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BJP rubbishes Mamata Banerjee govt’s claims on West Bengal’s growth

Buttressing his point that Bengal’s 10.48 per cent growth in 2014-15 was due to its low base, he said a poor state like Bihar had grown by 17 per cent for the same reason. The state government’s claim about starting of projects worth over Rs 91,000 crore was also “misleading”, he said, noting that work worth over Rs 70,000 crore pertained to the Centre. He also hit out at the Congress government in Assam for registration of a criminal case against BJP workers over their protests at its office. He alleged that that it took no action against its leaders involved in targeting BJP leaders and the party office. “It is a case of double standards,” he said.

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What’s use of talks, if Pak artists not allowed to perform, asks Sitaram Yechury

Salim alleged that the bonhomie between the TMC and BJP can be found from the fact that BJP ministers who visit Bengal always praise Bengal government.

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After bonhomie in Lahore, PM Modi and Nawaz Sharif to meet in Washington?

The first visit by an Indian premier in 11 years marked another step forward by the two countries in their efforts to put on an even keel in their ties which was going through a chill until recently. Modi also attended a marriage function of Sharif’s grand-daughter Mehrun Nisa (who is the daughter of Mariam Nawaz Sharif) at the latter’s Raiwind home on the outskirts of Lahore.

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CPI(M) to hold plenum in Bengal from Sunday after 37 years

The plenum is being held at a time when Marxists, who had lost power in the state after 34 years, are trying to revitalise the party organisation in the state. The CPI(M) plenum was last held in West Bengal in 1978 at Salkia in Howrah district.

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Watch: Herd of eight elephants go on rampage in West Bengal village

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Panic gripped West Bengal’s Midnapore District after a herd of eight elephants ravaged a village for two days.

elephants

Panic gripped West Bengal’s Midnapore District after a herd of eight elephants ravaged a village for two days. Several huts collapsed as the jumbos strayed into the village and started running amok. Many crops were damaged, said the villagers. “Eight elephant came and broke the wall of my hut with their trunks. We were sleeping at that time,” said a villager, Gobinda Chalak.Forest department officials were informed about the extent of the damage.”A girl broke her leg and the jumbos destroyed our crops. Several houses were damaged,” said another villager, Sukhram Chalak. Villagers said forest official tranquilised the elephants to bring the situation under control. Attacks by elephants have been frequent in West Bengal state causing serious injuries and deaths to villagers living near forests.

Groundwater status alarming across 16 states and 2 UT’s: House panel

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While reviewing the status of groundwater, the standing committee of parliament on water resource, river development and Ganga rejuvenation noted that groundwater across 1071 locations across 16 states and two union territories is being over exploited.

Worried about the indiscriminate extraction of groundwater for irrigation, industries and domestic use and its groundwater contamination, a parliamentary panel has asked the Union ministry of water resources to carry out a study to detail impact of groundwater extraction on farming, health and environment. The panel has asked the ministry to submit the report in six months from now.While reviewing the status of groundwater, the standing committee of parliament on water resource, river development and Ganga rejuvenation noted that groundwater across 1071 locations across 16 states and two union territories is being over exploited. These locations comprise of blocks, mandals, talukas and districts are spread over a total area of 5 lakh square kms of the country and have been termed as ‘dark blocks’. These dark blocks stretch from plus localities such as the capital’s Defence Colony and Hauz Khas to districts in southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The committee are gravely concerned that the country is on the path towards a serious water crisis in the near future due to over-extraction and quality deterioration of groundwater,” the parliamentary panel said. While recommending that a study be carried out, the panel specifically asked the ministry to map agricultural land falling in dark blocks. According to the the data provided on the annual ground water withdrawal, irrigation sector accounted for the maximum share; 90.75%, followed by domestic and industrial sector, whose combined share was 9.25%.The committee noted that states such as Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan saw high levels of groundwater extraction for irrigation. In Punjab, irrigation accounts for 97.9% groundwater withdrawal while in Haryana and Rajasthan, the figures stand at 94.5% and 88.4% respectively.Along with indiscriminate groundwater extraction, high contamination of water in rural habitations was reported in the year 2015. The parliamentary panel was informed that as of May 2015, states have reported that water in 63,282 rural settlements was contaminated by heavy metals or toxic metals such as arsenic, flouride, salinity, iron and nitrate. Some of the states worst hit due to groundwater contamination are Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Punjab, Assam and Tripura.

Forward Bloc against Left Front-Congress alliance in Bengal

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The AIFB’s decision comes in the midst of reports that a large section of state Congress leaders are favourable to an alliance with the CPI(M)-led Left Front in order to oust the
ruling TMC from power

CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury is keeping his options open so far

Amidst speculation of a CPI(M)-Congress alliance before next year’s Assembly election in West Bengal, the All India Forward Bloc, a constituent of the Left Front, today said it was not in favour of aligningwith the Congress to oust the ruling Trinamool Congress from power.The AIFB’s decision comes in the midst of reports that a large section of state Congress leaders are favourable to an alliance with the CPI(M)-led Left Front in order to oust theruling TMC from power. “We feel both BJP and Congress are capitalist forces. We should maintain a equi-distance from both these parties. Our party’s stand is clear. We are not in favour of aligningwith the Congress in order to take on the TMC in West Bengal.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Left will alone take on the ruling party,” AIFB general secretary Debabrata Biswas told PTI. Biswas said that the CPI(M) in its party congress has decided to maintain equi-distance from the BJP and the Congress, wondering what prompted to backtrack from thatdecision.”The Left Front is not a regional force. If there is an alliance with the Congress in Bengal, what will happen in Kerala and Tripura where Congress is our main opposition?”Biswas wanted to know. Asked if the AIFB would walk out of the Left Front in the event of the CPI(M) going in for the alliance, Biswas said, “This is a hypothetical question. It can’t be answeredthis way.”CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury earlier this month had said, “The question will come in January. We will tell you. Right now we are involved in struggles and party’sorganisational activities and our upcoming Plenum session.”

2015 review: Saradha scam fails to dent TMC’s electoral fortunes in Bengal

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TMC’s arch rival CPI-M tried hard to regain some lost ground although the Marxists admitted that they still have some “deficiencies” in terms of their strength.

Mamata Banerjee after party’s victory in civic polls

PTI
The multi-crore Saradha scam continued to haunt the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal during 2015 but it had little impact on the party’s performance in municipal and panchayat elections and also bypolls as it registered emphatic wins.TMC’s arch rival CPI-M tried hard to regain some lost ground although the Marxists admitted that they still have some “deficiencies” in terms of their strength. The year began with CBI’s action against several TMC leaders, which the party termed as “vendetta politics” by the Narendra Modi government. CBI arrested TMC leader and former transport minister Madan Mitra and also questioned former party general secretary Mukul Roy after which Roy, once a trusted lieutenant of party supremo Mamata Banerjee, distanced himself from TMC.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For BJP, which had garnered nearly 18 per cent votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the year did not bring much hope as it failed to put up a good show in successive elections to municipalities and panchayats. According to a senior state BJP leader, the notion that the central party leadership is going soft on Saradha scam and has entered into a deal with TMC in return of its support in Rajya Sabha, where BJP is in a minority, has further eroded the party’s credibility. Ahead of the Assembly polls, BJP appointed Dilip Ghosh, an old RSS hand as the new state president replacing incumbent Rahul Sinha.Left and Congress charged the Modi government with “having a deal with TMC” for its support in passing bills in the Upper House in return of CBI going slow on the Saradha scam. They argued that TMC did not raise its voice on issues such as Vyapam scam and Lalitgate when the Opposition protested against it. Allegations and counter-allegations apart, TMC cruised along to impressive victoriesThis prompted TMC Secretary General Partha Chatterjee to say, “The people of Bengal are with us. CPI(M), Congress and BJP are together in their fight. But the election results have shown that they have been rejected by the masses.” However, the year also saw certain cracks in TMC as the party’s once powerful General Secretary Mukul Roy’s wings were clipped and Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek virtually took over as number two of the party. Roy who was under CBI scanner, was stripped of the position of TMC all India general secretary as well as from the post of party’s leader in the Rajya Sabha. However, there were signs of his mending fences with the party as he met Mamata in Parliament and was invited to a dinner meeting.Political observers say that with Assembly poll only a few months away, TMC leadership’s strategy is to bring back the disgruntled partymen in its fold. The CPI-M, which slipped into a state of disarray after repeated electoral setbacks since the 2011 Assembly election in the state, has been trying to recapture some lost ground in the state which it had ruled for over three decades.In an attempt to make its presence felt, it organised some aggressive political programmes and continued rectification drive. The baton of the state party unit was passed on from septuagenarian Biman Bose to a relatively younger Surya Kanta Mishra.Notwithstanding its effort to stage a comeback, the Marxist party still have some deficiencies in terms of its strength which was admitted by former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. “It is true that we are conducting rallies, meetings in various districts. But still there are some deficiencies in terms of strength,” Bhattacharjee recently said.The Marxists have undertaken a move to infuse new blood in the organisation replacing old faces to rejuvenate the party. More than 70 per cent chiefs of the party’s various units from district to local committee level were replaced in the organisational conferences held in the past few months. The party this time has changed secretaries in nine districts including Kolkata.Caught between TMC and CPI-M, Congress leadership was in two minds whether to contest the ensuing Assembly poll alone or to forge an alliance. The state Congress leadership is clearly divided on this issue with a section wanting to go with CPI-M while another group favoured tie-up with TMC with which it had contested the 2011 elections.

No one can dictate what one should eat, says West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

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The TMC chief said she was shocked by the cancellation of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s event in Maharastra following threats from Shiv Sena.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said food and religion are matters of individual choice and no one can dictate what one should eat, and asserted that the “biggest” duty of governments is to protect the religious freedom and rights of minorities.”We are against the Dadri incident, we don’t support it. Who are you to dictate what should one eat…It’s a matter of my choice. If I have the right to eat fish, you have the right to eat meat as well. Whatever you eat, beef or chicken, is your individual choice,” Banerjee told a gathering of members of the Muslim community at Furfura Shariff in Kolkata.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Many minorities, Christians, tribals consume beef. It is their choice. Who are you to stop them! We are all citizens of this country. The Constitution has given us some basic rights. It’s a secular country,” she said.The Chief Minister made an all-out effort to reach out to minorities ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls and said, “The biggest duty is to protect you people…to preserve your religious rights and freedom. I believe that just like I have my own freedom of religion, you people too have your freedom of religion.”On Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan facing criticism over their comments on intolerance, she said, “All of a sudden if someone is asked to leave the country or banished from the country, this is not right. Sometime Shah Rukh Khan is being asked to leave the country, sometime Aamir is being asked to leave. They are being asked to go to Pakistan. Why will we leave this country, this is our country, too,” Banerjee said.”Just like I have the right to speech, you too have this right. Just like I have the right to visit temple, you too have the right to visit mosque, someone goes to gurdwara, someone to church. Everybody has his own right,” she said.The TMC chief said she was shocked by the cancellation of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s event in Maharastra following threats from Shiv Sena.”An artist came to perform in Mumbai. He was stopped from performing. I was shocked. I urged him to come to Bengal and perform,” Banerjee said.

West Bengal: CPI(M) seeks Rajnath Singh’s intervention in case of trafficking & rape of a minor from state

The party claimed the girl suffered “unbelievable” violence and trauma and was dumped by one of her alleged traffickers in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital here and has been diagnosed with HIV.

CPI(M) on Thursday sought Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s urgent intervention to ensure action against some police personnel for “ignoring” a complaint about alleged trafficking and rape of a minor girl from West Bengal.In a memorandum submitted to Singh, the party requested him to ensure that the alleged victim gets free medical treatment and a rehabilitation package covering her lifelong expenses. According to the Left party, the girl, a native of Mograhat in South 24-Paraganas district, was abducted a year ago from Diamond Harbour when she was 17.The party claimed the girl suffered “unbelievable” violence and trauma and was dumped by one of her alleged traffickers in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital here and has been diagnosed with HIV. “The girl had rung up her mother six months ago and gave exact location of where she was in Delhi. The mother rushed to the police station in Mograhat and the police directly spoke to the girl.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”But unbelievably, the police did not act. If they had the girl might have been saved. I have demanded immediate action against the police personnel involved,” CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat told reporters, while being accompanied by the girl’s mother Lal Bano Bibi.Karat said the role of West Bengal authorities has been “absolutely shocking” as more than a year after the girl went missing, no case has been filed though the girl was a minor at the time of abduction. “When will central and state governments take action to save our women from criminal networks of traffickers and conniving police?” she asked.

Bengal will supply surplus power to other states soon, says Mamata after inaugurating third phase of Sagardighi Thermal Power Plant

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Ahead of Assembly polls, Dilip Ghosh appointed West Bengal BJP chief

Ghosh has been an old RSS hand and was a state BJP general secretary after joining the party some time back.

Ahead of West Bengal Assembly polls next year, BJP on Friday announced the appointment of Dilip Ghosh as its new state president, replacing Rahul Sinha, whose term had ended.Ghosh has been an old RSS hand and was a state BJP general secretary after joining the party some time back. Sinha, whose term ended in September, has been made a national secretary, a BJP statement said. His appointment puts an end to months of speculation as the party mulled whether to let Sinha continue till the polls or replace him as demanded by many West Bengal leaders, who had argued that BJP was steadily losing its support after putting up a strong show in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and needed a leadership change.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state is likely to go to polls in April next year. The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M)-led Left block, besides Congress and BJP, are the main parties in the fray. BJP had fetched close to 17 per cent votes, its highest, in Lok Sabha elections in the state and the party had then hoped to consolidate its gains to emerge as a major challenger to the TMC. However, its dismal showing in subsequent local elections have made things more difficult for it, political watchers believe.

PM Modi wishes President Mukherjee on his birthday

“I convey my heartfelt wishes to our beloved President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on his birthday. I pray for his long and healthy life,” Modi tweeted.

Pranab Mukherjee
File Photo
Reuters
Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Friday greeted President Pranab Mukherjee on his 80th birthday, saying he is an “invaluable asset” to the nation.”I convey my heartfelt wishes to our beloved President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on his birthday. I pray for his long and healthy life,” Modi tweeted.”President Mukherjee’s long years in public life make him an invaluable asset to our nation. His wisdom and intelligence have few parallels,” Modi wrote.In another tweet Modi said Mukherjee had always been a respected leader with friends and well-wishers across the political spectrum.Born on December 11, 1935 in Mirati West Bengal, Mukherjee has a political career spanning six decades.

Central forces will be deployed in all booths in West Bengal elections: EC

On the law and order situation in the state, Zaidi said, “We came here to assess the situation. We have already directed our election machinery to take note of, record and document any incident with political overtones.”

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi in Kolkata

The Election Commission on Thursday said it is their endeavour to hold the next year’s Assembly polls in West Bengal in free, fair and peaceful manner and deploy central forces and IT-enabled efficient and smart observers for smooth conduct of election process.”The Election Commission will perform its constitutional obligations and ensure that the Assembly elections in West Bengal are held in free, fair and peaceful manner,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told a press conference here after a series of meetings with officials and political parties.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There will be 100 per cent availability of central paramilitary forces in all the polling stations. They will be available well in advance and be used for area domination and confidence-building measures,” he said.”The Election Commission-appointed observers will be looking into the boothwise, areawise deployment of the central forces and the observers will be from outside the state,” he said.Asked how the EC will ensure free and fair polls as there are allegations from opposition parties of violence during the Lok Sabha poll, Zaidi said, “As Lok Sabha elections are held throughout the country, the availability of central forces was less. But this time central paramilitary forces will be deployed at every booth. The CPFs will be deployed and supervised directly by the ECI.”On the law and order situation in the state, Zaidi said, “We came here to assess the situation. We have already directed our election machinery to take note of, record and document any incident with political overtones.” Asked how the EC plans to hold a violence-free election as previous polls in Bengal were marred by violence, the CEC said, “As I mentioned, everytime the Election commission has raised the bar and this time also it will be our endeavour to make the election peaceful in the state”. Zaidi said “it has to be seen that no voter is denied the basic right to vote. This responsibility lies with district election officials, DMs and SPs”. He said the commission would continue to assess performance of district election officials and other officials who are likely to be attached with the EC. Depending on the assessment and requirement, the commission would take appropriate action at an appropriate time.”The commission will deploy IT-enabled efficient and smart observers,” he said, adding if required, the number of observers will be enhanced. Asked how many phases the election will have, Zaidi said,” It is too early to say”.Earlier in the day, opposition parties in the state had urged Zaidi to ensure a free and fair poll which should have five to seven phases. The full bench of the poll panel, led by the CEC, held a series of meetings with all political parties, senior government officials and district administrations.Zaidi said around 31 lakh applications for new voters were received, out of which 26 lakh were enrolled. He said three IT-related initiatives have been taken up.”One is “Subidha” which is a single-window system where permissions for holding rallies will be given in 24 hours.” “The second one is “Samadhan”, which is a grievance redressal system such as electoral roll and other problems. The third one is regarding the hiring of transport machinery. The portal will be called “Sugam” which will address issues related to transport operators from whom vehicles are requisitioned,” he said.Stating that the final electoral roll would be released on January 5, 2016, the CEC said “It is, however, subject to continuous updation.” “Similarly in case of wrong deletion there is a system of its redressal,” Zaidi said, adding that the entire matter would be handled effectively.Even as the state has a total of about 77,000 polling booths, the number could be enhanced if required, Zaidi said adding, “The poll panel gives lot of emphasis on providing with basic facilities for the voters and polling personnel in all polling booths.”The CEC also directed all officials in the state, who would be involved with the polling process, to be neutral, fair and impartial in discharging their election duties. Number of polling and expenditure observers could also be increased, if required, he said adding that special observers could also be sent to entirely oversee the law and order situation in the state.”We heard all stake-holders and now we are assessing the situation before initiating appropriate measures,” Zaidi said adding that we have assured the political parties of an effective machinery of the poll panel to ensure a free, fair, peaceful and transparent election in the state. The CEC further said that steps have also been taken to put the persons with criminal antecedents behind the bar well ahead of the polling schedule and take precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incidents during the polling process.

Discussed all issues with Centre, says Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought adequate Central funds for the state during her stay in Delhi.

Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she has discussed all the major issues concerning the state with the Central government during her visit to the national capital.”Tea, jute, flood, drought – we had talked about all issues,” Banerjee said at the NSCB International Airport on her return from Delhi. “We will say what we will have to say. This is our right.Bengal is a state of India. (But Bengal is being discriminated against,” she said. Banerjee called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought adequate Central funds for the state during her stay in Delhi. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Ganga rejuvenation: NGT bans plastic from Gomukh to Haridwar

The Tribunal passed a slew of directions to keep the river pollution free. It held that if any hotel, dharamshala or ashram releases their domestic waste and sewage into Ganga or its tributaries then “it shall be liable to pay environmental compensation for causing pollution of the river at the rate of Rs 5,000 per day”.

There will be a complete ban on use of plastic of any kind from Gomukh to Haridwar along Ganga with effect from February 1, the National Green Tribunal directed on Thursday while slapping a penalty of Rs 5,000 per day on erring hotels, dharamshalas and ashrams spewing waste into the river.The Tribunal passed a slew of directions to keep the river pollution free. It held that if any hotel, dharamshala or ashram releases their domestic waste and sewage into Ganga or its tributaries then “it shall be liable to pay environmental compensation for causing pollution of the river at the rate of Rs 5,000 per day”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The green panel divided the cleaning work of Ganga into different segments –Gomukh to Haridwar, Haridwar to Kanpur, Kanpur to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal. Besides the plastic ban, the Tribunal also prohibited throwing of any municipal waste, construction and demolition wastes into Ganga and its tributaries while announcing that violators will have to pay an environmental compensation at the rate of Rs 5,000 per incident.”There shall be complete prohibition on use of plastic i.e plastic carry bags/plastic plates, glasses, spoons, packages and allied items in all cities/towns falling on the river Ganga and its tributaries in Segment A Phase -1 (Gomukh to Haridwar). “Under no circumstances, plastic carry bags of any thickness whatsoever would be permitted. The procurement, storing and sale of such plastic bags, plates, glasses, spoons etc are hereby prohibited, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said adding,”these restrictions would become operative with effect from February 1, 2016.” The Tribunal, which did not pass any order with regard to nine hydro-power projects in Uttarakhand as the matter is pending in the Supreme Court, said that all the projects would build their own sewage treatment plants (STPs) and make them operational within three months.The green bench further held that all the seriously polluting industries which are operating without consent from Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board shall be closed with immediate effect.On the issue of mining on the river bed, the Tribunal said it shall be carried on in a highly regulated manner and under strict supervision. “No mechanised river bed mining would be permitted. No JCBs (mechanical excavator) would be permitted to operate on the river bed,” it said. The bench, also comprising Judicial member M S Nambiar and expert members D K Agrawal and B S Sajwan, directed Uttarakhand government (in coordination with Ministry of Textile) to provide bio-degradable materials including jute bags and such other items which can be permitted in the entire segment. “We direct the state government and public authorities to ensure that public facilities like toilets are provided on the appropriate places in colonies abutting river Ganga all along segment-A of phase 1. Toilets should be connected and linked to bio-digesters or STPs constructed for that purpose alone,” it said.The bench directed the state government to prepare an action plan to provide bio-toilets for pilgrims in Uttarakhand during the festive seasons. The Tribunal, in its 150-page judgement, also directed that at least 100 meters from middle of the river Ganga would be treated and dealt with as “eco-sensitive and prohibited zone”.”No activity whether permanent or temporary in nature will be permitted to be carried on in this zone including camping. The only exception would be points for picking up and dropping the guests who are doing rafting in river Ganga. “The area beyond 100 meters and less than 300 meters would be treated as regulatory zone in the hilly terrain. The area upto 200 meters shall be prohibited area in the plain terrain and more than 200 meters and less than 500 meters would be treated as regulatory zone,” the bench said.The green bench also held that there would be no throwing of any medical or bio-medical waste into the river on the river banks.”If any hospital is found throwing such waste anywhere on land, water bodies or other places, state pollution control board and municipal authorities would recover Rs 20,000 per violation,” it said.With regard to Rs 258 crores which was provided for Ganga cleaning project, the green panel noted that Rs 78 crore has been spent and directed Uttarakhand government and its various departments to divert remaining Rs 180 crore for carrying out its directions including setting up of STPs.The Tribunal further held that “no work in relation to sewer line network shall be carried out by Uttarakhand and/or any public authority/body except at Gangotri where the sewer line network has been completed and at Gopeshwar where 96 per cent work has already been completed and both are connected to the STP.”Wherever there is a town which is closer to the industrial clusters, it will be ensured that that the treated sewage water from the town is recycled for industrial purposes or other permissible purposes. However, on other places it should be used for agriculture and horticulture purposes. Every effort should be made not to discharge more than 25 per cent of the total release from the STPs into Ganga,” the bench said.It directed Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh governments to set up 15 STPs, 24 bio digesters in 6 months to reduce sewage discharge in Ganga.”There shall be a team constituted of senior officers from Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam, state pollution control board and representatives of the government from Department of Urban development. They shall submit quarterly reports to the Tribunal in regard to operation and management of STPs and bio-digestors,” it said.Observing that Ganga is not only sacred but lifeline of cities, the Tribunal also imposed massive fines ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore on industrial units along the river for discharging waste.With regard to work on stretch from Haridwar to Kanpur, the green panel has convened a meeting of officials including Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, secretary of water resources, MoEF secretary and others on December 22.

Full Election Commission bench arrives to review poll-preparedness in West Bengal

The three-member poll panel would hold a series of review meetings on Thursday with political parties, senior government officials and district administrations before initiating measures for the state’s assembly election due next year, the CEO’s office said here

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The full bench of Election Commission on Wednesday arrived in Kolkata to review the poll preparedness in West Bengal ahead of the upcoming assembly elections next year.”We are here to undertake review of some poll-preparedness,” Zaidi, who is leading the poll panel, told reporters at the NSC Bose International Airport on their arrival here from Delhi.State’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sunil Gupta received Zaidi, who was accompanied by the two Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat, at the airport. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three-member poll panel would hold a series of review meetings on Thursday with political parties, senior government officials and district administrations before initiating measures for the state’s assembly election due next year, the CEO’s office said here. The entire affair would be followed by a press conference on Thursday, the CEO’s office said.

Mamata Banerjee meets PM Modi seeking central funds for West Bengal

Around 130 people died in the heavy floods in July, which also destroyed crops and vegetables on 8,000 hecatres of agricultural land. Referring to West Bengal’s debt problem, she said “even after more than four years of our rule, we are still repaying the debt left behind by the previous Left Front government.”
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PTI
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here seeking adequate central funds for the state. Banerjee said she demanded central aid for relief and rehabilitation of lakhs of people affected by recent floods in West Bengal.”I had controlled the flood within 3 days after returning from London,” she said emerging from the nearly half-an-hour meeting with Modi.Around 130 people died in the heavy floods in July, which also destroyed crops and vegetables on 8,000 hecatres of agricultural land. Referring to West Bengal’s debt problem, she said “even after more than four years of our rule, we are still repaying the debt left behind by the previous Left Front government.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I hope they will give us justice. It was not a political meeting,” she said when asked about the meeting with the PM.The Chief Minister said a meeting of the full Niti Ayog should be called and all states invited so that disbursal of funds to states can be discussed. Earlier, the Planning Commission used to invite each state to discuss fund allocation but that is not happening now, so a full meeting the Ayog should be called, she said.On the ongoing debate on tolerance issue, she said “tolerance or intolerance I am a secular person.” Asked about her stand on disruption of parliament, she said “some issues come up in a democracy but we do not support disruption everyday.”

Flights resume in flood-hit Chennai

The airport in the southern Indian city of Chennai resumes flights a week after floods forced it to shut down operations.

Dear people of Chennai, NASA hasn’t predicted a hurricane or excess rainfall

File Photo

A WhatsApp message has been doing the rounds in Chennai which warns people about a ‘hurricane’ and ‘250cm rainfall in Chennai’. The message claims that the aforementioned information was a warning from NASA. The complete message reads:Guys CHENNAI IS ON HIGH ALERT NOW!!! NASA has warned INDIA tat CHENNAI will suffer ah very very high rainfall with a hurricane !!! NASA has given 2 dates 21,22 …on these 2 days unpredictable rainfall in the history of INDIA will lash tamilnadu …the rainfall will be about 250 cm in CHENNAI!!! So indian central gov has now deployed 3000 NDRF to tamilnadu and border security force and airforce and army on the toes….!! NASA’s prediction never miss….! Watch CNN IBN they r telecasting the live show….!!<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to The NewMinute , the MET department has predicted only light showers in Chennai on Wednesday and IBN hasn’t made any such telecast. Whatsapp groups often carry bizarre messages and an earlier one claimed that NASA had predicted an earthquake in India.The latest situation in Chennai Intermittent rains today and forecast of more over the next two days kept Chennai, its suburbs and coastal districts on their toes even as normal life appeared to be returning to the flood-ravaged areas. All flight operations, domestic and international, and train services from both Chennai Central and Egmore are to resume tomorrow as water levels in the Adyar and Cooum rivers receded enabling authorities to restore tracks this afternoon. Throughout Sunday, there have been intermittent rains, which were at times heavy, in Chennai, its suburbs, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Cuddalore districts where the weatherman has predicted more rains for the next 48 hours.Rain-battered Cuddalore is likely to get heavy to very heavy showers, Meteorological department said, adding that today’s showers were due to a twin weather system, including formation of a new trough of low pressure over Bay of Bengal along the Tamil Nadu coast. Chennai city, which has been experiencing intermittent rains, would continue to be cloudy and rain or thundershowers, at times heavy, are likely. Power supply has been restored in several areas, while it continued to be disconnected in many others where water has not receded as a measure of precaution.Ravaged by heavy rains last week which crippled services, several private and public sector banks operated today. A big chunk of private and public sector banks functioned to clear the backlog caused by the rains which had paralysed ATM services. As a precautionary measure, the state government has declared holidays for schools and colleges tomorrow in the districts, including Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur.All domestic and international flights from Chennai, both day and night, will resume from tomorrow morning after partial day-time services operated today.”….availability of Chennai airport for all weather day and night operations for all flights for which domestic and international terminals will be available from 6 am of 7.12.2015,” an Airport Authority of India statement said here late this evening. This followed an inspection by DGCA for night operations, an AAI spokesman said. The airport was shut down last Tuesday night after heavy downpour flooded the runway and all other operating areas. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathy Raju is likely to visit Chennai airport tomorrow to make an on-the-spot inspection.
With agency inputs

Bird lovers flock to UP for unique festival

The UP Forest Department is upbeat about the response the festival is getting. “The combination of the Taj at Agra and the opportunity to watch exotic migratory birds in the region seems to have clicked,” said a senior official.

UP is home to more than 500 bird species, including sarus cranes

The ravines of the Chambal and Yamuna, once known for notorious dacoit gangs, witnessed the opening of a unique event on Saturday when UP CM Akhilesh Yadav formally inaugurated the ‘UP Bird Festival’ at a village near Agra.Over 300 Indian and international birdwatchers are participating in the event, which is the first of its kind in the country. Tom Appleton, world renowned bird expert who evolved the concept of bird festivals, is also a part of a group of avid bird lovers from around the globe.The UP Forest Department is upbeat about the response the festival is getting. “The combination of the Taj at Agra and the opportunity to watch exotic migratory birds in the region seems to have clicked,” said a senior official.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dushyant Parashar, avid bird lover and wildlife photographer talked about his experience of bird watching. “I was truly charmed that the river is serving as the perfect home for more than 300 species of migratory and native birds.It was astonishing to see flocks of birds perching at nearby bushes and flying over the river. Chambal is truly worth visiting,” said Parashar.Talking about his experience Dr Asghar Nawab from WWF said, “Chambal is not only preserving birds but other important animal species such as dolphins, turtles and gharials as well.”Nikhil Devasar, Advisor, UP Forest Department, said, “It’s not about the birds alone. It is interesting to see people talking and brainstorming on conservation issues.”UP is home to over 500 bird species, 13 of which are globally marked as threatened. Migrating birds from Europe, Tibet, Siberia and China come here during the winter. Among them are the slender-billed vulture, Bengal florican, black bellied tern, sarus crane, Indian skimmer, and black necked stork.

Power supply restored in Chennai

Power has been restored in many parts of the southern Indian city of Chennai as relief operations continue after severe floods.

Chennai floods: City turns island, road, rail, air links disrupted

The death toll in the rains that have lashed the city and other parts of state has gone up to 197, officials said.

Chennai on Wednesday turned a virtual island and several coastal areas of Tamil Nadu were marooned by flood waters after unprecedented rains in 100 years pounded the city, its suburbs and neighbouring districts destroying crucial road and rail links, shutting the airport and rendering thousands homeless. Chennai, which received 49 cm of rain and Chembarambakkam, where the reservoir surplussed about 25,000 cusecs of water into Adyar river, received 47 cm of rains in the last 24 hours that flooded the city and the suburbs, uprooting people from their homes. Flood waters reached upto even the second floor of the Housing Board colonies on the banks of Adyar river as people reached roof tops looking for rescue and relief in several parts of the city and suburbs.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The death toll in the rains that have lashed the city and other parts of state has gone up to 197, officials said.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa last night and promised all assistance, held discussions with his cabinet colleagues Rajnath Singh (Home), Arun Jaitley (Finance) and M Venkaiah Naidu (Parliamentary Affairs) in the morning to take stock of the situation. The National Crisis Management Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha reviewed the situation and assured the state of all support from the centre.All modes of transport–air, road and rail services– remained suspended due to the unprecedented deluge, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at the airport and various rail terminals. Suburban rail services also remained suspended. Adding to the worry of the citizens and administration, the weatherman has forecast rainfall over the next three days with the next 48 being very critical under the influence of a trough of low pressure and upper air circulation over the southwest Bay of Bengal and Sri Lankan coast. Thereafter, the state will see an anti-cyclone activity which will be associated with “heavy rains” at some places.”The phenomenon will continue for the next seven days, but the next 48 hours are very crucial. Neighbouring states will also see rainfall activity,” L S Rathore, Director General of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) told reporters in Delhi.

Fresh rains worsen India Chennai floods

Fresh rains in the southern Indian city of Chennai causes serious flooding, with flights and trains suspended and hundreds of people without power.

Chennai rains: More train cancellations likely tomorrow

The met office has forecasted scattered to heavy rainfall on Tuesday in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu following a trough of low pressure in the Bay of Bengal, closer to Sri Lanka.

A fresh spell of rain battered many parts of Tamil Nadu and disrupted normal life, submerging pockets of Chennai under water. Schools and colleges in Chennai were once again shut as a result of the continuous rain.The met office has forecasted scattered to heavy rainfall on Tuesday in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu following a trough of low pressure in the Bay of Bengal, closer to Sri Lanka.Due to water overflowing at the railway tracks in Villupuram – Tambaram section, Southern Railways announced that the following trains are cancelled/diverted on Tuesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Anil Kumar Saxena, Addl DG (PR) said, “Two sections are badly affected, Chennai Egmore Villupuram section and Chennai Central Gudur are the two sections. Because of these two sections getting affected, train operations are badly impacted. More train cancellations likely to happen on December 2. We appeal to passengers to check their train status, we’re trying to inform people. Senior officers of Chennai division monitoring situation, keeping an eye on the situation. Trains cancelled on Dec 2Karaikkudi – Chennai Pallavan ExpressMadurai – Chennai Egmore Vaigai ExpressChennai Egmore– Pondicherry ExpressChennia– Tiruchirappalli Express

Chennai rains: Here are the important helpline numbers issued amid flood alert

According to reports, the flood alert has been issued to the people living on the banks of river Adyar in Chennai, as the area remains to be battered by the un-relenting rains affecting daily life.

In the wake of the flood alert that has been issued in parts of Tamil Nadu, the Chennai Corporation on Tuesday announced emergency contact numbers for all the regional zones in the city for the people to contact in case of any emergency due to the floods. With the MET predicting heavy rains over the already rain-hit Chennai and northern Tamil Nadu for the next three to four days, the state government issued a flood alert today. The Chennai Airport has also been temporarily closed amidst heavy rainfall in the city. The Army has been re-called and so have additional forces to carry out rescue operations in the flood-hit areas. NTL India, a conventional call taxi provider, has introduced 15 boats with trained rescue emergency team in several parts of the city.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to reports, the flood alert has been issued to the people living on the banks of river Adyar in Chennai, as the area remains to be battered by the un-relenting rains affecting daily life. The met office has forecasted scattered to heavy rainfall on Tuesday in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu following a trough of low pressure in the Bay of Bengal, closer to Sri Lanka. Twelve trains leaving Chennai Egmore were cancelled due to water overflowing on railway tracks between Villupuram – Tambaram section.Related read: Chennai rains- List of trains cancelled/divertedThe trains that have been cancelled are-12605 Chennai Egmore-Karaikkudi Pallavan Express, 16105 Chennai Egmore-Tiruchendur Chendur Express, 16713 Chennai Egmore -Rameswaram Express, 16115 Chennai Egmore-Puducherry Express, 12693Chennai Egmore-Tuticorin Pearl City Express, 12661 Chennai Egmore-Sengottai Pothigai Express, 16101Chennai Egmore-Rameswaram Express, 16179 Chennai Egmore-Mannargudi Mannai Express, 16177 Chennai Egmore-Tiruchchirappalli Rockfort Express, 11063 Chennai Egmore-Salem Express, 16175 Chennai Egmore-Karaikal Express and 16183 Chennai Egmore- Thanjavur Uzhavan Express.Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and assured full support from the government to the state. “Spoke to Jayalalithaa ji on the flood situation in parts of Tamil Nadu. Assured all possible support & cooperation in this unfortunate hour,” the Prime Minister tweeted.He had earlier instructed the immediate release of financial assistance of nearly Rs. 940 crore to deal with the flood situation in rain- battered Tamil Nadu, hours after Jayalalithaa wrote to him for funds to sustain relief work.Helpline numbers-Tree fall, Water logging – 1913Sewage overflow – 45674567, 22200335State Emergency – 1070District Emergency – 1077Electricity – 1912Fire & Rescue -1011st Regional Office (Tiruvottiyur) – 94451900012nd Regional Office (Manali) – 94451900023rd Regional Office (Madhavaram) – 94451900034th Regional Office (Tondiarpet) – 94451900045th Regional Office (Royapuram)- 94451900056th Regional Office (Thiru. Vi. Ka. Nagar) – 94451900067th Regional Office (Ambattur) – 94451900078th Regional Office (Annanagar) – 94451900089th Regional Office (Teynampet) ? 944519000910th Regional Office (Kodambakkam) – 944519001011th Regional Office (Valasaravakkam) – 944519001112th Regional Office (Alandur) – 944519001213th Regional Office (Adyar) – 944519001314th Regional Office (Perungudi) – 944519001415th Regional Office (Sholinganallur) ? 9445190015 (ANI)According to social media certain schools and colleges are opened to accomodate people stuck in the heavy rainsSRM Univeristy , MCC , MGR University, Sathyam Cinemas (Royapettah), AGS Villivakkam, Phoenix Mall and many other public…
Posted by Pradeep Kumar on Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Number of ‘communal’ incidents down since NDA in power: Kiren Rijiju

Amid heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches, he said while there has been some rise in incidents between 2014 and 2015, but compared to 2013, they have come down.

He also said he would not like to comment on the communal incidents which took place during the UPA rule.

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The number of communal incidents in the country have declined “substantially” since the NDA government has come to power, the government said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.Responding to a series of supplementaries on communal incidents in various parts of the country, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said between 2013 and October this year, the number of communal incidents reported have come down “substantially.” As opposition members questioned his remark, the minister said so far this year four major communal incidents have taken place. “In fact, the incidents have gone down and not come up since our party has come to power,” he said during Question Hour.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches, he said while there has been some rise in incidents between 2014 and 2015, but compared to 2013, they have come down. He said he was comparing the number of incidents since 2013 as NDA was not in power for the entire of 2014 but only part of it. He also said he would not like to comment on the communal incidents which took place during the UPA rule.In the written reply, government has explained that ‘major events’ are classified as those where over five persons have been killed or 10 injured or which lead to multiplicity of fatalities and extensive destruction of property.’Important events’ are classified where at least one person has been killed or at least 10 persons are injured.According to the written reply, in 2014, 644 ‘communal incidents’ took place, including 133 in UP, 72 in Rajasthan, 97 in Maharashtra, 56 in Madhya Pradesh, 73 in Karnataka, 10 in Jharkhand, 74 in Gujarat, 7 in Delhi, 61 in Bihar and 16 in West Bengal. This year, between January and October, 650 incidents have taken place with a maximum of 139 taking place in Uttar Pradesh.While 97 incidents were reported from Maharashtra, 86 from Madhya Pradesh, 79 from Karnataka, 24 from Jharkhand, 47 from Gujarat, 59 from Bihar and 24 from West Bengal. Rijiju rejected suggestions by Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge that there have been more communal clashes in states where BJP has “more presence” such as Gujarat, Karnataka and Bihar. “It is not a fair comment. What Kharge says does not tally with the figures. It is the responsibility of state government or MPs,” the minister asked.

Completely curb cattle-smuggling along Bangla border: Home Minister Rajnath Singh to BSF

The minister said many delegations from various parts of the country had met him in the past and congratulated him for bringing down the menace of illegal transport of cattle.

The BSF has been urged by the government to ensure a total clampdown in cattle-smuggling along the porous India-Bangladesh border even as a 70 per cent decline has been recorded in this illegal activity in the last several months. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while taking salute at the 50th ‘Raising Day’ celebrations of the Border Security Force here, complimented the troops for ensuring effective curb on this cross-border menace, and added that the respect for the troops of this historic force has grown in the entire country for accomplishing this task. “The steps you took to stop cattle smuggling along the India-Bangladesh border have brought a sharp decline in (the instances of) cattle-smuggling, and your respect has grown in entire India (due to this)…from April this year till now, these instances have come down by 70 per cent. I am assured that this force will be successful in curbing cattle-smuggling hundred per cent,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The minister said many delegations from various parts of the country had met him in the past and congratulated him for bringing down the menace of illegal transport of cattle, but, he said, “I want to convey these good wishes to you (Border Security Force personnel).” It was the same occasion last year here when the Home Minister had asked the personnel and officers of this largest border guarding force of the country to mount effective vigil and stop cattle-smuggling instances which have become rampant along this frontier. The minister early this year had addressed the troops of the force at a border camp in South Bengal frontier and not only complimented them for checking animal-smuggling but reiterated that these efforts need to be more effective.The BSF guards the 4,096-km-long Indo-Bangla border which is interspersed with riverine, dense forests and hilly terrains. He also lauded the force for giving a “befitting reply” against ceasefire violations along India’s border with Paksitan.

No inquiry on recent disclosure on Netaji: Government

It has recently surfaced from the disclosure of records from the West Bengal government archives that intelligence organisations were keeping a track of the family of Netaji post-independence.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

No inquiry is being contemplated by the government on recent disclosure of information about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday. It has recently surfaced from the disclosure of records from the West Bengal government archives that intelligence organisations were keeping a track of the family of Netaji post-independence. In response to a written question seeking to know whether the government is considering to conduct any inquiry in the backdrop of the recent disclosure of information regarding Netaji, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said, “No”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The minister said the government is examining all the files (related to Netaji) in its custody for the purpose of declassifying the same. After meeting family members of Netaji in October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the process of declassification of files will begin on January 23, 2016. “Process of declassification of files relating to Netaji will begin on 23rd January 2016, Subhas Babu’s birth anniversary,” Modi had tweeted after an hour-long interaction with the family members. He had said he will also urge foreign governments to declassify files on Netaji available with them by writing to them and personally taking up with foreign leaders during meetings, beginning with Russia.

Rain lash many parts of Tamil Nadu; schools remain shut in Chennai

Several low-lying areas and roads were inundated and office-goers had a tough time reaching their destination.

Image courtesy: Twitter

Sharp showers continued to lash many parts of the state, including Chennai, resulting in water-logging in many areas and forcing closure of schools in the city even as the weather office forecast more rains.Authorities declared a holiday for schools in Chennai, which witnessed heavy downpour in the morning, after spells of rain on Sunday.Several low-lying areas and roads were inundated and office-goers had a tough time reaching their destination.Traffic in some parts, including the busy Velachery area, moved at a slow pace following inundation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In many areas, motorists and pedestrians were seen carefully negotiating potholes on the roads, many of which had been damaged due to the monsoon fury.The weather office said a low-pressure area would form in the southeast Bay of Bengal during the next 24 hours commencing 0830 hrs, warning of more rain in different parts of the state.”Moderate to rather heavy rain would occur at many places over all the districts of Coastal Tamil Nadu and Puduchery,” it said.Rain also continued to lash many other parts of the state including Tiruchirappalli, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur and Tiruvarur.A report from Erode said vegetable wholesale traders and retail dealers were affected as they could not transport the produce from villages to town areas.Inspite of the rain, educational institutions remained open in Erode district and parents were seen escorting their children in water-logged areas.

West Bengal: School teacher held for raping student for 3 months

Police said the girl did not want to go to school for sometime, and after much persuasion by her family members, disclosed everything on Saturday.

A 50-year-old teacher of a private school was arrested on Sunday on the charge of raping a 12-year-old student at Bagdogra in Darjeeling district, police said.The teacher, Saroj Das, allegedly clicked some obscene photos of the girl some months ago and started black-mailing her with them. He has been raping the girl for the past three months, according to the police complaint lodged in this regard.Police said the girl did not want to go to school for sometime, and after much persuasion by her family members, disclosed everything on Saturday. Her family members lodged a complaint with Bagdogra police this morning and the teacher was arrested.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is not yet clear how the teacher managed to click obscene photos of the girl. The girl will be sent for medical tests at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on Monday, police said.

PM Modi calls on SAARC nations to join hands for disaster preparedness

“After the earthquakes in Nepal, I called Prime Minister Sharif and suggested him that all SAARC nations must hold joint exercises for disaster preparedness,” Modi said.

Modi calls SAARC nations to join hands for disaster preparedness

PTI
Stressing on the need of preparedness to deal with disasters in the South Asian region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he had proposed to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif that all SAARC nations must hold joint exercises for disaster preparedness.”After the earthquakes in Nepal, I called Prime Minister Sharif and suggested him that all SAARC nations must hold joint exercises for disaster preparedness. I am glad that Delhi saw a table talk exercise and a seminar workshop of best practices by all SAARC countries. This is a good beginning,” he said. Prime Minister Modi also expressed his concern over the floods in Tamil Nadu.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: PM Modi speaks about climate change, wants to turn ‘Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat’ into scheme “Low pressure over southeast Bay of Bengal brought rains to Tamil Nadu that claimed 184 lives. However, rains continue to lash many parts of the state, including Chennai and its suburbs. Kelambakkam (Kancheepuram) and Kodavasal (Tiruvarur) received the maximum of 4 cm and 3 cm of rain, respectively,” he said.”The state has already received a rainfall of 483.6 mm, which is higher than the total rainfall it receives during the entire northeast monsoon season, which was 440.4 mm which went up to December,” he added.Prime Minister Modi said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has announced a relief of Rs. 4 lakhs each to the families of the victims. The Prime Minister had on November 23 instructed immediate release of financial assistance of Rs 939.63 crores to deal with the flood situation in Tamil Nadu.

The flood story from Kashmir to Chennai: Why don’t we ever learn a lesson?

Large parts of the city under water, ceiling-high grime in the lower floors of thousands upon thousands of houses, tens of thousands sick in hospitals, losses amounting to tens of thousands of crores …it’s a dismal list. This was the story of Chennai a week ago. It was the same story in Srinagar 3,000 kilometres to the north just 15 months ago.

The rest of the story too is common to both places: failure to de-silt water bodies, colonies built on former marshes and wetlands, reclaimed lakes, vast rural-to-urban migrations… yes, regarding causes too, the story is long, and it is depressing.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

For, if there were lessons to be learnt, they would have been learnt from the Kashmir floods last year. But no lessons were learnt. That devastation was put down simply to flooding of the river Jhelum – floods which the state government kept telling us were unexpected. Of course, the cyclonic storms off the Chennai coast in the Bay of Bengal can be called unexpected even more easily.

It is of course tough to predict when exactly a flood will come. But an array of factors can make obvious how badly a flood will affect populations if and when it does come – factors that are not only predictable but manmade. But if causes were to be acknowledged, the state government, city officials, and the Centre, would have to take some responsibility for dereliction of duty – and no one is willing to do that.

In both places, one in the Himalayas and the other on the Deccan coast, the marshes, wetlands, lakes and other waterways that served as natural catchments for excess water had been taken over by concrete jungles – extensions of each of those rapidly expanding city.

In each place, politicians had ignored the likely consequences of this unregulated expansion. Their responses were shaped by populism, and even more so by the nefarious influence which property investors exercise on politicians and officials – not to speak of the property investments of the corrupt in both categories.

A historical review of Google maps of both areas makes clear the extent to which both have been ravaged by haphazard urban expansion, and the extent to which construction has obstructed the natural flow-paths to and in catchment areas.

Natural gradients allow excess water to flow freely from higher planes to low-lying catchment areas such as marshlands, swamps, rivers, lakes, wet lands and other minor and major water bodies. But official are callous about the likely effects of disturbing the natural equilibrium. So much so that the Srinagar Development Authority has built a huge office building and `habitat centre’ on what was wetland, cheek-by-jowl by Kashmir’s main flood overflow channel.

It has benignly allowed colonies to come up in nearby areas that used to be lakes and marshes. Of course, these were the first parts of the city that were severely flooded when the waters rose last year – for silt had simultaneously been allowed to make the river, the remaining lakes, and the flood channel – all the catchment – much shallower than before.

The situation is no better around Chennai. Real estate sharks have encroached on the city’s biggest fresh water lake, and built high rise apartments. Not far, an educational institution has put up signboards claiming that it owns the lake, and has reclaimed a part of it.

Some of the biggest commercial complexes and business centers have been built on the lake, canal, or part of the river bed. Chennai’s builders learnt no lessons after the collapse of a 13-storey residential building, which was being built on a wetland.

Not just Srinagar and Chennai, cities across the country have woefully inadequate drainage, sewerage and other proper facilities. This applies even to towns such as Gurgaon that have some of the highest priced real estate globally.

Waves of migrants have come to both Srinagar and Chennai over the past couple of decades, pushed there by government policies and the lure of opportunities. Most of them look to buy a small plot or apartment as cheaply as they can, oblivious to the dangers of flooding. Government officials and politicians, often influenced by property developers and hoping for migrant votes, fail to regulate construction.

The state governments in both Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir failed to de-silt the rivers and other water bodies that remain. If they had, those channels might have been deep enough to carry more flood water without overflowing. Both have increased the city limits without proper plans in place.

Dismissive attitudes to the environmental dangers are not just callous. It is unconstitutional. Article48 of the Directive Principles mandates the State Authority to protect the environment. Article 51 makes it the responsibility of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife.

Before getting excited about `smart cities,’ as some residents of both Chennai and Srinagar have recently been, the entire country needs to wake up to the dangers of greed-based and shortsighted `development.’

India will use all might to protect its sovereignty: President Pranab Mukherjee

He lauded the air force by calling it the “cutting edge” of India’s military might and praised its men and women as he said the armed forces.

He lauded the air force by calling it the “cutting edge” of India’s military might.
Arijit Sen
File Photo
President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said India is firmly committed to peace but is always prepared to deploy its military might to safeguard its sovereignty as he decorated two gallant IAF fighter aircraft squadrons at a strategic border airbase here. Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, presented the President’s Standards to the 22nd and 18th Squadrons of the Indian Air Force operating the strike and combat superior MiG-27 aircraft to secure Indian skies along the eastern theatre during peace times and war.The Squadrons are based here in Alipurduar district of West Bengal, strategically located right across the India-Bhutan border with the task to keep a vigil over the entire north east border skies of India. “India’s increasing eminence in the comity of nations draws its strength from the capabilities of our armed forces. Though we remain firmly committed to peace, we will use all our might to protect the sovereignty of the nation. I am confident that our valiant men and women in uniform will rise to the occasion,” the President said after he accorded the honours to the two strike formations of the IAF.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He lauded the air force by calling it the “cutting edge” of India’s military might and praised its men and women as he said the armed forces, “exemplified by the air warriors who stand before us, reflect our steely resolve to defend our interests.”The President’s Standards are given to armed forces’ units which render exceptional and dedicated service over a period of time. Both the units which got the honours today have been doing so since 50 years now.

Very heavy rains may lash Tamil Nadu over next 2 days: Regional Meteorological Centre

Due to the low pressure over southwest Bay of Bengal rains could be expected at some places in Tamil Nadu and Puduchery, the weather office said.

People being rescued from Chennai floods earlier this week

PTI
The low pressure over Bay of Bengal will bring rains to Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Sunday, the Regional Meteorological Center said on Saturday, warning of ‘heavy to very heavy rains’ for the two days.Due to the low pressure over southwest Bay of Bengal rains could be expected at some places in Tamil Nadu and Puduchery, the weather office said. There was a possibility of rains in most places in the state and the neighbouring union territory for the next two days with the likelihood of heavy to very heavy rains in some places, it said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Vedaranyam (Nagapattinam) and Adiramapatinam (Tanjavur) received 3 cm and 2 cm of rainfall, respectively. Meanwhile, the inter-ministerial Central team which is touring the state to assess the damage caused by rains and flood will submit its report to the Centre within a week, TVSN Prasad, Joint Secretary in the Union Home Ministry, who is leading the team, said.Related Read: Tamil Nadu rains: A break down of the flood situation in numbers

City of Light comes to City of Joy: 55-metre replica of Eiffel Tower to be built in Kolkata

Kolkata: A 55-metre replica of the Eiffel Tower in being planned at the Eco Park in the smart city New Town.

The replica of the tower would come up in the Eco Park and is expected to be a major tourist attraction, West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (HIDCO) chairman Debashis Sen told PTI.

The project planned in the satellite city would take about three years to complete after its work order is issued and nearly 300 tonne of steel would be required to build it, HIDCO officials said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is laying the foundation stone of the project today in presence of the Consul General of France in Kolkata.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Officials said that it would also be an expression of solidarity towards world peace and pay tribute to the 129 victims of the November 13 terror attack in the French capital.

“With its completion, tourists can have a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower without going to Paris,” Sen said, adding, “The spot has been identified to showcase Bengal’s outstanding artworks drawing attention of the tourists from the country and abroad.”

He said the tower would be a giant steel structure with a height of an 18-storey building.

“We could have tried and constructed an exact replica if the location had not been close to the glide path of the flights landing and taking off from NSC Bose International Airport,” Sen said.

“The Tower will have two tiers where people can go up and stand to catch a glimpse of the town below,” the HIDCO chairman said.

“The viewing gallery will be at a height of 25 m and two lits will be there to carry the passengers. The base of the structure would rest on 650 sq ft,” Sen said.

The project was conceived by the HIDCO recently and the West Bengal government immediately gave its clearance.

“We will float a tender soon to select the agency that will build the structure,” the HIDCO chairman said.

“This will be the first such prototype of the Eiffel Tower in India and its architectural designs are worked out by the Institute for Steel Development and Growth,” Sen said.

One of the wonders of the modern world, the 324-m Eiffel Tower is the most popular tourist attraction in Paris.

The City of Joy has already got a replica of the famous London tower ‘Big Ben’ developed by South Dum Dum Municipality as a permanent structure.

The 90 ft tall tower stands at the busy junction of Lake Town-VIP Road crossing since October last.

PTI

With ‘due’ respect: Maharashtra has highest debt, Tamil Nadu sees most increase

By Prachi Salve/Indiaspend.org

India’s most industrialised state, Maharashtra, has the largest debt of Rs 338,730 crore ($51 billion) among India’s states, but the southern state of Tamil Nadu—an industrial growth centre—has seen the maximum increase in debt (92%) over the past five years, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of state budgets.

There are two ways of looking at this indebtedness: it could either be funding a humming state economy or could be indicative of a profligate government living beyond its means.

Debt is often used by governments to meet the gap between income and expenditure. The government borrows either to meet plan expenditure- for example, building roads and dams, or non-plan expenditure, such as paying salaries or making interest payments.

While plan expenditure is more productive and leads to further revenue, debt created for non-plan expenditure is unproductive.

Representational image. Image courtesy: AFPRepresentational image. Image courtesy: AFP

Representational image. Image courtesy: AFP

The debt for all major states has increased 66% over the past five years from Rs 16,48,650 crore ($358 billion) in 2010 to Rs 27,33,630 crore ($414 billion) in 2015.

Maharashtra with the highest outstanding liabilities is followed by Uttar Pradesh with Rs 2,93,620 crore ($44 billion) and West Bengal with Rs 2,80,440 crore ($42 billion).

Tamil Nadu has borrowed money at the quickest annual pace, 92%, followed by Karnataka with 85% and Andhra Pradesh with 78%.

Debt not bad if economic growth follows

Debt, per se, is not bad, if the state’s economic growth can sustain and service it. So, the key matrix to check is the debt as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) or total economic output.

West Bengal, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have the highest debt-to-GDP ratios.

The good news over the past five years is that the debt-to-GDP ratio for all the states has come down from 25.5% to 21.2%.

In West Bengal, despite the increase in outstanding liabilities, the debt-to-GDP ratio has declined, which means the state’s GDP is growing at a fast clip.

That, however, cannot be said for Andhra Pradesh. The state has seen a 78% increase in outstanding liabilities, but its debt-to-GDP ratio is constant at 25%. The debt-to-GDP ratio was lowest in 2012 at 22.5%.

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Maharashtra has the highest outstanding liabilities but does not feature among the top 10 states with a high debt-to-GDP ratio. The debt-to-GSDP ratio for Maharashtra at 20.2% is lower than the national average of 21.2%.

Similarly, although Tamil Nadu is fast adding debt, its debt-to-GDP ratio at 20% is lower than the national average. This shows that the state’s GDP is growing despite the high growth in debt.

With debt comes interest

Once you borrow, you have to pay back with interest. Most states service debt from tax income. And a good measure of debt servicing is a lower ratio as a percentage of revenue expenditure.

Most states have seen a decline in interest payments, except Tamil Nadu which has seen an increase from 10.5% in 2012-13 to 11.6% in 2014-15.

IndiaSpend had earlier reported how states such as West Bengal, Punjab and Gujarat have been consistently spending huge amounts on interest payments.

The trend remains unchanged in 2014-2015 with the three states retaining the top spots. However, the encouraging sign is that there has been a reduction in interest payments as a percentage of revenue expenditure for all three states.

(Indiaspend.org is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit)

Mamata Banerjee invites Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal for Bengal Business Summit

The invite by Banerjee comes just days after she attended the swearing-in ceremony of Nitish Kumar in Patna, which was attended by Kejriwal as well.

Three leaders at Nitish Kumar’s oath taking ceremony

PTI
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has invited her Bihar and Delhi counterparts Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal to the Bengal Global Business Summit here on January 7 next year.”Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal have been invited to Bengal Global Business Summit not because they are leaders of political parties, but as chief executives (chief ministers) of their states,” Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Derek O’Brien told PTI. The invite by Banerjee comes just days after she attended the swearing-in ceremony of Nitish Kumar in Patna, which was attended by Kejriwal as well.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The TMC leadership had termed Banerjee’s attending the ceremony as a “mark of protest against authoritarian attitude of the Centre” and effort to “strengthen the federal structure” in the country. Kumar, also a top JD(U) leader and Banerjee had spoken over phone after the Bihar assembly elections results were announced. Kumar had thanked Banerjee for supporting the grand alliance in Bihar in its fight against BJP.Banerjee had also congratulated Kumar over Twitter and termed the victory of the Grand Alliance as “the defeat of intolerance”. JD(U) leadership had also extended its support to Banerjee in her fight against BJP and had said that along with AAP and TMC it would fight to strengthen cooperative federalism in the country.

Saradha scam: Madan Mitra surrenders in court

The Calcutta High Court had earlier on Thursday rejected Mitra’s bail petition.

Madan Mitra

PTI
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and former West Bengal minister Madan Mitra, who is an accused in the Saradha Chit-fund scam, surrendered before the Alipore Sessions Court on Thursday.”Saw on TV that the court ordered me to surrender, I am following that order. I am a law abiding citizen,”he told reporters outside the court premises. The Calcutta High Court had earlier on Thursday rejected Mitra’s bail petition.Mitra, who had on Wednesday resigned from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Cabinet, was asked to immediately surrender before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate. The High Court had on November 5 ordered Mitra to be kept under house arrest till November 17. The TMC leader had got a bail in this case by an Alipur court on October 31.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The High Court had also questioned the bail granted to Mitra by a lower court as the same had been refused to the TMC leader earlier in August. The CBI had arrested Mitra in connection with the scam in December last year.

Saradha scam: Calcutta HC rejects Madan Mitra’s bail plea

The High Court had on November 5 ordered Mitra to be kept under house arrest till November 17.

Madan Mitra

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday rejected the bail petition of former West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra, who is an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam.Mitra, who had on Wednesday resigned from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet, has been asked to immediately surrender before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate.The High Court had on November 5 ordered Mitra to be kept under house arrest till November 17. The TMC leader had got a bail in this case by an Alipur court on October 31.The High Court had also questioned the bail granted to Mitra by a lower court as the same had been refused to the TMC leader earlierin August. The CBI had arrested Mitra in connection with the scam in December last year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Mamata Banerjee finally accepts Saradha scam-tainted Madan Mitra’s resignation

His resignation was long pending for close to a year, with the Chief Minister refusing to accept it.

File Photo

Hours before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the Saradha scam appears before the Calcutta High Court to pray for cancellation of bail of West Bengal cabinet minister Madan Mitra, his resignation was accepted by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday evening. Mitra, one of the prime accused in the multi-crore-rupee Saradha scam had submitted his resignation on December 12 last year, minutes before he was arrested by the CBI. His resignation was pending for close to a year, with the Chief Minister refusing to accept it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a late night development, Banerjee accepted his resignation and sent it to the Governor of West Bengal, Keshari Nath Tripathi. Madan’s bail has been turned down once by the Calcutta High Court and thrice by the trial court on the grounds of being influential and holding a position in the government as a cabinet minister. He was granted bail on October 31 by a sessions court here after which the CBI prayed for his bail cancellation at the Calcutta High Court.This resignation comes in the wake of the High Court’s hearing just a few hours away. While hearing the case on Wednesday, Justice Nishita Mhatre had commented that, “He is so influential that even his resignation is not being accepted.” Later, the court was adjourned and the same case will be heard on Thursday morning where counsels appearing for Mitra will pray for bail on the grounds that he has resigned from the post of the cabinet minister and does not remain an influential personality in the state government.

Bihar defeat impact will be only temporary: Bengal BJP

“It is obvious that the Bihar poll verdict will have a temporary impact in Bengal. If we had won, it would have a temporary impact too. Politics in Bihar and Bengal are different cups of tea. In Bihar it is caste based politics, but in Bengal it is development politics versus TMC’s reign of terror,” BJP state president Rahul Sinha said.

After the catastrophic defeat of the BJP in the Bihar Assembly poll might have resulted in the cancellation of party president Amit Shah’s much-touted rally, but the party’s state leadership asserted that the drubbing would only have a ‘temporary’ impact.The leadership is confident that it will not be long before the party workers will have their morale restored.”It is obvious that the Bihar poll verdict will have a temporary impact in Bengal. If we had won, it would have a temporary impact too. Politics in Bihar and Bengal are different cups of tea. In Bihar it is caste based politics, but in Bengal it is development politics versus TMC’s reign of terror,” BJP state president Rahul Sinha said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shah’s rally, scheduled to be held in Kolkata on November 30, was officially called off on Thursday and in its stead the party would organize a protest-march on that day to be attended by Siddarth Nath Singh and Kailash Vijayverge.BJP national secretary Singh too agreed that win or loss in a neighboring state might have a temporary impact. “We have been winning Bihar since 2005, but did that have an impact in Bengal? So how will it now make a difference?” Singh told PTI.However, Rahul Sinha had sung a different tune on October 28 when he claimed that the BJP would concentrate on West Bengal after the Bihar election.The BJP leadership had even claimed that after the party emerged victorious in Bihar Assembly elections, it would sound the death knell for the ruling Trinamool Congress in Bengal.A senior state BJP leader, considered to be close to RSS, told PTI on the condition of anonymity that the party in Bengal was in a “complete disarray”.”There are several factors at play right now. The central leadership right now don’t want to jump the gun in Bengal,” the leader said.The BJP leader also felt that there was a growing dissent in the rank and file over outsiders, who had joined the party in Bengal after 2014, being given important positions at the expense of old-timers. The leader conceded that if the Bihar results went in favour of the BJP, it would be easier for the state leadership to prepare for the 2016 Assembly poll.The BJP, which was once considered a backbencher in state politics, had signaled its arrival in a big way by securing 18 per cent of votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, which was dubbed as a “good show” by political pundits.Just a year after, however, the narrative changed as the party was beset with lack of leadership, bitter infighting and alleged understanding with the Trinamool Congress, all of which took a toll on the morale of ordinary workers.The CPI-M feels that the Bihar defeat will bring the BJP closer to the TMC on a quid-pro basis.”The BJP after losing Bihar needs to find an ally in national politics, especially in the Rajya Sabha to pass bills. And the TMC needs the BJP to help it evade the CBI in the Saradha Scam,” CPI-M politburo member Mohammed Salim said.TMC MP Sultan Ahmed said the BJP would never be able to make its presence felt in Bengal.”The BJP had high hopes of winning Bengal after Bihar. But the crushing defeat in Bihar will put a leash on their hopes.Bengal is a pilgrimage of secularism and a communal force like the BJP will never find a footing here,” he said.

Rains bring Chennai to grinding halt

At least 70 people have been killed as incessant rains continue to batter the southern Indian city of Chennai.

Diwali 2015: Best messages to send your brother on Bhai Dooj

Here are few messages that you can send your brother on this occasion to extend your good wishes to him.

Representational image

Source: festivalsofindia.com
Bhai Dooj which marks the end of the five-day-long celebrations of Diwali will be celebrated on Friday. This festival is known by several other names such as Bhai Beej or Bhau Beej in Maharashtra and Gujarat, Bhai Dooj in Northern part of India, Bhai Tika in Nepal and Bhai Pota in West Bengal.On this day, brothers and sisters perform a traditional ritual wherein sisters perform aarti for their brother and offer sincere prayers for him. In return, brothers pledge to protect their sister and also give them gifts.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also Read: Diwali 2015: Why do we celebrate Bhai Dooj?Here are few messages that you can send your brother on this occasion to extend your good wishes to him:1. On this auspicious occasion of Bhai Dooj, I wish you lots of happiness, success and good health.2. To the outside world we all grow old, but we know each other as we always were.We know each other’s heart. We live outside the touch of time.Happy Bhai Dooj3. You know that you are the most precious stone,In the collection of my secret treasure,Wishing you very Happy Bhai DoojAnd best of luck for everything.4. It means so much to have you around,As with your presence everything seems just so easy,God may bless you brother.Happy Bhai Dooj!5. May this Bhai Dooj strengthen our bond more than ever and bring joy and prosperity. Best wishes for Bhai Dooj.6. I absolutely treasure the wonderful relationship we share.It’s so precious, unique and rare.And when an occasion like Bhai Dooj comes along I wish for you every happiness and pray that it lingers longHappy Bhai Dooj!

Diwali 2015: All you need to know about the different days of the festival

The festive season in India has reached its peak with Diwali as the nation gears up to celebrate the return of Rama to Ayodhya with his wife Sita after defeating Ravana. The festival is celebrated in different ways across the country. Among the Sikhs, this is the time of the year when Guru Hargobind escaped Mughal custody, and the day is known as Bandi Chor Divas while Bengal celebrates Kali Puja. Meanwhile, the Jains celebrate Tirthankara. Here are the days with their corresponding 2015 dates:Vasu Baras or Govatsa Dwadashi (November 7, 2015)The first of Diwali in many parts of the country is celebrated a day before Dhanteras. On this day cows and calves are worshipped and wheat products are given to them after worship. Worshippers abstain from milk products and wheat during the day. The day is called Vasu Baras in Maharashtra and Nandini Vrat in South India. Nandini is the name of the divine cow in Hinduism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dhanteras (November 8, 2015)In places, where Vasu Baras isn’t celebrated, Dhanteras marks the first big day of the festival. It’s believed that this is the day that Goddess Lakshmi came out of the Milky Sea along with Lord Kuber, the God of Wealth. Dhanteras Puja is also known as Dhantrayodashi. The day of Dhanteras is also observed as Dhanwantari Triodasi or Dhanvantri Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the God of Ayurveda. Yamadeep is another ritual on the same Trayodashi Tithi when the lamp for the God of death is lit outside home to ward off any untimely death of any family members.Choti Diwali/Narak Chaturdashi/ Kali Puja (November 10, 2015)Choti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdashi or Kali Puja is celebrated on this day, a day before Diwali. While many worship Goddess Lakshmi on the main day of Diwali, people in West Bengal, Orissa and Assam worship the goddess Kali on the new moon day.Diwali or Lakshmi Puja (November 11, 2015)The main day of Diwali sees people open their doors and windows to invite Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and the prayers also include Ganesha (Remover of Obstacles), Saraswati (Goddess of Wisdom) and Kubera (God of Wealth).Padva or Balipiratipada (November 12, 2015)The day celebrates the bond between, husband and wife, and is believed to signify the day Vishnu chose Lakshmi to be her partner. Padva celebrates this and married couples exchange presents, while some consider this day to be the beginning of the New Year. Bhai Dooj (November 13, 2015)The last day of the festival is called Bhai Dooj, Bhai Phota (in Bengal) or Bhai Deej (Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa) and celebrates the brother-sister bond. Legend has it that after defeating Narkasur, Krishna visited his sister Subhadra who affectionately applied tilak on his forehead.

All you need to know about Narak Chaturdashi, the second day of Diwali

The muhurt for the ​Abhyang Snan this year is 5:22 am to 6:46 am.

Wikimedia Commons
Narak Chaturdashi, which falls on the second day of Diwali after Dhanteras, is celebrated as an important day in all Maharashtrian families. Narak Chaturdashi is celebrated for the victory of Lord Krishna against Narakasur and hence the name. According to Hindu mythology, Narakasur, the son of Mother Earth, becomes an evil asur who ruled several kingdoms brought under his rule by force. Narakasur comes to rule Heaven and Earth. Lord Indra pleads with Lord Vishnu who promises to deal with the matter in his incarnation as Krishna. In his incarnation as Krishna, he attacks Narakasur while riding his mount Garuda with his wife Satyabhama and beheads him with the Sudarshan Chakra.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In another version, it is said that Narkasur is granted a boon by Lord Brahma that he will only die at the hands of a woman. So in the battle, it is Lord Krishna’s wife Satyabhama who beheads him with Krishna as her saarthi. So the rituals for this day include breaking a bitter fruit. The bitter fruit symbolises the defeat of Narakasur. Like Dussehra, the defeat of Narakasur reminds us that good always win over the evil. In West Bengal, this day is known as Kali Chaudas. The day marks the defeat of Narakasur at the hands of Goddess Kali.In Maharashtra, families celebrate this day by getting up early in the morning and having an abhyanga snan with ‘ubtan’. This ubtan is a mixture of chandan, ambe haldi, multani mitti, khus, Rose, besan etc. People worship the Lord by visiting temple early in the morning and bursting crackers. The muhurt for the ​Abhyang Snan this year is 5:22 am to 6:46 am.In southern India, people wake up early and take a holy bath. Then they make a paste of kumkum and oil and apply it on their foreheads. Some communities in Tamil Nadu do Lakshmi Puja on this day.In West Bengal, one will find the idols of Goddess installed in various pandals across the state.In Goa, the day is celebrated like Dusshera. The only difference is that here effigies of Narakasur are made and destroyed instead of Ravana.Now that we know the real reasons behind our celebrations, it’s more fun to celebrate it!

Vijayvargiya, yet again: BJP leader uses dog analogy to hit out at Shatrughan Sinha

Metaphors involving dogs appear to be really catching on of late. The latest one comes from BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, who reportedly hit out at Shatrughan Sinha using the canine analogy.

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnliveFile photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

“When a car is being driven and a dog is in the car, the dog believes he is driving the car,” ANI quoted Vijayvargiya as saying. He was commenting on actor-turned-BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha’s comments after the verdict in the Bihar polls. Sinha had said that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was the most successful chief minister in the country after West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu.

Sinha, however, said that he had not worked against the BJP in any way, adding, “But if the BJP wants to take action against me, I cannot stop the party.”

Not long ago, Vijayvargiya had triggered a controversy when he tweeted that Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s soul was in Pakistan. This was when the actor had spoken about the rise of intolerance in India.

Vijayvargiya, not exactly known for restraint in his public utterances, has made controversial statements on several occasions in the past as well. In July, reacting to reports of multiple deaths allegedly linked to the Vyapam scam, he had said that the controversy was of a chutput (small) nature for the party.

In anticipation for his denial, we clarify that Vijayvargiya has absolutely not compared Shatrughan Sinha to a dog. That, clearly, is the wrong conclusion to draw from the statement.

The last time, after his tweets on Shah Rukh Khan, he had done a complete turn-around after pressure from his party.

He had said, “My intention was not to hurt anyone. I take back my yesterday’s tweet,” he said on microblogging site Twitter this morning, even as his party distanced itself from his earlier remarks critical of the actor saying it was “not the view of the BJP”.

In another tweet, the BJP general secretary had said that had there been intolerance in India “after Amitabh, Shah Rukh would not have been the most popular actor. Some people have drawn different meaning from my tweet.”

Heavy rains lash Puducherry, but no threat of cyclone in Tamil Nadu

“We expect the landfall to be between Puducherry and Cuddalore.We’ve ensured enough stock of food grains and medicine too. Eight task forces are monitoring on the ground,” said Puducherry Collector D Manikandan.

A fisherman on a Chennai beach on Sunday

PTI
Normal life was hit in Puducherry with incessant rains pounding the Union Territory since Sunday, reports PTI.Official sources said to PTI that Puducherry and its suburbs recorded 13.3 cm rainfall in the 24 hours ending 8:30 am on Monday. Low lying areas were inundated.As Tamil Nadu is set to receive heavy rain throughout the day, schools and colleges will be shut in Puducherry, Chennai and adjoining districts Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur as well, reports NDTV. However, there is no longer a threat of cyclone.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The cyclonic depression is moving across the Bay of Bengal. It is expected to cross between Puducherry and Karaikal this noon.Thus, rainfall is expected in most parts of Tamil Nadu with heavy to very heavy rainfall over north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the next 24 hours.”We expect the landfall to be between Puducherry and Cuddalore. We’ve ensured enough stock of food grains and medicine too. Eight task forces are monitoring on the ground,” said Puducherry Collector D Manikandan to NDTV.There will also be heavy showers in coastal Andhra Pradesh, south interior Karnataka and Kerala over the next 48 hours, reports NDTV.Fishermen in Tamil Nadu have been advised by the government not to venture out to sea in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Depression over Bay of Bengal, likely to intensify into cyclonic storm and hit Tamil Nadu

The depression lay centred 450 kms east southeast of Chennai and is expected to turn into a cyclonic storm and cross the Tamil Nadu coast between Karaikal and Chennai by Monday night, a Met department official said.
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dna Research & Archives
A surge in the current wet spell in southern states is expected with a depression forming over Bay of Bengal which is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm, the weather office said on Sunday.The depression lay centred 450 kms east southeast of Chennai and is expected to turn into a cyclonic storm and cross the Tamil Nadu coast between Karaikal and Chennai by Monday night, a Met department official said.Under its influence, rainfall is expected in most parts of Tamil Nadu with heavy to very heavy rainfall over north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the next 24-48 hours, the official said. Isolated heavy rainfall is also expected in south coastal Andhra Pradesh, south interior Karnataka and Kerala during the next 24-48 hours.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fishermen in Tamil Nadu have been advised not to venture out to sea in the next 24 to 48 hours “as the sea will be rough to very rough,” the official said.The northeast monsoon, which has brought the wet spell, had set in over the southern region on October 29.

Saradha scam: WB minister Madan Mitra put under house arrest by Calcutta High Court

Mitra was granted bail by the Alipore Sessions Court on October 31.

PTI
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday put West Bengal cabinet minister Madan Mitra on house arrest till November 17.A division bench comprising Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Mir Dara Sheko were hearing a petition for cancellation of bail for Mitra filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, currently probing the multi-crore rupee Saradha scam.”The fact that the sessions judge was in a haste to grant bail, this case will be heard by a regular bench on November 17, till then he will remain under house arrest,” said Bagchi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bagchi further added that he will have to go back to his residence after being released from the hospital. He will only come out of the residence for any medical emergencies or interrogation.Mitra was granted bail by the Alipore Sessions Court on October 31. The court directed both the parties – CBI and Mitra’s counsel to appear on November 17 before a regular bench.

Who’s afraid of Asaduddin Owaisi?

As Bihar got closer to election in 57 seats of the crucial fifth phase in the Seemanchal and Kosi belts, which have a high concentration of Muslims, political parties started shifting the focus of their campaign dialect from caste to creed.

On the road from Sheohar to Muzaffarpur, almost every hundred metres vehicles passed through Moharram processions of people with ash-smeared faces holding bamboo poles in their hands and chanting. Each time an elderly man in the group would nudge the mourners to move aside and stand between the vehicle and procession to allow the vehicle to pass.”You see there is no problem between communities…. It is politicians who vitiate the atmosphere,” said Alam, a taxi driver.As Bihar got closer to election in 57 seats of the crucial fifth phase in the Seemanchal and Kosi belts, which have a high concentration of Muslims, political parties started shifting the focus of their campaign dialect from caste to creed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the centre of the rhetoric of polarisation is All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi, whose fiery oratory revolves around Muslim identity politics. Interestingly, the performance of the BJP, which is raising its pitch on diametrically opposite side of the ideological aisle, is linked to the extent to which Owaisi, besides Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party, dent the votes of the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Yadav mahagathbandhan.Owaisi’s party is contesting in six seats and Yadav has put up candidates in 64 seats.It is on Kochadaman, where former MLA from the seat and state party chief Akhtarul Iman has been fielded, that the AIMIM is pinning its hopes to open its account in Bihar. But, the Hindus are worried that the oratory of the firebrand candidate and Owaisi’s brother Akbaruddin Owaisi, against whom an FIR was filed for inflammatory speech, could draw the Muslims to the AIMIM candidate.”We will vote for Nitish’s candidate. There is fear that if the votes get split, Owaisi’s candidate may win,” said Mohan Singh, a Rajput from Kochadaman. The Muslim vote was expected to get split between Iman and JD-U candidate Master Mujahid Alam, the sitting MLA. Going by Singh’s argument, the Hindu vote was consolidating in favour of JD-U in a tactical bid against Owaisi’s candidate. The BJP has also fielded a Muslim candidate, Abdul Rehman, who was banking on the Hindu vote in Kochadaman in Kishanganj district which has around 70 per cent Muslim population.In Kishanganj Sadar, Owaisi’s candidate appeared to have only a few takers.Besides, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha candidate, Triloki Jain, who has traction among the locals, has added a fourth dimension to the contest. But, most people said a larger chunk of the Muslim vote will go to the Congress candidate Mohammad Jawaid.”Owaisi’s candidate Taseeruddin is an outsider… You cannot just come, see and conquer,” said Abdul Rashid, a fruit seller, in the Muslim- dominated Churri Patti area.Yasir, a youth running a printing press, said the Congress MLA “disappeared” after winning elections. “Owaisi is connecting with the youth. He is talking of Muslim empowerment is liking the issues Owaisi is raising,” he said.In Ghardappa Chowk village, falling on the Bihar-West Bengal border, MD Tariq Anwar, who runs a medicine shop, said it looked like Congress had an edge. “But, I will go for Owaisi’s public meetingtonight.”Half the village falls in Bihar and the rest in West Bengal. While there is no power in the Bihar side, there is electricity on the West Bengal side.In Purnea district’s Baisi, which has a 85 per cent Muslim population, Owaisi as well as Pappu Yadav have put up candidates. While both are seen as outsiders, the RJD candidate and MLA Haji Subhan appeared to have an edge over RLSP’s Azizur Rahman.Besides Kishanganj and Purnea, the Seemanchal region comprises Araria, and Katihar. The Kosi belt includes Darbhanga, Madhubani, Saharsa, Supaul and Madhepura.In the direct battle of the Titans — NDA and Mahagathbandhan — both Owaisi and Pappu Yadav may find it difficult to make an impact.Once the elections are over, the rabble rousing may quieten down, but whichever alliance it helps, will the emotions it may have stirred in vulnerable minds fade out?

TMC leader Derek O’Brien terms Kailash Vijayvargiya’s attack on Shah Rukh Khan as ‘sickening’

Vijayvargiya, a former state minister of Madhya Pradesh, said Shah Rukh’s “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India, a day after the actor said there is “extreme intolerance” in the country.
File Photo
PTI
Reacting sharply to senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya’s comments on Shah Rukh Khan, TMC national spokesperson Derek O’Brien termed it as “sickening”.”Sickening remarks against Shah Rukh Khan by BJP general secretary also Bengal in-charge. What kind of attitude is this? Everyone else is bad and only you are good?” Derek said in a statement.Vijayvargiya, a former state minister of Madhya Pradesh, said Shah Rukh’s “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India, a day after the actor said there is “extreme intolerance” in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Shah Rukh lives in India, but his soul is in Pakistan. His films make crores here but he thinks India to be intolerant,” Vijayvargiya said in a series of tweets amid mounting concerns over the “climate of intolerance” in the country.Related read- ‘Traitor’ Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘soul in Pakistan’: BJP’s Vijayvargiya and Hindutva figure Sadhvi Prachi hit out”If this is not anti-nationalist, then what is it. India is making a bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations and all the anti-Indian forces including Pakistan are creating a conspiracy,” he said.Turning 50 yesterday, Shah Rukh came out strongly against what he called “extreme intolerance” in the country, saying intolerance towards creativity and religion would hurt the country.

CBI seeks cancellation of Madan Mitra’s bail before Calcutta HC

CBI today took leave of Calcutta High Court to move a prayer for cancellation of bail of West Bengal minister Madan Mitra, an accused in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.

CBI today took leave of Calcutta High Court to move a prayer for cancellation of bail of West Bengal minister Madan Mitra, an accused in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.Mitra was granted bail by a city court on Saturday and went home the day after.A division bench comprising justices Harish Tandon and I C Das granted leave to CBI to serve copy of its petition to Mitra’s counsel and move the matter before the court later in the day.Mitra, who was arrested by CBI in December last, was granted bail by ACJM (in-charge) of Alipore District and Sessions Court Partha Pratim Das.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mitra had been in state-run SSKM Hospital since February 11 on the ground of illness and went home from there after being declared fit by a Medical Board of the hospital, only a day after being granted bail.

Saradha Scam: Madan Mitra finally gets bail

Madan Mitra

West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra was granted bail in connection with the multi-crore-rupee Saradha scam by the Alipore court on Saturday. The court was hearing a bail petition moved by his lawyers at the court and the judge granted him conditional bail on a personal bond of Rs.2 lakhs. Madan Mitra was arrested by the CBI on December 12, 2014 on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation of funds. He was also charged with deriving undue financial benefits from the Saradha Group. His arrest came in the wake of him holding a post in the Saradha Group of Companies. TMC has steadfastly defended Madan Mitra and he even continued to be a Minister even though he was languishing in prison for so long. Madan Mitra has been suffering from several ailments and hence he was admitted in hospital for a prolonged period. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Remembering Sardar Patel and Indira Gandhi – two leaders who strengthened the nation

When the small princely states acceded to India, Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad tried to remain independent. Sardar Patel had an effective operation which forced Hyderabad’s integration, but he could not accomplish the same result in Jammu and Kashmir as the Government of India chose to complain to the United Nations.

Sardar Patel and Indira Gandhi

India today remembers two of its leaders, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Mrs Indira Gandhi, who strengthened the unity and integrity of the country While Sardar Vallabhai Patel was the main force in the integration of Princely States of India , Indira Gandhi will be remembered for her endeavour to strengthen the nation, and frustrate the attempt of zealous neighbours and international forces to weaken India.When the small princely states acceded to India, Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad tried to remain independent. Sardar Patel had an effective operation which forced Hyderabad’s integration, but he could not accomplish the same result in Jammu and Kashmir as the Government of India chose to complain to the United Nations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 1971, Indira Gandhi led the country to give shelter to millions of refugees who fled to India to save themselves from the onslaught of the Pakistan Army, which was determined not to implement the result of elections in that country. According to the results of the elections in Pakistan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman should have been the Prime Minister of Pakistan, as the Awami League which he headed won the majority of seats in the national Parliament. but the military rulers headed by General Yahya Khan, clamped down on East Pakistan. The military clampdown on East Pakistan on March 25, led to refugees in their thousands crossing the border into West Bengal, Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura in the following months . Their numbers swelled to nearly ten million. Initial diplomatic efforts to stop the Pakistan Army committing atrocities in the eastern wing failed to achieve any success. Pakistan felt encouraged because of the sympathetic attitude of President Nixon of the United States. India then prepared itself for a possible conflict with Pakistan under the leadership of Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi visited various world capitals to make them aware of the ground realities in East Pakistan. India also entered into an agreement with the then Soviet Union , which assured support in times of conflict. The Indian Army was then headed by General S. H. F. J. Manekshaw, the Navy by Admiral S.M. Nanda and the Air Force by Air Marshal P.C. Lal. Single-mindedly, the armed forces prepared for a possible conflict with Pakistan. I had the opportunity of following the events as the Public Relations Officer of the Army in New Delhi. When Pakistan attacked Indian airfields in December 3, the war formally broke out. Indian troops crossed the border in the East and the West. The effort in the west was to ensure that the Pakistan Army did not attack or occupy strategically important areas in Jammu and Kashmir. (Read: Indira Gandhi’s death: Why we should never forget 1984 anti-Sikh riots)The Indian Army crossed the border in East Pakistan on all three fronts, across the West Bengal , from Assam in the North and from Tripura in the East . The Navy and the Air Force established complete control over the Bay of Bengal and the airfields in East Pakistan. The war concluded in 12 days, and the 93,000 strong Pakistan Army surrendered to the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini. Indira Gandhi led the nation during the crisis. She concluded the agreement with Pakistan in Shimla in 1972, and agreed to return the prisoners of war, following an assurance from Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that he would ensure that the Line of Control in Jammu nd Kashmir would be turned into an International Border. Pakistan has never forgotten the defeat in 1971. It started a proxy war in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. She also fought off Pakistan’s efforts to weaken India by promoting a proxy war in Punjab in the early 1980s, and that cost her life in October 1984.it is fitting that the nation remembers Indira Gandhi and Sardar Patel for strengthening the unity of India today. Mr. I Ramamohan Rao is a former Principal Information Officer of the Government of India. He can be reached on [email protected]

Saradha Scam: CBI interrogates Sudipta Sen’s counsel in jail

In May 2014, the Supreme Court had directed the CBI to probe the operations of chit fund firms, including the Saradha group.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
The Special Branch of the CBI on Monday interrogated Naresh Bhalotia, legal advisor of Sudipta Sen and Saradha group, at the Dum Dum central jail.Bhalotia was arrested by the central investigating agency on December 12 last year along with West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and diversion of funds. CBI sources told PTI that a team went to the jail to interrogate Bhalotia on his role and his client Sen’s involvement in the Saradha Ponzi scam.Bhalotia is also alleged to have assisted Sen in writing a letter to the CBI regarding the involvement of persons who had financially benefited from the Saradha group owner.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In May 2014, the Supreme Court had directed the CBI to probe the operations of chit fund firms, including the Saradha group. The apex court also wanted the agency to look into the “larger conspiracy” angle.

Bengalis of Berhampur organising Durga Puja for 82 years now

Away from their homeland, the Bengali settlers in this Silk City of Odisha have kept alive their tradition of organising community Durga pujas.

Away from their homeland, the Bengali settlers in this Silk City of Odisha have kept alive their tradition of organising community Durga pujas.They have been celebrating Durga Puja for the last 82 years. The first Durga Puja was started by some Bengali employees in the then Bengal-Nagpur Railway at the railway station area of Berhampur in 1933, claimed an elderly Bengali resident Surojit Sarkar.”As we had started the Durga Puja in the town for the first time, we had named it as the Adi (first) Durga Puja,” Sarkar said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to Sushant Ghosh, president, Adi Durga Puja Committee, the Bengalis established a permanent pandal at Chatterjee lane, near Old Bus Stand to celebrate the Durga Puja.”We are celebrating the Durga Puja and other rituals since 1998 in the pandal,” Ashok Kumar Jana, a member of the puja committee, said.Besides the Bengali families, people of other communities too gathered here during the puja period,” added Sibani Roy, general secretary of the committee.She said that Durga Puja was an occasion for the get-together of Bengali families residing in the town. Around 350 Bengali families are in the town.”Even though we are celebrating Durga Puja for last 82 years, we are not alienated from Bengali culture. The priests, cooks and the artists to make the idol have brought from West Bengal. Our aim is to keep alive the Bengali tradition while celebrating the Durga Puja,” added Jana.During the festive period, children from the community are performing cultural programmes. Baul Sangeet and the songs dedicated to Maa are performed by the children, while the dhaki, the musical instrument was played by the experts from Midnapore, he added.

NIA arrests kingpin of fake currency notes in Dhanbad

The probe agency had claimed that the fake currency is pushed into India from Bangladesh in order to fund the activities of outfits like the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Indian Mujahideen (IM).

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The National Investigation Agency arrested a 35-year-old man alleged to be a major kingpin in the Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) network, a group that has been responsible for funding terror activities in India according to the probe agency. The accused, identified as Uttam Kumar Sinha, has cases registered against him in states including Mumbai, Gujarat and Jharkhand, and has been arrested on several occasions previously. He was arrested on Sunday in Dhanbad and the NIA said that a total of five mobile phones and 13 sim cards were recovered from him.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A resident of village Saluipahari in district Bankura of West Bengal, Sinha is said to be instrumental in allegedly dispatching fake currency to the tune of more than Rs 4 crore to different parts of the county in the last few years. The agency said that Sinha’s name had cropped up several times during interrogation of other arrested members of the network accused of smuggling fake currency. The currency has also been referred to as ‘money jihad’.Sinha was also wanted in a FICN smuggling case being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation and had been absconding since July 2012. “The modus operandi involves dispatching fake currency by couriers in the guise of labourers and masons to different parts of the country and in turn the payment is received through cash deposits from different states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and other parts of the country, into the bank accounts maintained by him,” said an NIA official.The probe agency had claimed that the fake currency is pushed into India from Bangladesh in order to fund the activities of outfits like the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and the Indian Mujahideen (IM). Sinha’s arrest has further pointed out towards the strong bases maintained by the fake currency network in Bangladesh as the accused is said to have been maintaining contacts there for almost a decade.Sinha, according to the agency, has disclosed that he used to procure high quality FICN through his contacts in Bangladesh and then distribute the same through his gang members in different parts of the country. He had been arrested in the past in Gujarat as well as Jharkhand in cases relating to FICN smuggling but he managed to obtain bail and activated the smuggling network again. In 2008, Mumbai Railway police had also arrested one Nishpal Mandal suspected to have circulated fake currency valued at over Rs 1.5 crore. Mandal was arrested in West Bengal. Police had claimed that Mandal was in touch with Masood Shiekh, his point man in Bangladesh, and had been bringing in fake currency to India through Indo-Bangladesh border. Sinha was among the four people who acted as his agents. They were also arrested the same year. The accused were booked under IPC sections for fraud, forgery, conspiracy and distribution of counterfeit currency.Following an 2012 amendment in Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the circulation of such high quality FICN printed abroad and smuggled into the country is considered to be done with the sole intention to threaten, deplete, erode and undermine the economic security and sovereignty of India. This according to the amendment is tantamount to a terrorist act.NIA along with Jharkhand ATS is now conducting raids in different parts of the state to identify and arrest other co-accused. The probe agency had taken over the investigation of a case relating to recovery of FICN of face value of Rs 10 lakhs which was seized at Murshidabad (West Bengal) by officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

President underlines need to preserve India’s core values and tolerance

The President said the strength of 5000 year old Indian civilization was its tolerance. “It has always accepted dissent and differences. A large number of languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions coexist in India. We have a Constitution that accommodates all these differences,” he said.

President Pranab Mukherjee at the felicitation function of Nayaprajanma and Suri Sabujer Abhijan at Suri, Birbhum, West Bengal

PTI
In the wake of a spate of incidents starting from lynching of a 50-year-old man in Dadri in the outskirts of national capital on suspicion of storing beef, followed by two more such incidents in Himachal Pradesh and J&K, coupled with Shiv Sena protests in Mumbai, President Pranabh Mukherjee on Monday once again sought to underline need to preserve India’s core values of diversity, tolerance, and plurality of Indian civilisation. Third time over past fortnight, Mukherjee expressed apprehension about whether tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While addressing a gathering in Birbhum district of West Bengal during a function organised by a local weekly, in a subtle message to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, the President said humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance. “Assimilation through receiving is a characteristic of Indian society. Our collective strength must to be harnessed to resist evil powers in society,” he said.The President said the strength of 5000 year old Indian civilization was its tolerance. “It has always accepted dissent and differences. A large number of languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions coexist in India. We have a Constitution that accommodates all these differences,” he said.Earlier, a week ago, President had stressed the need to keep up core values of civilization. “Many ancient civilizations have fallen. But that is right that aggression after aggression, long foreign rule, the Indian civilization has survived because of its core civilizational values and we must keep that in mind. And if we keep those core values in mind, nothing can prevent our democracy from moving ahead,” he underscored.

Theme pujas dominate this year’s Durga Puja festival

The theme of women’s empowerment was implemented with 12 types of terracotta work and intricate handicraft by women SHGs from interior districts

Tallest Durga idol at Durga puja pandal at Deshapriya park looks almost deserted after Police closed the gate for the visitors to avoid huge gathering and stampede like situation in Kolkata

PTI
This year’s Durga Puja pandals are stressing on themes that explore subjects ranging from India’s rich heritage to more contemporary women’s empowerment, aided by digital 3D mapping technology.At Bosepukur-Talbagan Sarbojonin in south Kolkata, the achievement of women like long-distance swimmer Arati Saha is being projected.”We will be making a 3D projection about the exploits of women achievers like swimmer Arati Saha on the white screen of a pandal decked up with terracotta work,” Subhendu Ghosh, the spokesman for Bosepukur Talbagan, told PTI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ghosh said that the idol was made like ‘ekchala’ Durga, in which Durga and her four children are mounted on a single frame, but the base looked like a Kantha stitch textured saree with hands of women engraved on the wall surrounding the sculpture signifying ‘stree-shakti;.The theme of women’s empowerment was implemented with 12 types of terracotta work and intricate handicraft by women SHGs from interior districts, he said. A little distance away at Singhi Park a grand temple has come up belonging to the Shakti cult where Ma Durga is worshipped in her Kali avatar.”We have sought to give a new twist to Stree Shakti by transplanting the Shila Devi s temple from Rajasthan with the ‘Shila’ kept in the main pandal along with the conventional Durga idol,” Bhaskar Nandi, Joint Secretary of Singhi Park Durga Puja Committee,” said.Nandi said that the temple’s exteriors had been imaginatively recaptured. “We have recreated the 16th-century edifice built by Maharaja Man Singh of Amber Fort.” In nearby Suhrid Sangha, the desert pyramid and the Sphinx have come up amidst houses on the congested Basanta Roy Road.”We have sought to give a message on women’s empowerment by making our “parar meye” Rituparna Sengupta as the brand ambassador as women truly embody the spirit of Durgashakti,” cultural secretary of Suhrid Sangha Sushanto Biswas said.The idol has a mix of Egyptian and Bengali touch.In another award-winning puja nearby, Bhowanipur 75 Palli, the organisers have settled for the theme “Juta Abishkar’ (discovery of shoe) by Tagore.”Themed on Kaviguru’s comedy Juta Abishkar, our pandal is made of Bengal’s dying artform ‘Tisumkari’ which is all about creating live size objects with tissue paper,” Biswas said.Life size nagras had been created by these artists brought from the locality of Balagarh in Hooghly district who executed the theme based on the Tagorean work, Biswas said.”Like past years, when we had sought to highlight the dying art of Bengal, this year we have sought to bring to focus the near extinct community and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appreciated our initiative during her visit,” he said.In Dumdum Mall Pally Sarbojonin, an award-winning puja in the northern hub – slate, sahaj path, Barnoporichoyo cover, ludo games, ‘gulti’ (indigenous dirt game of Bengal) have been imaginatively used to recreate the interior and exterior of a pandal.”Our theme is Saisahbe Phera’ (revisiting the childhood),” Santanu Sengupta said on behalf of the organisers.In 75-year-old Park Circus Sarbojonin, the organisers have given stress on saving the green and the theme music is composed by eminent Bengali lyricist-musician Joy Sarkar.Further down south at Sonarpur Sahebpara, the Power House Sarbojanin Durga Puja has chosen to portray the art and culture of Rajasthan through the pandal and the idol of Devi Durga.Live performances of folk music and dance, characteristic of the state, will help create the ambience every evening at the Puja premises during the festive days, Joint Secretary Upasana Bhattacharya said.At Elachi, Narendrapur on the outskirts of Kolkata, Milan Sangha Sarbajanin Durgotsav has portrayed the recent devastating Nepal earthquake through intricate bamboo, cloth and thermocol work.Named “Prakriti vs Sabhyata” (nature vs civilisation), the pandal is drawing huge footfall.At Green Park Sarbojonin, also in Narendrapur, the ancient form of Durga, as existed 5,000 years ago in Nepal, was recreated. The theme has been named “Dasa Mahavidya”, the club’s general secretary, Biswajit Das, told PTI.

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