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Bihar opens door to multi-polarity

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KOLKATA: The outcome of the Bihar elections is likely to make space for multi-polarity in national politics with regional players — Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal — emerging as leaders of a federal bloc.

The success of this model will, however, depend on how these chief ministers ensure the delivery of goods that do not just comprise doles but charter economic growth and welfare of the people.

Even if some have started writing off the BJP in Bengal politics, the ruling party at the Centre isn’t going to give a walkover to the ruling Trinamool in the 2016 Bengal assembly polls. The party will make a desperate bid to reach closer to its 17% vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with religious polarization as one of its planks. But this might only help Mamata Banerjee consolidate the minority vote bank as it did in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Mamata’s vitriolic attack against Narendra Modi during the Lok Sabha campaign made her emerge as a saviour of minorities.

What’s more is that the BJP’s hope of improving its numbers in the Rajya Sabha has fallen through in the Bihar elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to bank on Mamata for safe passage of the crucial reforms Bills as he did earlier. Mamata, on the other hand, will try to extract the maximum for the state in lieu of providing support to the Centre. However, Mamata may not go for the quid pro quo for months till the 2016 assembly polls lest the Opposition takes advantage of the “Modi-Mamata chemistry”.

Yet, Mamata has her problems, too. In the last four years of her governance, her party is bitten by the same intolerance bug for which she has criticized the BJP. The intolerance here in Bengal is not religious, it’s political intolerance. It was on display in the last civic polls when the Bihar polls turned out to be free and fair. Squabbles and clashes within the Trinamool are a regular during this regime. The party in its bid to establish hegemony has muzzled the dissenting voice and also used muscle power to influence voting. All these have created disenchantment among the urban voters caught in an economic stagnation.

Despite this, the opposition parties in Bengal are yet to come up as a credible alternative, in terms of policies and presence. The BJP has become weaker, the Congress and the Left marginalized to north Bengal. On the contrary, Trinamool has made impressive dents in Adhir Chowdhury’s domain in Murshidabad and Congress dominated Malda. The party has improved its vote share by 13% in the last civic polls, leaving behind the Left. The Left’s silver lining is Siliguri and the adjoining areas.

The success of the grand alliance in Bihar came as a relief to the Left who were afraid of getting sandwiched in the polarization politics if the BJP had its way in Bihar. The grand alliance will also make voices within Bengal CPM to look for allies beyond the Left. Some of them are also in favour of working in tandem with Congress. Whatever the tactic, the main handicap for the Left is that people are to get over negatives of the 34 years of Left rule in Bengal. Its leaders are still running after day-to-day issues without being able to provide a credible policy alternative, different from the mainstream parties.

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Source: TOI-Kol

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New mayor opens all-in-one kiosk for Salt Lake residents

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KOLKATA: In a unique initiative to develop Salt Lake as a smart city, the Bidhannagar municipal corporation on Saturday opened a smart kiosk at the mayor’s ward office through which residents will be able to contact with the mayor through video conference system and also be able to pay property tax and submit building sanction plans.

The corporation authorities are also planning to introduce a smart card for all family households of the township using which residents would be able to know everything about all service and property tax and pay their property tax through a common portal.

The kiosk was inaugurated at mayor Sabyasachi Dutta’s ward 31 office on Saturday. Officials said that residents will be able to contact with the mayor and also the municipal commissioner through touching the portal and will be able to talk through video conferencing system. Officials said that the plan is to introduce the system in all the wards of the corporation slowly after the ward offices are set up in all the wards. As for immediate plans, the authorities are planning to install such smart kiosks at the City Centre mall for the benefit of the township residents.

Not only able to contact with the civic authorities, residents will be able to pay the property tax and also can submit building sanction plans through the smart kiosks by touching on the related options on the touchscreen.

In another unique initiative, the corporation authorities are planning to introduce a smart for all household families in Salt Lake within the next three months. Officials said that by using the smart card through the corporation portal, a resident would be able to know all details about the municipal service tax and property tax and will also be able to pay the property tax using the card through the portal online.

The corporation authorities have been preparing hard to come up with the smart city plan that needs to be submitted to the Centre by November 15 to get selected among the first 20 smart cities list to get the first phase of central funds. The authorities recently organised a unique event by putting up a 10 km long drawing and writing canvas on both sides of the Broadway Stretch from SAI Complex to Central Park in which residents wrote and draw their suggestions and ideas on ways to develop Salt Lake as a smart city. The corporation authorities have been arranging seminars engaging citizens and distributing feedback forms to households for residents to give their suggestions. Civic authorities said that they are working on a smart city mission for Salt Lake to be developed as a smart city.

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Source: TOI-Kol

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Metro to get new-generation rakes by July

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KOLKATA: Metro Railway will receive its first pair of state-of-the-art air-conditioned rakes by July, 2016. These rakes are being built by Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai as per standards set by the Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO). With the arrival of these two, the Kolkata metro will have 16 AC rakes in its fleet apart from 13 non-AC ones. By the end of 2018, the metro is likely to receive 14 more AC rakes for which an order has been placed with CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co Ltd in China

“The two rakes being built by ICF now are much more advanced than those in service. They will have 3-phase alternating current motors and features like regenerative braking for substantial energy saving, stainless steel body, disc brakes, better passenger information system and CCTV for passenger security. The existing AC rakes with the metro were also supplied by ICF but the new design is a challenge. With metros coming up in several cities in the country, there will be a high demand for rakes. If advanced rakes can be built in India, there will month longer be any need to import them,” a metro official said.

The Kolkata metro is different from those in other cities. This is the only metro network that depends entirely on an electrified third rail rather than overhead equipment (OHE). When the Kolkata metro was designed more than 30 years ago, technology hadn’t evolved sufficiently to dig tunnels large enough to accomodate OHE. The third rail was the only option. Today, when most metros draw power from the OHE, few rake manufacturers have retained the technology to build rakes that draw power from a third rail. As the north-south corridor of Metro Railway is third-rail dependent, all ongoing projects in Kolkata (save for the E-W Metro) will use the same technology for integration.

“We will need many more rakes as and when the ongoing projects are completed. Take the Kavi Subhas-Airport (via Rajarhat) link. This will form a circular link with the N-S corridor once the stretch between Noapara and the airport is completed. Once the integration happens, demand for rakes will go up. Units like ICF are gearing up for this. Within the next few years as the ongoing projects get completed, one would get to see more advanced rakes in the network,” the official added.

Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Source: TOI-Kol

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