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Another round of district bifurcation in Bengal likely next year



Mamta Banerjee

Speculation is rife that West Bengal is heading for a fresh round of district bifurcation by 2023.

Reportedly a brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the preparatory planning for this proposed fresh district bifurcation has already started and the plan is currently restricted among a selected members of the cabinet and the top bureaucrats of the state. Although none of the top cabinet members and bureaucrats were willing to make any official comment on this matter, highly placed sources said if the fresh bifurcation is done the total number of districts in West Bengal will increase to 27 from the existing 23.

The planned three new districts will be forked out of the two big districts of North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas. To recall, the two existing districts of North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas were formed by bifurcating the erstwhile undivided 24 Parganas district on March 1, 1980.

A state government official, aware of the planning on the formation of the three new districts, told IANS on condition of anonymity, that the proposed three districts would be Sunderbans, Basirhat and Alipur.

Of the three, the formation of Sunderbans district will be the most complicated process and it will have to be formed by forking out pockets from both North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas district. According to him, the proposed Sunderbans district might be forked out mainly out of Gosaba, Basanti and Kultali areas in South 24 Parganas district as well as Hingalganj and Sandeshkhali blocks in the current North 24 Parganas district.

The state government official also said that the formation process of the planned Basirhat and Alipur districts will be comparatively simple. Alipur might be formed with the pockets forked out of the Kolkata adjacent pockets in South 24 Parganas districts as well as the Assembly constituencies under Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency, where from the MP is the Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary and the chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

On the other hand, the state government official said the proposed Basirhat district would be formed from pockets forked out of the existing Basirhat and Bangaon sub-divisions in North 24 Parganas district.

Since 1980, West Bengal has witnessed district bifurcations for seven times, out of which three developments were during the previous Left Front regime and four developments took place during the current Trinamool Congress regime.

The first event of district bifurcation in the state was on March 1, 1980 when the previous Left Front government was in force with late nonagenarian Indian Marxist, Jyoti Basu as the state chief minister.

The second phase of district bifurcation was on April 1, 1992, when the erstwhile West Dinajpur district was bifurcated into the existing North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts. At that point of time the Jyoti Basu-led Left Front government was in power in the state.

The third phase of bifurcation was on January 1, 2002, when the undivided Midnapore district was divided into the existing two districts of East Midnapore and West Midnapore. Mamata Banerjee’s predecessor, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was the chief minister of West Bengal then.

On June 25, 2014, when the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress regime came to power, the new Alipurduar district was formed by bifurcating Jalpaiguri district.

Again, on February 14, 2017, the hill district of Kalimpong was formed by bifurcating the Darjeeling district.

On April 4, 2017, the formation of the new Jhargram district was formed by bifurcating the West Midnapore district.

Finally, on April 7, 2017, two districts of West Burdwan and East Burdwan were created by bifurcating the erstwhile undivided Burdwan district.

Commenting on the practical justification of the bifurcation of districts, senior political analyst and former registrar of Calcutta University, Raja Gopal Dhar Chakraborty told IANS that formation of smaller districts through bifurcation of bigger districts is always a welcome move.

“First this will provide a relief to the common people from travelling long distances to reach government offices. Secondly, formation of new districts means creation of new government offices which enhances the scope of fresh employment. However, at the same time, I would also like to say that like the formation of new and smaller districts I also do not find any harm in creation of new and smaller states through bifurcation of bigger states. There might be some sentimental issues involved with the bifurcation of states but creation of smaller states enhances administrative advantage,” Dhar Chakraborty said.

National News

People steal beer bottles after truck overturns in Andhra




People stole beer bottles after a truck carrying alcohol cases overturned in Andhra Pradesh’s Anakapalli district.

The incident occurred on the national highway between Anakapalli and Bayyavaram on Monday evening.

As the entire load of 200 cases of beer bottles fell on the ground, locals in the area scurried to steal them instead of helping the truck driver and cleaner, who escaped the accident with minor injuries.

A footage of the incident has gone viral on social media.

Similar incidents of people stealing liquor bottles after road accidents involving alcohol-carrying trucks have been reported in the state in the past.

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Khagaria-Bhagalpur bridge collapse will affect water biodiversity in region




Collapse of Khagaria-Bhagalpur bridge over the Ganga river will have a long-lasting effect on the water biodiversity of the region, as per environmental experts.

Ashok Ghosh, the professor of Mahavir Cancer Institute and former chairman of Bihar state pollution control board told: “Such a big chunk of concrete structure falling into the Ganga will have a big environmental effect for a long time. It will deeply hurt the water biodiversity of the river in this region. The water-borne animals will be adversely affected by it.”

“Unlike silt, the concrete structures used in the making bridges are non biodegradable materials. Hence, there is no question of the concrete structures dissolving in water. The iron rods may turn into rust after coming in contact with water but it is a slow process which takes years. Also, the ongoing projects of cleaning the river will also suffer a big jolt due to the bridge collapse,” Ghosh said.

The concrete structures of such a massive amount change the flow of the river as well. It makes the river more shallow in the region which leads to flooding. Khagaria in particular is affected by floods in the monsoon sessions. The fresh structural disaster would create more trouble for people living in the region,” Ghosh said.

Bihar is located in the low lying area of Himalayan range. As a result, a large number of rivers like Kosi, Kamla Balan, Gandak, Parman, originate from Himalaya and its water cross various North Bihar districts to finally fall in Ganga river.

The biggest challenge of the state government is the silt carried by these rivers and its accumulation in the low-lying areas of North Bihar and in the Ganga river. It makes the rivers more shallow by disturbing the natural drains. It turned worse after the drainage system of various districts were developed in an unplanned manner. The water comes from the Himalayan range but does not return or exit to other sides due the ill drainage system.

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National News

President Murmu Is 1st Indian To Be Conferred With Suriname’s Highest Civilian Award




President Droupadi Murmu has been conferred with Suriname’s highest civilian award by President Chandrikapersad Santokhi to honour the deep-rooted bilateral ties. Murmu arrived in Suriname on Sunday on a three-day state visit – her first since assuming office in July last year.

“An honour reflective of the deep-rooted India-Suriname ties! President Droupadi Murmu @rashtrapatibhvn conferred with the ‘Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star’, the highest civilian award of Suriname by President @CSantokhi,” the Ministry of External Affairs tweeted.

Presidemt Murmu’s statement

President Murmu said she was greatly honoured to receive Suriname’s highest distinction.

“This recognition holds tremendous significance, not only for me but also for the 1.4 billion people of India whom I represent,” she tweeted after receiving the award on Monday.

She dedicated the honour to the successive generations of the Indian-Surinamese community, who have played a stellar role in enriching the fraternal ties between our two countries.

PM Modi congratulates President Murmu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the President on receiving the award.

“Congratulations to Rashtrapati Ji on being conferred the highest civilian award of Suriname – Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star. This special gesture from the Government and the people of Suriname symbolises the enduring friendship between our countries,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.

Despite her many official engagements, President Murmu spent some time with a group of children who came to greet her in Paramaribo. She offered them India-made chocolates.

President also visited ‘Marinetrap’ where she witnessed the simulation and welcoming of the arrival of the First Indians in Suriname. She also inaugurated the simulated village at Independence Square.

Murmu’s visit to Surinam coincides with 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname

On Monday, President Murmu met her Surinamese counterpart Chandrikapersad Santokhi and later led delegation-level talks between the two sides. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that she was happy to be in Suriname on her first State Visit as President of India when it is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname.

She said that deep historical and cultural ties provide the foundation for the India-Suriname multifaceted and modern partnership.

Bilateral trade between India and Suriname

The President noted that bilateral trade between the two countries is well below potential. She said that there is a need to work together to expand bilateral trade for mutual benefit. She expressed confidence that the agreements signed during the visit would help boost the trade and economic ties. She said that there is scope for further collaboration in sectors like pharmaceuticals, Ayurveda, agriculture and defence, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a press release.

The President said that India is committed to enhancing technical cooperation and contributing to the capacity-building and skill development of Suriname’s human resources as per the country’s requirements. The two countries also signed three MoUs to enhance bilateral cooperation.

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