Kolkata, 16 February : West Bengal State finance minister Asim Dasgupta was guarded while reacting to the Indian Interim Budget presented by Pranab Mukherjee on Monday. The usually vocal Dasgupta, who would otherwise either dub a budget as "populist", "anti-" or "pro-people", made it a point to describe the Budget as a "worrying" one.
According to Dasgupta, this concern of the states has not been reflected in the Interim Budget. Moreover, the finance minister said, the figures of central Plan outlay for ministries like rural development and urban development indicate a fall in the budget estimates for the next fiscal in comparison with revised estimates of the current year, 2008-2009.
Agartala, 16 February : Terming the interim budget of the central government a 'poll lollipop', the Left Front government in Tripura Tuesday said it largely neglected the northeastern region.
The budget is 'a political agenda ahead of the general elections and no programme to deal with the crucial economic issues of the northeastern region in view of the slowdown', Tripura Finance Minister Badal Chowdhury told reporters.
Siliguri, 16 February : Residents of South Dinajpur fear a bird flu outbreak following the death of hundreds of chickens in the Harirampore block in the past couple of days. About 400 chickens have died in Baromahar village under Bairhatta panchayat in two days. All the dead birds showed symptoms of bird flu. On Sunday, 16 chickens of a villager, Hussein Ali, died.
While the reports of the blood samples sent to Bhopal are awaited, the district administration has started making the preliminary arrangements for culling. DM Ashoke Banerjee said: "The blood samples have been sent to the Bhopal laboratory from Belgachia. However, department of Animal Resource has asked us to make all the necessary arrangements for culling. On Monday, 20 more chickens died in Bairhatta."
'For the past few years we have not been experiencing winter in West Bengal. This environmental change is caused by the formation of the Asian Brown Cloud,' environmentalist Pranabesh Sanyal, who is also a member of the World Conservation Union, told IANS. 'The cloud has been formed due to increasing automobile pollution in the air, carbon soot (or particulate carbon) and chemicals used in the agriculture sector.'
'Massive use of inorganic fertilisers and automobile byproducts lead to nitrous oxide emission in the air. This has caused the formation of an atmospheric brownish haze layer over a vast portion of South Asia,' he said.
As far as the brown cloud impact is concerned, India ranks first in the entire South and Southeast Asian region with Malaysia and Indonesia in second and third positions respectively, he added. In satellite images, the cloud appears as a giant brown stain hanging in the air over much of Asia and the Indian Ocean every year between January and March.
Rangpur, 16 February : The Rangpur region in the northwest experienced mild tremors in the early hours of Monday. The 30-second earthquake at 1:35 am measured 4.0 on the Richter Scale, said Rangpur seismic station officer Mominul Islam.
The tremors were felt in the northwestern districts of Rangpur, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat, Islam said. Meteorologist Najmus Saquib of the met office, which houses the capital's central seismic laboratory, said the quake's epicentre was located in the neighbouring Indian state of Assam.
"The money will be allocated for the welfare of the ultra poor, orphans, homeless and handicapped people," Bangladesh social welfare minister Enamul Haque Mostafa Shahid said.
World Bank's Xian Zhu said the Bank has been working in developing the social safety net, which was why the organisation decided to provide $90 million more this year.