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West Bengal

Cabinet okays amendment to Delimitation Act, Representation of the People Act

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for amendment of section 11 of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and section 9 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950. 
 
This will enable the Election Commission to carry out limited delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal consequent upon the exchange of 51 Bangladeshi enclaves and 111 Indian enclaves, respectively, between India and Bangladesh, with effect from 31st July, 2015. 
 
This is in pursuance of the Constitution (One Hundredth Amendment) Act, 2015 and also allows for introduction of a Bill, namely, the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament. 
 
In a historic pact between India and Bangladesh, 51 Bangladeshi enclaves (Chhitmahals) in Indian Territory and 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh territory were exchanged with effect from 31st July, 2015. The move altered the geography and demography of the district of Cooch Behar in West Bengal. 
 
With a view to carry out consequential geographic and demographic alterations vis-à-vis the electoral mosaic of the affected areas, the Election Commission requested the Government to amend section 11 of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and section 9 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 to enable it to carry out limited delimitation of constituencies in the affected areas. 
 
Since the newly acquired area consequent upon the exchange of territory between India and Bangladesh has become part of Indian territory, it is required to make delimitation exercise within the limited constituency area before the ensuing State Assembly elections in West Bengal, the release added.
 
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NDRC inks MoU with IICB to promote entrepreneurship

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The National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) has entered into  a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata to promote entrepreneurship.  
 
NRDC Chairman and Managing Director H. Purushotham and CSIR-ICCB Director Samit Chattopadhyay signed the MoU in the presence of Union Minister of Science & Technology Harsh Vardhan  and West Bengal Minister  for Science, Technology & Biotechnology Rabiranjan Chattopadhyay.
 
CSIR-IICB is engaged in research on diseases and certain biological problems of global interest. To spin out these R&D outcomes and with a view to contribute country’s startup movement, CSIR-IICB established a Translational Research Unit of Excellence (TRUE) which includes an Incubation Centre of about 10,000 sq. ft..  
 
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13 Additional Judges appointed in Calcutta High Court

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The President has appointed 13 Additional Judges in the Calcutta High Court, an official press release said here today.
 
They include Mr. Indrajit Chatterjee, Mr. Shib Sadhan Sadhu, Mr. Sudip Ahluwalia, Mr. Tapash Mookherjee, Mr. Ranjit Kumar Bag and Mr. Ishan Chandra Das who have been appointed for a period of six months with effect from December 31.
 
In the case of Mr. Sadhu, the appointment is with effect from 31st December, 2015 till 9th April, 2016, the date of his superannuation, it said.
 
The others appointed are Ms. Samapati Chatterjee, Mr. Sahidullah Munshi, Mr. Subrata Talukdar, Mr. Tapabrata Chakraborty, Mr. Arindam Sinha, Mr. Arijit Banerjee, and Mr. Debangsu Basak.
 
Their appointment is for a period of six months with effect from 30th January, 2016, the release added.
 
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Mukherjee to visit West Bengal from Jan 5-6

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to West Bengal from tomorrow, an official press release said.
 
On January 6, Mr. Mukherjee will inaugurate a new building of Vidyanagar College in South 24 Parganas.
 
On the same day, he will also inaugurate the 200th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Pandit Madan Mohan Tarkalankar at Bilwagram, Nadia before returning to New Delhi, the release added.
 
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Mosaic of being multi-religious makes India an oasis of communal harmony

President Pranab Mukherjee at the closing ceremony of the Bicentenary Celebrations of the Diocese of Calcutta, Church North India, in Kolkata on December 13, 2015.
President Pranab Mukherjee at the closing ceremony of the Bicentenary Celebrations of the Diocese of Calcutta, Church North India, in Kolkata on December 13, 2015.
President Pranab Mukherjee today said that it was the mosaic of being multi-religious that made India an oasis of peaceful co-existence and communal harmony.
 
"The fabric of our society would remain strong when every individual irrespective of caste, creed, language, region and religion can live and partake in its progress without fear and prejudice," he said in his address at the closing ceremony of the bicentenary celebrations of the Diocese of Calcutta, Church of North India, at St. Paul’s Cathedral here.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said that every religion preached the fundamental values of humanity. 
 
"Forbearance, restraint and acceptance of different views form some of our core principles. India prides itself in its pluralistic ideals. In India, several major religions have thrived due to its assimilative character that has come to define our civilization over the centuries. People professing different faiths have lived here in harmony for a long time," he said.
 
"It is here that the Christian community is looked upon with respect for their peaceful and humanitarian nature and for their magnanimous contribution to the process of nation building. In this context, the Diocese of Calcutta’s effort in promoting inter-faith dialogue is truly commendable," he said.
 
"The Diocese of Calcutta has a significant history behind its inception and existence. In 1814, a Letter of Patent was issued where upon the 'Bishopric of Calcutta' was given effect to and the Diocese of Calcutta was defined. The Diocese of Calcutta at that time comprised entire India, including Burma. It extended up to Ceylon and gradually even as far as Borneo, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Cape Town and China. However by the time India became independent in 1947, most of the dioceses outside the geographical boundary of India had become separate. Presently, the Diocese of Calcutta comprises the Churches and institutions in and around the city of Kolkata, a Church at East Midnapore, and the churches located in the neighbouring districts of Howrah and Hooghly," he noted.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said it was sacrosanct to have faith in the greatness of God through kindness and concern for others.
 
He said it was heartening to note that the Diocese of Calcutta along with its Churches, educational institutions and organizations was extensively involved in helping the underprivileged sections of society. 
 
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"Their efforts are aimed at providing equal opportunity to all the deprived and needy people in terms of developing social awareness, gaining access to quality education, building capacity, and providing healthcare services," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee also noted that the Diocese of Calcutta runs many educational institutions, including schools at all levels, from pre-primary to primary, secondary and higher secondary levels. 
 
"These schools impart quality education in both the vernacular and English medium. The society also operates under-graduate colleges and offers post-graduate courses as well. Nursing and engineering colleges, a hospice for AIDS patients, Child Care Centre for the children of AIDS affected or infected parents, Tuberculosis centre and hospitals, Old Age Homes, Orphanages and Day Child Care Centres are other priority projects of the diocese. Women, children, the elderly and backward sections of the population residing in both urban and rural areas are helped by the Diocese through these projects. It has empowered them to break the chains of poverty and injustice, and has helped them to lead a life of human dignity and respect," he said.
 
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Mukherjee says 8% growth achievable with united efforts

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President Pranab Mukherjee today said India could achieve an 8 percent growth in its gross domestic product (GDP) if it made united efforts in this direction.
 
Inaugurating the 185th anniversary celebrations of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce here, he said various countries today considered India an attractive investment destination because of political stability and the government’s new initiatives like Swachh Bharat, Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, and so on.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said India had witnessed a period of high growth, particularly in the middle years of the last decade.
 
"Though the tempo could not be maintained thereafter, we did have good years of growth. This was despite the fact that prolonged global economic slowdown had affected the growth performance of all major economies. Barring a below five percent growth in 2012-13, our economic growth in all other years has been not less than 6.6 percent," he said.
 
The President stressed that a re-energized manufacturing sector was crucial for better economic performance
 
"During the years 2005-06 to 2007-08 when our economy grew by more than 9 percent, exports grew in excess of 20 percent in each of these years. Though exports have come down in the last three years, the import bill has also fallen because of the decline in oil prices. This has helped to keep the current account deficit at a manageable level of 1.4 percent last year. Foreign exchange reserves at US dollar 353 billion as of end October are also at comfortable levels, giving us a cushion to meet any crisis," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee called upon the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce to contribute substantially to the development of the region and the economic regeneration of India.
 
He said the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the oldest associations of its kind in the world, since inception, had played a catalytic role not only in the industrial growth of the region but also in its socio-economic development. 
 
"A unique contribution of the association is its efforts to improve Calcutta’s civic amenities. It took an active interest in the enactment of key legislations in areas like Bengal Town Planning, Merchandise Marks, Copyright, Apprenticeship and Calcutta Port Trust etc.," he added.
 
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Mukherjee to visit West Bengal from Dec 12-14

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a three-day visit to West Bengal from tomorrow, an official press release said here today.
 
Tomorrow, Mr. Mukherjee will inaugurate the 185th anniversary of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata. He will also inaugurate an exhibition of Shahbuddin Ahmed organized by Ganges Art Gallery at ICCR, Kolkata on the same day. 
 
On December 13, the President will deliver the Debranjan Mukherji Memorial Lecture at Raj Bhavan, Kolkata and inaugurate the statue of Lord Shiva at Seth Banshidhar Jalan Smriti Mandir, Howrah. 
 
On the same day, he will also inaugurate the closing ceremony of the Bicentenary Celebrations of the Diocese of Calcutta at St. Paul 's Cathedral, Kolkata and attend the concluding function of 125th Birth Anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru organized by the Bidhan Memorial Trust in Kolkata. 
 
On December 14, Mr. Mukherjee will deliver the Indira Gandhi Memorial Lecture organized by the Asiatic Society in Kolkata. He will also be the chief guest at the final match and prize distribution ceremony of the 6th Edition of KKM Memorial Gold Cup-Rural Football Tournament at Jangipur before returning to New Delhi, the release added.
 
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Mukherjee to present standard to 18 Sqn, 22 Sqn of IAF on Saturday

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President Pranab Mukherjee will present the standard to 18 Squadron and 22 Squadron of the Indian Air Force at Air Force Station Hasimara in Alipurduar district of West Bengal tomorrow.
 
The event will take place during a two-day visit by Mr. Mukherjee to the district from today, an official press release said.
 
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Government formulates strategy to address price rise of raw jute

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The Government has formulated a three-pronged strategy to address the rise in prices of raw jute including imposition of stock limits and dehoarding operations.
 
The strategy was worked out after Textiles Minister Santosh Gangwar held a meeting with stakeholders here on Monday to evolve a suitable strategy for stabilizing the raw jute market and for tackling the situation of rise in the price of raw jute. 
 
Mr. Moloy Ghatak, Minister in charge, Labour, West Bengal government, Mr. Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, MP, also a member of National Jute Board, Mr. S.K. Panda, Secretary (Textiles), Mr. A.M. Reddy, Joint Secretary and Mr. Subrata Gupta, Jute Commissioner were amongst those who attended the meeting.
 
Representatives of the Indian Jute Millers Association and the Jute Balers’ Association were also present.
 
An official press release said the Jute Commissioner had been requested to take appropriate measures for notifying stock limits for raw jute for balers, traders and millers and to undertake de-hoarding measures with the help of State Governments, so that jute produced during the season becomes available for jute mills for continuing their production, as was last done in 2005. 
 
The release said the Department of Commerce and Ministry of External Affairs had been requested to take up the matter with their counterparts in Bangladesh for lifting the ban on export of raw jute by Bangladesh.
 
Appropriate long-term measures shall be taken by the State Governments and Department of Agriculture, Government of India for encouraging jute cultivation and checking its declining trend, it added.
 
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ADB to provide $273m loan to improve rural roads in five states

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed here today a $273 million loan agreement to continue improving rural roads in the states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. 
 
An official press release said the loan represented the third and last tranche of the $800 million financing facility under the Rural Connectivity Investment Program. 
 
The loan will help in constructing over 6,000 kilometers of all-weather rural roads in the five states, benefiting over 4200 rural habitations, it said.
 
Mr. S. Selvakumar, Joint Secretary (Bilateral Cooperation), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance signed the Loan Agreement on behalf of the Government of India while Ms Teresa Kho, Country Director signed the loan agreement for ADB. 
 
Mr. Selvakumar said that the program had supported the Government’s objectives under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) by providing all-weather road connectivity in selected rural areas in the five states. He said that the enhanced connectivity would improve access of rural communities to markets, district headquarters, health and education facilities, and other centers of economic activity. 
 
Ms Kho said that it was expected that Project 3 would result in benefits similar to the previous two projects including improving and sustaining the connectivity of selected rural communities in the five states. She said that this loan would be used to make further investments as well as supporting improved road design, road safety and asset management measures, and training, with women actively involved in all aspects. 
 
The Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) is the executing agency of the project at the central level, while the Governments of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal have been entrusted with overall implementation at the respective state level. 
 
The third tranche is expected to be completed by December, 2017. The implementing agencies at the state level will be the respective State Rural Roads Development Agencies, the release added.
 
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Cabinet nod for three new AIIMS at Nagpur, Manglagiri, Kalyani

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for the setting up of three new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AllMS) at Nagpur in Maharashtra, Manglagiri in Andhra Pradesh and Kalyani in West Bengal under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna (PMSSY). 
 
The decision involves a financial implication of Rs. 4949 crore, an official press release said.
 
The new AIIMS will be established as institutes of national importance for providing quality medical education, nursing education and also to provide tertiary healthcare facilities to the people of these locations. 
 
The proposed institutions will have a hospital with capacity of 960 beds. In addition, there shall be a teaching block, administrative block, AYUSH block, auditorium, nursing college, night shelter, hostel and residential facilities. 
 
Of the total expenditure of Rs. 4949 crore, the cost of the new AIIMS at Manglagiri will be Rs. 1618 crore, at Nagpur Rs.1577 crore and at Kalyani Rs. 1754 crore. 
 
"Setting up of these AIIMS will address regional imbalances in availability of affordable and reliable tertiary health care services in these regions. It will augment the facilities of quality medical education and would also address the shortfall of health care professionals in these regions," the release said.
 
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The large populations of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (Vidarbha) and West Bengal along with adjoining States and regions will be beneficiary of this project, it said.
 
Six new AIIMS under the PMSSY have been made functional. Also construction of AIIMS, Rae Bareli is under progress. 
 
Today's decision is in accordance with the announcement made by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget Speech 2014-15 on establishing new AIIMS at these places. This also fulfils the promise made under the Andhra Pradesh re-organization Act 2014 that provides for establishment of one AIIMS-type institute in the successor state of Andhra Pradesh, the release added.
 
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Cabinet okays improved VRS for employees of Hooghly Dock & Port Engineers Limited

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The Union Cabinet today approved the introduction of an improved Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for the employees of Hooghly Dock & Port Engineers Limited (HDPEL) and restructuring of the company through a joint venture (JV). 
 
The improved VRS package is based on IDA 2007 linked pay scale, an official press release said.
 
According to it, the improved VRS Scheme would be open for three months with a provision of extension by another one month. After the implementation of the improved VRS, JV formation with the private sector would be attempted failing which the company would be disinvested, it said.
 
"Implementation of the improved VRS package would substantially reduce the manpower of HDPEL and would help in downsizing. Thereafter, HDPEL would become amenable to re-structuring," it said.
 
"The current VRS package is at the old pre-revised scale, therefore, implementation of an improved VRS package would provide better retirement benefits to the HDPEL employees who opt for it. This decision will take care of employees' welfare as well as prevent recurrent loss to the public exchequer," the release said.
 
HDPEL was established in 1819. Subsequently, in 1973, it merged with Port Engineering Works, which had been under the control of Andrew Yule Ltd. The company was nationalized in 1984 as per the Hooghly Dock & Engineer Company (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertaking) Act, 1984 and was renamed as Hooghly Dock & Port Engineers Ltd. The HDPEL has two units, one in Salkia and another in Nazirgunge located on the banks of the Hooghly river. However, both units of the company have been suffering heavy losses. 
 
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Bandhan Bank commences operations with 501 branches

 
Jaitely inaugurates Bandhan Bank in Kolkata
 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today inaugurated India's newest bank, Bandhan Bank Ltd, which commenced its operations with 501 branches, 2022 services centres and 50 ATMs across 24 states.
 
The bank plans to have 632 branches and 250 ATMs in 27 states by the end of fiscal year 2016. It starts with 1.43 crore accounts and around Rs 10,500 crore loan book. It has 19,500 employees.
 
Over 71% of the branches will be in rural India and at least 35% in unbanked rural pockets, a press release from the bank said.
 
State-wise, West Bengal has the maximum number of branches 220, followed by Bihar 67, Assam 60, Maharashtra 21, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura 20 each, and Jharkhand 15.
 
The Kolkata-headquartered bank has two divisions -- micro banking and general banking – and will offer complete retail financial solutions, including a variety of savings and loan products.
 
The savings bank account interest rate has been fixed at 4.25% for balance up to Rs.1 lakh and 5 % for balance above Rs.1 lakh. For term deposits, the maximum interest rate has been fixed at 8.5 % for one to three years, with an additional 0.5% for senior citizens.
 
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The Reserve Bank of India’s licensing norms stipulate that a new bank must have at least Rs 500 crore capital. Against this, Bandhan starts with Rs 2570 crore capital which will soon be ramped up close to Rs 3052 crore, the release said.
 
This translates into 44.54 % capital to risk weighted assets ratio or CRAR for the new bank, signifying its robustness, it said.
 
Bandhan Bank is the first instance in India of a microfinance entity transforming into a universal bank. It received an in-principle approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in April 2014 and the banking regulator’s final nod on June 17 this year.
 
Its investors include IFC, SIDBI and  Caladium Investment Pte. Ltd, a company managed by GIC Special Investments Pvt Ltd.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jaitley spoke of the government's efforts to ensure financial inclusion and said 25 crore families would be brought under the Jan Dhan Yojana alone.
 
He said the expansion of the government's various social security schemes would help the banking sector grow.
 
West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, and RBI Deputy Governor H.R.Khan were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
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World Bank to provide $ 308.40 million for National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project-II

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India and the World Bank today signed a financing agreement for World Bank (IDA) assistance of $ 308.40 million for National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project-II (NCRMP-II).
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. John Blomquist, Program Leader and Acting Country Director in India, on behalf of the World Bank.
 
The Project Agreements in respect of the States of Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal were signed by the representatives of the respective State Governments. 
 
Mr. Subrai T. Nadkarni, Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department and Ex-Officio Additional Secretary, signed on behalf of the Government of Goa; Ms. Anju Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority signed on behalf of the Government of Gujarat; Mr. Raj Kumar Khatri, Principal Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management signed on behalf of the Government of Karnataka; Ms. Rachna Shah, Additional Resident Commissioner signed on behalf of the Government of Kerala; Mr. Suhas Diwase, Director, Disaster Management Unit signed on behalf of the Government of Maharashtra; and Mr. R. D. Meena, Principal Resident Commissioner signed on behalf of the Government of West Bengal. 
 
An official press release said the objective of NCRMP-II is to reduce vulnerability to cyclone and other hydro-meteorological hazards of coastal communities in the States of Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal; and increase the capacity of the State entities to effectively plan for and respond to disasters. 
 
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The primary beneficiaries of NCRMP-II will be coastal communities in the target states benefitting from cyclone risk mitigation infrastructure and early warning systems. The project will also finance technical assistance for strengthening of multi-hazard risk management at the national level and improving the quality of available information on multi-hazard risks for decision making across the country. 
 
NCRMP-II has four components which are: (i) Early Warning Dissemination Systems; (ii) Cyclone Risk Mitigation Infrastructure; (iii) Technical Assistance for Multi-Hazard Risk Management; and (iv) Project Management and Implementation Support. 
 
The project is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs through National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). At the State level, it is executed by the respective State Disaster Management Authorities. 
 
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Six people, including three children, run over by Shatabdi Express in Malda

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Six people -- three women and three young boys -- were crushed under the wheels of the speeding New Jalpaiguri-Howrah Shatabdi Express while they were crossing the railway tracks in Malda district of West Bengal today.
 
Malda Superintendent of Police Prasun Bandyopadhyay said five of the victims were members of one family.
 
They were part of seven people who were crossing the tracks around 7.30 am near Raghavpur, under Harishchandrapur police station limits, in Malda district, he said, about 90 km from the district headquarters.
 
One of them, a man, managed to escape. The three women, who were carrying the children in their arms, could not move out of the way of the oncoming train in time.
 
The victims were identified as Aisha Bibi, 40, of Malda district and five people who were visiting her from Katihar district of Bihar: Aliqnoor Bibi, 55, Manjahan Bibi, 30, Wasim Ali, 8, Naseem Ali, 6 and Wasil Ali, 4. All of them died on the spot.
 
Police, railway officials and district officials rushed to the scene. The bodies of the victims were taken to the Malda Medical College Hospital and would be handed over to their relatives after the completion of the post-mortem examination and other formalities, Mr Bandyopadhyay said, adding that all efforts were being made to expedite the process.
 
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Floods claim more than 220 lives, disrupt normal life in several parts of India

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Normal life in several parts of the country continued to be disrupted by heavy rains and floods which have claimed more than 220 lives in different states so far.
 
Apart from state-level agencies, personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) are involved in the rescue and relief operations in states such as West Bengal, Manipur, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Odisha, official sources said.
 
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs is monitoring the situation continuously and Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik about the rescue and relief efforts. He assured them of full support from the Centre to deal with the situation.
 
An official press release said 69 deaths had so far been reported from various parts of West Bengal during the flood situation owing to lightning, wall collapse, electrocution and drowning. 
 
A total of 2213 relief camps have been opened for about 50 lakh affected people and 234 boats have been deployed for rescue and relief operations. 
 
In Odisha, where at least five people have died, as many as 4,80,399 people have been affected and ODRAF units are carrying out relief and rescue operations. So far 1574 people have been evacuated to safer places. Seven relief camps have been opened and 132 boats have been deployed for rescue operations. 
 
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In Gujarat, 71 people have died so far due to floods in 14 districts and a population of about 40 lakh has been affected. More than ten lakhs food packets have been airdropped or distributed to the flood victims. 
 
In Rajasthan, 38 deaths have been reported in the state during the past few days owing to very heavy rainfall and floods in many parts of the state. So far more than 630 people have been rescued from various districts in Rajasthan. Relief materials have been distributed to the affected population. 
 
In Manipur, where 20 people died in a landslide at Joumol village in Chandel district on Saturday morning, 20 NDRF personnel, two doctors and an executive magistrate have been stranded at Aibol Joupi village, about three km from the scene of the landslide, the release added.
 
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Home Ministry reviews flood situation in various parts of country

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday reviewed the flood situation in various parts of the country, including Manipur, where about 20 people were swept away in a landslide in Chandel district on Saturday and West Bengal, where 48 deaths have been reported after heavy rainfall in recent days.

 
Floods damage infrastructure in Manipur
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs today reviewed the flood situation in various parts of the country, including Manipur, where about 20 people were swept away in a landslide in Chandel district yesterday and West Bengal, where 48 deaths have been reported after the heavy rainfall of recent days.
 
Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and enquired about the rescue and relief operations going on in the state.
 
Mr Rajnath Singh assured them of full support to overcome the disaster.
 
In Manipur, about 20 people of Joumol village in Chandel district perished in the landslide which occurred early yesterday monring.
 
The village is located about 96 kms from Tengnoupal. Rescue operations are going on. Reportedly, one villager has been rescued. 
 
In Gujarat, 14 districts and a population of about 40 lakh have been affected by the recent floods due to heavy rainfall in the last few days. 
 
More than ten lakhs food packets have been airdropped and distributed to the flood victims. Temporary relief camps have been set up in the affected areas and people have been accommodated in them on a need basis.
 
A total of 17 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed for rescue and relief operations in Gujarat, an official press release said.
 
Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Chaudhary has visited the state for two days to assess the situation and oversee the rescue and relief operations. 
 
The release said that in Rajasthan, so far, 28 deaths have been reported, out of which 12 people lost their lives during the past few days owing to very heavy rainfall and flood like situation in many parts of the state. 
 
Rajasthan has experienced excessive rainfall in most of its districts. Some of the districts are facing flood situation due to extremely heavy rainfall. The situation is grim particularly in districts of Jalore, Jhalawar, Baran, Sirohi, Barmer and Dungarpur, it said.
 
Apart from State Disaster Response Force, Police and other agencies, eight teams of the NDRF have been deployed in the state. So far more than 630 people have been rescued from various districts in Rajasthan. Relief materials have been distributed to the affected population. 
 
In West Bengal, 48 deaths have been reported from various parts of the state during the floods owing to lightning, wall collapse, electrocution, snake bite and drowning. 
 
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As reported by State government due to cyclone Komen, heavy to very heavy rainfall occurred at isolated places in almost all South West Bengal districts. So far 12 districts consisting of 210 blocks and 9691 villages, have been affected due to floods. A population of 36,90,627 are affected. State Government has deployed 121 boats for rescue and relief operations. A total of 5672 cattle have also been lost in the floods. The State Government has established 1537 relief camps and 214306 people have been accommodated. As many as 204 medical teams have also been deployed. 
 
In Odisha, seven districts -- Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jharsuguda and Deogarh -- are affected. A total of five people lost their lives and 644 villages and a population of 480399 are affected. ODRAF units are carrying out relief and rescue operations. So far 1574 people have been evacuated to safer places. Seven relief camps have been opened and 55 people have been accommodated. More than 130 boats have been deployed for rescue operations. 
 
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IMD forecasts heavy rainfall over Gangetic West Bengal over next two days

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today said a depression had formed over Jharkhand and adjoining Gangetic West Bengal.
 
It had moved west-southwestwards and was centred over Gangetic West Bengal and adjoining Jharkhand, about 70 km east-northeast of Ranchi, this morning, an official press release said.
 
"Due to this, rainfall would occur at most places, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places, over the Gangetic West Bengal during next 24 hours and isolated heavy rainfall during subsequent 24 hours," it said.
 
The release said rainfall would also occur at most place over Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Rainfall would also occur at most places over east Madhya Pradesh, with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall, on August 3 and 4, it said.
 
Rainfall would occur at many places over sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Bihar and Sikkim, with heavy rainfall at isolated places, during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
Strong winds with speed reaching 30-40 kmph gusting to 50 kmph would prevail around the depression centre during the next 24 hours, it added.
 
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Cyclonic storm Komen over Bangladesh weakens into deep depression

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The cyclonic storm Komen over Bangladesh moved nearly northwards, weakened into a deep depression and lay centred at 0230 hrs IST of today near latitude 23.00 N and longitude 91.20 E, close to Maijdicourt, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
It would move nearly northward for some more time and then west-northwestwards . It would weaken into a depression during the next 24 hours, a bulletin issued this morning by the IMD said.
 
The bulletin said rainfall would occur at most places over Gangetic West Bengal today with heavy to heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
It said there would also be heavy to very heavy falls at a few places in the state tomorrow.
 
The bulletin said rainfall would occur at most places over Odisha today, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated place. Heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur at a few places in the state tomorrow with isolated extremely heavy falls tomorrow, it said.
 
The bulletin forecast rainfall at most places over Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya and south Assam today, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places. 
 
Similarly, it said rainfall was likely at most places over Jharkhand today and tomorrow, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
The bulletin said squally wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph would prevail along and off West Bengal and north Odisha coasts during the next 24 hours. Squally wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph would prevail over Mizoram and Tripura during the next 12 hours and over Gangetic West Bengal during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea condition would be rough to very rough over north Bay of Bengal during the next 24 hours.
 
The IMD advised fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off West Bengal and north Odisha coasts during the next 24 hours.
 
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Sister Nirmala of Missionaries of Charity passes away at 81

Sister Nirmala. Photo: Missionaries of Charity
Sister Nirmala. Photo: Missionaries of Charity
Sister Nirmala, the nun who succeeded Nobel Peace laureate Mother Teresa as the head of the Missionaries of Charity, passed away here today.
 
She was 81.
 
Sister Nirmala, who had taken over as the head of the order after its founder Mother Teresa died in 1997, had asked to be relieved of her duties in March 2009, citing ill-health and a desire to live a contemplative life in the congregation. She had been succeeded by Sister Mary Prema, a German Nun, as the Superior General of the order.
 
She was in the contemplative convent of the order when she breathed her last five minutes past midnight last night, sources at the Missionaries of Charity said.
 
The Government had honoured Sister Nirmala with the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian honour, in 2009.
 
Born as Nirmala Joshi in 1934 at Ranchi, now in Jharkhand, Sister Nirmala's parents were from Nepal. Her father was an officer of the British Army.
 
After schooling in Patna, she went on to take a Master's degree in Political Science and a degree in law. She had converted to Christianity and joined the Missionaries of Charity.
 
For some time, she headed the Panama centre of the Missionaries of Charity. In 1976, she started the contemplative branch of the order and remained its head until 1997 when she was elected as its Superior General.
 
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Cabinet nod for transfer of land to DRDO for defence research centre

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The Union Cabinet yesterday gave its approval for transfer of a portion of land and building of the erstwhile National Instruments Limited by Jadavpur University, West Bengal to the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) on long term lease. 
 
The land will be transferred for establishment of a defence research centre named as the Jagadish Chandra Bose Centre for Advanced Technology (JCBCAT). 
 
The National Instruments Limited Jadavpur University was a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Department of Heavy Industry. As it became sick, its assets, liabilities and manpower were transferred to Jadavpur University with effect from 1.1.2009 under the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) sanctioned revival scheme (SRS). 
 
According to Section 7B of the SRS, the land of National Instruments Limited transferred to Jadavpur University will be used for research, project works, pilot plant study and the land will not be alienated, sold, leased, transferred without approval of Government of lndia (Gol) and subject to such terms and conditions as may be decided by Gol. Further, the assets transferred to National Instruments Limited will be put to use only for the purpose of research, pilot projects and so on, the release added.
 
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Rahul slams Modi, Mamata, says only Congress can ensure development of Bengal

 
Only Congress can bring development to West Bengal: Rahul Gandhi
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today took potshots at both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and said that only his party could put the state back on the path of development.
 
Addressing a rally here, he said the Left Front earlier and now Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) had failed the people of West Bengal and asserted that only his party could bring about a change for the better in the state, where Assembly elections are due next year.
 
Mr Gandhi said that, contrary to the people's hopes, the TMC government had proved to be no different from the Left Front.
 
At the Centre, he said, Mr Modi had come to power on the strength of promises of jobs, progress, development, factories, , like the TMC, but had not kept any of them.
 
He said the Modi government came up with programmes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan some months ago and now yoga to divert people's attention from its poll promises.
 
Mr Gandhi gave the example of one-rank, one pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen, which he said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had announced and also made an allocation for. Mr Modi had said during the Lok Sabha election campaign in Punjab, Haryana and other places that he would implement OROP, but one year later his government was yet to act in the matter, he said.
 
He said that when ex-servicemen were getting agitated on the issue and were knocking on the doors of the government, Mr Modi was busy with yoga.
 
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Mr Gandhi also referred to the Land Acquisition Bill and the probems faced by the farmers. He spoke about the provisions made by the UPA government in its version of the law enacted in 2013 and the changes now proposed to be made by the BJP-led NDA government which, he said, would benefit a few industrialists.
 
The Congress Vice-President also mentioned how Ms Banerjee had refused to accompany then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh but was now currently in Dhaka during Mr Modi's visit to that country and wondered the reasons for this new-found friendship between the two parties.
 
"Now it is up to you to throw Mamataji out of the car and put the Congress in the driver's seat. We will press accelerator," he said.
 
Earlier, Mr Gandhi also addressed a gathering of jute mill workers and interacted with them to understand their problems. He promised to raise their issues in Parliament.
 
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Moderate earthquake jolts Nepal, tremors felt in Bihar, UP, West Bengal

 
Moderate Nepal quake felt in Bihar, West Bengal
An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, shook Nepal this evening and the tremors were also felt in parts of Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh in India.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.5°N and longitude 86.0°E, occurred at 1704 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
People in many areas ran out of their homes and offices as a precautionary measure, reports reaching here said.
 
Nepal has been rocked by scores of aftershocks since the massive 7.9 temblor on April 25 that claimed more than 8250 lives and caused widespread devastation in the Himalayan country. That quake had also caused 79 deaths in Bihar, UP and West Bengal.
 
Last Tuesday, Nepal was again struck by a 7.3 quake, which claimed more than 95 lives. As many as 16 people died in Bihar because of that quake.
 
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Kolkata: 15 injured in low-intensity blast on Sealdah-Krishnanagar local train

At least 15 people suffered injuries in a low-intensity blast inside a Sealdah-Krishnanagar local train, reportedly during a scuffle between two groups of passengers, near Titagarh in the suburbs of the city in the early hours of Tuesday, official sources said.


 
At least 15 injured in low-intensity blast on local train in Kolkata
 
 
At least 15 people suffered injuries in a low-intensity blast inside a Sealdah-Krishnanagar local train, reportedly during a scuffle between two groups of passengers, near Titagarh in the suburbs of the city in the early hours of today, official sources said.
 
Police, railway and fire brigade officials rushed to the spot and helped remove the injured to hospitals.
 
Railway officials told NetIndian that nine of the injured were discharged after first aid while six were admitted to hospitals for treatment.
 
According to various sources, the explosion occurred at about 3.55 am as the train was pulling out of Titagarh station.
 
There was no clarity immediately about the sequence of events, but one version said there was an argument followed by a scuffle between two groups, during which the crude bomb went off.
 
One person, who was allegedly carrying the crude bombs, was taken into custody by the police, the sources said.
 
Railway officials said there was no damage to the coach or any other railway property in the incident.
 
Local train services, which were halted for some hours, have since been restored, they added.
 
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IAF's MiG-27 crashes near Hasimara in West Bengal on Friday, no casualties

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A MiG-27 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed soon after taking off from Hasimara in West Bengal yesterday, but there were no casualties, official sources said today.
 
The aircraft had taken off at 2024 hours yesterday on a routine mission and developed a technical snag soon after, forcing the pilot to abandon it.
 
A press release from the Ministry of Defence said the pilot ejected at a place near Alipurduar, 40 km south-east of Hasimara.  
 
"The ejection was safe and the aircraft crashed in an empty field, four km east of Alipurduar.  As confirmed from civil authorities, there has been no casualities or injuries to any one.  A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident," the release added.
 
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