Rajasthan and one from West Bengal – as well as a vacancy each in the Legislative Assemblies of the two States.
The Lok Sabha seats which are vacant are Alwar and Ajmer in Rajasthan and Uluberia in West Bengal, while the vacant Assembly seats are Mandalgarh in Rajasthan and Noapara in West Bengal.
An official press release said that the notifications for the bye-elections would be issued on January 3 and the last date for filing nominations would be January 10. Nominations will be scrutinized on January 11 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is January 15. Counting of votes will be taken up on February 1.
All the three Lok Sabha vacancies have arisen due to the death of sitting members.
The Ajmer seat fell vacant after the death on August 9 of former Union Minister and BJP MP Sanwar Lal Jat, while the Alwar seat became vacant after the death on September 17 of BJP MP Chand Nath.
The Uluberia vacanacy has arisen following the death of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Sultan Ahmed on September 4.
The electoral rolls of the constituencies with reference to January 1, 2018 will be used for the bye-elections and these will be finally published on January 2.
The Commission has decided to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units in all the polling stations in these constituencies.
The Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect in the district(s) in which the whole or any part of the Parliamentary/ Assembly Constituency going for bye-election is included, subject to partial modification as issued vide Commission’s instruction No. 437/6/INST2016-CCS, dated 29th June, 2017 (available on the Commission’s website). The Model Code of Conduct shall be applicable to all candidates, political parties and the State Government concerned. The Model Code of Conduct shall also be applicable to the Union Government for the State concerned, the release added.
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Karnataka only state to provide facilities for regional branch of National School of Drama

Karnataka is the only state to provide space for setting up a regional centre of the National School of Drama (NSD), the Lok Sabha was informed yesterday.
Minister of State for Culture Dr Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply during Question Hour that the Broad-Based Committee (Vision Committee) set up by the National School of Drama (NSD) Society in February 2005, inter-alia, had recommended opening of five regional centres of the NSD across the country.
On the basis of these recommendations, a decision was taken to establish Five Regional Centres during the 11th Five Year Plan period (2007-2012), one each at Kolkata, Mumbai/Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, and North-East besides upgrading the existing Regional Resource cum Research Centre, Bengaluru to a full-fledged regional centre.
These regional centres were to be established in consultation with concerned State Governments, who were required to provide land and accommodation for the purpose.
Karnataka had provided space in 2013 at Bengaluru for the purpose where a training course is being organized by NSD. Currently, the Bengaluru centre is running a one-year course on dramatic arts, he said.
Jammu & Kashmir and Assam governments have been reminded about providing the accommodation for the purpose of opening of NSD’s regional centre but there has been no response from them so far, he added.
As far as the opening of NSD’s centre at Mumbai is concerned, the requisite space has yet not been located in spite of an advertisement issued in 2016 in the leading newspapers. An effort is also being made with Maharashtra’s Department of Culture to provide the requisite space.
In so far as the opening of a new centre of NSD at Kolkata is concerned, as per the observations made by the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, the Ministry of Culture had taken up the matter with various organizations under its control at Kolkata for providing accommodation for a new centre.
NSD had also requested them to intimate if they could provide a suitable accommodation to the NSD for the purpose. However, the organizations have shown their inability to provide any accommodation, the Minister said.

Border Protection Grid to be set up in border States, says Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday said that a Border Protection Grid (BPG) would be set up in border States as a multi-pronged and foolproof mechanism to secure the country's border.
Chairing a meeting with Chief Minnisters of the Indo-Bangladesh Border (IBB) States here, he said the grid would comprise various elements such as physical barriers, non-physical barriers, surveillance system, Intelligence agencies, State Police, Border Security Force (BSF) and other State and Central agencies.
He said BPG would be supervised by a State-level Standing Committee under the chairmanship of respective Chief Secretaries. BPG will ensure greater help for the States in the overall border security, he said, and sought the active participation of all stakeholders, including State Governments.
Mr. Rajnath Singh had earlier conducted border-specific review meetings for India-China, India-Myanmar and India-Pakistan borders.
In yesterday meeting, the Home Minister underlined the need for securing the country’s borders and putting in place systems to facilitate legitimate trade and commerce. He said India has friendly relations with Bangladesh and all these measures will facilitate genuine trade and legitimate cross-border movement of people while curbing radicalization, illegal migration, and smuggling of cattle, fake Indian currency notes and drugs, and so on.
Mr. Rajnath Singh stressed the need to prevent entry, at international borders, of illegal migrants, some of whom have links with extremist groups for furthering anti-national activities with ulterior motives and posing threat to internal security. 
He emphasized the need to fast track border infrastructure development and to strengthen border security. 
The Indo-Bangladesh Border covering five States -- Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal --  is 4096 km long. So far, in 3006 km border security infrastructure of fence, roads, floodlights and border out posts (BOPs) are in place and works in the remaining 1090 km are yet to be started. Out of this, 684 km will be secured with fence and related infrastructure, and the balance 406 km with non-physical barriers. 
Although bulk of the infrastructure is in place or under construction, construction in some parts is yet to commence, mainly due to land acquisition issues. The Home Minister urged the Chief Ministers to take personal interest to expedite land acquisition in the interest of national security. They promised to make land available at the earliest. 
The areas to be covered by non-physical barriers are those where fencing is not feasible like rivers or nullahs. In these areas technological solutions of a networked combination of electronic gadgets like radar, day-night cameras and various types of sensors, all integrated in a command and control architecture, will be used. 
The Home Minister said that the people living in the border areas are a strategic asset and need to be provided with all the infrastructure and socio-economic development facilities. He emphasized the importance and necessity of improved infrastructure such as roads, railways, health and education and also boosting border economy in the border areas in a holistic and comprehensive manner. He said the State Governments must pay greater attention to these areas while the Home Ministry was working to supplement their efforts.
Appreciating the role of BSF for their unshakeable courage, skills, determination and dedication in securing the border, Mr. Rajnath Singh reiterated that they should be more vigilant. He expressed satisfaction over the active participation and assurance of all cooperation given by the states. 
The meeting was attended by Union Minister of State (Home Affairs) Kiren Rijiju, Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Assam and Mizoram, Union Home Secretary, Secretary (Border Management), MHA, DG BSF, Chief Secretary Meghalaya, Secretary, Home, Tripura. 
Senior officers of MHA and other Ministries of Government of India besides State Governments also attended the meeting, an official press release said.

Bengal has great history, ensure that it also has a great future, says Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind today said while Bengal has a great history, it is for each one of the people to ensure that the state, which was an early industrial and manufacturing centre in India, also has a great future.
“Its economy must sing again in this age of digital and robotic technologies. Its green fields and hard-working farmers must be equipped with the latest agricultural knowledge to allow them to realise their potential,” Mr Kovind said in his address during a civic reception hosted in his honour.
“In 2022, India will be celebrating 75 years as a free country. This will be an occasion to reach certain developmental milestones for our people and to create a better India. For this, we need to invoke the same idealism and fervour that contributed to our freedom movement. Bengal was one of the leaders of our freedom movement. It must lead this effort for a better India by 2022,” he added.
Referring to the Union Government’s ambitious Act East Policy, he said this involves building connectivity projects and taking economic initiatives. The people of Bengal are crucial to this programme that will be of mutual benefit to the eastern and Northeastern states as well as to neighbouring countries.
The President said, being a border state, Bengal has certain advantages. It also gives it certain responsibilities. “Forces of radicalism and extremism, some of them with cross-border linkages, seek to take advantage of our democratic spaces. We must guard against this,” he added.
Mr Kovind said though this was his first visit to the city as President, he was not a stranger to Bengal. “I have been visiting the state and I have been coming to Kolkata for decades now. I would say I have long been an admirer of Bengal and its culture and its history.
“In fact, there are few people anywhere in our country who have not been touched by Bengal or by some creation of Bengal. Somehow, in some manner, this state has touched every Indian and enriched the lives of every Indian. Every Indian child has grown up on stories about Bengal or written in Bengal,” he added.
"Bengal has been central to our national identity. The national anthem, Jana Gana Mana, was written on the soil of Bengal by the Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The national song, Vande Mataram, a rallying cry for our freedom fighters, was composed by Maharishi Bankim Chandra Chatterjee as early as the 19th century. And our beloved slogan Jai Hind was given to us by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a great son of Bengal and a leader who is cherished, remembered and missed to this day in all parts of our country,” he added.
“A few days ago, I had the honour of visiting the Indian National Army Memorial in Moirang in Manipur. This is where freedom fighters of the INA, inspired by Netaji, raised the national flag for the first time on Indian soil. It was a very moving moment for me.
“ These three – Gurudev Rabindranath, Maharishi Bankim and Netaji Subhas – were instrumental in defining our nationalism. Our freedom came faster because of the energy they gave our people,” Mr Kovind said.
During his visit, he will also be travelling to Belur to pay his respects to Ramakrishna Paramhansa and his finest disciple, Swami Vivekananda.
"In their own manner, they rediscovered our ancient Indian ethos not only for us in India – but for the world. Swamiji was among our earliest modern cultural ambassadors. His work lives on through the Ramakrishna Mission. This institution has been instrumental in our nation-building process,” he added.
“Our nation-building owes so much to Bengal and the sacrifices and achievements of the people of this land. A galaxy of revolutionary heroes from Bengal helped us get Independence, each doing his or her little bit, quietly, without seeking any reward.
“Young Khudiram Bose went to the gallows with a smile and with the dream of a free India in his eyes. The elderly but determined Matangini Hazra was shot by the colonial police. She died with Vande Mataram on her lips and the hopes of our motherland in her heart,” the President said.
“A number of our pioneering women leaders were from Bengal – perhaps the most famous of them being Sarojini Chattopadhyay, who became Sarojini Naidu after her marriage. So many of our foundational social reform movements began here – from the times of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and later Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, who set up among the first institutions for women’s education,” he added.
“And in education, we cannot forget the contribution of that remarkable father and son, Ashutosh Mukherjee and Shyamaprasad Mukherjee. Or in the field of law, the humanism of that upholder of justice, the jurist Radha Binod Pal. He is still recalled with affection in Japan for his sympathy for ordinary men, women and children who had suffered the horrors of two nuclear bombs,” Mr Kovind said.

Kovind to visit West Bengal, Mizoram, Nagaland from Nov 28 to Dec 1

President Ram Nath Kovind will visit West Bengal, Mizoram and Nagaland from November 28 to December 1 in his first trip to the three states after assuming office in July this year.
An official press release said Mr. Kovind would attend a civic reception hosted in his honour at Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata tomorrow. He will also address the "Vigyan Chintan - Scientific Ecosystem in Kolkata" at Raj Bhavan in Kolkata.
On Wednesday, the President will visit the birthplace of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore at Jorasanko and Netaji Bhawan in Kolkata. He will also address the closing ceremony of the centenary celebrations of the Bose Institute in Kolkata and visit the Ramakrishna Mission and Math at Belur.
On the same day, at the Raj Bhavan, Aizawl, Mizoram, the President will inaugurate housing complexes for economically weaker sections under the ‘Basic Services to Urban Poor Scheme’. On November 30, 2017, the President will address a special session of the Mizoram Legislative Assembly.
On the same day, he will meet and interact with various prominent citizens and NGOs in Kohima, Nagaland. On December 1, the President will inaugurate the Hornbill Festival and State Formation Day celebrations of Nagaland in Kisama, before returning to Delhi.

Bye-elections in R. K. Nagar, Tamil Nadu and four seats in Arunachal, UP, West Bengal to be held on December 21

The Election Commission today announced that it would hold bye-elections on December 21 to fill up five vacancies in the State Legislative Assemblies of Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The vacant seats include Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where a bye-election was necessitated by the death on December 5, 2016 of then Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
The other seats for which bye-elections will be held are 12 – Pakke-Kasang (ST) and 28 – Likabali (ST) (Arunachal Pradesh); 207-Sikandra (Uttar Pradesh); and 226-Sabang (West Bengal).
The notification for the elections will be issued on November 27 and the last date for filing nominations is December 4. Scrutiny of nominations will be held on December 5 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is December 7.
Counting of votes will be taken up on December 24 and all the results are expected by that evening.
The electoral rolls of the five constituencies, revised with reference to 01.01.2017 as the qualifying date, will be used for the bye-elections.
The Commission has decided to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails in the bye-elections in all the polling stations, an official press release added.
The bye-election to fill the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar seat was originally slated for April 12 this year, but the Commission had, on April 10, rescinded it because the electoral process had been "seriously vitiated" by unlawful activities of candidates and political parties, including bribing of voters.
At that time, the Commission had said that the bye-election would be held in due course when the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors got removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency became conducive to the holding of free and fair election.

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Modi, Sheikh Hasina, Mamata flag off new train between India, Bangladesh

India, Bangladesh launch connectivity projects
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh  Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today jointly inaugurated a series of connectivity projects between the two countries and flagged off the inaugural run of the Bandhan Express between Kolkata and Khulna through video conference from Kolkata railway station.
The projects include the second Bhairab and Titas Railway Bridges; and the International Rail Passenger Terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata. 
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also joined the event from New Delhi. Mr. Sudip Bandyopadhya, Member of Parliament & Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways, Ms. Mala Saha, MLA, Mr. Harindra Rao, General Manager, Eastern Railway and Mr. Toufique Hassan, Deputy High Commissioner, Bangladesh Deputy High Commission, Kolkata were also present on the occasion at Kolkata station. 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Modi said that the close connection and understanding between two countries required connectivity between the people across the border and the Maitree Express and the Bandhan Express trains would help strengthen the bonding between  the two countries.
He said India had emerged as the most trusted partner of Bangladesh by undertaking and completing a series of developmental projects in Bangladesh.
Ms. Hasina lauded the initiative and expressed hope that there would be more such initiatives for increasing rail links and connectivity between the two countries. She also highlighted the fact that the introduction of International Passenger Rail Terminus with End-to-End Immigration and Customs Clearance Facilities would help reduce the journey time for rail passengers between the two countries.
Ms. Banerjee said the new train would strengthen ties between the two countries.
The Bandhan Express train is the second train to be flagged off after the introduction of Maitree Express’ between Kolkata and Dhaka Cantonment stations in April, 2008. It covers the distance between Kolkata and Khulna through Petrapole and Benapole route.
The Bandhan Express will be a weekly service on every Thursday. The Kolkata - Khulna Bandhan Express (13129 Up) will depart from Kolkata at 07.10 hrs.(IST) and arrives at Khulna at 12:30 hrs.(BST). On the return journey the Khulna-Kolkata Bandhan Express ( 13130 Down) will depart from Khulna at 13.30 hrs. (BST) and arrive at Kolkata at 18.10 hrs.(IST) on the same day. The immigration and customs checks will take place at Kolkata International Passenger Terminal for the Indian side and at Benapol border station for Bangladesh side.
The one kilometer long second Bhairab Railway Bridge was built over the Meghna river at a cost of around $ 75 millions by Indian contractors and consultants. Similarly, the Titas bridge over river Titas in Eastern Bangladesh was built with a cost of around $ 25 million. Both these bridges are on the main Chittagong to Dhaka Trunk Rail Line which will help in faster movement of both passenger and freight trains of Bangladesh, the release added.

Former Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy joins BJP

Former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mukul Roy, who quit the party as well as his Rajya Sabha seat last month, formally joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here today.
Speaking to reporters after joining the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Mr. Roy, 63, said he considered it a privilege to work under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.
Considered to be a close confidant of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee at one stage, Mr. Roy said he believed that the BJP was not a communal party but a secular one.
"I am confident that, in the near future, the BJP will grab power in West Bengal," he said.
According to him, the TMC could not have established itself in West Bengal without the help of the BJP and recalled that Ms. Banerjee had served in the previous NDA government headed by veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Mr. Prasad said Mr. Roy's presence would strengthen the BJP and help it in its efforts to expand its footprint to West Bengal.
Mr. Roy, a founding member of the TMC, served as a member of the Rajya Sabha from April 2006 to April 2012 and was re-elected for a second term in 2012. He resigned from the Upper House of Parliament on October 11 after quitting the TMC.
He had served as Minister of State for Shipping from May 19 to July 12, 2011 and then as Minister of State for Railways in the Manmohan Singh Government from March-September 2012. 

Renowned singer Girija Devi passes away

Girija Devi
Girija Devi
Renowned classical vocalist Girija Devi, whose renditions of thumris, khyal and tappa won her millions of admirers, passed away at a hospital here tonight after suffering a cardiac arrest, sources said.
She was 88. She is survived by a daughter.
Girija Devi was taken to the B M Birla Heart Research Centre this afternoon for treatment of cardiovascular ailments and was put on life support, the sources said.
Hospital sources said she was admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit and kept under continous watch. The end came at around 8.45 pm, they said.
"Saddened by demise of Girija Devi ji. Indian classical music has lost one of its most melodious voices. My thoughts are with her admirers," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter. 
"Girija Devi ji's music appealed across generations. Her pioneering efforts to popularise Indian classical music will always be remembered," he added.
Girija Devi was born on May 8, 1929 to Ramdeo Rai, a zamindar. Her father played the harmonium and taught music, and he made Girija Devi take lessons in singing khyal and tappa from vocalist and sarangi player Sarju Prasad Misra from the age of five.
She made her public debut in 1949 on All India Radio, Allahabad and sang at her first concert in Bihar in 1951. She continued to study with Sri Chand Misra for some more years, until his death. She worked as a member of the faculty at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata in the 1980s and at the Banaras Hindu University during the early 1990s. She also toured and continued to perform and taught several students to preserve her musical heritage.
Girija Devi sang in the Banaras gharana and performed the purabi ang thumri style, typical of the tradition, whose status she helped elevate. Her repertoire included the semi-classical genres kajri, chaiti, and holi and she sang khyal, Indian folk music, and tappa.
The Government had honoured her with the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second highest civilian honour, in 2016. She had been awarded the Padma Shri in 1972 and the Padma Bhushan in 1989.
She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1977 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2010.

Depression over coastal Odisha likely to weaken gradually: IMD

The depression over coastal Odisha is likely to move nearly northwards for some time and then north-northheastwards and weaken gradually into a well-marked low pressure area during the next 24 hours, the India Meteorological Department  (IMD) said this morning.
A bulletin from IMD, issued at 0830 hours this morning, said the depression had moved moved northward and lay centered at 0530 hours of today over coastal Odisha near latitude 20.8º N and longitude 86.5º E, about 25 kms west of Chandbali. 
"The system would move nearly northwards for some time and then north-northeastwards and weaken gradually into a well marked low pressure area during next 24 hours," it said.
The bulletin said that, under its influence, rainfall was very likely at most places over coastal Odisha, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy rainfall over interior Odisha during the next 24 hours.
It said rainfall was very likely at most places over Gangetic West Bengal during the next 48 hours with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places during the next 24 hours, and isolated heavy rainfall over Sub-Himalayan West Bengal during the next 48 hours.
The bulletin also said that rainfall was likely at many places over east Jharkhand, Mizoram and Tripura during next 24 hours, with isolated heavy rainfall, and over Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur during the next 48 hours.
It said rainfall was very likely at most places over west Assam and Meghalaya during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall.
Squally winds speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph would prevail along and off Odisha and West Bengal coasts during the next 12 hrs and 30-40 kmph gusting to 50 kmph along and off north Odisha and West Bengal coasts during subsequent 12 hours, the bulletin said.
The bulletin said sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off Odisha and West Bengal coasts during the next 12 hours and rough along and  off north Odisha and West Bengal coasts during the subsequent 12 hours.
Fishermen along and off north Odisha and West Bengal coasts are advised not to venture into sea during the next 24 hours and along and off south Odisha coast during the next 12 hours, it added.

Minor earthquake shakes Jalpaiguri region of West Bengal

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale, shook the Jalpaiguri region of West Bengal in the early hours of today.
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.8°N and longitude 89.3°E, occurred at 0259 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.

Rajnath appeals to GJM to withdraw "bandh" in Darjeeling Hills

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today appealed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to withdraw the ongoing "bandh" (general strike) in the Darjeeling Hills.
He also asked the Union Home Secretary to convene an official level meeting in the Ministry of Home Affairs within a fortnight to discuss all related issues, an official press release said.
“On the call of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) an indefinite strike is currently on in the Darjeeling Hills since June 12, 2017. Eleven precious lives have been lost so far, several have been injured and the entire people of Darjeeling hills have suffered a lot since the strike. I have been pained immensely by what has happened in Darjeeling hills,” the Home Minister said in his appeal.
“In a democracy, dialogue is the only way out to resolve any problem. Solutions can be found through restraint, mutual dialogue and within the legal ambit,” he said.
“I have asked the Home Secretary to convene an official level meeting in the Home Ministry within a fortnight to discuss all related issues. I also appeal to the GJM and its leader Bimal Gurung to withdraw the ongoing bandh and to help create a conducive atmosphere for allowing normalcy to return to the area, particularly in view of the festive season,” Mr Rajnath Singh added.

Scientists develop natural material for faster blood clotting

Excessive blood loss due to injury may result in serious medical complications and, in extreme situations, even death. The problem could be severe in case of patients with impaired blood clotting capacity such as in hemophilia. To address this challenge, Indian scientists have developed a nature-inspired biomaterial with enhanced blood clotting efficiency to treat injuries.
The new material has been developed by scientists at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata (IISERK) and Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata. Researchers have modified natural biomaterials, peptides, to develop sealants with improved strength, stability and clotting properties.
"We have engineered fibrin-inspired peptide-based sealants which have demonstrated superior blood clotting ability than natural fibrin,” explained Dr Rituparna Sinha Roy, a member of the research team.
The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Computer based analyses was employed, using various approaches, to generate sealant structures with desired properties, explained Prof Dhananjay Bhattacharyya, a senior researcher of the study. These structures were then synthesized and evaluated under laboratory conditions.
These tests revealed that the engineered sealant was able to self-assemble, much like the human body’s natural clotting mechanism, to form an interwoven structure resembling a clot but in nearly half the time. This enhanced clotting rate can play an extremely crucial role in treating injuries sustained during accidents or military combat, researchers pointed out.
The natural material of the engineered sealant will ensure that it is tolerated by the body with minimal inflammatory response. It is also bio-degradable, similar to the natural clotting factor. “Such sealants might be potentially translated into clinics for handling traumatic coagulopathy and for treating patients suffering from impaired blood clotting", felt Sinha Roy.
The researchers claim that the sealant may also find use in treating injuries where surrounding healthy skin tissue is absent and the body is incapable of closing its own wounds. The study also proposes the use of the engineered sealants in suture-free wound closing, such as in deep cuts or after surgical procedure.
The research team included Snehasish Ghosh, Sanchita Mukherjee, Chiranjit Dutta, Kasturee Chakraborty, Paramita Gayen, Somnath Jan, Dhananjay Bhattacharyya and Rituparna Sinha Roy. 
(India Science Wire)
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