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Major fire in Kolkata’s busy Park Street area

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Kolkata, June 11 (IANS) A major fire broke out at the busy Park Street area in central Kolkata on Tuesday.

Although no casualty has been reported so far, hours after the fire was first noticed, the officials and staff of the fire services department and disaster management departments were struggling to bring the fire entirely under control.

The fire was first noted at around 10.45 a.m. in a pub-cum-restaurant located at a multi-storey building at the busy Park Street crossing. Five fire tenders immediately rushed to the spot and started operations to extinguish the fire.

However, as the intensity of the blazes increased more fire tenders were sent to the spot. At the time the report was filed, a total of 15 fire tenders were trying to bring the fire fully under control.

The state Fire Services Minister, Sujit Bose rushed to the spot and was seen supervising the entire fire-fighting process.

“Fortunately, no casualty has been reported so far. Those who were there at the building then have been safely evacuated. Our prime target is to bring the fire totally under control. In the later stage, we will investigate the reason behind the fire. We will also investigate whether the fire safety norms have been violated in any way or not,” Bose said.

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Traffic movement has been restricted in the area for the time being, which led to traffic congestion on the adjacent roads.

Fire services department insiders said that in all probability the source of the fire was any of the cooking gas cylinders stocked in the cooking room of the pub-cum-restaurant. “At a later stage after the fire is extinguished completely and the cooling process is completed, the officers from the forensic department will examine the spot to ascertain the reason and source behind the fire,” said a department official.

–IANS

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Haryana to soon start recruitment of 'Van Mitras'

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Chandigarh, June 16 (IANS) Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini on Sunday announced that recruitment of ‘Van Mitras’, who will be given an honorarium to take care of newly planted tree saplings, under the ‘Van Mitra’ Scheme will begin soon.

Presiding over a review meeting of the Forest and Wildlife Department, he also warned that if there is a delay in extinguishing the fire in forests, “accountability will be fixed from forest guards to senior officers”.

He directed the officers to ensure arrangements for supplying water from canals or tube-wells to national parks like Kalesar, Sultanpur and other dense forests so that this water can be used by wildlife during extreme heat and to aid in extinguishing fires.

The CM directed the officers to regularly map existing plants and those planted annually under the plantation campaign using drones.

He reviewed in detail the annual plantation drive conducted by the Forest Department and directed that these plants be geo-tagged and their growth should be monitored for five years with the help of drones.

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The Chief Minister was informed that a budget of Rs 150 crore has been allocated for the plantation drive for 2024-25, while Rs 10 crore will be spent on herbal parks.

He also said illegal cutting of trees from the forest areas will not be tolerated, and if any employee is found to be complicit, action will be taken against them.

He also released a brochure for the ‘Pran Vayu Devta’ scheme. The Chief Minister was also informed that under the scheme, the state government plans to provide an annual pension of Rs 2,750 to those who take care of trees over 75 years old. So far, 3,819 such trees have been identified under the scheme.

–IANS

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Eknath Shinde defends Sena leader Waikar's LS poll victory, dismisses oppn's 'EVM malfunction' claims

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremo Eknath Shinde on Sunday strongly defended the victory of his party leader Ravindra Waikar from Mumbai North West constituency against Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Amol Kirtikar while dismissing the opposition’s charges of malfunctioning of EVMs at the counting centre.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister also questioned the opposition’s move to raise doubts over the EVMs’ functioning only in case of Waikar’s victory.

“The people of the constituency have elected Ravindra Waikar, and it is a people’s victory. The opposition is misleading the people over the EVM,” Shinde said while taking a swipe at the opposition, reiterating that Waikar had been elected by the people.

Waikar has rebutted the opposition charges, saying that it has been done because of its defeat.

“There were policemen, candidates and the candidates’ representatives present at the counting centre. So how can Ravindra Waikar go in and do something different? I don’t know how this is possible. The Opposition is unable to digest its defeat and therefore these allegations are made,” he said.

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Meanwhile, the Returning Officer of Mumbai North West Constituency Vandana Suryavanshi has also denied the malfunctioning of the EVMs.

”EVMs are standalone devices without any wired or wireless connectivity with units outside the EVM system. Advanced technical features and robust administrative safeguards are in place to rule out any possibility of manipulation. Standards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents,” the Returning Officer said.

The denial by Shinde, Waikar and the Returning Officer came after the Opposition alleged that there was a malpractice in the counting of votes in Mumbai North West constituency.

Waikar defeated Kirtikar by just 48 votes.

Waikar’s brother-in-law has been accused of taking a mobile phone to the counting centre.

–IANS

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We all will work for the nation, says Rijiju says after meeting Kharge

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday met Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge for discussions ahead of the coming session of Parliament and asserted that all will work for the betterment of the country.

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha is scheduled to commence on June 24 and will go on till July 3. The oath-taking ceremony of new MPs and the election of the Speaker will be held during the session.

Rijiju, in his social media post, said that he had a “pleasant” meeting with the opposition leader, who shared many experiences of his own life.

“I had a pleasant courtesy meeting with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress Party President Shri Mallikarjun Kharge ji. He shared with me about many valuable experiences of his life. Together, we all will work for the nation,” he said on X.

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Rijiju, a BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh, was made a Cabinet Minister in the third consecutive NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in charge of Parliamentary Affairs and Minority Affairs. While he earlier served as the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Minority Affairs and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Sports and Youth Affairs, he was made the Law Minister in 2021 and later shifted to the Earth Sciences and Food Processing Industries Ministries.

–IANS

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Eknath Shinde tells party cadres to start preparations for Maha Assembly polls

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremo Eknath Shinde on Sunday told the party leaders, ministers, MPs, MLAs and office bearers to start preparations for the upcoming Assembly elections.

Eknath Shinde also stressed on launching the membership drive and focussing on updating the electoral rolls.

The Maharashtra CM, who reviewed the preparations for the Shiv Sena’s 58th anniversary on June 19, said that the party has retained its strongholds including Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Konkan, Thane and Palghar.

“… and now, the time is to further consolidate Shiv Sena’s position in the rest of Maharashtra,” he said.

The Chief Minister also said that the party’s anniversary would be celebrated in a “big way”.

Eknath Shinde congratulated all his colleagues for the success of the party in the recently held Lok Sabha elections but asked them to correct the mistakes made in the general elections and to prepare more efficiently for the upcoming assembly elections.

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He said even as people are supporting the Shiv Sena, the party leaders and workers will have to work more vigorously to change the wrong narrative set by the opposition about the change in the Constitution.

Eknath Shinde said all efforts will be made during the assembly elections so that the opposition would not repeat wrong narratives.

He said that all Hindu festivals like Dahihandi, Ganapati, Dussehra, Diwali should be celebrated with much enthusiasm including Ashadhi Wari of Pandharpur.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra CM announced that the government will implement a tree plantation campaign in every district to tackle climate change.

He directed all district collectors to plant one lakh trees in each district. In addition, he added that the Shiv Sena will also conduct a similar campaign across the state.

–IANS

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Bengal LoP requests Governor to ensure retention of CAPF till Durga Puja

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Kolkata, June 16 (IANS) The Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari on Sunday requested Governor C.V. Ananda Bose to initiate the process for retention of 400 companies of central armed police forces (CAPF), already in the state, till the Durga Puja in October in wake of the post-poll violence that has broken out in different pockets since the counting for the Lok Sabha polls on June 4.

Adhikari made this request after meeting the Governor at Raj Bhavan, along with a group of victims of post-poll violence.

The Governor told Adhikari that he would do whatever was necessary to arrest such instances of post-poll violence in the state.

Later speaking to the media persons the Governor said that he promises in the names of all great men born in West Bengal that he will go to the extreme in this matter.

Quoting a recent order of the Calcutta High Court, the Governor said that it seemed that he was under house arrest.

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“Those who are victims of post-poll violence were not earlier allowed to meet the Governor,” he said.

He also said that he has received a total of 1,025 complaints related to post-poll violence.

Adhikari told media persons that he has informed the Governor that the pillars of democracy are under attack in West Bengal. “The ration cards of around 5,000 individuals in the state have been snatched away,” he alleged.

–IANS

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