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West Bengal

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 Tram services on some routes have been withdrawn, a Kolkata Traffic Control official said.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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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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5 dead in Bengal bus accident

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A bus accident in West Bengal's Hooghly district left five persons dead and many others injured on Tuesday, police said.
 
"The bus overturned and fell into the Dakatiya Khaal (a canal) on Haripal Road this morning. The injured were rushed to hospital," a police official said.
 
The rescue operation was still underway and the cause or extent of damage due to the accident was not yet clear, he added.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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CCEA approves closure of Biecco Lawrie Limited

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved the proposal for closure of the public sector Biecco Lawrie Limited (BLL) including giving Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS)/ Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) to the employees of the company.
 
The idling assets of BLL will be subsequently put into productive use after meeting all the liabilities in accordance with the extant guidelines of the Government, an official press release said.
 
The release said the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had taken various steps for the revival of the company from time to time. However, the company could not be revived and, further, there appeared no possibility of revival of the company considering the competitive business environment as well as huge capital requirement.
 
The continued loss has made further operations of the company not only unviable but also resulted in substantial distress to officials and staff due to an uncertain future, it said.
 
BLL is a Schedule ‘C’ Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) with 67.33% and 32.33% equity share held by Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) and Government of India, respectively. The remaining 0.44% shares are held by others.
 
The company, having its registered office and headquarters in Kolkata, West Bengal operates in four business segments: Switchgear Manufacturing, Electrical Repair, Projects Division and Lube blending & filling facility.
 
The company has consistently been under financial stress and has had performance-related issues. It has been making losses for the last several years. BLL’s accumulated losses had become more than the equity and the net worth had become negative.
 
The net worth of the company stood at Rs (-) 78.88 crore at the end of the FY 2017-18 and accumulated loss as on 31.03.2018 was Rs (-) 153.95 crore.
 
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ADB to provide $ 100m loan for expansion of sewerage, drainage coverage in Kolkata

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The Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $100 million loan agreement here on Wednesday to continue to expand sewerage and drainage coverage, provide sewage treatment and strengthen the capacity of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) for resilient urban services.
 
The third and final tranche loan under the $400 million multi-tranche facility, Kolkata Environmental Improvement Investment Program, will target expansion of sewerage and drainage services in selected peripheral areas of KMC to at least 3,000 additional households and provide sewage treatment for at least 100,000 households, an official press release said.
 
The signatories to the tranche 3 loan agreement were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed for Government of India; and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed for ADB.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Khare said that the new project would supplement the efforts made in the previous phases that aim to provide affordable access to water supply, sewerage and drainage services in Kolkata, and enhance quality and sustainability of urban service delivery through institutional reforms and capacity building.
 
Mr. Yokoyama said that the financing under Tranche 3 will be used to construct 43 km of additional sewer drain pipes, four pumping stations, 13 km of pumping mains, and three sewage treatment plants to improve sanitation service quality and climate resilience in selected areas of KMC.
 
"The overall goal of the Kolkata Environmental Improvement Investment Program, approved in 2014, is to restore water production capacity to 1,478 million litres per day and ensure leaks on 700 kilometers of water pipes are repaired by 2023. It aims to install 170 kilometers of sewer-drain pipes and provide new sewerage connections to 27,000 homes, at least 15% of which will be vulnerable households or households headed by women. Installation of 40,000 water meters in pilot areas should help improve and sustain water management. Sub-projects under the previous two tranches are already helping achieve some of these outputs," the release added.
 
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ADB to provide $ 240 million loan for safe drinking water in three West Bengal districts

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The Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Wednesday signed $240 million loan for providing safe and sustainable drinking water to about 1.65 million people in three districts of West Bengal affected by arsenic, fluoride, and salinity.
 
The signatories to the West Bengal Drinking Water Sector Improvement Project were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed for the Government of India; and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed for ADB.
 
"Heavy reliance on groundwater puts most of the rural population in West Bengal at risk from arsenic and fluoride contamination that can lead to health problems including cancer and bone diseases. The project aims to mitigate these risks through provision of continuous potable water through metered connections to about 390,000 individual households in three districts – Bankura, North 24 Parganas, and Purba Medinipur," an official press release said.
 
“The project addresses the concerns relating to excessive use of groundwater to sustainable surface water based piped schemes,” said Mr. Khare. “This will help mitigate the health risks from using groundwater with elevated levels of arsenic and fluoride.”
 
Mr. Yokoyama said, “Besides reducing the burden of diseases from contaminated groundwater, the project will promote higher service levels compared with rural schemes in India with individual household connections and district metering area based metered continuous water supply, and use of advanced technology for smart water management.”
 
The project is supported by a grant of $3 million from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, financed by the Government of Japan, and a $2 million grant from ADB’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund.
 
This will support the state government in strengthening its smart water management system, improve flood-related early warning and response, and provide training on operation and maintenance as well as climate change and disaster resilience, the release added.
 
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Fire breaks out in pharmacy of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital

 
Fire breaks out at Kolkata Medical College and Hospital
 
 
A fire broke out in the pharmacy of the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital here this morning but no casualties were reported.
 
As many as ten fire tenders were rushed to the scene to douse the fire, which were noticed at around 8 am today.
 
About 250 patients and others were evacuated to safety, official sources said.
 
The cause of the fire and the extent of the damage could not be ascertained immediately.
 
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ADB to provide $ 150 million loan for improving road connectivity in West Bengal, NE region

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of lndia signed  a $150 million loan here on Monday to finance continued improvements to road connectivity and efficiency of the International Trade Corridor in West Bengal and North-Eastern Region of lndia. 
 
The signatories to the Tranche 2 Loan Agreement for the $500 million South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity lnvestment Program were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, who signed on behalf of the Government of lndia; and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB's lndia Resident Mission, who signed for ADB. 
 
Approved in 2014, the program aims to expand about 500 kilometers of roads in lndia's North Bengal and North-Eastern Region that will enable efficient and safe transport within lndia and regionally with other SASEC member-countries.
 
The Project Agreement for the state of Manipur was signed by Mr. Sheikh Abdul Hakim, Under Secretary (Works) and for the National Highways and lnfrastructure Development Corporation Limited was signed by Mr. W. Blah, Executive Director (Works).
 
After signing the loan agreement, Mr. Khare said that the program is an important initiative in regional connectivity aimed at increasing domestic and regional trade through North Bengal-North East Region International Trade corridor by upgrading key roads. He said that it will give a boost to lndia's efforts to promote regional connectivity in South Asia.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Yokoyama said that the new loan will help upgradation of key national and state highways in Manipur and construct an important international bridge for crucial last-mile connectivity between in-country trunk road network and neighbouring countries.
 
The Tranche 2 Project will upgrade about 65 kilometers of lmphal-Moreh Section of National Highway in Manipur, construction of about 1.5 km of an international bridge between lndia and Nepal, and completion of about 103 km of a State Highway in Manipur between lmphal and Tamenglong under Project-I. The project will reduce transaction costs along the targeted cross-border corridors substantially, creating economies of scale and commercial prosperity, an official press release said.
 
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Rajnath chairs meeting of Eastern Zonal Council in Kolkata

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday that it had been the endeavour of the present Government to strengthen the institution of the Zonal Councils as well as the Inter-State Council in order to promote and maintain a good federal atmosphere of cooperation among the States and between the Centre and the States as well.
 
Chairing the  23rd meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council here, he said that, as a result, in the last four years, 13 Zonal Council meetings and 15 Standing Committee meetings had been held.  
 
In these meetings, about 700 issues had been discussed, out of which about 450 were resolved, he said.
 
The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, and Ministers from the States of the Council including Odisha as well as senior officers from Central and State Governments.
 
The Council reviewed the progress of unresolved items of the last meeting relating to Phulbari Dam under the Agreement of 1978 between Bihar and West Bengal, and release of central share under post-matric and pre-matric scholarship schemes for SCs/STs/OBCs.
 
The scheme for modernization of state police forces, allocation of land for National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research at Kolkata and Hajipur, and maternal and child nutrition through Integrated Food Fortification Project also came up for review.
 
The measures for bringing green revolution to Eastern India,  issues relating to mining and coal mining in States of the Eastern Zone, issues arising out of the bifurcation of Bihar and Jharkhand, measures to curb Left Wing Extremism, and rail movement for socio-economic development of the Eastern zone came up for discussion.
 
Railway electrification, construction of dedicated freight corridor, road overbridges and road under bridges in lieu of level crossings, waiver of condition of advance payment for Central Armed Police Forces deployment by Ministry of Home Affairs, and release of balance funds to Bihar under Backward Region Grant Fund also came up at the meeting.
 
The Council also took up 15 new issues. These include development of allocated coal mines, implementation of various National Programs of Health, establishment of shelters for urban homeless under DAY-National Urban Livelihood Mission,  expeditious clearance for right of way for laying optical fibre cable, teachers education, land acquisition  for development of 11 airports in these States, and implementation of provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.
 
Other issues like Statistical Strengthening Scheme, doing away with the systems of affidavits and attestation of certificates by gazette officers and by allowing self-attestation, compliance of the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites, e-Office, e-Governance  and Nodal Officer of public grievances portal also figured at the meeting.  Out of the total 30 items discussed,  26 were resolved in the meeting, an official press release said.
 
Earlier, the Standing Committee of the Council met on December 21, 2017, in which 7 items including curbing of drugs trafficking in these States were discussed along with issues relating to fisheries, productivity of livestock & poultry, model flood code for chronically flood affected areas, communal situation in these States, installation of Doppler radar at Ranchi, implementation of recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, rationalization of funding pattern under centrally sponsored schemes.
 
The five Zonal Councils (Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Central) were set up under the States Reorganization Act, 1956 to foster Inter-State co-operation and co-ordination among the States.
 
They are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities, inter-state transport, and so on.
 
They are regional fora of cooperative endeavor for States linked with each other economically, politically and culturally. Being compact high level bodies, specially meant for looking after the interests of respective Zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors, while keeping the national perspective in view.
 
The deliberations of the Council were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere in the true spirit of cooperative federalism and ended with the decision to host the next meeting in Bihar.
 
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SpiceJet launches flights from Kolkata to Pakyong in Sikkim

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced the launch of new daily direct flights from Kolkata to the newly opened Pakyong airport near Gangtok in Sikkim from October 4.
 
The airline also announced the launch of four other daily direct new flights from Kolkata.
 
Pakyong will be SpiceJet's ninth destination under UDAN, the government's regional connectivity scheme, a press release from the airline said. 
 
SpiceJet is the only airline to provide air connectivity to Sikkim and connecting it to the rest of the country, it said.
 
The airline is also the first and only airline to offer daily direct flights on the Kolkata-Kanpur-Kolkata route effective November 1.
 
Additionally, the airline is also set to operate flights connecting Varanasi with Kolkata effective October 4.
 
It has also introduced a third frequency on the Kolkata-Bagdogra-Kolkata and the Kolkata-Mumbai-Kolkata sectors starting November 1.
 
Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer, SpiceJet said, “SpiceJet is delighted to connect Kolkata, the country’s cultural capital, like never before. The city known for its food, literature and theatre has a unique tourism potential. Besides it is also the connecting gateway to key tourism hotspots like Darjeeling. We are confident that the enhanced air connectivity will boost the state’s growth prospects.”
 
The release said the airline would also introduce six new domestic flights, including new direct flights on the Delhi-Coimbatore-Delhi route on all days from October 8 and the Bengaluru-Madurai-Bengaluru sector on all days except Tuesdays. SpiceJet will become the first airline to introduce daily direct services on the Bengaluru-Udaipur-Bengaluru sector from November 7.
 
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Bengal Bandh: BJP called shutdown hits normal life

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Rail blockades at many stations and sporadic incidents across West Bengal districts partially hit normal life in a 12-hour shutdown called by the BJP on Wednesday.
 
Vehicular traffic though remained near normal.
 
Following the killing of two youths during a clash between agitating students and the police last week over the recruitment of new teachers at a school at Islampur in North Dinajpur district, the Bharatiya Janata Party called the shutdown claiming the two were shot dead by the police.
 
They have demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the incident.
 
The shutdown supporters put up rail blockades and clashed with the police in many stations in the suburbs in South 24 Parganas district's Diamond Harbour, Lakhikantapur, Canning; North 24 Pargans' Jaggadal, Kakinara, Madhaygram; Hooghly's Konnagar; East Midnapore's Mecheda and Howrah's Phuleswar.
 
Train services were disrupted both in Howrah and Sealdah division of the Eastern Railway.
 
Fresh obstructions were made at Titagarh, Aranghata (Ranaghat Gede section), Krishnanagar, Barasat, Pyradanga (Kalyani Ranaghat section) and Bhabla (Barasat Bangaon) in the Sealdah division.
 
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In the Howrah division, agitators obstructed train movement at Bansberia (Bandel Katwa section) and at Baidyabati (Howrah Bandel section).
 
The BJP activists, who took out rallies in many places, vandalised a number of state government buses in Howrah and Coochbehar districts.
 
In Kolkata, though, people hit the streets in the morning and many public and private buses, taxis, autos were seen plying normally on the roads. Most shops though remained closed. 
 
State Minister and Trinamool Congress' Secretary General Partha Chatterjee had said that the government would take all measures to maintain public utility services.
 
State BJP President Dilip Ghosh has said there would be repercussions if the ruling Trinamool deploys hooligans or uses the administration to foil the movement. 
 
The state government has issued a circular stating its offices would remain open on Wednesday and no leave would be granted. It also urged banks, educational institutions including schools and colleges to remain open.
 
Additional police personnel have been deployed throughout the state to prevent any disruption or violence in connection with the shutdown.
 
IANS
 

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Former BCCI chief B. N. Dutt passes away

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Former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President B.N. Dutt died at his south Kolkata residence on Monday following respiratory ailments, family sources said.
 
Dutt, 92, is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
 
The veteran cricket administrator was in and out of hospital in the recent past when his condition deteriorated due to a lung infection.
 
Dutt was BCCI President from 1988 to 1990. He also served as president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) from 1986 to 1991.
 
He also presided over the Indian Football Association.
 
Condoling his death, CAB President and former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly described Dutt as a 'master administrator'.
 
"It is a massive loss. It is a void very hard to be filled," Ganguly said.
 
IANS
 

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Somen Mitra to head Congress in Bengal

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The Congress on Friday appointed Somen Mitra as president of its West Bengal unit, replacing Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury who was bitterly anti-Trinamool Congress and pro-Left. Chowdhury will be the Chairman of the campaign committee.
 
Immediately after the announcement, Mitra said he would work to strengthen the party in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections.
 
"If we fail to strengthen the party's organisation, we will not be able to get people's support. Therefore, my first aim will be to strengthen the party in Bengal. We need collaborative cooperation by party leaders, activists and general people to achieve that goal," he said.
 
Mitra, who takes over the reins of the state Congress after over two decades, refused to say whether his party would join hands with the state's ruling Trinamool Congress to counter the rising clout of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.
 
"We cannot take a decision on that. Congress is a national party. So decisions taken by the state units do not have any value. If the party asks us, we will convey our opinion," he said.
 
"I will talk to co-workers and party leaders and then take the call on this issue."
 
"Party's central leadership has given me this responsibility. They have shown confidence and belief on me. I have never asked for any post from any level of our party's leadership," he said responding to a query on the possible reasons for which he was handed over responsibility at the age of 75.
 
Mitra assured he would hold talks with the Congress MLAs who had been opposing Chowdhury's leadership in the state.
 
Chowdhury had repeatedly claimed that he does not have any political understanding with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and argued in favour of an alliance with the Left in 2019.
 
Besides the appointments of Mitra and Chowdhury, Congress President Rahul Gandhi also named Pradip Bhattacharya as the Chairman of the Coordination Committee.
 
Shankar Malakar, Nepal Mahato and Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury have been named as Working Presidents.
 
Mitra, affectionately called "Chhorda" (youngest elder brother) by the Congress rank and file, has enjoyed a bitter sweet relations with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. The two became arch-rivals when Banerjee started rising in the party hierarchy by leaving behind veteran leaders in the mid 1980s and the 1990s.
 
It was after losing to Mitra's organisational might in the state Congress presidential election that Banerjee quit the party and formed the Trinamool in 1997.
 
Mitra, on the other hand, left the Congress in 2008 to float his own party, Pragatisheel Indira Congress, which he merged with the Trinamool in 2009. He won the Lok Sabha polls on a Trinamool ticket in 2009, but rejoined the Congress in 2014.
 
There have been reports of infighting within the Bengal Congress for some time, with several state party members writing to the central leadership seeking Chowdhury's removal to revive the Congress in the state.
 
IANS
 

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Modi, Sheikh Hasina dedicate three projects in Bangladesh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicating three projects in Bangladesh in New Delhi, jointly with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Das via video-conference, on September 10, 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicating three projects in Bangladesh in New Delhi, jointly with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Das via video-conference, on September 10, 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina and Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee and Biplab Kumar Das of West Bengal and Tripura today jointly inaugurated three projects in Bangladesh via video conference.
 
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Bangladesh counterpart also joined the video conference from New Delhi and Dhaka, respectively.
 
The three projects are 500 MW additional power supply from India to Bangladesh, through the existing Bheramara (Bangladesh) - Baharampur (India) interconnection, the Akhaura – Agartala Rail Link and rehabilitation of the Kulaura-Shahbazpur section of Bangladesh Railways. 
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Modi recalled that he had met Ms. Hasina several times in the recent past, including at the BIMSTEC meeting in Kathmandu, in Shanti Niketan, and during the Commonwealth Summit in London. 
 
He reiterated his view that leaders of neighbouring countries should have a relationship like neighbours, talking and visiting frequently, without getting bogged down by protocol. He said this closeness is evident in the frequent interactions between him and the Bangladesh Prime Minister. 
 
Mr. Modi recalled Ms. Hasina’s vision of restoring connectivity to the way it was before 1965. He said that he is happy that in the last few years, there has been steady progress towards this goal. 
 
"Today, we have increased our power connectivity, and started two projects to increase our railway connectivity," he noted.
 
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He recalled that during his visit to Bangladesh in 2015, it had been decided to supply an additional 500 MW power to Bangladesh. He said this is being done using the transmission link between West Bengal and Bangladesh, and thanked the Chief Minister of West Bengal for facilitating the completion of this work. He said that with the completion of this project, 1.16 gigawatts of power is now being supplied from India to Bangladesh. 
 
"This journey from megawatts to gigawatts is symbolic of a golden era in the relations between India and Bangladesh," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that Akhaura-Agartala rail connectivity will provide another link in the cross-border connectivity between the two countries. He thanked the Chief Minister of Tripura for facilitating the completion  of this work.
 
Mr. Modi appreciated Mr. Hasina’s development goals of transforming Bangladesh into a middle income country by 2021, and a developed country by 2041. He said that closer relations and people-to-people links between the two countries would take their development and prosperity to new heights. 
 
NNN
 

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Protesting commuters block Eastern Railway's Sealdah main line

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Train services were disrupted on the Sealdah main line section on Saturday as a group of people obstructed train movement at Sodepur station for almost three hours protesting against the trains running late, an Eastern Railway spokesperson said.
 
"We had issued notifications for development works which would benefit the daily passengers. But this kind of disruption is totally unexpected," Eastern Railway chief public relations officer Ravi Mahapatra said.
 
The notification had stated that trains were running late due to the ongoing non-interlocking work for commissioning of an automatic signalling system between Barrackpur and Ichapur. The work started on September 7 and will end on September 10.
 
Mahapatra alleged that the agitators pelted stones at the station master's office and damaged office furniture.
 
As a result of the obstruction during peak hours, hundreds of passengers were stranded as three EMU on the up line and 15 EMU locals on the downline were detained.
 
Normal train services were resumed on the Sealdah-Ranaghat section as the obstruction that started around 9.30 a.m. at Sodepur station was lifted at 12.30 p.m.
 
As a result of the obstruction, three up and down trains had to be detained en route for two and a half each on an average. 20 EMU locals had to be cancelled.
 
"It was quite unfortunate that the obstructors assaulted the on-duty station superintendent during obstruction period and ransacked his cabin.
 
"One Express and three passenger trains were also detained for two hours each on average," added Mahapatra in a statement.
 
IANS
 

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Another bridge collapses in West Bengal, none injured

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Three days after a portion of the Majerhat bridge collapsed in Kolkata, another bridge caved in at Mangach in Darjeeling district of West Bengal on Friday, police said. No casualty or injury has, however, been reported so far.
 
The bridge over Pichla river in Phansidewa block came down when a lorry carrying bricks was crossing it, they said.
 
North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh, who visited the spot after the incident, blamed the lorry driver and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad for the mishap.
 
The 30-year-old bridge was built and maintained by the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad.
 
"The lorry driver should have given a thought as to whether the bridge was capable of withstanding the load of the heavy vehicle. Many drivers are reckless. This is one such example.
 
"Our panchayat representatives have also time and again given representation to the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad requesting that the bridge be repaired. But no one paid any heed to their pleas," said the Minister.
 
On August 11, an under-construction flyover had come crashing down at Goaltuli of Phansideoa Block.
 
Three people were killed and 19 injured when the Majherhat bridge in south Kolkata collapsed on Wednesday.
 
IANS
 

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Kolkata bridge collapse: Toll reaches 3, NDRF calls off rescue efforts

One more body was recovered from the bridge collapse site in south Kolkata's Majherhat on Thursday, taking the death toll to three in the accident, police said.

 
Majerhat bridge collapse: Death toll rises to 3
 
 
One more body was recovered from the bridge collapse site in south Kolkata's Majherhat on Thursday, taking the death toll to three in the accident, police said.
 
The recovery was made at around 6.30 a.m. as the rescue operations continued overnight.
 
"The body was that of one Goutam Mondal trapped under the rubble," the police said.
 
They suspect he is one of the two labourers who were missing since the bridge collapsed on Tuesday afternoon. The rescue team late on Wednesday recovered the other body of Pranab Dey.
 
Both are from West Bengal's Murshidabad distrct.
 
"The rescue operation has ended," said an official of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
 
As many as 19 people were injured in the accident and many of them, were discharged from the hospitals. The condition of two remain critical.
 
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the family of the deceased while the critically injured would get Rs 1 lakh each.
 
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the collapse site on Wednesday evening and said the accident would be investigated by a high level committee led by the state Chief Secretary Malay De.
 
According to her, a compensation cheque was already sent to Soumen Bagh's family, who died on Tuesday after the 54 year-old bridge collapsed.
 
Banerjee on Thursday would hold a meeting with the state Public Works Department (PWD) and Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) officials and sought a detailed health report of the bridges.
 
IANS

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Kolkata bridge collapse: Rescue operations continue

 
Kolkata bridge collapse: rescue efforts on
 
 
Rescue operations are continuing on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier.
 
A part of the Majherhat bridge between Taratala and Mominpur collapsed around 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday. So far, one person has died and 19 others injured in the accident.
 
"Our team is still working on the rescue. Overnight and this morning, we tried to dig holes on 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.
 
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 were being used for the rescue operation. Three columns of army personnel were also present at the spot.
 
The West Bengal government has initiated a probe on 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.
 
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Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was in Darjeeling at the time of the accident, has said: "Four-five labourers used to stay in a temporary tin shed under the bridge. If they were there during the collapse, it is possible that something unfortunate may have happened to them." 
 
Goods vehicles have not been allowed to enter the city 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.
 
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, have 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 any structural defect or use of inferior quality of material as the reason behind the collapse cannot be attributed. 
 
The bridge has been withstanding heavy vehicles for more than 40 years. The only reason that may trigger 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.
 
IANS

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One dead, 19 injured in bridge collapse in Kolkata

 
Portion of Kolkata's Majerhat Bridge collapses, many feared traopped
 
 
A portion of a bridge collapsed in South Kolkata on Tuesday, crushing a man to death and leaving 19 injured and several vehicles damaged.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who confirmed one death, expressed apprehension about the fate of five-eight people who may be buried in the rubble. Nineteen injured people have been admitted in two city hospitals, she told the media in north Bengal's Darjeeling.
 
Locals, however, claimed five people have been killed in the bridge collapse.
 
At least 20-25 injured people have been rescued by fire officials while more people are feared trapped under the rubble, officials said.
 
"A part of the Majherhat bridge between Taratala and Mominpur collapsed around 4.30 p.m," a fire official said. Initially six fire tenders were pressed into service.
 
"At least 20-25 people have been rescued from the spot. It is possible that not many are trapped under the collapsed part of the bridge. But we need to remove the debris to find out what is underneath," another official working at the accident site said.
 
Four teams of 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 the Army have been kept ready if required, a spokesperson of the Eastern Command said.
 
The rescue operation was impeded due to occasional rain and lack of daylight on a rainy day.
 
Banerjee, now on a trip to Darjeeling, expressed concern over the incident and said her government will initiate a probe into the cause of the bridge collapse.
 
"We have heard one person died so far. We are trying to get back but it takes close to four hours even to get down to the plains from the Darjeeling hills on a rainy day. Also no flights are available right now.
 
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"We are constantly monitoring the situation. We are initiating a probe so that everything can be found out. Steps are being taken on an emergency footing to rescue those who are trapped," said Banerjee.
 
She added: "We have heard that four-five labourers used to stay in a temporary tin shed under the bridge. If they were there during the collapse, it is possible that something unfortunate may have happened to them. However, all the pedestrians and passengers in the public and private vehicles could be rescued. We are concerned about the lives of five to eight people who might have got trapped underneath."
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed grief over the accident.
 
"The collapse of a part of a bridge in Kolkata is deeply unfortunate. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. I pray that those who are injured recover at the earliest," Modi said in a tweet.
 
State Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi also visited the spot.
 
Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, who rushed to the spot, said rescue teams who went under the bridge did not find any trapped persons.
 
"They have not found any trapped persons so far. But they are still trying to ascertain whether anybody is trapped," he said.
 
According to a state official, the 40-year-old bridge was constructed by the Kolkata Port Trust and maintained by State Public Works Department.
 
Tuesday's incident has revived the dreadful memory of the Posta flyover collapse here two years ago. Twenty-six people were killed when the under-construction Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in the city's Posta area on March 31, 2016.
 
IANS
 

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Bridge partially collapses in Kolkata, several injured

The bridge that partially collapsed in South Kolkata's Majherhat area toppling some vehicles including two- and four-wheelers on September 4, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
The bridge that partially collapsed in South Kolkata's Majherhat area toppling some vehicles including two- and four-wheelers on September 4, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Bringing back the dreadful memory of Posta flyover collapse here two years back, a bridge partially collapsed in South Kolkata on Tuesday, toppling several vehicles.
 
At least 20-25 injured people have been rescued by fire officials while many more are feared trapped under the rubble, officials said.
 
"A part of the Majherhat bridge between Taratala and Mominpur partially collapsed around 4.30 p.m. Six fire tenders have been pressed into service," a fire official said.
 
"At least 20-25 people have been rescued from the spot. It is possible that not a lot of people got trapped under the collapsed part of the bridge. But we need to remove the debris to find out what is underneath," another official working on the accident spot said.
 
Disaster management teams employed cranes for the rescue operation.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, now on a trip to Darjeeling in North Bengal, expressed concern over the incident and said her government will initiate a probe into the collapse.
 
She said she was trying to return to Kolkata but it takes close to four hours even to get down to the plains from the Darjeeling hills on a rainy day. Also, no flights were available now.
 
"We are constantly monitoring the situation. We are initiating a probe so that everything can be found out and we are taking steps on an emergency basis to rescue those who are trapped," she added.
 
Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, who rushed to the spot, said rescue teams who went under the bridge did not find any trapped persons.
 
"They have not found any trapped persons so far. But they are still trying to ascertain whether anybody is trapped," he said.
 
Twenty-six people were killed when the under-construction Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in the city's Posta area on March 31, 2016.
 
IANS
 

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