KOLKATA: The West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination Board is set to introduce sweeping changes in the counselling process to engineering, architecture and pharmacy streams this year. In the upcoming e-counselling, students can opt for three rounds, and must lock their choice at the end of each round. They will not be allowed to opt for a stream they had opted for in an earlier round once they have changed their choice.

Among some other important features introduced by the board is that a candidate would be allowed to accept an offer, but with the option of upgrading to a more in-demand stream of his/her choice. “The candidate needs to pay a seat acceptance fee of Rs 5,000 for government institutes and Rs 40,000 for private institutes,” said Kar. If a candidate accepts the allotted seat, pays the requisite fee and opts for upgrade, his/her allotment could be upgraded within the current cycle or the next. Once upgraded, the candidate has only two options: either accept and freeze the upgraded seat, or select further upgrade.

Once upgraded, the candidate cannot go back and not accept it. The earlier seat is automatically cancelled and allotted to other deserving candidates. If the candidate cannot accept the upgrade or pay the differential fee, both seats would be eliminated and awarded to someone else in the queue.
This year, a record 99% of the candidates will get rank cards, which allow students with positive marks to take part in counselling, the tentative date for which is August 12.
The government has also limited the counselling rounds to three, after which mop-up rounds may take place.
The top-10 merit list announced by the WBJEE Board on Friday was a re-run of last year’s, with just one student from the West Bengal Higher Secondary Council bagging a slot. CBSE students bagged most of the top-100 ranks, reviving the debate about whether city students were advantaged because of coaching centre-centric exam patterns, at the expense of HS candidates.
Partha Pratim Biswas, a professor of construction engineering at Jadavpur University, said there was not much correlation with board exams in competitive exams. “The first 10 merit list, or even the predominance of other states’ students suggests that it is coaching-centric success. All JEE exams are a test for elimination and not evaluation,” he said.
Board vice-chairman Dilip Mitra said: “In WBJEE 2020, 99% of the candidates — the highest ever — will be given rank cards, which proves that those who took the test were serious about taking up the programme.”
For all seats, except those reserved for JEE (Main), rank-holders will not have to pay any registration fees this year. Till last year, Rs 500 was charged for participating in the counselling. “There will be at least three rounds of counselling and allotment of seats. The residual vacancy report will be generated at the end of each round. This is the first time that fresh candidates can register at the beginning of each round,” said Dibyendu Kar, WBJEE Board registrar.
Kar said that a candidate who fails to lock his/her choice within the pre-announced deadline will not be given any allotment in the current cycle, but will be considered for the next one. He/she will then have the opportunity to submit a choice in the next cycle. “This feature was unavailable till last year. Candidates can participate from any round of their choice. But as the rounds progress, the options will become limited,” Kar pointed out.



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BHATPARA: Party offices in the Bhatpara-Kankinara stretch of North 24 Parganas have become vulnerable with changing political equations in the district ever since Arjun Singh dumped Trinamool and won the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket. The change of political colours has sparked street fights and violence, the latest on Thursday night.
At least five people suffered splinter injuries after miscreants hurled bombs and opened fire in Ramnagar Colony of ward 10 of Bhatpara Municipality to wrest control of a Trinamool-turned-BJP office. Barrackpore Police rounded up 10 people in this connection. Police commissioner Manoj Verma visited the spot on Friday.
Trouble broke out after a group of Trinamool supporters raided Ramnagar Colony to regain control of the BJP office that was once theirs. Local Trinamool leaders alleged BJP had occupied as many as 38 of their party offices soon after Arjun’s poll win.
BJP supporters were in no mood to give Trinamool a walkover. “Rivals fought each other with bombs and bullets, turning Ramnagar Colony into a battle zone,” a local said.
BJP’s Barrackpore president Umashankar Singh put the blame on Trinamool. “The armed Trinamool goons targeted our supporters at Naihati’s Goalafatak. They then tried to capture a BJP office in Bhatpara but had to beat a retreat,” he said.
Senior Trinamool leader and councillor Mahammad Maksud Alam said: “BJP supporters were creating ruckus in Ramnagar area on Thursday on the plea of holding a picnic. Trinamool supporters came under attack when they tried to prevent the chaos.”
Bombs were also hurled at the Trinamool office in Naihati’s Mamudpur on Friday.



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KOLKATA: A 66-year-old man was reportedly charred to death in his room around 5.15am on Friday. The incident was reported from the B-block of Nandankanan in Santoshpur.
The victim, Pradip Roy, a retired central government employee, had been asleep in his room alone on the first floor of a three-storey building.
Two other family members of Roy, who were sleeping in other rooms, got a burning smell and rushed to his room. “Though the victim got up, his room was already in flames. He could not save himself. We suspect that a short circuit might have caused the inferno. But we also found a cylinder leaking. We are trying to ascertain the cause behind the fire,” said a police officer. The victim was rushed to Baghajatin State General Hospital where he was declared dead. A case has been registered at the Survey Park police station in this regard.



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KOLKATA: After prohibiting international flights from landing in Kolkata for over a month, the state government on Friday eased the restrictions by allowing international charter flights to operate with only Covid-negative certified passengers on board.

While the embargo on Vande Bharat flights will continue, the decision will come as a huge relief to those from Bengal and other eastern states who have been stranded in different parts of the globe for over four months now. It will also enable airlines and travel agents to join hands to float charter flights with no fare cap.
In a letter to the ministry of external affairs, the state government announced a revised SOP for charter flights carrying Indian nationals from abroad to Bengal. “The state government has decided that presently only charter flights carrying stranded Indian nationals from abroad having a negative test report (RT-PCR) conducted within 96 hours of flight departure may land at airports in Bengal,” the letter stated.
Four days ago, the health ministry had issued fresh guidelines for international arrivals wherein passengers flying to India from August 8 can skip institutional quarantine if they submit Covid-19 negative reports. This test should be done within 96 hours prior to undertaking the journey. Passengers without the negative report will continue to be quarantined.
When the paid quarantine rule was introduced, the state had empanelled several hotels. On Thursday, the health department issued a list of 27 hotels with 1,436 rooms for self-quarantine, hinting at possible resumption of international flights. While the latter proved true, quarantine will no longer be required as the government has made it mandatory for all arriving passengers to produce the Covid-negative report.
The move, while continuing to impose restrictions on Vande Bharat repatriation flights, will allow airlines and travel agents to cobble together allowances and run charter flights to fly home stranded people. Fares though could hit the roof with tickets from Dubai costing Rs 40,000-50,000. “There is a huge demand from the Gulf and South East Asia. Trade bodies like Travel Agents Federation of India, Travel Agents Association of India and the Airlines Operators’ Committee have been pushing for this and we are glad the government has responded,” said TAFI chairman (east) Anil Punjabi.
Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee said: “We are glad international flights will operate again. There has been a lot of queries from Indians stranded abroad on when flights will resume. Now they will have an opportunity to fly back.”



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