Mamata Banerjee gives away Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman 2019

The Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman awards for 2019 were presented by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a function at Nabanna Sabhaghar today.

The list for this year is as follows: 

Highlights of the chief minister’s speech:

UNESCO is going to enlist Durga Pujo in its List of Intangible Heritage. I will be the happiest person when the whole world will say that Durga Pujo is the greatest festival of Bangla.

Though there are carnivals held in other places across the world, over the last four years, the Durga Pujo Carnival we have been organising has caught the world’s attention.

I support constructive criticism, not negative, destructive criticism. I always stand by the motto: Think Positive, Be Positive.

The Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman is given to all clubs, irrespective of whether they are big or small. As a result of rewarding the smaller clubs, now they too have started thinking innovatively in every aspect of Durga Puja.

Many unknown clubs have become famous as a result of the Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman.

The livelihoods of lakhs of people depend on Durga Pujo. Durga Pujo and the various cultural programmes surrounding it are also the reasons for people meeting each other. My sole aim is to make Bangla the best in the world.

A mother is a mother – she has no religion, caste or creed. A mother can be given respect by giving her love. When some people start speaking negatively of the people and culture of Bangla, I feel sad. Bangla is the best.

Bengalis are spread all over the world and many are famous in their respective fields. I want to see more and more Bengalis getting success in all corners of the globe.

1600 buses for tourists during Durga Pujo

The State Transport Department has lined up special bus, vessel and tram services and prepared packages for some notable Durga Pujos in Bangla.

Among the special arrangements this year are 1,600 buses that will ply revellers day and night across Kolkata. People can buy a single-day ticket for travelling in State Transport buses and trams all day.

The service needs to be booked in advance. Pre-booking of the tickets can be done online as well as at the depots, terminals and smart card booking counters of WBTC, CSTC and CTC (for the list of counters, click here).

Several new initiatives have been taken this year by the Department. These include tours of traditional household pujos and other notable sites in Hooghly, showcasing the immersion ceremony from Ichhamati River in Taki, Damodar River in Durgapur and Hooghly River in Kalna, and tour of pujos in Salt Lake and New Town (including the pujo being held for the first time at the senior citizens’ home, Snehodaya).

Initiatives already in place from last year include tours of some of the famous traditional household pujos of Kolkata and in some of the districts, Durga Pujo in the villages, heritage tram tour, waterway tour of the pujos, trip to Jayrambati and Kamarpukur, and watching immersion from vessels.

Both air-conditioned (AC) and non-AC buses are available depending on the nature, fare and places covered by the tours.

The North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) is increasing the number of buses to tourist spots like Darjeeling, Dooars, Sikkim and Bhutan.


WBTDCL to organise river cruises on the occasion of Durga Puja

As in previous years, the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Ltd will be organising river cruises along the Hooghly as part of its ‘Pujo Parikrama’ this year on the occasion of Durga Puja.

There will be two categories of cruises – leisure cruise and a cruise for viewing immersions (bishorjon) of idols at Babughat. All the cruises will commence from the New Babughat Jetty. The leisure cruise will be accompanied by cultural programmes on board.

Bookings for the cruises have already started. All bookings have to be done online.

There is also a 24-hour toll-free helpline: 1800 2121 655


Morning Cruise: On October 5, 6 and 7, from 10am to 1pm, at Rs 1,500 per head per trip (including lunch and tax)

Click here to book

Evening Cruise: On October 5, 6, 7 and 8, from 6pm to 9pm, at Rs 1,700 per head per trip (including dinner and tax)

Click here to book

Immersion Trips: On October 9 and 10, at Rs 800 per head per trip (including snacks and tax)

Slot I: From 6pm to 7.30pm

Click here to book

Slot II: From 8pm to 9.30pm

Click here to book


Appeal to the authorities not to impose such tax or TDS or ‘Jijia’ tax on any puja committees or any festival: Mamata Banerjee

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to social media to inform that CBDT has issued a Press Release clarifying regarding notices to Durga Puja Committees for puja tax, which is popularly known as ‘Puja Jijia Tax’. She appealed to the authorities not to impose such tax or TDS or ‘Jijia’ tax on any puja committees or any festival.

Here is the text of her full post:

“I have come to know just now that CBDT has issued a Press Release clarifying regarding notices to Durga Puja Committees for puja tax, which is popularly known as ‘Puja Jijia Tax’.

I would like to share with all of you that in the name of so-called Press Release, they have made certain claims which themselves prove that they are factually incorrect.

In fact, Income Tax authorities sent notices to Puja Committees last year regarding event management including ‘Dhaki’, ‘Purohit’, small and village artisans engaged in arts and crafts working in pandals for collecting tax from them through puja committees by way of TDS, which is as good as ‘Terrible Disaster Scheme’.

This is, undoubtedly a huge burden on them.

CBDT clarification that no notices have been issued for this year makes little sense. It is only obvious that for pujas held this year, notices will only be issued next year, which is as per their scheme of tax assessment. So, the clarification itself proves that the imposition of tax very much stands. Then, why misleading?

The Press Release is a sheer distortion of facts with an aim to create confusion in the minds of local people and puja committees and perpetrate mental tension.

This is also an attack on our culture and on our Durga Puja festival. I do not know whether this is being done knowingly or unknowingly, but it is certainly of bad taste, especially when people of all religions, caste, creed participate in our Durga Puja, which is just like a national festival. Any such taxation should be totally withdrawn and the festival should be allowed to be celebrated with its usual fervour.

My humble submission and appeal to the authorities would be not to impose such tax or TDS or ‘Jijia’ tax on any puja committees or any festival.”

Here is the link to her Facebook post.

Bangla CM slams BJP’s politics of hate and discrimination

Bangla Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today slammed the BJP for its politics of hate and discrimination. She was speaking at the Khelashree award ceremony. She said an atmosphere of fear prevailed in the country. CBI is hounding anyone who criticizes the BJP.

She also said that sting operations are being organised for money. From computers to internet, mobile phones to banks, even the privacy of people was under attack, she commented.

Highlights of her speech:

Industry is suffering due to GST and demonetisation. Sports and cultural fields are the biggest sufferers due to lack of sponsorship.

They are creating hurdles if someone wants to help the clubs. CBI is hounding them. People are afraid.

Do not be alarmed. Law will take its own course. They want to use state machinery for their political gain; this cannot be allowed.

They are spending money to conduct sting operations. They are recording personal conversations of friends, married couples, journalists, judges, industrialists.

From computers to internet, mobile phones to banks, even the privacy of people was under attack, she commented.

We organise Durga Puja, Christmas, Eid, Buddha Purnima. We all participate in festivities. This is our pride.

In Bangla, even if we have to starve, we will share our food with others. We want our youths to conquer the world. They are our pride.

We love our country and we will not allow anyone to divide it.

Someone’s surname cannot become their identity.

We believe in the ideology of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Netaji. We believe in the philosophy of Rabindranath and Nazrul. We believe in unity and harmony.

Does anyone ever ask whether Gandhiji was Gujarati or Bengali? No. Gandhiji was Gandhiji. Someone who takes everyone along can become the leader of the nation.

This country is our pride. Bangla’s soil is the purest. Where else can you find soil enriched with such purity? This soil taught us the meaning of freedom. This soil taught us about the renaissance. We must maintain the dignity of this land.

Let the new generation come forward. Even Swami Vivekananda used to say that playing football is an easier way to reach God instead of reading the Gita. Sports promote an environment of harmony and culture.

The Indian Cricket team has seen the captaincy of Md Azharuddin as well as Sourav Ganguly. Have we ever questioned whether they are Bengali or Hindu or Muslim? We work together in harmony.

Those who are the citizens of this country cannot be called foreigners. We are all citizens of this country. We vote; we all hold bank accounts. If one cannot provide their birth certificate of their parents, are they not citizens of the country? This is what is happening in the country. New agendas are being chalked up to discriminate against the people.

To become a citizen (as per the new Bill), one must be considered as a foreigner for the first six years; only then can one receive citizenship. This is the provision. These are election tactics, don’t believe them. Till the time we are alive we cannot be intimidated with such tactics.

If something happens to one person, another will stand up for him/her. People’s court is the highest court. Let everyone live in peace.

Kolkata Police’s ‘Bandhu’ app to help Durga Puja pandal hoppers

Like every year, Kolkata Police has unveiled the guidemap for Durga Puja 2018. Live information about 1,800 puja pandals will also be available from the ‘Bandhu’ app. Apart from ‘Bandhu’, people can also track waiting time and queues from the ‘Utsav’ app.

Kolkata Police has planned to come up with live streaming of some major puja pandals throughout the city, during this year’s Durga Puja. The number of ‘Bandhu’ app users has crossed 2.5 lakh. This year, people can monitor live information about almost 1,800 puja pandals throughout the city.

Apart from ‘Bandhu’, another app called ‘Utsav’ was also introduced a few years ago for Durga Puja. Kolkata Police has also informed that the ‘Utsav’ app has now been upgraded with some new features. Through this app, people can easily track the locations of the pandals and can find the ways to reach them.

Also, a new section has been added in the app for the puja committees. From now on, puja committees will be able to upload details of their pandals such as theme, attraction details, images and many more on the app. This would help them to attract more pandal hoppers.


Tourism promotion in housing complexes during Durga Puja

Bengalis are known for their penchant for food and travel. So, what better time to promote the tourist spots in Bengal, than the four days of Durga Pujo? With this thought in mind, the State Tourism Department has come up with an innovative idea.

To cater to tourists in Kolkata, the State Tourism Department has decided to go for direct promotion in housing complexes. Twenty-six of the big housing complexes have been selected for the purpose.

The promotion would be in the form of banners and hoardings. Some of the complexes, which play host to a large number of people, would also be visited by Tourism Department officials.

A similar plan is being made for the big puja pandals, where lakhs of people converge on each of the festival days.

Source: Bartaman

State Transport Dept to run 500 extra buses daily during Durga Puja

The State Government has decided to run extra buses during Durga Puja for the convenience of commuters. Nearly 500 extra buses will be run daily during the festive season. Enough buses will be made available to commuters from afternoon till evening in Kolkata and suburbs. Even the night bus service will be augmented.

The State Transport Department will run 1200 buses daily from Chaturthi till Nabami. A control room will also be set up to help commuters in distress. Apart from metro and railway stations, shuttle services will be set up at major intersections of the city.

Shuttle services will be run on Garia-Gariahat, Howrah-Sealdah, Shyambazar-Barrackpore, Karunamoyee-Sealdah, Tollygunge-Thakurpukur, Tollygunge-Behala routes, among others. Trams will be run at night too.

It may be mentioned that the department has launched a special ‘all day ticket’ for commuters for the festive season. Valid for 24 hours, this ticket will enable commuters to undertale any number of rides on buses, trams, vessels that day from Barrackpore-Barasat in the north to Thakurpurkur-Baruipur in the south and Newtown in the east till Howrah in the west. Tickets will be valid on vessel rides between Ariadaha to Millennium Park jetties.

Durga Puja: Cold storage network coming as a boon for lotus cultivators

The chain of cold storages built by the State Government over the last few years is coming as a help for Durga Puja too. Flower traders and cultivators from across the State are finding them very convenient for storing lotus flowers, which are a very important part of Durga Puja.

In fact, 50 lakh lotus flowers are going to be supplied to puja organisers, by a lakh of cultivators. To ensure no shortage, it is quite essential to start storing them weeks ahead of the Puja.

For Durga Puja, lotuses also get exported to other States, and for this reason too the cold storages are coming as a boon. The demand for lotuses from the State remains high across the country as the flowers are of a superior quality.

In recent times, multipurpose cold storages have been set up at Bagnan in Howrah district and at Panskura in Purba Medinipur, the two places which are the major flower producing regions in Bangla.

According to a senior official of the State Government, steps are being taken to further develop infrastructure to support flower cultivators.

Source: Millennium Post

Image Source

Online licence application at all RTOs, ARTOs before Pujas

Soon, you can apply for a driving license online. This facility will be rolled out at all the Regional Transport Offices and Assistant Regional Transport Offices before Durga Puja.

At present there are as many as 50 offices across the State from where driving licence is given to applicants following necessary tests. Of these, the facility of giving online application to get driving licence is available at 28. One more office of ARTO is coming up in Katwa in September, bringing the total to 51.

Now the department has planned to extend the facility of online application to all the 51 offices.

Source: Millennium Post