India's first under-river metro tunnel built in Kolkata

Modi To Inaugurate India’s First Underwater Metro Service In Kolkata Today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate India’s first under-river metro tunnel built in Kolkata on Wednesday.

In a monumental development set to transform urban transportation, PM Modi is slated to inaugurate several key metro and rapid transit projects across countries, marking a significant stride towards enhancing urban mobility and connectivity.

The Kolkata Metro extension, featuring the Howrah Maidan-Esplanade Metro section, includes the first transportation tunnel in India to pass under a major river, representing a critical milestone in the country’s infrastructure development.

This section not only showcases the technological prowess involved in its construction but also highlights the strategic importance of connecting two bustling areas of Kolkata, enhancing the city’s public transportation network’s efficiency and reach.

In addition to the underwater metro, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate the Kavi Subhash – Hemanta Mukhopadhyay Metro section and the Taratala – Majerhat Metro section, which is part of the Joka-Esplanade line.

The latter features the Majerhat Metro Station, an architectural marvel being an elevated station spanning railway lines, platforms, and a canal, further showcasing the innovative approach towards improving urban mobility.

The inauguration event will not be limited to Kolkata. PM Modi is set to flag off several other important projects across the country.

These include the Pune Metro’s stretch from Ruby Hall Clinic to Ramwadi, the Kochi Metro Rail Phase I Extension from SN Junction Metro station to Tripunithura Metro station, the Agra Metro’s stretch from Taj East Gate to Mankameshwar and the Duhai-Modinagar (North) section of the Delhi-Meerut RRTS Corridor.

Each of these projects is designed to significantly ease road traffic congestion and provide seamless, efficient, and comfortable connectivity for the public. For instance, the newly inaugurated section of the Agra Metro is poised to enhance access to the city’s historical and tourist sites, while the RRTS corridor aims to stimulate economic activity within the National Capital Region (NCR).

Furthermore, the Prime Minister will also lay the foundation stone for the extension of the Pune Metro Rail project phase 1 between Pimpri Chinchwad Metro-Nigdi, promising continued expansion and enhancement of urban transit infrastructure.

This comprehensive initiative underscores the government’s dedication to developing sustainable and efficient transportation networks across India, aiming to revolutionize the way people commute, reduce environmental impact, and bolster economic growth through improved connectivity.

Later in the day, PM Modi will lay the foundation stone, dedicate and inaugurate various infrastructure-related projects related to rail, road and petroleum and natural gas worth around Rs. 12,800 crore at Bettiah, West Champaran district in Bihar.

PM Modi is on three visits to Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar from March 4 to 6. (ANI)

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Ustad Rashid Khan

Music Maestro Ustad Rashid Khan Passes Away

Music maestro Ustad Rashid Khan has died. He was 55.

The musician had been battling cancer, and on Tuesday, he breathed his last at a hospital based in Kolkata.

Ustad Rashid Khan is the great-grandson of the legendary Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan Sahab, the founder of the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana. He’s also the nephew of Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan.

He not only immensely contributed to Indian classical music but also weaved the magic in Bollywood with his soulful songs such as ‘Aaoge Jab Tum O Saajana’ from the Kareena-Shahid starrer ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Allah Hi Reham’ in the Shah Rukh Khan starrer ‘My Name is Khan’.

Offering condolences, leader of the Opposition in West Bengal, Suvendu Adhikari in a post on X said, “I am deeply saddened to learn that Padma Bhushan Ustad Rashid Khan has left for his heavenly abode. The sad and untimely demise of the Music Maestro would create a huge void in the sphere of Music especially Hindustani Classical Music. I offer my sincere condolences to his family members, colleagues & peers and innumerous fans & admirers. May his soul rest in peace.” (ANI)

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Shreyas Iyer

Shreyas Retained As KKR’s Captain Ahead Of IPL 2024

Shreyas Iyer has been retained as the skipper of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) ahead of the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) next year.

KKR took to X to announce Shreyas as the skipper of the franchise. Venky Mysore, CEO of KKR, announced that lyer will continue to captain KKR while southpaw Nitish Rana will serve as his deputy.

Making the announcement, Venky was quoted as saying in a KKR release, “It was indeed unfortunate that Shreyas missed IPL 2023 due to injury. We are delighted that he’s back and at the helm as Captain. The way he has worked hard to recover from his injury and the form he has displayed is a testament to his character. We are also grateful that Nitish had agreed to step into Shreyas’s shoes last season and did a great job. There’s no doubt Nitish as Vice Captain will support Shreyas in every possible way for the benefit of Team KKR.”

On being entrusted with the top job for the next edition of the IPL, Shreyas said, “I believe the last season presented us with several challenges, including my absence due to injury. Nitish did a great job not only filling in for me but also with his commendable leadership. I am delighted that KKR has named him Vice Captain. No doubt it will strengthen the leadership group.”

The versatile batter has grabbed every opportunity to feature in the playing eleven with both hands, establishing himself as a mainstay in the Indian middle-order after a sensational run in the World Cup earlier this year.

The team management has also been investing in him as a successor to Test specialists Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, both of whom are in the twilight of their careers in the red-ball format.

In white-ball cricket, Iyer has been a model of consistency and is a joy to watch, especially when it comes to negotiating spinners.

He has established himself as one of the best players of spin bowling in the last few years.

In T20Is, Iyer has scored 1,104 runs in 51 matches and 47 innings at an average of 30.66, with eight half-centuries and best score of 74*.

His runs came at a strike rate of over 136. (ANI)

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Maneka Gandhi Elvish Yadav

ISKCON Unit Threatens Defamation Case Against Maneka Gandhi

Taking strong exception to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Maneka Gandhi’s alleged remarks that the “ISKCON sells cows from its Gaushalas (cowsheds) to butchers”, the Kolkata unit of the temple body on Friday said that they are going to file a Rs 100 crore defamation case against the Sultanpur MP and that notice has already been issued to her regarding the same.

“The comments of Maneka Gandhi were very unfortunate. Our devotees across the world are very hurt. We are taking legal action of defamation of Rs 100 crores against her. We have sent her a notice today,” Vice-President of ISKCON Kolkata, Radharamn Das told ANI. 

This came after a viral video of Gandhi surfaced recently, in which the founder of People for Animals could be heard alleging that the ISKCON is the “biggest cheat in the country which sells cows from its gaushalas to butchers”. 

Responding to it, Das said, “How can an MP, once a Union Minister, say a lie against such a big society without any evidence? She is saying (in the purported video) that she visited our Anantpur Gaushala but our bhakts (ISKCON members) there do not remember the visit.” (ANI)

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Vande Bharat trains

PM To Flag Off 2 Vande Trains From Bengal As ‘Durga Pujo Gift’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to inaugurate a total of nine Vande Bharat express trains through video conferencing on September 24, of which two will be specifically for West Bengal– one, connecting Patna to Howrah and the other, connecting Ranchi to Howrah. Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of the Eastern Railway, Kaushik Mitra has described this move as a “Durga Pujo gift” to Bengal.

“There are already three Vande Bharat trains in West Bengal- Howrah-New Jalpaiguri Junction, Puri-Howrah and New Jalpaiguri Junction-Guwahati. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has allotted another two Vande Bharats for West Bengal- Patna-Howrah and Ranch Howrah. People of West Bengal will be thrilled and take this as a Durgapuja gift from Narendra Modi,” the Eastern Railway CPRO said speaking to ANI on Friday.

The Vande Bharat Express trains will cover Bengal from the Chittaranjan area to Howrah, the CPRO said adding that both the trains will be inaugurated on the 24th and will reach Howrah station at around 10 pm. 

On the new-age facilities that will be provided on board the Vande Bharat trains, Mitra said, “The inclination of the chairs has been increased from 17 degrees to 19 degrees. The cushion seating has been improved. We have also changed the colours of the seats from blue to reddish. We have improved the basins and lighting facilities in the washrooms. We have also introduced wheelchair facilities for the specially-abled passengers from the compartment.”

Speaking on passenger feedback about the Vande Bharat trains, the Eastern Railway CPRO said, “Based on the experiences and feedback we have received from passengers, Vande Bharats are more user-friendly, more sophisticated and more comfortable.”

Mitra further said that the Vande Bharat trains will now be the fastest train travelling on this route and will even be faster than the present Rajdhani Express. While the Rajdhani Express takes 7 hours 45 minutes to reach Howrah from Patna, the Vande Bharat express will take only 6 and a half hours.

“Earlier from Patna to Howrah, the fastest train travelling on this route was Rajdhani Express which used to take 7 hours 45 minutes. With this Vande Bharat Express, it will take only 6 and a half hours,” the CPRO said.

The CPRO said that Asansol being an economic hub in West Bengal, the Vande Bharats will help passengers travelling from these regions to Howrah and to Patna in a short span.

“Asansol is an economic hub. Many steel plants are there, many cement factories are growing up there. People from Patna or Asansol can come to Kolkata or reach Patna in a short span,” he said.

Mitra said that several railway stations have been developed as Amrit Bharat stations with modern facilities. “Many stations have been identified as Amrit Bharat stations. A huge amount has been spent on stations like Asansol, Andal and Bardhaman,” he said. (ANI)

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Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) Section 144

AAI Gets Nod To Install Full-Body Scanners At 4 Airports

To make security checks quicker and error-free at India’s hypersensitive airports, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) received clearance from the Public Investment Board (PIB) to install full-body scanners that will cut down the passenger frisking time by half.

These full-body scanners will be installed at four airports in the country including Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Goa.

In July, the government had floated a tender to procure 131 full-body scanners– that cut down the average passenger frisking time to 15 seconds from the current 30 and 600 new hand baggage scanners at over Rs 1,000 crore at airports run by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) but it was later withdrawn as it needed clearance from PIB.

Given that all the investment plans with an estimated cost of Rs 500 crores and more fall under the purview of PIB, the initial proposal was to install 131 full-body scanners and 600 new hand-baggage scanner machines at 43 airports that include Amritsar, Goa, Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Varanasi, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, Raipur, Tirupati, Bhopal, among others at over Rs 1,000 crore at airports run by the AAI.

However, in a recent meeting between stakeholders involved in the safety and security of airports, it was decided that instead of going for the installation in one go as per the original plan, the PIB gave its nod for the installation of full-body scanners in the four airports that witness maximum footfall among all airports owned and managed by the Airport Authority of India (AAI). The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Bureau of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Home Affairs and others.

“After evaluating the success report of full-body scanners at these four airports, other airports in the queue will get the facility at the earliest. In the meeting, various aspects like procurement, installation, training of security personnel and operations were discussed,” said a senior official.

According to officials, these millimetre-wave technology-based full-body scanners work on the principle of body contours, i.e. these are designed to detect objects that could be concealed in the body.  

“As the proposal needs approval of PIB, it was reviewed and now full-body scanners will be installed at four airports including thirteen scanners at Kolkata, twelve at Chennai, eight at Goa and five at Pune airport. These airports fall under the hypersensitive category as per BCAS”, added the official.

The AAI manages 137 airports in India, which include 24 international airports, 10 customs airports, and 103 domestic airports. (ANI)

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ICC World Cup 2023: India, Pak To Face-Off This October

Arch-rivals India and Pakistan will square off at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 this October at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The opening game of the World Cup is scheduled to place at the same venue on October 5 with a match between defending champions England and New Zealand in Ahmedabad, the ICC announced on Tuesday.
The final will also be held at the same venue on November 19,

The first semi-final of the World Cup will be held on November 15 in Mumbai while the second semi-final will be played on November 16 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

India will open their campaign on October 8 against Australia at Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. They will be playing a total of eight matches in the league stage.

The much-awaited encounter between India and Pakistan will be the eighth meeting between the two sides at a men’s World Cup.

With their jinx broken in the T20 World Cup, Pakistan will be looking to emulate the same in the 50-over format on October 15.

India and Pakistan have faced each other seven times previously – in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2011, 2015 and 2019.

The only time the two sides did not meet since that first match in 1992 was in 2007, which was a disastrous campaign for both teams as they crashed out of the tournament in the opening round

India have won all of the previous seven encounters, a record they extended to the T20 World Cups as well until recently.

That streak was broken in 2021, only for India to reclaim bragging rights with a memorable victory in the 2022 edition with a dramatic chase at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on the back of an unforgettable knock from former India captain Virat Kohli.

The last time these teams met in the 50-over World Cup was in 2019 at Old Trafford with India posting a massive 336/5 on the back of a fantastic 113-ball 140 by India captain Rohit Sharma.

A smart bowling performance then helped restrict Pakistan to just 212/6 in a rain-marred match that India won by 89 runs (DLS method).

Even more memorable is perhaps the game in 2011, another India home World Cup, which resulted in a thrilling semi-final clash in Mohali. Sachin Tendulkar starred for the hosts with 85 and their bowlers put up a united front to bowl out Pakistan and gain a 29-run victory. (ANI)

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Juhi on dhoni as captain

Watching Dhoni Play As Captain Is Wonderful: Juhi

Former India captain and talismanic Chennai Super Kings skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is not just a name to his fans but also an emotion. The latest IPL match between the Chennai franchise and Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens yet again saw the crowd chanting “Dhoni Dhoni” in the stands.

With Kolkata being the KKR’s home ground, it was expected that the sea of purple in the stands would be partisan towards the Shah Rukh Khan-owned franchise. However, while the supporters filled the stands and strained their lungs in support of the home franchise, they also showered the same affection on MSD and his men on an electrifying evening at Eden Gardens.
While purple shirts dominated the stands at a packed Eden, fans in the trademark yellow shirts of CSK were also seen packing the stands.

The contest, however, turned into a lopsided one as Chennai defended a mammoth target to hand Kolkata a rare home defeat this season of the IPL.

CSK defeated KKR by a comfortable margin of 49 runs in match number 33 of the IPL on Sunday. Chasing 236 runs at a typically noisy Eden, KKR came up short and were eventually restricted to 186 for 8.

KKR’s co-owner Juhi Chawla was also extremely happy to see the spectators showering love on Dhoni and his team.

Speaking to ANI post the KKR-CSK clash, Juhi heaped praise on the talismanic skipper of the Chennai franchise, saying, “Chennai Super Kings played well today. Watching MS Dhoni play as a captain is wonderful. We hope we can do what CSK just did, in our next match… There were so many people supporting CSK, we thought we have reached Chennai.”

After the match, Dhoni also thanked fans for their support.

“I will just say thanks for the support, they came in big numbers. Most of these guys will come in a KKR jersey next time. They are trying to give me a farewell, so thanks a lot to the crowd,” Dhoni quipped.

Dhoni recently sent shockwaves and left fans emotional all over social media after he said “it’s the last phase of my career.”

“All said and done, it’s the last phase of my career, however long I play,” he said when asked in the post-match interaction how he tends to deal with all the roar and crowd support at Chepauk a few days ago. “After two years, the fans have had the opportunity to come here and watch, feels good to be here. The crowd has given us a lot of love and affection. Not getting enough chances to bat, but no complaints,” Dhoni said.

Dhoni retired from international cricket in August 2020 and is currently playing only the IPL. (ANI)

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Foreigners Deported in 2021

US Embassy Announces Initiative To Cut Visa Wait For Indians

The United States on Sunday announced new visa initiatives for Indians including special interviews for first-time applicants and greater strength of visa staff across the country to reduce wait times for first-time visa applicants.

As part of this initiative, the United States opened consular operations across the country to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews.

“On January 21, the U.S. Mission in India launched the first in a series of special Saturday interview days, as part of a larger effort to reduce wait times for first-time visa applicants. The United States Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad all opened consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews,” the US embassy said in a statement.

“In the coming months, the Mission will continue to open additional slots for appointments to take place on select Saturdays,” the statement added.

The embassy said that the US government has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous U.S. visas. “Between January and March 2023, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase processing capacity,” the statement added.

It also said the US State Department is also increasing the number of consular officers permanently assigned to the Embassy and Consulates.

“The U.S. Mission in India released more than 250,000 additional B1/B2 appointments. Consulate General Mumbai also extended its weekday operating hours to make space for additional appointments,” the statement added.

Consulate General Mumbai currently adjudicates the most visa applications in India and is one of the largest visa operations in the world, the embassy said.

“Our consular teams across India are putting in the extra hours to meet the needs of international travelers and bring down wait times,” said Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard. “This is part of a Mission wide effort to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States.”

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the Department’s visa processing capacity, and many of its embassies and consulates were at times only able to offer emergency services.

“As travel restrictions have been lifted, the U.S. Mission to India has made it a priority to facilitate legitimate travel and adjudicated over 800,000 nonimmigrant visas in 2022, including record numbers of both student and employment visas. In every other visa category, interview wait times in India are at pre-pandemic levels or lower,” the US embassy said.

“By this summer, the U.S. Mission in India will be at full staffing, and we expect to be processing visas at levels from prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the embassy added. (ANI)

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BJP’s Ideology Is Self-Centered: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and said that the BJP’s ideology is to be “self-centered” while her party Trinamool Congress abides by the Constitution.

Addressing a convention of Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers in Kolkata, Banerjee said, “CPI (M) and BJP belong to the same team…BJP’s ideology is to be self-centered…Our compulsion is to obey the Constitution. But today history, geography, and politics are being forgotten; education and culture are being changed,”
The TMC supremo spoke on Trinamool Congress’ vision as it completed 25 years on January 1, and said “the party aims at a united India with a strengthened federal structure”.

On Sunday, she took to Twitter on the occasion of the 25th foundation day of the Trinamool Congress and congratulated everyone for believing in the power of Maa, Maati, and Manush (mother, soil, and people).

She also recalled the party’s struggle through the years and the role played by the party workers in empowering people, fighting injustice, and inspiring hope among the masses.

“This day, 25 years ago, TMC came into existence. I recall our struggles through the years & the role we have played in empowering people, fighting injustice, and inspiring hope. I heartily congratulate everyone for believing in the power of MAA, MAATI, MANUSH,” tweeted Mamata.

Trinamool Congress was created over Mamata’s difference from the Congress. She left Congress and formed TMC on January 1, 1998. TMC which emerged as a regional party was elevated to a national Party in 2016.

The party ended the 34-year left regime in West Bengal in 2011 and has been in power since then, winning three consecutive assembly elections.

Currently, it is the third largest party in the parliament after BJP and the Congress with 23 members in the Lok Sabha and 13 in the Rajya Sabha. (ANI)

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