Kolkata: On Thursday, a man was killed and two others injured in a bomb blast inside an electrical repair shop in Durgapur of West Bengal’s Burdwan district, police said.
“One man has been killed and two others received some injuries. Prime facie it appears to be a crude bomb explosion,” said Commissioner of Police, (Asansol-Durgapur), Ajay Kumar Nand.
The owner of the shop has been arrested.
While people initially presumed the cause of the explosion to be the compressor of a refrigerator bursting, police upon inspection found shrapnel and recovered two more container shaped bombs.
“The two bombs have been defused and samples sent for forensic testing. As of now, it seems they are not IEDs as there was no trigger mechanism in them. We are probing the matter and awaiting the forensic test reports,” added Nand.
The man who died has been identified as Pappu Ram, 35.
A forensic team is slated to visit the site on Friday.
Having banned stubble burning earlier this year, the West Bengal government is now relying on an intense awareness campaign and use of advanced agri-equipment to ensure farmers do not indulge in the polluting practice, but officials claim that the problem has not yet reached major proportions in the eastern state.
Officials say the source of the problem of stubble burning lies in the farmers resorting to the “quick” technology of mechanical harvesters which leave behind a substantial part of the root of the crop as a residue.
“Stubble is always there in paddy cultivation. The problem is that the stubbles have become longer due to the use of machinery,” Pradip Majumdar, advisor, agriculture and allied sector in the Chief Minister’s office, told IANS.
Echoing Majumdar, state Pollution Control Board (PCB) chief Kalyan Rudra said the practice of stubble burning was not there historically.
“Due to recent technological advances, the window between the Kharif and Rabi crop has narrowed down. So to prepare the land, the farmers resort to a quick technology by making use of a mechanical harvester. In this process, a substantial part of the root of the crop remains as a residue,” Rudra told IANS.
Majumdar said that unlike in the northern states, at this point of time the problem is non-existent in West Bengal, with the Kharif crop yet to be harvested. “The fields are all green everywhere now,” he said.
The problem could recur in Bengal after November when the farmers prepare the land for the Rabi crop, Rudra said.
Emphasising that stubble burning was still notA a major problem in Bengal, Rudra conceded that the practice was reported last season from some districts like East Burdwan, West Burdwan, Hooghly, Murshidabad and Nadia.
“We have announced the ban keeping in mind the experience of Delhi,” he said.
Rudra said the state PCB had no data on the extent to which stubble burning has impacted pollution levels in the state as “the source apportionment study carried out in Kolkata did not record this particular problem caused by the practice”.
On February 8, the state environment department came out with a notification prohibiting “the indiscriminate burning of left-over paddy and straw/stubble in the whole state of West Bengal with immediate effect,” saying the “indiscriminate burning… in the open fields after the harvesting of crops is causing widespread air pollution in the whole state.”
Rudra said the authorities have suggested to farmers to use balers in case they opt for the mechanical harvester.
“We have suggested that if you want to use the mechanical harvester use a baler which uproots the stubble completely. We have made it clear that farmers cannot resort to stubble burning and can use the mechanical harvester only alongside the baler,” he said.
Baler, most often called a hay baler, is a piece of farm machinery used to compress a cut and raked crop (such as hay, cotton, flax straw, salt marsh hay, or silage) into compact bales that are easy to handle, transport, and store.
The authorities are also doing satellite monitoring to trace the areas of stubble burning.
“Whenever we come across even one case, we are immediately asking the district magistrate concerned to take the necessary steps,” said Rudra.
Majumdar said intense campaigning was on to convince the farmers about the adverse impact of stubble burning.
“We have told them that the high temperatures generated due to stubble burning would destroy micro-organisms beneficial to the soil. It destroys the soil texture and the live population,” he said.
The state also faces a practical problem. The MGNREGA scheme and other such government programmes have led to a scarcity of labour force for agriculture. “As a result, labour has also become pricy”.
“Now if there is a residual stubble on the land, there can be ratoons. Not seeing any direct benefits, the farmers think the land can be freed without incurring any monetary cost by burning the stubble. So in our campaigns we are highlighting the harmful effects on the land, and, towards the end, mentioning the damage caused to the environment,” Majumdar said.
He said suggested alternatives to stubble burning include using new machines which cut the crop as close to the roots as is done manually.
“Research is also on to find some chemical process to derive the benefits. In Malda, we have experimented with a machine to remove the stubble and reuse it for energy. Similar efforts will be made in the south Bengal districts also.
“But these are now in way forward stages. We will consider all options and take the cost efficient process for the farmers for their adopting,” he added. (IANS)
Cyclone Fani, one of the strongest storms to batter the Indian subcontinent in decades, uprooted trees and triggered rains as it entered West Bengal post midnight on Saturday, hours after making landfall and causing havoc in Odisha on Friday.
No loss of life or any injury has been reported so far.
According to the Meteorological department, the extremely severe cyclonic storm relatively weakened after entering coastal Odisha and transformed into “very severe” as it approached Bengal.
“The severe cyclonic storm Fani entered Bengal at 12.30 a.m. through Odisha’s Balasore. It crossed Kharagpur packing a wind of 70-80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph,” Regional Meteorological Centre’s Deputy Director General Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, said.
The storm is now lying close to Arambagh in Hooghly district, and is 40 km west of Kolkata.
“It is likely to continue further in north, north east direction, and reach the east Burdwan-Hooghly border, and through Nadia go to Bangladesh on Saturday afternoon, weakening into a cyclonic storm, after having triggered rains,” Bandyopadhyay said.
Fani lashed cities and towns in coastal Bengal including Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Sandehskhali and Contai while the effects of the storm could also be felt in cities like Kharagpur and Burdwan as trees were uprooted and metal hoardings gave way.
Parts of Kolkata and the suburbs also received moderate to heavy rainfall since Friday afternoon.
The epicentre of the storm is expected to hit the city in the early hours on Saturday.
The rains would continue till early Saturday.
In the sea resort of Digha, the win speed reached 70 kmph in some areas, in Frazerganj the wind velocity was between 60 and 70 kmph.
Kharagpur has so far recorded 95 mm rainfall, which will continue for the next two to three hours.
The terror bombings that ripped through three churches and four luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka have left 359 people dead and 500 others injured. World-wide condemnation has been expressed against the perpetrators. This is nothing more than the usual “ritual”. Almost all such deadly explosions are followed by strong denunciation and the offering of condolences and prayers. But will mere hollow condemnations and condolences enough? How many such cold-blooded blasts have happened at scared place of worship like Church, Mosques, Temples, Synagogue in past three years? Could we not rather find out the core causes leading to the incidents? At least to allow the grand idea of “humanity” to survive? Amidst of technological advances and luxuries we are fast getting away from basic realities of life! The frequent terror bombings have made us more worried and apprehensive than ever before. Should this not bring the world leaders — spiritual, political and also thinkers, to one table and find the solution? But that will not happen, and the innocent people will continue to die at the hand of such bloodthirsty people.
What a big irony that the evils of intolerance, dogmatism and hatred explosively originate from the holy altar of religions! Now the world should fear the religious fanatics more than humane atheists. Moreover, if we dig deeper, we shall find the causes of such bloody hostility lies in the misinterpretation of GOD and the holy books we are following. We have foolishly cut the “inconceivable” GOD to our size. We have regarded others as “non-believers” if they worship HIM in a little different way. We undermine them, we belittle their holy scriptures, we sniff at their culture and mock their tradition and rituals. Not just that, we even find our own ways to misinterpret their scriptures and thereby defame their whole culture and ethos. This has often become a sort of “hubby” among a certain class of people. They are no less than terror bombers, I say this with conviction. Their works insidiously contribute to bring the “division and hatred” among people, communities and their faiths. Such people literally hurt the heart and soul of the people, which is far worse than the “hurt” of those killed in the bomb blasts.
Indoctrination of exclusivity of one’s practiced religion is doubtlessly one of the prime causes that has driven many to this blind extremism. So much so — they even dedicate that evil acts to the Supreme Almighty and their sacred scriptures!
Why can’t we love our neighbor and fellow others? Is it not the most COMMON and FUNDAMENTAL teaching of the holy scriptures of all religions? Let other notions and handed down beliefs that are “potential” to cause division and disruptive be just set aside. One believes, God will never punish us if we get together and work towards mutual love and brotherhood than being fanatic and hurting others and then hurt oneself. After all we are from one fountain source of His divinity.
Of course, the more we go deeper and more we “understand” His “CREATION”, the more we “laugh” at ourselves. We regret our own stupidity too. For instance — in HIS limitless and infinite number of galaxies (just “one” galaxy spreading out in a span of 150000 -200000 light-years) there consists an infinite number of “earths” having their own religions as ours here. Is not their God and our God same? Should we call them heathen because they don’t follow our religion? Our idea of religious “exclusivism” in the UNIVERSE is not just narrow but it is utterly “childish”. It is exactly like a small kid crying and insisting that her doll is the most expensive and most beautiful on earth! So, the nonsense bickering, hatred and inhuman cruelty that originates from our “religious exclusivism” has only kept us away from the tenets of humanity. Our cruelty arising from the extremism just chases away the divinity from within.
So, let’s learn first to make peace with other believers and their cultural values. Our paths may be different but the goal is the same. Acknowledging, respecting other faiths, and mingling together in their celebrations doubtlessly awaken our dormant godliness. This will certainly help purify our mind and steady our devotion. No one’s devotion to Him should ever end up in blasts and human degeneration.
Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.