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A Day after the Calcutta High Court asked the West Bengal Election Commission (SEC) to consider postponing of elections in four Municipal Corporations scheduled on January 22, the state government has written to the state poll body that they don't have any objection if the SEC decides to postpone the election for another 4 to 6 weeks considering the Covid situation in the state.
Though the commission is yet to make any formal announcement, sources in the commission indicated that the state poll body is likely to accept the recommendations made by the state and postpone the election at least till February 12. The commission had earlier announced that there will be elections in four municipal corporations including Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar on January 22 and the results will be announced on January 25.
West Bengal Election Commission (SEC) to consider postponing of elections in four Municipal Corporations.Pixabay
Sources in the commission also indicated that they are keen to conduct the election in other municipalities at the end of February. Elections in 107 municipalities and Howrah Municipal Corporation will be held by the end of February. Sources in the commission also indicated that the commission might speak to the Disaster Management Department to decide the modalities and other aspects related to this election. "The election has already been announced and the nomination part has also been over and in this condition, we need to find out the best possible situation without hampering the constitutional provisions. We will also have to work out the modalities for the election," a senior official at the commission said.
The division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava was hearing a PIL filed by one Bimal Bhattacharya, who argued that considering the escalating Covid-19 situation, the civic polls should be postponed. During the hearing on Thursday the state government and the commission had tried to push the responsibility on each other. Advocate appearing for the commission Jayanta Mitra had said that the commission cannot take the decision of stopping an election because it is the state's responsibility. "According to law, the commission cannot cancel a pre-declared election but if the disaster management act is implemented in the state, then the election will have to be cancelled," Mitra said.
The election has already been announced and the nomination part has also been over. Unsplash
On the other hand, the advocate appearing for the state said that the commission only has the authority to cancel the election and the state has got nothing to do with it. The division bench asked both the state and the commission about their lack of coordination in this matter. On Friday, the court directed the commission to take the final call on this issue. Now after the state's letter to the commission, the poll panel has no problem in postponing the election. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : election, West Bengal, Municipal Corporation, Election Commission, announcement, constitutional, provision, PIL, civic poll, postpone, advocate, disaster, authority, cancel, state, government.)
Even as the land for the Magh Mela township has shrunk due to the Ganga changing its course, there are more than 3,000 religious, social and spiritual organisations who have sought land to set up their respective camps at the 47-day long event. Officials said that the problem of soil erosion was still persisting forcing the Magh Mela authorities to make alternate arrangements. District Magistrate (Magh Mela) Shesh Mani Pandey said that the work of land allotment was underway in all five sectors.
"After facing the problem of soil erosion due to strong current of river water, mela authorities have made the alternate arrangements and camps of different organisations are being shifted to safer places," said Pandey.
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He, however, said all sorts of facilities would be given to pilgrims, devotees and visitors in the coming month-long event and all departments were also coordinating with each other and work of setting up 13 police stations and 36 police outposts was also in progress.
This time, Mela administration has decided to engage a joint team of mela officials and third party to verify the facilities being offered to seers, saints, pilgrims, and 'kalpvasis' staying in tents.
The officials claimed that this exercise will help Mela authorities to maintain transparency and ensure that devotees and pilgrims are able to get benefits in terms of facilities and services. The Magh Mela begins on January 1 and will conclude on March 1. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Magh Mela, Ganga Sagar, West Bengal, Ganges, township, land, religious, social, spiritual, organizations, erosion, soil, arrangements, river, pilgrims, devotees, visitors, event, police, administration, benefit, facilities.)
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In an effort to create a natural defence mechanism against the recurring cyclonic storms like 'Yaas' or 'Amphan', the West Bengal government plans to construct a robust and ecologically sustainable 'bio-shield' along the state's coastline and the Sundarbans islands. The natural barrier artificially engineered will be the first of its kind in the country.
Prodded by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the state government formed a 24-member committee of experts, headed by state pollution control board chairman Kalyan Rudra, a river expert. In September this year. The committee came up with a detailed report to control the devastating cyclone that is not only destroying the embankments and vegetation but also posing a serious threat to human lives.
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The plan -- recently approved by chief secretary H.K. Diwedi as the master guide for any work in that eco-sensitive zone -- is a mechanism to build earth embankments, plant 36 species of resilient mangrove species and set up a geo-textile cover on embankments, and a second line of embankment on the east-facing concave coastline, where erosion is highest.
Also Read : How do cyclones get their names?
According to the report, the impact of climate change is most severe in the Bengal delta region, where the sea level rise is the highest globally. The global mean sea level has been rising at 3.6mm per year between 2006 and 2015. The sea level off the coast of Bengal is rising at around 4mm per year.
According to the report, the impact of climate change is most severe in the Bengal delta region.Pixabay
The impact of sea level rise in the Sunderbans is further accelerated due to slow subsidence of land, at 2.9mm per year. That effectively makes the sea level rise more than 6.9 mm per year. The committee has proposed a "climate-resilient" multi-layer vegetation shield: three-layer shields along the seacoast, and two along the river-embankments in the Bengal delta, the report says.
The committee chose 36 species of mangrove and mangrove associates and blue and green algae and proposed to develop a climate resilient multi-layer vegetation shield: three layers along the seacoast and two layers along the river embankment in Bengal Delta.
"The 36 species were chosen on the basis of their climate resilience, ability for propagation, height, salinity resilience and tidal influence. The invasive species were avoided. The vegetative shield, unlike the capital-intensive concrete embankment, systematically helps develop sand dunes off the coasts, which effectively act as a wave-breaker, apart from replenishing the beaches," one of the committee members said.
The committee chose 36 species of mangrove and mangrove associates and blue and green algae and proposed to develop a climate resilient multi-layer vegetation shield.Unsplash
The irrigation and waterways department has identified 378 stretches of different rivers in the state, that have a total length of 559km, as vulnerable, of which 207 stretches, with a combined length of 324km, have been marked "extremely vulnerable". These are mostly east-facing concave banks, where breaching of embankments is highest. A second line of embankment has been planned in such zones to minimize the impact of cyclones and erosion.
"Also, the eroded beaches in East Midnapore and the Sunderbans have become so narrow and low that the wave-breaking zones have moved nearer to land. Since there is hardly any area along the southern front of Sagar Island to create a proper bio-shield, an artificial off-shore reef barrier has been proposed by experts from IIT-Madras," the member added. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : West Bengal, Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, cyclone, storm, defence mechanism, bio-shield, climate change, mangrove, embankments, Sunderbans, coasts, vulnerable, sea level.)
West Bengal is the only major state in the country where girl students have outnumbered boys. A recent survey released by the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) shows that only three other states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Meghalaya have enrolled more girl students than boys. State-wise data released by the UDISE+ shows that of the 18,74,87,792 students enrolled from pre-primary to class XII in the academic session of 2019-20, there are 2,32,012 more girls students than boys. When the number of girl students is 94,89,902, the number of boy students is 92,57,890.
"For the last five years, it has been the continuous effort of the state government to promote and empower girls. The Kanyashree project has been massively successful. Most states in the country including the Central government have similar projects to educate and empower girls but West Bengal's success lies in the implementing mechanism. When the other states tried to reach the grassroots level through Panchayats, West Bengal is the only state where Kanyashree has been implemented through the administrative mechanism," a senior official from the state Women and Child Welfare Department said.
"As a result, the girl students have received their token of benefits through schools, Block Development Offices, and SDOs which has compelled the parents to enroll their girl child in schools. This social and administrative compulsion has allowed the girl students better access to schools and education," the official added.
A closer look into data will show us the number of dropouts in the case of boys is higher than the number of girls. The state has not only fared better in respect to the national average but the girl students have outshone the boy students. When in the secondary level the dropout rate is as high as 16.1 percent in West Bengal, the dropout rate is 13.8. Interestingly enough when 14.1 percent of boys have dropped out, the girl students dropout rate is only 13.6 percent. Surprisingly enough in the upper primary section that is between the class V to Class VII, the dropout rate in the state is nil when the national dropout rate is as high as 2.6 percent.
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Equally in the primary section that is between Class I to Class IV, the national dropout rate is 1.5 percent whereas in West Bengal the dropout rate is meager 0.6 percent with the boy students dropping out by 0.9 percent and the girl students opting out by 0.3 percent. The survey also shows that the state has been successful in bringing the minority community under the purview of its education system. In 2019-20, an overall 30.9 percent of minority students enrolled themselves in different state education facilities of which 32.4 percent are girls and 29.4 percent are boys.
This is far better than the national average where only 17.6 percent have enrolled themselves with 18.1 percent are girls and 17.1 percent are boys. So far as Muslim education is concerned, the state shares a better average than the national average. According to the data, 30.5 percent of students have enrolled themselves between pre-primary to higher secondary where 32 percent are girls and another 28.9 percent are boys. This is far better than the national average where only 13.9 percent of Muslim students have enrolled themselves. with 14.4 percent being girls and 13.4 percent are boys. (IANS/JC)