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West Bengal

Cabinet okays closure of Hindustan Cables Limited, Kolkata

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for closure of Hindustan Cables Limited (HCL), Kolkata as per the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956/2013, Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and other relevant Acts. 
 
The employees will be offered VRS/ VSS Package at notional 2007 pay scales and other employees’ related liabilities including payment of salary and wages from April 2015 till they are separated from the company on VRS/VSS will be settled as well, an official press release said.
 
The disposal of assets of company will be in terms of the guidelines of Department of Public Enterprises on time bound closure of sick/loss making Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and disposal of movable and immovable assets, itsaid.
 
Total cash infusion for closure of company will be Rs. 1309.90 crore and non-cash infusion of Rs. 3467.15 crore in the form of conversion into equity of Government of India's loan (including interest) outstanding as on 30.09.2016. 
 
"Secured creditors of HCL, Kolkata, led by State Bank of India (SBI) as consortium lenders to the company, have been generous in their support. The One Time Settlement (OTS) terms include complete waiver of interest and settle on principal amount of Rs. 305.63 crore in settlement of all pari-passu collateral held by them," the release said.
 
According to the release, there is no production activity in the company since January 2003. 
 
The employees of the company are in 1997 pay scales. Due to non-payment of salary & wages, it is very difficult for the employees to survive and meet their immediate financial obligations. With the VRS/VSS package and clearance of other outstanding liabilities, the employees will come out of their present financial crisis. It will also help the employees in their post retirement rehabilitation, the release said.
 
"With the present time bound closure of the company, the valuable assets of the company will be available for other optimum utilization," it said.
 
HCL was established in the year 1952. It had four manufacturing units at Rupnarainpur (West Bengal), Hyderabad (Telengana), Naini (Uttar Pradesh) and Narendrapur (West Bengal). The registered office of HCL is located in Kolkata. 
 
The company was set up to cater to the needs of Government-owned telecom companies BSNL and MTNL for manufacture of telecom cables. Due to rapid change in telecommunication technology (wire-line to wireless), the demand for telecom cables has been drastically reduced. Several attempts were made by Department of Heavy Industries for revival of the company but they failed. Attempts to transfer HCL units to Ministry of Defence/Department of Defence Production also did not yield results. 
 
The proposal for closure of the company has been made as per the recommendations of BIFR, BRPSE and the roadmap approved by CCEA on 29.12.2014 for phasing out non-plan budgetary support to sick CPSEs. 
 
The company is a BIFR referred company since 2002. Government of India's decision for closure of the company will be conveyed to BIFR for seeking their approval, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Darjeeling region of West Bengal

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, shook the Darjeeling region of West Bengal this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.7°N and longitude 88.3°E, occurred at 2004 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
Earlier this morning, a tremor of magnitude 3.2 had been recorded in the Sonitpur region of Assam. The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.9 N and longitude 93.6 E, occurred at 1058 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, the IMD said.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Jalpaiguri region of West Bengal

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Jalpaiguri region of West Bengal in the early hours of today.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.6 N and longitude 89.4 E, occurred at 0216 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) added.
 
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BHEL commissions 40 MW hydro power plant in West Bengal

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the fourth and last unit of the 4x40 MW Teesta Low Dam Hydro Electric Project (HEP) Stage-IV in West Bengal.
 
A run-of-the-river greenfield project located in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, Teesta HEP has been set up by NHPC Limited, on the river Teesta.
 
A press release from BHEL said power generation from the project would result in reduction of green-house gas emissions and help in achieving a low carbon development path.
 
BHEL was entrusted with the electrical & mechanical (E&M) works for four units of 40 MW each by NHPC Limited. BHEL’s scope of work in the project comprised design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of complete E&M equipment including vertical shaft Kaplan Turbines and matching generators. The equipment was supplied by BHEL units at Bhopal, Jhansi, Rudrapur and Bengaluru and the execution of work on site was carried out by the company’s Power Sector Eastern Region.
 
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Environment Minister seeks report on elephant deaths in West Bengal

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Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Anil Dave has sought a detailed report on the train accident in Bishnupur area of West Bengal yesterday, in which three elephants were killed. 
 
An official press reease said Mr. Dave had asked all concerned local authorities to ascertain the exact reasons behind the train accident. 
 
He has also directed the State Forest Department officials to discuss the issue with the Railways and put in place appropriate measures for the conservation of elephants.
 
The release said the Environment Ministry had initiated steps to prepare a Regional Landscape Plan for the conservation of elephants in the East Central Elephant Landscape, comprising the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and other elephant areas. 
 
The West Bengal Forest Department has also prepared a three-year action plan for controlling human-elephant conflict in South Bengal. 
 
The State Forest Department will send SMS alerts to Railway authorities on the movement of elephants near railway tracks to prevent accidents. State Forest Department officials will also hold a meeting with Railway authorities today, following yesterday’s mishap, the release added.
 
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Former Bihar, West Bengal and Haryana Governor A R Kidwai passes away

A R Kidwai
A R Kidwai
Dr. Akhlaq Ur Rahman Kidwai, a distinguished scientist and educationist who also served as the Governor of Bihar, West Bengal and Haryana, passed away at a private hospital here today after a brief illness.
 
He was 96. He is survived by two sons and four daughters. His wife Jamila Kidwai had predeceased him. His funeral will be held tomorrow, sources said.
 
According to them, he was admitted to the Escorts Hospital here about ten days ago after complaining of breathing difficulties.
 
Dr. Kidwai served as Governor of Bihar from 1979 to 1985 and again from 1993 to 1998. He also served as Governor of West Bengal from 1998 to 1999 and Haryana from 2004 to 2009.
 
In between, he also held charge for some time as Governor of Punjab and of Rajasthan and Administrator of Delhi. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 2000 to 2004.
 
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Born on July 1, 1920 in Baragaon village of Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, took a BA degree from Jamia Milia Islamia University here and went on to complete M. Sc. at the University of Illinois in the United States and Ph. D. from Cornell University, also in the US.
 
He worked as Professor and Head of the Department of Chemistry and the Dean of the Faculty of Science at the Aligarh Muslim University. He also served as Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) from 1974-77. He was Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University from 1983 to 1992.
 
Dr. Kidwai was associated with several bodies, incuding the National Committee on Science and Technology, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Central Advisory Board of Education and the Central Council of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
 
The Government honoured him with the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second highest civilian award, in 2011.
 
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Progress not possible without knowledge society: Mukherjee

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Stressing the need for research and innovation, President Pranab Mukherjee today said progress would not be possible without a knowledge society.
 
Knowledge leads to technology and technology to prosperity, Mr Mukherjee said in his address at the first convocation of the  Management Development Institute (MDI) at Murshidabad in West Bengal.
 
He recalled that he had taken the initiative for establishment of the institute when he was representing the area in Parliament.
 
As the first batch of students received their management degrees today, he was happy to share this significant moment in their life, he said.
 
The President said technology was the key to advancement. “Despite the fact we have created good infrastructure in our higher educational system, hardly any of the Indian Universities find place in the top global rankings,” he said.
 
After his continuous exhortation to institutions to take the ranking process seriously, the situation has started improving. Two institutions of higher learning have come within the top 100 in the world in the year 2015. Mr Mukherjee said he expected more institutions to figure high in the rankings in the future.
 
West Bengal Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi and Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal were among those present on the occasion.
 
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Earthquake of magnitude 6.7 jolts Myanmar, tremors felt in eastern, NE India

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An earthquake of magnitude 6.7 jolted Myanmar this afternoon and the tremors were felt in several parts of eastern and north-eastern India.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 21.0 N and longitude 94.4 E, near Chauk town on the Irrawaddy river, occurred at 1604 hours IST at a focal depth of 58 km.
 
Reports reaching here said the tremors were felt in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal, Patna in Bihar, Guwahati in Assam and Tripura, among other places. They were also felt in Bangladesh and Thailand.
 
Residents of the affected areas ran out of their homes and offices as a precautionary measure.
 
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Mukherjee inaugurates new office building of Bharat Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata

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President Pranab Mukherjee said industrialists in eastern India and the North-East had a special challenge and responsibility on their shoulders.
 
Inaugurating the new office building of the Bharat Chamber of Commerce here, he exhorted them to avail of opportunities and drive the engines of growth and also impressed upon them that the growth models and techniques that they use should essentially take into account ways and means that ensure equitable growth. 
 
He noted that the Bharat Chamber of Commerce was one of India's oldest chambers with a history going back to the year 1900 when it was formed as an Association of Merchants belonging to a particular community. 
 
The President stated that the land of Eastern India comprising Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Odisha and the other states of North East have since centuries been the land of India’s renaissance and reformation. Apart from being the breeding ground of various cultures and religions, it is this land that witnessed excellence in indigenous handlooms, setting up of nascent industries around jute and tea, iron ore, coal and petroleum, he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee also attended the first Foundation Day of Bandhan Bank here today. He said that, in October 2010, in his village Kirnahar, he first got an opportunity to know Bandhan and its founder Chandrashekhar Ghosh at a function for rural borrowers. He was interested in learning the story of Mr. Ghosh of organizing self - help groups and its working effectively to provide micro-finance to poor people. 
 
The President said that he had closely watched the development of the banking sector over the years as Minister of Banking and Revenue, Finance Minister and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission. He said that in 2010 it was decided that the Reserve Bank of India would soon open up the banking sector for financial inclusion. It gave him satisfaction that three years later, when Reserve Bank asked for applications seeking bank licenses, Bandhan bank was one of those, who applied for it and got it successfully. The first year's performance of Bandhan Bank is encouraging. It was important to provide facilities and reach out to those people who did not have access to them. 
 
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Mr. Mukherjee also addressed the 125th anniversary celebrations of Bangiya Sahitya Parisad in Kolkata today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that he had been a member of the Board of Trustees of Bangiya Sahitya Parisad which had luminaries like Ramesh Chandra Dutta, Rabindranath Tagore and Ramendrasundar Trivedi at its helm. 
 
He stated that the Parisad had played an important role in promoting literature and preserving numerous valuable literary manuscripts since its inception in 1893. The 13,000 manuscripts housed in the institute’s library are rare treasures which must be preserved at any cost and for that, all necessary arrangements must be made. The Parishad is associated with the history of Bengali literature. 
 
Mr. Mukherjee said that literature not only pertained to creative work, but was also an ample reflection of society and its people at large. Hence, world literature that is a reflection of the geography, history, society and daily life of people must be preserved for being handed over and studied by future generations, he said.
 
The President also said that Bangiya Sahitya Parishad had received a corpus fund of Rs 10 crore from the Union Ministry of Culture. He stated that this and other similar grants could be well utilised towards preservation of the priceless manuscripts available in this institution. 
 
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Akashvani Maitree Channel to promote, preserve Bengali cultural heritage: Mukherjee

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President Pranab Mukherjee today launched Akashvani’s Maitree Channel, saying it could  play a significant role in promoting and preserving the composite Bengali cultural heritage, the proud inheritance of all Bengali speaking people, irrespective of their geographical location.
 
Mr Mukherjee said he was sure that the blending of content from both India and Bangladesh in the fields of art, culture, literature, music, sports and also on shared socio-economic issues would make the channel a unique one and establish it in the hearts of millions of radio loving people both in India and Bangladesh as well as outside.
 
“India and Bangladesh are not just neighbours but are bound by an umbilical connection of ethnicity and kinship. India always attaches highest importance to bilateral relations with Bangladesh because of our shared history, heritage, culture, language, physical proximity and also the role which the two nations can play together for the development and prosperity of the entire subcontinent and beyond,” he said.
 
The bedrock on which the edifice of this unique relationship stands is the unwavering faith of both the countries in democratic values, principles of liberalism, egalitarianism, secularism and respect for each other’s sovereignty and integrity, the President said.
 
With the launch of Akashvani Maitree, a new chapter is being added in the annals of India- Bangladesh relations. Akashvani Maitree and its multimedia website is a unique venture and this initiative of All India Radio was not only for the Bengali listeners in West Bengal, Bangladesh and the adjoining areas but the entire Bengali speaking Diaspora in different parts of the globe, he added.
 
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Mukherjee to visit West Bengal from August 22-24

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a three-day visit to West Bengal from August 22-24, during which he will inaugurate a CII-IIEST Conference on the theme ‘Enabling Make in India through Industry Academia Innovation Platform’ in Kolkata tomorrow.
 
He will also attend a function ‘The Legacy to Humanity: Celebrating 150 years of Homeopathy’ organized by the Dr. Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation in Kolkata as Chief Guest on the same day, an official press release said.
 
On August 23, Mr. Mukherjee will launch Akashvani’s Moitree Service in Bangla for listeners in Bangladesh in Kolkata. He will also attend the 125th anniversary celebrations of Bangiya Sahitya Parisad, inaugurate a new building of Bharat Chamber of Commerce and address the first foundation day of Bandhan Bank in Kolkata on the same day. 
 
On August 24, the President will inaugurate a Mega Food Park at Jangipur, Murshidabad. He will also attend the convocation of Management Development Institute-Murshidabad at Jangipur before returning to New Delhi, the release added.
 
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BHEL bags Rs.169 crore order for 30 MW solar photovoltaic power plants

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had secured an order valued at Rs. 169 crore for setting up  30 MW (3x10 MW) of solar photovoltaic (SPV) power plants on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis.
 
A press release from the company said the letter of intent (LoI) had been placed on it by West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited (WBSEDCL).
 
The SPV plants of 10 MW each are to be set up at Mejia (Bankura), Santaldih (Purulia) and Chharrah (Purulia) in West Bengal.
 
Earlier this year, BHEL bagged EPC orders from Neyveli Lignite Corporation and Bharat Electronics Limited for setting up of a 65 MW SPV Power plant at Neyveli (Tamil Nadu) and a 15 MW SPV Power Plant at Ordinance Factory Premises, Medak (Telangana),
respectively, which are currently under execution. In the previous year also, BHEL bagged EPC orders from NTPC for 50 MW Solar Power plants each at Ananthpur (AP) and Mandsaur (MP).
 
While the Ananthpur project has been commissioned, the Mandsaur project is currently under execution, the release added.
 
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IAFs Hawk trainer aircraft crashes at Kalaikunda in West Bengal

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A Hawk trainer aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed at the Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal today, but both pilots managed to eject safely, official sources said.
 
A press release from the Ministry of Defence said the aircraft got airborne from Kalaikunda at 1030 hours for a routine training mission.
 
"After take off, the aircraft developed unserviceability, resulting into a crash. Both pilots of the aircraft ejected safely. There is no reported damage on the ground," it said.
 
A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident, the release added.
 
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Eminent writer and social activist Mahasweta Devi passes away

Mahasweta Devi
Mahasweta Devi
Well-known writer and social activisit Mahasweta Devi, who championed the cause of India's nomadic and tribal groups and the oppressed classes, who face discrimination at every step of their lives, died at a private hospital here today of multi-organ failure.
 
She was 90.
 
Mahasweta was admitted to the Belle Vue nursing home here on May 22 and breathed her last at around 3.15 pm today, when she suffered a cardiac arrest.
 
Hospital sources said her condition took a turn for the worse suddenly around 3 pm and doctors tried their best to save her, but she passed away.
 
During an illustrious career, which spanned a period of tumultuous change in India, from British rule, independence and the turmoil that the country faced in the first few decades after independence, Mahasweta's writing inspired whole generations of readers, writers, journalists and filmmakers.
 
Born on January 14, 1926 into a family of writers and social workers in Dhaka, East Bengal, which is modern-day Bangladesh, Mahasweta's family moved to West Bengal after partition. She completed her schooling and graduation in English at Visvabharati, Santiniketan and later earned an M. A. in English Literature from the University of Calcutta.
 
In Kolkata, she came into contact with Gananatya, a group which worked to take social and political theatre to the rural parts of the state in the 1930s and the 1940s.
 
She completed M.A. in English Literature from the University of Calcutta and started out as a tacher and journalist. She published her first book, Jhansir Rani, in 1956, and never quite stopped after that as she launched into a prolific literary career, publishing scores of novels and several collections of short stories, mainly in Bengali.
 
She also contributed regularly to literary magazines such as Bortika, which was dedicated to the cause of the oppressed communities. She took retirement from her job as a lecturer in English at the University of Calcutta in 1984 to focus on writing.
 
Her father Manish Ghatak was a well-known poet and novelist, while her uncle was noted filmmaker Ritwik Ghatat. Her mother, Dharitri Devi, was also a writer and social worker whose brothers were very distinguished in various fields, such as the noted sculptor Sankha Chaudhury and the founder-editor of the Economic and Political Weekly of India, Sachin Chaudhury. 
 
After finshing her studies, Mahasweta had got married to well-known playwright Bijon Bhattacharya, one of the founders of the IPTA movement. Their son Nabarun Bhattacharya was also a renowned poet and novelist in his own right and had won the Sahitya Akademi award. She was divorced from her husband in 1959.
 
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Mahasweta won the Jnanpith Award, India's highest literary honour, in 1995 and was conferred with the Magsaysay Award in 1996.
 
"I have always believed that the real history is made by ordinary people. I constantly come across the reappearance, in various forms, of folklore, ballads, myths and legends, carried by ordinary people across generations. ... The reason and inspiration for my writing are those people who are exploited and used, and yet do not accept defeat. For me, the endless source of ingredients for writing is in these amazingly noble, suffering human beings. Why should I look for my raw material elsewhere, once I have started knowing them? Sometimes it seems to me that my writing is really their doing," Mahasweta had once said about her work.
 
In recent years, she had launched a campaign against the industrial policies of the West Bengal government, especially with regard to acquisition of land from farmers in areas such as Singur and Nandigram.
 
Some of her works were made into acclaimed films such as Sunghursh (1968), Rudaali (1993), Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998) and Maati Maay (2006).
 
Mahasweta received the Sahitya Akademi award for Aranyer Adhikar in Bengali in 1979.
 
She was honoured by the Government with the Padma Vibhushan, the nation's second highest civilian honour in 2006. In 2011, she received the Bangabibhushan, the highest civilian award from the Government of West Bengal.
 
Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari condoled the passing away of Mahasweta, saying that she would always be remembered for her popular stories that sought to raise awareness about social injustice, discrimination, poverty in the country. 
 
“I am deeply grieved to hear about the passing away of acclaimed writer and activist Ms. Mahasweta Devi. 
 
'I offer my heartfelt condolences to her family members and pray for eternal peace for the departed soul," he said.
 
"Mahashweta Devi wonderfully illustrated the might of the pen. A voice of compassion, equality & justice, she leaves us deeply saddened. RIP," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"India has lost a great writer. Bengal has lost a glorious mother. I have lost a personal guide. Mahashweta Di rest in peace," West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Twitter.
 
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BHEL commissions 40 MW hydel plant in West Bengal

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the third unit of the 4x40 MW Teesta Low Dam Hydro Electric Project (HEP) Stage-IV in West Bengal.
 
A run-of-the-river greenfield project located in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, Teesta HEP is being set up by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), on River Teesta. 
 
The fourth and final unit of the project is also in advanced stages of execution, a press release from the company said.
 
Power generation from the Teesta project will result in reduction of green-house gas emissions and will help in achieving a low carbon development path for the state as well as the nation, it said.
 
The order for electrical and mechanical (E&M) works for four units of 40 MW each was placed on BHEL by NHPC. BHEL’s scope of work in the project comprised design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of complete E&M works including vertical shaft Kaplan Turbines and matching generators. 
 
The equipment has been supplied by BHEL units at Bhopal, Jhansi, Rudrapur and Bengaluru and the execution of work on site is being carried out by the company’s Power Sector Eastern Region.
 
BHEL is presently executing hydro electric projects of around 3,300 MW in the country which are under various stage of implementation. Other projects of NHPC currently under execution by BHEL are the 4x200 MW Parbati HEP Stage – II and 3x110 MW Kishanganga HEP. In West Bengal, BHEL is also executing the 3x40 MW Rammam Stage-III hydro-electric project of NTPC.
 
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Mukherjee compliments Darjeeling Tea Association for upholding brand name

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President Pranab Mukherjee today complimented Darjeeling Tea Association for upholding the ‘Darjeeling Tea’ brand name.
 
Addressing the annual general meeting of the Darjeeling Tea Association here, the President said ‘Darjeeling Tea’ was a welcome item on the breakfast tables of people in a large number of countries.
 
Tea is an important export commodity of India and promotion of tea exports a major element of the country's planned economic development. India ranks second in the world in tea production next only to China, he added.
 
Mr Mukherjee said Darjeeling Tea has a unique place among all varieties of tea, especially for connoisseurs.
 
He congratulated the Darjeeling Tea Association and Gorkha Territorial Administration for having worked in association with Central and State Government as well as the Tea Board to register the Darjeeling Tea as the country’s first geographical indication under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999.
 
Darjeeling Tea is India’s first product recognized by the European Commission as a Protected Geographical Indication.
 
Now, Darjeeling Tea has become synonymous with one of the best brands of tea in the world, originating from one of the most beautiful tourist destinations of India, he added.
 
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Darjeeling, a mini-India, says President Mukherjee

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President Pranab Mukherjee today described Darjeeling in West Bengal as a “mini India and not merely a simple geographic expression.”
 
“It is a great melting pot of diverse cultures and ethnicities. The people of Darjeeling have chosen to live together and work together," he said at a state reception hosted in his honour by West Bengal Governor at Chowrasta (the Mall) here.
 
“India is a country of 1.28 billion people, who speak more than 100 languages and 1,600 dialects. India is home to major religions and three major ethnic groups. All live under one rule, one Constitution, one flag and one system. India has always absorbed diverse influences and converted them into one mighty ocean of unity,” he added.
 
The President said the recent West Bengal Assembly elections demonstrated the strength of Indian democracy. 
 
He said he was touched by the warmth of reception received from the people of Darjeeling who had assembled despite the cold and rain. He was delighted to be in Darjeeling not as a guest, but one among them.
 
The President was felicitated on the occasion by West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Chief Executive of Gorkha Territorial Administration Bimal Gurung, among others.
 
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Mukherjee to visit Darjeeling from July 12-15

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Darjeeling in West Bengal from July 12-15, an official press release said here today.
 
The Government of West Bengal will host a state reception in honour of the President at Chowrasta (The Mall) in Darjeeling tomorrow.
 
On July 13, Mr. Mukherjee will attend the birth anniversary celebrations of Bhanubhakta Acharya which will also be held at the Chowrasta. On the same day, the Government of West Bengal will host a dinner in his honour. 
 
On July 14,, the President will address the annual general meeting of Darjeeling Tea Association, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Jalpaiguri region of West Bengal

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Jalpaiguri region of West Bengal early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.8 N and longitude 89.5 E, occurred at 0354 hours at a focal depth of 40 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Mamata Banerjee sworn in for second term as Chief Minister of West Bengal

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee was sworn in for a second consecutive term as the Chief Minister of West Bengal at the head of a 42-member Council of Ministers in Kolkata on Friday.

 
Mamata Banerjee begins her second term as West Bengal CM
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee was sworn in for a second consecutive term as the Chief Minister of West Bengal at the head of a 42-member Council of Ministers here today.
 
Ms. Banerjee, 61, and the 41 other ministers, including 18 new faces, were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi at a function on the Red Road.
 
The TMC chief had led her party to a resounding win in the April-May elections to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, bagging 211 seats in the 294-member House.
 
The 18 new faces in the Council of Ministers are Suvendu Adhikari, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, Churamoni Mahato, Tapan Dasgupta, Asima Patra, Indranil Sen, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Shyamal Santra, Golam Rabbani, Siddikullah Chowdhury, Abdur Rezzak Mollah, Jakir Hossain, James Kujur, Rabindra Nath Ghosh, Sandhyarani Tudu, Abani Joardar, Bachchu Hansda and Sovan Chatterjee. Mr. Chatterjee is the mayor of Kolkata.
 
Those who attended the ceremony included Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Bangladesh Industry Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Babul Supriyo, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Rashtriya Janata Dal chief (RJD) Lalu Prasad and National Conference leader and former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah.
 
Thousands of TMC supporters and admirers of Ms. Banerjee made light of the blistering afternoon sun to watch the proceedings.
 
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Ms. Banerjee had swept to power for the first time on May 20, 2011 when she led an alliance consisting of the TMC, the Congress and the Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist to a historic win in the assembly elections that year to end 34 years of continuous rule by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front in the state.
 
The Congress, which went into this year's elections as an ally of the Left Front, won 44 seats this time, while the alliance could garner only 77 seats in all.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at the Centre, and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha won three seats each.
 
The following is the full list of the Council of Ministers:
 
Amit Mitra, Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee, Sovandeb Chatterjee, Suvendu Adhikari, Goutam Deb, Abani Joardar, Bratya Basu, Sovan Chatterjee, Abdur Rezzak Mollah, Jyotipriyo Mullick, Binay Barman, Rabindranath Ghosh, Santiram Mahato,
Churamani Mahato, Tapan Dasgupta, James Kujur, Siddiquallah Chowdhury, Ashima Patra, Bachhu Hansda, Ghulam Rabbani, Zakir Hossain, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Indranil Sen, Sandharani Tudu, Firhad Hakim, Shashi Panja, Sadhan Pande, Moloy Ghatak,
Chandranath Sinha, Rajib Banerjee, Ashish Banerjee, Purnendu Bose, Manturam Pakhira, Soumen Mahapatra, Swapan Debnath, Arup Roy, Arup Biswas, Giasuddin Mollah, Javed Khan and Shyamal Santra.
 
Born on January 5, 1955, Ms. Banerjee has a Master's degree in Arts and bachelor's degrees in Education and Law.
 
She came into prominence as a leader of the Youth Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1984 and re-elected in 1991.
 
She served as Minister oof State for Human Resource Development; Youth Affairs and Sports; and Women and Child Development during 1991-93.
 
She won a third term in the Lok Sabha in 1996 and founded the All India Trinamool Congress in 1997. She was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 and again in 1999. She served as Minister for Railways from October 13, 1999 to March 16, 2001. 
 
She was Minister without Portfolio between September 8, 2003 and January 8, 2004 before serving as Minister for Coal and Mines from January 9, 2004 to May 2004.
 
She won a sixth term in the Lok Sabha in the General Elections that year and re-elected in 2009. She served as Minister for Railways from May 31, 2009 to July 19, 2011. She resigned from the Lok Sabha in October that year and has since then been focused on West Bengal.
 
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BJP wins Assam, LDF back in Kerala; Jaya retains power in TN, Mamata in WB

The BJP, the ruling party at the Centre, came to power for the first time in the North-East when the coalition led by it won a historic victory in the Assembly elections in Assam, while the Left Democratic Front returned to power in Kerala, with the Congress ending up on the losing side in both states.

 
My life is dedicated to people of Tamil Nadu: Jayalalithaa
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party at the Centre, came to power for the first time in the North-East when the coalition led by it won a historic victory in the Assembly elections in Assam, while the Left Democratic Front (LDF) eturned to power in Kerala, with the Congress ending up on the losing side in both states.
 
In Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister J Jayalalitha proved exit polls wrong as she won a rare second consecutive term in office while her West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) also won a second term with a massive win as the counting of votes in the Assembly elections to the four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry progressed today.
 
In Assam, the BJP dislodged the 15-year-old Congress regime headed by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who could not quite overcome the anti-incumbency factor. While the BJP won 60 seats in the 126-member assembly, its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) got 14 seats and the Bodoland People's Front picked up 12. The Congress got only 26 seats. The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won 13 seats. One seat was won by an independent candidate.
 
Among the winners were Mr. Gogoi from Titabor and BJP's chief ministerial nominee, Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who won from Majuli.
 
In West Bengal, the TMC won 211 seats in the 294-member assembly, while the Congress, which went into the elections as an ally of the Left Front, won 44. The Left Front got 32 seats, while the BJP won three and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha got three. One seat went to an independent candidate.
 
Ms. Banerjee, whose party had ended the 34-year reign of the Left Front in 2011, won from Bhawanipore.
 
In Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalithaa became the first Chief Minister to get a second consecutive term in office after 1984 as her AIADMK won 134 of the 232 seats for which polling was held. The DMK, led by veteran M. Karunanidhi, a former Chief Minister, got 87 seats, and was leading in two more at the time of writing this report, while its ally, the Congress, could manage only eight. The Indian Union Muslim League got one seat.
 
While Ms. Jayalalithaa won from Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar, while the 93-year-old Mr. Karunanidhi won the Thiruvarur seat. Mr. Karunanidhi's son and DMK Treasurer M K Stalin retained the Kolathur constituency.
 
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In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) won 91 seats in the 140-member assembly, while the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) could manage only 47. The BJP won a seat in the Kerala Assembly for the first time, with party veteran O. Rajagopalan winning from Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram.
 
Former Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth, the BJP's candidate in Thiruvananthapuram, also lost.
 
Among prominent winners were Chief Minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy, his predecessor V S Achuthanandan (LDF), former Finance Minister K M Mani and Government chief whip P C George, who left Kerala Congress (M) to fight from Poonjar as an independent candidate. Film actor Mukesh won from Kollam as a CPI(M) candidate.
 
CPM leader and possible Chief Ministerial candidate Pinarayi Vijayan won from Dharmadam in Kannur district. Mr. Chandy, who has represented Puthupally in Kottayam for more than four decades, won once again from there.
 
In Kollam, well-known Malyalam film actor won as an LDF candidate, while another actor, K B Ganeshkumar, who had switched over to the LDF from the UDF before the elections, won from Pathanapuram, defeating another popular actor Jagadish of the Congress. In the losers' list were Ministers K Babu and PK Jayalakshmi..
 
In Puducherry, the Congress won 15 of the 30 seats and its ally, the DMK, got two to wrest power from the ruling All India NR Congress, which could get only eight seats. The AIADMK won four seats.
 
Polling was held in the four states and one UT between April 4 and May 16. Counting of votes began at 8 am today and all the results are expected by late tonight.
 
Assam went to the polls in two phases on April 4 and 11, while West Bengal saw polling in six phases between April 4 and May 5. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry had single-phase polling on May 16.
 
In Tamil Nadu, polling in two constituencies -- Aravakurichi and Thanjavur -- was deferred by the Election Commision to May 23 and, accordingly, the votes cast there would be counted on May 25.
 
The term of the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu is due to expire on May 22, West Bengal on May 29, Kerala on May 31, Puducherry on June 2 and Assam on June 5.
 
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Cyclone Roanu over Bay of Bengal likely to cause heavy rainfall on east coast

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today said that cyclone "Roanu" over westcentral Bay of Bengal was likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm by tonight and, continuing to move northeastwards, would cross south Bangladesh coast between Khepupara and Cox’s Bazar in the night of May 21 and early morning of May 22 as a cyclonic storm.
 
A bulletin from IMD said Roanu remained practically stationary and lay centred at 1430 hrs IST of today near latitude 15.6º N and longitude 81.6 ºE, about 80 km southsoutheast of Machilipatnam, about 290 km south-southwest of Visakhapatnam and 160 km south-southwest of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.
 
The system is likely to move initially north-northeastwards along and off Andhra Pradesh coast during the next 12 hours, thereafter northeastwards, it said.
 
The bulletin said that, under the influence of the system, rainfall was likely at most places over coastal Andhra Pradesh during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and
isolated extremely heavy falls. It said there could be heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places in the area during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Rainfall was very likely at many places over coastal Odisha during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places, and heavy to very heavy falls at few places on May 20 and isolated heavy rainfall on May 21.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was also likely at many places over coastal Gangetic West Bengal on May 20, with isolated heavy falls, and heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places on May 21.
 
It said rainfall was also very likely over Telangana and Rayalaseema during the next 24 hours, with isolated heavy falls.
 
The bulletin said wind speed reaching 90-100 kmph, gusting to 110 kmph, was very likely to prevail along and off North Andhra Pradesh coasts during the next 12 hours and speed reaching 100-110, gusting to 120 kmph, during the next 36 hours.
 
Squally wind speed reaching 60-70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph, was  very likely to commence over south Odisha coast tonight and wind speed reaching 90-100 kmph gusting to 110 kmph from tomorrow morning.
 
Squally wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph is very likely to prevail along and off north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry during the next 24 hours. Squally wind speed reaching 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph is likely to prevail along and off West
Bengal coast from the morning of May 20.
 
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Sea conditions are very likely to be high to very high along and off Andhra Pradesh and South Odisha coasts during the next 48 hours. They are very likely to be rough to very rough along and off North Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions are very likely to be high to very high along and off West Bengal coast on May 20 and 21.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 to 1.0 metre is likely to inundate coastal Andhra Pradesh during the next 24 hours.
 
Damage to thatched huts, minor damage to power and communication lines and major damage to kutcha and minor damage to pucca roads in coastal Andhra Pradesh are likely during the next 48 hours; in south coastal Odisha from tonight onwards and in coastal West Bengal on May 20 and 21.
 
The bulletin advised fishermen not to venture into sea along and off Andhra Pradesh coast during the next 48 hours, along and off North Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off Odisha coast from tonight and along and off West Bengal coast on May 20 and 21.
 
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BJP wins in Assam, Congress ousted in Kerala; Jaya retains power in TN, Mamata in WB

The Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling party at the Centre, appeared headed for a historic win in Assam to form its first ever government in the North-East, while the Left Democratic Front was all set to return to power in Kerala, with the Congress ending up on the losing side in both states.

 
My life is dedicated to people of Tamil Nadu: Jayalalithaa
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party at the Centre, appeared headed for a historic win in Assam to form its first ever government in the North-East, while the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was all set to return to power in Kerala, with the Congress ending up on the losing side in both states.
 
In Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister J Jayalalitha proved exit polls wrong as she headed for a rare second consecutive term in offie while her West Bengal Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) was also poised for another term with a huge win as the counting of votes in the Assembly elections to the four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry was underway today.
 
In Assam, the BJP was set for a huge win, dislodging the 15-year-old Congress regime headed by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
 
In Kerala, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government headed by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy appeared to be on its way out as the Left Democratic Front (LDF) built up a huge lead.
 
As early counting trends came in, Ms. Jayalalithaa's ruling AIADMK was ahead in 131 of the 232 seats where polling was held, while the DMK led by veteran M. Karunananidhi, was leading in 90, its ally Congress in 8 and others in three constituencies.
 
In West Bengal, the TMC was leading in 212 of the 294 constituencies, while the Congress was ahead in 45, the CPM in 24, the CPI in 1, the RSP in 3, the Forward Bloc in 2 and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in 3. The BJP was leading in 3 seats.
 
In Assam, the BJP was ahead in 61 of the 126 seats, while the Congress was a distant second with leads in 26. The All India United Demcratic Front (AIUDF) was ahead in 12 seats, while the Asom Gana Parishad was leading in 14 the Bodoland People's Front in 12.
 
In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was leading in 91 of the 140 seats, while the Congress-led UDF was ahead in 47, while the BJP was ahead in one seat.
 
In Puducherry, the Congress was ahead in 15 of the 30 seats and its ally, the DMK, in two and the combine was all set to wrest power form the ruling All India NR Congress, which was ahead in eight seats. The AIADMK was leading in four.
 
Polling was held in the four states and one UT between April 4 and May 16. Counting of votes began at 8 am today and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
Assam went to the polls in two phases on April 4 and 11, while West Bengal saw polling in six phases between April 4 and May 5. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry had single-phase polling on May 16.
 
In Tamil Nadu, polling in two constituencies -- Aravakurichi and Thanjavur -- was deferred by the Election Commision to May 23 and, accordingly, the votes cast there would be counted on May 25.
 
The term of the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu is due to expire on May 22, West Bengal on May 29, Kerala on May 31, Puducherry on June 2 and Assam on June 5.
 
Votes are also being counted today in the bye-elections held on May 16 to fill one vacancy in the Lok Sabha -- Tura in Meghalaya -- and six in legislative assemblies in four states -- Jharkhand, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.
 
The assembly constituencies where bye-elections were held are Godda and Panki in Jharkhand, Talala in Gujarat, Jangipur and Bilari in Uttar Pradesh, and Palair in Telangana.
 
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The Election Commission has deferred the bye-elections in Ghoradongri (Madhya Pradesh), Anantnag (Jammu & Kashmir) and Kanubari (Arunachal Pradesh).
 
The bye-election in Tura (ST) was necessitated by the death of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma on March 4 in New Delhi.
 
In Assam, the votes are being counted at 51 counting centres across the state amidst tight security. There are 1064 candidates in the fray, including Mr. Gogoi, who is seeking a fourth consecutive term as Chief Minister, the BJP's chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal and AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal. The state had witnessed 84.72 percent polling.
 
In West Bengal, where Ms. Banerjee is seeking a second term, the polling turnout was around 80 percent. 
 
The Election Commission has set up 80 counting centres for the counting of votes in the elections to the 140-member state assembly in Kerala. The state had registered more than 77 percent polling. There are 1203 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, whose Congress-led UDF government is looking for a second consecutive term.
 
In Tamil Nadu, the counting of votes is being held at 68 centres across the state in the elections to the 234-member assembly. Polling was held on May 16 for 232 seats. The polling percentage was 73.76 percent.
 
In Puducherry, about 82 percent of the electorate had exercised their franchise on May 16. There were 344 candidates, including 21 women, in the fray for the 30 seats.
 
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Counting of votes begins in Assembly elections in Assam, WB, Kerala, TN, Puducherry

Counting of votes began on Thursday morning in the crucial elections to elect new legislative assemblies in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, where polling was held between April 4 and May 16.

 
Counting of votes began this morning in the crucial elections to elect new legislative assemblies in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, where polling was held between April 4 and May 16.
 
The counting of the votes, recorded in electronic voting machines, began at 8 am and all the results are expected by this evening, though early counting trends are expected to be available by mid-morning.
 
Assam went to the polls in two phases on April 4 and 11, while West Bengal saw polling in six phases between April 4 and May 5.
 
Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry had single-phase polling on May 16.
 
In Tamil Nadu, polling in two constituencies -- Aravakurichi and Thanjavur -- was deferred by the Election Commision to May 23 and, accordingly, the votes cast there would be counted on May 25.
 
The term of the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu is due to expire on May 22, West Bengal on May 29, Kerala on May 31, Puducherry on June 2 and Assam on June 5.
 
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Votes will also be counted today in the bye-elections held on May 16 to fill one vacancy in the Lok Sabha -- Tura in Meghalaya -- and six in legislative assemblies in four states -- Jharkhand, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.
 
The assembly constituencies where bye-elections were held are Godda and Panki in Jharkhand, Talala in Gujarat, Jangipur and Bilari in Uttar Pradesh, and Palair in Telangana.
 
The Election Commission has deferred the bye-elections in Ghoradongri (Madhya Pradesh), Anantnag (Jammu & Kashmir) and Kanubari (Arunachal Pradesh).
 
The bye-election in Tura (ST) was necessitated by the death of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma on March 4 in New Delhi.
 
In Assam, the votes will be counted at 51 counting centres across the state amidst tight security. There are 1064 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress, who is seeking a fourth consecutive term, the BJP's chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal and AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal. The state had witnessed 84.72 percent polling.
 
In West Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is seeking a second term, the polling turnout was around 80 percent. 
 
The Election Commission has set up 80 counting centres for the counting of votes in the elections to the 140-member state assembly in Kerala. The state had registered more than 77 percent polling. There are 1203 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, whose Congress-led UDF government is looking for a second consecutive term.
 
In Tamil Nadu, the counting of votes is being held at 68 centres across the state in the elections to the 234-member assembly. Polling was held on May 16 for 232 seats. The polling percentage was 73.76 percent.
 
In Puducherry, about 82 percent of the electorate had exercised their franchise on May 16. There were 344 candidates, including 21 women, in the fray for the 30 seats.
 
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Heavy polling as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry vote to elect new assemblies

Voters turned out in large numbers on Monday in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the crucial single-phase elections to elect new legislative assemblies in the two Southern states and one Union Territory.

 
Kerala, Puducherry, TN vote to elect new Assemblies
Voters turned out in large numbers today in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the crucial single-phase elections to elect new legislative assemblies in the two Southern states and one Union Territory.
 
Voting began at 7 am and ended at 6 pm and initial figures said that 71.5 percent of the electors had exercised their franchise in Kerala.
 
In Tamil Nadu, 69.19 percent polling had been recorded by 5 pm and 81.94 percent in Puducherry, and the final figures were expected to be higher.
 
Campaigning for the elections in the three states had come to a close on Saturday evening.
 
Polling was by and large peaceful in all three states, with no major untoward incident reported from any constituency. Rains in the morning played a dampener for a while in some parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala but voters did not allow this to affect their enthusiasm and brisk polling was seen in these places later in the day.
 
In Kerala, there are a total of  2,61,06,422 electors, including 1,35,08,693 women, in the 140 constituencies that went to the polls. There are 1203 candidates, including 109 women, in the fray. The Election Commission had set up 21646 polling stations in the state.
 
In Tamil Nadu, a total of 5,82,59,801 voters, including  2,93,33,954 women, were eligible to exercise their franchise in the 234 constituencies.
 
However, voting was held today for 232 seats, with polling in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur constituencies having been deferred by the Election Commission to May 23. There were a total of 3728 candidates in the 232 constituencies and voting took place at 65,486 polling stations.
 
In Puducherry, there are a total of  9,41,935 voters, including 4,94,238 women. There were 344 candidates, including 21 women, in the fray for the 30 seats. As many as 930 polling stations were set up by the Election Commission across the Union Territory.
 
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Counting of votes in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, as well as in Assam, which went to the polls in two phases on April 4 and 11, and in West Bengal, where polling was held in six phases between April 4 and May 5, will be taken up on May 19 and all the results are expected by that evening. In Aravakurichi and Thanjavur constituencies of Tamil Nadu, counting of votes will be taken up on May 25.
 
The term of the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu is due to expire on May 22, West Bengal on May 29, Kerala on May 31, Puducherry on June 2 and Assam on June 5.
 
Polling was also held today in bye-elections to fill one vacancy in the Lok Sabha -- Tura in Meghalaya -- and six in legislative assemblies in four states -- Jharkhand, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.
 
The assembly constituencies where bye-elections were held are Godda and Panki in Jharkhand, Talala in Gujarat, Jangipur and Bilari in Uttar Pradesh, and Palair in Telangana.
 
The Election Commission has deferred the bye-elections in Ghoradongri (Madhya Pradesh), Anantnag (Jammu & Kashmir) and Kanubari (Arunachal Pradesh).
 
The bye-election in Tura (ST) was necessitated by the death of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma on March 4 in New Delhi.
 
Counting of votes in all these constituencies will also be taken up on May 19.
 
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