Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday distributed prizes among 13 schools from across the state and conferred ‘Siksha Ratna’ on the professors from various colleges and universities on the occasion of Teachers’ Day at Netaji Indoor Stadium.Banerjee said that the teachers play the role of guardians in schools and contribute towards the building of the nation. “I salute the teachers who prepare our future generations by providing them education and values. They are the backbone of our nation. We still remember the teachers who once taught us in various levels of our student days. We bow our head in respect when we meet our teachers. We celebrate the Teachers’ Day on the birth anniversary of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan,” Banerjee said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaShe also said that the state government has been working amidst various adversities caused by the Centre as they are denying funds for various projects. She also assured the teachers that the state government will try its best to meet their requirements, but the fund crunch has posed a serious challenge for the government. “In the last 8 years we have had some bitter experience. This year we have to pay a debt of Rs 55,000 crore to the Centre. How would you meet all the demands when the losses incurred by the government far outweigh the income of the state? In this economic situation, how would we provide cycles to the students under Sabuj Sathi scheme? How would we run Kanyashree project, Swasthya Sathi project and Khadya Sathi project when the state faces severe fund crunch? We can still proudly say that in last 8 years, we have run all the schemes,” Banerjee stated while addressing the gathering. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway”The Centre promises to provide fund in the ratio of 50/50. After the projects start, the Centre withdraws its share and stops providing funds. But we cannot stop the projects and hence we have to bear the whole economic burden of the projects. We had to pay 80 percent of the total amount of the crop insurance project. They have now stopped disbursing their share. Never think that we are not denying your rights. If we had enough money, we would have provided it to you,” the Chief Minister told the teachers who attended the programme. Banerjee’s comment comes at a time when some of the Opposition parties are accusing the government of not providing the dearness allowances at par with the Centre. “We have no problems in meeting your demands but how can we generate funds? The Centre has been deducting a huge amount of money as cess, customs duties and others. They take Rs 40,000 crore from us. In return they used to provide us Rs 8,000-9,000 crore but that has been stopped as well,” Banerjee stated. “We do not take water tax. We have made health services completely free. We provide subsidy of Rs 27 per kg of food grains that are being distributed under Khadya Sathi scheme. The state government’s capacities are limited. Other state governments have stopped pensions of teachers and other government employees. We are still providing pensions, as otherwise it would have an impact on the employees,” she said. It may be mentioned here that Congress leader Omprakash Mishra, who joined Trinamool Congress on Wednesday, was among the recipients of ‘Siksha Ratna’.
An animal rescue group is working to rehome more than 100 small birds found in a foreclosed house in Ottawa.Jill Woods, who runs the Feathered Haven Parrot Rescue in Smiths Falls, Ont., said the birds — 106 finches and two canaries — were rescued from a “hoarding situation” on Sunday.She said a family member of a woman evicted from the home last week contacted the Wild Bird Care Centre in Ottawa, which then contacted Feathered Haven.Woods said it took a co-ordinated effort to get the birds out of the home, where some of the finches were in cages and others were flying free.Volunteers had to use blankets like nets to corral the free-flying birds into cages to be rescued, she said.“At one point there were 24 of us, including people keeping vehicles warm in case birds needed emergency transport,” Woods said in a phone interview Wednesday.The rescued birds weren’t in good shape, Woods said. Two have since died and the rest are being monitored by vets, she said.“Finches eat an awful, awful lot. They’re small, they’re very hyper. We found dishes of what looked like seed, but it was actually just husks. They had eaten the seeds,” she said of the scene in the home, adding that seeds alone don’t have enough nutritional value to keep birds healthy.“They were stressed. The woman had been locked out of her home on Thursday, so a stranger had been trying to go in and feed them water.”Woods said she opted not to contact authorities to report the birds’ former owner for negligence because it seemed as though mental illness may have been involved.She said 10 birds have been seen by a veterinarian so far with more still to go. Veterinary fees are already at $1,700, Woods said, adding that the rescue group is struggling to keep up with costs.After the birds are cleared by vets, Woods said she’ll have to wade through adoption applications looking for people with a good understanding of finches’ needs.It’s a huge undertaking, she said.“It has to be done, though,” she said. “It’s just one of those things in life.”
HALIFAX — The Canadian Hurricane Centre says hurricane Dorian is expected to spin into Atlantic Canada this weekend as either a Category 1 hurricane or a strong tropical storm, churning out sustained winds up to 130 kilometres per hour.“It’s probably going to be a big deal,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Ian Hubbard.“It’s going to be a very significant wind event. We’re a few days away from it, so we still have to work on the details.”Hubbard, who works at the hurricane centre in Halifax, said the storm is forecast to track along the U.S. eastern seaboard to North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras on Friday and move near Nova Scotia on Saturday, then on to Newfoundland on Sunday.A Category 1 hurricane produces sustained wind speeds at 119 kilometres per hour or above, reaching Category 2 at 154 kilometres per hour.According to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Category 1 hurricanes can break large tree limbs, pull off shingles and vinyl siding and topple trees with shallow roots. That means widespread power outages are a key concern for emergency planners.Heavy rainfall is expected, especially north and west of Dorian’s track, which means the biggest downpours will likely be along the southern Maritimes on Saturday and parts of Newfoundland on Sunday.“We want to make sure people are paying attention to our forecasts and basing their decisions on that,” said Hubbard. “There is still a lot of uncertainty in (Dorian’s) track. We can’t pin down exactly where it’s going to go at this point.”However, Hubbard said it would be a mistake for people in the region to focus on Dorian’s precise track, given the fact that the storm appears to be expanding.“The impacts of this storm will reach well beyond the eye or the storm centre,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of wind over a lot of areas, regardless of whether you are close to that centre or if you’re a couple hundred kilometres away.”Environment Canada says most parts of Atlantic Canada will experience tropical storm force winds, which exceed 63 kilometres per hour.However, Dorian’s course and strength could change significantly in the days ahead, especially if it makes landfall in the United States.The latest computer models indicate Dorian could head out to sea as it moves toward Nova Scotia, or it could shift northward into southern New Brunswick and the eastern edges of Quebec and southern Labrador.As of Wednesday, the hurricane centre started issuing bulletins every six hours.As Dorian left behind a trail of destruction in the Bahamas, rescue crews fanned out Wednesday to find survivors amid a landscape of splintered homes and submerged streets.The official death toll on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama stood at seven but was certain to rise as emergency workers had yet to reach some areas.Though Dorian remained off the Florida shoreline, largely sparing the state, its 165 km/h winds were expected to take a heavier toll on Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday.An estimated three million people in the four states were warned to clear out. Highways leading inland were turned into one-way evacuation routes.As for tropical storm Gabrielle, which developed in the middle of the Atlantic late Tuesday, it poses no immediate threat to Canadian territory, Hubbard said.— With files from The Associated PressMichael MacDonald, The Canadian Press