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West Bengal

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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Uthappa, Hogg, Russell shine as KKR beat CSK by 7 wickets

 
Unbeaten knocks of 80 by opener Robin Uthappa and 55 by Andre Russell helped defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) outplay Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by seven wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Eden Gardens here tonight.
 
Put in to bat first, CSK were restricted to 165 for nine from their 20 overs as Brad Hogg grabbed 4 for 29 from his four overs and Russell picked up two for 20.
 
Opener Brendon McCullum topscored for the visitors with 32, while Dwayne Bravo made 30, Pawan Negi 27, Ravindra Jadeja 24 and Faf du Plessis 20.
 
Chasing 166 for a win, KKR made 169 for three in 19.5 overs in a match in which they clearly had the upper hand throughout, though they reached their target only with the penultimate ball of their innings.
 
Uthappa's 80 came off 58 balls and included seven fours and a six, while Russell's 55 was made from 32 deliveries with the help of four fours and a six. The all-rounder's performance got him the Man of the Match award. 
 
Skipper Gautam Gambhir contributed 19 and put on 33 for the opening wicket with Uthappa before he left in the fifth over. Manish Pandey (3) left with the total at 54 and Suryakumar Yadav (2) did not stay long, making his exit in the next over.
 
But CSK had nothing to cheer about after that as Uthappa and Russell as they got together in an unbroken 112-run partnership for the fourth wicket and steered their side to victory.
 
CSK, however, continue to be at the top of the table with six wins and two losses from their eight matches, while KKR are in third spot with four wins, three losses and one no-result from their eight outings. Rajasthan Royals are in the second place in the eight-team league.
 
While Hogg was able to spin the ball well today and keep the batsmen in check, as witnessed by his 14 dot balls, the CSK spinners were rather flat. Uthappa and Russell went for the singles and twos with the same gusto that they showed while hitting boundaries and that made their task that much easier.
 
With today's win, KKR were able to avenge the two-run defeat against Chennai two days ago when the two teams met for the first time in the league.
 
Scoreboard
Chennai Super Kings (20 overs maximum)
DR Smith c ten Doeschate b Cummins 0
BB McCullum lbw b Hogg 32
SK Raina c Chawla b UT Yadav 8
F du Plessis st Uthappa b Hogg 20
DJ Bravo b Russell 30
MS Dhoni b Chawla 1
RA Jadeja c Cummins b Hogg 24
P Negi b Hogg 27
MM Sharma c Uthappa b Russell 0
A Nehra not out 1
RG More not out 2
Extras (b 1, lb 13, w 6) 20
Total (9 wickets; 20 overs) 165
Fall of wickets 1-0 (Smith, 0.1 ov), 2-43 (Raina, 3.3 ov), 3-64 (McCullum, 5.1 ov), 4-69 (du Plessis, 5.5 ov), 5-72 (Dhoni, 6.5 ov), 6-129 (Bravo, 16.3 ov), 7-154 (Jadeja, 18.3 ov), 8-160 (Negi, 18.5 ov), 9-160 (Sharma, 19.1 ov)
Bowling
PJ Cummins 4 0 54 1
UT Yadav 2 0 16 1
PP Chawla 4 0 21 1
GB Hogg 4 0 29 4
YK Pathan 2 0 11 0
AD Russell 4 0 20 2
 
Kolkata Knight Riders (target: 166 runs from 20 overs)
RV Uthappa not out 80 58
G Gambhir c More b Sharma 19
MK Pandey c Jadeja b Negi 3
SA Yadav c Bravo b More 2
AD Russell not out 55
Extras (lb 5, w 5) 10
Total (3 wickets; 19.5 overs) 169
Did not bat: RN ten Doeschate, YK Pathan, PJ Cummins, PP Chawla, GB Hogg, UT Yadav
Fall of wickets: 1-33 (Gambhir, 4.2 ov), 2-54 (Pandey, 8.2 ov), 3-57 (SA Yadav, 9.1 ov)
Bowling
MM Sharma 4 0 22 1
A Nehra 4 0 36 0
P Negi 4 0 23 1
RG More 3.5 0 31 1
RA Jadeja 2 0 25 0
DJ Bravo 2 0 27 0
 
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Moderate earthquake shakes Nepal-West Bengal border region

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, shook the border region between Nepal and the Indian state of West Bengal this evening.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.7°N and longitude 88.1°E, occurred at 1805 hours IST at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
Media reports from Nepal said the quake was felt in Jhapa, Ilam and Panchthar areas of the Himalayan nation. 
 
Nepal is yet to come to terms with the large scale devastation caused by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the country on Saturday, claiming more than 3800 lives.
 
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Centre announces compensation of Rs 2 lakh to familes of those killed in earthquake

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The Union Government today announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of each of those who were killed in yesterday's 7.9 magnitude earthquake, which had its epicentre in Nepal and effected several parts of north and eastern India.
 
At least 57 deaths have been reported in India -- 42 in Bihar, 12 in eastern Uttar Pradesh and three in West Bengal.
 
More than 150 people have suffered injuries in Bihar and 30 in West Bengal, official sources said.
 
The tremors were felt in several parts of India, including Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Kolkata, Jaipur, Bhopal and Bhubaneswar.
 
People in many parts of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam and Meghalaya ran out of their offices and homes in panic.
 
The tremors were also felt in many parts of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, sources said.
 
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Govt. says damaged gate in Farakka Barrage being replaced

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The Government today said the Farakka Barrage Project has taken up, on a war footing, work on installation of a new gate in place of one that has been damaged in Bay No. 49 of the barrage in West Bengal.
 
A press release from the Ministry of Water Resources said the gate was damaged on March 15.
 
"This gate was due for replacement under the ongoing work of replacement of 33 gates of main Farakka Barrage. However, in the meantime, this gate got suddenly washed out before its replacement," the release said.
 
"Farakka Barrage Project has taken up the work of installation of new gate in place of damaged gate on war footing by working round the clock and deploying required men/machineries to commission the new gate within two weeks time. The replacement gate for this purpose is already available at site (Farakka)," it said.
 
In the meantime flow in the Farakka Feeder Canal and main Ganga river is being released from Farakka Barrage as per India-Bangladesh Treaty 1996, safeguarding the interests of all the stakeholders. 
 
"Further, due to aforesaid damage to the gate of Farakka Barrage, there is no danger of flood in the area," the release added.
 
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Pranab Mukherjee to visit West Bengal on April 1-2

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to West Bengal from tomorrow during which he will inaugurate the Centenary Building of Asutosh College at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata. 
 
On April 2, he will inaugurate a new building of Sarada Ma Girls’ College of Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission at Barasat, North 24 Parganas. 
 
He will also inaugurate the Centenary Year Celebrations of Sree Sree Adya Maa's advent with the opening of Adyapeath Annada B. Ed. College and a five-storeyedd building for the accommodation of 1000 orphan boys at Dakshineswar Ramakrishna Sangha Adyapeath, Kolkata before returning to New Delhi, an official press release added.
 
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BHEL wins Rs 225 crore order for 120 MW hydro-electric project in West Bengal

Logo of BHEL.
The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had won an order for setting up a 120 MW hydro-electric project (HEP) in West Bengal against international competitive bidding.
 
Valued at Rs.225 crore, the order for setting up of hydro generating sets and associated electro-mechanical works for the 120 MW Rammam Stage–III HEP, has been placed on BHEL by NTPC Ltd. 
 
To this effect, a contract was recently signed between the two companies, a press release from BHEL said.
 
Located in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, Rammam Stage–III HEP is a run of the river scheme on the Rammam, a major tributary of river Rangit. The project envisages three hydro generating sets of 40 MW capacity each, with Pelton turbines and matching hydro generators.  
 
BHEL’s scope of work in the contract envisages engineering, procurement, manufacturing and erection and commissioning of hydro generating sets and associated electro-mechanical works and is to be executed in a schedule of 45 months.
 
While the hydro generating sets shall be supplied by BHEL’s Bhopal unit, the transformers and control & monitoring system will be supplied by the company’s Jhansi unit and Electronics Division, Bangalore, respectively. The erection and commissioning of the equipment shall be carried out by BHEL’s Power Sector – Eastern Region, the release added.
 
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Mamata Banerjee meets Modi, seeks debt relief for West Bengal

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on March 9, 2015
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on March 9, 2015
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament House here today and later with a delegation of MPs from her Trinamool Congress and sought debt relief for the state as well as relief from interest payments.
 
Ms Banerjee said the debt problem was the result of the actions of past governments and was leading to high interest payments, which was affecting development expenditure in the state. She also expressed concern about pending releases.
 
She said West Bengal was the most debt-stressed state in the country today.
 
According to her, more than Rs 1 lakh crore had been deducted by the Centre towards repayment of loan and payment of interest from the state exchequer over the last three years.
 
She felt this huge amount could have been utilised for development ativities and seving the poor.
 
Ms Banerjee apprised Mr Modi of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act passed in the state and its efforts to double revenue collections.
 
"We urged the Prime Minister to waive the debts in the interest of further growth and development of West Bengal," she said later.
 
Mr Modi assured Ms Banerjee that no stone would be left unturned for the development of West Bengal as well as its capital Kolkata, not just for their own sake but for the benefit of the entire region.
 
Stating that he is a firm believer in cooperative federalism, he said he had been constantly saying that only strong states could make a strong India and therefore, states must be strengthened to meet development needs of their people. 
 
"That is why we have the Act East policy. The region has talented people and a lot of resources," he said.
 
Mr Modi said the Centre had recently agreed to devolve 42% of the divisible pool of taxes to States for the next five years, up from the existing 32 per cent. In addition, the Central Government has accepted other recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission relating to Revenue Deficit Grants and other Grants, he said.
 
He said that, among the large states, West Bengal was one the most important beneficiaries of this decision. 
 
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He said the major benefits that would go West Bengal are: 
 
Five Years 2015-2020
 
a. The tax devolution in the next five years, from 2015-16 to 2019-20 will be around Rs.2,90,000 crore as compared to Rs.1,06,000 crore in the last five years. This is an increase of Rs.1,80,000 crore, i.e., 174%.
 
b. West Bengal’s share of taxes has been increased from 7.264% to 7.324%.
 
c. Most importantly, West Bengal is getting a Revenue Deficit Grant of Rs 8,449 crore in 2015-16 and a total Revenue Deficit Grant of Rs 11,760 crore. The only other non-special category states getting this grant are Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. The Revenue Deficit Grant takes into account the interest burden on the state because of debt.
 
d. Therefore, the total Additional Resources going to West Bengal over the next five years [tax devolution and FC grants] will rise by Rs.2,05,900 crore, an increase of 174% compared to the last five years. They will rise from Rs 1.18 lakh crores to Rs 3.24 lakh crores. 
 
2015-16
 
e. The tax devolution to West Bengal in 2015-16 will rise by Rs 13,000 crore compared to 2014-15. It was Rs 25,340 crore in 2014-15 and is estimated to be Rs 38,461 crore in 2015-16
 
f. West Bengal is getting a Revenue Deficit Grant of Rs 8,449 crore in 2015-16. There are also grants to Local Bodies which have almost doubled. 
 
g. If all these transfers are put together, on a year to year basis, the increase in resources to West Bengal will be Rs 22,000 crores in 2015-16 compared to 2014-15, an increase of 80%.
 
On the problem of debt, the Prime Minister said the state had  inherited a large burden. 
 
"We too have inherited a large burden. The Centre and States have to collectively find a solution to this. In any case, the 14th Finance Commission has taken into account the interest burden on states and has fully compensated the revenue deficit arising as a result of this. This is why West Bengal is getting an additional Revenue Deficit Grant along with only two other non-Special Category States. Therefore, interest burden should not affect development activities any more in future," he said.
 
The additional financial resources being made available by the Central Government from the current fiscal onwards will substantially improve the position of the State to discharge interest liability and free up funds for developmental activities to boost growth, he said.
 
Mr Modi also pointed out that the Union Government had decided to give West Bengal royalty on coal and other minerals. This will provide a benefit of Rs 1,600 crore to the state annually. In addition, West Bengal will get Rs 11,200 crore from the coal blocks that have been auctioned so far and there will be even more revenue in future. 
 
"In this scenario, West Bengal is better placed as compared to the past and has adequate funds to meet its development needs fully," he said.
 
On the issue of releasing funds under MNREGA, the Prime Minister assured the state that the scheme was fully provided for. West Bengal has already received Rs 3,744 crores this year and pending claims of Rs 1,500 crore will be settled in March itself. 
 
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CCEA clears four-laning of ten highway stretches at cost of Rs 12,646 crore

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday gave its approval for four-laning of ten stretches of national highways (NHs) at a total cost of Rs 12,646 crore.
 
These highway projects, adding up to a total length of 712 kilometres, are located in West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh and will be implemented under various phases of the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP).
 
The expenditure to be incurred on these projects is to be borne by the Government of India in public interest.  
 
All these projects will convert the existing two-laning highway projects into high quality four-laning highway projects thereby catalyzing the economic development of the regions along the corridors of these highways, an official press release said.
 
The following are the packages:
 
1.  Ghaghra Bridge-Varanasi (Package-II), Uttar Pradesh, NH-233, NHDP-IV, 59.947 km, Rs 1138 crore.
 
2.  Ghaghra Bridge-Varanasi (Package-III), Uttar Pradesh, NH-233, NHDP-IV, 59.07 km, Rs 1157 crore.
 
3.  Rewa-Katni-Jabalpur (Package-I), Madhya Pradesh, NH-7, NHDP-IV, 69.19 km, Rs 1032 crore.
 
4.  Rewa-Katni-Jabalpur (Package-II), Madhya Pradesh, NH-7, NHDP-IV, 69.07 km, Rs 1034 crore.
 
5.  Rewa-Katni-Jabalpur (Package-IV), Madhya Pradesh, NH-7. NHDP-IV, 68.26 km, Rs 1035 crore.
 
6.  Jabalpur-Lakhnadon, Madhya Pradesh, NH-7,NHDP-IV, 80.82 km, Rs 1244 crore.
 
7.  Baharagora-Singhara, Odisha, NH-6, 111.606 km, Rs 1283 crore.
 
8. Parwanoo-Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, NH-22, NHDP-III, 39.139 km, Rs 1247 crore.
 
9.  Ghoshpukur-Salasbari (Package-I), West Bengal, NH-31 D, NHDP-II, 83.785 km, Rs 1755 crore.
 
10. Ghoshpukur-Salasbari (Package-II), West Bengal, NH-31 D, NHDP-II, 71.069 km, Rs 1721 crore
 
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Mamata writes to Modi to consider waiver of West Bengal's debt burden

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to consider waiver of the debt burden on West Bengal immediately, saying that no other state in the country as "debt-stressed" as her state is.
 
“We have long been pursuing with the Central Government for waiver of the huge debt burden left upon us by the previous government in West Bengal. We have waited for more than three and half years with no results," she said in a post on her Facebook page.
 
She said the deduction of about Rs. 28,000 crore every year towards debt taken by the previous government had been increasing.
 
"No other State in the country is as ‘debt-stressed’ as West Bengal because of the gross misrule of the previous Left Front government for long 34 years," she said.
 
"Our State needs immediate relief from the debt burden, so that growth and development efforts continue unhindered.
 
"I have, therefore, written to the Prime Minister to consider waiver of the debt burden on us immediately. I have sought an appointment to meet him along with a delegation of my Members of Parliament to discuss this issue," she added.
 
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Kolkata businessman detained in fraud case on basis of Delhi Police look out circular

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A Kolkata businessman, Shibaji Panja, was detained by the immigration authorities at the Kolkata airport yesterday on the basis of a look out circular issued by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police against him in a case of alleged forgery ad cheating involving an amount of Rs 18 crore.
 
Media reports from Kolkata said the businessmen was close to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and had, in fact, accompanied her on her three-day Bangladesh visit. He was detained on his return from that trip.
 
A press release from the EOW said Panja was a director of R P Infosystems Ltd, a company engaged in the manufacture and sale of computers, which had taken a oan of Rs 18 crore from IFCI Factors Ltd.
 
The release said the loan was availed of on the basis of forged documents and the amount was not repaid.
 
"The purchase order, invoices, ferry receipts, acknowledgement notes all had been forged to obtain the loans. The officials of the buying firms also corroborated the same as they had never entered into such agreement. Thus the alleged firm hatched a well planned conspiracy to cheat the complainant firm and forged the documents for the same. In view of apprehension that the directors of the alleged firm may try to run away, the immigration authorities all across the country were put on alert and a look out circular (LOC) was issued. On 21th February, one the directors of the firm, Shibaji Panja, was apprehended by Kolkota authorities at the airport," it said.
 
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Delhi Police arrest Howrah man for running fake government of India website

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The Delhi Police have arrested a man for allegedly creating and running fake government of India websites and cheating several people of large sums of money on the pretext of providing them with loans from the government under various projects and schemes.
 
The man, identified as Sudipta Chatterjee, 43, of Howrah, West Bengal had allegedly created a fake website under the name of "Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Yojana"with the URL www.pmay-gov.in.
 
The police seized dongles, hard discs, mobile phones, cheques related to 43 bank accounts, fake project reports, rubber stamps and other incriminating material from the mastermind of the racket, the police said.
 
According to the police, they had received information about the website, which was hosted on a server in the United States. All Government of India websites are hosted in India.
 
The police found that the site was being run from Howrah and a team of policemen which visited the place managed to locate the premises from which the team was operating.
 
A raid was conducted with the assistance of the West Bengal police and Chatterjee was arrested with another person, Ram Chandra Chatterjee.
 
The police said Chatterjee told them that he had learnt a bit about e-commerce and also employed telecallers while running a real estate business from 2002-09.
 
Using that experience, he decided to create fake websites that looked like Government of India websites to cheat people of money, he said. He said he had also employed about 17 telecallers to contact people who had registered on the site. People were asked to deposit a specified amount in a bank account, which the mastermind later withdrew.
 
The police said Chatterjee also provided them details about his associate, who is a website designer. He said he had created other websites and e-mail accounts as part of the racket.
 
Police said they had blocked all the bank accounts and were trying to ascertain how many people were duped by Chatterjee.
 
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Centre promises help to Eastern states to boost internal security, combat Naxalism

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has assured all possible assistance from the Centre to the four Eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal for strengthening internal security.
 
Presiding over the 21st meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council here yesterday, he emphasized the need for better coordination between state and Central agencies, particularly in the matter of combating Naxalism.
 
On the issue of fund requirements for modernization of state police forces, Mr Singh said that the Centre would consider it on merit. He also promised to consider the demand for deployment of additional Central forces in the Naxalite-dominated "Red Zone" areas of the four states.
 
Bihar Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Jharkhand Chief Minister  Raghubar Das and representatives of Orissa and West Bengal were among those who attended the meeting.
 
The discussions covered issues such as Naxalism, police modernisation, border disputes, road connectivity, railway projects, water management, flood control, food problem, rural housing and more Central allocation for developmental activities.
 
The Council, which met after a gap of two years, also reviewed the progress in the implementation of the recommendations made at the last meeting of the Council held in Kolkata in 2013. 
 
The Council also took up issues relating to release of water by West Bengal for the upper Mahananda irrigation project in Bihar, allocation of additional rice to the States, maternal and child nutrition for addressing malnutrition, measures for bringing green revolution to Eastern India and governance issues in relation to States for export promotion, issues relating to Geological Survey of India (GSI) concerning states of Eastern Zone, and implementation of India Statistical Strengthening Project (ISSP) in the States of the eastern zone. 
 
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The meeting decided to increase the cross-border coordination and emphasized on timely sharing of information. The issues relating to disaster management and curbing of drugs trafficking in the Eastern Zone were also discussed. 
 
The Council also took up items suggested by the Inter-State Council in relation to amendments in the EZC rules and in relation to holding meeting of the Council as well as of the Standing Committee regularly. 
 
In the meeting, Bihar raised the demand for grant of special status to the state. Further, issues of power shortage, management of river water for draught & flood control were also primarily raised by Bihar during the meeting. 
 
Jharkhand put forth its concern about pending railway projects, need of better road connectivity for development and other issues. 
 
The next meeting of the Council will be held at Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, later this year. 
 
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Eastern Zonal Council to meet in Patna on January 16

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The 21st Meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal, will be held tomorrow in Patna under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. 
 
The agenda for the meeting was finalized at the 8th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the Chief Secretaries of the four states, held in Patna on November 7, 2014.
 
Besides this, some additional items are likely to bepresented in the meeting by the concerned State Governments, an official press release said here today.
 
The release said the agenda finalized by the Standing Committee includes issues of Inter-State and Centre-State cooperation, allocation of additional assistance to the States to provide relief to the tribals and issues relating to security.
 
There are five Zonal Councils -- Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern and Central Zonal Council -- which are advisory bodies and discuss any matter in which some or all of the States represented in a Council have a common interest. These Councils advise the Central and State Governments on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, linguistic minorities, inter-state transport, matters connected with or arising out of the reorganization of states and matters concerning border disputes. 
 
Government had constituted a Commission on Centre-State relations under the chairmanship of Justice M M Punchchi, former Chief Justice of India, to look into the changing dynamics of Centre-State relations in the context of emerging social, political, economic, environmental and governance issues in the country. This Commission had recommended that the Zonal Councils should meet regularly with an agenda proposed by the States concerned to maximize coordination and promote harmonization of policies and action having inter-state ramification. 
 
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Mukherjee receives honorary degree from University of Calcutta

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The University of Calcutta conferrred a D. Litt./Law Degree (Honoris Causa) and the Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Medal on President Pranab Mukherjee, who was the chief guest at its annual convocation here yesterday and is also an alumnus of the university.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mukherjee recalled his association with University of Calcutta. He said Suri Vidyasagar College, where he did his education, was then affiliated to the university. He also pursued a law degree from the Department of Law and two post graduate degrees in Modern History and Political Science as an external candidate. 
 
Mr Mukherjee said it was his good fortune to have been associated with the university at a time when a young and free India was taking rapid strides in national development.
 
He said that, after becoming President, several universities had wanted to confer honorary doctorates on him, but he had not accepted any of the offers. He said he felt that, as President of India, he should not accept such offers but when his alma mater made such an offer he could not refuse it.
 
Talking about the role of the University of Calcutta in the freedom movement, he said the colonial rulers established the institution to cater to the educational requirements of the nobility and upper classes of India. Yet, in due course, the university became the guiding light for revolutionary ideas and nationalistic pursuits. 
 
Mr Mukherjee said education must support two elemental objectives of human existence: proliferation of knowledge and formation of character. 
 
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"Higher education has a unique role to play in preparing the torch-bearers of tomorrow who will endeavour in different fields - from medicine to engineering, teaching, administration, business, politics and social service – to lead our nation to the high tables of global power. It is therefore incumbent on our seats of higher learning to mould the next generation by inculcating in them the core values of patriotism, honesty, responsibility, discipline, respect for pluralism, respect for women and compassion," he said
 
The President said it is ironical that India's higher education system, which is capable of producing world-class scholars, loses them to foreign universities.
 
"A serious scrutiny is necessary to counter this avoidable trend. There is no dearth of talented students or inspired teachers. Evidence of this is the fact that graduates of Indian Universities went on to win Nobel Prizes," he said.
 
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Mukherjee to visit West Bengal, UP, Odisha from Nov 28-30

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha from November 28 to 30, an official press release said here today.
 
Tomorrow, Mr Mukherjee will deliver the convocation address at the University of Calcutta and inaugurate the Institute of Neurosciences, Kolkata. 
 
On Saturday, Mr Mukherjee will be the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the 150th anniversary of Metropolitan Institution at Kolkata.
 
On the same day, he will inaugurate the 40th All India Sociological Conference on `Development, Diversity and Democracy` of Indian Sociological Society at Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith, Varanasi. 
 
He will also inaugurate the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya and visit Skills Development Learning Labs at Centurion University of Technology & Management at Bhubaneswar on the same day. 
 
On November 30,the President will inaugurate the 1st Vivekananda Memorial Building at Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rampur, Kalahandi. He will also inaugurate the golden jubilee celebrations of Rama Devi Women`s Autonomous College, Bhubaneswar before returning to New Delhi, the release added.
 
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Keshari Nath Tripathi to hold additional charge as Governor of Bihar

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The President has appointed Mr Keshari Nath Tripathi, Governor of West Bengal, to discharge the functions of the Governor of Bihar, in addition to his own duties.
 
A press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said Mr Tripathi would hold the additional charge until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor of Bihar are made vice Dr. D.Y. Patil, who will complete his tenure on November 26.
 
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Mukherjee to visit Kirnahar, Mirati in West Bengal from Sep 30-Oct 3

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Kirnahar and Mirati in West Bengal from September 30 to October 3, during which he will perform "puja" and meet the local people.
 
On October 2, 2014 he will pay floral tributes at the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri at Kirnahar Shib Chandra High School. 
 
He will also mark the day by flagging off children's squads belonging to the school on ‘Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan’ cleanliness drive, an official press release added.
 
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21 hurt in fire at SAIL's IISCO Steel Plant at Burnpur in West Bengal

21 injured in explosion in IISCO steel plant in West Bengal
At least 21 people suffered injuries in a fire that broke out at public sector Steel Authority of India Limited's (SAIL) IISCO Steel Plant (ISP) at Burnpur in Bardhaman district of West Bengal today.
 
A spokesman for SAIL said the mishap occurred around 12.15 pm and preliminary inquiry revealed that the fire had broken out in the New Coke Oven Battery No.11. 
 
He said the fire was immediately extinguished.The incident occurred during a planned shutdown taken for carrying out rectification jobs in one of the pre-heaters of the coke oven battery, he said.
 
The spokesman said around 21 affected persons were provided immediate medical attention, both at the Plant Medical Unit and at Burnpur Hospital.
 
Of them, two employees of a contractor, BEC, had been admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital, he added.
 
Both company officials and the local police are investigating the cause of the fire, sources said.
 
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BJP suffers setback in UP, loses ground in Gujarat, Rajasthan in bye-elections

Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a setback in Uttar Pradesh and lost ground in Rajasthan and Gujarat as counting of votes got underway in bye-elections in ten states on Tuesday.

 
By-polls: Counting begins for 3 LS, 33 assembly seats
Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a setback in Uttar Pradesh and lost ground in Rajasthan and Gujarat as counting of votes got underway in bye-elections in ten states today.
 
In all, polling was held on September 13 for three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in the bye-elections, which were seen as a major test of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which completed 100 days in office recently.
 
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh won eight of the 11 Assembly seats for which bye-elections were held, while the BJP had to rest content with just three. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had earlier held all 11 seats.
 
The seats won by the SP in Uttar Pradesh were Bijnor, Thakurdwara, Nighasan, Hamirpur, Charkhari, Sirathu and Rohaniya, while the BJP won Saharanpur Nagar, Noida and Lucknow East.
 
The SP’s candidate, Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, also won from the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency in the state.
 
These results are significant because the BJP, riding on a Modi wave, had won as many as 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh in the April-May Parliamentary elections. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal held all 11 Assembly seats for which bye-elections were held.
 
In Rajasthan, where the BJP had made a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won three of the four seats in the bye-elections -- Surajgarh, Weir (SC) and Nasirabad, while the BJP had to remain content with one, Kota South.
 
Similarly, in Gujarat, where Mr Modi was the Chief Minister for more than 12 years before becoming Prime Minister and where the BJP had won all 26 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress managed to win three of the nine Assembly seats in the bye-elections.
 
The Congress won Deesa, Khambhalia and Mangrol, while the BJP retained Maninagar, Tankara, Talaja, Anand, Matar and Limkheda. All nine seats were earlier held by the BJP.
 
The BJP also won the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, with its candidate and deputy mayor Ranjanben Bhatt winning by a huge margin of more than 3.29 lakh votes.
The BJP made its debut in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly when its candidate Samik Bhattacharya  won the Basirhat Dakshin seat today. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) won the other seat, Chowranghee, for which bye-elections were held.
 
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In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi's K Prabhakar Reddy won the Medak Lok Sabha seat.
 
In Tripura, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) won the lone assembly seat, Manu, for which bye-elections were held.
 
In Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won the Nandigama Assembly seat.
 
In Sikkim, an independent candidate, Rup Narayan Chamling, won the Rangang-Yangang Assembly seat.
 
In Assam, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won the Jamunamukh Assembly seat, while the BJP was leading in Silchar and the Congress in Lakhipur.
 
Counting of votes began in all the constituencies this morning and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
The bye-elections have assumed added significance because they took place about a month before crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, where Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a strong bid to wrest power.
 
Vadodara was one of the two seats won by Mr Modi in the April-May Lok Sabha elections. He had resigned from there after deciding to retain Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the other seat from where he had won.
 
Similarly, Mainpuri was vacated by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who retained Azamgarh, also in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Medak had fallen vacant when Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader K Chandrashekara Rao resigned to take over as the first Chief Minister of Telangana after it was carved out as India's 29th state out of Andhra Pradesh.
 
Polling was also held for two seats in West Bengal and one in Chhattisgarh.
 
Today's results have come as bad news for the BJP, which had won only eight of the 18 Assembly seats in four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab -- where bye-elections were held in August, while the Congress and its allies managed to win ten.
 
Apart from being a pointer to the extent to which the BJP has been able to hold on to its popularity, the bye-elections were also a major test for the SP.
 
These were the first elections in Gujarat under new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who succeeded Mr Modi when he moved to Delhi as Prime Minister.
 
Most of the 33 Assembly seats had fallen vacant after the sitting MLAs, mainly belonging to the BJP, had been elected to the Lok Sabha in the last general elections. Bye-elections in three assembly constituencies were necessitated by the deaths of the sitting members.
 
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BJP loses ground in UP, Gujarat, Rajasthan as counting of votes gets underway in bye-elecions

Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP on Tuesday appeared to have lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan as counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections to three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in 10 states.

 
By-polls: Counting begins for 3 LS, 33 assembly seats
Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today appeared to have lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan as counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections to three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in 10 states.
 
The bye-elections are being seen as a major test of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which completed 100 days in office recently.
 
Early counting trends showed that the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) was ahead in eight of the 11 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh for which polling was held on September 13 along with the other states.
 
The SP was also leading in the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency, according to reports reaching here.
 
The BJP, which had captured as many as 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, had taken leads in just three seats. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had held all 11 seats in the Assembly.
 
The BJP's hold in Gujarat and Rajasthan, where it had won all the Lok Sabha seats in April-May, also appeared to be weakening. 
 
In Gujarat, where Mr Modi was the Chief Minister for more than 12 years before becoming Prime Minister, the Congress was ahead in at least two of the nine Assembly seats that went to the polls, while the BJP was leading in seven as well as in the Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency. All nine Assembly seats were previously held by the BJP.
 
In Rajasthan, the Congress and BJP were leading in two seats each as counting of votes progressed in the four Assembly constituencies that went to the polls.
 
Early trends from Assam showed that the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) was ahead in two seats, while the BJP was leading in one.
 
In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi was leading in the Medak Lok Sabha seat.
 
Counting of votes began in all the constituencies this morning and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
The bye-elections have assumed added significance because they took place about a month before crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, where Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a strong bid to wrest power.
 
Vadodara was one of the two seats won by Mr Modi in the April-May Lok Sabha elections. He had resigned from there after deciding to retain Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the other seat from where he had won.
 
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Similarly, Mainpuri was vacated by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who retained Azamgarh, also in Uttar Pradesh. Medak had fallen vacant when Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader K Chandrashekara Rao resigned to take over as the Chief Minister of Telangana.
 
Of the 33 Assembly constituencies that went to the polls last Saturday, 11 are in Uttar Pradesh, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, three in Assam, two in West Bengal and one each in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim.
 
The BJP had scored an overwhelming victory in the April-May Lok Sabha elections on the strength of a strong Modi wave, but it could win only eight of the 18 Assembly seats in four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab -- where bye-elections were held in August, with the Congress and its allies managing to win ten.
 
The results of the bye-elections in Uttar Pradesh, apart from being a pointer to the extent to which the BJP has been able to hold on to its popularity, will also be a major test for the SP.
 
These were the first elections in Gujarat under new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who succeeded Mr Modi when he moved to Delhi as Prime Minister.
 
Most of the 33 Assembly seats had fallen vacant after the sitting MLAs had been elected to the Lok Sabha in the last general elections. Bye-elections in three assembly constituencies were necessitated by the deaths of the sitting members.
 
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Mukherjee opens first IIEST at Shibpur in West Bengal

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President Pranab Mukherjee has said that a culture of excellence mst be promoted in the country's higher academic institutions and core competencies nurtured.
 
"Academic cooperation between institutions must be encouraged," he said after inaugurating the first Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) of the country at Shibpur, Howrah, West Bengal yesterday.
 
Mr Mukherjee stressed that research and innovation must go hand in hand and should be focused on solving the country’s myriad developmental problems.
 
"It is also important that industry and academia operate in tandem and create the right synergies and environment for industrial growth and academic rejuvenation. Quality up-gradation of state-level institutions, which account for 96 percent of the higher education capacity, needs to be accorded high priority," he said.
 
The President praised IIEST Shibpur for significant advancements in several areas of human endeavour. He said the IIEST was actively seeking to address some of the global challenges today in areas as diverse as renewable energy, water technology, medical and environmental sciences. 
 
Some other important areas of engagement of the institute are Disaster Management; Clean coal technology; Power Electronics; Remote-sensing and GIS; Space Technology; Biochemical Sensors, Structural Engineering; VLSI and Embedded Systems.
 
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Ms Justice Manjula Chellur, Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court; Dr. Partha Chatterjee, Minister-In-Charge, Higher Education, Government of West Bengal; M. Anandakrishnan, Chairman, Board of Governors, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur; Mr Tarun Vijay, Member of Parliament, Prof. Ajoy Kumar Ray, Director, IIEST, Shibpur and Dr. Biman Badyopadhyay, Registrar, IIEST, Shibpur.
 
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GAIL says to begin work soon on Jagdishpur-Phulpur-Haldia natural gas pipeline

The public sector gas major GAIL (India) Limited today said it was all set to begin work soon on the 2050 km Jagdishpur-Phulpur-Haldia natural gas pipeline which will serve as the "energy highway" for carrying efficient and environment-friendly fuel to West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
 
The project will fulfill the commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech in Ranchi, Jharkhand last week for the overall development of Eastern India and meeting its energy requirements, a press release from GAIL said.
 
According to it, the pipeline will benefit millions of people in the four states and lead to setting up of city gas networks in 17 major cities of the region.
 
These include Varanasi,  Allahabad, Patna,  Gaya, Chhapra,  Siwan,  Gopalganj, Mujaffarpur, Bettiah, Bhagalpur, Bokaro,  Dhanbad,  Ranchi,  Jamshedpur,  Asansol,  Durgapur and Kolkata. 
 
This means that residents of these cities can enjoy the convenience of piped natural gas (PNG) that directly reaches households and the economical compressed natural gas (CNG) for vehicles.
 
Besides city gas distribution, the pipeline will supply feedstock/fuel to fertilizer and power plants and major industries located in the region.
 
The estimated investment for the project is about Rs 10,000 crores. The first phase of the pipeline will have a capacity of 16 MMSCMD which would be augmented to 32 MMSCMD in the second phase.
 
The fertilizer plants which will benefit from the project include units at Gorakhpur, Barauni, Sindri and Matix Durgapur. In addition, the pipeline will also supply natural gas to refineries at Barauni and Haldia, steel industries, power plants and other large SME manufacturing units in the region. The pipeline will also boost agricultural and economic development and generate employment opportunities in the region, the release said.
 
The pipeline will consist of a 922-km main line (36 inch-diameter) and 1,128 km of spur lines and feeder lines (12 to 30 inch diameter). The compressor station will be located at Haldia in West Bengal.
 
GAIL has already started activities related to detailed survey of the pipeline route. The survey will include engineering survey (topography, population density index, soil resistivity and soil investigation survey) and cadastral survey (collection of revenue details of every village along the route along with ownership details). Actual construction activities will commence once the survey is completed, the release said.
 
It is estimated that the project will have 46 river crossings, 17 railway crossings, 14 State Highway crossings and 12 National Highway crossings, thus making it one of the most difficult engineering projects of its kind, it said.
 
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Pro Kabaddi: Patna defeat Bengal 36-32 to climb to second spot in table

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The much-talked about Bengal Warriors defence looked completely ordinary as Patna Pirates outplayed them 36-32 to claim the second spot in the table in the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League here tonight.
 
There were great expectations of a keen contest in the Sawai Man Singh Indoor Stadium here as the match kicked off under bright lights.
 
Patna launched the first assault as they captured Bengal’s star raider Nitin Madane in a spectacular ankle hold and followed it up by Ravi Dalal’s fierce raid which saw two Warriors ousted. 
 
Dalal continued his streak as he took down Shyam Kumar Sah, leaving Bengal a three-man outfit. As Nitin Madane exited the field yet again, captain Nilesh Shinde was left to fight alone. 
 
Leading from the front, he revived two Bengal players. Fighting hard, Bengal refused to give in easily soon, making it a four-a-side affair. However as Sandeep Narwal decide to join the party, Bengal conceded the first LONA points in 19th minute. At half-time the scores were 19-13 in favour of the Pirates. 
 
As the second half began, Bengal bounced back, as Madane earned them two crucial points, injuring his left knee in the process. With Rakesh Kumar cheering from the sides, Patna got back to their winning ways as Sandeep Narwal scored two points taking the lead to 9 points in the 29th minute.
 
In a ray of hope for the Warriors, Sandeep Narwal and Ravi Dalal got out, one after the other. But this hope was short-lived as Patna earned their second set of LONA points in the 32nd minute. The troubles ceased to end for Bengal as an injury to Mahendra Rajput saw him walking off the field as well. 
 
Keeping the last few minutes muted, the Pirates won the match by four points.
 
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SpiceJet to resume service to Bangkok with new daily flight from Kolkata

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced the resumption of services to Bangkok with a new daily flight from Kolkata from September 25.
 
This will also be SpiceJet's first direct international flight from Kolkata, a press release from the airline said. The airline used to earlier operate to Bangkok from Bangalore and Pune.
 
The release said the flights will be operating to Bangkok’s state-of-the-art Suvarnabhoomi airport, from where numerous onward domestic and international connections are available.
 
Mr Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Operating Officer, SpiceJet Ltd, said, “We believe there is tremendous opportunity in the Kolkata – Bangkok market, and this flight will also connect passengers to and from other Indian destinations to Bangkok via Kolkata.”
 
“We have timed the launch of this flight to co-incide with the start of the Puja holidays and festive season. With Thailand offering visa-on-arrival for Indians, and with our unbelievably low introductory fare, there is no excuse now to postpone that long planned Thailand holiday," he added.
 
SpiceJet will deploy Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft on this route, the release added.
 
The airline currently operates more than 340 flights to 47 destingations, including seven international cities.
 
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